Monday, December 31, 2012

“Heir of Novron” by Michael J. Sullivan (Orbit)


The Third Omnibus, the Conclusion and the greatest revelations of Riyria

The New Empire intends to mark its victory over the Nationalists with a bloody celebration. On the high holiday of Wintertide, the Witch of Melengar will be burned and the Heir of Novron executed. On that same day the Empress faces a forced marriage, with a fatal accident soon follow. The New Empire is confident in the totality of its triumph but there’s just one problem — Royce and Hadrian have finally found the Heir of Novron and they have their own holiday plans.

It’s almost exactly a year since I read Rise of Empire, the second omnibus in Sullivan’s excellent Riyria Revelations series. I don’t really know why I waited so long to finish this series – save perhaps, as a result of general book ADHD and an apparent unconscious hesitance when it comes to finishing any series. Nevertheless, now that I have read this third omnibus edition, I can say that Sullivan has written a great series – one that will forever be on my shelf, and one I have no doubt I will re-read. This is a lot of fun.

Reviewer Emotions: The Secret Revealed!

How we feel when a deliciously devious bait-and-switch is unveiled in a novel or TV series (*cough* Gossip Girl – don’t judge me *cough*) that we’ve been reading or watching for so long, and it was not at all what we expected…


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Three Marvel NOW Titles: Avengers, Captain America & Thunderbolts


On a whim, I decided to try three of Marvel’s new re-boot issues: Avengers, Captain America and Thunderbolts.

My choice to read these wasn’t particularly scientific – it was purely down to whichever first issues the Barnes & Noble I was in at the time had in stock. These were the three (they had a couple of second issues, but I wasn’t prepared to go traipsing around Manhattan to find the first issues of those series*). Overall, I’m actually quite impressed with the three titles I tried. It bodes well.

* And by “traipsing”, I mean walk three blocks to Forbidden Planet…


Skottie Young’s Awesome Variant Art for these Issues

Saturday, December 29, 2012

“Clementine” by Cherie Priest (Tor/Subterranean)

Mise en page 1A Steampunk Novella, Clockwork Century #2

Maria Isabella Boyd’s success as a Confederate spy has made her too famous for further espionage work, and now her employment options are slim. Exiled, widowed, and on the brink of poverty…she reluctantly goes to work for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago.

Adding insult to injury, her first big assignment is commissioned by the Union Army. In short, a federally sponsored transport dirigible is being violently pursued across the Rockies and Uncle Sam isn’t pleased. The Clementine is carrying a top secret load of military essentials — essentials which must be delivered to Louisville, Kentucky, without delay.

Intelligence suggests that the unrelenting pursuer is a runaway slave who’s been wanted by authorities on both sides of the Mason-Dixon for fifteen years. In that time, Captain Croggon Beauregard Hainey has felonied his way back and forth across the continent, leaving a trail of broken banks, stolen war machines, and illegally distributed weaponry from sea to shining sea.

And now it’s Maria’s job to go get him.

He’s dangerous quarry and she’s a dangerous woman, but when forces conspire against them both, they take a chance and form an alliance. She joins his crew, and he uses her connections. She follows his orders. He takes her advice.

And somebody, somewhere, is going to rue the day he crossed either one of them.

This is the second installment in Priest’s highly popular Clockwork Century steampunk series. Originally a limited edition novella published by Subterranean Press, Clementine has since been made available as an eBook first in the US and now in the UK. I have to admit that I while I enjoyed much of Boneshaker, the first in the series, I was never wholly won over by it. I nevertheless decided to give the rest of the series a try – especially since Tor UK picked up the rights to publish it in Blighty. Clementine does a good job of expanding Priest’s version of a steampunk Civil War-era United States. While still flawed, it is nevertheless an enjoyable book, one that kindled my interest in reading the rest of the series.

Upcoming: “The Age Atomic” by Adam Christopher (Angry Robot)

Christopher-TheAgeAtomicAdam Christopher’s already-published novels remain two of the 2012 releases I really need to get to. I’m particularly interested in Seven Wonders (which will feature as part of a series of super-hero-related reviews going up in the next month or so), but his debut Empire State is also high on my TBR pile. I hope to get to it before The Age Atomic, its sequel, is released in April 2013. Here’s the wonderfully garish and retro artwork, and also the synopsis:

The Empire State is dying. The Fissure connecting the pocket universe to New York has vanished, plunging the city into a deep freeze and the populace are demanding a return to Prohibition and rationing as energy supplies dwindle.

Meanwhile, in 1954 New York, the political dynamic has changed and Nimrod finds his department subsumed by a new group, Atoms For Peace, led by the mysterious Evelyn McHale.

As Rad uncovers a new threat to his city, Atoms For Peace prepare their army for a transdimensional invasion. Their goal: total conquest – or destruction – of the Empire State.

