Friday, May 29, 2009

Speed, Speed the Cable by Kage Baker

Subterranean Press are giving away Kage Baker's novelette called Speed, Speed the Cable (PDF file). It's a 24-page short novel and I really like the way that it's presented. I think the background image and the font are spot on for the genre.

Speed, Speed the Cable is a sneak peak at the world that Kage Baker's created in The Women of Nell Gywynne's, which is a historical fantasy/steampunk novel. If you're interested in reading about it, Gasping For The Wind has a review of the book posted not so long ago.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Quote Of The Day

"Remember this: To have may be taken from you, to have had never." - from Legend by David Gemmell

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Book Review: The Fall Of Ossard by Colin Taber

In The Fall Of Ossard, Colin Taber tells the story of Juvela Van Leuwin, granddaughter of a woman burnt at the stake for being a witch, by the Inquisitor Anton, member of the Church of Baimiopia’s Expeditia Puritanica. The burning was 20 twenty years ago and it was a milestone in Ossard’s history. Since then, Ossard has grown wealthy by its merchant princes. However now the city is troubled by another problem: Child abductions... The children simply vanish without a trace and without any witnesses... And it’s just the beginning...

Don't Judge A Book By It But...

The first time I looked at the cover of The Fall Of Ossard, it gave me the impression that something dark and sinister was happening in this city. With a close look, one can see a burning tower. It reminds me of one of my favorite movies: The Crow.

About The Book

I didn’t know Colin Taber before I decided to read The Fall Of Ossard. Now I’m glad that I gave it a try. The three adjectives on its cover capture the spirit of the book pretty well: “Bold... Innovative... Brave...” The book is easy to read and captivating. The very beginning of the story, the burning of Juvela’s grandmother, promises a fast-paced book. And it keeps its word. With the introduction of Juvela, the story slows down but to gather momentum with each turning page.

Colin Taber’s style in his book reminded me of Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name Of The Wind, partly because the story was told in a first-person narrative mode. And the fact that Ossard is the main setting of the story and the world’s connection with its deities reminded me of Brendon Sanderson’s Elantris.

In The Fall Of Ossard, the author paints the picture of a world where the boundary between humanity and divinity is very thin and flexible. It is a world where gods can choose to answer the prayers with their blessings. It is a world where gods can be mean and vicious; they can have their own agenda and use their followers in a multitude ways. This book is a window opened to a world forged by the goddess Life and her husband Death. Yet now they’re waging a divine war, a war that promises doom for all.

The magic system that the author uses has a satisfying complexity. Even though we don’t explicitly get explained all the nitty-gritty details of spellcasting, we know that there are three different branches of magic that exist according to the power source of the caster: Mind (forbidden Sisterhood), Soul (priesthoods of the faiths) and Heart (Cabals of Mages). I’m guessing that we will discover more about magic in the following books.

One of the aspects of the book that I loved is the existence of the world’s mythology. The reader is introduced to some of the deities along the way. However the mention of a few other names, such as the Gorgoyle God of Gorloth promises more to come. Furthermore, there are some places mentioned that aren’t part of the story yet. For example, I wonder if we’ll ever know more about Bar-Mor, the mountain city of the giants.

If you’re a fan of maps in fantasy books, you’ll be satisfied to know that Colin Taber did a good job with the maps too. They include Ossard and the world around the city.

All in all, it's an amazing book. Colin Taber raises the bar very high in his debut novel, The Fall Of Ossard, which is the first of a trilogy. The second book promises a lot to come in many aspects. It will probably be published towards the end of the year. The author said that the remaining books were pretty much complete, so hopefully, there shouldn’t be any delays. I, for one, am looking forward to reading them. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story...


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Looks Like Jeff Long Got His Facts Right

My daily facts reported me something that made me think of Jeff Long's The Descent, which was an entertaining but "just-OK" book. The story had an enormous potential and IMHO failed to meet any significant height.

Anyway... In his book, Jeff Long sends a bunch of people very very deep in the earth, to the depths totally unknown by the humanity. Without giving too many spoilers, it suffices to say that those peoples' rhythm of life changes. Well, it turns out that this part was not fiction after all:

In the 60s, French geologist Michael Siffre spent 205 days in darkness in a cave, becoming the person who survived the longest unbroken period of time underground.

