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INTERVIEWS

Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century

Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops Series

John Brown John, translator of the Zamonia Novels

Jim C. Hines author of Libriomancer

Nick Harkaway author of Angelmaker (review here)

Martha Wells author of The Cloud Roads

David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

Mazarkis Williams author of The Emperor's Knife

Rob Ziegler author of Seed

Steven Gould author of 7th Sigma

Douglas Hulick author of Among Thieves (review here)

Mark Charan Newton author of Nights of Villjamur (review here)

Kameron Hurley author of God's War (review here)

Brent Weeks author of The Black Prism (review here)

Anthony Huso author of The Last Page (review here)

Brandon Sanderson author of The Way of Kings (review here)

Lou Anders Editor of Pyr Books

Ian Tregillis author of Bitter Seeds (review here)

Sam Sykes author of Tome of the Undergates (review here)

Benjamin Parzybok author of Couch (review here)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch author of Diving Into the Wreck (review here)

Ken Scholes author of Lamentation

Cherie Priest author of Boneshaker (review here)

Lev Grossman author of The Magicians (review here)

Character Interviews

Alexia and Lord Maccon from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Eva Forge from Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin

Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded

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My BlogCatalog BlogRank Wikio - Top Blogs - Literature

NEWS | Boneshaker by Cherie Priest Optioned for Film


In the OMG news of the day it has been reported that Cherie Priest's breakout Steampunk hit Boneshaker has been optioned for file. Here is a announcement from Variety:
Cherie Priest's steampunk sci-fi novel "Boneshaker" is coming to the bigscreen with Cross Creek Pictures, Exclusive Media Group and Hammer Films onboard.
The companies said Wednesday that Hammer has acquired the rights to the novel. Project will be co-produced by Hammer and Cross Creek Pictures and co-financed by Exclusive and Cross Creek.

John Hilary Shepherd ("Nurse Jackie") is writing the screenplay. Hammer head of production Tobin Armbrust is overseeing.

Priest's novel is set in an alternate version of 1880s Seattle, where the city has been walled in and a toxic gas has turned many of its remaining residents into "Rotters," more commonly known as zombies. A young widow hunts for her teen son in the Seattle underworld while dealing with airship pirates, a criminal overlord and heavily armed refugees.

The novel, published in 2009 by Tor Books, is the first in a series set in the period, which has Priest has dubbed the Clockwork Century. Second novel "Dreadnought" was published in 2010, and the third, "Ganymede," was recently released.

Tor Books is releasing the fourth in the series, "Inexplicables," in 2012, and last week announced a deal with Priest for her to write a fifth. That book will be called "Fiddlehead."

"It's like Jules Verne meets 'Resident Evil,' and we're thrilled to have such a fun, commercial potential franchise in Boneshaker," said Cross Creek's Brian Oliver.
I've read all of the Clockwork Century books to date and they have a strong cinematic quality so cross your figures that Boneshaker goes from option to green-lighted quickly.

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NEWS | New Thursday Next Book by Jasper Fforde in 2012


It looks like everyone's favorite Literary Detective Thursday Next will be back come next summer. Jasper Fforde's Dark Reading Matter will be the seventh - but probably not final - book in the Thursday Next series. Hodder the UK publisher of the series has the book marked for a July 12th release across the pond. No official word on the US release date, but Viking tends to release their version within a month of the UK release. Dark reading matter or playfully shorten to DRM has actually been mentioned a couple times in past Thursday Next books. This bit is from First Among Sequels:
"The Nothing is a big place," I said without fear of understatement, "and mostly empty. Theoretical storyoloists have calculated that the readable BookWorld makes up only twenty-two percent of visible reading matter - the remainder is unobservable remnants of long-lost books, forgotten oral tradition and ideas still locked in writers' heads. We call it 'dark reading matter.'"
The blurb for Dark Reading Matter (below) is very spoiler heavy if you're not caught up on the series do avoid it, but check out my essay on why I love this series to get in the know.
The Bookworld's leading enforcement officer Thursday Next is four months into an enforced semi-retirement following a near fatal assassination attempt. She returns home to Swindon for what you'd expect to be a time of recuperation and rest. If only life were that simple.


