An Update on Book Five « Official Author Website of Melissa McPhail

An Update on Book Five

Once upon a time I had a dream, a dream of a book, a book to complete a fantasy series, a fantasy series to please fantasy readers, reading the completed book of this series from this erstwhile dream.

If this sounds oddly wistful, it’s rather a reflection of my state of mind about A Pattern of Shadow & Light Book Five. You see, I’m trying to make it the final book in the series, and that’s bittersweet—in some ways for all of us, I suspect.

On the one hand, this sort of needs to be the last book. I only ever intended five books (five strands, five books; seemed a no-brainer), and the conflict was only meant to span this much story space. You can tell when a publisher pushes the author to stretch a standalone into a trilogy, or a trilogy into a decalogy. Like a city overspilling its borders, the story loses its sense of self and meanders all over the place. You feel lost and encounter a lot of unwelcome filler. 

On the other hand, I don’t actually know if I can do justice to all of the story threads I need to tie off within the space of a single book. It’s still too early to say.

Meanwhile, thousands of you are asking, “Where is the next book?” (Never you mind that Kingdom Blades only just released last October. That was nearly a year ago, right? Surely I should have the next 400,000 word book finished by now!) And those of you who aren’t asking, well…I know it’s just because you’re being overly polite.

It only took about a thousand iterations of the same question for me to realize it was time to delve into my writing bucket for an update, even if it meant upending it to retrieve the few drops of creation that I’d managed to collect thus far.

Mustering some courage, I’ll get on with the update then.

The good news is: the book is mostly planned. That is…to the degree that I plan anything, which is not unlike one of those rough charcoal sketches that you’d find in an antique store, the kind you stare at for an embarrassing length of time trying to decide if it’s a picture of a boat or a strangely elongated elephant. Which is to say, more precisely, that I have ideas for most of the important characters in terms of the general direction I want them to go.

That probably sounds very vague. And it is. But don’t let this worry you, because that’s about as much as I ever have to start with. An idea, a mountain on the horizon. Maybe a couple of scenes envisioned to get my creative juices flowing, or at least provide some anticipation and excitement about the journey ahead.

You see, things change a lot along the way, so I don’t spend much time trying to anticipate what lies beyond the first couple of bends in the story. Most of the time, I find out what happens with each character much the same way you do—that is, as it’s happening. The only real difference is that I find out a year or two earlier than you (#authorperk #Iearnedit).

As many of you who’ve read my updates know, I write in threads, one character at a time, writing his/her storyline as far as I can take it before switching to another interrelated character to rinse and repeat. This is probably not the most efficient way to write, as I end up with copius notes for sequencing later on. Notes heading each chapter, like, “This chapter has to come after Tanis goes to the Sormitáge but before Shail shows up in Tambarré and needs to come between the time hal’Jaitar sends Trell off and when Dore talks to Shail because of the conversation about Ean, but it can’t come until after…”

Well, you get the idea. Sequencing gets pretty complicated. But trying to write 23+ viewpoint characters sequentially, switching from one viewpoint to the next with each chapter…? You might as well shoot me now.

Moving on with the update…happily floating in the (mostly) completed planning bucket are Tanis, Trell, Alshiba, Franco and Felix. I think I have enough to also start writing Alyneri, Sebastian, Fynnlar, Carian and (fingers crossed) Ean. There are definitely still a lot of unknowns.

Standing at the beginning of each book, looking into the behemoth I’ve created (why, oh why, did I think it was a good idea to have twenty-five interwoven storylines?), it always feels pretty overwhelming. You look into that vast beyond of unknownness and worry that you’ll drown before you reach solid ground. I am kind of used to that feeling now. It’s not as uncomfortable as it used to be, the whole breathing-under-water thing.

So while what I have written isn’t exactly newsworthy, more will follow, and hopefully soon I’ll have much more to say to you than a rather desperately gasped, “Someone throw me a lifeline, please!”

If you have other questions about the progress of the book or the series in general, or confusions or mysteries you'd like to see answered, be sure to comment below. You can also send them my way on whatever communication channel is easiest for you. Now's the time to speak up, folks! 

126 Responses to “An Update on Book Five”

  1. Ken says:

    Melissa, Thank you for the update. the ‘four’ are on my summer (August – October) re-read list as I patiently await 5. I don’t think I really saw, understood, the task you faced in letting your words flow to paper until I read your blog. Overwhelming was the first word that popped into my mind. Will it wrap in 5, or 6? Don’t know. From a very selfish perspective, don’t care. Well, I do care I know, but more about you and your ‘Path of Alir’ as you work your creation, your world, your blood, sweat, tears, frustration and genius through it’s process of bringing balance to it all. And a story, and the answers to my questions and thoughts, to my curiosity and projection(s) as the result.

    Thank you for the update on ‘our’ book, and your creative processes. It, too, is a good read.


    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much, Ken. I appreciate your acknowledgement on the challenges I’ve expressed in writing these books. It’s nice to be understood! It’s also a welcome relief to know that you have such trust in me to do the right thing with the series. Thank you for reading.

  2. Nevin Miller says:

    Melissa, take your time. Do I want to read the next book? Absolutely! But, I would rather it be given the time it needs rather being rushed and not having the time to create the scenes as completely as you would like. I’m patient. The story will come. My heart and mind will be overjoyed when I am blessed to read your creation! One of your biggest fans!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Nevin. I definitely won’t be rushing this book, but I do feel a pressing need to kick the creation into a higher gear. Glad to know you’ll be keeping pace and ready for it when we get to the finish line.

    • Jonathon Tolliver says:

      Like Tanis learned early on, everything comes in time! You’ll read the book when Cephrael (Tanis?) puts it on your path.

