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…
Spellship kicks off with a new character, Kahotep—the son of Nebiat. Kaho is a true mage, and his brother Tobek is a war mage. Right off the bat, fans were like, oh, man—can’t wait to see these guys go up against Aran, Nara, and Crewes.
Well, you didn’t have to wait long. By Chapter 2, it’s all pew, pew, pew, whoomp, BOOM. Aran leads his company to assault the manor where Kaho and his companions are holed up. Nebiat slips out the back, and her hatchlings stay behind to delay Aran and the others.
Ree shows up in a spellfighter with her partner and wrecks Aran’s ambush. Thankfully, Frit has been attached to Aran’s company and turns the tide by raining voidflame down on their opponents.
Aran goes toe-to-toe with Tobek, the war mage, and they end up in a shocking stalemate, almost as if the author was setting up a confrontation at the end of the book. Aran is at a disadvantage, because he lacks spellarmor, while Tobek has a supercool suit of black spellarmor complete with screaming souls all along the surface. Every time Tobek kills someone, their soul is added.
Anyway, Tobek and Kaho escape through a Fissure. Aran and his company find Caretaker Grahl—the target of their raid—dead of self-inflicted wounds. Their mission was a success, but they’re all worried about the hatchlings who got away.
We cut to Frit, who is meeting with Nebiat in a small cafe. Frit has never been allowed to eat food, or to have a public holiday. Nebiat uses illusion to cloak them both so Frit can blend in and experience what freedom feels like. Frit realizes she’s being manipulated, but thus far, Nebiat hasn’t asked anything of her. She’s been nothing but friendly and sympathetic.
Meanwhile, Voria visits Eros, who is failing badly to use the Mirror of Shaya that we saw Aurelia use in the previous book. Eros reinstates Voria’s former rank of Major, and gives her back the Wyrm Hunter, which has been repaired over the three-month gap from Void Wyrm to Spellship.
Eros asks Voria to travel to Virkonna to beg for an alliance, which they both know the Last Dragonflight will never grant. It’s a cover story, because Voria believes the First Spellship is located somewhere on that world. She agrees, of course, because plot.
Aran finally has a day off, and is alone on the Talon. He’s just sitting down to check out a holovid when he’s attacked by a masked assassin. Let’s call her a dragon ninja because she’s from Virkonna and looks like a ninja. They aren’t actually called dragon ninjas in the book or the lore or anything, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get t-shirts made.
Anyway, Aran battles dragon ninja chick to a standstill, but the fight is interrupted when Nara comes back unexpectedly. The assassin flees, and Aran shares what he learns, which isn’t much. The woman was from Virkonna, and has come to satisfy her honor. Aran guesses it might have something to do with him having killed a dragon.
Voria returns to the Hunter and assumes command, but finds out that there’s a hitch. She’s in charge of the vessel, but has no authority over Davidson and his battalion. Ternus is no longer willing to trust her with troops, which stings, and means she’s basically a glorified taxi service. She accepts the situation, and meets briefly with Pickus. He’s given life magic by Shaya. We approve, because Pickus is cool.
We flip back to Kaho, who is meeting with the Council of Wyrms on Virkonna. This gives us our first glimpse at their culture, where dragons rule over humans. Kaho attempts to convince the council to ally with the Krox, instead of the Confederacy. He argues that they are dragon slayers, and provides proof of Khalahk’s death. He implicates Aran for the murder.
Back on Shaya, Kazon arrives to speak with Aran. He tells him that he’s done some digging around Nara’s past, and worries that she’s still a threat. He knows Aran trusts her, but cautions that she was a different person before, and could still be dangerous. Crazy, right?
