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(p)review forecast October part one

(p)review forecast October part one

Which books will you be reading in the coming weeks?

Cheers, 
Jasper

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1. Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna, Pyr


Ben Gold lives in dangerous times. Two generations ago, a virulent disease turned the population of most of North America into little more than beasts called Ferals. Some of those who survived took to the air, scratching out a living on airships and dirigibles soaring over the dangerous ground.

Ben has his own airship, a family heirloom, and has signed up to help a group of scientists looking for a cure. But that's not as easy as it sounds, especially with a power-hungry air city looking to raid any nearby settlements. To make matters worse, his airship, the only home he's ever known, is stolen. Ben must try to survive on the ground while trying to get his ship back.

This brings him to Gastown, a city in the air recently conquered by belligerent and expansionist pirates. When events turn deadly, Ben must decide what really matters--whether to risk it all on a desperate chance for a better future or to truly remain on his own.


2. A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, Century Books


For a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights brought peace and order to the Galactic Republic, aided by their connection to the mystical energy field known as the Force. But they were betrayed—and the entire galaxy has paid the price. It is the Age of the Empire.

Now Emperor Palpatine, once Chancellor of the Republic and secretly a Sith follower of the dark side of the Force, has brought his own peace and order to the galaxy. Peace through brutal repression, and order through increasing control of his subjects’ lives.

But even as the Emperor tightens his iron grip, others have begun to question his means and motives. And still others, whose lives were destroyed by Palpatine’s machinations, lay scattered about the galaxy like unexploded bombs, waiting to go off. . . .

The first Star Wars novel created in collaboration with the Lucasfilm Story Group, Star Wars: A New Dawn is set during the legendary “Dark Times” between Episodes III and IV and tells the story of how two of the lead characters from the animated series Star Wars Rebels first came to cross paths. Featuring a foreword by Dave Filoni.


3. Lock In by John Scalzi, Gollancz  

Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four percent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselves “locked in”—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus.

One per cent doesn't seem like a lot. But in the United States, that's 1.7 million people “locked in”...including the President's wife and daughter.

Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can restore the ability to control their own bodies to the locked in. But then two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual-reality environment, “The Agora,” in which the locked-in can interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, meaning that from time to time, those who are locked in can “ride” these people and use their bodies as if they were their own.

This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse....


4. Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon by David Barnett, Tor

Nineteenth century London is the center of a vast British Empire, a teeming metropolis where steam-power is king and airships ply the skies, and where Queen Victoria presides over three quarters of the known world—including the east coast of America, following the failed revolution of 1775.

Young Gideon Smith has seen things that no green lad of Her Majesty’s dominion should ever experience. Through a series of incredible events Gideon has become the newest Hero of the Empire. But Gideon is a man with a mission, for the dreaded Texas pirate Louis Cockayne has stolen the mechanical clockwork girl, Maria, along with a most fantastical weapon—a great brass dragon that was unearthed beneath ancient Egyptian soil. Maria is the only one who can pilot the beast, so Cockayne has taken girl and dragon off to points east.

Gideon and his intrepid band take to the skies and travel to the American colonies hot on Cockayne’s trail. Not only does Gideon want the machine back, he has fallen in love with Maria. Their journey will take them to the wilds of the lawless lands south of the American colonies—to free Texas, where the mad King of Steamtown rules with an iron fist (literally), where life is cheap and honor even cheaper.

Does Gideon have what it takes to not only save the day but win the girl?

David Barnett's Gideon Smith and the Brass Dragon is a fantastical steampunk fable set against an alternate historical backdrop: the ultimate Victoriana/steampunk mash-up!

 
5. Legion of the Damned by William C. Dietz
 
In the future, the terminally ill can prolong life by surrendering their consciousness to a cybernetic life form that is then recruited into the notorious Legion of the Damned, an elite fighting unit charged with protecting humanity.


Review Round-up September

Review Round-up September

Here is my selection of the books that I most enjoyed in September, which were your favorites?

Cheers,
Jasper
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1. Age of Iron by Angus Watson, Orbit
 
From the start of Age of Iron, Angus Watson got my attention. This was just the book I was looking for, I hadn’t read such a story in a long while, it’s dark, gruesome Epic Fantasy. Given the day and age wherein the story of Age of Iron takes place around 40AD this whole dark setting definitely works it’s wonders and made me see several scenes quite vividly, especially  the fighting scenes. The build up of the story with focussing on every character individually then letting the story all converge into something much bigger was done in a clever way that with even though you were given a lot of information, about them all,  it was all easy to digest, which was needed given the fact that it has a pretty high page count. Orbit has brought some very spectacular debuts over the last years and they can definitely add Age of Iron as another big success. The story has a great focus on the action scenes but Angus Watson also introduces those hints of betrayal and intrigue into it that gives a true sense of Epic Fantasy. With his debut Angus Watson has managed to hit the rights snares. I am eager to see that will follow in Clash of Iron. In the arc that I read there was already a few words. Look to be another great read.

