Yes, I have been away from my blog for a while. Actually, I have visited occasionally and started a post, but I kept finding myself unable to come up with a decent post, and abandoning it mid-stream. This is in keeping with my philosophy that I don’t put junk out there for the sake of having put something out there. After several abortive attempts, though, I am fairly certain that this one will be seen through to fruition (but if it isn’t, you’ll never know).
I am working on Book Four of the Vergrinn War series, and I am in the process of splitting the party. Book One followed Amundr and Saegrimr almost exclusively, while Book Two had brief flashes of what was going on elsewhere. Book Three split our main characters into three different groups operating in two theaters of the war. Book Four will break our main cast of characters (Amundr, Saegrimr, Aoalbert, Gisl, Stigr, Bjarni, Aesa, and the rest) into at least four groups and follow them through their adventures in the war.
When I first realized I was splitting the party so thoroughly, I hesitated. After all, if I look at the Chronicles of Prydain, they only rarely follow the exploits of more than one group at a time. Eilonwy is sent off to learn about her heritage, but that action happens off screen. Similar things happen with Gwydion and Fflewdur, as the action stays centered on Taran. Occasionally, the action is split temporarily, but the characters come back together quickly. I looked to the Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter stories and noticed that they didn’t make a habit of splitting the party and following the action of multiple characters simultaneously. They do split the party, but action once again happens off screen and is simply referred to by characters when they rejoin. Thinking about the Hobbit, I realized it followed a similar pattern.
This had me really worried, but then I started thinking about Star Wars. In Star Wars, you end up splitting the party almost constantly. In the first (real) movie, you have Leia split off from Luke and the rest, then you have Luke and Leia, Han and Chewbacca, the droids, and Obi Wan in the meat of the movie. In the second movie, it is Luke off with Yoda while the rest of the crew flees from Vader. The lion share of the final movie has Lando (and Ackbar and the rest), Luke fighting Vader, and Han and Leia on the moon trying to drop the shields. This helped ease my mind.
Finally, I thought about the Lord of the Rings (the real one by Tolkien, not the Peter Jackson farce). By the end of the first book, we had three groups:
- Samwise and Frodo
- Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli
- Merry and Pippin
- (technically, you have Gandalf, but you think he’s dead and all his action is taking place off screen).
For the remainder of the trilogy, the groups of heroes are briefly reduced to two in front of Isengard and again after the battle on the plains of Pelennor, but mostly they are broken into three or even four groups until the conclusion of the war. This left me feeling much more comfortable with my decision to split the party. I think it will have the same adventurous feel of LOTR and Star Wars, but ultimately the readers will have to judge that for themselves. Next week I’ll update you on where Book Four stands.