The King of the Outer Reaches
The novel's first chapters were published to a fanfiction message board in 640 ACI. It updated in a serial manner over a matter of days, having clearly been already written prior to posting, and this method of publication attracted a fair amount of attention.
- Mariner Federation report on the novel's history
When I'd get stuck with Simeon on our patrols, and he inevitably wouldn't say two words to me the whole time, I'd take The King with me and read it cover to cover, front to back, over and over. It's a stupid book. Stupid story. But maybe I'm stupid, too, because Lord of the Universe hear my song, I'd give up anything for a love like that.
First published online in 640 ACI in Imperine, the posts that would later be combined into the novel The King of the Outer Reaches were only live for a few days after publication before they were removed and digitally erased. The text had been saved in numerous places, however, and the quick removal of the novel from these message boards sparked interest and suspicion. The novel began to be duplicated and distributed both in digital and print formats, and soon it was too widespread to contain effectively.
The novel opens with Gaius, a tesserarius loyal to Caesar Immortalis, arriving on the fictional Legion Terra Firma as a new tesserarius. On his first trip to the planet Illyricum, he encounters the Gabriel, who as a Renan of Truth has been assigned as a translator and guide for Gaius. The two don't like one another much at first, but quickly become friends. When they're stranded in the mountains during a storm, Gaius is grievously wounded, and Gabriel reveals that he is a Kol-Renan when he saves Gaius's life. Their relationship becomes romantic after this, but another tesserarius figures out that Gabriel is a Kol-Renan and reports this to Caesar. Caesar demands that Gabriel be arrested and brought to him, but Gabriel resists and flees. The venatores of the Terra Firma threaten to destroy Gabriel's home if he doesn't surrender. Despite Gaius's pleading for him to run, Gabriel returns to his home to defend it. Gabriel fights the venatores and kills them, but not before one wounds him fatally. Gabriel dies in Gaius's arms, and then Gaius drinks sicara poison and utters the novel's final lines as he dies:
"Hail, Caesar Immortalis.
Hail, Caesar, whose blood has made a siren of me, whose magic is long sapped and gone.
I have no Caesar but him."
Thorough analysis of the novel proved difficult during the novel's early life, due to widespread and aggressive bans on it. As the initial targeting of the novel became milder, analysis of it became more commonplace, even making its way into university courses.
The eponymous king of the novel is revealed to be Gabriel when he and Gaius are traversing Illyricum's The Reaches, its wild mountains that nearly spell Gaius's doom. On one of their earlier excursions into The Reaches, Gaius makes the comment that Gabriel has an uncanny knowledge of the mountains, and suggests that Gabriel could be "the king of the wildest, furthest slopes here."
The novel's time period is purposefully vague, and setting it on the first planet that the Imperia colonized adds to this vagueness.
The fictional Legio Terra Firma takes its name from the mythical name for the ancient home planet of the Imperians and Renanim. Its direct meaning has been lost to time, but is commonly believed to mean approximately "beautiful world" or "motherly world."
The time period of the novel, as mentioned, is difficult to locate in true history due to the overall vagueness of the setting and references, but also the few but significant anachronisms throughout the narrative. Gaius being a tesserarius means the novel takes place during or after the Fifth Age, when the first tesserarius emerged. However, by this time, Imperian-Renani cooperation had crumbled to the point that Renanim were no longer accompanying legionnaires on planets, especially Illyricum, which saw mass riots and revolts in the Sixth Age led by the Twinned Saints.
Gabriel is first presented as a Renan of Truth, a siren (incorrectly) believed for a long time of being incapable of speaking anything but truths. During early Imperian-Renani cooperation efforts, Renanim of Truth were often preferred as companions for legionnaires. A Kol-Renan, however, has always been considered unequivocally dangerous, and from the beginning of the Imperia, Caesar has sought out the Kol-Renanim for safety reasons. The novel challenges this long-held belief that Kol-Renanim are dangerous by presenting Gabriel as kind and helpful before revealing him to be a Kol-Renan.
"Hail, Caesar Immortalis. Hail, Caesar, whose blood has made a siren of me, whose magic is long sapped and gone. I have no caesar but him." On the surface, these lines appear to be a final praise of Caesar, indicating that Gaius is still loyal to the Imperia. However, "whose blood has made a siren of me" references a familial or marital relationship. A reader can infer that Gaius's statement that Gabriel's siren blood made Gaius into a siren means they were literally or figuratively married. The final line, "I have no caesar but him," lacks a capitalized title for Caesar, and indicates that Gaius is not, in fact, referencing the actual Caesar Immortalis, but rather Gaius's "personal caesar" or "king," who was established in earlier chapters to be Gabriel (the King of the Outer Reaches).
The username of the forum user who posted the original novel was "The Historian," a name which continues to be the only one known for the mysterious author. After the novel's publication, The Historian began to publish poems in various places around the Imperia, either digitally or in physical print. These poems, like The King of the Outer Reaches, have been studied extensively to try to discern the identity of The Historian. Thus far, there has been no success in this, and The Historian's true identity remains a mystery.
Text, Literary (Novel/Poetry)