New readers - feel very warmly welcomed to chime in, if you have just encountered this book, and this series, now!
If you want to tell how you found out about it, I would love to know!
I will De-lurk for a moment to chime in on this one. I am not really new to this series but not really an old hand either.
I came across the series about 5 years ago. The first book I found was COTM. It so happened that the highschool I went to, an agricultural high school with a focus on equine science... in the middle of a huge city... go figure? Anyways, the school I went to was located inside of a large public library. I was told to bring a book I wanted to read to class and tell why I wanted to read it and how I learned about the book. Fortunately for me, I completely forgot about the assignment. So 5 minutes before class I rushed into the library and actually went down the isle to pick up a book by Tolkien that I had not yet read but there wasn't one there. So with one mintue till class I cast around frantically to find a book I thoght I could talk about for at least 30 seconds. And I saw the cover of COTM and thought, Wow that is really exceptional cover art! It was incredibly detailed and not at all like the overly muscled guys on the covers of romance novels that they slap a sword on and say "Hey look, now we a scifi fantasy novel!" Of course the obvious things stood, the white and black color symbolism, but what intrigued me was the fact that neither character on the cover looked evil as should have been Arithon's character...black... Anyways.
So I rushed off to class and explained why I had picked that book. Only I didn't tell them I had not chosen the book until about 10 seconds prior to the start of class. I made up something about how the book was recomended by a family friend, and the author was supposed to be very detailed in character analysis and so far that was proving to be true of the first 10 pages or so I had had the time to read.. when actually I hadn't even read the back cover yet.
I intended to take the book back to the library after class because honestly I didn't have the time to read the novel, go to highschool and college at the same time and hold down a full time job to help support the family. But as I was sitting in the class listening to the kids who couldn't read explain that they picked their books because they thought they didn't look too hard. I started reading the back cover of COTM and then I started reading the intro and realized that what I had first liked about the cover art, was not that just a good artist, but that the artist was the author and this was sure to be worth the time.
And I have been hooked ever since, I tell everyone I know about you Mrs. Janny and I now have a reputation for giving away good books. As I have purchased the set at least a few times and given most of them away to people who tell me they like scifi fantasy but have never heard of Janny Wurts and are still lost in the land of Terry Brooks. Don't get me wrong, I like a Terry Brooks novel from time to time, but I just can't find anything that holds a feather to Janny! and the cover art just keeps on getting better!
I'm not new either =P But maybe if we break the ice a little the newbies will be more inclined to jump in. I believe I mentioned I found Curse at the library... I've always been a little crazy for the library (at one time my sister, my mother, and I combined had around 75 books checked out at one time....) Anyway, I was just randomly browsing and picked it up off the shelf, thought "hmm, pretty cover art", and read the back. Sounded interesting enough, so I put it in my bag. This was my freshman year of high school, and in our English class we had those weekly silent reading periods that everybody hates but I loved because c'mon, getting good grades for doing nothing but sitting there reading is totally awesome. I'd happened to bring Curse in my bag, so I pulled it out. I remember this very clearly, actually. It was a cold and rainy November afternoon and so I was curled up in the window on the heating vent. (My English teacher was awesome, he totally didn't care, and he was the speech team coach as well and I was on the team so I could get away with a lot :P) So I cracked the book open and read the prologue, then flipped to the words "The longboat cleaved waters stained blood red by sunset..." Half an hour later, the bell rang, and I looked up, thinking "What just happened? Where am I?" Lol I went around the rest of the school day pretty much in a daze, and the instant I got home I grabbed a snack and blazed through a good chunk of the rest of the book. So Janny, you should be proud for writing such an addictive series, and a gripping first book! I'm trying to get into Erikson's Malazan series right now and having trouble with the first book =(
Actually though I didn't know WoLaS was a series! There wasn't anything in my copy to indicate that and the ending had wrapped things up enough that I'd figured it was just one of those "open" books where the end is left ambiguous. Two or three years later I was in the library again and saw Fugitive Prince. I think my squeal shattered windows. ^^;; I grabbed it of course but I didn't get very far into it because I couldn't figure out what was happening. Then a while later I saw Ships in a bookstore and instantly proclaimed, "Mine!" Lol. I guess the rest is obvious. I found the paravia.com url in the back of one of the books and here I am!
