More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings for only 1.26$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Widely acclaimed for his work completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga, Brandon Sanderson now begins a grand cycle of his own, one every bit as ambitious and immersive.

Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.

The result of over ten years of planning, writing, and world-building, The Way of Kings is but the opening movement of the Stormlight Archive, a bold masterpiece in the making.

Speak again the ancient oaths,

Life before death.

Strength before weakness.

Journey before Destination.

and return to men the Shards they once bore.

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

Cover blurb for Ian Cameron Esslemont's forthcoming ASSAIL

The eagerly anticipated Malazan novel by Ian Cameron Esslemont focusing on the mysterious and forbidden continent of Assail will be published next summer, but here's the blurb found in the Transworld 2014 catalogue:

Tens of thousands of years of ice is melting, and the land of Assail, long a byword for menace and inaccessibility, is at last yielding its secrets. Tales of gold discovered in the region’s north circulate in every waterfront dive and sailor’s tavern and now countless adventurers and fortune-seekers have set sail in search of riches. All these adventurers have to guide them are legends and garbled tales of the dangers that lie in wait - hostile coasts, fields of ice, impassable barriers and strange, terrifying creatures. But all accounts concur that the people of the north meet all trespassers with the sword. And beyond are rumoured to lurk Elder monsters out of history’s very beginnings.

Into this turmoil ventures the mercenary company, the Crimson Guard. Not drawn by contract, but by the promise of answers: answers that Shimmer, second in command, feels should not be sought. Also heading north, as part of an uneasy alliance of Malazan fortune-hunters and Letherii soldiery, comes the bard Fisher kel Tath. With him is a Tiste Andii who was found washed ashore and cannot remember his past and yet commands far more power than he really should. It is also rumoured that a warrior, bearer of a sword that slays gods and who once fought for the Malazans, is also journeying that way. But far to the south, a woman patiently guards the shore. She awaits both allies and enemies. She is Silverfox, newly incarnate Summoner of the undying army of the T’lan Imass, and she will do anything to stop the renewal of an ages-old crusade that could lay waste to the entire continent and beyond. Casting light on mysteries spanning the Malazan empire, and offering a glimpse of the storied and epic history that shaped it, Assail brings the epic story of the Empire of Malaz to a thrilling close.

Win a copy of the mass market paperback edition of George R. R. Martin's A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

I'm giving away my review copy of the mass market paperback edition of George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons to one lucky winner! It also contains an extract from The Winds of Winter as a bonus! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance—beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys’s claim to Westeros forever.

Meanwhile, to the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone—a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.

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

Abaddon's Gate

James S. A. Corey's Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War both ranked among my favorite speculative fiction reads of 2011 and 2012. Understandably, I had rather high expectations for Abaddon's Gate. And somehow, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, the two authors behind the letter-filled James S. A. Corey pseudonym, managed to raise the bar even higher in this third installment!

Indeed, in my humble opinion their Hugo-nominated and now New York Times bestselling Expanse sequence is the very best ongoing science fiction series on the market today! This is space opera on a grand scale as good as anything written by genre powerhouses such as Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds.

Here's the blurb:

For generations, the solar system -- Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt -- was humanity's great frontier. Until now. The alien artifact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has appeared in Uranus's orbit, where it has built a massive gate that leads to a starless dark.

Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artifact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.

The worldbuilding was once again one of my favorite aspects of this novel. The fragile political balance between Earth, Mars, and the Belt, is at the heart of the story and threatens everything. As was the case in Caliban's War, I loved how Abraham and Franck handled the political facets of the different plotlines, as well as the repercussions the politicking generates in the greater scheme of things. I loved how the whole concept behind the Ring and what lies beyond could affect mankind so profoundly. I wasn't sure about the religious angle brought by the Anna Volovodov POV at first, yet it allowed the writers to explore the many themes underlying the story from a different, more spiritual perspective. Which, in the end, somehow added another dimension to what has become an extremely multilayered plot.

Once more, the stakes become higher as the tale progresses. As ships from Earth, Mars, and the Belt speed toward the Ring to discover and perhaps lay claim to what lies in the starless space on the other side, the tension rises with each new chapter. And with what Holden unveils beyond the Ring, it appears that the series will reach new heights in forthcoming volumes. With each new installment, there is no question that the Expanse is a very complex science fiction tale. Which bodes well for what comes next!

As was the case in both Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War, a number of plotlines from Abaddon's Gate which appeared a bit out of place at the beginning all of a sudden become pivotal as the plot continues to move forward. It's another sprawling novel and it takes time for the story to finally make sense. But when it does, it makes for an even better reading experience!

The characterization was once again "top notch." Do-gooder Holden is back as a POV character in this one and will probably continue to be present as the series progresses, but the rest of the POV protagonists are all new faces. As I mentioned earlier, Anna's point of view brings a more religious/spiritual perspective to the story. Bull's POV allows readers to witness what is occurring from a different angle. While interesting, at first it isn't always clear why Melba's POV was necessary. But as was the case in previous books, Abraham and Franck gradually bring everything together, and the disparate points of view add yet more layers to a tale that already echoes with depth.

