Then Thrain turned to Dain, and said: “But surely my own kin will not desert me?”
“No,” said Dain, “You are the father of our Folk, and we have bled for you, and will again. But we will not enter Khazad-dum. You will not enter Khazad-dum. Only I have looked through the shadow of the Gate. Beyond the shadow it waits for you still: Durin’s Bane. The world must change, and some other power greater than ours must come before Durin’s Folk walk again in Moria.”
If you write professionally – if you write at all, at length – you’ll acquire a haunt of ghost books. Projects that never crossed the finish line, despite months of work, or even despite being complete. Every writer has a trunk novel or two or ten, along with dozens of two-or-three chapter fragments, books that could have made if you’d tried harder to make it work, if your prose had been up to the idea, if you hadn’t gotten distracted or moved onto something else. If you’re a freelancer, your projects tend to be the victim of accidents and the vagaries of publishing instead of dying of neglect.
I’m very lucky as writers go – up until now, I’ve relatively few ghosts, and to be honest, some of them would never have survived in the world anyway. (“Gar, write a history of the Earth-Minbari war, but, er, don’t mention the actual events of the war in it”). There’s the Mandate. There are a few licensed sourcebooks. And, today, it seems, two more ghosts.
I’m not going to get into what happened (I don’t know) or what will happen (ditto). I’m not even that upset, really – while Middle-earth is very important to me, I did get to write several other books in the line, and have done much of what I wished to sub-create. The loss of Moria, in particular, does rankle, especially as I feel like I promised it in the final section of The Darkening of Mirkwood and I do like to keep my word.
Still, that’s the one virtue of ghost books. Because they never come out, they can never be judged, either. They remain unsullied by reality, unjudged and therefore unflawed. I’m fascinated by that neverland of suspension, that quantum indeterminacy. If you never get to see beyond the darkness of the gate, then Moria’s mysteries remain forever enticing. The magic trick is best before it’s explained; the mystery most intriguing when it’s unsolved.
But to Sam the evening deepened to darkness as he stood at the Haven; and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow on the waters that was soon lost to the West…
More uplifting news – there’s a new review of The Shadow Saint from the wonderful Petrik over at Novel Notions. ” An unconventional, unpredictable, and undeniably scintillating sequel to the best fantasy debut of 2019. Count on Hanrahan to deliver an imaginative, refreshing, and explosive reading experience and he shall distribute it to you mercilessly. Same as The Gutter Prayer, the stellar and intelligently crafted nature of The Shadow Saint left a mind-blowing impression on me“.
And if by some mischance you haven’t read The Gutter Prayer, and by another mischance (sorry, but these days, it is) you live in the United States, it’s on sale on Amazon.
This weekend, you can find me at Dragonmeet in London, on the Pelgrane Press stand, and on Monday it’s off to Goldsboro books to sign those lovely hardbacks.