It’s no secret that I’m a hardcore fanenby for K.D. Edwards’ Tarot Sequence series, and I am INCANDESCENT with delight to be a part of the cover reveal for book three – the last book of the first trilogy in the sequence – The Hourglass Throne!
BEHOLD!The Hourglass Throne by K.D. Edwards
Genres: Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Representation: Gay MC, bi/pansexual love interest, M/M, asexual secondary character, nonbinary secondary character, queernorm world
Published on: 17th May 2022
As Rune Saint John grapples with the challenges of assuming the Sun Throne, a powerful barrier appears around New Atlantis’s famed rejuvenation center. But who could have created such formidable magic . . . what do they want from the immortality clinic . . . and what remains of the dozens trapped inside?
Though Rune and his lifelong bodyguard Brand are tasked with investigating the mysterious barrier, Rune is also busy settling into his new life at court. Claiming his father’s throne has irrevocably thrown him into the precarious world of political deception, and he must secure relationships with newfound allies in time to keep his growing found family safe. His relationship with his lover, Addam Saint Nicholas, raises additional political complications they must navigate. But he and Brand soon discover that the power behind the barrier holds a much more insidious, far-reaching threat to his family, to his people, and to the world.
Now, the rulers of New Atlantis must confront an enemy both new and ancient as the flow of time itself is drawn into the conflict. And as Rune finds himself inexorably drawn back to the fall of his father’s court and his own torture at the hands of masked conspirators, the secrets that he has long guarded will be dragged into the light—changing the Sun Throne, and New Atlantis, forever.
The climax of the first trilogy in the nine-book Tarot Sequence, The Hourglass Throne delivers epic urban fantasy that blends humor, fast-paced action, and political intrigue.
Preorder The Hourglass Throne now!
Micah Epstein has DONE IT AGAIN! Good gods, just look at it! I’ve been staring at it for days and I’m still not tired of it!
It makes my eyes happy. It makes my eyes SO HAPPY!
So freaking happy that I ended up writing a mini-thesis for you on all the amazing symbolism in this masterpiece (or at least, all the symbolism I could find! Feel free to share your own thoughts and theories in the comments!), then using all three covers in this trilogy as cards for a tarot reading. I HOPE YOU ENJOY BOTH!
But hey, if you don’t??? Just scroll back up and feast your eyes on the beautiful cover again 8DDD
:I have not talked about this with Micah Epstein or KD Edwards; any and all thoughts and speculation are purely my own!:
The lore of the Tarot Sequence states that the tarot deck humans use for divination was inspired by the Arcanum.
So I’m going to read this cover like it’s a tarot card.
Because it kind of is, isn’t it? Each book of the first trilogy is named after a tarot card – the Sun, the Hanged Man, the Hourglass (which isn’t a card in human decks, but only because humans didn’t know about it. If they had, it would be. Which makes it an honorary tarot card, a tarot card that could have been, would have been) – so let’s look at it like a tarot spread. A reading.
(Pun unintended, but very much embraced.)
So what does this cover – this card – tell us?
The hourglass here stands for more than a literal representation of the (fallen and dismantled) Hourglass Throne. It also serves as a countdown, a reminder that capital-t Things are coming to a head (or an end). This trilogy has been building and building to a climax, and this is it. Here it comes. The sand is almost all at the bottom of the hourglass. Time is running out.
(But whose? Rune’s? The reader’s? New Atlantis’? Or is the clock chiming for the nameless, faceless Someones who destroyed the Sun Court? Are they finally to be dragged into the open?
No way to tell.)
But the hourglass, despite its size, its brilliance and grandeur – despite all that, it does not dominate the image. It is squarely the background of this card, not its focus. Instead, every element bends towards Rune; the wings of angels frame him, shield him, curve around him in what could be protectiveness or devotion or both.
(Note the two angels that are pressed against the lower half of the hourglass, as if to brace against it or contain it; they stand between the glass and Rune, shielding him. Could they represent specific individuals, or are they metaphors for the stronger position Rune has now, the influence and power and allies that will help shield him in the case of any new disaster?)
The curve of wings around Lord Sun brings to mind the idea of planetary orbits around the literal sun; the same circling, the same sense of great and beautiful things revolving around the great, bright thing whose gravity has drawn them, that has become their heart.
And a solar system is what Rune has built – or gathered, or found gathering around him – over the course of these books. Max; Ciaran; Addam; Quinn; Corinne; Anna; Corbie; Layne; Lady Death; all of them are a part of his circle now. Even his relationship with Lord Tower, who stood as Rune’s patron/mentor in The Last Sun, has deepened; now Lord Tower comes to barbecues and plays babysitter for Rune’s kids, invitations he probably wouldn’t have accepted at the start of the series if Rune had dared to make them.