Abaddon's Gate is paced in a way that makes you beg for more, always promising yourself to read just another chapter, again and again. A veritable page-turner, this novel is almost impossible to put down!

"As close as you'll get to a Hollywood blockbuster in book form." That's what had to say about Leviathan Wakes when it was released. I disagree. . . Although the Expanse does feature all the trappings of a good science fiction movie, Hollywood never came up with something this convoluted and intelligent. A blockbuster needs to satisfy even the lowest common denominator. Vast in scope and vision, Abaddon's Gate and the rest of the Expanse sequence, with its passionate and compelling characters, with its textured, detailed, and thoroughly imagined world, are shaping up to be one of the very best space opera series of all time. Believe you me: space opera doesn't get much better than this!

The final verdict: 9/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Don't know for how long it will last, but at the moment you can download the digital edition of Stephen R. Donaldson's The Last Dark for 9.99$ instead of 21.32$ here!

Here's the blurb:

Compelled step by step to actions whose consequences they could neither see nor prevent, Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery have fought for what they love in the magical reality known only as "the Land." Now they face their final crisis. Reunited after their separate struggles, they discover in each other their true power--and yet they cannot imagine how to stop the Worm of the World’s End from unmaking Time. Nevertheless they must resist the ruin of all things, giving their last strength in the service of the world's continuance.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Dan Simmons' Hugo award-winning classic, Hyperion, for only 5.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope--and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.

New Star Wars Blooper Reel

There is no sound on some of those clips, but it's kind of cool to go back in time like this!

Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean: How we made The Sandman just posted a piece in which international bestselling author Neil Gaiman and artist Dave McKean elaborate on the reinvention of the DC character who went on to outsell Batman and Superman and reinvigorate the comics industry. Here's a teaser:

The character of Dream – AKA the Sandman, or the Lord of Dreams – had always been in my mind, like that Michelangelo analogy about a sculpture already being in the marble. In 1988, when I wrote a dream sequence for Black Orchid, my first comic for DC, it occurred to me that it might be cool if the Sandman, who had appeared in comics by other writers, was in there. I started thinking about reworking the character and talked about it over dinner with [DC president] Jenette Kahn and [editor] Karen Berger. Later, I got a call asking me to do a monthly comic.

They said: make it your own. So I started thinking more mythic – let's have someone who's been around since the beginning of time, because that lets me play around with the whole of time and space. I inherited from mythology the idea that he was Morpheus, king of dreams: it's a story about stories, and why we need them, all of them revolving in some way around Morpheus: we encounter a frustrated writer with an imprisoned muse; we attend a serial killer convention and the first performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream; we even find out what cats dream about (and why we should be afraid).

Follow this link to read the entire article.

Newbies should definitely check these out: The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes (Canada, USA, Europe), The Sandman: The Doll's House (Canada, USA, Europe), The Sandman: Dream Country (Canada, USA, Europe), The Sandman: Season of Mists (Canada, USA, Europe), The Sandman: A Game of You (Canada, USA, Europe), The Sandman: Fables and Reflections (Canada, USA, Europe), The Sandman: Brief Lives (Canada, USA, Europe), and The Sandman: World's End (Canada, USA, Europe)

Win a copy of Ian Cameron Esslemont's BLOOD AND BONE

I'm giving away my copy of the mass market paperback edition of Ian Cameron Esslemont's Blood and Bone! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

In the western sky the bright emerald banner of the Visitor descends like a portent of annihilation. On the continent of Jacuruku, the Thaumaturgs have mounted another expedition in a bid to tame the neighbouring wild jungle. Yet this is no normal wilderness. It is called Himatan, and it is said to be half of the spirit-realm and half of the earth. And it is said to be ruled by a powerful entity who some name the Queen of Witches and some a goddess: the ancient Ardata.

Saeng grew up knowing only the rule of the magus Thaumaturgs – but it was the voices from that land's forgotten past that she listened to. And when her rulers launch their invasion of this jungle, those voices send her and her brother on a desperate mission.

To the south, the desert tribes are united by the arrival of a foreign warleader, a veteran commander in battered ashen mail men call the Grey Ghost. This warrior leads these tribes on a raid unlike any other, deep into the heart of Thaumaturg lands.

While word comes to K'azz, and mercenary company the Crimson Guard, of a contract in Jacuruku. And their employer? Could it be the goddess herself...

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

Paula Brackston contest winners!

Our winners will receive a copy of Paula Brackston's The Winter Witch, courtesy of the folks at Corsair. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Joshua Patrao, from Maharashtra, India

- Belinda Martin, from Madrid, Spain

- Grigor Petrov, from Varna, Bulgaria

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Today only, you can download Paolo Bacigalupi's Pump Six and Other Stories for only 1.99$ here!

Here's the blurb:

Paolo Bacigalupi's debut collection demonstrates the power and reach of the science fiction short story. Social criticism, political parable, and environmental advocacy lie at the center of Paolo's work. Each of the stories herein is at once a warning, and a celebration of the tragic comedy of the human experience.

