The Stolen Kingdom by Jillian Boehme Genre: YA Fantasy
“A bold girl, a kingdom under attack, magic everywhere—I devoured it in one sitting! This book is one wild ride!”
—Tamora Pierce on Stormrise
Nothing is quite as it seems in this thrilling YA fantasy adventure by Jillian Boehme, The Stolen Kingdom!
For a hundred years, the once-prosperous kingdom of Perin Faye has suffered under the rule of the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings. Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner's daughter, has no idea her hidden magical power is proof of a secret bloodline and claim to the throne. Alac Thungrave, the king’s second son, has always been uncomfortable with his position as the spare heir—and the dark, stolen magic that comes with ruling.
When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love.
I pushed my back against the door until it latched behind me, facing my father at all times—another royal requirement. He regarded me with mild interest—the best I could hope for—as I approached him. His silk robe was encrusted with a ridiculous number of gemstones that winked in the light of the candelabras sitting at either end of the desk. The crown resting on his pale blond head was a mute reminder of his station. I swore he slept in it.
He rested his quill in its holder and folded his hands before him. “I’m leaving at first light.”
I nodded. For a brief moment, I thought perhaps he was going to invite me to join him, the way Cannon had joined him on his late-summer progresses in the past. But that was less likely than his telling me I had an ounce of worth in the royal household, and I didn’t want to go, anyway.
“I’ll be cutting my journey short, of course, considering Cannon’s upcoming wedding.” As if I didn’t know that. “You’ll need to offer him your support while I’m away.”
“I’m sure Cannon doesn’t need anything from me.”
Father’s eyes blazed silently. “I don’t need to remind you that, until he has a son, you’re second in line for the throne.”
I shrank smaller in my skin. The throne—and the dark secrets that came with it—was never something I’d aspired to.
“Yes, Your Grace.” Holy God, I hated calling him that.
“There’s something else.” Father reached into his top desk drawer and pulled out a plate and a small dagger.
I quailed. I’d seen the dagger before, glowing with an unearthly light as he cut the flesh of his own hand and spilled the blood into a crystal goblet. He hadn’t cried out or even flinched—just cut his flesh as though it were a sack of grain. I was six, hiding beneath a tablecloth in my father’s private chapel, where I knew I wasn’t allowed. And I remembered it like it was yesterday.
Father took the plate and moved it beneath his hand. As I watched, thirteen-year-old terror clenching my heart, he made a small cut in his palm, deep enough to draw a steady stream of blood droplets onto the pristine, white plate.
“I trust there will never be a need for the magic to pass to you,” he said, his eyes on the blood. “But I can’t leave anything to chance.”
Before I could react, he grabbed my hand and slashed it with the dagger. I sucked in a hot breath, more from shock than pain. As I watched, horrified, he pulled my hand over the plate and allowed my blood to mingle with his own.
By the time he released my hand, I was too mesmerized by what was happening on the plate to pay the pain much heed. As my father uttered words I could barely hear and couldn’t understand, the blood sizzled and smoked, swirling slowly on the plate until it formed a perfect circle. Instead of crimson, it was black.
Wordlessly, he tipped the plate so that the darkened blood spilled into a metal box the size of a shoe buckle. He flipped its hinged lid closed, and I swore I saw, for a moment, a thin, black mist swirl around the box before quickly dissipating.
“Take this.” He held out the box, which was attached to a chain. “Wear it.”
I didn’t want to touch it, but refusing the king wasn’t something even a son could do. Especially a second-born.
“Why?” I whispered.
No way in damnation did I want that. “From what?”
“From harm.” I must’ve had a stupid expression on my face, because his grew impatient. “I wouldn’t go on this progress if I didn’t need to waste time convincing people of the merits of my war effort. If something were to happen to me, the transferal of the power to Cannon could be delayed. You know how dangerous that would be.”
It was what the Thungrave kings had prided themselves on—a glorious history I’d been forced to memorize. A century ago, a dark magic had appeared that roamed free, destroying anything in its path. The Thungrave ritual, passed from father to son, ensured that the magic would stay contained.
My father refused to acknowledge the truth—that the roaming magic was never meant for the Thungraves, and that using a ritual to harness its power didn’t make it rightfully ours.
But I couldn’t say that.
Reluctantly, I took the locket and held it in my palm. “That’s it? I wear it and nothing can hurt me?”
“And when you return, I can take it off?”
His smile was slow and unnerving. “You won’t want to take it off. But, no.” He pressed his fingers together, tip to tip. “Wear it until Cannon produces an heir.”
“That could take years.”
“Then you’ll wear it for years,” he said.
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Jillian is known to the online writing community as Authoress, hostess of Miss Snark's First Victim, a blog for aspiring authors. In real life, she holds a degree in Music Education, sings with the Nashville Symphony Chorus, and homeschools her remaining youngster-at-home. She's still crazy in love with her husband of more than thirty years and is happy to be surrounded by family and friends amid the rolling knolls of Middle Tennessee.
Lots of years ago, I wrote my very first, very terrible novel, entitled The Seeds of Perin Faye. It was an absolute mess, as first novels are wont to be. Even still, I got a couple of requests from literary agents who were likely horrified when they saw what had turned up in their mailboxes.
(Actual mailboxes. Because this was back when e-querying was a new phenomenon.)
Fast forward to a couple of years ago. STORMRISE was soon to debut, and my editor at Tor Teen was ready to choose which of my stories to publish next (I’d signed a 2-book deal). The plan was to come up with three synopses so that my editor could choose her favorite. Slight problem, though—I only had two story ideas to offer.
And then it hit me—what if I rewrote The Seeds of Perin Faye? There was so much about the world I’d created that I loved. I knew it would have to be a complete rewrite, but it was an exciting prospect. It needed a fresh twist, though—something to take it to the next level. And I wasn’t sure what to do.
In the original, very-bad story, one of the main characters was Nestar, a 16-year-old who found himself embroiled in a plot to steal the throne that, apparently, belonged to him. Meanwhile, his younger sister Maralyth and her best friend Alac were busy with magic stones and time-traveling grandmothers (I’m cringing as I type).
My big A-HAH moment arrived when I had the thought: What if, instead of Nestar being the one with a secret bloodline to the throne, I make that Maralyth’s story? And so The Stolen Kingdom was born.
Those of you who have read Stormrise know that I love a good, strong female protagonist. Giving Maralyth the exciting storyline that once belonged to her older brother Nestar felt absolutely right. Her friend Alac, of course, turned into the king’s second son—and suddenly I had a delicious bit of tension that felt like it could become a great story.
When people ask me what inspired The Stolen Kingdom, my short answer is, “It’s my very first novel, rewritten!” It’s a fun answer, and it’s the truth.
I’ve loved Maralyth and Alac and Nestar and for a long time; I love them even more now that they’ve evolved. I hope you grow as fond of them as I have always been!
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