About Michael Meyerhofer:
His fourth poetry book, What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, was recently published by Split Lip Press. He also serves as the Poetry Editor of Atticus Review. His poetry and prose have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Brevity, Ploughshares, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Rattle, and many other journals. He and his fiancee currently live in Fresno, California, in a little house beside a very large cactus.
People who have read WYTCHFIRE know that the world of the DRAGONKIN TRILOGY is not always a friendly place, and that will grow even more apparent in KNIGHTSWRATH. This is a world where those born with the “gift” of magic are often killed at birth, and even if they do survive, they face a lifetime of running from mobs and armies. But this is also a world in which the people who wield magic (called the Shel’ai) sometimes use unnecessarily brutal methods to defend themselves. Put another way, there’s a great deal of moral ambiguity built into these conflicts, and like Rowen Locke (the everyman protagonist), the reader might not always know exactly who is right and who is wrong.
Furthermore, not all these conflicts involve magic. Some, sadly, could have been taken from our own newspaper headlines. For example, orphans in the slums of Lyos (also called Dark Quarter) have to worry about a lot more than starvation, and there are hints that especially during his childhood, Rowen fought off opponents who, in one sense, were far more sinister than greatwolves, sellswords, and vengeful sorcerers.
Much has been made (and for good reason) of the way sexual violence has been handled in "Game of Thrones," HBO’s epic (and, lately, increasingly loose) adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s fantastic series, A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. I reside in the camp that says dark fantasy should be gritty and realistic, but I also hate it when violence (especially sexual violence) is used purely for shock value. To me, that isn’t just irresponsible writing; it’s also lazy. So even though the books of the DRAGONKIN TRILOGY are unapologetically brutal at times, I hope readers will notice the driving purpose behind the various conflicts.
One thing I’ve also learned as a writer is that you don’t always have to show the monster. Often, you get more psychological mileage out of referencing dark events without actually showing them, which also allows you to bypass the whole, muddy debate over what is and what isn’t gratuitous. Igrid, a new character in KNIGHTSWRATH, is a prime example of this. Without giving spoilers, I think it’s safe to say that Igrid’s past is even more troubling than Rowen’s, which meant I could have included some pretty graphic flashbacks. I decided to avoid this, though, because fantasy readers are smart and imaginative, and often, a quick reference can speak volumes.
All that being said, another thing I avoided in KNIGHTSWRATH was the impulse to make things darker by filtering out my natural love of gallows humor. Human beings in the real world often use humor to deal with messy situations, and the characters in the DRAGONKIN TRILOGY are no different. In fact, I think that Jalist would make a good stand-up comic. And hopefully, readers will sense that’s there hope and a kind of wild beauty throughout the world of the DRAGONKIN TRILOGY, too. After all, that’s what Rowen, Silwren, and the others are fighting for.
Rowen Locke has achieved his dream of becoming a Knight of the Crane, and he now bears Knightswrath, the legendary sword of Fâyu Jinn. But the land remains torn, and though Rowen suffers doubts, he would see it healed. His knightly order is not what it seems, though, and allies remain thin. When Rowen and his friends seek an alliance with the forest-dwelling Sylvs, a tangle of events results in a midnight duel that teaches Rowen a dangerous lesson and leaves him with a new companion of uncertain loyalties.
The sadistic Dhargots still threaten the kingdoms, but another menace lurks in the shadows, playing a game none can see. As Rowen struggles to prove his worth—to his allies and to himself—chaos raises its hand to strike. A price must be paid, and not even the wielder of Knightswrath will remain untouched.