Are you interested in an officially licensed The Wheel of Time™ coloring book? If so, please read on and respond in the poll over at Amy Romanczuk's blog. The poll is in the right sidebar. Your response will help determine how many coloring books to print. The more commitments to pre-order the sooner they'll be printed. Details that will hopefully help to answer your questions: •"Patterns of the Wheel" is an officially licensed book of coloring art based on The Wheel of Time™ •The book contains 20 designs by Amy Romanczuk •Book dimensions are 8.5 x11 inches (21.2 x28 cm) •Each drawing will be stand alone on a page of high quality paper (i.e. no bleed through to a drawing on the backside, or for easy removal should you want to display your art.) •The drawings are all in my pysanky-inspired style. If you are not familiar with my art, you can visit www.czukart.com and check out some of my other works, including my first coloring book. (I will also post some thumbnails of in the comments.) •I anticipate the pre-order price will be $20 (USD) plus shipping (my website will calculate USPS postage.) •Preorders can alternatively be picked up at JordanCon, if that option is selected when ordering. •A few books may be available for sale at JordanCon in the print shop and in the charity auction. The price will be the regular (TBD) price, not the preorder one. •I am not able (my own reasons, not the Con's) to (wo)man a table in the dealer's hall, though I will have a display in the art show and some of the originals will be available there. •Books will remain available on my website, after the pre-order time period is over, until all are gone. There are no plans for a second printing at this time. •I can mail overseas (my site will calculate postage and include it in the purchase price.) •Currently working with Ta' veren Tees so that some will be available through their shop/convention tables at other conventions. •Poll results will be tallied in mid February and I will place the print order accordingly. •You will still need to preorder when that option opens up. I will post in this thread and separately when that occurs. If you could indicate the likelihood of your pre-ordering Patterns of the Wheel, a coloring book based on the WoT, please indicate so in the poll. There also are options for ordering multiple copies. At this point, there is no differentiation as to how you plan to receive your pre-order, but there will be on the website when the ordering opens up. Though this poll appears in several locations online, please only vote in one place. Thank you all so much! Robert Jordan has the most wondrous fans!
Are you interested in volunteering for Dragonmount? Now is the perfect time to get involved! I am looking for three to four people to join my staff as bloggers. Applications for these positions will be open until Sunday, January 31st, 2016. Description of the Job Positions: 1. Monthly Roundup Blogger. This person will be responsible for doing a brief recap of some of the important events/threads happening on the forums. Please look here for past examples of this column. 2. Rotating Features Blogger. This person will be responsible for a short monthly column that will have different types of content each time. This person will work off a list of ideas for features (partly ideas that have already been thought of for you, and partly ideas you can make up and run by me for approval) and rotate the features. Please look here for past examples of this column. 3. Humor Blogger. This blog is a regular feature on Wednesdays. This person will be responsible for a short monthly column featuring a combination of existing WoT humor from around the Internet (e.g. Mat's Inbox, the WoT lightbulb jokes, the WoT Lolcats) and creating their own WoT humor content. Please look here for past examples of this column. 4. Fan Art Friday Blogger. This person will be responsible for a short monthly column that will have such content as fan art, analysis of fan art, and occasional interviews with artists. Please look here for past examples of this column. Job Duties for Both Front Page Blogger Positions: 1. Bloggers are expected to produce content in their respective areas for the front page once per month. They must be able to meet deadlines in a timely manner. 2. Bloggers occasionally will be called upon to assist the Front Page Admin with brainstorming new ideas for features. 3. Bloggers are expected to dedicate time each week to the Front Page Bloggers Staff Board and the DM Staff Board. As members of DM Staff, they act as representatives of the members of DM and their input is vital in the decision making process. Bloggers should be actively engaged in discussions on staff boards. 4. Bloggers must be able to give at least a 6 month commitment of approximately 5 hours per week. LOAs will come up, of course. Anyone who thinks they can fulfill the requirements may apply. Strong candidates are people who possess the following qualities: efficiency, writing ability, organizational skills, creativity, maturity, and the ability to work well with others. The Application Process: If you are interested, please send an email to email@example.com. In each application, please include: * Your DM Handle. * Some details about who you are in real life, including anything you think will have prepared you for leadership (including past online leadership experience). * A sample of your writing consisting of at least three short paragraphs. This can be in the form of a brief essay, a blog, a school paper, a newspaper article, a forum post, a short story, or a role play. You do not have to write something new for this application; in fact, many of you already have forum posts that are long enough to count. I mainly want to get an idea of your writing style. * Anything else that you think would set you apart from other applicants. Why are you the best candidate? Note: Please specify the position for which you are applying (Weekly Roundup Blogger, Rotating Feature Blogger, etc.) in your application. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and I will try to answer them. ~Mashiara
