Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hild roundup #17

Hild has now been out over five months. News, reviews, interviews and so are slowing down--at least in the US. But the ebook just came out in the UK and ANZ and other Commonwealth countries--though without publicity because those efforts are waiting til July and the hardback publication. We are, as they say, keeping our powder dry...

As always, I only quote a tiny representative sample from the whole. If it sounds interesting, click through. And if you appreciate the work the reviewer or interviewer has done, please tell them so! People love to know they're being read or listened to.

Also, other roundups are here. (I still haven't got around to properly breaking down and indexing the whole. There's been a lot going on...)


REVIEWS
San Francisco Book Review
"The beauty of the medieval historical novel Hild is that it is a story about a woman who becomes a powerful and inspirational figure…"

As the Moon Climbs
Hild by Nicola Griffith, Valerie Valdes
"Sometimes you take a bite of a treat expecting one flavor, and find yourself savoring something entirely different but nonetheless delicious…"

Geek Girl in love
"Anyone who is interested in the craft of writing should read at least some of this book"

Reflets de mes lectures
"La lectrice de ce dernier est d'ailleurs très agréable. En bref, Hild est un roman de très bonne qualité que je ne peux que conseiller."
[It’s in French, but a Google translation will give you the gist.]

Quoi de neuf sur ma pile?
"Très documenté, "Hild" est aussi très joliment écrit, dans un anglais teinté d’archaïsme qui colle parfaitement au contexte."
[Yep, more French, but this is longer and juicier and, well, Google will have a stab at this, too.]

INTERVIEWS
To the Best of Our Knowledge (Audio)
[To coincide with the premiere of season four of Game of Thrones, a pretty interesting selection of interviews, including Karen Joy Fowler and George R.R. Martin.]

MISCELLANEOUS
Guardian
[I don't disagree with the wider point, which is that we need more diversity, but I don't entirely agree with some of the assertions.]

And finally Joy (who owns Jo Booms, at least for now) reads her six-day old son, Wensleydale, to sleep...
from Facebook


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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Digital tribulations

  • On Saturday, my domain and therefore main email address went down--and remains so.
  • This morning our WiFi network crashed and stubbornly stayed inaccessible for several hours.
  • This afternoon, my AOL account--which I use only for lists--got hacked.
It hasn't been the Most Fun Day Ever.

Fixing AOL was relatively easy. The network was recalcitrant but is now, finally, back up. Nicolagriffith.com, though, is proving to be a serious puzzle. 

It's been down more than 72 hours. Three people are trying to solve it. (Two with considerably more skill at this than me.) I haven't a clue what's going on, or why.

But if I'm a little distracted, or if you've had odd messages purporting to be from me, you know why.

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Hild videos

While I'm trying to figure out why my domain is broken (and sorting out the resulting email snarl) here, have a bunch of Hild videos, conveniently broken into three types: interviews, performance, and reviews. Enjoy.

Interviews






Performance (staged discussion and reading)





Reviews



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Saturday, April 12, 2014

April morning

Now that is what I call an April morning. That's all.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

HILD ebook today in ANZ, UK, India


Hild of the lovely cover is now on sale as an ebook in the UK, ANZ, and India. Yes. You can download it onto your device and start reading right now.

In Australia and New Zealand:

In the UK:
In India:
As as incentive--and for your delectation and delight--here are a radio interview, an essay ("The Language of Hild"), a UK review, and a TV conversation.


Also, here the page of Blackfriars Books, the publisher, stuffed with all the juicy stuff such as plot summary, blurbs and raves (she said modestly) and pre-orders for the print edition (due July 23).

Enjoy. Let me know what you think.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Registration for "Magic of Immersive Fiction" is live

FYI, registration for my second "The Magic of Immersive Fiction" workshop just went live. If you're interested you should probably sign-up now.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Swooning over both sexes...

