Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Excerpt from "The Synopsis Treasury" edited by Christopher Sirmons Haviland

I wasn't able to review this collection, but it seemed too interesting to not showcase somehow. Here is the description from the publisher:


"The Synopsis Treasury" is a collection of actual story proposals submitted to publishers by grandmasters, award winners, international bestsellers, and rising stars of science fiction and fantasy, including H.G. Wells, Jack Williamson, Andre Norton, Robert A. Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, Terry Brooks, Joe Haldeman, Orson Scott Card, and many others.

In addition, "The Synopsis Treasury" includes editorial feedback by the legendary Frederik Pohl and Damon Knight, and an Introduction by Betsy Mitchell, former Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Del Rey, who has evaluated thousands of synopses in her career.
This is an unprecedented new book that will be a must-read for writing students and fans alike!


A writer since the age of ten, Terry Brooks published his first novel, The Sword of Shannara, in 1977. He has written over thirty best-selling novels, as well as movie adaptations of Hook and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and a memoir on his writing life titled Sometimes the Magic Works. He has sold over thirty million copies of his books domestically and is published worldwide. His Magic Kingdom series is currently under option at Warner Brothers with Steve Carell attached to the project as producer and star. The Shannara series has been optioned by Sonar Entertainment and MTV and the first season will air in 2015. The author lives with his wife Judine in the Pacific Northwest. 

The core of the plotline for Magic Kingdom for Sale (once upon a time known as Holiday’s Magic) came from Lester del Rey, my editor back in the early ’80s, who by the way also changed the title to its present form. He gave me the idea on loan for one year. The understanding was that if I wrote the book, the idea was mine. If I didn’t, he got it back from me. It seemed a fair deal to me, so I took it. Of course, two such diverse minds ended up going in opposite directions. Lester envisioned the book as a sort of Piers Anthony Zanth (sic.) story with lots of jokes and humor. I saw it as something much darker. I kept thinking about how desperate someone must be to buy such a ridiculous item out of a catalogue. A magic kingdom? Really? Why would anyone do that? Flying home from New York after deciding to write this book, I found myself wondering who would be so desperate. Clearly someone who was very dissatisfied with his life. The mind goes where it wants to, and mine began to mesh the story of Ben Holiday with my own. I was a lawyer, not happy in my life in almost every respect, desperate to leave it behind. Holy cow, I thought. This is my story! A year later, the book was published, and I had left the practice of law and moved to Seattle to write fulltime. I don’t often talk about how I see Magic Kingdom as autobiographical. But this is how I wrote my way out of the practice of law and into a writing life. That’s as true as it gets. 
—Terry Brooks

Magic Kingdom for Sale
By Terry Brooks

How much would you pay for a magic kingdom? Not one with a Disney logo and a lot of mechanical rides, but the real thing—a land that you once believed only existed in fairy tales? 
That’s the question facing Ben Holiday. It isn’t the money that gives him pause so much as it is the preposterousness of the idea that such a place could even exist.
But there it is, all spelled out in black and white in the current edition of Rosen’s, Ltd.

Christmas Wishbook: 
Magic Kingdom for Sale 

Landover—Island of enchantment and adventure rescued from the mists of time, home of knights and knaves, of dragons and damsels, of wizards and warlocks. Magic mixes with iron, and chivalry is the code of life for the true hero. All of your fantasies become real in this kingdom from another world. Only one thread to this whole cloth is lacking—you, to rule over all as King and High Lord. Escape into your dreams, and be born again. 

Price: $1,000,000. 

Personal interview and financial disclosure required. 

Inquire of Meeks, home office. 

A high-powered trial lawyer with nothing to lose and everything to gain, Ben Holiday is tempted. The deaths of his wife and unborn child in a car accident and his disillusionment with the practice of law have left him ready for a change. But this kind of change seems impossible. There must be a gimmick, even though the offer is advertised in the catalogue of one of the most highly respected department stores in the business. Places like Landover don’t exist. Places like Landover can be found only in children’s books.

Ben decides to find out anyway, wanting to believe, hoping that maybe there is just enough truth to the ad to make it worth his while. So he goes to New York and a meeting with Meeks, the intimidating old man who is invested with the power to decide if Ben should be given a chance to make the purchase. To Ben’s astonishment, Meeks decides that he should. To his further astonishment, he decides that he will.

Abandoning his law practice and his life, Ben goes off to the magic kingdom of Landover and discovers that it does exist and is indeed what was advertised in the Christmas catalogue—a place out of time and dreams, a fairytale come true. 

Unfortunately, it is a few things more, as well, and none of them are good. Ben is a King in name only. His court consists of an inept wizard, a talking dog, and two monkey-faced kobolds with sharp teeth. The treasury is depleted and the army disbanded. The castle that serves as his home is falling apart. No one in all of Landover cares whether Ben is King or not, save the Iron Mark, the Demon Lord out of Abaddon who has made a practice out of disposing Landover’s Kings for the past twenty years. 

Ben has been tricked into making a bargain that will either cost him the money he has paid (along with a good chunk of his self-respect) or his life. He is threatened at every turn—by the Lords of the Greensward, who prefer life without a King to rule over them; the River Master, who commands the fairy folk and thinks the King an anachronism; the witch Nightshade, who hates Kings of any kind and Ben in particular; and the Dragon Strabo, whose power is exceeded only by that of the King’s champion, the Paladin.
But the Paladin has been absent since the death of the old King, and no one thinks he exists anymore.

Then he appears several times after Ben arrives in Landover, twice saving his life, and opinions begin to shift. When Ben decides not to quit, as Meeks had intended he should, but to stick it out, even with his life at stake, opinions begin to shift further. A journey through his kingdom persuades him that he has found a place worth fighting for. He finds an unexpected ally in the beautiful sylph Willow, who tells him on their first meeting that she is destined to be with him forever, even though she turns into a tree every twenty days or so. He wins friends in unexpected quarters, some better than others, some truer of heart. One by one, he confronts all those who stand against him and whose allegiance he must win. One by one, he wins them over. 

But, in the end, it takes a battle to the death with the Iron Mark to take the measure of Ben’s determination and to reveal to him the truth about what it really means to be the King of a Magic Kingdom.

Buy it on Amazon

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