Guest post: Ben Peek on A Trope of Self Determination

Ben Peek’s The Godless blew me away. I really loved it. I never got to reading the second book in the Children trilogy, Leviathan’s Blood, because time and it is a bloody BIG book. However, once all our books have been unpacked after the house renovation, I intend to rectify that and roll on into the final book of the trilogy, The Eternal Kingdom. In the meantime, Ben was gracious enough to come back to the blog and write a piece about his favourite fantasy tropes. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! The Eternal Kingdom is out from Macmillan tomorrow.  Read More …

Andrew Martin – Soot

York, 1799.

In August, an artist is found murdered in his home – stabbed with a pair of scissors. Matthew Harvey’s death is much discussed in the city. The scissors are among the tools of his trade – for Harvey is a renowned cutter and painter of shades, or silhouettes, the latest fashion in portraiture. It soon becomes clear that the murderer must be one of the artist’s last sitters, and the people depicted in the final six shades made by him become the key suspects. But who are they? And where are they to be found?

Later, in November, a clever but impoverished young gentleman called Fletcher Rigge languishes in the debtor’s prison, until a letter arrives containing a bizarre proposition from the son of the murdered man. Rigge is to be released for one month, but in that time, he must find the killer. If he fails, he will be incarcerated again, possibly for life.

And so, with everything at stake, and equipped only with copies of the distinctive silhouettes, Fletcher Rigge begins his search across the snow-covered city, and enters a world of shadows…

It had been a while since I’d read a historical mystery or crime novel, so when Andrew Martin’s Soot landed in my inbox, I was quick to accept. Soot was certainly a murder mystery, but it was as much a whydunnit as a whodunnit. Especially since the book’s protagonist, Fletcher Rigge, starts off his investigation with a very limited pool of suspects. The more motives are revealed, the more the reader is seduced into guessing the culprit’s identity, which makes for a very entertaining read.  Read More …

Sebastien de Castell – Tyrant’s Throne

Falcio Val Bond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead King’s dream: Aline is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once and for all.

But for the Greatcoats, nothing is ever that simple. In neighbouring Avares, an enigmatic new warlord is uniting the barbarian armies, and even worse, he is rumoured to have a new ally: Falcio’s old nemesis Trin. With the armies of Avares at her back, she’ll be unstoppable.

Falcio, Kest and Breast go racing north to stop her, but in those cold, treacherous climes they discover something altogether different, and far more dangerous: a new player has entered the game, and plans to take the throne of Tristia…

Just when you think that Falcio and his Greatcoats have finally achieved their goals, the past comes back to haunt them in the form of not just a former known foe, but new unexpected enemies as well. In the fourth book in The Greatcoats series, Tyrant’s Throne, Sebastien de Castell brings several elements of the previous book full circle. I really enjoyed the way that he pulled back in strands that had seemed resolved; the reappearance of some of them created a gloomy sense of inevitability for Falcio and friends, a despondency they needed to fight to overcome.  Read More …

Sebastien de Castell – Saint’s Blood

How do you kill a Saint?

Falcio, Kest and Brasti are about to find out, because even Tristia’s most powerful Saints are turning up dead and the entire country is convinced it’s a sign that the Gods themselves oppose Aline’s ascension to the throne.

Now the Dukes are using the murders as an excuse to weasel out of their agreement to reinstate the Greatcoats, providing a golden opportunity for the Inquisitors — the Church’s own duelling magistrates — to take up the burden of enforcing justice … their own much harsher form of justice.

If he’s going to stop the Inquisitors, Falcio has to find the Saint-killer.

The only clue is the terrifying iron mask encasing the head of the dying Saint of Mercy — but even if it does lead him to the murderer, Falcio will still have to face him in battle.

And this may be one duel that no swordsman, no matter how skilled, can ever hope to win.

After I finished the second book in The Greatcoats series, Knight’s Shadow, I couldn’t wait to dive into Saint’s Blood, because I needed to know what happened next. This third instalment in the series was just as exciting as the previous two and even more gut-wrenching emotionally. Falcio and friends are back and have to face yet more foes bent on keeping Aline from the throne.  Read More …

Sebastien de Castell – Knight’s Shadow

Tristia is a nation overcome by intrigue and corruption. The idealistic young King Paelis is dead and the Greatcoats — legendary travelling magistrates who brought justice to the Kingdom — have been branded traitors. But just before his head was impaled on a spike, the King swore each of his hundred and forty-four Greatcoats to individual missions.

Falcio Val Bond, First Cantor, with the help of fellow Greatcoats Kest and Brasti, has completed his King’s final task: he has found his Charoites — well, one at least, and she was not quite what they expected. Now they must protect the girl from the many who would see her dead, and place her on the throne of a lawless kingdom. That would be simple enough, if it weren’t for the Dashini, an equally legendary band of assassins, getting in their way, not to forget the Dukes, who are determined to hold on to their fractured duchies, or the fact that the heir to the throne is only thirteen years old. Oh, and the poison that is slowly killing Falcio.

