The Rogue King by Aldrea Alien is the first in its series. What I love best about Aldrea’s writing is the visceral emotions she conjures with her words. Often while reading, I find a lump lodged in my throat because I feel for her characters. Life isn’t always pretty for them, but it’s their struggles that make them come alive. She’s built a world that’s rich in history and complex with different species, power structures, and practices.
This science fantasy book comes with a content warning, and is advised for audiences 16+.
Here is an excerpt from The Rogue King.
“You used me!” he screamed at the desert. “An innocent—you said it yourself.”
Innocent? Lorric laughed. Not anymore.
Bile rose in his throat. The woman’s screams echoed in his mind. No matter how hard he tried, he hadn’t been able to block the sound of her begging for her life to be spared. Even huddled in the farthest, deepest corner he could reach within his mind, it had found him. “Get out of my head! Leave me alone!”
It’s not that simple, Vengeance. You’ve been given to me. A gift, a peace offering… call it what you will, but you’re still mine.
“Is this what you want from me?” Koral asked. “A total lack of respect for life?”
What I want from you, Vengeance, is your passion. Most Rogues get it from raping and killing. I’ll take whatever stirs you the most. For now. Lorric paused, as if allowing the information to sink in. However, because you’re already both rapist and murderer, stopping will not save your soul. As the angels will tell you, Rogues are the worst of the damned.
He thought the god’s words would anger him, but he felt… nothing. His very being felt hollowed out—an aching numbness. Not even looking at his claws, sticky with blood, could stir a single feeling. He had killed three people and he couldn’t summon any sorrow for their deaths.
But what would a monster, a Rogue, know of such emotions? I am a monster. Koral dug his fingers into the sand. No, that wasn’t right. He wasn’t Koral anymore. He couldn’t be ever again. Koral was an innocent young man who had died in that temple. He was—
“Vengeance.” The word felt soothing as it hissed through his teeth. He laughed, the noise sounding hysterical to his ears. “Vengeance!” he screamed at the clouds.
He would live up to the name the god had given him. He would make them pay. Shirain, Weinain, even Lorric. They would all suffer for what they had done to him, for what they had turned him into.
You can try, Lorric hissed. But nothing can kill a god.
The challenge only made him laugh harder. Everything died eventually. Even gods. He would find a way. He was Vengeance.
Such is the warning Koral has heard for twelve years. Born a product of genetic manipulation, he knows little else of the world beyond the steel walls of his home.
When fate gives him the choice between certain death and the unknown, there’s no question in what he must choose. But he’s about to find out the sands he must brave are full of more than mere monsters.
Providing the desert doesn’t kill him first.
This is a world ruled by instinct, where innocence is drowned in blood. Here, men are offered up to the great Serpent God, Lorric, only to emerge as the most feared killers on the planet: The Rogues.
With the god’s sights set on turning Koral into a legend, he must sacrifice himself to survive and be reborn as…
The Rogue King
Born and raised in New Zealand, Aldrea Alien lives on a small farm with her family, including a menagerie of animals. Since discovering a love of writing at the age of twelve, she hasn’t found an ounce of peace from the characters plaguing her mind.