The Geomancer


A Whole New World...

Robert William Berg has written a very articulate analysis of Mark Chadbourn's Age of Misrule trilogy (World's End,Darkest Hour,Always Forever),and in so doing, he puts his finger on what I was first drawn to about the series:
What Chadbourn has done is take the framework of The Lord of the Rings and set a similar quest in modern day Britain. Tolkien’s work was a celebration of Celtic and British mythology. He was attempting, in the manner of an archeologist/historian to create a credible retelling and homage of his homeland’s mythology, through intricate, meticulous research. Chadbourn’s series springs from a similar impulse, but instead of reinvisioning the past, he lifts the mythology, wholecloth, and drops it into the present. The Lord of the Rings is, ultimately, the tale of how magic gradually began to leave the everyday world. Age of Misrule is the tale of how it returned. And there is no better setting than Britain, which seems to be one of the few places in the world that not only still has a rich mythological tradition but still has areas that have been all but untouched by the modern day, where one can travel an hour away from a modern, bustling city and find oneself at a medieval castle or abbey or even Stonehenge.
I told Mark he has to take me on a walking tour one day, but only if he can guarantee we won't return and find 100 years have magically passed...


For Your Viewing Pleasure: Sasha (A Trial of Blood and Steel)

Cover Illustration © David Palumbo
Design by Grace M. Conti-Zilsberger

Spurning her royal heritage to be raised by the great warrior, Kessligh, her exquisite swordplay astonishes all who witness it. But Sasha is still young, untested in battle and often led by her rash temper. In the complex world of Lenayin loyalties, her defiant wilfulness is attracting the wrong kind of attention.

Lenayin is a land almost divided by its two faiths: the Verenthane of the ruling classes and the pagan Goeren-yai, amongst whom Sasha now lives. The Goeren-yai worship swordplay and honour and begin to see Sasha as the great spirit—the Synnich—who will unite them. But Sasha is still searching for what she believes and must choose her side carefully.

When the Udalyn people—the symbol of Goeren-yai pride and courage—are attacked, Sasha will face her moment of testing. How will she act? Is she ready to lead? Can she be the saviour they need her to be?


For Your Viewing Pleasure: This Crooked Way (Full Jacket, Revised)

This Crooked Way© James Enge
Cover Illustration © Dominic Harman
Design by Jacqueline Cooke

Note the title font's color has switched from black to a pale yellow gold. Makes all the difference.


Adventuring with Kay Kenyon

I really love listening to articulate authors talk about what they do. One of my favorite interviews in a while is this recent podcast with City without Endauthor Kay Kenyon on Shaun Farrell's magnificent, recently-returned-from-hiatus Adventures in SciFi Publishing. They discuss "blending science fiction and fantasy tropes, propaganda versus fiction, and assuming the mind of Evil." Very well worth your valuable time.

Do You Want to Date My Avatar?


What's the best cover art for Vance's Lyonesse?

Not stricly Pyr-related, this; but I know Lou has a more than merely professional interest in good cover-art. So: I've been writing an afterword for the Gollancz reprint of Jack Vance's Lyonesse trilogy, and in an odd moment I was curious as to how previous publishers have illustrated this masterpiece of stylish, ormolu, witty, beautiful, Vancean High Fantasy. Over on my other blog I discuss the various images, but here they are again. Which do you reckon does the best job?


the pleasure of an intelligent, skillful writer amusing himself and us.

William Mingin's review, just posted on Strange Horizons, of James Enge's Blood of Ambrose,is one of the most elegant and articulate reviews I've read in a long time. He manages a fairly detailed analysis of the text, while avoiding major spoilers (or any reveals of the suprises that occur regularly from the midpoint of the text on), while at the same time engaging the novel in a way that let's the reader understand clearly what works for him, what doesn't, and what puzzles (sometimes in a good way.) I really enjoyed reading the review for its own sake. That it is also positive is a bonus. He writes:
...the salient characteristic of this book, and of all Enge's Morlock stories—which is almost all his published writing to date—is the sheer pleasure of reading it. The difficulty for the critic is in pinning down exactly whence that arises.

Reading is intellectual but also sensuous, partly because, as brain research now seems to show, it sets up a sort of alternate reality experience in the mind, partly because it's constructed of language. The pleasures of language, in sound, structure, and story, resonate deeply—as do those of invention and wonder.

There's a kind of literately sensuous pleasure in Enge's writing—not so much sentence by sentence, of the sort found in Shakespeare, Mervyn Peake, and Raymond Chandler—to pick a wide range—but in his storytelling, including his writing per se, his sense of humor, his cleverness, and his power of invention. It's a very taking kind of pleasure that kept me reading gratefully, and would have kept me if he had gone on longer than he did (this book is much shorter than the usual doorstop fantasy)—the pleasure of an intelligent, skillful writer amusing himself and us.

Meanwhile, to answer some of Mr Mingin's questions: We left off a map in the first book because the story centers around and largely remains in one city (with a few excursions). However the second book, This Crooked Way,sees Morlock visiting a lot more locales, and so we have a map in it (and, drawn by Chuck Lukacs, it's a thing of beauty. Sort of Led Zeppelin meets Tolkien). There is also some explanation of how this world connects to our own in that book's appendices. As to the chronology, Enge has worked out Morlock's life across quite a few centuries. Some of the stories you reference take place immediately following Blood of Ambrose, while others take place many centuries later (and one or two before). But yes, that's the same "magical book in the palindromic script of ancient Ontil."