This is my third excerpt feature this year. Keeping a New Year’s resolution all the way through May is pretty good, huh? I chose to share a passage from my most recent release Banished Sons of Poseidon, which is the story of a disgraced, novice priest who must find a way to lead the survivors of Atlantis home.
Banished Sons of Poseidon is a follow up to The Seventh Pleiade, and a question I get a lot is: “Should I read the first book first?” My impartial answer is maybe. While my publisher and I worked on plugging the release of the second book, many readers who hadn’t read The Seventh Pleiade picked up the book and posted reviews. Few mentioned they had trouble with the plot or wished they had read the first book first. I’m really happy we pulled the manuscript together in a way that makes it work as a standalone.
Naturally, some people will still prefer to start at the beginning of the story, which is something I usually do. Though there are so many fantasy series out there, I have to admit that I have sometimes picked up a second or third book in a series by mistake and not been disappointed.
I recently read the below excerpt at The Rainbow Book Fair, and introduced it as a preview of what I feel is the heart of the story. Amid sixteen-year-old Dam’s big adventure in an underground world where the survivors of Atlantis take shelter, he’s also contending with baggage from the past, in the form of a falling out with his only blood relative Aerander, who was the hero in The Seventh Pleiade. But Banished Sons of Poseidon is Dam’s story. He’s an orphaned son from a minor noble family, who was raised in the grandeur of a house governor’s palace. He and his cousin Aerander were inseparable until Dam parted ways to make his own way in the world.
Just a little more set-up from the scene: it takes place in the hours before the survivors are to attend their first celebration with an ancient race of men who have given them shelter underground. Dam was invited to attend with an underground warrior and is rushing to get ready.
Entering his house, he spotted Aerander in the middle of the room. His cousin had fixed his hair in sculpted waves with some sort of concoction and put on a fancy chiton that draped from one shoulder down to the middle of his calf in the style of a statesman. It was spun from elegant silk, and its seamstress had embroidered hems across the top, the single sleeve and around the bottom in the indigo hatch mark pattern of the House of Atlas. With a shadow of a beard growing in, Aerander was looking more like his father by the day. The only thing missing was a gilded lariat for his head.
“Naturally, you’re the last one to get ready,” Aerander said.
“You wouldn’t have that problem if you got to bed at a normal time.”
“What happened to your hair?”
That left Dam’s cousin chuffed for a moment. His hair didn’t actually look bad, but saying it made a mischievous little ember inside Dam glow.
“It’s a special oil they get from fish,” Aerander said. “But it doesn’t smell. See?” He bowed his head, inviting Dam to take a sniff.
“No thank you.”
“A lot of the boys are using it. I brought some for you.”
Dam stepped past him to pick out some clothes. He needed a dry pair of trousers and a clean shirt.
“I brought you an outfit, too.”
Dam followed Aerander’s gaze to his bed. There was a chiton laid out there. It was the same style Aerander was wearing. All the highborn boys must have requested noble clothes for the occasion. He was supposed to wear a chiton to the feast while his friends were going in plain shifts and trousers?
“There’ll be two head tables,” Aerander said. “One for Ysalane and her people, and one for us.”
Dam skirted his glance. He felt like a cold shadow had descended on him from above.
“Go on,” Aerander said, glancing at the bed. “We have to get over to the hall.”
“I made plans for the feast.”
Aerander twitched his nose, and then he grinned as though Dam was putting him on. Of course, Dam wasn’t. “What do you mean?”
“Hanhau asked me to go with him as his guest.”
“I thought—” Aerander started to say. He grimaced. “It’s a public occasion, Dam. People are supposed to sit with their family.”
“You’ll have Lys and Dardy and Evandros.” Dardy and Evandros were Aerander’s best friends. They were from House Gadir. But they were all so close, they called each other brothers.
“They’re friends. Not family.” Aerander said.
“It’s just a dinner. We’ll all be in the same room.”
“It’s not just a dinner. It’s diplomatic. You knew that, and you made plans without even talking to me about it.”
“It only came up last night.”
“How could you do that to me?”
Dam winced. He pushed on. “Hanhau asked me to go with him, and I told him would. Because I want to.”
“Because you want to. Did it ever occur to you that I need you at the feast? I’m representing everyone. Is it too much to ask that my only flesh and blood could sit beside me?”
Dam looked at his cousin helplessly. Ever since they had been reunited by the disaster, they were like lost pups who rediscovered each other in the wild. Aerander pushed too hard, and Dam nipped and clawed back. He needed time to go back to the way they had been with one another.
Aerander’s face was flushed and trembling. Dam stepped near. “I’ll be there to support you. Does it matter that we’re at the same table?” He reached to clasp his cousin’s shoulder. Aerander jerked away from him.
“What did I do to you to make you treat me like such a shit?”
Cold irons sank into Dam’s chest.
“Why can’t we be brothers, the way we used to be?”
Aerander had lost his birth mother when he was a baby, just like Dam had lost both his parents. They had been raised together by nursemaids in the Governor’s palace. They had both been taken into a household where they didn’t belong, which made them feel like they belonged to each other even more.
“When the flood came, and I couldn’t save my family, all I wanted to do was bury myself in my bed and die,” Aerander said. His eyes were watery and haunted. “You pulled me out of that. You told me that people needed me to give them something to believe in. You said we would stand together. Just like I took your side when everyone thought you double-crossed Leo and Koz, I might need your help someday.”
Dam stared at Aerander, frozen. “It’s only a feast.”
“Is everyone right about you?” Aerander said. “You lie and steal, and you only care about yourself?”
He eyed his cousin steadily. If Aerander wanted to have a conversation about the past, they could start with Aerander’s family brushing Dam aside like a domestic to clear a gleaming path for their one and only rightful legacy. Maybe Aerander couldn’t have done anything to intervene, but at least he could admit that it was House Atlas that had abandoned Dam, not Dam abandoning them.
Aerander drew a breath, and his diplomatic airs came back to him, albeit strained. “Do what you want,” he said. “There’ll be a seat at the table if you change your mind.”
He glanced at the chiton on Dam’s bed, and then he stepped out of the room.
If you liked what you read, you can pick up the book at my publisher’s online bookstore, Indiebound (to find an independent bookseller near you), Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or anywhere else you like to buy books. 🙂