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Janny Wurts

Janny Wurts is an award winning artist whose paintings have been showcased in exhibitions of imaginative artwork, including a commemorative exhibition for NASA’s 25th Anniversary. She creates the cover art for her own books. She also has won many awards as a bagpiper, and is an accomplished equestrian. You can read and listen to excerpts of Janny Wurts’ books, and lots of other interesting information (including tips for aspiring writers) at her website. Read John’s interview with Janny Wurts and Will’s chat with her at Capricon XXVIII.

Click here for more stories by Janny Wurts.

John Chats With Janny Wurts

John interviewed Janny Wurts, author of the epic The Wars of Light and Shadow. Please find synopses, cover art, and our reviews of Ms Wurts' novels here.

Where do you find your inspiration to write? Some authors speak of societal issues, others of epic conflict between good and evil. What inspires you?

If I could answer that, I’d be a formula writer….no, seriously! This is a difficult question, because keeping what inspires me fresh is a constant challenge. I don’t seem to do the same story twice. If I examine an issue, it has to be from a totally new perspective each time, or else taking a contrary stance, where things may not be as they seem at first glance.

Differences fascinate me ...

Read More

Will Chats with Janny Wurts at Capricon XXVIII

FanLit thanks Will Daniels for this contribution to our site!

I enjoyed meeting and chatting with Janny Wurts at Capricon XXVIII.

Janny is an amazing woman — a self-made artist and author who's been in the business since 1981. The impression I received from talking to Ms. Wurts was that she is a true fantasy geek. She writes for us, not just for profit.

I caught up with Janny toward the end of the day on Saturday while she was signing autographs for her fans. Scott Kuntzelman brought about 12 books for her to sign; They were all for him! When I asked him his favorite he said, without hesitation, Circle of Fire because "It's like you exist in the worlds she creates. She uses so much detail that it's easy to get lost in them and become a part of the story." Kat Crowder, another fan, stated that "the storie... Read More

Sorcerer’s Legacy: A fun stand-alone fantasy

Sorcerer's Legacy by Janny Wurts

Sorcerer's Legacy is the first book written by Janny Wurts and it's a wonderful breath of fresh air because it’s a self-contained story. Much of modern fantasy seems bent of many volumes and epic scope while Legacy is content to be a single volume and a complete story.

It is essential to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship that Wurts puts into her writing and for one familiar with her more recent works, this novel is just plain fun. The storyline follows a female main character, Elienne, whose life has been destroyed. Her husband is dead, the Kingdom they ruled has been conquered and she is about to be victimized by the conquerors.

From such difficult circumstances we are lead to a whole new world where Elienne is given a chance to start again. This new world is fraught will magic and ... Read More

Stormwarden: It’s a great time to be an audiobook reader!

Stormwarden by Janny Wurts

This is a great time to be an audiobook reader! I’ve said often recently that I’m so pleased with Audible Frontiers for bringing us some older fantasy literature on audio, and this month their UK production team released Stormwarden, the first novel of Janny Wurts’ THE CYCLE OF FIRE trilogy which was first published in 1984.

Having greatly enjoyed Wurts’ stand-alone novel To Ride Hell’s Chasm, and knowing how several of my fellow FanLit reviewers feel about her THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW saga, I’ve been waiting and hoping to find one of her epics on audio. So when Audible Frontiers UK released Stormwarden, I snapped it up within a few hours.

Stormwarden is a coming-of-age story that focuses on three youth (Jaric, Emien, and Taen) who get ca... Read More

Keeper of the Keys: I’m expecting an exciting finale

Keeper of the Keys by Janny Wurts

In this second episode of THE CYCLE OF FIRE, Ivainson Jaric witnesses some crucial history: how his father the Firelord and Anskiere the Stormwarden, both Vaere-trained sorcerers, bound the demons at Elrinfaer; how his father went mad and betrayed Anskiere; and how, though the demons were eventually bound, the land was destroyed in the process. Jaric also receives forewarnings, in the form of visions, of what the future will hold if he does not master his powers to help Taen and Anskiere subdue the rising demonkind who have now recruited Emien, Taen’s brother, as one of their leaders.

