Some fantasy stats

Hi guys,

Just saw this information on And I thought it would be of interest.

Publishers' Weekly just came up with its list of top selling fiction books for the calendar year of 2005.

Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams holds the 20th position, with sales of 514,833 copies.

Matthew Stover's Revenge of the Sith holds the 29th spot. It sold 431,426 copies.

George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows holds the 41st position, with sales of 325,000 copies.

Further down the list are Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys at 150,335 copies, and Star Wars: Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader at 137,661 copies.

David Keck Interview

From the number of people who have read my post pertaining to David Keck's In the Eye of Heaven on numerous message boards out there, I thought it would be nice to ask him a few questions. That way, everyone could get to know this new author whose book will be released next week.

He seems to be a pretty nice guy. Then again, he is Canadian!;-)

- For the benefit of those of us new to your work, without giving too much away, give us a taste of the story that is IN THE EYE OF HEAVEN.

In the Eye of Heaven is really the story of a tournament knight. It starts with our hero, Durand, as a young man who's just thrown away fourteen years of his life training for a future he'll never have: a quiet life as lord of a few plowmen. He finds himself kicked out and wandering the roads in a time when winter is freezing the ditches and the wilds are full of spirits.

Durand's fight to carve out a place for himself happens against a backdrop of civil war and unrest. And he crashes right into the whole mess from the very start. There's been war on the borders -- and whispering around the throne has the whole kingdom on edge. Worse, the land itself shudders along with its people. There are signs in the Heavens and long-banished spirits stirring in the wastelands.

By the end of this first novel, Durand finds himself drawn right into the heart of the fight for power. And, though he's a decent man, his every step snarls him in knots of betrayal that test him, heart and soul.

- What author makes you shake your head in admiration?

Lately, I have really enjoyed the work of writers like Patrick O'Brian and Steven Pressfield. Although they are both writers of historical fiction, each is capable of snatching the reader up and carrying him off to another world every bit as real and unpredictable as the one in which we live. O'Brian, especially, leaves me sitting with my jaw in my hands. The man is a master of his material and never cuts his reader an inch of slack. If a pair of sailors are talking, they never wink to the reader and explain the knots. It's a real magic trick that he doesn't leave the reader behind.

- You have an unbelievable eye for details. Where those that knowledge of the Middle Ages comes from?

I probably got hooked on the medieval when my mum read me bedtime stories. (We had a few thick very thick books with taped bindings that were a generation older than I was). Since then, I've looted libraries and bookstores for more. And, when I could afford it, traveled. By now, I'm sure I've climbed around a hundred old forts, tombs, and stone circles -- and some can really conjure up a sense of another place and time.

This last summer, my wife and I drove around northern Scotland. There was a day when we climbed towering hill with hawks turning and swooping over our heads only to clamber down a neolithic tomb. These things are still out there. How can you help but tell!

- Steven Erikson told me that your debut novel went through a number of versions. What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write IN THE EYE OF HEAVEN in the first place?

In the Eye of Heaven began like a mystery, I suppose: at the end. I wrote a short story quite a long time ago starring an ageing knight who felt that he was in the wrong fairy tale. Scarred and stooped and grizzled, he went off to rescue a duke's daughter in return for half her father's lands. She'd been snatched by some ogre from the mountains -- and our reluctant hero wasn't sure she'd be happy for the rescue.

That may still be the end -- or nearly.

- Given the choice, would you take a New York Times bestseller, or a World Fantasy Award? Why, exactly?

A long time ago a writer friend of mine told me that I should start selling out. I've never been entirely sure that I wasn't -- or that I knew how. When I'm working on a story, I can only leave in what I can stand. I can only smile at what makes me smile. If I was hunting bestsellers, I'm sure I'd never get one. If I went prowling for awards, God knows what I'd wind up with.

- Honestly, do you believe that the fantasy genre will ever come to be recognized as veritable literature? Truth be told, in my opinion there has never been this many good books/series as we have right now, and yet there is still very little respect (not to say none) associated with the genre.

I have spent time defending fantasy. Mozart and Shakespeare had a good line in medieval fantasy, after all. Still, I find that fighting about the whole thing doesn't gain a person very much. Some readers have very little time for anything that steps away from realism: the gnomes, the starships, the magic swords. For many people, these things are packed away with the old toys when they're trying to appear grown up. Hopefully, good writing (and maybe a few good movies) will draw readers back. And, personally, I can think of no better place to wrestle with demons than a good fantasy.

- Will there be a promo tour this spring? If so, what cities are currently on the itinerary?

My first little promotional tour is to my home town: Winnipeg. The Canadian distributor is flying me to Winnipeg. They've arranged some interviews (including a spot on CBC radio and my first bit of TV), and it should be a good chance to see old friends and breathe the clear, prairie air.

- Any foreign sales to report thus far?

So far, the Germans and the Russians have bought the rights to publish In the Eye of Heaven in Europe. It's entirely possible that more offers will come to the table as the book rolls out.

