Release Date: 20120927
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books UK
In a fantasy marketplace that has only recently seen a conclusion to Robert Jordan’s iconic Wheel of Time, and long suffering delays to George R.R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, I’ve compiled a list of authors and series I can recommend in their place, which includes: Peter Brett’s Demon Cycle, Elizabeth Bear’s The Eternal Sky, Daniel Abraham’s The Dagger and the Coin, and Brent Weeks’s Lightbringer. That established, David Hair’s first adult novel, Mage’s Blood is one of the better epic fantasy series first instalments I’ve read in recent years.
It should be noted that when I refer to the term epic fantasy, I really mean it. Sweeping conflicts, clashes of cultures, political and personal entanglements, rich and in-depth magic, and mighty warriors dot the landscape. There’s even lavish descriptions of food,
…they ate a cold meal of dried meat and breads, washed down with a small flask of arak and some water, all from the wagon’s spoils. Tanuva Ankesharan’s best cooking could not match so wondrous a feast as this scavenged meal.
Written in limited third person from multiple points of views, Mage’s Blood does maintain some notion of good and evil. It walks a fine line though, often refusing to color individuals entirely one or the other. In that sense it’s quintessential modern epic fantasy, but couched in a very expected setting. Continue reading
One evening, I had the chance to sit down with Steven Erikson and several other people over a glass of wine and dinner. It was a wonderful evening, full of laughs, camaraderie and discussion. Despite what you might think, me being a book blogger and Steve being a popular author, only a small portion of the evening was spent discussing fiction, books or writing. However, one short conversation, not with Mr. Erikson but with one of his friends, led me to think a lot about why I read, and when I read.
The conversation began with a question, “Do you read before bed?”
Some of us answered no, others, including myself, said, “Yes, I can’t fall asleep otherwise.” Those who answered “no,” had some interesting reasons, though they escape me now, but one of the other diners, a woman whose name I’m sorry to say I can’t remember, began talking about why she reads before bed. She made an observation that has stuck with me since. You see, she reads before bed because it allows her to put aside the events of her day, the events that might be coming the next day, and immerse herself in the emotions, problems and triumphs of the people living in the fiction she holds in her hands. Instead of falling asleep thinking about what needs doing tomorrow, or how her exam went poorly, she falls asleep wrapped in thoughts of these characters, wandering through these other landscapes. Continue reading
There used to be a time, way back when, that I used to run interviews with authors. They were fun, challenging and people liked to read them. Then I stopped for some reason. Well, today, the interviews are back, but the tables are turned. I was asked by Jo Fletcher Books, a great genre imprint from the UK, to be subject to an interview. Mostly, we talk about blogging, but there is also discussion about some of the novels that really opened my eyes to the world of Fantasy literature. Since its terribly topical and popular, here’s a taste from the interview that discusses one of my favourite novels, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien:
What are your all-time favourite reads?
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
As I grew from childhood and into adolescence, I veered away from Fantasy, magic and adventure, replacing them instead with laser guns, time portals and spacefaring. Science Fiction ruled much of my pre-adolescence. I still remember being in grade four, I was nine, and getting gruff from my teacher because I wasn’t reading the assigned novel during silent reading. It was The Cay by Theodore Taylor, appropriate for most readers my age. Instead of reading The Cay, I was reading Jurassic Park. I lost touch with Fantasy because, well . . . I was a boy and Fantasy was full of princesses, unicorns and other such girly stuff. I don’t know where I got such ideas, certainly not from my parents, but there they were.
At age eleven, however, my mom finally convinced me to give The Hobbit a shot. She was an avid reader of both Fantasy and Science Fiction, and rarely steered me wrong. I expect the only reason I gave The Hobbit a shot, however, was because of the languorous, fiery Smaug, stretched out atop his pile of gold, scrolls of gold-etched dwarfish runes capped the top and bottom of the book’s cover. It was pretty cool. I still own that copy of The Hobbit I read it, and fell in love. The rest, if you’ll pardon the expression, is history.
You can read the rest of the interview on Jo Fletcher Books’ website. I hope you enjoy it.
The City's Son
Release Date: 20120908
Publisher: Flux/Jo Fletcher Books
Tom Pollock writes beautiful prose. It’s the first thing I noticed about his debut novel, The City’s Son. So good in fact, that it buoys a straight forward young adult urban fantasy to new heights. It’s a rare novel of that ilk that’s able to hook me enough to give it a full run. I was pleased that not only did it engage me enough to finish the novel, but I found myself coming back to it time and again despite finding the plot just short of boring.
I admit that last sentence is about the biggest back handed compliment I’ve ever given someone. Guilty as charged, however, it’s not that simple. Allow me to explain.
A war between London’s deep history and her ruthlessly modern future.
Beth is a trouble maker, daughter of a Hackney widower with a penchant for artistic tagging, and she’s pulling her best friend Pen Khan down with her. After a rough encounter with corrupt school administrators, Beth runs away from her endlessly grieving father. In London’s back alleys, she sees something she should never have seen. Caught up in the divine forces on which the city is built, she finds herself in a war between London’s deep history and her ruthlessly modern future. Continue reading