Thursday is faced with an array of family problems - her son Friday's lack of focus since his career in the Chronoguard was relegated to a might-have-been, daughter Tuesday's difficulty perfecting the Anti-Smote shield needed in time to thwart an angry Deity's promise to wipe Swindon off the face of the earth, and Jenny, who doesn't exist except as a confusing memory.


And that's not all. With Goliath attempting to replace Thursday at every opportunity with synthetic Thursdays, the prediction that Friday's Destiny-Aware colleagues will die in mysterious circumstances, and a looming meteorite that could destroy all human life on earth, Thursday's retirement is going to be anything but easy.


If you thought dealing with the Bookworld could be hard, wait until you see what it takes to be a mother.
Fforde's second YA Dragonslayer book The Song of the Quarkbeast was just released in the UK to tide us all over for our Fforde fix. I for one can't wait for the sequel of Shades of Grey though. That was a simply marvelous read all around.

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Today's Moment of Muppet | The Muppets do Yoda!

Couldn't resist posting this one. Two of my greats loves combined.





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REVIEW | Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles--until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom.

Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires in order to keep a secret too terrible for the world to know?


Michael J. Sullivan's The Riyria Revelations has quite a storied past. It all began with The Crown Conspiracy, which was published through a very small house and then books 2 through 5 were self published by the author and his wife after the original publisher had financial problems. The series quickly found an audience online and became kindle best-sellers, which lead the 6 book series to be sold to Orbit to be released as 3 omnibus editions.

I have been hearing about this series for about nearly two years and they garnered quite nice reviews from many of my blogger compatriots, but I still went into the first Orbit omnibus Theft of Swords a bit trepidatiously. But venture forth I did as I'm a sucker for omnibuses, after all. Filled with mystery, a possibly mad ancient wizard, and empires teetering on destruction Theft of Swords will captivate you with an effortless style.

Theft of Swords contains book 1 The Crown Conspiracy and book 2 Avempartha. I think it is the second title that at first threw me off when I heard about the series as I couldn't wrap my head around it, but have since learned that it refers to one of the places visited in the novel as is the case with another book in the series.

The Crown Conspiracy starts things on a strong note and is a classic example of Sword & Sorcery. The focus is clearly on the thieves as well as action and mystery instead of magic, but there is plenty more entered into the formula such as politics and the deep history of the land that is covered well enough to ground you in this world. Royce and Hadrian aren't two knuckle head sword jockeys though. They are an elite duo who try to use their brains before their brawn, but aren't always too particular who they kill as they are hired by both sides to pull thefts and assassinations or whatever job their employers are willing to shell the gold out for. The Crown Conspiracy's greatest attribute is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. The prose is so easy you'll forget you're reading for long periods and come away having felt you just watched an fun packed movie in your mind. What stays with you is the story, the characters, and the sense of having just made new friends.

The point of view switches at times from the thieves Royce and Hadrian to Arista, a princess of the main kingdom the story is set in. She provides a nice balance to the aloofness of Royce and Hadrian while contributing much to the conspiracy of the story. Royce and Hadrian are two of the most likeable characters going in Fantasy. Their subtle and not so subtle interactions work so well and let you in on all of their little jokes. The story moves across the kingdom after the pair is falsely accused of a high crime and escape only to land into even more trouble. Long lost secrets are uncovered and plots are averted only for greater danger to occur. All in all, The Crown Conspiracy is a very smooth ride and one that I'll think fondly of for quite some time.

Avempartha the second book on the other hand while still quite entertaining is a bit shakier especially in terms of pacing. As with the first book the perspectives includes Arista, but this time she is more of a passenger than protagonist and I found her sections just completely jarring and slow compared to the intrigue of Royce and Hadrian. Stakes are definitely getting great as larger powers are making moves in the land. At first the trope of finding a sword as with the first volume felt a bit done, but Sullivan miraculously makes this aspect all the more endearing the second go around. Royce in attempting to break into an ancient Elf stronghold, which brings a whole aspect little explored in TCC.. Avempartha is building to something much bigger as this series progresses. The briefly seen wizard from the TCC is a very beguiling character. In some small ways he reminded me of a more laid-back Bayaz. Is he the destroyer of kingdoms or the savior? That's still not clear, but Sullivan has left me enough crumbs from the loaf to want more.

