As part of the “Game of Thrones: The Exhibition” event in Toronto, “Song of Ice and Fire” author George R.R. Martin read a new excerpt of the next book in his series – Book No. 6 – which will be titled “The Winds of Winter.”
Martin discussed his planned septology on March 12 in an interview with interviewer Teri Hart, who works for The Movie Network, a Canadian TV channel. The portion of the interview in which the author read an excerpt from his upcoming book for more than eight minutes was apparently a surprise to the audience.
“They don’t know?” Martin asked when Hart announced it.
Martin warned the audience to leave if they hadn’t read each previous book, including “A Dance with Dragons,” the fifth book in the series which was published this July. There is currently no official planned publication date for "Winds."
The excerpt was told from the point of view of Victarion Greyjoy, who is the brother of Balon Greyjoy, the ruler of the Iron Islands, an area of the kingdom of Westeros. Residents of the Iron Islands are famed for their ships, and Victarion commands the mighty Iron Fleet, holding the title of Lord Captain. Victarion is the uncle of Theon Greyjoy, one of the main characters in the series who was raised by Eddard Stark, though technically a hostage of the Starks. Theon was turned over to Eddard Stark as punishment for Balon’s failed rebellion.
(Spoilers follow for “The Winds of Winter.”)
In the excerpt, which Martin said begins around “five minutes” after the end of “Dance,” Victarion tells three oarsmen from the Iron Fleet that they have been chosen to blow the hellhorn, which is said to have the power to control dragons. According to Victarion, the last man to blow the hellhorn died.
“Game of Thrones: The Exhibition” was held from March 9 to 18 and was presented by HBO Canada and the Toronto International Film Festival. Various items from the hit HBO series were available for viewing, including costumes from the show and props, including the Iron Throne, the chair that is the symbol of power for the king of the fictional country of Westeros.
Check out the video below – Martin begins reading at the 30:49 mark.
Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.
In 1962, a little boy named Peter woke up to a world full of snow. Putting on an orange snowsuit, the little boy ran outside: “Crunch, crunch, crunch, his feet sank into the snow.” Thus begins The Snowy Day, the 1962 picture book written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats. This March marks the 50th anniversary of the Caldecott Medal-winning story that has enchanted readers for decades.
Peter’s wondrous day full of snow angels and snowballs is something so many children can relate to. Peter is also African American. And with this quiet, yet significant illustrative decision, made in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, Keats’s book became the first full-color, mainstream picture book to feature a black boy as the main character.
A critical – if not uncontroversial – success, Keats received letters from fans across the country, including the poet Langston Hughes, who wrote that he wished he had some grandchildren to give the story to. One reviewer in The Baltimore Sun commented, “The fact that the artist has pictured Peter as a Negro child, quite without making any particular point of it, is a pleasant surprise.”
The character of Peter was based off a set of photos clipped from a 1940 issue of Life magazine. For 22 years, Keats kept those photos on his wall, hoping to be asked to illustrate a book about such a boy. But it wasn’t until he decided finally to write a book himself was he able to use them.
Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, is careful to point out Keats wasn’t trying to make a big statement.
“He made the hero black, because he was there,” Pope said. “Ezra grew up in a city where as we know there is the broadest range of humanity. And so this boy was there, and so he put him in the book. It wasn’t anything really more complicated than that.”
Pope was 10 years old when The Snowy Day first came out. The daughter of Keats’ boyhood best friend, she said she took for granted the work of her Uncle Ezra for many years – until she had children. “And then I understood,” she said. As head of the foundation, Pope has devoted her life to using the late illustrator’s royalties to promote and support the work of librarians, teachers and aspiring artists who continue in the tradition of Keats.
In particular, the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Awards, announced annually in April, embody this commitment. The awards celebrate “people at the beginning of their careers, creating beautiful books, about children of every sort, so that children of every sort can see themselves in the book,” Pope said. “It’s very important that these not be cause books. They are books that say, this is a great story. It’s not that we’re all equal, it’s not that we’re all the same. We just are.”
Keats’ work has also been cited as the inspiration behind some of today’s most decorated authors and illustrators. Bryan Collier, whose intricate watercolor and collage creations have been honored with multiple Caldecott Medals and Coretta Scott King Awards, as well as an Ezra Jack Keats Award, remembers his mother bringing home a copy of The Snowy Day when he was just four or five years old.
“I don’t know what it was,” Collier said, “but when I saw that boy Peter, he looked like me. I was like, Wow!”
