This edition of “Fantasy Review” is for The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin. This story was the winner of the 2016 Hugo for Best Novel. And it was a fantastic read! Slight spoilers follow. Synopsis: The earth is in fluctuation. Father Earth hates the humans who inhabit him, and he is constantly spewing his molten blood to their surface homes. Periods where his anger is most fierce are called Seasons, and ash clouds block out the sky for decades, if not centuries. Essun doesn’t even notice when the Season starts because she is lost in grief over the death of her son. He was murdered by Jija, his father, her husband. Jija discovered the child was an orogene—a person given less-than-human status who is able to control the shifts and energy within the earth—a skill inherited from Essun. She sets out to track Jija down and make him pay for the murder of her youngest child. Damaya is a girl who recently discovered she was an orogene. A Guardian—members who keep the orogenes’ magic in check—is sent to bring her back to the Fulcrum to learn to control her powers. The Guardian is not there protect her, but to protect the rest of humanity from her. She struggles to find her place in life and in the Fulcrum. Syenite is a four-ringer orogene. She is chosen for a mission, and is forced to take Alabaster—a ten-ringer—along. The Fulcrum pairs them with instructions to mate. The child of Alabaster is sure to be powerful, so he is often used in breeding. The two are an unlikely couple, but along the way they bond over trials and tribulation. But Alabaster’s more than a little mad, and he might drag Syenite into insanity with him. Pros: The synopsis is long and detailed because the story and its characters are so detailed. The richness of this tale cannot be explained with words. It is emotion, deep and sometimes unsettling. The world is cruel and the characters seem to suffer more than their fair share of the despair. But they all persevere. It is a theme through the novel: no matter how often Father Earth sends ash clouds, the human race has not died off yet. But, the story seems to suggest maybe they should. Out of all the characters, I loved Alabaster the most. I could see a bit of Rand in him—driven slightly mad by the infinite power he can wield. He cracked under the strain of his life, but kept living in spite of it all. He and Syenite together were wonderful and engrossing. Though never a true romantic pairing, there is a sense of love between them—transcending the bond forged from forced lovers. Their time together was the most enjoyable to read. Syenite herself was just as capable as Alabaster, but not nearly as wounded from the ways of the Fulcrum. Much of that may have stemmed from her powers—she’s nowhere near as powerful as him. One scene in particular with them made my heart ache with its loveliness. My emotions were stirred so deeply, I thought of this scene for days. But I won’t say more, in fear of too many spoilers. The stories of Essun and Damaya were both interesting. The pain in Essun after the loss of her son was so vivid. And Damaya, packed up and shipped off to a place she would lose her status as human, was equally pitying. I couldn’t get enough of this world and these characters. Cons: The format. I’ve made statements about this in regard to other books. It think this is my old-fashioned look on genre fiction. The standard is 3rd person omnipotent, past tense. Those are the rules. I think this works because when dealing with such fantastical ideas and worlds, clear and concise language solidifies it in the mind of the reader. But, this is all personal preference. It had no bearing on the enjoyment of the story. The weird—or maybe “not common” is a better description—format in this novel comes at you from two fronts. First, the writing is done in present tense. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but something that readers might not be used to. And the other front? All the chapters from Essun’s perspective are written in 2nd person point of view. The reader is given the persona of Essun, letting them experience the world more clearly through her eyes. The other characters remain in 3rd person. Does this format work? Yes, it does. It’s sort of explained why this format is used, as well. I will be honest and admit it threw me off at first. However, the characters, plot, and setting quickly grabbed me back and steadied me. After I got used to this way of looking at the story, it was not a hindrance at all. And that is the only con I can even come close to saying. This novel was brilliant and near perfect in its execution. Conclusion: I was awed by this story. The worldbuilding was incredible, the characters three dimensional with flaws and faults, their exploits riveting. It’s very easy to see why it was awarded the Hugo. The day I completed this novel, I began reading the second in the series. Rating: 5 out of 5 For more from N. K. Jemisin, you can check out her website.
Frederick "Ted" Field, an Executive Producer with Sony, may be making some announcements about the potential Wheel of Time television series in the near future. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Field's sudden luck with the successful Jumani: Welcome to the Jungle film late last year may help with developments for The Wheel of Time show. They state that Field has several big announcements coming soon, and "[o]ne of those announcements will be a television series for Wheel of Time, a fantasy series based on the work of Robert Jordan that has been compared to Game of Thrones. This franchise has been the subject of much mystery and speculation. When FXX rushed the production of a pilot and aired it at the odd hour of 1:30 am, all sorts of discussion proceeded on message boards and in the news media on whether the gambit was an attempt by one production company to hold onto rights. That led to a slander lawsuit, which was later settled. Now, Field is prepared to announce a future for Wheel of Time." Adam Whitehead laments that while Sony holds the rights, they haven't found a network to air the show, and Narg the Trolloc has an up-to-date list about who might be able to host the series once the planning stage is complete. Hopefully we'll hear something soon. We're all very anxious for any developments that lead Rand, Mat, Perrin, and all the others, closer to our TV screens.
