Rincewind vs Vimes: Who do you like best?

Vimes and Rincewind, from Terry Pratchett's Discworld seriesThere is nothing like a good long holiday to catch-up on your reading, and I have recently returned from mine. Prior to setting out I knew I wouldn’t be able to take all the books I would want, so Kindle in hand, and just one or two hard copies, off I trundled on my holiday.

Choosing not to get into anything too heavy I decided to re-read some old favourites. Settling on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series I set myself the challenge to read my favourite character’s books in their chronological order. In my case these have always been Rincewind and Vimes.

Rincewind, as the books say, is the true anti-hero, and a man out of reality and backbone (with hilarious consequences). He doesn’t want much, to be called a ‘Wizzard’ and occasionally a really long head-start. Vimes on the other hand is, or was the underdog, a character who wants to think in straight lines as long as they are crooked. With a heart of gold, and a boot of steel the Vetinari lapdog dragged himself from the gutter to bludgeon the law back into line in a city of lawlessness. Smart, dogged (pun intended), continually bruised and bloody but he always gets his man/women/dwarf/law-breaker.

I was able to knock the Rincewind books off fairly quickly but only got through the first five of the Vimes stories. That said I was able to (for myself) final pick a winner. Drum roll please…

Vimes!

There are so many things I love about Rincewind, his perpetual cowardliness, his deluded belief that there should be logic in the Discworld, he fatalism (which is pretty on the nose when the gods are using you as a chess piece), and it probably doesn’t help that as a wizard he can see Death, who really really doesn’t like Rincewind very much. Rincewind captures the two sides of people, the flight and the fight. Well maybe not much on the fight, but he’s still alive thanks to some fast feet and a his own deadly weapon… a Sock (stone supplied separately!).

Lets just get down to playground level, who would win in a fight? Obviously Vimes would come out on top, but I’d say it would be a closer call than most would think, you can tell Rincewind would be a biter and hair puller. On the other hand, if we are talking about a foot race, all my money is on Rincewind. There is a freedom in Rincewind’s tactical confrontation disengagement, his exit stage left a la Snagglepuss, that always brings a smile to my face. What’s the old adage ‘he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day’ – this might be better refined in Rincewind’s case as ‘fugit ille vivit alius dies fugere’ – he who runs away, lives to run away another day.

The one issue I have with Rincewind’s is that given the depth and complexity of character that Vimes has, he can come across a little one-dimensional. Vimes, from his first appearance was layered, complex and born new to the reader. Pratchett gives you his flaws, his durability and the reformation of the Night Watch and himself.

It’s these flaws that make you bond with the character, we all have them and hope to improve on them while still functioning in life and the world, even if it’s a world flying on the back of a giant turtle, held up by four giant elephants.

Rincewind in comparison to Vimes is a man out of his world, while Vimes is a man firmly rooted inside his world: he accepts its defects, disfigurements (no jib at Nobby) and inequality and does his best to lift it a little higher out of the river (I would have said mud but calling what flows through the Ankh would sully the name of mud).

The point of my musings is I hope is to see what other people think. If you had to pick Vimes or Rincewind, who would your be choice and why? Would you pick neither? Maybe Death is your anthropomorphic man or Granny Weatherwax is your crone?

Maybe there is no right or wrong answer as they are all just fantastic.

Any thoughts?

Help celebrate International Sir Terry Pratchett Day

Sir Terry PratchettTo celebrate Sir Terry Pratchett as The London Book Fair’s (LBF) Author of the Day on Tuesday 8 April, the International Authors Forum, in association with LBF, has designated Tuesday 8 April International Sir Terry Pratchett Day, to mark his phenomenal international publishing success.

To launch the day, authors from around the world will be asked to vote for their favourite character from one of his books – choosing from a list of Sir Terry’s Official Top 10 Favourites, which are:

  1. Commander Vimes
  2. DEATH
  3. Granny Weatherwax
  4. Tiffany Aching
  5. Lord Vetinari
  6. The Librarian
  7. Nanny Ogg
  8. Rincewind
  9. The Nac Mac Feegle
  10. Willikins

“Sir Terry Pratchett is a huge source of pride amongst the global author community. His innumerable achievements and dedication to his craft – unlocking imaginations, giving entertainment, education and wonder to so many – are testament to the value of the author in society. We are honoured to be celebrating Sir Terry Pratchett, and to be spreading the celebration worldwide,” commented Katie Webb, International Authors Forum.

