Tad Williams updates readers with the chapter titles for “The Witchwood Crown”

Tad Williams, author of the “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” books, today posted an update on his progress with The Witchwood Crown, volume one of “The Last King of Osten Ard”, sequel series to “MS&T”

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.)

Williams wrote:

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

Foreword

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.

New covers for British “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”

Hodder Books announced last week that Tad Williams‘ classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” series, as well as Tailchaser’s Song, will be getting new cover art.

The new black and white cover art was created by Ben Summers (who previously created the cover art for the UK edition of Sleeping Late on Judgement Day). The cover art includes only one cover for To Green Angel Tower, so it seems as though publication of To Green Angel Tower will be in one volume instead of two.

The new “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” covers appear to show the fabled chair of dragon’s bones (book one), Binabik’s wolf companion Qantaqa (book two), and a vulture (book three).

Along with the announcement was word that Hodder will publish e-books of the classic series, which will go on sale on August 6th of this year:

The Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series will be available (for the first time ever in the UK) as ebooks from August 6th and Tailchaser’s Song will be available in print and as an ebook on August 20th. And don’t forget – we’ll be publishing the the first sequel to Memory, Sorrow and Thorn next year…

It is hoped that the e-books will contain fewer mistakes than the current US e-books, which are riddled with typos.

After the release of “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” and Tailchaser’s Song, Hodder is set to release The Witchwood Crown, volume one of “The Last King of Osten Ard“, a sequel series to Williams’ beloved original series. The Witchwood Crown is scheduled for a Spring 2016 release date.

An Interview with Tad Williams, part 4

Like Tad Williams, we tried to keep it to three parts, but it ended up being four. Below is Part Four of OstenArd.com’s interview with internationally bestselling speculative fiction writer Tad Williams, author of the “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, “Otherland”, “Shadowmarch” and “Bobby Dollar” books, and who recently announced the completion of the first draft of The Witchwood Crown, the first volume of a series of sequel novels to his classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” trilogy, called “The Last King of Osten Ard“. The Witchwood Crown is tentatively slated for a Spring 2016 release.

Part OnePart TwoPart Three

The below questions were asked by readers on the Tad Williams Message Board and by OstenArd.com contributors. In this part of the interview, we asked Williams about publication plans for print and audiobooks, plans for re-releases of the classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” books, and what, if anything, he has found challenging about writing a much-older Simon, Miriamele, Binabik, and the rest of the crew.

Tad Williams' novels have long been available as audiobooks in Germany. Now "The Last King of Osten Ard" will get an English-language audiobook.

Tad Williams’ novels have long been available as audiobooks in Germany. Now “The Last King of Osten Ard” will get an English-language audiobook, Williams reveals.

OstenArd.com: Tad, the new series will certainly be a major publishing event, and deals have been announced for the US and the UK. Are there any other deals in place that you can talk about? Have plans been put in place on how the new books are going to be published and/or marketed? Will there be audiobooks?

Tad Williams: I’m sure there will be audiobooks in English and German, although I don’t know any details yet. All other stuff, I really don’t know. Deb [Tad’s wife and business partner Deborah Beale] probably knows more than I do, because I’m doing my best just to get the books written.

OA.com: Will there be re-issues of the original trilogy? Hardcover reprint? Audiobooks? Any news on that front?

Tad: Same answer. But, yes, we’re pushing for a re-release.

OA.com: In the “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” reread on the Tad Williams Message Board, we had a lot of fun tracking down references to mythology/history/other books – can we expect more of that in “The Last King of Osten Ard”? Is there a reference you particularly liked in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” and that no one mentioned to you yet? Any still hidden Easter-egg?

Tad: I honestly have no idea if there are any Easter eggs that have escaped the laser-focus-bunnies of the message board. I’ll keep an eye open when I do another re-read (which I think I’ll have to do before I commit to the first volume as finalized), and if I see something, I’ll let you know. Besides, it’s better when you guys find these things on your own, because then even if I never intended it, I can look wise and nod my head: “Ah, yes, that. Very clever, wasn’t I?”

