Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Fantasy

My recent spate of reading fantasy novels continues as I have just finished another great read in Adrian Tchaikovsky's Empire in Black and Gold. This novel, first in a trilogy, expertly sets out the intriguing world that these books are set in.
The Lowlands are home to many kinden, humans who share characteristics with different types of insects. There are beetle-kinden who are short and stout and are inventors, mantis-kinden who are excellent duellists and fighters, ant-kinden who are great soldiers due to there hive-mind, spider-kinden who are able to climb any surface and so on. And then we have the wasp-kinden who are the empire mentioned in the title. Their special ability is that they can create a 'sting' to attack their enemies as well as all wasp-kinden being warriors who use slaves to make their society function.

As the wasp empire begins to encroach on the Lowlands one beetle-kinden, Stenwold, has for years been warning about this coming threat but no one has paid him any mind. Therefore he must send off a small group of operatives to try and protect the world from the growing darkness.

This inventive premise is wonderfully used by Tchaikovsky to tell a great story that will leave you hanging out for the next book, Dragonfly Falling.

Monday, October 27, 2008

More great fantasy

Richard Morgan has branched out into fantasy with his latest novel The Steel Remains. Like all of Morgan's books his characters live in a dangerous world and they respond to this danger with violence. The characters in The Steel Remains are no different.
Morgan has always been a great writer though and his characters are always intriguing. Maybe not the sort of people you would want as your friends but they certainly are good art what they do. The world Morgan describes is very visceral with sex, violence and death ever present. And in something of a change it is only 340 pages long which is good in this world were editors seem to think that fantasy novels need to be six hundred pages long.

I recommend that people give this book a go, especially fantasy fans. I feel I must quickly warn people that the book does contain lots of violence and swearing, as well as graphic gay sex. But don't let that put you off it really is a great read.

Patrick Rothfuss

If you are a fan of fantasy literature than you should be reading Patrick Rothfuss, if you haven't already. His novel The Name of the Wind is a knock-out read that will keep you interested until the last page, and then you will be eagerly awaiting the next book in the trilogy.
The book is about Kvothe a hero in his thirties who has left the limelight and now runs a bar in a small town under an assumed name. When a story-teller passes through town and recognises Kvothe he convinces him to tell his story.

We are then treated to various flash backs as Kvothe begins to tell of the events that led him to the bar he is now running. As the book goes on we begin to see that Kvothe is carrying some mental scars from his experiences.

This is a great novel, and the author's light touch makes it a joy to read. Look out for the next book in the trilogy called The Wise Man's Fear due for release next year.

I'll finish by letting our main character introduce himself.

"I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A fun read

The Warhammer world is a grim place, but also a fun place to visit. William King's series of books about two characters who inhabit this world are proof of that. His Slayer series deals with the adventures of Gotrek and Felix who battle the forces of evil at every turn.
Gotrek is a Trollslayer, a dwarf who has so shamed himself that he has shaved his head into a Mohawk and is seeking death in battle to redeem himself in the eyes of his fellow dwarves. This means you will find him wherever the fighting is thickest. Felix is the son of a rich merchant who is trying to escape his family and drunkenly promises to write an epic based on Gotrek's deeds. Therefore he is forced to follow Gotrek from battle to battle and the pair develop a bond as they quash various evil plots around the Warhammer world.

The series starts with Trollslayer and builds from there, like I said before a fun read.

Hollywood is a strange place

David Hughes has written a great little book called The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made. The book takes us on a tour of the development hell that can surround a project in Tinseltown, and the obscene amounts of money that can be wasted on a project that doesn't get made.
Imagine if you will for a moment these following films that never saw the light of day.

Stanley Kubrick's Childhood's End

Philip Kaufman's Star Trek: Planet of the Titans

Kevin Smith's Six Million Dollar Man

Tim Burton's Superman Lives

James Cameron's Spider-Man

Terry Gilliam's Watchmen

Ridley Scott's I Am Legend

I would pay money to see any of them. But this book details why I can't see them, as well as looking at the troubled creation of some films that did get made like Dune and Alien3.

Avoid like the plague


The following book is guaranteed to make you throw it away in disgust as another fantasy cliche jumps from the page and slowly bludgeons you into insensibility. The Wanderer's Tale by David Bilsborough is a load of old tripe. Badly plotted, overly long and without an original sentence to redeem it Bilsborough was better of taking up another profession if he thinks he has what it takes to be a writer.

It is hard to like this book, especially a fan like myself who knows how great good fantasy can be. Take for example Bilborough's inability to create a name that isn't ridiculous or laugh out loud funny or unpronounceable. Here are a few to get you started, Methuselech Xiluafloese, Odf Uglekort, a vilian called Drauglir (I assume Bram Stoker is spinning like a top), the Ogghain-Yddiaw and when your heroes are called Gapp and Bolldhe it's hard to keep a straight face.

Bilsborough should be forced to repeat his characters names out loud as punishment for inflicting them on us.

There is a sequel but why anyone would bother after being subjected to this steaming pile is any one's guess.