Thursday, December 31, 2009
May your starts be action packed!
May your endings be the most surprising!
May your protagonists stay with your for years to come!
May your books be remembered forever!
I wish you all the best for the year 2010 and an excellent start.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
First, let's start with the real excuse behind this post. I mean, a post that talks about upcoming reviews rather than the reviews themselves is a bit strange, I admit. However I'll be on holidays before the end of the week and I have to finish the project that I'm working on. So far, this has meant working very hard including the last two weekends and late nights.
Anyway, I have my review notes on three books that I really liked. I just need the time to go through them to organize my thoughts:
- Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson
- Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover
- Transformation by Carol Berg
- Tyrant's Blood by Fiona McIntosh
- Songs of the Dying Earth edited by G. R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois
- Like Mayflies In A Stream by Shauna Roberts
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I don't know you, but when I read a novel, I always have a clear enough picture of the protagonists. The same goes for the different races in fantasy novels. I'm about to finish Steven Erikson's Memories of Ice (the 3rd book of the Malazan book of the Fallen series). One of the races that I keep hearing is the K'ell Hunter (K'Chain Che'Malle - the first race on the Malazan world to evolve intelligence).
Here's a representation from Spindrift: K'ell Hunter. I think it's very good!
Friday, November 20, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
- Like Mayflies In A Stream by Shauna Roberts (waiting for the ARC to arrive)
- Tyrant's Blood by Fiona McIntosh (waiting for the review copy to arrive)
- Songs Of The Dying Earth by George R. R. Martin (editor) & Gardner Dozois (editor)
- House Of Chains by Steven Erikson
- Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
- Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb
- Midnight Tides by Steven Erikson
- Starfish by Peter Watts
Friday, November 13, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Maribel ran along the top boards. The planks went from roof to roof, along the ridges, with a jumping-space to reach the peaks of the round huts. She didn’t have the skill of a danseuse, nor the grace of the best of the girls from the stone city below her, but among the woodkin, she was often accounted the most lithe and best.The Tower Wander was ahead, with Shrike House clinging to its neck like a collar. The old wall had long since been swallowed by the spread of the stone city, gone from defense to landmark to landform in the space of a few generations. The Duke of Copper Downs had forbidden the woodkin to enter the abandoned towers, but their exteriors had never been under such a rule.So the seven surviving towers acquired names, and superstructures, and held the long, narrow village that ran from the Broken Gate to the Tower Harbor. The towers were part of the stone city, but the houses were the woodkin’s memory of another time and place.She slipped through the roof of Shrike House, dropping to the floor in a shower of dust and straw.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Master told us that the earth was hollow, and that we lived on the inside of it, clinging to the top of the crust. Below us was another world, a world inside the world, a glowing bright sun of a place. What Master called the summerlands. That is where the dead live, he said. That is how we can talk to them, he said. They send us signals across the air, and the mediums pick them up and drink them in.And when the words came in, we had to speak them. We cannot deny the dead our voices–the dead would be angry if we did. And nobody wanted the angry dead to fly their zeppelins up from the sun and attack us crust dwellers.That wouldn’t do anyone any good.Master knew this because he is an ambassador to the land of the dead. At night he walked through the door of the dead, and it beamed his body down above us, into the summer sun inside of the earth. That is where he talked to them, worked out trade between our two peoples.The dead have a lot to offer the living.He came back with schematics.Ways of building circuit boards.Ghost technology from the sun.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Author: Fiona McIntosh
Publishing Date: 5 Jan 2009
Paperback: 456 pages
Series: Book 1 of the Valisar trilogy
The barbarian horde of the Likurian Steppes moved from the east and conquered the Denova Set. Cremond, Barronel, Gormand, Dregon and Vorgaven fell before Loethar’s barbarian army. Penraven, the most powerful kingdom of the Set is the the last one standing, however the end is near. King Brennus of Penraven has to take difficult decisions in order to preserve the life of the only Valisar heir, Prince Leonel.
