Noted best-selling science fiction and fantasy author Tad Williams (“Otherland”, “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn“) is scheduled to host a live Q&A session on Google Hangouts on September 4th, 6 PM (Pacific Standard Time). Williams will be reading from his latest manuscript, The Witchwood Crown, the highly-anticipated first volume of “The Last King of Osten Ard”, a sequel series to his classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” series, coming Spring 2017 from DAW Books.
The current manuscript is over 1,000 pages, comprised of 54 chapters. (Williams is no stranger to very long manuscripts, many of his novels clocking in at around the same size. The third “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” book, To Green Angel Tower, is one of the longest novels in the English language.)
Here are my much-delayed revised chapter titles. These are still subject to change, but they all have something to do with their chapters now. (Often I will start a chapter with a title, but decide to deal with something different instead of my original plan for that chapter, then forget to change the title.)
Anyway, make of them what you will. It will be a while until I have a good cast list to share.
THE WITCHWOOD CROWN
Volume One of THE LAST KING OF OSTEN ARD
PART ONE: WIDOWS
Ch. 1 – The Glorious
Ch. 2 – Conversation with a Corpse-Giant
Ch. 3 – Brother Monarchs
Ch. 4 – Island of Bones
Ch. 5 – An Aversion to Widows
Ch. 6 – The Finest Tent on the Frostmarch
Ch. 7 – Audience with the Ever-Living
Ch. 8 – A Meeting On Lantern Bridge
Ch. 9 – Heart of the Kynswood
Ch. 10 – The Third Duke
Ch. 11 – Ghosts of the Garden
Ch. 12 – Baroness Alva’s Tale
Ch. 13 – Hymns of the Lightless
Ch. 14 – At the Top of the Holy Tree
Ch. 15 – A Passage of Arms
Ch. 16 – A Hand In The Snow
Ch. 17 – No Shadow
Ch. 18 – A Bad Book
Ch. 19 – Unnatural Birth
Ch. 20 – His Bright Gem
Ch. 21 – Crossroad
Ch. 22 – Death Songs
Ch. 23 – Testament of the White Hand
PART TWO: ORPHANS
Ch. 24 – Terrible Flame
Ch. 25 – Example of a Dead Hedgehog
Ch. 26 – The Small Council
Ch. 27 – Noontide At The Quarely Maid
Ch. 28 – Cradle Songs of Red Pig Lagoon
Ch. 29 – Bones and Black Statues
Ch. 30 – The Slow Game
Ch. 31 – A High, Dark Place
Ch. 32 – Rosewater and Balsam
Ch. 33 – Secrets and Promises
Ch. 34 – Feeding The Familiar
Ch. 35 – The Man with the Odd Smile
Ch. 36 – A Foolish Dream
Ch. 37 – Two Bedroom Conversations
Ch. 38 – The Factor’s Ship
Ch. 39 – A Grassland Wedding
Ch. 40 – Watching Like God
PART THREE: EXILES
Ch. 41 – Hern’s Horde
Ch. 42 – Forest Music
Ch. 43 – Into Deeper Shadows
Ch. 44 – Charms and Tokens
Ch. 45 – A Nighttime Sun
Ch. 46 – River Man
Ch. 47 – Hidden Chambers
Ch. 48 – The Little Boats
Ch. 49 – Blood As Black As Night
Ch. 50 – Stolen Scales
Ch. 51 – Several Matters of State
Ch. 52 – Homecoming
Ch. 53 – The Queen’s Pleasure
Ch. 54 – Voices Unheard, Faces Unseen
There are some inconsistencies with the chapter titles; for example, Chapter 27’s title, referring to the Quarely Maid, is not the name of the inn chosen by readers on the official message board last year. But of course, these chapter titles are subject to change or revision. The Witchwood Crown is expected to be released in Spring 2016, followed sometime thereafter by Empire of Grass and The Navigator’s Children.
Last month Tad Williams interviewed Steven Erikson (“Malazan Book of the Fallen”) at Kepler’s Bookstore in Menlo Park, California. Williams asked Erikson what led him to writing fantasy, what authors inspired him, and why Fantasy readers like big, thick books. They also talked about Stephen R. Donaldson’s early works, including Lord Foul’s Bane.
