Monthly Archives: March 2010

Book Release: Morticai’s Luck by Darlene Bolesny

Morticai's LuckThe first novel in the Duanor Series, a swashbuckling fantasy adventure.

Knives in the Night…

Welcome to the haunted, twin-mooned world of Duanor. Meet Morticai—reckless rogue, man of many names, ladies’ man, skilled gambler and believer in gods-given luck, expert bladesman, adept thief … and professional lawman.

The Droken, the bloodthirsty devotees of a sadistic, outlawed god, murdered Morticai’s parents, leaving him to survive alone as an unwanted corryn orphan on the meanest streets of Watchaven, a human city. Once a professional thief, he escaped the criminal underworld by joining the Northmarch, the kingdom’s elite paramilitary peacekeeping force. But even while honoring his peace officer’s oaths, he holds even stronger to his childhood vow to find and punish those who murdered his parents, and to oppose the works of Droka wherever he finds them.

Using his second-story skills from his past life, he discovers a nest of Droken that has infiltrated his own city and is commanded by powerful, nearly untouchable members of the nobility. His unofficial actions against them nearly cost him his life and his commission, but Morticai refuses to give up. Stubbornly following the lead, and aided by his loyal Northmarcher squad mates and a Knight of the Faith, he finds evidence of a shadowy conspiracy designed to embroil Watchaven and the corryn kingdom of Dynolva in a disastrous trade war that threatens to overwhelm not only Watchaven and Dynolva but all of the kingdoms, human and corryn, of Duanor.

It’s not the first time that Morticai has found himself in over his head … but it may be the last.

Check out Morticai’s Luck at Darkstar Books

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Review: Dragons of a Lost Star by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman

Book review of Weis & Hickman’s Dragons of a Lost Star

Dragons of a Lost Star

I picked up Dragons of a Lost Star out of sheer desperation. I had just concluded Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson, and was sorely in need of some familiar characters. Gardens of the Moon presented me with an overwhelming cast of characters, and not enough time to get to know any of them, which is a recipe for disaster in my opinion. What better way to get back to my roots than to throw in a Dragonlance book? And off I was.

Dragons of a Lost Star picks up where Dragons of a Fallen Sun left off, and all the familiar faces are here. To my delight, much of the story follows Tasslehoff, who I’m sure Weis & Hickman have as much fun writing as I have reading. Weis & Hickman combine classic Dragonlance characters, like Tas and Goldmoon, with some of the transitional characters like Palin Majere and Dalamar, along with fairly new characters like Mina and the idea of the One God. It is this blend of old familiar characters and fresh new faces that makes Dragons of a Lost Star such a pleasure to read.

And an easy read it is. The pages of Weis & Hickman’s Dragonlance books have always been easy to turn, and Dragons of a Lost Star is no different. This is a very easy plot to follow, without all the layers of intrigue that weigh down many current fantasy novels. I’m not saying that multi-textured novels are of a lower calibre; not at all. I absolutely love a story with overlapping plot lines and complexity. What I am saying is that Dragons of a Lost Star accomplishes my main goal of reading fantasy novels: to transport me to another world and distract me from the real world for a short time. Dragons of a Lost Star accomplishes this goal, without any additional padding.

Dragons of a Lost Star is a medium to fast-paced novel. While not completely action-packed, there was no point where I felt as if I was trudging through unnecessary background material. Here you’ll find war, love and best of all dragons. So many dragons.

This is a good novel, plain and simple. For fans of the Dragonlance series, this novel is a delight. For newcomers, I’d recommend reading Dragons of a Fallen Sun first, since Dragons of a Lost Star directly continues multiple plot lines from the first novel in this trilogy. But for first-timers, you definitely don’t need to read any of the earlier Weis & Hickman Dragonlance novels to fully enjoy this series.

I would strongly recommend Dragons of a Lost Star to anyone looking for a quick escape. It is easy to read, and Weis & Hickman have certainly still got their touch.

You can purchase Dragons of a Lost Star over at Amazon.com.

Fantasy Book News Ratings

  • Overall: 6 out of 10
  • Plot Originality
  • Setting Development
  • Characterization
  • Dialog
  • Pace

Fan Ratings

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Fantasy Blogosphere: March 28, 2010

If you’re looking for a few good book reviews, you’ve come to the right place this week. I’d really like to check out Shadowrise and The Stormcaller when I find some time to fit them into my reading schedule. Also this week, a pair of interviews: video of Raymond E. Feist commenting on his 30 book series, his methods of character development, and how he feels fans have received his work over the years, as well as a transcript of an interview with the great Peter S. Beagle. We continue to follow the development of the Firefly comic series (solely because Patton Oswalt is hilarious), and we cap the week with news about Frank Frazetta and the family feud that has been surrounding his work for years.

