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By Mashiara Sedai, in Robert Jordan,

Here is an old audio clip of Robert Jordan speaking to a crowd of fans at a signing in Toronto, during the 2003 tour of Crossroads of Twilight.  Though relatively short, this clip is amazing to hear.  Mr. Jordan obviously had a flair when speaking to a group, and his humor really gets the gathered fans going.  The audio quality is not the sharpest, but the transcript—compiled by three fans, Rose Kraftick, Michael Seefeldt, and Canute Peterson—is posted as well.       

By Mashiara Sedai, in DM Website news,

Are you interested in writing about The Wheel of Time?  Dragonmount is currently looking for contributors to discuss all aspects of The Wheel of Time and its fandom.  Do you know a lot about Wheel of Time trivia?  Do you frequent websites that display the latest fanart?  Do you spend a lot of time conversing with other fans at conventions?  Let us know by emailing FrontPage@dragonmount.com.

By Mashiara Sedai, in Brandon Sanderson,

Oathbringer, the third novel in Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive, is now available! Check out Brandon's website to see the locations of the book tour.  Hopefully there's one by you.  If not, you can purchase Oathbringer from Dragonmount’s DRM-free eBook store!

By Mashiara Sedai, in Merchandise,

By Mashiara Sedai, in Fantasy Reviews,

This month’s “Fantasy Review” is for Brandon Sanderson’s YA novel The Dark Talent, the fifth in the Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians series.   Slight spoilers follow.   Synopsis: Alcatraz saved Mokia, but in doing so, broke his Talent and those belonging to nearby Smedrys.  Now he must try to stop his father with his wits alone.  With Grandpa Smedry, Kaz, Draulin, Cousin Dif, and Shasta, Alcatraz sets off for the Highbrary, the root of the Librarian’s power in the world.   But Biblioden, the original Librarian, isn’t as dead as history says.  The evil mastermind needs Alcatraz’s bloodline—which means he needs Alcatraz’s blood.   Pros: When I first learned Brandon Sanderson was going to finish The Wheel of Time series, like most fans, I ran out and found some of his books to read.  I read Elantis first, then the Mistborn series, and after that I read Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians.  When I had the opportunity to have dinner with Brandon as a Storm Leader at the release of The Gathering Storm book tour in Scottsdale, Arizona, I gushed over the Alcatraz book.  So unlike his other novels, but still so amazing!  This is a long way to say I have been waiting for this “final” book for a very long time!   With that in mind, this addition had all the same silly antics of the earlier books—a huge draw for me.  Alcatraz as the narrator is hilarious and such a delight to read.  Plus, the more serious plot line of trying to stop his father from giving every person a Smedry Talent makes it engaging and keeps up a fast pace.   There’s a lot of emotion here.  Alcatraz’s narration deepens as certain truths are discovered about himself, his family, and his ideals of the world.  Despite the comical nature of the whole series, there are some incredibly deep thoughts in these books.     Cons: The ending was not very satisfying.  I hate to say that—and I do believe that the feeling of being unresolved is exactly what Alcatraz wanted—but I did hope we’d get more answers out of this volume.  Brandon has revealed that there is still another in the series (if you don’t mind spoilers, you can see more details in his post here), but I’m not a big fan of cliffhanger endings.  Still, the prospect of seeing more to come gives me hope and I will wait patiently for the next release.   Conclusion: This whole series is worth a read.  It’s an amazing hybrid of fantasy, sci-fi, and humor.  As it’s geared toward children, some of the humor can be lowbrow, but much of it is clever, and likely to go over the intended audience’s heads.  Despite the lackluster and abrupt ending of this book, I will sing the praises of this series to anyone who will listen. It is one of my favorites of Brandon's works—behind The Wheel of Time and Legion.     Rating: 4 out of 5   You can purchase this book, and the others in the series, at Dragonmount's DRM-free eBook store!

By Mashiara Sedai, in Merchandise,

Some exciting new (and favorite) products from Ta'veren Tees!   Happy Halloween, WoT Fans! We're excited to announce the release of a monstrously cool new product just in time for All Hallow's Eve: the Trolloc Cup, on sale now at TaverenTees.com/trolloccup!     This cup is microwave and dishwasher safe, holds approximately 16 oz, and is hand carved - no two mugs will ever be exactly alike. Check out the product page for more information.   All of our mugs are handcrafted by Sean Robinson, an independent artist from North Carolina who takes great pride in creating these mugs for fans of “The Wheel of Time,” as he is a fan of the series himself. So far, Sean has created mugs featuring the icons of the Ta’veren, the White Flame, and the Dragon’s Fang. All mugs are approved by Team Jordan and can be can be found at www.TaverenTees.com/featured.       And, if you are shopping for the holidays, remember all mugs take 7-14 business days to ship and the last shipments for Christmas orders will go out no later than December 15, so get your orders in early!

