Ouroboros – final novel in the Dragon Witch Trilogy

Influenced by the work of authors such as Paolo Bacigalupi and N K Jemisin, Ouroboros is the third of a trilogy of epic sci-fi fantasy novels set on a world named Eco, and centred on Dragon-witch Caia Esvane and her troublesome daughter Leah. Aeons after inter-planetary war, an undersea city containing the remnants of an industrialised, authoritarian society emerges into an Eden where magic is real, and peoples have adapted to a post-apocalyptic world. The ripples from this event will spread back in time and across the galaxy, leaving nothing unchanged. And only by finding a way to the past can catastrophe be  avoided. Hence Ouroboros.

Ouroboros – Summary

Fourteen years in the future, the second Scitha invasion is imminent and this time, there seems to be no hope of survival for the nature-loving society of the Rift. Leah Esvane, now aged 21, is more gifted than Caia. Feisty and passionate, she is also very like her mother, with whom she agrees on nothing. Leah can also mind-join across time, and perhaps find a way to prevent the emergence of City 5, even if this means she can no longer exist.

As the conflict begins, Leah seeks a host 17,000 years in the past and mind-joins with trainee fighter pilot Leanne Tai. Her objective is to find and kill John Mack.

When Leah awakens within her host, the seven survival cities are already being constructed, and a pulse weapon is also being designed that will destroy not only the invasion, but all technology on the surface. There’s a chance that the same technology exists in her own time – and she has no idea what the death of John Mack would mean for her people. As Leah gets to know John and his family, and assumes the life of Leanne Tai, the choice becomes impossible.

Meanwhile, Caia has to find a way to impede the Scitha and buy time for Leah, even if it means the sacrifice of her beloved dragons and endangering the forests of the Rift. Some of the Outlanders, led by the sadistic commander Hol Xan and his centurions, want to side with the Scitha. Eventually, Caia must confront the Scitha Prime, calling upon all her magic to buy time for Leah. But Leah has got to know John Mack and his family, and Leanne has a complex life. And if Leah kills John Mack, then she and her sister Asha will no longer exist. How can their world be saved? The only alternative is a gamble – to find and somehow re-arm the magnetic pulse weapon that was used so long ago, if the people from the city can join with Caia’s people and work as one.

Main story points

Chapter 1. The rings in the sky are changing. The forest reacts, and dragons return from the mountains.  There are other portents – more space debris arriving, time disturbances, the sighting of ghosts. Leah, now 23, discovers the approaching threat.  Much to Caia’s disapproval, Leah has become involved with a centurion. Ross Zane (aged 32) had been serving under Hol Xan in the Outlands before escaping to the Rift. He is treated with suspicion but passes the gruelling tests, much to Caia’s disappointment. Caia forbids her, but Leah mind-joins with the Scitha Prime and learns of their weaponry. She sends her soul-mate Whiteflame to attack, but the dragon does not survive.

Chapter 2. Caia fights to save Leah as we see through Leah’s viewpoint. Whiteflame has not left her, because they now share the same soul and her gifts will increase if she lives. Leah’s spirit drifts through the enemy fleet and discovers the full scale of the threat. She challenges the Scitha Prime but in doing so, reveals their own weaknesses. She is nearly lost, but manages to communicate with their navigator and destroys the primary weapon, known as the Emperor Stone. Leah cannot be awakened, and the threat is still great.

Chapter 3. In City 5, preparations are being made by Hedra Darke, but not enough to defeat the Scitha. She holds discussions with Caia, her old adversary. In the Outlands, the renegade forces of Commander Hol Xan, former head of the centurions, are also preparing for the invasion. Equipped with a fleet of land-ships and committed to restoring City 5’s way of life, the Centurions see the Scitha as an ally. Hol Xan approaches Hedra Darke with a proposition.

Chapter 4. Caia summons Ross in a desperate attempt to recall Leah. He warns that Hol Xan will try to negotiate with the invaders. Caia can see terrible futures, one where Eco returns to how it used to be, polluted and exhausted, another where the Scitha discover a second Emperor Stone that has been hidden on Eco – and Hol Xan knows the location. She must enter the outer darkness to bring Leah back, and together they overcome the Scitha Prime, but the threat is grave.

