Thursday, August 2, 2012

Royal Flush, a novel by Scott Bartlett

Hello there, readers of Randy Hunt’s Politics & Humor Blog. We interrupt your regular programming to bring you me—Scott Bartlett, here on the blog tour for my humour novel Royal Flush.

Royal Flush is a book that asks the question: can a man who throws his dates in a dungeon succeed romantically?

The main character is known only as the King, and as his Kingdom careens toward catastrophe, he cruises seedy taverns looking for likely maidens. At one point his castle is besieged, and he must defend it with only his royal fiddler, while trying to steal his royal fiddler's girlfriend.

You may be wondering what a book that’s apparently about dating has to do with politics. First of all, the book isn’t really about dating. And second, the main character, the King, is a man whose absolute power is matched only by his utter incompetence.

So I thought it might be of interest to talk about the disadvantages to society associated with any one person having that much power—specifically, how these disadvantages play out in the society that is the Kingdom.

Between having his subjects executed on a whim and keeping his mother in his dungeon, the King is morally bankrupt. He’s the kind of ruler with whom an uncensored, unbridled media outlet would have numerous field days.

The Kingdom Crier is one such media outlet, and so, of course, the King wants to silence it as quickly as possible. He takes the simple measure of ordering its entire staff executed. The Crier operates more like a tabloid than a newspaper, however, and so it has the support of nearly all the King’s subjects, who stage mass protests until the King rescinds the order.

Though he is the final authority on all matters in the Kingdom, the King is lazy, and more interested in drinking and women than he is in upkeep and maintenance. As a result, the city reeks constantly (poor sewer drainage) and his castle remains in an advanced state of disrepair.

Personal rights are pretty much non-existent, since any royal subject can at any time be imprisoned, simply for “abusing the King’s patience rather than any actual laws.” This lends itself to an unstable economy, too. Merely by annoying the King, business owners can expect to have to uproot their establishment and flee to another kingdom. This is what happens in the very first scene, to the Kingdom’s only glassblower, when the King places an impossible order: for a glass heart that will break only when held by a particular maiden.

Royal successions have nothing to do with skill or competence—only blood ties. This is parodied in Royal Flush when the King’s predecessor (of no relation to him) dies:

“The King leaped up to join the struggle for the throne—to find he was the only one standing. No one else wanted the job. Even the former monarch’s sons expressed no interest, instead choosing to take up horseshoeing in a village ten leagues to the west. The King became the King by default.”

The disproportionate power the King wields unravels society’s very fabric, since it attracts the attention of those who would seize it. Indeed, a coup is attempted in the third part of the novel, and it sets the King on a path that offers him a view from the other side of power.

Does it change him? You’ll have to read and find out!

Scott Bartlett has been writing fiction since he was fifteen. His recently released novel, Royal Flush, is a recipient of the H. R. (Bill) Percy Prize. Click here to buy the ebook ($3.99) or to order the print book ($12.99).

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