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Friday, December 29, 2017

The Fifth Empire Of Man by Rob J. Hayes + Black Blood short story review (by Mihir Wanchoo)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Rob J. Hayes was born and brought up in Basingstoke, UK. As a child he was fascinated with Lego, Star Wars and Transformers that fueled his imagination and he spent quite a bit of his growing up years playing around with such. He began writing at the age of fourteen however soon discovered the fallacies of his work. After four years at University studying Zoology and three years working for a string of high street banks as a desk jockey/keyboard monkey. Rob lived on a desert island in Fiji for three months. It was there he re-discovered his love of writing and, more specifically, of writing fantasy.

OFFICIAL BLURB: The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun.

There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself King, and traitors at every turn. The Five Kingdoms and Sarth have assembled a fleet of ships unlike any the world has ever seen and they intend to purge the Pirate Isles once and for all by fire and steel.

Revenge, never far from Keelin Stillwater’s mind, is finally within his grasp and he sets sail to the Forgotten Empire. But more than dense jungles and ruined cities await him there. Vengeful gods and malignant spirits now call those cursed lands home, and they are not wisely disturbed.

Meanwhile, Elaina Black tries to secure herself powerful allies and the forces those allies can spare. She’s set her course on the throne: either by Drake’s side or over his dead body.

FORMAT/INFO: The Fifth Empire Of Man is divided into four parts which are spread out over fifty-seven ship titled chapters and an epilogue. The narration is in third person omniscient via Drake Morass, Keelin Stillwater, Elaina Black, T’ruck Khan, Damien Poole, Kebble Salt & Arbiter Beck. This book is the concluding volume of the Best Laid Plans duology and can be read as a starting point to the First Earth saga.

September 26 2017 marked the US and UK e-book publication of The Fifth Empire Of Man and was being self-published by the author. Cover art is by Alex Raspad & cover design is provided by Shawn King.

CLASSIFICATION: Focusing on a wide character cast of pirates and epic sea battles, The Best Laid Plans duology is the grimdark version of Pirates Of The Carribbean if imagined by Joe Abercrombie.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: The Fifth Empire Of Man as far as fantasy book titles go is a terrific title. It is the concluding volume to the Best Laid Plans duology and a story that is epic in every sense of the word. I was lucky to be able to read this story in its draft form and I can safely say that the final version is something that will readers’ slack jawed at the very least. A warning though for readers who haven’t read Where Loyalties Lie, the book’s blurb might be a little spoilerific so you might want to avoid this review if you don’t like things spoiled even a little bit.

We begin with the immediate events of Where Loyalties Lie wherein Drake has been pronounced king of the pirates with Tanner Black’s support. However the support is tentative with the caveat that Drake has to take Elaina Black as his consort. Drake is certainly chafing at that but he has his mind on the final prize. On the other hand, Elaina Black has been sent by her father to gather support and when we last saw her, she had just reached Chade. Within the city, she meets a few fan favorite characters from the preceding trilogy and it was fun to see their interactions. The start of this book also references events in Chade and I believe this book runs concurrently with the events that will be featured in 2018’s City Of Kings.

Elaina’s journey is only beginning though as she will also have to travel to Larkos and therein lies the rub as she tries to do the impossible. Keelin Stillwater had a huge hand to play in the events which played out in the climax of Where Loyalties Lie. Drake’s belief in him proved strong in the end but for him the ultimate prize is all about revenge. That’s the one thing that’s been his main focus even amidst all the changes and he’s perhaps closer than he’s ever been. We are also reunited with T’ruck Khan and his crew as they find themselves in an impossible bind. Amidst his crew we get to meet a new character, Nerine Tsokei who is a character that I would love to read more of. Lastly there’s Beck who while in the background has perhaps the most crucial role and Kebble Salt also gets a POV wherein we learn all about his backstory.

The Fifth Empire Of Man is a book that takes the baton from its predecessor and amps them up even more. Firstly as is the case with the previous book & the preceding trilogy, characterization is the most prominent highlights of Rob J. Hayes’ writing and in this book, we are given a whole array of awesome characters. While Where Loyalties Lies focused on Drake Morass & Kellin Stillwater squarely, it also introduced Elaina Black, T’ruck Khan, & Arbiter Beck. This concluding volume gives them bigger roles and also gives a POV turn to newer fascinating characters such as Lady Tsokei & Kebble Salt. In fact it could even be argued that this is Elaina’s book as her arc easily eclipses that of Drake Morass.