From: Annabel (high school junior)

I've never written an email to an author before, but I just felt really compelled. So, I just finished Hild a little while ago. It was totally incredible, making me gently toss the book on the ground and curl up in a ball and lose sleep over Gwladus, as well as collapse on the bathroom floor for Cian (both of whose names I mispronounced for a good two hundred pages or so, I believe, before finding the pronunciation guide at the back). I really just love the way you create characters. I mean, nobody is stereotypical - even Begu, who I thought at first was just a random chattery girl, ended up admitting that it was mostly a facade and being so much more complex in a way we don't get to see - and they're basically all just people. And as many other people said, you have actual non-straight characters?!?! I can count on my hands the number of books I've read featuring characters who weren't straight, and on two fingers the number of bisexual main characters. And the best part is that nobody cared, nobody made a big deal out of it, her relationship with Gwladus was just so pretty, and initially sweet, and then heartbreaking. You're just totally amazing.

There is a problem that I'm having, though. At the end of the book, you mentioned you were "working on the second part of [Hild's] story now." You're an author. A historical fiction/fantasy author. So you kill people. Please do not kill Cian. I don't think my heart could take it. Can everyone just have a happy ending? (Okay, that was kind of silly, but I actually thought that. I really got terrified when you said that because I just felt like it was quite possible that you would kill Cian.)

I had a question, though. Where did you read about gemæcces? Is that historically accurate? I really like the idea of them!

If you got through this long letter, thank you so much. I can't wait to read all the other stuff you wrote :)
I wrestled with Gwladus and Cian, and Hild's attraction to both. I found it surprisingly difficult at first; I've never written a bisexual main character before. The power differential and possibility of incest, respectively, made this even more complicated of course. (More on that in another post.) Each and every time I get the bisexual stamp of approval, first and most importantly from Kelley, who identifies as bi, from the Lambda Literary Foundation's bisexual fiction award jury (check out current finalists and previous winners for plenty of novels with bisexual main characters), and from readers, I am relieved.

When it comes to killing off characters loved by readers and/or the protagonist, well, frankly, it's not easy. But sometimes that's where the story leads, so I do it anyway. I did it in The Blue Place and felt like a monster. But the shape of the narrative made the ending inevitable. (I advise people to read the ending in private. My acquiring editor at the time was so unhappy about it that she passed me on to another editor.) I had to write two sequels, Stay and Always, to make myself feel better. Now I'm hyper-aware of loss and how it will play out, both in the narrative and with readers.

For example, in Hild I had initially written in a dog, a puppy, for Hild to adopt. She had mixed feelings to begin with--dogs occupied a complicated place in her life--but she (inevitably) came to love it. But then I realised dogs don't live as long as people, even at the best of times--and much of Hild's life was not "the best of times." I pondered, sighed, and excised a chunk of the book: got rid of the dog so I wouldn't have to make readers see it die and feel Hild's grief. (She has a hard enough time without adding to her burdens. I talk about the decision--and many other things--on video here.)

However, Hild is historical fiction. Many characters whom readers love, or love to hate, will die. It's the way of the early medieval world. Men in the upper echelons of society during violent times, and women of child-bearing age, often died young. Those fates were decided long, long ago and there's not much I can do about it. The story will unfurl as it must.

Regarding the concept of gemæcces: there is no textual evidence there was such a thing. I made it up. However, given the way I've imagined the early seventh century in Britain, particularly Anglisc-speaking England, I think it's entirely possible that, for a while (two or three generation perhaps) such formal partnerships did exist among the elite. I imagine female friendships between those of lower status were less formal but no less powerful. Women must have relied on one another in much the same way sisters and lifelong best friends depend on one another today not only for emotional support but for the practical aspects of life. For everyday tasks, such as weaving, spinning, dairying, childcare, brewing, healthcare--often at the same time; kids don't stop running around with sharp objects when you spin, gesiths don't stop breaking bones while your toddler is trying to stick her hand in fire. For seasonal events, such as harvesting and sheep shearing. And during extreme times such as war and famine (which, sadly, probably weren't that rare--extreme but not extraordinary). It makes perfect sense for there to be such a thing as gemæcces--how could there not? But we'll never know.

