Island of Exiles (The Ryogan Chronicles #1)
By: Erica Cameron
Publication Date: February 14th, 2017
In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle.
On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else.
But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen.
To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run—a betrayal and a death sentence.
The One Rule You Never Break
There’s a magical psychological phenomenon that happens when people watch movies and TV or read books. It’s how we can consume stories about aliens and vampires and time travel and immortality without spending every minute asking questions. This phenomenon is called the suspension of disbelief.
The phrase originates, as far as I can tell, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1817. He said, “…it was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.” Essentially, it boils down to a reader’s or viewer’s willingness to accept the impossible as true within the context of the creator’s work. This only works if the creator acknowledges the responsibility of following their own rules.
If, for example, in Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter had used the words “Fire burn and cauldron bubble” to light a fire under his potion cauldron, readers would’ve unanimously cried “What? No! That’s not how spells work!” Rowling established very clear rules for magic very early in the series, and readers accepted these rules as truth. Fact. Incontrovertible. They’re willing to believe in magic and potions and flying broomsticks for only as long as the universe that contains these things remains consistent, solid, and trustworthy.
Shiara and Sagen sy Itagami definitely have rules, and once I establish them, I’m bound to follow them. Or explain why they’re breaking.
There are rules that govern the island, and they change the dangers the Itagamins have to face. Like drought. And fish with teeth. And vicious storms that nearly tear the land apart. All of this exists in cycles…which is what makes Khya and the others so terrified when the pattern changes.
There are rules for the social structure of the clan, and they determine each person’s path from birth to death. For example, all children are equal and to be given the exact same education and training. It’s the herynshi, a trial everyone faces when they’re sixteen, that determines which class each child spends the rest of their life in…which is why Khya is so panicked at the thought of her younger brother facing it without any hint of magic to protect him.
There are rules for sex and sexuality, but those don’t actually determine much of anything in Itagami. Basically, it’s don’t let sex interfere with work. Bi-/pan-sexuality is the norm, but other preferences are neither disparaged nor discouraged. It’s equally common for people to be in relationships of three or more as it is to be a pair.
The rules are important to know and to follow, because the reader’s suspension of belief breaks as soon as the rules do, but they shouldn’t constrict a story. When they’re used right, the rules of a world can not only provide the necessary framework, it can help the plot. In fact, good worldbuilding should help the plot, and that’s what I tried to do when I built Shiara.
After a lifelong obsession with books, Erica Cameron spent her college years getting credit for reading and learning how to make stories of her own. Erica graduated with a double major in psychology and creative writing from Florida State University and began pursuing a career as an author.
Erica is many things but most notably the following: writer, reader, editor, asexual, dance fan, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, Florida resident, and quasi-recluse. She loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon décor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works.
Her debut novel, Sing Sweet Nightingale, released March 2014 and it was the first volume of The Dream War Saga. In May 2015, Erica and her co-author Lani Woodland launched the Laguna Tides series with Taken by Chance. Riptide’s new YA imprint Triton Books will release both books in the Assassins series, Discord and Nemesis, in 2016. The Ryogan Chronicles, a fantasy trilogy set to launch through Entangled Teen, will launch in 2017 with Island of Exiles.
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