I was so excited for another opportunity to speak to Dr. Michael Livingston. He was one of the guests at JordanCon this past April, and I was able to hear him on multiple panels. However, now that I've read his brilliant debut novel The Shards of Heaven, released November 24th, I was happy to discuss it in more detail with him. Q: First off, you have an impressive background in history. How much did this prior knowledge help in thinking up the idea for The Shards of Heaven? A: Very kind of you to say. You've probably heard me speak at JordanCon about how J.R.R. Tolkien created a myth behind the myths of our past, and how Robert Jordan in particular took Tolkien's project and opened it up to a wider range of world culture: the Wheel of Time is a myth made of myths past, present, and future. I've long been fascinated by these efforts, and their wondrous accomplishments have left me wondering what more there was to do. In one sense, The Shards of Heaven (especially when viewed as a series) is my answer. At its core, the story that begins in The Shards of Heaven is about creating a myth behind myths -- just like Tolkien and Jordan -- but it's a myth bounded by the very real limitations of historical places and times. I wanted to meld fantasy and history -- crazy as that sounds -- and erase the lines between them. So knowing a bit about history was a huge part of the project. Q: When writing this fictional tale, was it easy to turn off the professor inside you? Or did you find you wanted to tell the story in a lecture format? A: In many respects I don't see a fundamental difference between these modes. It doesn't matter whether I'm writing Shards or I'm lecturing on Tolkien's philological background or I'm writing a footnote-heavy argument about what happened at the Battle of Crécy … in the end, I am telling a story. The methods may be different, but at the heart it's the same thing. Q: Would you suggest others who are interested in writing historically based novels to do the same sort of background research before starting? A: I'll always be in favor of getting the history right! In addition to the pedagogical aspects of doing so, history is a goldmine of truths that are more amazing than anything we can imagine. Whenever I'm stuck in the plot of the Shards, for instance, I just do some research on the period or place and almost inevitably I find something extraordinary to push the narrative forward. There's an extraordinary example of this that I could give you from Book 2, but what it is you'll have to read and find out! :) Q: As I read the novel, I was constantly tempted to look online about characters, places, and events. I refrained -- because I didn't want to be spoiled. Do you recommend readers have an understanding of that time and the events that historically transpired? A: If I did my work well, it doesn't matter. Hopefully, even if you know the result of the Battle of Actium, for instance, what I've done with it will still be surprising and interesting. In fact, the more you know about the subject, the more you'll see the many little "Easter eggs" that I've woven into the book. For those who don't know the history, on the other hand, I hope they are so moved by my tale that they decide to find out a little more about the "truth" behind the story. So, really, my recommendation is just that folks buy the book. Not that I'm, you know, biased or anything AT ALL. Q: Your characters, though based on historical figures, were deeply believable. How did you get the ideas of such foreign cultures imbedded into them? A: Please excuse me while I happy dance in the most professorial way possible. … Okay. It's cool now. Thank you for saying that. Capturing these characters was important to me, because so many of them were truly remarkable human beings. And frankly that's really the best answer I can give to your question. These were amazing people, and just giving them space to be who they were drove most of my characterization. Q: Since much of history is lost or debatable, how did you decide how much to keep and how much to push into the realm of fantasy? A: I tend to just trust my instinct: would I think this would be too far? If it is, I dial back. My colleagues in history know that I am more than willing to push the envelope, but that I always do so with my feet firmly grounded in defendable reality. That's essentially what I do in Shards. Q: Along those same lines, do you plan to evolve your series as it continues, perhaps making it into an alternate history? Or do you want to keep it into something that could have happened in our past? A: It is very much my intention to continue to toe that line between fantasy and history throughout the series. That said, you can certainly expect future volumes to move in some unexpected and rather remarkable directions. In Book 2, for instance, we learn that these characters have only just begun to understand the fantastical powers of the Shards. The artifacts are capable of so much more than they know. Q: Juba may have been my favorite character. I liked that he was driven by revenge, but still seemed to be a good guy. He seems almost naive in his desire to avenge his father. Is there a chance he'll be able to find redemption? Or is it more likely he'll be consumed and corrupted by power? A: Team Juba! We should start a hashtag war with the Team Caesarion crowd. Or the Team Selene folks. And the gods help anyone on Team Octavian! Anyway, as for your question, I'd say that's exactly what I want of Juba: in Book 1 he's a good guy doing bad things for good reasons with bad results. As for his future, I'll say that I won't mess with the major facts of history, but that there's a lot of room between the lines in the textbooks. And power, while always tempting, is always corrupting. Q: Cleopatra is a person who has been immortalized in film, television, books. How did you put your own stamp on her, turning her into a character of your own? It seems like that would be intimidating. A: Cleopatra must have been a remarkable woman. She seduced two of the most powerful men of her age. She's powerful, brilliant, and oh so very dangerous … I would have loved to meet her! And indeed that's pretty much the answer to your question: by the time I was writing the book I felt that she was someone who I could set on stage and know exactly how she would act. Q: After this series is finished, do you have other plans to work in the historical fantasy genre? A: That will be up to the readers! Tor Books bought a trilogy, and that actually represents the backstory to a much bigger epic: if sales are good, I imagine that will be the next thing up. Otherwise, I'll turn to the "traditional" epic fantasy that was nearing completion when The Shards of Heaven sold: that's a multi-volume secondary-world epic that my beta readers have said is the best thing I've ever done. Q: Thank you so much for your time, Dr. Livingston! I really enjoyed this novel and I'm anxiously awaiting its sequel. A: Thank you so much for having me, and for asking such delightful questions! And I cannot forego the opportunity to pass along my thanks to the entirety of the Wheel of Time community for welcoming me so so warmly. The Wheel turns, my friends. (Richard Fife, Michael Livingston, Saladin Ahmed at JordanCon 2015) The Shards of Heaven can be purchased in Dragonmount's eBook store. For more information on Dr. Livingston, please check out his website (www.michaellivingston.com) or follow him on Twitter (@medievalguy). If you're interested in winning a free copy of The Shards of Heaven, Tor has donated one to give away to a Dragonmount reader! Comment below and one winner will be randomly selected on December 8th, 2015. Only residents of the US and Canada are eligible for the free copy.
