This week's New York Times Bestsellers (April 26th)

In hardcover:

Patrick Rothfuss' The Wise Man's Fear maintains its position, ending the week at number 26. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches is down four spots, finishing the week at number 29. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Raymond E. Feist's A Kingdom Besieged debuts at number 30.

In paperback:

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones is up seven positions, ending the week at number 3.

Charlaine Harris' Dead in the Family maintains its position, finishing the week at number 8.

George R. R. Martin's A Clash of Kings is up eight spots, finishing the week at number 22.

George R. R. Martin's A Storms of Swords returns at number 30.

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones returns at number 32 (trade paperback).

Well, it looks as though the Charlaine Harris effect is now beginning for GRRM. . .

Game of Thrones: Another Episode 3 Preview

More Jon = More fun!

New Joe Abercrombie Interview

As promised, here is my latest Q&A with Joe Abercrombie! I teamed up with Ken ( for this interview, and again it was a good collaboration, if I may say so myself!

If you haven't read, Abercrombie's latest, The Heroes (Canada, USA, Europe), what are you waiting for!?!


- Now that THE HEROES has been out for a while on both sides of the Atlantic, are you pleased with the way the book has been received thus far?

I’m never pleased. I always want more. Like Sauron.

- With THE HEROES making noise on the Sunday Times' bestseller list, do you think there will now be added pressure as far as your future novels are concerned? Readers will likely have higher expectations with each new work you publish. Do you ever think about that, or about the fact that publishers now expect you to move a certain amount of units every time something with your name on it hits the shelves?

There’s always pressure. To produce a new book in good time. To make it better than the last from your own point of view, from that of the readers, the critics, the publisher. To sell more copies. But obviously one would much rather have the pressure of, “your last book did great, with this one we need to do even better,” than, “your last book was a disaster, if the next one doesn’t do better we’re going to drop you and you’ll have to get a real job.” You’re always conscious that only a small minority of published writers are able to earn their living out of it, and even if you’ve earned a place among those lucky few it doesn’t have to be forever. A couple of bad books and you’re out of favour again. It can be a tough way to make a living, in that sense. Not road-crew tough, but there’s always pressure.

- Several maps in THE HEROES. What made you and Simon Spanton change your minds? The lack of maps had sort of become a running gag of sorts with you and your publisher.

I’m not sure that I have changed my mind in particular, I’ve always had mixed feelings about maps. I love a good map – one that’s useful, and appropriate, and with artistic quality that adds to the whole feel of the book. I hate a bad one – a careless scrawl adding nothing of style or content and thrown in there just because there’s a feeling a fantasy book should have one. With the First Law books we felt a map wasn’t totally necessary. The Heroes is the story of a single battle, tightly focused on one small area of ground and with the terrain and relative positions of the units being important and otherwise pretty hard to follow. I also felt there was the opportunity to use maps in a different way from just sitting mute on the fly leaf, with new ones showing the state of the battlefield at the start of each day. So they serve an important purpose in The Heroes, I think, and add to that feeling of it being an invented piece of military history, if you will...

- Given the grittiness and violence which characterize your novels, were you surprised by the fact that quite a few of your fans found the tale of revenge that was BEST SERVED COLD off-putting? Is there a fine line between going for the gritty approach and overdoing it?

I wouldn’t say I was surprised. The First Law was the thing I’d always wanted to write, and the ideas had been cooking slowly in my mind since childhood, in some cases. In a sense Best Served Cold was my difficult second novel – I had to come up with new ideas, new ways of writing on a schedule and that was pretty testing. There were two things I was particularly concerned about with that book. One was that it was much less self-consciously epic fantasy than the First Law had been, both in its plot and in the amount of fantastic elements. On the whole that didn’t really seem to bother people, though. The other was that I was pushing the “unsympatheticness” (if that’s a word) of the characters and the darkness and brutality of the action further even than I had with the First Law. Certainly I pushed it too far for some, and no doubt some readers found it hard to relate to the characters. Hard to find anyone to root for. And that’s not a good thing in a character-centred book, really, is it?

So yes, there are fine lines between gritty and too gritty, violent and too violent, interestingly dark and utterly repulsive, but those lines are in different places for every reader. There are people who haven’t found the characters appealing in Best Served Cold, but there are also plenty of people for whom it’s their favourite book of mine. That’s one thing I take a kind of pride in, actually - I haven’t really observed a clear consensus on which is my best book or my worst. Hopefully that shows that I’m trying out a slightly different variation on the recipe each time around.

- Your online presence (on your own website and on a number of SFF message boards) have contributed to your success and popularity. So much so that LAST ARGUMENT OF KINGS was an Top 10 bestseller, while the book didn't do particularly well at brick-and-mortar bookstores. Has that changed at all? And if so, what was done by you and your publishers to give you more exposure in "non-online" venues?

Didn’t do well at brick-and-mortar bookstores, how very dare you, sir, it took the publishing world by storm. Certainly the books did better with online retailers to begin with, but I think that’s probably just part of the natural development of an author, really, unless you’re one of the rare few who comes out with a big fanfare and a lot of marketing and expectation (which can have its own downsides). People who read a great deal of fantasy are maybe more likely to be online looking for new things. It’s not necessarily easy to reach those people but it is possible with a website and a bit of online word of mouth. Bricks and mortar bookstores, and supermarkets even more so, generally need to see a good track record before they get behind things, and it can take a while to build up a wider readership.

