Introductory Notes: THE PRICE OF THE CROWN

June 07, 2005
A thought by James Berardinelli

Just a few random thoughts about the book. If you're not interested, you can skip to tomorrow, when I'll provide my thoughts about the final episodes of a few TV series.

The Price of the Crown was written in late 1990 and early 1991, approximately a year before I started writing movie reviews. At that time, I could churn out about 4 pages per day, which enabled me to complete the book in less than six months. It was subsequently revised around 1993, then again in 2001. After discussing publishing it with my agent, I realized that a significant (third) revision would be required. I decided not to "re-open" the book because once I started revising, I would tinker endlessly with it and it might never reach a "finished" state. So, rather than pursuing publication, I decided to post it. I am currently writing something that borrows ideas from The Price of the Crown, but it is in many ways different. That one is designed for publication.

Three of the most obvious problems with the book are typos (there are probably about a dozen per chapter), minor grammatical errors, and too many adjectives. (He was a "big, hearty man" instead of merely a "big man.") I am aware of these, but, as I mentioned, I elected not to re-open the book to do another round of editing. So if you notice any of these issues, there's no need to let me know. I am, however, interested in knowing about any continuity errors, since it's possible that a few escaped my notice.

There are two primary influences: Katherine Kurtz's "Deryni" series and Robert Graves' I, Claudius and Claudius the God. The book is not very Tolkien-esque. It contains magic, but lacks a presence by the non-human races that are commonplace in most fantasy novels. This is a political book, in that a lot of it deals with the mechanations to sustain or topple a rulership. My goal was to start out with a basic fantasy setting and a straightforward set-up, then begin twisting things mid-way through. I hope that anyone reading the early chapters will not be able to predict how things will turn out in Chapters 35 and 36.

The book is carefully structured: six sections of six chapters each. The first section introduces one group of characters (the ruling family and those associated with them). The second section introduces another group of characters (farming peasants). There is a parallelism between Chapters 1-6 and 7-12. By the third section, I start mixing things up. The downside to this approach is that the characters from Chapters 1-6 disappear until Chapter 13. The upside is, hopefully, balance. But I realize some readers will be frustrated by having to wait six chapters to see where things go immediately after Chapter 6.

There are two sequels, each of which is intended as a stand-alone novel. The first, called The Price of Magic, has undergone one revision. The second is The Price of Terror, which is only about 3/4 done. If reaction to The Price of the Crown warrants it, I'll post the second book later in the summer. Posting of the third book could happen in the fall, if there's enough motivation for me to finish it. (I will not post one chapter until the entire thing is done.) The Price of Terror has a more ambitious scope than either of its predecessors, which makes it a challenge.

One of the most common questions I have received thus far is about the three-letter names. That's merely a convention I decided upon as a means of differentiating humans from other races. (Elves, for example, have four-letter names.) I was also asked about religion. The predominant belief is that souls are re-incarnated, but there is no deity. The backstory I developed for Devforth (the land where the story takes place) references a cult of monotheists, but they have never shown up in any of the books. I wanted to write a series where religion was a non-factor.