Friday, December 11, 2009

Dan Simmons - Drood (Book Review)

"DROOD" (Amazon: UK, US)
Format: Paperback, 816/784 pages
Publisher: Quercus / Little, Brown and Company (Feb 2009, first edition)
Last summer, I've written a post regarding books we like and how hard it can be to review them – can you remain objective? Should you remain objective? Drood is one of such books and I can't really decide whether I'm infatuated with it or it really is that good.

"Drood", like "The Terror", is neither fantasy nor science fiction – it's historical fiction, but unlike " The Terror", "Drood" concentrates more on 'historical' than on 'fiction'. Our narrator is Wilkie Collins, who introduces us to his life as a writer, one of Charles Dickens' closest friends and a member of 19th century's London upper class.

"Drood" presents Dickens and Collins in the time when they were both already established writers, praised all over England, neither of them short on money or company. Their lives, as well as everyone involved, are subject to their various whims and thus often a fine source of gossip; while Dickens dismissed his wife and forbid her to enter his house again, Collins is unmarried but has two lovers who don't know about each other. While both authors readily cooperate, they just as readily dismiss each other's work as petty, unimaginative or just plain bad writing. The older they get, the wider the gap between them becomes – with a little help from the mysterious Mr. Drood, whose past and skills obsess Dickens.

In most reviews of "Drood" I've read, people mostly complain about "Drood" being too long and mostly just Dickens' biography. Neither of these bothered me. I actually enjoyed how SIMMONS took his time and 'spent' many pages to create a perfect atmosphere and explain the background of the story. Admittedly, this was probably a bit easier for him than if he set his story in a fictional place, because a lot is known about 19th century London and its upper class, but it still takes a certain amount of skill to present it as intriguing and engrossing as SIMMONS did. "Drood" hardly reads as a history textbook or a biography, more as a work of pure fiction. One of the possible reasons to why its length didn't really bother me might lie in the fact that I've recently read a lot of first-part-of-the-series novels, and they rarely left me satisfied because they centered more on action, offering an immediate, but not lasting satisfaction, and less on explanation and wholeness – there is enough time for the latter in one of the sequels. "Drood," though, is a standalone novel, and as such has to offer some explanation, background and so on.

As for the biography part of criticism – well, I can't really say, since in all those years I spent in school, we only mentioned Dickens a couple of times. And when I say mentioned, I mean exactly that – we listed his name along with other writers of his era, but we never got further than that. We never had to read any of his works, and I never knew that Wilkie Collins existed. Because of that, reading "Drood" was in a way like watching a great documentary; biography was just a logical part of the book and I found it more interesting than boring.

As mentioned, SIMMONS takes a step forward from "The Terror" here; by introducing an unreliable narrator, he successfully manages to blur the line between facts and fiction and thus piquing reader's interest. The book starts as a tale of two 19th century writers' everyday life, but slowly evolves into a gripping and unexpected tale, full of suspense. Highly recommended.



I'm totally out of practice, guys. I don't remember the last time I read so little. I've read maybe 10-20 books since June, which is just SAD. I have written 2 (unfinished) reviews. Sucks to be me, I guess?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Six feet under...and digging my way back out

So what have I been up to the last couple of months that I haven't been blogging? Nothing much really. I'm stuck in a rut and I'm slowly digging my way back out of the mire. Even though I've been procrastrinating on an exponential level I still haven't been completely idle where reading is concerned - I've been close enough to stone cold idle though - and while I don't have the drive or the energy to write full-blown reviews let me give you a quick recap of what I've read lately and what are my thoughts on the books.

After I've reviewed DAVID LUIS EDELMAN's "Infoquake", that was way back in June, I've tackled (for the 7th time now) the mind-boggling saga Malazan Book of the Fallen. "Reaper's Gale" is not the best book in the series, but it is still a substantial effort by the fantasy powerhouse that goes by the name STEVEN ERIKSON. I'm not going into the details, so if you are unfamiliar with the series you can go and catch up on some of the older reviews I've written ("Midnight Tides" is actually the opening review for this site; at that time I was still learning the ropes of how and what to write so it is most definitely too long and unfocused, but it went a lot of effort into writing it). "Reaper's Gale" is, in my opinion, a weaker work than the initial four novels, but feels tighter and more focused than both"Midnight Tides" and "The Bonehunters". Malazan Book of the Fallen definitely remains a hallmark of modern fantasy, and "Reaper's Gale" only solidifys this notion.

After the hefty Malazan novel I had a taste for something smaller in volume, but not necessarily lighter of content. I found what I was looking for with URSULA K. LeGUIN's "The Dispossessed". It's no secret that I'm a fan of her work. "The Left Hand of Darkness" was a terrific work of fiction and one of my favourite reads of all time and while I wasn't as enthused with "The Lathe of Heaven" -- another of her masterworks -- "The Disspossesed" reminded me of LeGUIN's lucid insights into the human condition and her brilliant characterization skills. The ending was lukewarm in comparison with the rest of the novel, but a very strong work of fiction on overall, totally deserving of the Masterwork title and all the awards it got back in the day. Highly recommended.

"Heroes Die" and "The Blade of Tyshalle" by MATTHEW WOODRING STOVER are certainly works of fiction that I shouldn't have postponed reading for so long. STOVER -- a close example to PAUL KEARNEY in this particular case -- is another gem of fantasy literature who deserves more widespread recognition (and audience). He has a devoted following among the genre fans, which comes as a no surprise to me, but his works never cut it as deep into the mainstream as have titles from some lesser authors. His Star Wars novels, namely "Traitor", "Shatterpoint" and "Revenge of the Sith", are considered among the best works that were written in this particular shared world, but again, author's renown usually rises and falls with the original work he writes...which brings us to THE ACTS OF CAINE. The Acts of Caine are, by this moment, an unfinished fantasy series that consist of the following novels: "Heroes Die" (1997), "Blade of Tyshalle" (2001) and "Caine Black Knife" (2005, Act of Atonement: Book One). Book Two of the Act of Atonement, "His Father's Fist", is forthcoming. There is a rumor of more books about Caine to be written and he has recently signed a deal to write a novelization of a popular "God of War" videogame (Kraitos, the character you play in the game, has Caine written on it forehead really), but I digress. Caine is Badass, period. Following Caine's story is an absolute joy ride, but what makes these books good aren't the inventively portrayed acts of distilled bone-crushing violence, but the fact that you care about Caine and what happens to him. STOVER is a smart writer and his characterization is quite on the spot. Where STOVER fails in "Heroes Die" is the pretty straightforward plot and the feeling that he could expand on the world-building (the ideas are good, but the author rarely deviates from the fast moving plot and Caine's story), which makes the book a bit "provincial". But all this doesn't lessen my opinion of the novel, since STOVER addresses all the shortcomings of book one in "Blade of Tyshalle" and disperses all the doubts I had that Acts of Caine won't meet the high expectations I had about them. Truly remarkable.