Drake has always been the central focus of this duology and it’s his ambition which has fueled almost all the events however this duology easily could have been Elaina’s story and the second volume goes a long way in proving that. We not only get a swashbuckling pirate story but we get to see four fantastic character POVs. First Drake is ever present with his scheming and secrets, then there’s Keelin and then Elaina & lastly T’ruck Khan as well. These four pirate captains are what power the story to its exciting conclusion but the biggest stage is set for Elaina. She is a Black and is Tanner’s true daughter, she’s intelligent, brave, bloodthirsty but calculating and is perhaps the only character who sees Drake for what he is. For those complaining about strong female characters, look no further than Elaina Black. She’s a complex, bloody pirate who will have readers in the palm of her hand and rooting for her no matter what.

Keelin on the other hand suffers a bit in this volume. His thirst for revenge takes a backseat in this volume as he finds amidst a love triangle of sorts (keep in mind this is Rob J. Hayes after all). So there’s no smoldering looks, waxed chests, etc. but simply characters who get entangled with each other and it was fun to read after all. Lastly the best part to Keelin’s arc is a family reunion of sorts which I believe was a highlight for me. This is due to this character being mentioned in The Ties That Bind trilogy in relation to Jezzet. T’Ruck is T’Ruck and in this book, we get to see what a leviathan of a warrior he is and also the secret behind his crew’s prowess is revealed in a very, very bloody manner.

This concluding volume also doubles up on the naval battles, magical revelations and a climax twist worthy of GRRM. Oh the sea battles in this one, there are so quite a few and each of them is spectacular to say the least. The action in this volume never lets up and when the action slows down a bit, we are treated to secrets (Drake’s main one, the Drurr), world history (Larkos’s founding, the problem with witches & their magical dealings) and character interactions. All in all this book had me flipping pages as fast as I could to get to the end to see how it all goes down and it’s right before the end, that the author pulls the rug rather brilliantly under the readers. I will say watch out for the epilogue as it is a shocker and perhaps a clue to what lies ahead in the First Earth Saga (I believe this is Rob Hayes’ version of end credits scenes wherein the entire plot of the story is upended and we get an idea about the next story.)

This book for me didn’t have any drawbacks and was a complete winner. While the first book is a SPFBO 2017 finalist, I hope the other judges and readers read this volume as well to see how amazing a storyteller Rob J. Hayes is.

CONCLUSION: The Fifth Empire Of Man has a unique title and certainly the story to herald itself as one of the best books (if not the BEST) of 2017. I dare you to read it and not be enthralled by this dark story of feuding pirates. I certainly was and will continue to spread the word about the wonderful gem that is the Best Laid Plans duology.


OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Black Blood is an 8000-plus word short story that is set before the events of Where Loyalties Lie and focuses upon Captain Elaina Black and Arbiter Black. Ideally it can be read before Where Loyalties Lie but I would recommend you read it just after finishing Where Loyalties Lie and just before The Fifth Empire of Man so a particular sequence in the second book will make a lot of sense.

The story begins with arbiter Beck finding herself in a scrap with a certain group of pirates when she gets rescued by Elaina Black and in exchange for travel to a particular island, agrees to help her find a special book. That’s all that I can reveal about the gist of the story without spoiling it further. This short story was written by the author to get himself into the head of the characters and to get a feel of the world before plunging in (see Q.7).

This story while being entirely from Beck’s viewpoint also affords a small yet intriguing look into Elaina Black. In this story, we get to see why Arbiters are so feared and yet treasured amidst the world of First Earth. Beck has to employ all her powers and tricks to locate a journal that potentially has some black magic ties which is exactly the sort of heresy that Arbiters like Beck love to stamp out.

