Tim Scheidler

TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.

The Liar’s Key: A fun second novel

Readers’ average rating: 

The Liar’s Key
by Mark Lawrence

For better or for worse, The Liar’s Key (2015) — the second novel in Mark Lawrence’s RED QUEEN’S WAR series — is in large part just a second helping of the first book. Readers who enjoyed Prince of Fools will probably find a lot to enjoy this time around as well. Those who might be reading this review in the hopes that I’ll tell them that this one is so much better will probably be disappointed.

Not to say that The Liar’s Key is a bad book by any means. Indeed, it’s rather a good one, filled with the same charm and wit as its predecessor. Jal and Snorri remain engaging leads... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 23, 2017

This week, we swing at some low-hanging fruit again. Yep. Time for the obligatory Hobbiton pipe-weed joke.

Frodo: We've always been fond of our pipeweed here in the Shire, but lately it's been getting out of hand. Barrels of it are constantly being shipped out, the plants seem to be taking over every garden, and the smell of it gets into everything. I mean, really, people, can't we have some moderation? Now we have tourists coming through just to smoke our "Longbottom Leaf" and play bongo drums, because apparently Longbottom Leaf is illegal in Gondor for some reason. I suspect Gandalf's big mouth is the reason we have so many newcomers, but whenever I ask him about it he just giggles, puffs on his pipe, and ask if I have any snacks. Getting so tired of this.

Bill: This week I read two excellent books. Th... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 16, 2017

This week, Batman confronts his worst nightmare.

Batman: This week there was no crime in Gotham City. None whatsoever. Must confess to a feeling of... emptiness. Strange. Lack of crime should feel like success. Spent the week wrapped in activities I had always imagined I would one day undertake in my retirement. I watched several films I had been meaning to see. I went with Alfred to the golf course, just as I was forever promising I eventually would. I even picked up my oboe for the first time in years. It was... it was...

It was terrible. When the new crime-free Gotham was revealed to be a fiendish mind control plot by the Scarecrow, I was inexpressibly relieved.

Bill: I’m moving into crunch time at the end of the term, as well as facing a play deadline, so not a lot of reading this week (or probably the next few). I did... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 9, 2017

This week, Robin Hood addresses the fact that Hollywood has labored for nearly a century under the delusion that he is Ivanhoe.

Robin: New wanted posters this week. Always an exciting time. My bounty price went up again, and ah, how the glades rang with laughter when the men saw how highly the sheriff prizes us! But there were also some minor... issues. This time, you see, an accounting of my deeds was appended to the main poster, which would have been a merry thing, save that they were not in fact my deeds. My poster states that I am a crusading knight recently returned to England, that I have been wrongfully disinherited, that my childhood sweetheart and fair lady has been spirited away by a loathsome nobleman, and that I have made common cause with outlaws in order to rescue her and put the land to rights. Also that I am affiliated with King Richard somehow.

This is all ... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 2, 2017

This week, Red Sonja performs the long-standing heroic duty of saving a princess.

Red Sonja: You don't run into a lot of fat princesses. I don't know why. It seems like it'd be the sort of life that would predispose a woman to putting on some extra weight, what with the pampering and the gourmet meals. But the princesses I've seen have all inclined toward the skinny side, if anything. They usually have lots of blonde ringlets, too, and big blue eyes. And they always seem to be looking beseechingly toward something in the middle distance, which gets very annoying when you're right in front of them waiting for instructions. This week, a king hired me to rescue his daughter, and sure enough, when I burst into the inner chamber covered in ogre guts, raw sewage, and what I'm pretty sure was unicorn puke (don't ask), there she was all wasp-waisted and golden-haired. She'd somehow contrived not to be messy, which w... Read More

Prince of Fools: A slick, well-crafted buddy adventure fantasy

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Tim's new review.

Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

Prince Jalan Kendeth is the black sheep of the family. A self-confessed untrustworthy scoundrel and coward who has taken every advantage of the life of luxury that comes with being royalty, he is perfectly content with his life as it is and has no plans to change or inclination for greater things. However, when he crosses paths with a courageous Viking named Snorri, Jal discovers that he may have been destined to stand against an undead evil. Snorri is returning north to rescue his family and, despite his unwillingness, Jal is bound by mystic forces to accompany him.

For those (like me) who are already die-hard Mark Lawrence fans, Prince of Fools, the first book in the RED QUEEN'S WAR series, is just what we expected — pure awesomeness and then some. But for those of... Read More

Sunday Status Update: March 26, 2017

Character update will return next week.

