If the previous Arc 5 chapters were grim, ‘Tangled echoes’ descends into full-on despair. The aim here was to write something unrelenting, with a sense of rot and impending disaster permeating the whole thing.
It’s punctuated somewhat by Fenris’ brief moments of optimism and hope, as he admirably considers his companions, but otherwise this is all about doubt, and fear, and failure.
That it then ends with ACTUAL failure makes it all the worse: there’s no big redemption or salvation at the end of this one.
To recap, here’s where we’re at:
- Our main ‘heroes’ have completed an arduous journey, to find themselves in a barren, blasted wasteland. Whatever they were trying to find: it ain’t here.
- Back in Treydolain, King Guijus’ paranoia has got the better of him. The kingdom is rapidly ticking off all those fascist checkboxes.
- Queen Anja is clearly up to something, and is taking Pienya along for the ride. She’s an arch manipulator and clearly doesn’t have the king’s best interests at heart.
- Roldan Stryke is finally coming to terms with the notion of forging his own path, having followed orders his entire life.
- Bruckin is woefully unprepared for open conflict, especially since the sabotage at the shipyard.
I think that about covers it. It’s fair to say that we’re in the abyssal stage of Campbell’s hoary old hero’s journey.
Talking of which, the original story – back when it was simply called Evinden – was absolutely structured around the hero’s journey, to the point of being very hackneyed. Although most of the core story beats have remained the same with its transformation into The Mechanical Crown, it’s also pulled away from that classical template, fuzzying the path to make it less predictable. Less safe.
We’ve had something of a trilogy of chapters with these characters. ‘Leading the lost’ was from Galisai’s perspective, ‘The ruptured world’ was from Kirya’s and ‘Tangled echoes’ focuses in on Fenris.
One of the pleasures of writing in a primarily third person subjective perspective is being able to compare and contrast the same events from different character’s point of view. It’s markedly different to the first person viewpoint of A Day of Faces, where I was stuck in Kay’s (wonderful) head for almost the entire book. ADoF was an amazing exercise in diving deep into a single character, and was really the first time I’d managed to successfully write a compelling character who readers responded to; The Mechanical Crown is an altogether different sort of challenge: it’s a juggling act, requiring a ton of gear shifting. I change the perspective for story reasons, but it’s turned out to be a natural next step in my writing journey, upping the overall challenge.