Kazon brings a fancy new set of spellarmor for Aran, which allows several new tricks. It can go into storage mode and become a little bracelet, which makes it portable. It allows him to cast spells directly through the fists, so he doesn’t need a spellrifle to fire them. The armor also redirects kinetic force as long as Aran has void magic to fuel it. All three features become important later, so I had to introduce them here to make them plausible. =p
Savvy readers also noted two facts. Aran felt like he wasn’t alone in the armor when he first entered, and Ikadra told Voria that Kazon’s ship (made from the same metal) made him uncomfortable because he couldn’t pierce it with magical scans. That kind of magitech shouldn’t be available in this era. Voria notes his concern, but since she has bigger Wyrms to fry she takes no immediate action.
The Wyrm Hunter travels through the Umbral Depths to reach Virkonna, and they are greeted by the largest Wyrm in the sector. Cerberus snaps up the Hunter in his jaws, but rather than crush them, brings them down to the planet like a dog returning a toy to its master. Who’s a good dragon? Cerberus!
They’re escorted to the Council of Wyrms, where Voria pleads their case. The Wyrms refuse to ally with them, and demand that Aran be punished as a Wyrm Slayer. The mysterious (terribly mysterious) assassin turns out to be Aran’s sister Astria, from the visions that Neith shared with him. She pleads his case, and gets the Wyrms to agree to allow Aran to perform a March of Honor.
Unfortunately, a March of Honor is just a pretty way to commit suicide. You march across a drake-filled valley, and if you reach the Temple of Virkonna, your enemies get to line up to kick your ass. You fight your way through all of them, and if you reach the top, are judged by Virkonna. No one reaches the top.
But, of course, Aran is wearing a Breastplate of Plot Armor and we know he’s going to survive somehow. Aran undergoes the march and fights his way past drakes. He’s forced to go alone, but his sister Astria is not so secretly shadowing him.
Meanwhile, Voria is trying to forge some sort of alliance with Olyssa, the only Wyrm Mother who seems at all sympathetic to their cause. Olyssa explains that her rival, Aetherius, is gaining in strength, while her faction is weakening. They’ve recently lost Khalahk, Rolf, and several other powerful Wyrms.
While there, we’re shown that Wyrms like parties, and that they like to party in human form. Their favorite activity is a game that resembles Go, called Kem’Hedj. A few very astute readers correctly pointed out that the name is Egyptian for ‘Black, White.’
Voria turns out to be a master, because she can see possibilities. It lets her cheat, and she kicks the crap out of Aetherius. Unfortunately, Kaho is there and sees her do it. Voria is carrying Ikadra at the time, and Voria worries that they may understand the staff’s purpose. She retreats back to her ship to see if she can deduce their plans with her new abilities.
Nara spends her time at the local Temple of Virkonna, which includes a massive library. She’s been assigned to find the Spellship, but has very little to go on. Her only clue is that the Wyrm Father of Life, one of the two aspects needed to create the Spellship, has removed all mention of himself from history.
At the temple, Nara meets the comic relief. She’s introduced to Ismene, a pretty young acolyte, and her pet drake, Pytho. Between the two of them, they piece together that the Spellship’s magical signature is too massive to hide…unless you hide it beneath another, more powerful signature. Like Virkonna herself.
Nara discovers that there are catacombs under Virkonna, and realizes that she’ll need to explore them to find wherever the ship is hidden. Ismene turns out to know an archeologist from Ternus with extensive experience. He’s a bumbling scholar, named Wes, who bears no resemblance to the character Wesley from Buffy and Angel.
Wes comes armed with a pair of golden spellpistols that are even older than Ikadra. Nara is skeptical of his ability to fight, but Ismene is adamant that she saw him gun down five men. Nara relents, and Wes is all too happy to escort Nara into the catacombs, and takes her down the very next morning.
We finally flash back to Aran. He carves a path through the drakes and reaches the temple. There are fifty war mages waiting, and if he can beat them, there are two levels full of hatchlings. The fight looks impossible, but Aran has the advantage of the new armor Kazon gave him.
The next few chapters are probably the best series of fight scenes I have ever written. Aran uses everything his armor offers, and some inventive, new tricks. Aran, unsurprisingly, just barely wins the last fight.
