Laura Benedict's debut, ISABELLA MOON (Canada, UK available Feb. 2008), teeters on the bring of not being a fantasy. However, since it is at least partially ghost story with a dash of what might be psychic ability, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. Here's the blurb:
Two years ago, in idyllic Carystown, Kentucky, nine-year-old Isabella Moon disappeared on her way home from school. Is it just coincidence that Kate Russell, a young woman with no discernible past, arrived in town just months before Isabella’s disappearance? When Kate walks into Sheriff Bill Delaney’s office to tell him that Isabella’s ghost has led her to the child’s hidden grave, he immediately views her as a suspect. Mystery follows mystery as a local athlete drops dead, inexplicably, on the basketball court, and someone close to Kate is viciously murdered. . . .
You can read more of the rather longish blurb on the publisher's website. Laura Benedict has a website somewhat reminiscent of J. K. Rowling's, with a clickable notepad, but nothing else on the site appears to be clickable. She has a MySpace blog. There is an excerpt that is available on both her website and on Random House's website.
Reviews appear to be mixed. There is a positive and a negative review on the Amazon page. A review at Book Reporter appears mostly positive, and a review at the Cleveland Plain Dealer is rather negative. A scan of my usual blogs did not show any reviews so I went out into the greater blogosphere and found a review at Novel Reviews, a long interview at Scrambled Dregs.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Laura Benedict's debut, ISABELLA MOON (Canada, UK available Feb. 2008), teeters on the bring of not being a fantasy. However, since it is at least partially ghost story with a dash of what might be psychic ability, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. Here's the blurb:
Saturday, September 29, 2007
This week, THE ELECTRIC CHURCH (UK, Canada) by Jeff Somers made its debut. Here is the book description from Amazon:
In the near future, the only thing growing faster than the criminal population is the Electric Church, a new religion founded by a mysterious man named Dennis Squalor. The Church preaches that life is too brief to contemplate the mysteries of the universe: eternity is required. In order to achieve this, the converted become Monks -- cyborgs with human brains, enhanced robotic bodies, and virtually unlimited life spans.
Enter Avery Cates, a dangerous criminal known as the best killer-for-hire around. The authorities have a special mission in mind for Cates: assassinate Dennis Squalor. But for Cates, the assignment will be the most dangerous job he's ever undertaken -- and it may well be his last.
THE ELECTRIC CHURCH has the most entertaining website that I have seen since Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible. It makes you feel like you are visiting the website of a creepy church. You can "chat" with a church representative, or with a fellow "visitor" to the site, a guy name Ty who warns you away. You can read church literature and find out how to join the church. There is a secret password that you can use to get to pages deeper in the site. It's deliciously creepy. You could waste a lot of time here.
Jeff Somers operates a zine called The Inner Swine. His personal website has both a blog and a forum. My fellow bloggers have reviewed this book, namely the Fantasy Book Critic, Graeme's Fantasy Review, and Pat. Pat also has an interview.
I don't normally go for gritty science fiction noir, but this one might be an exception.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Not since I read Thief With No Shadow have I read a book with such a unique plot. I am about 1/5th of the way through WIND FOLLOWER and I have no idea where it is heading.
The story moves at a leisurely-yet-engaging pace through a hasty courtship and marriage. While fantasy is usually rife with romance, marriages usually take place at the end, if at all. This is one reason why this book is so different. I cannot recall reading a single other fantasy where a protagonist was actually married.
Another interesting and unique thing about this book is that while the wife was not willing to marry, she ends up loving her husband. Fiction often makes arranged marriages out to be living nightmares. However, my real-life experience in talking with people who come from arranged marriages is that they are generally as happy as anyone else. The reason can probably be found in WIND FOLLOWER, where the wife has apparently decided to love the husband. This is my own impression and may not have been in line with the author's intention.
"How easy it is to bend to the will of a husband one is willing to love! Yes, from that night, I began to love him, and the more I loved him the more unsettled I became."
It seemed like on that night, she decided to love her husband and be happy with him. It is not romantic in the traditional sense. There is a sex scene which is not very sexy, and I suspect that was intentional.
Shortly before their marriage, Loic has a vision where he is offered a sword from heaven. He is offered it three times before he finally accepts it. Loic has no idea what this vision means, but I suspect it heralds the destruction of his wealthy father's house. This is just a guess.
I made a discovery that I probably should have noticed before. This novel has a gazetteer! Yes, it has all the tribes, houses, clothing styles, places, customs, language and much more, going on for almost a dozen pages. In recent years, I had not seen gazetteers as often as I did in the 80s; are they making a comeback? If so, then this is a welcome development.
Today I discovered this blog linked by Niall Harrison, the editor of Vector, which is the "critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association". While that in itself was a thrill, I discovered a cool feature at his blog, the "Open Thread". Since I sense a need for it here, I decided to create an open thread of my own, which follows this post. I will give it a permanent home in my sidebar tonight.
Posted by Tia Nevitt at 8:23 AM
If you have something to say or a question to ask and it doesn't fit anywhere else, you can either put it here or email me at tia dot nevitt at gmail dot com. I get email notifications for all comments, so I will try to respond quickly.
Posted by Tia Nevitt at 8:23 AM
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
WIND FOLLOWER by Carole McDonnell is written in alternating first person points-of-view. Each unnumbered chapter bears the name of its subject, a la George R. R. Martin. The point-of-view characters are Loic and Satha, who are, according to the cover blurb, soon to be husband and wife.
Many fantasies try to steep a reader into the alternate world by means of language. Few do it well. With WIND FOLLOWER, you can feel the culture through McDonnell's voice. Although it is in English, of course, it feels foreign. It feels like something utterly alien from modern-day western culture. You can almost smell the dust.
In the first chapter, young Loic watches his young friend and "age brother" stoned to death for refusing to worship the spirits. This chapter is very short and feels like a prelude. The second chapter switches to Satha, whose mother wishes to cause an "accidental" meeting with her husband's old friend. Her intentions are not difficult to guess; they are poor and the friend is rich. Satha is unwilling to go, but she must obey her mother. The friend has a young son named Loic, and the story picks up again at his point of view, where we see their first meeting through his eyes.
Normally, I don't find renditions of "love at first sight" to be very convincing. However, read this:
I must have been handsome in my younger days. Or perhaps it was merely my father's wealth. For many, many girls--oh, girls without number--would let their gyuiltas fall from their shoulders as I passed, allowing them to trail along the ground for me to retrieve. Such flirtations fascinated me, but my heart never leaped for any of those girls, pretty though they were. No, not until I saw Monua's daughter did my heart leap. As an Ibeni poet has said, "My heart leaped then, for love had leaped into my eyes." It was my first taste of love, and after such a small sip I was intoxicated, speechless, wanting nothing more than to devour her.
