Tag Archives: Wheel of Time

In Conversation With Tom Doherty

Entering the Tor/Forge office is more exciting than being a kid in a candy shop. Bookshelves line the walls, carrying the titles of Robert Jordan, David Drake, Orson Scott Card, Steven Erikson, Ian C. Esslemont, and dozens upon dozens of other familiar names and titles. The Tor office is a place where fantastical imaginations are brought to fruition.

I still find myself slightly shell-shocked by the entire experience. Never had I anticipated that this blog would lead me to interviewing Tom Doherty. Nevertheless, it has, and the questions and answers are all in the transcribed text below. If you’re interested though, there’s more to be found in the audio.

Enjoy!

[For convenience, R = Rebecca (me), and TD = Tom Doherty]

R: Hello, I’m here with Tom Doherty, publisher, president, and founder of Tor Books. Tom, I think it’s safe to say that most readers know who you are, or have at least heard of you. So, could you tell us something about yourself that we might not know?

TD: Well, you might not know that I started out looking for a job in publishing when I got out of the army. My dad was the vice-president of a floor covering company. I was looking for a job in editorial, and couldn’t find one, because I had majored in chemical engineering in college. In the army, I had read a lot and decided, ‘it might be fun to be in publishing’. That’s what I really loved.

My dad’s company put in a floor for a guy who was the vice-president of sales for Pocket Books. So, when I wasn’t having much success in finding a job in publishing, it happened that this guy came in to complain about his floor. My father wouldn’t normally have gone out to adjust a single floor, but he did. He adjusted it, and told Mory Solomon that he had a son that looking for a job in publishing. Mory said, “Send him around to Pocket Books.”

When I got there, Mory said, “We’re not hiring, but we just signed a deal with Select Magazines to distribute our books to magazine wholesalers around North America. They’re hiring, and I’ll send you over there with a recommendation.” So, I went over to Select Magazines, and they hired me to be a salesman out of Boston north. Just had a little piece of Massachusetts along the coast. Lynn, Salem, Gloucester, Newburyport… all had wholesalers in those days.

I worked for them for about 8-9 months. They took me out to a really nice dinner and laid me off. They had just lost a major client. They said, “Kid, we’re really sorry. You were doing a good job, but we just lost this major client and we can’t have two men in Boston anymore. We can only have one, and Bill Burks has been with us for 22 years, and you’ve been with us for 9 months.” So, I was out of a job in publishing, and I liked books better than magazines. I called up Mory Solomon, and I said, “Mory, did you like anything I did for you, representing you through Select Magazines?”, and he said “Yeah kid, but we don’t have anything comparable. But, if you’ll agree to be assistant local salesman — it’s kind of like stock boy, you fill the shelves at the airport. If you want to move yourself to Philadelphia, there’s a job there.”

Well, nobody else was offering me a job, and my wife had literally the week before, told me that she was pregnant with what would turn out to be my eldest child, my daughter Linda. So, I got a U-Haul trailer and moved to Philadelphia.

That’s how I started book publishing.

R: You’ve come a long way since then.

TD: Well, I did all the sales jobs at Simon & Schuster through their national sales manager, and I got a chance to learn a lot about science fiction and fantasy as national sales manager at S&S. Ballantine was still an independent line, and we distributed them. So, I was sales manager for Ian and Betty when they launched the first fantasy line that had ever been launched in this country.

I was their sales manager for Tolkien, which was the first huge fantasy bestseller.

They were such generous people with their time. They mentored me, and they taught me things that you wouldn’t normally learn in sales. So, when I had a chance to become a publisher, I had a background that included knowledge that you wouldn’t normally have gotten with the background that I theoretically had.

R: Yep, which is good. And it lead to a lot of this <I gestured to the plethora of books surrounding us>. You were the publisher for Ace Books, and now Tor.

TD: Sure, well actually, first I was publisher for Grosset & Dunlap, and we had a YA line called Tempo. I hired a really brilliant young woman, Harriet McDougal, to be my editor-in-chief at Tempo. We began publishing science fiction and fantasy in this young adult line. We did well enough, so that when Ace came under hard times, Grosset bought it for us to play with. So, she got to be editorial direction, and I got to be publisher of Grosset Ace for the paperbacks.

R: And then her husband went on the write the Wheel of Time series.

TD: He did. She found him because… well, what happened was that she got divorced, she had a 5-year-old and she inherited the home she grew up in, in Charleston, SC., and she thought that would be a good place to bring Will up. So she moved home to Charleston.

I didn’t want to lose her, so we began telecommuting before the word was even invented. She shopped at a bookstore when she was young, and she went back to shopping in that bookstore. Bookstore owner asked her what brought her back to Charleston, she said: “I’m opening an editorial office, and I’m going to do some of my own things, and I’m going to represent a New York publisher.” The bookstore owner said, “Well, I’ve got this great customer who’s just written a novel. Would you take a look at it?”

It was a book that we published as The Fallon Blood. Which was under the pen-name Reagan O’Neal, because Jim Rigney, who was Robert Jordan for fantasy, was Reagan O’Neal for historicals. So, we did that trilogy. Then he wanted to write a fantasy. He said his dream was to write a big epic fantasy.

R: And he did indeed.

TD: He sure did. He thought it was going to be one book. Of course, he had thought that the story of the American Revolution in the south was going to be one book too… But it turned into a trilogy.

So, we said to him, “Jim, this is never going to be just one book; what you described.” He came back with, “Well, maybe a trilogy.” So, I said, “Well, let’s make it a contract for six books.” He said, “That’s silly!”

It turned out to be fourteen.

R: Fourteen and a prequel… And had he continued on, it might have even ended up being longer.

TD: Well, it would have. He was planning a spin-off. You’ve read The Wheel of Time, right?

R: Yes.