The eleven stories in Pump Six represent the best Paolo's work, including the Hugo nominee "Yellow Card Man," the nebula and Hugo nominated story "The People of Sand and Slag," and the Sturgeon Award-winning story "The Calorie Man."

Play Steve Jackson's Sorcery series on your smartphone!

Old-timers from the 80s like me will have fond memories of Steve Jackson's Sorcery, one of the best Choose Your Own Adventure series of that era. Inkle Studios made a video game for the iPhone, with a version for Android coming soon! And it looks like the game captures the magic of the books! I'll definitely download the first one as soon as the Android edition is available. So if you want to travel back in time and experience a part of your childhood once more, follow this link for more information.

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

In hardcover:

Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep is down one position, ending the week at number 2. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Scott Lynch's The Republic of Thieves debuts at number 17. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game is up one position, ending the week at number 1.

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

George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows is up five spots, finishing the week at number 16.

George R. R. Martin's A Storm of Swords is up seven spots, finishing the week at number 18.

Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game is up five spots, finishing the week at number 19 (trade paperback).

George R. R. Martin's A Clash of Kings is up four positions, ending the week at number 20.

Stephen King's Joyland is down three positions, ending the week at number 23 (trade paperback).

The UNFETTERED anthology will be published in the UK by Orbit Books

A lot has been said regarding the SFF anthology Unfettered and Shawn Speakman just announced that Orbit Books will publish the UK edition of the book in February 2014! You can still download it here for 9.99$.

Here's the blurb:

You define life or it defines you.

In Shawn Speakman’s case, it was both.

Lacking health insurance and diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011, Shawn quickly accrued a massive medical debt that he did not have the ability to pay. That’s when New York Times best-selling author Terry Brooks offered to donate a short story that Shawn could sell tohelp alleviate those bills—and suggested he ask the same of his other writer friends.

Unfettered is the result: an anthology built in order to relieve that debt, featuring short stories by some of the best fantasy writers in the genre.

Twenty-three tales comprise this incredible collection, and as the title suggests, the writers were free to contribute whatever they wished.

Here is the table of contents:

- Foreword by Patrick Rothfuss
- Introduction: On Becoming Unfettered
- Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks
- How Old Holly Came To Be by Patrick Rothfuss
- The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams
- Game of Chance by Carrie Vaughn
- The Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey
- Mudboy by Peter V. Brett
- The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian
- The Coach with Big Teeth by R.A. Salvatore
- Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood
- Heaven in a Wild Flower by Blake Charlton
- Dogs by Daniel Abraham
- The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne
- Select Mode by Mark Lawrence
- All the Girls Love Michael Stein by David Anthony Durham
- Strange Rain by Jennifer Bosworth
- Nocturne by Robert V.S. Redick
- Unbowed by Eldon Thompson
- In Favour with Their Stars by Naomi Novik
- River of Souls by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
- The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan
- The Duel by Lev Grossman
- Walker and the Shade of Allanon by Terry Brooks
- The Unfettered Knight by Shawn Speakman

With the help of stalwart friends and these wonderful short stories, Shawn has taken the gravest of life’s hardships and created something magical. Unfettered is not only a fantastic anthology in its own right, but it’s a testament to the generosity found in the science fiction and fantasy community—proof that humanity can give beyond itself when the need arises.

After all, isn’t that the driving narrative in fantasy literature?

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

And you can still download Brandon Sanderson's excellent Legion for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Brandon Sanderson is one of the most significant fantasists to enter the field in a good many years. His ambitious, multi-volume epics (Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive) and his stellar continuation of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series have earned both critical acclaim and a substantial popular following. In Legion, a distinctly contemporary novella filled with suspense, humor, and an endless flow of invention, Sanderson reveals a startling new facet of his singular narrative talent.

Stephen Leeds, AKA “Legion,” is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society. The action ranges from the familiar environs of America to the ancient, divided city of Jerusalem. Along the way, Sanderson touches on a formidable assortment of complex questions: the nature of time, the mysteries of the human mind, the potential uses of technology, and the volatile connection between politics and faith. Resonant, intelligent, and thoroughly absorbing, Legion is a provocative entertainment from a writer of great originality and seemingly limitless gifts.

Quote of the Day

"Have you read my book?"

"Uhm, no, I'm sorry, I haven't."

"That's not surprising. I refused to let crass commercial retail outlets sell it. Self-published, too, since why would some faceless publication company profit from my efforts. So, you can only acquire it from moi, which is perfect, for it allows me, the author, to elect my own audience--an exclusive one, an audience worthy of my work."

- STEVEN ERIKSON, The Devil Delivered and Other Tales (Canada, USA, Europe)

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

When it was first announced that Neil Gaiman would publish a new adult work, his first in close to a decade, like countless readers I was excited! Anansi Boys was released in 2005 and fans were eagerly awaiting a new book for adults from the author. The fact that it would be little more than a novella in chapbook format sort of put a damper on things, and so did the expensive price tag considering the size of the novel. But hey, it was Neil Gaiman, so what the heck!?! Got it at 50% off on Amazon and I was good to go!

