Best selling fantasy books, May 2014

A look at the 20 most popular fantasy books this month, based on Amazon UK sales figures.

At a glance:

  • 16/20 of the books listed are Kindle Editions
  • 10/20 are from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series
  • 01/20 is an Audio Edition
  1. Dawn of Swords by David Dalglish
    Dawn of Swords by David Daglish book cover imageOn the young world of Dezrel, brother gods Karak and Ashhur, fleeing their own failed world, recreate mankind in an attempt to make amends. The fledgling race of humanity is guided by the First Families, men and women who will not age so long as their hearts remain devoted to their deities. But quickly the realms are thrown into chaos by the construction of the Temple of the Flesh, built by exiled children of Karak in the unclaimed land of Haven that lies between the two kingdoms. Those of the Temple refuse to bend knee to either god, no matter the risk. Thus comes Karak’s ultimatum to the people of Haven: destroy the Temple, or he will destroy it himself. But his fellow brother god, Ashhur, will not sit idly by while thousands of innocents die… Can Jacob Eveningstar, the First Man to be given life and Ashhur’s most trusted servant, prevent the coming bloodshed which threatens the survival of the fledgling human race?
    Kindle Edition
  2. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
    Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne.
    Kindle Edition
  3. King’s by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
    “I am the man who can find anything or anyone. For a price. And my price is you.” When Mia Turner’s brother goes missing in Mexico, while on an archaeological dig, she believes that life couldn’t get much worse. But when she’s blocked at every turn from finding answers, by both local and U.S. authorities, she must turn to a man she swears is the devil. Others might be fooled by his private jet, fine tailored suits, and disarming smile, but Mia knows something dark, sinister, and unnatural lurks behind those penetrating, pale-gray eyes. And the more she learns, the more she realizes she may never be free again.
    Kindle Edition
  4. A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
    Throughout Westeros, the cold winds are rising. From the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding lands of Winterfell, chaos reigns as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms stake their claims through tempest, turmoil and war. As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky – a comet the colour of blood and flame – five factions struggle for control of a divided land. Brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Against a backdrop of incest, fratricide, alchemy and murder, the price of glory is measured in blood.
    Kindle Edition
  5. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
    Darkness has descended on the Shadowhunter world. Chaos and destruction overwhelm the Nephilim as Clary, Jace, Simon, and their friends band together to fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in this world can defeat Sebastian – but if they journey to the realm of demons, they just might have a chance… Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world will change.
    Kindle Edition
  6. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
    Paperback
  7. King for a Day by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
    King isn’t who she thought. She wasn’t even close… When Mia Turner’s life becomes tethered to a mysterious billionaire, who she swears is the devil himself, she knows she must break free. It doesn’t matter if everything about him—those sinful lips, those pale gray eyes, that perfect male body—keeps her awake at night. He’s evil. She has to get away. But when this man, known simply as King, suddenly disappears, Mia will discover she’s not home free. Because without King, she’s no longer safe from his ruthless, depraved, power-hungry social circle. To survive, Mia will have to conceal King’s absence and walk a mile in the evil man’s twisted, cruel shoes. What she discovers will leave her more terrified and her heart more conflicted than she ever imagined. King is not who she thought. She wasn’t even close.
    Kindle Edition
  8. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
    The Lannisters are in power on the Iron Throne. The war in the Seven Kingdoms has burned itself out, but in its bitter aftermath new conflicts spark to life. The Martells of Dorne and the Starks of Winterfell seek vengeance for their dead. Euron Crow’s Eye, as black a pirate as ever raised a sail, returns from the smoking ruins of Valyria to claim the Iron Isles. From the icy north, where Others threaten the Wall, apprentice Maester Samwell Tarly brings a mysterious babe in arms to the Citadel. As plots, intrigue and battle threaten to engulf Westeros, victory will go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel and the coldest hearts.
    Kindle Edition
  9. Family by Robert J. Crane
    Just hours after finding Andromeda and crossing paths with her mother, Sienna Nealon finds herself up against a bigger threat than ever before. Omega, the organization that unleashed Wolfe and others upon her, has declared war on the Directorate and the first strikes have already landed. Facing the seemingly unstoppable forces of Omega and Sienna’s own mother, the Directorate seems poised for defeat when a new threat rears its ugly head – a traitor in their midst, one that may mean the destruction of everything Sienna has come to care about.
    Kindle Edition
  10. A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust by George R. R. Martin
