Introduction to the Empire of the Covenant


Short book synopsis
After a childhood spent in an orphanage, Lady Annabelle Alyssenne is back to ruling her House and Estate. Yet, her long absence has led to their political and economic weakening. In addition, Dark Lord Véridice Lyrienne, long-standing enemy of her family, is getting ready to finally destroy her House. In a hurry to find allies that could help her survive the confrontation, Annabelle initiates Courtship Rituals, year-long social events that would have suitors attempt to please her in a bid for her attention. Yet when she receives her suitors' letters of intent, it is only to discover that the Dark Lord himself has sent her one.

Table of Contents



French

Meta

 

Genre

High fantasy with romance subplots.  

Story type

Series of 5 books, each focusing on a different main character belonging to a different political and social group.  

Location

An empire made of hundreds of federal Estates, independent countries whose sizes range from city-state to vast nation. A society where power is everything and manners are primordial to avoid making enemies you cannot afford to have.  

Unique selling point

Explore the conflicts between the all-powerful mages ruling the empire, as well as the relationships they have with those that are subjected to their rules.  

Tone

The tone changes depending on the book, from Knightcore to Bleakcore.   Power is everything in the world of the Empire of the Covenant, and people are born with a great disparity of power. Those who have almost no magic are completely subjugated to the will of the immensely powerful lords and ladies, and even they have to constantly fight between themselves for survival. Anyone who cannot find and keep allies is condemned to servitude or death. Yet, things are changing, individuals are gathering together with new visions and hopes for the future in such large numbers that not all of them can be crushed.


ballroom
The Alyssenne ballroom, by AmélieIS with PublicDomainPictures


Setting the scene

 

The world

The Empire of the Covenant spans a whole continent and is made up of a myriad of independent Estates, all with their own political systems and local cultures. Since its foundation, the empire has been highly divided, first between the previously warring North and South coalitions, now between the Light and Dark political parties. The empire is ruled by a senate, yet this body has very little power beyond arbitrating trade disputes and stopping anyone from using magic that could destroy the entire continent. All lords and ladies ruling an Estate are members of the imperial senate, and all that it takes to join their number is to kill one of them and be able to hold the Estate against further attacks.  
Why should I have to obey anyone weaker than me? Might makes right, and I am certainly far more powerful than that imbecile lord. Let my will dictate the life of every inhabitant of the Estate!
— All young ambitious fools ever



Main character

The main character of book 1 is Lady Annabelle Alyssenne. She grew up in an orphanage without knowing of her inheritance, until an incident brought her to the Estate of Alyssenne. There, her magical link with the Land made her realise she was the lost heiress of the House of Alyssenne, one of the two founding Houses of the Empire. She made the controversial decision to isolate the Estate behind powerful wards for 10 years so as to buy enough time to learn how to defend herself. However, this has greatly weakened the economy of her Estate and alienated her own people. She has now run out of time and needs to face her enemies.    
The weight of all of the expectations resting on Annabelle was crushing. No matter who they were, all had opinions about what her duty to her House and her people should be—and they were far too happy with making them known. Yet she was the one who had to face her enemies and deal with the consequences of her choices—whether they be slavery or death. Still. She should not let fear make her shame her ancestors.




Lady Annabelle Alyssenne
Lady Annabelle Alyssenne by AmélieIS with Artbreeder






Parchment ritual
Parchment with ritual instructions, by AmélieIS with images from Pixabay and Vecteezy


Bracelet jewellery
An example of jewellery with magical properties, by AmélieIS with Pixabay and Vecteezy

Magic

Everyone has some degree of magical power, but how much varies greatly. Some people have quasi-inexistent power and cannot practise magic, while the most powerful mages have god-like powers. An important aspect of magic is line-gifts, special magic skills that are specific to every House. As a family will specialise in similar magic over several generations, they will develop specific magical skills innate to their family—though they still need to be trained to gain a real proficiency—and secret spells.   Ancestral or Land's magic forms the base of the religion practised in the empire. As people leave a trace of their magic behind when they die, several generations of a family living in the same place imbues that location with a special magic. That magic can be called upon by their descendants for protection and advice. This also makes possible the existence of a link between the ruler of an Estate and their Land, allowing them special protections as well as knowledge about the earth and all those who live there.  
As soon as she finished consuming the apple, the magic of the Equinox Ritual rushed over Annabelle. She could not help but gasp at the sudden influx of power flowing through her veins. The connection she felt immediately with all the living beings standing in her Estate. The awareness of her Land—her ancestors' magic!—turning its attention towards her. The sudden all encompassing sense of belonging. She was finally home at last.



Conflicts

 

Light vs Dark

Light and Dark refer to two political factions as well as two different styles of magic. The Light faction has traditionally been ruled by the Alyssenne, although in the absence of Annabelle it has been headed by Xénophène Ylucianie. The Dark faction is headed by House Alyssenne's sworn enemy, Lord Véridice Lyrienne, also colloquially known as the Dark Lord.   The Light faction stands for more regulations—against everything. Their goal is to assure the safety of everyone in the empire. The Dark refuses to extend the current regulations and claim to stand for freedom—freedom to practise any magic you want, from benign to human sacrifices... Both factions have been on the brink of war for several decades now, and it looks like Annabelle's return could be the trigger they were all waiting for.  

The government

The government is struggling against the lords and ladies to gain a minimum of power so as to actually accomplish its task of regulating the empire. Some of them seem to have become fed up with their limitations, as seen with the kidnapping of baby Annabelle and her abandonment in an orphanage. What else have they been up to?  

The commoners

The place of the commoners in society varies greatly depending on the Estate where they live and how much freedom the local rulers grant them. The commoners are, of course, greatly dissatisfied with the situation. There are rumours that they are communicating with each other throughout the empire and starting to organise themselves. Yet, how could their rulers take them seriously when they have so little magic at their disposal?


Betrayal during ball
Surreptitious attack, by AmélieIs with Unsplash



What to read next

  Presentation of the stories set in this world:      


Cover image: Map of the Empire of the Covenant by AmélieIS with Wonderdraft

Comments

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8 Jun, 2021 21:51

Really nice overview! I like how you focused on the novels, but included a bunch about the world too :D

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
12 Jun, 2021 08:49
13 Aug, 2021 02:05

I like how this article is structured! I'd love to read more!

Lilliana Casper   I don't comment much, but I love reading your articles! Come check out my new world, Jerde.
Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
13 Aug, 2021 10:21
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