Elizabeth Wein answers a question

Oy, if you’re a Code Name Verity or Rose Under Fire or Black Dove, White Raven fan and you haven’t read the rest of Elizabeth Wein’s books, namely the Lion Hunters series… I’m blaming you for delaying the publication of The Sword Dance, the next book in the series.

Over at Goodreads, EWein answers why this book hasn’t been published yet, even though she finished writing it YEARS AGO:
EWein on Telemakos

The books have been out of print for a while but the ebooks are available through Open Road Media (and they have matching covers)! I’m going to make your life easier and share the links here:

The Winter Prince ebook A Coalition of Lions ebook The Sunbird ebook The Lion Hunter ebook The Empty Kingdom ebook

The ebooks are even free when you have a Kindle Unlimited account. Telemakos deserves more love, people. Go forth and read the books about him.

EWein Special Ops: Reading The Lion Hunters Post CNV

Brandy blogs about fantasy and realistic novels (both middle grade and young adult) at Random Musings of a Bibliophile. She read and loved Elizabeth Wein’s Lion Hunters novels this year and in this guest post, she gives her perspective on what it was like to read these Arthurian books after she’s read Code Name Verity.

Give it up for Brandy!

Random Musings of a Bibliophile2

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Being a member of Sounis (fan central for Megan Whalen Turner’s books) I had Elizabeth Wein’s Lion Hunter series recommended to me several times. And I tried. I tried so many times. I have to be honest though, I am not and never have been a huge fan of the Arthurian legend. There is too much that creeps me out. This was a huge obstacle for me when it came to reading The Winter Prince. I tried so many times, and each time I went a little further, but I always ended up not finishing.

Not because it is badly written. Oh no. Yes, this was Wein’s (actual) debut novel, but Ms. Wein is an amazingly talented writer and her debut novel has more craft and skill in it than most people’s fourth or fifth. No, I couldn’t finish it because she is just too good at what she does, making you feel and know everything her characters do. As a result, Code Name Verity was the first of Wein’s novels I truly experienced. After that I could not imagine not going back and reading everything else of hers I could. I didn’t even care that I had to work to locate copies that were no longer in print. I did it happily.

And I still wasn’t able to finish The Winter Prince. I didn’t let it stop me this time. I just skipped it and went on to A Coalition of Lions. Then I devoured the rest of the series within a week. There is so much to love about this earlier series and it deserves far more attention than it gets. Even now after the popularity of Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, it still isn’t as widely read as it should be. Too many people still refer to Code Name Verity as Wein’s debut novel. That needs to change. If you are a person who loves Wein’s writing in her two latest novels, there is nothing that will stop you from loving these too.

What can you expect to get from these books? The same care and attention to character development you found in Code Name Verity. These are characters you will come to know and love, particularly Telemakos. I don’t know how any one could walk away from reading The Sunbird without him owning a huge chunk of their heart. The historical period is brought to life in such a way that you actually feel you are there. This is Ancient Ethiopian historical fiction too. No one can complain they have too much of that in their lives. Readers can also expect to see the same brilliant ability to bring hope and beauty out of despair and destruction.

You won’t even have to hunt them down like I did. They are now available as e-books. There are no excuses.

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The Winter Prince ebookA Coalition of Lions ebookThe Sunbird ebookThe Lion Hunter ebookThe Empty Kingdom ebook

Thank you, Brandy! No excuses indeed. Click on the covers above to grab copies of the ebooks.

EWein Special Ops

EWein Special Ops: Pushing the boundaries of Young Adult

Rachel Neumeier is the author of fantasy novels House of Shadows, the Griffin Mage trilogy, The Floating Islands and The City in the Lake. I love chatting with Rachel about the books that we love because I feel like our tastes in books overlap. I knew I had to ask her for a guest post for EWein Special Ops since I know she enjoyed reading Elizabeth Wein’s novels.

Give it up for Rachel!

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Elizabeth Wein: Pushing the boundaries of Young Adult

Rachel NeumeierI should start with a confession: I haven’t read CODE NAME VERITY. Nor have I read ROSE UNDER FIRE.