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Getting Medieval on To the Best of Our Knowledge


Just gone live: "Getting Medieval" on To the Best of Our Knowledge which includes my interview about Hild.

"Another season of HBO's "Game of Thrones" is beginning, and the History Channel's "Vikings" is racking up ratings. Why are we so interested in the Middle Ages?"

There's also interesting conversation with medieval weapons expert, Kelly DeVries. There's a brief chat with George R.R. Martin about why today's audiences might prefer fiction about the past whereas a previous generation liked thinking about the future. And a segment with Karen Joy Fowler on her latest, the PEN/Faulkner-winning We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. A very satisfying show.

If you only want to listen to me talking about Hild as butcher-bird, Hild as seer, Hild as political spin-meister, then of course feel free to stream or download just my segment (a hair under 12 minutes). But you'll be missing out--not least because they use snippets of Heningarna's "Viima," as incidental music...

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Listen to this! Enhanced audio of HILD!

Last month I recorded an interview for To the Best of Our Knowledge. Naturally, I talked about Hild. I also read three wee snippets* from the book.

The technical director at TTBOOK, a sound wizard called Caryl Owen, took those three bits and turned them into magic by layering in the low roar of wind in the elms, the thrum of a bowstring, the crackle of flame...

The whole interview will go live in a day or two, but to tease you, here's one of those nuggets of sound--a reading you've never heard before, just over a minute from the middle of the book. The menace comes as much from the enhancements Caryl added as my words. I love it. It makes me more determined than ever to one day record one of my books myself.**

Let me know what you think.

* Each around 90 seconds long
** That is, to read it myself, and maybe to have the fabulous Caryl engineer it. It's a question of time and energy: I own the audio rights to everything I've ever published--except Hild, of course, which already has a great audio book.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hild and Tolkien and Beowulf

From: Stephanie

I just finished reading HILD and wanted to let you know I enjoyed it immensely. It was not what I expected, though. I suppose I thought you would include her journey to sainthood, so I hope there is to be a sequel!

As a side note, I now have a better understanding of where Tolkien derived some of his inspiration for names.
I'm delighted you enjoyed the novel. And I absolutely will write Hild's journey to sainthood, though it's going to take two more books to do it--if all goes according to plan. (However, given that the original plan was to write one large volume, I wouldn't blame readers for not finding me wholly reliable.)

Tolkien was an Old English scholar; we read many of the same sources. That is, I read a lot of poetry--which is probably only a fraction of the corpus, which I'm guessing Tolkien was familiar with in its entirety. I'm also guessing (a pretty safe bet) that he didn't need to resort to bilingual editions. Did you know that his translation of Beowulf is due out in late May from HarperCollins? I for one am looking forward to it immensely; I can't wait to savour the differences between it and others' work.

Meanwhile, there's always his Fall of Arthur which came out last year. It's his (sadly incomplete) version of the Matter of Britain using modern English in the form of Old English alliterative meter. It's not for everyone but if you find both Hild and The Lord of the Rings stirring, you might like it.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Teaching a second 'Magic of Immersive Fiction' workshop

For those of you who asked when I'd be teaching again I've been chatting with Clarion West. I will repeat my one-day workshop, "The Magic of Immersive Fiction," on June 1st. Registration is not yet open but I wanted to give a heads-up to those of you not already on the waiting list.

Those of you on that waiting list will have first dibs on the fourteen slots available.

It turns out that the first one sold out in 90 minutes (!) so if you have your heart set on doing this, be ready. I'll announce registration as soon as it goes live. ETA: this will be in a week or so.

Two notes:

  1. despite the inauspicious date, this is not an April Fool's post
  2. this workshop is for those who couldn't get into the first rather than repeat students

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Where to buy Hild in ANZ and India and UK


On April 10 Hild will go on sale in Australia, New Zealand, India, other Commonwealth countries, and the UK. Initial publication will be as an ebook in a variety of formats. Hardback and paperback follow on July 24.

