2015 has come and gone, let’s look to 2016

It’s that magic time of the year again, it’s 35 plus degrees outside (I live in the Great Down Under), I’ve drank too much, eaten too much and the in-laws are getting on my last nerve.  However, these humid, sun burnt days covered in Aloe Vera, unmoving, does give me time to reflect and take stock on the books I have read this past year.  There have been good, bad and exceptional, which leads to the inevitable, mournful, pitiable thought: Where did the year go? Can someone please scratch my nose it hurts to move? And I should have read more?

Fortuitously we are given another chance to increase our book tally and plan for the new year as I recover and rehabilitate from the holiday excess, offering alms to the unread soul of 2015 and be like the bear and get stuck in a new.

Down to it, then, my cream of the crop, the duck’s nuts, or if you like the dog’s balls. Of the books I have reviewed (not all released in 2015) my picks for the year would have to include:

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison coverThe story has its twists and turns, nothing too dramatic or surprising and is told across an expansive kingdom, but there are no flashy fight scenes, dragons or mighty heroes, just a fragile king looking for friendship and guidance, with a desire to make the life of the people he rules better.

It’s this theme that resonates and makes you love the book even more.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim ButcherUp, up, the winds and mists call the Grimm and wildcats. Duty, freedom and protection of family, new and old calls, as War blazes and the few and dedicated will be required to preserve the many. Another great series for a master of the Genre.

Day Boy by Trent Jamieson

Day Boy by Trent Jamieson book cover imageDay Boy is a coming of age story set in a world of harsh truths, blood, death and survival. It is a poetic story of humanity, of monsters living in the Shadow of the Mountain, bitter cold and open to the burning of the clear night sky.

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson book cover imageIn Shadows of Self you can feel the world, its mists and people. You can smell the horse leather and the coal in the air and you just want more.

The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan

The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan book cover imageThe Autumn Republic is everything you want – and didn’t want – for this story. The writing quality, flow and depth of commitment Brian McClellan has put into this final book in the trilogy is no less than the previous two instalments. I cannot see how you will be disappointed.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman book cover imageIf you like your worlds colourful but dark, fantastical and adventurous, this is the book for you.

Speak the name of the Library in the Language and the door will open. Step through at your own risk.

The Vagrant by Peter Newman

The Vagrant by Peter Newman book cover imageThe Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Years have passed since humanity’s destruction emerged from the Breach. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape.

A Crown of Cold Silver by Alex Marshall

Twenty years ago, feared general Cobalt Zosia led her five villainous captains and mercenary army into battle, wrestling monsters and toppling an empire. When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, she retired and gave up her legend to history.

The middle runners, while not world burners, they provided me a goodly amount of enjoyment and nostalgia,

The not so middle, those riding on the crest of the wave until they reach the shore of the next in their series.

As always there are some books which I did not have a chance to review but do require a mention,

  • Hallow Point by Ari Marmell 7/10
    The second in Oberon series, is much like the first, a great little read that ticks along nicely. The site has a review from another reviewer, click here.
  • Time Salvager by Wesley Chu 6.5/10
    If I am being honest, I had high hopes for this book and was somewhat disappointed. Well written, good narrative and engaging in parts, its biggest negative is the story was not very original, sticking to well-worn ideas on time travel and cause and effect.
  • Lockstep by Karl Schroeder 7.5/10
    The first three quarters of this book are fantastic, unfortunately the last quarter peters out and the finale is unsatisfying. You get the feeling the story ending was rushed a little and that more was intended, but not achieved.
  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson 9/10
    Awesome second installment to the Stormlight series. I tried a few times to get a review on paper, but the sheer size always made my words stumble and fall at the starting blocks. Can recommend this series enough got lovers of EPIC fantasy.
  • Firefight by Brandon Sanderson 7/10
    While not in the same league as Steelheart, the second installment in the Reckoners series had its highs and lows, but was overall a decent read.

I actually read all of the Secret History series by Simon R Green, The Man with the Golden Torc being book 1 and would recommend them to readers who enjoy funny, dark and on the nose comedy.

Side note on Brandon Sanderson, whose books fill the 2015 and 2016 list.

Have you ever seen the movie Multiplicity with Michael Keaton, if not, the basic premise is Keaton’s character clones himself four times in order to do everything he needs to do in life, work, play, bake, etc. So in that regard I would like to postulate hear and now, due to the SHEER volume of words Brandon Sanderson has been out putting out in the last few years and in the year to come, that he is quadruplets. Three for every day and one for Sunday best. I have even found a raw photo of all four of them together, on the far left is Studious Sanderson, next is the Wiseguy Sanderson, followed by the Scholarly Wiseguy Sanderson and finally Mischievous Sanderson.

The Four Sandersons image

It’s either that or he has stolen Shakespeare’s monkeys and has had them working overtime for the last decade.

Image with monkeys typing

Side note end.

And now comes the goodies for 2016, including their release dates. Gimme!

Gimme Them All (Futurama)

  • Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson, 26th Jan 2016
  • Staked by Kevin Hearne, 26th January 2016
  • Calamity by Brandon Sanderson, 16th Feb 2016
  • Burned by Benedict Jacka, 5th April 2016
  • The Malice by Peter Newman, 24th April 2016
  • Peace Talks by Jim Butcher, 10th May 2016
  • A Blade of Black Steel by Alex Marshall, 24th May 2016
  • Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley, 14th June 2016
  • The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch, 16th June 2016
  • The Blood Mirror by Brent Weeks, Mid-Late 2016
  • Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss, Mid 2016
    (Fingers, toes, legs, arms and eyes are all crossed it’ll happen)

What are you looking forward to in 2016?

