I remember that I wrote this book largely with the intention of making it the most depressing book ever – but not so depressing that you want to stop reading. It’s got an intensity too – Rafen’s future and the futures of those around him are poised on the cutting edge of a sword. Anything could change the balance. Anything could result in a fate worse than death. And yet there's hope as well - determination, sacrifice, love, and even new life.
The final draft of this book was penned over 2013, during which time I also wrote the first draft of book five. I was twenty at the time. However, I did a major edit on all of the first four Fledgling Account books earlier this year when I read a book called: Harry Potter: An Unfulfilled Destiny. The book went into all the reasons why the urban fantasy epic Harry Potter did not reach its full potential – and the greatest of these reasons was Harry. Harry has things happen to him, but he does not define them, change them, or even carve out his own way to reaching his goals. Instead, he follows Dumbledore’s plans to the end. And when Dumbledore vanishes or doesn’t reply to Harry’s messages – or dies! – Harry is completely aimless, and the students on his side are heard to be saying: “What about Dumbledore?” “What does he want us to do?” “What will we do without him?” The formulaic layout of the Harry Potter series continues throughout all seven books. Harry begins the year at the Dursleys’. He leaves the Dursleys – is very often rescued, because he has no gumption to defy Dumbledore’s ruling and decide for himself where he wants to live (Hogwarts is said to be the safest place in the world, after all) – then a lot of things happen to Harry. There is normally some object/person that makes things very difficult for him throughout the course of the book. The Philosopher’s Stone… Chamber of Secrets… Prisoner of Azkaban… it’s sad to think that in some of these books you could take the words “Harry Potter” out of the title, and you wouldn’t have lost a great deal. Then at the end of the book Dumbledore shows up and explains the plot that Harry has failed to understand so far. In book seven, even though he’s dead, this is still a role that Dumbledore fulfils, even giving Harry advice on the last step he is to take. Harry’s final words to him are something like this: “But what should I do? Tell me what I should do!” In the end, what he “should do” only turned out to be something like an “expelliarmus” spell before watching Voldemort accidentally kill himself. I have spent years adoring the Harry Potter books, and still greatly enjoy the world-building in this series. But reading A Destiny Unfulfilled showed me for the first time what the books lacked in character development.
I wanted Rafen to reach his full potential. So I did a huge edit of my books at the last minute, calling each of them back from my publisher after I’d met the deadlines for them, and reworking his development over the course of each novel. In the editing process, this was something that I kept a close eye on too. I was obsessed.
The Fourth Runi is where Rafen’s character development will count the most. At a little over halfway through the series, this is the point where you’ll see most clearly whether he’ll continue pushing through and growing in his abilities – or whether he’ll stagnate and remain essentially in his twelve-year-old state of dependency like Harry did. I know my own faults, and I know it’s far easier to let things happen to my main character (far easier to plot meticulously without leaving room for him to do things) than to let him define his own story.
I’m setting you free, Rafen. Go ahead. Purge the world with your flame. Change the course of Pilamùric history.
Thrill me, because as an author, that keeps me writing.
The Fourth Runi
Just when Rafen’s life is settling down, Sherwin – who has taken some mysterious journey alone – returns to tell him who he really is. Rafen’s titles of Fledgling of the Phoenix and Sianian Wolf have all been pointing to something he has deliberately ignored… but it’s impossible to ignore now. Angry at being cut off from the royal family and isolated with his blood father in the country, Rafen makes a move that he believes will tie him to the Sianian government and royal courts forever. Desperate to claim all that is rightfully his because of the phoenix feather he received at twelve, Rafen risks alienating Sherwin, his brother Francisco, and even Etana from himself as he pursues the life that he believes should be his… for only suffering will show him what it means to be Zion’s truest representative on the Mio Pilamùr.