It’s Official: The Twenty Palaces Series Has Been Cancelled (long)

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(Update to this post: I’m shutting down comments because it’s been over a week and they’re still coming. What’s more, I don’t really want to keep talking about it. Thank you.)

(Second update: Disabling new comments hid the old comments, which I didn’t want, so comments are back on again.)

Yep. It’s true. Based on the sales of Circle of Enemies, Del Rey has decided not to offer me a contract to write more Twenty Palaces books.

What? Why?

Well, Pretend Questioner, let me address that in a very long blog post :

I sold Child of Fire (then called Harvest of Fire) to Del Rey in early 2008 in a pre-empt deal. (That means that Del Rey thought it would go to auction and they wanted to avoid that by going straight to the expected top price, sort of like the “Buy it now!” button on eBay.) Unfortunately, it underperformed and each book since has done worse. When sales of Game of Cages came out lower than the first book, my editor explained that book three would have to show an upward trend for the series to continue.

And it didn’t?

Hoo boy. No, it didn’t.

Come on, man. Give us some details.

There aren’t a lot of details to give. For a couple of years now, mass market sales have been in decline for a lot of authors, and ebook sales for my titles haven’t picked up the slack. Child of Fire had a print run of 30K but sell-through was slightly below 50%. Ebook sales that first year (2009) were about 3% of that.

Game of Cages had much lower initial orders, for the obvious reason, and there was never a reason to go to a second printing. Ebook sales were better, but still low. With Circle of Enemies, the ebook sales have been unexceptional, and the print book sales have been awful. Really awful.

Man, it sounds like your publisher really worked you over.

Ha ha! NO!

Seriously, Del Rey has been nothing but great and I wanted to be sure to cover this because there’s always someone out there who says “I liked this series but the author got screwed!”

That didn’t happen. What actually happened was that Del Rey gave me a ton of support. With Child of Fire they didn’t just send out ARCs to reviewers, they sent out Advanced Reader Editions–essentially, a copy of the book that looked like the final book, full-color cover and everything. Just last summer, to promote book three, Del Rey dropped the ebook prices for books one and two; book one is still at 99 cents right now. (More on that price drop later)

They did much more than that, too, including giveaways and offering me a spot in their “A Glimpse of Darkness” project.

Still, if you’d gone indie–

What? What could I have done? Earned a larger percentage of a dwindling series?

If I had “gone indie” I wouldn’t have gotten a “Best 100 Books of 2009″ from Publishers Weekly for Child of Fire. I wouldn’t have earned starred reviews from PW. I wouldn’t have gotten terrific reviews from Locus. I wouldn’t have gotten blurbs from Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Charles Stross, and so many more. I wouldn’t have Jim Butcher recommending my books to his readers while he’s touring for his latest novel. I wouldn’t have French, German or Russian editions. I wouldn’t have the omnibus edition from the Science Fiction Book Club.

I’m not listing these things because they’re fun merit badges I earned. This stuff sells books and reaches readers. But in my case, even all this wasn’t enough.

What’s more, the books wouldn’t have been edited. This is the platonic ideal of “burying the lede,” but I’ve been very lucky to work with editor-in-chief Betsy Mitchell, and my books wouldn’t be nearly as good as they are without her input.

But if all these great things happened, what happened to sales?

::sigh::

I’ve heard a lot of explanations about why the books haven’t sold as well as expected.

* The market is in turmoil.
* The protagonist isn’t likable enough.
* The covers (some readers really didn’t like the covers).
* Urban fantasy readers prefer women writers and protagonists.

I don’t like that last one.

I don’t like any of them. And I don’t believe them.

I don’t know much about covers but other writers are doing well right now, and if readers are embracing them in large numbers, they could also be embracing me. I’m talking about writers with grim protagonists/dark stories, dudes writing UF, series premiering in mmpb, the whole deal. If those other writers can reach large audiences, I should be able to do so, too. But I haven’t.

Have you figured out why?

That’s not really something I can ever know for sure, but… See, there are a lot of writers out there who never read reviews (which is a legit choice) but I’m not one of them. I like to skim through Amazon.com or Goodreads to see what people are saying. There are plenty of people who like the books, but a significant percentage are either “meh” or actively dislike them. Here’s a list of the main complaints I see from readers:

* No romance/romance angle mishandled
* Too fast-paced
* (on Child of Fire) Nothing happens for the first third of the book.
* Too much ghost knife
* Twenty Palace Society in particular and the setting in general weren’t explained clearly enough.

There were others, but those were the ones I heard most often.

The first two I don’t much worry about. I didn’t really want to write a romance novel, although I suppose I should have realized that Ray and Cynthia’s “morning after” conversation would have registered as a plot complication to many romance readers.

The folks who believed that nothing happened in the first third of Child of Fire confused me at first, until I realized that, until Ray and Annalise identify the villain they’ll be chasing, the plot question for the book was “What the hell is going on?” For some reason, a sizable segment of the readership doesn’t recognize that as legitimate narrative. That’s surprising and interesting to me.

As for the complaints about the overuse of the ghost knife, that was probably my miscalculation. I reasoned that, if I were writing a crime thriller, my protagonist could use a gun in scene after scene without annoying the reader, as long as he didn’t always do the same thing: he might shoot to kill, intimidate, break something, hit someone, whatever. I figured a single enchanted object would have a similar effect in the story, especially since I designed the second and third books so the spell didn’t work/couldn’t be used much of the time. Guess I figured that wrong.

Then there was the big one: that not enough was explained.

Most urban fantasy is what I (lovingly!) refer to as “tour guide” fantasy: the protagonist is an expert in the setting and part of the fun is letting them lead the reader through the world. Even when the protagonist is a noob, an advisor character will show up right around the quarter story mark to explain the situation. It gives some context to the story and makes the stakes more concrete.

And that’s fine in most cases. But it’s annoying to see a supposed secret society giving Our Fresh-Faced Hero a guided tour of their headquarters, complete with an introduction to the irreplaceable person in charge. It’s not realistic and it doesn’t make sense.

So having the magic, players, dangers, and stakes inferred by the protagonist based on the events of the book–leaving things mysterious, in other words–was a choice, and many readers didn’t care for it.

Learned something, have you?

Sure. There’s a balance between chasing what you think the market wants and who cares what the readers want? I think I’m negotiating it pretty well.

So let’s put that to use for book 4! When does the Kickstarter campaign start?

There isn’t going to be one.

Then you’re going to write it on spec and self-publish it?

No, I’m not planning to write another Twenty Palaces book right away.

Dude… Dude, you can’t just leave things where they were at the end of Circle of Enemies. It’s not fair.

I know. Jesus, I know that.

Look, I never planned to stop writing the series at this point, and I’m still not planning to stop. I also never expected the books’ sales to tank. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t.

Truthfully, that ending of Circle of Enemies, where [spoiler!] Ray and Annalise head off into the darkness, determined to change things for the better? I wrote that months before Game of Cages even hit the shelves. I figured that, even if my books never broke the bestseller lists, they’d do well enough that I’d be offered another contract… even if it was for less money.

The thing is, while the readers I have are seriously the finest people on the planet (hello, example number two of burying the lede), I mean, seriously wonderful people who have been fantastic about the books, there don’t seem to be all that many of them. When I mentioned that Circle of Enemies was not doing well, er, let’s call that polite understatement.

Sure, Borders closing hurts. Hurricane Irene delaying the mmpb from hitting the shelves at Barnes & Noble until two weeks after publication also hurts. But the Bookscan numbers didn’t jump when it finally did hit the shelves at B&N; they continued to drop. And while Bookscan doesn’t capture all sales, the percentage it does capture leaves no room for wiggling.

Circle of Enemies is a book I worked like crazy on. I tore my hair out over it. Then it tanked. The Bookscan numbers took four weeks just to barely break into four-digit sales. And ebook sales? They haven’t been great.

So I’m not kidding when I talk about a dwindling series. Because that’s really really bad.

The thing is, I think these books are successful artistically. They’re pretty much what I was hoping to create, and I think I did a good job.

But commercially it’s failed and there’s no one else to blame for that but me. It’s my job as an author to overcome hurdles, not blame them for tripping me. Cover art? Format? Weather? It doesn’t matter. It’s my job to write a book so awesome that it breaks through every barrier. And while there are readers who’ve really loved the series (best people on the planet, no joke) the numbers are irrefutable: there aren’t enough of them.

Even with all the promotions Del Rey has done?

Remember when I said I’d come back to the 99 cent Child of Fire promotion? That happened mid-July, and that first day I tweeted the hell out of it, and a lot of people helped me spread the word. As a result, the book climbed way up the Kindle contemporary fantasy list. It even surpassed Jim Butcher’s Ghost Story for a short while (a week before GS came out).

But it didn’t stick. Some readers who tried it recommended it to their friends, but not that many of them, and the book slowly sank back in the rankings.

Shortly after, I talked to my agent about it, and she thought I had assessed things correctly: Whatever we believed about the quality of the books, readers weren’t responding. If the books were going to reach a lot of people, it would have happened then.

So none of this is a surprise to you.

That’s wrong; I have been surprised. While it’s true that I indulged in that awful four-letter word that destroys happiness and wrecks plans (that would be “hope”) I never expected Circle of Enemies to sell so poorly.

This is sorta depressing

Jesus.

How about you tell us something that isn’t horrible, then?

I’m going to publish the prequel as soon as I can put it together, so readers who love Ray and Annalise can see how they met, how Ray betrayed her, how he created his ghost knife, and all that. Seriously, I’m hoping to have that together ASAP.

