OstenArd.com, reporting on an announcement by Tad Williams’ wife and business partner, Deborah Beale, revealed that Williams has completed work on the first draft of The Witchwood Crown. This novel is the first volume of The Last King of Osten Ard trilogy, a follow-up to Williams’ genre-defining epic fantasy trilogy Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. Aside from one short story, “The Burning Man”, this is the first time that Williams has returned to the world of Osten Ard since publishing the final volume of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn in 1993.
“The Witchwood Crown is expected to be published in Spring 2016,” OstenArd.com said. “[It] will be followed by Empire of Grass and The Navigator’s Children.” Williams has previously announced that legendary artist Michael Whelan, who painted the covers for Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, will be responsible for the cover art for the North American edition of the trilogy from DAW Books.
Michael Whelan’s official website revealed that the legendary artist, who rarely works on cover art since semi-retiring to focus on fine art in the early 2000s, will be painting the cover art for Tad Williams’ The Last King of Osten Ard, Williams’ sequel trilogy to his modern classic, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn.
The official back cover blurb provides some hints to what awaits Whelan:
In this new trilogy, Williams journeys back to the magical land of Osten Ard and continues the story of beloved characters King Simon and Queen Miriamele, married now for thirty years, and introduces newcomer Prince Morgan, their heir apparent. Also expanded is the story of the twin babies born to Prince Josua and Lady Vorzheva—a birth heralded by prophecy, which has been the subject of feverish fan speculation since the release of To Green Angel Tower in 1993.
This is tremendous news for fans of Williams and Whelan, as the artist’s work has become synonymous with Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. Since the trilogy was released in the 90s, the North American editions have never featured different artwork. Let us hope, however, that we get more inspired work than Whelan’s last cover.
The first volume of The Last King of Osten Ard, The Witchwood Crown, will be released from DAW Books and Hodder and Stoughton in 2016. It is unclear if both publishers will use Whelan’s paintings, though the art that Whelan produced was not used on the Gollancz editions of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance.
Hold off on your re-reads, ardent Tad Williams fans! The author of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn announced via his Facebook page that the first volume in the upcoming sequel trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard is being delayed until Spring 2016.
“It appears as though the publication date of The Witchwood Crown has been pushed back to Spring 2016,” revealed OstenArd.com, “to allow time for editing of what is likely to be a massive manuscript.”
There was never an official release date for the novel, so calling this a delay might be somewhat disingenuous, but it is a pretty dramatic shift from the previously projected release date of Fall 2015. Given the length and complexity of Williams’ novels, this original date appeared quite ambitious in the first place.) Williams said on his website message board that he is 555+ pages into the manuscript, and is currently working on Chapter 32 of the novel, making it already longer than Stone of Farewell, though well off the pace to beat To Green Angel Tower, which had 60 chapters. “I’ve actually had time again to get into a rhythm,” he said.”It’s amazing how much faster it goes when I have dedicated working time and thinking time.”
If forced to choose an upcoming release that I’m most excited for (because on the Internet we’re binary and drastic), Tad Williams’ upcoming trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard, would likely be the answer. Yeah, over Ancillary Sword or The Thorn of Emberlain or The Doors of Stone. Williams’ original Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy means so much to me that a return to that realm comes with my highest levels of excitement and expectation. No matter what happens, I’ll be jumping in with both feet and it will be an experience worth savouring (as with all of Williams’ novels.)
So, naturally, I troll the Internet looking for updates and speculation about The Last King of Osten Ard, and Williams recently gave fans a peek at his progress on the series. Williams recently reported to his message board that work on the novel had slowed down due to a family emergency and “work pressure,” but that work is now continuing on the first volume of the trilogy, The Witchwood Crown. “I’m only at about page 400 of the book,” he said. “But I’m back into a stretch where I can work on it full-time again.”
Returning to the beloved world of Osten Ard is exciting for long-time fans of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, but Williams believes the new series will be just as enjoyable for entrenched fans and newcomers alike. “I believe I can now write a story worthy of those much-loved settings and characters,” he said in the series FAQ, “one that people who haven’t read the originals can enjoy, but which will of course mean more to those who know the original work. More than that, I feel I can do something that will stand up to the best books in our field. I have very high hopes. I’m excited by the challenge. And I’ll do my absolute best to make all the kind responses I’ve already had justified.”
Further updates will no doubt emerge when Williams does an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Reddit’s /r/fantasy forum on September 18th. So, if you have anything you want to pick his brain about, mysteries of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, if he realizes that The War of the Flowers is his secret best work, or what it’s like to have been a direct influence on the biggest fantasy series of the decade (Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire), now’s your chance!
The Witchwood Crown is still on track for a 2015 release from DAW Books. If you’re looking to join in the fun, now would be a perfect time to discover Tad Williams’ seminal Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy, beginning with The Dragonbone Chair.
News broke earlier this month that after a 21 year absence, Tad Williams is returning to Osten Ard, the fantastical world that put him on the fantasy map, with The Last King of Osten Ard, a sequel trilogy to his enormously popular and influential epic fantasy, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.
“I believe I can now write a story worthy of those much-loved settings and characters,” Williams said, explaining the origins of the unlikely sequel. “One that people who haven’t read the originals can enjoy, but which will of course mean more to those who know the original work. More than that, I feel I can do something that will stand up to the best books in our field. I have very high hopes. I’m excited by the challenge. And I’ll do my absolute best to make all the kind responses I’ve already had justified.”
Though the news was released earlier than Williams originally hoped, he’s only a few chapters into writing the first volume, he’s not shy on providing details of what fans can expect from the new trilogy.
“[The Last King of Osten Ard] is going to be at least as bursting-at-the-seams as the first one,” he said. “Since the originals are already written, I’m not going to spend anywhere near so much time setting up the world. Stuff is going to be happening from pretty much go. And one thing I can definitely tell you. LOTS of Norns. A much closer look at the Norns, collectively and individually, then we had in the first books. Much like what we learned of the Sithi in Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.” Read More »