TD: Well, he couldn’t imagine that Mat would just let his wife — you know, her mother was overthrown and assassinated, and his wife should be empress of the Seanchan. Mat couldn’t just let that go… So, Mat was going to go back with Tuon to straighten out things in Seanchan. He had planned that, and actually sold it to us. The trilogy spinoff, but he didn’t do enough work on it… And Harriet didn’t feel good about it going forward.

She was betwixt and between. She knew that he wanted to do it, and that he did sell it to us, but he hadn’t really done the kind of detailed outline like he had done for what turned out to be the last three books — which he had always been telling us was only going to be one. That was typical Jim.

We would love it if Harriett were to turn around and decide that we could do that, because it’s something that a lot of the fans want. They’d like it.

R: Yep, still I see posts about it on an almost daily basis: “So, about those outrigger novels…”

It would be great. Hint, hint.

TD: Yes. But Harriet was always a brilliant editor, and I think she had edited six of his books by the time that they got married.

R: You and she made a great choice with Brandon to continue that series.

TD: Yeah, I thought he was the perfect guy. It was Harriett’s real decision. I didn’t want to do anything that she didn’t love. It worked out perfectly.

R: I agree, and I think most other people do as well.

TD: Good.

R: And, I believe you guys have won the Locus Award every year since 1988 or so–

TD: I forget what the year was, but it’s been 27 years. 27 consecutive years. I have the plaques over there.

R: Yeah, I was noticing those. What does it feel like, knowing that you and your company have had such a great influence on this industry the years.

TD: It feels good, but it feels like… Like I said, the Ballantines really started it all off, the real emphases on fantasy in this country. There’s something maybe you can influence: I really want Betty Ballantine to get a Hugo, for all the things that she did. You know, she’s 95 year’s old. Judy-Lynn del Rey was given a Hugo, and she well deserved it. She did a brilliant job of carrying forward what Betty had started, but  remember, she got a line that had already been established, which had been called Ballantine up until that point.

She got a line that was established, and had things like Tolkien in it, and a lot of other major things. So, I would love to see Betty get some recognition.

R: Or something like the Lifetime Achievement Award.

TD: Exactly. But, I think that for editing, it would be great to give her a Hugo. One of those retroactive Hugos.

R: That would be good.

TD: I think she did get a Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. She started the first science fiction line too.

R: I don’t quite think I’ve got the influence to make that happen.

TD: Hey, you do do things that influence people and I would just love to see her get — while she’s still with us, and able to appreciate it — get more recognition. A lot of people have forgotten her.

R: Which is a crime. We have an entire genre; hundreds upon hundreds of books to thank her for.

TD: Yep, exactly.

R: Another thing. With so many bookstores closing and the push for buying books online, are you guys at all worried about how — I know there’s still a huge market for it, but there’s not the ease of access for discovering new books.

TD: That is a worry. Discovery is the main worry. The internet is wonderful for things that you know about. If you fall in love with an author, you can get backlist that is too extensive for a bookstore to have stocked, and that would have had to been ordered anyway.

So, it’s great for finding deep backlists, and it’s great for accessibility on things that you already know you want… but it’s not good for discovery. There are too many trees in the forest.

R: Agreed, because you can just walk into a bookstore and see that one cover that catches your eye. You don’t get that on Amazon, or these other sites.

TD: And you know the mass-market system has kind of fallen apart. We used to look at surveys which would say: You’ve got bookstore readers from ‘impulse sale’. There were 100,000 retailers that had mass-market paperbacks, the person standing in a drugstore, waiting for a prescription… Buying from a wire-revolving rack; the person walking down the grocery aisle to get coffee, seeing a nice display of books and sampling one.

When they were pleased often enough, they began going to bookstores. Some people didn’t, some people just kept buying them in the impulse locations. But it also fed the bookstores, because they were happy with the entertainment and they wanted more of it. We’re losing that because the structure for that has broken down.

It’s broken down for a number of reasons. Mass-market paperback used to mainly be reprints of hardcover books a year after the hardcover book was published. It’s like anything else. If you buy a computer this year, next year it’ll be cheaper and maybe even better. If you buy women’s fashion this fall, it’ll be on a sale table next spring. People are used to waiting for the cheaper edition. With ebooks, they get instant gratification. Which, of course, in one place cuts into hardcovers, as they can get it cheaper already, but in another place, to the mass-market because they don’t have to wait for the cheap book.

So, we’ve got that problem. At the same time, we had a breakdown in the distribution system; there was a distribution system existing that had, in every town, book-truck drivers who sold only books to the retailers. They learned that you put different books in immigrant ghettos than you did in college situations, and a third kind by the military. They put the right books in the right spots.

What happened is the major chains forced an increase in discount, which caused the wholesalers to not to be able to afford two trucks running the same route: one for magazines, and one for books. So the distribution system was combined, which is a problem because books were pushed into a magazine bundle, and you don’t have book-truck drivers driving down the street with hundreds of titles, and able to put a different assortment at different stores. You have a much more limited assortment going everywhere. That’s not good. You should sell different books at different demographic areas.

We’re not getting them there anymore. So, between the instant gratification at a lower price, and the breakdown of the distribution system — I only get into this because it affects discovery. We lose huge numbers of places where people used to discover books.

R: Which is unfortunate, like Borders closing down a couple of years back, and independent bookstores seeming to close on a nearly daily basis.

TD: Yeah, well, I mean the other chains even worse than Borders for discovery were the Waldens, and Daltons, Crowns, and Lauriets… We lost several thousand mall stores.

I saw a focus study. This is an oversimplification of it, but essentially what it said: Did you miss the Walden that was in the shopping center? The answer was essentially: “Oh yeah, we’d come here to buy a sweater, or a pair of shoes, and we’d see the open and inviting display of books. We almost always had time to walk in. If we walked in, we almost always bought a book. Often we bought several.” When was the last time you bought a book? “Oh.. Yeah. We’ve got to go to a bookstore soon.”

