Monthly Archives: November 2010

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Shades of Milk and Honey

AuthorMary Robinette Kowal

Pages: 304
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: August 3rd, 2010
ISBN-10: 076532556X
ISBN-13: 978-0765325563


Cliché as it might sound, if Jane Austen had sat down to pen a fantasy, this is the book she would have written.
     —Intergalactic Medicine Show

It might be a cliche, but it seems almost impossible to avoid commenting on Mary Robinette Kowal’s debut novel, Shades of Milk and Honey, without referring to Jane Austen and her classic works of literature. It’s a comparison encouraged by Kowal (who cites Austen as an inspiration for the novel) and her publishers, but lifts expectations to sky-high proportions. For those unfamiliar with Austen the draw of the novel is more likely the melding of classic period literature with the fantastic in the form of glamour, a type of soft magic used by high-society to decorate their homes and enhance theatre. It wouldn’t be unfair of a reader to think of the novel as Beauty and the Beast told from the perspective of the Beast, a play on the classic tale that Kowal herself subverts with some tongue-in-cheek within in the pages of Shades of Milk and Honey; or, if you’re feeling very coy, you might describe it as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies without the zombies.
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Hot on the heels of the recently released promo photos from Entertainment Weekly, we’ve got a wonderful trailer and, as far as I know, our first real glimpse of dialogue between major characters. I’m sure I’m not the only one who got chills from Ned explaining to Bran about the execution. Joffery getting bitch-slapped by Tyrion? For that matter, the look on Tyrion’s face as several swords are levelled at him? Priceless. And who would’ve guessed, when the cast was first announced, that Mark Addy would so perfectly nail Robert Baratheon?

Nitpicks? Joffery and Dany look a little over-the-top and Ned’s a bit too stocky/powerfully built. But that’s about it.

Winter is coming, indeed.

The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

The Great Hunt

AuthorRobert Jordan

Pages: 705
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: November 15, 1990
ISBN-10: 0812517725
ISBN-13: 978-0812517729

Yarr! There be spoilers for the series ahead. Ye’ve been warned!

Re-reading The Eye of the World was an interesting experience, but a bit banal. You see, thanks to its small cast of characters and traditional plot, I remembered so damn much of it that there was little surprise left within its pages. A few small things here and there, some nicely veiled foreshadowing of events that won’t transpire for thousands of pages, or an odd secondary character might have slipped my memory, but, for the most part, the novel went along exactly as I remembered it.

Not so with The Great Hunt. Hurin? Verin? Ingtar? Yeah, I couldn’t’ve told you they were in the novel. Hell, I forgot that Padan Fain was such a catalyst for the whole damn chase that comprises the core of the plot! In any case, it was a welcome change from my experience with The Eye of the World and allowed me to read the novel with a bit of excitement, as I’d forgotten what lay around every corner.
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Two new images from HBO’s adptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire:

Tyrion Lannister with a shield from HBO's GAME OF THRONES Sansa and her Dire Wolf from HBO's GAME OF THRONES

More proof that they’ve absolutely nailed Tyrion by casting Peter Dinklage. Like, seriously, that look is classic Tyrion Lannister. He’s a bit too good looking for the role, but that’s about the only knock I can put against him. I wonder if we’ll see Tyrion do a backflip in the television series, mimicking the strangely out-of-character scene from early in A Game of Thrones?

Sansa looks good, older than I’d pictured her, but they’ve aged her (and all the rest of the children) for the sake of the show, so that’s to be expected. There’s been some bellyaching about the size of the Dire Wolf, but, far as I’m concerned, they’re just pups for the first book or two anyway. As long as they grow through the course of the first few seasons, I don’t think it will negatively impact the show. It’s better than shitty CGI animals (which a television show likely wouldn’t have the budget to properly accomplish with any sort of justice).

A few more photos can be found in Entertainment Weekly magazine or at The Making of Game of Thrones website.

Angry Robot Books

The official release from Angry Robot Books:

On December 1st 2010, Angry Robot will be launching “Nano Editions”. Exclusive to the publisher’s own webstore at, Nanos are digital short stories by Angry Robot novelists, sold at sensible prices in ePub format, ready to load onto the world’s most popular eBook readers.

Most Nanos will be in the 5,000 – 15,000 word range. Shorter works than that will be automatically bundled with another story to ensure value for money.

Talking of which – stories will cost just 59p each (approximately US $0.95). Readers can bundle a collection of any 10 by any combination of authors, for only £3.49 (US$5.59). The files will be DRM-free and available worldwide. If demand for the stories takes off, AR plan to also sell them via eBook retailers.

Angry Robot Editor Lee Harris said, “Publishing is changing, but our role as publishers remains the same – to find cool stories and bring them to readers. This is another step in Angry Robot’s ongoing plan to embrace the new opportunities digital formats provide – and an excellent way for readers to sample unfamiliar authors, without breaking the bank.”

Authors included in the Nanos series include multi-million-selling novelist Dan Abnett and award-winning short fiction authors Kaaron Warren and Aliette de Bodard, along with many others. We will have at least 30 Nanos available for the December 1st launch, with more added at regular intervals.

I’m a huge supporter of eBooks and eReaders being a necessary tool in allowing short fiction to not only sustain itself, but actually grow its audience. There’s an endless supply of great short fiction available on the Internet and eReaders have finally made those stories readable in a comfortable format—no more sitting in front of the computer monitor to enjoy the latest edition of Clarkesworld or Beneath Ceaseless Skies, I can now read them from the comfortable, soothing suds of my bubble bath.

So it’s nice to see more publishers getting on board with digitally distributed short fiction. It’s a bit of a shame that, like Orbit Books, Angry Robot Books is opening the platform only to authors already in their library (as opposed to, who is open to submissions from all authors), but it’s a start. Selling them for a fee (even a small fee) is also a concerning given how many publications provide their fiction for free on their websites. Still, the writers of these stories deserve to be paid, and, no doubt, they won’t be supported by ads, sponsors or donations like many of those websites that offer free fiction. I do like the idea of a make-your-own-anthology style bundle and hopefully the small cost means we’ll see eBooks created with proper care and attention to aesthetics, something still lacking in much of the ePublishing world.