Quote of the Day

The truth is that the goal of existence is to kill you.

- IAN CAMERON ESSLEMONT, Orb, Sceptre, Throne ( Canada, USA, Europe).

Win a copy of Saladin Ahmed's THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON

I have a copy of Saladin Ahmed's fantasy debut, Throne of the Crescent Moon, up for grabs, compliments of the nice folks at Daw Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

One of the year's most anticipated fantasy debuts, from a finalist for the Nebula and Campbell Awards.

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, land of djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, Khalifs and killers, is at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms.

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat, just wants a quiet cup of tea. A fat old man who has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, he's more than ready to retire from his dangerous vocation. But when an old flame's family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter's path.

Adoulla's young assistant Raseed, a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety, is eager to deliver God's justice. But even as Raseed's sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.

Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the power of the Lion-Shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man's title. She lives only to avenge her father's death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father's killer. Until she meets Raseed.

When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince's brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time - and struggle against their own misgivings - to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "CRESCENT." 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.

Good luck to all the participants!

Musical Interlude

Last Monday, I was visiting the Mayan ruins in Tikal, Guatemala. It was sunny, sultry and humid in the jungle. Now I'm in Montreal, where it's cold (okay, not that cold considering this is the end of January. But still...) and we expect another 5 cm of snow tomorrow. This sucks!

So I need a little something that feels like summer to put a bit of sunshine and brighten my day. To all of you caught in winter, here's a little remix of an old tune singing the praise of St-Tropez on the French Riviera.

Ah, to be back in beautiful Belize, lying in a hammock and sipping on rum punch... =)

Alas, all good things must come to an end, or so they say...

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

After posting the Tad Williams update yesterday, I decided to have a look and it appears that quite a few SFF titles are still available on the cheap!

- You can download George R. R. Martin's In the House of the Worm for 3.19$ here.

- You can download Brandon Sanderson's Infinity Blade: Awakening for 2.99$ here.

- You can download John Scalzi's Questions for a Soldier for 0.99$ here.

- You can download The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 1, edited by Jonathan Strahan for 2.99$ here.

- You can download John Scalzi's An Election for 0.99$ here.

- You can download Terry Brooks' Imaginary Friends for 2.99$ here.

- You can download C. S. Friedman's new novella, Dominion, for 2.99$ here.

- You can download Brent Weeks' Perfect Shadow for 2.99$ here.

- You can download Bradley P. Beaulieu and Stephen Gaskell's Strata for 0.99$ here.

- You can download Robin Hobb's Dragon Keeper for 1.99$ here.

- You can download a combo of James S. A. Corey's excellent Leviathan Wakes and Daniel Abraham's The Dragon's Path for 2.99$ here!

- You can download Paolo Bacigalupi's The Alchemist for 2.99$ here.

- You can download Tobias S. Buckell's The Executioness for 2.99$ here.

- Cherie Priest's Clementine can be downloaded for 4.99$ here.

- The excellent Bright of the Sky by Kay Kenyon for free available here.

- Sasha by Joel Shepherd for free available here.

- The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks for 2.99$ available here.

- Child of Fire by Harry Connolly for 0.99$ available here.

- David Chandler's Den of Thieves, is available for 0.99$ here.

- Wild Cards I edited by GRRM for 2.99$ is available here.

Game of Thrones Season 2 "Shadow" Teaser

Roll on, April 1st!!! =)

I know, I know. . . :/

A bigot, a racist, a sexist, a religious fucktard, AND a bad reviewer???

I wasn't planning to post about this, but with all the PMs and emails I received since Friday, it looks as though I must. Don't expect a formal rebuttal from me, however. It would be pointless and do nothing but start a flame-war.

Yes, as so many of you have pointed out, too often sarcasm, cynicism, irony, and a dark sense of humor are lost on idiots. This guys drags me through shit, paints a vile picture of the sort of person he thinks I am, while he obviously ain't smart enough to realize that a lot of his accusations are based on tongue-in-cheek observations I've made over the years. I linked this on my Facebook page when author Mark Lawrence pointed it out to me on Friday morning. Interestingly enough, everyone who knows me personally and who has read it couldn't believe their eyes.

Yes, I am aware that he has taken portions of my travel blogs, the chunks of text that work for him and used them out of context, overlooking the rest. Yes, I know that this is grounds for a lawsuit. I'm a Law grad, remember?

Funny, but most of my friends and family members have all read my travel blogs over the years, and never has anyone perceived anything that could be construed as racist or sexist. Not only that, but taken as a whole, my Southeast-Asian posts are decidedly positive (take away the fact that I was rushed to the hospital in Phuket), and I've loved my time in Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapour. I've been pimping this destination to anyone who'll listen to me ever since, actually.

Yes, most of you have pointed out that he sort of implies that I condone prostitution and the sex industry, while I actively condemn it everywhere I go. Heck, every single post I've written regarding Thailand contains a few paragraphs with me bitching about them.

Yes, as everyone made quite clear, it's obvious this guy has never set foot in Thailand. Had he even a little traveling experience, he would sing another tune, sure. There's a proverb that says: Culture is like strawberry jam. The less you have, the more you spread it. And acrackedmoon sure knows how to spread it. . . Had he spent even a single day in Bangkok, he would know just how ignorant his post make him sound. It's no surprise that I've never met anyone who doesn't agree with me about the proliferation of prostitutes, bar girls, massage parlors, etc. Any man who travels through Thailand can't help but get annoyed by this. Unless they are indeed there for the sex tourism. He mentions that the country has a ton of universities (there were a little over 30 public universities when I was there in 2010), but fails to mention the fact that the average daily wages were less then US6$ at that time. Yes, these girls truly have great prospects, don't they? Yes, it's a bit odd that my personal observations are being judged by someone who, in all likelihood, has never been abroad and likely rarely leaves his parents' basement. . . I've only been to 46 countries, so what do I know?

Yes, I know, he decided to use a few words from the Kuala Lumpur post to damn me, when the entire paragraph contradicts what he is trying to convey. The whole paragraph reads like this:

Although a Muslim regime, Malaysia has always had a "live and let live" attitude. With a multi-ethnic population that gets along well, there is basically no clash of cultures here. No one quite knows how the Malay people make it work, but in KL it's something to see. Kind of gives you hope in mankind. . . Almost. . . Sadly, it's not the same everywhere.:-(

Acrackedmoon's post is so heinous and full of ignorance as to make it ridiculous. I mean, hate me as a reviewer and hate Pat's Fantasy Hotlist, fine. This guy sure does, no question! What I don't understand is where those personal attacks, of a shocking virulence, come from??? I didn't know my blog and myself could generate so much vitriol. . .

