Win a full set of K. J. Parker's The Engineer Trilogy

I have a full set of K. J. Parker's The Engineer Trilogy for you guys to win, compliments of the kind folks at Orbit.

Devices and Desires (Canada, USA, Europe)
Evil for Evil (Canada, USA, Europe)
The Escapement (Canada, USA, Europe)

The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "ENGINEER." 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!

On the Horizon. . .

Here's brief overview of what I have on tap for you guys between now and the Holidays. . .

Book Reviews

I'm almost done with K. J. Parker's Devices and Desires, and I've started GRRM's Dreamsongs, volume 1 (Canada, USA, Europe). At the rate I've been reading this year, I reckon that I'll go through 6 or 7 additional titles before the year is out.

I'm trying to figure out which books I'll be reading, but I'm having a hard time deciding. David Anthony Durham's Acacia (Canada, USA, Europe) is a sure bet, as I want to see if it will crack my Top 10 of 2007. I have an ARC of GRRM and co.'s newest Wild Cards book, Inside Straight (Canada, USA, Europe), on its way, which means that this one will be read as well. As to which other novels will make the cut, I'm not certain. The second Dreamsongs volume seems likely, but that's a lot of GRRM in a short span of time. Carrie Vaughn's Kitty and the Silver Bullet (Canada, USA, Europe) is another sure shot. Any suggestions!?! I've got too many books to choose from!;-)
Of course, the arrival of my ARC of Ian Cameron Esslemont's Return of the Crimson Guard will trump any of these titles!


R. Scott Bakker emailed me to let me know he had no idea exactly when he'd get the opportunity to transcribe the hard copy of his answers and send them back to me. He and his wife bought a house, and it's undergoing heavy renovations at the moment.

I have a 9-way interview in the pipeline, this time with GRRM and his 8 Wild Cards collaborators. Special thanks to Ran and Mormont of Westeros for the help they provided to put this one together!:-) I'm really curious to see how this Q&A will turn out, for there is the possibility that it will turn into a nuthouse! The questions have been sent, so we'll see how everything works out!

Upcoming contests will include a giveaway for Joel Shepherd's Killswitch (Canada, USA, Europe). Another one will feature a full set of K. J. Parker's The Engineer trilogy: Devices and Desires (Canada, USA, Europe), Evil for Evil (Canada, USA, Europe), and The Escapement (Canada, USA, Europe). There will also be a contest for Carrie Vaughn's latest Kitty novel, Kitty and the Silver Bullet.

And stay tuned, for I will have the most fucked up giveaway yet in December. Indeed, I will have two Advance Reading Copies of the newest Wild Cards title, Inside Straight, autographed by George R. R. Martin, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Daniel Abraham, Carrie Vaughn, Michael Cassutt, Caroline Spector, John Jos. Miller, Ian Tregillis and S. L. Farrell, up for grabs! If those prizes are not collector's items, then I don't know what is!;-)
Speaking of collector's editions, I will also be giving away two limited editions from Subterranean Press, Novik's His Majesty's Dragon and Erikson's Gardens of the Moon. Cool, eh!?!

Year-End Awards

Yep, the Tairy Awards will be back this year, once again in honor of the Yeard himself! Look for that post during the last week of December.


Yesterday spawned an immense "fuck me" moment for me. The Hotlist reached its 500,000th page view, which is still hard to believe. I mean, I knew it was coming, of course. But to actually see it happening was shocking. . .

NFL Showdown

The New York Giants won against the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, which means that the Giants are now 6-2. It was Dallas' bye week, so the Cowboys are still 6-1. Which means that the showdown between both teams next Sunday will determine who's the best team in the NFC. Not only that, it could also help decide whether GRRM or I will win our friendly wager.

Needless to say, I really want to see a character based on me get offed in A Dance with Dragons or the next ASOIAF volume! Go Cowboys, I say!:p

Additional SFF Resources

I know I've been promising to do this for quite some time now, so this morning I decided to bite the bullet and go for it!:-)

I relish the thought of messing around with my blog template as much as going to the dentist. That should give you an idea of the reason why I don't do it very often. . .

So, instead of reading GRRM's Dreamsongs, I added a number of links that you can find by scrolling down under the header "Additional SFF Resources." I'm aware that I probably forgot a few (I always do), which means that those unlucky souls will have to wait till my next update to be included in this list.

One link that I forgot last year when I last updated my links is the excellent Angela runs a great site and she should have been on my blogroll for a long time. What can I say, other than I totally suck at this sort of thing!?! Heck, Jay and Rob, two of my favorite reviewers, were forced to wait for nearly a year before I finally figured out how to create links. So Angela, it was a long time in coming (to my shame), but your website has joined the august company of my "original" favorites!;-)

Now if only Stego started blogging again. . .:-)

Daniel Abraham's Symposium on Epic Fantasy: The results

The first point that Abraham and his colleagues tackled was the definition of epic fantasy. Abraham has just posted what came out of those discussions. You can read the full piece here.

Here's an excerpt:

Even as I sit down to write this, a very small Nick Mamatas homonculus in the back of my head is flipping me off, calling me stupid and storming away in a huff. He’s got a point.