Keeper of the Keys is a "middle book," so much of the plot involves Jaric’s gradually increasing realization and conviction that he can no longer deny the world the talents he was given as Firelord’s heir, even though he risks the madness that his father suffered. Thou... Read More

Shadowfane: Action-packed and exciting finale

Shadowfane by Janny Wurts

Shadowfane, the concluding volume of Janny Wurts’ THE CYCLE OF FIRE trilogy is an action-packed and exciting finale.

As humankind is being destroyed by demons (who we now know are aliens) Jaric has realized that he has no choice but to brave the Cycle of Fire. If he succeeds, this trial will gain him the powers of a Firelord, but he risks the destructive madness that afflicted his father.

The action never lets up and, along the way, there are plenty of wins and losses and lots of heart-breaking suffering for all of our heroes — especially Jaric, Taen, Taen’s mother, Corley, and the Kielmark.

There are also emotional displays of courage, grace, hope, faith, forgiveness, and love — themes which I appreciate in fantasy literature and miss in the writings of a few recently popular authors. The ending of Shadowfane Read More

Daughter of the Empire: Life on the other side of the rift

Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts

THE EMPIRE CYCLE is the second trilogy set in Raymond E. Feist’s (and in this case Janny Wurts’) Riftwar universe. Readers of the RIFTWAR SAGA (the first trilogy by publication date) will know all about the world of Midkemia and its war with the otherworldly Kelewan. Daughter of the Empire (1987) takes place entirely in Kelewan and so offers a new insight into the Riftwar universe, from the other side of the rift. Readers familiar with the earlier works will enjoy spotting the veiled references to familiar events and characters, but these are not central to Daughter of the Empire, which can e... Read More

Servant of the Empire: Intense and exciting middle book

Servant of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts

Note: May contain spoilers for the previous book, Daughter of the Empire.

Servant of the Empire (1989) is the second novel of the EMPIRE TRILOGY which is set in Raymond E. Feist’s RIFTWAR world and co-authored by Janny Wurts. This story takes place in the Tsurani empire which is an enemy to the Midkemian heroes of the RIFTWAR SAGA (e.g., Pug, Tomas, Prince Lyan). Some of the RIFTWAR characters appear, or are mentioned, in THE EMPIRE TRILOGY, but it’s not necessary to have read RIFTWAR first. However,... Read More

Mistress of the Empire: An emotionally satisfying ending

Mistress of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist & Janny Wurts

Mistress of the Empire (1989) is the final book in Raymond E. Feist and Janny WurtsEMPIRE TRILOGY. It’s an exciting, emotional, dramatic, and ultimately satisfying end to the story. Please don’t read it before you read Daughter of the Empire and Servant of the Empire. (And please note that this review will contain spoilers for those two previous novels.)

At the end of the second book in the trilogy, Servant of the Empire... Read More

The Master of Whitestorm: An excellent stand-alone

The Master of Whitestorm by Janny Wurts

As The Master of Whitestorm starts off, Haldeth, a blacksmith turned galley slave, gets involved in an escape attempt by his bench mate, a mysterious and silent man who quickly proves to have surprising skills and hidden depths. After the two companions escape, they strike out together, and the mysterious man, whose name turns out to be Korendir, takes on a number of mercenary missions. It quickly becomes clear that Korendir is, to put it lightly, very focused on gathering enough money to build an impregnable fortress on the cliffs of Whitestorm...

This standalone novel is another excellent example of Janny Wurts' gorgeous prose style and entrancing story-telling. Initially an episodic story, consisting of a number of separate "missions" Korendir undertakes, the book gradually reveals an underlying thread that explains Korendir's distinctive persona... Read More

The Curse of the Mistwraith: Astounding depth

The Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts

The Curse of the Mistwraith took me completely by surprise. Based on (obviously mistaken) assumptions, I expected something completely different — epic fantasy, yes, but nothing even close to the gorgeous prose and astounding depth I found in this novel.