In order to roll out the welcome mat a bit further, as an oldie to the series and a relative newbie to this site (about 2 years ago, I think), I latched on to Curse of the Mistwraith when it was first released in paperback back in the early nineties. I came to it through my reading of Feist's Riftwar series, and Janny's collaboration with Ray Feist on the Empire Series. I still think that series is the best stuff with Ray Feist's name on it. Needless to say, when I saw a Janny Wurts book, I grabbed it!
I was hooked from the very beginning, with the sages of the 7th Age looking back to properly discern the history of the turbulent 3rd Age, but by the point of Konran's quote of the longboat "cleaving the waters stained blood red by sunset" I knew that I would be procrastinating big time on my school assignments. And I did. (Procrastinate, that is.)
Let's say that there has been a lot of procrastination since, as I have eagerly awaited the hardcover of each successive book in the series. 8 in perpetual re-reads, and 3 to go!
Konran, it took me a while to warm to the Malazan series and I'm still not sure I like them though I've read four of them and I'm currently reading the sixth book. The reason I'm not sure I like them is that the world is very "dark" and the events that are playing out are often intense, though very interesting.
The reason I'm reading book 6 instead of 5 is that the author has previously went into the past in one of the books for the purpose (I think anyway) of introducing a character and I could have done without that. Also, I want to stay with the main story line. The author is running multiple storylines, though they are linked. I.e., book 1 takes place in Genabackis but book 2 takes place on a different continent (I think there are references to Seven Cities in book 1). This shifting occurs again in later books.
I do find the books intriguing and I'm hooked much in the way I was hooked by Stephen King's Misery. I despised the book because the incidents were so graphically intense (insane?) but had to finish it to find out how it all ended. While I'm not completely put off by the events (there was a mass event that irked me to no end) in these books... the end better justify the means. ;)
I'll chime in, too.
I also found Janny through Raymond Feist. While Magician hooked me on Feist, and I've gotten just about everything he's written, the step up in detail and density in the Empire series stimulated SERIOUS interest in Janny's work. Being an Amazon-aholic, I quickly snapped up everything that was out there (fortunately, still available at that time.)
Now, I sit waiting, on pins and needles, for the next installment.
And, unlike pretty much all of my other favorite authors, Janny has never disappointed. Instead, the quality and entertainment value seems to increase geometrically!
Janny, please finish the next book SOON! lol
Stormwarden was first for me, picked up in paperback in a hotel lobby shop of all places while on my first business trip after graduating from college. Pined for more for a couple years, and was richly rewarded with the Empire series (had independently discovered Magician by Feist, and so Empire was more than one could hope for....turned out that way, too!). Grabbed the rest of both series, then again was wanting more when I found Mistwraith in the *gasp* marked down section at the book store near the boardwalk in Rehoboth, Delaware during the annual trip to the beach (it still has the discount sticker on its dust jacket).
Hard to believe its been 15+ years since Mistwraith, but oh what a ride....
Trys, it's not the "intense-ness" that bothers me per se, it's just that I'm having trouble connecting with the narrative. It's like, "ok, that's interesting, why should I care though?" I hear that the first book is the weakest in the series though and my husband is really enjoying them so I'm going to try to push through and finish up to the second book at least.
Konran, my difficulty is the same. The second book was better, but I barely started the third before it went back into the TBR pile.
But methinks we should move this particular discussion to the book nook.
My start was simple enough. A friend of mine (back in the days when GC was the latest release) handed me the whole series and spake thusly: "You will read this."
(I don't know if Janny remembers him, he says he hovered around during the last time she visited Swancon hereabouts...)
Thanks for all the folks who've chimed in - makes me hot to write, you betcha, since the pleasure is mutual when it's shared. Ah, and - the latest on the drafting board - very fun!
Technetus - I may - did he speak to me, give a name, get a book signed? I do recall, even, a few lurker faces, who hung about but didn't say much. Swancon WAS GREAT!!! It had such a fabulous bunch of people. One of my fondest memories, that trip, all of it...I'd go back in a heartbeat!!!! I always wondered if the folks who brought us there realized how richly we enjoyed the experience, how warmly welcomed we felt, and how cool the people are. I sit here, halfway across the world, and think about you OFTEN.