If you don’t put books where people are… they don’t get in the car and drive 11 miles. Some of them will; they’ll drive to the Barnes & Noble now, or the big independent. So many of them won’t. They just won’t get around to making the special trip of any appreciable distance.

R: And it’s a shame, because there were a bunch of bookstores near me that I used to go to, but one by one I’ve been watching them disappear over the last 5-10 years.

TD: And you used to have chains like Waldon and Dalton, you had Classics, and Coles and Smith. All gone. How many impulse locations could have been handy, but are now gone?

R: And with that, we’re seeing the rise of ebooks more and more. Because, I guess, there is the convenience, the cheaper prices, and as you said — the instant gratification. But we’re losing something as well, because if you pick up a book, it’s got the weight to it, and there have been studies that state that you don’t retain as much when you read the ebooks.

TD: Yeah.

R: I think that’s a sad thing for the publishing industries.

TD: People will always will always want a good story.

R: Yes, definitely… and there have definitely been a lot of changes in the publishing industry over the past many years.. Besides for the ebooks, which has been the most surprising to you?

TD: Well, what I was just outlining — the breakdown of the mass-market distribution system, the physical breakdown, and it’s been the most damaging. Not being able to get the right book into the right store.

R: And… sorry, going back to ebooks, how do you think they’re going to affect the publishing industry in the long term? Do you think they’re going to plane out with physical books?

TD: I think it’ll level out, and I think that it’ll slowly gain market share. But you always do have the problem of discovery, and we haven’t worked out online how to best do that. I think, also, many people like a physical book, and I think that it’s a pretty darn efficient package.

R: It is. I will always choose a physical book.

TD: Me too.

R: Even though that means my luggage going home is overweight now…

Do you have any advice for people trying to get into the publishing industry in general, perhaps editorial? Publicity? I know a lot of jobs are also being done by freelancers now as well.

TD: Well, part of the thing about freelancers is there are an awful lot of people who want to work part-time. For example, we have a lot of people who don’t work full-time for us. Some of them were really fine editors who retired, but they would like to do a little bit. They just don’t want to work full-time; they don’t want to commute to an office. They may have one or two authors who want to work with them, and who they still want to work with. Well then, sure. If the author wants to work with them, if they want to work, and if they’re talented editors… Why wouldn’t we use them part-time? And I think, even at the very beginning we did that.

When I was starting the company, I knew a couple of editors who I thought were really fine editors. One of them had been retired, one of whom had been laid off; combination of companies coming together, mergers.. And I asked both of them if they’d like to edit for me. Both of them said yes, and neither one of them wanted to come into the office.

One of them actually became a ski instructor up in Killington; a guy by the name of Pat O’Connor. He had been the editor-and-chief of a couple companies. His number one author at the time was Andrew Greeley, who was a bestseller, and he said that he’d love to edit Andy. And Andy wanted to be edited by Pat.

Harriet McDougall, who I told you about — she didn’t want to come to a NY office. She was willing to work full-time, but she wanted to work in Charleston, SC., and we got Robert Jordan. You know, some of the things that people don’t remember about her, they just think Robert Jordan, but if you look at the acknowledgements in Ender’s Game, you’ll see the praise that Scott gives his editor, Harriet. She was responsible for many really great books in the early days.

R: She also edited the very first book you guys did, by Andre Norton.

TD: Yep, we had done Andre Norton together at Tempo. YA. I feel bad when people just remember her as Robert Jordan’s editor. She was the editor of many of our great early books. Beth Meacham had arthritis and wanted to live in Tucson, so she works out in there. I see no reason why any anyone has to come into the NY office.

R: Especially with the internet, there’s the ease of access.

TD: Well, we did it before the internet. We started telecommuting before they invented the word.

R: Yeah. Going back.. I know one of the ways for getting into publishing now is through internships and things. Do you have any other advice for people who want to get into this?

TD: Well, I think that what you need to do is look at the books in the bookstores. Become quite familiar with what a publisher does. Then, come to the publisher and say, “This is what you do, and this is what I care about. And I know what you do. I care enough to know. I didn’t come in because I wanted any old job. I came to you because I like what you do, and I want to be part of it.” And I think that impresses people. You try to learn about that particular thing that you really do want to be part of. It’s a win-win for both sides.

R: Alright, well, I know you do fantasy…

TD: <chuckles> Yes, yes we do.

R: So you guys, I imagine, get a lot of submissions pretty often. What do you guys look for when you’re trying to find the books that you’re going to publish?

TD: We have a lot of readers, and different editors like different things. If you’re an author, and you would like to be published by a publisher, you ought to look at the books from that publisher that you think are from the same market that your book is for. Then, you ought to look in the acknowledgements, because some of those books are going to acknowledge their editor. Then you ought to submit your book to that editor with a note saying why you think they might be interested. They’re much more likely to look at slush that way, than they are general slush.

If you’ve got an agent, so much the better. But, so many first-time authors can’t get an agent either. So, this is one of the ways to make your book a little more marketable.

R: Okay, thank you. And are there any books that you come across that still manage to surprise you?

TD: Sure. Always.

R: That’s good.

So, what would you say has been your proudest moment, working in the industry? After everything you’ve done through your illustrious career, has there been any one project that was just…

TD: I think it was really building this company. I think it has published a lot of things that people have loved and they continue to love. That I’ve been able to give a lot of dreams life. Things that are worth having been done.

R: As a reader, I definitely agree. You have done an amazing job.

TD: And I was lucky enough to start Tor, and I don’t know if you know, but I spun-off Baen. I’m still a partner with Baen. He wanted to do a different kind of thing, so we created a company for him to do it. He — They, it’s now Toni Weisskopf who’s running the company since Jim died. I think they do some things very well.

R: I think that’s pretty much all I’ve got, unless there’s anything else you’d like to add?

TD: Nope.

R: Alright, well, thank you very much for taking the time.