Below is the first part of the recorded interview:
More parts of the interview, along with musings about the Dothraki language constructed for Game of Thones, can be found at IvyNettle’s “Letters and Leaves” blog.
Tad Williams announced today that he has written well over 500 pages of the first draft of The Witchwood Crown, the first volume in his new series, “The Last King of Osten Ard”:
Just to let you all know, I hit a nice little milestone today — 555 pages of the 1st draft, end of Chapter 30. I’ve actually had time again to get into a rhythm, and it’s amazing how much faster it goes when I have dedicated working time and thinking time.
With 30 chapters of the first draft having been written, the manuscript may already be larger than Stone of Farewell, which only contained 28 chapters. In comparison, The Dragonbone Chair had 44 chapters and To Green Angel Tower had 60. This means that the manuscript is approaching or has already exceeded the size of previous Osten Ard books. Williams is known for long, intricate stories, and it looks as though The Witchwood Crown will be no exception.
In other news, it appears as though the publication date of The Witchwood Crown has been pushed back to Spring 2016, to allow time for editing of what is likely to be a massive manuscript. The original publication date had been set to Fall 2015. Williams writes very fast, and there likely will be no long publication delays that have been seen in other massive epic fantasies such as Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” or George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”. Indeed, The Witchwood Crown was only announced in April of this year.
It’s been said that there are certain books you have to read at the right time in your life in order to understand them completely, novels that speak to particular age groups or circumstances. The Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace come to mind, for example; maybe The Sun Also Rises. All great works of fiction at any age, but particularly powerful when read as an adolescent (the Salinger and Knowles novels) and as a young man (the Hemingway). This seems axiomatic to me, and no work of fiction proves it more strongly than The Dragonbone Chair.
SF-Signal’s Larry Ketchersid recently wrote an article entitled “The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams and Its Place in the History of Epic Fantasy,” a timely retrospective on the 1988 fantasy classic written in anticipation of the forthcoming sequel series, The Last King of Osten Ard. Reading it made me want to talk about what The Dragonbone Chair and its sequels mean to me, as their impact on my life has been significant. Spoilers abound.
Tad Williams has announced that he has written around 400 pages of The Witchwood Crown, Book One of his new epic fantasy series “The Last King of Osten Ard”:
I’ve had a lot of other things going on, so I’m only at about page 400 of the book, but I’m back into a stretch where I can work on it full-time again.
The first volume of the new Osten Ard series, a sequel to the classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” books, is expected to be published sometime late next year, but no concrete date has yet been set. Each new novel in the series is expected to be about the size of previous Osten Ard novels, which were between 750 and 1,600 pages each.
It is no secret that George R. R. Martin drew inspiration for his A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels from the best-selling Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series by Tad Williams. Martin has stated repeatedly that Williams inspired him to write ASOIAF:
Tad’s fantasy series, The Dragonbone Chair and the rest of his famous four-book trilogy was one of the things that inspired me to write my own seven-book trilogy. I read Tad and was impressed by him, but the imitators that followed — well, fantasy got a bad rep for being very formulaic and ritual. And I read The Dragonbone Chair and said, “My god, they can do something with this form,” and it’s Tad doing it. It’s one of my favorite fantasy series.
In fact, Martin purposely buried some homages to MS&T in ASOIAF, while at other points, he seems to reuse the same plot elements, often to a surprisingly detailed degree. Here are 31 similarities between the two book series [contains spoilers for both series of novels]:
1) A high-born girl named (M)arya disguises herself as a boy, and learns to fight with a sword as she travels throughout the lands. In both “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” (MS&T) and “A Song of Ice and Fire” (ASOIAF), a young noble girl, called either Marya or Arya, flees her home, traveling in disguise as a boy. Despite the fact that many people see through her flimsy ‘disguise’, she keeps wearing it. Author George R.R. Martin’s naming of Arya is clearly an homage to the original cross-dressing noble girl, Marya from MS&T.
2) On her journey, the girl-in-disguise (M)arya meets many characters, including a man wearing a helmet shaped like a hound’s head, who is sent to bring her back to the king. In MS&T, this hound-helmeted character is named Ingen Jegger; in ASOIAF, his name is Sandor Clegane.In both cases, these men are skilled warriors who manage to escape death on multiple occasions.