Also discovered Janny through Feist. I had been lapping up the Feist books but had prolonged the "dual-author" title for a long time (I knew I liked Feist, but who was this "Wurts" character). At some point there was nothing else on the shelves that I wanted to read -- and I had to read something that day so Empire it was.
Oh, my god. I'd found something deeply intense that Fiest never had (his books had clearly good and clearly evil -- other than Fairy Tale (which was also fantastic). Am 41 now. I think I've (sadly?) outgrown his books (and I'd add Brooks to that list, too, but I digress)).
But -- who was this Janny Wurts... because clearly I'd never read any of this sort of intrigue, hidden plots, "gray" characters before, twists and turns that in hindsight made perfect sense but were completely unpredictable. Was this really the result of collaboration or could she do it on her own???
So... I start hunting and come up with these "light versus dark series" -- which I was desperately hoping didn't turn into some cliche.
Wow, again. No cliches here. Goodness and evil entertwined. Great story. Great premise. Lots of history. And intrigue? Even "The Tudors" themselves would shake their heads.
Absolutely fantastic, intelligent, thought provoking, relevant, original.
I'll never outgrow these books. Question is will I ever really be old enough for them...
p.s. But if I ever see a combo "Wurts - Fill in the blank other author" -- I'll probably still take a while to warm to the idea of My Author "in book" with someone else... ;-)
Hi Seljo - welcome to delurk! Nice to hear from you - and I did get a laugh - because if ANYTHING, ever, appears with my name on it, either as half or whole partner - it WILL meet a standard. No exceptions. But I don't blame anyone for reservations - collaboration does change the dynamic.
I will say that I've never read a bad book from Janny -- and I think I've read just about her entire collection *insert rolling of eyes and muttering about obsessions*
I'm another who found Curse of the Mistwraith in the library. I read it over and over because I kept discovering new things each time I read it. My mother was diagnosed with cancer that year and I took care of her until the end, and reading the series (up to that point FP) kept me sane. I have never failed to discover something new everytime I read the series. They make me think, they make me feel, and they have given me so many hours (days, weeks, months, years) of enjoyment. I had to replace COTM several times because I have loaned it out to people to get them started and then didn't get it back.
Same year my mother was diagnosed with cancer, Susan, and I have to agree about the value of respite here; mine only made it halfway to Grand Conspiracy, as well. Another reason to thank you for the great stories, oh Talespinner.
Grand Conspiracy gave me something to focus on in my grief. Yet, for all the heartache going on Janny's books don't bring back those memories. Instead they were and are the bright spots. When I found the website and discovered I could actually email her, I was over the moon. And she responded. I felt very honored. I, too, thank-you Janny. Your books have meant more to many of us than just fantastic reads. They literally become life lines for some of us in our darkest hours.
Susan and Mark - I am awestruck - not by what the books did, but for what you've gone through, and that you managed to read at all - I am glad that the books were there for you, to help you get through.
It is proven, in fact, that reading books reduces stress.
I've always embraced the idea that stories are gifts of experience, made for somebody else.
Thank-you Janny. Everyone suffers loss and tragedy. I have always turned to books to reduce stress as well as for hours of enjoyment. Though, to be fair, you have made it hard to read other authors. Your books are so exceptional. Currently, I am cleansing my mental palette by reading light mysteries.
I also discovered Janny through the local library. To the say the least, I've been an avid reader from a young age. I was 11, fresh from conquering all the young adult section had to offer, and ready for a challenge (if I only knew...). For me, reading equalled staying out of trouble; however, the average 300 page book was generally devoured in less than a day, so keeping me supplied was quite the task. My mother (poor woman *grin*) took me to find the thickest, nongraphic books at the library (Tad William's series ending in To Green Angel Tower), and when that didn't phase me, moved on to another plump volume near it...Curse of the Mistwraith. That was a good day (or days...I was certainly unable to finish it in one setting!). I do not know how I managed to comprehend half of what was happening below the surface, but I've been hooked since, impatiently waiting the release of each new book. Four re-readings later, and I still find new meanings and depths. You all know all the amazing qualities of our great author here--suffice to say that, in my opinion, Janny Wurts = Best. Author. Ever.
Marie - you read this book at age 11?
I wish I could have you on hand when there's a whiner about "couldn't read this because the vocabulary SUCKED!" - grin.