This story is a free, fun adventure story and I would recommend it to one and all for those interested to know more about the world of pirates introduced in the Best Laid Plans duology. Plus this will be an excellent stepping stone to see whether these books are for you as well as get a strong taste of Rob J. Hayes as well. Now that’s a win-win scenario if I ever saw one.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Fantasy Book Critic Tenth Anniversary Day 5 + Worldwide Giveaway (by Mihir Wanchoo)

As we wind down to our last and day 5 of our decennial celebrations, we decided to hold a giveaway to top of our celebrations. Since we have readers from all over the globe, we felt it would only be fair to keep it open to anyone worldwide.

Another question was how to select the titles among all four of us (Robert, Liviu, Cindy & me). So eventually we came to the conclusion was that the simplest and fairest way to select the titles for the giveaway, was to select the #1 titles from all of our best of the year lists from our humble beginnings (2007) to until now (2017).

Also we thought it would be fun to fun to add an e-reader and present all the titles as e-books. So what we have decided to giveaway is a Kindle Fire HD 8 Tablet (16 GB) and given below are all the titles that are up for grabs for one lucky winner:

- Acacia by David Anthony Durham (Robert T. best of 2007)

- Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (Robert T. best of 2007)

- Stealing Light by Gary Gibson (Robert T. best of 2007)

- Radio Freefall by Matthew Jarpe (Robert T. best of 2007)

- Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Liviu S. best of 2008)

- The Kingdom Beyond The Waves by Stephen Hunt (Robert T. best of 2008)

- Caine Black Knife by Matthew Stover (Liviu S. best of 2008)

- The Host by Stephanie Meyer (Robert T. best of 2008)

- First Contact by Michael R. Hicks (Liviu S. best of 2008)

- The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt (Liviu S. best of 2009)

- Transition by Iain M. Banks (Liviu S. best of 2009)

- Twelve by Jasper Kent (Robert T. best of 2009)

- Horseman’s Gambit by David B. Coe (Cindy H. best of 2009)

- The Warded Man/The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett (Mihir W. best of 2009)

- Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks (Liviu S. best of 2010)

- The Folding Knife by K. J. Parker (Mihir W. best of 2010)

- Shadow’s Son by Jon Sprunk (Cindy H. best of 2010)

- Spellwright by Blake Charlton (Cindy H. best of 2010)

- 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (Liviu S. best of 2011)

- Run by Blake Crouch (Mihir W. best of 2011)

- Blood Song by Anthony Ryan (Mihir W. best of 2012)

- The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks (Liviu S. best of 2012)

- Sharps by K. J. Parker (Liviu S. best of 2012)

- The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (Liviu S. best of 2012)

- The Colour Of Vengeance by Rob J. Hayes (Mihir W. best of 2013)

- City of Stairs by Rob J. Bennett (Mihir W. best of 2014)

- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Mihir W. best of 2015)

- The Killing Floor Blues by Craig Schaefer (Mihir W. best of 2016)

- Theft Of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

- Prince Of Fools by Mark Lawrence

- Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

- Los Nefilim omnibus by Teresa Frohock

As you might have noticed that the last four books aren’t part of any #1s but we wanted to show our thanks to Michael, J. Sullivan, Rachel Aaron, Mark Lawrence, & Teresa Frohock for taking the time to write a few words about their FBC reviews as well as our past decade.

So there you go, there are 32 superb titles to be won along with a Kindle Fire HD 8 Tablet (16 GB) for ONE LUCKY WINNER.

To enter, please send an email to "" with your Name, Mailing Address, and the subject: FBC 10.

Giveaway has ENDED and was open to participants WORLDWIDE! Thank you for entering and Good Luck!


1) Open To Anyone WORLDWIDE
2) Only One Entry Per Household (Multiple Entries Will Be Disqualified)
3) Must Enter Valid Email Address, Mailing Address + Name
4) No Purchase Necessary
5) Giveaway has ENDED
6) Winner Will Be Randomly Selected and Notified By Email
7) Personal Information Will Only Be Used In Mailing Out the Books To The Winner

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Blog Tour Stop for Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer: Read an Excerpt from Chapter 5!

Twitter: @gamwyn

They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but that is exactly what attracted me to Beneath the Haunting Sea. I saw the cover a while back, read the short blurb about it, and it immediately went on my to-be read pile. When I was asked if I wanted to be a part of the blog tour for the book, I immediately said 'yes'.

