Part 3 - The King
Disclaimer: This is the final portion of a three part essay on King Liam’s character growth in The Royal Romance, titled “The Crown, The Flame and the King”. The first two parts dealt with his actions in the Finale in the context of Cordonia, and of his relationship with the MC, respectively. The final part explores the possibilities for his character and his subsequent role in the MC’s story. Do read Part 1 and 2 before proceeding to this point.
Book 1 and Book 2 of The Royal Romance will possibly deal with two vastly different aspects of the MC’s journey: her experience of Cordonia as a beautiful place where she is welcomed and loved and adored (if the player chooses as such) and a place that can prove itself to be just as sexist, cruel and judgemental as it is beautiful. It is a foregone conclusion that she will stay back in Cordonia and fight - she has proven herself to be a pretty fiesty woman over the course of the first book, and she has friends who will definitely have her back. What remains to be seen is who will be involved, and how they will help her.
While the MC has been established, time and again, as being a strong, fierce woman (eg. her ability to hold her own in court even as a newcomer, her cutting Tariq down to size after he forcibly kisses her, her attempts to berate Bertrand when he seems to be putting either her or Maxwell down), it will be difficult for her to win this battle on her own, especially in a country she doesn’t know a lot about. Cordonia is a beautiful country with a murky past and a royal court that “never lacked for mysteries”, and the second book will no doubt deal with the less desirable aspects of living there, the nuances of living in such a small monarchy, and probably a better glimpse of what the common man on the Cordonian street faces from day to day. This, in turn, will give the MC a deeper understanding of this place she had been living in for months, away from the insular, isolated world of the royal palace and nobility.
This is where her love interests and allies fit in. Granted, all of them except Drake are aristocrats, but each of them are now outcasts in their own way. Olivia now lives under a constant threat of being exposed as a daughter of traitors, Betrand and Maxwell are (possibly) going to be outed as broke and lose the little credibility they had left, and Hana herself came to Cordonia to escape a more humiliating past back home. Each of them will have an axe to grind with the nobility/press/court, and will come together to fight multiple enemies in their midst.
However, I feel the most significant contributions will be from the love interests - Hana, Liam, Drake and (possibly) Maxwell. A good example of how this is possible is the Rules of Engagement series. Like TRR, RoE book 1 ends on a disturbing cliffhanger, where the MC (let’s call her Katie) finds herself tricked into marriage with her ex-boyfriend, just after her chosen LI has professed his love to her. The second book immediately opens with each of the LIs offering help, and delivering admirably. William attempts to help her by setting up a meeting with his attorney in Napa, and while no concrete solutions come out of this meeting, Katie is at least aware of what her chances of getting an annulment are. Leo sets up an audience with the King and Queen of Cordonia, pleading Katie’s case so that Constantine can agree to voiding the contract. And while Dean’s plan does not directly affect Katie’s annulment, it definitely helps her with a future problem, that of getting her cousin Violet on their side rather than as their enemy. All three have very different, yet important, roles to play in helping Katie fulfill her Nana’s dream.
Hana, Drake and Maxwell are a foregone conclusion when it comes to who will help the MC, and here is what will make them useful allies:
Drake: As an eyewitness to what really happened in the MC’s bedroom at Applewood Manor, Drake’s presence is integral. He is also aware of the lack of a lock on her door, and if he chooses to tell someone about it in the next book, it would further help with investigations. I imagine he will also pose as a protector/bodyguard figure for her, aware that her humiliation might also put her in potential danger among the Cordonian public.
Maxwell: It is fitting that our first look of Book 2 features a scene with Maxwell. Besides being the MC’s sponsor and friend, he and his brother also consider her now to be family. As Bertrand maintained in the Finale, “you are a part of Beaumont House now. I will be damned if I let anything happen to you.” While the Beaumont brothers have their moments of being shady and secretive, they are now pillars of support for the MC, and will possibly use their connections to clear her name. Maxwell, in particular, has always been encouraging of everything the MC has done so far, and will continue to provide moral support.
