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2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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Jun 4th, 2011
European Book Tour 2011
Finally! After over seven years of being a member of Dragonmount, I finally got a perk! And that perk was being sat next to Brandon Sanderson at his recent book signing at the Forbidden Planet Megastore in London on Saturday 4th June 2011. And this I believe was his first book signing in the country—and hopefully it won't be the last!
Arriving at the store about half an hour before the schedule 1pm start, my girlfriend (a member of the forums that goes by the username North Star) and I were taken backstage to meet the team involved with the book signing. There we saw Brandon Sanderson updating his Twitter status to say that he was finally in the UK! My girlfriend was cheeky and got one of her copies of the Mistborn books signed, as well as one for a friend.
It was at this point that we got an understanding of the plan for the day. Brandon Sanderson wanted to start the book signing with a reading that seemed to have caught the store’s staff off guard as they hadn't planned for it! What was meant to be a reading of about five minutes was nearer to ten, but I am sure the fans wouldn't complain, even if they had to stand! And I think the store were surprised at the number of fans who turned up—at the start, it was probably around the 75 mark, and was definitely a lot more by the end of the book signing.
Spoilers for Mistborn: The Alloy of Law
Brandon Sanderson read from chapter 1 of the book, which focuses on the character Waxillium Ladrian. The passage focused on Waxillium getting an unexpected meeting from someone related to an incident that happened six months ago. He was back in the city, having put his guns down and focusing on trade. And that incident was a tragedy when chasing a psychopath in a Wild Wild West environment that affected Waxillium on the inside. It sounded intriguing, and I am sure Mistborn fans can't wait!
End of spoilers.
Questions also focused on Sanderson's books, so I will have to put some of those in. Sadly, I haven't gotten around to reading them yet, but I have heard nothing but good reviews. I will get their eventually! I made a start by buying the first two parts of the first book of the Mistborn trilogy!
It was time to move onto the book signing, and because of the numbers, which continued to swell, Sanderson said he was happy to stay until about 3:30pm to 4pm. It was at this point that Sanderson stated that he would personalise a couple of books (this definitely got ignored!). He also had a small dig at the likes of Amazon, which reduced the price of books, but didn't allow for book signings—something that gives book stores an advantage.
The event then moved onto the book signing itself. I really wished I had kept a count of how many people turned up. Overall, I would say it was well over 100, if not nearer 150. It might have been many more! So, a great success. British fans came from all over the country, with Ipswich and Norwich to the East, York and Durham to the north, Wales to the west and of course London and the south. Europe was also represented, with fans coming from the Netherlands (where I gather there was an impromptu meet when Sanderson got delayed with his flights) and Sweden. I can't see Sanderson dodging Scandinavia again, as I got the impression the Oslo signing was a huge success. Special mention must go to the American fans that turned up as well.
A whole range of books appeared to be signed, coming from Sanderson’s series and the books he has written in the Wheel of Time series. The most surprising book to appear was an advance reading copy (ARC) of The Way of Kings. Sanderson advised the owner of this book to look after it well, considering that some ARC can fetch a small fortune!
Sadly, no one dressed up. Sanderson did get a few gifts. A fan from Wales had brought along a Dalek keyring. One fan had written his name down on a piece of paper, gave it to his sister who gave it to Sanderson to hopefully use in a future book. One had written a letter to Sanderson, which he would read later.
Once all fans had been and gone, a few hung back. While getting his books signed, one fan, Matt, had brought his Magic: The Gathering cards along with him and mentioned this to Brandon Sanderson, who admitted that they might play at the end of the signing if time allowed. Matt returned, and both Sanderson and Matt played a quick game in the store. From what I gathered (as I don't know much about the game), Matt seemed to make a good start, then Sanderson pulled out an ace card and Matt lost in three moves! Matt didn't seem to mind—I think the experience of playing a game with Sanderson was far more important!
At the end of the signing, the staff from Forbidden Planet felt it had been one of their more successful book signings. Personally, I agree with that. I put that down to the fact that this was Sanderson's first time in the UK, and I don’t there had ever been a Wheel of Time related event like this here either. I do hope those involved in the Wheel of Time series and Sanderson’s team take note of this—there is a huge fan base over here in Europe just waiting for you! The Towers of Midnight tour was a huge success in North America—there is no reason why something similar for A Memory of Light wouldn't work in Europe!
And finally, I would like to thank Jennifer for giving myself and my girlfriend the chance to attend and for our special access. And I would also like to thank all the fans that took the time to come to the signing—without you, it wouldn't have been a success!
There is a gallery of pictures relating to the day under the gallery section of the website. I apologise to Matt—I do have the picture of you playing Magic: The Gathering with Brandon Sanderson, but the picture is too big to upload. If you do drop by the site, drop me a message and I will send it over to you!