Read the full review here

2. Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone, Tor

Max Gladstone keeps on intriguing and provoking me to think about his world. Can you say that it is a mash-up of Epic Fantasy and Science Fiction or is it pure Urban Fantasy? It has influences of all three of them. There is the Craft, the magic system in series, the huge cities that are ruled by either Gods or Kings, the technology used in the series gives the Science Fiction vibe a nice swing. But you also have the laywer business and necromantic firms that gives more of an Urban Fantasy feeling to the story. Added to this come a lot of other things like the Gargoyles, Penitents and many many others. In building his world Max Gladstone doesn't let one detail to be overlooked and his writing style readily paints those very vivid images of the scenes that take place in the book, but more over he steps over several worldy boundaries that have been set in fantasy.

In a recent guest post that Max Gladstone wrote for the blog you can find out more about how he took nonfiction as an influence to building his world 

Full Fathom Five is another winner for me and I just cannot get enough of the Craft Sequence. As I said with Two Serpents Rise these book are just over to soon. From the beginning of the Full Fathom Five I was glued to the pages and just couldn't let go. The characters really grown on you and they, as I have come to learn from the other protagonists in the series, far from your standard cardboard cut outs, Max Gladstone invests a lot of time in creating the right set of characters and showing that they grow as the story progresses

Read the full review here

3. Control Point by Myke Cole, Headline

When I was just finishing the first chapter of Control Point, I tweeted: "Where have you been all my life". For me, with Control Point, Myke Cole has just taken military fiction and urban fantasy to a completely new level. The whole setting of the book is just plain and simply awesome. I guess this is pretty much a guy thing, who doesn't like to read about superpowers and military action? The book is sprawling with action from the first page right down until the last one. The characters that you meet in Control Point are memorable and they will grow on you, these aren't the hardened veterans of the military but young guys and girls who are obliged with entering the Army, while they would rather just spend their lives in the real world. Myke Cole paints a downright hard picture that sees some rays of sunshine in the end of the book. I think this story is far from over yet... Will Oscar be a catalyst of change? Need to get to Fortress Frontier asap. 

Read the full review here

4. Our Lady of the Streets by Tom Pollock, Jo Fletcher Books

Our Lady of the Streets is a pitch perfect ending to a brilliant series. The third book lets everything that was proposed in the first two books collide in a heavy way. Giving this time not a strong focus on either Beth or Pen but putting both in the spotlight. There is only one thing left for them and that is stopping Mater Viae from ripping apart London and if she succeeds the rest of the world. Bam! Who would have dared to guess this would be the ending of the story? When I read the first book I hadn't dared to think that the story would end this way. Tom Pollock's vision of an Urban Fantasy London is a unique setting and not many authors have managed to grip with their series as The Skyscraper Throne has. The wide imagination that Tom Pollock has comes back in the creatures that he uses to inhabit his world and though they are far from normal, their are weird and not at all mainstream, you won't put them off as a simple imaginary beings, you will be taking these creatures deadly serious, Tom Pollock's writing style will make sure you do this from the first introduction. With The Skyscraper Throne Tom Pollock has created an exceptional and remarkable, action-packed series and it turned out to be quite the emotional rollercoaster as well. I will be definitely be keeping a close eye on the next project that Tom Pollock will write about next. If this is his debut series, I wanna see what else he can do! 


Read the full review here

5. The Relic Guild by Edward Cox, Gollancz 

The Relic Guild is an awesome book and that doesn't even come close. In the saturated fantasy genre as an author you really have to bring your A game if you want to break through and for me Edward Cox has delivered this. The whole setting of The Relic Guild and here I mean mainly the world building with Labrys Town and the way it is all described is very provocative and Edward Cox leaves enough for you to think about it for yourself. Then you have the interesting magic system and a great bunch of characters that really make the story come together and alive. Each and every character is different and it feels like Edward Cox invested a lot of time and effort in them to let them come out the way they did, very humane and natural and you will grow attached to them. I must urge you to read The Relic Guild, it highly enjoyable and has some great bold idea's that Edward Cox brings to the front. It's is by far a standard fantasy story, so if you are looking for a something refreshing to read pick it up, if you are looking for a next read, pick it up. Well, make sure this book is the next thing that touches your hands, you don't want to miss out on it! BRING BOOK TWO! 

Read the full review here

Book Review: The Shadow Master

The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick, The Shadow Master #1

In a land riven with plague, inside the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control: the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation.

And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the familial warring – plots and schemes, and bides its time, ready for the moment to attack...

Assassination; ancient, impossible machines; torture and infamy – just another typical day in paradise.


