Before I talk about Jim C. Hines’ newest novel Libriomancer, I wanted to briefly address his recent decision to withdraw from a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session with the Fantasy Subreddit community. The Fantasy Subreddit is made up of nearly 18,000 highly engaged readers. It’s a wide ranging group of fans, some of a more literary bent and some Sandercrombiefuss fanboys of the highest order. I’ve been a member for a few months now and I’ve really enjoyed my experience there.
Hines backed out of his AMA when a thread, in an unrelated Subreddit, came to his attention. The thread was providing a forum for rapists to discuss their crime. It’s a disturbing series of comments. So many comments when I can’t imagine anyone being interested in reading it. In that way, I support Hines’ decision; he’s long been an advocate for the awareness of violence against women. His decision regarding the AMA is wholly consistent with his position.… Read the rest
They say curiosity killed the cat. In this case, curiosity killed the tiny little part of me that still believed in humanity. That might be a little dramatic, but who doesn’t love a little drama?
I recently visited eBay on a hunch. A few weeks back there were a metric shit-ton (that’s a legit measurement) of books handed out to bloggers, booksellers, and readers at Book Expo America (BEA). One in particular caught my interest – The Twelve, Justin Cronin’s follow-up to the bestselling The Passage. I knew I probably wouldn’t get a review copy from Random House since Cronin (obviously) doesn’t need my help to get the word out. Given my interest, and the hordes of readers that made The Passage a New York Times Bestseller, I wondered if any of those free copies would show up on eBay.
The answer, of course, is yes. That alone doesn’t shock or disturb me.… Read the rest
For the last fourteen days this blog has been turned over to ten of the best debut authors 2011 (and one 2012) had to offer. I was honored to have them here, not only because I didn’t have to write a post myself for two weeks, but because I believe supporting debut writers is the only sure pathway to continued growth in the field. Promoting and buying debut authors is how readers signal to publishers that they should continue to take risks on the unknown. I hope this event has been productive in that regard.
It’s also been an enlightening experience. Too often, as a reader, it’s easy to forget the blood, sweat, and tears that go into the creating works that are often devoured in a few days time. When a novel’s done, it flows so effortlessly it becomes hard to imagine it any other way. I think Douglas Hulick’s post illustrated that even authors fall into the trap of believing that’s how it should always be.… Read the rest
Bringing up the rear, is Douglas Hulick, author of one of the most exciting novels of 2011, Among Thieves. I bought the novel electronically. After reading it, I was stunned to learn that it was limited to a mass market paperback. Similar to 2012 debut author Myke Cole’s Control Point (also an Ace/Roc mass market paperback), Among Thieves became a success due almost entirely to word of mouth as opposed to the big-six marketing machine.
Hulick’s novel adds a new chapter to the thief subgenre and it stands out as the best thing to happen to it since Scott Lynch’s masterpiece, The Lies of Locke Lamora. It’s also unique in the characterization of Drothe, Hulick’s protagonist and narrator. Namely, he’s not special. The result is a character that the reader can identify with in a personal way even while he accomplishes things way outside the purview of his natural ability.
… Read the rest
THE MERCHANT OF DREAMS
by Anne Lyle
Mal leant over the ship’s rail, scanning the shore for any sign of a wreck. The mistral had swept the sky bare, leaving the coast etched in hard lines by the cold clear light of a January morn.
“There,” he said at last, pointing to a dark shape on the beach.
Coby joined him at the rail. “Are you sure it’s the skrayling carrack, sir? Those timbers could belong to any ship.”
“You still don’t believe me.”
“I—‘ Her head drooped, expression hidden by the hood of her cloak. “It’s been more than a year, sir. I thought…I thought all that was over.”
It’ll never be over, he wanted to tell her. Not whilst I have this thing inside me.
The ship tacked westwards, closer to the white sands. A rocky headland loomed to their left, the prevailing winds threatening to dash them onto its rocks as it had the ship they sought.… Read the rest
As far as covers go, there’s one style that’s nearly guaranteed to do well in the fantasy world and Anne Lyle’s debut novel, The Alchemist of Souls, nailed it. Intensely character driven, with a hint of action and a dash of mystery, it sent all the right signals to readers. Even better, Lyle completely delivered on that promise with an excellently paced historical fantasy full of plot twists.
With a cross-dressing female, several gay men, and a Catholic, Lyle’s characters are all poorly suited to surviving life in Elizabethan England. Lyle does an incredible job of merging these progressive characters with the setting, never making them feel anachronistic (can people be anachronistic?). They’re also just a ton of fun to read about too, making Alchemist of Souls my favorite Angry Robot novel since Zoo City.
All the way from the Cambridge, Anne Lyle…
In spring 2011 I signed a contract with Angry Robot for a historical fantasy trilogy, having submitted a finished manuscript of one book, The Alchemist of Souls, and the synopsis for a second.
… Read the rest
THE STRAITS OF GALAHESH
By Bradley P. Beaulieu
The akhoz galloped more than ran, their long limbs loping over the ground faster than it appeared they could. Their lips were drawn back, their dark tongues hidden behind blackened teeth, making them appear vengeful and ravenous.
Nasim’s sandals scraped over the ancient stone. His nerves willed him to flee. But he would not. This girl, this very girl, was the first of the akhoz. There was little that remained of Yadhan, but he recognized her by the shape and tilt of her head, her delicate features, and the small scar at the nape of her neck.
And he’d also felt in his memories that a connection had been made to each of the akhoz that Khamal had created. In the nights that followed, Khamal had gone on to perform the ritual again and again, sacrificing more and more children to the grisly fate that awaited them.… Read the rest
I tried to read Winds of Khalakovo three times before it finally hooked me. I figure that was for two reasons. One, I tried reading the trade paperback first, and that damn thing was more akin to Clue murder weapon than novel. Being a big “in bed” reader, it wasn’t easy to hold up. Once I made the switch to the electronic version, I was able to really tuck into it. Second, Beaulieu doesn’t take a lot of time to ease the reader into things, jumping quickly into the main narrative.
All that goes to say that Winds takes some investment, both of time and mental capacity. It’s an investment well worth making. In my review I called it the merging of Russian literary tradition with the epic fantasy, making it unique in a field often characterized by its sameness.
Coasting in on a airship of his own making, Bradley P.
… Read the rest
By Mazarkis Williams
Thrashing churned the water, white foam, tinged brown with river mud. Grada knelt on a broad stone bedded in the shoreline, her arms elbow deep, wringing as she had wrung out the robes of the wealthy many times before.
Muscles bunched across her shoulders. Jenna had always said she was strong. Ox-strong, head-strong.
Further out the river slid past, green-brown, placid. Somewhere a widderil called out its three-note song with all its heart.
They had come from the thickness of the pomegranate grove, two of them sticky with sweat, laying down their pruning hooks as they saw her. Both of them old enough for wives, young enough for wickedness, stripped to loincloth and sandals, white-orange blossom from the second crop clinging to their chests and arms. The men had angled Grada’s way as she walked in the shade at the margins, where trees gave way to the river road.… Read the rest