Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’
There’s a whole fantasy trope based around the protagonist of the story discovering that, after the initial skirmish with the forces of evil, he or she is the Chosen One, the one person who has all the skills – mental, physical and magical – to defeat the big bad and win the day.
And we love hearing about them because we can dream we are them. We’re no longer ordinary; quite the opposite. We become, for the length of the tale, extraordinary; possessing such skills, strength and stamina that no other mortal can command. The Chosen One is the archetypal super-hero story: think of Greek and Persian legends, and you’re halfway there already.
But when the story ends, the clouds come over, the sky darkens, and the world becomes colder, harsher and less caring. We’re not the Chosen One. We’re nothing unusual. Not only can we not take the battle to the forces of evil, we don’t even know where to start. We simply have to accept the way things are, with no hope of changing the slow grind of life.
But hang on. That’s not necessarily the case. We know through experience that we can claim small, if temporary, victories that bring life and light to us and ours. And we know that being inspired by our fictional heroes and heroines can make us better people – G. K. Chesterton spoke the truth when he said: ‘Fairy tales don’t tell children that dragons exist; children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.’ Read the rest of this entry »
- - January 23rd, 2014
We’re delighted to unveil our cover for UNFETTERED (UK), an anthology of original fiction from some of the biggest names in fantasy, to be released digitally this February.
It will include stories from Patrick Rothfuss, Peter V. Brett, Mark Lawrence, Terry Brooks, Naomi Novik, Michael J. Sullivan, and even deleted scenes from A MEMORY OF LIGHT, the final book in Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s Wheel of Time series.
This collection is not only a fantastic anthology in its own right, but it’s also a testament to the generosity found in the science fiction and fantasy community.
When author Shawn Speakman was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011 and didn’t have health insurance due to a pre-existing condition, he incurred a huge medical debt that he was unable to pay. That’s when New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks offered to donate a short story that Shawn could sell to help cover those bills. He also recommended he ask the same of his other writer friends, and UNFETTERED is the impressive result.
The collection includes twenty-four tales, including an extra story for the UK edition from Speakman himself. As the title suggests, the writers were free to contribute whatever they wished, resulting in a truly unique selection from some of the brightest minds in fantasy fiction.
UNFETTERED will be released digitally in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and other territories on 20th February 2014. It is available for pre-order from online retailers now.
The Spiritwalker Trilogy is an epic fantasy coming-of-age-and-revolution in a gas-lamp setting written in first person from the point of view of a single character. While I really enjoyed writing in the voice of Cat Barahal, the single character first person viewpoint also presented challenges. For example, I could only ever see other characters as Cat sees them, and any incident that she does not herself personally witness she can only report on (or hear a report of) later.
As I finished up COLD STEEL (US | UK | AUS), the third in the trilogy, I decided to write a short story “coda” from the point of view of one of the other characters, Cat’s beloved cousin Beatrice (Bee). I also decided that because Bee is an artist I wanted the story to be illustrated. I’ve written about “The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal” elsewhere (extensively here where I talk in detail about the process of creating a chapbook with illustrations).
The artist Julie Dillon did a fabulous job with the black and white illustrations for the Secret Journal. I also commissioned her to do a couple of color pieces, more for my own selfish desire to have the illustrations than anything else (although we are talking about doing a limited edition print run).
Julie did two spectacular pieces based on passages from COLD STEEL.
One, “Rising from the Sea of Smoke,” was debuted over at A Dribble of Ink last week. You can see it there or on Tumblr.
Today, Orbit Books is debuting the second piece, “Amazons.” (Click for a larger view.)
I asked Julie to illustration the following passage:
A gust of wind rattled the branches. A drum rhythm paced through the woods. On its beat I heard a woman’s voice call out a verse, answered by a chorus of women singing the response.
A column of soldiers marched into view, although they were almost dancing, so proud and mighty were they, and every single one a woman.
