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- The Other Gemmell (by Mihir Wanchoo)
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"Having written my lovely high fantasy, I sat back to await the world’s reaction.
What I had not anticipated was that readers would refuse to recognize it as a fantasy at all."
"I sold Metropolitan to a new publisher for a pleasing increase in my advance. I was somewhat traumatized by leaving Tor, but not when Ralph relayed their final message: “When Walter finally realizes what he’s worth, he’s welcome to come back.”
To which anyone of spirit can only reply, ***** ***"
Ever since Stella Gemmell partook into the world of Troy as imagined by David Gemmell, readers got to read a conclusion worthy of the saga begun by David. The best part about the third book was that even though it was started by David and finished by Stella, one could hardly ascertain one part from the other. It seemed like a seamless piece and one that delivered a powerful conclusion to Homer’s story.
It’s been nearly five years since Stella was published and so I was very excited to see her name come up with the announcement of a new title. This was announced first over at the Bookseller:
Transworld editorial director Simon Taylor bought UK and Commonwealth rights to The City, described as "a fantasy on an epic scale", plus a sequel, from Howard Morhaim of the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. The City will be published in spring 2013. Taylor said that Morhaim had always answered subsequent queries as to whether Stella Gemmell might be tempted to write another work with a diplomatic "Who knows?" but that when he revealed a novel had been written, and Taylor read the manuscript, "the hairs on the back of my neck started to prickle."
Taylor continued: "Stella has written a breathtaking epic fantasy that is not only going to get David’s fans reaching for their superlatives but also win her a legion of new readers in her own right. The City – with its epic vision, remarkable, evocative world-building, narrative arc, fabulous writing, dramatic storytelling (and heart-in-mouth battle scenes!) and, importantly, characters who live on the page and in whose lives the reader cannot help but become wholly involved – totally knocked my socks off."
Larry Finlay Managing Director Transworld, added that it was "so exciting to be publishing the Gemmell name once more."
After this wonderful piece of news, I believe all over the world DG fans will be salivating to read Stella’s debut so to see how much of an effect David has had on her and how different a writer she will be. Count me in among those who cannot wait to know more about the book…
To know more about Stella, the tragedy that was David’s passing and her sojourn in completing TROY: Fall Of Kings, go here to read this wonderful Interview.
Order “Tricked” HERE
Read first 50 pages of “Tricked” HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Review of “Hounded”
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Review of “Hexed”
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Review of “Hammered”
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Kevin Hearne graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in English literature and currently teaches high school English. He is a self-confessed comic book fan and collector. He also collects and paints miniature dwarves in his free time. He currently lives with his family in Arizona and is the author of The Iron Druid Chronicles.
OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Druid Atticus O’Sullivan hasn’t stayed alive for more than two millennia without a fair bit of Celtic cunning. So when vengeful thunder gods come Norse by Southwest looking for payback, Atticus, with a little help from the Navajo trickster god Coyote, lets them think that they’ve chopped up his body in the Arizona desert.
But the mischievous Coyote is not above a little sleight of paw, and Atticus soon finds that he’s been duped into battling bloodthirsty desert shapeshifters called skinwalkers. Just when the Druid thinks he’s got a handle on all the duplicity, betrayal comes from an unlikely source. If Atticus survives this time, he vows he won’t be fooled again. Famous last words!!!
CLASSIFICATION: Like its predecessors, The Iron Druid Chronicles is an urban fantasy series in the vein of The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and K.A. Stewart’s Jesse James Dawson series, and features an exciting mix of comedy, action and mythology.
April 24, 2012 marks the North American Mass Market Paperback publication of Tricked via Del Rey. Cover art is provided by Gene Mollica.
ANALYSIS: When it comes to Kevin Hearne, after his fantastic debut last year and the two sequels released in quick succession, it was hard not to be enthralled by his creations. With the epic climax of Hammered, fans everywhere were waiting to see what direction Kevin would take Atticus and Oberon next. Tricked was written and ready to be released and so when I got the opportunity to get an ARC for it, I was over the moon.
Tricked is a hard book to review because of two reasons namely, it’s the fourth book of the series and secondly because a lot of its plot details are spoilers for the preceding three titles. I must warn readers that I’ll be trying to avoid spoilers as much as possible however there will be some minor spoilers and those readers who haven’t read the first three books can avoid the review ahead.
