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Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Blameless: Book 3 Parasol Protectorate" by Gail Carriger (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit Gail Carriger's Official Website HERE
Read FBC's Review of Soulless HERE
Read FBC's Review of Changeless HERE

OVERVIEW: Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto

FORMAT: Blameless is the third book in the Parasol Protectorate series. It is a mix of steampunk, supernatural, romance, and adventure. It stands at 375 pages and was published by Orbit on September 1, 2010.

(Some potential spoilers of book 2 may be revealed below) 
ANALYSIS: Blameless is the third book in the Parasol Protectorate series, and after the somewhat iffy bridge story that I encountered in the second book I was unsure of what exactly I'd be walking into.

I absolutely loved the first book. I found the characters engaging, the book fast paced, and the setting just right. However, I found the second book 'alright'. This left me with mixed feelings entering the third book, and I'm happy to say that after reading it I no longer have those mixed feelings.

One of the biggest disappointments of the second book was the lack of the snippy, funny, sassy side to the main character, Alexia. I really felt this character made the first book, and the lack of sassy remarks in the second book was noticeable. Luckily, the snippy, sassy Alexia is back in this third book and I feel it really helps bring the series back to life.

Another improvement in this third book is the pacing of the plot. The second book felt as if it dragged at time, but that is all thrown out the window. Blameless from the very first page starts off with a bang and the plot doesn't slow down even when you hit the last page.

It should be said at this point in time, this is a series that readers can't just jump into. Gail Carriger spends no time backtracking or retelling stories from the previous books. This means if you didn't read the previous books, you might be a little lost.

There are a few interesting and exciting twists and turns added to this novel. There are killer ladybugs, rides through Paris, and a bunch of religious zealots. No one can complain that there is a lack of twists and turns in this series, as every time you turn around something new is being brought up.

While this novel renewed my love for the series, there are still some very frustrating elements that bear bringing up. A vast majority of the book is spent on the characters discussing how a preternatural could become pregnant. I was a little confused at everyone's lack of understanding or even grasping this concept. It seemed rather logical that it could happen, so this really confused me.

Another frustrating element in this novel was Lord Macon. He spends about 80% of the novel drunk and throwing himself a pity party. I found this extremely frustrating because it was not only out of character, or at least how I envisioned the character, but he did it himself. He pushed Alexia away and then cried when she wasn't around.

If I could have jumped through the pages of the book, I would have and shook some sense into him. It was frustrating, but not so frustrating that it drew away from the story.

The last frustrating element is the numerous questions that arise. It seemed as if every time something would get resolved or introduced, another 100 questions would pop up. I know that these things will be resolved with time, but for readers looking for answers right away they won't find them.

Overall, I enjoyed Blameless. I really feel that this third installment in the series is where Gail Carriger finds her stride. This book helped renew my love for the series and I can't wait to see what happens. And really who can pass up on a book that has killer ladybugs!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

