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The Shattered Moon

Many years in the making, the first volume of The Shattered Moon series finally sees the light of day.

A distant future. A world transformed.

Remnants of a shattered moon patrol the skies, memorials to an ancient and nearly-forgotten conflict. In an isolated northern land, civilisation's slow recovery is overseen by the reclusive, all-female, Guild of Dawnsingers, which holds a monopoly on advanced learning. Life seems peaceful and well-ordered, but are the Dawnsingers as benevolent as they seem? What secrets are they hiding?

And what really lies beyond the mountains in the East?

Orphan Jerya finds a new home in the Dawnsingers' Guild, but her new life turns sour. Soon she finds herself struggling to reconcile the exhilaration of learning with growing doubts about the very basis of the Guild's rule. Ultimately she faces an agonising choice which could utterly change her life, and those of her two most trusted friends.

Award-winning outdoor writer Jon Sparks turns his talent and experience to speculative fiction in the first book of The Shattered Moon series.

To read a free short story set in the world of The Shattered Moon, click here. For more insights and news, along with other giveaways, please join my mailing list

Volumes already complete or fully drafted span twenty years in the lives of the main characters and their world. Projected books will take us further, and see responsibility passing to a new generation.

Book 1: Three Kinds of North
Available now.

Jerya, an orphan girl, grows toward adulthood in the remote village of Delven. Housed in caves, the village lies below great mountains, beyond which, folklore tells, lie the deadly Blistered Lands. Jerya delights in reading Delven’s scanty collection of books, wandering the forest and moors, and exercising her inquiring mind. Then, one day, her tranquil life is changed forever.

Unexpectedly despatched to join the Guild of Dawnsingers, Jerya immerses herself eagerly in new knowledge and new ideas. She discovers mathematics and astronomy and much more, and finds tantalising hints about the ending of the Age Before and the origins of the Guild. She finds new depths in herself too, along with her first real taste of love.

However, Jerya learns things which lead her to question the true purpose of the Guild and the basis on which its authority rests. Before long she finds herself facing an appalling and irrevocable choice. Will she accept the rationale for the Guild's existence, and its power, in order to continue her exhilarating journey of intellectual discovery? Or will she break her recent vows, leave the Guild, and embark on a much more hazardous journey to a far less certain destination?

Read the first chapter here.

Get the e-book here. For a fuller list of outlets, including for printed books, click here.

Note: with the best will in the world, it's impossible to completely avoid spoilers, especially in the description of later volumes. Even so, none of the following capsule descriptions are likely to make complete sense unless you've read the previous volume(s). Read on, or not, accordingly!

Book Two: The Sundering Wall

To be published Autumn 2023.

Jerya, with her trusted companions Rodal and Railu, strikes out into the mountains, hoping to discover a feasible route to the unknown lands beyond. After a demanding journey, they do find habitable territory, but the resultant euphoria is short-lived.

While Rodal is hunting, Jerya and Railu are taken captive; soon they learn that they have been mistaken for runaway slaves. Far from being uninhabited, the land beyond the mountains (the Five Principalities) is as populous as the Sung Lands, but its society is ordered very differently.

After enduring the humiliation of being sold, Jerya and Railu begin the slow and often difficult process of adapting to this strange new life. Before long, however, fresh changes loom for both of them, which threaten to take the two onto diverging paths.

Meanwhile, Rodal, having discovered what has befallen them, wrestles with the question of what to do next. Any attempt to free them immediately seems doomed to failure, so he resolves to find work and build up resources, while also learning as much as he can about the Five Principalities. His travels, though, soon bring new experiences and new meetings which could lure him away from his mission and his promises.

Book Three: The Second Crossing

To be published Spring 2024.

Nine years later, Jerya is no longer a slave but secretary to her former master and governess to his son, Embrel. A visitor to the house, Hedric, turns out to share her dormant passion for science and particularly for astronomy. They quickly become friends and a deeper relationship seems in prospect.

Then Jerya learns that the wealthy Duke of Selton is preparing a lavish expedition to seek out a crossing of the mountains. (The crossing which she, Rodal, and Railu discovered remains unknown to others.) Though she walked out on the Guild, she retains fond memories of many individual Dawnsingers. She swiftly resolves that the Guild needs to be forewarned of the potential advent of visitors from the East, and enlists Hedric's aid to return by her original route.

Having learned (in Book Two) that she isn't exactly an orphan, as she had always believed, Jerya enjoys a reunion with her mother and, later, with Rodal. However, all does not go smoothly when she delivers her message to the Guild. Her old nemesis, the former Senior Tutor Perriad, is now an influential Master of the Guild and strives to discredit Jerya and her story at every turn. Will Selton and his party find a feasible crossing? Will the Guild will make any meaningful preparations to deal with them if they do? And will Jerya herself be allowed to return to the life—and potential love—that she has found in the Five Principalities?

Book Four: The Skilthorn Congress

To be published Autumn 2024.

Jerya is now married to Hedric, who has recently inherited an Earldom; making her, as Countess of Skilthorn, the reluctant proxy-owner of thousands of slaves. Striving to derive some good from her new title and responsibilities, she opens the great house of Skilthorn for a Congress to bring together Dawnsingers and representatives of the Five Principalities.

Another arrival at Skilthorn is a young stranger called Irmavel, desperate to evade a forced marriage. She and Jerya decide Irmavel, renamed Mavrys, will 'hide in plain sight' as a slave until her 18th birthday, after which she cannot legally be wed against her will.

Jerya's oldest friend, Railu, arrives at Skilthorn with the Dawnsingers. Now free, she is using her Guild training to practise as a healer among the enslaved and others ill-served by recognised doctors. Among the other delegates she finds a potential new relationship, but also faces the exposure of her clandestine practice.

An unexpected arrival at the Congress is the corrupt but powerful Prince of Sessapont. Drawn into his orbit, Mavrys inadvertently overhears a scheme which could jeopardise the developing relations between the Five Principalities and Sung Lands. Hoping to learn more, she takes a desperate risk.

As the Congress nears its close, Mavrys takes tentative steps toward a new future; but then everything is thrown into doubt again. For Railu, too, both her professional and her personal life are shrouded in uncertainty. For Jerya, too, the coming years now seem to offer even more challenges than she has anticipated.

Book Five: Title? To be published ??? 

Jerya makes one more, and potentially final, return trip to the Sung Lands. In prospect are meetings with old friends, but also another confrontation with her old adversary Perriad. 

Accompanying her are Railu's step-daughter Sumyra and Jerya's former pupil Embrel. Both will make shocking, even shattering, discoveries about who they really are.

Book Six?

It could yet happen: watch this space, or better still subscribe to my mailing list.

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