Roo Avery, recently returned from a harrowing brush with the armies of the Emerald Queen, is now free to choose his own destiny and his ultimate ambition is to become one of the richest and most powerful merchants in Midkemia.
But nothing can prepare him for the dangers of the new life he has chosen where the repayment of a debt can be as deadly as a knife in the shadows. Even those closest to him are suspect and as Roo struggles to build his financial empire, betrayal is always close at hand. His instinctive cunning will serve him well, but he will soon realise that the road to success is far from smooth.
And while Roo works towards achieving his goal, the memory of the distant forces of darkness is never far away. For the war with the Emerald Queen is far from over and the inevitable confrontation will pose the biggest threat yet to his new found wealth and power.
Rise of a Merchant Prince was one of the books I was most looking forward to rereading for my Midkemia Reread as I adore Roo. And while it was still an entertaining read, my enjoyment of the book was somewhat affected by changes in how I look at the world. Or rather, some of Roo’s actions bothered me far more than they’ve ever done. Still, I really enjoyed the economic aspects of this novel and any scene Erik was in and, in the end, Rise of the Merchant Prince remains quite entertaining. Continue reading
By 28 February, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review
There are some far-fetched rumours about the caverns beneath the Citadel…
Some say the mages left their most dangerous secrets hidden there; others, that great riches are hidden there; even that gods have been imprisoned in its darkest depths.
For Lord Frith, the caverns hold the key to his vengeance. Against all the odds, he has survived torture and lived to see his home and his family taken from him … and now someone is going to pay. For Wydrin of Crosshaven and her faithful companion, Sir Sebastian Carverson, a quest to the Citadel looks like just another job. There’s the promise of gold and adventure. Who knows, they might even have a decent tale or two once they’re done.
But sometimes there is truth in rumour.
Sometimes it pays to listen. Soon this reckless trio will be the last line of defence against a hungry, restless terror that wants to tear the world apart.
And they’re not even getting paid.
The Copper Promise was one of this spring’s books I was looking forward to reading a lot, as I’d heard very good things about the novella when it was previously published – most notably Graeme Flory’s review at his old blog – and it sounded like a really fun romp. So when the book was selected as the February title for the Hodderscape Review Project, I was stoked and got to reading with gusto. And I have to say, Graeme was completely right; this reworked and expanded version of that original novella was highly entertaining and reminiscent of classic sword and sorcery, but updated and lacking some of the more problematic elements of the classic sword and sorcery novels. Continue reading
By 17 February, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review
There is magic on the urban streets. The Mythic are alive and creating chaos in a city near you. Fourteen fantastic fables by weavers of wonder: Adrian Tchaikovsky, Kate Griffin, Mike Resnick, Gaie Sebold, Christopher Golden, Alison Littlewood, Jaine Fenn, Jonathan Oliver, Graham Edwards, Anne Nicholls, Ian Whates, Joyce Chng, Zen Cho and James Brogden. Here are tales of magic and horror; ancient curses and modern charms; strange things in the Underground; murder and redemption; corporate cults and stalwart guardians; lost travellers and wandering gods; fortune tellers and urban wizards; dragons, fae and unspeakable beasts.
There is nothing I like more in my urban fantasy than a dose of magical London of the sort found in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, China Miéville’s Un Lun Dun, Ben Aaronovitch’s The Folly series, Tom Pollock’s The Skyscraper Throne series, and Rosie E. Best’s Skulk, to name but a few. So to be offered a chance to explore more of these magical metropolises (metropoli?) in The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic wasn’t one I was about to refuse. And by no means are all of these stories set in London, and even more surprising most of my favourites from the anthology weren’t even set in London. Continue reading
By 15 February, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review
Only very special people are chosen by children’s author Laura White to join ‘The Society’, an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back.
Now a tenth member has been selected: Ella, literature teacher and possessor of beautifully curving lips.
But soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual, ‘The Game’? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura’s winter party, in a whirlwind of snow? Why are the words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there once another tenth member, before her?
Slowly, disturbing secrets that had been buried come to light…
In this chilling, darkly funny novel, the uncanny brushes up against the everyday in the most beguiling and unexpected of ways.
The Rabbit Back Literature Society is something special. Originally published in 2006 it was translated from the Finnish by Lola M. Rogers. It’s hard to judge how successful the translation is as I’m unfamiliar with both Finnish and Finnish literature and I don’t know whether the translation has kept the rhythm and the beats of its original language. Unfamiliarity with the original language also makes it hard to judge some of the linguistic quirks of the novel as it’s unclear whether things that bugged me were due to authorial choice or whether this is just a normal Finnish practice. One of the things that I really had to get used to was the fact that our protagonist, Ella is often referred to by not just her first and last name, but even by her full name, Ella Amanda Milana. This just felt strange to me and shook me out of the narrative a number of times at first. Continue reading
By 10 February, 2014
Posted in fantasy, mystery, review
After nearly being drained of her ability and betrayed by a man her father trusted, Becca Ingle was left with one clue — Ciaran Shea. He holds the key to the downfall of the power-mad Holder, Darragh, and can ensure the safety of both Holder and Human kind alike… but is he willing to help?
Becca, Alex, Jocelyn, and Cormac set out Adare Manor to meet with the Bhunaidh, an aristocratic group of pure blooded Holders of whom Ciaran is a rumored member. However, when Becca discovers that they might not be the only ones after the information Ciaran has, everyone begins to wonder if Bhunaidh might not be as uninvolved with Darragh as they claim.
