30 September, 2010

Review - Return of the Crimson Guard by Ian C. Esslemont

I have to warn you that I'm a huge Malazan fan, so take this review as you will. The Malazan world fulfills all of my childhood wishes to become Spider-man mixed with Wolverine's claws, Donatello's brain and ninja skills, and throw in Silver Surfer's surfboard too.

I realize some of those are moot with the inclusion of the others...but I was a kid. :)

This world is filled with the knarliest people doing the craziest things and I love it. Everyone (main characters that is) is either the best at what they do or completely insane or both.

And Esslemont fills Return of the Crimson Guard [US] [UK] with all of the above.

Even more impressive is Esslemont's ability to capture the feel, almost 100%, that Erikson has created in the main line of the series. I say almost because most notably the humor element is missing. Not to say that the typical cynically dark humor isn't present, it just didn't have me laughing out loud and quoting scenes to everyone in my direct vicinity.

Make sure to read up to The Bonehunters before embarking on Return - there will be spoilers of anything up to this point.

In Return of the Crimson Guard, the continent of Quon Tali is in political upheaval and the timing couldn't be worse. Empress Laseen's grip on the Malazan empire is crumbling (or is it?) and she's lost the majority of her Claw assassins, not to mention members of the "Old Guard" are doing all they can to upset the already tenuous grip she has on her rule while leading the "Talians"against her...

Oh, and the Crimson Guard, the elite band of mercenaries who've vowed to see the destruction of the Malazan empire, have decided to make this the time for their return.

Centering in Quon Tali, the majority of the action takes place in Li Heng, Unta, Cawl, and some plains areas. There are, however, plenty of other places visited (even some continents for the first time), these are just some of the focal points. We especially get some good history on Li Heng and it's relation to Ryllandaras. "Heng", as it's often referred to, is a city that's mentioned here and there, but never really a focus until now.

This book is filled with great information and incites on the world that Erikson and Esslemont co-created and that's one of the things that make Esslemont's series so worthwhile. As of this point we've only gotten a few glimpses of the capabilities of the Avowed, those who made the original vow against the Malazan empire,who play a critical role as leaders of the Crimson Guard.

Among the Crimson Guard, we follow a young and newly initiated Kyle (not of the Avowed), who doesn't really know his place in the Crimson Guard. As you can tell, he's the perfect character to let us in on some of the workings of this mercenary company, but he's got a few tricks up his sleeve as well.

Along with following members of the Crimson Guard, we're introduced to Traveller and Ereko - a couple of wanderers somewhat reminiscent of Mappo and Icarium. Their purpose is mysterious, they are awesomely powerful, and they have quite the history.

While I mentioned that Esslemont catches the feel of the Malazan world, he also has the tendency in this volume to match the meandering found most notably in later volumes of Erikson's series. It was by no means a deal breaker, but it does make the middle of the book a little slower to get through.

The ending, like all books in the Malazan universe, blew my mind and made everything well worth it, not that there really was any part you have to suffer through.

Minor spoiler alert although if you're still on the cusp of reading this and want a little more push you should read this: The Segulah, quite possibly my favorite part of Memories of Ice(among many favorite parts), make a few appearances and continue to be awesome.

I fully admit that I didn't even get close to covering all that happens in RotCG. This book is massive, epic, filled with action, and everything we've come to expect when we hear the name "Malazan".

When Should You Read Return of the Crimson Guard?

This question actually fits quite well with this book because I thought Return of the Crimson Guard would have worked a bit better being read just after The Bonehunters (Book 6 inMBotF). Events in The Bonehunters are referred to a number of times and I have to admit it's a bit rusty in my mind after having read the 1200 page Reaper's Gale.

Also, I've heard that's it's important to read Return of the Crimson Guard before Toll the Hounds so as not to spoil certain things found in Return. I'll let you know for sure once I finishToll.