My book addiction 2014 and more of what’s to come in 2015

Where to start… There have been so many excellent (and a few bad) releases in 2014, so much so I reviewed nearly all of the books I have read, so hurray me. Some have inspired me, most have captivated me and a few have made me shake my head in indignation.

There is just something in the power of words that make even the tough times that little bit easier; they are the escapism, relief to stress and pressure which draws you into another world for a few minutes or hours. Paraphrasing Robin Williams, “books are a crutch and support for people who get lost in reality”.

Broken record I know, but I said it last year and I am sure to say it again. Why do you care what some blogger with a friendly webmaster says about this year’s reading material? The simple answer is you don’t have too, but I like to talk, I am still opinionated and you never know where a good recommendation or possibility a book to miss comes from.

My 2014 reads (some reviews are from books published prior 2014) in order of my favourites are:

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Slow Regard of Silent Things coverThe University, a renowned bastion of knowledge, attracts the brightest minds to unravel the mysteries of enlightened sciences like artificing and alchemy. Yet deep below its bustling halls lies a complex and cavernous maze of abandoned rooms and ancient passageways – and in the heart of it all lives Auri.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a joyous offering of literary excellence and a heart-breaking delving of loss, loneliness and the mysteries that are Auri.

You can read an interview with the author here.
Rating: 10/10

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Skin Game book coverIn the absence of justice and a choice Harry must withhold vengeance against his greatest enemy? Bound as the Winter Knight to Winter’s Law Harry must settle Mab’s debt, committing theft and robbery from the most secure vault in the Nevernever. Unwillingness to comply to the letter of the agreement risks violating Mab’s word, his life and a chance for payback against Nicodemus. It’s going to take some fast thinking to get Harry out of this one alive and in one piece.

Stacking up the last three books, this has definitely been my favourite, this is Dresden through and through.
Rating: 9/10

The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan

The Crimson Campaign book coverWhen Gods walk the Earth and War rages unchecked, Tamas suffers defeat at the hands of Kez. Beaten but not Broken Tamas must fight his way back to Adro and his son.

Taniel awakens from his coma only to hear of his father is assumed death, traveling to the front, many things are not as they should be, as a traitor hides with the Armies high command.

Crimson Campaign is the second in the Powder Mage Trilogy and much like the Promise of Blood, it is simply fantastic. Gods, overt and introvert, magic, a struggle for survival and revenge, bundled up across three main story arcs. The Autumn Republic is going to be a great conclusion.
Rating: 9/10

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan

I initially started a review of this but still can’t bring myself to finish it. I was left a little wanting (yes, I understand Jordan passed away). If you have read or reading the WoT series nothing I can say will keep you from this final instalment. Still a great read.
Rating 7.5/10

Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia

Monster Hunter International book coverIn Monster Hunter International we inhabit a world of werewolves, vampires, trolls, orcs and much much more. It’s a hidden world known only to those who fight these creatures and those who have suffered at their hands. From the opening pages this book contains a lot of action and gun love, and continues in this vain from the start to finish. Think of it as a book that runs up hill without stopping and then jumps off.

This was enjoyable book, which came as a surprise. The shape and flow of the story is well defined and you easily breeze through the pages with glee.
Rating 8/10

The Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan

Promise of Blood book cover imageThe alchemy of gunpowder fused with the magic of sorcery. In a time of upheaval, resurgence and corrupted Royalty Privileged, one-man’s love for his lost wife and his country burns and fuels a new order where all can be treated equally.

You can almost smell the gunpowder and hear the guillotine falling.
Rating 8.5/10

The Very Best of Tad Williams by Tad Williams

The Very Best of Tad Williams book cover imageThe very best of Tad Williams is a collection of 17 different stories that will appeal to old and new fans alike. Whether you like fantasy, sci-fi, crime or horror there is a story here for you. Williams has delivered another well-conceived and written book, that if nothing else is a great introduction to his works for new fans.

The work regardless of the story is typical Williams, well constructed and thought-out, at times a little preachy for my taste but otherwise any reader would be very happy to pick up this work up.
Rating 8.5/10

No Hero by Jonathan Wood

I great little piece of English Urban fiction (even if he now lives in New York). Cosmic, funny, a lot of action and a great tag line, “What would Kurt Russell do?” Think Nightside mixed with Alex Verus.

When multidimensional horrors known as the Progeny try it invade your reality what would you do? Answer, join the secret government agency MI37 and ask yourself what would Kurt Russell do?
Rating 8/10

The City by Stella Gemmell

The City by Stella Gemmell book cover imageThe City is ancient and vast and has been waging almost constant war for centuries. At its heart resides the emperor. Few have ever seen him. Those who have remember a man in his prime – and yet he should be very old. Some speculate that he is no longer human, others wonder if indeed he ever truly was. And a few have come to a desperate conclusion: that the only way to halt the emperor’s unslakebale thirst for war is to end his unnaturally long life.

I will be the first to admit that I picked up this story with my own reservations and preconception, but was very happy to have them changed. This is a great addition to the epic fantasy genre.
Rating 7/10

Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan

Trudi Canavan's Thief's Magic book coverIn a world where an industrial revolution is powered by magic, Tyen, a student of archaeology, unearths a sentient book called Vella. Once a young sorcerer-bookbinder, Vella was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been collecting information, including a vital clue to the disaster Tyen’s world faces.