Yes, I know he would have liked for me to get knifed. But Robert Stanek said it first, so no brownie points for acrackedmoon for this.

Yes, I know that Larry has helped disseminate this personal attack against me. Funny that he didn't take the time to read the related posts and see that the better part of acrackedmoon's post is stuff taken out of context. Considering that Larry can read like 4 novels in a day, he could probably have read all my Southeast-Asian posts in about 5.2 seconds. Many of you thought that Larry and I were friends. So did I. . .

Another proof of this guy's ignorance: He takes exception that I was upset anime store staffs didn't know about Makoto Shinkai and Hayao Miyazaki. That would be like entering Forbidden Planet and not raise an eyebrow if they had never heard of Neil Gaiman and George R. R. Martin. Are you kidding me?

Yes, I like beautiful girls. Scratch that: I love them! ;-) Wasn't against the law the last time I checked. . .

My promoting the Girls of Geek calendar was +++++gross??? Since 2007, I've never concealed the fact that my mom is a breast cancer survivor. And since then, I've made a lot of efforts to raise awareness and support the cause. And since my cousin died of cancer in the summer of 2010 at the young age of 41, I've been trying to do even more. So supporting such a worthy cause is gross? WTF? Having sexy geek girls wanting to do something special to help raise funds for breast cancer research is bad? Maybe acrackedmoon could elaborate on this. He looks a bit misogynist, or at the very least extremely insecure where women are concerned. . .

In any event, yes I'm aware of all this. So please let it go. From a blog titled Requires Only That You Hate, whose motto is "Your daily dose of hatred and geekrage," would you expect anything less than such an underhanded attack? I'm at a loss as to exactly how I got under this guy's skin in such a way that made him write something so heinous, so overflowing with vitriol. But I'm not going to lose any sleep on it.

It's evident this guy is begging for attention, but I'm not going to link to his post to send traffic his way. Here's the post in its entirety:

Let me introduce you to Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist.

But scratch that. If you are an SF/F fan–which you probably are, reading this blog–you likely have heard of him before. Go over there and you’ll see endless splash banners advertising books or tie-in fiction. He’s basically a genre PR bot: all his content is little more than promotional material on top of promotional material, almost as though he is paid by publishing houses to fellate the latest-and-greatest grimdark neckbeard icon, which he might well be. Who knows.

And if you’ve read him for any length of time, you will probably have noticed that he’s a raging douche. I don’t just mean “douche” in a mild, non-specific way, oh no. We are talking about a grade-A sexist, racist fuckwad. The kind that should be put in a meat-grinder: there’d be about twenty people at the ready, vying to press the GRIND GRIND GRIND button. We’d press it until our fingers are raw and Pat nothing more than a memory of fat white meat.

He visited Thailand this one time: Bangkok: Sultry heat, temples, pollution, never-ending noise, and prostitutes. Off to a good start, and we aren’t even out of the subject line.

The upside: I have hundreds of girls after me. The downside: They’re all prostitutes! I mean, even though I knew what to expect, this goes beyond anything I could ever imagine. . .:\

I am amused that this is probably the only time in his life “hundreds of girls” would be after him in any fashion.

I got very close to punching one of them last night, but held off at the last second. You never know if the guy knows a bit of Thai boxing. And it would have done little to help me make my point if I had found myself flat on my back after a vicious kick I never saw coming, right?

I wish he had tried to punch someone and ended up knifed and bleeding from his guts in a dark corner somewhere. And nobody’d have given a shit, because this man’s douchiness is so evident it radiates off him in waves.

It’s like the jeans and T-shirt test for a girl. You know how any girl can look fantastic in a little black cocktail dress. I’ve always said that the true test is always to see her in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. If she looks good in those, she’ll look good in anything!=)

Annnnd we’re up to a sexist analogy!

To add insult to injury, I was forced to don long pants in order to visit Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddah. The temple compound is absolutely gorgeous, but to force people to wear shoes and long pants in that kind of heat should be illegal!

Oh, no, not being expected to respect the local traditions! He is Whitey, he is Mighty, and he should be exempt from all rules and regulations!

It’s kind of odd that some aspects of Bangkok could put any Western city to shame, and all the while show you sides straight out of a Third World country when you turn around and face the other way

Fuck you, you smug little shit.

It’s kind of sad to see fat and old Western men walking hand in hand with pretty young Thai girls. They’re absolutely everywhere and not likely to go away. There are a couple of universities here, so hopefully there is a brighter future for many Thai young women.

Oh my god what the fuck. Thailand has tons of universities; Bangkok certainly has more than two and what the fuck is this patronizing bullshit.

Too bad. . . Thai girls have different facial traits than other Asian women. I can see the appeal, certainly. They are beautiful, as well as taller and more shapely than the more petite Asian girls from Japan, Korea, etc. So there will never be any shortage of horny old farts looking for cheap fucks with them. But Christ, when you can’t cross a street corner without having a group of them waving and calling out at you, well that’s a major problem. And the worst thing is that the Thai government doesn’t seem to have much of a problem with the situation. I guess that sex tourism brings in too much money.


God, honkies.

Next: Kuala Lumpur: Mixed Feelings

Poor Thai people. . . That’s the image they have of the West: Dirty old men there for the sex tourism and fucking hippies.

And you, fuckface.

We always seem to think that Asian people are very nice, polite, and reserved, so it’s nice to see them bitch about one another. Haven’t seen this in Thailand, but Malays have no qualms about it. We always see it in the West, with people bitching about Americans, Brits, French, etc. So I couldn’t help laughing when the staff at the hostel would shake their heads and mutter things like “Damned Chinese” or something like that.

Lookie! A white person celebrating Asian-vs-Asian prejudice. Awesome.

Although a Muslim regime

Oh my god what the fuck.

And anime fans, you won’t believe this. I stopped at no less than four anime stores, and NO ONE had ever heard of Makoto Shinkai (still looking for 5 cm per Second and The Place Promised in Our Early Days)!!! Are you kidding me??? I’m in Asia and no one knows shit??? Even worst, only one person knew Hayao Miyazaki!!! Who’s hiring these guys???


