arnes and Noble has named speculative fiction writer Tad Williams’ upcoming The Witchwood Crown one of the best Science Fiction and Fantasy novel releases for June, according to their new list for June 2017. The first volume in a long-awaited sequel series called “The Last King of Osten Ard”, The Witchwood Crown takes up the story 34 years after the end of “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn”.
The Osten Ard novels (The Dragonbone Chair, 1988; Stone of Farewell, 1990; and To Green Angel Tower, 1993) became international bestsellers upon their release in the 1980s and 1990s, and they inspired a generation of other well-known writers, including Christopher Paolini, Patrick Rothfuss, and George R.R. Martin, who presumably named his cross-dressing character Arya (who travels with a wolf and is pursued through the forest by a man in helm shaped like a hound’s head) in homage to Williams’ cross-dressing character Marya (who is also pursued by a man in a hound’s helm while traveling through the forest with a friendly wolf).
Subsequent stories set in the world of Osten Ard include The Burning Man (1998) and The Heart of What Was Lost (2017), a bridging novel between the events of “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” and “The Last King of Osten Ard”.
Barnes and Noble’s summary of The Witchwood Crown reads, in part:
All those who love epic fantasy owe it to themselves to read Williams’ seminal “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn”, the classic trilogy introduced the universe of Osten Ard, one of the most detailed, best-realized fantasy settings in the classic vein, complete with ancient evils, dark magicians, and power struggles between princes. The books inspired many of the biggest names in the genre today (including George R.R. Martin), so Williams’ epic-length return to Osten Ard—after tying off loose ends in January’s short standalone novel The Heart of What Was Lost—is one of those rare new books with an ironclad hold on our “must read” lists.
The Witchwood Crown is one of B&N’s 26 picks for the month of June. Among the other books added to their list are: Neal Stephenson and Nicole Gallard’s The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.; Seanan McGuire’s Down Among the Sticks and Bones; and Terry Brooks’ latest Shannara novel, The Black Elfstone.
The Witchwood Crown will be released in the U.S. on June 27, 2017. Three more Osten Ard novels will follow.
nline Science Fiction magazine TOR.com today published an excerpt from The Witchwood Crown, Tad Williams’ upcoming new Osten Ard novel.
The 4000-word excerpt, found here, is told from the point of view of Jarnulf, a new character described as a pious Rimmersman travelling in the far north of Osten Ard. Jarnulf encounters one of the Hunë, an ice giant, a race that fought for the Norns in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn.
This is the second released excerpt from The Witchwood Crown; the first, from the Foreword, and describing a scene with Tanahaya, one of the Zida’ya, was released via video format in September 2015 on Read For Pixels, and is available on YouTube:
here’ve been lots of interesting things happening this month, some of which we can now share with you. Yesterday, Tad Williams, author of the classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” books, announced the completion of The Witchwood Crown, volume one of “The Last King of Osten Ard”. The book is scheduled for release in April 2017, just a few months after The Heart of What Was Lost, another Osten Ard novel, is scheduled to hit store shelves.
Hi, guys. I’ve just sent in the final manuscript (except for the page proofs, once it’s been typeset) for [The Witchwood Crown]. My last pass actually added a few lines, net, I think. 347K words — that’s about a 1200 page manuscript for me. I think that might come in second behind only [To Green Angel Tower] — I’d have to go back and check the Otherland books.
Anyway, it’s good to have someone take something like this out of my hands, because I’d keep fiddling ’til Doomsday otherwise.
347,000 words would make The Witchwood Crown Williams’ third-longest novel, with the order in length being:
1. To Green Angel Tower (520,000 words; 1,083 pages)
2. Sea of Silver Light (443,000 words; 922 pages)
3. The Witchwood Crown (347,000 words; 721 pages)
4. City of Golden Shadow (303,193 words; 770 pages)
5. Shadowheart (295,038 words; 730 pages)
6. The War of the Flowers (686 pages)
7. The Dragonbone Chair (288,297 words; 654 pages)
8. Mountain of Black Glass (285,272 words; 689 pages)
9. Shadowmarch (269,602 words; 656 pages)
10. Shadowplay (266,486 words; 656 pages)
11. River of Blue Fire (266,003 words; 634 pages)
12. Stone of Farewell (269,000 words; 589 pages)
13. Shadowrise (236,103 words; 564 pages)
(The Heart of What Was Lost comes in at a comparatively slender 224 pages). Williams later added:
The sad thing is, I can’t be as celebratory as I’d like because I’m several weeks overdue to start writing [Empire of Grass], the second full volume.