Definitions are tricky by nature, and offering one up gives the impression of having solved a puzzle. What is Epic Fantasy? Well, this is, and anything that doesn’t fit the definition isn’t. That kind of proscriptive rigor is doomed, but being doomed doesn’t take away from the essential dignity of the effort. I’ll just take a moment to point out that what I’m saying here isn’t intended to tell the reader what they should think but rather to clarify what I do. When I say Epic Fantasy, I mean this. If you mean something else, please do make that explicit. Thanks.

Epic fantasy is (1)fiction in (2)an ahistorical setting with (3)magic, and usually but not exclusively with (4)preindustrial technology. I should say that I don’t draw a distinction between Epic and Heroic. If you do, you’ll want to make that explicit. (The homonculus waves its arms in rage at my refusal to stand and fight. Hard life, bein’ a homonculus.)

Methinks this will make for some interesting discussions. . .:-)

Justina Robson contest winners!

The names of our winners have been drawn. Each will get his or her hands on a copy of Justina Robson's sequel to Keeping it Real (Canada, USA, Europe), Selling Out, courtesy of the king folks at Pyr. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Sarah Heacox, from Los Angeles, California, USA

- David Keith, from Washington, Indiana, USA

- Erin Lilley, from Wooster, Ohio, USA (blackstormdragon on

Thanks to all the participants!;-)

Shameless Plug: The Deryni Saga

It appears that my interview with Katherine Kurtz has piqued the curiosity of quite a few people. Which is fantastic, really! As I mentioned, I consider her Deryni saga to be one of the very best fantasy series out there. Hence, I knew that my next Shameless Plug had to be about this book sequence and no other!

I've contacted Katherine to see if we could put together a giveaway for the three author's cuts that she's been releasing lately (her first trilogy), so hopefully that contest will see the light. Meanwhile, here's a list of the Deryni titles. As expected, many of them seem to be out of print. And yet, I was shocked to discover that most of them can be purchased from sellers on Amazon for as little as a single penny! Holy crap, I never thought that we had fallen so low that a Deryni book was now worth only a stupid penny. . .:-( On the upside, it means that you can buy the entire saga with little more than the change you have in your pocket.

And believe me, it will be the best investment you've ever made!

The Chronicles of the Deryni

- Deryni Rising (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Deryni Checkmate (Canada, USA, Europe)
- High Deryni (Canada, USA, Europe)

The Legends of Camber of Culdi

- Camber of Culdi (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Saint Camber (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Camber the Heretic (Canada, USA, Europe)

The Histories of King Kelson

- The Bishop's Heir (Canada, USA, Europe)
- The King's Justice (Canada, USA, Europe)
- The Quest for Saint Camber (Canada, USA, Europe)

The Heirs of Saint Camber

- The Harrowing of Gwynedd (Canada, USA, Europe)
- King Javan's Year (Canada, USA, Europe)
- The Bastard Prince (Canada, USA, Europe)

King Kelson's Bride (Canada, USA, Europe)

In the King's Service (Canada, USA, Europe)

Childe Morgan (Canada, USA, Europe)

Deryni Anthologies

- The Deryni Archives (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Deryni Magic (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Deryni Tales (Canada, USA, Europe)

In my opinion, the saga really takes off with the second trilogy, The Legends of Camber of Culdi. After that, it's about as good as it gets if you're into politicking and convoluted plotlines and great characters.

Good reading!;-)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 23rd)

In hardcover:

R. A. Salvatore's The Orc King is down one position, ending its third week on the charts at number 10. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Stephen R. Donaldson's Fatal Revenant debuts at number 12. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Terry Pratchett's Making Money is down three spots, finishing its fourth week on the bestseller list at number 20. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Terry Brooks' The Elves of Cintra is up one position, ending its seventh week on the NYT list at number 26. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is down one spot, finishing its 28th week on the prestigious list at number 11. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Naomi Novik's Empire of Ivory is down five positions, ending its third week on the charts at number 25. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Why is it that. . ?

I've received more than a few emails pertaining to these two topics since last summer. . .

Some are wondering why this blog doesn't appear on John Scalzi's list of top SFF blogs. They tell me that based on what the author is looking for in terms of parameters, the Hotlist should be on that list. If I'm not mistaken, Scalzi's Top 50 is based on technorati rankings, which means that it's based on the number of links a blog gets. From what I understand, traffic is not one of the variables in this equation, so I really can't elaborate more on the subject. I recall a thread on last summer, encouraging people to link me so the Hotlist would make Scalzi's Top 50. I was flattered, of course, but I didn't really lose sleep over something like this. I remember Scalzi's first list being more about authors, which could also explain why a review site didn't make the cut. As you can see, I have no idea whatsoever why I'm not in that Top 50. Perhaps you guys should ask John. . .:-)

On a related note, many seem confused by the fact that doesn't link any of my reviews/interviews/giveaways/yada yada yada. If memory serves me right, the Locus website did link my Q&A with Joel Shepherd last fall, as well as the Terry Awards (my year-end awards). If I'm not mistaken, those are the only two posts they ever linked from the Hotlist. As to why they don't link more of my stuff, again I have to plead ignorance. Perhaps it would be better to ask them directly. I don't know if I'm considered as "competition" or something of the kind. It might be that they have enough of their own reviews and interviews. I really can't say. . .

