Tor Books has announced it plans to release Warrior of the Altaii, a previously-unpublished fantasy novel by Robert Jordan. The book is currently scheduled for release on October 8, 2019.
Warrior of the Altaii was written before Robert Jordan began The Eye of the World (which was published in 1990). After finishing the manuscript, he received an offer of publication from Donald Wolheim at DAW Books. Jordan responded to the publisher that he was happy to receive such an offer, but wondered if some changes to the contract could be made. The publisher replied by cancelling the offer, saying that unknown authors shouldn't make such demands. Here's Robert Jordan talking about it:
"...I found out that he didn't like beginning writers to ask for changes. He thought that beginning writers should accept what was offered. So the result of my asking for the changes was that I got a letter back saying, "Dear Sir, in view of your contract demands we are withdrawing our offer. Sincerely, Donald A. Wolheim."
I looked at the two letters and I didn't know why I'd gotten the second, as I hadn't demanded anything. It was actually a very diffident letter, and I had ended by saying, "If any of these requests seem out of line, please let me know." Thus throwing away everything, but I knew that I had no real knowledge of publishing.
So, I decided to ignore the second letter because the first letter said; you can write."
Jordan sold the book again in 1979 to Jim Baen, who worked for Tom Doherty at the time at ACE books. The project never got off the ground, in part because Baen was focused on science-fiction at the time, and because Tom Doherty left to found Tor Books. The rights to Warrior of the Altaii ultimately reverted back to Jordan, who decided to rest the project.
What's it About?
The book's official plot description:
Draw near and listen, or else time is at an end.
The watering holes of the Plain are drying up, the fearsome fanghorn grow more numerous, and bad omens abound. Wulfgar, a leader of the Altaii people, must contend with twin queens, warlords, prophets and magic in hopes of protecting his people and securing their future. Elspeth, a visitor from another world, holds the answers, but first Wulfgar must learn to ask the right questions.
But what if the knowledge that saves the Altaii will also destroy them?
Not much else is known about the plot yet, but Wheel of Time fans can likely expect a "proto-WoT" novel filled with thematic foreshadowing that resonates with Jordan's later books. Warrior of the Altaii is expected to be a more modest-sized novel, at least in comparison to Jordan's later books.
Why publish it now?
Robert Jordan is on record several times saying that he didn't expect to ever publish this novel.
"Its title was Warriors of the Altaii, and you will never see it, or know anything about it. I have not destroyed the manuscript, because it has powerful juju...but in my will I have provisions to have that manuscript burned. But until then I'm afraid to get rid of the juju that resides in it."
It's clear now that Jordan's comment about having the manuscript destroyed was made in jest. Fans should remember that he made similar comments about how he would have his hard drive erased if he ever died before finishing The Wheel of Time series, and that he could never imagine another author writing in his universe, which he destained at the time as "sharecropping."
Harriet McDougal, Robert Jordan's wife and the editor of The Wheel of Time series, had this to say:
When I reread Warrior of the Altaii this winter, after this long intermission, I was amazed at the foreshadowing of The Wheel of Time. You will find many hints of what is to come. One of the most obvious is the name of the major mountain range – the Backbone of the World. In The Wheel of Time, it is the Spine of the World. I think you’ll have fun finding them as you read this brand new Robert Jordan – a fine wine that has reached its perfect maturity.
Although Robert Jordan has been gone for well over a decade, his legacy, and his stories live on. With this new novel, which was both his first, and his last, he is once again showing us that time, indeed, has no beginnings or endings.
Warrior of the Altaii is now available for pre-order.
Edited by Jason