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  • Writer's pictureRichard Swan

The Great Silence trilogy - Q&A

The news is out—my new flintlock fantasy series, THE GREAT SILENCE, has been announced. It is a time of great, gunpowdery excitement.

(Click image to be taken to the Orbit website for the full announcement)

There are lots of exciting things to share in the coming months—the map, the cover, snippets, etc—but for now, I’ve harvested your questions (and in most instances distilled many variations of the same question) and produced this Q&A with some pedigree information you might be interested in.

So, without further ado, let’s prime the pans, soak the sponges, and clear the decks for action.


(image credit: Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau)

Q. What is it about?                    


Grave Empire is the first book in a new series set two hundred years after the concluding events of my Empire of the Wolf trilogy, in a time period analogous to the mid-to-late 1700s. Here’s the blurb:


Blood once turned the wheels of empire. Now it is money.
A new age of exploration and innovation has dawned, and the Empire of the Wolf stands to take its place as the foremost power in the known world. Glory and riches await.
But dark days are coming. A mysterious plague has broken out in the pagan kingdoms to the north, while in the south, the Empire’s proxy war in the lands of the wolfmen is weeks away from total collapse.
Worse still is the message brought to the Empress by two heretic monks, who claim to have lost contact with the spirits of the afterlife. The monks believe this is the start of an ancient prophecy heralding the end of days—the Great Silence.
It falls to Renata Rainer, a low-ranking ambassador to an enigmatic and vicious race of mermen, to seek answers from those who still practice the arcane arts. But with the road south beset by war and the Empire on the brink of supernatural catastrophe, soon there may not be a world left to save…


(image credit: Edward Matthew Hale)

Q. Do I need to have read the Empire of the Wolf trilogy to know what’s going on?

No. Veteran readers will enjoy an "enhanced" experience, seeing how the world has changed and evolved, and of course there will be little easter eggs and references; but The Great Silence has been carefully and deliberately written as a fresh jumping off point for readers with no prior knowledge or reading required.


Q. Does that mean no recurring characters from the Empire of the Wolf, then? What about Helena and Vonvalt?

There will be no recurring (mortal) characters from the first trilogy.


Q. How long is Grave Empire?

About 150,000 words. Longer than The Justice of Kings, shorter than The Tyranny of Faith.


Q. When is it due to be released?

February 2025


Q. So it’s finished, then?

Yes, pending a copyedit and proofread


Q. Who is the cover artist?

It is not Martina again; given the flintlock time period / narrative, the covers will be in a different (but still extremely cool) style.


Q. How long will the series be?

The Great Silence is a trilogy


Q. Will it have an annual release cycle?

That's certainly the plan.


Q. have you written the other books?

I started writing book 2 as of this past week (being w/c 20 May 2024)


Q. Renata Rainer is named in the copy; is she the only PoV character?

No; there are three PoV characters in Grave Empire, and more in books 2 and 3


Q. Is the series written in third or first person PoV?



Q. Will this feature more death magic / necromancy?

Absolutely; it is the narrative bedrock of the series.


Q. Will there be new creatures? Monsters? Eldritch weirdness?

Yes, yes and yes. There's definitely plenty of weirdness and body horror in this one.

(Image credit: Luca Solomacello) 

Q. What is the main / most compelling difference between the EMPIRE OF THE WOLF and the GREAT SILENCE trilogies (aside from the two century time jump?)

The Great Silence will be to diplomacy, international relations, foreign policy and public international law what The Empire of the Wolf was to law and jurisprudence  


Q. Will there be references to previous characters from Empire of the Wolf?

Yes. Indeed, the surname Rainer should be familiar to some readers of The Trials of Empire.


Q. Will The Great Silence trilogy be getting a special edition?

I’m not sure, feels likely at some point though


Q. What part of history have you taken inspiration from for this series? What sort of research did you do?

Generally the Georgian era (early 1700s – early 1800s). I have drawn heavily on the Seven Years War (what is known in the USA as the “French and Indian Wars) for one of the storylines; thematically, and more broadly, pre-Napoleonic gunpowder warfare—as a friend of mine once put it, “tricornes, not shakos”. Like most fantasy readers I’m something of a history nerd, so I was already broadly familiar with this time period – but here are some of the specific books I read or referenced for this trilogy:


  1. The Pattern (The 33rd Regiment in the American Revolution, 1770-1783) by Dr Robbie MacNiven

  2. Georgian London: Into the Streets, by Lucy Inglis

  3. Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754 – 1766, by Fred Anderson

  4. Sacred Britannia: The Gods and Rituals of Roman Britain, by Miranda Aldhouse-Green

  5. Choose Your Weapons: The British Foreign Secretary, 200 Years of Argument, Success and Failure, by Douglas Hurd

  6. The Trafalgar Companion: A Guide To History's Most Famous Sea Battle and the Life of Admiral Lord Nelson, by Mark Adkin

  7. Seamanship in the Age of Sail, by John Harland


But it is always crucial to note: the Great Silence trilogy is not real life, it is not historical fiction, and "accuracy" always yields to entertainment and narrative expediency.



 (Image credit: Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau)


That's all for now. To be the first to know, sign up to my mailing list here:

Yours most flintlockedly



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J.W. Wartick
J.W. Wartick
May 27

This sounds amazing! It wasn't the announcement I was expecting (something about the previous space opera trilogy being redone?) but this has me super hyped!

Richard Swan
Richard Swan
May 29
Replying to

Thanks mate!

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