Monthly Archives: December 2011

Prologue to THE EYE OF THE WORLDMost Robert Jordan fans likely began their odyssey with his work by reading The Eye of the World, the first volume of his long-running Wheel of Time series. Despite being a Fantasy accessible to readers of all ages, The Eye of the World was released and marketed towards an adult market; of course, this didn’t hurt its success, but publisher Tor Books knew they were missing an opportunity to grow the audience among younger readers. In an effort to reach these readers, Tor released a split version of The Eye of the World in two volumes, titled From the Two River and To the Blight. Included in the first volume was a new prologue for the series, Earlier—Ravens that was designed to be more appealing to young readers than the misleading and ominous prologue that we’re all used to.

This prologue features a young Egwene and introduces readers to Emond’s Field years before the main plot of the series begins.

This far below Emond’s Field, halfway to the Waterwood, trees lined the banks of the Winespring Water. Mostly willows, their leafy branches made a shady canopy over the water near the bank. Summer was not far off, and the sun was climbing toward midday, yet here in the shadows a soft breeze made Egwene’s sweat feel cool on her skin. Tying the skirts of her brown wool dress up above her knees, she waded a little way into the river to fill her wooden bucket. The boys just waded in, not caring whether their snug breeches got wet. Some of the girls and boys filling buckets laughed and used their wooden dippers to fling water at one another, but Egwene settled for enjoying the stir of the current on her bare legs, and her toes wriggling on the sandy bottom as she climbed back out. She was not here to play. At nine, she was carrying water for the first time, but she was going to be the best water-carrier ever.

Pausing on the bank, she set down her bucket to unfasten her skirts and let them fall to her ankles. And to retie the dark green kerchief that gathered her hair at the nape of her neck. She wished she could cut it at her shoulders, or even shorter, like the boys. She would not need to have long hair for years yet, after all. Why did you have to keep doing something just because it had always been done that way? But she knew her mother, and she knew her hair was going to stay long.

Close to a hundred paces further down the river, men stood knee-deep in the water, washing the black-faced sheep that would later be sheared. They took great care getting the bleating animals into the river and back out safely. The Winespring Water did not flow as swiftly here as it did in Emond’s Field, yet it was not slow. A sheep that got swept away might drown before it could struggle ashore.

A large raven flew across the river to perch high in the branches of a whitewood near where the men were washing sheep. Almost immediately a redcrest began diving at the raven, a flash of scarlet that chattered noisily.

The redcrest must have a nest nearby. Instead of taking flight and maybe attacking the smaller bird, though, the raven just shuffled sideways on the limb to where a few smaller branches sheltered it a little. It peered down toward the working men.

Ravens sometimes bothered the sheep, but ignoring the redcrest’s attempts to frighten it away was more than unusual. More than that, she had the strange feeling that the black bird was watching the men, not the sheep. Which was silly, except . . . She had heard people say that ravens and crows were the Dark One’s eyes. That thought made goosebumps break out all down her arms and even on her back. It was a silly idea. What would the Dark One want to see in the Two Rivers? Nothing ever happened in the Two Rivers.

You can read the entirety of Earlier—Ravens via Wattpad; be warned, though, that it is certainly geared to young readers and begins the Wheel of Time with a decidedly different tone than the original prologue.

RIP, Darrell K. SweetTor.com‘s Irene Gallo is reporting that Darrell K. Sweet has passed away at the age of 77:

It is with tremendous sadness that I report that Darrell K. Sweet passed away this morning. Since the mid 1970s, Darrell’s illustrations defined many of fantasy’s most beloved series — Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, among literally thousands of genre book covers. An avid history buff, Darrell also spent much of his time painting frontiersmen and the American West. His paintings evoked the classic storytelling narration of the Golden Age illustrators. A Sweet cover promised an adventure to be had.

In recent years, Sweet’s artwork has been at the wrong end of several jokes and various criticisms across the blogosphere (including this blog), but there’s no denying, especially when looking at the artwork scattered throughout this post, that Sweet was an absolute legend of the Fantasy Art field and contributed greatly to the vision of Fantasy in the ’80s and ’90s. In fact, Sweet’s art, particularly his work on Terry Brooks’ novels, helped invigorate and really define my love for Fantasy as a teenager. He gave a magical vision to the stories bouncing around in my mind as I read.

RIP, Darrell K. SweetRIP, Darrell K. Sweet
RIP, Darrell K. Sweet

To those worrying about the final cover for Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, Gallo reports that Sweet’s painting was unfinished at the time of his passing:

I’m particularly sad that he was unable to finish Memory of Light, the final book on Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series the The Wheel of Time. He has been a vital part of this series since it’s beginning, 25 years ago. I know he was hoping, to the end, to be able to see this epic body of work to its completion.

It seems a silly thing to worry about in the wake of Sweet’s passing, but Sweet has been the cover artist for Jordan’s legendary series since it found its first readers over 20 years ago. Regardless of the quality of the most recent Wheel of Time covers, it is a shame that Sweet was not given the chance to finish the series and leave a lovingly consistent look to the entire series.

My guess is that Sweet’s draft will be adapted or finished by another artist (Greg Manchess?), similar to the treatment given to Jordan’s final novels, which are being finished by Brandon Sanderson. Only time will tell, however.

My thoughts are with his family, friends and loved ones.

The Book of Transformations by Mark Charan NewtonVia an interview between Newton and Rowena Cory Daniells:

The lead character, Lucan Drakenfeld, is a bit like a young lawyer-slash-detective, and certainly the polar opposite of a private eye (if anything, he’s a public eye). I’m really trying to steer away from noir pastiche because I feel that would be disrespectful to crime readers. The book is as much a crime novel as it is a fantasy novel. Imagine a mainstream writer trying their hand at a fantasy novel, and filled it with a paint-by-numbers story – they’d be strung up by the fanbase, which is why I’m not doing a paint-by-numbers crime novel, either.

Very much looking forward to this. Glad to see, also, that Newton’s a smart enough fellow to actively avoid falling into the tropes and cliches of the noir/crime genre. Some of the best moments on Newton’s first novel, Nights of Villjamur were the noirish mystery elements fused with Fantasy in investigator Rumex Jeryd’s storyline. Newton is playing to his strengths by embracing that kind of character and story (even if Jeryd did sometimes fall into those recognizable tropes that Newton refers to in this latest interview.)