Growing up as the youngest of six during the often snowy winters of Maryland, Collier said he knew exactly how Peter felt watching the ”big boys” having their snow ball fights. The Snowy Day had subconsciously planted a seed inside of him, Collier said. For 10 years that seed waited, while Collier dreamed of playing professional basketball like the great Dr. J. But one day the 15-year old hoops fan stumbled into a freshman art class, and the seed was finally ignited. “It was an impact, it was visceral. You just feel it,” he said.”
Just like the feeling of that first art class, Collier said America felt a bit of a spark with the publishing of the landmark picture book. “I think it put so much greatness into the world, a sense of diversity,” he said. “It unveiled something that was always there. The jolt was that the rest of the world, the publishing world, didn’t get it. They didn’t really get it until they saw it.”
The Snowy Day was awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1963, the same year that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream Speech” from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
“This was a very difficult time in America,” Pope said. “It was a time of the real strengthening, the emerging of the Civil Rights movement as a truly strong movement.”
But nearly a half-century later, a serious void continues to exist in the world of children’s literature. In terms of minority representation, there’s definitely still work to be done, Collier said.
As the director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education, Kathleen Horning has been keeping track of such representation since the mid-1980s.
Out of all the 2,500 trade books published for children and teens by trade presses in 1985, Horning and the CCBC were shocked to find only 18 were written or illustrated by African Americans. “Even publishers were surprised the number was so low,” Horning said. “The only people who weren’t surprised were African American parents and teachers, who didn’t find it at all surprising.“
In 1995, the CCBC found that out of 4,500 total books published, only 100 books written by African Americans, and 167 written about (without taking into account any probable overlap). And there’s been little statistical change since. Books written by and about other minority groups are even harder to find.
“Since really the early 90s, the number has really stagnated,” Horning said. Even when you can find books featuring African American characters, they generally fall into two specific categories, she said: historical narratives from the 19th century, or stories about Civil Rights leaders.
“It’s very hard to find books about contemporary African American children, especially for children’s books, especially for young children,” Horning said. “Boys are the biggest challenge. So a book like The Snowy Day would still be unusual today, unfortunately. It would still would stand out, for the simple fact that it’s about a contemporary African American boy, a timeless story, with an African American representing a boy any child could identify with.”
The problem is not a decrease in demand, Horning said. In fact, anecdotally she believes it’s increasing. The problem now stems more from a business, rather than sociological, perspective.
“It used to be that schools and libraries were a bigger force, but with cuts to funding, they don’t have the buying power the had 20 years ago,” Horning said. “The influence is on what will sell in the bookstore. And that can have an impact on what gets published.”
Barring a surprise re-funding of public libraries, Horning said people need to advocate with their wallets. “Buy the books,” she said. “Prove the people who are saying black books don’t sell wrong.”
One person who certainly wouldn’t mind such a consumer resurgence is Cheryl Hudson, a mother, author, and the co-founder of Just Us Books, a small New Jersey press focused solely on black-interest books for children. Along with her husband Wade, Hudson has been seeking out her niche manuscripts for 25 years. “We were parents and professionals, but we said if nobody else is going to do it, we’re going to do it for our own kids,” Hudson said.
When the Hudsons set up shop, they knew of over 300 black book stores. Now they deal with fewer than 50. Every day is a challenge, especially in terms of marketing and getting the word out about the specialized Just Us Books titles list.
“When we first started we had so much excitement about what we were doing,” Hudson said. “Some marketers think the only time people read anything about black people is in February, in Black History month. Which is not true. But marketers are creatures of habit.”
Children specifically need to see themselves in their favorite books, Hudson said, to have that “Wow” moment Bryan Collier experienced reading The Snowy Day for the first time.
“All children love to see themselves, in a book or photograph or even a photo album, it’s an affirmation that you are of value,” Hudson said. “They need to see themselves in a positive way, not as happy slaves, but as African American children who brush their teeth and brush their hair, who have problems, and loves and laughs and dreams.”
But Hudson is not discouraged. “We wish it were easier. We fought some battles 40 years ago that we thought were solved,” she said. “There are little peaks of light. But we have to be vigilant about keeping the word out.”
Recently, some of the larger publishers have also taken notice of the issue. The Children’s Books Council recently formed a new Diversity Committee “dedicated to increasing the diversity of voices and experiences contributing to children’s literature.” Co-chair Alvina Ling, the Editorial Director at Little, Brown, said she is encouraged by what she sees as a positive trend in general awareness of the problem.
