Authors: Lisanne Norman
Sholan Alliance #6
DAW Books, Inc.
Donald A. Wollheim, Founder
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
is proud to present
TURNING POINT (#1)
FORTUNE'S WHEEL (#2)
FIRE MARGINS (#3)
RAZOR'S EDGE (#4)
DARK NADIR (#5)
STRONGHOLD RISING (#6)
Copyright © 2000 by Lisanne Norman.
All Rights Reserved.
DAW Book Collectors No. 1154.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
Electronic format made
available by arrangement with
DAW Books, Inc.
Elizabeth R. Wollheim
Sheila E. Gilbert
This book is for the friend I have known longest, Sherry Ward. In these books I craft a vision we both share. And for Jean. Thank you both for your friendship and help over the years.
As always, I have had help from friends providing me with essential knowledge I don't possess. I'd like to thank them here.
Brotherhood Research and Development— Merlin, aka James Chorlton, and Helen Lofting.
Sholan Medical Advisers— Dr. Michelle Harris at the Lawrence General Hospital in Lawrence, Mass, USA.
Alliance Ship Designs— Josh Eastridge, John Phillips, and Martin J. Dougherty
Brotherhood Science Officer, Anchorage— Hanno (Hurga) Foest
Alien Relations— Marsha Jones, Pauline Dungate, MaryAnn Hollingsworth, Lynn Edwards, Ken Slater, Tony Rogers
Sholan Cartography and Architecture— Mike Gilbert
Thanks must also go to members of The Sholan Alliance Fan Club for helping me with my research in fields as diverse as space station designs, weapons, and medicine. People like Greg Hofer and Mary Ann Hollingsworth. Also other members of the medical section at Lawrence General Hospital in Lawrence, Mass. USA.
The Sholan Alliance Fan Club can be found at http://www.sholan-alliance.org
Exclusive E-book Introduction
This is the 6th novel in my Sholan Alliance series, and though not the final one, it is the last with a title relating to points of contact. Aptly named Stronghold Rising, under Rhyaz' new leadership, Stronghold and the Brotherhood do, indeed, continue the uprising they started in Dark Nadir. That brings its own measure of trouble to the halls of power at the Governor's Palace on Shola, and in its wake, some very unexpected consequences: like Lijou's search of the ancient tunnels under Stronghold, deep in the very bones of the Dzahai Mountains.
As well as each novel having its own story to tell yet still contributing more to the larger plot of the series, as a writer I have my own behind-the-scenes plans within each that stretch my writing talent and help me to constantly learn more about my craft.
In this book, the focus moves back to Kusac as the main character and my Challenge, as a Sholan would say, was to look at how he would cope with the collapse of the life he'd known as a Telepath and the loss not only of his Talent, but his Leska Link to Carrie. I wanted to get inside Kusac's head to let you, as the reader, understand what he was going through.
In order to do this, I decided, unusually for me, not to start immediately where I'd left off at the end of Dark Nadir, but to begin five months later and tell the story as a series of flash-backs until Kusac's memories caught up with his present. This was something new, something I'd never tried before. So the novel opens with Kusac about to leave on a mission so secret that it will brand him as a traitor to his own people.
As always, new research was needed. In the last book, Dark Nadir, I'd searched web sites for information about Alien Abductions for the captive scenes on the Prime ship Kz'adul on the premise that there was nothing I could invent that would be more terrifying that what people who truly believe they have been alien abductees have gone through.
This time, however, I needed to look at the mental effects of the sustained and severe pain Kusac had endured during his captivity, and at how he would face life with a major disability. What would it be like for him to suddenly be a non-telepath in a close community of telepaths? Inevitably there would be closer links with the Primes - perhaps them even coming to Shola - how would Kusac cope with that given his father, as Head of Alien Relations, would be closely involved with their new allies? What would it be like for him when every time he entered a room, everyone there was suddenly ultra-positive, supportive and full of hope for his future?
What of the mysterious TeLaxaudin? Will they continue to try and find a cure for Kusac as they promised? Is there in fact any hope of Kusac regaining even a small portion of his Talent again?
Those of you who have been following the series know by now I don't make it easy for my characters. So as well as the constant presence of Carrie, who is now pregnant by Kaid because of their Leska Link, Brother Dzaou, the Sleeper well known for his species prejudices and dislike of telepaths, is posted to Kusac's estate in an effort to learn to bring his own prejudices under control. I felt he could prove a useful foil for the struggle Kusac faced.
And there's the mystery to solve of exactly who visited Kusac in the dead of his last night on the Kz'adul. Was it indeed, Doctor Zayshul? And what did she want?
Kusac isn't the only major character in this novel, there's also General Kezule, the Valtegan from the past. He will face severe culture shock when he wakens and finds himself among what he can barely recognize as his own people. Having grown up in a virtually male-only culture, the free and intelligent females he'll see everywhere will be a severe shock to him. But will he welcome it or not?
As the only male of the original Warrior caste now left alive, how real is his freedom on the Kz'adul going to be? Why did the Primes want him returned to them at the hostage exchange? What future will be open to the General in a world where he's like a wolf caged among docile herd beasts and the Primes are well aware they are the herd beasts. Don't forget Doctor Chy'qui's culling of General M'ezozakk's crew. What will happen when the Primes find out that Kezule's distantly related to the Divine Emperor of his own time - or do they know already? Will his existence cause problems for the Prime Royal Family? These are just a few of the issues to be resolved from Dark Nadir.
