The four-part fantasy series chronicling chaos in Cryssigens is now available in paperback, e-book and audiobook. Give the gift of Hope for the holidays! Descriptions here with links below.
A leaderless city in turmoil, from a dark conspiracy well hidden, in a wounded Empire tilting back toward civil war.
And three heroes who together are the kingdom’s only hope…
have never even met.
Shards of Light 1: The Ring and the Flag
I was always drawn to the events of this first adventure, one of the first two stories I published nearly a decade ago. If you like a classic fantasy quest– doomed secret mission, race against time, mystery monster and a hero who doubts himself– you should enjoy Captain Justin and his exploits. It ends well I think, but you can tell there’s more.
Shards of Light 2: Fencing Reputation
The second book and hero were well known to me and took far less than a year to write and publish. Feldspar the Stealthic is certainly a less usual hero. Without giving the game away, you might have to count him as more than one person depending on circumstance. Vaulting bone-shattering heights, dodging assassins, probing dark places for even darker secrets, these pose no problem. How to meet the new neighbors, on the other hand? That might be the end of him. I took real delight in penning this first-person, detective-flavored adventure.
Shards of Light 3: Perilous Embraces
Here my efforts hit a definite snag. Alongside the labor to finish another full-length novel, introducing the central member of the Shards heroic triumvirate proved to be the hardest task I have ever faced. And in bringing the beautiful mystic W’starrah Altieri to the page, I believe I did some of my best work. Here the plot swirls together and the conspiracy is nearly exposed. The connections to the other two heroes are captured in cross-over scenes which required some nimble footwork on the calendar of days. New characters, as always, were folded into the action. I finished on a hard note, assuredly (I can say no more).
Shards of Light, the Finale
Now my fingers flew again and the final book, for all its complexity, came together very quickly. I enjoyed the return of long-unvisited characters as you would welcome in an old friend. The pace of the action accelerated along with the writing, and I was thrilled to see it coming together in a way that (I hope) brought the entire epic around. I think faithful readers will gain a very satisfying ending from their efforts.
Where to Find Shards of Light
The series is available in paperback or e-book formats, as separate volumes as well as a collection set on Amazon and other major retailers.
The series is also available in audiobook format as well, with the revision of the first volume, and is rolling out to new retail outlets just as this holiday season rolls around.
Thou art wise to consider such a synthesis, Solemn. There are many worlds, but only a single nature.
-Final Judgement, The Eye of Kog
You’d think after a decade of chronicling I’d be out of surprises around the actual process.
I’m old, first of all, and how many new tricks would I be inclined to show an interest in? Plus, epic fantasy in many ways isn’t about discovering anything new. We explore the classic truths about ourselves and the joy comes of recognizing old friends despite their outlandish disguises. Lots of reasons. But when I came to the desk with intent to write, I figured I was pretty much doing the same thing. A beloved, well known activity.
And I am. But…
This Time, Different- The Test of Fire
The current WiP is what I pretentiously call a demi-sequel. When I decided I wanted to chronicle the Lands of Hope, the first thing I drafted, the very first thing, was a ramshackle adventure that turned into The Plane of Dreams. But the thing I called it, the working title when I first wrote it in 2008, was “Prologue to The Test of Fire”. I was working from my instinct of course in those days, and from one other important thing.
Tons of them. I have maps, and character descriptions (let’s just call them that), and detailed information about lots of locations where dark secrets of Despair were buried (often literally). I have data, if you will, on what the monsters are like, how magic spells and miracles work, how long travel takes depending on conveyance. I have of course the figurines that I’ve showed you in other columns. And I have primary source material (just go with me here), letters and journal entries and first-hand accounts to draw on about What Really Happened. Some of it not in my own handwriting, let’s just leave it there OK?
When I started to chronicle, in many ways I simply went to the bulls-eye, the place where these notes of mine were the thickest. That produced the tale I eventually rounded off and called The Plane of Dreams in 2011. I really enjoyed the job. There were just two things that I found a bit frustrating about the process.
One was where the tale actually began.