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, March 27, 2010

Dead Witch Walking holds strong at number one, with Dead in the Family moving up to the number two slot. Changes, Book 12 in The Dresden Files series, moves Jim Butcher back into the top 5 list. Rounding out our top 5 this week are Breaking Dawn and a newcomer, Silver Borne.

  1. Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
  2. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
  3. Changes by Jim Butcher
  4. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  5. Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs
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Fantasy Blogosphere: March 21, 2010

Reviews galore, an interview with R.A. Salvatore, an update on Scott Lynch, and news about The Hobbit film. What more could you ask for? Okay, how about an update from Ursula K. Le Guin on her crusade to uphold the rights of authors everywhere in this digital age? You got it.

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, March 20, 2010

The top three hold solid, which Dead in the Family moves up one position this week, and Stephanie Meyer takes another piece of the pie with New Moon creeping back in to the top 5. Meyer is holding a masterful 60% of the top 5 bestselling fantasy books on Amazon.com this week.

  1. Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
  2. Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
  3. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  4. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
  5. New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
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Book Release: NO Quarter by Robert Asprin

NO QuarterNew York Times bestselling author Robert Asprin, writing with Eric Del Carlo and Teresa Patterson, delves into the dark secrets of the New Orleans French Quarter in this suspenseful tale of ghosts and haunted dreams, murder and revenge, justice and unexpected courage.

Once upon a time, before Katrina…

After you’ve lived in the French Quarter for a while, you develop the cynical belief that you’ve seen it all … that nothing can get to you anymore. You and your bar acquaintances tell yourselves and each other that you’ve gotten so used to the drunken tourist idiocy and random acts of violence … that it doesn’t bother you.

That’s bullshit.

Sunshine came to New Orleans to escape her past and to catch up with her elusive dreams, but she got lost in the old city’s seductive Southern nights. The tempting dark side of the French Quarter catered to her weaknesses, offering her just exactly what she desired-cheap drugs, the wrong kind of men, and the thrill of living on the edge. Alienated from her friends and in need of help, she called out to one of them … but her message didn’t get through in time.

When she tries to go it alone, she walks down the wrong street into the wrong patch of darkness and meets the brutal, bloody end to her dreams at the point of a knife.

In another city, her death might be written off as a mugging, just another statistic on the police blotter. Not so for the NOPD, to whom the safe reputation of the French Quarter is a priority, even if the victim is a waitress and not a treasured, pampered tourist. Not so for the French Quarter locals, because no matter how far she’d fallen, Sunshine was one of their own. And no mere mugger in New Orleans or any other city would have left a victim’s body framed by the crude remnants of a botched Voodoo ritual, a display designed to insult the true practitioners of that religion.

To Maestro, Sunshine’s death represents not only a tragedy but an obligation, because he’s the one who missed responding to her call for help. A master of both the pool cue and the rapier, a man of regular habits and close secrets, he prefers keeping to the shadows-but to avenge Sunshine and to satisfy his tarnished honor, he’ll risk opening his own less-than-savory past to question.

To Bone, a waiter, and his girlfriend Alex, Sunshine was family, and the pain of her savage murder is made even more crushing by their recent estrangement from her. Because of his past connection to Sunshine, and because of a bitter, public argument with her, Bone becomes a suspect in her murder. When Sunshine’s ghost begins to haunt his dreams, he comes to the realization that just clearing his name won’t be enough for him. Even justice won’t be enough. His heart cries out for vengeance, and Alex refuses to be left out of his quest.

But what can three ordinary people do that the police can’t? As fate draws Maestro, Bone, and Alex together in the hunt for the murderer, they find unlikely allies among the street people, bartenders, performers, and other denizens of the French Quarter. Their hunt leads them through the darkest corners of the Quarter, into the dangerous depths that lie beneath the benign “party-town” surface of the old city-and into shattering revelations about themselves.

Death and destruction lie in the turning of the Tarot cards, and blood will lead to blood before honor and desire are satisfied.

