A war between gods. A kingdom in chains. And two friends, formerly united by oaths of honor and loyalty, now face each other across the ruins of the city they once fought to save. Klaxus shudders, and the Black Rift opens…
Today sees the release of “The Sulphur Citadel”, the eighth and final installment of The Black Rift of Klaxus series. I haven’t talked much about this, for reasons. But, given that the final chapter is out, and Gav Thorpe and Guy Haley seem to be making this a thing, I figured it was time. I mean, given my last commission statement, somebody is obviously buying them, so I might as well, right?
Anyway, this is, as far as I know, the first full-length Age of Sigmar novel to be commissioned, way back early last year. Or it was, before I was asked to convert it into eight individual installments, for immediate serialization. If you’ve never experienced firsthand the joy of chopping a mostly finished manuscript up into eight roughly equivalent chunks on a tight deadline, may I recommend not trying to do it on the fly, like I did. Finish the whole thing first and then break out the carving knife.
Trust me, it’ll save you (and your editor) money on paracetamol, if nothing else.
While I’m fairly happy with the end result (insofar as I’m happy with *anything* I’ve written), it doesn’t flow quite as smoothly as I’d like. It’s not quite a set of eight individual stories, or eight chapters in a serial, but a little of both. I knew the whole thing was going to be collected at some point, so I wanted to keep as much of the original flow intact as possible, but the need to divide it into 10K chunks necessitated rearranging the plot beats a fair bit. I hope I succeeded, but I’ll leave it up to you, the reader, to judge.
In retrospect, I probably could’ve simplified the whole deal and just kept it to two static points of view per installment (Orius Adamantine and Anhur, the Scarlet Lord, natch, as they’re the main characters), but then we wouldn’t have gotten those oh-so special moments with characters like Kretch Warpfang, Baron Aceteryx, Redjaw the Resplendent or Kratus the Silent.
As it was, I still left about 15,000 words of character interaction and dialogue (including, like, two really great joke-bits, one of which I managed to recycle for Legends of the Age of Sigmar: Skaven Pestilens) on the cutting room floor. This was necessary in order to quicken the overall pace and spread the action out as evenly as possible over all eight installments. Initially, there were two full installments out of the eight that were almost nothing but characters talking to one another. Great in a book, but bad in a serial.
None of what got cut was important, mind…it was all just ‘bits of business’, as my good chum, Derrick Ferguson, calls it. Just random bits of dialogue, meant to flesh out the side characters a bit more than they ended up being, and explore some of the thruways of the new lore.
That was, to my mind, the goal of this book. To show just how vast the mortal realms are, and just what’s at stake, as the Stormcast Eternals fight to free these lands and their peoples from the servants of the Ruinous Powers. To add some heft to the World-That-Is, and show that it’s got as many potential characters and stories as the World-That-Was (Who are the Furnace Kings? What, exactly, were the Steam Ramparts?). I suspect I overegged the pudding in a few spots, but…eh. Better too many ideas than too few, right?
That said, I doubt I’ll revist any of the characters herein. At least not any time soon. I mean, not unless the editors okay my Kretch Warpfang/Archfumigant Kruk spinoff, Rats A-Poppin’. It’s a musical comedy, involving a hidden temple inside a giant worm, a magmadroth full of explosives and one very unlucky Stormcast Eternal.
Too, if you’ve been waiting for a print version to dive into The Black Rift of Klaxus, I suspect there’s one on the way fairly soon. More on that later, though.