Zadie McGrath – Zealot

In every book I’ve been obsessed with, I find myself drawn to that one insane side character whose purpose we never quite know. You know, the one who doesn’t have many lines, but each one seems like the writer was struck with sudden inspiration. So, I decided to expand on one such character’s story from the novel I’ve been writing for the past few years. The resulting sequence of chapters aims to give life to the little pieces of chaos that we glimpse everywhere, but rarely explore.

This novel is set in a medieval fantasy world and follows a race of people called the Dragonwings. In their society, everyone is expected to “bond” with a dragon as a teenager, and when you’re bonded, you can communicate telepathically with the dragon. Some bonded pairs with enhanced telepathic abilities can communicate not just to each other, but to people and dragons across the kingdom. These so-called nodes are mostly used as soldiers in the military, to keep in touch with the lords they fight for, since ordinary people can pass messages through a node and send them to someone else. However, not all people have the mental capability to be nodes themselves.

Historically, the Dragonwings have been at war with another group called the asvir, who are people who have elemental magic (fire/water/earth/air). The previous Dragonwing king struck a fragile peace with them that involved splitting up the land they were fighting over into many different city states. However, the old king has just died, and the story is told from the perspective of his youngest daughter, Vinara. The custom is for all the heirs to compete for the throne, so the lords of the kingdom are judging her against her twin older sisters. There are three families of lords: Mykhons, Kaiona, and Lytians. The Lytians have had a tense relationship with the throne since the royal family came into power, so they are always looking for an excuse to call Vinara and her family out.