Today's Fantasy Review is on the upcoming book The Shards of Heaven, by Michael Livingston. I was fortunate enough to hear Dr. Livingston speak on several panels at JordanCon this past April, and his description of the series had piqued my interest. He is an obviously intelligent man, with exceeding knowledge about ancient cultures. With such a master at the helm, I had high expectations for this book, and I was not disappointed. The Shards of Heaven By Michael Livingston Synopsis After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Rome is sent into civil war: those who side with Caesar's wife, Cleopatra, and Mark Antony, Caesar's best general, versus those who side with Octavian, Caesar's adopted son. To save the life of Caesarion, her child with Caesar, Cleopatra flees with Antony and sets up her base of power in Alexandria. Octavian, on the other hand, fortifies Rome and plans to have it whole again soon. Juba, another adopted son of Caesar, begins to search for the Shards of Heaven—fragmented pieces of the power of God. Juba finds one of the artifacts, and delivers it to Octavian. With so much power finally in his grasp, Octavian begins his war on Egypt and Caesarion. Pros This tale is heavily grounded in history. But, Livingston never lets that overwhelm the reader. Each person, event, place, or temple is detailed so well that having no prior knowledge of this timeframe does not hinder the story at all. It makes the history lessons easily understood and exciting. The details are so rich and vivid. Each character's point of view is fleshed out in such a way that even the antagonists are sympathetic and endearing. Juba, for instance, had all the right motivations to set him on the path he took—every step was logical and believable. He might have been my favorite out of all the characters because he acted out of necessity and self-preservation—even when doing "evil" deeds. I hope there's redemption for him as the series continues. Themes of honor and tradition really bring the story to life. The Roman culture is heavily ingrained in the soldiers who sided with Antony, and who now protect his and Cleopatra's children—Selene, Helios, and Philadelphus. And at the same time, the children—including Caesarion—are brought up with Egyptian values and beliefs. They are likened to gods on earth, taught to keep their faces impassive and emotionless. The clash of cultures and religions is a driving force behind many of the characters' actions, and their faith in gods or God become integral to the plotlines. Con Despite the interest of the assassination attempt in the prologue, the story had a somewhat slow start. The first few chapters focus on the more political conflicts between Octavian and Mark Antony, and the impending war. However, once Juba begins to use the Trident of Neptune, the action never lets up. Conclusion This story was immensely gripping and enjoyable. The immersion into the ancient cultures fascinated me, despite my less-than-favorable view on history lessons. The details about the world were so exact. I'm anxiously awaiting the next in the series to see how these characters will adapt to the consequences and resolutions of the war. Rating 4/5 The Shards of Heaven will be released November 24th. You can preorder it from Dragonmount's eBook store. For more information on Dr. Livingston, please check out his website.
For the last tour of a Wheel of Time book, ever, I had to make sure to attend. Add in Jason Denzel, creator of my beloved Dragonmount, and there was no way I would miss it! I was able to get a few days off work and make the drive over to San Diego from my home in Arizona. My husband wasn't able to take the time off too, so I did the only logical thing: invited my parents. It was like reverting back to childhood—except that Mom and I shared a beer. We did all the touristy things around the harbor; we took the ferry to Coronado, my dad and I rode the roller coaster at Belmont Park, we walked up and down Mission Beach. It was a blast! But as fun as all that was, it paled in comparison to seeing Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, Maria Simmons, and Jason Denzel at the signing. The location was the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore—a place I've heard a lot about but hadn't visited before. The store was amazing! A booklover's paradise! The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. The amount of signed books they had was impressive. I almost picked up a signed copy of Shadows of Self. Once the event began, Harriet started by reading her favorite entry in The Companion: Bela. I'm not going to give any spoilers, but if you have a copy of The Companion, be sure to read that entry. It had me near tears. Then there was the general Q&A session. Many topics were covered, like whether there would be any other Wheel of Time books coming out—the answer was, of course, "No"—and if there would likely be a sequel to The Companion—again, the answer was "No." But, Alan did mention that the Team Jordan Google+ Page (Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time) has released a couple entries that were cut from The Companion. So, while we won't have any new content in books, we still have Harriet, Maria, and Alan to give us more of what we crave. After that, Jason surprised us with unreleased bonus content from Mystic; he read the prologue to the novel, which had been cut for various reasons. It told a part of the tale of Saint Brigid, a character of legend who lived thousands of years before the story took place. It was a fascinating addition to the lore, and I hope that more of Brigid will be revealed as the series continues! There were a lot of Wheel of Time fans there, and it always makes me happy to see so many together. The thing I love most about fans of the series is that you can jump into a conversation with any of them, and be perfectly welcomed. The only thing that ever makes waves is how you pronounce character names. I spoke with several people—one fan, I believe, was visiting from the Netherlands. The man who stood behind me in line had every single copy in the series (The Eye of the World through Knife of Dreams) signed by Robert Jordan. It's amazing the stories you'll hear! Once I was able to get my copy of The Companion signed, I did have a question for Team Jordan. I asked them if there was ever going to be a more complete compilation of Wheel of Time artwork. Maria said that Ta'veren Tees is thinking of something along those lines. But my real desire comes from owning a copy of volume one of the Japanese The Eye of the World. The Japanese publisher has amazing manga-style artwork added into the story. I would love to see all of it! But, with foreign publishers having the rights to the artwork, Maria said it would be too difficult to have any of it added to a compilation book. I guess I'll just make it my goal to buy all the Japanese versions to see for myself. (For just a taste of many of the foreign covers, you can look at the Wheel of Time Wikia.) I left the signing absolutely thrilled. Not just because the store's staff was welcoming, or that the other fans were welcoming, but that Jason, Harriet, Alan, and Maria were so welcoming. These are people who really appreciate and embrace their community. It's amazing the amount of attention they give, the personal touch they add to each fan they greet.
