Tad Williams reveals “Empire of Grass” cover, answers Reddit questions

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oday, legendary Science Fiction and Fantasy writer Tad Williams, author of the “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” novels as well as the “Otherland”, “Shadowmarch”, and “Bobby Dollar” series, participated in an “Ask Me Anything” Reddit chat with readers. During the AMA chat, he revealed the cover of his latest novel (sixth in the Osten Ard series), Empire of Grass, which will be published in May 2019.

The new cover, as with all previous full-length Osten Ard novels, was painted by the uber-talented and award-winning Michael Whelan. The beautiful cover art features one of the elvish-like Sithi at the edge of Aldheorte Forest, surrounded by ruins of one of the lost Gardenborn cities. Behind the trees, grassland can be seen. Since the cover has been disseminated, we at Treacherous Paths can present it here.

empire of grass by tad williams

There has, of course, been some speculation about which one of the Gardenborn settlements is depicted in Whelan’s painting. Nine great cities were named in Williams’ original Osten Ard novels: Nakkiga, Enki e-Shayosaye, Da’ai Chikiza, Kementari, Hikehikayo, Asu’a, Mezutu’a, Jhina T’senei, and Tumet’ai were named as the nine. But Nakkiga and Tumet’ai are now covered in ice, Mezutu’a and Asu’a are deep underground, and Jhina T’senei was lost under the waves. Da’ai Chikiza and parts of Asu’a were previously depicted by Whelan in earlier artwork, as was a smaller settlement, Sesu’adra.

The full cover artwork, including the wrap-around (showing the backside as well), can be found at Michael Whelan’s official site.

thewitchwoodcrownHeart_of_what_was_lost_Tad_WilliamsDuring the Ask Me Anything Reddit chat, Williams was asked by many long-time readers about his plans for the upcoming novels (which include Empire of Grass, The Navigator’s Children, and The Shadow of Things to Come, among other projects). The questions from readers included some spoilers for The Heart of What was Lost and The Witchwood Crown, both new Osten Ard novels published in 2017.

One reader asked, “Norn society changed a lot during this time span, with an obvious example being the mixing with mortals but several other things can probably be included. Is it fair to say that this process is due to the change of leadership from set-in-her-ways-for-millennia (ultra-conservative if I may) Utuk’ku to a little more flexible Akhenabi and maybe some others?”

Williams responded: “The long-term direction of Norn society will definitely be an important part of the third volume. Hard to say more without spoiling all the little hints smuggled into the first two volumes.”

Another reader, named Novander, writes, “I was reading Memory, Sorrow and Thorn around the time I was starting university and didn’t want my screen name to be something horribly goth and edgy anymore, so I stole your word for November in Osten Ard, which may be part of my legal name now. So my question is, you cool with that?”

(We at Treacherous Paths sincerely hope Novander’s last name isn’t Holyfield).

Another reader, a Christopher Paolini, writes: “Dude! It’s been ages! (Life has a way of throwing curveballs at us all.) I really enjoyed The Heart of What Was Lost, and I’m finally — FINALLY — starting in on the Witchwood Crown. My questions are these: Given the size of your main novels, how do you go about tackling them, both before and during the writing? As I remember, you tend to be pretty methodical in your approach. What habits have you found helpful? What’s your day-to-day process like? Also, what was it like returning to the world and characters of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn after so long?

Williams responded, “Hi, Christopher! Yes, it’s been ages — please give my love to all your family. My day to day process is very much about preparing to write as much as writing. I like to spend a lot of time figuring out — by trying lots of thought experiments — how to move the story forward appropriately, and what kind of scenes would make good reading. I spend a lot of time lying down thinking. Some would say I am merely napping, but that’s a terrible, unfair lie. (I only spend part of that time napping.) Returning to Osten Ard has been an unexpectedly rich and satisfying experience for me, which is why I no longer say I won’t do this kind of thing. In fact, I’m planning to write more Osten Ard after this set of linked projects, although I don’t know if that will necessarily be the next thing I write.”

A fourth reader writes: “Ok, my question: are we going to see what happened to Prince Josua? I’m not expecting a happy family reunion or anything, but… He’s not just gone, is he? Also, the ending to Witchwood Crown… Holy shit. How’d you pull that judo move? I never saw it coming…”

Williams responds, “Question one: I guarantee we’ll find out quite a bit more about what happened to Josua. More than that I cannot say now. Question two: Good! Thank you! That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. We writers love to deliver an honest shock every now and then, and it’s especially difficult with my readers, because they’re smart and they’ve read a lot of books, so they’re often trying to outthink me and guess what’s going to happen.”