 

Bill: This week I finished Tad William’s The Heart of What Was Lost, which I liked a bit more than Kat, and Scott Westerfeld’s fast moving and enjoyable (more for story than the visuals) YA graphic Spill Zone. Outside the genre I read Heretics: The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy, by Steven and Ben Nadler, an engaging graphic introduction to Seventeenth Century figures such as Descartes, Hobbes, and others. I also finished Fleda Brown’s strong collection The Woods are On Fire: New and Selected Poems and Tracy Chevalier’s novel At the Edg... Read More

Sunday Status Update: March 19, 2017

This week, the Beast pitches what is basically a superhero revenge movie.

The Beast: This week, I kidnapped an old man and then performed a prisoner exchange for his daughter. It all seemed reasonable at the time, but I'm beginning to think it may not have been my finest moment. Only, honestly, how else am I going to spend time around a young woman? This curse seems designed to make me fail. I have to make a human woman fall in love with me while I'm a sort of bison/bear thing? What is that? What, I'm just supposed to happen on a woman who not only suits me personality-wise but is also into bestiality? It's absurd. I'm beginning to think I should just use my Beastly superpowers to track down this enchantress and make her lift the curse.

Actually, why haven't I thought of that before? It's not like it's just me who's suffering -- my entire staff was turned into doodads, and they didn't eve... Read More

Sunday Status Update: March 12, 2017

Character update on break this week.

 

Bill:This week was a pretty good week quality-wise. I finally got around to Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning, and I’m still mulling over my feelings on it—it’s a very smart, stimulating book in lots of ways, but also flawed and at times I felt trying a bit too hard on its plotting. I liked it, admired it, not sure if I, in middle-school parlance, “like-liked it. On the other hand, I loved The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel, by Dominic Smith, even it the ending was a bit weaker in comparison to the rest of this beautifully constructed and often beautifully written novel that moves back and forth between the 1600s, 1950s, and 2000s. Finally, I also quite enjoyed Meg Howrey’s The Wanderers, which follows a trio of astronauts as t... Read More

Sunday Status Update: March 5, 2017

This week, Supergirl deals with more woes over being an alien.

Supergirl: This week the "illegal alien" thing reared its ugly head again. This was, oh, Friday? Thursday? Anyway, I was downtown to buy new clothes (when you're constantly ripping off your outer layer to leap into action, you go through a lot of them) when I ran into an invasion of lizard people from the earth's core. Only, you know, not a full-blown invasion really, more just like some lizard people dared some other lizard people to go up and steal a McDonald's sign. They seemed to think it was a surface world religious symbol, and you know, not inaccurate, exactly. So I did my usual intimidation routine -- grab one, fly him around a bit, drop him back with his friends -- and told them to get lost. They got lost. They usually do.

Only then a bunch of guys in suits came running up and said they'd been looking for me, and said I nee... Read More

Sunday Status Update: February 26, 2017

This week, the bat signal fails.

Batman: Field report for November: Grew angry with Commissioner Gordon earlier this week. Was sitting in cave going over notes (and trying to ignore video game noises -- never should have let Robin take a Playstation 4 into the cave) when Alfred entered and drew my attention to an ongoing firefight between Joker's men and the GCPD. He had heard about the matter on the radio. The radio! Was deeply concerned, fearing that my systems had failed to note the bat signal. Instead learned that there in fact was no bat signal. Set out at once, defeated henchmen, saved officers in peril. Confronted Gordon later that night, demanded to know reason for lack of contact.

"Uh," he said, "it's... a clear night, Batman."

"What?"

"It's clear tonight. No clouds. Doesn't happen often, I'll grant you, but when it does... well... you ... Read More

Sunday Status Update: February 19, 2017

This week, Frodo encounters an orc sympathizer.

Frodo: This week, some young hobbit turned up at my door wanting to talk about my book. I mean, it hasn't been published yet, but Sam talks. So I let him in and we started chatting, but over time it became obvious that what he really wanted to talk about was orcs. "Only, Mr. Baggins," he said, "I've been thinking and all. Innit the truth that orcs are really just elves?" So then I had to correct him and point out that no, in fact, orcs are elves who were taken and tortured and ruined by the Dark Lord. "Well, yes," he said, "but that just means they're still elves underneath it all, right?" I said I supposed so, though I must say the conversation was making me uncomfortable by then. "So Mr. Baggins," he went on, "I just mean to say... if all them orcs were just tortured elves 'n all... don't you feel bad that you and your lot killed... Read More

Sunday Status Update: February 5, 2017

This week, Legolas finds himself a newly minted politician. Spoilers for Lord of the Rings.

