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The Darkwater Legacy by Chris Wooding

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Announcing a stunning new epic fantasy series from Gollancz

http://www.chriswooding.com/the-ember-blade/

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A land under occupation. A legendary sword. A young man’s journey to find his destiny.

Aren has lived by the rules all his life. He’s never questioned it; that’s just the way things are. But then his father is executed for treason, and he and his best friend Cade are thrown into a prison mine, doomed to work until they drop. Unless they can somehow break free . . .

But what lies beyond the prison walls is more terrifying still. Rescued by a man who hates him yet is oath-bound to protect him, pursued by inhuman forces, Aren slowly accepts that everything he knew about his world was a lie. The rules are not there to protect him, or his people, but to enslave them. A revolution is brewing, and Aren is being drawn into it, whether he likes it or not.

The key to the revolution is the Ember Blade. The sword of kings, the Excalibur of his people. Only with the Ember Blade in hand can their people be inspired to rise up . . . but it’s locked in an impenetrable vault in the most heavily guarded fortress in the land. All they have to do now is steal it. . .

Designed to return to classic fantasy adventures and values, from a modern perspective, this is a fast-moving coming-of-age trilogy featuring a strong cast of diverse characters, brilliant set-pieces and a powerful character and plot driven story.

Chris Wooding said: ‘With The Ember Blade I wanted to recapture the sense of wonder I felt on first discovering fantasy, but to marry it with modern storytelling sensibilities. I didn’t want the black-and-white morality of 20th century epic fantasy, but I did want its warmth and magic. I didn’t want the bleak nihilism that has prevailed in the genre of late, but I did want its nuanced characters and its willingness to plunge into darkness. Fans of “classic” fantasy, YA adventure and GrimDark will find something to love here.’

Gillian Redfearn said: ‘Chris Wooding has always been amazing to work with, but his new concept for an epic fantasy trilogy was a dream. A series told in a modern way, which draws on all the appeal of classic quests like David Eddings’ novels, character-driven stories like Robin Hobb’s, and British mythology from Arthur to Robin Hood. This is a series full of heart, determination and grit, and readers will adore it.’

The Ember Blade will be available in hardback, ebook and audio download on the 15th February 2018.

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It’s coming in at about 300,000 words (same size as A Game Of Thrones, more or less).

 

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Huh.  Braided Path went some places I didn't expect (and didn't totally like, but respected the ambition, if that makes sense?) so this is not uninteresting but it's going to be all in the execution.

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Tales of the Ketty Jay and The Braided Path were both superb, as was The Fade, so this shoots to the top of my most-wanted queue.

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Great news! Chris Wooding is one of my favorite authors. Werthead has it exactly right. I've read those books as well, and they are some of my favorites. Ketty Jay - what an amazing series. Just love, love, love it. I once tried to make Chris Wooding my boyfriend, on this very forum, but he declined, :crying:

He writes like a dream. Love Chris Wooding. I wish the book wasn't so far away.

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it also sounds a bit like it will start like a "traditional fantasy" but will then unfold into something more modern reading between the lines of the blurb and the reddit comments. The whole "realises his world is a lie to enslave his people" seems like a great opportunity to deconstruct the style of books he admits to loving as a kid.

Shame we have to wait a year but maybe a quick turnaround on the series given the advanced planning

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On Fri Mar 24 2017 at 4:59 PM, red snow said:

Shame we have to wait a year but maybe a quick turnaround on the series given the advanced planning

Maybe I can finish the Ketty Jay books in the meantime. 

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6 hours ago, Isis said:

Maybe I can finish the Ketty Jay books in the meantime. 

I thought each book in that series got better until the final one which is a rare example of a series perhaps ending too soon. I guess there's worse complaints than thinking there was at least another book there and that maybe too much happened in the finale.

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9 hours ago, red snow said:

I thought each book in that series got better until the final one which is a rare example of a series perhaps ending too soon. I guess there's worse complaints than thinking there was at least another book there and that maybe too much happened in the finale.

I think I started the third one and stalled. I also still have The Braided Path on my TBR pile.

