Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dan Wells says, "I don't want to kill you."

This is just a quick note to say that my Writing Excuses cohost Dan Wells's final John Cleaver book in the trilogy that began with I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER is out in both hardcover and trade paperback. The title is I DON'T WANT TO KILL YOU, and it is brilliant. [Assistant Peter says: I liked the first book and thought the second took it up just a notch, but the third book blows both of them away.]

Dan has posted his tour schedule on his site. He'll be at the Barnes & Noble in Orem tonight, and then in ten other cities.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tsunami Relief Auctions, Writing & Illustrating for Young Readers + Updates

Tor has donated a few of my books for auction at Genre for Japan, a charity drive to support the British Red Cross's Japan Tsunami Appeal. The auctions include a THE WAY OF KINGS audiobook, hardcovers of THE GATHERING STORM and TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, and a Mistborn boxset. You can go to those links to bid (in UK pounds); bidding and auction rules are here. There are over 130 other items up for auction as well, so check it out.

A couple of years ago, I was an instructor at the Writing & Illustrating for Young Readers conference in Utah. I'm unable to do it again this year in June due to my Europe tour (more on that later as details are finalized), but it's a valuable experience if you want to break in to creating books for children. Instructors this year include Louise Plummer and Holly Black, among others. The workshops are filling up fast, so it's a good idea to register quickly. is once again putting on its Tournament of Audiobooks, and TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT is one of the competitors. The first round is underway, and so far TOWERS is narrowly beating out AMERICAN ASSASSIN. If you want to vote, click on the Best Sellers tab. (THE GATHERING STORM won last year's tournament.)

Suvudu has Vin up against Jon Snow in the semifinals of this year's cage match. Since Jon Snow hails from George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, he's probably going to win. Which I'm perfectly fine with, as George is a true master of a writer. Besides, I really have no interest in seeing both Vin and Perrin winning their semifinal matches (Perrin will be pitted against Quick Ben from Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen, who is no pushover) and facing each other in the final.

Ta'veren Tees is having a contest where customers can win free Wheel of Time shirts. See their contest rules here.

This week's Writing Excuses podcast episode features Larry Correia and Robison Wells joining Dan and Howard to talk about writing action scenes. The most recent WARBREAKER annotation covers more on Siri and Susebron's relationship. And I have a new batch of Twitter posts up.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hugo Nomination Deadline Tomorrow

Back in January I posted about nominating and voting for the Hugo Awards. Well, if you're eligible to nominate (you needed to be a registered Worldcon member by the end of January, or have been a member of last year's Worldcon), the nomination deadline is tomorrow night. If you didn't register quickly enough to nominate, now is a good time to register so that you'll be eligible to vote on the final ballot, which should open fairly soon. The convention itself will be in Reno, Nevada from August 17th through 21st.

If you want more details, read my earlier post. For now, here's a reminder of what I've been involved in that's eligible for a nomination.


  • Writing Excuses Season Four


  • Towers of Midnight
  • The Way of Kings
  • Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens

I have a vested interest in a few other possible nominations. My editors Moshe Feder and Harriet McDougal are both eligible in the Best Editor (Long Form) category. Cover artists Michael Whelan, Darrell K. Sweet, and Todd Lockwood are eligible in the Best Professional Artist category. Howard Tayler's Schlock Mercenary book Massively Parallel is eligible in the Best Graphic Story category. Dan Wells's books I Am Not a Serial Killer and Mr. Monster are eligible in the Best Novel category, and Dan himself is eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (not a Hugo, but nominated on the same ballot).

If you're eligible to nominate and haven't done it yet, consider doing it now. And if you've already nominated and happen to want to revise your nominations, you can submit a new ballot that will cancel out the old one, which is rather convenient.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Suvudu Cage Match: Vin vs. Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander

Over at Suvudu, Vin is up against Zedd from Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. Here's how I think the match would go down.

Vin crouched behind the earthen bank, the scent of burned wood pungent in her nose. A stump smoldered nearby, specks of red flaring alight in the breeze. The aging man with the white hair stood with hands clasped behind him at the center of the field; scarred patches of ground lay blackened where his wizard’s fire had fallen.

