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The Gilded King is Book 1 of the Sovereign Trilogy.

Blurb[]

In the last city on Earth, death is just a step into the trees.

In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well.

Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, who believes in fairytales that her world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside.

But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained.

Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight.

One way or another, the walls of the Blue are going to come down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do.

Synopsis (Spoilers)[]

This section will contain detailed spoilers. Many characters in this series also appear in other Silverse books, so clicking any links may lead to spoilers not only for this book but also for other series - use caution!

The Gilded King alternates perspectives between Julia and Cam.

Julia is a Server, a human who works for the Nobles (aka the Silver) in a city called the Blue. Outside the city is the Red, a forested land which is filled with contamination (the humans of the Blue do not know of the existence of Weepers). Julia is working in the city when she and her friend Claudia see a procession of Candidates, humans who have been selected to become Nobles (though the process has a high risk of death). Claudia idolises the Nobles and has recently been selected to become an Attendant, serving a particular Noble rather than doing general work, but Julia is disillusioned with life in the Blue. Having been abandoned as a baby by parents who walked out into the Red, she longs for something more than servitude and wishes she could also escape to the Red, regardless of the unknown danger.

Claudia goes to meet Rufus, the noble she is to serve, but when she returns, she is scared and badly injured; Julia has to stitch up her neck where Rufus has bitten her. The next day, Claudia pretends that nothing is wrong. Livia, the Noble who runs the kitchen where they work, tells Julia that due to a shortage, she must become an Attendant for Lucas, a young Noble. Julia attempts to leave the Blue in secret, but sees a figure in the forest moving too quickly to see clearly; she becomes scared and decides to stay.

Cam has been searching the Red for Emmy, who has been lost for centuries, but has not been successful. He blames himself for her being missing and is extremely frustrated that he cannot find her. He returns to the Blue after a long search, and reunites with Viv and Tommy, other members of the Solis Invicti. They tell him that Viv is pregnant, a rare occurrence for the Silver, but the Silver population in general is in decline due to the Weeper vaccine contaminating the blood of the humans - if a Silver drinks from a vaccinated human, they become human. The Blue is the only place left where the humans are unvaccinated. They also hint that they think Cam should give up on his search for Emmy. Cam goes to see Laila, the Empress of the Blue, and she gives him directions to a settlement that Emmy may be in, though Cam points out that if he succeeds in finding Emmy, Laila will lose her role as Empress. Cam talks to Lorelei, who wants to find a way to reverse the vaccine and rebuild the Silver population, but Cam would rather become human, as he does not agree with hiding in the Blue. He leaves to follow up the lead, taking a bad-tempered horse called Hades.

Julia meets Lucas, who unlike Rufus, is kind and gentle. He takes Julia to his rooftop garden and makes her dinner; he refuses to stand on ceremony and asks her to call him Lucas, not "Master". He tells her he is something of a pariah among the Nobles and that he understands if she is disappointed to be assigned to him; she responds that she never wanted to be an Attendant at all. Lucas loses his temper at the unfairness and asks her to leave, without tasting her blood or completing the ritual to accept her as Attendant. Julia and Claudia compare experiences, with Claudia saying that Rufus drinks her blood briefly and the rest of the time she waits silently, which makes Julia even more confused about Lucas' kind behaviour. Julia finds out that a human boy, Quintus, is missing.

Cam begins to travel to the settlement. He recalls how he and Emmy had tried to stop a Silver from setting himself up as a god at Delphi to take advantage of a community of uncontaminated humans, but they had failed, leading to Emmy being missing. He comes across the remains of a fire filled with human bones and the ground around soaked in blood, plus signs of a caravan of travellers. As he travels, he finds more caravan tracks and camps, but no more blood. He arrives at a settlement of contaminated humans he has visited before, and stays the night with Ana and Vasile, the elderly leaders of the setttlement whom he has watched grow up. Vasile is sick and preparing to die. The humans have forgotten about the vaccine, but are contaminated by it through the meat they eat - during the Fall they used their contaminated blood to forcibly turn Silver human, but now they only know that they are safe.

