Difficult Second Album

Or in this case, the difficult second part of a trilogy…

Conquering a bookshelf near you

The Crown of the Conqueror is now on sale, and judging by this early review from Falcata Times it seems I’ve managed to follow-up The Crown of the Blood with another entertaining tale.

Writing a trilogy, or an even longer series, can be a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, you have a lot of space to tell a story (although I am not sure what sort of story needs ten or more books to tell…). On the downside, you have to tell a story over several books. With trilogies there is always the risk that book two is something of a bridging novel, existing purely to get the plot from the end of book one to the beginning of book three rather than being a convincing narrative in its own right.

A sure way to avoid this is to make sure you have a tight plan before starting the series. If you can sit down and work out the structure of each novel beforehand you can make sure that each volume exists in its own right, drawing on the other books in the series but not wholly dependent upon them.

I have recently been tackling several different trilogies, and have avoided ‘middle book syndrome’ by not following a conventional 1-2-3 chronological narrative. The Sundering trilogy, part of the wider Time of Legend series for Black Library, focuses on a particular character in each installment, with the timelines of each novel overlapping. Each is a self-contained tale detailing the life and tribulations of that character and provides different perspectives on shared events and encounters whilst also moving the arc of the trilogy toward its conclusion.

First title in the Eldar Path trilogyI am going one stage further than this with The Eldar Path, a Warhammer 40,000 series that deals with the alien eldar and their way of life. Even more than The Sundering, each book is from the viewpoint of a single character, and all three books take place over the same period time. Thus while the events that affect Alaitoc craftworld are known after the first novel, Path of the Warrior, each successive volume layers on a different perspective on those events, and it is not until the third book, Path of the Outcast, that the reader truly discovers exactly what had happened and why, and reaches the final conclusion of the narrative.

The Crown of the Blood

I did not come up with any such fancy author wrangling for The Crown of the Blood series. Each book picks up narratively from where the previous book ends. Since the first volume finishes on a huge cliffhanger, it was important that the second book did more than just wrap up the mystery, but also provided a new arc of story and a whole new set of conflicts for the characters to overcome.

Pacing was also an issue. I was in two minds for a long while, considering how much of a recap to provide for readers concerning the events of the first book. In the end I decided to include only minimal reminders of what had previously transpired. I have assumed, rightly or wrongly, that readers will have read The Crown of the Blood before picking up The Crown of the Conqueror, and when it comes to the time to pen The Crown of the Usurper, I will do the same.

I felt it was better to spend the available space pushing on with the narrative to new revelations and exciting battles than harp on about stuff the majority of readers would already know. I hear from a lot of genre fans who read long series that they will often re-read previous titles in preparation for a new release, and so it was on that basis that I wrote the second volume.

After the revelation at the end of The Crown of the Blood, and the subsequent twists and turns this leads to in book two, it was important that The Crown of the Conqueror had an equally (or as near as I could get it) impactful ending. In hindsight the end may be a bit telegraphed, it’s hard to judge when you know what’s going to happen! Either way, I hope the trials and triumphs of Ullsaard, Noran, Anglhan, Gelthius and the other characters will have readers turning the pages as quickly with The Crown of the Conqueror as they did with book one.

Competition Winner

Big Box of Books

Having now received a big box of samples, I am pleased to say that I will shortly be despatching a signed copy of The Crown of the Conqueror to Jonathan Beer, who won my Live Chat competition last month. Congrats to Jonathan, and as he is also a budding writer I wish him the best of luck with his authoring too!

What I’m Doing

I am currently finishing off a Black Library novella concerning the exploits of Ultramarines Chaplain Cassius against a voracious Tyranid swarm. No release information as yet, but keep checking the Black Library website. Once that is finished, I’m working on rewrites for Deliverance Lost, my first full-length Horus Heresy novel. Then it is one to another HH piece, this time a novella of The Primarchs anthology entitles The Lion… Aided ably by BL’s Andy Smillie on the flight to Chicago I have thrashed out the plot of this and I think it will provide not only Dark Angels fans but followers of the Horus Heresy in general with plenty of food for thought (as well as a cool battle or two, of course).

I’m off later to record a video interview with BLTV, so keep an eye out for that around the time of release for Path of the Seer. I also recorded a couple of podcast interviews during Chicago Games Day, so I’ll post info about those as when they go live.

Quick Addendum

A fan of the first book, Liviu also gives us a tease of his forthcoming review of ‘Conqeuror’ on Goodreads. He likes it! I am pleased by this. 🙂


Published in: on August 9, 2011 at 10:23 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Chaplain Cassius against the Tyranids? Sounds mighty interesting. Not a big fan of the Ultramarines per se, but this might be a good yarn. I will eagerly look for more information on this, as it becomes available.

    The “Flight of the Raven” audiobook was fun – always good with something to put on the stereo whilst painting, and Toby Longworth’s voice acting is nothing short of sublime. So – I have high hopes for “Deliverance Lost”.

    A tale about the Lion in the forthcoming “Primarchs” anthology…hmm… well…you have kinda mailigned the Dark Angels before, so…have you read “Savage Weapons” by Aaron Dembski-Bowden? That is the way to write about the Dark Angels…



  2. The ‘Crown’ series looks like exciting times for you, Gav. How did it come about?


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