I have no idea what I'll read next, but I'll let myself be surprised and I hope I'll be able to write a review or two in the near future and brake this stupor I've gotten myself into. Until the next good book is read...


~ ThRiNiDiR ~

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Richelle Mead - Thorn Queen (Book Review)

"THORN QUEEN" (Amazon: UK, US)
Format: Paperback, 480/384 pages
Publisher: Bantam Books / Zebra Books (August 2009)
About a year ago, I read and reviewed the first book of Dark Swan series, Storm Born, which came as a pleasant surprise. Naturally, I was excited to hear that the sequel was coming out this year and when I got the book, I started reading it as soon as I could find some time. Sadly, I have to say that it wasn't worth it.

The beginning once again introduces us to Eugenie's everyday (which I found pretty nice since I'd forgotten most of what has happened in the first book). This time around, Eugenie spends most of her days in Otherworld, since she is now the Thorn Queen there. Her country, being magical, has changed to suit her, but the inhabitants of Thorn Land have some hard time adapting to the climate changes. Eugenie is distraught and wants to help them, but by doing so, she has to put her talents to use, learn some more magic and decide on where her loyalties lie.

The plot is promising and pretty well-written, even if it seems that we've heard it all before. It's too bad that Mead doesn't leave it at that, but instead proceeds to throw in the element of paranormal romance – quite a lot of it. It seemed as if every chapter ended with a long scene of Eugenie and Kiyo having wild, rough sex. These love scenes are not even good, and after reading two or three of them, I simply started skipping them, because they were all the same. It was pretty annoying, not to mention being a really obvious filler for when Mead got out of ideas or simply wanted to prolong the book (without the sex scenes, it would've been shorter for at least a half) – I can't even say that she wanted to spice things up a bit, because it was all so utterly boring.

The humour, which I enjoyed quite a lot in the first book, has now faltered as well; in Thorn Queen, dialogues seem watered down and uninteresting. I admit I was under a lot of stress at the time of reading this book, so that might have influenced my views a bit, but I still think the fault lies mostly in Mead's writing. There was some lack of research on her part that did nothing to improve things – I could hardly laugh at Ladyxmara72 (a girl who met Eugenie in person and insisted on being addressed with her World of Warcraft character name), when I find it almost common knowledge that WoW characters can't have numbers in their names. It's a very silly, not to say sloppy mistake, but it destroyed that character for me, rendering her completely unconvincing. You can't submerge yourself into plot that way, not when such mistakes make you aware that the characters are just a product of an author that did not do her research well enough and don't, by any chance, resemble real people. And I always thought geeks were the easiest characters to write, because there are so many stereotypes about them that are actually true in plenty of cases. Meh.

Thorn Queen is a huge step backwards from what we've seen in Storm Born. The plot is all but put on the sidetrack and the whole book mostly revolves about Eugenie's sexual life, when it should be the other way around. Thus, Thorn Queen firmly sets itself into the sub-genre of paranormal romance, and will probably appeal to fans of Twilight and the like. Too bad, really – the plot had much potential, but has become more of an excuse for sex scenes.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Just so you know - we're back. Or at least I am. :) I'm currently in UK (in Hay-on-Wye until 17th and then in London), relaxing and book-hunting, and I feel ready to get RoSF running again, so there will be new reviews soon. Yay. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2009 Hugo Award Winners

2009 Hugo Award Winners were presented at Anticipation, the 67th World Science Fiction Convention, in Montréal, which was held from August 6-10, 2009.

The Winners:

  • Best Novel: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
  • Best Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
  • Best Novelette: “Shoggoths in Bloom”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)
  • Best Short Story: “Exhalation”, Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: David Anthony Durham
  • Best Related Book: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008, John Scalzi (Subterranean Press)
  • Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter, story; Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, screenplay; Andrew Stanton, director (Pixar/Walt Disney)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Joss Whedon, & Zack Whedon, & Jed Whedon, & Maurissa Tancharoen, writers; Joss Whedon, director (Mutant Enemy)
  • Best Editor Short Form: Ellen Datlow
  • Best Editor Long Form: David G. Hartwell
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Semiprozine: Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal
  • Best Fanzine: Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima
  • Best Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan
  • Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu
Congratulations to all the winners!

source: The Hugo Awards

Saturday, August 1, 2009

So, why is there nothing new?

After I had to write a post like this last year, I honestly hoped I won't have to do it again. I don't know what is with those summers, but they seem to be our weakest point - last year, we were simply lazy, and this year we're too busy to write anything.

First of all, Thrinidir has regular job now, and although it's only a half-time one, he still has less spare time than usual. I had a summer job up until yesterday, an annoying, tiresome and badly paid thing, but I couldn't afford to drop it since this year nobody seems to want a student for a summer job. Every time I called a potential employer, there were cca 30 other girls who also wanted the same job. You can imagine that I was pretty happy when my mother made me a lecture about how I really need to pass all of my remaining exams (no shit, Sherlock) and offered to pay me whatever money I would otherwise earn with the aforementioned job. It's not the ideal solution (I hate to financially depend on my mother), but right now, I'm too happy about never having to return to that annoying job to care.

The second thing is that we (me and Thrinidir, that is) decided to move in together. It was a quite sudden decision, and we didn't have much time to find an apartment (until the end of August, because then I'd have to sign my student room lease), so you can imagine we were quite busy in the last few weeks. I promised to myself that I'd write an update for RoSF, explaining everything, when we find an apartment and sign the lease. We did that on Wednesday and I've been writing this ever since, because I found out that there is so much to an apartment than just finding it - we still had to paint the walls (and it took us 4 days, preparations included, while we were so sure it will take a day or maybe two) and now we have to decide what to bring with us and what to leave behind. There is probably not enough room for all of our books, let alone all of our things. But it's our apartment and I'm really happy about it, especially now it's all clad in bright colors.

There are my upcoming exams as well. Two of them should present no problem, but there's a third one which is a pain and the main reason why I haven't been able to relax all summer (ie. July). There is also an extra one which is supposed to be easy and will serve as a boost for my grades, because the criteria for my scholarship all of the sudden went sky high. The exams are also the reason why there were no reviews from me in June (except for the Blood of Ambrose one). All in all, the sooner I get rid of those damn exams, the happier I'll be.

I think that's mostly it. It's the first year I've been too busy to spend at least one weekend at sea, I've read all of 2 books in the whole month and I feel really, really bad about not updating RoSF. I just wanted to explain why there are no new reviews and when to expect them (when I'm through with my exams, so this can be either September or October). Sorry, folks. I'll do my best not to keep you waiting for too long.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

David Gunn's "Death's Head" - Giveaway contest winners!

Thanks to all of the participants who entered the competition, but the books are going to only two persons, and they are...