When I was presented with a list of books that Angry Robot was publishing, I was immediately drawn by the cover of the book, doesn't that catch everyone's appeal? Reading the synopsis of The Shadow Master completely won me over, I like reading historical fantasy, especially set in the era of two of the greatest scientists ever. Leonardo and Galileo. add to this a plot line of assasinations and two warring families, what more do you want for an exciting read? The Shadow Master is written by Craig Cormick, though it is not his debut, as he he written various stories before, The Shadow Master is his first venture in the fantasy genre, and he does a very nice job at it!

The first thing that falls to note in The Shadow Master is the setting that Craig Cormick introduces the reader to. From above the names of Leonardo and Galileo shouldn't have escaped you, the story takes place in a Italy at around the Renaissance time, but nothing that has been described in the history books so far. It takes definitely more than just naming historical figures to make the setting of a book come to life, and this is exactly what Craig Cromick does very well. In building his world he doesn't rely on historical figures alone but when describing the surroundings of the world and the characters that inhabit it, they feel very real. This is definitely a strong point to the book as the narration and the writing style is very clear and clean. From the beginning of the book there is a nice pace that continues all the way until the end and it was for me just impossible to put this book down. Solid writing style. 

The story itself takes place mostly in the famed Walled City. People live withing the Walled City to keep safe from the bubonic plague that still haunts the outside of the city. The survivors of the plague, or let me rephrase that, the infected linger at the city walls posing a constant threat for the people that live inside. Within the Walled City there are two opposing families, The Medicis and the Lorraines, that constantly fight for power and control. Before several events they weren't really fighting more powerplay and politics, but just after leaving a Cathedral on of the family members of the Medicis, Giuliano Medici, is assassinated with a dagger in his back. immediately all the fingers are pointed towards the Lorraine family, who else would want and would dare to kill a well respect person? Giuliano's brother, Cosimo swears for revenge. But it soon proves that wanting and getting revenge isn't the same thing. 

Next to this you have a different storyline that focuses on two other members of the rival houses and which storyline imposes a view of the classic story of Romea and Juliet, but instead of their appearances you have Lucia Lorraine and Lorenzo, apprentice to Galileo, who in turn serves the house of Medici, I bet you can see where this is going. With the death of Giuliano, there frequency of being able to meet it drastically changed and both have to certain limits to be able to say hi to each other. But this all combined is only the start of a much bigger problem as two shadowy figure with a pronounced presence make an appearance, The Shadow Master and The Nameless One. In the end you will learn that both stories make up something, much, much bigger. 

This is the first story that I have read in a long time that shows a very nice depicting of the classical Romeo and Juliet theme. I have to give it to Craig Cormick that he created some very interesting and emotional characters when it came down to both Lucia and Lorenzo. They both are shown with the classic elements of their "predecessors" but have enough voice of their own to let them come out and shine. Lucia is the daughter of the Duke of Lorraine and normally those kind of young women are shown as brats as they have everything and are able to live the life of luxury. Lucia is in this way quite different, there is an important part in the story where something happens to her and instead of just sitting there and let destiny happen to her, she picks up her courage and decides to take her fate into her own hands. The same counts for Lorenzo, he also has to face a lot of challenges to overcome some of his own weaknesses. It's great to see the characters were build like this, though it was a bit predictable, you just cant go wrong with showing Lucia and Lorenzo this way in the backdrop of a classic Romeo and Juliet story. 

What really makes the story cool in my opinion were the introductions of The Shadow Master himself and The Nameless One, these shadowy presences really provoke you to think about what they really are and what they can do. If you thought that the city was rules by the houses of Medici and Lorraine, think again, much higher presences take to the stage here and seems that many people are being played into certain direction. I liked that Craig Cormick put a nice amount of time and focus on these presences, you learn a few things but there are some many unanswerable questions raised. And with this Craig Cormick also leaves the ending of The Shadow Master on quite the cliffhanger. Making you wish that you had the sequel already at hand!  

The Shadow Master is not your standard cup of tea but is just the book that I have come to learn that Angry Robot pubilshes, daring new ideas, often pretty bold but they do seem to work very well in the end, and in this The Shadow Master is no exception. The Shadow Master is one of the best written books that I have come across in a long time when you look at the narration and writing style that Craig Cormick uses it is just impossible to let this book down for just a few minutes. The whole idea behind the story of The Shadow Master again is something that I haven't enountered in a long while, yes I read fairy tale adaptations but a retelling of Romeo and Juliet wasn't something that I had dared to imagine. And lets above all not forget the ever presence of two of histories most adapt inventors: Da Vinci and Galileo. Pretty cool and Craig Cormick really knows how to build the right setting for the occasion. I have high hopes for the sequel.