Apple and Amazon and Kobo allow for pre-order of the ebook, so fire away! 


Australia/New Zealand

India 
UK
As we get closer to the print publication date I'll start adding other outlets--chain and independent, online and bricks-and-mortar--and then index them in one master list. (As you can see, I've already started.)

So please send info! I'll do a much better job with your help.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hild links roundup #16

Bunch of reviews--one I particularly like, the one in the form of an email colloquy from Addison Recorder. In a few days my radio interview with To the Best of Our Knowledge goes live; I'll link. Next week Hild goes on sale in the UK and Commonwealth; tomorrow I'll post a bunch o' buy-links (pre-order in Australia!).

That's about it, news-wise. But if you're a glutton for punishment go read the gigantic roundup of links roundups.

REVIEWS
Addison Recorder
Shedding Light on an Unfairly Darkened Age, Christopher Walsh and Andrew J. Rostan
[Great email colloquy about Hild. Definitely worth reading.]
"Chris: Fiction about the Middle Ages can be a very mixed bag of idealized medievalisms and anachronistic pageantry. Knights gallivant across countrysides regardless of a historical tradition of chivalry in that country, dressed in armor shining bright despite the technology or preferred protection of the time. Honor and such are paramount. I love the Middle Ages, but reading historical fiction set in the time period can be a considerable chore given how many authors opt to write what feels medieval instead of what is medieval. Such is gloriously not the case with Hild."

Bookish
Hild by Nicola Griffith, by Silvia McIvers
"Hild is the second daughter of a dead king, but her mother dreamed that Hild will be the Light of the World, and is determined to make her dream come true. / Half the book takes place before Hild is old enough to wear a veil band and girdle, which means she's never gotten her period. She is a little, little kid with a big, big brain."

Bisexual Books
"If you like historical epics with a leisurely pace and detailed world building, and your only complaint is that none of those books have queer protagonists, then Hild is for you."

Book Banter
"Griffith doesn’t look to tell your average medieval historical novel of back to back action scenes and historic battles, but a moving story of people interacting and living through this tumultuous time and what they did to make a difference. And then of course, there is the captivating cover to draw any reader in."

Great Book Escapes
"I enjoyed reading this book slowly, getting a real sense of how society worked in the 7th C. At first I struggled to read the strange names and words of a language that is so unfamiliar, but this enhances the experience of imagining the 7th C and the book would be poorer without it. The use of unfamiliar words become part of the world unfolding, so that an understanding of their meaning becomes clearer, and with the glossary at the end of the book all is revealed. I think you absorb this story so that it becomes familiar."

University of St. Francis Library
[Scroll down—the PDF has no internal linkage.]
"Hild is the first novel in quite some time I’ve literally been unable to put down. It is a richly diverse, beautifully written novel with a little something for everyone. If you are a historical fiction enthusiast or are simply looking for something new to read, I highly recommend it!"

Camden Public Library
[Sadly, Marie doesn’t think there’s any character development in the novel, but she does compare it—again—to Umberto Eco and MZB. One of these days I need to revisit the comps count.]

MISCELLANEOUS
Cassie, who owns Brian Zottoli, ponders Hugo nominations
Oh, and I changed my profile pic--photo by Jennifer Durham

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hild coming to the UK in just two weeks

Exactly two weeks today, on Thursday 10 April, Hild will be published in the UK as an ebook

The hardback and paperback are due 15 weeks later, on Thursday 24 July. (Pre-order from your local independent book shop in the UK or Australia or India. Better buy-links closer to the date, I hope.)

I am thrilled at the prospect: Hild finally being available in my own country--in the country Hild herself helped make.

Here's how it will look: the cover and the flap- and back-copy.


