It seems that more and more people's curiosity is being piqued by Steven Erikson's opus, The Malazan Book of the Fallen. If you're one of those potential readers who have been wondering whether or not to give this series a shot, this giveaway is definitely for you!
Thanks to the nice folks at Transworld, I have two full sets of the Malazan saga for you guys to win!;-) Think about it: Nearly 6000 pages of pure reading pleasure! As most of you know, I'm a recent Malazan convert. And for my money, this is the most enjoyable fantasy series on the market today! So what are you waiting for!?! Stop wasting time and register now!
The prize consists of the first 6 volumes of Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen:
Although Patrick Rothfuss' debut was released with much fanfare and an initial first printing which consisted of 45,000 books, Daw Books are sending The Name of the Wind back to print for an additional 9000 copies.
It will be interesting to see how well the novel will do in the long run. Yet this is a promising beginning, there's no doubt about it! For more information about The Name of the Wind: Canada, USA, Europe.
Some have inquired about this, so please note that the UK edition will be published by Gollancz and will be available next September.
If you've been seeing threads about this book on various message boards and wish to learn more about it, check out my review from last January.
Well, I just got off the phone with Matt Bialer a while ago. And I'm now the newest client at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, Inc! How cool is that!?!
We talked for over an hour, discussing the fantasy genre, as well as potential editors and publishers that would be a good fit for The Eye of the Serpent. Even better, Matt feels comfortable shopping the manuscript in its current form, so that should speed up the process a little.
As crazy as it sounds, it hasn't dawned upon me yet that I now have literary agent. . . I've been trying to do just that for the last 7 years, so I guess that explains my having a hard time believing that I was finally able to succeed.
To all you aspiring writers out there, hang in there and don't give up!:-) Good things can happen!
I just got word from Erikson's publicist and I wanted to clarify something. There will not be a Reaper's Gale limited edition per se. The "regular" version is the trade paperback, and the "limited edition" is the hardcover format, of which they print a much smaller quantity.
Hence, the prizes will be distributed as follows:
1st prize: A copy of the hardcover edition of Reaper's Gale
2nd prize: Five copies of the trade paperback edition of Reaper's Gale
Sorry about that little misunderstanding. . .
What!?! You haven't pre-ordered Reaper's Gale yet!!! What are you waiting for!?! Check it out here: Canada, USA, Europe.
The name of our lucky winner has been drawn. As such, he will receive signed copies of both Cry of the Newborn and Shout for the Dead, compliments of Gollancz. Many thanks to the author, James Barclay, for helping me put this giveaway together.
The winner is:
- Robert Morgan, from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK (valgard on malazanempire.com)
Well, another Kitty novel and another incredibly entertaining read! Yet after the first two, I expected no less from Carrie Vaughn's newest installment.
Following the traumatic events of Kitty Goes to Washington, our favorite werewolf/radio host needs some well-deserved time off from everything. Retreating to a mountain cabin in Colorado, Kitty hopes to recuperate, both physically and emotionally, and to write her memoirs. But with her uncanny ability to attract trouble wherever she goes, Kitty soon discovers that someone cursed her, leaving animal sacrifices on her front porch. Before long, Kitty will find herself in danger yet again.
The story, as was the case with its two predecessors, is told in the first person. I relished this new opportunity to get into Kitty's head and was not disappointed. Carrie Vaughn has created a very real and complex young lady. Kitty's vulnerabilities make her an extremely genuine person, no different from most girls out there. The lycanthropy notwithstanding, of course! Kitty Norville is so genuine that, even though this series contains vampires, werewolves, and other creatures of the night, Vaughn weaves it all together and create an unmistakably "human" tale.
New character development makes this book an even more satisfying reading experience. Revelations about both Cormac and Ben O'Farrell add another layer to the characterization.
Once again, the pace is crisp, keeping you turning those pages. The main problem with the Kitty novels is that they end too rapidly! And although Kitty Takes a Holiday is the third one, the series remains fresh and intriguing.
I've been told that the Science Fiction Book Club will publish an omnibus containing the first three Kitty books. I encourage you to check them out!
Fun, fast-paced, engaging and entertaining, Kitty Takes a Holiday should not disappoint fans of the series thus far.
Needless to say, Carrie Vaughn will not win my Unexpected Surprise Award this year. I'm now a believer!;-)
Well, some of you have known about this for a while, yet I wanted to wait till things had settled down before making an announcement. I know that many people who read this blog are aspiring writers, so hopefully this will encourage them to persevere and not let go of their dreams.
Though the contract has not been signed yet, it seems that my 7-year wait is at an end. To all ends and purposes, it appears that I will soon be represented by the prestigious literary agency Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, Inc, in New York City. Yes, the same agency that handles Dan Brown, among many other successful authors worldwide. And since they accept about 2 percent of the material they receive every year, I feel privileged, to say the least!
Matt Bialer has been showing interest in my fantasy manuscript, The Eye of the Serpent, since January. He totally blew my mind when he told me he wanted to represent it! His clients include Tad Williams, Tracy Hickman, Patrick Rothfuss, W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O'Neal Gear, as well as many others. Matt has been selling fantasy/scifi manuscripts for more than two decades, so it doesn't get much better than this! He has already asked me about potential publishers and editors I'd like to work with, and I must admit that it all feels surreal at the moment! Even better, he has passed along my sample material from Time of your Life to one of his colleagues.
The journey is far from over, that goes without saying. Yet I am one step closer to my objective of one day being published, and right now it's all that matters!:-)
Shawn just informed me that readers will soon have the chance to purchase new signed and/or personalized books at www.signedpage.com. These new titles include Jim Butcher's White Night, Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind, and Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Justice.