Next, some run-of-the-mill sexism: The Privilege of the Sword. Now I think Ellen Kushner’s writing–what I’ve read of it, being Swordpoint–is shit, boring, and about as clever as cat litter, but…

I am acutely aware that some will grill me for saying this, but Ellen Kushner’s The Privilege of the Sword is, in my humble opinion (which doesn’t count for much, as some will surely point out!), fantasy chick lit.

Chick lit it really isn’t. I mean does he just think anything with a woman on the cover, written by a woman, is…

I’m all for strong and genuine female protagonists, yet this is one of the “girliest” novels I’ve ever read.


I refer to this book as fantasy chick lit because it contains several elements that are associated with “chick lit.” There’s a very “girly” approach to the narrative. It focuses on undying/forbidden love, corny romance, flowers, jewelry, gowns, fabrics, and an inordinate amount of emo moments. For crying out loud, the characters shed more tears in this book than bridesmaids at a wedding! There is only so much crying one can take, after all. In addition, the emo male characters are not authentic.

No comment needed. Cooooooties.

Remember the Elizabeth Moon blow-up? As in, Moon was an Islamophobe and got her con invite rescinded? Well Pat has something to say about that too! Charmingly titled “Islam and Soft-Left Intellectuals: 1 Free Speech: 0.”

WTF??? It’s nice to see that in this soft-Left Obama era, democratic values such as free speech remain the cornerstone of our society. . .

This, of course, comes in response to Elizabeth Moon’s post on Islam. I also picked up the story last month in this post.

Like a fucking caricature, except dead serious. He thinks, of course, that the only people who could possibly take offense at Moon’s xenophobic fuckwaddery can only be “ultra-soft leftists.” Really, just do a search on his blog for “Islam” in general.

Last but not least: “Girls of Geek” calendar. +++++gross.

Dude also thinks Christwire is for real, citing an article by one “Susan B. Xenu” as evidence of everything wrong with America’s xtian fundies. :’)

Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist is a very popular genre blog. What does that say about the SF/F genre? Exactly.

We were talking about starting up a kickstarter project for that Pat-specific meatgrinder, by the way. Who wants to chip in?

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist isn't everyone's cup of tea. And that's as it should be. I don't consider myself a very talented or insightful reviewer. Never have, never will. Pat's Fantasy Hotlist is what it is. Nothing more, nothing less.

Acrackedmoon asks: Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist is a very popular genre blog. What does that say about the SF/F genre? Exactly.

Maybe that a majority of the online SFF community likes a friendly, more casual approach to reviewing? Maybe they like to read the posts of a fan who doesn't take himself too seriously? Your guess is as good as mine. . .

So case closed, as far as I'm concerned. To acrackedmoon, I have no idea where all that pent-up anger is coming from. The passionate hatred you have for me leaves me baffled. Masturbation might help you release some of that geek rage, you know. I could even supply my complimentary copy of the Girls of Geek 2012 calendar for you to focus on. . . It's not true it will make you deaf. . .

Be forewarned I will monitor the comment section.

Peace. . .

Only a few days left to take advantage of the Tad Williams ebook promotion

Just to remind you that you have until January 31st to download Tad Williams' latest collection of short fiction, A Stark and Wormy Knight, for only 4.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

A fat new collection by best-selling fantasy and science fiction author Tad Williams, containing new material original to this book.

Tad Williams is an acknowledged master of the multi-volume epic. Through such popular series as Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn and Otherland, he has acquired a huge and devoted body of readers who eagerly await each new publication. A Stark and Wormy Knight offers those readers something both special and surprising: a virtuoso demonstration of Williams's mastery of a variety of shorter forms.

The range of tone, theme, style, and content reflected in this generous volume is nothing short of amazing. The title story is a tale within a tale of dragons and knights and is notable for its wit and verbal inventiveness. "The Storm Door" uses The Tibetan Book of the Dead to forge a singular new approach to the traditional zombie story. "The Terrible Conflagration at the Quiller's Mint" offers a brief, independent glimpse into the background of Williams's Shadowmarch series. "Ants" provides an ironic account of what can happen when a marriage goes irrevocably wrong.

Two of the longer entries show Williams working, with great facility, within the fictional creations of other writers. "The Thursday Men" is a hugely entertaining foray into the world of Mike Mignolla's Hellboy comics. The wonderfully titled "The Lamentably Comical Tragedy (or the Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Lixal Laqavee" is both a first-rate fantasy and a deeply felt homage to Jack Vance's immortal Dying Earth. Two other pieces offer rare and hard-to-find glimpses into other facets of Williams's talent. "Bad Guy Factory" is the script for a proposed series of DC Comics that never came to fruition. "Black Sunshine" is the immensely readable screenplay for a movie that remains, at least for the moment, unproduced. One can only hope.

These and other stories and novellas comprise a stellar collection that really does contain something for everyone. For longtime Williams readers, and for anyone with a taste for literate imaginative fiction, A Stark and Wormy Knight is a welcome, and indispensable, volume

(Please note: Subterranean Books will be publishing hardback and paperback editions Summer 2012.)

And although the promotion was supposed to end on December 31st, 2011, you can still download Tad Williams' Caliban's Hour for 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Caliban's Hour is a novella-length (40,000 words) Shakespearian fantasy, and the inspiration for it came from a conversation between Tad Williams and his wife Deborah Beale, where they reimagined The Tempest in the light of colonialism, and saw the suffering of the native Caliban at the heart of it. The story recounts all of Caliban's young life as the wizard Prospero and his child Miranda, shipwrecked on the island, take it all for themselves.

Scott Lynch update

There is a new update concerning Scott Lynch's eagerly awaited The Republic of Thieves (Canada, USA, Europe) from The Little Red Reviewer:

Scott did a reading from Republic of Thieves. it WILL be hitting bookstore shelves this year, possibly in June. He is contracted for 5 books, and if the publishers decide they like him, he will get 2 more books (trust me, they like him). Book 3 is where things start to ramp up, with the series moving towards some type of large war.

I can’t give you any RoT spoilers, because he didn’t. He described RoT as being the “awkward teenage years” of the Gentlemen Bastards. The portion he read involved Locke and Jean, and Sabetha and the Sanza twins,and teaser: there was a bedroom scene. Locke is obviously in love with Sabetha, but hasn’t figured out how to tell her, so he basically lets her beat the crap out him whenever she wants. There was much in the way of awkward teenagedness, beautiful swear words, and giggleworthy moments. Scott even got to use his LOUD voice. Twas truly lovely

Follow this link to read the full con report.