I am going to remember this...(wicked grin),
Thanks for your really nice comment - these books were made for re-reading, and new things will be found, at any age.
Perhaps you are the youngest reader, ever? At least, about the youngest I've heard of. One, at twelve, held the record before you.
Wow, Marie. Reading this book at age 11. That's truly amazing! Like you, I ran out of books in the library early on (it was a very small village). My mom had to seek special permission from the librarian to allow me to read the young adult section which, to my horror, had no pictures in the books at all. I quickly learned to create the characters in my own imagination.
We moved around a lot when I was growing. The toughest part for me was learning new languages along the way (e.g. English is my 4th lingo) because it meant I could not indulge in books as easily - what was once easy and fun suddenly became hard work. So it was a while before I rediscovered my passion for reading, what with distractions of homework and later "real" work. When I did, I realized how it helped me relax and I rediscovered sci-fi and fantasy, where I feel most at home.
I got to know Janny's work through Feist like many others here. The Empire series immediately appealed to me in a way no other in the genre had. For one, because I spent much of my time growing up in east Asia and the series resonated with the culture that had become part of me.
At the time, I lived in Singapore and a small bookstore had a system of exchange in which you got some money back if you returned a book you finished. I didn't return any of the Empire books. Instead, I kept them to remind me of who this wonderful author was, and started seeking out other work by her.
I was not prepared. Reading Curse of the Mistwraith for the first time was a real shock. The writing was more complex than anything I had ever attempted, but the story drew me in with its depth of character development and plot, and so I didn't mind the "hard work" that came with it. Unlike Susan, however, I am not able to read Janny's work when life throws me a curve ball or two -- they just take too much concentration .
I've been hooked ever since the first time I picked up Mistwraith, and have reread the books several times. I often come and read posts here just to keep in touch with the "Janny community". I'm not surprised there is a dedicated fan base for Janny's work - it's truly wonderful. Over time, I've come to appreciate that more and more, especially as I have worked my way through most authors in the genre by now and finding anything that compares is difficult.
Anyhow, just a bit of my story, since we're sharing.
Ah, yes! Another bit of deviltry to use against those who say it's too tough to read. I'm glad to be of service, though I'm sure you can more than hold your own!
On a side note, let me say that reading that series at a young age shaped me more than I realized at the time (only upon later re-readings did I see where some of my ideals came from). The wastefulness of war, the NECESSITY of always looking at things from all prospectives, and that most things are constantly in the grey realm (along with a certain penchant for dark-haired, green-eyed musicians, of course ). These were echoed in later things I encountered, but I believe CotM was the foundation upon which it was built. Thank you, Janny--I wouldn't have it any other way!
Hi Phome - welcome here -
Bless you people, these are exactly the sorts of story I hope will get out there and entice new readers.
Janny: He did get a book signed (and if memory serves, he also had his entire collection of Don's cards individually (!) done as well). I wasn't at Swancon that year, but if I remember the signing (in his copy of FP) correctly, it read "To Wade, welcome back to Athera!"
Mention was also made of his trying out the bagpipes.
If you're remembering a skinny blonde guy about 6' tall with glasses, that's him.
I've actually known about this series for a few years now. An admin at a forum I frequent is a fan - she told me about the books and got me interested.
English books are hard to find in Finland so when I went to London in 2008, I instantly bought "To Ride Hell's Chasm" from Borders. When I got back home, I noticed that a few Finnish online bookstores had the paperbacks of WoLaS for sale.
...Just a few days ago - aka three years later - I decided to check the online stores again. The books were still there. So I bought the four first books. :3 They'll be arriving next week~
You're in for a treat!
Beldarius - welcome here, glad to hear the books have found a nice home with you! Enjoy.
My experience was: I just found the SERIES itself. This particular book, the first title in the WOLAS series, is another matter.
I knew of neither Janny Wurts nor mr. Feist, at all.
Between the discovery and the present day, several years have now passed. When I finally picked up one of the Feist books, it was after getting acquainted with solo Wurts. Have not read their collaborations at this point.
The public library was my starting point, as well.
However, the only book they had was Book no. 9.
I had never before taken notice of the series in general, nor of the first eight books in particular.
So I did, in fact, "just discover" Book no. 9, and after reading that one,
I was compelled to look up the previous books.