“An International Terry Pratchett Day?  I have a day?  A vote?  I will celebrate with a tincture poured by Willikins… I urge you to do the same – by voting for your favourite character. Log on to www.londonbookfair.co.uk/sirtpday to find out mine,” added Sir Terry Pratchett.

To vote for your favourite Sir Terry Pratchett character, please go to www.londonbookfair.co.uk/sirtpday or tweet using the hashtag #intSirTPday.

All those who register their vote and tweet for their favourite character will be entered in to a prize draw to win a signed copy of one of Sir Terry’s books.

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 image.Steelheart 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 book cover image.Broken 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 book 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 book coverMagician’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 2013 – The Heavyweights

As a reviewer of books this crossover time between years is the greatest. We get the chance to look back on the wonderful reading we have done over the past 12 months and we can also look forward to the anticipated reading of the 12 months to come. As is now becoming tradition here at FBR, Ryan and Josh get together to work through the Most Anticipated books for the year to come, and this year we’ve expanded our categories. We’ll look at books being released by the heavyweights of the industry as well as those books that simply may not be receiving as much attention. We’ll look at what we personally are most looking forward to, but this year we also add a fourth category; those books that Goodreads and other sites are anticipating, but we honestly doubt we’ll see. So jump on in to the Most Anticipated books of 2013.


It’s time now to jump in to those releases expected from the heavyweights of the industry, but beware, some may be missing, waiting for their opportunity to appear in Our Most Anticipated of 2013.

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Already Released (January 8)

A_Memory_of_Light_cover

Since 1990, when Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time® burst on the world with its first book, The Eye of the World, readers have been anticipating the final scenes of this extraordinary saga, which has sold over forty million copies in over thirty languages.

When Robert Jordan died in 2007, all feared that these concluding scenes would never be written. But working from notes and partials left by Jordan, established fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson stepped in to complete the masterwork. With The Gathering Storm (Book 12) and Towers of Midnight (Book 13) behind him, both of which were # 1 New York Times hardcover bestsellers, Sanderson now re-creates the vision that Robert Jordan left behind.

Edited by Jordan’s widow, who edited all of Jordan’s books, A Memory of Light will delight, enthrall, and deeply satisfy all of Jordan’s legions of readers.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

The Ocean at the End of the Road by Neil Gaiman

Tentative Release Date – 19 June

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The Ocean At The End of the Lane is a novel about memory and magic and survival, about the power of stories and the darkness inside each of us.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when he was seven: the lodger stole the family’s car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and a menace unleashed — within his family, and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defense is three women, on a ramshackle farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac — as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark.

Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Tentative Release Date – 13 July

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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 for ever. 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.

Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

Tentative Release Date – 1 August

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To reach the throne requires that a man journey. Even a path paved with good intentions can lead to hell, and my intentions were never good.

The Hundred converge for Congression to politic upon the corpse of Empire, and while they talk the Dead King makes his move, and I make mine. The world is cracked, time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days, the future so bright that those wh…o see it are the first to burn. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne whoever seeks to thwart me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.

This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don’t look to me to save you. Don’t think I will not spend you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don’t follow me.

Follow me, and I will break your heart.

The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Tentative Release Date – June

A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth — but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind… A new ‘America’, called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the plentiful environment of the Long Earth — and Valhalla is growing restless under the control of the Datum government…

Meanwhile the Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity’s thoughtless exploitation… Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any mankind has waged before.

Magician’s End by Raymond E. Feist

Tentative Release Date – June 17

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Thirty years ago Raymond E. Feist wrote his first novel, Magician, a story about an orphan boy named Pug who travels to a place known as the Kingdom of the Isles to study wizardry a Master Magician. Magician introduced us to Midkemia and the Riftwar, an epic series of battles between Good and Evil that have scarred this imaginative new world for generations. Now, after twenty-nine books (authored and co-authored), Feist delivers the crowning achievement of his renowned bestselling career: Magician’s End, the final chapter in his extraordinary Riftwar saga.

