Audio-book review: The Runes of the Earth read by Anton Lesser

Synopsis
In 1977, Stephen Donaldson changed the face of epic fantasy with the publication of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. Thomas Covenant is struck down with a disease believed eradicated; he is abandoned by his wife and son and becomes a pariah. Alone and despairing, Covenant falls, and is drawn into a mysterious new world, where gentle people work magic and the earth itself brings healing. He is welcomed as the reincarnation of a legendary saviour, but Covenant refuses to believe. At the end of the sixth book, as Covenant battles to save the world, he is killed, in both worlds, as Dr. Linden Avery, his horrified companion, looks on.

It’s 10 years later, and Linden Avery thought she would never see the Land, or Covenant, again. But Lord Foul has stolen her adopted son, and is unmaking the very laws of nature. And though she believes Covenant dead, he keeps sending Linden messages: "Find me", and "Don’t trust me". The Land is in turmoil, and Lord Foul has plans for them all.

Review
This audio-book proved to be tough-going. Reading the original books was also tough-going but they had the redemptive quality of being ultimately highly rewarding. I am afraid The Runes of the Earth is simply tough-going.

If pushed to name the one thing that I found most annoying about this audio-book I would have to go with the overly dramatic moments that plagued it. You could almost visualise an exclamation mark ever paragraph – Foul, you bastard! How could he! The Land is dying! I’ve forgotten to brush my teeth! etc… etc…

Added to this, Linden Avery cuts a rather unsympathetic and annoying lead, and Anele is a nerve-grating addition to the cast.

Anton Lesser struggles manfully, his stock narrative voice excellent but his portrayal of individual characters not quite as strong. I’m afraid that this audio-book and The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are just not for me, which is a shame considering that the original six books are works that I will always remember fondly.

There is, however, an excellent and fascinating interview with Stephen Donaldson after the reading has finished.

We Rate It5-stars

About the author and narrator
Stephen R. Donaldson came to prominence in 1977 with the The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, a story that centred around a leper shunned by society and his trials and tribulations as his destiny unfolds. These books established Stephen Donaldson as one of the most important figures in modern fantasy fiction.

British actor Anton Lesser has played many of the principal Shakespearian roles for the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Petruchio, Romeo and Richard III. He is also very active in radio and spoken word audio and is particularly known for the major novels of Charles Dickens, with Great Expectations winning the Talkie Award.

The Tombs of Atuan (unabridged) read by Karen Archer

the-tombs-of-atuan Synopsis
In the legends of Earthsea, it is said that the wizard and king Erreth-Akbe was defeated by the high priest of the Kargad lands, and his amulet of power, bearing the rune of bonding, was broken and was lost.

Now, in the second book of Earthsea, the wizard Sparrowhawk enters the menacing labyrinth of the Tombs of Atuan to regain the amulet, and restore the rune which will bring peace to all of the islands of Earthsea.

Yet the labyrinth has a guardian, a young princess called Arha, whose life is dedicated to the the dark spirits who inhabit the tombs. She is determined that Sparrowhawk will meet the fate the befell Erreth-Akbe long ago.

Review
The Tombs of Atuan follows on from A Wizard of Earthsea but there is a distinctly different feel to the story. Featuring a predominantly female cast and set mainly in the location of the Tombs it is a departure from its predecessor. Those expecting simply more of Sparrowhawk and his voyages will be in for a surprise. Ursula Le Guin again shows the power of names introduced in A Wizard of Earthsea, and the themes of light and shadow, good and evil are again evident. It is a courageous and compelling sequel.

Karen Archer’s narration is first-rate and her pacing and delivery are once again perfect.

About the reader
To all of her performances, Karen Archer brings a seamless fluidity and humanity combined with precision  and attention to detail. These qualities have made her a familiar voice in the many documentaries she has recorded for National Geographic and Discovery Channel. Karen has made numerous broadcasts for BBC Radio, twice being a member of BBC Radio Drama Company. Her work in the theatre includes classics such as Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts and contemporary roles such as Annie Wilkes in an adaptation of Steven King’s novel Misery. Her extensive  television work has included Assistant Chief Constable Anne Stewart in the police drama series The Chief and Queen Elizabeth I in David Starkey’s acclaimed historical series, Elizabeth.

