More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Help Fund My Robot Army!!!, a new anthology edited by John Joseph Adams, for only 0.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

If you’re a regular backer of Kickstarters, you’ve probably seen some unique crowdfunding projects in your time. But one thing all of those campaigns—boringly!—had in common was: They abided by the physical laws of the universe!

HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! is an anthology of science fiction/fantasy stories told in the form of fictional crowdfunding project pitches, using the components (and restrictions) of the format to tell the story. This includes but is not limited to: Project Goals, Rewards, User Comments, Project Updates, FAQs, and more. The idea is to replicate the feel of reading a crowdfunding pitch, so that even though the projects may be preposterous in the real world, they will feel like authentic crowdfunding projects as much as possible.

The anthology features original, never-before-published fiction by Bradley Beaulieu , Veronica Belmont, Brooke Bolander, Maurice Broaddus, Tobias S. Buckell, Harry Connolly, Monte Cook, Matt Forbeck, Jason Gurley, Kat Howard, Jonathan L. Howard, Vylar Kaftan, Jake Kerr, Mary Robinette Kowal, Mur Lafferty, David D. Levine, Heather Lindsley, Carmen Maria Machado, David Malki!, Seanan McGuire, Samuel Peralta, Tim Pratt, Andy Penn Romine, Scott Sigler, Michael J. Sullivan, Jeremiah Tolbert, Genevieve Valentine, Derek Van Gorder, Chuck Wendig, Matt Williamson, Daniel H. Wilson, and Sylvia Spruck Wrigley. Plus, a reprint of the eponymous story that inspired the anthology by Keffy R.M. Kehrli, for a total of 33 crowdfunding-style stories.

So if what you’ve always been looking for in a Kickstarter—and couldn’t find—was a project that allowed you to protect yourself from spoilers, buy wishes, find lost objects, or support a wildlife preserve for supernatural creatures, then HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! & Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects may be just the thing you’ve been looking for.

Deborah Harkness contest winners!

Our three winners will receive a copy of Deborah Harkness' The Book of Life, compliments of the folks at Viking. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Rebekah Kati, from Cary, North Carolina, USA

- Sean Meichle, from Seattle, Washington, USA

- Bethany Cardone, from Burke, Virginia, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download A Wizard of Earthsea, the classic written by Ursula K. Le Guin, for only 4.80$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Originally published in 1968, Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea marks the first of the six now beloved Earthsea titles. Ged was the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, but in his youth he was the reckless Sparrowhawk. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tumultuous tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.

This ebook includes a sample chapter of THE TOMBS OF ATUAN.

Holy crap!

Turns out that today's review of Ian Cameron Esslemont's Assail was the Hotlist's 423rd review!!!

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist: Wasting technology since 2005 indeed!! :P

Can't quite believe I've read and reviewed that many books!!! Time flies. . .

Check out the Index of Reviews and Interviews to see what you may have missed!

Assail


The continent of Assail. . . Most dangerous and mysterious place in the Malazan universe, or so we've been led to believe. Ever since Steven Erikson's Memories of Ice, the mere mention of Assail and its secrets has gotten Malazan fans giddy with excitement. And now, finally, Assail's mysteries would be revealed in what is dubbed "the final novel of the Malazan Empire." Problem is, could Ian Cameron Esslemont pull it off?

Esslemont's writing has been divisive from the very beginning, when Night of Knives was first released as a limited edition. From then on, a number of Erikson fans wrote him off and turned their backs on the Malazan co-creator. Others elected to stick with him and were rewarded by two thrilling and fascinating additions to the Malazan canon, Return of the Crimson Guard and Stonewielder. Unfortunately, two major letdowns in a row, Orb Sceptre Throne and Blood and Bone, made even some die-hard fans lose hope in Ian Cameron Esslemont. So much so that even on malazanempire.com, the emperor's own palace, so to speak, the biggest Malazan aficionados appear to be split into two camps. On the one hand, you have those who are happy with whatever helps further flesh out Steven Erikson's storylines. And on the other, you have those, like me, who have pretty much lost faith with Esslemont and bemoan the fact that the author seems to be unable to make his Malazan novels live up to the lofty expectations generated by his friend and fellow co-creator.

