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November 14, 2011

Five Hundred Years Before
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 06:32 PM * 41 comments

The two prequel Mageworlds books are out now as e-books from our good friends at Tor. The Stars Asunder and A Working of Stars are the only two (so far) set in the Mageworlds themselves. In internal series chronology they are the first by some half a millennium, although they were the last published. They provide an entry point to the series, although someone entering there will have a different experience of the whole than someone who joins at some other entry point.

The other entry points are: The Gathering Flame, which details the First Magewar, and The Price of the Stars which opens the trilogy set during the Second Magewar. The Long Hunt is a stand-alone set some years later, and is a perfectly fine way into the series: It’s the shortest, the funniest, and a ghost story besides.

[The Stars Asunder] [A Working of Stars]

You should probably view these books as a two-volume novel rather than entirely as stand-alones (even though when we were looking for beta readers, we sought out people who had never read any other books in the series to make sure they worked, a task that got harder and harder as the series progressed). They cover the start of the Great Working designed to close the gap beween the Mageworlds and the Adeptworlds, and all the poor decisions, bad luck, and unwarranted assumptions by characters who should have known better that go along with such an undertaking.

Right now, both are up at Amazon for Kindle. The Stars Asunder is up at Barnes & Noble for the Nook. I expect that A Working of Stars will be available there shortly, and they’ll all be in the iBookstore betimes.

At this point, only Starpilot’s Grave, the second volume (the middle of the first trilogy), remains to be converted. Expect a triumphant announcement when that happy day arrives.

See also: I’m Pleased to Report: The other Mageworlds books, all in electronic form.

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Comments on Five Hundred Years Before:
#1 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 07:32 PM:

For my own part, I strongly prefer to read series in publication order. In most cases, the books will have been most strongly geared towards giving a good experience to readers who encounter them in that order. (Which in this case means that I recommend starting with The Price of the Stars.)

#2 ::: Rick Keir ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 07:57 PM:

A caution: Sometimes it's best not to start at the beginning with a new author. Terry Pratchett's first few books are ok, but like early Woody Allen they're more strings of jokes than the more plot and character driven books he grew into. Tony Hillerman's "Joe Leaphorn" books are generally considered weaker than his latter "Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee" books, because he was growing as a writer. It's a shame to miss out on a good author just because you didn't like their novice work.

#3 ::: Rick Keir ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 08:00 PM:

And a WOO HOO to these two books coming back out; for my taste they are a great starting point. "Price of the Stars" is a good book, and I read each one as they originally came out, but it's not meant as a knock to say that I think Doyle and Macdonald grew as writers over the years between the start and the (current) end of this series.

#4 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 09:13 PM:

Jim -- I blush to say I haven't read any of these, though I do intend to. (It's not for lack of good recommendations -- just that none of the series started at a point when I was free to read them!) If you need to use me as a beta reader, feel free to ask. If I've dragged my paperbacks out of storage before then, I may not still be naive.

#5 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2011, 10:00 PM:

I second David's recommendation to read the series in published order. IMO, reading The Gathering Flame first seriously spoils the ending of the original trilogy, and reading the prequels first... well, it won't give anything away, but (again IMO) you'll get more out of it if you already have some background information about the events on our side of the Great Rift.

#6 ::: Richard Campbell ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 10:30 AM:

Is there an ETA on the even Mageworld books being added to Kindle? I bought the first one and liked it, but don't want to skip to book three if I don't have to...

#7 ::: grackle ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 12:28 PM:

I'm so sorry to see this continued commercial self-promotion on this otherwise lovely and engrossing site.

#8 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 12:39 PM:

Interesting, grackle, because I see this post (and the similar ones by other hosts, occasionally) as being one of the more appropriate examples of self-promotion out there. It's a minor portion of what happens here, done because of the interest of many of the community in what the hosts are doing, and it's relatively unobtrusive. And it attracts comments. Given the number of members of this community who are professional writers, it's also giving a forum for discussing how effective e-publication is for old titles (an important emerging market). Does it help you to look on it as chronicling how e-pubs are working more than simple promotion?

#9 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:09 PM:

Well, I'm so sorry to see this complaining and sense of entitlement from an otherwise interesting and pleasant commenter. I guess it's just So Sorry Day.

We blog what we blog. Cope, or, you know, don't. No one's dragooning you into reading the site, or forcing you to comment if you haven't anything interesting or constructive to say.

#10 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:11 PM:

grackle @ 7: I would be sorry to have missed the news of a series about which I've heard so many good things, but have not yet acquired. I also note that, for those of us not fortunate enough to be able to retire upon a handsome competence, 'commercial' is not an all-purpose dirty word. Extraneous paid advertorials for The Only Way Is Jersey Shore in Spaaaace! would be one thing. The works of the very hands and voices that have done so much to make this community what it is, are quite another.

