A terrible pun, true. But also true that revisions consist of more than pulling out the Chainsaw of Correction. Sometimes revision means noticing that the arm of the statue is on at the wrong angle…and remodeling, molding it, until it looks right. Both Agent and Editor found things to say about Crown of Renewal that pointed to the need for more remolding than chainsawing and clipping (though those did occur.)
From the writer’s point of view, a number of characters began this series in apparently stable–but actually very unstable–positions. Settled characters–people who, in midlife, thought they had everything tied down snugly and they knew what they’d be doing to the end of their lives–were in fact about to undergo unexpected and difficult changes. Even the ones that appeared advantageous, with a jump in status and wealth, came with problems. Or, as one of my riding books preferred to put it, challenges.
So through the series, these people and others have had their ups and downs, have coped well or not with what happened to them, and they arrived at the start of Crown with new understandings of themselves and the changes going on around them. But not complete understanding of either, and still capable of being knocked sideways by the unexpected. (In some cases, they could not have expected; in some cases they might have caught on if they’d been paying attention in the right direction. But life doesn’t give any of us all the time, health, wealth, etc. needed to spot everything coming from all directions.)
Tiptoeing around major spoiler blocks, I can say that revision has filled out some sketchy things, made clear what are the big psychological gaps still remaining, and (I hope) has sharpened understanding of characters so that no one will be saying “X was too easy.” Sometimes the difficulty is physical, sometimes technical/knowledge, and sometimes it’s psychological–relating to that character’s deep history and/or innate nature. The book has…um…grown. More stuff had to go in and a lot of stuff had to be moved over to allow the new stuff to go in, and then a lot of smoothing/molding/finishing had to be done to make it all look right.
Many of the questions asked will be answered definitively and finally. Some…will not. Not definitively, or not finally, or neither. One little bit I can tell you about.
Like most cultures, these have festivals. Some are very old, and relate most often to the seasons. Some are a mere 500 years old, and relate to what happened back then…such as the Girdish war for independence from the magelords. Not immediately (because Gird wasn’t into that sort of thing) but not too long after his death, a festival commemorating the great victory at Greenfields, including a re-enactment of the battle, got started and has continued. But it’s not at Greenfields…which isn’t in a heavily populated area even now. If you want a big festival with people coming in from all over the realm…you need supports in place: food, water, etc. etc. etc. So instead of commemorating the Battle of Greenfields at Greenfields….it’s at the site of a battle Gird lost. That has the advantage (besides tickling the funnybones of those with a sense of irony) of yearly canceling out the memory of that battle, and replacing it with the memory of victory. It has the disadvantage of any large festival, in that crowds are easily diverted into mischief.
Let’s see…what else? Well…there are ships, and stuff happening at sea. I said that already, but there’s more than one “stuff happening at sea” to deal with. There’s a tragedy involving a villain. There are at least three very interesting horses. Horse nomads show up. We find out more about the internal life of a gnome tribe in its stoneright, though not enough. Gnomish females are very secretive, including with their writer. Saying “Come on, I’m female too, and I’m you’re writer…don’t hide, come chat with me. What’s it like being gnomish and pregnant?” did not get me anywhere. Beady black eyes and the disappearance of female gnomes into the depths of the cave. I do know they actually eat that stuff they grow in those caves.
Not me: I once ate a cookie at my grandmother’s house–took it out of the jar in the kitchen late one night without turning on the light–and when I got back to the bedroom where I was sitting up late reading, the cookie was furred with with blue mold. (Yes, I ate the other half of it. It was too late to quit then, wasn’t it?) I know what that mold tasted like (dust, if you’re interested. Slightly sour dust) and misiljit looks too much like that mold, though it’s not the same thing at all. It’s thicker and moister. This does not improve its eye-appeal for me. But you will find out how the gnomes make their cloth for all those gray uniforms and the reason for the carved screen Selfer saw when he visited the Aldonfulk prince.
I know some things about that horse nomad tribe, too, but that’s for another book–they appear in this one only once.