The Amber Wizard

Since it made very little sense to run a contest on a forthcoming fantasy novel without its book review, it was decided that the review needed to be posted now instead of closer to the book's release date. . .

I met David Forbes on the message boards at Before long, I agreed to review his upcoming fantasy novel. Published by HarperCollins, The Amber Wizard will be published at the end of March. Knowing how hard it can be for new writers to receive some exposure, I promised Forbes that -- if I found his book to my liking -- I would do my best to spread the word around.

The worlbuilding is superior to that of a majority of fantasy series out there. And the funny thing is that Forbes only offers us a glimpse of his universe. Yet there are numerous hints which indicate that there is definitely more depth to Osseria than what we discover within the pages of The Amber Wizard. The author possesses a fine eye for details, which is another feather in his cap. And during the Sundering and Dian's Stair scenes, the imagery is akin to that of Stephen R. Donaldson's classic Covenant books.

When one reads the work of a new author, you always attempt to figure out which writers he or she reminds you of. Oddly enough, I was unable to do just that with Forbes. Not that his writing is alien or exotic; it's just that I could not put my finger on anyone in particular. However, at least at the beginning of the tale, The Amber Wizard feels a lot like Tad Williams' Shadowmarch.

The characterizations are adequate. I get the feeling that the author played it safe, and that we'll learn a little more about the different characters in the sequels. Although there are a lot of hints pertaining to things to come, there is little character growth in this book. The only negative aspect of the characterizations would have to be that the siblings' rivalry is rather cliché. With the overachieving older brother doing everything he can to please a demanding father; the younger brother attempting to emulate the eldest, but never quite able to reach that level; the beautiful, smart, perceptive older sister -- the bitch; and the younger sister -- their father's favorite, she is not as good-looking, but extremely intelligent. Now, that doesn't take anything away from the story, yet I thought it was a little too easy.

The pace is brisk enough, at times too fast for my taste. It certainly keeps you turning those pages. On the other hand, I felt that Forbes should have dwelled a little more on a number of sequences. Especially those concerning the period of time two characters spent at Hethnost, where they study to become wizards. Well, almost overnight, it seems, it looks as though they have become veterans.For those readers who enjoy a lot of action, there are enough battle scenes to satisfy everyone!

Another facet of The Amber Wizard which should please fantasy fans is the fact that it's a self-contained story. Although the opening chapter of a much larger tale, it reads as a stand-alone book.

As far as shortcomings are concerned, there is nothing major to report. The only aspect which I found annoying at times was the numerous "Perry Mason" scenes, where characters just sit down to discuss what just occurred. I am acutely aware that this was done to make sure that everything was clear in the reader's mind. But in my opinion, they were irrelevant. The storylines are engaging, the plotlines are interesting, the pace is good; I felt that they should let the story tell itself instead of trying to explain every little thing, especially since it did not require any clarification. Those scenes simply broke the rhythm of the novel. As a reader, I wanted to learn what happened next, not to dwell on what had just taken place to make sure I understood what was going on. My only other complaint would have to be that the characters think too much. The narrative always elaborates on their mindsets. So it was more or less nonpertinent to have them "think" direct thoughts (in italic) afterward, when the narrative had just demonstrated how they felt. I felt that the author should elect to go with one or the other, but not the two together. My personal preference would have to be the narrative, which I found relatively fluid throughout the novel.

Forbes closes the show with an unexpected -- and quite satisfying -- ending. For the last hundred pages or so, I thought I could see the ending coming from a mile away. But the author has a few tricks up his sleeve, and he totally misdirected me. And I am now curious to read the sequel.

Newcomer David Forbes offers us a solid effort. Indeed, The Amber Wizard makes a fine addition to any fantasy collection. Plus, the fact that it's being released in paperback makes purchasing it affordable to all readers. To learn more, check out

Like Brandon Sanderson last year, David Forbes shows a lot of potential, and could well become one of the bright new voices in the fantasy genre. And there is never too many of those! He is definitely someone to keep an eye on. . .

The final verdict: 7.5/10

Win a free copy of David Forbes' THE AMBER WIZARD

Just got word from my contact at HarperCollins, and they are giving me the "go ahead" to set up yet another contest. This time, we have a copy of David Forbes' The Amber Wizard up for grabs. As I mentioned in my previous post, my review of this novel will appear on the blog in the near future. Meanwhile, you can visit, where you can read the prologue and the first chapter.

With The Amber Wizard, the author offers us a solid effort. Like Brandon Sanderson last year, David Forbes shows a lot of potential, and could well become one of the bright new voices in the fantasy genre. Which is why I'm happy to have the opportunity to help generate some interest for his upcoming fantasy novel.

