Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Let the cartographers feast begin!

All the maps were also added to the index.


First is the map of Grania from the novel The Mirror Empire, first book of Karmeron Hurley in the Worldbreaker Saga series.  The map is the work of Steff J. Worthington and you can find out more about the creation process here.


Next is the map (from an image of the book itself) of Joe Abercrombie's Half a King.


The Prince of Fools, first book of the Red Queen's War series by Mark Lawrence is set in the same world as the Broken Empire trilogy starring Jorg. However, Lawrence offered a new map!


With the release of his second novel, Anthony Ryan added new maps for Tower Lord (from the Raven's Shadow series).



It's the same thing as Ryan for Django Wexler.  Here's the maps added with The Shadow Throne, the second book in the Shadow Campaigns series. Both depicts Vordan, the first being the work of Courtney Skinner and the second Lu Huan.

A Round of Covers

Monday, August 25, 2014

It's been a while since I shared some new covers for upcoming novels and interesting things were unveiled. Aside from the Brett cover, thanks to the Westeros forum for sharing!


First up is the cover for the fourth book of Peter V. Brett Demon Cycle series, The Skull Throne (the cover was unveiled by Sf Signal).  The book release date is March 24, 2015. It fits well with the previous Demon Cycle covers (hardcovers) but I'm not a huge fan. What do you think?


Joe Abercrombie's third YA exploration novel is named Half a War (following Half a King and Half the World) and even if it's still far from a release, Del Rey has a cover.


I really liked the cover for Jon Sprunk's Blood and Iron (here) and the follow-up, Storm and Steel, looks just as good. It will be officially unveiled at Dragon Con by Jon (and Pyr). The second novel in the Book of the Black Earth series has no official release date so far.


The third Gaunt and Bone novel by Chris Willrich will complete the arc of the the two previous one and it's titled The Chart of Tomorrows.  As for the covers of book one and two, it's a bit cheesy but nice enough.


Finally for this round, the Chaos Born series book three by Drew Karpyshyn, Chaos Unleashed.  It's not as good as the cover for the two previous entries by the author... look for it in July 2015.

Summer hiatus

My long and amazing 2014 vacations (thanks to my girlfriend for giving me a couple of weeks from the parental leave) are now over so I will be able to return to a normal posting schedule for the blog!

Here's to great reading!

August releases

Friday, August 1, 2014

Here's the spotlight for the releases in Fantasy for August 2014!

Note that The Dark Defiles (Land Fit for Heroes book 3) by Richard Morgan was pushed back to October and The Wide World's End (A Tournament of Shadows book 3) by James Enge was pushed back to 2015. Also, I forgot to mention The Dark Blood (Long War book 2) by A.J. Smith, which was released last month.



The Widow's House
The Dagger and the Coin quartet book 4
Daniel Abraham
August 5th
Lord Regent Geder Palliako's war has led his nation and the priests of the spider goddess to victory after victory. No power has withstood him, except for the heart of the one woman he desires. As the violence builds and the cracks in his rule begin to show, he will risk everything to gain her love or else her destruction. 
Clara Kalliam, the loyal traitor, is torn between the woman she once was and the woman she has become. With her sons on all sides of the conflict, her house cannot stand, but there is a power in choosing when and how to fall. 
And in Porte Oliva, banker Cithrin bel Sarcour and Captain Marcus Wester learn the terrible truth that links this war to the fall of the dragons millennia before, and that to save the world, Cithrin must conquer it.

Malazan Empire book 6
Ian C. Esslemont
August 5th
The final chapter in the awesome, epic story of the Malazan empire.  
Tens of thousands of years of ice is melting, and the land of Assail, long a byword for menace and inaccessibility, is at last yielding its secrets. Tales of gold discovered in the region's north circulate in every waterfront dive and sailor's tavern and now countless adventurers and fortune-seekers have set sail in search of riches. All these adveturers have to guide them are legends and garbled tales of the dangers that lie in wait -- hostile coasts, fields of ice, impassable barriers and strange, terrifying creatures. But all accounts concur that the people of the north meet all trespassers with the sword. And beyond are rumoured to lurk Elder monsters out of history's very beginnings. Into this turmoil ventures the mercenary company, the Crimson Guard. Not drawn by contract, but by the promise of answers: answers to mysteries that Shimmer, second in command, wonders should even be sought. Arriving also, part of an uneasy alliance of Malazan fortune-hunters and Letherii soldiery, comes the bard Fisher kel Tath. And with him is a Tiste Andii who was found washed ashore and who cannot remember his past life, yet who commands far more power than he really should. Also venturing north is said to be a mighty champion, a man who once fought for the Malazans, the bearer of a sword that slays gods: Whiteblade.  
And lastly, far to the south, a woman guards the shore awaiting both her allies and her enemies. Silverfox, newly incarnated Summoner of the undying army of the T'lan Imass, will do anything to stop the renewal of an ages-old crusade that could lay waste to the entire continent and beyond. Casting light on mysteries spanning the Malazan empire, and offering a glimpse of the storied and epic history that shaped it, "Assail" is the final chapter in the epic story of the Empire of Malaz.