Today's Fantasy Review is something I'm very excited about. It will cover the debut novel of Dragonmount's creator and webmaster, Jason Denzel! His novel, Mystic, will be released November 3rd, and I was privileged enough to get an advanced copy. Mystic By Jason Denzel Synopsis: Pomella is a sixteen-year-old girl who lives in the small town of Oakspring. She's the only one in the village who can see silver animals that live in the Mystwood forest beside their home. During the Springrise festival, a creature of legend appears and summons Pomella to be a candidate for the apprenticeship of Yarina, the High Mystic of the island. To do so would put her at odds with Lady Elona, the daughter of the island's ruling Baron. To decline would be turning her back on everything she'd desired. As a commoner, both paths are equally dangerous. Pros: This story felt incredibly detailed. The world building presented was wonderfully done, complete with a distinct dialect spoken (and thought) by the main characters. They throw in words from within their world without a thought to clarify; the reader learns through context. This brings the world to life, and made Pomella and Sim (the other point-of-view character) so much more relatable. Normal people don't think about the meanings of words we use every day. Even the characters from other parts of the world have different ways of speaking. This adds texture and richness to their world. The Myst is also an interesting idea. It seems to be an intelligent entity, deciding how it manifests its powers and whom to bestow it on. Each practitioner summons the Myst through different ways, using their unique talent and passion to urge the Myst into doing as they ask. I like this as a magic system because it's somewhat unreliable. It does as it wants, as it sees fit, without regard to a person's power or potential. As the series continues, I think the Myst has some sort of scheme. The ending of this book really surprised me. Sometimes we can anticipate the conclusion of novels—especially within the fantasy genre; the good guys win and the bad guys lose. However, with Mystic, the happy ending came about in a way I didn't suspect. It opened up a whole new set of exciting possibilities as the series continues. Cons: There were very little cons in this story. I enjoyed it from start to finish. The one thing that threw me off was the very beginning of the book. We are introduced to Pomella as she's yelling with her father about her attitude. To me, she read as a young child, no more than six, so it was a bit startling to find out she was sixteen later in the chapter. But, since her age is revealed quite quickly, it didn't feel disjointed for long. Conclusion: This tale was all-around enjoyable. There was almost constant forward momentum with the plot, with little dealing with flashbacks or explanations. Context guided the reader's understanding of the world and culture within. It was nearly flawless in this aspect. There was also a ton of action. As soon as Pomella was summoned, her path contained obstacle after obstacle; she, and those around her, struggled through the whole thing. This made the pace fast. I read through it in two sittings because it flowed so well in that regard. Though it contained some of the usual fantasy tropes, there were also qualities all its own. A good blend of familiar and new. Rating: 5/5 You can preorder Jason's book from the Dragonmount eBook store. Be sure to also check the list of tour dates and locations to see if Jason will be in your area!
According to a new post on Team Jordan's Google+ page, Harriet McDougal—wife of the late Robert Jordan, and his editor—will be presented with the Jerry Zucker Lifetime Achievement Award. Dragonmount, and I'm sure so many Wheel of Time fans, also wants to extend their congratulations to Mrs. McDougal on such a tremendous achievement!