But I have an excuse! See, if I am working on a new book of my own, I really can’t read anything that is too emotionally compelling. Because if I start a book like that, I am going to be forced to drop everything and finish it, and that kind of compulsion is not your friend when you have work to do. Plus, a truly brilliant story lingers for days or weeks in my mind, its characters and story and setting suggesting different characters and stories and settings I would love to write. This makes it much, much harder to get back to my current work-in-progress.

No, the right choice when I’m busy is a book I’ve read several times before, or else nonfiction.

Books like CODE NAME VERITY and ROSE UNDER FIRE are the ones I set aside as a reward for finishing a major project. With any reasonable luck, I expect to read both of them, plus a couple of other special titles, somewhere in the second half of February, once I’ve finished the first draft of my current WIP.

And how do I know that these two titles are worth holding out as a special treat? Particularly as I have been avoiding reviews of them, since I don’t want to be deluged with spoilers? Well, because they’re by Elizabeth Wein, that’s how.

The first book I ever read by Wein, just a year or two ago, was THE SUNBIRD. I think I must have picked it up at a library sale or something, which goes to show why library sales are worth checking out, because THE SUNBIRD immediately wound up on my (very short) list of Truly Perfect Books.

Telemakos is simply one of the great YA protagonists of all time. He is clever and kind, but you will never confuse him with all those other clever, kind YA protagonists. We first meet him like this:

Telemakos was hiding in the New Palace. He lay among the palms at the edge of the big fountain in the Golden Court. The marble lip of the fountain’s rim just cleared the top of his head, and the imported soil beneath his chest was warm and moist. He was comfortable. He could move about easily behind the plants, for the sound of the fountains hid any noise he might make. Telemakos was watching his aunt.

And if that doesn’t immediately make you curious, I don’t know what will.

Telemakos has a very good relationships with his aunt, by the way. His whole family is fascinating and beautifully drawn, all the family members sympathetic but far from perfect, all the relationships strong but complex.

I will just mention here that this story is actually part of a five-book set which begins with an Arthurian story before heading off in its own direction, so that various members of Telemakos’ family have actually stepped directly out of Arthurian legand. THE SUNBIRD is a fine place to start and stands alone just fine, but the series as a whole consists of THE WINTER PRINCE, A COALITION OF LIONS, THE SUNBIRD, THE LION HUNTER, and THE EMPTY KINGDOM. Each leads to the next but stands alone, except for the last two, which together comprise a single story.

So, Telemakos. Telemakos reminds me of Megan Whelan Turner’s Eugenides, but he’s not the same – his strengths are different, and so are his weaknesses, and so is his family and the world through which he moves. Most of all the world, which informs all the rest. Because though THE SUNBIRD draws on Arthurian legend, it is set in the African country of Aksum.

Aksum is simultaneously engaging and fascinating and charming and terrible. Generally an author of historical novels ratchets back the sheer horror of so much of history in order to appeal to modern readers. There may be slavery, for example, but we aren’t generally shown the sheer unutterable dreadfulness that attends some kinds of slavery.

If Elizabeth Wein pulls back from showing us horror, I sure can’t tell. Two of the scenes in THE SUNBIRD are among the most intensely horrific scenes anywhere. Those scenes would be unbearable in the hands of another writer. Yet Wein pulls them off – even for me, and I have a fairly low tolerance for grim – through her sheer skill with language and by creating a story whose overall structure and themes are thoroughly positive.

But still, intense is definitely the word.

And that is why I am waiting for a break before I read CODE NAME VERITY and ROSE UNDER FIRE.

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Thank you for the lovely words, Rachel! I’m pretty sure you’ll love both Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire when you get the chance to read them.

EWein Special Ops

EWein Special Ops: Why I Love Elizabeth Wein’s Aksum Books (and why you should too)

R.J. Anderson the author of middle grade faery novels (Knife, Rebel and Arrow, Swift and Nomad in the UK; Spellhunter and Wayfarer in the US) and the YA paranormal thriller Ultraviolet and its sequel Quicksilver. I know that she’s a fan of Elizabeth Wein’s writing because I’ve seen her recommend it several times.