She stilled her breathing, resisting the urge to puff in and out. He would hear that, this strange old man with the ability to draw fire and lightning into his hands. He didn’t carry a bit of metal on his body, and had stopped her coins in midair when shot at him. He’d nearly stopped her as well, the air seeming to grow thick around her as she’d scrambled away. She’d barely gotten out of that with her life.

“Well,” the aging man said. “You might as well come out. Neither of us find this an ideal situation, but it is what it is, and we must accept it.”

She knew very little of this man. Indeed, she couldn’t quite remember how she’d come to this place, this quiet and darkened forest. She felt eyes in that darkness, watching; she could hear them stirring, the watchers, yet none of them spoke.

The white-haired man strolled forward. “I do feel bad that I have to kill you. Unfortunately, in order for me to live, you must die. Objectively, you can see that I must not hold back, as I must seek my own self-interest first. Certainly that is logical.”

Whoever this old sorcerer was, he did like to talk. Vin crept quietly around the perimeter of the clearing, burning tin, pewter, and steel. Light on her feet, alert and anxious to move, she kept to the shadows, watching for an opening. Perhaps . . .

It seemed her only choice.

“Perhaps we should join together,” she yelled out. “Fight against those who are watching.”

He spun and did that thing with his hands, where he seemed to gather in heat from outside and fling it toward her. She ducked in a roll, sweating, as the fire took a tree behind where she’d been crouching.

She had one bead of atium, powerful enough to let her see the future for a few short seconds. But she’d have to be close to use it—very close.

“I think not,” the man said. “They have taken no move against me as of yet.”

“They’re in concert together,” Vin said from in her hiding place.

The old man gathered fire again.

“I think,” Vin called, “they’ll wait for us to weaken each other and then attack us as one.”

The old man froze. “As one?”

“Er . . . sure. Yeah.”

“Communally?” he said.

“I’ll bet.”

His eyes opened wide. “COMMUNISTS!” he yelled. Then, incredibly, he climbed up on a stump and began to address those watching. “Hear me, socialists! Your foul ways have no grounding in rational thought, and only seek to divest men of their rights! You will listen, now, as I explain—at length—why capitalism is the only method by which truth can be found and expressed.”

And with that, he launched into a long-winded speech about something he called "objectivism." Vin didn’t listen to much of it; she just crept her way forward, behind his back, and he blathered on and on. Was this really the best time for a lecture? She shook her head.

Right as he was getting into a definition of something he called "positive rights," she Burned atium and leaped forward, driving a glass dagger into the back of his neck. He tried to dodge, but the atium let her see the direction he’d go, and her mind adjusted immediately.

“Urk,” the old man said. “And thus we see that this young lady’s rational egoism is victorious in the end, and that is proof of everything I’ve been saying. And, unfortunately, I appear to have just proven Wizard’s First Rule. . . .” He slipped and fell to the ground, eyes wide, glassy, dead.

“‘Wizard’s First Rule?’” Vin asked. “I mean, really. Is it too hard to say ‘The First Rule of Wizardry’ or ‘Wizardry’s First Rule’? The way you say it sounds stupid. That’s always bothered me.” With that, she slipped off into the darkness.

There you go. If you think this is the way the match would play out, go cast your vote. The poll closes tomorrow.

Monday, March 21, 2011

WARBREAKER Annotation, Tweets, and Writing Excuses Episode on Rewriting

Tracy Hickman and Dave Wolverton once again joined Dan and Howard for a podcast episode of Writing Excuses at the recent symposium on Life, the Universe, and Everything in Provo. This time they covered rewriting.

The most recent WARBREAKER annotation is almost all about spoilers from chapter 47. As WARBREAKER is the book I've released for free online, I conveniently have a link to the full text of each chapter at the bottom of each annotation page, and vice versa. So if you want to read chapter 47 before reading its annotation, that couldn't be easier.

There's also a new collection of Twitter posts up, covering most of the past week. Delicate Arch plays an important role.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Vericon Schedule, Signing in Boston Area, ALLOY OF LAW Cover

This weekend I'll be Guest of Honor at Vericon at Harvard University. Other guests include Austin Grossman, Holly Black, Catherine Asaro, Sarah Smith, Ellen Kushner, and Delia Sherman. My schedule is below, and the full schedule is here.

