Looking to start reading Janny's books, where's the best place to start (obviously the beginning!) and in which order, can anyone help please?
Happy to help. If you want to try a stand alone novel I'd recommend To Ride Hell's Chasm. If you are the kind who doesn't mind plunging into a series, then Curse of the Mistwraith is the place to start. Both should be easily found in the UK.
Hi Allan - welcome!
I've done 3 standalone novels, one collection of short stories, and 2 series, under my name, and also one series in collaboration with Raymond Feist.
Jeff's recommendation for the standalone is a good start -
If you want a longer series, here's the order:
War of Light and Shadow:
Curse of the Mistwraith
Ships of Merior
Warhost of Vastmark
Cycle of Fire:
Keeper of the Keys
Empire series in Collaboration with Ray Feist
Daughter of the Empire
Servant of the Empire
Mistress of the Empire
Hope this helps!
The standalones are:
To Ride Hell's Chasm (EXCELLENT read!)
Sorcerer's Legacy - CAVEAT: HARD to find in the US, though you can get it via Amazon.uk - Another EXELLENT read.
That Way Lies Camelot - collection of short stories, including the three written for Wendy Pini's Elfquest anthologies. Great stories, but I wish some of them, such as Silverdown's Gold (personal favorite), was a full novel.
At the risk of adding even more books to the list, here's how I got into Ms. Wurts' books and what I think is the logical progression:
First series to read:
Ray Feist's original Riftwar saga
3. A Darkness at Sethanon
a good standalone series.
Janny's Empire collaboration with Ray Feist:
Compared to the Riftwar saga, the Empire collaboration shows the tightly entwined characterizations, especially the fully drawn female characters (lacking in Riftwar), that Janny added to this series.
Master of Whitestorm - a standalone novel of a gifted character fighting his personal and family demons. As an introduction to Janny's style of having the characters' doing something without copious exposition and having to work it out for yourself what might motivate the character and their reasons, no better grounding. I certainly felt like Haldeth at the end of the book trying to work out just what Korendir was really all about.
The Cycle of Fire trilogy.
2. Keeper of the Keys (UK cover is awful)
for a coming of age trilogy of three young protagonists, some unexpected tech in a fantasy novel, some bad daemons and some funky and cranky mages betraying one another over a difference of opinion for what should matter and what they should be responsible for.
Having sampled all this as the entree (US translation: starter), you are now ready for the main course - The Wars of Light and Shadow series, starting with The Curse of the Mistwraith..
To Ride Hell's Chasm is excellent. I read that faster than any book I've ever read. Great read and I'd start there. Then the WOLAS series with Curse of the Mistwraith. Then go to Cycle of Fire series and the one with Raymond E. Feist. That's how I would love to read them in that order if I were new to Janny's books. Hope that helps. The main course is definitely Curse. LOL grin: You might gain a pound from it too. Just teasing.
I have to agree with Hunter. Reading the Empire series without reading Ray Feist's Riftwar series does not really give you the context that provides for a fuller understanding of the story. It also gives you the wonderful contrast of two very different yet complementary fantasy writers. I gobbled up Magician, and couldn't wait for more. The Empire series was so different and exciting (ditto Hunter), yet I had that context.
I have never been able to find Master of Whitestorm or Sorcerer's Legacy. Love to read them after SF (which I have not gobbled, but am savouring. Reality intrudes too much for me to read the book for the hours that I want to (I blame my kids!)). I'll have to order them online.
Cycle of Fire was the first time that I ever heard of the concept of blending science fiction and fantasy. A really neat idea that was really adapted well into WoLaS, albeit more as background than it was in Cycle. Janny also puts her loveable characters through absolute hell in this series (NOTHING'S CHANGED ON THAT SCORE!!!).
To Ride Hell's Chasm is a fantastic, quick read. A lot of fun, with, of course, Janny's rich texture which has all of us wanting more about that world of invading demons and possessed sorcerers. Very different from WoLaS, but has all of Janny's trademark brilliant and gripping power.
I travelled the same route as Hunter. I have stretched out the enjoyment of SF as much as I can but I don't think I can avoid completion today. Next please Janny...
Clansman may I recommend 2 series that merge sci fi and fantasy brilliantly. Ill go post this in the book nook section as not to overly disrupt the thread.
Well, thanks so much, you all, for the lovely map!
I can also give the following recap, if that helps:
Sorcerer's Legacy, first novel, court intrigue and light romance storyline, moves fast, every chapter's a cliffhanger.
Master of Whitestorm - if you liked "Lethal Weapon" roughly - action adventure.
