Dance of the Rings
After I'd finished the third Groundties book, I needed a break. Stephen's story is so intense, it was giving me his nightmares! So I thought: How 'bout a book about an adult with his act together! Maybe ... a fantasy! Wow. What a concept. I've been a fan of the Jane Austen/Georgette Heyer school of historical fiction since my high school days, and if I've ever based a character on anyone or anything, Deymio was based on the Corinthian (you should pardon the expression) archetype Heyer portrayed so beautifully. He rapidly took his own form and his own past, and (despite my best efforts) acquired Problems (their names are Nikki and Mikhyel), and my editor talked me into making him under 30 (just), but if you think of him as 35 or more, so much the better.
For the society, I wanted to avoid the medieval paradigm that a handful of authors out there write as if they'd lived back then, and I wanted to do something where the people have done the human thing and taken the "magic" to a practical conclusion (meaning some portion of the population was making a buck off it). The Rhomatum Syndicate of Nodes is probably most similar to the Greco-Roman style of mind-set and social structure, but there is no consciously constructed earthly paradigm. Such a parallel would be, in my opinion, inherently flawed as the very basis for the technology (a powersource equivalent to electricity that also creates a detritus-free environment---the sewers very literally feed the power-supply) has no earthly equivalent. I took the power-source/magic, and a couple of basic premises, and worked the rest out logically from that point. Technologically, they're right on the brink of the industrial revolution, but the limitations of the powersource, whose effects are highly localized, has created a technological conservatism that has kept them from stepping across that line ... yet.
The "magic" in these books stems from that powersource. There are leylines networking all across the Rhomatum Valley and where these lines cross---the nodes---humans can tap the energy of the ley. They build Towers in which they house the rings that control and direct the energy flow, there are ringmasters to control the rings, and an on-going battle between those who consider the ley a magical gift of the gods and those who consider it a simple fact of nature to be tapped for whatever humankind can get out of it.
And just when they think they've got it figured out ... along comes Mother.
Review copies were as rare with this series as with the Groundties series, however, here is what some fellow readers say about the books. In the interest of truth in advertising, I've included links to the pages with the full reviews, good and bad. The simple fact is, what I write and the way I write it isn't everyone's cuppatea. That's one reason I'm planning on making the original Groundties series as well as several excerpts available for free. I believe there are a lot of people out there who will like it, if only they try it.
Ring of Lightning
Anheliaa Rhomandi dunMoren, Ringmaster of Rhomatum is dying. Unless she finds a replacement, when she dies, the rings will spin out of control and the power umbrella that gives light and heat to the people of the city of Rhomatum will collapse, as will the power umbrellas of Rhomatum's satellite cities, the Rhomatum Syndicate of Nodes, and while Rhomatum can exist without her satellites, they cannot maintain control without Rhomatum. Obviously, Anheliaa's impending demise is of some interest to the ringmasters of the satellites. Historically, it has required a Rhomandi to control the Rhomatum rings. Unfortunately, her obvious heirs, her great-nephews, Deymorin, Mikhyel and Nikaenor, have displayed absolutely no Talent for controlling the great leythium rings.
This is not an ideal situation.
Anheliaa, being a rather arrogant sort, and a firm believer in keeping the control of the rings in the Family, so to speak, arranges to have her nephews provide her with an heir. Unfortunately for his well-being, but fortunately for my book, Deymorin takes extreme exception to her methods. Arrogance confronts bull-headed stubbornness and the resultant explosion catapults Deymorin into an adventure filled with lies and innuendo, a bit of politics, a touch of magic ... and a little invention that could blow a city-sized hole in a leythium-based economy: a battery.
And last but far from least:
Ring of Intrigue
In this, the sequel to Ring of Lightning, the Rhomandi brothers, Deymorin, Mikhyel and Nikki, return to a city in turmoil. Their great-aunt Anheliaa hangs on to life by the slimmest of Leythium threads, and Nikki's Shatumin wife, Lidye, has assumed control of Rhomatum Tower.
