Thus far, the exploration of Dryth has occurred largely within the nation of Sheng Fan. The series begins with Xu Liang's quest outside of the borders of the Empire, in search of weapons of power to strengthen the Song Dynasty against the rise of Chaos. The Celestial Empire books center around Xu Liang, whose goal is to help preserve the Song, a family whose future rests on a young woman risen to power prematurely. It is during Song Da Xiao's rule that the Empire will face some of its greatest challenges. Song Da Xiao's influence is not as strong as her father's, and at times it seems to fall within the shadow of Xu Liang's. This creates an uneasy atmosphere for Xu Liang, who, as Imperial Tactician and sworn brother to the Empress, strives only to serve and support the Song. He is forced to perform a political balancing act, one which is challenged all the more with the inclusion of warriors from outside of Sheng Fan.
The bearers of the Celestial Swords were a previously unconsidered element in the equation. While abroad, Xu Liang discovered that more than one of the Blades was in the possession of western people, people whom the gods may have intended to wield the weapons. With Sheng Fan's climate being one of self-reliance and the broad rejection of outsiders, bringing the Swords into the Empire seemed to come with the choice of defying the gods by attempting to take the weapons from their bearers or defying his culture by inviting foreigners into Sheng Fan. Also a mystic, Xu Liang is sensitive to the culture of the gods, after which their own culture is modeled. Ultimately, he would challenge the people of Sheng Fan rather than contest the will of the gods.
The tumultuous political atmosphere in Sheng Fan is one of many battlefields that Xu Liang has and will continue to face. The overshadowing threat is, of course, the rise of Chaos. Is it the dragon from Sheng Fan's creation stories? Is it the spreading fires of rebellion? Xu Liang dedicates himself to preparing for and acting against both options. His actions will help to determine the future of the Empire of Sheng Fan, the fate of which will ultimately affect the fate of all Dryth.
Xu Liang's story is one thread of several, weaving the greater tapestry that is the Dryth Chronicles.
Books one through three are out now. Watch for book four in early 2017.