Draegnstoen: How it began

The History of Draegnstoen

October 2008: I uploaded Draegnstoen to the Harper Collins website “Authonomy.”

The short pitch for Draegnstoen (as it appeared on Authonomy):

A young fifth century king of Britain rallies the northern kingdoms to fight one last great battle to expel the Romans from the land.

The original cover idea:

The long pitch:

The ancient British Queen Boudicca casts her imposing shadow over the entire history of this epic struggle.

Before he becomes a man, every prince must kill a dragon. From the stone henges, or dragon stones, dragons are hunted. Rhun, crown prince of Ebrauc, has slain a dragon. Someday he will inherit his father’s throne. But after a battle with the Romans, that day comes sooner, rather than later.

In the midst of treachery, tragedy, shifting alliances, and with help from the Picts in the far north, a group of northern kingdoms at last dares to challenge Roman rule. Inspired by his ancestor’s previous efforts to expel Rome, Coel, (king of one of the northern kingdoms and a real historical figure), finally rallies the north to fight one last great battle that will decide the history of the land.

What if you had to kill your brother because he betrayed your country and allies you had never met?

What if you had to rally the armies of seven small kingdoms for a battle against the world’s premiere superpower?

What if the cost of victory was so great that it was almost unbearable?

This is Draegnstoen

May 2009: Draegnstoen finished the month as the #4 book on the Authonomy site, which earned it a Harper Collins review.

June 2009: The Harper Collins review – “Draegnstoen is an historical/fantasy novel about the young fifth century king of Britain, Rhun, who rallies his northern kingdoms to fight one last great battle and expel the Romans from the land.

The young Rhun, having slain a dragon in the opening chapters of the novel, becomes king after an unexpected and tragic battle in which his father is killed by the Romans. His intended bride, Princess Thalia, also dies leaving Rhun with the responsibility of finding another wife. In a moment of desperation he weds his sister, Frydissa, much against her and his younger brother Coel’s wills.
Coel and Rhun’s relationship deteriorates as Rhun’s underhand and ambitious policies threaten the kingdom of Ebrauc’s stability. On discovering Rhun’s intentions to form an alliance with the Romans, Coel and Rhun have a heated confrontation at the Dragonstones which results in Rhun’s death. Coel therefore inherits the throne and marries Feodia, a Pictish Princess, and Frydissa happily marries Aengus in a joint ceremony. Various battles and territorial disputes ensue, culminating in The Great Battle against the Romans.

There is a strong historical milieu to the novel in which Blackmer confronts shifting alliances, paternal and sibling relationships, and explores the responsibilities a king must face, in leading his people. There is also a strongly fantastical element to his writing – dragonslaying and the importance of myth and superstition are deely embedded within the narrative. I found there to be a good balance of battle and court scenes, juxtaposed with the analysis of sibling and political relationships. The chapters are very short – often no more than a page long, and I think that in some cases this causes the flow to become disjointed and confusing. Perhaps expanding some chapters with more detail and description combined with greater focus on characters’ internal thoughts, outside of the dialogue would give a more complex story?

There is a huge marked for this type of fantasy fiction, and here at HarperCollins the Voyager list is champion for quality science-fiction and fantasy. The success of authors such as Robin Hobb and Ray Feist demonstrate the timeless and fascinating endurance of this genre. In my opinion, there is enough originality in Draegnstoen to stand out from its’ competitors, whilst still maintaining those important elements which will ensure its’ success in this competitive area of the market.

This book has been passed to editors in Voyager and Angry Robot for further consideration.” (28/06/09)

August 2009:  I was able to secure representation with Linn Prentis Literary. She worked with me for over a year and a half. But unfortunately at that point it still had not been published.

October 2009: Suggestions are made that I write a sequel to Draegnstoen, something I had never previously considered. Ideas start coming together for “The Blue Land.” The title is later changed to “Highland King.”

June 2011: With all the changes that have occurred in the publishing industry, I decided to self publish Draegnstoen.

August 2011: Draegnstoen is published.

Comment to above, dated 5/24/11

What a good review. The story sounds fantastic. So do you use the standing stones of Stonehenge as big dragon traps? That is so cool and clever. It sounds fantastic, especially with the rise in books like this after Game of Thrones. I think you will do great with this.

Draven Ames

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