the Author

The Sun Sword & Skirmish

Posted in DAW, Essalieyan, writing.

In the comments on my State of the Writing post, a couple of ques­tions have come up, in part because I mentioned my hope of writing a small after­ward to House Name which essen­tially says: And now, please read The Sun Sword.

Carol Duffy said: I guess my ques­tion would be: *is* it actu­ally neces­sary, as opposed to desir­able? Or, put another way, “Are you giving your­self enough credit?” While I read the Hunters books before reading The Sun Sword, and they certainly added a lot to the latter books, I wouldn’t say they were neces­sary to under­standing them. You did a wonderful job of keeping “new” readers up to speed if they hadn’t read the first two.

I think it’s neces­sary, in part because the book takes place on the time-line heels of, and actu­ally during the final novel of the six. I’d initially thought that if I kept view­points to the den and the people who did not, in fact, head through the Stone Deep­ings to the heart of the Voyani encamp­ment, I would be able to fill in what had happened during those missing months, in a way that would make it rele­vant to the den. While this can work, it can’t work for every­thing that occurred, and some of what did occur in the South has become rele­vant now.  In part because of Adam, in part because of Celle­riant and the Winter King, and in part because of some of the events that occur.

Genna Warner said: I just recently started reading the West novels. I started with the advice on this website and read Hidden City, City of Night, then read Hunters Oath and Hunters Death. Then got all 6 Sun Sword books to read (Im starting the third book now), but wondered if I should have waited until after reading House Name to actu­ally read the Sun Sword books. Now Im sort-of wishing I had waited. Some people say read the books in the order the author wrote them, but I’m not really one of them. I like (if at all possible) to read a story in chrono­log­ical order. Bouncing back and forth in time can give me a bit of a headache. But since I have started the series, I can’t put it down. It has made working a bit hard actu­ally, I would rather be reading. :)

First: Thank you :). I’m never quite sure that people who like the West books will like the Sagara books, and vice versa — because I’ve heard from West readers who haven’t cared for the Cast books, and also Sagara readers who haven’t been able to get through the West ones.

House Name and Hunter’s Death cover the same period, from different view­points. Much of HD is missing from HN because the Hunters are only barely present as far as either Jewel or the den is concerned. Much of HN deals with Teller, Finch, Arann, Angel (signif­i­cant Angel things), Carver. The order that you read those in isn’t as impor­tant — but reading Hunter’s Death before City of Night might have been. I often read the endings of books before I’ve finished, so I’m not perhaps as sensi­tive to spoiler and surprise as other readers are, which used to really annoy my first editor :D. (“Michelle, if you were meant to read that first, don’t you think it would have been called CHAPTER ONE?”)

But Sun Sword will give you every­thing you need to know before you start Skir­mish. In some ways, it will give you more. There are events scat­tered throughout the South, from Shining Court onward, that come into play. Those events in the contexts of the novels in which they appeared were part of the story or arc of the novel without being the whole novel; they might have seemed amusing or impor­tant but not entirely significant.

But even the prologue of Skir­mish makes refer­ence to the last part of the Aver­alaan thread in Sun Sword, although admit­tedly, that’s one thing that I don’t think a new reader would founder on.

And last, Aaron said: I think Michelle is just saying that she wants you to read the Sun Sword series before ‘Skir­mish’, because there will be plot spoilers for Sun Sword in the conclu­sion of the House war. I don’t think this will be a major issue, any more than Rath’s story­line was an issue between ‘Hunter’s Death’ and ‘City of Night’ – but everyone is different.

Sadly, while I wish this were entirely accu­rate, it’s isn’t quite. Or at least, I think it’s not — the jury is, of course, out until you’ve all read Skir­mish. There are no plot spoilers for Sun Sword yet that would, I think, spoil Sun Sword, but there’s one discus­sion of import that has no rele­vance — or makes no sense — if you haven’t (I think) read them (I’m trying hard to avoid being specific about which book in the Sun Sword because people are spoiler sensi­tive). Yes, the end of Sun Sword is likely to be spoiled before House War, the final book, is done, because by that point, the time-lines should be even again.

20 Responses to The Sun Sword & Skirmish

  1. Genna Warner says:

    You are most welcome. It is your writing style that appeals to me so I enjoy your work no matter which name you put on the book. Your writing has a rhythm to it and a soft­ness that makes reading 700+ pages a joy. And of course the story line is richly done and inter­esting to read. Although I think you could be talking about the color of paint on the walls and I would enjoy it no matter what.

    But at least it sounds like I won’t be kicking myself for reading House Name after the Sun Sword books. Because I do wonder what happened to Jewel in the 16 years from the end of Hunter’s Death to the Broken Crown.