TD: You are entirely welcome.

R: It’s been an honour to meet you and talk to you. Thank you.


Unfettered Anthology edited by Shawn Speakman : Review


Unfettered-Cover

Normally in my reviews I’ll take a step back, and try to remove all bias. They’re formulaic: a description, the good, the bad, something else good, a general summary, and the release date of the novel, or the sequel, if there is one. That’s not something I did here. Be warned, this is a long one.

Unfettered is a fantasy anthology, containing stories from many of the biggest names in fantasy out there right now. It’s a wonderful amalgamation of talent, put together by and for the editor, Shawn Speakman. The anthology was put together in order to help Speakman’s medical debt after a fight with cancer back in 2011. The stories in this anthology are exactly what the title says — unfettered. They’re all unique; some take place in familiar worlds, while others are a step away into a different fancy of the authors.

I’ve met a bunch of the authors in the anthology, and for many of those I haven’t  yet had a chance to meet, I’ve read their books, talked to them online,  or heard things about them… and it’s one thing to know them and to think of them as being good people, but it’s another entirely, to realize just how caring, and how close the SF/Fantasy community is. If anything can show it, it’s this anthology — the 20 or so authors coming together to support one of their own in a time of need. It really is amazing, and it made this anthology all that much better. To me, it kind of served as an affirmation of the good that is out there.

I wasn’t entirely sure how to write this review — so, I’ve decided I will start at the beginning, and just have a few sentences for each of the stories. For some of them, I could write full reviews on, but I think it will be best this way.

Anyways, without further ado, the stories:

Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks:

This is an older story by Brooks, first published back in 1990, and served as a prototype of sorts for his Word and the Void series. It was an interesting read, and very different for me, as I’d only read his Shannara books previously. It’s an enjoyable read of self-discovery and overcoming challenges.

How Old Holly Came to Be by Patrick Rothfuss:

First off, don’t go into this story expecting a story from the Kingkiller Chronicles world; it isn’t. I’m not entirely sure on my feelings about this story, it’s very different and interesting. It’s written in a very rhythmic and almost simplistic way… I found it to be poetic, and rather sad.

The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams

This story was a bit of a fun twist on the old “Knight vs Dragon” story. In this one, the knight and the dragon work together to con the kingdom. I found it to be a cute read, well written and very enjoyable.

Game of Chance by Carrie Vaughn

This was the first story of Vaughn’s that I’ve read, and I think it to be a good introduction to her writing. Her story contained a dynamic world, backstory, and characters — it felt to be that this was part of a novel, not just a short story.

The Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey

This one was another first for me, having never read her Kushiel series or anything else by her before. However, The Martyr of the Roses serves as a precursor to the Kushiel series, and serves as an interesting introduction to the world, though I did find myself feeling a bit lost at times.

Mudboy by Peter V. Brett

Brett’s story is probably amongst the top three stories I was looking forward to reading most in this anthology. Set in the Demon Cycle world, it’s the story of what would have been one of the main characters in the series. It was similar to that of Arlen, Rojer, and a few of the other characters in that it’s an encounter with the corelings. It was quite good, well written; and helps as a tie-over while waiting for book 4. (Plus, it included bacon!)

The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian

Instead of being a short story, this one was more of a novelette, or a novella. Set in the same universe as The Vault of Heaven, it had an interesting magic system based on music. There’s a lot of raw emotion in this story; frustration, anger, regret, grief and mourning. This story is written in response to the question: What would you write if you thought your friend was going to die?

The Coach With Big Teeth by R.A. Salvatore

I expected something very different when I saw that Salvatore had a story in the anthology, after all, I’ve read almost all of the Drizzt Do’urden novels, and yet, this was very different. This story was probably the hardest for me to get through, as it was a baseball story, following a young timid baseball player.

Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood

Lockwood’s story is another that I was really looking forward to. I grew up recognizing his art; seeing it on many of my favourite novels, and admiring his talent. So when I heard that he was going to step into writing, I had an immense curiosity as to if he could write as well as he could draw, and well.. I really enjoyed this story, it was interesting and well-written. I think Lockwood is a promising writer, and I look forward to reading more of his writing.

Heaven in a Wild Flower by Blake Charlton

I was really uncertain about this story at first, quite frankly I found it odd, and I wasn’t sure if that was in a good way or not. However, after a few short pages I found myself loving it. It has an interesting concept; the story was beautiful, and so very sad.

Dogs by Daniel Abraham

I was kind of at odds with this story; as with Salvatore’s story, it wasn’t really fantasy. However, after rereading it, I find that it was a good read, it’s a horror story more than anything, and quite well-written.

The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne

This story was a retelling of The Holy Grail story, only, it was very different. The changes to the story, featuring Attricus O’Sullivan (from The Iron Druid Chronicles) as Gawain, and as the finder of the Grail. It was certainly interesting, and not a bad read at all.

Select Mode by Mark Lawrence

This is a Jorg story from The Broken Empire novels, I found it to be a good read, and it certainly doesn’t require you to have read the series in order to understand what’s going on. Though, it does serve as a good introduction to Lawrence’s writing, and the series in general.

All The Girls Love Michael Stein by David Anthony Durham

I don’t really have any words for this one other than “cute”. I heard Durham read this story back in November at the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto. It follows Michael Stein, the ghost of a dead cat who won’t let death get in the way of him caring for the girl he loves, and was his companion in life.

Strange Rain by Jennifer Bosworth

This is the origin story for Iris and Ivan from Bosworth’s Struck. It can be read without reading the novel. The story was interesting, though I think it may be easier to appreciate the story already knowing the characters.

Nocturne by Robert V.S. Redick

Redick’s story is another that took me a little while to get into before I enjoyed; however, after reading a bit of it I found it to be an engaging story. I don’t know if I’d say that it’s a great introduction to his writing, though, that could just be me.

