Jin Yong’s Fantastical Wuxia Epic–Legends of the Condor Heroes–is Finally Coming to the U.S.

One of the most celebrated and beloved literary epics in China, Jin Yong’s Legend of the Condor Heroes has been the country’s premier wuxia—a blending of history, martial arts action, and fantasy—for more than half a century. Now, St. Martin’s Press is proud to publish the first English-language translation of the classic saga for U.S. readers, starting with A Hero Born.

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Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Nerdanel, Called the Wise

In this new biweekly series, we’ll be exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. In this first installment, we’ll focus on Nerdanel, the Noldorin sculptor, wife of Fëanor, and mother of seven strapping sons.

In the published Silmarillion, Nerdanel exists as little more than a background figure. We’re told that she is “the daughter of a great smith named Mahtan,” and that she, like her husband Fëanor, is “firm of will.” For a while, Fëanor is content to seek her counsel, though he isolates himself in all other respects (58), but as she is “more patient than Fëanor, desiring to understand minds rather than to control them,” they soon become estranged. Fëanor’s “later deeds grieved her.” Though she gives him seven sons, and some of them apparently have her temperament, she is left out of any further mention of the family thereafter, except in one instance, when Fëanor is referred to as “the husband of Nerdanel” because the text is specifically interested in that moment with the relationship between Mahtan and Fëanor (61). Nerdanel herself is given no voice.

But who is this Nerdanel? What were her motivations and passions, and why (and how!) does she not fall under the spell of Fëanor’s compelling voice and charismatic spirit? Tolkien does not mention her in his letters, but he does give her quite a bit more attention than we’d originally suspect, if we relied only on the published Silmarillion.

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Fun With Ancient, Squishy Complex Life Forms

SF writers frequently send their protagonists back in time. Quite often, they send their characters to a time when said characters might be stalked by a dinosaur. If sent to an even earlier time, characters might be menaced by a Gorgonopsid (though I am unaware of any such excursions; perhaps someone needs to write one). The earliest fauna that might endanger protagonists would have to be Cambrian. Perhaps a swarm of ferocious thirty-centimeter Peytoia nathorsti?

Ah, the Cambrian. 541 million years ago. Brings back memories. Not that I was there, mind you. Memories, rather, of the olden days when we believed that the Cambrian Explosion was the very fons et origo of complex life. Now we know that while the Cambrian Explosion was definitely a significant event, it doesn’t seem to have been the only time the planet dabbled with complex life vaguely analogous to modern forms.

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Wormholes and Carnivorous Furniture: Announcing Finna, a New SF Novella from Nino Cipri

I’m very pleased to announce that Tor.com Publishing has acquired Finna, a new science fiction novella from Nino Cipri. When an elderly customer at a big box furniture store slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but our two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago.

Can friendship blossom from the ashes of a relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.

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Oathbringer Reread: Chapter Sixty-Six

Well, I hope you’re all prepared for Dalinar being an absolute twit, because in this chapter he’s putting his hat in the ring for the award of All Time Worst Husband Ever. He also gets highly equivocal ratings on the Dad front; at least there are some upvotes in that category to balance the downers.

[Welcome to war. There are no unequivocal wins. Just victories that leave fewer of your friends dead than others.]

Series: Oathbringer Reread

Hell of a Party: Jennifer Brozek’s “Dreams of a Thousand Young”

Welcome back to the Lovecraft reread, in which two modern Mythos writers get girl cooties all over old Howard’s sandbox, from those who inspired him to those who were inspired in turn.

This week, we’re reading Jennifer Brozek’s “Dreams of a Thousand Young,” first published in 2014 in Innsmouth Free Press’s Jazz Age Cthulhu collection. Spoilers ahead.

[“Helen wanted to look away, but the gleaming altar called to her.”]

Series: The Lovecraft Reread

The Perfect Assassin Sweepstakes!

A novice assassin is on the hunt for someone killing their own in K. A. Doore’s The Perfect Assassin, a breakout high fantasy beginning the Chronicles of Ghadid series. The Perfect Assassin is available March 19th from Tor Books—and we want to send you a copy!

Divine justice is written in blood.

Or so Amastan has been taught. As a new assassin in the Basbowen family, he’s already having second thoughts about taking a life. A scarcity of contracts ends up being just what he needs.

Until, unexpectedly, Amastan finds the body of a very important drum chief. Until, impossibly, Basbowen’s finest start showing up dead, with their murderous jaan running wild in the dusty streets of Ghadid. Until, inevitably, Amastan is ordered to solve these murders, before the family gets blamed.

[Read on for more about the book, and comment in the post to enter!]

