Sunday, February 20, 2011

What I've Been Reading

So, I finished The Twilight Herald for a second time this past week - and I must say I enjoyed it much more than I had Stormcaller. I still had issues with Lloyds lack of what I can only call explaination. I know you find a lot of writers these days going for minimal 'info-dump' and that's great, but even authors like Erikson who land you smack-bang in the middle of events with little point of reference pepper their work with event landmarks that give the reader something to buikd a picture with. The use of a glossary would be good here - at least Lloyd does use a character list which I found myself referring to quite often as I read to recall just who particular characters were. That's not something I find myself doing often as I read (usually). But that being said Twilight Herald is a dark and broody novel, Lloyds dialogue is fantastic and Zhia Vukotic is one of the best characters I've ever read.

I am now reading The Unremembered by Peter Orullian - the great folk at Tor sent me through an ARC - and yes I am reading this even though I have in my hands The Crippled God by Steven Erikson. That will come next but as I beging writing the second draft of my 'epic' it might take me longer than I'd like to get through it.

But of course the most exciting news to pass my desk this week is that Janny Wurts has handed in the manuscript of the latest volume of The Wars of Light and Shadow to her editior at HarperColins in the UK (thanks to Laneth for the heads up! - I really need to pay more attention to her forums /sigh). Now I shall begin to bombard my contacts there with emails to get a copy for review - I can't wait!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Balancing Act

The Dragon's Path, first book in the Dagger and Coin series by Daniel Abraham, is worthy edition to the shelves of any reader of fantasy fiction.

Abraham has created an epic landscape on which to set his tale. It is a world, as many you would find in fantasy, that is rich with culture and history and has a lot of potential for future volumes. 

Unfortunately as I feared (and wrote of in my last post) this is not a book I can gush about because while Abrahams writing is good it just doesn't grab me. I can't explain it anymore than that. I know that I can be very picky, and I know from working in a genre specialist bookstore that there are lots of readers out there who will love this book, but it only worked for me partly - and I dare say not the way the author probably intended.

One of the things I have come to understand about this story is that while it is epic fantasy it is not an epic fantasy that is an adventure. It is more a political and economic fantasy.

And this is fine. In fact the story following Cithrin and the Medea Bank was my favorite of the lot.

But I can't help feeling that Abraham's has erred to much on the side of caution in writing what is a more 'mainstream' fantasy (a great evil looming in the distance that threatens to take over the world) and trying to keep it - as so many authors are wont to do these - different. So much so that while he uses the looming threat as a prologue and an epilogue we have 400 odd pages in between to forget about it - rendering that plot point moot, because by the then I no longer cared, nor did it create any suspense for me as to 'what might happen next?' The looming threat became window dressing - regardless of the fact that Geder goes looking for a secret weapon lost in the mountains (that we readers can link to the mountains in the prologue) in the last eighty pages of his storyline. I was much more involved in Cithrin's story - which at the end of the book I have no clue as to how it might fit into a sequel that could possibly focus more on the 'rising darkness' - or 'dark forces' that are referenced in the blurb.

I went into this book with the idea that it would be more the type of fantasy that grabs me than The Long Price was (and btw - I loved the world of the TLP, its culture and its history - it was the kind of world that, in my mind, popped the way Kelewan did when Feist allowed Wurts to play at the Great Game in the Empire trilogy, but it never got off the ground).  And Dragon's Path was more traditional fantasy (read europeanish setting), but only on the surface. That makes it more accessible than The Long Price and yeah it has dragons, but that was about it.

The thing Abraham's does really well is characters and economics. In fact it is because of Cithrin and her journey building a bank (interestingly enough it was Amat Kyaan's story in TLP that interested me the most also) that I will pick up book two - because I want to read what happens next!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Currently Reading

Woot! My lovely friends at Hachette have just sent me a bound manuscript of The Dragon's Path.

The Dragon's Path
The Dagger and The Coin #1
by Daniel Abrahams

Summer is the season of war in the Free Cities.

Marcus wants to get out before the fighting starts. His hero days are behind him and simple caravan duty is better than getting pressed into service by the local gentry. Even a small war can get you killed. But a captain needs men to lead -- and his have been summarily arrested and recruited for their swords.

Cithrin has a job to do -- move the wealth of a nation across a war zone. An orphan raised by the bank, she is their last hope of keeping the bank's wealth out of the hands of the invaders. But she's just a girl and knows little of caravans, war, and danger. She knows money and she knows secrets, but will that be enough to save her in the coming months?

Geder, the only son of a noble house is more interested in philosophy than swordplay. He is a poor excuse for a soldier and little more than a pawn in these games of war. But not even he knows what he will become of the fires of battle. Hero or villain? Small men have achieved greater things and Geder is no small man.

Falling pebbles can start a landslide. What should have been a small summer spat between gentlemen is spiraling out of control. Dark forces are at work, fanning the flames that will sweep the entire region onto The Dragon's Path -- the path of war.

Aidan Moher has already reviewed it very favourably here, I'll get through more of it over the weekend and see if I can't do the same later in the week.

One of the issues I have, I guess, is that while I find Abraham's writing good,  it doesn't grab me the way that Martin, Rothfuss or even Lynch does. And unfortunately the little catalogue blurb that was winging it's way around the 'net six months ago has missed the mark of what the story is actually about/like - but it certainly did a great job of selling it (which was what is was meant to do I suppose)! Based on that little blurb, and what I had read in the first half of the Long Price quartet I was expecting more - stylistically.

But I am only at the beginning and all of that could go completely out the window in a chapter or two more., so fingers crossed!