2014 Goodreads Choice Awards Nominees

Lock In by John ScalziThe Emperor's Blades by Brian StaveleyWords of Radiance by Brandon SandersonThe Goblin Emperor by Katherine AddisonEarth Awakens by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

The nominees have been announced for the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards and fiveTor titles have made the cut!

 In the Science Fiction category:

Earth Awakens by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

Lock In by John Scalzi

In the Fantasy category:

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

In the Debut Goodreads Author category:

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

Voting is open now! You can check out all the lists here.

Brandon Sanderson Sampler: The Way of Kings & Mistborn

Brandon Sandeson SamplerBrandon Sanderson is one of the most innovative and prolific authors writing today, and Tor Books is proud to share with you two of his most exciting series: The Stormlight Archive and Mistborn.

This electronic sampler contains part one of The Way of Kings, book one in The Stormlight archive, and the first five chapters of Mistborn, book one of the Mistborn series.

We hope that you’ll enjoy this look into the rich imagination of #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson.

Download this free sampler today:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | eBooks.com | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo

The Week in Review

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.

Crafting a Shardblade

  • Watch a great conversation between Cory Doctorow and William Campbell Powell, the author of Expiration Day, about overcoming your fear of change.
  • John Scalzi has announced a new novella, “Unlocked,” a prequel story to his upcoming novel Lock In.
  • Last but not least, this week’s Throwback Thursday post features the inimitable Elizabeth Bear, who gives great advice, as always.

 
And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!

New Audiobook Release: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance by Brandon SandersonAbout Words of RadianceThe 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.

See upcoming releases.

Words of Radiance and the Fantasy Epic

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Written by Brandon Sanderson

Introduction

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.

Dragon Prince by Melanie RawnIt 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

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin HobbI’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?

Interestingly, my essay has three prologues, as I’m almost to where I get to what I originally wanted to talk about.

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

Words of Radiance is a trilogy.

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.

…………………………

From the Tor/Forge March 3rd newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.

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More from the March 3rd Tor/Forge newsletter:

The Way of Kings Magnet Set Sweepstakes

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Stormlight Archive fans, here’s a chance to win a little something to spruce up your refrigerator doors. We have ten sets magnets with quotes and art from The Way of Kings to give away. Comment below to enter for a chance to win.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 or older as of the date of entry. To enter, complete entry here beginning at 12:00 PM Eastern Time (ET) January 23, 2014. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET January 29, 2014. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

The Way of Kings eBook is now on sale for $2.99

The Way of Kings by Brandon SandersonBrandon Sanderson‘s Words of Radiance, the latest in the Stormlight Archive series, is due out on March 4. This month we are making it easy to get started with the series by releasing the first ebook, The Way of Kings, for only $2.99.*

About The Way of Kings: Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

*sale ends December 6

Goodreads Sweepstakes: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings by Brandon SandersonAbout The Way of Kings: Brandon Sanderson, widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga,  begins a grand cycle of his own, with The Way of Kings, Book One of the Stormlight Archive.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends December 16)

Also, don’t forget to check out our other sweepstakes!

Goodreads Sweepstakes: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings by Brandon SandersonAbout The Way of Kings: Brandon Sanderson, widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga,  begins a grand cycle of his own, with The Way of Kings, Book One of the Stormlight Archive.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends October 31)

Also, don’t forget to check out our other sweepstakes!

Goodreads Sweepstakes: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings by Brandon SandersonAbout The Way of Kings: Brandon Sanderson, widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga,  begins a grand cycle of his own, with The Way of Kings, Book One of the Stormlight Archive.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.
Strength before weakness.
Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends September 13)

Also, don’t forget to check out our other sweepstakes!