'Indigo Springs' Book 1 of Astrid Lethewood Series by A.M. Dellamonica (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit A.M. Dellamonica's Official Website HERE
OVERVIEW: Indigo Springs is a sleepy town where things seem pretty normal . . . until Astrid's father dies and she moves into his house. She discovers that for many years her father had been accessing the magic that flowed, literally, in a blue stream beneath the earth, leaking into his house. When she starts to use the liquid "vitagua" to enchant everyday items, the results seem innocent enough: a "'chanted" watch becomes a charm that means you're always in the right place at the right time; a "'chanted" pendant enables the wearer to convince anyone of anything .
But as events in Indigo Springs unfold and the true potential of vitagua is revealed, Astrid and her friends unwittingly embark on a journey fraught with power, change, and a future too devastating to contemplate. Friends become enemies and enemies become friends as Astrid discovers secrets from her shrouded childhood that will lead her to a destiny stranger than she could have imagined.
FORMAT: Indigo Springs is an apocalyptic, contemporary fantasy. It stands at 320 pages and is told through an alternating narrative between the past and the present. Indigo Springs is the first in the Astrid Lethewood series. It was published by Tor Books on October 27, 2009.
ANALYSIS: Sometimes we encounter a book that for some unexplainable reason we fall in love with. For me, Indigo Springs was that book.
I read this novel in May of 2012 and I just keep thinking about it over and over again. In fact, I've read it two more times. I am not 100% certain I can fully explain why I love it, but I just do.
The core plot of Indigo Springs revolves around the main character, Astrid, being given the responsibility to guard an extremely powerful magic. This magic allows Astrid to enchant everyday objects and give them magical powers that can 'help' people. Astrid is required to guard this powerful magic and keep it a secret from everyone in her life. Unfortunately, Astrid makes a terrible mistake and trusts her best friend and crush, Sahara with the secret.
Sahara decides that the magic is too good to be kept a secret and starts using it a little here and there. Slowly, that magic begins to overtake them and bad things start to happen.
One of Indigo Springs' strengths is the unique way the story is told. Readers are introduced to the main character, Astrid, who has been taken hostage in a police standoff. It is obvious to readers that something has gone horribly wrong, but nothing is really explained until the end. Readers know that Astrid is involved in something that appears to have caused mass chaos or the 'end of the world', but will learn through the rest of the book how involved she is.
The story is then told through a series of flashbacks. Astrid is being interviewed by a police interrogator and she slowly starts to reveal what happened, what is going on, and how she got to that point.
The use of flashbacks can sometimes be a little confusing and at first readers might be a little confused with what is going on, but it all works out in the end. All the loose threads and questions readers have are eventually answered, with some being left for the second book.
The novel at times can appear to be moving slow, but it isn't. Before you know it, you'll be almost done with the book and you'll wonder where the time went. I think the slower pace really allows readers to fully understand what is going on and really get into the book. However, I feel that some readers are going to feel that the novel moves too slow and put it down.
Another real strength of Indigo Springs' is its character building. I really felt connected and close to all the characters in the book. That doesn't mean that I liked all the characters, it's just that I felt really connected to them. I felt like I was along for the journey with them as they explored the unique magic and had it slowly consume them.
The characters are also well defined. Astrid has many different sides to her, and doesn't appear to just be this one-sided character. She faces multiple internal conflicts and often struggles between pleasing others and doing what she wants for herself. Sahara is an amazingly unique character who just sweeps you off your feet and just has this powerful personality.
There is just a really special, unique aspect to Indigo Springs. It really gave me insight into what would draw someone into using magic for evil. I really feel as if the author allowed readers to climb inside the minds' of the characters and experience everything with them.
Overall, I loved Indigo Springs. I really think it should have gotten more coverage than it has because it really is simply amazing. It's unique, gripping and beautifully written. I highly recommend this book.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Six-Gun Tarot" by R.S. Belcher (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman and Mihir Wanchoo)

Visit the Official Facebook Page of R.S. Belcher Here

OVERVIEW: Buffy meets Deadwood in a dark, wildly imaginative historical fantasy

Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.

A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation

FORMAT: Six-Gun Tarot is a mix of Weird Western, fantasy, Steampunk, paranormal, and mythology. It stands at 368 pages. It was released by Tor Books on January 22, 2013.

ANALYSIS: (Cindy) Take a little fantasy and magic, mix it with the Wild West and add in some mythology, an apocalyptic prophecy and a dozen innocent characters, and you get Six-Gun Tarot. This rather random combination of elements brought this book to my attention, and without it I would have probably passed on the book altogether.

The entire plot of Six-Gun Tarot revolves around a small mining town in Nevada, known as Golgotha. This mining town was once a main hub of operations, but in the past several years it has slowly started to decline. That decline has caused the town to have a lot of secrets, and the entire novel revolves around shedding light on most, not all, of those secrets.

The first thing that really strikes a reader about Six-Gun Tarot is the rather large cast of characters. Readers are introduced to over a dozen different characters, and given insight into each and every one of them. While this rather large cast of characters allowed readers to really embrace and understand the eclectic town, it at times could be rather distracting. I spent a fair amount of time in the first half of the novel wondering just how all these characters were related and why we were being introduced to the 'mad scientist' or the 'random scene in a parlor'.

These random characters and scenes in the novel may appear at first glance to be just thrown out there, but they really do start to come together and really weave a truly amazing story. One of the scenes in particular that struck me as randomly thrown in was the part about the angel Biqa. There is an entire chapter devoted to the angel and then not much else mentioned until the end of the novel. I read that chapter and noticed it seemed so 'off' from the rest of the book. But it really does work out in the end and everything is explained.

Even with all the sub-plots, plots and characters, one might think that there wouldn't be a lot of world building or any real substance to this book, but there is. The entire 'world' is nicely etched out for readers, with backgrounds and history and other elements that make for great world building. It was nice to see that the desire to have dozens of main characters didn't overshadow the need for a richly developed world.

