After The Hero tells the tale of the ambition of Galavar, a stranger from the desert who defeats the Hero who had been destined to stop him. With his victory only barely won and the future uncertain, Galavar desperately embarks upon the Galan Conquest years earlier than he had intended, in the hope of maintaining surprise in a world that is about to learn what he plans.
Those events are detailed in the Prelude to After The Hero, a short novel that sets the stage for what is to come.
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On the dunes of the Sand Ocean, in the Sodaplains of the far east of the world, seven sandships glide toward the lush sanctuary metropolis, a gleaming city of commerce. Their purpose: to take that city for Gala, by cunning if possible and force if necessary. On the day after the Hero's invasion of their homes, the Galans are every bit as weary and distraught at their circumstance as the Sodish people are jubilant and oblivious to the reality looming ahead of them, as they celebrate their great anniversary festival.
Leading the Galan fleet are two Guards of Galavar, luminaries of the age: the inscrutable Silence Terlais, tasked with swaying the nations of the world to the Galance Ideal through true persuasion, and Lilit DeLatia, the brilliant military strategist whose army will settle the matter when persuasion does not. Far above them both, a river of fire flows through the sky, a reminder of Galavar's great work.
That river spans across the desert metropolis as well, Soda Fountain, home or waystation to many a curious mate who will, soon enough, become enfranchised constituents of Gala, or, in due course, some of Gala's most ardent foes. The decisions they make in the coming hours will shape the course of history.
The battle for Soda Fountain marks only the very beginning of a much greater struggle, a story that wraps its pages around a whole world, from the peoples who dwell in it to the Gods who created it. It is the world of Relance itself that lives and dies in our tale. It is Relance itself who we come to know best.
This is a story of people who care, and people who don't; a story of a vast and wonderful world both worshipped and ignored; a story of people who stand helpless before the course of events and those who strive, live or die, to control their fate; a story of what it means to be a part of something greater.
The Curious Tale tends to ignore some of the more common practices in fantasy storytelling, just like the title, After The Hero, suggests. You get to decide who's right and who's wrong, who to root for, who to love, or hate. But it's not an "everything is shades of gray" kind of story. It's a story of a world so real that you will certainly find profound good and evil within it. And the characters of this story do not lend themselves to simplistic archetypes; if I have done my job right, they read like real people who can only be judged in their own context. And the plots, the plots are mature enough to understand that sometimes you need to stop and smell the flowers. This is a story that asks your patience, and your enthusiasm for just noticing and enjoying the world around you.
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!