File Under: Science Fiction [ Splitting the Atoms | Science Pirate at Large | Crossing | Universal Destruction ]

Also on CR: Interview with Adam Christopher

Upcoming: “The City” by Stella Gemmell (Transworld)

GemmellS-CityStella Gemmell is the wife of the late, great fantasist David Gemmell. Sad to say, I’ve never read any of Gemmell’s work, but based on the description of this upcoming novel, this will change in 2013. (I also have a general desire to read more of the classics of the genre.)

The City is ancient and vast, built up over the millennia, layer upon layer. Once a thriving metropolis, it has sprawled beyond its walls, inciting and waging constant wars with neighbouring tribes and kingdoms – creating a barren wasteland of what was once green and productive.

At the heart of the City lives the emperor. Few have ever seen him, but those who have recall a man in his prime, though he should be very old. Some speculate that he is no longer human, others wonder if indeed he truly ever was. And a small number have come to the desperate conclusion that the only way to stop the City’s incessant war and the constant bloodshed is to end the emperor’s unnaturally long life.

From the maze-like sewers and catacombs below the City, where the poor struggle to stay alive in the dark, to the blood-soaked fields of battle where few heroes manage to survive the never-ending siege, these rebels pin their hopes on one man: Shuskara. Once the emperor’s foremost general, he was betrayed long ago and is believed to be dead. But, under different aliases, he has survived, forsaking his City and hiding from the man to whom he once vowed his allegiance. Now, the time has come for Shuskara to emerge from the shadows and lead a final bid to free the City from those who have brought it and its people to their knees for so long...

The City will be published in April 2013, by Transworld. James Barclay, author of the Chronicles- and Legends of the Raven series (another series I will try in 2013), had this to say about Stella’s upcoming novel:

“This is an astonishing book and all the more amazing given that it is Stella Gemmell’s debut. It combines extraordinary scope with first class characterization, devastating and visceral battles, a multi-layered plot and a tightly-focused narrative that keeps you reading, eager for the next page. The City is easily the best fantasy novel I’ve read in the last decade.”

“Blackest Night” (DC)

BlackestNight-TPBWriter: Geoff Johns | Artist: Ivan Reis | Inks: Oclair Albert, with Rob Hunter (Prologue), Julio Ferreira (#2) & Joe Prado (#3-8) | Colors: Alex Sinclair

Throughout the decades, death has plagued the DC Universe and taken the lives of heroes and villains alike. But to what end? As the War between the different colored Lantern Corps rages on, the prophecy of the Blackest Night descends and it’s up to Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps to lead DC’s greatest champions in a battle to save the Universe from an army of undead Black Lanterns made up of fallen Green Lanterns and DC’s deceased heroes and villains.

Collects: Blackest Night #0-8

This book is, in a word, epic. The story, the action, the consequences are incredible. Unfortunately, that also makes it a little tricky to review. This is set shortly before the New 52 re-launch, and taps into (as far as I can tell) every DC Comics title. The story is very fast-paced, and I couldn’t put it down. It is also, however, a tricky review: given how quickly things start to spiral and take on a life of their own, I have decided to keep story-elements to a minimum.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Reviewer Emotions: Owning It

You don’t like my taste in fiction? You sneer at my fantasy or sci-fi novels? Well, I shall continue to read them openly, proudly and exhibiting the same amount of passion and attitude that Abu does while eating this snack:


Like a boss, I shall read my books…

How ILM made the Avengers Battle Scene in New York

I caught this video via io9, but thought it was interesting enough to post on here, too. I’m addicted to making-of clips from, particularly, sci-fi, fantasy and super-hero movies, so this “Behind the Magic” clip was right up my street:

Check out ILM’s YouTube channel for a few more Behind the Magic clips (for Transformers, Rango, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more).

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Evolution of a Character, but not a Cover


I should state at the outset that I haven’t read a single Vampirella comic. I am trying to expand the range of comics I read (I prefer DC/Vertigo title over most others), and Dynamite have a lot of titles that I think could be really good – I enjoyed the first couple of issues of The Shadow and Spider, for example, and would like to try Masks, Damsels, Pathfinder, more of The Boys, and also Green Hornet (especially since Mark Waid’s going to be handling the series re-launch in March 2013). I also really like dark and gritty vampire stories. So, I started to look in to Vampirella. And, aside from the multiple spin-off series, I noticed something that really irks me about certain comics, given their content and actual stories.

Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child – “Requiem” (Vertigo)

DLVoodooChild-TPBWriter: Selwyn Seyfu Hinds | Artist: Denys Cowan | Inks: Jon Floyd & Don Hudson | Colours: Dave McCaig

Ruling over the most haunted city in America are the powerful Voodoo Queens – but the Queen has been murdered, and Tulane grad student Dominique Laveau is the No. 1 suspect – and marked for death.

One of Vertigo’s new titles from past September, Dominique Laveau is a tale of voodoo, family and blood-ties and -feuds in New Orleans. This is one of the most atmospheric comics I’ve read, and I was hooked by the first issue. I decided to wait, for financial reasons, for the collection. Sadly, I was ultimately disappointed by the book – what had started out as a gripping, gothic supernatural tale, ended up a bit of a muddle.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Interview with ADRIAN FAULKNER


The Four Realms, Adrian Faulkner’s upcoming debut novel, sounds really cool. It’s an interesting new take on Urban Fantasy and parallel cities. After first hearing about the novel and author, which wasn’t that long ago, I thought it would be nice to get in touch with Adrian and see if he could tell us a little more about his work.