Julia is nervously waiting for Lucas to summon her again, but after ten days she begins to feel like she has escaped becoming an attendant. Quintus is found dead in the Red, and a man named Marcus was found by his body; he is exiled to the Red as he is now contaminated. That evening, Julia is accosted by Rufus, who insults her and attempts to touch her, but Lucas arrives and claims her as his Attendant. He tells her he has been waiting for her to come back, and that he will have to mark her to claim her as his own and protect her from Rufus. Julia prepares to be bitten as Claudia was, but Lucas kisses her, explaining that kissing also leaves a scent mark that Nobles can perceive. She is now officially his Attendant. She asks if they will need to renew the mark, but he says that once is enough, making Julia feel like he doesn't want to kiss her. Later that night, Julia and Claudia see Marcus being thrown out of the city by the Solis Invicti, denying that he was ever in the Red.

Cam wakes up to find that Hades has been stolen by bandits; he recovers him quickly due to Hades' difficult behaviour. Thinking him human, the bandits warn him that there are vampires in the direction he is heading, and that they have been attacking in a caravan and leaving blood and bones behind. Cam comes across another camp, with the remains of six bone fires, though less blood. He finds an old, injured human hiding in a tree, who tells him that this is the result of what happens when these Silver find contaminated humans; he recognises Cam from years ago and says that Cam used to know these Silver. Cam can also smell someone else, who smells like nutmeg, but they are gone before he can find them. That night, he is woken up by a hand on his shoulder, which turns out to be the man from the tree, but Cam instinctively kills him before he realises; this causes him guilt for the rest of the book. The man had been bitten, but Cam does not know if this means he was uncontaminated or if there is a newly-human Silver nearby. He searches the man's bags and realises that he must have come from a settlement. He smells nutmeg again, and finds signs that another human has been watching him. He leaves quickly, taking the old man's horse.

As Cam travels he occasionally hears other Silver running alongside them, but as he only has a limited supply of blood he cannot confront them. He comes across a human camp, who recognise the horse and identify the man Cam killed. They confirm he was contaminated, and tell Cam that twenty years ago a group of Silver started riding through and taking all their sons, and that now they own the forest, leaving the humans to travel and camp. Cam leaves and while searching for firewood for the night, falls into a pit.

Julia has been spending time with Lucas, but he has not drunk her blood and he does not ask her to stay for dinner. She eventually tells him he shouldn't have accepted her as Attendant if he didn't want to, but he says he thought she didn't want it and only did it to protect her from Rufus, so was giving her time to adjust. She offers him her blood and he accepts, using a knife to make a small cut in her wrist; Julia is surprised to find it pleasurable and gets a little faint. Concerned for her, Lucas makes her dinner again. She tells him that Claudia is assigned to Rufus, and angrily says that Claudia believes in fairy tales if she expects Rufus to be kind. Lucas takes Julia to the temple, where they meet Alba, who raised him. He tells Julia that he is twenty years old, incredibly young for a Silver. He shows Julia Sol's body in the temple, which appears to be a gilded statue, telling her a fairy tale, which is a mythologised version of Sol and Emmy's history: the old King, who fell in love with a Server and silvered for her, creating a bond that tied their lifespans together. The Server was kidnapped and the King turned into a statue, sleeping until she returns. Julia says that as the Server was human, and this was hundreds of years ago, the King must be dead, but admits that the story is nice to believe in.

Cam wakes up in a treehouse and speaks to his captor, the human who smells like nutmeg, who introduces himself as Felix. Felix gives Cam a bottle of blood from Cam's pack to heal his injuries and explains he has set traps for hogs for food; he says that the Silver are always moving faster than humanly possible, which makes Cam realise they must have a ready supply of uncontaminated blood. Felix knows the settlement Cam is looking for, and says that the Silver keep uncontaminated humans in the jail there. He decides to travel with Cam; Cam wants to refuse as there are inconsistencies in his story, but lets him so that he can find out the truth about Felix. Felix reveals he has been following Cam for days and that he is also looking for someone dear to him, Otho; he wants Cam's help to rescue him. Cam is surprised by how much he enjoys Felix's company. They hear Weepers in the distance as they travel, and eventually find a clearing filled with corpses, where a vaccinated human has been tied to a stake by Silver to attract and cure Weepers; he is still alive, but so badly injured that Cam kills him out of mercy.

