In Emergence, the first novel in the Dragon Witch trilogy, the planet Eco has recovered from a catastrophic inter-planetary invasion and life has returned. The Northern Lands are now split by the Great Rift, a Garden of Eden amidst barren wastelands. Human life has also returned and has learned to live with nature, refusing to return to the old ways. All of this changes when dragon witch Caia Esvane detects a point of light travelling across the sky. The escape pod contains a dying man. John Mack is in stasis, a survivor of the great war that followed the invasion many thousands of years earlier. He is not alone – a huge survival city remains on the sea bed, and emergence will soon follow. Writing Emergence was an uplifting experience.
This is City 5, one of seven undersea cities created to survive the invasion. Shaped like a starfish and feeding off natural resources, it has grown and is now home to over thirty thousand people. City 5 is sentient, with its own agenda and ambitions, whilst the polarised society within is repressed, organised into sects governed by strict laws. At the top, Dynasties struggle for power and the most privileged consider themselves to be eternal gods, rejuvenated many times. There are sects in C5 based on differing beliefs about the surface, but all agree on one thing – that it is not habitable, and they are the only survivors from the war.
In the darkness of the lowest levels live the Feelers, blind and possessed of unusual gifts. Feelers live off waste and are part of the ecosystem within the ventilation systems. Order is maintained by Lawkeepers, work is done by Drones. Apart from the Royals, all other sects are allocated a specific life-span. The discovery of the survival pod acts as a catalyst.
The Royals discover the Rift with its forests and mineral deposits, and its primitive peoples. They see no beauty, only resources to be exploited and slaves to do their bidding. They are resolved to return the planet to how it used to be, with giant cities and endless wealth, ruled over by the strongest dynasty. Knowledge of the impending changes – Emergence – disrupts the city, unleashing beliefs and the desire for freedom amongst its peoples. The Dynasties fight for control of the new world as the city itself reveals a secret agenda.
The surface is not all that it seems. The great war did more than destroy the old world. It changed nature and left behind an alien technology beyond understanding. The clans that live there and the ruined machines are linked to the planet in ways that the City dwellers cannot comprehend, including dragonkind and the Magda Stones, a relic from the invasion. Strangest of all is the Great Tree, a mystical one-eyed giant rumoured to sleep below the Rift. The dragonkind have been banished, and the world awaits the coming of the new Dragon Witch.
The peoples of the Rift and the Outlands will have to unite to face the new threat, and Caia Esvane is chosen to lead the fight as her powers grow stronger. To make matters more difficult, she has encountered Lawkeeper Lucas Venn – an inhabitant of the city sent to the surface to collect data – and she knows they are destined to be together. To realise her full powers and become Dragon Witch, Caia must first be tested and forced to question her beliefs. Ultimately, to save her own world she must bring back the dragons and summon the planet itself to help destroy the city.
Emergence is much more than a clash of cultures. It follows the lives and fates of families caught up in an unjust war, and concerns the battle of beliefs – magic versus technology, progress versus sustainability, love versus hate. The sects from the city and the Surface clans must fight and die for what they believe in, as the full power of Eco is finally revealed.