So far, WIND FOLLOWER is full of bold language like this. Not bold as in shocking, but bold as in emotions laid bare.
At first, I thought the characters' tendency to speechify was a flaw. However, by the third chapter I realized that this was intentional. The speeches invariably come from an older character to a younger. In the case of an old man speaking to Loic in a disrespectful manner about Satha, you can feel his impatience and anger. Indeed, as the reader, I felt it myself. Move on, old man! Let me go about my business! I have no wish to hear your drivel! In a culture where younger people must respect their elders, it appears that many elders take advantage of having a forced audience.
It's not a start that grabs you by the throat. However, I especially liked Satha and I'm especially curious to see how she responds to certain events that Loic just set into motion . . .
Monday, September 24, 2007
A day off work always involves my husband and I going to the bookstore. This time I went to Borders, armed with our digital camera. It occurred to me that I might have looked a tad bit unusual snapping photos of book after book after book. Fortunately, although I got some odd looks, I did not have to explain myself. Then, I decided that I need to get Fantasy Debut business cards. That way, if someone is curious enough to ask what I am doing, I can simply hand them a business card.
I took photos of every debut that I could find. Here they are!
I have not read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, but I couldn't resist getting a picture of it. It is one of the few hardcover debuts that I have seen since starting this blog.
Naomi Novik is another author who debuted before I started this blog. I am very interested in her series, however. Since her publisher released her books back to back, like Morgan Howell's, she commands some respectable shelf space!
I found The Princes of the Golden Cage readily enough, right where it was supposed to be, but imagine my surprise when . . .
. . . I also found it in the "Paperback Bestsellers" section as well, very prominently displayed!
The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombe was another that I expected, for some reason, to be out in hardcover. Probably because it is generating so much buzz. It is also thinner than I expected. This title has wandered on and off my wish list.
The Devil You Know by Mike Carey appeared in the Horror section, cover out. It's shiny cover prevented me from using my flash. It looks like a few copies are missing!
There were three bookshelves in this section. Two were devoted to Stephen King and Dean Koontz. The other shelves were for other horror authors.
Finally, they had You Had Me at Halo, by Amanda Ashby! Longtime readers of this blog will remember that I made three trips to the bookstore looking for this book. And notice that there's a gap, where a copy is missing. The gap is even wider, now.
Male readers will probably groan when I begin to feature this one.
This is the Morgan Howell section, showing copies of King's Property and Clan Daughter. In just a few days, the final book this this series, Royal Destiny, will make the Morgan Howell section even wider.
I announced Winterbirth by Brian Ruckley last week. It is another one that is generating some hardcover-worthy buzz. I plan to read a first chapter on this one sometime in the next week or so.
I might have purchased The Book of Joby by Mark J. Ferrari, but a review copy is supposed to be on its way. Since the review copy is rather overdue, I almost bought it, but knowing my luck, the review copy would have arrived the very next day!
Anyway, this is a nice placement, with the cover out. It stands out too, because of the white cover. I think at least one copy is missing.
Wraith by Phaedra Weldon has been out for a while, but I thought I'd snap a photo of it. It is sort of a dark urban fantasy detective series, mixing my two favorite genres.
Slaves of the Sinar by Justin Allen was another rare debut hardcover. It is still enjoying a prominent cover-out placement in the hardcover section.
Missing from the shelves were Matthew Jarpe's Radio Freefall, Richard Taylor's The Haunting of Cambria and Carole McDonnell's Wind Follower.
That's all I thought of while I was there; I know I missed a few.
Did I purchase all of these books? I wish!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Lane Robins has made another sale:
Lane Robins writing as Lyn Benedict's SYLVIE SHADOWS, an urban fantasy about a female P.I. working out of Miami who specializes in cases involving the supernatural, to Anne Sowards at Ace, plus a sequel, by Caitlin Blasdell at Liza Dawson Associates (NA).
Hat Tip: The Swivet.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Another recent Juno Books release by a debut author is BLOOD MAGIC by Matthew Cook. Here is the blurb:
Her sister was murdered, and Kirin hungers for revenge. Using the power of her "blood magic," the young necromancer creates grotesque and inhumanly strong creatures by calling men's souls back into their dead bodies. These "sweetlings," as she calls them, are utterly devoted to her, and Kirin cherishes them as if they were her own children. But while fighting a bloody war against a relentless enemy, she meets Lia Cho, a beautiful and gentle woman who can call the power of storms... and soon, Kirin learns that there is more to life than pain and vengeance.
You can download the first three chapters from the publisher's website. The author maintains a blog, which he regularly updates. I found a review by Chris Howard.
BLOOD MAGIC is the first mass-market paperback that Juno has published. I found an interview with Paula Guran, the editor of Juno books at Dee and dee Dish About Books. In addition, the latest Juno Books newsletter, not yet available on line, has this to say about BLOOD MAGIC:
We have two special requests for your help!
The first is to run out to your local chain store and buy copies of BLOOD MAGIC as soon as it hits the shelves. Why? Other than it is a terrific fantasy and we like to sell books, BLOOD MAGIC is our first mass market. The chain stores are stocking what we think is a minimal number or copies per store. We'd like those to disappear as soon as possible so they will see that they need to not only order more of BLOOD MAGIC, but to order more of all our mass markets to start with.
The idea behind going into mass market paperbacks is simple: we can usually get copies of our books into virtually every chain store as opposed to some copies in some of the stores as we do
with the trade paperbacks. We'd love to show them they need lots of copies in every store.
BLOOD MAGIC should be hitting shelves between September 7 and September 14. (We'll try to update you on the blog as to exactly when...and see the "Spot Blood Magic" contest below!)
You got to admire these small press books with large press ambitions. You now know what to do.! :)
Thursday, September 20, 2007
CLAN DAUGHTER lived up to the high expectations set by King's Property. I enjoyed it very much. In CLAN DAUGHTER, Dar has promised the orcs that she would take them home. Since they recognized her as a mother in King's Property, she becomes the authority figure. They set off to the north, and are in desperate straights because (1) the orcs must stay hidden and (2) they have no way of getting food.
The conflict between Dar and one of the other orcs continues to be her adversary. However, this situation unexpectedly resolves about 1/3 of the way through the book, leaving little conflict among the group. The novel never dragged, but the conflict made it a bit more exciting . . . for a while.