As usual, the rules are quite simple. Just register be sending your full email address at reviews@(NO-SPAM) (get rid of the No-Spam thing). The header must read "THE AMBER WIZARD" or your email will be deleted. Once the name of the winner is announced, he or she will have the novel delivered right to their doorstep! It doesn't get easier than that!;-)

Good luck to all the participants!

What's new. . .

Hi guys!

Here is a little update concerning what's going on with me. First of all, I have accepted Dag's offer and I am now a member of the staff at If you have never been there, you should check it out! As the name implies, it's a website that caters to all your fantasy and science fiction needs!;-) We don't exactly know what it is that I'll do for now, but we are definitely interested in working together. Many of my upcoming interviews will be done in collaboration with them from now on.

Speaking of interviews, I have part 2 of that Steven Erikson interview coming up. I should also be receiving Brandon Sanderson's answers to an email interview we did in the near future. I have emailed my questions to Naomi Novik yesterday, so this is another Q&A that will see the light soon. And Transworld is checking out Paul Kearney's availability for an interview. In addition, I have queried Time Warner Books about the possibility to do one with David Eddings, and HarperCollins for something with Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Keep your fingers crossed!;-)

Some are wondering why my book review of David Forbes' The Amber Wizard has yet to appear on the blog. It's not that it's a bad book. Quite the contrary, I thought it was a good read. It's just that both the author and HarperCollins would prefer for the review to appear online closer to the book's release date. We are still waiting for HC to see exactly when I will post it. . .

On a different note,, after translating my R. Scott Bakker interview into French, are about to do the same with my Steven Erikson Q&A. As I said before, if anyone here is interested in translating my interviews in foreign languages, I'm always happy to grant permission. Just email me and we'll swing it!:-)

That's about it for now. . . Oh yes, many of you will be pleased to learn that I have finally begun Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon! Sitting on my shelves for more than 5 years, it was about time for me to get down to it, I know!

Have a good one!

Win a free copy of Paul Kearney's THE MARK OF RAN

Yep, we have a new contest!:-)

Transworld has kindly accepted to hook up 4 lucky winners with a copy of Paul Kearney's The Mark of Ran. As always, registration is easy. Just send your full mailing address to reviews@(NO-SPAM) (removing the No-Spam thing, of course). Make sure the header reads "The Mark of Ran," otherwise your email will simply be deleted.

The names of the winners will be announced in about two weeks' time. At which point, those four lucky guys and gals will have the book delievered right at their doorstep!;-)

Good luck to all the participants! And this time around, since people from so many different fantasy message boards visit the blog, please include your nickname. That way, when I announce the name of the winners I can also know where they hang out, and other people will actually recognize them.

Best of luck to all of you! And stay tuned for more!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 24th)

In hardcover:

George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows drops 5 positions, finishing its tenth week on the NYT list at number 27.

Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams is down 3 spots, ending its 14th week on the bestseller list at number 28.

In paperback:

Troy Denning's The Swarm War goes down 11 positions, finishing its third week on the prestigious list at number 34.

Terry Goodkind's PHANTOM won't be released until next summer. . .

Tor Books has just notified me that Terry Goodkind's new book, Phantom, initially scheduled to be released in March, won't come out until July 2006.

There will be a contest for a free copy of the novel, but unfortunately for the fans, it will have to wait a while. . .

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 17th)

In hardcover:

George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows climbs up 3 spots, ending its 9th week on the NYT list at number 22.

Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams is down 5 positions, finishing its 13th week on the bestseller list at number 25.

In paperback:

Troy Denning's The Swarm War is down 7 spots, ending its second week on the NYT list at number 23.

Submit your questions for yet another Steven Erikson interview!

Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you!;-)

Steven Erikson has agreed to do another interview with me! Okay, so I am acutely aware that numerous fans out there will want to kill me because of this good fortune I have. Which is why this interview will be comprised mostly of questions from Erikson's readers. And God knows they are legions! The stats concerning the first Q&A are ample evidence of that fact!:-)

As always, I will post about this on the message boards I frequent. So you can post your questions there, or you can do it here in the comment section. I will select the best questions (please refrain from questions that will automatically get us a RAFO), and they will be forwarded to the author.

I'll probably make the selection in about a week, so put your mind to this!

Prologue and first chapter of David Forbes' THE AMBER WIZARD

Hi there!

I'm currently reading David Forbes' The Amber Wizard, a fantasy novel published by HarperCollins which will be released later this spring. If you hang out at and, you have probably heard about it by now.

Anyway, if you are interested in a sneek peak, you can visit Forbes' website at, where you'll find the prologue and the first chapter of the book.

I will write my book review as soon as I'm done reading The Amber Wizard, of course. But if you want a taste, check out the website and find out for yourself!

Children of the Serpent Gate

After reading the previous two volumes of The Tears of Artamon trilogy, I was curious to see how it would all end. Although the series suffers from a number of shortcomings, there were enough positive aspects to maintain my interest.