Here's a overview of the first ever Wheel of Time Convention held in Australia. It was written by Russell Dady. The inaugural 2015 Land of Madmen con was small but almost perfectly formed. Although there were nearly as many organisers as there were guests, a great time was had by all and everyone is very much looking forward to next year. Those of us on the organising committee arrived from across the country at 8am to set up. For those of you who, like me, had forgotten there is an eight o'clock in the morning, there is, and apparently it's possible to decorate a small venue adequately at that time in the morning. And it was a great venue for a con of this size - a room about the size of a basketball court with an optional divider in the centre which we put across so we could run both panels and workshops at the same time. Of course, that divider also allowed us to put up posters: We had the boys in the workshop and the girls in the panels, because it's the Wheel of Time and gender division is all the rage, so why not? In addition to those, however, we also had an awesome Banner of Light and Dragon Banner made by the incomparable Eleanor Chandler-Temple especially for the con: Yes, those are individual scales and yes, they are hand-stitched. She's crazy. But then I'd know, I married her. Doors opened just after nine and we got our first guests shortly thereafter. Panels and workshops started at 10. In our lack of experience we may have made a mistake in scheduling the two at the same time, but the group were happy to divide into two and those who were interested headed into what we termed the Seeker's Room for the panel. Plus, I got to play with the microphone. Our first panel discussed leadership in the Wheel of Time, led by our guest of honour and WOT fandom superstar Linda Taglieri, with occasionally helpful assistance from myself. We discussed not only the examples of competent and incompetent leadership, but were able to examine in more detail those who were just meh in their leadership abilities. It was an interesting and amusing discussion conducted in a round table fashion by Linda (who for some reason did not want to use the microphone). Meanwhile, the other half of the group headed into the Weaver's Room (great names, Eleanor!) for the Painting the Pattern session hosted by Nyn Blueajah, with her own artwork on display. By the way, thanks to the incomparable Ariel Burgess for providing the posters you can see above Nyn's art in the following shot - we had five in total and they really helped us look the part. After a short break, we were back for more with Linda's panel on the character's biggest mistakes in the series and the first part of the chainmaille workshop led by Amanda Harper. At around this point, we also got out first walk-in guests, a couple who had come all the way from Melbourne after seeing an article on Tor. We were delighted to welcome them and everyone soon got stuck into what interested them. By this point I was having far too much fun with the microphone so Linda let me be on the panel again on the condition that I switch it off. As we all know, some of the characters in the series make nothing but mistakes and so it was great to be able to go through and consider things from a new perspective: for instance, while we all know Elayne's never seen a trap she hasn't walked into, we also discussed the fact that the series' master villain, the Dark One himself, makes more than his share of mistakes leading to his imprisonment. It was then time for lunch, so as much as I loved that microphone, I decided I also liked food and headed out with the group to Burwood for dinner. I was also tasked with finding something for Eleanor to eat as she was still in costume (did I mention there were costumes? I'll come to that in a bit). It was then time for the final panel of the day, while the chainmaille makers continued making chainmaille. Including poor Brian, who had only been given permission to come if he came back with a bracelet. I don't think he quite finished it but Amanda was happy to sell him the tools to do so - lucky she had spares! Our final panel was my personal favourite: we got to discuss the real world influences on the series, from mythology to X-Men comics (yes, X-Men comics. Ask me about my Logain=Wolverine theory sometime). We went into some real depth with this one, plucking the depths of Linda's considerable knowledge about the series, history, mythology, and everything in between. We even got into some comparative discussion with other fantasy works and how Jordan seems to draw on more sources than almost anyone else in the Wheel of Time. We then had the costume parade, so those who had made the effort to come in cosplay lined up outside: No, wait, those are Linda's dolls. It's difficult to tell sometimes. Ahem. As I was saying, those who had made the effort to dress up lined up outside - and then it started to rain, so they lined up back inside. Linda and the rest of the organising committee judged the costumes. Despite my insistence that my wife's costume was clearly the best, she resisted the temptation to vote for herself and eventually it was decided that the most impressive cosplay was Gino Aintoquia as Rand al'Thor, complete with an excellent Callandor which he graciously passed around for everyone to examine. Seriously, that is a nice sword. Well, technically it isn't (a sword). Finally, we arrived at the climax of the event: the reading of an excerpt from the upcoming Wheel of Time Companion, graciously provided by Tor and Team Jordan. In actual fact, we had four excerpts: the entries on Linda and her husband Frank in their WOT guises as Lind and Frask Taglien, innkeepers of The Great Gathering at the Black Tower; the entry on the Land of Madmen (hey, that's us!); and finally the longest and most interesting entry, Tam al'Thor. I'm not going to betray the confidence of Tor and Team Jordan by providing details on what was included in these entries, but it should suffice to say that secrets were revealed (I never would have believed that about Linda!) and I think the Companion will be an invaluable addition to any fan's Wheel of Time collection. We rounded out the day at the venue proper by moving the trivia competition, once again devised by Amanda, up the schedule. Some of those questions were hard, but the inclusion of chocolate for clever or amusing answers was a well-regarded move. While Linda declined to participate (it would have been totally unfair, she's Linda Taglieri. 13th Depository's Linda Taglieri!) she did confess to me that she wouldn't have got 30 out of 30, which was a comfort to me as I only got 14 and a half. We decided to hide in the venue until our booking ran out as it was raining quite heavily by this point. When we finally had cleaned up and got everything out, it was back into Burwood for dinner, which all but two of our guests and organisers were able to attend, at Cafe d'Or. The food was delicious and a good time was had by everyone. There was even a sa'sara demonstration by some professional dancers at the restaurant as the evening wore on! The first Australian Wheel of Time convention may not have had the bustle of JordanCon or the profile of Worldcon, but it was a great way to get an event off to a start in a country that has more than its share of WOT fans. We will be back next year, and hopefully the year after that, bigger and better each time. You can view more of the pictures at the Land of Madmen's photo gallery.
