About Border War: Border War is a timely thriller about the struggles of US law enforcement officers on the Mexican border by TV broadcaster Lou Dobbs.
The border is a tough place to work, especially for FBI agent Tom Eriksen. With a history of violence, he cannot afford any on-duty screw-ups. So when an investigation ends in a bloody shootout and the shooting is deemed “questionable,” the bureau reassigns Eriksen to an office known as “the Island of Misfit Cops”: a resting place for those who have screwed up enough to warrant being dumped in El Paso, Texas.
But when his partner is murdered, Eriksen must take charge and solve the case, wading through corruption and betrayal to discover the truth. Only after he teams up with a resourceful and gorgeous NSA agent, Kat Gleason, does his luck change. As they slowly put the puzzle pieces together, the investigation points to a powerful cartel lord and a shadowy US computer company.
As the web of deceit and betrayal tightens, the body count grows. Eriksen must deal with the mayhem caused by the cartels while racing against the clock to stop an assassin whose target is someone very close to him.
(Ends April 7)
Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.
- Tor Teen is reissuing The Ice Dragon, by George R.R. Martin. Check out the amazing Luis Royo sketches for the cover.
- This week’s Throwback Thursday post goes back to September 2010, when Brandon Sanderson introduced The Way of Kings.
- We have more amazing art for you this week! Check out the cover for the upcoming novel The Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin and translated from the original Chinese by Ken Liu. We can’t wait for this one to come out in October.
- A fun question from io9: what books or series would you like to see as TV shows? I’d love to see The Wheel of Time given the Game of Thrones treatment.
- Have ereaders changed the way you read? Jo Walton wants to know.
- I Solemnly Swear I’m Up to No Good: a Harry Potter re-read has begun on Tor.com!
The Tor/Forge Newsletter went out this week!
- Words of Radiance and the Fantasy Epic by Brandon Sanderson
- These Are a Few of My Favorite Dragons by Marie Brennan
And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!
- March Grab Bag Sweepstakes (Ends 3/31)
- Goodreads Sweepstakes: People of the Wolf by W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear (Ends 3/10)
- Goodreads Sweepstakes: Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear (Ends 3/10)
- Goodreads Sweepstakes: The Nuclear Terrorist by Robert Gleason (Ends 3/11)
- Goodreads Sweepstakes: Playing With Fire by Renee Graziano (Ends 3/12)
- Goodreads Sweepstakes: Blood Always Tells by Hilary Davidson (Ends 3/17)
- Goodreads Sweepstakes: Afterparty by Daryl Gregory (Ends 3/24)
- Goodreads Sweepstakes: Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies by David Lubar (Ends 3/25)
- eBook Sale: Touchstone, by Melanie Rawn, is on sale for $2.99 (Ends 3/28)
- Goodreads Sweepstakes: The Blood of Alexander by Tom Wilde (Ends 4/1)
Words of Radiance came out earlier this week! Brandon Sanderson celebrated his new book by writing about his personal history with epic fantasy in the Tor/Forge Newsletter. To continue our immersion in the world of the The Stormlight Archives, we thought we’d revisit this September 2010 article, in which Sanderson introduced his new series. We hope you enjoy this blast from the past, and be sure to check back every other Thursday for more!
I’ve been asked to introduce The Way Of Kings to you. And I have no idea how to start.
This is an odd position for me. Before, I’ve found it easy to explain my novels. Each one was built around one or two central premises. The gang of thieves who want to rob an immortal emperor. A man cast down by a terrible, magical disease and forced to rebuild a society among those similarly afflicted. A boy who finds that librarians secretly rule the world.
Kings has stymied me each time I’ve tried to describe it. I often end up talking about its creation. (How I started work on it over fifteen years ago. How I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words worth of worldbuilding for it. How much the project has come to mean to me over the decades.) But such things describe the book but don’t actually tell you anything. And so this time, I’m going to try to talk about what The Way Of Kings is.
It’s a book about characters I love. I’ve begun to build a reputation as the “magic system” guy. The author who creates interesting types of magic for every book he writes. On one hand, this delights me, as I do put a lot of effort into the magic in my books. But a great book for me isn’t about a magic, it’s about the people that the magic affects.
The book started its life many years ago being about a young man who made a good decision. I wrote the entire book that way before realizing I’d done it wrong. So I started over from scratch and had him take the other fork, the more difficult fork. The fork that cast him into some of the worst imaginable circumstances, ground him against the stones of a world where there is no soil or sand on the ground.
