As we approach the release date of the amazing next installment in the Dark Shores series, Gilded Serpent, allow me to be your guide through the Dark Shores world!
This post will feature all your burning questions, like reading order, mythology and other world details, and an AMAZING Q&A session with Danielle herself!
The Dark Shore series revolves quite a bit around the sea, but this is NOT a pirate series. Much more, it is a series brimming with war, political intrigue, and a world separated by more than just the Endless Sea.
If you're looking for a spoiler free review of the rest of the series, check out my posts for Tarnished Empire, Dark Shores, and Dark Skies. If you're brave, you can also check out the spoiler free review of Gilded Serpent, which I was fortunate enough to receive as an advance copy!
First, let's talk reading order. The Dark Shores series is very unique when it comes to reading order. According to Danielle herself, the reading order is as follows: First, you should read Tarnished Empire OR Dark Shores OR Dark Skies. Then, once you've read all three of those in ANY order you'd like, you read Gilded Serpent.
As a self-proclaimed DLJ fangirl, here is my personal recommended reading order:
1. Tarnished Empire (The Thirty Seventh Legion)
2. Dark Shores (Marcus and Teriana)
3. Dark Skies (Killian and Lydia)
4. Gilded Serpent (ALL OF THEM)
This order makes the most sense to me, as a reader, due to the POVs covered in each book. However, again, the reading order of the first 3 books is completely subjective and up to each reader.
This unconventional reading order and the multiple POVs is a huge part of the plot in GS, so just be sure you've read all three existing books before GS. Also, while Tarnished Empire is prequel, it is a MUST READ before you read Gilded Serpent. 100% guarantee you will NOT enjoy Gilded Serpent, or even understand parts of it, without reading ALL THREE books first.
Mythology and World Building
Now, let's dive a bit more into the world of Dark Shores, where East must never meet West! Hopefully if you're reading this post, you've at least read one of the books in the series. There's a lot of world building in this series and I'm hoping breaking down some of the background mythology will be helpful as the worlds of the East and West begin to converge.
These gods play a big role in how things go down in the story, so here's a nifty list to refer to!
- Madoria: Goddess of the Seas
- Gespurn: God of the Elements
- Lern: God of the Beasts
- Yara: Goddess of the Earth
- Hegeria: Goddess of Body and Spirit
- Tremon: God of War
- The Seventh: God of the Dark, aka the Corrupter
These gods are a little dramatic and sometimes "mark" people as their chosen champions. Killian is one of those people! With the "god marked" comes great expectations though, so it's not taken lightly!
Let's also dive a bit more into some other aspects of the world building that might get a little lost in the shuffle:
Maarin - a seafaring people; the only people who (successfully) navigate the Endless Seas that connect the East to the West.
Celendor Empire - this Roman Empire style kingdom rules the entirety of the East, conquered by legions like our favorite Thirty-Seventh
The West - made up of Arinoquia, Derin, Gamdesh, Katamarca, Mudamora and the Uncharted Lands
Xenthier crystals/paths - portal type doodads that take you places across great distances; some have been closed up by the people living near them to avoid strangers popping up randomly
Question and Answer with Danielle
Danielle was gracious enough to agree to sit down with me (virtually, of course) and answer a few burning questions!
Q: Who's your favorite character to write (other than Marcus, of course)? Why?
A: Agrippa, who is one of the point of view characters in the prequel TARNISHED EMPIRE. I’ve always known his character existed—he’s alluded to in DARK SHORES—but when he came on scene in GILDED SERPENT and stole the show, I knew I needed to tell his story. He’s so witty and will say just about anything. Writing him feels very easy and natural for me.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors? Why?
A: Lately I’ve only wanted to read NA/adult fantasy romance with spice, so I’ve gravitated toward authors like Jennifer L. Armentrout, Sarah J. Maas, Shelby Mahurin, Laura Thalassa, and Scarlett St. Clair. FROM BLOOD AND ASH is definitely my favorite recent read. What I really want more of are books that keep the pacing and character focus of YA but with adult characters and content, which I feel is a space that’s really underserved by traditional publishers (indies are killing it, though!).
Q: What's been the best compliment/feedback you've ever gotten for one of your books?
A: I love the messages I recieve from readers, but my favorites are always the ones where a reader has connected with a character for a personal reason. I’m also a big fan of GIF reactions of people reaching one of my cliffhanger endings or the loud screams of Agrippa’s name when he finally comes on scene in GILDED SERPENT.
Q: What's the inspiration behind your characters? Are they ever based on real people, or do they come completely from your mind?
A: I’ve never based a character on a real person (or a fictional one), but I think aspects of people or characters that I find interesting or compelling store themselves in my subconscious to be deployed when the time is right. Certain character types are easier for me to write, particularly morally ambiguous ones like Marcus or Lara (Bridge Kingdom) or witty ones like Agrippa or Keris (Bridge Kingdom). The honorable do-the-right-thing types like Killian or Zarrah (Bridge Kingdom) are much more difficult for me. But I like my protagonists to be very different from one another, which is why I’ll choose personalities that aren’t necessarily natural for me to write.
Q:What's your writing process like? Do you write in order or jump around? Do you use an outline?
A: I think outlines are joy-killing buzzkills, so I only write them when I’m forced to do so, and I never stick with them. My process when I get an idea is to let it cook in my brain for a long time (sometimes years), building the characters, plot, and critical scenes so that it runs like a movie in my head. When I start writing, I typically move linearly through the first 25% or so, but then I’ll often jump around with transition scenes coming last. I wrote most of TARNISHED EMPIRE backwards, because the ending was the most vivid piece in my head, and I needed everything to work towards creating it.
Q: Anything else you'd like to add for fans of the series, or for people who've not yet read the series?
A: GILDED SERPENT is my favorite novel in the series—a book of my heart, because many of the scenes within it have been sitting in my brain for years. More than any of my other novels, these characters feel real to me. Their sweat, blood, and tears are my sweat, blood, and tears (lots and lots of tears). I really hope everyone loves it as much as I do.
About the Author
From her website: Danielle L. Jensen is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Novels: Stolen Songbird, Hidden Huntress, Warrior Witch, and The Broken Ones, as well as the Bridge Kingdom series and the Dark Shores series. She lives with her family in Calgary, Alberta.
Purchase Links for Gilded Serpent:
Thank you for reading! If you have questions or comments about this series, drop me a line! I'd love to hear from you!