I like a chance to support my friends and fellows as dearly as I hate a spam for attention from somebody who has nothing to do with me, and I consider such posts a grace and not a bother.

#11 ::: kaleissin ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 01:25 PM:

I'm not so sure they're up on Amazon yet, I can't see 'em either when logged in or not. Maybe I should read up on how to strip nook's DRM so I can convert the (definitely up) one at Barnes&Noble.

#12 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 03:42 PM:

This is good news. It'll be better news if I get the book that's supposed to come after A Working of Stars, since it seems to me there must be more story.

Guess that means I should buy up the e-books in the hope of the sales bump meaning I get more books.

#13 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 03:47 PM:

Jim Macdonald and Debra Doyle are such shameless self-promoters, grackle. I myself can barely stand it. Oh wait. Nobody is forcing me to read the thread's contents, or that of the books, right?

#14 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 03:59 PM:

Let's leave the grackle subthread here, I think. A dogpile serves no one.

#15 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 04:32 PM:

I'm one of the ones that started with The Stars Asunder (It was the first one I could find that looked like an entry point) and I think the biggest spoiler for the trilogy was in the preface, not in the text. In any case, I thought it a very good book, and it convinced me to look for the others (Which I found and read in this order; the trilogy, A Working of Stars, the Gathering Flame, The Long Hunt). I don't think it hurt to read the trilogy before the second half of the same story, but I will agree with Jim that A Working of Stars really is a second half of a whole.

And excellent series. I do have to ask why Starpilot's Grave ended up being the one slowest to come out? I really wouldn't want to try to jump from The Price of the Stars into By Honor* Betray'd without it. In some ways, I'd think that a harder prospect as a reader than trying to read it cold.


* Do you know how hard it is for a Canuck to spell it that way? But it is the correct title.

#17 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 05:15 PM:

Whereas I started with Starpilot's Grave, because that was the first one to come to my attention, from a review when it was first published. I then went back and picked up the first one, then commenced impatiently waiting for the third. I think that's one reason why The Price of the Stars is my least favorite* of the original trilogy, because I came to it out of order.

*To be clear, this is still high praise.

#18 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 07:02 PM:

Not to pile on--but interestingly, I first heard of the Price of the Stars on a RomLand site. Someone posted a wonderful review of the book to a discussion of pirate romances just a few days ago. Notwithstanding (I mean, really, a discussion of pirate romances), I ordered the Sony E book for my hubby's birthday. Since he is still laboring through this 2000 page trilogy I stuck him with in August, he hasn't had a chance to hit Jim's book yet.

But the gentleman who posted the review to the RomLand site gave the book a glowing review. And I am excited. If I can glom on all of Jim and Deb's backlist, I've got Christmas, Valentine's Day, anniversary and Father's Day covered.

So I don't care that the first I heard of a well written set of space opera books was during a discussion of pirate romances. I take my book reviews where I can find 'em.

And finding the backlist here, will be very, very helpful.

#19 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 15, 2011, 10:24 PM:

Rick Keir #2: Sometimes it's best not to start at the beginning with a new author.

Mercedes Lackey is another example here -- as I've noted before, Arrows of The Queen was her first published novel, and you really can see the seams. The next book is noticeably smoother, and by the third she's clearly hit her stride. Her later books get progressively more polished and textured, but in that first trilogy, you can watch her growing as a writer.

#20 ::: Ariel ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:16 AM:

Yay! The Mageworlds were first introduced to me as "Star Wars, done right" and I completely agree. It took me years to find a complete set, and I am delighted to see that new readers will have much less trouble.

#21 ::: grackle ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:33 AM:

Mea Culpa, I must have been grumpy this morning (my timezone) Abi, you're right, a breach of etiquette, and thoroughly bad manners. Uncalled for. Won't happen again.

#22 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 01:36 AM:

grackle @21:

Gracefully done. We all have days like that, but not everyone recovers so well.

#24 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 12:12 PM:

RomLand = romance land, blogs related to romance novels. The review was posted at Smart B*tches, Trashy Books under GS/STA Pirate Romances. I tried to make a link, but I HATE COMPUTERS and I can't.

#25 ::: GHN ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 03:20 PM:

I find myself wishing these books had been published by Baen - then I would definitely have bought the e-books by now. As it is, I can only hope they will become available outside the US some time.
Grumblegrumblegrumble

#26 ::: Robert Glaub ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2011, 06:09 PM:

I got my brand new KindleFire last night and the Mageworlds books were the first ones I downloaded.

