Friday, September 24, 2010

Fun with Cthulhu (the many humourous things people have done with the greatest evil in the known universe)

Happy Friday everyone!  We have come to the end of H. P. Lovecraft week, and I would like to leave you all with a smile.  With the advent of the internet and "geek culture", Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos has recently become something of an inside joke to many e-geeks (such as myself).  Although Lovecraft describes Cthulhu as the most evil entity in the universe - and perhaps in spite of that - people love to laugh at the tentacled monster.  I showed you one example yesterday in the form of a humorous story written by Neil Gaiman.  Something about Cthulhu just makes people want to laugh.  Here are a few more examples that you can find floating around on the internet...

Under the ocean, Cthulhu rests... patiently awaiting the time when he can devour your feet!  er, soul!

Feeling patriotic?  Cthulhu loves the taste of patriotism!

I love the facial expressions on this little guy's victims.  I'd be scared too!

A Cthulhu-based parody of "Hey There Delilah" by the Plain White T's, and a photo montage.

Yes, this place actually exists, and I want to go there.

Foiled again!

Calls For Cthulhu - The Great Old One answers all of your burning questions!

A cartoon about the adventures of Lil' Cthulhu.  Aww isn't he cute?

I hope you all enjoyed H. P. Lovecraft week!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Cthulhu, by Neil Gaiman

Hi folks.  Today, I have a special treat for you.  As I mentioned earlier in the week, the work of H. P. Lovecraft has inspired a generation of writers, many of which added their own tales to the Cthulhu Mythos.  One such author is Neil Gaiman, a common topic of L&M.  Most known for his dry humor and imaginative "fairy tales", Gaiman wrote his own piece inspired by Lovecraftian Lore.  I Cthulhu is in the form of a memoir, dictated by the Great and terrible Cthulhu to one of his puny slaves.  Gaimain pokes fun at the often serious nature of Lovecraft's tales, and gives us possible insight into the life of Cthulhu, a creature that we've otherwise only read about in reference to unspeakable evil, devouring souls, and the end of the world.  Enjoy!


