Saturday 27 February 2010

You know that Bragelonne must rock...

...when they can even make a Terry Goodkind book look decent.

Friday 26 February 2010

Classic genre video games #1 - Rastan

I was massively into video games when I was younger, particularly games in which you got to shoot aliens or kill things with big swords. I therefore thought it might be fun to take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the games I played in my younger days...I like nothing more than the smell of nostalgia in the morning.

First up, Rastan.

Rastan is far from the best game I've ever played, but I retain a large degree of affection for it because it is the first genre video game I can recall playing.

My parents had (still have, actually) a cottage down in Boscastle, Cornwall, and whenever we went down to stay there, we'd always go along to one of the local pubs called The Cobweb. When I was last down in November 2009, I went to The Cobweb for the first time in probably fifteen years and was pleased to find a proper folky pub, populated by friendly locals that looked like Gandalf (well, the blokes did at least - fortunately the women didn't). I can't remember what the place was like back when I was younger, but the one thing I do recall was that the pub had an old coin-operated arcade game called Rastan.

Now, as I've mentioned, Rastan wasn't exactly a great game. It wasn't that innovative (collect weapons, kill enemies and jump over water/lava) and it didn't have particularly stunning visuals (though they were pretty decent for the time). But to me - an excited 5-year-old - this game where you played some muscle-bound warrior with a sword and got to swing it at all kinds of nasty critters was the COOLEST THING EVER. Every time we went to Cornwall (which wasn't often) I'd get excited at the prospect of playing Rastan.

The coin-op arcade version of Rastan, where Conan Rastan faces off against two giant bogies (or boogers, if you're in the US)

I wasn't particularly good at it - in fact I sucked at the game - but that didn't seem to matter. It was all about the experience, the excitement of doing something you didn't normally get the chance to do (playing video games I mean, not swinging a big sword at monsters, though I guess the latter was technically true as well. I'd swung a plastic sword at my brother a few times, but he was a pretty poor substitute monster). I seem to recall squealing with excitement when I finally got past the first act of the first level and onto the second, which took place inside some sort of castle and involved pesky swinging ropes over a pool of lava. Never managed to get far beyond that point, but I'd always return undaunted, eager for another go, hopping from foot to foot impatiently while my dad - his eagerness not quite matching mine, it much be said - shoved another pound into the slot.

All good things come to an end though, and I remember the serious disappointment of running into The Cobweb on another infrequent visit, only to find a shitty Robocop arcade game in place of Rastan. It genuinely felt at the time like the end of an era.

Except it wasn't the end. As fate would have it, I randomly found a copy of Rastan for the legendary Commodore 64 a few years later (in Toys R Us, of all places), which I snapped up with some delight. Of course, that system's specs were far lower than the arcade machine, so the visuals and sound were grossly inferior, but the gameplay was more or less the same. Cue many happy hours of sword-swinging, despite the fact that Rastan looked like a walking turd. Being a little older and more experienced in the holy art of video gaming, I managed to get further in the game than ever before.

And then it all went pear-shaped.

Ultimately, two factors wrecked my Rastan experience. Firstly, the Commodore 64 version was pretty buggy - it would crash quite frequently, and since there was of course no save game option, if it crashed you were screwed. But secondly, and more importantly, there was a total FAIL of a glitch in the second level of the game. At one stage fairly early on in the level there was another rope-swinging section. Unbelievably, the developers put one of the ropes too far away from another, meaning it was physically impossible to make the jump - clearly no one had bothered playing the C64 version all the way through to check it worked alright. Doh.

The C64 version of Rastan - spot the difference? God, looking back now it really does look utterly shit.

This glitch brought a rather disappointing end to my Rastan experience, yet I still remember the game with a lot of fondness because I can recall how it excited me so much when I was a kid, and helped nurture both my love of video games and of fantasy.

For a look at the arcade version of Rastan in action, check out this short video.