Tricked begins with a short soliloquy similar to the first book however this one is even more outrageous than its predecessor, it begins with the following lines:
“The best trick I ever pulled off was watching myself die. I did a respectable job of it too – the dying, I mean, not the watching!”
With such a terrific line begins the fourth entry of the chronicles of Atticus the lone druid who’s witty, versatile and now hunted by the thunder gods of various pantheons for his actions across Hammered. He however has a couple of tricks up his sleeve and he turns to one of the ultimate tricksters of yore to help him in his task. This of course works on “scratch my back and I scratch yours” principle and while Atticus thinks he has it under control. Coyote of course manages to one up him with his version of a request. Not to add to his troubles is his past catching up in the form of the widow Mrs. MacDonagh as well as the other mythical monsters that Atticus has had dealings with. All in all Tricked is a riptide of trickery and treachery in various degrees. The ending and twists in this book manage to convey quite a many tribulations for our hero ahead and yet also give us a sound ending.
Kevin Hearne shines again with the this volume losing none of his charm and smooth prose. The story opens with Atticus who is yet the charming and rogue-ish narrator even after the events that have caused such an upheaval in the physical and meta-physical world. He is one of the best main characters currently present in the urban fantasy genre simply because of his ability to make the reader empathize with him and make the reader forget that he’s a guy who more than two millennia old. In this story we learn more about his past as well as his present mistakes, both of which will have a tremendous impact on the story as it’s unfolding and the way it will unfold in the future as well. A few of the revelations have been hinted in the previous books however their actual revelation really might stun the reader with the depth of the truth.
CONCLUSION: Kevin Hearne’s Tricked manages to combine the fun aspects of the previous books and give the saga a darker turn to make this book more akin to a thriller. It marks an exciting return to the world of Atticus and Oberon, give Tricked along with the rest of the Iron Druid Chronicles a chance and you won’t regret it. An excellent entry that only heightens the wait for Trapped that is due in November this year.
"Vienna, 1939. Professor Speckstein's dog has been brutally killed, the latest victim in a string of unsolved murders. Speckstein wants answers-but these are uncharitable times, and one must be careful where one probes. When an unexpected house call leads Dr. Beer to Speckstein's apartment, he finds himself in the bedroom of Zuzka, the professor's niece. Wide-eyed, flirtatious, and not detectably ill, Zuzka leads the young doctor to her window and opens up a view of their apartment block that Beer has never known. Across the shared courtyard, there is nine-year-old Anneliese, the lonely daughter of an alcoholic. Five windows to the left lives a secretive mime who comes home late at night and keeps something-or someone-precious hidden from view. From the garret drifts the mournful sound of a trumpet player, and a basement door swings closed behind the building's inscrutable janitor..."
Does one of these enigmatic neighbors have blood on their hands?
Dr. Beer, who has his own reasons for keeping his private life hidden from public scrutiny, reluctantly becomes embroiled in an inquiry that forces him to face the dark realities of Nazi rule. By turns chilling and tender, The Quiet Twin explores a dystopian world of social paranoia, mistrust, and fear-and the danger of staying silent.
Praise for The Quiet Twin:
"A compelling rumination on watching and watchfulness, served up with Nabokovian glee." -Guardian (UK )
"A striking, pitch-perfect, wonderfully atmospheric and beautifully written ensemble piece that subtly portrays a society on the brink of moral collapse."-Sunday Telegraph (UK )
The Quiet Twin by Dan Vyleta is a pretty dark novel written in a somewhat whimsical tone that attenuates the horrors within for the most part. Vienna October-November 1939; the war has started, the Jews have been beaten and kicked out, though their murder is still only sporadic, the mentally sick and physically disabled are starting to be killed in hospitals for the good of the race, or at least this is what the characters believe - the actual killings started mostly in 1940, but rumors have been going around earlier - while forced sterilizations have been done for a while now. Integrity is rare, corruption and violence are common.
Set in a Viennese housing complex that in the spirit of the times mixed the better off with working poor and was supervised in the name of the Reich by a chief administrator/informer that worked hand in hand with the Gestapo and the police, The Quiet Twin excels in atmosphere and characters.