My goal: to prove to myself, and to him, that the ‘good’ decision was not actually the best one. The Way Of Kings is his story, though he shares the space with several others. They’ll get their own books later in the series.
I want to tell you more, but I don’t have the space here. I want to talk about the art in the book (it’s ambitious, unlike anything I’ve seen tried in an epic fantasy novel before.) I want to talk about the scope of the series, the distinctive world which is so much larger and more real than anything I’ve worked on before. I want to explain the book.
But, for now, I think it’s best to just show you instead.
The Way of Kings (978-0-7653-2808-3) by Brandon Sanderson was released August 31 from Tor.
Here’s the full review, from the February 15th issue:
In this amazing tome, the husband-and-wife team who also edited the World Fantasy Award–winning The Weird survey the literary development of the time travel genre from the 1880s to the present. The anthology starts with Charles Yu’s delightful essay “Top Ten Tips for Time Travelers,” which advises readers to forget about the so-called rules of time travel. The book is then divided into four sections: Experiments; Reactionaries and Revolutionaries; Mazes and Traps; and Communiques. Each section wraps up with an educational, nonfiction gem. Authors of the more than 70 stories include Douglas Adams, Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, and Connie Willis.
Verdict Completely satisfying, this collection will appeal on some level to every sf reader. Although these stories were written over time, from the first time travel story ever published, “The Clock That Went Backward” (1881) by Edward Page Mitchell, to “Thirty Seconds from Now” (2011) by John Chu, they each prove timeless. So accept the (il)logic of time travel, and enjoy the ride.
The Time Traveler’s Almanac will be published on March 18th.
About Words of Radiance: The Stormlight Archive sequence began in 2010 with the New York Times bestseller The Way of Kings. Now, the eagerly anticipated Words of Radiancecontinues the epic story and answers many of your questions.
Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi.
Now the Assassin is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin’s master has much deeper motives.
Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status “darkeyes.” Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.
Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.
Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.
The doors of the Stormlight Archive first opened to us with The Way of Kings. Listen to that book – now available in all formats – and then Words of Radiance, and you can be part of the adventure every dazzling step of the way.
About The Blood of Alexander: A modern Indiana Jones steals a relic of Alexander the Great in Blood of Alexander, the thrilling debut from Tom Wilde.
Blake is pitted against Vanya, the head of a fanatical cult, who seeks a gilded bronze eagle that holds a vital clue to the lost tomb of Alexander the Great.
From ancient ruins in Afghanistan to the catacombs of Paris to a chateau high in the French Alps, Blake must unravel the secret truth of the final fate of Napoleon Bonaparte, the murder of Percy Bysshe Shelly, and the hidden remains of Alexander. And he must do it before Vanya’s apocalyptic plans for humanity come to their deadly fruition.
(Ends April 1)
Written by Marie Brennan
It’s a little embarrassing to admit that I’m not obsessed with dragons. Sure, I read Pern at an impressionable age, and I think fire lizards sound like awesome pets (empathy! fire-breathing! teleportation!), but dragons are just one of many awesome things in fantasy that I find interesting. Had the sources that inspired me to write the Memoirs of Lady Trent been a Unicornology calendar and the Unicorninomicon, I might be writing about very different beasts today.
Having said that, I have my favorite dragons, just like many people. In no particular order, they are:
The Wawel Dragon, from the folklore of Kraków, Poland. This is your classic dragon story…almost. The dragon hangs out in a cave at the foot of the Wawel hill, eating peasants and terrorizing everybody; knights try to kill it and fail; the King promises his daughter’s hand in marriage to whoever can save her from being the next maiden sacrificed; you know the drill. The hero of this tale is a suitably humble cobbler’s apprentice—but does he slay the dragon with a sword? Nope. He stuffs a lamb’s skin with sulfur and leaves it as bait for the dragon. Who, upon eating it, develops a terrible stomachache and goes down to the river to try and ease it, but ends up drinking so much water that he explodes.
And then the apprentice marries the princess and everybody lives happily ever after, except of course for the dragon.
Maleficent, from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. I have my fingers crossed that Angelina Jolie does justice to the role, because Maleficent is one of Disney’s best villains ever. How can you not love a wicked fairy with that sense of style, especially when she turns herself into a @#$&! dragon? Sure, okay, she doesn’t start off as a dragon, but when I have a stuffed animal of her in dragon form sitting in my bedroom, I think I have to count her as one of my favorites.
