It was a funny thing that inspired this book. My younger son was having a bad time in school, so I pulled him out and home-schooled him for a while, just to give him a break from a bad situation. And part of the curriculum was a world history book I picked up, a history of the ancient world, and this book included a chapter on the Indus Valley Civilization.
My son was indifferent to most of the school stuff, but I had never learned about the Indus Valley Civilization in school, so it was new to me, and I was blown away! Here was a civilization from around 2400 BCE, contemporary to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, where they had cities laid out in perfect grids. And they had sewers, and they had flush toilets (!), and they had what looked like public baths. Furthermore, the houses were all similar in size, suggesting a relatively egalitarian society–quite unusual for the ancient world. (In fact, unusual for any civilization anywhere.) But sadly, we know little about their civilization because while they had a written language, scholars have been unable to translate it.
The Indus Valley Civilization is one of the great mysteries of the ancient world. Who were these people? What were they like? How did they lay out their cities so perfectly? And what happened to them, since they seem to have disappeared, leaving their cities intact? While I have no idea what the real answers to these questions might be, I was inspired to write a fantasy novel, with magic, set in this world.
For those of you who have read my Hearts and Thrones novels, I’ll tell you a little about what is similar and what is different about Hearts and Thrones and Coalition of Mages. Both series feature strong heroines. The Fire Seer features Taya, a lowly farmer girl who is favored by Isatis, the fire goddess, and is blessed with powerful fire magic. Both series are also generally bright in tone, with some darker moments.
Where they differ, aside from the setting, is in the series structure and the nature of the hero. The Hearts and Thrones series is a romance series, which each book featuring a different romantic couple. Coalition of Mages, however, is a mystery series. Taya’s romance with Mandir is prominently featured, but the two of them are also Bronze Age sleuths who solve a murder mystery in each book. And every book is about Taya and Mandir. I don’t switch couples in this series.
Mandir is not the type of hero you’d typically find in my Hearts and Thrones series. Generally, the Hearts and Thrones heroes are respectful and kind. Mandir is more the alpha type and a bit of a jerk. He’s a reformed jerk–at least, he’s trying very hard to be reformed–but he’s not going to be perfect all the time, and there are a lot of fireworks between him and Taya. Not always the good kind of fireworks!
This novel won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense in 2012, right after I’d signed the contract for the first three Hearts and Thrones books. I was thrilled when it won, but I couldn’t publish the book at the time because of my existing contract. I am thrilled to be able to bring this book to readers now, and I hope you enjoy it.