Now, I get to share this amazing book with you. For our blog stop today, we have an excerpt from Chapter 5. The blog tour is still going on throughout the month, so if you see something you like, please do stop by the other blogs and check it out.

List of blog tour stops!

December 19: Mother Daughter Book Club
December 20: YA Books Central
December 22: Brittany’s Book Rambles
December 27: SFFWorld
December 28: Short & Sweet Reviews
December 29: SciFiChick
January 2: The Cover Contessa
January 11: Fantasy Book Cafe
January 18: YA Interrobang the book:

Can't you hear it, Talia?
Can't you hear the waves singing?

Sixteen-year-old Talia was born to a life of certainty and luxury, destined to become Empress of half the world. But when an ambitious rival seizes power, she and her mother are banished to a nowhere province on the far edge of the Northern Sea.
It is here, in the drafty halls of the Ruen-Dahr, that Talia discovers family secrets, a melancholy boy with a troubling vision of her future, and a relic that holds the power of an ancient Star. On these shores, the eerie melody of the sea is stronger than ever, revealing long-forgotten tales of the Goddess Rahn. The more dark truths that Talia unravels about the gods' history--and her own--the more the waves call to her, and it may be her destiny to answer.

About the Author:
Joanna Ruth Meyer is a writer of Young Adult fantasy. She lives with her dear husband and son in Arizona, where it never rains (or at least not often enough for her!). When she's not writing, she can be found teaching piano lessons, drinking copious amounts of tea, reading thick books, and dreaming of winter.

Excerpt from Chapter 5 


She looked back to where her mother still leaned against the port rail, purple dress bright against the sky. She told herself there was nothing wrong with her—a few solid days of food and sleep would set her right again.
“I’ve never seen anyone, man or woman, as enamored with the sea as she is. Except maybe you.”
Talia jumped and turned to see Hanid climbing up beside her, his silver hair mussed from the wind. He gave her a wry smile. “It’s like the sea is in your blood.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she snapped.
He shrugged. “Most people get horribly seasick their first time aboard ship. You and your mother seem entirely unaffected.”
She didn’t know why this line of questioning was making her so irritated. “I guess the sea air agrees with us.”
“I guess it does.” Hanid studied her a moment more, then shook his head and chuckled to himself. “Glad to have you sailing with us, in any case. Women are good luck aboard ship, you know. The Waves seem to prey mostly on the men.”
“What do you mean?”
“You haven’t heard the stories?” He spread his hands out toward the sea. “The Billow Maidens, singing in the storms to wreck the ships and drown the sailors. Their songs are so beautiful men can’t resist, running their ships onto reefs or rocks, throwing themselves into the sea just to follow the music.”
The wind flung a snatch of her mother’s song into Talia’s ears, and she cursed, which made Hanid laugh. “It’s all superstition and nonsense.”
“Maybe. But maybe not. I’ve been to the ends of the earth, Miss Dahl-Saida—not everyone is as apathetic about religion as you Enduenans. I can’t dismiss such stories entirely.”
“Aren’t you Enduenan?”
“My parents were. But I was born in Od and lived on Ryn. I served in the emperor’s army and was part of the failed campaign against Denlahn. I climbed the tallest mountain peak on Halda and saw millennia-old offerings to the god Tuer: wine and fruit and grains, as fresh as the day they were laid on his altar. I met a woman in Ita who kept a temple to the wind goddess—she swore the goddess spoke with her, and was teaching her how to weave the winds.”
Talia shook her head in disgust. “That’s absurd.”
“She didn’t seem to think so.”
“Doesn’t mean she was sane.”
“Perhaps not.” He smiled. “In any case, Miss Dahl-Saida, I didn’t come up here to harass you. Captain sent me to ask if you needed anything.”
She glanced once more toward her mother, who was still by the rail, staring transfixed into the waves. But Talia couldn’t worry about her right now. “A proper tour of the ship would be nice. And ink and paper, if I may.”
He saluted her smartly and quirked another smile. “At once, m’lady.”
The sun slid into the sea, staining the water scarlet and the same fiery orange as Ayah’s hair. Talia sat tucked up on the poop deck, her legs growing numb underneath her.
Dear Ayah, she scratched onto the paper Hanid had given her. She paused to glance west toward the sinking sun. She’d begun mentally composing a letter to her friend on the endless carriage ride, but now it came to it, she didn’t know what to say. I miss you, perhaps, or, I should have told you I am the emperor’s daughter. Or, I hope Eda didn’t turn you out of the palace just because you’re my friend.
None of that seemed right. She rubbed one finger along the feather of her pen, and dipped the nib back in the inkwell.
There’s a sailor called Hanid on this ship who’s even more religious than you. He talked to a woman once who claimed she communed with the wind goddess and he believed her. But at least he’s full of information, too. He told me all about our ship, the Lazy Jackal, which hails from Evalla and is paid for on the emperor’s coin, but makes port all over the world. The captain is part of Evalla’s private navy, and one of the most esteemed sailors alive right now. Do you know, he’s so renowned he’s allowed to port in Denlahn without fear for his life? He’s very polite to my mother and me, but there’s no use trying to convince him to turn the ship around—Eda’s gold is heavy in his pocket, and Hanid seems to think she’s promised him land as well. Maybe even Irsa, though I try not to think about that.
The Lazy Jackal sails first to Ryn, and then on to Od and Ita before returning to Enduena. We’re carrying figs and tea, cinnamon and other spices, mounds of cotton, and barrels upon barrels of rice (Hanid pointed them out to me when we were down in the cargo hold). There’s also a half dozen pigs and one small goat to provide fresh meat and milk for the voyage, but so far all I’ve had is fish and biscuits. I expect I’ll be heartily tired of them by the time we reach Ryn.
My mother and I are not allowed to leave Ryn, not ever. I hope you will come and visit instead. The inhabitants swear the Tree was there once, which I hope will tempt you—you can investigate their claims and write them all down in a dusty book. I can laugh at you and all will very nearly be like it was before.
I do wonder you never told me how beautiful the sea is—you were on a ship for months from Od. There are so many shades of green and gray. My mother thinks she hears it singing.
Her throat tightened, and she stilled her pen. The last of the sunlight was just glancing off the water, and she turned to see her mother still perched by the rail. She hadn’t moved an inch all day.

