Chapter 1 from Stephen R. Donaldson's AGAINST ALL THINGS ENDING available online

Just realized that the first chapter from Stephen R. Donaldson's Against All Things Ending is now available on the author's website! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

To those who asked in the comment section of the previous Donaldson post, I wholeheartedly recommend the two Thomas Covenant series from the 80s. The main character is not the most likeable of fellows, but you'll warm up to him as the series progresses.

Follow this link to read the excerpt. . .

Under Heaven

It doesn't habitually take this long for me to write a review, but I needed time to let Under Heaven sink in properly before doing so. I needed time to gather my thoughts to come up with something that would fully encompass how I felt when I reached the last page of Guy Gavriel Kay's latest. And yet, though I've given this much thought, I'm woefully aware that this pathetic review can never do justice to just how grandiose Under Heaven truly is. Simply put, this is one of the very best novels I have ever read.

Indeed, Under Heaven showcases a Guy Gavriel Kay at the top of his game. No stranger to quality books and memorable reads that remain with you long after you've reached their ending, the author has set the bar rather high throughout his career. To be honest, I doubted that Kay could ever produce a work that would surpass Tigana and The Lions of Al-Rassan. Of course, I should have known better than to think that Kay had already reached his peak. And with Under Heaven, Kay came up with his best work thus far.

Here's the blurb:

UNDER HEAVEN will be published in April 2010, and takes place in a world inspired by the glory and power of Tang Dynasty China in the 8th century, a world in which history and the fantastic meld into something both memorable and emotionally compelling. In the novel, Shen Tai is the son of a general who led the forces of imperial Kitai in the empire's last great war against its western enemies, twenty years before. Forty thousand men, on both sides, were slain by a remote mountain lake. General Shen Gao himself has died recently, having spoken to his son in later years about his sadness in the matter of this terrible battle.

To honour his father's memory, Tai spends two years in official mourning alone at the battle site by the blue waters of Kuala Nor. Each day he digs graves in hard ground to bury the bones of the dead. At night he can hear the ghosts moan and stir, terrifying voices of anger and lament. Sometimes he realizes that a given voice has ceased its crying, and he knows that is one he has laid to rest.

The dead by the lake are equally Kitan and their Taguran foes; there is no way to tell the bones apart, and he buries them all with honour.

It is during a routine supply visit led by a Taguran officer who has reluctantly come to befriend him that Tai learns that others, much more powerful, have taken note of his vigil. The White Jade Princess Cheng-wan, 17th daughter of the Emperor of Kitai, presents him with two hundred and fifty Sardian horses. They are being given in royal recognition of his courage and piety, and the honour he has done the dead. You gave a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly.

You gave him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor. Tai is in deep waters. He needs to get himself back to court and his own emperor, alive. Riding the first of the Sardian horses, and bringing news of the rest, he starts east towards the glittering, dangerous capital of Kitai, and the Ta-Ming Palace - and gathers his wits for a return from solitude by a mountain lake to his own forever-altered life.

Under Heaven is another one of Kay's history-based fantasy yarns. The worldbuilding was inspired by the Tang Dynasty of 8th centure China. Richly detailed, the book enthralls you from the very beginning. Not since the Sarantine Mosaic has Guy Gavriel Kay come up with such an evocative narrative and arresting imagery. Not that The Last Light of the Sun and Ysabel were lacking in that regard, mind you. But Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors swept you off your feet and immersed you into the Byzantine multilayered intrigues from the start. Under Heaven, if you can believe this, is even more powerful. History buffs might disagree, yet I feel that Kay captured the moods and nuances of his chosen setting to perfection. And this richness of details make for an even more impressive reading experience.

Still, beyond the vividly depicted environment, it's the superb characterization that makes Under Heaven impossible to put down. Guy Gavriel Kay has always possessed a deft human touch and his past novels are filled with memorable characters. In this one, the author has outdone himself. As the main protagonist, Shen Tai takes center stage and is a well-realized three-dimensional character. But his tale would never be as touching without the presence of men and women like the Kanlin Warrior Wei Song, the poet Sima Zian, the courtesan Spring Rain, or the Taguran officer Bytsan sri Nespo. Although the fate of the entire empire of Kitai could be on the brink of doom, at its heart Under Heaven remains a character-driven work revolving around the lives of the members of the Shen family; Shen Tai, his brother Shen Liu, now principal advisor to the first minister, and their sister Shen Li-Mei.

Absorbing, Under Heaven is the sort of book you wish would never end. It does start a bit slow, yet as you read along you realize that Kay was just laying the groundwork for what is to come. I felt at times that there was more than enough material to warrant at least a duology. However, looking back, I feel that drawing out the story, though it would have fleshed out certain events and characters, would indubitably have robbed readers of such a moving ending. The momentum would never have been the same had the book been split into two installments. In retrospect, I can't find a single thing I didn't like about this one. . .

Although it's still early in the year, I'll go out on a limb and predict that Under Heaven will be the speculative fiction novel of 2010. For the life of me I can't imagine having the privilege to read any work matching, let alone surpassing, the magic of this book. Novels don't come much better than this.

Award-winning author Guy Gavriel Kay has been one of my favorite writers for years. Hence, it came as no surprise that Under Heaven turned out to be a gorgeous and unforgettable work. I expected no less from Kay. What I didn't expect was the feeling of awe that left me speechless when I reached the end. . .

