A Madness

AMadness-web-600The first book in the cycle introduces readers to Rialta, the Lady of Gwynyr, plus multiple members of the 2nd Clydish Regimental Group:

  • General Barney Alt, the unit’s eccentric Gheraldic commander
  • John Tera, a long-suffering enlisted judge and scout archer
  • The impeccable Major Bowman Archer, executive officer and foil
  • and Sergeant Seamus Dannan, the gifted son of Gwynyrian exiles

Their story takes place near the height of the Western Wars, an era marked by conflict between the fading Gheraldic Empire and the emerging continental empire of Korvish-Sopka.

Gherald, a small island nation of sailors and traders, founded the first overseas colonial empire, landing imperial infantry on distant shores and quickly subduing local populations. But when Gherald tried that trick on the northern shores of Darbas, a small southern continent, the native Clydes fought waged a brilliant campaign that pushed the Gheraldic legion to the brink of disaster. Unable to win Darbas by conquest, Gherald absorbed it through a series of treaties, agreements and secret deals.

In the centuries that followed, Darbas has grown to see itself as a partner in the Gheraldic Empire. But Darbas is neither Gheraldic nor a colony of Gherald, and that poses problems at home, as well as in the distant Court of Arnell. For while the three ethnicities of Darbas share the land and tend to live peacefully intermingled, the favors of the Gheralds established the Clydes as first among equals. They have often lorded their power over their DuQaddish and Mullaqat neighbors, and old resentments fester.

Meanwhile, in the Gheraldic court, the most powerful of Houses has learned a secret that will change the fate of the planet. In a world without iron, to possess steel is to possess power. And agents of the House of Proxmire have learned that there are iron mines — and advanced steel forges — in the remote highlands of Gwynyr. To acquire those resources would not only tip the global balance of power back away from Korvish-Sopka, but make the Lord Proxmire very, very rich.

The problem? Darbas remains independent, not subject to Gheraldic edict. And with the secretive Gwynyrians surrounded by suspicious neighbors, Proxmire’s best play is to turn the peoples Darbas against each other in a bid to invite imperial protection. For once the independence of Darbas is given, Gherald will be only a few steps removed from control over that Gwynyrian steel.

For Rialta, prophecies suggest a difficult path. For in addition to the iron in the western hills of Llyr, her Gwynyrian priestesses also hide the secrets of a forgotten world. Her task, as foretold in vague ancient texts, is to unite Darbas and install a new and more enlightened world order.