Beyond that, there are new books. A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark is the first novel I’ve ever written outside the Twenty Palaces setting. It’s pretty different (I wrote it as a change of pace from the grimmindark of the Ray Lilly novels) but still fast-paced, and still different from the usual sort of thing you see in urban fantasy (I hope). My agent likes it, but will it sell?

And of course there’s my current project, a second-world fantasy with the working title A Blessing of Monsters. Again, I’m planning something that’s hopefully a little different from the usual epic fantasy but is just as harrowing as the Twenty Palaces books have been. I’ve wanted to write a gigantic fantasy for a long time, and I’m excited to be working on it.

Also, for both of these projects? The story ends on the last page.

But I do have to move on. With luck, I’ll have learned enough from my earlier books to create something even better with these new projects. Someday, I hope to return to Ray Lilly and his world–I do have a long arc planned for him and the society–but I can’t do that right now.

I’m still pissed about being left hanging.

Sorry.

I know it says “(long)” in the subject header, but this post has gotten really, really long. Anything you want to say to wrap this up?

“Thank you,” is what I want to say. Thank you to everyone who’s read the books, recommended them to their friends, blogged or tweeted about them, or sent me kind notes. I hear all the time about authors having weird or contentious interactions with their readers, but that’s never happened to me. The fans of this series have been great.

There are no guarantees in writing. You work like crazy on a story that means a lot to you, and when you send it out into the world, it’s met with scorn, or indifference, or casual contempt. There are no guarantees that X will be a great story or that Y number of readers will fall all over it and spread the word. I know as well as anyone that no one owes me anything.

But I am humbled and grateful to everyone who has read and enjoyed these books. Thank you. I’m sorry there aren’t going to be more of them for a little while, but hopefully I can return to them in not too many years, and hopefully you will enjoy what I write in the meantime.

That’s all.

Added later:


210 thoughts on “It’s Official: The Twenty Palaces Series Has Been Cancelled (long)

  1. tobias s buckell

    Dude, you’re going to have a long and awesome career. Level-headed and calm and analytic. If we ever meet at a gathering, I’m buying drinks!

  2. Shecky

    No, Harry. Thank YOU. Twenty Palaces has been a wonderful ride, a departure from the norm that has been refreshing and new. For what it’s worth, I just don’t understand how these books haven’t been rocketing to the top of the charts; they’re THAT good in my thinking.

    Rest assured that I’ll be reading what you write from here on out. Keep the faith, man, and be proud of what you’ve done.

  3. Matt

    I’ve been reading your blog and books ever since Jim Butcher posted on his blog that you were worth the read. I’m sad to hear the news on this as yours is one of my favorite ongoing series, even surpassing Dresden. I look forward to your future work and I intend to purchase anything that you put out so long as you continue practicing your craft at such a high level of expertise. I’m sorry this series failed but I’m glad to hear that you’re not just quitting. Ray was a character that I would love to see go further but I can wait patiently so long as you continue to put out books of this quality. I hope that you don’t stress this too long because I have hard earned money to spend on you and it continues to burn a whole in my pocket as it waits on your next book.

  4. Janet O'Kane

    Thank you for a blisteringly honest post that goes where no other I’ve read has ever gone before. Should be required reading for anyone who, like me, has dreams of being published. I can only wish you good luck.

  5. Well, I am very sorry to hear (read) all this. As far as the covers, I thought they were great. I won’t even touch (let alone buy) one of those paranormal romance books with the chick in fetish leather on the front cover. I picked them up because I specifically wanted to avoid the whole romance angle. I liked these books because they were different from the PR. Sadly, PR is a genre that sells well. Inferior writers are doing very well at it.

    I do think it has a great deal to do with the fact that the market is in turmoil, and the glut of urban fantasy/paranormal romance books out there.

    Boo on this whole thing :( Well, I’ll be eager to read the backstory on Ray and Annelise. Hopefully someday these books will reach a more receptive audience.

    Anyway, keep writing!

  6. This is a serious bummer. It might not be as bad as, say, Robert Jordan dying before finishing WoT, but it’s a pretty serious bummer.

    Continue writing. I want more of your work, and I will pay my cold hard cash for it.

  7. Chad Underkoffler

    Harry:

    Re: Your points:
    “* Too much ghost knife
    * Twenty Palace Society in particular and the setting in general weren’t explained clearly enough.”

    I’d actually say they were combined: Too much (usage) of the GK, too little GK (and setting) info for many people.

    That being said, when I personally saw how you were keeping Ray in the dark about that sort of info, I thought it was a pretty bold choice. Was willing to trust you.

    And, to my taste, trusting you was paying off fine.

    After one of the villains in GoC LAUGHED at Ray for making his GK out of laminated paper, I got interested and scared for him.

    When we learned more about the spells on Ray and Annalise and the TPS society in CoE, I was like, “All right! This will pay off more in the next book!”

    So, there’s at least a few folks out here who saw what you were aiming at, I think.

    Luck with the new books! From how I liked the TPS ones, I know I’ll be picking these up.

  8. Mike from New Hampshire

    That was very classy. I had never heard of you or your series, but I saw the link to this post on a social media site. From the description I was expecting to see an amusing an Author Rant. Instead I got a very professional post.

    This blog just ended up in my RSS Reader. I hope you come out with something new soon.

  9. Damn it… I’ve just known the series through Fred Hicks and I really love the novels now. I can’t believe there won’t be more of them.

    I’m sad about it and I really hope we’ll see more of Twenty Palaces in the future. In the meantime I’ll buy all of your other novels.

    Selenio.

  10. John

    Aww man.

    That sucks. I love this series. I particularly love that it’s not “Chicks kicking butt” urban fantasy.

    I do agree with the last two criticisms. I would’ve liked to have seen something more given to Ray other than the ghost knife, as well as seeing more glimpses behind the Society. However, those weren’t enough to keep me from buying and reading the books, nor from enjoying them immensely. I look forward with great anticipation to whatever it is that you choose to write next.

  11. So sorry to hear about this! But I am glad I got to read at least three of these.

    I’m looking to your future books — especially the second world fantasy. I’ve been perhaps too much a fan of the genre.

  12. Iain Gibson

    I hope this is a series that readers will continue to pick up (with ebook publishing it shouldn’t go out of print, right?) because it was definitely developing in interesting ways and deserves a much bigger following.

    I was enjoying the story you were telling. And I trusted you to tell it the way you wanted to – I hate this idea of writing according to what the crowd thinks it wants.

  13. Oh, shit. You’re the third or fourth author whose series I follow who’s had the series canceled this year. I’m afraid to like anyone else’s books. :(

    I’m a picky reader, and I think the Twenty Palaces books are some of the finest urban fantasies out there. I like the ghost knife, and I like that you hint that there’s a lot more to it than we (and Ray) know. I like the furious action, I like the fact that there’s no obligatory love interst, I like the pacing and the plots and the worldbuilding. You are a damn fine writer, and don’t EVER let anyone convince you you’re not. Every reader wants something different from books, which is why there are so many books published each year. You can’t please everyone.

    Thanks for being honest with us, and I look forward to reading anything else you publish. I hope that includes Twenty Palaces novels at some point. I’m baffled by the lack of sales. I bought the ebook of Circle of Enemies since my local bookstores didn’t have the hardcopy on its release week, and I picked up a hardcopy this past week because I wanted it on my shelves with the other two books. I’ve recommended you to everyone I know, and reviewed your books on my blog. I even like your covers pretty well, especially for Circle of Enemies. Hey, at least they don’t have a headless girl with leather pants and tramp stamp on them. You and your publisher did everything right, so all I can figure is you were hit with a massive lump of bad luck. That doesn’t mean your books were bad.

    Anyway, keep writing. We’ll keep reading, no matter who publishes your books.

  14. Jim Taylor

    I want to say thank you for an excellent world in the Twenty Palace series. I read the fist book after seeing it recommended by reader on Jim Butcher.com in July, bought the first book on kindle as part of the .99 cent promo, and bought the next two from amazon as soon as I finished.

    I really enjoyed the artistic choices you made, and the fact that Ray was redeeming himself as the story took place. I am disappointed that there won’t be an immediate future for the Twenty Place books, but I I am thankful to have read them, and I will be picking up any future works you write.

  15. Ryan Lung

    Thanks for all your hard work! We appreciate it and wish you the best of luck in future writing endeavors

  16. Harry, you’re a class act. I’ll be following your page henceforth, if for no other reason than to see how to act when things don’t always go according to plan (or when they do).

    Hang in there, sir. Good writing prevails.

  17. mythago

    I’m not pissed about being left hanging, I’m sad that a good UF series is ending, at least for now. Fuckety, I’m sorry.

  18. Mike

    I’ll add my voice to all those disappointed and befuddled by this news. Not disappointed with your your work by any means…but with all the people who just didn’t get this series. I’ve recommended these books to everyone I know and they have all become fans. I guess outside of my little world people are a bit different.

    Thank you for these stories. They’ve gotten under my skin and into my imagination more than anything I’ve read in a very long time.

    Also, I remember a few months ago a series of tweets between you and Fred Hicks throwing around the idea of turning TPS into a role playing game…any information on that? Does/would this change anything in regards to any plans I hope might be in the works? IMHO I think this series could live on very well as an rpg…I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it happens.

  19. Shit, this sucks. I’m sorry they didn’t sell better. I guess the hardboiled/urban fantasy crossover isn’t as big as one might guess. We’ll be looking forward to the new series.

  20. I’m there for anything you write, man. Loved the short stories you have up on Amazon, too. Anything I can do to help you deploy the prequel, or subsequent stuff, etc, let me know.

