Second Dawn – novel 2 in the Dragon Witch Trilogy

Influenced by the work of authors such as Paolo Bacigalupi and Anne Mccaffrey, Second Dawn is the sequel to Emergence. The three epic sci-fi fantasies concern love and war following the emergence of a dystopian undersea city into an Eden where magic is real.

Summary

City 5 was the first survival colony to emerge on land following an interplanetary war fought 17,000 years earlier. The ensuing conflict left dragon witch Caia Esvane with a fragmented society. Estranged queen Hedra Darke has now returned from the North to reclaim her city. She brings with her the mysterious People of White[1], survivors from a race of giants and navigators to the Scitha.

To regain control and rebuild her empire, Hedra will do whatever it takes. Including the murder of Caia Esvane’s husband Lucas Venn and taking Leah, Caia’s seven-year-old daughter as hostage.

The city of Rax arrives

Whilst Hedra plots to regain her kingdom, a second city follows City 5 onto land. Originally City 3, the inhabitants of Rax are no longer human. Having discovered the alien DNA woven into the fabric of their city, the Raxers used it to adapt themselves to life under the ocean. Also, the city has been adapted for war. Unlike City 5, visible dissenters do not exist. This is a civilisation with one mind and one purpose, but the single mind is also their weakness. The people of Rax have never questioned or doubted.

The return of Hedra Darke, previous empress of City 5

Hedra Darke must find a way to revive City 5, but she has underestimated Caia Esvane and the power of Eco. As the cities begin their battle, Leah mind-joins with her mother and younger sister Asha to overcome Rax. Meanwhile, City 5 powers up. It is stronger than ever.

Only when Hedra believes she has finally won the battle for Eco, do the People of White reveal their true purpose. They manage to send a signal into Deep Space, and someone replies. They want to escape back to their home world, but this never happens. The novel ends as Leah decides to stay with Hedra Darke and Rax prepares for invasion.

Second Dawn – main story points

The war with City 5 fragmented society even more. Many of the Drones from the city have agreed to adapt to the ways of the Rift. Others retreated into the Outlands, refusing to accept Caia as their leader. Some have formed alliances with Outlanders, raiding the villages of the Rift for food. The Feelers, blind inhabitants of the lowest levels of the city  are busy adapting the city to their needs. Electra Darke, daughter of Hedra, now lives amongst them.

Problems with ice

Caia Esvane rules over an uneasy truce as the northern ice moves southwards and resources dwindle. She and partner Lucas Venn have a seven-year-old daughter, Leah, who already shows signs of her mother’s powers. Caia is once more with child, and Lucas wants to move south and find new lands. However, Caia senses new danger and will not leave her people.

Problems with Outlanders

Caia’s brother Darius, unofficial leader of the Outlanders, struggles to keep the tribes united. Lawkeepers and their leader Hol Xan continue to challenge him. Darius swore allegiance to Caia, but the approaching ice is changing the Outlands, and his people are facing starvation unless they leave.

Enter the People of White

The People of White are growing fewer in number as each millennium passes. Originating from a world of ice, they have moved southwards as Eco cools. They seek a way into City 5 through Hedra Darke. Only they know the secrets of the city and the original purpose. City 5 always intended to signal the return of a habitable world to the Scitha.

Hedra Darke, former ruler of City 5 is finally ageing without the rejuvenation process enjoyed by Royals. She makes a deal with the mysterious People of White – she will help take back the City in return for her youth. And this time, war is not the answer.

Hedra plans

Hedra seeks the help of Jan Riding, Head Psyche of City 5. She starts to recruit Lawkeepers and others faithful to the new cause. She must find a way to re-enter City 5 through a deal with the Feeler King, but he is only interested in one thing – the head of ex-gladiator Lucas Venn.

Unlike City 5, the inhabitants of Rax are now part-human. They have inherited the single-minded objectives of their city and are no more than an extension of it. Queen Nebularis views all her subjects as her children. Her culture is egalitarian, devoted to safeguarding the seas. The land is therefore seen as a threat.

Trouble with Rax

At first, raiding parties attack coastal villages with biosynths and take people away to study them, making use of Rax’s bio-engineering. They target three ex-waste disposal drones from City 5 who are struggling to survive in the new world. A biosynth takes Dil Crowne, but Hath Ban and his brother Octo escape to the Outlands. They find themselves in an impending war, where an army of centurions and deserters sail land-ships and seek to take control of the Rift and its resources.

Meanwhile, Dil remains in Rax, unable to warn about the impending threat. Hath and Octo both dream about Dil and they decide to rescue him.

Hath and Octo steal a land-ship and sail towards where their friend Dil vanished. With their help, Dil manages to escape from Rax and tries to warn the land people.

Even Caia agrees to the revival of City 5 as attempts to communicate with Rax all fail. The city emerges and makes its intentions clear. Hedra Darke abducts Leah, and Lucas Venn is badly wounded. Hedra manages to take control of City 5 with help from the People of White.

Rax attacks

Rax attacks City 5 with devastating consequences. Caia combines her power with Leah and Asha, summoning Eco to defend itself. Rax is left helpless from the resulting earthquake and tidal wave, and the queen dies. Hedra remains in control of the ruined City 5 with the People of White. Leah decides she will remain with Hedra, until Lucas rescues her and almost dies. The People of White send a signal to their home world before attempting to escape, but Hedra shoots them down before escaping herself. Caia welcomes survivors from Rax to join her people, and forgives them.

Click here to read the first Chapter of Second Dawn.

[1] The People of White are a mystical race of snow-white giants, once serving as navigators to the warlike invaders. Unable to procreate, their numbers are declining.

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