Please give a warm welcome to R.J.!
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Why I Love Elizabeth Wein’s Aksum Books (and why you should too)
by R.J. Anderson

RJ AndersonIt’s all Megan Whalen Turner’s fault.

Not that I’m complaining, I hasten to add; Megan is to blame for a number of quite excellent things, including her own very fine series of Thief books. But if it hadn’t been for Ms. Turner recommending a semi-obscure author named Elizabeth Wein way back in 2010, I would likely never have read The Winter Prince and A Coalition of Lions and The Sunbird and The Lion Hunters and The Empty Kingdom, and my heart might still be in one piece instead of a million little ones all crying “Medraut!” and “Goewin!” and “Priamos*!” and “Telemakos!”.

(Oh, who am I kidding. I would still probably have come across Code Name Verity eventually, and there was no way my heart was going to survive THAT.)

On the plus side, however, I can now look on all the accolades for Verity and Rose Under Fire with some smugness, because thanks to Megan, I was a fan of Ms. Wein’s writing long before most of her current readers had even heard of her. Yes, that’s right, I am a hipster Elizabeth Wein fan, and proud of it.

But seriously, if you’ve read and loved Verity and Rose’s stories, with all their vibrant humanity and sparks of wry humour, their flawlessly realized historical settings, their soaring triumphs and moments of shattering devastation — the latter often revealed so subtly that they slip right under the reader’s emotional guard — then you owe it to yourself to read Ms. Wein’s earlier books as well. It’s one of the great tragedies of publishing that the Aksum series went in and out of print with so little notice, but fortunately all five are still available as e-books, or you can find them through used book dealers if you look hard enough.

Like Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, the Aksum series is historical. But in this case Wein goes back all the way to Arthurian legend — specifically the story of Mordred, here called Medraut, and his twin half-siblings Lleu and Goewin. The first book, The Winter Prince, deals with Medraut’s bitterness toward his privileged half-brother and his temptation to betray him for the crown; the second, A Coalition of Lions, shifts to Goewin as she sets out on a desperate voyage to Aksum (ancient Ethiopia) to escape her vengeful aunt Morgause; and the third, The Sunbird, introduces us to Telemakos, the mixed-race son of an Aksumite princess and one of the most earnest, clever, fiercely courageous and altogether loveable young heroes in YA literature. The Lion Hunters and The Empty Kingdom continue Telemakos’s adventures as he grows toward manhood and finds his place in the world.

As in Megan Whalen Turner’s books, the Aksum series focuses on harsh political realities in a world where spies, assassins, and ambitious nobles abound; like Turner’s hero Gen, Telemakos becomes a key player in the great game. And as with Turner, it’s hard to say exactly what age range these books would be best for. They’re short enough (and Telemakos at least starts out young enough) for Middle Grade, but there are all kinds of nuances to the story and the relationships between characters that only a perceptive YA or adult reader is likely to pick up on. And for all the clarity of their prose, they’re simply too rich to digest in one narrative gulp: they’re the kind of books that not only reward, but practically demand, re-reading.

Be forewarned: if Code Name Verity made you gasp and cry, these books will devastate you in a whole new range of ways. But as all true fans of Elizabeth Wein know, the privilege of meeting her characters is worth all the pain their hardships make us feel. And no matter how long and rough the road they (and we) must travel, Wein never forgets to remind us of the things that make suffering bearable: the love of family and friends, the light of newfound wisdom, and somewhere in the near or far distance, a glimmer of hope.

Trust me. Read the Aksum books.


* (Seriously, do not even get me started on how much I love Priamos or how hard I ship him with Goewin. I could go on all day.)

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Thank you, R.J.! I love that you mentioned both Megan Whalen Turner and Gen in this post. I do hope your post manages to convince more readers to pick up EWein’s Lion Hunters books. 🙂

EWein Special Ops

EWein Special Ops: Introduction and How I Discovered Her Books

EWein Special Ops

I’m so glad that EWein Special Ops is here! EWein Special Ops is a blog event celebrating Elizabeth Wein’s wonderful novels. I have been a fan of her work for YEARS and I’ve been wanting to organize something like this for a while now. I’m glad I’m able to do it before the year ends. Watch out for guest posts from authors, fellow bloggers and fans throughout the week. On Twitter, I’m using the hashtag #EWeinSpecialOps if you want to keep track of tweets. If you’re interested in writing about anything related to EWein’s novels in your own blog at any point during this week, give me the link to the post and I’ll spread the word about it. As an aside, I love that I was able to find a picture of a younger EWein feeding a bird because I think it’s perfect for the event poster. I hope you all like it too.

