The measure of mystery...

Lesley Lawrence has completed a painting to illustrate the cover of Margaret Swift’s forthcoming publication The Resolute King. This is the first book of a new trilogy set in the magical land of Torquella, entitled The Enchanted Kingdom.

The Resolute King tells the story of the first year of King James’s reign and follows on directly from events at the end of The Crown of Untold Wisdom (the final book of the Amaranth trilogy). It will be followed by The Headstrong Princess, set 20 years later, the story of James’s daughter, and finally by The Reluctant Prince, set a further 20 years on, the story of James’s son.

Where the Amaranth trilogy concerned three spells (The Secret of Eternal Youth, A Spell for Irresistible Charm and The Crown of Untold Wisdom), The Enchanted Kingdom trilogy is a series of three portraits and can thus be regarded as a ‘triptych’, with the personality of James – The Resolute King – as the central element.

The picture is finely detailed. As the artist herself explains:
“In the foreground we see James seated on his horse. On the right and above him, emerging from among the clouds, we see him seated on his throne. Justice stands behind. As is traditional with Themis, she is blindfolded and holds the scale. She also holds a shield (instead of a sword), which I thought would reveal James as a protector…
“On the left, emerging, almost hidden in cloud, is Liturgius's movable castle. I thought this was such a good idea in the book that it would seem quite magical on the cover. And the measure of mystery is enhanced by the seven locating balls…
“The town of Torquella and the Palace are behind. The idea of the dark sky was to represent the very dark past of the Kingdom. The Palace is highlighted by sunbeams to indicate a much brighter future, and of course James is the champion of this promised new kingdom…
“The town proved difficult to create without having anything to match the size of the houses to the size of the Palace. Also, I recalled that the houses in another town, where the Princess Mimula had been living, had been built into the castle wall, and this is what I have tried to create here, as the houses slope up the hill and obscure a part of the Palace and the wall…”

The long-term strategy is for a set of seven books, a heptalogy. Linking the two trilogies as a type of pivot will be a seventh book consisting of Sylvester’s Journal, which Margaret Swift is working on at the moment. If you have forgotten who Sylvester is, then look again at The Spell for Irresistible Charm (he is Sylvia’s father). The significance of his journal becomes clear in the course of The Resolute King.