Pug — who has assumed the mantle of the greatest magician of all time — must risk everything he has fought for and everything he cherishes in the hope of destroying an evil enemy once and for all. But to achieve peace and save untold millions of lives, he will have to pay the ultimate price…

The Daylight War by Peter V Brett

Tentative Release Date – February 12

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On the night of the new moon, the demons rise in force, seeking the deaths of two men, both of whom have the potential to become the fabled Deliverer, the man prophesied to reunite the scattered remnants of humanity in a final push to destroy the demon corelings once and for all.

Arlen Bales was once an ordinary man, but now he has become something more—the Warded Man, tattooed with eldritch wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. Arlen denies he is the Deliverer at every turn, but the more he tries to be one with the common folk, the more fervently they believe. Many would follow him, but Arlen’s path threatens to lead to a dark place he alone can travel to, and from which there may be no returning. The only one with hope of keeping Arlen in the world of men, or joining him in his descent into the world of demons, is Renna Tanner, a fierce young woman in danger of losing herself to the power of demon magic. Ahmann Jardir has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army and proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer. He carries ancient weapons—a spear and a crown—that give credence to his claim, and already vast swaths of the green lands bow to his control. But Jardir did not come to power on his own. His rise was engineered by his First Wife, Inevera, a cunning and powerful priestess whose formidable demon bone magic gives her the ability to glimpse the future. Inevera’s motives and past are shrouded in mystery, and even Jardir does not entirely trust her. Once Arlen and Jardir were as close as brothers. Now they are the bitterest of rivals. As humanity’s enemies rise, the only two men capable of defeating them are divided against each other by the most deadly demons of all—those lurking in the human heart.

Unfettered Anthology by Shawn Speakman (Anthology)

Tentative Release Date – May

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Unfettered is a fantasy short story anthology built to eliminate the medical debt Shawn garnered from treating uninsured cancer in 2011.

All of the authors are donating short stories to the themeless anthology. They are writing exactly what they want, free to express themselves in all ways, making this is a unique sort of book for fantasy fans everywhere!

The writers who will be contributing are: Terry Brooks Patrick Rothfuss Naomi Novik Brandon Sanderson RA Salvatore Tad Williams Jacqueline Carey Daniel Abraham Peter V. Brett Robert VS Redick Peter Orullian Todd Lockwood Carrie Vaughn Blake Charlton Kevin Hearne Mark Lawrence David Anthony Durham Jennifer Bosworth Lev Grossman Michael J. Sullivan Eldon Thompson Shawn Speakman

Bloodfire Quest by Terry Brooks

Tentative Release Date – March 12

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The quest for the long-lost Elfstones has drawn the leader of the Druid order and her followers into the hellish dimension known as the Forbidding, where the most dangerous creatures banished from the Four Lands are imprisoned. Now the hunt for the powerful talismans that can save their world has become a series of great challenges: a desperate search for kidnapped comrades, a relentless battle against unspeakable predators, and a grim race to escape the Forbidding alive. But though freedom is closer than they know, it may come at a terrifying price.

Back in the village of Arborlon, the mystical, sentient tree that maintains the barrier between the Four Lands and the Forbidding is dying. And with each passing day, as the breach between the two worlds grows larger, the threat of the evil eager to spill forth and wreak havoc grows more dire. The only hope lies with a young Druid, faced with a staggering choice: cling to the life she cherishes or combat an army of darkness by making the ultimate sacrifice.

Blood and Bone: A Novel of the Malazan Empire by Ian C. Esslemont

Tentative Release Date – late December ’12 or May ’13 (depends where you read)

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In the western sky the bright emerald banner of the Visitor descends like a portent of annihilation. On the continent of Jacuruku, the Thaumaturgs have mounted yet another expedition to tame the neighboring wild jungle. Yet this is no normal wilderness. It is called Himatan, and it is said to be half of the spirit-realm and half of the earth. And it is said to be ruled by a powerful entity whom some name the Queen of Witches, and some a goddess: the ancient Ardata. Saeng grew up knowing only the rule of the magus Thaumaturgs — but it was the voices out of that land’s forgotten past that she listened to. And when her rulers mount an invasion of the neighboring jungle, those voices send her and her brother on a desperate mission.

To the south, the desert tribes are united by the arrival of a foreign warleader, a veteran commander in battered ashen mail whom his men call, the Grey Ghost. This warleader takes the tribes on a raid like none other, deep into the heart of Thaumaturg lands. While word comes to K’azz, and mercenary company the Crimson Guard, of a contract in Jacuruku. And their employer… none other than Ardata herself.

