One of the big problems with signing works in translation, according to many American editors, is the language barrier. It's the chicken/egg scenario: how can your average unilingual American editor decide to translate and publish a book until he or she has read an English version? To eliminate this particular hurdle, Trident Media chairman Robert Gottlieb funded his own translation of a Russian bestseller to help spur a deal. Now, as Tor prepares to publish the first book in Alexey Pehov's fantasy trilogy, Gottlieb is talking confidently about a Russian invasion of fantasy writers.

Gottlieb, who's been doing business in Russia for years—Trident has a book packaging business in the country—found out about Pehov through his network of colleagues and friends in the country. Although Gottlieb doesn't read Russian, he was told enough about Pehov's series, he said, to foot the bill for a translation. That Pehov's trilogy also sold over a million copies in Russia was also an encouragement, Gottlieb added.

Tom Doherty at Tor, who acquired the trilogy, is now working with contributing editor Pat LoBrutto (who edits the Dune prequels) on the first book, Shadow Prowler. LoBrutto said the book has “universal appeal” and likened it to titles by genre authors Terry Goodkind and Robert Jordan. It has a “band of brothers—like quality,” LoBrutto said of the series, which follows a group of warriors in search of a talisman needed to prevent the world from being taken over by an evil sorcerer. There are elements that pull from Russian folk tales, according to LoBrutto, but “unless you were versed in Russian culture and history you wouldn't pick up on this.”

For Gottlieb, whose agency retained world and audio and film rights on the Pehov series, and will be selling foreign rights in Frankfurt, the hope is that this cross-continental deal will be one of many. “There's this new generation of young Russian writers, born [toward] the end of the Communist period, who grew up in the '90s... who have a different outlook on literature than what was allowed under the rule of communism,” Gottlieb said. To that end Gottlieb, who is already working with two other Russian fantasy writers, is focused on bringing over other Russian scribes working in genres that “travel well between borders and cultures.” But Gottlieb feels there's little concern about this new batch of foreigners getting lost in translation. “This new generation of writers is very hip in terms of pop culture,” he explained. “In many ways they're more similar to American young people than [those in] any other country I've visited.”