Just giving everyone a heads up that I’ve been working on some technical upgrades here at Fantasy Book News this weekend, and will be away next weekend, so look for the Amazon Top 5 and Fantasy Blogosphere posts to return the weekend of June 12. Enjoy the Holiday weekend to everyone, and get in some good reading!
Monthly Archives: May 2010
We’ve found so many reviews this week you won’t know where to begin. From Warriors to Furies to Empires you can check out reviews of some of fantasy’s hottest authors and recent works here.
Last on our list this week is an interview at The Dragon Page with Charlaine Harris, and I have to say I was disappointed. Not in the interview, the interview is in fact great, but I was really hoping to find a mastermind behind the wild success of Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels. Rather than sounding like the Sookie novels were planned, well organized and well thought out prior to being written, Harris comes off as aloof, making it sound like all the novels in the series were just written on a whim, and that the success really has nothing to do with any semblance of a structured plan. To me, this lends even more credibility to the notion that the whole vampire romance/urban fantasy genre is a fluke, a fad that will pass as quickly as pogo balls and hot pink Hammer pants. The guys at The Dragon Page seem to hint that they feel the same way, but they dance around it a bit, as is only natural when you’re interviewing one of the genre’s heavyweights. They even go so far as to mention an impending collapse, stating that Harris, Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton would be the only authors in the genre able to survive such an implosion. I’ve been covering the Amazon top 5 fantasy bestsellers for over a year now, and I won’t say I’d welcome such an implosion, but it would freshen up the list a bit. Just sayin’.
- Review: Warriors edited by George R.R. Martin @ BC Books
- Review: Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher @ Hub Pages
- Review: First Lord’s Fury by Jim Butcher @ Book Geeks
- Review: The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett @ Walker of Worlds
- Review: Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky @ Grasping for the Wind
- Review: Stealing Fire by Jo Graham @ Fantasy Book Critic
- Review: Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris @ The LA Times
- Interview: Charlaine Harris speaks @ The Dragon Page
Dead in the Family holds strong in the number one slot, with Breaking Dawn and Lover Mine also maintaining positions in the top 5. Two new entries to the Amazon top 5 fantasy bestseller list this week: Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton and Containment by Christian Cantrell. Vampires continue to dominate in 2010.
Reviews take a back seat this week as we mark the passing of a legend. Legendary fantasy and comic book artist Frank Frazetta has died at age 82, and the world has lost one of its most famed fantasy artists in one single moment. Below you’ll find the obituary from Boston.com, along with a few galleries of some of Frank’s art, which I’ve enjoyed over the years. He’s the only artist for which I’ve ever downloaded fantasy art and used it as my desktop background image. He’ll truly be missed.
On a lighter note, Jones soda has created a variety of D&D Spellcasting sodas, which I strongly advise you check out. Also, Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay is getting some good press this week, and Joe Abercrombie has some surprising news regarding the launch date of his forthcoming The Heroes. Giddy up.
- Obituary: Legendary artist Frank Frazetta dies @ Boston.com
- Art: Frazetta history and fantasy gallery @ The American Art Archives
- Art: Frazetta comic gallery @ The American Art Archives
- Review: The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle by Pat Rothfuss @ Fantasy Book Review
- Review: Storm Front by Jim Butcher @ Steve’s Fantasy Book Reviews
- Press: Under Heaven’s print run increases more than 35% @ Fantasy Book Review
- Press: The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie release moved forward @ Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist
- Interview: Guy Gavriel Kay talks about Under Heaven @ The Big Idea
- Interview: Charlaine Harris is interviewed @ The Dragon Page
- Television: the Save The Legend of the Seeker campaign gains momentum @ Fantasy Book Review
- Food: Jones D&D Spellcasting Soda @ MyJones.com
Changes by Jim Butcher drops off the fantasy top 5 for the first time in 7 seven weeks, to make way for newcomer Light of Eidon, by Karen Hancock, which debuts in second place. Charlaine Harris continues to have a extremely strong showing, with two books placing in the top 5 yet again this week.
Pairs galore this week, as we feature two interviews with Jim Butcher, and a review and interview with Tad Williams. Check out the reviews of Guy Gavriel Kay and Adrian Tchaikovsky’s most recent works, and don’t miss the US dates for Robin Hobb’s Dragon Haven tour.
- Review: Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay @ The Wertzone
- Review: Dragonfly Falling by Adrian Tchaikovsky @ Elitist Book Review
- Review: The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams @ King of the Nerds
- Interview (audio): Jim Butcher @ The Dragon Page
- Interview: Jim Butcher @ The Absent Willow Review
- Interview: Joe Abercrombie @ The David Gemmell Legend
- Interview: Tad Williams @ SFF World
- TV: George R.R. Martin comments on the HBO series @ The Los Angeles Times
- Authors: Robin Hobb’s US tour dates for Dragon Haven @ Fantasy Book Review
Charlaine Harris with a strong showing this week, with Dead and Gone jumping back in to give her a 40% share in the top five. Dead in the Family is not only the best selling fantasy book on Amazon.com this week, but the best selling book overall on Amazon.com. Changes by Jim Butcher holds on in fifth place.
