Guest Post: An Annotated Chapter of RAVENCRY by Ed McDonald (Gollancz/Ace)

McDonaldE-AuthorPicWhen I was asked to provide a first chapter critique of my own book, I thought that this was an excellent way to explain the way that my own writing craft works, and to point out the level of complexity that comes into play through many rounds of editing.

I think that I have to stress that the first chapter did not look like this at the end of the first draft. So many of the details, the events, even the character of Levan Ost, all changed multiple times during the editing process. These were the details and events that remained when the dust settled.

Throughout this text I’ve interrupted the narrative to point out why I made particular decisions. Everything in this chapter is a conscious choice, and hopefully I’ve been able to explain why I made some of them. Writing is a deeply personal and individual craft and no two people’s are the same. These were the right choices for me.

It should be noted that although there are no direct spoilers in my commentary, if you’ve not read RAVENCRY yet, then I will be pointing out particular details that are specifically of interest later in the book.

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Interview with SIMON R. GREEN

GreenSR-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Simon R. Green?

Simon R. Green is the New York Times best-selling author of over sixty novels, two collections of short stories, and wrote the screenplay for the film Judas Ghost. He rides motorcycles, acts in open air Shakespeare productions, and has worked as a Chippendale. (Not all of those may be entirely true.)

Your latest novel, Night Fall, will be published by Ace in June. It’s the final novel in your Secret Histories series. How would you introduce the series to a potential reader? What can fans of the series expect from the finale?

Night Fall ties together my two main series. The Nightside books, which feature a private eye operating in the Twilight Zone solving cases of the weird and uncanny; and the Secret Histories books, featuring the very secret agent, Shaman Bond. The Nightside is a film noir world, full of shadey characters. The Secret Histories was all about punishing the bad guys. So when these two worlds go to war… The body count is going to be amazing. But this book also features characters from my other series, like the Ghost Finders, Hawk & Fisher, Drinking Midnight Wine, and Shadows Fall. So essentially, this books stars everybody, and guest stars everybody else. Continue reading

Upcoming: PRIEST OF BONES by Peter McLean (Jo Fletcher Books/Ace)

McLean-PriestOfBonesUKIn October, Jo Fletcher Books (UK) and Ace Books (US) are due to publish the new novel by Peter McLeanPriest of Bones. The first novel in the author’s new series, The War of the Rose Throne, I think it sounds great. This has been variously described as a must for fans of Mark Lawrence, Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch. I think, given the synopsis, I think I’d add Daniel Polansky to that list (his Low Town series looks to me to be in the similar sub-genre of fantasy crime/noir). Here’s the synopsis:

‘Sixty-five thousand battle-shocked, trained killers came home to no jobs, no food and the plague. What did Her Majesty think was going to happen?’

Tomas Piety takes his duties seriously: as a soldier, as a priest of Our Lady of Eternal Sorrows and as a leader of men. He has come home from the war to reclaim his family business, to provide for his men and to ensure the horrors of Abingon can never happen in Ellinburg.

But things have changed: his crime empire has been stolen and the people of Ellinburg — his people — have run out of food and hope and places to hide. With his best friend Bloody Anne, his war-damaged brother Jochan and his new gang, the Pious Men, Tomas sets out to reclaim what was his.

And as Tomas is dragged into a web of political intrigue by the sinister Queen’s Men, forced to work against the foreign infiltrators lurking in the backstreet taverns, brothels and gambling dens of the Stink, one thing becomes clear.

The war has just begun.

I think this sounds great. Really looking forward to reading it. McLean’s first series, The Burned Man, is published by Angry Robot Books.

Also on CR: Interview with Peter McLean (2015)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: RAVENCRY by Ed McDonald (Ace/Gollancz)

McDonaldE-2-Ravencry

This is the sequel to Ed McDonald‘s very well-received debut, Blackwing. Featuring a bleak, grimdark post-apocalyptic world and an interesting magic system and cast of characters, I’m quite looking forward to continuing Galharrow’s story. Ravencry is due to be published by Ace Books (US) and Gollancz (UK), here’s the synopsis:

For Ryhalt Galharrow, working for Crowfoot as a Blackwing captain is about as bad as it gets — especially when his orders are garbled, or incoherent, or impossible to carry out.

The Deep Kings are hurling fire from the sky, a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady had begun to manifest in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for power while the city burns around them.

Galharrow may not be able to do much about the cult – or about strange orders from the Nameless — but when Crowfoot’s arcane vault is breached and an object of terrible power is stolen, he’s propelled into a race against time to recover it. Only to do that, he needs answers, and finding them means travelling into nightmare: to the very heart of the Misery.

Also on CR: Interview with Ed McDonald (2017)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Interview with DJANGO WEXLER

WexlerD-AuthorPicWelcome back to Civilian Reader. For new readers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is Django Wexler?

Hmm. Fantasy novelist, games enthusiast, student of history and economics, once and future programmer, cat wrangler. Something like that?

Your latest novel, The Infernal Battalion, will be published by Ace in January. It’s the fifth novel in your Shadow Campaigns series. How would you introduce the series to a new reader, and what can fans of the first four books expect from this new novel?

The Shadow Campaigns is military fantasy set in a Napoleonic world – muskets, cannon, cavalry, and subtle and hidden magic. It follows the spectacular career of Janus bet Vhalnich, a young officer who rises fast amidst a revolution, focusing on the men and women who follow him and where their loyalties truly lie. Continue reading

Quick Review: BLACKWING by Ed McDonald (Gollancz/Ace)

A promising debut grimdark fantasy

You think you know Misery? You’ve not seen anything yet…

The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow’s Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow and a mysterious noblewoman must investigate a long dead sorcerer’s legacy. But there is a conspiracy within the citadel: traitors, flesh-eaters and the ghosts of the wastelands seek to destroy them, but if they cannot solve the ancient wizard’s paradox, the Deep Kings will walk the earth again, and all will be lost.

The war with the Eastern Empire ended in stalemate some eighty years ago, thanks to Nall’s ‘Engine’, a wizard-crafted weapon so powerful even the Deep Kings feared it. The strike of the Engine created the Misery — a wasteland full of ghosts and corrupted magic that now forms a No Mans Land along the frontier. But when Galharrow investigates a frontier fortress, he discovers complacency bordering on treason: then the walls are stormed, and the Engine fails to launch. Galharrow only escapes because of the preternatural magical power of the noblewoman he was supposed to be protecting. Together, they race to the capital to unmask the traitors and restore the republic’s defences. Far across the Misery a vast army is on the move, as the Empire prepares to call the republic’s bluff.

Blackwing is one of the most hotly-anticipated debut fantasy novels of the year. Social media and the blogosphere have been filled with glowing reviews, squees and other evidence that suggests the hype has been entirely justified. There’s a lot in here that will certainly appeal to plenty of fantasy fans. However, I ultimately came away from this novel underwhelmed. Continue reading

Interview with ED McDONALD

McDonaldE-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Ed McDonald?

Hello! That would be me. I’m an author, swordsman, medieval historian, lecturer, husband, reader, and gamer.

Your debut novel, Blackwing, will be published by Gollancz. It’s been getting quite a bit of pre-publication buzz. How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Blackwing is the first part of The Raven’s Mark series. It’s epic fantasy in scope, but with a tight focus on a single character and the individual part he plays in a wider conflict. The pace is more like a thriller than the usual wander through a fantasy landscape, so I’d say that if you like your fantasy fast paced, character driven, hard hitting, free from gender bias and set on the edge of a post-apocalyptic magical wasteland, then it’s probably for you. Continue reading