As always, lesser characters get their spot on the center of the stage whenever possible. I enjoy doing this because through their eyes you can see more of the day to day life and culture of the Sholans. Like Kitra and Dzaka. Well, Dzaka did promise Kitra they could have their life-bonding ceremony at Stronghold, didn't he? I imagine some of the catty younglings in her class at the Telepath Guild are going to be green with envy.
The Chemerian Ambassador Taira finally faces judgement for his crime of kidnapping Kate and Taynar, and Jeran and his U'Churian lover, Giyesh, make another appearance. And do you remember some time ago Kaid promised Dzaka that when he was no longer Oathbound, he'd tell him the truth of what had happened on the day of the final Leadership trials at Stronghold and what had led to Warrior Leader Ghezu expelling him publically from the Brotherhood? Well, the time has come for Kaid to tell his son all and for the final reckoning to happen.
But what of the larger picture? What is the darkness threatening Shola that Vartra spoke of? How did the Kz'adul know exactly where General M'ezozakk's ship and Tirak's Rryuk's Profit were? Why do the Primes really want the M'zullian Warriors, and what were Chy'qui and the Directorate really up to with the Sholans? Why are the TeLaxaudin helping the Primes in the first place and how did such fragile aliens become allies of such once-powerful predators? In Stronghold Rising, I promise you will find many of the answers.
Nineteen ninety-nine, while I was writing this book, was an exciting year for me. I was very kindly invited to be a Guest at a convention in Berlin called EuroFurence 5. It was a first for me in several ways because I'd never been to Germany before, and obviously not to the capital city of Berlin. Though the convention was held on the outskirts in a holiday camp, we did spend a couple of days after the convention sight-seeing round the beautiful city of Berlin itself. As well as meeting an amazing group of people, I was lucky enough to be taken to a Tiger Rescue Ranch and spend an afternoon sitting within four feet of some of the most magnificent tigers I've ever seen. I was even allowed to pet one of them as he sang to me. Read Kipling, he describes the wonderful haunting sound they can make. I fell in love instantly.
As if that wasn't enough, at the beginning of October, I visited the United States for another convention, held near Seattle, ConFurence West, where I met up with some old friends, one or two who'd been at the Berlin convention, and made new ones. During the convention, I was taken to meet a white tiger called Pepper who lived nearby. She was magnificent. I never realized white tigers had such deep blue eyes. Tigers are the most easily tamed of the big cats, but unless you have a great deal of land and time, I don't advise owning one. All of the big cats need a great deal of attention and dedication - and money.
From Seattle, I went to stay with two of my friends at their home in a town near Mount St Helens. They own two cougars and a black panther. I'd never seen a cougar before, or been so close to a panther. Normally the panthers I've seen are a tiny black dot at the far side of a huge enclosure in a zoo. Not this time. Though I couldn't be allowed close enough to touch them, I took dozens of pictures and spent several happy afternoons watching them. I had never realized the power inherent in their powerful shoulder and neck muscles - I now know I based my Sholans wisely on them.
From the North West, I took my son to the other side of the States, Florida and Disney World. We were unlucky and caught the tail end of a hurricane, but it was once again a marvelous experience. The Kennedy Space Center was like a pilgrimage for me. Then eight days later, we were on the move again.
For the several days run up to Hallowe'en, we stayed with another friend and her mother outside the town of Salem, Mass. That was fun and interesting. Hallowe'en is frowned on here in Britain nowadays, which is a shame as it was originally a celebration to say a last goodbye to friends and relatives who had died that year. Sometimes I think the British take themselves too seriously - being a Scot I can get away with saying that!
Finally it was off to New York to be with my editor for several days to discuss the final version of Stronghold Rising. I remember her husband taking a photo of us sitting on their sofa, one of us at each end, with our laptops on our knees and her three cats in the middle and trying to displace the laptops and us as we discussed the type face for the date headings and what to use for the gaps in the pages.
With her husband, we mapped out the interior art for the book - how we could represent the star map and the sketch of Stronghold itself. The Sholan alphabet was created by Mike so we could use the letter representing V as the Brotherhood symbol for Vartra for my scene breaks. It's the symbol cut into the back of the coin every Brother or Sister wears once they've completed their training at Stronghold. I'm extremely lucky that Mike enjoys doing art work for my novels because he is so talented. Just as his wife can get into the skin of each character as well as I can, so too can Mike draw the world of Shola and her allies the way I visualize them. Then, on Hallowe'en itself, we sadly caught the plane back to the UK.
It was a truly enjoyable trip, lasting a whole month and letting me see far more of the rich variety of landscape and culture of America than I've ever seen before. And of course, every experience enriches my imagination and my writing skills. I was delighted when the German fan nicknamed Bagheera, who took us to the Tiger Ranch, said I was so accurate when describing the movements of the Sholan's ears and tails as related to their emotions. So if you read a scene about the autumnal forest, then I'm thinking of Boston and Salem, and of mountains, I'm thinking of Seattle and Scappoose. And when our heroes reach Shola and step out into the heat of the Sholan summer, I am once again in Florida on the couple of very sunny days we had there.
My fifteen year old son eyed the pile of paperwork my editor and I decided I needed to take home with me to finish off the book. "Mum, I thought when you were a grown up you didn't get homework, but it looks like I was wrong." Once home, I added the finishing touches to Stronghold Rising. And here it is for you to enjoy.