I Cthulhu
or What's A Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing In A Sunken City Like This (Latitude 47° 9' S, Longitude 126° 43' W)?
Cthulhu, they call me. Great Cthulhu.
Nobody can pronounce it right.
Are you writing this down? Every word? Good. Where shall I start -- mm?
Very well, then. The beginning. Write this down, Whateley.
I was spawned uncounted aeons ago, in the dark mists of Khhaa'yngnaiih (no, of course I don't know how to spell it. Write it as it sounds), of nameless nightmare parents, under a gibbous moon. It wasn't the moon of this planet, of course, it was a real moon. On some nights it filled over half the sky and as it rose you could watch the crimson blood drip and trickle down its bloated face, staining it red, until at its height it bathed the swamps and towers in a gory dead red light.
Those were the days.
Or rather the nights, on the whole. Our place had a sun of sorts, but it was old, even back then. I remember that on the night it finally exploded we all slithered down to the beach to watch. But I get ahead of myself.
I never knew my parents.
My father was consumed by my mother as soon as he had fertilized her and she, in her turn, was eaten by myself at my birth. That is my first memory, as it happens. Squirming my way out of my mother, the gamy taste of her still in my tentacles.
Don't look so shocked, Whateley. I find you humans just as revolting.
Which reminds me, did they remember to feed the shoggoth? I thought I heard it gibbering.
I spent my first few thousand years in those swamps. I did not like this, of course, for I was the colour of a young trout and about four of your feet long. I spent most of my time creeping up on things and eating them and in my turn avoiding being crept up on and eaten.
So passed my youth.
And then one day -- I believe it was a Tuesday -- I discovered that there was more to life than food. (Sex? Of course not. I will not reach that stage until after my next estivation; your piddly little planet will long be cold by then). It was that Tuesday that my Uncle Hastur slithered down to my part of the swamp with his jaws fused.
It meant that he did not intend to dine that visit, and that we could talk.
Now that is a stupid question, even for you Whateley. I don't use either of my mouths in communicating with you, do I? Very well then. One more question like that and I'll find someone else to relate my memoirs to. And you will be feeding the shoggoth.
We are going out, said Hastur to me. Would you like to accompany us?
We? I asked him. Who's we?
Myself, he said, Azathoth, Yog-Sothoth, Nyarlathotep, Tsathogghua , Ia ! Shub Niggurath, young Yuggoth and a few others. You know, he said, the boys. (I am freely translating for you here, Whateley, you understand. Most of them were a-, bi-, or trisexual, and old Ia! Shub Niggurath has at least a thousand young, or so it says. That branch of the family was always given to exaggeration). We are going out, he concluded, and we were wondering if you fancied some fun.
I did not answer him at once. To tell the truth I wasn't all that fond of my cousins, and due to some particularly eldritch distortion of the planes I've always had a great deal of trouble seeing them clearly. They tend to get fuzzy around the edges, and some of them -- Sabaoth is a case in point -- have a great many edges.
But I was young, I craved excitement. "There has to be more to life than this!", I would cry, as the delightfully foetid charnel smells of the swamp miasmatised around me, and overhead the ngau-ngau and zitadors whooped and skrarked. I said yes, as you have probably guessed, and I oozed after Hastur until we reached the meeting place.
As I remember we spent the next moon discussing where we were going. Azathoth had his hearts set on distant Shaggai, and Nyarlathotep had a thing about the Unspeakable Place (I can't for the life of me think why. The last time I was there everything was shut). It was all the same to me, Whateley. Anywhere wet and somehow, subtly wrong and I feel at home. But Yog-Sothoth had the last word, as he always does, and we came to this plane.
You've met Yog-Sothoth, have you not, my little two-legged beastie?
I thought as much.
He opened the way for us to come here.
To be honest, I didn't think much of it. Still don't. If I'd known the trouble we were going to have I doubt I'd have bothered. But I was younger then.
As I remember our first stop was dim Carcosa. Scared the shit out of me, that place. These days I can look at your kind without a shudder, but all those people, without a scale or pseudopod between them, gave me the quivers.
The King in Yellow was the first I ever got on with.
The tatterdemallion king. You don't know of him? Necronomicon page seven hundred and four (of the complete edition) hints at his existence, and I think that idiot Prinn mentions him in De Vermis Mysteriis. And then there's Chambers, of course.
Lovely fellow, once I got used to him.
He was the one who first gave me the idea.
What the unspeakable hells is there to do in this dreary dimension? I asked him.
He laughed. When I first came here, he said, a mere colour out of space, I asked myself the same question. Then I discovered the fun one can get in conquering these odd worlds, subjugating the inhabitants, getting them to fear and worship you. It's a real laugh.
Of course, the Old Ones don't like it.
The old ones? I asked.
No, he said, Old Ones. It's capitalized. Funny chaps. Like great starfish-headed barrels, with filmy great wings that they fly through space with.
Fly through space? Fly? I was shocked. I didn't think anybody flew these days. Why bother when one can sluggle, eh? I could see why they called them the old ones. Pardon, Old Ones.
What do these Old Ones do? I asked the King.
(I'll tell you all about sluggling later, Whateley. Pointless, though. You lack wnaisngh'ang. Although perhaps badminton equipment would do almost as well). (Where was I? Oh yes).
What do these Old Ones do, I asked the King.
Nothing much, he explained. They just don't like anybody else doing it.
I undulated, writhing my tentacles as if to say "I have met such beings in my time", but fear the message was lost on the King.
Do you know of any places ripe for conquering? I asked him.
He waved a hand vaguely in the direction of a small and dreary patch of stars. There's one over there that you might like, he told me. It's called Earth. Bit off the beaten track, but lots of room to move.
Silly bugger.
That's all for now, Whateley.
Tell someone to feed the shoggoth on your way out.
Is it time already, Whateley?