Short Fiction Friday: The Angelus Guns

Short Fiction Friday: The Angelus Guns by Max Gladstone

During a celestial civil war, an angel-like soldier searches for her missing brother. 

If you now say the name Max Gladstone to people, they will immediately respond with Craft Sequence or one of the titles of his books. In the last few years max Gladstone has, for me, really put himself on the bookmap with his Craft Sequence, they are terrific reads and give a refreshing air to the current fantasy books. I was looking for short stories set in this series but couldn't find any instead I stumbled upon the single short story that I could find from him, The Angelus Guns and as you can see from the top, it has a very short introduction. It is often with only a single sentence that it proves to be less is more and by this it really piqued my interest. A celestial war and angel-like soldier. The Angelus Guns is quite something different from his Craft Sequence, written with a different style and of course theme. But as a short story delivers and leaves you wanting more. 

The story of The Angelus Guns picks up with focus on the soldier Thea. Thea's brother left to join in the revolution in The Crystal City and she decides to follow him. It's more of a plead of her mother to get Thea's brother and her son back. You learn that Thea herself was a warrior once but they choose to become Scholar and take the path of less violence. After a pretty weird elaboration a few days after their conversation Thea sets out but her mother catches up with her and gives a sword, that Thea should use when required. Now Thea is ready to search for her brother Gabe for good. But the path she chooses is far from straightforward as Thea has to make her way past several blockages. Even though they are all of one kind present in Crystal City not everyone wants to help Thea. After a search she does manage to catch up with Gabe but then it also proves hard to convince him to return home before the angelus guns ring, Gabe has set out with a quest, a quest where he will do anything to see it succeed.

The story of The Angelus Guns does feel like something much more is going on and that this could part of something much bigger. The start-up of the story comes a bit sudden and you are thrown directly into the depths of the it all. This did remind me a bit of Three Parts Dead as there are many bits and pieces that you have to find out for yourself. However this did make the story for me actually that much more interesting as Max Gladstone really puts the stress on your own imagination. He introduces some weird dealing with Thea and the angel like creatures: part-machine, part human. It's weird but lets you make up and interpret it in your own way as you don't get any explanation at all. And as I said, this is a good thing. 

The world that Max Gladstone builds in The Angelus Guns is to put it remarkable and still after having read the story it still sit their in the back of my mind playing tricks on me. It's unorthodox and just as what I have come to expect of max Gladstone, his stories are provocative and very engaging. But lets also not forget the writing style which is used to write The Angelus Guns, this again is something totally different, at least it feels different, from his other stories. It feels like poetry, perhaps this is bolstered by the limited descriptions of everything but it's just beautiful and readily makes you fall in love with it. Top stuff. 

I did see that The Angelus Guns got a lot of mixed review those that loved it and those that loves it. Well I am from the latter category. To be honest I had set my mind on reading something different than what I found in The Angelus Guns but it just comes down to this: similar with the Craft Sequence, you shouldn't make up what you expect to read, as Max Gladstone will keep on surprising you, instead embrace it from the first word and let it all sink in. The Angelus Guns is an unorthodox read that you will keep haunting you (in a good way) for a much longer time. Again Max Gladstone has proven that he is one of the best SFF author currently out there.

You can read the full story by following this link

Book Review: The Relic Guild

The Relic Guild by Edward Cox

Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us.

It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls a hundred feet high.

Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh.

The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth – and the lives of one million humans – Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.


Another cracking debut brought to you by Gollancz. They have published some very exciting debuts so far with The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick, The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs and this month with The Relic Guild from Edward Cox. The thing that got my attention piqued was the mentioning of of course magic but also the reference of Thaumaturgy, this directly reminded me of China Mievelle and another great debut, Unwrapped Sky that I read earlier this year. All highly enjoyable reads. As I already mentioned The Relic Guild is the debut of Edward Cox, prior to writing The Relic Guild he wrote various short stories. 

The Relic Guild picks up with the story of Clara Peppercorn, a girl who is on the run for escape. Clara has a special ability that you learn later on, she is marked as a very valuable asset, she gets rescued by persons from the Relic Guild. But with this rescue do come a whole lot of other things and that is becoming part of the Relic Guild. After this point the story splits into two separate narrations one that takes place in the current time line and the other takes you back 40 years prior and shows what just what happened and how and why magic got banned in the world. The war was fought between Fabian Moor one of the most powerful Thaumaturges that wanted to pick a fight with the Timewatcher. Early on you did learn that Fabian Moor was defeated by the Relic Guild and banned for good. Well if only. as in the present story line you learn that not everything that you think you locked away for good remains locked away. Troubles are brewing in Labrys Town as, yes, Fabian Moor is making a reintroduction with only one, no, two goals in mind. First: destroy the Relic Guild and second: free his master Lord Spiral. 

