shield-crocus-by-michael-r-underwood

Michael R. Underwood might best be known to those of us in the SFF blogosphere as one of the main sales and marketing managers at Angry Robot Books. However, the really exciting thing about Underwood isn’t his role at the publisher, but his work on the other side of the table, as author of Geekomancy, Celebromancy, and upcoming releases like Attack of the Geek and Shield and Crocus, his first foray into epic fantasy.

And, my does it sound epic. I caught up with Underwood to chat about Shield and Crocus, the recently revealed cover art, and what it’s like working with 47North.

“This book has meant the world to me for so long, and it’s a dream come true to get to share it with readers,” he told me when I asked him about Shield and Crocus. “I can’t wait to invite people into Audec-Hal to meet the Shields and hear their story.”

Underwood might best be known for his urban fantasy, but “Shield and Crocus is a project that’s been with me for the better part of ten years,” he told me. Read More »

the-dragonbone-chair-whelan

DAW Books announced today via press release that they have bought a new trilogy from Tad Williams, The Last King of Osten Ard. This is a notable event, as Williams returns to the series that launched him to stardom and influenced George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. The Last King of Osten Ard is a direct sequel to Memory, Sorrow and Thorn.

Which just so happens to be my favourite completed fantasy trilogy of all time.

I’m chuffed.

The press release has the first details about the new trilogy:

In this new trilogy, Williams journeys back to the magical land of Osten Ard and continues the story of beloved characters King Simon and Queen Miriamele, married now for thirty years, and introduces newcomer Prince Morgan, their heir apparent. Also expanded is the story of the twin babies born to Prince Josua and Lady Vorzheva—a birth heralded by prophecy, which has been the subject of feverish fan speculation since the release of To Green Angel Tower in 1993.

In The Last King of Osten Ard, Williams returns with the ingenious worldbuilding, jaw dropping twists and turns, and unparalleled storytelling that have made him one of fantasy’s brightest stars for more thirty years.

The trilogy, The Witchwood Crown, Empire of Grass, and The Navigator’s Children, has no release date.

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Images via Gysahl Greens Tumblr

Yesterday, Final Fantasy VI (affectionately, and confusingly known as Final Fantasy 3 when it was first released in North America) turn 20 years old. The series changed significantly in the years that followed, so it’s fun to look back at this classic game and remember the impact it had on an entire generation of gamers.

Here’s a little bit of trivia: Scott Lynch named Locke Lamora, protagonist of his popular Gentleman Bastards series, after Locke Cole, one of the central characters in Final Fantasy VI!

What is your favourite memory from Final Fantasy VI?

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Publisher: Tor Books - Pages: 1008 - Buy: Book/eBook
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Just one look at the cover of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings tells you everything you need to know about it. If you’re a fantasy virgin, a passerby in the grocery store, you can tell that it’s about knights and vivid fantastical set pieces. If you’re a long entrenched fantasy reader, you can see that, for all of publisher Tor Books’ will to make it so, the first volume of Brandon Sanderon’s The Stormlight Archives is the “next big fantasy, ” the heir apparent to Robert Jordan’s legendary and flawed opus, the Wheel of Time.

The Way of Kings is big. Thunderously huge. Sanderson might be best known for his work completing the late Robert Jordan’s series, but before that he was known to fantasy fans as one of the more exciting upcoming epic fantasists. His most popular work up to that point was the Mistborn trilogy, a self-contained series that, while applaudable for Sanderson’s eagerness to develop fascinating magic systems, suffered from poor pacing and bloat in both the second and third volumes. The longest of those volumes was two-thirds the length of The Way of Kings, the shortest about half.

Most writers are expected to write an epic fantasy in less than 200,000 words, The Way of Kings flirts with 400,000.

Since then, Sanderson’s star has risen to heights reached by few other working fantasy authors, and as a result the editorial department at Tor has slackened their reins, hoping to nurture the novelist as he attempts to fill the enormous hole left by Jordan’s passing. Even in the early pages The Way of Kings, while Sanderson is busy introducing readers to fallen gods, it’s easy to recognize his excitement at being given the reins to write an epic fantasy in the vein of Jordan, et al. Most writers are expected to write an epic fantasy in less than 200,000 words, yet The Way of Kings flirts with 400,000. Though this immense privilege and freedom for Sanderson’s ambitions hurts the novel, it also allows for a refreshing boldness and scope that the genre has been missing since the completion of the Wheel of Time and Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen. Read More »

tale-of-genji

A young man of surpassing beauty who rises to a political and romantic career of power and renown mixed with disappointment, betrayal, and demonic possession.  Also, he glows.

A minor noblewoman has a tragic love affair with an emperor.  She dies, leaving behind her child — a young man of surpassing beauty who rises to a political and romantic career of power and renown mixed with disappointment, betrayal, and demonic possession.  Also, he glows.

Welcome to the Tale of Genji, the Japanese story of romance, ghosts, poetry, and politics that has a good claim of being the world’s first novel. To clarify: Genji is a work of prose, not epic poetry, and written in the vernacular rather than the local courtly language (which, in early 11th century Heian Japan, would have been Chinese).  It’s also, as far as we can tell, original, without folkloric or legendary precursor.  The author, Lady Murusaki Shikibu, wove her hero and his, um, exploits out of whole cloth.  And, while many other works deal with mythological high society—gods and demons and so forth—Murusaki seems to have cared a great deal about representing (idealistically but still) her social reality.  Genji Monogatari is a work of beauty and passion and (to modern sensibilities) occasional utter weirdness, in which twenty chapters of plot turn on the accidental glimpse of one character by another through a paper screen, astrological prohibitions on travel are used to justify spending the night at a prospective lover’s house, titles take the place of names, violence is anathema, and a twenty-mile exile is worse than death. Read More »