Posts Tagged: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

A Dribble of Ink's 2013 Hugo Nominations & Recommendations

Welcome to my 2013 Hugo nominations and recommendations. Here I will be collecting the novels, writers, films and videogames that I believe are deserving to win a Hugo award. I have not filled out every category, for one reason or another, but there is a nice variety here, all of which entertained me in 2012. Also included in these nominations and recommendations are other notable items for your consideration. These are generally items that I’ve not read or experienced yet but come well-recommended by people I trust and are on my plate to do so before the nomination process.

This list is still a work-in-progress and can (and will change) before the nomination period ends on March, 10th. I hope you find something of interest here. Enjoy.

Best Novel

If you look at the list of 2012-published novels I read last year, it might be no surprise that, as of now, I do not have enough novels to fill my ballot in this category. Between now and the nomination deadline I will be doing some catch-up, and I’ve included those novels in the ‘Other Notables’ section, but it 2012 was not a particularly strong year for me. The novels I include below, however, I believe in fully.

THE KING'S BLOOD by Daniel AbrahamThe King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham
(REVIEW // Buy: Book/eBook)

Geder Palliako’s star is rising. He is a hero of Antea, protector to the crown prince, and darling of the court. But storms from his past are gathering, and with them, a war that will change everything.

Cithrin bel Sarcour founded a powerful bank on stolen wealth, forged papers, and ready blades. Now every move she makes is observed, recorded, and controlled. Unless Cithrin can free herself from her gilded cage, the life she made will be for naught; war may provide just the opportunity she needs.

An apostate priest sees the hidden hand behind all: a long-buried secret of the dragon empire threatens everything humanity has built. An age of madness and death approaches, with only a few doomed heroes to stand in its way.

Last year, I chose to nominate Abraham’s The Dragon’s Path over Leviathan Wakes, his SF collaboration with Ty Franck, published under the name ‘James S.A. Corey.’ Leviathan Wakes made the ballot, The Dragon’s Path did not. I still believe in that nomination and that Abraham is behind some of today’s most interesting and exciting Fantasy. The Dagger & The Coin takes the comfortable, adventurous Fantasy built by Terry Brooks, David Eddings and Raymond E. Feist and imbues it with an intelligence and depth that sets it apart from the rest of the field. The King’s Blood is an improvement on The Dragon’s Path on every level and continues to prove Abraham’s worth the genre. As I said in my review, “It’s about time we stop comparing Abraham to other authors, and start comparing other authors to him.”

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The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Prisoner of Heaven

By Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Pages: 288 pages
Publisher: Harper
Release Date: 07/10/12
ISBN: 0062206281

I feel it only appropriate to begin this review with a note mentioning that Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind (REVIEW) is my favourite novel. I say this because it presents an inherent bias in me that won’t necessarily exist for the average reader, and is a double-edged sword in terms of setting up my expectations and, ultimately, determining this review of The Prisoner of Heaven, the first true sequel to The Shadow of the Wind, after 2009’s The Angel’s Game.

This bias worked against The Angel’s Game (REVIEW). My anticipation for the novel was sky-high, having first read The Shadow of the Wind only a few months earlier, I was desperately eager to spend more time in Zafón’s version of Barcelona, with his characters that I loved dearly. The bar was set impossibly high and, as the old adages often do, “the higher they are, the farther they fall” proved too true. My initial review of The Angel’s Game was positive (and I still think positively about the novel), but on reflection the flaws can’t be ignored and, as a follow-up to The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game was a disappointment. It stands to reason, then, that my expectations for The Prisoner of Heaven would be tempered somewhat. But, no. That little squealing fanboy in me couldn’t help but put Zafón’s latest novel on a pedestal, well before it ever hit store shelves. So, keep that in mind. I’m not to be trusted. For a bias is a wicked beast in the mind of a critic. Read More »

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

If, like me, you’re dying to get your hands on The Prisoner of Heaven, the sequel to Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s critically-acclaimed The Shadow of the Wind, you might be in luck. I wandered down to my local bookstore and saw copies of the novel sitting there on the shelf, over two weeks before the official release date. I’ve heard from other folk that they’ve also seen copies in the wild. So, if you’re waiting, it’s worth checking your bookstore to see if they have copies available now. I’ve got one, and just in time for a nice camping trip. Woo-ha!

If you’re not familiar with Zafon’s work, you might be interested in my review of The Shadow of the Wind. I consider it my favourite novel. Ever.

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Prisoner of Heaven returns to the world of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the Sempere & Sons bookshop, where Daniel, and his old friend Fermín Romero de Torres, are tending shop. Daniel is now married with a son, and Fermín is soon to follow. Both men lead relatively happy and quiet lives. Enter an enigmatic visitor–a grim old man with a piercing gaze–who inquires about Fermín’s whereabouts. When told he is not in, the old man proceeds to buy the most expensive item in the store, a first edition of The Count of Monte Cristo, adds a dedication and leaves it as a present for Fermín. When Daniel reveals the details of this unsettling encounter to his friend, Fermín reads the dedication, turns pale, and at Daniel’s insistence, decides to open up about a past that has come back to haunt him…a story that will leave Daniel questioning his very existence.

A direct sequel to my favourite ever novel? With a gorgeous cover? Returning to Sempere & Sons and The Cemetary of Forgotten Books, sidling in alongside an older Daniel Sempere and an always gregarious and charming Fermin, just can’t come soon enough. After hitting a bit of a road bump with The Angel’s Game (REVIEW), I have the utmost (to a silly degree, perhaps) faith that Zafon is back in the playground he’s meant to play in.

For more of my thoughts, see the post I did about the Spanish cover for the The Prisoner of Heaven.

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Prince of Mist

AuthorCarlos Ruiz Zafon
Pages: 224
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 4, 2010
ISBN-10: 0316044776


Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind is one of my two favourite novels. The other is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. On the surface, these novels appear to have little in common – one is quest Fantasy, set in a mythical world, the other is a coming-of-age story set in 1940’s Spain. Where they’re similar, though, is in their origins and the reasons they were written.

Tolkien originally wrote The Hobbit for his children, a tale of adventure and hijinks meant to entertain and excite them. I much prefer it to The Lord of the Rings for its brevity, for its ability to get to the point and tell a story for storytelling’s sake.

I once saw young adult (YA) novels described as (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘Adult novels without all the crap’. I thought this a rather apt description of the oft-maligned publishing category. Though I’m ultimately a reader of adult novels, I’m drawn to YA for its hungry veracity to lay the story out before its audience, to cut out all the nuance and posturing and let the reader into its secrets, to reward them quickly for their commitment. It’s like a moped to a motorcycle: simple, little stress the reader, but ultimately enjoyable.

I like to think of The Shadow of the Wind as an evolution of this style of storytelling. It’s more drawn out than typical YA, with much of that extraneous fat and muscle added back on, but Zafon was able to draw on his experience writing YA and apply what he’d learned to craft a story that was as fable-like as the best YA. From a small cast of characters, to a youthful, zesty voice, to its ability and willingness to question the world, The Shadow of the Wind is a YA Adult novel grown up. This bumbling, awkward kid’s turned into a sophisticated gentleman.
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