Theft of Swords is definitely lighter fair. There isn't any sex to speak of and for a story with plenty of death it doesn't come off as overly bloody or graphic Sullivan sure knows how to spin a yarn that connects you to the characters even as he teases out . Theft of Swords is just good old fashion fun with endearing characters. Even when you can tell where the story is headed it is still just as fun finding out how they got there. I give Theft of Swords 8 out of 10 hats. Sullivan has made a Riyria fan out of me and I'll definitely be reading the next two omnibuses Rise of Empire(December release) and Heir of Novron(January release) that are coming out in quick succession. The books would certainly be appropriate for a YA crowd and serve as quite a good introduction to what good traditional Fantasy can be.

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GUEST POST | Michael J. Sullivan on Writing a Series of Intertwining Books Rather than Sequels

Michael J. Sullivan on
Writing a Series of Intertwining Books Rather than Sequels


I want to thank Michael for allowing me the opportunity to guest post. I’ve been a fan of his site for a long time so it’s really quite a thrill to be here. For those that don’t know me, I wrote The Riyria Revelations, a six-book traditional epic fantasy series that is just now being released by Orbit as a trilogy (2 books per volume). For a writer to maximize output, conventional wisdom would suggest that you should write a book, and if it takes off, then write a sequel…then rinse and repeat for as long as people are willing to buy them. This makes a fair amount of sense, especially since it’s difficult to determine what books will sell and which won’t. Well for good or ill I’ve never been one to follow “conventional wisdom.”


It may seem strange, as the two have little resemblance to one another, but one of the biggest inspirations for The Riyria Revelations was Babylon 5, a science fiction television series that ran in the mid 1990’s. The creator, J. Michael Straczynski, planned out a five-year story arc. My favorite episodes were the ones that peeled back the veil just a bit…when I got a glimpse of something larger lurking just out of sight. While I loved the characters, and enjoyed each episode on its own merits, it was the promise of a defined plan that really kept me riveted.

My story was constructed in much the same way—as a series from day one. I had designed it to be six-books, each with their own conflict and resolution, but existing within the context of a much broader story arc. The idea of interweaving on-going threads throughout the entire series was really the thing that interested me the most. I love being able to drop hints or clues to mysteries that build over time and knowing with certainty that everything will come together when all is said and done.

Not to offend those that loved the series Lost but for me it lived up to its namesake as I felt lost the longer it went on. Originally it had looked like it was following the blue print to some grand plan, and again I enjoyed trying to put the pieces together. From my perspective it went off the rails along the way. Key elements seemed to be completely forgotten and the series pursued various tangents that seemed lacking in continuity to what had come previously. I never followed the behind the scenes story about the series, so I have no idea what went on. It could be that the original writers quit (or where fired), or that they only had material for a certain number of episodes and then started “winging it,” but whatever the reason the seeming lack of direction made me lose interest and I quit watching.

The contrast between Babylon 5 and Lost pretty much crystallizes for me the difference between sequels and a series, and I’m a huge fan of the later. Of course writing a series is A LOT of work and comes with a pretty high risk factor. Straczynski built in alternate story lines that would trigger if an actor left the series abruptly. For me, it could mean spending years on something that might never see the light of day. Or worse yet, if by some miracle I could find a publisher, I would have to live in fear that the series would underperform and be prematurely cancelled—the complete vision never fully realized. But I had an ace up my sleeve…I had no intention of publishing The Riyria Revelations.


You see, after more than a decade of trying, I had given up on my dream of becoming an author. I had written thirteen novels, and when I got nowhere with them I decided to stop my exercise in futility and quit. When I started writing again (a decade later), I had decided to do so just for myself, my daughter, and my wife. I planned to show Riyria to just a few close friends. I knew the whole story would be told because I was in complete control, and as for the books being “out there,” well I already knew that wasn’t a possibility. Approaching the series from this perspective was actually quite liberating.

