By Gail Z. Martin
I’m very excited to have a new epic fantasy series coming out from Solaris in 2017. I’ve been referring to it as the Epically-Epic Epic Fantasy That Cannot Yet Be Named (or E3F for short) because we haven’t released the book or series names or the concept. Book one is in the middle of edits, so we’re closing in on a final version, and I’ll be starting on book two soon.
E3F marks the third completely new epic fantasy world I’ve created. My goal in developing this series was to come up with something very different from what readers have experienced in my Chronicles of the Necromancer/Fallen Kings Cycle world or my Ascendant Kingdoms Saga world. Likewise, I wanted to go in a fresh direction with the characters, the magic and the approach to religion.
How does a writer return to familiar territory (in this case, the quasi-Medieval epic fantasy setting) and still take the reader somewhere they haven’t been before?
The answer is: look at history. While many kingdoms coexisted in the same time period in real life, they were hardly identical. Their unique history, culture, political structure, religion (and interpretation of that belief system), geography, economic situation and climate all produced very different settings. Dial forward or backward by a few years, and you see more permutations in the waging, winning and losing of wars, exploration, conquering and colonizing of new territory, the impact of plague or political instability, invasion, natural disaster, and other variables that all dramatically affected the nature of the kingdoms, the choices of those in positions of power, and the stressors on the common people.
Those factors are the ‘ingredients’ I take into consideration as I’m building a new epic fantasy world. They determine what day-to-day life is like in the kingdom and surrounding territory, the fears and expectations of the powerful and the commoners, the decisions to be made and the ripple effects of those decisions. Are we coming off several years of stability and prosperity, or a decade of war, famine, poor harvests and plague? Is the king’s position secure, or are there rivals and threats both foreign and domestic? Are the army and the mages supportive of the king, or is treachery afoot? And what big incident is going to upset the status quo and start the plot ball rolling for the action in the book?
In the Chronicles series, the ‘big incident’ was the assassination of the royal family and the rise of Jared the Usurper. In the Ascendant Kingdoms series, it was the night of the Cataclysm, when the world burned and magic failed. In E3F, the incident that sets events in motion isn’t nearly as huge and important, but the repercussions grow into actions that change the course of history, very much in the tradition of the rhyme about how a kingdom was lost for want of a nail.
I can’t say much about the characters in E3F yet, but I will let slip that they’re not royals or nobility. They’re regular people, just trying to get through the day, until a sequence of events magnifies the consequences of their actions. Remember, ‘may you live in interesting times’ is actually a curse.
Stay tuned! We’ll be revealing more about the new series as we get closer to the summer launch!
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