When I took a serious, systematic stab at finding an agent for The Key to Darbas again in 2012, one of the things I learned first was that the modern publishing industry hates the idea of novels that are longer than 100,000 words. I mean, just hates it.
Because, you see, people just won’t read longer books.
Of course, the fact that the most successful fantasy series are all constructed of multiple goat-choking volumes, well, that’s just an anomaly. And Neal Stephenson? Look, it’s better if you just don’t talk about Neal Stephenson. Because everybody knows that readers like it short and simple, and using examples to argue otherwise is just amateurish.
But here’s the thing: While the industry is full of shit when it comes to what readers want, it did have a point. Besides, I wasn’t interested in winning arguments with people I didn’t know. I wanted readers. So if agents wanted shorter manuscripts, then by Gawd, that’s what I’d give them.
And since the original manuscript of The Key to Darbas had a really natural split right near the mathematical center of the book, turning it into two shorter books wasn’t all that difficult. Not quite as simple as cutting the manuscript in two, mind you — but not that hard, either. And once I’d reworked both a couple of times, I found I liked the resulting two books much better than the original one.
Siobeth is all about resolutions, and though there’s a lot going on, I love how it moves now.
Plus, here’s an irony for you.
When I first blocked out the story in the fall and winter of 2001, The Key to Darbas not only covered the reversal of the oushasandan Madness and the great battles that followed, it also took readers to The City of The Dead, the library at Bal’a’Blos, and on to the decisive campaign of the Western Wars.
It was only after about three months of writing that I realized there was no way to tell that whole arc in a single volume. Which means that the original manuscript was, itself, a dividing of the story. And now the name The Key to Darbas once again applies to the entire series.
But the thing to understand about this thing I call The Darbas Cycle is that The Key to Darbas series is just a subset of the world I built to contain it. And while I’ve been working on some of the pieces that preclude it off and on for years, there’s more room in this world than I’ll ever use.
Which is why someday I hope to share it with readers of the series. Let them play with it, expand it.
But it’s too early to talk about that.
Bottom line? If a few of you read A Madness and Siobeth and mildly enjoy them, then it all ends here. But if enough of you read it and tell your friends, then Siobeth is simply the end of Part One. Please buy your copy here.