For more information, just log on to The Signed Page's website!
If you're a regular reader of this blog, it may have dawned upon you that I'm what you could call a HUGE fan of Steven Erikson's The Malazan Book of the Fallen.
Well, with the release of Reaper's Gale just around the corner, there will be quite a few things done around here to promote the author and his work. You probably know by now that I have a sweet spot for Erikson, and I'll do everything I can to get as many people as humanly possible to read his fantastic series.
It all started with my book review of Reaper's Gale, the first one out there, and it seems that it has generated quite a positive buzz. If you haven't pre-ordered this seventh volume, what are you waiting for!?!
I will be sending my questions to Erikson this week, so expect a new interview with the author in the near future. The same goes for Ian Cameron Esslemont!:-)
Furthermore, in order to get more and more readers interested in the Malazan series, in the next few days I will have two full paperback sets up for grabs! Which means that two lucky winners will get their hands on Gardens of the Moon, Deadhouse Gates, Memories of Ice, House of Chains, Midnight Tides and The Bonehunters, compliments of Transworld.
Hundreds of people have already registered to The Lees of Laughter's End and Reaper's Gale giveaways, and there's still time for you to do so if you haven't entered those contests yet. Later in April, keep your eyes peeled because I will also have 5 copies of Esslemont's Night of Knives for you to win!
And the icing on the cake: I was notified today that there will be a limited edition of Reaper's Gale, and I will have a copy up for grabs!;-)
Last spring, after reviewing In the Eye of Heaven and giving it an okay score, I still ran a contest for the book and did an interview with the author. What can I say!?! Gotta support my fellow Canucks! Anyway, David Keck wondered what I would do if I really liked something. I guess he now has his answer. . .;-)
Rob Bedord and I teamed up yet again for another interview, this time with the man who may have written what will be considered the best fantasy debut of the year, Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.
I know the novel has showed up in various stores and that some online sellers have already shipped it, so you should be able to get your hands on it and see for yourself what the buzz is all about.
Meanwhile, here is your chance to get to know Rothfuss a little better.
- Without giving anything away, what can you tell us about your debut, THE NAME OF THE WIND?
That's a dangerous question. It's like going up to a new mother and saying, "So, how's the baby doing?" You know her eyes are going to glaze over and she's going to start bubbling over with excited mom news. "The baby did this. The baby said that...."
That's the sort of question you're asking me here. Are you sure you want to go down that road? If you're not careful, I might start pulling photos out of my wallet....
- Perhaps you could just give a spoiler-free synopsis of the novel? Something potential readers could read and be intrigued...
To tell you the truth, I can't summarize my book to save my life. I really, really suck at it. That particular deficiency is probably why I had so much trouble getting an agent back in the day.
If people want to read intriguing synopses, they can go check out what the reviewers and other authors have said about it. They do a better job than I can. I'm just not wired for it.
- What can readers expect from the two sequels and the trilogy that will follow this one?
Well.... I've already written them. So you won't have to wait forever for them to come out. They'll be released on a regular schedule. One per year.
You can also expect the second book to be written with the same degree of care and detail as this first one. You know the sophomore slump? When a writer's second novel is weaker because they're suddenly forced to write under deadline? I don't have to worry about that because my next two novels are already good to go.
- Any tentative titles at this juncture?
I'm thinking of "The Wise Man's Fear" for book two, and "The Doors of Stone" for book three. That's pure speculation, mind you. Things change, and if something better gets suggested, we'll go with that.
- THE NAME OF THE WIND being your debut, can you tell us a little bit more about the road that you followed to see this manuscript published? I know that it was Kevin J. Anderson who originally put you in touch with Matt Bialer, who became your literary agent.
That's the end of the story, really.
Before that I worked on the story for about seven years. Just me. Then I spent about two years getting rejected by every agent in the known universe. Apparently I can write a quarter-million word fantasy novel, but a decent one-page query letter is beyond me.
Then I won the Writers of the Future contest and met Kevin Anderson. Kevin to Matt. Matt to Betsy Wollheim at DAW, my fabulous editor. Happily ever after.
- Pat, as many fans are aspiring writers, could you perhaps elaborate a bit more on this? This will undoubtedly interest a lot of people.
If you really think folks will find it interesting, sure I'll tell it. But it's a long story, for those of you who don't care, I highly advise that you skip down to the next question:
Okay. I won the Writers of the Future contest, and if that happens, one of the things they do is fly you out to California and treat you to a week's worth of writers' workshops run by various Big-Name authors. In my year we were lucky enough to have Tim Powers running ours. Not only is he a great author, but he's a great teacher on top of it. Those two don't often go together. Anyway, one day Kevin Anderson comes out and does an afternoon's workshop. He talks about some of his experiences as a writer, some of his philosophy, some of his tricks. Good stuff.
Later on that evening, I wander down to the lobby of the hotel and see him standing there, holding a graphic novel. He smiles and waves and I wander over.
"What's that?" I ask, nodding at the book he's holding.
"Research," he says. "I've got some comic projects coming up, so I figured I should do some reading to see what's on the market right now."
"Well you can't go wrong with Alan Moore," I said.
He agreed, then we talked about Watchmen for a bit. Then we talked about some other comics. Then we talked about what we liked and didn't like. After about five or ten minutes we were still standing in the hotel lobby having friendly geek talk. Kevin says, "I was actually going to go find a place to hang out before dinner. You want to go get a beer?"