Legolas: Journal Entry 3450397: Still in Gondor. Ever since our crazy suicide mission inexplicably succeeded, I've been deluged in letters from home telling me to use my influence with the new king to make sure the wood elves get a good deal out of all this. I'm also supposed to mention the stellar contribution that we made to the war effort, which... I mean, did we? I remember Gandalf saying something about fighting in other lands, but it's funny how we never seemed to run into any Orc armies heading off to Mirkwood or wherever. So far as I can tell, my father and his kingdom basically sat on the sidelines, golf-clapping whenever Gondor looked like winning. Knowing that makes it rather hard to start arguing a generous trade agreement or whatever. Maybe I'm not cut out for this... Read More

Lud-in-the-Mist: Unconventional and terribly lovely

Readers’ average rating: Comment Reviews for this post are disabled. Please enable it first

Reposting to include Rebecca's new review.

Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees

I find myself in something of an awkward position with Lud-in-the-Mist, which is in part why it’s difficult to review. The fact of the matter is that while Lud-in-the-Mist is unequivocally an excellent novel, it is not always an enjoyable novel, and there is a large population of readers out there who may find it close to nauseating.

Lud-in-the-Mist is Hope Mirrlees’s only fantasy novel, and indeed the only one of her three novels for which she is remembered (and that, for the most part in recent years, because Neil Gaiman has put in a goo... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 29, 2017

This week, Batman again.

Batman: Field report for January: joined the Justice League in an interstellar war against the New Gods. Confronted their cosmically superpowered leader myself, stared him down. Returned to Gotham following the crisis' resolution, and was promptly knocked out and taken captive by Two-Face (a deranged lawyer with no particular combat expertise). Naturally I escaped, but I must admit that sometimes my life seems bizarrely dichotomous, as if my Fate is written by a completely different hand when I'm in Gotham. Perhaps some kind of psychological complaint is to blame? Maybe I subtly let down my guard while at home. Must watch for this. Final note: have at last determined the method whereby Wonder Woman avoids wardrobe malfunctions in combat. Very surprising. Had expected some kind of adhesive inside the bustier, but it seems that... [remainder of entry unreadable due to heavy rent ... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 22, 2017

This week, Ayesha.

Ayesha: Week 148,893. As my prophesied love Kallikrates still apparently hasn't seen fit to get reincarnated and return to me, I once again had to come up with my own amusements this week. So I decided to fake my death. I gathered my people together, climbed up the side of the mountain, made a great big speech about existential despair and the human condition (totally wasted on my audience), and jumped. Four hundred feet onto solid stone. Well, it took them a while, but eventually they decided I was really dead and they ought to decide on a new leader. Some of them wanted democracy, and some wanted a monarchy, and it was all very fascinating, really. Of course, eventually some big lout decided to make himself king on the spot and started punching, so I had to get up and blast him. Then, of course, it was back to the usual awe and horror and religious fan... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 15, 2017

Character update on break again. Next week. Next week.

 

Bill: This week was a smorgasbord. Genre-wise, I read Bradley P. Beaulieu’s With Blood Upon the Sand, his good-if-not-quite-as-good follow up to the excellent Twelve Kings in Sharakhai; and John Scalzi’s Miniatures, which didn’t leave much of an impression, though a few stories were cute enough. In the graphic story vein I read Love, Volume 4 The Dinosaur written by Frederic Brremaud and illustrated by Frederico Bertolucci, a wonderfully vivid wordless day in the lives of a few dinosaurs. In the literary fiction category I was held by the first two-thirds of Karan Mahaj... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 8, 2017

Character update on break this week.

 

Bill: This week I read Babylon’s Ashes, the newest installment of THE EXPANSE by James. S Corey. As has become the norm for this series, I stayed up to finish it in one night—love this story and these characters! I also read City of Ice, K.M. McKinley’s follow up to The Iron Ship. Like its predecessor, the sequel is a sprawling, slow sort of story, though I’d say unlike The Iron Ship, this one felt its length a bit more. Still enjoyable however, and I’m quite looking forward to the third book. Outside the genre, I finished What Playwrights Talk About When The... Read More

Sunday Status Updates: January 1, 2017

Wow, we're hitting the holidays dead on this year, aren't we? Happy New Year's Day from Fanlit! Also, Red Sonja.

Red Sonja: Apparently it is now a new year on the official, imperial calendar. Not sure why that matters, since that particular empire is a couple centuries defunct, but whatever. I guess it's convenient. So! New Year. I'd managed to scrounge some coin from guarding a caravan, so I spent the night in an inn. There were a lot of very merry people drinking and talking over each other, so I started conjoining myself to the drunker groups when I noticed somebody having an attack of generosity. Got a few free drinks that way. Anyway, during the proceedings, somebody asked me what my resolution for the new year was. Apparently I needed to have one. I told him my resolution was to buy a great big coat. He mulled that over through haze of alcohol fumes and eventually told me my resolution was stupid. I tol... Read More

Sunday Status Update: December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas, to those who celebrate it.

