It’s a dangerous time to be the Kingmaker—a human lie detector and the most coveted diplomatic weapon in the realms. In Breath of Fire, the second book in The Kingmaker Chronicles trilogy, Thalyria is heading toward all-out war, Cat is now officially out of hiding, and her secrets are out, too. Some key Olympian Gods as well as her warlord lover, Griffin Sinta, are all telling her it’s time to kick denial in the butt and start taking responsibility for the kingdom, so continuing to ignore that pesky, world-shaking prophecy about herself is getting harder to do. The problem is, when you’re a runaway princess just about everyone wants to capture, kill, or use, actually getting around to ruling the world can be tough. It’s hard enough just to survive.
So what’s a girl to do?
Learn how to hide. Know how to fight.
Cat is adept at both. In fact, when hightailing it to safer ground isn’t an option, she can melt enemies with magic, turn their own powers back on them, and hit just about any target with a knife. When it comes to protecting the people she cares about, she can be unapologetically violent and forget to even blink an eye at the ensuing bloodshed. And when situations really get sticky, whether her foe is human, mage, or beast, Cat follows some rules of survival that have served her well over the years.
- The Gods can be trusted—usually.
If an Olympian shows enough interest in you to dole out magic, gifts, or even advice, take it. It’s extremely rare, definitely not to be ignored, and might not make any sense at the time, but things like that have a way of working themselves out—once you understand what’s going on. When Gods dabble in the lives of men, anything can happen. Cat’s philosophy on this one? Take the magic. As for the rest… Wait, see, and hope for the best.
- If you think an adversary has more magic than you do, bluff like there’s no tomorrow—there might not be.
Bravado goes a long way in any battle, especially when the magic in Thalyria is so powerful and vast that, frankly, you never know what an enemy might be able to throw at you in a fight. Elements? Creatures? Something conjured from thin air? The good thing is, your foes don’t know what kind of magic you’ve got in you, either. If they think you can pound them into the dust with a single thought, they might be less likely to try to burn you to a crisp. Cat’s viewpoint? Make them run away first. It’s better than doing it yourself.
- Don’t play with knives—use them.
If bluffing fails, an epic evil eye has no effect, and magic ends up being in short supply for one reason or another (fatigue or, Gods forbid, the enemy actually is more powerful than you are), break out the blades! Knife throwing is the smartest way to go because you can keep your adversary from ever getting too close. Efficiency is key in battle, especially if you’re outnumbered, so always have a full supply of weapons and throw fast. Cat’s thinking on this one? Aim for the throat.
- Decapitation is the surest way to kill just about anything—even a God.
Every now and then some kind of magical creature comes along that you just can’t kill. It keeps coming back, and back, no matter what—and usually regenerates to boot. Impaling doesn’t work. Magic doesn’t stop it. Neither does blunt force. Pretty soon, you’re out of options. Cat’s official standpoint when all else fails? Chop off its head.
- Consider everyone an enemy—they probably are.
When you’re the Kingmaker, it’s pretty much guaranteed that all people of any power in Thalyria have you in their sights, either for their own use, or to keep your special truth-detecting talent out of their adversaries’ hands. Cat didn’t ask for unparalleled magic or a position of influence, but since she got them anyway, it’s best to at least try to use them for the common good. Cat’s philosophy? Beware of everyone. Until they unequivocally prove otherwise, they are out to get you.
Thank you for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Cat’s rules for survival.
A French master’s graduate and former English teacher, Amanda lives in Paris, France. She met her husband while studying abroad, and the family now includes two bilingual children who will soon be correcting her French.