Now here's the thing. I don't drink. I don't have a thing against it. I just don't dig it. Caffeine is my real drug of choice. Alcohol has very little effect on me, and what little effect it does have, I really don't enjoy. Plus, I don't like the taste.
So I said, "Yeah. I'd love to go get a beer."
So we went off to the bar and hung out and talked for a couple hours about books. About what we liked and didn't, and what projects Kevin was working on. The man is all over in the publishing world, and always has about three dozen irons in the fire at any one point.
What I didn't do was fall to the floor and clutch at his legs, begging, "Please! I've written a fantasy trilogy and it's really good! I can't get anyone to look at it. I need to get my foot in the door! HELP MEEEE!!!"
That's what I felt like, of course. I'd worked on the trilogy for a decade, and in the past two years I'd been rejected by at least 40-50 agents. I was frustrated as hell. But you don't want to be that clingy, desperate, mewling fanboy. That's not cool.
Aside from making you look like a spaz, it's really counterproductive too. It's like when you haven't had a date in a long time and you get really lonely. All you want is someone to love, but every woman you approach can see the desperation rolling off you like heat-shimmer off summer blacktop. It makes them so uncomfortable they don't want to even be near you, let alone play at snugglebunnies.
I knew that professional authors must have to deal with desperate newbies all the time, and I didn't want to be that guy. So I just hung out and enjoyed his company. He had a bunch of great stories about the publishing world, and I could learn a lot just by listening to him talk about the scene and how he practices his craft.
After half an hour or so there was an opportunity for me to casually mention that I'd already finished a trilogy, so I did. He asked a couple of questions about it, and asked what sort of luck I was having shopping it around. So I told him the truth: I sucked at summarizing/pitching my own book. He gave me some pointers, and we joked about it.
Then the conversation moved on. Of course, I was hoping he'd say something like, "You seem like a nice guy, why don't you give Bantam a call and tell them I sent you."
But he didn't. Later that weekend I hung out with him at a couple of the group dinners and during the award ceremony. We're both good talkers, so it was fun. Good conversation. I got my award, got to see the anthology with my first published story in it, then packed up and flew back home to Wisconsin.
When I got back, there was an e-mail from him saying,
I read your story on the plane home. You're an incredible writer. I know you've written a trilogy. You should really show it to my agent. Is the first book ready to show around? (Hint: your answer to this question is "yes, of course it's ready." And if it's not ready, you work your ass off over the weekend and you get it ready.)
You see? He knew what I was hoping for, but he didn't have any idea what sort of a writer I was. And he also knew what it was like to be a spooked new writer who finally gets the chance to show his novel off. That's why he wrote that parenthetical to me. So I e-mailed him back and said, verbatim, "Yes, of course it's ready." Then I worked my ass off over the weekend and mailed it off to his agent on Monday.
And Matt eventually accepted me as a client. Then, eventually, we sold it.
But that, as they say, is another story.
- What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?
- Brevity? In a 600+ page novel?
Heh. Yeah. It sounds ridiculous, but it's true. There's a reason everyone comments on the book being such a quick read. It's long, but it's tight. There isn't a lot of wasted space. I don't engage in long, tedious bouts of description or big chunks of explanation. It's efficient.
I think the tendency to over-explain and over describe is one of the most common failings in fantasy. It's an unfortunate piece of Tolkien's legacy. Don't get me wrong, Tolkien was a great worldbuilder, but he got a little caught up describing his world at times, at the expense of the overall story. I love the Lord of the Rings, but those first two hundred pages are kinda slow.
My early drafts of the novel had the same problem, of course. When you're just starting out and you're really proud of the world you've made, you want to share ALL of it with people. However, over the years I've streamlined the book. I probably have a 100,000 words I've trimmed out of this book alone. Sometimes it's whole chapters and scenes. Sometimes it's just snipping a few unnecessary words out of a sentence. But the goal is always the same, make the book clearer, cleaner, faster.
- Kvothe is an incredibly genuine character. Was THE NAME OF THE WIND always Kvothe's story?
Absolutely. I knew from the very beginning that the story was going to center around him.
When you read a fantasy novel part of the fun is getting to explore a new world. Everyone knows that. But I believe the same is true about characters. You can explore interesting people in the same way that you explore a town or a culture.
A lot of great stories are like this. Don Quixote is about the adventure, but it's also about the man. Same thing with Cyrano de Bergerac, or Hamlet. If you're looking for something more modern, any one of Robin Hobb's books. Her worlds are richly detailed, sensible and real, but so are her characters. Either one of those is rare, but to get them both in the same writer is near-miraculous. That's why Hobb's books are so great.
Character is half the reason we read. We're excited because of the plot, but we care because of the characters.
- According to your website, Kvothe told his story to you over seven years. Were there any major changes from what the story you set out to tell to the story you actually told?
Who boy. Yeah. The original plot arc I had envisioned was nothing like what actually developed. Which is for the best, really. A lot of those original ideas... well... to be completely frank with you, they sucked.
I think one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a writer is to follow your initial plan too stringently. A story needs room to grow and evolve. So many of my original ideas were either cliche or boring. So I cut them out, kept the good stuff, and moved on.
- What writer, living or dead, would you feel most honored to have read your book?
Wow. Wow that's hard.
I've already been really lucky with the writers been able to have read it, especially considering the fact that I'm a total nobody. Still, if I had to pick someone new to read it ....
Peter S. Beagle, Neil Gaiman, or Joss Whedon. Do I have to pick between them?
It's like asking a kid which parent he likes better. It's not really a fair question. I love them all, just in different ways.