Lightning stabs down from the sky as he is judged by Virkonna, and then he disappears, apparently incinerated. We have to wait like sixty-four trillion chapters to find out what happened to him, since we all know there’s no way he really died.
Flash back to Shaya where Frit is slowly realizing that she’s going to need to help her sisters escape slavery. She’s learned that her people come not from the Blazing Heart, but from the Blazing Heart of Krox (dun, dun, dun). She, and all her sisters, are children of Krox. They’re fighting for the wrong side of the war.
Nebiat gives Frit all the tools she needs, and Frit leads her sisters to a circle of redwoods where they’re going to remove their collars and open a Fissure so they can escape. As they’re fleeing, Ree arrives. In an earlier chapter, Ree overlooked Frit being in a restricted area of the library, which Frit really appreciated.
We don’t want Frit to kill Ree, or Ree to kill Frit. But we know that one of them is probably going to end up dead. The Ifrit are badass war mages and true mages, and we get an epic brawl between them and Ree’s war mages. There are casualties on both sides, but Ree is forced to fall back. Frit and her sisters escape, though the cost is high.
Back on Virkon, Nara is exploring the catacombs. She goes through a number of cool puzzles, which I absolutely love writing. It hearkens back to my roots as a D&D player. Anyway, she and Pickus eventually reach the place where the first Spellship was forged.
They meet Shinura, the Shade of Inura. Shinura is an imprint of the Wyrm Father of Life, who is *gasp* revealed to be Inura. Shinura explains that while the First Spellship was created here, it isn’t here any longer. To find it, they’ll need to use a temporal matrix to locate the possibility where Inura and Virkonna hid the Spellship.
Nara begins the process, but as she does so, Kaho and Tobek arrive. What are the odds of that happening at the absolute worst possible moment? It’s almost like the author planned it that way. Wes is shot, but Nara manages to find the right possibility, and they teleport away before Kaho and Tobek can reach them.
We flash back to Voria, who kicks Olyssa’s ass at Kem’Hedj. Olyssa realizes Voria must have godsight, and confronts her. Voria admits it, and it makes Olyssa more receptive to an alliance. Then, like two chapters later when Voria is in trouble, she basically does nothing to help.
Voria returns to the Hunter, just before the Krox launch a massive assault. They send five carriers. The Hunter could take one. Maybe two with the right commander. Five is absolute death, and Voria knows it. She uses her godsight to comb reality for a way to survive.
Voria asks Davidson’s Marines to hold the valley where they parked, and to make life hell for any carriers that get close. Thanks to Davidson’s enhanced hovertank, they’re a threat the Krox cannot ignore. The Krox detach one carrier to brawl with the Marines, and we get a fun combat chapter showing Davidson in action. Love that guy.
Over the next chapter, Voria destroys two more carriers by using foreknowledge of their locations, but it isn’t enough. She’s going to lose. She sends a missive to Olyssa begging for help, and Olyssa says she’ll try. She tells Aetherius, “Stop, or I’ll say stop again.” Aetherius is not impressed.
After like a hundred-page gap, we finally get back to Aran. He’s been brought before Virkonna, and as we’ve seen with other gods, he gains a Catalyzation. Virkonna grants him something called true air that enhances his existing air magic, and she tells him a bit about why she chose to go into endless sleep. She cannot accept her mother’s death, because she’d believed her mother infallible, and she knows that without her they cannot win against Krox and Nefarius.
Virkonna returns Aran to the world with the words ‘become air’, but he has no idea where she dropped him. He’s in a dark corridor surrounded by black goop, which we eventually learn is the Blood of Nefarius (dun, dun, dun). Aran is met by a woman covered in the black oil stuff, which may or may not have been inspired by nightmares I had after watching X-Files back in the day.
Rhea claims to be an Outrider, and Aran quickly learns that he’s somehow travelled 7,000 years into the future. Nefarius won. But Rhea is excited he is here and claims he has some sort of grand destiny. She also says the name of his sword is Narlifex, and that the blade is legendary. Saves Aran the trouble of thinking up a name.