Understandably, my expectations were as low as humanly possible when I set out to read Assail. For some reason, it appears that the epilogue novel(s) is/are no longer scheduled to be published. Hence, Assail, to all ends and purposes, will likely be the last Malazan installment covering the main story arcs introduced by Steven Erikson. Early on, when the novel was slow-moving and focused on extraneous plotlines, it was obvious that Assail would fail to wrap everything up in true Malazan fashion. And in the end, this book miserably failed to meet even my oh-so low expectations. . .

Assail is Ian Cameron Esslemont's The Crippled God. The culmination of a variety of far-reaching storylines spread through his last four novels. Some of them first explored by Erikson in the original sequence, years ago. And although many fans doubted that Esslemont could close the show the way Erikson did in the last volume of The Malazan Book of the Fallen, I would never have expected that Assail would be such a disheartening disappointment. . .

Here's the blurb:

Tens of thousands of years of ice is melting, and the land of Assail, long a byword for menace and inaccessibility, is at last yielding its secrets. Tales of gold discovered in the region’s north circulate in every waterfront dive and sailor’s tavern and now countless adventurers and fortune-seekers have set sail in search of riches. All these adventurers have to guide them are legends and garbled tales of the dangers that lie in wait - hostile coasts, fields of ice, impassable barriers and strange, terrifying creatures. But all accounts concur that the people of the north meet all trespassers with the sword. And beyond are rumoured to lurk Elder monsters out of history’s very beginnings.

Into this turmoil ventures the mercenary company, the Crimson Guard. Not drawn by contract, but by the promise of answers: answers that Shimmer, second in command, feels should not be sought. Also heading north, as part of an uneasy alliance of Malazan fortune-hunters and Letherii soldiery, comes the bard Fisher kel Tath. With him is a Tiste Andii who was found washed ashore and cannot remember his past and yet commands far more power than he really should. It is also rumoured that a warrior, bearer of a sword that slays gods and who once fought for the Malazans, is also journeying that way. But far to the south, a woman patiently guards the shore. She awaits both allies and enemies. She is Silverfox, newly incarnate Summoner of the undying army of the T’lan Imass, and she will do anything to stop the renewal of an ages-old crusade that could lay waste to the entire continent and beyond. Casting light on mysteries spanning the Malazan empire, and offering a glimpse of the storied and epic history that shaped it, Assail brings the epic story of the Empire of Malaz to a thrilling close.

The worldbuilding is always one of the key ingredients in every Malazan installment. And in this regard at least, Esslemont doesn't usually disappoint. Almost nothing is known with certainty about Assail, and like all fans I relished the idea of getting an opportunity to explore this mysterious corner of Wu. Sadly, unlike Blood and Bone, in which I felt the author captured the Southeast Asian jungle setting to perfection in his depiction of the Himatan jungle in Jacuruku, Assail feels more or less like Northern British Columbia or Alaska. And yet, it's not the imagery that's the problem. Esslemont's descriptive narrative is probably as good as in any of his other novels. It's the essence of Assail, its mysteries, its aura, its dangers; all of these the author failed to convey. We are talking about a continent which the Emperor and Dancer steered clear of, for it was deemed too dangerous. A place where human rulers supposedly not only stood up against legions of T'lan Imass, but destroyed thousands of them in the process. But for all that, there is nothing in the narrative that conveys that aura of utmost danger. Frankly, Erikson's depiction of Seven Cities felt a hundred times more perilous. Readers looking forward to revelations about Assail's numerous secrets will also be disappointed. The book offers very little in that regard, which makes me wonder how/why Assail could ever be the final volume of the Malazan Empire.

The characterization is by far the weakest aspect of this work. How the hell it could once again be that bad, I'll never know. While the plotlines don't necessarily lack any sense of direction the way they did in Blood and Bone, they are nevertheless uninvolving for the most part, and most of the protagonists remain flat, generic, cardboard cutout characters. Especially anything involving the members of the Crimson Guard, which is reminiscent of inane Forgotten Realms-like crap. How unimpressive, boring, and pathetic have they all become. . . And the dialogue? As was the case in Blood and Bone, too often is the back-and-forth between the protagonists adolescent and puerile. In addition, the unexpected romance between two members turned out to be a little lame. The plotline exploring Silverfox and the T'lan Imass is by far the least exploited. Which is odd, as I expected it to lie at the heart of the tale. One of Assail's biggest shortcomings is the inexplicably high number of points of view. With so little taking place throughout this book, one has to wonder why Esslemont felt the need for readers to witness events occur through the eyes of so many characters. Following several extraneous plotlines that often bring little or nothing to the overall story arc killed the flow of the novel and slowed the rhythm to a crawl in various portions of the story. I could have done without many of the sailors' POVs. Other than Cartheron Crust, who somehow stole the show in every scene in which he appeared. Still, way too much "air time" was devoted to Kyle and Orman. Fisher and Jethiss' storyline proved to be one of the most interesting, and kudos to Esslemont for the unanticipated surprise at the end!

