The first book of The Tale of Shikanoko arrives on US shores today, and Emperor of the Eight Islands comes on waves of praise. During its Australian publication a few weeks ago, it was hailed in the mainstream press—The Sydney Morning Herald wrote, “It is easy to let the book sweep the reader away, to engage with strange events, but very compelling characters…there is huge imaginative vitality.”—and the, um, geek media, too—here’s The Geek of Oz: “Emperor of the Eight Islands is masterstroke for Lian Hearn…you’ll want the next book in front of you right now.”
For the record, we’re doing our very best to get the next book in front of you right now. The first book comes out today; the second, Autumn Princess, Dragon Child, will be out the first week of June; and the whole series—all four books—will be available by the end of September. (Yes, in true FSG Originals fashion, it’s not just the books themselves that are an adventure, it’s the publications, too.)
In the meantime, we have more waves or praise to share with you. The advance reviews have been glowing—“magically seductive” says Kirkus and “Hearn’s new series is off to an exciting and promising start” says Booklist—as has the early online buzz—see, for instance, this Raging Biblioholism post (“There’s magic, romance, political intrigue, and more. I’m excited by the promise of further adventures – and I’m definitely thankful they’re coming out this year.”) or @hscrossnyc’s tweets here and here. And in the world of bricks and mortar, Barnes & Noble is taking a definite stand:
It envelops you on page one and continues to deepen at a breakneck pace, building a compelling plot out of lush, lived history…A truly epic tale, one that delivers compelling action, fascinating detail, and an affecting love story to boot. With characters that feel like real people, struggling to choose the right path in a morally ambiguous world, this is the sort of fantasy that will inspire dedicated fandom.
And we haven’t even shared with you the writers who are raving about Shikanoko…
There’s Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore:
“This kind of story, written with this kind of craft, has become rare. There are fugitive royals and evil monks; there is forest magic and high politics. The swords all have names. There’s a name for this genre, even if you don’t see the label stuck to shelves much anymore. The word for The Tale of Shikanoko is: adventure!”
Kelly Luce, author of Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail and the forthcoming Pull Me Under (and who also had a long, fascinating discussion with Lian Hearn in Work in Progress about Emperor of the Eight Islands):
“Lian Hearn has written a one-of-a-kind epic series brimming with spirits, demons, and warriors. The story is as deeply imagined and immersive as it is addictive. One doesn’t know whether to give in to the desire to turn the pages as quickly as possible or to linger and savor Hearn’s crystalline prose and striking emotional observations. Hearn’s characters grab you by the hand on page 1 and whisper, ‘Follow me.’ It’s a pleasure to obey.”
And Toby Barlow, author of Sharp Teeth and Babayaga:
Powerful and (be forewarned) very addictive, it doesn’t so much transport you as it changes the composition of your atmosphere, causing a subliminal supernatural crackling in the air. Magic, humor, adventure, fun—these tales have all of the nutrition of Game of Thrones and none of the fat, sliced down to its hypnotic, lyrical essence with a steely efficiency. Seriously, this is what stories are supposed to do, make life itself more exciting. When you’re done reading this you will be walking on the balls of your feet, ready to take on all the magic that infuses the world around you.
Thank goodness we finally got a Game of Thrones reference! But you’ll be hearing more from all these writers later…
Still not convinced? You’re tough. Well, we can tell you the books are drop-dead gorgeous…you can read more about that on Lit Hub in “How to Draw a Dragon.” Still not enough? Hmm. You can try to win a free copy?