Shine Cycle Précis: The Snowmane Succession

The Snowmane Succession is the third planned novel in the “Alternate Universes” sub-series of the Shine Cycle, and the last of the three planned to be set in the same world as the main series. This post is a brief introduction to this planned work.

The Snowmane Succession is set in Snowmane, a coastal country in the northwest corner of the Wild Continent (in the bottom-right of the map). Unlike Transylvania, the country has been governed for decades by a single political order; unlike the Twilight Kingdom, nothing there shows any signs of significant corruption, let alone mages sinking to the Black Arts.

However, the throne of Snowmane has passed from father to son, or in the absence of descendants to other close relatives, and now the monarch is dying, and has no obvious heirs, leaving the succession open to dispute and the court in turmoil. What’s worse, the Dragon Empire seems well-placed to take advantage of the situation: raiding parties under its banner have been seen in the vast unsettled land that lies along so much of the country’s borders, and its ships have harried the long coastline.

Into this confusion rides the Quester. He is too late to do anything to prolong the king’s life, or even try to persuade him to name an heir. He is only in time to learn the basics of the situation, and then witness the king’s death—and then, after the subdued state funeral, witness the arrival of the first would-be claimants of the throne of Snowmane.

As the days pass into weeks, he has ample opportunity to see the candidates interact with each other and the court, both formally and informally. Several of the strongest and least selfish candidates have no actually legitimate claim under the kingdom’s Charter and laws, while several of those with strong and legitimate claims already show clear signs of dissipation and corruption.

After a few days of confusion, the kingdom’s royal ministers summon the Council of Electors as its Charter requires. The Quester notes with dismay that several of the electors are all-but-openly corrupt, willing to promote an illegitimate or unsuitable candidate for their own personal advantage, but some are not only honorable but insightful enough to recognize his Vaynar heritage and ask his advice.

While the Council of Electors deliberates, the Quester asks increasingly pointed questions (and perhaps threatens a martial challenge once or twice) to persuade the ineligible and least suitable candidates to withdraw, then to sharpen the contrasts between those that remain, so that by the time the Council comes to its decision, only comparatively few candidates remain, and all are united in their desire for the crown to be given to whoever would serve the kingdom best, not to whoever would profit them most.

And so, once the electors’ choice is crowned as the next king of Snowmane, the Quester departs for wherever he is next needed.

The central characters begin, as always in this sub-series, with the Quester, but will also include the most serious candidates and at least several of the electors, and probably some more ordinary citizens and members of the court.

Do you have any thoughts about my plans for The Snowmane Succession?

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