Whenever I start the second or later book in a series, I have a dilemma. Do I go back and re-read the first book(s), or just dive right into the latest release?
To help readers with this, I include a summary of the previous books. I try to make these funny, and have done this for all my novels.
BE WARNED! If you haven’t read the books being summarized, there are massive spoilers on these pages!
You can read the rest of the summaries at magitechchronicles.com/previously-on.
Let’s get to it.
In an announcer’s voice: Last time on The Magitech Chronicles…
Shit just got real, yo. At the end of War Mage, Nebiat seized control of Krox through the spell her father Teodros had created. Our Main Bad Guy (TM) is more powerful than ever, and we know right off the bat that she wants to blow up Shaya.
In Krox Rises, we get a scene with Nebiat asking Krox for the God Instruction Manual, but Krox gives some predictably cryptic replies. Nebiat decides she’s going to lay the smack down on her enemies, and is more than a little butthurt at how things played out in War Mage.
The Krox were supposed to win. Now she has the power of an elder god. She can cheat.
Nebiat tries to open a Fissure, but it collapses on itself, because she is a star, and a Fissure can’t survive in the presence of a star. Krox explains that there are denizens in the Umbral Depths that even he fears, and that this is a security measure to prevent the denizens from getting out. It’s almost like the author is preparing for a spin-off series.
Krox tells Nebiat that if she wants to throw around god-sized spells she needs god-sized magic. She goes to the planet where her species were born, and finds that the Krox are born from primals attracted to the headless corpse of the Earthmother, one of the oldest Wyrms in the sector. Krox has been using her to create armies of dragons, which the sector has taken to calling ‘Krox’.
He drains a bit of the Earthmother’s magic, but is very careful not to take too much. Now Nebiat has enough earth to do some truly dastardly stuff.
We flip to Aran.
He and the rest of the company are being led onto a talk show set to meet with Governor Austin, the leader of Ternus. Aran and company are hailed as war heroes, presented by Erica Tharn, the reporter we met in War Mage.
Then a second star appears over Ternus. Guess who it is? Yup, Krox is here and he’s playing for all the marbles. Aran feels immense earth magic, and it turns out that Nebiat has increased the density of all minerals comprising the crust, mantle, and core of the planet.
This was super fun to research, and I got to learn all about what would happen to a planet if you suddenly doubled its density. Try to imagine doubling your weight. Many people wouldn’t be able to walk. Even those who could would have trouble surviving for very long. Heart attacks would kill hundreds of millions in the first few days. Within a few weeks almost everything would be dead.
Most stuff wouldn’t live that long though. Every satellite, ship, and defense platform in orbit would come crashing down, and be completely incapable of escaping the planet’s gravity well. The raining debris would create a nuclear winter.
Nebiat is not a very nice person.
Aran and company are at the top of a giant space elevator, which begins to buckle under the increased gravity. The governor tells them that the Talon is here, and he will give them their ship back if they’ll get him off the station.
We get a tense run back to the ship with Aran carrying Tharn. She grows pale, and has a heart attack just as they reach the airlock. I felt pretty bad about killing her, but it made sense. The human body can only withstand so much.
Our heroes pull some standard heroics, and safely get the Talon airborne. We see the space elevator slam into the doomed planet, and watch all the stations and ships crashing. It was a hell of a way to kick off a book.
Meanwhile, Voria is trying to muster a defense at Shaya. Her godsight tells her that Krox is coming, and that Shaya is doomed unless she can somehow find a way to resurrect Shaya. They need a goddess to oppose a god, but that seems impossible since Teodros drank the pool of life, and now they don’t even have enough magic to keep the dome going that protects the part of the planet with an atmosphere.
Voria meets with Ducius and the caretakers and they perform a ritual to stabilize the pool. It takes some of their magic, and amplifies it through Ikadra. It’s enough to keep the dome going for a year, and then they can perform another ritual…assuming there’s a planet left after Krox comes.
Inura and Kazon show up in her quarters and Inura tells her that she’s going to have to figure this out on her own, but that she can do it, and all the tools she needs are here. Have you ever had a boss who gave you an impossible job and no resources? Voria is pretty pissed, but Inura just translocates away. We’re very annoyed.
Flip back to Aran, who is still helping the Ternus government. They’re running relief efforts from the Talon until they can get the Wyrm Hunter back and transfer command. Ternus has a smashing plan. They want to buy a fleet of corrupted ships from the Inurans so they can fight back against Krox.
Aran knows this is a terrible idea, but also knows they’ll never listen to him. Plus, it turns out he has other problems. Kheross is all over his ass about getting his daughter Rhea back. Plus, Nara, Kaho, and Frit are in the brig, a gift from Ternus to Voria.
Aran heads down to ask Nara why she betrayed them. She explains that Talifax returned her memories, and that she can no longer be trusted. Talifax wants her to kill Voria, so she should be kept locked up to prevent that.
Aran gets some coffee, which I think I’m going to do too. BRB.