All told I spent four years writing (and another three editing) the 685,000 words that became The Riyria Revelations. Eventually my wife decided to try to climb the publishing mountain on the series’ behalf. I held little hope that she would succeed, but if it made her happy to try, who was I to stand in the way. By the time she started I was well into the fourth novel, and when it became apparent she wasn’t going to give up, I had to step up my game to ensure that I finished the last book before the first one hit the market. I succeeded, although just barely. I finished Percepliquis (Book #6) in August 2008 just two months before the October publication of The Crown Conspiracy by a small press, Aspirations Media Incorporated.

My anxiety about finishing stemmed from the fact that sometimes I went back and added or removed something from early books when I was writing later ones. While many of the individual episodes tell fairly simple tales, the overarching plotline is actually quite complex. Even though I was working from a grand plan, the writing process sometimes opens up new opportunities that are even better than the original concept. I was able to take full advantage these serendipitous discoveries because I could make tweaks here or there.


Having written Riyria the way I did, I find that I’m spoiled. I have a few other projects I’m working on and each one tends to be in the same multi-story vein. I can’t imagine putting them out one at a time as they are written, but now that I do have stuff “out there” can I really disappear for the long stretches required to write the whole thing up front? I don’t know. I’m still trying to determine that. But if I can, then the books can come out in quick succession once they do start showing up. In addition, people can start the series with the knowledge that there is a definite endpoint. And if the series is dropped…well I already know how to successfully self-publish.

So there you have it, my take on series verses sequels. For some it might not matter which way the books are created, but for me it just brings a whole additional dimension to the story telling that I would hate to give up. To me, books written as a series are more participatory. I really like the reader being able to speculate where the story is going and being just one step ahead of them along the way.

I hope you’ll give The Riyria Revelations a try. Having a well planned story arc allowed me to take the books in some pretty unexpected places, and things are not always what they appear to be. In many ways the jury is still out on whether I accomplished what I set out for…it won’t be until January when Heir of Novron and Percepliquis are released that people will be able to judge the work in its entirety. By that time it will have been twenty-one years since I first started thinking about the story and eight years since I started writing. That’s a long time to wait and I’m dying for feedback. So please drop me a line and let me know what you think. My email is in michael dot sullivan dot dc at gmail.com. I’d love to hear what you think. And I’d like to once again thank the other Michael for the opportunity to give a little behind the scenes look into why I wrote as I did. I had a blast both in writing the series and this post.

*******

Michael J. Sullivan has written for twenty years and had completed thirteen full-length novels before starting on his critically acclaimed Riyria Revelations. Conceived as a single tale split among six self-contained books, the entire series was written before the first one was released. The series was designed like a television series where a single story arc would span a season while each week an individual episode would be revealed. Michael has since sold this series to Orbit books who will be re-releasing the six-volumes as 3 2-book Omnibus editions starting with Theft of Swords in November.

Michael recently released a free short story, prequel to the Riyria Revelations, and is at work on a modern day fantasy, as well as a literary fiction piece.

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Contest for Michael J. Sullivan's Theft of Swords and Rise of Empire


This week celebrates the first major market release of Michael J. Sullivan's The Riyria Revelations series.  Let's just call today and the next 2 days the 3 Days of Riyria as it will be all about Michael J. Sullivan's The Riyria Revelations series, which Orbit is re-releasing in 3 omnibuses with the next two to follow in December and January. To start us off the kind folk at Orbit Books have given me the chance to giveaway two sets of the first two omnibuses Theft of Swords and Rise of Empire, which contains the first 4 books of the series. Quite a boon I say for such a fun series I've enjoyed thoroughly so far.  Here is the brief blurb for Theft of Swords to whet your appetite:
Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles – until they are hired to steal a famed sword from the palace of the king and find themselves caught up in a conspiracy to overthrow the empire. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out, to get involved in the plots of the nobles and save the kingdom from itself.

Can one thief and his master swordsman of a friend keep their heads above water long enough to survive? Much less solve the mystery that threatens to topple the crown itself?

…and so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

To enter send an email to madhatterreview (AT) gmail (dot) com with your full name and snail mail address in the body and "RIYRIA" in the subject line. The deadline is midnight November 30th. I'll announce the winners on the following day or as soon as I remember. This contest is open to US, Canada, and the UK only. If you send multiple entries you will be disqualified from the contest. The winner will be selected via random number generator per usual.