- What extensive research did the writing of the IN THE EYE OF HEAVEN entail?

I read books of folklore and social history all the time. There is always a stack of the things on every flat surface wherever I've been. (You can't imagine). And there's nothing like getting out to see the real thing. I like little better than finding lost nooks and crannies in an old castle I read about long ago.

But the search gets sillier. Once upon a time, a friend of mine was taking a course in the Canadian novel. He showed me a novel written about the First World War. While the author, title and plot have all escaped me, I still have good notes on what it was like to live with lice crunching in the seams of your uniform. And I had much the same reaction to Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes. First hand accounts of fleas! Magic!

Oh. And a good book of battlefield archeology is important if you're going to know which bones to break.

- What made you choose to write an epic fantasy? Were there any perceived conventions you wanted to twist or break?

Like so many, I started my love affair with fantasy reading Tolkien. To me, that's the genre I think of when I get to work. But I can't write like that man. I'm from a different time and a different nation. I suppose it's all about what makes a person cringe and what makes him smile. I love thickets full of clammy devils and the heartstopping thrill of medieval dentistry. But I flinch at an elf who's a dab hand with a longbow. Conventions and cliches: it's all in the smiles and cringes.

Many thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions. I wish you continued success with your writing career and best of luck with the upcoming release of IN THE EYE OF HEAVEN.

Thanks for giving me a chance to say hello!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 28th)

In hardcover:

Timothy Zahn's Outbound Flight is down seven positions to end its 8th week on the bestseller list at number 34.

Nothing to report in paperback. . .

Win a complete set of Tracy and Laura Hickman's THE BRONZE CANTICLES

Hi guys!

The good people at Time Warner Books have accepted to support yet another contest!:-) This time for 5 complete sets of The Bronze Canticles trilogy by Tracy and Laura Hickman. Which means that five lucky winners will get their hands on Mystic Warrior, Mystic Quest and Mystic Empire, all signed by the authors! All you have to do is register. And the winners will get their prize delivered right to their door!;-)

For more information on the books: Canada, USA, Europe.

The rules are the same as usual. I have admit that I'm perplexed by the fact that a vast number of people are unable to follow what I consider to be terribly simple rules. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(anti-spam) with the header "MYSTIC." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy. Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

P. S. By the way, Time Warner Books have just confirmed that they will hook me up with three signed copies of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Scion for an upcoming contest which will be held in May. Stay tuned!

Octavia Butler Memorial Scholarship

Here is the official press release:


New York, NY – March 21, 2006 – Warner Books, Seven Stories Press, Beacon Press, The Carl Brandon Society, Writers House, and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame announced today the creation of The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund in honor of the internationally acclaimed fiction writer, who passed away last month.

The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund will enable writers of color to attend one of the Clarion writing workshops where Ms. Butler got her start. It has been established to honor and affirm her legacy by providing the same opportunity and experience Ms. Butler had to future generations of emerging writers of color. In addition to her stint as a student at the original Clarion Writers Workshop in Pennsylvania in 1970, Ms. Butler taught several sessions for Clarion West in Seattle, Washington, and Clarion in East Lansing, Michigan, giving generously of her time to a cause she believed in.

On hearing about the scholarship, Walter Mosley commented, “Octavia Butler has been a beacon for thousands of us. She carved out a place in the darkness and made a berth where there was none. This award will continue her legacy making sure that others will find their way to harbor.”

The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund will be administered by The Carl Brandon Society. The first scholarship will be awarded in 2007. Please send your tax deductible contributions made payable to “The Carl Brandon Society” and note that it is for “The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund.” The Carl Brandon Society’s address is P.O. Box 23336, Seattle, WA, 98102. Visit for more information on how to contribute.

“Octavia's death only a few months after her novel's publication was an unexpected blow, forcing us to weep about what we had lost, the unwritten dreams that might have flowed from this fine writer's pen….Octavia left us with Fledgling, one last piece of her heart and soul.”
—Tananarive Due, American Book Award recipient, author of Joplin's Ghost

“She was sweet, and kind, and generous, and brilliant. And now she is gone. Travel well, my friend. Rest deeply.” ― Steven Barnes, author of Lion’s Blood
Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006) was the first black woman to come to international prominence as a science fiction writer. Incorporating powerful, spare language and rich, well-developed characters, her work tackled race, gender, religion, poverty, power, politics, and science in a way that touched readers of all backgrounds. Butler was a towering figure in life and in her art and the world noticed. A critical force, she received numerous awards, including a MacArthur “genius” grant, both the Hugo and Nebula awards, the Langston Hughes Medal, and a PEN Lifetime Achievement award.

The Bonehunters going back to print

Yes, that's right, folks!

Transworld has just emailed me that Steven Erikson's The Bonehunters will go back to print, only 3 weeks after its initial publication date.

Way to go, Steven!;-) Perhaps they'll send you to Montreal as part of your promo tour. . .

