With The Discord Of Gods (hardcover, Kindle, audiobook), writer Jenn Lyons is concluding the epic fantasy series A Chorus Of Dragons that she began in 2019 with The Ruin Of Kings, continued with 2019’s The Name Of All Things, again in 2020’s The Memory Of Souls, and further still with 2021’s The House Of Always [and which you can learn more about here, here, here, and here, respectfully]. In the following email interview, Lyons discusses what inspired and influenced both this novel and how it ends this saga.
Photo Credit: Matthew & Nicole Nicholson, Dim Horizon Studio
For people who haven’t read any of these books, or any of the interviews we’ve done about them, what is your A Chorus Of Dragons series about, and what kind of a world is it set in?
A Chorus Of Dragons is ultimately a story about good and evil, and by that I don’t mean that one side is good and the other side is evil. I mean the way in which human beings are incredibly skilled at convincing themselves that they are good and the other side must therefore be evil. The way in which we can and do excuse all manner of deeds under the idea that the ends justify the means, that as long as we can convince ourselves that it’s necessary, then we are also absolved from guilt or consequence. The way we ignore evil every day because it makes our lives easier, or because the person committing the objectionable behavior is our friend or someone we like.
Or if you don’t feel like going quite that deep, it’s a story about families (found and otherwise), jealousy, magic, demons, power, and (naturally) dragons.
And then for people who’ve read the previous books in the A Chorus Of Dragons series, and thus can ignore me saying SPOILER ALERT, what is The Discord Of Gods about, and how does it connect to the fourth book, The House Of Always?
It picks up right after The House Of Always. The main characters, having survived those events, are now determined to move forward with their own plans to stop the end of the world. They have stopped being passive participants reacting to events and are instead determined to shape what happens themselves. This…doesn’t always go as planned.
Well, there wouldn’t be a book if it had. So, when in the process of writing the previous four books did you come up with both the plot for The Discord Of Gods and thus the end of A Chorus Of Dragons?
The ending of A Chorus Of Dragons hasn’t changed from the start. I’ve always known how the series would end and I’m very pleased that I’ve been able to keep to that ending. Exactly how we got to that ending though? That had a little more wiggle room. Once I’d decided how book 3, The Memory Of Souls, had to end, books 4 and 5, The House Of Always and The Discord Of Gods, fell into line right behind it.
Though I will say that originally fighting leading up to the climax was to have been much more of the traditional hero with sword battles the Bad Boss, and that part did change quite a bit. It’s hard to have Aragorn fighting Saruman when it’s more like Sauron fighting Saruman. (Which character is which I leave up to you.)
The previous books in the A Chorus Of Dragons were all epic fantasy tales. I assume that The Discord Of Gods is one as well…
Much like book 3, The Memory of Souls, The Discord of Gods is really epic fantasy down to its core.
Are there any writers, or specific stories, that had a big influence on The Discord Of Gods but not on the other four A Chorus Of Dragons novels? Because in the interview we did for The Memory Of Souls you said there wasn’t anything that specifically influenced that book, but in the one we did for The Name Of All Things, you cited Ivanhoe.
It would be impossible to claim that I wasn’t thinking about a great many fantasy series and how they ended: [J.R.R. Tolkien’s] The Lord Of The Rings, [David Eddings’] The Belgariad, [Michael Moorcock’s] Elric novels, [Glen Cook’s] Black Company series, [Robert Jordan’s] The Wheel Of Time series, and [Ursula K. Le Guin’s] Earthsea Chronicles to name a few. I doubt most people will recognize all of those influences directly. In some cases, it was less homage than a desire to not walk down a particular story road.
I’ll also add that Fred Saberhagen’s Ardneh Sequence books have been a huge influence on the entire series, but it’s especially evident here in the last book.
How about non-literary influences; was The Discord Of Gods influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games?
As usual, I made no attempt to resist the traditional Lin-Manuel Miranda Easter egg. They’ve been in all of the previous books, so why stop now?
As we’ve been discussing, The Discord Of Gods is the last book in the A Chorus Of Dragons saga. Other authors who’ve written multi-book sagas expand upon them with prequels, sequels, or side stories. Are you planning to do this as well?
This is a world that I’ve been working on in some capacity for thirty-five years. It’s a big world, and there was just no way to fit everything I’ve developed into five books. Which is a long-winded way of saying that I doubt I’m finished writing in this universe. In particular, I don’t feel that I gave nearly enough page space to the fate of the empire itself. While I was busy telling this story of gods and dragons, there was a whole different story of politics, greed, corruption, and wildly changing social classes happening in the background that I barely touched upon.
And in the case of Chosen One stories, I’ve always had a weakness for asking the question: great, what happens next? Because that’s usually when the hard part really begins.
So…what are you planning to write next? Something super short and light and fuzzy and in a completely different genre, or do you have another epic, multi-volume fantasy saga burning a hole in your pocket?
As I have yet to figure out how to write a short story, I don’t see that in my immediate future. Rather, I’ve already started writing a stand-alone novel about a woman whose chance to become a dragonrider was ruined when she was accused of stealing from a dragon’s hoard, and fifteen years later she’s being blackmailed into performing a similar heist again. Which is a problem, since she was innocent from the start. I suppose it’s very Dragon Riders Of Pern meets The Hobbit by way of The Usual Suspects. She’s incredibly bitter (wouldn’t you be if someone scuffed your chance to get a dragon?) and grumpy and I love her.
I also have a space opera, which I finished last year. It’s a re-write of an earlier story of mine about a rebel intelligence agent trying to hunt down an assassin before he restarts a war between their interstellar nations.
Neat. Now, in the previous interviews we did for the other four books, we’ve mentioned that Annapurna Studios had licensed the A Chorus Of Dragons series for a TV series, but that was all you could ever say about it. Is that still the case?
Still can’t say anything. It’s not even because I’m not allowed to: I just don’t have any news.
Did you ever think that maybe they were waiting for you to finish the fifth book before they started working on this TV series in earnest so to avoid pulling a Game Of Thrones with it?
No, I honestly don’t think that has anything to do with it. And quite frankly, I suspect their reaction to book five will be something like, “Good lord, we don’t have the budget for that.” (Maybe if they sell it to Disney. Maybe.)
These things just take a long time. To use your own example, I remember hearing that Game Of Thrones sat on a shelf for eight years before it ever started development (don’t quote me on that: it may have been even longer). The Sandman has been in development off and on for literally decades. I’m not holding my breath.
So, is there anything else that people might need to know about The Discord Of Gods? Or A Chorus Of Dragons?
Oh, the usual things, really: it’s very queer, it’s very much not a YA series, and, most importantly, the dog doesn’t die. And although I hate that I should need to spell this out, there’s been some confusion on this point, so let me just add: There’s no incest. I will gladly leave that to Game Of Thrones.
Finally, if someone has enjoyed The Discord Of Gods and the A Chorus Of Dragons saga, what super short fantasy book of someone else’s would you recommend they read next?
Emily Tesh just won the Astounding Award for best new writer for her two novellas, Silver In The Wood and Drowned Country. They’re both soft, lovely, and weird fantasies stories I highly recommend. In a similar vein, the entire Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire (I believe there are seven books so far) is not quite as soft, but fantastic and wonderful. And let’s see…Alexandra Rowland just released a new novella about arson and theatrical rivalries gone amuck called Some By Virtue Fall. Highly recommended.