Tag Archives: Pyr Books

All Good Covenants Must Come to an End

Covenants EndCovenant’s End
Ari Marmell
Hardcover, 250 p., $17.99
ebook $11.99

Ari Marmell begins the Author’s Afterward to Covenant’s End with these words: “Some of you hate me right now.”

He’s a perceptive man.

Although I have to say he wrapped up this series the only way he could.

This book is another example of why Pyr has made my list of publishers to read each year.  I wasn’t able to work in everything they provided review copies of last year.  I’m going to try to do better this year.  They publish some cool stuff.

Covenant’s End is the fourth and final adventure of Widdershins.  In this one she returns home to Davillon.  The city is under siege from within.  Widdershin’s old enemy Lissette has come back and taken over the Finder’s Guild.  She is intent on taking over, and she’s recruited some very powerful and evil allies to help her. Continue reading

2014 in the Rear View Mirror

And good riddance to it. But before I get to that, here’s a quick rundown of the publishers I thought had the best overall lines in 2014. Rather than do multiple posts across all the blogs, I’ll list everything here.

I received more review copies than I was able to read this year.  I would like to thank everyone, large publisher or individual, who sent me something to review.  I apologize if I didn’t get to it.  Personal factors also cut into my reading more than I would prefer.  Still, I managed to read quite a bit from a number of different publishers.  What follows is a list of who had some of the best overall material in 2014 with a brief commentary.  These are trade publishers, not indie publishers.  In most cases, I’ll not discuss individual titles. Nor will I do a best books list.  I wasn’t able to read as many titles as I wanted, and as a result there are some glaring omissions in what I did read.

The list is in alphabetical order, not ranked. Continue reading

When October Goes

Layout 1Now that Halloween is over, I’m going to shift gears a bit.  Time to return to more sword and sorcery here at Adventures Fantastic.  Or at least solid adventure fantasy.  I’ve already started reading Shattered Shields, edited by Jennifer Brozek and Bryan Thomas Schmidt, which hits shelves on Tuesday.  I don’t know if I’ll have the review up by the release date, but I’ll do my best.

Pyr and Solaris have both sent me copies of some cool titles since the first of the summer that I never got a chance to work into the schedule.  I really want to go back and pick read some of them.  They’re mostly fantasy, but there’s some science fiction mixed in.  Also, Night Shade has sent me some titles, and one of the first I’ll read is Stories of the Raksura, vol.1, by Martha Wells.  I’ll probably start that one by the end of the week.

Speaking of science fiction, there are some titles sitting around I want to read.  Some of them will be popping up at Futures Past and Present as I work them in.  I’ll also be reading some mystery/noir titles and reviewing them at Gumshoes, Gats, and Gams.

Plus there are some titles from various other publishers I want to read.  I’ll be mixing them in at random.  I’m going to try to strike a balance between titles that someone has sent me and stuff I just want to read for fun.  So you never know what’s going to pop up next.

Lou Anders Leaves Pyr to Write Full Time

Lou-Anders-smallLocus Online reported Friday that Lou Anders, long-time editor at Pyr Books, was stepping down to pursue writing full time.  John O’Neill at Black Gate added some details this morning.

Under his leadership, Pyr became one of the freshest and most innovative imprints in the field while still staying true to the field’s roots.  Some of my favorite titles and series from the last few years were from Pyr.  I’ve got a stack of books that came out over the last few months that I’ve not had a chance to get to.

Anders recently published his first novel, Frostborn, a fantasy for middle grade readers.  In fact, this was one of the things Anders did at Pyr that impressed me.  He began acquiring titles aimed at YA readers.  I’ve met Lou briefly a few times over the years.  The most recent was at Fencon in 2012.  One of the things we talked about was the need for gateway books aimed at YA and middle grade readers.  He’s putting his money (and his career) where his mouth is.  Adventures Fantastic wishes him the best of luck.

Rene Sears has served as Anders’ assistant.  She will step up as interim editor.  I also wish her the best of luck.  She’s got some big shoes to fill, but I’m sure can handle it.

A Review of K. V. Johansen’s The Leopard

LeopardThe Leopard
K. V. Johansen
Pyr Books
Trade Paper US $18.00 Can $19.00
Ebook $11.99 Kindle Nook

This book was released about a week and a half ago. I had intended to have it finished and the review posted before then, but as I stated elsewhere, family commitments and life have been getting in the way for the last six weeks or so.

The Leopard is K. V Johansen’s second novel Pyr has published. The first was Blackdog, which I’ve had since it was published. I hadn’t read it yet because of length; I can’t always work longer books into my schedule. That turned out to be a mistake. While I don’t think The Leopard is a direct sequel, a knowledge of the characters and events from Blackdog would have proven convenient in the second half of The Leopard.

I say convenient because characters from Blackdog don’t show up until The Leopard is well under way.  Continue reading

Jon Sprunk’s Blood and Iron Hits Shelves

Blood and IronBlood and Iron
Jon Sprunk
Pyr Books
Trade paper, 424 pg., $18.00
ebook $11.99  Kindle Nook

I really enjoyed Jon Sprunk’s Shadow Saga (reviewed here, here, and here), so I was thrilled recently to learn he had a new book coming out. That book is Blood and Iron, and while it’s set in the same universe as the Shadow Saga, it’s on a different continent and doesn’t have anything to do with the previous books.

It’s also quite good. Blood and Iron is the first volume of The Book of the Black Earth. As well done as the Shadow Saga was, The Book of the Black Earth promises to be even better. Continue reading

Reading Plans for 2014

This post is a continuation of the thoughts expressed in the previous one.  If you haven’t read it yet, you might want to just to understand the context.  Here I’m going to discuss my reading plans for the year.  They’re going to be a bit different than they’ve been.