“Winner Lose All” by Timothy Zahn (Del Rey, Random House)


A Scoundrels ‘prequel’ eNovella

Lando and a pair of unlikely allies find themselves involved in a dangerous game. Fortunately, Lando can survive against the odds — a skill that he will need in spades.

Lando Calrissian’s no stranger to card tournaments, but this one has a truly electrifying atmosphere. That’s because the prize is a rare sculpture worth a whopping fifty million credits. If Lando’s not careful, he’s going to go bust, especially after meeting identical twins Bink and Tavia Kitik, master thieves who have reason to believe that the sculpture is a fake. The Kitiks are beautiful, dangerous, and determined to set things right — and they’ve convinced Lando to help them expose the scam. But what they’re up against is no simple double cross, nor even a twisted triple cross. It is a full-blown power play of colossal proportions. For an unseen mastermind holds all the cards and has a fail-proof solution for every problem: murder.

This eBook short story doesn’t need a very long review. Indeed, to offer more than passing comment would likely result in the whole thing being spoiled. The story really isn’t very long at all, but it has the classic feel of Zahn’s and others’ classic Star Wars novels.

The heist and the uncovered conspiracy is nicely unveiled, and the pacing is steady. It’s not break-neck, but the story unfolds quickly. Perhaps too quickly: there were a couple of leaps that were needed in order to keep the things going, which made certain progressions a little too fortuitous. I think the story could easily have worked as a longer piece, even a novel, as there was plenty of scope for expansion and exploration – not only of the world, but also the characters we’re introduced to. It could perhaps have been billed as a fourth volume in the Lando Calrissian Adventures (which I would also recommend). I hope some of the new characters re-appear in the future, too – the twins are great, as is their partner.

I found it interesting that Lando, despite being the only figure on the cover, was not as central to the story as I had expected. He is joined by a cast of other scoundrels who are pulling their own scam.

Winner Lose All will serve as a perfect appetizer to tide you over until the release of Scoundrels. Definitely recommended for fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and anyone who wants a short slice of SW conning.

One This Day of Christmas…

… Alyssa helped me pimp my Kindle:


Just in time, too, as there was a crack in the bottom-right corner near the screen. This way, it looks better and should hopefully protect it more.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Reviewer Emotions: Just What I Always Wanted!

This is how we are when we either get an ARC of our favorite author’s latest novel, books for Christmas, or eBook vouchers:


Merry Christmas, everyone.

Art: Saga #8 (Image)

A simple art post for Christmas. Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples’s Saga has been one of the best new comics of this year. And the cover for its eighth issue is just a great image. I love everything about it:


I’ll have the first collection of the series reviewed hopefully in the next week or so.

Monday, December 24, 2012

“Batman: Earth One” (DC)

Batman-EarthOneWriter: Geoff Johns | Artist: Gary Frank | Inks: Jonathan Sibal | Colours: Brad Anderson

Batman is not a hero.

He is just a man.

Fallible, vulnerable, and angry.

In a Gotham City where friend and foe are indistinguishable, Bruce Wayne’s path toward becoming the Dark Knight is riddled with more obstacles than ever before. Focused on punishing his parents’ true killers, and the corrupt police that allowed them to go free, Bruce Wayne’s thirst for vengeance fuels his mad crusade and no one, not even Alfred, can stop him.

Following on from the huge success of Superman: Earth One (both volumes of which have been New York Times bestsellers), Geoff Johns and Gary Frank bring us a new take on the origin of the Dark Knight. It’s an interesting and bold move, actually, given how well the origin story has been re-visited in the New 52 Batman titles. That being said, the Earth One books are meant to be taken as completely separate entities, which is just as well: this is quite excellent.

Reviewer Emotions: Where’d everybody go…?

When site traffic drops (even a little) from the norm, and you wonder if it’s something you did. Waiting patiently for people to come back.


You studiously forget that it’s Christmas, and people probably have more important and fun things to do with their time…

Happy Holidays, everyone. Smile

“Border Crossing” by V.M. Zito (Hodder)

Zito-BorderCrossingA short story intro to the world of The Return Man

Corporal Noah Brodeur’s job is a lonely one. In the aftermath of the outbreak, from his remote Canadian border station, Brodeur must guard the Slinky: a formidable wall protecting his countrymen from the Evacuated States and the ravenous creatures that roam there.

All is quiet until the day a stranger emerges from the safe side of the forest. He says he is on a classified mission for the CIA. He says his name is Special Agent Kenneth Wu. He demands that Brodeur break rank and allow him across the border into danger.

But when everything is at stake, can appearances be trusted? And on the edge of civilisation, who is more dangerous, the living… or the dead?

