I'd like to say it's the Final Edition, but the fact of the matter is that after a marathon rewrite, and careful scrutiny, I probably missed a few things. Do me a favor and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you spot something.
Now . . . I'm done with Court Wizard. It was a problematic book for several reasons. Let me go through them here, instead of making you suffer with an Author's Afterword in the book (note: I withhold the right to include this as an Author's Afterword in some future edition of the book.)
First, the questions:
1. Why was the book late?
A couple of reasons. First, I was recovering from the hospitalization and other medical issues associated with the publication of Enchanter (purely coincidental, for those shaking their heads). We have since discovered that my condition is triggered by diet, and theorized that by avoiding certain foods I can avoid an attack. I've been able to avoid a hospitalization for ten months, now. I've even been able to avoid an episode. After 13 hospitalizations in 3 years, that's a BIG DEAL.
Secondly, this was a Very. Big. Book. Originally planned for a mere 40 chapters, once I tried to do it justice it blossomed by 10 chapters.
Thirdly, This was inherently difficult book to do from the start. I intended to write it from a female perspective - the third time I've tried to do that, but the first from a mature woman's perspective.
That's a big deal, too. There is a lot of angst happening on social media about The Deplorable State of Female Characters In Fantasy Fiction. From the differing armor standards between male and female action heroes to the lack of good liberal fantasy societies . . . so I wrote Court Wizard.
Here we have a strong, fully-developed female character. A professional woman in her own right who married out of choice and for love in a society that values neither. She has challenges, quests. adversaries, and enemies. A woman powerful in her own right, at the pinnacle of her feudal society.
One might think that would automatically make her a Feminist Icon. But she really isn't. Not as the feminist movement understands it.
You see, what most advocates from the feminist movement want, when they want more "feminist" fantasy stories, seem to be characters torn from modern times in medieval dress. They don't understand some things about the fantasy genre, particularly the Medieval Fantasy genre.
The modern feminist movement is largely a product of post-industrial civilization. Before the Industrial Revolution (Ye Olde Medieval Tymes, in which most high fantasy is set) the dominant form of civilization and culture is agricultural. The things that were in women's self-interest during agricultural times are exactly the things that the modern feminist movement fights against today. In agricultural societies a woman's greatest security came from aligning with a powerful family, the strongest institution available to her. Imagining a realistic feudal, agricultural society that doesn't put a premium on the lives of young men as labor and defense is almost impossible. One that doesn't put a premium on women who have a lot of babies and can keep an orderly house, likewise.
The point is, imagining a strong, resilient woman having adventures in a feudal society is not hard; we have been given ample historical precedent and plenty of mythological precedent. But to do so she must exist within that society, not outside of it.
Further, women are different than men. There, I said it.
In this context, it means that that there is a lot more focus, internally, on the importance of relationships to women, and to truthfully relate that requires a lot more words. Men and women, as a rule, approach things differently, and I wanted to convey that. Women live constantly in a world of context that men, in general, simply don't understand or perceive. I did my best to do that, and that meant going into a lot more depth into Pentandra's relationships as she strives to solve problems.
So for everyone who complains that there are no realistic female characters in fantasy novels: here you go.
2. Why was the book released early?
It wasn't raw greed. While I'm as susceptible to that as anyone - heck, more than most - it wasn't my intention to release the book before I was ready. But there were extenuating circumstances.
If you look at the dedication to Court Wizard, you'll see the name Toni. That's my wife's Aunt Toni, a beloved figure in her youth. Toni developed cancer, a particularly brutal form, and after her diagnosis her son-in-law passed away due to complications before a heart transplant. I won't go into further details, but you can imagine how difficult that was for an old Southern family.
I can't do a lot in this world, but the one thing I can do is dedicate my books. Before she passed away, two weeks after Court Wizard was published, she got to see her dedication, her name, at the head of a long list of strong, intelligent, valiant women.
It was a little thing, but it was what I could do. And it was totally worth all the negative reviews I got for releasing the book early.
The second reason it was messed up was that I had originally a much different - and complex - structure for it, with Antimei framing the entire story by telling Alurra the story as it will happen - and with her death at the end.
Only I didn't like that. Too complicated, and too fatalistic. Along the way I thought of a reason to keep Antimei alive, so I did it that way. So I reshuffled a lot of chapters around, wrote a new ending, and righteously fucked up the continuity of the story.
All of that should be fixed, now. If you run across further errors, please email me.
Oh, and I included the first chapters of both Hawklady and Shadowmage at the end. And yes, I will push them out to people as soon as they are up so everyone has the edited copy.
But I'm beat, now. I'm going to have an Adult Beverage and celebrate.
I just wrote a book again.