Excerpted from BENEATH THE HAUNTING SEA © Copyright 2018 by Joanna Ruth Meyer. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Fantasy Book Critic Tenth Anniversary Day 4 + Guest Posts by Teresa Frohock, Blake Charlton, Kate Elliot, & P. J. Hoover

Today on day 4, we have a few quick words from some of our other favorites who were extremely kind to say some really nice things amidst their busy professional & personal schedules. Here are four fantasy authors who write differing styles and explore different avenues among the genre. So please extend a big round of applause to Teresa Frohock, Blake Charlton, Kate Elliott, & P. J. Hoover:

I wanted to take a moment and wish Fantasy Book Critic a very Happy 10th Anniversary. When I was first published in 2011, I had absented myself from the genre field for several years. Their Spotlight features, reviews, and interviews helped me find new releases and authors, so I could re-familiarize myself with the field again. From their list of fellow bloggers, I managed to connect with others, who shared FBC's love of genre fiction. 

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years! Even so, I've had great fun watching FBC grow. While some blogs have fallen to the wayside, they're still going strong. I wish you guys another 10 years of reviews, interviews, and giveaways for authors and fans alike.

~ Teresa Frohock

Many times Fantasy Book Critic has lead me to discover my 'new favorite book.' Of course, there's more to life than finding a new favorite book--but not much more. So thank you to the wonderful contributors and community at FBC. Don't stop; we're all always in need of a new favorite book.

~ Blake Charlton

I really appreciate the wide range of novels that Fantasy Book Critic has reviewed over the years, including my own, of course. Here's to another 10 years!

~ Kate Elliott

In the hectic, scattered, flooded world we live in, it is such an utter joy to run across a blog like Fantasy Book Critic. So many blogs these days have lost the idea of what a book blog truly should be, but not FBC. They continue to review books in a manner that maintains integrity and celebrates the absolute joy of reading. 

