The Last Rite

These days, vampire stories are a dime a dozen. Indeed, the majority of them have nothing original to differentiate them from the rest of the often lackluster pack. Yet by mixing his own tale with Russian historical fiction, with the Danilov Quintet Jasper Kent created something definitely unique, compelling, and thoroughly enjoyable!

Twelve, Thirteen Years Later, The Third Section, and The People's Will were all engaging and satisfying reads. And with this last installment, I was looking forward to see what sort of grand finale Kent had in store for his readers. Spanning over a century and generations of Romanov and Danilov family members, I was eager to discover just how this epic tale would come to an end. And I wasn't disappointed!

Here's the blurb:

Russia – 1917. Zmyeevich, king of all vampires, is dead.

History records that the great voordalak – known across Europe as Dracula – perished in 1893 beneath the ramparts of his own castle, deep in the mountains of Wallachia. In Russia, the Romanov tsars are free of the curse that has plagued their blood for two centuries.

But two decades later and Tsar Nicholas II faces a new threat – a threat from his own people. War has brought Russia to her knees and the people are hungry for change. Revolution is in the air.

Mihail Konstantinovich Danilov – who himself carries Romanov blood – welcomes the prospect of a new regime. Like his ancestors he once fought to save the Romanovs from the threat that Zmyeevich brought them. Fought and won. But now he sees no future for a Russia ruled by a tyrant. He is joined in the struggle by his uncle, Dmitry Alekseevich - a creature born in a different era, over a century before. For more than half his existence he has been a vampire, and yet he still harbours one very human desire; that his country should be free.

But the curse that infects the blood of the Romanovs cannot be so easily forgotten and Mihail soon discovers that it – that he – may become the means by which a terror once thought eradicated might be resurrected . . .

The historical backdrop for The Last Rite is the Russian revolution of 1917, which was triggered by a combination of economic breakdown, war-weariness, and discontent with the Tsars that ultimately led to seizure of power by the Communist Bolsheviks. As is usually his wont, Jasper Kent's flair and his eye for historical details capture the minutiae of the day-to-day life in Russia during that particular era and create an evocative narrative that never fails to dazzle the eye. However, though this marks an extremely important moment from an historical perspective, the author didn't quite manage to weave these momentous events with his various plotlines the way he was able to in the fourth volume. It doesn't take anything away from the overall reading experience, but it would have been nice if the brewing revolution had taken center stage and influenced every plotline and protagonist in the same manner as in The People's Will.

This novel features the point of view of Mihail Konstantinovich Danilov. Along with his mother, as a youth he devoted his entire existence to the destruction of vampires. More than three decades have passed since he killed Iuda and Mihail is now an old man with heart problems. With Russia on the brink of revolution, Mihail's life is about to change once more as his past catches up with him. There was an unanticipated and shocking surprise as to what the other main protagonist turned out to be. I can't elaborate on that specific POV, for it would be a major spoiler. Needless to say, these two points of view create an interesting balance as we witness events occurring through the eyes of such disparate characters. Characterization has always been a highlight in the Danilov Quintet and it's certainly no exception once again with The Last Rite.

Both Thirteen Years Later and The Third Section suffered from occasional pacing issues and the same can be said of this final instalment. The People's Will was pretty much a page-turner, but the rhythm drags in certain portions of this book. Still, once the endgame has begun, from that point on the novel becomes impossible to put down!

Ever since I read Twelve and learned that the series would follow the Danilov family through the generations at the way to the Russian Revolution, I've been wondering how Jasper Kent would bring this story to a close. Although there is some foreshadowing throughout The Last Rite, I never saw the end coming. Everything comes full circle, with the sort of great finale that does justice to this epic tale of vampires.

I mention this in every single review: if you are looking for an intriguing blend of Russian historical fiction and paranormal fiction, Kent's Danilov Quintet is definitely what the doctor ordered. If you want to read something different, this series deserves the highest possible recommendation. Indeed, this should intrigue and satisfy even the most jaded genre fiction readers!

The Last Rite is a fitting end to a superior series. Jasper Kent's Danilov Quintet is definitely one of the very best speculative fiction series of the new millennium! Do yourself a favor and read these books!

The final verdict: 8/10

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Brandon Sanderson's The Alloy of Law for only 2.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Fresh from the success of The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson, best known for completing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time®, takes a break to return to the world of the bestselling Mistborn series.

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn, who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

The Pat's Fantasy Hotlist world tour hits the road again!!!

My leave of absence request was accepted, so I'll be spending the whole month of February traveling around the many islands of the Philippines! So if any of you guys will be in Manila, Cebu City, Boracay, or anywhere else where I'll be stopping by, maybe we could go out for a few drinks! ;-)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can get your hands on the digital edition of Brandon Sanderson's Legion: Skin Deep for only 4.44$ here.

