Saturday, June 19, 2010

News: Scott Lynch releases a new chapter in Queen of the Iron Sands

For those of you who don't know Lynch, author of the Gentleman bastard series, began releasing chapters in an online scifi serial titled Queen of the Iron Sand last year. Unfortuntely Scott's been suffering some severe depression that has prevented him doing much writing lately and the project has been on hold. Until now that is. Scott has just released the first part of chapter 5. If you haven't statred reading this serial yet you're in for a real treat so give it a go and show Scott your support.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Review: Shadow's Edge by Brent Weeks

Following the death of his master and in the wake of the Godking’s violent coup Kylar Stern takes his adopted daughter Uly and his love interest Elene to a new city. There he hopes to forge a new life for himself, a normal one far removed from his time as a highly skilled wetboy and the constant killing. Kylar however finds it difficult to walk away from something he has been molded all his life to do. Once he learns that his best friend and the now rightful king Logan maybe alive he is forced to give up the fledging life he was building with Elene and Uly in order to save Logan and consequently his country. Logan meanwhile is trapped in the hole among the very worst criminals where he has to do whatever is necessary to stay alive while keeping his identify a secret. Logan has always considered himself a good man but will the depths he is forced to sink to destroy him or make him stronger? Vi finds herself in a rather compromising position when she draws the Godking’s attention onto herself and is forced to try and assassinate Jarl the new Shinga and possibly the only friend she has ever had and Kylar a wetboy who just might be better than her.

That synopsis really doesn’t do this book justice and there is a huge cast of characters and a plethora of events taking place, which is also this novel’s greatest weakness. The first book was anchored nicely in being very focused on Kylar, yes there were much larger events in play but it really was Kylar’s story. Not so in this one where while Kylar does play an important role he is just one of many, I’d say too many, perspectives. I really feel Weeks was attempting too much here and there is simply too much going on and not enough about the world being explained to fully understand the side stories. The characters are really well realized and I especially liked Logan’s development and how his experiences in the hole effected him. However there were a few characters introduced who seemed rather stereotypical fantasy fare which was disappointing, for example Sister Ariel, the scholarly member of an all women magical society, was far too similar to someone like a Verin Seadi from the Wheel of Time books for me to be entirely comfortable with her.

All in all Shadow’s Edge is a good book but it really could have been great if it didn’t feel like things were so rushed and Weeks wasn’t trying to cram two books worth of material into it. 7.25/10

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Review: The midnight Mayor by Kate Griffin

With her debut novel for adults Kate Griffin produced a real masterpiece which pushed the boundaries of urban fantasy to new levels. I was curious to see if she could back that up in her second novel and the answer is a firm and resounding; YES.

The magical defences of London have been systematically destroyed. The ravens in the tower of London have been massacred , The wall has been defaced by graffiti and the midnight mayor, the mythical protector of the city, has been killed. With his dying breath he sent his powers through the telephone wire where it finds Matthew Swift, a sorcerer and host of the blue electric angels. Matthew, who didn’t even believe the midnight mayor existed, now finds himself thrust into the office and immediately attacked by mystical forces. The death of cities has come to London and Mathew is the last defence in his way.

Like the first book the story is told in the first person from Matthew's perspective. Again it is obvious that the author absolutely loves London and the city and is described so intensively that it is almost like the city is a character itself. The story itself follows a similar format to the first one which is the only minor criticism I could come up with. The novel is paced well, the author’s use of language creates an excellent fast-paced vibe which really reiterates that Matthew is under some serious pressure. It also nice to see Matthew's character really develop and to start question who he really is.

Overall the Midnight Mayor is another fine offering from a young author who is definitely one to watch. 8.5/10

Friday, June 4, 2010

Review: The Briar King by Greg Keyes

I will never forget reading the prologue to Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World. Without warning I was thrown into the middle of a rather confusing and intense scene. It was obvious that there was a great deal that had gone before that I was not privy too, I had to double-check the back cover to make sure that it was in fact the first book in a series. The whole experience was so disconcerting that I almost stopped reading it right then and there. I’m glad I didn’t. The prologue to Greg Keye’s Briar King bears many striking resemblances to that of Jordan’s. Both are set in the prehistory of the world that is about to be explored and both introduce characters and concepts that will only make sense much later on. Oh one more thing both pack one hell of a punch that drags you into the book and no matter how you kick and scream simply won’t let go.

Boiled right down to its base elements the plot is this; hundreds of years ago human slaves lead by Genia Dare tapped into a strange power, known as the sedos, to overthrow their Skasloi overlords. Little did they know that by using that power they had doomed themselves. This doom seems come to head in the ‘present day’ and we follow the beginning of this through the eyes of a cast of characters, including the descendents of Genia Dare. I really enjoyed the way Keye’s kept this in the background, like a hunting lion awaiting to pounce, while smaller scale events took center stage.

To use a pun Keye’s world building is literally out of this world and really deserves a great deal of attention. The history, geography and cultures are well thought out and I enjoyed seeing the influence of medieval as well as a different Mediterranean flavor in the pieces revealed in the first book. I think we really are only scratching the surface at this point and can’t wait to see where Keyes takes us from here. The cast of characters Keyes introduces us to are interesting and complex despite at first glance seeming almost stereotypical. High praise needs to be given to Asper White for being the first middle aged man in a fantasy novel to finally have the smarts to say ‘I’m one lucky bastard’ and just going with it when a pretty young woman falls in love with him instead of trying to chase her away for her own good. The most important aspect for me is that the different points of views actually feel like I’m seeing the world through different eyes to the character in the previous chapter and Keyes scores highly here as well.

All in all I couldn’t find anything Keyes did wrong, not one single thing. So I highly recommend this book. 9/10