FBR Cast: 016 – HobbitShmobbit

In our first regular episode of the year we talk about the Hobbit and wish for a better movie.

The Hobbit movie poster.

You can subscribe to our podcast through our RSS Feed or via iTunes. If you have any questions for Joe you can leave them in the comments below, you can email us at blog@fantasybookreview.co.uk, or you can contact us on twitter (@fanboorev, @joshshill and @RyanL1986)

Music
The awesome music you’ll hear at the beginning and end of this podcast is by musician and composer Bart Stoop, who you can find on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bartstoop and on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/bartstoop1991

FBR Cast: 015 – Fantasy Awards for 2012

It’s the start of a new year, so Josh and I look back at some of the most memorable books of 2012 with the help of other reviewers from Fantasy Book Review.

The Long Earth book cover image.

You can subscribe to our podcast through our RSS Feed or via iTunes. If you have any questions for Joe you can leave them in the comments below, you can email us at blog@fantasybookreview.co.uk, or you can contact us on twitter (@fanboorev, @joshshill and @RyanL1986)

Awards
A blog post listing all of the award categories and their nominees is currently being put together by Josh. A link will be provided when the post goes live.

Music
The awesome music you’ll hear at the beginning and end of this podcast is by musician and composer Bart Stoop, who you can find on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bartstoop and on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/bartstoop1991

Discworld & Beyond: A Retrospective Exhibition

Illustrator Paul Kidby, whom we recently featured in our Fantasy Fantasy Artwork series, has a retrospective exhibition of his work coming up at the St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery in Lymington from 18th August to 29th September. The exhibit will feature lots of Discworld illustrations, including the original artwork from some of the covers, and also from Terry Pratchett‘s latest, ‘Dodger’ which is currently number one in the pre-order book charts.

Full details can be found underneath the brilliant Sgt Pepper meets Discworld image below. If you are in and around Hampshire between these dates you must drop in and see the beautiful artwork first-hand.

Image: The Band with Rocks In © Paul Kidby 2012

Paul Kidby – Discworld® & Beyond
A Retrospective Exhibition
18th August – 29th September 2012
St. Barbe Museum & Art Gallery
Open Monday – Saturday, 10.00am – 4.00pm
New Street, Lymington, Hampshire SO41 9BH

T: 01590 676969

Admission to museum and galleries: £4, concessions: £3, child: £2, family: £10

Discworld is the registered trademark of Terry Pratchett

Most Anticipated Books of 2012 – Our Most Anticipated

This is the end of our series. You’ve seen what we thought would be alright – The Rest – and you’ve seen what we thought were the big books hitting this year – 2012s Heavy Weights. But now it’s time for those books that Ryan and Josh are the most excited about, personally. They might be heavyweight authors, they might be newcomers, they might be in that happy-middle somewhere. But these are the books that, when they arrive on the doorstep, Josh and Ryan are going to drop everything they were doing and disappear until the book is done.

So hope on in for Ryan and Josh’s Most Anticipated Fantasy Books of 2012.

Forge of Darkness (Kharkanas Trilogy) by Steven Erikson

There is no cover and no blurb. Unsurprising, really, considering Steven Erikson’s proclivity for secrecy and his writing methods. But we’re expecting to see this book late 2012.

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

It’s the beginning of a new Malazan trilogy, need I say more? I’m a big fan of Erikson’s writing, the writer who dares to structure his epic fantasy differently to norm, and I think we can expect more of the same here. This new trilogy has been set hundreds of thousands of years in the past and will focus heavily on the Tiste Andii and the events that took place leading up to the evacuation/desertion of Kharkanas. I have high expectations for this new trilogy, and I expect Erikson to deliver.

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

I first started reading fantasy by reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It was probably a bad idea, in hindsight, because the first fantasy book I read was also one of the greatest and the result of one of the most breathtakingly extensive world-building exercises you’ll ever encounter. So it’s no surprise that I love Steven Erikson’s work, if for no other reason than the sheer scope and historical range of his work. Thankfully, he can also write a cracking tail, and I can’t wait to read a new series by him.

The Republic of Thieves (The Gentlemen’s Bastards) 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 Bondsmagi.

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 Bondsmagi Sabetha has just one goal – to destroy Locke forever.