Border Crossing is set before the events of The Return Man. Instead of focusing on Henry Marco, the star of the novel, this short story is about a Canadian border guard, Brodeur, and tells us the story of Kheng Wu’s infiltration into the Evacuated States. The story’s pretty short, so there’s not a great deal of time to offer a ton of world-building or character development. But, as an introduction to the world, this works rather well.

I imagine I look like this an awful lot…


This was also true for the last couple of years of my PhD… I hope my life continues to be filled by writing. Perhaps with a little more sophistication…

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Upcoming: “Black Feathers” by Joseph D’Lacey (Angry Robot)

DLacey-BL1-BlackFeathersI only just spotted this title, while perusing Angry Robot’s website for info I needed for a different post. That cover really caught my eye, and I had to feature it on here. Speaking of the cover, I particularly like that the design was done by a company called “ARGH! Oxford”…

Black Feathers is the first novel in D’Lacey’s Black Dawn duology.

A modern fantasy set in two epochs: the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, and generations into the future in its aftermath, the Bright Day.

In each era, a child undertakes a perilous journey to find a dark messiah known as The Crowman. In their hands lies the fate of the planet as they attempt to discover whether The Crowman is our saviour… or the final incarnation of evil.

File Under: Fantasy

Black Feathers will be published in March/April 2013. Find out more on D’Lacey’s website.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Upcoming: “Thieves’ Quarry” by D.B. Jackson (Tor)

JacksonDB-ThievesQuarryD.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker is one of the other 2012 novels that managed to slip by me. The sequel to this historical-urban-fantasy, Thieves’ Quarry, will be published by Tor in July 2013 – hopefully I’ll be able to catch up for the first novel before this one hits shelves.

Murder, magic, and politics make Ethan Kaille a target in the powder keg of pre-Revolutionary War Boston

Ethan Kaille isn’t the likeliest hero. A former sailor with a troubled past, Ethan is a thieftaker, using conjuring skills to hunt down those who steal from the good citizens of Boston. And while chasing down miscreants in 1768 makes his life a perilous one, the simmering political tensions between loyalists like himself and rabble-rousing revolutionaries like Samuel Adams and others of his ilk are perhaps even more dangerous to his health.

When one hundred sailors of King George III’s Royal Navy are mysteriously killed on a ship in Boston Harbor, Ethan is thrust into dire peril. For he — and not Boston’s premier thieftaker, Sephira Pryce — is asked to find the truth behind their deaths. City Sheriff Edmund Greenleaf suspects conjuring was used in the dastardly crime, and even Pryce knows that Ethan is better equipped to contend with matters of what most of Boston considers dark arts. But even Ethan is daunted by magic powerful enough to fell so many in a single stroke. When he starts to investigate, he realizes that the mass murderer will stop at nothing to evade capture. And making his task more difficult is the British fleet’s occupation of the city after the colonials' violent protests after the seizure of John Hancock’s ship. Kaille will need all his own magic, street smarts, and a bit of luck to keep this Boston massacre from giving the hotheads of Colonial Boston an excuse for inciting a riot — or worse.

This, like the first in the series, sounds like a novel that I should enjoy. If you’d like to try the novel, Jackson has posted a sample (the first three chapters) on his website. You can also find a sample of Thieftaker, here.

Also on CR: Interview with D.B. Jackson

Upcoming: “NOS4R2”/“NOS4A2” by Joe Hill (Gollancz/William Morrow)


This is next novel from the author of Horns, Heart-Shaped Box, and the ongoing Locke & Key comic series. The title is slightly different in the UK and US (as you can see in the title of this post).

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

NOS4R2/NOS4A2 will be published in April 2013. In related Joe Hill news, Horns will be hitting movie theaters in 2013 and stars Daniel Radcliffe in the lead role, Ig Perrish.

Upcoming: “Herald of the Storm” by Richard Ford (Headline)

Ford-HeraldOfTheStormI haven’t heard much about this novel, but I caught a brief mention of it on Fantasy Faction’s run-down of their most-anticipated novels of 2013. (It was an honorable mention.) I did some digging, and found… not a whole lot more, actually. I did managed to get the synopsis, though, and it’s piqued my interest:

Welcome to Steelhaven... Under the reign of King Cael the Uniter, this vast cityport on the southern coast has for years been a symbol of strength, maintaining an uneasy peace throughout the Free States. But now a long shadow hangs over the city, in the form of the dread Elharim warlord, Amon Tugha. When his herald infiltrates the city, looking to exploit its dangerous criminal underworld, and a terrible dark magick that has long been buried once again begins to rise, it could be the beginning of the end.

Described as “A new epic fantasy for fans of Joe Abercrombie and George R.R. Martin” (there’s an original tag-line…), Herald of the Storm will be published in the UK in April 2013.

I’ve been trying to figure out if the author is the same Richard Ford who wrote Canada and The Sportswriter. Very different novels, but it would make this an even more interesting proposition.

Update/Correction: I managed to find out that it is not the Canada/Sportswriter Richard Ford. Rather, it’s the Richard Ford who wrote the well-received Kultus. More information can be found on the author’s Website and Twitter.