In the past, we have often overlooked Esslemont's occasional shortcomings, maintaining that he was "fleshing out" Erikson's storylines, providing answers and raising more questions. No matter from what angle you look at it, Assail remains a somewhat poor and unispired work. As was the case with its two predecessors, with Assail it is evident that Ian Cameron Esslemont didn't have what it takes as an author to truly do justice to the storylines that were his. Though the quality of both Return of the Crimson Guard and Stonewielder argues against such a statement. Now that his arcs are done, it is obvious that, unlike Steven Erikson, his skills were not necessarily up to the task. Which is a shame, as he had some awesome plotlines to work with, chief among those the Crimson Guard, the T'lan Imass, and the mysteries of Assail.

The only positive facet of Assail would be its ending. It was a good ending. Not great, but good. In no way a fitting end to the Malazan saga, however. Truth to tell, it wasn't even an ending per se. Hence, without the epilogue book(s), it makes very little sense for the saga to end this way. There was no major convergence, no mindfuck, no proverbial shit hitting the fan. It is decidedly anticlimactic, but it does tie up all the Ian Cameron Esslemont books. So does the ending save the entire book? No way. Not by a long shot. Assail is 80% filler material, bloating up the book between the scenes that actually matters.

So in the end, Assail is not a total loss. No matter how anticlimactic the endgame proved to be, Esslemont closed the show on a high note. But for the most part, Assail can be nothing but another major disappointment. . .

The final verdict: 6/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

Quote of the Day

It is a fine line, in all of us, between civilization and savagery. To any who think they would never cross it, I can only say, if you have never known what it is to be utterly betrayed and abandoned, you cannot know how close it is.

- JACQUELINE CAREY, Kushiel's Dart (Canada, USA, Europe)

Only a little over 100 pages remaining. And unless the author finds a way to screw it up at the end, Kushiel's Dart will indeed stand as the best fantasy debut I have ever read. Awesome read thus far!

Kevin J. Anderson contest winner!

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Tor Books, our winner will receive a copy of Kevin J. Anderson's The Dark Between the Stars. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

Laura Miller, from Macomb, Michigan, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can download Jay Kristoff's Stormdancer for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The first in an epic new fantasy series, introducing an unforgettable new heroine and a stunningly original dystopian steampunk world with a flavor of feudal Japan.

A DYING LAND

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST

The hunters of Shima's imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

A HIDDEN GIFT

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (August 11th)

In hardcover:

Deborah Harkness’ The Book of Life is down two spots, finishing the week at number 4. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes is down two positions, ending the week at number 12.

Diana Gabaldon's Written in My Own Heart's Blood is down two positions, ending the week at number 15.

In paperback:

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones is down two positions, ending the week at number 4.

George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons is down four positions, ending the week at number 9.

Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game is down one position, ending the week at number 10.

George R. R. Martin's A Clash of Kings is down five positions, ending the week at number 15.

Kim Harrison's The Undead Pool debuts at number 16.

Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane is up four positions, ending the week at number 16 (trade paperback).

George R. R. Martin's A Storm of Swords is down six positions, ending the week at number 17.

George R. R. Martin's A Storm of Swords is up one position, ending the week at number 11.

George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows is down eight positions, ending the week at number 23.

Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches is down thirteen spots, finishing the week at number 24 (trade paperback).

Scott Lynch's The Republic of Thieves debuts at number 24.

Ian Cameron Esslemont contest winner!

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Transworld, this lucky winner will get his hands on a copy of Ian Cameron Esslemont's Assail for you to win. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Daniel Messmer, from Zürich, Switzerland

Many thanks to all the participants!

Musical Interlude



A cool tune to brighten up your day on this rainy Wednesday morning!

Quote of the Day

That which yields is not always weak.

