Promise of Blood

Synopsis

The cover says, ‘THE AGE OF KINGS IS DEAD…AND I HAVE KILLED IT,’ which is quite a statement to make. And to be fair it’s not an understatement. Field Marshal Tamas’s coup in of the nation of Adro, one of the Nine kingdoms, results in the death of the monarch and the layer of aristocrat. But it also results in the death of his royal kabal of Privileged, magic users who are there to keep the King safe (they didn’t do a good job on this occassion). Though they aren’t the only magic users there are lesser users like powder mages and those with a knack.

The trouble is that it’s the powder mages, who are mostly military and of whom Tamas is one, may have saved Adro from being sold out to their neighbours, but the end of the Age of Kings causes its own problems.

Comments/Thoughts/Analysis

Let’s get this out of the way. I had a great time reading this book.  I’m having a really good run of varied reading; Equations of Life, Poison, The Panopticon, The City of Silk and Steel, The Universe of Alex Woods and I’m happy to add Promise of Blood to the list.

What’s different? Guns and magic! I honestly didn’t think I’d get excited about someone else’s gun fetish but McClellan’s narration drew me in. He has structured his story in such a way that it is compelling from the opening chapter. He weaves three main threads; an investigation each of the kabal’s dying words, his son’s hunt for a rogue privileged and Tama’s own struggles in powers. But even those seeds grow and each of their roles change as the story unfolds.

I’m aware that one person’s fresh voice is another’s cliché but I’m also aware that my tolerance for certain epic fantasy stories is low so to be drawn in and excited by a fantasy novel is a refreshing thing. McClellan really does have a skilled storytellers eye for lingering in the right places for the right time before looking elsewhere. It’s a dangerous thing to do to leave one thread just as it’s in full swing only to leap to another and invariably you think you’d like to keep going rather than leave it.

I never felt that. I did think that a couple of times the leaps didn’t flow from one moment in one thread to the same or future moment but instead they felt they were going backwards (I could be wrong). But even so the whole thing held together. Each thread was worthy of the attention it got and each was packed with twists and turns. I enjoyed each of them equally for different reasons. The treat that Tama’s faces leading a country, the underside met by his investigator and the action that his son provides hunting.

All the characters are multifaceted. McClellan is good with giving characters something worthwhile to do. They serve the story. Some more than others obviously but even the minor characters are interesting for example a maid we meet at the start plays an important role at several key moments which are unbeknown to her moments before they happen.

As I was reading I didn’t have any major problems with portrayal of any of the characters apart from a niggle to do with the ’slave-girl’ Ka-poel. She’s a mute, a ‘savage’ and her magic is not understood by those around her. She accompanies Tamas’s son on his missions and when she does she looks after him, mostly via magic. I only had the niggle because of something that happens later on.

McClellan shows women in various roles and strata of society but it does have an old school flavour to it. The society is a conservative one. It’s a book about the men (thanks Neil) and their fights and struggles dominate, though as I said the maid’s story is a powerful in minor thread and could well turn into something else but even that it is about a male character.

So while I didn’t have any issues while reading it on reflection it could and probably should have taken more risks to displace the social model it based itself on. The women have a valuable role in the story but not in their own society, at least that their power isn’t their own as they facilitate the males at each and every turn.

 Summary

Where does this leave me? I have a quandary. If I’d read and moved on then I’d have been left with feeling I’d enjoyed an amazing book. And I still feel like that. But the process of reviewing it has made me consider other aspects that I wouldn’t have lingered on. I would have missed the conservative nature of the backdrop. That’s the privilege of being a male reader I guess.

So, I can’t ignore that aspect but neither can I berate it for sticking to a historically social norm. I can wonder why it wasn’t more daring. I can be honest and say that I think that this is a book written for men. And most male readers are going to enjoy the hell out of it without batting an eyelid.

