the Divine Talisman
Book Three of the Legend of Asahiel
“Here it is, the grand finale, the culmination of a story more than 700,000 words long. My poor editor deserves a medal at the very least.
One of the problems with a tale of this size is the level of expectations that are built up along the way. The bigger the story, the bigger and more exciting the conclusion must be. Readers don’t want to have slogged through three books and several hundred pages only to feel duped by an ending that comes across as flat or contrived. The payoff must be rich and compelling, both visually and emotionally. Readers want surprise without trickery. They want to feel that the story has reached a complete and natural conclusion, while at the same time being left with a sense that the world and its surviving characters will continue to move forward after the last page has been turned. As an author, you try to leave your audience satisfied, yet wishing there was more.
Whether or not I’ve succeeded in that must obviously be left up to the individual reader. I can promise, however, that every aspect of this story has been meticulously planned from the beginning. For those who wish to go back and re-read the series, you’ll find numerous details established way back in the first book that resurface here in the end. Facts that might have previously seemed insignificant rise to the fore to play a major role in terms of plot or theme. A proper finish must have a proper opening, and vice versa. Story threads must tie off where they began. That is the nature of storytelling: a circular arc where setup meets payoff. Whatever else you may think, know that I have endeavored in every way to bring this story full circle, with the hope that more readers than not will agree.
Regardless, this is the third act, the last hurrah, my final chance to instill a sense of wonder and excitement in my readers’ hearts and minds. Knowing that, I’ve held nothing back, even when concerned that I might have pushed the envelope too far. To quote Publishers Weekly, ‘The gory final Legend of Asahiel novel (after 2006’s The Obsidian Key) brings this grim fantasy epic to conclusion with plenty of violence and magical mayhem.’ Obviously, this story is not for the faint of heart. It is in essence a holocaust tale, after all. It’s intended to be about real people who must fight their way through horrific circumstances—including several who perish in the attempt. Readers looking for rainbows and fairies and sunlit skies might want to take a closer look at the monstrous, acid-scarred dragon on the cover. Even fans of the first or second book in the series should be warned that matters most definitely worsen before they get better, and not to expect a fairy-tale ending.
In the final analysis, what matters most is that readers are entertained, and that the author remain true to his or her story. As I said before, a third act is all about meeting or exceeding established expectations. With that in mind, I hope readers will once again agree with the assessment by Publishers Weekly, in that: ‘The final chapter of this dense trilogy is not for new readers, but those familiar with previous events will be satisfied with its sneering villains, bloody battles, and decisive climax.'”