With The Heroes it felt like a lot of things fell into place simultaneously – it got a lot of marketing and publicity support from my publisher, a lot of support from Amazon and Waterstones, who are the main brick and mortar store in the UK, and even a big push in Asda, a UK supermarket chain, which is nice to see because supermarkets don’t stock much fantasy and you can potentially sell a lot of books there to people you might otherwise never reach. Partly that was because of the time of year. Not a lot of big releases in January, so there are more resources to go around.

- You did a damn good job with your short story "The Fool Jobs" for the SWORDS & DARK MAGIC anthology. Are there any other short fiction plans for you in the near future?

It was damn good, wasn’t it? That’s very true. I wrote another short story linked to The Heroes which appeared in a Waterstones special edition in the UK, and I believe that’s going to be made more generally available in one format or another at some point. I’ve also written a short story involving one of the characters from my forthcoming book, which I hope will find its way into an anthology featuring a few other well-known (and better known) fantasy authors, but I won’t let the cat out of the bag.

- How do you see heroism in epic fantasy?

In my youth I saw an awful lot of it. Which is probably why I try to take a more cynical view these days...

- I know that you have already responded to Leo Grin's "The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists," so I don't want to re-open that can or worms. But considering what he, as well as other people who share his opinion, do you believe that there are some people out there who simply "don't get it?"

Since The Blade Itself was published I’ve seen pretty much every imaginable response to my books, many of them entirely contradictory, and that tends to steadily undermine your notions about there being some absolute truth “to get”. There’ll always be a range of opinion (if you’re lucky enough to have any opinion expressed at all) and as a writer you have to find a way to accept that and weigh the value of the diverse reactions you see. The aim shouldn’t necessarily be to please everyone with everything you do. That isn’t really possible, or even desirable.

The argument that western society is being dragged into the toilet through insidious attacks on the legacy of Tolkien by college-educated liberals with cynical fantasy as the weapon of choice? Honestly, that doesn’t seem to correspond to any of the observable facts of reality as I see them.

The less hyperbolic and politically charged argument that there’s too much cynicism in fantasy and where’s the heroism and the wonder gone? That’s totally valid, obviously, and equally obviously a matter of opinion. For me, there are still a lot of long-established writers, and honestly a fair few newer writers, still shifting an awful lot of units of relatively traditional fantasy. I don’t mean that as any kind of criticism, incidentally. People should read (and write) what they enjoy. But for a long time optimistic, heroic, relatively predictable visions were in the great commercial ascendant in epic fantasy. I see what’s happening now as being a healthy correction, drawing in new readers to a genre that was perhaps a little stale. If nothing else, it encourages those who’d rather see more optimistic, heroic visions to up their game and find new and more exciting ways of expressing those ideas. I look forward to seeing that happen. Maybe I’ll even take part. I wouldn’t want to become predictable for withering cynicism any more than for cloying optimism. I think what’s important is to have strong, fresh, exciting voices in the genre, not that they be voices of one particular kind or another.

- I have to admit that I’m really looking forward to your next novel. Please tell us everything you can about it at this time. I can’t help but imagine it as a Tarantino-inspired re-telling of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

It’s a Tarantino Good, Bad, Ugly, it’s a Guillermo del Toro Lonesome Dove, it’s an Ingmar Bergman The Searchers. It’s a fantasy western, basically, in the same way that Best Served Cold was a fantasy gangster revenge story and The Heroes is a fantasy war story. Again set in the world of the First Law, again a sort of standalone featuring some familiar characters alongside some new faces, hopefully combining the edgy yet humorous approach to fantasy for which I am known and widely despised with some outside influences. No sixguns, alas, but a lot of other western motifs. And maybe a mechanical dragon.

- Any tentative title and release date?

It has a working title, but I’ll keep that to myself for now. Sometimes if you make these things public they tend to take on a momentum of their own, and I’m still working out exactly what this book’s going to be. Release wise, it’s looking like summer/autumn 2012 and I’d very much hope to hit a date around then but, as usual, I reserve the right to miss it utterly. Especially with a new baby due in a few weeks...

- When you see generic blogger X apply the term gritty or subversive to your work, what is your reaction?

Generic Blogger X is actually a really good name for a genre blog, I’ll have to check their stuff out. My reaction whenever my books get talked about in pretty much any way is usually woot. The Grin article rather seems to prove the maxim that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, since I’ve never seen my books discussed so widely on the internet as they were in the wake of being pasted in that article, and for everyone decrying them as evil filth there were ten or twenty saying they were intrigued and would have to pick them up now. Subversive? I don’t honestly know how subversive I am, I see myself as working within a form, and there are a lot of aspects of my stuff that are very traditional, if a little twisted, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Gritty? Guilty as charged, probably, for all it’s getting to be a bit of an overused expression. There are worse things to be called than subversive and gritty...

- When Joe Abercrombie goes to the costume shop to get something to ‘look the part’, what does he get?