As for me I’m going to read the next one. I’m hoping that McClellan brings to it all his skill as a storyteller. I’m invested in the plight of the people of Adro. I want to know the consequences of Tama’s actions. I want to see what the shocking end of this one means in the bigger picture. But I also hope that there is time for McClellan to tweak his treatment of his female characters. I’m not sure how he’d be able to do it as he’s set the whole world up to be male dominant but there are still opportunities for giving them strength rather than weakness and goals that unrelated to those of the male characters.

This is a traditional feeling story. It’s amazingly well constructed. Its aim isn’t to elevate the role of women in society, so leaves to others. But it does explore the law of unexpected consequences. Its premise feels fresh. It’s exploring an idea about what happens when gods you don’t think are real actually are. It also explores the diminishing of power over time. The role of the church and it’s statements vs it’s actions. It explores truth and lies. Plus it has guns and magic and a passion for that which is infectious.

And with all that said would I recommend this book?

Oh yes, but with all the caveats above.

Buy from:

Amazon UK: Hardback/Kindle

Book Depository UK/US

Spellwright by Blake Charlton
Out Now in hardback and it’s free atm on iBooks/Kindle

It’s always hard to find a good hook in traditional fantasy. There are limited tools in the toolbox as it were. You have good guys, bad guys, ancient cities, prophecies, wizards, elves. You get the idea. Basically, anything that Tolkien uses turns up at some point. This isn’t a bad thing. We tend to like reading about them and having them turn up. So they are are part of what’s expected.

In terms of furniture you’re not going to find anything too outlandish in Spellwright, which isn’t a criticism. It just means that Charlton has to do something with it to make it interesting. What’s his hook? Language. Magical language.

There is something different about Nicodemus Weal, he can’t spell, which isn’t a problem as people can figure out what we mean most of the time. Though when you are a wizard who uses magical language that you subconsciously corrupt then you become a bit of a danger to yourself and those around you.

But as with any disability there are ways of adapting and his mentor Magister Shannon is teaching and helping him so he can graduate at best, and, at worst, he’ll get all his magical abilities burnt out of him.

And as a fish this hook worked for me. Charlton has made his bonds between magic and language a part of everything, from society, to religion, it’s connected. I’ve read some complaints that it doesn’t work. That the reader couldn’t suspend their disbelief. I guess if you’ve never had a problem with language you wouldn’t have an immediate sympathy for Nicodemus.

If you’ve ever had a tweet or an email from me or from reading this blog for a while you might have noticed that I have my own problems with the mechanics of language. I’d love to be able to ‘fix’ them. They are wired in. It’s an odd blind-spot. So I can empathise with a character whose prophecy is that he’ll overcome his disability potentially to hold great power to create or destroy.

What really worked well was the setting up of certain moments where Charlton lead you down one path and then changed the dynamics. Everyone has an agenda. Even if you don’t know it at first.

When I said there are limited tools in the toolbox there is a point where I though ‘oh is it just that.’ It seemed so mundane and traditional after all the potential and playing that’s been going on with things like bookworms. But even that mundane element gets a twist at the end.

And there was another that tainted my sympathy for Nicodemus but I’m putting that down to a lack of finesse in characterisation, which only comes with practice.

Charlton has created a solid debut and a good foundation for the rest of the trilogy. He’s presenting a good dynamic between the cast that keeps the reader on their toes. He has a good main character and supporting cast and his magical system is one of the best I’ve seen for a while.

I hope that now he’s published he’ll be able to throw out some of the old fantasy tools and add some more of his own because he’s used some already and he’s more than capable of adding something different to the standard fantasy playbook.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve come away eager to read the next one. He’s set it up nicely but I’d have liked a few more risks.

