Story behind Antiagon Fire by L E Modesitt Jr - The Antiagon Fire That Almost Wasn’t

Antiagon Fire wasn’t meant to be, at least not the way it turned out.After I’d finished the first three books in The Imager Portfolio [Imager, Imager’s Challenge, and Imager’s Intrigue], which featured Rhennthyl, a portrait artist turned imager in a country with both imaging magic and a technology roughly analogous to 1850s France, I kept wondering at the pre-history of Solidar and Terahnar.Even though I’d sketched out the history of roughly 500 years prior to Imager, with hints of a time even before that, I couldn’t help wanting to develop the events that made Solidar a continent nation so different from all the other lands on Terahnar.

David Hartwell, my long-time and often long-suffering editor, didn’t have any problem with my continuing to write Imager Portfolio books, and I set out to write the first of the three books about Quaeryt that I had planned for the prequel story arc. When I finished Scholar, like any diligent author, I sent it off to my editor and got to work on Princeps, the second book about Quaeryt.I was perhaps halfway through the first draft when something that should have been obvious struck me – there was absolutely no way that the story I was telling would fit inside three books, even books of the length that I write.But I’m stubborn, and I kept writing.Except… when I finished Princeps, it was clear that I couldn’t possibly finish the story in three books.

Now, readers have to understand, particularly readers who are not familiar with my work, that out of the sixty books I had written at that time I had NEVER written more than three books about a single character. I’d always prided myself on not writing an endless series about a single character.Lengthy series, yes, but not about one character.Like it or not, though, I had to face facts.So I called up my editor and said, “David, I have a problem. It’s going to take two more books to finish Quaeryt’s story.Those will be Subcommander [later re-titled to Imager’s Battalion] and Rex Regis.”

His only real question was, “Will they be good books?”I gambled and said, “They’ll be good books.”That’s a gamble because, no matter what any writer says, declaring the quality of two books you haven’t written is either arrogance or a gamble, if not both.He said, “Then I don’t see the problem.”

So I went ahead and wrote Subcommander, and the Tor sales department informed us both that the title was too close to that of a recent Recluce book [Arm-Commander].So I re-titled it toImager’s Battalion. Unfortunately or fortunately, just as Quaeryt finds out in the slog up the Aluse River to Variana, and the battle for the capital city of Bovaria, everything worth doing takes longer and more effort than you thought likely or possible.And that meant I had to call David once more and tell him that, again, I’d miscalculated, and that there would be five books instead of four.Instead of the appalled silence I expected, he just laughed, but he wouldn’t explain why.I suspect he was enjoying the fact that the author who had prided himself in limiting himself to three books about a single character was going to have to commit quintology.

And that’s how Antiagon Fire came to be… and I did manage to keep Quaeryt’s story to five books, of which the forthcoming Rex Regis [January 2014] is indeed the last.

L.E. Modesitt Jr
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