Unfortunately, Children of the Serpent Gate is not the sort of climax I was eager for. Far from it, actually. . .

The worldbuilding remains what I consider the best facet of this tale. The Eastern European environment continues to be a welcome change from what is the norm in the current fantasy market.

Once more, Ash writes a smooth narrative. But the pace is a factor in this book. Some portions of the story are extremely sluggish, making it a chore to go through a number of chapters. And then, paradoxically, some scenes are incredibly rushed, especially toward the end.

As was the case with both Lord of Snow and Shadow and Prisoner of the Ironsea Tower, the characterizations are again what kills it for me. Juvenile for the most part, they make me feel like this trilogy should be aimed at a younger crowd. And the same can be said concerning the dialogues.

I was very much looking forward to certain storylines, especially the ones pertaining to the Darkhaouls and the children who are linked to them. For some reson, those plotlines fell well short of my expectations. Everything that had to do with Francia and the Commanderie showed a lot of potential, but in the end did not show as much depth as I expected.

The politicking has been a bit clumsy so far throughout the series, and that remains a bit of a problem in this book as well. Realism is an issue in several instances.

And I felt that the "all is well that ends well" sort of ending was lackluster. The fact that the scenes leading to the finale are rushed and lack substance doesn't help matters. Sadly, it doesn't bring the series to what I feel like is a satisfying close.

The Tears of Artamon showed some promise. Yet it doesn't live up to that promise, at least not in every facet of the story. Still, it is good and interesting enough to please young fantasy fans, especially those readers relatively new to the genre.

The final verdict: 6.5/10

The Historian contest winners!

The names of the winners have finally been drawn. Which means that those three guys and gal will now receive a copy of the NYT bestseller in the near future!

The winners are:

David Forbes, from Mechanicsburg, PA.
Anna Chernyshenko, from Staten Island, NY.
Phillip Denton, from Dandridge, TN.

Many thanks to Time Warner Book. Without their support, this contest would not have been possible. And thanks to all the participants!

I'm hammering out the details concerning a number of other contests, so stay tuned for more!;-)

The Christian Guide to Fantasy

Sad but true, this is no joke. Larry back on brought this website to my attention. It does at times raise a few interesting viewpoints. Some find it amusing, others deem it pathetic. Take a look for yourself and I'll let you decide. . .

The thing which did it for me was the "Christian Morality" meter. It rates every series as harmless, good, dangerous, etc.

Has it come down to this? Have Christians become so insecure about their own faith that they feel the need to come up with a website such as this??? If so, then the Lord have mercy. . .

Check it out:

Another good blog to check out for fantasy book reviews

I discovered this one by hanging out at Rob is an admin and a book reviewer there. I've read a number of his reviews, and I think it's worth having a look every once in a while!;-)

You can find his blog here:

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 10th)

In hardcover:

Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams is on the rise, up one spot to end its 12th week on the NYT list at number 20.

James Luceno's The Rise of Darth Vader is also on the rise, up 2 positions to finish its sixth week on the bestseller list at number 21.

George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows is down 3 spots, ending its 8th week on the prestigious list at number 25.

Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes is down 3 positions, finishing its 14th week on the NYT list at number 35.

In paperback:

A new Star Wars novel, Troy Denning's The Swarm War, debuts at number 16.

Terry Goodkind's Chainfire is on the decline, dropping 11 spots and ending its fifth week on the bestseller list at number 34.

More books to win!

Jay, over at, has set up a new contest.

The first place winner will receive all 3 books of the Erevis Cale trilogy, Twilight Falling, Dawn of Night and the recently released Midnight's Mask all autographed by Paul S. Kemp.

I have never read any of Kemp's novels, but Jay assures me that they are great. And picky reader that he is, I'm inclined to believe him!;-)

So if anyone is interested, just log on to

Prisoner of the Ironsea Tower

I was curious to read the second volume of The Tears of Artamon, if only to discover if the tale indeed had more depth than what a first glance had revealed. And not surprisingly, Prisoner of the Ironsea Tower contains evidence that that's the case.

The narrative is, once more, rather smooth. It makes this book an easy read. The dialogues, however, often leave a lot to be desired. Not all, mind you, but many of them. Especially everything that has to do with Emperor Eugene, Malusha, Astasia, and a few others. I'll elaborate a little more on that when I focus on the characterizations.

One thing about Sarah Ash, she can definitely write an evocative narrative. Once again, the imagery is at times arresting.

The pace is very similar to that of its predecessor. The rhythm of a number of scenes can be sluggish, while other scenes seem rushed to some extent. But overall, the pace is fluid enough not to be an issue.

The worldbuilding continues to be interesting, revealing yet more depth to this story.We learn more about Francia and its inhabitants. I have a feeling that the Francian Commanderie will play a major role in the final volume. The author also introduces us to the volcanic land of Ty Nagar, where the Serpent Gate is situated.