All of us will also be signing at the Harvard Book Store at various times on Saturday. You can come to the signings without paying to register for Vericon, but all of the readings and panels will take place in Sever Hall for registered con-goers only. The whole con is $25 for students (with current ID from any institution) and $35 for non-students; Saturday only is $15 for students and $20 for non-students. has also revealed the cover art (below) for the Mistborn book that's coming out in November, THE ALLOY OF LAW. There's a short summary too. I may talk more about this later, but let me say that I love the art that Chris McGrath did for this.

Vericon, Harvard University, Cambridge MA (my panels)

7:30–8:45 p.m., Sever 113
Young Adult Literature Panel: A panel about writing young adult literature featuring Holly Black, Catherine Asaro, Sarah Smith, and Brandon Sanderson.

10:30–11:15 a.m., Sever 102
Brandon Sanderson reading and Q&A.

11:30–12:45, Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
A guest signing featuring Brandon Sanderson, Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner. (Delia & Ellen will arrive at noon.)

2:30–4:00 p.m., Sever 113
Collaborations in Writing Panel: An exciting panel on collaborations and what they add to writing. Brandon Sanderson, Holly Black, Austin Grossman, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman will talk about work they've done collaboratively with each other and with other excellent authors.

4:30–5:30 p.m., Sever 113
Brandon Sanderson Guest of Honor Speech

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wheel of Time Shirts

There haven't ever, so far as I know, been official Wheel of Time T-shirts. A lot of people have asked where they can get them. Finally we have a place: Ta'veren Tees. I've got a few of the shirts, and they're awesome. (Particularly the Far Dareis Mai one.)

Their press release follows.


Fans of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time® series now have a way to wear their love for the WoT on their sleeves—literally.

Ta’veren Tees is the exclusive provider of Wheel of Time® apparel officially licensed by The Bandersnatch Group, Inc. Located at, Ta’veren Tees is the first and only to sell T-shirts dedicated to the characters, themes, imagery and sayings found throughout Robert Jordan’s epic series.

The initial store opening features six designs; two for women, two for men and two unisex. More shirts will be rolled out and added to the inventory over the coming months, but don’t be fooled by the site name—shirts won’t skew only towards the series’ three famous ta’veren. Whether you’d like to throw a spear with the Maidens or secretly call yourself a darkfriend, you will find something to wear on

“With the first designs, we want to make sure we address the wants and needs of both male and female Wheel of Time® fans. We think that fans will be very happy with the first six shirts and the ones we will release in the near future,” said Jeffrey Daniel, co-owner of Ta’veren Tees.

“It is important to us to take the Wheel of Time® world that Robert Jordan beautifully created and show our admiration for the series that we all love,” said Sophie Decaudin, Ta’veren Tees co-owner. “This is something that hasn’t been done before, there was a need for it, and we are excited to meet that need head on.”

By creating these shirts, Daniel, Decaudin and Co-owner Kiley Kellermeyer hope to provide yet another avenue for WoT fans to express the love and devotion they feel towards the amazing world and spell-binding characters Jordan created.

“These designs are not only colorful, but reflect the themes and characters in the Wheel of Time® books,” said Harriet Rigney, editor of the series and widow of James Rigney, the author. “They may not be able to stop cold steel, but they are extremely fashionable.”

“We also salute Jeffrey, Kiley and Sophie for the design and layout of the Ta’veren Tees website,” she continued. “It’s a clean, uncluttered format that’s easy to navigate and I’m sure the fans of the books will enjoy visiting often.”

“Sometimes playful, often insightful, Ta’veren Tees are a welcomed addition to the line of products officially licensed by The Bandersnatch Group,” she concluded.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Updates & Tweets

This week's Writing Excuses podcast episode covers e-publishing. This one was recorded at Life, the Universe & Everything, and Tracy Hickman and Dave Wolverton/Farland join Howard and Dan. I was at ConDFW that weekend.