However, the good thing is that means I can sit around staring into the air for a few days while I order my thoughts about how the book is going to be shaped. That’s my favorite part of writing, to be honest. The part where you just think, not write yet.
Meanwhile, legendary illustrator Michael Whelan is hard at work creating the cover art for the new book, which will be the fifth in the Osten Ard series. On his official website, Whelan writes:
I’ve been painting a LOT of weird trees lately for the new Osten Ard Trilogy, trying to come up with a design idea that Tad Williams, Betsy Wollheim, and I like. The trees figure importantly in the new books so I’ve been working on them for weeks! It’s been a long slog, but I edge a little closer each day and I know it will all be worth it in the end.
Excerpts of The Heart of What Was Lost are already appearing in the Blogosphere, as Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist shared an excerpt on October 9th, and Treacherous Paths’ own contributor ylvs laDuchesse shared a sample of the text on Twitter yesterday. We at Treacherous Paths will be sharing more excerpts soon!
oday the cover art for Tad Williams’ new long-awaited novel set in the Osten Ard universe, The Heart of What Was Lost, has been revealed. The art features a witchwood sword with a white rose hilt. The foreground shows a snow-covered landscape, with ominous, dark mountains in the background. The novel is a sequel to the original, now-classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” series; the new book will be published in January 2017, followed closely by four additional Osten Ard novels, titled The Witchwood Crown (release date: April 2017), Empire of Grass, The Navigator’s Children, and The Shadow of Things to Come.
Williams describes the plot of The Heart of What Was Lost as: “[The novel] takes place in the half-year after the end of [To Green Angel Tower], and tells of the attempt by [Duke] Isgrimnur and a force largely made up of Rimmersgard soldiers to destroy the remaining Norns as they flee back to their homeland and their mountain. Of course, it gets a bit more complicated than that. It also answers some questions about what actually happened in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Green Angel Tower.”
The main characters in the new novel will be the returning Rimmersmen characters Isgrimnur and Sludig; Isgrimnur is the Duke of Rimmergard in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, a point-of-view character. Sludig was his lieutenant, and a dynamic and important character in the original trilogy; it is he who accompanies Simon, Binabik and Qantaqa north from Naglimund Castle, skirting around the western and northern sides of Aldheorte Forest in their long, cold quest to retrieve the Great Sword Thorn from the “Rhymer’s Greate Tree”. He then travels south with Binabik and Qantaqa around the eastern edge of Aldheorte to the Stone of Farewell, where he becomes Prince Josua’s Man Friday, accompanying the prince south to Nabban and then back north to Hayholt Castle.
According to Williams’ announcement, The Heart of What Was Lost will continue almost directly from the ending of To Green Angel Tower, though it’s unclear what this exactly means for the story. The fall of Green Angel Tower happens one year before the ending of the classic series, as the Afterword, after Chapter 60, takes place one year after the fall of the tower.
The Heart of What Was Lost is now available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers worldwide.
arly this morning, Tad Williams released the latest edition of his newsletter, where he talks about his writing, specifically with regard to The Witchwood Crown and the Gardenborn calendar.
Readers of Williams’ classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” series (comprised of The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower) will remember that the Gardenborn are the elder, elf-like race who sailed across the seas to Osten Ard from a mysterious eastern land known as Venyha Do’sae, the Garden That is Lost. The Gardenborn clans, composed of Sithi, Norns, Dwarrows and Niskies, settled in Osten Ard and established rule over a land empty of men… until centuries later, when mortal men arrived from across the western seas.