By Ryrin, in DM Website news,

Hello again!  I'm back to report the goings on at Dragonmount.  Currently I'm enjoying "fall" in California. My air conditioner is on.    The Wolfkin are hosting an event exploring the use of herbs in cooking and health, and even offering a "Herbal Tea Reading."   You can explore your "guilty pleasures" in Shayol Ghul.   The White Tower and Warders have been attending the Fair, exploring Middle Earth, and are having fun with Halloween and Samhain.   The Black Tower has been reviewing "The Way of Kings" and "Tainted Minds."   The Band of the Red Hand are conversing about "bands" they have heard and a great fall topic: "Cider."   The Aiel are exploring "Rereads vs New Reads."   Last month, I mentioned a group in the White Tower and Warders are participating in rereading The Wheel of Time. I get stuck in some places; not many, but a few. To get myself unstuck, I move from the characters to the setting. I imagine what the setting must look like. I'm currently imagining Rhuidean. There are all sorts of buildings, many unfinished. The center is filled with objects of the Power. A fog permeates the city. Nothing like I've ever even considered, prior to Robert Jordan.   Robert Jordan's world is a very vast one. I'm convinced he was a genius, to create The Wheel of Time. While reading, I am transported to his world and often wish I could enter there. I think that is the epitome of being a fantasy author, to take your readers where you want them to go.   See you next month.

By Mashiara Sedai, in Rotating Features,

Studio Ghibli is currently in the middle of a film festival, showing one of their classic anime movies each month.  This Studio Ghibli Fest is occurring at select theaters all around the country.  So far, they’ve shown My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and this month’s addition will be Spirited Away. Spirited Away is one of my favorite anime films—and one of my favorite movies too.  I love the themes of bravery, perseverance, and the ability to see one’s soul instead of their physical body.  It’s a wonderful tale, and has so many beautiful characters.  The growth of Chihiro as the movie progresses is phenomenal.  She starts out so sheltered and winds up confident and capable. And Haku is my favorite male within the Ghibli universe.  He’s amazing! Plus the fact that he’s a dragon makes him the best in my book!  In preparation for seeing the movie on the big screen, I wanted to try to craft a Haku scarf.  I followed this tutorial, which was pretty easy. Materials needed: About 1/2 yard of white fleece About ¼ yard of blue fleece Fleece scraps in yellow, black, pink, gray, and brown Iron on fabric adhesive Optional: stuffing  Cut out the pieces This is the hard and boring part, but oh so necessary.  I put on music, or an audiobook, which helps keep my mind occupied during the arduous task.   Sew the head I loved that this part was done first.  It let me see Haku’s adorable face which really motivated me to finish the project. You can sew the eyes and nose on, but I used an iron on fabric adhesive.  Much quicker and gives it a nicer appearance.     Sew the body This part got kind of tricky.  I had to sew the back ridges into the body like a sandwich.  Plus it’s so long, it felt like I was sewing forever.  Sew the tail This was also tricky to sew because of the points and ridges.  But since it was small, it wasn’t a big issue.     Stitch them together I hate sewing by hand.  I’m terrible at it, and I can’t hide the thread the way the tutorials show me.  I’ve never gotten the hang of it.  So, my stitches are visible and clumsy, but I got a Haku in the end!       Stuff it? The original tutorial made a scarf.  But as soon as I was finished, I thought it was such a wasted opportunity.  Why have a scarf when you could have a ginormous Haku plushie?  So I used a ton of polyfil and stuffed my dragon.  This was the hardest part, getting the stuffing all the way up his body.  It probably took me thirty to forty minutes.  I was using every device I had to get the fluff up his butt.  In the end, it was worth it!  The finished Haku is beautiful and so cuddly!       I can’t wait to wear my Chihiro casual cosplay outfit, wear Haku around my neck, and see this movie on the 30th of October.         For next time, I might make something to accompany me to the showing of Howl’s Moving Castle.  Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

