Quick Review: THE ARMORED SAINT by Myke Cole (Tor.com)

ColeM-ST1-ArmoredSaintThe first part of what promises to be an interesting new fantasy series

A story of religious tyrants, arcane war-machines, and underground resistance that will enthral epic fantasy readers of all ages.

In a world where any act of magic could open a portal to hell, the Order insures that no wizard will live to summon devils, and will kill as many innocent people as they must to prevent that greater horror. After witnessing a horrendous slaughter, the village girl Heloise opposes the Order, and risks bringing their wrath down on herself, her family, and her village.

I’ve been a fan of Myke Cole’s work since his debut novel, Control Point — the first in a series that has improved with each new book. His new novella is quite a bit different, but continues the trend of showing an author who is continuing to improve and hone his craft and skill for storytelling. There’s a lot to like in The Armored Saint. Continue reading

Advertisements

Quick Review: DOWNFALL OF THE GODS by K.J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-DownfallOfTheGodsAn entertaining tale of gods behaving badly

If you visit the Temple and ask nicely for forgiveness, you might get it — assuming you aren’t Lord Archias and you haven’t killed the Goddess’s favorite musician, Lysippus. But even goddesses are expected to follow certain rules, and as much as she wants to punish Lord Archias it seems her troublesome, all-powerful father forbids it. So the Goddess will just have to get around that by forgiving Lord Archias if he can manage some simple — or, rather, seemingly impossible — tasks. A Goddess has to do what a goddess has to do.

And in World Fantasy Award winner K.J. Parker’s sharply inventive new novella Downfall of the Gods that means everything from soothing supernatural egos to accompanying the argumentative Lord Archias on an epic quest to save his soul… and get her own way. As the Goddess and her mortal charge make their way across the world to the Land of the Dead, a host of divine surprises await them. Could what they find at the end be the downfall of the gods themselves? Only time will tell.

“The generally accepted form of communication in my family is melodrama,” says the divine narrator of Downfall of the Gods. Fans of Greek and Roman mythology will certainly be familiar with this notion. In this novella, K.J. Parker turns his playful pen to dissecting humanity’s relationship with its gods, and how pernicious and frustrating the gods can be. A quickly-paced, well-written and amusing novella. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Review: PRINCE LESTAT AND THE REALMS OF ATLANTIS by Anne Rice (Knopf/Arrow)

RiceA-VC12-PrinceLestat&RealmsOfAtlanticUSPBThe twelfth Vampire Chronicle novel upends, once again, the origin story

“In my dreams, I saw a city fall into the sea. I heard the cries of thousands. I saw flames that outshone the lamps of heaven. And all the world was shaken…”

Lestat de Lioncourt is no longer alone.

A strange, otherworldly spirit has resurfaced, taking possession of his body and soul. All-seeing, all-knowing, its voice whispers in his ear, telling the hypnotic tale of Atlantis, the great sea power of ancient times…

Prince Lestat is seduced by the power of this ancient spirit, but is he right to trust it? Why has Lestat, leader of the vampires, been chosen as its bodily host?

And what of Atlantis, the mysterious heaven on earth? Why must the vampires reckon so many millennia later with the terrifying force of this ageless, all-powerful Atalantaya spirit?

It falls to Lestat to discover the truth.

I do love this series. As I have written (so very many times) on the site, I consider Rice’s The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned to be one of my favourite books — I always read them together, so I think of them as one. With each novel, Rice has built on the impressive vampire mythos she’s created. In Prince Lestat, the author took a pretty bold step in developing the mythology: in fact, she pretty much upended everything we’ve come to learn so far. I was surprised, and a little nervous, when I realized that, in Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis, the author was going to do it again… Continue reading

Upcoming: WRATH OF EMPIRE by Brian McClellan (Orbit)

McClellanB-GoB&P2-WrathOfEmpireUSThis week, Brian McClellan unveiled the cover for his next novel: Wrath of Empire. The second novel in his Gods of Blood & Powder fantasy series, and follow-up to Sins of Empire, I’m really looking forward to reading it. (I’ll need to get caught up, first, of course — I’ve still got to read The Autumn Republic and Sins of Empire before diving into this one.) Due to be published by Orbit Books in March 2018 in the US and UK, here’s the synopsis:

The country is in turmoil. With the capital city occupied, half a million refugees are on the march, looking for safety on the frontier, accompanied by Lady Flint’s soldiers. But escaping war is never easy, and soon the battle may find them, whether they are prepared or not.

Back in the capital, Michel Bravis smuggles even more refugees out of the city. But internal forces are working against him. With enemies on all sides, Michael may be forced to find help with the very occupiers he’s trying to undermine.

Meanwhile, Ben Styke is building his own army. He and his mad lancers are gathering every able body they can find and searching for an ancient artifact that may have the power to turn the tides of war in their favor. But what they find may not be what they’re looking for.

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 and The Crimson Campaign

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: CITY OF SECRETS by Nick Horth (Black Library)

HorthN-AoS-CityOfSecretsA fast-paced Warhammer novel with a classic feel

Excelsis is the city of secrets, a grand and imposing bastion of civilisation in the savage Realm of Beasts. Within its winding streets and shadowy back alleys, merchants deal in raw prophecy mined from an ancient fragment of the World That Was, and even the poorest man may earn a glimpse of the future. Yet not all such prophecies can be trusted. When Corporal Armand Callis of the city guard stumbles upon a dark secret, he finds himself on the run from his former comrades, framed for a crime he did not commit. Only the Witch Hunter Hanniver Toll knows the truth of his innocence. Together the pair must race against time to save Excelsis from a cataclysm that would drown the city in madness and fear.

I’ve been reading fiction based on Games Workshop’s IPs for a very long time. One of the classic themes or premises of early fiction set in the Warhammer fantasy setting was that of a Chaos conspiracy in an Empire city or town. City of Secrets offers a well-composed spin on this trope, albeit set in the Age of Sigmar — a time when Chaos won, and dominates the majority of the world. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Writing a Trilogy — Lessons Learned” by Tom Doyle

DoyleT-AuthorPicThe final book in my American Craft trilogy, War and Craft, has just been released. It’s like sending the last kid to college — bittersweet emotion with a practical “so now what?” Before I move on to my next project, I’d like to share with you a few of my personal observations about the process, particularly if you’re a new writer planning on writing a series.

First lesson: never plan on writing a series.

Yeah, sounds like a joke, but seriously, don’t do it–unless someone has already said that they’re going to pay you for it. When I wrote American Craftsmen, I had intentionally not planned for a series. I recommend this same self-discipline to all new writers — don’t engage in heavier worldbuilding than necessary for something which may never see the light of day. The odds are long against your selling any given book to a publisher, so every minute you spend creating further material in that book’s universe has a high probability of being wasted. The best thing you can do for yourself while trying to sell a book is to start writing a completely different one. Continue reading

Guest Post: “On Theon Greyjoy…” by Mark Alder

AlderM-AuthorPicTheon Greyjoy – do you like him now? Did you ever like him? Will you ever like him?

As a writer, I find Theon by far the most interesting character in Game of Thrones. He illustrates a lot about how to make a character disliked. He also, in his long redemption, illustrates the techniques novelists and screenwriters use to build sympathy in a character.

Theon has had many of these sympathy building techniques applied to him in the course of his redemption, but here’s the thing – up until the very last scenes of the last series of  the Game of Thrones TV series, they simply have not worked.

He’s particularly interesting when compared to another GoT character who has undergone his own redemption – Jaime Lannister.

[Please Note: Spoilers for Game of Thrones!] Continue reading