The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

The Warded Man

AuthorPeter V. Brett

Pages: 432
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: March 10, 2009
ISBN-10: 0345503805
ISBN-13: 978-0345503800

When Peter V. Brett’s The Warded Man was first released in the UK last year (under the much superior title of The Painted Man), it started garnering a considerable amount of buzz, some even going so far as to call it the best debut novel since Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind. Doubly impressive when you consider that The Warded Man is steeped in the values of light, traditional fantasy, a sub-genre much maligned by many of the Internet’s pundits.

The blurb on the back cover marks The Warded Man as pretty standard fare – demons rising from the night, world in danger, young protagonists setting out to save the world – but from the early pages it’s clear that Brett is determined do something different in the world of traditional fantasy.
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Leave it to Guy Gavriel Kay to talk some sense. In a recent article published by The Globe and Mail, Kay addresses the subject of book delays, but more importantly he tackles on the idea of what a blog means to the relationship between author and reader; and where those fans with a bloodthirsty sense of entitlement that haunt folk like George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss come from.

From The Globe and Mail:

It is at least worth debating whether an author engaged in a multivolume work that readers have bought into has some sort of implied contract with his readers to conduct his life in such as way as to ensure the book gets done. But surely readers who insist that means “do nothing else” are betraying a pretty shaky sense of how the creative process works, especially when spread over what might be two decades and more.

Martin wasn’t happy. “Maybe it’s okay if I take a leak once in a while?” he wrote. His blog response was accompanied by a flashing “angry” icon face.

It is all too easy for another writer to sympathize, and I do, hugely, but I can’t help but note that the only reason readers know about holidays and football games (and his favourite team) is that Martin has told them. On his blog.

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Midwinter by Matthew Sturges, is a novel that seems to be popping up wherever I look. My interest peaked, though, when I saw a review over at Fantasy Book Critic, and one quote in particular:

I was reminded of a mostly traditional epic fantasy tale with a faerie bent—think Tolkien meets Joe Abercrombie meets Mark Chadbourn.

Damn, if that isn’t some bloody good company to keep. Lucky for me, Pyr has just posted a sizable sample of Midwinter for everyone’s perusal.

Midwinter by Matthew Sturges

Winter comes to the land only once in a hundred years.
When it comes, the always-blossoming cherry trees close their petals and turn away from the chill wind. The animals of the forest come down from their trees and rocks and burrow deep into the ground for warmth. The Channel Sea grows angry and gray. The sun shines less brightly, hiding its face behind clouds rough as granite. When the River Ebe freezes over and a man can walk from Colthorn to Miday over the ice, then Midwinter has officially begun.

Midwinter is the darkest season. It is a time of repentance and of somber reflection during which even the Queen will wear black. In the mountain temples of the Arcadians, the icons are covered with dark cloth and the ancient censers are unwrapped and burned; they swing dangling from the fingers of silent monks who walk the frigid stone floors of their temples barefoot. Around lakeside villages and in certain city shops where gaiety is the order of business, signs are hung reading simply, “Closed for Midwinter.”

There is a rumor in the court of the City Emerald that during Midwinter even Regina Titania’s powers ebb, that the Queen herself becomes pale and cold to the touch. But this is only a rumor, and a treasonous one at that.

It lasts until the ice cracks and the first new fish is caught in the Ebe. The lucky fisherman who catches it becomes Lord of Colthorn for the day, and so for months before they have any chance of succeeding, the peasantry bring their poles and lines to the water’s edge, waiting for Firstcome to return.

Firstcome is the time of rebirth. Every city in the land, from the tiniest hamlet to the City Emerald herself, has its own centuries-old tradition for celebrating the coming of the new summer and the greens and yellows and blues that accompany it.

But until then, the trees will wear a wreath of white around their heads and the hills will be capped with reflective ice. From the farthest north expanse of the land, the snow will creep southward, stirring hurricanes in the Emerald Bay to lash at the city folk. Even the desert gnomes will feel a chill in their mud homes in the far south, but the snow will melt over the swamplands and its inhabitants will suffer a year or more of icy rain before Firstcome rescues them.

