First, a few notes—because I habitually feel the need to explain more than is probably necessary. ; )

Temporally, this story is a sequel to The High King, following roughly the first year of Taran and Eilonwy's rule. That said, it is more akin to Taran Wanderer in tone and scope, with less high adventure and more introspection, character arc, and political intrigue. Whereas Taran Wanderer followed a personal journey of self-discovery, this traces a similar voyage of learning to navigate interpersonal relationships and the dynamics of trust, all in the context of adapting to new roles. This story is also much more of an ensemble piece than the Chronicles, with several co-protagonists rather than a nearly exclusive focus on Taran. The point of view will shift accordingly, with the relative prominence of certain characters changing as the story progresses.

A word of warning to the canon-purists out there: brace yourselves for a couple of liberties to be taken at the outset. I adhere quite strictly to anything explicitly mentioned in canon as having happened, but consider characters' backstories and events supposed to happen to be fair game for creative extrapolation. Moreover, I always strive to make the original characters ring true, and to follow the spirit of the Chronicles even when my writing style differs from Lloyd Alexander's. If I fail in any of those regards, please attribute it to lack of authorial skill rather than lack of concern or effort.

So. I cannot promise that this story is any good. After nearly two years of writing, then revising, then writing some more, then revising again (and again, and again, and again...), I fear I can no longer see the forest for the trees. I know what I set out to accomplish with this story, but am not confident that I have been entirely successful. Consider this a penultimate draft. Read it, offer constructive feedback if you feel so inclined, and eventually I will pick it up again to give it the final polish it needs.

Enjoy (I hope)!

~Z~