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

We have been waiting a long time for this book, and to be honest I’m happy to wait for as long as it takes Scott Lynch to get his life back together, his Gentlemen’s Bastards books are more than worth the wait. Lynch’s private yet well documented fight with depression and panic disorder brought his marriage and his writing to an abrupt halt, but of late Lynch has started venturing back out into the public domain and things are looking up. The Lies of Locke Lamora remains as one of my all time favourite novels, and with Lynch back in the saddle I am very excited to see just how Locke and Jean get off the cliff Lynch hung them on at the end of Red Seas Under Red Skies.

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

This book is tantalizingly out of reach, perpetually pushed back and back. But it is the third book in a series I love more than most, and I am desperate to see what happens to Locke and Jean. And the fact that we finally get to meet Sabetha? Oh Scott Lynch, why do you tease me so?

The Long Earth by Stephen Baxter & Terry Pratchett

1916: the Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landcape of No Man’s Land gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Cop Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of Willis Linsay, a reclusive – some said mad, others dangerous – scientist. It appears to be arson but the firemen to have caused more damage than the fire itself. There’s no sign of any human remains in the wrecked house, but on a mantlepiece Monica finds a curious gadget – a box containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a…potato. It is the prototype of an invention that Linsay called a ‘stepper'; an invention he put up on the web for all the world to see – and use – an invention that would change the way Mankind viewed his world for ever. And that’s an understatement if ever there was one

Because the stepper enables the person using it to step sideways into another America, another wherever that person happened to be, another Earth. And if the person using it keeps on stepping, they keep on entering even more Earths.

This is the Long Earth. It is our Earth – and a chain of parallel Earths, each differing from its neighbour by sometimes very little (or quite a lot). It’s an infinite chain, offering ‘steppers’ an infinite landscape of infinite possibilities. And the further away a stepper travels, the stranger – and sometimes more dangerous – the Earths become. The sun and moon always shine, the basic laws of physics are the same. However, the chance events which have shaped our Earth, such as the dinosaur-killer asteroid impact, might not have happened and things may well have turned out rather differently.

And until Willis Linsay invented his stepper, only our Earth hosted mankind. Or so we thought. Because it turns out there are some people – such as Joshua Valiente – who are natural ‘steppers’, who don’t need a stepper to explore these other Earths. Joshua’s a pioneer, and and the possibilies are, of course, endless. Just be careful what you wish for…

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

Last time Sir Terry Pratchett collaborated with another highly acclaimed author (Neil Gaiman) we got Good Omens. With Pratchett now collaborating with acclaimed sci-fi writer Stephen Baxter, I am truly intrigued about The Long Earth and just what type of story it promises to be. Everything in Sci-fi has been so dark and moody in recent years, it is a genre that is in serious need of a strike to the funny bone that only an author like Pratchett could give.

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

As Ryan said, the last time Pratchett collaborated with another author we got Good Omens, so in reality, there’d be very little stopping me from reading this book. On top of that, the idea behind the book looks good, and evokes in me the loss of what might have been had Tolkien and Lewis managed to collaborate as they had wished. We might not have a Lewis and Tolkien story, but we will have Pratchett and Baxter.

The Red Queen (Obernewtyn Chronicles)

As the long-foreseen Seeker, Elspeth Gordie must continue to walk the black road, still haunted by memories of her love, Rushton. Yet what awaits her at the end of the black road shakens even her, for the lost community of the Compound, is not what it seems. As she struggles against her captors, she learns that her friends, and Rushton, have fallen into the hands of the deadly slavemasters of the Red Land. Moreover, every mistake and delay Elspeth faces in her quest sees the Destroyer closer to realising his goal of reawakening the weaponmachines Elspeth must destroy. Will all the Seeker has sacrificed be in vain?

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

This is it, the end of The Obernewtyn Chronicles. It has been almost 25 years since Obernewtyn was first published, and almost 15 years since Obernewtyn became the first fantasy book I ever read, and I am as excited now as I ever have been. This book has been put off for years and years, with Carmody splitting the final volume of the 5 book series not once, but twice. After everything that happened with The Stone Key, with Carmody sacrificing an entire novel to wrap up every single sub plot and loose end, The Red Queen will be the final volume of the series and I have no doubt it will go out with a bang.