Until then, it is Midwinter.

The whole sample can be read HERE.

Saw this on Nextread, and couldn’t help but steal it. Absolutely beautiful artwork.

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington

In the plague-wracked and devil-haunted darkness of Medieval Europe, an elite few enjoy opulent lives while the majority ekes out a miserable existence in abject poverty. Hungry creatures stalk the deep woods and desolate mountains, and both sea and sky teem with unspeakable horrors. For those ill-fated masses not born into wealth, life is but a vicious trial to be endured before the end of days. Hegel and Mengele Grossbart could give a toss. Being of low birth means little, after all, when the riches of the mighty wait just inside the next crypt. The graverobbing twins know enough about crusading to realize that if one is to make a living from the dead, what better destination than the fabled tomb-cities of Egypt? But the Brothers Grossbart are about to discover that all legends have their truths, and worse fates than death await those who would take the red road of villainy…

Orbit have really outdone themselves! And if this is any indication of the quality of the covers for the rests of their novels coming out later this year, expect many more to be featured here on A Dribble of Ink!

Richard Morgan has some news about the sequel to his popular novel, The Steel Remains and not all of it’s good. It is, however, interesting to hear the honesty behind some of the stumbling blocks he’s faced along the way.

From Morgan’s web site:

Yes – some of you will probably have already noticed that The Cold Commands has surreptitiously changed its name to The Dark Commands, and is also now showing a UK publication date in mid-2010.

Sad but true. On both counts.

The title change alone is a big disappointment for me – I loved the alliteration of the thing (my London editor’s idea, curse him, not mine), and the thematic implications. But unfortunately, the way the narrative is unfolding there’s nothing remotely cold about any of it; worse still, there are a number of components that have fairly demolished any hope of using any title containing the word cold.

Dark, on the other hand….. Well – you know me by now.

The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan

The Cold Commands is a pretty cool title, I’ll admit, but it’s interesting to get a little peak into the marketing behind novels. Clearly Morgan and his editor came up with a cool title (hah, no pun intended!) before the actual novel was written. I know Terry Brooks (who writes about on the complete opposite end of the fantasy spectrum as Morgan) doesn’t reveal the title until the writing of the novel is well underway.

I’m also pretty pissed off – with myself – about the publication push-back, but there’s not a lot to be done about that either. Basically, I’ve spent the last year trying to kick start the second narrative for Ringil and Co, and the process has been fascinating and frustrating in about equal measures.

See, I’d always talked a good fight about making each book in this trilogy a self contained novel, but it wasn’t until quite recently that I realised how deeply satisfied I was with the ending of The Steel Remains. Sure, there are loose ends, but when wasn’t that true of one of my books? But my characters all ended up where I wanted them to be, they bedded down into the consequences and outcomes of what they’d seen and done with the pleasing clunk of emotional deadbolts falling into place – so rolling them all out of bed again, splashing water on their faces and getting them to open up and let in the morning light has proved a lot more problematic than I’d expected. I started at least twice and then had to tear up what I’d written because it was some weak-assed shit. Worse still, when I did finally get onto what felt like the right track, it involved at least a couple of scenes that I really didn’t want to write. If you guys thought The Steel Remains was brutal, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

And won’t see it for a while yet, either. Sorry about that.

I’m all for stand alone novels, especially when they weave into a larger narrative – similar to the early Terry Brooks Shannara novels or what David Anthony Durham seems to be doing with his Acacia novels. It’s interesting to hear how Morgan has struggled with this concept of having to pull his characters back out of a neat ending and into the fray to tell a story again.

Morgan has worked in this type of storytelling before (with his Takeshi Kovacs) novels, so I’d be curious to find out what the difference between the two are and what he learned from his earlier works that is helping him out now.

You can read the whole of Morgan’s blog post HERE.