Wheel of Time Spoilers is a newish podcast (the first episode aired April 2017), so it might be under the radar for many Wheel of Time fans. The hosts, Seth and Patrick, began with personal stories of how they first started reading the series, then moved onto background information about the world of the Wheel (ie: the Age of Legends, the Breaking), then jumped into a chronological reread/discussion of The Eye of the World. They are currently on The Great Hunt, but the latest episode is a diversion from their norm; they invited Jason Denzel to talk with them. Besides sharing stories about Dragonmount's origins, Jason discusses his fan-turned-friend relationship with Robert Jordan, all in a nearly two-hour episode packed full of everything you need to know if you call yourself a Wheel of Time fan. Fans of Jason's own writing will rejoice too, because there are lots of details about his journey to being a published author. He talks about how Mystic evolved from an intended screenplay to a full-fledged trilogy, and shares his experiences on working with Tor. Wheel of Time Spoilers is very focused on interacting with fans of the series. You can join their Discord channel, follow them on Facebook and Twitter, or even get special content by becoming a Patreon patron.
Our very own Jason Denzel was humbled by an opportunity to speak to Narg the Trolloc, who is in charge of The Daily Trolloc, a website aflutter with all the rumors within The Wheel of Time fandom. Every current bit of information is squeezed into each edition of The Daily Trolloc, and Jason’s interview is one piece of the latest gossip. Narg’s questions range from asking about memories of Robert Jordan to more personal topics, such as Jason’s Mystic trilogy—the second due out summer 2018, the third currently being written. Jason’s account of listening to Jordan read The Path of Daggers sent shivers up my own spine. (If you haven’t heard Jordan’s voice before, it’s worth listening to this audio clip; you’ll understand what Jason meant.) My personal favorite of Narg’s questions was an optimistic look at how the Trollocs are regarded: You can keep up with Narg and his adventures by following him on Facebook or Google+.
Welcome to Dragonount 9.0! As we enter our 20th year, I wanted to commemorate that special event by putting some fresh paint on our web community. Although it took longer than we expected, DM has been significantly upgraded with all new server hardware, fresh back-end software, and all new website features. For the first time in our history, we're mobile friendly. (I know, I know, you could argue we're almost a decade late on that.) I'm excited about our new fresh look and hope you enjoy it, too. Our eBook store continues to be a feature I'm especially proud of. Be sure to check back in coming weeks and months. This Spring we'll be doing a major upgrade to our Gallery, just in time to share photos from JordanCon 10. We're going to continue to work on bugs and other issues that might arise from this new site, so please bear with us. If you have an issue you need to report, please put it on our Bugs forum. Thanks for continuing to be a part of our community! Jason Denzel
Adam Whitehead recently published this fascinating article which is a culmination of Robert Jordan's notes, interviews, blog entries, and statements to show the evolution of Jordan's ideas regarding The Wheel of Time. One of the more interesting pieces of information is how different the series initially began. Whitehead refers to Jordan's first outline as "Death Metal Wheel of Time," and "essentially George R.R. Martin on acid." This version featured plotlines full of blood, violence, and sex--very different from the wholesome series we have today. The main character Rhys al'Thor was initially the Dragon, able to enter the wolf dream, and had amazing luck. Jordan eventually split these three attributes, forming Perrin Aybara and Mat Cauthon to help the Dragon with his world-saving. And another curious fact is that Rhys eventually became Tam al'Thor, not Rand. Jordan's intention was to make the savior a middle-aged war veteran, not the young farm boy typically associated with epic fantasy. And that's just the tip of the iceberg! Whitehead details so many characters as they were melded with others or split into two. There's also a lot about worldbuilding and the different cultures that make up The Wheel of Time. The time and effort needed by Whitehead to sift through all this information and make sense of the details is amazing! Even more so is Jordan himself, for allowing all of this to brew in his imagination. Check out Whitehead's complete article here.
Rafe Judkins, the writer and showrunner for a potential Wheel of Time television series sent out a tweet earlier this week showing off his worn copies of the first three novels. Many have speculated that this means Judkins is starting to work on a script for the show. Adam Whitehead sums up the current rights and details of the show on his website, stating : We are all very anxious to see the show find a home, and having a fan at the helm definitely gives me hope! If you want to keep up to date with all the latest information, you can follow Judkins on Twitter.
The announcement of Alan Romanczuk's retirement from Team Jordan was released earlier today from the official Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time Google+ page.
The Black Ajah strikes again! Beginning on November 24th and lasting through Monday, November 27th, prices at Ta'veren Tees (TheWheelofTimeStore.com) will be slashed by up to 20%. Make sure to pick up WoT gifts for your friends and yourself...but watch out for the Black Ajah*! *Not that there is actually a Black Ajah. Those are only rumors. Add to your collection of The Wheel of Time ornaments with this year's Asha'man-inspired bulb. You can get this ornament for FREE by adding $40+ of merchandise to your cart, plus the ornament, and by using coupon code TINSEL at checkout. Learn more now. Tai'shar Malkier! Keep warm in the Borderlands - or wherever you raise your banner - in this fleece hoodie featuring Lan's sigil and the Golden Crane of Malkier, currently available for preorder. The first officially licensed The Wheel of Time candle, Emond's Field, is now available in time for the holiday season! Fill your house with scents from your home in Emond's Field, including honeycakes, The Waterwood, and wheat fields. Candles are soy wax, 8 oz jars.