The ARC contains an interesting letter from Kay talking about why he writes history-inspired fantasy novels. Here's a quote I liked:

Using the fantastic as a prism for the past, done properly, means that a tale is universalized in powerful ways. When I wrote Tigana, a novel about the way tyranny tries to erase identity in conquered peoples, the fantasy setting seems to have done exactly that: I'm asked in places ranging from Korea to Poland to Croatia to Quebec, "Were you writing about us?"

I was. All of them. That's the point. The fantastic is a tool in the writer's arsenal, as powerful as any there is.

My hope is that Under Heaven offers power and pleasure: an immersion into a world and its characters, but also material for thought when the last page is turned. And my belief is that treating the story in the way that I do might add to both of these.

In the end, always and for every writer, it is for the reader to decide. We place our work in your hands, and wait to hear.

Well, Mr. Kay, I would say it's mission accomplished. And then some!

Do yourself a favor and read Kay's Under Heaven. This book deserves the highest possible recommendation.

The final verdict: 10/10

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

Peter V. Brett contest winner!

According to Brett's latest Facebook status, The Desert Spear cracked the London Times' bestseller list in the UK! Kudos to the author and everyone involved in making this a success!

Our winner will receive a complimentary autographed copy of Peter V. Brett's The Desert Spear, compliments of the folks at Del Rey. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Israel Clark, from Denver, Colorado, USA

Thanks to all the participants!

New extract from Steven Erikson's THE CRIPPLED GOD

You didn't know that fantasy author Steven Erikson has a blog? Join the club! Just found out myself!:P

And since Malazan fans are crazy about maps, here's the Quon Tali map. . .

Here's a teaser:

In his latest blog post, bestselling novelist Steven Erikson gives us a glimpse into his creative process by deconstructing an excerpt from his much-anticipated next novel in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series.

This is a revealing look into Erikson’s process. Fans will love this glimpse behind the scenes and writers will love the insights into the thought processes and techniques of this fantasy master.

For the article and the excerpt, follow this link. . .

US cover art for Joe Abercrombie's THE HEROES

This was released today on the Orbit website.=)

And here's the blurb:

War: where the blood and dirt of the battlefield hide the dark deeds committed in the name of glory. THE HEROES is about violence and ambition, gruesome deaths and betrayals; and the brutal truth that no plan survives contact with enemy. The characters are the stars, as ever, and the message is dark: when it comes to war, there are no heroes…


Curnden Craw: a ruthless fighter who wants nothing more than to see his crew survive.

Prince Calder: a liar and a coward, he will regain his crown by any means necessary.

Bremer dan Gorst: a master swordsman, a failed bodyguard, his honor will be restored—in the blood of his enemies.

Over three days, their fates will be sealed.

Sounds good to me!!!

Danielle Trussoni contest winner!

Thanks to the folks at Viking, this lucky gal will get her hands on a signed copy of Danielle Trussoni's Angelology. For more information about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Sara Chamama, from New York City, New York, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!=)

New Poll: What to read next???

I'm done with Guy Gavriel Kay's amazing Under Heaven (Canada, USA, Europe), which I believe will be the best speculative fiction novel of 2010. Expect my review and the next few days. But I doubt there will be a better book released this year, no matter how great Steven Erikson's The Crippled God and George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons turn out to be (if they see the light before the year is out). Kay's Under Heaven is the author's best work to date. . .

And I'm now a third into David Louis Edelman's Geosynchron (Canada, USA, Europe), which looks to be another winner!

Because of prior commitments that were screwed a bit by my going to Southeast Asia for over a month, the next titles in the batting order will be Blake Charlton's Spellwright (Canada, USA, Europe), as well as Jasper Kent's Thirteen Years Later (Canada, USA, Europe). And since I don't figure I'll be able to exert any self-control, I'll probably go through Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (Canada, USA, Europe) in no time!

God knows my "Books to read" pile isn't growing any shorter, but I was wondering how much interest there is for these titles? Which one would you prefer to see me read and review?

Here are the nominees:

- Leviathan Wept and Other Stories by Daniel Abraham (Canada, USA, Europe, and Subpress)

What if you had a holocaust and nobody came?

Imagine a father who has sent his child’s soul voyaging and seen it go astray. Or a backyard tale from the 1001 American Nights. Macbeth re-imagined as a screwball comedy. Three extraordinary economic tasks performed by a small expert in currency exchange that risk first career and then life and then soul.

From the disturbing beauty of “Flat Diane” (Nebula-nominee, International Horror Guild award-winner) to the idiosyncratic vision of “The Cambist and Lord Iron” (Hugo- and World Fantasy-nominee), Daniel Abraham has been writing some of the most enjoyable and widely admired short fiction in the genre for over a decade.

Ranging from high fantasy to hard science fiction, screwball comedy to gut-punching tragedy, Daniel Abraham’s stories never fail to be intelligent, compassionate, thoughtful, and humane. Leviathan Wept and Other Stories is the first collection of his short works, including selections from both the well-known and the rare.

- Blackout by Connie Willis (Canada, USA, Europe)

In her first novel since 2002, Nebula and Hugo award-winning author Connie Willis returns with a stunning, enormously entertaining novel of time travel, war, and the deeds—great and small—of ordinary people who shape history. In the hands of this acclaimed storyteller, the past and future collide—and the result is at once intriguing, elusive, and frightening.

