by C.S. Hand
For fans of Divergent, Red Rising, and The Hunger Games comes a gripping new tale of ambition, treachery, and love.
When what appears as a prank on arrogant ambassadors at an exotic vacation city turns out to be the first tremors of a revolution, the Enlightened Council of Castillia turns to its 11-year old undefeated military prodigy and her loyal Guardians for help.
After all, it was Innocence who liberated the Jewel of All Cities in the first place. Everyone knows she will be the last to let it slip from her grasp.
But why would anyone want to leave Castillia? Its laws are just. Its Council is democratically elected. It has liberated more cities than any other Republic, past or present.
But Castillia has enemies, that’s for sure.
Sedition is the favorite trick of the southern Republic Ausonia. In fact, the exotic vacation city used to belong to Ausonia—and they have always wanted it back.
But could those hedonists really organize anything between all their dancing and drinking?
Or has Vesper, the mighty Republic to the North finally woken from its slumber? It has plenty of old scores to settle with Castillia and it’s palm-lined streets.
Squashing the uprising and re-uniting the town and her city could be the perfect way to end the most legendary military career Castillia has ever known and begin a new, exhilarating life as a prominent politician.
But it also might just be the perfect way to start what Innocence has secretly always yearned for: her own Empire.
Salute“As long as the enemy is not defeated, he may defeat me; then I shall no longer be my own master; he will dictate the law to me as I did to him.”ClausewitzWhen I was six I commanded the Sun Battalion to charge the center of Ausonia’s forces at Serenissima, the most beautiful and opulent city on this planet.Every single man, woman, and child from that legendary unit died in the melee.But it broke Ausonia’s center and then we out flanked them—on both sides.Ausonians begged for their lives, but when you lose your Republic’s most famous battalion you cannot allow for survivors.Even if you have just stolen the jewel of cities from an enemy’s grasp.When I was seven I saw my own army nearly overrun.That was until I came out from my command hub and grabbed the banner from a fleeing Guardian and turned Lazarus on, then began sweeping through the enemy’s ranks with my sword of trembling lightning.That was the first time I had ever been shot more than thirteen times.When I was eight I had to execute my second-in-command for treason. We were low on ammunition and my lightning blade wouldn’t turn on, so I had to do it with a rock.When I was nine I led a lightning-sabre charge straight into the heart of Vesper’s Hyper Accelerated Rifles.Everyone but a child named Beatrice was mowed down.But between myself and Beatrice and the second, third, and fourth fearless waves we cut them to pieces.The problem with Hyper Accelerated Rifles is if they fire too fast for too long they overheat and then don’t fire at all.That was not the first time I had killed defenseless human beings—and enjoyed it.When I was ten I ambushed Jacob Heist and his band of outlaws who were traveling to various cities in the South preaching about freedom and liberation and brotherhood—the very ideals my City was founded upon.They said we were the very opposite of those things and that we were what they called a “Dysotpia,” which is a new word used by uneducated thugs to incite rebellions against people like me.When we ambushed them on the shore and they didn’t even try to run I assumed it was because they knew it was over.They had no weapons but refused to surrender, even after I offered it to them a second time.So we murdered the band of outlaws and searched for the weapon we knew we would find, “The Chariot Buster,” which they usually used to blow our ships out of the sky.Heist and his gang loved to beam our hovercrafts into vapor, like he did the previous seventeen times we tried to ambush him. In fact, he did it so much, we called it “bait and beam.”But all we found in his traveling caravan were hundreds of copies of an unsettling novel from some ancient planet about an elf and a minotaur who overthrow an entire world.If that isn’t criminal literature worthy of suppression then I don’t know what is.What I also didn’t know was that we were being recorded and streamed live over an inventive social media application called Periscope.So it looked like I butchered a peaceful intellectual on a paradisiacal white sand beach in spite of his repeated cries for mercy and justice.Blogs went crazy.They reported that we murdered them when they were defenseless and did terrible things to their corpses.What they didn’t mention is that my dogs were starving and that we had a long march back. We weren’t going to be the ones eaten alive.Besides, you can’t take heavy machinery on an ambush.The outlaw preachers would have heard us coming miles away.So I had to take the dogs.And the dogs had to eat.There were hundreds of uprisings.I crushed them all.My City stood by my side. Esteemed Council members lost their seats because of me, some had attempts made on their lives, and some were successfully assassinated.That’s when I learned someone can strike at you even from death, and when possible never turn an enemy, who is mortal and fallible, into a martyr, who is infallible and immortal.I’m eleven now, and this is my last year as Commander.After this year I will retire from my duties as a Guardian of the Republic, squelching rebellions from the other cities who never pay their tributes on time, are never fair in their dealings, and are always plotting against my perfect, beautiful City.Oh, my name is Innocence—which as far as I can tell is just some made-up word.