Green Lantern: New Guardians, Vol.1 – “The Ring Bearer” (DC)

GLNewGuardians-Vol.1Writer: Tony Bedard | Artist: Tyler Kirkham & Harvey Tolibao (#2,3) | Inks: Batt | Colours: Nei Ruffino

Green Lantern Kyle Rayner finds himself at odds with the Guardians of the Universe when rings from all the separate Lantern Corps come to claim him. But the other Corps aren’t too keen on the Green Lanterns stealing their rings…

Collects: Green Lantern: New Guardians #1-7

Continuing my Green Lantern reading binge, Green Lantern: New Guardians is a bit of a different title. It follows another human Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner (I haven’t yet figured out why there are so many from Earth…). He has the typical anti-authoritarian streak that characterizes most of the human Lanterns, and is a bit more cheeky to boot. The story isn’t as tight as Geoff Johns’s from Green Lantern, but it’s fun and action-packed nevertheless.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Recent Acquisitions (November/December)


A pre-Christmas selection of books that I’ve received or purchased over the last few weeks. A very nice selection, all told – only one book probably won’t be reviewed, and that’s because it’s the fifth book in a series I’ve never read. [See below – I’m offering it to a US/Canadian in return for a guest review.]

WE SURVIVED! So here’s a Giveaway from Night Shade Books…

So, we all made it through the Mayan Apocalypse that wasn’t. I won’t lie, I’m a little disappointed nothing happened (it could have been interesting…), but whatyagonnado? There is, however, one reason to be very thankful that we all made it, and that’s this new giveaway from Night Shade Books! The directions are really very simple:

1). Send an email to

2). You’ll receive an auto response with a username, password and link to our download site

3). Visit the site.

4). You’ll then be able to download the .epub or .mobi files of three of Night Shade’s most exciting and appropriately apocalyptic titles:


That’s a pretty awesome selection.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Upcoming UK Edition: E.J. Swift’s OSIRIS (Del Rey/Ebury)

A very quick cover post, this time for the upcoming UK edition of E.J. Swift’s dystopian Osiris. The book will be published under Ebury’s SFF imprint, Del Rey, in February 2013. Here’s the artwork:


Osiris is a lost city. She has lost the world and the world has lost her…

Adelaide Rechnov, wealthy socialite and granddaughter of the Architect, spends her time in pointless luxury, rebelling against her family in a series of jaded social extravagances and scandals until her twin brother disappears in mysterious circumstances.

Vikram Bai lives in the Western Quarter, home to the poor descendants of storm refugees and effectively quarantined from the wealthy elite. His people live with cold and starvation, but the brutal winter coming promises civil unrest, and a return to the riots of previous years.

Brought together by circumstance and fate, these two very different people attempt to bridge the divide lurking at the heart of Osiris, but who is using whom, and what secrets will they uncover?

Find out more about Osiris in my interview with E.J. Swift and also on the author’s website.

Ones That Got Away 2012…

ReadingPilesOfBooksI’ve already said I didn’t want to do a “Best Of 2012” post, so instead I’m going to look at the books I really wish I’d been able to read this past year. These books I was just not able to get around to this year, due to any number of unforeseen circumstances (usually because I was distracted by another book released this year).

In no particular order, this is actually just a small selection of the books that slipped by me (there are so many, I’ll probably do another similar post next week). I’ve included synopses and a few comments for some of them.

[Above image from here.]

Green Lantern, Vol.2 – “Revenge of Black Hand” (DC)

GreenLantern-Vol.02Writer: Geoff Johns | Artists: Doug Mahnke, Ethan van Sciver, Pete Woods, Renato Guedes & Jim Calafiore | Inks: Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Doug Mahnke, Tom Nguyen, Ethan van Sciver, Renato Guedes, Jim Calafiore & Cam Smith | Colours: Alex Sinclair, Hi-Fi & Tony Avina

Hal Jordan and Sinestro find themselves investigating a crime that leads them deep into the homeworld of the Indigo Tribe. As their situation grows more and more dire, the unlikely team of these two Lanterns uncovers a secret that will change the Green Lantern Corps forever!

Collects: Green Lantern #7-12 & Annual #1

Following hot on the heels of the excellent first collection, “Revenge of the Black Hand” ups the ante and continues the strong story-telling I’ve found in the whole series. Consider me a convert to Green Lantern and its related series. This is another great book.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Green Lantern, Vol.1 – “Sinestro” (DC)

GreenLantern-Vol.01Writer: Geoff Johns | Artist: Doug Mahnke & Mike Choi (#6) | Inks: Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin & Tom Nguyen | Colours: David Baron, Alex Sinclair, Mike Choi & Tony Avina

In the aftermath of a deadly showdown between the Green Lantern Corps and a mysterious foe from the past, Hal Jordan has been stripped of his ring. Left standing is an unexpected new Green Lantern: Sinestro! And now, this renegade Lantern has set a course for his homeworld, Korugar with one purpose: To free his people from the scourge of his own Sinestro Corps, with the not-so-willing help of Hal Jordan.