Overall the story is a success, mostly due to Tyen and Vella, with the last couple of chapters of Rielle’s story picking up the pace. There are some true Canavan elements and I look forward to seeing what happens in the next story. Tyen will only develop and learn and it will be interesting to see how he handles the power and responsibility. Rielle must evolve or stay the pawn of a religious overlord; I am not sure which way she will go.
Rating 7.5/10

Shattered by Kevin Hearne

Shattered by Kevin Hearne book coverFor nearly two thousand years, there was only one Druid left walking the Earth – Atticus O’Sullivan, the Iron Druid, whose sharp wit and sharp sword kept him alive while pursued by a pantheon of hostile deities. Now he’s got company.

The epilogue for Atticus, Granuaile and Owen is one of more trouble to come and I like that I can see which way and how it will be shaped in the next book.
Rating 7/10

Sleeping Late on Judgment Day by Tad Williams

The final book in this Bobby Dollar series doesn’t disappoint (well not much). Bobby must face the consequences of his actions, route out a Traitor in Heaven and maybe, just maybe save the girl/demon/love of this life. So, not much to worry about then.

For the most, Sleeping Late brings all the story threads together, throws in the Big Bad behind Bobby’s troubles (with very large hints to his past, which is then left unexplained, grrrr) and provides him the opportunity to kick some ass, while still getting his handed to him along the way.

Nice conclusion to this this particular story line.
Rating 7/10

Hidden by Benedict Jacka

Hidden by Benedict Jacka book coverAlex’s friend, the life mage Anne, distanced herself from him when she found out about his past as a Dark apprentice. Now she’s in serious trouble, but wants nothing to do with him. Alex has to start wondering if Anne’s problem is really with him – or if there’s a secret she’s trying to hide.

I am a big fan of Benedict Jacka, his writing style has a consistent flow and pace, his characters have a fully cemented feel to them but I found the lack of action for the first half of the book caused the reading to be a little dry. I would describe the book has having two parts. The first half is a good recap of the previous novels and leads you snugly to the second half, where the pace really picks up and you feel the story going somewhere. Knock through the first five chapters quickly and you won’t be disappointed.
Rating 7/10

The Getaway God by Richard Kadrey

The Getaway God by Richard Kadrey book coverRivers of blood, Armageddon and a resurrected enemy Stark personally made sure was dead. Welcome to L.A. The Old Gods are at the door and they want the squatters out. One problem, all of Stark’s favourite stuff is there, his DVD’s, his guns and his girlfriend, and as they say possession is nine-tenths of the Law.

Overall, The Getaway God had some true Sandman Slim elements and concluded to a degree Stark’s Sandman journey, but ultimately it didn’t feel like a cohesive and rounded novel.
Rating: 6/10

Severed Souls by Terry Goodkind

It may be best to just read my review. I also read The Third Kingdom in 2014 but it falls into the same basket as Severed Souls.
Rating 2/10


 

My still to read and review list from 2014 (have heard nothing but good things). So many books not enough time.

  • Age of Iron by Angus Watson
  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
  • Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
  • The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
  • The Binding Knife by Brent Weeks

2015 is starting to look pretty good, so mark your calendars but I don’t think I have enough time to read them all. That’s it – I’m quitting work to read full time…

  • Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson
    Just Released!
  • Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
    Release date, 3 February
  • The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage #3) by Brian McClellan
    Release date, 10 February
  • A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett
    Release date, 17 March
  • The Skull Throne (Demon Cycle, #4) by Peter V. Brett
    Release date, 24 March
  • The Vagrant by Peter Newman
    Release date, 23 April
  • King of Ashes (War of Five Crowns) by Raymond E. Feist
    Release date, April
    Blood of the Cosmos (Saga of Shadows #2) by Kevin J. Anderson
    Release date, 2 June
  • Stileto (sequel to The Rook) by Daniel O’Malley
    Release date, 30 June
  • Killing Pretty (Sandman Slim, # 7) by Richard Kadrey
    Release date, 28 July
  • The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) by Jim Butcher
    Release, Mid 2015 (sometime before Peace Talks)
  • Peace Talks (The Dresden Files, #16) by Jim Butcher
    Release date, September
  • Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5) by Brandon Sanderson
    Release date, October

Maybe (most likely not, but so want them to be) late late 2015 releases.

  • Doors of Stone (Kingkiller Chronicles #3) by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Skybreaker (The Stormlight Archive #3) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Staked (The Iron Druid Chronicles #8) by Kevin Hearne

Fergus McCartan: My book addiction in review

2013 has been a good year for feeding my book addiction. The majority of my reads have gone well and while many of the books were not from a new series I tried to branch out into the undiscovered whenever possible.  However, there is only so much time for reading for those of us with everyday working lives so I remain true to my favourites.

Maybe you are now questioning why you should care what some random reviewer with access to Word and has to say about this year’s reading material? The simple answer is there is no particular reason you should but I like to talk, I am rather opinionated, but you never know where a good recommendation might come from…

If I’d had the time I would have liked to of reviewed each and every book I have read, but sometimes that’s just not possible. Thankfully others have the same love and passion and together we can complete the picture and bore you ad nauseam about why we love or hate a particular book.

This year my hits have been many, my misses few. There have also been some I have placed on the back burner, which will get a second chance even though the first read was a struggle.

Down to it then.