Kris Kringle: I'm stuck. I've been stuck for hours. I'm almost sure someone's closed the flue on me. I can see morning light. Send help!

Jana: This week I read Laura Bickle's Nine of Stars, a semi-weird-West-type of fantasy novel involving alchemy, shapeshifters, folklore, and winter in Yellowstone Park. Review to come shortly. I've also been (slowly) working on a review of an anthology edited by Robert Silverberg, This Way to the End Times: Cla... Read More

Mythago Wood: Dreamy and strange

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Sandy's new review.

Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock

After his post-WWII convalescence in France, Steven Huxley is returning to his family's home on the edge of Ryhope Wood, a patch of ancient forest, in Britain. For as long as Steven remembers, his father, who recently died, had been so obsessed with the forest that it destroyed their family.

Upon returning home, Steven finds that his brother Christian is quickly following in their father's footsteps — both figuratively and literally — for he has also discovered that this is no ordinary forest! It resists intrusion from Outsiders, time and distance are skewed there (so it is much larger inside than the 6 miles it covers in modern Britain should allow, and time seems to expand), and strange energy fields interact with human minds to create mythagos — the idealized forms of ancient mythic... Read More

Sunday Status Update: December 18, 2016

This week, Supergirl with a story of holiday cheer.

Supergirl: Superheroes lead weird lives. I don't know what it is about grown men and women dressing up in colorful leotards and capes to wage neverending wars on crime that draws the weirdness, but sometimes it gets almost too much to handle. There was this one time when Batman got tossed backward in time and had to be Pirate Batman, which is objectively awesome but also deeply bizarre. And there was this other time Wonder Woman fought this 100-ft egg with a face, and the face had a Fu Manchu mustache, and the egg was named Egg Fu. Not making this up. But this year Wonder Woman had too much eggnog (you'd think she'd have had enough of egg-themed stuff by now, but whatever) and told me what is possibly the oddest tale of them all. So: this one year around Christmas, Superman heard that a couple of kids desperately wanted to believe in Santa Claus. So obviousl... Read More

The Chessmen of Mars: Fun and lively

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Tim's new review.

The Chessmen of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Editor's note: This title can be purchased free on Kindle.

The Chessmen of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs' fifth JOHN CARTER novel out of eleven, first appeared in serial form in the magazine Argosy All Story Weekly from February to April 1922. It is easily the best of the Carter lot to this point; the most detailed, the most imaginative, and the best written. Carter himself only appears at the beginning and end of the tale. Instead, our action heroes are his daughter, Tara, who gets lost in a rare Barsoomian storm while joyriding in her flier and blown halfway across the surface of the planet, and the Gatholian jed Gahan, who goes in search of her.

In the first half of this novel, Tara and Gaha... Read More

Sunday Status Update: December 11, 2016

This week, Ron becomes a wizardly conspiracy theorist.

Ron: This last summer, I found myself in the muggle village and I bought myself a pen. Not a very nice pen, supposedly (I asked Dad -- he said it was actually a pretty ordinary sort of pen), but it wrote just what I wanted and it didn't run out of ink. It was bloody brilliant. I loved my pen. So that started me thinking, why is it that we don't use pens? It seems like an awfully harmless bit of muggle technology. So I took my pen to Hogwarts. Do you know what happened? It broke. My pen broke. Because magic messes with muggle artifacts or something. Only... that doesn't actually make sense, does it? I mean, it's a pen. It's got some ink and a little ball, supposedly. It's not like it's got a computer or electricity or anything. And if pens don't work here, how come doorknobs are still fine? Seems suspiciously arbitrary. I'm beginning to susp... Read More

Sunday Status Update: December 4, 2016

This week, Batman again.

Batman: Field report for November. Joker has now crossed major milestone, as he is now statistically leading cause of death for Gotham residents. Beginning to feel serious job-related stress as a result. One of the Green Lanterns asked me last week if it would be helpful if he simply pitched Joker at the sun and we never spoke of it again, but had to reject his offer. I continue to believe in Gotham, in its ability to one day stand on its own two feet and prosecute criminals according to the legal system. Saying so does not help Gotham in mean time, however, as everyone in city seems intent on demonizing me for not finishing him off. Graffiti on bat signal a week ago read "just kill the clown already. God." Meanwhile, Harley Quinn is statistically the 12th leading cause of death for Gotham residents, but the entire city continues to believe her to be some kind of adorable, puckish rogue ... Read More

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