Collects: Green Lantern #1-6

I started reading Sinestro after finishing a novel at about 2am. I wasn’t tired, and I thought I’d give the series a try. For some reason, I had been hesitant to buy any of the New 52 Lantern-related series. With a lack (at that time) of knowledge of the Green Lantern universe and mythology, I just wasn’t as interested as I was in Batman- and Superman-related titles. After reading and enjoying a couple of the other Lantern series (GL Corps and Red Lanterns, for example), I dove right into this one with high expectations. Thankfully, this collection exceeded them, and I found it to be quite excellent.

“The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2013”, Table of Contents (Prime)

grunge border and backgroundI don’t think I’ve ever picked up one of the Year’s Best fiction books. I once bought one of the politics collections, because it had an article by Matt Taibbi in it. This year’s SFF collection, however, looks pretty good – not to mention containing authors whose work I’m both aware of and interested in. [I found out about it from SF Signal. The book is published by Prime Books.]

This could be a good end-of-year read, or gift for the SFF fan in your life, or even a good place to start for someone who wants to give the genres a try. When you consider that the book features such rising stars as Aliette de Bodard, a slew of (to me) unknowns, and more established authors like Ursula le Guin, Jay Lake and Robert Charles Wilson, this is a pretty solid selection.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sharpe’s New Jackets (Harper)

I started reading Bernard Cornwell’s novels in the Summer of 2001 – it was the end of my first year at university, and I picked up Harlequin. Being the author-obsessive that I was at the time (I would find an established author, read everything he/she wrote), I picked up Sharpe’s Tiger. And was hooked. I proceeded to read every Sharpe book that was published at the time and, after moving there for a year, even ordered them to Japan. (Oh, the postage charge!)

Harper have just re-released the entire series with some very nice, vintage-look jackets. As I’m probably not going to be re-reading them and reviewing them any time soon, I thought I would nevertheless share some of the new covers.


Justice League International, Vol.2 – “Breakdown” (DC)

JLInternational-Annual-01-ArtWriters: Dan Jurgens, Geoff Johns, Dan DiDio, Ethan Van Sciver & Joe Harris | Artists: Aaron Lopresti, Jason Fabok & Yildiray Cinar | Inks: Matt Ryan, Jason Fabok, Marlo Alquiza & Norm Rapmund | Colours: Hi-Fi & Jeromy Cox

Trying to collect themselves after an extra-terrestrial attack and death of a teammate, members of Justice League International expected to bask in glory and appreciation. However, Booster Gold, Guy Gardner, Batman and company are learning that's not the case as a new threat, one far more dangerous than anyone dared suspect. Called Breakdown, he emerges and attacks with dire results, forever altering the team and sending it in a bold, new and unexpected direction!

Collects: Justice League International #7-12, Annual #1

This is the final volume of Justice League International. And, sadly, I can see why the series was put out to pasture. The series was amusing in its slight-badness in the first volume, but the first couple of chapters in this book perfectly highlighted the flaws and weaknesses in the series. I can’t speak to whether or not the authors just didn’t have their hearts in it, but it never reached the heights it should have. Also? That’s an awful lot of cooks in the creative roster...

Monday, December 17, 2012

“Prince of Thorns” by Mark Lawrence (Voyager/Ace)

Lawrence-PrinceOfThornsReview by Abhinav

“Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me, I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother’s tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that’s true enough, but there’s something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.”

From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father’s castle, Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

As I remarked in my review of Mazarkis Williams' The Emperor's Knife, I rarely do negative reviews. I fully support doing negative reviews, but I try and do as few of them as possible, since I’m far more interested in telling my readers about the great books that I’ve enjoyed reading. Mark Lawrence’s debut novel from last year, Prince of Thorns, unfortunately falls in the category of novels that I did not enjoy reading at all. It wasn’t as tough a read as The Emperor's Knife, but it was quite close.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

“The Darlings” by Cristina Alger (Penguin)


A NY Society Novel set during the Financial Crisis

Since he married Merrill Darling, daughter of billionaire financier Carter Darling, attorney Paul Ross has grown accustomed to all the luxuries of Park Avenue. But a tragic event is about to catapult the Darling family into the middle of a massive financial investigation and a red-hot scandal. Suddenly, Paul must decide where his loyalties really lie.

I first heard of this novel when the author was doing a signing at my then-local Barnes & Noble. I have a weakness for anything set in New York, so The Darlings automatically went onto my “To Read” list. Quite some time has passed since then, and I’ve finally managed to get around to reading The Darlings. Sadly, it was a disappointment. While tightly written, I was unable to develop even a remotely sympathetic attachment to the main characters. Perhaps a victim of its relatively short length, I found this novel wanting.

This Explains Me Rather Well…

December 14th, 2012 Beardo, by Dan Dougherty:


Beardo is one of my latest daily-comic finds, and it’s one that I’ve quickly come to very much enjoy. It’s a gentle humour, but one that’s perfect for first thing in the morning. Highly recommended.

