Sunday, January 31, 2010

Review - "The Crown Conspiracy" by Michael J. Sullivan

Occasional SciFiGuy.ca SFF reviewer Lisa Hurley is back with an excellent review of The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan, the first book in the Riyria Revelations medieval fantasy series. The Riyria Revelations is a six-book fantasy series conceived as a single epic tale divided into individual episodes. All were written before the first was released so that plot elements are intertwined, yet each is self-contained and can be read independently. With this series you will not be held hostage to read the next one--you will simply want to. The second book: Avempartha was released in April 2009, the third: Nyphron Rising in November 2009, and the fourth book: The Emerald Storm will be available in April 2010.

Synopsis:
There's no ancient evil to defeat, no orphan destined for greatness, just two guys in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become the unwitting scapegoats in a plot to murder the king. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out…and so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.
As the first book in a larger series, I was expecting The Crown Conspiracy to be a bit sluggish, packed full of lengthy exposition and tedious descriptions of the physical appearance of the characters. (Maybe I've been reading a little too much Robert Jordon.) However, this book was anything but sluggish.

Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melborn are two unlikely heroes, whose day to day method of business is doing dirty work for the nobles of Melengar, and occasionally ripping them off in the process. They are thrown into the wrong situation at the worst of possible times, and end up on a journey with the prince of Melengar, a monk with an excellent memory, and the task of staying alive. Most of the characters are easy to like (or to loathe), and the reader is swiftly invested in the fate of Hadrian and Royce, making the ingenious plot twists seem very suspenseful.

 
The story begins with a wonderful first line, something I love a book to have.
Archibald Ballentyne held the world in his hands, convieniently contained within fifteen stolen letters.
It continues to develop at a good pace, and the plot is layered and intriguing, really engaging the reader to put the pieces together and figure out what's really going on. Sullivan's real talents lie in character development and dialogue, the latter of which was really delightful. Royce and Hadrian have a great repartee, and the monk, Myron, has some memorable lines of his own. On seeing a woman for only the second time in his life and just recovering from the discovery that horses come in more than one color:
"Oh my, I don't even think of horses when I look at her!" 
I often chuckled at Myron's reactions to the everyday world he was never a part of, having lived in single monastery his whole life.

The author holds back a bit regarding the backgrounds of some of the other characters - namely Royce and Hadrian. We know Royce is a thief, and quite mysterious most of the time, when he isn't teasing Hadrian or performing a great feat of thievery. We know Hadrian is a mercenary who follows a certain code of honor, which is important, because Royce sometimes needs someone to remind him to be honorable. There are hints throughout the book that there is a lot more to these two characters than we have seen, and I'm excited to see how they develop in the books to come.

Overall this book is a great start to a series, and certainly a wonderful piece of writing. There is an element of fantasy, but it manages to stay grounded very much in reality, even with the occasional presence of a dwarf, elf, or wizard. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a bit of medieval fantasy, mystery, and action. I will certainly be itching to read the next installment!


AUTHOR and BOOK SHOWCASE

Read an excerpt.

Ridan Publishing
Published: October 2008
Format: Paperback
Pages: 310
ISBN #: 9780979621135

The Riyiria Revelations Series:
  1. The Crown Conspiracy (2008)
  2. Avempartha (2009)
  3. Nyphron Rising (2009)
  4. The Emerald Storm (April 2010)
  5. Wintertide (October 2010)
  6. Percepliquis (2011)

Winner - Succubus Diaries Books by Jill Myles


What a fabulous response there was to the 'Twisting the Mary Sue' post by Jill Myles. Thank you everyone that commented or linked. Using the Randomizer, the lucky winner of a copy of Gentlemen Prefer Suucubi and Succubi Like It Hot and a goodie package from Jill herself is -
  • elaing8 who said... I am seeing great reviews for these books.I so want them,right now..lol. I cannot wait to read them. Love those covers too :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Urban Fantasy Weekend Report

INTERVIEWS and EVENTS at SciFiGuy.ca: 

Don't forget to enter the fabulous Banshee Giveaway of Rachel Vincent's My Soul To Save here (three copies to be had). Rachel has also posted a partial list of other blog tour sites with chance to win copies. Fans of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover fantasy series have an opportunity to win a copy of the latest installment Hastur Lord. I have four copies to giveaway!


