fredag 30 november 2012

If I Had a Conscience..

Oh my how I'd be emberassed. Luckily I don't have one that's bothering me in the main, but I do feel a bit bad for the ones that have been visiting. For some splendid reason I had some 25 hits on the 25th of November, can't really understand it, but thank you guys.

To try and explain, I've had one hell of a time at work. Three people out of the remaining eight quit in a pretty short interval which has meant chaotic times at the office. I'm fairly certain I managed to get started on a draft for my review of Forge of Darkness, which was a great read, so I'll see if I can't get it up sometime during the weekend.

I've also gotten about halfway through A Path to Coldness but it's been pretty slow reading, both because of work and then because Glen Cook has been less direct in his story-telling this time around. I'm sure I'll finish it off in the coming week as it's still pretty light reading.
I'll see where I go from there, I've booked a trip to New York with my girlfriend, so I'm expecting to make some headway in my reading then.

Cheers for being patient so far!

söndag 21 oktober 2012

These are hectic days

I'll get to working on the review of Forge of Darkness as soon as I get some spare moments in front of the computer. As things stand I've managed a brief reflection on what's to come, and I'm having a really hard time avoiding spoilers. But I'll get there, eventually.

Work has been demanding lately, and if that wasn't enough we've entered an october's end that means a lot of birthdays and parties. As if that wasn't enough, my 30th is coming up as well.

As you can see, I just set out upon Cook's final Dread Empire collection, A Path to Coldness of Heart. I haven't gotten that far, and I've had trouble really immersing myself in the story but I'm sure Bragi and his friends and foes will grab a hold of me eventually.

I also noticed Red Country is in stock at my local store so I need to plan my way over there.
Well, back to work!

torsdag 18 oktober 2012

A great moment in time.

I haven't yet decided which book to choose next, and I haven't really had the time of day to get any reading done. What with Sweden cruising to a 4-4 draw with Germany on tuesday and yesterday planning for a friend's website and musical odyssey-project I'm still undecided. There are a fair few to choose from and, as mentioned, Red Country will be out in the next few days.

Speaking of which, I noticed yesterday that the 3rd chapter is available for reading on Gollancz's blog. I've so far managed to contain my curiosity, and hopefully I can keep myself until I get a chance to read the entire book. But if you're interested, don't let me hold you back.

In exactly one week's time I'll be 30. How about that!?

tisdag 16 oktober 2012

On the subject of Stephen Deas..

If you haven't already, be sure to head over to Gollancz and read the exlusive Stephen Deas' short-story the Thief-Taker's Blade. It's a short piece but showing off Deas at his usual.

It's a prequel of sorts to the Thief-Taker's Apprentice, and serves as a sort of PR-project for the release of the latest book in the same series the King's Assassin.

måndag 15 oktober 2012

The Adamantine Palace

I've finally managed to sit down in some peace and quiet to type down my thoughts on Stephen Deas and his wonderfully crafted the Adamantine Palace. It's the first novel, and apparently debut, in a series titled Memory of Flames, but so far I've not managed to learn how many books are planned.
I have to say, from what I've seen so far, Stephen Deas' work this far in my reading experience is one of the finest debuts I've seen, though he's facing stiff competion when compared to Saladin Ahmed and his Throne of the Crescent Moon, even if they are very different in tone and style.
Deas has done a good job breathing new life into one of the most characteristic features of the fantasy genre, the dragon. Deas' breed have more in common with the dragons of Reign of Fire than most generic fantasy dragons, and we see a species that have to be kept tightly in check or they're likely to wrest control away from humanity.
Stephen Deas has a pretty direct and brutal style of writing that's reminiscent of Abercrombie, and even though in quite stark contrast with Erikson's intricate world and enormous cast I saw more of Erikson in Deas' writing than any of the other 'touted inheritors' novels that I've read so far this year.