Of course, it is within the realm of possibilities that they simply don't like what I do!:p I wish I could help you out, but as you can see I'm rather clueless myself. . .

VanderMeer interviews Abercrombie, Miller, Ruckley and Sanderson

There is a new Amazon Q&A in which author Jeff VanderMeer interviews Joe Abercrombie, Karen Miller, Brian Ruckley and Brandon Sanderson. I'm pretty sure that this sort of thing will interest quite a few people here, so click on this link.



Some of you have been clamoring for a peek at my fantasy manuscript, The Eye of the Serpent, for well over a year now. Terribly superstitious regarding that sort of thing, I have been reticent to post any material for fear of jinxing the whole book deal. And since Matt Bialer has submitted the manuscript to a number of editors, I don't want to do something that could hurt our chances. . .

Many have asked for a synopsis, of course. The problem is that the only existing synopsis of the tale is an 8-page detailed outline containing every single spoiler one could dream of. Understandably, there's no way I could post this online. Another problem is that I suck when it comes to summarize my own work. Hence, there is no "sneak peek" synopsis of The Eye of the Serpent available. Or is there. . ?

Following my posting of Richard Morgan's pitch for The Steel Remains, some of you have renewed their attack, asking to see something similar from me. This got me thinking, and I recalled sending Matt Bialer what could be construed as a synopsis last fall, in an attempt to pique his curiosity enough so he would ask to see some sample chapters. Well, Matt was intrigued and he really enjoyed the sample material, and then requested the whole manuscript. A few weeks later, after bringing the ms with him on a business trip on the West Coast with Tad Williams, Matt signed me up and I became a client of the prestigious Sanford J. Greenburger Associates literary agency!

Those few paragraphs helped me get one of the top agents in the country, so hopefully it will satisfy your curiosity.:-) Because that's all you guys are getting, at least for the time being. . .

Here's an excerpt from the email:

«My main goal when I originally began to write the manuscript was no different than that of every writer: Create a rich and complex world, and assemble an endearing, involving core of characters, while mapping out what I considered an ambitious story arc. There was also a question of originality: I wanted the story to consist of substantial plotting, inventive magics, layered intrigues, as well as a vivid and colorful landscape. I also wished to make a refreshing use of traditional fantasy elements, in an attempt to make them both familiar and fascinating. A big fan of Katherine Kurtz, I also wanted religion to play a major role.

One of the most important thing was that I wanted no heroes. Too cliché, overdone, what I wanted was an anti-hero. But that can be tricky, and I wished to stay away from a character like Thomas Covenant because that can come back to bite you in the ass before you know it. So at the heart of the story lies Keltor, a young swordsman who believed he knows everything and who has yet to encounter a problem that cannot be remedied by force. He's a bully and not the sharpest tool in the shed. But he'll soon discover that he knows little and that he's nowhere near as good as he believes himself to be. Through a number of "humbling" experiences, Keltor grows on the reader. Somewhat of a coward at heart, he is no hero, however, just someone trying to escape his destiny at every turn. But fate is not so easily sidestepped. . .

What is THE EYE OF THE SERPENT about? It's difficult to put it in a nutshell. When I sat down to write the manuscript, I wanted to write a stand-alone novel. But in the back of my mind, it was nevertheless the opening chapter of a much bigger tale. I was trying to emulate authors such as Robert Jordan, George R. R. Martin and Steven Erikson, after all. . . Let's see if I can sum it all up in a few sentences.

Prophesied centuries earlier by the Mad Prophet, the Dark Times are a catastrophe that threatens to engulf the entire continent of Kendarion. Only a handful of men and women, selected by destiny eons before, stand against the evil that will unwittingly be unleashed by mankind upon the world. Those unsuspecting souls have been brought together by Aldarion akar'Del. The greatest Diviner of his era, he foresaw the Vision of Doom -- a terrifying window onto a dreadful future ahead. Chosen by fate to become the Gatherer, the old Mage's task is to somehow prepare the world for the coming of the Dark Times. But destiny or not, he has decided that he wouldn't go down without a fight.

Little does Keltor know that, by accepting a new commission as a caravan guard, he has become entangled into akar'Del's designs. Unbeknownst to him is the fact that Keltor figures among those who will somehow oppose the evil which will bring about the Dark Times. Ignorant, he travels toward the Sarandian capital of Asterlyn with the caravan. Yet he'll soon discover that there is more to these people than meets the eye.