I have tow interesting and very different guests this week -
  • February 2 - Science fiction and urban fantasy author S. Andrew Swann will be visiting to talk about Heretics the second book in his Apotheosis space opera trilogy. He will also be back for an interview when Wolf's Cross launches in late July.
  • February 5 - Jennifer Estep will be here to talk about her new Elemental Assassins series which launches with Spider's Bite in January, quickly followed by Web of Lies later in February.

New to the Events schedule for the following week is the lovely Jeaniene Frost who is going to be here February for the launch of First Drop of Crimson, the first book in her new Night Huntress world spinoff series. Remember to check my Author Events and Interviews schedule posted on my left sidebar for the most recent updates.

On a more personal note I was thrilled when I saw the book jacket for Through Stone and Sea (Book 2 in the second Noble Dead series) by Barb and J.C. Hendee because SciFiGuy.ca received a blurb credit!
I was equally surprised last month when I read Betrayals by Lilith Saintcrow and discovered a blurb inside for my review of Strange Angels. Sweet.

AUTHOR and BOOK NEWS:

FREE READS:
  • Kelley Armstrong says that her publisher HarperCollins has posted The Summoning as a free read here.  She is also running a contest. Details here. Closes Monday.
  • Lilith Saintcrow announces that she has an excerpt  of her short story Best Friends from the forthcoming The Girl’s Guide To Guns & Monsters anthology over at FlamesRising as well as a preview of her essay for the soon to be released Ardeur: 14 Writers on the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. The essay is titled Ambiguous Anita.
  • Rob Thurman has posted an excerpt from Roadkill the next Cal Leandros novel releasing March 2.
  • Excerpt from The Mage in Black by Jaye Wells.
  • Excerpt of Shadow Blade by Seressia Glass
  • Excerpt from Demon Possesed by Stacia Kane
  • Excerpt of Sean Cummings' Funeral Pallor – Book Two in the Valerie Stevens series:
INTERVIEWS:
Apparently Amazon.com has stopped selling Macmillan (including Tor) books in a dispute over eBook pricing. Once again Amazon.com demonstrates its' total lack of concern and respect for the book consuming and buying public. Response has been swift and negative. Check out articles and blog postings by the NYT, Laura Anne Gilman, Cory Doctorow, John Scalzi, Jay Lake, Carolyn Jewel and the Making Light group blog. [some links via Jackie Kessler]

I have long been a fan of the Lynsay Sands Argeneault Vampires series. In Lynsay's most recent newsletter she reveals the dates and details of the next two books in the series - Born to Bite and Hungry for You.
  • August 31, 2010: Born To Bite, the thirteenth book in the Argeneau/Rogue Hunter series, will be coming out this September. Armand Argeneau has been living on a farm squirrelled away from public life for decades without anyone bothering him. Until now that is. Lucian has been kind enough to volunteer Armand to babysit Eshe d'Aureus in order to protect her from a rogue vampire out for revenge. In reality, Eshe was sent to Armand on assignment to find clues to explain his many wives' 'accidental' deaths. This installment of the Argeneau/Rogue Hunter series will also answer the unanswered questions from Nicholas's story, The Renegade Hunter. 
  • November 30, 2010: Hungry For You, the fourteenth book in the Argeneau/Rogue Hunter series will be coming out this December. It involves the last of the Willan sisters, Alex, and one of Martine Argeneau's older sons, Cale. Alex is a successful chef and restauranteur trying to expand her business and the new location's debut seems to be riddled with bad luck. Can Cale, a successful european chef . . . er . . . businessman, help her keep her business afloat and still keep her frazzled attention long enough to see him for who he really is . . . the love of her life?
Tor author Cherie Priest discusses Boneshaker and steampunk with Mary Ann Gwinn of The Seattle Times. The article titled, “Seattle author Cherie Priest is high priestess of ‘steampunk’”, appeared in both of the Sunday, January 24th online and print editions. [via the Tor Forge Blog]

Author Alyssa Day announced that she is moving to Japan for 3 years! What an experience that will be. Read her blog posting about the decision here.

