Posts Tagged: Epic Fantasy



It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, a landmark epic fantasy trilogy published in the ’90s. So, when Hodder & Stoughton, one of my favourite SF/F imprints, announced they’d be publishing the series in the UK with brand new covers, I was appropriately excited. I’m usually a fan of Hodder & Stoughton’s covers, and Summers’ previous work for Hodder & Stoughton is stylish—particularly his cover for Lavie Tidhar’s A Man Lies Dreaming—but these are a big miss for me.

Even in a vacuum, where the series doesn’t already have some of the most iconic cover art, by one of the field’s legendary artists, these just aren’t right for the series. Memory, Sorrow and Thorn might have inspired George R.R. Martin to write A Song of Ice and Fire, but they’re not edgy or dark. They’re bright, expansive, and full of colour—these covers do little to convey the tone and spirit of Williams’ classic tale.

That all said, I do think the cover for Stone of Farewell is the best of the bunch, and is nice in a gritty, punch-you-in-the-face kind of way. Reminds me a bit of Stina Leicht’s (very good) contemporary Irish fantasy, Of Blood and Honey.

What do you think?

the-last-mortal-bond-by-brian-staveley revealed the cover for Brian Staveley’s The Last Mortal Bond, and it’s gorgeous.

Like the first two volumes in the trilogy, The Last Mortal Bond features the artwork of the always awesome Richard Anderson. As much as I liked the first two covers, this one might be my favourite of them all. The blood red highlights and the morass of greys fits perfectly with Anderson’s impressionistic style. It’s engaging and visceral, and, in a sea of same-y covers, manages to use common fantasy cover tropes (wounded soldiers, menacing beasts, blood) but makes them interesting again. Bravo to Anderson and the art team at Tor Books.

“This is hands-down my favorite of Anderson’s three covers for the series,” Staveley told “It captures so many things that are central to the book: the desperation, the camaraderie, and the sheer skull-splitting badassery of the Kettral.”

The Last Mortal Bond is the conclusion to Staveley’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy, and wraps up the deadly struggles of the siblings, Kaden, Adare, and Valyn, around whom the series revolves.

The Last Mortal Bond will hit store shelves sometime in 2016.

I’ve read an awful lot of fantasy, and watched an awful lot of anime, and both canvases are incredibly broad and notoriously hard to characterize.

When first discussing this essay, comparing and contrasting the traditional hero narrative in fantasy fiction and anime, with my friend Casey Blair, I found myself in a bit of difficulty. I’ve read an awful lot of fantasy, and watched an awful lot of anime, and both canvases are incredibly broad and notoriously hard to characterize.

Fantasy, after all, includes classics like Lord of the Rings, heroic secondary-world epics like The Wheel of Time, wainscot fantasy like Harry Potter, and the magical realism of The City & The City, covering sub-genres like urban fantasy and steampunk in between. It’s very hard to write a coherent comparison that covers both C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead, for all that we shelve them in the same genre.

Similarly, anime is unbelievably diverse, more so than all but the most hardcore of fans realize. (Because the US translation companies skim the cream of the crop, picking the hit shows and often passing over the stuff with less broad appeal.) From staples like Dragonball, Sailor Moon, or Naruto, anime goes all the way to Revolutionary Girl Utena (which is so symbolic as to be almost abstract) and Non Non Biyori (which is about a bunch of girls in a rural village chatting about nothing in particular). It includes every genre of speculative fiction we have in the US, and some we don’t. Read More »


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 »