When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love — The Stolen Kingdom by @JillianBoehmeTweet
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’d just finished filling the stoneware flagon when the front door opened and the clatter of boots filled the house. Quickly, I placed two goblets and the flagon on a wooden tray. I walked light-footed into the sitting room, its stone hearth dark in the heat of summer and Mother’s seat beside it still draped with the knit lap blanket she always used in wintertime. Somehow, none of us wanted to be the one to finally fold it away into the small trunk that held several other of her belongings.
Poppa, Kenton, and the two men stood assembled by the doorway in an awkward formation for a few seconds before Poppa gestured for everyone to sit. He raised his eyebrows at me.
“Ah, thank you, Mara. Will you set it down over here?”
I nodded, my gaze lingering for a breath or two on Poppa’s eyes, which were tender and spoke to me of his desire to draw me in, where he knew I wanted to be.
The only good thing that had come of Mother’s death, he’d said recently, was that he saw me more clearly, freed from the veil of protection Mother had always draped over me. He couldn’t give me what I really wanted, though. Nestar would take over Graylaern Vineyards someday, not me. And even if there were no Nestar, I could never do more than fix the meals and tend the house—and possibly continue to boss the workers.
Because I was a girl.
“I’ll come right to the point,” Jamery said.
“May I offer you some wine?” Poppa asked as he poured.
His secretary glanced at the wine as though he very much wanted some. Jamery offered a tight-lipped smile. “Very well, then. Thank you.”
He made his way toward the couch and the others followed. I stepped back, intending to stay as long as Poppa allowed me.
Jamery reached for a goblet. “Lord Nelgareth has expressed concern that your Firstfruits have fallen short over the past six months. I offered to come in person to sort out any miscommunication.”
My bones went rigid. There was no way Poppa had made a mistake.
Determined to show his always-present hospitality, Poppa smiled at Jamery’s secretary and gestured to the remaining goblet. “Please—have some wine. I’ll be happy to listen to your concerns.” He turned his attention to me. “Will you bring some goblets for Kenton and me, please?”
I nodded—too curtly, probably—and glanced once more at the men. Jamery rolled his cup between his hands, his mouth twisted like a thirsty leaf. I shuddered and returned to the kitchen to fetch more goblets, fighting a sudden urge to stay there, hidden among the pots and pans and cooking mess. Invisible, the way Mother had kept me. Safe.
But I didn’t want to be invisible. So I grabbed two goblets and turned to face the sitting room. Safety be damned.
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.
Website * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads
CAN YOU, FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW YOU ALREADY, TELL SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU BECAME AN AUTHOR?
I was born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania and ended up in Nashville, TN with my songwriting husband (who fortunately decided to pursue other things). Our five children were all born in Middle Tennessee, and I’ve homeschooled them from kindergarten up (four have already graduated).
Writing blends beautifully with raising (and homeschooling) children – the perfect work-at-home situation. Mind you, I didn’t start writing for many years after delving into motherhood. It took me a while to rediscover my writerly self, and I finally self-published a collection of humorous anecdotes on motherhood in 2003.
Though I’d started writing poems and stories when I was six, I somehow came to believe, after publishing my book of essays, that I could never write a novel. That changed one night as I was curled up reading The Little White Horse and thinking to myself, I could do better than this. (I mean, I hated that book. Who knew it would take hating a book to get me to try my hand at writing one!)
And so my first, very horrible novel was born. It took me five years—and several more novels—to land a literary agent, and another seven years (plus a new agent) to sell my first book (STORMRISE). To date, I’ve written 13 novels, two of which have been published. That’s a lot of writing to have “become” what I am today!
