The Annals of the Chosen

About the series:

In April of 2001 I was mulling over nothing in particular when I began thinking about a scene I wanted to write. It involved a party of adventurers who have just slain an evil wizard, only to realize that their adventure isn't quite over yet.

I had a story I wanted to tell about these guys -- but first I had to figure out who they were, and how they got there, and who the evil wizard was, and why these particular people were the ones to defeat him.

I began to fill in background, and backstory -- more and more backstory...

By the time I was done and ready to start writing, I was horrified to realize that I had plotted not just one story, not even one novel, but five novels -- and that scene I'd started with was in the fifth one, and I'd have to write four others just to get to it.

But hey, what's a fella to do? I sighed, rolled up my sleeves, and sent a proposal to my agent, and we made a three-book deal with Tor Books to start the series off.

Then I set about writing the first one, and discovered that it didn't want to follow my original plans. It didn't help any that for several months I was on medication (for a now-cured pituitary disorder) that made it very hard for me to write. By the time I finished the first book in the series -- seven and a half months after what I'd thought was a generous deadline -- the whole series had changed shape again. Books Two and Three had collapsed back into a single volume in my plans, and Books Four and Five into a single volume, so instead of five books there were to be three. Also, I'd originally thought it might be just the start of an ongoing series, with sequels and prequels and spin-offs, but the further I got, the less appealing that prospect was.

So I was writing a trilogy. I finished the first one, got most of the way through the second...

But then, as I was nearing the end of the second book in this supposed trilogy, which was running way behind schedule because I wasn't happy with where it was going, I realized I still didn't have it right. Collapsing the five books into three was a mistake -- or rather, the way I did it was a mistake. The correct approach was to take a bunch of the good stuff from Books 4 and 5, use it in Books 2 and 3, and throw 4 and 5 out.

So that's what I did.

Yes, that means that the scene that inspired the whole thing isn't be in there at all, but I think it's better this way. The possibility of using that scene somewhere else eventually does exist -- it might even wind up in a sequel to the trilogy, in the very unlikely event I write one.

But for now, it's a trilogy, and I'm done:

Who Are Those Guys?

So did I ever figure out who those guys were in that scene I wanted to write?

Yes, I did -- they're the Chosen. And the evil magician was the Wizard Lord.

Long ago the land of Barokan (as it's called in the Vales and the Midlands) had a serious problem with rogue wizards robbing, raping, and murdering innocent villagers, and even other wizards, not to mention spreading plagues, raising crop-damaging storms, and generally making life difficult. The solution developed by a bunch of not-so-rogue wizards (who grandiosely named themselves the Council of Immortals) was to deliberately give one carefully-chosen wizard enough magical power and political authority to hunt down and kill every rogue wizard out there.

Thus was created the first Wizard Lord.

Catch is, what's to stop the Wizard Lord himself from robbing, raping, and murdering innocents?

The answer the wizards came up with is the Chosen, the heroes whose job it is to kill any Wizard Lord who goes bad. These are not wizards themselves, but have very limited and specialized magic specifically designed for taking down Dark Lords.

The Dark Lords, however, don't make it easy...

Who Are The Chosen?

Here are the lyrics to a folk-song popular at the time of The Wizard Lord, describing the eight Chosen; notice that although the song seems to list all but the Beauty as being male, some of the others are usually female. The exact mix varies.

Storyteller

The Ballad of the Chosen

When day turns dark and shadows fall
Across the broken lands
And madness turns to taloned claws
Our gentle ruler's hands
Then eight are called by whims of fate
To save us from our doom;
The Chosen come to guard us all
And lay evil in its tomb

[chorus]
         If a Wizard Lord should turn
         Against the common man
         These Chosen eight shall bring him down,
         Bring peace to Barokan!

The Leader shows his bold resolve
Confronting every foe
His words will guide the Chosen as
He tells them how to go

The Seer seeks the comrades out
And gathers them to fight
Nor can their foeman hide from him;
He has the second sight

[chorus]

The Swordsman's blade is swift and sure
His skill is unsurpassed
If any stands against him, then
That fight shall be his last

A lovely face the Beauty has,
And shapely legs and arms
She distracts the evil men
And lures them with her charms

[chorus]

There is no lock nor guarded door
That can stop the Thief
He penetrates the fortress dark
To bring the land relief

Every song and story told,
The Scholar knows them all
He knows the wizard's weaknesses
To hasten evil's fall

[chorus]

The Archer's missiles never miss;
His arrows find their mark
He strikes at evil from afar
To drive away the dark

The Speaker harks to every tongue,
Of stone and beast and man
He finds the Dark Lord's secrets out
So no defense can stand

If a Wizard Lord should turn
Against the common man
These Chosen eight shall bring him down,
Bring peace to Barokan --
Yes, the Chosen guard us all,
Bring peace to Barokan!

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