Interview with R. S. FORD

FordRS-AoU1-EnginesOfEmpireWelcome back to CR! For newcomers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is R.S. Ford?

Nice to be back. R. S. Ford has been writing fantasy for around 10 years now. I started with a little novel called Kultus back in 2011, and since then I’ve written two fantasy trilogies – Steelhaven and War of the Archons. During that time I’ve also worked as a TTRPG editor for various publishers, and as a computer game writer for Frontier Developments. As well as starting a new trilogy that opens with Engines of Empire, I’ve recently branched into historical fiction too, with the novel Oath Bound.

Engines of Empire, the first novel in your third fantasy series, is due to be published by Orbit in January. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s the first book in a brand new epic fantasy trilogy, The Age of Uprising – a sprawling tale of family, intrigue and betrayal, set in a continent teetering on the edge of war. That’s certainly the elevator pitch anyway. Continue reading

Interview with SCOTTO MOORE

MooreS-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Scotto Moore?

I’m a playwright-turned-novelist, an amateur house music DJ, and a curator of bizarre and beautiful media, sitting somewhere between absurdist and existentialist on the “why is life even a thing” scale.

Your latest novel, Battle of the Linguist Mages was recently published by Tor.com. It has a really intriguing premise: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

The book is a near future science fantasy adventure about Isobel Bailie, an extremely talented VR gamer who learns that her skills in the game have uses in the real world. She finds herself caught between a powerful conspiracy and spellcasting anarchists in a struggle to save the world from a vicious threat on its way to Earth from beyond this dimension of reality altogether.

And then, if the potential reader was still paying attention, I’d also mention that the game she excels at is a medieval rave themed game called Sparkle Dungeon. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE JUSTICE OF KINGS by Richard Swan (Orbit)

SwanR-EotW1-JusticeOfKingsAn excellent start to a new fantasy series

NO MAN IS ABOVE THE LAW

The Empire of the Wolf simmers with unrest. Rebels, heretics and powerful patricians all challenge the power of the imperial throne.

Only the Order of Justices stands in the way of chaos. Sir Konrad Vonvalt is the most feared Justice of all, upholding the law by way of his sharp mind, arcane powers and skill as a swordsman. In this he is aided by Helena Sedanka, his clerk and protégé, orphaned by the wars that forged the empire.

When the pair investigate the murder of a provincial aristocrat, they unearth a conspiracy that stretches to the very top of imperial society. As the stakes rise and become ever more personal, Vonvalt must make a choice: will he abandon the laws he’s sworn to uphold in order to protect the empire?

I remember reading the synopsis for Richard Swan’s debut quite a while ago. “That sounds interesting,” I thought to myself, and made a note. The buzz for the novel grew over the next few months, as it was sent out to authors for blurbs. So, when I was able to read an early copy, I jumped at the chance. The Justice of Kings is a very strong debut, and an engaging start to a new fantasy/crime series. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Quick Review: OGRES by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)

TchaikovskyA-OgresAn excellent novella from one of the modern masters of fantasy/sci-fi

Ogres are bigger than you.
Ogres are stronger than you.
Ogres rule the world.

It’s always idyllic in the village until the landlord comes to call.

Because the landlord is an Ogre. And Ogres rule the world, with their size and strength and appetites. It’s always been that way. It’s the natural order of the world. And they only eat people sometimes.

But when the headman’s son, Torquell, dares lift his hand against the landlord’s son, he sets himself on a path to learn the terrible truth about the Ogres, and about the dark sciences that ensured their rule.

Tchaikovsky’s latest novella is an intriguing, engaging examination of a whole swathe of human qualities — ambition, weakness, economics, and more. Interesting from start to finish, it’s packed with original spins on a number of fantasy/sci-fi features. Each year, the author publishes a new book that shows readers that his range is far larger than we already believed. Continue reading

Interview with GAIE SEBOLD

SeboldG-AuthorPic2021Welcome back to CR! For new readers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is Gaie Sebold?