Reading the acknowledgments, it was interesting to discover that The Ocean at the End of the Lane, or at least the idea behind the tale, was at first meant to be a short story for an anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan. But then the story grew and became this book. Which explains why it's shorter than Gaiman's past adult works. And yet, when you reach the end of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, you realize that this book is as long as it needs to be.

Here's the blurb:

A major new work from "a writer to make readers rejoice" (Minneapolis Star Tribune)— a moving story of memory, magic, and survival.

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

I don't think that any other writer can set the mood the way Neil Gaiman can. Just a few pages into the book and the author captures your imagination and drags you into this spellbinding tale. Using a number of mythological themes that will resonate with speculative fiction readers, Gaiman's evocative prose takes us on a remarkable journey that explores the innocence of childhood and so much more.

Like Carlos Ruiz Zafón, in a few short sentences Gaiman can introduce you to fully fleshed out characters whose personalities leap off the pages. Whether it's the narrator, the opal miner, Lettie or the other two Hempstock women, somehow they are all three-dimensional men and women one can relate to.

Labeled as Neil Gaiman's first work for adults in years, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fairy tale that should mesmerize readers of all ages. Absorbing and compelling, this novel makes for an awesome reading experience. Sadly, all too soon we come to its end. . . An end that is moving and fills you with wonder.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the sort of fairy tale that only Neil Gaiman's fertile imagination could produce. This book demonstrates yet again that Gaiman is a master storyteller at the top of his game.

The final verdict: 8/10

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

Live extract from Jim Butcher's forthcoming SKIN GAME

Bestselling author Jim Butcher reads a sample from his upcoming Skin Game.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Mike Madrid's The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Has Wonder Woman hit the comic book glass ceiling? Is that the one opposition that even her Amazonian strength can’t defeat? Entertaining and informative, The Supergirls explores iconic superheroines and what it means for the culture when they do everything the superhero does, only in thongs and high heels.

This much-needed alternative history of American comic book icons—from Wonder Woman to Supergirl and beyond—delves into where these crime-fighting females fit in popular culture and why, and what their stories say about the role of women in society from their creation to now, and into the future.

Mike Madrid is the author of Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics (forthcoming from Exterminating Angel Press in October 2013) and The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines, an NPR “Best Book To Share With Your Friends” and American Library Association Amelia Bloomer Project Notable Book. Madrid, a San Francisco native and lifelong fan of comic books and popular culture, also appears in the documentary Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines.

OLD MARS contest winners!

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Bantam Dell, our winners will get their hands on a copy of Old Mars, a new science fiction anthology edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Jeremy Sobczak, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

- Guillermo Cantu, from San Juan, Texas, USA (naugem on

- John Quiring, from Auburn, Alabama, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Neil Gaiman's Coraline 10th Anniversary Enhanced Edition for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous.

But there's another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Coraline will have to fight with all her wits and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

This enhanced edition contains the full text of the novel, plus the following bonus content:

- Original Coraline manuscript pages
- Coraline's Many Houses: A Retrospective
- Video: The official Coraline Movie Trailer
- An excerpt from the Coraline Graphic Novel, adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell
- Audio: Coraline Graphic Novel Podcast
- Audio: An excerpt from the Coraline audiobook, read by Neil Gaiman
- Audio: Music from the Coraline audiobook, performed by the Gothic Archies
- Excerpts from other books by Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Dave McKean: The Graveyard Book, The Wolves in the Walls, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Crazy Hair
- Coraline Foreign Edition Cover Gallery

Sam Sykes' Ode to a Dark Elf

Fantasy author Sam Sykes just wrote an interesting piece titled "Ode to a Dark Elf." You might think that it's about R. A. Salvatore's popular character, but not exactly. Here's an extract:

For some reason, fantasy fans (or at least, fantasy fans who frequently talk about the genre) have an immense problem with being identified as such. And if you pay at all attention, it almost always links back to the desperation to be accepted by that successful and respected older sibling: mainstream literature.

Fantasy always seems to be in a very big hurry to grow up, or at least to be seen as grown-up, hence why all we seem to write about these days is rape and widespread murder and all the other stuff we used to think made us look more adult when we were seventeen (note: I am not saying that these subjects, books or authors are inherently childish, but equating maturity with sex and violence certainly is). To that end, we get frustrated when people point at our magic wolves, our glowing weapons, our three-headed liches and say “looks like you’ve got some growing up to do.”

And maybe it’s just me for whom this particular criticism isn’t having a lot of effect on anymore. Maybe I’m getting too comfortable in my ways. Maybe I’m not thinking hard enough. Maybe I’m just too old to continue to give a shit over whether anyone might see me enjoying this stuff. But the fact of the matter is that I’m having a much harder time caring about what other people are thinking of me.

And I’m not alone.

Follow this link to read the entire post.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Today only, Night Shade Books and Amazon are offering the digital edition of Pete Rawlik's Reanimators for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Two Men. A Bitter Rivalry. And a Quarter-Century of Unspeakable Horrors.