In “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, Williams had previously developed calendars that were used in most of the mortal realms; the main calendar closely resembled our own (Gregorian) calendar: months with alternate-reality names like Septander, Octander, Novander and Decander. The months July and August were named Tiyagar and Anitul, after the Nabbanai imperators Tiyagaris and Anitulles. (An interesting aside: although they are never mentioned in the text or the appendices, a careful reader can infer (even though readers are told to “avoid assumptions,” we’ll risk it here) that there are old Nabbanai gods named Jonevus (or similar) and Marris based on the Erkynlandish months named Jonever and Marris, and also likely an old Nabbanai god named Satrinus, based on the Erkynlandish day named Satrinsday).
Despite Williams’ detailed work on the mortal calendars of Osten Ard, the full calendars of the long-lived Gardenborn were never revealed in the original Osten Ard novels. However, with the upcoming release of the new “The Last King of Osten Ard” sequel series, the focus has turned to the Norns, according to the author, and their calendar now plays a part in the new books.
Mr Williams gives some insight into his creative writing process as he talks about how the Gardenborn calendar developed in the writing process. He also gives some insight into how important it was for him that the new books match up with the old books when it comes to continuity. Williams writes:
So a few weeks ago I’m working my way through the 1st novel of the new trilogy, The Witchwood Crown, in final rewrite. One of the many things that happens during my final rewrites is that I crystallize a lot of the smaller details, or sort out confusions and inconsistencies and commit to a final version of troublesome bits of the history/plot/etc. In this case, I decided I needed more references to calendars for the “immortals”, especially since in this book I’m actually spending a lot of time with the Hikeda’ya — aka, the Norns. One of the things that we learn in the new books is that the name of the Norns and Sithi when they were still one people was “Keida’ya” — “Witchwood Children”, because of the importance of that tree and its products to their civilization going all the way back to their old home, the Lost Garden.
There’s already some built-in complexity because of their old calendar from the Garden and their way of counting years — a Keida’ya Great Year is a bit more than sixty years in length (and why that’s true is another story for another newsletter) but they’ve been living in Osten Ard, which is more or less like our world, for thousands of years, so they have to have developed some kind of calendar that matches our world. The most obvious markers for such things are the stars, the sun, and the moon. The stars feed into the Great Year idea and others, so I concentrated on moons as the source of the calendar, as they are (roughly) with most real-world societies.
Williams states that during the writing of The Witchwood Crown, he conceived of months with names like Mother, Father, Child, Flower, etc. Eventually, however, he discarded these names entirely when he realized a partial list of months might potentially already exist in the later chapters of Stone of Farewell, in the magical song that Aditu sings when she brings Simon to Jao e-Tinukai’i, the Gardenborn settlement hidden deep in the ancient Aldheorte Forest:
Aditu and her brother Jiriki, cover of To Green Angel Tower
I realized that I already had the beginning of what could be a symbolic lunar calendar back in Stone of Farewell, when Aditu the Sitha leads Simon “from winter into summer” — from the rest of the world, in the grip of the Storm King’s winter, into Jao é-Tinukai’i, a place where the Sithi hold sway, which is at least temporarily immune to the Storm King’s magic. When I thought about all these evocative characters that Aditu mentions as she takes Simon from one season into another, it suddenly made sense that she should be invoking the names of things or powers or spirits or gods or whatever pertaining to different times of the year — in other words, her journey through seasons should be in part evoked in the names of the moons from different parts of the year.
The character names that Aditu invokes in this passage (the Serpent, Wind-Child, Tortoise, Cloud-Song, Otter, Stone-Listener, Lynx, and Sky-singer), then temporarily became the basis for the Gardenborn calendar in Williams’ draft of The Witchwood Crown, providing an explanation for Aditu’s invocation of those names in the novel. Williams then added four additional names (Ice-Mother, Wolf, Raven, and Fire-Maiden) to the already existing names to bring the full number of months to twelve. Then the author ran into a major problem:
I made this list and was all happy and pleased with myself — I even went back to the Witchwood Crown manuscript and put these moon names in various places where I’d left a blank space waiting for a date-name, especially in the Norn sections — I had a horrible recollection.(Horrible because it would mean more work. Thank God it came to me before the book was finalized!)
