The Darkness That Comes After

Believe in me and I will give you eternal Salvation, said the Lord. “Can I have Might or Kings instead?” asked the tank.

Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Best. Dialogue. Ever.

Posted by senseichow on April 14, 2007

Once I would have said Erikson. Or Pratchett. Heck even Jordan has his good points.

But no longer.

Check this out.

A voice was heard to say, “Who dares disturb the crypt of the Immortal Space Bitches?”
“I am Grimm Shado,” said Grimm Shado, triple wand claws extending. “And I am here to take it to the limit.”

From page 179 of the author LH Franzibald’s seminal work, The Song Of The Sorcelator.

Here’s some more, in case you liked that last one. And how could you do anything but like that last one, given the sheer transcendent post-modern apocalyptic awesomeness of the writing?

Steadying himself atop the speeding Lamborghini, the Sorcelator drew his twin wands, Hurt and Burn. He was going to make damn sure the Pirate Assassins and their Metal Friends rued this day, and rued it hard.

The Ninja Shaman teetered awesomely at the edge of the rooftop; his motile lettuce Foodnillar likewise teetered. “Let’s take this to the limit,” he sneered at Grimm. “Let’s take this to the limit extreme.”

And here’s a brief excerpt from the second Tome of the series, Night After Dark;

“Come—taste the blade,” urged Seductryanyca, the words dripping awesomely from her well glossed cyberLips. Holding the Wandfyreblade lightly in one of her multi-faceted cyber-diamond circlets, she issued Grimm a challenge – one that he’d have to answer in the only way he knew how: immediately, and with awesomenity.”

This second Tome of the series (and I’m quoting shamelessly from the wiki here), “continues the way-rad adventures of Grimm Shado. While taking a brief respite at the Bangin’ Sexx Gardens of Landoramm-IV, Shado encounters a totally hot band of recently dismissed pole dancers. Their only crime: being too smokingly fine. Shado uncovers an intricate web of full-on evil, which he quickly spanks – and spanks hard.

If you want more, and after such a feast of literary extremeness, I see no reason why you shouldn’t; check out the Penny Arcade comic strip on The Song Of The Sorcelator – Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five.

If only a real publisher would take up this series… sigh.

Maybe its just too awesome for them.

Posted in books, comics, fantasy, Feature | 4 Comments »

Update – Confessor by Terry Goodkind (…I feel so dirty)

Posted by senseichow on April 14, 2007

Remember the opening scene of the 1997 movie Batman and Robin, when director Joel Schumacher took out his wang and personally urinated on every single member of the audience, thus preparing them for what was to follow?

Well, I just had a flashback to that scene. Yeah. You see, I checked out the TG website this morning. (shudder).

He’s hard at work on the next, and final, strictly no fantasy here, oh no, novel in the Sword of Truth series. Its called Confessor and is due for a November 2007 release date.

Here’s the preview blurb.

Descending into darkness, about to be overwhelmed by evil, those people still free are powerless to stop the coming dawn of a savage new world, while Richard faces the guilt of knowing that he must let it happen. Alone, he must bear the weight of a sin he dare not confess to the one person he loves…and has lost. Join Richard and Kahlan in the concluding novel of one of the most remarkable and memorable journeys ever written. It started with one rule, and will end with the rule of all rules, the rule unwritten, the rule unspoken since the dawn of history.

When next the sun rises, the world will be forever changed.

Unnamed sources say that theme and plot are expected to make an appearance in the book, with characterization possibly to follow.

At least we can console ourselves with the news that its the last in the Sword of Truth series.

(And no links, I’ll be damned if I link to a TG book).

(And I mean that literally. There’s like, tiny demons… right here… waiting to damn me.)