Don’t Judge A Book By It But...
What I see is a bleeding cape but I would have preferred to see the same soldier facing us. On a second thought, maybe it is representing a bleeding flight... I think I like it. Especially after having seen the cover of the second book, I like what they’re doing with the covers of the Valisar Trilogy.
I hadn’t read any of Fiona McIntosh’s books before and I was pretty excited when I received a review copy of Royal Exile. As I’ve been reading the books of the Malazan of the Fallen series, I’m always looking for interesting books to alternate between two Malazan books. So I was hoping to find an interesting story in Royal Exile. Especially when I read what Robin Hobb had to say about Royal Exile, it raised my expectations for Fiona McIntosh’s work.
Fiona McIntosh’s style is very smooth and easy to get used to. That makes the book very easy to read. The first hundred or so pages, the introductory chapters, went without much excitement. Just when I was getting worried that it was going to be a story full of clichés and not enough action, things sped up and the book gained a steady momentum. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the pages were turning fast with my desire to know more.
I love complex world building in fantasy & sci-fi books. However the world building in Royal Exile is probably done at a bare minimum to keep the story going with some hidden secrets left for the future. I’m hoping to hear more about the Set and its surroundings in the future installments.
My feelings towards the characters in the story have been very mixed. I cared for a few of them. Some others didn’t seem believable enough. In more than one occasion, I scratched my head asking myself "would I or anyone do that in the same situation?" On the other hand, I welcomed the late-introduction of other protagonists, and interesting ones in that, who promise a superior upcoming book. Royal Exile started mainly with a single story thread, however, to my joy, Fiona McIntosh carefully crafted multiple parallel threads in the second half of the book.
Royal Exile is a well-written, easy-to-read book. Its plot is captivating despite the shallowness of the world building and of most of its characters. The first book of the Valisar Trilogy is a promising one and I, for one, am looking forward to read the second book.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Author: Steven Erikson
Publishing Date: 1 Oct 2001
Paperback: 959 pages
Series: Second of ten novels of the epic fantasy series, the Malazan Book Of The Fallen.
In and around the Seven Cities, the wind blowing from the holy Raraku Desert carries the warnings of a rebellion brewing in the whole continent. As Sha'ik unlocks the Whirlwind and sends her followers out on a holy war, the continent becomes a very dangerous place for the Malazans.
Don't Judge A Book By It But...
I must admit that I love Steve Stone's artwork on the covers of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series and Deadhouse Gates is no exception. The warriors spawned by the whirlwind in the desert and the hounds announce a captivating book.
We were in Darujhistan when we turned the last page of the Gardens of the Moon. However in Deadhouse Gates Erikson brings us to the Seven Cities, on a different continent.
As soon as I decided to read Deadhouse Gates, the first question that came to my mind was: "Will I read about the same characters in this book?" Well... If you're asking the same question then let me tell you that the only characters from the Gardens of the Moon that we encounter in Deadhouse Gates are Fiddler, Crokus, Apsalar and Kalam. The story of the first three is told in one of the story threads as Erikson masterfully manages four main story lines in parallel. We find the charismatic Kalam in the second story thread. The third thread is about a trio who just fell into slavery: Felisin Paran, a noble teenager (whose family name should be familiar), Heboric, an excommunicated priest of Fener the Boar God, and Beneth, a brute. The last main story thread revolves around the imperial historian Duiker (whose name was mentioned in the first book) who accompanies the Seventh Army in a perilous journey. Contrary to Gardens of the Moon, though, the characters in each story thread in Deadhouse Gates are most of the time separated by very long distances.
From the first page to the last, Deadhouse Gates progresses as a runaway train that imprisons the reader's attention. The parallel story lines are well crafted and have well balanced weights. These stories pull the reader in different directions, most of the time in different parts of the continent. Furthermore, Erikson continues his world building without overwhelming the reader. He's not afraid of showing gore and blood, and he proves that he is one the best fantasy writers to describe martial action and battle scenes.