Don't be silly. I know that I sent for you. My memory is as good as it ever was.
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fthagn.
You know what that means, don't you?
In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.
A justified exaggeration, that; I haven't been feeling too well recently.
It was a joke, one-head, a joke. Are you writing all this down? Good. Keep writing. I know where we got up to yesterday.
That's an example of the way that languages change, the meanings of words. Fuzziness. I can't stand it. Once on a time R'lyeh was the Earth, or at least the part of it that I ran, the wet bits at the start. Now it's just my little house here, latitude 47° 9' south, longitude 126° 43' west.
Or the Old Ones. They call us the Old Ones now. Or the Great Old Ones, as if there were no difference between us and the barrel boys.
So I came to Earth, and in those days it was a lot wetter than it is today. A wonderful place it was, the seas as rich as soup and I got on wonderfully with the people. Dagon and the boys (I use the word literally this time). We all lived in the water in those far-off times, and before you could say Cthulhu fthagn I had them building and slaving and cooking. And being cooked, of course.
Which reminds me, there was something I meant to tell you. A true story.
There was a ship, a-sailing on the seas. On a Pacific cruise. And on this ship was a magician, a conjurer, whose function was to entertain the passengers. And there was this parrot on the ship.
Every time the magician did a trick the parrot would ruin it. How? He'd tell them how it was done, that's how. "He put it up his sleeve", the parrot would squawk. Or "he's stacked the deck" or "it's got a false bottom".
The magician didn't like it.
Finally the time came for him to do his biggest trick.
He announced it.
He rolled up his sleeves.
He waved his arms.
At that moment the ship bucked and smashed over to one side.
Sunken R'lyeh had risen beneath them. Hordes of my servants, loathsome fish-men, swarmed over the sides, seized the passengers and crew and dragged them beneath the waves.
R'lyeh sank below the waters once more, awaiting that time when dread Cthulhu shall rise and reign once more.
Alone, above the foul waters, the magician -- overlooked by my little batrachian boobies, for which they paid heavily -- floated, clinging to a spar, all alone. And then, far above him he noticed a small green shape. It came lower, finally perching on a lump of nearby driftwood, and he saw it was the parrot.
The parrot cocked its head to one side and squinted up at the magician.
"Alright," it says, "I give up. How did you do it?"
Of course it's a true story, Whateley.
Would black Cthulhu, who slimed out of the dark stars when your most eldritch nightmares were suckling at their mothers' pseudomammaria, who waits for the time that the stars come right to come forth from his tomb-palace, revive the faithful and resume his rule, who waits to teach anew the high and luscious pleasures of death and revelry, would he lie to you?
Sure I would.
Shut up Whateley, I'm talking. I don't care where you heard it before.
We had fun in those days, carnage and destruction, sacrifice and damnation, ichor and slime and ooze, and foul and nameless games. Food and fun. It was one long party, and everybody loved it except those who found themselves impaled on wooden stakes between a chunk of cheese and pineapple.
Oh, there were giants on the earth in those days.
It couldn't last for ever.
Down from the skies they came, with filmy wings and rules and regulations and routines and Dho-Hna knows how many forms to be filled out in quintuplicate. Banal little bureaucruds, the lot of them. You could see it just looking at them: Five-pointed heads -- every one you looked at had five points, arms whatever, on their heads (which I might add were always in the same place). None of them had the imagination to grow three arms or six, or one hundred and two. Five, every time.
No offence meant.
We didn't get on.
They didn't like my party.
They rapped on the walls (metaphorically). We paid no attention. Then they got mean. Argued. Bitched. Fought.
Okay, we said, you want the sea, you can have the sea. Lock, stock, and starfish-headed barrel. We moved onto the land -- it was pretty swampy back then -- and we built Gargantuan monolithic structures that dwarfed the mountains.
You know what killed off the dinosaurs, Whateley? We did. In one barbecue.
But those pointy-headed killjoys couldn't leave well enough alone. They tried to move the planet nearer the sun -- or was it further away? I never actually asked them. Next thing I knew we were under the sea again.
You had to laugh.
The city of the Old Ones got it in the neck. They hated the dry and the cold, as did their creatures. All of a sudden they were in the Antarctic, dry as a bone and cold as the lost plains of thrice-accursed Leng.
Here endeth the lesson for today, Whateley.
And will you please get somebody to feed that blasted shoggoth?
(Professors Armitage and Wilmarth are both convinced that not less than three pages are missing from the manuscript at this point, citing the text and length. I concur.)
The stars changed, Whateley.
Imagine your body cut away from your head, leaving you a lump of flesh on a chill marble slab, blinking and choking. That was what it was like. The party was over.
It killed us.
So we wait here below.
Dreadful, eh?
Not at all. I don't give a nameless dread. I can wait.
I sit here, dead and dreaming, watching the ant-empires of man rise and fall, tower and crumble.
One day -- perhaps it will come tomorrow, perhaps in more tomorrows than your feeble mind can encompass -- the stars will be rightly conjoined in the heavens, and the time of destruction shall be upon us: I shall rise from the deep and I shall have dominion over the world once more.
Riot and revel, blood-food and foulness, eternal twilight and nightmare and the screams of the dead and the not-dead and the chant of the faithful.
And after?
I shall leave this plane, when this world is a cold cinder orbitting a lightless sun. I shall return to my own place, where the blood drips nightly down the face of a moon that bulges like the eye of a drowned sailor, and I shall estivate.
Then I shall mate, and in the end I shall feel a stirring within me, and I shall feel my little one eating its way out into the light.
Are you writing this all down, Whateley?
Well, that's all. The end. Narrative concluded.
Guess what we're going to do now? That's right.
We're going to feed the shoggoth.
© Neil Gaiman 1986

