Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Way of Kings

Not content with spending his time completing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series Brandon Sanderson has started his own called The Stormlight Archive. The first book has now been released and it is called The Way of Kings.
And it's a big book. Sanderson is from the 'sweeping detail', 'large cast' school of fantasy writing, but because this is the first book in the series things start of small, (relatively speaking). We are introduced to three main characters who obviously will have a part to play in the unfolding story.

Sanderson is a great writer and knows how to create a believable world, but this book is too long. It's as if Sanderson had all these things he wanted in his story and decided to cram them in to the first volume. As much as I enjoyed reading this, it did become a chore towards the end. (Sometimes authors need an editor who isn't afraid to tell them to make cuts to their baby.) If each book in the series is this long then it is in danger of drowning under the weight of words it will produce.

And lets not mention the cover. Really Golanz you thought this cover would make people buy the book? Lucky that Sanderson is such a great writer, if someone isn't put off by the cover. Hopefully book two is a little shorter, and a new cover art style is used.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fantasy Saga

Adrian Tchaikovsky is one of the hardest working men in fantasy fiction. How he is able to produce such high quality books is beyond me. No sooner have you finished the current book in the Shadow of the Apt series than a new one is ready and waiting for you to begin.
The Scarab Path is book five in the series and a lot has happened since it began. The war with the Wasp Empire has ended in a unsatisfying stalemate with implications for both sides. On the Wasp side the first ever Empress is trying to consolidate her [power, while on the other side political machinations look to over-through everything they were fighting for. As well both sides find themselves looking for the forgotten city of Khanaphes which may hold answers to their problems.

This is another great entry in what is becoming a genre-leading series. Tchaikovsky's characters are strong and well written and possess believable motives. As usual there is action, intrigue and enough mystery to ensure that the next volume can't get here quick enough.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Giant Squid

China Mieville's latest book Kraken revolves around the body of a giant squid or kraken kept in the Natural History Museum in London. But things start to get strange for curator Billy Harrow when the massive creature is stolen.
Harrow finds himself hunted by strange cults that rule the dark places of London because the kraken is seen as a god and some very different groups want the body for their own purposes. And because Harrow worked on the body he is seen as a prophet with a special connection to this god.

Mieville has once again written an astonishing novel. Full of ideas and wonderful concepts Kraken flies along at a cracking pace. From ageless assassins, to origamists who can fold solid objects into letters, to a speaking tattoo Mieville never lets the pace or strangeness slacken for a moment. A great read, and hopefully Mieville will write some more urban fantasy.

The Crimson Fists

The Crimson Fists are a proud chapter of Space Marines. They have defended humanity from all sorts of dangers. But in Rynn's World we read about the disaster that nearly destroyed them, and left them facing complete destruction.
Rynn's World is the home base of the Crimson Fist Chapter, but becomes the front line when Ork Warlord Snargrod, Arch Arsonist of Charadon lands his massive army to assault the Crimson Fists in their backyard. Chapter Master Pedro Kantor has to dig deep to lead his forces to victory and overcome this terrifying event, while the losses mount as the Chapter waits for relief from Imperial forces.

Steve Parker has written an exciting tale of action and brutality that focuses on the heroic actions of the Space Marines as their backs are against the wall in the worst day of the Chapter's history. Warhammer 40k fans will find inspiration for their battles in this book as well.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Merciless Place

I must confess upfront that this book covered a subject I knew little about. Once I had finished however that was far from true. Emma Christopher has written a book called A Merciless Place, and it deals with the British Empire’s attempt to send convicts to West Africa before Australia was colonised.
After the American Revolution, Britain needed somewhere to send its convicts and it settled on West Africa as the place. But the inhospitable terrain and weather, coupled with awful conditions and soldiers and convicts working in the slave-trade, led to disaster.
This is a story of bad decisions and some truly awful human beings leading to even worse outcomes. A Merciless Place chronicles a dark chapter in the history of colonisation, and also sheds new light onto the eventual colonisation of Australia.
Overall this is a great book that is well worth reading. It will shock in places but it will also make you feel pity for the individuals who had no choice but to be caught up in this experiment.