New storylines enrich the existing plotlines. The addition of the two mysterious Francian characters, especially, hints at many things to come. I particularly enjoyed Ash's take on the dragons, distancing herself from the traditional mold. We discover a lot more concerning the Drakhaouls and their origin. Secrets pertaining to the Tears of Artamon are also revealed. And Sarah Ash manages to keep you turning those pages with a few unanticipated surprises.

Unfortunately, as was the case with Lord of Snow and Shadows, you can see some of the plot twists coming from a mile away. And on the downside, the ending is easily predicted far in advance.

The novel's main shortcoming remains the characterizations. In my previous book review I stated that they were clumsy at times. I now realize that I was wrong in my assumption. The characterizations are not clumsy, they are juvenile. And I don't mean this in a derogatory way. It's just that Ash's characterizations remind me of those of authors such as R. A. Salvatore, J. V. Jones, and Elizabeth Haydon. Hence, fans of those writers could well enjoy this series. But it's a far cry from Robin Hobb's subtle human touch which makes her characters so special.

In conclusion, I'm persuaded that this trilogy could be highly successful if it was marketed toward a younger audience. God knows there are legions of teenagers purchasing fantasy novels! Truth to tell, it might not be greeted with the same sort of enthusiasm by aficionados of the genre and fans of such authors as Martin, Erikson, Miéville, Bakker, Jordan, Hobb, etc. I feel it's just not complex and ambitious enough. . .

The final verdict: 7/10

If you wish to translate my interviews. . .

Hi guys!

I have just been asked by a reader if I would permit him to translate my R. Scott Bakker interview so he could post it on a French website. This has also happened in the past. My Robin Hobb interview was translated into French and German, and my Tad Williams was translated in German and Italian.

By perusing the blog's stats this morning, I've realized that the Steven Erikson interview has been around the globe many times over!;-) Thank you all for that! In any event, readers have posted about it on several foreign websites and message boards. And I just wanted everyone to know that if you are interested in translating it so that people whose understanding of the English language is not that good can enjoy it, then just get in touch with me and we'll set it up!:-)

The same thing goes for the interviews I did in 2005:

David B. Coe
Tad Williams
L. E. Modesitt, jr.
Robin Hobb
R. Scott Bakker

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 3rd)

In hardcover:

Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams is down 3 spots, ending its 11th week on the NYT list at number 21.

George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows drops down 2 positions, finishing its seventh week on the bestseller list at number 22.

James Luceno's The Rise of Darth Vader maintains its position, ending its fifth week on the prestigious list at number 23.

Diana Gabaldon's A Breath of Snow and Ashes is down 5 spots, finishing its 13th week on the charts at number 32.

In paperback:

Terry Goodkind's Chainfire continues to do well, up 2 positions to end its fourth week at number 23.

Another opportunity for fans to win a copy of Erikson's THE BONEHUNTERS

Just saw this on

If anyone is interested, just click on the link here:

Best of luck!;-)

2005 Pimp of the Year!

Well, I'm definitely movin' on up in the world!;-)

My polls, posts, book reviews, and contests have earned me the coveted Other Fantasy Pimp of the Year award! Thanks to everyone who has voted for me!

The Other Fantasy message board is a cool place to check out. Give it a shot:

And I just want everyone to know that I'll keep on pimpin' throughout 2006!:-)

Win a free copy of Elizabeth Kostova's THE HISTORIAN

Hi there!

Here's the first -- and hopefully not the last -- contest of the year! In collaboration with Time Warner Books, we now have 3 copies of Elizabeth Kostova's NYT bestseller, The Historian, up for grabs!

Most of you know the drill by now.:-) Simply send an email (remove the No-Spam addition) containing your full mailing address at reviews@(NO-SPAM), with the header "HISTORIAN." The name of the lucky winners will be drawn in about two weeks. At which time, the pertinent information will be forwarded to Time Warner Books. As always, the novel will be delivered right to their doorstep!

Just before the Holidays, I was working hard trying to set up other contests for you guys. Publishers get back on track tomorrow morning, so hopefully I'll have some good news in that regard in the near future.

Good luck to all the participants!;-)

New Steven Erikson Interview

Here is the interview everyone has been waiting for!:-)


Dear Mr. Erikson, Let me start by thanking you for being gracious enough to take some precious time off your indubitably busy schedule to answer these questions. But with the imminent release of THE BONEHUNTERS, know that your fans are extremely excited about this chance to hear from you in person.

- Is there a character that you particularly enjoy/enjoyed writing? Why is that? By the same token, is there a character that you absolutely don't like writing about? For what reason?