Oxford in 2060 is a chaotic place. Scores of time-traveling historians are being sent into the past, to destinations including the American Civil War and the attack on the World Trade Center. Michael Davies is prepping to go to Pearl Harbor. Merope Ward is coping with a bunch of bratty 1940 evacuees and trying to talk her thesis adviser, Mr. Dunworthy, into letting her go to VE Day. Polly Churchill’s next assignment will be as a shopgirl in the middle of London’s Blitz. And seventeen-year-old Colin Templer, who has a major crush on Polly, is determined to go to the Crusades so that he can “catch up” to her in age.

But now the time-travel lab is suddenly canceling assignments for no apparent reason and switching around everyone’s schedules. And when Michael, Merope, and Polly finally get to World War II, things just get worse. For there they face air raids, blackouts, unexploded bombs, dive-bombing Stukas, rationing, shrapnel, V-1s, and two of the most incorrigible children in all of history—to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control. Because suddenly the once-reliable mechanisms of time travel are showing significant glitches, and our heroes are beginning to question their most firmly held belief: that no historian can possibly change the past.

From the people sheltering in the tube stations of London to the retired sailors who set off across the Channel to rescue the stranded British Army from Dunkirk, from shopgirls to ambulance drivers, from spies to hospital nurses to Shakespearean actors, Blackout reveals a side of World War II seldom seen before: a dangerous, desperate world in which there are no civilians and in which everybody—from the Queen down to the lowliest barmaid—is determined to do their bit to help a beleaguered nation survive.

- Sleepless by Charlie Huston (Canada, USA, Europe)

From bestselling author Charlie Huston comes a novel about the fears that find us all during dark times and the courage and sacrifice that can save us in the face of unimaginable odds. Gripping, unnerving, exhilarating, and haunting, Sleepless is well worth staying up for.

What former philosophy student Parker Hass wanted was a better world. A world both just and safe for his wife and infant daughter. So he joined the LAPD and tried to make it that way. But the world changed. Struck by waves of chaos carried in on a tide of insomnia. A plague of sleeplessness.

Park can sleep, but he is wide awake. And as much as he wishes he was dreaming, his eyes are open. He has no choice but to see it all. That's his job. Working undercover as a drug dealer in a Los Angeles ruled in equal parts by martial law and insurgency, he's tasked with cutting off illegal trade in Dreamer, the only drug that can give the infected what they most crave: sleep.

After a year of lost leads and false trails, Park stumbles into the perilous shadows cast by the pharmaceuticals giant behind Dreamer. Somewhere in those shadows, at the nexus of disease and drugs and money, a secret is hiding. Drawn into the inner circle of a tech guru with a warped agenda and a special use for the sleepless themselves, Park thinks he knows what that secret might be.

To know for certain, he will have to go deeper into the restless world. His wife has become sleepless, and their daughter may soon share the same fate. For them, he will risk what they need most from him: his belief that justice must be served. Unknown to him, his choice ties all of their futures to the singularly deadly nature of an aging mercenary who stalks Park.

The deeper Park stumbles through the dark, the more he is convinced that it is obscuring the real world. Bring enough light and the shadows will retreat. Bring enough light and everyone will see themselves again. Bring enough light and he will find his way to the safe corner, the harbor he's promised his family. Whatever the cost to himself.

It is July 2010.

The future is coming.

Open your eyes.

- The Passage by Justin Cronin (Canada, USA, Europe)

'It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.'

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear - of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he's done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey - spanning miles and decades - towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.

- Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes (Canada, Europe)

Lenk can barely keep control of his mismatched adventurer band at the best of times (Gariath the dragon man sees humans as little more than prey, Kataria the shict despises most humans and the humans in the band are little better). When they're not insulting each other's religions they're arguing about pay and conditions. So when the ship they are travelling on is attacked by pirates things don't go very well. They go a whole lot worse when an invincible demon joins the fray. The demon steals the Tome of the Undergates - a manuscript that contains all you need to open the undergates. And whichever god you believe in you don't want the undergates open. On the other side are countless more invincible demons, the manifestation of all the evil of the gods, and they want out. Full of razor-sharp wit, characters who leap off the page (and into trouble) and plunging the reader into a vivid world of adventure this is a fantasy that kicks off a series that could dominate the second decade of the century.

Cover art for Stephen R. Donaldson's AGAINST ALL THINGS ENDING

Oh man, October can't come quick enough! I totally forgot that this book was being published in the fall of 2010!

Follows more or less the same style as Fatal Revenant. I like it.

Against All Things Ending should be one of the reading highlights of the year! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

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

In hardcover:

Aaron Allston's Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Backlash debuts at number 4. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is down one spot, finishing the week at number 4. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Kim Harrison's Black Magic Sanction is down eight positions, ending the week at number 15.

Charlaine Harris' Dead and Gone maintains its position at number 25.

Laurell K. Hamilton's Flirt is down ten spots, finishing the week at number 27.

Joe Hill's Horns is down eight positions, ending the week at number 28. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Anne Bishop's Shalador's Lady is down seventeen spots, finishing the week at number 33.

In paperback:

Jim Butcher's Turn Coat maintains its positions at number 12.

Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is down two spots, finishing the week at number 28 (trade paperback).