- Again, according to your website the second and third books are complete. Which of the three was most difficult, or did you approach the trilogy more as one story?
I wrote the whole thing as a single story. The hard part has been reshaping it slightly so that each novel is... well... novel shaped.
Each book needs a good beginning and a good ending. People get pissed off when you don't close things off properly at the end. There's a big difference in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and the second one. The end of the first movie was complete, everything was pretty much resolved. Sure there were a few threads left dangling: Jack was at large and there was a devil monkey on the loose, but that's okay. People like knowing that the characters they love might come back for a sequel later. But the ending of the second Pirates movie was mostly irritating. Cliffhangers are an acquired taste, and not many people find them satisfying these days.
That's what I'm trying to do. Stay true to my overall story, while still making sure the reader walks away satisfied after each book. It's tricky.
- Both music and acting are integral aspects of Kvothe's character, and his story. Are you a big film buff and did/do you have a passion for music?
Whoo boy. Modern music and movies have so little to do with music and acting.
- What do you mean? How does modern music have little do with music, outside of boy bands where no members actually play an instrument?
85% of modern music doesn't have a damn thing to do with music. It has to do with looking good. Name me one woman on the top ten right now who isn't absolutely smoking hot. You think that's a coincidence?
Now don't get me wrong. There are a few folks up there who are brilliant. Pink writes awesome stuff, but if she wasn't hot, you bet your ass she wouldn't be on MTV. For every Tracy Chapman out there you've got fifty spice girls.
And forget instruments. Did you know they have machines that take your voice and modulate it sounds like you're in key? It's called a pitchshifter. So now you don't even have to be able to carry a tune. If you have perky tits and can dance, congratulations, you're a music superstar.
Now don't get me wrong, I know that performance and music are inexorably tied together. And hell, I'll watch Brittany's Toxic music video all day. But there's a difference between that and listening to Leo Kottke play guitar. One is entertainment. The other is Music.
- Fair enough. What do you like, artistically? What are some of the albums and films/plays you find yourself being drawn to?
Hmmmm.... My favorite play I've already mentioned: Cyrano De Bergerac. The close second place is Midsummer Night's Dream.
Movies: Fight Club. The Crow. Princess Bride. Labyrinth. American Beauty.
Musically I'm all over the place. I love Paul Simon, Barenaked Ladies, Parliament Funkadelic. And lately, Imogen Heap.
Let's move on before this starts looking like a myspace profile....
- Not only do you have the full support of DAW Books, but the entire Penguin Books family is behind you. As a new author, you must be thrilled to have them backing the novel in such a manner. And yet, with a first printing of about 45,000 copies, you are aware that THE NAME OF THE WIND is expected to do very well indeed. Given the fact that sales are something on which you have no control, is a part of you anxious about the expectations that the book must meet?
Well now I am.... [laughs]
Honestly though. I'm not worried. Why fret about something that I have no control over? What a waste of energy that would be.
Also, I've spent years refining this story into the best book it can be. I've had hundreds of people read it and help me improve it. I trust the book. There's no more for me to do at this point. People will either love it, or not. My worrying won't tip the scales.
- Given the choice, would you take a New York Times bestseller, or a World Fantasy Award? Why, exactly?
Can I pick the Pulitzer instead?
- No. But seriously, would you rather have commercial success or recognition from your peers?
My peers? I think you have a strange perception of who my peers are. I've been a reader and a fantasy geek my whole life. My peers are fellow fantasy readers.
If those folks read my book, and enjoy it enough to talk to their friends about it, I'll have all the commercial success and recognition I want.
- I know that you turned down an offer from another publisher for more money and elected to go with DAW Books instead. What prompted you make that decision?
There were a lot of reasons.
First, Betsy was really excited about the book. Really really excited. She called my agent and begged to talk to me. When we were on the phone she said, "I loved your book from the first page. This is the best heroic fantasy I've read in 30 years." Her enthusiasm was palpable.
Second, I knew if I signed on with DAW, my editor was going to be the owner and president of the company. I wouldn't have to worry her getting a job at different publisher halfway through my second book. I also didn't have to worry about my editor's boss not getting behind the project. At DAW, my editor *is* the boss.
Lastly, DAW has a reputation of really sticking by its authors. Everyone I talked to said that. They don't abandon you. They keep you in print. One author I trusted said to me, "If this trilogy is all you've got, take the money and run. But if you want to start a career, go with DAW. They'll help you make that happen."
- Honestly, do you believe that the fantasy genre will ever come to be recognized as veritable literature? Truth be told, in my opinion there has never been this many good books/series as we have right now, and yet there is still very little respect (not to say none) associated with the genre.
The lion's share of old-school literature IS fantasy, they just pretend it isn't. The Odyssey is full of gods and spells. Oedipus Rex has a sphinx and a prophecy. There are witches in Macbeth, faeries in Midsummer Night's Dream, and a ghost in Hamlet. Dante's Inferno? Beowulf? All looks like fantasy to me....
I think a lot of people read and respect fantasy storytelling. A lot of the more forward-thinking colleges offer classes studying it, though they usually call it speculative fiction or magical realism to make themselves feel better. We all know the truth though: it's fantasy.
As far as having my book recognized as literature? [Pat shrugs] Why would I want that? I mean, have you read Great Expectations? Gech. Why would I want to invited into their little club? Give me Tim Powers and Phillip K Dick. Give me Le Guin, Gaiman, and Pratchett. Give me McKillip and Whedon. These are the storytellers. These are our modern mythmakers. Our oracles. Our dreamers. I want to be on that team.
