This has taken me slightly by surprise—I was expecting an official announcement later in the month—but as they're available for pre-order on Amazon.com right now I think I can safely say this:
Tor are releasing the remastered, halfway-rewritten, omnibus editions of the Merchant Princes series in the US as DRM-free ebooks next Wednesday, the 7th of January:
The Bloodline Feud
Paper editions will follow in September 2014 to January 2015: dates subject to confirmation. I'll provide other, non-Amazonian ebook store links as and when I get them. More information below the fold ...
Here's a brief FAQ:
Q: How do these differ from the original Merchant Princes series?
A: I originally planned the Merchant Princes as a series of big fat paratime travel thrillers. But no series plan survives contact with publishing industry, which is why they were marketed as skinny fantasy books—and chopped to fit. I thoroughly revised and rewrote large chunks of the as-published books in 2012 for the UK release, fixing errata, polishing the prose (I think I've learned a bit since 2001), and reassembled them into more or less the original intended format: Word insists I made over 12,000 changes, and the revised edition is actually about 80 pages shorter than the first version. (Trust me, you won't miss what I cut.)
Q: Why the new titles?
A: Bookstores (and Amazon) will get horribly confused if we issue a new book under the old title. So the 600 page hunk o'words I wrote as "The Family Trade", and which was published as two 300 page hunks of dead tree under the titles "The Family Trade" and "The Hidden Family", is now "The Bloodline Feud".
(Similarly, "The Clan Corporate" and "The Merchants War" became "The Traders' War", and "The Revolution Business" and "The Trade of Queens" became "The Revolution Trade".)
Q: Are these DRM-free ebooks? And how much do they cost?
A: They are supposed to be DRM-free. If you buy them and find that they're not, then it's a screw-up and Tor will fix it. As for price: Amazon say $9.99 for the first, and $8.99 each for the second two. (Note that each volume was originally two books.)
Q: Yes, but are they better?
A: I think so, otherwise I wouldn't have spent a good chunk of 2012 overhauling an entire series. For example: a common criticism of the first series was that book 3, "The Clan Corporate", was really slow to get moving compared to the first two books. Well, that book was originally going to be the start of a 700-page doorstep, so a 150-page warm-up didn't seem excessive: but then it got turned into a 300 page stand-alone. Now it's back to being part of a 700-page narrative it's a lot less unbalanced. Again: "The Family Trade" just sort of stopped. That's because I was given about a week's notice to chop the original 600 page doorstep in two. Now it's surgically restored ...
Q: Are there going to be more in the series?
I'm working on a new Merchant Princes trilogy. (You'll be unsurprised to learn that when we were kicking ideas around, this project went under the working title, "Merchant Princes: The Next Generation".) Plan is to hand in "Dark State" and "Black Sky" to my editor next month, and finish "Invisible Sun" by September, for publication starting in 2015.
Q: But what's it about?
A: Here's the draft blurb for book one, "Dark State":
The year is 2020. Seventeen years have passed since the 2003 destruction of the White House by extradimensional narcoterrorists and the Department of Homeland Security gained responsibility for protecting the United States from threats from all possible parallel time-lines. Rita Douglas, 26, is an aspiring—more accurately, struggling— actress who comes to the attention of the DHS, despite her best efforts to avoid the attention of the total surveillance state. She's a blood relative of the Clan, the world-walkers who nuked the White House: the government's labs have worked out how to activate the world-walking ability in people like her, and they want her for a spy. But Rita has secrets of her own, and the scrutiny of the paratime secret police is the last thing she wants ...
Meanwhile, it's 2020 in another time-line. Seventeen years ago the Revolution overthrew the last king of the New British Empire. The newly-constituted North American Commonwealth is modernizing rapidly, and is on course to defeat the French Imperium, set the East ablaze, and bring Democracy to a troubled world. But Miriam Burgeson, commissioner in charge of the shadowy Ministry of Intertemporal Technological Intelligence—the paratime espionage agency tasked with catalysing the Commonwealth's great leap forward—has a problem. For years, she's been warning everyone: "The USA is coming". And now their drones are arriving overhead (and being shot down) at the worst possible time. For there's a succession crisis in progress: the Commonwealth's head of state Adam Burroughs is dying of cancer, and the vultures are circling ...
Two nuclear-armed paratime superpowers are set on a collision course. Two increasingly desperate paratime espionage agencies are blundering around in the dark, trying to find a solution to the first contact problem that doesn't inexorably lead to a nuclear holocaust. And two women—a mother and her long-lost, adopted-out daughter, are about to find themselves on opposite sides of the confrontation.
(I've always wanted to write a cold war thriller: this is it!)
Any other questions? Feel free to ask in the comments.