And a warning - do not look at the Deck of Dragons listings (found after the glossary at the end of the book) until you've finished the book. I made this mistake and it spoiled some things for me.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Also from Ian C. Esslemont in the Malazan Empire:

Night of Knives [US] [UK]
Forthcoming: Stoneweilder - Read the Prologue here

29 September, 2010

It's News To Me #26

Has it already been a half year for It's News To Me? I've had a good time and hope you have too.

If there's anything I should add/subtract to make it better, please let me know. In the words of Aldous Huxley, "There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self."

Cover Art

Mark Charan Newton is having fans vote for the cover of his next book The Book of Transformations:

Count me in with the left cover. The close up just looks so much better although the best cover is still the US edition of Nights of Villjamur. I do have to admit, I typically don't like real people in my covers.


Neal Asher "Answers 8 Crappy Questions" at SFFnews.com. Asher's an author I've become more and more interested in reading. I already own Gridlinked so it's only a matter of time.
Neal: My next book is The Departure, which is a title full of double meanings. It is a departure from the Polity in that I am telling the tale of the early years of the ‘Owner’ who will be found in short stories in my collection The Engineer ReConditioned. It comes out next August...
Pat's Fantasy Hotlist, whether he'll be staying around or leaving, has a few more interviews for the rest of the year. Most recently Jasper Kent is up, and yet another author I've only heard good things about. Hmm...
- Can you tell us a little more about the road that saw this one go from manuscript form to finished novel?
Once I was happy with the text I started sending it directly to publishers (reasoning, wrongly, that it would be easier to get over the single hurdle of being accepted by a publisher than having to face being accepted first by an agent and then by a publisher). All the feedback that wasn’t cursory was pretty positive in terms of the content, but at the time publishers couldn’t really find much of a place for horror. Peter Lavery at Macmillan was particularly enthusiastic and suggested I contact John Jarrold as a literary agent. John managed to get it seen by more publishers, but still without a bite.
Peter F. Hamilton talks about his Void trilogy, with more parts to come:


We have another featurette from HBO's Game of Thrones (still can't get used to that instead of A Game of Thrones) this week. From the artisans:

Top 3 Book Reviews

I know it was 5 last week, but I realized that 3 is much more elite. :)

3. Kamvision: Shadowrise by Tad Williams - I still need to read Tad Williams. I own Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn and will (hopefully) very soon get into this and someday get to the Shadowmarch quartet. Someday.

2. Graeme's: Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin Anderson and Sam Stall - Have to say I was surprised by how high of a rating this got.

1. A Fantasy Reader: The Black Prism by Brent Weeks - Yup, this book was number one last week, but this one's more positive. Seems like it's a bit of a split opinion.

And that's the news...at least to me.

27 September, 2010

Book Challenge Update #2

Alec made my day the other day when he posted a Book Challenge... Win! Finally something worked out...and then come the rest of the Challenge posts...

Alec's review: Empress of Outer Space (Win Win!) I HAVE to read this now.

PW's review: A Shadow on the Glass (Not quite fail...but almost)

Abby's review: The World Invisible (Tread with caution Fail)

Melissa's review: People of the Sword (Rage Against the Machine Fail - This is for the people of the Sword) That's at least what the title reminded me of.

Let me know if you have a book/review for the challenge. Please make it a win, but let me know anyway. :)

24 September, 2010

Some Amazing SF/F Artwork: Marek Okom

Here is just one example that I think would fit great in one of Richard Morgan's novels:

The other illustrations are mostly hard science fiction in the vein of Starcraft, with a couple fantasy illustrations thrown in. I highly recommend taking a look the artists other digital paintings. Wow!

23 September, 2010

Book Challenge... Win: Empress of Outer Space, by A. Bertram Chandler

In an effort to discover new and worthwhile writing, Brice came up with the wonderful idea of running a book challenge for that very purpose. Pick a book at random, read it and review it. His experience was abysmal, sadly, leading to the only review of his that I have read where he actually advocates against buying the book.

My experience was notably different. I picked up, randomly, an Ace Double containing Empress of Outer Space (1965), by Bertram A. Chandler.