A race to uncover Ciaran’s secrets begins, where the line between friend and foe is blurred, and everyone seems to have their own agenda. Becca will have to call on every ability at her disposal to uncover the truth, all the while knowing that sometimes the answer is more dangerous than the question.
Julianna Scott’s debut The Holders took me by surprise last year. The book had sounded like a fun, interesting read, but I was taken completely unaware by how much I loved the story. It featured a great protagonist with a very distinctive voice in Becca, an interesting concept in the Holders and their abilities, and the romance between Alex and Becca was delicious. So The Seers was a book that I was really looking forward to and it was definitely worth the anticipation. It was a fun continuance of the story and I got answers to some of the questions I was left with at the end of the previous book. Continue reading
By 5 February, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review, YA
Meet Stan Markowski or the Scranton PD’s Occult Crimes Unit.
“My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.
“A new supernatural gang is intent on invading Scranton and it looks like I’m going to have to work with the current mob to prevent a demonic gang war.
“If there’s one thing I hate more than living with supernatural scumbags, it’s working with them! But you know that they say, better the devil you know…”
In 2012 I developed a taste for supernatural police procedurals, when I read Scott Sigler’s Nocturnal and Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London and Justin Gustainis’ Evil Dark was the one that confirmed that these sorts of books were really my thing. After finishing Evil Dark I was really looking forward to reading the next instalment in the Haunted Scranton series and, after two years, this weekend I finally got to return to Scranton and Detective Sergeant Markowski and friends. Known Devil was a blast, with the same sense of humour that had me chuckling out loud when reading Evil Dark and another action packed adventure. Continue reading
By 3 February, 2014
Posted in crime, fantasy, review
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.
Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.
The Golem & The Djinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
Helene Wecker’s debut novel has been praised by many of the bloggers I follow, it made the Locus Recommended Reading for 2013 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it appear on several awards shortlists. And it’s no wonder, because it is a remarkable novel. A historical fantasy, the book is set in turn-of-the-19th-century New York, mostly in the Jewish and Syrian communities of that metropolis, though Wecker takes us along on long jaunts through the city. Written in beautiful prose and filled with wonderful characters, who have been haunting me ever since I’ve finished the book, The Golem and the Djinni is a book to savour slowly and deliberately. Nevertheless, I found it a fast read as I found myself immersed in the narrative and unable to put the book down. Continue reading
By 2 February, 2014
Posted in fantasy, historical fiction, review
A different kingdom of wolves, woods and stranger, darker, creatures lies in wait for Michael Fay in the woods at the bottom of his family’s farm.
Michael Fay is a normal boy, living with his grandparents on their family farm in rural Ireland. In the woods there are wolves; and other things, dangerous things. He doesn’t tell his family, not even his Aunt Rose, his closest friend.
And then, as Michael wanders through the trees, he finds himself in the Other Place. There are strange people, and monsters, and a girl called Cat.
When the wolves follow him from the Other Place to his family’s doorstep, Michael must choose between locking the doors and looking away – or following Cat on an adventure that may take an entire lifetime in the Other Place.
Paul Kearney is an author I’ve seen people rave about ever since I started blogging. At the time he was in the middle of publishing his The Macht trilogy and there were a number of bloggers I discovered early on who are huge fans of that series (Looking at you, Speculative Scotsman!). So I was excited to learn that Solaris would be republishing his earlier work and The Macht series. However, based on what I’d read about The Macht, which as I recall it was akin to military fantasy, A Different Kingdom was quite different (no pun intended) than I’d expected. Instead of a raw, hard, military fantasy, this book is a far more traditional fairy tale, though with some very dark elements. Its sensibilities reminded me powerfully of Charles de Lint’s The Little Country though with a darker edge. Continue reading
By 31 January, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review
The Emperor has been murdered, leaving the Annurian Empire in turmoil. Now his progeny must bury their grief and prepare to unmask a conspiracy. His son Valyn, training for the empire’s deadliest fighting force, hears the news an ocean away. He expected a challenge, but after several ‘accidents’ and a dying soldier’s warning, he realizes his life is also in danger. Yet before Valyn can take action he must survive the mercenaries’ brutal final initiation.
Meanwhile, the Emperor’s daughter, Minister Adare, hunts her father’s murderer in the capital itself. Court politics can be fatal, but she needs justice. And Kaden, heir to an empire, studies in a remote monastery. Here, the Blank God’s disciples teach their harsh ways – which Kaden must master to unlock their ancient powers. When an imperial delegation arrives, he’s learnt enough to perceive evil intent. But will this keep him alive, as long-hidden powers make their move?
One of the ARCs being given away at World Fantasy last year was Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades. I’d seen some talk about it and it looked interesting – epic fantasy is always of interest – so I snagged myself a copy, deciding to save reading it till closer to publication. In the meantime, I’d heard lots of bloggers I respected say good things about the book and I found myself looking forward to starting the book to see whether I’d enjoy it as much as they did. The answer is yes, yes I did. Continue reading
By 27 January, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review
The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes.
He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates. People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus–the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond the card tricks and illusions he’s perfecting…
A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.
Discussing Shadowplay is impossible without revealing some major spoilers for the previous book Pantomime. If you haven’t read it and want to remain unspoiled, please read no further. You’ve been warned: here be spoilers! Continue reading
By 26 January, 2014
Posted in fantasy, review, YA