Luke R. J. Maynard is a writer, poet, scholar, lapsed medievalist, musician, lawyer, and wearer of many other hats in the arts & letters. He received his PhD in English Literature at the University of Victoria in 2013 and his JD at the University of Toronto in 2019. Luke currently lives in Toronto.

The Season of the Plough by Luke R. J. Maynard

The Prophecy was wrong. She was never the Chosen One.

Coming of age under the weight of an epic destiny wasn't easy. All Aewyn ever wanted for herself was a home and a family. But to the farmers of Widowvale, she was always destined for greatness. After all, she was a fae-blooded foundling of mysterious birth. Her story was the stuff of fairy-tales. And the villagers, all refugees from a looming civil war, were in desperate need of something to believe in.

But prophecies can be misread, and the men who call themselves wise are often mistaken. When a primordial darkness stirs in the deep wood, and Aewyn's dubious old mentor is sentenced to hang for treason, the supposed Chosen One must live or die by a choice of her own: Will she forsake her home and her new family for the dubious destiny she's been promised—or sacrifice it all for one chance to save them?



  • "What an impressive debut! I love The Season of the Plough. Characters that came alive and real the moment I met with them on the pages...this book often feels like a chronicle of a real place. Highly recommended."

    – Ed Greenwood, bestselling creator of The Forgotten Realms
  • "From J.R.R. Tolkien's Sire to Robert Jordan's Emond's Field, one of the things that defines the fantasy genre is its portrayals of cozy rural communities. Luke Maynard continues this tradition masterfully in The Season of the Plough…an intelligent and appealing book."

    – Thomas M. Kane, author of the Mara of the League series
  • "The attention to detail here is almost staggering…this promises to be a top-quality series."

    – Amazon Reviewer



A TRAIL OF HOT BLOOD dappled and cratered the virgin snow, etching a grisly path deep into the heart of the ancient wood. Still red and gleaming, it had been warm enough to dimple the smooth surface of the year's first squall when it fell. Robyn was the first of them to crest the hill, and she knelt so close to the poacher's tracks that she could smell the fresh blood beneath the chill of the air.

She put a gloved hand to her nose as she studied the marks. The smell of it called back a distant memory, threatening to lure her mind away to a place she did not want to go. It's only sheep's blood, she reminded herself. She grounded her restless thoughts in the sting of the wind, feeling it in her ears and the tops of her cheeks. The crisp snow crunched and squeaked beneath her boots as she rose to her feet.

"I have his trail," she called, but not too loudly. There was no use in alerting the quarry too soon. When it was clear the wind had drowned her out, she gripped her bladed spear low on its haft and brandished the weapon high overhead to signal the men below.

The wickedly barbed heads of three identical polearms shot up in answer, and the men advanced. The wind howled fiercely on the crest of the ridge, whipping at their faces as they came up out of the hill's shadow. Their cloaks of green and brown were patched against the cold with motley scraps of a dozen fabrics from a dozen lands, but few of those lands had ever faced the naked chill of a Haveïl winter: their colourful garments took the bite out of the gusting wind, but not much more.

Only twenty Havenari remained in Haveïl now, keeping watch over the border towns. Of those twenty, only four had scaled the nameless escarpment—and not the strongest four, either. Those square-jawed, brawny warriors who were still in the bloom of their youth had taken their horses up the Serpent Trail. Eager for action, glad as falcons to be uncaged at last, the strongest men had sped along the poacher's most likely route, fully mailed and spoiling for a fight, if a fight could be had.

For now, Robyn was pleased to be rid of them. Most of the Havenari were noisy men, Imperial veterans weighed down by the trappings and tools of war. Life in the Havenari was nobler than desertion and paid better than retirement, and so their ranks had often swelled with the old and cowardly—neither of whom ever seemed to last the winter. The three men at her back were too young, too old, too sick to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the big men of the vanguard—but here on the hunt, they moved with an easy grace and an altogether different cunning.

Her captain, Toren, was first up the hill behind her: he was no coward, and he was determined to prove he was a few winters yet from being old. His steps, while far from spry, were cautious and swift. His pitted coat of battle-worn Travalaithi chainmail was as much a part of him as his own skin, and he mounted the hill in silence where the younger men might have rustled and clanked fiercely on the ascent.

"Here," said Robyn, pointing to the blood. There were footprints, too, though a few minutes of gentle snow had started to fill them.

Toren frowned. "I thought for sure he'd have taken the trail with an animal that size."

"We'll lose the tracks if the snow picks up," Robyn urged.

Toren narrowed his steely eyes at the sky. "It's about to," he said—then, under his breath, "get your brother moving or we're leaving him for the others."

Robyn met his hard gaze for a moment, but bit her tongue and moved to the edge of the plateau. Bram was predictably struggling on the slope, crawling upward with both hands in the snowy earth. Young Tsúla, barely twenty summers old with the slight build of an Easterner, was shouldering Bram's pack and helping him over the top.

"Get up here," she barked. "We're losing him." She took Bram's arm in hers and tried to haul him up, but in those early days she was still lean and spindly, and he did not offer much help. Bram's hollow face was pale and frustrated as he found his footing. Tsúla, focusing quickly on the blood, was beaming with excitement.

