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Abney Park Invites You on a High Flying Adventure

Now what I’m about to tell you is legend, and a mighty fine one at that. Somewhere high in the skies above dangerous lands, the members of a gothic/industrial band called Abney Park took control of a time-traveling dirigible called the Ophelia. From then on, this band of misfits and hooligans set out to become the most notorious of all airship pirates. They shared their many adventures through music and printed page. Before too long, they were crowned the most popular Steampunk band in the land.

Yet, I never heard of them…

Until the night a good Fairy friend and an Angel in Black fluttered into town with tickets to The Time Traveler’s Ball. This night of festivities capped the first day of FaerieCon West in Seattle – a gathering of kindred spirits from villages far and wide.

The headline act was this so-called Abney Park. How they miraculously landed Ophelia without snagging her gasbags on the Space Needle is beyond me. The crowd went crazy as they stormed the stage. The men, so handsome and strong, led by the dashing Captain Robert Brown. The women, so exquisite and alluring, were also tough enough to make any brute think twice before provoking any trouble.

Abney Park’s intense rhythms, dragon-sized hooks and tribal beats transported everyone into another dimension for a few glorious hours of dance and good cheer – and then, just like thieves in the night, they were gone.

I struggled to find a way to capture the experience in words. How do you describe a sound so fresh, yet so deeply rooted in history? A few ales later, I came up with this:

Jules Verne stories, performed by latter-era Gogol Bordello, produced by early Nine Inch Nails, blasting through the speakers of a vintage Victrola.

But why was Abney Park headlining at a FaerieCon? What was the fairy/faerie connection? Any fey sporting the trappings of steampunk would certainly be on the grittier side of the feather and horn, but were they mutually exclusive? Some have a hard time aligning the two, but others argue that it was only a matter of time. Brigid Ashwood said it well in Faerie Magazine (republished on Wired in March, 2011), “Steampunk fairies mix the dark fey of myth with urban decay, grease, and mischief. Cast off from a dying society they lurk at the edges, eking out a dire existence amidst smog and ruin.” Ashwood’s stunning illustration of fairy in steampunk, “Unlocked,” appears above (and is available at her etsy store).

But back to Abney Park and their music, take a listen for yourself; the possibilities to describe the band are as endless as their imagination… and your own. In preparation for the worldwide release of their latest volume of melodic stories, Ancient World (available June 2, 2012), Abney Park invites one and all to join the “Steampunk Revolution.”

The song (and its myriad moving images) are an aerial tour of the fascinating world called Steampunk. The lyrics are the very definition of the genre:

We’ve got a Steampunk Revolution
We’re tired of your so-called evolution
We’ve gone back to 1886
Don’t ask us why
That’s how we get our kicks
Out with the new, in with the old, out with the new, in with the old

In addition to the current lineup of Abney Park, the video offers glimpses of other living legends from the Steampunk scene, including:

Plus hundreds of fan photos – the very awesome people you will likely meet when you check out the band on tour.

For tour dates, CDs, downloads, posters, literature and the band’s signature Steampunk attire, visit their robust marketplace at www.abneypark.com.

Destined, Wards of Faerie, and Thomas the Rhymer

NEW: DESTINED by Aprilynne Pike, Book Four of the Wings series (Harper Collins, May 1, 2012)

Destined marks the last book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Wings series about a seemingly ordinary girl named Laurel. In Book One, Laurel discovers she is a faerie, sent among humans to protect the gateway to Avalon. Thrust into the midst of a centuries-old battle between faeries and trolls, she’s torn between a human and a faerie love, as well as her loyalties to each world. In this finale:

Tamani looked at her gravely, and reached up to tuck her hair behind her ear. He hesitated for an instant, then his hands found the sides of her face, pulling her to him. He didn’t kiss her, just held her face close to his, their foreheads resting together, their noses almost touching.

She hated how much it felt like good-bye.

Laurel now knows the truth: Yuki is a rare Winter faerie, the most powerful—and deadly—of all, and Klea plans to use her to help conquer and destroy Avalon. But Klea’s reach extends far beyond one wild Winter faerie. With Tamani, David, and Chelsea by her side, Laurel prepares to face what may be Avalon’s final days, in the stunning conclusion to the Wings series…

As dozens of comments on Goodreads along the lines of Nicole‘s, “2012?!?!?! I can’t wait that long!” since the release of Book 3 attest, Destined was a highly anticipated to release, and reviews since it came out confirm it was worth the wait. “Amazing. Just… amazing. The ending was everything I’d hoped it would be,” said GeOrG!a. Young adult romance loves a love triangle and the Wings series delivers; Mundie Mom on Goodreads said, “There’s some great plot twists, shocking revelations and some great swoon worthy scenes between Laurel and…. you’ll have to read the book to find out who!”

We hope some of our Arizonan readers caught Aprilynne Pike at Phoenix Comicon last weekend (highlighted in our Events Roundup)… for those of you on farther east, she continues her book tour next week, moving into Pennsylvnia, Ohio, and Illinois.

An excerpt of Destined is available on the publisher site. Order it from these popular booksellers:

 

SOON: WARDS OF FAERIE: THE DARK LEGACY OF SHANNARA by Terry Brooks, Book One of Shannara’s Dark Legacy (Random House, August 21, 2012)

Wards of Faerie is the start of a ninth series in Terry Brook’s world of Shannara which began with The Sword of Shannara in 1977. This series begins one hundred years after the last and according to the official synopsis:

When the world was young, and its name was Faerie, the power of magic ruled—and the Elfstones warded the race of Elves and their lands, keeping evil at bay. But when an Elven girl fell hopelessly in love with a Darkling boy of the Void, he carried away more than her heart.
 