More of Williams’ AMA thread can be found here.

 

New video trailer for Tad Williams’ “The Witchwood Crown”

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enguin Books has just released a new video trailer for Tad Williams’ The Witchwood Crown, the fifth volume in his international bestselling Osten Ard saga. Over epic music, the camera pans over legendary artist Michael Whelan’s illustrations of the Great Swords of Osten Ard: Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.

New Covers for “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” revealed!

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oday, Random House website Suvudu.com revealed three brand-new re-issue covers for international bestselling author Tad Williams‘ classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” dark fantasy series. The covers feature beautiful new cover art by legendary science fiction/fantasy artist Michael Whelan, who painted the original covers for “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” almost thirty years ago.

The updated artwork is the first major revamp of the classic covers of The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower since the books first went to print in the late 1980s/early 1990s, at least in America. Whelan, winner of fifteen Hugo Awards and three World Fantasy Awards for best artist, is known for his detailed and painstaking work, which often involves months of research and manuscript reading.

The new covers will appear on updated U.S. DAW Books trade paperback editions of the original trilogy, with a newly-revised edition of The Dragonbone Chair scheduled to appear in July 2016, followed by Stone of Farewell in September 2016, and To Green Angel Tower in November 2016. These volumes will be closely followed by two brand-new Osten Ard novels: The Heart of What Was Lost in January 2017 and The Witchwood Crown in April 2017. Three or four additional novels are planned, with The Witchwood Crown being the first volume in the highly-anticipated sequel series “The Last King of Osten Ard”.

The-Dragonbone-ChairFirst up is the new cover for The Dragonbone Chair, the cardinal volume, which features a blurb by George R. R. Martin, author of the bestselling A Game of Thrones: “Inspired me to write my own seven-book trilogy… It’s one of my favorite series.”

Whelan’s artwork accurately depicts the sword Minneyar, also known as “Year of Memory” or simply Memory, one of the Three Great Swords spoken of in the Mad Priest Nisses’ ancient prophecy:

“When frost doth grow on Claves’ bell
And shadows walk upon the road
When water blackens in the well
Three Swords must come again.

“When Bukken from the earth do creep
And Hunën from the heights descend
When Nightmare throttles peaceful sleep
Three Swords must come again.

“To turn the stride of treading Fate
To clear the fogging Mists of Time
If Early shall resist too Late
Three Swords must come again.”

Stone-of-FarewellScheduled for September, the new cover for Stone of Farewell features the Great Sword Sorrow, also known in the Sithi language as Jingizu. Whelan’s illustration accurately portrays the double-hilted sword, which is made of both iron and witchwood, two materials which were considered inimicable, perhaps because neither the iron nor the witchwood are native to the lands of Osten Ard: iron was brought from Ijsgard east to Osten Ard on King Elvrit’s longboat Sotfengsel, while witchwood was brought westward to Osten Ard by the undying Sithi on their eight great ships.

The great sword Sorrow is described in the text: “… in a sheath at [King Elias’] side was the sword with the strange crossed hilt […] there was something queer and unsettling about the blade… [It] had a strange double guard, the cross pieces making; with the hilt, a sort of five-pointed star. Somewhere, deep in Simon’s self, he recognized this last sword. Somewhere, in a memory black as night, deep as a cave, he had seen such a blade…”

The new cover contains a blurb from author Patrick Rothfuss (“The Kingkiller Chronicle”): “Groundbreaking… changed how people thought of the genre, and paved the way for so much modern fantasy. Including mine.”

To-Green-Angel-Tower

The third volume, To Green Angel Tower, is scheduled for a November 2016 re-release. The cover features Michael Whelan’s depiction of the Great Sword named Thorn.

The text describes the sword thusly: “it was a sword like no other he had ever seen: long as a man’s arms spread wide, fingertip to fingertip, and black. The purity of its blackness was unmarred by the colors that sparkled on its edge, as though the blade was so supernaturally sharp that it even sliced the dim light of the cavern into rainbows. Had it not been for the silver cord wrapped around the hilt as a handgrip— leaving the uncovered guard and pommel as pitchy as the rest of its length— it would have seemed to bear no relationship to mankind at all. Rather, despite its symmetry, it would have seemed some natural growth, some pure essence of nature’s blackness extruded by chance in the form of an exquisite sword.”

