Tad Williams completes 800 pages of “The Witchwood Crown”, releases partial character list

On his official message board today, bestselling speculative fiction author Tad Williams (The Dragonbone Chair, Tailchaser’s Song) posted a progress update on his manuscript of The Witchwood Crown, volume one of his planned three-book return to Osten Ard, “The Last King of Osten Ard”, sequel to the classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” series.

Williams revealed that he will have completed 800 pages of the manuscript this weekend. “I’ll crest 800 pages this weekend, I think, God willing and the river don’t rise,” he wrote, after much flooding in the Bay Area. The page count likely refers to manuscript pages rather than published book pages.

Williams, one of the most respected names in speculative fiction and whose fans include Christopher Paolini and George R. R. Martin, also released a partial character list for the new series, 34 of which are new characters, and the remaining 18 are characters who originally appeared in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”. Several of these 18 listed characters died in the original series, so they are likely only mentioned in passing in the new book, rather than zombie resurrections, although Williams has been known to resurrect characters who were long thought dead, as fans of his work well know.

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

Simon, Binabik and Miriamele will be returning in “The Witchwood Crown”, Book One of “The Last King of Osten Ard”.

Returning characters include fan favorites Simon, Miriamele, Binabik, Aditu and Jiriki. Also apparently returning, at least as mentions in the book, are Duke Isgrimnur, Prince Josua, Tiamak, Lady Vorzheva, Pasevalles, Akhenabi, Jeremias, Count Eolair, Prince Hakatri, Sisqinanamook, and of course everyone’s favorite 10,000-year-old ice queen Utuk’ku Seyt-Hamakha, who is believed to be a major antagonist in the new series.

Unmentioned in this announcement are Derra and Deornoth, the twins whose respective prophesies caused over 20 years of fan speculation while Williams wrote other novels. Williams has confirmed in previous announcements that Derra and Deornoth will appear in the new series.

Williams also wrote of his plans for the new book, including his intention that The Witchwood Crown will move a little faster than the beginning of The Dragonbone Chair, stating, “[T]his one moves a little faster and jumps into multi-person [point-of-view] pretty much immediately.  The “moves faster” part may not be so obvious after I revise and put in some of the detail I skipped over in the heat of first-drafting, but I think it will probably still feel this way.  (Thus, for returning readers, I will have to make sure it still feels pretty similar in terms of depth of character and background).”

Also returning are the Sa'onserei siblings, Jiriki and Aditu.

Also returning are the Sa’onserei siblings, Jiriki and Aditu.

The Witchwood Crown, the highly-anticipated first book in the new Osten Ard sequel series, is tentatively scheduled for a Spring 2016 release by DAW Books, publisher in the United States, and Hodder and Stoughton, the publisher in the United Kingdom. This will give the publishers time to edit what promises to be a lengthy manuscript, promote the book in international markets, and commission appropriate cover art on both sides of the Atlantic. An official release date for the first volume has not yet been set.

Michael Whelan, Guy Gavriel Kay, L.E. Modesitt, Stephen R Donaldson, Rajan Khanna, others appear at World Fantasy Convention 2014

(L-R) Irene Gallo, Chris Roberts, Les Edwards, Michael Whelan, and moderator at World Fantasy Convention 2014.

(L-R) Irene Gallo, Chris Roberts, Les Edwards, Michael Whelan, and moderator at World Fantasy Convention 2014.

World Fantasy Convention 2014 begins this weekend in Arlington, Virginia. Guests of Honor include Guy Gavriel Kay (Under Heaven, River of Stars) and Toastmaster Mary Robinette Kowal (Glamour in Glass, Valour and Vanity).

Michael Whelan, illustrator of more than 350 science fiction and fantasy books, is also appearing, and will do signings, discussions, and an art tour. Stephen R Donaldson, perhaps most famous for The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, will also do a reading.

Rajan Khanna does a reading of his new zombie book, Falling Skies, at World Fantasy Convention 2014 on Thursday October 6th.

Rajan Khanna does a reading of his new zombie book, Falling Skies, at World Fantasy Convention 2014 on Thursday October 6th.

Rajan Khanna, author of Falling Sky, appeared at a reading on Thursday afternoon. This was followed later that day by an art review featuring SciFi/Fantasy illustrators Les Edwards, and Michael Whelan. Whelan, of course, did the US artwork for Tad Williams’ books The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower, among many others. Whelan pointed out that one of his influences is Frank Frazetta, illustrating his influence with the below pieces:

Whelan also stated that Donald A Wollheim refused to buy artwork that was green, stating that green wouldn’t sell well. Whelan got around the prohibition by turning in the final colored proofs as late as possible.

Guy Gavriel Kay reading from "The Summer Tree" at WFC 2014.

Guy Gavriel Kay reading from “The Summer Tree” at WFC 2014.

Guy Gavriel Kay made an appearance on “The Reading That Never Was”, a discussion about his first appearance at WFC in Ottawa in 1984. Kay had been asked to do a reading of his first book, The Summer Tree. Unfortunately, he was scheduled against Stephen King, and due to a non-existent attendance, the 1984 reading was aborted. Kay read an excerpt from The Summer Tree, reading a part of the story that he had meant to write thirty years earlier. The following day, he granted interviews with fans and made an appearance at “Dynastic China and Guy Gavriel Kay’s Kitai”, a scholarly presentation by professor Anna M Shields of the University of Maryland.


Stephen R Donaldson reads from his unpublished manuscript.

Stephen R Donaldson reads from his unpublished manuscript.

On Friday, Stephen R. Donaldson, author of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, did a reading from his new, as-yet-unpublished novella. Donaldson says that, although he thought he was through with The Chronicles, a voice told him to write more stories. The novella is the result of that voice. Donaldson has yet to find a publisher.