A torrent of flames poured from the sky, swallowing the white dragon and her Scales in its fury. The river waters steamed. Stones cracked in the heat. Huros stood stock still. He was fifty, sixty, maybe seventy yards away. A little part of him that wasn't paralysed with fear noted that this was too close. At the last instant he turned his face away, as a wall of hot air and steam seared his skin and slapped him back towards the woods. He caught a glimpse, as he did, of the stranded rider, the one who'd been shouting at the Scales, catapulted into the air, snatched from the ground by the dragon's tail. Of the Scales himself, there was no sign.

Gollancz cover
Worldbuilding-wise and character development-wise I'd say Deas and the Adamantine Palace is somewhere between Glen Cook and Paul Kearney. It could definitely do with some added depth but it is a masterful debut that throws you into the action pretty much from the first chapter.

The book has a strong political intrigue with the known world divided into realms ruled by Kings and Queens with their will enforced by the now cowed and domesticated dragons. The dragons are bred for this specifically, carefully plied with poisons and chemicals from the politically independant order of alchemists. An unscrupulous young prince, Jehal, embarks on a mission to grasp control of all the realms as Speaker of the Realms and will stop at nothing to gain his goals.
His path is quickly littered with betrayals and murders and though a highly unlikeable character his chapters are a joy to read as they push the pace up bit by bit.
Standing against him are Queen Shezira and her daughters, Shezira herself grasping for the title of Speaker as well as Hyram, the current Speaker of the Realms. The Adamantine Palace has many twists and turns in the court intrigue and by the last few pages you've probably been led back and forth a couple of times.

Outside the court, but not far from it's influences the two mercenaries Kemir and Sollos do dirty deeds for one of the many intriguing factions setting themselves up perfectly for a seemingly impossible task. When Queen Shezira is marrying off one of her daughters with Prince Jehal as part of a political powerplay the bridal gift, a perfect white dragon, is stolen on it's way to Jehal's family keep. Kemir and Sollos are conscripted into guiding Shezira's dragon knights in their search for the missing dragon. With time though, without the alchemical intervention and far from the dragon roosts, the white dragon Snow is awakened from the drug-induced slumber that the dragons are kept in. And with her awakening, the fury and hunger of the species slowly rears its ugly head.

The book plays out at an amazing pace, and the reader is left with little time for in-depth characterization or wider worldbuilding but at a fully crammed 379 pages the book rarely suffers from this. I can imagine the series having to see some development both of the characters as well as the world into the next book, but Deas has left me fully expectant that he will be able to pull it off.

US Cover - Penguin

I am impressed by Stephen Deas' development of his own kind of dragons, both their history and their general characteristics lead to a wanting to learn more, and the small fact that they are seemingly reborn upon death is an intriguing idea. Kemir and Sollos was a great read for as long as it lasted, reminiscent of many of Erikson's epic pairings. And though Jehal is home to a host of dislikeable mannerisms he is one of the more interesting characters and mainly the one to push the plot on.

All in all Stephen Deas' the Adamantine Palace is a great read, all the more special for being the author's debut, with a crackling pace and no shortage of plot twists. There's room for development in both the as yet unseen King of the Crags, which coincidentally is the name of the next book, as well as the mysterious Taiytakei who we've only seen fleetingly so far. I'd definitely reccomend the Adamantine Palace as a must read.


REMINDS ME OF: Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold in that it is distinctly brutal with many of it's seemingly central characters as well as a story that is packed full of violence, sex and intrigue in equal measures. Daniel Abraham's the Dragon's Path in that it's a powerful first novel in a series that does a good job of putting down groundwork and re-working some of the usual tropes. A promising first that will hopefully lead to even bigger and better things in the coming work.

That empty feeling again..

And so at long last I finally finished Forge of Darkness yesterday. I've got to say that the pace, at least for me, dropped off a bit towards the end but it's still a huge wow-feeling reading Erikson. He does every little thing that I value the most so well I found myself at times going back to the start of a page I'd finished just to read through everything. Almost like I didn't wish it to end.

