My Favorite Bit: Anna Kashina talks about BLADES OF THE OLD EMPIRE
Anna Kashina is joining us today with her novel Blades of the Old Empire. Here’s the publisher’s description.
Kara is a mercenary – a Diamond warrior, the best of the best, part of the Majat Guild. When her tenure to Prince Kythar comes to an end, he wishes to retain her services, but bust accompany her back to her Guild to negotiate her continued protection.
When they arrive they discover that the prince’s sworn enemy, the Kaddim, have already paid the Guild to engage her services – to capture and hand over the prince (who she has grown very fond of).
A warrior brought up to respect both duty and honor, what happens when her sworn duty proves dishonorable?
What’s Anna’s favorite bit?
My favorite bit in the Blades of the Old Empire closely relates to the reasons I like fantasy in the first place. I enjoy secondary worlds, creating kingdoms that never existed but are firmly rooted in reality. But what I enjoy even more is the sense that anything is possible. In the world where magic is a commonplace thing there is really no limit to the kind of trouble you can make your characters face. Watching them deal with it, and overcome it (in most cases) is my ultimate reward in writing, especially when I can achieve a state where the story can be driven largely by my characters, with only minimal help from me.
This state dominated the process of writing Blades of the Old Empire.
Imagine Kara, a superpowerful warrior woman, raised and trained in the notorious Majat Guild. Kara’s weapon skill is so superior that if she was allowed to do whatever she wanted she could definitely upset some serious balance. So, her power comes with a price: absolute obedience. The Majat warriors must always follow the code. And their code dictates that they must hire out their mercenary services to the highest bidder, no judgment involved.
It all goes well until one day Kara receives an assignment to capture and kill a good man. This man is the heir to the throne and the bearer of a rare magic gift that could help the kingdom defeat a powerful enemy. It is also the man she had grown to love, even if she is not permitted to act on her feelings because of her warrior code. All these things make it unthinkable to follow her orders. Yet, she knows that if she disobeys, her own Guild would order her execution–and even with her skill she would not be able to avert it.
I layered this conflict over a traditional fantasy story, where a prince with a magic gift becomes the kingdom’s hope in dealing with evil, and his ability to master his gift in time becomes the key to survival. The story actually starts off in the prince’s point of view, and then drives to the conflict and its aftermath.
This book was very enjoyable to write. The characters came alive for me, and they surprised me many times throughout the book. I was even more amazed by the facets of their personalities that emerged in the process. Watching each of them deal with the magically enhanced worst of my fantasy world was definitely my favorite bit.
Anna Kashina grew up in Russia and moved to the United States in 1994 after receiving her Ph.D. in cell biology from the Russian Academy of Sciences. She works as a biomedical researcher and combines career in science with her passion for writing. Anna’s interests in ballroom dancing, world mythologies and folklore feed her high-level interest in martial arts of the Majat warriors.