Quick Review: TRANSMETROPOLITAN by Warren Ellis et al (Vertigo)

Transmetropolitan-CollectedEditions

I’ve had a very strange experience/reaction to Transmetropolitan, Warren Ellis’s series that satirizes politics and the media. In fact, I have so many thoughts about the series, that I’m going to keep this review rather short — in an attempt to prevent myself from going overboard. One thing that bears stating at the start: this series has only become more relevant; and, while it can be a bit of an uncomfortable read at times, it is brilliant. Continue reading

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Quick Review: WONDER WOMAN Vols. 2-3 (DC Comics, Rebirth)

A new origin, and a conspiracy to discover the location of Themyscira…

Writer: Greg Rucka | Art: Liam Sharp, Renato Guedes, Bilquis Evely, Laura Martin, Romulo FajardoJr., Hi-Fi

The definitive and shocking tale of Diana’s first year as Earth’s protector. Paradise has been breached, Ares stirs, and the Amazons must answer with a champion of their own…one who is willing to sacrifice her home amongst her sisters to save a world she has never seen. Wonder Woman’s journey begins in this epic origin story!

Collects: Wonder Woman #2, #4, #6, #8, #10, #12, #14

In Volume 2 of DC Comics’ latest Wonder Woman reboot, Greg Rucka takes a break from the storyline seeded in the first collection. Instead, he and his colleagues on the art-side pull out all the stops for (yet another) origin-type story. Subtitled “Year One”, it re-introduces us to the two main characters (Diana and Steve), updated for a modern setting. There are some parallels between this book and the recent Wonder Woman movie (if you haven’t see it yet, do so — it’s great), but it is by no means slavish or engaging in recycling. I was just frequently put in mind of certain elements of that movie while reading. Continue reading

Quick Review: MOTHER PANIC, Vol.1 (Young Animal/DC)

Writer: Jody Houser | Artists: Tommy Lee Edwards & Shawn Crystal | Colors: Tommy Lee Edwards, Jean-Francois Beaulieu | Covers: Tommy Lee Edwards

The shadow of the Bat falls over all of Gotham City, from its dark alleys to its glittering high-rises. But a new vigilante has just stepped away from that shadow, and she has her own brand of violent retribution to deal out to the city’s corrupt elites.

Meet Violet Paige, a rich young celebutante with a bad attitude and a worse reputation. No one would ever suspect that this tabloid-fodder wild child has a secret hidden beneath her spoiled heiress exterior — a secret that has driven her to become the terrifying force of vengeance against her privileged peers known as Mother Panic!

But even as Violet launches her all-out assault on the rich and twisted, her shaky allies threaten to betray her, and every one of Gotham’s guardians — from Batwoman to the Dark Knight himself — is hot on her trail. Will Mother Panic continue to strike terror into her enemies’ hearts? Or will her violent quest for justice reach an equally violent end?

Collects: Mother Panic #1-6

This is the first title that I’ve read from DC’s new Gerard Way-controlled Young Animal imprint, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been under the false impression that this was aimed at younger readers. After just a few pages, I realized this was very much not the case. Aside from the occasional swearing, this is a pretty brutal series. It also a very intriguing first arc. Continue reading

Review: KNIGHT’S SHADOW by Sebastien de Castell (Jo Fletcher Books)

deCastell-2-KnightsShadowUKThe highly-anticipated sequel to Traitor’s Blade

Tristia is a nation overcome by intrigue and corruption. The idealistic young King Paelis is dead and the Greatcoats – legendary travelling magistrates who brought justice to the Kingdom – have been branded as traitors. But just before his head was impaled on a spike, the King swore each of his hundred and forty-four Greatcoats to a different mission.

Falcio Val Mond, First Cantor, with the help of fellow Greatcoats Kest and Brasti, has completed his King’s final task: he has found his Charoites – well, one at least, and she was not quite what they expected. Now they must protect the girl from the many who would see her dead, and place her on the throne of a lawless kingdom. That would be simple enough, if it weren’t for the Daishini, an equally legendary band of assassins, getting in their way, not to forget the Dukes who are determined to hold on to their fractured Kingdoms, or the fact that the heir to the throne is only thirteen years old. Oh, and the poison that is slowly killing Falcio.