Thursday 25 February 2010

I'm starting to get jealous of French genre fans...

...because they are beginning to get some seriously awesome book covers. Remember the wicked French cover for Brent Weeks' The Shadow's Edge?

Well, the same artist - Frédéric Perrin - has now delivered a cover for James Enge's The Blood of Ambrose:

I very much like the colours and the atmosphere of this cover - and not a hooded figure in sight! Lovely jubbly.

Courtesy of Lou Anders at Pyr-o-mania.

Wednesday 24 February 2010

The Republic of Thieves set for Spring 2011 release

I wasn't going to bother posting this news since it's likely to be across half the blogosphere within hours, but since I get several hits a day from people googling "Republic of Thieves release date" I thought I might as well blog it up.

So, yeah - apparently The Republic of Thieves is being lined up for release in early 2011.

Wert has got his fingers deep into this particular pie and unsurprisingly  was the first to break the news:

"I have heard back from Gollancz that they are planning to publish The Republic of Thieves in Spring 2011 at the same time as the US edition of the book. They confirm the book has been delivered and is now being revised and edited to this end."

If this schedule goes to plan, it will represent quite a big gap between the second and third books - Red Seas Under Red Skies was released in 2007, and four years is a considerable delay for a new-ish author who's trying to establish a career. Still, the expectation only seems to have grown in the intervening years, so the signs look good for Lynch.

Blurb and artwork for Gavin Smith's 'Veteran'

This is a debut I've been anticipating this year, and I finally received an ARC recently courtesy of Gollancz.

Here's the blurb:

"Ex-special forces soldier Jakob Douglas is having a bad day. He thought he was done fighting Them. Genetically modified and technologically enhanced, he lost his abilities when he left his job. His weapons were shut down, his upgrades disabled. Since then he's become mired in addictions in a desperate bid to regain his razor-sharp 'enhanced' edge. But when he is reactivated and forced to track down an alien infiltrator on Earth (one of Them, like the creature which wiped out his entire squad) he finds himself on the run. And wishing he was back home deep in a whiskey bottle.

Veteran is a fast paced, intricately plotted, breathtakingly violent SF thriller. Superb dialogue laced with black wit mixed with brilliantly described action in a major debut from Gollancz."

I don't read an awful lot of SF, but this has certainly got me excited - sounds right up my street. I loved Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon, and Veteran sounds similar - very noir. Looking forward to reading this one very much...

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Crap fantasy book covers #20

It's been a while since we last abused our eyes by gazing upon a crap fantasy book cover, but never fear - here's a particularly terrible cover that is more than worthy of being the 20th cover to be selected for this particular feature.

Behold, an old cover for Terry Brook's The Black Unicorn.

I always thought unicorns were meant to be graceful, beautiful creatures with a mystical aura about them. A bit like, say, this. Yet this one looks more like an angry goat. Perhaps he's pissed because his handler has just turned into an ice sculpture whilst pointing at the craptacular rainbow in the background.

Whatever, it's a horrendous cover.

Crap-o-meter rating: 9/10

Monday 22 February 2010

Book review: The Summer Tree

The Summer Tree

By Guy Gavriel Kay

(Voyager, 1992)

Guy Gavriel Kay is an author I've been meaning to read for quite a while, so I figured it was high time I picked up one of his books. I was well aware that his Fionavar Tapestry trilogy is not generally regarded to be his best work, but given that it had been some time since I'd read a traditional high fantasy, I decided to give The Summer Tree a go.

In essence, The Summer Tree is a combination of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia: five young people from our own world (Toronto, specifically) are transported to Fionavar, the 'first of all worlds', by Gandalf  Loren Silvercloak, a magician of the High Kingdom of Brennin, to take part in a celebration in honour of Brennin's king. Needless to say, things don't quite go to plan and our bunch of intrepid heroes end up getting into all sorts of escapades and adventures, as the shadow of war falls across the land due to the evil dark lord Sauron Rakoth breaking free from his prison and deciding it's time to kick some serious arse.

