Meanwhile, here's what they are saying about our books:
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald: “McDonald flawlessly weaves the different characters and plotlines together with a masterful touch as he draws upon current events to chart the probable future of Turkey. The protagonists are fully developed against the backdrop of the vividly imagined city of Istanbul while emerging technology holds the potential to change everything. Sci-fi just doesn’t get much better then this.” -Monsters and Critics, September 25, 2010
Blood of Ambrose by James Enge: “Blood of Ambrose is slick, weaving a dark tale of despair and death as our heroes struggle to save their kingdom and, as the book moves forward, the entire continent as a darker and far more dangerous adversary is revealed. Enge’s style is more show than tell and for Blood of Ambrose this works magically as the Two Cities of the Ontilian Empire seem to breathe life throughout the pages…It seemed too soon when I reached the end, so well had Enge penned this barbaric and epic tale. I fully understand now why the book was recently nominated for Best Fantasy Book of the Year.”-Shiny book Review, September 16, 2010
The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie: “Three days of rabid reading later, if there is one word that should unequivocally never, ever be used to describe The Blade Itself, that word would be ordinary. This is the type of book that spoils you, the kind of book that makes nearly everything else on your bookshelf look mediocre, the kind of thing that could forever wreck “ordinary” fantasy for you…Maybe my inner geek is showing, but reading The Blade Itself put me a little in the mind of watching the original Star Wars movie.” -The Little Red Reviewer blog, September 21, 2010
The Cardinal’s Blades by Pierre Pevel: “…this is a wildly entertaining read with delightfully broken characters. Were I ten again, I'd be running around the park with sticks, pretending to be the half-dragon Saint-Lucq. Also like Dumas, The Cardinal's Blades isn't "great literature" - there aren't deeper themes or higher ideals at stake: this is a book of swashbuckling excess, and should be celebrated as such.” -Pornokitsch.com, September 17, 2010
Translated by Tom Clegg
Cover Illustration © Jon Sullivan
Design by Jacqueline Cooke
“Bold and completely absorbing, Pevel’s English language debut is exciting stuff.” Total Sci-Fi Online
Welcome to seventeenth century Paris, where intrigue, duels and spies are rife and Cardinal Richelieu’s agents may be prevailed upon to risk life and limb in the name of France at a moment’s notice. And with war on the horizon, the defense of the nation has never been more pressing.
Danger is rising from the south--an insidious plot which could end with a huge dragon- shaped shadow falling over France. A shadow cast by dragons quite unlike the pet dragonets which roam the cities like stray cats, or the tame wyverns men ride like horses, high over the Parisian rooftops. These dragons and their descendants are ancient, terrible and powerful... and their plans contain little room for the lives or freedom of puny humans.
Cardinal Richelieu has nowhere else to turn; Captain La Fargue and his elite group of agents, the Cardinal’s Blades, must turn the tide. They must hold the deadly Black Claw cult at bay, root out traitors to the crown, rescue prisoners, and fulfill their mission for the Cardinal, for their country, but above all for themselves.
It’s death or victory. And the victory has never been less certain.
I don't know how things are in the USA, but in the UK the seeds planted in the mind of many a small child on February 26th 1977 are now bearing fruit in writers of every sort of alternative fiction. That was the day when the first issue (prog, as it was described) of 2000 AD first hit the streets. I was eight years old. Now I'm in my forties and letting the dark things that lurk somewhere in the recesses of my memory seep out into my work. There's nothing as straightforward as the wonderful cameo by Max Normal in Russell T. Davies' Doctor Who episode Gridlock, but there was one 2000 AD story that has to be acknowledged as an inspiration for my first novel Twelve. The connection may be surprising, since 2000 AD was a science fiction comic, and I don't (currently) write science fiction. But this particular comic strip wasn't SF – it was pure horror.
Fiends of the Eastern Front, by Gerry Finley-Day and Carlos Ezquerra, débuted in Prog 158. By then I was twelve. I'd never read it since then, but when the idea for a vampire story set during Napoleon's invasion of Russia came to me I immediately remembered what a powerful combination vampires and war make. Fiends was set on the eastern front in World War Two, with a mysterious squad of Romanian soldiers fighting alongside the Germans. It's the obvious location for such a story – the cold and the long nights providing the perfect environment for vampires to hunt. I quite deliberately didn't go back to look at the comic strip when I was writing Twelve, and it was in fact only last week – now that I'm three books into the quintet – that I got round to it. It's a reflection of modern life (and my indolence) that it was easier to order a bound single volume online than venture into the loft and pick out all the relevant editions from my hoarded comic collection.
I'd been fairly sure that I hadn't been ripping it off wholesale, and I was pleased to find no surprises on that front. The only idea that I knowingly took from Fiends, though it's a widespread piece of folklore, was that a vampire could be killed by decapitation. I could even recall the exact wording of the commentary: 'There are many ways to kill a vampire. Decapitation is one of them.' I think that's echoed in Aleksei's words in Twelve when he first kills one of the voordalaki by that means: 'Ever since Iuda had mentioned it, I had been itching to try decapitation as a method for despatching one of these creatures.'
