Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Patrick Rothfuss hints that 'The Doors of Stone' may not be the last we read of his world

Anyone who has read the first two books in The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss will know that the series is simply outstanding. It is easily one of the best works of fantasy being published at the moment and, in much the same manner as GRRM is struggling to finish The Winds of Winter, Rothfuss is still far from finishing its third and final instalment - The Doors of Stone. In fact, the novel doesn't even have a release date yet and Rothfuss is reluctant to even give us a general idea of when we can expect the date to be set. It's frustrating waiting, especially since the second book in the trilogy came out way back in 2011! I'm not inclined to rush Rothfuss though and in the end, we'll get the book he wants us read and deserve as fans . . .

That doesn't mean that Rothfuss is completely quiet on the matter, however, and, although he's just confirmed in an interview that The Doors of Stone will be the last instalment of the trilogy that resolves the story arc, he has hinted that this will not be the last book he rights in that world! I suppose there's always a silver lining in everything, afterall!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Philip Pullman announces a follow up trilogy to 'His Dark Materials!'

So Philip Pullman may have faded into the background in recent years, but I'm sure we all remember his name to some degree and his internationally best selling trilogy His Dark Materials took the fantasy work by storm in the 90s, selling over 17.5 million copies that were translated into 40 different languages! These books captured many a teenagers mind and my imagination was most definitely snared; the series was among my favourites while I was growing up and, although I wasn't overly impressed by the cinematic adaptation of The Golden Compass, I must have read the actual books a dozen times.

Thus, I am excited to learn that after nearly two decades, Pullman has decided to return to the worlds of the series and plans to release a new trilogy as a follow up to His Dark Materials! Pullman has yet to reveal much about the contents of the new books, but has hinted that it will feature many of the original characters and, what is best of all, the first instalment--The Book of Dust--is set for publication on 19th October 2017! I think we've all got a pre-order to add to our Amazon accounts here and have a brilliant excuse for bit of reminiscent re-reading over the next few months!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Release date of The Core (Demon Cycle Book 5) is announced!

The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett is one of the most exciting fantasy series being written at the moment and has had a long run, with The Painted (Warded) Man being released back in 2008 in the UK and 2009 in the US. Brett has published the next instalment of the series every year or so since then, along with a number of subsidiary short stories, and it's grown to be a hugely successful series, selling over 2 million copies worldwide! I'm excited to learn that the release date for the fifth and final book in the series has been announced, with The Core being due to be released on the 10th August 2017 in the UK and 15th August in the US!

Needless to say, I can't wait (even though I have fallen behind with the series and still need to catch up on book 4) and I'm really looking forward to reading it. With the announcement, Brett has also written a pleasantly sentimental article about his experience writing the series and how it all began, which his fans might find interesting and can read on his blog here.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

GRRM is all set to release a new aSoIaF short story!

We've all be waiting for The Winds of Winter to be released for years now and we all know that the sixth instalment of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice & Fire doesn't even have a release date (as of publishing this post). It's a long and frustrating wait to be sure, but I'm glad that everyone has started to get off GRRM's back about the delay - art can't be rushed and, in the end, we'll get the book he wants us to read eventually and we'll enjoy it a lot more than a rushed, error-filled 'fan-pleaser.'

The good news, however, is that GRRM's wetting our aSoIaF appetites in October 2017! He has written an anthology called Book of Swords, which contains 15 short stories, one of which is a never-before released story set in Westeros!

It's not the news we've all been hoping for, but it'll certainly be an interesting read and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy! The book, which is once again edited by Gardner Dozois, is available for pre-order on Amazon now!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Series Review: The Legend of Asahiel - Eldon Thompson


The Kingdom of Alson is a quaint and peaceful place, it's king is greedy and selfish, but he rules his people well, leaving them to pursue their lives in relative peace. Jarom, who serves as the Farson of Diln, is quite content to be left alone and enjoys the quiet life of his small village. He has no plans of great adventure, just his imagination and his best friend, Allion; he is content and happy. But all of that changes when a dark wizard invades with conquest in his heart. Soric is cruel and vicious. His assassination of King Sorl throws the country into turmoil and Jarom is forced from his home, set on a quest by his father to find aid from the bordering nation of Kuuria. Jarom is reluctant to go, but sets off on an adventure with Allion that is full of peril and danger. What's more, Jarom discovers things about himself that he doesn't like: there are mysteries and secrets surrounding his past, birthrights and heritages that need to be addressed . . .

