It's now been close to three days that The Sintellyn Medallion has been in the forefront of my brainpan, stewing, turning, as I try to decide if there are enough patches outside of the realm of common tropes that it's worth rewriting.
The character interplay and central emotional conflicts, I adore. One of my favorite facets is the fact that a significant aspect of the threat to Tieruko is psychological ... to deal with his antagonist, he also has to deal with a terror that was instilled from childhood, and that's almost more important than being able to face her on a level of raw strength.
As far as romantic subplots, it's a downbeat book. The only one that turns out happy is more of a friendship-with-hints-of-more that occurs between the ex-assassin and the very alien non-human being mentioned in the previous post, and that's just a weird interaction. There is one, "Yes, I love you, but my devotion to the goddess comes first," and two unrequited loves. Just to twist the knife in further, one of those gets to marry the source of her infatuation, but it's only to save her life: he's very honest that he can't love her.
The main thing that bothers me is I've used death / black magic as my backstory antagonist ... even though later antagonists are in more unusual areas. Unfortunately, this just can't be changed because Shaiyan's whole story pivots around it. Worse, I hate the idea of undead, zombies, etc. They make me roll my eyes.
One of the ways I've thought of combatting this is adding a black magic user (heh) as a protagonist - as Mikane's "inside man" in the mage council. It's easy to justify him as still an apprentice: I'd already established that if a mage dies without a successor, the two nearest aspects train one until they're satisfied, and well, no one's quite willing to trust black yet ... he's already got a name, even, bizarrely - Nacaer.
And to deal with the potential of having zombies? Make reanimation really difficult / power-consuming. Limit it to psychological warfare - the only real advantage to doing it over just creating / recruiting something else is to freak the heck out of an opponent who sees their loved one coming towards them on the field. This fits with Shaiyan's backstory: she was a person of importance, so having her "on display" is just kind of a cruel coup.
But good grief! Why am I thinking about this when I have two novels in process and I know just how far I am from completing the draft? Why am I thinking about this when I have at least four other ideas, three of which would be easier to sell? My brain is a mystery, and I never know if I should give it free rein or discipline it.
And btw, people: you REIN IN tendencies. You do not REIGN IN unless you live there. (No one in particular, just a pet peeve.)