I also noticed two things after reading the second book of the series: There is not any deep romance in Erikson's books, at least not in the first two books of the Malazan book of the Fallen. And Erikson seems to be just like George R. R. Martin in that no protagonist is safe in his books. There's something good about being caught off guard that way but it's also sad to see one of your favorite characters disappear.
All in all, in Deadhouse Gates, Steven Erikson raises the bar one more notch. It was an incredible read and I'm definitely thirsty for more. My mind is already set on Memories of Ice. I can't wait...
"Name none of the fallen, for they stood in our place, and stand there still in each moment of our lives. Let my death hold no glory, and let me die forgotten and unknown. Let it not be said that I was one among the dead to accuse the living."
Thursday, October 8, 2009
You can now read Terry Pratchett's The Color of Magic on-line using HarperCollins Publishers' Browse Inside site.
Terry Pratchett's profoundly irreverent novels are consistent number one bestsellers in England, where they have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody next to Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.
The Color of Magic is Terry Pratchett's maiden voyage through the now-legendary land of Discworld. This is where it all begins--with the tourist Twoflower and his wizard guide, Rincewind.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
As of today, you can pre-order it from the co.uk site for $279 and Amazon will begin shipping them on 19th October. Even though the device is current sold from the .com site, a UK store is forthcoming. Currently the list of UK publishers whose books are available to Kindle 2 users include Atlantic Books, Bloomsbury, Canongate, Faber & Faber, Hachette, Harlequin, HarperCollins, Lonely Planet, Penguin, Profile Books, Quercus, Simon & Schuster and Wiley. It looks like the talks between Amazon and Random House are ongoing so Random House is not currently on the list. The number of available titles is supposed to be more than 250.000.
According to The Register, the Kindle international edition seems to be using GSM technology only. If this is true, the Kindle International may not be working everywhere in the world. Furthermore, the UK coverage map resembles 3's network, even though the operator denied having an agreement with Amazon.
What's this fee of $1.99 per book about?
Since the announcement, there has been a big debate about the international prices, especially about the $1.99 that the international users are supposed to pay per book downloaded. It turns out that this fee is payed only by the US Kindle users buying books outside the USA. International users won't pay that fee even if they use their Kindles outside their registered countries. I'm sure, that's precisely the reason why the international titles' prices will range between $11.99 and $13.99 rather than %9.99 like in the US. It looks like the extra fee is bundled with the book price for the non-US customers already.
As you can guess, it was all about releasing the Kindle 2 well before the holiday season. Q4 has always been the busiest quarter for Amazon so they wanted release the device early in October. Is that a half-baked solution? Will there be a lot of confusion about where to buy it and for how much? We'll see it pretty soon. In the meantime, competition is good for us, the consumers. I believe Sony's e-readers are better devices but we'll see if Amazon can break Sony's market dominance outside the US.
Friday, October 2, 2009
The Demon Awakens
by R. A. Salvatore
The Demon Awakens is the first book in the first DemonWars Saga trilogy by R.A. Salvatore. The book is also the first out of seven books in the combined DemonWars Saga.
In The Demon Awakens, bestselling author R. A. Salvatore creates an astonishing new world for readers to explore—and an intrepid hero to lead the way: Elbryan Wynden, who must confront the dark tides of destiny in his epic search for justice and peace...
A great evil has awakened in the land of Corona, a terrible demon determined to spread death and misery. His goblin armies and fearsome giants ravage the settlements of the frontier, and in the small village of Dundallis their merciless attack leaves behind two shattered orphans: Pony and her lifelong friend, the youth Elbryan. Taken in by elves, Elbryan is raised to become a formidable ranger—a fateful role that will lead him into harrowing confrontation.
Meanwhile, on a far-off island, a shower of gemstones will fall onto the black sand shores. These heaven-sent stones carry within them an incredible power—the key to all that is good in the world and all that is evil, and it is up to one young monk to liberate them from the corrupt monastery that harvests them. Pray that they don't fall into the wrong, clawed hands...