Simon and Miriamele gained a throne thirty years ago... How have their experiences changed them over the decades?

Simon and Miriamele gained a throne thirty years ago… How have their experiences changed them over the decades?

OA.com: Were there any aspects of writing a 30-years-older Simon or Miriamele (or any other character from “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” who reappears in “The Last King of Osten Ard” for that matter) that you found surprising or challenging or surprisingly challenging?

Tad: Too early to say, really, because a lot of this will be not just who the characters are at the beginning, but how they change during these books, as they did during MS&T. But it’s all challenging, because we know these characters as young people. The difference between a teenager and a middle-aged adult is almost like two different people. But I think I’ll be able to tell you more when I’m actually done — rewrites and all — with this first volume, because it’s in rereading Witchwood Crown AS A NOVEL that will tell me a lot about whether Simon and Miriamele’s older selves feel real and appropriate.

 

[Ed.: This concludes our multi-part interview with Tad Williams. We’d like to take a moment to thank Tad Williams and Deborah Beale for their time, and all the friendly folks on the Tad Williams message board, who asked a lot of great questions.]

An Interview with Tad Williams, part 2

Below is Part Two of OstenArd.com’s interview with Science Fiction/Fantasy writer Tad Williams, author of the “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, “Otherland”, “Shadowmarch” and “Bobby Dollar” books, and who recently announced the completion of the first draft of The Witchwood Crown, the first volume of a series of sequel novels to his classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” trilogy.

(Part One of the interview can be found here).

In this interview, we asked Williams what it’s like to return to the world of Osten Ard, how he’s reacted to the announcement that Michael Whelan will be illustrating the covers, and what he’s been researching while working on The Witchwood Crown.

Michael Whelan painted the covers for the US and UK editions of "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn".

Michael Whelan painted the covers for the US and UK editions of “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”.

OstenArd.com: It’s been recently announced that Michael Whelan will be doing the covers for the new Osten Ard books, just as he did for the classic MS&T series. When I spoke to him in person in November, he was excited and proud to be asked to create the new cover art for your books. How excited are you to know that his amazing work will be on the new books?

Tad Williams: I think it’s wonderful. It’s hard to imagine what anyone else could do with them, since Michael put his stamp on them so authoritatively. And I’ve always loved Michael’s work, since long before he intersected my career, or I even had a career to intersect. So, yes, thrilled to see what he’ll come up with, proud that he wants another go.

OA.com: On the TadWilliams.com message board, you revealed a partial character list. Any plans to reveal a more detailed or more extensive character list? Or would that be too spoilery?

Tad: I intend at some point — probably closing of rewrite of first draft — to update and correct that list. Also, I may very well release the chapter titles, which won’t necessarily give anything away conclusively, but will certainly inspire some guesswork.

OA.com: When MS&T was first published the initial critical reaction was disappointing since critics only read it as a generic fantasy trilogy and failed to see more than that. Only a few critics (like Roz Kaveney) saw beneath the surface and recognized it as a revisionist fantasy. But 30 years on, a new generation of writers is acknowledging their debt to MS&T (Brandon Sanderson, Christopher Paolini, even GRRM), and MS&T is widely regarded as “classic”. Are you still disappointed over the lack of critical appreciation? Do you think that the new trilogy will change that?

Tad: I’m kind of resigned to the fact that for whatever reason, I will remain one of those weird tastes, like some odd ice cream flavor, that some people will be passionate about, and others won’t quite get the fuss. And, in all fairness, I’m just writing fantasy and science fiction books that I’d like to read. It’s not like I think I’m all that important myself in the first place. But, yes, it’s heartening when people DO understand that I put a lot of thought and care into this, that I’m not just writing extra-long role playing adventures, that I bring a few other skills and interests to the table. My wife says, “Don’t worry, they (critics and trendsetters) will kiss your ass after you’re dead”, to which I usually reply, “That doesn’t sound like it will be all that much fun for either of us.”