While Dr. Beer who still tries to do some good despite all that's going on but whose intimate secret would guarantee a one way to a concentration camp if known - hint, his wife has left him recently - and Annaliese the bright but scarred nine year old girl living downstairs are the main leads, the sinister professor Speckstein takes over the story whenever he appears; currently the police informer of the complex, he was a very respected University professor and physician tried for child rape- and acquitted - some years ago who finds National Socialism the right vehicle for his revenge on the Viennese society that shunned him despite his exoneration in court.
The Quiet Twin is mostly historical fiction and people looking for a mystery will be disappointed as there is no real such despite the talked about murders and the dog from the blurb...
The novel also has some great interludes from the press of the times - mostly about disturbed murders and their strange acts - that read stranger than fiction, but ultimately when a society is sick, the extreme slowly becomes the normal and the book's main story-lines prove that once more. Excellent novel and highly recommended.
"When Mycroft Holmes is murdered in London, it is up to retired shadow executive Smith to track down his killer - and stumble on the greatest conspiracy of his life. Strange forces are stirring into life around the globe, and in the shadow game of spies nothing is certain. Fresh from liberating a strange alien object in Abyssinia - which might just be the mythical Ark of the Covenant - young Lucy Westerna, Holmes' protégé, must follow her own path to the truth while, on the other side of the world, a young Harry Houdini must face his greatest feat of escape - death itself.
As their paths converge the body count mounts up, the entire world is under threat, and in a foreboding castle in the mountains of Transylvania a mysterious old man weaves a spider's web of secrets and lies.
Airship battles, Frankenstein monsters, alien tripods and death-defying acts: The Great Game is a cranked-up steampunk thriller in which nothing is certain - not even death."
After The Bookman and Camera Obscura, I was wondering who else will show up in this wonderful series that just ticked all the right nostalgia boxes for me. And Mr. Tidhar did not disappoint as Karl May - starring as one of the main villains with the harsh German accent of old style thrillers to boot - Harry Houdini of the many escapes - though of course there is a special take on that too - Phileas Fogg, Bram Stoker, Lucy Westerna, Van Helsing and a few others show up in The Great Game in addition to the few regulars like the Holmes brothers, Victor Frankestein or the Comte Rochefort...
The first 3/4 of The Great Game were awesome and I thought this would be a top 25 of mine, but the ending was a bit disappointing and this is one extra reason I am hoping for more books in the series; it will be a major spoiler to say why but essentially The Great Game suffers from the "great tension, great danger, way too easy out" syndrome that sometimes afflicts even the better written sff like itself.
Still a super ride to be enjoyed, lots of moments that had me laughing out loud and of course who can resist the plethora of characters named above. Another highly recommended novel of 2012 for me.
After the unexpectedly wonderful The Magicians and Mrs. Quent and The House on Durrow Street, The Master of Heathcrest Hall was another fantasy series ending - 3rd in 2012 so far after Percepliquis and Daemon Prism with a few more to come - that was a huge asap and while I enjoyed it and would recommend it, it just did not blow me away as earlier novels in the series.
Here I still loved the language and the setting was generally interesting, but Ivy who was undoubtedly the star of the first two novels, loses a little her distinctiveness and centrality to the story and while I did not mind that much having Rafferdy and Eldyn Garitt as the main characters, the book lost some luster for me due to that. Another issue was the acceleration of action as the earlier novels worked better at a slower pace where dialogue and setting counted for more; once the frantic action starts the fantasy part of the world building starts being exposed as quite shallow.
In addition the "everything explained, all i's dotted and t's crossed" that seems to afflict series ending these days are present here and there were quite a few "yawn" rather than "oh, what" moments too.
Overall I think that if you thought The House on Durrow Street slow, you may enjoy this more than I did as the pace accelerates a lot here, but for me the charm of the series was first in Ivy's character, next in the witty dialog and finally in the implied mysteries and all those become either secondary or solved a bit in a too cookie-cutter way in this series finale.
“After all the discussion recently about review coverage of women writing science fiction and fantasy and the female bloggers writing about these genres, I decided to dedicate the month of April to the women of science fiction and fantasy. Though I’m interested in the discussion overall, instead of talking about it more I’m choosing to make my contribution to addressing the issue by highlighting the women who are writing and reading SF&F. Throughout the month I’ll have authors, book bloggers, and other commentators making guest posts. While some of my guests will be discussing the subject itself, it’s not required to participate; the goal is just to get some interesting people, thoughts, and books all in one place.
