Thanks to Burnett Young, I am now able to see (and soon hold) something I once did not allow myself to hope for: book five, Consort to the Shadows.
It’s been a long time, but some of you will still remember the cliffhanger that The Fourth Runi finished on - Rafen had discovered he was the Fourth Runi, a great king destined to save the world from the demonic power of Nazt; he had married Etana, the heir to the Sianian throne; and together, they had had a child: Amari. However, Prince Richard Patrick - a fraud who pretends to be the Fourth Runi so that he can have the power and fame attached to the title - has captured Rafen and put him under house arrest, forcibly separating him from Etana. He is determined to have Rafen executed through various false charges so that his rival for the throne and Etana is terminated.
Consort picks up at this point. Rafen is nearly seventeen. He is older and wiser than he was in previous books, and he’s become less impetuous. However, his trials have hardened him into one of the most resolute young men to walk the Mio Pilamùr. He has prepared a killer defense for his trial before Richard Patrick and the public, and devised a back up plan in case things go wrong… and his back up plan involves a dragon.
When Richard is thwarted in his attempts to have Rafen killed, he settles for a sentence of lifetime banishment from Siana. Knowing he must prove himself to the people to dethrone the fraud Runi, Rafen departs Siana with his baby daughter and Sherwin, aiming for Zal Ricio ‘el Nria - the land of dragons. He intends to build an army there, so that he can return to Siana to rule.
More obstacles await him. The Zaldian ruler’s brother and the country’s champion dragon rider Tirok conspire against Rafen, forcing him into a deadly combat to prove himself so that the Zaldians grant him enough men to return to Siana with. Rafen has a limited amount of time to train for the most dangerous dragon fight he has ever experienced - and Tirok plans to press his advantage and kill when he has the chance.
Rafen and his dragon steed Eil must train to face their worst nightmares on dragon back. If they don’t, the Fourth Runi will fall - and so too will the world that so desperately needs him to save it.
When I do the full cover reveal, you’ll notice that this book is labeled “part one”. While it was in editing, my publisher decided it would be prudent to split the book into two. Hence, a “part two” will be coming. This means this series will effectively be eight books - not something I intended, although hopefully something that proves for the better.
Part two continues to follow Rafen’s story as an old injury he received from the Lashki Mirah in book four flares up and threatens to rob him of his kesmalic powers - and his life. His search for answers will take him right into the Lashki’s inner court, where he will need to play a part to find the secret that will save him.
The title of this book refers to several things. It’s no secret these books add another title to Rafen’s rather long list, showing a different facet of his character and his powers. Consort to the Shadows was originally named so because Rafen has to pretend to side with his worst enemy to find out the truth about a progressing injury he has. But the title can also refer to a variety of things. One who “consorts” associates with particular people. And Richard Patrick does some consorting with the shadows in this volume, which opens a window into his character and shows what makes him tick. Other people consort with the wrong characters as well, and this impacts how they treat family members, spouses, and their country. So the title has some broad meanings, and then some that apply specifically to part two.
I’m pleased to say that the book includes a spunky dragon. I hope for that reason alone that it will be enjoyed.
Bring on February 15th! (Or the 16th.)