Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall Preview

When I was young, I used to watch Saturday morning cartoons. This was back when cartoons were only shown on television on Saturday morning and there were only three stations. Once a week, kids got to rule the set. They started at seven am, and I would be up with my pillow and blanket that I dragged very quietly into the living room—this was when families only had one television. If you got up real early, you could see Felix the Cat reruns, but he was never that big a draw for me. I was a Bugs Bunny fan. Back then, they were good because it was before the censors cut out all the good parts they thought were too violent for kids. TopCat, Johnny Quest, Underdog, Mighty Mouse, Space Ghost, Secret Squirrel, Mightor and Aquaman, all the classics. And just like adult television there were new seasons and previews for it. It happened on the Friday night before the launch of the new season of Saturday morning cartoons. They ran a half-hour show on all the new Fall cartoon offerings. A lot of them looked like crap. I couldn’t believe it when they debuted H.R. Pufnstuf, I mean com’on that wasn’t even a cartoon! But I also remember this new cartoon that looked very interesting, spooky, mysterious and fun. It was called—of all things—Scooby Doo, Where Are You? And I would have nearly as much trouble going to sleep on that autumn night as I did on Christmas Eve. I loved that Fall Preview special. I loved seeing all the great things headed my way.

So for those of you who ordered the book and are waiting on the delivery, here is a little Fall preview for you that will hopefully keep you up and eagerly waiting.

When last we left off…Royce and Hadrian were riding home, back to Medford after leaving Avempartha and there was that annoying little question that literally dangled there. And then of course there was Thrace—lots of questions with that little situation. But where is the story going? What can you expect?

Well, the book is green. That might seem trivial, but it is a hint. Crown was gold and was set in autumn, Avempartha took place in Spring and was a blue green. Nyphron Rising is deep green so…

You can be assured that Royce and Hadrian will be back and a few other familiar faces will at least put in cameos. Primarily however, this book is about Royce, Hadrian and Arista. You’ll learn a whole lot more about each as the three struggle to save Melengar from invasion. But don’t worry you’ll find out what happened to poor Thrace as well.

The Green book, more than anything, is the background episode. A number of you have been wondering about the histories of our intrepid heroes and you will learn a lot of it in this book. You won’t get all of it, key aspects to the two’s past I am still keeping hidden, like how they became Riyria (you’ll get hints but the full story is being held in reserve for another time.)

And where are we going? By now patterns should start to form. You couldn’t expect to draw much of a picture of the future using just the first book. After Avempartha a lot of questions were answered, like how will the separate episodes work? But still two does not a pattern make. With three books you should begin to see a trend. So what kind of trend can you expect?

The Crown Conspiracy was really the appetizer, the introduction to the story. Fast paced and light it was intended to sweep readers along with the plot and not get bogged down with world-building or heavy characterization. In much the same way that the first chapter of Crown was the throw-you-into-the-action start of the story—that flashy bit of intro that you see before the credits of a movie or television show—so too Crown as a whole was the quick intro to the series—the pilot. And despite its simplicity you nevertheless came away knowing a lot about the world and its inhabitants. It was meant to get your attention, intended to interest you enough that you would be willing to slog through a little bit more depth without complaint.

Then came Avempartha. Deeper, slower, a little darker. Yet in many ways, it was filler. You know what I mean, the off-mainline-plot episodes of a television series. The characters get fleshed out more, but the focus is off the beaten trail. In this case, it was off in the wilderness in an isolated village. Not knowing where the plot is headed, it might not seem like filler (and in truth it is not) but it was distinctly different from the first novel in tone and location, sort of an eddy off to the side of civilization.

Now comes Nyphron Rising—the green book. With it, the series will reach the midpoint. By the end, you will have an understanding of patterns, a good solid grasp of how the story is being built (or at least you may think you do) and who the major players are and what roles they will inhabit. I warn you not to get too comfortable with any theories just yet as a lot of twists are still on their way.

Nyphron is also a bit different from the first two books in the structure of the plot. Reviews have had an easy time pidgeon-holeing the first two books in terms of traditional plots, with the first being a “save the kingdom and coming of age”, and the second being a “save the village” sort of scenario, but book three, four, and five will be a great deal harder as they don’t fit in any standard category. As for the sixth book…well we won’t talk about the sixth book.

In Nyphron you will meet old friends and enemies and some new faces as well. After this, being halfway, there won’t be as many new central characters introduced. The cast will be mostly set and the story arc will now begin to pick up speed. For those of you who hate waiting between books, I am afraid that feeling will only intensify from now on and should get worse with each book. There is only so much I can do to create a completely satisfying novel as the story arc excitement ramps up. The story is still a complete one with a beginning, middle, climax and resolution, but like a rocket picking up speed the fuselage will begin to shake a bit under the strain.

I truly hope you enjoy this new episode. I hope it surprises you while at the same time confirming your suspicions. I hope you read it and smile the way you do when you meet old friends you love. I hope it keeps you up at night reading when you know you should be sleeping, scolding yourself even as you promise—“just one more chapter…it’s a short one after all.” And I will admit to a sadistic streak when I say I hope when you finish it, you will curse me a little bit for not having the next one ready. I hope it prompts you to share the book with friends and family until your copy is hardly recognizable as a book. And I hope you’ll find each book in the series better than the one that came before.

A special thanks to Heather and Jim for their selfless assistance in editing and reviewing the ARC’s, and to all of you for your continued support and efforts to spread the word.

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