Karen has read a biography of Queen Elizabeth I for Naxos Audio Books. For Craftsman, she has also recorded the complete Snow-Walker trilogy by renowned fantasy author Catherine Fisher and the critically-acclaimed recording of Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. Karen says of its sequel, The Tombs of Atuan:

“Ursula Le Guin’s evocation of atmosphere and place is quite breathtaking. But it is her overriding belief in the enduring goodness of one human spirit in the face of evil that is at the core of this book, connecting Earthsea to the here-and-now.’’

About the author
Ursula K. Le Guin was born Ursula Kroeber in 1929 in Berkeley, California. Her mother was a writer and her father an anthropologist. Her childhood was spent in a household filled with talk, argument and discussion surrounded by books, music and story-telling. As the only daughter in her family, the absence of her 3 elder brothers during World War Two made the summers at home lonely ones. Yet she considers those long days as a teenager, wandering the hills, of great importance: ‘I think I started making my soul then’ Ursula says. With a love of languages, she studied French and Italian literature at Radcliffe College. In 1953, in Paris, she married the historian Charles A. Le Guin. A very private person, Ursula Le Guin has three children, three grandchildren and lives in Portland, Oregon.

She has published six books of poetry, twenty novels, over a hundred short stories, four collections of essays, eleven books for children, and four volumes of translation and says of the work of authorship: “Writing is my craft. I honour it deeply. To have a craft, to be able to work at it, is to be honoured by it.”

The books in the Earthsea cycle were first published to great acclaim in 1968 with A Wizard of Earthsea. Millions of copies have subsequently been sold and the books have been translated into 16 languages. Ursula says:

“Exploring the Archipelago, discovering the rules of magic and what happens when you break them, the things I learned in Earthsea and the people I met there – that’s been a great part of my life for nearly forty years. And a great part of the joy of it is knowing that I share it with my readers.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, read by Simon Prebble

jonathan-strange-mr-norrell-audiobookThe following is a review of the audio-book edition of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, narrated by Simon Prebble and first released in December 2004.

English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr. Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England’s magical past and regained some of the powers of England’s magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.

All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative, the very opposite of Mr. Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington’s army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr. Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different…

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is arguably one of the finest fantasy books ever written. This audio telling of Susanna Clarke’s book is undeniably the best that I have listened to so far.

It is a BIG book. It requires a good thirty-two hours of listening and, like the book itself, requires commitment. Those who do commit will be amply rewarded with a story that is performed by the admirable Mr Simon Prebble. As the narrative moves from Yorkshire to London, from France to Venice, Prebble seamlessly adopts authentic accents for both the male and female characters. No bigger compliment can be paid other than saying that the recording sounds like it has been performed by a cast of unique performers. Norrell’s timidity; Strange’s arrogance; the man with thistle-down hair’s inherent malicious mischief; Lady Pole’s indifference; Drawlight’s sycophancy; Lacell’s mean spiritedness – all these character traits are brought to life by the narrator’s voice.

This audiobook adaptation of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was shortlisted for Audible’s Listen of the Year, 2006 and has been one of the top ten downloaded fantasy since its release.

We spoke to Simon Prebble regarding the recording of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell:

Fantasy Book Review: The total reading of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is over 32 hours. How daunting is it to work on a project of this size, containing so many different characters and featuring such extensive footnotes?

Simon Prebble: Don’t remind me! At an average ratio of two hours in the studio for each hour recorded it was a long concentrated time behind the microphone… so the key to narrating such a massive book is prepping and pacing. Your initial reading of the book is preparation, in order to get the overall shape and mood, to map the plot, and especially to find the voices of the characters. To do that, like a lot of narrators, I visualise them (often using various character actors from the TV or the movies) to give me a mental cue when reading. Unlike a lot of narrators, I rarely mark up my scripts, but when recording ‘Strange and Norrell’ there were so many characters that to avoid getting lost I had to make notes… but not footnotes! This incidentally was an area that I had strong feelings about. I believe that the numerous footnotes in the book should have been read either on a separate track on the CD or at least at the end of the sentence in which they appeared… not in the middle of the sentence. With some of those faux footnotes over several pages long it seemed absurd to me to go back to the sentence from which they sprang. My producer disagreed. I feel somewhat vindicated however since several reviewers remarked on the odd method. With regards to pacing… when you are recording day after day, eight hours at a stretch, you need to physically as well as mentally pace yourself, so there is a consistency of energy, and comprehension, and especially characterisation.”