In the meantime, in the capital city of the prosperous kingdom of Sarandia, the royal family is afflicted by several tragedies. Queen Katayrina has been suffering from an unknown form of illness that leaves her incapacitated. No cure has yet been found, not even by the renowned Hanar'elavy -- the Magehood's Healers. Ayrton, second son of King Breggar Gallarian, has recently experienced a frightening ordeal when the Talent -- the ability to channel the Shyr -- suddenly manifested itself. Aware that he is Mageborn, Ayrton announced to the royal court that he would leave for Katan Amnor, capital of the kingdom of Agradhar, to study under the tutelage of the Mages. The Church of Light, which condemns all uses of magic, proclaimed that Prince Ayrton has been cursed with the Devil's Gift and that the royal family, House Amelasian, is no longer in the Creator's favor. Zealous Church fanatics sought to assassinate the young man twice without success. Following the two assassination attempts, the Sarandian king requested that an escort be provided by the Magehood to protect his son on his way to Agradhar. But to his dismay, the High Council of Magic chose to send the High Executioner, Zandar Aurak Camonel, to escort the young prince to Katan Amnor. Disconcerted, the king realizes that there might be more to his son's Talent than he had ever anticipated.

At the Academy of Katan Amnor, seat of power of the Magehood, the unexpected return of Aldarion akar'Del from his self-imposed exile leaves no one indifferent. Rumors of the end of the world begin to circulate, frightening the population in their wake. Confidence in the current Magister has begun to dwindle within the council, a fact that is not lost on any member of the Magehood. Several Archmages will attempt to utilize the chaotic situation caused by akar'Del's return against the Magister.

Back in Asterlyn, with the prince gone the civil unrest is increasing as Bishop Renvye continues to foment disorder. He has received a missive from Melkiev, seat of power of the Church of Light, in which the Archbishop grants his unconditional support so that the clergyman might turn the capital in a new bastion dedicated to the Church. As the tension in the capital escalates, an armed conflict seems inevitable. As the situation degenerates, Darrick Marion, Head of House Wermun, has begun to plot against the Sarandian ruler. Along with a number of powerful families, the nobleman wishes to utilize the unrest to bolster his claim to the Sun Crown. With Ayrton out of the succession and because the princess has no claim to the throne, only the firstborn remains as the heir.

As Keltor and the rest of the caravan reach Asterlyn, and as Ayrton and his escort arrive in Katan Amnor, a violent earthquake shakes the entire continent, unearthing a city believed to have been cast into oblivion. Within its ruins, a long-forgotten entity will return to the world of men, eager to exact its vengence on those who imprisoned it.

Chaos, as they say, ensues. After working for so long on this fantasy story, I would welcome your expert opinion on this material.»

It's much more complex than that, I'm afraid. But there was no way to summarize every storyline in a few parapraphs. Happy now!?! I certainly hope so, for this is all I've got for you!;-)

Artwork for the Subpress limited edition for Steven Erikson's GARDENS OF THE MOON

This from

Michael Komark has just turned in the first rough illustration for Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon, which drew this remark from the delighted author: “Now that was a great reminder of why I wanted this artist in the first place. Fabulous. Nothing untoward in the gear they’re wearing, or in the atmosphere of the scene. It’s great stuff. Any chance of getting larger versions for framing when the series is done?”

Looks good, and I can't wait to see the rest of the art!:-)

NFL Showdown: GRRM vs Pat

This one is for all the marbles. . .

At 6-1, one would have thought that the Dallas Cowboys would run away with the division. But no! Somehow, the hated New York Giants found a way to regroup, and they have now won 5 games in a row. Even more galling (as if watching them win 5 consecutive games was not enough), the Giants have now positioned themselves as one of the elite teams in the NFC.

Unacceptable, I say!

Which is why I have challenged GRRM to a friendly football wager. Some of you would think that a number 1 New York Times bestselling author has more important things to do than this. Well, apparently not. . .;-) If you're a football fan, you are aware of the rivalry between the two teams. If you're not familiar with the NFL, the rivalry which exists between the Cowboys and the Giants would be similar to that of the Paris-St-Germain and Marseille soccer teams, or Manchester United and Chelsea. Things are a bit more civilized on this side of the pond, though. Unlike in Marseille, NY fans don't chant, "Dallas, Dallas, we fuck you up the ass!" during every game. In any event, it's not quite Brazil vs Argentina, but you get the picture.

This one is for keeps! The winning team will be the one that goes further, either in the regular season or the playoffs (assuming that both teams make the playoffs). The Cowboys and the Giants have a history of screwing up late in the season, so there might be more than a few twists and turns before the year is out!

What's at stake:

If George wins: I offered to read and review Terry Goodkind's The Pillars of Creation or any other stinker George would care to force upon me. But he'd rather have me read and review some worthy books that have not gotten the attention they deserve, and maybe interview the authors. "There's a lot of good work being done out there, much of it criminally overlooked," he said. Fair enough, I will be happy to oblige should I lose this wager.

If I win: George will base a minor character on me in either A Dance with Dragons or a future ASOIAF installment, and he'll kill me off, hopefully in spectacular and gruesome fashion! How cool would that be!?! Considering GRRM's credentials, killing little me off should be fairly easy. Now that would be something to tell the grandkids, eh!?!;-)

Now, if only I used all those SFF contacts I've acquired over the years to actually accomplish something worthwhile. . .:p I guess I'm not that kind of guy. . .
Go Cowboys!