Here's the blurb:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, Stephen Leeds is back in a new, double-length novella that Library Journal says has "the pulse of a thriller and the hook of a fascinating hero balancing on the edge of psychosis."

It's not his own genius that Stephen Leeds gets hired for. Clients want to tap into the imaginary experts that populate his mind—and it's getting a bit crowded in there.

Now Stephen and his internal team of "aspects" have been hired to track down a stolen corpse—but it's not the corpse that's important, it's what the corpse knows. The biotechnology company he worked for believes he encoded top-secret information in his DNA before he died, and if it falls into the wrong hands, that will mean disaster.

Meanwhile, Stephen's uneasy peace with his own hallucinations is beginning to fray at the edges, as he strives to understand how one of them could possibly have used Stephen's hand to shoot a real gun during the previous case. And some of those hallucinations think they know better than Stephen just how many aspects his mind should make room for. How long will he be able to hold himself together?

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (November 24th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King's Revival debuts at number 1.

Anne Rice's Prince Lestat is down three positions, ending the week at number 6.

Patrick Rothfuss' The Slow Regard of Silent Things is down five spots, finishing the week at number 10. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Andy Weir's The Martian is down one spot, finishing the week at number 8 (trade paperback)

Star Wars: Episode 7 -- The Force Awakens teaser trailer

Here it is!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

Don't know for how long, but right now you can download Andy Weir's The Martian for only 3.00$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Extract from Brian Staveley’s THE PROVIDENCE OF FIRE

The folks at have just posted an excerpt from Brian Staveley’s The Providence of Fire on their website. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

The Providence of Fire, the second volume in Brian Staveley’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, sees the heirs of the assassinated Emperor of Annur fighting one another as well as the forces that conspired against their father.

Adare has learned the identity of her father’s killer, but she has few allies to challenge the coup against her family. While she rallies the people—who believe her touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire—to help her retake the city, she must face her brother Valyn’s rebel forces. Having allied with nomad forces, he brings war to the Annurian Empire.

Caught in the middle is Adare and Valyn’s brother Kaden, rightful heir to the throne. He has infiltrated the capital with the help of two strange companions, who possess knowledge that may save Annur... or destroy it.

Follow this link to read the first chapter. . .

Win a copy of George R. R. Martin's THE ICE DRAGON

I'm giving away a copy of the new edition of George R. R. Martin's YA novel, The Ice Dragon! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

The Ice Dragon is an enchanting tale of courage and sacrifice for young readers and adults by the wildly popular author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Song of Ice and Fire series, George R.R. Martin. Lavish illustrations by acclaimed artist Luis Royo enrich this captivating and heartwarming story of a young girl and her dragon.

In the world of A Song of Ice and Fire the ice dragon was a creature of legend and fear, for no man had ever tamed one. When it flew overhead, it left in its wake desolate cold and frozen land. But Adara was not afraid. For Adara was a winter child, born during the worst freeze that anyone, even the Old Ones, could remember.

Adara could not remember the first time she had seen the ice dragon. It seemed that it had always been in her life, glimpsed from afar as she played in the frigid snow long after the other children had fled the cold. In her fourth year she touched it, and in her fifth year she rode upon its broad, chilled back for the first time. Then, in her seventh year, on a calm summer day, fiery dragons from the North swooped down upon the peaceful farm that was Adara’s home. And only a winter child—and the ice dragon who loved her—could save her world from utter destruction.

This new edition of The Ice Dragon is sure to become a collector’s item for fans of HBO’s megahit Game of Thrones.

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

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

For a limited time only, you can download the second volume in the Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive, Words of Radiance, for only 3.75$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive sequence began in 2010 with the New York Times bestseller The Way of Kings. Now, the eagerly anticipated Words of Radiance continues the epic story and answers many of your questions.

Six years ago, the Assassin in White, a hireling of the inscrutable Parshendi, assassinated the Alethi king on the very night a treaty between men and Parshendi was being celebrated. So began the Vengeance Pact among the highprinces of Alethkar and the War of Reckoning against the Parshendi.

Now the Assassin is active again, murdering rulers all over the world of Roshar, using his baffling powers to thwart every bodyguard and elude all pursuers. Among his prime targets is Highprince Dalinar, widely considered the power behind the Alethi throne. His leading role in the war would seem reason enough, but the Assassin’s master has much deeper motives.

Expected by his enemies to die the miserable death of a military slave, Kaladin survived to be given command of the royal bodyguards, a controversial first for a low-status "darkeyes." Now he must protect the king and Dalinar from every common peril as well as the distinctly uncommon threat of the Assassin, all while secretly struggling to master remarkable new powers that are somehow linked to his honorspren, Syl.