  21. Delphine

    Aw, I’m so sorry. I discovered the series this summer on twitter thanks to the ebook discount you mention (which, by the way, got me seriously hooked and I bought paper copies of all three books).
    Thank you for the best urban fantasy series I’ve read in years.I’ll keep an eye no your future projects for sure.

  22. I liked the covers as well, but some folks have been critical. And I did find my first two books shelved in mystery/suspense just last week.

    And thank you. I’m certainly not ready to give this up now.

  23. It’s an interesting challenge to tackle a big, second-world fantasy, although I’m sad that there are so many mystery/UF books on my to-read shelf that are going to collect dust for a while.

  24. I’ve long believed that a writer creates their own market. It’s best to make something that people want, but didn’t realize they wanted.

    And I’m going to keep trying for that.

  25. Damn, I’m sorry to hear this. Still, it’s great to hear that there are more books coming. You’ve hooked me as a reader. I’m sure I’ll be buying the ebooks as soon as they come out.

  26. A Twenty Palace rpg is out of my hands, to be honest. I don’t know the first thing about creating them. I’ve told Fred that, if he has the time and interest, I’d help however I could.

    But it’s possible that it wouldn’t work with his schedule, so who knows?

  27. Megazver

    Dang. Love the series, hope you get to return to them after your stand-alones become huge hits and you snorkel in a pile of delicious money, the bills gently rubbing your nouveau-riche skull.

    Trying out different genres is probably not a bad idea. We’ll follow you all the way, or at least as far as we can without it being super-creepy.

  28. Well crap, sorry to hear that Harry. I just read “Child of Fire” a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been looking forward to picking up the sequels. CoF is just what I like in urban fantasy – dark, violent and yet hopeful. It’s a damn shame it hasn’t found the audience it deserves.

    Good luck with the new projects (and I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that prequel and future Twenty Palaces stories).

    Also WTF – people don’t like the ghost knife? Man, it’s the shit!

  29. Piles of delicious money = Yay!
    Super-creepy = Yikes!

    Seriously, thank you. I’m going to keep writing stuff I think is cool, but it’s good to hear that folks will be following to new projects.

  30. I don’t know what to tell you, Dave. I’d love to have a ghost knife, if only to use as a can opener.

    Thanks. The sequels are still good and I think (unsurprisingly) worth reading. There just won’t be any more for a while.

  31. I’m extremely sadden to hear this. I absolutely love the 20P novels and JUST finished Circle of Enemies today! It’s got such a great ending that screams for book four. I know you’ve got to take a break, but please don’t let Ray sit for too long.

    I cannot wait to read the next Harry Connolly novel, whatever it may be.

  32. David Bennett

    I’m really sorry to hear that. I bought Child of Fire on the 99¢ deal, finished it the next day and immediately downloaded Game of Cages and pre-ordered Circle of Enemies. I also bought all three books so my wife could check them out. I just wanted to say that I’m a huge fan and I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us. Thank you for an wonderful if abbreviated series.
    David

  33. Oh this just breaks my heart. I love this series! And honestly, the ghost knife was my favorite piece of magical weaponry ever.

    I will, of course, buy whatever you write, but I’m gonna miss Ray and Annalise.

  34. You don’t know me from Adam, but I saw this on a social media link, and let me just say it’s insanely refreshing to see an author say “Look, my big traditional publisher was GREAT, they went to the mat for me, and stuff just doesn’t work out sometimes,” in the vast sea of “Go indie, the big traditional publishers want to drink your blood!” posts out there.

    My first book tanked and hard–it won awards, but nobody bought it, and even now I get e-mails going “But where’s the rest of the story?” and have to explain that since nobody read it, there isn’t going to be more. I feel bad for leaving loose ends dangling, but the grim reality is that nobody’s gonna buy a sequel to sales numbers that dismal. So believe me…I’ve been there, it sucks hard…but them’s the breaks, and you just gotta move on and write something else.

    I wish you the very best of luck with the next set of projects, and may your future numbers have lots of zeroes at the end!

  35. Ed Lemon

    Let me add mine to the voices lamenting the closing of the Twenty Palaces series (at least for now!). I read a ton of urban fantasy, science fiction, paranormal romance, you-name-it, and found Ray and Annalise to be as fascinating and engrossing characters as any others I’ve followed. Please don’t get discouraged. I’ll certainly buy anything you write in the future.

  36. That sucks. I loved those books and looking at their Amazon ranking (which I know isn’t the whole story), they are selling at least some. It’s sad it wasn’t enough. Hopefully you will decide to return to the series at some point, but I can see why taking a break would be good for your mental health.

    Best wishes for your next books :)

  37. RKB

    When I saw this the first thing I said loudly was the F word.

    Let me be a fangirl for a minute.

    After I read the first book, I nabbed the second and third books right after they were published. I literally SQUEEEED when I read them. I told my friends to buy them. I posted on FB about it.

    I don’t understand any of the criticisms reviewers had for the series. It rocked, I never had a problem with the ghost knife, I didn’t need a romance, and I was perfectly fine not knowing everything immediately.

    Frankly, I’m really tired of the “kick butt take names” females in urban fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, I still read a lot of them, but I’m having major fatigue. It was so refreshing to have a male character who did his best to do the right thing while creepy stuff was happening. Plus, you had Annalise as the kick butt female, so I don’t understand the complaint.

    At least you have a good reason not to finish up the series (yet.) I’ve been waiting almost 20 !@#$ING years for the 5th book in the Chtorr series by David Gerrold. I hope you don’t do the same thing. ;-)

  38. Spot

    Hi Harry! Shecky got me hooked on your books, and I had to go out and buy the 2nd and 3rd books the MOMENT I finished book 1. It’s a bummer that the series got cancelled for “business/sales” reasons, because frankly, the writing is great! Sure, there were differences between what most people know as urban fantasy and the way you’ve penned Ray’s world, but that’s what’s called “differences in writing style”. That’s what makes it so fun to read different authors – the way you build your worlds and draw us readers into them. I look forward to reading anything else you write and hope that someday you do get back to telling Ray’s story.

  39. Don

    Dude, I am totally bummed for you but I have to say a few things.

    One, the hating on the “over-use” of the ghost knife? That’s INSANE. The fact that it’s Ray’s only real magical tool but at the same time seemingly so unstoppable is a FANTASTIC story device. I never stopped wondering what exactly that was about.

    The villain who laughs at the fact that he’s being killed by one just made it all the more interesting. Is it amazing or not? Is it just that Ray uses it in a creative way, or that being limited to it drives him to ironically be more formidable?

    Two, this supposed sense of being left hanging? Also somewhat nuts. One of the things I’ve so completely loved about this series is how it hews to the traditions of noir. We don’t know what’s going on but neither does our hero. Everything isn’t tied up in a nice neat little bow, shit is messy and bloody and some things never make any damned sense. It’s fantastic and appropriate.

    To end the story with a pivot in direction and alliances – Ray being closer to an equal but still keeping the secret of his hidden spell book – is a perfect transition and it means that if nothing else ever happens we have a sense of completeness. If folks are complaining that THAT feels like a cliffhanger… they just don’t know what really being left hanging feels like.

    Three, I really think you’ve made something with legs here. I am sure I don’t understand the business well enough to know if that makes up for anything but I have zero doubt people are going to continue to discover and love this series. The majority of urban fantasy out there isn’t really urban noir the way your stuff is.

    The Dresden series is great fun but there is nowhere near the sense of darkness and stakes there is for Ray Lily, particularly now that we’re in what I think of a Monty Haul territory, with the players having massive power levels. I don’t know that I can think of much that’s in the same wheelhouse as 20P society, though it feels to me like Emma Bear plus crime novelization.

    I have to think there’s a market for your stuff but maybe it’s very specialized. Maybe it just doesn’t fit in with the nature of most urban fantasy. I think that’s a good thing, but it’s hard to be a Parker novel when everything else is Spencer. But I know there’s an audience. The people who love Brubaker’s comic book noir are for sure people open to fantasy.

    Maybe that’s no consolation – Gotham Central got cancelled, after all – but if there’s value to you in continuing to sell the books in the coming years I have complete faith.

    And if not… sorry. For what it’s worth I loved them and you can be sure I’ll continue to look for your work.

  40. Hey, my son has read and liked your Dragonbreath books!

    Thanks for the kind words. I had to stand up and be clear about how great Del Rey has been. They really did right by me, and there would be a deep, dark, burning hot room in the hell I don’t believe in if I wasn’t up front about that.

  41. Thank you.

    The Amazon.com sales rankings can be a little misleading. Amazon includes their sales in the Bookscan figures, and sales rankings in the four figures or higher represent very few actual sales.

  42. Don, thank you. I loved Gotham Central, too, but I understand why it eventually failed.

    The truth is, noir has always been more respected than popular, and I think that’s what I’m seeing here. It sucks, but readers are most honest when they stand in a store with their credit card in hand, and I’ve gotten the message.

  43. Steve

    Well, shit.

    :-(

    Amazing and classy write-up of a sucky situation, Harry. I’ll certainly keep on the lookout for your upcoming works. And I guess I’ll be buying an e-reader so that I can pick up the prequel as well…

  44. Ernesto Montalve

    Best of lucks.
    I know how hard is to write and what we held dear well is just dear to us and not everyone else.

    Keep writing and I hope you succede in the future man.

  45. That’s interesting. I know for my stuff (which is self-published, so I see the sales daily), the ebook ranks at least are fairly clear in how many (within a small error range) sales it takes to hit that rank. I noticed that your books were all in the 5,000 range or so, which is generally 10-20 sales per day. Sure, not a ton of sales, but 6k sales a year isn’t anything to be ashamed of.
    Of course, I checked your rankings today, after you announcement, so there might some sales inflation due to people hearing about the series cancellation and grabbing the books. I don’t know.