Jackie Kessler posted the back cover copy for Hunger coming in October - 
“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”
Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?
Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?
Leanna Renee Hieber announced that her publisher has picked up books three and four in her Strangely Beautiful series. Congratulations Leanna!

Michelle Rowen posts about book titles and how rarely the published title matches the initial working title.

The 2010 Nebula Awards for the year’s best literary and dramatic works of speculative fiction will be held Thursday, May 13 through Sunday, May 16 in Cocoa Beach, Florida, on Cape Canaveral.Full details on the SFWA website.

Jordan Summers alerted me on her blog that there will be a Blood Lite 2 anthology. Jordan's story - "Tastes Like Chicken" will appear. Editor and SF author Kevin J. Anderson on his blog says of the anthology - "I have finished reading all the submissions and selected the final entries.  100,000 words of new fiction from big names and little-known names.  I think this volume is even funnier than the first.  I still have a bunch of paperwork to do, writing up contracts for all the authors, compiling bios, etc.  But this book is ready to roll.

Katie MacAlister showed of the promotional bookmark for her forthcoming Love in the Time of Dragons. Sweet!

Author Melissa Francis has joined Nancy Holzner, Sean Cummings, Rita Vetere and company at the Good Girls - Bad Juju blog.Rita also reports that Monday, February 1 at 8:00 p.m. ET, she’ll be joined by fellow GoodGirl, Nancy Holzner, and the BadJuju himself, Sean Cummings, for a live chat at Chatting in the Dark with giveaways including a signed copy of Nancy’s kickass urban fantasy novel Deadtown and a signed copy of Rita's latest dark fantasy release Born of Darkness.

SF Signal has the complete table of contents of the forthcoming werewolf anthology, Running with the Pack, edited by Ekaterina Sedia which inlcudes urban fantasy familiars Carrie Vaughn, C.E. Murphy, Laura Anne Gilman and a host of terrific SFF authors.

Book Trailer for Frost Moon by Anthony Francis. Cover and excerpt featured in my January 9 UF Weekend Report.


Julie Kenner's alter ego pen name J.K. Beck's website is live. Check it out.

Caitlin Kittredge posted an update on her blog about a title change to her forthcoming YA book -
The Lovecraftian Steampunk YA Faerie Adventure novel formerly know as The Witch’s Alphabet has a brand new shiny sparkling-like-a-vampire-in-Miami title!  That title is The Iron Thorn. The new title came together as a mashup of two other titles, one suggested by me and one by Editor Krista at Delacorte.  Collaborative in the truest sense. Honestly, I love it.  I loved Witch’s Alphabet too, but this is a fantastic title and it’s honestly more evocative of what the book is about as a whole, rather than a single plot element.  Because this book is, after all, a Lovecraftian Steampunk YA Adventure.  With bonus! evil faeries and sinister conspiracies, dirigibles and forbidding mansions and fantastical machines.


CONTESTS:

List of 81 Urban Fantasy giveaways

CANADA Only:
  • To win a copy of Bleeding Violet, by Dia Reeves just email your name and contact info to michelle.blackwell@simonandschuster.ca with the subject line "Violet". Contest expires February 15th, 2010. *Canadian addresses only please.*
  • PenguinCanada: To celebrate our anniversary, we’re giving 12 lucky winners a library of Penguin's 75 bestselling paperbacks! http://bit.ly/bzybFu
CHECK FOR DETAILS:
  • Kelley Armstrong is having a contest to win copies of her limited edition novella Angelic. Details here.

MEDIA:

In the good news category according to SciFi Wire the BBC urban fantasy series Being Human which is currently in the midst of its' second season has been renewed by the network for a third season. Yeah!

Tor The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Carrie Vaughn on Legion. Nicole Peeler on Doctor Who.

John Scalzi points out this article at the LA Times about SF and the Oscars. I just like the picture.Very funny and quite likely.


