Title: Vault of Dreams
Author: Luke Taylor
Publication Date: 2016
Synopsis: Albanland. Emerald hills and ice blue lochs, bordered by Nørds raiders and the haughty monarchs of South Angle, each dynasty eager to seize lands weakened by a civil war in which a usurper has risen to seize the cloven throne.
Morgance, Faer Princess of the Night.
And by her side, the fearsome Ultan Skölhammer, sworn Guardian of the Crown.
But Rhoswen, rightful heir to the throne, princess in exile, leads a final uprising from the depths of the forest, an uprising that twists together the lives of the most unlikely companions.
A notorious thief accused of a crime she did not commit.
A baird apprentice searching for the meaning of life.
A pair of brothers who can’t seem to stay out of trouble.
And a gypsy bound to the ancient artifact known only as the Vault of Dreams.
Review: This book was simply breathtaking.The language was vivid, the characters were perfectly flawed and you felt every emotion that they went through. It left me feeling empty at the end, knowing that it was all over and, to me, that is a sign of a truly remarkable book.
At this point, I would ordinarily delve deeper into the book to explore themes and character development, however, I have been lucky enough to be given an interview with Luke Taylor, the mastermind behind Vault Of Dreams and so, instead of reading my views on the book, you can see what the author himself has to say.
Kelly: Hi Luke, thank you so much for not only allowing me to interview you but for allowing me to read your incredible novel Vault of Dreams. My first question may be an obvious one but what was your inspiration for your novel?
Luke: Hey, you’re welcome! Well, I was watching Neil Oliver’s A History of Scotland and I had recently read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, which is one of my favorite books ever. I’m Scottish and love Scotland and as a writer, multiple POV ensemble is what I think I do best, along with character, and it was just the idea that you could achieve that in a YA standalone that really got me excited. The moment I realized it was a character-driven ensemble set in an alternate/mystical Scotland, I dove in. I couldn’t be happier with the story, thank God.
K: Which character do you think closely resembles yourself?
L: That would be Uilleam/Quill. I felt that sort of character is missing from YA Fantasy and he was very important to the story.
K: Many of the names in the book are beautiful such as Morgance, Aerlyn, Rhoswen, where did you find the inspiration for your character names?
L: Great question! For me, characters always begin with the name, and then come the eyes. And I don’t know who a character is till I look in their eyes. But I can’t look in their eyes till I have a name. For VoD, I knew that it was Celtic and I looked up a bunch of names and picked one name at a time that spoke to me and wrote them all down on a list and started thinking about them. Aerlyn was the first one that got me, and on and on. I wanted each character to be very strong in their identity, and the names were such a big part of that. But, as you notice, with things like heraldic titles and location-specific surnames, their names get a bit of a boost in the story, such as Aerlyn. You can call her Aerlyn, or you can call her Aerlyn O’Rye, or The Thistle, or The Thistle of High Inverloch, ect. But all that comes from just Aerlyn and how much that name spoke to me of who she was.
K: Ultan is a very interesting character as he is a strong champion warrior, however, he is filled with pain and turmoil. What made you choose to develop the character this way?
L: I shouldn’t laugh, because Ultan is such a huge part of the story, but in retrospect, he has the worst life and worst circumstances of any character I’ve ever written. He was easy to write because he seems so very Scottish with his sense of loyalty and his bravery, but also his sense of false responsibility, his issues with drinking. For me, it was very important that Ultan provide a very deep vein into a few issues, one being race, the other being duty. He is a racial outcast, and sometimes people overlook racial issues of the same skin color as if they don’t exist when they very much do. Everything in his life is in some form of conflict and to me it was necessary to build his character in a way that made him so very flawed but not in the traditional sense, more in a tragic sense. He’s in a position where there is no legal right and wrong, only what is right and wrong for what he holds onto in his heart, where there is so much pain and anguish, so it’s hard to make the right decision. He has this responsiblity to defend his land from invaders, but those invaders are blood relatives, and those he’s defending don’t give a damn about him because he’s a half-blood. There’s also the issue of his oath of office, which has put him in an impossible position with Morgance, and really, he just has a really rough time in the story, but hopefully not in a way that’s too heavy. Intense, but not too heavy.
K: Morgance is a wonderfully complex character that creates mixed emotions in the reader. Who was your inspiration for her and why?
L: Thank you for addressing her and it’s really tough because I’ve had some people tell me she was their favorite character and that they really loved hearing her thoughts and trying to work through her conflict. I wanted to write a story with no villain, so to speak, only an anti-hero, and Morgance, much like Ultan, is full of conflict and has trouble balancing the past and the present. I can’t say too much about her as far as inspiration but she was very easy to write. Actually every character was.
K: Who is your favourite couple in the book and what is it about their relationship that you’re drawn to?
L: I have to say Aerlyn and Quill because it’s the most romantic and it’s the most Cinderella, but also it can be seen as the most realistic. You can see they need each other, that their connection goes very deep. It is destined.
K: What/who inspired you to write?
L: I would have to say God created me to write and then I can blame George Lucas for Star Wars and Indiana Jones, because they gave my imagination this outrageous boost of newness and they came in my life when I was really ready to receive them. I had so many cool books and toys and things and I’ve seen so many movies that inspired me, but that’s where I can say it began with me. I made books in school and kids loved them. It was easy for me to take Star Wars characters and write my own story. Again, it’s another ensemble with such strong larger than life characters, all so iconic. So, even to this day it inspires me. Han Solo and Boba Fett are my favorite Star Wars characters, if you must know. The book I made at school was about them.
K: So, after the success of Vault of Dreams, what does the future hold for you?
L: God only knows!!! I have so many books to write and I’m so thankful for the ones I have written, all five of them, but really, you can only live one day at a time. Even when I have an idea and I can see it and know how good the book will be, I still have to slow down and realize you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time. Writing a book is a great journey, and finishing it is very rewarding because you can look back on the path that you took during the course of working on a book and only be thankful. I am so thankful for VoD and all that it represents and the fact that it means something to people means a lot to me, but really, even if that wasn’t the case, I’ll still write. So, God willing, the future holds more books for me, such as the much-anticipated YA Sci-Fi Exospherica, but also, the future is a mystery and an adventure.