One of the parts that I really loved about this book its ability to take basic mythology and add a rather unique spin on it. Nothing 'new' is being introduced, but it has a new voice, and I loved it.

There is one slight weakness of the book and I would have to say that would be the pacing of the book. It really felt sort of sluggish in the beginning. This was while things were still being pieced together, readers were discovering who was connected to whom and how they were connected, but it really drew away from the book. I think many readers might just set the book aside and really miss out on an amazing novel.

It should be said that Six-Gun Tarot isn't going to be for everyone. There isn't a set magic system and this novel certainly doesn't have all the elements of your typical SF/fantasy novel, but it is totally amazing.

Overall, this was an amazing novel. I think people who loved Buffy, Supernatural, etc…. will love it as will people who are looking for a new, refreshing voice/story. This novel is either going to run hot or cold. I honestly, don't see there being a middle ground. People will love it or they'll not be into it at all.  Luckily, I fall into the first category and would love to see more from this great aspiring author.

(Mihir): Six Gun Tarot is a debut that almost flew under my radar; it was thanks to Cindy, my fellow blogger that I was able to read it.  The blurb details give you a small inkling about the book’s story but truly nothing truly prepares for the actual story. There are many POV characters in this story and as each chapter begins we are introduced to each and every one of them along with their backstory, motivations and futures. Jim is the young kid who’s on the run from law and his past life on a farm; he has a jade eye, which is the sole memory of his father. Mutt is a deputy policeman who is a Native American and despised by both his people and the white Americans. Sheriff Jon Highfather is the head of the law enforcement and is reputed to be the man who can’t die as he has survived three attempts on his life. Then there’s Maude Stapleton who is a quiet wife but whose silence masks secrets that are without a doubt legendary. There’s also the town mayor Harry Pratt who is hiding a personal secret while managing his Mormon faith and all the secrets and history that his family entails due to their name.

There’s also Augustus Schultz who yearns for his wife and perhaps will do anything to be with her. There’s also the angel Biqa who perhaps doubts the meaning of life, his existence as a servant to the almighty and the importance of the task he’s been given. There are many more characters however these are the main ones who power the story’s threads and make it reach an epic conclusion. Firstly hats off to the author for writing such a massive story, and let me explain what I mean by “massive”. Its not massive in length but in its scope, combining the birth of the universe and earth, mixing that with mysticism from the orient, Mormon theology, native American legends, western story settings along with Lovecraftian horror elements is no simple task. To make a coherent story by mixing these various elements is a herculean one and to be successful at it is even more lustrous. Lastly to have it as your debut story means that you are heralding yourself as a talent to watch out for.

Rod S. Belcher does that emphatically and with some substance, his prose and characterization upends this tale from simply a fantastic idea onto a fantastic story. The characters even though numerous hold their own and each of them alternatively convince the reader of their importance. Each thread feels like it is the most vital one however as soon as the next one begins, one gets drawn into that character’s emotional vortex and thus so forth. I might sound a little too fan-boyish however in some cases it’s justified like last year’s Blood Song and in this case the author’s imagination has to be admired.  The storyline begins on a rather slow note and takes a while to pick up its pace as the author introduces each and every character and sets up their plotline.

Then there’s the meshwork of plotlines and character arcs as each continue to spin on their own and in the latter half start becoming synchronized to come together in a confusing and addictive mosaic that the writers of Lost often aspired to but ultimately failed. The storyline is huge and simply epic because of the all the elements involved and the reader will learn how it all comes together and hopefully be enthralled by the author’s ingenuity. Another thing that I would like to highlight is the fact that author doesn’t whitewash the world with modern sensibilities. It’s set after the events of the US civil war and is set in a small Nevada town and the characters behave as we have read in the histories, they are bigoted. Xenophobic, chauvinistic and all other things that was common in those times. The hatred and disparity between whites, and the Chinese or Native Americans is amply presented without any reservations and this move was a good one by the author to make the tale seem authentic.

The only point that I would say went against the story’s awesomeness is its slow pace throughout the first half of the story as the author lays out all the parts and develops the character plots. This might be a tad confusing for many readers as each chapter rings us a new person with newer predicaments. I would ask readers to persevere as the tale amply pays off in the second half. An apt comparison might be the POV structure of ASOIAF novels by George R. R. Martin, and by that I mean the number of POV characters and complexity of the story. The author has leagues to go before he reaches GRRM’s skills in prose, plotting and characterization however seeing the start I’m very much pleased and will have colossal expectations from next time onwards.