Jim Butcher contest winners!

These winners will receive a copy of Jim Butcher's Changes, compliments of the nice folks at Orbit. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Murray Lane, from Merseyside, England

- Andrew Macdonald, from Glasgow, Scotland

- Matt Gordon, from London, England

Many thanks to all the participants!

Synopsis for R. Scott Bakker's THE WHITE-LUCK WARRIOR

Here's a brief blurb you can find at the end of the paperback version of the Canadian edition of The Judging Eye (Canada, USA, Europe):

As Anasûrimbor Kellhus and his Great Ordeal march ever farther into the perilous wastes of the Ancient North, Esmenet finds herself at war with not only the Gods, but her own family as well. Achamian, meanwhile, leads his own ragtag expedition to the legendary ruins of Sauglish, and to a truth he can scarce survive, let alone comprehend. Into this tumult walks the White-Luck Warrior, assassin and messiah both, executing a mission as old as the World’s making …

The White-Luck Warrior is a story filled with heart-stopping action, devious treachery, grand passion and meticulous detail. It is both a classic quest tale and a high fantasy war story

Can't wait!

Avatar II trailer

Man, this is so good!!!=)

Win a copy of K. J. Parker's THE FOLDING KNIFE

I have three copies of K. J. Parker's latest, The Folding Knife, for you to win, courtesy of the nice folks at Orbit. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Basso the Magnificent. Basso the Great. Basso the Wise. Basso the Murderer. The First Citizen of the Vesani Republic is an extraordinary man. He is ruthless, cunning and, above all, lucky. He brings wealth, power and prestige to his people. But with power comes unwanted attention, and Basso must defend his nation and himself from threats foreign and domestic. In a lifetime of crucial decisions, he's only ever made one mistake. One mistake, though, can be enough.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "FOLDING." 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!

R. Scott Bakker contest winners!

Thanks to the folks at The Overlook Press, our winners will get their hands on the paperback edition of R. Scott Bakker's The Judging Eye. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Dion Baldwin, from Tukwila, Washington, USA

- Patrick Harte, from San Francisco, California, USA

- Troy Kimball, from Tucson, Arizona, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

Singapore photo album

Just realized that I never did post the link to the Singapore photo album. You can check out the pics here.

Though it marked the end of my Southeast Asian adventure, I had a blast in Singapore! Met some cool people and never had to look very far to find a drinking companion. Tiger beer ain't all that good, but after a few you don't really care!;-)

Met some fellow SFF aficionados over dinner one night, which was interesting. Sadly, my camera was charging so I don't have pics. But it was kind of weird to meet people who follow the Hotlist on the other side of the globe.

It was hot. No, scratch that. It was fucking hot! You see, Singapore had their hottest month of February in history this year. That's like Siberia beating all-time cold temperature records in winter!

Oh, by the way, if you are looking for men and women's fragrances, head on out to the Mustafa Center. I paid about half what I'd pay in Canada for both Diesel: Fuel for Life and Diesel: Only the Brave. Can't beat that! Singapore might be more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia, but it's quite easy to travel there on the cheap. Just steer clear of Orchard Road!;-)


I've been intrigued by this anthology ever since George R. R. Martin made the announcement that Tor Books had bought the rights several months ago. And with a lineup of all-star authors contributing, as well as GRRM's third Dunk and Egg novella, you couldn't help but be intrigued. My curiosity was piqued even more when I discussed the anthology with Martin at Worldcon: Anticipation last summer. Hence, I was pretty keen to read it.

Though there is a central theme to the anthology -- warriors -- George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois envisioned a cross-genre work that would be comprised of short stories and novellas of various styles and tones. A brief look at the table of contents shows that, although many of these writers are bestselling authors in their own genre or sub-genre, compiling fiction from each of them could make for a disparate and dysfunctional work. That was probably my biggest concern.

In his introduction "Stories from the Spinner Rack," Martin bemoans the fact that nowadays every genre and sub-genre is segregated and relegated to its own section in a bookstore. Back in the day of the spinner rack, with paperbacks jammed in there without rhyme or reason, a reader could discover and peruse novels from various genres.

Sure, I knew the differences between a space opera and a hardboiled
detective story and a historical novel. . . but I never
cared about
such differences. It seemed to me, then as now, that there were good stories and
bad stories, and that was the only distinction that truly mattered.

Books should broaden us, take us to places we have never been and show us
things we've never seen, expand our horizons and our way of looking at the
world. Limiting your reading to a single genre defeats that. It limits
us, makes us smaller

There's no science fiction section here, no shelves reserved just for
historical novels, no romance rack, no walls or labels of any sort. Just
stories. Some are by your favorite writers, we hope; others , by writers you may
never have heard of (yet). It's our hope that by the time you finish this book,
a few of the latter may have become the former

I was aware that I would enjoy some of the short stories found in Warriors. But I was wondering if the anthology could stand on its own, as the sum of all its parts. I knew I didn't have to worry about Robin Hobb, Tad Williams, David Weber, Joe Haldeman, and GRRM. But what about Diana Gabaldon, Lawrence Block, Steven Saylor, and James Rollins? Would their short fiction fit with the rest? Well, the answer is a resounding yes!