Apparently, he spent those 205 dark days in Midnight Cave, in Texas, as part of an experiment sponsored by NASA. The goal was to test whether the human body has a natural time clock. During most of the experiment, Siffre's body adhered to a 24-hour day. However, as the experiment neared its end, Siffre started to live 48 to 50-hour days. During these days, he was alert for 33 to 36 hours before sleeping for 12 to 15 days.

The sad part is that it took Michael Siffre five years to recover from the effects of this dark period. And during the experiment, he suffered from depression, thoughts of suicide, and panic attacks.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Picture of The Monday Morning

I decided to give it a shot and tried to picture The Monday Morning. A nice cup of coffee in the local coffee shop (where everybody knows my name :) ), the book I'm currently reading/reviewing and a nice little biscotti.

Unfortunately, this moment of peace lasted less than an hour and the realization dawned on me after the cup of coffee: The weekend was over... It was time to go to work...

In case you're wondering, I'm already halfway through The Fall Of Ossard. I like Colin Taber's style very much. The story has been great so far. A full review will follow as soon as I finish the book.

Blood Of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Gollancz (16 Oct 2008)
ISBN: 0575083182
Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 2.8 cm

In a world scarred by war, in a world where racial tension grows every day, in a world where political games are played at the expense of innocent people, in a world where all hope seems lost, a young girl shines like a light in a stormy coast. This is the story of young Ciri, the Witcher called Geralt of Rivia - the white wolf - and Yennefer the enchantress. Will they be able to protect Ciri? This task will prove difficult. Who can they trust? Who is friend, who is enemy?

Don’t Judge A Book By It, But…

I love Blood Of Elves’ cover. I find it reflects the spirit of the book and probably what’s more to come. I’m not sure whether those are daggers or short swords but when I first saw them, I thought about a pair of elven swords. The fact that the cover makes the book look like an old book enhances the feeling of reading something special.

About The Book

I had wanted to find some time to read Blood of Elves for a while. It generated some buzz on the online forums and I wanted to try out one of Sapkowski’s books. Recently it pushed itself up in my to-be-read pile and it landed on my lap a few days ago. So I decided to read it…

Blood of Elves is a Tolkienesque fantasy book, which, I believe, would please a young adult audience as much as a mature one. The book successfully contains the expected traits of such a world. For example, it is a world where many races such as elves, dwarves, gnomes and halflings live together.

Sapkowski’s style is very fluent and Blood Of Elves is a fast paced book. I must admit that the author’s style, or the fact that he dances among various styles, really surprised me in the beginning. The book contains enough descriptions to imagine and visualize the setting however the author doesn’t use much description during conversations. This creates a fast paced story but sometimes it forces the reader to deduce what’s happening around by what’s being said in the conversation as opposed to what’s being described as part of some description. And rarely, the author uses a more poetic and sharp style with a series of short sentences.

There isn’t much character development throughout the book. I thought the most intriguing protagonist was Yennefer the enchantress whose character was the best developed. Yennefer gets more focus during the second half of the story whereas the first half is mostly about Geralt, the mysterious protector of Ciri.

All in all I really enjoyed this book. Despite having had high expectations I wasn’t disappointed. Blood of Elves comes across as the opening book of a long series and it promises much better things to come. I’m just hoping that we’ll be able to read the English translations of the other books in the series soon.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Free e-Book: Nina Kimberly the Merciless by Christiana Ellis

Dragon Moon Press are offering Nina Kimberly the Merciless by Christiana Ellis as a PDF download.

About "Nina Kimberly the Merciless"

She's on a mission to kill the man who loves her. Why? Because he's an idiot.

Ten years ago, Nina Kimberly the Merciless was cheated out of the life of adventure that she truly deserves. Her father, the fearsome barbarian conqueror Marcus the Merciless, met his first and only defeat at the hands of, well... a gopher hole. Ever since this epic humiliation, she and the rest of the horde have been stuck in the rural backwater kingdom of Langia. Now Francis IX, the idiotic king, has decided that he and Nina should be married. She can't kill him without starting a succession war, but the alternatives? Eww! Nina has long yearned for a hero to sweep her up on a glorious quest, but Francis' unwanted affections have forced her hand. No more waiting for a quest to find *her*, it's time to get proactive. She sets off into the big wide world, but the king decides to tag along, complete with a security spell to alert the kingdom if he's killed. Nina is forced to swallow her pride and keep him safe... at least until she can find a way to break the spell. But nothing is ever simple in the life of a barbarian princess, and nothing is ever quite what it appears. The dragon is a pacifist (sometimes). The handsome rogue is a con-artist, but who is he conning? And even the wizard has a few surprises in store. While seeking the answer to all her problems, Miss the Merciless discovers that what she's always wanted may not actually be what she *wants*.