The plot of this story is hard to summarize, partly because there are so many twists and turns that it's almost impossible not to run into spoiler territory very quickly. Two half-brothers, Arithon and Lysaer, are on opposite sides of a conflict that spans generations. As they become involved in the struggle against the Mistwraith that keeps the world of Athera in a stranglehold, the reader quickly realizes that the half-brothers' conflict doesn't just go back generations, but literally ages.

The Curse of the Mistwraith is old-fashioned, in a good way: rather than the st... Read More

The Ships of Merior: No excuse not to read it

The Ships of Merior by Janny Wurts

The Ships of Merior is the first part of Arc 2 of THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW, the incomparable epic fantasy series by Janny Wurts. The novel was originally released in 1994, and has most recently been re-released by HarperCollins Voyager in a lovely mass market paperback edition, featuring brand new artwork by the author herself. This is the first US paperback edition of the novel in at least 7 years. Further novels in the series will be re-released in late 2009 and throughout 2010, in anticipation of the next novel in the series, Initiate's Trial, in late 2010.

If it's been a while since you've read the first book in the series, you'll find the important events of that novel recapped early in the novel, not in the form of a summary but rather as an integral part of the story, usually seen from a different perspective ... Read More

Warhost of Vastmark: Quickly becoming one of my favorites

Warhost of Vastmark by Janny Wurts

Warhost of Vastmark by Janny Wurts takes up directly where The Ships of Merior left off. The two books are definitely meant to be read back to back — together they comprise Arc 2 of the author's THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW series, and some editions actually combine both of them in one cover.

It's hard to give many details of the story without throwing in spoilers for The Ships of Merior, so I'll just say that the ongoing conflict between Arithon and Lysaer, which reached a seeming climax at the end of The Ships of Merior, actually balloons to even larger proportions and reaches a stunning high point at the end of the novel. The book contains a hilarious moment of hijinx (the "triple the... Read More

Fugitive Prince: Another excellent installment in one of the best fantasy series

Fugitive Prince by Janny Wurts

Fugitive Prince is the fourth novel in THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW by Janny Wurts, but because of the series' unique structure, it's actually the start of a brand new "arc" inside the overall story: book 1 comprises the first arc, books 2 and 3 together are the second arc, and the third arc consists of books 4 through 8 (the first of which is Fugitive Prince). Looking forward, the forthcoming 9th novel, Initiate's Trial, will be the first of 2 books in the 4th arc, and the 11th and final novel will also be the final arc.

If you're keeping track, all of this means that the series' 5 arcs have a nicely symmetrical 1-2-5-2-1 structure, and also that, just in case you're not familiar with this truly excellent series yet, you still have the amazing opportunity to read the first 3 arcs, which ar... Read More

Grand Conspiracy: Excellent epic fantasy

Grand Conspiracy by Janny Wurts

It gets harder and harder to review each subsequent novel in Janny Wurts’ excellent epic fantasy series THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW without either repeating yourself or including spoilers for earlier volumes. My previous reviews have highlighted the series’ complexity, level of detail, deep characterization, gorgeous prose, and inventive descriptions of magic. All of those positives can again be found in Grand Conspiracy, the fifth book in the overall series and second in the Alliance of Light arc.

So, what’s left to say? Grand Conspiracy will not disappoint anyone who has read the previous four novels in the series. As a matter of fact, if (like me) you felt that the previous installment, Fugitive Prince, moved more slowly than the first three books in the series, because as the fi... Read More

Peril’s Gate: Unforgettable!

Peril’s Gate by Janny Wurts

Peril’s Gate picks up right where Grand Conspiracy left off: Arithon is once again on the run, pursued by an Alliance of Light army led by its Lord Commander, Sulfin Evend, and his half-brother Lysaer. The Koriani enchantresses are also still trying to capture Arithon, with Elaira forced to walk a precarious line between betraying her order and helping her beloved. In Arithon’s desperate bid to stay ahead and stay alive, he receives help from Earl Jieret’s war band, an elite force but one surely not strong enough to prevail against the vast forces of the Alliance of Light. The Fellowship of Seven is unable to lend much assistance, as they are scrambling to keep Athera from falling apart... but help may still reach Arithon from an unexpected — and maybe unwelcome — direction...