In the Eye of Heaven

I first heard of David Keck's debut from a publicist at H. B. Fenn (Tor Books' Canadian distributor) last fall. She was asking me if I'd consider reviewing In the Eye of Heaven. And since I always make it a point to support Canadian talent, I agreed. And when Steven Erikson mentioned it in both our interviews this winter, my curiosity was piqued.

In the Eye of Heaven will be released in just a few weeks, so I figured the timing was perfect to read it now. For more information on the book: Canada, USA, Europe. My objective was to get a book review online before the novel hit the shelves of bookstores everywhere.

Having just finished reading it, I find it hard to explain how the book made me feel. It's different from what's out there. There is no question about that fact. Perhaps too different, to tell the truth.

The worlbuilding is a cut above what is currently the norm on the market nowadays. And although this novel only lets us catch a few glimpses, it doesn't take an astute reader to realize that the world of Errest shines by its authenticity.

David Keck's rendering of the minutiae of medieval life is nothing short of brilliant. Indeed, I feel that only Katherine Kurtz might surpass him in that aspect. Yet, no matter how knowledgeable the author is, I fear that this is a facet of the tale which the "casual" reader won't even appreciate.

Quality prose and good dialogues abound throughout the book. Which is always a good thing.

The book's main problem lies in its pace. Very slow at the best of times, this might put off some readers. Especially the middle portion of In the Eye of Heaven, when the rhythm becomes sluggish for a good 200 pages. Which is too bad, for the novel had an interesting beginning and I was eager to learn more. But the slow pace prevented me from ever getting truly drawn into the story.

The characterizations are also a factor. We meet the main character, Durand, on page 1. Yet at the end of the book, after more than 400 pages, I still don't know much more about him than at the end of the first chapter. And the same thing goes for the rest of the cast. Understandably, In the Eye of Heaven is the introduction to a larger tale (an honest to God trilogy, according to Keck!). Still, I don't think I've ever read a fantasy book in which we learn so little about the characters.

Some of the storylines forming the backdrop of this novel appeared quite interesting. Unfortunately, most remain in the background and will probably play a larger role in the sequels. There is no doubt in my mind that Keck controls his tale with aplomb and assurance. But for some reason, something's missing to catch hold of the reader's imagination. We don't really know what's going on and where the author is taking us with these storylines. The ending, while providing resolution to one plotline, does little else.

In the Eye of Heaven is a solid effort. I'm curious to see what other readers/reviewers will think about it.

The final verdict: 7/10

Memories of Ice

I've just finished reading the third volume of A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. And I'm left utterly speechless. Memories of Ice in an undeniable masterpiece. After reading fantasy novels for well nigh two decades, I can't believe that I can still be awed to such a degree by an author's work.

Steven Erikson set the bar rather high with the first two volumes, Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates. Yet somehow, the author found a way to outdo himself with this new installment. Without the shadow of a doubt, Memories of Ice is one of the best books I have ever read.

Epic in scope and vision since the very beginning, this addition brings even more depth to a series that is rapidly growing into a body of works that stands at the front of the pack. In worldbuilding and depth, I now believe that Erikson is without equals.

The characterizations are of the first order. Key revelations about Silverfox, Whiskeyjack, Quick Ben, Paran, and many others mark the return of fully realized characters. It's with immense pleasure that we return to the continent of Genabackis, even if what took place in Seven Cities was incredible. This book starts some time after Gardens of the Moon ended. Hence, it marks the return of favorites such as Anomander Rake, Onos T'oolan, Kruppe, and the Bridgeburners. But we are also introduced to a vast array of new characters that breathe new life into the tale. It demonstrates just how talented Erikson has become in that department. Special mention goes out to the Bridgeburners -- the best military outfit in the fantasy genre's history.

Weighing in at nearly 1200 pages, this is a big novel. And that size may daunt some potential readers. Yet the pace never slows down and there is not a single dull moment within its pages.

The myriad storylines weave an ever-growing tapestry which shows the potential of being the best fantasy series ever written. And even better, in Memories of Ice Steven Erikson's saga reaches an emotional and spiritual level that is rarely encountered in works of fiction. Moreover, the author does it all with a grace that left me baffled.

The battle of Coral will likely remain one of the most impressive armed conflicts to ever grace the pages of a novel. Yes, the action scenes are great. But it's during that gruesome conflict and its terrible aftermath that Erikson truly unveils these emotional and spiritual layers which make Memories of Ice such a special reading experience.

