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Serpent Catch Series

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Series Description:

Long ago Earth’s paleobiologists established the planet Anee as a vast storehouse of extinct species, each continent home to life forms of a different era. For a thousand years the starfarers’ great sea serpents formed a wall of teeth and flesh that protected Smilodon Bay from the ravaging dinosaurs that swam across the ocean from Hotland. Now the serpents are gone and Anee is being ravaged by tyranny, war and slavery.

Tull, son to a human father and a Neanderthal mother, feels doomed to toil his life away as a common field hand, but his mission becomes clear when he takes action to save his homeland. Tull must seek a distant river in the slave nation of Craal, where young serpents can be found. Legend has it that Adjonai, the Neanderthal god of terror, is king of Craal. Yet only by facing this dark enemy can Tull hope to bring home his serpent catch alive.

About this book:

Serpent Catch is a collection originally published as two novels, Serpent Catch and Path of the Hero. This duology was published under David Farland’s given name of Dave Wolverton.

Of its writing, Dave says, “My first novel, On My Way to Paradise, went on the bestseller list for five months and won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for “Best Novel in the English Language.”  Shortly after it was completed, my editor asked, “So, David, what are you going to do next?”

“I told her that I wanted to write a big fantasy, something like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.  She said, “But, you’re a bestselling science fiction author.  You just wrote a brilliant cyberpunk novel.  We don’t ever want to see a fantasy from you!”

“At the time, I had been plotting a fantasy, so I switched gears back to science fiction.  This was in early 1990.  In about February, I went to a little science fiction conference at Brigham Young University, and there I heard a paleontologist talking about how he had recently extracted a long chain of DNA from the bones of an extinct supersaurus.  Now, that was cool.

“You see, as a child, I had loved to play with dinosaurs, and at one time I had even dreamt of how you might someday make dinosaurs.  I knew that people who studied dinosaurs were called paleontologists, and people who studied life were called biologists, and people who made things were called engineers, and people who studied genetics were called geneticists, so in the second grade I reasoned that if I wanted to learn how to make dinosaurs, I would have to become a paleogenetic biological engineer.   Obviously, I was born in the wrong century.

“So I got to thinking about how to write a novel that would let me revel in my childhood fantasies.  I reasoned that maybe I should do an “Island of Doctor Moreau” story—one where scientists on a deserted island in the Pacific were creating dinosaurs.  Maybe a family could crash-land their plane on the island, and have to figure out how to escape the dinosaurs!

“I rejected the idea as being too simplistic.  I didn’t know that Michael Crichton was working on the same idea at that time, and that he’d write about it in Jurassic Park.  Our novels would later hit the bookstores within a few days of one another.

“Besides, I thought, the idea sounded too much like my first novel—drawn and illustrated when I was seven.  It was called “The Secret of Dinosaur Island.”

“So I decided to make the island a planet, and it would have people on it, and Neanderthals, and it would have futuristic machines and all kinds of cool stuff.  I wanted a slightly fantastic element, so I decided that the Neanderthals would have shamans called “spirit walkers.”  You see, I just couldn’t give up the idea of writing a fantasy, so I decided to move toward it gradually.

“Me editor at the time looked at my outline and said, “This looks absolutely great, but it’s too long.  We’d like you to do it as two novels.  With some minor changes (my editor wanted to have a Neanderthal prophecy about the coming of a savior), I went to work.

“I was terribly ill at this time.  I’d contracted chronic fatigue syndrome a couple of years earlier, so I was really pushing my limits.  I’ve often thought that I’d like to go back and edit these books, making the style fit more with my current style, and someday I plan to create a “Legacy edition” of the books.

“But I wrote the first book and it got rave reviews and once again it stayed up on the bestseller lists for a surprisingly long time.  It sold brilliantly, but after I turned in the second novel in the series, my publisher got bought out by a house that wasn’t too thrilled with science fiction and fantasy.  The new publisher laid off just about everyone in the entire division, and I believe that over a hundred authors had to find new homes.  When the second book in the series came out, my editor said, “You know, I think we made a grave mistake.  If we had published both books as one, I think it would have become one of the all-time classics in the field.”  Instead, the new publisher printed far fewer copies than the other book had sold, and so readers of the original, in most cases, never got to finish the series.

