The Tyrant's Law
Release Date: 20130514
Publisher: Orbit Books
A dark-haired woman had taken the stage, her smile haughty and wild.
“Come!” she cried, her voice filling the darkness. “Gather near, my friends, or if you are faint of heart, move on. For our tale is one of grand adventure. Love, war, betrayal, and vengeance shall spill out now upon these boards, and I warn you not all that are good end well. Not all that are evil are punished.” Clara felt her throat growing thick, her heart beating faster. The words seemed like a threat. Or worse, a promise. “Come close, my friends, and know that in our tale as in the world, anything may happen.”
pp. 110 – 111
“Anything may happen.” This phrase, more than any other, exposes the heart of speculative fiction. Removed from the accepted and understood restrictions enforced by a real world setting, speculative fiction is allowed to explore themes, ideas and conflicts that might not naturally intersect in the more restrictive boundaries of traditional literature. This speculative playground is even more powerful when it is used to create a world, and fill it with conflicts and themes, that raise questions of issues that readers ask themselves about our own world. Few in-progress epic fantasy series do this as well as Daniel Abraham’s The Dagger and the Coin, further proved by its third volume, The Tyrant’s Law. Continue reading
Orbit Books announced today that Matthew Stover’s Acts of Caine novels, beginning with Heroes Die, will be arriving, as eBooks only, in the UK for the first time. They say,
All four books in the Acts of Caine series – HEROES DIE, BLADE OF TYSHALLE, CAINE BLACK KNIFE and CAINE’S LAW – will be released digitally in the UK & ANZ on 27th May 2013.
This is good news for reading in the UK. I’ve not read the series (SHAME ON ME!), but they come highly recommended and the ebay prices for the earlier novels are, well.. outrageous. I should really sell my copies. Releases like this, eBook only, are a great way for out-of-print books to come back into circulation and find a new audience among those who previously couldn’t find (or afford) to read them. It’s also one of those fun times to think about the fact that publishers continue to try to convince the world that eBook publishing costs are similar to hardcopy publishing and distribution costs. The novels are already available as eBooks in the US and Canada.
But, can we please talk about these covers for a moment. I mean, I’m fairly certain that I’m being very specifically trolled by the art department at Orbit Books UK. Four hooded, bodiless men staring
pensively menacingly at the reader, daring them to read what, underneath, must only be the most bro-tastic, grimdark, grimy, gritty, dudebro novels in the world? WTF. But, well, with a lineage like this, can I really expect any less?
Editor’s Note — In late March, I published an essay by Bradley P. Beaulieu about the changing landscape of publishing and why he decided to leave his publisher, Night Shade Books, and relaunch his Epic Fantasy trilogy, The Lays of Anuskaya as a self-published series of eBooks. Seeing this, Michael J. Sullivan, author of The Riyira Chronicles, one of Fantasy’s early self-published success stories, wrote to me with his own valuable take on the world of ‘hybrid publishing.’ You can find more information about Sullivan’s upcoming novel, Hollow World, on the official Kickstarter page.
I first met Brad Beaulieu at ConFusion this January. We were having lunch and after telling me about what was going on at Night Shade we tossed around the various options. I encouraged him to retrieve his rights, do another Kickstarter, and take control of what I saw as a valuable franchise. He was probably already leaning that way. Hopefully I gave him the last nudge to take the leap. I will be taking the hybrid route myself with one of my upcoming novels, Hollow World, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with his decision, and I think it will work out very well for him.
I’m a huge supporter of the hybrid model. Traditional publishing opened doors for me that I couldn’t get when I was self-published. Now that my books are in libraries and bookstore, my audience broadened. I received more foreign deals, and the advances on those were probably larger than they would have been without Orbit. There was even book club and audio versions produced, which paved the way so to Theft of Swords being named a finalist for an Audie (the audio book equivalent of the Grammy). These are all good things, but there are also aspects that I miss from my self-publishing days. Continue reading
Magic is often used to keep the status quo, until it becomes accessible to the common man and suddenly turns the world upside down.
You don’t see a lot of gunpowder in fantasy.
It’s there, especially in historical fantasy. But it’s not as common as one might think. Most fantasy seems to take place in a pre-gunpowder period despite gunpowder having been around in our own world since the middle ages. I think this has a lot to do with what we read when we were kids. Many of us grew up on medieval fantasy. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis dominated my childhood. When I was old enough to go looking for books at the library, I read David Eddings, Tracy Hickman, and Robert E. Howard. None of the stuff I read had any gunpowder in it and when I first started writing all my settings were medieval.
So beyond mere habit, why don’t we see much gunpowder in fantasy? I think that magic, in a lot of ways, fills in for gunpowder. It’s something mysterious. Perhaps it can be used by the common man, but the common man doesn’t know the secrets behind it. Only a few people can master those. It can be volatile and dangerous, used for both good and evil. Magic is often used to keep the status quo, until it becomes accessible to the common man and suddenly turns the world upside down. Continue reading
Release Date: 20130512
Publisher: Orbit Books
I admit, prior to reading The Troupe, I had no idea what vaudeville was all about. I had an idea in my head, based on implied fuzzy cultural memory, but it’s not something I’d ever taken a moment to actually look into. Having read Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and paged through Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine, two circus-themed novels from 2011, I classified Bennett’s novel in my mind as another entrant in this newly popularized subgenre. Vaudville isn’t the same as a circus, but I was expecting a similar type of novel where the setting is as much a character as the people that populate it. The Troupe shattered those notions. Plot and character driven, set against a vaudville background, Bennett’s novel calls to mind the stylings of Neil Gaiman and lives up to the comparison.
Sixteen-year-old pianist George Carole has joined vaudeville to find Heironomo Silenus, the man he suspects to be his father. As he chases down Silenus’s troupe, he begins to understand that their performances are unique even for vaudeville and strange happenings follow in their wake. It’s not until after he joins them that George realizes the troupe isn’t simply touring, and Silenus is hiding a secret as old as time itself. Told in a tight third person voice, The Troupe follows George through his experience as a vaudeville act, a lost young man searching for direction, and a chess piece in an endless metaphysical war. Not surprisingly, the novel is divided into three parts that roughly correspond to each of those story arcs, although none are entirely resolved until the final pages. Continue reading