Sunday, 12 October 2014
The Way of the Tiger continues
Jamie Thomson and Mark Smith got to there, section 424 in the book, and wrote, "The end." Other books in the series had an implied "to be continued", but this one bore a stamp of finality. There's a good reason; Mark and Jamie didn't expect to be writing another one. Knight Books, publishers of Way of the Tiger, had dragged their feet over whether to renew the contract. It's the eternal worry of the freelancer - a publisher or network executive twiddles their thumbs, unhurried as only a regular salary can make a person, while the writer or artist frets about where she (or he) will find the next mortgage payment.
Not knowing whether to commit to more Way of the Tiger, Mark and Jamie had pitched another series, Duel Master, and got an offer from Armada. So by the time the alarm clock went off at Knight Books and somebody remembered to phone up for a discussion about a chat about some thoughts regarding a possible book 7, Jamie was already deep into designing the rules and complex structure for Duel Master. Mark finished off Inferno, dumped Avenger into that web, and typed two three-letter words that stuck a generation of schoolkids on tenterhooks for twenty-seven years. He left the tiniest of get-out clauses, a faintly glimmering "unless" in the final sentence, but the truth is Mark and Jamie never expected to be coming back.
Never say never. All these years later, Fabled Lands Publishing got hold of the Way of the Tiger rights and enlisted the editing team at Megara Entertainment, headed up by Richard S Hetley, to fix some of the logic problems in Inferno, refurbish the text, and now we have an all-new edition to please the most demanding fan. (Not only that, author David Walters has permission from Mark and Jamie to continue the series and looks set to do that brilliantly, starting with book seven, Redeemer.)
The new edition of Inferno is on sale now. The cover took some thinking about, and in the end we didn't use any of the designs above. Initially we were going with the giant spider painting by Mylène Villeneuve, the artist for the other five WOTT covers. It's nice and sinister, but the problem comes when you see it in thumbnail, as it would appear on most online bookstores, whereupon the tiny figure of Avenger is lost and all the customer would see is a picture of a spider. And, as you can see, to use that painting we'd have needed to add a blank strip at the bottom, otherwise the text of the title would have obscured Avenger anyway.
So we turned to the rising star of Megara's art stable, Sébastien Brunet, who did the cover art for the new edition of the Blood Sword gamebooks as well as the interior illustrations in Inferno. But the first stab at using his picture (above right) didn't work. The conventional direction of movement implied the dragon/serpent trying to get somewhere and the swordswoman Cassandra trying to stop it. That may be the scenario in the story, but the cover becomes more dramatic when it's flipped the other way round. On top of which, it always looks odd when artists insist on having warriors fight left-handed. (Unless the author has specified that. I bet a hundred WOTT fans will now tell me Cassandra's a southpaw.) So finally we come to the cover above left, which is the one you'll get if you part with your hard-won oban. But don't empty the piggy-bank completely, as the coming weeks will see the re-release of Falcon 1: The Renegade Lord, a beautiful (and multi-platform) app version of Necklace of Skulls, and The Keep of the Lich Lord (formerly Fighting Fantasy Gamebook #43) as a Fabled Lands adventure. Christmas is indeed coming early.