From the very first box set, it was clear that the history of Athas before the reign of the Sorcerer Monarchs was unknown. The Prism Pentad series of novels revealed some of this history in broad strokes, giving us a tale of genocidal race wars and of halflings being the original race of Athas (later barring thri-kreen).
The Revised Boxed Set embraced this history in earnest, although you could argue that the designers misunderstood some of the content of the Prism Pentad.
The problem with this is that a lot of effort must be expended to detail this history, history of which most of the player characters will learn nothing. Something has taken place in the past which is over shadowing the present and the player characters cannot really interact with it.
Secrets of the Dead Lands suffers from this issue. There is an enormous amount of information presented that the DM will read and no one else. It’s easy to get bogged down in the history and devote and inordinate amount of energy to it.
What is the solution? I don’t have one. I enjoyed the Prism Pentad novels. I am one of the few people that enjoyed the novels and think that they shouldn’t have become cannon. Most people either hate PP or like PP, and their position on whether it should be canon depends on whether they liked or hated PP.
With things slowly moving forward here at Athas dot org - meaning the unconditional release of all materials under production from a decade ago - and the prospect, and this might be wishful thinking - of fresh blood being brought into the templarate, I renew my call for the production and publication of Mysteries of Athas.
One thing is certain - everyone has their own twist on the history and other aspects of Athas. The first boxed set embraced this implicitly. Let’s detail all the possible histories of Athas. These can be presented as rumor, apocrypha, or interpretation.
“Rajaat the First Sorcerer? Balderdash. Let me tell you the story of Rajaat, the First Elderbrain” - Aleris Hordin, elven storyteller.