Toothless, from How to Train Your Dragon. (The movie; I haven’t read the book yet, though I intend to.) I feel almost as if I’m cheating here, because Toothless is basically a cat in a dragon’s body—just look at his behavior, and the way that he moves. He even looks a great deal like my friend’s cat Thrace. And given my fondness for cats, that goes a long way toward explaining why I love Toothless so much. He’s adorable, and also awesome.
Kazul, from Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles skewer a lot of the fairy tale and legend tropes; the protagonist, Cimorene, runs away and volunteers to be a dragon’s captive princess so as to escape her expected role in life. Most of the dragons think this is absurd, but Kazul takes her on, because she needs somebody to catalogue her library and organize her hoard. I have a deep fondness for pragmatic characters, so Kazul is precisely my speed.
The fire lizards, from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books. Because like I said: empathy! fire-breathing! teleportation! I also love a lot of her full-sized dragons—Ramoth, Ruth, Path, and so on—but it would be hard to take care of one in a San Francisco Bay Area townhouse, whereas a well-trained fire lizard would make a great pet. And I don’t think my husband is allergic to lizards; sadly, I can’t say the same for cats.
From the Tor/Forge March 3rd newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.
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Written by Brandon Sanderson
I can be reasonably certain that Dragon Prince, by Melanie Rawn, was the first thick fantasy book I read. For those who don’t know my story, I was not a reader in my youth—and so the thought of approaching something that huge was daunting to me. However, I was just coming off of the high of having discovered something beautiful and wonderful in this genre, and I was hungry for more. This book, with its gorgeous cover (thank you, Mr. Whelan) seemed like the best shot.
It didn’t let me down. Soon, I was reading everything thick I could find, from Tad Williams to Stephen Donaldson, and was therefore perfectly primed to read The Eye of the World when I discovered it. You might say I learned to swim by jumping into the deep end. I went from hundred-page middle grade novels directly into seven-hundred-page epics. But it was only in these pages that I found the depth, the imagination, and the powerful storytelling that I thirsted for.
If you can’t tell, I love epic fantasy. I have nothing against the shorter forms of fiction—indeed, I have a blast reading stories of all sizes. But epic fantasy holds that first and most important piece of my heart, as it was the genre that made me into a reader, and that in turn made me a writer. It is hard to define myself without epic fantasy.
So, I find myself in an odd place when the genre is mocked. Most of that mockery is good natured—the genre’s thick pagecounts and sometimes ponderous leanings do paint a large target. We comment about “doorstoppers,” warn people not to drop the novels around any small pets, and joke about authors being paid by the word. Some people call the books “fat fantasies with maps” as if to reduce everything the genre seeks to accomplish to the thing you often find on page one.
It’s not my intention to stop such mockery; as I said, it’s mostly good natured, and we in the genre have to be willing to laugh at ourselves. Oftentimes, what one person finds a book’s most compelling aspect (whether it be breakneck pacing or deep world-building) can be the very thing that drives another person away. If there were only one sort of book that people liked, the world would be a much sadder place overall.
However, after ten years in this business, I somewhat shockingly find myself to be one of the major voices for epic fantasy. I released the biggest (see, even I can’t resist the puns) fantasy book of the year last year, and will likely do so again this year. (Unless George or Pat unexpectedly slip their quarter onto the top of the arcade machine.)
So, I feel that it’s my place to talk a bit about the genre as a form, and explain a little of what I’m trying to do with it. Not because I feel the genre really needs to be defended—the number of people who enjoy epic fantasy indicates it is doing just fine without a defense—but because I think awesome things are happening in my genre right now, and I want to involve you all a little more in the behind the scenes.
An Evolving Genre
I’ve talked at length about my worry that epic fantasy seemed to hit a rut in the late ’90s and early 2000s, particularly in regards to what new authors were attempting. This isn’t to say that great stuff wasn’t coming out. (See Robin Hobb and Steven Erickson.) It just seems that—from my experience both with my own reader friends and the fans I meet at signings—a large number of readers jumped ship at that time. While their favorite authors, like George R. R. Martin and Robert Jordan, were still producing great stories, it seemed like every new writer was trying to copy what had come before. It felt repetitive.
I’m sure I’m being reductionist here, and am failing to note some of the awesome things that happened during this era. But as a whole, I know that I myself felt a fatigue. As a fan and aspiring writer, I wrote a number of essays and editorials about the need for epic fantasy to move on, experiment more, and evolve. I felt, and still feel, that the things that define epic fantasy aren’t the specific races, locations, or familiar styles of magic—instead, the genre is about a deep sense of immersion and scope.