Six Gun Tarot might be an odd sounding name and may seem to be an odd story however it is a gem frankly. An amalgamated gem that manages to blow expectations and showcase amazing skills on the author’s part, and making itself a strong contender for my year-end lists. Very very recommend for those who like epic fantasy, weird fiction, western historicals or basically an amalgamation of all these with a few more twists and turns to make this debut special indeed.
Monday, January 28, 2013

Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author website 
Order “Shadow Ops: Fortress FrontierHERE 
Read an excerpt HERE 
Watch the Book Trailer HERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Shadow Ops: Control Point

AUTHOR INFORMATION: As a security contractor, government civilian and military officer, Myke Cole’s career has run the gamut from Counter-terrorism to Cyber Warfare to Federal Law Enforcement. He’s done three tours in Iraq and was recalled to serve during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He’s also a graduate of the Viable Paradise writer’s workshop and is a close friend of Peter V. Brett. He also won the 2003 Writers of the future award for his story “Blood and Horses”. His passions include comics, fantasy novels and late night D&D games, which eventually set him on a path of being a wordsmith.

OFFICIAL BLURB: The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began to develop terrifying powers--summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Overnight the rules changed...but not for everyone.

Colonel Alan Bookbinder is an army bureaucrat whose worst war wound is a paper-cut. But after he develops magical powers, he is torn from everything he knows and thrown onto the front-lines.

Drafted into the Supernatural Operations Corps in a new and dangerous world, Bookbinder finds himself in command of Forward Operating Base Frontier--cut off, surrounded by monsters, and on the brink of being overrun.

Now, he must find the will to lead the people of FOB Frontier out of hell, even if the one hope of salvation lies in teaming up with the man whose own magical powers put the base in such grave danger in the first place -- Oscar Britton, public enemy number one...

CLASSIFICATION: The Shadow Ops series is a multi volume urban fantasy series, which combines the super-powered human aspect showcased in X-men comics along with the military themes espoused in stories by Glen Cook. Stirring the pot with his own style, the author has created a unique series for the readers.

FORMAT/INFO: Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier is 368 pages long divided over twenty-eight numbered and titled chapters separated into two titled sections. Narration is in the third person via Oscar Britton, Alan Bookbinder and Jan “Harlequin” Thorsson. There is also a glossary about the terms, acronyms and slang utilized in the story. Fortress Frontier is the second novel of the Shadow Ops series and carries forward the story began in Control Point.

January 29, 2013 marks the North American Paperback and e-book publication of Shadow Ops: Control Point via ACE books while it is being released in the UK on January 31, 2103 by Headline books. Michael Komarck provides the US book cover art again and Larry Rostant continues his turn with the UK cover art.

ANALYSIS: Myke Cole’s Control Point was # 5 on my top ten-debut list for last year and amid the slew of fantastic debut releases, it is credit to the author’s vision and skills that the book gained that position. The potential shown in Control Point marked him out as an author to watch for and so it was with high anticipation that I awaited to read the sequel. Also I must disclose at this point that I have a soft spot for this book as Myke graciously allowed me to be a part of its creation by allowing me to provide some help in regards to a few facets of the Hindu mythology and Indian elements integrated within the story and Shadow Ops world.

The book begins during the latter third of the events shown in Control Point as Myke Cole introduces a “Nikki-Paulo” like situation in the story but with significantly better success than the creators of LOST ever imagined. This book has a new POV character and it explores latency through a different set of eyes. This time around we get to experience the latency turn through colonel Alan Bookbinder who is a “paper-pusher and not a true soldier” in his own worlds. Thus begins the first contrasting point between Oscar Britton and Alan Bookbinder and this is just the first of many that the readers will come across as they read through the story. Alan is a simple man who faces rather extraordinary circumstances and is forced to adept to them.

The emergence of his powers means that he goes to the same Forward Operating Base wherein Oscar and the rest of the latent community are sent. He however gets an exalted status because of his previous military position and his own initiative in reporting and turning himself in. His coming out is as explosive as was that of Oscar however his life takes a different route and we get to see a different side to the characters previously introduced such as Fitzsimmons, Crucible, Taylor, Talon etc.