There's a new Twitter posts collection up, covering the first half of this month. And the newest WARBREAKER annotation covers Vivenna learning from Vasher, among other things such as why I developed the Awakening magic system.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Suvudu Cage Matches

I blogged briefly yesterday about the Suvudu cage matches. I thought I’d dig into it a little further today, as I consider Monday updates (normally) to be more “Here’s what’s going on” updates. I prefer to move more in-depth posts to other days.

So, the Suvudu cage match. First off, I’d like to say that I’m impressed by the improvements made to the format this year. For one thing, the editors made a conscious effort to even out the power level of the combatants. That goes a long way toward making the matchups more interesting, I think—no longer do we have to suspend disbelief to epic proportions in order to pretend that Jaime Lannister would somehow ever NEED to fight Cthulhu, and somehow find a way to win.

There are still some things to gripe about here, as there is still great power-level variety in the matchups. All things considered, this is a good group to battle it out, but do Gollum and Tasslehoff REALLY belong in this? I don’t think they match the others. And what about Pug, Allanon, and Zedd? Three full-blown, deeply trained wizards amid a bunch of melee fighters? Fantasy novels aren’t D&D. (Well, hopefully most of them aren’t.) There’s no reason to force power balance between the arcane and the non-arcane. But anyway, at least there aren’t any Elder Gods running around.

So, what are my thoughts? Basically, thinking of it rationally, Pug and company should end up dominating. Maybe Beowulf too. I mean, really. Beowulf is the proto-hero that almost all of the rest are (tangentially) based upon; the guy was practically indestructible. The others are arguably demi-dieties, and would be better off playing hardball with people like Rand and Gandalf than ending up fighting people like Tally or Druss. (Who, don’t get me wrong, are both totally awesome—but they’re going to have trouble with people who can teleport, call down the powers of the elements, and all-around warp the fabric of reality.)

Questions like these make it a little hard for me to figure out just what’s going on here. Is it just supposed to be a popularity contest? If so, Jacob Black wins and we can all go home. (Sorry, but it’s true.) If it’s not supposed to be a popularity contest, and we’re supposed to consider each pairing realistically, why don’t we have more information on the matches? How far apart do the combatants start? It’s a "cage match" by Suvudu’s title, but are they really fighting in a standard-issue wrestling cage? I mean, come ON, guys. We’re nerds here. We can’t make subjective judgments about fictional characters completely outside of canon if you don’t at LEAST tell us how the fights are set up.

Do people with followers get to bring some along? What about Perrin—one of his basic powers is calling on wolves for help. So can we assume he’s got a pack of them with him? Do the sf characters have guns? Can Vin assume everyone she’ll fight will have metal on them, or can we assume they will each know the person they’re fighting and be able to prepare?

Okay, yes, I’m overthinking this. But don’t tell me you weren’t too. Anyway, here’s my input on the two matches I’ve got some responsibility for:

Perrin against Tasslehoff. Really. We’re doing this? Okay, well, here’s what we’ve got. Perrin is an extremely skilled fighter whose very nature (being ta’veren) causes probability to warp around him and bring to him the things and people he needs at the moments he needs them. He has a power-forged hammer, the allegiance of tens of thousands of trained soldiers, and the ability to call upon hundreds of wolves if he really needed to. He is a berserker on the battlefield, and has the power to move in the world of dreams, where he has near-absolute control of his surroundings. He is guarded by Aiel warriors and two powerful Asha’man who can wield the One Power that made Rand such a force in the previous tournament.

Tasslehoff has a stick that throws rocks.

Okay, I’m underplaying it. Tas is a clever, brave little guy. (Actually, I think he may be immune to fear or something.) He’s prone to have a few tricks up his sleeves, magic items stolen here or there. But he’s also got a childlike view of the world, and has nowhere near the ruthlessness that Perrin has been forced by fate to learn. Tas can’t win this fight. I declare that this battle plays out like so: Tas defaults on his match by not showing up. He’s off picking Jon Snow’s pockets. Perrin wins. (And Wheel of Time fans, don’t prove me wrong. We’ll never live it down if Perrin loses to Tasslehoff.)