- JACQUELINE CAREY, Kushiel's Dart (Canada, USA, Europe)

Now more than 400 pages into this book and it remains the best fantasy debut I've read thus far. . . =)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon, opening volume in the incredible Malazan Book of the Fallen series, for only 4.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen's rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand...

Conceived and written on a panoramic scale, Gardens of the Moon is epic fantasy of the highest order--an enthralling adventure by an outstanding new voice.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

Fantasy-Faction's Grim Gathering


If you are in the London area tomorrow (actually today on the other side of the pond), you probably don't want to miss out Fantasy-Faction's Grim Gathering event! =) I mean, who wouldn't want to meet Joe Abercrombie, Peter V. Brett, Myke Cole, and Mark Lawrence, right!?!

It's free of charge and promises to be one cool evening! Follow this link for all the details. . .

Robin Hobb contest winner!

This lucky winner will get his hands on my ARC of Robin Hobb's Fool's Assassin! In case you missed it, the novel came out today! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Diego Benitez, from Houston, Texas, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

Best fantasy debut ever???


Okay, so I know I'm late to this party. Thirteen years late, to be exact. . .

Since all the recent/new SFF releases I've read since returning from the Middle East have more or less killed my reading pleasure, I wanted to try something tested and true. I've been meaning to read Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel books for years, so this seemed to be as good a time as any!

And 250 pages into Kushiel's Dart (Canada, USA, Europe), I'm loving everything about it! I'm aware that Carey has since published over a dozen novels, but this was her debut and it's as impressive as it is awesome! Head and shoulders (thus far at least) above debuts by such quality writers as Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, Naomi Novik, and Peter V. Brett, Carey's Kushiel's Dart has left me quite impressed on all fronts. Don't know if the author can maintain such quality and intrigue till the very end, but so far Kushiel's Dart could well be the best fantasy debut I have ever read. . .

I commend this one to your attention!

Here's the blurb:

The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good...and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission...and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair...and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel's Dart-a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


Several installments in Sherrilyn Kenyon's bestselling paranormal romance/urban fantasy Dark-Hunter series are on sale for 3.99$ each here!

Here's the blurb for the first volume, Night Pleasures:

The Dark-Hunters are ancient warriors who have sworn to protect mankind and the fate of the world is in their hands. . .

He is solitude. He is darkness. He is the ruler of the night. Yet Kyrian of Thrace has just woken up handcuffed to his worst nightmare: An accountant. Worse, she's being hunted by one of the most lethal vampires out there. And if Amanda Devereaux goes down, then he does too. But it's not just their lives that are hanging in the balance. Kyrian and Amanda are all that stands between humanity and oblivion. Let's hope they win.

REACH FOR INFINITY contest winners!

Our three winners will get their hands on a copy of Reach for Infinity, a new science fiction anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan, courtesy of the folks at Solaris. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Zachary Paul, from Haslett, Michigan, USA

- Timothy Broekhuizen, from Hudsonville, Michigan, USA

- Roddy Williams, from London, England

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


Only until midnight tonight, you can download Lev Grossman's The Magicians for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Quentin Coldwater is a brilliant but unhappy young man growing up in Brooklyn, NY. At 17, he remains obsessed with the fantasy novels he read as a child, set in the magical land of Fillory. One day, returning home from a college interview gone awry, he finds himself whisked to Brakebills, an exclusive college for wizards hidden in upstate New York. And so begins THE MAGICIANS, the thrilling and original novel of fantasy and disenchantment by Lev Grossman, author of the international bestseller Codex and book critic for TIME magazine.

At Brakebills, Quentin learns to cast spells. He makes friends and falls in love. He transforms into animals and gains powers of which he never dreamed. Still, magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he thought it would, and four years later, he finds himself back in Manhattan, living an aimless, hedonistic existence born of apathy, boredom and the ability to conjure endless sums of money out of thin air.

One afternoon, hung over and ruing some particularly foolish behavior, Quentin is surprised by the sudden arrival of his Brakebills friend and rival Penny, who announces that Fillory is real. This news promises to finally fulfill Quentin’s yearning, but their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than Quentin could have imagined. His childhood dream is a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.

At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, THE MAGICIANS pays intentional homage to the beloved fantasy novels of C. S. Lewis, T.H. White and J.K. Rowling, but does much more than enlarge the boundaries of conventional fantasy writing. By imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions, Grossman creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren’t black and white, love and sex aren’t simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.