Anyway, what I remembered was that when Simon, Binabik, and Miriamele entered into the deserted Sithi city of Da’ai Chikiza by river (and the city will almost certainly feature in the new books) they passed under a succession of bridges, called “Gates”, that had something to do with moon cycles. So I went back to The Dragonbone Chair and looked it up and damned if Binabik didn’t specifically say “These gates represent cycles of the moon”. So immediately my most recent moon calendar turned out to be wrong, because TDC mentions several “gate” names, and none of them correspond with Aditu’s incantation.
So there I was. I either had to say Binabik was mistaken (which goes clear against my principles, unless it’s in a minor, minor mistake that can be easily explained) or I had to throw out everything that didn’t match, which would mean that the new Da’ai Chikiza stuff would wipe out my (still unpublished) second version based on Aditu’s incantation. Which would be a shame, because I really liked the connection, and it brought a little quasi-historical light to a magical section of the old books.
The author then decided to merge the two draft calendars together to create one unified calendar:
Thinking about it, I decided that what seemed quite realistic to me was that each patron spirit (or god or ancestor, or legendary hero/heroine, or whatever) might have both attribute names and animal names — that both could be ways to describe them, but neither would be the patron spirits’ actual NAMES. So then the problem was to make the two lists match up somehow.
Williams’ letter not only sheds light on his creative writing process, it also reveals how deeply committed he is with establishing a continuity between two series of novels (“Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” and “The Last King of Osten Ard”) which were written thirty years apart. It is clear that Williams has been working diligently to avoid major continuity errors.
The cover of The Dragonbone Chair shows Simon, Binabik, and Miri traveling through the ruins of Da’ai Chikiza
Hidden in Williams’ text is another (small, but important) revelation: that the lost Sithi city of Da’ai Chikiza, Tree of the Singing Winds, will also feature somewhere in the new series. Da’ai Chikiza is the ruined city depicted on the cover of The Dragonbone Chair; what remains of the city are the old Sithi ruins through which the main protagonists, Binabik, Simon, and Miri, travel as they attempt to escape the Queen’s hunter Ingen Jegger and his deadly white hounds.
The Witchwood Crown, the first novel in the upcoming “The Last King of Osten Ard” series, is set for publication in April 2017, to be proceeded by the shorter Osten Ard novel The Heart of What Was Lost in January 2017, and to be followed sometime thereafter by three more long Osten Ard novels (provisionally titled Empire of Grass, The Navigator’s Children, and The Shadow of Things to Come).
To subscribe to Tad Williams’ mailing list, and for regular updates on the publication schedule for the five new Osten Ard novels, click here.
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 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.
oday, Random House website Suvudu.com revealed three brand-new re-issue covers for international bestselling author Tad Williams‘ classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” dark fantasy series. The covers feature beautiful new cover art by legendary science fiction/fantasy artist Michael Whelan, who painted the original covers for “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” almost thirty years ago.
The updated artwork is the first major revamp of the classic covers of The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower since the books first went to print in the late 1980s/early 1990s, at least in America. Whelan, winner of fifteen Hugo Awards and three World Fantasy Awards for best artist, is known for his detailed and painstaking work, which often involves months of research and manuscript reading.
The new covers will appear on updated U.S. DAW Books trade paperback editions of the original trilogy, with a newly-revised edition of The Dragonbone Chair scheduled to appear in July 2016, followed by Stone of Farewell in September 2016, and To Green Angel Tower in November 2016. These volumes will be closely followed by two brand-new Osten Ard novels: The Heart of What Was Lost in January 2017 and The Witchwood Crown in April 2017. Three or four additional novels are planned, with The Witchwood Crown being the first volume in the highly-anticipated sequel series “The Last King of Osten Ard”.