Starfist: First to Fight
by David Sherman and Dan Cragg
"Marines, we have just become a low-tech deep recon patrol..."
Stranded in a hellish alien desert, stripped of their strategic systems, quick reaction force, and supporting arms, and carrying only a day's water ration, Marine Staff Sergeant Charlie Bass and his seven-man team faced a grim future seventy-five light-years from home. The only thing between his Marines and safety was eighty-five miles of uncharted, waterless terrain and two thousand bloodthirsty savages with state-of-the-art weapons in their hands and murder on their minds.
But the enemy didn't reckon on the warrior cunning of Marines' Marine Charlie Bass and the courage of the few good men who would follow him anywhere—even to death...
- Reading Device
- Wireless Provider
- Mobile App
- Content Provider
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
If you're like me and time to time felt overwhelmed by the vastness of the background information in the Malazan books then you should read this excerpt taken from the interview:
One of the things both Cam and I were agreed on regarding this series, was to write in a style that conveyed a sense of vastness, with a strong flavour of realism where not all answers are forthcoming, not all truths survive their utterance, and sometimes mystery abides no matter how desperate we all are for an end to the questions. That said, there will be plenty of resolutions, but the world will not be wrapped up with a pretty bow.
As for the events that have been recounted in the books, well, things are always open to interpretation, and I am also rather pleased to learn from readers that the books fair well in re-reads. I am a writer obsessed with layering my narrative, so there’s plenty to find for the reader even after the raw events of the story are well-known.
For the complete interview please see "Steven Erikson interview (September 2009)".
Inkmesh is an e-book search engine. Its search index includes sites such as Sony eBook Store, Amazon.com, BooksOnBoard and Fictionwise. The complete list is supposed to grow to include other sites such as Waterstones.co.uk or ebooks.whsmith.co.uk.
I find the overall usability of the site pretty good. They've done a good job. I like the search result presentation. Some quick enhancements that come to my mind are:
- Sorting or searching according to device type or alternatively according to e-book format.
- Inclusion of non-english sites
- Ability to configure the number of books a search page contains
eBookPrice.info is a price comparison site for e-books. I love the idea, even though I didn't quite like the site design (which is definitely secondary in my mind). One can use eBookPrice.info as a search engine or a comparison engine.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Will Henry is an orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a gruesome find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet. Critically acclaimed author Rick Yancey has written a gothic tour de force that explores the darkest heart of man and monster and asks the question: When does a man become the very thing he hunts?
Friday, September 18, 2009
I write four hours a day, usually in the afternoon (I’m a late riser), at a local pub or cafe — the ones run by friendly, accommodating people who don’t object to my taking up a table and occasionally plugging in my laptop.A nice interview but Erikson is still not smiling on the picture, though! ;)
Thursday, September 17, 2009
This is not a small accomplishment. I hope that it is a true indicator of e-book reader usage and what can be achieved with an appropriate pricing model. I'm sure people are going to argue about publisher's margins etc. but there are more and more e-book readers sold. It's a healthy market. We just need to solve a few important problems (such as appropriate pricing, DRM and common formats) for it to become mainstream relatively quickly. But for now, I'm savoring the moment.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Author: Steven Erikson
Publisher: Bantam (UK & Canada) & Tor (USA)
Publishing Date: 1 April 1999
Paperback: 752 pages
Series: First of ten (or maybe more) novels of the epic fantasy series, The Malazan Book Of The Fallen.
The story starts with the encounter between a boy called Ganoes Paran and the Sergeant Wiskeyjack during the final year of the Emperor Kellanved's reign. Ganoes, who's in Malaz City with his father, witnesses the raiding of the Mouse Quarter. During their conversation, Wiskeyjack disapproves the young Ganoes' dreams of becoming a soldier.