PROMOTIONS:

Jackie at Literary Escapism is running an absolutely fabulous Reading Challenge event throughout February featuring the authors from the League of Reluctant Adults. Here is a repost of Jackie's update on the event:

Has everyone signed up for the New Author Mini Challenge featuring the League of Reluctant Adults?  At this point, I don’t know if I want others signing up. The League has found out about the challenge and are being their awesome selves and throwing in more books to be given away at the end of the challenge.  We’re talking 20 different authors, each throwing in at least one book (and I know a couple have thrown in more), so the prize pool is fab-u-lous!  Want to know what it consist of?  Check out what these amazing authors have put into the pot:
  • Set of the Simon Canderous novels by Anton Strout – Dead to Me, Deader Still and Dead Matter
  • Set of Demon novels by Diana Rowland – Mark of the Demon and Blood of the Demon
  • Set of Sabine Kane novels by Jaye Wells – Red-Headed Stepchild and The Mage in Black
  • Set of the Jane Jameson novels by Molly Harper – Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs, Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men and Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever
  • 2 ARCS of Mind Games by Carolyn Crane
  • Kiss and Hell by Dakota Cassidy
  • An ARC of Accidentally Demonic by Dakota Cassidy (Accidental Friends #4)
  • Hell’s Belles by Jackie Kessler
  • Black and White by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge
  • Set of Anna Strong novels by Jeanne Stein along with matching book cover magnets and some other swag
  • 2 copies of the anthology Mean Streets featuring
  • Underground by Kat Richardson (Greywalker #3)
  • Vanished by Kat Richardson (Greywalker #4)
  • Three Days to Dead by Kelly Meding
  • Jailbait Zombie by Mario Acevedo (Felix Gomez #4)
  • An ARC of X-Rated Bloodsuckers by Mario Acevedo (Felix Gomez #5)
  • Battle of the Network Zombies by Mark Henry (Amanda Feral #3)
  • Road Trip of the Living Dead by Mark Henry (Amanda Feral #2)
  • 2 copies of Come Hell or High Water by Michele Bardsley (Broken Heart #6)
  • Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler
  • Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead
  • Storm Born by Richelle Mead
Are the Leaguers not amazing for offering up these prizes?  There’s a total of 35 novels being given away to 7 different winners who will get to pick 5 novels to take home. It’ll be a first come first choose and the Leaguers want to give everyone has many chances to win as they can.  So in addition to each review posted for the challenge (again, up to 5), if you post your review in another place (i.e. GoodReads, LibraryThing, Amazon, etc) and then leave a link in the comments, you’ll get another entry for a chance of 2 per review.

So if you want a chance at any of these, then go over to the New Author Mini Challenge page, sign up and start getting your books ready for February 1st.  Any League book you read and review during February counts, with a ceiling of five reviews per person – and you don’t have to be a blogger to participate.  Just make sure you get a review somewhere – on Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing…hell, you can be a guest reviewer here if you want to be (email me if you’re interested in this option myjaxon at gmail).  The goal is to not only try (and end up loving) one of these fabulous authors, but to give them a little pimpage as well.

And in case you need a reminder, here are those awesome authors again:
Mario Acevedo Richelle Mead
Michele Bardsley Nicole Peeler
Dakota Cassidy Cherie Priest
Carolyn Crane Jennifer Rardin
Molly Harper Kat Richardson
Mark Henry Michelle Rowen
Jackie Kessler Diana Rowland
Stacia Kane Jeanne Stein
Caitlin Kittredge Anton Strout
Kelly Meding Jaye Wells

COVERS and ART:

Irene Gallo at Tor announced that John Jude Palencar has won this year’s Society of Illustrators’ Hamilton King Award for his artwork on Charles de Lint’s Muse and Reverie.

Alyson Noell revealed two new covers this week. I posted the cover for Dark Flame earlier and now we have Radiance, Book 1 in The Immortals young adult spin-off series. Radiance releases August 31.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Immortals comes a new middle-grade series featuring Ever’s younger sister, Riley.

Welcome to the Here and Now

Riley Bloom left her sister, Ever, in the world of the living and crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. Riley and her dog, Buttercup, have been reunited with her parents and are just settling into a nice, relaxing death when she’s summoned before The Council. They let her in on a secret—the afterlife isn’t just an eternity of leisure; Riley has to work. She’s been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a curious boy she can’t quite figure out.