First up is the new cover for The Dragonbone Chair, the cardinal volume, which features a blurb by George R. R. Martin, author of the bestselling A Game of Thrones: “Inspired me to write my own seven-book trilogy… It’s one of my favorite series.”
Whelan’s artwork accurately depicts the sword Minneyar, also known as “Year of Memory” or simply Memory, one of the Three Great Swords spoken of in the Mad Priest Nisses’ ancient prophecy:
“When frost doth grow on Claves’ bell And shadows walk upon the road When water blackens in the well Three Swords must come again.
“When Bukken from the earth do creep And Hunën from the heights descend When Nightmare throttles peaceful sleep Three Swords must come again.
“To turn the stride of treading Fate To clear the fogging Mists of Time If Early shall resist too Late Three Swords must come again.”
Scheduled for September, the new cover for Stone of Farewell features the Great Sword Sorrow, also known in the Sithi language as Jingizu. Whelan’s illustration accurately portrays the double-hilted sword, which is made of both iron and witchwood, two materials which were considered inimicable, perhaps because neither the iron nor the witchwood are native to the lands of Osten Ard: iron was brought from Ijsgard east to Osten Ard on King Elvrit’s longboat Sotfengsel, while witchwood was brought westward to Osten Ard by the undying Sithi on their eight great ships.
The great sword Sorrow is described in the text: “… in a sheath at [King Elias’] side was the sword with the strange crossed hilt […] there was something queer and unsettling about the blade… [It] had a strange double guard, the cross pieces making; with the hilt, a sort of five-pointed star. Somewhere, deep in Simon’s self, he recognized this last sword. Somewhere, in a memory black as night, deep as a cave, he had seen such a blade…”
The new cover contains a blurb from author Patrick Rothfuss (“The Kingkiller Chronicle”): “Groundbreaking… changed how people thought of the genre, and paved the way for so much modern fantasy. Including mine.”
The third volume, To Green Angel Tower, is scheduled for a November 2016 re-release. The cover features Michael Whelan’s depiction of the Great Sword named Thorn.
The text describes the sword thusly: “it was a sword like no other he had ever seen: long as a man’s arms spread wide, fingertip to fingertip, and black. The purity of its blackness was unmarred by the colors that sparkled on its edge, as though the blade was so supernaturally sharp that it even sliced the dim light of the cavern into rainbows. Had it not been for the silver cord wrapped around the hilt as a handgrip— leaving the uncovered guard and pommel as pitchy as the rest of its length— it would have seemed to bear no relationship to mankind at all. Rather, despite its symmetry, it would have seemed some natural growth, some pure essence of nature’s blackness extruded by chance in the form of an exquisite sword.”
The cover features a blurb from author Christopher Paolini (Eragon): “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is one of the great fantasy epics of all time.” We at Treacherous Paths can’t disagree.
We will keep readers up to date on more news as soon as we’re authorized to release it.
ig news today, as Amazon has added Tad Williams’ The Heart of What Was Lost to its website as an item which may now be pre-ordered from Amazon. The new novel, a sequel to the original classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” books, takes place sometime shortly after the events of the original series.
Amazon gives the length of the novel as 368 pages in hardcover, with a publication date of January 3rd, 2017. Amazon also lists the Kindle edition as available for pre-order. Williams, the international bestselling author of more than twenty speculative fiction novels, including The War of the Flowers, Caliban’s Hour, and the “Otherland”, “Shadowmarch”, and “Bobby Dollar” series, talked a bit about some of the plot details of the new novel, including a few spoilers:
[R]eturning characters from MS&T are Isgrimnur and Sludig […] There are also a few others such as Akhenabi (a Norn magician) who had brief appearances in MS&T.
So two of the characters will be the returning Rimmersmen Isgrimnur and Sludig; readers of the original series will recall Isgrimnur, the aging Duke of Rimmergard in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, a major point-of-view character who throws his lot in with the rebel Prince Josua Lackhand of Erkynland in their quest to remove Josua’s brother, the treacherous King Elias, from the Dragonbone Chair.