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Shadow Over Innsmouth

The Shadow Over Innsmouth is one of my favorite Lovecraft stories.  It focuses on a young man who travels to a run-down Massachusetts port town called Innsmouth for its reputation of picturesque architecture.  He begins to realize, however, that there is a reason that people stay away from Innsmouth.

Robert Olmstead, on a mission to discover the identity of his distant ancestors, finds himself in rural Massachusetts.  On the tips of some of the people he meets, he decides to take a bus into Innsmouth.  The people he meets on the bus, and later in town, seem to look a little strange.  They have sloping foreheads, big lips, and bulging fishy eyes.  Once in town, he asks around and eventually hears rumors about the interbreeding of the citizens of Innsmouth with fish-like creatures that came from the sea.  This story shakes Olmstead's nerves, but he eventually chalks it up to unfounded rumors and speculation.

That is, until, the bus he hoped to take out of town before night fall breaks down, leaving his stranded in Innsmouth.  Olmstead is forced to sleep overnight in a run down hotel when the natives suddenly become hostile.  Olmstead must choose to either flee or run for his life but one this is sure - what he discovers off the shores of this little Massachusetts town will alter his life forever.

The Shadow Over Innsmouth is unique from Lovecraft's other works in that it partially abandons the theme of plausible deniability.  By the end of the story, a police investigation begins regarding the people of Innsmouth.  However, we don't know the result of the investigation...

I loved Innsmouth for two reasons.  One is the great "chase-scene" that ensues, in which Olmstead is certain that he will be killed if he is found.  The other is the ending, which I will let you read on your own - it's a doozie!

To read the whole story, click here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

At the Mountains of Maddness

At the Mountains of Madness is one of Lovecraft's longest short stories.  It s in the form of a petition written by a geologist, William Dyer.  Dyer is trying to stop a public expedition to Antarctica based on the fact that his previous expedition to the frozen pole ended in catastrophe that he (almost) dare not speak of.

Previously, Dyer traveled to Antarctica with a group of scientists and explorers.  Once there, the party finds a dozen strange animal corpses buried in the ground.  They looked like nothing the scientists have ever seen before.  When some members of the team go missing, Dyer and his companion travel to the other side of the mountain where they find strange and ancient ruins of a civilization that has not yet been discovered.  The two land and enter the large complex of ruins... what they find there is both enlightening and mind-shatteringly horrific.

At the Mountains of Madness is a quality story.  There's a great mix of overt horror (i.e. the discovery of missing party members being slaughtered by some unknown - and intelligent - being) and the unknown.  What is more, The Mountains serves to further the mythology surrounding the Great Cthulhu - where it came from, what it did when it arrived, and what it is waiting for in order to rise once more.

The only thing that I didn't like as much about this story as some of the others is the ending.  Lovecraft is known for keeping things hidden from the reader (to keep them guessing and let their imagination roam) but it is just TOO ambiguous for my tastes.

All in all, At the Mountains of Madness is a worthwhile addition to your ever-growing knowledge of the Cthulhu Mythos.

You can read the full version online here.

The Call of Cthulhu

The Call of Cthulhu, written in 1926, is one of H. P. Lovecraft's most iconic short stories.  As I mentioned earlier, the Cthulhu Mythos takes its name from this tale.  Now, if you've never read any Lovecraft before, I am sure that two questions come to your mind, the first of which is something like "How in the world do I pronounce Cthulhu?"  Good question.  In truth, no one really knows how to pronounce it, because it comes from a language that is not human.  According to popular theories, however, it sounds something like "Ka-thool-hoo".

The second, more relevant question you may be asking is "What is this Cthulhu thing, anyway?"  Well, that is the question that Lovecraft attempts to answer in this short story.

