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.