Monthly Archives: July 2015

John C. Wright Channels Narnia

one birght star to guide themOne Bright Star to Guide Them
John C. Wright
Castalia House
ebook $2.99

I’ve not read all of the Narnia books (I’m sorry! I will correct this defect in my reading ASAP.) I have read enough of them to see the influence of the Narnia books in this novella by John C. Wright.

What we have here isn’t a pastiche. You won’t find Peter or Lucy or Aslan or any of the other characters from C. S. Lewis’ classic fantasy in these pages. But their presence permeates the book.

Tommy is a single middle aged man. He’s just been given a promotion, and after celebrating a little too much that night, he drops his keys into the rose bush beside his steps while trying to unlock the door. After fumbling for them in the dark, he looks at the statue of St. George in the churchyard across the street to help him find “the key that I have lost”. What he pulls out of the bush is a black cat with a silver key about it’s neck. Continue reading

The Traitor’s Blade Cuts Deep

traitor's bladeTraitor’s Blade
Sebastien de Castell
Paperback $14.99
Ebook $9.99

Traitor’s Blade is the first volume of Sebastien de Castell’s new grimdark fantasy series. His first novel, it’s a smashing debut. I can understand why it was shortlisted for the David Gemmell Morningstar Award for best first fantasy novel. It’s the one I’m pulling for.

Here’s the setup. Falcio Val Mond grew up dreaming of the legendary Greatcoats and being a hero. If you look up “idealist” in the dictionary, his picture would be there. But the Greatcoats were disbanded decades ago.

Then a combination tragedy and a new king lead to Falcio becoming the first of the new Greatcoats. This king wants to reign in the excesses of the Dukes. If you look up the word “evil” in the dictionary, their pictures will be there. (When I called this novel a grimdark fantasy, I wasn’t kidding.) The Dukes rebel. The King’s last command is for the Greatcoats to stand down and not resist the rebellion. They just need to find the king’s Charoites. He calls them a type of jewel, but that’s all he’ll say. Finding them will not be easy when Falcio has no idea where to start looking or even what they are.

The novel opens five years after the king’s death. Falcio and two of his companions from the now disgraced Greatcoats are bodyguards for a major caravan master when he is murdered and they are framed for the murder. For some reason, the city guard don’t believe a naked woman killed the man in such a brutal manner. Continue reading

Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward Start Conan Read Through

If you aren’t reading Howard Andrew Jones’ blog, then you’ve been missing some good posts.  He and Bill Ward have been reading through works by major fantasy authors for about a year now and discussing them.  They started with a couple of collections by Lord Dunsany and then moved on to Swords Against Darkness and Swords in the Mist, two Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser collections by Fritz Leiber.  Each week they’ve discussed the story they’ve read and invited anyone interested in doing so to read along with them.

Today Howard postedComing of Conan a wrap-up of Swords in the Mist and a discussion of their next project.  This will be The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian.  Today’s post was mostly about Conan, not so much about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.  Next week they discuss Howard’s essay “The Hyborian Age” before launching into the stories themselves.

If you’re a Howard fan, or just a Conan fan, you should check it out.

New BAF Post on The Young Magicians

Young MagiciansI’ve got a new BAF post up at Black Gate.

This one is on The Young Magicians, the second anthology of the series that Lin Carter edited.  It’s a companion to Dragons, Elves, and Heroes.  This one starts at William Morris and continues up to what was then the present day (1969).  Included are selections by Lovecraft, Smith, Howard, Kuttner, Merritt. and de Camp, as well as Lin Carter himself.

Reminder: Voting Deadline for Gemmell Awards is Friday

legendawardsnaga-196x300Just a reminder to those of you who are interested but haven’t yet voted, that the deadline to cast your ballots for the David Gemmell Awards is midnight, Friday, July 17.

There are three awards, the Legend (best novel), the Morningstar (best first novel), and the Ravenheart (best cover illustration).  That’s the trophy for the Legend Award  there on the right.  It’s a life size model of the axe Snaga.  How cool is that?

Anyway, you’ve only got a couple of days left if you haven’t voted and want to.

RIP, Tom Piccirilli

Apologies for this being so short.  I am on the road and posting from my phone.  Ed Gorman is reporting that Richard Chizmar informed him this morning that Tom Piccirilli has died. Piccirilli had been battling brain cancer for several years.  I first read Piccirilli a couple of years ago and liked what I’d read.  There are at least three of his works in my TBR pile.  Adventures Fantastic extends deepest condolences to Mr. Piccirilli’s family, friends, and fans.

Has it Really Been That Long Since I Posted?

I guess it has.  Time flies, whether you’re having fun or not.  The Fourth was laid back.  My wife took a few days off from work to visit her parents, and my son went with her.  Since I had classes starting while she was gone, I stayed here and had the house to myself, just me and the dogs.

Things have been hectic at work.  Classes started on Tuesday, and I still had seven teaching assistant slots to fill before labs started on Wednesday.  That number went up before it went down, but all the positions are filled and all the labs are covered.  I’ve got a good group of students in the course I’m teaching.  Summer students tend to be of higher quality than the general student population, and that seems to be particularly true about this bunch.  My class is every day from 8:00 to 9:50 in the morning, and they’ve done a great job of showing up on time and awake.  I wonder if the quiz I started class with on Wednesday had anything to do with it….

Age of IronAnyway, I’ve been a bit distracted, but I’m working on some things.  I’m reading Age of Iron by Angus Watson, which is up for a Gemmell Morningstar Award.  I’ve not gotten far, so I’m reserving any comments for the review.  I’m also reading for my next BAF post at Black Gate.  This is the Lin Carter edited anthology The Young Magicians.  Now that I’ve made it through the James Branch Cabell story, I should make better progress on it.

So unless something happens, I’m probably not going to have much to post about until next week.

Bradley Beaulieu Knocks it Out of the Park

Twelve Kings in SharakhaiTwelve Kings in Sharakhai
Bradley P. Beaulieu
DAW Books
Hardcover $24.95, ebook $9.99, audiobook $14.68
Available September 1, 2015

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Bradley P. Beaulieu.  So when he asked me if I would be interested in an advance ebook for review purposes, there was only one answer.  (Many thanks, sir.)

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai is the first volume in The Song of Shattered Sands.  It’s an ambitious book, and it’s clear that the series is going to be ambitious.

Now, I’ve long said that writers, in an ideal world at least, should continue to improve and get better as time goes on.  If the quality of the first book is any indication, this is going to be a major series.  I loved The Lays of Anaskaya, but The Song of Shattered Sands looks to be even better.

I’ll explain why after I give you a brief description of the setup. Continue reading