As it happens, and I'd forgotten, the vampires in Fiends conform to just about every bit of folklore that there is: they don't like garlic or crosses; they can transform into bats and wolves; they can't cross fresh water; they can be killed by silver bullets. None of those characteristics applies to the voordalaki of my novels. One notable difference is that my vampires can be killed by fire, where those in Fiends cannot. Again, that was one of the few things I specifically remembered, and remembered almost exactly Captain Constanta's words when he revealed himself to have survived being incinerated by a flamethrower: 'Cringu told you I can grow from the smallest speck – even from ashes, you fool!' I made a definite decision that that was too unphysical for the world I was creating.
So I was well aware of the general connection between Twelve and Fiends of the Eastern Front – vampires fighting in a human war – and I knew a few specific characteristics that I'd chosen to use or ignore. However, there were two connections between the stories which I noticed on rereading Fiends that I had completely forgotten. Whether they come down to coincidence or subconscious recollection is hard to say.
The first is in the specificity of numbers. As the title suggests, Twelve is about twelve vampires, and much of the story involve the hero, Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov, picking them off one by one. In the opening of Fiends its hero, Hans Schmitt, is found dead and entombed and on the walls of the cellar he has drawn the silhouettes of ten vampires. He gets through them rather quicker than Aleksei, managing to kill seven of them in one assault. For me, the number came from the fact that I wanted to name my creatures after the apostles – so I suppose we should blame my childhood reading of the Bible, rather than of 2000AD, for that.
But the most surprising thing was the discovery that, like Twelve, Fiends was written in the first person. I'm often asked why I chose to write in the first person and I can't say anything other than it simply seemed right. The decision has a major impact on plotting, and in subsequent books I've not found it possible to put together an entire story from one viewpoint. You might think it difficult though for a comic strip – a medium in which the fourth wall is so evident – to be written in the first person. Fiends, however, is told mostly through the diary of Hans Schmidt, discovered with his body in the cellar in Berlin in the present day (as 1980 was described at the time). Thus every caption is, unlike most strips, part of a first person narrative. Again it could be coincidence, but I suspect that format may have influenced me.
So what next? Will one of my novels feature a character loosely based on Walter the Wobot, Judge Dredd's irritating sidekick? I doubt it, but it can't be denied that 2000 AD has been an inspiration to me as a writer. And I bet I'm not the only one.
Splundig Vur Thrigg.
|Art by Jon Sullivan|
"The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack is the extraordinary debut from British writer Mark Hodder. This exciting tale of Victorian London gone wild makes for a nearly perfect read. Hodder’s first book is smart, witty and as fun as a novel can ever be. Already I can say that this book is easily among my top reads of the year. It also is the beginning of an all new series, Burton & Swinburne, which promises many great things. If Pyr’s immensely beautiful cover design wasn’t enough to convince you to read this then let this do so: The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack is one hell of a debut. Actually, no, scratch that. It is one f***ing hell of a debut. ...Hodder’s debut is genius. I don’t think there are very many other ways to put it. His plotting is intricate and intriguing, his voice is superb, the characters are engaging and original and all of it is so unexpectedly fun. There is no better adjective to describe such all-around greatness. Genius. Don’t come into this book expecting any less." -LEC Book Reviews
|US cover by Michael Komarck|
"Shadow's Son is attention grabbing, fast paced, and an overall stand out fantasy novel...takes fantasy to its original roots with a great storyline, quick paced plot flow, some really great fight scenes and enjoyable characters...Jon Sprunk shows that not all fantasy novels need to be doorstoppers to be good. Shadow's Son is easily one of my favorite books of 2010 and I look forward to seeing what Sprunk can add to this trilogy." --Fantasy Book Critic
You can download the episode on iTunes or listen to it at the direct link.
|Black Gate, Issue 14|
|"Written with care and intelligence..."|
Meanwhile, The Washington Post is even more positive, saying, "Written with care and intelligence, The Dervish House whirls along at a heady pace but still manages to give a deep sense of another place that would be great to visit -- so long as you didn't have to live there"
|The Pyr booth, before opening.|
|The Electric Boogaloo.|
|Middle Earth Mardi Gras|
|Yep yep yep...uh huh uh huh!|
|You will buy my book|
|Monday Morning - not even over!|
One of the most amazing things to me personally was how effective the Pyr Sampler Book was. Most of them disappeared on Friday, and Saturday morning, literally scores of people came up to us (that day and all the other days too actually) saying they'd read the Sampler Book and they wanted to pick up this book or that book. I was astounded. We assumed people would take these things home to peruse them at their leisure. But they read them Friday night? "Weren't you out there drinking with the 65,000 other people?" I asked one young guy, who didn't seem like the type to pass on this Toklienesque Fort Lauderdale. "Yeah, man," he replied. "I drank till 3:30am, then came back drunk and read your book until 5am. Can I get Tome of the Undergates?
