September 01, 2005
A thought by James Berardinelli

Based on limited reader response, it seems that a majority enjoyed reading The Price of Magic more than The Price of the Crown. That's okay, although I'll admit to having had more fun writing the first book than the second. The style of Magic may be a little smoother, in part because I did some manicuring before posting. A lot adjectives and adverbs met their deaths.

Spoilers Follow... (If you intend to read the book, I would recommend not perusing the rest of this column until you have done so.)

What worked? It was good to get out of Vorti and spread things across Devforth. Of necessity, this limited the politics, but there was still enough in that department to satisfy me (especially in Part Two). I also got to introduce a few non-human races, and toyed with (albeit perfunctorily) the concept of religion. (One of my goals - never fully realized - was to make athiesm with reincarnation the accepted religion of Devforth. Those believing in a god or gods would be ostracized.) I also thought the deaths of two familiar characters - Sor and Lis - were handled tastefully.

I have mixed feelings about the final battle for Vorti. In many ways, it's too straightforward for my taste, but that should appeal to those who didn't like the non-fight at the end of the first book. Bringing Joi back caused me some problems. I knew I wanted her in the book to give Sor a year of happiness (which I felt he deserved), but figuring out how to do it was a challenge. I wasn't completely satisifed with the method I used - it was a little too contrived. But as a means to an end, it worked.

When I decided to write a sequel to The Price of the Crown, I had several objectives: find a way to allow Apaths to "share" energy and pull it from other sources, redeem Sor, introduce new characters in case I chose to keep the series going, and provide some closure to the Sor/Wil relationship. From the beginning, I intended to kill Sor at the end, although it took a while to figure out the best way to do it. In most of my early mental outlines, he died in battle.

Some other possibilities that I toyed with... In one scenario, Joi/Mora outlived Sor and became Vorti's lone ruler, with the understanding that she would be a figurehead for Wil until her baby was old enough to rule, then she would step down. I rejected that because I wanted Eya to have that position. There was a version in which Rim survived the dwarves but was killed at the end (when Eya made her play for the regency). And there was a time when I considered making Joi a reincarnation of the original Joi, but I thought that was more contrived than what I used.

So now it's time to ask for opinions. The third book is unfinished. If there's enough interest, I'll dust it off, write the last ten chapters, and post it (probably December or January 2006). The Price of Terror, as it's called, widens the scope, so that scenes take place all over Devforth. The main characters (at least at the start) are "old friends" Wil and Eya, and "newcomers" Lea, Grundig, and Gav. There are a lot of battle scenes and plenty of politics. Not everyone survives (this goes without saying). The pace is faster and there is less "fat."

So let me know your opinions of The Price of Magic, and I'll provide a decision on The Price of Terror in a few weeks. For those who think it's a "done deal" that the third book will be posted, let me assure you that it's not. The book will require about 80 hours of work to finish - time that can be spent doing other things if the interest is not there.