Foxing The Sunbird

First page of my first copy of The Sunbird

To start things off, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about how I was introduced to EWein’s writing. I first found out about her back in 2008. That was before I had this book blog and at that time, I mostly got recommendations for the books that I read from Sounis, the LiveJournal community for fans of another author: Megan Whalen Turner (MWT). If you have been following my blog for a while, then you’re aware of how big a fan I am of MWT’s books. I even hosted a Queen’s Thief Week last year. So whenever someone recommends a book for readers who love MWT’s work, I sit up and pay attention. EWein’s Lion Hunter series kept being recommended in Sounis, by MWT herself, by R.J. Anderson (author of Knife, Ultraviolet, etc.) and other fellow Sounisians. I knew I had to get my hands on those books as soon as I could. When I went to the local bookstore in Manila to look for the books, I discovered that they only have copies of the last three books in the series: The Sunbird, The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom. I was assured that I could start the series with The Sunbird so this was fine with me. I fell in love with the book and with its main character, the young Telemakos. I read the other two books soon after and they further cemented EWein’s status as one of my favorite authors. I was sorry that The Winter Prince and A Coalition of Lions wasn’t available in the Philippines but luckily, I traveled to the States in 2009 and I was able to grab copies there.

I was ecstatic when I started hearing the buzz that EWein will be releasing Code Name Verity in 2012 because of course, I wanted more of her writing. I knew it was going to be an amazing book, even if it’s different from her Lion Hunter novels, and I was right. I fell just as hard for Verity’s story as I did for Telemakos’. I guess it goes without saying that I was delighted to hear about the release of Rose Under Fire this year and I will always be excited for any new EWein title that will come out in the future.

EWein my own copies

My copies of Elizabeth Wein’s books

That’s the story of how I discovered EWein’s writing, what’s yours? Were her books recommended by someone you trust or you just happened to come across them in the bookstore? Were you introduced to her work through her earlier Lion Hunter novels or through Code Name Verity? For those who first found out about her by reading Code Name Verity, did that make you more curious about the rest of her books? One of the reasons why I’ve wanted to host an EWein week on my blog is to spread the word about the Lion Hunter series because I really think it deserves more attention. And now the Lion Hunter books are readily available in ebook format from Open Road.

I will be traveling from Singapore to Manila today (yay, I’ll be home for Christmas!) so I won’t be able to reply to comments right away but I would love to hear from all of you.

Rose Under Fire US edition

Available for Pre-Order: EWein’s Lion Hunters Novels

A few months ago, Elizabeth Wein’s first two novels in the Lion Hunters series (The Winter Prince and A Coalition of Lions) were released in ebook format by Open Road Media. The next three books in the series (The Sunbird, The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom) are now available for pre-order! They will be available on December 17, just a few days away. I’m so glad these titles will be released as ebooks because it will be easier for more readers to give the books a try. If you’re a fan of Elizabeth Wein’s writing in Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire then I highly recommend that you read her Lion Hunters books as well.

I kind of feel like the synopsis for the latter three books give spoilers away so skip reading them if you would rather not know spoilery details before reading the novels. Here are links to the first two books if you want to order them (click on the images):

The Winter Prince ebookA Coalition of Lions ebook

Here are the rest of the books for pre-order:

The Sunbird ebookThe Lion Hunter ebookThe Empty Kingdom ebook

Reading order:
The Winter Prince
A Coalition of Lions
The Sunbird
The Lion Hunter
The Empty Kingdom

Or you can start with either A Coalition of Lions or The Sunbird and go from there. I love that the series now has matching covers! The printed editions of these had different cover artists so the covers didn’t match. I just finished rereading A Coalition of Lions for EWein Special Ops and I just started on The Sunbird – I’m almost afraid to continue because I know how difficult things will get for Telemakos.

