When kingdoms clash, every crown will be tarnished by the bloody price of ambition. In a divided kingdom, some will do anything to seize the crown. Canadian-born Karen Miller joins us to tell us about her epic new fantasy series that starts with her latest novel, The Falcon Throne.
A BASTARD LORD, rising up against his tyrant cousin, sheds more blood than he bargained for.
A ROYAL CHILD, believed dead, sets his eyes on regaining his father’s stolen throne.
A DUKE’S WIDOW, defending her daughter, defies the ambitious lord who would control them both.
AND TWO BROTHERS, divided by ambition, will learn the true meaning of treachery.
My first encounter with the fantasy genre was in 4th year primary school, when the librarian introduced me to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I’ve been reading and loving all kinds of speculative fiction since then. I think what entranced me then is what entrances me still today: the adventure, the mystery, the enchantment of differentness, the celebration of ‘what if-ness’. The glorious abandonment of the mundanities of everyday life, the freedom to explore wild imagination – and to reimagine our own histories, so we can explore what it means to be human.
What is the Falcon Throne?
Well, if you take that literally, it’s the seat of power in the duchy of Clemen. It’s where the duke sits, and his authority is embodied. Symbolically, it’s the holy grail, you might say, of several people in the first book of the Tarnished Crown series. Because it represents the highest political power in the duchy, and the person who occupies it is the most most influential and wealthiest man in Clemen, it is an object of great desire. But for the current duke’s bastard cousin Roric, it’s also a reminder that with great power comes great responsibility. Duke Harald only sees the personal advantages of sitting on the Falcon Throne. For Balfre, the son of Clemen’s neighbouring duke, it’s a prize to be won by any means necessary. Therein lies the seed of the conflicts arising in the story.
… the most complicated personal, political, and war stuff I’ve ever tackled.”
What’s the most exciting thing about your new fantasy series?
Well, for me it’s the challenge of writing over a huge landscape with a large cast of characters, some of whom aren’t the nicest folk you’ll ever meet, as well as the most complicated personal, political and war stuff I’ve ever tackled. For the reader, I hope it’s the twists and turns of the story, the complex relationships between the characters, and the agony and ecstasy of their triumphs and defeats.
Is it daunting to construct vivid, huge, dark worlds for your readers to fall in to?
Absolutely. It’s such a balancing act, trying to keep the story moving, explore the characters’ inner lives, their outer motivations and actions, make sure the big picture of each storyline isn’t lost – blimey, keeping all the details straight is enough to do my head in! Like I said, this series is the biggest writing challenge of my life and there are times when I just want to sit in the corner and suck my thumb. But then I’ll get an email from a reader, telling me how much they’re enjoying the work, and how they’re looking forward to what happens next, and that gives me the courage to keep going.
What’s the best thing about fantasy novels?
As a writer, I love that I get to set the rules. I’m inspired by this world’s histories, but I don’t have to remain a slave to what happened. I get to mix things up a bit. As a reader, I love joining the author on a wild, imaginative ride through a world that doesn’t exist, but that I might wish really did. And for the time I’m inside the story, it does – and so do the characters who come alive on the page. Great works of fantasy entertain, but they also teach us about life, the universe and everything. That’s why I love them.