With over 1000 registrations in that inbox, I needed to get rid of a few of them! So the names of our three winners have been drawn. They will each receive a complimentary copy of Joel Shepherd's Breakaway, which I will soon read. Many thanks to Pyr for supporting yet another one of my contests!
The winners are:
- J. Scott Willis, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada (QuickTidal on malazanempire.com)
- Melissa Lawson, from Orlando, Florida, USA
- Jim Neuschwander, from Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, USA (Winterfella on asoiaf.westeros.org)
Just when you guys thought that things couldn't possibly get any better, what with the Reaper's Gale review and giveaway, I'm coming back at you with more! Who's your Daddy now, eh!?!;-)
My day started out on a very good note when I received an email from Bill Schafer from Subterranean Press, asking for my address so he could send me an ARC of the limited edition of The Lies of Locke Lamora and other stuff! That made my morning, to say the least! I then asked him if he'd consider doing a book giveway and he agreed! There will be another one in the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for another chance to win a limited edition novel.
Thanks to Bill's generosity, here's the prize I have up for grabs: Copy number 1 of Subterranean Press' limited edition of Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora (Canada, USA, Europe), plus the rights to purchase the same number for future volumes in the series, provided Subterranean Press do limited editions of the subsequent volumes in The Gentlement Bastards series. For more information, check out www.subterraneanpress.com.
Now, if you need more to get excited, you better check you're pulse because you might be dead!;-)
The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "LIES." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.
Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.
Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.
It's with great eagerness that I jumped right into this seventh Malazan volume! Understandably, I could do no less! Many thanks are owed to the kind folks at Transworld for allowing me to get an early read of Reaper's Gale. I'll be eternally grateful!
If I could sum it all up in two words, it would have to be "hot damn!"
As Malazan fans, we all know how Steven Erikson enjoys using misdirection to fool us. Every single thread of this convoluted, multilayered plot seems to be twisted upon itself, and nowhere is it more apparent then in this novel. One piece of advice: Expect the unexpected. You think you know where the tale is headed? The author will rapidly disabuse you of that notion! There are more surprises in Reaper's Gale than in the rest of the series, it seems. On several occasions, I found myself closing the book, shaking my head, unable to believe that this had just happened.
I don't normally include a plot summary in my reviews, but I feel that one is needed in this instance, if only to give you a taste of the story. Spoiler-free, that goes without saying. Some plotlines in Reaper's Gale will shock you and blow your mind, and I will not spoil all the fun for you!
While it's well nigh impossible to put everything that a Malazan installment encompasses in a nutshell, it's even more difficult with Reaper's Gale. For starters, it's the biggest volume yet, a little bigger than both Memories of Ice and The Bonehunters. In the sixth volume we began to glean how various disparate plotlines from different books were related. Indeed, in The Bonehunters we saw a panoply of storylines converge, and for the first time we were granted a peek at the enormous tapestry that serves as the backdrop for the Malazan "greater scheme of things." Revelations contained within the pages of Reaper's Gale demonstrate just how many characters/events are tied to one another. None of its predecessors have moved the story forward as much as Erikson's latest. As a matter of course, the author somehow manages to do just that with an ease that continues to baffle me.
Reaper's Gale takes us back to Lether, where much as occurred since Midnight Tides. Rhulad Sengar, the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths, has been driven insane by his countless resurrections. Fearing betrayal, he sent the most powerful Edur and those closest to him with the fleets. Thus, although literally immortal, Rhulad finds himself completely isolated from the other Tiste Edur by "enterprising" Letherii. The Edur conquest has had little repercussions among the Letherii. The Chancellor now rules the empire all but in name, aided by the Invigilator and his secret police, the Patriotists. The Liberty Consign, an association of the Letherii Empire's wealthiest families, begins to realize that someone is trying to orchestrate economic sabotage on a scale that defies comprehension. Whoever is behind those machinations must be found, or the economy could well collapse, bringing everything down with it.
The Factor of the city of Drene is leading a campaign of extermination against the Awl'dan. The man wishes to seize their herds and their lands to increase his own wealth. The Awl'dan are being decimated by the Letherii forces, as the clans are slowly but irrevocably being wiped out. But an Awl warrior known as Redmask will return from exile bearing ancient weapons from the Awl's distant past, weapons that were devised to battle the legendary Kercha. Accompanied by two strange companions, Redmask will lead the Awl'dan against the Letherii forces, seeking revenge and the redemption of the Awl for a betrayal that cost the lives of an army of foreigners.
Fear Sengar, Udinaas, Seren Pedac, Kettle and Silchas Ruin are traveling through the Bluerose Mountains, searching for the soul of Scabandari Bloodeye. Little do they know that the three Sisters -- Menadore, Sheltatha Lore and Sukul Ankhadu -- are plotting together and against one another to lay claim the Finnest which contains the spirit of Father Shadow. Yet all are aware that, should he be the first to find the Finnest, Silchas Ruin will not permit the Tiste Edur who betrayed him and ordered the slaughter of the Tiste Andii forces, and who forced him to spend millennia trapped inside an Azath, to live again. The Onyx Wizards will grant them a guide who will take them on a journey through the most extraordinary places, at the end of which Scabandari's soul will hopefully be found.
Tehol Beddict, wearing his trademark blanket and still living on that rooftop in the company of his loyal manservant Bugg, schemes like he is prone to do. Fate will reunite him with a former tutor he was infatuated with at a younger age.
Shurq and her pirate crew come across two badly damaged Edur ships. Aboard, she discovers that the crew has been slaughtered and the captain tortured. It suddenly dawns upon her that there are strangers at sea.
