The Alloy of Law reviews are pouring in, but sadly the biggest news is the passing of Anne McCaffrey. We have lost one of the greats. Her craft will be continued by the current crop of talented fantasy authors, and you can check out interviews with a few current greats like R.A. Salvatore, Patrick Rothfuss, Lev Grossman, Terry Brooks and Daniel Abraham below. Also, Brandon Sanderson talks about writing the Infinity Blade novella. Cool stuff.
A fantastic group of reviews this week, including Shadowmarch, Leviathan, and Nightchild, as well as interviews with Brandon Sanderson, Mercedes Lackey, and more. News on Peter V. Brett’s future novels, as well as a first look at the Game of Thrones HBO series. Cap it all off with a ridiculously awesome map of Westeros, and a trailer for a movie that could potentially rank as my favorite movie of all time.
Slews of reviews and interviews this week, with the New York Comic Con concluding yesterday. Check out the interviews with Joe Abercrombie, Peter V. Brett, Scott Westerfield, R.A. Salvatore and James Enge. A few great book reviews, including Before They are Hanged and Acacia. Also, don’t miss the cover of Mark Charan Newton’s The Book of Transformations, or the news on The Hobbit movie.
Great reviews of Dragon Keeper and Tongues of Serpents this week, followed by interviews with Brent Weeks, Peter V. Brett, Neil Gaiman, Tracy Hickman, and more. A few interesting moves in the eBook industry this week as well. Finally, I can’t believe Neil Gaiman is about to start receiving royalty checks for my favorite comic book hero.
Batten down the hatches because we’ve got a boatload of fantasy blogosphere news this week. Kick off the weekend with a slew of great reviews, spanning great fantasy novels like Imager’s Intrigue by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., a review of Joe Abercrombie’s entire trilogy, The First Law, to a review of a compilation edited by Neil Gaiman. Interviews aplenty this week as well, with some great names like David Drake, Naomi Novik, and others. Wrapping it all up is an update from George R.R. Martin on the casting, production team and film locations for the HBO series Game of Thrones.
The cover for Gail Z. Martin’s The Sworn was released this week, and we’ve got a great mix of reviews, from Terry Brooks’ latest to a pair of Adrian Tchaikovsky novels, to the Swords and Dark Magic compilation. We’ve also located an interview with George R.R. Martin’s editor who discusses her work on A Clash of Kings. Topping off this week is our first mention of eReaders in the fantasy blogosphere, and it comes in the form of Ray Kurzweil offering a solution to books that get mangled by current eReader software.
The fantasy blogosphere is brimming with reviews of The Magicians, Leviathan, Hero of Ages and more this week. Plus, is HBO ready to start filming the pilot for A Game of Thrones? Check out the news update. And as always, an new episode of The Guild.
Plenty of quality reviews this week, including reviews of both books in Karen Miller’s Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series. I like to follow up my own reviews with reviews by others if possible, in order to give everyone a fair sampling of opinion. In addition to a few great reviews, of course we’ve got episode 5 of The Guild, which has to be my favorite so far in season 3. Pong? Frickin’ hilarious.
I really didn’t know what to expect leading up to reading The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller. I’d seen some recent publicity for The Prodigal Mage, and it seemed to be making a bit more noise than the first two Kingmaker, Kingbreaker books. I admittedly picked up the book on a whim, perusing the options at my local bookstore, and honestly chose the book by its cover. Probably the last time I’ll ever make that mistake. The Innocent Mage is as bland as a stale unsalted Saltine. I knew I was in trouble by the fifth sentence, which is usually the kiss of literary death:
Holding his breath, he slid out of his old, creaking bed and put his bare feet on the floor as lightly as the rising sun kissed the mouth of Restharven Harbor.
I don’t know about you, but I like my analogy to reference something that I’m familiar with, giving me a more clear picture of the idea the author is attempting to paint. Comparing the stealth with which a character leaves his bed with the mouth of a fictional body of water that hasn’t been described yet not only doesn’t improve my understanding, it actually makes it less clear. This is one example of the vast quantity of paper-thin attempts at quality writing in The Innocent Mage.
After about 50 pages or so of non-plot advancing description, dry dialog, and a general feeling that you want to go hang yourself, we’re presented with this gem:
I am Jervale’s Heir and I know. Asher is the Innocent Mage. The Final Days are coming. And I am the last living of Jervale’s descendants, born to guide our ignorant fisherman to victory…or fail, and doom our world to death and despair.
What’s that? You just threw up? That’s funny, I regurgitated a bit in my mouth the first time I read this too. Not only is it the same old story of good versus evil with the actions of the main character effecting the entire world, it is simply unreadable! This is dialog at its worst. People just don’t talk like this, it doesn’t feel natural, and it leads to rereading sections of a book that probably aren’t worth reading the first time.
Warning: spoilers to follow. Then again, it probably doesn’t matter since after this review you likely won’t be rushing out to pick up The Innocent Mage any time soon.
Just as Miller feels like she’s going to take the opportunity to advance the plot, or do something exciting with the characters, you find yourself slogging through an entire chapter of the characters crying over miniscule issues from previous chapters. There’s a beheading scene that makes the main character Asher queasy, and he whines about it for chapter upon chapter to follow. I compared this with the beheading from A Game of Thrones, seen randomly from the distance by the eyes of the daughter of the man being beheaded. Quick, meaningful, powerful, and classic. None of these qualities exist in Miller’s The Innocent Mage.
The rest of this 600+ page novel continues in the same dull fashion, with one of the high points coming when the all-powerful evil being takes over the body of the king’s mage. Unfortunately, this also is handled terribly. The narration switches to the viewpoint of the omniscient evil being. I don’t know about you, but my familiarity with the point of view of an omniscient being is pretty scarce. The way to play this would have been to have the evil being take over the mage, but view the oddities and transformation from the outside, rather than trying to give the reader an insight into the mind of an omniscient character, and failing miserably.
The novel concludes without resolving anything, and the author throws most of her main characters off a cliff. I’d recommend that if you come across a copy of The Innocent Mage, you do the same.
Its safe to say I’ll be avoiding anything by Karen Miller for the foreseeable future. I’m giving it two stars: one for the decent jousting scene about halfway through, and one for any aspiring author who wants to pick up a novel chock full of examples of what not to do.
A bit of Karen Miller news this week, and reviews featuring Brandon Sanderson and R.A. Salvatore’s most recent novels. We also found out who will portray the Stark sisters in HBO’s version of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. Last but most certainly not least, Orbit has been putting out some entertaining fantasy industry stats.
The one item I think is missing from the fantasy novel cover chart is “Mysterious Hooded Figure”. This seems to be overwhelmingly the most recent popular trend in fantasy novel covers. Maybe I’ll round up a few of the covers and post for proof. For the record, out of my collection the Darksword trilogy seems to take the cake; each book cover containing swords and glowy magic, and in two cases the sword is glowing with glowy magic. Pure genius.