CONTAINS SPOILERS

Title: Destroyer of Worlds
Author: Mark Chadbourn
Pages: 336
Genre: Fantasy
Standalone/Series: Kingdom of the Serpent: Book 3 (and the end of a trilogy of trilogies – The Age of Misrule, The Dark Age and Kingdom of the Serpent)
Release: Out Now in Paperback
Publisher: Gollancz

Synopsis

It is the beginning of the end . . . The end of the axe-age, the sword-age, leading to the passing of gods and men from the universe. As all the ancient prophecies fall into place, the final battle rages, on Earth, across Faerie, and into the land of the dead. Jack Churchill, Champion of Existence, must lead the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons in a last, desperate assault on the Fortress of the Enemy, to confront the ultimate incarnation of destruction: the Burning Man. It is humanity’s only chance to avert the coming extinction. At his back is an army of gods culled from the world’s great mythologies – Greek, Norse, Chinese, Aztec, and more. But will even that be enough? Driven to the brink by betrayal, sacrifice and death, his allies fear Jack may instead bring about the very devastation he is trying to prevent . . .

CONTAINS SPOILERS – Summary is SPOILER FREE

I can’t say this enough – though I’m going to be very careful this review is most likely going to CONTAINS SPOILERS so you have been warned. The Summary is spoiler free.

Comments/Thoughts/Analysis

Before I start with Destroyer of Worlds I want to take you back a bit. The wonder of Amazon is that you can check on when you bought things. And when you look at a particular books it reminds you that you have them. So if I look at Worlds End it says:

You purchased this item on 28 Jun 2001

and after I finished reading it I put this on Twitter at 3.05pm 16 March:

So that was the end of @Chadbourn’s 9 Vol sequence – am sad and happy – bloody brilliant – the end is the beginning! I’m blown away.

Why am I saying this? Well it’s the final book of a sequence of three trilogies: The Age of Misrule, The Dark Age and Kingdom of the Serpent. And one I’ve been reading for almost nine years so I’m more than invested in its outcome.

So was it worth the wait? Undoubtably. I’d read it again right now from the beginning. And I probably will though I’ll be reading the Pyr Books editions rather than the Gollancz ones. But that’s OK as the Pyr covers are stunning. I’d better get back to this book.

By the time we reach the end the stakes for our original Brother and Sisters of Dragons (Jack, Ruth, Veitch, Shavi and Laura) is literally the end of the world. We’ve know each of them intimately. We’ve seem them all change, adapt, grow and die. We’ve been through all their struggles and challenges.

But even then Chadbourn manages to do something surprising with them. They and the people that have joined them along the way like Tom, Hunter, Hal, Catlin to name a few. He shows us that nothing is black or white and we always have a choice.

We can accept the world around us or we can strive to change it. Sometimes we don’t think we’ve succeeded but by trying we’ve actually achieved more than we thought and we put in motion changes that will ultimately help us and those around us.

And there are lots of lessons about life and living. Some characters die. And I was saddened by each of their deaths. They weren’t always happy but their stories and lives will stay with me.

Chadbourn has built up his skill of using the patterns in myth and their parallels and connections to build his story after focusing on Celtic myth for most of the sequence we now have the other great Dominions making a stand with humanity. He gives them the same injection of personality and individuality that he does for every other character. I love his version of Thor.

Most of the screen time is spent with following several interchanging groups of characters as they go about their various tasks. Chadbourn keeps everything tight and relevant. He creates pauses in action when needed to give the characters a small time for processing and rebalancing before setting them off again.

He also takes them down different routes than you might expect. There are some startling revelations. But in the end as it has from the beginning it boils down to the relationships between the characters and the choices they make. They aren’t your normal heroes but they are what normal people become when they become heroes.

Summary

It’s the end. All the other books have been building up to this point. Not all characters survive. And none are the people the same as they were at the start.

Chadbourn skilfully pulls the threads of myth and weaves them into his own powerful and penetrative tale about our potential as individuals to be more than fragile creatures.

Chadbourn leaves on a high and a hint that the end is also the beginning.

A perfect ending to a series that requires almost immediate rereading to enjoy the journey all over again.

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This isn’t an ad for The Last Storm by Glenda Larke – well it is but I’m not getting paid for it.

I saw it last night on the relaunched SFX site  and thought it would be fun to share.

I don’t have to skill to reset it looping again so maybe refresh to see it? It should now loop thanks to and updated file from abitrich.co.uk :)

You can read an extract here.