Jesting aside, it must be said that Tolkien's influence is stamped all over The Summer Tree, and at times it's suffocating: Loren Silvercloak is Gandalf in everything but name, Rakoth is a classic dark lord formed from Sauron's mould, The Dalrei bear many similarities to the Rohirrim, the svart alfar are goblins/orcs, while the lios alfar are elves, while the dwarves are...dwarves. It's all rather over-familiar; Fionavar feels too much like a watered-down version of Middle Earth, and in the book's first 200 pages Kay struggles to really drag his world out of Tolkien's shadow. That he does eventually manage to do so does him great credit, given the many debts his own world owes to Tolkien's world. As the story progresses the world of Fionavar does become a separate entity, mostly due to Kay's poetic prose, his world's well-developed history, and his ability to imbue his story with a sense of that history.

Given his clear ability to - eventually - portray a vibrant world with real depth, it's a real shame that Kay cheapens the whole story by transporting some kids from our own world into Fionavar and using this as the thrust for the story. Not only is it unnecessary, but it almost blows the credibility of the story to pieces in the first few chapters. I don't know about you, but if a bearded gentleman insisted I join him in his hotel room, then told me that he was a wizard from another world and that he wanted to take me back with him when he returned, I'd laugh nervously and politely take my leave (before running away very fast). Yet Kim, Jennifer, Paul and Kevin readily accept what Loren says about himself and the world of Fionavar as if they've known about the existence of the place all along, and they agree to accompany him without question. It's just so utterly ridiculous that I almost threw the book down in disgust - how intelligent, mature young people could be so gullible is beyond me. Only Dave shows any disbelief at Loren's words, and even then his protests seem a little halfhearted - as if Kay realised the implausibility of his characters' actions and tried to belatedly redress the balance.

This implausibility is worsened by the protagonists' reaction when they are transported to Fionavar - despite finding themselves in a new world that until the day before they didn't even know existed, they don't display even a slight degree of awe or wonder, instead behaving as if travelling between worlds is something they do all the time. It's all just so ludicrous that it seriously undermines the integrity of the story - as does the ease with which they settle into their new lives in Fionavar. Despite being from another world, they assume their new roles with so little difficulty that you can't help feel that Kay missed a golden opportunity to explore themes such as isolation, loneliness, and so on.

The protagonists' lack of reaction to their new surroundings is a serious flaw, and is unfortunately matched by their lack of individual personalities. Kim and Jennifer are - to put it bluntly - total Mary Sues, with very little depth or development. Their respective personal journeys could have been so powerful, but are seriously lessened by the fact that we just don't know much about them, and it's hard to fully emotionally engage with their situations. This is frustrating, as the scene involving Jennifer right at the end of the book could have been so powerful, but falls flat instead due to a lack of emotional attachment. The same is largely true of Kevin and Dave - like their female companions, they lack genuine depth and personality. Of the five companions from our own world, only Paul is well developed and given a convincing, emotional backstory and intriguing personality.

The characters native to Fionavar are generally more of a success - Diarmuid, Ivor and Matt Soren possess greater depth and stronger personalities. Kay certainly appears more comfortable writing about characters from a fantasy world than characters from the real world, so you wonder why he didn't just scrap the whole inter-world scenario and just set the story entirely in Fionavar. Kay just doesn't handle the scenario well, and in the first half of the book really struggles to differentiate between the protagonists - there are plenty of confusing POV changes, and the characters struggle for 'screen time' with the end result that their personalities just don't really come through at all.

So far I've probably painted a pretty negative picture of The Summer Tree - weak characters, flawed handling of the central premise, over-reliance on tropes engendered by it might surprise you that despite these issues I actually quite enjoyed this book.