Brilliant but troubled Shallan strives along a parallel path. Despite being broken in ways she refuses to acknowledge, she bears a terrible burden: to somehow prevent the return of the legendary Voidbringers and the civilization-ending Desolation that will follow. The secrets she needs can be found at the Shattered Plains, but just arriving there proves more difficult than she could have imagined.

Meanwhile, at the heart of the Shattered Plains, the Parshendi are making an epochal decision. Hard pressed by years of Alethi attacks, their numbers ever shrinking, they are convinced by their war leader, Eshonai, to risk everything on a desperate gamble with the very supernatural forces they once fled. The possible consequences for Parshendi and humans alike, indeed, for Roshar itself, are as dangerous as they are incalculable.

The doors of the Stormlight Archive first opened to us with The Way of Kings. Read that book – now available in all formats – and then Words of Radiance, and you can be part of the adventure every dazzling step of the way.

The same can be said about Jim Butcher's Skin Game over here.

Here's the blurb:

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day…

Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.

He doesn’t know the half of it…

Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure horde in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance…

You can also get your hands on Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes for the same price here.

Here's the blurb:

In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands.

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download John R. Fultz's Seven Princes for only 4.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

It is an Age of Legends.

Under the watchful eye of the Giants, the kingdoms of Men rose to power. Now, the Giant-King has slain the last of the Serpents and ushered in an era of untold peace and prosperity. Where a fire-blackened desert once stood, golden cities flourish in verdant fields.

It is an Age of Heroes.

But the realms of Man face a new threat-- an ancient sorcerer slaughters the rightful King of Yaskatha before the unbelieving eyes of his son, young Prince D'zan. With the Giant-King lost to a mysterious doom, it seems that no one has the power to stop the coming storm.

It is an Age of War.

The fugitive Prince seeks allies across the realms of Men and Giants to liberate his father's stolen kingdom. Six foreign Princes are tied to his fate. Only one thing is certain: War is coming.


Some will seek glory.

Some will seek vengeance.

All will be legends.

25% off on limited edition prints by Vincent Chong

Vincent Chong, winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist in 2013, five-time recipient of the British Fantasy Award for Best Artist, shortlisted for a Hugo Award (Best Professional Artist) in 2013, and shortlisted for a British Science Fiction Association Award (Best Artist) in 2008, is having a 25% off sale on his limited edition prints.

Follow this link to take a look at the gorgeous art you can order. . . =)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Rob Ziegler's Seed for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

It's the dawn of the 22nd century, and the world has fallen apart. Decades of war and resource depletion have toppled governments. The ecosystem has collapsed. A new dust bowl sweeps the American West. The United States has become a nation of migrants -starving masses of nomads who seek out a living in desert wastelands and encampments outside government seed-distribution warehouses.

In this new world, there is a new power. Satori is more than just a corporation, she is an intelligent, living city that grew out of the ruins of Denver. Satori bioengineers both the climate-resistant seed that feeds a hungry nation, and her own post-human genetic Designers, Advocates, and Laborers. What remains of the United States government now exists solely to distribute Satori seed; a defeated American military doles out bar-coded, single-use Satori seed to the nation's starving citizens.

When one of Satori's Designers goes rogue, Agent Sienna Doss-Ex-Army Ranger turned glorified bodyguard-is tasked by the government to bring her in: The government wants to use the Designer to break Satori's stranglehold on seed production and reassert themselves as the center of power.

Sianna Doss's search for the Designer intersects with Brood and his younger brother Pollo - orphans scrapping by on the fringes of the wastelands. Pollo is abducted, because he is believed to suffer from Tet, a newly emergent disease, the victims of which are harvested by Satori.

As events spin out of control, Brood and Sienna Doss find themselves at the heart of Satori, where an explosive climax promises to reshape the future of the world.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (November 17th)

In hardcover:

Anne Rice's Prince Lestat maintains its position at number 3.

Patrick Rothfuss' The Slow Regard of Silent Things is down three spots, finishing the week at number 5. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

William Gibson's The Peripheral is down eight positions, ending the week at number 17.

In paperback:

Andy Weir's The Martian is up one spot, finishing the week at number 7 (trade paperback)

George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones returns at number 19.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Gordon R. Dickson's Soldier, Ask Not for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

The black-clad mercenaries of the Friendly planets fought where their employer and their God dictated. On New Earth they pitted their fanaticism against the cold courage of the Dorsai. And the implacable hatred of one man, Tam Olyn. Olyn saw his brother-in-law shot down before his eyes. His quest for vengeance took him across half the civilised worlds, to Cassida and Frieland, to St. Marie and back to New Earth. He met men of all the splinter groups into which mankind had evolved an he used them all to bring about his revenge - until Padma the Exotic taught him how to use his special powers and the frightening knowledge of Final Encyclopaedia.