    In the aftermath of a colossal battle, new threats are emerging from every direction. Tyrion Lannister, having killed his father, and wrongfully accused of killing his nephew, King Joffrey, has escaped from King’s Landing with a price on his head. To the north lies the great Wall of ice and stone – a structure only as strong as those guarding it. Eddard Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow has been elected 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. But Jon has enemies both inside and beyond the Wall. And in the east Daenerys Targaryen struggles to hold a city built on dreams and dust.
    Kindle Edition
  11. A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow by George R. R. Martin
    Winter approaches Westeros like an angry beast. The Seven Kingdoms are divided by revolt and blood feud. In the northern wastes, a horde of hungry, savage people steeped in the dark magic of the wilderness is poised to invade the Kingdom of the North where Robb Stark wears his new-forged crown. And Robb’s defences are ranged against the South, the land of the cunning and cruel Lannisters, who have his younger sisters in their power. Throughout Westeros, the war for the Iron Throne rages more fiercely than ever, but if the Wall is breached, no king will live to claim it.
    Kindle Edition
  12. Beowulf by J. R. R. Tolkien
    The translation of Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien was an early work, very distinctive in its mode, completed in 1926: he returned to it later to make hasty corrections, but seems never to have considered its publication. This edition is twofold, for there exists an illuminating commentary on the text of the poem by the translator himself, in the written form of a series of lectures given at Oxford in the 1930s; and from these lectures a substantial selection has been made, to form also a commentary on the translation in this book. From his creative attention to detail in these lectures there arises a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision. It is as if he entered into the imagined past: standing beside Beowulf and his men shaking out their mail-shirts as they beached their ship on the coast of Denmark, listening to the rising anger of Beowulf at the taunting of Unferth, or looking up in amazement at Grendel’s terrible hand set under the roof of Heorot.
    Hardcover
  13. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
    Audio Download
  14. Omega by Robert J. Crane
    Omega – a shadowy organization that is synonymous with power in the metahuman world. They have hunted Sienna Nealon since the day she first left her house, have killed countless Directorate agents and operatives, and now they unveil their greatest plot – Operation Stanchion, a mysterious phrase let slip by an Omega operative in the midst of a battle. Now Sienna must track the pieces Omega has in motion to confront her enemy before they can land their final stroke – and bring an end to the Directorate forever.
    Kindle Edition
  15. A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast by George R. R. Martin
    The future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance. In King’s Landing the Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister, awaits trial, abandoned by all those she trusted; while in the eastern city of Yunkai her brother Tyrion has been sold as a slave. From the Wall, having left his wife and the Red Priestess Melisandre under the protection of Jon Snow, Stannis Baratheon marches south to confront the Boltons at Winterfell. But beyond the Wall the wildling armies are massing for an assault… On all sides bitter conflicts are reigniting, played out by a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves. The tides of destiny will inevitably lead to the greatest dance of all.
    Kindle Edition
  16. Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan
    In 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. Elsewhere, in a land ruled by the priests, Rielle the dyer’s daughter has been taught that to use magic is to steal from the Angels. Yet she knows she has a talent for it, and that there is a corrupter in the city willing to teach her how to use it – should she dare to risk the Angels’ wrath. But not everything is as Tyen and Rielle have been raised to believe. Not the nature of magic, nor the laws of their lands. Not even the people they trust.
    Kindle Edition
  17. A Dance with Dragons: Dreams and Dust by George R. R. Martin
    Paperback
  18. A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold by George R. R. Martin
    The Starks are scattered. Robb Stark may be King in the North, but he must bend to the will of the old tyrant Walder Frey if he is to hold his crown. And while his youngest sister, Arya, has escaped the clutches of the depraved Cersei Lannister and her son, the capricious boy-king Joffrey, Sansa Stark remains their captive. Meanwhile, across the ocean, Daenerys Stormborn, the last heir of the Dragon King, delivers death to the slave-trading cities of Astapor and Yunkai as she approaches Westeros with vengeance in her heart.
    Kindle Edition
  19. The Legend of Ellie Quinn by Alex Scarrow
    Ellie Quin’s just a normal young woman. Bored with her life on a remote farm, staring up at the stars at night and wishing she was far away on another more exciting world. She thought she was normal. Turns out she was wrong. It turns out she’s the most valuable, the most dangerous, the most hunted-for human in the universe… and there are people already closing in on her.
    Kindle Edition
  20. Destiny by Robert J. Crane
    In the aftermath of her confrontation with Sovereign, Sienna Nealon finds herself low on allies. The organization Century continues their genocide of the entire race of metahumans unchecked, working toward an ultimate goal that they have yet to reveal. Sienna must race to find the answers before it’s too late, because Century’s final attacks are beginning…and if Sienna and her allies fall, there will be no one left to stop them.
    Kindle Edition

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.