  3. Peter Henriksen says:

    Hello Melissa,
    Thank you so much for the update. I absolutely enjoy your series and, like all other readers, eagerly await book 5’s arrival. I truly appreciate the work involved in making such a massive story come together and can only imagine the insane process it takes to complete each amazing book. Take your time; as a fan, I can (and will) reread each novel several more times because each time I reread the novels, I discover new and interesting pieces of information I missed the first time (or in this series case, the second & third time as well )
    Thank you once again for bringing such a great series to life. I will wait patiently for the next exciting chapter (or closure…although I certainly won’t complain if you decide to make it one or two more books longer…but that’s just because I thoroughly enjoy reading about these characters adventures and don’t want them to end)

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Peter, I’m so glad to know you’re enjoying the series. There are so many things you catch on rereads that it’s almost impossible to catch the first time through. For those that read the series more than once…it’s a bit like an insider briefing. 😉 Thank you for your encouragement, and thank you for reading!

  4. Kenneth says:

    Melissa, you mean you can’t just word vomit a story with more viewpoints than 5-7 other “fantasy” books combined?! 🙂 In all seriousness after multiple reads my mind keeps coming to the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers at the end of book 4. Other cliffhangers look with jealous eyes at the grandeur of it. Take your time pleeeeze! And if it takes 900 pages instead of 700 pages to cap it all off, I believe I can speak for most of your readers, we will still read the entire thing on the edge of our seats in one to two sittings. 🙂 I can’t wait, but I’m very patiently waiting, for book five. Best of luck and don’t rush to please us. We’ll love it pretty much regardless.

    -Kenneth from Seattle

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      You’ve left me feeling warmly encouraged, Kenneth. Thank you so much. I’m thrilled you enjoyed the ending of book four. One of my biggest challenges is maintaining perspective. I’m so close to the characters and the story, it’s difficult sometimes to know how my readers will receive a scene. I love finding out that a particular scenes had a big impact. So thank you for that feedback also. 🙂

  5. Linda says:

    Thanks for the update. And…thank you for not pulling a George R. R. Martin on us! lol

  6. Justin says:

    I know you’ll do wonderfully. I can’t wait (but i will) 🙂
    Carian is gonna kick ass. I know it!

  7. Perry Blount says:

    Melissa, You are an incredible writer, so just take your time. I truly Love the series and would much rather it be stretched out than to see you trying to fit it into one final book just because you initially planned it that way. Thank You for sharing your amazing creatively with us. Reading your work is truly an escape into an incredible new world!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      You make a great point that I’ve thought myself, Perry. I am definitely not going about this with the view that I have to finish the story in this book come hell or high water, (that’s one of the freedoms of being an independent publisher – you can make those decisions yourself). Rather, I’m going to get the story written and see where we’re at. I may copy Tad Williams and do a part 1 and 2. We’ll see…

  8. Diane Silva says:

    Melissa thank you for this great series. Please don’t ever feel rushed.Take all the tine you need as youplot put what happens next. You have brought us such memorable characters in this series and we thank youfor taking us to their worldJust twkectonecto breath and the story will cone

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much for your continuing support, Diane. I always appreciate your kind words of support.

  9. suzy says:

    love your books. get with fifth and walk your path with no fear ,lol,maybe a little. cant waite. thank you!!

  10. Kevin Thomas says:

    Thank you for the update Melissa! We have every faith in you.

  11. Tristan Martens says:

    Thank you very much for the update! I think I’ve already told how I feel about ‘the next book’. If it’s 800 pages, great. If it’s 1100 pages, outstanding. If it’s 1400, most excellent! Assuming the publisher will publish it. I understand your reasoning for 5 books. Makes perfect sense. But if it ends up being six, I’m sure your readers will be just as thrilled. I think (we) rather not have a bunch of loose ends or story threads not tired off. As I have read from some of the other comments, please take your time. I, very much so, want the next book yesterday! But, I rather have a well thought out book over a rushed one. Quality over quantity? Yeah, that sounds right. Happy writings!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you, Tristan. I definitely don’t intend to rush this book. I’m not sure I’m capable of that, to be honest. I can’t really leave a scene until I’m perfectly happy with it, so the story builds on certainties, chapter by chapter.

  12. Kurt says:

    Thank you for the update, however, I am new to your stories and I am nearing the end of book two. I have not enjoyed a read this much in years and I am a heavy reader, so please keep up the good work. If you so decide to further your story lines for a ten book series, that be wonderful.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      I’m thrilled you’re enjoying the series so far, Kurt. Oh boy, are there some great adventures ahead of you! Please stay in touch. I would love your thoughts as you go through the rest of the series. I love real-time updates! 🙂

  13. Derek says:

    These books are masterpieces! Definitely do not rush the writing. I have been wondering (maybe getting way ahead here) if you’re considering writing other stories within this universe you’ve created? As in on other worlds within the 1000 realms at another time in its history, etc. Because I can’t get enough of this universe!!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      I definitely plan to write more stories in the universe I’ve created, Derek. Whether we take up an adventure with Tanis and Pelas or explore another world of the Thousand Realms, I have a lot of potential for creation there. I’m also personally interested in Tannour’s backstory and exploring the Vestian Sorceresy…maybe more of them in the prequels. 🙂

  14. Ben Barlow says:

    Melissa, I have said it to anyone I tell your books about. They are amazing. While I do hope that it is wrapped up in book 5, given the scope of the plot and story as I the reader understand it, I am suspecting a book 6. Your books, plots, and characters have brought myself and a friend of mine hours of speculation and honest debate. Thank you so much.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much for telling me that, Ben. The idea of sparking debate and discussion is one of the reasons I write allegorical fantasy. I hope I’ve given you some ideas worthy of exploration. Thank you, as always, for your support and encouragement.