Most of you are well aware of where I stand when it comes to Young Adults works. There's nothing wrong with them, but they usually don't appeal to me much. Hence, you can understand my disappointment when, after reading the incredible The Dervish House, I discovered that Ian McDonald was now working on a YA novel. River of Gods, Brasyl, and The Dervish House figure among the best science fiction books I've read since creating the Hotlist, so I was a bit crestfallen by the idea that his next work would be aimed at a younger audience.

And yet, as is the case with Neil Gaiman, regardless of the audience he's writing for, Ian McDonald remains Ian McDonald. Though the plot may not show as much depth and the storylines may not be as multilayered and convoluted, I should have known that McDonald couldn't possibly dumb the tale down as to make it a travesty or a parody of his previous science fiction works. So no, it's not the mind-blowing doorstopper scifi yarn that River of Gods was. Still, Planesrunner is an intelligent, entertaining, and fast-paced book that should satisfy McDonald's fans, both old and new!

Here's the blurb:

There is not one you. There are many yous. There is not one world. There are many worlds. Ours is one among billions of parallel earths.

When Everett Singh’s scientist father is kidnapped from the streets of London, he leaves young Everett a mysterious app on his computer. Suddenly, this teenager has become the owner of the most valuable object in the multiverse—the Infundibulum—the map of all the parallel earths, and there are dark forces in the Ten Known Worlds who will stop at nothing to get it. They’ve got power, authority, the might of ten planets—some of them more technologically advanced than our Earth—at their fingertips. He’s got wits, intelligence, and a knack for Indian cooking.

To keep the Infundibulum safe, Everett must trick his way through the Heisenberg Gate that his dad helped build and go on the run in a parallel Earth. But to rescue his dad from Charlotte Villiers and the sinister Order, this Planesrunner’s going to need friends. Friends like Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth, her adopted daughter, Sen, and the crew of the airship Everness.

Can they rescue Everett’s father and get the Infundibulum to safety? The game is afoot!

The multiverse theory is an old trope of the science fiction genre. Parallel universes, parallel Earths; this is nothing new. Yet McDonald approaches it in a way that makes it feel fresh. I loved the idea of the Plenitude of Known Worlds and the Heisenberg Gate. The author keeps his cards pretty close to his chest in this opening volume, but there are a few tantalizing revelations which makes you want to learn a lot more about those other realities. And many of those secrets hint at the fact that this series might resound with much more depth than meets the eye. Only time will tell. . .

The characterization is particularly well-done. McDonald came up with an endearing, if disparate, cast of protagonists for Planesrunner. Although it is Everett Singh's tale from beginning to end, he shares the spotlight with a compelling group of men and women, chief among them the crew of the airship Everness. Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth, the enigmatic Sen, the God-fearing Mr.Sharkey, and the mysterious and fearsome Charlotte Villiers all add another dimension to the story. The author also created a new language for the Airish community, and there is a Palari dictionary at the end of the book.

The pace is fast and crisp, making Planesrunner a page-turner. I went through the entire novel in only two sittings. True, I was lying in a hammock about forty feet from the Caribbean Sea in Caye Caulker, Belize, sipping on rum punch as I read. It was the perfect setting to lose track of time and get lost in a novel, I know. But I would never have been able to finish this one so fast if the story had not captured my imagination from the start. Weighing in at only 274 pages in hardcover, Planesrunner is rather short. Having said that, I never felt short-changed and the tale ends exactly at the right time. A longer book would simply have meant info dumps and filler material. Hence, Planesrunner is as long as it needs to be. Not too fond of cliffhanger endings, but there was no way to get around that with this one.

All in all, Planesrunner is an interesting introduction to a series that promises to be fun and entertaining, featuring an engaging cast of characters, and may well turn out to be more complex than what one could expect from a YA work. I'm curious to see where Ian McDonald will take the story in the second installment.

The final verdict: 7.75/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

If 2012's Oscar-nominated movie posters told the truth???

This post from Theshiznit.co.uk is hilarious!

Check it our here!

A bit of humor. . .

Even vampires now hate Twilight!!!

Win a copy of Deborah Harkness' A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Penguin Books, I have a copy of the paperback edition of Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "DISCOVERY." 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.

Good luck to all the participants!

Calling on all scifi geeks and aficionados!

I took this picture this afternoon. . .

The first person who can tell me which scene from which movie features this panoramic vista, as well as where this photo was taken on our planet, gets a free book!

The comments are time-stamped, so it will be easy to monitor this. When you leave your comment, please select "Name" and enter your name if you don't have a Google account. Otherwise, I won't be able to track you down. . .

The first part of the question is easy. The second part makes for a good trivia question. . .

Musical Interlude

A classic! ;-)

Fort Freak

I know I was late for this party, but I have come to be a Wild Cards fan over the last couple of years. I was looking forward to this newest mosaic novel, especially since this one featured a new line-up of authors in addition to the regular contributors.

With the way the latest triad ended, I was curious to see where George R. R. Martin and company would take this one. I was even more curious when I learned that it would focus on Manhattan's Fifth Precinct, better known as Fort Freak. This had potential, no doubt about it.

Here's the blurb:

In 1946, an alien virus that rewrites human DNA was accidentally unleashed in the skies over New York City. It killed ninety percent of those it infected. Nine percent survived, mutated into tragically deformed creatures. And one percent gained superpowers. The Wild Cards shared-universe series, created and edited by New York Times #1 bestseller George R. R. Martin (called “the American Tolkien” by Time), is the tale of the history of the world since then—and of the heroes among the one percent.

Now, in the latest Wild Cards mosaic novel, we get to know the hardbitten world of Manhattan’s Fifth Precinct—or “Fort Freak,” as cops and malefactors alike call the cop-shop where every other desk sergeant, detective, and patrol officer is more than human.

Featuring original work by writers such as Cherie Priest, author of the bestselling Boneshaker; Paul Cornell, Hugo–nominated comic book and Doctor Who writer; David Anthony Durham, winner of 2009’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer; and many others, Fort Freak is one of the strongest offerings yet in the ongoing Wild Cards project

Unlike the last trilogy, which was all over the place, the action in Fort Freak pretty much occurs in Jokertown and the rest of NYC. It's a more self-contained tale as well, making it an excellent jumping point for newbies who wish to experience the Wild Cards universe for the first time.