Most anticipated books of 2011 – part 2

This is the second part in a three part post which will look at the most anticipated books for 2011. Vague Release Date Books, Random Other Books of 2011 and My Most Anticipated Books of 2011. Enjoy. – Josh

Random other books of 2011

Eona by Alison Goodman
eona The second book of the Eon duology

Release Date: April 2011

I have heard a lot of good things about Alison Goodman, a fellow Australian, though I haven’t had the chance to read her. Maybe with the release of Eona I will get stuck in, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Where there is power, there is betrayal…

Once she was Eon, a girl disguised as a boy, risking her life for the chance to become a Dragoneye apprentice. Now she is is Eona, the Mirror Dragoneye, her country’s saviour—but she has an even more dangerous secret.

She cannot control her power.

Each time she tries to bond with her Mirror Dragon, she becomes a conduit for the ten spirit dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered by Lord Ido. Their anguish floods through her, twisting her ability into a killing force, destroying the land and its people.

And another force of destruction is on her trail.

Along with Ryko and Lady Dela, Eona is on the run from High Lord Sethon’s army. The renegades must find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona’s power if he is to wrest back his throne from Sethon. But if Eona is to help Kygo, she must drive a dark bargain with an old enemy that could obliterate them all.

The Rogue by Trudi Canavan
Image: The Rogue book cover
Book 2 of the Traitor Spy Trilogy

Release date: 5th May 2011

I do enjoy it when a new Canavan book makes it my way, so I can’t wait for The Rogue to get to me so that I can continue what has turned out to be a surprisingly great series.

Living among the Sachakan rebels, Lorkin does his best to learn about them and their unique magic. But the Traitors are reluctant to trade their knowledge for the Healing they so desperately want, and while he assumes they fear revealing their existence to the world, there are hints they have bigger plans.

Sonea searches for the rogue, knowing that Cery cannot avoid assassination forever, but the rouge’s influence over the city’s underworld is far greater than she feared. His only weakness is the loss of his mother, now locked away in the Lookout.

In Sachaka, Dannyl has lost the respect of the Sachakan elite for letting Lorkin join the Traitors. The Ashaki’s attention has shifted, instead, to the new Elyne Ambassador, a man Dannyl knows all too well.

And in the University, two female novices are about to remind the Guild that sometimes their greatest enemy is found within.

A Kingdom Besieged by Raymond E Feist
Image: A Kingdom Beseiged book cover
Release Date: March 2011

I’m a bit behind on my Feist reading, trying to make my way through both the The Empire Trilogy and the Krondor’s Sons duology. However once I do get past them, and into the more mainstream of his books, I hope that one day I’ll manage to get to this one and really enjoy it.

The first book of the last ever Midkemian trilogy by worldwide bestselling fantasy author, Raymond E. Feist … a historic moment for fans. The riftwars – including the original Riftwar, the Serpentwar, the Darkwar, and the Demonwar – were epic battles between Good and Evil whose ramifications have echoed through generations. This new entry to the epic, A Kingdom Besieged, ushers in the most fearsome threat the kingdom has yet facecd – the Chaoswar – a major cataclysm involving a magic apocalypse that will force Pug, now the most powerful magician in all of Midkemia, to question everything he’s ever held true and dear… including the loyalty and desires of his beloved son Magnus.Will prophecy become truth? Is the original Black Magician fated to watch everyone he loves die before him? Does anyone survive the Chaoswar – the last ever chapter of Midkemian history?

The Undivided by Jennifer Fallon
Release Date: April 2011

I love Jennifer Fallon, but I’ve never been in a state where I could move past the first of her Tide Lords series. I will, one day, but in the meantime, maybe I’ll be able to get stuck into The Undivided, the first of a new trilogy of books called the Rift Runners.

An exciting new, contemporary fantasy … spanning different realities and alternate worlds, The Undivided takes us into the heart of family, loyalty and the choice between good and evil.