UPDATE: It doesn’t feel right to end a post without links. So here’s some from Inchoatus, old, but still well worth reading, especially the first one;

Goodkind’s Rant: A rebuttal of the more prosperous utterances of this prolific author

The Leadership of Richard Rahl: or, Richard is always right 

Posted in books, fantasy, Goodkind | 6 Comments »

Review – The Summoner by Gail Z. Martin

Posted by senseichow on April 13, 2007

The Summoner is the first book in the Chronicles of the Necromancer series. It tells the story of Prince Martris Drayke, whose world is ‘thrown into suddThe Summoneren chaos’ when his older brother, with the aid of an evil sorcerer, murders his family and seizes the throne.

Martris, or Tris, as he prefers to be called, is forced to flee for his life. Luckily, he’s the grandson of the last great Summoner (think necromancer) in his world, and has inherited that Summoner’s powers. He also has a small but loyal band of companions to help out.

And this is where things start to go downhill. There’s the tough, reluctant loner guy with a mysterious and tragic background, who initially is all tough and reluctant to help out (because of his mysterious and tragic background), but then is won over by the casual camaraderie of the group and the potential love of a good woman (aah, isn’t that sweet). There’s the bard, who’s a bit of a happy go lucky fellow, good with women and also handy in a fight. Then there’s two soldiers, one old and one young, who despite being good friends with Tris come across as a bit bland and generic. Towards the last part of the book I’d stopped caring which of them was which. There’s a healer, who plays the good woman role for the tough reluctant loner guy. At the start the two are constantly fighting with each other, but there’s a certain frisson of sexual tension each time they clash, so you just know they’re gonna hook up soon. Later on there’s also the obligatory love interest for the main hero, a fiery warrior princess who’s actually betrothed to Tris’ evil brother (ah, warrior princesses, when will they learn?).

Whilst initially fleeing towards a neighbouring kingdom, the intervention of the Lady (the goddess of that world) sends them towards a great library, once thought destroyed in some cataclysmic Mage War. There Tris will learn to master his powers, Kiara (the warrior princess) will find out how to help her father and her kingdom, and the rest of the merry band learn various things. But time is short – because if they don’t get their act together by the Hawthorn Moon then the evil sorcerer, (who’s actually a vampire), will unleash a terrible evil known as the Obsidian King upon the world.

By the way, having a bad guy who plots from behind the throne – that’s kinda annoying. Having a bad guy who plots and also happens to be a mage – that’s pretty evil.

But having a bad guy who plots, happens to be a mage, and is also a vampire – now that’s just plain awesome.

Now lets recap – young prince with destiny – check, the trusty band of companions – check, fiery love interest – check, evil wizard with plan to unleash evil – check. I know what you’re thinking; hey senseichow, this is just bog standard fantasy, lifted straight out of the 1980s. Am I right?

Well, great job you! You’re absolutely right. It is just bog standard fantasy, lifted straight out of the 1980s.

The hero being able to talk to, and summon, the dead, that’s something new (kind of). Pretty much everything else though, is old. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in itself – both Brian Ruckley and Joe Abercrombie have written books recently that have taken fantasy stereotypes and turned them on their head by the strength of their writing, but unfortunately you won’t find much of that strength here. The dialogue feels stilted and awkward; near the end one character actually says, “on the morrow, we will talk,” and the combat scenes lack any real sense of danger – in one particularly absurd fight against slavers in the forest, the characters were swapping witty quips whilst being gradually outnumbered and outfought.

To make matters worse, near the beginning of the book we see the Lady intervening on Tris’ behalf to heal a potentially fatal wound. She then tells him that for the duration of the crisis, she would make him effectively unkillable (!) thus casually neutering the threat from any of Tris’ subsequent fight scenes. Its a far cry from the likes of A Song Of Ice And Fire, where half the time you’re not even sure if a character is going to live to the end of the sentence, let alone the entire novel.

The deus ex machina pops up several more times through the book – the Lady sends her vampire servants to help Tris when he’s in trouble, sends her sorcerers to teach him once he reaches the Library, and even sends a mage to help out Kiara (remember, the fiery warrior princess, stay with me now) when she runs into a spot of bother. You have to wonder, for a goddess who likes to play such an active part in things, why she doesn’t just strike down the evil sorcerer herself.