The problem with many anthologies is that they contain a couple of very good short stories, while the rest seems to consist of half-assed, uninspired stuff. Not so with Warriors. Though some stories are better than others, I enjoyed every one of them. Considering the number of genres and sub-genres represented in this book, I found that overall everything flows particularly well. There is no filler material in Warriors.

As a matter of course, the main draw is "The Mystery Knight" by George R. R. Martin. And yet, no matter how eagerly awaited this latest ASOIAF novella has been, Warriors has a lot more to offer.

The anthology opens up with Celia Holland's "The King of Norway," a story about Vikings going on a raid. While entertaining, it's probably the weakest work found within the pages of Warriors. "Forever Bound," a Forever Peace short story by Joe Haldeman recounts the tale of a number of young people recruited to operate machine soldiers in a war. It was excellent and at times moving. One of the anthology's highlights.

"The Triumph" shows a side of Robin Hobb we've never seen before, which bodes well for the short story collection she has in the works. Set during the First Punic War, it's a story about friendship, about two Roman soldiers which fate separated and brought back together.

Lawrence Block's "Clean Slate" is a disturbing story about an abused girl losing it and going down on a very dark path. Whether one can call her a warrior of any sort is open to discussion, but "Clean Slate" is the sort of short story that sticks into your mind for quite a while afterward.

"And Ministers of Grace" by Tad Williams is another one of my favorites. A Terminator-like soldier is sent on a suicide mission in the name of his religion. As was the case with Hobb, this is not the sort of stuff Tad Williams has accustomed us to. But it's pretty damn good.

"Soldierin'" by Joe Lansdale is a Western in which two black men join the army following the Civil War and get into a bind fighting Indians. At times hilarious, you can't help but root for the narrator and The Former House Nigger.

"Dirae" by Peter S. Beagle is by far the weirdest story in Warriors. It's about a woman who constantly finds herself at the right place and the right time to fight for and help innocent people in need. The narrative can be quite vivid, and it gets better as you go along.

Diana Gabaldon's "The Custom of the Army" recounts the adventure of John Grey being shipped to Canada to help in the taking of Québec. Well-written and entertaining, but it probably doesn't stand on its own as well as the others. I have a feeling that fans of Gabaldon's Lord John books will get more out of this one than newcomers will.

"Seven Years from Home" by Naomi Novik demonstrates that the author has a lot more to offer than the Temeraire books. This could well be the best short story of the anthology. It recounts the tale of a woman sent to a planet to get involved in a local war and going native. This one shows Novik's grittier side, and I for one hope to see more of this from the author.

"The Eagle and the Rabbit" by Steven Saylor is about prisoners from Carthage attempting to escape Roman soldiers. Another excellent story, one that makes me want to discover Saylor's books.

"The Pit" by James Rollins is quite different. Indeed, the narrative is from the POV of a dog captured and forced to fight in the pit. Unusual, yes, but well-written.

David Weber's "Out of the Dark" is a novella in which an invading alien army discovers the extent of mankind's resourcefulness when they try to take over the planet. This is a thrilling, action-packed read. But the ending, while quite unanticipated, is a bit of a letdown.

"The Girls from Avenger" by Carrie Vaughn recounts the story of a group of female aircraft pilots from the Women Airforce Service Pilots during WWII, as they try to shine some light on the cover-up that prevents them from learning how one of their own died. Different from what Vaughn habitually offers, but a very good story.

"Ancient Ways" by S. M. Stirling is about two warriors, one Cossack and one Kalmyk, attempting to rescue a princess. Fun and entertaining, to be sure.

"Ninieslando" by Howard Waldrop is the oddest short story of the bunch. A WWI soldier discovers a strange place between the trenches. With the Holland piece, it is likely the weakest one in Warriors.

"Recidivist" by Gardner Dozois is another weird piece, but with a much better flow. Humanity is now under the control of AIs, and a group of men trying to preserve their memories of the past attempt to strike back at them.

"My Name is Legion" by David Morrell is about soldiers from the French Foreign Legion. The story packs a good punch.

"Defenders of the Frontier" by Robert Silveberg recounts the tale of a group of aging soldiers stuck in a distant outpost. There are pacing issues in this one, and at times it falls on the boring side.

"The Scroll" by David Ball is another highlight. A French engineer is captured and forced to work for a cruel Moroccan monarch. Tormented in various ways over the course of years, he fights to keep his sanity as his hope of ever being released slowly evaporates.

Give it a shot! George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois' Warriors will not disappoint.

The final verdict: 8/10

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

Guy Gavriel Kay contest winner!

Thanks to the folks at Viking, our winner will get his hands on an autographed copy of Guy Gavriel Kay's Under Heaven. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Andrew O'Higgins, from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Only about 50 pages to go, and I can tell you that Under Heaven has been an amazing read so far! On par with Tigana and The Lions of Al-Rassan, with the potential to surpass both! Unless Kay screws up the ending, Under Heaven should be a frontrunner for best speculative fiction novel of 2010.

Col Buchanan contest winners!

These lucky winners will receive a complimentary copy of Col Buchanan's Farlander, courtesy of the folks at Pan Macmillan. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Harry Giovanopoulos, from Athens-Attica, Greece

- John Geddes, from Christchurch, New Zealand

- Johann Pollard - Ptashark, from Pretoria, South Africa

- Christian Torp-Hansen, from Naestved, Denmark

- Zafri Mollon, from Caledonia, Ontario, Canada

Many thanks to all the participants!;-)


I know it's been a while since the last update, but that's the way love goes! But things are really coming down on the anthology front! And I'm getting a bit excited!

