Steven Erikson on his new book, traditional trilogies, and appealing to new readers.


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Jan 11, 2007
Hopefully you'll read this, even if you're not an Erikson fan.

In a post on (a well-written post, too - it's nice to see an author of massive tomes displaying his quality with a vastly smaller piece), Steven Erikson introduces his new trilogy and its first book, Forge of Darkness, and talks about the difficulties of following a work of huge scope with something smaller. He also talks about the change in style that readers will see with the Kharkanas Trilogy, how it resembles a traditional form of trilogy (think LotR - a single work that is the equivalent of three books), and how he hopes to appeal to new readers as well as existing fans.

An excerpt:

If the Malazan series emphasized a postmodern critique of the subgenre of epic fantasy, paying subtle homage all the while, the Kharkanas Trilogy subsumes the critical aspects and focuses instead on the homage. Early on, somewhere in the writing of the eighth or ninth novel in Malazan series, I decided on making the upcoming trilogy traditional in form. The trilogy is a dominant story structure in fantasy (yes yes, it’s been stretched many a time, never mind that). For the epic fantasy, it begins with Lord of the Rings, which was always envisioned (by the author) as a single work, but one deemed unmanageable by the publishers at the time (and for profit reasons, this is now entrenched). But set aside, for the moment, that three-volume book-seller side of things, and go back to the original desire of the author – the telling of a story of such length and substance as to require the equivalent of three books. This is the tradition I wanted to return to.

Needless to say, I gave it a lot of thought, and mused long on two elements in particular: the expectations of my established fan-base, and the prospect of inviting new readers to my works, through a more traditional, immediately recognizable form, and on how to satisfy both sets. At which point I realised that I had reached an impasse of sorts. Those two groups of readers are already at odds with respect to my canon; and the ones bearing the most expectation (of the same as what came before) are of course to be found in my pre-existing fan-base, while the other side might well have already written me off no matter what I wrote next.

So … it was time to gamble, time to try and offer up a peace branch, and voice a modest invitation. As for my fan-base, well, once again I was going to have to ask a lot of them. Beg forbearance, in fact.
Re: Steven Erikson on his new book, traditional trilogies, and appealing to new reade

Now there's an honest kind of writer.
I really liked his exposition on this new series of his and I've just added it to my wishlist. But I won't touch it in any way until I'll have digested the whole Book of the fallen...and that's a while away still.

Great post and very informative about his thinking on the fantasy genre.
I found Kharkanas to be relentlessly cruel, as well as gruesome: Erikson must surely intend to appeal to fans of horror fantasy. There is not a shred of relief.

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