Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Escapist Book Co. virtual book tour for AJ Calvin’s fantasy novel Exile! Today, I am excited to help kickoff the tour by sharing an interview with Andrew, the main character from the book!
You can find our Q&A below, along with all of the info about the book, the author, and links to purchase a copy of Exile for yourself! Also, be sure to take a look at the schedule here or at the top of the post and follow along to see the stops from our other awesome hosts!
Exile by A.J. Calvin
Series: The Caein Legacy
Intended Age Group: Adult
Published: May 24, 2023
Publisher: Self Published
Andrew grew up in the royal palace of Novania, the eldest son of the queen. He went on to achieve fame and glory as a renowned soldier, and was eventually named commander of the king’s army. The kingdom believed he would be named heir to the throne, but he has long known he is ineligible. The king is not his father.
The truth of Andrew’s lineage is only partially known to the king; the identity of his father is a mystery that even Andrew is unaware of. He knows only that his father was a dragon-mage, and the dragons have fled to another world. Andrew is a skin-changer, but the laws of Novania forbid his very existence. If the king were to learn the truth of what he is, he would face execution.
The laws are equally hostile to humans born with the Mark of the Magi and the ability to wield magic. Andrew’s younger half-brother, Alexander, bears the Mark. The pair keep one another’s secrets into adulthood…Until the king dies unexpectedly and Colin ascends the throne.
When Alexander’s Mark is revealed for all to see, Andrew is faced with a choice: To watch his brother be killed, or reveal his true nature in an effort to save him from the headsman’s axe.
I’m Meeting with Giant Bugs, What Could Possibly Go Wrong? • Never Anger a Dragon • My Brothers will be the Death of Me
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/exile-a-j-calvin/1143231978
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/exile/id6446454425
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m Andrew. Just Andrew. I no longer have surname. It’s a long story.
I’m the eldest son of the late queen, and have three royal half-brothers who may or may not become the death of me before long. I’m a career soldier and the commander of the king’s army, for now. That may change once Colin ascends the throne.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what is one thing you’d like to have with you?
A means to make fire. I can withstand the elements, but I prefer my food to be cooked. I’m a capable hunter, and with my strength, I can do many things most people can’t. But conjuring fire from thin air is not one of my talents.
What do you do in your free time?
I enjoy a card game known as Cabal’s Thrall. It involves a bit of luck and a lot of bluffing. I rarely have time to play, given my other duties, but on occasion, I’ll host a game or two in the barracks.
What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning?
The knowledge that without me, Alex is in danger. If his secret is discovered, I’m likely the only one who can save him. And I will, if it comes to that.
What do you carry in your bag?
Only the essentials. Rations, flint, a whetstone, a spare change of clothing, and a deck of cards, if I have space. After years spent on campaign, I’ve learned to travel light.
What’s your favorite animal?
I haven’t given it much thought. I have experience with horses, but very few of them tolerate me. I think they can somehow sense what I am…
What do you think about your brothers?
Alex and I are close, though there are ten years between us. I’d do anything for him, and will do everything in my power to protect him. Even though he’s a prince, he’s in greater danger than my other half-brothers are. I promised I’d keep him safe, and I will not break my word. And I’m afraid I can’t share the details of his situation. I am the keeper of my brother’s secret.
Tom’s the youngest. There are thirteen years separating us and he’s no warrior, so I don’t know him as well. He prefers books to people, and I’m not much for the castle library. Perhaps I should work on learning more about him.
And Colin… He’s the greatest source of aggravation in my life at present. Ours has always been a contentious relationship, but since he was named heir, he has only become worse. My temper is better when I can avoid him entirely.
What is your favorite holiday?
I’ve always enjoyed the Spring Festival in the Capitol. It marks the start of warmer weather, and is typically the last celebration the army gets to enjoy before marching north to deal with the Corodan threat each year. The Capitol is decorated with flowers of every variety, and the king always holds a grand feast. Some years, there are tournaments to watch.
I don’t participate in the tournaments. I have an unfair advantage over the other soldiers competing at arms, though most assume I only observe because of my upbringing. I let them assume… What can it hurt?
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
I’d like to visit the Dragonlands one day. My reasons are my own.
What do you do to relax?
As Alex can confirm, I don’t find it easy to relax. I suppose a mug of ale and a game of cards helps at times.
What is your favorite season?
Autumn. For most of my life, it has marked the end of the seasonal Corodan incursions and a return to the Capitol, a return home.
Until recently, I preferred my time in the Capitol to my time on campaign. Colin has done much to sour my appreciation of home since he was named heir, and with Claire at his side… I’m beginning to wish it was Spring again. It would give me an excuse to leave.
How would you define happiness?
Knowing I had the freedom to be myself—my real self—would mean the world to me.
I don’t foresee that in my future, however. I can’t leave Novania and Alexander behind. My brother needs me here. Until that changes, I’ll continue to hide what I am for his sake and mine.
How do you feel about your government?
It serves its purpose well enough, I suppose. I’ve never been one for politics, and please spare me the damned court intrigue.
If you could change one thing about Novania, what would it be?
It’s outdated laws.
There is no good reason to maintain a law stating anyone with the Mage’s Mark must be put to death, and there is likewise no reason to allow the hunting of dragon-kind for sport. Novania hasn’t been threatened by mages in centuries, and the dragons have done nothing to warrant being hunted like beasts.
What’s your biggest secret?
I can tell no one the truth about my father’s identity. If they knew what he was, they’d also know what I am. And what I am is forbidden in Novania. I’d be hunted and killed for the crime of existing.
What do you hate?
Colin’s petty antics. I don’t know why he feels the need to continually humiliate me. He’s the heir to the throne, and I’m illegitimate. I’m no threat to him.
What’s your biggest fear?
You may be surprised to learn it isn’t someone learning the truth about me. I fear someone learning of Alexander’s secret even more. I can defend myself in ways he can’t. He’s vulnerable, and as a prince, he’s in greater danger of exposure than others like him.
How would you describe the world you live in?
There is more to the world than Novania Kingdom, but Novania is all I have known. Under the rule of Carlton Marsden, Novania has flourished and most its people thrive.
To the north are the Gloaming Highlands, the realm of the Corodan. They engage in raids every summer, but it has long been my duty as a soldier, and now as the king’s commander, to fend them off. If you have never encountered a Corodan, they are an intelligent insectoid race with a hive-mind. They obey the orders of their Hive-queen without question, and are fearsome warriors. I don’t know why they’ve made it their mission to attack Novania’s northern settlements each year, and the few times I’ve captured one of their soldiers for questioning, I’ve received only vague replies.
To the south is the Barrier and the realm we call the Southlands. The Barrier is said to have been created millennia ago as a means to protect the people of the Southlands from Novania’s laws regarding the Mage’s Mark. There is only one way through the Barrier, but it is blocked from the other side. I don’t truly know what the Southlands or its people are like, but I believe one day I’ll be forced to travel there. Given my unusual heritage, there is only so long I can remain hidden in Novania before people start to ask questions I’m unwilling to provide answers for.
About the Author
A.J. Calvin is a science fiction/fantasy novelist from Loveland, Colorado. By day, she works as a microbiologist, but in her free time she writes. She lives with her husband, their cat, and a salt water aquarium.
When she is not working or writing, she enjoys scuba diving, hiking, and playing video games.