With the August publication of THE PATTERN OF THE WORLD, Spokane author Jeremy TeGrotenhuis, under the pen name J.T. Greathouse, completes his fantasy Pact and Pattern trilogy. The British Fantasy Award-nominated Hand of the Sun King was released in mid-2021, followed by The Garden of Empire in summer 2022.
The series revolves around protagonist Wen Alder, a boy living in the Empire of Sien, on the island of Nayen — a fictional land loosely based on the actual geography, history and cultures of China. Alder's bloodline descends from a powerful class of witches whose magic and culture have been stolen from them by the Empire. Alder still longs to harness the magical elements of his world, so he chooses a path that largely sees him obeying the Emperor's rule in exchange for this knowledge.
This theme was directly informed by TeGrotenhuis' own undergraduate studies at Whitworth University focusing on history and philosophy. He also studied abroad in China for a semester.
"It was all stuff that we talked about in my senior seminar and history class that I thought was super fascinating, so that was the germ of the novels," he says. "I was like, 'I want to write about a character who's educated by the empire that conquered his homeland.'"
While the novels were inspired by China's Ming dynasty, the otherworldly elements of Alder's world will also feel familiar to fantasy fans. In Sien, the witches among its different factions of people are able to control various elements of nature (some use fire; others wind, water, earth, etc.), communicate telepathically and even heal.
"I really like that kind of story dynamic where the main tension, like in The Hand of the Sun King, is a war between the empire and the rebellion, but there's other things going on, external conflicts and external tensions," TeGrotenhuis adds.
The Pattern of the World, he says, "is largely about when you realize a system that you rely upon, or that is sort of integral to your society, is inherently broken. And what do you do next?"
The Pattern of the World releases Aug. 3. Auntie's Bookstore hosts a launch event with TeGrotenhuis on Fri, Aug. 18 at 7 pm.