Tuesday, 12 December 2017 / No comments

The Last Guard - Guest post by KJ Taylor

Today on the blog I welcome KJ Taylor, who explains where The Last Guard fits into The Cymrian Saga.  

The Last Guard: The Story Continues
By K.J. Taylor 

2014 saw the Australian release of The Shadow’s Heart. It was the third book of the Risen Sun trilogy, and the sixth instalment in a series now known as The Cymrian Saga. The Risen Sun had told a story which followed on from the events of The Fallen Moon, and featured many of the same characters, but in many ways it was its own creature, and Shadow’s Heart did indeed mark the ending of the story of Laela Taranisäii, the tough young woman who we first met in The Shadow’s Heir.
Even so, not everything was resolved. As the last book ended Laela’s traitorous brother Kullervo was still alive, but now living in self-imposed exile as the guardian of her child. Meanwhile her cousin Caedmon had successfully seized her throne and been crowned King, and immediately declared war on the South.

And there were two other characters whose stories had only just begun. During his travels in the South, Kullervo had met and befriended a orphaned boy known only as Red, and both of them witnessed the hatching of Kraego, son of Skandar. Neither character played a particularly large role in the story, and yet they were important, because I knew it would be up to them to carry the next book.
I introduced Red to the series for a few reasons. One was that so far the series had mostly been focused on the North and its people, and all the major protagonists had been Northerners, or at least half Northerner in the case of Laela and Kullervo. For the third trilogy, it was time to truly explore the South, and see it through the eyes of a Southerner. Up until now the people of the South had been “the enemy”, and only a scarce handful of them were friendly. But this wasn’t because they were a “bad” or “evil” race; they simply lived according to the prejudices they’d grown up with, as we all do. The vast majority of Southerners are perfectly decent, honest people who are fiercely loyal to their friends and families. I wanted to show this side of them, and show, too, that Southern commoners like Red are just as frightened of their enemies to the North as the Northerners are of them. It’s all very well to sympathise with a ruler who attacks a foreign power to protect his lands and people from them, but what about the innocents who are caught in the middle of it?

The other reason I brought him into the picture was more personal in a way – I really liked the character of Captain Bran Redguard, who appeared in the first four books, and regretted not having given him a larger role. But then I thought “maybe there are other Redguards out there”. It came in very handy that in the first book Bran mentioned in passing that his sister had recently married, and so I decided that she had a son. And that son was Red.

The other character was of course Kraego. Arenadd’s tortured spirit believed he had won his secret struggle against the Night God when Skandar refused to obey her wishes any further, but the hatching of Kraego showed him he was very wrong. A new dark griffin, poised perhaps to create a new Shadow That Walks and so begin the nightmare Arenadd tried to thwart all over again – hence Arenadd’s horror and panic when he first saw the youngster.

Kraego is in some ways like his father – he’s stubborn, willful and brutally aggressive. But in other ways he takes after his mother Senneck – certainly, he’s unusually intelligent for a griffin. He also shares his mother’s ruthless ambition. Kaego is not one to take orders, and he has no loyalty toward anyone but himself… and one other person: a certain Southerner boy who cared for and played with him when he was a chick. But can the loyalty of a half-wild griffin really be trusted?

You can purchase The Last Guard at Amazon.

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