The cover features a blurb from author Christopher Paolini (Eragon): “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is one of the great fantasy epics of all time.” We at Treacherous Paths can’t disagree.

We will keep readers up to date on more news as soon as we’re authorized to release it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title of Fifth New Osten Ard Novel Announced

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he title of Tad Williams’ fifth new Osten Ard novel was made public this week on Facebook. The novel, which will be an interquel rather than a strict sequel, will be named The Shadow of Things to Come.

Williams, an international bestselling author, has hinted about this fifth novel in the past, but the title of the new book has remained under wraps until recently. In a previous Facebook posting, Williams wrote:

I would guess that the second short novel [The Shadow of Things to Come] will come out between The Witchwood Crown and Empire of Grass, but that’s a guess until we work out the schedule with publishers. The story at this stage is one of a number of possibilities, so I think I’ll talk about it next newsletter, or perhaps when actually I’m writing it and it’s jumping like the tree frogs around here whenever we get some rain. All the possibilities are pretty interesting, I have to say.

Tad Williams states that Simon Snowlock is less of a cynic than his wife, Miriamele. Possible plot point?

To Green Angel Tower (1993)

In all, five new books set in Williams’ eldritch world of Osten Ard will see worldwide publication over the next few years. Publishers in the US, UK, Germany, and the Netherlands have already been announced. The first new novel, The Heart of What Was Lost, was originally envisioned as a short story, but like many of Williams’ stories, expanded greatly in the telling. The original working title of this novel was The Heart of Regret, but that title has since been changed. The Heart of What Was Lost is set immediately after the events of To Green Angel Tower (published in 1993), and could be seen as a sequel novel to Williams’ original classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” books:

The story [of The Heart of What Was Lost] follows [Duke] Isgrimnur [of Elvritshalla] as he leads an army against the Storm King’s defeated warriors, who are looting and killing as they fall back to Nakkiga, their mountain home in the far north.

The Heart of What Was Lost is expected to be published in January 2017, followed by The Witchwood Crown in late Winter 2017. This second new Osten Ard novel will continue the story some thirty years later. After The Witchwood Crown will come The Shadow of Things to Come, Empire of Grass, and The Navigator’s Children, though not necessarily in that order.

Williams has given several interviews over the last year regarding several of the new Osten Ard books. We will provide more details on OstenArd.com regarding these highly-anticipated new novels when possible; alternately, you can subscribe to Williams’ official newsletter.

 

Tad Williams reveals “Heart of Regret”, new Osten Ard novel

ver the last few years, speculative fiction author Tad Williams has been writing new stories set in Osten Ard, the mysterious world of his now-classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” books. In April 2014, Williams announced “The Last King of Osten Ard”, a sequel trilogy to “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”; the first volume of the new series, The Witchwood Crown, is expected in March 2017, with subsequent volumes Empire of Grass and The Navigator’s Children published sometime thereafter.

Last week came the news, leaked by Tad Williams on his Facebook account, that another Osten Ard novel, in addition to the three already announced, is already in the works. This week, Williams revealed the working title of the fourth new Osten Ard novel on his message board; the title is Heart of Regret.

Williams stated that the book started out as a novella, but (as is typical with his writing) grew in the writing process:

The short novel is no longer a novella, which was how it started.  I’ve just finished the first draft and the current page length is 213 manuscript pages, which is something in the order of 70K words.

This is certainly no surprise. Nearly all of Tad Williams’ novels have been lengthy, with To Green Angel Tower being one of the longest English-language novels ever written. The 70,000 words of Heart of Regret works out to about 280 pages, according to one word-count website. Williams goes on to explain that the Heart of Regret title is only a working title, and may well change by the time of publication. He also reveals many new details about the new story, including quite a few spoilers:

The original title was “Heart of Regret”, and I still lean toward that, although Deborah is worried that it’s too much of a downer and would rather have something about the Battle of Nakkiga in the title.  (The Heart of Regret is a symbolic jewel belonging to an important Norn character, but the words also say much about the nature of the story and its events.)  It takes place in the half-year after the end of [To Green Angel Tower], and tells of the attempt by 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.

osten-ard-mapSo the main characters 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; he 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, Heart of Regret 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.

Williams also revealed more about the plot of Heart of Regret, including these juicy details:

The only real returning characters from MS&T are Isgrimnur and Sludig, but there are several prominent characters from “The Witchwood Crown” as well, including the Norn lord and engineer, Viyeki, and Sir Porto, a Perdruinese man who is young in the short novel but pretty old by the time Witchwood Crown begins.  There are also a few others such as Akehnabi (a Norn magician, very important in the new books) who had brief appearances in MS&T.