Empire - if you liked "Woman of Substance"
Cycle of Fire - the only "coming of age" book I've done, but all the protagonist kids have flaws they have to overcome - or not!!
War of Light and Shadows - hard to catagorize, but if you are a Donaldson reader, you could probably start here and do fine....it has the most layers of complexity, and needs an open mind, as it isn't the "traditional take" even though I leave some stuff with a traditonal "appearance" in place in the early volumes, because the unveiling of all that complexity would have overwhelmed the storyline. The books unlock each level, gradually, but all all the levels will shift your perspective on all prior volumes.
To Ride Hell's Chasm - starts out as a mystery, goes into a court intrigue, winds up action adventure, with the same sort of tension as the Cameron film, Terminator...most readers who love Empire series will like this one.
Short story collection, That Way Lies Camelot - this seems to appeal to mainstream readers in a big way, for some reason....
More info than you probably need - maybe an investigation of the excerpts section will clarify what "hits" for you.
Eek! Now I've got a horrible mind image.. Mel Gibson, complete with mullet, decked out as Korendir.. egad. Although I expect Korendir after surviving the Caves of Ellgol would have looked rather more like Mad Max at the end of Mad Max 2 (aka The Road Warrior).
Wow, this list is handy. I started off straight with the WoLaS series and have been wondering how to approach the Riftwar Saga and the collaboration work. Thanks for the list guys!
Yummm....To Ride Hell's Chasm, one of my favs! :D
I read all the books done with Feist - great reads!! I just finished Cycle of Fire - I hope Janny contemplates a sequel - the characters were so well done - I feel like I lost some powerful friends... Send us MORE of this team!
Hi Cheryl Ruckel - welcome here - you might check under the Cycle of Fire threads for more information.
What I have to say is strictly about The Wars of Light and Shadow (WOLAS) series. Earlier posts have offered a broader context of all of the writings by Janny Wurts; I'm going to stay within this yet-to-be-completed series only.
My focus is what you/i/the reader does, when it is inconvenient to begin with Arc I, never mind Book One, of WOLAS.
Personally, there was no word of mouth in my experience. Nobody recommended to me, Janny Wurts in general or WOLAS in particular.
My WOLAS journey began at the public library branch.
It was because the introduction was through public libraries that it was inconvenient to begin at the beginning of Wars of Light and Shadow. At public libraries, especially with this particular series of books, you get pot luck. Maybe you are fortunate and you visit a library with the beginning books in the series.
As for me, "Initiate's Trial" is my introduction to The Wars of Light and Shadow. There was no other book in the series at my local library; the book had recently been published, the branch had recently acquired their copy, and "Initiate's Trial" was out on display in the New Books display near the circulation desk -- which is different than the shelves where the New Books hang out until they are elderly enough to be shelved with the books that are no longer new, if you see what I mean.
"Initiate's Trial" provides some pluses for readers new to the series, I have to say. As the book opens, one of the most central characters, Arithon and-so-on-and-so forth (title and family name), is magically incarcerated, another way of saying it is under an evil spell, ... and to make his isolation the more complete, the spell/magic includes amnesia. Although he can recall that he is a singer and musician -- and has been specially confined so as to serve, at every waking interval, in that capacity -- he remembers little or anything else.
When he is suddenly broken out of his captivity with the aid of an outside agent, he finds himself outdoors in broad daylight, as if dropped by angels, with no idea who he is, where he is, or how he got there.
A new reader, in particular, has a golden opportunity to discover Arithon and his memories at the same time that he re-discovers and recalls his identity and his existence.
The sad truth, which registered users of this chat area will understand, is that copies of these books -- while they may be found -- are scattered about in such a way that many readers will discover the books out of sequence in reading order. What was true for me, will be true of many other new readers in the 2010's years and beyond, this many years after the initial publication of the opening books in WOLAS.
Of course I understand opinions that endorse reading the WOLAS books in sequence, that advice is pretty obvious and easily justified. Sometimes, though, you have got to be practical and deal with the situation at hand even though it is not the ideal.
Thanks for listening.
It is a pity the libraries cannot buy enough books to meet demand. In my local library they would have had enough if people did not keep stealing the books. I gave up in the end and just brought the books after I had finally managed to read up to Peril's Gate though the library.
I was lucky I started with a secondhand paperback version of Curse of the Mistwraith, because I already had books Janny had written and I liked, it caught my attention. So I did for once actually start at the beginning of a long series. I liked it and decided to read a few more before deciding on whether or not to buy the series. My library allows us to reserve books, so I just kept reserving the next one in series and waiting for it to eventually be available. But by the time I got to Traitor's Knot, all the available copies had been stolen. I gave up and just brought paperback copies of all the books. They are all still in print, luckily. Also if you fall asleep while reading they do not hurt as much when they hit you on the nose, some of those old hard covers from the library were heavy!
