Abercrombie himself brings news of the first review of his upcoming novel, Best Served Cold. Robert Grant, at Sci-Fi London got an early peak at the follow-up to Abercrombie’s well regarded The First Law trilogy, and wrote a very glowing review.

The cover art for Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold.

As you might guess from the title, Best Served Cold is a tale of revenge. Monzcarro Murcatto,The Snake of Talins, Butcher of Caprille is a mercenary. A bloody good one. Her formidable reputation has been forged in the heat of battle leading the Thousand Swords across Styria, her beloved brother at her side, defeating the League of Eight city-by-city and bringing them under the rule of her ruthlessly ambitious employer, Grand Duke Orso, the man who plans to unite all of Styria under his rule.

This is deep, dark stuff but it’s a mark of that nice Mr. Abercrombie’s talent that he can wrap such complex themes in the kind of rip-roaring adventure that is so utterly compelling that, from the first page, it is impossible to put down.

Best Served Cold is however a standalone novel, still a refreshing change in a genre awash with trilogies, although it does weigh-in at a healthy 644 pages. This is great news for those of you unfamiliar with the world or the characters because you can dive right in and enjoy this tale for what it is without feeling left behind and for fans the authors previous work it’s a thoroughly absorbing way to get your Abercrombie ‘fix’ without having to wait another year to find out what happened next.

Either way you’d be well advised to place your orders now so you’re not disappointed when it finally hits the streets. Me, I’m actually going to read it again. It’s that good.

You can read the whole review HERE.

Well known for his work in Short Fiction, Ken Scholes (pronounced ‘SKOLES’, apparently) has been making waves with the recent release of his first novel, Lamentation.

Lamentation by Ken Scholes

An ancient weapon has completely destroyed the city of Windwir. From many miles away, Rudolfo, Lord of the Nine Forest Houses, sees the horrifying column of smoke rising. He knows that war is coming to the Named Lands.

Nearer to the Devastation, a young apprentice is the only survivor of the city – he sat waiting for his father outside the walls, and was transformed as he watched everyone he knew die in an instant.

Soon all the Kingdoms of the Named Lands will be at each others’ throats, as alliances are challenged and hidden plots are uncovered.

This remarkable first novel from an award-winning short fiction writer will take readers away to a new world – an Earth so far in the distant future that our time is not even a memory; a world where magick is commonplace and great areas of the planet are impassable wastes. But human nature hasn’t changed through the ages: War and faith and love still move princes and nations.

To get readers excited about Lamentation and the rest of the Psalms of Issac saga, a few different excerpts have been released to the public, including a short story (A Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon) set in the same world.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

1up.com used to be home to the best video podcast about videogames on the ‘net. Then, they were bought out and the majority of the video team fired. It was a crying shame and one had to wonder what the new bosses were thinking when they stripped the web site of one of its defining products.

Well, the guys from that team have landed on their feet, starting an independant video podcast with all the class, knowledge and production of the now defunct 1UP Show. It’s called Co-op and it’s worth a watch for anyone even remotely interested in the gaming world.

From their web site:

While editorial gaming video is our passion and our first love, we feel that we have the best team in the business when it comes to creating and editing video for the gaming industry. Area 5 Media is here as our outreach to any developer, publisher, or marketing team that is looking for highly efficient contractors to handle their video needs. We can handle every aspect of the video-production pipeline: developer diaries, DVD extras, mini- or long-form documentaries, or even editing your trailers and making sure that the formats are suited for wide distribution among all of the outlets, online and broadcast, that you deal with every day. Our previous experience creating video directed solely at the gaming audience gives us a unique perspective on how the video game industry can best utilize the moving image as a resource and as a vehicle to reach the gamer. After all, we’re as “gamer” as they come. Can you find that in Hollywood? Maybe. There are a lot of gamers these days. Can you find a video-production studio in Hollywood that’s done everything that we’ve done and knows the industry as well as we know it? Doubtful. Also, we’re fun to work with, and if you’ve already made a game, chances are that at least one of us has played it.

You can check out the web site for Area 5 HERE.

A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

Martin has broken the silence and released a new update on the progress of A Dance with Dragons on his Not a Blog:

I made a lot of progress on the book in the first half of 2008. So much so that I was optimistic that I would be done by the end of the year. Unfortunately, I did not make much progress on the book in the second half of 2008. Indeed, I made some regress. (That Sansa chapter I talked about finishing, for instance. It’s still finished, but my editor and I decided it belongs in THE WINDS OF WINTER, not A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, so it’s been moved into the next book. Sansa will not appear in DANCE.)

Some of the reasons were literary, arising from problems in the narrative itself. I’m not going to discuss them here, because I really do not like talking about questions I am still wrestling with on a work in progress. It never helps. Art is not a democracy, and these are problems I need to solve myself. Having a few hundred readers weigh in with their thoughts and opinions — which seems to be what happens whenever I post here about DWD — does not advance the process. I’m sorry, but that’s true. I know that many of you would like to help me, but you can’t. I have editors and I have two capable assistants, and that’s sufficient. I’m the only one who can dance this dance.

Some of other reasons for the delay have nothing to do with the book itself. They’re extra-literary, arising from other things in my life. I could sketch out some of them here, sure, but what good would it do? Those who are inclined to understand would send me messages of sympathy and support. Those are not so inclined would dismiss them as “excuses,” or even “feeble excuses.” A few will even go so far as to accuse me of lying.