In order for a mosaic novel to work on all levels, the team of writers needs to mesh well, and that's the case with this bunch of old and new hands. Cherie Priest is a terrific addition to the Wild Cards team. Indeed, it feels as though she's been doing this from the start. Her part of the tale, "The Rat Race," connects everything else together and is one of the most interesting storylines of the book. Melinda M. Snodgrass' "The Rook" gets the book moving forward and I'm disappointed that it's her only contribution to this novel. I also enjoyed David Anthony Durham's contribution, which is unlike what he normally writes.

Fort Freak is basically a detective story, as Detective-Investigator Leo Storgman tackles the old "Rathole" case from the late 70s one last time before retiring. As such, knowledge of previous Wild Cards volumes is not necessary to fully enjoy this one. Which is why I say that Fort Freak is the perfect opportunity for curious readers unfamiliar with the series to give it a try.

The pace is decidedly uneven, however. I think that Fort Freak features way too many plotlines. A lot more than were necessary, which at times can be off-putting. And even if each storyline adds a little more depth to the "Rathole" case, I get the feeling that we could have done without a few of them without being detrimental to the overall plot. I think that had the novel been fifty or seventy-five pages less, it would have worked much better on virtually every single level. For example, the "Sanctuary" storyline by Mary Anne Mohanraj was entertaining, but didn't bring anything valuable to the plot. Other than those MTV-esque sex scenes the new Wild Cards book seem to be fond of.

All in all, Fort Freak is a good read and a welcome addition to the Wild Cards universe. Yet letting readers witness events unfold through too many POV narratives takes something away from the overall reading experience. In the end, it remains a fun and compelling read, no question about it. But it would have worked better with a lesser number of contributions, as some of them take the reader away from the case itself and prove to be little more than distractions.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Warner Bros. acquired the rights to Tad Williams' Otherland series

This from variety.com:

Warner Bros. is heading to "Otherland," acquiring feature rights to Tad Williams' sci-fi book series and setting it up with Dan Lin to produce.

Studio has tapped John Scott III to script the film, based on the four books published by DAW-Penguin USA between 1996 and 2001 as "City of Golden Shadow," "River of Blue Fire," "Mountain of Black Glass" and "Sea of Silver Light."

Story for the adaptation is set 100 years in the future and follows a group of unexpected heroes who must escape an assassin and make their way through epic digital worlds to unravel a conspiracy that threatens to destroy humanity.

Seanne Winslow Wehrenfennig at Lin Pictures will serve as co-producer and oversee for Lin Pictures.

Lin's a producer on "Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows" and is in post-production on period drama "Gangster Squad," starring Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, and Sean Penn, directed by Ruben Fleischer. He's also producing "Lego: the Piece of Resistance," written and directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord, with Warners planning a 2014 release.

Scott's zombie script "Maggie" made the top 10 of the 2011 Black List and was the top title of the 2011 Blood List, the top 13 most-liked unproduced screenplays in the horror, thriller, sci-fi, fantasy, and dark comedy/drama genres. "Maggie" is in pre-production with Henry Hobson directing, and Pierre-Ange Le Pogam, Matt Baer, and Trevor Kaufman producing.

Scott is also adapting Isaac Asivmov's "Caves of Steel" for Fox, also with Hobson attached to direct.

WME represents the "Otherland" book rights. Scott is repped by CAA and managed by Trevor Kaufman.

Quote of the Day

There is no situation in life that cannot be made worse by the presence of police.

- IAN MCDONALD, Planesrunner (Canada, USA, Europe).

The Lazy Jedi

Master Dave needs a little help from the Force to start his day. . .

Final wraparound cover for Bradley P. Beaulieu's THE STRAITS OF GALAHESH

Here's the final wraparound cover for Bradley P. Beaulieu's upcoming The Straits of Galahesh. The cover art is by Todd Lockwood. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Click on the image for an enlarged version of the cover.

Here's the blurb:

West of the Grand Duchy of Anuskaya lies the Empire of Yrstanla, the Motherland. The Empire has lived at peace with Anuskaya for generations, but with political turmoil brewing and the wasting disease still rampant, opportunists from the mainland have begun to set their sights on the Grand Duchy, seeking to expand their empire. Five years have passed since Prince Nikandr, heir to the scepter of Khalakovo, was tasked with finding Nasim, the child prodigy behind a deadly summoning that led to a grand clash between the armies of man and elder elemental spirits. Today, that boy has grown into a young man driven to understand his past - and the darkness from which Nikandr awakened him. Nikandr's lover, Atiana, has become a Matra, casting her spirit forth to explore, influence, and protect the Grand Duchy. But when the Al-Aqim, long thought lost to the past, return to the islands and threaten to bring about indaraqiram - a change that means certain destruction for both the Landed and the Landless - bitter enemies must become allies and stand against their horrific plans. From Bradley P. Beaulieu, author of the critically acclaimed debut novel The Winds of Khalakovo, comes Book Two of The Lays of Anuskaya, The Straits of Galahesh.

Death Masks

The Dresden Files book sequence has become one of the most popular series in the speculative fiction genre, its last few installments topping the New York Times bestseller list. At first, the series was a bit formulaic and episodic in format. Nevertheless, for all that the misadventures of Harry Dresden made for entertaining and fun-filled reads. With Summer Knight, Butcher elevated his game, bringing the Dresden Files to a higher level and setting the stage for a lot of fireworks to come!

And with Death Masks, the author raises the bar even higher. Regardless of its immense popularity, a lot of speculative fiction fans look down on the urban fantasy subgenre. But Jim Butcher demonstrates that urban fantasy can be as good and multilayered as any other subgenre.

Here's the blurb:

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only practicing professional wizard, should be happy that business is pretty good for a change. But now he’s getting more than he bargained for.

A duel with the Red Court of Vampires’ champion, who must kill Harry to end the war between vampires and wizards…

Professional hit men using Harry for target practice…

The missing Shroud of Turin…

A handless and headless corpse the Chicago police need identified…

Not to mention the return of Harry’s ex-girlfriend Susan, who’s still struggling with her semivampiric nature. And who seems to have a new man in her life.

