Cornerstone: The King is a historical fiction and fantasy novel written by American author Michael Paul. The story primarily follows a carpenter named Jeremiah as he comes of age in the Kingdom of Witen between 1192-1998. The plot is told from third-person viewpoints of three different characters. Pitched as Lord of the Rings meets medieval love story, Cornerstone: The King is the first book in a planned trilogy.
Though Jeremiah found the powerful stone, his heart feels empty, and he longs to fill it with a woman’s love and knowledge of his birth parents. He won’t find purpose until he joins a quest to return the stone to its original home with an unlikely group of characters: his spiritual father named Padre, a giant, a fellow escaped prisoner, and a beautiful, mysterious, independent woman named Jameela who captures his attention and forces him to forget about his past rejections. Chased by two bands, one known and the other a mystery, Jeremiah and companions evade the relic seekers until Jameela is confronted by a decision to choose between love or freedom.
This is a story of loss and grief and how the many shapes of love—paternal, brotherly, and romantic—train Jeremiah to defeat his demons, and rescue Jameela from her captor with assistance from trolls and a sword-fighting falconer nun. But when the captor, the king’s brother, seizes Jeremiah and orders him to kill the king with the stone in exchange for Padre’s freedom, Jeremiah must decide which father is worth saving: his spiritual father or his birth father.
Jeremiah learns the power of the stone and the secret the queen has kept hidden for many years. Unknown to Jeremiah, however, is that Padre has teamed with the queen and a priest to investigate the murder of Witenberg’s archbishop and corruption in the Catholic Church.
Concept and Creation
The initial idea for a novel series titled Cornerstone came on a flight from Brazil to the United States in 2015. Two years later, Michael Paul sketched a rough outline in a Raleigh coffee shop. He then worked with a writing coach, and throughout 2017 and 2018, he wrote after work and on weekends. From early drafts in 2017 to the final manuscript in December 2020, Michael changed narration viewpoints and wrote over thirty different drafts. He reviewed the manuscript with beta readers, worked with editors from Reedsy, and prepared to pursue traditional publishing. However, in January 2021, Michael stopped seeking the traditional route and chose instead to independently publish. Cornerstone: The King will be released during the fall of 2021.
Michael Paul wrote several poems prior to writing Cornerstone: The King. He changed the poems slightly for adaption in the book.
Michael Paul wrote the majority of the Cornerstone prophecy as shown on his website in three hours while at a coffee shop in Cincinnati. He then edited and formatted the prophecy over several weeks. The prophecy explores the main theme of the Cornerstone series: love or freedom.
Michael Paul used the Wonderdraft fantasy map creation tool to build the maps as shown on his website. After first drawing the Cornerstone world on paper, Michael created the maps. He referenced the maps when describing the world throughout the writing of Cornerstone: The King.
Cornerstone: The King is a work of fiction inspired by true stories. While many characters are based on historical people and events, this tale is told primarily through the author’s imagination. Many authors reference personal experiences to influence their writing. Michael Paul is no different. He used personal stories, stories about others, research, and his imagination to craft Cornerstone: The King.
As Michael Paul writes in the book’s acknowledgments page, “This book was a labor of love, and I am eternally grateful for those who walked with me as I journeyed through the lands of deep depression, panic disorder, suicidal ideation, and post-traumatic stress from October 2018 until December 2020.” Michael didn’t anticipate fighting internal battles as he wrote Cornerstone: The King. However, many emotions and old wounds surfaced during the writing, and Michael used his personal experiences to influence portions of the book.
Cornerstone: The King explores many themes as characters journey through mental health struggles, and from darkness into light. For example, themes include identity, friendship, love, loss, acceptance, betrayal, justice, and forgiveness.
The unifying theme that ties Cornerstone: The King and the entire Cornerstone series together is mentioned in the first three words of the book’s prologue: “Love or Freedom?” The prophecies on Michael Paul’s website also reference this theme.
When Michael Paul began to write Cornerstone: The King, he wanted to write a prodigal son story and a story that illustrated the deleterious effects on society from corrupt, large, and powerful institutions. Because of this, he chose the late twelfth-century as the book’s setting. These elements remained in the book, but after Jameela and Rachel came to life, the book pivoted. He added in his mental health journey, and the book pivoted more. Now Cornerstone: The King became primarily a story about the transformation of the three main characters: Jeremiah, Jameela, and William.