Suzana Confalonieri, Italy
and Luka Finžgar, Slovenia

The books are going to be shipped as soon as possible and the date of arrival depends only on how fast the guys on the post work :). I'd again like to thank the good people at Transworld, who made this giveaway possible and to the rest of you, better luck next time!

Until another good book finds its reader...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sarah Rees Brennan - Sorcerer and Stone (Free Fiction)

I reviewed SARAH REES BRENNAN's debut, "The Demon Lexicon", back in March, and found it an appealing YA novel. She has now come up with an idea for promoting her book with gifts and free fiction - a short story entitled Sorcerer and Stone (I haven't decided yet whether the title, as well as some other things, is a deliberate reference to Harry Potter or not), which tells the background of one of the characters in "The Demon's Lexicon". You can read the short story here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

David Louis Edelman - Infoquake (Book Review)

"INFOQUAKE" (Amazon: UK, US)
Format: Paperback, 432/534 pages
Publisher: Prometheus Books / Pyr ( July 2006)

In the distant future, a few centuries after a big societal revolution and the war against the thinking machines, the science and business of bio/logics is what keeps the world turning. Bio/logics - the science of using programming code that helps manage and extend the capabilities of human body and mind - is the forte of Nacht and his personal fiefcorp. Nacht, a shrewd businessman and a brilliant programmer, and his employees find themselves at the crux of it all when Nacth receives a business proposal to implement, make practical and promote a revolutionary new technology under the name of MultiReal. While this is, without a doubt, the opportunity of their lives, no one really knows yet what this MultiReal is and on top of that, the worlds most powerful and pervasive force, The Defense and Wellness Council, doesn't look too kindly upon the emancipatory implications of this new technology...


DAVID LOUIS EDELMAN creates within "Infoquake" a vivid, high-tech future, of which he focuses mainly on what he knows most of - programming, marketing, technology, office and intercorporational relations. The author, however, does not completely neglect the human factor that keeps the reader from losing interest in the tale. There is much focus on the subjects mentioned above, and while they are of little interest to this reader, he nevertheless manages to present them in a lucid and, for the most part, unobtrusive manner. There are a lot of layers to the world EDELMAN created, but infodumps are surprisingly sparse. If there is anything left unexplained or you find something confusing, you can easily search it up in the handy appendix at the end of the novel. The author succeeded at extracting the essence of the contemporary corporate and capitalist driven world and projected it into a future setting. Thus, the story of "Infoquake" operates on a higher level as an effective allegory of here and now. All this brings credibility -- and the promise to the reader that he can decipher the story -- to the world of "Infoquake". The world-building is still fantastic enough to feel sf-nal, though.

EDELMAN is an apt writer. His style is clean and flowing. I especially admired the observations characters make about themselves and others. I often found myself reading aloud specific passages from the book to my significant other, because even though I wasn't as captivated by the novel as I'd like to be, I still wanted to state my appreciation for the author's writing skills (i.e. I could easily relate to his way of thinking and I enjoyed his lucid insights, whether it be into how society works, how one conducts business, how people relate to each other or what makes a person tick). EDELMAN does a great job at making you keep reading a story, even if you don't find the plot all that interesting.

Characters are, with the exception of Nacht, all a bit underdeveloped. Nacht is a strong-willed, goal-driven, charismatic and somewhat enigmatic protagonist who walks a thin line between being a hero or an anti-hero. Jara, one of the Nacht's employees, perfectly recapitulates the readers attitude towards Nacht: she is fascinated by and attracted to his strong vision and charisma, but she also despises him for his self-assured and sometimes obsessive ways.

The biggest problem of "Infoquake" is its lukewarm story. The start is slow and the climaxes, such as they are, lack emphasis. The ending, especially, doesn't provide the tension and/or catharsis the way EDELMAN leads us to expect. This is mostly due to the fact that the revolutionary new technology - the MultiReal, fails to impress. If you can't go without devious plot twists, high drama, swirling emotions, action-packed scenes, gritty violence or explicit sex scenes then this book offers little for your tastes. Emphasis lies elswhere and it's not such a drag I made it sound like.

Rat's reading sarcastically promotes "Infoquake" with the following words: "If you like to see all the office politics behind the creation of a Powerpoint presentation, then this book is for you!". While Rat's words are uncomplimentary to an extent I wouldn't mimic for they are a bit rude and simplify things way too much, but if I wouldn't like the book upon reading it, which I did, this appraisal by Rat would, I'm afraid, strike home. For there is wit and a bit of truth in his sarcasm.

Hallmarks of "Infoquake" are (1) a detailed and well thought out future society (especially the driving force behind it: bio/logics), (2) memorable writing (3) and a few really memorable sections of the story (e.g. Nacht's backstory), but this qualitities can't full compensate for some of the jutting drawbacks, namely, (1) a somewhat tepid plot, which is also (2) plagued by meandering pace and insubstantial climaxes - or lack thereof, (3) underdeveloped characters (with exception of Nacht), and finally: (4) MultiReal, a technology that fails to impress, even though it was obviously meant to since the whole novel is structured around it.

All in all, "Infoquake" is a slightly above average debut with a few brilliant features and storytelling moments, and it shows DAVID LOUIS EDELMAN as a promising new author, but it ultimatelly lacks substance and charisma for me to recommend it to you.
~ ThRiNiDiR ~

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Eye Candy Covers XI

BRANDON SANDERSON, if u haven't heard of him yet, is becoming one of the most recognisable names in the fantasy genre. His "Mistborn" trilogy garnered much praise from both readers and critics alike, as have his standalone novels "Elantris" and "Warbreaker". The latter was originally released under a Creative Commons non-commercial, non-derivative work license, but was recently (June 6 2009) re-realeased as a hardcopy by Tor Books. What this means is, while you can now buy a nifty hardcopy version of "Warbreaker" from a local bookstore, the rough version of the book is still available online for no fee at all. If the name BRANDON SANDERSON still doesn't ring a bell, he is the guy who will write the last three books of "The Wheel of Time" saga after the passing-away of ROBERT JORDAN. To deliver such a prominent franchise into the hands of a relative newbie is a great show of faith from the publisher, but you can be sure that their decision hasn't been incidental and I don't think we'll see a drop in quality. Quite the contrary actually. I think that SANDERSON will revitalize the series by infusing into it fresh ideas while remaining true to the spirit of JORDAN's original vision. The first of the three books, entitled "The Gathering Storm", has been completed and will see the light of day in early November 2009. The cover art for "The Gathering Storm" has been released and all I can say is that it is absolutely awful, maybe even a contender for this year's crappiest cover. Now, can you see the irony in this post? :)

The cover art I've posted above is going to adorn the first book in the UK edition of the "Mistborn" trilogy (US editions, both hardcover and paperback, were hit and miss as is to be expected by now) that was originally realeased in 2007 and 2008 by Tor Books. The cover art is stunning, if you appreciate the minimalist approach, as I do. If I could describe it with as little words as possible they would be something in the vein of: delicate, graceful, clean and unobtrusive to the senses. Good job.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fw: Where'd the Enthusiasm Go

This is not a review, a promotion, a give-away (it is, but of a diferent sort), a rant or anything that has to do with fantasy genre in general; this is about me. The lamentable thing is -- from my perspective -- that somebody else is advocating my, up until that moment, unrealised thoughts. Thoughts and reflection on why we started blogging in the first place. I could summarize and rehash Aidan's post...but honestly, I would just butcher a well-versed, poignant and lucid contemplation/confession/resolution that jarred me from my own stupor...

