I’m happy to announce that I’ve just turned in the final version of Contrarian, the third book in “The Grand Illusion,” my newest series.

For those who haven’t been following closely, the first book in the series is Isolate, which will be released this coming October 19th.

The second book, Councilor, is scheduled for release in August of 2022.

While marketing pitches call the series “Gaslamp” fantasy, I’d describe it as high-tech coal-power, because in the world of Guldor — the Empire of Gold — electricity is not technically possible, and thus illumination is by gas lamps, kerosene lanterns, or candles, but industry is coal-powered. The first three books focus on politics at the heart of Guldor, which is a constitutional Imperium, where power largely, but not exclusively, rests in the Council of Sixty-Six at a time of social, economic, and technological change. And… oh, yes, there are empaths who can read and project emotions, and isolates, who cannot be emotionally read or influenced by empaths.

48 thoughts on “”

  1. Grey says:

    That must be a great feeling to have an entire trilogy in the can before the first book is even on the shelves.

    Was this pace intended or did it just happen organically? If the former, what was your workflow like – did you write all 3 books at once and then fine tune as the separate books flowed through editing? Would you do it again?

    1. Part of it was just organic, and as a result of the change in the publishing industry. I’ve historically written at least two books a year for the past thirty years. When I became a full-time writer thirty years ago, the time between when I turned in a book and when it was published (at least for me at Tor) was 9-14 months. Today, as a result of the chains and Amazon demanding to know the publication dates of major releases at least a year in advance and the fact that it takes several months to assemble the pre-publication package and then integrate it with the schedule of all books being published in a “season,” there’s a lag of from 18 to 24 months for most authors, although I tend to be on the shorter end of that lag. When I’m writing a series, if it’s like the first three books of “The Grand Illusion,” I have a general idea of where the plot will go, but I write them one at a time simply because the details of the first book can change subsequent books considerably. In that sense, it’s like forecasting life. What we think should happen often doesn’t work out that way.

      1. Sid Dembowski says:

        I enjoy your books I read them over and over to fill the space between publications. I am ready for your new series. Good luck

      2. I note that the first book has now been delayed until November 16th according to Amazon.

  2. Grey says:

    Interesting, thank you for the response. Joe Abercrombie wrote his recent “age of madness” trilogy first draft in one go, and then brought each book to publication in sequence. He had hopes of a much faster completion cycle for the three books but it sounds like the tasks expanded to fill the time as it created new problems, like as you observed, having to rework things that no longer made sense after the preceding books were complete. It still ultimately took about five years from start to finish.[1]

    1. https://joeabercrombie.com/progress-report-february-21/

  3. Jan Vermeulen says:

    Can we expect a new Recluce book in the near future?

    1. Since I’ve been working on the first three books of “The Grand Illusion,” I haven’t had time for anything else. Contrarian will likely be published in mid to late 2023. While I’ve just started work on another Recluce book, even if I finish it by the end of this year, it would be unlikely to see print before late in 2023, at least given Tor’s current publishing schedule.

      1. Matt says:

        Did this comment sneak by us fans? “Started work on another Recluce book…”.

  4. Julia Riding says:

    Looking forward to the new series! And the icing on the cake? A new Recluce!! Thank you for all your wrting – any thoughts on a follow-up to the “Ghosts”? Yes, I know, greedy, greedy, greedy!

  5. William Cramblet says:

    Will you be writing anything more from Quantum Shadows story line? I enjoyed it and the possibilities for the story to expand seems great!!

    1. At this point, I’m committed to other novels for the next year or so. After that, we’ll see.

      1. Jim N. says:

        I’m curious — do you sign a contract before you begin a book, or do you begin the book and worry about the contract later?

        1. I always finish the first draft before I ask for a contract. My editor does know what I’m writing, and I keep her current on my progress and expected timetable.

          1. R. Hamilton says:

            I wonder if that doesn’t partly account for your being as you said on the low end of the lag between submission and publication – they know you won’t hold things up. Or do you have some other idea of why that fortunate circumstance might be happening for you?

            Thoroughly enjoyed Isolate BTW, not that I wouldn’t welcome more Recluce (always) or Imager novels or stories…or even another Ecolitan book – or a standalone.