    Bookscan includes ebook sales? Mine only tracks the paper sales that I can see. Is there a way to get it to track ebook sales as well?

  46. Wow, this blew my mind. And when I say that, I mean it feels like I sucked on a barrel of a gun and pulled the trigger. As a fan and as a writer, this is terrible, heartbreaking news. I came to the series fairly late, but have taken to spreading the good word about it whenever I could (I was the one who did the Fantasy Faction review). Again, as a fan, the thought of not reading more in the series any time soon depresses me, but from a business standpoint I completely understand. As a writer, I thank you for laying out such a complete picture of the circumstances. It certainly grounds me.
    In more positive news, I’ll definitely check out anything else you write, and you now know you’ve got a diehard fan here in Manila, for what it’s worth. If you ever get down here or need someone to promote your stuff here, just drop me a line.
    Good luck, and we’ll still be reading (and hoping).

  47. Scott Slater

    Thank you Harry. Thank you for writing Stories I enjoy with characters I care about :)

    Keep doing it, I’ve got more shelf space set aside for you :)

  48. Morgan Collins

    I picked up the first book about two weeks ago, and then read all three in the course of several days. While I’m sad to see the first part of this journey end so quickly after its discovery, I look forward to your future stories. You are ridiculously talented – I look forward to reading your future works.

    Thank you for a vision worth waiting for.

  49. Bookscan doesn’t include ebooks, just paper, and I was looking at the mass market sales rankings, which are quite high.

    Still, 6K sales a year publishing through Random House is a career-ending failure. The publicity, marketing, and expectations are pretty different.

  50. I discovered the books after Butcher and Priscilla tweeted the glory of them, and I fell in love with them too. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and I thank you for sharing your world with us.

  51. Yeah, different level, I guess. That’s too bad. I’m glad to hear about a prequel though.

    Anyway, good luck. Seriously. Career bumps happen to us writers. Sounds like you have a plan for going on and I hope it works out. :)

  52. William

    This blog post is a perfect example of why you have so many loyal followers: honesty, openness, integrity… Your fans love you, Harry.
    Please don’t give up. If you write, we’ll read!

  53. Reverance Pavane

    I’m saddened to hear this. I was really looking forward to the fourth book. Hopefully it won’t be a full martin before the next one comes out (if only because it means I’m more likely to be around to read it).

    And don’t be so quick to dismiss a Kickstarter ransom once you get over this bad news. There has to be a way to leverage the social capital you’ve gained already.

    Anyway, thank you for the journey so far. I look forward to reading A Key, an Egg, an Unfortunate Remark when it comes out (as I am sure it will), as well as any other books you may write. And hopefully, someday, one of them may be the next Twenty Palaces novel.

  54. OZ

    I was very sad to hear about the series being cancelled. I honestly don’t remember how I got my copy of Child of Fire. I think I just picked it up off the shelf at Borders and read the cover blurb. I have eagerly looked forward to the later books and have not been disappointed in them.I really can’t say why they didn’t catch on with more readers. I was surprised. I wonder if they would have done better with the horror crowd than with the standard urban fantasy group.

    I wish you the best of luck with your new books and I will be looking to buy them as soon as they hit the stores. My hope (there’s that four letter word again )is that time will bring more readers into the 20 Palaces fold and readership will increase to the point to make publishing future books feasible. Regardless of what happens I am sorry for your loss and (again) wish you the best for your future.

  55. Steve Ellis

    I’m halfway through Child of Fire and enjoying it- but given the new economics of publishing (going ebook), might it be worth self-epublishing some short stories from the TPS univserse and then working up to Book 4 for sale as a download or Kindle exclusively?

  56. bryan broyles

    Well, you’ve confirmed what I’ve long suspected. People are stupid. However, in a more narrow lane, you’ve also confirmed what I suspected, urban fiction has to have werewolves, vampires, wizards and look very, very familiar to be really popular.

    Hey, maybe Ray is a vampire/werewolf hybrid with sex addiction?

  57. I would be totally up for a Kickstarter if I thought the book would grow my readership. But I have a limited amount of time and have try something new first.

    And thank you.

  58. Thank you very much. It’s not often I hear a reader picked up my book on a whim.

    And yeah, that four-letter word can be pretty harsh. I still have it, though, and plan to bring these characters back.

  59. Frankly, if I thought people were stupid I wouldn’t be trying to write for them. It’s on me to catch their attention, and I don’t need to write lowest common denominator genre stuff to do it.

    I’m glad you like my books and I hope you continue to do so, but I don’t want to bash those readers and writers who like traditional creatures and romantic or sexual plotlines, mainly because I’m one of them.

  60. bryan broyles

    I’m not bashing the urban fantasy main stream. i like the Dresden Files and Patricia Higgs’ stuff. I am, where you certainly should not, bashing people in general. I think that the average reader of standard genre work would enjoy your books a great deal, but they don’t fit their expectations, so you don’t get a chance.

    I’m sorry to see a good, and promising future, series stop for this reason. I look forward to your next works, and anticipate they’ll be good.

  61. Reverance Pavane

    I’d be in favour of an Evil Hat Twenty Palaces game. I think we’ve reached the stage with the third book that there is enough canonical information to actually enable it. But world design for an RPG generally needs to close the gaps that you can readily miss in a story, so it does mean trusting your baby to whoever does actually write the game.

  62. Yes & no. The “information is not complete” angle can be a feature of a game when the PCs are people in an informational position similar to Ray’s. Yes, we’d need to get a little more detail about the protocols and organization of the 20PS, but not necessarily a LOT more, and I think I’d make magic a “player authored” thing under certain specific guidelines to ensure that the spells (and predators for that matter) created for a given campaign feel like they’re at home in the novels. Mortality would probably run high too (cuing off of a Wooden Men concept), so musing about it has me wondering if the right fit would at a midpoint found somewhere among Gamma World, Call of Cthulhu, and Dresden Files. Quick character creation, quick spell and patron creation, all of that. Get going ASAP, get thrown into a situation with minimal info, and try to figure your way out without getting dead and with minimal collateral damage. All in a day’s work for Ray.

  63. Jason T

    Harry,
    Sorry to hear it, and I couldn’t say it any more eloquently than others posting before. But, you know, I envy the ride you’ve had thus far, and you’re just getting started. So best of luck on whatever’s next, and you can count on me to be in line on release day (metaphorically, anyway, since I’m a bit of a homebody).

  64. Thanks, Jason. It has been pretty great so far, except for the gigantic commercial failure part. At least I failed with the books I wanted to write.

    And I hope you like the upcoming books just as much.

  65. Nick McVeigh

    Harry,

    I just wanted to thank you for writing the books. It’s a shame that they weren’t successful commercially but I’m glad that this experience hasn’t totally soured you on writing.

    Good luck and I look forward to reading your next work.

  66. Matthew

    Harry, I was really looking forward to reading your series for at least the next decade. I too am baffled at the low sales. I hope you can come back to the Twenty Palaces Society, but in the meantime I’ll definitely follow any of your other work. Child of Fire was the first book in a very long time that I had to finish in a single sitting. I for one loved the fast pace, the ghost knife, and being kept in the dark about the nature of the magic (so I can’t start second-guessing the way they use it) as well as a book that finally presented other-worldy horrors that actually take a toll on mankind and force the hero to make difficult choices. I picked up Child of Fire on Jim Butcher’s endorsement, and I still love Dresden Files, but I have to say that after Ray Lilly’s hardboiled grit, Dresden starts looking a little campy. Best of luck to you sir.

  67. Paul

    You are a great writer. The Twenty Palaces Society is one of the most exiting and interesting series I’ve ever read and I know more people will find it and love it.

  68. William

    Damn, this sucks. I like the series precisely because of all of those things that you listed as it’s faults. Well, how about this then: Get another series going, become successful, then go back to Twenty Palces and finish the story.

  69. Diana

    I was directed here by a fan of yours upset with the cancellation of your series. I find this post heartbreaking to read. I’m sorry that this happened to you.

    I suggest setting all of this aside until the sting fades a bit and you can be more objective. I think the reader’s reviews will hold the answer to what you can do to make your stories into bestsellers. I doubt that you feel like listening to them (or me) at the moment.

    Best of luck to you.

  70. Dave

    I just wanted to say that I’ve re-read all three books that I’ve purchased on my kindle and I must say that I truly do agree with you on the nature of secret societies.

    I’ve personally recommended your works to at least 5 or so people, if not more and have linked your trailer for the series on my personal facebook page.

    Honestly, I think the issue with the sales is more due to the Urban Fantasy genre being too formulaic.

    As someone who wants to get into writing, I’ve found your work inspirational and I thank you for sharing it with us.

  71. LabRat001

    I got the first two books based on Charlie Stross letting you play in his sandpit. I bought the third based on how much I enjoyed the first two. I’ve passed the first around a lot to people who I think will enjoy it. Pretty much everything identified as a problem are things that attracted me to the series.

    No romance/romance angle mishandled – Good If I wanted a “romance novel” I’d have bought one. Why am I interested in who Ray’s seeing outside of work.

    Too fast-paced – No such thing. I read quickly, all novels are “fast paced”.

    Nothing happens for the first third of the book – so I had an hour or so of scene setting, big deal. (see too fast paced)

    Twenty Palace Society in particular and the setting in general weren’t explained clearly enough. – EXCELLENT!!! I have no background with them and know nothing about them, Ray is in basically the same boat so I get to learn as he does, no chapters of exposition with no real in character rationale.