In this book,Bookbinder is the major POV character however we also get to know what happened to Britton and the runaways as well. This book is dedicated to J.R.R. Tolkien and Gary Gygax as the author pays homage to the heroic journey trope. Both the POV characters learn to evolve beyond what they are individually capable of. But the crucial aspect is the journey and what a journey it is. This is what I really loved about the book, namely its exploration of a different magic system and nation, the Sahir Corps of India and the Nagas. Myke Cole absolutely lets fly his imagination and we get to see a trek across the magical landscape that connects the American FOB to the Indian FOB and this plot thread is the heart of the story. The author, I have to say does good by Tolkien and Gygax with his version of the heroic odyssey. Check out the map that accompanies this book to get an idea about the start and end destinations of Bookbinder’s journey.

The action is nonstop and the cast of characters is significantly expanded. We get more of Bookbinder and a relatively smaller dose of Oscar Britton, Not to say that Oscar’s fight is any less important but compared to Bookbinder, it pales slightly in scope of the task and enormous pressure. Myke Cole has to be lauded for his approach to his debut series as he brings in a new POV character and yet manages to make the transition seem seamless. His prose skills have definitely bettered this time around as the readers are exposed to a wider character cast and yet all the plot threads are comfortably ensconced within the compact book plot. There’s also the use of vignettes before the start of every chapter, which like the first book help in making the readers aware of the world and the various different aspects about it. The world which Myke hints at is incredibly complex and I feel it will remain fresh for a long time as the author can possibly explore all its nooks and crannies and keep readers entertained for a long time to come.

There’s an overall story arc, which Myke is attempting to build up and it continues wonderfully in this second book as the problems between the US government and the Selfers are coming to a violent conclusion. I believe Breach Zone will be the book where it all comes down and Myke has promised a terrific climax in New York City. Breach Zone will feature another new POV character besides Britton and Bookbinder and I believe he gives a strong hint about who that might be in this book. The next book will also feature Scylla as a major player as has been hinted at in Control Point and Fortress Frontier. She’s a character that I love to know more about and so I can’t wait to read about her and the mega confrontation Myke has planned in Breach Zone. Plus with Myke’s new revelation that the Shadow Ops series will be continued for a further three books however books four & five will be prequels focusing on the great reawakening. While book six will be featuring an ancillary character featured in Fortress Frontier, I feel that I might know whom this character might be however I‘ll wait till Myke announces it to confirm my presumption. This means that Breach Zone will at least bring an end to the story arc begun in Control Point and so I await it with high anticipation.

Talking about drawbacks, for me Fortress Frontier had next to none, some readers might still complain about the writing style and perhaps about the characters themselves but I feel Myke has outdone himself with this book and proves that he is indeed a wordsmith with a bright future ahead.  The only complaint I can think of is that we will have to wait for a year to find out what happens next and I think that's due credit to the author for making his readers feel such anticipation.

CONCLUSION: Fortress Frontier is a sequel and a better book than its predecessor, it is a book that will have something for fantasy readers of every kind and pays homage brilliantly to Tolkien's legacy. Give it a read to know why Myke Cole is an absolute gift to urban fantasy and military fantasy sub-genres. Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier is a fantastic book and IMHO is simply a must buy for all fantasy lovers when it releases tomorrow.
Saturday, January 26, 2013

NEWS: Kickstarter projects, Ilona Andrews and Ian Tregillis (by Mihir Wanchoo)

On Kickstarter there are often various fascinating projects going on and I came across this one thanks to Moses Siregar. First up is Spectre by Jason Denzel. Here’s what Jason has to say about it:

The story is about a fallen paladin who wakes up wounded on a battlefield. There he finds Spectre, a notorious sword with the ability to speak who's responsible for much of the destruction in the land.

Having lost everything, the paladin vows to take the sword to a temple where it can be destroyed. But as he makes the long and grueling journey over land, he finds the sword is nothing like the world believes it to be.

Spectre is a short fantasy film I hope to complete with your help. About seven years ago, I began developing an original screenplay based on an imaginary world. I did this in my spare time, and took a couple years to get it right.

In 2007-08, I successfully led a team of talented artists and craftsman to produce the foundations of an excellent movie. We collected many hours of high-definition footage, showcasing custom-made costumes and props, great acting, and beautiful locations. Unfortunately, after we finished shooting, I lacked the funds to complete the visual effects and other post-production elements. Spectre needs a lot of work to be completed. We have some great footage, but a lot of empty shots that need to be filled with visual effects.