Following in the wake of Crossover (Canada, USA, Europe) and Breakaway (Canada, USA, Europe), Joel Shepherd's last volume in the Cassandra Kresnov series, Killswitch, is yet another intelligent, action-packed and kick-ass scifi thriller!

Two years have elapsed since President Neiland's plot to make the Callayan capital city of Tanusha the heart of the "new" Federation. But all is not well within the Federation, and a faction of influential Fleet captains loyal to Earth have surrounded the planet and are threatening to create a blockade that would crush Callay's economy. Thus, it's up to the newly created Callayan Defense Force and Commander Cassandra Kresnov to find a way to oppose those warships.

As was the case with its two predecessors, Killswitch unfolds on the world of Callay, in the sprawling futuristic and exotic capital of Tanusha. Once again, the multiethnic cast of characters is a welcome change from the habitual scifi trope.

The characterization is probably my favorite aspect of this trilogy. Cassandra's moral awakening has been a fascinating facet to follow thus far, and I like how the author raises a number of philosophical issues through her character. Those moments are interwoven almost seamlessly into the plotlines, which is no small feat. However, as good as the characterizations have been up until this point, I was a little disappointed by the fact that there wasn't much character growth regarding the relationship between Cassandra and Ari. This particular storyline had a lot of potential by the end of Breakaway, yet it plays a minor role in this last installment.

Even more so than in the previous volumes, the political intrigue serving as the backdrop in Killswitch means that we have yet another intricate and well-crafted plot. Fast-paced, this one reads like a good thriller. As he did in the past, Shepherd imbues the darker moments of this book with an appropriate amount of humor, thus creating a nice balance.

A remarkable blend of political thriller and thrilling science fiction adventure, Killswitch is an exciting closing chapter to a terrific series. Shepherd brings the story to a satisfying ending, though the door is left open for possible sequels.

Readers who relish strong female characters, complex storylines, and incredible action and battle scenes should give this trilogy a shot. Chances are they won't be disappointed!

Highly recommended. Killswitch is another great read bearing the Pyr logo.

The final verdict: 7.75/10

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

Richard Morgan's THE STEEL REMAINS

This from Richard Morgan via Simon Spanton at Gollancz:


A new epic fantasy from


Ringil, Archeth and Egar - Comrades in Arms

What do you do when an evil arises in the West, and you stand and fight, and throw it back into the sea it’s come from – and then watch as your victory gets pissed away in naked political opportunism, squalid border disputes and brutal ethnic cleansing? What do you do when, in the absence of anything decent left to fight for, the same internal desperation and rage that sent you screaming up against those suicidal odds a decade and a half ago starts instead to tear you apart from within? What do you do when you’re a hero to anyone who doesn’t know you, and a corrupt degenerate to anyone who does, and nowhere that resembles home can ever accept you back as you really are?

Simple – you go back to the shit-hole mountain town you once saved from destruction, back to where the thin lie of your heroism is just about coin enough to buy tolerance for your degenerate urges. And there you hide.

Which Ringil Eskiath, scarred hero of Gallows Gap and wielder of the
kiriath blade Ravensfriend in the war against the Scaled Folk, has been doing ever since he walked away from the post-war mess. Too bad, then, that a family member has come calling with an offer he can’t refuse, a job only he can do, and a chance to crank himself back up to the same pitch of fury and purpose that sustained him like a drug all those years ago. Too bad because it’s a thankless task, not one he especially wants or even believes he has much chance of carrying to a successful end. But the truth is, as he’s forced to admit, to himself if no-one else, he really doesn’t have anything much better to do, right now or at any other foreseeable time in what remains of his hollowed-out life. It’ll be good to have something to fight for again, and if it kills him, well, it won’t much matter.


Drug problem, war veteran nerves, general sense of failure and loss? Absolutely no faith in the current fuck-up son of the ruling dynasty you’re supposed to owe allegiance to? No family, no friends, no-one you can really trust anymore – and a job you hate and don’t really know how to do? Welcome to the life at court of the lady kir-Archeth Indamaninarmal, abandoned kiriath half-breed, and last remaining advisor to the Yhelteth Empire on an equally abandoned kiriath technology she only half-way understands herself.

A decade and a half ago, she came home from the war against the Scaled Folk as disillusioned as most of her comrades from the faltering human alliance, and with some of the same damage. But beyond that, she at least believed the Empire had been worth saving. Now, as the new Emperor squanders his father’s legacy, as a new priestly caste arises to preach holy war and ethnic ascendancy against Yhelteth’s neighbours, and as everyone at court trades in governmental concern for paranoia and self preservation, she’s having a hard time remembering why she ever cared one way or the other.

Which makes her a far from ideal candidate to take charge of the investigation when a new and apparently sorcerous enemy begins making violent inroads on the Empire’s borders. Then again, ideal or not, she’s the only one even remotely qualified for the job.


And then there’s Egar. Egar the steppe nomad, Egar the Barbarian – or at least he would be, if he could just forget what it was like to have once lived in a place with decent cuisine, hot water bathing and clean shaves; what it was like to learn to read and write, and find it not only useful but surprisingly enjoyable; what it was like to fight as a mercenary for the reputedly decadent but really quite civilised Yhelteth Empire, what it was like to bring down a dragon for them single-handed in the war against the Scaled Folk – and end up an imperial citizen in good standing for his trouble.