Some days, it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed. No matter how much you’re charging

As always, and it's one of the highlights of the series, Death Masks features the first-person narrative of the endearing, if frequently inept, wizard Harry Dresden. More than ever in this book, Harry's heart heart is in the right place, and his flawed nature makes him one of the most likeable SFF characters out there. Doubtless, the novels wouldn't be as entertaining if we didn't witness events through Harry Dresden's eyes.

The supporting cast once again adds another dimension to this tale. The return of Susan Rodriguez was more than a little interesting. The three Knights of the Cross, Michael Carpenter, Shiro, and Sanya, played an important role throughout the book. Ortega, the Archive, Kincaid, Nicodemus, and Gentleman Marcone all bring something to this story.

In Summer Knight, the introduction of new concepts, he addition of new characters and developments hinted at the fact that this was a series that resounded with a lot more depth than met the eye. Well, Death Masks more than confirms it. Not only does the novel builds on aspects introduced in the first four volumes, but it also expends on several others. I was fascinated by everything that had to do with the Denarians and the Fellowship of St. Giles.

This fifth volume is another fast-paced urban fantasy offering. We see evidence of a bigger, more complex, and more ambitious overall story arc. Which bodes well for future installments!

Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files is fast becoming one of my favorite series on the market today. Urban fantasy it may be, yet it is as good and convoluted as can be!

The final verdict: 8.25/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Daw contest winner!

Thanks to the nice folks at Daw Books, our lucky winner will receive a great bundle of books! The prize pack includes:

- Legacy of Kings by C. S. Friedman
- The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
- The Diviner by Melanie Rawn
- Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
- Spellcast by Barbara Ashford
- Magebane by Lee Arthur Chane

The winner is:

- Ryan Joyce, from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Many thanks to all the participants!

No Pants Subway Ride 2012

This is the kind of fun shit they should do in Montreal. But for some reason, they don't.

Granted, if it's -30°C, you don't want to bare your legs outside. But God knows it's hot enough in the métro to do so. . .

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Just learned that you can download Paolo Bacigalupi's excellent The Windup Girl for 6.99$ here. Again, it may not be as cheap as some of the recent deals I've posted, but it is still 53% off the regular ebook price.

Here's the blurb:

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko...

Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism's genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? In The Windup Girl, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi returns to the world of "The Calorie Man" ( Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winner, Hugo Award nominee, 2006) and "Yellow Card Man" (Hugo Award nominee, 2007) in order to address these poignant questions

Quote of the Day

The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.


Scott Lynch Update

This from the Gollancz Blog regarding Scott Lynch's eagerly anticipated The Republic of Thieves (Canada, USA, Europe):

Well, the months have rolled around faster than anyone could quite credit and we find ourselves in 2012 and still without that final confirmed delivery of the completed draft of Scott Lynch’s The Republic of Thieves. Sadly those who expressed their doubts have been proved right and we’re now forced to move the likely date for Scott’s publication into the Autumn of this year.

Scott is still facing up to his issues and we’re still having to face up to the wait for his book. I know which I’d rather be dealing with.

So, we send our apologies to you and our very best wishes to Scott. Thank you, on his behalf, for bearing with us. And in the meantime, of course, (and to take some of the pressure of Scott) there are plenty of other wonderful books to be reading until The Republic of Thieves does make its appearance

Transworld contest winner!

Our winner will receive a cool set of books, compliments of the folks at Transworld. Their prize pack includes:

- Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley
- The Watchers by Jon Steele
- Snuff by Terry Pratchett
- The Crippled God by Steven Erikson
- The Scar Crow Men by Mark Chadbourn
- Orb, Sceptre, Throne by Ian Cameron Esslemont

The winner is:

- Baptiste Csernel, from Paris, France

Many thanks to all the participants!

C.S. Friedman's DOMINION is now available!

You can now download C. S. Friedman's new novella featuring the memorable Gerald Tarrant, Dominion, for 2.99$ here!

Here's the blurb:

Four hundred years after mankind's arrival on Erna, the undead sorcerer Gerald Tarrant travels north in search of a legend. For it is rumored there is a forest where the fae has become so powerful that it devours all who enter it, and he means to test its power.

This prequel to C. S. Friedman's bestselling Coldfire Trilogy (Black Sun Rising, When True Night Falls, Crown of Shadows) offers fans of the series a hint of Tarrant's secret history, while new readers will enjoy a chilling introduction to one of High Fantasy's most fascinating -- and deadly --worlds

Throne of the Crescent Moon

As a finalist for both the Nebula and the Campbell awards for his short fiction, Saladin Ahmed's fantasy debut, Throne of the Crescent Moon, is doubtless one of the most eagerly awaited SFF debuts of 2012. Billed as a fantasy adventure with all the magic of The Arabian Nights, Ahmed's debut is just that.

Throne of the Crescent Moon is definitely a throwback book, reminiscent of sword & sorcery novels that were so popular during 80s. A bit like Blake Charlton's Spellwright, the book is an homage to novels from that era. It is the sort of tale that takes us back in time; to a time when authors such as David Eddings, Raymond E. Feist, and Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman dominated the New York Times bestseller list with their popular series. And given some of these writers' popularity today, it appears that there could well be a big market for novels such as Throne of the Crescent Moon.

Here's the blurb:

One of the year's most anticipated fantasy debuts, from a finalist for the Nebula and Campbell Awards.

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, land of djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, Khalifs and killers, is at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms.

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat, just wants a quiet cup of tea. A fat old man who has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, he's more than ready to retire from his dangerous vocation. But when an old flame's family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter's path.

Adoulla's young assistant Raseed, a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety, is eager to deliver God's justice. But even as Raseed's sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.

Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the power of the Lion-Shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man's title. She lives only to avenge her father's death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father's killer. Until she meets Raseed.

When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince's brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time - and struggle against their own misgivings - to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin

As a throwback book, Throne of the Crescent Moon embraces a lot of the traditional tropes of the sword and sorcery subgenre. Which, truth be told, will either please or put off readers. Fans of the "New Grit" movement and the school of hard knocks established by George R. R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, and Richard Morgan, among others, might have a hard time getting into this "lighter" offering. In Ahmed's debut, the heroes are good, the villains are evil. Shades of gray are few and far between, as is habitually the case with sword and sorcery tales. The forces of good always beat the odds and manage to come out on top, with secret knowledge or power falling into their lap in the nick of time. The whole Good vs Evil shebang, once more. To his credit, Saladin Ahmed has a few surprises in store for his readers. But nevertheless, Throne of the Crescent Moon has a very traditional feel to it. Which is not inherently a negative thing, mind you, provided that readers are prepared to read such a work. On the other hand, readers who prefer subversion of these same tropes and clichés, and love authors known to do just that might have a hard time getting into this novel. Personally, though you are well aware that I much prefer grittier SFF books and series, as a child of the 80s I mostly enjoyed this homage to the works which made me fall in love with the genre. Indeed, it sort of made me feel like a teenager again.