Herbert West's crimes against nature are well-known to those familiar with the darkest secrets of science and resurrection. Obsessed with finding a cure for mankind's oldest malady, death itself, he has experimented upon the living and dead, leaving behind a trail of monsters, mayhem, and madness. But the story of his greatest rival has never been told.Until now.

Dr. Stuart Hartwell, a colleague and contemporary of West, sets out to destroy West by uncovering the secrets of his terrible experiments, only to become that which he initially despised: a reanimator of the dead.

For more than twenty years, spanning the early decades of the twentieth century, the two scientists race each other to master the mysteries of life . . . and unlife. From the grisly battlefields of the Great War to the backwoods hills and haunted coasts of Dunwich and Innsmouth, from the halls of fabled Miskatonic University to the sinking of the Titanic, their unholy quests will leave their mark upon the world-and create monsters of them both.

Reanimators is an epic tale of historical horror . . . in the tradition of Anno Dracula and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Awesome movie!

Although Intouchables was unexpectedly snubbed by the Oscars in the "Best foreign language film" category, it won awards everywhere around the world. It's a great heartwarming film, touching and funny in equal measures. Do check it out! =)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (October 14th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep maintains its position at number 1. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge is down eleven spots, finishing the week at number 25.

In paperback:

Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game is up five positions, ending the week at number 2.

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones is up two positions, ending the week at number 12.

Stephen King's Joyland is down thirteen positions, ending the week at number 20 (trade paperback).

Stephen King's Under the Dome is down four positions, ending the week at number 21 (trade paperback).

George R. R. Martin's A Feast for Crows is up two spots, finishing the week at number 21.

George R. R. Martin's A Clash of Kings is up one position, ending the week at number 24.

Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game returns at number 24 (trade paperback).

George R. R. Martin's A Storm of Swords returns at number 25.

L. E. Modesitt, Jr. contest winners!

Our winners will each get their hands on a complimentary copy of of L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s The One-Eyed Man, courtesy of the folks at Tor Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winners are:

- Cynthia Carter, from Nelson, British Columbia, Canada

- Nora Moser, from Franklin, Tennessee, USA

- Steven Wilber, from Alexandria Virginia, USA (DragonReader on

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Kay Kenyon's A Thousand Perfect Things for only 2.99$ here. The ebook edition will be released on Tuesday.

Here's the blurb:

Kay Kenyon's The Empire and the Rose was hailed as "a star-maker", "a magnificent book", "audacious", and "the most ambitious science fiction epic of the current decade", garnering starred reviews and comparisons to Larry Nivens and Stephen R. Donaldson.

In this epic new work, the award-winning Kenyon creates an alternate 19th century; two continents on an alternate earth: scientific Anglica (England) and magical Bharata (India.)

To claim the powers of the legendary golden lotus, Tori Harding, a Victorian woman, must journey to Bharata, with its magics, intrigues and ghosts, to claim her fate, and face a choice between two suitors and two irreconcilable realms.

It is 1857. After millennia of seafaring, and harried by the kraken of the deep, in a monumental feat of engineering Anglica has built a stupendous bridge to Bharata. Bharata's magical powers are despised as superstition, but its diamonds and cotton are eagerly exploited by Anglic colonials. Seething with unrest over its subjugation, Bharata strikes back with bloody acts of magical terrorism.

Despite these savage attacks, young Tori Harding yearns to know if Bharata's magics may also be a path to scientific discovery. Tori's parents hold little hope for her future because she has a club foot. Therefore they indulge her wish to have instruction in science from her famous botanist grandfather, even though, as a woman she will be denied a career in science by the male-dominated scientific societies. Though courted by a friend of the family, Captain Edmond Muir-Smith, Tori has taken to heart her grandfather's warning not to exchange science for "married slavery."

Emboldened by her grandfather's final whispered secret of a magical lotus, Tori crosses the great bridge with her father's regiment and Captain Muir-Smith. In Bharata she encounters her grandfather's old ally, the Rana of Kathore, his rival sons, and the ancient museum of Gangadhar, fallen to ruin and patrolled by ghosts.

In pursuit of the golden lotus, Tori finds herself in a magic-infused world of silver tigers, demon birds and the enduring gods of Bharata. As a great native mutiny sweeps up the Rana's household, her father's regiment and the entire continent of Bharata--Tori will find the thing she most desires, less perfect than she had hoped, and stranger than she could have dreamed.

Quote of the Day

Nature has a way of humbling humanity, son. But the lesson sinks home only when tragedy gets personal, and even then the humility runs its course--the glittering paradigms of modern society sweep away every dark, difficult moment. We answer Nature with claims of compensation, relocation funding, declarations of disaster zones and emergency relief. We pick through the rubble looking for dead children and functionable television sets. Disaster is a place where we are temporarily left behind--watch us scramble to catch up, watch how eager everyone is to help us catch up, so as to not be reminded of the futility of progress.