Win a copy of Katherine Kurtz's THE KING'S DERYNI

I have three copies of Katherine Kurtz's The King's Deryni, compliments of the folks at Ace. For more information on this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Kurtz’s novels of the Deryni have been hailed by Anne McCaffrey as “an incredible historical tapestry of a world that never was and of immensely vital people who ought to be.” Now Kurtz weaves a thrilling conclusion to the epic Childe Morgan trilogy, in which bonds of both magic and loyalty will be put to the ultimate test…

Alaric Morgan always knew his purpose in life—to stand alongside the king of Gwynedd. The old king knew that whichever of his sons succeeded to the throne would benefit from having a Deryni at his side. Alaric and the young Prince Brion Haldane were bound together by magic—a magic to be called upon when Brion was most in need.

Now eighteen, Brion has ascended to the throne and seven-year-old Alaric has come to court. Through the coming years, both will grow to manhood and come to realize their destinies. Brion will strive to solidify his power and position, seek out a bride to secure his legacy, and ultimately, when faced with an unbeatable foe, call upon Alaric to fulfill his oath.

Meanwhile, Alaric slowly learns the extent of his powers and how to use them, and will face the prejudice that many have against Deryni in its ugliest form. He will experience bittersweet first love, great personal loss, and the hard lessons one gains from both. And he will be there to unleash the full power of his Deryni magic at Brion’s command.

For Alaric is—and always will be—the King’s Deryni.

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

GoPro Hero???

Just wanted to know if any of my readers have tried the GoPro Hero camera? I've always wanted something light, waterproof, and simple to use to take with me on my trips.

If you own one or have used one, what do you think? It's only about 120$-150$ (plus the price of a memory card), but I'm wondering if it's worth it?

My digital camera can film in HD, but it doesn't go underwater and it's a bit fragile. The GoPro Hero would remedy that, but I just want to make sure that it's a good buy. . . =)

US cover art and blurb for Mark Lawrence's THE LIAR'S KEY

Mark Lawrence recently unveiled the cover art and blurb for the upcoming The Liar's Key (Canada, USA, Europe).

Here's the blurb:

After harrowing adventure and near-death, Prince Jalan Kendeth and the Viking Snorri ver Snagason find themselves in possession of Loki’s Key, an artefact capable of opening any door, and sought by the most dangerous beings in the Broken Empire—including The Dead King.

Jal wants only to return home to his wine, women, and song, but Snorri has his own purpose for the key: to find the very door into death, throw it wide, and bring his family back into the land of the living.

And as Snorri prepares for his quest to find death’s door, Jal’s grandmother, the Red Queen continues to manipulate kings and pawns towards an endgame of her own design…

Pretty neat, if I may say so myself! ;-)

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on Terry Pratchett's Nation for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

When a giant wave destroys his village, Mau is the only one left. Daphne—a traveler from the other side of the globe—is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Separated by language and customs, the two are united by catastrophe. Slowly, they are joined by other refugees. And as they struggle to protect the small band, Mau and Daphne defy ancestral spirits, challenge death himself, and uncover a long-hidden secret that literally turns the world upside down.

The King's Deryni

I've been a big fan of this series for well over two decades and it's always with great pleasure that I return to the Deryni universe. Now 40+ years in the making, Katherine Kurtz's landmark series seldom fails to satisfy longtime fans. Unfortunately, although she is arguably the mother of historical fantasy, over the years the NYT bestselling Deryni saga has become out of print and thus always harder and harder to find. It's a sad state of affairs, for that means that an entire generation of SFF readers have yet to get acquainted with this classic tale.

Even worst, other than the very first trilogy (which, truth to tell, is by far the weakest in the saga) having been reissued in recent years, what Deryni novels still in print (King Kelson's Bride, In the King's Service, and Childe Morgan) are more or less meant to bridge various gaps in the saga's timeline instead of focusing on new storylines that could perhaps entice new readers to plunge into the Deryni universe and fall in love with it and the great characters that populate its history. Indeed, this latest trilogy doesn't really provide a good jump-in point for newcomers. As a result, because there are no digital editions of the installments which made this a bestselling book sequence, fantasy fans wanting to give the series a shot have no choice but to track down used copies. There are hundreds of them on Amazon and other online retailers, true, but in 2014 this seems to represent a whole lot of legwork to get your hands on quality reads. . .