I am never so honored as when I find one of my titles reviewed on the blog because I know that what I will find is a thoughtful, respectful review. Thank you for all you do, FBC

~ P.J. Hoover

Tomorrow will be the last day of our decennial celebration and to cap it off. We will be holding a very special giveaway as a big thank you to all our fans and readers alike. So please visit the blog back tomorrow to find out what is up for grabs...

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fantasy Book Critic Tenth Anniversary Day 3 + Guest Post by Mark Lawrence & Jon Sprunk

Today on day 3 of our decennial celebrations, we have another two our favorite authors. Both of them debuted within a year of each other but their books were vastly different. The factor that was common, both their debuts were amazing and won us over entirely.

So please extend a warm welcome to Mark Lawrence & Jon Sprunk, masters of fantasy, terrific plotters and all-round good eggs:

Ten years? A decade of serving up literary judgment on the genre! Hooray for Fantasy Book Critic!

I first arrived on Fantasy Book Critic’s doorstep when they reviewed Prince of Thorns in 2011, two weeks before the book came out and said it was one of the year’s best, immediately impressing me with their promptness and accuracy! Since then they have impressed me with their consistency, quality, and durability. 

More recently, the site’s involvement with the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off has shown flexibility, innovation, and an open-minded will to engage with whatever the future has in store for us!

Official Author website
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Prince Of Thorns
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of King Of Thorns
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Prince Of Fools

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Mark Lawrence is a research scientist working on artificial intelligence. He's the founder behind the SPFBO contest and is considered the patron saint of self-published authors. He lives in England with his wife and four children.

I remember May 2010 like it was yesterday. My first book was about to be released by Pyr Books. I was so excited and terrified I had trouble sleeping. Then I caught an early review on Fantasy Book Critic. Not only was I pleased by the favorable reactions, I was gratified by the depth of the dual reviews (by Liviu Suciu and Cindy Hannikman). They really understood the genre and how my little book fit into the pantheon. To this day, that review strikes a chord in me. It was instrumental in my confidence as a new author.

Fantasy Book Critic is a crucial element of the modern fantasy landscape. Reviews by persons versed in the genre can be difficult to find, and this is what FBC delivers page after page.

I am so honored to be a small part of the FBC legacy.

Official Author Website 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Shadow’s Son 
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Blood & Iron

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Jon Sprunk was raided in central Pennsylvania and found his passion for literature during his college years. His elevator pitch to Lou Anders is the stuff of legends and eventually lead him to get published with Pyr books. Jon Sprunk is currently in the midst of his new fantasy series of which the third book will be released next year.

NOTE: Author pictures courtesy of the authors themselves.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Art Of War Anthology Cover Reveal + Interview with Petros Triantafyllou (by Mihir Wanchoo)

Pre-order The Art Of War Anthology Over HERE

The Booknest blog is made of several cool folks and while they are a relatively newer blog, they are doing things better than most accomplished ones. Last year they raised funds (to the tune of $4400) to support the Doctors Without Borders program. This year they decided to go one step further and create an anthology with an amazing roster of authors. The anthology is titled ART OF WAR and here’s the impressive lineup of authors assembled:

- Mark Lawrence

- Ed Greenwood

- Brian Scott Staveley

- Christian G. (Miles) Cameron

- John Gwynne

- Sebastien De Castell

- Mitchell Hogan

- Stan Nicholls

- Rob Hayes

- Charles Phipps

- Mazarkis Williams

- Ben Galley

- Graham Austin-King

- Michael R. Fletcher

- Nicholas Eames

- Anna Smith Spark

- Anna Stephens

- Ed McDonald

- RJ Barker

- Sue Tingey

- Benedict Patrick

- Michael R. Miller

- Dyrk Ashton

- Laura M Hughes

- Steven Poore

- Timandra Whitecastle

- Steven Kelliher

- J.P. Ashman

- Brandon Draga

- David T. Palmer

- Anne Nicholls

- Dominick M. Murray

- RB Watkinson

- M. L. Spencer

- Charles F Bond

- Andrew Rowe

- Ulff Lehmann

- Tom Gaskin

- Zachary Barnes 

- Nathan Boyce

- With a foreword by Brian D. Anderson

The beauty of it all is that Petros spent his own hard-earned money in getting everything assembled and lined up. he then also hired one of the best cover art & designers teams around namely John Anthony Di Giovanni & Shawn King. Tim Marquitz was also super kind to assist with the editing, proofreading & formatting for the anthology.

