EWein Special Ops: A Sense of Place

For the last guest post for EWein Special Ops, we have the Elizabeth Wein herself sharing something about her writing. Plus an exclusive artwork that hasn’t been published anywhere else before.

YAY, EWein! *claps enthusiastically*

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A Sense of Place
by Elizabeth Wein

I’m writing these words from Scotland, on the western edge of Europe. I don’t know where Chachic will be when she posts them for the world to read: Manila in the Philippines? Singapore? Somewhere on the Asian side of the Pacific Rim, anyway. I know for a fact that two of the contributors to this wonderful and flattering celebration of my books are based in the United States and one is based in Canada. Never mind the content of this week’s Book Nook postings—just think about the origins. What you’re reading here this week is coming from random points all around the world, and you’re reading it at a different random point somewhere else on the face of the global map. I think that’s pretty cool.

I am not a cartographer and I am not really a map nerd, but I have never written a novel—or even a short story—without referring to a map. A real one. I drew my own maps for my Aksum books, and I am extremely proud of them, especially the one of South Arabia which appears in The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom.

You can read the books without the maps, though. They don’t really matter, except in that they are a physical and visual manifestation of the setting. It is the sense of place that counts.

My favorite books have always been those that have a strong sense of place. When I think back to the fantasy writers who shaped my teenage reading, the ones that leap immediately to mind are Alan Garner, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Ursula K. LeGuin, and guess what? The books I loved best by these writers all include maps. Garner’s show a landscape based on a real place; Tolkien’s and LeGuin’s show imaginary countries, but that doesn’t make the settings for their fantasy worlds any less real in the context of their books. The world almost becomes a character in the novel itself. Setting shouldn’t just be there as a backdrop; a good sense of place will make a setting, fictionally speaking, into a living, breathing organism like our own planet, and the author’s love for and familiarity with the world of his or her creation guides us through the unfamiliar landscape like a virtual map.

The fictional worlds I love best stand on their own, even after the story’s characters have moved on to Westernesse or the Dry Land. You could set your own story in any of these places, celebrating the world the way fanfiction celebrates fictional characters.

ewein alderley edge 1984

That’s pretty much what I did with The Winter Prince. I set my first novel in the same landscape where Alan Garner set his first novel, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. Alderley, elder lea, Elder Field—“the Edge over Elder Field” is “Alderley Edge,” get it? To be fair, I claim some right to this landscape myself. I lived for a year in a house which still stands on the “site” of my fictional Arthurian “estate at Camlan.” My father read Garner’s Weirdstone aloud to me before I could read, under the shadow of the Edge itself, and this magical landscape got under my skin and stayed there. My ancestor did not carve the Wizard’s Well or design the stone circle there, as Alan Garner’s did; I do not have Garner’s blood right to that landscape. But as Lleu comments when Medraut shows him the rippled roof of the caves under the Edge for the first time (just as my father long ago showed them to me), “Dare anyone say he owns this?”

Lleu and Goewin’s fictional Elder Field of The Winter Prince is not Susan and Colin’s fictional Alderley of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, any more than Alan Garner’s childhood is my own. But Garner’s connection to the real world he lives in, and the way that connection shapes his imaginary fictional worlds, became a lifelong influence on my own writing.

It’s interesting how “place” can also influence the creative process as I’m shaping a story. When I was writing Code Name Verity, I reached a point where all I really wanted to do was write about Scotland, where I live now. None of the action of Code Name Verity took place in Scotland at that point, and there wasn’t any reason for it to. But I was letting my Scottish narrator have quite a bit of free rein with the telling, and there was much about her that I didn’t yet know, so I figured we could both write about Scotland for a while and see where it went. The scene-setting—with its branch line railway and haunted castle and the one flight in the book that I actually made myself—was sheer indulgence. The plot points that came out of it—a key character recruited to RAF Special Duties—were integral to the novel. I hadn’t seen either narrative device coming. But how wonderful, and amazing, that they can work together like that.

Goewin and Lleu. Artwork by EWein.

Goewin and Lleu. Artwork by EWein.

It seems appropriate, when so many people have come together from such immense distances to celebrate my work here, to have had this chance to celebrate and share with you some of my thoughts regarding the notion of place within the story.

I also want to thank Chachic for bringing together this stellar group of writers and readers and friends who have spent this holiday week, in various corners of the world, thinking and dreaming and writing about the worlds I have described in my books—some of them harsh, some surprising in their beauty, some embellished by my imagination, but all of them rooted in truth. It is just humbling to read your words of praise and encouragement. It means that my own words are not just being thrown out there into a vacuum. You are passing them on.

Happy new year to all readers all across this world!