‘You are a prophet and seer with the brightest mind in an age. Your blood is that of the man who should have been king … That’s what the king and his lords see. And they will kill you, one day’

Britain in the seventh century – and the world is changing. Small kingdoms are merging, frequently and violently. Edwin, King of Northumbria, plots his rise to overking of all the Angles. Ruthless and unforgiving, he is prepared to use every tool at his disposal: blood, bribery, belief. Into this brutal, vibrant court steps Hild – Edwin’s youngest niece.

With her glittering mind and powerful curiosity, Hild has a unique way of reading the world. By studying nature, observing human behavior and matching cause with effect, she has developed the ability to make startlingly accurate predictions. It is a gift that can seem uncanny, even supernatural, to those around her.

It is also a valuable weapon. Hild is indispensable to Edwin – unless she should ever lead him astray. The stakes are life and death: for Hild, for her family, for her loved ones, and for the increasing numbers who seek the protection of the strange girl who can see the future and lead men like a warrior.

In this vivid, utterly compelling novel, Nicola Griffith has brought the Early Middle Ages to life in an extraordinary act of alchemy. Drawn from the story of St Hilda of Whitby – one of the most fascinating and pivotal figures of the age – Hild transports the reader into a mesmerising, unforgettable world.

Praise for
Hild

‘You will never think of them as the Dark Ages again. Griffith’s command of the era is worn lightly and delivered as a deeply engaging plot. Her insight into human nature and eye for telling detail is as keen as that of the extraordinary Hild herself. The novel resonates to many of the same chords as Beowulf, the legends of King Arthur, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones – to the extent that Hild begins to feel like the classic on which those books are based’
Neal Stephenson

‘Vivid, vital, and visceral, Hild’s history reads like a thriller’
Val McDermid

‘You could describe Hild as being like Game of Thrones without the dragons, but this is so much deeper than that, so much richer. A glorious, intensely passionate walk through an entirely real landscape, Hild leads us into the dark ages and makes them light, and tense, and edgy and deeply moving. The research is flawless, the characters fully alive’
Manda Scott

‘Nicola Griffith is an awe-inspiring visionary, and I am telling everyone to snatch this book up. Hild is not just one of the best historical novels I have ever read – I think it’s one of the best novels, period’
Dorothy Allison

‘Dazzling … Griffith’s lyrical prose emphasizes the savagery of the political landscape, in which religion, sex, and superstition are wielded mercilessly for personal gain’
 Rachel Abramowitz, Paris Review Daily

‘In its ambition and intelligence, Hild might best be compared to Hilary Mantel's novels about Thomas Cromwell’
Jenny Davidson, 
Bookforum

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Latest HILD research

The second edition of The River, Mountains and Sea-Coast of Yorkshire. With Essays on the Climate, Scenery, and Ancient Inhabitants of the Country, by John Phillips (MS, FRS) was printed in London, by John Murray, in 1855. It won't win any edge-of-your-seat awards but if you like looking at graphs and tables of odd (some of it very odd) information collected by gentlemen natural philosophers, it can be pretty interesting.

Here's a (sadly not very representative) snip:

The best bits are those tables. Phillips details the labourious heights (and depths) he went to to conduct his research, for example hoisting various receptacles on poles of various heights in his garden to gauge how elevation might affect precipitation.

Seeing several scientific disciplines at their dawn is fascinating, as is casting my imagination even farther back in time to what someone of Hild's time may or may not have been able to observe of the natural world. I have had some cracking ideas about how Hild might maintain her seerly prowess...

In other words, here in Seattle I'm enjoying myself thoroughly.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

HILD UK cover reveal

The UK edition of Hild will be published by Blackfriars

The ebook and paperback will be available in fifty-plus territories: UK, Australia, India, New Zealand, Singapore, Ireland, South Africa, Malaysia, Myanmar, Jordan, Sri Lanka etc. The hardback will mainly be for the UK, I think, but I'm guessing some enterprising retailers will be willing to ship. More on links to retailers in another post.