    Too much ghost knife – I saw the knife as the P.I.’s handgun but feel that guns are ubiquitous. We all know what they are, how they work, how people respond to them. You don’t need to explain any of that to the reader for a story to work. It felt like a straight swap of gun for magic item but you didn’t replace all the assumed knowledge. I realise this was deliberate to go along with the “Ray doesn’t understand how magic works” thing but I just don’t think you pulled it off. I’d have been easier with Ray with a gun under his armpit that simply failed to help him in the ways he expected it to because of the nature of the people he pointed it at or possibly with a ghost knife analogue that he’d been handed by the society that he was trying to use without understanding. The fact that Ray made the knife didn’t work for me.

    I’m real sad that the books haven’t been selling but looking forward to the next work you get published. Good luck!

  72. Does my post here not seem objective?

    Thank you for the kind words, but I don’t know where you get the stuff about not feeling like listening. This post isn’t a big drama fest.

  73. Thank you, Dave. Good luck with your own writing and I gotta say, even though my series didn’t do well, I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything.

    And thank you also for spreading the word. That’s what makes a book thrive, and I appreciate it.

  74. Kate

    Noooo… I so loved this series, as I do the Dresden books. And I thought the fast pacing, the ghost knife, the developing interactions with Annalise, and the Society’s background were incredibly creative. I’ve recommend this series to several people (still will).

    And romance? One wasn’t alluded to here and I didn’t expect it. I don’t have that expectation from Jim Butcher’s books, or Simon Greene’s, or other good urban fantasy authors.

    I’m a little dubious about the poor sales – especially on ebooks (I can’t speak to paperback sales – no one is selling ‘well’ in paper). Your ranking for your books, which is visible on Amazon, is quite good (excellent some might say). It is unfortunate that you don’t have direct insight into how that translates into sales figures. My intent is not to cast aspersions on your publisher – I’m sure they have reasons for their evaluations – I’m just saying something doesn’t add up.

    I also think you’ve been quite objective. Your review number distribution is in line with other bestselling authors, the spread between 4&5, 3, and 2&1 is quite good and standard for decent sales in general.

    Hope to see something turn around here for you – and hopefully for Ray Lilly. I also hope your readers and reviewers (of which there have been many) will come out of the woodwork to change this resolution at some point.

  75. Samantha

    Well, I hate that this happened to you. I read Child of Fire as the August book club selection on the Charlaine Harris website and thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought the lack of background information was refreshing and a great way to pique curiosity. Looking forward to reading your future works.

  76. Kirsten

    I’m sorry that your series is canceled. I love it! I read the first due to the good reviews from Jim Butcher.

    I love the ghost knife. I love that Ray created this weapon, and has a particular dislike of guns due to his past experience. I especially like the character of Ray. Like or dislike of him, I feel that I understand him somewhat, and was looking forward to getting to know him better. I like the fast pace. I like the world building. I especially like that the concept and path of the series was different, and more exciting than other urban fantasy books that are currently out.

    It may simply be that these books haven’t been popular with readers simply because they are so different then what is currently out there. The book is picked up with reader expectations that aren’t fulfilled in the way that they are expecting and result in troubled feelings from the reader.

    I love you books and will continue to buy what you write. Again, sorry!

  77. Nick Sharps

    Hey man, I’m really sorry to hear about all this. I love the Twenty Palaces novels, Ray especially. For me, Child of Fire is exactly how The Wickerman SHOULD have been. Anyway you’ll have my continued support as a customer and fan. Good luck.

  78. Nick Sharps

    Oh, also the whole “A Blessing of Monsters” thing? I can’t wait to see your take on epic fantasy!

  79. Thank you for the kind words, Kate.

    There’s no need to be dubious about the ebook sales. I know what the rankings are, and they aren’t excellent by my standards, nor by Del Rey’s. As I mentioned in a reply to a previous comment, what may be reasonably successful in one context is a total failure in others. And the sales for these books have been very low.

  80. It’s true that every reader brings a basket of expectations with them, and it’s my job to address them in some way, either by fulfilling them or subverting them, or whatever.

    The big trouble comes when readers feel their expectations were ignored.

    Thank you very much and I hope you like what I have coming up.

  81. You’ve made a huge fan out of me already. Sure I’d love more Twenty Palaces (and hope someday we’ll be able to return to the universe), but I really enjoy your view/imagination and can’t wait to see whatever you come up with next.

    FYI, I came to your books with a background in mathematics and thought your depiction of “things from other dimensions” was incredible.

    Thank you.

  82. Michael B Sullivan

    Hey Harry,

    Well, I really like the Twenty Palaces Society, but I think that Circle of Enemies is actually a pretty good… pausing point. It seems a lot like it closes one chapter in Ray’s life, and while there are a lot of unanswered questions, it’s a resolution of sorts.

    I’m confident that your star as a writer will rise, and that one day, if you’re still interested, you’ll have the opportunity to write more 20PS books.

    In the mean-time, I’m interested in your upcoming projects.

  83. I count myself lucky to be in the too-small audience for the Ray Lilly books, and the people outside it as unlucky. You’re a damn good writer and I look forward to all the stories you’ll give us in the future.

  84. I was trying to peck this out on my phone on the way out of town for the weekend, right as the new phone stole activation from the old…

    I’m sorry to hear this, both for what it means for you as well as for the entirely selfish reason that *I want to know what happens next, dammit.*

    But in the meantime I’ll hope for the opportunity to read “A Key, An Egg…” and entertain myself by imagining an alternate Twenty Palaces sequel as a road trip buddy comedy starring Ray and Annalise. The obligatory radio singalong montage sequence will be *epic.*

  85. Couple of things I’d like to say: 1. I loved book one. You did not overuse the Ghost knife; it was perfectly executed. 2. Book one did not need romance. You showed his humanity and did a wonderful job of it. 3. It might have gotten a tad implausible at the end, but all in good fun, nothing to sneer at there. 4. I don’t blame you for not self-publishing the first–you got a great deal from the publisher, but 5. You should publish book 4 on your own. Whatever it sells, it will sell. Yes, romance will help; just another bit of humanity something that we all need to feel and a connection that most of us enjoy (don’t go overboard!) Even putting romance in book 4 will help sales of books 1 -3 as word gets around to (especially) female buyers. We have a soft spot for romance, it is true.

    The book was about as perfectly written as a book can be. The story was engaging, the characterization was fabulous. You did your job; I don’t care what anyone else says.

    Why didn’t the book sell? Well, I didn’t hear a thing about it until the summer sale. PW and all those other places aside, never heard of it. It was not in my GR social circle, it did not make my facebook circle, it did not make any of the (too many) forums I frequent looking for book titles.

    I bought it during the summer sale, but guess what? I’m an author, I’ve done sales in the summer and in the other seasons. Summer sales simply do not work as well as other seasons. People do not buy as many books. That sale was a great thing because it introduced people to your books, but my last summer sale did the same thing yours did (minus the climbing above Butcher’s book). Great sales while it was being blogged about and no sticking power. It could be that our books stink or our covers stink, but I think it has more to do with who is shopping when. In the summer I’ve found ebook buyers just buy less–and they buy the sales and those books could sit around MONTHS before getting read. Thus you don’t see follow-through (if you see it) until late fall (IMO).

    This summer in particular, for some of the reasons you mentioned, was particularly bad.

    The one thing I’d like you to take away from this from this reader: There is nothing wrong with the book. It’s a very, very good 5 star book. It may not have had the luck of the ages behind it, it may not have sold for whatever reason, but it wasn’t the plot, it wasn’t the writing and it wasn’t the story. It’s a good book.

    Thank you for writing it.

  86. Jason

    I’ve bought a total of four of your books, and got my friends to buy another four, and I’ll buy whatever you put out next. To be honest the TP books were the only things on the (distant or not) horizon I was looking forward to reading.

    I’ll keep pushing this series and so will my friends. We love it, and we know other people that will as well. We’ll be you wings of hunger. Or maybe your sapphire dogs?

  87. Contrarius

    Hey Harry —

    I’m so sorry to hear about the cancellation. I got introduced to your books thanks to Jim Butcher’s web site, and I have enjoyed all three of them. IMHO a large part of the “problem” with your sales is what a few other folks have mentioned — UF tends to be formulaic, and your stuff just doesn’t fit the formula. Now, that’s a SELLING point for me personally — but the difficulty in really fitting your stuff into a convenient slot can put a lot of people off. And that sucks.

    I don’t think your books are perfect (e.g. I could live with a less powerful Ghost Knife, and those creatures inside the Book of Oceans did not do it for me at all), but there’s a lot of good stuff in them. I look forward to reading your upcoming non-series books, and I’ll say a big prayer for you that they sell well!

  88. So sorry to hear this. I really do think it’s more due to “bad market” than you are saying here. I’ve had a series canceled this year, too. And another series put out to pasture. And there are a lot of stories of similar things from friends of mine.

    For what it’s worth, I loved your series. It’s one of the few ones that I was desperate to find the new book of, while other series I could wait on. I also hope you return to the series in time, and for the best of success in the future as a writer. Whatever you turn to, I will be waiting as a reader.

  89. KoNekko

    Hmmm…that TV show Roswell from the 90s was brought back by fans, and the “Firefly” TV fans managed to get that movie “Serenity” made. Are there enough of us to get Twenty Palaces resuscitated? We could do our own version of Occupy Wall Street wherever the books are published? ;-)

    But seriously, I am *really* sad that I am going to have to wait to find out more. But I also have total confidence I am only going to be waiting – the rest of story will get told.