Those things are gone now, dropped back over the steppe’s horizon to the south where he first found them. Ekar the Dragonbane has come back home to his people in triumph a rich man, a respected warrior and a natural choice for tribal chief. But a decade on, the triumph is wearing a little thin; he can’t settle, his fellow Majak herdsmen are driving him up a guy rope with their superstitions and their ignorance and their general lack of interest in anything but the world they know – and above all he could really, really use a hot-water shave.

Fortunately, Egar won’t be stuck here much longer with these exercises in nostalgia. Rivalries within the Majak are stirring, and out on the steppe, the Majak chief’s enemies have found allies of no human kind. If he wants to survive the confrontation that’s on its way, Egar’s going to have to swallow a life-time of instinct and run long before.


These three erstwhile comrades in arms will find themselves flung back together again as the hard fought and soured peace they helped to win is brought once again to the brink of war. Dark, unnatural forces are stirring, an ancient order has been summoned back to life and something very unpleasant is coming to call.

Is it me, or does this look like it's going to be one good read!?!;-)

Win a copy of the limited edition of Scott Lynch's RED SEAS UNDER RED SKIES

I have one copy of the Subterranean Press limited edition of Scott Lynch's Red Seas under Red Skies up for grabs, courtesy of Bill and the Subpress crew!:-) For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe, or

The rules are the same as usual. First off, you need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "RSURS." 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 (October 16th)

In hardcover:

R. A. Salvatore's The Orc King is down two positions, ending its second week on the charts at number 9. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Terry Pratchett's Making Money is down seven spots, finishing its third week on the NYT list at number 17. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Terry Brooks' The Elves of Cintra is down four positions, ending its sixth week on the bestseller list at number 27. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Cormac McCarthy's The Road is down one spot, finishing its 27th week on the prestigious list at number 10. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Naomi Novik's Empire of Ivory is down five positions, ending its second week on the charts at number 20. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

David Weber's At all Costs debuts at number 32. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Katherine Kurtz interview

I know this one was a long time in coming, but here it is!;-)

Katherine Kurtz's Deryni saga is one of my favorite fantasy series of all time. I was thus very excited when I was able to secure an interview with the author last spring. Her moving back to the USA in the intervening months postponed this Q&A for a while, yet I'm happy to finally bring it to you!

For those of you who think that GRRM is taking forever to write the next volume of A Song of Ice and Fire, know that Kurtz has been at it since 1970 with the Deryni saga, and it remains unfinished. Sadly, other than a scant few, not many people among the new generation of SFF readers have read this series. Here's to hoping that this interview will pique your curiosity enough to give it a shot. . .:-) Please be forewarned that this Q&A contains a couple of spoilers.
For those who wish to learn more about Katherine Kurtz and her novels, check out


- At this point, how many Deryni novels do you foresee will be required to bring the saga to an end? Have you abandoned the idea of one day managing to write all the Deryni books you envisioned when you started working on the series?

Actually, I don’t so much see an end to the saga as a filling in of blank spots within what I’ve already written. I’m working on the third Childe Morgan book now; but when I finish that-which may or may not actually bring us up to right before the beginning of Deryni Rising-I will probably do the book that covers the events of 948, when so many of our favorite characters die. (Of course, some of them are pretty old by then, so that’s OK.) After that….maybe the story of Orin and Jodotha? Or I might do a tale of Torenth….or the Anvilers. I’ve told several short stories from the other side’s perspective, and rather enjoyed it.

- At the time when THE BASTARD PRINCE was released, you were probably at the height of your popularity. At that point you elected to turn your attention to other writing endeavors. In retrospect, with the Deryni saga being what it was then, would you do it again? Do you feel that you needed to concentrate on other works at that juncture in your career?

I think what has kept the Deryni series fresh-for me, at least, if not all of my readers-is that I have branched out to do other things, given myself rests from the Deryni. I’ve even given myself rests from my characters, by alternating between the characters of Kelson’s time and those of Camber’s time. (And when I wrote Lammas Night, the first non-Deryni novel, it was partially to prove to myself that I could sell things besides medieval fantasy. Who would have guessed that John Graham would later be part of the inspiration for the Adept series?-which I’ve enjoyed immensely.) Besides that, it’s been fun doing other things-so yes, I’d do it again.

- Will you soon be revisiting the characters and events introduced in both The Legends of Camber of Culdi and The Heirs of Saint Camber trilogies?

That would be the book set in 948.:-)

- Some Deryni titles appear to be out of print. Is that the case? If so, have the rights been sold to a new publisher?

For the most part, the books haven’t been out of print; just harder to find. But every time a new one comes out, that’s encouragement for the publishers to re-release previous ones. I believe that’s part of the strategy on the part of Ace to let me do the "author’s cuts" of the first three books-and also to finally make them available in hardcover, since they were originally paperback only, in the dim, dark ages when modern fantasy was just being invented, and no one was sure whether it would fly beyond Tolkien. And yes, I moved publishers with King Kelson’s Bride. I believe it’s Ace’s intention to gradually acquire the rights to all the Deryni series and build up a substantial backlist, in addition to the Adept and Templar books.
- What's next for King Kelson and company?