I really enjoyed reading the story of The Relic Guild, this is far from your ordinary fantasy story. Edward Cox has created a very unique setting. Too be completely honest when I first read about The Relic Guild I thought it would play part in a more earthy urban environment instead of a completely self envisioned world, don't know how I got to this thought though. But back to the story. All the different elements that Edward Cox shows and utilizes in his story from building his world (which is amazing Ill get to it in a bit), his interpratation of magic and Thaumaturgy and the different characters all work together to bring this story to a new height. 

So for the world. This is pretty awesome. Edward Cox has created a truly one-of-a-kind world. Imagine well. The central place wherein the story takes place is called Labrys Town but during the last war, Labrys town lies at the hearth of a vast labyrinth and was once the place to live an thrive but in the last war this place was sealed off by invisible barriers. They have picked up life once again. Labrys Town is being governed by The Resident a powerful and all knowing person, this guy remains a lot in the background for the people and is perhaps more known a a presence via for example the magical globes he is able to send around town to gather information. The Resident also stand at the head of the Relic Guild. It is in describing the events and surroundings of Labrys Town that I got a definite labyrinthine feeling, often there was only one direction or way towards a goal and it wasn't in particular the one with the least resistance. Added to this come the concepts of the Aelfirian Houses. Complete realms that stand on their own and which have some amazing names. The world that Edward Cox managed to inspire is one that will make you want to just sit there stop reading and just dream away with endless possibilities but also one that inspires a definite doom and nefarious and often very real claustrophobic feeling. 

As for the characters that feature in The Relic Guild, I have already mentioned The Resident, he goes by the name of Van Bam. I liked the idea of what The Resident is and what he can do, one very cool thing was the fact that the current Resident is always in direct link with the past, deceased Resident, they are able to commune with each other, is there a better way of learning your role? Van Bam is blind, but able to see more than perfectly clear with his mind eye, so he doesn't encounter any inhibition with it in his work, armed with his cane he is more than a force to be reckoned with. Next up there is a very powerful empath Marney. Being an empath means that she is able to exploit and influence human emotions. I don't think I have read a story yet where such a magic takes place and especially the interpretation of empathy. Marney's empath magic allowes her for example to block feelings of hurt and makes her in turn resistant to any torture method, because when you can't feel it, you won't react. But given this, it does require a lot of effort to focus and when it does get to much... even this magic won't be able to save you.You also have a close right hand of Van Bam, the gunslinging bounty hunter Samuel. Sam also has a special gift, one that gives him an edge when it comes down to fighting and can perhaps be best described as an spider sense. He known just when the action will take place. I liked reading about Sam in particular because he is a guy who does what is needed when it is needed and doesn't sit around and mope about how tough it is, it is him that you want to have as your back-up plan. Then there is also the old Hamir, a necromancer, his gift should be self explanatory, lets just say his gifts wont cure you, Hamir is a wise old guy, it is not really that he is deceiving anyone by not telling but he knows a lot, and his years have taught him that you really have to be careful just what you reveal and tell to others... 

And then last but definitely not least you have Peppercorn Clara, the one child who defies everything. She is the first born within the barriers of Labrys Town that has a magic gift. Is she the bringer of good news? or a downfall? When I first was confronted with her profession, that of being a prostitute I was a bit like wow, ok... You learn that she is good at her job but I am always a bit off put by such bold introduction and luckily Edward Cox does make it ebb more into the background instead of letting it be a focus. Edward Cox uses Clara's character in a very nice way, he uses her to show all the details of the Relic Guild and hereby reveals a lot of the history because as the latest recruit of the Relic Guild you do have to learn everything. I always like it when a story is told this way as it greatly reliefs the moments of information dumps and let everything about the dynamics of the world and histories of the character come over as a natural flow. As for Clara's character, she really grows into her role as the latest member, she comes to terms with her own powers that of being able to shapeshift, which at one time she was terrified of, she now starts to embrace and sees it as a way to only make her stronger. I already have high hopes for her for the continuation of the series.

With Fabian Moor, Edward Cox introduces a nefarious presence and what better way to show what their intentions really are than by dedicating parts of the story to them. I have said in many times before but will repeat myself, showing the inner thoughts of the plans of the bad guys in a book, when done in a good way, work wonders for me. And this is precisely what Edward Cox manages to do in The Relic Guild. he clearly wants to show that Fabian and his Genii have some deadly plans in store for the Relic Guild. It was a pleasure to read just how Van Bam and the Relic Guild was thinking and plotting and then seeing the focus on Fabian and his Genii and how they were plotting really nicely done. Top stuff.

But then The Relic Guild sadly draws to an end and well what an end. All I can say is WHY!? Why put my through a year of torment for the sequel! The ending that Edward Cox introduces will get you fired up for the sequel and really leaving you with an urge just to travel to his doorstep and force book two out of him. It's gonna be awesome I know it will.