I’m thankful for my journey, though it wasn’t easy along the way. When you work for something for so long, it makes the fulfillment of the dream that much sweeter. In the end, I think I’m doing what I was supposed to be doing all along. And that’s a wonderful feeling.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More YA fantasy books! And possibly, at some point, some YA SF.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
I love this question! Names are so important to me. My daughter Maggie, when she was around 10, came up with the name “Maralyth” for one of the main characters in my first novel. (This is one of my favorite things to tell people, because Maggie grew up to be an amazing writer—and that first, horrible novel is what inspired her to write!) “Alac” is just a variant of “Alec”; I like the way it looks with the second “a”. The rest of the names in The Stolen Kingdom are either completely made up or are slight tweaks of names that already exist—“Ellian” is a sort of cross between “Lillian” and “Ellen”; “Nelgareth” is made up, but his first name, Ogden, is real; Zeth is sort of “Seth” with a “Z”, which feels stronger; “Nestar” is a variant of “Nester”; “Doreck” is made up; and “Graylearn” is also my own creation.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Because this book is based on the very first (horrible) novel I ever wrote, I dearly enjoyed delving into the world I’d created so many years ago, giving it more depth and richness—and developing beloved characters into new, stronger versions of themselves.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
If you love a good lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers story, this is for you. Also, if you’re mad about secret magic, spare heirs, and girls who aren’t afraid of trying to steal someone’s throne, you’ll enjoy The Stolen Kingdom!
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Almost a dozen. Writing is not for the faint-hearted!
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Sage, which is Maralyth’s favorite herb, mixed with a woodsy scent.
What did you edit out of this book?
Oh, my goodness. I edited out both a son and a daughter of Lord Nelgareth, as neither one ultimately had an important enough role to play in the story. So many deleted words!
DO YOU BELIEVE IN WRITER’S BLOCK?
In a word, no.
I do, however, believe in PLOTTER’S BLOCK, which might be what folks mean when they talk about “writer’s block”. Let me explain.
One can always sit down to write words—there is nothing (aside from unconsciousness) that can stop this flow. If you get “stuck” in the middle of writing, you can always write something else for a while. There are all sorts of ways to get your creativity flowing, and all you need is a willingness to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, more likely).
Plotter’s block, however, is the monster that stops me dead. A well-plotted story has certain points that need to be hit at a certain time. Planning these plot points, for me, is an excruciating business, and my longest bouts of staring-into-nothing are directly related to my inability to figure out the next logical thing to happen.
The same thing can happen if you’re the type of writer who likes to plot-on-the-go (“pantsing”, it’s often called). When you get stuck on a plot point, it may feel like writer’s block because you’re in the middle of your story and you don’t know what to write next. But trust me – it’s the plot that’s got you stuck, and not the writing.
The better my planning on a given novel, the easier my drafting process. (“Easy” is relative; drafting isn’t my favorite part of writing, either!) It’s true that I still end up staring sometimes—but it’s not writer’s block. It’s painstakingly deciding on exactly the right line of dialogue or the perfect sentence to end a chapter.
Staring at nothing is an unfortunate part of the writing process. But it’s not writer’s block. If nothing else, it’s an excuse to eat something chocolate. Which is definitely not something to complain about.
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?’-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.
The Stolen Kingdom is based on the first very novel I ever wrote, entitled The Seeds of Perin Faye. It’s a completely different story now!
When I was struggling to get the plot right, I pulled out several wooden “Little People” (from my childhood), assigned them each a character name, and moved them around the room, trying to figure out who was supposed to do what.
One of my favorite things to do is to have a Barbie and Ken version of my main characters. Maralyth and Alac are currently standing on my desk (you may have seen them on Instagram!).
My daughter Maggie is a fabulous writer, and we have the same literary agent! She always reads for me, and her input is invaluable. Sometimes I feel like I can’t write without her!
One of the characters in The Seeds of Perin Faye was a tall, Gandalf-y character named Soldan. My husband still does impersonations of Soldan’s ridiculously deep bow. (There is no Soldan in The Stolen Kingdom!)
Playlists are extremely important to me. When I first started working on The Stolen Kingdom, I listened to the same music I’d used for The Seeds of Perin Faye. Call me nostalgic! Ultimately, though, it just didn’t work for me. I finally created a new, better playlist that threw me right into the world whenever I sat down to write.
Chapter endings take longer than almost any other part of drafting. They have to be JUST RIGHT.
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