Art by Braldt Bralds and Shutterstock
Canadian fantasy writer Sean Russell produced three popular paperback series with his publisher DAW in the 90s, each exactly two books long:
Initiate Brother (The Initiate Brother, 1991, Gatherer of Clouds, 1992)
Moontide and Magic Rise (World Without End, 1995, Sea Without a Shore, 1996)
The River into Darkness (Beneath the Vaulted Hills, 1997, The Compass of the Soul, 1998)
These were all handsome volumes, and I collected them enthusiastically. By the early 2000s Russell had switched publishers, to Avon Eos (where he produced the Swan’s War trilogy), and after that he exited the fantasy genre entirely. He’s currently writing an ongoing series of novels about the HMS Themis, a Royal Navy frigate at the time of the French Revolution, under the name Sean Thomas Russell.
Over the last few years DAW has been collecting Russell’s 90s fantasy in large-size omnibus editions. The first, The Initiate Brother Duology, appeared in 2013, and The River Into Darkness was released just three months ago (and we covered it here as part of our look at the Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of October 2018). And just a few weeks ago I stumbled on Moontide and Magic Rise at Barnes & Noble, a hefty 820-page tome released in May, collecting World Without End and Sea Without a Shore.
[Click the images for omnibus-sized versions.]
In his new introduction to Moontide and Magic Rise, Sean Russell tells us a little of the evolution of his central idea.
World Without End had a simple premise, though one that was somewhat original for its time. What if a young naturalist, like Charles Darwin, was sent on a long voyage to distant parts of the Earth, but instead of discovering a foundational theory of biological science, discovered that magic existed? Like William Bligh on HMS Bounty, our young scientist — Tristam Flattery — was sent seeking a specific plant, though in this case one that was being used for mysterious purposes…
With those ideas as the foundation, I set out to write what became two books — World Without End and Sea Without a Shore. And then came two more books set in an earlier time period of the same world: Beneath the Vaulted Hills and Compass of the Soul.
Along with these ideas, I wanted to write about man’s perennial efforts to extend human life, and perhaps one day make us all immortal. Our hunger for more time, more life — and the cost that might exact.
And here, all these years later, these books appear again. Although I was a younger writer when I began these books, I think they combined elements of science fiction, fantasy, and history in a way that hadn’t been done — or if it had, it hadn’t been done often.
Here’s the back covers for the original paperbacks, and the new omnibus edition.
I’m very fond of these new omnibus editions, and I’ve already added the other two, The Initiate Brother Duology and The River Into Darkness, to my Amazon cart.
Moontide and Magic Rise was published by DAW Books on May 1, 2018. It is 820 pages, priced at $20 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Shutterstock.
See all our recent coverage of fat omnibus fantasy volumes here.