Great news from Ta'veren Tees! Ta’veren Tees: The Wheel of Time Store is extremely proud and excited to announce that we have a very limited amount of SIGNED copies of The Wheel of Time Companion: The People, Places and History of the Bestselling Series by Robert Jordan, Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, and Maria Simons. If you can’t get to a book signing, this a great way to get a signed book! The Companion is available for preorder now at TaverenTees.com/companion. Preorders through Ta’veren Tees will receive a free WoT nylon drawstring bag with their order. All items ordered with the Companion will be held and shipped when the book is released on November 3. Over the course of fifteen books and millions of words, the world that Robert Jordan created in The Wheel of Time series grew in depth and complexity. However, only a fraction of what Jordan imagined ended up on the page, the rest going into his personal files. Now The Wheel of Time Companion sheds light on some of the most intriguing aspects of the world, including biographies and motivations of many characters that never made it into the books, but helped bring Jordan's world to life. Included in the volume in an A-to-Z format are: · An entry for each named character · An inclusive dictionary of the Old Tongue · New maps of the Last Battle · New portraits of many characters · Histories and customs of the nations of the world · The strength level of many channelers · Descriptions of the flora and fauna unique to the world · And much more! The book also includes art by officially licensed The Wheel of Time artists. Make sure you order your copy soon!
I love encyclopedias. Absolutely love them. I read my Junior Britanicas cover to cover when I was a kid. I read Wikipedia for fun. I play trivia games. I even competed in the Geography Bee state finals as a kid. So as a Wheel of Time fan and lover of encyclopedias and trivia, I am the perfect target audience of this volume. There was absolutely no way I’d dislike this volume. An alphabetical listing of every person, place or thing ever mentioned in the series? Sold. Who do I give my money to? Whether or not other Wheel of Time fans enjoy it depends entirely on what they were expecting from it. First off, this volume is almost overwhelming in its completeness. I’m not kidding when I said it lists nearly every noun used in the series. Even minor characters get an entry. The random historical references Birgitte makes that no one understands get entries. Some of these entries are slight, because there’s not much known about that character. Others are almost too complete. (You will never guess, for example, which prominent Aes Sedai worries about the size of her bottom.) The articles on Aes Sedai, the White Tower and the Seanchan were the most detailed, reflecting the amount of work Jordan put into building these aspects of his world. There are some surprising bits of trivia about the Red Ajah and their pogram against male channelers after the Aiel War. Someone could probably put together a more detailed history of those events after a close reading of those articles and those of individual Red sisters. Even the article on humble, sweet Bela has an extra detail that will probably make you smile. There’s a few things that I wish were organized differently. The Old Tongue section has a list of every word appearing and it’s meaning. That’s super handy. I would have liked to see the same thing with sword forms and had a list of each form and it’s description, if known. All of the herbs are included, but not as one entry. There’s a few places where I’d like to see a family tree, such as any of the entries on the Damodreds and Trakands. But none of these extra details shed any light on what happened after the Last Battle. If you were hoping for, say, confirmation on whether or not anything from Aviendha’s visions came true, you aren’t going to find it here. Team Jordan says very firmly in the foreword that this volume is meant as a companion and reference to the novels, so there’s nothing in it that moves any of the plot, characters or setting beyond what we already know. My only real disappointment with the Companion is the art, or lack of it. There are a few illustrations by some noted Wheel of Time artists, as well as the maps that appeared in the series. But none of this is new art commissioned specifically for this book. Instead, it’s re-publications of art already used in the Wheel of Time wall calendars and playing card decks produced by Ta’veren Tees. It’s all good art and I’m sure there’s still plenty of people who haven’t seen it, so it will be new to them. But for a series that’s so well noted for it’s detailed descriptions of, well, everything, a few more visuals would have been nice. I do think it’s important to note that the PDF copy I read was over 800 pages, so they probably included all they possibly could and still keep it to one volume. I’d love to see the whole thing converted into an app at some point and become a searchable database. I have a cookbook that was converted in that way on my phone and it’s one of my most useful apps. Having a searchable database to consult while re-reading would be a very handy thing and would get around the whole “you have to actually print and bind this” issue. Overall, I think the Companion is a great thing for hard core Wheel of Time fans who want a quick reference to consult while re-reading or arguing on the internet. A more casual fan probably doesn’t need this, unless you absolutely have to have a complete book shelf.
Want to vote for the greatest Wheel of Time character, and do a good deed at the same time? To celebrate the release of The Wheel of Time Companion, Waygate Foundation is hosting a donation drive, encouraging donors to vote for their favorite character--Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, or Nynaeve--each representing their own specific charity. Here are the details. As stated, each character represents a specific charity. Here's the lineup, featuring beautiful artwork by Ariel Burgess: Visit Waygate's website for more details and to donate!
