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: Artwork and Guest Post from RosaleeLuAnn

RosaleeLuAnn is a fellow member of Sounis. She’s an artist who makes fanart for some of the books that she loves (link to her Deviantart page). I’ve asked her to talk about the two pieces of art that she’s made related to Elizabeth Wein’s novels.

Welcome to EWein Special Ops, Rosie!


Telemakos by Rosie

The first and most obvious reason I made these fanart pieces is that I love Elizabeth Wein’s books – I loved The Winter Prince ever since I picked it up, and have enjoyed all of her books since. (I still haven’t got my hands on a copy of Rose Under Fire, though I plan to pick it up soon.)

Though The Winter Prince is still my favorite of Elizabeth Wein’s books, The Sunbird and Code Name Verity were very significant to me as well, which is why I think I felt driven to create some fanart for those books. Which is strange because reading these two books in particular was more painful than most reading experiences I put myself through.

I particularly remember the time I first read The Sunbird, there was a certain side of the couch with a lamp nearby where I would always sit to read – it was my spot. My roommates had all become used to me verbally reacting to what I read, sometimes very loudly, and usually completely oblivious to who was there or what was going on. Usually, it was laughter coming from that corner – around that time I was making my way through the Lord Peter Wimsey books, and Lord Peter says some funny, funny things, and when he does, I laugh. But anyway, as I was reading The Sunbird, my roommate came over to ask if I was OK. “I’m used to laughter from you while reading, but you weren’t laughing. It sounded like you were being repeatedly impaled by a spear.”

Oh, Telemakos. Why are you so awesome. It hurts.

Aside from just loving the books, there were a few other reasons for wanting to make the pictures. At the time I had just recently learned how to paint in Photoshop, and I wanted to experiment with painting something for fun. Also, Telemakos is just such an interesting-looking character, I wanted to see how he would come out if I tried to paint him.

Code Name Verity by Rosie

It wasn’t until years later that I made the Code Name Verity piece. I was actually still trying to learn how to paint in Photoshop (Illustrator is still my preference – vectors just make more sense to me, for whatever reason), though I had gained a little bit more experience by then. I was very rusty with painting and art in general because I had just served an 18 month mission in the Philippines (gusto ko talagang bumalik sa Pinas!) and hadn’t really done much other than sketching in that time. I read Code Name Verity and loved it, but again, like The Sunbird, it was a very painful (and completely wonderful!) book. I remember specifically wanting to find a happy scene to illustrate, one about the friendship that is the center of the story. I didn’t have anyone to be a model for the photo reference except myself, so thats the reason that the facial structure on both faces looks really similar. I also only had the vaguest idea of what they were supposed to be wearing and nothing really to use as a costume, so I completely made that up. Also, I didn’t have a tablet, so I painted it with the little mouse pad thingy you use on laptops instead. All I wanted was to have fun making a piece of fanart for myself, it was extremely satisfying when others, including Elizabeth herself, liked what I did.


Thank you, Rosie! I think you did a great job with both of these pieces. I wish I was as artistic as you are.

EWein Special Ops

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

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, 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):


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:


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.

Queen’s Thief Week: Guest Post by Elizabeth Wein

I first heard about Elizabeth Wein from Sounis. I was thrilled when I discovered that her books are locally available, read The Sunbird and labeled Telemakos, the main character, as Gen-in-Africa. Elizabeth Wein is an under-the-radar author who deserves to get more attention. Seriously, I don’t understand why readers aren’t picking up her books, even Megan Whalen Turner herself recommends them. Code Name Verity, her latest novel about two Women’s Auxiliary Air Force girls set during World War II, has already been released in the UK and will be released in the US this May. Check out what Elizabeth Wein has to say about the similarities and differences between Telemakos and Eugenides.

Looking Together in the Same Direction

(fairly spoiler free except for the great big obvious ones!)

I first heard of The Thief through a review—a very good one—in The Horn Book Magazine. Since I moved to the UK, The Horn Book has been my number one source of new good reading in the North American children’s book scene, and the summary of The Thief pushed all my buttons. I knew I’d like it.

