So, you've made it this far, have you? It takes dedication to find this page hidden deep within the Tagonist Knights Website.
What if fate destined you to be a gallant hero that will save the world and you thought to yourself, "Um... No." That is the unfortunate circumstances for the five realms in that they must rely on Sebastian and Nathaniel save them. Learn insights into their thoughts of those involved through quotes and have fun with related artwork and memes. Learn of hidden Easter Eggs and follow the path that it took from original concept to final draft. Welcome to the world of the Age of Shadows. Good luck on your journey. You'll need it.
“Spirits of the dead, giant wolves, and demons born from the depths of a realm of nightmares? It can’t be all that bad.” - Sebastian
A scene selected from the book.
The opening scene catches the reader off guard by being thrust into the middle of a deadly situation where Sebastian and Nathaniel are about to be hung. The action-packed thrill of their escape combined with the comical antics of the two men sets the tone of the rest of the novel. It presents a dark, brooding setting filled with shape shifting wolves, an ancient zombie lich, a cursed king, the spirit of a girl, demons, beings formed form magic... Then there are the two main protagonists who are reacting to all of this with a smile, a joke, and often making light humor of what is happening around them. Sure, it's a coping mechanism, but they are so entertaining. Action, horror, and comedy all in one.
“Nice to know that on the list of things an evil dead sorcerer hates, we’re not a priority. I don’t suppose we’re in the top three on the list? I would be a little insulted if I’m not somewhere in the top ten.” - Sebastian
“I never thought I would live to see the day when the threat of being incinerated by a dragon will be the least of my problems.” - Sebastian
A Card Game
Long before the author wrote the story, he was involved with a game called Magic: The Gathering. There was a set that was released called "Homelands". It involved five main realms, representing two combinations of colors. One being the realm of Baron Sengir, a vampire lord. Alongside him was an evil "Grandmother" Sengir and a kidnapped dwarven princess manipulated into thinking she belonged in this bizarre family called Irini Sengir. Another character in this set was called "Ishan's Shade", essentially a paladin that is cursed in death. The original concept for the story was a fan fiction narrative.
The author wanted five realms, four of them surrounding a central "City of Light" which was protected by a high wall. The main protagonists would travel the world, explore each realm, fix things as they go along, a generic fantasy quest storyline. However, writing the first book, there was already a full-length novel and the group had only traveled to two of these realms. So, a sequel that was directly connected to the first was needed. A two-part story developed.
A lot changed from the first concept. According to the original designs, each realm had a "of light" specialized structure. The city in the center being the City of Light. The Kingdom of Light being to the west with the castle being the object of purity that was tainted by evil. A Temple of Light was to the south. It was dedicated to the ancient benevolent gods. A Tower of Light to the east was never properly explained as to its significance before the general concept was discarded. Each had become corrupted, turning into an abomination of its former self. Of that concept, only the term, the City of Light survived into the final version. The kingdom existed, but was never referred to as a place "of light".
A Failed Attempt
The first book was finished years ago before the author returned to the concept. At the time, he had memories of it being amazing, thinking only minor editing would be needed before jumping into the incomplete sequel. He had little understanding of just how bad the original draft was and how much work would be required to fix it.
To start, Nathaniel was this horribly boring, two dimensional, generic standard fairy tale hero character. He had no personality other than "I'm am the chosen one and I'm going to save the day". Meanwhile, Sebastian was the spineless, agreeable, highly supportive of the main central character, sidekick. He was kind of whiney too, "But Nathaniel, are you sure we should do this? I don't know about this..." Of the original, some general ideas were salvaged and two scenes, one involved Ferot meeting with the king were saved for the final draft.
Nearly everything had to be discarded in favor of starting over with a complete re-write of the novel. The new approach was to make it so that Nathaniel and Sebastian would be equal to one another. The author was greatly inspired by the quick back and forth interaction between Tulio and Miguel from the movie: Road to El Dorado.
The first attempt at writing the book was a scene between the pair planning to steal from a woman who represented the wealthy who lived the life of luxury while allowing others to starve to death. It felt like it dragged on leading to a new opening of them at the gallows.
A Terrible First Draft
The original book began with a newborn baby being blessed by his grandfather. He says something about how it had been prophesized that the new dawn will be brought about by this child of destiny. The mother rejects this responsibility being placed upon her son, since others who claimed such a thing had been killed by evil forces. That established Nathaniel as being "the chosen one". The author felt that it was so cliché that it was painful to proceed with.