And more about The Last Stormlord:

Shale knows of no other world than the desert. He knows that his life – and the lives of his family – depend on one thing and one thing only: water. Water is life for all the citizens of the Quartern and it is the Stormlord who brings the rains to the desert.

Shale’s entire civilization stands at the brink of disaster. Water is life and the wells are going dry . . .

But the magic is disappearing. The Stormlord’s heirs lack the talent to bring the water from the distant seas and young students with a certain promise tend to die, mysteriously, out in the wastes. Shale may be the saviour of every life in the Quartern. He can do what no mere Rainlord can, and may be the newest, and the last, Stormlord – if he can learn to control the waters of life and, of course, if he lives that long.

For some reason – it could be the lightening – I really want to read this book!

Any else fancy it?


Title: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Book One of the Inheritance Trilogy
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Pages: 448
Genre: Fantasy
Standalone/Series: Series but easily read as a stand-alone.
Release: Out Now in Paperbackk
Publisher: Orbit

Synopsis

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky – a palace above the clouds where gods’ and mortals’ lives are intertwined. There, to her shock, Yeine is named one of the potential heirs to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with a pair of cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history. But it’s not just mortals who have secrets worth hiding and Yeine will learn how perilous the world can be when love and hate – and gods and mortals – are bound inseparably.

Comments/Thoughts/Analysis

Where to start the world building, the myth, the main character, the voice? This has got to be one of the strongest debuts I’ve read for a while.

I tend to lower my expectations and criticisms when reading a debut. It’s generally unfair to pour those kind of things over a novice it only leads to disappointment and frustration but from the from page I was captivated.

Jemisin managed to keep me in the palm of her hand until the end. I’d have followed her anywhere. I had total confidence that she knew exactly what she was doing and the story was going to come to a proper and surprising conclusion.

Now there aren’t a lot of writers you can say that about.

I think the way the story is told will either captivate or infuriate readers. It’s full of asides. All relevant. All needed but they might be considered storytelling fluff by those who like their narratives and characters more straight forward.

I don’t. I like my characters to feel like they are thinking and feeling. I like to know that they are affecting events and that events are effecting them.

Yeine is a good character to introduce the reader to the city of Sky. She is an outsider but has to be treated as an insider because of her instant status. Though that is a double edged sword. I guess a complaint could be that she is so wrapped up in your own problems and the problems of her people in the North that she doesn’t explore the world of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms enough.

But that’s for another tale and another time.

That isn’t the focus here. The focus is about who rules this world and the gods that are imprisoned in Sky. Much bigger things are explored in Yeine’s story.

We do find out some interesting things though. Yeine’s own people are led by women and a woman’s status is above man who seem to only be asked to fight when brute strength is needed rather than for their brains.

Her people are thought of as Barbarians but the more you flashes of them it’s hard to not to see the ruling family in Sky as the barbaric race and they have had it right all long even if that does mean they had to brick up what could reflect harmony in this world.

Im Sky indulge themselves (sometimes perversely), they inbreed and rule with a cruel and iron fist. It’s hard to see how Yeine could change this world even if she ened up winning.

But the changes she needs to make have a long history. They start for her with her mother. Who is now dead and the reason that a contest is needed.

Though it starts earlier than that with three gods, one know rules, one is imprisoned and one is dead. And that balance is central to the struggles that take place.

Jemisin has an amazing world creation myth and a solid foundation for her world that it’s hard not to see it as real especially when you get to see how the ending and it’s consequences will play out in a very real way for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

It’s a self contained story but I defy you not to want to read the next one when you see what happens in the finale.

Summary

A confident, mature, powerful, feminist, and entertaining debut in fantasy. And in the running for The Reads Top Five  2010.

Title: Hyddenworld: Spring
Author: William Horwood
Pages: 325
Genre: Fantasy
Standalone/Series: Series
Release: 5 Feb 2010
Publisher: Macmillan

Synopsis

William Horwood introduces to the hyddenworld – a place that is veiled from our own. There are crossing over places it seems but the hydden stay hidden from humans but there are occasions where the hydden and human worlds meet and this is the start of one the most important.