Much of my eventual enjoyment was the result of Kay's prose - easily the strongest element of the book, Kay's writing is fluid, poetic and often very atmospheric. He mostly handles exposition well, and manages to really imbue the story with a sense of history that helps the reader to get under the skin of the world. There's a definite sense of wonder, a feeling of adventure and escapism that is too often lacking in more modern fantasy, and it's nice to enjoy that feeling again.

There are some other aspects that Kay handles well - the role of the Summer Tree is suitably profound, and Paul's experience with the tree is both powerful and emotional. The chapters involving the Dalrei, in which we see some of their culture and way of life, are also dealt with impressively (though why they weren't interspersed with the earlier chapters set in Brennin, rather than making up a separate chunk of their own and thus messing up the chronology, is a bit of a mystery).

Verdict: The Summer Tree is a flawed novel - there are serious issues with the characterisation of the protagonists, while Kay's world borrows too heavily from Middle Earth. Yet his prose often sparkles and he demonstrates a storyteller's knack for bringing his world to life and imbuing it with the weight and depth of history. While I'm not yet sure if I'll read the rest of the trilogy, the obvious potential here clearly explains why some of Kay's later works are highly regarded, and I'll certainly be checking them out at least. 

Sunday 21 February 2010

Extended blurb for Miéville's 'Kraken'

A new, extended blurb for China Miéville's Kraken that I came across on Westeros (no idea as to where it originated):

With this outrageous new novel, China Miéville has written one of the strangest, funniest, and flat-out scariest books you will read this—or any other—year. The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about—or prevent—the End of All Things.

In the Darwin Centre at London’s Natural History Museum, Billy Harrow, a cephalopod specialist, is conducting a tour whose climax is meant to be the Centre’s prize specimen of a rare Architeuthis dux—better known as the Giant Squid. But Billy’s tour takes an unexpected turn when the squid suddenly and impossibly vanishes into thin air.

As Billy soon discovers, this is the precipitating act in a struggle to the death between mysterious but powerful forces in a London whose existence he has been blissfully ignorant of until now, a city whose denizens—human and otherwise—are adept in magic and murder.

There is the Congregation of God Kraken, a sect of squid worshippers whose roots go back to the dawn of humanity—and beyond. There is the criminal mastermind known as the Tattoo, a merciless maniac inked onto the flesh of a hapless victim. There is the FSRC—the Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit—a branch of London’s finest that fights sorcery with sorcery. There is Wati, a spirit from ancient Egypt who leads a ragtag union of magical familiars. There are the Londonmancers, who read the future in the city’s entrails. There is Grisamentum, London’s greatest wizard, whose shadow lingers long after his death. And then there is Goss and Subby, an ageless old man and a cretinous boy who, together, constitute a terrifying—yet darkly charismatic—demonic duo.

All of them—and others—are in pursuit of Billy, who inadvertently holds the key to the missing squid, an embryonic god whose powers, properly harnessed, can destroy all that is, was, and ever shall be.

Is it possible for this book to sound any more awesome?

Friday 19 February 2010

US cover for Adrian Tchaikovsky's 'Salute the Dark'

I like what Pyr are doing with the covers for Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series, and this next one is no exception (thanks to the crew at FBC for the heads-up). 

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Bits and pieces

Some interesting stuff from around the blogosphere recently...

Mark Charan Newton has picked up on my comment on 'gritty' fantasy in the short interview I did over at Sam Sykes' blog (in which I stated that at times I felt the reliance on gritty realism was merely disguising a lack of creativity), and has written his own post on the matter. There's some healthy debate going on in the comments section.

George R. R. Martin has provided another update on his progress with A Dance With Dragons. Here's a snippet:

"The timeline of this monster is going to drive me mad. I know perfectly well that as soon as DANCE is published, some of you out there are going to attempt to correlate its chronology with that of A FEAST FOR CROWS, fit all the parts together to suggest an appropriate chapter order for a (hypothetical, and largely impossible) combined book, something like what the "Big Feast" might have been, before the split.

