30 April 2012

Ahoy fellow readers!

Well, people of the world, I have good news and even better news. The good news is that tomorrow is a Public Holiday for South Africans. Workers Day if I remember correctly. I find it a little bit amusing that we get a holiday named Workers Day, but it may just be me.

The better news is that the bloody surgical staples has finally been removed from my scar riddled body. It's been over two weeks and were a main contributor to my scarce posting, seeing as I was irritated as hell  for most of the time and not in the mood to take it out on the poor, innocent internet. The nurse did say that I broke her personal staple removal record, with 85 of the little hellish pieces to take out.

So now I'm in a much better mood, at last. More scars, but that's OK. It makes me feel rugged. I'll post my review of this during the week:

The brilliant Adrian Tchaikovsky's fifth book in the Shadows of the Apt series; The Scarab Path. I've read it, just working on the post. It's good anyways. Go buy it. And the previous four. You won't be disappointed.

23 April 2012

King of Thorns Fragment

Another fragment from the upcoming King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. 

Brother Row

Age set its hand on Brother Row and left him forever fifty, not wanting to touch him a second time. Grey, grizzled, lean, gristly, mean. That pale-eyed old man will bend and twist but never break. He’ll hold where the better man would fail beneath his load. The shortest of our number, rank and filthy, seamed with forgotten scars, often overlooked by men who had scant time to reflect on their mistake.  

18 April 2012

Black Halo - Sam Sykes

The BlurbThe Tome of the Undergates has been recovered... And the gates of hell remain closed. Lenk and his five companions set sail to bring the accursed relic away from the demonic reach of Ulbecetonth, the Kraken Queen. But after weeks at sea, tensions amid the adventurers are rising. Their troubles are only beginning when their ship crashes upon an island made of the bones left behind from a war long dead.

And it appears that bloodthirsty alien warrior women, fanatical beasts from the deep, and heretic-hunting wizards are the least of their concerns. Haunted by their pasts, plagued by their gods, tormented by their own people, and gripped by madness personal and peculiar, their greatest foes may yet be themselves.

The reach of Ulbecetonth is longer than hell can hold.

So, this is the second helping in the Aeons' Gate saga. The story picks up where the first book, Tome of the Undergates, ended. No jump in time or place. It also starts almost the same as the first book, with a huge action scene to suck you back into the story. 

The whole gang is back for more. Lenk, slowly going insane with voices in his head. Kataria, a conflicted Shict. Dreadaeleon, a teenage malfunctioning wizard, Gartiath, a suicidal Dragonman. Asper, a Priestess who is slowly losing her faith and Denaos, mostly drunk in the book.

A scruffy collection of Adventurers who are shipwrecked on a dead island, filled with giant cockroaches, lizardmen, Green Shicts and Purple Longfaces.

This sure as hell isn't your usual sword and sorcery adventure story, that's for sure.

I must be honest and say I did not really enjoy the first 100 pages of the book. It felt a bit chaotic and slow, but it did set up the rest of the book well. New characters and places are introduced, motivations for later actions are set in place and most of the stranded adventurers mope about and hate each other. 

When the pace did pick up, it sweeps you along. Sam Sykes has the brilliant ability to bring some ridiculous situations and actions into his scenes, and it fits. It should't really, but it sure as hell does. Using a traitor as a cannonball distraction seems insane, but with his awesome use of the pause, reaction and characterization it works a treat. I haven't laughed this much at a book in quite a while.

His strength is in writing his characters, and they shine. We are treated to some glimpses into the adventurers back stories, making them a lot more interesting. Especially Denaos, who is portrayed as a cowardly drunk and seen as such by his companions, is turning into someone I really want to know more about. Each character has a unique voice, their internal monologues as they struggle with situations helping to strengthen their space as characters. They all have depth. They all have conflict. They are all awesomely done in their own way.

The overall plot also gets a nice shove forward and we are getting set up for the next book quite nicely. 

If you are looking for character driven fantasy done different, then this book is a must. 

A well deserved 8/10.

17 April 2012

King of Thorns Fragments

From the blog of Mr. Lawrence:

A pre-chapter Brother-line: 
 You won’t see Brother Grumlow try to knife you, only the sorrow in his eyes as you fall.

 & a one of the deleted pre-chapter battle vignettes: 

 Nial Ravener, thirty-four, spear wound. Blue Moon Pass. Son of Graem and Nalla, raised in the Haunt. Husband to Erin. Father to Kai, Kelin, and Keris. The spear hurt less than the climbing. Nial pitched into the deep snow, almost grateful for the excuse to stop. He lay cradled in softness. Time was I could run all day. From valley to peak. Then time caught me up. A blessing to die in the snow. Clean, serene, where all sins are covered, in the purity of high places. No pain but the ache in his lungs and the memory of agony in his thighs. It felt good to be still, in a cool embrace, cold kisses on his forehead. Even the hot wet wound in his back seemed like release. Images of Erin at the cottage door. The children in the hay. Bright days of summer. Too bright. Nial turned to older days, dim yesterdays lit now by the last beats of his heart. He remembered his mother, framed in golden curls. How fiercely he had loved her.

He's getting quite good at the teasing isn't he?

In other news, I've survived my operation, and I'm going strong, thanks to the awesome pain medication.
Reviews for Sam Sykes Black Halo and Perdido Street Station by China Mieville following soon.

11 April 2012

A Red Country Teaser

Look what I've found on Fantasy Faction.

The return of the Bloody-Nine!

In other news,  I'm going in for a minor operation tomorrow, but I should be able to post. It will knock me on my ass for a bit but it should not be a problem. Otherwise, I'll be back next week.