Here's the blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Kurtz’s novels of the Deryni have been hailed by Anne McCaffrey as “an incredible historical tapestry of a world that never was and of immensely vital people who ought to be.” Now Kurtz weaves a thrilling conclusion to the epic Childe Morgan trilogy, in which bonds of both magic and loyalty will be put to the ultimate test…

Alaric Morgan always knew his purpose in life—to stand alongside the king of Gwynedd. The old king knew that whichever of his sons succeeded to the throne would benefit from having a Deryni at his side. Alaric and the young Prince Brion Haldane were bound together by magic—a magic to be called upon when Brion was most in need.

Now eighteen, Brion has ascended to the throne and seven-year-old Alaric has come to court. Through the coming years, both will grow to manhood and come to realize their destinies. Brion will strive to solidify his power and position, seek out a bride to secure his legacy, and ultimately, when faced with an unbeatable foe, call upon Alaric to fulfill his oath.

Meanwhile, Alaric slowly learns the extent of his powers and how to use them, and will face the prejudice that many have against Deryni in its ugliest form. He will experience bittersweet first love, great personal loss, and the hard lessons one gains from both. And he will be there to unleash the full power of his Deryni magic at Brion’s command.

For Alaric is—and always will be—the King’s Deryni.

As yet another prequel to The Deryni Chronicles trilogy, like its two predecessors The King's Deryni covers a number of years, paving the way for all that's to come. Once again, familiar themes such as Mearan rebels, the Camberian Council's machinations, Torenthi incursions into Gwynedd, the Church's hatred toward Deryni, the separation between Church and State, and a monarch desperately trying to secure his throne and his legacy all feature quite prominently in this new novel. This last volume in the Childe Morgan trilogy focuses on Alaric's formative years and is spread across his childhood and teenage years, as we follow his rise from a young and innocent boy to a page, then a squire, then a knight, all the way to his becoming Duke of Corwyn.

As a matter of course, the author's historian eye for details makes for incredible and vivid worldbuilding. The richness of details and her depiction of medieval life have always been something that characterize Katherine Kurtz's writing. This particular aspect creates a wonderful imagery which brings the world and its protagonists to life in a manner that very few SFF writers can emulate, let alone surpass. Having said that, I'm afraid that at times Kurtz sort of got lost chronicling the minutiae of Alaric and Brion's lives, which had a tendency of breaking the rhythm of the book. This latest installment likely ended up being longer than it should have been and hence it is not paced as adroitly as the first two volumes.

As I mentioned in the past, although Katherine Kurtz's worldbuilding skills are on par with those of gifted fantasy authors such as Steven Erikson, George R. R. Martin, and R. Scott Bakker, it's the characterization which elevates her books over that of the competition and makes the Deryni Saga one of my favorite series of all time. Not unlike Robin Hobb and Guy Gavriel Kay, Kurtz's subtle human touch can pull on those heartstrings when you least expect it. Few of her peers, past and present, have the ability to create such genuine protagonists that you come to love/hate the way Katherine Kurtz can. King Brion and Alaric Morgan take center stage, of course, and yet the tale unfolds through the eyes of a number of other characters, chief among them Sir Kenneth Morgan and Sir Llion Farquahar, Alaric's governor and companion. Given their importance in what is to come, it was a lot of fun to see the interaction between Alaric and Duncan McLain as they grow up.

Most of the extraneous stuff I alluded to was meant to tie up all those loose ends and pave the way for what will take place in Deryni Rising and the rest of the first trilogy. It was also meant to bridge some of the gaps between the King Brion and Kelson's timeline and that focusing on Saint Camber and its aftermath. Amid all the politicking, there are a number of poignant moments in The King's Deryni. Sadly, one needs to sift through a lot of filler material to get to them. As was the case in Childe Morgan, Sir Sé Trelawney, childhood friend of Lady Alyce, Alaric's dead mother, and a fully avowed Knight of the Anvil, somehow manages to steal the show in every scene featuring him.

In the end, The King's Deryni does a good job tying up most of the loose ends to bridge the gaps between the Camber and the Kelson timelines. However, all that filler material, though it serves a purpose, takes a little something away from the overall reading experience. Hence, longtime fans of the series will be happy to revisit the Eleven Kingdoms again. But I doubt that this latest Deryni series can/will reel in lots of newbies.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more information on this title: Canada, USA, Europe

As I mentioned before, I encourage everyone to give the Deryni Saga a shot. Believe you me: You won't be disappointed! Get it from the library, or buy it for peanuts via the links below or at used bookstores. But read it! For the best results, start with The Legends of Camber of Culdi, followed by The Heirs of Saint Camber. If it's your cup of tea, you'll need no further encouragement to read the rest of the Deryni Saga!