A few years ago, I noticed that most of the fantasy and science fiction books being talked about on many blogs and forums were written by men and started questioning whether or not there was a significant number of women writing these genres. Since then, I’ve of course found that there are many female authors of fantasy and science fiction books and it’s become very important to me to make sure their work is recognized and discussed. Usually I just do this quietly by reading and reviewing a lot of books written by women, but after the topic came up again I decided I wanted to do more to showcase the many women who are writing and reviewing all kinds of different types of fantasy and science fiction.”
Kristen has since then come up a bevy of posts from many authors and bloggers who have conveyed their thoughts quite eloquently. So here’s a list of the female authors that have appeared on her blog to speak about various topics:
1] Nancy Kress
2] Carol Berg
3] Elizabeth Bear
4] Martha Wells
5] Stina Leicht
6] Moira J. Moore
Amidst the female bloggers, here’s the list of people who have contributed to this event:
1] Jessica from Read React Review
2] Kristin from My Bookish Ways
3] Janice from Janicu’s Book Blog
4] Jessica from Sci-Fi Fan Letter
5] Lisa from Starmetal Oak Reviews
For this week there are many more interesting authors and bloggers scheduled to make an appearance:
- Lynn Flewelling
- N. K. Jemisin
- M. J. Locke
- Lisa Shearin
- Sarah from Bookworm Blues
- Shara from Calico Reaction (LiveJournal, WordPress)
I for one, am absolutely thrilled that Kristen has taken this initiative and is doing such a great job with the help of all the wonderful ladies who have contributed and will be contributing in the forthcoming weeks. So please take a few moments and give these posts a read and don’t be shy to drop in a comment or two…
INTRODUCTION: With the blurb below and coming from Atticus Books of which I saw and heard quite a lot of good things, I was very interested in Kino and read it pretty much on obtaining an e-arc a few months ago, while the book is scheduled to be published April 17, though Amazon has it already shipping. While mostly a cross between historical fiction and standard contemporary thriller, Kino has a sfnal aspect too, but more about this below.
Here is a quote from Kino's diary:
''I came from nothing, I scaled the Olymp, and I can do it again. Even when the Nazis burned my movies, I clung to hope. You have marked me crazy and yet you ask me to explain myself. Art will prevail! I'll make another movie yet. Cinema cannot be detained! Nothing can stop me, for I am Kino.''
Here is the actual blurb:
"When the long lost, first-ever silent film from visionary director Kino arrives mysteriously on his granddaughter Mina's doorstep, the mission to discover the man she barely knew begins. As Kino's journals plunge the reader into the depraved glamour and infectious panic of 1920s and '30s Germany, Mina turns her life upside down to redeem her grandfather's legend.
With a cast of characters that includes Joseph Goebbels, Fritz Lang and Leni Riefenstahl, Fauth concocts a genre-busting blend of German history, film, and art into a fast, sinister tale of redemption. The tightly woven narrative is filled with thuggish darkness and back alley shadows running neck-and-neck with cinematic light and intrigue."
ANALYSIS: "Kino" is a book which I would rate as an A- but I would still recommend as it has some great stuff mixed with some more common such, while the last part raises it above the "run of the mill" thriller with its "save the world, etc" that it threatened to devolve into.
I believe the author missed writing an unforgettable book by going too much the Hollywood way with chases, men in black, etc - though luckily he backs away in the end from that aspect which ultimately looks even more pointless. I also found the comparisons of the McCarthy era and later of Bush's invasion of Iraq with Nazi Germany beyond the pale and that aspect is even clearer today in the "new era" of drone executions and take no prisoners navy seals assaults ordered by our Nobel Peace Prize winner president to the unembarrassed silence and even cheering of the former Bush critics. As another negative, in the Net Galley e-arc copy I read there were also a few historical mistakes like situating Pearl Harbor in 1943, but those may have been corrected.