  2. »I’m never quite sure that people who like the West books will like the Sagara books, and vice versa

    I’m another Sagara to West reader, and I too followed the Hidden City > City of Night > Hunter’s Oath > Hunter’s Death path (on your recom­men­da­tion at Conflu­ence). I do think it’s prob­ably the best way for Sagara readers to tackle the West books if they’re not big readers of epic fantasy. While Hidden City has a different writing style than the Cast books, it’s much closer to that style than Hunter’s Oath is. The two House War books make a nice style bridge between the Cast books and the earlier West books.

    Not that I analyze these things. At all. *cough*

    I’m just happy that House Name comes out in January and that I can catch up by reading the Sun Sword books after it. (Not that spoilers bother me at all. I also read the ends of books before I finish.) I finally grad­uate from grad school in Jan., and I’ll have the time to read for plea­sure again. I won’t be scram­bling to catch up when Skir­mish comes out.

  3. Mary Allen says:

    I have read every­thing I can find that you have written. Love, love, love all but couldn’t get into Into the Dark Lands. Never found the other three books in the series but did like and read Spirit Ring(I think that was the title). I have read all the Cast books atleast twice. Hidden City twice — first book I read, then the Sun Sword books and the Hunter books. Read City of Night and am anxious for the rest of the story. I still want to know more about Anya. I really wish you wrote faster or that there was a way to get copies of your short stories. I like your writing style and am truly amazed at your ability to create names for your char­ac­ters. I really appre­ciate the Dramatis Personae in the front of the SS books as it helps keep me on track between books on who is who. Thanks for hours of enjoyment.

  4. Emily says:

    Mary Allen, it took me several tries to get into Into the Dark Lands as well, but it was well worth it once I did, and now that series is one of my favorites (Ben Bella, I think is the name, will send the books at a reason­able price, I don’t think you can get them through Amazon any more — I don’t know if they have copies sitting around or if they reprint on demand).

    I read the Hunter books, then the Sun Sword books, then the House books, but only because I started reading years ago, so this wasn’t some­thing I had a choice in. My last re-read, though, I tried to go more in a chrono­log­ical order and didn’t feel it added much for me. But that may be because I already know the char­ac­ters and some of the story. So for me, each addi­tional book is about exploring more and more of the world, and the history, and the history of the char­ac­ters, and this defi­nitely expands with each book. And that does, some­what, go in publishing order, as Michelle herself discovers and estab­lishes more of the history and story line.

  5. Michael says:

    Ooh, someone else who skips to the ending mid-way through a novel… it’s not that I’m not enjoying the story, but my reading speed just can’t keep up with my curiosity! No matter how much I try and stop myself, I have found myself flicking to the final chapter through several of your books, perhaps that’s a compli­ment as to how much I was caught up in the plot.

    I first read the books as they were published, but I’ve found they really reward rereading as I love noticing how strands from the later books are first laid down and hinted at in the early ones.

  6. hjbau says:

    I flipped through The Sun Sword after Jewel returned to Aver­alaan because i so wanted to know what happened next with her story­line and i didn’t think there was enough book to finish that story. As we know the next part of Jewel’s story was not in the book though the end of that book is amazing.

    The thing is to know that those words are being written now and that Michelle is excited for us to read them makes me very excited as well.

  7. An editor at an entirely different publishing house emailed me after Sun Sword came out, to tell me if that was really the last book I was writing in that world, she needed to know what happened to Jewel and House Terafin Right Now.

    She is a crazy editor, and actu­ally, I adore her for the crazy, because it’s a quiet crazy you can miss if you’re not paying attention :)

    I, otoh, grov­elled and apol­o­gized a lot.

    Here’s the thing about the West novels: I haven’t finished the story yet, so to me, it’s still present, still reso­nant. As long as they have a home, I fully intend to keep writing until that story is finished. 

  8. Carol Duffy says:

    I think I kinda love that un-named editor :)

  9. hjbau says:

    I will agree with this unknown editor. I do really want to know what happens next and if that was the last book it might have made me a little crazy.

    I am glad that there is more story to tell and, as i have said before i do not mind in the least when you go long.

    On another note i just did a google search for otoh because i had no idea what you meant. I need to freshen up on my chat lingo.

  10. Jacob says:

    Yeah, there are a lot of char­ac­ters I really want to know more about (er, spoilers coming up, just in case a warning is necessary):

    that one tanta­lizing glimpse from Margret of Gil (and Co.) that we saw in one of the Sun Sword sextet has me so curious. And I want to find out what’s next with Diora and her family, all the Voyani, Teresa (I’m re-reading Sun Sword right now, and it occurred to me Teresa and Marieyan would make a nice couple…) and the Ospreys. Jewel’s prob­ably my favorite, so I’m excited to finally learn what happens in Terafin, but I want to know about the rest too.

  11. @Jacob: Skir­mish is pretty much Jewel’s book, although Adam is in House Terafin.

    There are defi­nite plans to write about the Hunters after that, and in partic­ular, about Cynthia’s son, but that’s after the House War is finished.