I never quite know how to answer this question in a way that doesn’t sound dreadfully dull! I’m a married fantasy writer with a cat. I used to do some interesting things and then middle age — not to mention the pandemic — happened. Now I mostly sit at a desk. I have been known to perform poetry to an audience, and run around in a wood with a latex sword, or a gym with a wooden one. I grow vegetables and cook.  That’s me.

Your debut novel, Bad Gods (originally titled Babylon Steel), is due to be re-issued by Solaris, in January. I really enjoyed it when it was first published, but for new-/latecomers: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s about a woman who runs a brothel, in a city connected by a series of portals to various planes. She gets hired to find a missing person case and also tracks down a serial killer while avoiding her own past. It has occasional sexy bits and more than occasional funny bits and quite frequent serious bits. It’s the first in what is currently a two book series, which I hope may be extended. Continue reading

Quick Review: AGE OF ASH by Daniel Abraham (Orbit)

AbrahamD-K1-AgeOfAshAn interesting start to a new fantasy series

Kithamar is a center of trade and wealth, an ancient city with a long, bloody history where countless thousands live and their stories unfold.

This is Alys’s.

When her brother is murdered, a petty thief from the slums of Longhill sets out to discover who killed him and why.  But the more she discovers about him, the more she learns about herself, and the truths she finds are more dangerous than knives.

Swept up in an intrigue as deep as the roots of Kithamar, where the secrets of the lowest born can sometimes topple thrones, the story Alys chooses will have the power to change everything.

I’ve been a fan of Daniel Abraham’s work since the Long Price Quartet, so every new novel of his is a highly-anticipated event. Each of his novels and series offers something new for readers. Age of Ash is the first in a new fantasy series, and is packed with interesting ideas and cool twists on fantasy tropes and elements. Continue reading

Upcoming: IN THE SHADOW OF LIGHTNING by Brian McClellan (Tor Books)

McClellanB-GI1-InTheShadowOfLightningUSHCIt shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m looking forward to Brian McClellan‘s next novel. I’ve been reading his stuff since his debut, Promise of Blood — the novel that launched the Powder Mage series in fine style. The Powder Mage series was followed by Gods of Blood and Powder (same world, set later). With next year’s In the Shadow of Lightning, McClellan launches a new series — Glass Immortals — set in a wholly new fantasy world. Here’s the synopsis:

A brand-new epic fantasy where magic is a finite resource — and it’s running out.

Demir Grappo is an outcast — he fled a life of wealth and power, abandoning his responsibilities as a general, a governor, and a son. Now he will live out his days as a grifter, rootless, and alone. But when his mother is brutally murdered, Demir must return from exile to claim his seat at the head of the family and uncover the truth that got her killed: the very power that keeps civilization turning, godglass, is running out.

Now, Demir must find allies, old friends and rivals alike, confront the powerful guild-families who are only interested in making the most of the scraps left at the table and uncover the invisible hand that threatens the Empire. A war is coming, a war unlike any other. And Demir and his ragtag group of outcasts are the only thing that stands in the way of the end of life as the world knows it.

In the Shadow of Lightning is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on June 21st, 2022.

Also on CR: Interview with Brian McClellan (2013); Guest Posts on “My Favourite Novel” and “Protagonist Ages in Epic Fantasy”; Excerpt from The Autumn Republic; Reviews of Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign, The Autumn Republic, and War Cry

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: DAUGHTER OF REDWINTER by Ed McDonald (Tor/Gollancz)

McDonaldE-RC1-DaughterOfRedwinterUSHCNext summer, Ed McDonald returns with Daughter of Redwinter, the first in a new fantasy series. (With that title, though, one can’t help but think it would have been more apropos to publish it in a colder season?) The author’s debut trilogy, the Raven’s Mark, was an extremely well-received grimdark affair, and no doubt fans are looking forward to reading more from McDonald (although, this new series might be a shade less grimdark). Here’s the synopsis:

Those who see the dead soon join them.

