It's been thirteen years to reach the conclusion of this septology - the stories of Rythe. It won't be out until Faith Kauwe's run her expert eye over it. Probably release it in five or six months. I haven't written 'The End' yet and won't until I'm happy with it. There's an awful lot to do yet - drafts, updated covers, glossaries, maps, boxed sets, and paperback editions for 'The Line of Kings' trilogy when Chris Taggart has finished the final cover for 'The Thief King'. But, nearly there.
And, I just checked and this is my 26th completed novel. I'm quietly pleased about that.
Here's the prologue for those interested:
The time of gods pass. Suns' light fades. Men die and darkness rises and then it is demons who rule the night and the shade and men fear demons more than gods - because it is those blackest souls which men understand.
Worlds, too, are half dark, half light. One needs the other, just as men need demons.
With the darkness which fell over Rythe came the cold. The seas in the temperate lands were chilled, and where once the waters were calm, ice floated by. Waves tugged and shoved at the shore, sluggish but insistent. The creatures of the seas knew death, too. The leviathans stirred. Kraken and whale, seawolf and gransald, and all the tentacled and long-toothed things of the depths moved across the wide seas, searching for surcease from the doom that came from shifting ocean floors and tidal waves.
Winter came to a whole world, and with its bounty of snow and ice so too came famine. Land once lush plains, or untamed forest, or fertile farmland froze and crackled with cold. Trees snapped as they froze inside and fruit could not grow from ice.
War raged far and wide until those white lands turned red. Fallen warriors, bodies and blood frozen in battles of steel and fire became lost beneath the snow or joined the nameless among the mounds of dead across every land.
Cities which once flourished in the light cowered in the day's gloom, and the weight of the night's dark. The suns no longer shone, but glimmered, faint and near-forgotten. Sunlight became just a sputtering candle and the Elethyn the hungry wind that blew like the frosted breath of death's dread hounds themselves...
But these hounds did not flee the day; they devoured it.
Carious and Dow dimmed and weakened and watched the land below, unable to warm it, or keep it alive, powerless before the Sun Destroyers.
THEY WILL EAT ALL THE WORLDS.
Their words, thoughts - the souls and feelings of the suns themselves, were unutterable sad.
Suns do not fear their own death. They are suns. Suns fear the death of their children, and they fear those children that turn against them - those like the Naum, so long forsaken...but the Naum were of the dark, and no longer under the sway of the suns.
The Elethyn were children of Carious and Dow, too. They had grown strong.
WE DIE, said Carious in the majestic voice that belonged to stars.
As suns die, even the moonlit nights seemed harder on the souls of those creatures under the twin suns' sad, watchful gaze. Beings born of light need the light to see, yes...but they need it to feel, too.
The Elethyn needed no such thing.
Few though the Elethyn may have been, they tore a vibrant, living world asunder. They turned wood to ash, bodies to bone and stone walls to rivers of molten rock. Men and women - humanity - hid in the darkest, deepest places they could find as fire rained from volcanoes and lands quaked and even the dirt and rock shifted.
The Elethyn did not feel. They did not hate, nor love, nor fear. They bathed, and they fed, and humanity weakened under their black embrace. Yet there is no choice but to fight the void's uncaring gaze - whether evil or good fights, or dark, or light, or dead or living, or man or monster...it matters not who fights, only that the foe is met with a cry, and a headlong rush toward it.
The foe is oblivion. The battle...eternal.
Cold can always grow.
Forests and fields, deserts and mountains, rivers and seas...these can grow colder still, until they too are as cold as those places where the warmth of a sun will never reach. As cold as the caverns and caves, or in the graves and barrows. Cold as the drowned dead who mouldered in the pits of the seas.
The coldest were the cursed ones, and the Naum, and the undying and those buried in graves of yew or iron. All those beings denied the light until the death of the world itself were still there. All those dead remained, whether bone or mere spirit, beneath Rythe.
One who still remembered the languages the dead and dark things spoke softly, but in a voice that even death would not deny.
'The time to rise has come,' said the Queen.
And they rose.