I have had several very kind, gracious inquiries from readers recently asking about the status of book 5. An update on that is due.
First, let me reveal that there now are going to be two more books in the Strongbow Saga series, a fifth and a sixth book. I was hoping to fit the remainder of the story into one long book, but have come to realize that that’s not the best choice for several reasons. First, the remainder of the Strongbow Saga has two very distinct plot arcs. The first, which will now be book 5, concerns the company’s journey into the area that is now Northern Russia, in an attempt to find and rescue Sigrid. The second, which will be book 6, concerns the return voyage to Denmark—a relatively short segment, but one that will contain some significant plot developments—then the journey on to Ireland, where the final confrontation with Toke will take place. The two arcs are more logically two books than one, plus there’s no way I could complete both this year, which is a strong argument for splitting them up.
A major part of the delay in getting book 5 out was the research necessary to write the Russia part of the story. The history of the Vikings in Russia is not nearly as well known or understood as is their history in the west, in their own homelands, in Europe, and in England. There is quite a lot of source material available for those areas, including accounts actually written during the Viking era, saga stories, and archeological findings, plus numerous works summarizing and/or analyzing the underlying historical data.
By contrast, for the period in which the Strongbow Saga is set—the mid 9th century—there is relatively little data available about Russia. There are essentially no contemporaneous accounts, save one or two brief, cryptic mentions in Frankish sources, and only a few mentions in the old sagas. Most of the data is just archeological findings, which, while they reveal the presence in the north-western Russia area of Viking-age Scandinavians, do not provide a clear picture of what exactly was going on there. The picture is further muddled by the fact that the later-written annals of the Rus, the Russian kingdom which was founded by Swedish Vikings beginning sometime in the mid to late 9th century, are more legend than fact when trying to tell the origin story of the Rus kingdom.
I write by “seeing” the scenes of the story in my mind, then putting those visual images into words. For a long time, I could not “see” Viking Russia clearly enough for that process to work. But eventually I finally did process the very extensive amount of researched data into an understanding of what I believe is a very likely historically accurate composite of mid-ninth century Viking Russia. Once I could “see” the setting, the story began to fall into place, and the Russian segment of the story is now largely worked out. That is not to say it has been completed—I’m still in the process of going from notes and outlines to fully fleshed out, finalized pages—but I do believe I can complete and publish book 5 before the end of this year, barring unforeseen problems.
Progress on book 5 has been, in fact, delayed in recent months by unforeseen problems, in that both my wife and I had to deal with some health issues that ate up a lot of our time. And living on a farm as we now do, there is always work to be done that cannot be ignored, and must take priority when time is limited. But those health issues seem to be behind us now, thankfully, and hopefully will not delay my writing any more.
I do apologize for how long this next installment has been taking, and appreciate my readers’ patience and understanding.
I have just read all of your books Mr. Roberts, with great interest and enjoyment, but feel a little cheated in as much as I had no idea the four books were not the complete “set” and two more were still to come. To me you seem to have sadly lost interest in completing the saga, and instead prefer to make excuses for not having completed book 5! If this is not true then I apologise for what may seem to you to being rude, but I am 81 years old and don’t have time to wait on for several years to find the end of the saga. I purchased those first four books in good faith and am sad that I have felt compelled to write this, but please come clean and let us know if you expect to ever complete what you have started?
It is a common habit among some writers of fantasy or historical novels not to finish the cycles started for various (alleged) reasons. Such are Martin George R.R., Rothfuss Patrick, and others. Some, even if they die, have successors who end the cycle like Jordan Robert. I hope we get to the end of the novels of Judson Robert, Martin George and Rothfuss Patrick without the need for further successors.
Well, the good news (at least as far as I’m concerned) is that currently–knock on wood–I’m not feeling anywhere near death.
Hello Judson, any news on the release of book 5? I’m constantly checking this periodically throughout the last few months. Would love to know an estimated date
I know writing is not like a factory job where you punch a time clock and get the job done but I do want to see Toke get what he deserves.
I love the series and kudos for a great job and a fine series.
Hello Mr. Roberts! I check in on here every month or so waiting to hear about the next book. I grew up on farms so I definitely understand the struggle, and now I’m trying to write a book of my own, so I get that too. It’s been a while since the last update, and like everyone else, I hate to be pushy, but hey! Must be nice to know you have some fans. I started reading your books well over a decade ago now, and I’m so excited for the next installment (s?) (I’m assuming there is still one more after book 5 as you’ve previously said). I hope all is well, and I know I speak for everyone when I say even a sentence or two from you would do our hearts good, just to know that a conclusion to one of our favorite protagonists is on its way.
Thanks for your time, not only in reading this but for all the writing you’ve put in so far. Best of luck
I don’t mean to sound pushy in any way but we are now a third of the way through month 4 in 2019 and you said book 5 should be out by the end of 2018. I am not mad that it isn’t out just confused as to why we haven’t had an update as to why it isn’t or when your new expected date is. I understand life happens and can put you behind but I have been reading this story for a decade now and would really like to know what happens to Halfdan. It is like experiencing a fantasy for me but it can’t end. Thank you for your time creating this for me. I look forward to a reply and an update soon.
Any update on the new book?
No need to apologise Mr. Roberts…….
When you’re ready , I’m ready ……
Cheers to you and yours..
I recently lost my wife of 51 years and I find I can lose myself in your books. This will be the third time to read them. Thank you for the way you have written this tale, my only hope is that I get to read the finish to this story. My best to you and your wife, care for each other, no one knows how much time you will have together.
Bob, I’m so very, very sorry about your loss of your wife. I’m glad the books provide you some escape. You are so right that we cannot know how long we have. My several health issues last year really brought that home to Jeanette and me.
The summer is never a good time for writing because it is so busy, but at least it’s nearing its end. I’ll be working on book 5 again soon, will think of you as I write, and still plan to finish it this year.