That’s the part that really bothers me. For the record, I have never lied about anything having to do with A DANCE WITH DRAGONS or the series as a whole. I have been wrong, yes. I have been wrong lots of time, especially when I’ve tried to predict how long it will take me to complete the book, or when it will be published. Being wrong is not the same as lying. Since the very beginning of this series, I have been guilty of being over-optimistic about how long it would take me to finish the next book, the next chapter, or the series as a whole. I cannot deny that. I have always been bad with deadlines… one reason why I did my best to avoid them for the first fifteen years of my career. That’s an option I no longer have, however. Or at least will not have until A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE is complete.

That’s the main reason why I no longer want to give any completion dates. I am sick and tired of people jumping down my throat when I miss them.

This latest flood of emails has worn down my resolve, however. So in hopes of quieting it, once more I will step into the breach –

I am trying to finish the book by June. I think I can do that. If I do, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS will likely be published in September or October.

(Yes, I am aware that I have previously said that I hoped to finish by the end of 2008. And before that, I said that I hoped to finish by June 2008, before I went to Spain and Portugal. And before that, I said I hoped to finish by the end of 2007. I know, I know, I know. No, I was not lying. I was wrong. And wrong again. And wrong before that. This time I hope that I am right. But you know, I can’t swear that in blood. I write one chapter at a time. One page at a time. One word at a time. And then the next.)

That’s all I have. But it’s more than Amazon has, or anyone else.

The INSTANT that I finish the novel and put it in the mail to Bantam, I will post that fact here, just as I did for SUICIDE KINGS a few days ago. Until and unless you read that announcement here, believe nothing you hear from any other source.

I have made a lot of progress on the book since August 2007, but this part hasn’t changed:

Thanks for your continued support… and for your patience.

I’m thrilled to hear that the book is progressing, and my anticipation continues to build. Despite what anyone might say, A Song of Ice and Fire is not something that’s going to fall in place overnight. I wish George the best of luck in finishing the novel and making it the best he can. I sure as hell wouldn’t want him to rush it for the sake of his ‘fans’.

What’s more unsettling is his response to the recent blog posts concerning him and A Dance with Dragons:

I have to admit, the rising tide of venom about the lateness of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS has gotten pretty discouraging. Emails, message boards, blogs, LJ comments, everywhere I look (and lots of places where I don’t), people seem to be attacking me, defending me, using me as a bad example of something or other, whatever.

I can and do avoid most of the online discussions, although I do regularly get emails from people eager to point out the latest URL where DANCE and I are being hashed over. I can do that, and I can screen the trollish comments here on LJ, but there’s no avoiding the emails.

Some of you are angry about the miniatures, the swords, the resin busts, the games. You don’t want me “wasting time” on those, or talking about them here.

Some of you are angry that I watch football during the fall. You don’t want me “wasting time” on the NFL, or talking about it here.

Some of you hate my other projects. You don’t want me co-editing WARRIORS or the Vance anthology or STAR-CROSSED LOVERS or any of the other projects I’m doing with my old friend Gardner Dozois, and you get angry when I post about them here. For reasons I don’t quite comprehend, the people who hate those projects seem to hate WILD CARDS even more. You really don’t want me working on that, “wasting time” on that, and posting about it here.

Some of you don’t want me attending conventions, teaching workshops, touring and doing promo, or visiting places like Spain and Portugal (last year) or Finland (this year). More wasting time, when I should be home working on A DANCE WITH DRAGONS.

After all, as some of you like to point out in your emails, I am sixty years old and fat, and you don’t want me to “pull a Robert Jordan” on you and deny you your book.

Okay, I’ve got the message. You don’t want me doing anything except A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. Ever. (Well, maybe it’s okay if I take a leak once in a while?)

What makes me a little ashamed, though, is how heavily the venomous response of his ‘fanbase’ is wearing down on him – it’s frustrating that Martin’s so-called ‘fans’, the people who he’s writing for, are causing so much stress on the man. For A Song of Ice and Fire, and the fanbase it’s accrued, to be anything but a glowingly positive experience in Martin’s life is just wrong. I just hope that he knows that there are many of us out there willing to wait patiently as he takes the time to finish the novel.

Lou Anders, the editorial director at Pyr Books, was recently intrigued by a quote from Tom Purdom:

“Nobody ever became a wizard because they read fantasy. But plenty of people have become physicists and biologists because they read science fiction.”

Through his blog, Anders more or less agreed with the statement, but also posed a question of his readers:

Now, the reason this tickles me is the plug for SF, not the (very funny) dig at F (which I also love). But, as I already have very clear ideas on the purpose of SF, and I happen to love F too, I’ve been contemplating recently what it is that fantasy does – beyond the entertainment/intellectual value that all literature bequeaths – that is unique to its form.

Being an avid fan of fantasy, this got me thinking. What made me look even closer to the heart of the matter was the falling out I had with fantasy (of the epic variety, in particular) I had earlier this year. Part of the drive and appeal of Fantasy was lost to me, and at the time I thought long and hard about why I felt that way. Lou’s question hits close to the heart of the matter.
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