  15. John ard says:

    DONT rush to end it for your fans sake. I personally wouldnt mind a few more books! Our ten!

  16. Pamela says:

    I wait with so much excitement because I know it will be wonderful

  17. Leah says:

    Hi Melissa! First, let me say I appreciate and admire your ability to write from so many different perspectives. A dream of mine is to write my own fantasy novel one day and I feel instantly overwhelmed and humbled at the thought of creating anything close to your universe and characters. How ever did you come up with the laws and esoterics?

    I just finished book 4 last week and I’m not surprised I haven’t been able to connect to another book yet. When someone asked me how I choose the books I read I told them it depends very much on the book I just finished – to give the book a “moment of silence” both in celebration and in mourning it deserves. Yours deserve quite long ones. 😉 I think I will return to Cephrael’s Hand and start the journey over again, for an insider’s view!

    PS I’ve dog-eared a number of pages in each book to mark scenes that struck me deeply and for poignant juxtapositions of words (which I adore) few would use. Thank you sincerely for the care you’ve put into this universe. I love it when I fall in love so easily with characters (Pelas, Trell, Tanis, Isabel, Alyneri, the Sundragons, and even Darshan!) I think someone else wrote this but I feel there are no truer words about me: My best friends and greatest lovers are fictional. I’d rather spend my time with them than live in the “real world”. So thank you. 🙂

    PPS I would love a prequel about Tannour!!

    With much admiration,

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you for so much wonderful feedback, Leah. I love knowing that you’ve found some favorite passages in the books. I have many also, but the ones that tickle me the most are almost all Phaedor’s. 😉

      I don’t think you can go into a work of creation thinking of other things already created. As you’ve found, you’ll only overwhelm yourself. You just have to go into it with this passion for the story you want to tell and see where it takes you. Enjoy that journey, write to entertain yourself first, and you’ll find happiness at the end.

      I know what you mean about connecting with books post other books. Sometimes after a really intense book, I need a break from the entire genre and have to jump over and read spy thrillers or romance, because books in the same genre pale in comparison to the one I just finished. I think I’ve ended up being harder on certain books as a result. When that happens, I try to come back to them after I’ve cleansed my palette and see if I like them better the second time around, when I’m not endlessly comparing them to some other incredible book I just finished in the same genre.

      If this was your first time through my series, I think you’d definitely enjoy a reread. You’re almost guaranteed to find meanings and facts you missed on the first time through. There’s just too much and things are too new – you don’t know what information is important, or what you’re really supposed to pay attention to.

      I would love a spin-off story about Tannour also. Good to know you’re in his fan club with me. 😉

  18. Lisa says:

    Thank you so much for the update. Just yesterday I was checking out the site for news. I was very excited when I saw notice of an update today. I think you should take all the time you need to craft an appropriate and fulfilling end. Whether it ends with book 5 or book 6, I care not. I am happy that I found such an enjoyable and exciting series. Thank you for sharing your dream with us.

  19. Tyra K says:

    I also wait patiently for book 5 and I really hope you use the same narrator ( Nick Podehl) for the audiobook version because he is fantastic! This was/is a great collaboration!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      It is definitely my publisher’s intention to continue to use Nick for my other books. He’s become the voice of my series. I feel very blessed to have him. So glad you’re enjoying the audiobooks, Tyra. 🙂

      • Anna Harding says:

        Yes! Love Nick! I drive a good distance to work and also get to listen to audiobooks while at work. At home, I then switch over to reading. Funny how I end up hearing the characters in Nick’s voices as I read. Love your world. When the Kingdom Blades are done, maybe you’ll do stories on The Zanther?

  20. Eric says:

    Love the series appreciate the updates so much just named our son Fynn after Fynlar. Can’t wait to read more will definitely be rereading a third time before book five.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      I’m thrilled you’re enjoying the series so much, Eric. What fun that you named your son Fynn. It bodes well for a bright, adventurous spirit. Blessings to your family.

  21. Louis Melendez says:

    Ms. McPhail,
    When I picked up the first book I was immediately hooked. I have since had a couple of friends get through Kingdom Blades and we are all eagerly anticipating the next book. My definition of a great writer is one that has the ability to make you root for characters that appeared as villians in the beginning. You know who I am referring to and won’t say because of not knowing who reads your blog. My wife is currently reading book one and is thoroughly engrossed in the story. Take your time and complete the story arcs as they should be done. I am going to read them all again shortly since I am sure I missed something first reads. We love your writing style and I added your books to our traveling library for all my co-workers who like me travel for business.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      I’m thrilled you’re enjoying the series, Louis. Thank you so much for your kind words, and another thank you for sharing my work with your friends and colleagues. It’s one of the highest compliments you could give me to personally introduce your friends into my world. I’m very grateful.

      I would love to know if you learn or catch anything new on that second read, whenever it comes about. It’s a little vicarious living for me, hearing from my readers about those discoveries. Thank you for reading. 🙂

  22. Elaine says:

    I absolutely love this series, Thank you for putting in the hard work and Thank you so much for it and thank you for Ean and Trell I love them both 🙂
    I understand this is an odd question out of a huge cast of characters but who would you describe as the main main characters in this series? I thought at first it would be Ean Bjorn and Tanis but it seems more and more like Pelas being a Mary Sue type character and seemingly stealing the spotlight?

    Thank you again Melissa.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      That’s a great question, Elaine. For me the primary characters through whose viewpoint we see most of the story are Tanis, Trell and Ean.

      I’m not sure it’s fair to call Pelas a Mary Sue. He’s had plenty of things go wrong for him.