Unbowed by Eldon Thompson

I haven’t read the Thompson’s Legend of Asahiel series yet, but this story serves as an introduction to Kylac Kronus. The series, and Thompson’s writing seem to be interesting and quite good, after reading the story I find myself looking forward to reading the series.

In Favour With Their Stars by Naomi Novik

Set in the Temeraire-universe, fans of Novik’s novels, and readers who haven’t yet picked them up will enjoy this story. I believe it serves as an intriguing introduction to her world, and writing. I’ve only read the first novel so far, but this story reminded me of how much I do enjoy her writing.

River of Souls by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

… Can I skip this one, please…? This story was extremely bittersweet. As a longtime Wheel of Time fan, I had reconciled that A Memory of Light would be it, then shortly after, I heard about this short story. So, there’s a lot of the same feelings, the knowledge that after so many years: this is it. River of Souls is a deleted scene from AMOL, featuring Bao and his time in Shara. Though, readers who haven’t read the series or AMOL should be wary of some minor spoilers.

The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan

The Jester is a standalone story that takes place after The Rose and the Thorn and before Theft of Swords; it features an adventure that Royce and Hadrian go on. This was quite possibly one of my favourite stories in the anthology, I found it to be a quite enjoyable read, and simply put, I love his writing.

The Duel by Lev Grossman

Set in the same world of his Magicians trilogy, fans of his writing and the series should enjoy this story. This was my first time reading a story by Grossman, and while he’s undoubtedly a talented writer, I couldn’t quite get into his story. Though, I intend on rereading it.

Walker and the Shade of Allanon by Terry Brooks

The penultimate story in this anthology, it’s probably more along the lines of what I went into his first story expecting: a Shannara story. This story is exactly what the title says it is — a discussion between Walker Boh and the shade of Allanon. I enjoyed reading the interactions between the two. This story is a short deleted scene from one of the Shannara novels. Though, readers who have no yet read the Shannara series may find themselves lost. I’m not entirely sure.

The Unfettered Knight by Shawn Speakman

Yet another bittersweet moment, though, that was mainly due to it being the final story in the anthology. This story is set in Speakman’s The Dark Thorn world, though, many years before the events of the novel. At first I was a bit put-off, as in the introduction he mentioned that it contains both vampires and urban fantasy — two things I tend to avoid, yet, I’m glad that I stuck through it, as it definitely was an enjoyable read and quite interesting.

Well, that’s my two-pence on each of the stories. I tried to keep it brief for each of them, not wanting to give anything away, while still sharing a bit of my opinion on each — I hope I succeeded in doing so.

I implore you to go out and get a copy of the anthology and support Shawn Speakman. He’s a deserving guy, and can really use the help. Plus, it IS filled with fantastic stories from some of the masters of fantasy, you’ll get a bunch of great reads, and snippets from authors you might not yet be familiar with.

E-copies are available on Amazon, or if you’d like to get a physical copy, head over to Grim Oak Press to order a copy — there’s a limited number of them, so get it while you can.


Interview with Brandon Sanderson

This past weekend I was at the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto, and Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn series, The Way of Kings, and co-authored the last books in the Wheel of Time series was kind enough to let interview him earlier today.

Slight spoiler warning for Towers of Midnight

For convenience, BS = Brandon Sanderson, and R = Rebecca (myself),

RAFO = Read And Find Out

R: So.. Hoid. We see him in almost all of your books, though I don’t think I saw him in Emperor’s Souls..

BS: He’s referenced in Emperor’s Souls, but he got cut from the book.. I actually wrote the scene with him in it.. But it didn’t fit so we had to cut it.

R: Are we ever going to get his origin story, or learn more about him?

BS: Yes, we definitely will learn more about him.. A book that has more of him is Dragon Steel.. Which I wrote when I was undergraduate as my honours thesis.. It’s not his origin story, but it’s one he’s mostly part of. We will find out everything, and get the complete story for him. It will happen eventually.

R: Well, I look forward to reading more about him… He’s an interesting character. Also, a question about Wheel of Time.. But Mat Cauthon’s fox head medallion is described as having only one eye, and that’s in the shape of the ancient symbol for Aes Sedai.. Was this foreshadowing the events that happened the Mat in Towers of Midnight?

BS: I believe it was probably foreshadowing.. James knew since book one what was going to happen, so I would say yes. My instincts say yes, but there’s nothing in his notes which said so one way or another. I’ve always felt that it was

R: In Lord of Chaos, there’s a point when Rand is in Shadar Logoth, and Lews Therin whispers to him “I must kill Demandred.” Is there some sort of connection between Demandred and Shadar Logoth?

BS: There may well be… I’m not sure if I can answer that question, so… RAFO.

R: Okay, so can Darkfriends or maybe even Forsaken be bound to the Horn?

BS: Let’s see if I can answer this one.. They’re not going to be, I don’t think there’s a law against.. But only the greatest heroes are bound to the horn. They are not the greatest heroes. So, why are you asking this?

R: I’m pretty much asking about Verin, and the likelihood of her being bound.

BS: Okay, I don’t know that there would be anything forbidding Verin from being bound to the horn..

R: Is there any mention of that in a Memory of Light?

BS: That’s a RAFO.

R: Alright, thank you though.. Also, not so much about your stories in particular.. But you’ve written a lot of different types of books, the huge epic fantasies, short stories.. Different types of fantasy, and the odd ones like Legion.. Which do you enjoy writing the most?

BS: Answering questions like this one is difficult, it’s like “Pick your favourite food”, if you eat that food every day you’re going to eventually hate it.. Or slowly find the food less and less enjoyable. For me, that’s how it is with writing.

