torsdag 31 maj 2012

A new batch of books

Since I've been entirely too lazy after work, and had a few prior commitments to work out, I haven't gotten the review of Kell's Legend done yet. I've been working a bit on a new grading system, in exceptionally poor taste, and received one of my book orders just yesterday!

So far I received a bunch of Glen Cook books since I managed to lose them on a trip through customs in the US of A some years back (the man must be positively cursed, what with his stolen manuscripts and my disappeared books) as well as Beaulieu's Winds of Khalakovo and the Straits of Galahesh.

torsdag 24 maj 2012

Combining the best of two worlds

I don't intend to make this a blog about my music tastes or anything like that. But if it was, it would feature massive amounts of the National (along with Bloc Party, Final Fantasy and many others). There's something about Matt Berninger's voice that just suits my every mood.

And now apparently they will feature on Season 2's the Music of Game of Thrones. Their rendition of the Rains of Castamere is excellent, and brings even more to the setting and the history of the Lannisters.
Go listen, it's excellent! Winter is coming on tumblr.

onsdag 23 maj 2012

And so I finished Kell's Legend!

Well, I did it on monday actually. Yesterday I started on Embassytown but I'm only a few pages in so far. I'm happily surprised with Remic's Kell's Legend, I wouldn't call it prose since most of what he writes has little to no poetic or fine-lit meaning, but it is downright hard-core minimalistic fantasy of a higher level. The invention of the clockwork vampires with their culture and plot mechanics is brilliant even if I find the battles and depth of character in Kell a bit lacking. Still a good read though, and as mentioned a great change of pace. I'll have a review up towards the end of the week most likely.

I also watched the Avengers last night, and have to say I was pleasantly surprised. A lot of good action and fine acting on behalf of most of the actors. I've never really been a fan of Iron Man but Robert Downey Jr's take on him is growing on me. Hulk was his usual likeable self. I nearly missed the ending though, great foreshadowing which probably passed a few of the more uninitiated movie goers by.

I'm not really one for Marvel's updating of their entire universe as I haven't followed what's been happening in the comics since early 2000's, I just get frustrated. I read a bit about the black Nick Fury which I think is a poor substitute for having an actual black super hero available. It's not like there aren't any, even if they have been few and far between. Samuel L Jackson did a decent job of catching the character of Nick Fury the elder though. My main irk though is the many different takes on the Hulk, and even if he didn't feature here the Spiderman issue. There are several more plot-driven parts of both characters' development that you can't need to rehash the same story two or three times. Get a grip Marvel, if I get to see one more Spiderman origins movie I'm having a pyre of the old magazines.

lördag 19 maj 2012

Courtesy of Sam Cooke

So it's saturday night, I've got the tv on with the Champions League final (rooting silently for Bayern) and trying to finish Kell's Legend. I'm about 2 thirds through and it's definetely delivered action-wise, very reminiscent of his mentioned inspiration; David Gemmel's Druss the Legend.
Remic has a habit of ending every chapter with a cliffhanger sort of thing, which I'm not entirely sure of how I feel about, but the pace and the action is thoroughly engrossing and the simplicity is refreshing.

I'm thinking I will give Embassytown a go after I've finished Kell's Legend. I think the change of pace and depth will help Miéville's latest award nominee. Hopefully the few bad reviews I've read will help me not feeling underwhelmed. My expectations aren't as high as is usual with Miéville's books.

tisdag 15 maj 2012

The Cold Commands

The Gollancz Cover
I know I promised the review some time back, likely more than a week now, so my most sincere apologies. I'm sad to say that my main culprit is work, and I'm finding it hard to sneak time for reading and writing. But without much further ado, here's the review I've conjured!

The Cold Commands is Richard K Morgan's follow-up to debut fantasy novel The Steel Remains. I wasn't familiar with Morgan until I saw the hype for Black Man which I went on to read as a first sci-fi book outside of the Star Wars novels. Black Man is a sci-fi tale of futuristic super soldiers turned superfluous due to politics mainly, and it was a thouroughly satisfying read with Morgan's signature high pace and action packed to the brim. When I read that Morgan was releasing a fantasy trilogy I jumped at the first sight of the Steel Remains in my local bookstore.