Also, this one:


Upcoming: “The Thousand Names” by Django Wexler (Random House/Penguin)

Thousand Names.inddThe first book in The Shadow Campaigns series, I think this sounds pretty cool and is one of my most-anticipated books of 2013 (which looks to be a pretty awesome year for debuts).

Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost. But that was before a rebellion upended his life. And once the powder-smoke settled, he was left in charge of a demoralized force clinging tenuously to a small fortress at the edge of the desert.

To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must win the hearts of her men, and lead them into battle against impossible odds.

But the fates of both of these soldiers, and all the men they lead, depend on the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has been sent by the ailing king to restore order. His military genius seems to know no bounds, and under his command, Marcus and Winter can feel the tide turning.

But their allegiance will be tested as they begin to suspect that the enigmatic Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural — a realm with the power to ignite a meteoric rise, reshape the known world, and change the lives of everyone in its path.

The Thousand Names will be published in July 2013 (Random House in the UK and Penguin in the US). For more on Django and his novels, be sure to follow him on Twitter (he’s a very nice chap).

Upcoming: “The Wolverine”

Once again starring Hugh Jackman, The Wolverine will reach theatres in July 2013.

Friday, December 14, 2012

“Ravenwing” by Gav Thorpe (Black Library)

Thorpe-RavenwingFast-paced Dark Angels action and intrigue

The Ravenwing stand apart from the rest of the Dark Angels Chapter – these dynamic Space Marines take to the battlefield upon steeds of adamantium and plasteel, and swoop from the skies in lightning-fast speeders to bring death to the foes of the Imperium.

When he joins their prestigious ranks, Brother Annael finds himself thrust into a whole new world of shadowy intrigue, and privy to secrets unknown to his common battle-brothers. In the wake of the conflict at Kadillus, hints of a dark conspiracy begin to emerge, and it soon becomes apparent that the Ravenwing has a sacred duty far more vital than hunting down orks...

Following on from the events in Purging of Kadillus and Angels of Darkness, Ravenwing marks the beginning of a new Dark Angels trilogy, The Legacy of Caliban. The novel focuses on the fast-attack specialists in the Dark Angels’ Second Company, the titular Ravenwing, the secrets they are privy to, and their all-consuming drive to preserve the Legion’s honour. True to the force’s nature, this is an action-packed story, but one supported by some more revelations about the Dark Angels difficult history and ultimate secret. It’s a solid start to the trilogy, and delves expertly into the psyche of the Dark Angels.

Savage Hawkman, Vol.1 – “Darkness Rising” (DC)

SavageHawkman-01-ArtWriters: Tony S. Daniel & James Bonny | Artists: Philip Tan & Cliff Richards | Colours: Sunny Gho

Carter Hall is back as the Savage Hawkman. Carter’s skill at deciphering lost languages has led him to a job with an archaeologist who specializes in alien ruins. But one of his latest discoveries is Morphicius, whose deadly power helps to spread an alien plague through New York City. With innocent lives in the balance, Carter Hall must use the power of the Nth metal bonded to his body to don his wings and become Hawkman…

I’ve already reviewed the first three issues of this series on the site, but this is a complete review, and incorporates some of my earlier comments. My initial thoughts stuck around for the whole series, and I think it is a pretty strong overall story, complemented by some great artwork. The antagonists are interesting and original, and the struggles against them are fast-paced and pretty no-nonsense. It’s not the best series in the New 52, but that’s not to say it’s bad.

Writing Tip #1: Puppies

If you find yourself confronted by the decision “To kill the puppy, or not to kill the puppy?”

… Don’t kill the puppy.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

An Interview with LUKE SCULL


Back in August, I stumbled across Head of Zeus, a new UK-based publishing company. As I am wont to do, I did some browsing in their catalog, and was pleasantly surprised to notice that a) they have a very diverse list, and b) they will be publishing Luke Scull’s The Grim Company series. After some Googling to find out more about the series, I put the series on the Must Read list. I also got in touch with Luke, and pestered him with some questions…

Upcoming: Red Hood & The Outlaws #18 (DC)

This is a very simple art/cover post. Just look at this cinematic artwork for the 18th issue (published March 20, 2013):


The stunning cover is by Mico Suayan. The series continues to be written by Scott Lobdell, with internal art by Timothy Green II. Here’s the issue synopsis:

Jason Todd suffered terribly at the hands of The Joker in DEATH OF THE FAMILY, and now he’s changing the Outlaws’ mission! Something is bound to break with all that’s happened… will it be Jason’s soul?

Monday, December 10, 2012

“The President’s Vampire” by Christopher Farnsworth (Hodder/Putnam)


The second Cade horror-thriller. Featuring rampaging lizardmen!

For 140 years, Nathaniel Cade has been the President’s Vampire, sworn to protect and serve his country. Cade’s existence is the most closely guarded of White House secrets: a superhuman covert agent who is the last line of defense against nightmare scenarios that ordinary citizens only dream of.

