25 January 2012

Mark Lawrence - King of Thorns Fragments

Via the blog of Mark Lawrence, we receive the first fragment from his upcoming novel, the second book in the Broken Empire series, The King of Thorns:

"Brother Kent
In the red ruin of battle Brother Kent oft looks to have stepped from hell. Though in another life he would have tilled his fields and died abed, mourned by grandchildren. In combat Red Kent possesses a clarity that terrifies and lays waste. In all else he is a man confused by his own contradictions – a killer’s instincts married to a farmer’s soul. Not tall, not broad, but packed solid and quick, wide cheekbones, dark eyes flat with murder, bitten lips, scarred hands, thick-fingered, loyalty and the need to be loyal written through him."

I cannot wait for this book. Prince of Thorns was one of my favourite reads of 2011. Come on August!

24 January 2012

Introducing the rarest book in the universe

I would like to draw your attention to John Scalzi. The guy is an amazing writer and his blog is one that I like to follow the most. Now, at the recent Confusion science fiction and fantasy convention, the organisers thought it a good idea to gift him a copy of his own book, The Sagan Diary.

A normal person would just shrug and leave it. Not Scalzi. He licked it and signed it: " I hereby testify that this copy has been ensalivated by me - John Scalzi."

Then he got FOURTEEN other sci fi and fantasy authors and his wife to do the same.

The salivators are: Joe Abercrombie, Saladin Ahmed, Elizabeth Bear, Peter V. Brett, Tobias Buckell, Myke Cole, Jim C.Hines, Jay Lake, Scott Lynch, Cat Rambo, Patrick Rothfuss, Michelle Sagara, Kristine Smith and Brent Weeks.

I present The Legendary Book Of Epic Confusion (real title)

This makes it only book in existence today that has been licked and signed by fifteen brilliant authors. It's the best collectors edition in the history of earth.

No word yet how this unique peace of literary history is going to be disposed of. Most probably an auction. Man, I wish I had money...

Follow the brilliant John Scalzi here.

Hammered - Kevin Hearne

The Blurb: Thor, the Norse god of thunder, is worse than a blowhard and a bully - he's ruined countless lives and killed scores of innocents. After centuries, Viking vampire Leif Helgarson is ready to get his vengeance, and he's asked his friend Atticus O'Sullivan, the last of the Druids, to help take down this Norse nightmare.

One survival strategy has worked for Atticus for more than two thousand years: stay away from the guy with the lightning bolts. Plus things are heating up in his home base of Tempe, Arizona. There is a vapire turf war brewing, and Russion demon hunters who call themselves the Hammers of God are running rampant. Despite multiple warnings and portents of dire consequences, Atticus and Leif journey to the Norse plane of Asgard, where they team up with a werewolf, a sorcerer, and an army of frost giants for an epic showdown against vicious Valkyries, angry Norse gods, and the hammer wielding Thunder Thug himself.

So, here is the third Iron Druid book. Atticus is making life quite difficult for himself, attracting the attention of a lot of different gods, witches, vampires and all round bad guys. It makes for good reading though.

His first item of business is to go and steal a Golden Apple from Asgard to repay a promise made during the happenings in Hexed, to someone who has proven that you do not want to get on her bad side. And one thing about Atticus is that he repays his debts, even if he knows that in doing so, he pretty much screws himself. His Word is his bond and he stands by it. That is why that when he agreed to help Leif - his vampire lawyer, friend and sometime consumer of Atticus' blood - kill Thor, he meant it. 

The Morrigan warns him not to fo it. Jesus warns him not to. Yes, Atticus and Jesus hangs out and does some shots. It's one of my favourite scenes from the book. But Atticus promised.

He rides the giant squirrel, confers with frost giants and we meet some elementals along the way. We also find out why Thor is such a giant asshat. Leif, Gunnar and three other very strong people who have real issues with Thor goes on this mission. The final fight scene is done bloody brilliantly.

The story ends quite abruptly, in that it doesn't really end. The book stops, but it leaves the tale unfinished. At least his next book is around the corner, otherwise I would have been really pissed off at Mr. Hearne. 

All in all, Hammered is the best of the three published Iron Druid novels. The jokes are hilarious, and I really laughed myself half to death when Atticus described the difficulties in transporting five people between planes. Read the book, you'll know the part I mean when you get there. The passages where the Thor death squad describes their reasons for doing what they are doing is very touching. It brings sense and purpose to what is about to happen.

Clues are dropped about what is going to happen in the future books, but done in such a way as to really not interfere with the story told. All in all, it's brilliant. 


18 January 2012

Hexed - Kevin Hearne

The Blurb: Atticus O'Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn't care much for witches. Still, he's able to "make nice" with the local coven  by signing a mutually beneficial non-aggression treaty-when suddenly the witch population in modern day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. The new girls are not just bad,  they're badasses with a dark history on the German Side of WWII.

With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants, blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence,  and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch-hunt. But aidded by his magical sword, his neighbor's rocket propelled grenade launcher, and his vapire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong druid to Hex.

So Atticus and his crew is back for some more adventuring and fun. I must admit that I liked Hounded so much that I went out as soon as I finished it to buy Hexed. 

This tale starts off a few weeks after the events in Hounded. I'll try not to spoil the first book by giving something away in this review. Promise.

