Coming Soon - "Of Lovers Untrue"
The Third book in the Honor and Treason series
Read the first 20 pages
I have been asked where I got the idea for the Honor and Treason series. One reviewer, Chris Cobb, StrangeHorizons, got it right: English Medieval history, specifically the War of the Roses that tore apart England for several generations. It the beginning of the conflict, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, had no designs on the throne of England as far as historians can discern, but Richard II, current occupant of said throne, thought he did. Henry was the largest landowner in England. He had the resources, if he chose to rebel. Richard, in his paranoia, trumped up charges that sent Henry into exile in France. Although he was very unhappy about it, Henry accepted exile. When Richard decided to take the vast Lancastrian estates as his own, however, Henry rebelled. Quite successfully. He is known as Henry IV of England.
The Honor and Treason series will not exactly follow English history. The basic concept came from there, but 1390s England didn't have an alien warrior messiah like Zsar't'lac, who is the quintessential outsider. Not a Spock, who was pacifistic, Zsar't'lac is a genetically engineered warrior. Still, from his outsider perspective he can view the humans in their foibles and their strengths.
The series, though, isn't about an outsider commenting on human behavior. It is about what defines honor, treason, love and sacrifice.
Honor and Treason
Is it honorable to serve an Emperor who is corrupt and half-mad? If a person has sworn an oath of fidelity and service, at what point does violent, dishonorable behavior on the Emperor's part void that oath? Or if you have sworn such an oath, can it ever, in honor, be broken? Can one person, honorably, risk the well being of thousands of people who look to him for safety? Different characters in the series have different answers to these questions.
Is it treason to defect from the lands of your birth when the alternative is interstellar war? If a being has been bred specifically to lead his people, isn't leaving them the most treasonable of acts, especially if these warrior people view the war with pleasant anticipation?
What defines love? That is also one of the central core themes of the series, focusing on both human and alien approaches to the concept.
Zsar't'lac and Sing'm'li, both high-ranking warriors, are deeply in love with each other, even though Sing'm'li cannot understand Zsar't'lac's behavior, particularly towards the humans. The majority of the Hsassan, the warriors of the Norda Homelands, love Zsar't'lac. He, however, chooses the one Hsassan who loves him for himself and not because he is the messiah. Zsar't'lac has little physical beauty. Sing'm'li is a great beauty with one major flaw, his eyes are slanted, not round. It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Zsar't'lac holds that Sing'm'li's eyes are not flawed, but rather have their own unique beauty. Others see them differently.
Eivaunee Dorlan, the Henry Bolingbroke character, is flawless in his physical beauty. Emotionally, however, he is cold and sterile. With his mother's suicide when he was three, and his father living in exile, Eivaunee is raised by the Emperor who both loves and hates him. Eivaunee was raised in the royal palace, surrounded by every luxury, but without any one to truly love him. Seriie Realt, one of Eivaunee's father's mistresses, does what she can for Eivaunee, but the Emperor wants Eivaunee to be isolated and alone. The Emperor plans for Eivaunee to marry his daughter, but Eivaunee will never do that, as that will place the vast Dorlan Estates in the Emperor's control.
Eivaunee falls in love once, when he is a teenager, with Seriie Realt's daughter, Anati. The Realts are another of the great, land-owning families, and a union between the Dorlans and the Realts would be opposed by the Emperor and the other great families. Eivaunee and Anati renounce their love, but it is always there, just below the surface. Although Eivaunee denies that he has ever loved anyone--he truly loves Anati Realt, who in the first book marries someone else.
It seems then that love is simply defined in this series, but it isn't. I won't say more than that.
A thread of sacrifice runs through the books. Omani, Eivaunee's beautiful mother whom the Emperor loves, and rapes, kills herself. Suicide is an act normally associated with selfishness, but that isn't the case here. Omani kills herself to save Eivaunee, but readers will have to wait for the third book to understand why.
Zsar't'lac, in leaving the Norda Homelands, believes that he is sacrificing his chance to be Sing'm'li's mate. There will come a time when it will appear that Sing'm'li must sacrifice his honor for Zsar't'lac.
In the third book, Eivaunee prostitutes himself, literally, to try to save his dependents from the Emperor's control.
It could be said that sacrifice is an aspect of honor and certainly of love.
There are six books planned in this series. Two are currently available from Speculation Press. The third is mostly written and will be available in 2002, hopefully the first quarter.
About C. J. Merle
C. J. Merle is a pseudonym. As she is still working full time in a field that might not be comfortable with the sort of books she writes, she judged it best to use a pen name.
C. J. has been active in the Society for Creative Anachronism for over 20 years. (Given the background for the book, is that a surprise?) She has also been active in fandom for about the same amount of time. Her first Worldcon was in 1976. She began reading Science Fiction at the age of 12, with Childhood's End, and has been addicted ever since. Her preference is for space opera and complicated personalities. Her favorite authors include: Cordwainer Smith, Lois McMasters Bujold, C. S. Friedman, Henry Kuttner, Lovecraft and Poe. And she always watches Buffy, Angel, La Femme Nikita and Farscape
Her favorite past times, other than SCA and fandom, include travelling, reading, needlework, and gardening. Her favorite places can be divided into her winter and summer vacations. She always takes a winter vacation to recharge her batteries with strong sunlight. Her favorite winter locations (so far) are St. John's Island, US Virgin Islands, and the rainforests of Belize. For summer/fall, her two favorite places are Paris and the old city of Rhodes, Greece. One of her best vacations was travelling to Greece on her honeymoon and drinking from the sacred spring at Delphi.
C. J. Merle lives in the Midwest with her husband and two cats.
To read the first 25 pages of her two books, OF HONOR AND TREASON and OF DUTY AND DEATH, as well as reviews: visit www.speculationpress.com