Rejoice – Osten Ard is truly back

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o, The Heart of What Was Lost (or HOWWL – I just love this acronym) hit the shelves. Tad Williams’ long anticipated return to Osten Ard is finally out for everyone to read and cherish.

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This review is written by me, ylvs, and represents my view of the book. Other contributors to the site might add their own later. I was a beta reader of this book, following its development from first draft to final manuscript and I am delighted to finally be able to share my thoughts.

This is a must read for fans of MS&T. It is amazing how perfectly Tad manages to match the flavour and texture of the original. It just takes a few pages and you’re right back in Osten Ard. For someone loving this story as much as I do it feels like coming home …

It is also a fine starting point for those unfamiliar with Osten Ard. You never read MS&T and shy away from the sheer mass of it? Try this and find out if the world is to your liking. Of course the story has less depth without the background provided in the old books, but it is self contained and makes sense on its own.

When I first heard that Tad was writing a novelette (which finally became a short novel – anybody surprised?) about the aftermath of the final battle of MS&T I was not that excited. The victorious humans chasing their beaten fairy foes back to where they came from – that sounded more like “a story for the guys” than one for me. I do not mind reading about war and battles and people suffering but a book which is prominently about that? Nah, not really. But alas, it is a sequel to my favourite story of all time so of course I did read it and yes I do love it.

Why? First because it features one of my favourite characters from the old books: Sludig already was the hero of many deeds and battles and here he keeps doing the right thing although there never seems to be a reward or promotion for him. This is actually a sort of running gag in the novel, mentioned more than once – poor old Sludig.

Secondly HOWWL finally throws a floodlight on the Norns and their culture. In MS&T they were the unknown faceless enemy (apart from their queen Utuk’ku), here they are real people with hearts and souls and their enmity to humans and the century old hate for them becomes much more comprehensible. On a meta level this can be interpreted as a parable for us all: you cannot continue to blindly hate or fear the foe/stranger/immigrant you became familiar with. Little by little I felt my allegiance shifting from the human army seeking revenge and attempting to “root out evil for once and all” (which can also be called genocide) to the Norns trying to survive as a people and save their home.

And third and lastly what really makes this shine is the aliveness and humanity of the characters. Amidst war’s horror and desolation there is also loyalty, friendship and hope – on both sides.

Tad Williams is a master of ambivalence and changing perspectives and if a fantasy novel manages to make one question one’s view on the world it does deserve a label usually denied to genre fiction: literature.

Cover art for Tad Williams’ “The Heart of What was Lost” is revealed!

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oday the cover art for Tad Williams’ new long-awaited novel set in the Osten Ard universe, The Heart of What Was Lost, has been revealed. The art features a witchwood sword with a white rose hilt. The foreground shows a snow-covered landscape, with ominous, dark mountains in the background. The novel is a sequel to the original, now-classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” series; the new book will be published in January 2017, followed closely by four additional Osten Ard novels, titled The Witchwood Crown (release date: April 2017), Empire of Grass, The Navigator’s Children, and The Shadow of Things to Come.

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Williams describes the plot of The Heart of What Was Lost as: “[The novel] takes place in the half-year after the end of [To Green Angel Tower], and tells of the attempt by [Duke] Isgrimnur and a force largely made up of Rimmersgard soldiers to destroy the remaining Norns as they flee back to their homeland and their mountain. Of course, it gets a bit more complicated than that. It also answers some questions about what actually happened in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Green Angel Tower.”

The main characters  in the new novel will be the returning Rimmersmen characters Isgrimnur and Sludig; Isgrimnur is the Duke of Rimmergard in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, a point-of-view character. Sludig was his lieutenant, and a dynamic and important character in the original trilogy; it is he who accompanies Simon, Binabik and Qantaqa north from Naglimund Castle, skirting around the western and northern sides of Aldheorte Forest in their long, cold quest to retrieve the Great Sword Thorn from the “Rhymer’s Greate Tree”. He then travels south with Binabik and Qantaqa around the eastern edge of Aldheorte to the Stone of Farewell, where he becomes Prince Josua’s Man Friday, accompanying the prince south to Nabban and then back north to Hayholt Castle.

According to Williams’ announcement, The Heart of What Was Lost will continue almost directly from the ending of To Green Angel Tower, though it’s unclear what this exactly means for the story. The fall of Green Angel Tower happens one year before the ending of the classic series, as the Afterword, after Chapter 60, takes place one year after the fall of the tower.

The Heart of What Was Lost is now available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers worldwide.

Tad Williams’ “The Heart of What Was Lost” available for pre-order on Amazon

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ig news today, as Amazon has added Tad Williams’ The Heart of What Was Lost to its website as an item which may now be pre-ordered from Amazon. The new novel, a sequel to the original classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” books, takes place sometime shortly after the events of the original series.

Amazon gives the length of the novel as 368 pages in hardcover, with a publication date of January 3rd, 2017. Amazon also lists the Kindle edition as available for pre-order. Williams, the international bestselling author of more than twenty speculative fiction novels, including The War of the Flowers, Caliban’s Hour, and the “Otherland”, “Shadowmarch”, and “Bobby Dollar” series, talked a bit about some of the plot details of the new novel, including a few spoilers:

[R]eturning characters from MS&T are Isgrimnur and Sludig […] There are also a few others such as Akhenabi (a Norn magician) who had brief appearances in MS&T.

So two of the characters will be the returning Rimmersmen Isgrimnur and Sludig; readers of the original series will recall Isgrimnur, the aging Duke of Rimmergard in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, a major point-of-view character who throws his lot in with the rebel Prince Josua Lackhand of Erkynland in their quest to remove Josua’s brother, the treacherous King Elias, from the Dragonbone Chair.

Sludig was Isgrimnur’s lieutenant, and he was a dynamic and important character in the original trilogy. It is Sludig who accompanies Simon, Binabik and Binabik’s wolf companion Qantaqa north from Naglimund Castle, skirting around the western and northern sides of Aldheorte Forest in a desperate, cold attempt to retrieve the lost sword  Thorn from the “Rhymer’s Greate Tree.” Sludig and Binabik eventually return to Prince Josua with the Great Sword Thorn, but it is Simon who is knighted by the prince.

The Heart of What Was Lost is Williams’ first new Osten Ard novel since 1993’s bestselling To Green Angel Tower, and this first new novel will be followed by four additional novels. The second novel, The Witchwood Crown, is already scheduled for an April 2017 release.