For me it's important that I enjoy the characters I write about, or rather, those whose points of view I am using. I need there to be something intrinsically interesting in them. Often it's nothing obvious, either. In real life, people don't tell you what their character is -- it's revealed, in increments, through what they say and what they do. In that sense, character is subtle, and I certainly try to make it so in my fiction. So, I'll have either a full history of the character I am using, or just its bones if that person is 'new' to the series. By bones I mean there's a sense of their history, but not all the details are fleshed out -- that comes as I write them at the first draft stage -- so I try to start with the same feel of mystery that exists with every new person each of us meets in real life. Anyway, I don't not like writing about any characters, even the despicable ones. As for favourites, again it's a subtle thing with me, as each character delivers something different. For Karsa Orlong, for example, it's his barrelling through things, both verbally and physically, and often in ways that undermine the cliches regards 'barbarians' or, even more pleasing (for me), undermines the genre's conventions. On a quieter side, I did enjoy writing both Apsalar and Scillara in The Bonehunters: that they are thematic opposites with romantic ties to one character in particular only makes it more fascinating.

I'll never pound anyone over the head with characterisation -- turns out there's some of my readers who'd rather I did just that. Oh well.

- What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?

Yikes. Setting things up then doing the unexpected, I suppose. With well-buried motivations among many of the major players in the series, I think I can continue to surprise readers. There's a few of those instances in The Bonehunters, including what I'll call an inverted double-bind stick-the-knife-in reversal thing (think the phrase will catch on?), that's clearly set up one way only to ... well, don't want to give too much away here.

Years ago, when I was learning the craft of fiction at university workshops in Victoria and Iowa, I observed a peculiar aversion to certain elements of narrative fiction; principally, plot and drama. Neither, it seemed, belonged in serious literature. This was the era of kitchen-sink stories and Carver wannabes. Plot was for genre; better the characters did nothing and talked a lot but talked about nothing while doing it, all of which was supposed to lead to some profound epiphany but mostly led to blank looks from others in the class. As for drama, well, drama was out. This was also the time of the ascendancy of the Cynical School of Fiction. Wherein we were taught that true drama doesn't exist, and any attempt at drama in fiction was in fact /melodrama/. In other words, because the world was the way it was, and fiction was its truest reflection, there was no such thing as 'earned emotion' -- nothing hard and heavy in fiction was in fact honest. Why? Because it was hard and heavy, of course. So there I was, quietly railing against such notions and writing 'serious' fiction that had people actually doing things and had things actually happen and they were often hard and heavy and the response was as you'd expect. The only loud kudos came when I wrote flat out comedy, probably because my comedy was of a cynical, sarcastic nature. Only what I was laughing at was not always what everyone else was laughing at.

One might say I fell into genre writing in order to use both plot and drama, and there might be some truth in that. It's hard to be analytical about such things. After all, I love reading Homer and Homer's full of drama. Nasty, brutal drama. It may also be a case of wrong place, wrong time. Which is probably the most likely, so I'll stop now.

- What author makes you shake your head in admiration?

Lots and lots. John Gardner, Gustav Hasford, Mark Helprin, Atwood (no, just kidding on the last one. I shake my head all right, just not in admiration), some Doris Lessing. In fantasy, I think Robin Hobb is a very clever, very subtle writer. Alas, I'm not reading much fantasy these days, although I enoyed Tim Lebbon's new one and I'm very interesting in how reviewers will take David Keck's first novel..

- Prior to its American release, Tor Books allowed you to take care of a number of inconsistencies found within GARDENS OF THE MOON. Are there any plans to do the same with the UK version?

None of which I am aware. There weren't many -- one big gender correction, though -- but the rest was pretty minor.

- Now that many purists and aficionados consider you one of the best fantasy authors in the world, is there added pressure when it comes down to writing a new addition to the series?

If there's pressure, it's to do with time management -- the edit of The Bonehunters especially involved a lot of back and forth, given its length -- which meant I had to drop everything else at that time. Some other manuscripts needed some editing as well, then TOR sent me on a signing/reading junket down the US West Coast which while fun took five days out of my writing schedule. That kinda pressure, sure.

The other kind, dealing with the expectations of readers, the answer is no, not at all. The thing's mapped out so I know what I'm doing (I hope that simply relieves your readers rather than coming across as boastful -- really, I do know what I'm doing!) and I can see the light at the tunnel's end. As mentioned earlier, I'm fairly certain I will surprise readers with future events, with enough twists and turns to keep them reading.

- What would you say was the hardest part of the entire process involved in the writing of the Tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen? Each new addition reveals yet more depth to a series which has shown just how rich and complex it truly is. What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write the series in the first place?

The first question: the hardest part was twofold. One was finding a publisher. The second was convincing myself that writing the series really has been as easy as it has seemed and continues to seem -- I mean, it should be hard, right? The plot-lines and arcs are so folded and interwoven you could make a trampoline out of them strong enough to handle a plummeting bus. And yet it all arrives, timely and satisfying (to me) with nary a wayward step. It feels uncanny, Patrick. I wasn't drawn to halt once in the entire writing of Midnight Tides, for example. Not even a half-hour's pause. At times I felt like a spectator to the whole creation process. Pretty much the same for The Bonehunters and now Reaper's Gale. It just flows. Scary.