Four drummers led them while a fifth struck a bell, the drummers prancing and stepping on their way with every bit of flash and grin that any young man could muster. Their shakos were as jaunty as my own. All wore uniform jackets of dark green cloth piped with silver braid. Some wore trousers, while others preferred petticoat-less skirts tailored for striding. Most wore stout marching sandals laced along the length of calf, brown legs and black legs and white legs flashing beneath skirts tied up to the knee. Four lancers walked in the first rank, tasseled spears held high, while the rest carried rifles and swords. A banner streamed on the wind. It depicted an antlered woman drawing a bow.
Of the piece, Julie writes:
“I made the viewpoint lower to the ground so the viewer is looking up at them a little rather than looking down, which I thought might give them a somewhat larger than life feel. I also tried to make their poses and gestures, most particularly the arms of the amazons in the front row, have a nice flow of movement between them, to try to convey the sense that they are moving a little more energetically.”
Read the first chapter of COLD MAGIC (US | UK | AUS), book one of the Spiritwalker trilogy.
- - December 18th, 2013
Coming in March is something new and very exciting from one of the all-time greats of epic fantasy writing.
THE HIGH DRUID’S BLADE is a brand new title from Terry Brooks. It’s the first Defenders of Shannara novel – one of three new stand-alone novels set in his thrilling world of Shannara.
Here for the first time is our UK version of the cover in all its glory, using the stunning artwork from illustrator Bastien Lecouffe Deharme. We feel this new look is just right for Terry’s books – it’s fresh and dynamic and really reflects how Terry’s writing is as breath-taking as ever.
THE HIGH DRUID’S BLADE features a brand new hero Paxon Leah – a young man who believes himself to be ordinary, but fate will prove him to be very different indeed . . . It’s one of the most exciting fantasy stories I’ve read in a long time! Secrets are revealed, powers are unleashed, and you’ll see a whole new side to Shannara you never knew existed. Read on for the blurb:
Legend has it that Paxon Leah is descended from the royals and warriors who once waged war with magical weapons. But those heroes are long gone now, and there is nothing enchanted about the antique sword that hangs above Paxon’s fireplace. Paxon leads a quiet life – until extraordinary circumstances overturn his simple world . . . and rewrite his destiny.
When his sister is abducted by a mysterious stranger, Paxon races to her rescue with the only weapon he can find. He is stunned to discover powerful magic unleashed within him – and within his ancestors’ ancient blade.
But his formidable new ability is dangerous in untrained hands. Paxon must master it quickly, as his near-fatal clash with a dark sorcerer won’t be his last. Leaving behind home and hearth, he journeys to the keep of the Druid order to learn the secrets of magic and earn the right to become their sworn protector . . .
Also, don’t forget that the paperback edition of the last book in Terry’s Dark Legacy of Shannara series, WITCH WRAITH, is released on the last day of this year. It’s a perfect end to the series, and a great way to round off 2013!
Ever since I decided to use Francis as my pen name, the subject has cropped up. Why? Is there some gender reason? Is it because you’re writing from a male first person perspective? In part that’s true – although Francis is a family name, which is why I chose it initially.
Writing as a supposed male has had some interesting side effects though. I’ve surprised a few people who thought I was male, which I’m taking as a compliment about getting the character right. And the other area that surprised me was the idea of author inserts, and the assumptions that come with that.
As a reader, I completely understand the temptation to assume a character (especially in first person) is, somehow, a representation of the author as they are, or who they wish they were. Perhaps because first person is so personal and you get so far inside the character’s head, that it’s difficult to see how they could possibly not be some sort of self-insert. Read the rest of this entry »
- - November 26th, 2013
Released today is LAST TO RISE, the third and final novel in the Rojan Dizon series by Francis Knight, following FADE TO BLACK and BEFORE THE FALL. The ending to this action fantasy series is intensely powerful and moving.
Things are at breaking point for the towering vertical city of Mahala. It has long been a city plagued by corruption, by the exploitation of the weakest – where the pain of the downtrodden has endlessly paid for the whims and fancies of the privileged elite.
But now things are reaching boiling point – as the city is under siege and Rojan’s desperate efforts to save the city using his forbidden magic are driving him further and further into the depths of madness. Although he’d gladly see this city burn, he will give his all to save those who mean something to him – as they’re all he’s got left.