There's a lot of familiar characters, frankly, there's a lot of characters period. But this is the part I love the most about the Malazan world. Every little detail is so well thought through that I can't find any faults with this tome. Or wilfully ignoring them I guess.

The awesome art is from PS Publishings' special signed volumes of Erikson's book. Made by David Gentry in a 300 edition. I'd positively love to own one but at 97£ they're a bit steep for me, sadly.
I'm still not certain where to go next. I feel like I have to give Mark Hodder a chance now, seeing the pair of books glaring down at me from their shelf. And with now only a matter of days before Joe Abercrombie's Red Country hit the shelves I'm a bit hesitant to pick any long read up as I will want to get my hands on it as soon as possible.

Well, that's it for the brief update, I'll get back to knocking in words for the Adamantine Palace review that was promised last week. Sorry 'bout that.

onsdag 3 oktober 2012

Adamantine review forthcoming

I need to get started on the review of Stephen Deas's excellent the Adamantine Palace, I just can't help myself though. I'm savouring every line of Forge of Darkness, you get sort of an idea of where we're headed now that I am pretty much halfway through.
But Erikson has that uncanny ability to rewrite the history that we thought we knew, and there have been plenty of brilliant revelations even this way into the book.

Hopefully I can finish the book in the next two days, might be a big ask, and then finalize the review for sunday at the latest. No promises though, we've got guests coming over for the better half of the weekend, as well as a team dinner to get through. And loads of work on sunday as well.

söndag 30 september 2012

Scourge of the Betrayer

Jeff Salyards with his Scourge of the Betrayer has been touted as a future star in the gritty fantasy genre, even mentioned as an heir to Glen Cook. I'm beginning to feel a bit trite with whoever's making these comparisons, but I guess the joke's on me since I keep falling for it.
I'm not saying Scourge of the Betrayer is a bad book, and I'm not saying Jeff Salyards is a bad writer, but to me the style and story feel pretty far off from Glen Cook and his work. Apart from having a narrator and a first person narrative but I'm sure there are others out there like it.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it irritates me some because I expect high paced, direct and brutal fantasy and get a well-planned story-telling approach to the whole ordeal. It's not really a negative side but I'll warn people to take the Glen Cook with a healthy dose of salt.
This is Jeff Salyards debut novel in the fantasy field though, and a fine one it is. The worldbuilding hasn't picked up full steam yet, but you get bits and pieces to show you forward and there's plenty of groundwork made for book two.

Salyards' story is a traditional build-up with the main character, Arkamondos, a wide-eyed youngster bored with his life as a quiet scribe who signs on with a troop of Syldoon mercenaries to see the world and get out of his mundane life. As the mercenaries' mission slowly unfolds Arki, as he is called, gradually feels more and more out of his depth. In a way it feels like a classic farm-boy story, the difference being I can't see Arkamondos finding a magic sword to whisk him out of trouble.

Most of my previous patrons could hardly stop their mouths - they regaled me with mundane minutia and inane stories, most of which involved the glories of mercantile conquest. Hardly riveting, but it was why they hired me. Pollus the apothecary, old wheezy Winnozin the priest, Nullo the foul-mouthed (and foul-smelling) tanner, Lektin the pinched-faced banker. Dull and duller, the whole lot. Even the Lady Anzella, who inherited her husband's shipping business after the plague took him, and managed not only to keep it afloat, but to make it thrive... beyond the novelty that she was a woman entrepreneur and a scuccesful one at that, she was just as mannish in her ability to bore a person to tears.