Aftermath: The Education of Brother Thaddius by R.A. Salvatore

Like a lot of young kids growing up reading epic fantasy, R.A. Salvatore was one of my absolute favourite authors. Less traditionally, my path to becoming a Salvatore fan wasn’t through his popular Drizzt books (though I’d read and enjoy those later), but rather through his other brilliant epic fantasy, the DemonWars Saga. Over its seven books—comprised of two main trilogies and a bridge novel—DemonWars tells the harrowing, heartbreaking story of Corona, a world gifted with magical stones, the complex socio-political makings of its church, and the legendary Jilseponie Ault, who climbs her way from humble beginnings to become the most powerful magic user in the world. Mortalis, the fourth book that bridges the two trilogies, remains to this day one of the most affecting and beautiful novels I’ve ever read—it helped show a 17 year old reader that epic fantasy could be at once vast and intensely personal.

It was bittersweet to leave Corona behind with the publication of the final book in the series, 2003’s Immortalis—however, over the years, Salvatore has returned to the world, most recently with Child of a Mad God, a new epic fantasy that focuses on a previously unexplored region. It’s an excellent opportunity for long-time fans to return, and also a good jumping on point for new readers. Included with the paperback edition of Child of a Mad God is a novella originally published by Salvatore in 2014 titled The Education of Brother Thaddius. Unlike Salvatore’s previous returns to Corona—which were either set centuries before the DemonWars series, or in parts of the world only touched-upon by the series’ events—this novella is set in the immediate aftermath of Immortalis’s world-changing climax, and, as such, is a delight for long-time fans.

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Kingdom of Heaven’s Disappointing Crusade Against History

In both my scholarship and my fiction, my mind has been on war of late.

I think that’s why I’ve decided to take a breather from my workloads by queuing up Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut (2006).

First, I must tell you that I saw Kingdom of Heaven when it first came out in theaters in 2005. It was both disappointing and exhausting: the main arc of the protagonist made no sense, the pacing was odd, and the historical events were portrayed, well, super wrong. Also, and I must get this out of the way upfront, I’m not a fan of Orlando Bloom in this kind of role. I don’t know what Hollywood was thinking by casting him as a crusader knight. It’s especially odd when so much of the rest of the cast is perfection.

Anyway, I saw it in the theaters, was very much not impressed, and that was that.

But then you, my dear readers, in comments to previous Medieval Matters columns, asked me again and again to review Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut. It’s better, y’all insisted.

So fine. Let’s give this a shot. God wills it!

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Series: Medieval Matters

Announcing the 2018 Nebula Awards Finalists

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2018 Nebula Awards, including the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, and for the first time, the Nebula Award for Game Writing.

The winners will be announced at SFWA’s 54th annual Nebula Conference in Los Angeles, CA, which takes place from Thursday, May 16th through Sunday, May 19th at the Marriott Warner Center in Woodland Hills, CA.

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A Steampunk Mystery with Real Bite: P. Djèlí Clark’s The Haunting of Tram Car 015

On the eve of one of the country’s most important votes in years, a spirit takes over a tram car. Agent Hamed Nasr has been at the ministry for a long time, too long perhaps. He’s seen just about everything. Joining him is a fresh recruit, Agent Onsi Youssef, an eager, learned young man. What starts off as a standard exorcism explodes into the unimaginable. This is no ordinary haunting, and to solve the case Hamed and Onsi will have to make some unexpected alliances in the city’s underbelly.

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6 Badass Female Time Travelers Who Get the Job Done

There is no single archetype of the female time traveler. She may be a young newlywed on her honeymoon, or a septuagenarian acting as a secret government weapon. She is black, or white, or from a future less concerned with skin color (but concerned with plenty otherwise). She is a writer, a river rehabilitator, a veteran of a World War. And no two travelers make the same passage through time and space: each of these intricate tales are brought about by everything from futuristic machinery to nanotechnology to magical stones.

Join us under the cut to meet six timestream-hopping women who have left their mark on history!

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2018 Aurealis Awards Finalists Have Been Announced

The Continuum Foundation (ConFound) has announced this year’s finalists for the 2018 Aurealis Awards. We’re delighted to report that two books from Tor.com Publishing, Corey J. White’s Static Ruin and Kirstyn McDermott’s Triquetra, have been nominated, as well as Sam Hawke’s City of Lies, which was published by Tor Books in the U.S., and Penguin Random House in Australia. The winners of the 2018 Aurealis Awards, Sara Douglass Book Series Award, and the Convenors’ Award for Excellence will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony, which will be held in Melbourne on Saturday May 4, 2019.

Click through for the full list and congratulations to all the finalists!

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Move Over, Westeros: Six SFF Series That Would Rule the TV Landscape

For various reasons—mainly the use of sexual assault as plot parsley—I haven’t been following HBO’s Game of Thrones. That’s not, however, going to stop me from suggesting other SFF book series that might survive the transition to television. After all, everyone else is doing it…

The candidates should be series of at least three books or more—preferably complete. I mean, we wouldn’t want the TV writers to have to imagine their own ending. (Nor would we want the writers to re-imagine the ending. Just to make that clear.) Here are a few that more than fit the bill…

[Death cults, mutant sorceresses, and aeroplanes!]

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