Riley, Bodhi, and Buttercup return to earth for her first assignment, a Radiant Boy who’s been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But he’s never met Riley...
FOREIGN EDITION COVERS:
Caitlin Kittredge posted the cover to the UK edition of the forthcoming Shades of Grey which has been retitled Shades of Night for the UK. Also posted was a link to Schattenwölfe, the German edition of Night Life. Lilith Saintcrow has a link to the German edition of her first Jill Kismet book. Richelle Mead has a terrific selection of covers from Bulgaria to Japan and more for all of her series. Tez Says has UK cover for Keri Arthur’s Moon Sworn

Laura Anne Gilman posted the cover for her paranormal romance The Hunted (written under pen name Anna Leonard)about a selkie. Coming April 1.

Suzanne McLeod posted the UK cover for her second Spellcrackers book, The Cold Kiss of Death.

Tez Says reveals the cover for Bullet, Laurell K. Hamilton's newest Anita Blake adventure. I hear the name of the book and always think Steve McQueen. Unfortunately the cover design leaves me cold as do most of the new US covers for the Anita books.


Kelly Meding revealed the cover to As Lie the Dead thise week. It is the second Dreg City novel.

Cover art featured here this past week at SciFiGuy.ca included:


AROUND the BLOGOSPHERE:

Rebecca at Dirty Sexy Books has her usual eclectic, fascinating and diverse post on a wide range of news and other goodies. Check out Packs of Ninjas, iPad, Mojo Bags, and What Witchy Women Really Brewed Back Then

Mario Acevedo on the Biting Edge blog points us to this video. Mario says - "In case you wanted to look like an revenant bloodsucker but didn't know how, watch this video of makeup and fashion tips. But for an authentic bloodshot-eyes look, my vampires recommend cheap whisky."


John at Grasping for the Wind has one of his wonderful Inside the Blogosphere posts where a wide range of bloggers answer the question Who Introduced You to the Love of Literature?

Abigail at All Things Urban Fantasy is introducing a "Hot Off the Press" feature showcasing monthly releases. Check out her February release list.

This comment and image from OCD, Vampires, and Rants, oh my! sums up yet another feeble attempt by the technology industry to market and deliver a decent eBook device.
Boy, I just can't wait to get my hands on a device whose name brings mental associations of pain, mess, inconvenience and bulk. Awesome.
from The Galaxy Express Steampunky Links

If you are looking for some good fantasy books with romance themes check out this post from Amy at Romance Book Worm. I've read a little over half of the suggestions on her list (the Anne Bishop, LOis McMaster Bujold and ELizabeth Vaughn series are favourites). Excellent suggestions.


FROM MY LIBRARY:

I am introducing a new feature to the Weekend Report. Each week I am going to select some weird or wonderful item from my SFF collection and profile it here. This week I am launching with The Golden Amazon's Triumph, a paperback from an imprint we are all familiar with - Harlequin. Here is a science fiction title (yes Harlequin did SF, I have an Edgar Rice Burroughs title too) from 1958. John Russell Fearn was a prolific UK author and his Golden Amazon series was hugely popular here in Canada in the late 50's and early 60's in newspaper literary supplmements.


Back Cover Copy


CANDID CAMERA:

Linda Robertson at the Hallowed Circle release party.



Friday, January 29, 2010

Banshee Giveaway - "My Soul to Save" by Rachel Vincent

I have a great giveaway for you today to celebrate the launch earlier this month of  My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent, the second book in her urban fantasy Soul Screamers series. There are three (3) copies of My Soul to Save up for grabs and you can find the giveaway guidelines at the end of the post.

This terrific young adult series began with My Soul to Take in August 2009 as the launching title for Harlequin Teen's new young adult imprint. You can read more about the new imprint in the guest post from Harlequin Teen editor Natashya Wilson. You can also read the guest post Rachel did here at SciFiGuy.ca last year about the series called "Why YA and bean sidhes?"

LINK: visit the Official Soul Screamers Website

Soul Screamers
The last thing you hear before you die.

You can read an excerpt of My Soul to Save here
Bookcover Copy:
When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.

So when teen pop star Eden croaks on stage and Kaylee doesn’t wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can’t cry for someone who has no soul.

The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad’s ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend’s loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls for a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld—a consequence they can’t possibly understand.