Sludig was Isgrimnur’s lieutenant, and he was a dynamic and important character in the original trilogy. It is Sludig who accompanies Simon, Binabik and Binabik’s wolf companion Qantaqa north from Naglimund Castle, skirting around the western and northern sides of Aldheorte Forest in a desperate, cold attempt to retrieve the lost sword Thorn from the “Rhymer’s Greate Tree.” Sludig and Binabik eventually return to Prince Josua with the Great Sword Thorn, but it is Simon who is knighted by the prince.
The Heart of What Was Lost is Williams’ first new Osten Ard novel since 1993’s bestselling To Green Angel Tower, and this first new novel will be followed by four additional novels. The second novel, The Witchwood Crown, is already scheduled for an April 2017 release.
Williams is now releasing some early, provisional sketches that he created during the writing of The Witchwood Crown, which his wife and business partner Deborah Beale kindly shared with us, and which we are now sharing with all readers.
The first sketch is a map (right, clickable) of Sturmrspeik, the great mountain of ill repute inhabited by the Norns, embittered relatives of the immortal Sithi. Beneath the great mountain lies the ancient city of Nakkiga, home to Utuk’ku Seyt-Hamahka, Queen of the Norns and Eldest of all living beings in Osten Ard. Williams’ rough map shows the location of the mountain itself, with the great Nakkiga Gate guarding the pass. Around these landmarks are the white waste of the Himilfell Mountains, which stretch both eastward and westward from the area. The second map sketch (left, clickable) is also of Sturmrspeik and Nakkiga, showing the locations of several well-known Norn landmarks as well as some which are entirely new. The Queen’s throne room appeared in the classic series, and makes a reappearance in the new map. Among the new landmarks are a Black Garden and a White Garden, as well as a subterranean lake, and an area marked as Great Processional. A bridge over the moat connects Nakkiga’s tunnels with the Queen’s Bridge.
We have more maps and diagrams, and will share more soon.
his week, acclaimed Science Fiction and Fantasy author Tad Williams, author of the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn;Otherland; and Shadowmarch series, announced via his official newsletter that he is in rewrite mode on two of his new novels, The Heart of What Was Lost and The Witchwood Crown, both due for publication by DAW Books in 2017. Both novels are set in Osten Ard, in the same universe as his classic Memory, Sorrow and Thorn books. Williams wrote:
I am deep, deep, DEEP in Osten Ard history at the moment. Having finished the first drafts of both THE WITCHWOOD CROWN and THE HEART OF WHAT WAS LOST — in the first case, most of a year ago — I’m in rewrite mode on both to finalize the stuff I left vague in the first drafts.
Williams has communicated that the writing process for the new Osten Ard novels has been unusual in that although he normally writes very detailed drafts, in this case, he has spent much more time on the worldbuilding, because returning readers already know this world:
I know so much more about my own imaginary environment than I did a year ago, despite the fact that I think it was already one of the more catalogued invented worlds. I know the name of all the original Scrollbearers (the learned folks who make up the League of the Scroll) when King Ealhstan began it, two hundred years or so before Simon and company. I know the history of the two great families of immortals, the Hamakha and Sa’onserei, all the way back to the garden, in far more detail than anyone else needs to know. I know the order in which the Eight Ships came to Osten Ard, and I know what happened to Seni Ohjisá, mentioned only in a song in the first set of books. I know the names of people’s horses when even the names of the people who ride those horses will remain essentially meaningless trivium in the final story, if they even show up.
Stone of Farewell (1990) discusses the Hamakha-Sa’onserei feud and the eight ships of the Garden
Williams’ mention of the families Sa’onserei and Hamakha refers to the ruling dynasties of the Sithi and the Norns, two of the immortal (and ever-feuding) races in the classic Osten Ard novels, with Queen Amerasu no’e-Sa’onserei presiding over the mortal-hating Sithi, and Queen Utuk’ku seyt-Hamakha ruling over the even-more-mortal-hating Norns.The two families’ bitter, centuries-long feud is a central plotline in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, and lies at the heart of the conflict in the series.