Fortunately, epic fantasy has evolved. It is evolving. In truth, it was evolving back then, it just wasn’t moving fast enough for some of us. If you look at what Pat Rothfuss, Brent Weeks, and N.K. Jemisin are doing with the genre, you’ll find all kinds of cool things. Pat is experimenting with non-linear storytelling and use of prose as lyrics; Brent is making epic fantasy novels that read with the pacing of a thriller; Nora is experimenting with voice, tone, and narrative flow in fascinating ways. They’re only a few of the ones doing great things with the genre.
These stores are very different from what came before, but they still feel right. I love where the genre is right now. I’m excited for what comes next. I’m trying my best to be part of that.
So Why Is It So Long?
Words of Radiance is, famously, the longest book that Tor can physically bind into one volume using their current bindery. By word count, it’s not actually the longest fantasy book in recent years—I think GRRM gets that crown. My book has a large number of art pieces, however, which increase the thickness pagecount wise.
A few weeks back I had a conversation with a gentleman who had run the numbers and determined that if Tor had split the Wheel of Time into 30 parts instead of 14, it would have made hundreds of millions more in revenue. It was a thought experiment on his part—he wasn’t suggesting the indiscriminate cutting of books—but it opened a discussion of something I get asked a lot.
Why don’t you just make your books shorter? At the size they are, they’re very inefficient to produce. I’m certainly capable of writing shorter works. Why not write these books shorter? Or why not split them? (Several countries already cut the Stormlight books into pieces when they translate them.)
The answer is simple. This is the piece of art I wanted to make.
The Stormlight Archive is intended as a love letter to the epic fantasy genre. I wrote the first version of The Way of Kings during a time when I wasn’t certain I’d ever sell a book, and when I was determined to write something that did everything I envisioned fantasy doing. I gave no thought to to market constraints, printing costs, or anything of that nature. The Way of Kings is, in a lot of ways, my most honest work.
It is what I always dreamed epic fantasy could be. Length is part of that, and so is the hardcover form—the big, lavish, art-filled hardcover. A big book doesn’t indicate quality—but if you find a big book that you love, then there is that much more of it to enjoy. Beyond that, I felt—and feel—there is an experience I can deliver in a work of this length that I could never deliver in something shorter, even if that’s just the same book divided up.
And so, I present to you Words of Radiance.
The Piece of Art I Wanted to Make
It’s not part of a trilogy. (I’ve said that Stormlight is ten books, set in two five book arcs.) It is a trilogy. By that I mean I plotted it as I would three books, with smaller arcs for each part and a larger arc for the entire trilogy. (Those break points are, by the way, after part two and after part three, with each of the three “books” being roughly 115,000 words long, 330 pages, or roughly the length of my novel Steelheart, or Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonquest.) When you read the novel, you’re actually reading an entire trilogy of novels bound together into one volume to encourage you to see them as one whole, connected and intertwined, with a single powerful climax.
Words of Radiance is also a short story collection.
I’ve blogged about my goal for the interludes in these books. Between each section of Words of Radiance, you will find a handful of short stories from the viewpoints of side characters. “Lift,” one of these, has already been posted on Tor.com. There are many others of varying length. Each was plotted on its own, as a small piece of a whole, but also a stand-alone story. (The Eshonai interludes are the exception—like the Szeth interludes in the first book, they are intended as a novelette/novella that is parallel to the main novel.)
Words of Radiance is also an art book.
Many book series have beautiful “world of” books that include artwork from the world, with drawings and descriptions to add depth to the series. My original concept for the Stormlight Archive included sticking this into the novels themselves. Words of Radiance includes brand-new, full-color end pages, as well as around two dozen new pieces of interior art—all in-world drawings by characters or pieces of artwork from the setting itself.
My dream, my vision, for this series is to have each book combine short form stories, several novels, artistic renditions, and the longer form of a series all into a single volume of awesomeness.
I want to mix poetry, experimental shorts, classic fantasy archetypes, song, non-linear flashbacks, parallel stories, and depth of world-building. I want to push the idea of what it means to be an epic fantasy, even a novel, if I can.
I want people to feel good about dropping thirty bucks on a novel, since they know they’re actually buying five books in one. But most of all, I want to produce a beautiful hardcover fantasy novel like the ones I loved as a youth. Not the same. Something different, yet something that still feels right.
I feel grateful to Tor for being willing to go along with me on this. It turned out wonderfully. It is the book I always dreamed it could be.
But do avoid dropping it on any small pets.
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