Two Things to Speak On

First off, I’ve started putting up Character Profiles for major characters. I will warn that some of this could be considered spoilers, and as I add characters that appear later in the books, the chances of spoilers skyrockets. So proceed down the link with caution.

I’ve also noticed something common in reviews, of at least a few people stating they want to see more of Phynis and Sistina, and have less time spent on other characters. I hear what you’re saying, and want to take a moment to explain why I chose the storytelling route I did.

The vast difference between most books I’ve read and Ancient Ruins is that Sistina is a fortress. She’s immobile, and unlike most heroes she doesn’t move around. This means that if I want to avoid events from coming literally out of nowhere, I have to put in other perspectives. However, it’s also quite possible and likely that I went overboard on the other viewpoints. In Spells of Old I am going to attempt to fix that, which means that I’m going to have to go back and go into more depth about Sistina and Phynis. I’m not going to remove what I’ve written in Ancient Ruins, nor am I going to cut back on letting people see what’s happening in the world around Sistina’s Dungeon (I have to come up with a better name than that), but I’ll try to put more in to help bring my two favorite characters into sharper perspective.

Finally, this story belongs to Sistina. It was Sistina who sneaked up on me when I was preparing for Nanowrimo 2016, interrupted my planning for a historical fantasy novel, and took my brain hostage until I caved and began to write for her. This is the story of Sistina, Phynis, and any lovers they choose to take. Everything else is secondary to me.

And yes, I put it in the Lesbian Fantasy category for a reason. Neither of them are going to end up in a relationship with a guy.

16 thoughts on “Two Things to Speak On

  1. I completely understand why you added the other perspectives but I do agree you might have gone a tad overboard. Otherwise I really enjoyed the book!! I can’t wait for Spells of Old!!!!!


  2. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I realized not long ago that some people may interpret what I wrote as editing Ancient Ruins to add additional content, but I’m not going to be doing that.

    Spells of Old is progressing reasonably well thus far. I hit a rough patch where I had severe writers block for two days, but I got past it, and am trundling along the storyline. My personal hope is to have it out in April or May, and I’ve already commissioned the artwork for the cover.

    All that aside, congratulations on being the first comment on my site! Personally I’m antsy as heck about the entire publication, as I’ve gotten more than 10 times the attention I expected for a first-time author. But until I start getting flooded with questions, I am more than willing to answer any that are posed to me.


  3. Can I vote for Sistina’s Tomb as the name of the dungeon?

    I enjoyed the worldbuilding, as the risk with dungeon novels is that they can end up only lightly touching on the outside world, which can give a disjointed scale of relative power. In this one, Sistina’s seemingly overwhelming power has a match in the broader scale, even though those lines aren’t crossing yet.

    I only see one glaring gap from the first book that I hope will be resolved in the second. I need to reread a couple of sections to make sure I didn’t miss anything.


  4. I have to say that I’m curious what you saw as a gap in Ancient Ruins. The last thing I want to do is to accidentally miss resolving a major plot point!

    I’ll also freely admit that Sistina is absurdly powerful. I didn’t have a good way to reference it in the book, but she was actually growing as a Dungeon for the better part of a millennium before being discovered. What that means is somewhat addressed in Spells of Old, but no one (including Sistina) is certain how old she is. Add to that the fact Sistina had a previous life of immense power, and that she knows how to use that power…and it helps explain why she’s more potent than a normal genius loci.


  5. Spoilers for those who haven’t reached the end…

    My concern is that the 7 priestesses, now that they are free, do not seem at all concerned about their temple and goddess. The personality rewrite was explained, but except for the names I did not see where they lost their old memories to the point where they would completely forget about the events at the temple (or where they were ordered to forget). Also, the elves who are leaving should certainly have enough time to talk to the priestesses and realize something major happened.

    I understood the passing of centuries while she was growing, and the dimensions of her main cavern vs. her growth certainly indicated the passage of time and expansion once the adventurers showed up and got concerned about the number of rooms. I’m waiting for the adventurers to meet Sistina (or Phynis or Lily) and realize how absurd this situation is.

    I’m also hoping for a positive Sina/Daniel resolution, as those characters, while secondary, were enjoyable.


  6. Ah! I will state that your first concern is addressed in Chapter 2 of Spells of Old. Not saying anything more there.

    As for the rest, I believe you’ll enjoy the story as it moves forward.


  7. I have to say I’m a bit wary of letting Sistina be mobile. I absolutely loved the dynamic that she has all of the power of an angry goddess but she is nearly impotent to anything a few feet beyond her domain. While it’s an odd state of affairs, it’s one that is interesting. I fear letting Sistina move about as she pleases will upend any semblance of balance. But it’s your story and I’m certainly game for whatever you cook up.