Empress of Outer Space is one of the earlier explorations of strong women characters in science fiction and makes for a memorable read. Set in the distant future where humanity spans the stars and is ruled by an absolute monarchy, the book opens with the summary execution of traitors to the empire and the Empress. The leader of the rebels escapes however, and the Empress decides to go after him in person.

Empress of Outer Space is memorable for the way it presents the Empress and the relationship she has with the crew of her ship. At times a spoiled child, fearless leader and vengeance bent madwoman, the Empress seems to try on a number of personas throughout the novel. As such, Empress of Outer Space provides an insightful look at the treatment of woman characters in 'older' science fiction writings.

Empress of Outer Space is a mix between space opera, military scifi and a romantic adventure novel. The highlight of the narrative is undoubtedly the dream sequence in which Mr. Chandler generously borrows from the political debate of his time to present two drastically divergent political ideologies. Communism vs. Absolutism! Of course, the Empress and her trusted lieutenant ally themselves with the the precursor to democracy to crush the evil Communists.

One of the major inconsistencies of the novel has to do with the Empress and her crew getting stranded on a distant planet. On board her ship is a Telepath and Mr. Chandler goes to great lengths describing the history of Telepaths in the Imperial Navy. Lo and behold, one of their many skills is.... faster than light communications. So, getting into adventure after adventure on a foreign planet all could have been avoided by a little psychic phone call to home base for a tow truck.

All in all, Empress of Outer Space is a fun trip back to the past and will interest readers to the extent that it is well written and concise, if maybe a little overly imaginative. I should mention that Ace Doubles are a great way to discover older science fiction and fantasy and can be picked up for a dollar at most any street vendor. Two books for a buck is hard to beat.

22 September, 2010

It's News To Me #25

We've got Wheel of Time news, Daniel Abraham news, a charity drive and a new segment. What more could you ask for?

Cover Art

I almost forgot about this awesome cover when it was floating around a little while ago, but here it is again. Plus, Clash of the Geeks is a great project with lots of big names and it's all for charity. The copy is free and then you have the chance to donate as much as you want to benefit lupus...well, to fight lupus through the Lupus Alliance of America. And you can't really get any better than a Unicorn Pegasus Kitten.
Early in 2010, author John Scalzi had a vision. And it was of himself. As an orc. And of actor and writer Wil Wheaton. As a warrior. In a clown sweater. Astride a unicorn pegasus kitten. What did this singular visionmmean? Scalzi didn’t know. But he knew it was clearly too powerful to be ignored.

A Dribble of Ink posted this bit of news about one of my new favorite authors, Daniel Abraham (see here). The more of his writing I can get, the better. Here is a bit of blurbage about one of his newest projects called Leviathan Wakes where he will be writing under the name James S.A. Corey.

Humanity has colonized the planets - interstellar travel is still beyond our reach, but the solar system has become a dense network of colonies. But there are tensions - the mineral-rich outer planets resent their dependence on Earth and Mars and the political and military clout they wield over the Belt and beyond.

Now, when Captain Jim Holden's ice miner stumbles across a derelict, abandoned ship, he uncovers a secret that threatens to throw the entire system into war. Attacked by a stealth ship belonging to the Mars fleet, Holden must find a way to uncover the motives behind the attack, stop a war, and find the truth behind a vast conspiracy that threatens the entire human race.

I'm also supremely excited for Abraham's next series, The Dagger and the Coin, starting with The Dragon's Path.
In Daniel’s own words: ‘In the way that The Long Price Quartet was a semi-tragic meditation on the epic scale of an individual life, The Dagger and the Coin is a love letter to fantasy adventure intended to keep the reader from getting enough sleep..’
I promise right now that I will gladly forego any sleep for this series.

Need some Towers of Midnight fix before the actual release date. Well, here's an excerpt called The Seven-Striped Lass (from Brandon Sanderson's Website). Anyone excited? Or just excited that after not too long you won't have to hear about WoT anymore?

Count me in the first category.