    You are a talented writer, Harry, and you write engaging stories, so this has to be a minor setback.

    You are also the *only* blog I’ve ever bothered to follow because the glimpses you give us of your life here show you have a pretty cool brain. You find neat stuff online that even blows away my software developer boyfriend, and you post often enough that I drop by on my lunch hour every day to see what you’re posting. You’re cool, Harry. Now the masses just have to figure that out.

    Speaking of the masses, didn’t Jim Butcher write “Storm Front” as an attempt to lampoon/insult formulaic writing as it was being taught in the writing class he was taking at the time? (Don’t get me wrong, I love Jim Butcher! His website is how I found you.) But that’s one side of the coin.

    On the other side, I read “A Game of Thrones” when it came out in 1996. So it only took popular culture 15 years to catch on to that one…

    There are many paths to success, and you’ll find yours. I’m just glad you’re writing other things, because I’m going to be seriously surprised (not to mention suffering from unanswered questions about Twenty Palaces) if you aren’t wildly successful eventually.

    You write it, I’ll buy it! :-) Keep up the good work, Harry!

  90. megazver

    As a silly suggestion, if I were you I’d also consider trying to pitch something for DC’s Vertigo. (I hear Marvel is really nice to work for right now, but I’m not sure if you’re interested in that one.)

  91. Well, the end of CoE was supposed to wrap up this part of the story and lead into the next, but I know there are lots of people out there who will feel let down.

    And thank you.

  92. You’re welcome, Maria, and thank you for your kind words. I will be self-publishing the prequel, and I hope to see that come out sometime soon.

    Personally, I don’t think a book’s popularity is too dependant on a book’s quality (past a certain level). While I think I wrote three good books, it’s undeniable that they haven’t been popular. Which is fine and a truth that can’t be denied. I’ll just be trying again with something new.

    Best wishes,

  93. Thanks, Jason, but not sapphire dogs! Contrary to the joke I made a couple weeks back, I’m anti-licking. :)

    And I’m glad to hear that you’re going to keep recommending the books. Very glad.

  94. It’s true that a lot of writers have had their series ended prematurely, but there have been a few who have kept going. I’m hoping to become one of them.

    But thank you very much.

  95. I bought A Game of Thrones when it first came out, too. I love that series. (I’m a fan of Butcher’s, too.)

    And thank you for the kind words. I don’t know how cool I am; I’m usually surrounded by an anti-cool field.

    Anyway, I hope you do like what I have coming up. Thanks.

  96. Thank you for writing such a great series. That list of complaints from readers? Most of those were reasons why I love the books. “What the hell is going on?” is the one narrative technique guaranteed to pull me into a book head-first.

    I took a course in college (Science Fiction and Social Reality; isn’t college awesome?) where we read Dawn by Octavia Butler. The first part of the book, where Lilith was stuck in a room and didn’t know what was going on? Fantastic. Most of the other students seemed to think the beginning was really slow, though. So, it’s not just you, and not just your books, that are running into this problem.

    I look forward to reading whatever you write in the future, Twenty Palaces or no.

  97. Scott McKenzie

    I am disappointed to hear that the series will not continue, like most of the folks commenting. I came to your website to see when the next book would appear and … no next book. I picked up the SFBC edition because I liked the premise and I think Butcher and Harry Dresden are great fun. I’m going to give the book to my son at college this weekend and I can guarantee you’ll have another fan. I cannot imagine any Butcher fan not to love your stuff and want more. Good luck, I look forward to your next work.

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  99. Mark

    Don’t let it get you down. People in general are stupid drones. Have you read anything by Eric Nylund? Everything he writes is GOLD but nobody remembers him for anything but Halo novelizations. Read “Mortal Coils” then ask yourself why the publisher hasn’t ordered the third book.

    I loved your books. I heard about the first two from Jim Butcher’s website, then sat on pins and needles for the rest of the summer waiting for the third one. I hope you come back to it again someday. And never let them complain that your characters are too powerful. You just need to ramp up the peril, not dumb down your protagonists. Look at how listening to fans about that ruined the show Heroes.

    It’s sad that UF that isn’t soft core goth smut doesn’t do well in today’s market.
    Check out T.A. Pratt at marlamason.net. He’s continuing a UF series with fan donations.

  100. Steven

    I’m in mourning, here. I loved the books. I recommended them to friends. I found this post because I logged onto Amazon hoping to pre-order the next book, even though I knew it was probably months until the announcement came as to title or date.

    There ought to be another alternative to the end of the series without costing you any good will at Penguin or coming at a financial hardship to you. Something like a Kickstarter campaign (raise $x and the next book is written); a number of us recently contributed to help fund a project for a Buffy alum: Ripper. Or an option to purchase the book at a higher price (say $20) in e-book form, only, where profits should be higher without the cost of printing: 5,000 fans at $20 in place of 50,000 fans at $5 with a margin of $2.

    In an era when Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long-blog can be published free, then money made on DVD’s, there ought to be a way for authors and publishers to make it work. Otherwise they’re doing the equivalent of Boeing producing the Dreamliner: repeatedly betting the company on the design and manufacture of the next generation of the modern flying castle. Big books, big sales, or bust. There should be a way to roll the dice on series where they’ve already invested time and effort into marketing it and developing a fan base, where a predictable number of sales can be made, and to tailor the price of the end-product to fit the cost to produce and the number of known, dedicated fans. It would make good business sense, some middle ground between “we’re publishing your next three books” to “the series is discontinued.”

    Great work though, especially for your first series. Congratulations. You earned some good will on this. I’ll definitely be giving your next books a chance, when they come out.

  101. John Polk

    Harry,

    Thank you for writing these novels. I’m certain that I will be rereading my copies until they fall apart on me.

    The thing that is killing me most is the sheer number of unanswered questions and unconfirmed theories about Ray and the TPS I have. My fingers are crossed that I can get at least some answers at a later date.

    I eagerly await your upcoming works.

  102. Honestly, I don’t think people are stupid drones. I think they buy what they like, and their personal tastes aren’t measures of their personal value or intrinsic virtue.

    And I have been following Tim Pratt’s work for a while: in fact, the inclusion of a character named T(alcott) A(rnold) Pratt in Game of Cages officially makes that book PrattPunk.

    Also, his success with Marla Mason short fiction spurred me to tentatively schedule some Twenty Palaces short fic for the spring.

  103. Steven, with luck I’ll be able to grow my readership with these new books and return to the Twenty Palaces series in the near future. But I can’t keep at them when every installment brings in fewer readers than the ones before.

    I am grateful to everyone who liked the books, especially those who recommended them to friends. I do hope to go back to this series.

  104. Geoff

    I’m sorry to hear about the cancellation, but I think the writing industry is a lot like the comic book universe. Dead doesn’t always mean dead. I will keep hoping for a return of Ray Lilly as he has become one of my favorite UF protagonists.

    As so many others have said, the things you listed as faults were things I enjoyed about your series. I liked how information on the 2ops was parceled out only a teeny bit at a time. At the end of CoE I was looking forward to seeing the first palace. Now I will have to wait until some bright person decides to bring Ray back.

    Another thought, after seeing your very cool trailer is that you may want to try pitching it as a TV series. I hated what SyFy did with the Dresden files, but maybe they could do right by you and Ray.

    This is long so I’ll shut up but before I do I want to say I found your concept of magic and the Empty Spaces and Predators to be refreshing, interesting and just downright cool.

    Thanks for three great books, and good luck with those new projects.

  105. Keith

    Very sad to hear the news. I really enjoyed and looked forward to each one after the 1st.
    But perhaps access is a thing to consider.
    No email link on website that I can discern, no list of signing/sightings, no where to get signed copies.
    These are things it would seem that are required these days in the world of writing i.e. as well as writing the book you have to go out and promote it, read it, sign it etc.
    ’tis true, ’tis true ’tis pity,
    And pity ’tis ’tis true

  106. This is the best ‘new’ series (all genres) I’ve read this year, being that I promptly devoured all three in a month, thanks to the awesome Library I live by. So it completely sucks to hear it is at a stop. Reminds me of HBO’s “Deadwood” – complex twisted plots for three seasons and then canceled because it wasn’t popular enough.

    Ray Lilly ranks with Harry Dresden and Magnum PI for favorite heroes. Part of the fascination is reading about a hero that isn’t all that, yet in the end he is soo all that, if by the skin of his teeth (or ghost knife as it were.)

    Glad there isn’t romance, I can read those elsewhere, and the Twenty Palaces world seems too dark for romance. Also heartily sick of UF heroines ending up devolving to magical sex skanks (Sookie and Rachel obviously excluded!) Ray & Annalisse are a refreshing change from that.

    Personally I see the ghost knife as no different than Dresden’s blasting rod.
    Had already planned to by SFBC omnibus editions as Christmas gifts for friends.

    The last time a series hooked me this hard I bought 20 of the first book on the B&N clearance rack and sent them to friends. Alas, I was working then.

    Will try to patiently (doubtful) wait (certain) for Ray’s return via a publisher or Kickstarter campaign. Even if the prequel is in a short story collection or e-only format.

    And will see what other fabulous characters emerge from your very talented writing. You are clearly not a one-hit wonder. Please, please keep writing!

  107. Keith, they aren’t required things. Writers need to write great books and market them in the ways they are comfortable marketing. I don’t do readings or conventions, and my email inbox already commands a huge portion of my day.

    I realize it’s conventional wisdom to say “You have to market yourself nowadays!” but that’s always been true. Believe me when I say that I’ve looked into what works and what’s a waste of time.