So although Rune is alone in this card, the imagery evokes his family and allies, a reminder and a promise that he is not alone at all.
But let’s focus on Rune himself now.
It’s significant that, no matter how imposing and gilded it is, Rune has his back to the hourglass. If there is a countdown, he’s ignoring it; his expression says that he’s focussed inward, thinking about something important – something more important than the great gaudy thing behind him. Whatever great power is trying to impose a time limit on him, it’s one whose authority he does not recognise. He will not be rushed, or forced, or play to anyone else’s script. The hourglass can run as it pleases; it can’t make him run. He has turned his back on it; he is not afraid of it.
(This might also symbolise his turning his back on tradition; perhaps more than any other Court, the Hourglass Throne elicits the aura of Old Atlantis. Every other Arcana has had to adapt at least somewhat to the modern world, but the Hourglass Throne ceased to exist long before the creation of New Atlantis. Symbolically, it embodies Old Atlantis, and Old Atlantean ways of thinking. So for Rune to turn his back to an hourglass may mean also turning his back on what it stands for.
Rune has always been an unconventional Scion, viewing his power as a responsibility and not a right; he cares about civilian casualties that don’t even register to other Arcana, considers it a Scion’s duty to stand between danger and those who can’t defend themselves, and takes under his aegis anyone who seeks shelter there, regardless of whether or not he gains by it. I think it’s fair to say that he isn’t interested in this is how it’s always been. Which was significant when he was just a Scion, but has the potential to make enormous waves now that he’s a sitting Arcana.)
(And if the hourglass, in any part, represents the Atlantean old school? Look closely. There are cracks in the glass. Perhaps the old ways of doing things are already fracturing under the pressure.)
Rune appears older and more weathered in this image than he did on the previous two ‘cards’; he’s been through a lot, and it shows, but he’s still here. It’s also significant that, although Rune has been shown wearing his ring-sigils in every ‘card’ so far, this is the first time we’ve seen his two most emotionally meaningful sigils; his ankh, one of his very first sigils (and probably the first of the ones he currently claims) and the platinum disc given to him by Quinn. His past and his present (and arguably his future, since the disc was a gift from a prophet); a sigil from his first family (the seneschal of the old Sun Court) alongside a sigil from his newfound, newmade family. His strength comes from caring, and the people he cares about, and who care about him. That’s been clear from day one, but now we see it manifest.
This is the first card in which Rune is not making a threat display; in the Sun card, his Aspect is rising, and in the Hanged Man card, his sabre is in its weapon form, still glowing with heat. Here, he is seated. Contemplative. He has his sigils, but isn’t in the process of using them, and there’s no sign of his Aspect or sabre. He is ready to fight if necessary – again, he has his sigils – but he looks like a man who’s been through the wars, and isn’t looking for another one. He’s never been hot-headed, has never gone looking for fights or failed to acknowledge (and been at ease with) when he’s not the scariest person in the room…but perhaps he’s warier of conflict than he ever has been before. He has more to protect now, and more to lose. More people he loves who can’t protect themselves the way Brand can (the only other person to have appeared on one of Rune’s cards, so far).
Perhaps we could say that he is ready to defend, but not looking to attack.
Another thought, which does not necessarily contradict the previous one; Rune may not be making a threat display…because he no longer needs to. The purpose of a threat display is to warn a potential opponent that attacking would be a bad idea – but that is only necessary when your opponent doesn’t already know that. Rune Sun is now Lord Sun, the Sun of Atlantis. Those who weren’t smart enough to realise how dangerous he was in The Last Sun have no excuse not to know better now. There is no more need for warnings, for threats; Rune is the threat.
“I am not in danger; I am the danger.”Breaking Bad
He is thinking hard. Ignoring the hourglass behind him, he lets sand of his own fall through his fingers. Time lost? Or time spent, well-spent, in building him the life he has now? Perhaps it’s a rejection of what the hourglass represents; what others have gathered and contained within the gilded edifice of the hourglass, Rune lets slip away. The sand could be time, or Atlantean tradition or custom, or even, given its colour and the light it seems to emit, gold dust or magical power given physical form. It could be all or none of these; whichever it is, it’s something Rune either doesn’t value, or doesn’t value as much as what it might cost him. Time, tradition, riches, power – they all matter. That might be why he looks pensive – they matter, and he has been without them all, and knows what they’re worth; it must hurt to deliberately let them go. But they don’t matter as much as love, family, doing what’s right.