I'm not sure what needs to be done, or even if anything can be done, but I'll certainly try to set my priorities straight.

Thought of the moment (to cite one of my good friends): "Life is not a cake walk."

For an insight into many a blogger head -- mine included -- go and read Aidan's post.

Monday, June 22, 2009

China Miéville on J.R.R. Tolkien

MIÉVILLE's derogatory opinion of J.R.R. TOLKIEN is pervasive and documented. His leftist criticism from a few years back denotes TOLKIEN as stultifying (i.e. tending to humiliate), reactionary, pompous, petty and in favour of status quo among other things. He consciously strived to move fantasy away from TOLKIEN's influence. In other words, MIÉVILLE's goal -- as I understand it -- was to make fantasy more aware of the problems of contemporary world, to make fantasy socialist, subversive and revolutionary, critical of the ruling elite and in favour of the common man. MIÉVILLE's position on the genre is, as he admitted himself, also indebted to MICHAEL MOORCOCK. MOORCOCK's highly critical and somewhat elitist position on the genre, or rather, the genre paradigm stemming directly from TOLKIEN is evident in the article titled "Epic Pooh", which is also well worth reading.

Now, "Lord of the Rings" was the first fantasy book I've read -- how cliched, I know :) -- and I don't, or rather, I won't, say a bad thing about it. Of course, I'm open to criticisms directed at "LOTR", as long as they are rational and constructive, and I wouldn't go out of my way to stubbornly defend it (I'm stallwart, but I'm not that rigid). But when it comes to me thinking about reviewing the trilogy, I wouldn't want to do it, because I don't feel that I'm grown up to the task. I'm positive that my attempts at impartiality would be utterly thwarted by my own feelings of affection and nostalgia. All this holds true only, if I wouldn't be completely disillusioned upon rereading "LOTR", but which I wasn't when I did reread it a couple of years ago, so it does, hold true that is.

In one of MIÉVILLE's latest entries as a guest blogger on Omnivoracious, he tempers his past commentaries on TOLKIEN with what could be called a praise or even a hommage -- he even mentiones the words grateful and rocks -- to the forefather of the large piece of contemporary epic fantasy, if only from the perspective of MIÉVILLE's past barrage of denunciation. Although he still acknowledges that even an author of TOLKIEN's fame can and -- exactly because of such high standing -- must be open to intellectual reproach, he nevertheless gives TOLKIEN credit for the achievments and contributions he's made to the genre, which, MIÉVILLE admits, were seminal and substantial. The essayistic manner in which MIÉVILLE wrote "There and Back Again: Five Reasons Tolkein Rocks" makes it for a dense, scholary read, but the five reasons can, basically, be boiled down to this:

  1. TOLKIEN was responsible for a tectonic shift of focus in storytelling; a shift from Greco-Roman mythology to a more yeasty Norse Magic. Greco-Roman influence on fiction was run of the mill at that time and MIÉVILLE views it as "too clean," "overburdened with percision," and "as cold as Greek and Roman marble". Norse mythos is, on the other hand, more fleshy, anti-moralistic and, well...awesome.
  2. TOLKIEN's vision is tragic. This is a noble trait that most of those who followed in his footsteps forgot -- intentionally or unintentionally -- to take over. The ending of "LOTR" is not happy, even though the good guys win. It is an end of a glorious age: the magic is going west with the elves, a premonition of a more mundane, and thus poorer future. The book ends with strong melancholia and nostalgia for times that are not quite gone yet, but are in passing. All this, argues MIÉVILLE, deserves celebrating and reclaiming.
  3. TOLKIEN " good monster. Shelob, Smaug, the their astounding names, the fearful verve of their descriptions, their various undomesticated malevolence, these creatures are utterly embedded in our world-view. No one can write giant spiders except through Shelob: all dragons are sidekicks now. And so on." All this, coming from a man with seemingly unfathomable imagination, means a lot.
  4. "TOLKIEN explains that he has a 'cordial dislike of allegory'. Amen! Amen!" If "LOTR" would be allegorical, then it would, in one way or another, represent, reflect or suggest resemblance to reality. Metaphor on the other hand does not suggest any such thing. MIÉVILLE still cautions that TOLKIEN's work does "throw off metaphors" that do "all sort of things, wittingly or unwittingly, with ideas of society, of class, the war etc.", but where metaphors "evade stability", allegory, on the other hand, is, "in some reductive way, primarily, solely, or really 'about' something else, narrowly and precisely." An allegorical work of fiction gives promise to the reader that he can 'solve' it by finding a right key, by decoding it, and "TOLKIEN knows that that makes for both clumsy fiction and clunky code. His dissatisfaction with the Narnia books was in part precisely because they veered too close to allegory, and therefore did not believe in their own landscape." So, in MIÉVILLE's view, "LOTR" is worthwile, because it believes in itself and in the world created within. It is 'lartpourlart' in its true sense and whichever stereotypes it does reproduce and if it defends the status quo, it does so evasively and unintentionally. I'm curious though, how does MIÉVILLE's work relate to allegory? Isn't he guilty of the same thing he stands so firmly against in this treatise?
  5. "Middle Earth was not the first invented world, of course. But in the way the world is envisaged and managed, it represents a revolution." Middle Earth was not the first, but definitely "an outstanding herald" of the fantasy worlds that are not secondary to the plot. TOLKIEN represents a paradigm shift which reverses the order of things: "the world comes first, and then, and only then, things happen--stories occur--within it." TOLKIEN calls this process 'subcreation' and it is now, probably, the default fantasy mode and an extremely potent literary approach, whether you denigrate or praise it. MIÉVILLE laments the fact that there is little to no theoretical work on this technique as of yet.
MIÉVILLE concludes his article in a lenient, mannerly way: "There are plenty of other reasons to be grateful to Tolkien, of course--and reasonable reasons to be ticked off at him, too: critique, after all has its place. But so does admiration..." You can read the article in its entirety here.

While MIÉVILLE doesn't recall his past harsh criticism of TOLKIEN, he nevertheless tempers and balances it out by complimenting the Professor and giving him acclaim, where acclaim is due. I'm just curious what brought him 'about'? Was the article written as a consequence of the process of MIÉVILLE's 'wising up' with age or is there a more pragmatic reason behind it? James takes an educated guess and speculates that MIÉVILLE's article comes as an indirect reposte to the RICHARD MORGAN's rant and I'm inclined to agree with him.

