Totalitarian Fiction. Only one of these I haven’t read, the rest multiple times. A few hundred pages can get you quite an education.
When Sauron was destroyed at the end of the Third Age, was that the end of evil? No, as Tolkien knew, evil would try to creep across the land again. He had began to outline what would unfold in the generations after The Lord of the Rings, prefaced on the nature of evil:
If evil is not faced up to and confronted, it will spread…the Dark Tree, the concept of growing evil…a dark tree whose roots can never be fully destroyed so that evil will once again arise if the tree is left untended or unwatched. When we do not actively keep watch for evil, it will return…Sometimes in order to preserve the good in the world, we need to step put of the Shire with hope in our hearts, and journey to the darkest places whatever the cost. – “In Deep Geek”
The sequel was never completed, but Tolkien’s vision and warnings about evil live on. Learn more about J.R.R. Tolkien’s unfinished sequel to The Lord of the Rings here.
Christopher Tolkien, son of J.R.R. Tolkien, and the person in charge of his father’s literary estate, passed away at the age of 95 on the 16th of January. After his father passed away in 1973, Christopher began a massive, decades-long project of publishing his father’s unfinished Middle-Earth histories:
In 1977, he collected and published The Silmarillion, a work that Tolkien had intended to publish, which explored the origins of Middle-earth and set up the conflict that he explored in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
In the years that followed, he continued to produce new volumes of Tolkien’s unpublished writings, releasing Unfinished Tales in 1980, the 12-volume History of Middle-earth between 1982 and 1996, and edited and completed a number of longer narratives and translations of epic poems, including The Children of Húrin (2007), The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún (2009), The Fall of Arthur (2013), Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, (2014), Beren and Lúthien (2017), and The Fall of Gondolin (2018).
As Gandalf said,
…the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it. White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
The Wheel of Time series, which James Rigney, writing as Robert Jordan…is a true successor, a true heir, to the kind of mythically philological trail of creation that Tolkien had blazed some fifty years earlier. Like Tolkien’s Middle-earth, the world of the Wheel is a myth behind myths. The wondrous Age of Legends, the ‘far past’ of Jordan’s plot-lines in The Wheel of Time, is our mythically Atlantean past just as surely as is Tolkien’s story of the fall of Númenor from the Silmarillion. – Michael Livingston
For those who haven’t dived into Jordan’s epic 14 volume Wheel of Time Fantasy series, you’ll be hearing much more about it in coming months as Amazon Prime begins production on a television adaptation. Will they be able to adapt the voluminous, sometimes dense, successor to Middle-Earth? Or will it follow the troubled road of shows based on Shannara and The Sword of Truth? At least they have a complete book series to work from and can avoid the angst Game of Thrones fans have endured.
The newest printing of Among the Shadows features the latest version of Dark Snowfall, a Lost Tale in which Milena steps through the veil into a troubling winter encounter. This should also be in the ebook edition soon, so there is no better time to Join the War and Choose a Side.
What if you could enter someone’s dreams? Inside their dreamworld you would discover their greatest fears. You could use their darkest secrets against them.
This darkness you found now wielded as a weapon to kill.
In Morgan L. Busse‘s Mark of the Raven, Lady Selene has been gifted as a dreamwalker. The eldest daughter in the House of Ravenwood, she has inherited what generations of women in her family before her have also known. All seven Great Houses of the realms have differing giftings, but her mother teaches Selene the purpose of hers.
She is to become an assassin for hire and serve the dark schemes of her mother.
I have read many books where the Light and Darkness face off. Usually the characters are either-or: Either bad, or good. In Raven, we see Lady Selene struggle with what is apparently her fate. She believes she has no choice. It’s not clear, even when faced with the Light, if she will, or can, veer off the path she was born into. Morgan Busse tells Selene’s story of struggle with the depth that will resonate with people in the real world. And that’s what makes fiction like this a powerful force:
Among the fantastic, truth is revealed. Reality in the midst of fantasy.
Not coincidentally, I’m sure, I had just finished Lacey Sturm’s telling of her real-life story in The Reason. Surrounded by the Darkness she nearly gave in, but she to encountered the Light and had to make a choice. Lady Selene’s world may be fiction, but it is a story many find themselves in.