Good – Top picks first

Dodger by Terry Pratchett coverDodger by Terry Pratchett
One of the best Pratchett books I have read in many years and my top pick of 2013. Come one come all to  the greatest city in the world. In London, all men are free, the streets are lined with gold and the naughty ladies are friendly to all.

“Pratchett has beautifully narrated Dodger. The story has been written in such a way you can feel the cobblestones under your feet as Dodger works his way around London; thankfully you don’t have to feel some other things described. The quality of the writing takes me back to discovering Terry Pratchett for the first time.”

Read my full Dodger review

The Dirty Streets of Heaven cover image.The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams
A very welcome surprise.  My preconceived expectations of this story were blown out of the water.  I went in preparing for the worst but it really came out as a cracker.

” I found the main characters and view to be engaging. The principle character, Bobby Dollar, is a nice balance of several characters types. If you have seen the movie or read the comics, you will find elements of Constantine, in his view of aspects of Heaven, Hell and Demons. I also found characteristics of Sandman Slim in the anthropomorphic depiction of demons and miscellaneous things that walk. Dresden is also in the mix in the elements of Bobby’s motivation and actions towards demons. Divine hero, wounded, beaten, and tired, out of his depth and trick but ever growing, evolving and becoming something more.”

Read my full The Dirty Streets of Heaven review

Steelheart cover imageSteelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Comic book superheroes that make Lex Luther look like a girl scout.  In a world turned upside down, humanity struggles to survive.  Great read, highly recommended.

“Strength, speed and immortality are a few of the Epics powers, but ridiculously stupid evil villain names like Conflux, Deathpointer, Pink Pinkness: I am not sure whether to laugh or cry. I say laugh as it’s got to be some strange homage to Stan Lee. I will be honest, I went into this book not expecting to like it and came out pleasantly surprised. Don’t dwell too long on some of the comic book silliness and you will be pleased.”

Read my full Steelheart review

Ender’s Game & Speaker of the Dead by Oscar Scott Card
There is not much I can add to this that already hasn’t already been said over the years. My usual literary bread and butter is fantasy and I don’t often venture into sci-fi however, with the talk of the upcoming movie I wanted to get the original story before the edited movie version. Once I finished the first book it was suffice to say I choose not to see the movie. This may be a little harsh but after watching the trailers and reading the reviews I knew too much had been amended to give a true representation of the story. The quality, complicity, and nuances of the books where lost. The concepts behind the need for Ender’s existence, his treatment and isolation where not, could not be a tale for a children’s movie. The realism, pain and gut crippling fear just wouldn’t be possible in a PG movie. I would urge anyone who has seen the movie and found it lacking to redeem the story by reading the book, you will not be left wanting.

Hunted by Kevin Hearne
Book six in the Iron Druid Chronicles. If you are into these books, you need no further explanation. It delivers everything the other books have previously; fast paced, magical, Gods and the ever impending doom of the Apocalypse.  If you have read the series, get a move on – it’s great little read.  Book one, Hounded, will drag you into a world of the Last Druid, Atticus O’Sullian, 2,100 years old but doesn’t look a day over 21.  Old hatred doesn’t die for the Immortal Gods the Tuatha Dé Danann, hiding for centuries Atticus is tired of running and finally will face his enemies down.

Kill City Blues by Richard Kadrey
Book four of the Sandman Slim novels. While not as gripping and engaging as the other three novels, Kadrey gives it a red-hot go. Older Gods from before time, supernatural squatters in abandoned shopping malls where the dead roam free. What could go wrong? If you have not come across the series before, have a read of the review for the first book, Sandman Slim, absolutely awesome.

Broken Homes cover imageBroken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch
Book four of the Rivers of London series and Aaronovitch is still going strong. Layer upon layer is built and we begin to see a world build around Peter and the Folly Team. Laughs, action, betrayal and the realisation that the Faceless Man is fallible.

“You can’t go past the humour in these books, reading Peters attempts to use dog barks as scientific measurement in his research into magic and let’s not forget Molly’s learning to cook and everyone still going hungry. The times when magical ‘kick-assery’ is employed are absorbing and energizing; Nightingale coming to the rescue of Peter and Lesley, a cottage collapsing around him and walking out fixing his tie in one hand and dragging the bad guy with the other, very Bond. Laughs, action, betrayal and the magic woof-scale. What more can you ask for?”

Read my full Broken Homes review

Promise of Blood book cover imagePromise of Blood by Brian McClellan
I was given this recommendation by my local bookmonger (which sounds better than just plain “guy in book store”).  I wasn’t lead wrong: French revolution, mixed with guns and magic.

“Love, betrayal, swords, magic, muskets and Kresimir returned, there is trouble on the horizon for Tamas in book two. I will say this now, Tamas will die; he is going to sacrifice himself to the Kresimir to save the world or his son or both. I just can’t see another out outcome for him. Thankfully we are a while away from that, maybe I should say hopefully…”

Read my full Promise of Blood review

Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men by Derek Landy
If you are this far down the rabbit hole you have to admit that your “dirty little secret read”. A fun, dark page-turner. Only one more book and it’s all done.  If you haven’t read it, pick up book one and pretend your going to give it to the kids…

Cursed cover imageCursed by Benedict Jacka
Book two of the series and Jacka really begins to add meat to the bones of the Alex Verus world, and slowly move away from the Dresden stereotype. Assassins, Magical Councils, Martial Arts and angry women – what more can you ask for?