          2. All through my career, I’ve been dependable in delivering books very close [usually early] to when I’ve promised them. Also, I submit what editors call a “clean” manuscript. Rarely are major edits required, and in the few cases where they have been, I’m very quick at turning around those edits.

  6. Luke Steele says:

    I look forward to Isolate since many of your series are among my favorites. I was pleased when I discovered that you wrote both the Time diver series and Recluse and devoured your imager, corean, and am now finally about to finish spell song cycle series. Only Quantum of Shadows which I have tried to invest myself in twice has left me in the cold so to speak. Great to hear you are doing another Recluse book, but I would also like to see more imagers novels as tech moves forward.

  7. Brian Rowe says:

    Greatly enjoyed “Isolate” Very different to anything else you have done – looking forwaed to the rest of the Trilogy

  8. Luke Steele says:

    Just finished Isolate and it feels a little like an extension of the Imager series at least politically. I wish the other 2 were available because I want to know the significance of the people sparkles for an Isolate.
    Good read 3.5 stars out of 5. Very intricate and well paced. I will likely revisit it when the near when the new book is released.

  9. It does seem to be a long time between books these days. Is there anything we can do to speed things up like write to the publisher or to Amazon?

    1. Part of the problem is that I’m not able to write quite as fast as when I was younger, and part of the problem is that the large book outlets want to know what will be published more than a year in advance.

      Right now, neither is a problem easily solved.

  10. Morpheus1999 says:

    I just received Isolate and flipped it open – wow! That is some very densely-packed text – in a not-thin hardcover. It your word count up on your recent novels, or is that just an artifact of introducing your readers to an entirely new universe?

    1. Isolate is one of the longest books I’ve written. The original draft was roughly 30,000 words longer, but my editor and I couldn’t cut any more without removing material necessary for both the plot and reader comprehension.

  11. Tom Carter says:

    Mr. Modesitt,
    I just wanted to say thank you for creating the Recluce and Inager series. I have enjoyed both series. I like the way you develop your character. Your characters are believable people with life problems that plague many of us in one form or another. I find your books entertaining, with nuggets of wisdom, and a pleasant way to spend my evenings. I am just finishing “Endgames” and will be looking at another of your series. Keep up the good writing.

  12. Cameron Goodfellow says:

    Finished Isolate this morning at a very early 4:14 AM. After reading and re-reading the last few chapters to ensure I hadn’t missed anything I now find myself wandering around my place thinking that was a great book and am eagerly awaiting the second installment.

  13. Jeff Wood says:

    Love Isolate, am sad that I mistakenly thought Councilor was already out, now I have to wait…now to find some store with Quince paste. 😉

    The settings of Isolate, that strange yet familiar feeling in it, I loved it.

    I got a lot of that from Quantum Shadows, I think I learned more about different forms of religion reading (and re-reading) that book than from anything else.

    Your science fiction tends to make me think. Some are a harder read for me, because I’ll be blowing along then something 3 pages back hooks me and I’m “wait, what??” however I enjoy them.

    Thank you, sir.

  14. Phil L says:

    I’ve been following your work for most my life, and am a big fan of everything you have written. I was curious if you have any update on the Recluce book you mentioned that you started in July, and if there is anything about it it can reveal…like a returning main characters, or completely new. Thanks for everything you do! – Phil from CT

    1. I should have something to reveal in the next few weeks.

  15. Liz says:

    I use quince paste! Really enjoyed Isolate. Hope it turns out as interesting as Kharl’s story did.

  16. Bob Pulleyblank says:

    I have just finished reading “Isolate”. It is without doubt, the best read I have had for many years. A splendid mix(shaken not stirred) of romance,politics,intrigue,action and fantasy set in a well-crafted and believable world. A sophisticated book for adults. Well Done LE!
    I have just pre-ordered Councillor – cant wait!

    1. Thomas Belford says:

      Can you tell us if the new Recluce book you’re presently writing is a sequel to Fairhaven Rising. I’m very interested to see how Fairhaven turned from a mostly Black enclave to a White dominated city power.

