Book 3 of the Maidstone Chronicles, Into the Maidstone, launched on June 21, 2020.
If you’re familiar with the first two books in the Maidstone Chronicles trilogy (which we highly recommend before reading Book 3), you will see that we’ve renamed the “Black Dragon” the “Iron Dragon” and changed the elixir formerly known as “Black” to “Phyriad” (pronounced FEAR-ee-ad —for good reasons!).
We’ve updated all three books to reflect these changes.
So, why the changes now in the third book?
Since we started writing this story years ago, we were never 100% comfortable referring to the villain as the “Black Dragon” or to the poison he spreads as “Black.” But we’re two white authors and, sadly, we tend to follow “traditional” fantasy tropes that came before us. We weren’t sufficiently motivated to change it because there was enough work to do. That was wrong.
Recent events in our world have (finally) given us new insights and a deeper awareness of the implications of such terminology for Black/African-American readers, as well as for any person of color. Moreover, we now have a better (yet imperfect and constantly expanding) understanding of how these terms also affect us as white authors and readers. We’re far from perfect, but we want to do something to address the oversight in our books and in our thinking as we continue to write.
So, we spent a couple of weeks revising all three books and running the revisions by our awesome editor. She appreciated the thought behind the effort and went the extra mile finding details and making suggestions.
Improvements to Across the Fourwinds
While we were in editing mode, we made some significant revisions to Book 1, Across the Fourwinds. The characters and storyline remain the same, but we’ve ironed out some rough or potentially confusing parts throughout. Once again, our professional editor (who’s been with us since Book 2) has done a fresh edit and proofread of Across the Fourwinds. As with most books, we don’t expect it to be without error, but we hope you’ll agree that it’s a major improvement.
Have we removed racism from this trilogy?
We would never make such a claim because racism is so engrained in us, in our culture, and in the fantasy genre (see this article for a more in-depth discussion of this issue).
We’re both (still) long-term fans of The Lord of the Rings, but that story set the tone for many of the racist undertones so prevalent in the fantasy genre (for a few examples, see this article).
But we cannot put the blame on JRR Tolkien or the fantasy genre. We’re part of this culture, and our responses as white readers and writers are important. We still have work to do as we continue to create new stories.
This isn’t about trying to please everyone or jump on a bandwagon. We just hope to be more aware of our own influences and change the way we think, speak, act, and write. Hopefully, that also encourages our white reader friends to consider new ways of being in the world, wherever they live.
Winds of Change in Fantasy
In more recent fantasy books, we’re seeing the beginning of a positive, fresh way of looking at the genre. Discussions are sometimes complicated and divisive, but we’re learning and open to change.
Popular fantasy authors like N.K. Jemisin are imaging new ways of writing great fantasy books that are not rooted in racism or sexism.
Here’s N.K. Jemisin’s award-winning first trilogy (which Darryl plans to read this summer):
Maybe you know of other fantasy authors seeking to break the racist mold. If so, please mention them in the Comments below.
Thanks for being part of this important conversation.
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