The Relic Guild is an awesome book and that doesn't even come close. In the saturated fantasy genre as an author you really have to bring your A game if you want to break through and for me Edward Cox has delivered this. The whole setting of The Relic Guild and here I mean mainly the world building with Labrys Town and the way it is all described is very provocative and Edward Cox leaves enough for you to think about it for yourself. Then you have the interesting magic system and a great bunch of characters that really make the story come together and alive. Each and every character is different and it feels like Edward Cox invested a lot of time and effort in them to let them come out the way they did, very humane and natural and you will grow attached to them. I must urge you to read The Relic Guild, it highly enjoyable and has some great bold idea's that Edward Cox brings to the front. It's is by far a standard fantasy story, so if you are looking for a something refreshing to read pick it up, if you are looking for a next read, pick it up. Well, make sure this book is the next thing that touches your hands, you don't want to miss out on it! BRING BOOK TWO!

Author interview with Ian C. Esslemont



Author interview with Ian C. Esslemont

author bio:
Ian Cameron Esslemont was born in 1962 in Winnipeg, Canada. He has a degree in Creative Writing, studied and worked as an archaeologist, travelled extensively in South East Asia, and lived in Thailand and Japan for several years. He now lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, with his wife and children and is currently working on his PhD in English Literature.

Ian C. Esslemont and Steven Erikson co-created the Malazan world in 1982 as a backdrop for role-playing games. In 1991 they collaborated on a feature film script set in the same world, entitled Gardens of the Moon. When the script did not sell, Erikson greatly expanded the story and turned it into a novel.  


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Hi Ian, Welcome over to the Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few questions for us.

BP: First off, could you give us a short introduction as to who Ian C. Esslemont is? What are you hobbies, likes and dislikes?
IE: Hello Jasper and Book Plank readers.  Thank you for the opportunity to discuss all things Malaz.  So, who am I?  Well, right now when I’m not writing or reading I’m raising boys or cutting wood to help heat my house here in Alaska.  As a hobby I’m very interested in electronic music as a genre and have educated myself in its history and development.  As to likes … Fantasy and SF of course.  One of my personal favourite sub-genres in fantasy literature and film is post-apocalyptic tales, and so I do hate the current piling-on we are seeing in these recently. 

BP: You have been writing for many years now, do you still know when and where you decided that you wanted to become an author?
IE:  I have always wanted to be a writer – secretly of course – as it wasn’t something one confessed to in school. As a teenager I had an old typewriter in my room that I bashed away at hammering out pseudo- R. E. Howard, Leiber, and H. R. Haggard short stories.  I even told my high school guidance counselor that I wanted to be a novelist.  His answer was: no, you can’t. 

BP: You are the co-creator with Steven Erikson of the Malazan Empire universe. What gave you the inspiration behind the world of Malazan?
IE:  Steve and I have been very up-front about how the world developed as the milieu for our gaming.  Early on we decided to develop the sort of fantasy world we’d like to see if we had our way.  Malaz was the result.  Now, nothing emerges out of nothing.  We were of course influenced by our readings in the genre.  We took what we liked and discarded the rest.  The authors behind our writings are many.  I’ve mentioned a number already.  We always offer a special shout-out to Glen Cook, Fritz Leiber, Karl Edward Wagner, Tim Powers, and Stephen R. Donaldson, just to name a few. 


BP: The Malazan world was created in 1982, but your first book Night of Knives was published in 2004, why was there this gap?
IE:   Life, man.  Life intervened.  We had to pursue careers.  First it was archaeology, then academia in creative writing and English literature.  I was far along towards the professorial track as a Nineteenth-Century expert in English lit when Bantam emailed to say that they’d take on Knives.  At that moment I faced a choice: keep on with pursuing a secure, predictable job as an English Lit. drone / adjunct lecturer, or jump into the unknown scary world of writing.  Well, not much of a contest in that writing was always closest to my heart. 



BP: The Malazan Empire series you are writing falls in between the Malazan Empire of The Fallen series of Steven Erikson. How did you and Steven decide who would write which part and how? Many of the characters do make an appearance in both books.
IE:  Steve and I divvied things up fairly early on.  We always knew, unofficially, who would be responsible for which tales and regions.  Nowadays, if he or I want to take on something new, we just have to talk it over.  As to characters – each plot has its requirements to tell its tale fully, and, if I find that the thematics demand one certain character, then I let Steve know and we discuss it.  The answer from either of us is always: go for it! 

BP: Did you feel any added pressure from the success of the Malazan Empire of the Fallen Books when you were writing the Malazan Empire books?
IE:  Actually, no, I did not.  As an author, that the books were to be published was success enough.  Anything after this is pure icing, as they say. 

