Athuro finally discovers the conspiracy that has destroyed all he has hoped to achieve. Having lost everything, he must decide to either hide or fight back. The odds are stacked against him, but a desire for retribution, and the hope that it is not too late, fuel him forward. Will it be enough to save the Confederation? This is the third and final chapter of the Pieces of the Empire saga.
Pieces of the Empire, Book Two
The Advent of the Confederation
As the Sarmissans are in retreat, Athuro gathers the leaders of the rebellion in an attempt to eliminate the threat of their common enemy forever. However politics and unseen forces threaten to destroy everything that has been gained thus far. With time against him, Athuro must deal with his past while finding his way into the future.
Pieces of the Empire, Book One
Death of a King, Birth of a Confederation
When idealistic desert trader Athuro Nava helps to land deadly blows on the two men who built the evil Sarmissan Empire, he begins an unexpected journey to establish a Confederation designed to ensure that all lands become free. All the while, forces work secretly against the vision he is trying to realize.
A Long Journey, but a Journey Complete
It was back in 2003 when I started to work on the Pieces of the Empire trilogy. I had just graduated from my MBA program and was celebrating with a cruise in the Caribbean. With a spiral notebook in hand, I began to draw out ideas for the series. Nine years later, the journey ends as it began: on a cruise -- this time to Mexico.
I packed a lot of living during those years. I didn't work on the books the entire time. Life events got in the way. I helped plan my wedding and a honeymoon, went through with them, had a child, and got promoted at work three times. There were spans when I stopped work on the project all together, not really sure if it would ever be completed. But now it has and I am very proud of my accomplishment.
Clearly this project was a labor of love, one that I could not leave alone for too long. I spent a considerable amount of time outlining the story before I ever wrote a word. While the story is not overly intricate, it does involve enough complexity that I had to make sure it all tied together. If I didn't, then the ending would fall flat, or some parts of the story wouldn't make sense. I put in the work to avoid that. I wrote the series such that once one read all three books, they could go back and re-read them to see new things that could have been missed during the first run through. The little sections between the chapters are but one example of this. It all had to tie together, and in the end, it did.
I grew a lot as a writer and editor during this time. Characters took on lives I hadn't expected, and new characters appeared that I hadn't originally factored in. It made the writing process an exploratory one, despite all the work I had put in to design the series before hand. My editing skills improved as others helped me out and I also read up on editing techniques and applied them to my work. I didn't end up a great editor as a result, but I am much improved.
My hope for the series was to finish the project a better person than when I started. I wanted to learn from the experience of writing a trilogy, and from the research I would do to support the novel. I had hoped to publish my works, but that was always a secondary consideration. It was about my development first, then we'll see. Originally the 'we'll see' was trying to get published in print format. But as Sony and Apple pioneered the eBook market, new opportunities arose. Soon after, publishing houses rose up, specializing in eBooks and allowing for self publishing opportunities that were unheard of before. I am convinced that technology has really broken down barriers to creating art and getting it out there, and publishing is a prime example of this.
I had little interest in marketing, since selling books was not a great priority for me, but I wanted to do at least something to promote my work. The result was my first web page. Here again, the tools of our time are so sophisticated and accessible, that with little financial cost and minimal effort, I created a nice website that really conveys who I am. Without this series the site would never have been, and I am much better off for it.
So that's the story behind the story. It's been a crazy nine years. I leave no regrets behind; it's been a fantastic ride. But don't expect me to write another trilogy anytime soon!
Why Science Fiction and Fantasy?
Until recent years, the science fiction and fantasy genres were relegated to a cult status, barring classics that would rise up such as the works of Jules Verne, H.G.Wells, or J.R.R.Tolkien. For the mainstream, these genres were the purview of nerds and geeks, and others who were not thought well of by most. Recent times have changed this, and the genres are enjoying mainstream popularity during an age where nerds and geeks are getting a lot more respect than before.
Still, most novels written today are not science fiction or fantasy. Mainstream novels, the bestsellers on the Amazon and New York Times lists, tend to be either set in modern times or are historical fiction. Any writer who dabbles in sci-fi or fantasy automatically risks alienating a large segment of the market due to disinterest. Yet much material is being written in these genres despite these disadvantages, including my series. Why?
As with all things, I am sure there are many answers, but for my series and many others I do offer two compelling reasons.
Ultimately, every novel written is some reflection of the human condition. This is unavoidable since all novels are written by humans. So, of course, sci-fi and fantasy are as well. The benefit of these genres over most others is two-fold. First, you can place a story in an imaginative world which helps capture the fancy of the reader. Second, and perhaps more importantly, you can comment on the human condition without the trappings of the real world to distract the reader from the point being made.
When you write a story in modern times, for example, all the associations the reader has with those times are carried into the novel reading experience like 'baggage' from the past. Set a story in the United States and there are all sorts of assumptions and impressions that the reader will automatically assign to the story - most of which happen unconsciously. This can create a challenge for an author in that it can make a point that much more difficult to convey because this 'baggage' can get in the way.
When you write sci-fi or fantasy, much of this 'baggage' is simply removed because the reader has no context to apply to the story. A story that takes place on a fictional planet will not evoke many thoughts about human race relations, political affiliations, religious beliefs, or the like. These aspects can all be present in a sci-fi or fantasy novel, but the author can control the manner in which they are introduced and incorporated into a given story.
The benefit of this is that sci-fi and fantasy novels can be a very efficient vehicle to comment on the human condition. They can introduce complex concepts while the reader's guard is down, sort of speak, and thus can be more effective in making a statement about humanity than other genres. That's when sci-fi and fantasy are at their best - when they can deliver a greater understanding about ourselves.
Pieces of the Empire benefits very much from this concept. It explores the impact of the individual on a larger society, and the manner in which idealism can help shape the world. It also explores the value of perseverance, even when sticking to it is just the result of having no other options.
Of course, I shouldn't discount the first benefit I described above. For many of us the genre is simply a fun place to stretch our imagination and enjoy a newly developed world. Couple that with a greater understanding about humanity and our impact on the world, and you have a story that benefits the reader in multiple ways. Hopefully this is something I have accomplished with my series.
To help me develop the story, I had to create a series of maps to understand where everything stood in relation to each other. I can't draw, so these maps will never make it into the final books. However I provide them here as a reference point for readers who are simply lost without them. Hopefully I dolled them up enough to look presentable. The three images are connected as part of one continuous landmass. Note the overlap between the images, especially as it pertains to the mountain ranges.