The Call of Cthulhu is broken down into three sections.  The first is written as a journal (as most of Lovecraft's works are) written by one Francis Wayland Thurston.  In seems that his great uncle recently died and has come to inherit the old man's papers and personal effects.  In looking through these items, Thurston finds a sculpture of a hideous monster surrounded by strange symbols.  It seems to have the body of a man, the head of an octopus (tentacles and all), and giant scaly wings and massive claws.  A bit of exploring hints at curious events leading to mass hysteria in certain parts of the globe - people having horrible dreams and deranged thoughts.

The second section is in the form of a journal entry of Thurston's uncle in which he meets a peculiar man who tells a tale of cults performing horrible rituals and giving praise to a creature called Cthulhu, whose description matches that of the sculpture.  They were overheard chanting the phrase "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn." (later translated to "In his house at R'lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming".

In the last segment of the story, Thurston happens upon a transcript of a sailor's journal which describes a landing on a horrible slime covered island.  The monstrosity they discover there could spell the destruction of the would.

An interesting thing to note here is that Lovecraft utilizes a mechanic called plausible deniability.  That is to say that events occur in such a way that only a few people know of them.  In this case, Thurston is the only man alive that knows about the lurking presence of this evil Cthulhu creature.  By keeping the events in his stories a mystery to the outside world, Lovecraft increases the tension that the main character is feeling.  There is no sense of "Oh, Cthulhu, I read about him in the newspaper."  Each character is on his own as far as discovering the hidden truths of the universe.  Lonecraft does this with many of his stories.

Read the full version of The Call of Cthulhu here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

H. P. Lovecraft Week is Coming!

Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in 1890 and did most of his writing in the 1920's.  Although he was not considered a great writer of his time, he is now viewed as one of the most influential horror writers of all time.  Until he died in 1937, he wrote many short stories which have gained a cult following and have served to provide inspiration for a whole new generation of horror writers.

Lovecraft focused on many distinct themes in his story telling.  Most deal with the unknown.  Lovecraft told tales about deep and hidden truths - things that were never meant to be discovered by man kind - being uncovered by unsuspecting people.  These cosmic horrors mostly deal with the creation and destruction of reality as we know it, and the people that stumble across the truth often become insane; their minds unhinged at the prospect of a horrible and unspeakable evil.

The most impressive part of H. P. Lovecraft's body of work is that it is still expanding.  His literary efforts have created a nidus of creation, later termed the Cthulhu Mythos (named after one of his more popular works, Call of Cthulhu).  Many authors of the past 70 years have used Lovecraft's themes and writing style as a jumping off point for their own stories, each one adding their own perspective of the Mythos.

What is more, the Cthulhu Mythos has been spun off into many other elements:  board games, toys, stuffed animals, and many other things.

Throughout the coming week, we will be exploring a few aspects of this giant (and ever-growing)  sub-genre of horror literature.  If you've never explored this "Lovecraftian" universe before, it can be a little daunting, so I am going to try to give you a good starting point.  First, I will be focusing on a few of his stories.  I will be calling them reviews, but I will mostly just be summarizing (excluding spoilers) the plot and pointing out how they each contribute to the Mythos.  Towards the end of the week, we'll check out a Lovecraftian story written by one of my favorite authors, and look at some other fun Lovecraft related stuff.

There's a lot out there - too much to cover in one week - but I hope that this expedition piques your interest for further study!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Book Review - Sandman, by Neil Gaiman (Issues 1-20)

Title:  Sandman
Author:  Neil Gaiman
Genre:  Fantasy / Comic
Rating:  4 out of 5 crazy nightmares

Neil Gaiman has proven himself to be one of the most influential writers of fantasy novels and poetry.  I take time to look at one very different Gaiman project:  the comic book series Sandman.  How does it stack up to one's expectations?

Just a quick disclaimer here, folks.  This is the first time I have reviewed a comic book.  And while I'm not 100% sure on how to go about it correctly, I promise I will do my best to consider both the writing and visual aspects of the comic book.  Also note that this review takes into consideration the first twenty issues of the comic.

The comic book Sandman follows the adventures of Morpheus, the god of dreams.  The series begins with the deity being held captive - his powerful artifacts and belongings being stolen and strewn throughout Earth and hell.  Morpheus eventually breaks free of his prison and encounters many colorful characters on his journey to attain his former power.  This is the basic premise of the series, but the story is much more complicated and interwoven.