I did eventually get my own set of hard covers, because I liked Janny's character covers that much. Had to settle on the composite cover for the last few though. Seems my favourite WoLaS cover style is longer favoured by the publisher.
Always I would recommend starting with Curse of the Mistwraith for WoLaS, and reading them in order, you miss out on too much otherwise. It takes multiple reading to notice everything as it is.
I was introduced to this series on Goodreads and started with Curse. I then headed on through in my usual compulsive fashion, reading the whole series (up to Stormed Fortress) and then starting over, meaning to go more slowly. But it was as if the story got me by the scruff of the neck and dragged me through. It's been that way every time I've read it.
My eye sight has deteriorated (had cataract surgery last year) so it was fortunate that the books came out in eformat and I have them all on my Nook. I almost never get books from the library 📚 because if I love the book I want to own it so I can look up quotes, etc.
Like Annette I eventually got all the books in hard cover. I can only believe that eventually the series will catch on and become as popular!
Oh shoot, I put an emoji of a little stack of books but unfortunately it didn't translate on this page. So that's what 📚 is.
I was a Feist reader and liked Daughter of the Empire so when I browsed through the bookstore and saw another book by Janny with the pretty raised cover (love that cover!) I got it, not realizing it was a series at first.
I'll admit I wasn't as excited about the whole lost his memory bit because Arithon had just started rocking it and now he's worse than he started oh so long ago. But this chore had to be done sometime and of course tormenting characters is par for the course ;)
It's amazing to see how much growth the characters exhibit if you start at book 1 and read the whole series. I definitely recommend buying them if you can. Plus, you can keep rereading them and gleaning new info - something I rarely ever have happen in other series.
I plan on nominating Janny for the Hugo next year and encourage anyone who likes reading and has the time to buy a membership to nominate your favorite works. It might help get more of her books in those libraries despite the book thieves.
Like Auna, I was introduced to Janny's books through reading the Riftwar sagas. Luckily I was able to afford to buy the books otherwise they would probably be on permanent loan from the library! Our local library here in the UK will get a book from another branch to borrow for a small fee.
Plus I make notes in the margins(something I only do with this series) not advisable to do in a library book.
Of course the following is strictly my own highly opinionated thought ...
if you don't want to hear such, read no further ...
but "Curse of the Mistwraith" was a very difficult book for me, and I read maybe four or five of the books that came after it, before "Curse", the very first book in the series, was available to me.
To this day that book pleases me the least of the entire series. I have gotten over some of the emotions I had about it -- I was genuinely repulsed by some of what was in there. And of course the book is essential.
My position remains, though, that it is just as well that the first book in the series was not the first book that I read. Had I begun with "Curse of the Mistwraith," I would have been so disturbed that I would have thought long and hard before touching any of the books that came after it....eventually, I reckon, I would have gone to those later books in the series, and would have thought, as I think now, Oh I like these books MUCH better than the first one.
I also found Curse very diffifult reading, but not because of the events that took place, but because of Wurts style. About halfway through I began to get the rhythm of it and it really flowed after that. This series is definitely not for the faint of heart as events heat up and Wurts pulls no punches. But there are very likable characters and I find it hard to know who to root for, as in Warhost but was in tears at the end at the transformation.
I tried to get a friend interested in the series and she didn't like the whiny princes in book 1 so never tried the rest Maybe I should have tricked her into reading farther in the series!
The characters have developed so much that now it can be hard to go back and reread the earlier books. Especially the bits where you know they fail and you are screaming, "No! Don't do it!" Stupid, sneaky curse! :P
Well the first Janny Wurts book I ever read was actually written in a much simpler style to WoLaS, but is still a favourite of mine. Sorcerer's Legacy. Janny's most recent stand alone novel To Ride Hell's Chasm was also a fun read, not requiring a dictionary, or a complex understanding of language. I found each of Janny's series to be written in a slightly different style, only WoLaS had me running for the dictionary to try and work out the meaning of some obscure word I had never seen before. Or puzzling over some strange phrase, or sentence that at the time made no sense. And then there is all the actual story to puzzle over, and try and glean new insights about re-reading, and the Paravian words and language. Always plenty to think about.
If someone cannot get used to the complex wordage of WoLaS, there is probably going to be another of Janny's books or series they will enjoy.