I don’t make resolutions, but I do believe in setting goals, whether I reach any of them or not.  I know from experience if I don’t set some sort of a goal, then I won’t get anything accomplished.  Think of this post as a series of goals, goals that are flexible and highly subject to change. Continue reading

2013: An Assessment – Publishers

As I promised in yesterday’s State of the Blogs post, here’s my summary of what I read this past year.  I’m going to include both publishers and individual works that I thought were standouts, but due to length, I’m going to break the post in two.  The list of year’s best authors and titles is here. Many of them are published by the publishers listed below.

I’m going to restrict this list to imprints that have distribution in the major chains.  That means no small presses.  Small presses tend to focus on reprints or collectible editions that are often priced for the collectors market.

Also, I’m going to list some science fiction and crime/noir titles and publishers as well.  I’ve not read enough in those fields this past year to justify a separate post on Futures or Gumshoes.  I plan for 2014 to be different on that point.  Details in tomorrow’s post.

We’ll start with publishers, in alphabetical order (For publishers with more than one imprint, the imprint I read the most will be listed first.): Continue reading

Tis the Season for Theft, Snark, and Widdershins

LostCovenantLost Covenant
Ari Marmell
Pyr Books
279 pp, hardcover $17.99 US/$19.50 Can
ISBN 978-1-61614-811-9
ebook $11.99
ISBN 978-1-61614-812-6

At this time of year, it’s customary to reflect on upon the things for which one is thankful.

I’m thankful for Mastercard Fraud Division.

I’m thankful that my car, which normally runs perfectly but lately has developed the troublesome habit of dying without warning while moving, hasn’t killed me yet.

I’m thankful this blog was shortlisted for an award.

I’m thankful that there’s a new Widdershins novel about to hit the shelves.

And of course I’m thankful to Lisa Michalski at Pyr books for sending me an ARC so I can read it ahead of time.

You’ll recall I thoroughly enjoyed the first two Widdershins novels, Thief’s Covenant (reviewed here) and False Covenant (reviewed here).

In this one Widdershins becomes aware of a plot against House Delacroix,.  Since it was Alexandre Delacroix who rescued her from life on the streets, she takes it upon herself to intervene on behalf of the House as a way of repaying the late Alexandre.  She ends up in the town of Aubier trying to convince the last matriarch of the house that she’s a friend.  All the while dealing with a mad alchemist, a brutal gang of thugs, and the matriarch’s son, who is somewhat smitten by Widdershins (perfectly understandable). Continue reading

A Review of The Scroll of Years

ScrollofYearsThe Scroll of Years
Chris Willrich
Pyr Books
Trade paper $15.95 US $17.00 Canada
Ebook $11.99
Amazon  B&N Indie Bound

A Scroll of Years is the first novel about thief Imago Bone and poet Persimmon Gaunt. The pair have appeared in 5 short stories to date, and the first is included in this volume. Somehow this series has managed to fly under my radar. That’s something I’m going to need to fix. Looking at Willrich’s website, I may have read one or two but didn’t realize they were part of a series.

Anyway, Bone and a pregnant Gaunt are fleeing from Night’s Auditors. They are a pair of hit men who don’t merely kill their victims. In essence they steal their victims’ souls. They’re a pair of nasty dudes, and they have a dragon working for them. One of them controls a fire spirit. The other has a mirror embedded in his forehead which shows all possible things his victim might do. These guys are hard to kill, and they don’t give up easily.

Gaunt and Bone flee across the ocean to a land much like Imperial China. Gaunt has a mark forming on her belly that resembles two dragons. It’s a sign that the child she carries is someone a lot of powerful people want to get their hands on. Gaunt and Bone are going to need all the allies they can get.

The writing is rich and subtle, and Gaunt and Bone are foremost of a cast of delightfully flawed characters. Some fantasy novels are like a tankard of ale, intended to be slammed back. The Scroll of Years is of a more refined vintage, one in which you savor the writing as well as the story and characters.  The story takes place over both months and years simultaneously.  (That statement will make sense if you read the book, trust me.)

Gaunt and Bone have been compared to Fafhred and the Grey Mouser. I can see the resemblance, and I’d bet money that Fritz Leiber was one of Willrich’s influences. But that comparison runs the risk of limiting the characters or skewing a potential reader’s expectations. I see echoes of an earlier generation of writers in this book. Writers such as Ernest Bramah with perhaps a dash of Dunsany and maybe a pinch of Clark Ashton Smith. Plus a nod to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Leiber’s heroes were clearly cut from the same general cloth as Conan, inhabiting a milieu rooted in Western tradition where any portrayal of Eastern cultures were filtered to a greater or lesser degree through the West’s perceptions of the East. As Willrich notes in the Acknowledgements, this particular work is firmly planted in Chinese soil. The titular Scroll of Years is a concept I’ve not come across in much European based fantasy.  And rather that detracting, the Chinese folk tales Willrich interjects into the story give it added depth and resonance.

The Scroll of Years is not like anything I’ve seen recently. Willrich has a fresh voice, and with this novel (I can’t speak for the short stories, not being familiar with them yet) he expands the boundaries of sword and sorcery.

The events in this book grow out of the short stories, and there are one or two passing reference to previous events that seem to refer back to them. Don’t let that stop you from picking this one up. You can enjoy The Scroll of Years on its own merits. The ARC I have says today is the release date (which is why I wrote the review today), but the author’s website says the 24th.  Either way, look for a copy if this sounds like it might be your cup of tea. And if Pyr want to publish the short stories (with one or two new ones included, hint, hint), well, that would be fine with me.

I’d like to thank Lisa Michalski at Pyr Books for the review copy.