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Friday, February 24, 2012
The Changing World of Eli Monpress
Hello, my name is Rachel Aaron, and I'm the author of the Legend of Eli Monpress, a light adventure fantasy series from Orbit Books about a charming, over-the-top thief and the trouble he gets himself into.
Or, at least, that's how it started.
Let me back up. When I first wrote The Spirit Thief (the first book in Eli's series and the novel that got me published), I had a very firm view of what I thought the series was about. In my mind, I saw a long running, episodic spectacle with each volume containing its own adventure and a large cast of characters that grew and deepened with each installment. Think any popular TV show ever and that's what I was shooting for.
But as I actually started writing the books, something changed. The story has a large ensemble cast of colorful and seedy people, all with their own objectives, but the soul of the books is Eli, my titular main character and the 'spirit' of this whole operation (har har har). On the surface, Eli seems very clear cut - he's charming and ridiculous and self assured, the very soul of a gentleman thief. But glib as he might play, Eli's past hides a lot of unpleasantness, so do the other characters', and as more of this history is dug up and dealt with, the books begin to get darker. Not bloodier or more sexual or more ruthless any of that other stuff “dark” has come to mean in fantasy, but more serious. More serious and, I like to think, much better.
I'd love to brag and say I planned it this way, but the truth is that the books getting more serious was a totally unintended and natural consequence of forcing my characters to deal with all the problems they'd been running from. They're still the same funny people who starred in the first caper, but even charming thieves have to suck it up and be a little serious when their backs are against the wall. Add to this a growing magical crisis in the world and an insane, all powerful being with an unhealthy fixation on our hero, and yeah, we're not just stealing kings anymore.
The Spirit Thief is a light adventure fantasy about a charming thief getting in a tight spot. The Spirit Rebellion, the second Eli book, is a light adventure about a charming thief who's now in much deeper and more dangerous waters. By book 3, The Spirit Eater, the sharks are definitely circling, and in The Spirit War, the fourth Eli book coming out in June, life is flat out going terribly for our hero. Of course, it's still Eli's story, so things can never get too dark. It's hard to get that serious when your main character is such an unrepentant optimist. Even so, when I finished Spirit's End, the fifth and final book due out in November, I didn't know if Eli was ever going to talk to me again.
These days, when people ask me what my series is about, I say it's an adventure fantasy starring a charming wizard thief that starts out light and fun and then gets more serious but no less fun. If the questioner hasn't walked away from me by that point, I direct them to the sample chapters on my website. It's kind of a cop-out, but trying to describe a series in a sentence is always a cop-out in one way or another.
Really, though, if you read the first chapter of Spirit Thief and like it, there's a very good chance you'll like the rest of the book too. And even though the series changes, I've found that people who like The Spirit Thief tend to like The Spirit Rebellion as well, and those who like Rebellion tend to love Spirit Eater. Looking at it that way, the trend toward seriousness seems to be a positive one, which is good, because the last two books only dig the hole deeper. Fortunately, Eli is always there to keep everyone from taking themselves too seriously. I hope you'll give the book a try and see for yourself.
(Photo Credit: Marshal Zeringue)
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Rachel Aaron lives in Athens, Georgia with her family. She has graduated from University of Georgia with a B.A. in English Literature. She has been an avid reader since her childhood and now has an ever-growing collection to show for it. She loves gaming, Manga comics & reality TV police shows. She also blogs on a semi-regular basis on the Magic Districts website along with a host of other authors.
Read FBC Review of "The Spirit Thief"
Read FBC review of “The Spirit Rebellion”
Read FBC Review of “The Spirit Eater” and “Spirit’s Oath”
Read FBC’s Interview with Rachel Aaron
12:01 AM | Posted by The Reader | | Edit Post