As for Vin and Logen Ninefingers, this is a far more even battle. To put the duel on better footing, I’m going to say that this is Vin before certain events toward the end of MISTBORN 3 that would make the fight wildly unfair. Also, I’m going to remove atium (which would let her see the future and win any battle she wants) from her repertoire for now. (If she has to fight Zedd, all bets are off.)

So, she’s a very, very talented Mistborn, capable of greatly increased strength, greatly increased speed, near-infinite endurance, supernatural sensory abilities, the capacity to change a person’s emotions at will, virtual immunity to metal weapons, the power to kill at range with coins shot at high speeds with expert precision, the ability to ignore many wounds and heal at an accelerated rate, and telekinetic powers that allow her to vault long distances and remain in the air when needed.

Okay, so maybe it’s not much of a fair fight. (This is what I was talking about.) Logen is a toughened warrior, very careful, but also capable of turning into a crazed berserker who doesn’t feel pain. But that’s not enough to face Vin. She’s out of his league. This fight goes on for a while, but he can’t get to Vin, who hovers outside of his range and flings back any weapons or arrows he uses against her. She pelts him with coins, then takes his head off with a six-foot-long koloss sword.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Reader Polls + Updates

There have been a couple of reader polls lately that my books did well in. SFFWorld polled its forum members for readers' favorite books of 2010, and THE WAY OF KINGS came out on top, with TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT in second. In addition, held a poll to determine the best science fiction and fantasy novels of the decade, and MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE came in at #9. They've since posted an appreciation of the novel by Jason Denzel from Dragonmount. TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT at #11, THE WAY OF KINGS at #12, and THE GATHERING STORM at #15 also contributed toward me managing to accrue the most votes of any author, spread among seven books. It's a surprise and quite an honor. I'm glad so many people are reading and enjoying the books.

Another poll that's currently ongoing is the Locus Poll and Survey. (Locus is the newsmagazine of the science fiction and fantasy field, and is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to keep up with the industry.) You don't have to be a subscriber to fill out the survey and vote in the poll, but subscribers' votes count double. None of my books are listed as nominees, but they accept write-in votes.

Voting on the long list of nominees for the David Gemmell Legend Award is finishing up at the end of the month, and THE WAY OF KINGS and TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT are both on the list. If you haven't voted yet, give the full list of nominees a look. (Multiple votes don't count.)

Suvudu is doing yet another cage match where they pit characters from different series against each other and have them fight (usually to the death). This year both Perrin Aybara and Vin are in the pool of contestants. The writeups Suvudu does for these battles can be interesting, and often don't align with how the readers vote. Anyway, if you're interested in this sort of thing, take a look at the bracket.

In this week's Writing Excuses episode, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and I are once again joined by Sherrilyn Kenyon. We discuss perseverance—sticking in there in your writing career. Sherri has some great examples from her own experience, so check it out.

The newest WARBREAKER annotation covers the shortest chapter in the book. I considered making this the longest annotation, but decided against it. It's still much longer than the chapter itself.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


First some updates. This week's Writing Excuses podcast episode features Sherrilyn Kenyon talking about how to make your readers fear for your characters. The newest WARBREAKER annotation is on a climactic moment in the Siri/Susebron relationship. And there's a new batch of Twitter posts up, covering the past month.

Review of THE WISE MAN'S FEAR by Patrick Rothfuss

In case you haven’t heard, today is the release day of the long-awaited sequel to The Name of the Wind, a delightful debut fantasy novel by Patrick Rothfuss. I’ve had the privilege of reading the book, so I thought I’d post a heads-up here for those of you who read my blog, along with a review. (Of sorts.) Also, a reminder, I did an interview with Pat (and he kind of interviewed me back) for Amazon. You can read it at this link.


All right, so the review of Wise Man’s Fear will focus on one question: Is it as good as the first?

The answer is . . . yes, and I feel that it’s quite a bit better. (That is saying a lot.)

There's the review. I figure that those of you reading this blog will either:

  1. Have read Name of the Wind and liked it, so that review should be more than enough for you.
  2. Have read Name of the Wind and didn’t like it. If so, I respect your opinion, even though you’re obviously a crazy person.
  3. Haven’t yet read Name of the Wind, so giving you an extensive review of the second book would really just be a big confusing spoiler.


