Monthly Archives: May 2012

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, art by Michael Whelan

It’s a little underwhelming for a Whelan cover, and, frankly, wouldn’t stand out from the crowd if not for being a Wheel of Time novel, but it’s still one of the better covers in the series. I also hold Whelan to the highest standards in the industry, so it’s not unreasonable to expect his style to be somewhat constrained trying to work inside the rules established by the previous thirteen volumes of The Wheel of Time. Compared to the art for the rest of the series, it stands out not only for its quality, but for the stylistic differences. It will never look quite right sitting against the Sweet covers, regardless of how much I love Whelan as an artist. For reference, you can see the mockup that I created using the original Darrel K. Sweet artwork. The full artwork is gorgeous: Read More »

Charles Vess' cover for The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

So, this is amazing. I was first introduced to Charles Vess through his collaboration with Neil Gaiman on Stardust, wherein I fell immediately in love with his art. I’ve previously shown off some of this Wheel of Time sketches, but I wasn’t aware that the full-colour cover for The Eye of the World: From the Two Rivers was ever revealed. So pretty. Vess’s renditions of Rand, Perrin, Mat, and Elayne(? or a red-haired Egwene?) are as whimsical and full of character as I’ve come to expect from him. How have I not seen these before?
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The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Prisoner of Heaven returns to the world of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the Sempere & Sons bookshop, where Daniel, and his old friend Fermín Romero de Torres, are tending shop. Daniel is now married with a son, and Fermín is soon to follow. Both men lead relatively happy and quiet lives. Enter an enigmatic visitor–a grim old man with a piercing gaze–who inquires about Fermín’s whereabouts. When told he is not in, the old man proceeds to buy the most expensive item in the store, a first edition of The Count of Monte Cristo, adds a dedication and leaves it as a present for Fermín. When Daniel reveals the details of this unsettling encounter to his friend, Fermín reads the dedication, turns pale, and at Daniel’s insistence, decides to open up about a past that has come back to haunt him…a story that will leave Daniel questioning his very existence.

A direct sequel to my favourite ever novel? With a gorgeous cover? Returning to Sempere & Sons and The Cemetary of Forgotten Books, sidling in alongside an older Daniel Sempere and an always gregarious and charming Fermin, just can’t come soon enough. After hitting a bit of a road bump with The Angel’s Game (REVIEW), I have the utmost (to a silly degree, perhaps) faith that Zafon is back in the playground he’s meant to play in.

For more of my thoughts, see the post I did about the Spanish cover for the The Prisoner of Heaven.

The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin

To anyone who’s read this blog, or is generally acquainted with the popular Fantasy fiction from the last several years, N.K. Jemisin needs no introduction. She’s been nominated for a serious number of awards (Locus, Hugo, Nebula), and, since the release of her first novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (REVIEW), has become something of a force in the Fantasy genre.

The synopsis for The Killing Moon is enough to get any jaded fan interested:

In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers – the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe . . . and kill those judged corrupt.

But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru – the most famous of the city’s Gatherers – must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is stalking its prey both in Gujaareh’s alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill – or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.

The Killing Moon is the first volume of her latest series, The Dreamblood Duology, and has received a number of positive reviews around the web. If, like me, you’re excited about Jemisin’s work, it looks like you won’t be let down. If you’re unaware of Jemisin, or haven’t tried her fiction, this is the perfect place to start.

And the reviews:

The Book Smugglers:

Gripping. Fascinating. Cool. All these mighty fine words that can be used to describe The Killing Moon. From lavish descriptions of Gujaareh and its temples and palaces to the detailed aspects of the social, political and religious structures, all of them intrinsically connected around the worship of the Goddess of Dreams, all is superbly well done. Although at points I did think there was a certain excess of exposition, I can’t deny that I gobbled it all up with pleasure. Although it is clear from early on who is behind the conspiracy that, I feel, is not the point of the story – the point is not only the HOW and the WHY but also the ways that said conspiracy and its motivation impact or will impact in the Modus Vivendi of not only the Gujaareh people but also of other peoples. Beyond that, even despite the originality of the setting, the idea behind the magic system being rooted in dream theory and the Dream-world as a PLACE reminded me a lot of Gaiman’s Sandman (not to mention that I thought of the Corinthian as well when the Reaper starts to make an appearance ) and this is a very positive thing in my book.

Also and I don’t think I can emphasise enough the level of coolness present in The Killing Moon but: NINJA PRIESTS. Yeah, baby.

[...]

What is so impressive about Gujaareh (and the other peoples we see in this book, particularly those of Kisua) is in its utterly fantastic holistic believability. We believe in this world and its characters because the culture is so well defined, the rules of magic so wholly conceived, the tensions between classes, between natives and foreigners, so utterly genuine. Reading a society like that of the Gujaareen makes it so glaringly apparent how lacking so many contemporary fantasy novels are in comparison – N.K. Jemisin’s worldbuilding is of the highest grade, and nigh unparalleled.

[...]

I loved this novel deeply, and I cannot wait for The Shadowed Sun. The Killing Moon, to put it simply, is the best book I have read in 2012 thus far.

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