Flame in the Palace by Seluna Drake, Book One of Lady of Avalion: released today!
Avalion is a kingdom of magic and mystery. It is a land of rolling hills, lush forests, flowering meadows, and towering mountains. Imposing castles, sprawling cities, and grand manors lie at the heart of its five duchies. Around these, the landscape is dotted with roadside inns, small towns, and humble villages. Each duchy is unique, specializing in different trade goods and occupying distinct geographic features that set them apart both physically and culturally from one another. At the heart of all this is Ilona, a sweeping, bustling city anchored by a magnificent, towering royal palace. While the island kingdom seems a unified monolith, undercurrents of political machinations fueled by jealousy and greed threaten to tear it apart.
Flame in the Palace by Seluna Drake launched today! I wanted to take some time to help spread the word about this wonderful story and share my own journey through Avalion.
I must be honest; I am biased when it comes to Flame in the Palace. Seluna Drake hired me to edit this book, and over the course of our collaboration on the project, we became good friends.
However, I would not be putting my professional credibility on the line if I didn’t think this book deserved the attention. Also, I’ve gushed about other titles I’ve edited when the author has publicly acknowledged my involvement, such as with The Quest for the Golden Plunger by Jackson Dickert or They Stole the Earth by D.W. Hitz, so my friendship with Seluna Drake has also not created a unique situation in regard to Flame in the Palace.
All that said, I’m too close to the book to write an unbiased review, but I didn’t want that to stop me from sharing my journey through Avalion.
As mentioned, Avalion is an island kingdom. The setting is a medieval fantasy world filled with magic, but it is unlike many of its kin. It is low fantasy in many regards, with no elves, dwarves, or goblins. There are rare instances of fantastical creatures, and a solitary minotaur features early in the book. Magic is a closely guarded secret of the nobility, a thing of mystery and wonder to most.
Noble houses lord over the five duchies of Avalion, and the king rules from the central palace of Ilona. The books protagonist is Myria, a humble maid working at her grandmother’s roadside inn near the town of Everhaven, in the duchy of Fairthorne. She is an estranged member of House Bramble, the lords of Fairthorne, and cousin to the duke. Little does she know that this strenuous tie to the nobility will soon thrust her to the center of a web of political intrigue and romance.
The main thrust of the plot in Flame in the Palace is the custom the royal family uses to arrange marriages for their heirs. Prince Leor, soon to be King of Avalion, is in need of a wife. Thus, as is customary, each of the five ducal houses sends an eligible suitor to compete over a summer of contests and social events, ranging from state dinners and ballroom galas to a joust and other adventurous challenges. Duke Bramble, having no eligible daughters of his own, must turn to his cousin should they wish to participate.
Myria has little desire to enter the theater of politics, but upon meeting Leor, she is smitten by the charismatic prince. Her cousin the duke promises to save her grandmother’s financially struggling inn and the only home she’s ever known, and she is promised access to the arcane secrets so jealously guarded by the nobility.
Thus is the fiery, fiercely independent Myria taken from the familiar comforts of the Morning Glory tavern and the surrounding Talking Tree Forest to be plunged into a world of political intrigue. Along the way, she gets to know the other members of her family and is mentored by her aunt, the dowager widow Olympe. She also must contend with her rival suitors, some with whom she forges bonds of friendship, others from whose machinations she must guard herself.
Chief among these new friendships is Emiri, the court mage of the royal household and close friend—nearly a brother—to Prince Leor himself. As Myria contends for Leor’s favor in hopes of one day becoming queen, she also studies under Emiri to learn the secrets of the nobility’s magical ways.
While Avalion is full of lush forests, sparkling rivers, and soaring palaces, there are shadows in the cracks that threaten the foundation upon which this peaceful kingdom is built. And as Myria peels back the layers of these mysteries, she finds herself at the center of an existential crisis for the entire island nation.
I wish I could say more about Flame in the Palace, but I don’t want to spoil the journey for you.
I normally am not a fan of romantic tales. I stick to fantasy that concerns itself more with battlefields than ballrooms, but Flame in the Palace struck a chord with me. I found myself enthralled by the large, wonderfully well-rounded cast of characters and the detailed, varied, and immersive environments. As Myria travelled across the kingdom, I felt like I was along for the ride. When she felt sparks of love and pangs of loss, I felt them as well. I dove deep into this story and was forlorn when I had to leave Avalion to come back to our reality. I’ll be returning to Avalion for the second book, hopefully sooner rather than later, and I am confident the sparks kindled in the first book will grow to a raging inferno in the second.
Get your copy of Flame in the Palace today! I am confident your will enjoy your journey into Avalion!
About the author of Flame in the Palace
Seluna Drake is a high school English teacher who writes and independently publishes a variety of fantasy novels, poems, and potentially narrative-based games. Most of the time she passes as a chaotic creative who spends way too much time on video games and not enough time talking to her therapist.