~ ThRiNiDiR ~

Sunday, June 21, 2009

In the Limelight - The Winner of The David Gemmell Award for 2009 Announced

On April 12th the shortlist for the first DAVID GEMMELL LEGEND AWARD was announced and the final five nominees were as follows:

"Last Argument of Kings" by JOE ABERCROMBIE
"Heir to Sevenwaters" by JULIET MARILLIER
"The Hero of Ages" by BRANDON SANDERSON
"Blood of Elves" by ANDRZEJ SAPKOWSKI
"The Way of Shadows" by BRENT WEEKS
The award ceremony has taken place on June 19 in the Magic Circle in London and at the end of the night THE DAVID GEMMELL LEGEND AWARD went to:
"Blood of Elves" by ANDRZEJ SAPKOWSKI
Congratulations to the winner and condolences to the rest! I haven't yet read "Blood of the Elves", but if I could judge it by "The Last Wish" (SAPKOWSKI's first novel translated into English and reviewed here) then I'd say it was a strong candidate at the least. Now I have no excuse to delay reading it anymore.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

David Gunn - Maximum Offense (Giveaway)

Thanks to the folks at Transworld, we have two giveaway copies of DAVID GUNN's "Death Head's: Maximum Offense" (2008; Amazon UK) - a direct sequel to "Death's Head" (2007) - for you to win. If you'd like to find out more bout this in-your-face military sf title you can read the review at Graeme's Fantasy Book Review or over at Fantasy Book Critic. A section of what Graeme had to say about the book:
"No expense is spared in bringing the reader the most visceral hand to hand combat, that I’ve seen, along with lots of heavy machinery exploding in a variety of ways. There’s elements of ‘MacGyver’ here as Sven seems able to make use of pretty much anything to get himself out of a tight spot and bring down the enemy."

"‘Maximum Offense’ makes no apologies for what it is, a hefty slice of violent space opera that will entertain. It doesn’t do a lot more than that though so make sure you’re in the right mood to enjoy it before you pick it up (unless you’re a fan already in which case you’ll love it)."
...and here's what Fantasy Book Critic has to say about the book:
"In the end, “Maximum Offense” is basically more of the same in-your-face military SF that was on display in the author’s debut, but where I enjoyed “Death’s Head” I absolutely loved the new book. What’s even better is that there will be at least one more Death’s Head novel and if the first two are any indication, then the book is going to kick some ass…"
If you are interested in having this book for yourself send us an email at sf.fantasy.books[AT] (remember to replace [AT] with @) entitled "DEATH'S HEAD" and containing your full mailing address (name, surname, street etc.). If you don't want your real name/full name posted on our blog when we announce the winners, please include that information in your email.

Because our resources are, unfortunately, still of a very restricted nature, we can't afford to mail the book overseas. What it means is, that this particular giveaway is for European residents only. If you are a member of any particular message board you can include your nickname in the mail as well, but this is not obligatory.

Multiple entries and emails failing to follow the above guidelines will be disqualified.

We will announce the winners of the giveaway on July 7, 2009.

Good luck to all the participants!

Monday, June 8, 2009

James Enge - Blood of Ambrose (Book Review)

"Blood of Ambrose" (Amazon: UK, US)
Format: Paperback, 401 pages
Publisher: Pyr (April 21, 2005)
Like "Midwinter" by MATTHEW STURGES, "Blood of Ambrose" is a novel with a promising blurb and an appealing cover, but it took some time for me to convince myself to pick it up and start reading. Even then, I regarded the first few characters with skepticism: sure, they showed promise, but so did the opening chapters of "Midwinter" and look what those have lead to... Luckily, "Blood of Ambrose" is - among other things - much more coherent than Midwinter, and the opening chapters do not charm the reader in order to make up for a disappointment he will experience later, but rather lead him into a story about a child-king, growing up in a restless age of riots and uprisings.

John from Grasping for the Wind described the plot as "Lathmar's capture, rescue, recapture and rescue again", which correctly describes the gist of it, but there’s more to the story than just the adventures of the little King. "Blood of Ambrose" is an action-packed fantasy, which, despite seeming to revolve around the boy-king Lathmar, actually focuses more on Lathmar’s grown-up ‘assistants’ and his distant relatives: his ‘grandmother’ Ambrosia, her brother, the notorious Mordock, and his apprentice, who all fight Lathmar’s war in order to bring peace back to his kingdom. There is still a lot of focus on Lathmar’s adventures, though, which makes "Blood of Ambrose" a nice blend of YA and fantasy – the not-too-serious narrating tone prevents "Blood of Ambrose" to sound too bleak or ominous when regarding some of the graver events like the uprising of the ‘zombies’ and the painful past of the Ambrosii (i.e. Mordock and Ambrosia). At the same time, we get a pretty realistic picture of Lathmar as a boy: he hardly knows what the grown-ups are talking about half of the time, he has no special skills except for those which are more or less common in his family and his perception is, at times, rather naïve.

Some reviews claim that "Blood of Ambrose" lacks characterization, but I disagree. Sure, there is a lot of unused potential to the characters, but we get to know their main personality traits and since we view them mostly from Lathmar's perspective I think it's only logical that they all seem a bit mysterious and distant – after all, these are the basic attributes of an adult viewed from a child's perspective. There are also a lot of little tidbits of characters' pasts, which implies that we'll get to know them even better in the sequel, This Crooked Way (personally, I suspect that Mordock will appear there as the main character).

"Blood of Ambrose" has other problems, though – what I missed most was humour. There were some attempts at it, but I just didn't find them amusing enough. There were maybe two or three really humorous moments, but mostly, it just seemed as though there were a lot of little holes in the flow of narration or dialogue which should be filled with humour but were, for some reason, left empty.

At times, parts of the story are simply left unfinished, such as the part where Lathmar falls in love and then never mentions or remembers that again. What bothered me as well were the parts with Hope, who only appears a few times; her relationship with Ambrosia could use some more detail and overall complexity. Also, how come Morlock is still confused by the signature in her note to him, when he received a farewell from her just before that? Such small things make the book look unfinished, which is never good.

These flaws aside, "Blood of Ambrose" is still more than a decent debut with a nice, flowing style, intriguing characters and a unique idea. Its ending led me to expect that we'll see a great deal more of Ambrosii in the sequel, and I look forward to it.

---(4 out of five EvilFruitcakes)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

David Eddings has passed away...