During their journeys, Dar meets an old man who was reborn as an orc, and the time she spends with him shapes the rest of the book. Eventually, her and Kovok-mah fall in love. This causes surprisingly little conflict with the rest of the group, but I could see it because the orcs regard her as an authority figure.
Eventually she meets other orcs and they make a journey from clan to clan. Here is where I encountered one of my few quibbles with the plot. Much is made of the fact that orcs cannot lie, and Kovok-mah cannot even seem to comprehend the meaning of a lie. However . . . few other orcs have this problem. I hate to say it, but it makes Kovok-mah seem simpleminded in comparison. Who knows . . . maybe he is supposed to be simpleminded. However, he has healing talents and he alone can speak fluent human, so that doesn't seem simpleminded to me.
Anyway, Dar keeps encountering deceit among the orcs and has a surprisingly hard time detecting it in orcs, even though they are supposed to be bad at it.
Eventually, her travels take her back to the king's army, where she reunites with both Koh and Sevren. Surprising things happen here; no longer are her visions plot spoilers at this point. During the final conflict, I did think that Dar did some foolish things, which seem all the more foolish because she behaved so wisely up to this point.
It was a good ending, where a conflict was resolved, where an unexpected death occurs, where Dar goes through a transformation, where Koh and the King's Mage get away, and where Sevren does something that I never expected. The final volume comes out in five days, and I imagine that a lot of people will be buying it. All in all, I think it was a good move on Del Rey's part to release the book in quick succession. Interest in the book will remain high because the first two books were so well-written.
It turns out that this series was only a quasi-debut -- the name is new but the author is not, since Morgan Howell is a pen name. The experience of the author probably explains its excellence. If this series holds up through book 3, then I think the name Morgan Howell will become quite well-known. Highly recommended.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I was glad when Carole McDonnell contacted me about her debut because it just looks so delightful. She has written WIND FOLLOWER (Canada) a multi-ethnic Christian fantasy. It is published by Juno Books, an imprint of Wildside Press. I will be posting more on Juno books in the next few days. Here is the blurb:
A fourth tribe has come to the land of the three tribes; the light-skinned newcomers are fated to change the tribes' way of life and religion. Satha, a dark-skinned woman from a poor Theseni clan, and Loic, her wealthy young Doreni husband, are too busy forging their new life together to pay much heed. But when Satha is dishonored and Loic must avenge her, they find themselves drawn into a cultural battle. Kidnapped and enslaved, Satha strives to retain her autonomy. Loic struggles against the Arkhai, spirits who fear his his quest will lead him to the true god whose place they have usurped. With the Creator's aid there remains hope they will be reunited and find their mutual destiny, even if it means losing the love and respect of their comrades, families, clans, and tribes.
Yes, I realize that I don't put cover art up for these announcements. However, I loved the art and could not resist.
Although the author calls it a Christian fantasy, it does not seem to take place in our world. Lots of fantasies on other worlds have Christian elements buried in the plot, both well-disguised and thinly veiled. Acacia is a recent example, but J. V. Jones's The Book of Words has a religion that appears to be based on Catholicism, and so does Elizabeth Haydon's Symphony of Ages. However, none of these overtly calls themselves a Christian fantasy. I am curious to see how Carole McDonnell handles this.
The author maintains a blog or three (thanks for the links, Carole!), plus a MySpace account. If you visit her website, be sure to scroll down; it looks like it ends, but it does not. There's an interview at Blogcritic's Magazine, a review at The Long and Short of It. You can read an excerpt here. I already read a longer excerpt (courtesy of Carole) and I'll be posting on it in a few days.
There is now a rather error-ridden review on WIND FOLLOWER in Publishers Weekly. Scroll almost all the way down. Also, during an email conversation with the author, she tells me that Juno does not accept overtly Christian fantasy, so if you've ever read Christian fantasy, this novel will not be typical of the genre. She also has a book trailer at YouTube.
Morgan Howell, aka Will Hubbell (the secret is out!), got my interview questions back in record time. Here they are; enjoy!
Your author bio is mysteriously scanty. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
First of all, Morgan is not a woman. Betsy, my editor, initially thought so, and I took it as a compliment. I studied art in college, so upon graduation ended up in the army. I spent nearly five years under arms, both as an enlisted man and an officer. I mention this because my experiences have influenced my fantasy writing. Upon discharge, I earned an MFA in photography and worked in public television, graphic design, and advertising. I started writing because I wanted to create children’s picture books, and to have complete artistic control, I needed to write the stories. Although I started out as a visual artist, I’ve become enthralled by written word.
Your bio does mention that you write full-time. Do you write nonfiction in addition to fiction? Advertising copy? Magazine articles? Something else entirely?
As many people have figured out, Morgan Howell is a pen name. I’ve written and illustrated three picture books under my real name, Will Hubbell. They are Pumpkin Jack, Apples Here!, and Snow Day Dance. Also, Ace Books has published two science fiction novels, Cretaceous Sea and Sea of Time, under my name. You can see some of Dar in the heroine of those two books, especially the second one.
My fantasy writing is different from my children’s writing, which is not dark at all, so I thought a pen name would be appropriate.
Did you try to sell QUEEN OF THE ORCS as one volume, or did you always intend it to be a trilogy? And how did it come to be published one month after another?
Queen of the Orcs started out as a single, long book in two parts. Before submitting it, I got it down to 140 thousand words through severe cuts. My editor had the idea of publishing it as a trilogy, and I’m extremely glad she did. It allowed me to expand the original concept and write Royal Destiny, which is my favorite book of the three. The original volume, with additions and changes, became the first two books.
Publishing the trilogy within three months was Del Rey’s idea, and I think it was a good one. As a reader, I’d hate to wait long to find out Dar’s fate. One reason I think they did it was because the first two books were essentially already written.
Please share with us what inspired you to write QUEEN OF THE ORCS.
I’ve always been fascinated by J.R.R.Tolkien’s orcs, and I thought it would be challenge to make them sympathetic. My rationale for the orcs’ nasty image was that they were in a position similar to Native Americans in the nineteenth century—their conquerors sought to define them.
I was also interested in writing a story in which a powerless person rises to authority. Throughout most of history, women have been second-class citizens, with men assuming superiority as their birthright. In many places, it’s still true today. As a character, Dar had to be more resourceful than any man simply to survive.
Finally, much of the orcs’ culture was inspired by my interest in the Haudenosaune, better known as the Iroquois. The women of their tribe had real power.
What is your favorite scene in the first two volumes of THE QUEEN OF THE ORCS?