|Dinner with the Winner!|
|The Amazing Clay and Susan Griffith.|
|"I know this music."|
|Sprunk, Anders, Sykes.|
|James Enge wants you.|
Sunday night was another dinner at Max Lager's, where I got to sit down and spend real time with James Enge, and then it was off to the Marriott first and then the Hyatt for more beer. I ended the evening sitting between Mike Resnick on my right and Todd Lockwood on my left. Mike was giving agent advice to my friend David Alastair Hayden and Todd was giving artistic advice to Randall Ian Mackey, my friend and cousin's husband, who is looking to launch a career in concept illustration. It was really gratifying to just sit there and watch my friends help my friends.
|Cooper, a trooper.|
|Bats and Cats|
And that really characterized the convention for me. With a "Little Help From My Friends" could have been the theme song. I had never met Sprunk, Sykes, the Griffiths, Marmell, or Enge before and now they are all fast friends. Clay remarked one evening when I thanked him for all the help in the booth "We felt like we were part of the Marvel Bullpen during the high Silver Age!" We learned a lot, and we could run an even better booth next year based on these learnings, but what I really learned was that we have the greatest authors and friends in the whole wide world. And that, as long as they are there with you, the Mardis Gras of Middle Earth is a great place to be.
Mike Resnick has published more than 60 speculative fiction novels and 250 short stories. Resnick's novels include Santiago, The Outpost, the Widowmaker series, and the Starship series. He has edited more than forty anthologies, often supporting new authors, and served as the Executive Editor of Jim Baen's Universe and the science fiction editor for Benbella Books. He has written multiple columns dealing with the business of writing, with his dialogues with Barry Malzberg recently collected in The Business of Science Fiction, one of many non-fiction books he has published. Resnick has won five Hugo Awards and a Nebula Award as well as Japanese, French, Spanish, Polish, and Croatian science fiction awards.
|Art by Paul Young|
Tome of the Undergates is Pirates of the Caribbean with a darker, more cynical edge. Fans of Michael Moorcock and Glen Cook will find the same kind of cynicism and darkness, but so till will readers of David Eddings find the levity that was so characteristic of his work. It is juxtaposition, but Sykes treads the line well, making Tome of the Undergates recommended reading for fans of Joe Abercrombie or Scott Lynch." Grasping for the Wind
“…this is a very solid beginning to what promises to be an epic storyline. Sykes writes with a wry humor; there is intense fighting action to be found here, certainly, and a complex plot filled with unexpected twists, but the underlying depraved sense of humor is undeniable. This series has great potential.” Sacramento Book Review
Stalking the Dragon by Mike Resnick
|Art by David Palumbo|
Booklist just gave the debut novel a starred review, saying, "The usual superlatives for really clever fantasy (imaginative, mind-bending, phantasmagorical) aren't nearly big enough for this debut novel. With this one book, Hodder has put himself on the genre map. ...Hodder had brilliantly combined various genre staples--time travel, alternate reality, steampunk--into something you've never quite seen before. ....The book is incredibly ambitious, andthe author pulls it off like an old pro: not only is the setting exciting and fresh, the story is thrilling and full of surprises."
|Art by Paul Young|
“I recommend this for fans of history that would like a twist of supernatural entwined with it or for those who would like to escape the more stereotypical romantic vampire stories out there...I rate this one a strong 4.5 stars. It is a very good debut work and I am looking forward to reading the sequels.” Night Owl Reviews
“A gang of bloodthirsty vampires operating as partisans against the invading French army, both in its investment of Moscow and its long, and long-suffering, retreat—I don't know about you, but that setup makes my mouth water… the moral dimension of the novel flowers—and it's that dimension which really distinguishes this book from typical vampire fare…Twelve is a strong and original debut by a talented young writer who brings fresh psychological and moral sophistication to his subject.” Realms of Fantasy, December 2010
|Art by Stephan Martiniere|
"Nothing says steampunk quite as much as a train pulled by a steam engine. And nothing says science fiction quite as much as a story set on Mars. Mix the two together, and you have Ares Express.
...McDonald’s visions are grand and his prose is lyrical enough to depict them the way they deserve. Ares Express takes the reader to a new and delightfully wonderful world; you’ll decidedly want to go along for this ride." Analog
Ghosts of Manhattan by George Mann
|Art by Benjamin Carre|
|Art by Todd Lockwood|
“I continue to think this is an underrated series that more people should be reading, especially if you make it to Book Two, The Twilight Herald. And to repeat myself again, fans of James Barclay and Steven Erikson will feel right at home in this series. I mean, this is a series so far that just screams "EPIC!".” Genre Reader
“Dark and violent without ever being particularly gloomy Lloyd’s fiction makes for exciting reading that leaves one hungry for more.” King of the Nerds