This quote from Publisher’s Weekly really sums up how magnificent it is:
Knight’s Rojan Dizon trilogy conclusion presses its growing cast of characters into intense moments of loyalty and sacrifice to close with a sharp turn into darker, more rewarding territory . . . With Rojan’s best friend anchoring him to humanity on one side and his exhausting, bloody, agonizing magic driving him closer to insanity on the other, the novel takes on a propulsive, fractured energy that mirrors Rojan and Mahala’s increasingly frantic struggle for survival.
The series, which has grown in complexity since the beginning, reaches a profoundly moving conclusion that is both unexpected and entirely satisfying.
If you haven’t picked up the Rojan Dizon novels yet (starting with FADE TO BLACK) I urge you to give them a go, as it’s one of the most dynamic and readable series around from a very promising new British fantasy talent.
- - November 20th, 2013
We’re very proud to present the cover for THIEF’S MAGIC, a thrilling new fantasy novel coming from the number 1 bestselling author Trudi Canavan next May. The illustration is by the very talented Lee Gibbons.
THIEF’S MAGIC is book one in the brand new Millennium’s Rule series. Here in the Orbit office we all pounced on this manuscript as soon as it came in. And we haven’t been able to stop talking about it since – because I’m excited to say it’s truly one of the best things Trudi’s ever written…
Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store for readers next May:
In a world where an industrial revolution is powered by magic, Tyen, a student of archaeology, unearths a sentient book called Vella. Once a young sorcerer-bookbinder, Vella was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been collecting information, including a vital clue to the disaster Tyen’s world faces.
Elsewhere, in a land ruled by the priests, Rielle the dyer’s daughter has been taught that to use magic is to steal from the Angels. Yet she knows she has a talent for it, and that there is a corrupter in the city willing to teach her how to use it – should she dare to risk the Angels’ wrath.
But not everything is as Tyen and Rielle have been raised to believe. Not the nature of magic, nor the laws of their lands.
Not even the people they trust.
If you want to be the first to hear news on Trudi and her books, then “like” the official Trudi Canavan Facebook page. This is where we’ll be releasing exclusive extracts, videos and competitions before they’re available anywhere else – so make sure you don’t miss out!
Historian Bruce Catton, in one of his many books about the American Civil War, notes that civilization is a mask, and war gives permission to remove the mask and reveal the beast that always lurks beneath. I wager that one reason post-apocalyptic stories are so enduring is that the end of the world is one of those times when you find out what you—and your neighbors—are really made of.
ICE FORGED (US | UK | AUS) is a post-apocalyptic medieval adventure, set in the unlucky kingdom of Donderath. A devastating war with its neighboring rival has the unexpected—and unintentional—effect of destroying the bonds that made magic a power that could be controlled by people. Not only is the kingdom devastated by fire and storm, but the magic upon which their culture depended is now no longer controllable. In the chaos and anarchy that follow, my characters not only find out what they’re made of, but they discover a world that is now theirs to remake. Of course, they’re not the only ones who have ideas on what the new reality should look like—and that’s when things get interesting.
Whether you call it Catton’s “beast,” Freud’s “Id” or Jung’s “Shadow,” there’s always tension regarding the choices to be made. Perhaps Dumbledore said it best when he talked about the choice “between what is right, and what is easy.” Or maybe Babylon 5 was onto something in the dichotomy between the Vorlons, who asked “Who are you?” and the Shadows, who asked “What do you want?” When there are no rules, no law and no social constraint, men (and women) either rise to be the hero, or sink to their baser nature. Lord of the Flies is always just one catastrophic power grid failure away.
Blaine McFadden, in ICE FORGED, is acquainted with his shadow side. He killed his father, a minor lord, to stop him from abusing Blaine’s sister. Blaine expected to die for his crime, but the king was “lenient” and sent Blaine instead to a brutal prison colony in the arctic north, a place from which no one ever returned. Blaine survived six harsh years, first as an inmate and then as a convict-colonist, during which he learned just what he was made of and what he would do to survive. When the homeland is destroyed and magic fails, Blaine discovers he might be the only one who can restore the magic and put things right. He’s got a choice to make. Read the rest of this entry »
- - October 9th, 2013
We hope you’ve been enjoying the Art Department’s behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Shadowdance covers. The photos and video footage that came out of the photo shoot were phenomenal! If you haven’t seen them yet, what are you waiting for?
