The Quicksilver trilogy, comprising Quicksilver Rising, Quicksilver Zenith and Quicksilver Twilight, was published in the UK in hardback, trade paperback, mass-market pb and e-book editions by HarperCollins/Voyager between 2003 and 2006.
Volume One: Quicksilver Rising
From the publisher’s blurb: “Reeth Caldason is the last remaining member of a tribe of warriors who were brutally massacred decades ago. Cursed with episodes of blind rage that endanger anyone near him, he is forced to wander the world seeking revenge for his people and a cure for his magical affliction.
“But the spell that binds Reeth is an esoteric one, and his search has so far been fruitless. Only when a young sorcerer’s apprentice named Kutch tells him of the mysterious Covenant does he regain a glimmer of hope. Forming an uneasy alliance, the two head for the capital city in search of this secretive magical society, unaware that they are about to be drawn into a dangerous world of conspiracy and sedition.”
Volume Two: Quicksilver Zenith
From the publisher’s blurb: “Reeth Caldason, the last of his warrior tribe, is cursed with immortality. Unexpectedly, he finds himself entangled with a Resistance movement intent on founding a utopia free from tyranny.
“Before the rebels can occupy the island location they have chosen, a large quantity of gold must be delivered to its legal owner. Caldason is the natural choice to head this sensitive mission - but he soon discovers that a powerful new enemy covets both the gold and the island, threatening to destroy the whole fragile venture before it’s even underway.”
Volume Three: Quicksilver Twilight
From the publisher’s blurb: “Desperate to find a cure for the curse of immortality and the debilitating visions that torment him, Reeth Caldason has traded his fighting skills for the promise of access to powerful ancient magic. But the Resistance group he reluctantly joined as part of the bargain is in disarray since their plans to found an island utopia free from tyranny were betrayed by one of their own.
“Now, Reeth is trapped on the Diamond Isle, fending off the pirates that plague the surrounding waters. Despite his romantic entanglement with one of the freedom fighters, Serrah, and the responsibility he feels towards Kutch, a young magician’s apprentice, he is determined to set off on the search for his cure. But as his visions grow stronger, Serrah and Kutch begin to understand his true nature and the great power it represents.
“Back on the mainland, Reeth’s arch enemy, Devlor Bastorran, remains intent on destroying him. Overshadowing everything is the threat of Zerreiss, the conquering barbarian warlord who uses an enigmatic ability to sweep all before him.
“The spectre of war looms.”
The covers, by British artist Dominic Harman, complemented the spirit of the trilogy perfectly. Here are some examples of the stages the cover for Quicksilver Rising went through during its development:
A rough preliminary sketch:
Development stages for the dragon motif:
Early ideas for the background:
The background that was chosen, and dragon detail:
Finished cover, alongside an unused variant background colour:
The cover of the ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of Quicksilver Rising, produced for the trade and reviewers:
The covers of the mass-market paperback editions of Quicksilver Zenith and Quicksilver Twilight differed slightly from the trade pb covers, mostly in terms of typography:
The covers without over-print:
All images (c) Dominic Harman.
In the United States the Quicksilver trilogy became the Dreamtime trilogy, and the individual volume titles were also changed. This was because my American publisher, Eos, the sf/fantasy imprint of HarperCollins US, published Neal Stephenson’s speculative novel Quicksilver at the same time as the first of my trilogy. It was felt this might cause confusion, and I was asked to come up with alternate titles. So Quicksilver Rising became The Covenant Rising, Quicksilver Zenith became The Righteous Blade, and Quicksilver Twilight became The Diamond Isle.
The trilogy appeared in trade paperback, mass-market paperback, Kindle and hardcover book club editions.
I was very fortunate in that Jon Sullivan, another leading British artist, produced cover art every bit as spectacular as the UK jackets by Dominic Harman.
The ARCs (also known as proofs) for The Covenant Rising and The Diamond Isle:
The covers without over-print:
The American mass-market paperback editions had different covers for books one and two, with some typographical alterations for book three. The art for books one and three was by Jon Sullivan; book two’s cover was by Matt Stawicki:
Book one as a wraparound:
An earlier version of the artwork, with some differences:
The artwork for two early alternate covers for book two, again by Matt Stawicki:
As you can see, the finished cover incorporated elements of both.
The American Science Fiction Book Club published the Dreamtime trilogy in hardback editions in February 2005, January 2006 and January 2007. To
tie-in with the first volume, I was asked to write a short piece for SFBC’s member magazine. Here it is:
We know that whether set in far-flung galaxies or distant futurity, most science fiction is really about the here and now - it takes an exceptional author to truly escape our times and cultural boundaries. And the genre works well as a vehicle for commentary on present-day society. But sf isn’t alone. Increasingly, fantasy’s gaining the confidence to interpret and remark upon current affairs; to reflect on events critically or satirically. Not necessarily overtly - this isn’t polemics, and fantasy writers want principally to entertain and beguile. Only now they have the option of layering in a little more social relevance, for those who want to look for it. It’s what I try to do.
I wrote another brief piece for the magazine when the final volume appeared:
For a writer, coming to the end of a book can be tinged with sadness. It’s even more of a wrench when the finale of a trilogy’s reached. You’re saying goodbye to characters you’ve lived with for a long time, probably years, and some of them you really like. A few you love. Employing the god-like powers of authorship, you seal their ultimate fate. Who gets to live, and who’s going to die? Can she find happiness? Is he to be condemned to misery? Will their great enterprise stand or fall? There’s a certain melancholy in biding farewell to people born in your head. All you can do is wrap them against the cold and give them a decent send off. I hope I’ve done that in The Diamond Isle.
Published in trade paperback, mass-market paperback and e-book editions.
Another great set of covers, I think. Shown here without over-print:
An omnibus edition and special tenth anniversary omnibus:
Promotional bookmarks. Frustratingly, I’m missing the third one:
REVIEW QUOTES AND ENDORSEMENTS FOR THE QUICKSILVER TRILOGY
"Quicksilver Rising is brilliantly conceived and beautifully constructed. From the first gripping action scene it had me hooked. Nicholls' Orcs series was exciting and action packed, but Quicksilver Rising has all the ingredients to become a classic of the genre."
“Stan Nicholls puts modern dialogue into the mouths of high fantasy characters and echoes of our politics into the kingdoms he creates. Easily as much fun as you’d expect.”
Jon Courtenay Grimwood, The Guardian
“This is epic fantasy crammed with all the ingredients that aficionados demand, delivered with tremendous panache. Exhilarating, innovative fantasy writing.”
“Traditional fantasy fare as it should be - exciting, intriguing and fun. … Nicholls knows how to skilfully infuse abundant plot into easy prose and exceptionally smooth dialogue.” Number of stars:* * * *
“Nicholls knows his stuff ... deft characterisation ... full of action, magic, romance and politics.”
“A hugely entertaining read.”
“Fast-paced, high adventure ... a bare-knuckle fight with a magic punch.”
“A beautiful blend of sensuous words that effortlessly carry his suspenseful fantasy.”
“A cracking blend of high fantasy adventure and thought-provoking political thriller - a real feast for intelligent imaginations.”
“Stan Nicholls writes sparkling, action-packed fantasy with a dangerous edge.”
You can read chapter one of Quicksilver Rising here.
This summary/gallery compiled August 2020.
© Stan Nicholls
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