The web is disintegrating, taking with it the energy upon which the economy of the entire Syndicate depends. Suspicion runs deep, both throughout the Syndicate of Nodes and within Rhomatum Tower itself. The time is ripe for Rhomatum's takeover. The only question is, who will be the first to try? Their traditional adversary, Mauritum? The Kirish'lani to the south, perhaps. Or perhaps, one of the Syndicate's own.
As Deymorin strives to resurrect defenses that have lain fallow for generations, and Nikki struggles to bring order to a city in shock, Mikhyel finds himself following a trail of secret agreements and ancient feuds---a trail that leads him from the depths of Sparingate Prison, to the teeming trade city of Shatum, and finally to the decadent courts of Khoratum, and a fight for independence that penetrates to the heart of the leythium web itself.
A comment or three...
I've become aware (I don't consciously start out to do these things---honest!) that a recurring theme in my books is the question of perception, and the wrong-headed notions we get about people by judging them before all the facts are in evidence---prejudice in its purest form. Character is, in my mind, an issue of motivation as much as action. Absolutes rarely have meaning. Oh, I have my limits, but is it murder when the death of one person saves the lives of ten? or of a thousand? or of a way of life? Is it rape if the alternative is death? In a simpler, more immediate vein, is a person 'good' when they do and say all the 'right' things solely to make someone like them?
The intense third-person viewpointing lends itself extremely well to this aspect of storytelling. Thus far, all my books have multiple viewpoints (I think I had nine in Groundties!) but as a reader once you're in them, there's no escaping the fact that you're getting a prejudiced impression of both people and events based on the background and character of the viewpoint individual. As time passes, as you see those characters and events --- even that first viewpoint character --- from other's views ... you might learn that nothing is quite as obvious as it might at first have appeared.
So, don't be surprised if you find your own, initial impression of a character slowly shifting ... sometimes 180 degrees!
Ring of Destiny
With the Northern Crescent rebellion a thing of the past, the Rhomandi brothers settle into the task of rebuilding the physical, political, and psychological infrastructure of the Rhomatum Syndicate of Nodes. To their relief, in the wake of their show of solidarity and strength in the Rhomatum Tower, they find the task simpler than they'd dared hope.
In the way of things, they find their true challenges to be closer to home. Questions of who and what rules in the Rhomatum Tower, questions of the true fate of Khoratum, questions on the nature of the ley itself, and those who dare to control it.
And underlying it all, the question of the nature of three individuals, the question of whether the tempering of the past can overcome the prejudices of the present that could prevent them from fulfilling the promise for the future.
Yes, folks, it is written. And in my opinion, the most fun of the four. Unfortunately, in the time it took me to write 'Netwalkers and Change, the publishing industry had undergone some serious changes. DAW held onto the book for a few years, hoping, I guess, that the market would change, but it's only gotten crazier. In December I got the final word that they wouldn't be able to take the risk on a series this old and with, let's face it, somewhat less than best-seller numbers.
So . . . I'm going to have to find a different way to get it to you. Coming soon, or at least before the end of the year, an e-book version will be available on the Closed Circle site and (hopefully) on Amazon's Kindle site. I'm sorry it took so long and that I can't offer you a nice hefty book to read in bed, but at least the continuing adventures of the Rhomandi Brothers will be available at last.
I see this as the first of three books that cover the years between generations: RoC: Alizant, RoC: Ardiin (Who's he? Tee hee hee.), and RoC: Jerrik. All the brothers have children and the associated problems therein. But this is really Alizant's story (remember him?) Alizant and his generators are becoming an Issue and Alizant's peculiar Talent is coming to light.
However, we haven't forgotten the brothers. Deymio's getting married, Dancer's got baby-envy, and Nikki . . . well, poor Nikki has a child with Serious Problems.
Are you ready for some teasers?