Epic Fantasy is my favourite form, but if I’m only ever doing Epic Fantasy, I feel like I will get burned out on it, and I’ll stop enjoying it as much and so I don’t want to see that happen.. So when I start to feel like it, I let myself within certain bounds write whatever I want to write so that when I get back to Epic Fantasy I’m feeling fresh. It’s not a matter of what I like to write the most, it’s a matter of what I’m feeling like at the time. Sometimes you may not want to eat your favourite food,

R: And when you’re switching between these different types of stories, are there any major difficulties that you face?

BS: If I do, then it means something’s going wrong and I kind of need to look at why I’m trying to write it… Switching is not hard, usually.. You get to know your writing style, you get comfortable with how you approach things.

R: Okay, and, next year, we’re getting Stormlight Archive book 2? Or will that be early 2014?

BS: It should be Christmas 2013, that’s what we’re aiming for.. In fact, I have to name it this weekend so TOR can start the publicity for it.

R: And then we’re also getting A Memory of Light, obviously, and The Rithmatist?

BS: Yes, that’s the book I wrote just before Wheel of Time in 2007, back before I was offered a Wheel of Time offer.. And it languished for years because I was so busy with Wheel of Time and when I had any free time, The Way of Kings, I wasn’t even able to do revisions.. The three of four months it would have taken would have slowed down one of those two books, so I was able to take those months after A Memory of Light was done.

R: And is there anything next year?

BS: I don’t know when Steelheart will be out, but probably 2014.. But it is on people’s radars, this is another one before I took up before Wheel of Time, but I wrote it in gaps between books, so people know about it. I’ve been trying to shop it Hollywood for years, but I was finally able to polish it off and sell it. Once Wheel a Time was done I was finally able to spend time on these things which have been put aside for years.. Things like this are good, but to give them the time to make them great while I was working on them would have taken time away from a Memory of Light.. And it wouldn’t have been right to let them demand that time, so it wasn’t until recently that I’ve been able to give them that time.. So, I think that’ll be 2014, but we do get three books next year most likely.

R: Yep, and that’s great.. I’m looking forward to reading them all.. and with a Memory of Light being finished, is it odd not having it to work on?

BS: It is.. It’s very strange experience since it’s been such a part of my life for so long, to not have it to work on.. But I do intend to be a part of fandom for the rest of my life. So, there is that..

R: I know a lot of people are looking for it, and there will always be more theories.. I do remember last year when I spoke with you, you did say there will be loose ends, so people will be theorizing on those for a while.

BS: Yeah, there will be loose ends, and I can talk to that when the book comes out.

R: Alrighty then! You’ll just have to come back to Toronto then.

BS: Okay, well that’s a deal then.

R: Alright, I think that’s it… Thank you!

————————————–


Brandon also read a passage from A Memory of Light while he was here in Toronto (the beginning of the first chapter/the wind scene), as well as a bit from the Stormlight Archive Book 2.

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Highly Anticipated Fantasy Novels of 2013

Last year I compiled a list of highly anticipated science fiction and fantasy novels that were to be released this year. And, with a new year only a couple of months away, the holiday season approaching and many great books coming out in 2013 it seemed only fitting to create a new list.

There aren’t really any Science fiction novels on here, as I’ve had more of a focus on Fantasy this past year and haven’t had a chance to read any of the latest novels in the genre. I’m definitely missing some books, and there are some books on here that you might disagree with. Feel free to let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

1) A Memory of Light – Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

– The Eye of the World (book 1 of the Wheel of Time) was published back in 1990. 23 years later, the series is finally coming to a close. With the Last Battle between good and evil approaching; and  the end of an age, Rand, Mat, Perrin and the rest of the world must unite under a common goal and put their own wars and differences aside to fight the Dark One and the Forsaken, along with their hoards of evil creatures.

Release Date: I had this on my 2012 list as well; but with the date changed, A Memory of Light, the epic conclusion to the Wheel of Time series will be release January 8th 2013. 

  • Read “Eastward the Wind Blew” (Chapter 1) here
  • Listen to “The Choice of an Ajah” (Chapter 2) here

2) The Daylight War – Peter V. Brett

Humanity is fighting back. Although the night still belongs to the demons that arise as the sun sets, new wards and weapons are giving those willing to fight in the darkness a chance to retaliate against their core-spawned enemies.

But, as humanity is about to learn, not all monsters are confined to the dark.

Civil war ravages the north and south, battles fought between those who should be working together. It is up to Arlen – the Painted Man – and Jardir – the self-proclaimed Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer – to put aside their differences and bring their people to terms if they are to have any chance of saving their civilisation from demon-rule.

The Daylight War is another one that was on my list for 2012, but with the date finally announced, I’m happy to say that the third book in the Demon Cycle will be out next year!.

My review for the first book, The Warded Man can be found here.

Release Date: February 12th 2013 – My review for The Daylight War will be posted around mid-January.

3) Bloodfire Quest – Terry Brooks

Long ago, many dangerous creatures were locked behind a magical barrier, bringing peace and prosperity to the land. But now those barriers are eroding, and generations of embittered prisoners are about to escape. War seems inevitable… unless a few brave souls can stem the tide.

While some venture into the forbidden lands, others must undertake a perilous quest – a quest whose success will mean the death of a young girl who has barely even begun to live, but whose failure will have unimaginable consequences.” – source.

Book Two of the Dark Legacy, Bloodfire Quest continues the tale of The Wards of the Faerie in Brook’s world of Shannara
Release Date: March 7th 2013. – My review for The Bloodfire Quest will be posted mid-late February. 

The third, and final book in the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy will be out shortly afterwards on July 16th 2013.

4) The Gate Thief – Orson Scott Card

“Danny North is still in high school, yet he holds in his heart and mind all the stolen outselves of thirteen centuries of gatemages. The Families still want to kill him if they can’t control him…and they can’t control him. He is far too powerful.

And on Westil, Wad is now nearly powerless—he lost everything to Danny in their struggle. Even if he can survive the revenge of his enemies, he still must somehow make peace with the Gatemage Daniel North.