Raine can see — and more importantly, speak — to the dead. It’s a wretched gift with a death sentence that has her doing many dubious things to save her skin. Seeking refuge with a deluded cult is her latest bad, survival-related decision. But her rare act of kindness — rescuing an injured woman in the snow — is even worse.

McDonaldE-RC1-DaughterOfRedwinterUKHCBecause the woman has escaped from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king and who will stop at nothing to retrieve what she’s stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation forces Raine to enter Redwinter. It becomes clear that her ability might save an entire nation.

Pity she might have to die for that to happen…

Daughter of Redwinter is due to be published by Tor Books in North America (June 28th) and Gollancz in the UK (June 30th).

Also on CR: Interview with Ed McDonald (2017); Annotated Excerpt from Ravencry

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Quick Review: THE LONG GAME by K. J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-LongGameUSNo matter what we might believe, we are all pawns in a far larger, longer game than we can imagine

The unnamed narrator of The Long Game is an Adept, a member of an Ecclesiastical order charged, among other things, with opposing a race of immaterial demons, creatures capable of possessing and controlling human minds. Complicating the narrator’s life is the fact that, over time, he has developed a cordial “relationship” with one of the demons. Complicating matters further is the unexpected arrival of Amalasomtha, a young woman with impossible abilities who claims to have come from the remote — perhaps mythical — country of Idalia. She also claims that, for reasons she does not entirely understand, she has been tasked with capturing one such demon and returning with it to Idalia. The truth, it turns out, is considerably more complex.

Amalasomtha’s arrival sets in motion a chain of events encompassing murder, magic, deception, and an array of unintended consequences. By the story’s end, this consistently witty account of demonic possession, hidden agendas and Ecclesiastical politics has taken us to some unexpected places and given us a glimpse of a larger story still, the “long game” that lies at the heart of all human history.

This new novella from K. J. Parker seems to be set around the same demon mythology that the author introduced in Prosper’s Demon, and has appeared in a few other recent novellas. It’s a novella that displays all of Parker’s fantastic gifts for storytelling: a playful humour, intelligence, and a well-paced and -balanced narrative. As expected, I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Upcoming: GOTHGUL HOLLOW by Anna Stephens (Black Library)

StephensA-WHH-GothgulHollowAnna Stephens is perhaps best known for her Godblind Trilogy and latest novel, The Stone Knife. The author has also been writing a fair number of short stories for Black Library, and next year her first will arrive: Gothgul Hollow is part of the publisher’s Warhammer Horror series. Set in the Age of Sigmar, I’m rather looking forward to reading this. You can read a little bit more about it (and some other upcoming Warhammer Horror titles, here.)

The Hollow. A lonely Shyishan town, obscured amongst wild moorland, inhabited by folk of vigilant routine. What remains of the once illustrious Gothghul family endures season upon season of monastic isolation in their castle on the hill. Aaric Gothghul, made callous by loss, shuts himself in his study and broods over arcane texts, while his strange and formidable daughter wanders the forests alone.

But when the town is threatened by a spate of sinister manifestations, the quiet formality of their days end. Worse still, the upheaval disturbs a terrible family secret – a chilling memory that Aaric has kept buried for twenty-five years. Now, father and daughter must set aside their differences and search for answers to an ancient curse that is somehow linked to their past. Aided by a straight-talking sharpshooter and a shrewd man of faith, they seek to fathom the forces that assail the Hollow.

Scholar. Sorceress. Killer. Priest. Four people divided by their secrets and lies, bound together by horror, must unite their strengths to uncover a diabolic mystery – the clue to which they have but one incomprehensible word: Mhurghast.

Gothgul Hollow is due to be published by Black Library in North America and in the UK, in February 2022.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter