I can only imagine the pressure on Donaldson from Del Rey to publish more work after the success of the First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. While Lester del Rey pushed Donaldson to write a second chronicles, there was another book that slipped in before that second series came out.
Gilden Fire is a novella from a part of the Illearth War that didn’t make it into the book. In the intro, Donaldson talks about the 900 page draft he delivered to Lester del Rey that was “manifestly too large to publish” He had to make cuts. Gilden Fire and the events of that book were revealed in retelling from a Bloodguard in the IllEarth War.
Steve Pressfield was confronted with the same challenge. Gates of Fire was also over 900 pages and he too had to cut it down. It’s really too bad that both those things had to happen. Because in today’s content hungry world people can and will devour those additional stories. The books could be divided up into duologies and packaged together.
When I was submitting to agents, I got one reply that said, “It has to be under 90,000 words. I won’t get and editor to look at it if it’s more than that.” Ruinwaster’s Bane clocks in at 130,000 words. How was I going to cut 40,000 words? I thought about cutting the book in half. But a 70K and 60K pair of books were too short. Jennifer stepped in and said, “You had a vision for this book. Why would you cut down for some random word-count?” The answer was, I couldn’t.
Today you see gigantic books from Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Ryan Cahill, and others. If you write a good story people will read as much of if as you can give them.