The Kira Chronicles
The Kira Chronicles trilogy and the The Kira Chronicles series
The Kira Chronicles trilogy, first published by Allen and Unwin, Australia (2007-2009), is still available in various formats. After rights were reverted to me, I was keen to revise and to reinstate material cut from the trilogy. I'm excited to announce that The Kira Chronicles trilogy was relaunched as The Kira Chronicles series (six books), in 2018.
These works began as fan fiction for JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. In the early 1970’s, The Lord of the Rings became extremely popular and, like many people, I was absolutely captivated by it. However, The Lord of the Rings is almost completely devoid of romance. Peter Jackson’s film versions have rectified this, but Tolkien’s text only has brief accounts of the relationships between Aragorn and Arwen (most of the details are in the Appendices), between Faramir and Eowyn, and between Sam and Rosie. As a female reader, I found this highly unsatisfactory!
To compensate, I spent many happy hours conjuring stories of an Aragorn-like character and an Eowyn-like character having noble and romantic adventures together. Over many years, these imagined stories strayed a long way from Aragorn and Eowyn, and morphed into what became The Kira Chronicles trilogy. I wrote Book 2 of the trilogy first, followed by Book 3 and then Book 1, and Book 1 was published by Allen and Unwin before I had finished Book 2. My mental images always began with Kira on the edge of the forest where she meets Caledon. It took me longer to work out exactly how she got there! When I revisited the trilogy to convert it to a series, I had the advantage of knowing the entire story. What I thought would be a tweak, became an extensive rewrite, where the motivations of the characters became more fully developed. I think the series is a much stronger story as a result.
The Kira Chronicles was written to music by Bolivia Marka from their Poesia Andina album. Track 1 Por que estas triste really captures the sadness of what happens to Kira in the early part of the story, and Track 2 Palomitay gave me a sense of Kira’s amazement at the sight of galloping horses.
The Secondary World
The forest world of Allogrenia was great fun to write. What type of trees would there be? What birds and animals would live amongst them? What food would this world provide? What natural threats? How would the inhabitants of this forest view the world? How would the endless trees affect their rituals of birth, marriage, and death?
When your entire world is composed of trees, they impact on every part of your culture. The scourge of heart-rot becomes a curse and the soaring alwaysgreens, with their undying canopies, assume the sacred. The dead are buried amongst their roots so their voices are heard in the whisper of their leaves and thus bequeath a form of immortality.
The isolation of the forest provides safety but also an invisibility to potential friends and, as the story unfolds, the impact of Kasheron’s choices generations before, became apparent. As no new blood has entered the forest, the Tremen cannot choose partners from either of their parents’ clans and the institution of marriage is abandoned in favour of bonding, an arrangement that can be broken, for the Tremen can’t afford their young to be locked into permanent, unhappy, and childless unions.
Being a small population with no access to external resources, the Tremen have only a limited capacity to rebuild their community should they be attacked by hostile outsiders, the ravages of some new sickness, or if their food supplies become diseased or dwindle due to drought. As a relatively new community, Allogrenia is impacted by the histories and beliefs of those who established it. Kasheron rejected the warrior ways of his twin Terak, and so all things metal in Allogrenia are shunned, except for swords and herbal sickles. The anomaly of swords can only be carried by Protectors, a manifestation of Kasheron’s warrior heritage, but one presented in a more acceptable form. The characteristics of the north become perverted; their kin the blood-thirsty ogres of fairy stories, while those in the north remove the cowardly Kasheron from their histories altogether, sending him and his followers over the sea and far away.
When Kira first leaves Allogrenia, she is disoriented by the sweep of the horizon; terrified by the massive heaving sight of a horse; repulsed by the sprawling, uncaring settlements she comes across. She sees the world through the eyes of a forest-dweller, of someone who has only ever known a closed and familiar community. It is an experience repeated by Tresen when he leaves the trees behind. And yet, despite their isolation, the Tremen’s heritage as part of a bigger peoples, cannot be ignored. They call their sacred trees alwaysgreens, but this is a corruption of allogrenia, which they name their settlement. Likewise, the name of their kin, the Terak Kirillian, is corrupted to Terak Kutan, kutan meaning liar or thief, and a reflection of the bitterness of the Sundering. Kasheron and Terak spoke with a Kessomi lilt, the birthplace of their mother Kiraon, and in the closed settlement of Allogrenia, this accent endures. Thus, when Kira first meets Tierken, he’s baffled by why she speaks Terak the same as his Kessomi grandmother. The Tremen longhouses also resemble the Kessomi dwellings, for Kasheron built in the same manner as his mother’s people while in Sarnia, the fashion changed.
The secondary world of Allogrenia, is linked with Sarnia and Kessom, where the Tremen’s kin live and whose shared history is reflected in the Tremen’s culture. These extra layers made the task of fashioning Allogrenia even more fascinating.
Two things intrigued me in writing this series: firstly, if a prophecy exists but is ignored, will it happen anyway? And secondly, if a pacifist community is attacked, will it let itself be destroyed without a struggle or must it abandon its principles and become as aggressive as its attackers?
I had Shakespeare’s Macbeth in mind when I considered the first question. In the play, Macbeth acts on the prophecy (that he will be King) to bring it to fruition, and the bloodshed that follows results in his demise. In The Kira Chronicles, Arkendrin acts on the prophecy to prevent it unfolding, and in doing so, unleashes the very events he seeks to stop. Of course, had there been no drought and no rivalry between brothers born too closely together, things might have turned out differently.
The actual prophecy was one of the first things I wrote for the series, and it came to me easily (except for the last 4 lines which I added later after I knew how the story ended). Oddly, in writing the prophecy before I had an understanding of the story, it became my guide as well.
The second issue is what a pacifist society can do if it is attacked, and the choices are pretty limited: die without a struggle, or fight back. This is the dilemma Kira faces and one exacerbated by her ancestor Kasheron having shunned the north's brutality to establish the healing, anti-violence community of Allogrenia. There is no simple answer and Kira navigates her way through the complications as best she can, having to compromise Healing but never abandoning it.
I wanted to avoid a simplistic story about mindless ‘baddies’ being mindlessly bad. The Shargh’s behaviour is understandable in the light of the historical injustices they’ve suffered, and in the light of their belief in the omniscience of the Sky Chiefs.
I was keen that The Kira Chronicles told both Kira and Palansa’s stories, which mirror the stories of many women who find themselves caught up in the violence of war. Kira and Palansa have neither the skills nor aggression to wield swords or to fight as men do, but they have the weapons of the female hero that they use to save themselves and those they love, and in Kira’s case, to sow the seeds of something that might one day break the endless cycle of violence.
In reworking the trilogy into a series, I thought deeply about Tierken’s behavior and why Kira returns to him. I wanted it to be clear that, despite being a warrior, Tierken is damaged by the fighting, and this has consequences for those he loves. Kira is right to leave him, but she is also right to return. She is aware of Palansa’s plight in having lost the man she loves, and of Ersalan having to grow without a father, and she is aware of Tierken’s efforts to undo the wrongs he inflicted on her. She is also mature enough at the end of the story to understand the challenges that still confront them and to know they can work together to make a future for themselves.