If our Kickstarter campaign is successful, I will hire a team of professionals to provide us with a variety of post-production services. There are well over 100 shots requiring visual effects work. I'd also like to hire an editor to help me cut the movie in an exciting and compelling way.

So here your chance of supporting a great campaign, it has 6 more days to go and about $17,333 is pledged with the final goal being of $18,000. Check out this wonderful project and join Moses, Brandon Sanderson, many others and me helping Jason realize his wonderful project.

Another Indie who is making waves with his online efforts is Ben Galley and he has started his own Kickstarter project for a graphic novel based on his debut novel. Here’s what Ben had to say about the inception of the project and the reason for the move to make a graphic novel:

Often described as "Lord of the Rings meets Sin City", 'The Written' is an epic and gritty fantasy book, part mystery, part thriller, crammed with bloody and brutal action, more magick than you can shake a sword at, and twists and turns that will keep the edge of your seat firmly occupied. It's the first book in the Emaneska Series, and has hit the top of the bestseller lists for epic fantasy more than once in the past few years.

So why are we here on Kickstarter? Well, we're glad you asked! The time has finally come to realise the "Sin City part" of its description. It's time turn the Emaneska Series into its own series of graphic novels, and we're kicking off with the first book - 'The Written.'

Myself and artist Mike want to take the book, rip it apart, and stick it back together in an all-new format. The action and pace of 'The Written' makes it perfect for a graphic novel, as does the grand, sweeping Nordic world of Emaneska itself - its cities, its mountains, its creatures, its magick, its fight scenes, its mythology, and its wild people. Aside from the blistering action of the book, there's also a lot of poignancy too, and subtext. 'The Written' is also about struggle and change, one man's fight against another's ideas, splashed against a world that is vast and varied. Essentially, we have the license to go crazy, and make the best damn fantasy graphic novel we can.

For those readers who are yet to read Ben Galley’s work, check out the review of The Written over here. I know I would like to see both these talented guys be given a chance to showcase what they have planned and so consider being a part of this project as it has 35 days to go and currently is at £3,621 of the total £5,000 goal.

This particular announcement was made by Ilona Andrews on her blog and twitter. Basically this was it:

I hint at new and exciting things to come.”

The authors will most likely be revealing more about it next week and I’m pretty sure it has to do something with new books. I’m hoping that it’s a new series preferably in the epic or dark fantasy genre. Fingers crossed for the actual announcement though ☺

Lastly revealed the fantastic cover for Ian Tregillis' upcoming urban fantasy book called “Something Other Than Night” and here’s the synopsis:

Something More Than Night is a Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler-inspired murder mystery set in Thomas Aquinas’s vision of Heaven. It’s a noir detective story starring fallen angels, the heavenly choir, nightclub stigmatics, a priest with a dirty secret, a femme fatale, and the Voice of God.

Somebody has murdered the angel Gabriel. Worse, the Jericho Trumpet has gone missing, putting Heaven on the brink of a truly cosmic crisis. But the twisty plot that unfolds from the murder investigation leads to something much bigger: a con job one billion years in the making. Because this is no mere murder! A small band of angels has decided to break out of heaven, but they need a human patsy to make their plan work.

Much of the story is told from the point of view of Bayliss, a cynical fallen angel who has modeled himself on Philip Marlowe. The yarn he spins follows the progression of a Marlowe novel — the mysterious dame who needs his help, getting grilled by the bulls, finding a stiff, getting slipped a mickey. Angels and gunsels, dames with eyes like fire, and a grand maguffin, Something More Than Night is a murder mystery for the cosmos.

So check out entire piece on Tor's blog and you can also take a look at the alternate artwork, which is as fantastic as the final version if not better.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Wrath Of Angels by John Connolly (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official John Connolly Website 
Order “The Wrath Of Angels” HERE 
Read Chapter One HERE 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of “The Lovers” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of “The Whisperers” 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of “The Burning Soul” 
Why You Should Read John Connolly (A Fantasy Literature feature)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: John Connolly earned a B.A. in English from Trinity College and a M.A. in Journalism from Dublin City University. His bibliography includes the long-running Charlie Parker thriller series, which began with the Shamus Award-winning Every Dead Thing, The Book of Lost Things fantasy novel, various short stories, and YA fiction—The Gates and The Infernals. He is also a regular contributor to The Irish Times and currently lives in Dublin, Ireland.

