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.

 

Cover of “The Witchwood Crown” revealed!

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he cover for bestselling speculative fiction author Tad Williams’ new novel, The Witchwood Crown, has been revealed this week, and we at Treacherous Paths are excited to bring you this exclusive sneak peak. The Witchwood Crown, volume five in the four-thousand-page-long Osten Ard saga, continues the story begun in The Dragonbone Chair (1988), and subsequent sequels Stone of Farewell (1990), To Green Angel Tower (1993), and The Heart of What Was Lost (2017). It is the first volume in the “Last King of Osten Ard” series.

The cover art, painted by legendary artist Michael Whelan, depicts the Hayholt, with Hjeldin’s Tower looming ominously, its red windows glowing. The Hayholt’s buildings in the background closely resemble those depicted by Whelan in 1993 for To Green Angel Tower — a nice bit of continuity. The buildings in the background appear to be in the Inner Bailey and thus are likely to be the Residence, with its dome, and Holy Tree Tower.
thewitchwoodcrownThe cover art appears on the DAW Books Advance Reader Copy of the novel, so there may be some differences between this cover and the final US edition, which will be released in June of this year.

The ARC is 721 pages long, including a 25-page index. It also includes a dedication, acknowledgements, an author’s note, a frontispiece map, a foreword, and more maps.

The Witchwood Crown is expected to be released on June 27, 2017 in the US and UK, with Germany, the Netherlands, and other countries to follow. It will be followed by Empire of Grass, The Shadow of Things to Come, and The Navigator’s Children.

The Heart of What Was Lost is released; The Witchwood Crown is delayed (again!)

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oday writers Tad Williams and Deborah Beale confirmed rumors that The Witchwood Crown has again been delayed, this time until June 2017. According to their latest newsletter:

Note from Deborah: We’re less than a week from publication, US and UK territories, for ‘The Heart of What Was Lost’.  I truly hope you enjoy it, and see what I see, which is that it’s one from the heart (as well as see all the things you see, of course).

We’ve just heard that publication of ‘The Witchwood Crown’ has been delayed two months to June.  We’re not entirely clear on all the details.  Partly it’s this: it’s a big book, the copy-editing was complex and took a gargantuan amount of time, and other aspects of the book’s production were affected too; and partly it’s because sales and marketing want more time to more effectively sell the book.  We don’t know anything more than that at the moment, but will tweet or facebook when we do.

This confirms earlier rumors that the date for The Witchwood Crown had been pushed back. (We at Treacherous Paths have been involved in the review process, and are glad for the extra time to gear up.)

Heart_of_what_was_lost_Tad_WilliamsThe good news is that The Heart of What Was Lost, another new Osten Ard novel, will still be released on January 4th, 2017 (a few days from now!), and is available for purchase at all major bookstores: Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, Powell’s Books, Amazon, Alibris, The Book Depository, or your favorite independent bookstore.

The Heart of What Was Lost is set shortly after Williams’ last Osten Ard novel, 1993’s To Green Angel Tower. According to press releases (and without too many spoilers for the new books), this is the plot summary of the new novel:

 Ineluki’s loyal minions, the Norns, retreat north to Nakkiga, an ancient citadel which holds a priceless artefact known as The Heart of What Was Lost. They are pursued by the army of Duke Isgrimnur who is determined to wipe out the Norns for all time.

Meanwhile, enjoy this rendition of Marya’s River Song (the song Marya sings as she, Binabik, Simon, and Qantaqa sail down the River Aelfwent in The Dragonbone Chair) by Osten Ard fan Sebastian Barwinek:

Here are the lyrics to the song:

“…Now those who sail the Big Pond
Will tell you of its mystery
They’ll brag of all those battles
And all that bloody history
But talk to any river-dog
Who sails upon the Gleniwent
He’ll say God made the oceans
But the River’s what he really meant
Oh, the Ocean is a question
But the River is an answer
With her rollicking and frolicking
As fine as any dancer
So let Hell take the shirkers
For this old boat won’t carry ’em
And if we lose some crew or two
We’ll drink to ’em at Meremund…
Now some men go away to sea
And they’re never seen again
But every night we river-dogs
Are found down at the inn
And some may say we drink a bit
And punch it up a mite
But if the river is your lady
That’s just how you rest at night
Oh, the Ocean is a question
But the River is an answer
With her rollicking and frolicking
As fine as any dancer
So let Hell take the shirkers
For this old boat won’t carry ’em
And if we lose some crew or two
We’ll drink to ’em at Meremund…
In Meremund! In Meremund!
We’ll drink to ’em in Meremund
If we don’t spy ’em floating by
It’ll save the penny to bury ’em… !”

 

 

Geekiest of Geeks reviews Tad Williams’ “The Heart of What Was Lost”

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he first review is in for The Heart of What Was Lost, the new novel by fantasy author Tad Williams, and it is very good. Set in the Osten Ard universe, the novel continues the story told in Williams’ now-classic “Memory, Sorrow, Thorn” series, one of the inspirations for George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books.

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Douglas Croft from YouTube channel Geek In has reviewed The Heart of What Was Lost, calling it “a fantastic book”; he reveals that the story centers around the Norns, the embittered immortals of the far north, after the end of To Green Angel Tower. Croft states that readers who are curious about the ancient Norn society will finally have some of their questions answered, after an excruciatingly long 23-year wait, and that the novel “adds a whole layer of subtlety and meaning to what [readers] saw in the first three books.”

Mr. Croft also opines that The Heart of What Was Lost is likely setting up characters which will be important in upcoming Osten Ard novels The Witchwood Crown, Empire of Grass, and The Navigator’s Children. (The Witchwood Crown will be released in April 2017). The Witchwood Crown and The Heart of What Was Lost are both listed on Goodreads’ 2017 Highly Anticipated Epic Fantasy Novels list, near the top at #2 and #3, respectively.

The Heart of What Was Lost is scheduled for a January 2017 release, and the novel is now available for pre-order from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and other retailers. Doug Croft received an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of the novel.

Doug’s full video review, with major spoilers for “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, and some mild spoilers for The Heart of What was Lost, is below:

(Bonus points for Douglas Croft correctly pronouncing Jao e-Tinukai’i).

 

Twenty-fifth Anniversary of The Dragonbone Chair

This month marks the 25th Anniversary of the publication of Tad Williams’ fantasy novel, The Dragonbone Chair, Book One of “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.”  The epic series begins as the story of a simple castle servant named Seoman who stumbles upon treachery as nonagenarian King John lies dying. The book went on to become a nationwide best-seller in the US.

A war fueled by the dark powers of sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard–for Prester John, the High King, slayer of the dread dragon Shurakai, lies dying. And with his death, an ancient evil will at last be unleashed, as the Storm King, undead ruler of the elvishlike Sithi, seeks to regain his lost realm through a pact with one of human royal blood. Then, driven by spell-inspired jealousy and hate, prince will fight prince, while around them the very land begins to die. Only a small scattered group, the League of the Scroll, recognizes the true danger awaiting Osten Ard. And to Simon–a castle scullion unknowingly apprenticed to a member of this League–will go the task of spearheading the quest for the solution to a riddle of long-lost swords of power…and a quest that will see him fleeing and facing enemies straight out of a legend-maker’s worst nightmares!

Williams’ series went on to inspire George R. R. Martin to write “A Song of Ice and Fire,” which was adapted for television as Game of Thrones.