Good morning! I am feeling much better this week, and hope you are all doing well. February is Fantasy Month got off to an awesome start on Friday and I couldn’t be more pleased with how well it’s going so far. Make sure to check the pinned post for the schedule to see which blogs to hit up and where you can read all the awesome fantasy content. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing our annual game of tag here so that you can join in this fabulous fantasy frolic if you’d like.
But for now, let’s get back to Second Son and find out what Brant is up to since we saw him last.
A Naming Ceremony
A year has passed, and true to his word, King Jairem is getting ready to announce the name of his heir. This is a very exciting moment for the people of Aom-igh, for they have been wondering who will take the throne next, since their king has no children and there is no obvious direct “next in line” choice.
Here we get to see a little bit of the difference between the cultures of Llycaelon and Aom-igh, as Brant is aghast at the idea of the king simply choosing someone. True, his own family has managed to consistently produce heirs for a couple of centuries, but Brant knows that should there be no direct descendant, there would have to be a contest of some sort to determine the best candidate, even if that person wasn’t of royal blood.
Being royalty himself, Brant is unimpressed by the idea of seeing royalty. But his adopted brother is eager to go to the naming ceremony, and so Brant joins in on his enthusiasm.
What would you do if you were king?
Arnaud can have no idea the wound he is opening with that simple and — in light of their current pilgrimage — completely natural question!
“That life isn’t for me, I wasn’t meant to be king. I’d rather wander forever. The only mistake Yorien ever made was when he tried to go back home.”
“Mistake? How was it a mistake? His family was there,” Arnaud argued, “why wouldn’t he return to them?”
“Because when he left they forgot him, so he ought to have forgotten them as well,” Brant’s voice was harsh, too harsh, he realized, but he could not seem to stop. “It would have been better for everyone if he had simply remained forgotten. Instead, he tormented them by returning home. Don’t you see? They thought he was gone forever, and then, there he was again, but how could they ever be certain he would stay? How could they ever trust him again?” There was pain in Brant’s voice that he could not hide.
Arnaud fell silent, thinking about what Brant had said. After a moment he spoke, his voice serious, “I’d take the crown like a piece of land and do everything in my power to cultivate and grow that land. When I could do no more, I’d hand the reins to the next good man so he could continue the work.”
“You might find it hard to give up,” Brant warned bitterly.
“No, I don’t think so.”
There’s a LOT of foreshadowing in this little conversation.
One of the things I loved about writing Second Son was getting to explore the different locations around this world I’d created. Because of reasons I can’t expound on because 4th book spoilers — I wanted the cultures of the different countries to feel similar, while still being unique from one another. I’m not sure I mastered that, but I tried. World-building is something I’ve learned a lot more about since writing this first series.
Jairem Preparing for the Ceremony
We get another glimpse into the inner chambers of Jairem’s life here. We see his relationship with his staff, discover he has a sense of sarcasm that he desperately tries to keep in check, and his honest eagerness to inform his chosen successor of his new role in life.
The Naming Ceremony and Beyond
Man, this was a fun scene to write. From Brant recognizing the king as the traveler who ate with them a year ago, to his moment of amused realization that he is the only person in the crowd absolutely guaranteed NOT to be named the king’s successor, to Arnaud’s instantaneous terror and confusing when he hears his own name called… everything just kind of came together in this scene. Arnaud’s numb response to his summons, Brant’s banter with Scelwhyn (which sort of turned into an impromptu job interview!)… that was indeed a pleasure to pen.
And then we get to the moment of truth. The one where Arnaud is beginning to realize that this is his destiny, that the innocent conversation he had a few days before with Brant has become a reality and now he must own the answer he gave and take on the responsibility he has been given.
1. There were a lot of little moments in this chapter… meaningful lines and fragments of glimpses into characters and cultures, as well as some foreshadowings and…. backshadowings? (Not entirely certain if there is a word for what I mean here). Did any of them jump out at you in particular?
2. What would YOU do if you were suddenly announced as the heir to some position of high importance?