EWein Special Ops

EWein Special Ops: December 21 to 28

First there was the Queen’s Thief Week:

Queen's Thief Badge

Then there was Marchetta Madness:

Marchetta Madness badge

In December, mark your calendars for EWein Special Ops:

EWein Special Ops

If it isn’t obvious yet, EWein Special Ops will be a week-long celebration of Elizabeth Wein’s novels including her Lion Hunters series, Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire. That pretty lady in the picture is a younger Elizabeth Wein. I thought the vintage photo would be perfect for the event’s poster. Fellow EWein fans, I hope you’re just as excited about this event as I am. For those who haven’t read any of her books, there’s plenty of time to catch up before December rolls around. 🙂

Now Available in Ebook: EWein’s A Winter Prince and A Coalition of Lions

The first two books in the Lion Hunters series, The Winter Prince and A Coalition of Lions, by Elizabeth Wein are now available in ebook format! You can check them out in Open Road’s website. EWein wrote these books way before Code Name Verity or Rose Under Fire were published. EWein might be more well-known for her WWII historical fiction novels but her Arthurian novels are just as amazing. The Lion Hunters books were the reason why I became such a huge fan of EWein’s writing. After I finished reading the series, she became an auto-buy author for me. I previously talked about why more people should read the Lion Hunters novels.

The Winter Prince ebookThe Winter Prince was previously out of print so I think it’s pretty cool that it’s now available as an ebook! Here’s the summary from Open Road’s website.

Strong, brave, and daring, Medraut would be a fitting heir to the throne—but he can never be king. Medraut is the eldest son of High King Artos, and would-be heir to the British throne—if not for an unfortunate circumstance of birth. Instead, his weak and unskilled half-brother, Lleu, is chosen as successor. Medraut cannot bear the thought of being ruled by the boy who has taken what he believes is rightfully his. Consumed by jealousy, he turns to Morgause, the high king’s treacherous sister, who exploits Medraut’s shame and plots to take over the throne. But when Medraut discovers Lleu’s inner strength and goodness, he finds his battle is not just with the kingdom, but with the demons inside himself. Now he must choose where his allegiances truly lie.

A Coalition of Lions ebookAnd here’s the summary for A Coalition of Lions from Open Road’s website:

Caught between two kingdoms, Princess Goewin must balance the demands of leadership with those of her own happiness

With her own kingdom in upheaval and her vicious aunt out for blood, Goewin, princess of Britain and daughter of High King Artos, flees to the British-allied African kingdom of Aksum. There, she meets with her fiancé, Constantine, Britain’s ambassador to Aksum, who is next in line for the throne of Britain. But Aksum is undergoing its own political turmoil, and Goewin soon finds herself trapped between two countries, with the well-being of each at stake. When she learns of another heir to the British throne, she must handle the precarious situation with great care—for the sake of her own happiness as well as for the safety of her people.

Grab copies now if you haven’t had a chance to read these. I think the covers look great, simple and yet still eye-catching. I think the images are a good fit to the stories inside as well. To those who are curious, the books in the series can be read out of order – you can start with any of the first three books: The Winter Prince, A Coalition of Lions and The Sunbird. But then the last two books, The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom, have to be read after The Sunbird. I hope that’s not too confusing! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the last three books will also be published in ebook format because they’re out of print, making it a little harder for me to push people to read them. One a side note, this series is one of the reasons why it made me happy to have a lion in my current header.

More People Should Read the Lion Hunters Series by EWein

Code Name Verity (CNV) by Elizabeth Wein was one of my favorite reads last year. I was actively promoting CNV even before it came out because I knew it was going to be amazing based on EWein’s previous novels – her Aksumite series called the Lion Hunters. Also, I was hoping that if CNV does well, then more readers will also pick up her other books and she can publish another novel in the series. I’m ecstatic at how well-received CNV has been – it has received awards and recognition that it deserves – but it looks like the Lion Hunters series still isn’t getting enough attention. I was expecting readers who fell in love with CNV to be curious about EWein’s other novels, especially since they’re all well-written historical fiction. It makes me sad that it hasn’t happened yet. Because I desperately want the next (is it going to be the final one?) book in the series to be published, I’m working on getting more readers to pick up these books! EWein said that the publication of the next book depends on reader support. Have you ever experienced reading a remarkable series and you’re astounded that so few readers are aware of it? That’s how I feel about this series.