Sidetracked and ends up in the pub. Or possibly the video game shop.

- Anything you wish to share with your fans?

Their Money...


Anne Groell, GRRM's editor at Bantam Spectra, shows the enormous manuscript for A Dance With Dragons and reads a few snippets from it.

Quote of the Day

Innocent or guilty, a Lannister pays his debts.

- GEORGE R. R. MARTIN, A Feast for Crows (Canada, USA, Europe)

Trying to get through this one in a hurry, just in case I do get an early read of A Dance With Dragons (Canada, USA, Europe).

Could A DANCE WITH DRAGONS be done???

Looks like it!

Check out GRRM's Not a Blog.

Can't wait to find out how I'll be murdered in the book!!! =)

Game of Thrones: Episode 3 Preview

Ah, looks like the proverbial shit is about to hit the fan. . . =)

New Paul Kearney Interview

After reading Corvus (Canada, USA, Europe), I knew I wanted to have a chat with Paul Kearney so we could discuss this latest trilogy, the two recently reissued volumes comprising The Monarchies of God, Hawkwood and the Kings (Canada, USA, Europe) and Century of the Soldier (Canada, USA, Europe), as well as the author's future projects.

A big Kearney fan himself, Adam ( was my partner in crime for this Q&A!

Looks like there's a lot to look forward to!


- Paul, congratulations on your renewed success! The Monarchies of God is back in print, the Macht trilogy is almost complete and next year the Sea-Beggars series will finally be concluded after a lengthy delay. This would appear to be a turnaround from a few years back when you seemed on the verge of giving up writing. What are your views on the publishing business and writing now?

That it’s a crazy mixed up business! I’m also in negotiations at the moment (he touches wood) for the novelisation of a major TV franchise. I’m snowed under! The Ten Thousand seems to have reopened a lot of doors for me, and the Macht books are also selling amazingly well in France and (wonder of wonders) the US. Suffice to say, I have three books to hand in within the next fourteen months…

I give a lot of credit to both my old agents, John McLaughlin and Charlotte Bruton, and especially to my new one, John Jarrold, who is a bit of a Macht himself when it comes to battering away at publishers and editors. My editors at Solaris and Titan have been brilliant too. The business itself has changed out of all recognition since I first started out in it, but it’s still chock-full of good people.

- Between The Monarchies of God and the Macht trilogy, which series do you feel makes for the best entry point for readers not familiar with Paul Kearney? Why is that?

Probably the Monarchies, since I think it’s less dark and dense than the Macht books, and more of a ‘normal’ fantasy – i.e. it has magic, werewolves and a European-type milieu. The Macht books are, as I’ve said elsewhere, not fantasy at all, strictly speaking, but science fiction in the sword-and-planet sense of Robert E Howard or Burroughs.

- Speaking of The Monarchies of God, how has the new omnibus editions been received thus far?

Pretty darned well. In France they’re on their third edition, and my Spanish publisher is bringing out beautiful editions of the original five volumes. Like a lot of fantasy readers, I do get a visceral thrill at seeing those big fat-spined volumes on my shelf. Smaller fantasy books tend to get lost in between the Martin, Jordan and Erikson behemoths…

- CORVUS appears to have generated a positive buzz, which bodes well for the final volume of the series. How happy are you with how the way things turned out since signing with Solaris?

I couldn’t be happier. Solaris have been superb, both in their original incarnation when I was dealing with Mark Newton, and now in their Rebellion guise with Jon Oliver and David Moore. These guys believe in my books, and absolutely straightforward about their ambitions both for me and all my work – I really can’t wait to get stuck into the Sea Beggars again – it was one of my favourite series, and the thought of seeing the whole shebang under one cover has my mouth watering – never mind the readers, the author wants to get his greasy hands on it just as badly!

- Without giving anything away, what can you tell readers about the third installment, THE KINGS OF MORNING?

Well, for those who know their history, it is based on Alexander’s conquest of the Persian Empire – I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to state that. But it will move beyond that too, to what happens afterwards, and that will come straight out of left field. There will also be more information revealed about the origins of the Macht, and the Curse of God armour. It may in fact be too much for a single book…

- No reason was given for THE KINGS OF MORNING being pushed back to November, other than saying that it wasn't due to George R. R. Martin's A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. So what is the reason behind that delay?

There have been a few things happening in my family – health issues. For a while there, writing just had to be put aside.

- I seem to remember original talk about the Sea-Beggars being a four-book series, whilst it now seems to be being rounded off by just one more book. Was the four-book thing a mistake or will the third book now be much longer and incorporating more events than the first two?

The Sea Beggars are quite short books. I’m more used to the longer size of the Macht series now, and so I reckon on writing one long novel to end the series. So it could have been two short tomes, but I don’t want to drag it out – I’m taking it all the way to a conclusion in one big volume.

- Are there any plans for a separate release of STORM OF THE DEAD for those who already have the first two books? Or will it be available only in the omnibus?

Omnibus only I’m afraid. But just think what Solaris could do with that cover…

- How was it going back to Rol and the other characters after a long break writing about other characters and worlds?