As my posts have disclosed on other threads,
Curse of the Mistwraith, when I finally got my hands on a copy, was hard going. I had a real visceral gut-level dislike of the book. I had to force myself to read it. The opening chapters were a big fat turn-off. They left a sour taste in my mouth.
Curse of the Mistwraith is essential, of course;
the books after it don't make sense without the information in Book 1.
Now I will have to scare up a copy (borrowed from other branches in the library network locally) in order to go back, in Curse of the Mistwraith, and read the later pages without staggering and grinding my teeth. Which means skipping those opening chapters.
i found Curse of the Mistwraith on the bookshelf in publix in orlando a very long time ago.
Melanie, I am very curious as to why you found the opening chapters so difficult. What precisely caused the "big fat turnoff"? I have long wanted to know more about Dascen Elur (especially a map, Janny!) and the brief glimpse we had in Peril's Gate was not enough (in Kewar).
Please be descriptive. I love exploring perspectives opposite to my own (I was hooked from that longboat cleaving the blood-red waters)...
Well, Clansman, since you ask.
Book 9, Initiate's Trial, begins from the perspective of a gifted individual magically incarcerated, whose amnesia robs him of his history and his context in the world. He has his three great gifts of music, magic, and compassion. With these he receives one tormented spirit after another, and dedicates himself to their healing. This until a perfect stranger intervenes, and causes him to be released by a power beyond his own.
From this context of healing and post-traumatic recovery,
I found myself in Book I, confronting a captive under durance vile who responds to questioning with outbursts like "Go force your sister."
The contrast was positively dissonant.
Strange book to have started with Initiate's Trial, considering that both it and CoTM start with the master as a captive. But yes, the differences in how he responds to both situations is very different.
Clansman, I agree with you. Janny could we please get to know more about Dascen Elur and Meath, also all the other worlds beyond the worldend gates (maybe a few shorts for those worlds). ;D
I could recommend, immediately, a visit to the FAQ section of the paravia website that has a lengthy in depth explanation of how the feud between s'Ffalenn and s'Ilessid began, it's not simplistic at all.
I do have a map of Dascen Elur underway; unfortunately a short story deadline stalled it in progress, all the technical pens dried up, and had to be cleaned. I'm afraid to re load them with fresh ink unless I can see my way clear to finish it, which isn't now....we are renovating the office (a process that was on 'hold' for decades until our deadlines lined up to provide an opening) and after that, financial reasons will demand I paint stuff to sell at DragonCon.
If things go sideways politically and the health care goes unaffordable next year, our only chance to stay covered is to pay a LOT MORE, which means: income has to go up, and dramatically, or we lose our coverage.
I do have some short works also on the boards, hopefully one of them will be finished soon, AND the new draft for Song of the Mysteries.
The current discussion is totally fascinating: yes, Arithon reacts completely differently in the situations presented. I do wonder if some readers miss the significant point unveiled by the High Mage's seer in the little subchapter: that Arithon is acting reprehensibly BECAUSE, precisely, he is trying to provoke his captors into killing him rather than endure what he knows is coming. His situation (as he saw it then) was cornered and hopeless, and unlike other times in other books, he had NO ONE else dependent on him/he saw his death as the way to avoid being the scape goat and suffering the wrath of the entire feud; and if he died, maybe Karthan's people would be spared, since there would be no s'Ffalenn left to take the blame. This scene ties directly to another in Peril's Gate where he actually finds out he did not fail; so many connections, not surprising they get overlooked. Curious, though, if that motivation IS noted, if it alters the reaction of a reader....what was the 'moral' high ground in a situation where there 'appeared' to be none.
Introduction of Arithon in "Curse of the Mistwraith" is a piece of writing that is going to get attention. This character, more than his half-brother Lysaer, is going to end up being a pivot on which the entire saga can turn in any given direction. So it is a big deal to me to see how Arithon is introduced.
In the bigger picture, however, there is the fact that in "Curse of the Mistwraith" alone, Arithon goes through so much change. Lysaer also has much to endure, but what Lysaer goes through is not all that big a transformation. Arithon could be said, in "Curse of the Mistwraith," to live an entire lifetime right during that book, with so much happening to him, and with him struggling to respond and confront what is before him.
And having looked at it from that perspective, it is clear that I need to go back and re-read
"Curse of the Mistwraith," and soon.