Yet the invasion of Soric soon proves to the least of Jarom's concerns, for the wizard isn't the only terror that's stirring. For with his arrival wakens an ancient evil, a demon queen who has slumbered for millennia. She perceives the weakness in the world of man, she deems it ripe to fall. An ancient dragon is woken, the last scion of the race who warred with the Finlorrians, the people who once forged the world with the help of the Ceilhigh and Jarom knows that only one thing can save Alson: he has to seek the Crimson Sword, an ancient talisman of infinite power. But at what cost is power obtained? What price must be paid for things that are best left alone? The demon queen was not the only menace to sleep and what Jarom unleashes is worse than anybody could have ever imaged. The illysp do not sleep, they do not feel or show mercy to others. They enslave and they burn. They raze the world around them and deal only in death. Jarom must find a way to stop them. Enemies surround him on every side, he learns of betrayal and pain. He struggles to full fill a destiny he had never asked for . . .

Book 1: The Crimson Sword
Book 2: The Obsidian Key
Book 3: The Divine Talisman

The Good
The Legend of Asahiel is a fast-paced, exciting series and Eldon Thompson has clearly let his imagination run wild writing it. It's full of magic, epic battles, betrayal and death, leaving little to be wanted by the reader. In fact, all three books in the series are among those rare 'page-turners' that will keep you up well into early of the hours of the morning and are very difficult to put down. This is largely due to Thompson's ability to develop the sense of peril in each book and he really gives you a sense of what will be lost, should his heroes fail. Furthermore, the fact that Thompson has created a relatively contained island-continent means that his map is smaller than in many other works of fantasy, which allowed him to cut down on the chapters of arduous travelling from place to place so he could maintain the pace of his story. His prose reads like cheesy, old-school fantasy as well, which I quite enjoyed more than anything, and his characters are lively and almost jump out of the pages. Many readers will also appreciate the fact that Thompson has several very strong, female characters that dominate parts of the story and are hugely influential protagonists, which is something that even a lot of modern fantasy novels lack.

The Bad
As good as it was, The Legend of Asahiel did have a few bugs that really bothered me. The main one, was actually with Jarom's character and he is a thoughtful, docile man who is quick to forgive and very hard to anger. While there is nothing wrong with these personality traits in real-life or in fiction, they become slightly absurd as the series progresses: firstly, despite the fact that Jarom's whole continent is being burnt to ashes around him, with everyone he ever knew facing imminent death, he never becomes angry and instead only understands and sympathises with his enemies. Secondly, it's very odd when such a passive, peaceful man sudden becomes this vicious, hardened warrior whenever he leaps into battle and starts hacking scores of his enemies down, left right and centre. Sadly, I think Jarom's character is quite implausible and it's hard to believe him as a real person. It wouldn't be such a problem if Jarom wasn't the series main character and Thompson should either have made him much harder or changed his story-arch, perhaps making Jarom a general or something instead of a warrior.

The second issue that I had with the series as a whole, was the stereotypical nature of Thompson's villains. Pre-ASoIaF, this wouldn't really have bothered me and I might not have noticed, but GRRM's writing has shown me the importance of developing antagonists that are true to life as well as protagonists. People are rarely evil in real life for the sake of 'being evil' and, although their actions may harm people, they're usually done for selfish reasons like gaining power, killing for revenge, hatreds or feuds or stealing to feed oneself and family. Thus, it becomes slight absurd and quite irritating when Thompson's villains 'snicker' and 'smirk' every time they kill someone or destroy a village. Although, to be fair on Thompson, this was remedied to a degree in The Divine Talisman, it detracted from the story as a whole and weakened his vision somewhat.

Final Thoughts
Overall, though, The Legend of Asahiel is a great series and I had a lot of fun reading it. It's fast-paced, full of excitement, danger and has more magic bursting out of its pages than the Lord of the Rings! Although I wouldn't call this series a definite must read, I certainly recommend that you add it to your reading list and get round to it at some point - it may not be the best series you've ever read, but I guarantee you'll enjoy it!

