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WARS: The Battle of Phobos Through the Eyes of Knaves

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Grail Quest Books (GQB), a partner publisher of the Middle-earth Network, is thrilled to present the annotated and illustrated special edition of Jim Perry’s WARS: The Battle of Phobos – Mavericks #1 “Firefight at Overwatch Command”; this edition includes ten original illustrations by Brian Hickey (of Ireland’s Emagine Media), plus art from the card game, as well as sixteen insightful annotations from the author about the writing of the novella and historical background from the point of view of the Maverick culture. The graphic presentation was also done by Mr. Hickey and previews of the book’s interior layout can be viewed at the link in this paragraph.

WARS is an original property created by Decipher Inc. and started as a trading card game in 2004, in part to help fill the vacuum caused by the departure of their widely acclaimed Star Wars Customizable Card Game. (Decipher also published the best-selling and award-winning The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game and Roleplaying Game from 2001-2007, and also ran the official fan club and magazine for Peter Jackson’s popular visionary film adaptations.) The property was largely developed by best-selling author, Michael A. Stackpole, and quickly branched into the roleplaying genre. “The games were promoted by several pieces of short fiction as well,” Josh Radke, says co-founder of GQB and editor of the WARS series, “but nothing that gave the property a core thread. We want to develop many of the game’s most popular characters and important locations in order to provide WARS a solid identity for years to come. Jim and Brian have done a magnificent job on this project and it deserves to be enjoyed by anyone who love stories with a heavy dose of action and characters of all types.”

Jim Perry, no stranger to those in the podcasting community, was giving the task of rounding up Preludes (the non-illustrated paperback edition that collects “Firefight at Overwatch Command” with an Earther and Gongen novella as well).

“Firefight” is a story exploring the origins and character of fan-favorite character, Jack Wilgress. “I enjoyed the chance to bring Jack Wilgress to life, taking what (WARS game developer) Mark Tuttle wrote in the story ‘Playing By the Rules’, and showing how we got here,” says Perry. “The difference between this and other tie-ins is that there is very little of Jack already established.  I immediately gravitated to him as one of the central Maverick characters, first from a practical standpoint since his card is one of the most powerful character cards in the game, and likely was already a player favorite on the Maverick side.  The other was he presents a pirate vibe with that Old West mentality which seems prevalent in the Maverick motif.  He’s sort of Errol Fynn meets Wyatt Earp meets Han Solo, the quintessential noble renegade.”

Perry expounds further: “Another joy of mine was looking at some of the Maverick cards and sprinkling the story with lines from card lore, and giving a presence to some characters that may only appear in the picture on an asset card.  My hope is that in this way, existing players can see that I’ve taken pains to really connect the story with the game, without sacrificing the story to bring it all together.  I tried to create that balance that some tie-ins struggle to achieve.”

Jack Wilgress, the focus of the Maverick series in WARS: The Battle of Phobos

Brian Hickey, the artist for this series of novellas gives us the following insight: “Wherever possible I try to give the images a “Western” feel, so that they marry up with the author’s vision for the novella. This particular image is loosely based on a promo image for Rio Bravo featuring John Wayne, where he has his rifle slung over his shoulder.

Because this image focuses on Wilgress before he becomes a renowned pirate and leader of the Knaves, I also wanted  to give a visual nod to the character’s future, hence the ghost like Maverick’s logo hovering above Jack’s head – and the view is looking up towards the stars, where his destiny lies.”

Concerning another of his illustrations Brian says: “This was my attempt to create a spacescape of Phobos and Mars. I tried to envisage what Mars would look like from the surface of Phobos and for that I took some inspiration from the paintings of Chesley K. Bonestell. In the 1940′s, he painted a series of images of Saturn, as seen from the surface of its moons. In many of the paintings Saturn dominates the skyline. I tried to give Mars that same sense of majesty.

As for our characters, I wanted Jack and Ace to look like they where experienced at jumping from a ship in space, so for that I researched images of sky divers to find good poses that gave the effect I was looking for. I tried to make Battleaxe look a little more clumsy. She’s falling in an upright position, whereas Jack and Ace are head first, embracing the dive.” Check out more of Mr. Hickey’s insights at GQB’s official website.

One of the Network’s Community Directors, ‘Eric the Viking’, reviewed “Firefight” in June and said:

“Jack Wilgress, the main character of the Maverick series of Wars books fits right in with [Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Green Arrow, modern renditions of Wolverine, Dash Rendar, Jack Sparrow, Malcom Reynalds and the rest of the] fictional pantheon of rugged bad boy charm, making this book worth reading all by himself…”

WARSThe Battle of Phobos, Mavericks #1 – “Firefight at Overwatch Command” is $20.00 and is available in the official MyMiddle-earth Store as well as at Amazon.com. Readers in the United States can also order it from their favorite local bookstore by having them e-mail Grail Quest Books directly at radkejkATmymiddleearthDOTcom. We hope you will strongly consider ordering from MME since a % of each sale goes right back into the Network and the author and artist benefit more as well.

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