The book is in production as we speak. The signature sheets have been making the round of authors since I was in Southeast Asia, and I figure they should end up in my mailbox in the near future. I didn't know that the limited edition of Speculative Horizons would bear my autograph!

As you can see, artist J. K. Potter put together this cover for the anthology. This may or may not be the final version, but the folks at Subterranean Press granted me permission to post it along with this update! I really like the sunset and the blue smoke. I wasn't certain about the face, but the overall effect of the cover has been growing on me since last week. And the most important element: My name on the cover! I have to admit that it's absurdly cool to see this for the first time in my life!:P

There should be more updates as we get closer and closer to the pre-order page going up on the Subpress website. So stay tuned for more!

On the charity front, as you know I wanted a part of the proceeds to go to Breast Cancer research when I accepted this gig. Hence, 10% of the cover price from each copy sold during the first week of pre-orders will be donated to this worthy cause.

The Speculative Horizons anthology will be comprised of these short stories:

- "Soul Mate" by C. S. Friedman
- "The Stranger" by L. E. Modesitt, jr.
- "The Eve of the Fall of Habesh" by Tobias S. Buckell
- "Flint" by Brian Ruckley
- "The Death of a Love" by Hal Duncan

Things are definitely moving along now. . . More to come soon!=)

Win an autographed copy of Tad Williams' SHADOWRISE

Thanks to the author and his wife Deborah, I have a signed copy of both the UK and the US editions of Shadowrise up for grabs! How cool is that!?! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "BARRICK." 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!

Musical Interlude (pour mes amis(es) de la Francophonie)

I've mentioned in the past that some songs somehow become the soundtrack of any given trip. I've posted a few last year and the year before, I believe. Some tracks just get stuck into your brain and refuse to leave. So much so that you simply have to download them when you get back home, regardless of how good or bad they are. And it doesn't matter how many years fly by. When that song shows up on the shuffle of your laptop or iPod, there's nothing you can do but crank up the volume and let the memories swirl inside your mind.

There are quite a few songs I've collected this way while traveling around 33 countries. I love them all, to be sure. But none more so than this one. . .

If you were in France or any of the French parts of Europe (Brussels in Belgium, or Geneva and Lausanne in Switzerland, etc) in the summer of 2004, you have heard this track a thousand times. It seemed to be playing on the various NRJ stations every 30 minutes or so.

The beat is dope! I never thought that a boxing-themed beat could ever beat what Puff Daddy came up with for the song Victory with Notorious B. I. G., but this track by Nâdiya takes the cake. I've seldom encountered such a catchy beat. The rhythm gets to you. It's the perfect song for the gym, or for speeding down the highway.

Oddly enough, it was never released on our side of the pond. And considering we get a lot of shit from France, you would have thought that a good song like this would have made it across the Atlantic. So I never did find out how beautiful and sexy the singer is until much later! Alas. . .;-)

Give it a try. Chances are it'll join the songs you take with you on your MP3 player next time you hit the gym!

Et pour tous mes amis(es) francophones, et bien on retourne en arrière pour quelques minutes et on se déhanche un peu! La prochaine fois, ce sera peut-être du Gilbert Montagné!:P

Peter V. Brett contest winners!

Our winners will get their hands on a signed paperback edition of Peter V. Brett's The Warded Man, compliments of the folks at Del Rey. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Josh & Christy Able, from Reno, Nevada, USA

- Randal Bozza, from Hermitage, Tennessee, USA

- Alec Coquin, from New York City, New York, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

Best thread title ever!

"Robert Stanek shat directly into my soul" on Westeros! A poor, unsuspecting reader was swindled into buying a Stanek book via the Amazon review scam. Gotta feel for the poor bastard. . .

In need of a chuckle on this gray Sunday morning? Check out this page. . .=)

Win a signed copy of Peter V. Brett's THE DESERT SPEAR

I have an autographed copy of Peter V. Brett's The Desert Spear for you to win, courtesy of the folks at Del Rey. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

The sun is setting on humanity. The night now belongs to voracious demons that arise as the sun sets, preying upon a dwindling population forced to cower behind ancient and half-forgotten symbols of power. These wards alone can keep the demons at bay, but legends tell of a Deliverer: a general - some would say prophet - who once bound all mankind into a single force that defeated the demons. Those times, if they ever existed, are long past. The demons are back, and the return of the Deliverer is just another myth . . . or is it?

Out of the desert rides Ahmann Jardir, who has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army. He has proclaimed himself Shar'Dama Ka, the Deliverer, and he carries ancient weapons - a spear and a crown - that give credence to his claim. Sworn to follow the path of the first Deliverer, he has come north to bring the scattered city-states of the green lands together in a war against demonkind - whether they like it or not.

But the northerners claim their own Deliverer. His name was Arlen, but all know him now as the Warded Man: a dark, forbidding figure whose skin is tattooed with wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. The Warded Man denies that he is the Deliverer, but his actions speak louder than words, for he teaches men and women to face their fears and stand fast against the creatures that have tormented them for centuries.