Even the worldbuilding consists of little more than your standard fantasy kingdoms, with generic cities and taverns a plenty.

So in summary – bland, formulaic fantasy that earns a thumbs down from me.

(For further information on Gail Z. Martin you can check out the official website here, and it also has a link to the first chapter of The Summoner online.)

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Update – Its Friday the 13th!! Oh teh noes!!

Posted by senseichow on April 13, 2007

Finally finished Gail Z. Martin’s The Summoner – review will be up shortly.

I received a very intriguing ARC from Solaris Books yesterday. A book called Set The Seas On Fire, by Chris Roberson. The blurb on the front page describes it as “Horatio Hornblower meets HP Lovecraft!” which suggests a level of bad-assedness which is truly… badass. Read a few pages already, and it looks promising so far.

For one reason or another, I’ve been a bit lax with my reading of Brian Lumley’s Necroscope: The Touch. Now that The Summoner and I Am Legend are out of the way, I should be able to make further headway into the novel.

I’ve also got hold of a copy of Daniel Abraham’s A Shadow In Summer, based on reading an interview he did over at Fantasy Book Critic. Also halfway through Scott Marlowe’s Hall Of The Wood (released online by the author, for free), and just received Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 (another cheap buy from eBay). Sigh… just gotta find the time to read all them too.

Speaking of Fantasy Book Critic, he’s got a great interview with Richard K. Morgan, of Takeshi Kovacs fame. Its been up for a couple of weeks, check it out. And while we’re talking about interviews, Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist has an interview with Ian Cameron Esslemont. You know… the guy who co-created that funny little Malazan world. There’s some good info about Return Of The Crimson Guard in there too.

In other news, various sites are reporting the sad delaying of Mac OS 10.5, aka Leopard, till October 😦

They were originally planning to launch Leopard in June, but apparently they had to pull people from the development team to get the iPhone ready for its own June launch. No doubt the news will have millions of Mac fanboys sobbing tears of heartfelt sorrow into their mocha lattes this morning while cradling their MacBooks and listening to Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan on iTunes. Hell, I know I was.

The onus is on Apple now, with all the extra months they’ve bought themselves, to ship a truly great OS. I don’t mean just a snazzy new interface with eye popping graphics which is safe, secure, and stable while using up half the system resources of Windows Vista; no, no, we’ll take that for granted. This is Apple after all.

I mean an OS which redefines the word awesomeness, taking it the limit time and again. I expect Leopard to not just provide a… beyond awesome? ‘bawesome’? computing experience, but to bring about World Peace, whilst solving the AIDS crisis and ending our dependence on fossil fuels. All the while relentlessly hunting for Sarah Connor.

Hasta la Vista baby? F**ck yes.

Posted in books, current events, fantasy, Mac | Leave a Comment »

Review – I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Posted by senseichow on April 12, 2007

(I know, I know, I’m supposed to be reading a bunch of other stuff right now, but I saw this baby going cheap on eBay and I couldn’t resist. I have to say, this book just gets better every time you read itI Am Legend.)

Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend is probably his best known work. First published in 1954, it tells the story of Robert Neville, the last man alive. A strange plague has turned every other person on Earth into a vampire and Neville must learn to survive in this strange new world.

Holed up in his heavily fortified house, Neville hunts the vampires by day, and by night the vampires hunt him. Or rather, they surround his house and watch and wait for him to make a mistake that would allow them access to the house. In the meantime Neville attempts to investigate the vampire plague and its origins in the hope of finding a cure.

The story is revealed in brief flashback segments. We learn how the dust storms helped spread the vampire plague, how Neville’s wife and child slowly became ill, and then died. We experience Neville’s slow, creeping sense of despair as his wife comes back from the dead and he has to kill her.

