Seeds for the Reaper

Book 1 of the Age of Twilight Series
Zak Hennessey's picture
by US United States
July 4, 2018

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Seeds for the Reaper - Book coverThe thengati hunt and eat humans. They’ve done so for hundreds of years. Savage brutes, powerfully muscled and warlike, they rule the dark places of the land.

But the survivors have been learning and adapting. Uniting the scattered human clans, they’ve become stronger, more cunning. The people of Claremont have risen to their feet, screaming defiance at their tormentors. Using hard-earned strategy and superior weaponcraft, King Brenard of the noble Mont-Callahie bloodline has begun turning the tide. Humanity struggles to rise; the thengati rage to keep control. Their blood will mingle in great rivers before the end.

Chataka of the thengati has seen the doom creeping toward her people, but the great chiefs refuse to listen to the words of a rebellious woman who is unable to breed. Cast aside, her quest for answers leads her to a tower of black glass in the haunted lands and offers a pact with an ancient demon from beyond the veil. The consummation of that pact could shatter the fledgling human kingdom and return the thengati to dominance. If she can get her people to listen. And if they act before the amassed human army attains its revenge for centuries of pain and terror.

The seeds are planted, and the Reaper prepares for a bountiful harvest.

Author's Note: 

Author’s Note (From the back of the book)

Thank you for reading my book!
This book plants the seeds and lays the foundation for what is to come. It is the first slice of bread in a rather large loaf whose recipe I have been working on for decades. Does that make this book the heel? That first slice that is usually bypassed to get to the “real” pieces? Maybe…
Before I go on, however, I want to warn you that if you are reading this Author’s Note first for some reason, you’re going to want to stop now unless you’re prepared to be exposed to some real spoilers from the story. People might be mad about some of the things I did in this book, so I thought I’d take a little time to address the why behind some of those instances. If you read beyond this point and haven’t finished the book, you will have only yourself to blame if you hate spoilers.
The story structure of this book is indeed unusual. It’s not the tale of one or more main characters, following the usual character growth arcs and progressing through the usual stages of an epic journey. Rather, it is a story of the catalysts and circumstances that lead to the rise of the important characters that come into their own in later books.
This story is based on a series of comic books I put out in the mid-to-late 90’s, and later played around with during NaNoWriMo on and off between 2006 and the present without really having a direction or goal in mind. In the twenty-plus years this series has been percolating, it has grown and expanded a considerable amount, though the core concept and premise remained the same.
However, the more I elaborated on the story during NaNo, or during the many attempted comic book relaunches that I honestly never had the time or money for, things grew, and the storyline went forward as well as backwards.
The comic launched right into the action, when all the key players were adults. Scarred veterans that had been doing their thing and struggling against the darkness for a very long time. That’s perfectly fine for a comic book, where you have to hook readers from page one and don’t have the time to develop the characters in the usual “Act 1” way of novels. Sure, you could start with an origin issue, but with an ensemble cast, that’s not the easiest thing to pull off.
As I got to know my characters better and began weaving their backstories together, defining their motivations and the events that led them to their first appearances in the comic book, I realized that too much of that foundational information was vital to those characters, and shouldn’t be skipped, glossed over, or hinted at in countless flashbacks. Thus, when I decided to translate the story from comic books to novels, I found myself with the opportunity to go back to the beginning.
And then… a little bit before the beginning.
One of the oldest, and arguably most important characters was Kingsley Mont-Callahie. The first to face the darkness and stand against it. He brought together the other “Survivors” as he struggled against both the growing enemy and the frustrating, untrusting rulers of the divided nations that refused to see the danger growing ever closer.
As I went back in time, fleshing out how Kingsley met each of the major Survivors and delving into the past of the wildcard title character named Lazarus, I became convinced that I needed to start at the beginning.
But the beginning kept growing.
This book was originally supposed to be one or two chapters and a series of flashbacks woven into what is now set to be books 2 to 4, but the characters demanded more attention. Gandathar’s mother didn’t even exist in the story as more than an obscure motivating force who mated with a demon and was killed by humans, thus setting Gandathar on his destructive path of vengeance. She was talked about but never seen. But the moment I set about to flesh her out and create her story in this book, she jumped fully formed from my brain and gave me such a powerful character that I honestly struggled with the idea of whether or not to follow through with her ultimate fate. I wanted her to live, and apparently my beta readers had wanted her to survive as well, but it would have caused problems in subsequent books, and weakened Gandathar’s motivation. As it is, having her spirit (if it is indeed her… I don’t want to reveal too much) appear before him at the end of the book kind of allowed me to split the difference. She can’t be around him at all times, and only he can see her (if she really exists at all and isn’t merely a figment of his traumatized mind), so that allows me to tell the rest of the story without having to change too much, and I can leave the reader wondering what her deal really is.
As it stands, there’s a lot of story to tell, with many connected “origin stories” that will focus on the most important key players and what they were doing before they joined the main storyline.
The next book has a much more traditional structure, at least in how information is given and how it’s paced, though I plan to continue to keep you guessing and waiting for plot twists and turns, while expanding and fleshing out more of the world.
As I look over my notes, the first four books of the series were originally supposed to fit into one 250k novel, but as I delved into the details, and the story took over, it became a 100K word introductory novel (book 1), and three novels of likely 250k words each. One super-massive 850K novel didn’t seem practical, and would have taken me forever to write, so I decided to break it down into logical pieces, separating the story where it seemed to make the most sense.
I want to say so much, but I can’t. Perhaps I’ll get that blog up, or start that Patreon account to give any interesting readers more behind-the-scenes information, and updates on the writing process. If that sounds interesting to you, see if I’ve already done so online. If I haven’t, let me know you’re interested. If enough people want it, I’ll do it.
I’m sure you’ve already figured out why I called the book Seeds for the Reaper. If not, I’ll just say that things were planted in this book that will make the Reaper very happy as they continue to grow in the upcoming books.
The nice thing about knowing so much about my story and world ahead of time is that I can put things in that may not seem to mean much now, but when the ramifications are revealed and readers go back to see if I did indeed hide certain things in earlier books, a greater understanding will suddenly come to light and a bigger web revealed. Much like Part One of this book. The Xen twist caught all my beta readers by surprise, but going back and reading it a second time, listening carefully to her responses and inner dialogue and what she is really saying, as opposed to what I wanted the reader to think she was saying, it becomes an entirely different experience the next time you read it.
As I briefly mentioned above, if you want to follow along with my story and art development notes, my processes, and get a sneak peek at things I’m working on before the rest of the world gets to see them, I will be developing a Patreon account where I plan to give my patrons a lot of great behind the scenes information, character and concept artwork, video tutorials, and a ton of other fun stuff. For a very small monthly patronage (as low as $1 a month!) you can help me to create more, and produce subsequent books faster.
That information, when it exists, will be at my website, www.zakhennessey.com
Thanks again for reading this book, and if you liked it, please tell your friends, and if you thought it was a story that readers of the genre might like, giving me a review on Amazon (or wherever you got this book) really does help new writers reach a broader audience, and a broader audience really helps me afford to spend less time doing time-sucking “bill paying” work, and more time writing and creating!
The faster I can grow my audience and make this a viable source of income, the faster I can put out subsequent novels. That’s legitimately how it works.

Thanks for reading!

Zak Hennessey
March, 2018

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Books by Zak Hennessey

Seeds for the Reaper - Book cover
Fiction
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