Well, I haven’t started it yet! I intend to start the last Beggars book this autumn, and it’s due for delivery in May 2012. But as I say, I’m looking forward to it – I loved that tight-knit band of shipmates. Elias Creed and Gallico are two of my favourite characters. And Rowen of course…

- Basically every single novel you have written to date has garnered critical success. What is it about your style that has somehow prevented you from gaining a wider readership? Some have mentioned the brevity of your works. Do you feel that, in an era of doorstopper SFF books, this could be a factor?

I used to think so, and I still believe that there is in fantasy an absurd attachment to the Lord of the Rings syndrome, whereby a story is not worth reading unless it’s a thousand pages long. But since writing the Macht books, I’ve come to the reluctant conclusion that my style just doesn’t click with everybody. I am a very masculine writer I guess, and I like to bring a harsh realism to my worlds which can be off-putting to those who like their battles blood-free and their unicorns freshly groomed. I read a blogger’s review of Corvus which thought it was a disgusting book because it has rape in it – but for me, that is one of the inevitable consequences of warfare in primitive societies. And not so primitive – look at Bosnia, or Libya now. These things make me angry and disgusted myself, so I choose to channel that rage and disgust in my writing. I do not put these episodes in my book for some kind of prurient thrill, and in Corvus we do not actually see any explicit scenes of rape – what we do see are the consequences. I think it’s important to have that kind of honesty in the story, and I see no reason to apologise for it. If a reader wants fluffy dragons and wand-waving adolescents, let them go elsewhere. I don’t write for children.

- With the Macht books apparently done and your older material back in print, what's next in the way of new material? You've occasionally hinted that you'd like to write some military SF at some point, is that something that could be on the cards?

I have some ideas… But as I said earlier, I’m pretty much booked up for some time to come. I am working with the idea of writing something about the Eastern front in world war two (a hobby-horse of mine), with an occult slant – I call it The Werewolves of Stalingrad. Watch this space!

- With Solaris republishing your earlier works, is there any chance of us seeing your stand-alones back in print? To my mind, certainly A DIFFERENT KINGDOM at the very least deserves a much wider audience.

I would love that. My Spanish publisher wants to reprint Kingdom as soon as he has put out all five of the Monarchies books. I still think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written (and I was only 24 – sigh) I guess we’ll see how it goes – As long as people keep buying my books, there’s hope!

- Anything else you wish to share with your fans?

Yes - thanks for hanging in there with me.

You're Loving Game of Thrones on HBO. . .

. . . And you're thinking about reading George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and perhaps other books/series in a similar vein?

Since the first episode of Game of Thrones aired on HBO a little over a week ago, hundreds of newbies have ended up on the Hotlist to peruse past and present posts covering the TV series.

First of all, let me welcome you to my own little sandbox in the intrawebs! =) It's been pointed out on the Game of Thrones Facebook page and I can't emphasize the point enough: DO NOT visit the A Game of Thrones wikipedia page. It contains too many spoilers that will kill the story for you. Though there has only been two episodes so far, I'm pretty sure it has dawned upon you that this is not your usual fantasy series. George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire is filled with shocking and unexpected scenes and moments, and those sequences would lose most of their edge without that shock value. Jaime and Cersei getting their groove on and the sacrifice of Lady seem to have made an impression on viewers not familiar with the series. Well, let me just tell you that you guys ain't seen nothing yet!

Although I can't recommend reading the books enough, I would suggest you wait till the HBO series is over before doing so. That way, A Game of Thrones will not spoil it for you, and you'll have an unforgettable summer of reading ahead of you! Even better, the much-anticipated A Dance With Dragons should be released in July, just in the nick of time!

Meanwhile, should you want to read some contemporary fantasy works that readers new or more or less unfamiliar with the genre might enjoy, works that capture a bit of the essence that makes Game of Thrones so much fun to watch, here are a few suggestions that might scratch that itch:

The First Law by Joe Abercrombie

Here's the blurb for The Blade Itself:

Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught in one feud too many, he’s on the verge of becoming a dead barbarian – leaving nothing behind him but bad songs, dead friends, and a lot of happy enemies.

Nobleman, dashing officer, and paragon of selfishness, Captain Jezal dan Luthar has nothing more dangerous in mind than fleecing his friends at cards and dreaming of glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would like nothing better than to see Jezal come home in a box. But then Glokta hates everyone: cutting treason out of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendship. His latest trail of corpses may lead him right to the rotten heart of government, if he can stay alive long enough to follow it.

Enter the wizard, Bayaz. A bald old man with a terrible temper and a pathetic assistant, he could be the First of the Magi, he could be a spectacular fraud, but whatever he is, he's about to make the lives of Logen, Jezal, and Glotka a whole lot more difficult.

Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood. Unpredictable, compelling, wickedly funny, and packed with unforgettable characters, The Blade Itself is noir fantasy with a real cutting edge

The Godless World by Brain Ruckley

Here's the blurb for Winterbirth:

An uneasy truce exists between the thanes of the True Bloods.

Now, as another winter approaches, the armies of the Black Road march south, from their exile beyond the Vale of Stones. For some, war will bring a swift and violent death. Others will not hear the clash of swords or see the corpses strewn over the fields. They instead will see an opportunity to advance their own ambitions. But all, soon, will fall under the shadow that is descending.