Also available is the prologue (for purchase), which sounds to be pretty dang good, at least that's what the buzz is.

There's also a review up already at Tor.com (thanks ChrisW for bringing it to my attention).

Top 5 Reviews of the Week

This is a new segment and it probably goes without saying, which with that preface means it's not going without saying, this is all personal opinion. And even further, this list is pretty arbitrary. Maybe a book catches my fancy and I put a review here, maybe the review is exceptionally well written and I'm completely jealous. Maybe I just like the cover or the review author has rated the book a perfect 5/5 or 10/10. Who knows? Am I supposed to know these things? I also make no promises as to how long this segment will last. :)

Without further ado:

5. Book Worm Blues: Blood Ties by Pamela Freeman- both a 5/5 book and I am planning on reading this trilogy soon.

4. Stephen Sullivan's Goodreads review: Troy:Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell - actually rated 6/5 stars and I'm a David Gemmell fan.

3. The Speculative Scotsman: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - I'll be reading this one soon and of course, The Speculative Scot has a way with words.

2. Mad Hatter's: The Last Page by Anthony Huso - A book I wasn't at all interested in until I read this review. That's when you know you're doing your job right. :)

And the number one book review of the week (yes this is completely "arbitrary and capricious" - especially the fact that this is a countdown) is...

1. Tie:

-Tyson at Speculative Book Review: The Black Prism by Brent Weeks - Having quite the opposite effect of number 2 - after being ever so excited to begin this one, you could say that my spirit's been dampened.


-Speculative Horizons: An Autumn War by Daniel Abraham - In what I have to say is at least twice (maybe even 3 to 4 times) as eloquent as I put it, James lays it out nicely.

And those are the top 5 reviews of the week. I'll scour the interwebs for some great reviews that I find as I continue to postpone homework. :)

And that's the news...at least to me.

19 September, 2010

Winner: The Way of Kings (signed)

Congratulations to Terry F. from Fort Collins, CO on his lucky win of a signed 1st/1st of the Way of Kings! While his entry wasn't the snarkiest, it was fairly creative:

"WoT the hell, I decided to enter"

Indeed you did Terry, indeed you did.

If you aren't already in possession of a copy of The Way of Kings, well, I am sorry. The Stormlight Archive is setting its sights on filling the vacuum that will be left when both The Wheel of Time and The Malazan series hit their final curtains. Whether or not it deserves that spot remains to be seen. As many bloggers have commented, they feel that the Way of Kings is epic, but that further installments in the series are needed to accurately determine whether or not it will have a place among giants. Regardless, getting in on the ground floor of a major fantasy series simply titillates the brain.

Other notable snark that won three bonus entries:
Out of curiosity, what constitutes a snarky comment?  For instance, if I were to point out that the object of the preposition "between" (in your announcement of the contest) should be "me" and not "I" is that being snarky or just bitchy?    - Joshua V. from GA.

17 September, 2010

Book Challenge Update

Alright, we already have a few reviews going up regarding the book challenge. So far ... not so good.

Tyson's Review: The Last Stormlord (Moderate to Mostly Fail)

Ryan's Review: Here Be Demons (Uninteresting Fail) (The review is very interesting)

My review: Flight to the Savage Empire (Extreme Fail)

The only real positive so far is that crappy books tend to have some really awesome covers. :D

Thanks to those who've taken on the challenge. Let me know if you have the guts to take on a book you've never heard of by an author you've never met (in prose form) and I'll link to your reviews whether blog, Goodreads, LibraryThing, etc.

Looks like we're still looking for the "diamonds in the rough" because so far we've only got ... rough or whatever's worse than that - sludge?

16 September, 2010

Review - An Autumn War by Daniel Abraham

Otah Machi, once dockside laborer and later a practitioner of the gentleman's trade, who's traveled the world and is now one of the most powerful men in the Khaiem. A man who's seen it all, from the death of a poet causing the loss of Saraykeht's andat, Seedless, to his sister's betrayal of her own family and culture.