“Notwithstanding our ‘creative differences’ on the footnotes, my producer was a godsend on this project. He may have held the reins, so to speak, but he let me ride with it. We had a mutual trust that was essential in such a large project, and I remember saying to him very early on in the recording that this book and the recording was something quite unique. It certainly seems to have turned out that way… even though Susanna Clarke says that, when writing it, she heard a woman’s voice! However, from what I can gather from her website she was quite happy with my interpretation.”

This is one of – if not – the best fantasy audio-book available – highly recommended.

9.7/10

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (unabridged) by Susanna Clarke
Narrated by Simon Prebble
Length: 32 hours, 36 minutes
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Jonathan Stroud’s The Amulet of Samarkand read by Steven Pacey

The Amulet of Samarkand audio-book cover.I had not previously come across the name of Steven Pacey but now, after listening to him read Jonathan Stroud’s The Amulet of Samarkand, he has now been added to my list of favourite narrators, alongside Frank Muller, Roy Dotrice, Simon Prebble, Sean Barrett and George Guidall.

Pacey narrates the first book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy with perfect pace, using an assortment of excellent and appropriate accents. But most importantly of all he manages to replicate the delightful sense of humour – which is a Stroud trademark – into the narrative.

Pacey does of course have the perfect material on which to use his skills. When the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus is summoned by Nathaniel, a young magician’s apprentice, he expects to have to do nothing more taxing than a little levitation or a few simple illusions. But Nathaniel is a precocious talent and has something rather more dangerous in mind: revenge. Against his will, Bartimaeus is packed off to steal the powerful Amulet of Samarkand from Simon Lovelace, a master magician of unrivalled ruthlessness and ambition. Before long, both djinni and apprentice are caught up in a terrifying flood of magical intrigue, murder and rebellion. The Amulet of Samarkand is an absorbing tale of magicians and demons, a Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell for the younger reader.

This is one of the very best fantasy audio-books. The book was written by a highly skilled author and now read by a highly skilled actor. Bartimaeus is one of the finest additions to the fantasy genre in recent years and Pacey’s portrayal of the irascible djinni is perfect. This audio-book is very highly recommended, one of the very best.

9/10

The Amulet of Samarkand (abridged) by Jonathan Stroud
Narrated by Steven Pacey
Length: 9 hours, 33 minutes
Publisher: Random House AudioBooks

The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick, read by Derek Jacobi

Rating 9.0/10

A timeless tale told by an ageless actor.

Buy Now!

The Book of Dead Days audio-book coverThe days between 27 December and New Year’s Eve are dead days – days when spirits roam and magic shifts restlessly just beneath the surface of our everyday lives. There is a man, Valerian, whose time is running out, who must pay the price for the pact he made with evil so many years ago. His servant is Boy, a child with no name and no past; a child he treats with contempt, but who serves his master well and finds solace in the company of his only friend, Willow. Unknown to any of them, it is Boy who holds the key to their destiny.

Set in dark threatening cities and the frozen countryside in a distant time and place of the author’s making, ‘The Book of Dead Days’ conjures a spell-binding story of sorcery and desperate magic as Valerian, Boy and Willow battle to stop time and cling to life. Beautifully evoked, dramatic and emotionally powerful.

Derek Jacobi is wonderful narrator and already well-known in fantasy circles for his wonderful readings of JRR Tolkien‘s Farmer Giles of Ham, CS Lewis‘s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Kenneth Grahame‘s The Wind in the Willows to name but three.

In Marcus Sedgwick’s marvelously dark and atmospheric tale he has a story worthy of his talents. The major strength of this recording is in the way that Jacobi manages to bring this enduring tale to life – the sinister old European city setting is terrifically realistic and the magnificent characters make this an enchanting audio experience. You can almost smell the open sewers of the city.

From a book that is skilfully written comes an audio-book that is expertly read. The Book of Dead Days audio-book is a real must for those looking for a timeless tale told by an ageless actor.

Marcus Sedgwick was born in Kent in 1968 and is an acclaimed children’s author and illustrator.

Sedgwick is renowned for the dark-themes that he incorporates into his young-adult novels. His first book Floodland was published in 2000, winning the Branford Boase Book Award for best debut children’s novel.

“I remember consciously thinking before I wrote it that the city was going to be a character, a gift for the gothic. It’s really beautiful, but rotting to pieces at the same time. The 18th century was when it was considered at its most beautiful but also at its most debauched.” Marcus Sedgwick: Venice and The Kiss of Death.