This is the hardest question of all! I can’t pick just one, so I’ll cheat. In the King’s Property—When Dar forces the orcs to recognize her as a mother (“Steal this food! I will not give it to you!”); Teeg and Kol’s cynical conversation about Dar; Twea’s take to Dar’s new dress; and the wrenching aftermath of the final battle. In Clan Daughter—Kovok-mah in the vandalized nursery; Dar’s encounter with Velasa-pah; Dar and Muth Mauk on the hilltop; and—of course—the scene by the pool.
What scene gave you the most trouble?
The final battle in King’s Property took a lot of rewriting because battles are chaotic and confusing by their nature. It was difficult to convey that confusion while giving the reader a sense of what was going on.
Also writing in Orcish, both in the original and translation, was tough.
Can you give us a small teaser about the final volume, ROYAL DESTINY?
In Royal Destiny, the conflicts of the earlier books assume epic proportions. Everything is more intense. The orcs and the humans have a showdown. There’s more magic. Kol rises to the pinnacle of power. When Dar becomes fully immersed in orcish culture, forces within it rear up to oppose her, and she must deal with them as an orc. Not only do her human foes grow stronger, an otherworldly one does too. Velasa-pah has warned Dar that the bones are the true enemy, and this book shows why.
Have you finished any other novels besides the three volumes in QUEEN OF THE ORCS and can we expect to see them in print?
This month, I’ll finish writing the first volume of my next trilogy for Del Rey, The Shadowed Path. The story is set two centuries after Queen of the Orcs. While there are no orcs in this tale, the two trilogies are connected. At the heart of The Shadowed Path is this dilemma: If evil thrives on violence, how can force overcome it?
Publication dates for the trilogy have yet to be set.
Are you planning on setting up a website? A blog? A forum? A MySpace page? All of the above? In other words, can we expect for you to set up a web presence any time soon? And can you tell that we really want you to have a website? :)
Well, I’ve registered MORGANHOWELL.COM. It’s a start. My problem is I’d rather write than do promotion. I had my fill of that during my advertising days. However, I really do plan to start a website. Just as soon I finish the first book of The Shadowed Path.
Please share your publishing story and any writing advice that you may have.
There’s a reason why all the dedications to Queen of the Orcs include my muthvashi (wife), Carol Hubbell. She supported me through difficult times in every sense of the word. Writing can often be discouraging, and it’s a crazy way to try to earn a living. There’s only one good justification for doing it—because you simply must. I wrote Queen of the Orcs without a publisher because I had to get Dar’s story down. There were times when I thought only a handful of people would ever read it.
I write for my characters. I care deeply for them, even to the point of weeping over some. Fortunately, my studio is isolated, so I don’t upset anyone. My characters feel like my children—except they tend to listen to me—and I get great pleasure from sharing them with others.
* * *
Thanks, Will! I enjoyed your responses!
I finished CLAN DAUGHTER and will put my final post up on it tomorrow.
Monday, September 17, 2007
This week I plan to finish Clan Daughter, write an interview and send it to Morgan Howell. Hopefully, I will be able to post that soon. I am expecting The Book of Joby by Mark J. Ferrari in the mail any day now, but rather than jump into it right away, I'm going to do a few first chapter reviews. I already have my copy of Hot Mama by Jennifer Estep, and I plan to cover that in October, a few weeks ahead of its release in early November.
Kristin Britain, one of my debut authors from yesteryear, has another novel coming out in her Green Rider series called The High King's Tomb. I hope to get my hands on a copy soon. I have also begun to investigate October's debuts; my review calendar is never empty!
Posted by Tia Nevitt at 8:03 PM
Last week, WINTERBIRTH (UK, Canada) by Brian Ruckley made its debut. This is another British debut that I could have announced on the day of the debut with no shortage of linkage. Alas, events conspired against me. However, my Blog Brethren more than made up for my lapse with a flurry of posts that would make any author proud and excited.
It is a world of ice. It is a world of blood. It is a godless world.
An uneasy truce exists between the Thanes of the True Bloods.
Now, as another winter approaches, the armies of the Black Road march south, from their exile beyond the Vale of Stones. For some, war will bring a swift and violent death. Others will not hear the clash of swords or see the corpses strewn over the fields. They instead will see an opportunity to advance their own ambitions. But all, soon, will fall under the shadow that is descending.
For, while the storm of battle rages, one man is following a path that will awaken a terrible power in him – and his legacy will be written in blood.Fantasy and SciFi Lovin' Book Review, Fantasy Book Critic (who is having an awesome giveaway that includes WINTERBIRTH), Ken's famous Questions Five over at NethSpace along with a review, interviews by Graeme, Aidan and the Book Swede and a review by Pat, which includes a link to his own interview.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I'm feeling profoundly lazy today, and judging from my Google Reader, many of my fellow bloggers are feeling the same way. Or perhaps the start of school has everyone thinking of something other than blogging.
However, I'll try to rustle up another post about CLAN DAUGHTER soon because it looks like something very interesting and rather unexpected is about to happen.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Ok, I admit it. CLAN DAUGHTER has been sharing reading time with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Yes, I'm finally reading it, a month after everyone else has read it. What can I say? I can hardly be expected to only read debuts!
Speaking of debuts, The Book of Joby will probably be my next featured debut. A review copy is on its way to me. Since I'll probably finish CLAN DAUGHTER before then, I'll try to get some first chapter reviews in. I haven't done any in a while.
Thanks to Harry Potter, I'm only about 1/4th of the way through CLAN DAUGHTER. However, Harry has gotten so infuriating that I do believe I will set it aside for a while.
The story -- CLAN DAUGHTER, that is -- continues to take twists and turns that cannot possibly be anticipated. Dar's ability to see visions make it difficult to tell what she is experiencing is real or a vision. There has been a change of mood for the better among herself and her orc companions; I'll not say any more than that since I don't want to give anything away for those who are interested in reading the first book.
I was thinking earlier about the other tightly character-focused stories that I have read and how Dar compares with them. In previous posts, I have mentioned Ayla from Clan of the Cave Bear and Paks from The Deed of Paksenarrion. To those I will add another, Lancelot from The Once and Future King. (In my opinion, T. H. White had Lancelot steal the show from Arthur. I quite fell in love with him, even though he had the face of a baboon. I'm making myself want to reread it -- it has been many, many years.) Each of these three displayed character strength and likability, but they also had something that I have not yet seen in Dar -- vulnerability. For those three characters, the vulnerability transformed the like into love.