BP: Picking up such a task could not have been easy, how did you went about and plan writing Night of Knives and the subsequent sequels?
IE:  Night of Knives and most of the rest were already planned out – in a broad sense – long before any success in the series.  Steve and I had gamed most of it!  He ran me as a player through the events of Knives, while I had run him through the events of Gardens of the Moon
     Of course this is not to say that it was all drawn and dry beforehand.  Rather, the main skeleton of events were known while we each then had a free hand in filling it all in. 

BP: The character cast is enormous in the Malazan books, how do you keep track of each and every character?
IE: You may be horrified to hear that we actually do not keep very close tabs on such things.  We’re neither of us detail-oriented in recordkeeping.  Rather, we go with our instincts on who’s needed, or not, and then hunt them up. 

BP: The Malazan world was opted for a filmscript early on, are there still or are there future plans to turn it into a series or film? Do you have any actors that you would like to see play a specific character?
IE:  Picking actors is way to far ahead of the curve right now.  Yes, various scripts have been optioned in the past.  But right now we’re not looking at any offers in film.  Though we would certainly like to, especially given the success of Game of Thrones.  Gaming, however, remains a possibility.  We are looking into that. 


BP: Did you encounter any specific problems while you were writing any of the Malazan Empire books?
IE:  Problems, hmm.  Well, I suppose the main problem was syncing with Steve on where he was with his books as I proceeded with mine.  We had to constantly check with each other to make certain we weren’t treading on each other’s heels, or creating continuity problems.  There are some trip-ups, but overall, I’d say we’ve done a pretty good job in keeping things straight – given that we’re dealing with more than three million words. 

BP: What was the hardest part in writing the Malazan Empire books?
IE:  Just as above, keeping everything in order and on track.

BP: Besides the hardest part, which chapter or scene or character did you enjoy writing about the most?
IE:  Just writing them is the enjoyable part.  Being able to do so is fantastic.  Best job in the world, as far as I’m concerned.  As for personal favourites, well, I suppose the Losts in Assail were particularly fun.  I’ve had a soft spot for them ever since Return of the Crimson Guard

BP: This will be undoubted a hard question: Who is your favorite character?
IE:  Man, I’m not supposed to answer that. Can’t have a favourite child, and all.  Kellanved, though, remains a lot of fun, and a real challenge. 

BP: The last book in the Malazan Empire series, Assail, was published last August. If you would have to sell it with a single sentence, how would it go?
IE:  Hmm.  Well, I suppose I would sell it as a major summation of a number of the largest of the Malazan world plot/arcs. 

BP: If you would be given the chance to make one final adjustment to Assail, would you do so? If yes which part and why?
IE:   Too early yet to look back to consider any changes.  When one finishes a novel one always feels just great about it.  As the years pass, however, most artists tend to see the mistakes and warts and begin to wonder why they made this or that choice – I’m definitely of that camp. 

BP: Now that you have finished the Malazan Empire series with Assail, do you have any other projects that you wish to pursue in the near future? Will there be more Malazan books?
IE:  I believe it’s out of the bag now that I’m under contract for three more Malaz novels.  These will be going back to the genesis of the empire, and Kellanved’s and Dancer’s beginnings. The first is titled, Dancer’s Lament

BP: Everyone enjoys science fiction and fantasy in their own way, what do you like most about it?
IE:  What I enjoy in these genres is that one is not constrained by the narrow conventions of contemporary literary fiction.  In SF, for example, the real work gets done of extrapolating current trends and looking ahead to where we as human beings might be headed.  In fantasy, we see the past explored as it nakedly was (when it’s done right).  The realm of fantasy (as a pre-industrial revolution setting) is in fact the vast majority of human existence.  We’ve been pre-technological for millions of years, and so it’s our natural state.  From this point of view, fantasy is currently the only genre probing humans as we truly are. 


BP: if you would have to give your top 5 favorite books, which would they be?
IE:  Yikes. Top F&SF books that I find I return to over and over, that sustain rereading … well, a few of my personal favourites would be Iain M. Banks  Consider Phlebas, Tim Powers The Drawing of the Dark, Robert E. Howard Conan, William Gibson Neuromancer, and Frank Herbert Dune.  As to a non-f&sf list, as an epic fantasy writer I must also put in a recommendation for Rudyard Kipling Kim, Robert Louis Stevenson Treasure Island, and, of course, Beowulf.   It has just occurred to me that this is a very male-dominated list.  So, if you want to read some really daring fantasy, hunt down anything by Angela Carter. 

BP: And just lastly, could you give us a sneak peek of your series and Assail for those who are not familiar with it?
IE:  Hmm.  Okay.  If you want to read some gritty, dark, realistic epic fantasy that doesn’t insult your intelligence, that doesn’t look away from the depths, or the heights, of human the human condition, then look into the Malaz series.  