Well, good luck with that. I'm glad you're doing it, not me. With all these characters scattered over my entire world, some chapters that span hours and others many months, various journeys and voyages to account for, not to mention the demands of the dramatic chronology, an entirely different matter than the literal chronology... well, it may well make your head explode. It did mine. The DANCE timeline alone is a bitch and a half."

I think it's encouraging to note the frequency of GRRM's posts on his progress - he rarely posted on the matter before, but now he's blogging about his progress more regularly. Perhaps a sign that the end is in sight?

Tim Lebbon's been posting a few short extracts from his upcoming novel Echo City which will be released in the UK via Orbit and in the States by Bantam:

“Don’t be afraid,” Nadielle said, her voice carrying over the wet sounds from the tearing vat.

“If you say so,” Gorham muttered, and he watched one of the Baker’s creations being birthed. The vat opened, thick rips in its side spreading and allowing the thing inside to push out. Both of its arms were in the open now, grasping at the air as trying to gain purchase. Its head followed, then its body, hips and legs. It fell to the solid ground with a wet thump, screaming again as it tried to stand. Fluid spilled out around it. The air steamed and stank. The vat spewed a thick flow of afterbirth, spattering down around the emerged shape.

It lifted its head and mewled, and Gorham saw its face for the first time. It was a very human face, with an expression of startled delight at being free. It smiled, dribbling slightly, and he saw the fully formed teeth in its mouth, some of them longer and sharper than normal. The size of a big man, its hair was dark and long, matted across its shoulders and back. A human face, he thought, and he concentrated on its eyes because the rest of its body was far from human. Very far. It looked at him and smiled, and Gorham looked away.

Joe Abercrombie's conducted an interview with the artist that provided the art for the new editions of his First Law books. Given that cover art is such a hot topic these days, it's well worth a read. Here's a snippet:

"When doing your covers it had been decided that each book would have only one character, and two of them are really ugly. So I thought to myself, in the grand view of the audience and people walking through a bookstore, who is going to pick up a book that has a figure on the cover showing off his missing half rotten teeth, a deformed eye and a skinny broken body? In the fine art world that could make an interesting painting but commercially for people who are looking for an adventure story to catch their eye on a shelf? The book company is in the business of selling books and attractive characters sell."

Finally, I quite like this cover - simple but effective (admittedly it looks better in reality than on the screen).

Friday 12 February 2010

'State of the genre' interviews over at Sam Sykes' blog

Gollancz debut author Sam "Not Bill Sykes from Oliver Twist" Sykes recently announced a series of interviews with a number of bloggers on the state of the fantasy genre.

The first interview with The Book Smugglers can be found here.

The second interview with myself - how dare you not feature me first, Sykes! I demand satisfaction! - can be found here. I talk a bit about cover art and VIOLENCE (hence the rather bloody depiction of two frogs engaged in mortal combat).

Keep your eyes peeled for more interviews on Sam "Bastard offspring of Zangief from Streetfighter 2" Sykes' website in the coming days.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

A Dance with Dragons to be split in two (a la A Storm of Swords)?

Another brief update on ADWD from GRRM's Not A Blog:

"Spent the day in the rainwood. 1205 pages. More to come.

DANCE has now passed A CLASH OF KINGS to become the second longest volume in the series, though still three hundred pages shorter than the monster that was A STORM WITH SWORDS."

I'm wondering whether Dance will end up being split in half and released in two volumes like A Storm of Swords was. A Clash of Kings is a monster of a paperback, even with a small font size, (or at least the version I have is), and given that GRRM has confirmed there's still more to write, it seems logical to assume that Dance will end up being not too far short of A Storm of Swords' total word count. If this is the case, I wouldn't be surprised if the publishers release it in two volumes...

Guess we'll have to wait and see.

More OMG HUGE SCARY ALIEN goodness...

Nice. Or not so nice, depending on how you look at it.

