Toni V. Sweeney here. I’ve a new book coming out this month and I’d like to tell you about it. It’s not only a new novel but it’s also the first book in a new series. It’s called Sinner, the first installment in The kan Ingan Archives.
Sinner is the continuation of a Family Saga, and has a slightly unusual history (or maybe not so unusual, as these things go, read on and decide…).
Taking a breather from writing a Sword-and-Sorcery series called The Chronicles of Riven the Heretic, I finished a completely unrelated book called Blood Sin, set in the 23rd Century. By no stretch of the imagination did a medieval fantasy and this futuristic romance have anything similar. It was the story of a man exiled from his home planet for a crime he didn’t commit, kept from proving his innocence because to do so would reveal he’d committed an even worse crime. About ten years after I wrote the book, I was in an idle mood one day and looking around for something to do, and got to thinking about the background to that story. Result: I ended up writing about what happened before Blood Sin took place–of the crime he really committed, and the acts leading up to it. So the first book was actually written second. Later, after much editing and amending and a lot of cross-referencing, I changed the title to Sinner because that fit the first novel much better, and I thought one-word titles were a lot cooler and easier to remember. I then re-titled the second book Sinner’s Exile, later to become just plain Exile. ( Are you still with me?) During all this switching and re-writing, I also decided to relate the stories to The Chronicles of Riven the Heretic by having my hero (Erik Brand) be a direct descendent of the hero of The Chronicles. That necessitated a name change, so he became Arik kan Ingan, then finally, Aric kan Ingan. (If you think this is complicated, you should see what George Lucas went through with the characters of R2D2 and C3P0. They started out as real people!) Since Riven was considered the ancestor of the ruling family in the Emeraunt Galaxy, Aric became the Crown Prince of the current branch. The story came mostly out of my own imagination but I will admit to a resemblance to the ancient Greek myth of Phaedra. You know…older man, young wife, young handsome male relative…prime ingredients for disaster. That story’s been played out a thousand times in a thousand variations–especially on the daily Soaps–since Seneca the Younger wrote his drama in the 4th century BC (now you know exactly how long it’s been around!) I hope my variation on the story make it a tale readers will enjoy.
Stubborn and strong-willed, Deroes kan Ingan, Margrave of Arcanis, has managed to elude all attempts to get him to marry, and never intends to fall in love, but then he meets…
Spoiled, beautiful, and accustomed to having her own way where men are concerned, Elizabeth is calculating enough to see the status in marrying the ruler of an entire galaxy. There are unexpected obstacles to her plan, however—namely, Deroes’ nephew and former heir…
Taken from his mother at the age of twelve, and raised as heir to the Arcanian throne, Aric rebuffs Elizabeth’s overtures of friendship, only to have events take an unexpected turn when he falls in love with his uncle’s wife.
While Aric and Elizabeth begin a forbidden passion, other forces in the kingdom are conspiring rebellion and murder…
…with Aric as the not-so-innocent pawn…
(In this excerpt, Elizabeth plays hostess to her first official dinner for the lion-like Felidan ambassador and Aric sees one more way to embarrass her.)
To Aric’s disgust, everything was going well. Not that he was going to disrupt things, but Elizabeth could at least have had the decency to make a couple of mistakes.
There had been a tight moment before the main course was served. Felidans couldn’t tolerate cooked food, so everything prepared had been raw. The first two dishes were fairly generic: a fruit cup with berries and peaches from Izhmir—so fresh they could taste the sunshine on them—and a raw vegetable salad, prepared with slices of caric, a crunchy potato-like tuber, and shreds of shamade, a seaweed.
Khalid exclaimed over both, his wife nodding enjoyment. They were seated in the small, intimate place used generally for family gatherings. The table was a round one, also informal, so they could talk to whomever they wished.
When Deroes explained Elizabeth had made the selection of the dishes, her first “official” act, the ambassador bowed his head in her direction and touched his forefinger to his forehead.
Elizabeth, in the act of lifting a chunk of caric on her fork, looked slightly confused.
“He’s complimenting you,” Aric whispered, helping himself to a mouthful of shamade. “For your choice of dishes.”
She appeared puzzled that he’d tell her what Khalid meant, but grateful, venturing to ask, “What should I do? Should I thank him aloud or—?”
He shrugged, chewed thoughtfully, swallowed, and said, “Don’t Milkies have a gesture that means thank you or something?”
“The only gesture I know is a French one that means ‘magnificent’.”
That’s a new one. Aric thought he was acquainted with all Terran hand gestures— including a few shockingly vulgar ones. “How does it go?”
“You kiss your fingers and wave them in the air.”
Gods of Arcanis, thank you! He could barely keep from laughing. “Then do that. I’m certain the ambassador’s familiar with it.”
The ambassador was familiar, all right. When Elizabeth looked up, pressing the tips of all her fingers against her lips, then moving them away with a flourish, he nearly choked. Coughing and spluttering, his face turned red under the dark fur as his wife pounded his back and Deroes, who’d been looking away at that precise moment, offered him water.
“He’s angry,” she hissed at Aric. “What did I do?”
“You just told the ambassador you’d like to kiss his cock.” Aric fought back laughter, only managing not to choke on his own food as his mother kicked his ankle under the table.
“Aric, what did you do?” she hissed.
He didn’t answer, waiting to see how Elizabeth would extract herself from this.
Giving him a dagger-filled glare, she looked away and smiled grimly.
“I’m sorry, Ambassador Khalid. Did I order too much seasoning for the shamade?” Her voice was smooth, not betraying her inner turmoil by the slightest quaver.
He took another swallow of water and set down the goblet, giving her his full attention. “No, my lady. It—” He coughed slightly. “It’s seasoned perfectly.” Now, he appeared puzzled.
“I’m so glad.” She gave him that dazzling smile which had melted stronger men, and saw the fierce feline expression begin to soften. “Tell me, Your Excellency, do you know Terran sign language?”
“Those hand gestures employed by unfortunates unable to speak? I’m afraid not. Why do you ask?”
“Oh dear…” Elizabeth’s hand went to her mouth as if hiding behind it in horror. Aric refrained from rolling his eyes at the contrived movement. “I do hope I didn’t misinterpret that gesture you made. I-In Terran signing, a forefinger to the forehead means my compliments, just as my reply meant thank you.”
“I see.” His confusion faded to amusement. He turned to Deroes. “My lord, you’ve a gracious lady here. Very gracious.”
Aric studied his plate to keep from seeing the look of triumph Elizabeth shot his way.
Sinner was released by Double Dragon Publishing in January, 2012.