“A hard-boiled mystery, over Easy” — William R. Page

A note from Tom Knowles, publisher of DarkStar Books, to the fans of Robert Asprin

NO Quarter isn’t exactly Bob Asprin’s last book—there are others forthcoming from outlines and partials—but it is the last book he completed, wrote through from beginning to end. It’s also unique, for two reasons:

First, Bob’s friends and those fans who got to meet him at conventions and filks will easily recognize his somewhat fictionalized self portrait in the character of the mysterious, pool-playing fencing master and wise man/wise guy known as Maestro. Bob often put his personal philosophy into the mouths of his lead character, but to create NO Quarter and Maestro, he anted up a bit his soul.

Second, NO Quarter is a suspense/dark fantasy novel that is a crossover/spin-off from a fantasy series—something that has not, to my knowledge, ever been accomplished before by any author. Although the fantasy and horror elements (voodoo, tarot readings and precognition, ghosts) in NO Quarter are less in evidence, it is set in the same milieu as Bob’s Dragons Luck and Dragons Wild novels. Fans of that series will already be familiar with NO Quarter’s two protagonists, Maestro and Bone, as well as other denizens of NO Quarter’s dangerous, haunted, and clannish French Quarter, from their minor roles in the strange life of Griffen McCandles, the Dragon gambler.

NO Quarter is remarkable in other ways as well.

Bob planned this novel with Eric Del Carlo after they met and became friends in the French Quarter. They alternated chapters, Bob writing Maestro’s viewpoint, Eric writing Bone’s. What shines through both writers’ prose is a love for the old French Quarter that existed before Katrina smashed in to alter it forever—a love that neither excuses nor attempts to conceal that city-within-a-city’s dangers and disappointments.

Maestro’s chapters are classic Asprin, this because Maestro is the classic Asprin hero … just written a bit darker, more reminiscent of his Thieves World than his Myth Adventures. The inimitable Asprin humor is there throughout, along with the tension between student and mentor, and the journey of self-discovery that both of them take during the course of a friendship. Bone’s chapters, written in Eric’s distinctive voice, offer an acerbic contrast that complements and highlights Asprin’s characterization of Maestro. The two characters, as did the two writers, work well together and push each other in new directions.

When Bill Fawcett offered the book to DarkStar, Bob and Eric had brought it to a third-draft level. Because both authors had other commitments, Bob suggested that long-time friend and author Teresa Patterson, who was familiar with the French Quarter and its culture, give the book its final polish to smooth out its rough spots. We signed the contract … and then, not long after, Robert Asprin—my friend and a friend to just about everyone who met him—closed his eyes for the last time.

Despite that sad occurrence, we pushed the project on to completion. Eric and Teresa’s edits and refinements resulted in a novel that I believe is a fitting tribute to our friend, Bob Asprin. DarkStar published it in a quality trade paperback edition in November 2009.

Because the major chain stores are deadly serious about categories, you’ll likely find NO Quarter in the mystery section instead of the SF/F section beside Bob’s other books—but make no mistake, it’s an Asprin book, and in my opinion, one of his finest works.

Check out NO Quarter at DarkStar Books.

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Fantasy Blogosphere: March 14, 2010

A fairly tranquil week in the fantasy blogosphere, but we were still able to dig up a nice mix of a review, an interview, a cover release and a bit of news. Midwinter by Matthew Sturges is reviewed at A Fantasy Writer, the great Lawrence Watt-Evans is interviewed by Michael A. Ventrella, Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sarantine Mosiac series releases the beautiful new US covers, and in comedy news, the great Patton Oswalt is set to write for the Firefly comic book.

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, March 13, 2010

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has a short run of one week in the top 5, replaced by another Stephanie Meyer book this week. Stephanie Meyer enjoys another week with two books in the top five, accompanied by another strong week from Dead Witch Walking, Battle of the Network Zombies, and Dead in the Family.

  1. Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
  2. Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
  3. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  4. Battle of the Network Zombies by Mark Henry
  5. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
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Fantasy Blogosphere: March 7, 2010

Four reviews kick off our fantasy blogosphere roundup this week, with reviews of books by Tad Williams, Joe Abercrombie, Ian C. Esslemont and Seressia Glass.  Following this is the fantastic news that HBO has approved A Game of Thrones, so we’ll be seeing something more than a static image soon. A few covers were released this week, for Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings, and Brent Weeks’ The Black Prism. Check out the interview with Brandon for his comments on his new series. I’m not sure I’m into the new photo realistic cover as exhibited on Weeks’ novel; we’ll have to keep an eye on this and see if it becomes a trend. And last but not least, some sort of explanation as to why Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter made the Amazon top 5 yesterday.

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