“I feel very optimistic,” she said. “Books about diverse characters are just naturally going to succeed more and more. I think that if that weren’t the case it would be more of an uphill battle. But I think everything is on our side, it’s just going to take a while. Children’s books backlist really well. The list just keeps growing and growing."
After The Snowy Day’s publication, Ezra Jack Keats experienced his share of critics, despite its general popularity. “I think various people were very worried their voice was being co-opted,” Deborah Pope said.
Eventually, however, time brought understanding.
“The people who criticized him calmed down, because they saw the book was doing a good thing, not a bad thing. That it was being embraced across ethnic and social lines. And that it was bringing joy to the lives of many children,” she said
Translated into at least 10 languages, The Snowy Day continues this mission to this day. “Because,” Pope explained, as anyone who’s ever brought home a snowball could tell you, “ultimately there is no color to put on children’s experience of snow.”
Meredith Bennett-Smith is a Monitor correspondent.
As with any megastar media sensation (see Potter, Harry and Middleton, Kate), "Game of Thrones," which returns Sunday on HBO for a second season after establishing itself as a cult favorite, has spawned a bevy of books.
The show, based on George R.R. Martin’s bestselling “A Song of Ice and Fire” fantasy novels, chronicles the violent dynastic struggles in fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros for control of the Iron Throne. From book to TV show to mega-acclaim, "Game of Thrones" is spawning yet more books for die-hard fans to enjoy.
First up is the “Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones,” an official companion book by show writer Byran Cogman to be released by Chronicle Books and HBO this fall. Entertainment news source the Daily Blam describes it as “a visual companion to the series that provides behind-the-scenes stories and details about transforming the bestselling book series to the screen.”
The full-color book will feature a foreward by Martin, character profiles, on-set photography, maps (including a foldout map of Westeros), family trees, an explanation of the Dothraki language created for the show, and interviews with cast and crew.
“The extraordinarily talented actors and artisans who work tirelessly to bring Game of Thrones to life are unequaled anywhere,” Cogman said in a statement. “This book is a tribute to them. It’s been a joy to write for this fantastic series and an honor to put together this book, which I hope will please fans, both old and new.”
And if all the anticipation and succession battles are getting you hungry, fear not, you can feed your hunger for more "Game of Thrones" with the “Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook,” by Alan Kistler. Yes, that’s right, there’s a companion cookbook.
Surprisingly, the cookbook is actually faithful to the books, according to reviews. Each recipe has a headnote detailing the origins of the dish in Martin’s books.
“While one may not think food when they first consider HBO’s bloody drama or Martin’s books, Kistler finds a way to make the connection,” writes Hollywood Chicago’s Brian Tallerico. “What I like most about [this cookbook] is [its] fidelity to [its] source material. The author tries to find ways to tie back even the most simple recipes to [its] franchise.”
So what do hardcore Thrones fans serve for a premiere night party? As any “Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook” enthusiast will tell you, Arya’s Lemon Cakes, of course.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
Adrienne Rich, a celebrated poet, feminist, and social activist who, through her thoughtful verse, challenged the American Dream and championed women’s rights, gay rights, and rights of the disadvantaged, has died. She was 82.
Ms. Rich died Tuesday in her home in Santa Cruz, said her son Pablo Conrad.
Over the course of her decades-long career, over which she published more than a dozen volumes of poetry and five collections of nonfiction, Rich picked up a Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and Yale Young Poets prize for her passionate poetry that took up the causes of the marginalized.
As the precocious elder daughter of a Jewish father and Protestant mother – a heritage recalled in her autobiographical poem, “Sources” – Rich came of age in Baltimore during the turbulent social upheavals of the 1960s and 70s, an experience that heavily influenced her work. She was known for her unflinching attention to such controversial topics as racism, sexuality, war, economic justice, and homosexuality.
One of her most celebrated books of poetry, “Diving Into the Wreck,” published in 1973, garnered Rich a National Book Award and launched her into the top echelon of American poets. With its layers of meaning about treasure hunting, failed relationship, and gender hierarchies, Rich’s title poem was called “one of the most beautiful poems to come out of the women’s movement,” by literary scholar Cheryl Walker, in the Nation.
I put on
the body armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.