Chapter 5. Caia decides that their only chance is a mind-join into the distant past to discover how the first invasion was defeated, and if possible, to prevent John Mack from being awakened, so that the emergence of City 5 could never have happened. But she knows that would mean she would not have met Lucas Venn, and her daughters could not exist. She decides the risks are too great, but Leah disregards her. The mind-join is difficult and dangerous, and Leah’s body must lie undisturbed in a smoke-hut whilst the invasion is held at bay and the Scitha search for her.

Chapter 6. When Leah awakens, she has bonded with trainee pilot Leanne Tai, but the mind-join is different from normal. Leanne had been facing death at the time of contact, allowing Leah to take more control. She has effectively become Leanne, and experiences all of Leanne’s memories and her knowledge. She knows that her own body, asleep 17,000 years in the future, can only exist for a matter of weeks. She can feel what’s happening to herself, even though she is existing through Leanne.  She awakens in the same location, different time. Even the rotation of the planet and its location in space are the same, the Rift does not yet exist and there are no forests or wildlife, only city and food factories. The sprawling Birdsong air base sits where ruined buildings exist in the future. This is a world in torment – polluted, over-crowded and over-heating. The military base was not constructed to repel an alien invasion, its purpose is to defend resources.

The second thing Leah learns is that the first wave of the invasion is already happening, and she is in the middle of a war. Many confederation fighters are lost and cities decimated, but the invading craft are eventually brought down. The first wave was purely to test defences, and the captured craft are analysed to discover the technology which will be employed to create the survival cities.

Society is plagued by in-fighting.  Polarisation has led to opposing groups of believers – those who blame everything on the sun (‘solarists’), and others who think that the clock has to be turned back and the current problems are a punishment (‘Edenists’). This polarisation also exists on the base, causing friction in the squadron. Leanne was a solarist.

The third discovery is that Leanne was enjoying an on-off relationship with a dislikeable scientist named Daniel Black, and currently it’s off. In the meantime, she is seeing Adam Taylor, one of the pilots in John Mack’s squadron. Daniel is helping analyse the Scitha weapon systems, and Leah needs to re-establish her connection to him, despite her feelings for Ross Zane – and the culture and behaviours of this society are quite different from her world. No one expects to live for long.

Chapter 7. Caia musters the forces of the planet to discover where Hol Xan is hiding the Emperor Stone. Deep in the Outlands is one of the Sancta, the magical rings used by the People of White to travel between worlds. Each Sanctum was capable of transporting twelve of the giants, rumoured to still exist but never seen. It still retains enough energy to conceal the Emperor Stone, and to defend it. Caia’s brother Darius and his tribe close in on the Sanctum, intent on attacking it, but only Caia’s bond-dragon Firestorm can do so, and the Sanctum is defended by many land-ships armed with energy weapons taken from the city.

Chapter 8. Leah gets to know John Mack and his family. Leanne enjoyed a close relationship with them, especially John’s wife Imelda and her six-year old daughter Vanessa. Leanne’s own family are trapped in China, now a wasteland devastated by the effects of climate change. Leah tries to get closer to John Mack and can’t help liking him. She discovers that his seventeen-year-old son Harry is taking drugs and depressed about the state of the world. She warns John about it. When Harry tries to kill himself, Leah finds herself drawn into the family and wins John’s confidence.

Chapter 9. Despite the loss of their primary weapon, the Scitha ships are winning the war. Caia knows she will have to summon greater forces to oppose them. She refuses to sacrifice more dragons and their riders, knowing they are hopelessly outnumbered. But the planet Eco has other weapons she can call on, even though they will also endanger many living things, including her own people.

Chapter 10. Leah’s second mission as Leanne is to help track down and kill the surviving Scitha, with the rest of John Mack’s squadron. They are hiding in a ruined city, and Leah has to prove herself to John, without revealing her dragon-witch powers. The cull reveals much about their enemy.

Chapter 11 concerns the construction of the first survival city, and the process to select who will populate it. The city is to be dropped into the ocean depths, out of reach of the magnetic pulse weapon being prepared to destroy the Scitha fleet – and which will also destroy all digital systems on the planet, leaving them defenceless.

Subsequent chapters to be decided. The storyline can be expected to change.

Chapter 1

Read chapter 1