I’m about 80,000 words into what was supposed to become the last book in the next Dark Tales of Randamor the Recluse trilogy, and I’m fairly sure now that is not going to happen.
The trilogy, I mean. There simply are too many characters and there is too much happening to fit in just three books. It seemed to call for a change of plans. It has taken me some agonizing but I finally had to accept that The Invisible Hands will become a quadrilogy.
This means that a book will be interposed between Castling and Mate. Once I had made decision, the title came to me soon afterward: Pawn Storm.
In chess, a pawn storm is a tactic whereby an opponent’s defenses are attacked by several pawns at once, sometimes from different directions. It usually occurs after one or both players have castled. Yep, after castling occurs. At least in that respect the sequence of the titles seems to be correct. As far as it goes, anyway. I’m not trying to teach you a chess lesson here.
This is the new arrangement of The Invisible Hands quadrilogy:
- Part 1 – Gambit
- Part 2 – Castling
- Part 3 – Pawn Storm
- Part 4 – Mate
With that out of the way, and Pawn Storm being halfway, what can you expect?
As I’ve said a few times before the story of this quadrilogy plays on a much larger canvas and things are happening in wide flung places. This always poses a problem as to what to tell when. Robert Graves in Claudius the God, the sequel of I, Claudius, just stopped the main narrative to tell the history of King Herod, the grandson of Herod the Great, until it had caught up with the story’s present. I always thought this was an unhappy solution. It felt a bit as if Herod was a character Graves had thought of later, which is all the more strange since Herod is a historical figure. It also felt as the much maligned infodump, and a very long one a that. Neither was the case, and Graves’ story-within-a-story was very well done. Graves can dump info on me for several chapters at a time. I wouldn’t mind in the least.
I chose another approach, albeit one with its own drawbacks. When the focus of the story shifts to another place and other characters, there will be small flashbacks — instead of a single big one — just enough to explain what happened. Sometimes this may be limited to just indicating how much time has passed since we last heard of these specific characters. I’ve done it before, in Gambit and Castling, and I think it works. It feels a bit like meeting and old friend you haven’t seen in a while. You exchange what happened to each of you in a few sentences, and before you know it you’re back talking about the here and now.
Another consequence is that Pawn Storm will be more slanted toward action and adventure — though not entirely so — and the last book, Mate, will contain the denouement of several storylines, including the romantic ones.
Incidentally, this approach will also make it more likely for me to meet my fuzzy deadline: late 2013.