Kaylee can’t let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk.
Trailer for My Soul to Save (Soul Screamers Book 2)


You can read an excerpt of My Soul to Take here and my review of it here.
Bookcover Copy:
When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.

So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn't wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can't cry for someone who has no soul.

The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad's ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend's loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld—a consequence they can't possibly understand.

Kaylee can't let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk…
Trailer for My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers Book 1)


You can learn more about Kaylee by downloading the free Soul Screamers prequel My Soul to Lose here!

GIVEAWAY GUIDELINES:
  1. Leave a comment telling us about your favourite young adult book or one you are looking forward to later this year.
  2. Open to US residents only (international readers can enter if they have a friend in the States who can accept their prizes by mail.)
  3. Leave a way to notify you if you should win.
  4. Blog, tweet, post on Facebook or other social network sites for an extra entry. Leave a comment here to let me know.
  5. Giveaway open until Midnight, February 15, 2010 EST. Winners will be selected by the Randomizer.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cover Art - Killbox by Ann Aguirre

Ann Aguirre posted the lovely cover for Killbox, the fourth book in her science fiction romance series about Sirantha Jax. Coming this September.


TALK IS CHEAP WHEN LIVES ARE IN JEOPARDY

Sirantha Jax is a “Jumper,” a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup
needed to navigate faster than light ships through grimspace. With no tolerance for
political diplomacy, she quits her ambassador post so she can get back to saving the universe the way she does best—by mouthing off and kicking butt.

And her tactics are needed more than ever. Flesh-eating aliens are attacking stations on the outskirts of space, and for many people, the Conglomerate’s forces are arriving too late to serve and protect them.

Now, Jax must take matters into her own hands by recruiting a militia to defend the frontiers — out of the worst criminals, mercenaries, and raiders that ever traveled through grimspace…

Cover Art - " King's Justice" by Maurice Broaddus

Earlier this month in a weekend report, I posted the cover art for the urban fantasy King Maker, the first book in Maruice Broaddus' The Knights of Breton Court series. Here is the artwork for the second book in the series King's Justice. Check out Maurice's blog for more details.


These books, if you recall, are a retelling of the King Arthur myths, set amongst the inner city gangs of Indianapolis. It’s dark, vicious and totally of the moment: like The Wire meets Excalibur.

Cover Art - "The Demon's Lexicon" by Saral Rees Brennan

Sarah Rees Brennan revealed a new cover design for the paperback edition (coming this April) of her novel The Demon's Lexicon which was published last June in hardcover. Apparently the series will follow this style moving forward. Which do you prefer?




Original cover
 

Cover Art - "Fatal Circle" by Linda Robertson

Abigail at All Things Urban Fantasy came across the cover for Fatal Circle by Linda Robertson coming this July. A fourth book in the Arcane Circle series featuring Persephone Alcmedi following Vicious Circle, Hallowed Circle and Fatal Circle will be coming in January 2011.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Giveaway and Darkover Spotlight - Hastur Lord by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Fans of fantasy will be familiar with Marion Zimmer Bradley and the books in her Darkover universe. Hastur Lord, a brand new Darkover novel co-written by Deborah J. Ross was just released on January 5 and thanks to the generous folks at Penguin Canada, I have four (4) copies of the DAW hardcover to give away. Please note that this giveaway is limited to residents of Canada (well this is a Canadian blog eh?).

GIVEAWAY GUIDELINES:
  1. Leave a comment telling us about your favourite Darkover or Marion Zimmer Bradley book or why you would or wouldn't want psychic/telepathic powers.
  2. Open to Canadian residents.
  3. Leave a way to notify you if you should win.
  4. Blog, tweet, post on Facebook or other social network sites for an extra entry. Leave a comment here to let me know.
  5. Giveaway open until Midnight, February 9, 2010 EST. Winners will be selected by the Randomizer.
My guest reviewer Mark Taylor provides a review of this newest book here. From the book jacket -
Before her death in 1999, bestselling author Marion Zimmer Bradley began writing what would turn out to be her last Darkover novel. She called her book "The Shadow King," but, because of her deteriorating health, she was never able to finish this work. For a decade the incomplete manuscript of "The Shadow King" languished on a shelf. Now, Deborah J. Ross has fleshed out and completed this last of Marion's work, and you hold in your hand the resulting novel: Hastur Lord.
The Darkover saga spanned over 40 years of Marion Ziimmer Bradley's career with the first book The Planet Saver appearing as an Ace Double in 1958. New books in the series were written with regularity until her death in 1999.  Author Deborah J. Ross continues to co-author books in the series and sustains Marion's Darkover legacy.