The K'risnan monitor the progress of Silchas Ruin and the others, yet they appear reticent to get involved. Hannan Mosag knows that the Crippled God wants to use Father Shadow's Finnest before destroying it. Unbeknownst to all, the Warlock King seeks to sever himself from the Fallen One's influence.
After disastrous encounters around the distant Malazan Empire, the two Edur fleets finally return to Letheras. Each fleet is transporting an assortment of Champions, all of whom are scheduled to face the Emperor in combat. Among that elite group, two Champions nevertheless stand out from the others: Icarium Lifstealer and Karsa Orlong, slayer of the Emperor's own brother. Destiny seems to have led them to Lether, where Rhulad's accursed sword awaits. But the Jhag is aware that he's been on this continent before, and he realizes that the truth he's been searching for for all eternity might well be found on these shores. As for the Toblakai, he plans to kill the Emperor of a Thousand Deaths -- once.
Following the near catastrophe at the First Throne of the T'lan Imass, Quick Ben, Trull Sengar and Onrack the Broken are recuperating in the Shadow Realm. Cotillion will send them on a new mission, a quest that will take them somewhere that should not exist.
The Errant reclaims the title of Master of the Tiles. Unexpectedly, he issues a most unusual challenge, which may well shatter alliances among the gods.
Following the Malaz City debacle, Adjunct Tavore gave the order for the 14th Army and their allies to set sail after the departing Tiste Edur fleets. For the slaughter of the island of Sepik, there must be a reckoning. But a tactical error on the Adjunct's part will put the lives of most of the Bonehunters in jeopardy. It will be up to Fiddler, Gesler, Hellian, and the other marines to somehow stay alive on these foreign shores.
Part of the Malazan fleet, Nimander Golit, son of Anomander Rake, abandoned for so long on the island of Drift Avalii, tries to give a meaning to his life. A prophecy proclaims that he must find the one who will open the gate and take them home to Mother Dark.
And as the economy of the empire is about to crumble, as the Letherii forces much face the Awl'dan to the north and the Malazans to the west, as the soul of Scbandari Bloodeye remains undiscovered, as the Adjunct leads her fleet toward Letheras, Rhulad Sengar must face Champion after Champion, until he can finally step into the arena to meet his brother's murderer.
Although titanic in size (910 pages), the pace throughout Reaper's Gale keeps you turning those pages, eager to discover more and more. There is no sluggish plotline akin to the Mhybe in Memories of Ice, making this one a veritable page-turner. Still, a few storylines at the very end were, at least in my opinion, a little rushed. It doesn't take anything away from the tale, mind you, yet I would have liked for Erikson to maintain the same rhythm from start to finish, as the pace in this one was more or less perfect. After all, when a book weighs in at over 900 pages, what's 10 or 20 extra pages thrown into the mix!?!
The worldbuilding is, once more, grandiose. No other fantasy series, past or present, can match The Malazan Book of the Fallen in vision, ambition and scope. Steven Erikson seems to delight in making us squirm, offering us tantalizing glimpses that make us beg for more. In a series that already resounds with more depth than anything ever written in the genre, the author still raises the bar even higher. New revelations include secrets about the K'Chain Che'Malle, Icarium's past, K'rul and the Warrens, Anomander Rake and Silchas Ruin's pasts, the dragons and Starvald Demelain, the massacre in Aren, the first time Kellanved summoned the T'lan Imass to conquer Li Heng, the repercussions of the Ritual of Tellan on the land, and much, much more!
Most storylines grab hold of you and won't let go. From the first few lines of the prologue, as we witness Kilmandaros beating the crap out of Scabandari Bloodeye, all the way to the end, when Rhulad faces the last Champion, Reaper's Gale is a fantastic read! In addition, I felt that many scenes bring a new emotional level that had yet to be seen in the series.
Much like The Bonehunters, this novel contains its share of cliffhangers. With so many different threads interwoven together, I don't believe that it's humanly possible for Erikson to write self-contained installments anymore, not with the action occurring on various continents and realms of existence. Having said that, even though the ending doesn't offer resolution of every single plotline, Reaper's Gale is brought to a satisfying conclusion. Unlike The Bonehunters, which ended with a series of cliffhangers, this one does provide readers with closure.
The characterizations play a major role in this one. Erikson has the damnable ability to introduce us to characters on which very little is known and who somehow become fan favorites. Redmask and Silchas Ruin are two such characters. As for the rest of this immense cast, I must admit that character development made me like Quick Ben, Seren Pedac and Trull Sengar even more. A lot has already been said about the bodycount. As the title implies (Hood is the Reaper of Souls), no on is safe in this novel. There are a lot of casualties in Reaper's Gale, especially toward the end, when several important characters die. I think even George R. R. Martin would be impressed by the number of deaths! Now, everyone is dying (no pun intended) to discover who will live and who will die. Please don't ask me, for I won't say. I'll tell you that one death in particular is as important -- at least to me -- as the one that shocked readers in Memories of Ice. For the rest, you'll have to find out for yourself!
Steven Erikson's broadness of vision fills me with awe. Reaper's Gale is one of the best Malazan volumes, second only to Memories of Ice and Deadhouse Gates. It is definitely one of the fantasy books to read this year. If you only have money to buy a single book this spring, this is the one to purchase!
Call me crazy, but for my money The Malazan Book of the Fallen is the best fantasy series around! I know it's early yet, but unless Jordan and/or Martin release something before the end of 2007, Reaper's Gale could well be the fantasy book of the year.