DAVID EDDINGS, aged 77, has, sadly, passed away two nights ago, on June 2, 2009. He is most well known for his five-book Belgariad saga, written in 1980'. His fantasy was extremely popular, inspired many contemporary writers, and has helped to carve what we call modern epic fantasy. He was one of the most influential fantasy authors in the eighties and early ninties. Amongst his peers were such authors as Stephen Donaldson and Terry Brooks. While often criticized for his formulaic and repetitive approach to writing (he didn't deny that he started writing fantasy for profit), his works nevertheless possess some inate quality and appeal that made his such a prominent name.

It is always sad to hear that an author passes away, especially one that brought pleasure to so many of us. Our condolances to his family and friends, this truly is sad news for the genre fans. May you rest in peace Mr.Eddings...

source: The Wertzone, Graeme's blog &

Monday, June 1, 2009

Condensed&Appropriated BOOK RELEASES for JUNE 2009

Why condensed and appropriated? Because I shifted through the more extensive publication lists that were published elswhere (I wouldn't want to take credit for other people's work: The Deckled Edge,, The Ostentatious Ogre and Fantasy Book Critic) and I appropriated them for my own needs; since I'm rather picky the list I'm making is also of a condensed nature :).

Without further ado, the books of June 2009 that look especially promising are:

  • "Best Served Cold" (June 1, 2009 UK) by JOE ABERCROMBIE
  • "The Angel's Game" (transl. June 1, 2009 UK and June 16, 2009 US) by CARLOS RUIZ ZAFÓN
  • "Nights of Villjamur" (June 12, 2009 UK) by MARK CHARAN NEWTON
  • "Retribution Falls" (June 18, 2009 UK) by CHRIS WOODING
  • "Naamah's Kiss" (June 24, 2009) by JACQUELINE CAREY
  • "Warbreaker" (June 9, 2009 US) by BRANDON SANDERSON

For the rest of the books being released in June 2009 follow the links above.

As for what you can expect from us in the next couple of weeks is Trin's review of "Blood of Ambrose" by James Enge, my review of "Infoquake" by David Luis Edelman and a new giveaway, so stay tuned...
~ Thrinidir ~

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Alison Goodman's "The Two Pearls of Wisdom" - Giveaway contest winners!

Thanks to all of the participants who entered the competition, but the book is going to only one person, and that person is...

Anne-Elisa, France

The book is going to be shipped as soon as possible and the date of arrival depends only on how fast the guys on the post work :). I'd again like to thank the good people at Transworld, who made this giveaway possible and to the rest of you, better luck next time!

Untill another good book finds its reader...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Carlos Ruiz Zafón - The Shadow of the Wind (Book Review)

"The Shadow of the Wind" (Amazon: UK, US)
Format: Paperback, 544/487 pages
Publisher: Phoenix / Penguin (October 2005 / January 2005)

CARLOS RUIZ ZAFÓN was quite famous in his motherland Spain for his appealing YA literature even before he set his pen to write "The Shadow of the Wind" (which will, from now on, be referred to as "TSotW"). But it was "TSotW" that brought him international fame and recognition as one of the speculative fiction's most promising new authors (where 'new' is a relative term). Even though "TSotW" was written back in 2001 it took several years for the various translations to circle the globe and reach world-wide popularity and acclaim.

If we look at this novel at face value only, it's a pretty straightforward mystery/crime story set in Spain's lascivious metropolis Barcelona in one of it's more ominous periods - reign of fascism and general Franco. Our protagonist, a 10-year-old by the name of Daniel, discovers a spellbinding book and the more fascinated that he becomes with it, the more he prods into it's authors shady past, more dangerous, interwoven and jarring the discoveries and his everyday life become. But "TSotW" wouldn't be written by a Spaniard if it didn't include tinges of Mediterranean passion and love for life. But when you finish the book and think of it, this is so much more than a 'simple' mystery/crime story (which isn't all that simple to begin with), but a book about life itself and why it's worth living for - and what's worth dying for as well. So, like all great literature, "The Shadow of the Wind" transcends any simple genre labeling.

Telling you more about the story than I just did would be pointless and counterproductive to the message I'm trying to convey in this review, but let it be enough to say that the plot itself is as enigmatic, gripping and intense as one would want from a mystery/detective story. The pace - after a slow start - and suspension of disbelief are handled with the guile of a master storyteller for the better part of the novel as well.

Characters are, for the most part, complex and multi-layered, but also most vivid and sympathetic. ZAFÓN is prone to caricature his characters (i.e. representing them in a mildly exaggerated manner for the purpose of comic relief from the otherwise often bleak and dreary content). If there was a specific character in the novel, beside the main protagonist Daniel, that I'd want to expose, it would definitely be Fermin, once secret agent and now homeless person who played for the wrong side and attracted an unwanted attention from a certain vicious police inspector. His musings and dialogues are really an accomplishment of smart writing. ZAFÓN's history as a writer of YA literature is most clearly evident with how he approaches and handles his characters and this is one of the biggest appeals of "TSotW"; characters of this novel stir up the reader in a profound way, they bring out the awe, youth and innocence in us, and it's simply priceless.

If I had any grievances with the book they would be that the start is somewhat slow and that I didn't always like how Zafon handled the relationship between Daniel and his father. Well, when I think on it, quite a few families we meet in "TSotW" are portrayed as at least mildly, if not severely, dysfunctional and estranged, but with Daniel and his father it feels like there is a void in narration; the reader expects some kind of shift, closure or...something, but it never comes. But other than that, "The Shadow of the Wind" is a terrific example of how powerful - as in meaningful, smart and moving - can a scribbled slab of dead wood be. May ZAFÓN's fate never reflect that of Julian Carax*.

----(4,5/5 Fruitcakes)
- -
- Thrinidir -

* Julián Carax - The alleged author of "The Shadow of the Wind". Daniel desperately seeks to find out the truth about this mysterious man: the reasons for his journeys, the truth about his childhood, and the explanation for why his books are all being destroyed.

p.s. Definitely the best book I've read in the last year and a half (rivalled only by the brilliant "Flowers of Algernon" by Daniel Keyes - reviewed by Trin).

Thursday, May 14, 2009


- not your bitch.
I'm glad NEIL GAIMAN agrees with me (I've commented on Aidan's post back in January) and James (link to his post).

To reiterate my comment:

" I usually stay away from GRRM debates, it’s become pointless over the years. Some people are just to thick or plain obsessed to be reached with rational arguments. My stand evolves around the following conviction: GRRM is a writer, and even though this is his profession, it is also a form of art, creative endeavour…you can’t put a deadline on art; well…you can, but the results won’t be satisfying in most cases. I don’t care if he is an outliner or a freewriter, he gets the job done in the end and the only standards he has to live up to are his own, and the only obligation he has is to himself. I’m as big a fan as there is, but I haven’t thought even once that I’m in any kind of position to pester George about it. I don’t care when he does it, as long as he does it the best he can. Fu** the griefers and the bullys and the offended fans, if he does it right, his work will be praised and cherished for decades to come (if not more).