For, while the storm of battle rages, one man is following a path that will awaken a terrible power in him – and his legacy will be written in blood

The Gentleman Bastard by Scott Lynch

Here's the blurb for The Lies of Locke Lamora:

In this stunning debut, author Scott Lynch delivers the wonderfully thrilling tale of an audacious criminal and his band of confidence tricksters. Set in a fantastic city pulsing with the lives of decadent nobles and daring thieves, here is a story of adventure, loyalty, and survival that is one part Robin Hood, one part Ocean’s Eleven, and entirely enthralling.…

An orphan’s life is harsh–and often short–in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains–a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected “family” of orphans–a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards. Under his tutelage, Locke grows to lead the Bastards, delightedly pulling off one outrageous confidence game after another. Soon he is infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and no wealthy noble is safe from his sting.

Passing themselves off as petty thieves, the brilliant Locke and his tightly knit band of light-fingered brothers have fooled even the criminal underworld’s most feared ruler, Capa Barsavi. But there is someone in the shadows more powerful–and more ambitious–than Locke has yet imagined.

Known as the Gray King, he is slowly killing Capa Barsavi’s most trusted men–and using Locke as a pawn in his plot to take control of Camorr’s underworld. With a bloody coup under way threatening to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the Gray King at his own brutal game–or die trying

The Macht trilogy by Paul Kearney

Here's the blurb for The Ten Thousand:

On the world of Kuf, the Macht are a mystery, a seldom-seen people of extraordinary ferocity and discipline whose prowess on the battlefield is the stuff of legend.

For centuries now, they have remained within the fastnesses of the Harukush Mountains. They have become little more than a rumour.

In the vast world beyond, the teeming races and peoples of Kuf have been united within the bounds of the Asurian Empire, a continent-spanning colossus. The Empire rules the known world, and is invincible. The Great King of Asuria can call up whole nations to the battlefield. His word is law across the face of the earth.

But now the Great King's brother means to take the throne by force, and in order to do so he has sought out the legend. He hires ten thousand mercenary warriors of the Macht, and leads them into the heart of the Empire.

This is their story

This should keep you out of trouble for a while. . .

As for Game of Thrones, stay tuned for the best is yet to come. You are about to embark on quite a journey. . .

Winter is coming. . .

Legacy of Kings

Okay, label me baffled. Thoroughly so. . .

To my uttermost dismay, C. S. Friedman's The Magister trilogy remains one of the genre's best-kept secrets. How the heck a quality series by the bestselling writer who brought us the fan-favorite The Coldfire trilogy could remain so underrated for the last couple of years, I think I'll never know.

And yet, for some reason, both Feast of Souls (Canada, USA,Europe) and Wings of Wrath (Canada, USA, Europe) flew so low under the radar that it appears that no one but a selected few have read these novels. Problem is, this is Celia S. Friedman writing at the top of her game. Indeed, the first two installments of series raised the bar to such heights that I felt that, should the final volume live up to my lofty expectations, we might soon refer to The Coldfire trilogy as the author's other fantasy series.

Question was, could Legacy of Kings possibly live up to the promise shown by its two predecessors? Well, let me just tell you that Friedman not only delivered, she hit this one right out of the park. Hands down, Legacy of Kings is definitely one of the best speculative fiction titles of the year! The author brings this series to a close with panache, demonstrating yet again that she deserves her place among the most talented -- and underestimated -- fantasy authors writing today.

Here's the blurb:

What will future minstrels sing of the days leading up to the final battle?

They will sing of the Souleaters with their stained-glass wings, who feasted upon the life-essence of mankind and brought down the First Age of Kings. And of the army of martyrs that gathered to fight them, led by the world's last surviving witches. By fire and faith they herded the great beasts into an arctic prison, where the incessant cold and long winter's darkness would rob them of strength, and hopefully of life. And the gods themselves struck the earth with great Spears, it was said, erecting a barrier born of their Wrath which would hold any surviving Souleaters prisoner until the end of time. For forty generations the Wrath held strong, so that the Second Age of Kings could thrive. But it was not truly a divine creation, merely a construct of witches, and when it finally faltered the Souleaters began their invasion.

They will sing of the Magisters, undying sorcerers who wielded a power that seemed without limit, and of how they were bound by their Law to the fates of mortal men. But no minstrel will sing of the secret that lay at the heart of that dark brotherhood, for no mortal man who learned the truth would be allowed to live. The Magisters fueled their sorcery with the life-essence of human consorts, offering up the death of innocents to assure their own immortality. Perhaps that practice was what corrupted their spirits, so that they became innately hostile to their own kind. . .or perhaps there was another cause. Colivar alone seemed to know the truth, but even his most ancient and determined rival Ramirus had not yet been able to pry that information out of him.

They will sing of Kamala, a red-headed child destined for poverty and abuse in the slums of Gansang, who defied the fates and became the first female to learn the art of true sorcery. But her accidental murder of Magister Raven broke the brotherhood's most sacred Law, and even her reclusive mentor Ethanus dared not give her shelter any longer. Forced to masquerade as a witch, she traveled the world in search of some knowledge or artifact that she might barter for her safety, so that she could bear the title of Magister openly and claim her proper place in the brotherhood of sorcerers.