      ****Spoiler if you haven’t read book four, don’t read the rest of this*****

      Sometimes it’s easy to forget because he’s charismatic and resilient, but no Mary Sue gets trapped by revenants and fed on for weeks. 😉

  23. Steve says:

    First of all, thank you for this update on June 17th which also happens to be my late mother’s birthday. So it’s good that my two favorite women happen to align on the same day. I totally understand the quandary of extending or ending the series and the consequences of doing either. All I know is, I don’t like it when authors hurriedly wrap up the book and suddenly everything is in a nice, neat bow and the reader feeling cheated out of a good ending. But I’m sure none of your readers will be disappointed if you extend to a 6th book. So I’ll continue to bite my nails until book 5 is released. Btw, I’ve “read” all of them on audio, so I’m curious to know if you’ve met Nick Podehl and what is he like? He is clearly one of the best narrators out there. I cannot imagine anyone else doing your work justice.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      I agree with you 100% Steve. It’s important to finish my series in a way that feels as organic as the rest of it. I definitely don’t want it to seem rushed, or to cheat my readers out of any of the experiences that come with a well-crafted ending. I intend to write the story and see what happens – basically like all of the books so far. I just like everyone to know what direction we’re heading in so the surprises are the ones in the book, not the book itself. 😉

      I haven’t met Nick Podehl, but I feel blessed to have him as the voice of my series. I also cannot imagine anyone else bringing it to life in the way he has. Thank you for listening!

  24. Nicola says:

    I am completely engrossed in your creation. I commute an hour and a half each day and love immersing myself in your world through the fabulous performance of Nick Podehl. . I especially enjoy the way you sometimes tell the same scene from the perspective of 2 or 3 characters. I am nearing the end of book 4 and will start the series again to listen to it with a new understanding of the characters and their allegiances. I am looking forward to the re-listen.
    Thank you for allowing us to share your world!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much, Nicola. I’m thrilled you’re enjoying the series on Audible. I hope you find new discoveries on your second journey through the story. I would certainly welcome any other feedback you’d like to share. Thank you for listening.

  25. Darrell says:

    I very much enjoyed the first four books as audiobooks in my work truck and I am really looking forward to book five. Please make certain that Nick Podehl reads it! What an amazing reader for and amazing book.

    Having published a book of my own…a fairly simple linear timeline…I can’t imagine the scope of your project!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      I’m thrilled you’re enjoying the series on Audible, Darrell. Yes, it’s definitely a game, trying to weave together all of these storylines without hopelessly confusing my readers (and myself!). It is definitely my publisher’s intention to keep Nick on through to the end. He’s the voice of my series. We can’t change that now. 😉 Thank you for listening.

  26. Carina says:

    I must commend you on your excellent book series. It is so refreshing to experience strong female protagonists in your stories. The style of the wonderfully interwoven story lines remind me of the Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire series. To be fair, the rate at which you produce similarly complex novels is quite a bit faster than George R.R. Martin. I’ve been waiting for the next book in that series since 2011! As an avid fantasy reader I always enjoy a new experience- do you have any fantasy series you would recommend?
    Thank you so much for all of your hard work, I cannot bestow higher praise upon your books. I have never read a fantasy I have enjoyed more than yours. I will continue to reread the series, and hopefully some of your recommendations until book five arrives (no rush)!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      I’m honored by your thoughtful remarks about my series, Carina. It’s heartwarming to know that you’ve connected with my characters and world.

      I maintain a list of favorite fantasy series on Goodreads, and I recently posted a blog with some of my favorites highlighted there – the ones where I enjoyed the entire series, not merely the first book. I would love your thoughts if you find any on the list that are new to you and decide to give them a try.

      Thank you for reading.

  27. Bill says:


    Good to see the update! I can’t imagine all the thoughts and emotions you are experiencing as you work to complete your dream. On the question of 5 vs 6 books, other than a desired publication date does the full telling of the story require a separate book? I guess what I mean is, what’s the difference between two 800 page books and a single 1600 page book with part 1 and part 2 if publication dates are not an issue? Being your own publisher means you can do whatever the heck you want. Anyway, good to hear from you, hope all is well with the family.

    Oh, quick question- did you mean to drop that character survival spoiler in your response to Derek?

    All the best
    aka Garfield

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      You’ve landed on the basic fulcrum point of my own indecision, Bill. It’s simply too early to know which way the board will tip. The thing is, I would like to be able to finish the story well and beautifully in a single fifth book that doesn’t rival War and Peace. 😉

  28. Brendan says:


    I stumbled across your books about 3 months ago and absolutely devoured them over the course of 2 or 3 weeks (even as long as they are). I just want to say that this blog post is awesome. I have no experience writing fiction, but as an avid reader – don’t feel any pressure. Your books are long, complicated and amazing and if they take another year I’m prepared to wait and I’m sure the payoff will be there. Just wanted to thank you for your work, wish you the best and say whenever you finish up the series, whether it be in 5, 6 or 7 books, I will be reading and eagerly anticipating the next book.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Brendan, thank you so much. I so appreciate your kind words and encouragement. I’m blessed to have so many supportive and patient readers. It really is heartwarming.

      I’m thrilled you’re enjoying the series and will do my best to make book five a worthy successor to the first four.

  29. Jim says:

    Hi Melissa, great writing and a heck of a story line.
    while there are other epic fantasy writers, I am grateful to you for staying on task and not start another series and taking a break from this one. While I understand while authors do that. I am 74 years old and am so to speak on the clock. Keep up the good work.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much, Jim. It’s important to me that the story keeps moving forward for a number of reasons. I’ll do my best to get book five out to you in a timely fashion. Thank you for reading. 🙂

  30. Don says:

    Hello Melissa, I have to say thank you for a great and enriching story to date (Pg 704, Kingdom Blades, whew!) and I am really glad and hopeful for a conclusion in the near future. But please, take your time and get it just the way you want it. I may have the patience of Job when it comes to writers (Brandon Sanderson) and it has been my pleasure to read all four of the current books, so from one of us that can wait on genius, please again do it in your time. Thanks

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement, Don. It’s a great relief to know that my readers understand that genius takes time – LOL. 😉

  31. Eric says:

    Please go long and do a book 6. You have far to much going on to wrap up in the 5th book. You have created one of the best fantasy series of all time. Feel free to do a sixth or seventh book. 🙂

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much, Eric. It’s great knowing you and so many others would be happy with extending the series. I’m going to just keep telling the story and see where it leads. It’s definitely my feeling too that there’s a lot going on to try to wrap it up in one book.