The sand glows. Rune sits in shadow, letting the light in his hand fall away.
He doesn’t need it. He has his own. When push comes to shove and his Aspect rises, he is, literally, his own light.
Both releasing the sand and his lack of a threat-display speak of an inner confidence, a certainty and self-assuredness. He knows who and what he is, what his values are, who his family and allies are, what he needs and what he is capable of. That was true in earlier cards too – he’s always known who and what he is, what he can and can’t do. But he’s more than he was in The Last Sun. He can do more than he could in The Hanged Man. He’s grown, and he knows it.
(But does he know the glass is cracking? If it doesn’t represent Atlantean tradition – or even if it does – does he know that it’s close to breaking, and unleashing what’s inside? He’s directly in the path of anything that breaks free and surges out. If he doesn’t know – if he doesn’t see, or isn’t watching – it might fall on him. It might sweep him away.)
Angels are both guardians and warriors, and that’s how Rune has defined himself from the first. Here, angelic statues gather around him; two of them are even looking down, as if watching over him – but also as if they’re waiting to see what he will do.
(Could they, too, represent actual individuals? Who could they be, protecting and watching?)
They know, like we know, that whatever it is? It’s going to be mythic.
And on a lighter note…
The angels gathered around Rune delight me not just because they’re beautiful, but because they make manifest a line in one of my favourite songs, a song that’s made me think of Rune and his story from the very first time I heard it;
Angels sing their songs
They call me out by name
Angels fall, their songs are all that’s left to sing
Faces on the walls are watching over me
A three-card spread: the Sun, the Hanged Man, and the Hourglass. Moving from the bright light of the Sun, through to the shadows of the Hourglass. And yet, there is still light. The painful position of being strung upside-down in the Hanged Man was escaped, and there are angels gathered ’round. This is not a descent into darkness, but a distillation, becoming more potent and more true as we move from left to right. A spreading of wings.
The Sun is a card of light and joy; the light at the end of the tunnel, and the inner strength we all have inside. In a reading, the Sun is often a reminder of that inner fire, and a call to connect to it and embrace it. This matches the themes of The Last Sun perfectly, because the events of that book are Rune’s wake-up call; the relatively quiet, normal-ish life he’s created for himself was all well and good, but now it’s time to get his destiny back on track. It’s time to remember – and reclaim – who he is; his bloodline, his heritage, his power. To quote Biddy Tarot, the clearest go-to site when it comes to card meanings;
You have what others want and are being asked to radiate your energy and your gifts out into the world in a big way. Tap into your power and use your Divine will to express that power in positive ways.
I think everyone who’s read it can agree that Rune more than does that in The Last Sun.
The Hanged Man
The Hanged Man of the tarot stands for surrender to truth, change, and fate; it represents a time of change – changes that cannot be denied – and an instruction to let go of the things that have been holding you back. It’s time to shift perspective and shift gears; your old way of life is ending, and it’s time to let it go. It’s time to start – or get back to – your life’s purpose.
I’d say that’s pretty spot-on for Rune’s story in The Hanged Man, wouldn’t you?
I have no guidebook that contains an entry on the Hourglass as a card; even Biddy Tarot lets me down. But I’m an intuitive tarot reader, and I’ve spent days analysing the symbolism of this card, so here goes nothing.
The Hourglass represents external change from an unexpected direction; a time when the inner strength developed and honed in the previous cards is put to the test. Pressure that has been building is now released, and the fallout may be devastating. In deciding what you can and cannot, will and will not do or allow, you must draw the line and hold it. But you will not be alone when you do so. All the resources you have gathered – physical and fiscal, mental and emotional, romantic and platonic and familial – over the course of your journey are with you.
What you have gone through has not broken you; it has distilled you. You are more yourself than you have ever been. You are great enough to face this and win.
You have been through the crucible, and you are still burning. For what crucible can snuff out a Sun?
Ultimately, remember this: once an hourglass runs out, you flip it over. It starts again. This is an end, but it is not the end.
Not even close.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
K.D. lives and writes in North Carolina but has spent time in Massachusetts, Maine, Colorado, New Hampshire, Montana, and Washington. (Common theme until NC: Snow. So, so much snow)
Mercifully short careers in food service, interactive television, corporate banking, retail management, and bariatric furniture has led to a much less short career in Higher Education.
The first book in his urban fantasy series The Tarot Sequence, called The Last Sun, was published by Pyr in June 2018. The third installment, The Hourglass Throne, is expected May 17 2022.