Rich married Harvard University economist Alfred Conrad in 1953, with whom she had three sons. She eventually left him in 1970 to live with her partner, writer and editor Michelle Cliff. Soon after she left her husband, he committed suicide. A graduate of Radcliffe College, Rich taught at many colleges and universities including Brandeis, Rutgers, Cornell, San Jose State, Stanford, Swarthmore, Columbia University School of the Art, and City University of New York.
President Bill Clinton selected Rich for the National Medal of the Arts in 1997, the highest award given to artists. Rich refused it, citing the growing disparity between rich and poor in the country.
“The radical disparities of wealth and power in America are widening at a devastating rate,” she wrote in a letter addressed to then-President Clinton. “A president cannot meaningfully honor certain token artists while the people at large are so dishonored.”
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
With a wave of the famous boy wizard’s wand – and a bevy of distribution deals – Harry Potter’s Pottermore has brought the wizarding world to the digital world.
That’s right, Harry Potter books finally became available in digital form Tuesday on Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s new web store, enabling fans to buy e-books and audiobooks of all seven Potter novels.
But there’s more magic there than meets the eye. In a major departure from industry standards, the Potter e-books aren’t locked with encryption, allowing consumers to share and read the books on multiple devices. In other words unlike a typical e-book, the same Potter e-book downloaded from Pottermore will work on Kindles, Nooks, iPads, smartphones, and more.
It’s a significant break with industry practice and it could provide the model that will undermine e-book dominator Amazon.
“I think it’s a very large crack in a dam that’s going to collapse in the next nine to twelve months,” Matteo Berlucchi, CEO of independent UK-based online bookstore aNobii, told the Northwest Indiana Times.
As the music industry did until 2008, distributors sell e-books in encrypted form that only authorized devices can read. A digital book from Amazon, for example, can only be read on its Kindle e-readers and on Kindle apps. It won’t work on other devices. Similarly, e-books purchased from Apple or Barnes and Noble will only work on i-devices (iPads, iPods, iPhones) and Nooks, respectively.
The encryption used today is in the form of Digital Rights Management, or DRM, which distributers say stops piracy. It was the practice in the music industry until 2008 and it’s still the standard in digital books.
Until now. Potter e-books from Pottermore can be downloaded in a variety of formats and read on a variety of devices and apps – unprotected by DRM. Pottermore will insert a watermark identifying the buyer – an effort to stop piracy – but the books can be shared with friends and family.
“We believe that people should have the right, once they’ve bought the book, to read it on any device that they choose to,” Charles Redmayne, CEO of Pottermore, told the NWI Times.
“Of course,” writes the NWI Times, “there’s another reason Pottermore is going DRM-free. It wants to “own” the relationship with the customers – the Potter fans – rather than have them go to other retailers. And the only way to get onto all reading devices without dealing with the other retailers is to sell books without DRM.”
“It’s a very valuable thing to us to own that customer relationship,” Redmayne said. “It gives us a tremendous opportunity to create new products that we can sell to those consumers around the Harry Potter brand.”
So far, distributors like Amazon, which sells about 60 percent of the e-books bought in the US, are playing along. If customers look for Potter e-books on Amazon, the site sends them to Pottermore.
Pottermore e-books mark the first major experiment in DRM-free e-books, so it remains to be seen whether the industry adopts this model as standard practice, as the music industry did four years ago. If it does, that would upset Amazon’s colossal influence in the digital market and return some of that power to publishers.
Whatever happens, we’re not surprised Harry Potter is behind some potentially earth-shaking changes in the industry. It’s not the first time.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
The statue, which is 3 feet high and weighs 300 pounds, was reported missing Monday morning. Two versions of the statue were made by the stepdaughter of Theodore Geisel (Seuss’s real name), and the other was previously donated to a museum.
“We're just hoping that the suspects return it,” San Diego Police Lt. Andra Brown told Reuters. “The Geisel family is just asking that it be returned and they don't want to pursue the matter any further. Which is not to say the police won't.”
The author’s widow, Audrey Geisel, currently resides in the San Diego house. The manager of the property, Carl Romero, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that security cameras and motion detectors were set for installation on the property, one of which was going to monitor the Lorax statue.
"It’s peculiar that the Lorax was stolen right before the camera was installed,” he said. “It’s not a coincidence. It’s very private up here."
Geisel's stepdaughter,Lark Grey Dimond-Cate, asked that the statue be returned.
"He’s not just a hunk of metal to us," Dimond-Cate told the Union-Tribune. "He was a family pet."
Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.