“In ‘Cursed’ we are starting to build into the back story and get some legs behind the world of Alex Verus, it’s still verging on a Dresden story but we are staring to see some breakout individuality. The more I read, the more I enjoy and the more I want to read.”

Read my full Cursed review

Happy Hour in Hell cover imageHappy Hour in Hell by Tad Williams
Bobby Dollar crawls through Heaven and Hell for love and we follow him every step of the way. Great second installment.

“That aside, in book two we begin to delve more into heavenly and demonly (yes I know that is not a word) affairs.  We are reminded that Bobby is a small fish in a big pond, mostly by himself. However, for such a small fish those in power are very interested. I am unsure if there is a hidden path for Bobby or if it’s just the depths of his abilities and determination flow from his forgotten history. I am currently favouring two options at the moment. One: Bobby is an Arch-Angel, disillusioned with Heaven and trying to regain some faith by doing some leg work on earth. Two: Bobby is actually a Fallen Angel who has been granted access to Heaven again. More than likely it’s neither, but it’s fun to guess.”

Read my full Happy Hour in Hell review

The Desert Spear by Brent Weeks
A great second installment in the Demon Trilogy. We begin to get the history behind Ahmann Jardir and Arlen.  Betrayal, from those we love cuts that much deeper. Brent Weeks has provided us with a depiction of a man trying his best to help a world in fear by teaching them to help themselves. And a man who thinks he can save the world by strength and will alone.

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
All of the Discworld feel but lacking in that quirkiness. In a universe of magic and anthropomorphised characters, steam power has come to Ankh-Morpork, hot, dangerous and alive. Raising Steam has all the elements of our Discworld favourites: Vimes, Vetinari, dwarfs but for me the spark was missing.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book but I did walk away feeling it was a little lacking.  Maybe I am still looking for that first Discworld hit, that pee in my pants, sniggering on the bus like a mad man while everyone is looking at you moment and maybe I should realise you can’t have that very time. Read and judge for yourself.

Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson
Death is a business and it runs in the family. Even when people die they need help. Help to let go and move on.  Death Most Definite is a nice twist on the tale of death and the afterlife. Death is a business, broken down into regions, nice bite size pieces and business is good.  When the people who facilitate death begin turning up dead themselves, the recently deceased are left stranded. A cataclysm is coming, someone wants promotion and nothing will get in their way. This is a great little read from a Brisbane local and I particularly liked the concept for the afterlife; death, recycling and the tree of life. Dark, funny and mythic.

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
Cheesy, somewhat predictable modern fantasy with hard notes and a nice twist of a future, alternate world. Mages, monsters and necromancers abound the main character Kate is an underdog with teeth. Surprisingly fun little read, it won’t take up to much of your weekend.

Already Dead by Charlie Huston
Vampire fiction is not my usual could of tea but this was a recommendation and I decided to give it a go. You know how the story go, man becomes vampire, man BECOMES the vampire, man eventually see the errors of his ways and tries to redeem himself. In a city of vampire loyalty and divided territories, a single vampire walks a path of survival and maybe do a little good. Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you can’t have a heart. Don’t get me wrong here, he will rip the still beating beat from the chest of the bad guy, but he’ll feel bad about it.

Bad – Worst first

Prophecy’s Ruin by Sam Bowring
On the plus side was well-written and the story had legs.  However, the characters where flat and a quarter of the way through, we still hadn’t progressed past the character build up and back-story.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I just don’t know what I was thinking – young adult drivel at it best. At least there aren’t any sparkly vampires. If you were a fan of Edward or Jacob, then this is for you.

Daylight War by Peter V Brett
I was really looking forward to the third installment in the Demon Cycle books. The first two books were very good, and while I can understand the concept Brett was trying to put across, it just didn’t work. In book one we had Arlen’s story, in book two we had Jardir’s and for book three we focus on Inevera’s story. The problem with this is that Inevera is not a relatable character. I developed no empathy for her or her back-story and while Inevera’s story depicts a harsh upbringing it was unmoving and dry, in the end I just put the book down half way through. I will most likely read about the book online before trying to progress to book four, I just hope that we don’t have to go through this Robert Jordan-esque character development again.

Magician's End cover imageMagician’s End by Raymond E Feist
This one was bitter sweet for me, I didn’t want it to end but after the stretching of the plots over the last couple of books it was time. Magician’s End had so much potential, we could have really had a real tearjerker but Feist played it safe and as such it was all very deflating. It really shouldn’t be in the bad pile, maybe in the “to revisit”, but it could have been so much more. It deserved to be so much more.

“There is an old saying “whoever brought me here must also bring me home”. Feist brought us to Pug and Midkemia many years ago and has finally brought us home to an ending; unfortunately I am just not sure that it is an ending worthy of the life of Pug and the Midkemia Universe. When I read a series I have a tendency to not read the last novel, I guess I don’t want it to actually be over. Nevertheless, it felt like it was time to close the page on Pug (pun intended); I just wish it were more. In Magician’s End I found the plot to be lean, the sub-stories unconnected and I found no empathy or connection with a lot of characters laid out in the story.”

Read my full Magician’s End review

To revisit

The Gunslinger by Stephen King
No need to shoot the messenger here (pun intended) and I am sure to get come flack for this, but I just couldn’t make myself like it. I just found the story too laborious, the characters to be monotonous and we just don’t seem to be going anywhere. Time and perspective are a great boon.

Clockwork Vampire Chronicles by Andy Remic
I will be honest: I found the story and world to be vivid and compelling, Remic has an excellent writing technique and makes the world jump out from the page. Unfortunately the characters did not.  I am not sure if it was just my frame of mind but I felt they lacked a certain spark. I will sit on it for a while and give another go, as I can really see this being a very good series.

