Bryce O’Connor is joining us today to talk about the novel he wrote with Luke Chmilenko, A Blood of Kings, the Shattered Reigns book 2. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Ryn has fallen. Ester could be dying. Bonner is too far away to help.
No matter how Declan Idrys looks at his situation, he comes to the same conclusion every time: He is about to die at the hands of the first dark elf seen in 700 years. Fate, fortunately, is not so cruel, though, and after barely surviving this initial encounter with the er’endehn of Eserysh, Declan and his friends find themselves in a tentative truce with the war-loving elves. They share a common enemy, after all, and their mutual hate for the Endless Queen and her growing legions is enough for the two groups to set aside their mistrust for one another, if only for now.
Sehranya, however, is not one to rest easy while her enemies join forces, and Declan and his companions soon find themselves assaulted by new horrors as they set out to make at last for the legendary city of Ysenden in truth.
But the queen has made a mistake. Within Declan the slumbering might of his line is at last stirring, prodded into life by the guiding hands of Bonner yr’Essel. Fire. Power. Strength. Sehranya will rue the day she did not throw everything she had into slaying the one of King’s blood….
What’s Bryce’s favorite bit?
My favorite part of A Blood of Kings isn’t actually any specific part of the story, but rather a lesson I learned as a whole after writing A Mark of Kings, the first book in The Shattered Reigns series.
The very first iteration of A Mark of Kings was actually wrapped up in high school, something I am both very proud and infinitely embarrassed about. As a result, a lot of the concepts, ideas, and characters were bland or underdeveloped, with the main character of the series, Declan Idrys, being no exception to this. When I brushed A Mark of Kings off and decided to put it through rewrites, I was aware of this, but had immense trouble redirecting him away from “white guy who’s good with a sword #672”, largely because the seeds of a book developed by a fifteen-year-old kid still formed a majority of the plot and drive of the story.
No so for A Blood of Kings.
Whereas Mark consisted of partially fresh material driven by the same characters of that high school book, Blood is entirely comprised of new prose and plot (with the rare exception of some very specific ideas that I deliberately left in the story). As a result, I was able to finally start the process of shifting Declan away from “white guy who saves the girl #895”, into a much more developed (and powerful) character. In Mark, Declan was very often getting caught flat-footed because of his lack of exposure to the strange, magical, and horrible parts of the world that he and the rest of humanity had had their eyes closed to for more than 700 years. In Blood, however, he has spent months and months familiarizing himself with those twisted factors, often fighting toe to toe with some of the most monstrous examples of mankind’s new enemies, and he is no longer taken aback by every fresh horror. He has hardened himself to the truths of the world, and with this newfound resolve has truly started the immense climb towards becoming a swordsman (and mage) who will be able to cut down the worst of the Endless Queen’s brood without so much as blinking.
While he still has a long, long way to go, it has been so thrilling (and refreshing) to watch Declan come out of his shell, to watch him move away from “white guy with hidden potential #1467” towards a much more interesting, nuanced, and impactful character.
Oh, and it’s also going to be fun to see how people react to the very last line of the book. 😁
Bryce O’Connor learned the importance of a well-crafted story at an early age. Raised on the tall tales of Brian Jacques’ Redwall and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, he fell in love with reading when he realized that one’s imagination is the only place where dragons might actually fly free. He lives in Rochester, NY.