Hana: Hana may have been called back home by her parents, but since her character growth involves being able to stand up to them and chart out her own path, it is even more possible now that she will refuse to leave Cordonia and stay back to help the MC. Hana has had experience of being the centre of a scandal (her failed engagement), as we can see here:
Given her troubled past and recent humiliation, Hana is good not only for moral support but as someone who can help the MC weather the storm of controversy, having been in the same boat (no pun there). In all probability she would be most useful in helping the MC rebuild her image.
You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned Liam in this list. Given the way the first book ended, one cannot be sure if Pixelberry will explicitly show him helping the MC or not. It is entirely possible that the second book might have very little of him, that he might be shown blaming the MC or not contributing in any way to clear her name. I would like to argue that if the book does go in this direction for Liam’s character, it would be wildly OOC given what we have seen of him already. To understand the likelihood of Liam getting involved in the MC’s fight for justice, we need to take another look at the Finale. This time, we will be looking at his reactions to suspicious events taking place during the ball.
The MC tells Liam about the threatening note passed to her just before they head back to the ball, and his instant reaction is shock, anger and an attempt to reassure her that they will investigate this further. He clearly sees this as something that should not be brushed aside.
The second suspicious occurrance of the night is Olivia’s departure. Olivia goes to Liam first to break the news of her withdrawal, and even though he wasn’t planning to choose her, his reaction is still one of shock and concern.
Liam’s shock emerges not from hearing that she is not marrying *him*, but because her reaction is so unlike the Olivia he knows. They have been friends since she was five, and he is aware that she maintains a tough, unbreakable facade to the world. To see her break and give up so quickly is not something he is used to seeing. From what these panels show, he can clearly sense something is wrong.
As we have already established in the second post, Liam has been very proactive when it came to helping the MC, even though a lot of it was behind the scenes. There is no reason why - once he has come out of the chaos and trauma of the night - he wouldn’t look back to these two instances at his Coronation ball and put two and two together.
As king, Liam has unlimited resources and personnel at his disposal and will be able to help by getting his men to investigate things that happened on his property. Applewood and the palace are places he has unlimited access to and he can get to the bottom of what really happened in both these places easier than any of her other allies can.
Also, given that the real traitors are safe inside the royal palace, Liam has a better chance of finding out what they’re upto and exposing them.
If Drake and Liam remain friends (as I sincerely hope they do. The other alternative is that Drake might fault him for not “doing anything”. If this does come up I hope they let us remind Drake that he once said “it’s probably nothing” on seeing the missing lock on the door!), Drake can provide information to Liam about the security breaches at Applewood Manor and give him his side of the story. In fact, had Drake taken the initiative to inform Liam earlier, nothing would have stopped him from investigating the matter further and when the accusations came up at the ball, Liam would have been prepared to defend the MC with irrefutable evidence that she had been framed.
We also need to remember what Liam himself told the MC during his proposal: “since I’ve met you, I worry about being worthy of you.” Book 1 was about the MC’s journey to Cordonia, and (if Liam is her LI) proving to the nation and the nobility that she can rule alongside him. Book 2 could very well be a role reversal, where Liam now finally gets to prove how supportive he is of her and how much he is willing to risk to be with her.
The fear among a number fans of TRR, however, is that Liam might not be shown to do any of this, and may possibly turn into someone who won’t believe the MC, may slut shame her, or worse still, not have anything to with her at all, only to return when her name is cleared. This will only serve to undermine the good that his character has brought about in the books, and goes completely against how he’s been depicted in the books so far and what other people have said about him (most of the people close to him - Drake, Maxwell, Olivia, Leo - speak highly of Liam in terms of his compassion, selflessness and loyalty). If Pixelberry does follow that route, it will be a complete waste of a hitherto well-built character.
We have already seen Liam express doubts about the way things happen in Cordonia, in book 1. When he starts to consider the social season burdensome. When he realizes that he has never really been out on the streets of Cordonia all that much. When he describes the events themselves as chaotic and potentially dangerous. The Coronation Ball may have probably given him a glimpse of how cruel and underhanded Court dealings can be.
Liam, in Book 2, has opportunities to explore these problems, as well as others, and bring about change. And helping the MC clear her name is a pretty good start. Considering he began as a stickler for rules, and considering the ways he’s been shown rethinking them over the months before his Coronation, Liam seems like he will become a completely different king from the ones that came before. As Drake tells the MC at the ruins: