“Battle is joined ahead and we shall soon enter it. Let your hearts be guided by your love for your kingdom. We go now to the aid of Thrylland! Help me deliver our nation to a new era of freedom!”
Thus, the Duke of Blackabbey launches the final struggle for the soul of a nation, one that threatens to pull down a weak, ineffective king, overthrow a corrupt church, or both
There is no black and white in Thrylland, only every shade of grey in between as it hurtles towards its fate. Events are driven by complex, believable characters, men and women who each look out for their own interests – sometimes selfish, often noble – and in so doing, drive the kingdom to the edge of ruin.
In a book that resonates with real world meaning, Ian H. McKinley will make you wonder if we really know why we believe the things we believe.
How far would you go to be free from religious persecution? How would you liberate your believers in a land where its state religion is so entrenched that the church enjoys the privilege of having a standing army? What if you thought the only way to disestablish the church was to pit the crown against it, weakening both and creating the conditions to install a new regime? What if your plan put thousands of lives at risk? Would you pursue your ends? These questions bubble in Charano the Bright’s mind as Prallyn stews through an unprecedented drought and heat wave.
Nerves are on edge in Thrylland’s capital city as the heat rises. The nobility is locked in a bitter, often deadly, debate on whether to constrain the king, each camp led by a duke with his own agenda. Only the Duke of Blackabbey seems to place the people’s interest ahead of his own as he protects the realm from the incursions of the Altapi, barbaric savages threatening the land’s western borders. At the same time, the Guardian Church’s prelates argue over allegations that its Ecclesiastical Guard has massacred pious followers. The only person seemingly unworried about something is King Jerryn IV, busy as he is attending the theatre.
When an unexpected spark of insurrection arises among the poor, Charano the Bright, an adherent to the Church of the Light and Dark who practices his religion in secret from fear of persecution, decides that the time is right for liberating his congregation from the dictates of the Guardian Church. In his efforts, he will be joined by the Red Fox, a part-time weapons merchant and full-time rogue, as well as his spider web of contacts, the threads of which reach the inner chambers of the Saint Garyn Temple as well as the king’s cabinet table. One final person caught in Charano’s web is torn over the significance of Charano’s vision; he will have to overcome his own sense of honour to face up to a curse that has plagued him all his life, or, live with honour but fade into irrelevance.
Against this backdrop, Siko Bikoyo, a Baranthu witch on a mission to find out why her people’s magic is dying, secretly slips into Prallyn. She has come to the city for she believes that the heatwave and brewing rancour plaguing Thrylland’s capital might have an ominous, dangerous source: a long-shrouded power that is growing in strength. She fears revealing herself for what she is and must escape the attentions of Charano’s people while nevertheless finding out what she can about the forces at play in Prallyn.
Charano the Bright is forced to contemplate a final question. What if the dynamics at play are being manipulated by someone, or something, else?
“I give this novel a five star because of the clever writing style, very believable dialogue and an intriguing story. If you like historical fantasy then this book is for you. It has all the ingredients for a delightful read.”
Allan Hudson, The South Branch Scribbler
Here are full-colour maps of the land in which The Gallows Gem of Prallyn takes place.