The Chronicles of the Deryni

- Deryni Rising (Canada, USA, Europe)

- Deryni Checkmate (Canada, USA, Europe)

- High Deryni (Canada, USA, Europe)

The Legends of Camber of Culdi

- Camber of Culdi (Canada, USA, Europe)

- Saint Camber (Canada, USA, Europe)

- Camber the Heretic (Canada, USA, Europe)

The Histories of King Kelson

- The Bishop's Heir (Canada, USA, Europe)

- The King's Justice (Canada, USA, Europe)

- The Quest for Saint Camber (Canada, USA, Europe)

The Heirs of Saint Camber

- The Harrowing of Gwynedd (Canada, USA, Europe)

- King Javan's Year (Canada, USA, Europe)

- The Bastard Prince (Canada, USA, Europe)

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

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

Childe Morgan (Canada, USA, Europe)

Deryni Anthologies

- The Deryni Archives (Canada, USA, Europe)

- Deryni Magic (Canada, USA, Europe)

- Deryni Tales (Canada, USA, Europe)

For more information about this genre-defining historical fantasy series, check out the wikipage devoted to the Deryni saga.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (November 10th)

In hardcover:

Patrick Rothfuss' The Slow Regard of Silent Things debuts at number 2. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Anne Rice's Prince Lestat debuts at number 3.

William Gibson's The Peripheral debuts at number 9.

In paperback:

Andy Weir's The Martian debuts at number 8 (trade paperback)

Ilona Andrews' Burn for Me debuts at number 14.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can download Neil Gaiman's Stardust for only 3.79$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman comes a remarkable quest into the dark and miraculous—in pursuit of love and the utterly impossible.

David Hair contest winner!

Our winner will receive copies of David Hair's Scarlet Tides and its predecessor, Mage's Blood, compliments of the folks at Jo Fletcher Books. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Linette Weiss, from Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now get your hands on Peter David's Artful: A Novel for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Oliver Twist is one of the most well-known stories ever told, about a young orphan who has to survive the mean streets of London before ultimately being rescued by a kindly benefactor.

But it is his friend, the Artful Dodger, who has the far more intriguing tale, filled with more adventure and excitement than anything boring Oliver could possibly get up to. Throw in some vampires and a plot to overthrow the British monarchy, and what you have is the thrilling account that Charles Dickens was too scared to share with the world.

From the brilliant mind of novelist and comic book veteran Peter David, Artful is the dark, funny, and action-packed story of one of the most fascinating characters in literary history.

With vampires.

A bit of humor

Just saw this on and it made me laugh! After posting both the video on female harassment and then the one on male harassment the following week on my Facebook page, it was nice to see this funny take on the issue. . . =)

Turkish military forces to ban Game of Thrones


The hit HBO series "Game of Thrones" is no stranger to controversy. The fantasy drama, based on the novels of George R. R. Martin, is known for its grisly violence and explicit sex, including one episode which had some viewers convinced they had witnessed both rape and incest.

The lurid nature of the show has led it to being partially censored in China. And, according to a report in the Turkish paper Hurriyet Daily News, it's now being banned in the country's military academies.

The Turkish Armed Forces has updated its set of regulations for the high school academies that it administers, inserting an article in the chapter for "protection of students." It advises a ban on screening films or shows that depict "sexual exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, abuse, harassment and all negative behaviors." Hurriyet cites "Game of Thrones" as one of the main culprits.

Alongside this addition to the regulations is another more telling one: the introduction of classes on Islam for the first time in military schools. Students can sign up for courses on "basic religious education, the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad."

Follow this link to read the full article.

Patrick Rothfuss contest winner!

Thanks to the generosity of the great folks at Daw Books, this lucky gal will receive a copy of Patrick Rothfuss' The Slow Regard of Silent Things! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Liz Steyer, from Currituck, North Carolina, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

You can now download Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors for only 3.79$ here.

Here's the blurb:

In the deft hands of Neil Gaiman, magic is no mere illusion . . . and anything is possible. In Smoke and Mirrors, Gaiman's imagination and supreme artistry transform a mundane world into a place of terrible wonders—where an old woman can purchase the Holy Grail at a thrift store, where assassins advertise their services in the Yellow Pages under "Pest Control," and where a frightened young boy must barter for his life with a mean-spirited troll living beneath a bridge by the railroad tracks. Explore a new reality, obscured by smoke and darkness yet brilliantly tangible, in this extraordinary collection of short works by a master prestidigitator. It will dazzle your senses, touch your heart, and haunt your dreams.