To conclude, a bold claim, if I may: If you are not reading A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, you are missing out on what is possibly the most ambitious fantasy series to ever see the light. As for me, chalk me up for the Malazan Reading Cult!;-)

The final verdict: 10/10

For more information on Memories of Ice: Canada, USA, Europe

Robert Jordan is ill

In case you did not know. This is a letter Jordan sent to Locus Magazine, as well as his latest post on his blog:

Dear Locus,

I have been diagnosed with amyloidosis. That is a rare blood disease which affects only 8 people out of a million each year, and those 8 per million are divided among 22 distinct forms of amyloidosis. They are distinct enough that while some have no treatment at all, for the others, the treatment that works on one will have no effect whatsoever on any of the rest. An amyloid is a misshapen or misfolded protein that can be produced by various parts of the body and which may deposit in other parts of the body (nerves or organs) with varying effects. (As a small oddity, amyloids are associated with a wide list of diseases ranging from carpal tunnel syndrome to Alzheimer's. There's no current evidence of cause and effect, and none of these is considered any form of amyloidosis, but the amyloids are always there. So it is entirely possible that research on amyloids may one day lead to cures for Alzheimer's and the Lord knows what else. I've offered to be a literary poster boy for the Mayo Amyloidosis Program, and the May PR Department, at least, seems very interested. Plus, I've discovered a number of fans in various positions at the clinic, so maybe they'll help out.)

Now in my case, what I have is primary amyloidosis with cardiomyapathy. That means that some (only about 5% at present) of my bone marrow is producing amyloids which are depositing in the wall of my heart, causing it to thicken and stiffen. Untreated, it would eventually make my heart unable to function any longer and I would have a median life expectancy of one year from diagnosis. Fortunately, I am set up for treatment, which expands my median life expectancy to four years. This does NOT mean I have four years to live. For those who've forgotten their freshman or pre-freshman (high school or junior high) math, a median means half the numbers fall above that value and half fall below. It is NOT an average. In any case, I intend to live considerably longer than that.

Everybody knows or has heard of someone who was told they had five years to live, only that was twenty years ago and here they guy is, still around and kicking. I mean to beat him. I sat down and figured out how long it would take me to write all of the books I currently have in mind, without adding anything new and without trying rush anything. The figure I came up with was thirty years. Now, I'm fifty-seven, so anyone my age hoping for another thirty years is asking for a fair bit, but I don't care. That is my minimum goal. I am going to finish those books, all of them, and that is that. My treatment starts in about 2 weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where they have seen and treated more cases like mine than anywhere else in the US. Basically, it boils down to this. They will harvest a good quantity of my bone marrow stem cells from my blood. These aren't the stem cells that have Bush and Cheney in a swivet; they can only grow into bone marrow, and only into my bone marrow at that. Then will follow two days of intense chemotherapy to kill off all of my bone marrow, since there is no way at present to target just the misbehaving 5%. Once this is done, they will re-implant my bmsc to begin rebuilding my bone marrow and immune system, which will of course go south with the bone marrow. Depending on how long it takes me to recuperate sufficiently, 6 to 8 weeks after checking in, I can come home. I will have a fifty-fifty chance of some good result (25% chance of remission; 25% chance of some reduction in amyloid production), a 35-40% chance of no result, and a 10-15% chance of fatality. Believe me, that's a Hell of a lot better than staring down the barrel of a one-year median. If I get less than full remission, my doctor already, she says, has several therapies in mind, though I suspect we will heading into experimental territory. If that is where this takes me, however, so be it. I have thirty more years worth of books to write even if I can keep from thinking of any more, and I don't intend to let this thing get in my way.

Jim Rigney/Robert Jordan

From Jordan's blog:

Well, guys, the letter in Locus is indeed from me. I had hoped to be a little more focused with this and get a post up here before anything came out in Locus, or anywhere else public, so you would get it first, but I flat forgot that Charles has his on-line version of Locus now, too. Sorry about that.Don’t get too upset, guys. Worse comes to worst, I will finish A Memory of Light, so the main story arc, at least, will be completed. And frankly, as I said, I intend to beat this thing. Anything can be beaten the right attitude, and my attitude is, I have too many books to write yet for me to just lie down. Don’t have time for it. Besides, I promised Harriet I’d be around for our 50th, and that means another 25 years from this month right there. Can’t break a promise to Harriet, now can I?

I had intended to go on with a few answers to questions when I made this post (I see some interesting ones), but that will have to wait, I’m afraid. I have a few other things to get done first. Maybe I’ll be able to get that up this afternoon or tomorrow. No promises, though.Before I go to Mayo, though, I promise. And updates from the Mayo as I can manage.Oh, yes. When the hair goes, with the chemo — as it is very likely to do — I’ll post some before and after shots, just so people showing up in Seattle and Anchorage won’t think we’ve run in a ringer. Yes, I plan to keeping those signings in late June. The chemo and recuperation should be finished by mid-to-late May, so I can make it. Hey, there will be big salmon running in Alaska at that time, and I never passed up a chance at big fish in my life.Again, sorry that you got the news in such a raggedy fashion. I really did mean to handle things more smoothly.

Take care, guys. Until the next time.

All my best,


Win a free copy of Naomi Novik's HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON

Hi guys!

