Now, as administrative tasks continue behind-the-scenes, I’m more than happy to share that my manuscript is in fact finalized, and to share not only excerpts (coming next week!), but pieces of what you can expect as the lore expands and continues in this sequel, In the Frigid Ruins! Most importantly, we get a few new and fresh perspectives brought into the picture — some by supporting characters in A Return to the Ashes that you know and love (or not) that you’ll get to dive deeper with, and others by new or Easter egg’ed characters you’ll get to explore different corners of the Continent with!
Speaking of the Continent, we’ve only really focused on a few areas. Is there more? Of course! We’ve got:
Read on for more!
WARNING: SPOILERS for A Return to the Ashes included here!
In the first book, I hinted at about 11 kingdoms on the Continent, but mainly focused on three nations — Apasia and Padaure in the Northwest, and the Allied Cities of Lebiros in the South. In this sequel, I’ll still be keeping them in mind — you hear of them through some characters, and travel with Lumina and her subordinates through the mountains as they relocate their Phoenix camps.
However, you’ll also get a good look at the world of Marestra — a kingdom taking up the entire southeastern block of the Continent, it’s one of the most powerful realms, and definitely the most ambitious. Its military might is rivaled only by another Southern kingdom, Inecor, a large southwestern kingdom known mostly for its agricultural exports and wide swaths of farmland, but with enough people that, combined with the other three nations in the South (Nocenia, the Allied Cities of Lebiros, and the Ports of the South) have balanced out Marestra’s power and held them back from taking more territory.
With these new kingdoms, we’ve got to expect new perspectives too! Here’s where we bring in some new royalty.
- Prince Dragan of Marestra — the middle child of the Princes of Marestra, who has to face the prospect of killing both his beefy older brother and his once-innocent younger brother, who is about to turn eighteen in the Festival of the Fights, a fight-to-the-death that determines the kingdom’s next heir. (More on that in a later post!) His life is on the line, but he questions whether or not it’s worth it to even try — as he carries on a longtime relationship with his father’s advisor, finds no interest in power and dominance over others, and knows he will not be able to bring himself to find women appealing despite the tradition of harems that surround the Marestran Kings to help create heirs. On the other hand, he faces the love of his mother, and uses that as his motivation to push forward and prepare for the festival.
- New Anonymous Character — this time, rather than the dear Phoenix leader, we get a direct insight into what it’s like to grow up in royal life, and the difficulties that even women of royal status were not immune to as their men headed off to war. It also tells the beautiful friends-to-lovebirds story of a Southern Princess and the complications that come up as she faces womanhood, and the question of whether she will balance her father’s wishes for continued national peace, or her own wish for a loving marriage.
You’ll also get to pick the brains of some familiar characters as well:
- Prince Kenric of Apasia — you know him. You may not love him. But he’s the late Prince Merek’s stuttering, awkward younger brother, who killed Merek as the latter’s monster form approached Letta, before she ran off. We’ll dive in to the psyche of the Prince as he faces the potential inheritance of the crown, and as his family tries to navigate such arrangements while trying to find the missing Padaurean-Apasian Princess.
- Vitor — an ambitious, bright-eyed young man who knows his way with the ladies, Vitor joined the City Council for his hometown Midstad, the largest of the Allied Cities of Lebiros. Having never left the place, and previously only seeing the good that the Council has brought, he finds himself disturbed as he faces not only the darker side of the politics involved in upward movement, but also the darker side he didn’t realize he had, as he tries to come to terms with the ugly actions of his recent past.
Easter Egg’ed Characters
In honor of one of my favorite holidays of the year coming up — Pascha — I figured I’d also share some Easter eggs, in the form of subtle characters mentioned in the first book that you can learn more about in this sequel! Even if we don’t see their perspective directly, we get the chance to further explore them through the story, and learn to love — or hate — them.
- Tomila — the most sadistic of the Phoenix scouts, she’s been tasked with essentially babysitting Letta and learning how to deal with a Princess in her presence. Needless to say, it takes a lot of patience, especially for a no-nonsense assassin like her.
- Osbert — our favorite farmer’s boy, he’s the best friend of Jasper and Anghel, and does what he can to help his friends navigate the chaos left behind by the Prince’s death, even to his own detriment.
- Alut — cynical and sarcastic, this Phoenix scout is thrown into handling the Princess as well, and his patience with her is even shorter than that of Tomila, leaving not much room for sympathy for either party.
- Codrin — a charming and cunning Advisor to the King of Marestra, this man came from humble origins in northern Marestra (what was once southern Eputer) and has done all he could to keep climbing up the ladder of success, and he is more than willing to bend his moral code to keep his now-high status locked in.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek — and there’ll be a couple of excerpts coming soon for you to get an even closer look before I officially publish next month! If there’s any other kind of content you’d be interested to see, or any characters you want me to dive deeper in, comment below and let me know!
AND if you haven’t yet, go pre-order In the Frigid Ruins from nadinapopoviciu.com/shop before it’s too late — pre-orders will close on April 30th!