Parts of Peril’s Gate have the same ... Read More

Traitor’s Knot: You’re in for a wild ride

Traitor's Knot by Janny Wurts

With every new book in the WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW series by Janny Wurts, it gets harder and harder to write a review without either including massive spoilers for previous volumes or simply repeating the praise already heaped on it in earlier reviews. There are only so many variations on “gorgeous prose,” “intricate world-building,” “deep characterization,” “the books are consistently excellent” and so on. It’s especially hard to avoid spoilers for Traitor’s Knot, given that it’s the fourth book in a five book “arc”, and that arc itself is the third of five such arcs within the series.

Previous volumes in the WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW series often included a subtle way to review past events woven into the actual story, often seen from a new perspective or with an added new twist. Traitor... Read More

Stormed Fortress: Intellectually challenging, incredibly rewarding

Stormed Fortress by Janny Wurts

Stormed Fortressis the eighth novel in the WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW series by Janny Wurts, and the fifth and final novel in the Alliance of Light sub-arc. I’ve reviewed every novel in the series so far, and all of those reviews have been extremely positive, so by now it’s probably no secret that I’m a huge fan of these books and their author. That being said, Stormed Fortress is an outstanding novel even by the incredibly high standards of this series.

The conflict between the half-brothers Lysaer and Arithon continues unabated. The fortress mentioned in the book’s title is Alestron, home of the s’Brydion family which has played such a large and complex role in the conflict between Lysaer, the false avatar of the Light, and Arithon, the Master of Shadow. Lysaer leads the forces of his Alliance of Light to the s’Brydions’ doors... Read More

Initiate’s Trial: Epic high fantasy at its finest

Initiate’s Trial by Janny Wurts

Janny Wurts’s latest novel in the WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW, Initiate’s Trial, is another rock-solid installment in what has become one of my favorite series. Janny’s use of the English language, her ability to sculpt characters with concepts and characteristics that make them live and her continuing commitment to solid storytelling make her work some of the best ever. Initiate’s Trial is a perfect example of why her books are always worth the wait.

As often happens in a series, there are elements of the plot that have happened in between books. In this case, Arithon has been placed under the custody of the Koriathian Sisterhood, loathsome spiders, to continue the process of freeing Athera from the lasting threat of the Mistwraith. Janny does a superlative job of not just describing the process that it tak... Read More

Destiny’s Conflict: Overflowing with vistas both grand and horrifying

Destiny’s Conflict by Janny Wurts

The wait for each installment in Janny Wurts’ THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW series can be pretty long and grueling. Wurts is a Mastercraftsman and the amount of labor she puts into telling her story is evident in the finished product. She never fails to find the perfect (and often uncommon) adjective to paint a vivid and precise picture of what is happening in her story. Each of Wurts' meticulously-crafted novels is absolutely worth the wait!

Please note that Destiny’s Conflict is the tenth book in the WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW series (the second book of Arc IV: SWORD OF THE CANON). New readers will want to start at the beginning of THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW with The Curse of the Mistwraith Read More

To Ride Hell’s Chasm: One heck of a ride!

To Ride Hell's Chasm by Janny Wurts

At the start of To Ride Hell's Chasm, an outstanding standalone fantasy by Janny Wurts, Princess Anja of the tiny isolated kingdom of Sessalie has gone missing on the eve of the ceremony for her betrothal to the Crown Prince of Devall. Since Anja is beloved by her people, and the alliance with Devall represents potentially big trade increases, it doesn't take long for many people to be involved in the search, from Mykkael, a foreign-born former mercenary now in charge of the city's garrison, to Taskin, the military commander for the kingdom.

Over 650 pages covering about 5 days, Janny Wurts delivers a story filled with almost non-stop action that's at times impossible to put down. One of the odd and wonderful things about this novel is the contrast between the tight pacing and the lush language. Again, those 650 pages cover just a handful of da... Read More

The Solaris Book of New Fantasy: Celebrates the rich diversity of the genre

The Solaris Book of New Fantasy by George Mann (ed.)

