Category Archives: Matt Forbeck

What’s Next

I’ve got almost all of the stuff out of the old house we didn’t have time to pack before we moved.  One more night (~1.5 hrs) should get the rest of it.  Then maybe I can get back to reading, writing, and blogging.  I’ve been reading a novel by Scott Fitzgerald Gray for about a week and a half, which is a long time for this novel.  It’s good, and I’m really enjoying it.  It’s just that I haven’t had much time to read lately, and when I do, my aging body betrays me by going to sleep in spite of my best efforts to finish one more chapter. 

I’m hoping to make it to Fencon this weekend.  It was looking like a done deal, but some things have come up.  I think I’ll still make it.  I really need the break.

Afterwards, I’ve got a novel to read that’s been sitting in the queue for way too long , followed by A Guile of Dragons by James Enge.  This one will have a giveaway associated with it.  After that, although not necessarily this order will be Hard Times in Dragon City by Matt Forbeck, Steel and Sorrow by Joshua P. Simon, and The Black God’s War by Moses Siregar III.  I’ll also be weaving some anthologies and periodicals in the mix as well as a small backlog of titles from Angry Robot that I wasn’t able to read when I intended because of the move. 

All of this is tentative of course, but that’s the general plan.

Recommendations from the First Half of 2012

There have been a lot of lists posted or published, depending on the format, in the last few weeks, claiming to enumerate the best books/stories/graphic novels/dirty limericks/ransom notes/whathaveyou from the first half of 2102.  To which, I say, yeah, right.  Unless these lists were compiled by committee, no one person could have read enough novels to say their list is the best.  And if the list were put together by committee, well, we all know what too often comes out of committee.

Now I’m not saying those lists don’t have value, just the title “Best” is misleading.  So I’m going to call the list that follows simply my recommendations for the first half of 2012.

First, a couple of ground rules.  I’m going to limit myself to novels, and with one or two exceptions which were self-published, novels published in 2012.  I’m making an exception for the self-published novels because they sometimes need a little time to develop some momentum.  Anyone paying attention to the trade publishers should be aware of forthcoming novels.

I’m also going to take the coward’s way out and not try to rank them.  I started to, but quickly ran into the issue of trying to decide between two books I thoroughly loved but for entirely different reasons.  I could bite the bullet and give them rankings, but tomorrow I’d probably change my mind.  Instead the books will be listed alphabetically by title.

So here are my recommendations from the first half of 2012, along with an occasional cheeky synopsis.  If more than one book in a series came out in the first part of the year, I’ve only listed the first book.
Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig  This is short, dark, compulsively readable tale of a young woman who can see the death of any person she touches through the eyes of that person.  One day she touches a man and sees herself present at his death.  Review here.

Carpathia by Matt Forbeck  The Carpathia was the ship which rescued the survivors of the Titanic.  What if there were vampires onboard?  Review here.

Crazy Greta by David A. Hardy  I called this the book John Bunyan would have written if he had been dropping acid while writing The Pilgrim’s Progress.  I stand by that statement.  Review here.

Feyland by Anthea Sharp  An entertaining and well-written young adult novel about what happens when the immersive computer game becomes a little too real.  Review here

Giant Thief by David Tallerman  So this kleptomaniac steals this giant, see?  Then he gets roped into being the hero against this warlord.  The only problem is his sticky fingers keep getting him in trouble.  Review here.

Hunter and Fox by Philippa Ballantine  An emotionally wounded woman serves as a hunter for a tyrant in a world in which the landscape changes on a regular basis.  Review here.

The Hammer and the Blade by Paul S. Kemp  Two thieves kill a demon while robbing a tomb.  Only the demon has powerful friends…A great adventure that reminded me of why I read sword and sorcery in the first place.  Review here.

Rise and Fall by Joshua P. Simon  An epic fantasy about duty, honor, family, and the ties that bind.  An impressive debut.  Review here.

Shadow Ops:  Control Point by Myke Cole  A world in which those with magical abilities are either drafted into covert military teams or exterminated and what happens when one man says, “Enough is enough.”  Review here.

Shadow’s Master by Jon Sprunk  The conclusion of a dark trilogy about a man who is heir to the shadows seeking to learn who he is.  Review here.

The Straits of Galahesh by Bradley P. Beaulieu Flying ships, astral projection, Machiavellian politics, an invading army, and a doomsday cult trying to bring about the end of the world.  In the midst of this, can two crazy kids find true love?  Review here.

Thief’s Covenant by Ari Marmell  Another YA, but with a dark edge.  Widdershins is a thief who has minor deity living in her head.  One of the most fun books I’ve read in a while in spite of the dark content.  Review here.

