New Books (July-August)

BlackRoad-02 Crop

Featuring: Margaret Atwood, Lauren Beukes, Rob Boffard, Jessie Burton, Nickolas Butler, Janie Chang, D. Nolan Clark, John Connolly, Jason Diamond, David Eggers, Clint Emerson, Joseph Finder, Amy S. Foster, Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Max Gladstone, Lev Grossman, Joe Haldeman, Chris Holm, Humfrey Hunter, Joe Ide, Michael Koryta, Bracken MacLeod, Melina Marchetta, Seanan McGuire, Andy McNab, Liz Moore, Nicola Moriarty, Megan O’Keefe, Frank Owen, Tom Rosenstiel, Meg Rosoff, Roy Scranton, Gaie Sebold, Matthew Smith, Bruce Sterling, Peter Swanson, Adi Tantimedh, Mick Wall

Above artwork: Black Road #2 (crop), by Garry Brown (Image Comics) Continue reading

Review: THE MAGICIAN’S LAND by Lev Grossman (Penguin/Arrow)

GrossmanL-M3-MagiciansLandUSA most satisfying conclusion to The Magicians trilogy

Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story began, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him.

Along with Plum, a brilliant young undergraduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demimonde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost forever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, a new Fillory — but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrificing everything.

The Magician’s Land is an intricate thriller, a fantastical epic, and an epic of love and redemption that brings the Magicians trilogy to a magnificent conclusion, confirming it as one of the great achievements in modern fantasy. It’s the story of a boy becoming a man, an apprentice becoming a master, and a broken land finally becoming whole.

I left this for far longer than I intended: I thoroughly enjoyed both of the previous books in the series, The Magicians and The Magician KingThe Magician’s Land is a great, gripping conclusion, and exceeded my high expectations. This is a must-read trilogy for all fans of fantasy. Continue reading

Books Received: December #2 (Or, “It Rained Books Just Before Xmas…”)

BooksReceived-20141220

A nice wave of new titles arrived or were purchased just before Christmas. I’ve just been slow about posting this, which means I’ve already read a couple (and dismissed a couple). Some more have arrived since, too, but I’ll post about those at the beginning of January.

Featuring: Kate Atkinson, Belinda Bauer, Gregory Benford, Douglas Brunt, Chelsea Cain, John Connolly, Christopher Farnsworth, Helen Giltrow, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Lev Grossman, Glenda Larke, Karen Lord, Alex Marhsall, Peyton Marshall, Brian McClellan, D.J. Molles, Syliva Moreno-Garcia, Mark Morris, Larry Niven, Claire North, Chuck Palahniuk, Matthew Pearl, D.B.C. Pierre, Jennifer Ridyard, Jeff Somers, Gabriel Squailia, Mark Sullivan, S.J. Watson, Jaye Wells Continue reading

Review: THE MAGICIAN KING by Lev Grossman (Plume/Arrow)

GrossmanL-M2-MagicianKingUSA superb follow-up to The Magicians

Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom.

Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent’s house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.

In an effort to catch up for the third volume in Lev Grossman’s Magicians series, here’s my very quick review of The Magician King: it’s an excellent follow-up to a brilliant first installment. If you haven’t read this series yet, I strongly urge you do so. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Continue reading

Review: THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman (Arrow/Plume)

GrossmanL-M1-MagiciansUKAn intriguing first volume in a new series

In a secret world of forbidden knowledge, power comes at a terrible price…

Quentin Coldwater’s life is changed forever by an apparently chance encounter: when he turns up for his entrance interview to Princeton he finds his interviewer dead – but a strange envelope bearing Quentin’s name leads him down a very different path to any he’d ever imagined.

The envelope, and the mysterious manuscript it contains, leads to a secret world of obsession and privilege, a world of freedom and power and, for a while, it’s a world that seems to answer all Quentin’s desires. But the idyll cannot last – and when it’s finally shattered, Quentin is drawn into something darker and far more dangerous than anything he could ever have expected…

I’m rather late getting to this novel. It’s been out for a while, and I actually have multiple copies of it – eBook, UK edition, and also a signed US edition (which I picked up in January 2013 in Boston, when Mr Grossman dropped by the MLA conference). There’s been a lot written about this novel already, but I’ve been studiously avoiding any and all reviews. I really enjoyed reading this. It’s not perfect, but it is both clever and engaging. Obviously the first part of something much larger, I would certainly recommend it. Continue reading