The second question: oh the sparks were all negative things, frustrations at the genre's confounding predictability. Wanting to write something in fantasy I myself would like to read (and not just me, but Cam as well -- the one reader who stays in my head as I write). Wanting to kick the tropes around, wanting to get rid of that endless quasi-medieval class-conscious blueblood crap. Wanting a fantasy world as multicultural as this one (the preponderance of white-skinned heroes and blonde princesses ... man, what century is this?). Wanting a fantasy world with a history beyond the Dark Lord of three hundred years ago who's found a rock that will help him rise again and do, oh, bad things; a world with geology and geography, etc.

Sure, there's some good stuff out there, but it wasn't enough. Maybe still isn't.

- If you could go back in time, what advice would you give the younger Steven Erikson concerning his writing career?

Find the secret potion that would de-complicate Gardens of the Moon. It must exist. Problem was/is, I don't see anything confusing in it. Wish I could, wish I did. The world was as full for me then as it is now -- and to write a history the way I wanted to, well, I still haven't got an answer. Poor young Steven Erikson -- sorry, mate, you're on your own.

- Is a World Fantasy Award something you covet?

Not really. It'd be nice, eventually, but I don't toss and turn at night chewing on it. Having been a judge ... well, never mind that -- the system does not really allow for books in a series (barring the > first one). It would be nice to see a special category for series, though.

- What's the progress report pertaining to REAPER'S GALE? Is it likely that the book will be released a year following THE BONEHUNTERS?

From my own standpoint, progress is just fine. The first half of a novel (for me) always takes longer than the second half. It's where everything is set up, after all. The second half is the pay-off -- which means more action (drama?), which is always quicker to write. I'm at that halfway point right now in Reaper's Gale, so the pace is just about right.

To a large extent, however, my pace and completion date do not relate much to release dates. The Bonehunters was done last spring, after all. Mysterious arcana is involved in the publishing house when it determines release dates. Outa my hands.

- What extensive research did the writing of the Tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen entail?

Nothing specific to the series. Research is something I do for fun, and the subject matter is all over the place. Quantum and post-quantum physics, the life and times of Ghengis Khan, Seahenge, bronze-age Ithaca, Lakota religion, modern war, ancient war, primatology, paleoanthropology, paleontology, terraforming planets, biology, the Crusades, cargo cults, the Templars, politics, literary criticism -- those in the last six or so months, I guess. Odd details will stay with me and will on occasion manifest in what I'm writing, or give me a new way of seeing something. Filling out an entire world, and all its cultures, is one of the things I enjoy the most, but it's also the most challenging. I don't want any close cultural ties between the Malazan ethos and our own -- our own including the canon of fantasy writing past and present. At the same time, the unavoidable reality exists that archetypes will cross over -- as part of our nature there's no escaping them, especially when writing stuff with a tragic flavour.

One of my early worries in devising a long series was the recognition that, over the years spent writing it, my perspective would change. I thought that would be a problem, as the thematic elements in later books would 'outdate' those of the early ones. I've since stopped worrying -- in some respects it's inevitable, and it's what assures me I won't be continually rewriting the same story -- just as characters evolve, so too should the writer. Interests flower then die away and that's just the way it is. I see that evolution now as a positive force.

Back to the question. The 'research' was part of my schooling and subsequent field work. That field work was exclusively archaeological, not anthropological. But I found that anthropology is like sociology and psychology -- observable all around you, no matter where you are. And the archaeology took me places I would not have otherwise ventured into, which gave me more to observe in an 'anthropological' way (three months with a crew of seven people in the wilderness pretty much runs the gamut of the human condition, and that's no lie).

- The series has garnered what can best be described as a cult following. However, many doubt that it will ever become "mainstream." With that in mind, how rewarding is it to realize how successful the series has been and continues to be to this day?

It certainly seems the case that people either hate the series or love it; and even among the latter there's little concensus in what works for them and what doesn't. That part is somewhat baffling, I admit. The range of opinions among my readers often leaves my jaw hanging, and I'm finding I have to be careful of visiting the fan site too often -- some things I read can be a real downer. Writing is an isolated activity, and there are times when being isolated is precisely what the writer needs. With the internet providing both quick, potentially interactive feedback, and a forum for speculation, criticism and so on, it has the power to both enliven the writer and take the wind out of his or her sails. Now, that is entirely legitimate and I would never want the fans to curtail their opinions -- the discipline issue is with me, not them, and is one of the main reasons I have become a far less frequent visitor.

That said, reader feedback is important -- especially in catching errors of detail and continuity and the like. They don't miss a thing. Animals! I wouldn't have it any other way, though.