I was very excited to get an opportunity to have an interview with artist Paul Bielaczyc. Paul is well-known within the fandom for his Rand al'Thor cosplay, and as the co-directors of the JordanCon Art Show. He's an amazingly talented artist, in many mediums, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of his Wheel of Time artwork at JordanCon next year! Q: Let's start with your artwork in general. How long have you considered yourself an artist? A: I have been drawing and sketching for as long as I can remember, probably before I even started kindergarten. My mom used to enter us in all the coloring contests at local restaurants and stores. I still remember winning a gift certificate from Wal-Mart when I was 5 or so, which I used it to get a Stomper truck. I took quite a few art classes in high school, but never focused on it, as I was preoccupied with AP classes that would lead to scholarships for college. I even applied to the TN Governor's School for the Arts one summer and didn't get accepted, so I just didn't feel like I was an artist. The first moment that I think it sunk in that I was an artist was the summer after high school. I was on summer vacation with my family, and my brother, Michael, whom I co-own Aradani Studios with, was showing his portfolio to my uncles. I remember thinking that I wish I could draw like he could. I pulled out a sketch book and played around with a charcoal pencil, trying to draw characters from a fantasy book I was reading. It looked awful. Charcoal is a very soft medium, so the tip of the pencil gets dull very, very fast. So the lines were very thick, and when you are trying to draw a figure that is maybe 6 inches tall, it just didn't work. I pulled out my .5mm mechincal pencil, and started again. I was drawing a scene from The Scions of Shannara by Terry Brooks. It was the first time I had read such an expansive series, I think there was 9 books out at the time I was working on it. Well during the course of a week on vacation, I spent about 24 hours total, working on a single piece of art. I was drawing at night, next to the pool at a friend's house, pretty much all the time. I had never done that before. And when I finished, I finally felt, I am good at this. It was then that I realized that, for me, to truly make a memorable piece of art, it just took time. Q: Your style tends to look amazing in black and white. Are you drawn more to that than color? A: It isn't that I am necessarily drawn to black and white, it just sorta happened. In college I took a few drawing classes, and a few of the assignments were in charcoal (back to charcoal!). As I completed these assignments, I learned some techniques that solved some of the problems I had mentioned previously. When I graduated college, I figured that I had to learn how to oil paint, since most fantasy artists paint in oils. However, the first piece that I worked on was Nightmare. Again, it was one of those times where I truly sat down and dedicated time to a piece. I have no idea how much time I spent on planning and taking photo references, but I know that the actual time spent drawing the finished piece was between 60 and 80 hours. When my brother came to my house when I was about 80% complete, I remember him just blinking, and saying, wow. He was utterly impressed with something I had made, and it made me think of the summer when I have been thinking the same thing about his art. The first show that we did after I finished Nightmare was Chattacon in 2005. I ended up winning 2 art awards at the Con, and had a list of people that were upset that I hadn't made prints of that piece. And that was the moment when I decided I didn't need to be an oil painter. If I could work in my favorite medium, win awards, and sell prints of my work, then I just wanted to become the best charcoal artist that I could be. Sometimes I have needed to work in color, and when I do, I use soft pastels. I had an amazing opportunity to apprentice with a master pastel artist in Kirby, Wyoming one summer, and I learned quite a bit in those 10 days while out there. Soft pastels work similar to charcoal so it wasn't a huge learning curve, but I still prefer to use charcoal when I can. Q: Beside Wheel of Time, what other fandoms are you inspired by? A: Over the years I have done a variety of costumes, mostly inspired by movies and video games that I really enjoy. The Legend of Zelda is probably one of the biggest influences. It was one of the first video games I ever owned, and I have pretty much owned each entry in the series. I am still purchasing them today in fact. It was my first real cosplay too. I hired a bunch of talented friends to help make it a reality, a seamstress since I can't sew, and an armorer to make my shield out of leather and wood. Over the years I have also dressed up as the Ice King from Adventure Time, Ash from Army of Darkness, Jareth the Goblin King from Labyrinth. I have always wanted to make a Fiery costume from Labyrinth, but in order to make that, I would need to learn a lot of different skill sets in costuming that I currently don't have, and that mostly means I would need time, which is the one thing that I can't seem to find right now. Q: Your artwork also encompasses cosplay. How did you get the idea of doing a ta'veren photo shoot, and how do you think it influenced the Wheel of Time fandom? A: Years ago when I was finishing up my Master's degree at Vanderbilt, I decided to dress up as Rand al'Thor for Halloween. I think one person knew who I was. I was really into the books at that point, and thought it would be cool to draw the dragon tattoos on my arms. At the time I didn't know the talented group of people that I do today, so most of the costume was found on eBay, or simple alterations to existing costumes and clothes that I found. But I finally got to use my Heron Mark blade for something other than hanging it on a wall. Years later while selling my art at Dragon*Con, a man walked by the table dressed as an Aiel. When I complimented his cosplay, he bowed deeply, "Thank you, Car'a'carn." I looked at him confused. He then told me how he found my cosplay photos online, and that him and his friends all thought I was the perfect Rand, and said that they pictured me as they read the books. I was humbled. It was so cool to think that other people not only had seen my cosplay, but were that big of fans of such a simple costume. And I decided that was that, I should always dress as Rand al'Thor. A few years later when Cliff Tunnell decided to do a photoshoot of his Matrim costume, he invited me down to Atlanta to be a part of it, along with John Strangeway as Perrin. When I heard that Dim Horizons would be taking the photos, I dropped everything to be a part of it. I had always loved their Bioshock photoshoot at the Atlanta Aquarium, and I wanted to be a part of something that memorable. Honestly, I don't know how it has influenced the fandom. I know that Dragonmount and Tor put some of the shots up on their sites in the past, and I hope the fans thought we did a good job representing the