Then the book fast forwards seven years: Emperor Kellanved and his ally called Dancer have been assassinated. Since then, the Empire has been ruled by the Empress Laseen whose eyes are set on the Genabackis continent. The Malazan 2nd army is besieging Pale, one of the two free cities remaining on this continent. And we find Wiskeyjack and Ganoes Paran among the many characters whose lives are touched by these events.
Don't Judge A Book By It But...
I know that there have been various different covers depending on the editions. Those are my two favorite ones. I really like both and they would be the type of cover that makes me pick up a book and have a look. The first cover doesn't tell much about the martial aspect of the book however it creates a better mystery. From this point of view, I think that the second cover makes more justice to the story. Furthermore, the person on the second cover is Anomander Rake, Lord of Moon's Spawn and the leader of Tiste Andii. He is an extremely cool character.
Wow! I just discovered that reading Erikson is a very fulfilling experience, in many ways. It's like drinking a pint of Murphy's (if you're asking "a pint of what?", it's like Guinness but it's better :). It's a superior stout from Cork, Ireland): It's tasty, it's rich, it has character, it has depth...
Gardens Of The Moon had been on my to-read list for a long while and I don't quite know why, I had always had something else to read. I mean, I don't know why I preferred to read something else but you know how it works. You have a list in your mind and depending on your mood you reshuffle that. Or you have a nice blog that you follow, you read a new review and bang! The list is reordered.
Anyway... I'm glad that I decided to plunge into the Malazan world. After a few dozen pages, I put the book down and I asked myself "Have I missed a few introductory chapters? Was there a book before Gardens Of The Moon?" It seems that it's normal to feel a bit lost in the beginning. It turns out that Erikson tells a story as it happens without constant background information giving. This becomes a very interesting style. On the one hand, potentially boring introductory chapters are avoided and it creates further mystery, and on the other hand the book reads like a real life event. Almost like the reader is a true witness to the story unfolding before her eyes but because she just arrived, she doesn't have much background information, naturally. So, at this point, if the reader is patient enough to follow Erikson's lead, she's rewarded by a window opening onto an incredible universe. I understand, now, what the author himself meant by saying "you either like it or you don't". Luckily I liked it very very much.
My first introduction to fantasy happened when I started to read my uncle's Conan comic books during my childhood. I still enjoy reading Conan, every now and then. The richness and the possibilities offered by the universe and the setting in Gardens Of The Moon reminded me of the Conan universe. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that the storylines or the styles are similar. It's just that the world created by Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont is so rich with martial action, diverse races, deities, magical warrens, types of magic wielders, demons, armies, long forgotten civilizations, myths, etc. that the comparison came to me naturally, I guess.
The book has parallel stories running at the same time. Jumping from one story to another one is very frequent. And as I've already mentioned, it is rich in characters. My favourite ones are Anomander Rake, Whiskeyjack, the mysterious Kalam and Quick Ben who seems to be so much more than a simple mage. There are so many others: Irritating Tattersail, the confusing Ganoes Paran, the fat Kruppe, the young Crokus, Rallick Nom the assassin, Toc the Younger (I have the feeling that we're going to meet him again in a later book)... there are so many of them who make the whole book a delight to read. Furthermore, I found it was easy to connect with most of the characters.
Despite feeling lost in the beginning, Gardens Of The Moon ended up being a brilliant read. So much so that I had to continue with the second book of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series immediately after finishing the first one. I've never been afraid of ambitious books and Gardens Of The Moon certainly starts like the first book of a very ambitious series. So, if you're like me, you are going to love it.
"Such tears had been shed before, and would be again - by others like her and yet unlike her. And the winds would dry them all."
Question: Why does Steven Erikson never smile on pictures?
Final Note: Even though I haven't been playing for a few years, I played role-playing games for a long time (mostly table-top and on-line – not much video games). I can clearly see the creative minds behind such a rich world and how this whole universe can relate to an RPG world. I believe it would truly be a wonderful experience to role-play in a game GMed by the author.