Guest Blog: Lou Anders


Lou Anders recently released his debut, Frostborn, and I'm happy to host a guest blog from the author. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Fantasy fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series will embrace this first novel in an adventure-filled, Viking-inspired series by a debut author.

Meet Karn. He is destined to take over the family farm in Norrøngard. His only problem? He’d rather be playing the board game Thrones and Bones.

Enter Thianna. Half human, half frost giantess. She’s too tall to blend in with other humans but too short to be taken seriously as a giant.

When family intrigues force Karn and Thianna to flee into the wilderness, they have to keep their sense of humor and their wits about them. But survival can be challenging when you’re being chased by a 1,500-year-old dragon, Helltoppr the undead warrior and his undead minions, an evil uncle, wyverns, and an assortment of trolls and giants.

Readers will embark on a sweeping epic fantasy as they join Karn and Thianna on a voyage of discovery. Antics and hair-raising escapades abound in this fantasy adventure as the two forge a friendship and journey to unknown territory. Their plan: to save their families from harm.

Debut novelist Lou Anders has created a rich world of over twenty-five countries inhabited by Karn, Thianna, and an array of fantastical creatures, as well as the Thrones and Bones board game.

You can check out the series' official website here.

Enjoy!
--------------------------

The Value of Being Bad

There’s a book downstairs in my library that I’m allowed to throw away now. I won’t tell you what it is. You may not know the book, but you have probably heard of the writer. I read it in the mid-to-late 90s, and I hated it. Or rather, I started out really intrigued and by the halfway point, I was disgusted at its missed potential. But I kept it. I kept it because it was that book for me. You know what kind of book I mean. The one where you go, “I can do better than this,” and then you set out to do it.

I didn’t write a novel then, but I made a pact with myself. I would keep the book on my shelf, until I had a real, actual, published book of my own to put on the bookshelf. Then I could throw the hated book away.

I can now, with the publication of Frostborn, the first volume of the Thrones and Bones series. I can pitch that bad book right in the garbage bin. Only now I don’t want to. I think I’m too grateful to it for starting me on the process that led to this point.

Also, I’ve learned something between then and now. I’ve learned the value of a bad book.

I think a bad book -- the right kind of bad book -- can sometimes teach you more about writing than a good book can. A really good story can inspire you to want to do the same, but as often as not, it just inspires you to read more by the same writer. Whereas some of the failures I’ve encountered have set me thinking about what was wrong with them, how to fix them, ways they could be improved. You get where this is going.

Snow White and the Huntsman doesn’t rank very high in my list of good films. I think it’s a seriously flawed movie, with some real problems of plot and character and logic. But it’s not so much a bad film as a near miss, a bad film that contained the potential of a good film. I was so frustrated by its failures that I’ve deconstructed and reconstructed it in my mind a dozen times. I’ve gotten so much out of analyzing and dissecting Snow White and the Huntsman that I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the most valuable cinematic experiences I’ve had in the last five years. Which is not, in any way shape or form, to say that I consider it a good film. But it was a good-for-me film.

I’ve been a book editor for ten years now this past March. I’ve acquired and edited over two hundred books in that time. It’s been my privilege to work with some true geniuses. Masters of the craft. I’ve also had to read ten times as many manuscripts as I’ve acquired to find those gems. Maybe a hundred times as many. I’ve seen a fair number of bad manuscripts, but I’ve seen a far greater number of near-misses, stories that were competently written but which lacked that last few percentage points to make them click. I’ve also had the benefit of seeing what worked and what didn’t in the crucible of actual readers’ reactions. Ten years of living with my arms sunk up to my elbows in other people’s prose has been invaluable. And I’ve learned as much or more from seeing what didn’t work as I have from acquiring what did.

Meanwhile, I don’t think I’ll ever throw out that bad book now. It might be one of the best book purchases I’ve ever made. Now as to the empty bottle of Iron Throne blond ale on my desk, that I have to keep until I get my first product tie-in.