She leads him through a bunch of oil-soaked corridors, until he finally reaches a door. We have no idea what lies on the other side, other than Aran’s Destiny (™).
Flash back to Voria. Her ship is boarded by an advanced Krox party, and after she uses her godsight, she realizes she has no choice but to drop Ikadra outside the ship. The Krox will be forced to pursue, and she’ll be able to flee. She does so, and buys some breathing room while Kaho recovers Ikadra.
Back to Nara. Using the temporal matrix she finds the Spellship. It’s in an empty hangar, but it is coated in some sort of black oily goop. Worse, she knows that Kaho won’t be far behind them since he can simply use the same matrix she did.
She has Wes go find cover, while she takes up an elevated sniping position. They attack Kaho and Tobek, and Wes is much more impressive than she expected. The hatchlings are still too strong, and Nara is forced to go invisible and hide. She watches powerlessly as Kaho walks to the First Spellship’s airlock.
The door opens, and Aran is standing on the other side. He lops off Kaho’s hand, and snatches Ikadra. Kaho quite rightly flees like any sane true mage, and waits for Tobek to engage.
Tobek and Aran start to brawl, while Nara heads inside the ship to find a way to send it back to their native possibility. Ikadra shows her how to amplify her magic, and uses void flame to pew, pew, pew all the black oil as they make their way to the bridge. They find Rhea, and Nara burns away some of the oil covering her.
Meanwhile, Aran is getting his ass kicked. His spellarmor has gone into storage mode, and there’s a band of blue runes covering the entire outside of it. Aran assumes that this is some sort of awesome power-up from Virkonna, and confidently engages Tobek.
Aran is wrong. So very wrong. Virkonna sealed the armor because it is infused with the Blood of Nefarius. So Aran has no spellarmor, and Tobek does.
He’s outclassed, but uses some inventive tactics to hold his own for a bit. There’s a wisecrack about face protection since Tobek doesn’t wear a full helm, and then Aran has a Karate Kid wax on, wax off moment where he realizes what Virkonna said to him at the end is the key to victory.
Become air. So Aran does. He becomes magical lightning and flows up Tobek’s nose and into his brain. He cooks it from the inside, and kills his rival. We’re all like, “Wow, that author sure is inventive. I never saw that coming. If I did see that coming, I’ll refrain from emailing the author and telling him, because I want to let Chris keep living in his bubble.”
So back to Voria. She’s screwed. The last two carriers have her pinned, and they launch a spread of nukes. It’s over. Except that the Spellship arrives and intercepts the blast. Voria is teleported to the Bridge, where Nara returns Ikadra.
Ikadra asks if he can deal with the Krox carriers. Plllleeeeaasse. Voria says yeah and he casts the legendary So Fat spell. The carriers have their gravity increased a hundred fold, and plummet to the ground. Boom, dead Krox.
Our heroes won, but at a cost. The Blood of Nefarius coating the Spellship was theoretically destroyed during the nuclear blast, but what if some survived? Virkon could be doomed. The ship itself is still covered internally, and Voria will need either Eros or possibly the Inuran Consortium to help her cleanse it.
That’s the end, right? Cue the Star Wars ending credits.
Not so much.
Aran and Nara hook up. Fade to black hook up, because I don’t really write sex scenes. What if my mom reads these?
Nara has a nightmare where she is sneaking aboard the Spellship with a sniper rifle. She slowly makes her way to Voria’s quarters and finds her combing her hair before bed. Nara executes her. Ruthlessly, without a moment’s hesitation.
Nara wakes up with a terrified gasp, and finds Aran in enforced magical slumber. A large figure sits in the corner of the room, enshrouded in dark armor. He introduces himself as Talifax, the Guardian of Nefarius. He explains that Nara will kill Voria. He’s ensured that possibility.
Man, I love cliffhangers.
On to War Mage!