Dave has been kind enough to allow me to write a few words here on the Fabled Lands blog to talk about where we're up to with The Serpent King's Domain. And, this time around, it's big news: we have a finished draft of the book, and we're well into editing. Our editor, Richard S Hetley, is the first adventurer to leave Dunpala for the wilds of the Weeping Jungle. He's currently trekking through the Feathered Lands, and putting the seventh book in this series through its paces.
In editing terms, this brings about a lot of fine-tuning. There' a lot of back and forth discussion right now about the economic consequences of two ports, Dunpala and Begotombo, being so close to one another; about whether a score of ghouls should have a higher Stamina score than that big bull in Cities of Gold and Glory; about whether the new Obfuscation blessing is too similar to the Immunity to Injury blessing in The Court of Hidden Faces.
I've intentionally geared the book towards throwing up some challenges for very high-rank characters, and so it's fascinating to see how Richard tackles it with somebody newly created at 7th rank. The number of locations to visit in the Feathered Lands is considerably higher than in the first six books of the series; consequently, some quest-important items or codewords are proving really hard to track down. Some opponents are probably too tough for a character that's just starting out (hey, that's what resurrection deals are for) and, frankly, there are more than a few paragraph links that are flat-out broken, and need to be fixed. That's where we're at with the text of The Serpent King's Domain right now – we're addressing all of these points.
Dave and Jamie have also been giving valuable input on the setting of Harkuna as a whole – notably how the Feathered Lands relate to other regions in the world, and some details on how the different faiths fit together. This has, dare I say, even allowed for a little tentative planning of books 8 to 12.
As regards the interior artwork, Russ has completed about half the necessary pictures, including all of the high-level backer rewards. The latest news is that he's working on rough outlines of the remaining full-page pieces, and the smaller filler pieces that will intersperse the text.
Kev, our cover artist, is in a similar position. Before Christmas I wrote up a comprehensive brief for him about the setting, and the notable people and places within the Feathered Lands; he's now partway through his black-and-white roughs. He'll be back in touch with us shortly, with a more complete image.
I'll take the opportunity to address a point that Michael Hartland brought up on the Kickstarter page (and that was somewhat echoed by James Cartwright): "What's the chance of getting the book finished by June, do you think?" On the writing side of things, it'll be finished way before then. I'm hesitant to make grand promises on top of that, because there are still things like artwork and page layout to consider, and then hiccups can always occur with printing and shipping. But I'll provisionally say that the chances are really good.
And I'll conclude with a point of precision about how to most efficiently direct questions about The Serpent King's Domain. Asking questions here on the FL blog is fine; better yet is to contact Mikael Louys at Megara Entertainment, as Megara are responsible for running the Kickstarter and publishing the book. That can be done through Megara's website or the Kickstarter page. At this stage all questions are likely to be referred back to me anyway, so please feel free to go ahead and contact me directly. I welcome and encourage all inquiries, comments and criticisms, and I'll get back to you as soon as my frail mortal body will allow.
As always, huge thanks to all backers for your support in this process, and for your patience so far. The Serpent King's Domain would not exist without you.