  32. Matthew Fry says:

    Hi Melissa! (I know i posted this to FB already but wanted to put it here to expand on it a little and to see what you and the other fans think!)
    I am re-reading the series now.. halfway through Paths of Alir… Still amazing as the first read… Kingdom blades was epic and i am hanging on the conclusion. One thing concerns me… i want more than just the one more book (As you said above you are aiming for five books to tie in with the five strands of elae). Just a humble suggestion from a massive fan… if it looks to spill to two books please dont cram it into one… there is a caveat available. There are 5 strands and that is true but there is also an antithesis to them… Deyjiin… and as Raine says in Book 1 “What we know is that it creates – or rather, I should say, destroys, for it destroys utterly everything it touches”… so if you could comfortably fill a sixth book (please) it could be the Deyjiin one where it finishes the series… Just saying!! 😀 Keep up the Amazing work!! 😀 😀 Additional… Also in the books the malorin’athgul unwork things on the edges of the universe using Deyjiin and this also ties quite nicely with the series end… being unworked as it were. . please consider this (not -too-shamefacedly begging for more books – lol)

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      I actually love your idea of considering deyjiin into my “five strands, five books” philosophy, Matthew. It’s definitely a legitimate reason to push to six if that’s where the story takes me. It’s also very nice to know you and many others would be happy if the series pushed to six, and probably don’t give a rats fart about the perceived profundity of these numbers. 😉

  33. Nicholas Wright says:

    *show love* I have 30 mins left of the Audio version of your last book. My drive to work will not be the same again.
    But, relax, enjoy your writing, and I look forward to the last book. I suspect I might benefit from reading all the books again anyway 😉

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you very much, Nicholas. I’m thrilled you’re enjoying the series on Audible.

      I think you might be pleasantly surprised by a reread at what you could find. I left some early clues there that are easily missed, thinking with readers/listeners taking more than one trip through the story. Thank you for listening. 🙂

  34. Ron Chance says:

    Ms McPhail, Thank you for such a great series you have a great story to tell and I think most of your fans don’t mind waiting for a good read. I want you to know that you are doing a great job and understand the work involve to finish the series. Thank you for the update

    Best Regards

  35. Tina Donofrio says:

    I just discovered your book series and couldn’t put it down, loosing much sleep over the last couple weeks, but I loved it! i have a question that might have been answered in the books, or may yet be answered in the final book, but even though it’s a minor detail, I hope you don’t mind my asking. It is stated that female truth readers are from the line of Isabel and and speaks of Bjorn being the Empress’s great-uncle, but who did Isabel have children with other than Arion? Or did Isabel and Bjorn have a sibling not yet mentioned? If you already made this clear and I missed it, I apologize. I can’t wait to read the rest of the story

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Hi Tina,

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series. Thank you for letting me know.

      The popular idea is that only the van Gelderan family line produces female truthreaders, not specifically Isabel or the Empress, but anyone in the van Gelderan family. This is an extensive family, however. The Empress herself has 11 children spread over the last couple of centuries, and the family line itself is very old and thus vast, as they’ve married into many other Houses – think of the Medici as an example.

      With all of that said, this idea is not actually true. It’s simply that very few female truthreaders are born into other families, but that could also be a product of the realm being out of Balance.

      The Empress thinks of Bjorn as her great-uncle, but he’s actually only her ancestor because he shares the van Gelderan name, not as a direct antecedent. In truth, the relationship is murky at best. 😉

  36. Robert Demyen says:

    Got a late start on KB’s and just finished it this morning. I’m duly impressed. As a fan of fantasy since first reading the Hobbit back in the early 70’s I have never encountered an author capable of evoking such an emotional response as you have. And I have read many books by many authors. Looking forward to your next work of brilliance. You have become one of my all time favorites. Thank you!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      I’m so honored by your praise, Robert. Thank you. I’m thrilled you’re enjoying the series. I’ve definitely set a bar for myself with the last book. It makes the prospect of book five a little daunting, to be honest. 😉 But I have the most supportive readers anywhere, and that’s an awesome support.

  37. Jennifer Zdinak says:

    Hello Melissa, I absolutely love this series and I am anticipating the next book. Thanks for the updates and I just want to say
    how amazing it is that you have been able to write this with so many story lines. I tend to shy away from books with too much going on but this was done so well. I was anticipating when characters would meet and yelling when they almost met lol. Keep up the good work and take your time!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much for the feedback on my series, Jennifer. I love knowing that you’re enjoying the series and interwoven storylines. It’s part of the fun for me, of course, trying to weave all of this together. I’ll admit, it’s looking even more challenging with book five than with the previous books, and I thought Kingdom Blades was tough enough! But that’s also part of the fun, isn’t it? Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, thank you for your encouragement, and of course – thank you for reading!

  38. Randy Stakeman says:

    I’m just about halfway through the first volume and I’m already blown away by the scope of this. There are very few series I will start before they are finally finished so I don’t have to wait for the next in the series. This is on the very short list of those I will read before the final volume is published. My advice to you is to take your time until you are satisfied. This will be on the shelves forever with your name attached and you want it to continue to be something of which you can be proud. I and many others will wait. Best wishes.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you, Randy. I’m honored to know I made your short list. I definitely intend to do justice to my characters’ story with the final volume. I would love your feedback as you continue through the series. Feel free to drop me a line here, via the contact form on the website or via my FB page.

