exile-trilogy

“Yes, I will write Captal’s Tower,” Mealnie Rawn revealed to her fans on Kate Elliott’s blog yesterday. Anyone who’s followed Rawn’s career knows what huge news this is, but for those that aren’t familiar with Rawn’s Exiles trilogy, know that the path to the trilogy’s conclusion has been slow and fraught with peril.

“I’m very sorry it’s taken so long. My sincere thanks to all of you who have been so patient,” Rawn told fans. “I’m currently writing the fifth book in the Glass Thorns series, and after that my plan is to get to work on Captal’s Tower.”

The Captal’s Tower is the final volume of Rawn’s Exiles trilogy, which began in 1994 with The Ruins of Ambrai. Fans have been waiting for the end of Collan Rosvenir’s tale since the 1997 release of the second volume, The Mageborn Traitor. Personal issues, including clinical depression, prevented Rawn from completing work on The Captal’s Tower in the late ’90s.

This is, of course, fantastic news for fans of the trilogy, who have been waiting for 17 years for its conclusion, and great news for Rawn, who begins work on a project that has long cast a shadow over her other works of fiction during the past two decades. Time is often the best and only medicine for such illness. Though work on The Captal’s Tower stalled, Rawn has been a productive author during that period of time, publishing six novels and several short stories.

In the author’s note for her novel, Spellbinder, published in 2007, Rawn addressed the issue surrounding To Captal’s Tower. “To those who are disappointed that this isn’t another book — The Captal’s Tower or an offering the Golden Key or Dragon Prince universes — well, what can I tell you?” she wrote. “Life happens. So does clinical depression. [...] When I was able to write again, I wanted — needed — to do something entirely different than anything I’d done before.”

As one can imagine, Rawn has faced criticism similar to that directed toward popular authors such as George R.R. Martin, Scott Lynch, and Patrick Rothfuss. However, the enthusiasm and hunger for The Captal’s Tower remains strong and speaks to the quality of the first two volumes in the trilogy. This seems as good a time as any to reread Neil Gaiman’s wonderful post about reader entitlement.

There is no release date for The Captal’s Tower, and Rawn has said on her website that it can take anywhere from “18 months to five years” for her to write a book. So, be excited, but also patient.

For more Melanie Rawn-goodness, Judith Tarr’s recently began a re-read of The Dragon Prince trilogy for Tor.com, which is a great way to revisit a genre classic.

shonen-jump-banner

I’ve read an awful lot of fantasy, and watched an awful lot of anime, and both canvases are incredibly broad and notoriously hard to characterize.

When first discussing this essay, comparing and contrasting the traditional hero narrative in fantasy fiction and anime, with my friend Casey Blair, I found myself in a bit of difficulty. I’ve read an awful lot of fantasy, and watched an awful lot of anime, and both canvases are incredibly broad and notoriously hard to characterize.

Fantasy, after all, includes classics like Lord of the Rings, heroic secondary-world epics like The Wheel of Time, wainscot fantasy like Harry Potter, and the magical realism of The City & The City, covering sub-genres like urban fantasy and steampunk in between. It’s very hard to write a coherent comparison that covers both C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead, for all that we shelve them in the same genre.

Similarly, anime is unbelievably diverse, more so than all but the most hardcore of fans realize. (Because the US translation companies skim the cream of the crop, picking the hit shows and often passing over the stuff with less broad appeal.) From staples like Dragonball, Sailor Moon, or Naruto, anime goes all the way to Revolutionary Girl Utena (which is so symbolic as to be almost abstract) and Non Non Biyori (which is about a bunch of girls in a rural village chatting about nothing in particular). It includes every genre of speculative fiction we have in the US, and some we don’t. Read More »

gemini-cell-by-myke-cole

I’ll admit, this cover is totally against my type, but… I can’t stop drooling over it. It’s aggressive and flashy, more Hollywood than Rivendell, but equally arresting and difficult to ignore. Myke’s had some great covers in the past, and artist Larry Rostant is one of the few photographic illustrators that I trust to work on SF book covers. He’s got another winner here.

US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself – and his family – in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down. It should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty – as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realises his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark – especially about the fates of his wife and son…

Gemini Cell is the first volume in a new follow-up trilogy to Cole’s popular Shadow Ops series. It will be released on January 27th, 2015 by Ace Books.

claws_of_the_storm_by_najtkriss-d5bk9v7
Writing in Ink
to Samarkand

You can hear a distant thunder of hoofbeats, steadily growing louder as it approaches. It is a stratum of fantasy that looks beyond the boundary.

You can hear a distant thunder of hoofbeats, steadily growing louder as it approaches. It is a stratum of secondary world fantasy that looks beyond the boundary, the Great Wall of Europe. Secondary world fantasy that is inspired by Byzantium and the Silk Road, all the way to the western borders of China. Characters, landscapes, cultural forms derived from the Abbasid Caliphate, the Taklamakan Desert, and the Empires of Southeast Asia much more than Lancashire.

Thanks to the rising popularity of fantasy fiction, riding, in part, on the wave of Game of Thrones‘ massive success, many of science fiction and fantasy’s old paradigms and forms of have gotten a new look by virtue of new and diverse styles and varieties of stories, new and formerly inhibited voices (primarily women, genderqueer, and minorities), and new or formerly under-utilized wellsprings of inspiration. Elizabeth Bear, one of the many authors at the center of this paradigm shift, calls this “Rainbow SF.” As Science fiction readies its generation ship to move beyond the white-heteronormative-males-conquer-the-galaxy pastiche, popular fantasy is beginning to look beyond the faux-medieval western European that remained so popular throughout the genre’s formative decades. And this doesn’t even include the rise of World SF, as fiction from markets and voices beyond North America and England begin to be heard in the field.

I call such books “Silk Road Fantasy.” Read More »

marc-simonett-discworld-10marc-simonett-discworld-6marc-simonett-discworld-8marc-simonett-discworld-7marc-simonett-discworld-1marc-simonett-discworld-4marc-simonett-discworld-14marc-simonett-discworld-3marc-simonett-discworld-9marc-simonett-discworld-5marc-simonett-discworld-13

Since the passing of Josh Kirby in 2001, Pratchett’s series has gone through a long search for a new artist that could match the verve and energy of the legendary artist’s interpretation of Pratchett’s beloved world. At long last, it looks like we’ve found the answer: French artist Marc Simonetti. From Gone with the Wind, to Abbey Road, to The Wizard of Oz, Simonetti’s artwork features the same level of tribute and sophisticated satire that makes Pratchett’s work such a joy. If there’s ever been so perfect a pairing of author and artist, I’m unaware.

Above is just a small part of Simonetti’s Discworld art collection, and many more paintings, which are used for the UK covers, are ava on Simonetti’s website. Whether you’re familiar with Discworld or not, Simonetti’s art is an achievement in itself, and well worth spending some time with.