Prologues have a bad rap. There are readers out there who have been so badly burned by bad prologues that they will not read any more books with prologues.
(I’m not one of them. As a rule, I like my epic fantasy with prologues.)
But this was my debut novel. I was going to have enough trouble finding willing readers; I needed to do everything I could to signal to those I could find that they wouldn’t run into any of the usual fantasy author hazards with my book: poor pacing; POVs bloat; and of course, bad use of prologues.
So, no prologues. No matter how much I liked them personally.
Unfortunately, I had two problems:
- The first half of the book lacked sufficiently large stakes for epic fantasy. There is House intrigue happening, but Rahelu isn’t privy to it, so it isn’t apparent from her POVs—which form 99% of the book. Doh.
- The murder mystery doesn’t kick in until more than halfway through the book, so it feels like a left turn out of nowhere.
I tried really hard to solve this without adding a non-Rahelu POV. But every solution I considered (Rahelu running into the murder/s or murderer, somehow; Rahelu hearing rumors about the murder/s; etc) felt horribly hamfisted and contrived.
In the end, I gave up and went with the obvious solution: I added a different POV and made it a prologue.
It’s a tried-and-true technique for fantasy authors because it works. Opening with Azosh-ek’s POV as a prologue lets me establish some story promises that I couldn’t set up with a Rahelu POV in Chapter 1:
- Violence and gore level (I’m not writing grimdark, but there are going to be some gruesome scenes)
- Move the emphasis on the murder mystery away from the whodunit aspect towards the why
- That there will be multiple POVs. Not necessarily a whole heap of them, but it will not be a strictly single POV book.
I’m a huge fan of how Brandon Sanderson uses interludes in his works—they’re a nice little diversion between arcs in his books and offer a glimpse into other parts of his world that the main narrative doesn’t have the opportunity to visit yet.
It’s my hope that the Azosh-ek POVs (the prologue, the interlude, and the epilogue) offer you some variety from the Rahelu POVs, without diluting the focus of the story.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.
(Full disclosure: the Azosh-ek prologue was not the original prologue, though, which was a young Rahelu POV, set five years before the events of Chapter 1. If you’re interested in reading that, you can get access by signing up for my mailing list.)