As we get closer to the release of Gods of the Empire, I thought I’d take some time to answer some basic questions about it that might have popped into your heads.
Where did the idea for Gods of the Empire come from?
Oddly enough, the spark that led to Gods, and the rest of the Unari Empire Trilogy, is a character who doesn’t even make an appearance in this book (although he may show up in the next two). I had this idea of a character who was an exile who was growing increasingly tired of being sought out for his opinions on his former homeland. He fled the place then is put in the position of being its de facto defender.
That led to me thinking about what his homeland was like and what kind of world had grown up around it. The end product was a world with a single superpower, the Unari Empire, that has started to show signs of coming apart. The why of that was where the story for the entire trilogy began to take shape.
Where’s the center of the action for Gods of the Empire?
A lot of the book takes place around the expanse of the Unari Empire and its client states, but the heart of the Empire itself, and the story, is the capital of Cye. It’s there that Emperor Chakat sits and where Lady Belwyn begins her story. It’s also Aton’s home town and a place he has some connection to.
If you’ve read any of The Water Road Trilogy, you may recognize that I named a lot of places after musicians. Cye continues that tradition, as the name comes from a obscure (even by progressive rock standards) band from Switzerland of that name. They released one album, called, appropriately enough, Tales.
There’s even a little story in the liner notes about a character called Cye, but it doesn’t have anything to do with Gods of the Empire. I always liked the name, though, and finally found a way to put it to use.
Who are these “gods” you’re talking about?
There are gods on Oiwa, the world where this trilogy takes place. Or, at least, there were. Thousands of years before the events of the trilogy an alien race visited to the planet, setting up shop and staying for a while. Eventually they left, leaving behind various artifacts, as well as deposits of the powerful element bosonium. Why the gods left, and whether they might come back, is one of the major theological questions facing the various religions that have sprung up since their departure.
Who is Aton?
Aton Askins is one of the main characters of Gods of the Empire. Aton grew up in Cye and works as a “finder” – sort of like a private eye, but he specializes in finding things and people. He has a daughter, Kaisia, who was born the day of the blast and, as a result, is generally bed-ridden and sickly. Her mother, Mara, the love of Aton’s life, died in childbirth. All Aton wants to do in the world is care for his daughter, but his line of work makes that difficult. So when someone comes to him with a job that pays really well and would be only the first of many, he can see a settled future opening up for him and his daughter. But at what cost?
Who is Lady Belwyn?
Lady Belwyn is the other main character of Gods of the Empire. She was born in the Knurian lakeside retreat of Annanais, but came to Cye when she married Oudrick, Crown Prince to the throne of the Unari Empire. He was killed in the blast and she was seriously injured, leading to the amputation of the lower part of her right leg. As a result, she’s spent the years since the blast as a recluse, interacting with the public only when absolutely required. When the book starts she’s just starting to break out of that funk, driven to find out why the investigation into the blast hasn’t found out, after all these years, who the perpetrators were who murdered her husband.
What is “blast” everyone keeps talking about?
The blast is a shorthand way of talking about the Port Ambs bombing. Port Ambs is to the Unari Empire what 9/11 was to the United States. The town itself is a port built near Cye. Seven years prior to the events of the trilogy, the port was being opened by the Emperor Hoban III, with the Crown Prince and other in attendance, when a huge explosion ripped through crowd, killing and wounding dozens. The blast put Chakat on the throne and, in a very real sense, is where the story started.
Chakat? Who’s Chakat?
That’s Emperor Chakat to you, buddy! Chakat was the second son of Emperor Hoban III, younger brother of Crown Prince Oudrick (and, therefore, brother-in-law of Belwyn). Since he was the second born he was never raised to be prepared to become the emperor. As a result, he doesn’t really have the skills to run the Empire. Nor does he have the temperament, as he’s got a paranoid streak that expresses itself in dangerous ways. His reign has noted mainly for his repeated fruitless military excursions in pursuit of the Port Ambs bombers and his failure to identify an heir (or produce one the regular way).
That’s the basics – to find out more you’ll have to buy the book!