Look for my review of Theft of Swords later this week and a treat from Mr. Sullivan tomorrow.

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Cover Unveil for Railsea by China Mieville

I'm a bit late in getting this up, but hey, I'm on Thanksgiving break.


China Mieville's next release is Railsea, for which very little is known, but much is inferred. Most say it is his next YA release, which feels right given the price and cover. It definitely seems to be in the vein of Paolo Bacigalupi's work, which would be fine by me. What is know is that Railsea will be out in May, which shows again Mieville is keeping up the year a book schedule. Even though I thought Mieville's last release Embassytown showed brilliance I still felt it lacked something, but even his most disappointing work kept me with him until the end and his first YA novel Un Lun Dun, while not as deep as his other works hit the mark with me.

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Mad Hatter's Reading Log Vol. 10 (October)

Ah, October. What a busy, crazy month you've been. Things have just about normalized for me at home, but during this time I decided it was time to get to a few books I've been meaning to read for a while including a couple that have been on my shelves over a year. It also turned out to be a Steampunk heavy month, which I hadn't planned on.


92. A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge - How have I been able to call myself a Sci-Fi fan without having ever read this book? It's genius on so many different levels. Yes, it can be a bit long winded, but when I reflected there is nothing that should have been cut as it all adds to the texture of the future Vinge creates. From the pack-mind beings to the omnipresent beings inhabiting the far reaches of space this is book that succeeds in seeding our thoughts about the possibilities of the mind and the future. Highly recommended and a surefire can't miss if you're a Sci-Fi fan.
93. Ganymede by Cherie Priest - This is my favorite book in the series since Boneshaker. I might be a bit biased on this one though as I'm a big fan of New Orleans and much of the story takes place there. Unlike the first 3 Clockwork Century stories that standalone well for maximum effect I wouldn't start here as there are many connections between previous books including some pretty main characters. Highly recommend series.


94. Planesrunner by Ian McDonald - Part of Pyr's YA debut season. Much of this ground has been tread upon by the likes of Gaiman and Reeves (Interworld) and Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass) yet McDonald brings his own sensibilities and more international flair into the fold that enlivens the story and characters. I especially appreciated the use of a variant of the thieves cant and how each world has its own personality. There is even a slight Steampunk bent on one main world, which makes more sense technologically than explanations in most other Steampunk reads. This is definitely much more accessible than McDonald's adult work. Recommended and my niece will certainly be getting a copy.
95. Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann & Janet Lee - It is no wonder that this graphic novel is an Eisner winner as the story and gorgeous art will take you away to a city inhabited by children living below ground and automatons living above ground while men with hats fall from the sky. Yes it is an odd one. I was greatly reminded of The City of Ember in that the people of the city have forgotten their history only with a much more magical edge. Highly recommended.


96. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire - This year has been something of a dry spell for me in the Urban Fantasy area. There have certainly been some solid reads - Awakenings, Low Town, and Hammered to name a few - but none have wholly captured me like McGuire's debut which is now a couple years old. I'm quite smitten with Toby Daye the half-breed fairy protagonist detective. Awesome world building and use of traditional fairy mythology in a different way. The first person detective angle is pulled off quite well. Highly recommended. I'm hopeful the rest in the series holds up so well.
97. Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez - Hill continues to awe me with his writing abilities and his first crack at a comic series is simply amazing. It is dark, magical, and endearing all at the same time.
98. Locke and Key: Head Games by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez - This is the point in the story where things get weird and the magical keys start showing up more and more.
99.  Theft of Swords: The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan - The start to a very enjoyable Sword & Sorcery series coming out in Omnibus format very soon. The Crown Conspiracy is the first book in this omnibus and I'm already and the second. Review to come.

Although, October is one of the worst reading months for me numbers-wise it had to be one of the most solid months reading-wise.  Every book was well worth the time I put into it. Out of everything A Fire Upon the Deep is as good, if not better, than I hoped. It is without a doubt a Sci-Fi classic. Rosemary and Rue scratched the UF itched I had and Theft of Swords was good old-fashion fun. And this isn't even getting into how great Locke and Key and Return of the Dapper Men were. So yeah, if you check out any of the above you shouldn't be disappointed.