OFFICIAL BLURB: In the depths of the Maine woods, the wreckage of an aeroplane is discovered. There are no bodies, and no such plane has ever been reported missing, but men both good and evil have been seeking it for a long, long time. What the wreckage conceals is more important than money: it is power. Hidden in the plane is a list of names, a record of those who have struck a deal with the Devil. Now a battle is about to commence between those who want the list to remain secret and those who believe that it represents a crucial weapon in the struggle against the forces of darkness.

The race to secure the prize draws in private detective Charlie Parker, a man who knows more than most about the nature of the terrible evil that seeks to impose itself on the world, and who fears that his own name may be on the list. It lures others too: a beautiful, scarred woman with a taste for killing; a silent child who remembers his own death; and the serial killer known as the Collector, who sees in the list new lambs for his slaughter. 

But as the rival forces descend upon this northern state, the woods prepare to meet them, for the forest depths hide other secrets. Someone has survived the crash. Some thing has survived the crash. And it is waiting . . .

CLASSIFICATION: John Connolly's novels combine the noir quality of thrillers with the mystical aspect of supernatural fiction, to create a sub-genre of their own.

FORMAT/INFO: The Wrath Of Angels is 480 pages long divided over five parts and fifty-four chapters. Like its preceding volume there is no prologue or epilogue. Narration is in the first-person via Charlie Parker and in the third-person via Barbara Kelly, Darina Flores, Harlan Vetters, Paul Scollay, Grady Vetters, Thomas Eldritch, the Collector and a few others. Like the previous books, the narrative alternates each chapter between Parker and the rest of the cast. The Wrath Of Angels is the eleventh volume of this series and while it can be read as a standalone novel, it would be a better idea to read it after The Black Angel if not the preceding ten volumes, to enjoy the overall series arc.

January 1, 2013 marked the North American Hardcover publication of The Wrath Of Angels via Atria Books (see cover below). The UK edition was published by Hodder & Stoughton on August 30, 2012.

ANALYSIS: For longtime readers of the blog, it will come as no surprise when I reiterate how much I am enthralled by John Connolly’s writing style and prose. John is a master at writing supernatural mystery thrillers but with the last few years he has diversified his books and become even more enthralling. I’m always amazed as to how he has grown the mythology in his Charlie Parker series, firstly by exploring the past in “The Lovers” then with the varied milieu in the “The Whisperers” as well as “The Black Angel”. The last book “The Burning Soul” while a very entertaining one didn’t quite follow the footsteps of its immediate predecessors but hearkened back to the first four books. John had spoken about this book when I met him last year and had described it as the sort-of-sequel to The Black Angel, which I believe is the epitome of the series so far.

The Wrath Of Angels begins with an abandoned plane that is lost in the forests of Maine. Marielle Vetters and Ernie Scollay approach Charlie Parker with a request to find this missing plane that might have some money as well a list on it. The problem with that list is that it has the names of people dealing in Faustian favors that might doom them or perhaps might be their path to redemption. Barbara Kelly is a person with limited time and yearns for something that might not exactly be in her reach. Rabbi Epstein and his Yiddish henchmen are still quietly going about their task of capturing the otherworldly killers and lastly throwing his lot in this complicated mix is the Collector and his legal acquaintances. As you can guess with this overview that there are several plot threads that make up the mosaic of this tale. This story is a complicated one as Parker finds out in regards to the list, noting is ever sure and his so-called allies might not be so friendly after all.

Mainly this book is a terrific return to the heyday antics of the earlier books that I loved and also further enlightens the readers on the mythological aspect of this series. Firstly while the main thread is a simple mystery, the other story threads make up for the complexity of the story. This book is as much about Charlie as it is about the Collector and his earthly origins. We get a look into his family life of sorts and get to know his lineage. There’s also a return of one of John Connolly’s creepiest creations and for many fans it will be simply great to get reacquainted with this infernal character. This story is the literary sequel to The Black Angel and deals a lot with the events and themes introduced in that book. For me this was a major reason for my higher-than-ever expectations from this book and this book delivers resoundingly with truly terrific revelations about the metaphysical beings and structure of the world.

Some truths are revealed and some mysterious facets are clarified. This book is an excellent payoff for those readers waiting for a reveal in regards to the secrets of the world. For the characters present in the book, John has weaved the theme of redemption in almost all the character arcs. Beginning with Charlie, then going onto Angel, Louis, the Collector and including all the antagonists as well. All characters strive to achieve their preferred goals however not all of them succeed. This book also deals with a character death and it was totally out of the left field. I feel this volume marks a pivotal point in the series as the series arc is getting bleaker and from now on I must say no character is truly safe. I think Charlie might be around till the very last however he might not make it in the end.

