By now you all know I’m in the final stages of writing a new Ptorix Empire book. The title is Crisis at Validor and it features my decidedly non-humanoid alien species, the Ptorix. Readers will learn more about them in this book, but there will also be another, very different, alien species.
Way back when this book was little more than a bunny hopping around in my head I’d intended to write a story which included an ancient temple and something like a serpent, only smart. The berzhani have evolved since then. A lot of people don’t like snakes and while I don’t really understand the phobia, I know it’s real for many people. I’d discarded the idea of calling them dragons because this is not a fantasy and if people have preconceived notions about snakes, they have them about dragons, too.
Fire breathing, wicked, princess-eating, flying, telepathic, ridden by people, shape-shifters.
None of the above.
So about half way through the writing, I took some time off to go through pictures of serpents, serpent temples, dragons and the like, looking for visual inspiration. And I came across Jim Nelson’s fabulous work, particularly the top dragon on this page.
So the berzhani are rather like snakes in some respects (sinuous and smooth) but they are not snakes. In Crisis at Validor the berzhani live in caves on an island that is an extinct volcano. That island has become an object of contention between the Ptorix and the humans of Validor. The planet has two continents, and each species inhabits one. They don’t mix. But neither owns Bherzan Island.
The picture top left is a reasonable representation of a berzhan. (It’s actually a statue of a Chinese dragon, but you get the idea.)
What you need to know about the berzhani before you read the book is they are very, very smart, with their own skills. Like whales and dolphins, they don’t need technology and they don’t want to rule the world. They just want to be left alone. But they have a big part to play in Validor’s story whether they like it or not.
Here’s a first cut of the blurb.
Crisis at Validor
Newly-promoted Captain Brett Butcher is about to achieve his life-long ambition to command a battle cruiser. But before he takes up his new posting, he goes home on leave, hoping to perhaps catch a glimpse of his first love, the unattainable Lady Tarlyn.
When the queen is assassinated in a terrorist attack, Tarlyn’s life is thrown into turmoil when she, too, becomes a target. The last person she expects to rescue her is her childhood sweetheart, Brett Butcher.
As Validor’s Ptorix and human populations face off over a group of islands neither owns, the calls for war grow louder. Torn between love, duty and ambition, Butcher and Tarlyn struggle to prevent an inter-species conflict, while the ember of love that has smouldered for so long bursts into flame. But with planetary peace at stake, both will be forced to make a choice; love or duty.
Coming soon to an e-store near you.
PS. For those who know the Iron Admiral books, Butcher was Grand Admiral Saahren’s adjutant. And we also have a cameo appearance from Admiral Ulric Hudson of Starheart.