Once the Shar'Dama Ka and the Warded Man were friends, brothers in arms. Now they are fierce adversaries. Caught between them are Renna, a young woman pushed to the edge of human endurance; Leesha, a proud and beautiful healer whose skill in warding surpasses that of the Warded Man himself; and Rojer, a traveling fiddler whose uncanny music can soothe the demons - or stir them into such frenzy that they attack one another.

Yet as old allegiances are tested and fresh alliances forged, all are blissfully unaware of the appearance of a new breed of demon, more intelligent - and deadly - than any that have come before.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "DESERT." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

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

Good luck to all the participants!

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (March 16th)

In hardcover:

Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter debuts at number 4. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Kim Harrison's Black Magic Sanction is down four positions, ending the week at number 7.

Anne Bishop's Shalador's Lady debuts at number 16.

Laurell K. Hamilton's Flirt is down three spots, finishing the week at number 17.

Joe Hill's Horns is down five positions, ending the week at number 20.

Charlaine Harris' Dead and Gone maintains its position at number 25.

Tad Williams' Shadowrise debuts at number 33. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Stephen King's Under the Dome is down seven positions, ending the week at number 34. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Jim Butcher's Turn Coat debuts at number 12.

Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies makes a return at number 26 (trade paperback).

New Poll: Help me decide where to go next. . .

Okay, so I know I just got back from a 6-week stint in Southeast Asia. And technically, this was supposed to be my only "real" trip of the year. I had to get a leave of absence from both my jobs in order to haul my ass over to Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, so it's not like money was pouring in while I was overseas.

And yet, this week I learned that I just might be able to crunch my four weeks of vacation and get the entire month of June off. Add to that the fact that I have a tax return on the way, that I should soon get my check for the editorial work I did for the Speculative Horizons anthology, and that staying in Montreal clearly isn't a compelling option, and I'm now looking at places to visit. Don't know yet if I will go anywhere and where this forthcoming adventure would be, but here are the early contenders:

- Asia (option 1): China (a major pain in the ass because of the required visa), Hong Kong, and Maccau

- Asia (option 2): Bali, Lombok, and the Gili Islands (Indonesia), as well as the east coast of Malaysia

- Eastern Europe (option 1): Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro

- Eastern Europe (option 2): Romania, Moldova, and Bulgaria

- Africa: Tunisia and Morocco

- Caribbean: Spend a month taking it easy island-hopping

What would you do!?!=)

Of course, with the extremely weak American dollar, a trip back to the USA could be great. I have to go back to Las Vegas to see the three Cirque du Soleil I haven't seen yet. . .;-)

Graham McNeill contest winners!

Thanks to the kind folks at Black Library, each of our five winners will receive a complimentary copy of Graham McNeill's A Thousand Sons. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Ben Galusha, from Redlands, California, USA (Elgernon the Nightraven on

- Daniel Slack, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

- John Burnet Hall, from St Andrews, Fife, United Kingdom

- Aleksandra Nakova, from Skopje, Macedonia

- Vineet Garg, from Magarpatta City, Maharashtra, India

My, my, but we did span the globe with this contest! Thanks to all the participants!

Auction for the first copy off the press of Guy Gavriel Kay's UNDER HEAVEN

This from a press release from Penguin Group (Canada):

Toronto – March 18, 2010 To celebrate the worldwide launch of international bestseller Guy Gavriel Kay’s much anticipated new novel Under Heaven, Penguin Group (Canada) is auctioning the first book off the press anywhere in the world, autographed by the author. Signed and verified by the printer and the publisher, this first copy includes a product identification slip and letter from the printing press identifying the book as the first copy printed in Canada. The auction begins March 18, 2010 on eBay, and closes March 25, 2010.

All proceeds from the auction will be donated to Indigo Books & Music, Inc.’s Love of Reading Fund. The fund directly supports high-needs elementary school literacy programs across Canada. Guy Gavriel Kay will personally match the winning bid to a maximum of $1000 (CDN). Additionally, Penguin Canada will match the winning bid to a maximum of $500 (CDN).

Under Heaven will go on-sale in Canada on April 3. Inspired by the glory of Tang Dynasty China in the eighth century, Guy Gavriel Kay melds history and the fantastic into something both powerful and emotionally compelling. Under Heaven is a novel on the grandest narrative scale, encompassing the intimate details of individual lives in an unforgettable time and place.

You can find the auction here.

I'm about a third into Under Heaven (Canada, USA, Europe) and I'm really enjoying it thus far. It's too early to tell, of course, but if the novel lives up to its potential it could well be one of Kay's signature works.

Win an autographed copy of Danielle Trussoni's ANGELOLOGY

I have a signed copy of Danielle Trussoni's Angelology for you to win, compliments of the people at Viking. For more information about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

A thrilling epic about an ancient clash reignited in our time- between a hidden society and heaven's darkest creatures.

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Genesis 6:5

Sister Evangeline was just a girl when her father entrusted her to the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in upstate New York. Now, at twenty-three, her discovery of a 1943 letter from the famous philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller to the late mother superior of Saint Rose Convent plunges Evangeline into a secret history that stretches back a thousand years: an ancient conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful descendants of angels and humans, the Nephilim.

For the secrets these letters guard are desperately coveted by the once-powerful Nephilim, who aim to perpetuate war, subvert the good in humanity, and dominate mankind. Generations of angelologists have devoted their lives to stopping them, and their shared mission, which Evangeline has long been destined to join, reaches from her bucolic abbey on the Hudson to the apex of insular wealth in New York, to the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris and the mountains of Bulgaria.