This is a very, very good book. If you liked the first, might I suggest that you go out and purchase yourself a copy this week? Pat may not mention it himself, but first-week sales are very helpful in giving a book good momentum. It will determine how long the book stays on shelves, how good its placement is in weeks to come, and how aggressively the sequel will be ordered by bookstores.

As I always state for my own books, if you’re not a hardcover buyer, don’t feel guilty not going out to get it—as authors, we like you to consume books as you prefer to consume them. Library, hardcover, ebook, paperback . . . your call. However, if you ARE intending to read Wise Man's Fear in hardcover, buying it early rather than late is always a nice sign for the author. Also, I’ve got a selfish reason for wanting Pat to sell well. I’d very much like to have a nice, friendly rivalry going with the chap. The Way of Kings hit #7 on the New York Times list. If Pat can hit in the top five with this book, it will give me something to shoot for.

(Honestly, I’m hoping he hits #1. It’s well within the realm of possibility for this book, and he deserves it. It will help the entire genre if this book sells well, as it will prove that big epic fantasy books by newer authors are still viable, and will also prove that excellence will be rewarded by the readership.)


Okay, so, I’m off on a tangent again. Let’s bring this back into focus. I’m going to assume that some of you haven’t read Name of the Wind yet. I often suggest it to people; it’s become—alongside Tigana, Eye of the World, and Dragonsbane—one of my top recommendations for fantasy readers. Often, however, people ask why they should read the book. Why do I recommend it?

Because it’s awesome.

Why is it awesome?

This often stops me. Why IS Pat’s writing awesome?

Well, the books have an absolutely wonderful magic system. One part science, one part historical pseudoscience, one part magical wonder. It’s the type of magic system that I’m always delighted to read, and ranks among my favorites in fantasy literature. But that alone doesn’t describe why the books are awesome.

In many ways, Name of the Wind is like an old, familiar coat. A young man orphaned at a young age. Time spent on the streets living as a thief and a street rat. A wizards’ school. Those who have not liked the book have often complained about the familiar tropes. What I love about how Pat uses these tropes, however, is the realism he strives to impart.

I view this story like a Batman Begins-type realism reboot of many classic fantasy tropes. We get to hear the legends of Kvothe, then read the truth, and make the connections of how things spiraled from realistic to fantastic. The way Pat does this is genius. In some places, you can barely pick out the tropes he is using—after one sequence in Wise Man’s Fear, I found myself laughing uproariously as I realized the mythological foundation for the sequence. There are familiar tropes, but they're taken and made so new and fresh that you have to peer through several layers of silk to see them for what they are. In other cases, there is delightful originality.

Those things, however, also fail to describe why the books are awesome.

Kvothe is a very compelling hero, very classical in that he’s widely accomplished yet marred by a single dominating flaw. (In this case, his temper.) He is witty, charming, and so wonderfully capable that he’s a delight to read about. (Particularly following much of the current fiction I’ve read, which seems to take the utmost pains to make certain I don’t like anyone I’m reading about.) He’s noble, yet brash, and is clever, but inexperienced. (Which makes him dense on occasion.) He lives.

But even that is not what truly makes these books awesome.

In the end, I think that if I distill why I’ve loved these books so much more than others, it’s because of this: They’re beautiful. Wise Man’s Fear is a BEAUTIFUL book to read. Masterful prose, a sense of cohesion to the storytelling, a wonderful sense of pacing . . . None of that is the reason for the awesomeness any more than a single dab of paint is the reason why a Monet is a thing of wonder. But if you step back to look and digest the piece as a whole—not thinking too much about the parts—you are left with a sense of awe.

There is a beauty to Pat’s writing that defies description. Perhaps if Kvothe were here, he could write an appropriate song that would capture it.


p.s. As this is of note to many of those in my audience, I feel that I should mention that this book contains a fair bit more sex than the previous volume did. Pat avoids graphic details, but there are events in the latter half of the book that some readers may find discomforting.