Most Anticipated Books of 2012 – The Rest

Ryan Lawler and Josh Hill have set out to give you the run down on the best fantasy books being published in 2012.

Check out part two, ‘The Heavyweights’ and the last part, Our Favourites.

The Rest

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig cover image.

Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

The Seabound Sea by Sam Sykes

The Southbound Sea cover image

After the misadventures of the first two books Lenk and his companions must finally turn away from fighting each other and for their own survival and look to saving the entire human race. A terrible demon has risen from beneath the sea and where it came from thousands could follow. And all the while an alien race is planning the extinction of humanity. The third volume in the Aeon’s Gate trilogy widens the action out dramatically. ‘Tome of the Undergates’ was based mainly on a ship, ‘Black Halo’ moved the action to an island of bones, The Skybound Sea takes us out into a world threatened with a uniquely imagined and terrifying apocalypse.

A Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

So far there is no cover and no blurb available for ‘A Red Country’ by Joe Abercrombie. However, you can head along to Abercrombie’s blog to check out what he has to say on the book.

So I’ve finished the first draft of the second part of my latest masterwork, workingly titled, ‘A Red Country,’ or possibly just, ‘Red Country,’ we will see on that score. For those who have failed to follow this blog religiously for the past few months (shame on you faithless scum), it is another semi-standalone set in the world of The First Law, and fusing fantasy elements with western elements, in the same way that The Heroes was a fantasy/war story and Best Served Cold fantasy/thriller-ish. That puts me about 40% of the way through a first draft, though I suspect there’ll be a fair bit of work to do once the first draft is complete. Isn’t there always? Now the terrifying wait for feedback from my editor and readers while I try and sort out what exactly I’m going to do with my next part. I guess one could say that if Part I was a little bit Searchers then Part II rolled into Lonesome Dove territory and Part III has something of a Deadwood/Fistful of Dollars motif.

Read more here.

City of Dragons (The Rain Wilds Chronicles) by Robin Hobb

City of Dragons cover image.

Return to the world of the Liveships Traders and journey along the Rain Wild River in the third instalment of high adventure from the author of the internationally acclaimed Farseer trilogy.

Kelsingra awaits for those brave enough to enter…

The dragons and their keepers have discovered Kelsingra but so far only Heeby has succeeded in flying over the river to enter the fabled city. The other dragons, with their deformed wings and feeble muscles, are afraid to risk failure and humiliation.

But wondrous things await in Kelsingra, a city built for dragons and their Elderling keepers. Alise, overwhelmed by the treasures she finds there, records her finds for posterity. Once the rest of the world knows about the riches the city contains, nothing will ever be the same again.

Already, rumours of the city’s discovery have floated down the Rain Wild River and reached envious ears in Bingtown and beyond. Adventurers, pirates and fortune hunters are coming in droves to pillage what they can from the city. As is Hest Finbok, Alise’s husband…

Meanwhile, Selden Vestrit finds himself a prisoner of the ailing Duke of Chalced, who believes him to be some sort of dragon-man whose flesh and blood may work miracle cures.

Where is Tintaglia, the great sapphire-blue dragon, when all have such need of her? Has she really abandoned her beloved Selden and the fledgling dragons forever? Or will she too return to seek the wonders of Kelsingra?

The Traitor Queen (Traitor Spy) by Trudi Canavan

The Traitor Queen cover image

Relieved that Lorkin is coming home, Sonea prepares to meet with the Traitors on behalf of the Guild. Then bad news arrives: the Sachakan king has imprisoned her son.

As the Sachakan king tries to force Lorkin into betraying the Traitors, Dannyl questions his friendship with Ashaki Achati. Can he trust the Sachakan? Not at all, if Tayend is right. But do Tayend’s suspicions spring from good political instincts, or jealousy?

Easily evading capture by the Guild, the Rogue knows only one obstacle lies between him and his ambition to rule the underworld: Cery. Forced into hiding, protected by Lilia, Cery must wait for the Guild to find his enemy. But is Black Magician Kallen purposefully failing in his task?

And Lorkin must decide where his loyalties lie, for whatever choice he makes will require a great sacrifice.

The Killing Moon (The Dream Blood) by N.K. Jemisin

The Killing Moon cover image

The city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon.

In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers – the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe . . . and kill those judged corrupt.

But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru – the most famous of the city’s Gatherers – must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess’ name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh’s alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill – or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.

The Daylight War (The Demon Cycle) by Peter V. Brett

So far there is no cover for ‘The Daylight War’ by Peter V. Brett (unless you want the German cover) and no blurb. In fact, the book has been pushed back to be published in February of 2013, but we thought we would put it in here anyway. You can check out on all the details here on Peter’s website.

Trinity Moon (Wild Hunt) by Elspeth Cooper

Gair’s battle has only just begun, and yet his heart has already been lost. As he struggles with a crippling grief, still outwardly functional but inwardly torn into pieces, he sleepwalks into a situation that’s greater and more deadly than he or Alderan ever anticipated. A storm of unrest is spreading across the land and they are going to be caught up in it – at a moment when Gair’s hold on his magic, his greatest defence and most valuable tool, is starting to slip . . . He is not alone in noticing the growing unrest and sensing something darker looming behind it. Beyond the mountains, in the bitterly cold north, Teia has seen the signs as well. After hundreds of years of peace her people are talking of a risky invasion to reclaim their ancestral lands . . . her Speaker claims the gods are on their side, but Teia fears another, hidden hand of stirring her people up. Whatever the truth, all she can see in her future is blood, battle and death. If she could only see a way to avert that fate. But how can men be convinced to fight, when they have no idea they are part of a war . . . ?