The writing is excellent throughout – Matheson does a superb job of conveying the horror of the world Neville lives in, as well as his isolation and the pressure that he’s under. Neville’s day time travels from the house (limited as he needs to be back inside before sunset) are always presented with a real sense of urgency. The clock is ticking, and if Neville is still outside when night comes, the vampires will have him. At one point in the story, while visiting the grave of his dead wife, Neville’s watch stops without him realising, and the feeling of terror and desperation he experiences comes across as very real, and very vivid. His subsequent struggle to get back to the house is easily one of the most gripping segments of the book.

Given his enforced loneliness, a central theme of the book is Neville’s mental state – for the first half of the book he comes across as dangerously unstable, almost snapping several times. He eventually learns to cope with his isolation, and channels his energies towards determining the source of the plague. Disdaining a supernatural explanation as the cause, Neville shows his resourcefulness by turning to science, reading Medical textbooks on Bacteriology and Haematology, and experimenting on the vampires he finds. He realizes the entire plague is bacterial in origin, and discovers logical (within reason, this is SF after all) reasons for a vampire’s aversion to sunlight and garlic, and their vulnerability to being staked. Their aversion to crosses is explained in a slightly tongue in cheek way, as this is put down to purely psychological conditioning amongst Christian vampires. The one Jewish vamp he get to experiment on is unaffected by the Cross, but does react to a copy of the Torah.

The title of the book, I Am Legend, refers to the fact that once, vampires themselves were legends, but no longer. Neville, the last surviving human, has become that legend. Many of the vampires have never seen Neville, and are only aware of him from the corpses of vampires executed by him every day. Despite hunting him, they live in constant terror of him.

In all, this is a superb book which, in its day, set the standards for vampires for a long time to come. It was the inspiration for a whole genre (George Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead was initially based on this book) and thoroughly deserves its place in the SF Masterworks imprint.

And for you lazy bastards out there who can’t be bothered reading it, there’s a film adaptation (the third so far), I Am Legend, starring Will Smith, that’s due out later this year 🙂

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Fatal Revenant by Stephen R Donaldson – Chapter 1 Available Online!

Posted by senseichow on April 9, 2007

Many thanks to Duchess of Malfi on the westeros.org boards for pointing this out.

Fatal Revenant is Stephen R. Donaldson’s next book in the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and a short preview can now be found on his website!

I remember working through the Thomas Covenant books way back in the day. Great reads all of them, but I did get a bit pissed off when in one of the books the God of that world offered to heal Covenant’s leprosy, and Covenant turned him down (said the disease was too much a part of his identity now, or some rubbish like that if I remember right).

Posted in books, fantasy | 2 Comments »

The Court Of The Air

Posted by senseichow on April 8, 2007

Check out this sweet flash trailer (courtesy of scifind.co.uk) for Stephen Hunt’s The Court Of The Air. The Amazon link has the blurb for the book but in case you can’t be bothered to read it;

A hugely engaging adventure set in a Victorian-style world — a fantastical version of Dickens — that will appeal to fans of Susanna Clarke and Philip Pullman. Two orphans are more than they seem. And one megalomaniac will stop at nothing to find them…When Molly Templar witnesses a brutal murder at the brothel she has just been apprenticed to, her first instinct is to return to the poorhouse where she grew up. But there she finds her fellow orphans butchered, and it slowly dawns on her that she was in fact the real target of the attack. For Molly carries a secret deep in her blood, a secret that marks her out for destruction by enemies of the state. Soon Molly will find herself battling a grave threat to civilization which draws on an ancient power thought to have been quelled millennia ago.

Oliver Brooks has led a sheltered life in the home of his merchant uncle. But when he is framed for his only relative’s murder he is forced to flee for his life. He is accompanied by Harry Stave, an agent of the Court of the Air — a shadowy organization independent of the government that acts as the final judiciary of the land, ensuring that order prevails. Chased across the country, Oliver finds himself in the company of thieves, outlaws and spies, and gradually learns more about the secret that has blighted his life, but which may also offer him the power to avert the coming catastrophe.

Their enemies are ruthless and myriad, but Molly and Oliver are joined by indomitable friends in this endlessly inventive tale full of drama, intrigue and adventure.