    I’m pleased that you enjoyed my books, though.

  108. Richard

    Well darn. I had heard whispers before CoE came out that it had to buck the series trend to keep the series alive, and then right before it came out I lent my nook to someone and held off on reading anything for a while. I bought it this week and thoroughly enjoyed it, and now I find out that the series is on hiatus. I feel like I let you, and your other fans down by not buying it week 1.

    There were certainly aspects to the series that I was unused to and had to acclimate too. Possibly the toughest hurdle to overcome as a reader in the debut novel was all the references to events in the prequel that the protagonist was familiar with but the reader wasn’t. These were things that obviously were fundamental in shaping who he was but from my perspective were so vague and hard to connect with… Which is why I look forward to the prequel, but someone else might have just put the book down without being interested in going onwards I guess.

    I was /very/ happy with where CoE ended up and was so looking forward to reading more of the series before Jim Butcher’s fan boards pointed me towards this blog post :(

  109. I posted the following as a response in the Jim Butcher forum topic that directed me to this blog post. It’s a reiteration of the above comment, with some different specifics.

    I’m really dissappointed that this got discontinued. However I suppose I can see how the series had trouble. There were a few parts to the series that I had to get acclimated to in the first book that I can see might have caused others not to read on. The first of the biggest 2 was probably the level of darkness and horror which I’m not terribly used to, but were done pretty well, and I took as just diversifying myself by reading the series (having dabbled into Lovecraft and not loved it but enjoyed the fans, I had already been exposed to this kind of horror I guess, and this was better IMO because of Ray Lilly).

    The second issue that to me was a hurdle to get over was how in Child of Fire (CoF) I felt like I was reading a 2nd book in a series with the first one already having established lots of fundamental things about the main character, and I now had to play catchup in understanding his motivations. I was completely unsupprised to find out that he had already written a prequil to CoF.

    Having acclimated myself to the flavor of horror of the series, and then getting more familiar with the Main Character over 2 books and a preview chapter from the prequil, I /throughly/ enjoyed Circle of Enemies (CoE) (Plus, like others here, I felt like the writing was getting better and better too), and was excited about reading where the ride was going next only to find out yesterday that it was canceled :(

  110. I wrote this in a reply to the topic on the Jim Butcher forums that sent me to this blog post. It rehashes some of what I said above, and adds a little too it too.

    I’m really disappointed that this got discontinued. However I suppose I can see how the series had trouble. There were a few parts to the series that I had to get acclimated to in the first book that I can see might have caused others not to read on. The first of the biggest 2 was probably the level of darkness and horror which I’m not terribly used to, but were done pretty well, and I took as just diversifying myself by reading the series (having dabbled into Lovecraft and not loved it but enjoyed the fans, I had already been exposed to this kind of horror I guess, and this was better IMO because of Ray Lilly).

    The second issue that to me was a hurdle to get over was how in Child of Fire (CoF) I felt like I was reading a 2nd book in a series with the first one already having established lots of fundamental things about the main character, and I now had to play catch-up in understanding his motivations. I was completely unsurprised to find out that he had already written a prequel to CoF.

    Having acclimated myself to the flavor of horror of the series, and then getting more familiar with the Main Character over 2 books and a preview chapter from the prequel, I /thoroughly/ enjoyed Circle of Enemies (CoE) (Plus, like others here, I felt like the writing was getting better and better too), and was excited about reading where the ride was going next only to find out yesterday that it was canceled :(

  111. zaq.hack

    I received a copy of the SFBC omnibus “by accident,” as many SFBC members do, sometimes. I saw the Jim Butcher blurb on the front, and thought, “Interesting,” because I’m a huge Dresden fan.

    I couldn’t put it down.

    Easily my favorite new series in years. To hear it won’t be continued is shocking to me. I’m sorry I wasn’t on the bandwagon earlier. On another site, I noticed that a lot of people didn’t connect with the first parts of “Child of Fire,” but that was some of what I earnestly loved about it! My hunch is that your fans tend to be people with their own imagination and are not as keen on being “spoon fed” the whole plot up front. I love that after three books, Ray still largely doesn’t understand the Society, and even predators and magic still retain a bit of mystery to them.

    If I had to have a complaint, I suppose I would fall into the “too much ghost knife” bucket. In case you do read this comment, one bit of advice I’ll give from my own experience is that just because you give people everything they want … doesn’t mean they’ll be happy with what you give them. (Come to think of it, anyone who has raised teenagers knows this, already …) If there is Book 4 in the distant future, don’t change it too much to suit the needs of “critics.” A slower, romantic, spoon-fed, less-ghost-knife book would be … I could maybe recommend some Charlaine Harris? It’s already out there. It’s already being done. You should try smaller changes, first, like the covers and the ghost knife. I think we all love Ray and Analise as hard-boiled noir-types and anything less would be a let down for a Book 4.

    My 2 cents’ worth … from a “late” fan.

  112. Harry,

    I thought the Ghost Knife was brilliant. It was setting, plot, and character all in one little laminated package. It told you all kinds of things about the nature of magic in your setting and even more about Ray himself. I totally loved the way he had to adapt the one edge he had to any given situation. Good stuff, all around, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    Look, man: it’s a /horrible/ time to be a new face on the shelves. People are guarding their money a lot more closely than they have in a long time, and they aren’t gambling with their book-buying dollars. That’s good for someone where I am, and awful for someone where you are. I think a lot of this is just a matter of bad timing, more than anything else.

    Patience. Ray knows all about choosing the right moment. Maybe his just hasn’t arrived yet. Not saying dig in your heels and do nothing else–you always have the next project in mind. That’s what writers do.

    But keep your eyes open. There might be an opportunity yet.

    And hey, about reviews: I read them too. But I’ve come to realize that, at the end of the day, if I don’t write the book I love, I can’t give it the energy and passion it needs to make me satisfied as a creator. So don’t pay too much attention to the reviews. They’re like road signs. Sometimes they offer you relevant information and guidance, and sometimes they’re just random noise that has nothing to do with you.

    End of the day, the most important review for your work is yours.

    Keep writing. You’ve got real ability. It will pay off: if not now, then later.

  113. Jim, thank you.

    I intend to keep my chin down and keep swinging. With luck I’ll be able to revisit Ray and Annalise in a martin, maybe a martin and a half, and by that time I’ll have a growing readership to introduce them to instead of a shrinking one.

    And, for serious, thanks for all your help in spreading the word.

  114. ted

    A sad day. You’re writing was amazing, I’ll definitely look into your future books. Good luck in the future.

  115. Jessa

    Aiiiiiigh! Well, hell. Sorry to hear this. I was one of those readers who got hooked with the 99 cent Kindle deal. Finished the first, got the other two immediately.

    And I *loved* the Ghost Knife. I hate it when an author gives a character a cool toy and then takes it away in some lame-ass fashion because it turns out to have been overpowered. I admit, I kinda kept waiting for that to happen, and could kiss you for never doing that to me. Or it. Or us. Whatever.

    In any case, even if this series didn’t work out, you’ve got a reader for life in me. I look forward to seeing what you come up with in the future. You publish it, I’ll buy it.

  116. Brian

    I have to say I am sorry to hear about this development as well. I picked up the books like many others because of the recommendation Jim Butcher placed on his site whilst I was impatiently waiting for Ghost Story to be released.

    So far, I’ve found Twenty Palaces to be extremely interesting. I liked the idea that spells were not a cure all, that they were limited and could degrade with use over the years. I liked that some petulant teenager couldn’t find a magic book and turn himself into a demigod. I loved the idea that they were tattooed on the users body. That was such a cool idea.

    That being said, I will admit, I still prefer Dresden, I feel like those books are a lot more fleshed out, and the reading flows more easily from scene to scene. Occasionally I got the feeling that Ray was lurching from one event to the next like he just came off a bender. I don’t mean that as a criticism, just a comment, sometimes there is a place for that particular style. And I guess it could be argued that he was still learning how to do with his particularly odd situation whereas in the Dresdenverse, Harry has been dealing with this stuff for the last 15-20 years.

    While trying not to actually criticize, because who am I to try and tear apart your life’s work based on my personal preferences, I have to say that what I’d like to see if you working on a few other books, maybe even a new series for the next 5-10 years. And during that time, as you gain more experience and develop your style a bit more, you occasionally look back over the Twenty Palaces manuscripts and see what you would change both in terms of the story and in the way it reads. Then, in 5-10 years, re-release the first 3 books in some sort of definitive Author’s Edition, like has been done to so many other books, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, to name one.

    Maybe it would start as a small print run, but it would give current fans of the series to pick up a so called “Ultimate Edition” or revised version, and maybe it and you, will have changed enough to capture a larger audience and at that point continue the series from where it leaves off in Circle of Enemies.

    But that’s just my opinion, I’d love to see you come back to the series regardless, even if all you do is work on it in your downtime and release it for free download on this blog with a new book every 5 years. Even if it isn’t my favorite series, I still enjoy it and would love to see it go on. Nothing sucks more than a series ending in the middle because of whatever reason stopped it.

    Good luck with your other books, I’ll see what I think when they are released. In the meantime, toss out some more recommendations of stuff for us to read while you’re busy doing your author schtick.

  117. Brian, if you want a couple of book recs, how about these:

    The Spirit Gate Trilogy by Kate Elliott
    The Inda series by Sherwood Smith
    The Dragon Weather books by Lawrence Watt-Evans
    The Galton Case by Ross Macdonald
    Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty novels
    Anything by “Richard Stark”
    Anything by Dorothy L. Sayers.

    I hope you enjoy them.