Thursday 4 February 2010

Book review: Viriconium


By M. John Harrison

(Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks, 13 July 2000)

My only real goal blog-wise this year was to read more of the older so-called 'classics' of the genre, and I thought that M. John Harrison's Viriconium would be a decent place to start. A collection of all of Harrison's fiction featuring the city of the same name, this volume (number 7 in Gollancz's 'Fantasy Masterworks' series) is comprised of the 'novels' The Pastel City, A Storm of Wings and In Viriconium, along with the short stories Viriconium Knights, Lords of Misrule, Strange Great Sins, The Dancer from the Dance, The Luck in the Head, The Lamia and Lord Cromis and A Young Man's Journey to Viriconium.

M. John Harrison is, to a younger generation of online-savvy readers at least, perhaps best known for his infamous attack on worldbuilding: "It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there." Yet it is important that this argument does not become Harrison's legacy, and that he is instead remembered for Viriconium, which is one of the most striking, memorable works ever published in the fantasy genre.

It's such a sprawling, glorious mess that I hardly know where to start.

It's been suggested that with his Viriconium material Harrison was 'attacking' epic fantasy, and was attempting to write something that went totally against the grain - a middle finger salute to the Tolkien-esque influences that had comandeered the genre. I'm not so sure this was the case, but if it was I don't feel Harrison has fully succeeded. The Pastel City, for example, is a rather linear swords and sorcery romp that rarely hints at real originality. That said, In Viriconium is unlike anything I've ever read before in the genre, and perhaps is a greater indicator of what Harrison was trying to achieve. It's probably fair to say that Harrison was trying to write material that challenged readers and punished them for having certain expectations of what an epic fantasy story should be, and in this he is often successful.

For all of Harrison's attacks on worldbuilding, his own world - a version of Earth in the distant post-apocalyptic future - is utterly fascinating. The factories and facilities of the star-travelling 'Afternoon Cultures' have all wasted away, contaminating much of the land by creating deserts of rust and swamps of toxic chemicals.Yet the brilliance (and capability to self-destruct) of these earlier cultures lives on in the remnants of technology that survive - such as energy weapons and airboats. The inclusion of such technology both reinforces the sense of history and makes the world that bit more interesting. It also allows for some spectacular variations on traditional fantasy plot devices (one of the most memorable being a siege involving laser cannons and metal birds, which is breathtaking in its imagery).

The centre of Harrisons's world, of course, is the city of Viriconium itself. A living relic from the time of the Afternoon Cultures, Viriconium is a city that’s existed for so long that it has lost its sense of identity and knowledge of its own origins. A permanent sense of melancholy hangs over the city like a veil, as if the place is permanently mourning its own forgotten history. This sense of sadness – of things coming to an end – is embodied by the city’s citizens as well, many of whom go about their lives in a daze, as if uncertain of their own purpose. A city is defined not just by its architecture, but by its inhabitants as well – something that Harrison clearly recognises, since much of his Viriconium works – particularly the final novel In Viriconium – are centred around not the ruling classes and the movers and shakers, but the bohemian faction: poets, artists and playwrights. Not only is this a refreshing perspective, but it lends a forlorn credibility to Viriconium – there’s something quite moving about watching these normal people struggling to direct their hopeless lives.

This sense of melancholy is complemented by Harrison's wonderfully evocative, often wistful prose, as well as his knack for creating brooding characters. Galen Hornwrack is a good example - a sullen assassin of the lower-city, ill at ease with both his past and future, yet unable to find the spark in his spirit to change his situation. My personal favourite though is Lord tegeus-Cromis, a morose figure who 'imagined himself a better poet than swordsman', drawn from his lonely tower to fight one last battle for Viriconium - which in its current state barely reflects the city he once knew.

One of the major criticisms of Harrison's Viriconium fiction is that it's too bleak, too depressing - that the end of the world is nigh and no one seems to care, too absorbed as they are in their pitiful lives. To some extent this is true - perhaps Harrison wanted to move away from the bright colours of much epic fantasy and create something more reflective, more visceral, more real. Yet at the same time I'd argue that there's hidden optimism in his work - in the story In Viriconium for instance, the artists are still trying to paint and create despite the despondency around them. Surely that's inspiring more than depressing?

