The Book of Plans – Michael Pryor

Cover blurb
‘The House of Many Rooms is still in the grip of Prince Stefan, and his powers are growing… Following a disastrous attempt to wrest control from the evil Stefan, Saul Harding and the Princess and her Followers are on the run, searching for Saul’s missing parents and a way to save the House of Many Rooms. Somehow, they must find the Book of Plans, as the power the book holds may be their last chance. But their search means facing new terrors and a hundred new worlds – all before Stefan’s powers grow too strong and disrupt the fragile order of every world in existence… The second book in a thrilling new trilogy by one of Australia’s most talented science fiction/fantasy authors.’

Michael Pryor says
The Book of Plans, naturally enough, followed directly from The House of Many Rooms. And I was writing it soon after my own home had undergone a major renovation, so the whole notion of what a home means, and how important it is was still fresh in my mind. And at the back of my mind I was also conscious of the idea of creation, of shaping, and how this skill helps define us as human beings. We can make things from nothing, through our own energy and effort. I’ve always been impressed with the whole process of creation, the way we can make things, and The Book of Plans continues an exploration of creation on a grand scale. On a more individual level, I wanted to explore Saul Harding more. Here’s an ordinary kind of guy who’s been swept up in extraordinary events. He’s an unwilling participant, prone to doubt himself a bit too much. But I wanted to see what he could offer to the group, and what it would show him about himself.

The Book of Plans begins
Saul Harding ducked but couldn’t avoid the fist. It hit him right in the mouth and made his head jerk backwards, slamming into a tree trunk. He staggered for a split second before his foot tripped on a root and he hit the dusty ground. In one motion he rolled onto his shoulder and came up throwing punches, ignoring the red hot pain in his lip. When his fist met nothing but air, he stumbled off balance and was smashed behind the ear. He went down in an ugly heap, his head ringing.
“You’ll have to do better than that,” Aidan said. Saul looked up. Tall, red-haired Aidan stood dusting his hands, silhouetted against a bright sky. He wore a black T-shirt and a pair of shorts, and looked as if he spent his whole life in a gym. “You’re going to be a handicap to us if you can’t handle yourself in combat.” Saul dragged himself backwards until he was slumped against the rough bark of the tree trunk. He touched his lip gingerly and was relieved when it came away unbloodied. “I can handle myself,” he said slowly. “Besides, I’m a thinker, not a fighter.”

Aidan glanced at him sharply. “You have to be both if you’re part of our group. There are so few of us we have to be able to fight and think,” he said. “To protect the Princess.”