I just finished my fourth read-through of the complete Arc 3, and while I loved each book, the whole really become better than its parts if you constantly think of it as "one book" while you read. The last sections of Stormed Fortress relating to Athir and beyond open up several cans of worms which I hadn't notice before I'd read the teasers for Initiate's Trial.
I can't wait!
Brian - I can't wait either. Parts of Initiate's Trial definitely surprised me - in that, I had not foreseen how some of the material would fit itself together.
Your take on the sum of Arc III being better than its parts - that is SO definitely true.
Being 'contemporary' with the author as the stuff gets written means that you see it piecemeal - it works so much better as 'one fabrication' - definitely hope the word spreads about this - because not just for Stormed Fortress, but arc to arc, the stakes continue to build.
Sometimes I think I did not do myself a favor by avoiding the cheap shot cliffhanger; people find it too convenient to pause. I still prefer that each book has a pause point; but it is a complete delight EVERY TIME a reader like you notices the whole sweep working as one story. That is the design of a longform work, and the best of those change contour the more you look into them in a re-read.
Janny, that brings up a craft question -- I can't imagine how much courage it took to decide that an earlier part, like Fugitive Prince, was ready to be released into the wild while knowing that it would become frozen as-is, and you'd never be able to tweak it later on if the shape of the Arc had to change. Looking back, are there sections you would have shortened, lengthened, changed the focus of, etc, now that the entire Arc is complete?
For example, one of the triplets in Grand Conspiracy describes Asandir and Eckracken's grimward, and then this scene repeats in more detail early in Peril's Gate. Since you take great care not to do "meanwhile" scenes or jump around in time, I always figured that the 2nd scene was inserted to refresh readers' memories about who Asandir was and what he was up to!
Brian, that is the only bit I would shift - grin...that repeat 'scene' happened because of the decision to split Grand Conspiracy off into a separate volume (for obvious length reasons)....the scene later got written out in full when I 'retrenched' the opening of Peril's Gate to stand alone - and because the prior book was already released, as you pointed out, there was no going back to fix the detail.
Caught in the act; and yes - grin - it is HARD to foresee all the impacts as each book must go out as is; and looking backwards and forwards in the series timeline and the historical timeline - to know everything was in place.
There were exactly two places that irritated me: one was a 'mention' of a Sorcerer dealing with necromancy in Mistwraith (cut by edit;) that I wish had remained in place. Ships/Warhost had ONE mention total, and if I had known the book would be split (without time to revise) I'd have thought to add this in; don't like that a MAJOR later plot point wasn't slid in there somewhere.
But on the whole, these are minor things. The big picture - I did handle most everything.
Would I do anything differently now?
Answer: I don't know.
There are LAYERS to these books that NOBODY yet has noticed; areas that will unveil in arc IV and V with more strength. What may (still) seem as window dressing will then show itself to be more than that.
After the series is said and done, your question might raise other points - who knows? I am doing EVERYTHING possible to see that it doesn't...part of why the polish of this draft is so meticulous.
I would say of any author embarking on a longform work in today's marketplace - it IS a baldfaced act of courage and faith. You just have to walk out there - knowing - that by the time you finish everything will have changed. The industry, the fads, the readers....all that.
One might say I'm glad (now) that I didn't know any better. grin.
Thanks for all your hard work Janny. This series is so obviously well planned and the fact that it hangs together so neatly and the clues are planted so early absolutely makes it a joy to read (and re-read).