Sailing on the Carpathia

Matt Forbeck
Angry Robot Books
1 March 2012
384pp B-format paperback, £7.99

28 February 2012
384pp trade paperback
$12.99 US / $14.99 CAN

28 February 2012, £4.49

That movie by James Cameron a few years back kind of cooled my interest in the Titanic.  Matt Forbeck has rekindled it.  It seems the shipwreck was only the beginning.  The real nightmare started after the Carpathia picked up the survivors.  The ship was infested with vampires trying to return to the safety of the  old world.  Can you say smorgasbord?  Now why couldn’t Cameron have filmed that part of the story?  It would have made a much more interesting movie than that sappy love story.  Oh, well.  To each his own.

This is the story of Quentin Harker, Abe Holmwood, and Lucy Seward (perhaps you’ve heard of their parents?), who are traveling to America.  Abe and Lucy, engaged to be married, will travel the continent until Lucy starts college in the fall, at which time Abe will return home to England and wait for his bride-to-be to finish school.  Quin will seek employment in a law firm in New York. 

Except it’s not that simple.  Quin is in love with Lucy.  This love story is much more interesting than the one in the movie.  Then the ship hits the iceberg.  You probably know this part of the story.  Of course, all three are rescued. 

That’s when the fun starts.  There are a number of vampires who are returning to Eastern Europe, where they feel it’s safer than New York.  Some of them have gotten careless and drawn attention to themselves.  This has created a bit of a power struggle in the ranks, with the leader Dushko Dragovich being challenged by the upstart Brody Murtagh.  Of course there’s a female vampire stirring things up.  (I told you this love story was more interesting than the one in the movie.)

HMS Carpathia

The chapters are short, lending a sense of urgency to the story.  Forbeck shifts the viewpoint between multiple characters, major and minor, human and vampire, while keeping the focus on the trio.  The dialogue is sharp and crisp, witty and fast paced.  The chapters focusing on Lucy, Quin, and Abe read like we’re eavesdropping on long time friends, each with his or her own distinct personality. Even the red shirt characters are more than just cardboard cutouts; although brief, each is given a backstory.

The imagery is often creepy.  The scene towards the end, with the hold full of sleeping vampires, was especially effective.  These are not the angst-ridden, pedophilic vampires of Twilight fame who glitter in sunlight.  These are, if you’ll pardon the expression, the real deal.  They sunburn easily.

Comparisons with Jasper Kent’s Danilov Chronicles are probably inevitable.  I’m a huge fan of Kent’s work (see my reviews here, here, and here), and I have to say this book holds up well against them while blazing its own trail. It’s a fine addition to the subgenre of historical vampire fiction.

That’s not to say the book isn’t without its flaws.  I thought the ending was a little over the top, although I loved the way the romantic triangle was resolved.  (Much more interesting than the movie.) 

In the chapters in which the Titanic is sinking, Forbeck gives a number of famous people who were aboard cameos.  I’m okay with that; the temptation to do so would be too great to refrain.  The one famous person who has more than a cameo is Molly Brown, nicknamed “Unsinkable” for her habit of sailing on ships destined to sink while not going down with the ship herself.  She and Lucy end up in the same lifeboat.  Once they are on the Carpathia, Ms. Brown is never heard from again.  This I have a problem with.  Forbeck departs enough from recorded history that I don’t understand why he didn’t include Molly Brown in the rest of the story.

That’s a minor point, though.  Overall, this was a highly enjoyable vampire novel, enough so that I’d be willing to read more of Forbeck’s work, and one I recommend if you like traditional vampires.  The book hits shelves and is available for download next week.  Look for it.

The Next Week or So

I’m getting over a sinus infection at the moment, something that isn’t helped by the dust and the wind here on the South Plains.  Unless something major happens tomorrow, I probably won’t be posting anything new until Sunday night or more probably Monday evening.  I’ll be attending ConDFW this weekend and will give a full report when I get back.  I’m also reading Mark Finn‘s updated biography of Robert E. Howard, Blood and Thunder, and Matt Forbeck‘s Carpathia.  They’re both great reads, and I’ll review them next week.  I had hoped to finish one of them in time to write a review before the con, but being sick has slowed me down some.

In the meantime, this Saturday will see the first guest post here.  Author Ty Johnston is doing a blog tour to promote his new book, Demon Chains, the latest in his Kron Darkbow series.  I’d like to thank Ty in advance for his column.  I’ve read it, and it’s good.  Check it out.  And if you haven’t read any of his books, start with City of Rogues, which I reviewed a few months ago.

Coming up after the report on ConDFW, I’ve got commitments to review (not necessarily in this order) Shadow’s Master by Jon SprunkThief’s Covenant by Ari Marmell, The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle, Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig, Trang by Mary Sisson, and Rise and Fall by Joshua P. Simon.  I’ll probably look at some short fiction in the midst of all that, plus the occasional essay.