Twelve Kings Tuesdays — The Beauty Behind the Blade
From now until the release of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai in early September, I’m going to be posting a new image from the Pinterest board I created for inspiration. I’ll be talking a bit about each image, why I chose it, how it affected the story, and so on.
The image I decided for the this week is one of the earlier ones I chose and that really helped to round out Çeda, the heroine of the series.
Like most things on Pinterest, the photographer is unattributed, but it’s a beautiful image. Çeda was fairly undefined for me at the time, and I was digging deeper into her nature. We learn pretty early that Çeda is hiding things from quite a few people. She has vows she’s been trying to fulfill for years, ever since her mother’s death at the hands of the Twelve Kings of Sharakhai, and this image seemed to encapsulate that well. I originally had her wearing a turban like this, that had a headdress of sorts, but later decided not to use it, as it might make sound that could give her away at the wrong moment. But this is something you would see fairly often in Sharakhai’s bazaar or the spice market, women walking around the great city, faces covered by veils or niqabs or, more rarely, turbans.
It also shed some light on a group of elite swordswomen known as the Blade Maidens. The Blade Maidens are women with almost mystical fighting abilities who pledge their swords to the Kings. They’re hand chosen and go through specific rituals to gain the right to fight by the other sisters of the Maidens. They’re ruthless in the execution of their collective duty to protect the Kings from the threats that surround them, both in the city and beyond, in the desert at large.
And so, in a way, this image played double-duty. It was a reflection of Çeda and her mother, Ahya, enemies of the Kings, but it was also a reflection of the Blade Maidens, who protect them. It was very interesting to me to see those two threads mingle and eventually converge as the story continued to develop. It’s interesting to me how the smallest of inspirations can grow to become a central hinge upon which the story turns. This image was certainly an example. As to how those threads commingled, well, I think I’ll just leave that for the book.
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, Book One of The Song of the Shattered Sands, is available for pre-order in the US via Penguin Random House, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble and in the UK via Amazon UK and Waterstones. Audio versions will also be available via Brilliance Audio and Orion/Gollancz Audio.