With love & gratitude, E Wein

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Thank YOU, EWein! I love the sense of place that well-written books can give its readers. And I love maps in books. I even took a picture of the one inside The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom:

Lion Hunters map

This concludes EWein Special Ops. I hope you all had fun going through the posts. The giveaways are still open until next week, click here to check them out.

EWein Special Ops

EWein Special Ops: Guest Post by Tori

Tori is a longtime fan and friend of Elizabeth Wein. She has a series of sweaters inspired by Elizabeth Wein characters, several of which can be seen here. She is here today to talk about growing up as an EWein fan.

Please give Tori a warm welcome!

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I was thirteen when The Winter Prince came out; I read it because I was going on a field trip to a book reading. I’m not sure I was always so conscientious, but it was set in Arthurian England, and I was into King Arthur and Ancient Rome. I loved it. When I was fourteen, I was sure I wanted to be a writer. My mom, working magic as far as I could tell, called Elizabeth and asked if she wanted a teenage apprentice. I’m sure I wrote, but mostly, I remember reading lots, a rather eclectic list of things I almost definitely wouldn’t have picked up on my own (things like The Mabinogion, The Owl Service, and “The Wasteland.”) I sometimes joke that my taste has been formed by Elizabeth Wein, but I was fourteen and my brain was a sponge; it’s not that big a stretch. We fell a bit out of touch when she moved from Pennsylvania to England and then Scotland; it was before everyone had email, and I am a dreadful correspondent if stamps are required.

I waited patiently for A Coalition of Lions to come out. (I roll my eyes at George R. R. Martin fans when they complain about wait time between books. I waited ten years for Coalition.) At some point between books, I spent a month in Istanbul, and every time I looked at a mosaic I thought of Lleu, and Medraut telling him that he had to see the mosaics in Byzantium. I tried to make all my college friends read The Winter Prince, and it was frequently one of the books I read to decompress from reading too many philosophers.

A Coalition of Lions was the last time the release of one of Elizabeth’s books came out that surprised me. I was a senior in college, and I had checked Amazon randomly to see if it was ever coming out. And then, unable to wait for shipping, I started calling the bookstores I could walk to on foot to find out if they had it in stock and would put it on hold for me. I stayed up until four reading Coalition in a day. I finished, and I fished out an old email address I had written down and sent what was probably an only semi-coherent email, which reignited our correspondence.

Tori as Verity

Tori dressed as Verity for Halloween

Now, I am very lucky and get to be an early reader. I dressed up as Verity for Halloween three years ago, possibly before the Code Name Verity had a publisher. I had Ravensbrück dreams while I was reading Rose Under Fire. I’ve also had dreams about the possibly mythic Sword Dance, but no one took my books away from me when I had dreams about Sword Dance (I had dreamt I was going to be gassed in a concentration camp and woke up looking for more of Rose to read and was more bothered by the lack of book than by the dream; my friends made me promise to stop reading World War II novels for a while.)

There are little things from all of Elizabeth’s books that pop up for me. It seems fairly constant. There is an Ethiopian restaurant I can walk to from my house, and even if just eating Ethiopian food of injera didn’t make me think of Telemakos, they serve a wine called Aksum; the first time I realized that I made us order it on the principle of the name alone. I’ve made my own vanilla extract, and everytime I do, I think of Medraut. I assess every umbrella as “Useful in an air raid?” I’ve burst into tears, seeing a discarded ballpoint pen, free from the bank, on the sidewalk because it made me think of Maddie and her fabulous Eterpen. On my commutes to work, I listen to history podcasts and when I hit names and real historic facts that are in her books (particularly the Aksumite-Arthurian books) I have been known to yelp with excitement, even though I am surrounded by strangers who probably think I a bit mad.

I joked at the beginning that Elizabeth Wein has formed my taste. When The Winter Prince was released as a Kindle book, I was doing my very best EWein Facebook cheerleader and was virtually jumping up and down, trying to get my friends to read it again. Someone asked me what it was about. After giving my brief overview along the lines of “It’s a story about Mordred, set in England just after the Romans have left. He’s a dark anti-hero and his mother is a brilliant, scheming, thwarted queen. And it’s beautifully written.” And then I sat there and stared at those three sentences and said to myself, “You know, if someone were to write a book that were just for me and contained all of my favorite things, they would write The Winter Prince.

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Thank you, Tori! Sword Dance has to happen!

EWein Special Ops

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: Being Brave

Maureen is a library assistant who blogs at By Singing Light. Elizabeth Wein is one of her favorite authors and today, she talks about the theme of courage present in all of EWein’s novels.

Please join me in welcoming Maureen to EWein Special Ops!

By Singing Light

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“I AM A COWARD,” Verity says right at the beginning of her story. “I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was… But now I know that I am a coward.”