3) Two princely brothers who hate each other fight over the royal throne after the death of the old king. The country is torn apart as various factions choose sides. In MS&T, the princes are named Elias and Josua. In ASOIAF, the feuding brothers are named Stannis and Renly Baratheon.
4) A red-robed advisor to the new king convinces the king that he needs to sacrifice his hated younger brother; this blood sacrifice, the red-robed advisor says, will make the kingdom whole once more. In MS&T, this red-robed advisor is named Pryrates; in ASOIAF, her name is Melisandre. In both series, these red-robed priests slowly convince their respective royal masters to allow them to practice a strange fire-ritual which they claim will allow them victory. This fire ritual requires royal blood in order to be successful.
5) A tailed star appears in the sky, portending doom/change. In MS&T, this tailed star is called the Conqueror Star, or sa Astrian Conquidilles, and it appears in the sky for three years after an absence of 497 years. In ASOIAF, this star is called shierak qiya, the Dragon’s Tail, or the Red Comet.
6) Feuding brothers named Elias/Elyas and Josua appear in the story. In a not-so-subtle nudge in Williams’ direction, author George R.R. Martin names two feuding background characters Elyas and Josua, in a tribute to one of his favorite Fantasy series, MS&T (which features the feuding brothers Elias and Josua). In an even less subtle nod, these two feuding brothers are said to be the sons of Lord Willum. These three characters are mentioned in chapter 22 of A Clash of Kings, the second volume of ASOIAF.
7) Strange, otherworldly icy creatures who live in the far north appear, and although they have been inactive for centuries, they plot to take over the mortal world Their ruler is called the Night King/Storm King. They have been exiled at the northern edge of the world for many years, but the Night King/Storm King plots to soon take it all back, displacing Mankind. In MS&T, these icy creatures are the Norns; in ASOIAF, they’re known as the Others.
8) It is foretold of the coming of an unusual winter which will last a very long time, at the same time as the otherworldly invasion from the north. Only the northern farmers in rural areas take these old legends seriously. Everyone else laughs at such absurd tales. But the people of the north never forget.
9) An unusual throne lies at the center of the human dispute for the kingdom, but it is only a distraction for the real conflict. In MS&T, this throne is named the Dragonbone Chair, crafted by King John after he slaughtered the fire-drake Shurakai. In ASOIAF, it is the Iron Throne. In both cases, the mortal kingdoms are so busy fighting one another that they fail to take notice of eldritch powers rising in the north.
10) A major noble character, a close relative of the king, loses his hand in battle. In MS&T, the handless character is Prince Josua Lackhand. In ASOIAF, the character is Ser Jaime Lannister. In both instances, the nobles lose their respective right hands.
11) A wolf plays a major role in the series. In MS&T, it is the gray wolf Qantaqa, Binabik’s wolf companion, who is loyal to her friend, but a menace to all his enemies. In ASOIAF, the direwolves the Stark children discover in the first volume are named Ghost, Grey Wind, Lady, Nymeria, Shaggydog, and Summer. These canines are just as loyal to their masters as Qantaqa is to Binabik.
12) A character that is the ‘Hand’ figures prominently. In MS&T, the Prince’s Right Hand is Sir Deornoth, Prince Josua’s right-hand man. Early on in ASOIAF, the Hand of the King is Lord Eddard Stark.
13) A slender sword named ‘Needle’/’Naidel’ is wielded by a main character, who can’t use a heavier sword. In MS&T, the sword is named Naidel, and is wielded by Prince Josua Lackhand, while in ASOIAF, Needle’s owner is Arya Stark.
14) Everybody laughs at the idea of giants and other otherworldly creatures in the north… until they see them for themselves. In both series, the soft southlanders eventually realize their folly, after encounters with what Tyrion originally dismisses as legends of “grumkins and snarks,” while in MS&T, these are legends of “pookhas and niskies”.
15) Young, noble children are cruelly thrust out into the cold, cruel world by evil adults. In both series, teenagers are chased by murderers, thieves, and con-men, as they slowly learn to fend for themselves as they grow into young men and women.