And I did. What I really loved about it was the way that after you’d finished, you had to go back and read it a second time because now you had a different point of view about everything—you saw how Gen had planned all the things you thought had happened by accident—you noticed how important the little things were, and you watched for them. His bad manners were no longer simply annoying or funny, his long hair was no longer simply a vanity; now you knew it was all part of his arsenal.

This is really my favourite kind of book, where everything looks different on the second reading (most of my own books are constructed this way, in the hope that someone will be tempted to give them a second reading!). You can read a book like this more than once without even feeling self-indulgent, because you are reading a different book the second time around. One of the moments of great genius of The Queen of Attolia is near the beginning, where Moira, the servant of the goddess Hephestia, visits the Queen and advises her. The first time you read it, you don’t realize it is not a human advisor. Yet knowing it is Moira changes the entire significance of the terrible thing that is about to happen to Gen. It isn’t just his destiny: it is the right destiny for him, whether he likes it or not.

My admiration for Megan Whalen Turner’s books stems from my own personal preferences in plot structure and setting, and our books have often been compared—Chachic herself promotes my books to MWT fans by trying to package them as ‘Gen-in-Africa’. It’s true that my character Telemakos shares some of Gen’s characteristics—he is a tricky, highly-connected brat raised in a messed-up but loving aristocratic family with royal connections. Telemakos, like Gen, is rather more highly-connected than most people realize. And both characters inhabit a rather exotic fantasy world based on our own ancient civilizations. Having said that, Telemakos is Telemakos and Gen is Gen. Their situations are alike, but I don’t think their characters are much alike. Telemakos lacks Gen’s vanity, for one thing, and probably Gen’s ambition as well. He has his own set of flaws and strengths.

I wrote The Sunbird about 5 years after reading The Thief, and I was very conscious that the two books had similar premises and that readers might be likely to compare them (in The Sunbird, 11-year-old Telemakos is enlisted as a child spy). So I made sure that whatever other sneaky things he did, Telemakos would not be a thief. He even says so, rather coldly, at one point when his emperor suggests he consider sleight-of-hand as a means of proof. This all falls apart at the end of The Empty Kingdom when he does steal something rather important. But there is a cultural precedent which I did not make up that leads him to this action, and a whole lot of backstory set up to make it the obvious thing for him to do. When he comes face to face with the king he has cheated—not the same one as in The Sunbird—he gets instantly accused, ‘You told me once that you are not a thief!’

Megan Whalen Turner was one of the first readers for The Sunbird—Sharyn November, my editor, is a friend of MWT’s and sent her a copy of the manuscript. She made a few small editorial suggestions and I decided against following them because they seemed to me things that were characteristic of Megan Whalen Turner’s writing, but not of Elizabeth Wein’s. So we maintained a cordial but very distant relationship, all our communication brokered by a third party! She was busy with her writing and her young family, and I was busy with mine.

(spoiler warning for The Queen of Attolia and The Lion Hunter)
Halfway through writing The Lion Hunter, I read The Horn Book review of The Queen of Attolia. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Megan Whalen Turner had a new book out, a sequel to The Thief, and in it her hero got his hand cut off.

I’d just spent about six months adjusting to the fact that my own young hero Telemakos had just lost an arm.

It made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. It was such a ridiculous coincidence, that we’d both disable our heroes in the same way. (end of spoilers) And of course, since MWT had done it first, it was going to look like I got the idea from her. And also of course, I knew I was going to love this book, too. It took me a while to decide whether or not I’d read it right away—I didn’t want to be influenced by it. But after only a week or two I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait till I’d finished writing my own book before I read the new one by MWT.

So I did. And I was glad I did. Because I knew now that our superficially similar heroes were going in their own directions, following their own terrible destinies, and living their own action-packed and exhausting lives.

I confess that I haven’t read A Conspiracy of Kings, and the reason for that is exactly the same reason I dithered over picking up The Queen of Attolia. I am worried that once again our creative intrigue is going to overlap. Lleu, the legitimate heir to my own quasi-historical kingdom, has been installed as a slave in a hedge-lord’s court since the publication of a short story called ‘Fire’ in 1993 in Writers of the Future Vol. IX. The story of how Telemakos finds him and restores him to his kingdom… Well, I have no doubt it won’t resemble the search for Sophos. But I’d just as soon keep myself in blissful ignorance until my own manuscript is safely in the hands of a reliable editor.