It has lain lost and forgotten for fifteen hundred years in the ancient heartland of England – a scrap of glass and metal melded by fierce fire. It is the lost core of a flawless Sphere made by the greatest of the Anglo-Saxon CraeftLords in memory of the one he loved. Her name was Spring and contained in the very heart of this work is a spark from the Fires of Creation.

But while humans have lost their belief in such things, the Hydden – little people existing on the borders of our world – have not. Breaking the silence of centuries they send one of their own, a young boy, Jack, to live among humans in the hope that he may one day find what has been lost for so long. His journey leads him to Katherine, a girl he rescues from a tragic accident ¬– it’s a meeting that will change everything. It is only through their voyage into the dangerous Hyddenworld that they will realize their destiny, find love and complete the great quest that will save both their worlds from destruction.

Their journey begins with Spring . . .

Comments/Thoughts/Analysis

This is my first red review of the year and they come about so rarely that I foamed this one hard to write. The reason that they are rare is that if I feel this unhappy about a book then I’ll have stopped reading it by now and moved on but I made a promise to review it so here it is.

I struggled with Hyddenworld: Spring from the start which is never a good sign, Part of the problem is the opening, Beornamund’s Prophecy – it sets a mystical and magical tone that is soon lost in minute and uninspiring storytelling of the growing-up of Jack and Katherine.

This may be Horwood’s style and if you are used to it you might find Spring a lot easier to read but I struggled. I’m a reader that gets drawn in by the voice of the narrator and can forgive almost anything if I can feel some emotional connection for the characters and their plight.

I didn’t. The only one that really captured my imagination was Imbolic but that’s because she has some substance and intrigue. I thought that this was going to be a heroic quest in the search for pieces of a pendent.

But it’s more about setting up political internal war for the hydden city of Brum. Jack and his companions though potentially exciting do little cause excitement – it feels very much like writing by numbers. This has to happen so I need to write this. I need these characters here so I’ll have get them to this.

It lacks that passion from the characters themselves. They behave oddly and a lot of how they are thinking or feeling is told directly to the reader instead of coming from their voices and actions.

The reason that this review is late is that I usually get so drawn into a story that everything else is filtered out so I don’t hear anything on TV nor any music that might be in the background. Reading Hyddenworld: Spring I was aware of everything around me and found myself glazing over so often that I had to go back and start again.

Summary

I had high hopes for a tale with a strong mythical foundation only to be alienated and bored with almost everything.

I know this sounds harsh and coming form a reviewer who usually has so much to praise it might seem like I’m blowing hot and cold but there are so many problems here that I am struggling to be positive.

I would say that it feels like sandwich which looks good on the outside only to find that filling is so thin that all you end up is eating bread. It could work so much better if it was cut down to 100 pages – it feels like the whole series could be one book.

All I can say is read 20-30 pages if you can and see what you think.

mythago-wood-191x300 Avilion

This my first dual review. I was offered the chance to review Avilion by The Book Smugglers (where this review originally appeared). I always try to start at the beginning when possible so I thought I’d review both Mythago Wood, that’s considered a classic and the sequel that comes after a twenty-five year wait. The question is was it worth it? And I’d have to say yes it was.

Avilion isn’t a direct sequel to Mythago Wood but it does pick up the story after Mythago Wood ends and then heads off in a different direction. Mythago Wood starts when Stephen Huxley returns to the family home after the events of the Second World War to find his brother Christopher Christian obsessed like their father with Ryhope Wood which may only be three-miles square but in its borders it contains boundless worlds created in part from the imagination of those who enter or are effected by it.

Their fathers obsession with the myth-imagined wood and its various creatures and inhabitants leads him further and further away from his family until he is lost with in the woods himself. And it’s this obsession that infects Christopher Christian and leads to his transformation.

If I had to sum up Mythago Wood I’d say it was a love story mixed with an exploration of the power of story, of myth and story in our lives. And how we may not actually control our actions. That we might be just characters in a story. And Holdstock gives life to those stories and shows are they are connected in their reshaping and retelling.

