Upcoming: HEROES by Stephen Fry (Penguin)

FryS-HeroesUKHCMythology was a big part of my childhood: Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Norse… I loved it all. I remember we had a particular hardcover book of mythology, heavily illustrated that covered the first three. I read that book over and over again, poring over the details and adventures of the heroes, villains and gods. I loved it, and is most likely the root of my interest in fantasy fiction. (I cannot for the life of me remember what the book was called, though, nor who published it. I’ve been trying to remember for years, but the details escape me completely.)*

I am also a big fan of Stephen Fry‘s work — his comedy, films and also his memoirs (strangely, I haven’t read any of his novels, yet). I bought his critically-acclaimed Mythos a little while ago. Like so many of the books I buy, I have yet to get around to reading it — but it is rapidly climbing my TBR mountain. Penguin recently announced Fry’s upcoming, companion book, Heroes, which I think it also sounds great. (I think the cover was officially unveiled today.) Here’s the synopsis:

There are Heroes — and then there are Greek Heroes.

Few mere mortals have ever embarked on such bold and heart-stirring adventures, overcome myriad monstrous perils, or outwitted scheming vengeful gods, quite as stylishly and triumphantly as Greek heroes.

In this companion to his bestselling Mythos, Stephen Fry brilliantly retells these dramatic, funny, tragic and timeless tales. Join Jason aboard the Argo as he quests for the Golden Fleece. See Atalanta — who was raised by bears — outrun any man before being tricked with golden apples. Witness wily Oedipus solve the riddle of the Sphinx and discover how Bellerophon captures the winged horse Pegasus to help him slay the monster Chimera.

Filled with white-knuckle chases and battles, impossible puzzles and riddles, acts of base cowardice and real bravery, not to mention murders and selfless sacrifices, Heroes is the story of what we mortals are truly capable of — at our worst and our very best.

Really looking forward to reading this. Heroes is due to be published by Penguin in the UK, on November 1st, 2018.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

* If you think you might know which book I’m referring to, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments. I really want to find this book!

 

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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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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

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)

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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

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