Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fated: a Book Review

Alex Verus Book 1
By Benedict Jacka

The first book in an exciting new urban fantasy series, this is a fast-paced tale that packs a punch and brings magic to London the way Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files bring magic to Chicago.

Alex Verus is a diviner with a dark past. For many years he has hidden himself away in self-imposed exile. In Camden, North London - where roads and rail lines and leylines tangle together - he runs a small magic shop, the Arcana Emporium. His magic isn’t as powerful or as flashy as other mages, but if you know what you are looking for, he can help you find it. And his ability to see the future gives him a distinct advantage when treading the perilous waters between the Light and the Dark and staying one step ahead of trouble. And it’s that ability that has suddenly made him very popular.

A mysterious artefact from the Dark Wars has been discovered intact and only a diviner can possibly work out how to traverse its wards to access the relic within. Multiple factions want possession of its secrets and Alex is their key to getting in. But Alex has spent a long time distancing himself from the shadows of his past – and the men and women who abandoned him to a cruel master – and he has no plans to be forced to do anything. Especially when he can predict that the odds of him surviving the job are slim to none.

Jacka’s work is fresh and exciting and has good bones to build on for any subsequent novels that might come along (I believe he’s contracted for at least two more). It has depth, inventive use of mythology, good characterisation, cool magical creatures and interesting curses. It’s dark and humorous, has a lot of heart and a fast pace.

I think this is going to be very popular with readers who enjoy the Dresden Files and I hope that Jacka has plans for many more instalments. While Alex Verus is a much different character to Harry Dresden, there are enough similarities and nods of the head to Butcher’s work that you can’t help but feel you are walking on familiar territory. In fact Butcher even has a quote on the jacket, and he thinks that Harry and Alex would get along very well. I agree.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Monday, June 25, 2012

The Art of the Blurb

Faithful and the Fallen # 1
By John Gwynne

A black sun is rising…

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors under King Brenin’s rule, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage.

The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed shields in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars.

High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Some are skeptical, fighting their own border skirmishes against pirates and giants. But prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust.

Writing the blurb on the back of a book is an art form.

I am unsure if it is the author, an editor or a marketing person who writes it (maybe all three?) but when they get it right the get it right.

I haven't even seen a cover for this book, bu from the blurb alone I want to read it.

I'm also somewhat peeved because I think it sounds like my story but a friend who has read some of mine and heard me talk about the lot endlessly doesn't think it sounds at all similar.

In any case check this out - I will definitely be looking to get my hands on a copy!

Apparently the title was originally 'So Deep a Malice' - and I kinda like that better.

Now here's hoping the writing lives up to the marketing ;)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

David Gemmell Legend Award Winners

A very belated congratulations to the 2012 winners of the David Gemmell Legend Awards:

Ravenheart Award (best cover art): Raymond Swanland - Blood of Aenarion

Morningstar Award (best debut): Helen Lowe - Heir of Night

Legend Award (best novel): Patrick Rothfuss - The Wiseman's Fear

Patrick Rothfuss obviously needs no introduction but I am very excited for Helen Lowe. Her Wall of Night series is fantastic, such a beautiful and lush example of world building and beautiful prose, not to mention a kick-ass heroine and epic story.

I've spoken about Heir of Night before here, but there is nothing to say I cannot do so again :)

These days, while there are a lot of fantasy titles on the market, I am finding less and less of the Epic Fantasy that I really enjoy. This is one of the novels I really enjoyed, and as Book 2 has just been released, I thought it the perfect time to talk about Book 1. 

This story is traditional in its fantasy setting, but as with all really good Epic Fantasy, it is the still surface of the pond that deceives the unwary. Haarth is very much its own world and Lowe has created an engrossing tale packed with rich history that you want to know as much about as you do the story itself. 

In the north, on the Wall of Night, the war-like Derai guard against their ancient enemy, the Swarm, whom they have battled for thousands of years. But the Swarm have been quiet for decades and the fierce Derai have turned to playing politics among themselves as ruthlessly as they war against their enemies - and cracks in their alliance have begun to spread. Distrust has grown between the warrior caste and the priest caste, who wield magic rather than steel, and the priests have been segregated into enclaves where they are looked down upon with derision. But when Malian, the heir to the House of Night – one of the Derai’s most powerful noble houses – discovers the Swarm have infiltrated the Keep of Winds her burgeoning powers, and the prophecies of the Derai’s final battle against their enemy, sets off a sequence of events that see her forced to flee her home to escape the persecution her abilities will bring, and to find the tools she’ll need to lead the Derai to victory. 

This story is filled with old secrets and forgotten lore. Stories of ancient heroes and battles fill the pages in such a way that they seamlessly expand the story, rather than bog the reader down in great wads of info dumping. Lowe’s battle scenes are fast-paced and easily followed, dragging you along until you find yourself still awake far later than you had planned!

Though relatively short for an Epic Fantasy, one of Lowe’s strengths is that the book doesn’t feel short when you read it. It is full of life and tells the reader a great deal about the world in which the story is set – though most of the book is set in the Keep of Winds itself. Lowe’s is an exciting new voice in fantasy fiction with a clean and accessible style that holds great promise for future stories. Book 2 – The Gathering of the Lost – is just as good, if not better!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Long Time

It's been a long time since my last post.

What can I say, busy with life and all that.

Unfortunately I have just had a change in circumstances - I say unfortunate because I didn't choose but it may very well prove to be fortunate in long run - and I will have sometime to get back to the business of me.

That includes getting the Tome finished.

I've been working on my Big Epic Fantasy forever. The work hasn't been consistent and that's why I am still working on it.

I completed my 2 draft back in March during my Annual Leave, I am now working through the 3rd draft. When that's done I am re-reading it, doing a quick pass-over (again) then sending it out to my Beta readers. Once their feedback is in, and I action it (or decide if it needs actioning) I will be ready to submit!

Yeah I'm a little excited :D

Art by Raymond Swanland