For Ayla, she was just a girl. One's heart went out to her the first time she dared touch the Mog-Ur's face. Since she never fit in among the Clan; one could not help but to love her. For Paks, she did not seem particularly vulnerable until the second book, when she lost her courage. And at the beginning of book three, when she found herself back in Brewersbridge -- well, that part of the story always got me choked up. And for Lancelot, his vulnerability was his tendency for his emotions to quite literally drive him insane. I think he had two episodes of being a "wild man" in the woods. And when he is given his miracle, that's powerful stuff.
I have not read anything so far that compares to any of the above, but the fact that Howell has me making these comparisons means that I think the potential is there.
I won't promise no more Harry Potter until I finish CLAN DAUGHTER, but I'll try to finish by the end of the weekend.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I was going to announce the DEATH WIZARD CHRONICLES by Jim Melvin last week, but I decided to give a few more days for links to accumulate. I'm glad I did because a few more links popped up, including a write-up in the Independent Mail, an upcoming signing at Pendleton Books and an appearance at the Times Festival of Reading(scroll down). Not bad for a small press novel! The author has a listing of readings and signings on his website.
Only a Death-Knower can die.--- And live again. Only a Death-Knower can return from death.--- And remember. Only a Death-Knower can tell us what he has seen.--- Not all care to listen. Torg, the Death-Knower wizard, is imprisoned in a horrifying pit bored into the solid rock of a frozen mountain. His captor is Invictus, the evil sorcerer whose power threatens to engulf the land in eternal darkness. Torg spends twenty-two days in agony before making his dramatic escape and setting off on a series of adventures that will change the fate of the planet Triken.
Rain Publishing has an excerpt available online, with a somewhat distracting watermark. The author has made a much more readable excerpt available here. (I must say, Rain Publishing puts a lot more information online than some major publishers.) I was curious about Rain Publishing, so I looked around on their website. They have a number of bookstores that they are working with, mostly in Canada and California. The list appears to be longer than it was the last time I looked.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
In keeping with my plan of featuring the first two books in QUEEN OF THE ORCS as one, I am now moving on to CLAN DAUGHTER. I am now on chapter 3.
It begins right where it left off. The dead still litter the hillside where the battle took place in KING'S PROPERTY. Dar is on the run with five orcs. One is her friend, three think of her as some sort of mother-authority figure and one tried to kill her twice in the previous book. But they all still follow her -- for now.
I was pleased to see the return of a character that I thought was written out of the series at the end of the first book.
Dar has found herself the leader of her little band of orcs. She is in enemy territory, but she is no longer under the threat of beheading for being caught away from the army. So she's still in plenty of trouble.
I never commented on either covers, so I will do so now. I liked the cover of KING'S PROPERTY better. Her face was more indistinct and mysterious-seeming. With CLAN DAUGHTER, we can see her face clearly, and it is lacking the brand that should be on her forehead. I don't know if that was an omission on the artist's part of if it means that at some point in the future, her brand will somehow become healed.
HERO by Perry Moore (UK, Canada) is a YA novel that made its debut at the end of August. Somehow I missed putting this one on my debut calendar. Thanks to the Swivet for reminding me of its existence! Here is the blurb:
Thom Creed is used to being on his own. Even as a high school basketball star, he has to keep his distance because of his father. Hal Creed had once been one of the greatest and most beloved superheroes of The League-until the Wilson Towers incident. After that Thom's mother disappeared and his proud father became an outcast.
The last thing in the world Thom would ever want is to disappoint his father. So Thom keeps two secrets from him: First is that he's gay. The second is that he has the power to heal people. Initially, Thom had trouble controlling his powers. But with trail and error he improves, until he gets so good that he catches the attention of the League and is asked to join. Even though he knows it would kill his dad, Thom can't resist. When he joins the League, he meets a motley crew of other heroes, including tough-talking Scarlett, who has the power of fire from growing up near a nuclear power plant; Typhoid Larry, who makes everyone sick by touching them, but is actually a really sweet guy; and wise Ruth, who has the power to see the future. Together these unlikely heroes become friends and begin to uncover a plot to kill the superheroes. Along the way, Thom falls in love, and discovers the difficult truth about his parents' past.
The author is the same Perry Moore who was the executive producer of the recent The Chronicles of Narnia movie. Wikipedia has an entry on him that is quite informative. This novel is getting a lot of attention from places like, oh the New York Times (registration/purchase required) and Newsweek. I found a lot of skimpy blog reviews that wanted to "reserve judgement", but there's a good one at a blog called the Ya Ya Yas ("all YA, all the time" - I loved that tagline because it was somewhat familiar :).
It was impossible to wake up this morning without thinking of this:
Posted by Tia Nevitt at 8:48 AM
Monday, September 10, 2007
Every once in a while, a novel comes along with a character that I absolutely love. Dar, in Morgan Howell's KING'S PROPERTY, is such a character. She is fierce, protective, passionate, scarred, loyal, and wise.
The characterization was the strongest point in KING'S PROPERTY. The plot is fairly linear and straightforward. It holds few surprises, with one or two exceptions. There is no suspense here, no surprising plot twists and no tangled-up intrigue. However, it is the characters that kept me reading and made me glad that I have a copy of the second book.
The ending was foreseen by Dar, which was why there were few surprises. The manner in which her visions came about, however, could not be predicted. I liked the way Howell mixes superstition and magic so you cannot tell the difference. In one scene, a number or orcs who survived a battle were convinced that they survived because of a blessing Dar gave them. In a later scene, she acts on this superstition to bless the orcs again.
The conflict between Dar and the Murdant Koh is unresolved by the end of the novel. A hint of what might be a romance has sprung up between Dar and a human man named Sevren. I say "might" because the one kiss that she does give him seems like a thank-you kiss more than anything else. The strongest-developed male is her orcish friend and protector, Kovok-mah. By the end of the book, it is clear that Kovok-mah will follow her anywhere.
The ending of KING'S PROPERTY marks a major turning point in the plot, but it is certainly not the end. If this were all in one volume, I would have expected to turn the page and see PART TWO at this point. I suspect that this will not bother many fantasy fans, who are accustomed to long-running series.
I truly loved KING'S PROPERTY and I highly recommend it.
Posted by Tia Nevitt at 9:20 AM
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Showing that vampire novels are still in style, BLOOD IS THE NEW BLACK (Canada, UK -- not yet available) debuted last week by Valerie Stivers. Judging from the cover, this novel appears to be more comic than angsty.
