- - January 6th, 2014
With a hugely popular writing career reaching back more than thirty years, some fantasy readers may think they know all there is to know about the books of bestselling fantasy author Terry Brooks and his seminal world, Shannara. But think again.
To celebrate the conclusion of Terry Brooks’ most recent trilogy, the Dark Legacy of Shannara, we thought we’d unearth a few facts about the world of Shannara which may surprise fantasy readers out there . . .
1. While influenced by The Lord of the Rings, the Shannara series is more influenced by William Faulkner, who wrote generational sagas where family secrets can destroy from within. Terry Brooks wrote his college senior thesis on Faulkner.
2. The Shannara series is set in a far future after the destruction of own world. That means Elves are living in our world right now…
3. Jon Favreau (Iron Man) and Miles Millar & Alfred Gough (Smallville) are trying to bring THE ELFSTONES OF SHANNARA (UK|AUS) to television à la Game of Thrones.
4. WARDS OF FAERIE (UK|AUS), BLOODFIRE QUEST (UK|AUS), and WITCH WRAITH (UK|AUS) are the three books comprising the Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy. They are an indirect sequel to THE ELFSTONES OF SHANNARA (UK|AUS), widely regarded as Terry’s best novel.
5. Terry created airships in the Shannara series because he thinks there should be a natural progression in technology from a medieval setting. He also grew tired of keeping track of long treks on horseback.
The Dark Legacy of Shannara is out now in paperback. Terry Brooks’ next novel, THE HIGH DRUIDS BLADE (UK|AUS), is published in March.
- - June 12th, 2013
Next week sees the release of the fantasy novel BEFORE THE FALL (UK|US|ANZ), the second Rojan Dizon novel by Francis Knight (following FADE TO BLACK – UK|US|ANZ).
Below, another Orbit fantasy star Benedict Jacka, author highly popular Alex Verus novels, interviews Francis on the towering fantasy world of Mahala . . .
Benedict Jacka: One way to describe the Rojan Dizon books would be dark fantasy – how did you end up moving into that genre, and what’s it like to write in compared to other things you’ve done in the past?
Francis Knight: By accident! It started off as an antidote to what I had been writing – romance – and went from there. I like to challenge myself each time I start something new, and this was it. Every genre has its restraints, and I wanted to explore not-so-nice “heroes” and not-so-Happy-Ever-After endings and lots of other things that a romance reader might be very disappointed to find in her book! In particular I wanted to explore how being a not particularly nice chap doesn’t have to prevent you from doing the right thing.
BJ: How difficult do you find it to write a protagonist of the opposite sex? Do you find yourself asking guys for advice on how a male character would react in a particular scene you’re writing?
FK: The first time it was hard, I have to say. I actually find I prefer it nowadays. It’s a lot easier to separate my characters from me for a start! Also I love trying to get inside a guy’s head, see what makes them tick. I do sometimes ask husband/male friends/betas for advice about whether a guy would do X – but it’s just not that simple. It’s not about whether he’s a guy or not, it’s about who he is. Some guys would do one thing, and others would do the opposite. They’re still both guys.
BJ: So, the scenes in Fade to Black which go into detail on exactly what Rojan and the other pain-mages do to themselves to fuel their pain magic . . . did you deliberately make them wince-inducing or did it just work out that way?
FK: I actually tried not to be too graphic there, but it was necessary to show something, I think, or it wouldn’t have been honest. There’s a fine line between glossing over something important and showing graphic things that are unnecessary. Of course, that line is going to be different for everyone. I inferred more than I showed (I think/hope), but that goes for lots of things. Read the rest of this entry »
- - December 21st, 2012
With the entire Sten Chronicles soon to be available in our Orbit omnibus editions – that’s BATTLECRY (UK|ANZ) containing books 1-3, JUGGERNAUT (UK|ANZ) containing books 4-6 and DEATH MATCH (UK|ANZ) containing books 7-8 – we got thinking about Sten’s humble beginnings and his rise to power.
In his previous guestpost Allan Cole described Sten as a ‘working class hero’ (like the John Lennon song!) and we wondered who else might qualify. We can’t all be heirs to large fortunes like Batman, Harry Potter or Lara Croft, (some of us can barely even make like a Lannister and pay our debts), so here are our top ten good guys who didn’t start off in life with many advantages at all . . .
Commander Vimes (Terry Pratchett’s ‘Discworld’ series)
Commander Vimes grew up in the Shades of Ankh Morpork, describing his family as lucky to live on a street so poor that there just wasn’t very much for the infamous criminal gangs of the Shades to steal.
Since his aristocratic marriage and his successes in running the City Watch, Vimes has been bestowed with many noble titles (including but not limited to “His Grace,” “His Excellency” and “his blackboard-monitorship”). Never has a man resented being part of ‘the gentry’ so much. One would almost think the Patrician was annoying him on purpose.
Rand al’Thor (Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time’ series)
Rand al’Thor originally lived a simple life as a farmer’s son in the sleepy village of Emond’s Field, where his biggest concern was trying to talk to girls without making a fool of himself. His life changed forever one night when the forces of darkness showed up and showed a keen interest in running him through with a blade.
Turns out that Rand is the Dragon Reborn, the saviour who is prophesied to save the world from the Dark One . . . but destroy it in the process. No pressure there, then.
Han Solo (Star Wars)
He might have married a princess and helped save the galaxy, but Han Solo had a rough start as an orphaned street urchin in a Corellian spaceport. Things were looking up when he became a pilot for the Imperial Navy, but he lost his commission when he defied orders and refused to skin a Wookiee named Chewbacca.
The two won the Millennium Falcon from the smuggler Lando Calrissian in a card game and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Weasley family (Harry Potter)
Draco Malfoy said that ‘all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford.’ They also have a whole lot of courage, room in their hearts to take in the orphaned Harry Potter and the courage to stand up to bullies like the Malfoys and other, richer ‘pureblooded’ wizards during both of Voldemort’s uprisings.
We couldn’t pick a favourite Weasley (who can?), so we decided we’d include the whole lot.
Davos Seaworth, (George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’)
Born in the Flea Bottom slums of King’s Landing, as a young man Davos captained a notorious smuggling ship. During Robert’s Rebellion he saved many lives by smuggling in food during the siege of Storm’s End castle.
Stannis Baratheon knighted him for this, which got him the nickname ‘the Onion Knight’, but demanded a grisly punishment for Davos’s earlier crimes, the ends of his fingers on one hand! Davos considered this fair, as long as Stannis carried out the punishment himself, and his continued loyalty is shown when he supports Stannis’s claim to the throne.
Rose Tyler (Doctor Who)
Rose grew up on a South London estate, living with her mother Jackie and working at Henrik’s Department Store. When the shop was attacked by aliens disguised as shop mannequins, she was saved by the Doctor and joined him in his travels in the TARDIS – saving his life in return when she worked out the meaning behind the strange words that had been following the duo through time – ‘Bad Wolf’.
Rose has met aliens, travelled backwards and forwards in time as well as visiting other dimensions, but she’s never forgotten her roots – she was the first of the Doctor’s companions to have her mobile phone modified so she could keep in touch with her mum. Read the rest of this entry »