The Devil’s Looking Glass (Sword of Albion) by Mark Chadbourn

The Devil's Looking Glass cover image

1593: The dreaded alchemist, black magician and spy Dr John Dee is missing…

Terror sweeps through the court of Queen Elizabeth, for in Dee’s possession is an obsidian mirror, a mysterious object of great power which legend says could set the world afire.

And so the call goes out to celebrated swordsman, adventurer and rake Will Swyfte – find Dee and his feared looking-glass and return them to London before disaster strikes. But when Will discovers the mirror may help him solve the mystery that has haunted him for years – the fate of his lost love, Jenny – the stakes become acutely personal.

With a frozen London under siege by supernatural powers, the sands of time are running out. Will is left with no choice but to pursue the alchemist to the devil-haunted lands of the New World – in the very shadow of the terrifying fortress home of England’s hidden enemy, the Unseelie Court.

Surrounded by an army of these unearthly fiends, with only his sword and a few brave friends at his back, the realm’s greatest spy must be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice – or see all he loves destroyed.

For more books being released in 2012, make sure you head back to the site this week for the Big Releases of 2012 and Ryan and Josh’s Most Anticipated Releases for 2012.

Peter V Brett on cusp of life-changing movie deal

The commuter who wrote his fantasy novel on a mobile phone is on verge of multi-million pound movie deal.

Peter V Brett wrote his fantasy novel The Painted Man while on the ‘F’ train from his home in Brooklyn to Times Square, busily pressing away on the keys of his HP Ipaq 6515, a phone similar to a BlackBerry, while other passengers dozed or read the newspaper.

After it became a success he then wrote half of a sequel The Desert Spear in the same manner before quitting his job in medical publishing to write full time.

The planned trilogy has been picked up by the British team behind the Resident Evil science fiction movie franchise. They want to release the first film in 2012.

The first film will be made in 3D with a budget of up to (£60 million) and will be directed by Paul WS Anderson, the British director behind Resident Evil, released in 2002, which made $150 million (£100 million) at the worldwide box office.

The Painted Man was first published in Britain in 2008 and then under the title The Warded Man in the United States the following year. It has sold 100,000 copies in 17 countries. The Desert Spear was released this month and is on best-seller lists.

My Most Anticipated Books of 2010

With the beginning of a new year come resolutions, gym memberships, budgets and more. But, honestly, none of that really matters in the face of some of the books that are coming this year. So here’s a small taste of what is coming in 2010 from some of fantasy’s best, and why I’m looking forward to them.

Crack’d Pot Trail by Steven Erikson

It is an undeniable truth: give evil a name and everyone’s happy. Give it two names and . . . why, they’re even happier.

The intrepid necromancers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, scourges of civilization, raisers of the dead, reapers of the souls of the living, devourers of hope, betrayers of faith, slayers of the innocent and modest personifications of evil, have a lot to answer for and answer they will. Known as the Nehemoth, they are pursued by countless self-professed defenders of decency, sanity and civilization. After all, since when does evil thrive unchallenged? Well, often: but not this time.

Hot on their heels are the Nehemothanai, avowed hunters of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. In the company of a gaggle of artists and pilgrims, stalwart Mortal Sword Tulgord Vise, pious Well Knight Arpo Relent, stern Huntsman Steck Marynd, and three of the redoubtable Chanter brothers (and their lone sister) find themselves faced with the cruelest of choices. The legendary Cracked Pot Trail, a stretch of harsh wasteland between the Gates of Nowhere and the Shrine of the Indifferent God, has become a tortured path of deprivation.

Will honour, moral probity and virtue prove champions in the face of brutal necessity? No, of course not. Don’t be silly.

With Dust of Dreams released late last year, Erikson, author of the wildly popular Malazan Book of the Fallen series, has released another novella in his Bauchelain and Korbal Broach series. I’m yet to read any, much to my disappointment, but hopefully with the release of the fourth novella I’ll rectify that and read all of them. Very excited for more Erikson.

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks

Set in a world where color is the basis of all magic, Gavin Guile is the current Prism – and one that happens to have many secrets. Secrets like his brother Javen, who he defeated in the great war years earlier and now keeps in a dungeon below his home. Or secrets like his son Kip, a young man raised in another land who has yet to realize the full extent of his powers.

As Kip begins to learn the truth behind Gavin and Javen’s great schism, he will also learn that time is running out for the world as they know it. For the Prism is not what he seems to be, and there are greater powers afoot than could ever have been imagined.

Brent Weeks is an author that I enjoy, most of the time. I read his first book, The Way of Shadows, and liked it but didn’t keep reading. The book didn’t grab me entirely, but I am told that I am wrong (my girlfriend, if you needed to know and hadn’t guessed). So I’m really looking forward to his next series.

The Desert Spear by Peter V Brett

The sun is setting on humanity. The night now belongs to voracious demons that arise as the sun sets, preying upon a dwindling population forced to cower behind ancient and half-forgotten symbols of power. These wards alone can keep the demons at bay, but legends tell of a Deliverer: a general—some would say prophet—who once bound all mankind into a single force that defeated the demons. Those times, if they ever existed, are long past. The demons are back, and the return of the Deliverer is just another myth . . . or is it?