Is George being unprofessional; from mere business perspective - yes, but profession and art don’t go always hand in hand. I think he has chosen the right path.

And why are people upset anyway? There are so MANY good to great authors out there, stellar work is being published almost on weekly basis; do yourself a favour, stop obsessing about ASoIaF and go read something else, if you call yourself a book lover. Breathing down your favorite author’s back and making his life more difficult than it already is is not only distasteful, but plain rude. GRRM seems as a sensible fellow, not entirely unconcerned about what passes around him.

Why shouldn’t he make posts about football and favorite figurines…it is his right and privilege to do so. He is only a human being, not a Writer 24/7 for god’s sake. If you don’t care for his human side, don’t read his not a blog, period. Writers are arstists, creatives…they need inspiration and time for the fruition of their ideas; please don’t rush them.

I’ve only touched upon the topic, but I’ve made my stand clear, I might have even fought fire with fire, but the attitude of some people demanding this and that really bothers me. I don’t believe that writers are untouchable, but some people really go to far. "

And here's what James from Speculative Horizons had to say on the matter:
" I almost called this post 'A Dance With Dickheads' because that's how I view some of the 'fans' that constantly berate George R. R. Martin for the delay in delivering A Dance With Dragons, but then that would just be stooping to their level.

I have posted on this subject before, and I'll now post on it again since the issue of the delay with Dance has once more reared its ugly head. Shawn Speakman proved the spark this time, with an interesting article about how whether any of the criticism of George is justified. Since then, other bloggers have given their views on the whole business:

Wert has written an excellent piece that explains the reason for the discussion in the first place, before giving his own reaction to the various accusations of the 'antifans' (I like that term, it has a nice ring to it...).

Aidan has given his thoughts here (look for the well-considered comment by blogger Thrinidir).

Graeme has also waded into the debate, including an amusing story about the time he met GRRM himself...

I'm a huge fan of GRRM, and naturally I've got my own feelings on the matter. Whereas my fellow bloggers have written carefully considered articles, I'm going to just have a good rant. Apologies in advance if it's a little incoherent...

George R. R. Martin is an amazingly talented writer, and A Song of Ice and Fire is a brilliant fantasy series. We should be grateful that we have had the chance to read his work, and we should appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that he has put into it. Let's be honest here - the guy's given his readers an unsurpassed reading experience and countless hours of enjoyment (and by that I mean not just by reading the books, but debating their many mysteries online). GRRM's work is something to be celebrated and cherished.

Yet sadly we have 'fans' who spend their time berating GRRM's apparent tardiness, demanding fresh news on the long-awaited next novel, and whining about how he's being 'disrespectful' by refusing to reveal how close the book is to completion. These deluded antifans think GRRM should be writing 24/7 to deliver Dance, that he shouldn't watch another second of NFL until the manuscript is turned in, and that when he's not writing he should be updating us all on his progress. GRRM, they squeal, 'owes' us.

What absolute bullshit. GRRM owes us nothing, and anyone who says he's being disrespectful to his fans is deluded. The guy's a human for fuck's sake, not a bloody machine (can you tell I'm getting angry now?). He can't write for 24 hours a day. More than that, just like anyone else, he's entitled to his free time. He needs his free time. So what if he blogs about NFL? So what if he blogs about politics? It's his blog - he can blog about whatever the hell he wants (Aidan, I'm afraid I completely disagree that he should only blog about ASOIAF!).

Oh, but it's distracting him from his writing, they say. He's wasting time that he could spend writing ASOIAF. More bullshit - check out Wert's post for the reason why that argument is a load of hot air.

Look, I'm as big a fan as the next person. ASOIAF is my all-time favourite fantasy series. I am looking forward massively to Dance. But I'm not being a tosser and whining about how long it's taking, and I just don't see why some people feel the need to. There's loads of excellent books by other authors out there, so go and read something else while you wait!

What many readers don't understand is that writing is an organic process. It ebbs and flows. It's not like a factory conveyor belt, churning out the same product every time. You have good days and bad days. Sometimes you hit a brick wall and can't get past it. Other times, you feel unstoppable. You just can't rush it. You have to take your time. Writing isn't easy, as some people think. It's bloody hard at times - as someone who's had work published before, I know this from personal experience. We just have to accept that Dance will be done when it's done, and only GRRM knows when that will be (or maybe not even he knows).

Look, I don't deny that GRRM made a mistake saying Dance would follow closely on the heels of Feast. With hindsight, that was the spark that led to all these pointless flame wars and I think GRRM would be the first to admit that he's learned a lesson. However, I wouldn't go as far to call him unprofessional, which is the stance that Speakman takes. Go ask his publisher and see if they give you the same answer - I doubt it somehow.

I admit the odd update on his progress would be appreciated. But even when he did give us updates, people complained about their lack of frequency. So he's criticised if he does give updates and criticised if he doesn't. No wonder it drove him nuts and he gave up on updates altogether. I think some people would only be satisfied if he updated us every day, and that is just never going to happen.

You know what riles me the most? The antifans that claim GRRM is rude/discourteous to his fans. That is a total crock of shit. I've met GRRM, and as I've said before, he's a true gent. Great sense of humour, very humble and really down-to-earth. When I told him I dabbled in short fiction, he asked me what I'd had published. He then gave me a few words of advice. Discourteous? Disrespectful? Hardly.

In fact, it's the antifans that are being disrespectful. Hurling abuse at a man that has given them so much enjoyment is childish, petulant and downright stupid. We should show GRRM the respect he deserves, and wait patiently while he makes Dance as good as it can be. If it takes another five years, then so be it. I'll still be here. "

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Frank Beddor - The Looking Glass Wars (Book Review)

"Looking Glass Wars" (Amazon: UK / US)
Format: Paperback, 384 / 400 pages
Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd. / Puffin (May 2005 / August 2007)
Princess Alyss Heart’s life turns upside down when her vicious Aunt Redd beheads Alyss' mother and begins to rule over Wonderland with an iron fist. Alyss escapes from Wonderland and is exiled to Victorian London, where she is adopted into a new family, renamed Alice, and befriended by Lewis Carroll. Wonderland never leaves her mind, though, and at age 20 she returns to Wonderland in wish to overthrow Redd.


Wonderland is real, folks. Carroll enthusiast, proceed to jump with glee. Someone--somewhere--has stepped forward, once again shedding the light on the classic adventure of a girl who stumbles upon a bustling rabbit and a strange little world. I, being one of the Wonderland-junkies, had to pick it up and make sure Carroll’s legacy was being kept properly.

Too bad that Looking Glass Wars was not much to my liking.