------------

Lou Anders's research on Norse mythology while writing Frostborn turned into a love affair with Viking culture and a first visit to Norway. He hopes the series will appeal to boys and girls equally. Anders is the recipient of a Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction. He has published over 500 articles and stories on science fiction and fantasy television and literature. A prolific speaker, Anders regularly attends writing conventions around the country. He and his family reside in Birmingham, Alabama. You can visit Anders online at louanders.com and ThronesandBones.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter at @ThronesandBones.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can download every volume in Ian Irvine's The Song of the Tears sequence for 3.99$ each:

- The Fate of the Fallen
- The Curse on the Chosen
- The Destiny of the Dead

Here's the blurb from the first installment:

After ten years of servitude, Nish is about to be released from the blackest prison of the maimed God-Emperor, Jal-Nish Hlar, his corrupt father. Jal-Nish holds the two sorcerous quicksilver tears, Gatherer and Reaper, and with them controls all of the Secret Art. All opposition having been crushed, he has begun to remake the world in his depraved image.

The only hope of overthrowing him lies in Nish, whom the oppressed peoples of the world see as a messianic figure, the Deliverer for, as Nish was dragged off to prison a decade ago, he wildly promised to return and cast down his father.

Unfortunately Nish is powerless and without allies. But worse, his father wants Nish to become his lieutenant and become as corrupt as he is. Jal-Nish offers Nish everything he has ever desired and, faced with the unbearable alternative of another ten years in prison, he isn't sure he can resist the temptation.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (August 4th)

In hardcover:

Deborah Harkness’ The Book of Life is down one spot, finishing the week at number 2. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes is down two positions, ending the week at number 10.

Diana Gabaldon's Written in My Own Heart's Blood maintains its position at number 13.

In paperback:

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones is down one position, ending the week at number 2.

George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons maintains its position at number 5.

Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game maintains its position at number 9.

George R. R. Martin's A Clash of Kings is up one position, ending the week at number 10.

Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches is up twelve spots, finishing the week at number 11 (trade paperback).

George R. R. Martin's A Storm of Swords is up one position, ending the week at number 11.

George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows maintains its position at number 15.

Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan's The Strain maintains its position at number 17.

Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane is down six positions, ending the week at number 20 (trade paperback).

Win a copy of Peter Watts' ECHOPRAXIA


Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Tor Books, I have a copy of Peter Watts' Echopraxia for you to win! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Prepare for a different kind of singularity in Peter Watts’ Echopraxia, the follow-up to the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight.

It’s the eve of the twenty-second century: a world where the dearly departed send postcards back from Heaven and evangelicals make scientific breakthroughs by speaking in tongues; where genetically engineered vampires solve problems intractable to baseline humans and soldiers come with zombie switches that shut off self-awareness during combat. And it’s all under surveillance by an alien presence that refuses to show itself.

Daniel Bruks is a living fossil: a field biologist in a world where biology has turned computational, a cat’s-paw used by terrorists to kill thousands. Taking refuge in the Oregon desert, he’s turned his back on a humanity that shatters into strange new subspecies with every heartbeat. But he awakens one night to find himself at the center of a storm that will turn all of history inside-out.

Now he’s trapped on a ship bound for the center of the solar system. To his left is a grief-stricken soldier, obsessed by whispered messages from a dead son. To his right is a pilot who hasn’t yet found the man she’s sworn to kill on sight. A vampire and its entourage of zombie bodyguards lurk in the shadows behind. And dead ahead, a handful of rapture-stricken monks takes them all to a meeting with something they will only call “The Angels of the Asteroids.”

Their pilgrimage brings Dan Bruks, the fossil man, face-to-face with the biggest evolutionary breakpoint since the origin of thought itself.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "ECHOPRAXIA." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


For a limited time, you can once again download Neal Stephenson's Anathem for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Anathem, the latest invention by the New York Times bestselling author of Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle, is a magnificent creation: a work of great scope, intelligence, and imagination that ushers readers into a recognizable -- yet strangely inverted -- world.

Fraa Erasmas is a young avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside "saecular" world by ancient stone, honored traditions, and complex rituals. Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent's walls. Three times during history's darkest epochs violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside -- the Extramuros -- for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.

Now, in celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fraas and suurs prepare to venture beyond the concent's gates -- at the same time opening them wide to welcome the curious "extras" in. During his first Apert as a fraa, Erasmas eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected." But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change.

Powerful unforeseen forces jeopardize the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros -- a threat that only an unsteady alliance of saecular and avout can oppose -- as, one by one, Erasmas and his colleagues, teachers, and friends are summoned forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster. Suddenly burdened with a staggering responsibility, Erasmas finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world -- as he sets out on an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond.