That’s not even mentioning the Greatcoat’s Lament…

Sebastien de Castell’s debut, Traitor’s Blade, is one of my favourite novels from 2014 — it was fast-paced, swashbuckling, interesting and well-written. It brought back some of the fun to fantasy, while remaining somewhat (grim)dark. It was with much anticipation, therefore, that I dove in to Knight’s Shadow very shortly after I got my hands on a copy. Right from the start, we learn that this is a far more substantial, ambitious novel.
Continue reading

Review: TRAITOR’S BLADE by Sebastien de Castell (Jo Fletcher Books)

deCastellS-GC1-TraitorsBladeAn all-round brilliant fantasy debut, and one of the best I’ve read in a decade.

Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike.

Now Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in tatters.

All they have left are the promises they made to King Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn…

Every so often, a debut novel comes along that knocks your expectations out of the park. Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamorra is one of those novels. Peter V. Brett’s The Painted Man is another. Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade needs to be added to that list. I loved this. Continue reading

An Interview with SEBASTIEN DE CASTELL

DeCastell-AuthorPic2013Back in November, I stumbled across some information about Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade on Jo Fletcher Books’ website. Naturally, I was very intrigued. Then, in January, an ARC of the book appeared, and I dove right in. To put it bluntly, I loved it: a perfect blend of action, intrigue, humour, and all-round great storytelling. This novel is going to cause a splash, as well it damn well should. Read on for an interview with de Castell…

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Sebastien de Castell?

I guess you could say that I’m a professional wanderer. I love to take on challenges in new fields and learn everything I can. These days I write fantasy and mystery novels but in the past I’ve been a full-time musician, an interaction designer, teacher, project manager, fight choreographer, actor, and, well, lots of other things. (At least one of which I’m keeping secret until my deathbed!)

Your debut novel, Traitor’s Blade, is due to be published in March by Jo Fletcher Books. How would you introduce the novel to a new reader?

The Three Musketeers meets A Game of Thrones. It’s a swashbuckling mystery set in a country that is being torn apart by corruption and intrigue. Continue reading

Upcoming: “Traitor’s Blade” by Sebastien de Castell (Jo Fletcher Books)

deCastellS-GC1-TraitorsBladeWhile stumbling about on the internet, looking for information on upcoming new books by authors I like, I found the synopsis for this novel. Another from Jo Fletcher Books (a publisher who seems to be publishing some of the most interesting SFF novels at the moment, which I have been singularly inept at keeping up with), it looks rather promising. Traitor’s Blade is the first in Sebastien de Castell’s Greatcoats series. Here’s the synopsis…

Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike.

Now Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in tatters.

All they have left are the promises they made to King Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn…

deCastellS-SpellslingerTraitor’s Blade is due to be published in early March 2014. Penguin will be publishing the novel in Canada, and Piper will be bringing it to shelves in Germany. I’m rather looking forward to it. Although, I do wonder if the Dragon Age-esque aesthetic of the cover is leading…? Be sure to check out de Castell’s website and Twitter for more news. Including, as it turns out, some preliminary information on the second Greatcoats novel, Greatcoat’s Lament (which looked a bit spoilery to me, so I haven’t included it here), and also Spellslinger, the author’s “heroic fantasy with a western flavour” (synopsis below). There is also a free mini-audiodrama, set in the Spellslinger world, “Card Trick”.

A Tale of Magic, Intrigue & Talking Raccoons

Kellen Argos is cursed with the Shadowblack and on the run from his own family when the mysterious young queen of Darome promises him a cure in exchange for his protection. Kellen soon discovers that someone inside the nobility is plotting to take over the country. Now he has to find a way to outsmart the conspirators before they get to the queen over Kellen’s dead body.