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

I didn’t finish The Sending, Isobelle Carmody’s sixth Obernewtyn Series book. I got halfway through, saw what was happening (and I might have peeked at the end) and realised that, if I kept reading, I would become emotionally numb from having to wait for a resolution to whatever was going to happen. There was too much info-dumping, too much clearing of the proverbial plate. But nevertheless, I had enjoyed what I read, and I do want to see what becomes of Elspeth and her friends. Carmody has written a real gem of a world, and I want to see it to the end.

Ryan’s Personal Favourites

Railsea by China Miéville

Sham Yes ap Soorap, young doctor’s assistant, is in search of life’s purpose aboard a diesel locomotive on the hunt for the great elusive moldywarpe, Mocker-Jack. But on an old train wreck at the outskirts of the world, Sham discovers an astonishing secret that changes everything: evidence of an impossible journey. A journey left unfinished…which Sham takes it on himself to complete. It’s a decision that might cost him his life.

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

Miéville’s stories often polarise the fantasy community with some people finding his stories just a bit too weird. There are few, if any, who would doubt his creative genius and despite finding Embassytown a little hard to get into, I will be first in line to grab a copy of his latest novel, Railsea. Railsea is a near future retelling of Moby Dick, where the ocean setting has been replaced by a desert setting and the boats / white whale has been replaced by trains. If this book is even half as good as it sounds, it will probably end up being one of the books of the year.

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

At the end of THE PASSAGE, the great viral plague had left a small group of survivors clinging to life amidst a world transformed into a nightmare. In the second volume of this epic trilogy, this same group of survivors, led by the mysterious, charismatic Amy, go on the attack, leading an insurrection against the virals: the first offensives of the Second Viral War.

To do this, they must infiltrate a dozen hives, each presided over by one of the original Twelve. Their secret weapon: Alicia, transformed at the end of book one into a half human, half viral – but whose side, in the end, is she really on?

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

The Passage was by far the best book I read in 2010, an outstanding achievement for a debut author. The refreshing take on vampires was executed with a wonderful story and some beautiful prose, making those 870 pages feel more like 300 pages. The Twelve promises to be a great action adventure – the goals have never been clearer for our band of heroes, and now that they know where to find the twelve head vampires it is time to reclaim the earth. It is hard to put in words just how excited I am about this book, and I fully expect it to raise the already high bar established by The Passage.

Demon Squad: Echoes Of The Past by Tim Marquitz

There is very little information for this one, but Marquitz expects it to be released late in December, 2012.

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

The Demon Squad series has been a guilty pleasure of mine for a while now, a series that has grown from strength to strength as Marquitz continues to refine his writing. Each book has been better than the last by quite a margin, and while it’s hard to see how Marquitz will top the war between Heaven and Hell that nearly destroyed the Earth, he tells me that he still has a few big ideas up his sleeves ready to be let loose. What ever these ideas may be, you know it’s going to mean bad news for Frank, the demon stuck in the middle of it all just trying to keep everything in balance so he can watch his porn in peace.

Josh’s Personal Favourites

The Minority Council (Matthew Swift) by Kate Griffin

Matthew Swift, Midnight Mayor, is in charge. And London is having its issues.

The new drug on the market is fairy dust and it turns humans into walking drug labs. Teenage vandals are being hunted by a mystical creature. And criminals are dying by magical means.

If Swift is going to save London from a rising tide of blood, he’s going to have to learn his lessons – and fast.

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

There is no author writing today who has the ability to capture a reader and so successfully and effectively place them into the book. Kate Griffin stunned me with her first book, A Madness of Angels, and only kept on amazing me as I kept on reading. Matthew Swift is easily one of the most intriguing characters I’ve ever had the chance to read, and knowing that I’ll again be able to step into a London I’ve never visited, but still feel as if I’m right there, is a wonder.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue, and her country, were saved from the vicious King Leck. Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea, and her land is at peace. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisers, who have run the country on her behalf since Leck’s death, believe in a forward-thinking plan: to pardon all of those who committed terrible acts during Leck’s reign; and to forget every dark event that ever happened. Monsea’s past has become shrouded in mystery, and it’s only when Bitterblue begins sneaking out of her castle – curious, disguised and alone – to walk the streets of her own city, that she begins to realise the truth. Her kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year long spell of a madman, and now their only chance to move forward is to revisit the past. Whatever that past holds. Two thieves, who have sworn only to steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, who possesses an unidentified Grace, may also hold a key to her heart

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

Kristin Cashore has managed to enchant and captivate me with her two previous books, Graceling and Fire. There is something utterly magical about her writing and the strong and beautiful women she writes. Each time I am asked to pick a favourite book, these may not enter into the top 5, but they are always on my mind as books that I have enjoyed more than most.

Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

A WHOLE NEW REASON TO MIND THE GAP It begins with a dead body at the far end of Baker Street tube station, all that remains of American exchange student James Gallagher–and the victim’s wealthy, politically powerful family is understandably eager to get to the bottom of the gruesome murder. The trouble is, the bottom–if it exists at all–is deeper and more unnatural than anyone suspects . . . except, that is, for London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant. With Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, tied up in the hunt for the rogue magician known as the Faceless Man, it’s up to Peter to plumb the haunted depths of the oldest, largest, and–as of now–deadliest subway system in the world. At least he won’t be alone. No, the FBI has sent over a crack agent to help. She’s young, ambitious, beautiful . . . and a born-again Christian apt to view any magic as the work of the devil. Oh yeah– that’s going to go well.

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

After reading Katherine Griffin, I wanted more urban-magic on the streets of England. I got it with Ben Aaronovitch. While not as polished a writer as Griffin, Aaronovitch provides me with that fix I need, while still being a wonderful storyteller. Following the life of England’s only sorcerer’s apprentice is fun, especially in the modern-day context that we get to see him in. Really wonderful reading.

The World Book Night top 100 books to read, give and share

An image of the front cover of the Pullitzer Prize winning book, To Kill A MockingbirdThe folks over at World Book Night – www.worldbooknight.org – asked readers to nominate the 10 books they most love to read, give and share. Over 6,000 people nominated more than 8,000 titles and the top 100 are displayed below.

I am pleased to say that I have read 22 of the listed titles and have many others on my shelves ready to read. I was shocked to realise that I still haven’t read Dune, The Lovely Bones and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle despite having owned them for so long – this must be remedied.

I was also pleased to see Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell on there. As you can see from the reader reviews on this site not all were as smitten by it as me but I still think it is one of the best books I have read over the past decade (not for the casual reader though).

I would happily read every book on this list:

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  3. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  4. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  5. The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
  6. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
  7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  8. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
  9. Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier
  10. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
  11. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
  12. A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
  13. Harry Potter Adult Hardback Boxed Set, JK Rowling
  14. The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  15. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
  16. One Day, David Nicholls
  17. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
  18. The Help, Kathryn Stockett
  19. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
  20. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  21. The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks
  22. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
  23. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
  24. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  25. Little Women, Louisa M. Alcott
  26. Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
  27. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
  28. Atonement, Ian McEwan
  29. Room, Emma Donoghue
  30. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
  31. We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver
  32. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
  33. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis De Bernieres
  34. The Island, Victoria Hislop
  35. Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
  36. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
  37. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
  38. Chocolat, Joanne Harris
  39. Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
  40. The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom
  41. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  42. Animal Farm, George Orwell
  43. The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
  44. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
  45. Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
  46. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  47. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
  48. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
  49. Life of Pi, Yann Martel
  50. The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  51. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  52. Dracula, Bram Stoker
  53. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  54. Small Island, Andrea Levy
  55. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  56. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  57. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  58. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
  59. Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson
  60. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  61. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
  62. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  63. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Mark Haddon
  64. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
  65. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
  66. My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult
  67. The Stand, Stephen King
  68. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
  69. The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
  70. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  71. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  72. Frankenstein, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  73. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer
  74. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
  75. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  76. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
  77. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
  78. The Princess Bride, William Goldman
  79. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  80. Perfume, Patrick Suskind
  81. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  82. The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
  83. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  84. Dune, Frank Herbert
  85. Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
  86. Stardust, Neil Gaiman
  87. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  88. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
  89. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
  90. Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts
  91. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
  92. Possession: A Romance, A. S. Byatt
  93. Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin
  94. Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami
  95. The Magus, John Fowles
  96. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne
  97. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
  98. Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
  99. Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
  100. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami

Top 10 fantasy audio-book downloads (February 2011)

Below is a list of the top 10 science fiction and fantasy audio-books downloaded on www.audible.co.uk during February 2011.

