Monthly Archives: October 2010

Brent Weeks, author of THE BLACK PRISM – Photo by Travis Johnson PhotographyBrent Weeks needs little introduction. Since releasing The Night Angel Trilogy just two years ago, Weeks has become one of the most popular new writers of Epic Fantasy. His tale of wetboys and guild rats put him on the map, but Weeks is back with The Black Prism, the first volume in The Lightbringer Series, and he’s ready to prove that the success of The Night Angel Trilogy was no fluke.

Brent and I sat down (err… traded emails) and chatted about everything from Matchlock-Fantasy to the difference between bloggers and casual readers, magic systems to Mary Robinette Kowal, plot twists to building Fantasy worlds, and, of course, his latest novel.

Brent’s a cool dude, and this was one of the easiest and most enjoyable interview’s I’ve conducted. This guy gets what it takes to be a writer in the 21st century. But, let’s let Brent do the talking, yeah?

The Interview

 

Welcome, Brent! Thanks for taking the time to drop by A Dribble of Ink.

   Delighted to be here, Aidan. Thanks for inviting me to your, um, office.

The Black Prism has several point-of-view characters, but mainly jumps between Gavin Guile and Kip – one a young boy caught in a political hurricane, the other is the most powerful man in the world, and a veteran of countless battles, political, religious and physical. Was it difficult for you to jump between these two very different characters? What does the contrast between them add to The Black Prism?

   No, it wasn’t difficult. There are plenty of things about writing that are hard, but for me getting into different characters’ shoes isn’t one of them. It’s actually one of the most fun parts of what I do–and there are a bunch of reasons, structurally and artistically, why I chose characters who were so very different from each other. I try to give myself new challenges with every book I write–harder challenges, so that I keep developing my skills. Something that’s hard in fiction is to take a character at the top of the world and make you care about him. That’s Gavin Guile. He’s not only powerful, he’s rich, he’s intelligent, he’s handsome, he’s universally respected, he gets whatever he wants without it seeming like he works for it–pretty much everything that would make you want to hate a guy. At the very least, a character in that position is hard to identify with, even if you admire him.

   Compare that with the typical fantasy hero: a guy who comes from nothing and grows in power until he can face the Big Bad credibly. That typical underdog story–which is Spiderman, Harry Potter, Harry Dresden, and ten thousand others not done so well–has some big advantages with an audience. It’s easy to root for an underdog and to identify with him, because we’ve all been there. There’s a triumph we feel as he or she triumphs–we’ve been there with them through the thin, and they are us, so when they finally get the payoff, we’re getting it too. It’s a powerful tool in any writer’s arsenal–and I decided to forgo it this time.

   So if I’ve got a main character who’s intriguing at first, but is going to take you a while to really fall in love with, I’ve put a hurdle in readers’ way. Being the nice storyteller I am, I thought I’d help them over the hurdle. That help is Kip–who is a ways away from being a stereotypical boy-out-to-save-the-world himself. He’s a fat mixed-race kid with a smart mouth and a single mom; he’s got a crush on a girl who doesn’t like him back, and he doesn’t like himself all that much. To balance that, he’s funny and he underestimates himself constantly: he’s braver, smarter, and better than he thinks he is.

   One is the vastly privileged insider, and the other is naïve, young outsider. Their differences bring different perspective to the world itself and the problems their world faces.
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Wonderful Stylized Maps of GRRM's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' from J.E. Fullerton Wonderful Stylized Maps of GRRM's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' from J.E. Fullerton Wonderful Stylized Maps of GRRM's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' from J.E. Fullerton

From artist J.E. Fullerton, we’ve got a collection of wonderful, classically-styled maps of various regions and cities from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. I love all of the little Where’s Waldoesque easter eggs hidden throughout, creating a fun game for fans of the series. It’s also great to see the maps realized in a way that could represent what a decorative map in that world might resemble (like a Westeros version of the Beyeux Tapestry or old maps from the 1500s), albeit in a more cartoony fashion.

Nice high resolution versions of the images I posted are available in his DeviantArt Gallery, along with 15 more maps on his gallery, including The Vale, Old Town, Beyond the Wall and The Stormlands.

Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

It seems like just yesterday that we were in the middle of a media blitz for The Gathering Storm, the first in the Brandon Sanderson-penned Wheel of Time novels, and now we’re already getting a sniff at the release of the penultimate volume, Towers of Midnight. To go alongside the previously released prologue and Chapter One: Bad Apples, Tor.com has an audio version of the second chapter, just in time to whet your appetite for the official release, just a couple of weeks away! From what I gather, it’s a Perrin heavy chapter, so gauge your excitement appropriately.

You can listen to Chapter Two: Questions of Leadership on Tor.com. As always, to get the coolest features, you’ve got to be a member (it’s free, and easy to sign up!)

For those interested, the chapter is being discussed in full spoilerific glory here.

The Last Page by Anthony Huso

The Last Page

AuthorAnthony Huso

Hardcover
Pages: 432
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: August 17th, 2010
ISBN-10: 0765325160
ISBN-13: 978-0765325167

SYNOPSIS
READ AN EXCERPT


Every year, Fantasy is inundated with novels that promise to the be the ‘next big thing’, and they almost always seem to be familiar stories, harping on the successes of the genre’s classics. Sometimes they find the success they promise (like Patrick Rothfuss’ enormous hit The Name of the Wind), and other times they wither away and never live up to the hype heaped upon their shoulders (like Robert Newcomb’s lamentable The Fifth Sorcerer); then, there are novels like Anthony Huso’s The Last Page – they’re small, quiet releases that genuinely embrace the genre’s roots, but instead of imitating their influences, they set out to create something new, something fresh.

At its very heart, The Last Page is a love story. Sure, on the surface its got prophecy and grimoires, armies and sword fights, but the true strength and soul of the novel lies in the relationship between Sena Iilool and Caliph Howl. The whirlwind love of these two is like many real-world relationships, it never quite knows itself and often redefines its rules and expectations on a whim. Instead of setting them up with love-at-first-site, Huso builds a realistic, nuanced relationship between them, as caustic as it is lustful. Sena and Caliph are both powerful figures in their own right and hidden between the lines of their tryst are powerplays and hidden agendas which sometimes align, but often contradict. They use each other constantly, but always in the name of love and lust. Like many relationships, the true root of their love (if it even exists), lies deep at the bottom of their muddy emotions and greedy machinations. It’s a refreshing change of pace in a genre that so often has the kitchenboy falling madly in love with a princess by page three.
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