Readers were briefly introduced to Solana in Among the Shadows. In Book 2, Awakening, we will be seeing much more of Solana, the tamer of the tempest. What follows is a Lost Tale that takes place between the prologue and Chapter one of the first book…Anger burned in Solana’s eyes, the green light wild with fury.…
“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.
“Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.
“Orwell feared we would become a captive audience. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.
“Orwell feared that we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.
“As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny ‘failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.’ In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.” – Neil Postman
[Full disclosure: This is an interview with me, by me. Yes, you read that right…]
Today we are talking with writer Darrick Dean, author of the Watchers of the Light historical fantasy series. He has graciously taken time out of his busy schedule to answer a few quick questions on his books and writing. Thanks for joining us tonight, Darrick, ready to dive in?
Good to be here. Let’s give this a go.
Q: So, fantasy stories are often set in other realms or alternate realities, but the Watchers of the Light is set in our own modern world. There is a catch, however. Not all myth is fiction. Can you tell us more about this premise?
A: I wanted to really blur the line between reality and fantasy, so I took some historical elements, and overlaid bits of myth and legend. Of course, another facet is that legend often has remnants of truth in it. Take the core of the Iliad — the Trojan War and the siege of Troy — turned out to be true. So did the Viking Sagas detailing voyages to America, and so on. Now the reader is left wondering where fact ends, and fiction begins, while being drawn deeper into the story.
Q: Among the Shadows has an archetypal villain, the shadowmancer Ahriman. What kind of threat will the Watchers face in Awakening?
A: Ahriman is largely a puppetmaster, controlling everything from afar. He isn’t overly complex in his motivations, but is certainly malicious and powerful. His past his only hinted at, which leaves an opening for future stories. In Awakening, we encounter a different sort of enemy. Darkness pervades her as well, but her story is more complex, her motivations more faceted.
Q: In the first book, much of the story centers around Ethan and his family, all gifted with different abilities. Does the focus change in book 2?
A: The plan was always to give all the characters substantial roles, but to shine the light a little more on different people in each book. In Awakening we see that happening, including bringing to the forefront a person who was just hinted at in book one. She was a bit mysterious, bookending the first story, but here we find her in the thick of things. Also, with the establishment of the characters out of the way, I think we will see them grow more and be more comfortable in their chosen paths.
Q: Among the Shadows certainly was influenced by traditional fantasy in the sense of creatures and battles and searching for lost relics. Will the story continue down this path?
A: A little, but I want to move the needle just a bit. Not only don’t you want your plots identical, making some subtle changes in the atmosphere keeps things fresh. I like how the Mission Impossible films use different directors to give each film a slightly different look, yet still keep them in the same continuity. Not jarring change, but they avoid a same-old feel. Awakening has creatures and battles for sure, but there is an Edgar Rice Burroughs influence here. Think lost worlds and kinetic action. More crisp and tactile.
Q: What’s the best part of writing these stories?
A: Seeing them come alive on their own. Sooner or later in writing a story, people and places appear that you didn’t plan for. Character arcs you never outlined form on their own. When an author experiences this, he or she has left writing and entered storytelling.
Q: What’s the hardest part?
A: Editing. First you must find the best parts, the ones that just pop off the page, and compare everything else to them. You cut and delete what no longer works, or never did. Think you can’t delete your amazing words? You will once you realize how much more amazing they can be. First chapters, then paragraphs are refined. Next are sentences. Then you are down to individual words. Shaping and trimming like a sculptor. Then you’re done. Mostly.
Q: What does the future hold for the Watchers and their adventures?
A: Finishing Awakening is the first goal. Everyone thinks in trilogies these days, and that’s my initial plan as well. That could no doubt change, but this universe will ultimately have self-contained sets of different lengths. Two books I have planned will parallel the Watchers of the Light, and most likely intersect with it. Set in the same world with a different focus. There is a clue in Among the Shadows to what beings will be featured in the Servants of the Flame duology. I also plan to put together a collection of shorts — lost tales, deleted scenes — featuring various people we have already met, and yet to come.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to everyone. Where can readers find your book?
I tamed them, made them answer to the Light.
Now evil arises among the sands, in the shadows, and the deep sea. I am Solana, and I will hunt the Darkness, search it out, and call forth the tempest to hurl the demonspawn back into the Abyss.
Among the Shadows: Watchers of the Light Book 1 now available!
[Photo used under license from Shutterstock.com.]