I discovered Marion Zimmer Bradley through her early works that appeared from Ace and later with DAW, avidly reading each new release. Like many people, my favourite novel of hers was Mists of Avalon. I was fortunate to meet Marion on a couple of occasions at SF conventions and have included a scan of one of several books I was lucky to have autographed. I have included a list of the Darkover novels below with covers for your enjoyment.

About Marion Zimmer Bradley
Marion Zimmer was born in Albany, NY, on June 3, 1930, and married Robert Alden Bradley in 1949. Mrs. Bradley received her B.A. in 1964 from Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, then did graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1965-67.

Writing for over 4 decades, she is best known for her Darkover science fantasy series and her Arthurian masterpiece, The Mists of Avalon. She also edited anthologies for 14 years and published Marion Zimmer Bradley's FANTASY Magazine.

She died in Berkeley, California on September 25, 1999, four days after suffering a major heart attack.

Darkover Series:
  • The Planet Savers (1958)
  • The Sword of Aldones (1962)
  • The Bloody Sun (1964)
  • Star of Danger (1965)
  • The Winds of Darkover (1970)
  • The World Wreckers (1971)

  • Darkover Landfall (1972)
  • The Spell Sword (1974) (with Paul Edwin Zimmer (uncredited)

  • The Heritage of Hastur (1975)
  • The Shattered Chain (1976)

  • The Forbidden Tower (1977)


  • Stormqueen! (1978)
  • The Bloody Sun (1979) rewritten and expanded edition
  • Two To Conquer (1980)

  • Sharra's Exile (1981)
  • Hawkmistress! (1982)

  • Thendara House (1983)
  • City of Sorcery (1984)

  • The Heirs of Hammerfell (1989)
  • Rediscovery (1993) (with Mercedes Lackey)

  • Exile's Song (1996) (with Adrienne Martine-Barnes)
  • The Shadow Matrix (1997) (with Adrienne Martine-Barnes)
  • Traitor's Sun (1999) (with Adrienne Martine-Barnes)


The Clingfire Trilogy
  • The Fall of Neskaya (2001) (with Deborah J. Ross)
  • Zandru's Forge (2003) (with Deborah J. Ross)
  • A Flame in Hali (2004) (with Deborah J. Ross)

  • The Alton Gift (2007) (written  principally by Deborah J. Ross)
  • Hastur Lord (2010) (written principally by Deborah J. Ross)

Review - "Hastur Lord" by Marion Zimmer Bradley & Deborah J. Ross

Today I have guest reviewer Mark Taylor. Mark is a close friend and a long time reader and fan of science fiction and fantasy and occasional dabbler in urban fantasy. He has previously appeared here at SciFiGuy.ca with reviews of Sherwood Smith's The Fox and Inda. Today he tackles Hastur Lord, the final book in Marion Zimmer Bradley's popular Darkover saga which released January 5. Many readers will undoubtedly have read or be aware of her most well-know work Mists of Avalon (also a personal favourite).

Cover Blurb:
Before her death in 1999, bestselling author Marion Zimmer Bradley began writing what would turn out to be her last Darkover novel. She called her book "The Shadow King," but, because of her deteriorating health, she was never able to finish this work. For a decade the incomplete manuscript of "The Shadow King" languished on a shelf. Now, Deborah J. Ross has fleshed out and completed this last of Marion's work, and you hold in your hand the resulting novel: Hastur Lord.
Regis Hastur was the heir to the most powerful domain on Darkover. When his grandfather, already elderly and in fragile health, died, he would inherit the title of Hastur Hastur, Regent of Darkover - king in everything but name. But ironically, this mantle was the last thing Regis had ever wanted. As a boy he had spent many hours staring from the confines of Ancient Comyn Castle to the gleaming modern buildings and vessels of the Terran Zone space port, dreaming of travel to strange worlds and faraway planets. As he grew to be a young man he had dreamed of a different kind of freedom - the freedom to live and love like an ordinary man, without the expectations and responsibilities of his position. But now what Regis in his late twenties, and his grandfather was dying. His destiny was almost upon him. Though he had long ago given up his dreams of travel to distant worlds, he had staunchly refused to marry, for in marrying he would have to set aside his beloved Paxman and long time lover, Danilo Syrtis. For Regis, living a life without Danilo was, quite simply, a life not worth living.