  1. A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness (Unabridged)
    A Discovery of Witches audio book cover image An epic, richly inventive, historically sweeping, magical romance. When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years: one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons, and long-lived vampires. Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire genticist. Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels….
  2. I Am Number Four, Pittacus Lore (Unabridged)
    John Smith is not your average teenager. He regularly moves from small town to small town. He changes his name and identity. He does not put down roots. He cannot tell anyone who or what he really is. If he stops moving those who hunt him will find and kill him. But you can’t run forever. So when he stops in Paradise, Ohio, John decides to try and settle down. To fit in. And for the first time he makes some real friends. People he cares about – and who care about him. Never in John’s short life has there been space for friendship, or even love. But it’s just a matter of time before John’s secret is revealed. He was once one of nine. Three of them have been killed. John is Number Four. He knows that he is next…
  3. The Heroes, Joe Abercrombie (Unabridged)
    They say Black Dow’s killed more men than winter, and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbour, is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. The orders have been given and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they’ve brought a lot of sharpened metal with them. Over three bloody days of battle, the fate of the North will be decided. But with both sides riddled by intrigues, follies, feuds and petty jealousies, it is unlikely to be the noblest hearts or even the strongest arms that prevail. Three men. One battle. No Heroes.
  4. I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett (Unabridged)
    Tiffany Aching, the young witch from The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, and Wintersmith is back in a new adventure featuring Discworld characters both familiar to fans (such as Tiffany, the Wee Free Men, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg) and new (meet Wee Mad Arthur, the Nac Mac Feegle on the City Watch whose only previous appearance was a brief cameo in Feet of Clay, and city witch Mrs Proust – a fabulous Pratchett creation). Oh, and there’s a magic book or two, a twist through time, a Cunning Man – and a Giant Man of chalk….
  5. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke (Unabridged)
    English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory. But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr. Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England’s magical past and regained some of the powers of England’s magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French. All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative, the very opposite of Mr. Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington’s army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr. Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different… Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke’s magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that 32 hours leave readers longing for more.
  6. Bearers of the Black Staff: Legends of Shannara, Book 1, Terry Brooks (Unabridged)
    Book One of The Legends of Shannara. Five hundred years have passed since the war that almost exterminated humankind. But now the cocoon of protective magic surrounding the valley has vanished. When Sider Ament, last surviving Knight of the Word, detects unknown predators stalking the valley, and Trackers find two of their own gruesomely killed, there can be no doubt: the once safe haven of generations has been laid bare…
  7. Dune, Frank Herbert (Unabridged)
    Here is the novel that will be forever considered a triumph of the imagination. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, who would become the mysterious man known as Maud’dib. He would avenge the traitorous plot against his noble family and would bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream. A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.
  8. Consider Phlebas: Culture Series, Book 1, Iain M Banks (Unabridged)
    The first Culture novel, now available as an unabridged audio download. The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction – cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender. Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.
  9. The Blade Itself: The First Law: Book One, Joe Abercrombie (Unabridged)
    Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer, is trapped in a twisted and broken body – not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers. Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain and shallow, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men. And Logen Ninefingers, an infamous warrior with a bloody past, is about to wake up with plans to settle a blood feud with Bethod, the new King of the Northmen, once and for all – ideally by running away from it. But as he’s discovering, old habits die hard …… especially when Bayaz gets involved. An old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he’s about to make the lives of Glotka, Jezal and Logen a whole lot more difficult . . .
  10. The Passage, Justin Cronin (Unabridged)
    Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old, and her mother thinks she’s the most important person in the whole world. She is…. Anthony Carter doesn’t think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row…. He’s wrong. FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming…. It is. The Passage. Deep in the jungles of eastern Colombia, Professor Jonas Lear has finally found what he’s been searching for – and wishes to God he hadn’t. In Memphis, Tennessee, a six-year-old girl called Amy is left at the convent of the Sisters of Mercy and wonders why her mother has abandoned her. In a maximum security jail in Nevada, a convicted murderer called Giles Babcock has the same strange nightmare, over and over again, while he waits for a lethal injection. In a remote community in the California mountains, a young man called Peter waits for his beloved brother to return home – so he can kill him. Bound together in ways they cannot comprehend, for each of them a door is about to open into a future they could not have imagined. And a journey is about to begin. An epic journey that will take them through a world transformed by man’s darkest dreams, to the very heart of what it means to be human. And beyond. The Passage.