The Marrow King Rises
You didn’t think I’d be back, did you? This week, I’d like to talk about a project that has been nagging quietly at the back of my mind for years now. Read on…
Dark have been my dreams of late.— Theoden, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
I’ve taken a side-track from The Thaw this week, to work on the aforementioned years-dormant story (actually, now that I think about it, almost 4 years!). The story scares me, because it is a fantasy epic, and it has become a trope for authors to begin fantasy epics and never finish them. Plus, so so many publishing houses absolutely will not take fantasy submissions, which is likely completely justifiable. But that’s okay — I write not for the sole goal of being published, but rather for the joy of the craft (says the guy who’s never had a book published).
I’m calling the story The Marrow King Saga. If ye wish it, ye may read a summary of the first novel that lays the seed for the series. The gist of things is that long ago King Alorn Torgond lost his wife and three of his four children all at once to plague. King Torgond cursed the Dawn God and renounced his faith, and for this the Dawn God cursed the line of Torgond. Until the male line is extinguished, the heirs of Torgond will be damned to linger in the mortal realm as the Marrow King, a skeleton ruler of a kingdom of the dead, who is compelled to wage war against his own descendants. The Marrow King and his subjects are unable to pass on to the Light until the line of Torgond is extinguished and the final Marrow King is defeated.
The Emperor, from The Dance of Death, Hans Holbein
Of course, no one in the story knows that this Marrow King and his dread legions are great kings of old, beginning with Alorn Torgond. At least not at first.
Behold! The mighty line of Torgond with my annotations (I’m still not content with some of the names, and many places and people are still taking shape in the ether). You can see that the last living male heir of each generation becomes the new Marrow King, his predecessor fading into the dusk until the curse is broken. Causes of death are in square brackets, and the little crown indicates who becomes the Marrow King in each generation. This is one of the first things I made to make sense of the history of this world:
This sounds insane but I think I have enough story content based on that family tree for five novels in the series. The people of this story are like Númenóreans in a way — long lived — so each generation lasts around one hundred and fifty to two hundred years. Can you see why it scares me now? The story idea actually started with the character and Marrow King at the bottom of the family tree (King Jorm II Torgond and Alorn IV Torgond), then I worked back from there. I thought of a scene for the “last” book and tried to write it, but I realised I had absolutely no real idea about any of the characters or what was going on, which led me down the rabbit hole of exploring the story further instead of working on The Thaw.
I feel like I will be working on this novel series for many, many years to come. There are so many questions yet unasked and unanswered, about the people, the technology, the places, and all matter of other things. I don’t think my story will have any sort of “magic system” in the traditional sense, nor any sort of beastly monsters. It is impossible to avoid some tropes and cliches, but I want to make the setting as much mine as I possibly can. I want to do it right as well, which means not rushing into it before my skills have developed enough.
In the real world of progress on The Thaw, I only wrote a couple more pages longhand (not even typed up yet). I think I will be focusing on this more over the next week, because I really want to move the story to the next place. Once the current chapter in Pine Bluff is finished, I need to switch POV back to the home Island to see what’s going on with the situation there (the situation being a boatload of raiders landing and wrecking the joint). And after Pine Bluff for my Gardeners, Little Rock awaits. In the shower the other day I had another bolt of inspiration for a scene further down the path in the story, around Oklahoma, because I’d like to speed things up for my travellers. The only clue I will give is: Horses.
Reading of The Drawing of the Three is progressing steadily. I got to some more exciting parts of Eddie Dean’s story, and I’ve now been introduced to Odetta/Detta. She is an intriguing character and I’m excited to see how this pans out, though I do find King’s dialogue for Detta to be cringy (I suppose that’s probably the point). To be honest I just want more of Roland!
Well, this brings us to the end of another edition. Until next time, may you walk in the golden light of the Dawn God.
This post is the latest edition of my Dispatches series. You can find all the posts in the series here.