“In this book, I was exploring some strong personal themes—themes of emotional emasculation, child abuse, the difference between sex versus love, and so on.  If this book were a movie, it would definitely be R-rated.  So I’d like to warn readers about the adult themes of the book.

“For a long time, I’ve wanted to rewrite this book, combine both novels into one issue.  So I’m putting these both up as e-books.  I’ve also wanted to rewrite them.  When I first wrote them, I was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, and I didn’t have the energy that I would have liked.  So I intend, someday, to edit these, taming the adult themes and putting it more into my personal style now.  I’ll call them the “Legacy edition.”

Both novels went on to nice acclaim.  In a bookstore in California, there used to be a science fiction section where the store owners had their “Fifty best science fiction books of all time.”  My first three novels were kept in that section, including both of these books.  A lot of fans have liked them.  I hope that you do, too.

About the author:

Known as the “Wizard of Storytelling,” David Farland is the author of fifty novels These include novels for adults, young adults, anthologies, middle-grade readers, and picture books.

His first short story, “On My Way to Paradise,” won the grand prize for the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest and was immediately written into a full length novel for Bantam Books. He continued to write science fiction for ten years under his given name of David Wolverton, during which he wrote several best sellers. After having mastered science fiction, David began writing fantasy, and has gone on to garner numerous awards, including the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for best science fiction novel, and more recently, the Whitney Award for best novel of the year.

David set a Guinness Record for the world’s largest booksigning–a record that he still holds. He enjoys teaching others and is known for having taught many great emerging writers and had a part in their success, including Stephanie Meyer, Brandon Sanderson and Eric Flint. In many cases his words of wisdom caused the new author to sell their first story. Now he has the privilege of helping other struggling would-be writers to achieve their success. He says, “Nobody makes it alone. We each build on one another.”

As part of his dedication to helping other writers, David writes the David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants, an email bulletin for writers or those who would be writers. Many authors rave about how it has helped them. Out of devotion, he provides the Daily Kick free. You can register to receive it on his web page at davidfarland.net.


“By keeping his moral vision firmly wedded to a gripping plot, [Farland] creates speculative fiction with both emotional depth and resonance.” –Publishers Weekly

“No one who has read much of Farland’s work doubts that this is a major talent.” –The magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

And from Orson Scott Card, we have the following review, which was published in the “Books to Look For” section of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction:

 “You want to know what I think is hot? How about a novel in which a writer takes a now-ancient science fiction motif — the revival of Neanderthal man — and makes something astonishingly powerful and fresh out of it? While Path of the Hero is as rip-snorting an adventure as you could hope to find — a world at war, alliance of many sentient creatures coming together in a last-ditch effort to win their freedom from a slave-based empire, characters you know and care about finding love and meaning in the midst of death and chaos — it is also a profoundly philosophical work.

“In [Farland’s] world of Anee (previously visited in Serpent Catch, a prequel which you do not have to read in order to enjoy Path), terraformers from Earth created a vast zoo in which they restored the flora and fauna of the Jurassic, Miocene, and Pliocene on three separate continents. Several sentient and near-sentient species of proto-humans were included, and when the alien Eridani from another star system effectively ended all human starflight, these ancient people and Homo sapiens were forced to make the best of things on the surface of the Earth.

“Now, long after, two dangers face Anee. The slavers are making their final bid for world domination, wiping out the last strongholds of freedom; and the descendants of the original paleobiologists are now mindlessly setting out to destroy sentient life because it is endangering the environment. And the best hope of stopping both is a man named Tull, who is half human and half Neanderthal — or, as they call themselves, Pwi.

“For me, what lifts this book out of the first rank of quest-adventures and onto another plane entirely is Wolveton’s creation of the Pwi, a people who are as loving and spiritual as Homo sapiens is angry and rational. The Pwi have much greater strength, but also much more compassion, and in the process of this book we learn that the Neanderthals were not defeated in their contest with Homo sapiens. Rather they made a tactical decision, to bide their time until a future that could truly belong to them, the kind of world on which they could happily live. This book is about the struggle to make Anee that world.”

Both Eyes Open By David Farland
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