      Thank you for the encouragement, and thank you for reading. 🙂

  39. Michael Scates says:

    Ms McPhail,
    I found your series about a year ago. I’m not one to get attached to series and tend to read them, like them, then move on. With that being said I’ve read this series through and have it on audible I’m now on my second read through. Your character development is unmatched in most modern fiction. You are now on my favorites list. Take all the time you need for the next book(s) this kind of series is worth the wait. Thanks for gifting us with your imagination. Waiting mostly patiently.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much, Michael. I’m thrilled that you’re enjoying the series and honored to know that I’ve made it onto your favorites list. It means a lot to me to know that you’ve connected with my characters and their story. Thank you for the support and encouragement, and thank you for reading (and listening!).

  40. Michael Thomas says:


    I preface this by saying I’m a fantasy snob — a trait I inherited from my mother. We constantly trade authors and novels back and forth in an ever lengthening quest to find new and interesting fantasy. Both of us can’t seem to find purchase in any other genre, so I say with great enthusiasm the hours (and hours, and hours, and hours, and hours) of enjoyment and satisfaction that your first four books have given us has been most, most welcome. There is impending doom (how ominous…) on the horizon in our family, and the escape your novels provide is a breath of mountain sweet air.

    Now, to the point: for the past ten years, my mother, who is a retired mechanical engineer, and myself, an active software engineer, (specializing in of all things, game theory and organic machine learning!), have been trading back and forth a novel we’ve been jointly writing (and ditching, and editing, and re-writing from scratch), and I wanted to thank you SO much for the inspiration that I’ve been able to draw on from your novels. Not directly in deeds, words, and characters, but in this: A wielder is only limited by what he (or she) can envision. A simple, but POWERFUL axiom. Of course I’m no wielder, but as an aspiring maker, such a simple, but powerful guiding principle (modified of course by the proceeding laws and esoterics!) applies to any act of making!

    I love and am in awe of novels that have axiomatic truths to them as a bedrock. They do such a great job of avoiding deus ex machina as a means of resolution, and instead allowing conflict to build and be resolved via the same guiding principles. I can only imagine the level of thought it took and probably continues to take to both adhere to the laws in your own act of creation, and let them grow organically as they are expressed via your characters, not to mention to come up with them in the first place. Such brilliance, Melissa. I am truly in awe. W’re both eagerly anticipating whatever conclusions these laws guide your characters to! Please keep creating, letting it find root as a beautiful abstract charcoal painting found in some out of the way antique store or in the most brilliant of starscapes glimpsed in the pure abstraction of Sinarr’s framed spaced in shadow.

    Phew, so many words to say thanks. Brevity — We’ll keep working on that!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Wow! Michael, I’m so honored by your generous praise. (And to be perfectly honest – when it comes to genuine praise offered to an artist for his/her work, brevity is overrated.) 😉

      I’m thrilled that you and your mother have connected with my characters and world, and especially those details of the magic system that give depth to so much of the story. I’ve had a lot of fun exploring the Laws and Esoterics myself. In all honesty, coming up with them was fairly easy. Finding ways to make them relevant so that it appears that they are the foundation of everything – that’s the challenging part.

      I’m honored that you’re able to draw inspiration for your own work from the philosophy offered in mine. I have a lot of purposes behind my writing, but one of them is to share the simple but powerful ideas I’ve come across in my own search for understanding. The Fifth Law derives from a branch of philosophy closely related to quantum mechanics. Many of the other laws do also.

      Finally, I firmly believe reading fiction should be an escape; I’m so glad I’ve been able to offer you haven in my world to offset some of the stress of yours. Thank you for reading.

  41. Michael Smith - Real name says:

    It’s all your fault, Melissa. I read or tell stories to my kids every night. One night they asked for some fiction so I said sure… gimme a sec. My four year old was in bed when my daughter (7) asked for a story. I just finished book 4 and thought “Well, there was once this king that had a few Sons, one was named Trell and was sent on a task for his father. He had to cross the ocean to do it. On his journey a powerful wizard erased his memory and he woke up on a beach not knowing where he’s from..”

    Every night she asks for more of the story. It’s all your fault 🙂 You could make an epic kids version of this!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      LOL, Michael. That’s awesome. I’m so honored that you’re sharing my story with your children. My daughters have grown up hearing about the story and characters. It’s fun when they ask me to tell them about the zanthyr, or randomly have a question about a character. Even more fun to see them writing stories themselves. Thank you for sharing my world with others, especially your very special ones, and thank you for reading.

  42. Jeff Tucker says:

    Ms. Mcphail,
    Thank you for creating this story. As a fantasy fan I find your creativity extraordinary​. It’s a rarity to find a story so completely original in this genre. You completely created your own world with its own unique and intriguing races as most fantasy authors seem unable to do. You also seem exceptionally crafty when plotting intrigue that is so completely engrossing I find myself dreaming about these characters when my eyes grow so grainy that I’m finally forced to relinquish the story for sleep. I trust you’ll do what the story requires of you in it’s completion for you left no doubt of your talent with the crafting of this tale. I look forward to the next installment even now, not having completed the third book in the series. (I just discovered your magnificent tale but four days ago.) Please accept my thanks for enduring the mountain this assuredly must have been to bring to light. I rarely find a story so enthralling that I must personally​ write to the author. However this tale I feel deserves to be praised for it’s unique grandeur. I will most definitely be seeking out any other works you may have.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much for reaching out to me, Jeff. I always appreciate feedback from my readers, but especially when they’re happy with the story and inspired to write to me to tell me so. 😉

      Wow! That’s super fast to get through my voluminous tomes. LOL You have so many wonderful adventures still ahead in Paths of Alir and Kingdom Blades. I hope you’ll circle back up with me once you’ve gotten through the next two books (or even while you’re reading – I love real-time updates also). I would love to know your thoughts.

