Why You Should Consider Writing a Trilogy, by Tony Riches

Why You Should Consider Writing a Trilogy

by Tony Riches

Tony Riches

For most writers, completing one book would seem more than enough of an achievement, so why would anyone make a commitment to writing three?  I was reading Conn Iggulden’s impressive Wars of the Roses trilogy, when the answer occurred to me.

There are real benefits of tackling any story as a trilogy and now I’ve written one I’m convinced it’s something any novelist should consider. The scope of a trilogy offers writers a liberating sense of space and freedom, as ideas hinted at in the first book can be developed and explored over the rest. This means the writer has space to explore the complexity of relationships that evolve over time, as well as the shifting social, political and economic context over years – or even generations, offering readers a more ‘immersive’ experience.

There are also practical and commercial considerations. If you follow the fashion for longer books, you have one opportunity to sell it and the promotion can only begin once it’s available for pre-order. I was able to promote book one of my Tudor trilogy while writing book two (and it became a best-seller in the UK, US and Australia.)  Readers began contacting me to ask when the next book would be available and I soon built an international reader base for the trilogy.

Similarly, although each book works as a ‘stand-alone’, I’ve seen evidence in my sales that even people who read them in the wrong order tend to buy the others. I also hadn’t realised Amazon (and other retailers) are happy to promote and market a trilogy (or any series) as a discounted single purchase, which is good value for readers and means your books are more likely to be ‘discovered’.

Finally, a trilogy offers a framework for developing wok on an ‘epic’ scale. In my case, I realised there were countless novels about the court of King Henry VIII and his six wives, yet I could find almost nothing about the early Tudors who founded the dynasty. The idea for The Tudor Trilogy was that King Henry VIII’s father could be born in book one, ‘come of age’ in book two, and rule England in book three, so there would be plenty of scope to explore his life and times.

The first book of the trilogy was my fourth novel, so I had a good idea about the structure. In book one, OWEN, a Welsh servant of Queen Catherine of Valois, the lonely widow of King Henry V, falls in love with her and they marry in secret. Their eldest son Edmund Tudor marries the thirteen year-old heiress Lady Margaret Beaufort, and fathers a child with her to secure her inheritance. The birth of her son, Henry, nearly kills her, and when her husband dies mysteriously, his younger brother Jasper Tudor swears to protect them.

In book two, JASPER, they flee to exile in Brittany and plan to one day return and make Henry King of England. King Richard III has taken the throne and has a powerful army of thousands – while Jasper and Henry have nothing. Even the clothes they wear are paid for by the Duke of Brittany. So how can they possibly invade England and defeat King Richard at the Battle of Bosworth?

In the final book of the trilogy, HENRY, I explore how he brought peace to England by marrying Elizabeth of York, the beautiful daughter of his enemy, King Edward IV. The Tudor trilogy offers me the scope and depth to help readers understand how Henry’s second son became King Henry VIII, the tyrant who transformed the history of England forever.

About the Author

Tony RichesTony Riches is a full time author of best-selling historical fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time. For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and website www.tonyriches.com and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.  The Tudor Trilogy is available on Amazon UK  Amazon US and Amazon AU

Book Review: Killer of Kings, by Matthew Harffy

Book Review: Killer of Kings

by Matthew Harffy

AD 636. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical thriller and the fourth instalment in The Bernicia Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell.

Beobrand has land, men and riches. He should be content. And yet he cannot find peace until his enemies are food for the ravens. But before Beobrand can embark on his bloodfeud, King Oswald orders him southward, to escort holy men bearing sacred relics.

When Penda of Mercia marches a warhost into the southern kingdoms, Beobrand and his men are thrown into the midst of the conflict. Beobrand soon finds himself fighting for his life and his honour.

In the chaos that grips the south, dark secrets are exposed, bringing into question much that Beobrand had believed true. Can he unearth the answers and exact the vengeance he craves? Or will the blood-price prove too high, even for a warrior of his battle-fame and skill?

 

By the time an author has put out a series of books that I have fallen in love with, totally buying into it as a reader, I have every expectation that the next book in the series will not disappoint.  It would take a lot for me not to love something that continues a saga already having a life of its own within the halls of my imagination.  While I can think of one or two series that have declined over its too-long-lived life, the Bernicia Chronicles is certainly not one of these series!

Killer of Kings is book four in Matthew Harffy’s Bernicia Chronicles, and this newest addition is every bit as enjoyable as the first three.  Because I’ve enjoyed the series as a whole, it is very difficult for me to separate this book out as an “individual” apart from the rest; rather I see it as one more step in the progression of Beobrand’s longer journey.

Only just recently home from another adventure, Beobrand  is sent south again on yet another errand for his king.  Along the way certain happenings prick his moral code, forcing him into action, and entrapping him in a maelstrom of swirling political currents not of his making.  He becomes a victim of manipulation, used by those who know his value as a warrior.

His strength of character is tested, and in this he gains some new ground.  New alliances are made, troubles seem to be sorted, and Beobrand thinks he will soon be able to head home to sort out his lingering personal issues.  Things seem to be going Beobrand’s way.  And then disaster strikes.

This section of the book climaxes with a bloody and brutal battle, probably the bloodiest Harffy has penned yet.  The results of this battle set up the next part of the book, sending Beobrand careening off down a dark path where the reader is left to question whether or not he can salvage the pieces and get back to normal life.

Devastated by what he thinks is the decimation of his band of most loyal gesithas, Beobrand hits bottom, once again questioning his worthiness and abilities as a leader of men.  This is a familiar trap for him, and his bleak reverie is certainly understandable considering what he just went through.  In his era, integrity was solidly tied to one’s ability to provide and protect.  In this way, Beobrand thinks himself a failure because he his men to be lost.  A victim of PTSD?  Perhaps.

Woven throughout Beobrand’s story is the continuing struggle of Beobrand’s love interest, Reaghan, to be accepted into the circle of family, friendship, and community that is Ubbanford, Beobrand’s home.  A former Pictish slave rescued by Beobrand, Reaghan finds herself in uncharted territory as lady of the manor in a very unofficial way.  This role has won her few friends and an enemy who plots with one of Beobrand’s oldest enemies to find resolution, one way or the other.  Meanwhile Beobrand finds a resolution of his own regarding one of the longest running plot mysteries since series’ onset.  The revelation is sudden yet highly rewarding.

While some readers might find the slowed pace of the second half of the book in terms of the sheer action to be disappointing, I find it the most rewarding,  for it’s in this second half that many threads are woven together, creating a satisfying picture of the events leading up to the place Beobrand was at the beginning of the series.  Perhaps this one word — satisfaction — is the best way to describe how I felt about this book as a whole.

The heart of The Bernicia Chronicles as far as I’m concerned, is the development of Beobrand’s character.  It is this aspect more than any other which draws me back time and time again.  Harffy does an excellent job in Killer of Kings growing and evolving Beobrand, making him progress in some areas while he continuously falters in others.

I honestly struggled to find anything new for which to praise this fantastic author.  Matthew Harffy has created a conceivable and authentic world firmly set in the distant past, and so far his track record is unblemished.  Beobrand and his faithful confrere of gesithas have solidly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, deserving to be counted amongst the best that historical fiction has to offer.

 

About Matthew Harffy

Matthew grew up in Northumberland where the rugged terrain, ruined castles and rocky coastline had a huge impact on him He now lives in Wiltshire, England, with his wife and their two daughters.

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