Williams had previously revealed the names Viyeki and Porto last year on his message board (along with about 40 other names), and these names had been identified, correctly as it can now be said, by readers on the Smarch forums as belonging to a Norn man and a Perdruinese man, respectively, through careful guesswork.

The third name on Williams’ announcement, Akhenabi, appeared in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” as the embittered spokesman at the ruins of Naglimund, the “nail-fort” in the northern part of Erkynland. It was Akhenabi who caused the corpses of the dead of Naglimund to rise once more in a macabre display of eldritch power.

Williams then announced some details on the publication of Heart of Regret:

Deb and I are still considering options as far as how it will be published, in part because we would like to see it come out when “Witchwood Crown” was originally scheduled, i.e. Spring of 2016.  When I have more information — and there WILL be more information — I promise I will tell you immediately.

I will be happy to answer other questions, but of course I will be very conservative with any more story information than I’ve already given here.  Without giving anything away, there will be threads in this story that will become very important in the trilogy to come, so it’s probably not safe to ignore if you want to stay up with the Canonical Osten Ard.  (I am grinning at my own self-indulgence here.)

Tad Williams’ “The Witchwood Crown” Delayed

The Witchwood Crown, first volume of the highly-anticipated sequel to Tad Williams’ “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” has been delayed, and unfortunately does not appear in DAW Books’ Spring 2016 catalog.

Deborah Beale, wife and business partner of Tad Williams, has released this statement:

“Book one of Tad Williams’ ‘The Last King of Osten Ard’ isn’t in in the DAW spring schedule owing to pressures arising from the integration of Penguin/Random House.  We will know more about that after Tad’s September meeting with his publishers.

“Beyond this, we have been focussed on a number of projects related to ’The Last King’.  The road to volume one, ‘The Witchwood Crown’, will be dotted with many Easter eggs, some of which will be announced after that September meeting.  This is a trilogy that is expanding from the front end of things!”

The Witchwood Crown is the first volume of “The Last King of Osten Ard“. This sequel to Williams’ classic 1980s fantasy trilogy/tetralogy was set to be released in Spring 2016, though no definite date had yet been set. The announcement of “a number of projects related to “The Last King of Osten Ard” is intriguing. Williams has written of several possibilities on his official message board over the years.

More news will come from Tad Williams or Deborah Beale when it is available; hopefully in September. Meanwhile, Hodder Books in the UK has released The Dragonbone Chair on audiobook, via Audible.com/Amazon.co.uk, the first time MS&T has been available as an audiobook for the general public. A review of the reading from this site is forthcoming.

The Dragonbone Chair Now Available on Audiobook

The Dragonbone Chair: Memory, Sorrow & Thorn, Book 1 | [Tad Williams]Hodder Books has announced that Tad WilliamsThe Dragonbone Chair, Book One of “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” is now available for pre-order on audible.com. The audiobook is the first novel in Tad Williams’ classic fantasy series “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, first published in 1988 and now available as an unabridged audiobook for the first time.

Kitchen-boy Simon is bored, restless and 14 years old – a dangerous combination. It seems, however, that his life has just taken a turn for the better when he’s apprenticed to his castle’s resident wizard. As Simon is learning to read and write under Doctor Morgenes’ tutelage, forces greater than he could possibly imagine are gathering: forces which will change Simon’s life – and his world – forever.

Following the death of Good King John, Osten Ard is plunged into civil war as his sons battle for control of the fabled Dragonbone Chair – the country’s throne as well as the symbol of its power. Simon is forced to flee the only home he has ever known, a journey which will test him beyond his worst nightmares.

With The Dragonbone Chair, Tad Williams introduced readers to the incredible, complex fantasy world of Osten Ard and kicked off the beloved, internationally best-selling series “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”. Later Osten Ard works include Stone of Farewell (1990), To Green Angel Tower (1993), The Burning Man (1998), and The Witchwood Crown (forthcoming). The audiobook release for Stone of Farewell is set for November; the audiobook for To Green Angel Tower will follow sometime thereafter. The audiobook for The Witchwood Crown is expected around the time of the release of the new novel.

The beloved fantasy classic, praised by George R. R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, and Christopher Paolini (among others) has been unavailable in audiobook format before now, at least in the English language. The book will be narrated by Andrew Wincott, an English actor with over 100 audiobooks to his credit.