The Initiate Brother Duology

BOOK: The Initiate Brother Duology
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DAW Books by Sean Russell:

The Initiate Brother Duology



Moontide and Magic Rise



The River into Darkness






THE INITIATE BROTHER copyright © 1991 by Sean Russell

GATHERER OF CLOUDS copyright © 1992 by Sean Russell.

Author’s Note copyright © 2013 by Sean Russell

All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-698-14627-3

Cover art by Michael Whelen.

Additional cover elements by permission of Shutterstock.

Cover design by G-Force Design.

Map by Pat Tobin.

DAW Book Collectors No. 1626.

DAW Books are distributed by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

All characters and events in this book are fictitious.

Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

If you purchase this book without a cover you should be aware that this book may be stolen property and reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher. In such case neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

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First Printing, July 2013


The Initiate Brother
was a strange hybrid in its day. The book grew out of my love of Tolkien, my fascination with T’ang dynasty poetry (and thus the period), and my newly discovered interest in the court writings of tenth-century Japan, especially
The Tale of Genji
. It was also deeply influenced by Chinese history and the great wars of succession. It was not the first “Asian Fantasy,” but I believe it was the first successful one. I was determined at the time to distinguish my book from all the vaguely medieval, Norse-saga fantasy that was being written at the time. An Asian based fantasy seemed to be one way to do it. The problem was—and I had no way of knowing this—that publishers were still looking for more of the same.

The Initiate Brother
had no wizards, elves, dwarves, or even “magic” as it was understood. In fact, it read more like an historical novel than a fantasy, yet it was set in a non-existent kingdom that combined elements of ancient China and Japan. No one really knew what to make of it. The letters that came back from editors were confusing to a neophyte writer. On the one hand, several editors appeared to love the book, but they didn’t know what the market might be for a book that fell somewhere between an historical novel and a fantasy. Who would read it? What shelf did it fit on? One British editor wrote my agent to say that she didn’t think they could sell
The Initiate Brother
, but she thought I might be a major writer one day and would we please send her anything else I wrote. It was like good news/bad news. Love the book—can’t publish it.

It began to look like
The Initiate Brother
would be confined to that odd little category of good books that just didn’t fit into the publishing paradigm. That was until Betsy Wollheim came to the rescue.

Betsy was the part-owner and one of the two senior editors at DAW Books, a company started by her father, Donald A. Wollheim. One of the things about Betsy’s position was that she could buy a book without having
to get half a dozen other editors on board. I remember the day Betsy called me—at work (I still had a day job). I had the flu and was actually on my way out the door, heading for home, when someone caught me to say there was an editor on the phone wanting to talk to me. I scurried back to my desk, answered the phone, and that moment aspiring writers dream of occurred. A woman with a slight New York accent told me she loved my book and wanted to buy it. I always remember what Betsy said: “I don’t know if we can sell it, but it’s too good a book not to be published.” I thanked her profusely, went home, and threw up. Not really the way it’s supposed to happen, but we don’t get to write our lives.

I was terribly intimidated by Betsy at first. After all, I had wanted to be a writer from the age of ten, and here was my chance. “Don’t screw it up” was my main thought. Over the next few months, though, we became friends. We were the same age, had come of age in the sixties, liked the same music and books. Despite the fact that she grew up in New York (Queens, actually) and I grew up in small town Ontario we had a great deal in common, and she was a dedicated editor. At the time I had nothing with which to compare this editorial experience, but having worked with countless editors in the subsequent twenty-three years, I have learned that Betsy is an editor from the old school. She edits. She loves the job, loves the books she works on, and is utterly determined to make the books better. And she did, too. Betsy is the only editor I’ve ever had who asked me to make a book longer!

I attended a couple of “cons” the year the book came out and was welcomed into the world of writers. People like Tad Williams, Stephen Donaldson, Pat McKillip, Neal Stephenson, and Sean Stewart became friends and have, over the years, supported me both personally and professionally. It is no exaggeration to say that
The Initiate Brother
changed my life.

I have noted recently a number of fantasy novels drawing on cultures other than northern European, and even heard an interview recently where someone asked if this was a new trend. Considering that I started writing
The Initiate Brother
in about 1984, this made me smile.
The Initiate Brother
might have more “mysticism” than “magic” (it is more like the film
Crouching Tiger
Hidden Dragon
The Lord of the Rings
) but I still think it has that “feel” that made fantasy such a popular genre. It is epic in its scale, filled with intrigue and characters that match the scale of the world. And it has action—lots of action. I still get letters from readers asking me if I ever plan to write a third book in the series. (My answer: “Never say never.”)

I look back at the last twenty years of my writing career and am firstly rather surprised that it has been that long—I still feel like a new writer with much to learn. And secondly I can’t believe what a crooked path I have followed. Certain books stand out as having shaped some part of my writing life.
The Initiate Brother
began a period of fantasy writing for me—nine books in total. More recently,
Under Enemy Colors
turned me into a writer of successful historical novels. Even more recently I have written a mainstream novel with an elderly Huckleberry Finn as the main character. Rather ironically, editors are again saying, “We love this book, but what is it? Who will read it? What shelf does it go on?” I have somehow cycled back to the beginning—to an unusual book that does not fit into the publishing paradigm. Here we go again.

Writing is rather like marriage, I think—it is not for the faint of heart. It requires persistence, yes, but more than anything it requires an enormous amount of love. You have to want to do this more than anything else. I still get up in the morning and feel blessed that all I have to do that day is write. I am one of the fortunate few. For this I have to thank editors, publishers, agents, friends, family, and most of all readers. I get letters from readers almost every day, and it is one of the great pleasures of my morning to read them while I drink my coffee. I never forget that it is these people who have allowed me to do what I do for a living.

I am delighted that Betsy and DAW have decided to bring this book out again. I don’t know if we could call it “groundbreaking,” but it was certainly unusual in its day. To those people who ask “What is it? What shelf does it belong on?” I say it is a novel. You can put it on any shelf marked “Fiction.” Readers write and tell me they have put it on the shelf reserved for their favorite books. That is the shelf writers long to have their books on. To those readers I say, “Thank you.”

Sean Russell


Table of Contents

The Initiate Brother

















BOOK: The Initiate Brother Duology
3.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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