10 April 2012

List of South African bloggers

Here is a list of some of the active book bloggers in South Africa. A load of genres are covered in here. Go take a look!

All the days of
Genres: almost any, but with a focus on paranormal romance, zombies and dystopian fiction.
I occasionally review movies and host book tours.  I have a soft spot for indie authors and feature them on my blog regularly. 

A Muggle's Magical Book Blog
YA, Fantasy, Paranormal

Bibliophile (n) - A person who collects or loves books. From Fantasy to Fiction to Non-Fiction, I pretty much read 'em all. 
 Eclectic, but favouring YA, mystery series, biographies, and the occasional classic.

Genres: Primarily YA, with a focus on paranormal, contemporary, dystopian and fantasy fiction. I do review a certain amount of adult fiction though, including, magical realism, fantasy, dystopian and paranormal fiction

Genres: YA, royal historical fiction and murder mysteries

 Where books find you...
Genres: if it’s a book, I’ll read it

Genres: YA, specialising in paranormal and supernatural
I will also review films and tv shows applicable to the paranormal genre and post news and other thoughts.

SA Partridge
Genres: YA and South African Fiction

Sonette's Bookworm Blog
Genres: YA, paranormal romance, urban fantasy and sometimes sci-fi and dystopian fiction.
I am currently searching for someone to collaborate with me on my blog as my hectic schedule prevents me from giving it the love it deserves. If you’re interested, please let me know!

Genres: speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror) and the occasional crime thriller, with a preference for cross-genre fiction, especially if there’s mythology in the mix.
I favour the inventive/quirky/downright weird over genre trends.

The Word Fiend
Speculative Fiction (Fantasy, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi), Thrillers & Mysteries, YA, Paranormal Romance. I read widely however, so these are only a general guideline.

Worlds In Ink
Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Thrillers

The musings of a Young and Avid reader
Genres: strictly Young Adult fiction. Within that genre I enjoy Contemporary, Paranormal, some Fantasy and Historical novels

05 April 2012

The Lies of Locke Lamora - Scott Lynch

The BurbThey say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he's part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumour. And they are wrong on every count. Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich - they're the only ones worth stealing from but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards. Together their domain is the city of Camorr. Built of Elderglass by a race no-one remembers, it's a city of shifting revels, filthy canals, baroque palaces and crowded cemeteries. Home to Dons, merchants, soldiers, beggars, cripples, and feral children. And to Capa Barsavi, the criminal mastermind who runs the city. But there are whispers of a challenge to the Capa's power. A challenge from a man no one has ever seen, a man no blade can touch. The Grey King is coming. A man would be well advised not to be caught between Capa Barsavi and The Grey King. Even such a master of the sword as the Thorn of Camorr. As for Locke Lamora...

Now I know that the book has been out for quite some time. 2007 if I remember correctly. And I have read it quite a while ago. At the end of last year, Mr. Lynch sold some of his personal copies of his work on his blog and I was lucky enough to pick pne up. He was even nice enough to sell it to me for $1. The shipping was $17, so it worked out brilliantly since I only had $18 in my Paypal account. He's a good guy. 
When it arrived, I had to read it again. You cannot not read a book when you have it. That's just wrong.

Boy am I glad that I think like that.

Locke and his band of Gentleman Bastards - that's their gang name, and a cool damn name at that - are very, very good thieves. Amazingly good. They are so good that even the Capa does not know about their thefts. They rob the nobility blind with schemes in stead of robberies, and the schemes are always so elaborate and brilliant that the poor nobles take quite a while to realize what the hell has happened to their money.

There is magic in the world, but the bondsmages are the only practitioners, they are jealous, arrogant and insanely expensive to hire. They say it's safer to kill yourself than kill a bondsmage, since the whole order hunts you down as well as all those you care for and all you've made when you do. I find this a nice change of magic use than the normal wizards ruling over people or not being respected. They are basically mercenaries who can burn the world. 

The world itself seems to have been inhabited by an ancient race who has since disappeared out of memory. They left behind Elderglass structures which cannot be broken or melted. That is the extent of the influence of the ancient race in this book. No artefacts, no prophecy. Just awesome glowing buildings that make Camorr a little bit more interesting.

So, the magic is there but quite untouchable. No freaky prophecy to complete. No artefact to hunt. Just dishonest thieves trying to rob the nobility blind and try to survive. It sounds strange if you put it like that, but it's brilliant.

Most of the book is spent with Locke as the POV, but he's one interesting bastard, that's for sure. There is quite a few curse words present in the book, but it fits in well with the world they move in and the culture thats present. If dragons eating Knights and wizards boiling soldiers in their armour is acceptable, a few f-bombs should really not put anyone off. 

The story has many a twist and turn. Not all of them done perfectly. One big scene in the book could have been done better. Some interesting characters  crying out for some extra development or back story does not get it, but since this was his first novel, it will be forgiven. The rest of the book is awesome.

The gods are interesting and out of the way, the character interaction and development is slick, the world seems well thought out enough for 10 more books.

The whole thief thing has been done before this book and since, but this one is on the top of the pile for  me.  


02 April 2012

A Red Country publication dates

"Make a mark in your diaries, for it looks like we now have some firm dates for the publication of (A) Red Country.

This news brought to you directly from Abercrombies blog. Something to look forward to!

King of Thorns Fragments 6


Gorgoth is like no other. There is no mould for the leucrota. Twisted by the Builders’ poisons they fall broken from the womb and follow strange paths as they grow. The ribs that pierce his flesh and reach from each side are black and thick, his hide more red than blood, and the muscle beneath surges as he moves. And though he is shaped for war and for horror, there are few men in Adam’s image whose approval would mean as much to me – and most of them lie dead.