- What is your writing process? Do you aim for a word count daily or maybe just a scene?
I either write early in the morning, nap…more like a deep sleep through the afternoon…and then write again late at night or only write late at night, from about 9 or 10 until 3 in the morning.
There used to be a lot of red bull and monster energy drinks involved, now I’m down to just some good coffee and silence—the secret charm to call the muses.
Ok and Metallica, Smashing Pumpkins, Muse, the Offspring, Linkin Park, and AC/DC and some other bands and musicians that seem to help me write.
I aim for working through ideas or scenes which usually amounts to 2-5k words.
Those are the best days.
Other days, usually after I’ve broken through writer’s block to unleash a fresh wellspring of good writing and am sure I’ve finally found an endless font, the muses leave me and it feels like I’ve had brain surgery and have no thoughts at all.
- What sort of research did you do for this book?
All reading this time and no killing. But hey, I’m working on a book 2 so…
I revisited my roots in political philosophy which meant reading and re-reading Plato, Plutarch’s Lives, Seneca, Horace, Ovid, and some other ancient Greek and Romans (which is way less exciting than it sounds) before settling in with some really exhilarating Enlightenment philosophers like Kant and Hegel.
Importantly, though, I also wanted this book to “participate” in the dystopian fiction space. So I read the Hunger Games, Divergent, Red Rising, Legend from Marie Lu (whose Legend books I love utterly) and there are references to the Hunger Games, Divergent, and Red Rising sprinkled throughout.
- What are you working on now? Any chance of a sequel?
There is! I am already working on the second installment of the series and a prequel exclusively for people who sign up for my newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dyc7G5.
- How did you come up for the idea of your book?
Taylor Swift. I think Taylor Swift is the Julius Caesar of the 21st century.
One day after reading Julius Caesar’s Life by Plutarch I thought, what if I wrote a story about an ambitious, charismatic girl with the military prowess of Julius Caesar in an epoch when warfare was an acceptable way to gain notoriety and music was (in some cities) frowned upon as illegal.
For the setting, I was outside wondering around my parent’s back yard on a winter night when the air is quite frigorific and the sky is cuttingly clear and you can see all the stars—and maybe even a little bit of the past, present, and future if you squint hard enough.
And I just thought about all the lives that haven’t happened on the stars that I can see, and all the lives that must have happened further out in the darkness that I can’t see.
So I decided to put the story on a wild star hundreds of thousands if not millions of lightyears away from our own world, where the remnants of the human race have crashed and created a burgeoning outpost among in the heavens.
- Just for fun — what TV shows or movies have you really enjoyed (or disliked?) recently?
There are so many great TV shows and movies it’s hard to keep this list short, but here goes:
- The Expanse
- Charmed (I didn’t watch much TV growing up…so I’m catching up!)
- Jessica Jones
- Mr. Robot
- Rogue One
The Last Jedi (sorry couldn’t resist)
C. S. Hand loves philosophy, literature, and science-fiction and fantasy books. He studied British Romanticism at Cambridge before leaving to translate great science-fiction and fantasy books. You can read more about his 3 great loves here.
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