- STEVEN ERIKSON, The Devil Delivered and Other Tales (Canada, USA, Europe)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Astonishing X-Men, Vol. 1: Gifted, written by Joss Whedon and illustrated by John Cassaday, for only 3.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Collects Astonishing X-Men (2004) #1-6. Cyclops and Emma Frost re-form the X-Men with the express purpose of "astonishing" the world. But when breaking news regarding the mutant gene unexpectedly hits the airwaves, will it derail their new plans before they even get started?

Extract from Stephen R. Donaldson's THE LAST DARK

The very last chapter in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is now available!!

And here's a teaser excerpt from Stephen R. Donaldson's The Last Dark, compliments of the folks at Putnam! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Compelled step by step to actions whose consequences they could neither see nor prevent, Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery have fought for what they love in the magical reality known only as "the Land." Now they face their final crisis. Reunited after their separate struggles, they discover in each other their true power--and yet they cannot imagine how to stop the Worm of the World’s End from unmaking Time. Nevertheless they must resist the ruin of all things, giving their last strength in the service of the world's continuance.


Linden Avery’s fate may indeed have been written in water. It was certainly writ in tears. They blurred everything; redefined the foundations of her life.

Standing in Muirwin Delenoth, resting place of abhorrence, with Jeremiah clasped in her arms, she felt emotions as extreme as the dismay which had followed Thomas Covenant’s resurrection and the rousing of the Worm of the World’s End; as paralyzing and uncontainable as the knowledge that she had doomed all of her loves. But there, in Andelain, the scale of her distress had seemed too great to be called despair. Here, in the company of bones and old death, her glad shock at Jeremiah’s restoration was too great and complex to be joy.

Stave of the Haruchai stood waiting with his arms folded, impassive as a man who had done nothing, and had never lost a son. Three Ranyhyn waited near him, watching Linden and Jeremiah with glory in their eyes. In the distant west, the sun drifted down shrouded in the hues of ash and dust, casting shadows like innominate auguries from the stone blades and plates which rimmed the hollow. Heaved aside by the deflagration of Jeremiah’s construct, the skeletons of quellvisks sprawled against the far slope of Muirwin Delenoth as if they sought to disavow their role in his redemption—or as if they had drawn back in reverence.

Such things were the whole world, and the whole world waited. But Linden took no notice. She was unaware that she had dropped her Staff, or that Covenant’s ring still hung on its chain around her neck, holding in its small circle the forged fate of all things. She regarded only Jeremiah, felt only him; knew only that he responded to her embrace. A miracle so vast—

I did it, Mom. For the first time in his life, he had spoken to her. I made a door for my mind, and it opened.

Joy was too small a word for her emotions. Happiness and gratitude and relief and even astonishment were trivial by comparison. A staggering confluence of valor and trust had restored her son. At that moment, she believed that if the Worm came for her now, or She Who Must Not Be Named, or even Lord Foul the Despiser, her only regret would be that she did not get to know who her son had become during his absence.

Somehow he had weathered his excruciating dissociation. In graves he had endured what the Despiser and Roger Covenant and the croyel had done to him.

She was murmuring his name without realizing it, trying to absorb the knowledge of him; trying to imprint his hug and his tangible legacy of Earthpower and his unmistakable awareness onto every neuron of her being. He was her adopted son. Physically she had known every inch of him for most of his life. But she had never met the underlying him until this moment: until he had arisen from his absence and looked at her and spoken.

The way in which she repeated his name was weeping; but that, too, she did not realize. She was no more aware of her tears than she was of Stave and the Ranyhyn and passing time and the ancient ruin of bones. Holding Jeremiah in her arms—and being held by him—was enough.

She had no better name for what she felt than exaltation.

Yet the exaltation was Jeremiah’s, not hers. He had become transcendent, numinous: an icon of transfiguration. He seemed to glow with warmth and health in her arms as if he had become the Staff of Law: not her Staff, runed and ebony, transformed to blackness by her sins and failures, but rather the Staff of Law as it should have been, pure and beneficent, the Staff that Berek Halfhand had first created to serve the beauty of the Land.

The gift that Anele had given Jeremiah elevated him in ways that Linden could not define. He had not simply become responsive and aware. He appeared to dismiss the past ten years of his life as if they had no power over him.

Such things could not be dismissed.

“Chosen,” Stave said as if he sought to call her back from an abyss. “Linden Avery.” An uncharacteristic timbre of pleading or regret ached in his voice. “Will you not harken to me?”

She was not ready to hear him. She did not want to step back from Jeremiah. He vindicated everything that she had done and endured in his name. If she withdrew from exaltation, she would be forced to think—

And every thought led to fear and contradiction; to dilemmas for which she was unprepared. No one could endure what her son had suffered without emotional damage; without scars and scarification. Yet she could not discern damage. In her embrace, he felt more than physically well. He seemed entirely whole, mentally and spiritually intact.

That Linden could not believe. She knew better.

“Mom.” Like hers, Jeremiah’s voice wept gladly. “Mom, stop crying. You’re getting me all wet.”

For his sake, she tried.

