The Black Sphere
The Black Sphere is somewhat of a sequel to The Staff of Naught although it stands as as separate novel and can be read as such. In that book Ariana comes away with the Black Sphere as a prize. Several years have passed and forces that desire the Sphere are now gathering to threaten the nation of Doria.
Ariana must flee the invasion and attempt to destroy or possibly use the power of the Black Sphere to save herself. She travels with her mother-figure Lousa and the young son of the regional baron. In their journey it becomes clear that Ariana’s unwillingness to part with the Sphere is in no small way responsible for the horrors of war the region is experiencing.
Will she accept the responsibility of her actions or will she continue to deny and deflect blame? Ariana is the central figure in this book and ability to deal with the Black Sphere is integral to the story.
As Master On tells her; Anything is a toy in the hand of a child.
The overarching thematic element of the Black Sphere is the transition from childish ways into adulthood. This is a difficult time for everyone and many people never really overcome the barriers to become an adult. Despite the fact that we are many years past our childhood we can still look at the world as a child might. We can make decisions as a child.
Ariana is the embodiment of this theme as she is a thirteen year old girl transitioning physically from being a girl into being a woman. But there is far more to being an adult than bodily functions. She must accept responsibility for her actions and pay the price or she will remain a child forever.
Her new friend Aydon is the son of the baron of the region and charged with keeping her safe. While he has largely made the transition his brother, Jaylen, has not. I examine the idea of being an adult and looking at things from such a perspective comparing and contrasting how the two young men look at the world.
Finally there is Tenebrous who must finally make his own decisions about whether or not to accept responsibility for his deeds.
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Ariana is the main protagonist of the Black Sphere and is in possession of the titular item. She has had it for a number of years but it is now time to pay the price for her inaction. Other people know about the powerful relic of the Old Empire and they want it. She must come to terms with the consequences of wanting to selfishly keep the Black Sphere when others advised against it.
Aydon is the adopted son of Baron Avakubia who controls the territory where Ariana lives with the Black Sphere. His father has long known that forces are moving against the region in hopes of acquiring the relic of the Old Empire but has allowed Ariana to pursue her own course. The time of reckoning is at hand for Aydon as he charged with protecting and helping Ariana. Aydon is a young man who has taken seriously the lessons of life and is wise and mature beyond his years. He is a contrast to his older brother who still views the world from the eyes of a child and is part of the forces that are working to take the Black Sphere for their own.
Dredogastus is an old swamp rat who lives a largely solitary existence in the Great Salt Fen. He is enlisted as a guide for Ariana and her friends as they attempt to destroy the Black Sphere. While he is the oldest member of the group he has traveled the least having barely been beyond the confines of the swamp. Living such a lonely life has made him a strange fellow but sometimes those are the best guides a group can have.
It has been several years since the end of the Staff of Naught and Lousa is no longer the manipulative woman she once was as she must care for Ariana as a mother might. In this novel she is once again thrust into events beyond her control and is the guiding hand for the group as they try to destroy or use the Black Sphere for their own.
One of the leaders of the Thilnog Monks is the plain spoken and serious Master On. He served as Aydon's trainer several years ago and helps the group escape the invading forces that desire the Black Sphere. He plainly explains to Ariana that her actions have led to the war and that she must decide if she wants to continue to behave like a child or not.
Tenebrous is an Unlife creature sentenced to eternity as a Shade by the Queen of the Abyss. Tenebrous was once a man but never an adult. He behaved as a child might and the consequences of those actions have brought him terrible suffering and misery over the years. In this book Tenebrous has the opportunity to finally behave like a man and the decisions he makes will profoundly effect the world.