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.

 

Tad Williams holds Reddit AMA interview, answers readers’ questions

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egendary Science Fiction and Fantasy author Tad Williams held an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) interview today on forum website Reddit.Williams revealed several details about his upcoming sequel to “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, The Witchwood Crown.

Williams began his AMA interview in inimitable fashion:

I have returned to the world of Osten Ard, first introduced in the now impossibly ancient days of the late 1980s, in THE DRAGONBONE CHAIR, first book of the “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” series (also known as, “Those really, really, REALLY long books by that Williams guy.”) Just published is a short introductory novel — really a bridge between the end of the first series and some of the characters who will appear in the new books — the slender volume, THE HEART OF WHAT WAS LOST (http://www.tadwilliams.com/2017/01/the-heart-of-what-was-lost-first-reviews/) which will be followed by THE WITCHWOOD CROWN (a more typical Tad shelf-buster) in June. The entire series will be called “The Last King Of Osten Ard”, because that’s what fantasy fiction needs — MORE LONG TITLES.

(I also thought about calling the first books “Osten Ard Classic” and the current series “New Osten Ard” or even “Osten Ard Zero”, until various soft drink company lawsuits got in the way. Killjoys.)

I will be answering questions about the original series AND the new books live on Friday, January 27th, 2017 at 2:30 PM ET / 11:30 AM PT. Feel free to leave a question or subpoena for me ahead of time, or to join me online.

Heart_of_what_was_lost_Tad_WilliamsAmong the gems asked during the Reddit interview were questions regarding the new upcoming “The Last King of Osten Ard” novels, as well as questions regarding characters in The Heart of What Was Lost, the new bridge novel which was just published this month.

One question asked was (minor spoilers): “Will we eventually find out what Ayaminu’s agenda was?”Ayaminu is one of the Gardenborn characters who appears in The Heart of What Was Lost.

Williams’ response:

Yes. Yes, we will.

That really frustrated a few of my early readers, by the way, wanting to know WHAT SHE WAS DOING and why the answer wasn’t in the book.

I can’t help it. I work in long form. My days are everyone else’s months, especially when I’m writing really long stories.

Williams was also asked how far apart each new Osten Ard novel would be. Williams is known as a relatively fast writer, and has not had the extended delays between books which have plagued other bestselling speculative fiction authors. While Martin and Rothfuss have struggled to finish their novels, Williams has managed to mostly keep to his publishing deadlines.Williams replied:

Can’t say for certain, but I’m aiming for a year to a year and a half max between books. I’m pretty good at that these days, and I’ve actually started and finished several multi-volume series, so it shouldn’t take too long altogether.

I’m already working on the second large volume, Empire of Grass, and Witchwood Crown (first of trilogy) has been done for quite a while.

Williams was also asked about how “open-ended” his books are, and if he plans to revisit his other worlds, which would include the virtual world in “Otherland”, Eion/Xand (“Shadowmarch”) , and San Judas, the alternate reality city in his “Bobby Dollar” novels. Williams stated:

I have never written anything except the Bobby Dollar books with the idea of the story being open-ended. I’d be in trouble if I did, since I’m only now returning to Osten Ard, thirty years later. Half my original readers are probably dead and the rest are drooling. Like me.

As I said elsewhere on the AMA, I never start something by where it takes place (like a previous world of mine) only with a story I want to tell. I may come up with ideas for stories set in some of my other worlds, and if I do, I’ll probably write them. I’ve had a couple of tentative ideas over the years, and now that I’ve found I can live with going back to Osten Ard, I’ll probably be more open to revisiting some of the other creations as well.

Most intriguingly, Williams was asked if he has any plans to link Osten Ard, the world of the “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” books, to the Xand/Eion world in “Shadowmarch”, with a reader asking “Are there any Easter eggs/connections between the worlds or Osten Ard and Shadowmarch?”

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Although the worlds of Xand/Eion and Osten Ard have been considered separate, and there has been nothing to link them together besides some small similarities (strange properties of mirrors, for example), Williams, interestingly enough, did not rule this out:

Funny, I was just thinking about this the other day — connections between the two worlds. I think it’s possible that there may be a Michael-Moorcock-style multiverse underlying all my books, but I’ve never consciously tried to link them all together.

Maybe someday…

Curious readers asked quite a lot about the Norns, the embittered fair folk in the Osten Ard novels. The most clever term “Nornithology” has been coined by one reader. Of the Norns and their undying queen Utuk’ku, Williams writes:

I took the comparatively few things I knew about the Norns when I wrote the first books and have added/expanded quite a bit during the writing of these new ones. And you’ll see a LOT of the Norns and Nakkiga in the new books. I’m glad it seems to belong with the early stuff. I certainly mean it to feel as though it’s a seamless whole.