The good people at Del Rey Books (Random House) were kind enough to accept to support this new contest. As you know, I really enjoyed Novik's debut novel, His Majesty's Dragon. And I can't wait to read the sequels. For more information on this novel: Canada, USA, Europe. There are a couple of copies up for grabs, so go for it!;-)

The rules are the same as usual. I have admit that I'm perplexed by the fact that a vast number of people are unable to follow what I consider to be terribly simple rules. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "NOVIK." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy. Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 21st)

In hardcover:

Timothy Zahn's Outbound Flight drops down eight positions, ending its seventh week on the NYT list at number 27. For more information on the novel: Canada, USA, Europe.

Peter F. Hamilton's Judas Unchained is down 10 spots, finishing its second week on the bestseller list at number 30. For more information on the novel: Canada, USA, Europe.

Nothing to report in paperback. . .


Hi guys!

Earlier this year, I was the first person to review this book. Now, with only a few days before its official release, more book reviews are seeing the light.

Rob from has just posted his own review of the novel. Read it here.

Rob has also asked me to participate to an interview with David Forbes. You can find the Q&A here.

For more info on The Amber Wizard: Canada, USA.

Feist Contest Winner

Hi guys!

Just wanted to let you know that the name of the lucky winner has been drawn. This person will receive a copy of Feist's Flight of the Nighthawks. Many thanks again to the good people at HarperCollins. Without their support, there would be no such contests.

The winner is: Jason Waltz, from Milwaukee, USA.

Stay tuned for more!;-)

Sarah Ash Interview

I have helped the good people at with their Sarah Ash interview. If anyone is interested, the Q&A can be found here

The link to the English version can be found at the bottom of that page. Sarah Ash is a very nice woman, and the interview is interesting. Check it out!

Another interview with Robin Hobb

Hi guys!

Someone just brought this to my attention (Merci Serpent Blanc!). There is a new Robin Hobb interview out there, in both French and English. You can find it here

There is a link in the first paragraph that will take you to the English version. . .


The new issue of Gryphonwood is out!

Hi there!

Just wanted to let you know that the online issue of Gryphonwood can be perused at


This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March14th)

In hardcover:

Timothy Zahn's Outbound Flight is down seven positions, ending its sixth week on the NYT list at number 19.

Peter F. Hamilton's Judas Unchained debuts at number 20.

Mercedes Lackey's One Good Knight debuts at number 27.

Nothing to report in paperback. . .

News Update

Hi there!

Just wanted to fill you guys in with what is coming up in the next few weeks. At first, it didn't seem as though I had a lot on my plate. But when you stop and think for a second, there is more than I initially believed.

Book Reviews:

I will continue to savor Steven Erikson's Malazan books. I'm more than halfway through Memories of Ice, and I'm loving it so far! But since my schedule leaves me with very little time to re-read novels, the fact that this is an "ongoing" series means that I have to take notes of everything that's going on, chapter by chapter. Gardens of the Moon required 23 pages of handwritten notes, and Deadhouse Gates 27 pages. I already have well over 20 pages of notes taken for Memories of Ice.

At Erikson's recommendation, I will be starting David Keck's In the Eye of Heaven this weekend. The novel will be released next month, and Tor Books were nice enough to hook me up with an ARC.

I will also finish the Temeraire trilogy by Naomi Novik. Random House provided some bound galleys, and I'm eager to discover what happens next. Hence, you can expect book reviews of both Throne of Jade and Black Powder War in the coming weeks.

Another anticipated debut is Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora. This novel will be released in June, and Bantam Dell have sent me a copy. I'm very curious about this one, what with all the advance praise it has already garnered.

Other than that, I will have to give Raymond E. Feist's Exile's Return a shot, if only to complete the series. Flight of the Nighthawks is on its way, so I may read that one soon afterward.

I also have Crystal Rain by Tobias S. Buckell sitting on my shelves, waiting for my attention. It looks interesting, so I may give it a go.


Like the rest of you, I'm eagerly awaiting George R. R. Martin's answers to the interview questions! This should make for a fascinating Q&A.

Rob and I have joined forces to interview David Forbes, and I'll post a link as soon as the Q&A becomes available at

Later this spring, I will have the opportunity to interview Scott Lynch. But that will likely come after I've read his book. The same thing goes for David Keck. I'm also trying to put together an interview with both Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

I have made requests for interviews with these people, but I'm still waiting for a confirmation: Stephen R. Donaldson, Robert Jordan, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and Tom Doherty (Tor Books' president).


Well, there are two of them running at the moment. The GRRM contest is by far the most popular ever! Remember that you still have ample time to register to both the Feist and the Martin contests.

Two other contests have already been confirmed. The first one will be for Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Scion. And the second one will be for Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora. I can also tell you that there should be a signed copy of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn available as well.

I have a few other possibilities cooking up, but I'll let you know as they become realities!;-)

As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts with me. Don't be shy! If you have any recommendations, feel free to let me know.

Have a good one,


Guy Gavriel Kay's new manuscript is done!