  118. Tyler Larson

    I just wanted to say thank you for writing the twenty palaces novels.

    I loved the premise you created and the fact that they’re were actual consequences to the character’s actions. That sometimes there is no good way out of a situation, only bad and worse, and usually at the cost of innocent lives, no matter the intent. You made the story’s world and people in it much more believable this way, and in turn, made me care about Analise and Ray. I also liked how truly alien and dangerous the predators were, I especially enjoyed the vision from the Book of Oceans.(although I can’t remember if those were considered predators or not)

    I found it very refreshing in the Urban Fantasy genre. Now you’re right up there with my other favorite authors like Jim Butcher, Mike Carey, and Richard Kadrey.

    You can be damned sure I’ll read whatever you write next, and I look forward to it.

    Again, thanks for the good reads Harry, You Rock :)

  119. Mark

    I’m another reader who was hooked on the .99 deal – I’ve evangelized it to everyone I know since reading. I’m disappointed that this series is on hiatus, but I’ll look forward to reading whatever you write in the future.

  120. Matt

    I stumbled upon your works while browsing Amazon looking for new books from Jim Butcher and saw his endorsement. I enjoyed the first book enough to get the 2nd a couple weeks later….. after reading it,i immediately ordered the 3rd. Your story was developing rather well and i was really looking forward to the next installment. Thanks for telling the story, i will keep my eyes open for your future works and hope for your success.

  121. Eleanor

    I’ve only just started Game of Cages, but I love Ray’s voice. I’m sorry the sales went badly for you.

  122. Sam

    It’s officially a LONG comment.

    I saw in one of your earlier comments that you were worried this page might deter readers from picking up your books. I saw this just after I finished reading Child of Fire, so I can tell you, even knowing the story wasn’t going to be finished, I couldn’t stop myself from getting the other two books because of how much I loved the first.

    I’ll try and keep spoilers out of this because I know how much they irritate the people who haven’t finished the books yet. I’m also one of the people who was constantly wondering why there wasn’t more ghost knife in Child of Fire. In the other two it made perfect sense why he avoided using it more often.

    I cannot see how anyone objects to being in the dark about the Society. Honestly, that’s one of the main reasons the story works so well. There are too many books where the protagonist just knows everything but then something “new” shows up and they don’t know a thing again. Your way has less plot holes to it.

    These were also the only books I recall reading where I didn’t make my own way to finish the story. Mostly, I just thought of cool ways Ray could the ghost knife.

    [SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!]
    I tried, but I couldn’t write this last part without one. The most disappointing thing about the series being postponed is that you can’t expand on the Empty Spaces. My favorite part of the series was in Circle of Enemies when Annalise was scared because she thought she was going to be trapped their. It was perfect how you set up King’s explanation before that so Ray(and readers) could understand something that Annalise wasn’t “immortal and untouchable”. It made her much more human. I also thought that it might be a source of motivation for Annalise’s and many peers’ hunting of predators.

    I just wanted to sum this up saying that I loved your books and you have made a lifelong fan out of someone who has ditched many books before he finished the first chapter. I look forward to your next project, whether it’s one you’ve listed or something completely random.

  123. Kevin

    Well … crap. Sir, my hat is off to you and I wish you the best of luck. I loved the books. I will find your other works and read them too.

  124. Janet Eckford

    Sigh…I must say that it is very disappointing to lose such a fantastic character and series. My only consolation is you had the imagination to create it in the first place and I know that you have the skill to far exceed yourself in your next endeavor. Can’t wait to read those as well.

  125. So sorry.

    I read about this on Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist and went to Goodreads to figure out whether I’d read your series since the title sounded familiar. I got enough there to remember it, and notice it was one of my highest ratings, but with so many books out there I failed to collect the rest of the series (somehow I started with the second) in time to have made a difference.

    I really, truly regret that right now and wish you the best of luck on the others you’re writing. Hopefully I’ll not only love them, but also get off my ass and collect them as they come out instead of waiting for my TBR pile to reach reasonable levels.

  126. Morgan

    Hey, Harry, I know you said there are enough comments already, but I only saw the post now and wanted to say how surprised it left me! I’ve been a fan since book one and have held the “Twenty Palaces” novels as one of the best new series the last few years! Seriously, with all the repetitive paranormal romances and Anita Blake-wannabes, Ray was like a breath of fresh air! I’ve actually joked that I wish I’d written the books…
    Bottom line is, personally I love the series, can honestly say you’ve done a great job, and would be excited for anything else that comes afterwards.
    Cheers, dude!

  127. WrichPrintz

    I bought the first book, Child of Fire, on my Kindle, and then did not read it due to time for about two months. Once I did….I got the other two, and read them over three days.

    They are excellent. The idea that people have to have things spelled out for them in a secret society, as you pointed out…would have ruined what you set up.

    Even if it takes a couple of years, keep going. I am going to keep talking about this series to as many folks as possible, and as frequently as possible.

    This deserves to be read, and it should be read. Damn it.

  128. I just found out about this series for the first time today. It came highly recommended. I have no idea why I never heard about it before despite all of the marketing that you mention here. *shrugs* Despite the negatives in the reviews you read it still intrigues me and sounds like it deserves to continue in whatever publishing realm you are comfortable with. I will still read it, even though I am forewarned that it doesn’t end in a comfortable place. [You could always do a self-pub novella to bring greater closure.]

    Good luck with your future books.

  129. Goddamn it. Seriously? F*ck. . . . You are a zen master, sir, for focusing on what comes next. I am going to go stomp around and shake my fist at the Universe for a bit.

    Damnit. I REALLY dug the ending of Circle of Enemies. I never expected Ray to strike a deal with Annalise, and I so want to see where that goes.

  130. Duncan Eagleson

    Truly suckful news. Twenty Palaces was one of my favorite series, for the very reasons you suggest as probable cause for its (hopefully temporary) demise. I know you said you don’t want to discuss this further, so I’ll leave it at that, and just add that I look forward to reading whatever you write next, and hope you do get to continue the series one day.

  131. David

    Great series. I just finished reading the SFBC omnibus. Sorry to hear there won’t be more (at least for a while). I enjoyed reading the books more than anything from any other new (to me) author this year. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for any new material from you.

  132. Jenny

    Hey, just wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed the Twenty Palaces novels and am sad to hear that there won’t be another. In fact the only reason that I found out that there won’t be another is that I was checking to see if there was a publish date for the fourth book. :) Like some others have said, many of the reasons you gave for this series not doing well were the biggest reasons I loved the books. I do hope that you are able to get back to it someday. I look forward to checking out your other books since you’ve earned a place on my list of authors whose next book is always anxiously awaited.

  133. Ted

    I just found out about these books last Thursday, and just finished Circle a few minutes ago. Looking for status on the next book, I found this.

    I can only hope word-of-mouth causes a delayed resurgence of sales… and in the meantime I will be watching for anything else you write.

    Keep up the good work!

  134. ASM

    Just bought and read all three books in the last week and then saw this surprising news. I read a lot and was very pleased with the series so far and loved the ending to book 3 since it opened up so many avenues for future installments. Excellent job by you. The series is exciting, consistent, original and has been well worth my time. MOAR!

  135. Jun

    This sucks. On so many levels.

    It sucks, because your books were a fine addition to the tiny group of readable modern fantasy out there, battling crappy books about metrosexual vampires eternally stuck in puberty.

    It sucks, because Circle of Enemies came out when I was in the middle of moving from Switzerland to San Diego and I had planned to get it as a reward for finishing the move. I started the book this morning and right after finishing I checked Amazon to find out when the next book would come out. The day started so good and ended with a sour taste in my mouth.

    It sucks, because I don’t really know who I should be yelling at. Maybe I should go and start trolling some fan forum of Simon Green or Rob Thurman, because appearantly it is not quality which is selling books.

    It sucks, because I feel like back then when Firefly got cancelled.

    I hope your next project will take off like crazy or even better, that another publisher will pick up the series (is that even possible). You’ll definitely be on my “Always check what`s new” list.

  136. Sorry about the series not gaining the interest it should have. I felt these stories had the potential to be even better than the Dresden series which is very likeable but sometimes a bit too cartoon-like.

    I didn’t mind that Twenty Palaces Society was a huge secret that was slowly going to be revealed as the series progressed. Mysteries like this only serve to peak the readers’ interest. (although admittedly, a bit of an explanation concerning the NAME of the society might have been merited since it is particularly odd-sounding and may have posed too big of a question mark in the mind of the readers).

    Otherwise, the characters were unique, full of intrigue and, most importantly, believable. After each novel, I was left wanting to know more about them. I like that the protagonists were not thoroughly heroic and had obvious flaws like real people. The mythology was particularly imaginative and compelling. The mood was dark and “cool”. Also liked the ghost knife idea (maybe it was a little overused, but who really cares? I don’t feel that detracted from the stories)

    Personally, I didn’t miss the lack of romance. Although, romance does seem to enhance most tales, if it’s not necessary within the context of a story, then I don’t feel there is a need to force it in. These were comprehensive stories were romance was a non-essential component. Actually, I think not resorting to the obligatory romance is a sort of achievement in a strange way.

    Books 1 and 3 were the best. The second book was a little too much like the first and had a tad too much action/gore without a balance. Otherwise, I enjoyed the series immensely and am feeling a significant let-down upon learning that it may not continue. The prospect of not being able to see what happens now that Ray and Annalise have the Book of Oceans is a major disappointment.

    Will be looking out for your writing in other forms — you made me a fan!

    Didn’t deter me, but who knows, maybe it WAS the cover art??? Perhaps not mystical enough?-unsure…

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