What is Empire of Masks and what can you expect to read in the series? EOM starts off with Highlords of Phaer. Highlords of Phaer was originally a prelude in Nightbird that got out of hand. By the time I finished the prelude, it was three chapters long, and I realized it had a story worthy of its own book, so I wrote it as something of a prequel.
Eidolan is a land in the world of Hedon. It is an arid, rocky desert filled with all manner of dangerous creatures. Powerful creatures called Necrophages terrorized the human tribes. The Necrophages treated the humans as little more than cattle to serve them and slaughter in their necromantic rites and rituals. Just over a thousand years ago, the humans rose up, and with the aid of their newly discovered sorcerous power, they all but purged the empire of Necrophages, driving the few survivors out of the fabled city of Phaer and across the sea.
The sorcerers created a vast storm, the Great Tempest, as a barrier to prevent the Necrophages from ever returning. In less than two hundred years, the human tribes founded five great cities: Nibbenar on the coast nearest the Great Tempest, Velaroth in southwest central Eidolan, Vulcrad, the industrial heart of the empire, Thuum, a city named for the fierce warriors and brilliant craftsmen that inhabited it, and Glisteran, the land’s breadbasket, one of the few green places on the continent capable of providing food for all the great cities. The sorcerers, those heroes that were able to defeat the Necrophage’s foul magic, claimed Phaer as their own.
One man, Fredric Velarius, united the great cities under one banner. Fearful of the sorcerers’ power, Phaer stood apart from the new kingdom, a city state unto itself. And it remained neutral even during the inevitable battles resulting from Fredric’s desire to unite the cities. But as wars and infighting continued, as greed and corruption spread through the land amongst those who held power, the sorcerers decided to once again intervene. They quashed rebellions within the cities, brutally put an end to the battles between rivals, and in the name of keeping the peace, declared themselves highlords over all of Eidolan.
However, as the mortal humans discovered, power brings corruption. Corruption brings greed. Greed stirs the hunger for more power. The sorcerers, once the people’s saviors, were now their masters. The ruling highlords and sorcerer class citizens saw themselves superior to the masses, who they considered to be little more than squabbling children who threw away their freedom. The protectors became masters, and they enjoyed their new role.
Nearly a millennia later, the highlords still enjoyed absolute power and servitude. Jareen Velarius, descendant of the first king of Eidolan, was a slave to Auberon Victore, the son of Velaroth’s sorceress overlord. Born into his position, Jareen was a dutiful slave to his master, but not all were so easily domesticated. His brother-in-law was a known radical who sought to bring down the highlords and achieve freedom for the people. It was a foolish idea. The sorcerers were more numerous and powerful than ever, and there was nothing the lowborn could do about it. But that was all about to change.
Auberon Victore was a powerful sorcerer in his own right, but his greatest desire was alchemy. He knew that his experiments and inventions were the key to changing the world and creating a legacy that would stand the test of time. His newest invention was a fiery, explosive powder he knew was the key to achieving his dreams if only he could find a purpose for it beyond its entertainment value. He was right on that account, but it would be Jareen who unlocks the powder’s full potential, and it was he who would change the world.
When circumstances force Jareen to question his role as a slave and shatters the man who had accepted his and his people’s lot in life, he takes Auberon’s fabulous discovery and creates weapons that he hopes will prove to be powerful enough to destroy the empire and free humanity from the sorcerers’ oppressive clutches.
Humanity has forgotten about the great evil that once plagued Eidolan, but the Necrophages remember, and they seek revenge for their defeat and exile above all else. Across the Tempest Sea, the storm has begun to wane. For Jareen Velarius, destroying the sorcerers means freedom. For the Necrophages, it means the removal of the last thing standing between them and plunging the world back into darkness. Enter a story where one man’s triumph may well spell disaster for all mankind. Who wins when success could bring about their ultimate destruction?
NEXT: Nightbird. Who is she? Can she save them from what is coming?