Kay himself announced the good news on! Now that is something to look forward to! It appears that the new novel will be out in early 2007.

So the wait begins. . .

His Majesty's Dragon / Temeraire

I have just finished reading Naomi Novik's Temeraire/His Majesty's Dragon. With its imminent North American release, the hype surrounding this novel continues to grow. Hype is a wonderful thing, providing exposure to books and series. Yet too much hype is never beneficial. Indeed, if expectations are too high, readers are often left wanting.

So does His Majesty's Dragon live up to the hype? It certainly does! And then some!

In this very auspicious debut, Naomi Novik has found a new twist to the eternal dragon story. And she did it with style! Although expectations were high, His Majesty's Dragon was a terrific joyride! Honestly, I was impressed with the author and her creation. In a market where dark and gritty fantasy epics are the norm, Novik has brought some fun back into the genre.

Fear not, this is not your typical alternate history novel. Novik utilizes the Napoleonic Wars as a backdrop, true. But solely to set the tone, to provide the familiar environment. Historical figures such as Nelson and Napoléon are, of course, part of this story. Yet they remain in the background or play minor roles in the greater scheme of things. Some would say that there is very little worldbuilding involved, but I disagree. The manner with which the author has integrated the dragons into our own world is brilliant. Initially, I was afraid that I would have a hard time "buying" this premise. But Naomi Novik's narrative rapidly sucks you in, and I soon found myself turning those pages, eager to learn more.

Weighing in at 342 pages, His Majesty's Dragon is a relatively short novel. Novik sets a brisk pace, and you may find yourself going through this book in just a few sittings. But don't let its size deter you. There is not a dull moment in this book, which makes for a very pleasant read.

The characterizations revolve around an unlikely pair: Captain Will Laurence and the dragon Temeraire. Both of them are well realized and share a very interesting relationship. The interaction between them and the bonds of friendship they forge lie at the heart of the tale. Novik has injected new life in our perception in regards to dragons. The other characters and dragons are not as fully drawn, but this will undoubtedly change in the upcoming sequels.

His Majesty's Dragon is fun and unmistakably original. Moreover, the fact that it's accessible to readers of all ages -- newcomers to the genre and aficionados alike -- makes this book a little gem worth discovering.

Will people be talking about Novik's Temeraire a decade from now? Perhaps. . . But one thing is for certain: His Majesty's Dragon will make a lot of noise in 2006!

And the good people at Random House have been kind enough to send me bound galleys of the next two volumes in the trilogy. Which means that I won't have to wait that long to read about Temeraire's next adventures! Ah, the perks of being a book reviewer. . .:-)

Don't expect this novel to challenge you the way works by R. Scott Bakker, Steven Erikson or Kim Stanley Robinson would. This is pure, unadulterated fun! And as such, I think that Naomi Novik provides a much-needed breath of fresh air in a genre which has grown rather dark and violent. Not that I don't enjoy such books/series, but His Majesty's Dragon is a welcome change from that trend.

The final verdict: 8/10

Win a free copy of Raymond E. Feist's FLIGHT OF THE NIGHTHAWKS

Hey there!

HarperCollins have just given me the "go ahead" to proceed with yet another contest!:-) This time, the prize is a hardcover copy of the US edition of Feist's Flight of the Nighthawks. The book is scheduled to be released on March 29th. Hence, this contest will run for about two weeks, so that the name of the lucky winner will be announced prior to the novel hitting the shelves of bookstores nationwide.

The rules are the same as usual. I have admit that I'm perplexed by the fact that a vast number of people are unable to follow what I consider to be terribly simple rules. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "FEIST." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy. Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted. Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Many thanks again to HaperCollins for their support! And good luck to all the participants!;-)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 7th)

In hardcover:

Timothy Zahn's Outbound Flight is down one position, finishing its fourth week on the NYT list at number 12.

After 19 weeks on the charts, Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams finds a way to remain on the bestseller list, dropping two spots and ending the week at number 30.

In paperback:

Stephen King's The Wolves of Calla is down 5 positions, finishing its fifth week at number 34.

Additonal goodies for the George R. R. Martin contest!

The good people at HarperCollins UK (Voyager) have made a pledge of two hardback first edition copies of A Feast for Crows, both of them signed by GRRM. Even if the books were not signed, they'd still be a treat, for the first edition sold out in the span of two weeks.

Which means that we will now have three different winners. One big winner and two runners-up. And if you have already registered, you don't have to do so again. Every entry will give you the opportunity to win all 3 prizes!;-)

Good luck to you all!:-)

Contest Winners!

I have drawn the names of the lucky winners for both the David Forbes and the David Eddings contests.:-) Once again, I want to take this opportunity to thank all the participants. And many thanks go to both HarperCollins and Time Warner Books for their support. Without them, there would be no such contests.

So the winner of a copy of David Forbes' The Amber Wizard is:

Mihir Wanchoo, from Houston, Texas, USA.