Rich in history, full of mesmerizing characters, and wondrously conceived, Angelology blends biblical lore, the myth of Orpheus and the Miltonic visions of Paradise Lost into a riveting tale of ordinary people engaged in a battle that will determine the fate of the world.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "ANGELOLOGY." 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!

Dan Abnett contest winners!

Thanks to the cool folks at Black Library, these winners will get their hands on a copy of Dan Abnett's The Lost omnibus. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Andreas Øwre, from Oslo, Norway

- Alberto Ablanedo de Dios, from Oviedo, Spain

- Ryan Chow, from Singapore

- Alexander Allan, from North Hykeham, Lincoln, United Kingdom

- Pawel Martin, from Wroclaw, Poland

Many thanks to all the participants!=)

The Girl Who Played With Fire

As you know, I went through Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Canada, USA, Europe) as quickly as humanly possible. The book was impossible to put down. Fortunately, when I finished the novel one night in Melaka, Malaysia, I just had to open my suitcase to pick up the sequel. Hence, about a minute passed between my finishing The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and my beginning The Girl Who Played With Fire. Would that it could always be this easy, right!?!

Here's the blurb:

Lisbeth Salander is a wanted woman. Two Millennium journalists about to expose the truth about the sex trade in Sweden are brutally murdered, and Salander's prints are on the weapon. Her history of unpredictable and vengeful behaviour makes her an official danger to society - but no-one can find her anywhere. Meanwhile, Mikael Blomkvist, editor-in-chief of Millennium, will not believe what he hears on the news. Knowing Salander to be fierce when fearful, he is desperate to get to her before she is cornered and alone. As he fits the pieces of the puzzle together, he comes up against some hardened criminals, including the chainsaw-wielding 'blond giant' - a fearsomely huge thug who can feel no pain. Digging deeper, Blomkvist also unearths some heart-wrenching facts about Salander's past life. Committed to psychiatric care aged 12, declared legally incompetent at 18, this is a messed-up young woman who is the product of an unjust and corrupt system. Yet Lisbeth is more avenging angel than helpless victim - descending on those that have hurt her with a righteous anger terrifying in its intensity and truly wonderful in its outcome.

With Mikael Blomkvist and the folks at Millennium about to publish a story that will expose a far-reaching sex trafficking network implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, financial world, and government, you just knew that this one would suck you in the way The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo did. Don't know how he manages to do it, but Larsson has the uncanny ability to get under your skin, forcing you to read on well past your bedtime many nights in a row.

The Scandinavian setting continues to be refreshing. Though most readers know next to nothing about Sweden and its institutions, the author's narrative contains all the information required to keep the story accessible to any readers looking for a multilayered crime/mystery/thriller novel. Indeed, you never feel like some nuances seem to be lost on you.

The Girl Who Played With Fire features a smaller cast than its predecessor, which allows the author to flesh out the characters even more. Understandably, we learn more about Blomkvist, as well as the truth about the past of Lisbeth Salander. That, in itself, is without a doubt one of the highlights of the book. But secondary characters get the same treatment, which permits us to see that the series resounds with even more depth than we first believed. Erika Berger, Nils Erik Bjurman, inspector Jan Bublanski, and Sonja Modig, especially. But also Armansky and Palmgreen. On the other hand, considering how impeccable Larsson's characterization habitually is, I found the sexist and stupid cops leaving something to be desired. They weren't handled as well as the other characters.

The mystery regarding the sex trafficking network doesn't have the appeal of the one surrounding the mysterious death of Harriet Vanger in the first book, but it's pretty damn close! The Girl Who Played With Fire features an intricate and convoluted plot that will keep you begging for more, as everyone tries to figure out who the enigmatic Zalachenko truly is. Sadly, my hunch proved to be true, and I sort of guessed it before it was revealed. I hate it when that happens. . .

All in all, Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played With Fire is another page-turning rollercoaster ride of a novel. Highly recommended.

If you haven't read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, put it at the very top of your reading list! With The Girl Who Played With Fire not far behind!

The final verdict: 9/10

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

Quote of the Day

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.


WARRIORS contest winners!

Each winner will receive a copy of the Warriors anthology, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, courtesy of the folks at Tor Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Only one short story left to read, so I can tell you that this is a very strong anthology. All killer and no filler, Warriors is!=)

The winners are:

- Bill Spytma, from Mt. PLeasant, Michigan, USA

- Aaron Kowal, from Watertown, Wisconsin, USA

- Brad M Saenz, from Gurnee, Illinois, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

Win a copy of Jim Butcher's CHANGES

I have three copies of Jim Butcher's new Dresden Files installment, Changes, for you to win, courtesy of the folks at Orbit. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Long ago, Susan Rodriguez was Harry Dresden's lover-until she was attacked by his enemies, leaving her torn between her own humanity and the bloodlust of the vampiric Red Court. Susan then disappeared to South America, where she could fight both her savage gift and those who cursed her with it.

Now Arianna Ortega, Duchess of the Red Court, has discovered a secret Susan has long kept, and she plans to use it-against Harry. To prevail this time, he may have no choice but to embrace the raging fury of his own untapped dark power. Because Harry's not fighting to save the world...

He's fighting to save his child.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam) with the header "CHANGES." 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!