Megan Whalen Turner is my hero and my advocate. She has championed my own books, in print and on line, without ever having met me or spoken to me; our body of written work runs nearly parallel in terms of output. Apparently we both procrastinate with knitting needles. It’s a pleasure to join this celebration of her exquisitely crafted novels!

I’ll finish off with a reading recommendation that I haven’t seen here yet, and which anyone who is a committed fan of MWT ought to consider must-reads: the books of Mary Renault. Specifically, to begin with, I’d recommend The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea, which are about the Greek hero Theseus, his defeat of the Minotaur and his doomed marriage to Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons (or King, as her courtiers call her). Seriously, you guys WILL LOVE these books. The King Must Die in particular is a gripping tale of not-quite-doomed youth fighting against a corrupt older generation and winning. The writing is beautiful and if Telemakos is Gen-in-Africa, then Theseus is, well, Gen-in-Ancient-Greece.

Mary Renault’s Alexander trilogy—about the life of Alexander the Great—would probably also appeal. These titles are Fire from Heaven, The Persian Boy, and Funeral Games. Fire from Heaven, about Alexander’s childhood, is probably my favourite. It has the bonus appeal of featuring Hephaestion, Alexander’s lifelong friend and soulmate.

Happy reading!

Thank you for the guest post and the recommendations, EWein! I am mighty curious about this Gen-in-Ancient-Greece character that you speak of. I suspect several Sounisians have already read Elizabeth Wein’s novels. If you haven’t picked them up, what are you waiting for? Are there any other characters out there that remind you of our favorite Thief? I know Tiegirl from Sounis calls Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan as Gen-in-Space.

The Mark of Solomon by Elizabeth E. Wein

I think we’ve safely established that I’m a book pusher and there’s nothing I enjoy promoting more than under-the-radar books. I am constantly amazed that so many excellent books don’t get the attention that they deserve. I reviewed The Sunbird by Elizabeth E. Wein last year, hoping that more people would read her books but I haven’t been that successful because I haven’t seen reviews of that book in the past year. Also, it makes me sad that The Sunbird is now out of print. So now I feel like I need to talk about The Mark of Solomon, the duology that comes after The Sunbird, because the blogosphere seriously needs to show more Elizabeth E. Wein love.

Here’s the summary for The Lion Hunter, the first book in The Mark of Solomon duology, from the author’s website:

It is the sixth century in Aksum, Africa. Twelve-year-old Telemakos — the half Ethiopian grandson of Artos, King of Britain — is still recovering from his ordeal as a government spy in the far desert. But not all those traitors have been accounted for. Before Telemakos is fully himself again, tragedy and menace strike; for his own safety he finds himself sent, with his young sister, Athena, to live with Abreha, the ruler of Himyar — a longtime enemy of the Aksumites, now perhaps a friend. Telemakos’s aunt Goewin, Artos’s daughter, warns him that Abreha is dangerous, a man to watch carefully. Telemakos promises he will be mindful — but he does not realize that Goewin’s warnings will place him in more danger than he ever imagined.

I’ve already dubbed Telemakos as Gen-in-Africa so that should serve as enough encouragement for all Megan Whalen Turner fans out there. I originally found out about these books from Sounis, back when I didn’t have a blog and I got most of my recommendations from that community. If you have no idea what I’m talking about (shame on you!), Gen is the main character in the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner and he’s all kinds of awesome. Telemakos is young but he’s wise beyond his years. His upbringing as a half-British, half-Aksumite noble and his innate curiosity has landed him right smack in the middle of political intrigue involving several countries. I find it ironic that he has such a striking physical appearance – cinnamon-colored skin, bright blue eyes and pale hair – and yet he excels in subtlety. A line from page 11 reads: “Oh, the wealth of intrigue you heard when no one imagined you were listening.”

