The story behind Cyador's Heirs by L. E. Modesitt

All too often in fantasy and even history, authors write and readers read about either the rise or fall of great empires… or about what happens in great empires. But what happens after the fall of a great empire?  There’s an unspoken assumption of total chaos and a lack of any continuity.  But is that really so? In the Saga of Recluce, one of the greatest empires is that of Cyador, created by colonists from the Rational Stars marooned not just on a strange planet, but in an entirely different universe.  Yet they built a powerful empire, governed from Cyad, the City of Light, the most glorious metropolis that ever graced the planet. For nearly 800 years, the holders of the Malachite Throne have ruled the west of Candar, and then, literally in a single day, Cyador falls, as told in The Chaos Balance

Were there any survivors?  Who were they?  What happened to them?  Do they have any impact on the future of the world of Recluce?  Those are questions I wanted to answer, and those answers, or at least some of them, lie in Cyador’s Heirs and in Heritage of Cyador, which will be published this coming November. Because I did not write the Saga of Recluce in chronological order, readers who have read all the books published so far know that there is a link between Cyador and the later Empire of Hamor, located on an entirely different continent, but there are only hints, pieces of a great historical puzzle, such as the fact that the legal code of Hamor is remarkably similar in many respects to that of Cyador.  And then there is the ring worn by an Emperor of Cyador that is gifted, centuries later, to the son of a mage-guard of Hamor… or the question of the golden chains… or the source of shimmercloth.

One of my other reasons for writing these two books, and indeed, for writing the entire Saga of Recluce in the way that I have, is that too many fantasy empires and kingdoms exist in a historical void.  Oh, if the writer is good, and most do their homework, the structure is sound and the empire would work, at least in the way the writer intended. But few ask the question of how that empire came to be, how in functioned and impacted the world, how it declined and what that meant, and what happened after that. Each Recluce book tells a story, one about people, what happened to them, who triumphed and who failed, and why, but each is set in a far larger historical context, and each culture and land has its heroes and villains, and more than a few times, who is villain and who is hero is determined by the viewpoint of who is telling the tale – even when the facts of what happened are exactly the same.

In the Recluce Saga, I am telling history not from the top down, but from the bottom up.  Even when a character is well-connected, talented, or has a position in society, he or she only knows, and the reader only sees what that character knows or can discover.  Every book in the saga has events and facts that relate to other times, places, and events… because in real life, that’s the way it is, and that’s the way I try to tell it in my fiction. So, while a historian might see Lerial as the second son of the Duke, and therefore privileged, the reader gets to know him as the younger brother who struggles not to get black and blue in sparring with his older brother, as the young man with unruly red hair and freckles, and as a man whose opportunities in love and marriage will always be considered after those of his older brother.

Cyador’s Heirs begins with the meeting of a red-headed boy with a girl several years younger in a town that did not exist fifteen years earlier, a town clawed from barren land purchased by… but for the details, you’ll have to read the book.   

L. E. Modesitt
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