You can also get your hands on the excellent Cryptonomicon for only 4.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

With this extraordinary first volume in what promises to be an epoch-making masterpiece, Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.

In 1942, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse—mathematical genius and young Captain in the U.S. Navy—is assigned to detachment 2702. It is an outfit so secret that only a handful of people know it exists, and some of those people have names like Churchill and Roosevelt. The mission of Waterhouse and Detachment 2702—commanded by Marine Raider Bobby Shaftoe-is to keep the Nazis ignorant of the fact that Allied Intelligence has cracked the enemy's fabled Enigma code. It is a game, a cryptographic chess match between Waterhouse and his German counterpart, translated into action by the gung-ho Shaftoe and his forces.

Fast-forward to the present, where Waterhouse's crypto-hacker grandson, Randy, is attempting to create a "data haven" in Southeast Asia—a place where encrypted data can be stored and exchanged free of repression and scrutiny. As governments and multinationals attack the endeavor, Randy joins forces with Shaftoe's tough-as-nails granddaughter, Amy, to secretly salvage a sunken Nazi submarine that holds the key to keeping the dream of a data haven afloat. But soon their scheme brings to light a massive conspiracy with its roots in Detachment 2702 linked to an unbreakable Nazi code called Arethusa. And it will represent the path to unimaginable riches and a future of personal and digital liberty...or to universal totalitarianism reborn.

A breathtaking tour de force, and Neal Stephenson's most accomplished and affecting work to date, Cryptonomicon is profound and prophetic, hypnotic and hyper-driven, as it leaps forward and back between World War II and the World Wide Web, hinting all the while at a dark day-after-tomorrow. It is a work of great art, thought and creative daring; the product of a truly iconoclastic imagination working with white-hot intensity.

Robin Hobb reads from FOOL'S ASSASSIN

This from Suvudu:



Bestselling author Robin Hobb reads from the upcoming Fool's Assassin. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


All 7 volumes of Frank Miller's cult classic Sin City can be downloaded for between 2.99$ and 3.99$ each!

- Frank Miller's Sin City Volume 1: The Hard Goodbye
- Frank Miller's Sin City Volume 2: A Dame to Kill For
- Frank Miller's Sin City Volume 3: The Big Fat Kill
- Frank Miller's Sin City Volume 4: That Yellow Bastard
- Frank Miller's Sin City Volume 5: Family Values
- Frank Miller's Sin City Volume 6: Booze, Broads, & Bullets
- Frank Miller's Sin City Volume 7: Hell and Back

Here's the blurb from the first volume:

The first volume of the crime-comic megahit that introduced the now-infamous Marv and spawned a blockbuster film returns in a newly redesigned edition, with a brand-new cover by Frank Miller-some of his first comics art in years! It's a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town. But Marv doesn't care. There's an angel in the room. She says her name is Goldie. A few hours later, Goldie's dead without a mark on her perfect body, and the cops are coming before anyone but Marv could know she's been killed. Somebody paid good money for this frame . . . With a new look generating more excitement than ever before, this third edition is the perfect way to attract a whole new generation of readers to Frank Miller's masterpiece! * Over a million Sin City books in print! * New cover by Frank Miller! * With Miller and codirector Robert Rodriguez gearing up for Sin City 2, this third edition is being released at just the right time! * The Hard Goodbye was the lead story in the Sin City film, starring Mickey Rourke as Marv!

Subterranean Magazine: Summer 2014


The summer 2014 edition of the Subterranean Magazine is now available and contains fiction by Alastair Reynolds, K. J. Parker, Jay Lake, and more!

Follow this link to check it out!

Win a copy of Lou Anders' FROSTBORN


I have three copies of Lou Anders' Frostborn up for grabs, compliments of the folks at Crown Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Fantasy fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series will embrace this first novel in an adventure-filled, Viking-inspired series by a debut author.

Meet Karn. He is destined to take over the family farm in Norrøngard. His only problem? He’d rather be playing the board game Thrones and Bones.

Enter Thianna. Half human, half frost giantess. She’s too tall to blend in with other humans but too short to be taken seriously as a giant.

When family intrigues force Karn and Thianna to flee into the wilderness, they have to keep their sense of humor and their wits about them. But survival can be challenging when you’re being chased by a 1,500-year-old dragon, Helltoppr the undead warrior and his undead minions, an evil uncle, wyverns, and an assortment of trolls and giants.