I’m pretty much a novice when it comes to short fiction. Because of my lack of experience in this area, I hope that you will bear with me as I try to provide a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of The Solaris Book of New Fantasy, even if I don’t always succeed. The plan is to first look at each short story individually providing synopses and commentary, followed by my evaluation of the compilation as a whole. So, let’s look at the stories:

1) “Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast” by Mark Chadbourn. On Christmas Eve in the year 1598 in a world where England is at war against the Faerie, England’s greatest spy Will Swyfte is on a mission of the greatest import — he has until dawn to prevent the Faerie Queen from crossing over to the other side. If he doesn’t, then the Unseelie Court will... Read More

Janny Wurts’ works return to American bookshelves

Janny Wurts has become a favorite of several of the reviewers here at Fantasy Literature, and much to our delight, her epic series, THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW (“TWoLaS”) is back in print this year in America and Canada! With its return to North America, one of the most important fantasy series currently underway is once again available to readers of epic high fantasy the world over.

One of the great strengths of Wurts’ writing is that it is not mere escapism. Fantasy Literature reviewer Stefan Raets notes that “rather than the standard cotton-candy fantasy tomes you find nowadays, here's a book that requires the reader's full attention and engages it on several levels, from the gorgeous prose to the elegant narrative structure, to the real challenge of trying t... Read More

FanLit Asks… About style

We often post our chats with authors on Tuesdays, but we're trying something new today. Instead of asking one author several questions, we've asked several authors just one question. Please leave a comment and let us know how you like this format. We'll choose one commenter to win a copy of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver on audio CDs (or something else from our stacks).

Question: Which speculative fiction writer has had the greatest influence on your own writing style and what, specifically, do you find most inspirational about that writer’s style?

Daniel Abraham / M.L.N. Hanover: Read More

Great Bookstores: Galaxy Bookshop in Sydney, Australia

Thanks to all the authors who've written in to tell us about the great bookstores they've been visiting! This week we hear from Janny Wurts and Karen Miller who wanted us to know about Galaxy Bookshop in Sydney Australia.

Galaxy Bookshop was established in 1975 and is an independent bookseller owned and operated by Abbey's Bookshop (also independent). They focus exclusively on science fiction, fantasy, horror and paranormal romance genres.  Most of their books are US imports of titles that don't have local distribution or whose author doesn't have a deal with a UK publisher. Mark Timmony, the store manager, says that the Galaxy staff reads the books they sell and... Read More

Mary Sue/Gary Stu – Valid Critique or Cynic’s Bandwagon?

Today we give the platform to one of my favorite authors, Janny Wurts. She wonders if you think the Mary Sue / Gary Stu critique is being overly applied by cynical critics these days. Two commenters win copies of both The Curse of the Mistwraith and Initiate’s Trial, the first and most recent books in Janny's THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW.

Lately, the Mary Sue or Gary Stu label for book characters who seem ‘too good to be true’ is used freely by professional and amateur reviewers alike as a slur that implies a literary fault. Time, I think, to question the critique’s unilateral validity.

A well drawn character demands strengths and flaws to avoid being saccharine. Yet amidst a shrill trend towards ambiguity and base motivations, has the anti-hero been set on a pedestal? Deemed ‘realistic,’... Read More

More fantasy by Janny Wurts

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThat Way Lies Camelot — (1994) Publisher: Our ancient tradition of tale-spinning is blessed with a treasure trove of truly sacred places. One such place is Camelot. In this superb collection of unforgettable stories, the multitalented artist/writer Janny Wurts, one of today’s bestselling fantasy authors, takes the reader to a very special Camelot that is both deeply familiar and delightfully strange. She tells of the Eld Tree that is the link to the fey world, and of the terrible price that must be paid for cutting it; of the elvenkind that emulate the wolf to protect themselves from man; of the horses that rose, and still rise, from the sea. “That Way Lies Camelot” is a book that proves what Wurts’ legions of readers already know: that the worlds of fantasy will live on as long as there are writers such as Janny Wurts, with the vision and the skill to bring them to life in the minds of each generation.