The worldbuilding is reminiscent of The Arabian Nights, no question about it. Unfortunately, we only get a few glimpses of Ahmed's universe. I'm probably a victim of my own expectations, but I was looking forward to much more depth in that department. With the plot occurring in a pseudo-Islamic world and with Saladin Ahmed himself a Muslim, I was expecting more insight and depth regarding the religion, the traditions, and the customs of the various races and societies. The vast majority of SFF authors are Christians, and thus their depictions of Islam or pseudo-variations of that religion are tainted by their own religious and spiritual beliefs. Hence, I was hoping that the author would delve a bit deeper and offer us something a bit different, something a bit more genuine in that regard. Mind you, my expections stemmed from the fact that I thought that Throne of the Crescent Moon would be an epic fantasy novel and not a sword and sorcery offering. Depth habitually gives way to action and adventure in sword and sorcery. In addition, from a marketing standpoint, publishing an Islamic fantasy novel in the USA may not be the key to achieving commercial success at the moment. Still, it will be interesting to see and discover more of the world and its people as the story progresses in the upcoming sequels.

Ahmed's evocative prose creates a colorful imagery. Sights, smells, sounds; the author makes the scenes come alive as you read along.

Often, what truly makes a fantasy debut stand out is the imaginative magic system it features. Interestingly enough, Ahmed went down the classical path for his own, coming up with something straight out of AD&D. Again, this may pull the heartstrings of nostalgic readers, or annoy the hell out of them.

In true sword and sorcery fashion, the characterization is all tropes and clichés. You have your wise and cranky aging wizard sick of it all, but forced to go at it once again in order to save the world. The kick-ass, well-nigh unbeatable swordsman. The ferocious female who's no damsel in distress. And more. Having said that, for all the tropes and the clichés, Ahmed created an endearing bunch of characters.

The pace is good. Ahmed keeps it fun and interesting, with not a single sluggish moment found from start to finish. The many action sequences keep the rhythm crisp, and you breeze through the book in no time. Weighing in at a tentative 288 pages, it will be interesting to see if SFF fans will show qualms about paying hardcover price for such a short-length work. Then again, keeping in mind that Throne of the Crescent Moon was never meant to be a doorstopper epic fantasy novel, for a sword and sorcery book the price is right.

Saladin Ahmed's fantasy debut is a quick and entertaining read. Throne of the Crescent Moon works extremely well as a throwback novel, and I'm curious to see how well it will be received compared to quality debuts that hit the shelves in recent years, namely those of Patrick Rothfuss, Naomi Novik, Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, Brian Ruckley, Brandon Sanderson, and Bradley P. Beaulieu.

As a sword and sorcery work, Throne of the Crescent Moon is nonetheless a world away from the epic fantasy works that topped the bestseller lists these last few years. And yet, if Daw Books markets it to the appropriate crowd, Ahmed debuts could create some waves in 2012.

If you are looking for a book that will bring you back to the action/adventure fantasy tales of your teenage years (provided you are a child of the 80s, of course), Saladin Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon should scratch that itch!

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Esslemont update

Hey guys,

A lot of Malazan fans have been asking me about my review of Ian Cameron Esslemont's Orb, Sceptre, Throne ( Canada, USA, Europe).

As usual, I was supposed to get an early read. Simon Taylor told me that the book was supposed to reach me in early December. We don't really know what happened, but the package ended up in my mailbox on December 29th. Needless to say, this threw a monkey wrench into our plans.

With the Holidays, work, and the fact that I was flying down to Miami on January 4th, I couldn't get to it. Unfortunately, there will not be an early review of Orb, Sceptre, Throne on the Hotlist prior to the novel's pub date. =(

The book is sitting on my desk, waiting. It will be the first novel I'll read and review when I return from Belize, though.

R. Scott Bakker's "The False Sun"

This from Bakker's blog:

A new Atrocity Tale is up.

I had a lot of fun with this one, reaching back, as it does, to a pivotal moment in Far Antiquity. So much so, that it’s got me thinking about the way serial fantasy demands so much more of readers than any genre short of experimental avante garde stuff. Writing “The False Sun” felt… I dunno, thick, semantically dense in a way that my return to philosophical concerns can’t hope to. A fantasy world is a reality where Soul and World are coextensive. Our world (or even worse, the world of the Blind Brain Theory) is one where the Soul has shrunk to a delusional ember, and ‘profundity’ is little more than bell cruelly tied to a lap-dog’s tale.

But the very reason I enjoyed writing “The False Sun” so much is also the reason I need to issue a SEVERE SPOILER ALERT. The Second Apocalypse is big, so big that the narrative and thematic dimensions only come into collective focus here and there. ”The False Sun” is a story about the origins of the Consult, and so brings together the historical and metaphysical dimensions of the greater saga in a decisive way. Nothing is spoiled in terms of plot, but in terms of setting, this story cuts against the way the details of the World have been rationed over the course of the series. Drawing the curtain back on Golgotterath is something I’ve reserved for The Unholy Consult.

Thus the spoiler alert: Reading “The False Sun” will have a profound impact on your reading of The Unholy Consult, and if you are as jealous of your narrative surprises as I am, you might want to set this story on the back-burner.

Otherwise, dig in. There’s several things that I’m not certain about, and as always I appreciate any kind of feedback that can help me put these or other qualms to bed

You can read "The False Sun" here.

Here's a handy timeline to help you along the way.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Someone just pointed out that, in the US only, Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes can still be purchased for 2.99$ here.

If you live outside of the USA and you wish to get your hands on the excellent book, simply change your ip address. . . Google it up to learn how. . .

Here's the blurb:

They say Black Dow’s killed more men than winter, and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbour, is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. The orders have been given and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they’ve brought a lot of sharpened metal with them.

Bremer dan Gorst, disgraced master swordsman, has sworn to reclaim his stolen honour on the battlefield. Obsessed with redemption and addicted to violence, he’s far past caring how much blood gets spilled in the attempt. Even if it’s his own.

