Hmm - basic ideas - I'm a sucker for rescuing characters. Silly, but true. Half of my characters - hell, half of my favorite books have that motif.
Williams fits into that. He's in a bad situation, he gets rescued from said situation, and he moves on with his life.
I suppose I should start with the politics. Simplest way to explain it is that there are ten Peers in Dexia. Roland and Oliver are two of them. The important ones in Williams' case is a man called Yonathen Iglesias, and a man called Gerrioth Evanheart. They're on opposite sides of the two main factions of the Peers.
Gerrioth is a more progressive Peer. He's from an old family that got dirt poor thanks to a war and the loss of trade revenue. He married a rich woman for her money, but was at least honest to her about it. She started drinking, and one day it was discovered she was pregnant. The child, a son, was not Gerrioth's. Gerrioth was brownish blond haired, blue eyed, and his wife was blond haired and blue eyed. The son, Williams, had black hair and grey eyes.
Gerrioth, during his wife's pregnancy, started seeing a young innkeeper called Rainoka. He was horrified to discover that she too became pregnant. He offered to take care of the child, but she refused him out of pride. Her child was also a son, and she named him Trevor. Trevor looked much like his father. When Rainoka died of a fever and Trevor was two, Gerrioth adopted Trevor.
Now, Gerrioth had a dilemma. He had declared Williams as his heir. As Williams grew older and taller and as much unlike his "father" as could be, it was blatently obvious that Williams was not his son. Traditionally, the first son of the present Peer was declared the new Peer by popular vote. Williams was bookish, hated parties, and detested anything to do with politics. Trevor, despite his aura of almost naive sweetness, was a far better choice for a new Peer.
If Gerrioth said that Trevor was to be the new Peer, there was a high probability that his own faction would vote for Trevor, but the other side might vote for Williams (the legal heir) or someone else entirely. Gerrioth turned to Yonathen for help. Yonathen was on the opposing side politically, but was harmless in parties. Gerrioth offered some sort of deal where Yonathen could help teach the boys, and in return Yonathen would vote for Trevor.
Little did Gerrioth know, but Yonathen had plans of his own.
The AU was centered around killing a character early on, and then seeing how things shifted. I'll talk about it more later.
I'm tempted to go read the Heimskringla - or at least read more of it. Not sure why - something in early spring and the brand new green makes me think of snow and ravens. Last time I read the book I got as far as men killing each other with horse bridles, and I decided I should stop. I keep getting suckered back into it by looking over Diana Wynne Jones' books. I think in The Crown of Dalemark she mentions Heimskringla as a source.
Back to work - yes.