characters. I was very excited when Brandon Sanderson signed my copy of A Memory of Light a few years back at JordanCon, he actually asked me, "Do I make this out to Paul, or to Rand?" Q: In the past, your artwork has been featured on shirts from Ta'veren Tees. Are there plans to do more in the future? A: I do have a few ideas in the works, both for new Ta'veren Tees designs as well as some personal pieces that are in a similar vein to "Padan Fain" and "The Last Battle." It is very difficult to put a fully rendered image on a shirt (and quite pricey), which is why my first few designs were all white silhouette imagery. I was trying to balance catching the iconic characters, but in a manner that was easier to reproduce on a shirt. I am not sure if I can discuss the future shirt designs, I am not sure if Ta'veren prefers them to be a surprise announcement, and there is the sadness to fans when you come up with a design that just doesn't get approved or end up working out. Q: Your piece "The Creature That Had Once Been Padan Fain" will be in the Wheel of Time Companion. Since the image has already been shared with fans, can you tell us about it, how you captured one of the most evil villains in the series? A: One of the first things that I do when I start on a new piece of art is go online. I find references for poses, faces, landscapes, clothing. And I use those as a jumping off point. It is hard to find the exact shot for figures, so I usually find something close to what I need, and then take photos myself for figures. But for backgrounds, it is helpful to be able to so easily find pictures of rivers, mountains, jungles, since most of those things don't exist in Nashville, Tennessee. Or at least don't exist like I want them to. So the first thing that I did was to look at every single depiction of Padan Fain that had been done over the years. There were 3 that really jumped out at me. I was drawn to Seamus Gallagher's and Jeremy Saliba's renditions of his face and hair. I thought about what worked, and more importantly, what spoke to me, and included those aspects into my sketches. I also was a big fan of the depiction of Fain in The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game book. I liked the idea that he was wearing this fancy, lacy nobleman's coat, thinking of himself as more important than he really is. And I liked the idea of him not realizing that as he traveled all over the world, chasing after Rand and company, murdering Trollocs and Myrddraal, that his fine clothing would become more ragged and tattered, but he would still feel the same pretentiousness and arrogance, which in the end, lead to his demise... oops, spoilers. From there it was all about taking good photo references. I posed for the picture myself, wearing my Asha'man style coat that I wore at my first JordanCon. I set a lamp on the floor underneath me to create some good under lighting, which usually makes anything look a little more off than it should otherwise. And then I had a friend take probably 100+ photos of me, subtly changing my pose for each shot. Once I have the photos that I need, I use a projector to transfer a simple line drawing to my canvas, and then begins the long process of working in charcoal and chalk to make the finished piece. So while a computer is involved for some of the early planning, my artwork is done traditionally, resulting in a single, unique one of a kind original at the end of the process. While I do wish sometimes that life had an undo button, or that I could work in layers, having that one of a kind at the end is well worth not having that undo button. Q: Though you can't tell us specifics, can you hint about what other artwork you'll have in the Companion? A: One of my other pieces in the Companion is The Last Battle, which was seen in an earlier, cropped version in the calendar for 2015. After the calendar was completed, Team Jordan approached me about including both pieces from the calendar into the Companion. In fact, I think Alan Romanczuk actually said, "Would you mind if we used these in the Companion?" Would I mind... it just made me laugh that he was asking permission. It is one of the reasons that I love working for Team Jordan. The freedom that I am granted to work within their universe is the opposite of most of my experiences working on illustration jobs. For most of my jobs, there are deadlines, forced changes, illustrating scenes that don't speak to you. But when working on The Wheel of Time art, I send an idea and a few sketches to Team Jordan, and they either say yes or no. So in the end, I choose what scenes to depict, and I feel that when an artist is granted that freedom, their heart can truly be felt in the finished product. At least for me it is. Q: How long have you been reading The Wheel of Time Series? A: I tried reading The Eye of the World in high school, and I got to what I call "the hump" and put it down. I feel that most people that start a new book series will read a few chapters to determine if it is worth the time investment to pick up such a monumental series of books. For me, that was the end of chapter 4. I got to the end of chapter 4, and just didn't feel that the book had spoken to me. A little while later during my freshman year of college, I saw the display at the school bookstore for The Path of Daggers which had just been released. A friend of mine said that he really loved the series, so I decided to pick it back up. How was I to know that chapter 5 was the moment, the hook needed to catch me and never let go. So my journey with The Wheel of Time started in 1998, and I was with it for 15 years, waiting for each new book to be released, hoping that the character arcs that had me enthralled would come to a conclusion. I can't remember how many years I waited for Egwene to break free of her captivity, but when it finally happened in The Gathering Storm, I remember the chills, the goosebumps, and the tears in my eyes. It was a moment of frustration and joy. Frustration that it took so many years and so many books to happen, but joy that can't be felt when binge reading a series. If I hadn't had to wait so long, the emotional release would not have been as powerful. Q: Who is your favorite character? A: I always was a big fan of Rand, partly because I could cosplay as him. I remember as he started falling into darkness that I was a little sad because I was starting to not like him as a person. I didn't feel like I wanted to cosplay someone that I didn't respect or like. But then a few books later that was resolved and it was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. Q: Which character do you relate the most to? A: I guess I would say Rand again, but I would like to stress that I don't talk to a voice in my head, or have a horrible, festering wound in my side, or three wives... I guess it is mostly because I have dressed as him for so long, that it really created a bond between what happened to him as I read the series. I'd like to thank Paul for his time! To see more of Paul's artwork, you can check out his website!