New York Times bestselling author.
The World of the Circle of Shadows
Character profiles of The Society of Taigas and The kingdom of Kichona
Her teachers say she’s wickedly smart but lazy, the kind of taiga-apprentice who gets infuriatingly high marks despite never studying. Sora has a reputation for spending her time coming up with elaborate pranks rather than “applying herself,” and it’s made her a bit of a legend among the other apprentices. Next up? Pulling off a surprise at Rose Palace, right beneath the empress’s nose.
But despite her flippant exterior, Sora does understand what an honor it is to be a taiga. She wants to be the best warrior she can be… as long as she doesn’t have to follow the rules to achieve it.
Hey, her taiga name isn’t “Spirit” for nothing.
Gemina: Daemon (a.k.a. Wolf)
Hometown: Samara Village
Favorite Weapon: Throwing stars
Favorite Food: Empress cakes
Favorite Thing to Do when on School Break: Draw up plans for her next delightfully irreverent disruption at The Citadel.
Raised by a pack of wolves (and well aware that he sounds like a ridiculous fairy tale trope), Daemon is both ferocious and self-deprecating all at once. His official taiga name is “Wolf,” but unlike the other apprentices who leave their birth names behind, Daemon still holds onto that piece of his past, since—without a family—it’s really all the history he’s got.
A mediocre student of magic, Daemon makes up for it by training hard and being the fiercest fighter in his class. Get into the arena with him, and he’ll have you flat on your back and begging for mercy in a sliver of a second.
Age: almost 18
Gemina: Sora (a.k.a. Spirit)
Hometown: Takish Gorge
Favorite Weapon: Bo
Favorite Food: Steak, as rare as possible. (You can take the boy out of the wolf pack, but you can’t take the wolf pack out of the boy).
Favorite Thing to Do when on School Break: Go back to nature where he can climb trees and see the stars.
Don’t underestimate this pixie-sized girl. She may look like a delicate porcelain doll, but she fights like she’s made of pure venom, especially if you hurt her friends.
She knows she’s pretty, too, and she uses it for her own entertainment. Between classes and sparring practice, Fairy’s often hiding in a towel closet or attic with a new boy on her lips. But don’t worry, gentlemen—she lets her conquests down gently once she’s tired of kissing them.
Favorite Weapon: Stiletto blade
Favorite Food: Rose apples
Favorite Thing to Do when on School Break: Forage for plants to make into poisons.
At first glance, Broomstick is frightening—he’s a huge mass of solid muscle, his head is shaved, and his eyebrows are singed from a recent “experiment” with explosives.
But he also has a smile ready for anyone who crosses his path, and he knows every single taiga at The Citadel, as well as their birthday and favorite flavor of cake. For this, the other taiga-apprentices nicknamed him “the kingdom’s most lethal teddy bear.”
Favorite Weapon: Pocket-sized explosives shaped like eggs
Favorite Food: Fish curry and rice
Favorite Thing to Do when on School Break: Invent new bombs and blow things up.
A small island kingdom renowned for its mossy green forests, colorful textiles, and rare tiger pearls—enormous orange-and-black-striped gems found only in the underwater caves of Kichona.
Twenty-five year old Empress Aki rules the kingdom, following her late father’s philosophy of peaceful trade with Kichona’s neighbors on the mainland. Her reign has been characterized by stability and prosperity.
However, there are those who believe that Kichona could be more than it is. After all, they have an army of magical warriors—taigas—at their disposal. Why be content with mere happiness, when there is glory and gold to be had?
Kichona could be an empire. If only Empress Aki would use the taigas for the kingdom’s gain…
SOCIETY OF TAIGAS
“Cloak of night. Heart of light.” – Society of Taigas motto
Taigas are the defenders of Kichona. Blessed at birth by Luna, goddess of the moon, each taiga is raised and trained in The Citadel, the Society’s headquarters in the Imperial City. During their apprenticeship, they learn everything they need to know to protect the kingdom—stealth, hand-to-hand combat, weaponry, and most importantly, spells to control their magic.
Every taiga also has a gemina, a partner with whom they share an emotional connection. Through their gemina bond, a taiga can transmit a sharp spike of panic to warn her partner of a surprise attack, or convey a warm sense of pride when his gemina successfully decapitates three enemies with one slice of her sword. The magical bond is such a strong one that taigas usually know their geminas as well as they know themselves.