Nina Kimberly the Merciless is a comic coming of age story filled with magic, mayhem and mercenaries, but mercy? Never.

The Wise Man's Fear Manuscript Mailed To The Editor

I loved Patrick Rothfuss' The Name Of The Wind. Since I finished it, I've been waiting for the second book of The King Killer Chronicle: The Wise Man's Fear.

Don't worry, I'm not going to complain about its being late. There are already too many people complaining about that kind of stuff... I just wanted to tell you that Rothfuss blogged about a good news. He writes that he sent the manuscript of The Wise Man's Fear to his editor. Yay!

I also have to admit that I was very impressed by the thickness of the manuscript. You should check the picture on his blog entry. Man! This is something!

Last but not least, thanks to Patrick Rothfuss for finding some time to keep us updated. Really appreciated! ;)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What Happened To The Lions Of Al-Rassan Movie?

Do you remember the announcements made about an upcoming movie (or film) based on Guy Gavriel Kay's The Lions of Al-Rassan? This was a few years ago... If I remember correctly in around 2005. Well, I just heard (from the Oracle) that the project is moving very slowly. The project is still in development, though, so there's still hope.

Another interesting point is that two other ongoing movie projects are based on Kay's books: The Last Light of the Sun and Ysabel.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The English translation and release of "The Sword of Destiny" Petition

As I'm a couple of pages away from the end of Andrzej Sapkowski's Blood of Elves (The Witcher), I came across this petition:

English translation and release of "The Sword of Destiny"

Please spend a few seconds to sign it if you'd like to read more of Sapkowski's books in English. Not all of us are fluent in Polish, I'm afraid.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Free e-Book: Deeds of Men by Marie Brennan

Marie Brennan offers her novella called "Deeds of Men" as a free e-book. The fact that it's not only in PDF will certainly please the e-reader owners. You can download it in 3 formats: ePub, HTML or PDF.

Deeds of Men takes place between two of Brennan's books: Midnight Never Come and In Ashes Lie (a perfect case to talk about in a blog called "Between Two Books". All right! I promise! No more humor...) .

About "Deeds of Men"
London, 1625
A young man lies dead in a Coldharbour alley. Before his death, he uncovered secrets that could threaten the mortal world above and the faerie world below. Now, to find the murderer and protect both realms, Sir Michael Deven will need the help of a man with reason to hate the fae of the Onyx Court -- the victim's own brother.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Amazon and iPhone/iTouch

I'm not sure whether iPhone will ever become a true "e-book reading platform" but Amazon is pushing forward. A few weeks after buying Lexcycle, creators of Stanza (the popular e-reader of iPhone), they've announced today that their Kindle Store is now seamlessly integrated with their Kindle for iPhone app:

Amazon Launches Optimized Kindle Store Seamlessly Integrated with "Kindle for iPhone" App -- The Most Popular Books App for iPhone and iPod Touch
"Now when users of the a Kindle for iPhone app click on "Get Books", the new Kindle Store tailored for the size and shape of the iPhone and iPod touch screens automatically opens in Safari."

I wouldn't call this "seamless" but it's another step that would increase the popularity of e-books.

Free e-Book: Open Your Eyes by Paul Jessup

Apex Book Company are offering Paul Jessup's Open Your Eyes as a free PDF download.

The book is also available in dead-tree format:
Europe, US, Canada

Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: Apex Book Company (April 2009)

About "Open Your Eyes":
Her lover was a supernova who took worlds with him when he died, and as a new world grows within Ekhi, savage lives rage and love on a small ship in the outer reaches of space. A ship with an agenda of its own. Critically acclaimed author of weird fiction Paul Jessup sends puppets to speak and fight for their masters while a linguistic virus eats through the minds of a group of scavengers in Open Your Eyes, a surrealist space opera of haunting beauty and infinite darkness.