Robert Jordan’s Previously Unpublished Warrior of the Altaii to be Published in Fall 2019

Tor Books has just announced that they will be publishing Warrior of the Altaii by Robert Jordan in fall 2019.  Warrior of the Altaii is the book that started Jordan’s career, but it has never been published.  Expect something more along the lines of his Conan pastiches than The Wheel of Time.  And don’t expect too much.

(You can now find my review here.)

Warrior of the Altaii is the book that launched Jordan’s career.  He sold it twice.  It didn’t get published at the time, but it did get him the gig writing Conan pastiches.  Tor churned out dozens during the 90s (in addition to Jordan’s novels, I covered Tor pastiches by John Maddox Roberts, Steve Perry, Roland Green, and Leonard Carpenter).  Jordan’s widow and editor Harriet McDougal described Warrior of the Altaii as “muscular fantasy.”  In explaining why it was never published, she compared it to the notorious Gor novels.

If you are wondering what to expect, look to Jordan’s seven Conan pastiches, not his Wheel of Time books.  Jordan insisted Conan creator Robert E. Howard wasn’t a major influence on his writing, and I believe him.  I like his Conan books plenty, but he didn’t get Conan in the same way that John Maddox Roberts did.  At the same time, they are very distinct from The Wheel of Time.  Harriet is fair in calling them “muscular fantasy.”  They’re fun books if you like sword and sorcery as much as you like epic fantasy.

The book that is probably the most relevant is Conan the Invincible.  Unfortunately, it is also Jordan’s worst Conan book.  Jordan got the Conan gig for two reasons: Warrior of the Altaii and an ability to write fast (Tor got the rights to Conan just in time to capitalize on the 1982 movie if they moved fast).  Write fast he did: all seven of his pastiches were published between 1982 and 1984 (take that GRRM!).  That’s an impressive output by any measure, but Conan the Invincible, Jordan’s first pastiche, does show as a rush job.  I also suspect he wrote it before reading or rereading Howard’s original stories, because it is only loosely tied to Howard’s world.  Hence why I think it the best source for thinking about Warrior of the Altaii–I wouldn’t be surprised if Jordan recycled elements.

Warrior of the Altaii may not have been a rush job, but it wasn’t considered good enough at the time to be published, and it was never rewritten.  It has been available as a part of his papers at the College of Charleston and no glowing reports have filtered out.  Harriet herself was dismissive of it.

Why now?  The TV series will result in a surge of interest in The Wheel of Time.  I won’t complain that that is the impetus.  I’m excited about the TV series, and I am excited about this book.  I suspect I will like it more than most Wheel of Time fans, because I like Jordan’s Conan books more than most Wheel of Time fans.  (They also, by the way, feature his best prose.)  And people’s assets are their to dispose of; I won’t complain if they want to monetize them.

I’ve long been of the mind (and, separately, the hope) that we will eventually see the three planned “outrigger” and two remaining planned prequel books.  I think the probability of that just shot up on the basis of this announcement.  It displays more willingness to put out new IP than Team Jordan has previously evinced.  But don’t set your expectations too high for those books either–one reason why they’ve been considered a longshot is that Jordan left no detailed outline for them…or any outline at all.

Bottom line: The Wheel of Time is a monumental work of epic fantasy that deserves to remain in the public eye.  I am in favor of anything that helps do that.  And if this also leads people to the work of Robert E. Howard, all the better.

I’ve had a lot to say at Every Day Should Be Tuesday about The Wheel of Time, and you can find it all here.  But not nearly as much as I’m going to have to say.  Stay tuned.

About H.P.

Blogs on books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday (speculative fiction) and Hillbilly Highways (country noir and nonfiction).
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11 Responses to Robert Jordan’s Previously Unpublished Warrior of the Altaii to be Published in Fall 2019

  1. Pingback: Summer of Conan: The Robert Jordan Pastiches | Every Day Should Be Tuesday

  2. Bookstooge says:

    Love that picture of WoT versus GoT books. I’d like to shove them ALL down GRRM’s throat, just on general principle 😉

    If any of the outlyer books ever were written, who do you think Harriet would tap to write them? I can’t see Sanderson returning since his own workload does nothing but increase (admittedly, it is his own fault, but still). but I suspect it would have to be someone with some solid credentials…

    Liked by 1 person

    • H.P. says:

      I agree that Sanderson won’t return now that his own career is well established and he has several projects in the works at all times.

      I would expect Harriet to use the same criteria as when she tapped Sanderson: a big Wheel of Time fan, signed by Tor Books, young enough to set other projects aside and toe the line, but who has already proven themselves as a storyteller and a worldbuilder. And for much the same reasons. I think a big reason that Harriet didn’t go with a writer with a lot of experience working in someone else’s sandbox is because the outline that Jordan left was pretty sparse. His successor needed to bring serious creative faculties to the table. The situation with the prequels and outrigger books is even more stark: Jordan didn’t leave any outlines at all (although the main series provides any number of nuggets that can be mined for the prequels).

      Or she could always just hire Miles Cameron.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bookstooge says:

        If she hires that bastard Cameron, I won’t read them. He can’t write fantasy to save his ass. Historical nun raping, yes, fantasy, no.
        He’s more interested in writing alt-his than actual fantasy.

        Wow, I had no idea I was so full of piss and vinegar on him! I was reading your comment and BAM, insta-hate-trigger. Hahahahaaa.

        But seriously, I wouldn’t read it if she chose him.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m with you, Bookstooge, in regards to Miles Cameron. As far as the love for him, I just don’t get it. I found that I couget my requisite 3 chapter minumim/ critical mass to finish his book. Tried twice. Failed twice.

          I feel the same about Steven Erikson and those damnable Malazan books.

          On the other hand, I am cautiously optimistic about the Wheel of Time tv series and I hope it doesn’t go the way of the Conan tv series.

          Any reports on casting yet?

          Liked by 2 people

  3. I haven’t tried the Cold Iron series, H.P. Perhaps I will in the future but for now, Cameron’s writing left a bad taste in my mouth.

    I have heard those people who are fans of Malazan say there is a steep learning curve as well. I’ve heard them say many other things in his defense. But man, the first book, which I managed to complete just…ugh. I read it back before my 3 Chapter rule was instituted. In other words, I forced myself to finish it. And I wish I could get that time back.

    One of the things I have heard (and I wouldn’t know) is that the actual main characters don’t even show up until the end of Book 2. I’m not going to waste anymore time on that, ever.

    The world building was pretty good, I’ll give it that. But still: too many characters, too much scope (for me). I think the scope disguises how shallow it is. That’s how it felt to me anyway. I would have enjoyed a tighter narrative and smaller cadre of main characters. But that’s just me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • H.P. says:

      I’ve avoided Malazan for those reasons. I have so much going on these days that I find I have a sharp preference for stuff that is accessible and tightly told.


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