Sir Derek George Jacobi CBE is an English actor and film director, knighted in 1994 for his services to theatre. Like Laurence Olivier, he bears the distinction of holding two knighthoods, Danish and British. He is regarded to have one of the most outstanding speaking voices ever, with studied tonality and an exceptional elocution in drama.

Watership Down (abridged) read by Roy Dotrice

Rating 9.2/10

Richard Adams’s wonderful book is told by an audio-book reader of sublime skill.

Buy Now!

Image: Watership Down audio-book cover Hazel, Bigwig, Fiver and a band of selected rabbits leave their threatened warren and set out on an epic and dangerous journey in this classic animal story.

Playing time: 2 hours 57 minutes

Richard Adams’s wonderful book is told by an audio-book reader of sublime skill. Roy Dotrice portrays each and every rabbit with a voice that suits perfectly and enhances, rather than diminishes, the enjoyment already attained from the written word.

Roy Dotrice is a distinguished English actor who won many awards for his one-man show Brief Lives and enjoyed recent success as Charles Dickens in the TV series Dickens of London.

Richard Adams worked as a civil servant before his remarkable ability to convey the spirit of the animal world in bestsellers such as Watership Down, Shardik and the The Plague Dogs made him a household name.

Why are fantasy films and books so popular?

Fantasy films and books are stories that often involve adventures, battles or journeys usually in a made up, fictional and supernatural world. This lends itself to the creation of mythical and fascinating creatures, characters with unusual abilities and interesting discoveries and challenges along the way. The only limit to a fantasy book or film is imagination as everything is possible within the fantasy genre.

The reason that fantasy is so popular for both adults and children alike is that they offer escapism from work or school into a different realm. If you’re reading about elves or magic then the worries of business, homework or housework are forgotten and everyone can let their imagination run wild. This is probably the reason that fantasy is such a broad category and unites almost everyone, from the elderly to those just starting to read, or to take an interest in films.

Some of the most popular films and books in the fantasy genre include:

  • Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. This popular trilogy focuses on one hobbit’s (a fictional character) journey into the evil realm of Mordor to throw a powerful and dark ring into a volcano and destroy it. On his journey he meets many fantastical creatures such as elves, talking trees, wizards, dwarves and orcs. Peter Jackson’s film trilogy of the books has also allowed younger people, or those who are not keen readers, to experience Tolkien’s epic style.
  • His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. The stories begin with Lyra, a girl from Oxford, but then move away into the realm of fantasy as every person has a daemon, which is their soul portrayed in animal form which accompanies them. Lyra’s adventures with armoured bears and flying witches litter the first book with fantastical imagination and the second and third books in the trilogy fail to disappoint.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. C.S.Lewis’ series of seven books has long been respected as one of the top series in the fantasy genre. The books are mostly set in the magical world of Narnia, where the characters encounter fawns, magic, Aslan the lion, and mystical and intriguing characters and settings.
  • Harry Potter by JK Rowling. This is one of the most modern series of fantasy books and needs little introduction. Harry Potter discovers he’s a wizard and is sent to Hogwarts school to train to be a wizard and channel his magic. His battle with the Dark Lord continues throughout the seven books, meeting endearing and frightening characters that enchant the reader’s imagination.
  • Shannara by Terry Brooks. This is a series of epic fantasy set on Earth long after civilisation has been destroyed. It focuses on magic, elves and faerie and epitomises the fantasy genre.

Fantasy books are often memorable to children and adults, who want to read and reread their favourite stories. Book scanning is a service that allows people to upload their books on to the computer and could save space in homes and safely preserve the classic fantasy stories.

A Wizard Of Earthsea (unabridged) read by Karen Archer

Rating 9.3/10

The pacing and delivery of Karen Archer is exemplary.

Buy Now!

A Wizard of Earthsea audio-book He was born on the island of Gont, a land famous for pirates, goatherds and… wizards. The boy Ged begins an epic journey that takes him to Roke, the Isle of the Wise, where the skills of wizardry are learnt. There, in pride and anger, he summons a dark and malevolent spirit that sorcery cannot conquer. Pursued by this menace, Ged must flee across the oceans and islands of Earthsea, searching for a means to defeat it.

One of the great landmarks of fantasy, Ursula Le Guin’s novel set the benchmark for all future writers.