Williams’ reference to the “Eight Ships [that] came to Osten Ard” harkens back to the legendarium of the Gardenborn, the immortal clans exiled from the Lost Garden, which the author only briefly hinted at in passages of the classic Osten Ard novels, written in the 1980s and 1990s. Stone of Farewell (1990) mentions the eight ships, as the protagonists Simon and Aditu enter the Gardenborn city of Jao e-Tinukai’i, and pass by the woven cord art at the edge of the city:
They crossed a bridge over one of the river-forks, then turned and followed the watercourse down a long corridor of willows. A ribbon of white cloth wound in and out among the trees on their left, wrapped about trunks and looped over branches. As they passed farther down the row of willow sentries, the initial ribbon was joined by another. These two snaked in and out, crossing behind and before each other as though engaged in a kind of static dance.
Soon more white ribbons of different widths began to appear, woven into the growing pattern in knots of fantastic intricacy. These weavings at first made up only simple forms, but soon Simon and Aditu began to pass increasingly complex pictures that hung in the spaces framed by the willow trunks: blazing suns, cloudy skies overhanging oceans covered with jagged waves, leaping animals, figures in flowing robes or filigreed armor, all formed by interlaced knots. As the first plain pictures became entire tapestries of tangled light and shadow, Simon understood that he watched an unfolding story. The ever-growing tapestry of knotted fabric portrayed people who loved and fought in a gardenlike land of incredible strangeness, a place where plants and creatures thrived whose forms seemed obscure even though precisely rendered by the unknown weaver’s masterful, magical hands.
Then, as the tapestry eloquently showed, something began to go wrong. Only ribbons of white were used, but still Simon could almost see the dark stain that began to spread through the people’s lives and hearts, the way it sickened them. Brother fought brother, and what had been a place of unmatched beauty was blighted beyond hope. Some of the people began building ships…
“Here,” Aditu said, startling him. The tapestry had led them to a whirlpool swirl of pale fabric, an inward-leading spiral that appeared to lead up a gentle hill. On the right, beside this odd door, the tapestry leaped away across the river, trembling in the bright air like a bridge of silk. Where the taut ribbons of the tapestry vaulted the splashing stream, the knots portrayed eight magnificent ships at sea, cresting woven waves. The tapestry touched the willows on the far side and turned, winding back up the watercourse in the direction from which Simon and Aditu had come, stretching away from tree to tree until it could no longer be seen.
Williams then writes about the editing happening on both of the new novels, writing that he has received (hopefully useful) feedback from early readers of the manuscripts:
And I’ve also been getting the first feedback from readers of the new manuscripts in the last half-year, so I’m trying to let that wash over me as well, influencing the rewrites in a good way without overwhelming my own natural trust in what I’m doing.
That last part is particularly important, because I chose to let my first readers see a much rougher first draft (at least of TWC) than usual, so of course everyone pointed out the stuff that I would most liked to have fixed first before releasing, like “So-and-so has no personality”. I mean, it’s true — So-and-so is definitely a stiff at this point, but part of that is because when I was writing it I wasn’t exactly sure how old So-and-so was, or what he or she had experienced in life, or what was going to happen to him or her later on, and which of the character’s traits and what part of his or her life history would be useful and necessary to deepen the character, and so on.
The balance point here, as in any worldbuilding, is knowing how much material you need to know to feel comfortable writing in that world — which will always be less than you’ll actually use. Even though my worlds are generally long on history and convoluted recitations thereof, I obviously won’t cram everything I’ve figured out into the books themselves (although I am getting more resigned to having to do an Osten Ard Companion someday, with Silmarillion-like tellings of all this background material. A good project for my old age, shortly before all the dog hair I breathe and cat scratches I suffer from every day finally kill me).
If such a project takes place, the Osten Ard Companion would become the tenth or eleventh Osten Ard book, after The Burning Man, The Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, To Green Angel Tower (parts one and two), The Heart of What Was Lost, The Witchwood Crown, Empire of Grass, The Navigator’s Children, and The Shadow of Things to Come, the last three of which are expected sometime after the publication of The Witchwood Crown.