The Story behind ‘Kings or Pawns,’ by J.J. Sherwood

KingsorPawnscoverSMmThe Steps of Power series really started its formation when I was a child. I remember when I was seven years old, creating the beginnings of the man who would eventually become a primary protagonist in The Warriors series of Steps of Power. And since that time, ideas continued to rush to me.

By the time I was a teenager I had 27 books and titles prepared for the series. By the time I grew up and finished college—or did I finish college and then grow up?—I had rounded out a lot of my childhood aspirations into an adult-geared high fantasy series. I had grown up on a lot of Dragonlance, and like so many readers in the fantasy genre, I came to the point where I craved an adult fantasy novel, something a step further down the path of mature themes and characters. I wrote two of the series’ novels before I really settled on where I wanted to begin. It took my grandma threatening me with, “I’ll be dead and never get to read any of your novels” before I really cracked down and decided where to start!

And that’s where The Kings comes in. Kings or Pawns is the first novel in the Steps of Power series, and one of the four novels in The Kings part of the series. I chose it because it was excellent middle ground for entering the world—easy to begin world-building without overwhelming the reader. This was particularly important to me as my target audience is not limited to fantasy readers. And I can hardly complain about the characters that offered such a variety of points of view—a mute-servant girl, a cynical general, a naïve king, an old and arrogant hero… Characters that were both understandable, entertaining, and relatable. And several of my personal favorite characters jump into the series in the second novel!

I wanted readers to open the book and be whisked away into a new world and new adventure. Kings or Pawns is exactly that.


Title: Kings or Pawns (Steps of Power, The Kings: Book I)

Genre: Fantasy

Author: J.J. Sherwood


Publisher: Silver Helm

Purchase at Amazon

About the Book:

Kings or Pawns is the first novel in the Steps of Power series. It takes place after two very significant events in the world—the continental division between the human and elven races after the betrayal and death of Aersadore’s hero, Eraydon, and the recent Royal Schism that has left the elven nation’s politics even more corrupted than was prior. The new elven king, Hairem, is determined to overcome the council’s corruption and restore the elven lands, but he has far more to contend with than just the politics within the capital: an assassin has begun killing those loyal to him, a rebelling warlord threatens the city from without, and an unknown beast devastates the king’s forces at every turn. There are multiple points of view—the youthful and naïve king Hairem; the mute and spunky servant girl, Alvena; the mysterious and arrogant foreigner, Sellemar; and the cynical, dry-humored General Jikun.


About the Author:

JJ. Sherwood was born in Tucson, Arizona on New Year’s Eve—and has always had a flair for the dramatics. JJ began writing in kindergarten and her first work was completed by the age of 5: a riveting tale of a duck attempting to climb into an apartment during the pouring rain.

Unfortunately this book is not in print, but it served as the first spark that spurred on a lifetime of creativity. JJ continued writing throughout her school years and escaped the horrors of short-story writing in college, ready and eager to write meaty, character-driven novels. With over 250 well-rounded characters developed from her nearly 20 years of roleplaying, JJ dove straight into the rich history of Aersadore, ready to let her puppeteers pull her creative strings.

JJ lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her spouse, parrot, bearded dragon, and four cats who look far too similar.






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