When a new outbreak of an ancient evil-one that he has seen before- comes to light, Cade and his human handler, Zach Barrows, must track down its source. To “protect and serve” often means settling old scores and confronting new betrayals… as only a centuries-old predator can.

Blood Oath, the first book in this series, took me rather by surprise. I approached it expecting a schlocky horror story, but instead got a pretty polished Urban Fantasy thriller, set in the world of politics and presidential power. It’s taken me a little while to get around to this second novel, but now that I’ve read it I think it’s safe to say Farnsworth is going to be a staple for the site. The story is interesting, and builds nicely on what we got in book one; although it’s not quite as assured, strangely (there were just a couple of niggles). As with the first, I raced through The President’s Vampire – it’s taughtly written, great fun, and blends the aesthetic of Supernatural (the TV series) with the stylistic sensibilities of a thriller. This is pretty great.

Justice League, Vol.2 – “The Villain’s Journey” (DC)

JusticeLeague-Vol.2Writer: Geoff Johns | Artist: Jim Lee, Carlos D’Anda, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Scott Williams, Gene Ha

The Justice League is the greatest force for good the world has ever seen. But not everyone sees them that way.

Their never-ending battle against evil results in casualties beyond its super-powered, costumed combatants. The League’s attempts to safeguard innocent lives cannot save everybody. Unbeknownst to Earth’s greatest champions, their greatest triumph may contain the seeds of their greatest defeat.

For heroes are not the only people who face tragedy and are reborn as something greater than they were before. Villains can take this journey, too.

And once they start out on this dark path, the road could lead straight to the destruction of the Justice League…

Collects: Justice League #7-12

I read Justice League #1-9 as single issues, so I read this collection mainly so I could catch up. It’s a solid series and, while I sometimes wonder at the overall structure and direction of the series (there are altogether too many ‘hints’ for the future), one that is very enjoyable to read.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Upcoming: More Horus Heresy! (Black Library)


I’ve been able to find the covers for the next three Horus Heresy releases, and I thought I’d share them in a single post. Each one has superb artwork, and I am of course ridiculously eager to get my mitts on the books… The Heresy series is shaping up to be one of the best epic sci-fi series available now. With the new range of Hardcovers (complete with wrap-around covers and internal art), it’s also a great time for collectors to start reading the series.

As things move into the Heresy proper, as some of the Traitor Legions embrace Chaos, things are going to get very interesting indeed…

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Upcoming: “The Grim Company” by Luke Scull (Head of Zeus)

Scull-1-GrimCompanyI only discovered Head of Zeus, a new UK-based publishing company, in August. A manuscript submission I was reading turned out to have already been snapped up by HoZ (much to my chagrin, as I really enjoyed it – although, I at least know the book’s going to see the light of day). I did some digging, and the publisher looks like it’s going to have a very interesting, not to mention diverse, list.

Luke Scull’s The Grim Company is one I think fantasy fans should definitely keep their eyes open for:

The grey granite walls of Dorminia rise to three times the height of a man, surrounding the city on all sides save for the south, where the Broken Sea begins. The stone is three-foot thick at its weakest point and can withstand all but the heaviest assault. The Crimson Watch patrol the streets even as Salazar's Mindhawks patrol the skies.

The Grey City was not always so. But something has changed. Something has broken at its heart. Perhaps the wild magic of the dead Gods has corrupted Dorminia's Magelord, as it has the earth itself. Or perhaps this iron-fisted tyranny is the consequence of a lifetime of dark deeds...

Still, pockets of resistance remain. When two formidable Highlanders save the life of a young rebel, it proves the foundation for an unlikely fellowship. A fellowship united against tyranny, but composed of self-righteous outlaws, crippled turncoats and amoral mercenaries. A grim company. But with the world entering an Age of Ruin, this is not a time of heroes...

The Grim Company, the first book in the eponymous series, will be published in February (eBook) and March (Hardcover) 2013. I’m going to do my best to get it reviewed and, if possible, Mr Scull interviewed… Watch this space.

Check out Luke Scull’s website for more information. Luke also works as the lead designer at Ossian, the game company that brought us The Witcher.

[Correction: Ossian developed the expansion to The Witcher. Apologies!]

Upcoming: “Wolfhound Century” by Peter Higgins (Orbit/Gollancz)

Higgins-WolfhoundCenturyIn the first of this week’s Upcoming news posts, I give you Peter Higgins’s Wolfhound Century. It appears to be a Russian-set Urban Fantasy, which will be a nice alternative to London- and/or US-based UFs. It’s another title I heard about a while ago (when the artwork was first revealed earlier in the year), and I think it sounds really interesting:

Inspector Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist — and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police. A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown terrorism with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists. Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head.

On Orbit’s blog, back in March, their article about the book was entitled “Golems, Gulags, and Sentient Rain”… How can that not grab your attention?

Lauren Panepinto designed the excellent cover art.

Wolfhound Century will be published by Orbit US in March 2013.


Update: Just noticed that Wolfhound Century will be published in the UK by Gollancz, also in March 2013.