Out of the desert rides Ahmann Jardir, who has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army. He has proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer, and he carries ancient weapons—a spear and a crown—that give credence to his claim. Sworn to follow the path of the first Deliverer, he has come north to bring the scattered city-states of the green lands together in a war against demonkind—whether they like it or not.

But the northerners claim their own Deliverer. His name was Arlen, but all know him now as the Warded Man: a dark, forbidding figure whose skin is tattooed with wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. The Warded Man denies that he is the Deliverer, but his actions speak louder than words, for he teaches men and women to face their fears and stand fast against the creatures that have tormented them for centuries.

Once the Shar’Dama Ka and the Warded Man were friends, brothers in arms. Now they are fierce adversaries. Caught between them are Renna, a young woman pushed to the edge of human endurance; Leesha, a proud and beautiful healer whose skill in warding surpasses that of the Warded Man himself; and Rojer, a traveling fiddler whose uncanny music can soothe the demons—or stir them into such frenzy that they attack one another.

Yet as old allegiances are tested and fresh alliances forged, all are blissfully unaware of the appearance of a new breed of demon, more intelligent—and deadly—than any that have come before.

The Painted Man (The Warded Man in the US) was the first book by newcomer Peter V. Brett, and I enjoyed it tremendously. It was simple, and fun, and really interesting. Some books aim for complicated and epic but fail to remember to make it fun and interesting. So I am really looking forward to the sequel.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

After their adventures on the high seas, Locke and Jean are brought back to earth with a thump. Jean is mourning the loss of his lover and Locke must live with the fallout of crossing the all-powerful magical assassins the Bonds Magi. It is a fall-out that will pit both men against Locke’s own long lost love. Sabetha is Locke’s childhood sweetheart, the love of Locke’s life and now it is time for them to meet again. Employed on different sides of a vicious dispute between factions of the Bonds Sabetha has just one goal – to destroy Locke forever. The Gentleman Bastard sequence has become a literary sensation in fantasy circles and now, with the third book, Scott Lynch is set to seal that success.

I’m a really big fan of Lynch and his Gentleman Bastard series. I loved the first two, and I can’t wait for this book to be released because we finally get to meet Sabetha, an oft mentioned never seen character. And really, what’s life without more stealing?

A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance once again–beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has three times three thousand enemies, and many have set out to find her. Yet, as they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

To the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone–a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge yet. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

And from all corners, bitter conflicts soon reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.

It’s been a dirty great long time since the last book in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and I am really excited for the fifth book in the series which, I’ve been told by a lovely and reliable source, will be coming out in November of 2010. More Jon Snow and more Daenerys Targaryen is a sure fire way to get me excited.

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”

An escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe discovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King’s road.

All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived. Under her tutelage, Kvothe learns much about true magic and the ways of women.

In The Wise Man’s Fear Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

Easily the most anticipated book of 2010 (I hope) is Patrick Rothfuss’s long awaited sequel to his massively popular and successful The Name of the Wind. The Wise Man’s Fear has been thrown around as a title coming soon for awhile now, and we can only hope that this year does indeed bring us the next in this wonderful series. Patrick Rothfuss has, in my mind, easily secured himself a place in the top 10 fantasy writers of all time. Let’s hope he can secure it with the next book.

And that’s it for me. There are probably going to be a lot of books that didn’t make this list simply because I don’t know about them, or I don’t know the authors. But I have no doubt there are going to be some surprises for FBR this year, as there is every year. And please, leave your comments as to what you’re looking forward to and what I missed.

Film rights to Peter V Brett’s “The Warded Man” picked up

Filmmaker Paul WS Anderson and long-time producing partner Jeremy Bolt, the duo behind the moneymaking “Resident Evil” franchise, have picked up film rights to Peter V Brett’s debut fantasy novel, “The Warded Man.”

The book is set in an undetermined future where mankind is beset by nightly attacks from demonkind and has been thrown back into a feudal state. Three young people emerge with the potential power to turn the tide, including the title character, a man who has wards (spells) tattooed on his body.

“It was an occasion where it paid to be British, we got wind of it when it was in galley form before the UK release. We think it has the potential to be a new Lord of the Rings style epic” Anderson said.

Novelist Brett was an ad man with a two-hour commute to Manhattan; he wrote the book on his BlackBerry.

The book, the first of a trilogy titled “The Demon Cycle,” launched last year in Australia before hitting Europe, where it became an instant best-seller, notably in Germany and the UK, where it is in its second and third printing, respectively.

Brett is revising the second novel in the “Demon Cycle,” “The Desert Spear,” which is scheduled for worldwide publication in April.

Source: Reuters & The Hollywood Reporter

Raised on a steady diet of fantasy novels, comic books and Dungeons and Dragons, Peter V. Brett (“Peat” to his friends) has been writing fantasy stories for as long as he can remember. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Art History from the University at Buffalo in 1995, and then spent over a decade in pharmaceutical publishing before returning to his blissful life of fiction writing. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Danielle and two cats, Jinx and Max Powers.

Fantasy Book Review of The Painted Man
There isn’t anything quite as lovely as a fresh idea. Whether we’re talking about a new way to cook pork or a book, it’s the same; a new idea is everything. But you don’t always come across new ideas, especially when we’re talking about fantasy novels. One need only look at the ruckus caused by authors like Terry Brooks or Christopher Paolini to see what I’m talking about.