Elizabeth E. Wein is not afraid of letting her characters suffer and even though I’ve known from the start that Telemakos is as brave as they come, my heart goes out to him whenever something terrible happens. *huggles Telemakos* He also kept surprising me with how intelligent his strategies were. Sorry for being vague but he kept being thrown into situations where he had to make the most out of his wits if he wanted to keep himself and everyone he cares for out of harm. Also, the secondary characters in these books? They’re all so smart and complex and they keep readers guessing. You never know who’s really trustworthy. Which also paves the way for complicated relationships between the characters. I love that you can feel the love and respect that the characters have for each other but their interactions are never simple.

The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom should be read together because the first book ends on a major cliffhanger. I heard that they’re actually just one book that was split by the publisher, I have no idea why. The Sunbird is the first book about Telemakos and The Mark of Solomon duology continues with his journey. They’re historical fiction books set in Aksum (ancient Ethiopia), Africa but there’s a hint of Arthurian legend in them as well. Telemakos is actually the son of Medraut (Mordred) and the grandson of Artos (Arthur). So if you’re a fan of historical fiction or Arthurian tales or you just want to read books with excellent worldbuilding, multi-faceted characters and plots riddled with conspiracies then you should pick these up as soon as you can. And spread the word about them when you’re done reading.

Other reviews:
Blogging for a Good Book
By Singing Light
Sherwood Smith

The Sunbird by Elizabeth E. Wein

Retro Friday is a meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville. I thought I’d give it a try this week. I first heard about Elizabeth E. Wein from Sounis members, the LJ community for Megan Whalen Turner (MWT) fans. If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you know that I’m a huge MWT fan and I was sold as soon as someone said that the main protagonist of The Sunbird reminded them of Gen from MWT’s books. Not a lot of people know about Elizabeth E. Wein’s books and I hope to change that with this post.

Here’s the summary from Elizabeth E. Wein’s website:

Telemakos is the grandson of two noble men: Kidane, member of the imperial parliament in the African kingdom of Aksum, and Artos, the fallen High King of Britain. He is also a remarkable listener and tracker, resolute and inventive in his ability to hide in plain sight.

Now his aunt Goewin, Britain’s ambassador to Aksum, needs his skill. Deadly plague has overtaken her own country; in order to keep Aksum safe, the emperor has accepted Goewin’s advice and declared a quarantine. No one is allowed to enter or leave—yet, even with this precaution, disease and death continue to spread.

A desperate Goewin sets Telemakos a task. Alone, he must travel to Afar, where salt—the currency of sixth century Africa—is mined, and discover who has been traitor to the crown, defying the emperor’s command, spreading plague as the salt is shipped from port to port. This challenge will take all of Telemakos’s skill and strength, his ability to stay silent, and extraordinary courage; if he fails, it will cost him his life.

Ms. Wein blends Arthurian legend and sixth century Ethiopian history in her books. Telemakos, the main protagonist of this book, is the son of Medraut (Mordred, Arthur’s son). If you’re a fan of Arthurian novels, I definitely recommend Ms. Wein’s novels. But even if you aren’t, I still recommend them! I haven’t read a lot of Arthurian books and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Telemakos is such a talented child and so mature for his age. There were times when I was reading the book that I couldn’t believe he’s just a young boy. He’s a very curious person so he trained himself to be stealthy and this skill has earned him a dangerous task. This book only has around two hundred pages but all of those pages are packed with a gripping story and you won’t be able to let go until you finish the entire thing. I’m still amazed at how vibrant this story is for its length.

As with most of my favorite books, the characters in this one stand out. I remember that a member of Sounis calls Miles Vorkosigan as Gen-in-Space and I remember that Telemakos was labeled as Gen-in-Africa. Here are some of their similarities: they come from noble families, they’re both trained in stealth, they’re both highly intelligent individuals with a certain skill set and both MWT and Ms. Wein are not afraid to make their characters go through very difficult situations. I’m going to stop there because I don’t want to reveal any spoilers but rest assured that the secondary characters in this book are just as interesting as Telemakos is.

The Sunbird can be read on its own but I think it’s better to have the Mark of Solomon duology on hand because those are the next books that feature Telemakos: The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom. After reading The Sunbird, you’re going to want more of Telemakos and the rest of the characters in this book.