Last night, Suvudu readers had a chance to take part in a one-hour moderated chat with Terry Brooks, author of the Shannara and Magic Kingdom of Landover series, and Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon and the Inheritence series, and toss questions at them.

The chat itself was alright, but I was disappointed to only have one of my questions chosen (apparently they weren’t as compelling as “Terry and Chrisopher, what are your favorite snacks for when you are writting?” or “will the last eragon book have more pages than the other 3?”). My question that did get through the moderators:

Me – Terry: As an established writer, what kind of advice do you have for a young writer like Christopher when it comes to handling the criticism that’s inherent in having a career in a creative art?

Paolini – Great question.

Brooks – I would tell Christopher that everything changes as you grow, and be prepared to abandon everything you thought you knew at some point. You have to learn flexibility. You also have to remember that this is fun before anything or it isn’t worth it. Also, you have to listen to your instincts.

Paolini – I’ll do my best to keep that in mind.

It would have been nice to see the readers challenge the authors a bit more, dig a bit deeper with their questions, but I suppose that’s the charm of these chats: it allows regular readers (meaning: not jaded, asshole bloggers like me) to get a chance to pick the brains of these authors. In any case, Paolini and Brooks had good chemistry and it was a fun way to kill an hour, especially for fans of either author.

Via his new website, Charlton released a new blurb for his upcoming debut novel, Spellwright:

Spellwright by Blake Charlton

Imagine a world in which you could peel written words off a page and make them physically real. You might pick your teeth with a sentence fragment, protect yourself with defensive paragraphs, or thrust a sharply-worded sentence at an enemy’s throat.

Such a world is home to Nicodemus Weal, an apprentice at the wizardly academy of Starhaven. Because of how fast he can forge the magical runes that create spells, Nicodemus was thought to be the Halcyon, a powerful spellwright prophesied to prevent an event called the War of Disjunction, which would destroy all human language. There was only one problem: Nicodemus couldn’t spell.

Runes must be placed in the correct order to create a spell. Deviation results in a “misspell”—a flawed text that behaves in an erratic, sometimes lethal, manner. And Nicodemus has a disability that causes him to misspell texts simply by touching them.

Now twenty-five, Nicodemus lives in the aftermath of failing to fulfill prophecy. He finds solace only in reading knightly romances and in the teachings of Magister Shannon, an old blind wizard who’s left academic politics to care for Starhaven’s disabled students.

But when a powerful wizard is murdered with a misspell, Shannon and Nicodemus becomes the primary suspects. Proving their innocence becomes harder when the murderer begins killing male cacographers one by one…and all evidence suggests that Nicodemus will be next. Hunted by both investigators and a hidden killer, Shannon and Nicodemus must race to discover the truth about the murders, the nature of magic, and themselves.

I’ve got a review copy on the way, and I find myself getting more and more eager to get my hands on Spellwright which is unusual for a debut novelist. Everything I’ve heard about the novel (from the synopsis to advance praise to my upcoming interview with Charlton) make it seem like something that’s right up my alley. I’ll be taking an eager look at Spellwright as soon as it arrives on my doorstep and you can expect a review not long after.

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

The Hero of Ages

AuthorBrandon Sanderson

Pages: 784 pages
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: October 14, 2008
ISBN-10: 0765356147
ISBN-13: 978-0765356147

The Final Empire, the first volume of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy kicked my ass (in a good way). A great blend of original ideas, charming characters a nicely self-contained story (no real cliffhangers to speak of), and good ol’ fashioned ’80’s style fantasy. It brought me back to my roots, reminded me of when I first discovered the genre through the likes of Terry Brooks, Raymond E. Feist and R.A. Salvatore. Maybe not for everyone, in the age of Joe Abercrombies and Hal Duncans, but an accessible novel that left me wanting more.

Sanderson followed that up with The Well of Ascension, which turned out to be a massive disappointment. Instead of delivering on the promises of the first novel, Sanderson left his characters at a stalemate, giving them time to evolve, sure, but grinding the plot and world development to a halt. Gone were most of the most interesting elements of The Final Empire (the forbidding Steel Inquisitors, most notably) and in their place were insipid, weak characters dealing with politics and love stories that I just didn’t give a damn about. Elend, in particular, regressed from a confident paramour to a self-doubting child thrust into a position of rule. It felt false, and, even worse, pointless.

So, home-run in his first at-bat, flaming strikeout in his second, how was Sanderson to fare with his third (and final) attempt? Let’s call it a ground-rule-double. The Hero of Ages succeeds, but doesn’t quite hit it out of the park like the first volume.
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The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F Hamilton

Another solid cover from Subterranean Press. Nice and epic, with Sub Press‘s polish and good use of text.

Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn trilogy is one that I’ve wanted to read for a long time, spent hours hunting down used copies of the novels (of course, almost as soon as I found all six paperbacks, Orbit Books went and re-released them…!), but everytime I pick up that first volume (and strain a muscle in my back), I get terribly intimidated by the length of the trilogy and put it back down. I need some excuse (maybe some travel?) to convince me to dive right on in. I know I’ll enjoy it.

Scalzi just posted a new cover for The God Engines, a novella set to be published by Subterranean Press:

The God Engines by John Scalzi

Captain Ean Tephe is a man of faith, whose allegiance to his lord and to his ship is uncontested. The Bishopry Militant knows this — and so, when it needs a ship and crew to undertake a secret, sacred mission to a hidden land, Tephe is the captain to whom the task is given.

Tephe knows from that the start that his mission will be a test of his skill as a leader of men and as a devout follower of his god. It’s what he doesn’t know that matters: to what ends his faith and his ship will ultimately be put — and that the tests he will face will come not only from his god and the Bishopry Militant, but from another, more malevolent source entirely…

Author John Scalzi has ascended to the top ranks of modern science fiction with the best-selling, Hugo-nominated novels Old Man’s War and Zoe’s Tale. Now he tries his hand at fantasy, with a dark and different novella that takes your expectations of what fantasy is and does, and sends them tumbling.

Say your prayers… and behold The God Engines.

Scalzi on the new cover:

In a word: Excellent. I’m deeply pleased with this cover. In fact it’s being made the sole cover for the novella, because it is more accurate for the story in tone and imagery. This is not to take away from the previous cover, which had qualities of its own. But this cover is very close to what I saw in my own mind’s eye when I was writing the tale.

Certainly a step up from the previous cover… which was a little weird. Art is by the always sharp Vincent Chong.