The Problem of Karsa Orlong by Steven Erikson

Bestselling fantasy author Steven Erikson just wrote an essay on The Malazan Book of the Fallen's most divisive character among readers, Karsa Orlong. It's a very interesting read that should appeal to all Malazan fans out there! Here's a teaser:

Consider this an essay, then. The problem posed by Karsa and how readers perceive him will, for me, find its answers from a range of angles; from the Fantasy genre itself, to anthropology, history, cultural identity and its features, to the structure of the series (and the novel in question) and, eventually, to the expectations that fantasy readers bring to a fantasy novel. You may note something of an ellipse in that list, but that’s how I think so bear with me.

Historically within the genre the role of the ‘barbarians’ has roughly split into two morally laden strains. On the one hand they are the ‘dark horde’ threatening civilization; while on the other they are the savage made noble by the absence of civilization. In the matter of Karsa Orlong, we can for the moment disregard the former and concentrate instead on the noble savage trope—such barbarians are purer of spirit, unsullied and uncorrupt; while their justice may be rough, it is still just. One could call it the ‘play-ground wish-fulfillment’ motif, where prowess is bound to fairness and punishment is always righteous. The obvious, almost definitive example of this is R.E.Howard’s Conan, but we can take a more fundamental approach and consider this ‘barbarian’ trope as representing the ‘other,’ but a cleaned-up version intended to invite sympathy. In this invitation there must be a subtle compact between creator and reader, and to list its details can be rather enlightening, so here goes.

We are not the ‘other,’ and this barbarian’s world is therefore exotic, even as it harkens back to a pre-civilized, Edenic proximity. The barbarian’s world is a harsh one, a true struggle for existence, but this struggle is what hones proper virtues (‘proper’ in the sense of readily agreeable virtues, such as loyalty, courage, integrity, and the value of honest labour). Against this we need an opposing force; in this case ‘civilization,’ characterized by deceit, decadence, conspiracy, and consort with evil forces including tyranny: civilization represents, therefore, the loss of freedom (with slavery the most direct manifestation of that, brutally represented in chains and other forms of imprisonment). In essence, then, we as readers are invited to the side of the ‘other,’ the one standing in opposition to civilization. Yet… we readers are ‘civilized.’ We are, in fact, the decadent products of a culture that has not only accepted the loss of freedom, but in fact codifies that loss to ease our discomfort (taxes, wage-slavery, etc). In this manner, we are offered the ‘escapist’ gift of Fantasy; but implicit in this is the notion that a) we need to escape; and b) that civilization is, at its core, evil.


So, how does all this relate to Karsa Orlong? Well, as has been noted, there was something of the need to prove that I could sustain a single narrative going on (or so I recall, the sense of being pissed off about something is always short-lived and usually ephemeral, although the answer to it can prove far-reaching, as is certainly the case with Karsa); but obviously more was going on. I wanted to address the fantasy trope of the ‘barbarian’ (from the north, no less, and isn’t it curious how so many heroic barbarians come down from the north?), but do so in recognition of demonstrable truths about warrior-based societies, as expressed in that intractable sense of superiority and its arrogant expression; and in recognizing the implicit ‘invitation’ to the reader (into a civilization-rejecting, civilization-hating barbarian ‘hero’), I wanted to, via a very close and therefore truncated point of view, make it damned uncomfortable in its ‘reality,’ and thereby comment on what I saw (and see) as a fundamentally nihilistic fantasy trope: the pure and noble barbarian. Because, whether recognized or not, that fantasy barbarian hero constitutes a rather backhanded attack on the very civilization that produces people with the leisure time to read (and read escapist literature at that).

Within the scope of Karsa’s culture, he holds to his code of integrity and honour, even if they are initially friable in their assumptions (but then, so are all of our assumptions about ‘us’ and about the ‘other’). We observe the details of that culture, revealed bit by bit—with plenty of hints as to its flawed beliefs—and with each detail, we as readers are pushed further away from our own civilized sensibilities.


Escapism is seductive, and what it might reveal about us is not always pleasant on reflection: it comes down to the flavours we prefer, the paths we find most inviting to our more fundamental belief systems—whether self-articulated or not, and that alone is enough to make any thinking person shiver.

Karsa is all of that stripped bare; and in turn he infuriates, shocks, and on occasion makes the jaw drop in disbelief. But he is also the reality of the ‘barbaric’ and so represents an overt rejection of the romanticized, fantasized barbarian trope. Some people don’t like that. Fair enough.


The Malazan Book does not offer readers the escapism into any romantic notions of barbarism, or into a world of pure, white knight Good, and pure, black tyrant Evil. In fact, probably the boldest claim to escapist fantasy my series makes, is in offering up a world where we all have power, no matter our station, no matter our flaws and weaknesses—we all have power.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll escape into that world every chance I can.

Follow this link to read the entire essay.

Cibola Burn

I've said it before and I'll say it again: In my humble opinion, James S. A. Corey's Hugo-nominated and 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 like Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds.

