When I wrote The Magic of Recluce, I didn’t intend to write a series. In fact, I hadn’t thought about it one way or another. I wrote the book because I wanted to prove a point: that a good fantasy could be realistic without losing the fantasy element. The book was so experimental that I never even told David Hartwell, who had been my editor from the beginning, that I was writing it. So receiving the manuscript was a surprise to him as well. The fact that, after reading it, he wanted to publish it… and, especially, that he wanted another book, was a shock to me.
My initial intent had been simply to do several things that most fantasy writers at the time (1989) weren’t doing: (1) to come up with a logical magic system that wasn’t a rehash of folk magic or what had been done before; (2) to make that magic an integral part of a workable socio-economic system; (3) to portray a different government/society that wasn’t a historical or present-day copy of a system in our world; and (4) to portray a world with a real and diverse history that hopefully was more than a canvas backdrop or the equivalent of a cinematic matte scenery.