They will sing of Danton Aurelius, who ruled the High Kingdom with an iron fist until the traitor Kostas brought him down. They will craft lamentations for the two young princes who died alongside their father, even as they celebrate the courage of Queen Gwynofar in avenging her husband's death. Alas, it was not to be the end of her trials. For when prophecy summoned her to Alkali to search for the Throne of Tears, an ancient artifact that would awaken the lyr bloodline to its full mystical potential, the gods demanded her unborn child in sacrifice, and later her beloved half-brother, Rhys.

They will sing of the Witch-Queen Siderea Aminestas, mistress of Magisters and consort to kings, whom the sorcerers abandoned when her usefulness ended. And of the Souleater who saved her life, at the cost of her human soul. Vengeance burned bright in her heart the day she fled Sankara on the back of her jewel-winged consort, seeking a land where she could plant the seeds of a new and terrible empire.

They will sing of Salvator, third son of Danton Aurelius, who set aside the vows of a Penitent monk to inherit his father's throne, rejecting the power and the protection of the Magisters in the name of his faith. Songs will be crafted to tell how he was tested by demons, doubt, and the Witch-Queen herself, even while the leaders of his Church argued over how he might best be manipulated to serve their political interests.

And last of all they will sing of the confrontation that was still to come, in which fate of the Second Age of Kings -- and all of mankind -- would be decided. And those who hear their songs will wonder whether a prince-turned-monk-turned-king could really save the world, when the god that he worshiped might have been the one who called for its destruction in the first place

As intriguing and rich in details as its predecessors, the worldbuilding aspect makes Legacy of Kings resound with depth. Hard to believe that Friedman could tie all the loose ends in a single book, but she does it with flair as she reveals how every single thread from the previous two volumes are all part of a grand tapestry of plotlines woven together. Secrets about the Souleaters, the Magisters and their origins, the lyr blood, the Wrath and those who live beyond, Colivar's past, Kamala's true nature, the Penitents, and many other unearthed truths are revealed as the story progresses, raising the bar higher and higher as the plot moves forward toward Friedman's most satisfying and rewarding finale to date.

The characterization is head and shoulders above what currently the norm in the genre these days. Legacy of Kings features a great balance between various POV characters, allowing the readers to follow unfolding events through the eyes and perceptions of a disparate groups of protagonists. I felt that the balance achieved in Wings of Wrath was close to perfection, yet that of Legacy of Kings is even better. Believe me when I say that it doesn't get much better than this! Hence, the narrative shifts through the POVs of Kamala, Colivar, Queen Gwynofar, Ramirus, Salvator, first Penitent king, and the Witch-Queen Siderea. Most of these characters were already well-defined, but Friedman outdid herself while fleshing them out even more in this final installment. The supporting cast is comprised of a number of secondary characters that nevertheless play an important role in the bigger scheme of things. I don't that there is a single scene I would have cut out from this novel.

C. S. Friedman has that damnable tendency to keep you begging for more, making many of her books true page-turners. With all the key elements established in Feast of Souls and Wings of Wrath, Legacy of Kings is the culmination of all those various storylines coming together at last. Tightly focused in terms of plot, Friedman's endgame might be her best paced novel yet. Events and revelations keep the story moving at a brisk pace, forcing you to devour chapters after chapters. Still, even though the rhythm is fluid from start to finish, a number of poignant moments manage to get to you when you least expect it.

This is likely C. S. Friedman's best work to date. And considering that this woman wrote the celebrated Coldfire trilogy, that's really saying something. But as far as worldbuilding, plot, characterization, and pace are concerned, The Magister trilogy is superior to the Coldfire trilogy. Indeed, her latest series is more ambitious and features a more tightly plotted overall story arc and an almost flawless execution throughout. I believe that the only thing that will always set The Coldfire trilogy apart from most of its peers is the relationship between Gerald Tarrant and Damien Vryce, two characters that will probably live on in our collective memories for years and years. Most authors will never create protagonists which will somehow manage to capture the imagination the way these two have. So it would be unfair to expect Friedman to somehow find a way to do it again. Hence, though there are many memorable characters populating The Magister trilogy, none of them will live on the way Gerald Tarrant has in the two decades since Black Sun Rising was published. Having said that, in every other facet, even the characterization taken as a whole, The Magister trilogy is everything The Coldfire trilogy was, and then some!

While everyone is taking about Joe Abercrombie, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, and many others, C. S. Friedman wrote one of the very best -- and perhaps the best -- fantasy series of the new millennium. Maybe it's time more people give it a shot. . . Just saying. . .

Rothfuss' The Wise Man's Fear will by far be the most popular Daw title of 2011. But believe you me: it won't be the best. Legacy of Kings and its two predecessors deserve the highest possible recommendation.

Legacy of Kings delivers on basically all levels. It will definitely be one of the fantasy novels to read this year.

The final verdict: 9/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

2011 Hugo Award Nominees

I'm aware that most SFF fans don't give a damn, but the 2011 nominees have just been announced.