OA.com: Has Osten Ard society changed in the last 30 years? Does Simon’s upbringing have lasting influence on his kingship and if so was he able to change things? Did he want to?

Tad: That’s one of the things that will definitely be a part of the story, so It’s hard to discuss without giving things away. But, yes, Simon and Miri and the lessons their lives have brought them will have a lot to do with the future of Osten Ard, and they both want to be “good” rulers, so they’ve spent a lot of time since the end of TGAT trying to figure out what that means and how to accomplish it, with mixed success (as is true with all of us with just about anything).

OA.com: How difficult is it to “collaborate with yourself”, as it were, in writing a sequel to a story you wrapped up over twenty years ago? Are you trying to match the style and mood of the original, or are you just trusting yourself that it will come out right? Do you find yourself remembering any of the feelings or thoughts you had when writing MEMORY, SORROW AND THORN, even things you’d forgotten until now?

Tad: I won’t really know until I’ve finished, because when I’m writing things they are always composed of dangly bits and rough edges that have to be fixed, and that’s where I am right now — all dangly bits.

Some of the process is easier than a first-time novel, because for instance I already feel I know who Simon and Miriamele are in a deep sense, and can guess which things would be appropriate to their adult selves, and which wouldn’t be. But of course I’m not just trying to match a style, or match older characters to their younger selves, I’m also trying to match an -impact- as well, because I’m messing with material that in some ways means more to readers than it does to me. While I know I will never be able to write new stories which have the same impact for the older fans, I want them to feel appropriate, and that I took the best possible care of old favorites while justifying a sequel by adding new material. And of course, I can’t forget about all the people who may read this without having read the first books. I don’t want to freeze them out and make it some kind of nostalgia fest. So it’s a very interesting, occasionally terrifying thing to do.

OA.com: For the Shadowmarch series, you mentioned doing research on geology, iirc. What sort of research did you do (are doing) for TLKOOA?

Tad: Ohmigod, what amn’t I researching? I’ll pick some bookmarks at random:

The Morrigan
Battle of Walcourt
List of Anglo-Saxon place names
Ice Cave Picture
3D plans for Skipton Castle
Tetraplegia
Traditional Gaelic Names
Monasticism in Western Europe
The Male and Female Names of Animals
History of the Wool Trade
Crows roosting
Proto-Indo-European
Akasha (name)
Entheogens of Antiquity
Parthenocarpy
Central Asian Steppes
Mythical Thule
Sami People

and so on and so on, to the tune of about five hundred bookmarks. Not to mention the fact that I’ve got about forty or so research books that I have out and in use just for this story alone, as well as copious notes from the first book and various other bits and bobs. (Message Board conversations, Maps, etc.) So, yeah, there’s research in all my stuff, but I think this one is second only to OTHERLAND in terms of how much material I’m using.

(To be continued…)

Part Three

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.

Updates on “The Last King of Osten Ard”

Over the summer, a number of fans have visited with Tad Williams, and coaxed out some details about his new fantasy series, The Last King of Osten Ard. The first volume in this highly-anticipated new series, The Witchwood Crown, is expected in 2015. Reader alert: there are spoilers in the news listed below.

New characters and old
The original press release mentioned familiar characters Simon Snowlock and Miriamele, the granddaughter of old King Presbyter John. The pair have now been king and queen of Erkynland, respectively, during the last thirty years.

In addition to these two beloved characters, the press release also mentioned Miriamele’s cousins, Prince Josua and Lady Vorzheva’s children, Derra and Deornoth. Other confirmed returning characters include Utuk’ku Seyt-Hamakha, Queen of the Norns, who is expected to be a major antagonist in the new series; and Akhenabi, the Norns’ spokesman at Naglimund. Both Utuk’ku and Akhenabi were antagonists in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”.