The Undivided are divided. The psychic twins, Ronan and Darragh, have been separated by the traitor Druid, Amergin, who has thrown Ronan through a rift into another reality. Now time is running out for Darragh. If Ronan isn’t found soon, they will both die.

Meanwhile, Ren Kavanagh has no notion of where he comes from and is plagued by mysterious injuries. Then he meets the enticing and mysterious Trasa, and before he can figure out how it happened, he is in serious trouble …

Ren’s life is about to become more bizarre and dangerous than he could ever have imagined.

The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind
Release Date: August 2011

An author I haven’t read much of, but have heard lots about, Goodkind is surely set to garner some attention with this new book.

A fabulous new fantasy epic from a master of the genre …

An accident leads to the discovery of a mysterious machine that has rested hidden deep underground for countless millennia. The machine awakens to begin issuing a series of increasingly alarming, if minor, omens. The omens turn out to be astonishingly accurate, and ever more ominous.

As Zedd tries to figure out how to destroy the sinister device, the machine issues a cataclysmic omen involving Richard and Kahlan, foretelling an impending event beyond anyone’s ability to stop. As catastrophe approaches, the machine then reveals that it is within its power to withdraw the omen … In exchange for an impossible demand.

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
Image: The Heroes book cover
Release Date: February 2011

Abercrombie is another author that I’ve gotten stuck on, not being able to move past the first book in his The First Law trilogy, but another author that I will one day give my whole and undivided attention to.

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.

Bremer dan Gorst, disgraced master swordsman, has sworn to reclaim his stolen honour on the battlefield. Obsessed with redemption and addicted to violence, he’s far past caring how much blood gets spilled in the attempt. Even if it’s his own.

Prince Calder isn’t interested in honour, and still less in getting himself killed. All he wants is power, and he’ll tell any lie, use any trick, and betray any friend to get it. Just as long as he doesn’t have to fight for it himself.

Curnden Craw, the last honest man in the North, has gained nothing from a life of warfare but swollen knees and frayed nerves. He hardly even cares who wins any more, he just wants to do the right thing. But can he even tell what that is with the world burning down around him?

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.

The River of Shadows by Robert von Stein Redick
Image: The River of Shadows book cover Release Date: April 19, 2011

I read the first book in Redick’s The Red Wolf Conspiracy series, and loved it. I’m sure I’ll enjoy the second, and now the third, books just as much.

The latest novel in Robert V.S Redick’s stunning and original fantasy epic is a taut race against time that takes the Chathrand across the seas in a desperate bid to stop the sorcer Arunis unleashing the Swarm of Night… From the mysterious River of Shadows to the Infernal Forest, to the Island Wilderness Pazel and his companions face a phatasmogoric journey through altered realities, a nightmare journey which offers glimpses of what might have been while taking them into the terror of what is to come. Will Arunis use the cursed Nilstone to end the world? This is a rich fantasy of nightmares and unexpected beauty and is proof positive that Redick is one of the most exciting new talents in fantasy.

The Use of Language in Fantasy Novels

I sat down last night and picked up ‘The Blood Knight’, the third in Greg Keyes’ The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series. I finished the second book, ‘The Charnel Prince’ maybe a month or two ago and promptly found myself without the third (and fourth) to continue on with. The order from a certain online store had yet to arrive and was already about three months late.

Months passed, other books were read, a few weeks went by without me reading any fantasy at all (though I did start in on Dewey: The Small Town Cat Who Touched The World, which I’m loving as I pick it up every now and again).

Finally the third and fourth books in Keyes’ series arrived and went onto the shelf next to book one and two. I was looking forward to it, but I had a few other books that had arrived as well, including three books by Joe Abercrombie and Trudi Canavan’s next book. So I didn’t really know when I was going to get to read Keyes, as I suspected the others – new books from publishers rather than purchased and old – would get preferential treatment.

I was wrong, and I’m probably about halfway through The Blood Knight.

And I’m loving it!

I really love Greg Keyes work. From a simple story point of view, it’s great. The general concept is unlike anything I’ve ever read, as it isn’t just a “usurper stole the crown” story or a “there are monsters in the land” story. In fact there are about five different “stories” in here that all intertwine and rely upon one another. The characters are fully realized and fleshed out, tangible and very ‘able: which is to say either likeable or hateable.