Review
This is audio-book perfection; the pacing and delivery of Karen Archer is exemplary. The voices that she conjures for all all the individual characters are impressively unique and her attention to detail shines throughout this production. Craftsman and Archer are of course fortunate to have a book of the quality of Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea to work with but they do it full justice. The tracks on the recording are split into segments of 2-3 minutes and this allows the listener to easily find where they left off and the music, by the Renaissance Players accompanies the story well but without being intrusive.

I cannot fault this recording in any way; all punctuation is correctly observed and there is nothing not up to scratch. This audio-book is ideal for those wanting to escape to a land of sea, wizards and dragons; a thought-provoking tale of dangerous pride and acceptance – this audio-book sits comfortably next to its printed twin on the classics shelf.

This audio-book is available from the main sources: Amazon and Play.com but also from specialists like London’s Talking Bookshop in Baker Street.

Karen Archer To all of her performances, Karen Archer brings a seamless fluidity and humanity combined with precision and attention to detail. These qualities have made her a familiar voice in the many documentaries she has recorded for National Geographic and Discovery Channel. Karen has made numerous broadcasts for BBC Radio, twice being a member of BBC Radio Drama Company. Her work in the theatre includes classics such as Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts and contemporary roles such as Annie Wilkes in an adaptation of Steven King’s novel Misery. Her extensive television work has included Assistant Chief Constable Anne Stewart in the police drama series The Chief and Queen Elizabeth I in David Starkey’s acclaimed historical series, Elizabeth. Karen has read a biography of Queen Elizabeth I for Naxos Audio Books. For Craftsman, she has also recorded the complete Snow-Walker trilogy by renowned fantasy author Catherine Fisher. Karen says of A Wizard of Earthsea: “The tremendous reputation of this book preceded it. It was a wonderful challenge for an actor and I was delighted to be part of this new British unabridged recording.”

Ursula Le Guin Ursula Le Guin was born Ursula Kroeber in 1929 in Berkeley, California. Her mother was a writer and her father an anthropologist. Her childhood was spent in a household filled with talk, argument and discussion surrounded by books, music and story-telling. As the only daughter in her family, the absence of her 3 elder brothers during World War Two made the summers at home lonely ones. Yet she considers those long days as a teenager, wandering the hills, of great importance: ‘I think I started making my soul then’ Ursula says. With a love of languages, she studied French and Italian literature at Radcliffe College. In 1953, in Paris, she married the historian Charles A. Le Guin. A very private person, Ursula Le Guin has three children, three grandchildren and lives in Portland, Oregon. She has published six books of poetry, twenty novels, over a hundred short stories, four collections of essays, eleven books for children, and four volumes of translation and says of the work of authorship: “Writing is my craft. I honour it deeply. To have a craft, to be able to work at it, is to be honoured by it.”

A Wizard of Earthsea, the first book of the Earthsea cycle, was first published to great acclaim in 1968. Millions of copies have subsequently been sold and the Earthsea books have been translated into 16 languages. Ursula says: “Exploring the Archipelago, discovering the rules of magic and what happens when you break them, the things I learned in Earthsea and the people I met there – that’s been a great part of my life for nearly forty years. And a great part of the joy of it is knowing that I share it with my readers.”
© Marian Wood Kolisch

Gardens of the Moon – GLOSSARY

Titles and Groups

First Sword of Empire: Malazan and T’lan Imass, a title denoting an Imperial champion
Fist: a military governer in the Malazan Empire
High Fist: a commander of armies in the Malazan Campaign
Kron T’lan Imass: the name of the clans under the command of Kron
Logros T’lan Imass: the name of the clans under the command of Logros
The Bridgeburners: a legendary elite division in the Malaz 2nd Army
The Crimson Guard: a famous mercenary company commanded by a deposed prince
The Pannion Seer: a mysterious prophet ruling the lands south of Darujhistan
The Warlord: the name for Caladan Brood
The Claw: the covert organization of the Malazan Empire

Peoples (human and non-human)

Barghast (non-human): pastoral nomadic warrior society
Daru: cultural group sharing citizenry in cities in northern Grenabackis
Gadrobi: indigenous cultural group in central Genabackis
Genabarii: cultural group (and language) in north-west Genabackis
Forkrul Assail (non-human): extinct mythical people (one of the Four Founding Races)
Jaghut (non-human): extinct mythical people (one of the Four Founding Races)
K’Chain Che’Malle (non-human): extinct mythical people (one of the Four Founding Races)
Moranth (non-human): highly regimented civilization centred in Cloud Forest
Rhivi: pastoral nomadic society in central plains of Genabackis
T’lan Imass: one of the Four Founding Races, now immortal
Tiste Andii (non-human): an Elder Race
Trell (non-human): pastoral nomadic warrior society in transition to sedentarianism

