Please welcome Marc Turner back to the blog! He kindly answered a few of my questions about his new book, Dragon Hunters. Read on!
Will you tell us a bit about what readers can expect from Dragon Hunters?
Readers can expect to laugh, to cry, to wear out the edges of their seats, and ultimately to finish the book with an overwhelming urge to pre-order the next in the series, Red Tide.
Oh, you wanted specifics? Well, Dragon Hunters is the second instalment in my Chronicles of the Exile series. It takes place in a different part of the same story world to book one, so you can enjoy it even if you haven’t already read When the Heavens Fall. In some ways it’s a different sort of book to its predecessor. The action in DH occurs over a much shorter period of time (just four days), and all of the characters begin in the same location, so there’s more overlapping of the different story threads. And it’s got dragons, of course.
The story takes place against the backdrop of an event called the Dragon Hunt. Once a year on Dragon Day the fabled Dragon Gate is raised to let a sea dragon pass into an inland sea. There, it is hunted by the Storm Lords, a fellowship of powerful water-mages who rule an empire called the Storm Isles. As this is happening, the current emira of the Storm Lords, Imerle Polivar is coming to the end of her tenure. But she has no intention of standing down graciously. As part of her plot to hold on to power, she instructs an order of priests known as the Chameleons to infiltrate an impregnable citadel and sabotage the Dragon Gate.
What makes Imerle a compelling character? Why do you think readers will root for her?
Imerle is the strongest water-mage to have lived for generations. She is also shrewd, ruthless and single-minded – and those are just her good traits. Imerle is determined to remain in power because she has lost everything else in her life that is important to her. As for whether readers will root for her . . . I’m not sure that they will, because she is so cold. I don’t think that matters, though, since she isn’t one of the viewpoint characters. There are four of those, and each of them will bring a different perspective to the narrative as Imerle makes her grab for power. Readers should find those characters much easier to cheer for!
Is it easier to write a second book in a series since you’ve got the “world” somewhat established?
Ordinarily I suspect it would be, but in this instance it wasn’t. As mentioned above, DH features new locations. The two main ones are Olaire – a city that is slowly sinking into the sea – and Dian – a city of cliff-side terraces and towers roofed with dragon scales. For each book in my Chronicles of the Exile series, I’ll be taking readers somewhere different. So while the cultures and the history of the world may become familiar, the settings will always offer something new.
Speaking of “worlds”… What are a few of your favorite literary “worlds”?
That’s an interesting question, because when I think about my favourite literary worlds, they aren’t generally the settings of my favourite books. For me, worldbuilding is a critical part of any fantasy novel, but it is the story, and in particular the characters, that will determine how much I enjoy a book.
That said, my favourite fantasy world was created by my favourite author, and it is the Malazan Empire from Steven Erikson’s books. It’s just crammed with civlisations, creatures and settings that I wished I’d thought of myself, and it has one of the most interesting and visceral magic systems I’ve come across. Honourable mentions also go to Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Stephen Donaldson’s The Land (from the Thomas Covenant novels). It goes without saying that whilst these are places I enjoyed reading about, I wouldn’t want to live there!
When inventing my own fantasy world, I tried to create somewhere equally colourful and menacing. I love those maps that have “Here be dragons” or something similar on them to convey an area that is dangerous or unexplored. I wanted my whole world to be like that. If the characters step off the beaten highway, they never know what they’ll find. Sometimes I don’t even know myself, but I always have fun finding out – usually at my characters’ expense.
I’d have to say spending time with the characters. As mentioned above, Dragon Hunters features a new cast, and each book in the series will introduce a couple of new faces. Whilst getting to know the new characters in DH was enjoyable, though, I kind of missed the characters in When the Heavens Fall. So it was good to welcome them back when I wrote book three.
Each of my characters is on a personal journey that runs in parallel to the action in the main storyline. So WtHF is about the attempt by a mage to overthrow the Lord of the Dead, but it is also about Romany discovering her humanity. And DH is about Imerle Polivar’s play for power, but it is also about Karmel rebuilding a relationship with her brother. Not all of my characters will get a happy ending. But I’ll enjoy walking their path with them all the same.
It’s been a while since we caught up. Have you read any good books lately? Anything you’d recommend?
I thought Michael Fletcher’s Beyond Redemption was excellent. It’s a very dark book, but it’s also packed with imagination, humour and great characterisation.
What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share?
The third book in my series is currently with my editor. It’s due out in September this year. In the meantime I’m working on the fourth book. I’ll also soon be writing a short story to feature in Fantasy Faction’s Guns and Dragons anthology.
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About Dragon Hunters:
Dragon Hunters, the sequel to Marc Turner’s When the Heavens Fall features gritty characters, deadly magic, and meddlesome gods
Once a year on Dragon Day the fabled Dragon Gate is raised to let a sea dragon pass from the Southern Wastes into the Sabian Sea. There, it will be hunted by the Storm Lords, a fellowship of powerful water-mages who rule an empire called the Storm Isles. Alas, this year someone forgot to tell the dragon which is the hunter and which the hunted.
Emira Imerle Polivar is coming to the end of her tenure as leader of the Storm Lords. She has no intention of standing down graciously. She instructs an order of priests called the Chameleons to infiltrate a citadel housing the mechanism that controls the Dragon Gate to prevent the gate from being lowered after it has been raised on Dragon Day. Imerle hopes the dozens of dragons thus unleashed on the Sabian Sea will eliminate her rivals while she launches an attack on the Storm Lord capital, Olaire, to secure her grip on power.
But Imerle is not the only one intent on destroying the Storm Lord dynasty. As the Storm Lords assemble in Olaire in answer to a mysterious summons, they become the targets of assassins working for an unknown enemy. When Imerle initiates her coup, that enemy makes use of the chaos created to show its hand.