An old enemy of Atticus has resurfaced. Or if at least not an actual enemy, a group who tried to kill him during WWII. That seems like enough reason to whup their asses.

We meet a few more gods, Atticus quotes Shakespeare and Lolcatz in the same sentence and I still love the dog Oberon. Even if he's a lot less in the forefront of this book. The rest of the Coven steps into the story a bit, each bringing a bit to the tale. The Morrigan does show why she deserves to be feared. I'll run like all hell if she was close to me. It wouldn't help, but a man must try something yes? Oh, and we meet the Virgin Mary, which was nice. And I must say, the final fight scene was done brilliantly.

This whole book was written in five months, and it shows a bit. The jokes and action isn't as smoothly done as in Hounded. A lot of the decision making seems to be thought out a bit clumsily. It moves the story forward as it should, but it doesn't fit well with the characters. 

The story is more than fun to read, but it could have been more elegant. If I haven't read Hounded, it would have received an eight from me. But since I know Mr. Hearne can do a better job, it's a 6 from me.

17 January 2012

11 January 2012

Hounded - Kevin Hearne

The Blurb: Atticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbours and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer. Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

I first heard about Hounded in an review done on Fantasy Faction, and I was intrigued.  "To Amazon!" I shouted. Big was my disappointment when the book wasn't available on Kindle for Africa. Something to do with publishing rights or some such bull. Some frantic digging around the local bookshops lead to a copy. Quest completed.

This is the first book that I've read with a Druid as the main character. Atticus is 2,100 years old, older than Christianity and not as cynical as I thought he would be. He has integrated himself into modern America quite well, and the normal people see him as a hippy, or a 21 year old student. His lawyers are a vampire and a werewolf. And his best friend is his dog, Oberon. There are gods and witches. 

Now Oberon is an Irish Wolfhound, and Atticus used his druid magic so that they can talk. Some of the funniest parts of the book was the conversations between Atticus and Oberon. As any dog owner knows; dogs are bloody awesome and they should be able to talk! Oberon is my favourite by a country mile.

Is this a deep book, that will change your world view? Not in the least. Is it flippen hilarious, written well and a hoot to read? You better believe it! So if you are looking for some light, funny, well written Urban Fantasy, pick it up. You won't be disappointed. 


04 January 2012

The Black God's War by Moses Siregar III

The Blurb: Against the backdrop of epic warfare and the powers of ten mysterious gods, Lucia struggles to understand The Black One.
Her father-king wants war.
Her messianic brother wants peace.
The black god wants his due.
She suffers all the consequences.
King Vieri is losing his war against the lands of Pawelon. Feeling abandoned by his god, he forces his son Caio, the kingdom’s holy saviour, to lead his army. Victory ought to come soon.
To counter Caio’s powers, Pawelon’s prince enters the conflict. Rao is a gifted sage, a master of spiritual laws. He joins the rajah to defend their citadel against the invaders. But Rao’s ideals soon clash with his army’s general.
The Black One tortures Lucia nightly with visions promising another ten years of bloodshed. She can no longer tell the difference between the waking world and her nightmares. Lucia knows the black god too well. He entered her bed and dreams when she was ten.
The Black One watches, waiting to see Lucia confront an impossible decision over the fates of two men—and two lands.

This is Moses Siregar's first book, independently self published. Boy, that must have been quite bloody difficult. He deserves a huge bag of Kudos for that. Now, to the story!

The tale is very much like the legend of Troy, with a ten year war between two nations. Each side has their heroes. The Rezzians are religious and their born saviour is Caio, born with the holy marks from the Gods. Pawelon has Rao, more a realist and atheist with magical powers.

That forms my first problem. There is a nation with ten gods who can perform miracles. They are devout and spiritual people who builds their lives to honour their gods. Then right next door are a nation of atheists, who believe that you can only trust yourself and should strive to better yourself for your own sake. They have no gods. It just didn't make sense to me that two such different nations should share a border. An ocean between them would have made it more bearable.

Rao is convinced of his own power and Caio believes his gods protect him and guide him. So quite two sides of the same coin. A bit of overlapping would have been nice to see. And more human.

The two main females, Lucia as Caio's sister and Narayani as Rao's lover, irritated me a lot. Caio seems like the only Rezzian who does not wholly believe in all the gods, and she tells you so all the time. She hates Danato, the Black god of death since her mother died during giving birth to her brother. She blames him. The rest of the people accept the gods as a unit, a perfect ten. She doesn't. It seems a bit clumsy. Narayani was a simpering wreck. Tagging along where she shouldn't be, complaining, crying, threatening suicide every other chapter. I was egging her on to kill herself. It would have helped.

The story was difficult to get in to, and for me that was the names of the people and places. Since the two nations are so different, the names and phrases of address differ quite a bit. So it's a bit of a schlep to get used to. The tactics used in the war from both sides only helped the story along, it didn't really make sense as war tactics.

The overall story is known for the most part, since it's a lot like the old legend of Troy. That made it an ok read. So, for a first, self published effort, it wasn't too bad. 

It could have really done with a bit more editing. That would have straightened out a lot of the problems I  have with the book. But all in all, not a bad self published effort.


03 January 2012

Happy New Years.

May everyone's 2012 be filled with fun, joy and some awesome books!