That’s not even mentioning the Greatcoat’s Lament…

When Sebastien de Castell’s debut novel Traitor’s Blade came out, I fell in love with both the story and the style. It was a joyous book, yet dealing with serious issues. And who could resist the brotherhood between Falcio, Brasti, and Kest? When I finished the first book, my main complaint was that I couldn’t read the second one immediately. I waited a year and when Knight’s Shadow came out, it fell between the cracks of all the other review copies I had to read. And when the next book, Saint’s Blood came out last year, it suffered the same fate, since now I had to read two huge books to catch up. However, this year saw the publication of the final book in the The Greatcoats series, Tyrant’s Throne and I decided it was time to catch up. In the end, I don’t know whether to kick myself for not reading the books sooner or to be grateful to my past self, since I could now just read all of the story in one go. I’m still undecided on that point…  Read More …

Theodore Brun – A Mighty Dawn

Hakan, son of Haldan, chosen son of the Lord of the Northern Jutes, swears loyalty to his father in fire, in iron, and in blood. But there are always shadows that roam. When a terrible tragedy befalls Hakan’s household, he is forced to leave his world behind. He must seek to pledge his sword to a new king. Nameless and alone, he embarks on a journey to escape the bonds of his past and fulfil his destiny as a great warrior.

Whispers of sinister forces in the north pull Hakan onwards to a kingdom plagued by mysterious and gruesome deaths. But does he have the strength to do battle with such dark foes? Or is death the only sane thing to seek in this world of blood and broken oaths?

In the past few years I’ve developed a soft spot for vikings. Whether it’s Snorri Kristjansson’s exuberant adventures in his Valhalla Saga or Giles Kristian’s epic historical God of Vengeance, I’ve fallen for the mixture of kick-ass battles, deep mythology, history, and the hint of the supernatural that are often the ingredients of which the story is composed. When I received a review copy of Theodore Brun’s A Mighty Dawn I was excited as it was billed as a mixture of all my favourite viking elements. It was all it promised, though I was quite frustrated with its treatment of women. Despite this, I really enjoyed the book tremendously and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.  Read More …

Miranda Emmerson – Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars

Soho, 1965.

In a tiny two-bed flat above a Turkish café on Neal Street lives Anna Treadway, a young dresser at the Galaxy Theatre.

When the American actress Iolanthe Green disappears after an evening’s performance at the Galaxy, the newspapers are wild with speculation about her fate. But as the news grows old and the case grows colder, it seems Anna is the only person left determined to find out the truth.

Her search for the missing actress will take her into an England she did not know existed: an England of jazz clubs and prison cells, backstreet doctors and seaside ghost towns, where her carefully calibrated existence will be upended by violence but also, perhaps, by love.

For in order to uncover Iolanthe’s secrets, Anna is going to have to face up to a few of her own…

Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars immediately drew my attention when I first came across it at last year’s Big Book Bonanza. The bright, colourful cover and the mystery posited in the cover copy captured my interest and the short presentation Miranda Emmerson gave about the influences for her story only solidified it. All of this is to say that I went into this book with high expectations—Emmerson met them all and more. Written with a light touch, the book is far more complex and far darker than its bright exterior would have you believe.  Read More …

N.K. Jemisin – The Obelisk Gate

The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night.

Essun—once Damaya, once Syenite, now avenger—has found shelter, but not her daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request. But if Essun does what he asks, it would seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

Far away, her daughter Nassun is growing in power—and her choices will break the world.

I always struggle when writing reviews for N.K. Jemisin’s books. First of all, I’m always afraid that I can’t do the books justice. Jemisin writes such complex worlds, characters and stories with so many layers baked in that I can’t possibly understand all of it, never mind capture it in a review. Secondly, I just love the books so much that all I want to do is gush and make everyone read it. And that is not conducive to writing a coherent review. This always leads to me procrastinating on actually writing these reviews, but today is the day and I’m just going to push through it and review The Obelisk GateRead More …

Peter Newman – The Seven [Blog Tour]

Years have passed since the Vagrant journeyed to the Shining City, Vesper in arm and Gamma’s sword in hand.

Since then the world has changed. Vesper, following the footsteps of her father, journeyed to the breach and closed the tear between worlds, protecting the last of humanity, but also trapping the infernal horde and all those that fell to its corruptions: willing or otherwise.

In this new age it is Vesper who leads the charge towards unity and peace, with seemingly nothing standing between the world and a bright new future.

That is until eyes open.

And The Seven awakes.  Read More …

Peter Newman – The Vagrant and the City

This novella is set after the events of The Malice and is best enjoyed after you’ve finished that. It is centred around the Vagrant’s subsequent adventures, and teases a little of what to expect in The Seven too.

I dove right into this novella after finishing The Malice and it was a joy. Because not only do we get a glimpse of how things stand about five years after the ending of The Malice, we also get a new story completely focused on the Vagrant. He remains a unique character and it made me remember how much I enjoyed him in the first book.  Read More …