N.B. It's also worth noting that Thompson has also written a short story featuring Kylac, one of the series main characters, which is published in Unfettered by Shawn Speakman et al.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Knife of Dreams - Robert Jordan


Rumours still circulate that Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, the Lord of the Morning, has died, killed in his madness in the palace of Cairhien. Yet the man destined to stand against the Dark One in Tai'mon Gardon is no coward and his plans are in motion. Rand is beginning to realise that the Last Battle is coming and he doesn't have the time to unite the banners of the land behind him as one, yet he understands that he doesn't need to. The Seanchan are rolling through those lands he still needs, conquoring and bringing their lonesome lords to heel. If Rand can find the Daughter of the Nine Moons, he can forge an army of the likes the world hasn't seen since the legendary Artur Hawkwing.

Meanwhile, Matt is still on the run, desperate to get his prophised bride to safetly through lands that are crawling with the Seanchan, Egewene al'Vere remains captured by Elaida and the White Tower and Perrin . . . Perrin's plans to finally free Faile and rescue his wife are set. He means to free her from the Aiel or die trying . . .

The Good
The good news is that something actually happens in this book! As many of you know, I've been a little disappointed with the last few books in The Wheel of Time. Despite the fact that they're fairly heavy tomes, they did very little to carry the story forward and largely consisted of people walking around talking. Knife of Dreams finally remedies this and the various story arcs of its PoV characters are finally start to see some action and are developed in a meaningful way. This made the novel far more interesting than the others and I found some of the old WoT excitement that I felt at the start of the series rekindling! It's definitely an exciting book and hopefully, is setting a good premise for the series ending in the exciting, dramatic and epic fashion I once expected from Robert Jordan's writing!

The Bad
There are only a few minor things about this book that I didn't like, but none of them were major problems. The story was still a little slow in places, but that's usually something to be expected from a book of such length. Once again, Rand only has a few, fleeting appearances that left me a little disappointed, although the other characters in the series did get a lot more of a mention which was good.

Final Thoughts
Knife of Dreams is an excellent instalment of The Wheel of Time and does a lot to make up for the slow pace of the previous books by really advancing the plot. It reminded me of how the books used to be and provides promise for Jordan to follow this precedent for the conclusion of his epic saga!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Assassin's Quest - Robin Hobb


The Six Duchies are crumbling beneath Regal as he seeks to ascertain more and more power. He has plundered Buck Keep, opting to move all of its resources and wealth to the Inland Duchies which he naively believes to be safe from the Raiders, far beyond their reach. Yet not all are as lucky and, as the Coastal Duchies begin to fall, one by one, all of the death and Forging begins to take its toll. The Coastal Duchies become ruled by fear in the absence of their so-called 'King' and there are those that begin to resist. None are more fervent in their efforts than Chade Farstrider, the aged assassin who has finally flung away the garb of secrecy to openly defy Regal with the help of the Mountain Kingdom.

Anarchy rules and it is in this chaos that FitzChivalry finds himself, finally a free man who is able to control his own destiny. There is nothing but vengeance in his heart after the torture he endured to entertain Regal, nothing but anger and fear. For Regal broke Fitz, and he is not the proud warrior he once was. Fitz is alone, accompanied only his Nighteyes his faithful wolf, set on the path to kill Regal and bring him into account for what he has done. Yet Fitz soon finds himself conflicted, if he decides to pursue Regal now, now, when the true king Verity is in such grave need, who will aid him? Who will ensure that the Elderlings do indeed return to save the Coastal Duchies as they long ago promised to do?

The Good
Once again, Robin Hobb is superb and demonstrates her mastery of the fantasy genre. She has created interesting and relatable characters to populate her story and, just as no two people are exactly the same in real life, each person is unique, with their own personality, issues, drives and fears. This adds a real sense of depth to the book that many others lack and the story becomes stronger because of it.

The story itself is also fantastic and Hobb rounds the trilogy off nicely, following a plot that is as exciting, unpredictable and full of intrigue as ever! Assassin's Quest is the perfect ending to the series and all of its threads are woven off nicely, being fully explained and leaving nothing hanging.

The Bad
Once again, there is nothing that I didn't like about Hobb's work and Assassin's Quest is as flawless as its predecessors.

Final Thoughts
In conclusion, Assassin's Quest is an exciting and dramatic end to the Farseer Trilogy, being a shining example of what fantasy can be at its best. It entertains, tugs at your emotions, has your heart in your mouth when the characters' are in danger and, best of all, is addictive in the wonderful vibrant way Hobb formulates her prose. This is a must read book for any epic fantasy fan and I thoroughly recommend the series to anyone who hasn't yet read it - each book in the series are among the best I've read in a long time!