Imagine a universe where Earth is only a revered (and confused) memory…
Imagine high treason, low humor, and stellar combat on a grand scale…
Twenty years after its first publication, Exordium returns, in a revised e-book edition available from Book View Cafe, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online emporia.
The Phoenix in Flight (Buy it at Book View Cafe: only $0.99 through January 27, 2012)
Smith and Trowbridge describe the flavor of their five-book space opera Exordium as a cross between Star Wars and Dangerous Liaisons with a touch of the Three Stooges. With its fast-moving blend of humor and horror, of high-tech skiffy and the deep places of the human heart, The Phoenix in Flight launches the reader into a complex, multi-layered universe as Brandon nyr-Arkad, dissolute youngest son of the ruler of the Thousand Suns, abandons the life of Service planned for him and flees into the lawless Rift. Only slowly does he discover that the world he rejected now lies in smoking ruins as the ritual vengeance of Jerrode Eusabian against Brandon’s father, twenty years in preparation, culminates in an explosion of interstellar violence. With both his brothers dead and his father the Panarch imprisoned, Brandon becomes the Panarchy’s last hope.
Ruler of Naught (Buy it at Book View Cafe)
In the sequel to The Phoenix in Flight, Brandon vlith-Arkad, who fled the Mandalic Palace and his old life only hours ahead of assassination, is now heir to the Panarchy. He only wants to rescue his father, the Panarch. But everyone wants a piece of him. The Dol’jharians, who smashed the Panarchy and took his father prisoner. A Rifter pirate and her crew, who helped him escape a doomed planet—twice—and now wonder what to do about a royal prisoner with the price of ten planets on his head. And the remnants of the government of the Thousand Suns, for whom he’d at best be an inconvenience.
And that’s before things go seriously pear-shaped. Racing ahead of the light-speed news of their attack with FTL comms and weapons looted from a fortress built millions of years ago, the Dol’jharians and those Rifters allied with them are consolidating their victories. Elements of the Panarchist Navy struggle to understand what’s happening, find surviving units, and strike back. And Eusabian of Dol’jhar, now master of the Mandala from which his defeated enemy once ruled the Thousand Suns, awaits news of the Heart of Kronos, the missing key to ultimate power.
Which lies in the hands of Brandon’s captor. The chase is on, and unexpected detours await.
A Prison Unsought (Spring 2012)
The Rifter’s Covenant (Summer 2012)
The Thrones of Kronos (Fall 2012)
Here’s the image that started it all, from the mini-series screenplay we shopped around in 1980…
EXT. – A GRASSY FIELD – DAWN
CAPTION: TALGARTH II
SOUND OF A BUGLE ECHOING THEME. In the middle distance is a wide clump of trees obscured by a light mist. In the b.g., at the top of a gentle rise, is a huge medieval castle, the back of its towers washed in scarlet dawn light.
We start to move forward slowly. From o.s. comes the sound of HOOFBEATS. A group of HORSEMEN emerges from behind the trees, their breaths puffs of white. Just this side of the trees they dismount; now we hear MUTED VOICES. One of them remains with the horses while the others walk slowly toward us, and stop. They are all men, wearing high-collared tunics and long pants with riding boots; two of them remove their tunics and stand in their shirts. By now it should be obvious that a duel is about to take place, but we still cannot distinguish any words.
Duelist #1 rubs his arms against the cold and jokes with the knot of men surrounding him. Duelist #2 gazes toward the still-hidden sun with an attitude that marks him as alone.
Observer #1 addresses them, and holds out an open weapons case. The Duelists choose their weapons. They do not speak. Both are young; by now we are close enough to see their features. Duelist #1, the joker, has harsh features and the unpleasant smirk of one who knows he will win; Duelist #2 has a pleasant face now frozen into remoteness.
They turn and walk apart. The Observers also move well back, while pulling from pockets some glittering implements which we cannot yet distinguish.
The Duelists stop about 30 paces apart, and pause as if waiting for a signal. In the b.g. the rim of the sun rises above the horizon— an enormous dull red arc silhouetting the castle. At this moment Observer #1 raises a lorgnette with bulging mirrored lenses to his eyes, followed very quickly by the other Observers.
We are very close to the Duelists now—they turn and level their weapons at each other. Duelist #1 fires first, and an arrow-straight bolt of blue-white lightning spears out. The BLAST is like a thunderclap at ten feet, and the whole screen goes white.
EXT. – SPACE
The ROAR of the weapon’s discharge fades as the glare shrinks and becomes the flaring thrusters of a spaceship moving directly away from us. Now there is NO SOUND—we are in the vacuum of space.
As the ship diminishes in size, we see other ships around it in a loose formation. The vast curve of an earthlike planet looms beneath. All the ships are worn and battle-scarred, garishly decorated with vaguely heraldic designs. No two alike, except for a somewhat baroque feel to their design—they suggest what they are: a fleet of the RIFT BROTHERHOOD, a loosely organized federation of space pirates and raiders. Some of the ships break away and descend toward the planet—
There’s more about Exordium at Chris Weuve’s Exordium page, which, although somewhat out of date, is an excellent introduction to the world of Exordium and has a lot of detail about how space combat with mixed light-speed and FTL weapons but only light-speed sensors works—tactics that allow the Panarchic Navy to enforce the Thousand Year Peace until the Lord of Vengeance arms elements of the Rift Sodality with 10-million-year-old technology…