So today we are extremely excited to do the cover reveal for this awesome beast of an anthology, kindly feast your eyes on the beauty below:

(click on pic to enlarge)

The anthology will be released on February 13th 2018 and you can add it to your Goodreads profiles as well. checkout the blurb for it:

Official Book Blurb: “War, my friend, is a thing of beauty.”

How do you get forty fantasy authors to contribute short stories for a war-themed anthology without paying them? It sounds as if there should be a good punchline to that, but all Petros Triantafyllou did was twist the moral thumbscrews and tell them all the profits would go to Doctors Without Borders, a charity that works tirelessly across the world to alleviate the effects of conflict, sickness and poverty.

So, with clear consciences, several busloads of excellent and acclaimed fantasy authors have applied themselves to the task of penning a veritable mountain of words on the subject of The Art of War, expect bloodshed, gore, pathos, insight, passion, and laughs. Maybe even a wombat.

Who knows. Anyway, as the original blurb said: “It’s good. Buy it.” - Mark Lawrence

Doesn’t that sound amazing? And to top it off the print version of the anthology will contain 40 black & white interior art pieces by Jason Deem, one for nearly every story it seems.

I thought it would be great to find out more about the anthology and I was my sincere  pleasure when Petros T. agreed to answer a few questions about the anthology’s creation, the Booknest blog and some other tidbits.

So please give a warm welcome to Petros, Booknest owner, blogger buddy & a super smart dude:

Q] Thank you for this opportunity and welcome to Fantasy Book Critic. Could you please tell us about yourself, your life in Greece and how you came to be a blogger?

PT: Hello Mihir. Thanks for hosting this interview. I think you already mentioned the two most important things about me, or at least the ones that would interest the readers. I am from Greece and I am a blogger. What else? Hmm. I am a betting agent working on OPAP (a national network organizing and conducting games of chance). When I’m not reading I’m either fishing or watching three dozen tv series, and I have an infatuation with sloths which I share with the infamous Dyrk Ashton. I am also quite handsome and smart, according to my mum.

As for the blogger part, I used to write reviews on GoodReads, mostly to give a little bit of joy to the authors whose books I enjoyed reading, but for some reason my reviews gained a fair bit of popularity. At some point I was discussing with Agnes Meszaros (beta-reader of Mark Lawrence) about how I would love to get my hands on an ARC of The Liar’s Key, and she said that the best shot I had in an ARC was through a blog. Everything started from there.

Q] The blog while being a newer one has made a name for itself with the sheer amount of reviews and wonderful content that you folks provide. Please tell us about its creation and how did you assemble your terrific blogger team?

PT: As I mentioned above, it was Agnes that first nudged me into creating BookNest. When I put my mind on a project, I always try to get the best out of it. So, I looked around to other famous fantasy blogs such as Fantasy Faction and Fantasy Book Critic, and figured that a successful blog has more than one reviewer. So my first step was to contact two fellow reviewers from Goodreads (Katerina & Ojo) and offer them the opportunity to start this blog together. While three reviewers made a good starting point, throughout the last two years I recruited more members, reaching a point where 9 different people wrote reviews and articles for BookNest, producing an impressive amount of daily content.

Of course not every recruited member was a perfect fit, but through trial and error I believe that at this point, all of my reviewers are professionals beyond doubt. And to name them, the current BN members are: Katerina, Petrik, Celeste, Mary, TS, Charles and Michael.

Q] Tell us about your genre reading interests and which books & authors do you count among your favourites?

PT: While on BN we review over a dozen different genres, I am a fantasy guy through and through. My favorite books are The Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks (the books that made me set aside all other genres and focus only on Fantasy) and my favorite authors are Mark Lawrence and Michael R. Fletcher, for whom I occasionally beta-read.

Q] Last year you guys raised nearly about $4400 for Doctors Without Borders. Please tell us more about the initiation & successful completion of this fundraising experience? What motivated you to develop & run it?