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5 hours ago, Isis said:

I think I started the third one and stalled. I also still have The Braided Path on my TBR pile.

I failed miserably with the braided path and it was down to as silly a thing as the combined series is a bit of a phonebook and I wasn't taking it with me for commute reading. There's a kindle version but I don't want to pay a lot for content I've already bought. Really silly excuse but there it is.

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I had to buy a kindle version of a book I'd just bought as a brand new hardback for my book club recently, as I left the book in work. It was a good book but it was galling.

I really liked The Fade. I secretly hoped The Braided Path would have something in common with that.

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16 hours ago, red snow said:

I failed miserably with the braided path and it was down to as silly a thing as the combined series is a bit of a phonebook and I wasn't taking it with me for commute reading. There's a kindle version but I don't want to pay a lot for content I've already bought. Really silly excuse but there it is.

The ridiculous paperback is one of the reasons I made the switch to a kindle.  I finished the first book, and then paid for the next two again because I didn't want to deal with that monstrosity any longer.

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it's definitely a case where I'd like a code for an ebook attached with the hardcopy. Amazon's good at giving reductions on audiobooks if you own the kindle but it doesn't seem to extend to hardcopies yet. I think I'd happily pay a £2 more for the digital version if it was an option on top of the hardcopy.

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I should get round to reading his YA and faux-manga stuff, as it's supposed to be very good. One of my friends offered to lend me all those books.

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Ember Blade Release Date now September 20th

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For those who’ve pre-ordered, the Ember Blade release date has been pushed back a few months to September to fit in with publishing schedules (and cos it took ages to edit). Apologies. Sept 20th, for definite! You can pre-order the hardback here.

 

On 3/29/2017 at 0:14 AM, Werthead said:

I should get round to reading his YA and faux-manga stuff, as it's supposed to be very good. One of my friends offered to lend me all those books.

FYI his Broken Sky trilogy which was out of print got released recently as ebooks.

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New Broken Sky Ebooks

After being out of print for many years, the Broken Sky trilogy is at last out in ebook! Available on Amazon, iBooks (search Wooding Broken Sky), Kobo and B&N for Nook. The latter three have free downloadable samples comprising the first third of The Twilight War. The links go to UK stores but they’re available in the US too. If you’re on Kindle, unfortunately you have to pay 99p/99c to get it as Amazon don’t let you set a price any lower, but I’m working on that.

Lots of people out there who grew up with Ryushi and Kia will be happy to know that Broken Sky is back from the grave. Tell your friends!

 

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Book 1: The Ember Blade

Two great empires have dominated the east of Embria, the fall of the great subterranean empire of the urds heralding the rise of Ossia, protected by the Ember Blade and the sacred order of Dawnwardens. But thirty years ago Ossia was invaded in turn by Kroda, a kingdom of order, logic and science. Declaring itself the Third Empire, Kroda sees its destiny is to unite the continent through the Sword and the Word.

Although it is a land under occupation, life is good for many Ossians. The Krodans keep the bandits in check and the roads maintained. For young Aren, an Ossian noble son born into happy fortune, he sees his nation's destiny is in alliance with Kroda. That dream dies when he is betrayed by the empire he believes in. Left to rot in a prison camp, he is given an opportunity to strike back against his enemies...and help reclaim the Ember Blade.

Chris Wooding has been one of science fiction and fantasy's most interesting and restless voices for a long time now, moving from writing cracking YA reads to mature, thoughtful works of science fantasy like The Fade. His work in adult fantasy is mostly contained in the excellent Braided Path series, rooted in Asian mythology and influences, and the rollicking Tales of the Ketty Jay, a dieselpunk saga of airships, fighters, rampaging titans, surly cats and heroes whose buckles are, indeed, swashed.

The Darkwater Legacy is Wooding's back-to-basics take on the traditional fantasy saga (even the title feels like it was copyrighted in 1985). Ossia is a land under the grip of a cruel empire, a heroic band of freedom fighters are trying to save the day and a young man finds himself touched by destiny. It's like David Eddings, Margaret Weis, Tracey Hickman and Terry Brooks had a brainstorming session over a power lunch. If they did, though, then Wooding stole their notes, drank their beer and set about skewing everything slightly away from the way you think it's going to go.