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New Procurements

Ah, more pretties have entered my stacks. First up as usual our the books I've bought.


Kultus by Richard Ford, which I believe is Ford's debut outside of his Warhammer books. And it is Steampunk no less with a character wielding demonic powers chasing a mysterious key. Seed by Rob Ziegler is a debut I've talked up a bit, but up until this point I've only read a few chapters. Those few chapters though inspired me to interview Ziegler. That thick green member is Inheritance by Christopher Paolini that I'll fit in around the end of the year. Fingers crossed that it closes out strong. Lastly is the graphic novel Grandville Mon Amour by Bryan Talbot, his second collection for the Steampunk Anthropomorphic animal detective series.


Mecha Corps by Brett Patton is a debut about soldiers in as the title suggest mecha suits that could be fun, but the cover isn't doing much for me . Broken Blade by Kelly McCullough is the start to a new Fantasy series that is about the skinniest Fantasy book I've seen in years. Acquainted with the Night by Piper Maitland looks to be in the Da Vinci Code vein only a bit sexualized. Next I've got re-releases of two classics: The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle and The Once and Future King by T.H. White. I've read the former, but not in many years so a re-read is in order and never the latter which is a great shame I hope to rectify in the next couple of months. Songs of the Earth by Elisabeth Cooper made a lot of noise from its UK release earlier this year and the US is finally getting a shot.  Stands a Shadow by Col Buchanan is the sequel to Farlander that had some nice moments, but didn't win me completely over.

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Cover Unveiled for Black Bottle by Anthony Huso


One of my favorite books of 2010 was Anthony Huso's debut The Last Page. It was dark, weird, and all together beautiful. Truly one of the most accomplished novels I read last year amid myriad good novels and quickly established Huso as a an author to watch. The Last Page though is a duology so we've only seen half the story. The second half Black Bottle will be released in August, which can't get here soon enough for me.  I'm not as enamored with the cover for Black Bottle as I was with The Last Page, but it does beautifully depict the city-state of Sandren. Here is the description for Black Bottle:
Tabloids sold in the Duchy of Stonehold claim that the High King, Caliph Howl, has been raised from the dead. His consort, Sena Iilool, both blamed and celebrated for this act, finds that a macabre cult has sprung up around her.

As the news spreads, Stonehold—long considered unimportant—comes to the attention of the emperors in the southern countries. They have learned that the seed of Sena’s immense power lies in an occult book, and they are eager to claim it for their own.

Desperate to protect his people from the southern threat, Caliph is drawn into a summit of the world’s leaders despite the knowledge that it is a trap. As Sena’s bizarre actions threaten to unravel the summit, Caliph watches her slip through his fingers into madness.

But is it really madness? Sena is playing a dangerous game of strategy and deceit as she attempts to outwit a force that has spent millennia preparing for this day. Caliph is the only connection left to her former life, but it’s his blood that Sena needs to see her plans through to their explosive finish.

Dark and rich, epic in scope, Anthony Huso has crafted a fantasy like no other, teeming with unthinkable horrors and stylish wonders.
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VIDEO | Fan trailer for The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson


Brandon "The Machine" Sanderson's latest novel The Alloy of Law was just released and it was accompanied by a well made fan trailer to boot. The Alloy of Law is placed in the same world as the Mistborn trilogy only pushed ahead into a more Western age.  Neth also did a great interview with Sanderson for those wanting to know a bit more about how this novel connects with the others and future plans for the Mistborn world.




I hope to get to Alloy before the end of year, but I'm not sure at this point as I'm trying to get to a few more debuts (Seed/The Night Circus) and long-awaited novels (The Magician King/The Iron Jackal) during that time. Plus Larry just set a challenge in my direction that I'll be answering. Right now I'm about a third through Mazarkis Williams' debut The Emperor's Knife and so far I'd put it in the near the top of Fantasy debuts of the year as it reminds me of Daniel Abraham crossed with Brent Weeks, but we'll see.