When nice-girl Kate McGraw finds herself working at Tasty, a magazine with its finger on the pulse of modern style, she’s finally able to put her flair for fashion to good use. But can she keep up with the Tasty staffers? Ethereally beautiful and extremely emaciated, they stay out all night, never look the worse for wear, and are always dressed to kill.
Like everyone else around the office, Kate finds herself begrudgingly reading dispatches from a snarky industry blog that dubs her colleagues “bloodthirsty vamps.” She knows they don’t mean it literally, but . . . she’s heard whispers of “fashion murders” and she has noticed strange things around the office: Like, why doesn’t her boss get laminates to fix her sharp teeth? Why are the blinds always drawn, and why is there a no-garlic policy in the cafeteria?
As well-dressed bodies begin to pile up near all the hot places, Kate has to wonder if there’s a serial killer loose with a grudge against the stylish. Or if the truth is even more sinister: Are Kate’s coworkers actually undead? And, if so, can she design an exit strategy before she finds herself at Tasty forever?
Comparisons with Buffy abound, but I must admit that I am almost completely unfamiliar with Buffy. I never got into the vampire thing. I came a bit too early for that, as I'm actually (shocking!) over 40. When I was a kid the "prep" look was briefly in style. Does anyone remember that? It was the clean-cut look gone overboard. And then after that -- or perhaps because of that -- the "mohawk" look became trendy. By the time valley girls were "fer-shering", I was ready to get my diploma.
Well, now that I've completely discredited myself with my younger readers, I'll continue.
A New York gossip site called Gawker has taken note of this debut, with two short articles, probably because of the author's background in magazine writing and editing. But other than reviews by HK, I'm not finding much online review coverage. I dug up a review at Publishers Weekly but not much else. If you know of any other reviews for this novel, please let me know!
Man, this blog is a big job sometimes. I have a lot planned, including two debut announcements from last week, an interview with Morgan Howell that I haven't even written yet, the wrap-up for King's Property, plus I think I missed a debut from August. Over Labor Day weekend (last weekend) I had family in town and was very busy with them and it still seems like I have not caught up.
Over at Nathalie Mallet's blog, she has a post up pointing to some truly entertaining audio files of the first three chapters. I love that guy's deep voice and sense of drama! After listening to the samples of Princes and Acacia, I may just have to start buying audio books. That way, I can listen to books while I am working. (Oops; did I say that?)
And I added a new wiget that shows the books that I am thinking about reading next.
Posted by Tia Nevitt at 3:49 PM
Saturday, September 8, 2007
I'm going to gush about KING'S PROPERTY by Morgan Howell. It's that good. This novel is competing for my attention with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I finally got a copy of, and it is winning.
I'm about three quarters of the way through. Dar has proven herself to be smart, protective, self-sacrificing and savvy. I enjoy stories that focus tightly on one character. Like The Deed of Paksenarrion, KING'S PROPERTY only occasionally leaves Dar's point of view. There are many similarities with the Deed; I can see why Elizabeth Moon blurbed this novel. Moon was able to make me shed actual tears over Paks. We will see of Howell can do the same.
There is a nail-biting conflict between Dar and one of her commanders, the Murdant Koh, which reminds me of the main conflict in another character-focused story, Clan of the Cave Bear. Like Ayla's conflict with Broud, Koh lives to torture Dar. However, Broud was not inherently evil; Koh is. He is willing to hurt others, even the very innocent, to get to Dar.
Like many novels I've read of late, the fantasy element -- except for fantastic creatures -- is slight. Only now is Dar starting to experience the visions alluded to in the cover blurb.
The orc society is extremely well thought-out. Dar is learning the orcish language and the reader is learning it along with Dar. Yet the language doesn't overwhelm the plot. When two orcs speak together, their speech even feels alien.
For a while, I thought that I found a flaw in the book. It appeared to me that too many humans, especially male humans, were absolute scum. However, he rectified this and now I am once again hard-pressed to find any flaws.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Nathalie was kind enough to answer ten questions for Fantasy Debut.
According to your blog, you based the world of PRINCES on the Ottoman Turk's Kafes system, which you learned about on a documentary. However, your writing betrays a significant amount of research on the Ottoman culture. You appeared to have researched everything from the type of clothing worn by different social classes to the type of pastries that were popular. How much research did you have to do to write so convincingly? Did you go to Istanbul to see the Kafes for yourself?
I did quite a bit of research, which for me isn’t a chore at all because I have a true passion for history and culture. As for visiting Istanbul, I wish I could say that I had. By all accounts, it is a fabulous city. No, what I did instead is use the Topkapi palace’s virtual tour set up by the Republic of Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. (One can also download a very detailed map of the palace. A very helpful tool when you’re building your own imaginary palace.)
All the other details I found in books and websites. I conducted my research in two waves: the first I did before starting the book and the second, more specific that one, when I had two drafts penned down. By then I knew what I was missing or wanted to add to the story to give it its Arabian Night flavor.
The pastry-eating demons were my favorite. How can you hate a demon who likes sugar? Did you make that up or did it come out of legend? And if it did come out of legend, which one? And if you did make it up, how on earth did you think of such a thing?
Glad you loved it, Tia. The idea didn’t come from a legend but from one of many folklore and mythical books I read—I can’t recall which one it actually came from though. Anyway, these volumes are seeded with little-known facts concerning mythical creatures. Djinn, for example, are known to relish eating bones and to be allergic to salt. I found only one mention of these creatures craving sweets. It was enough. The image of a powerful winged demon stuffing his face with pastry was just too appealing to pass up. I had to use it, even though it was never specified what type of demon it was—one of the pleasures of writing fantasy it that it allows you the freedom to take small liberties with things.
What is your favorite scene in THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE?
I’m really fond of the scene where the kitchen’s old servant tells Amir about the different kinds of honey. I also love all the scenes involving Amir and Darius, especially the one where Amir, disguised as a baker, is rescued by Darius.
What scene gave you the most trouble?
In the first chapter, the scene where Amir looks out the window, wishing he was free. It wasn’t a difficult scene to write in itself. But at this stage in the story you need to give background info on your protagonist and on the world he’s living in. At the same time one doesn’t want to kill the pacing of the story and bore the reader with this. Then again, not clarifying these points can lead to confusion. It’s a juggling act. Amir’s secret meetings with the Princess were also a bit challenging. I didn’t want the story to become too “romancy”, so I had to be careful to keep this aspect of the story under control.
Can you give us a small teaser about the sequel, KING'S DAUGHTER and can you tell us the release date, if you know it and are permitted to say?
THE KING’S DAUGHTERS has a Russian inspired setting. Yep, I went from burning hot desert to a cold snowy landscape. For Amir, who has never stepped out of the luxurious comfort of the cage, this is quite a shock.
