October 01, 2006
A thought by James Berardinelli

A long time in coming? Indeed.

When I posted the first two installments of my fantasy trilogy last year, they were in a mostly finished form, having been written and edited in the early 1990s. The third book, The Price of Terror, was incomplete at the time, and I wasn't sure I would ever finish it. It's tough to go back and revive an abandoned project after so much time. Fortunately, the first two books stood well enough on their own that the third one wasn't necesary. However, since I felt in many ways that The Price of Terror was the best of the three, the desire to complete it was there.

Why did I stop writing in the first place? The Price of the Crown and The Price of Magic were written before I became a consistent film reviewer so, aside from attending baseball games, I didn't have a lot of regular activities to fill up my spare time. It wasn't difficult to churn out a chapter or more a week. I started The Price of Terror in early 1993 and wrote it consistently for about 15 weeks. It was slow going because I was now seeing and reviewing a lot of movies. Then baseball season arrived, the Phillies exploded out of the gate, and my writing productivity dropped precipitously. Aside from writing reviews, I didn't have time for anything else. So The Price of Terror languished. After Joe Carter's home run ended the World Series, I ended up putting almost all of my writing effort into reviews.

I revived The Price of Terror during 1995, when I spent a 40-week period commuting from New Jersey and Chicago for work. That left me with a lot of non-productive time in airports, on planes, and in hotel rooms. I had a rudimentary laptop at the time, so I was able to get some writing done. But when the trips ended, the book went back into hibernation. This summer, however, I decided that for better or for worse, I needed to finish it. So I doggedly pursued that goal and this is the result.

The editing process has been grueling, since a lot of smoothing out needed to be done - that's what happens when a book is written in spurts over a 13-year period. I'm pleased with the results, although I'm sure there are continuity errors I have missed. There are a few narrative problems (I'll discuss those after the book has been posted in its entirety), but nothing that should detract significantly from the reading experience.

The Price of Terror opens 15 years after the conclusion of The Price of Magic. The same characters are in play, although they're older. Sor's daughter, Lea, is about to take the throne at a time when the entire continent of Devforth is gripped by a brutal winter. Two threats to her power emerge. One comes from Vorti's age-old enemy, Tsab, and the other is a more primal and deadly challenge. The first two Price novels were relatively intimate in scope, dealing with rites of succession within Vorti. Events in The Price of Terror push this more into the realm of epic fantasy, with battling armies and a full-scale war. There's also plenty of political backstabbing.

Hopefully, those of you who enjoyed the first two books will find much to like about the third installment. At this time, I don't have plans to write more about these characters (although I suppose that could change - there's room for additional stories), so the conclusion is intended to offer a resolution of sorts. As always, comments and questions are welcome. The book will be posted throughout October at the rate of a chapter a day (with two chapters on Halloween to round things out). Early in November, I'll post a ReelThoughts entry with my impressions of what went wrong and right about the book.