Otah is a man who does the right thing no matter how hard that may be. In An Autumn War (2008) [US] [UK], he will be tested more than ever before because the Galts have a plan to rid the world of the Khaiem. And Balasar Gice, or General Gice to the Galts, is the man who can make it all happen.

While the Galts have been some of the main antagonists from the beginning of The Long Price Quartet, they have normally been more of a passive force; preferring to enact their will indirectly rather than taking any active role outright against the Khaiem. That all changes in An Autumn War as they are finally able to put their plan into action.

Daniel Abraham is one of those authors who makes me think I could never become a writer myself. His plot is not only very well-paced, but it is complex and I have never yet been able to predict what will happen next. I really love that about him.

While some could call The Long Price Quartet dry, which it is to some degree - it's not fast-paced if you were wondering, it is perfect for the story that is being told. Abraham makes me think of another of my favorite authors, John Marco, who has the ability to inject such pathos into the writing and characters that you become attached to each and every one and your heart breaks as they suffer.

An Autumn War, like its predecessors, is highly character driven and the magic plays more of a background role. Don't get me wrong, it has its moments when it is the most important thing, but the magic adds to creating an in-depth world while the characters draw you into the series.

When Should You Read The Long Price Quartet?

This is a great series that has me hooked. It's heartbreaking and rewarding at the same time and An Autumn War was the best read so far. Daniel Abraham has created a world that is uniquely his own. Highly recommended.

I'm already blazing through the conclusion of the Long Price Quartet, The Price of Spring, and I can already tell I'll be sad to be done with this series by the end.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

A Shadow in Summer (Long Price Quartet, Book 1) (My review, EdiFanoB's review)
A Betrayal in Winter (Long Price Quartet, Book 2) (My review)

15 September, 2010

It's News To Me #24

Some of my favorite authors are doing some great slash silly things this week, from Brandon Sanderson to George RR Martin and HBO (some day it will be for the book) and even Peter V. Brett. Now I only need more reading time.

And then there's some (possibly) big-ish news from the blogosphere. I'll explain down there.

Cover Art

Another novella from Peter V. Brett is coming out from Subterranean Press called Brayan's Gold. From the SubPress website:

Return to the world of The Warded Man and The Desert Spear in an illustrated new novella by Peter V. Brett.

Humanity has been brought to the brink of extinction. Each night, the world is overrun by demons—bloodthirsty creatures of nightmare that have been hunting the surface for over 300 years. A scant few hamlets and half-starved city-states are all that remain of a once proud civilization, and it is only by hiding behind wards, ancient symbols with the power to repel the demons, that they survive. A handful of Messengers brave the night to keep the lines of communication open between the increasingly isolated populace.

Arlen Bales is seventeen, an apprentice Messenger in brand new armor, about to go out for the first time alongside a trained Messenger on a simple overnight trip. Instead Arlen finds himself alone on a frozen mountainside, carrying a dangerous cargo to Count Brayan’s gold mine, one of the furthest points in the duchy. And One Arm, the giant rock demon, hunts him still.

But Brayan’s Gold may offer a way for Arlen to be free of One Arm forever, if he is willing to wager his life on the chance.


An interesting point was brought up by ChrisW at sffnews about the split of the final books of The Wheel of Time. He makes the point that we were told the book had to be split because it was getting too big for this publishing world we live in...and then comes The Way of Kings, a doorstop by a Balrog's standards and published by the same people. Hrmmm?? Thoughts?

Chris also has some inciteful comments about the whole Postmodernism in fantasy, Brandon Sanderson, Jeff Vandermeer kerfluffle. Gave me a few chuckles.
Short version:

Vandermeer: Brandon is clueless.
50 other random dudes: Hear here!!
Brandon's side kick: You misunderstand him.
Sanderson: Damn, you got me, I'm a simpleton but in my defence I wasn't really trying to define it.
Vandermeer: No worries mate, not everyone can be as smart as me. I can jog and text at the same time!
Speaking of Brandon Sanderson, Pat's got a great Brandon Sanderson interview up at the Hotlist put together by Pat himself and friends. Seriously check it out, I mean it, it's really great. Here's a snippet:
When I approached writing the Stormlight Archive--when I approached creating Roshar--I very consciously said, “I want to create something that feels new to me.” I’m not the only one who does this, and I’m certainly not the one who does it best, but I wanted a world that was not medieval Europe. At all. I wanted a world that was its own thing. I started with the highstorms and went from there.
On that note, Pat just announced that may be bowing out of the game. The Fantasy Hotlist was the start of my blogging addiction, so it'll be sad to see one of the pioneers leaving.