BP: thank you very much for your time Ian and good luck with your future projects!
IE:  Many thanks Jasper!  It has been a pleasure. All the best to you and your readers.   
I C Esslemont. 



Book Review: Created, the Destroyer

Created, the Destroyer by Warren Murphy and Richard Ben Sapir, The Destroyer #1

Sentenced to death for a crime he didn't commit, ex-cop Remo Williams is rescued from the electric chair at the eleventh hour and recruited by a secret government organisation named CURE. From this moment, he ceases to officially exist.

From now on, he will be an assassin, targeting criminals who are beyond the law. Remo's trainer is a grouchy old Korean named Chiun, whose mastery of the terrifyingly powerful martial art of Sinanju makes him the deadliest man alive.

Together Remo and Chiun set forth on their epic, impossible mission to vanquish every enemy of democracy - every bad guy who thinks they can escape justice.
This is a new era in man's fight against the forces of evil.

This is the time of the Destroyer.

Last month I send out a media alert with an upcoming blog tour featuring this book, Created, The Destroyer. The Destroyer series was originally published back in 1971, and this year
Little Brown & Co has decided to reissuing all the books published so far in The Destroyer series in ebook format. The series is written by Warren Murphy, who also wrote the screenplay of several movies likes Lethal Weapon 2, and Richard Ben Sapir who wrote besides this series also several non-destroyer related books. I am a big fan of these kind of assassin - secret agent kind of books: think Mission Impossible, James Bond or The Bourne Trilogy.  

Created, The Destroyer picked up in a most interesting kind of way, normally agents are recruited because their excel in what they do, top of the class or have shown other remarkable skills. The protagonist of this story is recruited in a quite different kind of way. Remo Williams has faced early retirement in terms of facing the electric chair, all for a crime that he didn't commit...Everything is being prepped to deliver Remo one final jolt, but what Remo doesn't know is that several people from higher up have different plans in store for him this leads in eventuality to that his encounter with the electric chair is being rigged. Remo from this point on is presumed dead. But this is only the start of his new career as what better assassin could you wish then someone who has died and doesn't have anything that ties him to his past, a completely free man able to do what ever he is asked to do. Since Remo was a normal street cop he does have to be schooled in the ways of assassination. The schooling he receives is in many different types of martial arts by the old Korean Master Chiun, by this he becomes the most valuable asset to CURE. 

The story of Created, The Destroyer has everything that you want to see in a first book in a series. As the name of the book already implies, the created aspect mean that Remo is being created as the agent of CURE. And with becoming an agent, also come missions and his first mission that features in Created the Destroyer is to hunt and take down Maxwell but whether this is a person or a much larger something like a shadowing organization remains to be seen. With Remo being completely new on the job and with few leads to follow, he must do everything to remain the last person standing. Or truly be presumed dead. 


I have to say that I highly enjoyed the story of Created, The Destroyer and when I come to think of it, this book was first publised back in 1971 so basically this book didn't have that much to steal from and comparing it to some of the current crimer - thriller books, this was a quite unqiue concept back than. Also Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir did a nice job in letting the main protagonist Remo stand out. What I normally like to see is that when you have these sudden career changes is that you see them occur gradually and this is preceisely what is done to Remo, from the beginning of the book right down to the end of it you see him grow and develop into the perfect "cure". (no pun intended). I also liked to read about the Korean Martial Arts master he is a bit like the Mr. Miyagi of Karate Kid really cool but not one you want to have on the wrong side of you. 

The action of Created, The Destroyer is very cool and intense and exactly something that you want to see featured in a crime book. There are several shoot outs and fighting scenes that will linger in the back of your mind for quite sometime. What makes them enjoyable to read is that all the action scenes are bolstered by the characters and their emotions making them come out that much better. 

My only objection to Created, The Destroyer, is the writing style. When I read the first few pages I was hooked, the scene with the electric chairs was pretty cool, but as soon as Remo was concripted into CURE it felt like the writing style suffered a bit in a sluggish way that tended to put a drag on several dialogues. Not really making the story easy to get into and continue reading it. It could also be the fact that the writing style isn't something that features in the current fiction books that are being published.

Created, The Destroyer, is an action packed crime book that has one of the best opening chapters that I have come across, highly inventive and just very cool. The main protagonist that is introduced by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, Remo Williams, is an unlikely of heroes and is defeinitely not used to being the only solution left standing for problems. His personal conviction of that he was to die in the chair and the emotional side that was offered to you as a reader was very nicely put that that directly made you feel for him. And as the story continues you learn that life as a CURE agent is far from easy, as Remo is put to the test again and again. Despite the writing style that made it a bit hard to really dig into the story, Created, The Destroyer is still a very good read and with only a pagecount of 200ish makes it the perfect afternoon read!