I’m not certain that I’ll go beyond King Kelson’s Bride, time-wise. He eventually got the right girl, and hopefully they will all live mostly happily ever after. (It didn’t particularly work for Dorothy Sayers, when she tried a story about Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane after they’d married and produced an heir; but maybe she was generally running out of steam by then.) But another reason I probably wouldn’t do a post-KKB book is because the anti-Deryni menace is becoming increasingly resolved by then-and conflict is part of what makes a good story. Now, 948…

- DERYNI RISING was first published in August 1970. How rewarding is it to realize that you're still around and that interest for the Deryni saga remains to this day?

It’s immensely rewarding-and having had the chance to go back and tweak it for the hardcover edition was a real eye-opener for me, looking back at where I started and contemplating where it all has gone. Who would have thought? One can definitely see that I was not only learning my craft but defining my genre-indeed, helping define the whole historical fantasy genre that now exists. And they’re still damned good first novels. But I’d started to hit my stride by Camber of Culdi; and the rest, as they say, is history. What’s particularly gratifying is that the early books, in particular, got a lot of kids to start reading. A fourteen-year-old protagonist is very attractive to kids in junior high-and Harry Potter was still far in the future.

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

I would have to say that it’s characterization, and the ability to evoke richly textured visual images. And I suppose I do have a devious mind for convoluted plots.

- Have the plotlines diverged much since you began writing the Deryni series, or did you have the entire plot more or less figured out from the very beginning? Were any characters added or further fleshed out beyond your original intention? Have you made any changes to your initial plans during the course of the writing of the series?

When I first started out, I had no game plan beyond the first three books-though by the end of that first trilogy, I certainly had Camber firmly in mind, and knew I had to write a book about him. Of course, that one-book notion lasted about two thirds of the way through CC, when I realized that all of Camber’s story wasn’t going to fit into a single volume. And I think I only got about halfway through SC before I realized that I was going to need a third book about him. Even then, his story wasn’t really finished-which was when it became clear that I was actually telling an ongoing saga. For me, at least, writing is an evolutionary journey, and where you think you’re going may not be where you actually end up; sometimes characters have better ideas than the writer does. This is not to say that one ought to let characters run away with the story, but it is a good idea to listen to them from time to time.

- Characters often take a life of their own. Which of your characters did you find the most unpredictable to write about?

It wasn’t characters so much as incidents. I would have to say that there have been several characters who have occasionally done things that I hadn’t planned-though in hindsight, the incidents have always been ones where, after I’d written that passage, I’d say to myself, "Of course that’s how it had to happen. What was I thinking before?"

One of the most striking examples is when Cinhil opens that chest in his room, after an assassin has tried to kill him, and we learn that he’s been squirreling away vestments and other Mass accoutrements, that he hasn’t really given up his priesthood as he was instructed to do-but of course that’s what he was doing. How could he have done anything else, and still been true to himself? But as I was writing that scene, I didn’t consciously know that. As he’s walking across the room, looking at the chest and then kneeling to open it, I’m thinking, "Why is he walking over to that chest? What is in that chest that’s so important?" But he knew-and when the chest opened, all became clear. Another example is when Teymuraz suddenly turns on Morag and kills her, toward the end of KKB-whoa, I hadn’t seen that coming! But how else could that scene have played out, given the two individuals?

- Were there any perceived conventions of the fantasy genre which you wanted to twist or break when you set out to write the Deryni series?

LOL, good gracious, no! I just wanted to tell the kind of story that I liked to read, because in those days, there wasn’t enough out there to my taste. (The old adage of "Sometimes you have to do it yourself" is certainly true.) In the first book, I thought I had to follow certain conventions, like rhyming spells, and magical beasts, and the like, for it to be fantasy-but by the time I’d done the first three books, and they were selling well, and I was finding my voice as an author-I decided that maybe I didn’t have to follow the "classic" guidelines. There was a whole universe out there to be explored.

- What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write the Deryni series in the first place?

It was a dream, Honest! I still have the 3x5 cards on which I jotted the notes right after I woke up. A few things changed in the course of developing the outline for what became DR, but it’s pretty much all there. Interested readers can look at a transcription of those original notes, the unpublished short story/novella that was later expanded into parts of Deryni Rising, and the original outline that sold the first trilogy in The Deryni Archives, which also contains the first few short stories I wrote in the Deryni universe.

- What would you say was/is the hardest part of the entire process involved in the writing of the Deryni series? Each new addition reveals yet more depth to a series which has shown just how rich and complex it truly is.

I don’t know that I can pin down the hardest part. Some parts of some books are just harder than others, and there’s no way to predict, in advance, what those will be. But part of the enjoyment of the creative process is figuring out the puzzle. Resurrecting Camber, after I’d said he was dead, was a challenge-but I can’t use that device again. Having Dhugal turn out to be Duncan’s son, while still preserving everyone’s honor, was also a challenge. And there were others, of course. As long as I still get to resolve puzzles, I’ll probably keep writing the series for as long as I can.

