Introduction

These two novels, Daughter of Exile and The Divided Crown, have the weirdest publishing history of anything I've ever written.

When I wrote them, I wanted to get back to my love of traditional fantasy, to create a secondary world, to play with invented customs and religions and history and magic. I wanted to write a story where magic is something wild, numinous, unchecked by rules. (In my magical school, for example, the Masters at the College of Magicians don't know everything.) I wanted novels that were adventurous, and fun.

I was, well, disconcerted when I found out that the publisher was planning to market them as Romantic Fantasy -- disconcerted not because I dislike the category, but because my books didn't fit it at all. There are romances in the books, of course, but they are by no means the main focus.

I tried to argue with them; for one thing, I didn't like the idea of misleading the readers. More practically, though, it didn't even seem like a very good idea -- after all, you can market vanilla as chocolate, and you might even sell a bit more at first, but with everyone communicating so quickly on the Internet these days you can't possibly think to get away with it. But my publisher told me that Romantic Fantasy was selling at the time, and they wanted to take advantage of that market.

So what happened, of course, was that people who like romance were disappointed by the books, and people who don't (pretty much all men, for example) never even picked them up. I felt particularly sorry for the readers of The Divided Crown, who had to read about three-fourths of the novel to get to any hint of romance at all.

Despite this, some people did get what the books were about. Patricia McKillip called Daughter of Exile "an intriguing and fast-paced journey," and Locus said that The Divided Crown "is filled with action, magic, intrigue ... the plot is complex and multi-threaded, and Goldstein does a fine job keeping everything balanced and interesting ... convincing, human, and even wrenching ..."

The other problem was that the publisher asked me to use a pseudonym, since they thought these books were very different from what I usually write. I have to admit that I liked this part, that it appealed to the part of me that enjoys masques and disguises. I spent probably far too long thinking up a name for this "new" writer, finally ending up with "Isabel" for the dog park I went to, Point Isabel, and "Glass" because the publisher wanted a short name in the first half of the alphabet. But what I realized later was that because I wasn't allowed to say who I really was, I couldn't explain that the books had ended up in the wrong category. I couldn't do any publicity at all, really, in blogs or at conventions or in interviews, and with publishers having cut their advertising budgets to the bone this certainly didn't help the books' chances.

So I'm very glad to be able to publish these novels as ebooks, and to set the record straight. And I'm excited to think they might finally reach their true audience. I had to proofread them before I published them, and as I went through them I remembered how much fun I had making up this world and then playing around in it. I hope you enjoy them too.