“An epic adventure of High Fantasy and High Stakes;
deserves a place next to Pratchett or Goodkind.” -Nebula Books
Nebula Books has reviewed The Sovereign Hand. It was a positive review, but more importantly, it was detailed and really engaged with the perceived strengths and weaknesses, which I greatly appreciate. Gadammit, if I don’t love me some feedback to mull with me wine!
Under-utilised and forced elements of worldbuilding; Late arrival of an antagonist; Unanswered questions and loose ends to finish. Check. Check. Check. Fair enough. I can see why it might read that way. I knew what I was doing, all deliberate. All by design.
So, I want to briefly discuss why this design, but not to rebut the review, which I accept 100%. It is a thoughtful, well-written response to the text, and this is valuable. Everyone reads differently, yet I am certain that other potential readers will interpret The Sovereign Hand similarly to the reviewer. Just as other readers will not, and have not, because the text is rich enough for people to make meaning in a variety of ways.
The first, easy response, is that many lingering questions of plot and redundant detail in The Sovereign Hand might be answered by a return to the text, whereon the reader can make new connections in fuller knowledge of where things are headed. I can almost guarantee it rewards any second read. But this is not the whole answer.
More significant is the fact that while carrying its own story, I also burdened The Sovereign Hand with the duty of being the base slab on a pyramid comprised of two further novels, forming one larger, deeper field of text. It was a big ask, and a risk, and I accept that my compromises made the shape of the text unconventional and a less streamlined read. I just had to hope that despite the potential costs, in this text and the bigger picture, the benefits paid off.
So from this review, 7/10 tells me, okay, there’s enough in there for this reader, and that helps inform what I try to get away with next time. (Writers always want to get away with something. You just hope to be elegant about it.) My hope for this time is that the review might encourage others to get the book out of the Have-Not-Finished pile.
I will admit one query from the review, over the criteria for “overwritten”. To me that’s a technical term, and on a technical level, even The Sovereign Hand’s most colourful passages do parse as “trim” or “lean”.
More likely this is a reference to style. The Sovereign Hand occasionally affects a bombastic style to complement the themes and narrative, and tends to illustrate in close or particular detail – then, fine, that is a matter of personal taste.
In the end, everything in TSH is there for a purpose, and any inelegance at least leaves the story perched, ready for take-off in Book 2 – hence the scandalous gossip. With the purchase of Steam Press by Eunoia, I’ve started drafting the following, and final, two books. Book 2 has a title and an outline.
And I’m really excited about it.