I want to repeat that any author who sees these reviews and wants to reply is more then welcome and I will post their reply everywhere I post the review.
I get ya.
On the review, let's see...
This is a tricky one because the books have a strong direct flow. However, the series has a hard stop at book 5, so we're not looking at thirty books feeding off each other. Back when we were first conceptualizing, we had already written the material that became the first two books.
(Funny part being that the material we had for the second book was almost entirely the run up to the battle of Julewa Keep and the battle itself.)
We had the concept in place for Ghost World but hadn't written it yet. Then we plotted it out, figured out what we needed for the next couple, and arrived at our hard stopping point. Now, while I concede the wisdom of never saying never, I have little enthusiasm or interest in picking up after the hard stop, which would involve an entirely new series. Maybe someday, but right now we're both ready to finish this series and move on to newer things.
We do have a prequel on the backburner that goes into more history of the World, revolving around the famous Theorist Lannit, who was mentioned briefly in the first book.
Writing the People has given me a bit of Stockholm in that regard. I mean, there are the clear baddy bad bads, the assholes like the trio of maintenance techs or Akbas, but for the quasi-sympathetic People I tend to see them as what they could've been had they not be raised in an uber-asshole society.
I'm curious, being as how you're my actual combat anthropologist source, do they ring true to you in terms of development?
It worked! It worked! That was exactly the progression we wanted most readers go to through with him.
Shan and Elarn are epitomes of Fismar's line about some people being caj. They're both social cast-offs, Shan due to being an average pilot with test anxiety issues that leave her doing shit jobs with shit outfits, and Elarn due to his bout of medical malpractice. Shan's relationship with Ama gives her an opportunity to drop her blinders, as Fismar does for Elarn.
The constant challenge with writing Lissil is to follow her progression as a character without making her twirl a mustache. She's a negative and malicious force, but as you've noted for totally logical and understandable reasons. Kris and I had the "Is she twirling her mustache here?" conversation over and over from this book on into the current one we're working on.
Whether we succeeded with that or not is entirely up to the reader.
Quoting mostly because I love the line, and because you have actually helped me appreciate Seg more. Bear in mind, as originally written he was even more of an asshole, and his progression was slower and he was more oblivious to it. When we were working with our Writer's House agent, he suggested we lighten Seg up and make him more likable, which I resisted. We didn't ever tilt him over to being something like a teddy bear or action hero good guy, but we did speed him up down the road toward abolitionism a full book sooner as a result. In the original drafts, he had a big Oskar Schindler moment in the fourth book, as in the scene at the end when Schindler realizes how many more people he could've saved. But this time around, Seg's already in the game a lot sooner.
I wasn't entirely satisfied that we'd made the Etiphars loathsome enough for the readers to be happy with their conquest, nice to see that it worked for you at least.
Then again I'd just spent a couple hundred pages writing really loathsome shit so maybe I was a bit jaded by that point.
Just wait until you meet the As Dead in the third book.
One of my favorites to write. The mystery of Fismar is unveiled in the third book.
Just for you I will take this under advisement. Seriously.
That's Kris. She's always like "How can we shit on these characters? Okay, now that shit is raining down from the sky, can we set the ground beneath their feet on fire and maybe give them ebola?"
Thanks again for the awesome review, brother.