- For obvious reasons, many authors steer clear of religion. And yet, you have made religion an integral part of the tale. Was that a deliberate choice right from the beginning?

I’ve always been interested in religion and the history of religion, especially Christianity. When I wrote Deryni Rising, I wasn’t sure one could go there-and if you look at the original edition, I really hedged my bets, and was careful not to be too specific about the religious aspects. And yet, what was being reinforced in my graduate studies in history was that in the real middle ages, religion was inextricably interwoven with everything else that was happening, and permeated virtually every aspect of life-and like so many other forms of power, religious power was sometimes corrupted. So I got bolder in DC, and bolder still in HD-and I knew that there was this Saint Camber guy who had to have his story told.

- What extensive research did the writing of the Deryni saga entail?

Well, I have an MA in history, so I’d already done a lot of that-and knew how to do it. As for the rest, one delves deeper when there’s a specific need-like deciding to use a corruption of minution-blood-letting designed to help monks suppress their bodily passions-so that it became a weapon in the hands of unscrupulous men who justified what they did in the name of religion. And of course I did research before writing an excommunication scene, for example. Part of the challenge is interweaving these things into context, so that the flow of the story isn’t interrupted. I try to avoid information dumps; but I do try to leave my readers knowing more about a subject than they did before. An author’s first job is to entertain, to tell a damned good story; but if you can also open minds and educate along the way, that’s an added bonus.

- In light of the current market, are you tempted to write one of those enormous fantasy epics which continue to be the most successful series at the moment?

Er, am I not already writing a multi-volume epic fantasy?-and began doing it before most other writers had really thought about it. Tolkien was the first, of course-and between the two of us, we apparently managed to convince an entire generation of writers that trilogies were the only way to go. But it isn’t. It’s astonishing to me that so many aspiring writers think they have to write a trilogy. That’s a big bite for folk who’ve mostly never even managed to complete a short story in coherent form. I don’t mean that to sound harsh, but too often young writers get wound up in creating a world, and do that at the expense of learning how to create compelling characters who can speak in believable dialogue. There’s a definite place for stand-alone novels-says the woman whose books almost all touch on a very few common threads.

- Is a World Fantasy Award something you covet?

It would be nice, certainly-and awards do tend to give a book exposure that leads to more sales, so that’s a definite plus. But I don’t write for the awards. I write because it pleases me, and because I get antsy when I’m not writing and putting ideas together. These last couple of years, when I was heavily involved with finishing the restoration of our house in Ireland and getting it to market, the original writing suffered, though I did manage to turn out Childe Morgan, and am happy with the result. But fortunately, the general chaos coincided with the polishes for the hardcover re-releases of the first three books-the "author’s cuts," if you will-which I could pick up and put down without losing continuity. (I was also been working with my Scottish writing partner, Deborah Turner Harris, on the outline for a new Adept book, a prequel to the five we’ve already done-and that is now getting underway. And of course, the third Childe Morgan was bubbling away on a back burner.) So even in the midst of chaos, the writing goes on, in one form or another. And now that I’ve just about found the floor in my new office, and my new bookshelves and desk units have been installed, I can get back to work on that third Childe book! (When we first moved back to the States, earlier this year, we lived in a hotel for more than two months, before our house was ready to move in-and I reviewed the copy-edits for High Deryni while holed up in the hotel room, and had to rely on the hotel business center for my internet access. This was not conducive to getting much serious writing done!)

- What project will you be tackling next? What's the progress report?

I’ve begun work on the third Childe Morgan-still uncertain what it will be called. Hopefully it will go fairly quickly. Meanwhile, the High Deryni hardcover will be out for Christmas of this year.

- Honestly, do you believe that the speculative fiction 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.

Well, J.K. Rowling certainly did her part to put fantasy on the popular map. Granted, the Harry Potter books are regarded as children’s literature-but I reckon that at least as many adults as children have read the books, and loved them. And while some adults may still sneer at fantasy, there’s no denying that it has made Rowling one of the richest women in Britain-and one of the most respected, since she applies a large portion of her wealth to good causes, like children’s literacy. There’s no arguing with that sort of success-and by association, I think fantasy probably has acquired a bit more acceptance. A number of science fiction properties have also helped to raise public awareness of speculative fiction as a worthy literary genre, by being translated into the more popular medium of film. After all, you can’t have films without authors.

- How would you like to be remembered as an author? What is the legacy you'll leave behind?

I know that many of my readers have found inspiration in my books for dealing with troubling aspects of their real lives, and that the books sometimes have made big differences in how those readers have coped with difficult times. Some would call it a spiritual dimension that they had thought lost. That can only be a good thing. I know that my readers generally learn things from reading my books-and to learn is always a good thing, especially if it’s nothing like the formal lessons one remembers-or doesn’t remember!-from school. But most of all, I hope that my readers come away from their reading of my work with a greater awareness that being different is not necessarily wrong. As I’ve often summed up my intention, "I don’t necessarily want to change minds; just open them."