While there's an awful lot to admire in Viriconium, there's plenty of aspects I wasn't so keen on. A streak of absurdity pervades much of the work, which at times feels suffocating (there's only so much weird I can take in one go). Viriconium is also one of those books that, if you anything like me, you sometimes worry is a little too clever for you - that you're not quite 'getting' certain aspects. Perhaps because of this, or possibly due to other unknown factors, certain stories did little for me. The Dancer from the Dance, for example, made barely any impression and afterwards I wondered what the point of it had been, since it didn't seem to go anywhere. Perhaps it's telling that my favourite story - The Pastel City - is the one that has the closest links to more traditional epic fantasy.

Verdict: With Viriconium, perhaps Harrison intended for certain elements to remain abstract, for a layer of obscurity to coat everything. It's certainly not an easy book to read, and with the constant chronological, even dimensional shifts, it's an even harder one to try and make sense of. Yet despite this it is at times utterly brilliant, mixing evocative images with flowing, atmospheric prose. And sure, it's hard to escape the overwhelming feeling of melancholy...but, as I did, you might find that you don't want to. 

Wednesday 3 February 2010

UK artwork for J. V. Jones' Watcher of the Dead revealed

And here it is:

Thankfully there's not a hooded figure in sight, though I must say out of the four UK covers so far for this series I like this one the least. My favourite is easily the cover for A Fortress of Grey Ice, which I think is fantastic and perfectly matches the atmosphere of the book (annoyingly I can't find an image of it online that does it justice).

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Paul Kearney's 'Corvus' not due until 2011

Paul Kearney's upcoming novel Corvus (the follow-up to his seriously good book The Ten Thousand) was - according to Amazon, at least - meant to surface in June this year.

Unfortunately it seems fans will have to wait a little longer - Kearney's agent John Jarrold has stated the following on his blog:

"Paul is due to deliver in May 2010, so a June publication date will not happen! Maybe early 2011. and the third book in the series six months later."

A shame, but I've no problem waiting longer if it means Corvus will be as good as The Ten Thousand.

For what it's worth, I found an early blurb (contains minor spoilers relating to The Ten Thousand):

It is twenty-three years since a Macht army fought its way home from the heart of the Asurian Empire. The man who came to lead that army, Rictus, is now a hard-bitten mercenary captain, middle-aged and tired. He wants nothing more than to lay down his spear and become the farmer that his father was. But fate has different ideas. A young warleader has risen to challenge the order of things in the very heartlands of the Macht. A soldier of genius, he takes city after city, and reigns over them as king. What is more, he had heard of the legendary leader of the Ten Thousand. His name is Corvus, and the rumours say that he is not even fully human. He means to make himself absolute ruler of all the Macht. And he wants Rictus to help him.

Certainly sounds promising.

In the meantime, Kearney fans can check out the new artwork for his Monarchies of God omnibuses over at Aidan's blog. And if you've not read The Ten Thousand yet, give it a go!

Monday 1 February 2010

And, like magic, the backlash to the recent GRRM sample appears...

One word - inevitable.

When Pat posted a sample of GRRM's latest 'Dunk and Egg' novella, The Mystery Knight, I knew it would be only a matter of time before all the haters crawled out of the woodwork, spouting their moronic nonsense about GRRM.

And sure enough, they did. If you ever wanted an example of how pathetic these people are, look no further than this thread of comments (fortunately, the IQ level is maintained by plenty of sensible folk with rational posts).

I'm not interested in regurgitating my own opinion - it's not changed since my post on the subject almost exactly a year ago.

Sean Speakman, however, is annoyed enough about it that he's once more analysed all the various arguments both for and against GRRM. There's not a lot of new material there, but the article is well worth checking out all the same.