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

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Quick Review: WINTER OF THE GODS by Jordanna Max Brodsky (Orbit)

Is someone killing the gods in New York…?

Manhattan has many secrets. Some are older than the city itself.

Winter in New York: snow falls, lights twinkle, and a very disgruntled Selene DiSilva prowls the streets, knowing that even if she doesn’t look for trouble, it always finds her.

When a dead body is discovered sprawled atop Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull statue, it’s up to Selene to hunt down the perpetrators. Her ancient skills make her the only one who can track a conspiracy that threatens the very existence of the gods, Selene — once known as Artemis — among them.

Jordanna Max Brodsky’s debut novel, The Immortals was a great surprise last year: it brilliantly blended Greek mythology and crime fiction, imaginatively updating the former. It was one of my favourite novels of 2016. Winter of the Gods builds on the new mythology, and offers the gods a new, deadly challenge. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Behind the Scenes of Chasing Embers” by James Bennett

tolkeinjrr-conversationwithsmaugSmaug. It must’ve started with Smaug. Smaug the Magnificent. As a boy of 8, I think that’s the first time I heard a dragon talk. A Conversation with Smaug by J.R.R. Tolkien is still one of my favourite illustrations. ‘Well, thief! I smell you and I feel your air’, isn’t that how it went? And that was also, I think, the first time that the 8-year-old me heard about a dragon being able to talk. Smaug was red, of course. To this day, it’s my favourite colour.

As an adult, I’m pleased to note that Professor Tolkien also drew on ancient sources, from the ‘night-scather’ in Beowulf to the talking dragon Fafnir of the Völsunga Saga. Fafnir, as it happens, used to be a man, but his greed for gold eventually turned him into a dragon, so one could argue that the seed of Smaug, in a way, was entirely human. Here you see the roots of the myth you’re tapping, a vein that stretches back to the elemental serpents of Ancient China, those noble god-beasts who were often depicted in human form, and one that will surely stretch on long into the future. Continue reading

Interview with JAMES LOVEGROVE

LovegroveJ-AuthorPicWelcome back to CR! Let’s start with an introduction, for new readers: Who is James Lovegrove?

James Lovegrove is, right now, someone struggling to get stuff done during the dog days of the school summer holidays. I’m a writer who likes peace and quiet when working, and my two boys, aged 13 and 10, are very solicitous about that but they’re also just kids and want their dad to play with them whenever possible. It’s tricky, this work/life balance thing. I’m also, incidentally, the author of 50-odd books, a similar number of short stories, and quite a hefty amount of book-related journalism.

Your latest novel, Age of Heroes, will be published by Solaris. How would you introduce the novel and series to a potential reader?

The string of books which has come to be known as the Pantheon series centres around the gods of various ancient religions and their relationship with the mortals who worship them. The novels are largely military SF and each is a standalone tale that can be read independently of the others. The tone differs from one to the next but the core theme is the same: what responsibilities do our deities have towards us, and we towards them, and where do the two dovetail? Age of Heroes continues the trend but this time I’m delving into a slightly lower stratum – demigods. My main characters are the heroes of Ancient Greek myth such as Theseus, Perseus and Heracles. I’ve envisaged them as ageless immortals who continue to walk among us in the twenty-first century, three and a half millennia after their heyday, the proverbial Age of Heroes. Some of them have adapted better to modern life than others, and some are striving to remain heroic in an era that is desperately cynical about such things as self-sacrifice and virtue.  And then they start dying… Continue reading

Upcoming: WINTER OF THE GODS by Jordanna Max Brodsky (Orbit)

BrodskyJM-OB2-WinterOfTheGodsUS

I can’t wait to read this! Winter of the Gods is the sequel to the excellent The Immortals. The cover was unveiled today by Orbit. Here’s the synopsis:

Manhattan has many secrets. Some are older than the city itself.

Winter in New York: snow falls, lights twinkle, and a very disgruntled Selene DiSilva prowls the streets looking for prey.

But when a dead body is discovered sprawled atop Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull statue, it’s clear the NYPD can’t solve the murder without help. The murder isn’t just the work of another homicidal cult — this time, someone’s sacrificing the gods themselves.

While raising fundamental questions about the very existence of the gods, Selene must hunt down the perpetrators, tracking a conspiracy that will test the bonds of loyalty and love.

Jordanna Max Brodsky is absolutely an author to watch. If you enjoy crime novels, urban fantasy and Greek mythology, this is a must-read series.

Also on CR: Review of The Immortals

BrodskyJM-TheImmortalsUS

Quick Review: THE IMMORTALS by Jordanna Max Brodsky (Orbit)

BrodskyJM-TheImmortalsUSThe first must-read novel of 2016

Manhattan has many secrets. Some are older than the city itself. 

The city sleeps. Selene DiSilva walks her dog along the banks of the Hudson. She is alone — just the way she likes it. She doesn’t believe in friends, and she doesn’t speak to her family. Most of them are simply too dangerous.

In the predawn calm, Selene finds the body of a young woman washed ashore, gruesomely mutilated and wreathed in laurel. Her ancient rage returns. And so does the memory of a promise she made long ago — when her name was Artemis.

I read this quite a while ago, and rather stupidly didn’t write the review right away. The Immortals was at the top of my most-anticipated list for 2016 pretty much since I first spotted it on Edelweiss. I was extremely happy, therefore, to receive an advance review copy last year. It absolutely exceeded my expectations. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE IMMORTALS by Jordanna Max Brodsky (Orbit)

BrodskyJM-TheImmortalsUSI spotted the synopsis for Jordanna Max Brodsky‘s upcoming novel, The Immortals, a little while back in an Orbit catalogue. Today, though, Orbit has unveiled the rather splendid cover for the novel (right), by Kirk Benshoff. I think that’s a pretty great cover.

Here’s the synopsis:

The Restless Ones, the Bearer of the Bow, the Untamed…

… those are only a few of the names Selene DiSilva’s answered to over the years. But these days she’s content to work in secret, defending the women of Manhattan from the evils of men. She’s reclusive, stubborn, and deeply unfriendly to everyone but her dog. But when a woman’s mutilated body washes up in Riverside Park wearing a laurel wreath, Selene finds that she can no longer hide in the shadows.

As more women are threatened, Selene is forced to embrace the one name she’s tried hardest to forget — Artemis. For who better to follow the killer’s tangled trail than the Goddess of the Hunt herself?

The Immortals is due to be published by Orbit in February 2016 (which seems very far away…). I can’t wait to read it. For more, be sure to follow the author on Twitter.