A film version of a book that’s raced up the bestseller charts seems like a natural fit, but that’s a little less true for “Grey” – since the book is an erotic novel, some wonder how the story’s events can be adapted to the screen and yet still stay within the limits of an R rating.
“I think that’s going to be a collaborative process,” James told Entertainment Weekly.
James told the magazine that Jeb Brody, who serves as Focus Features president of production, was the person who convinced her that Focus was the group she wanted to go with for her movie adaptation.
“I really like clever men who challenge you," James told the website, "and with Jeb, I thought, yeah, I can work with that!”’
The author will retain the right to approve the script for the movie and the choice of the two leads, college student Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, a young billionaire.
James said Focus’s previous projects also helped convince her that they were the ones for her book.
“They have a great background in handling difficult material,” she said in the Entertainment Weekly interview.
The prospect of a “Grey” movie had many studios competing for rights to the novel before Focus Features and Universal Pictures won out.
“Like so many readers all over the globe, we've fallen in love with 'Fifty Shades of Grey'," Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson and Universal co-chairman Donna Langley said in a joint statement. “It's a special story and working with Focus, we hope to bring audiences a film they can enjoy as much as they loved the book.”
Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.
When her mother died, Cheryl Strayed was cast into an abyss. To pull herself out of it, she tried sex, drugs, and long-distance hiking – although not simultaneously. She put drug use and empty relationships behind her (although just barely) before she set off on a solitary 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.
That's not to say that Strayed was well prepared for what she was undertaking. She had never backpacked before and spent the night before she left pulling brand-new outdoors equipment out of its packaging.
Yet despite all the odds, Strayed's journey was at least as transcendent as it was turbulent. She faced down hunger, thirst, injury, fatigue, boredom, loss, bad weather, and wild animals. Yet she also reached new levels of joy, accomplishment, courage, peace, and found extraordinary companionship.
I recently had a chance to talk with Strayed about her trip and her new book Wild. Here are excerpts of our conversation:
One of the last things your mother said to you was, “You’re a seeker.” What were you seeking and did you find it on the trail?
I think what she really meant by that – and I think this has been true throughout my life – is that I’ve always been somebody who asked a lot of questions and I think that was what made me a writer. I was always curious about other people’s lives and wanted to know why they did certain things. Even as a child I would say things like, “Why did you fall in love with your wife?” So I was always curious about the underneath things. When I decided to hike the trail I was very literally seeking a different way of being in the world. I was having such a difficult time [due to] grief over my mother. And so I think that I knew that I needed to go somewhere that was like home and the wilderness was that.
What was the best gift the trail gave you?
The greatest gift was a sense of my own resilience. By that I mean something deeper than what confidence is. When we feel confident I think that a lot of times we think that that means that we’re going to be able to succeed at something and dominate something and master something. You know, it’s all those kind of winning and on-top things. The kind of confidence that I got on the PCT was more like, "Whatever it is that happens I’ll be OK." To carry everything that I needed on my back ... to say “Here’s what I actually need to survive” and it’s stuff that I can carry on my back. That’s really powerful. And to do it while carrying it over this difficult terrain and in difficult weather. It just gave me this sense of my own strength and resilience.
What was your worst moment?
There were times all along the way when the physical circumstances would meet the negative thought patterns. I would just get so angry at myself. I would say why do I have to be out here? You know, think of all the other things a 26-year-old woman could be doing right now. And I’m just out there in the wilderness and so when it would be really searingly hot and my feet would be absolutely killing me I would be hungry and just thinking about all the things I did not have. I would get into one of those negative thought patterns and that was so hard. I just wanted off.
You mailed yourself some wonderful books that you could collect at way stations along the way. What did the books contribute to your trip?
They very important to me. They were my entertainment. Remember, this is 1995. Now people take their iPods, their MP3 players, podcasts of radio shows. They’re listening to books on tape, audio books, and music. They have a different relationship to silence than I did. Every chance I got, every time I’d be sitting down having a snack or a break or having a meal at night, I’d be reading those books. I felt that, the way we get lost in a book in regular life was just amplified and magnified by about 1,000 when the only world that you can lose yourself in is that book.
You tell some amazing stories about “trail magic” – the kindnesses that seemed to be showered on you out there. Was that because you are a woman and were traveling alone?