For when Danny took that power from Loki, he also took the responsibility for the Great Gates. And when he comes face-to-face with the mages who call themselves Bel and Ishtoreth, he will come to understand just why Loki closed the gates all those centuries ago. –source

The Gate Thief is the second book in the Mither Mages series, picking up from The Lost Gate it continues the tale of the mages of Westil whom have been exiled to Earth.

Release Date: March 19th 2013

5) A Tale of Tales – David Farland
“The great war with the Wyrmling Hordes is over, and mankind has lost. Lord Despair has gathered an army of fell creatures, planning to unleash them like a wildfire across the stars.
Those who oppose him know that the battle is all but lost. Though they stand against the darkness, they cannot hope to win with arms. Indeed, they stand against him armed with little more than principles.
Fallion and Tuul Ra, with only a handful of allies, must hope that with resolve and cunning alone they can win the day — before darkness closes upon them forever.” – source
I haven’t had a chance to read The Runelords series, however — readers of Farland’s Runelords will want to read the ninth, (and final) instalment to the epic series.
Release Date: April 1st 2013
6) River of Stars – Guy Gavriel Kay
River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay is set in the same alternate historical China as his novel Under Heaven, but centuries later. Following the tales of Lin Shan, the daughter of a scholar, whose intelligence capitvates the emperor whilst alienating her from women of the court, and Ren Daiyan after he takes the lives of seven men and joins the outlaws in the forests of Kitai and emerges years later.
Release Date: April 2nd 2013
7) Blood of Dragons – Robin Hobb


Blood of Dragons
 is the fourth and final novel in the Rain Wilds Chronicles. No description of the book has been released yet, but I plan to have a review for the first book in the series — Dragon Keeper up later next week. {Will update when a description is available/review has been posted.}

Release Date: April 9th 2013

8) The Silver Dream – Neil Gaimen and Michael Reaves

“Sixteen-year-old Joey Harker has just saved the Altiverse — the dimension that contains all the myriad Earths — from complete destruction. After mastering the ability to walk between dimensions, Joey and his fellow InterWorld Freedom Fighters are on a mission to maintain peace between the rival powers of magic and science who seek to control all worlds.

When a stranger named Acacia somehow follows Joey back to InterWorld’s Base, things get complicated. No one knows who she is or where she’s from — or how she knows so much about InterWorld. Dangerous times lie ahead, and Joey has no one to rely on but himself and his wits — and, just maybe, the mysterious Acacia Jones.” – source

This book is partly on this list just because I’m a fan of anything Gaimen, however I have heard lots of praise for the first book, InterWorld and I am sure that The Silver Dream will be an excellent follow-up novel.

Release Date: April 23rd 2013

9) The Rithmatist – Brandon Sanderson



The Rithmatist
 is an epic fantasy set in an alternate version of out own world. The Americas are under treat by creatures known as Wild Chalkings (two-dimensional drawings infused with life). Following the tale of Joel, a boy wanting nothing more than to be one of the Rithmatist and his adventures as he follows a trail of discovery which could change their world forever.

This book is primarily on here because I’m a big fan of Sanderson’s writing (if you hadn’t noticed by the number of his books appearing on this list, and by how many I’ve reviewed..) but aside from his Alcatraz series which I’ve yet to read, Sanderson has proven himself to be a great writer of epic fantasy, and I’m sure The Rithmatist will not be an exception to that.

Release Date: May 14th 2013

10) The Ocean at the end of the Lane — Neil Gaiman

I’ve yet to read anything by Gaiman that I haven’t absolutely love, and this one sounds as if it’ll be no exception to that.

It began for our narrator forty years ago, when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed.

His only defense are three women on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

To quote Neil himself, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a novel of childhood and memory. It’s a story of magic, about the power of stories and how we face the darkness inside each of us. It’s about fear, and love, and death, and families. But, fundamentally, I hope, at its heart, it’s a novel about survival.” – source

Release Date: June 18th 2013

11) Emperor of Thorns — Mark Lawrence

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To reach the throne requires that a man journey. Even a path paved with good intentions can lead to hell, and my intentions were never good.

The Hundred converge for Congression to politic upon the corpse of Empire, and while they talk the Dead King makes his move, and I make mine. The world is cracked, time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days, the future so bright that those who see it are the first to burn. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne whoever seeks to thwart me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.

This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don’t look to me to save you. Don’t think I will not spend you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don’t follow me.

Follow me, and I will break your heart.

I only just picked up Prince of Thorns recently, but so far I’m loving it. While I’ve heard mixed reviews about the series, I have to say I’m enjoying it so far. I’m sure the sequel, King of Thorns, and Emperor of Thorns are going to be equally enjoyable, if not better.

Release Date: August 1st 2013

12) Republic of Thieves – Scott Lynch

“After their adventures on the high seas, Locke and Jean are brought back to earth with a thump. Jean is mourning the loss of his lover and Locke must live with the fallout of crossing the all-powerful magical assassins the Bonds Magi. It is a fall-out that will pit both men against Locke’s own long lost love. Sabetha is Locke’s childhood sweetheart, the love of Locke’s life and now it is time for them to meet again. Employed on different sides of a vicious dispute between factions of the Bonds Sabetha has just one goal – to destroy Locke for ever.” – source

I haven’t actually read The Gentleman Bastard Sequence yet, however, I have heard great things about it, and have heard a lot of praise for Scott Lynch. With the release date being repeatedly pushed back, fans of the series have had to be patient and wait for the next instalment in the series — hopefully though, this time the release date will hold true.

Release Date: I’ve found conflicting data.. My guess is either September 3rd, 2013 or May 6, 2014. I’ve been told that there’s no official release date yet.

10) Stormlight Archive Book 2 – Brandon Sanderson

Continuing in Sanderson’s epic world he created in The Way of Kings (My review for tWoK can be found here). Not much information has been released about what the unnamed sequel will be about, but with the the intriguing characters, and expansive system he set up in the first book in the Stormlight Archive, I’m sure it’ll be great.