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Cover Unveiled for Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines


Jim C. Hine's new series Magic Ex Libris begins with Libriomancer. It involves magic and books so you just know that is up my alley. The cover above is not the final design, but the art seems to be. The art is by Gene Mollica who is know for his photo realistic covers used a lot in the Urban Fantasy area, but he is also behind Brian Ruckley's gorgeous Godless Trilogy. The art seems fitting, but I'm not a fan of the title font or coloring. Just seems off to me. A description for Libriomancer hasn't been released but Hines did make the opening paragraph's available:
Some people would say it’s a bad idea to bring a fire-spider into a public library. They would probably be right, but it was better than leaving him alone in the house for nine hours straight. Smudge was a neurotic little arachnid, but as long as he had company, he usually refrained from setting everything alight.

The four-inch spider was a memento of what I had left behind, one last piece of that other life. If magic were alcohol, Smudge would be both sobriety medallion and the one whiskey bottle I kept around as a reminder…
So, yes everyone's favorite fire spider from the Jig the Goblin books is making the cross over. Libriomancer will be out in August from Daw and marks Hines' first hardcover release. Also of note is that the Jig the Goblin books are being released in omnibus format. The collection will be called The Legend of Jig Dragonslayer and will be out in July.

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REVIEW | Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

When he was nine, he watched his mother and brother killed before him. By the time he was thirteen, he was the leader of a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By fifteen, he intends to be king...

It's time for Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath to return to the castle he turned his back on, to take what's rightfully his.


The Empire is broken and has been for generations. Small kingdoms and fiefdoms battle one another continuously. Told from the first person perspective of Prince Honorous Jorg Amcrath aka the Prince of Thorns we see things from a decidedly dark and sometimes naive view since he is still a teen. But Jorg has not had a easy road. Who would be normal if they witnessed the murder of their mother and sister? Even if you don't like Jorg you'll understand his reasons for doing things his way.

Prince of Thorns is the story of a teen matured by death and evil. It may in fact be far too dark and nihilistic for some, but for those that like bloody action you've plenty to look forward to. Yet it does have a YA feel to it caused by the seemingly young protagonist who has seen and done too much. Think Abercrombie minus any attempt at redemption and akin to Wolfe's Books of the New Sun for depraved teens.

Some parts of the story don't seem believable at first such as a 14-year-old leading a band of outlaws, but through the sly use of flashbacks all the pieces fall into place. Jorg has a cold passion for revenge. He is tired of people pulling his strings and has for the last few years gone out in the world to equip himself with the tools needed to prepare for what he sees as his future. The flashbacks themselves are what kept me going for the first half of the book as I wanted to see how Jorg's so called brothers fit together and were formed. But don't get too attached as death comes to many during the course of the story.

This is a quick moving story with very short chapters that is apt to call a page turner with surprisingly believable action sequences that fit in with the characters as they like to fight dirty. Prince of Thorns was far from a perfect novel as some things are left just too sketchy, but it grabbed me in a way that is hard to articulate. And there is certainly plenty of time left for Lawrence to expand on the huge seeds he has laid. There is some magic in the world along with Necromancers, but while it does come into play in important parts it is more about the actions that come because of certain magical interference.

Even amongst the horribleness of the main characters there is something compelling about this world. It isn't merely Fantasy, but scents of something larger are in the air. Hints are dropped about the world's past even going so far as to reference city names and writers of our own past which can be perplexing at times, but you just have to go with it. Lawrence is building to something. In one way I see Prince of Thorns as a simpler version of Mark Charan Newton's work mixing Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and post apocalyptic societies, but Lawrence keeps you more in the dark and in many ways reminds me of a pared down Gene Wolfe novel. It is for that reason alone I'm interested to follow this series just to see where his mind brings things.

Big twists abound in a story that barely let you catch your breathe. Touted as being the next big thing in Epic Fantasy Prince of Thorns falls somewhat short, but still delivers an exciting story with a lead character you've likely not seen before. I give Prince of Thorns 7 out of 10 hats. While not wholly grabbing there is a certain appeal to Lawrence's writing that it quite catching. The sequel King of Thorns in this planned trilogy should be out in August 2012 and I'm keen to see where things go from here even if I wasn't totally won-over.

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