I think I would have encountered trail magic [anyway], I think that everyone does. But I think that you get a lot more trail magic when you’re a woman alone. The flip side of being seen as weak is that nobody’s threatened by a woman alone. So people open themselves up to you. Also they saw me as vulnerable so they wanted to help me. It was very interesting to experience this endless kindness. When people understand that you are on this wilderness journey, people are so excited about that. Even people who would never want to do it themselves. They kind of want to live it vicariously through you. Any long-distance hiker ends up being a little bit like a celebrity.
Were you underprepared for the experience?
In a lot of ways I was prepared. I spent months preparing, organizing my boxes, and doing all the planning and stuff. The part that I was really unprepared for was the part about what it was like to really be out on the trail. I certainly could have been way better prepared. For example I could have gone backpacking before. Or tested the equipment. There are all kinds of rules I broke. On the other hand, and others who have hiked long distance will agree with this, there is only a certain amount you can do to be prepared. You can’t replicate hiking for a long, long time unless you hike for a long, long time.
Who would you be if you hadn't taken this trip?
I think that if I hadn’t hiked the PCT, I would have found myself out of that sorrow in some other fashion. Maybe the PCT was the hardest and fastest way to sort of shake myself back into the life that I needed to live, so it sort of sped that process along because it was so intense.
You're sure to have wanna-be Imitators who will consider hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. What advice would you give them?
The book’s only been out a day, and already I’ve received a few e-mails from people saying, "I’m going to this. I’m going to do what you did." And it’s funny to me because, on the one hand, that’s wonderful. Because, aside from having kids and marrying my husband, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is the best thing that I’ve ever done. Absolutely no question. I would do it again in a heartbeat. And I also would recommend to anyone else to do it. But it’s also true that everyone has to find their own journey, their own path, and I don’t know that they necessarily need to follow mine so literally. There are all kinds of journeys that we can go on. And they don’t necessarily even involve leaving your city.
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's Books editor.
The novella, titled “Basic Training,” is said to be autobiographical and centers on protagonist Haley Brandon, who visits a relative known as the General who is determined to win Haley over to his perception of American values.
“Basic Training” was rejected by the publications “The Saturday Evening Post” and “McCalls” when Vonnegut shopped his work around in the 1940s. He was still working at the publicity department of General Electric at the time and was not yet well-known as a writer.
The book is being published as a Kindle Single and is available for purchase for $1.99.
Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.
Will we never tire of "Star Wars"? Apparently not.
Novelized versions of stories inspired by the "Star Wars" universe created by George Lucas continue to be commercial successes, debuting on at prime spots on bestseller lists.
The newest "Star Wars" novel, “Apocalypse” by Troy Denning, is currently at No. 8 on the The New York Times combined e-book and print fiction bestseller list for April 1 and is the second-bestselling book on the hardcover fiction list for the same date. It is currently also at No.2 on the hardcover fiction bestsellers list aggregated by Publishers Weekly. The book was released March 13 and follows various Jedi knights, including Luke Skywalker, his son Ben Skywalker, and Jaina Solo, the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa, as they battle the evil Sith forces.
“Apocalypse” is the last book in the "Fate of the Jedi" series, which has released at least one new installment each year since 2009, often at least two. The last new book in the "Fate" series, “Ascension” by Christie Golden, secured the No. 7 spot on The New York Times combined fiction list its first week of publication, while the book released before “Ascension,” titled “Conviction” and written by Aaron Allston, debuted at No. 12. The previous book in the series, “Vortex” by Denning, attained the 20th spot on the list.
There have been more than 160 novels for adults released with stories set in the Star Wars universe, not counting books written for younger readers, guides to the movies, or books such as “Lego Star Wars” by Simon Beecroft, which explores the "Star Wars" Lego toy series and made the Children’s Picture Books New York Times bestseller list.
Other "Star Wars" novels aimed at adults, including “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” by Sean Williams and “Heir to the Empire” by Timothy Zahn, which is often credited with revitalizing the Star Wars novel franchise, have reached the number No. 1 spot on The New York Times fiction bestseller list.
Some new book series, such as the "Fate of the Jedi," take place in the future beyond the last "Star Wars" film chronologically, the 1983 movie “Return of the Jedi.” Other books, such as “Plagueis,” serve as prequels to the movies. The last "Star Wars" film, “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith,” was released in 2005, but a George Lucas-approved animated series titled “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” currently airs new episodes on Cartoon Network. Other "Star Wars" novels, including “Mercy Kill” by Aaron Allston and “Lost Tribe of the Sith: Pandemonium” by John Jackson Miller, are planned for release later this year.
Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.