"We've got him!" he whispered sharply. "Venser's going to be jealous."

"We haven't caught him yet," Robyn said. She clapped a hand on Bram's shoulder and met his wavering gaze.

"Bram," she pleaded. "Focus. We have a job to do."

"I…I don't want to fight," he pleaded.

She could not embrace him, not in front of the captain. But there was a firmness in her eyes.

"You won't have to," she said. "But we have to keep moving. How's your head?"

Bram shrugged. "No worse than most mornings. I just…this isn't how I start most mornings."

"Afternoons," Tsúla corrected him, patting him on the back without a hint of judgment. He bounded toward Toren, who knelt in the fading tracks trying to make sense of them.

"Thought he'd be dragging the sheep," said Toren. "He's carrying it. Big man."

Tsúla whistled low. "How big was the ewe?"

"Darmod says two hundred."

Tsúla looked up at the treeline, his dark eyes wide. "Big man," he agreed.

Toren stood up as the brother and sister approached. "You two ready to move?"

"We are," Robyn told him—but Toren didn't look convinced.

"I'll take point," he said. "If you lot have any dignity left, you'll keep up with me. At this rate, we'll be lucky to catch him before he's dyed and spun the wool for market." The pace Toren set, grunting and breathing hard in his armour, was meant to punish them—and maybe, she thought, to punish himself, for doing something as foolish as aging.

Bram took a moment to steady himself and took a deep breath. His tremors were quiet this morning, but there was an unsteadiness in him that only a sister could see.

"You ready?" she asked him.

"Come on," said Bram, and started off after Toren.

As they pushed deeper into the woods, the chimney-smoke coming up from Widowvale and the sound of the laughing river echoing up from Miller's Riffle were both lost to the wind. They passed away from all the places that had ever been named, into the oldest part of the forest.

"Stay close," Toren urged. His hand brushed the side of his neck absently, as it often did when he was nervous. "And keep that one quiet."

Robyn looked to Bram, who was doing all right for himself. He was moving swiftly and silently now, and seemed to pay Toren no mind, but still she fought the urge to say something in her brother's defense. Tsúla must have seen her set her jaw tightly with resentment, for he fell back from the captain and moved quietly to the young woman's side.

"He means well," Tsúla whispered.

"He's cruel," Robyn spat. "To both of us. To you, too. He's been like this for months."

Tsúla sighed. "It's getting colder. Could be his old wounds ache in the winter. I know mine do."

He pulled back his sleeve to expose the old scars that circled his wrist and forearm. In the cold, the marks stood out ghostly pale against his skin of burnished gold.

"You see these scars?"

Robyn nodded. "They're looking better this year."

"My scars will get a little better every year," said Tsúla. "His will get worse. They say he was ravaged by a Horror."

Robyn froze in her tracks for a moment. "Impossible," she whispered. "He's not old enough. The Siege of Shadow was eighty years ago."

"Sure," said Tsúla. "But no doubt some of the Horrors escaped. It was the Havenari who hunted down the last remnants and wiped them out."

Robyn shook her head. "I've never known the Havenari as anything but mercenaries. A militia for the border towns."

"Then you can imagine how unhappy this life makes him," said Tsúla.

"I can feel it," said Robyn. "You can feel it in the way he treats us. It's not fair, and there's no reason for it."

Tsúla put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I know what you're thinking," he said. "Don't do anything rash. Wait him out. Venser's likely to challenge him for First Spear next summer, soon as he's ready."

"When he's ready?"

"He reckons a captain of any sort, First Spear included, ought to be able to read and write. He's working on it."

"That's a long time to wait," Robyn said, frowning. "But he's a commander worth waiting for."

"He'll call us 'sorry rats,' quite often," Tsúla warned. "If you have no taste for criticism, he'll be no better." Ahead of them, Toren had stopped at the clearing's edge before disappearing into the thorns.

"Quit your chattering," he spat. "You're getting short-changed, Bram, to put up with a lovers' quarrel." He smirked at himself, then turned his back and kept up the climb, trying not to look fatigued.

"It's not the criticism," she said. "It's the disrespect. It's the way he makes us feel small."

"He's endured a lot," said Tsúla. "It's made him a difficult man."

She almost scoffed aloud. "I thought we came out here to get away from difficult men."

Tsúla rubbed his wrists in the cold. "We all came for different reasons, I think. Even Toren."

"He came," said Robyn, "because the Grand Army would've flogged him for bullying his own regiment." But Tsúla only smiled his thin smile and nodded in thought.

"Another season," he said. "Two seasons at most, and Venser will vie for command. He's got the support to win it, and he'll be a good sight more fair to everyone."

"I want to believe you," said Robyn. "I really do." She looked to Bram, who was breathing hard but keeping up.

"Let him fade out in his own time," Tsúla offered. "He was a great man, once. Let that go with him."

Robyn sighed. "Well, he's too much 'great man' for my tastes."

"Most men are," said Tsúla with a laugh. "Come on. Let's catch him that poacher."