Now free to see the world, Amir travels to the frozen kingdom of Sorvinka to meet the King. The trip is most unpleasant; this land is harsh, cold and infested with brigands. Sadly, things only get worse once he arrives at the King’s castle. Amir discovers that he has made a terrible diplomatic faux pas. Devastated, he fears he will never gain the King’s approval. But when he learns that the King’s youngest daughter has disappeared, Amir sees some hope. Perhaps if he can solve this mystery, he may win the King’s esteem.
The tone of KING’S is quite different than PRINCES. A fish-out-of-water tale, it’s fast and filled with humor. Also the fantasy, magic and mythical elements will play bigger roles in the sequel. THE PRINCES, was Amir’s introduction to magic, so to speak. Nothing will ever be the same for him now.
The King’s Daughters is coming for summer 2008
Is this an open-ended series? If not, can you say how many books you plan on writing in this world?
Right now I have plots for eight books, but I would love to do ten in all.
Have you finished any other novels besides PRINCES and KING'S DAUGHTER and can we expect to see them in print?
I have a couple more—all science fiction. There is no plan to market those for now. At the moment, my priority is to develop and promote the Prince Amir Mystery series.
Do you have a day job, or are you in the author's nirvana of writing full-time?
Pure nirvana! I don’t have a day job…at the moment.
How often must you remove a bear from under your patio (as mentioned in your bio)? And how do you go about it? Here in Florida, we must summon an alligator removal service for similar alarming situations. Are there such services for bears in Canada?
Conservation Officers usually take care of it. Unfortunately, bears tend to come back, and that can spell trouble for them. Our bear didn’t come back because we blocked the access to the nest he made underneath our patio and got rid of the blueberry bush that had attracted him in our yard in the first place.
Please share your publishing story and any writing advice that you may have.
I always wanted to write. Throughout the years, I made several attempts at writing, but life got in the way, and I could never finish a novel. Back then my priorities were different. (What can I say, I like pretty things.) When I decided that it was time to make the plunge, I quit my job and put all my energy into my writing—I’m an all-or-nothing type of person. It drives my husband crazy.
Well, the first thing I did was to write a story, a sci-fi action-adventure called The Digging Crew, which included all the elements that frightened me, such as moving large groups of people within one scene, fast action, etc. Once that novel was completed, I set it aside and wrote PRINCE then started other projects. A friend of mine read my first novel and encouraged me to send it out. I did, and it was picked up by an e-book publisher, which wound up closing its doors soon after the novel’s release date, so the book got reviewed but was never really out. Still, I thought it was a good omen. By then we were moving to another city, so THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE stayed in a box for eight months until I was ready to send it out to agents. A couple months later, I was signing with Jenny Rapapport, now of the L. Perkins Agency. Shortly after Jenny called me with the news that Night Shade Books were interested in THE PRINCES, and that they would like a sequel. I was jumping for joy!
Read and read some more! Write and rewrite! Be persistent! The writers who get published are the ones who do not quit. Rejection is part of this business, so shrug it off and continue.
Thank you again!
I've noticed Fantasy Debut blogrolled in a number of places and I wanted to send out my thanks!
Odd Characters (a longtime blog buddy)
Amanda's Writing Diary (Author of YOU HAD ME AT HALO)
Joely Sue Burkhart (author of SURVIVE MY FIRE)
EM Sky/Straight from the Barrel
100 Bloggers (a lovely shout-out)
Pieces on Speculative Fiction (which surprise! has another THE BLADE ITSELF review)
Adventures in Reading
The Fabulous SQT
The Prolific Katie's Reading (who has become a regular commenter)
SciFiChick (AKA "The Queen")
Plus, another discovery: the Genre Files!
Normally I wait a few days to let links accumulate before announcing a debut. My goal is not to be the first, but the most comprehensive. Well, there is no need to wait before announcing THE BLADE ITSELF (Canada, UK) by Joe Abercrombie which releases today (Pyr), because this book has generated a lot of buzz. I even got in on the excitement when I put up a post on the opening chapters back in August. Here is the blurb:
"The blade itself incites to deeds of violence." Homer
Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught up in one feud too many, he's on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian, leaving nothing behind but some bad songs, a few dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.
Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends as cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.
Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a jar. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendships. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government... if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.
Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood. Unpredictable, compelling, wickedly funny, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Blade Itself is fantasy with a real cutting edge.
Joe Abercrombie has a well-put-together website which includes (of course) a lively blog, an amusing bio (he's a young pup!) and the other usual stuff.
Many of my fellow bloggers have already reviewed this book, such as the Bookie Monster, the Gravel Pit, the Fantasy Hotlist, A Dribble of Ink and the Wertzone (hope that's everyone), plus Fantasy Book Critic is reading it now. Don't even get me started on the bloggers that I don't know who are reviewing it! Other reviews include SFFWorld, SF Site, BBT Magazine, Strange Horizons and lots more. Interviews include A Dribble of Ink and the Fantasy Hotlist and probably a lot more.
What this all comes down to is that Joe Abercrombie (at last! I can spell his name!) probably does not need the coverage that my blog can provide. But what the heck. I'll probably feature it anyway. How can I resist? Everyone I know has read it and I want in on the fun. It has the added advantages of 1) not being too expensive and 2) being written by a friendly author. So unless I change my mind, look for it in the coming weeks.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
I'm halfway through KING'S PROPERTY and I am enjoying this book a lot. I have to admit that I cannot think of a single critique. The novel starts tightly behind Dar's eyes, and remains there except for very brief glimpses of the two males in her life, the Murdant (a title similar to sergeant) Kol and the orc warrior Kovok-mah.
It begins with strangers on horseback visiting Dar's village. Strangers on horseback always mean trouble in her experience, and this is no exception. Dar must leave with them, for she has been sold into a dismal slavery, where she must serve the orc army for the rest of her life.
Dar spends some time crying, but not much. She soon realizes that the human camp-followers who tag along with the orc are the very worst that humanity has to offer, and that she can gain some level of protection among the orcs. She also gains some tentative friendship among her fellow female slaves. However, she comes to terms with something that none of her fellow humans manage to figure out: she is stuck with the orcs for the rest of her life. The brand on her forehead means that it is death for her to try to escape. Therefore, she makes the best of it by trying to learn orc ways.
