Book Title: To Target the Heart (Spellster Series Book 2)
Author: Aldrea Alien
Cover Artist: Leonardo Borazio
Building the Kingdom of Tirglas
One of the things I love about high fantasy, both in writing and reading, is the world building. From landscapes, to weather, to history and politics… everything is free game. But it’s also a lot of work, even though my newest release, To Target the Heart, is part of the spellster series and set in the Known World (which consists of a single giant continent and a few outlying islands).
The story itself involves a pair of princes from two realms that might as well be oil and water. Prince Hamish of the Mathan Clan is from the rustic Kingdom of Tirglas, whereas Darshan vris Mhanek comes from the gluttonous Udynea Empire.
The latter was fleshed out a fair bit whilst I wrote In Pain and Blood (which was set elsewhere, but clashed with Udynea), but Tirglas had little fleshed out beyond it being a largely rural place full of forests and home to big people that kind of spoke with a brogue. That was all right when the kingdom was a faraway land the MC had only academic knowledge of, not so much when the story is set there.
So, off I went to craft me a new kingdom.
It became obvious to me quite early on that there’d be a fair few differences between the two lands. Tirglas is a kingdom that abhors slavery and confines its spellsters, whereas Udynea is widely known for slavery and its nobility is full of spellsters. Added to how Tirglas leans heavily on its Scottish and Celtic influences whilst Udynea influences come from several cultures (sprinkles of India, Ancient Rome, a dash of Victorian England being the top three)… a few clashes and misunderstandings were bound to happen.
I already knew Tirglas’ history was full of clan skirmishes, border disputes, plagues and even an almost complete extermination of the royal line during a coup (I had fleshed out that information whilst writing In Pain and Blood). I tend to build as I write when it comes to new worlds, but I couldn’t quite get to the underbelly of Tirglas as swiftly as I had done with Udynea or Demarn. I especially couldn’t find the reason why Hamish’s mother was so virulently against him being with a guy (beyond her obvious longing to control everyone and everything) except for a vague mention of ancient scriptures.
Following that thread had me reaching a point where facts finally started to knit together, leading me to a history of deep-seated homophobia throughout the kingdom as a whole that it has yet to fully shake off. Just like the real world, the outlook isn’t universal.
When I reached the knowledge that a certain law legalising their deaths was abolished only half a century back… it coloured a lot of the world building; be it how Hamish sees himself, the individual reactions of his family, their deity’s views on such unions, or even how people see an innocent kiss between the two MCs. Alongside this serious core, I mixed in details that sounded more-or-less innocuous without that knowledge and ran with it.
And that is how I wound up with a rural, magic-confining kingdom that’s still struggling to adapt under the rule of a controlling, homophobic queen.
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How can he win with the odds stacked against him?
Prince Hamish has no interest in fulfilling his duty of marrying. Not to a woman, at least. That doesn’t stop his mother, Queen Fiona, from presenting him with every eligible noblewoman that enters their castle. He’s certain it’ll be no different with the representative of the Udynea Empire.
So when they do arrive, Hamish is relieved the imperial prince, Darshan, is not the woman everyone expected. Until the man kisses him and Hamish is confronted by the very emotions he has been forced to conceal or be punished for. Emotions he is eager to explore.
But the kiss proves to be a little too public and leads his mother to take drastic measures to ensure Hamish adheres to her family vision. The contest of arms will force Hamish to make a choice: give up his happiness for convention’s sake or send the kingdom spiralling into civil war for the right to love his own way.
About the Author
Aldrea Alien is an award-winning, bisexual author of fantasy romance with varying heat levels. Born and raised in New Zealand, she lives on a small farm with her family, including a menagerie of animals, who are all convinced they’re just as human as the next person. Especially the cats. Since discovering a love of writing at the age of twelve, she hasn’t found an ounce of peace from the characters plaguing her mind with all of them clamouring for her to tell their story first.
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