Last month, I finished my extended introduction to the “World’s-End” sub-series I plan in the Shine Cycle, my fantasy/SF series-in-early-development, with a précis of what’s still tentatively titled Revelation. Now we turn to the one sub-series I haven’t covered in such detail, which I call the “Alternate Universes” sub-series. I wrote about that sub-series as a whole in 2011, and listed the basic ideas in 2010. Today’s post is a brief introduction to Feuding’s End, the first planned work in this sub-series.
I should make clear that unlike the other sub-series in the Shine Cycle, and unlike the main series, I don’t have a definite internal chronology planned for this sub-series. I’ll probably add those set in the same world as the main series to its timeline, but Feuding’s End is only the “first” because we have to start somewhere, and it was the first in my notes. And Feuding’s End is a very tentative title.
Feuding’s End is set in Transylvania, a country (as you can see in the map of the two continents in which most of the Shine Cycle is set) in the Wild Continent just to the west of the land bridge to the Shine Continent. The time of the story is fairly early in that country’s history, just before its unification into a single polity.
Transylvania has been dominated for decades by a number of scheming and feuding spymaster-warlords, who have managed to fend off raids from the Dragon Empire in the past while still carrying on their campaigns of indirect conflict against each other. Now, however, the Dragon armies have been strengthened, as have most of their other targets (not that the Transylvanian warlords know that), so if the local situation continues as it has in the past, their defeat at Dragon hands seems inevitable, which would (not that they necessarily care) leave the Shine Continent open to Dragon armies.
But the Dragon Empire is not so strong that Transylvania could not successfully resist it by presenting a united front—something that can’t happen as long as the warlords each want to be the sole leader of that united Transylvania.
Into this fraught situation rides the Quester: a knight of the Sunshine Kingdom, wandering the world and beyond because his home country is ruled by a usurper who has not yet moved from corruption and subtle tyranny to outright treason, moving from place to place as he feels led until he is eventually called home.
He arrives at a point when the warlords’ feuding has intensified from feuding to open war, and thus his first task is to end that. Using his own personal charisma, the implications suggested by the superiority of his weapons and martial training over any others in any of the warlords’ bands, and diplomatic wit and charm, he convinces the warring leaders to honor the truce he calls and participate honestly in negotiations for a more lasting peace.
The next priority is mutual defense against Dragon raids, which have come occasionally and in limited but increasing force since his arrival. Once the warlords have agreed to work together for this purpose if nothing else, he leads and trains armed companies drawn from across the country and directs the construction of fixed defenses in places more strategically important in the fight against the Dragon Empire than in the earlier inter-warlord fighting.
Finally, once the country’s defenses are ready to meet anything the Dragon Empire is likely to send, and its leaders have experience working together, he turns to the task of building a political system that will support these defenses for generations. Given the example of his home country’s current tyrant, he’s strongly opposed to anything that would involve authority being passed primarily from parent to child or by any other blood relation. So he establishes the principle that the country’s ruler can choose his heir, but that choice must be confirmed by other leaders, who are charged strictly with ensuring the ruler’s competence and honesty, and that the confirmation process is stricter when the chosen heir is a family member or courtier.
Once the government for the whole country is up and working, and after perhaps helping its army not only repel but destroy a particularly large and strong Dragon raiding party, he feels he must return to his wanderings, and so sets off again, probably toward the east.
The list of principal characters begins, of course, with the Quester, but also includes the Transylvanian warlords and the leaders that emerge as the country changes from a patchwork of scheming city-states to a more unified nation.
Do you have any thoughts about this first-covered planned entry in my Alternate Universes sub-series?