The story of First Light takes place on a world called Sindorus, the inhabitants are human in appearance; their level of culture and technology could be comparable to late 19th century Earth. The north is ruled over by a brutal dictatorship that faces only mild opposition from the southerner based rebels. Life is difficult under Northerner rule. Colour is considered evil and owning a coloured item is a criminal offence, as well as a mortal sin. Southerners and the secretive Lakelanders are considered racially inferior and women have few legal rights.
The three main characters are all Northerners: Idrith, a monk doomed to a life following a religion he hates, Aztar, a young ambitious Za-Har officer and Daen, Aztar’s betrothed. These three each hold a piece to a puzzle that involves not only the history of their planet’s culture and spiritual beliefs, but also the solution to their devastating ecological problems.
Idrith finds a secret room at the monastery that contains a broken coloured-glass window. There is writing on the window, but only a few lines remain intact. Fearful words about the Colours of the Light being sacred. Over time he realises that this window was the original chapel window, he’s afraid but curious. Does Harmion, the Lakelander holy man who visits regularly, have the answers to his questions?
Daen grew up in the north, where women have no control over their lives. As the only child of a widower, she was allowed to grow up unrestricted and far better educated than normal. She is an artist with a terminally ill father, who needs constant expensive treatment. Their farm estate faces bankruptcy, due to the ongoing severe droughts. Her art dealer introduces her to a mysterious Lakelander named Harmion. He offers her a dangerous solution to their financial problems. Creating and selling illegal coloured artwork. What is the meaning behind the ancient poem she finds within the box of coloured paints that Harmion sends her? What are the “Blessings of the Light”?
Aztar’s army promotion comes with a heavy burden. A very serious problem threatens the security of the entire Northern regime. The most valuable resource of the planet is a plant-based material. This substance is degrading and for decades crop yields have been mysteriously falling. Aztar is forced to work side-by-side with a Southerner scientist, to try and find a solution. At first he is horrified at the insult of having to work with this man, but as they learn more about each other, he is equally horrified to realise he is beginning to consider this Southern stranger, a friend. Can he cope with all this and the added stress of the secret he’s kept hidden since childhood? Can his new friend’s strange Lakelander Holy Man help him find peace? Only when a catastrophic event leaves the three with no option but to face their worst fears, can the plan to bring the puzzle pieces together be set in motion.
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“There was no one else staying at the guest house, but Harmion. He was sitting by the fire in the tiny lounge, when Idrith entered. By firelight Harmion was particularly eerie, his pale eyes reflecting the scarlet flames, his face fading into the indigo darkness.
“Welcome, Castellan, would you care for a drink?” Harmion wasn’t in the least surprised to see him; it was almost as if he had been waiting for him to show up. Idrith stammered out some story, about being too busy to read the book and almost flung it at Harmion.
“I’m sorry to hear that, Castellan, I was hoping that you would find it of interest. It seems I was wrong… Are you sure you won’t join me in a drink? It’s some of your own Amyth liqueur, made with honey.” Harmion poured out a small glassful as he spoke and held it out to Idrith. “No one is going to miss you.”
Idrith didn’t want to go back to his cold lonely room, with all its unanswered questions. He took the glass and sat down. For a long while they sat without speaking, watching the flames and sipping their drinks. Idrith would have felt at peace if it weren’t for the book in Harmion’s lap. Harmion finished his drink and picked the book up. Idrith went cold; what if the envelope fell out?”
Book promo video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW3xaa3RdqE
A Short Q and A with the author:
What music do you listen to while writing?
I almost always write listening to music and, for some scenes or characters, I’ll listen to the same piece over and over. I’ve written mostly to Peter Gabriel, Just Jinjer, Galt Aureus, Biffy Clyro and E S Posthumus, but for “big moment” final scene of First Light I wrote to a classic piece: Widor’s Toccatta #5.
Your favourite character?
For both books, it has to be Idrith. He’s the guy who doesn’t even realise he is attractive, the romantic dark tormented hero type. On top of that he’s the only character I’ve met, in a way. I had this dream one night, about five years before I wrote First Light. It was a very vivid dream of this young monk striding past me, down a monastery corridor. He was tall, light brown hair and he was scowling, as if he was angry or impatient about something. It was such a vivid dream I woke up, wrote it down… and it became the opening scene of First Light.
-bio of author:
Michelle Frost was born in Africa, where the stars hang so low and bright in the night sky you feel you could reach up and touch them. She now lives in North-East Scotland where she’s discovered the very different magic of midsummer nights where the sky is never dark enough to see the stars at all. Michelle has written two books, several award winning short stories and poems, a newspaper advice column (for a year) and far too many blog posts. She is a proud member of Blogblast for Peace and the Visionary Fiction Alliance.