Julia and Lucas are making dinner together; they have grown closer and have been flirting, but he has not drunk her blood again. They overhear Carmen and Rufus fighting, but not the subject matter. When Julia returns home, Marcella is waiting to ask her and Claudia about Rufus and Lucas, as she tries to find a sponsor to nominate her to become Noble; it is clear to Marcella that Rufus is not a good master, but that Lucas is. Afterwards, Claudia demands Julia tell her about her developing relationship with Lucas, but Julia asks her about Rufus' violence to deflect the issue. Claudia downplays it and makes the excuse that Rufus has been injured, so needs more blood than usual. Julia confides in Claudia about the kiss and her feelings for Lucas. Claudia says that Lorelei visited Rufus, telling him there was a problem in the Red and he might be needed to sort it out. Lorelei also told Rufus there was a traitor and that the Invicti would realise soon, and mentioned something about humans in the Red that Claudia didn't hear. Julia asks Claudia to listen out for more, because if humans can survive in the Red, she wants to leave the Blue and take Claudia with her to get her away from Rufus.

Cam is thinking over the implications of the Weepers they found: there must have been a population of uncontaminated humans in order for them to have become Weepers, and also, there must be someone trying to make more Silver, as that is how the Weepers came to be originally. Cam also noticed that Felix was very careful to clean off all the Weeper blood, even though he couldn't know that it was dangerous to Cam, which seems suspicious to him. Cam asks if Felix has seen any Silver trying to turn humans, but he says they only bite to drink in the caravans, though they may be turning them in the settlement. They come across a village that Cam had visited before, which has been recently destroyed; Cam realises that the bones and blood he has found so far have been left to attract and neutralise Weepers. Felix asks Cam to tell him about the Fall; Cam is surprised he knows the term, but when he queries it, Felix changes the subject. The two have a charged moment of attraction. They confirm they will help each other with their rescue missions and clasp wrists; Cam is unsettled that Felix knows the Silver gesture. They find a hot spring and bathe, again having a charged moment. The next morning, they find a group of Weepers and Felix's horse spooks, throwing him. Cam uses the blood from Felix's head injury to neutralise the Weepers, and Felix identifies one of them as Otho.

Julia arrives at Lucas's garden and finds Marcella, who is trying to convince him to sponsor her. When she leaves, Lucas is confused and disappointed that Julia has set Marcella's sights on him. He does not drink from her for several days, so Julia decides to confront him, but on the way to his place, she overhears Rufus and Lorelei discussing something; Lorelei says that Carmen remains loyal and won't join them, and that she has given Rufus a month for something but he has not produced results. He mentions someone named Priscilla, and Lorelei tells him to stay away from the Invicti. Rufus says that Lucas had asked him about Marcus. It becomes clear that Lorelei has promised her body when Rufus achieves her goal. Lucas comes to find Julia, ending her eavesdropping, and she offers him her blood; they almost kiss before he bites her earlobe and gives her one of his earrings as a sign of his protection. The next day Marcella reveals that Lucas has agreed to sponsor her; Marcella and Julia spend the day together, and they see a Noble baby undergoing its naming ceremony, which involves cutting its palm. Marcella reveals she is frightened of dying during the Nomination.

Cam and Felix bury Otho, and Felix is consumed by guilt. Cam asks him how he met Otho, and he says it was in Charlestown, where Felix was assigned to hunt for food. Cam realises Charlestown is run by Charles, the Silver who took Emmy. He tells Felix that now they've found Otho, he doesn't need to stay with him, but Felix now wants revenge on Charles. They try to shelter in the mountains but find a cave full of corpses and signs Weepers have been there. They flee, both riding Hades due to the terrain; they discuss Emmy and Felix once again seems to know too much about Silver life. They reach Charlestown but Cam is too exhausted to fight his way in, so they watch for a way to sneak in. They see the caravan arrive, and among the Silver and uncontaminated humans is Carmen, who has turned traitor.

