Review: THE LAST MORTAL BOND by Brian Staveley (Tor)

StaveleyB-CUT3-LastMortalBondUSThe highly-anticipated conclusion to the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy

DEATH IS NEAR, ARMIES ARE GATHERED, AND THE FUTURE RESTS ON A KNIFE-EDGE 

The Annurian Empire is losing a war on two fronts — and it’s unclear who’s in command. Adare is stationed in the thick of battle, calling herself Emperor. However, she can’t hold back the nomadic Urghul forces forever. She needs her brilliant general, Ran il Tornja, but will he betray her again?

Adare’s brother Kaden is the true heir, yet he’ll accept a republic to save his divided people. And he faces something more terrible than war. He’s unmasked Ran il Tornja as a remnant of an ancient race, one that attempted to destroy mankind. The general now plans to finish what they started. Kaden has also discovered that capricious gods walk the earth in human guise — and their agendas may seal the fates of all.

In early 2014, I finally got around to reading Brian Staveley’s first two novelsThe Emperor’s Blades and The Providence of Fire. I was blown away — I read them back-to-back, which is something I haven’t done with a fantasy series since Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies, and Peter V. Brett’s The Desert Spear and The Daylight War. Staveley’s writing, his characters, and the fantastically composed and paced narrative just pulled me through. I was hooked. I still think the two novels are a fantastic example of what modern fantasy can be. (Seriously, go read them.) I had a rather different reaction to The Last Mortal BondContinue reading

Upcoming in 2017… Tor Books (US)

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Just a couple of handfuls of upcoming novels from Tor Books (there are many that look interesting, these stood out).

Featuring: Cory Doctorow, Thoraiya Dyer, A.J. Hartley, Michael Johnston, Nancy Kress, Laura Lam, Ian McDonald, John Scalzi, Brian Staveley, Allen Steele

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Guest Post: “Pushing The Envelope In Fiction; Navigating A PC-Centric Media Universe” by Edward Lazellari

Lazellari-AuthorPicSo you’re going to be a writer? Awesome. You are never going to please everyone, so own it; the thin-skinned have no business being authors (or auteurs). Words have put the most popular and successful authors on the painful side of a controversy (Sometimes it’s intentional.) That said… keep an open mind to the opinions of critics and friends. If you are going to create fictional scenarios that skirt the edge of mass acceptance, know why you are writing those actions. When George R.R. Martin decided to have brother and sister lovers in Game of Thrones, he was setting up the premise of the entire series. The question of legitimate authority and unraveling of Westeros as a society came out of that relationship. Everything that happens in your story, no matter how taboo, should serve the narrative. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Some Thoughts on Fantasy Series & Stand Alones” by Blake Charlton

charltonb-authorpic“Is this book a standalone or the third in your trilogy?” A question that I’ve had to address since the publication of my latest book, Spellbreaker. The answer, perhaps confusingly, is yes. When justifying this answer, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the way stories are told in series, particularly in epic fantasy.

I don’t think too many will disagree that in the traditional conception of epic fantasy, the use of a series of books is a logistical necessity, not an aesthetic choice. The Lord of the Rings, of course, was written as one book (to rule them all?) and broken into three only because the printing, binding, and shipping costs would have been prohibitive. This precedent created the current expectation that every book in an epic fantasy series will be the immediate continuation of the last. Since the 1980s, the majority of successful fantasy series have done exactly that. There are many, well-known advantages to this approach; it allows for intricate exploration of subplots; it proves continuous and detailed character development; it creates an experience in which the reader traverses an epic number of pages that mirrors the characters’ journey across and among an epic number of landscapes and cultures. The grandmasters do so effortlessly and with style. Continue reading

A Quick Chat with RJURIK DAVIDSON

Welcome back to CR! For new readers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is Rjurik Davidson?

An Australian writer who spends a lot of time in Europe. A person who moves from place to place, from forest to desert, across all sorts of levels of society, from lawyers to party animals, from politicians to workers, from the ancient to the modern. Someone who knows that the most interesting things happen on the fault lines between worlds.

Your new novel, The Stars Askew, has recently been published by Tor. It looks fantastic: How would you introduce the series to a potential reader? And what can fans of the first novel expect from this new book?

First of all, The Stars Askew is an epic story about a revolution. As with all revolutions, it’s filled with dramatic events. The city of Caeli-Amur is in flux. Revolutionaries are in control, but enemies lurk in the shadows. One of the leaders is found murdered in the city’s baths with two thaumaturgists, also killed. Why were they killed? Kata, a former philosopher-assassin sets out to find the killer. That’s the start of the novel. From there stakes rise and rise. The novel features prison camps and Gorgons, lost towers in the wilderness and betrayal. Continue reading

Upcoming: COLLAPSING EMPIRE by John Scalzi (Tor)

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There is a new stand-alone sci-fi novel coming from John Scalzi early next year: The Collapsing Empire. It sounds rather interesting, too:

Humanity moves away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our homeworld. It creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos ensures no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a safeguard against interstellar war – and a way of controlling the empire’s rulers. This future of faster-than-light travel is possible due to a huge discovery – the Flow. This is an extra-dimensional field which can transport us to other worlds. And while this field is eternal, like a river, it does change its course.

It now seems the Flow is moving, which could isolate every human world in space forever. So three individuals will make a last attempt to find a solution. A scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency will see what, if anything, can be salvaged. For an interstellar empire is on the brink of collapse.

Due to be published by Tor Books in the US and UK in March 2017.

Guest Post: “My Top 5 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books” by Melinda Snodgrass

It was difficult to list my five top science fiction or fantasy books because there are so many books that I have loved. I’m going to make my criteria books that have touched emotionally me rather then books that I think are important in the field so there may be some odd choices.

Snodgrass-TopFiveSFF Continue reading