In the distant land of deserts and islands, the servants of the god rule the land, his wishes conveyed through the Oracle and interpreted by the High Priestess. Mirany is the new Bearer, afraid of her perilous duties for the god in the rituals of the Oracle, and fearful of her secret questioning …Does the god truly exist? The priestess is corrupt and in secret partnership with the General, ruler, since the God-on-Earth, the Archon, has no real power – chosen as a child, his face always masked, never seen by outsiders. Should any national tragedy occur, he is also the sacrifice. When the old Archon dies, his spirit migrates into a child, and there are several candidates for succession. But Mirany begins to experience the real visions of the god, discovers which child is the rightful heir, and that the General and High Priestess intend to choose another child and seize power. With only a tomb-robbing scribe and a mad musician for allies, Mirany begins her quest – knowing that, if she is betrayed, her fate will be to be walled up alive in the Archon’s tomb …
Breathtaking sequel to The Oracle, the Archon must face a journey of treachery and adventure across the pitiless desert in a bid to save his people …The Archon vows to lead a pilgrimage to the Well of Songs to seek peace with the Rain Queen and save the land from the terrible drought. The Well is hidden in the mountains across the desert. But he is not the only one with his sight set on the mountains: Argelin, the tyrannical and power-hungry General, follows behind, an ever-present threat, with his heart set on the riches to be found. With only Oblek, Seth and two tomb-thieves known as the Jackal and the Fox for company, the Archon’s journey is treacherous and dangerous. They must face the Great Desolation and the monstrous animals outlined on the desert floor, animals with mythical powers, and they must survive without Mirany, bearer-of-the-god and true friend of the Archon, who has had to remain behind to face a threat much closer to home …
The final story in the Oracle sequence. We are again in the distand land of deserts and islands ruled by one god whose wishes are conveyed through the Oracle. The Archon, child god-on-earth, returns from his journey across the desert to the Well of Songs, to find the tyrannical General Argelin has siezed control and his reign of madness is oppressing the Two Lands. He has publicly denounced the gods, and established a reign of terror. Mirany is in hiding, and the Nine are scattered. Will Argelin’s obsession bring the Rain Queen’s wrath down on them all? And whose is the sinister new power hidden in the sign of the Scarab? In the descent into anarchy, Mirany and the Archon must attempt the final, impossible journey of the soul. Through the Nine Gateways into death. And back.
I wanted to write something a little exotic here. I’d been reading a lot of Greek myth and history, and decided to mix it with the death rituals of the ancient Egyptians and a few touches of Aztec, to create the hot desert country of the Two Lands, the living above and the dead below. My main character is Mirany, a shy and scared priestess, and at first I tried writing in first person, in Mirany’s voice. But this didn’t work, and the voice that was speaking in my ear wasn’t hers at all. It turned out to be the voice of the scorpion god himself, and so I decided to preface each section of the book with his comments, direct to the reader. This was great fun, maybe the most enjoyable part of the book to write.
Mirany discovers that the Oracle is being betrayed by its leading priestess, the Speaker, Hermia, and her lover, General Argelin. Together they are plotting to kill the old Archon and place a new boy on the throne. At first Mirany doesn’t believe in the god but when he starts telling her what to do about this she has to change her mind. She teams up with a scribe called Seth, a tomb thief known as The Jackal, and Oblek, a drunken and sometimes violent musician, in order to find and protect the new Archon. Who, it turns out, doesn’t need that much protecting from anyone.
When I wrote this the Gulf War was raging, and the news broadcasts were full of deserts and death. Obviously that influenced the books to some degree. But I really enjoyed the luxury of describing that hot, beautiful land, and contrasting the blue sunlit island with the narrow dirty streets of the Port, and below them all, the black silent corridors of the Tombs of the Dead. It was also a chance to probe interesting questions about ambitions and motives and what divinity implies. And I hope, to write a really engrossing rip-roaring adventure.