Best Novel

Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)

Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)

The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)

Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit)

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

As several people have already pointed out on various message boards, it is indeed a pretty weak list this year. Here's to hoping that Ian McDonald gets his hands on the award this year!

Follow this link for a full list of categories and nominations.

Game of Thrones: Another Episode 2 Preview

Have you ever seen a dragon?

Tune in tonight! =)

Live chat with Guy Gavriel Kay

This from Bright Weavings:

To celebrate the May 3rd publication day of Under Heaven in paperback in the United States (and the releases in the UK and Canada earlier this spring), GGK will be available for a conversation with readers online via the services of a new interactive system, OneRoom. No software is needed, just go to the site. The conversation runs for an hour from 2PM-3pm EDT. On arrival, readers will be invited to select a log-in name and an icon/avatar for themselves, including choices from the covers of the ten novels. We'll see which book 'wins' this straw poll.

You can pre-register for this live discussion here.

Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven (Canada, USA, Europe) is an awesome read, and I can't recommend this book enough! Now that it's going to be out in paperback just about everywhere, you can read and enjoy it, no matter how tight your budget is.

Coming Home...

Though I'm not sure the Habs can come out on top now that the hated Boston Bruins have tied the series, NOTHING beats playoff hockey.

Go Habs Go! =)

Quote of the Day

One night our unit got ambushed. We were cut down by guerrillas of an NC Deep Incursion squad, and in minutes I learned the true meaning of what was euphemistically described as close-quarters combat. No line-of-sight particle-beam weapons now; no delayed-detonation nano-munitions. What close-quarters combat meant was something which would have been infinitely more recognisable to a soldier of a thousand years earlier: the screaming fury of human beings packed so close together that the only effective way to kill each other was with sharpened metal weapons: bayonets and daggers, or with hands around each other's throats; fingers pressed into each other's eye-sockets. The only way to survive was to disengage all higher brain-functions and regress to an animal state of mind.

So I did. And in doing so, I learned a deeper truth about war. She punished those who flirted with her by making them like herself. Once you opened the door to the animal, there was no shutting it.

- ALASTAIR REYNOLDS, Chasm City (Canada, USA, Europe)

This science fiction novel is awesome thus far!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (April 19th)

In hardcover:

Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches is down ten spots, finishing the week at number 25. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Patrick Rothfuss' The Wise Man's Fear is down nine positions, ending the week at number 26. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Charlaine Harris' Dead in the Family is down five spots, finishing the week at number 8.

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones is up two positions, ending the week at number 10.

George R. R. Martin's A Clash of Kings returns at number 30.

Game of Thrones: New Episode 2 Preview

Jaime and Jon! =)

Excerpt from Sam Sykes' BLACK HALO

Thanks to Sam Sykes, here's an extract from his latest, Black Halo. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe. And to learn more about the author and his novels, check out Sykes' official website.

Here's the blurb:


...and the gates of hell remain closed. Lenk and his five companions set sail to bring the accursed relic away from the demonic reach of Ulbecetonth, the Kraken Queen. But after weeks at sea, tensions amidst the adventurers are rising. Their troubles are only beginning when their ship crashes upon an island made of the bones left behind from a war long dead.

And it appears that bloodthirsty alien warrior women, fanatical beasts from the deep, and heretic-hunting wizards are the least of their concerns. Haunted by their pasts, plagued by their gods, tormented by their own people, and gripped by madness personal and peculiar, their greatest foes may yet be themselves.

The reach of Ulbecetonth is longer than hell can hold


Lenk had never truly been in a position to appreciate nature before. It was always something to be overcome: endless plains and hills, relentless storms and ice, burning seas of trees, sand, salt and marsh. Nature was a foe.

Kataria had always chided him for that.

Kataria was gone now.

And Lenk wasn’t any closer to appreciating nature because of it. The moonlight peered through the dense foliage above, undeterred by the trees’ attempts to keep it out. The babbling brook that snaked through the forest floor became a serpent of quicksilver, slithering under roots, over tiny waterfalls, to empty out somewhere he simply did not care.

When he had found it and drank, he had thanked whatever god he had sent from it. When he used it to soothe his filthy wound, promises of conversion and martyrdom had followed.

Now, the stream was one more endless shriek in the forest’s thousand screaming symphonies. His joy had lasted less than an hour before he had began to curse the gods for abandoning him in a soft green hell.

It was murderous, noisy war in the trees: the birds, decrepit winged felons pitting their wailing night songs against the howling and shaking of trees against their hatred rivals, the monkeys.

His eyes darted amongst the trees, searching for one of them, any of the disgusting little things. His sword rested in his lap, twitching in time with his eyelids as he swept his gaze back and forth, back and forth like a pendulum.

None of them ever emerged. He saw not a hair, not a feather. They might not even be there, he thought, what if it’s all just a dream, a hallucination before Gevrauch claims me? A shrill cry punctured his ears. Or could I ever hope to be that lucky?

He clenched his scavenged tuber like a weapon, assaulting his mouth with it. It was the only way he could convince himself to eat the foul-tasting fibrous matter. Kataria had taught him basic foraging, in between moments of regaling him how shicts were capable of laying out a feast from what they found in mud.