  12. Arkenian says:

    I’m trying to imagine a world where someone wouldn’t want to read the Sun Sword series… And failing. Honestly, if you do have a new reader to the West stories (and they’ve gotten three books into the House Wars series), they’re likely to THANK you for drawing their atten­tion to the sun sword series if they haven’t found it already so they have some­thing to read from you between House Name and Skir­mish (other than the Cast books of course, which I also love, but don’t quite so obses­sively wait for.) So.… I must admit, though, that it brings up an inter­esting ques­tion… its my habit every time a new book comes out to read the entire series. Trying to figure out what order to re-read all the West books in is always a challenge.

    On a totally unre­lated note, I almost had a connip­tion when Angel didn’t show up in Hidden City, but when we learned in City of Night that he had a story as special as I’ve always thought he was, it totally made up for it… except I have a nasty suspi­cion that his story won’t come full circle until the end, which is kinda disap­pointing. Still, hope­fully we’ll be seeing more Angel POVs?

  13. Still, hope­fully we’ll be seeing more Angel POVs?

    In House Name, there’s more of Angel’s PoV, in part because he has to under­stand what it is he’s looking for, and what it means to him. But he doesn’t disap­pear in Skir­mish or War either.

  14. Polly Doven says:

    Wait wait, am I under­standing correctly? I can get the House series and it will tell me what happened to Jewel, Avandar, the Winter King…etc? OMG I thought at the end of the deli­ciously long, engrossing, absorbing and intri­cate Sun Sword series, that it was the end. If there were ten more in the Sun Sword series I would be out buying them today and continue to live a half life until I finished them. Movies are boring in compar­ison, and all I want to do in the evening is get in bed and read. Michelle, your ability is stun­ning! FABULOUS char­ac­ters! The Sun Sword series now occu­pies the ‘Favorites’ shelf” along with the works of Jack Whyte, Guy Gavriel Kay, Patricia Keneally Morrison and Diana Gabaldon, To say I am thrilled to find another author whose work I adore is an under­state­ment. Years ago, I watched my grand­mother read and re-read books from a shelf near her bed. When asked why she read the same books over and over, she exclaimed that they were old friends, deli­ciously well written, every bit as good 2nd, 3rd and 4th time around. At the time I didn’t believe how that could be possible. Now that I am older, I have re-read the authors listed above and find that it is so very true. I will keep the Sun Sword series on just such a shelf, the “Favorites” shelf. Thank you Michelle! And to any of you readers who haven’t read the above mentioned authors, you are in for a treat if you do! Now off to Amazon in search of House Wars.


  15. simplewhimsy says:

    I have to confess: I never finished the Sun Sword series. I actu­ally didn’t finish the last couple of books. Instead, I skimmed through them and only read Jewel’s parts. Oh, I felt so terrible and guilty for it — but then again I was around 16 or so and just didn’t have that great of an atten­tion span, and Jewel was my favorite character.

    So those books have sat on my book­shelf, but now I’ve got a great reason to reread them all, now that I’ve got a better appre­ci­a­tion for all the little details and char­ac­ters. Still though, you can imagine how excited I was when I found out there would be a whole series centered around Jewel and her den. Man, has it really been over five years since the Sun Sword books came out? Dang.

  16. Jacob says:

    So I just finished a recent re-read of Sea of Sorrows (working through the whole sextet) and I was surprised at


    this whole wealth of infor­ma­tion about the Hunters — specif­i­cally, I presume, Cynthia’s son — in those scenes at Arkosa. I had totally forgotten the infor­ma­tion about how if Allasakar weren’t distracted by events in the South, he’d be able to turn his atten­tion to Cynthia’s son (I’m assuming) before he could be dealt with.

    I’d also forgotten about the fifth City of Man that’s appar­ently going to arise. Guess there are a bunch more things to add to my list of dangling plot­lines I want infor­ma­tion about.

  17. Jeff Jones says:

    I have read the Hunter books and the Sun Sword series in the past, but I just finished up the most recent House Name book … and I am really disap­pointed that I can’t get the Hunter and Sun Sword books on my Kindle.

    I want to rebuy them in a form that I can keep (ebook) without worrying about boxes of books in the garage that are impos­sible to sort through.

    I really, really want to re-read from the beginning.

    I can’t ;-(

    When can you get your publisher to re-release the series in ebook format?

  18. Cynthia Steele says:

    I also would like to see all these books released in EBook format. I am a Kindle-holic nowa­days, and my paper­backs are begin­ning to dwindle.. Really, your books are prac­ti­cally all that’s left on my shelf because I haven’t been able to yet repur­chase for my kindle! When can we expect an e‑book release of this amazing story?? Pleasepleaseplease! ;>

  19. When can we expect an e‑book release of this amazing story?? Pleasepleaseplease! ;>

    I’ve been told they should (finally) start hitting the ebook retailers in four weeks — I’m not sure if they’ll all be released at once, but fairly close :).

  20. Michael says:

    Where can I get the next all the chap­ters of Skir­mish? Because, you know, January is a *loooooooong* way away.

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