The Darkling is finally ready for updating! 🙂 Here are the links.
And, once more, if you need help updating your e-books, here is the link to my previous blog post with information on how to do that.
More than 5,000 words cut from this revision without losing content. So, again, I highly recommend updating your version to this one if possible. You will know you have the new one if the copyright page includes the year 2021.
So, how in the world am I managing to shave 5,000 words off of two books recently? Very carefully. LoL … If I ever hope to turn these things into print copies, I need that word count as low as possible. And you can cut more words than you think and lose nothing by looking for ways to rephrase things. It adds up, and the script is tighter and better for it. It doesn’t mean every instance that could be changed was. If it sounded unnatural for dialog or had a better rhythm prose-wise to keep the extra words, I let those go. The main culprit is plain old wordiness: a “that” deleted here and there, an “I will” condensed to “I’ll,” “going down” replaced by “descending,” and stuff like “was doing” changed to “did” or “the blue color of the sky” changed to “sky’s blue color” or “blue sky.” Sometimes I removed entire sentences or descriptions that I didn’t think would be missed. Sometimes I removed or replaced words that were normalized at the time of the original draft’s writing, but are showing their age now and simply needed updating.
In fact, in light of the Dr. Seuss topic I posted on last week, this might be a good time and place to address the title and cover of The Darkling. Is it racist? Basically, no. And yes. Because various types of prejudice and discrimination (racist, religious, sexist, class, intellect, and others) were the main reason I felt compelled to write these books. And you can’t write about prejudices without looking them in the eye, confronting them, and calling them out for what they are. From beginning to end, these books confront the topic of supremacist doctrines and attitudes.
I’m not going to tackle racism in ancient mythology in this article. That would be a lengthy article in itself. All I will say is that the world was very black and white for a lot of societies in the past, and when you pull something from the past to write about it, you often dig up a lot of baggage that comes with it. It is up to the modern author using these references to decide how that fits with the story they currently want to tell. Dark and light elves have a certain mythology from which they were born in different parts of Europe (and arguably the rest of the world, too). That would be another lengthy article in itself, so suffice to say, it is what it is, and this is my derivative take on it.
As for the term darkling, yes it refers to Trizryn’s skin. As a dark elf, he starts off blue-black like a raven, but his skin gradually fades to a dark, charcoal gray because of his “condition.” But in these books, darkling means so much more. What starts in chapter one with another dark elf telling him he’s not what he thinks he is, winds through the novel to find out why. And that question is fully explained in books 4 and 5 (The Atheling and The Dragonling). Trizryn is more than a dark elf, so his whole identity gets ripped apart and flipped upside down through every book in this series. Darkling is about his loss of one dark elf identity and his journey toward another.
But this title also refers to Aija. All of the titles in this series are double-plays on themes both characters personify in each book. For Aija, this series is a classic “coming of age” story. But in the process, she experiences a gradual “darkening” of her soul as she is thrust into and is forced to survive in a dangerous environment. So, she also loses her identity, but in more of a “hardening” sense as she sheds her naivety. She initially had to lean on Trizryn for help. Now, he must lean on her. And in the end, when all is said and done, her soul will be tested, too.
But there is more still. “Darkling” is a term of endearment that Frostfang, a dragon-god, uses in reference to her dark elf followers. She is borrowing from the term “elfling,” which in my elven culture means “small one” or “child.” And she herself transforms into a dark elf when she shape-shifts from her draconian form. This idea of a “god/immortal” becoming “human/mortal” is pretty universal in world mythology; and while it may be a step down in terms of size or power, the intent is usually one of empathy (being able to understand and relate to someone who is different), rather than being demeaning. (I think we can all agree most elves are physically small compared to most dragons.)
It is also a reference to the fact that these dark elves live in darkness. They are deep elves, dark dwellers, sorcerers with hidden magic … opposed to the elves of light who have a very outward, obvious, exterior appearance, habitat, and magic.
If you want to know more, you’ll just have to read the series for yourself. 🙂 But don’t let the title or graphics mislead you into oversimplifying anything. As of this writing, I have no intention of changing the title. But one thing I am considering changing is the rating. Right now I advertise the Elf Gate books as T for older teens. But maybe it should be MA for mature audiences due to some gore and themes? Those of you who have read it, what do you think? Change the rating? Dark fantasy is a combination of fantasy and horror, after all.
Onward to book 4 update: The Atheling! I’m a little behind schedule due to, well, life … but I’m 5 chapters in, so I plan on having it ready for updates, too, in a few weeks. 🙂