      Thank you for reading. 🙂

  43. Dawn Bueno says:

    Wow….just wow. This series makes me feel like I am re-reading Wheel of Time. I have a very long commute to and from work and so listen to books. These characters become my friends and I love finding a series that you get to watch your characters grow. And in the world we live in with all its hate and disasters, finding a book which sucks you so deeply in that you imagine the world around you so easily that you forget the real world you are in, creates peace of mind. Your writing in inspirational. I will admit being disappointed and saddened to have gotten to the end of book 4….with no where to go….but I am sure it will be well worth the wait!!! Thank you for what you do and the worlds you create for us to fall in love with and in!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words about my series, Dawn. It thrills me to know you’re enjoying listening to the story and that you’re able to escape this world into mine for a while. That escape is so vitally important – it’s one of the things that drives me to write fantasy. I’m doing my best to make book five every bit as enthralling as the previous books. Thank you for listening!

  44. Gemma Nel says:

    First things first, you truly are an inspiration! As soon as I picked up the first book I was absolutely engrossed in it. The storyline is so complex but so fabulously put together that the series quickly became one of my all time favourites. I eagerly await the next book to escape into and it has been a joy to enter this world you have created.

    Thank you so much for your dedication to this series and doing it justice. Your commitment to such an intricate plot is astounding and I absolutely cannot contain my excitement for the next book, no matter how long it takes! (More time for me to re-read the others yet again, and STILL enjoy them third time over)

    You are phenomenal 🙂

    All the best,

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Gemma, thank you so much. I’m honored by your praise and thrilled that you’re enjoying my series.

      At this point I think my biggest commitment is to not allowing the story to spiral out of control, because it really wants to do that. I keep having to rein it in. But 24 independent story threads (which is what we’re dealing with for book 5) is quite enough! LOL. Thank you for reading (several times over).

  45. Connie R says:

    I’ve listened to the 4 published books and have fallen in much “like” with the series. I do wonder if you will ever touch back on the 4th brother that the queen was revealed to have conceived in the end of the first book. I am looking forward to the next/last book to come out, but understand it will take some time! If you can add any insight into the 4th brother, I look forward to it!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Hi Connie,

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series. Yes we will get back to the Queen and her fourth child in book five. I was hoping we’d get there in book four, but this story has a mind of its own. Thank you for reading. 🙂

      • Jonathon Tolliver says:

        I’m also curious to know why phaedor told Zara (I think that’s her name, the old woman that phaedor took Tanis to) that the next time he seen her would be the day she died.

        • Melissa McPhail says:

          Hi Jonathan, Since Phaedor sees the mortal tapestry, he knows the future of certain threads. Every once in a while he just does something like this. We can’t really know his motives, since he never shares them, but there was probably a purpose behind his sharing that data with Farshideh (Yara was the Kandori woman who took in Alyneri and Trell), beyond its simply being the truth. I believe there was a kindness in his choosing to tell her this. (Remember, she was sick with a cancer that Alyneri couldn’t heal.)

  46. Nicholas Wright says:

    P.S. If you want to write 6 books (mental stability still willing), I’ll happily do you a favour and read them 😉
    Please don’t rush it, please don’t lose bits!
    I treasure Sword of Truth and Wheel of Time, I want to add yours to my collection of favoured epics.

  47. Victor Sanchez says:

    Hi There. Glad to hear things are moving along. An interesting insight that you write each character linearly. I just wanted to pass along that I started reading after the third book was published. A facebook ad for Wheel of Time fans caught my attention. It was such a treat. My favorite character is Tanis. When the fourth book came out I read it right away. It was so exciting! Also, the way the story unfolded caught me by surprise and I didn’t think that was possible after the events of book 3! The way you weaved the characters through the story was superb! I just wanted you to know that I really appreciate your work and excitedly anticipate learning what happens next!

    Keep of the great work and thank you for sharing with all of us.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Victor. I’m thrilled you’re enjoying the series. It’s really fun for me to try to weave all of these characters together in a way that makes for a compelling story. Challenging at times, admittedly, but always fun. I’m blessed to be able to write this tale and have so many others who want to read about these characters and share my world with me. Thank you for being among that number.

  48. Mary says:

    Hi, Melissa! Glad to know you’re working hard on Book 5. I just discovered you about two months ago and devoured the first two books. Am questing my way through Paths of Alir and finally beginning to get a handle on who is who and who is allied to who. Waiting to see how Trell finally gets free of his masochistic bitch, Taliah. Just thought I’d let you know there’s one more fan among the many you have and deserve!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series so far, Mary. Thank you for letting me know! I really appreciate getting feedback from my readers, so I hope to hear from you again as you continue through Paths and Kingdom Blades. Thank you for reading.

  49. Doug Hayes says:

    Hi Melissa, like many of the comments here, I am happy to wait for book 5. I have read many 100’s of Fantasy novels/trilogies etc, and this series of books are in my top 5 along with The Sword of Truth and the Wheel of Time. I have many favorite characters, Pheodor being one, we would call him a wind up in the UK as he always seems to, as the song goes ” say it best when you say nothing at all” I also like Carian vran Lea, who lives life to the full. Your talent is obvious, thank you so much for the pleasure you have given me.
    All the very best to you and your Family.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much for your support and encouragement, Doug. I appreciate all of the interaction and feedback you’ve offered while reading my series, and I look forward to hearing from you again after book five.