Long ago under Melenkurion Skyweir, she had forgotten the sensations of being a healer. Although she had cared for her companions in various ways, she had responded to their injuries as if her own actions were those of a stranger. But she had not forgotten what she had learned during her years in Berenford Memorial, tending the wounded souls of the abused and broken.

Training and experience had taught her that an escape from unreactive passivity was a vital step, crucial to everything that it enabled—but it was only the first step. When a crippled spirit found the courage to emerge from its defenses, it then had to face the horrors which had originally driven it into hiding. Otherwise deeper forms of healing could not occur.

She realized now that she was expecting a rush of agony from Jeremiah: the remembered anguish of every cruelty which the Despiser and Roger and the croyel had inflicted. That prospect appalled her.

Adapted from THE LAST DARK by Stephen R. Donaldson, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a member of The Penguin Group (USA) LLC. Copyright (c) 2013 by Stephen R. Donaldson.

Game of Thrones porn parody on the way. . .

It was to be expected, I guess. Kind of surprised it took this long, actually. . .

Musical Interlude

Another New Order classic!

Neil Gaiman’s NEVERWHERE removed by New Mexico school district

Well, this is kind of weird. . .

Especially given the fact that most teenagers in the 10th grade have likely been using the F-word quite liberally for years now, and many of them have had sex at that age (close to 40% according to some American studies) and/or have access to free porn on the internet on a daily basis.

This from

A New Mexico school district has at least temporarily removed Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere from its lone high school following an objection to the fantasy novel’s “inappropriate” content.” The book has been part of the 10th-grade English curriculum in 2004.

The Alamogordo Daily News reports that Nancy Wilmott, whose daughter was reading the novel as part of an assignment, was offended by a four-paragraph passage on Page 86 that “graphically describes an adulterous sexual encounter between a married man and a single woman in which the F-word is used three times, along with a brief description of groping of one’s anatomy.”


“I reviewed the language personally. I can see where it could be considered offensive,” Alamogordo Public Schools Superintendent George Straface told the Daily News. “The F-word is used. There is a description of a sexual encounter that is pretty descriptive, and it’s between a married man and a single woman. Although kids can probably see that on TV anytime they want, we are a public school using taxpayer dollars.”

English teacher Pam Thorp wasn’t as agreeable, telling the newspaper, “I cannot and will not condone the censorship this parent is promoting. The implication that we are careless or irresponsible simply is not true. Presenting challenging material of merit that may contain some foul language or mature situations, in a sensitive and academic manner, is part of our responsibility to our students in order to engage them in evaluating the human condition.”

Follow this link to read the full report.

I have a problem with censorship such as this. As far as I'm concerned, 10th graders have reached the age where they are supposedly mature enough to learn how to drive. To maintain that those same boys and girls cannot handle a few profanities and a man groping a woman (you can hear much worst and see more in most rap/hip-hop videos) is ludicrous.

Although I've been an avid readers since my early years, like most of my classmates I don't have any fond memories of the crappy stuff they forced us to read in high school. Which is why, unfortunately, most kids grow up hating books and stop reading anything besides the newspaper by the time they reach adulthood. Neil Gaiman is exactly what any high school reading curriculum needs to help teenagers fall in love with books. . .

New Scott Lynch video interview

This from the folks at

Original 1976 Star Wars trailer

Ah, the memories this brings back. . . =)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

I saw on Reddit that you can still download Janny Wurts' Curse of the Mistwraith for only 0.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The stunning first volume in Janny Wurts’s epic tale of two half-brothers cursed to life-long enmity.

The world of Athera lives in eternal fog, its skies obscured by the malevolent Mistwraith. Only the combined powers of two half-brothers can challenge the Mistwraith’s stranglehold: Arithon, Master of Shadow and Lysaer, Lord of Light.

Arithon and Lysaer will find that they are inescapably bound inside a pattern of events dictated by their own deepest convictions. Yet there is more at stake than one battle with the Mistwraith – as the sorcerers of the Fellowship of Seven know well. For between them the half-brothers hold the balance of the world, its harmony and its future, in their hands.

You can also download the second volume of Wurts' The Wars of Light and Shadow, The Ships of Merior, for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Janny Wurts’s epic tale of two half-brothers cursed to life-long enmity continues in this spectacular second volume.

The half-brothers Arithon, Master of Shadow, and Lysaer, Lord of Light, have defeated the Mistwraith and dispersed the fogs that smothered Athera’s skies. But their victory comes at a high price: the Mistwraith has set them at odds under a powerful curse of vengeance. The two princes are locked in deadly enmity, with the fates of nations and the balance of the world’s mystical powers entangled in their feud.

Arithon, forced out of hiding, finds himself hounded by Lysaer and his mighty army. He must take to his natural element – the seas – in order to evade pursuit and steal the initiative. However, his efforts are impeded by outside magical factions, not to mention a drunken prophet sent to safeguard his life, but who seems determined to wreck his cause by misadventure.

Joel Shepherd contest winner!

