Swords of Good Men by Snorri Kristjansson
Swords of Good Men by Snorri Kristjansson has a sharply focused premise and an action-oriented narrative, but issues of pace and point of view lessen the short novel’s impact.
The Viking town of Stenvik is the crossroads of events. Heading toward them from the north is a massive army led by King Olav, who is determined to unify the Scandinavian people under the White Christ, even if he has to kill a lot of them in order to do so. Defending the Old Gods against this upstart religion is an All-Star team of Viking raiders, ostensibly led by their general, Skargrim, but really under the control of a mysterious woman named Skuld, who says she is one of the three weavers of fate. Olav wants Stenvik as his winter base, while Skuld and Skargrim seek to deny its strategic p... Read More
Swords of Good Men by Snorri Kristjansson
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Like every other fantasy novel since 1997, A Discovery of Witches has been compared to the Harry Potter series. I often argue that debut novels should be judged by their own merit, that the Harry Potter yardstick is too reductive. In this case, however, Harry Potter comes off worse by association. A Discovery of Witches promises a world of witches, vampires and daemons, of a hidden manuscript which holds the key to the future, of a dark, forbidden love at the centre of the tale. It all looks very good on paper, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the novel doesn’t quite live up to what it says on the tin.
Diana Bishop is a witch. Not in the wandbrandishing, spellreciting way we’re used to, though. She has relinquished all magic in favour of a quiet academic career studying the history of science. One day, she accidental... Read More
John Golden: Freelance Debugger by Django Wexler
Django Wexler, the man with such a fun name, hasn’t just limited himself to epic fantasy. In February Wexler released a novella called John Golden: Freelance Debugger. In proper Wexler form he took a genre that is almost too saturated (urban fantasy) and slammed his way into it with something new, eye catching, and unique.
John Golden tells the story of a man (Surprise! His name is ‘John’) who fixes computers by debugging them. While that might seem fine and dandy, the truth is that the entire premise of how this protagonist debugs computers (and just what the “bugs” are) is just about as interesting as anything else in the novel. Wexler packs quite a story into his few short pages (62 pages, actually).
Don’t let the technospeak and the footnotes put you off. While typically people like their text to flow certain ways, and footnot... Read More
Today we're participating in a blog tour and scavenger hunt to promote Alex Hughes' new novel Vacant, book four in her MINDSPACE INVESTIGATIONS series. This is my current favorite urban fantasy series. There are two chances to be a winner (you can try for both):
1. We're giving away an ebook copy of any of the novels -- your choice. Just comment below to enter the giveaway.
2. In the following post, you'll find the next clue in a "CLUE-like" scavenger hunt. To win, you have to solve a whodunit mystery. You can find the rules and information you need for that here at Alex's blog. The winner of the scavenger hunt gets a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble, a signed copy of Marked, ... Read More
Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz
I really love Sherlock Holmes. I’ve read all of the original stories, several literary adaptations, and regularly watch not only the BBC but also the American television show, both of which are great (gonna talk smack about Elementary? Come at me, bro!). Last year I had the privilege of teaching an entire class on Holmes and Holmes adaptations. Sherlock himself is such a fascinating character that he is the “most portrayed” character in TV or film.
So it disappointed me that I didn’t like Anthony Horowitz’s book, Moriarty, more (or much at all), especially given the fact that only Horowitz’s books bear the stamp of approval from the Conan Doyle estate.
Moriarty tells the story of Frederick Chase, a Pinkerton detective from New York who arrives on the scene in Switzerland just after the famous detective and his neme... Read More
Dzur by Steven Brust
In Dzur, the tenth book in Steven Brust’s VLAD TALTOS series, Vlad is finally back in the city of Adrilankha. I suspect that most fans will be thrilled to return to that decadent cosmopolitan city; it’s just so much more interesting than watching Vlad roam around the countryside. Fittingly, each of the chapters in Dzur is named for one of the items Vlad is served at his favorite restaurant during a gourmet meal that runs parallel to the main plot of Dzur. (Vlad, an assassin by trade, is quite the foodie and, while he dines, he often points out the analogies between preparing a gourmet dinner and preparing to make a hit.)
So, he’s back in Adrilankha eating with a new Dzurlord in his favorite restaurant and telling us what happened just after the events of the last book, Issola (which yo... Read More
Busted Flush edited by George R.R. Martin
Busted Flush is the nineteenth entry in the Wild Cards series of mosaic novels edited by George R.R. Martin. The previous book, Inside Straight is something of a new beginning for the series, a new trilogy with new characters and a couple of new writers. It's a good point to get started. Unfortunately Busted Flush falls a bit short of the standard set in the first book of the Committee trilogy.
The story picks up some time after the events in Inside Straight. The UN secretary-general has snapped up the new American heroes after their dramatic performance in Egypt and formed the Committee — a group of Aces dealing with everything from genocide to natural disasters.There is plenty of work; our heroes are spread thin. In fact, the cracks in their organisation are clearly beginning to show. There ... Read More
On this day in 497 BC, the first Saturnalia festival was celebrated in ancient Rome. Happy Holidays!
Vintage cover of The Hobbit
Writing, Editing, and Publishing:
The winners of the Rhysling Award, an award for SF/F and horror poetry, have been announced. Check it out here!
Philip Pullman, author of HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy, has a new short story available online. He's also hard at work on a fourth book in the series, called The Book of Dust.
Sinbad the Sailor by Phil Masters
I’ve read a good numbers of titles in Osprey Publishing’s MYTHS AND LEGENDS series and while the individual books vary in quality, that variation runs between good and excellent, making the series as a whole top notch. My latest read, Sinbad the Sailor, by Phil Masters, continues the positive run, falling somewhere in the middle of its predecessors.
The bulk of the book is a retelling of Sinbad’s seven voyages (including an alternate seventh voyage), keeping the original frame of Sinbad the Sailor telling the story to Sinbad the Porter, his poorer namesake. The retellings are solid, if not particularly enthralling. I would have liked more of a sense of voice for Sinbad, but they move quickly and fluidly. You can’t fault Masters for some of the repetition in the tales; the... Read More
An Autumn War by Daniel Abraham
This third novel in Daniel Abraham’s LONG PRICE QUARTET is even more exciting than the first two novels. In the first book, A Shadow in Summer, we saw the Galts (the enemies of the city-states of the Khaiem) destroy the industry of the Khaiem’s most glorious city, Saraykeht. In the second book, A Betrayal in Winter, the Galts attempted to get control of the city of Machi by killing off the Khai’s sons and installing their own man as Khai. However, the failed poet Otah, the youngest son of the Khai, managed (with the help of his old friend Maati) to uncover the plot and become Khai in Machi.
Fourteen years later, the Galts have not given up. That’s because they still suffer from the way they were treated by the Khaiem generations ago when the Khaiem’s andats destroyed Galt and turned part of their land into a vast wastelan... Read More