D-7: titles and other considerations


So, this is actually the leadup to the Master of the House of Darts release (it’s out in the US on Oct. 25th, and for some odd reason the UK has to wait a little bit more, till Nov 3rd. The ways of publishing are impenetrable…).

So, to prepare for next Tuesday, I’ll be publishing one blog post a day until Friday (process, research tidbits, behind-the-scenes bonuses, and more…)–and watch out next Monday for a competition with neat prizes (including a tuckerisation and an Aztec print!)

(warning: minor spoilers for Servant of the Underworld)

I didn’t plan Obsidian and Blood as a trilogy: like many authors, I wrote book 1 as a standalone, and then scribbled down a few notes about what might happen next. When I sold the trilogy to AR, they didn’t ask for any specifics on books 2 and 3, so I was mostly free to do what I wanted (within reasonable limits, of course).

But one character had come up in book 1, and just stuck around: Teomitl/Ahuizotl, the Imperial Prince who became Acatl’s student. And, as I wrote book 2 and started planning book 3, it became clear to me that much of the trilogy was going to revolve around the triangle formed on the one hand by Acatl, Teomitl, and Acatl’s sister Mihmatini; and on the other by Acatl, Teomitl and Teomitl’s brother Tizoc. A commoner family on the one hand, and on the other the Imperial family formed by Teomitl and Tizoc (and their many, many brothers. I didn’t put them in the narration because it was too horribly complicated, but of course Teomitl is far from an only child). But also, Acatl’s allies, and Acatl’s political relationships. And yes, Teomitl is in both triangles. That’s what makes him so interesting.

So why Master of the House of Darts? If you’ve read books 1 and 2, you already suspect part of the answer, but there’s also a research-related reason.

In Tenochtitlan, the House of Darts was the armoury: it was where the Mexica put all the paraphernalia of war (the “darts” are actually javelins). Its Master held a key role, both in times of peace and in times of war. In times of peace, their role was to make sure the armoury was well-stocked and well-protected; and in times of war, they would command a fourth of the army, and take responsibility for most of the military manoeuvres: the head of the army remained the Emperor; but his Master of the House of Darts was his commander-in-second in the field (the role in the city was reserved to the She-Snake). Such was the importance of Masters of the House of Darts that they tended to be elected as the successors of the Aztec Emperors.

The Master of the House of Darts is then, both the Emperor-in-waiting, and the commander of the army; and MoHD deals with both these aspects: the structure of the army and the aftermath of a war of conquest, and the imperial structure of power. In both respects, Teomitl–a warrior and a prince–is at the centre; and this in turn forces Acatl (who has no liking whatsoever either for the army or the court) into a maelstrom of intrigues. And I tried to focus this as much as I could on the army, on the supply of human sacrifices and the roles of war in Tenochtitlan, to get another glimpse into Aztec life compared to the previous books.
(yes, poor Acatl. He’ll never get peace anyway while I’m writing books about him; he might as well get used to it…)

This is a book about Teomitl forging his own path, and finding his own alliances–and how this, ultimately, forces Acatl to reconsider his own assumptions and relationships. And it’s also very much a book of consequences: while the consequences of Servant of the Underworld didn’t overly play in Harbinger of the Storm, the consequences of Harbinger of the Storm are very much to the forefront here. The characters made some important choices at the end of the book; and those choices have a price that isn’t always pleasant. The end-game of this book was very hard to write for that reason–lots of unpleasant things happening, and I like poking my characters until they bleed, but I did put them through the wringer in this one…

Oh yes, and there’s an epidemic. And multiple deaths, and vengeful ghosts. Because it’s no fun otherwise 🙂

That’s all for today. Tomorrow: more about the writing of MoHD, and my favourite character in the trilogy!

And just a reminder that the first three chapters of the book are available here.
(and nope, I haven’t forgotten the post about handling rice. I need to take some pictures before I put it up, which means cooking rice on the stove instead of the rice cooker, and I keep forgetting…)


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