Readers will embark on a sweeping epic fantasy as they join Karn and Thianna on a voyage of discovery. Antics and hair-raising escapades abound in this fantasy adventure as the two forge a friendship and journey to unknown territory. Their plan: to save their families from harm.

Debut novelist Lou Anders has created a rich world of over twenty-five countries inhabited by Karn, Thianna, and an array of fantastical creatures, as well as the Thrones and Bones board game.

You can check out the series' official website here.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "THRONES." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

Win an Advance Reading Copy of Robin Hobb's FOOL'S ASSASSIN


Since the book is being released this week, I'm giving away my ARC of Robin Hobb's Fool's Assassin to one lucky winner! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Nearly twenty years ago, Robin Hobb burst upon the fantasy scene with the first of her acclaimed Farseer novels, Assassin’s Apprentice, which introduced the characters of FitzChivalry Farseer and his uncanny friend the Fool. A watershed moment in modern fantasy, this novel—and those that followed—broke exciting new ground in a beloved genre. Together with George R. R. Martin, Robin Hobb helped pave the way for such talented new voices as Scott Lynch, Brandon Sanderson, and Naomi Novik.

Over the years, Hobb’s imagination has soared throughout the mythic lands of the Six Duchies in such bestselling series as the Liveship Traders Trilogy and the Rain Wilds Chronicles. But no matter how far she roamed, her heart always remained with Fitz. And now, at last, she has come home, with an astonishing new novel that opens a dark and gripping chapter in the Farseer saga.

FitzChivalry—royal bastard and former king’s assassin—has left his life of intrigue behind. As far as the rest of the world knows, FitzChivalry Farseer is dead and buried. Masquerading as Tom Badgerlock, Fitz is now married to his childhood sweetheart, Molly, and leading the quiet life of a country squire.

Though Fitz is haunted by the disappearance of the Fool, who did so much to shape Fitz into the man he has become, such private hurts are put aside in the business of daily life, at least until the appearance of menacing, pale-skinned strangers casts a sinister shadow over Fitz’s past . . . and his future.

Now, to protect his new life, the former assassin must once again take up his old one. . .

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "FOOL." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


Until midnight tonight, it appears that all the installments in L. E. Modesitt, jr.'s Recluce and Imager series are on sale for only 2.99$ each! Here's the link.

And here's the blurb for The Magic of Recluce:

With The Magic of Recluce, L.E. Modesitt made his impressive hardcover debut, breaking out in wide scope and grand scale with a novel in the great tradition of the war between good and evil in a wonderful fantasy world. Modesitt had been producing fast-paced, slickly-written novels of SF adventure, often compared to the work of Keith Laumer and Gordon R. Dickson. Then, in his biggest and best book yet, he broadened his canvas and turned to fantasy and magic, stepping immediately into the front rank of contemporary fantasy writers.

The Magic of Recluce is a carefully-plotted fantasy novel of character about the growth and education of a young magician. In it, Modesitt confronts real moral issues with gripping force, builds atmosphere slowly and convincingly and gives his central character, Lerris, real intellectual challenges. This is the kind of highly-rationalized fantasy that Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson write when they write fantasy, colorful and detailed.

He is given the standard two options: permanent exile from Recluce or the dangergeld, a complex, rule-laden wanderjahr in the lands beyond Recluce with the aim of learning how the world works and what his place in it might be. Many do not survive. He chooses dangergeld.

Though magic is rarely discussed openly in Recluce, it becomes clear, when Lerris is sent into intensive training for his quest, that he has a natural talent for it during his weapons lessons. And he will need magic in the lands beyond, where the power of the Chaos Wizards reigns unchecked. He must learn to use his powers in an orderly way or fall prey to Chaos.

Lerris may resent order, but he has no difficulty choosing good over evil. As he begins his lonely journey, he falls into the company of a gray magician, once of Recluce, who tutors him in the use of magic and shows him some of the devastation caused by the Chaos Wizards in the great wars between Chaos and Order of past times.

Lerris pursues a quest for knowledge and power that leads him across strange lands, through the ghostly ruins of the old capitol of Chaos, down the white roads of the Chaos Wizards to a final battle with the archenemy of Order, discovering in the end true control of magic, true love, and the beginning of true wisdom. An epic adventure, The Magic of Recluce0, is a triumph of fantasy.

The Magic of Recluce is the first book of the saga of Recluce.