I’ll say more about the story in reviews, that’s for certain, but I wanted to touch on something that Keyes does, I think, remarkably well.

Many fantasy authors – myself included – spend a lot of time working out different languages and sources for their languages. You don’t want a book that all of a sudden has a Julius walking into the scene or someone entering a Coliseum; it’s too close to home, too close to reality. Fantasy books are supposed to be just that, fantasy, and that means that they need to take you away from the reality you’re in. One of the methods used to do this is to use different words for commonplace things and peoples names.

Some people succeed, others fail. I’ll get into who else does either at some later date.

For now, let’s just look at how well Keyes does it.

And he does do it well. Very well I think.

Within the novel Keyes’ characters travel through and encounter a variety of different cultures. Some live right next door to each other, and some are across seas. Some are related to one another and others are not. But in every instance, with every new culture introduced, there is a modification or variation on the language. Some of them bear striking resemblance to the “common” tongue (ie, the written word on paper for our reading eyes) while others are substantially removed. Oftentimes the older the reference made the farther removed from the “common” tongue it is, though there are several instances where the native tongue of someone our protagonists come across is indecipherable, saved only by context and/or explanation.

I have just finished reading a scene tonight where Anne Dare meets a native of a particular area whose language is similar, but just a little off from hers. Words like “welcome” are closely written but maybe off by a letter or two, and the way in which the sentences are structured are clumsy by common standards.

But this only makes it more impressive because behind the clumsiness is a certain grace that you can see exists within the natives language but that is lost in translation. Keyes somehow manages to imprint the lilting music of another language without us even hearing it, let alone understanding it.

More than the simple usage of different words (that are either italicized or not) to separate different cultures from our protagonists cultures, but the lead characters have different phrases for commonalities in our world. For example a nightmare is known as a Black Mary, and is frequently used as such with no hesitation. It is not a once off thing but just the way that the people speak. ‘They wake up from a bad dream and they want to cast off the lingering touch of the Black Mary,’ or something like that.

And these changes – both language wise and phrase wise – are beautifully interwoven into a story that is as much dependant on these changes as the changes are dependant on the story.

The differences between the common tongue and other tongues and historical tongues are integral to unravelling what is going to happen, revealing mysteries to the reader at the right time and creating moments of “ah ha” for the characters. One character is important almost solely for his ability to understand multiple languages both past and present. That takes a lot of guts to create a character like that, who is essentially a scholar without any of the Indiana Jones-esque abilities.

So I’d suggest that if you are at all interested in languages (or well written fantasy) than these books are for you.

Charlotte Naylor joins John Jarrold Literary Agency

John Jarrold’s latest client is British fantasy writer Charlotte Naylor, who is planning a fantasy series that will appeal to readers of Trudi Canavan, Kristin Cashore and Maria V Snyder, opening with The Lady of Eslaya.

‘When I read the opening chapters, I was entranced by the immediacy and fluency of Charlotte’s prose and her young protagonist, Lily,’ said John Jarrold. ‘It reminded me of my reaction to Maggie Furey’s debut Aurian, which I acquired for Random House in the 1990s. I wanted to cheer her and shout at her at one and the same time (and occasionally give her a clip round the ear). She’s bolshy, intelligent and hugely loyal to her friends. And her story is wonderful! It’s great to see another young writer in this genre.’

Jarrold will be working editorially with the author before submitting her work to major publishers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Charlotte Naylor is twenty four years old. She has always been a keen reader of fantasy and started writing her own novels when she was thirteen. Over the years both the world and the stories have grown and developed. When she was eighteen, and back to writing the umpteenth new incarnation of The Lady of Eslaya, it suddenly started to fall into place.

Throughout her pre-university writing career Charlotte was part of an online writing group, working on what started out as a role playing game but turned into a giant, ongoing story. Members of the group took it in turns to write sections, exploring different ideas, writing styles and influences.

She did a BA hons degree in English at the University of Lincoln, where her creative writing dissertation won the Nigel Winn memorial award for ‘Best Piece of Creative Writing by a Student Studying English’. She went on to do a Masters degree in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University tutored by novelists Graham Joyce (who suggested she contact John Jarrold as a literary agent) and David Belbin, for which she was awarded a distinction.

After graduating from Trent she and others from the course formed a writers group which still meets up regularly to critique their work. She lives in Nottingham with her partner and two pet ferrets.