By Mashiara Sedai, in Fantasy Reviews,

I was excited to get to speak to J. Scott Coatsworth about his newly released sci-fi novel, The Stark Divide. The book was enjoyable, and I was eager to delve further into what its author had to say.  You can read my review of The Stark Divide here.   Slight spoilers will follow.   Q: The cast of the series is quite diverse, in terms of age, gender, nationality, and sexual orientation. I like that it suggests a uniform front in the future, people willing to work together regardless of their background or lifestyle. Was that a theme you wanted to emphasis?   Hmmm, that’s a great question. I’m a fan of golden age sci fi, when things were a little simpler. And while I sometimes like things dark and complicated, sometimes I’m in the mood for Star Trek. I was a Superman fan as a kid - I loved that he was true and strong and good, and for that reason I absolutely HATED Batman vs. Superman. We’r going through such a dark period now that I want to believe, have to believe that at some point, some of us will find a way again to pull together for the common good. So yeah, I guess that does come out in the book.   Q: The story also spans the course of 30 years.  How difficult was it to storyboard or brainstorm the steps for the evolution of Forever?  Can you tell us how far into the future the series will reach?   The Stark Divide is actually the second book in the series. The first one was written more than twenty years ago, and was never published. In the current timeline, it would take place a few hundred years after this part of the story. I sent it off around 1995 to ten big publishers - it took a year, but the last rejection came in, and I pretty much gave up writing for almost twenty years.   When I came back to writing in 2014, I decided to go back in time and figure out how the world came to be. It started with a novella that eventually became Seedling, the first part of the novel. I’m writing another sci fi series - Skythane - that’s told in a more traditional one story format, so doing The Stark Divide in a three-story epic format has actually been a lot of fun. Each story can stand alone, but they share characters, and allow me to telegraph the story over a long period of time. It’s exciting to see how things shift each time, as a decade or two passes.   The current trilogy will cover a hundred years, give or take. But I hope to eventually take it all the way across the stars, to mankind’s new home - maybe 300-400 years in all.   Q: Did you find it difficult with these jumps in the timeline? Or was it easy to let the reader conclude the natural steps between without it being shown in the text?   I think in most cases it should be easy for readers to fill in the gaps. It’s like getting to fast forward and see if the couple you liked really makes it, or if the world comes through the latest challenges and goes on to grow into something new. It’s one of my favorite things about the story.   Q: I love the undertone of religious epiphany throughout the piece. First in Hammond’s realization that AI may have souls, and then in the coincidental episodes that lead to Ana’s metamorphosis. Is this important to the plotline of the story arc, or just a detail of the characters?   It’s something I didn’t really plan at first. Initially I was going to have the Church be a villain in the first part of the story, but then it took a turn. One of my best friends is a very religious Catholic, but she’s also one of the most progressive people I know. I’m more on the atheist side, but when I asked her for some help on the confirmation process for the story, it made me think. It’s so easy for me as a gay man to make a villain out of organized religion.   Not too much later, my husband decided he wanted to go back to church for the first time in more than twenty-five years - a reaction to the growing strife and negativity we are all living through today. I went with him out of solidarity, and we found a progressive church nearby. These two events made me reconsider religion, and realize that it had a place in any future that would spring forward from our present.   So I decided to weave religion into the story, and it’s been a fascinating thing to work with.   On a side note, the series title, “Liminal Sky,” came out of a sermon Pastor Matt gave in which he used the word liminal to talk about the people on the edges of society. It was the first time I’d ever heard it, and so I looked it up:   Liminal   1. relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process. 2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.   It seemed perfect for the time when everything changes. Q: On that same note, Lex seems to be able to anticipate what may happen. Within your world, is Lex a deity?  Or is it more the processing of a supercomputer to analyze logical outcomes?   Hmmm, I’d never thought of it that way. Lex is not a deity, though there’s that famous quote from Arthur C. Clarke:    "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”   And I do play more with the themes of religion and heaven in book two, “The Rising Tide,” which I just finished. Q: Andy’s inherited “dipping” seems to be something similar to magic.  With this genetic code being passed onto the next generation, will more and more of humanity be able to bend the world around them?   Um, yes… and… kinda? There will be a lot more of it in book two, along with reaching and pushing. :P But by the end, things will shift again. That’s all I can say.   Q: The ending is bittersweet.  Was it depressing to write, thinking of how easily the world could be decimated?  Or is there more a focus on the hope that life will always find a way?   A little of both? I gotta say, part of me is ready to blow things up and start with a clean slate. We’ve gone so far down some dark roads that I’m not sure there’s a way back. On the other hand, the Obama years showed me what was possible when good people strive for big things, and I still hold out hope that things will change. Or yeah, that life (and mankind) will find a way.     You can purchase The Stark Divide in paperback or ebook here.  To learn more about J. Scott Coatsworth, check out his website!  

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