Now armed with coffee, Aran sends a missive to Voria, and they finally get a chance to compare notes. Voria thinks Aran should go with the governor to Yanthara, where they can buy this fleet they’re after.
Apparently one of Eros’s last acts was to hide Rhea, because he thought she’d be important. He chose to hide her on Yanthara at a dream catalyst. Aran is thrilled to hear this, because it means he can finally get Kheross off his ass.
Crewes is from Yanthara, and we’re shocked (not shocked) when it turns out that the priestess at the temple is his ex-girlfriend. We get to see Crewes put into an uncomfortable romantic situation, and instead of Aran going into the Catalyst, like everyone expects, poor Crewes has to do it.
He finds himself in a jungle that stretches in all directions. Sarala, his ex and the priestess of Shi, tells him that if he uses his technology it will betray him, so he has to abandon his armor and weapons.
Crewes laughs and refuses. He flies up over the jungle using his spellarmor and sees a purple glow in the middle of a crater. Crewes starts flying toward it, but doesn’t get very far when his armor disappears and he plummets into the canopy…buck-ass naked.
For the first time Crewes directly manifests fire magic the way a war mage would. He saves himself, just barely, but is pretty banged up when he hits the forest floor. He lands on top of a long, straight branch, which seems perfect for a walking stick.
Before he gets far he realizes he’s being shadowed by a ghost leopard, which are ruthless killers of the deep jungle. The cat attacks him and he fends it off, but it continues to follow him for some reason.
Eventually Crewes reaches the center of the crater, and falls backwards onto a bed of leaves. He stares up at the sky and sees a battle playing out between gods. The elder god Shivan is cut in half, and those halves land on separate hemispheres. One is fire, and the other dream.
Clever readers figured out that the Temple of Shi and the Temple of Van are worshipping halves of the same elder god. That will definitely play a role in book 7. Kudos for figuring it out.
Anyway, Crewes realizes that the cat that’s following him is actually his armor, and the walking stick is his rifle. He’s pretty annoyed by all this symbolic representation crap, and more annoyed when it turns out that his armor can turn into a cat whenever it wants. He now has a ghost leopard named Neeko-Kan following him around.
Crewes journeys into the dream and rescues Rhea, the Outrider. We see a vision from Rhea’s point of view where she and Kheross are fighting off their corrupted brethren. Crewes convinces Rhea that it’s just a memory, and she returns…only to immediately reject Kheross because he is still corrupted by the blood of Nefarius.
She reveals that anyone touched by it is a conduit for Nefarius. The goddess can see through their eyes, and learn all their secrets. She urges them to kill her father. Aran refuses and won’t turn on an ally. He allows Kheross to leave peacefully, and wishes him well.
Flash back to Voria as she journeys down to the Chamber of Shaya for answers. Shaya shows her that there is a cavern under the tree, and we get to see Shaya’s death scene. It turns out that the tree is over her grave, and the goddess isn’t really a tree.
In fact, the tree is actually the great spear Worldender, wielded by Shivan when he killed Shaya. Voria realizes that Shaya’s magic is still under the tree, and that losing the pool isn’t as catastrophic as we first thought.
A bit later in the book we get another vision, and this time we see Shaya becoming a goddess. She’s the commander of something called the Vagrant Fleet (uh oh…another spin-off series), and she uses worship from every person on every ship to help transform her into a goddess.
Inura provides the rest of the magic, and Voria watches him funnel the magic through Ikadra. We see a version of Ikadra that is naive, and quickly realize that the source of the poop jokes is actually Shaya. She’s a terrible influence.
Now Voria understands what she needs to do (more poop jokes, obviously).
She calls a meeting with Ducius and the caretakers and explains that they need to convince their people that not only can she become a goddess, but she’ll be strong enough to stop Krox. She herself doesn’t believe it, but she somehow needs to convince them. Ducius agrees to put his hatred aside, and he and the caretakers start convincing the people to help her rise as a goddess.
Flash back to Aran. Skare has delivered a fleet of black ships to Ternus, and Ternus wants Aran to help power them up. Since the ships can drain magic it stands to reason that they can suck a Catalyst dry. Ternus believes that void is the most important aspect, so they want him to lead a raid on the Skull of Xal.
Aran’s initial instinct is to say no, but Austin agrees to use those ships to fight Krox when he attacks Shaya. They’re desperately short on tools that will hurt a god, and Ternus wants payback for what Krox did to their homeworld. Aran reluctantly agrees.
They arrive at the Skull and the governor wants to fly right in and take what they need. Aran explains that Catalysts have guardians, and that they have no idea what this one is capable of. They need to be cautious.
Sure enough, they are opposed by a potent demon army, led by the demon queen Malila. The black ships try to use their magic-draining tendrils, which have some success against the lesser demons. The ships vacuum up a little void magic, but then they try assaulting Malila directly.
It doesn’t go well.
Malila reverses the flow and sucks the magic from one of the ships, which starts falling toward the Ternus troops. Aran and Nara manage to knock it out of the way, and the other Ternus ships retreat, leaving them to deal with an angry demigod. Not that angry, though, as it turns out.