She wins my admiration in her treatment of her fellow slaves, especially a pregnant one. The Murdant Kol is a rather chilling character. Kovok-mah, who befriends Dar, is fascinating.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I did a web search for one of my debut authors the other day and received a Not Found error. I did a web search today -- hoping the author had put up a website -- and discovered that the potential domain has now been taken over by a domain squatter. If the author now wants to register that site now, s/he will probably have to shell out big bucks. I feel bad about this.
These domain squatters watch for failed address searches and they will register them in the hopes of making money. Unfortunately, the author's readers are probably entering the author's name in their address box, thus generating traffic and making that name all the more valuable to the domain squatter, who will then keep the name hostage. They use a practice called Domain Tasting, as explained on the ICANN Wiki:
Because there is a 5 day grace period which for returning and receiving a refund on a domain, registrants are utilizing this to register domains, test them for traffic and keep the domains which are monetizable. This approach has the potential to be particularly lucrative and low risk because these businesses can test the residual traffic of a domain name before paying for it. In addition, the registrant can benefit from any residual income from the traffic received during the five day period even if the domain is refunded.
If the author does nothing for five days, the squatter may lose interest. However, if the author's web address generates enough traffic, then the squatter will simply keep the domain. I am deliberatly being anonymous because I don't want to send traffic through the domain. If you have guessed who I mean, please don't visit the website; you will only be making more money for the squatter.
Anyone who makes a publishing deal should immediately register both their name and the title of their book. It's cheap and in many cases free. At places like Microsoft Live Office, you can get a free domain and some editing tools that allow you to create a fairly nice website.
Also, when you go to register your domain, be ready to buy it right then. Do not do a search for it then wait to buy it. Domain squatters will purchase the domains out from under you if you delay. I may not be a published novelist, but I have owned domains before and as soon as I let them out of my control, they were snapped up by squatters instantaneously. Fortunately I did not want my domains back and the squatters eventually lost interest. But a squatter will not let go of the address of a published author who regularly generates web traffic.
I feel bad about this because I had the opportunity of purchasing this author's domain just a few days ago. Then, I could have simply given it to the author. The next time I encounter the unclaimed domain of a new author, I may buy it just to keep it out of the hands of domain squatters.
Posted by Tia Nevitt at 8:20 PM
Nathalie Mallet has agree to an interview! Since I know that Remy recently interviewed her, I'll have to review his questions in order to avoid being repetitive.
For the next featured debut, I'll be doing something a little different. Since Del Rey provided the first two books in the QUEEN OF THE ORCS trilogy, and since I am already halfway through the first book, and since the entire trilogy is being released one month after another, I have decided to feature both books, KING'S PROPERTY and CLAN DAUGHTER as one. Look for the updated graphic and weblinks in the next day or so.
Posted by Tia Nevitt at 7:41 PM
Monday, September 3, 2007
Reading THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE came at a good time for me. I was in the mood for something lighter. Every once in a while, I like reading what I think of as literary bonbons. Something not too intense. PRINCES fit the bill. It provided a suspenseful good time, yet Nathalie Mallet did not pile on too much tension. The balance was just right and the plot did not drag anywhere. Sometimes, I think authors can overdo it in either direction. You reach a point where you think, "Oh, please!" and you just want to throw the book across the room. That did not happen with PRINCES.
Through the process of elimination, I was able to figure out who the villain was ahead of time. But, to Mallet's credit, I didn't figure it out too far ahead of time. The position of a certain name in a registry made me think "Hmm," but I didn't put it all together until a certain other character was definitely eliminated. Plus, there were many other surprises in the ending that I did not see coming, but which made sense after-the-fact.
PRINCES is a delightful little mystery story that takes place in an intriguing and exotic setting. It is somewhat light on fantasy, except for fantastic creatures. I don't think I saw the actual working of a spell anywhere in the book (although you do see the results of such spells). The ending of the conflict is just the sort of ending that I am a sucker for. Overconfidence in villains and self-comeuppance -- gotta love it.
I did have some quibbles. The punctuation could have been more tightly copyedited, especially where question marks are concerned. When a question ends with a period or a comma, I usually think, "Huh?" and I go back to reread to be sure it was a question. Also, there were a few too many instances of "Ohhh!", "OUFF", "Yewww!" and other phonetically rendered vocalizations for my taste.
Mallet did a good job making me like Prince Amir, Erik, Darius and even poor Jafer. The princess was not really around long enough for me to form a strong impression of her. I also liked Erik's servant. Erik's complete faith in him made for a nice mini-mystery in a setting where servants are usually not to be trusted.
Mallet did a fabulous job in weaving together intricate bits of information and bringing them all together in the ending. I always have admiration for writers who can pull this off. This is the sort of book that I like to reread in order to see if I can spot clues as I go along. I did wish that a certain other prince didn't have to die. It would have provided for interesting conflict over the succession of the throne, but it also probably would have dragged the ending out too much.
If you like a lot of drama, angst and gritty writing, then THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE is probably not for you. But if you're in the mood for a light mystery-fantasy that is a fast read, then you will probably enjoy it.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
I've fallen a little behind due to a cold and a general sluggish feeling, but the rest of the three-day weekend ought to give me a chance to catch up. ONE FOR SORROW by Christopher Barzak made its debut on Tuesday the 28th. Here is the blurb:
Adam McCormick had just turned fifteen when the body was found in the woods. It is the beginning of an autumn that will change his life forever. Jamie Marks was a boy a lot like Adam, a boy no one paid much attention to, a boy almost no one would truly miss. And for the first time, Adam feels he has a purpose. Now, more than ever, Jamie needs a friend. But the longer Adam holds onto Jamie’s ghost, the longer he keeps his friend tethered to a world where he no longer belongs…and the weaker Adam’s own ties to the living become. Now, to find his way back, Adam must learn for himself what it truly means to be alive.
The author's weblog appears to serves as his website and he also keeps a Myspace page. He also has included the short story that inspired ONE FOR SORROW. La Gringa has been doing a lot of posts featuring the author, including this interview. The 28th was Barzak Day in the Blogosphere, as chronicled by Mumpsimus, who put up a slew of links. There are more links here. This novel is certainly generating a lot of buzz! Reviews include The Village Voice, Tales from the Rest Belt and at Publishers Weekly (scroll almost halfway down).
Saturday, September 1, 2007
Reading THE PRINCES OF THE GOLDEN CAGE is like reading with your eyebrows perpetually raised. A visit to one's brother might end in a duel. Alliances form and dissolve with each setting sun. Powerful brothers turn out to be cowards. Even romance is not straightforward.
I'm about 3/4ths of the way through. I have a few quibbles, but I'll keep them for the final review. So far it is a very entertaining story which keeps one wondering what happens next!