Meanwhile, Sebastian was the whiny, tag along, sidekick that for the most part played the role of a coward that would eventually prove himself as his own hero in the second book. Zoe had the potential to be an incredible individual to write about as she is in the final version. Unfortunately, she was relegated to the standardized love interest for "the chosen one". By the end of the first book, her final line is a whispered, "My love..." It was horrible wish fulfillment written by a lonely college student who was just starting out with his writing career.
Most of the structure and plot of the first half of the book remained. The younger wolf was killed by the griffin, not the soldier. The second half of the book involved two factions. Individuals referred to as demons that were summoned beings like in the final version. There was a set of twins created from magic that seemed to have omniscient knowledge. There was another pair of a brother and sister albino wolves that help Ferot track down the humans who are heading into the Eastern realm at the end of the book. There was an agent of the "Lord of the North", a vampiric woman. A third duo of Angelica and Demona, a set of twins that were an all white and all black version of the same woman who was split in half, becoming an evil and good side. All of which was removed.
The original titles of the pair of novels were "Bringer of the Dawn" and the sequel being, "Dawn of a New Age". The two together would be, "Bringer of the Dawn of a New Age". Avoiding the cliché chosen one approach, the author chose a new design. With a theme of shadows, focusing the concept of light within darkness led to the idea of the sun and the moon surfaced.
As the author began writing about Sebastian and Nathaniel, they sprung to life. They would often take over the story and getting them to do what was needed became an ongoing headache. That's why the writer had to create reasons why they did this or that. The enchanted swords, Zoe being in a trance approaching the castle, Dirgum (Who was essentially the blue genie from Aladdin in the original draft.) transporting them into a no win situation where they had to fight for survival, all methods to force these two guys who wanted nothing to be the protagonists of the narrative. It is later explained that this occurred because of the influence of the two gods Sol and Lun who are revealed in the second book.
Some scenes were kept but changed to fit the new narrative. In the first version, Sebastian and Nathaniel are judged by the three elders and sent into exile as it is mentioned would have been their fate. They are sent out into the world without aid and must steal a knife from the dead farmer who was murdered by the wolf. They are not given aid by a group of rebels and not provided weapons/clothing.
In the first draft, the leader of Sanctuary was evil and stopped by the second in command who was switched to be a benevolent leader in the re-write. At one point Nathaniel was disintegrated in the vortex of magic and somehow returned.
So Many Changes
From original draft to its final version, a multitude of characters were eliminated and those that remained were sometimes altered. The dead king, Yulia, and Ferot remained essentially the same. Zoe became much more developed with a deeper history and motivation for her actions. The love interest aspect of her character was eliminated making her more of a protective guardian of the lead pair.
Originally Caravac was not destroyed but transformed back into a sorcerer and was meant to be the main antagonist against them in the first half of the second book. There was a conclave of evil sorcerers that had to abandon the south and had taken over the "tower of light" to the east. The idea of the City of Shadows was being considered but hadn't been developed much. The conclave leader was in communication with the vampiric lord to the north who was evil. He was more comic book, twirling moustache, stereotypical type of villain. He was introduced along with Leandra and Adam in the first book, not the second. The pair escape the northern realm and the evil vampire lord that kept her prisoner at the end of the first book. More on this in Silhouette of the Moon.
What began as a fanfiction, inspired by a storyline from Homelands of Magic: the Gathering card game, became a terribly written "chosen one" overly cliché storyline with terrible stereotypical characters. Years later that would inspire a complete rewrite of the original material, adding humor to a dark, twisted realm, and dealing with the most frustrating two individuals that refused to be heroes.
However, the wouldn't change a thing. Despite the struggle to reach the final version, he loved writing about the trio of Sebastian, Nathaniel, and Zoe.
“I took down a wolf in human form and blinded a dragon that was about to kill me. I think I can handle anything the lands to the east have to offer." - Zoe
Easter Eggs and Inspiration
Dargom says, "Do you honestly think I’m just a servant, summoned from a magical bottle, ring, or lamp to do the bidding of my master?"
This refers to the original Alladin story where there was a genie in a ring and a second one in a lamp. Also, in the television show, "I Dream of Jeannie", she lives in a bottle.
“In war, victory does not exist. All that remains are survivors who mourn what has been stolen from us, who must endure the nightmares of these tragic events, and attempt to rebuild our world from the scars etched into its memories.” – Isaac