However the good parts - the diary of Kino about his life which arrives into the hand of his granddaughter Mina and later the revelations of his still living 92 year old wife, Mina's grandma though she has been estranged from her son for ages, the portrait of the Weimar republic and the sketches of Nazi Germany, together with the examination of the role of art in society - are just great stuff and I'd rather read those 100+ pages and the mostly standard present day thriller that fills in the rest, than many other books.
Where the book misses its greatest potential is in the sff aspect which the author uses to justify the chases and men in black as Kino's movies..., well read the book to find out why they are believed to be important even today. That part is sadly glossed over as if the author wanted to write a "realistic thriller" and was embarrassed to delve too much into the sfnal; too bad, as the potential loss there is significant, but at least the finale of the novel stands back from the men in black and that was a big plus for me.
Overall the pages mostly turn by themselves and with few exceptions when the men in black appear the book is quite the page turner, but I still wish the author would have had the courage to go the sff route and embrace fully that aspect.
Read “Of Monsters and Miracles” by Aidan Harte
Read Author Interview at Civilian Reader
FORMAT/INFO: Irenicon is 583 pages long divided over sixty-eight numbered chapters with an epilogue. Narration is in third-person by Sofia Scaglieri, Giovanni the engineer, Doctor Bardini, Gaetano Morello and a few other minor characters. Irenicon is the first book of the Wave trilogy and has an ending that concludes the novel’s major storylines.
March 29, 2012 marked the e-book and hardback publication of Irenicon by Jo Fletcher books.
ANALYSIS: Irenicon the word sounds mysterious and was unknown to me when I first heard of it. Its meaning, I discovered was a device or proposition for securing peace. Such an intriguing word and the debut from Aidan Harte also dripped intrigue from its blurb to the overall premise. The book is an alternate historical story with the central premise being that Christ never reached adulthood. Herod was successful in killing Mary’s son and thus the prophesied messiah was never able to spread his words. His mother however was venerated as the holy Madonna and she did her best to spread his message. Christianity as we know is forever altered and becomes a different religion altogether.
Fast forward to the 14th century wherein the Italy we know is there in an altered state. Rome is briefly mentioned however is not the power it was in our world. There are two main cities that vied for power, Concord and Rasenna however Concord harnessed a terrible power through a mysterious process invented by Girolamo Bernoulli who managed to astound everyone with his brilliance. He managed to up throw the influence of the church and created a society of scientists and engineers that share some shades with the Dunyain of Earwa. Though not so heartless in their devotion, the engineer guild pioneered by Bernoulli has lead to the rise of the Concordian empire and the crowning movement was when they engineered a wave to disrupt Rasenna’s geography. The offshoot is that the after effects have lead to some sentience being developed by the weapon and now has developed a rather sinister attitude towards humans.
The story begins with the two narrators namely the young to-be-Contessa Sofia Scaglieri and the engineer Giovanni. She’s the to-be-ruler of Rasenna and he’s the enemy sent to build a bridge across the waters of Irenicon so that the Concordian army can march across and show its marital splendor thereby cowing any thoughts of Rasennian rebellion. Thus is a destiny created between these two as they go about their various individual paths not knowing how closely linked they will be to each other. There are other POVs as well however their presence is only from time to time and often gives the reader a perspective beyond the two main characters. The story is quite unpredictable in its scope and the author does his best to dole out much about the world and the enigmatic Bernoulli in the form of footnotes.
One of the main drawbacks of the story that I noticed was that while its characterization led to some interesting results, it also robbed the story of its pace and this can be a very concerning factor as the book is a 600 page tome. The tepid pace often causes disconnect with the plot happenings as there are events happening which will want the reader to immediately know what happens next however the sluggish pace might deter readers. Another aspect that is a bit unexplained is the level of technology as well as certain happenings of the story; it is never clearly detailed and hence can cause certain readers to question the premise of the story. I was willing to go along with the story and hence it worked for me. Readers will have to decide for themselves in this regard.
CONCLUSION: Aidan Harte’s debut is an eclectic mix of influences and therefore makes the story a touch more intriguing than the blurb makes it out to be. I went in not knowing what to expect and was pleasantly surprised to find a story that is in parts a love story and in parts a thriller. Irenicon is a hard book to define and so all I can say is that give it a try to see whether it matches your interest, I happened to find it pretty exciting and original amid the current fantasy landscape.