She could have found something else here, he thought. She could have found some delicious plant. “Eat it,” she would have said, “it’ll help your bowel movements.” Always with everyone’s bowel movements…

No, he stared down at the floor, always with my bowel movements.

He wasn’t sure why that thought made him despair.

But she’s dead now. They all are.”

The voice came and went in a fleeting whisper, rising from the gooseflesh on his arm. It had grown fainter through the fevered veil that swaddled his brain, coming as a slinking hush that coiled around his brain before slithering into silence.

He supposed he ought to have been thankful. He had long wished to be free of the voice, of its cruel commands and horrific demands. Now, as he sat alone under the canopy, he silently wished that it might linger for a moment, if only to give him someone to talk to preserve his sanity.

He paused mid-chew, considering the lunacy of that thought.

He grumbled, continuing to chew. It’s not as though you could ever preserve your sanity talking to the others, either. If anything talking to Kat would only drive you madder in short order.

It matters not,” the voice whispered, “she’s drowned, claimed by the deep. They all have. They all float in reefs of flesh and bone, they all drift on tides of blood and salt.”

Lenk had never recalled the voice being quite so specific before, but it slithered away before he could inquire. In its wake, fever creased his brows, sent his brain boiling.

That isn’t right, he told himself. The voice made him cold, not hot. It was the fever, no doubt, twisting his mind, making him thoughts deranged. Of course, your thoughts couldn’t have been too clear to begin with.

There was a rustle in the leaves overhead, a creak of a sinewy branch as something rolled itself out of the canopy to level a beady, glossy stare at him. It hung from a long, feathery tail, tiny human-like hands and feet dangling under its squat body. Its head rolled from side to side, rubbery black lips peeling back in what appeared to be a smile as its skull swayed on its neck in time with its tail.

Back and forth, back and forth…

It’s mocking me, Lenk thought, his eyelid twitching, the monkey is mocking me. He put a hand to his brow, felt it burn. Keep it together. Monkeys can’t mock. They don’t have the sense of social propriety necessary to upsetting it in the first place. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Of course it does. Monkeys have no sense of comedic timing. It’s not in their nature…

He stared up, found his tongue creeping unbidden to his cracked lips.

Their juicy…meaty nature.

His sword was in his hands unbidden, glimmering with the same hungry intent as his fever-boiled eyes, licking its steel lips with the same ideas as he licked his own rawhide mouth.

The monkey swung tantalizingly back and forth, back and forth, bidding him to rise, stalk closer to the tiny beast, his sword hanging heavily. It wasn’t until he was close enough to spit on it that the thing looked at him with wariness.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he growled. “This is nature. You sit there and swing like a little morsel on a string, I bash your ugly little face open and slurp your delicious monkey brains off the ground.”

The beast looked at him and smiled a human smile.

“Now, doesn’t that seem a bit hypocritical?” it asked in a clear baritone.

Lenk paused. “How do you figure?”

“Are you not aware of how close the families of beasts and man are?” the monkey asked, holding up its little paws. “Look at our hands. They both suggest something, don’t they? The same fleeting, insignificant, inconsequential lifespan through us both…”

“We are not close, you little feces-flinger. Mankind was created by the gods.”

“That sort of renders your point about ‘nature’ a bit moot, doesn’t it? Gods or nature?” The monkey waggled a finger. “Which is it?”

“That isn’t what I meant and you know it!” Lenk snarled, jabbing a finger at the monkey. “Look, don’t argue with me. Monkeys should not argue. That’s a rule.”


Somewhere, I don’t know.”

“What is the desire to be shackled by rules, Lenk? Why did mankind create them? Was the burden of freedom too much to bear?”

“And if monkeys shouldn’t argue,” Lenk snarled, “they damn well shouldn’t make philosophical inquiries.”

“The truth is,” the monkey continued unabated, “that freedom is just too much. Freedom is twisting, nebulous; what one man considers it, another does not. It’s impossible to live when no one can agree what living is.”

“Shut up.”

“Thusly, mankind created rules. Or, if you choose to believe, had them handed down to them by gods. This wasn’t for the sake of any divine creation, of course, but only to make the thought of life less unbearable, so that these thoughts of freedom didn’t cripple them with fear.”

“Shut up!” Lenk roared, clutching his head.

“We both know why you want me to be silent. You’ve already seen this theory of freedom in action, haven’t you? When a man is free, truly free, he can’t be trusted to do what’s right. The last time you saw someone that was free…”

“I said…” Lenk pulled his sword from the ground. “Shut up…“

“He attacked a giant sea serpent and caused it to sink your boat, killing everyone aboard and leaving you alone.”


Lenk’s swing bit nothing but air, its metal song drowned out by the chattering screeches and laughter of the creatures above. He swung his gaze up with his weapon, sweeping it cautiously across the branches, searching for his hidden opponent.

Back and forth, back and forth…

“It’s very bad form to give up the argument when someone presents a counterpoint,” Lenk snarled. “Are you afraid to engage in further discourse?” He shrieked, attacked a low-hanging branch and sent its leaves spilling to the earth. “You’re too good to come down and fight me, is that it?”

Now,” they asked from the trees, “why is it that you solve everything with violence, Lenk? It never works.”