Ascendants

Apsalar, Lady of Thieves
Beru, Lord of Storms
Burn, Lady of the Earth, the Sleeping Goddess
Caladan Brood, the Warlord
Cotillion/The Rope (the Assassin of High House Shadow)
Dessembrae, Lord of Tragedy
D’rek, the worm of Autumn (somtimes the Queen of Disease, see Poliel)
Fanderay, She-Wolf of Winter
Fener, the Boar (see also Tennerock)
Gedderone, Lady of Spring and Rebirth
Great Ravens, ravens sustained by magic
Hood (King of High House Death)
Jhess, Queen of Weaving
Kallor, the High King
K’rul, Elder God
Mowri, Lady of Beggars, Slaves and Serfs
Nerruse, Lady of Calm Seas and Fair Wind
Oponn, Twin Jesters of Chance
Osserc, Lord of the Sku
Poliel, Mistress of Pestilence
Queen of Dreams (Queen of High House Life)
Shadowthrone/Ammanas (King of High House Shadow)
Shedenul/Soliel, Lady of Health
Soliel, Mistress of Healing
Tennerock/Fenner, the Boar of Five Tusks
The Crippled God, King of Chains
The Hounds (of High House Shadow)
Togg (see Fanderay), the Wolf of Winter
Trake/Treach, the Tiger of Summer and Battle
Son of Darkness/Moon’s Lord/Anomander Rake (Knight of High House Dark)
Treach, First Hero

The World of Sorcery

The Warrens (the Paths – those Warrens accessible to humans)

Denul: the Path of Healing
D’riss: the Path of Stone
Hood’s Path: the Path of Death
Meanas: the Path of Shadow and Illusion
Ruse: the Path of the Sea
Rashan: the Path of Darkness
Serc: the Path of the Sky
Tennes: the Path of the Land
Thyr: the Path of Light

The Elder Warrens

Kurald Galain: the Tiste Andii Warren of Darkness
Tellann: the T”lan Imass Warren
Omtose Phellack: the Jaghut Warren
Starvald Demelain: the Tiam Warren, the First Warren

The Deck of Dragons – The Fatid (and associated Ascendants)

High House Life
King
Queen (Queen of Dreams)
Champion
Priest
Herald
Soldier
Weaver
Mason
Virgin

High House Death
King (Hood)
Queen
Knight (once Dassem Ultor)
Magi
Herald
Soldier
Spinner
Mason
Virgin

High House Light
King
Queen
Champion
Priest
Captain
Soldier
Seamstress
Builder
Maiden

High House Dark
King
Queen
Knight (Son of Darkness)
Magi
Captain
Soldier
Weaver
Mason
Wife

High House Shadow
King (Shadowthrone/Ammanas)
Queen
Assassin (the Rope/Cotillion)
Magi
Hound

Unaligned
Oponn (the Jesters of Chance)
Obilisk (Burn)
Crown
Sceptre
Orb
Throne

Bonecaster: a shaman of the T’lan Imass
Chance: a sword dedicated to Oponn
D’ivers: a higher order of shape-shifting
Dragnipur: a sword used by Anomander Rake
Finnest: an object used as a repository of power by a Jaghut
Otataral: a magic-negating reddish ore mined from the Tanno Hills, Seven Cities
Soletaken: an order of shape-shifting
The T’orrud Cabal: the Cabal of Darujhistan
The Tyrant Kings: the ancient rulers of Darujhistan
Warrens of Chaos: the miasmic paths between the Warrens