Impossible to put down! Roll on Toll the Hounds! By the way, paying the Hounds' Toll is a Gadrobi saying referring to the butcher's bill after a slaughter. Methinks that the proverbial shit will likely hit the fan in the next Malazan book!
Okay, so our five winners have been randomly selected. Thanks to the generosity of Daw Books and Rothfuss himself, each will received a signed hardcover copy of what could be the fantasy debut of the year, The Name of the Wind.
The winners are:
- Dr. Cleveland Evans, from Bellevue, Nebraska, USA (Ormond on asoiaf.westeros.org)
- Mike Smukavich, from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada (Captain Bentley on asoiaf.westeros.org)
- Korbinian Nagel1, from Chillicothe, Illinois, USA
- Evan Gladstone, from Richmond, Virginia, USA (Mexal on sffworld.com)
I'm happy to see that most people appear to share my opinion of Abercrombie's newest, Before They Are Hanged, namely that it's excellent!;-) For more info on this book: Canada, USA, Europe.
Buy it! You'll be happy you did!
Anyway, to help put Joe's name out there and to help him promote the second volume of The First Law, I thought it would be cool to ask him a couple of questions and see what sort of answers he'd come up with. If you're hanging out on www.sffworld.com and www.asoiaf.westeros.org, then you know how entertaining this guy can be! He doesn't take himself too seriously, which makes interviewing him a pleasure.:-)
- First of all, what could you tell your eager fans about BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED?
Those who loved the first one will love this even more. Those who liked the first one will like this even more. Those who didn’t like the first one? I’m not entirely convinced that such fantastical creatures exist, but if they do? I suggest they buy every copy of my books they can find and burn them.
That’ll teach me.
- Were you surprised by the commercial success of THE BLADE ITSELF? It must sure warm your heart to see your debut doing so well.
Surprised? No, it’s a brilliant book. Warmed? Yes, positively in flames.
- Are you eager to discover how you'll be received by the North American market?
I’m delighted to be received by any market that will have me, but the American market for fantasy is, of course, the biggest in the world. It’s also one that’s quite difficult for British authors to get a foothold in, so I feel pretty lucky to be getting a chance there at all, especially this soon. All courtesy of the wonderful Lou Anders at Pyr Books – a man whose boundless enthusiasm is only exceeded by the excellence of his taste in edgy yet humorous epic fantasy.
- For a guy who doesn't have a blog or a website because he's afraid that no one will show up, how satisfying is it to have the opportunity to interact with fans on sites like sffworld.com and asoiaf.westeros.org on an almost daily basis?
Oh, it’s an absolute delight, Pat. But then the response, at least on the two sites you mention, has been overwhelmingly positive. If they all hated me it would probably be considerably less fun. There’s something about being told you’re shit that never quite loses its sting.
As for my personal fears of rejection, I am finally biting the bullet, and will hopefully have a web-site up and running at http://www.joeabercrombie.com/ later this year, in good time for the American release of The Blade Itself. I may even do a bit of blogging myself. If there’s one problem with the internet, you see, it’s that there aren’t enough opinions out there . . .
- Authors often claim that the second volume of a trilogy is the most difficult one to write. Was that the case with BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED?
Not really. The story for the whole trilogy had been pretty much mapped out from the beginning, so I knew where I was trying to get to. The characters and the settings had been introduced in the first book, so I was looking forward to working with the pieces that were already in play, if you like. Not that it didn’t have its challenges, but in a way it was the easiest of the three to write – the setting up had been done, but the responsibility for resolving everything was so far in the future that it seemed as if it would never happen.
- It's obvious that you've tried and succeeded in mapping out a much more ambitious story arc in this second volume. Was that your intention all along, or did you realize that some plotlines had more potential than you initially believed?
I’ve pretty much followed the plans I had from the start, with some deviations as things suggested themselves. Certainly the intention was always that the scale should build, the action should intensify, the mysteries should begin to be exposed, the characters should meet and begin to interact. There’s a proper speed of development to a series, I think, and you need to pace yourself. You don’t start a meal with desert, now, do you?
- What's the lowdown on the advance praise garnered by BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED?
My Mum thought it was fucking brilliant.
Then there have been some tip-top reviews on the internet:
It all begins to look like an unstoppable wave of positivity. Reviews in the traditional print media will no doubt start to appear over the coming month, so fingers crossed.
But hey. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be so excited you might even wet your pants a little. What’s not to like?
- THE BLADE ITSELF will become available in the USA next fall. Have the foreign rights to the series been sold to many countries thus far?
The German edition was out in January, and French, Spanish, Russian and Czech will follow this year. I’m kind of looking forward to seeing what covers they put on it . . .
- What's the current progress report pertaining to LAST ARGUMENT OF KINGS? Any tentative publication date?
They’ve got it chalked up for the same time next year – March ’08. I’m just finishing it up now, and I think I can say with complete confidence that it’s the best book ever written.
- In BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED, you move the story forward with much more aplomb than in THE BLADE ITSELF, showing that you have matured as an author. Is it because you now have a firmer grasp on what you're trying to accomplish than you did when you set out to write your first novel?
You get better with practice, of course, especially if you’ve got a good editor to save you from your worst excesses. I’m extremely lucky to have the marvellous Gillian Redfearn in my corner at Gollancz, who always has something useful to contribute (free booze, in particular). But I don’t think the approach has changed hugely. It’s a trilogy, one story in three parts, and as I said above, I think it’s natural that the pace, and the scale, and the characters should develop as you go.
