Review: BEST SERVED COLD by Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz/Orbit)

Abercrombie-BestServedColdUKAbercrombie expands the World of the First Law

Springtime in Styria. And that means war. Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ, it’s a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular — a shade too popular for her employer’s taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto’s reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria’s least reliable drunkard, Styria’s most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that’s all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started…

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy is one of my favourites: a great story, fantastic characters, superb prose. For some reason, it took me a while to get around to reading Best Served Cold (originally published in 2008). I finally read it after taking a glance at the first pages, and being quickly drawn in by not only the author’s great prose, but also his gift for characterization. Unfortunately, though, I finished the novel with a very different feeling to that I had after finishing Last Argument of KingsContinue reading

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Upcoming: RAVENCRY by Ed McDonald (Ace/Gollancz)

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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

New ALTERED CARBON trailer!

Netflix has released a new trailer for its upcoming adaptation of Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon! My anticipation levels for this series are very high (I’ve mentioned before on CR that the novel carries much of the blame for getting me into sci-fi), and this trailer further ramped up my impatience. Here it is:

Here’s the official synopsis for the series:

In the distant future, human consciousness can be digitized and downloaded into different bodies. Brought back to life after 250 years by Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) the richest man on Earth, ex-Envoy soldier Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman / Will Yun Lee) must solve Bancroft’s attempted murder for the chance to live again in a world he doesn’t recognize.

Altered Carbon releases on February 2nd, 2018. In the meantime, the novel is published by Gollancz in the UK, and Del Rey in North America (a new, series tie-in edition will be released in February).

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Upcoming: ALTERED CARBON (Netflix)

Richard K. Morgan shared the above trailer on Twitter, and it kind of made my day. This coming February, Netflix will release Altered Carbon, their TV adaptation of Richard Morgan’s novel of the same name. I am very much looking forward to this. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE TESTAMENT OF LOKI by Joanne M. Harris (Gollancz)

HarrisJM-L2-TestamentOfLokiUKHCIn May 2018, Gollancz is due to publish Joanne M. Harris‘s next novel: The Testament of Loki. To the right you can see the stunning cover, which is what first caught my eye. There aren’t many details available about the novel, save the jacket and release date, but here’s the sparse synopsis from the publisher’s website:

The second adult epic fantasy novel from multi-million-copy bestselling author Joanne Harris.

Using her life-long passion for the Norse myths, Joanne Harris has created a vibrant and powerful fantasy novel.

See? Very sparse… According to Goodreads, it is the second prequel in Harris’s Runemarks series, following The Gospel of Loki, and set before Runemarks. The author’s website has a dedicated page for the novel, with a few more details (including a mini-Q&A):

THE GOSPEL OF LOKI ended at Ragnarok, the End of the Worlds, with Asgard fallen, the gods defeated and most of them either dead, or consigned to eternal torment in Netherworld. However, Loki manages to escape into another World through Dream, and finds himself, to his surprise, incarnate in  a human host – a 17-year-old girl called Jumps, and living in our own World. But, as he starts to come to terms with the challenges of being in a human host, Loki realizes that  there may be a way to escape the chains of mortality and return to the World of the gods.

I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Also on CR: Review of The Gospel of Loki

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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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

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