Place Names

Apple: A Genabackan Free City
Blackdog Forest: On the continent of Genabackis, large boreal forest on shield bedrock, site of major battles between the Malazan Empire and the armies of Caladan Brood and the Crimson Guard during the First Campaigns
Cloud Forest: Home of the Moranth, situated on the north-west coast of Genabackis
Darujhistan: Legendary city on Genabackis, largest and most influential of the Free Cities, situated on the south shore of Lake Azur and peopled mainly by Daru and Gadrobi populations; the only known city to use natural gas as an energy source
Dhavran: A city west of Darujhistan
Free Cities: Mercantile alliance of city-states in northern Genabackis, all but one of which has since been conquered by the Malazan Empire
Gadrobi Hills: Hill range east of Darujhistan, sparsely inhabited at present although once the homeland of the Gadrobi people
Garalt: A Genabackan Free City
Genabaris: Large Malazan-held city on north-west coast of Genabackis and principal debarkation point during the campaigns
Gerrom: A small rural town in Itko Kan
Greydog: A Genabackan city
Itko Kan: Province on the continent of Quon Tali, within the Malazan Empire
Kan: The Capital of Itko Kan
Laederon Plateau: Northern tundra of Genabackis
Lest: City-state to the east of Darujhistan
Malaz City: Island city and home of the founding Emporer of the Malazan Empire
Malazan Empire: An empire originating on Malaz Island off the coast of the Quon Tali continent. The original founder was the Emperor Kellanved and his cohort Dancer, both of whom were assassinated by Laseen, the present Empress. The Empire spans Quon Tali, the sub-continent of Falar, Seven Cities, and the coasts of north Genabackis. Additional forays include the continents of Stratem and Korel
Meningalle Ocean: Genabackan name for Seeker’s Deep
Mock’s Hold: A Keep overlooking Malaz City where the Emperor and Dancer were assassinated
Moon’s Spawn: A floating mountain of black basalt inside which is a city, home of the Son of Darkness and the Tiste Andii
Moranth Mountains: The mountain range encircling Cloud Forest
Mott: A Genabackan city
Mouse Quarter: An ill-fated district in Malaz City
Nathilog: Malazan-held city in north-west Genabackis
Nisst: A Genabackan Free City
One Eye Cat: A Genabackan Free City
Pale: Free City on Genabackis, ruled by the Pannion Seer
Porule: A Genabackan Free City
Quon Tali: Home continent of the Malazan Empire
Rhivi Plain: Central plain, north Genabackis
Seeker’s Deep: Malazan name for Meningalle Ocean
Setta: City on eastern coast of Genabackis
Tahlyn Mountains: Mountain range on north side of Lake Azur
Tulips: A Genabackan Free City
Unta: Capital of the Malazan Empire, on Quon Tali

Darujhistan and environs

Despot’s Barbican: an ancient edifice and remnant of the Age of Tyrants
Hinter’s Tower: an abandoned sorceror’s tower in the Noble Ditrict
Jammit’s Worry: the east road
K’rul’s Belfry/Temple: an abandoned temple in the Noble District
Phoenix Inn: a popular haunt in the Daru District
Quip’s Bar: a ramshacke bar in the Lakefront District
The Estates (the Houses)
The Old Palace (Majesty Hall): present site of the Council
Worrytown: the slum outside the wall on Jammit’s Worry

Paolini achieves impressive sales figures

Christopher Paolini’s fantasy novel Brisingr has become the fastest selling children’s book in the UK this year, racking up over 45,000 sales in its first day of release, with similarly spectacular receptions around the world. The book, which details the adventures of dragon rider Eragon and his dragon Saphira as they battle an evil empire, is the third in Brisingr’s Inheritance cycle; the first, Eragon, was written when Paolini, now 24, was just 15 years old.

In the US, where the first print run for the novel was 2.5m – the largest in publisher Random House Children’s Books’ history – first day sales were a whopping 550,000 in hardback, its biggest one-day sale ever and four times that of Eldest, the second novel in the series. In Australia, more than 30,000 copies were sold in 48 hours.

Brisingr was launched Harry Potter-style at midnight on Friday, with more than 1,600 midnight parties at bookshops in the US and 150 bookshops around the UK running launch events and midnight openings. Waterstone’s had already predicted that the book would be the biggest novel of the year, outstripping adult as well as children’s titles and inciting Potter-esque levels of demand from readers.

Although Brisingr’s 45,000 UK first-day sales are a far cry from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ record 2.6m, the sale – equivalent to 80 copies sold a minute – is likely to send Paolini’s book rocketing to the top of the children’s bestseller charts. It also trumps the other children’s blockbuster published this summer, Stephenie Meyer’s teen vampire romance Breaking Dawn, which sold around 20,000 copies in its first day on sale in the UK.

Paolini is currently undertaking a 10-city book tour in the US and Canada. He will be writing a fourth book to conclude the Inheritance cycle, although a publication date has not yet bee revealed.

The first two novels in the series, Eragon and Eldest, have sold more than 15.5m copies worldwide, according to Random House.

Source: Guardian.co.uk