Calming the Dragon is the seventh planned novel in the “Alternate Universes” sub-series of the Shine Cycle, and the first to venture into “alternate history,” being set in a world where Alexander the Great lived longer and his empire didn’t split after his death. Today’s post is a brief introduction to this planned work.
In the alternate Earth in which Calming the Dragon will be set, Alexander didn’t die quite so young, though he didn’t live to old age, and at the time of his death his empire passed relatively intact to a single heir. At the time of this story, it still endures, though border regions have increasingly devolved autonomous authority, but there are increasing tensions between the eastern governors and the rulers of what we would call China.
The Quester arrives in the border province, and as soon as he has gotten his bearings and learned the context of the possibly-impending conflict, he sets out for the regional capital to earn a place there. Before he has established himself there, the tension erupts into open war, with both sides sending raiding parties across the border.
The Quester accompanies a delegation to negotiate a truce to the border. The legates meet peacefully with envoys from the other side, but the talks soon break down, with both sides leaving in anger, and the raids become larger skirmishes along the border.
The growing routine of skirmishes is broken by an invasion in force—I’m not sure which way (even less sure than I am of which side the Quester will find himself on, which is why the foregoing has been stated ambiguously)—but the invading army is significantly scattered and beaten back to its fortified positions behind the border, though with great difficulty.
After those exertions, both sides are inclined to at least a momentary peace, and so a truce is called and negotiations toward a treaty resume. The Quester, with a new weight to his reputation after his predictions about the course of the war came to pass as well as his feats on the battlefield, begins as a somewhat-outside observer to the talks, but as they drag on and the legates cling to their personal advantage, his patience thins and he speaks more strongly to rebuke their selfishness and move them toward a possibly-lasting accord.
Once the diplomats have come to agreement, he accompanies those who have been his comrades back to the regional capital, and then to the imperial capital, where he argues forcefully for the Emperor to agree to and abide by the treaty in all its provisions. After another lengthy and tense discussion, he agrees, and once word arrives that the other emperor has also agreed to the treaty, the Quester leaves the imperial court in search of where he is next needed.
At this point, I think that the central characters of Calming the Dragon will be the Quester and the regimental commanders and regional governors of each side. But we’ll see.
Do you have any thoughts about my plans for Calming the Dragon?