And then here's Larry's parody of said announcement. And then the defense of said parody.

Movies/Videos/TV (or Everybody's Doing It #2)

Things seem to be moving along with A Game of Thrones on HBO. There's a Making Of blog and this exiting look at the show, including short interviews from the extremely excited George RR Martin, Sean Bean, and writers E.B. Weiss and David Benioff:

Here's another teaser trailer, "Raven":

Winter is Coming, the blog following production of HBO's A Game of Thrones since 2008, also has some great production stills. Yes, I'm salivating. (Thanks A Dribble of Ink)

This one cracks me up:

Arya and Bran look happy to be there. I'm guessing they still don't know what's about to happen to them.

And that's the news...at least to me.

10 September, 2010

Book Challenge... Fail: Review - Flight to the Savage Empire

When I announced that I wouldn't be finishing this book, I was given somewhat of another challenge in the comments to that post - make this a humorous review.

I regret to inform you that I will be failing yet another challenge... bad books are no joking matter. :)

Flight to the Savage Empire [US] [UK] by Jean Lorrah and Winston A. Howlett is actually the fourth book in the Savage Empire series. This was no where to be found on the book itself, but it in no way impeded the story.

Astra is a Reader, one who can read people's emotions, feel their pain, tell if they're lying, and even talk to people on another plane. She's only a Magister, not yet a a Master, but she's uncovered a devious plot by THE Master herself, Portia, who is the head of all Readers.

During this time, she meets Zanos, the undefeated gladiator who is retired from the Aventine Empire's favorite sport. And somehow in a very short time and with very little explanation or reason, Astra, the Reader who is not allowed a lover, and Zanos, the gladiator who's had a little too much action down there (but only in the gladiatorial arena) fall in love kinda.

Both have reasons to leave the Aventine Empire, one to escape the Reader plots and the other to gain his freedom... but then again, I couldn't care less about finding out about any of these developments.

With stilted dialog, an uneven plot, and sub-par writing, I couldn't go on anymore. I consider my time valuable to some degree and FttSE did not meet that or really even come close. The only reason I made it halfway through the book was because of the Book Challenge that I felt obligated to give it more than a decent chance. And that was even more than was deserved.

When Should You Read Flight to the Savage Empire?

Preferably never. I can't recommend it, but I'm sure there are many out there who would enjoy such a book although at the moment I can't think who.

D.N.F. (Did Not Finish)

09 September, 2010

The Holy Grail of Fantasy Books... for only $62,000

Browsing Ebay and various other rare book sites, I was incredibly surprised to find that one of the most most prised items, going for a cool $30,000.00, is a set of signed and numbered limited edition Wheel of Time books. I am a fan, but that might be pushing it a bit...

I have started collecting rare science fiction and fantasy as a hobby over the last year or so and have started building a wishlist of sorts. Something I would very much like to add to my collection is a 1st/1st of Dune, by Frank Herbert. One of my favorite day dreams is that I will find a copy at a used book stand and pick it up for a dollar. Given that the retail price is around $5,000 for a unsigned 1st/1st, it will probably remain a day dream, but you never know.

To the main item of this post, posted for a cool $62,000, a signed 1st/1st of The Lord of the Rings, aptly named the as grand-father of Fantasy. Now here, given the small print run and relative obscurity of Tolkien prior to his success, I can better understand the price, especially given his place in the fantasy field.

