Earlier this week, I reviewed The Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts (review here). This is the first book in the epic series, The Wars of Light and Shadow. As you may have noticed, I heartily enjoyed this first book and that means I'm very much looking forward to reading the rest.
series is unique in many ways - the writing, the story, and even the
structure, so I thought it would be good to hear from the author herself
to find out what we can expect. She was kind enough to oblige.
Thanks to Janny for visiting our humble blog and for this great introduction.
A few notes on the series from Janny
your take on the style as 'immersive' is bang on. I aimed to deliver an
experience, as though the reader had been present, living the events
with edges and full sensory impact. This requires full focus and no
skimming, and not much room for inattention or the fluffy fuzz of
ambiguity. I am not writing pablum, or aiming for middle ground, or
striking to engage everyone. Sorry: No Elves. No Orcs. No Darklords. For
those fond of 'simple' or 'short,' I suggest picking something else
from another phase of my career.
Each book is built for a slam
finish. The finale makes the story, and many things that look maverick,
or even, present first as ordinary tropes will only fall into place and
explode into sense in the latter half. I've always preferred a careful
build that converges into hard action and an unforgettable ending,
instead of the front loaded beginning that peters out and delivers
predictability. Every volume also has a 'two punch' climax - a
half-point shift that rips into a gutsy finale. That is part of the
series' signature, except for volume two and three, which became a
'split book' - Ships of Merior and Warhost of Vastmark were designed to
be a single title, but due to length, the publisher divided the story at
the half point shift...the two books are more powerful taken together.
Left intact, the spine of the paperback was going to rip in two, anyway.
The decision was made to keep the book classy, and the binding intact
for posterity, or, if you like, for a more satisfactory bang for the
book-tossers who pitch fits, when a story ticks off their personal
In addition to the creative formatting, there is an arc
format to this series - it may help if new readers are prepared - the
arcs are not self standing, but mark distinct phases of the story. Each
arc moves the markers - everything read earlier will shift meaning. The
story won't tell a reader what to think, the reader must constantly
discern and restage their previous opinions for themselves. And new
insights will flip pat assumptions, left and right, so best ditch your
rose colored glasses and prejudice, because sympathies are going to flip
Arc I, Curse of the Mistwraith - sets the stage, introduces the series and opens the conflict.
Arc II, Ships of Merior/Warhost of Vastmark - deepens the characters and intensifies the conflict to another level entirely.
Arc III, Alliance of Light
Prince, Grand Conspiracy, Peril's Gate, Traitor's Knot, Stormed
Fortress - takes the conflict to 'world view.' Things you assumed in the
earlier arcs will NOT be what you thought. This is anything BUT
Arc IV, Sword of the Canon
Initiate's Trial (now released), Destiny's Conflict (in progress)
stages for the Mysteries
Arc V, Song of the Mysteries - last vol, finishes the series entire, brings the story threads to closure.
ARC, taken as a whole, also has a build, and a tipping point, and a
roller-coaster rush to a grand finale. So the pacing of the books in
each sequence will reflect this. Each arc start 'gears down' a little,
then builds pace again, with the readers' former assumptions graphically
rearranged - so that in the middle arc (five volumes/one story), the
middle book frames its own tipping point, and the last TWO volumes
converge at a gallop.
Due to 'nothing being what it seems at the
outset,' expect every volume will deepen and unveil new angles of view,
rather than sprawl into 'additional territory'. As epics go, the cast of
characters stays tightly focused, it is the intensity and scope that
shift the value and perception of what is happening. Characters will
change, and as their viewpoints shift, everything they stood for may
turn upside down. The story also shifts contour, depending where the
reader stands in life. This book is not for a YA audience, I get notes
all the time from folks who tried it too young, and crashed out, only to
'rediscover' the thrust of it several years later - that it is both an
extroverted story, and an introspective one, all rolled into one.
the entire series is finished, the whole plan will be apparent.
Meantime - I DO NOT CHEAT THE SYSTEM BY WRITING CLIFFHANGERS. Each
volume has a satisfactory stopping point. The books play best if read in
order. The arcs were not meant, or written, stand alone! For the
impatient: I have seen some dauntless spirits plunge in at Traitor's
Knot (where arc III converges) and just get sucked into the action
straight away. But if you take the daredevil leap this way, be warned:
you'll hit pay dirt for spoilers!