In every installment thus far, Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, the two authors behind this letter-filled pseudonym, have managed to raise the bar even higher. Hence, I was looking forward to reading this fourth volume and discover if Cibola Burn would be pushing the envelope even more! But sadly, it was not to be. For some reason, the authors elected to forgo the formula that made the first three books such memorable reads and tried a different approach which didn't work as well. At least as far as I'm concerned. . .

Here's the blurb:


"An empty apartment, a missing family, that's creepy. But this is like finding a military base with no one on it. Fighters and tanks idling on the runway with no drivers. This is bad juju. Something wrong happened here. What you should do is tell everyone to leave."

The gates have opened the way to a thousand new worlds and the rush to colonize has begun. Settlers looking for a new life stream out from humanity's home planets. Ilus, the first human colony on this vast new frontier, is being born in blood and fire.

Independent settlers stand against the overwhelming power of a corporate colony ship with only their determination, courage, and the skills learned in the long wars of home. Innocent scientists are slaughtered as they try to survey a new and alien world. The struggle on Ilus threatens to spread all the way back to Earth.

James Holden and the crew of his one small ship are sent to make peace in the midst of war and sense in the midst of chaos. But the more he looks at it, the more Holden thinks the mission was meant to fail.

And the whispers of a dead man remind him that the great galactic civilization that once stood on this land is gone. And that something killed it.

The main problem with Cibola Burn is that it appears to be some sort of interlude between the opening chapters and what will occur in subsequent installments. Previous volumes were sprawling space opera affairs that hit all the right buttons. This novel is much more limited in scope and is more of a transitional work.

The worldbuilding has always been one of my favorite aspects of this series. Unfortunately, by taking a step backward and limiting the scope of Cibola Burn, this particular facet leaves something to be desired this time around. And given how great the worldbuilding turned out to be in the first three volumes, this could be nothing but a disappointment. The politicking, so prevalent and intricately woven through the storylines in the past, is more or less absent in this novel. Or, more exactly, it takes place behind the scene as the Ilus situation escalates and is micromanaged by the powers that be. The payoff at the end is nowhere near as good as in previous installments. Even worse, after going through nearly 600 pages, the Avasarala epilogue reveals that the entire "interlude" that is Cibola Burn was meant to show that with this new frontier open to all comers, the powerful Martian space fleet, with their home planet soon to become a ghost town, will probably go to the highest bidder and might spark the first interstellar military conflict. The corporate power vs "innocent" squatters stand-off was interesting at first, but there was no way it could sustain a book of this size. Moreover, not known to take the path of least resistance, the authors occasionally went for the easy way out, which was kind of sloppy. All in all, this made for a less-than-engaging plot compared to the more far-reaching and multilayered plotlines that characterized the earlier volumes.

In the past, the stakes became higher as the tale progressed, with tension rising with each new chapter. The Expanse reached new heights with every new installment, gradually becoming a very complex science fiction tale. Which boded well for what came next, no doubt about it. Which makes me wonder, what with the series having gained such momentum, the authors decided to activate the hand-brake, so to speak, and pretty much bring everything to some sort of standstill for the duration of a novel.

What saved this book was the characterization. In that respect, at least, Cibola Burn is as good as its predecessors. Once again, do-gooder Holden is back as a POV character. Both sides of the conflict are perceived by men and women opposing one another lightyears away from their own civilization. Basia is one of the original and illegal colonists, while Elvi is one of the scientists traveling to study this new planet. Havelock, a security officer working on the ship bringing in the scientists and other people traveling to Ilus with a UN charter, is probably the most interesting protagonist in the novel. The protomolecule also has a POV of sorts which is linked to Miller's interactions with Holden. As mentioned, though the overall plot can be disappointing at times, the characterization continues to shine through.

Abaddon's Gate was paced in a way that made you beg for more, always promising yourself to read just another chapter, again and again. A veritable page-turner, that book was almost impossible to put down. On the other hand, Cibola Burn suffers from an extremely uneven pace and the rhythm does slow down and drag quite often. Our interest is piqued when Miller reveals new information about the ancient civilization which created the Ring and everything else. And yet, those sequences are few and far between, and we soon realize that the bulk of the story has to do with the conflict between the colonists and the corporation chartered to take possession of the planet.

Vast in scope and vision, the Expanse seemed destined to become one of the very best space opera series of all time. Well, sadly, Cibola Burn failed to live up to the lofty expectations generated by its predecessors. A good read in its own right, true, yet nowhere near as remarkable as the first three installments. The ending does open up the door for great things to come, but it remains to be seen if the authors can recapture the magic which made the first books so awesome.

The final verdict: 7.75/10

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