The writing of Sandman is spot on for what one would expect from Gaiman.  The dry wit is there, along with undertones of fantasy and brooding darkness (the latter much more so than his other works).  This is an important point to keep in mind about this series.  Gaiman tackles some heavy issues in this series (substance abuse, death, serial killers), and although he manages to weave everything together nicely, the story does get a little dark at times.

However, for the most part Sandman is very well written.  Themes of hope and redemption run throughout, especially when Gaimain introduces his personification of Death (incidentally one of Morpheus' siblings).  These issues are some of the best in the series and really make you think about why people die and what happens afterward.

Most issues in this selection are great, but there are also some that don't quite hit the mark for this reader.  For instance, one of the longer chapters involves demons and fanciful creatures putting on a Victorian-era play for Morpheus for apparently no reason.

 Here are some highlights regarding the plot of Sandman:
  • Two of Morpheus' nightmare creatures attempt to overthrow his throne while he is imprisoned
  • Morpheus meets up with the rulers of hell and competes with a demon in a battle of wits
  • A disfigured and imprisoned Dr. Doom faces off with the king of dreams in a fight to the death
  • A group of people in a diner are held under the twisted persuasion and mind control of an evil man
  • A young girl inadvertantly stumbles upon a convention for murderers
  • Morpheus grants a man from medieval times endless life, and checks in on him throughout the centuries to see how his life has changed
The art of Sandman is amazing, and is really a treat to look at.  The artists blend color panels with black and white to great effect, and the individual details in each page can have you spending a lot of time just staring at the book.

I have never been a great connesuir of comic books, but I was pleasantly surprised by this one.  I definitely reccomend this series if you like comics, and even if you don't it's worth a try!

For more information about Sandman, check out my Spotlight post on Morpheus and my Review of The Ultimate Sandman, Volume 1.

4 out of 5 crazy nightmares!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

First Impressions: The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

I have been reading The Way of Kings for a few days now.  Although my review is still - regrettably - a ways off, I hope this post gives you some perspective on what you may be getting into when you crack open the pages of this literary beast.

(the U.K. cover of the book)

As loyal readers may know, I am now in veterinary school and pretty much all of my time is being taken up by studying and sleeping.  This serves all the more to emphasize that fact that I have been unable to put down this book.  Something about Sanderson's writing style is so infectious that you always need to find out what is going to happen next. I am about a quarter of the way through the novel, and so far there have been bloody battles, dangerous hunts, catastrophic storms, and witty banter.  The story begins with two main characters:  Shallan, a young girl trying to decide between her calling of a naturalist and the devious plans of her family, and Kaladin, a young surgeon - turned soldier - turned slave, trying to fight his way back to the man he once was.  These characters (along with many others) are set against a backdrop of a landscape that has evolved to survive during horribly devastating storms.

I don't want to give too much away, and there will be more details (never spoilers) in my coming review, but know this:  I was instantly hooked into this book, and if you get any enjoyment out of reading a large novel filled with great characters and a detailed world, I think you may as well.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mailbox Monday - The Way of Kings

The time has come, folks, and The Way of Kings is finally here!  As you may have gathered by my reviews of Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker and Elantris, I am a big fan.  Well, Sanderson is back, this time with a large first volume in - what promises to be - an epic series.

If you don't know much about The Way of Kings, you've come to the right place!  I've attempted to gather together the most pertinent information on this novel.  First of all, check out this introduction, written by Sanderson for

As you can see, this novel (and series) has been a long time coming from Sanderson.  With over fifteen years and a thousand pages invested between the covers, I am sure The Way of Kings will live up to everything I hope to find in a large-scale work.

Now go ahead and check out these Youtube videos - Sanderson talks about The Way of Kings (among other projects) and reads some excerpts.

PART 1/3

PART 2/3

PART 3/3

Finally, feast your eyes on the full version of the cover art of the novel, done by Michael Whelan.  Notice the giant storm clouds, cracked and scorched earth, and small crustacean-looking creatures at the man's feet.  For more information, check out this interview of Whelan, also at

(click on the above picture for full size)

I think it is clear that I am very excited for The Way of Kings, and I hope this post starts you feeling the same way!  Make sure to check back for subsequent First Impressions posts and my review!