I’ve just sent in the last changes to The Spider’s War, the last book of The Dagger and the Coin. All in all, it’s about 700,000 words to finish the story I began with an apostate priest being hunted through the mountains.
I started the project with a couple of goals in mind: I wanted to understand what epic fantasy was, and I wanted to make one that scratched all my personal itches. To aim for the first, I called a meeting with some of the best minds I knew. Seven — almost eight — years ago, I went to Melinda Snodgrass’s house outside Santa Fe and spent the day with George RR Martin, Walter Jon Williams, S. M. Stirling, Ty Franck, Ian Tregillis among others talking about what fantasy is, how it works, what its history is, speculating on its future. Then a few weeks later, a group met at my house to break the whole five-book series. Some characters who I thought I wanted were left behind in that process. The arc of the whole story was put in place. Critical scenes in the third book and the fifth were talked through. And then I started writing.
A lot of things have happened since then. Not all of the people I began this with are still around now. The circumstances of my life have shifted, as any seven years will do. I heard once that the myth of breaking a mirror being seven years bad luck was because we get new souls every seven years. I assume that’s a metaphor, and I see what it’s a metaphor of.
I will not be spending any more time with Cithrin bel Sarcour or Marcus Wester. Yardem Hane or Master Kit. Gender Palliako. Clara Kalliam. They’ve done everything I asked them to do, and often better than I’d hoped. I’ve finished two epic fantasies now. The Long Price Quartet and The Dagger and the Coin are, for the moment at least, my argument about the nature of epic fantasy — what is fantasy and what ‘epic’ means. I don’t think I could have said when I meant more concisely. Between the two series, I have written over a million words in this genre. I feel fairly pleased with what I’ve managed.
I don’t know what else I have to say about the genre for now, but I have some new projects I’m working on. I’ve also done a five book urban fantasy series, and I’m a little over half way through The Expanse, which promises to dwarf them all. It’s all delightful.
There’s a sadness in endings, and also a joy.
The Dagger and the Coin is ended. And I am pleased to say, I think it’s ended well.
I’ll start something new tomorrow…