Book review of Ken Scholes’ Lamentation
Lamentation is the first in a five book series, collectively titled “The Psalms of Isaak”, although it is not clear after reading the first book whether the “Isaak” referred to is the dead twin of the lead character Rudolfo, or the mechanical man Rudolfo names after his deceased brother. Scholes has taken a unique twist on the fantasy genre with Lamentation. The setting is a post-apocalyptic world where the past had seen heights of technological innovation, but after reaching a certain plateau in technological progress, the technology lead to a disaster and subsequent technological regression, giving the novel a fine social commentary on the dangers of the technological advances in our own world. At the height of this pre-apocalyptic era there existed mechanical men, a pinnacle of the society’s technological achievement. In Lamentation, we see some of these mechanical men, who have been constructed using the knowledge of old, as well as a few other technological innovations that survived the devastation not typically seen in the fantasy genre.
Knowledge is a central theme to the novel. Like deleting a civilization’s existence in Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana, one of the hubs of knowledge in Lamentation, a city named Windwir, is destroyed in the opening pages of Lamentation. The ensuing four hundred pages deal with how to save what little is left of the knowledge that was destroyed, and how to go about building a new center for that knowledge. Like any literary commentator, I thoroughly enjoyed this theme.
The characters that go about deciding how to manage this tragedy and attain retribution for the destruction of the death of thousands of people and knowledge are in a word, fantastic. Scholes immediately gives you something to care about in Lamentation, and then brilliantly brings in characters you can not only relate to, but genuinely get behind and root for. From the free-spirited gypsy king Rudolfo to the ex-Pope-in-hiding Petronus, to the father and daughter team of Vlad and Jin Li Tam, and a host of others, these are well fleshed out characters and they truly make Lamentation come to life.
Scholes has a familiar writing style, that is both comfortable and vibrant. He writes with a clarity and succinctness lacking in modern epic fantasy; there are no needless words in this novel. His ability to make an ordinary situation exciting is quickly apparent, as displayed in this example where he describes the look on a merchant’s face when Rudolfo offers the service of his squad of gypsy scouts free of charge:
He watched at least three emotions wash over the arch-scholar’s face. At first, surprise. Then anger. Then weariness. These are the only currencies our hearts can spend now, Rudolfo thought.
Lamentation is a novel that flies by, first because its just plain good. Second, because of the author’s ability to communicate an emotionally-charged story in a minimal amount of words, this paperback weights in at around 400 pages, with many other epic fantasy novels coming closer to the 700 page mark. The chapters are in smaller chunks, making it very easy to consume quickly; whether you can sit down and read five or six, or only have time for a quick one or two chapters. The viewpoints shift perspective per chapter, each being from the point of view of a different character. This is a style I enjoyed originally in George R.R. Martin’ s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and completely enjoyed visiting again in Lamentation.
Overall Lamentation is a fantastic debut in the fantasy genre for Ken Scholes, and I’m extremely excited for the second installment, Canticle. The first novel does a great job of building up to what you believe is going to be a complete resolution of the issues presented (which it does do to some degree), but does open the door to a whole set of new problems, on a much larger scale than you could have imagined having read the first novel. All I can say is bravo, Mr. Scholes, and keep up the good work.
You can purchase Lamentation over at Amazon.com.
Fantasy Book News Ratings
When it rains it pours, and this week we bypass any book reviews for updates from Patrick Rothfuss and George R.R. Martin on their next books, A Wise Man’s Fear and A Dance with Dragons. Big events seem to come in threes, and in a week where we get updates from two of fantasy fiction’s heavy hitters, we also get wind that Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series is to be adapted by Ron Howard as a movie trilogy. There’s other stuff going on, but honestly, these three items take the cake for probably the week, the month, and up until this point, the year. So I’ll stop now, go check ’em out!
- Release: Patrick Rothfuss reveals release date for A Wise Man’s Fear @ Fantasy Book Review
- Interview (audio): George R.R. Martin talks about A Dance with Dragons @ The Dragon Page
- Interview: R.A. Salvatore @ Gamasutra
- Interview: Peter V. Brett to write Red Sonya comic @ Suvudu
- Film: Ron Howard to adapt Stephen King’s The Dark Tower as trilogy @ ScreenCrave
- Author Blogs: Robin Hobb on fantasy settings @ Borders SciFi
- TV: Legend of the Seeker to be cancelled @ IGN
- Art: One of Frazetta’s best preps for auction @ iNewswire
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris moves back into the number one slot, while Bite Me by Parker Blue drops from number one to number three. My top five fave so far for 2010 Jim Butcher hangs in there at number four.