Aran and Nara are invited to speak with her, and she tells them that they are, in fact, tools she created. Haven’t they ever wondered why their names were so similar? She is trying to resurrect her father, and they are a part of that plan.
She agrees to allow one hundred mages to enter the light, and come away with a piece of Xal. But Aran and Nara must be two of the mages. They agree.
We get some more cool scenes of the godswar. Nara sees how Talifax first tricked Xal. Aran sees how Xal’s body was devoured by a host of gods, including the ‘good’ ones. Xal turns Aran into something called a Hound of Xal, which effectively allows him to track and drain magic. He’s designed to kill gods, though Aran doesn’t yet realize it.
Flip over to Kheross, who is hovering in space as a dragon. Talifax appears near him and we basically get a ‘one more job’ scenario. If Kheross will do one more job for Talifax, the Talifax will drain the void magic from him, and purge him of Nefarius’s black touch.
Kheross knows it’s probably a trick, but all Talifax wants him to do is open a door at the right time. Sounds pretty simple, so Kheross agrees.
Flip back to Voria. She’s got the ritual set up and is pretty much good to go, but Drakkon arrives in human form. He brings her enough of Marid’s water magic to turn Voria into a demigod, because he knows that Shaya’s power will not be enough. Yay! We finally get a win.
The magic gives Voria a heightened sense of euphoria, basically making her drunk/high until she crashes. Voria greets her mother and Skare, and thanks them and Ternus for bringing the black ships to help them fight.
We get a reunion between Voria and the company, and everybody is feeling good! It’s totally a trap. Voria goes back to her quarters to sleep it off, because she has to become a god in the morning.
Flash over to Nara who is still sitting in a cell with Frit and Kaho. Time stops, and Talifax steps out of the shadows. He taunts her, and says she’ll kill Voria. She says she won’t.
A few scenes later Kheross comes walking into the brig. Guess which door he has to open to get his freedom? Kheross releases Nara, Frit, and, Kaho and then disappears for the rest of the book.
Nara is terrified. She doesn’t want to kill Voria, but realizes that Talifax is 100% certain that she will. Up until this point I planted several little clues about how the ritual of raising a goddess works. You don’t need a body. You only need a soul. Ikadra can store a soul.
Nara goes to Voria’s chamber and straight gats her. We get to see Voria’s cooling corpse, and Nara crying over it. The scene was pretty brutal to write, even though I knew Voria was coming back.
Meanwhile, Nebiat/Krox are getting ready to attack. Nebiat does something that triggers Krox, not that he can do anything about it. She consumes all of the Earthmother’s magic at once, removing her as a permanent resource. Basically she eats the Catalyst.
Nebiat spends the magic to awaken every drake on the planet. Effectively she rebuilds the Krox race, and replaces all the dragons that have been killed fighting against the Confederacy and in previous wars.
She takes a few hundred of those dragons, and a bunch of fire elementals, and then heads to Shaya to crush her hated rival.
When she arrives, Voria hasn’t risen, and Krox is able to attack the shield directly. Aran and the Talon do what they can to fight her army, but it isn’t going well. Aran gets ballsy, and attacks Krox directly. He guides the Talon inside the body of a god.
Back to Voria. Nara finds a way to modify the ritual, and they are able to raise Voria as a goddess. Voria steps up and starts to fight Krox, but it’s clear that she’s totally outclassed. The Shade of Shaya tells Voria that the Spellship is that weapon. The ship fits in Voria’s palm as a goddess, and she ignites it into a double bladed light—uh—sword, which is powered by the faith of the people inside the ship.
Voria brawls with Krox, but Krox is simply too strong. She’s losing. There’s no hope. =O
We flash back to Aran inside Krox. Aran uses his newfound ability to track and absorb magic. First he rips out the void magic Krox took from Xal all those millennia ago. Then he finds the Heart of Fire, and sucks away a bunch of flame.
The Talon grows massively in size and power, and so does Aran (he grows in power, not size). He hasn’t quite passed the threshold into true godhood, but by the rules of the roleplaying system we’re building he’s at the very edge of heroic mortal.
Unfortunately, Krox still rips the great tree out of the planet and shatters it. He claims Worldender, the oldest object in creation. Aran does enough damage that Krox retreats since he and Nebiat have what they want.
Voria looks at her ruined world, and replaces the tree, then gives the entire planet an atmosphere. Never again will they need a ritual or a dome. She creates a self-sustaining world, though there are few survivors to populate it. Most died in Krox’s assault.
In the last chapter Nebiat returns to her world and brags to Krox about what a badass she is. She didn’t kill Voria, but she removed her power base, and claimed the most powerful object in creation.
Now, she plans to sit back and grow in strength while her enemies fight each other, then strike at a critical moment when they are all weakened.
Which brings us to Nefarius. Nefarius will rise, and Nebiat has not been idle.
On to Nefarius!