16) A crown made to resemble antlers is worn by a king. The crown in MS&T appears on the brow of Ineluki the Storm King, while in ASOIAF, the antlered crown is worn by Renly Baratheon.
17) A very short yet intelligent character has a betrothal as part of his storyline. But he is soon put on trial, where the penalty is death, and everyone seems set on killing him… even his own lover. In MS&T, this character is Binabik, and his betrothed is Sisquinanamook; in ASOIAF, the character is Tyrion Lannister, and his betrothed is Shae.
18) The story begins shortly before the death of the old king, whose reign was peaceful, and which kept the kingdoms safe. The king brought peace and prosperity to the lands, but now his death has thrown the empire into conflict, with factions fighting. In MS&T, the old king is the nonagenarian King John Presbyter of Warinsten, who brought the language of Westerling to his people as he united all the realms under one rule. In ASOIAF, it is King Robert Baratheon, lord of Westeros.
19) The Children of the Dawn/Forest, who once lived throughout the realm, but who are now living in hiding in the forests of the world, have a role in the story. In both MS&T and ASOIAF, both the Children of the Dawn and the Children of the Forest appear to be at odds with the otherworldly creatures in the far north.
20) A character whose name is Snow(lock), who is forced to journey into the north, is a main character. In MS&T, Simon Snowlock bears some similarities to ASOIAF’s Jon Snow.
21) A guilt-tormented knight spends years in exile in the south, only to return, where he is at last revealed as still being alive. In MS&T, this is Sir Camaris sa-Vinitta, while in ASOIAF, it is Ser Jon Connington.
22) A major character lives thousands of miles from the rest of the other main characters, for over a thousand pages having no real interaction with the main groups. But eventually, in both series, Danaerys/Tiamak interact with characters in the rest of the world.
23) The series was meant to be a trilogy, but got out of hand. In the case of MS&T, three volumes grew to four, while ASOIAF may eventually be seven volumes, if author George R.R. Martin ever completes the series. Martin has humorously referred to both Williams’ “four-book trilogy” and his own “seven-book trilogy”.
24) A major young male character likes to climb his castle’s walls and turrets, and can do so with ease. Eventually, he will be forced to leave his childhood home, no longer able to climb the castle’s walls and turrets. In MS&T, this character is Simon Mooncalf climbing the walls of Hayholt Castle, while in ASOIAF, it is Bran Stark climbing the walls of Winterfell.
25) The same character who climbs castle walls is plagued by prophetic, spooky dreams. These dreams appear to be a curse, as they usually do not reveal enough to be helpful.
26) A new god, the Red God, demands blood sacrifice. His adherents are more than willing to do the Red God’s bidding, no matter how awful the sacrifice is. Once blood is spilled, the spell is created, and shadowy figures begin appear…
27) A fierce people of nomadic grasslanders lives to the east of the world. In MS&T, these are the Thrithings-folk, while in ASOIAF, they are called the Dothraki. In both cases, these warriors treat their women horribly, and live in loosely-knit clans where the leaders rule through barbaric acts. In both series, horses are treated better than the women of the clan, who hold no power in the society.
28) Birds are used as messengers between intellectuals. In MS&T, they are sparrows, sent between members of the League of the Scroll, while in ASOIAF, maesters send messages via ravens.
29) In both series, a battle takes place on a frozen lake. This is technically not yet canonical in ASOIAF but the scene appears in the television series. In MS&T, the battle scene takes place in the Stefflod River Valley.
30) In both series, a girl strikes a blow to the otherworldly king of the north. In both respective series, (M)arya shoots/stabs the Storm/Night King.
31) In both series, a young woman of royal blood has an advisor who falls in love with her, as she tries to protect her people, who are refugees fleeing war. In both series, the young woman slowly falls into madness, after sending away her advisor, who has fallen in love with her. In MS&T, the young woman is Princess Maegwin of Hernystir, who sees Count Eolair of Nad Mullach slowly fall in love with her. She sends him away, and slowly falls into madness. In ASOIAF, the young woman is Daenarys of House Targaryen, whose advisor, Ser Jorah Mormont, falls in love with her. She eventually sends him away, and then — at least, according to the TV series — falls into madness.