Reader Alaron asked:

Hi Tad. Huge fan here from Germany. I finished Heart of what was Lost a few days ago. It was great. I have a question about the timeline of Sithi/Norn history in Osten Ard. In Heart it was mentioned that the Norns came to Nakkiga more than 3000 years ago. Those Norns/ Sithi as Yaarike that were born before the Parting are considered to be old even by Keida’ya standard. I estimated that the Keida’ya must have arrived in Osten Ard at least 6000 years ago, as Utuk’ku is the last of the original Keida’ya that left the Garden. Is that timeline roughly correct?

And Williams’ response:

I’d have to check, and my notes are a mess right now. My tentative timeline actually has the Norns arriving, yes, at least 6000 years ago, but I suspect actually it’s a bit longer. (Along with some of my hardest-working friends and readers, I’m still trying to stabilize the timeline.)

But yes, at least 6000 years previous to the stories.

Williams was also asked about how many pages he has completed in Empire of Grass, the middle novel of the new series. Williams responded:

Not sure. About a hundred pages, I’d say (I’m writing in separate chapter-files at first, so I don’t have a running overall page count). The last couple of months, with the holidays and various kid-related things, have been grueling. I’m expecting to have a nice long stretch in the next few months to get the first draft substantially done.

Over 200 comments were made in the thread.

Dragonbone Chair Reissued; Tad Williams Talks About Upcoming Novels

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ots of interesting news this week, as DAW Books issues a newly-revised trade paperback edition of Tad Williams’ classic fantasy novel The Dragonbone Chair, book one of “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn”, the same week that they release the book in audiobook format.

U.S. readers have been denied the audiobook for many years, but at long last the audiobook, read by Andrew Wincott, is available to an American audience. The audiobook runs 33 hours and 19 minutes and is available for purchase right now on Amazon.com. A sample file clip is available here.

The-Dragonbone-ChairThe new trade paperback features beautiful new cover art by legendary artist Michael Whelan, who also created the original cover art for The Dragonbone Chair 28 years ago, upon the book’s original 1988 publication.

The new edition runs 652 pages and measures 6 x 9 x 1.5 inches. The cover features a blurb by George R. R. Martin: “Inspired me to write my own seven-book trilogy… it’s one of my favorite fantasy series.” The back cover features quotes praising The Dragonbone Chair written by popular fantasy authors Patrick Rothfuss and Christopher Paolini.

Inside, the the book is largely the same as in previous editions. However, there are a few new extras, one being a new introduction by Williams’ longtime editor, Betsy Wollheim, titled “How Tad Came to Write The Dragonbone Chair”, and a new acknowledgement page at the end of the book. (We at Treacherous Paths are extremely pleased to have been included in the acknowledgements).

The book is definitely worth picking up just for the new cover art, which features one of the Great Swords mentioned in The Dragonbone Chair. Sequel novels Stone of Farewell and To Green Angel Tower will be re-released later this year, and in audiobook format for the US as well.

Also new this week are a few snippets from Tad Williams’ official message board, where the internationally bestselling author discussed three of his upcoming Osten Ard novels, set in the same world as The Dragonbone Chair. Williams discussed his on-going work writing/revising The Heart of What Was Lost, which will be published in January 2017. He wrote:

As I’ve been going through the copyedited manuscript of HoWWL [The Heart of What Was Lost] this afternoon, I’m realizing I’m going to have to write a Tolkien-ish “On Norns and the Sithi” piece as well as a complete index of characters, because otherwise it will just be too confusing for new readers.  My poor copyeditor is asking about what the differences are with Hikeda’ya/Zida’ya/Norns/Sithi/White Foxes/Keida’ya (a term that will be new to the new books, meaning the race before they split up) and various others, as well as if Rimmersmen are Northmen and if mortals only means them or others…and so on.

I always worried about the fine line between not boring the readers who already knew Osten Ard and those new to the place.

Long-time readers of Williams’ novels will remember that in Williams’ world of Osten Ard, the Gardenborn, the elder elf-like race who came to Osten Ard from the east on eight great ships, were divided into several tribes. These tribes included the proud Sithi (also called “peaceful ones”, Zida’ya, or Dawn Children), as well as the embittered Norns (“white foxes”, Hikeda’ya, or Cloud Children) and the pacifistic Dwarrows and Niskies (variously called “dvernings”, Tinukeda’ya, or Ocean Children).

The Keida’ya is a term not mentioned in the original series. Williams states that the term is new, and refers to (some of?) the Gardenborn before they split into factions.

Williams also wrote about the progress of the novels:

I finished the final draft of HoWWL a while back, but this is the copyedited manuscript, which has comments on it from the copy editor (and others — everybody likes to get in on the Exciting Tad Action).  Then I’ll have one more pass at the proofs stage, which is mostly about looking for mistakes in typesetting, but is also my last chance to kill an infelicitous phrase, or at least bury it in disguising prose.

On a few hundred pages at most it’s not such a big deal, but I’ll be really sick of Osten Ard by the time I’ve been through all the different versions of TWC [The Witchwood Crown].  I’ll also be writing EoG [Empire of Grass] at the same time, so I’ll be doubly or even trebly sick.