Blackfriars agree with my original notion of Hild cover art: no representation of Hild. Perhaps it's a cultural thing. I am very, very happy with this:

Original art Anna and Elena Balbusso, original design Charlotte Strick, Blackfriars design Sian Wilson 
I particularly like the way that, without Hild and her unfathomable gaze taking up all the air, the lettering and the cross come to the fore. They hint (to me) of knife cuts on wood, and bloody deeds.

You want to hear some of those bloody deeds? Then on April 6th tune into your local NPR station and To the Best of Our Knowledge; I'll be reading a one-minute segment of Hild being the butcher bird of Elmet, plus two other snippets as well. And, of course, talking to Anne Strainchamps. I hope you'll join us.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

21st century sky

I was outside in the brilliant sun, looking at the trees, thinking, "This is something like Hild's sky," when a plane came by and reminded me that, in fact, a lot has changed in fourteen hundred years...

Next week I won't be around much. I'll be with Hild. I hope you also have plans for something you're looking forward to.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Hild roundup #15

Not too much today, so here is a quick note about some upcoming dates:
  • April 6. An interview on To the Best of Our Knowledge, including three mini-readings from Hild--at least one of which you have never heard before. Check local NPR station for listings. But, hey, initial air date is same day that Game of Thrones Season 4 begins...
  • April 10. The UK (and Australian, and Indian, and Irish, etc--more than 50 territories) ebook of Hild is out from Blackfriars. More on this anon.
  • April 13. Clarion West one-day workshop on "The Magic of Immersive Fiction." The workshop sold out in 90 mins so I've been asked to teach it again. I'm thinking about it. Let me know in comments if you're interested.
  • May 9. I'm reading at Elliott Bay, with Mattilda Berstein Sycamore and Chavisa Woods, at 7 pm. Come help us celebrate our nominations--in Bisexual Fiction, Trans Non-Fiction, and Lesbian General Fiction--for the Lambda Literary Award.
  • May 17. Nebula Awards. San Jose. Be there! (Par-ty!)
Previous links roundups here(Tell me when you get tired of this; Hild has, after all, been out four months now.)

REVIEWS
Brown Study
"I didn't plan it this way, but I can't think of a better book to champion during Women's History Month. Griffith's work is historical fiction at its finest, illuminating a slice of Anglo-Saxon history that begins and ends for most of us with Beowulf and the heroic culture of the mead hall."

Reading the Ages
Hild by Nicola Griffith, Kathleen Ingram
"I very much enjoyed this long but beautifully written tale of a favourite time and person."

INTERVIEWS
In which I talk to Rafe Posey about Hild, what did/n’t change in my life after publication, voice, and more.

MISCELLANEOUS
Listing some novels that readers might like, Mary Ann Gwinn mentions Peter Tremayne’s novels. "These books are so popular, they have inspired their own fan club, the International Sister Fidelma Society. I would like to start a similar club for Hild. Can I sign you up?" (She and Terry Tazzioli had some lovely things to say about Hild when Terry interviewed me for PBS's Well Read.)

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Charging towards spring

Three photos. The first taken exactly four weeks ago, the morning we flew to the UK. The last is this morning at the same time I took the first. The middle was ten days ago, around the same time of day. Seattle weather in full flower, and charging towards spring.




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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

HILD HAS A GLOSSARY. HILD HAS A GLOSSARY. HILD HAS--

If you check the Hild table of contents, THERE IS A GLOSSARY AT THE BACK. 

Just had to get that off my chest; if I get one more email or DM or FB message chastising me sorrowfully about this my brain will burst.

If you're reading a Kindle version of Hild, the file automatically opens at the beginning of the narrative, so you don't see that there's a map, a family tree, a glossary, a historical note, and a pronunciation guide. If you don't think of looking, or if you simply don't know how (you really should learn) then feel free to download the handy PDFs of the extras I've assembled here. (In order to demonstrate my intimate understanding of human laziness, I haven't bothered to create an internal link; you'll just have to--gasp!--scroll down to More Information.)

That's all.

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