The Magician's Land
The Magicians book 3
Lev Grossman
August 5th
In The Magician’s Land, the stunning conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy—on-sale from Viking on August 5—Quentin Coldwater has been cast out of Fillory, the secret magical land of his childhood dreams. With nothing left to lose he returns to where his story be­gan, the Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic. But he can’t hide from his past, and it’s not long before it comes looking for him. 
Along with Plum, a brilliant young under­graduate with a dark secret of her own, Quentin sets out on a crooked path through a magical demi­monde of gray magic and desperate characters. But all roads lead back to Fillory, and his new life takes him to old haunts, like Antarctica, and to buried secrets and old friends he thought were lost for­ever. He uncovers the key to a sorcery masterwork, a spell that could create magical utopia, a new Fillory—but casting it will set in motion a chain of events that will bring Earth and Fillory crashing together. To save them he will have to risk sacrific­ing everything. 
The Magician’s Land is an intricate thriller, a fantastical epic, and an epic of love and redemp­tion that brings the Magicians trilogy to a magnifi­cent conclusion, confirming it as one of the great achievements in modern fantasy. It’s the story of a boy becoming a man, an apprentice becoming a master, and a broken land finally becoming whole.

The Fifth Season
The Broken Earth book 1
N.K. Jemisin
August 5th COMING OUT IN 2015...
This is the way the world ends. Again. 
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze -- the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years -- collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries. 
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She'll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

Fool's Assassin
The Fitz and the Fool trilogy book 1
Robin Hobb
August 12th
Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown. 
But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more… 
On a shelf in his den sits a triptych carved in memory stone of a man, a wolf and a fool. Once, these three were inseparable friends: Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. But one is long dead, and one long-missing. 
Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger? 
Suddenly Fitz's violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe.

The Godless
Children book 1
Ben Peek
August 19th
The Gods are dying. Fifteen thousand years after the end of their war, their bodies can still be found across the world. They kneel in forests, lie beneath mountains, and rest at the bottom of the world's ocean. For thousands of years, men and women have awoken with strange powers that are derived from their bodies. 
The city Mireea is built against a huge stone wall that stretches across a vast mountain range, following the massive fallen body of the god, Ger. Ayae, a young cartographer’s apprentice, is attacked and discovers she cannot be harmed by fire. Her new power makes her a target for an army that is marching on Mireea. With the help of Zaifyr, a strange man adorned with charms, she is taught the awful history of ‘cursed’ men and women, coming to grips with her new powers and the enemies they make. Meanwhile, the saboteur Bueralan infiltrates the army that is approaching her home to learn its terrible secret. 
Split between the three points of view, The Godless' narrative reaches its conclusion during an epic siege, where Ayae, Zaifyr and Bueralan are forced not just into conflict with those invading, but with those inside the city who wish to do them harm.

The Broken Eye
Lightbringer book 3
Brent Weeks
August 26th
As the old gods awaken and satrapies splinter, the Chromeria races to find its lost Prism, the only man who may be able to stop catastrophe. But Gavin Guile is enslaved on a pirate galley. Worse, Gavin no longer has the one thing that defined him -- the ability to draft. 
Without the protection of his father, Kip Guile will have to face a master of shadows alone as his grandfather moves to choose a new Prism and put himself in power. With Teia and Karris, Kip will have to use all his wits to survive a secret war between noble houses, religious factions, rebels, and an ascendant order of hidden assassins, The Broken Eye.

The Mirror Empire
Worldbreaker Saga book 1
Kameron Hurley
August 26th
On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself. 
In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. 
As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress. 
Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself. 
In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