Thank God I’m used to this kind of getting-sick-of-my-own-book.

The Witchwood Crown, the first novel in the upcoming “The Last King of Osten Ard” series, is scheduled for publication in April of 2017, with sequel novels Empire of Grass and The Navigator’s Children following sometime thereafter.

 

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.

 

Williams completes 700 pages of “The Witchwood Crown”

Bestselling speculative fiction author Tad Williams announced on his message board today that he has completed 700 manuscript pages of The Witchwood Crown, the first volume in his new “The Last King of Osten Ard” trilogy sequel to the classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” series. Williams wrote:

Politics will definitely show up in these books.

Nabban is a major focus.

I’ve just crested 700 pages after a REALLY difficult last few weeks. Remodel, everything in the house stashed in various rooms and therefore unfindable, HUGE flea attack (because of new cat) leading to sick cat in the hospital on life support (now apparently going to survive and be okay). Third major pet breakdown in a month or two leading to hospitalization and fear of pet-extinction. And about ninety other things, including birthdays, Smarchmoots (not everything bad, see?) and various other attention-distracters.

But the book continues! Y’all let me know if the fleas creep thematically into the finished product. I’m too close. And too itchy.

The Witchwood Crown is tentatively set to be published around Spring 2016. The first volume will be followed by Empire of Grass and finally The Navigator’s Children, all published by DAW Books.

Tad Williams Does AMA Interview on Reddit

International bestselling speculative fiction author Tad Williams conducted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) interview with fans on entertainment site Reddit.com on Thursday September 18th. Fans were invited to ask questions, which Williams would later answer.

Many of the questions regarded Williams’ upcoming Fantasy series “The Last King of Osten Ard”, a sequel to his bestselling classic trilogy “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”. The first volume of the new series, The Witchwood Crown, is expected to be published sometime late in 2015.

Here are some of the answers Williams provided for fans during the AMA interview:

Drojan: On reread I noticed how young the protagonists were, especially Simon and Miriamele. Will the new series focus on young protagonists, or focus more on the (now) older cast?
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Tad_Williams: Both. We will see many of the old characters, who will be middle-aged, but there will be a ton of new protagonists (and antagonists) as well.

Jay239: Tad, after the Lord Of The Rings films became huge did Hollywood approach you about making Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn into a film series?

Tad_Williams: Nobody’s actually come to me with a solid idea of making a film about MS&T. I’ve had an option and lots of nibbles for various projects, but no real progress except for the Tailchaser animated film, which is still under construction but I feel sure will happen.

I’m ready to sell out, damn it! Why won’t anyone tempt me?

Tgho: When’s the MS&T film coming out, and who should be in it? Also, how many books will be in the sequel? And is it set immediately after?

Tad_Williams: I never know enough young actors to suggest Simon and Miri, but Tobias Menzies (Outlander) would make either an excellent Elias or a wonderful Josua. I’d also be happy to have Hiddleston. Beyond that, I’m not sure. Probably Mark Strong would be an easy bet for one of the brothers, or else as Pryrates.

There will be three books (don’t laugh). The titles will be:

The Witchwood Crown Sea of Grass The Navigator’s Children

[Editor’s note: in previous discussions, the title of the second book has been called Empire of Grass; it’s unclear if the title has changed, or Williams misspoke during the AMA.]

Gathrin: Is there any specific line or scene in the series, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, that you are especially proud of. A line or paragraph that made you step back and shake your head in wonder and pride? I was always on the edge of my seat during Dragonbone Chair, always wondering if things would turn out well for the characters!

Tad_Williams: I think I’ve said it before, but my own favorite parts are ephemeral things, Simon’s journey through the underground and his discovery of the monk’s bible in St. Hoderund’s. That’s the stuff I work hardest to capture, things that can’t quite be put into words, but we try to do it anyway.

Ylvs: Hi Tad, here are some related questions from the TLK-thread on your board: do Sithi have baby teeth and if yes when do they lose them? Do Sithi women have periods or more broadly: how do they reproduce?

Tad_Williams: I haven’t thought too much about Sithi baby teeth, to be absolutely honest. However, Sithi reproduce very much like humans, albeit they conceive much less frequently, and the gestation is probably a bit longer. Now you’ve got me worried about baby teeth…

The full interview is available on Reddit.

Breaking News: Tad Williams Returns to Osten Ard With New Series

 

Cover of The Dragonbone Chair, book 1 of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

Cover of The Dragonbone Chair, book 1 of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

The blogosphere is already rumbling about the news: DAW Books has announced they will be publishing The Last King of Osten Ard, a sequel trilogy to Tad Williams’ New York Times bestselling Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series. The series will begin with The Witchwood Crown, followed by Empire of Grass, and then volume three, The Navigator’s Children.

From the DAW press release:

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.

In The Last King of Osten Ard, Williams returns with the ingenious worldbuilding, jaw dropping twists and turns, and unparalleled storytelling that have made him one of fantasy’s brightest stars for more thirty years.

More information can be found here and here.