Of course, the truth is more complicated. In fact, one of the brilliant things about Code Name Verity is the way it shows you a character who claims to be one thing, a coward, while disproving that again and again. To be frank, thinking about her bravery, the sheer audacity of it, takes my breath away and moves me to tears at the same time.

But it’s not just Verity herself. There’s Marie, the French Resistance lassie, and Mitraillette and the rest of the Thibauts. There’s Anna Engel, risking her life every time she does not translate exactly what is written, giving Maddie a scarf. And Georgia Penn, speaking of audacity. Read her scene again and think about the courage it would take for both her and Verity to enact that careful dance of words and movements. There’s Maddie, finding the strength to do the hardest thing, and then to keep living afterwards. And there’s Queenie’s mother, leaving the window open.

(Pause to mop up.)

But bravery is a strand that runs through all of Elizabeth Wein’s books. In Rose Under Fire, there are not heroics in the usual sense, in the Verity sense. The bravery there is required to keep living, to stay human under circumstances that are designed to keep you from doing either. It’s perhaps quieter than Code Name Verity, but it is just as present and just as intense. Starving women standing for hours in the snow rather than giving each other up.

It’s in The Winter Prince, in Lleu struggling against sleep and Medraut struggling against the darkness in himself. It’s in A Coalition of Lions, in Goewin leaving Britain behind, setting out alone into the unknown. Certainly it’s in The Sunbird — like Verity, Telemakos leaves me breathless. And in The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom, he must find a different kind of courage to win through a situation that looks impossible.

It seems to me that in all of the books, courage is one of the markers that point us toward the moral characters. When so many of them occupy a morally grey area, it is a signpost that tells us who deserves our care. Von Linden and Anako fail their tests; they do not even have the bravery to do their own dirty work. (Von Linden is a much more complex character than Anako, but in a way that makes his failure greater.) Even Nick, in Rose Under Fire, doesn’t have the courage to wait for Rose. On the other hand, Anna Engel acts with courage, as does Medraut. It’s this quality that sets them on the other side of that line.

It’s worth noting that the kind of courage I’m talking about, the kind that these books value, is not the same as honor. It’s not even necessarily physical courage, although it can be (in The Sunbird, for example). It’s not limited by age — see Telemakos and Amelie Thibaut — or by gender — see EVERYONE. Not the courage to fight the war or fire the gun, but the courage to do what is right, to face darkness internal or external and not give in. It’s the strength to keep going, to fly the plane.

This courage is not found in isolation. The friendship at the heart of Code Name Verity is not an accident. Verity retells the story of Queenie-and-Maddie, the sensational team, precisely because it gives her strength. Outside of that bond, Mitraillette is the one who keeps Maddie together in those frightful first days after the bridge. For Rose, in Ravensbruck, it’s Irina and Roza especially, but the whole of Block 32, which “was really, really good at propping people up.” Even Telemakos in Abreha’s palace is driven by Athena, proves himself with the other palace children.

And it’s Goewin and Telemakos under the city, drawing pictures on each others’ hands to chase away the darkness. It’s not an accident that the image of hands keeps showing up, from Arthur’s hands on Medraut’s shoulders in The Winter Prince, to A Coalition of Lions. And again in Code Name Verity with Marie and Verity (“the backs of our hands were touching”); on the cover of the US edition; with a hand on Maddie’s shoulder while she flies. And yet again when Rose and Irina share that secret symbol of who they are: taran. Wein’s books consistently undermine the narrative of lone heroes: again and again, we see that we are saved in the company of others, that in the dark places the important thing is who stands beside you.

After all, that’s what stories — the best stories — are. A light to see by, a hand holding yours in the dark.

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Thank you, Maureen! I love that last line.

EWein Special Ops

EWein Special Ops: Giveaway (Ebook and Signed Copies)

Maligayang Pasko! 🙂 Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you’re all having a festive holiday season with your friends and family. Ours is more subdued than usual because my Lola (grandmother) passed away a few days ago and we spent Christmas at the funeral home.

EWein Special Ops

I hope you’re all enjoying the guest posts for EWein Special Ops so far? To celebrate the blog event, both Open Road Media and Elizabeth Wein have generously provided copies of her books to be given away during this week. I thought Christmas is the perfect day to bring up giveaways. The three copies are:

  • One ebook copy of either The Winter Prince or The Sunbird from Open Road Media (winner gets to choose)
  • One signed print copy of A Coalition of Lions from Elizabeth Wein
  • One signed print copy of The Sunbird from Elizabeth Wein

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow users to embed Rafflecopter widgets in free blogs so please click on the links instead:

The giveaways are open internationally and the winner will be chosen on January 2. Good luck and please spread the word about it!

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

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.