Prince Calder isn’t interested in honour, and still less in getting himself killed. All he wants is power, and he’ll tell any lie, use any trick, and betray any friend to get it. Just as long as he doesn’t have to fight for it himself.

Curnden Craw, the last honest man in the North, has gained nothing from a life of warfare but swollen knees and frayed nerves. He hardly even cares who wins any more, he just wants to do the right thing. But can he even tell what that is with the world burning down around him?

Over three bloody days of battle, the fate of the North will be decided. But with both sides riddled by intrigues, follies, feuds and petty jealousies, it is unlikely to be the noblest hearts, or even the strongest arms that prevail…

Three men. One battle. No Heroes

More ebook deals!

You can now get David Wingrove's first volume in the Chung Kuo sequence, Son of Heaven, for 6.89$ here. It may not be as good a deal as some of the others I've posted lately, but the price is still down 73%!

Here's the blurb:

The year is 2085, two decades after the great economic collapse that destroyed Western civilization. With its power broken and its cities ruined, life in the West continues in scattered communities. In rural Dorset Jake Reed lives with his 14-year-old son and memories of the great collapse. Back in '43, Jake was a rich, young futures broker, immersed in the datascape of the world's financial markets. He saw what was coming - and who was behind it. Forewarned, he was one of the few to escape the fall. For 22 years he has lived in fear of the future, and finally it is coming - quite literally - across the plain towards him. Chinese airships are in the skies and a strange, glacial structure has begun to dominate the horizon. Jake finds himself forcibly incorporated into the ever-expanding 'World of Levels' a global city of some 34 billion souls, where social status is reflected by how far above the ground you live. Here, under the rule of the mighty Tsao Ch'un, a resurgent China is seeking to abolish the past and bring about world peace through rigidly enforced order. But a civil war looms, and Jake will find himself at the heart of the struggle for the future.

Ace contest winner!

This lucky girl will get her hands on a nice bundle of books, courtesy of the folks at Ace. The prize pack includes:

- Dead Mann Walking by Stefan Petrucha
- Supervolcano by Harry Turtledove
- The Nerdist Way by Chris Hardwick
- Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman
- Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

The winner is:

- Melissa Caldwell, from Anniston, Alabama, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!


C. S. Friedman confided that she had had an idea for a new Gerald Tarrant story when she agreed to contribute to Speculative Horizons, the anthology I compiled and edited for Subterranean Press last year. I was foaming at the mouth at the very thought, yet I knew that we could never afford to have that story in our anthology. In any event, she wanted to complete Legacy of Kings before tackling that new project.

And then, a few weeks ago, she let me know that the novella was done, edited, and she wanted to know if I wanted to be the first one to review it? Are you kidding me!?! "Hell yeah!" I said! And it was quite a treat, if only for 31 pages, to return to the world of the Coldfire trilogy and rediscover one of my favorite fantasy characters of all time!

Here's the blurb:

Four hundred years after mankind's arrival on Erna, the undead sorcerer Gerald Tarrant travels north in search of a legend. For it is rumored there is a forest where the fae has become so powerful that it devours all who enter it, and he means to test its power.

This prequel to C. S. Friedman's bestselling Coldfire Trilogy (Black Sun Rising, When True Night Falls, Crown of Shadows) offers fans of the series a hint of Tarrant's secret history, while new readers will enjoy a chilling introduction to one of High Fantasy's most fascinating -- and deadly --worlds

It's been sixteen years since we last encountered Gerald Tarrant. Far too long for most Friedman fans around the world, I'm sure. But when asked about the possibility of additional short stories or novellas featuring that beloved protagonist, C. S. Friedman told me that this was a one-off. Unless other memorable and worthwhile ideas come to mind, there won't be more of them coming up. Which, as a matter of course, made me savour Dominion even more.

This being a novella, the format precluded too much depth in terms of worldbuilding. Still, Friedman sets the mood perfectly. The narrative grabs hold of you and won't let go. The prose is evocative and the Forest almost becomes a character in its own right. Sure, many will claim that fans are already won over. But it's no secret that the author knows how to draw readers into her tales and Dominion is no different.

The novella features the POVs of two protagonists. The first is, not surprisingly, that of Gerald Tarrant, first Neocount of Merentha. It was a veritable pleasure to revisit a character that has made such an impact on me during the 90s. Although the thirty pages or so don't provide enough of an opportunity to fully appreciate this chance to see Gerald Tarrant in action and witness events unfold through his eyes, I relished every single moment of it. And damn it, I want more! The second is that of Faith, last survivor of a band of knights of the Church hunting faeborn creatures in the Forest. She possesses a special gift known as the Earth's blessing; the fae does not respond to her. Both characters find themselves in the heart of the Forest; one trying to escape, while the other means to best it. I think Friedman created a good balance between the two POV sections throughout the novella.

The relatively short format means that there is not a dull moment from start to finish. Indeed, all too soon you come to the end, satisfied but begging for more. Considering Gerald Tarrant's complex past, one would think that there would be material for several prequels. And here's to hoping that Dominion will be the first of many short form works featuring him.

This novella is a small vignette of Gerald Tarrant's life prior to the Coldfire trilogy, one focusing on his conquest of the Forest. I enjoyed how the author introduced Amoril and how he became part of Tarrant's entourage.

All in all, Dominion is a fantastic read. If you are a C. S. Friedman fan and loved the Coldfire trilogy, this novella is definitely for you!

The final verdict: 8/10

C. S. Friedman's Dominion will be available soon through all the usual e-book channels, in all e-book formats.

Tor Books contest winner!

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Tor Books, our winner will receive a bundle of books! The prize pack includes:

- The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
- Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
- Kitty's Greatest Hits by Carrie Vaughn
- Crack'd Pot Trail by Steven Erikson
- The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge
- Halo: Glasslands by Karen Traviss
- The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

The winner is:

- Erin Hartshorn, from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

Happy Birthday Hotlist!!!

Wasting technology since January 5th, 2005. . .

Who would have thought that it would last this long??? And yet, more than 300 book reviews and an unbelievable amount of drivel later, I'm still around!

Fuck me, Pat's Fantasy Hotlist is now seven years old!

In internet years, that almost makes me a dinosaur of the SFF Blogosphere. . .

That doesn't make me any younger. . . :/