The final book in the Dragonprince Trilogy has been available in e-book form for most of a week now. Within a few hours of its release, it was on the Science Fiction and Fantasy bestseller list at Amazon. It’s already sold nearly a thousand copies, and thanks to my fans who requested Advance Reading Copies, it boasted a bunch of customer reviews from day one.
Unfortunately…they’re not all friendly reviews. Some of them are genuine critiques of the story’s style–”The ending felt rushed” or “This minor character seemed totally pointless” or “I hated the protagonist”–but overall, the resounding complaint boils down to this:
“You didn’t tell the story I wanted you to tell.”
That is agonizing feedback for a storyteller. It’s almost impossible to fix. My readers like my stories because of my style, and part of that style is choosing the boundaries and progression of narratives. When I choose how to tell a story, I always think long and hard about everything that goes into it, and I choose the method that will make the most interesting story I can possibly tell.
In this case, I chose to tell the end of the Dragonprince story from the perspective of Daven’s son Taryn, fifteen years after the events of The Dragonswarm. I knew that would be a surprise to my readers. I hoped it would be a good surprise (and as of this writing, most of my reviewers say it was). I’m certain it was a necessary one.
Because I wanted to tell the story of the Dragonprince. I wanted to tell the story of the boy who rose to power, chose to use that power fighting monsters instead of men, and then followed through on that commitment, whatever the cost. I could have told that story from Daven’s perspective, but as you’ll know if you’ve read the book, it would have been a tortuous and miserable experience.
But I don’t think very many of my readers are frustrated with how I chose to end the story. Mostly, they seem to be frustrated that I ended the story. Maybe it really did take fifteen years before we saw the true conclusion to the story that started when Othin challenged the shepherd swordsman in front of his friends. Maybe the story of the end needed to be told from Taryn’s perspective. But that doesn’t mean I should have skipped straight there. Right? What about all the interesting things that happened to Daven in between?
Some readers have suggested that The Dragonprince’s Heir is really Book Four (or Book One in a new trilogy about Taryn), and they’re going to hold out hope for a real Book Three.
I understand the frustration my readers might have felt thinking that this was the last story I would ever have to tell about Daven. I’m sad to think how few of those disappointed readers will ever make it here to read this. I wish I could have done a better job communicating my long-term intentions, but I will make what amends I can.
I promise you this:
I’m not finished with these characters.
It has always been my intention to develop a separate “Dragonriders of the Tower” series within the fifteen-year gap between The Dragonswarm and The Dragonprince’s Heir. You will get to see Daven wielding some of that incredible power he’d harnessed by the end of Book Two.
You will get to see Lareth convince Garrett Dain to risk his life in an attempt to reproduce Daven’s bonding experience. You will get to see the high-flying, action-packed adventures of the men and women who spend five years battling the dragonswarm until there is not a waking wyrm anywhere in the whole Ardain.
But I can promise this, too:
Daven’s war with the dragonswarm is not the most interesting story I have to tell.
It’s a good one, but it’s just a drop in the bucket. I also have stories to tell of the FirstKing (who built the nation Daven fought so hard to protect), and of the primitive people who first invited evil (and, with it, great magic) into the world.
And Daven’s sons are going to change the world. Among themselves, Taryn, Damion, and Isaiah shape much of the next thousand years (with the help of Caleb’s Order Knights, of course).
I’ve been dreaming up the stories of this world my whole life, and I’d be happy to spend the rest of it writing them down. Before the summer is over, I’ll have another Daven story for you (if only a novella).
This is not the end. It’s just a handful of beginnings. Thank you for joining me on the voyage.