But it was a time of change for Darkover, for the Terran Empire was Reconfiguring itself into a federation, and long Darkover's ruling council Comyn had been destroyed by the Terran murders perpetrated by the organization known as The World Wreckers. The Democratic Telepath council had proved unequipped to govern, and those left alive Comyn held differing points of view about the status of Darkover proposed in the new Terran Federation.

Even Regis recognized Darkover's desperate need for strong, rational leadership - leadership only he had been trained to provide. But now that his time was at hand, what Regis willing to make the personal Sacrifices necessary to lead his world? or would he turn away from his destiny and finally make his dreams come true in real terms? For on his deathbed, his grandfather Register informs that he has a brother - an older half-brother who could finally relieve Register of the burden of the title he had never wanted. Registration would finally let himself be free to be the man he had always dreamed of being?
I had not read a Darkover novel in quite a few years, so I was looking forward to reading this novel. Was I disappointed, well read on…

For me the first criteria for a novel is it readable or does the reader get tripped over the dialogue within the book. ‘Hastur Lord’, it should be noted, is a readable book so it definitely does meet the first criteria. The pacing of the story keeps the reader engaged and though I question the lack of depth in character establishment, the story itself moves along at a good pace.

There are some memorable intimate moments revealed in the book, especially, with regards to interactions between Regis and Linnea. One memorable passage was during a marriage proposal when Linnea rests her chin on Regis’ back and he thinks regarding her touch, “not at all intrusive, but nonetheless compelling, as if he were a mountain and she a weary traveler, as if he were a straw in the wind and she a sheltering tree”. I like the imagery…

The second criterion for a good book regards the characters. Are the characters interesting and engaging throughout the book and, except in rare instances, in this area sadly the Hastur Lord is lacking.

Everyone and everything is tired in this book. The Comyn have been beaten down and are a shadow of their former glory. Regis is tired of the perception of leading or being viewed as a leader and wants out of his potential responsibilities. Darkover is tired and, as well, the Terran Empire is tired (so tired it stops being an Empire and moves to be a Federation – historically doesn’t it always go the other way around? Mmm). As you read on, you hope something great can emerge from all this down ness and by the end of the book you are still left waiting and hoping.

One irritating aspect I found in the book and honestly, I don’t remember if it was the same in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s original non ghost-written novels and novellas, but throughout the book it seemed the characters are rather clueless when it comes to having a deep understanding of each other (though they believe they have a deep understanding). Now normally this would not be a problem, but the Comyn are telepathic, when they touch or are intimate with each other whether it is male-female, male-male, or female-female they become ‘ONE’, supposedly understanding each other in their totality. They even know when they create a new life and what its sex will be. So having this deep connectedness you would think they understand what motivates each other, but in the book they all act like they have a marginal understanding at best. Possibly this is to make them more real and accessible to the reader, but I found it to be most unrealistic.

My recommendation for the book is, if you are a fan of the Darkover series, you may enjoy Lord Hastur, but it is definitely a light weight read, one might even say, a mere hiccup in the overall Darkover saga.

Mark Taylor



Stay tuned for a fabulous giveaway for copies of Hastur Lord by Marion Zimmer Bradley as well as a profile of the Darkover series.

For more information on the authors visit:

Marion Zimmer Bradley
Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust Website

Deborah J. Ross
Website

Giveaway Winner - Helen Scott Taylor Guest Post



Time to draw the winner of the signed copies of The Magic Knot and The Phoenix Charm by Helen Scott Taylor from her recent guest post and the lucky name is...
  • Pamk who said...loved the first book in this series. And can't wait to read this one. I'm especially looking forward to reading Nightshade's book.
Many thanks to everyone that commented and posted about the event but especially to Helen Scott Taylor for visiting and sharing with us.