#27 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 12:46 PM:

I now have four of the five - every time I try to buy A Working of Stars, the B&N computer tells me I already have it. It isn't there in my library.... (I've left an e-mail with their customer service. Clearly there's a problem somewhere in their system. Possibly a visit from a Mage or an Adept might help.)

#28 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 12:51 PM:

Guess what I'm about to put on my shiny new Nook, along with Lincoln's Sword and Rule 34.

#29 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 02:48 PM:

TexAnne... "Atlanta Night"? By the way, is it the Nook tablet or the new basic book-reader? Mine is the first year's model. A bit clunky, but it works. In fact, I heart my old Nook.

#30 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 03:00 PM:

Yes, Serge, of course I meant _Atlanta Nights_, I couldn't possibly have been thinking of augmenting the Mageworlds paperbacks I picked up used. ;-)

My Nook is indeed the plain e-ink b&w kind. I wanted the longest battery life possible, and I have a smartphone for the fancy internet stuff. (The first author portrait that came up was of the Brontë sisters. I think we'll get along quite well, my doodad and I.)

#31 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 03:49 PM:

TexAnne (30): Would that the be the Nook Simple Touch? I'm seriously considering buying an ereader, and that's first on my list--IF I can live with the 6" screen. How do you feel about the screen size? Too small? Just right? Too small but it keeps the reader from being too heavy? Other?

#32 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 05:29 PM:

Mary Aileen, 31: Yes, it is. I don't mind the tiny screen--it plus its cover fit my hand perfectly, and the font size, margins, and line-spacing are all adjustable. I need to play some more before deciding that I've got the settings where I want them, but so far? As a story-to-brain delivery system, it's very nearly transparent. And it won't break my glasses if I go to sleep reading _Jonathan Strange_.

It will be my constant companion on trains; when we manage to match our schedules, I'll be happy to let you try it out.

#33 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 05:46 PM:

I'm currently playing with my new iPad myself... Not too bad for reading.

#34 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 05:46 PM:

Serge, TexAnne, I assume the Simple Touch can pick up the WiFi signal from the wireless router I have in-house. Is the download speed acceptable?

B&N has been flooding my inbox with Black Friday $79 Nook prices for the past two days.

#35 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 06:08 PM:

Linkmeister: I downloaded the half-dozen books in my account in about thirty seconds, on a terrible connection.

#36 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 06:59 PM:

Linkmeister... I have the original Nook and it has no problem downloading thru my home's WiFi. If I happen to go to the b&m B&N (brick&mortar Barnes&Noble) and I haven't yet downloaded an e*book purchased earlier, the store does it automatically the moment I step inside.

#37 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 07:31 PM:

Oh dear. I was hoping you two would tell me it was an awful experience. I'm terribly tempted, but I know myself. I have a TBR pile of 100 books in legacy (!) format, and if I can just download books on impulse and get them with no trouble . . .

Get thee behind me, Satan!

#38 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 07:36 PM:

TexAnne (32): Thanks. That's quite helpful. If I decide to go for the Simple Touch*, I want to buy it in time to take home with me for Christmas. That way, I won't have to throw 6+ paperbacks in my luggage for the trip. (Hey, I'll be gone more than a week. Six books is a conservative estimate!)

*My second choice, the Pocketbook Pro 902 (with a 9+" screen), is three times as expensive as the Simple Touch. That one would wait until my tax refund comes through.

#39 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 08:04 PM:

For what it's worth, I'm happy with my Simple Touch.

If you're feeling daring, there are ways to turn it into something resembling an Android tablet. The e-ink display and general lack of OS memory make it a rather poor semblance, though. It will run some stuff, but nothing large, and some OS libraries are missing than a full Android installation would have. Full Android is pretty much out of the question anyway: it doesn't have enough memory.

It may still useful to do so just for the ability to rebind buttons so you get hardware "menu" and "back", or install Button Saver which provides a popup with those and some other missing keys. You can also install a replacement soft keyboard, but the one provided with the system works better with e-ink than most Android keyboards.

#40 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 08:17 PM:

Linkmeister @ 37... I have a TBR pile of 100 books in legacy (!) format, and if I can just download books on impulse and get them with no trouble... Get thee behind me, Satan!

I seem to remember Janet Brennan Croft saying to me that the temptation is even worse for Librarians.

#41 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 08:38 PM:

geekosaur (39): Thanks. On Monday, I'm going to go to the local(ish) Barnes & Noble and test-drive a Simple Touch. I've seen one on a display at Staples, but I couldn't play with it.

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