Today, we thought we’d treat you all to a set of wallpapers featuring the awesome cover art from A DANCE OF CLOAKS to celebrate the book’s release.
1024 x 768 | 1280 x 800 | 1440 x 900| 1680 x 1050 | 1920 x 1200 | iPhone | iPad | Facebook
To find out more about A DANCE OF CLOAKS and the Shadowdance series, check out this interview with David Dalglish or read an excerpt. Books two and three will be out this fall, so don’t forget to pre-order A DANCE OF BLADES (US | UK | AUS) and A DANCE OF MIRRORS (US | UK | AUS). With the breakneck pace of these novels, you won’t want to wait a minute longer than necessary for the next exciting installment.
Praise for A DANCE OF CLOAKS:
- - October 8th, 2013
The big day is finally here, A DANCE OF CLOAKS by David Dalglish releases today! Look for it online and in stores everywhere. And if you haven’t been following along, be sure to check out the art team’s excellent behind-the-scenes look at the development of the Shadowdance covers.
In high school I devoured R. A. Salvatore’s Drizzt books. I loved the sense of adventure, the epic feel to the characters, but as is probably common when you read any author far too much, quirks here and there started to annoy me (a few of which I’m sure aren’t even Salvatore’s fault). The biggest was the sense that things were kept toned down to appeal to a wider audience. The really adult stuff was only hinted at, the darker stuff kept safely in the shadows.
That’s kind of a problem given how much I love villains. Love them. Probably too much, really. This is something the Shadowdance series actually suffers from a bit, because with so many morally gray characters I don’t have too many out and out villains to give the spotlight to (though I’m finally bringing in one such character in book 5, and by god I’m having a ball with him). For as far back as I can remember, I’ve disliked bland, two-dimensional villains. Even worse, though, are villains that aren’t really villains, just men that happen to be on the opposite side of a conflict with the heroes. Don’t mistake me here, I like it when it’s done well…but deep down I crave a villain like the Joker from the Dark Knight. I want a villain who can grab someone’s gun, put it to his head, and growl about how chaos is fair. I want a villain that everyone in the world can see is evil, yet at the same time, cannot deny the pull they have, the sheer charisma that surrounds them. Doing that means treading into the dark waters. Doing that means characters you love might stumble and fall.
While I was still in college I began what would eventually become my very raw and uneven Half-Orc books. I took everything I loved and tried to boil it all down to its very essence. I’ve never been confident in my world-building, my setting up of cities and families. But I knew what I wanted my characters to go through, the story I wanted to tell. I wanted it brutal, with characters that wouldn’t always live up to the standards they desired for themselves (kind of like, you know, real people). I had one main character’s daughter die, and there was no one at fault, and yet everyone’s at the same time. Yet no matter how grand the fights, how ridiculously over the top, I’d do whatever I could to keep the fights personal, and the reader invested.
That is what I do, what I try every time I sit down to write. When the fights begin, whether it be massive armies, assassins, paladins, or mythical creatures, I try to go to the furthest extreme of awesomeness in the conflict…yet when it all calms down, it’s about a man loving his brother, yet also hating him for the choices he’s made and the loved ones he’s hurt. Or a paladin torn over his friendship for a man his god calls for him to execute. Or in A DANCE OF CLOAKS (US | UK | AUS), it’s about a son wishing he could find approval from his father without being the monster his father would have him become.
I guess if asked what sets me apart, what makes me special, I’d say that is it. No pretention. I’ll never try to impress anyone with my vocabulary or research or ability to describe a scene. But I think I can make you care about my characters. I think I can make you hurt when one dies, and cheer when the villains get the crap beat out of them, all while blazing through my book at a breakneck pace. I’ll never treat you like an idiot, nor avoid the issues in their lives that might not have easy answers. In other words: I’ll entertain you. Honestly, if I can do that, I feel like I’ve done my job.
After devouring A DANCE OF CLOAKS, be sure to pre-order A DANCE OF BLADES (US | UK | AUS) and A DANCE OF MIRRORS (US | UK | AUS) – coming in November and December.