On the day of the Nomination, Julia and Claudia discuss Julia's plan to escape the Blue, and Claudia expresses concern that it is unrealistic. They have an awkward conversation with Lucas, who makes it clear things will change once he is sponsoring Marcella. Later, they overhear Lorelei telling an unidentified male Silver to "keep him secure in the Red until it's time", but before they can work out what this means, they are escorted by Rufus to the Nomination ceremony. Rufus insists Julia sit with him in his box and questions her about Lucas' searring. The Silver begin to claim their chosen Candidates, but when Lucas claims Marcella, Rufus makes a counter-claim, saying that Lucas has already chosen Julia by marking her with silver via the earring. Rufus's claim is granted. Before the ceremony can be completed, there is a commotion caused by a Silver moving too fast to see; when the crowd calms, Julia sees that there are six bodies left on the dais and a message reading 'Make no more Silver".

Cam now knows that the Silver in Charlestown are trying to turn humans Silver, and making Weepers instead. They are keeping uncontaminated humans in a cellar, which is where Felix thinks they will be keeping Emmy incapacitated. Both Cam and Felix will be recognised if they try to enter the town openly, so they decide to sneak into the cellar to find Cam some blood to get stronger; the town is empty and there is a Weeper in the streets. In the cellar, Cam finds some bottled blood, but a small boy tells him that his mother says not to drink it, and that the 'sleepy lady' isn't there. The boy points him to some blood that is safe to drink; Cam can smell the difference. Cam and Felix are discovered by Silver whom Cam sprays with the contaminated blood, turning them human. In the cells in the cellar, Cam finds Chloe, a Silver he knew before the Fall, who is now human; she is the mother of the little boy, Alex, who is still Silver. There are several ex-Silver women in her cell. They free everyone and Chloe lets the uncontaminated humans drink from her to protect them from Silver and Weepers alike. Felix disappears without any sign of a struggle.

In the Blue, all the humans are feeling confused and scared. Julia does not know what will happen now that Lucas has claimed her. He comes to find her in the kitchen she works in and they go to his place. He reveals that Rufus is Laila's son, and Julia tells him what she overheard between Rufus and Lorelei. They discuss Lucas's claim on Julia, and he says he is not unhappy that things worked out this way; they kiss and spend the night together in the garden. Lucas offers to try to find a way out of the Blue for Julia, but she refuses to leave the other humans. Lucas reveals that like Julia, he was abandoned by his parents, which is unusual as Silver babies are rare and cherished. Later that night, Julia wakes up and sees someone talking to Rufus and then dragging a large sack away from Rufus's flat.

Cam hunts for Felix, and overhears him talking to two Silver, who are beating him up. He accuses them of turning Otho into a Weeper, and they say that it is Felix's fault for leaving him behind. Cam attacks the Silver, one of whom is Richard, one of Charles's cronies; Felix wipes blood on him, turning him human so he cannot recover from the injuries Cam inflicted. Cam and Felix leave the town to find Chloe, but Felix passes out from his injuries. Weepers attack, and both Cam and Felix are badly bitten; Alex is turned human while defending Chloe. Chloe tells Cam that Charles had been trying to create new Silver to set up a society like the Blue, but made a lot of Weepers, who followed them to their new settlement. Charles, now human, left, taking Emmy, because she has the Primus' blood in her veins; he had initially kidnapped her to take down Sol, but when tried to make Emmy human, contaminated blood had no effect on her. He is now trying to make Emmy silver for him so that she can turn him back Silver. Felix finally wakes up.

Lucas has tracked the person with the sack, and reports to Julia that it contained the body of a man he didn't recognise, dumped in the Red. Rufus claims this was Paulus, an old Server of his family. Marcella tells Julia to be more careful with how she deals with the Nobles. Julia spies on Rufus talking to someone; he gives Rufus a set of vials, telling him to keep enough for all his humans as a matter of life or death, but not to drink from his Attendant if he gives it to her. They discuss that something will happen that night. Julia returns to the kitchen but finds it empty; Alba arrives and takes her up to Livia's apartment, telling Julia that Laila has called all her previous personal Attendants to the palace for protection, and Livia has taken the kitchen girls with her. Julia tells Alba about the vials. Claudia arrives back at the kitchen and confirms Rufus has not given her anything. The three of them bundle up supplies for the evening. Alba explains that there had previously been a rebellion among the Nobles and the humans had had to hide for a month. They head to Lucas's apartment to hide, but are attacked by a Weeper - Marcus.