PT: I could probably weave a terrific story about how this project came to life, but the truth is that it was a spur of the moment decision. I wanted to raise a few bucks for a charity, ANY charity, to help some people through the holidays, and I figured that the best way to do it would be through a fantasy fundraiser. So, with the help of Laura M. Hughes (who named the project “BookNest’s Fabulous Fantasy Fundraiser”) I got the word out, gathered 100 fantasy authors with each one of them offering a signed paperback, and we managed to raise $4,400 through a ruffle. The charity organization (MSF or Doctors Without Borders) was selected by the authors themselves through a poll.

Q] Following on from your last year’s efforts, you guys are going one step further and planning a charity anthology for the same cause. Could you tell us more about the ART OF WAR anthology and how did its inception occur?

PT: Art Of War is the combination of two different projects. I was planning the second annual Fabulous Fantasy Fundraiser, and at the same point I was trying to figure out how I could pull off a fantasy anthology, inspired by Adrian Collins’ Evil is a Matter of Perspective anthology. The only possible way that I could pull off both of them successfully was to combine them, and that’s how I got the idea of an anthology for charity. I sent an open invitation to the same authors from FFF, and then personally invited a few more to complete the line-up.

Q] The title is certainly a famous one. Please tell us how you decided upon it and what lead you to focus on this topic for the charity anthology?

PT: Truth be told, the theme of the anthology was decided through a misunderstanding. The first person I contacted for the anthology was Mark Lawrence, and his reply was “how can I say no?”.

He also said that he wasn’t going to write a new story, but he would use an older one. Ok, he didn’t really said such a thing, but I somehow thought that he did. And since I really wanted him in Art Of War, I figured that the best way to do it would be to pick such a loose theme (aka war) so Mark and/or any other author who couldn’t write a new story due to deadlines etc could adjust and use an older one. In the end, this was more or less wasted, since 39 out of the 40 stories were written specifically for Art Of War.

Q] The artwork is beyond gorgeous and I believe you have gotten the dream team of John Anthony Di Giovanni & Shawn King to showcase their magic. What input did you have for that cover (if any) and what was your first reaction when you viewed it? Also tell us about the ARC cover I believe you had a special hand to play in its creation?

PT: Dream Team indeed! While every other aspect of the anthology was discussed and pondered over , I knew from the very first moment the people I needed to recruit to bring Art Of War to life. Tim Marquitz would be our editor, Di Giovanni alongside King would create the cover, and Jason Deem would create the interior art. I wasn’t really sure I could afford them since the project wasn’t fundraised, but all four of them were extremely generous.

As for the input, I gave complete artistic license to all of them. Jason read all 40 stories and illustrated scenes of his own choosing, and John only heard a rough idea from me and made everything else on his own.

Suffice to say that I was thunderstruck twice, once when I saw the cover illustration, and a second time when Shawn transformed the already amazing piece of art to something even greater.

Q] This question might be a bit difficult, but among this varied collection which ones are your favourite one as a reader?

PT: Asking a parent to choose among his children? That’s a tough one Mihir. If I was forced to, I would pick Mark’s, for the sole reason that it is set after the events of The Broken Empire. [Spoiler] A glimpse to the events after the death of Jorg Ancrath, and the fate of the Empire after the Wheel of Osheim is stopped? YES PLEASE.

Q] So what can readers expect from this amazing collection and what should they be looking forward to according to you?

PT: They should expect a whopping one hundred forty-four thousand (144,000) words epic anthology by forty Masters of Fantasy. What more is there to say?

Q] In closing, do you have any last thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?

PT: Call me an idealist, but I believe that there is goodness in everyone. All of us feel empathy. Every single one of us want to help those in need, but sometimes we simply can’t afford to. This is an opportunity to change this by combining charity with pleasure. By getting a copy of Art Of War not only are you buying dozens of hours of entertainment, but you also help those who are suffering. All proceeds of Art Of War are going to Doctors Without Borders.

Even if you can’t afford to buy a copy, simply spreading the word is a great help.

NOTE: Fall Of Gods artwork by Rasmus Berggreen. All other artwork courtesy of Petros.

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