Captain Braylar Killcoin is an intriguing character slowly unfolded before Arki, and the reader, and we slowly learn more about his legendary Bloodsounder and it's impact on his life. It's a great concept, and a good read that's slightly reminiscent of Elric and his Stormbringer. The Syldoon that he command are a great lot of elite warriors being used as mercenaries in the neighbouring kingdoms, and their relations and dialogue within the group makes for a great read. The Syldoon are a feared people hired for their ruthlessness and effectiveness in battle but as the story goes on it's more and more apparent that the Syldoon have an agenda of their own, dragging young Arkamondos into the middle of mysterious plots and counter-plots leaving him scrabbling for firm ground.
The characters aren't really developed that much since this, the first novel, only stretches for a brief period of time. Salyards shares the trait of many of his contemporary writers in his, if not eagerness, then at least willingness to kill off many of the more central characters without much apparent sentimentality.

Being touted as the re-inventer and new poster-boy for the gritty realistic string of fantasy and being compared to great writers like Glen Cook, Richard K. Morgan and Joe Abercrombie lends to understandably high expectations. I'm not sure Jeff Salyards is quite there yet, he's not quite the finished product and he is still working on the world-building and development of his characters. He's got a fair bit left before I think he'd motivate comparisons to the above mentioned as his general style feels more like traditional fantasy. The combat-scenes are gritty and realistic but I think Salyards story suffers a bit from using young Arkamondos as the focal point. He's not a strong enough character to shape the writing, and his convictions colour too much of the story, at least to me, if he is to be compared to the likes of Abercrombie, Cook and Morgan whose writing is defined by a prominent touch of moral ambiguity, which in itself leads to a darker and bleaker world.

That's not entirely Jeff Salyards' fault though, it's not him drawing comparisons to great writers, but his writing is quite capable of standing on it's own though and it's a fine debut indeed. I just think he comes off lacking when you compare him to writers as direct and focused as the above. He is doing very well in setting up events for book two in the Bloodsounder Arc, and with the world-building on it's way as well I think he can continue to build on this in the way Daniel Abraham has with his Dragon's Path. It will be interesting to see where Salyards will take the still innocent and wide-eyed Arkamondos as the pace picks up and more pressure is applied to the Syldoon.


REMINDS ME OF: The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham in what feels like a more traditional fantasy set up with a lot of groundwork being made in the world-building and setting of style and mannerisms of characters and settings. Some strong points in the action sequences but a need to show more to justify a higher RMS. It's still a good read.

fredag 28 september 2012

Steven Erikson, my personal hero

I'm a couple of hundred pages into Forge of Darkness now, and I have to say it's definitely restored my faith in personal hero and inspiration extraordinaire Steven Erikson. What he can do with his characters, his worldbuilding and his turn of phrase I have yet to come across from any other author. China Miéville is very close.
After a bit of a letdown towards the end of his Malazan Book of the Fallen I can say he has fully restored my opinion of him as the foremost now living author in the genre. It's intriguing and demanding at the same time, never just a comfortable read but, I would say, almost entirely always a more than satisfying experience.

I can see why some consider his writing a 'heavy' read, but I don't think you would get as fulfilling a ride if it wasn't for great vistas, philosophical interior/exterior debates and believable characters.

I am not psyched about nearing the end of this, the first of his Kharkanas trilogy. Hope he can keep up with his usual high-pace writing!

fredag 21 september 2012

Friday musings at the office

Seeing as A Memory of Light, the final installment in Robert Jordan's epic tale of the T'averen, is to be released january 8 in 2013 do you think it'd be worthwhile to pick up the old tomes again?
I had an idea that I would collect the entire series in hard cover way back when. That was fresh out of authors like David Eddings (Belgariad, Malloreon and Sparhawk), Tad Williams (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, which I incidentally never finished) and some Star Wars extended universe.

Can't say I've ever found that the Wheel of Time holds a candle to Tolkien but I found the beginning books quite interesting but seeing as to what I'm reading now, will it feel like a step back?
I might have to put it on my list of series to finish. Makes it easier knowing that the entire collection will soon be complete.

As an aside, can't describe how good it feels to immerse yourself in Erikson again. Forge of Darkness, it's begun. Awesome.