I will say that I'm not familiar with Morgan's writing apart from Black Man and the Steel Remains but his style is something that hooked me directly. There's a high tempo, even when I feel like nothing is really jumping at me from out of the page the tempo is high and it sucks you in. I believe many are familiar with Morgan's "main hero" Ringil Eskiath because of him being a non-apologetic gay anti-hero, something which goes against most of the original (well most) fantasy troupes. I won't delve too far into those parts though, except to say that it is far from the only schock value of the books.
Morgan's series is cold and brutal, with cynical heroes in the modern many shades of gray perhaps past their prime, and you just feel that as the story goes on they are reacting to, and growing with, the events of the story.

Subterranean Press cover
Ringil Eskiath is coloured more fully after the events of the Steel Remains and we see his continued development through deserted comrades, butchered enemies and graphic sexual encounters. But you know what, it works. Morgan has definetely made him into one of my favourite anti-heroes with his ongoing development, reminding me of Caul Shivers descent into darkness in Best Served Cold but without the bitter aftertaste. I clung to words mentioned by Liviu Suciu at the Fantasy Book Critic, there are simply no dull parts in the novel where you have to skim through characters and events you're not particularly interested in. Egar Dragonsbane's storyline sees him fleshed out and evolving into quite a character on his own. The Dwenda make further appearances and it's good reading to see just what they, and of course the Dragonsbane, are capable of.

Even Archeth Indamaninarmal, who I found a bit of a tedious read in the Steel Remains, garners attention and grows as a character in her relationship with the Emperor Jhiral Khimran II. And it is also in her chapters that we see much of the plot development as well as the better parts of the worldbuilding. I've found that after having finished the second novel in the stories, while you've learned a bit more of the back story, you are still not anywhere closer to figuring out just what the big threat is. We've seen the Dwenda, and we know that they are not that numerous and while notoriously hard to kill they aren't that big of a deal. So I am very interested in seeing where Morgan is taking his three main characters. When you browse the internet and you look around other reviews you quickly find quite a few brandishing this a build-up novel and a typical mid-series jump off just to set the scene for the third and final book in the series. I'd agree in principle due in part to the facts that Morgan does seem to the set the scene for a showdown with the Illwrack Changeling and his allies but so far we've seen little threat to the threesome that is Ringil, Egar and Archeth. Especially now with Ringil's shadowy allies coming to the front. But I disagree with the Cold Commands being just a transport between book 1 and book 3 because we see a wealth of both character defining moments as well as more in-depth worldbuilding.

With the novels being as short as they are I suppose Morgan could've bandied the two books together and gone for an epic fantasy novel-sized book of somewhere around 900 pages. But I find this works, there's enough action and plotting to make you turn the page and I for one am quite looking forward to the final piece in the series, the Dark Defiles. My main concern is that I do not quite feel the all-encompassing threat that threatens the world, even if the characters and the worldbuilding has me turning the page anyway.
All in all I found it an enjoyable read, with gripping suspense through brutal action and intriguing character development and the groundwork for what will likely be a high pace ending to the series.


REMINDS ME OF: The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss in that both series do not exactly jump at you in terms of plot development. There are long periods of time where nothing really seems to happen but you are still gripped with a can't-stop-turning-the-page kind of fever.

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie because of the raw, gritty action and so many shades of gray characters and anti-heroes that are under development.

tisdag 8 maj 2012

Taking a cue from Sensawunda

To spur my own writing I've taken a cue from Adam Callaway's Sensawunda in putting down the current word count of my many disparate works. Hopefully the added incentive will push on the whole creative process which right now is dragging me every which way. The background of the whole thing is that I feel an over-powering urge to map as much history and world as is entirely possible down, so that when I end up writing I find myself a bit cornered by the groundwork done. It's a monster that just keeps growing and growing and I am fairly certain that I desperately need to finish something in order to push everything forward a bit.

I had an agreement to have a first draft done in last november but what I did have was several more cultural backgrounds, some racial clarifications and more work on the world map. Not many words on the actual novel though. So without much further ado, and to give myself a great big kick in the back, here are the numbers:

SHORT STORY #1: Word count of 1 536
SHORT STORY #2: Word count of 1 179
NOVEL #1: Word count of 12 046

'Tap tap tap'.

måndag 7 maj 2012

Sorry about the AWOL

I had meant to get the review up of the Cold Commands at least by saturday but alas, work conspired against me. I've been working something like nine days straight now and it's only tuesday so I will see what I can get done.

At least I'm about 160 pages into Kell's Legend, a much easier read, so hopefully I'll finish it maybe even before this weekend. And about the Cold Commands, I'm working on the review. Just need the time and space to reflect a bit. That's it for now, off to work!