Not that it wasn’t an enjoyable read. It was. I read it in one sitting, almost entirely immersed in this vicious new Wonderland, where only the disloyal and heartless survive. I was incredibly impressed with Mr. BEDDOR’s imagination with the whole thing. He took a children’s book with roughly drawn characters and turned it into this maniacal world with armies and palaces … I could even go as far to say that he has created an entirely new world. The idea of turning the Cheshire Cat into a Cat assassin with nine lives was brilliant. The Mad Hatter has become a loyal but deadly guard for Queen Genevieve (aka the White Queen) and her daughter, Alyss Heart. The Red Queen/Queen of Hearts is, of course, the sinister Redd, and the wise scholar Bibwit Harte (an anagram for White Rabbit) is the royal tutor.

I’m not good at summaries in the least, so I’ll just get to the point: it was okay. Not marvelous, not terrible. Simple okay. The setting is fantastic, unbelievably creative, with such an amazing twist on everything. This might have, however, been the downfall of the whole thing.

It seems like the author spent SO MUCH DAMN TIME coming up with the setting, twisting these characters into generals and queens and princesses, that he forgot about the rest. It feels like he spent too much time exploring one scene, then remembered he had a plot to follow and rushed it through so he could quickly get to the next part. When I read books, the first thing I look for is a connection to the characters. Am I rooting for him/her? Am I invested in their life? Do I want them to win? I did not find any of this with Alyss Heart.
Looking Glas Wars is narrated in a cold, detached third person point of view, and the author separated the moment she fell into Victorian London and thirteen years later when she returns to Wonderland with a single paragraph. There is no time for the reader to relate to Alyss, or even to get to know her well.
First she’s seven and running around with a group of homeless orphans. The next moment she‘s ten and put in an orphanage. In a nick of time, she’s eleven and adopted and trying to push aside her Wonderland memories. Finally, she’s twenty and all of a sudden a powerful queen. I really wouldn’t mind reading an extra two hundred pages or so as long as there would be more insight, perspective and details. It would have been interesting to see how she adjusts to this new, drab world. She comes from Wonderland, a place full of color and imagination and strange creatures, to one of the bleakest places of the Victorian era, where women are meant to stay in their place and imagination is near-sin. There is a prince who proposes to her, their relationship is described in five paragraphs, tops, and when they’re about to get married, she’s suddenly back in Wonderland with little to no transitions explaining this.
She mentions that she loves the Liddels, who raised her, but she hardly even describes them or the rest of the family whatsoever. The only one she describes at length is Mrs. Liddel, and what she has to say about her is not really positive. How am I supposed to cares for these people when she left them without a thought, replacing herself with a figurative clone she created of herself (using imagination, which has obviously become a kind of superpower). There is no indication that she misses them, even though they were raising her since she was ten, or that she missed Wonderland during the time of her exile. Upon her return, everyone greets each other with quick, cold mutterings that hardly reflect the fact that none of them have seen each other for most of Alyss’ life.

Honestly, I could go on like this all day, but then my rating would make no sense. Despite the plot being rushed and detached from the characters, the setting was really imaginative and made "Looking Glass Wars" quite fun to read. "Looking Glass Wars" has brisk pace with a lot of action sequences, and some of the characters - such as Jack of Diamonds - are just hilarious to read about. While this may not be enough to overlook the sloppily written plot, it does make "Looking Glass Wars" an enjoyable light read.

~ Dannie ~

Monday, May 11, 2009

Alison Goodman - The Two Pearls of Wisdom (Giveaway)

Thanks to the folks at Transworld, we have one giveaway copy of ALISON GOODMAN's "The Two Pearls of Wisdom" (2008) for you to win. If you aren't familiar with this endearing fantasy title, you can read Trin's review here. She liked it quite a bit and calls it feminine and graceful; here is a snippet of what she had to say about it:

"...successfully manages to merge the essence of the Orient and a classical tale of a commoners (who is, in this case, also disadvantaged by being a cripple and a woman in a patriarchal society) rise to power and fame, all wrapped into a delightful story of intrigue, warfare and discovering one’s past. All in all, “The Two Pearls of Wisdom” is a very enjoyable read, which flows smoothly and never fails to hold your attention, but brings nothing new to the - full laden fantasy - table."

If you are interested in having this book for yourself send us and email at sf.fantasy.books[AT] (remember to replace [AT] with @) entitled "TWO PEARLS" and containing your full mailing address (name, surname, street etc.). Because our resources are of a very restricted nature we can't afford to mail the book overseas, alas. What it means is, that this particular giveaway is for European residents only. If you are a member of any particular message board you can include your nickname in the mail as well, but this is not obligatory.

Multiple entries and emails failing to follow the above guidelines will be disqualified.

We will announce the winners of the giveaway on May 31, 2009.

Good luck to all the participants!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Michael Moorcock - The Stealer of Souls (Free Fiction)

MICHAEL MOORCOCK is a legend of science fiction and fantasy. Period. Despite the fact that he has written quite a few distinguished literary novels (he never dedicated himself fully to fantasy or science fiction) he is nevertheless most known for his recurrent creation of the the Eternal Champion, where "Elric of Melniboné" and his adventures represent only one part of the Multiverse, but they are undoubtedly his most popular works to date. Elric is an anti-hero (he is the actual prototype for the anti-hero characters that came after him) written as a deliberate reversal of what Moorcock saw as clichés commonly found in fantasy adventure novels at that time (think Lord of the Rings or Conan).

In 2008, Del Rey Books reprinted the original, classic Elric material as a series of three illustrated books: "The Stealer of Souls", "To Rescue Tanelorn", and "The Sleeping Sorceress". Subsequent volumes appearing in 2009 (Duke Elric and Elric in the Dream Realms) and 2010 will reprint later material.

And now, "The Stealer of Souls" (the first reprinted book), is available for free and you can download it via following links: Download, Kindle, Sony Reader,

And if you are interested in synopsis:
When Michael Moorcock began chronicling the adventures of the albino sorcerer Elric, last king of decadent Melniboné, and his sentient vampiric sword, Stormbringer, he set out to create a new kind of fantasy adventure, one that broke with tradition and reflected a more up-to-date sophistication of theme and style. The result was a bold and unique hero’”weak in body, subtle in mind, dependent on drugs for the vitality to sustain himself’”with great crimes behind him and a greater destiny ahead: a rock-and-roll antihero who would channel all the violent excesses of the sixties into one enduring archetype.

Now, with a major film in development, here is the first volume of a dazzling collection of stories containing the seminal appearances of Elric and lavishly illustrated by award-winning artist John Picacio’”plus essays, letters, maps, and other material. Adventures include ‘The Dreaming City,’ ‘While the Gods Laugh,’ ‘Kings in Darkness,’ ‘Dead God’s Homecoming,’ ‘Black Sword’s Brothers,’ and ‘Sad Giant’s Shield.’

An indispensable addition to any fantasy collection, Elric: The Stealer of Souls is an unmatched introduction to a brilliant writer and his most famous’”or infamous’”creation.


blogger templates 3 columns | Make Money Online