The chronological order of the books is as follows:
The Winter Prince
A Coalition of Lions
The Sunbird
The Lion Hunter
The Empty Kingdom

The Winter PrinceA Coalition of LionsThe SunbirdThe Lion HunterThe Empty Kingdom

These novels are set in sixth century Aksum (Ethiopia) and I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel in that setting before. Readers new to the series can start with any of the first three books but the latter three books have to be read in order. Does that make sense? I read The Sunbird first and then The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom because those were the only ones available in Manila at that time. I was able to get copies of both The Winter Prince and A Coalition of Lions when I want to the States in 2009. All of the books in are wonderful but I love the latter three because they focus on my favorite character in the series: Telemakos. This half-British, half-Ethiopian boy is sneaky, clever and wise beyond his years. I also love his interactions with the rest of the characters in the series – the relationships in these novels are definitely complex, which shouldn’t be surprising since the novels have intelligent characters involved in political intrigue.

Telemakos_by_RosaleeLuAnn

Telemakos, as drawn by RosaleeLuAnn

The Winter Prince is an Arthurian retelling, with the story told from the point of view of Medraut (Mordred). So all Arthurian fans out there, that’s another reason for you to give this series a try. Here’s the summary of The Winter Prince from Goodreads:

Medraut is the eldest son of Artos, high king of Britain; and, but for an accident of birth, would-be heir to the throne. Instead, his younger half-brother, Lleu, is chosen to be prince of Britain. Lleu is fragile, often ill, unskilled in weaponry and statesmanship, and childishly afraid of the dark. Even Lleu’s twin sister, Goewin, seems more suited to rule the kingdom.

Medraut cannot bear to be commanded and contradicted by this weakling brother who he feels has usurped his birthright and his father’s favor. Torn and bitter, haunted by jealousy, self-doubt, and thwarted ambition, he joins Morgause, the high king’s treacherous sister, in a plot to force Artos to forfeit his power and kingdom in exchange for Lleu’s life. But this plot soon proves to be much more – a battlefield on which Medraut is forced to decide, for good or evil, where his own allegiance truly lies…

I’m posting only the summary to the first book in the series to avoid spoilers. To further convince readers to pick up the books, I compiled snippets from what other authors have to say about EWein’s the Lion Hunters. Here’s a tweet from Rachel Neumeier (author of House of Shadows, The City in the Lake, The Floating Islands):

RachelNeumeier_on_EWein

The next tweet exchange surprised me because Robin McKinley (author of The Blue Sword, Beauty, Pegasus and so many other fantastic novels) is one of my favorite authors of all time, and I had no idea that she helped EWein get published:

RobinMcKinley_on_EWein

Aside from these two lovely authors, Megan Whalen Turner (author of the Queen’s Thief series, you would know who she is if you’ve been following my blog for a while) is also a fan of EWein’s work. EWein even wrote a guest post for Queen’s Thief Week about the similarities and differences between Telemakos and Eugenides.

Another favorite author, Sherwood Smith (author of The Crown Duel, the Inda series, the Sasharia en Garde duology and the Wren series), said this about The Sunbird:

Intense, spare and vivid, this story builds, with subtle characterizations, and some sharply dramatic and painful moments.

I’ve recommended it to readers who like Megan Whalen Turner’s work, and heard back that this was a successful pairing.

If you’re a fan of these authors, their recommendations will probably be enough to make you curious about the books. 🙂 If you feel like we have similar tastes in books, then I have a feeling that this post will be enough to convince you to read at least one of the Aksumite novels. I wish I had my copies of these books here with me but unfortunately, they are all back home. Writing this post is making me want to reread the books. Have you read the Lion Hunters novels? Please help me spread the word about them if you have. I would also appreciate hearing your thoughts about the books, feel free to rave about them in the comments to encourage more readers.