The Ember Blade introduces us to Aren, the son of an Ossian noble who thinks himself destined for great things, unable to accept that his blood means that he will never be taken seriously by the Krodans. His best friend is Cade, a carpenter's son. They are separated by class and their feelings about the Krodan invaders, but they are soon bound together by profound misfortune. Along the way they meet up with a highly dubious warrior, thief and scoundrel, Grub the Skarl (master of the boastful non-sequitur), and a bunch of rebels led by the enigmatic "Hollow Man", before they find themselves on the run from supernatural trackers and gradually realise more is going on than it first appears. So far, so Lord of the Rings meets The Eye of the World. When our characters join forces with a druidess searching for a hero who is the fulfilment of prophecy and reach Skavenhald, a terrible ruin inhabited by a profound supernatural evil (Moria by way of Shadar Logoth, with a name that nods at Warhammer), you may be trying to keep your eyes from rolling. Wooding writes with skill but there's the feeling that maybe the traditional fantasy archetypes are being assembled a bit too familiarly here, as if assembled from an IKEA flatpack.

But then things get a lot more interesting. Skavenhald is weird and a distinctly Lovecraftian tone creeps in as screeching horrible things from other realms threaten to break through the skein of reality. It's more Dark Souls than Balrog Retirement Village, and all the better for it. After this the book becomes more engrossing as Wooding strips back the psychology of his characters, revealing them to be less the Fellowship of the Ring and more the Companions of Utter Dysfunction. One late-emerging main character is fascinating, a middle-aged teacher and patriot whose ruthlessness and resourcefulness dwarfs that of almost any of the other characters. The story takes several extremely unexpected swings (complete with a few shocking dispatches of characters you thought were around for the duration) before we reach the appropriately epic conclusion and the inevitably-frustrating wait for Book 2.

The Ember Blade is Wooding's longest novel to date - just under 800 pages in tradeback - but has more story in it than most entire trilogies. We have a prison break narrative, a horror story, a war story and an urban fantasy adventure. There's pirates, wolves, dodgy Viking warriors and some discomforting WWII allegories. One sequence feels like it's come out of Moby Dick, another out of Baldur's Gate. Wooding has had a frankly unseemly amount of fun in assembling his Big Fat Fantasy Saga and is keen to share that with the reader. The pages rattle by, the worldbuilding becomes more well-rounded and intriguing and the characters never stop growing and changing. It would be easy to condemn the author for writing "just" another throwback fantasy here, but it's also easy to forget that writing a good epic fantasy is still very difficult, and Wooding does it with aplomb.

The Ember Blade (****½) is great fun, a classic epic fantasy which, after a perhaps slightly too-traditional opening, avoids becoming too predictable. The characters are memorable and charismatic, but also flawed, with their darker moments that give them more edge than the one-note heroes of yesteryear. The tone is light and fun to start with, but matures throughout, with a few moments of real darkness at the end as things get real. The novel will be published on 20 September 2018 in the UK (and will be available on import in the USA).

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You lucky beggar getting to read this so far in advance. It's probably my most eagerly awaited fantasy of the year. I loved the ketty jay books and if the same fun pacing is to be found I'll be happy.

It sounds like the intro is deliberately by the numbers classic fantasy so that he can pull the rug out from under us later in the book/series. Any idea how long a series this is anticipated to be?

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4 hours ago, red snow said:

You lucky beggar getting to read this so far in advance. It's probably my most eagerly awaited fantasy of the year. I loved the ketty jay books and if the same fun pacing is to be found I'll be happy.

It sounds like the intro is deliberately by the numbers classic fantasy so that he can pull the rug out from under us later in the book/series. Any idea how long a series this is anticipated to be?

Just a trilogy, I believe.

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Sounds good.  Looking forward to this one.  I’ve yet to meet a bad Chris Wooding book.  I will say that the Ember Blade is a much better series title than the Darkwater Legacy.

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