And the winners of signed copies of David Eddings' The Elder Gods and The Treasured One are:

Sanjay Srinivas, from Flower Mound, Texas, USA.
Michael Pettinato, from Amherst, New York, USA.

Thanks again and stay tuned for more contests!;-)

Paul Kearney Interview

Hi guys!

Since I've been hearing a lot of good things about this author, I thought it would be a good idea to ask him a few questions. He was kind enough to accept to do this interview, and the Q&A allows us to learn more about him and his books.


1- For the benefit of those of us new to your work, without giving too much away, give us a taste of the story that is THE SEA-BEGGARS series.

Well, in many ways it’s a very traditional story - I deliberately took a hoary old fantasy template to kick off the series, basically to see if I could liven it up a little. So you have the young hero of uncertain parentage, the magic sword, the mysterious patron and so on. But I then kicked the whole thing into left field, with the addition of ships and the sea. The story changes gear and milieu completely - especially in the second book, when things become a little more epic, and much, much darker. The books are essentially a narrative of one man’s life and times, with the proviso that he may not be a man at all, but something entirely different, and his times are about to transform beyond recognition.

2- What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?

I think I can handle descriptions of certain things with a measure of knowledge and honesty. When it comes to horses, and mountains, and to a certain degree, soldiering, I have had some useful experiences which I hope can make that sort of thing seem more authentic when I’m typing it down on a page. And also, I try to make characters as psychologically realistic as possible. Men are not all good, or all evil. They will compromise and agonize before doing both the right and the wrong things, and I hope - I hope! - That my stories reflect that.

3- What author makes you shake your head in admiration?

Many, many authors have me weeping and wailing in abject envy at their skills. Patrick O Brian is up at the top - for his sheer humanity, his humor, his massive erudition. And also because you quite simply want to read his books again and again - which is the best compliment you can pay any author. The man was a genius, and made it look easy.4- Are there any lesser known or new writers you'd like to tell us more about?

Rosemary Sutcliff was one of the favorites of my adolescence. A historical novelist, she wrote the finest treatment of the Arthurian legends I’ve ever read, Sword at Sunset, as well as a whole slew of other novels. When she writes about sub-Roman Britain, you can smell the woodsmoke. She beats people like Cornwell into a cocked hat, and yet has largely disappeared from print. Such are the vagaries of publishing.

5- Do you feel there is a difference between European fantasy fans and their North American counterparts?

I’m not well informed enough to comment, to be honest, not having met too many American fantasy fans. But I do know that my first US agent told me the Monarchies series was too sophisticated for a US audience - a pile of claptrap, obviously. If there is a difference (he volunteers, ill-informed, but jumping in with both feet), then I think the UK audience may be slightly more ready to give the quirkier ends of the fantasy spectrum a hearing. Having said that, I think both US and UK fans are far too obsessed with the necessity for multi-volume doorstoppers. I’ve talked to fantasy readers who choose their next book more or less by the thickness of its spine.

6- What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write THE SEA-BEGGARS in the first place?

The Monarchies series should have been the Sea Beggars. I wanted to write a nautical novel, purely about a long sea voyage, and that novel eventually appeared as Hawkwood’s Voyage. But to my surprise, I felt I had to flesh out the world Hawkwood was sailing from, and in doing so, I found its shenanigans more interesting than the voyage which was the point of the book in the first place. And also, Corfe appeared, and shouldered Hawkwood and his ships out of the limelight. The Monarchies became something entirely different to what I had first envisaged, but still I felt I wanted to write about the sea, and make an authentic seafaring novel out of a fantasy setting. So the Beggars series is really my second go at it.

7- Given the choice, would you take a New York Times bestseller, or a World Fantasy Award? Why, exactly?

I’ll take the bestseller - I’m not proud! As O Brian’s Jack Aubrey says passionately at one point; ‘I have always been poor, and I long to be rich!’ Every author wants to be read - more than good reviews or literary prizes, he want to see people buying his book - and dare I say it’s not just for the sake of filthy lucre - it’s for the satisfaction of communicating your own vision of the world to others. Sounds pretentious, but in essence I think it’s what lies at the heart of writing. The money, well that’s a nice little fringe benefit.

8- Honestly, do you believe that the fantasy genre will ever come to be recognized as veritable literature? Truth be told, in my opinion there has never been this many good books/series as we have right now, and yet there is still very little respect (not to say none) associated with the genre.

Yes and no. In some respects we’re halfway there already. Tolkien is literature, as is C S Lewis. I believe John Crowley is literature, and James Blaylock and Graham Joyce and half a dozen others. But I think the multi-volume series is what anchors fantasy firmly in the literary gutter (and I should know, since I’ve been churning it out with the best of them!)