- I am aware that at least GARDENS OF THE MOON has been translated in French. How many foreign sales have you been able to secure so far?

For a time there all these books would arrive at my door -- Polish, Czech, Greek, Dutch, German, etc. Not one or two copies, but ten, twenty -- I had no idea what to do with them. Anyway, I'm not sure how many foreign rights have been sold, nor all the languages concerned. But man, some of the covers!

- What's the progress reports on the upcoming novellas? Anything new you wish to share with your fans? Something to wet their appetite. . .

Well, I'm due to deliver Pete Crowther (PS Publishing) another Bauchelain/Korbal Broach novella this year (2006); and he has also asked me for a short story with the same characters and I just might oblige him (it's very hard to say 'no' to Pete -- he's too nice, damn him). When I started writing, it was short stories exclusively. Certainly one of the hardest forms of narrative -- my hat's off to all those writers whittling away with short stories. And I find I am looking forward to tackling one after all these years.

- You have been acknowledged as one of the best writers in the genre? Where do you think you stand in the fantasy field?

Beside the poppies.I don't really know and don't think much about it, I'm afraid. Sorry!

- The fact that there is a website dedicated to your work is an indication that interaction with your readers is important to you as an author. I know that you haven't had the chance to do so in a while, but how special is it to have the chance to interact directly with your fans?

Ah, see my comments above.

- Without giving anything away, what can you tell us of THE BONEHUNTERS? Are you satisfied with the way the book turned out? Anything you wish to share pertaining to REAPER'S GALE?

The Bonehunters is big. Didn't feel it at the time, but then I toggled the word count. The rebellion in Seven Cities needed wrapping up and that is what the novel does, more or less. Some of its story lines tie Midnight Tides a little closer to the others; and Reaper's Gale will tighten that weave considerably.

There's plenty of imperial stuff in The Bonehunters -- politics and how legends can be reworked, reshaped, to suit the present. Don't want to give too much away, but there may be a few screams of outrage on occasion....

- It took many years for you to find an American publisher. In the past, you have claimed that the concensus was that the books were too complex for US audiences. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that the series was probably too vast in scope for most publishers?

Not a claim. I was told that to my face. Same for my agents. I don't recall hearing any concerns about the length of the series. A lot of long series originated in the States, so I don't think that was ever an issue.

- Are you surprised by what little support you receive from the Canadian media? You and R. Scott Bakker rank among the best fantasy authors out there, yet both of you Canucks appear to get very little recognition in your own country.

Surprised? No. I had good reasons for packing up my manuscripts and moving to the UK. If I elaborate on this subject, Patrick, you're looking at another fifty thousand words, easy. Canada's an odd country. It seems to like having maybe ten 'big' writers around at any one time -- and some of those are only 'big' because people in some other country liked them enough for a few shortlistings on awards. And that is the 'literary' side. Regards all us genre hacks, not a chance. Mind you, it doesn't help when other Canadian writers of fantasy and sf diss the genres in interviews ('I write /speculative/ fiction'). Yeah, well, all fiction is speculative....

- Are you perplexed by the fact that Tor Books doesn't market you more aggressively? The immense success of such writers as Robert Jordan and George R. R. Martin demonstrates that there is a market for series vast in scope and quality. But it seems that Tor hasn't been making much noise about your books so far.

I'm easy on all that. Less time on the road for me means more time to write! Tor's doing fine by my regard.

- As an archaeologist and an anthropologist, do you think that you influence your novels in a manner that an "ordinary" writer can't quite match?

I don't know any ordinary writers, to be honest. We're all strangely twisted. In any case, those disciplines aren't secret code -- there are more books coming out on those subjects for the layperson than ever before (I should know, I buy most of them). I'd imagine it would be essential for any writer seeking to create a new world or culture to do some groundwork before plunging in. Keeping in mind that all the humanities have theoretical underpinnings that wobble loose on occasion, forcing new paradigms in the field -- and there's a ripple effect -- so that something in, say, paleobotony can change the archaeogical take on prehistoric cultures dwelling close to glaciers, for example; which in turn alters views on the first peopling of the New World, which can then flip a hundred years of entrenched dogma on its ass. And the telling of all that in turn reveals something about human psychology and the tribal characteristics of academia, including racism, sexism and intellectual fascism.

I just read a great example of this by the way. Some human footprints were found in Mexico, in a bed of solidified volcanic ash. Initially dated at thirteen or so thousand years old. Well, that seemed a bit early for some people (see above note on dogma), so a second team was sent there to take a look. They observed the prints, confirmed that indeed they were made when the ash was mud; then proceeded to use potassium-argon dating on the volcanic material. And came up with a fixed date of 1.3 million years. Their conclusion? 'Those aren't footprints.'