The Fell Sword review

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Fell Sword is the second novel in the Traitor Son Cycle by Miles Cameron. The series debuted in 2012 with the excellent debut The Red Knight. Miles is the Fantasy pseudonym of Christian Cameron, author of several historical fiction novels.
There are some things you can pay a man to do. And there are some you can’t. 
Betrayal by one of your own is usually free. 
Hiring experienced mercenaries to protect your throne is not. 
When an Emperor is deposed, the Red Knight and his men find their services in high demand – and themselves surrounded by enemies. The country is in revolt, the capital city is besieged and any victory will be hard won. But The Red Knight has a plan. The question, can he negotiate the political, magical, real and romantic battlefields at the same time – especially when intends to be victorious on them all? 
The Red Knight and his company go across the mountains to the Morea and Thrake - those are the kingdoms to the east of Alba - to put down what appears to be a local rebellion and proves to be larger. In the process, the readers will get to see a little more of the meta-plot.
The Red Knight will meet a beautiful princess. Jean de Vrailly will grow in power and worldly glory. Amicia will develop her own power while getting into a quarrel with the church that will have long term effects for everyone. Readers will meet the Faery Knight and the irks are developed as people and not ‘enemies’. The sides shift, and the stakes grow.
In The Red Knight, Cameron introduced a lot of characters and several locations where the action, the scheming and several precisely detailed battles took place. Starting with this basis and with a very large cast and much ground to cover, it's not a surprise that the Red Knight himself, Gabriel, isn't given much page time for at least a hundred pages in the follow-up. Many storylines need development for the story to move forward as a whole. Even if The Fell Sword, as was the case with the previous book, isn't standing solely on the shoulder of the young ingenious mercenary commander, he's still the star of the book and when finally we catch up with him, that's where you realize how great and compelling a protagonist he has become with only one book behind his belt.

The Fell Sword throws Gabriel into another siege, but quite different from the one in the first book.  The Wild is still in turmoil but in the aftermath of the battle of Lissen Carak, the various forces have to regroup, the indigenous human races included. That break up makes The Fell Sword even more of a mess at first than The Red Knight was, where we had to grow familiar with the characters.  Instead of allies fighting for a common cause, we get several groups switching allegiances, fighting for power, fleeing or being subdued by the return in power of the mighty and now corrupted Thorn or the Fae Knight Tapio (only to name a few...). However, for a second time in a row, Cameron succeeds in bringing much of it together, although with less triumph. The scope is even larger and it's hard to make connections between all the players involved. If you consider the fast switches of point of views in all chapters, you get a mighty tapestry woven like no other that eventually shows its beauty but to the risk of being a complete jumble. I hope the author can pull it off for several more books but with a result as stellar as for The Red Knight.

Cameron is clearly the master of big battle scenes where, even if magic plays an important part, you feel as if your living history, taking part of a legendary conflict. The reenactor sure knows how to describe them from inside out.  I admit that this time around, I didn't understand all of it, I'm no expert in warfare tactics but I enjoyed the majority of the scenes. Readers who don't like encounters described in that level of detail may be thrown off by the author's writing, to the point of putting the book down or jumping ahead of several sections. Hopefully, Gabriel is still showing some genius but with much more help from magic, which slightly lessen the ingenuity of some victories.

Anyhow, most of these elements were also part of The Red Knight so your question must be: "Is the sequel worth it? What new elements does it bring to the table?".

It's worth it even if the book isn't on par with The Red Knight. If you take the relationship between the different leaders who appeared in the first novel, the new threads coming from characters mostly out of Galle and the new region of Morea and Livianopolis, its capital and scenery for a big part of the book and the evolution of the Red Knight, individually, you get compelling stories. However, the way they are mixed up isn't the representation of successfully tight writing. A great tale recounted with some hick-ups. You will probably ask yourself questions like ''Why is there so much emphasis on the fur trade?'' or ''Why is there so much time spent on this character?'' and they will be worthy questions that alas show some weakness taken independently.  That's when you have to consider the big picture. It's not always obvious but more often than not, it brings more depth.

The other question was about novelty.  The epic struggle governing the plot of the seven book planned series is progressing, slowly but steadily. Gabriel's part in it seems to be less important for a while, up until everything merge together in term of magic involvement or centers of power.  However, magic is already a known factor and the skills of Gabriel and the other protagonists of note are revealed. So if you are looking for innovation, the second book isn't bringing much to the table but I don't think it was really needed. I think that the readers who were hooked with The Red Knight and the various characters will find satisfaction with The Fell Sword.  In my case, it's quite enough to wait with eagerness for the next installment.

Cover: The Orbit cover (the knight in armor) looks really nice but I prefer the Gollancz cover with the eagle attacking.
Release date: February 15th 2014 - UK (March in NA) (Gollancz)
Map: Yes it looks really good. There's the map of Albia, Morea and Livianopolis
Number of pages: 640 (paperback edition)
Other: No appendices, dramatis personae or glossary

I liked...Was disappointed by...
The battle scenesThe scope of the tale vs its development
The plethora of charactersThe plethora of characters
Gabriel's character developmentThe title meaning... the fell sword doesn't matter much...
The new protagonists and storylines

The similitude with Europe and the colonization of America is unsettling at times... (it's kind of the same for the Church of Christ references)

...looking at this list, it's kind of weird to have similitude between the things I liked and the things I was disappointed by. Some writing choices for Miles Cameron are both great additions and drawbacks for the book...

The Fell Sword review rating :

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