This lucky winner will get his hands on a full set of Joel Shepherd's Cassandra Kresnov series, compliments of the folks at Pyr! The prize pack includes:

- Crossover (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Breakaway (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Killswitch (Canada, USA, Europe)
- 23 Years on Fire (Canada, USA, Europe)

The winner is:

- Brett Jamen, from Lewisville, Texas, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

Blood of Tyrants

Given the relatively poor quality of the last few installments, at least compared to the first four volumes, I was quite reticent to give Naomi Novik's latest a shot. But since I've read the entire series thus far and there are only two volumes left, though it was with very little enthusiasm I finally elected to read Blood of Tyrants. And although it is a far cry from the first few installments, this 8th volume is nevertheless an improvement that allows me to hope that the finale will justify my sticking with the Temeraire saga as it went downhill.

Indeed, Naomi Novik wasn't able to recapture the magic that made the first couple of books such original reads, but the last portion of this novel is definitely a step in the right direction.

Here's the blurb:

Naomi Novik’s beloved Temeraire series, a brilliant combination of fantasy and history that reimagines the Napoleonic wars as fought with the aid of intelligent dragons, is a twenty-first-century classic. From the first volume, His Majesty’s Dragon, readers have been entranced by the globe-spanning adventures of the resolute Capt. William Laurence and his brave but impulsive dragon, Temeraire. Now, in Blood of Tyrants, the penultimate volume of the series, Novik is at the very height of her powers as she brings her story to its widest, most colorful canvas yet.

Shipwrecked and cast ashore in Japan with no memory of Temeraire or his own experiences as an English aviator, Laurence finds himself tangled in deadly political intrigues that threaten not only his own life but England’s already precarious position in the Far East. Age-old enmities and suspicions have turned the entire region into a powder keg ready to erupt at the slightest spark—a spark that Laurence and Temeraire may unwittingly provide, leaving Britain faced with new enemies just when they most desperately need allies instead.

For to the west, another, wider conflagration looms. Napoleon has turned on his former ally, the emperor Alexander of Russia, and is even now leading the largest army the world has ever seen to add that country to his list of conquests. It is there, outside the gates of Moscow, that a reunited Laurence and Temeraire—along with some unexpected allies and old friends—will face their ultimate challenge . . . and learn whether or not there are stronger ties than memory.

Over the course of the last three installments, Novik seems to have grown extremely complacent, happy to offer simple, often formulaic, and episodic works in style and tone. Lackluster every last one of them, these books have done very little to further the overall plot and feel like interludes while everything else occurs "off stage." As I mentioned in my review of Crucible of Gold, it appears that the magic is well and truly gone. And it sure felt as though it would be more of the same, at least in the early portion of Blood of Tyrants.

I'm not sure if the book's beginning was meant to be an homage of sorts to James Clavell's classic Shogun. If that's the case, it was an epic fail in that regard. In the past, I've always loved the author's depiction of the various locales the characters visited. With an historian's eye for details, Novik always came up with an evocative narrative that created an arresting imagery. She has always excelled at that, yet her depiction of Japan was half-assed at best. Given that more than a third of the novel occurs in Japan, let's just say that it was a decidedly inauspicious start for Blood of Tyrants.

Unexpectedly, as it appeared that this novel would, like its three predecessors, be mostly filler material, with an uninspired travelogue chronicling Laurence and Temeraire's various journeys making for a large chunk of the page count, after a slow start the sequence taking place in China gets the ball rolling and we see shades of earlier works, those which allowed the Temeraire books to revitalized the genre. As the action travels to Russia, all of a sudden the plot is moving forward and the pace increases.

Laurence's loss of memory is a nice plot device that really turns the story upside down for a while. I used to find the relationship between Laurence and Temeraire and the rest of the dragons to be engaging, yet I fear that somehow this got old a few books back. And yet, Laurence's amnesia has repercussions on every facet of the characterization and was a welcome change. Sadly, the supporting cast brings very little the tale.

Following a slow and rather boring start, Blood of Tyrants picks up speed in the second part of the book, and continues to move the overall story arc forward with each new chapter. Finally, we see storylines coming together, revelations are made, and with winter settling over Russia readers know that the endgame has come. For the first time in a number of years, I'm actually intrigued and looking forward to discover just how Naomi Novik will bring this series to a close.

The final verdict: 7.25/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Until the end of the month, you can download Laird Barron's third collection of short fiction, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Over the course of two award-winning collections and a critically acclaimed novel, The Croning, Laird Barron has arisen as one of the strongest and most original literary voices in modern horror and the dark fantastic. Melding supernatural horror with hardboiled noir, espionage, and a scientific backbone, Barron’s stories have garnered critical acclaim and have been reprinted in numerous year’s best anthologies and nominated for multiple awards, including the Crawford, International Horror Guild, Shirley Jackson, Theodore Sturgeon, and World Fantasy awards.

Barron returns with his third collection, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All. Collecting interlinking tales of sublime cosmic horror, including “Blackwood’s Baby,” “The Carrion Gods in Their Heaven,” and “The Men from Porlock,” The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All delivers enough spine-chilling horror to satisfy even the most jaded reader.