It has been a long time since I last updated this blog. In that time, my life has shifted in new but not wholly unexpected ways. I have moved cross-country, completed a graduate certificate program, shifted careers, and finalized my divorce.
In this time, I have received feedback on the ending to The Enduring Flame: some good, some critical. I regret to say that, though the ending is not completely satisfactory to all readers, it is not something I wish to revisit—at least not for a long time to come.
“Death of the Author” is a perfectly fine analysis in theory, but it discounts the reality of every artist being heavily influenced by their life and experiences. In my case, I wrote the ending to my trilogy while in a personal spiral. In the span of a few short months, I had lost my marriage, given up my teaching career and house, and watched the dreams for my future go up in flames. Despite all this, I was determined to finish the trilogy and publish the book a year after The Fading Glow, as I had promised to do.
Perhaps this was a poor choice. Perhaps I should have waited to complete it until I was in a better place. Well over a year later, though, I am still in a writing slump (I have written a grand total of twenty to thirty pages in the past calendar year) and so I would have had to keep pushing back the publication date. Really, it was a choice between a rushed and emotionally compromised ending, or no ending at all.
A few readers have told me that the series ended too cleanly and happily, even for monsters like Cara. I don’t disagree. I had always intended for Cara to realize her wrongdoings and seek redemption for the rest of her days; though not realistic for the monsters of our own world, in my fantasy I imagined that true remorse could be found even in the darkest of hearts. Death is an easy way out for villains; it would be far more difficult, yet satisfactory, for them to come to terms with their own evil. Could I have executed it better? Absolutely. But the gist of Cara’s ending would still have been the same.
Many modern readers expect a bloodbath in the final book of a series. Frankly, I didn’t have the heart to kill off other major characters, nor to bring more tragedy for those like Sandu and Seanna who had already suffered so much. Because I was in such a dark place myself, I think I was trying to gain some control by giving my characters a chance at happiness. When looking at each one individually, I felt that they all had earned their respective endings.
So I hope you, my readers, can forgive this human impulse to grant happy endings where it is in my power to do so.
If you are someone who enjoys epilogues, below are short summaries of the lives of each important character. If you prefer to imagine your own endings, you can stop reading here (or even tell me what you imagine for your favorite characters).
I don’t know when I’ll begin writing or updating this blog again, but I wish you all the best.
The rest of Cara’s life was not easy. She never again experienced true friendship, though she did occasionally visit her parents before their deaths. She spent the rest of her days traveling with Jagger, attempting to gain redemption through a life of selflessness. When Jagger eventually passed on, Cara continued without companionship. She did not marry, did not settle down—no village would want her in their community—and died alone and unmourned. I don’t think she would have done enough to escape Purgatory, and so would have continued her pursuit of redemption into death.
Like Cara, Jagger spent his life seeking redemption. Unlike Cara, Jagger’s deal with Autorus meant that he would pass on once his debts were paid. One night, he felt a sense of peacefulness in his soul, and said his goodbyes to Cara. He passed on in the night and finally rejoined his beloved Raven in the afterlife.
Like the Witches before her, Gwen became less and less human. Druam dwelled happily with her until his natural death, and Gwen continued on as a caretaker of the Woods for time immemorial. She raised Lintem’s cubs, then their cubs, and so on, and soon came to know every creature, tree, and stone within her Woods. Like the Witches before her, she became a myth herself.
Though he spent much of his time in the Woods with Gwen, Druam traveled often to see Verdon. Never content to lay about, he took on multiple projects over the years: aiding Ropaz to create a parliamentary system for the kingdom; building villages and roads within the Woods for those people who chose to stay; learning to craft new glass lanterns, which he hung all around Gwen’s little hut. Like many former fampir, he experienced melancholy about growing old and passing on. However, as all mortals must, he eventually made peace with his own death.
Though he never sought leadership roles, Sandu found himself as a sort of mediator between the ruling class and the rustic folk. His skills of reading and writing earned him respect, and his ability to hear the Songs of Humanity granted him great compassion and empathy. He lived in a modest home in Con Salur with his father and the twins. Frederick opened a smithy nearby and helped to raise Eaton and Elvy. Sandu died surrounded by grandchildren and great-grandchildren, having lived a quiet, peaceful life.
With Portia at her side, Seanna returned to her home city of Brin. Rather than keeping the ancestral family manor for herself, she made it into an orphanage. Little Landin was raised along with a cohort of children, laughing and playing in the city streets. He was later told that he was the son of a king, and so felt a need to honor his father’s memory. With Seanna’s blessing, Landin joined Brin’s parliament and faithfully served the city for many years. Seanna found contentment in her simple life, and did all she could to help the children in her care learn from her many mistakes.
Eventually, Mavian’s resentment at sacrificing his life faded, and he became a caring guide for the dead. Like Gwen, he lost track of the passage of time, and his mortal memories dissipated into the Song of Death. He warmly greeted Cara, Druam, Sandu, Seanna, and Jagger when each of their times came.