Other than these big ticket and incredibly well known items, I was also surprised at the relative cheapness of other science fiction and fantasy collectibles. A 1st/1st First Lensman (1950), by Edward Elmer "Doc" Smith goes for about $2,500 and other than that, the list is mostly made up of modern big name authors and signed vanity printings. A set of Twilight for $3,000 anyone? I didn't think so.

Mostly the purpose of this post is simply to ask readers if they are aware of any good resources or have any tips to offer when first collecting. Should I bother with the older stuff or focus on new authors and let my investment 'mature'? Are there any good internet resources that list rough prices for works? Is there any period or cutoff date before which books are worth more? Like I said, any and all advice is welcome.

And because every blog post needs pictures, if you see this cover, grab it for me, I will even pay this shipping!

08 September, 2010

It's News To Me #23

I was able to find out this past weekend that once you're a parent, vacations are no longer so relaxing. They actually involve much less sleep, much more crying (by children and parents), and lots of irritability. Boy am I getting old.

Cover Art

A problem I have with these e-covers is that I automatically compare them to the Sweet covers and think - Awesome, I love it!

Is it actually true? I genuinely think so, but I still worry that my perception is skewed.


The Hugo Award winners are in and surprisingly there was a tie for best novel:
Best Novel: TIE - “The City & The City” by China MiĆ©ville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK) & “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
Check out the rest of the winners here.

Kamvision's back up and running after Jason Baki took a bit of a hiatus. Looking forward to some great reviews/articles/interviews with his typical focus on horror and dark fantasy.

Everyone's doing it

I haven't actually watched this trailer for Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (yes, I'm still on book 6 - with reread plans for next year), but everyone else is posting it. :)

And that's the news...at least to me.

02 September, 2010

Book Challenge

Feeling Challengy?

I was thinking not too long ago about what if I just grabbed a random book from the bookstore and tried it out. One whose author I've never heard of before and maybe just because the cover strikes me in a certain way.

This challenge is particularly poignant for me because I'm normally one who has to research every purchase, especially books. Why don't I give that many bad reviews? Because I look up multiple blogs, forums, etc. to find something I'm almost 100% positive I will like.

Hence a challenge.

So, we're trying to find those "diamonds in the rough". And while we know this won't work out best for everyone, as a collective, maybe we can find some really good stuff that no one has read.

Consider yourself challenged.

If you have a blog, let us know and we'll link to you when you get a review up of your challenge book. If not, give us a comment or an email and we'll post about it.

Here are some books/people that will be joining us (compiled and written by Tyson of Speculative Book Review):

Shadows on the Glass by Ian Irvine

An ancient war closed the Way between the Worlds, leaving the four human races of Aachim, Faellem, Charon, and Santhenar to inhabit a single realm. Thousands of years later, Llian the Chronicler discovers an ancient and dangerous secret, while a young woman gifted with magic embarks on a search for a powerful artifact. Irvine's series opener promises a grand-scale epic fantasy that features a pair of unusual heroes and a complex world rich in history and variety.

PeterWilliam of Speculative Book Review stated that he picked the novel due to the fact that there were runes running along the edge of the cover.
(Mmmm, runes. Milk please)

The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke

Shale is the lowest of the low-an outcast from a poor village in the heart of the desert. In the desert water is life, and currency, and Shale has none. But he has a secret. It's the one thing that keeps him alive and may save all the cities of the Quartern in the days to come. If it doesn't get him killed first...

Terelle is a slave fleeing a life as a courtesan. She finds shelter in the home of an elderly painter but as she learns the strange and powerful secrets of his art she fears she may have traded a life of servitude for something far more perilous...

The Stormlord is dying in his tower and there is no one, by accident or design, to take his place. He brings the rain from the distant seas to his people. Without a Stormlord, the cities of the Quartern will wither and die.

Their civilization is at the brink of disaster. If Shale and Terelle can find a way to save themselves, they may just save them all. Water is life and the wells are running dry...

I (Tyson) picked this one because my mom sent it to me thinking that I would enjoy it.