Release Date: December 2013

11) The Blood Mirror – Brent Weeks

The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks is the concluding novel in the Lightbringer Trilogy. Wrapping up the tales of Kip, Gavin, Karris and the rest of the Chromeria. While no official description/cover of The Blood Mirror has been released yet, I am sure it will be a great conclusion to the series, and I’m highly looking forward to reading it.

Read my review of The Black Prism (Book 1) here
Read my review of The Blinding Knife (Book 2here

Release Date: Sometime in 2013, potentially.

Possibly being released:

Kingkiller Chronicles Book 3 – Patrick Rothfuss

The story of Kvothe; a young man who has killed kings, spoken to gods and rescued princess. A man who has known the name of the wind, trained with the legendary Adem and has sought out the secrets of the Chandrian.

Readers have followed him on since his days travelled as the Edema Ruh, through University, love and pain, and as he has slowly turned into a figure of legend. In this third book, we see the conclusion to Kvothe’s tale.

Update: This won’t be getting released in 2013. No release date is set yet, but 2013 highly unlikely.


You tell me: What books have I missed from this list? What are you looking forward to reading in 2013?

Keep checking back! I’ll be updating this list frequently over the next couple months as more information on upcoming books is released.


Eye of the World by Robert Jordan : Review

 

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, and Age of Prophesy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
Let the Dragon Ride again on the winds of time.

Undisturbed by news and war; life in the Two Rivers is both peaceful and quaint. With no great troubles to speak of, except for the lack of crops and wolf attacks in the night, preparations are underway for the Bel Tine festivities. Though, In the deep of Winternight; Dark forces – bestial Trollocs and Myrddral – attack the village of Emond’s Field, seeming to specifically target three young men – Rand, Mat and Perrin. The three youths, and the innkeeper’s daughter, Egwene flee the village in hopes to save their village from further harm, accompanied by Moraine – an Aes Sedai; a magician with the ability to wield the One Power, and her Warder, Lan. The two strangers brings warnings of a terrible evil awakening in the world.

Unbeknowest to the boys; one of the them is destined to unite the world against the rising darkness and lead the fight against a being so powerful and evil it is known simply as the Dark One. Destined to wield the tainted power of Saidin. Destined to go mad.

Robert Jordan has recreated the familiar and well-loved Tolkienesque world that fantasy readers have come to love (or detest) with this seemingly-classical coming of age story. With mythological allusions, innovative magic systems, full and lengthy details, and exhilarating adventures, readers of epic-fantasy are sure to love the series.

Some readers may be put off by the length, and yes – the repetitive and long descriptions, and the Tolkenesque features of the book – those that are able to get into it, and read on will find a creative and unique world which branches away from the Tolkien-like themes in the sequels.

I’ve heard a lot of people complain about the pacing simply being too slow – though, I didn’t find it to be that way at all. The Eye of The World reads as the first part in a trilogy, as it was originally intended. However, the series is now 13 books long (14 if you include the prequel – New Spring, my review for that is here). The last book (#14/15) – A Memory of Light, co-written by Brandon Sanderson is set to be released Spring 2012.

Out of the Wheel of Time books written wholly by Robert Jordan (books 0-11) this tied with The Shadow Rising (book 4) as my favorite. The characters react believably to their situations, and are  at this point are ignorant and innocent. With Jordan’s great worldbuilding and expertise with character development, you really get to feel that alongside them; the weariness of long travel, the fear of pursuit, the lust for knowledge and so much more. Each of the main characters (Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, and Nynaeve – the Wisdom from the Two Rivers -) learn things that are part of their defining roles which set them apart from the others throughout the course of the series.  This is truly the beginning of an epic tale, and it is one of the greatest fantasy novels of all time.

I’m having trouble doing this book justice, the Wheel of Time is by far my favorite series, but to describe a 688 paged fantasy book with the beginning of intricate plots and developing characters may well be beyond me.

 


New Spring by Robert Jordan : Review

 

For three days, war has raged in the cold of winter around the city of Tar Valon; soldier al’Lan Mandragoran; uncrowned king of Malkier fights against the Aiel. As the war comes to an end, Lan rides north to the Blight with his companion Bukama. On the road to Chachin he meets the Lady Alys – a woman with secrets, and a woman who will change his life and future.

Within the walls of Tar Valon, in the White Tower; a foretelling is made that would forever change the world – the Dragon has been reborn on the slopes of Dragonmount; the one who would carry the fate of the world, and bring them to the battle against the Dark One. Siuan Sanche, and Moiraine Damodred, Accepted of the White Tower were on duty to the Amyrlin that fateful night, and having heard the foretelling; go out to seek the boy-child in fear of the Black Ajah.

New Spring takes place twenty years before the start of Eye of the World; and while this novel is the prequel to the series, I must emphasize this: Do NOT read this book until you’ve read at least some of the series. Many things in here aren’t explained, nor will they make sense unless you’re familiar with concepts that are only explained in later books. Things which are mentioned various times in New Spring – Trollocs, Channeling, the Blight and others would be meaningless to you.

New Spring was an interesting read; as it gave background information on some of the characters that we see in the series, and helps readers come to an understanding of why those characters – Moiraine and Lan in particular – are where they are when we meet them in Eye of the World, along with showing events which are referenced to later on such as the Aiel War. This really wasn’t my favorite from the series – though I can say without a moment’s hesitation that it wasn’t a least favorite. New Spring is short in comparison to every other book in the series, and while it’s been a couple months since I last read it; I think I can safely said that barely a page or two had been wasted.

I’ll be doing the rest of the series as well; I can’t promise they’ll all be spoiler-free… For example: the review of The Great Hunt is very likely to have spoilers of The Eye of the World, so please don’t read it unless you’ve already read the books up until that point!

 


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