The other was where it ended.
Long story about the first. I’ll eventually write another novel to answer it. For now, this: I’m working on the book that comes after The Plane of Dreams, and I’m working from notes. Got it?
“I Only Know What Happens”
This is the battle-cry of my chronicling: for more than 35 years I’ve known the giant arc of the plot around the Lands of Hope. Notes, no notes, that part makes no difference: it’s always been there, like whatever those programs are that constantly use 4 or 5% of the CPU on your PC . I’ve gone to sleep idly wondering about this character, that event. Years of this, before I even thought about trying to write it out for others.
I think the word for this is ‘insane’. But happily so. This is simply part of my life. I couldn’t forget it with a gun to my head.
But that is all merely plot, so to speak, and of course it’s not terribly detailed. You can TELL your friend about your favorite movie, the one you’ve seen ten or twenty times, sure. But can you write out the screenplay, shot by shot? I blogged once about the three levels of writing: Plot, Character and Theme. I came into The Test of Fire with the plot practically tattooed onto my brain. But writing out the details, revealing character and perhaps even showing (discovering, honestly) the meaning of the tale… that’s where it gets interesting.
Thought I Knew These Guys…
Recently I finished writing the beginning (maybe the first third or so of the tale), and now I’m into the middle-meat of the novel. Here, my notes became very polished, much more detailed, from the main character’s PoV. In essence, a first draft. Or perhaps a kind of Reader’s Digest version of the novel itself.
Except the novel hadn’t yet been written. Is that actually a thing? Did anyone in history write up an abstract of the tale before the tale itself? Without meaning to follow up!
And just look at all the missing details! Mostly about character, of course. So far I’ve gone through about one page of the old draft (from more than 20 years ago, when I thought I was saying goodbye to the marvelous interactions I was having with the Lands). It’s spot-on for plot (one minor exception with an event coming a shade earlier in the non-existent timeline than previously believed).
But what I’m adding is mainly about character. Who said what, more of that. The way the hero Qerlak feels, of course. Now it’s four and a half pages; it flows, it makes better sense, and I dare to think it will affect the reader.
The More Things (Sort of) Change?
Is it different now? I retreat to the words of Pooh-Bah in The Mikado:
“Merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.”
Of course, Pooh-Bah had very nearly bungled the whole deal with his “corroborative detail”, so this is not entirely a joke.
I simply cannot reel in the words to describe how utterly strange it feels now, to be looking at an absolutely authentic account from two decades ago, and then changing it so dramatically. What was correct? Can both be right? How can I be working so steadily and smoothly, yet adding so much? I mean, remembering LESS over time is how memory usually works…
I do feel I know them better by now. And in the furthest reaches of my delusion–by the way, this IS a delusion, let us have no delusions about that–but sometimes I even start to believe I’m seeing something about the theme of the tale, of what it all means and which informs the action and the characters. That’s a comforting notion.
The main hero Qerlak is learning about the proper code of behavior for his life. As a younger son of the nobility, he never had to worry that he would one day be responsible for leading a foef. He joined an adventuring band, the Tributarians, and was known as the chivalrous one among commoners. He excelled, gained fame and enough fortune (almost) to buy a vacant knighthood (this happens during The Plane of Dreams). He THINKS he’s retiring. He thinks the noble’s code will be the beacon whereby he guides his life.
He’s wrong on both counts. Qerlak, and the other heroes in this story, must learn that there is another code, the adventurer’s code that they have committed to (perhaps unknowingly). And you might be able to guess how well those go together.
The Way Forward
Choices to be made! Consequences to be suffered for those aforementioned choices. Impact to the unsuspecting reader following on from that, and more than likely, a new set of choices to be made. Therein, not to put too fine a point on it, lies a tale.
One that, it turns out, I’m not yet completely familiar with. THAT’s the strangeness, in a nutshell. I’m the Alleged Real World’s foremost authority on what happens during The Test of Fire, and even I’m unsure–a little bit–how this will all turn out. How utterly delightful.
And you thought only readers could enjoy my books.