Epic Fantasy Heists – The Fantasy Focus Podcast

My first ever podcast interview is now up on the Fantasy Focus website!

It was a lot of fun chatting with Jamie and a great experience for me. Have a listen as I discuss The Weapon Takers Saga and my writing journey with fellow Fantasy author Jamie Davis.

The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams

Being the first book of The Last King of Osten Ard, a series sequel to the seminal Memory, Sorrow and Thorn.

These days references to the ground-breaking fantasy series Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams tend to be as an inspiration to GRR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. The similarities have been identified and are but a google search away. The danger is that Memory, Sorrow and Thorn becomes a side note in someone else’s chapter in the history of fantasy rather than getting chapter of its own, which it richly deserves.

To help make this point, Williams has now returned to Osten Ard thirty years later (both by our reckoning of years and theirs) with a new series.

Doing so after such a long gap brings its risks. Williams pulls it off, producing something familiar enough to feel like a continuation, but different enough to account for the passing years.

 

CHARACTERS

One problem Williams had was an inheritance of a massive cast list from the original series, combined with the need to introduce fresh characters for this one. He blends the two well, aided by the fact that he gives himself 300,000 words to do it. He avoids easy get-outs, such as having a cull of older characters in the first few pages, and is respectful of his earlier characters.

I didn’t re-read the first series before jumping in with this book, and it is quite possible to enjoy this book without having read the earlier ones. Having said that, you are a little overwhelmed with characters early on here, in a way that wouldn’t happen if it was a totally new series.

His original characters: Simon Snowlock, Miriamele, Tiamak etc — have been aged convincingly, from young heroes to weary rulers. This older cast, with their wounds both physical and emotional, combines well with Williams’ gentle, melancholy writing style.

A number of new characters are, in effect, the bad guys, and seeing their point of view definitely adds something to the tale, and is one example of Williams moving with the times in his approach to this series.

 

WORLDBUILDING

This is Williams’ strength. Of course, he is revisiting a world he created thirty years ago, but the size of it—the history, politics and religion of each culture that come together to make it a living, breathing world, remain impressive.

This level of painstaking worldbuilding is perhaps old-fashioned now, with the current penchant for in your face attitude and violence from page 1. And one issue with Williams’ style remains: the pace. Boy, I remember how slow The Dragonbone Chair was first time around. It’s the biggest barrier to people enjoying his work. And The Witchwood Crown isn’t much better—incredibly slow-build, with things only really picking up in the final quarter.

 

PLOT

Tanahaya, a Sitha, travels to Erchester, the capital of Osten Ard, but is ambushed, almost dying from her wounds. Although the humans attempt to treat her, she remains on death’s door, and why she was targeted remains unclear.

The King and Queen, Simon and Miri, have become care worn after ruling their kingdom for thirty years, and suffering the loss of their only child, John Josua. The question of inheritance looms large, as their grandson and heir, Morgan, is considered a wastrel, though there is more to this story than most characters can see. Political troubles begin to simmer in the far-flung corners of the High Ward and they must rely on their old friends to keep the peace.

Meanwhile, in the cold dark mountain of Nakkiga, Utuk’ku, the Norn Queen, has awakened. Nezeru, a half-blood Norn Sacrifice, is assigned to a hand of Norns who are ordered to leave their realm in search of dragon blood.

In truth, there must be at least twenty POV characters here, scattered across the realms of Osten Ard. I enjoy that level of complexity, but of course not everyone will. It takes a good while, but by the end of the book you can see these threads starting to come together.

 

Overall, if you are ready to get invested in a deep world and a huge cast of characters, to put in the time as the story develops, then you should enjoy this tale from a master of epic fantasy.

The Jalakh Bow – Out Now!

The Jalakh Bow is now available to buy on Amazon. The paperback edition has been released and the eBook is on pre-order, with a release date of 30th March.

Greg Patmore is again going to narrate and produce the audiobook version, and I am hopeful for an autumn release of this.

I’m excited about some promotion news coming up in April, so stay tuned for that!

 

The Jalakh Bow

The Jalakh Bow, Book 3 of The Weapon Takers Saga, has just had its cover reveal over on the Fantasy Hive — check it out, there’s a full series blurb and they’ve displayed all three books in the series – I love seeing all the books together!

 

The formal release date will be 1st April and the eBook is likely to go up on pre-order before that. The book is already up on Goodreads here. I have quite a few things planned to coincide with the launch, so stay tuned! 

I’ll leave you with the blurb for the book to whet your appetite:

 

The weapon takers have bought themselves some time to complete their quest. But when their enemies return, they will find that they have become more ruthless and more terrifying than ever.

In the steppe lands of the far north, Soren must seek out the bow of the Jalakh tribes. In Kalinth, Belwynn must face a mysterious evil disguised as a friend. And in the high mountains of his Krykker homeland, Rabigar must learn a bitter lesson: nowhere is safe.

The Jalakh Bow continues the action-packed series, The Weapon Takers Saga. The series concludes with Book Four, The Giants’ Spear.

 

 

Beyond The Shadows

The grimdark fantasy anthology Beyond The Shadows is now live on Amazon. There’s been a great initial response to the release, with positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

There are 15 stories in the anthology, including my own, Stiff’s Standoff. I’m now a third of the way through the book myself and I’m impressed with the variety of the stories that I’ve read so far. I’m also surprised it’s such a HUGE book – I’ve taken a picture of the paperback which gets across how many words we collectively put out!

Beyond The Shadows on my bookshelf

The eBook version has a new release price of 0.99 until the end of the month, when it will go up to 3.99, so now is a great time to get it.


Bolivar’s Sword Audiobook Out Now!

Greg Patmore and Bridget Thomas have done another fantastic job with Bolivar’s Sword. They really bring the cast of characters to life and I thought it was such a fun listen. Greg was recently nominated for Best Narrator at the 2018 SOVAs and I’m so pleased I’ve got him on board for the series!

The audiobook is now available at Audible, Amazon and iTunes. You can have a listen to the sample below.

audible.com

audible.co.uk