The Black Trillium
Confederation rules in Trana—so says the king.
But Fredericton is a long way from the shores of Lake Ontario, and schemes for power will bring together three extraordinary young warriors.
A desert girl who came to Trana looking for refuge but has never found a home
A privileged city boy dreaming of rebellion and hardened by cruelty
The disgraced heir to the throne desperate to win back his place in his father's heart
Sworn enemies or reluctant allies, they all have one thing in common: an incomplete half of the legendary fighting skill known as the Triumvirate sword art. They fight for glory, for power, for the monsters lurking beneath the streets, and for the mysterious society moving in the shadows of Trana—the Black Trillium.
My bodyguard, the mute giant Brutus Cloven, fell in behind me as I left the chamber from where he’d been waiting in the anteroom. He was milk-pale, entirely hairless and his eyes were pink. The giant looked freakish but he was a comforting presence too. He’d been with my family as long as I could remember, stolid and silent, a worn marble statue of loyalty.
Brutus never spoke a word but his pink eyes never missed a threat, and he’d saved my life on many occasions.
“We ride out tomorrow at dawn,” I said to Brutus. “Round up your best guards to accompany us. We’ll have enough trouble in Trana, if the rumours of the Black Trillium prove true.”
Brutus saluted and left to follow my orders. He looked more nervous than usual, as if marching on Trana was somehow particularly unsettling to him. Or perhaps he simply didn’t like travel.
There was one other person I needed to speak to before sending for Marc and planning the campaign. It gave me shivers just to think it. At long last I would be planning a campaign.
I walked to her suite, one of the most lavish set of rooms in the entire iron palace. They had been mine once. Even a disgraced son of the king could expect good lodgings.
I opened the door and she was there, brushing her long black hair. Her huge green eyes fixed on mine from her mirror, a real glass one, not bronze. That mirror alone cost as much as the arms and horses for a dozen knights, but it was just the least of the marvels in her room.
And if I could I would have given her more.
“Sophie,” I said. “We leave in the morning, for Trana.”
“But I haven’t finished searching Fredericton for it.”
Ah yes, the manual, the book of sublime martial skill that she hunted.
“If there were any swordsman with the skill you say the manual contains in Fredericton, we’d have found him by now,” I said.
Sophie frowned, her big red lips beautiful even in a scowl. “I suppose you are right.”
“Trana is the largest city in Confederation, there are fifty-thousand people there. Perhaps somebody will have heard tidings of the manual.” I knew how much the manual meant to her. It was seeking it that led her to Fredericton to begin with. All she knew is that it was somewhere in Confederation. Or at least that is all she would tell me.
There were many things about her past that Sophie kept even from me.
She smiled. “Yes, perhaps Trana would be a good place to seek the manual.”
“And when you find it?”
“I will be eternally grateful,” Sophie said and she turned, looking at me in the flesh rather than the glass of her mirror.
“When we return,” I said. “I will make you my queen.”
“Yes,” Sophie said, “when we have the manual, I think I would enjoy being queen.”
“I have much to do,” I said. “Be ready to ride at dawn.”
Simon McNeil is the author of The Black Trillium, a story of revolution and martial arts set in the ruins of Toronto. This novel is published by Brain Lag Publishing.
He is an online marketing communications specialist with a major educational institution when not wandering the world looking for trouble. He is a life-long martial artist, has published several articles in Kung Fu Magazine and he’s probably a little bit too fond of kung fu movies.
He lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife who has happily laid out rules to prevent the sword-through-glass-lampshade incident from ever happening again. The Black Trillium is his first novel.
Titles are the Hardest Part
For me, as a novelist, I find the length of the form freeing. In a 100,000 word book I have the freedom to go on a tangent, dawdle over a scene, include words beyond what is strictly necessary to communicate my message. This makes brevity a challenge for me sometimes. And there's nothing more brief than a book title. In 1 to 4 words, you have to sum up the entirety of your story in a way that captures reader attention, contains the essence of the story and invites somebody to read more.
That's a tall order.
As such, I went through several titles.
The first was a working title: "Untitled Walking the Radiant Trail Sequel" - referencing an unpublished trilogy I'd written, which formed the basis for the world building in the Black Trillium.
Then I changed the title to, "In the Shadow of Fallen Towers." This was a reference to the setting. The story took place at ground level and below (excepting one scene) in the ruins of Toronto. The crumbling remains of the vertical skyline dominated the aesthetic of the story, much of which was set in what is now the downtown core of the city.
But that was kind of wordy. So I tried shortening it to, "City of Bone." I was... unaware of Cassandra Clare at the time. A friend pointed out to me that there was a book currently hot on the market and in a category pretty darn close to mine by that name. So that name was out and I went back to the drawing board.
And then the same friend who'd warned me about "City of Bone" asked why I didn't just title the book "The Black Trillium." After all, the secret society was central to the action of the story. Even though the story had shifted in the telling as Savannah became more interesting to follow than Kieran, her relationship to the rebel sect, especially in the way she dealt with her skepticism with them, remained central to the story. And the other two lead characters were both defined by their relationship to the sect. Kieran a member, Kyle obsessed with hunting them. It made sense.
And I saw that the second he pitched it.
So I called it that. And it stuck.
(Of course, after I published I found an old and disused copy of a high fantasy novel that also went by that title, so I didn't entirely escape the "City of Bone" problem, but it was a minor work of a deceased author so I was somewhat less concerned about people confusing the two.)
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