Felix is weak but insists on coming with Cam to track Charles and find Emmy; Cam will have to carry him. Cam gives Hades to Alex and directs Chloe to Ana and Vasile's town. Cam and Felix find a deliberate trail of Silver blood and follow it to a cave; inside Cam finds Emmy's scent, but also the scents of more Silver than he can fight alone, possibly hundreds. He overhears two Silver boys chatting, and hears them say that this time next month, they expect to be in the Blue. Cam decides to leave Emmy for now and head back to the Blue to warn them; he worries that he does not have enough blood to make it back in time. Felix points out that the caravans function as supply stations so that the Charlestown Silver can refuel on their journey, so they travel back via that route. At the first caravan, they see several Silver and while looking for blood, see Tiberius, a member of the Solis Invicti who tells the Silver that Laila is annoyed that Cam is still alive, and that they should have done a better job of stopping him; Cam is horrified at the thought that the Solis Invicti have betrayed him. There is no bottled blood to be found so Cam snatches one of the humans from the camp, but struggles to drink from him; Felix uses a needle to fill a bottle from the human, then contaminates him to protect him, and they send him on to Ana and Vasile's town. They arrive back at the Blue, but Felix waits in the forest because he is a contaminated human; he kisses Cam goodbye.

Julia and Claudia run from the Weepers, and take shelter in Lucas's rooftop garden. Lucas drinks Julia's blood so he can fight the Weepers, which are swarming the garden. Cam finds the city full of Weepers as none of the humans in the Blue were vaccinated. He reunites with Lorelei and her team of Invicti, who are incapacitating Weepers, but have no contaminated blood to cure them; Cam returns to Felix to get blood to use. Julia and Claudia are trying to help Lucas fight off the Weepers in the garden; Lorelei and four Invicti arrive to help. They all watch as Cam uses Felix's blood to cure the Weepers in a chain reaction of contamination.

Cam confronts Laila. She reveals that she has known all along where Emmy was, before Charles took her away from Charlestown. She saw Emmy be contaminated with vaccinated blood at Delphi, but that Emmy didn't turn human; she wants to try to pass this immunity on to other Silver so that they can drink from contaminated humans. Laila tells Cam about the vials that Rufus had, which contained contaminated blood to vaccinate some of the humans; she did not notice her Attendants had been vaccinated and drank from them, becoming human. Cam returns to the Solis Invicti headquarters, where he confronts Tommy about Tiberius and Carmen turning traitor and Laila using the Invicti to try to kill Cam; Tommy did not know, and kicks out anyone who did. Cam tells Tommy he has found Emmy, and they begin to plan to get her back. Tommy promotes Lorelei to Tertius to look after the Blue while he travels with Cam.

Julia, Claudia and Lucas return to the kitchen to wait while they work out what to do next. Rufus visits Claudia to check she is safe; Julia is still sceptical that he didn't have anything to do with the Weepers. Claudia goes to bed and Julia and Lucas share an intimate moment; Julia notices that Lucas is able to hide the silver in his eyes for the first time. He is now planning to go into the Red.

Cam visits Sol's body in the temple and leaves a piece of material with Emmy's scent on Sol's chest.

Lorelei visits Felix in the forest and tells him off for letting Cam find Emmy. She warns him that he'd better not let Cam rescue her. Felix refuses to help Lorelei, until she tells him that they are close to being able to make him Silver again.

Charles discusses Emmy with a doctor, who tells him that Emmy's blood is too weak from being kept asleep. The doctor says they need 'the child'. Charles orders him to wake Emmy up.

In the Temple, the gilding covering Sol's body disappears. Sol opens his eyes.

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