My old highschool debating teacher would howl at that one. Anyway, the disciplines are motile, which is a very good thing as Martha Stewart would say. So, for research purposes, take it all with a pound of salt.

And here are a few questions submitted by your numerous fans. Several of them have encouraged me to remind you to make more regular appearances at www.!

- Any solid news concerning an RPG adaption of the Malazan Empire?

Yes. No. A florida-based OGL paper-based rpg company (PCI) has expressed interest and the matter's sitting with my agent right now. Has been for some time, actually. Same for the Dabel Brothers doing a graphic novel of Gardens of the Moon.

- Any chance of publishing a world map ahead of the Encyclopedia to satisfy the geography junkies out there?

We're all over the map on that one. I've since learned to make no bold promises. It does exist. A few people have seen it.

- Reading the books, one gets the impression that the Empire knew something big was coming and planned for it accordingly (i.e. Laseen taking over, Kel and Dancer ascending, inversion of the ranks, making sure that the Master of the Deck was Malazan -- even though it ended up being luck that it even happened -- forming alliances with powerful beings, etc...). Would you be willing to shed some light on just how much the Empire knew in advance? Not anything big, just some tidbits. . .

Ah now, that's a central plot-line in the series. But for clarification, the 'empire' knew nothing -- the emperor and his scary cohort might be another matter. As for Laseen, well, she's a little busy these days....

- Will the mysterious Assail continent be visited in any of the next four books?

Nope. Not from me, that is.

- Have we met Fisher Kel Tath already in the series and if not, will we ?

No, we haven't met him. I've thought about his making an appearance, but I would need to talk with Cam about that, since Fisher's tale is fairly integral with one of Cam's planned novels in the Malazan world.

- Will we get a firm timeline for the Malazan Empire, aside from the chronology for the world as a whole?

I suppose when we get around to finalising the Encyclopedia, we'll end up having to creep into that funhouse.

Well, thanks again for accepting to do this. I wish you continued success, and wish you the best for the release of THE BONEHUNTERS.

Thanks, Patrick.



2005 INDEX

Hi guys!

Let me begin by wishing you all a Happy New Year!:-) 2005 was a particularly crazy year for this blog. What was only supposed to be a temporary experiment turned out to be something quite special to me. Thanks to you all!

Here is the year in numbers: The blog has attracted 18, 819 visitors from 75 different countries, who have perused a total of 34, 447 pages! This is unreal!

There has been book reviews, articles, bestseller lists, contests, etc. And hopefully we can still maintain this cadence in 2006!

Since more and more people seem to be discovering this blog of mine, I've decided to write a list of last year's book reviews. That seems to be the main reason why people lurk around here. . .;-)




- Children of Amarid (David B. Coe)
- The Outlanders (David B. Coe)
- Eagle-Sage (David B. Coe)


- Shadowmarch (Tad Williams)
- Ship of Magic (Robin Hobb)
- Mad Ship (Robin Hobb)
- Ship of Destiny (Robin Hobb)


- The Runes of the Earth (Stephen R. Donaldson)
- The Silences of Home (Caitlin Sweet)
- Quicksilver (Neal Stephenson)


- Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (Matthew Stover)
- The Confusion (Neal Stephenson)
- The System of the World (Neal Stephenson)


- The Darkness that Comes Before (R. Scott Bakker)
- The Warrior-Prophet (R. Scott Bakker)
- Fool's Errand (Robin Hobb)
- Golden Fool (Robin Hobb)


- Fool's Fate (Robin Hobb)
- It's Only Temporary (Eric Shapiro)
- In the King's Service (Katherine Kurtz)
- The Curse of Chalion (Lois McMaster Bujold)
- Paladin of Souls (Lois McMaster Bujold)


- The Years of Rice and Salt (Kim Stanley Robinson)
- Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman)


- The Golden Compass (Philip Pullman)
- The Subtle Knife (Philip Pullman)
- The Amber Spyglass (Philip Pullman)
- Dune: The Butlerian Jihad (Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson)


- Dune: The Machine Crusade (Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson)
- Dune: The Battle of Corrin (Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson)
- Shaman's Crossing (Robin Hobb)


- One Palestine, Complete (Tom Segev)
- Anansi Boys (Neil Gaiman)
- Knife of Dreams (Robert Jordan)
- Legacies (L. E. Modesitt, jr.)
- Bloodline of the Holy Grail (Laurence Gardner)


- Darknesses (L. E. Modesitt, jr.)
- Scepters (L. E. Modesitt, jr.)
- Thud! (Terry Pratchett)
- Kitty and the Midnight Hour (Carrie Vaughn)


- The Thousandfold Thought (R. Scott Bakker)
- The Radioactive redhead (John Zakour and Lawrence Ganem)
- Giants of the Frost (Kim Wilkins)- Elantris (Brandon Sanderson)
- Lord of Snow and Shadows (Sarah Ash)