I also was drawn into Janny's works through the Empire series. I was intrigued by the difference in the style from the "just Feist" books. My first were the Cycle of Fire books since that was what my library had ... all of those along with Warhost, and I hate starting in the middle of a series. Partway through Cycle, I started putting my inter-library loan requests in for WoLaS, in order, and other stuff they didn't have on the shelves. The somewhat different styles but still obviously the same author still keeps me ... fascinated isn't quite the right word but is close.
I've read enough historical stuff and have a large enough vocabulary that I wasn't really slowed down by the complex style and somewhat archaic word use of WoLaS, but I did make a concerted effort to slow down just to get all the detail. You can't rush ahead and skim the end of a sentence because you'll miss something as the sentence doesn't end the typical way. Curse was the first book in a long time that I immediately started rereading as soon as I had finished it since I knew I had missed stuff. Despite my efforts I rushed through because I so wanted to find out what happened next. After reading the first couple, I started buying them so I could reread at my leisure.
Once I find an author I like, I add them to my list of those I always keep an eye out for. It's much easier now with the internet to know what's new and when it's coming out. My kindle is a god-send since I'm a voracious reader (so is my husband) and our library is already overflowing the room. It also has the advantage of a built-in encyclopedia for those words Janny tosses in that I'm unfamiliar with.
Hi Melanie, welcome here!
Your post - and this whole thread - have been fascinating. It's rewarding to hear you managed to jump in at Arc IV and make a go of it. I tried extremely hard to make this possible, but so much is going on by that volume, one never knows if one succeeded or not, until a reader provides feedback.
I've heard of readers entering at book two, Ships of Merior and managing; though if they didn't go on and read Warhost, the finale gets missed.
I've seen feedback from readers entering at Fugitive Prince, start of Arc III, and their reviews say it all (they don't get Arithon/most can't handle his emotional state because they didn't see what created it).
I've heard of successful entries at Peril's Gate, and discovered by accident (gave away copies) of Traitor's Knot, and readers easily managed it, then went back and read the prior volumes. I'd never imagined a starting point at Traitor's Knot, but there you go - with a fresh look, based on new eyes, it can happen at that point.
You are the very first who's reported back that you enjoyed the entry at Initiate's Trial, and wow, that is gratifying to see. I know you have to be an extraordinarily patient reader, and a careful one who doesn't skim, by that...my publisher tried to do a giveaway of Initiate's Trial to kick off the launch of that series. They chose to do so on Library Thing, and wow, the readers there were NOT so careful and patient. Most were quite unforgiving of the fact this was far along in a series that is not styled episodically - and their ratings yanked the average for that book way down.
It's not recovered to this day, on that site, due to few readers posted more reviews there to even out the average.
My hat is totally off to you for a discerning person, and thank you for your post here (and inspiring others to post.) Feed back is so lovely and such a treasure, and I am always thankful for anyone who takes the time.
If you happen to be a posting member of LibraryThing, quite lovely if you feel up to leaving a review (don't worry if not, it's totally up to you, what you wish to say or not in public).
I certainly appreciate your unique perspective, particularly as I draft the final volume.
It makes sense to me that jumping in at Initiate's Trial would work since in essence Arithon has been reset and all the normally aging people are long gone. Oddly enough, I had initial issues with the book because of the jump and loss of connection with the previous book.
Thank heavens for Kindle and dictionary on demand right? I had a list of Janny words written out on a sticky note at one point. I still can't spell chiaroscuro without help but thanks to Janny I know what it means. ;) As well as sanguine, sanguinary, exsanguinate, and other fun words I'll run into again when I reread everything.
Just want to thank Janny Wurts for her direct, personal, and most welcome response -- a first for me. As a retired classical musician (specialty was music for the voice, so not only composers but poets from centuries outside of mine), it's a wondrous thing to go deep into a work of art whose author is still amongst the living!!
Janny, I'm excited to see this very interesting and deep discussion about WLoS! I think I started reading this series in 2009 and have thoroughly enjoyed every reread.
Melanie, I can understand your dismay at Arithons behavior. I felt it myself at times. But there is always an understandable explanation and most often his intensity reflects the depth of his own wounds.
Well, and in that initial bit he's trying to anger people into killing him, so he was saying pretty vile things.
Please, does anyone know what the word quillon means? I've searched for the meaning but can't find it. I know it's part of a sword, but not which part and it's driving me mad not knowing. Thank you in advance.
Quillion, Dorothy. I think the word is spelled Quillion. Check your spelling, and try again!
Quillion = Crossguard of a sword.