With Legacy Of Light (paperback, Kindle), writer Matthew Ward is concluding The Legacy Trilogy of fantasy novels he began in 2019 with Legacy Of Ash, and continued in 2002 with Legacy Of Steel. In the following email interview, Ward discusses what inspired and influenced this novel, and why it may be the end of the story, but not necessarily the end of the adventure.
Photo Credit: Photo Nottingham
Let’s start with some background. What is The Legacy Trilogy about, and what kind of world is it set in?
The Legacy Trilogy concerns the mistakes of the past, and how a new generation strives to fix them. (It probably sounds more timely than was deliberate, as it happens.)
As the story unfolds, we’re immersed in a world where magic and gods are real — though often shunned — and where wealth and status warp everyone. It’s a saga of bloodshed and politics, of love and heartbreak, where realms fall through treachery and rise again on bedrock of the truest of friendships.
And there are cats, of course. Because a book isn’t really a book without a cat.
I take it you’re a cat person then…
I have four cats: two attention-seeking tabbies (Theremin and Marco), a grumpy black cat (Ceinwyn), and a clueless black and white (Zathras).
Cool. So, what is Legacy Of Light about, and how does it connect, narratively and chronologically, to the second book, Legacy Of Steel?
Legacy Of Light is set roughly five years Legacy Of Steel. While things have moved on in both the Hadari Empire and the Tressian Republic, the events of Legacy Of Steel still cast a long shadow.
All of the main characters made life-altering decisions in the earlier book, and the consequences — good and bad — are starting to make their presence felt. They’ve gone from dealing with the aftermath of the previous generation’s decisions to being confronted by the knock-on of their own.
When in the process of writing Legacy Of Ash and Legacy Of Steel did you come up with the idea for Legacy Of Light?
Oh, the core story of Legacy Of Light has been around in my head for twenty-odd years, and has survived relatively unscathed, even down to the details. The changes come in with the characters who haven’t been around for twenty-odd years: Ana, Kurkas, Melanna, and so on. Their presence, as in the other books, makes the story far richer than it would otherwise be. Everyone — and I do mean everyone — has a major role to play in what’s coming.
There’s one character in particular (who I won’t name for fear of spoilers) who has grown almost beyond recognition from Legacy Of Ash. They’re actually one of my favorite things about where I’ve ended up, because their character development has flowed from their choices and personality, not from the strictures of plot and word count.
When we did the interview for Legacy Of Ash, you said that story was, “… sitting on the midpoint of a line with The Lord Of The Rings at one end, and Game Of Thrones on the other. Dark, but not pitch black…” Is that how you’d describe Legacy Of Light as well?
My first instinct is to say that Legacy Of Light is a little bit darker than the other books…and then I remember some of the stuff that goes on in the other books, and I’m not sure that’s true at all.
So I guess all three are sitting in roughly the same spot — hope and despair vying for control of the narrative. Which is how it should be, I reckon.
Are there any writers or stories that had a big influence on Legacy Of Light but not on Legacy Of Ash or Legacy Of Steel?
I don’t think so, and that’s probably a good thing (although J.M. Straczynski has even more to answer for in this one than the others, I suspect).
Even though there’s more in-world time between Light and Steel than there was between Ash and Steel, I wanted the books to feel tonally similar. I think that’s important in trilogies — three small stories that tell one greater story by the time they’re done. It shouldn’t jar when you step from one book to the next.
While the books are, of course, a little bit different in style (they’d have to be, having been written over the course of three years) I think the tone remains in the same place. Readers who loved the first two books should feel like they’re coming home when they crack open Legacy Of Light.
What about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, or games; did any of those things have a big impact on Legacy Of Light?
Almost anything I write owes a debt to From Software’s games: Dark Souls, Bloodborne, etc. They’re masters of adding a dark edge to fantasy without being edgy for the sake of it. Tragedy shines through every game in the series, and their settings are beautifully realized.
Beyond that, there are lots of little weird reference points, from cartoons to sitcoms, that probably would just sound strange if I committed them to a page. I’m not much of a holistic consumer of art — I’ll see a detail and get fascinated by it, even if I’m not fond of the whole.
The release of Legacy Of Light is good news for people who’ve been waiting for all three books to be available so they can read them back-to-back. But do you think this is a good idea, or should they read something in-between?
Honestly, folk should do what works for them. The Legacy Trilogy is very consciously written so that each book has its own, self-contained story — and in part that’s because I’m aware that not everyone wants to stampede through 720,000 words of narrative in one go. There have to be break points where the reader can step away if they want to.
Personally, if I find something I love I consume all of it as soon as I can, but it’s different strokes for different folks. If readers want to take a break, then they shouldn’t feel under any pressure to keep reading. If nothing else, the passage of time between the books might even reward a little bit of time and distance on the reader’s part.
Some people who write trilogies later expand upon them with sequels, prequels, or side stories. Are you planning to write anything else in the realm of The Legacy Trilogy or is this it?
Aha, let me show you my mad spider-web of a planning board…
The short version is: Yes, I’d love to come back to Aradane in the near future. There’s plenty more to say about the Trelan and Saran bloodlines, even if it’s not the same characters we’ve gotten so close to in the Legacy Trilogy. As for the gods? I think we’ll be seeing them pop up here and there for a long time to come — even if it’s not immediately obvious at first.
But, of course, we’ll have to see what happens. Publishing is a tangled road, but I’d like to think we’ll be back to see [REDACTED] and what happens when [REDACTED] ends up [REDACTED]. It’ll be fun.
Finally, in the aforementioned interview we did for Legacy Of Ash, you said there were no plans to adapt this series into a movie, TV show, or game. Is that still the case?
If something’s changed, no one’s telling me. But who knows what might happen?
And is your hope still that someone will want to turn it into a TV series with Richard Armitage [The Hobbit] as Viktor Akadra, [Harry Potter‘s] Emma Watson as Calenne Trelan, and, ignoring the rules of time and space, Carrie Fisher [Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker] as Revekah Halvor?
I think a few of those have swapped around a bit as time has passed, but would I love to see it? (Notwithstanding the fact that it would mean that the world would, by some magical means, get a bit more Carrie Fisher to keep it honest?) Absolutely.