Lastly the best point about the book is its atmosphere that is presented by the author; he transforms Maine from its isolated, woody landscape into a land that is almost mystical to the point of overtaking Stephen King as Maine’s magical transformer. His vivid description of Maine forestland is both creepy and enticing to the mystery fan. I believe at the end of his Charlie Parker series, the state of Maine might rival fabled Atlantis in regards to its magical legends and local oddities. Its safe to say that John Connolly’s Maine is something that all of us can’t stop exploring via the books even though we might not personally want to go there.

In regards to drawback of the book, this is a series with this book being the eleventh volume and so there’s no direct resolution in sight but with John at the helm, the journey is still as fresh as the first book. Some readers of course might not find this book to be all that lucrative and this will be entirely subjective. For me this book held no regrets or dissatisfaction, it kept me captivated throughout and wowed me with all its revelations. Expanding the mythos of the series considerably and also by the death of one of my favorite ancillary characters, The Wrath Of Angels marks itself as a high point of the Charlie Parker series.

CONCLUSION: John Connolly delivers and does so with panache, the next Charlie Parker book will be a while from now as John refreshes his literary muscles by writing about other stories that fascinate him. With that in mind, this volume is a perfect stopping point for series readers until we come back to this spectrally fraught Maine and the eternally tormented Charlie Parker.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013

GUEST POST: The Different Facets Of Fantasy by C. J. Brightley

I began writing The King’s Sword as part of National Novel Writing Month back in November 2007. I planned the book fairly extensively and it focused on Hakan, the prince. It was intended to be a coming of age story about the decisions Hakan faces as he confronts the corruption in his kingdom and how he opposes it. I wanted to do something a little different by using Kemen’s voice to tell Hakan’s story from the perspective of the mentor. 

That lasted about a week. 

It became clear pretty quickly that Kemen’s story was at least as important as Hakan’s. He’s a hero, but to himself, he’s nothing remarkable. He’s an understated, quiet guy who just does what he thinks is right without making a big deal of it, even in his own internal narrative. So it’s only through spending time with him and through other characters that you discover who he really is. 

I wanted readers to discover him as I did… gradually, through his actions rather than through his words. I love his take on the world, and it was a lot of fun to write the story from his point of view. There’s such a huge gulf between what he says out loud and what he thinks. In some ways though, he was a challenging character to write. He’s very analytical, and mostly self-aware, but he’s also very blind in certain areas. Sometimes the things he doesn't mention are important in the story, but it would be out of character for him to talk about them, even internally. This comes out even more in A Cold Wind, the sequel to The King’s Sword

To be honest, I don’t really consider the book epic fantasy. To me, epic fantasy is concerned with world-shaking events, the titanic struggle of good and evil, generally with huge armies on each side. This story was more personal, about two men and the choices they make. There is good and evil, but it’s not an “epic” story in that grand sense. I've heard it called high fantasy though, because it’s in a separate world. I have a background in international affairs, so creating a realistic world was a really enjoyable part of writing the book. At the same time though, it’s about the characters, not about the world-building. I've never tried too hard to put labels on my writing. I write the stories that I want to write, and some of them cross genres. As a reader, I've never really minded that. As long as it’s a good story, I’ll enjoy it. 

The King’s Sword is the type of story I've always loved, and what I keep coming back to as a writer. I like to be able to believe in and root for characters who are heroic, yet believable. I like stories with real moral dilemmas and real choices that have consequences, even when the struggle isn't as “epic” as some other fantasies. I love that feeling when you finish reading a good book and you’re a little sad, because it’s over, and you miss spending time with the characters. 

I intended The King’s Sword to be a standalone novel, but when I finished writing it, I realized there was more I wanted to do with these characters and their world. It’s been very satisfying to stick with the same characters and watch them grow from that first draft to where they are now. A Cold Wind will be published this month, and I'm currently working on the third book in the series.


AUTHOR INFORMATION: C. J. Brightley writes historical fantasy. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and young daughter. She loves making jewelry as a hobby. Find out more about her on her website and her Facebook page. The King's Sword is her debut and is the first volume of the Erdeman Honor series.


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