There is a story of a woman who as a baby was stolen before being rescued. That same woman, or a version of that woman is who Christopher Christian falls in love with before losing her like his father. But he knows the nature of her story and tries to call her back. Though she doesn’t come back the same. She is changed in the retelling. And it’s another version of her Stephen falls in love with. It’s this conflict between loss and story and their reshaping that drives Mythago Wood.

This isn’t a story you can read if you’re not paying attention as Holdstock weaves layer upon layer of meaning into the places, events, people, and tales that they all echo and enhance each other and that’s what makes Mythago Wood a classic. It really is.

I was sceptical at first of this love triangle. I thought that Holdstock might linger too much on the sweetness of a new relationship through the eyes of Stephen make Christopher’s Christian’s loss too bitter.

But no, he manages to tell a moving and magical tale that is both meaningful, haunting and one that needs rereading to peel more layers from it and explore both the Wood and its characters some more.

And that’s what he does with Avilion. There is no real happy ever after. Though there was for a time resulting in Jack and Yssobel, both green, from Mythago, and red, from human.

This time Holdstock takes a different path and a different journey. This time he explores deeper into the wood and those imaginings that could be present there but less directly the myths that go into shaping them. Though you’ll spot plenty of references they aren’t signposted nearly as strongly.

Mythago Wood is strongly driven by one story. But Avillion is about unfinished business and the haunting effects of a story that has been told. But no story really ends. Jack who is more red than green wants to go to the edge of the wood into the ‘real world’ but his sister wants to explore deeper into the woods to Avilion itself.

Though its genesis is the story of Stephen and the woman who was stolen whom he rescued and loved. It’s definitely Jack and Yssobel’s book. Holdstock takes us through the woods from the other side through the point of view of insiders. And nothing is made but clearer than before. The Mythago is a world or worlds each shaped by those that exist there or at least within those worlds that are created for them. So we again only see shades but through more windows.

I felt less emotion reading Avilion than Mythago Wood but that’s the nature of the tales. The first is a love story with all the powerful emotions that go with that. Avilion is about journeys and finding peace or at least not resting until you’ve answered the call.

Holdstock has made a sequel that doesn’t interfere with the power of the original. Avilion though is based strongly in its foundations. It would lose a lot of its power unless you understand what happen to Stephen, Christopher Christian and the stolen woman. And why the stolen woman fears Christopher Christian and why Stephen is powerless to rescue her again.

Verdict:

Mythago Wood is a classic and wonderful example of the power of imagination and what fantasy can actually be when it’s rethought and reworked from its origins rather than rehashing a bunch of stereotypes. It’s a book that demands a reread to understand all the bits you liked but didn’t understand the first time.

Avilion is a worthy successor though not as powerful as the original. The tone and the story does that those echoes and retelling that made the original so fascinating and powerful. Though it does build up the story in a way that makes it interesting and worth reading if you want to know more about the Ryhope Wood and what became of Stephen and Christopher Christian.

Rating: I don’t usually give ratings but as I was a guest I followed the house rules.

Mythago Wood 9
Avilion 7.5/8

Additional Thoughts: Robert Holdstock wrote an interesting article about the 25 year gap between the two books, the world he created and his relationship with it.

Check it out.

This review is published in celebration of Robert Holdstock who passed away today.

JohannesCabaltheNecromancer

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
Published by Headline and out now

There is always a suspension of disbelief when starting any novel and trusting that at point somewhere the events described would actually happen. Then when you get past this hurdle, which isn’t usually that high or difficult you have to settle into the story being told. Or at least settle into how the story is being told.

The problems with Johannes Cabal The Necromancer started from the opening pages I couldn’t get into the tone. Howard is trying for comedic fantasy. A very hard juggling act. Even Terry Pratchett, along with Robert Rankin, is considered a master of comedic fantasy, lets the gags come from the characters rather than the characters coming from the gags. And Pratchett has now toned the comedy to focus on the characters and the tale.