In the long run, ending big is a lot more important than starting big. After all, if you start the concert with all your biggest hits, you may find the room’s empty when you come out for the encore . . .
- When fantasy fans finally get their hands on BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED, you will be in the middle of writing the final volume of The First Law sequence. Which begs the question: What's next for Joe Abercrombie? Another novel/series set in the same universe, or something totally different?
At the moment it’s looking like some stand-alone books, set in the same world but with different characters and some shorter, more focused stories. I’m working on a treatment for the first one now, off and on. Let me only say this . . .
It’s about poison.
- Will you be touring to promote BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED?
I might do a signing or two, but nothing you could call a tour. It can be difficult getting people to turn out for authors an awful lot better known than me, and I’m not sure of the value of events that are only attended by you, your publicist, and a mildly embarrassed book shop manager.
- Do you believe that the author's picture will help market the hardback edition of BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED more aggressively!?! Were you uncomfortable with Gollancz's idea to utilize your sex-appeal to sell more books!?!
My wife took those pictures, and I can assure you that it’s all done with mirrors. In real life I am astonishingly ugly.
- Anything else you wish to share with your readers?
Only my ongoing joy that there are any.
Many thanks again for doing this! I wish you continued success with your writing career and best of luck with the imminent release of BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED.
Well, this is the one so many of you have been waiting for. . .:-)
Unless 2007 brings us either Robert Jordan's A Memory of Light or George R. R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons, this could be the Big Daddy of all giveaways this year! Thanks to the great folks at Transworld, I have five hardback copies of Steven Erikson's Reaper's Gale (Canada, USA, Europe) up for grabs!;-) Still no word whether the prizes will be autographed or not, so I'll keep you posted on this.
I only have about 80 pages to go, and let me tell you that this newest Malazan addition rocks! I'll reserve judgement until I'm done with the novel, but so far it's the best one since Memories of Ice! Go ahead the pre-order it! Expect my non-spoiler review later this week.
The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "REAPER." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.
Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.
Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.
While you're here, you might as well register to a couple of other ongoing competitions. Just scroll down and you'll find book giveaways for James Barclay's The Ascendants of Estorea, Kay Kenyon's Bright of the Sky, Steven Erikson's The Lees of Laughter's End, and Joel Shepherd's Breakaway. And if you go back a few weeks, you'll see that I still have signed copies of what could be the debut of the year, Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind, for you to win.
Thanks to Gollancz and James Barclay, I have a set of The Ascendants of Estorea, both volumes signed by the author, for you to win. I haven't read this series yet, but perusing the various message boards I found that fans have very good things to say about it.
I just thought I'd drop by and tell you what's coming up. I reckon it's a good way to prevent many people from asking me the same questions all the time!;-)
Well, I should be done with Steven Erikson's Reaper's Gale (Canada, USA, Europe) by next week, and so far it's excellent! I daresay you can pre-order this one! My current "commute" novel is Carrie Vaughn's third Kitty installment, Kitty Take a Holiday (Canada, USA, Europe). Like its predecessors, it is quite good.
My next "home" book will be Tad Williams' Shadowplay (Canada, USA, Europe). It should have been before Reaper's Gale in the rotation, but my review copy got lost in the mail. So it's coming up next.
Soon-to-be read novels include Joel Shepherd's Breakaway (Canada, USA, Europe), Ian McDonald's Brasyl (Canada, USA, Europe), Katherine Kurtz's Childe Morgan (Canada, USA, Europe), and Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch (Canada, USA, Europe). Scott Lynch's Red Seas Under Red Skies (Canada, USA, Europe) will trump any one of these books, provided I get a thrice-damned ARC soon!
You guys have been getting some pretty good ones since the beginning of 2007.
Five are currently in the works, with Katherine Kurtz, Greg Keyes, Peter F. Hamilton, Joe Abercrombie and Patrick Rothfuss.
Coming in April/May are interviews with Steven Erikson, Ian Cameron Esslemont, R. Scott Bakker, Jacqueline Carey and Scott Lynch.
There's always more, so stay tuned!;-)
Ah, your favorite section, right!?!
As you know by now, these things change from day to day, so more could be on the way (I have a few things cooking up as we speak!).
If you scroll down, you should see that there are a few ongoing contests: Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind (Canada, USA, Europe), Steven Erikson's The Lees of Laughter's End, L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s The Elysium Commission (Canada, USA, Europe), Joel Shepherd's Breakaway and Kay Kenyon's Bright of the Sky (Canada, USA, Europe). There's still time to register, that goes without saying!
Coming this weekend will be a giveaway for Steven Erikson's Reaper's Gale. In addition, in keeping with my promise to try to convert as many fantasy fans to the Malazan series as humanly possible, Transworld have accepted to supply a full set of paperbacks to introduce a new reader to this fantastic series. The publisher might supply more than one set, so I'm waiting to hear from them before making the announcement.
I've already mentioned this and it will happen, have no fear: There's going to be a contest for a signed copy of Tad Williams' Rite (Canada, USA, Europe).
There will be a James Barclay contest as well, but I'm waiting to hear from him and Gollancz to finalize the details.
Another Malazan offering will be Ian Cameron Esslemont's Night of Knives (Europe.) I will also have copies of Ian McDonald's Brasyl, probably both the US and UK editions.
A little later, you'll have the chance to win Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Justice (Canada, USA), as well as the much anticipated Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch, again probably both the US and UK editions).
There will be more, of course, but these book giveaways have been confirmed. Where else can you win more novels!?!
That's about it for now, people. As always, your suggestions and comments are welcome.