      Phaedor is at the top of my list also. 😉

  50. Jonathon Tolliver says:

    Hi Melissa! Let me first say that these books are amazing! Very original! I don’t know how many books I’ve read that I notice are similar to other stories, just a different character and a different universe.

    I’m also a listener of the audio books and just completed the fourth book (I thought there were only four!) towards the last hour I started to think, no way she can wrap this up in an hour. Then came the end of the book and I knew there must be another!

    Finally, I wanted to tell you how much of an impact this had on my life. For a moment there sinar (I’m a listener, I imagined this is how you spell it) made me question reality! I feel like there are many life lessons one can learn from this series. For I know I have!

    Eagerly anticipating your next book,

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you so much, Jonathan. I’m thrilled that you’re enjoying my series on Audible. Obviously I have more to do to finish the series. I have no idea if I’ll be able to wrap it all up in one book yet. I hesitate to speculate on it. 😉

      I’m so glad to know that you gained new perspectives from Sinarr. He’s an interesting guy. It’s fun to try to assume the viewpoint of a true immortal who is the master of his own universe. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I’m always open to feedback and love hearing how the story has impacted the lives of my readers.

      Thank you for listening.

  51. Verily, the best series since I first read Robert Jordan. Your training as a classical musician is evident in your masterful writing. Brava! Brava!

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      I’m honored by your praise, Mark. Being mentioned in the same sentence with RJ is one of the highest accolades I could wish for. Thank you!

      I’m so glad to know you see evidence of my classical background in my storytelling. I definitely draw upon it, especially in my metaphors. I’m thrilled you’re enjoying the series. Thank you for reading.

  52. Jeremy Winders says:

    “Journey before destination” -B. Sanderson
    Forget deadlines, content is vastly more desirable. The story is a hurricane, stands swirling together into the eye.
    Only the F. Herbert’s Dune series has the beautiful depth and chaos I see the your work. Take years, but create an ending that is profound, that moves us to a moment of clarity, a moment of enlightenment. A feeling that transcends the characters and becomes a defining instance as the reader uncovers a universal truth that was hiding in plain sight all along. Give us the feeling of overcoming the grand illusion. Make us believe that we can take from our surroundings and make something more from it. Give us a destination that is worth of this journey.

    My admiration and highest regards,

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      My goodness, Jeremy, your vision for my final books is itself profound. High aims, and I have no idea how I’d get there, but I always love the vista from the peaks. Thank you for giving me a vision of greatness to aspire to.

  53. Fred Bennett says:

    Sorry youngin’….I’m gonna have to crack the whip!!! This waiting is killing me! 🙂

  54. Wesley Lashbrook says:

    I absolutely love this series! I discovered these books last year and could not put them down. It has been such a pleasure to read them. A friend of mine introduced them to me after I turned her on to Sanderson and Jordan, and we are both in love. Wonderful work, and I cannot wait for book 5! Thank you for your sharing with the world your gift.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Thank you very much, Wesley. I’m so happy to know you’re enjoying my series. Yay to the friend who shared it with you! Please thank them for me. 🙂

  55. Roni says:

    Go for 6 books. I love this series.

  56. sue says:

    I have loved all the 4 of the your books to be honest I have listened to them all 3 times so far and cannot wait till the next one. thank you for the enjoyment you have given me so far.

  57. Tim says:

    Do you have any status update on book 5?

  58. MORGAN A GRIFFIN says:

    You’ve done great so far especially considering the scope. In one series you’re dealing with a similar level of writing complexity as Brandon Sandersons cosmos. In regards to the sheer number of povs that is. Just remember a writer can just as easily snare themselves trying to fit 6 books into 5 as they can trying to put 5 into 7+. If you’re story has to much left to tell don’t constrain yourself. Even if it would have been nice symbolically to have 5 books I don’t think you’re fans will be filled with rage and idignation at the prospect of the story going on just a little longer. I know I won’t shed any tears about getting just one more fix lol.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      Hi Morgan, Thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, you make a very good point. I’m definitely letting the story be my guide, (as I’ve always done) versus trying to guide it. When I impudently made that attempt early in writing book five, we quickly went nowhere. If I let the story be in charge, I have less control over how long it us, but it’s a better story, so everyone is happier. 😉

      • MORGAN A GRIFFIN says:

        That’s good to hear 🙂 I was barely kidding about the one more fix part. I tend to read books in a week or less. I can’t stop. (If they’re good) When I read it I’m barely tethered to my body. People could be yelling and screaming around me and I wouldn’t even notice them. Unfortunately this means I spend a great deal of time impatiently waiting for one of my authors to finish writing their next book. That being said if I have to wait I’d much rather it was because they’re writing a longer story than because they’re struggling to make it shorter lol.

  59. Edith Rudy says:

    Thanks for the update. I started the series two weeks ago (probably not the best idea immediately after cataract surgery, but for a good fantasy, who cares?). I read many of the comments above. I gave up on GoT after the third book…and your series has helped me understand why. There’s no overriding good vs evil component in GoT…just human greed. Years ago I started Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. After the third book, I found myself sort of hoping it wasn’t going to go more than five or six. In the long run, I read all 14 volumes at least five times. I believe, from what I’ve read so far, that your series will take its place with WoT as one of my all-time favorites. Don’t try to tie things up too quickly…and let us know what’s happening to Queen Errodan. Thanks for some wonderful reading.

    • Melissa McPhail says:

      That’s a very interesting observation about GoT, Edith. It makes a lot of sense to me why I also lost interest in the series about the same time. I have definitely learned my lesson about making sweeping statements like, “this is the last book” before actually writing the book. The story gods were not pleased with my impudence. I’m back to just letting the story be in control and we’ll see where it takes us. These characters have their own determinism and it’s futile to resist them.

      We will definitely get back to Errodan in book five. 🙂

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