And over the first 50 pages, which is as far as I could manage, we get little introduction to the scientist/necromancer Cabal. We are marched with short order to the immigration control centre at the gates of Hell, which follows an exchange with the gate keeper, who used to be a banker and whose ideal of Hell is forms. We then get to meet a devil that’s risen through the ranks before Cabal lets out his secret bringing him down to size. Before getting to see Satan. Who is a little too normal.
The problem for me is that nothing feels real. Hell should be something special. But Howard neuters everything making the place and devils seem unimpressive and a tick box.

There are points where if he’d lingered then it would have been more interesting. Like the how he got hold of the skull that he scares the gatekeeper with, what sort of experiments he does. But instead he meets Satan that agrees a wager for Cabal to get his soul back if he takes on a Carnival to get a 100 souls in a year.

It’s hardly original.And that’s what I’m struggling with. Cabal is lacking a hook into him as a character. His wager isn’t that interesting and the storytelling is simple and humourless.

It does sound a little brutal. But that’s my impression of the first 50 pages. And I can’t see my impression changing. I’m not engaged by the whole thing. I’d recommend reading the opening chapters to see if you have the same reservations or if you find the tone and banter enjoyable.

IronAngel

Iron Angel by Alan Campbell
Published by Tor in paperback on the 1 May 2009

 

Order has collapsed in Deepgate. The chained city is now in ruins, and the Deadsands beyond are full of fleeing refugees. Meanwhile, the Spine militia is trying to halt the exodus of panicking citizens through brutal force. Rachel and the young angel Dill are dragged off to the Temple torture chambers …but strange things start to happen as a foul red mist rises from the abyss beneath the city. For the god Ulcis’ death has left the gates to Hell unguarded, and certain forces in the fathomless darkness beneath Deepgate have noticed an opportunity. Only the offspring of the dread goddess Ayen understand this new danger.Already, Cospinol, god of brine and fog, is coming to save his brother’s temple – and to hunt down Ulcis’ murderers. His foul, fog-wreathed skyship has already reached Sandport, bringing along its own version of hell. By now, Rachel just wants to keep her companion alive. Escaping their prison, and with enemies closing in on all sides, she is forced to undertake a perilous journey across the Deadsands towards the distant land of Pandemeria. But there the battlefield at Coreollis is fated to witness a clash of powers – a contest between men and gods and archons and slaves, all forced into desperate alliances.

It’s always worrying how fast time flies. In my case I can watch this progress as ARCS becomes hardbacks becoming paperbacks. In this case it’s especially worrying as, I read loved and reviewed Scar Night, the first in the trilogy, last May and haven’t found the right time to read Iron Angel, is it just me that saves some books for the right time? Robert @ Fantasy Book Critic said I’d enjoy this one. I guess I’d better find time!

Then for those that have read Iron Angel, the final book, God of Clocks is coming out in July in Hardback.

GodofClocks

InAshesLie

In Ashes Lie by Marie Brennan
Published by Orbit and released 25 June 2009

September, 1666 – The mortal civil war is over. But the war among the fae is still raging, and London is its battleground. There are forces that despise the Onyx Court, and will do anything to destroy it. But now a greater threat has come, one that could destroy everything. In the house of a sleeping baker, a spark leaps free of the oven – and ignites a blaze that will burn London to the ground. For three harrowing days, the mortals and fae of the city will fight to save their home. While the humans struggle to halt the conflagration that is devouring London street by street, the fae pit themselves against a less tangible foe: the spirit of the fire itself, powerful enough to annihilate everything in its path. Neither side can win on its own – but can they find a way to fight together?

This is probably a bit too early to be promoting In Ashes Lie, but I just found the cover on Amazon.co.uk (I really need to start shopping at one of the other wonderful online sellers like Book Depository or Borders or Waterstones) and I thought it was wonderful.

I’m a big fan of Marie Brennan’s Midnight Never Come and In Ashes Lie looks like it revisits that world if not those characters but who knows. I can’t wait to find out!