Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Notes: The Last Legend

  • My fantasy novel TheLast Legend was inspired more by The Hobbit than by The Lord of the Rings. I read The Hobbit at least half a dozen times from 1979 to 1982. Those readings culminated in the writing of a short story, “The Enchanted Sword,” in early 1982, when I was 13.
  • In seventh grade I was in a class for gifted students called Project Potential. One week the teacher had each of us do a creative project in our spare time at home, just anything we felt like doing that was somehow creative. I told her I’d write a short story. I had just finished writing “The Enchanted Sword,” so at the end of the week, I handed that in as my creative project, pretending that I had written it in my spare time during that “creative” week. So I guess I sort of cheated on that assignment, since I never really completed it. But the teacher loved the story, and her assistant typed it up for me, since I had hand-written the story. (We didn’t have word processors back in those days, and I didn’t know how to type).
  • In 1984, I wrote a series of one-page vignettes that were basically descriptions of various historical events in the history of the world of “The Enchanted Sword.”
  • In 1988, I wrote “The Power Scepter,” a short story set in the world of “The Enchanted Sword.”
  • In early 1995, I decided to continue the story that was begun in “The Enchanted Sword.” Years earlier, I had realized that I had left the story open-ended. The whole point of the story was that Beamer had been given the Enchanted Sword for a reason, but I never said what that reason was. He just put the sword up on his mantel and forgot about it. I guess that was acceptable to my 13-year old mind, but the unfinished nature of the story had begun nagging at me in the early 90’s. So in 1995, I added a few details to the story and made it chapter two of book one of the novel The Last Legend. “The Power Scepter” became the prologue.
  • I originally named the main race in The Last Legend the Munchkins, but a few years later, I realized there were Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz, so I renamed them the Little People. Soon after, I realized that name was too reminiscent of Darby O’Gill and the Little People, so I again renamed them to “falliwagns.” The name is pronounced fowl-ee-wans. The g is silent. I have absolutely no memory of why I named them that.
  • The falliwagns are, of course, the hobbits of my novel. Beamer is Bilbo. The Brown Lands are the Shire. Baldurn is Gandalf.
  • Chapter two of The Last Legend, “The Enchanted Sword,” is almost exactly as I wrote it when I was 13. It hasn’t been edited. I did add the part about Beamer bottling the “miracle water” from the stream in his cellar and floating it down the river. I also changed the last hundred words a bit to make it easier to continue the story.
  • The Last Legend originally ended with chapter 10 (Second Coming) of book one. I thought the story was done with, so I patted myself on the back for having written my first novel.
  • I actually dropped out of college because of The Last Legend. I was writing notes and portions of the book in classes, when I should have been listening to the lectures. One day during a biochemistry lecture, I looked down at all the story notes I was scribbling on my notepad, rather than notes related to the class, and I had an epiphany: I didn’t belong in school. I belonged in front of my computer, writing books. A few weeks later, I dropped out and finished writing book one of The Last Legend.
  • A year later and a half later, at the end of 1999, I realized that The Last Legend still wasn’t finished. So I wrote chapter 11 of book one (Salvation of Malhar), then banged out book two in December and January of 1996. I wrote book three over February and March 1996, which finally brought the novel to a close.
  • I’ve never been satisfied with the way the story turned out. I had always intended to continue the history of the world of The Last Legend, with other stories and novels planned. But the ending of The Last Legend ruined all those plans for me, destroying all my plans of continuing in that world. The Last Legend ends with the complete destruction of the world, and then its recreation by the main character, who becomes God of the resurrected world. I don’t know why, but even though the resurrected world is supposed to be completely identical to the old one, it never seemed like the same world to me, so I lost interest in it. I kind of fouled my own nest with the end of that book. I don’t think it’s a bad ending for the story; I just look at it as a bad ending personally because it spoiled my interest in continuing the world. After the ending of The Last Legend, the book’s world seemed too impermanent and unstable, and I just didn’t like the idea of building a fantasy history that could be so easily swept aside and rebuilt, if that makes any sense.

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