Seak's choice is also a good one.....

Flight to the Savage Empire by Jean Lorrah and Winston Howlett

"Bloodlust! In the Aventine Empire, gladiator games still slake the multitudes' undying thirst for blood. Magister Astra hated the games - with her telepathic powers, she felt the warriors' agonies as her own. But the Master had once again sent her there to tend the wounded: it was a punishment - but for what? Even her strongest Reading couldn't tell her. Not until an unexpected death and an exotic, mind-bending drug brought her into the path of the ex-slave warrior Zanos did Astra begin to understand the web of deceit, greed, and vengeance that would send them both in a desperate - Flight To the Savage Empire."

In the coming days and possibly weeks we will be posting our reviews of the challenge issued by Seak and Seak himself will be posting his review.

Since all three of us have gone out on a limb we now are challenging our readers to go out there and find a book from an author you have never heard of or have heard of but know virtually nothing about them and give that author a chance. You just might find a new series to read and at the very worst you have something to complain about to your friends and families. Best of luck and good hunting

Also, if you have not stopped by and checked out these other great sites, please do and check out the books they chose for the Book Challenge:

Simcha at SFF Chat

Thanks and Happy Challenging!

Also, if you have a sec., make sure to help out Alec's friend by completing that survey.

Your Assistance is Requested

Oh readers of all things fantastic, on bended knee I implore you,  heed these words! A friend of mine needs a little help completing her dissertation and needs a few more volunteer test subjects willing to undergo a frontal lobotomy.... just kidding. She just needs you to fill out a brief survey. It would mean a lot to me if you would help her out. All participants are also entered to win three $50 Amazon gift cards!

I am conducting an online survey as part of my dissertation, and I would really like your help.  The survey looks at different relationships and the ways that they interact.  Anyone is eligible to take the survey, as long as you are over 18, have at least one sibling (half-siblings, stepsiblings, adopted siblings, and foster siblings are fine; it does not have to be a full biological sibling), and have been in at least one romantic relationship.  The survey should take about 15-25 minutes to complete, and those who take the survey can enter to win one of three $50 gift cards to Amazon.com.  Take the survey.

 So please help her out. Take the survey, share this post and help someone graduate!

01 September, 2010

It's News To Me #22

Is it Wednesday already? Last week felt like it dragged and suddenly this week's flying by. I'll never understand it.

Heading to California this weekend (back home) to see some fam and for my mom's wedding. I apologize in advance for those people on the plane listening to my crying baby. We have some plans to subvert that, but you never know.

Cover Art

I wasn't a huge fan of the new mmpb cover at first, but then Mark Charan Newton mentioned on his blog that that's exactly how he pictured the character. So, who am I to say. Obviously it's spot on.


Wheel of Time fans be excited! I'll let the Tor announcement do the talking, just remember this was posted Monday and hasn't gone live yet:

How’s this for a Great Hunt?

Tor Books has just announced that, starting tomorrow, an exclusive secret from the Wheel of Time will go live on Brandon Sanderson’s website!

But it won’t go live without a fight: the page will be completely encrypted. (As of Tuesday morning it's not yet live, sorry.)

To unlock it, fans will have to hunt down the many unique digital codes, printed on the back of Wheel of Time bumper stickers that Brandon will hide inside copies of The Way of Kings along each stop on his tour. (Which kicks off tonight!)

Each bumper sticker/code will unlock a piece of the secret and it will require the work of many fans in many cities to unlock the entire page. The Great Hunt begins!

On a similar note, The Way of Kings is out (like you didn't know) and Sanderson has a great post on his blog that links to all the free chapters in one place.


A Fantasy Reader recently did a couple posts comparing the American/UK covers with German cover art. Really interesting stuff, especially with the different translations for the titles. Some are exactly the same while others completely different. I guess it makes sense to a degree - some things wouldn't make sense with a literal translation, but some of the titles are completely different and I wonder why.

Oh and there was this big deal about fantasy being inferior to other literature.

And that's the news...at least to me.