    As for a name for her dungeon, my vote is for something light-hearted like Sanctuary or Garden. While the foundation of the dungeon was Sistina the First’s tomb and the ruins of an Elven kingdom, it seems almost… disrespectful to name a place of such beauty, a place where slaves find a freedom of sorts from their shackles, with such a gloomy name as tomb, ruin, or dungeon.


  8. An excellent addition to the genre!! Personally I am concerned about the boy o Medaea, the goddess. It seems that she sleeps and nothing they do to her change her state of unconscious. I think that she may be linked to Sistina? Is the body without the soul ? Maybe that soul is in the three, meaning the body of Sistina did not die when the soul was withdrawn and imprisoned as she was a demon? I hope you shed some light in the next book.


  9. The only instance in which Sistina could become mobile would be in the aspect of a floating mountain with her at the center. It would NOT be fast, and I have no intention of letting that happen. It also would rather dramatically weaken her due to the sheer amount of mana it would take to keep a mountain mobile. Sistina is powerful enough as it is. My personal opinion, at least.

    As to the name, yeah…I think I have one in mind. Not the best name in the world, but Sistina doesn’t actually have the best naming sense in the world. It’s an aspect of her forgotten history which I find amusing. Now back to replying to a few other questions, then writing on the book!


  10. Medaea has a crucial role to play in the entire storyline, and I won’t spoil it. But yes, I’m shedding light on things. I’m hoping to actually find a point to explain Sistina’s full history, but I’m not sure it’ll come up in the full story. I will say that part of it addresses why Sistina has such incredible knowledge of magic, almost instinctively.


  11. What if she takes form in a body? We have seen that she can change forms and has some influence over souls. If, for example , she inhabits the body of the goddess or some other demon?


  12. That actually wouldn’t work in her case. In this case, her soul is extremely thoroughly tied to her tree. The reasons for that are touched on in Spells of Old.

    And while it wasn’t directly addressed in Ancient Ruins, I actually put very firm limitations on what she can do in her physical body, especially if it leaves her domain. If Sistina were to, say, have her body to meander up to Sifaren’s capital, Vara’Sel, she could do so. However, once she leaves the dungeon, whatever mana she’s imbued into the body is ALL she has to call on, it doesn’t regenerate and she can’t restore it. Also, if she ‘leaves’ the body, since it’s not in her domain she can’t re-enter it. So she’d have to inhabit it for the entire trip both ways, leaving the dungeon effectively running on its own.


  13. My vote goes for Sistinas’s Rest.

    As for the alternating PoV, I quite liked the ones that were directly related to Sistina, such as the adventurer’s and the city building elf, but had very little patience for the Adjudicator and the Enforcer. I had to grit my teeth to get through the whole capture the god side story and even skipped large parts of it, as the long explanations of the capture didn’t interest me. I’d rather have read about what happened from the priestess, as a flashback, in book 2, when Sistina and the princess sit down to talk to them.

    I think the only bad PoV are the ones not directly tied to Sistina at the present – not future – as it makes the book feel like an ensemble novel instead of one about Sistina.

    P.S.: I quite liked how your villains are reasonable instead of just killing any minion who makes a mistake.


  14. After considering, I can understand why you didn’t have as much patience for Jared and Serel. Sistina and Phynis are the main characters, after all, and no matter how nice Jared may be at times, he’s a villain and bad guy.

    But the thing for me is that it’s a vital part of the over-arching plot that goes to book 3, Halls of Power. I don’t want things coming out of nowhere, so I put in the explanation.

    And yeah…I’ve never understood why a leader who kills minions for mistakes they couldn’t help keeps their position. Sure, there’s going to be the occasional bad apple, but I find it extremely hard to write those characters myself.


  15. Yes, that’s pretty much it. It’s a personal prejudice in the end, not a problem with your novel, or something that necessarily needs to be fixed. I’d be happy if there was less of it, but I understand why you needed to write them and that many people will actually like those PoV.

    You might want to take a look at the Evil Overlord List, which has one hundred examples of stupid things that villains do in novels. You’ve already done number 32 for example.


  16. Agreed there. I’m actually trying to do a little less of it in Spells of Old. We’ll see how to go about it.

    And I actually have read the Evil Overlord list! I find it quite entertaining, and the bad guys (or girls) either know that something on the list is stupid, or think they’re too smart to get bitten in the arse by it. In my opinion, it’s what makes sense for the character…which is, in all honesty, why I had to re-do the outline the other day.

    …I am shutting up now. I just may be a compulsive explainer.


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