  17. Peter Friedman says:

    I just read all of ‘Isolate’ yesterday. As usual, a great read. I can’t wait for the arrival of ‘Councilor.’
    Any chance on you writing a new book in the ‘Ghost’ series? It seems like there are more areas of that world to open and explore.

    1. While the “Ghost” books are a favorite of mine and have been well-received by readers such as you, they represent the only series I’ve written that never earned out, at least for me [and the advance was modest], and, even if I were to write another book in the series, I have doubts that my publisher would be particularly enthused about buying or publishing such a book.

      1. Bruce Trick says:

        The Ghost books are one of the few that I have in both hardcover AND ebook format – and paid for both since I liked the story that much. I am impressed with “Isolate” and have read it twice already. Looking forward the “Councilor” in the summer.

        1. Geoff Doherty - no green thumbs to see here, move along. :) says:

          The Ghost series is the ONLY Modesitt book I have read or own – apart form Isolate, and it’s followons when they arrive.

          That must say something! Of course, I vote for another Ghost book. 🙂

  18. Tony Leukering says:

    Please pass on to those responsible, as I found the Isolate cover to be wonderful, perhaps the best Modesitt cover in many years. I liked the design and I particularly liked the artwork, which gave me a steampunk-ish feel, entirely appropriate to your thoughts on the microgenre, if you will.

    I also loved the story, and eagerly await August, as I’ve already ordered Councilor.

  19. John Beumer says:

    I would like to second Mr Leukerings comment. The Isolate cover was really well designed and I love the Art Deco/Moderne typeface. The only issue I have is that the character that I assume to be Steffan looks as if he is contemplating a hurried trip to the bathroom as soon as he can get off duty.

  20. Jason schultz says:

    Longtime reader of yours and I loved Isolate. Felt a sense of being detoxed when I was done reading it as your worlds and characters are my drug of choice.

    I look forward to the 2nd book.

    Thank you for such great stories!

  21. David Huckabee says:

    I just finished Isolate. As a fan of involved political silence fiction and novels such as Cherry’s Foreigner series and Modesitt’s Ghost novels, I appreciated little details such as the three room layout of the counselor’s offices reflecting Modesitt’s Congressional staffer background. The description of Dekkard’s steamer driving, made me want to go to my driveway and fire up the Stanley with it’s Thermoplastic paint (as recommended by Doktor Johan Eschbach) and drive to the bookstore to buy the next volume of the Grand Illusion series. I also wish Modesitt would fire up his old Babbage engine now that he as finished his first three Illusion books and expand the Ghost alternate Earth series.

  22. art says:

    Just completed Councillor.Excellent and will be patiently waiting for Contrarian whilst trying to guess the probable story line.

  23. Raeann says:

    I’m 3/4 of the way through Councilor, and already chomping at the bit for the next one!! Thank you for being one of my “go-to” authors!!

  24. Steve says:

    I bought and enjoyed reading Isolate. How many books will be in The Grand Illusion?

  25. Cariline says:

    Have read both recent books and so did my daughter. Both of us are waiting impatiently for book 3. I want to tell you how much I adore all your books. I am now 80 and have been reading sci fi since I was in 4th grade. So quite a few years and your books are top of my reading list of authors.thank you for the hours of pleasures I have had from reading your many diverse books.

  26. Morpheus1999 says:

    Just finished Councilor. I appreciated hints of current world politics here and there without it being dominated by it. I am reminded of elements of the political intrigue from Green Progression. This was a fascinating tour of relationships intimately tied up in legislative branch. I find interesting that some politicians stand out by their vision and energy to achieve, and others steer passively with their votes. Just watched a fascinating piece on Frontline from March about Nancy Pelosi’s Power. Looking forward to Contrarian. I appreciate your hard work putting together solid stories that teach the reader.

  27. Derek Stannard says:

    Just finished contrarian. Really good read. Wondering of there will be more after the new recluce books

    1. Since I just turned in the fourth book of four Recluce books, and I’m thinking about what I might write next, but it’s a bit early to say anything. There’s certainly a possibility of another Grand Illusion book.

  28. Glen Andrew Risk says:

    Just completed the three books and found the subtler “magical” elements of the fantasy quite intriguing. It seemed quite plausible that such abilities could evolve though I do so love the more fantastic possibilities expressed elsewhere.

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