Among the returning mortal characters will be Eolair, Count of Nad Mullach; Isgrimnur, Duke of Elvritshalla; Tiamak, a Wranna scholar; and Binabik, the Singing Man of Mintahoq Mountain; and presumably his wife, Sisqinanamook.

Among the new characters will be a female Wranna servant, and a female Norn; neither characters’ names have been revealed. Other new characters include Binabik and Sisqi’s daughter and son-in-law (whose names also have not been released); and Prince Morgan, Simon and Miriamele’s “heir apparent”. In addition to Binabik’s new family, Binabik will be riding a new wolf, after the death of Qantaqa.

More news will be published when it’s available.

31 similarities between “A Song of Ice and Fire” and “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”

dragonbone_chair_a_game_of_thrones

The cover of The Dragonbone Chair features Simon Snowlock and the dwarfish Binabik, as well as the wolf Qantaqa (on back cover). The cover of A Game of Thrones features Jon Snow and the dwarf Tyrion, and the direwolf Ghost.

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 25 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. She travels from one end of the world to the other, fleeing danger everywhere, while disguised as a boy. Despite the fact that many people see through her flimsy ‘disguise’, she keeps wearing it.

2) Two princely brothers who hate each other fight over the royal throne. The country is torn apart as various factions choose sides. But the side that plays dirty will win…

3) A red-robed advisor to the new king convinces the king that he needs to sacrifice his hated younger brother; this sacrifice, the red-robed advisor says, will make the kingdom whole once more.

4) A tailed star appears in the sky, portending doom/change.

5) Feuding brothers named Elias/Elyas and Josua appear in the story.

6) Strange, otherworldly creatures who live in the far north appear, and although they have been inactive for centuries, they plot to take over the world. They have been exiled at the northern edge of the world for many years, but will soon take it all back, manchild.

7) 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. Only the northerners take these old legends seriously. Everyone else laughs at such absurd tales. But the people of the north never forget.

8) A very unusual throne lies at the center of the human dispute for the kingdom, but it is only a distraction for the real conflict.

9) A major noble character, a close relative of the king, loses his hand.

10) A wolf character plays a major role.

11) A character that is the ‘Hand’ figures prominently.

12) A slender sword named ‘Needle’/’Naidel’ is wielded by a main character, who can’t use a heavier sword.

13) Everybody laughs at the idea of ice giants in the north… until they see them for themselves.

14) Young, noble children are cruelly thrust out into the cold, cruel world by evil adults, slowly learning to fend for themselves as they grow into young men and women.

15) A crown made to resemble antlers appears as a plot element.

16) 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.

17) The story begins shortly before the death of the old king, whose reign was peaceful, and 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.

18) The Children of the Dawn/Forest, who once lived throughout the realm, but who are now living in hiding, will have a part to play. They appear to be at odds with the otherworldly creatures in the far north.

19) A character whose name is Snow(lock), who is forced to journey into the north, is a main character. He appears to be a nobody, but his secret lineage is important. No one knows the truth…

20) A guilt-tormented knight, Sir Camaris/Ser Connington, spends years in exile in the south, only to return, where he is at last revealed as still being alive.

21) 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 group. But eventually, Danaerys/Tiamak will have a role to play.

22) The series was meant to be a trilogy, but got out of hand.

23) 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.

24) This same character is plagued by prophetic, spooky dreams.

25) 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 appear…

26) A servant of evil wearing a hound’s head helmet.

27) An important character of very short size. 26&27 thanks to

28) A fierce people of nomadic grasslanders.

29) Birds are used as messengers between intellectuals.

30) A battle on a frozen lake (not yet canonical in ASoIaF but still).
28-30  thanks to

31) Miriamele/Arya shoots/stabbes the Storm/Night King.