I may well check this book out – anything that’s compared to Susanna Clarke and Philip Pullman has gotta be worth a read 🙂

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The Assassin King Chapter One Excerpt

Posted by senseichow on April 8, 2007

If you’re into Elizabeth Hayden’s Rhapsody books then you might be interested in this. Its a brief excerpt from Chapter One of the Assassin King – her latest novel in the Symphony of Ages series.

Many thanks to Chapter Feeds for putting it up.

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Upcoming Reads

Posted by senseichow on April 1, 2007

I’m going to start reading Brian Lumley’s Necroscope: The Touch next.

Yesterday I bought Gail Z. Martin’s The Summoner based on some good comments on it over at the Malazan Empire forums, and I’ve also ordered Daniel Abraham’s A Shadow In Summer based on an interview with the author over at Fantasy Book Critic. They should keep me busy for the next week or two.

Still waiting on my copy of The Name Of The Wind, unfortunately. According to Amazon it may not get delivered until well into April 😦

Had to give up on The Hickory Staff; while the concept was interesting the characters felt flat and the world just didn’t feel real enough. I only managed a couple of hundred pages into the book before stopping. Ah well.

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Review – Thief With No Shadow by Emily Gee

Posted by senseichow on April 1, 2007

The bottom line – strong, well written fantasy. Ignore the ‘romance’ part and tuck in.

The blurb on the back cover of Thief With No Shadow describes it as a ‘rich, romantic fantasy tale…’. Good thing I only read the blurb on the inside front cover before reading it, or I may not have started. The term romantic fantasy has unfortunate connotations with Mills and Boon, with smouldering bare chested heroes leaning over equally smouldering but just slightly less bThiefcover-1are chested heroines on the front cover.

Luckily for me, the romance takes a back seat to the fantasy in this book. Author Emily Gee’s debut novel tells the story of Melke, a woman able to become invisible at will. This gift runs in her family, and when her brother, Hantje is caught by the magical salamanders whilst using his power to steal from them, Melke has no choice but to do bargain for her brother’s life. The bargain involves stealing a necklace from a local farm, owned by the once proud sal Vere family.

Being able to turn invisible makes Melke a pretty good thief, and she manages to steal the necklace, only to set off a chain of events with serious repercussions, not just for her brother, but also for Bastian sal Vere and his sister, Lianna. Turns out the necklace had been stolen from a psaaron (think mer-man) by a sal Vere long dead and gone, and because of his crime the entire family had been cursed. Bastian needs the necklace to break the curse and thus save his sister from the amorous attentions of the psaaron, while Melke needs the necklace to give to the salamanders to save her brother.

The story is mainly told from the viewpoints of Melke and Bastian, and although they come off as a little two dimensional at first, Gee builds them up to become interesting characters who you can actually cheer for. The supporting cast consists of Melke’s brother Hantje, Lianna, Bastian’s sister, and Endal, Bastian’s hound, as well as a host of minor characters. Again, the respective siblings aren’t really well fleshed out at first, but they do get a bit more page time later on in the book.

As a sidenote, Bastian’s magical gift is the ability to talk to dogs, and the conversations between him and Endal are actually quite funny. Endal quickly became my favourite character in the book.

You won’t find sprawling epic fantasy here with character numbers running into the hundreds – this is a well written, self contained tale focusing on the bonds between family. True, there is the undercurrent of sexual tension running between Melke and Bastian, and some slightly disturbing man-on-salamander and psaaron-on-man sex towards the second half of the book (I mean, what the hell?), but these scenes are mercifully brief.

(And hey, I’ve read through the S&M scenes in Wizard’s First Rule. Salamander sex? Dude, that’s nothing. Check out Goodkind’s stuff if you really want to be disturbed.)

Thief With No Shadow is due for release in the UK in May, and worldwide in April 2007. Fore more Emily Gee info you can check out her website at www.emilygee.com.

In the interests of full disclosure – this title was a review copy sent to me by Solaris Publishing.

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