At the end of my last (rather crabby entry), I mentioned that I should probably try and write something more interesting in this post. Well, here it is and… well, I hope I can say something of interest… to someone.

Okay. With that said, let’s get started.

The first novel I published, The Stones Will Tell was originally titled A Hero for Ryl.

The volume was started in 1978 and after four chapters, I put it away on a shelf. It seemed to be directionless. After a few months, I pulled it down again and started at an earlier part of the timeline for the story, but again it stalled and was returned to the shelf.

Four years later, I brought it down and dusted it off. I had come across a new idea which would take the story in a different direction. And the change was really intriguing: what if the people in this fantasy land had crystals growing out of their foreheads? And what if these crystals were generally different from one person to the next in terms of color, shape, and clarity? And what if each person had a second such crystal growing from their sternum, or breastbone?

girl with crystalsman with crystals

It was a fascinating concept and became the basis for the story in that the wizards thought the crystals would somehow lead them to the anticipated “hero”. The reasoning behind this being that earlier heroes in history had a radically new feature in their crystals that set them aside from the rest of “humanity”.

The first hero had the first set of crystals that saw the same color in both of his crystals. The next hero had crystals that were alike in cut (i.e. shape). The third had the first crystals that had clarity, without disruptions in the crystals themselves.

The wizards are certain the stones of the next hero must be different as well – though they have no idea what the change must be.

The task at finding the hero is made more difficult by the political situation facing Ryl at this juncture: five neighboring empires are trying to gain control of the country and, by extension, control of this forthcoming hero. And there are power struggles within Ryl itself as the recent king has died without a viable heir. Two various factions have presented claimants and the Regent of the nation discovers both of them are frauds.

As there are so many differing political groups vying for power in the volume – the wizards, the five emperors, the groups behind the two pretenders to the throne, the communal Brotherhood and their splinter group called “the renegades”, as well as the undergound freedom movements in the Ryllian territories of Yevas and Tenichta… well, there is simply too much political intrigue for the volume to resemble the standardized “quest for the hero” type of story. One could call it a novel of political intrigue encased in a fantasy setting.

But though much of the political intrigues were included in the first outline, and the second, the addition of the stones present in every player changed the landscape for the novel. First off, you will notice no character in the volume wears any sort of jewelry. It may seem a small thing but why would anyone feel the need to wear jewels when they already have a couple of large stones growing out of themselves?

Another point was that in the original version, I really stirred up the pot by having even more groups vying for control of one area or another. The first readers said it was too confusing so I had to rewrite it with fewer groups. And that was tough!

Several of the early readers also questioned where the wizards came from and suggested I write a prequel volume. Hence the name change of this volume. Now the small series is entitled “A Hero for Ryl” and it looks like it will be at least one other volume and perhaps a third.

Fortunately, one of those volumes will likely include the material I first wrote as the beginning of the tale before I pushed the starting point of the final volume back until just a year or two before the climax.

It has been a marvelous adventure outlining the characters and the interactions between all the power groups struggling for dominance. And my favorite character is the very ancient Duke of Yenthorol, the primary figure in the piece. His long life keeps him active in this trying time although he should be preparing to meet his maker. His energy seems boundless, though his senility comes into play a few times.

Even so that he can use that for an excuse when propriety demands an out.

Anyway, that is how the story came about and why it took so damned long to write it.

Hopefully the prequels will not take thirty years to finish.