I have come to the end of drafting the sequel to Sword of Deliverance, which is a way of saying that I am far from finished. It is currently fermenting, proofing, or simmering—whichever culinary metaphor you like. But here’s what I can tell you about it.
The sequel chronicles what Brandan calls, at the end of Deliverance, his journey back from a very dark place. While he and Meredyth have come through their ordeals, problems lurk below the surface waiting to bubble up, particularly psychological issues. One of Brandan’s is a condition called moral injury, which is, briefly, damage to one’s moral integrity. This disorder has come to the forefront because of returning veterans who are wrestling with the fact that they have committed acts that go against their moral beliefs. Symptoms include guilt and shame, self-condemnation, an inability to forgive oneself, and difficulty with personal relationships.
Caveat lector: For those who have not read Sword of Deliverance, from here on this post hints at plot spoilers.
Possible title: Sword of Sacrifice, Sword of Redemption
Antagonist: Seward, the second-born of twins, faces the hard life of a man-of-war. Not delighted with that prospect, he seeks a way to establish the life he thinks he deserves, one of power, wealth, and influence. To that end, he sets his sights on the Wolf Lair with the encouragement of his father, Lord Morrison. A bonus would be Meredyth and her manor.
Arch-antagonist: Lurking behind the scenes is Morfran, an agent of spiritual darkness, a deceiver and a tempter, a sower of discord and strife, an enslaver of men’s souls. The prime targets of his schemes—Brandan and Seward.
Another key player: Trahern, captain of a garrison, also wants more than the life of a soldier. When he learns of details about his family background, he believes he has a legitimate claim to the Wolf Lair.
New settings: Bridgeton, a town about a four-day ride south of the Wolf Lair. The Labyrinth, a wilderness of high mountains, narrow canyons, and caves.
Of course, Brandan and Meredyth return.
Brandan: Questions plague him. How does he forgive himself? How does he move beyond his bitterness over what was done to him? Who is he now—Brandan the Butcher or Owen Gilliard? Does Meredyth realize the full extent of what a relationship with him will mean for her? At the same time, he confronts a society that believes he will be like Wulfgar and seeks to prevent him from gaining power. In resolving these dilemmas, will he be guided by his sword and the justice and mercy it stands for, or will he spurn it for a path empowered by violence and tyranny?
Meredyth: The optimism she and Brandan shared at the end of their ordeal wavers when she returns to her manor and her people reject him, convinced he could never change. When they also fail to recognize she is no longer the innocent girl who was whisked away from them, she struggles to gain their respect and to convince them of her ability to manage the estate. But more troubling are her fears that she is not safe, even back home at her manor, and that she is an easy target for opportunistic men. The appearance of a rejected former suitor confirms her fears.
So that is the sequel as it now stands. I never know, though, what will happen in the revision process, but I am looking forward to getting back into it.
If you’ve read Sword of Deliverance, I’d love to hear what your expectations were for Brandan’s and Meredyth’s future and what you felt was unresolved.
Sword of Deliverance: available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KW1HWHA