No matter how good the series is - and I agree that there are some spanking good ones out there at the moment - it will still be dismissed as a Tolkien clone. I think the most inventive books in publishing are in the fantasy and sci-fi genres at the moment. Look at what is published these days - crime thrillers, chick-lit, celebrity tie-ins. And then there’s the Booker stuff, which in a way is as formulaic as anything else, since it’s written with such self-conscious cleverness. At least fantasy still has blood in its veins, enthusiasm, vigor - and that’s something to be thankful for. On the other hand, there is a hell of a lot of crap out there too… I doubt if that answers your question, but I’m in two minds about it myself. I read something like Deadhouse Gates, and am filled with optimism, then catch sight of Eragon, and realize there’s a long way to go.

9- Now that you are at Bantam, are there any plans to re-release your older novels? The Way to Babylon, A Different Kingdom and Riding the Unicorn are all well-regarded critically but have been out of print for many years, and the earlier Monarchies of God books also seem to be out of print as well. And do you still plan to bring out a revised edition of Ships from the West?

Gollancz at one point promised to bring out an omnibus edition of the Monarchies, but truth to tell, the logistics of getting all five books into one volume are pretty formidable, so they gave up. Bantam have expressed an interest in reissuing all five books (with the last one revised) as soon as the rights lapse from Gollancz, which will be another year or two. So they will see the light of day again. As far as my first three books go, I doubt they’ll be reprinted, which is a shame, as Kingdom is the best thing I’ve ever written. But business is business.

10- What impact would you say has the patronage of a well-known author like Steven Erikson on the sales and awareness of your books?

Certainly Steve’s enthusiasm for my books has given them a higher profile - especially in America. We were corresponding for a while a few years back, and I was moaning on about how unhappy I was at Gollancz, so he said I should give Simon Taylor at Bantam a call, and the rest is history. He’s a damn fine writer, not to mention a very decent chap.

11- How many books do you envisage in THE SEA-BEGGARS sequence? And do you hold to your statement in a previous interview that after it is done you may start writing 'mainstream' fiction, possibly instead of fantasy?

At present, the plan is for the series to go to four, but though they are a ‘series’, they are all stand-alone novels. Certainly, a reading of previous books in the series will be a help, but I intend that readers will be able to start with any one of the four.

As far as the future goes beyond Beggars, I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a proper historical novel, and also at a ‘magical realism’ type of story which I’ve been working on for years. So to be honest, I don’t know. There was a time when I intended to give up writing altogether, but I found I just couldn’t do it. It would be like losing a limb. So, for better or worse, I guess I’m destined to keep turning them out.

12- Your books are noted for their brevity, to the point of leaving the reader crying out for more. How do you avoid the pitfalls that seem to dog many writers of letting their stories get out of control and expand across thousands of pages?

It’s not a conscious decision. I think it’s mainly to do with the fact that my plotting is very rudimentary - I basically make it up as I go along. So as I’m writing, I’m as keen as the reader is to find out what happens next. For that reason, my books tend to run along at a fair old clip. There is also the fact that I hate ‘wordiness.’ There is no reason whatsoever to have info-dumps every few pages, or to linger lovingly on descriptions of ball-gowns, or even on the appearance of characters. If you cannot get across your intent, or paint a picture, in just a few sentences, then you have not got what you want to say clear in your head yet, and you should step away from the keyboard until you do. Or else write all the purple passages you want, but go back and prune them away afterwards. Stephen King once said that you should lose 10% of the wordcount with every draft, and I couldn’t agree more.

Again, many thanks for doing this interview. I wish you continued success in your writing career and best of luck for the release of your new novel this summer.

Malazan World Map


Adam (werthead on,, and a bunch of other message boards) has created a Malazan world map. At least according to the information contained in the books thus far, it is as accurate as he could make it. Curious, I emailed Steven Erikson to get his thoughts on this map. Here is the response I received:

Hi Patrick,

I perused the map and am quite impressed. It's pretty damned close. The continents are pretty much all the right place; the shape of a few are of course different but that's because they've not been visited in any of the novels. Korelri and Stratem are larger, for example; as is Assail. Genabackis needs to be angled slightly further south and up a notch or two in overall size. Lether is also larger (especially to the south of the empire proper, and Kolanse is also bigger). For all that, an exceptional bit of detective work: congrats to Adam!



Hence, this map is probably as "official" as we'll get before the release of the Malazan Encyclopedia. And you can see it here

Congrats to Adam for coming up with something so close to the real thing!;-)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (February 28th)

In hardcover:

Timothy Zahn's Outbound Flight is down 2 positions, ending its third week on the NYT list at number 11.

Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams somehow hangs in there still, climbing up one spot to finish its 18th week on the bestseller list at number 28.

In paperback:

Stephen King's The Wolves of Calla goes up 2 positions, ending its fourth week on the prestigious list at number 29.

R. Scott Bakker autographed books to win!

Hi guys!

Just realized that I forgot to let you know that there is a very cool contest under way. Jay and his friends at have a complete hardcover set of Bakker's The Prince of Nothing, all signed by the author!

I've registered for this one and so should you!;-)