Thousands of years later, tumultuous times are upon the world now known as the Four Lands. Users of magic are in conflict with proponents of science. Elves have distanced their society from the other races. The dwindling Druid order and its teachings are threatened with extinction. A sinister politician has used treachery and murder to rise as prime minister of the mighty Federation. Meanwhile, poring through a long-forgotten diary, the young Druid Aphenglow Elessedil has stumbled upon the secret account of an Elven girl’s heartbreak and the shocking truth about the vanished Elfstones. But never has a little knowledge been so very dangerous—as Aphenglow quickly learns when she’s set upon by assassins.
 
Yet there can be no turning back from the road to which fate has steered her. For whoever captures the Elfstones and their untold powers will surely hold the advantage in the devastating clash to come. But Aphenglow and her allies—Druids, Elves, and humans alike—remember the monstrous history of the Demon War, and they know that the Four Lands will never survive another reign of darkness. But whether they themselves can survive the attempt to stem that tide is another question entirely.

Information about this news series is very scarce and precious right now… there is not a review to be found, be it professional or in the Goodreads community. Earlier this month Grim Oak Press auctioned off a signed Advanced Reader Copy of Wards of Faerie (proceeds going toward the medical bills of Terry Brooks’s webmaster since battling cancer) and it a fan quickly usedthe Buy It Now button to get that ARC for $1000. When the inside scoop is a little less costly, we will tell you about it here!

No real excerpt is available yet, but you can read the first page on Suvudu.com! Look for Wards of Faerie on August 21 or preorder:

 

CLASSIC: THOMAS THE RHYMER by Ellen Kushner (Spectra, 1990)

Ellen Kushner’s World Fantasy Award-winning novel is a retelling of the  Child Ballad of Thomas Learmonth/Tam Lin set in the thirteenth century. The ballad is a Scottish classic that has inspired stories from Patricia Wrede, Raymond Feist, and Dianna Wynne Jones, but this story from Ellen Kushner is one of the most celebrated.

Award-winning author and radio personality Ellen Kushner’s inspired retelling of an ancient legend weaves myth and magic into a vivid 
contemporary novel about the mysteries of the human heart. Brimming with ballads, riddles, and magical transformations, here is the timeless tale of a charismatic bard whose talents earn him a two-edged otherworldly gift.

A minstrel lives by his words, his tunes, and sometimes by his lies. But when the bold and gifted young Thomas the Rhymer awakens the desire of the powerful Queen of Elfland, he finds that words are not enough to keep him from his fate. As the Queen sweeps him far from the people he has known and loved into her realm of magic, opulence—and captivity—he learns at last what it is to be truly human. When he returns to his home with the Queen’s parting gift, his great task will be to seek out the girl he loved and wronged, and offer her at last the tongue that cannot lie.

Helions on Goodreads said, “It’s lyrical, beautiful and quite evocative and I think it deserves the accolades and awards it’s garnered.” Susan on Goodreads said, “Ellen Kushner has done more to bring the world of the Fae alive than anything else I’ve ever read.”

An excerpt is available on the publisher site. Order Thomas the Rhymer from these popular booksellers:

Look for another three Fantastic books from FairyRoom this time next week!

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The Strange Fairy Ring in the Remote Wooded Hills of Tirisfal Glades (World of Warcraft)

In the massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) World of Warcraft (better known by many as “WoW”), a mysterious ritual in a remote part of the game’s landscape takes place. High in the wooded hills of Tirisfal Glades is a hidden glade called the Whispering Forest where a ring of mushrooms marks the location of a strange event. A lucky traveler might witness the rare appearance of seven creatures, part fairy, part dragon. They fly in a slow dance around the circle, then perform a mystical display of light within the ring of magical glowing mushrooms. When they do this, the woodlands resonate with a soft unearthly music. The ritual is easy to miss, and once it has been completed the faerie dragons (also called “darters,” or in this case specifically “Fey-Drunk Darters”) quickly disappear again into the stillness of the forest.

It is likely that the ring of glowing mushrooms and the faerie dragon ritual were added to the game as merely a bit of fun, but many players have speculated extensively as to the possible implications of the event to the overall story of the game world. Not much is known about the faerie dragons other than that they are benevolent protectors of nature, and that they often ally with the druids of the world, who are also dedicated to the preservation of the natural order. Some believe that the faerie dragons in the Whispering Forest are performing a binding ritual to keep an Old God—a creature of great power and evil—bound deep in the earth. Others believe that the ritual is connected to the Emerald Dream; an alternate dimension of the world that is a pure reflection of nature untarnished, and the place from which druids in the World of Warcraft draw their power.

Regardless of its possible significance to the greater plots within World of Warcraft, it is a rare and beautiful event, and an obvious reverential reference to the folklore (dating back to at least medieval times) about these mycological occurrences.

Fairy rings are one of nature’s many strange phenomena, encouraging a great deal of speculation specifically within folklore due to their striking appearance. They are said to mark the location of fairy dances, or rituals. Although modern mycology (the study of fungi) can easily explain the unusual appearance of fairy rings, they nonetheless continue to inspire art and literature of a more fanciful nature.

Much like the event within the game, fairy rings themselves have a wide variety of interpretations in folklore in cultures across the globe, but the general consensus is that such formations are best left alone. Nevertheless, here at FairyRoom, we are fascinated, and plan to explore more.