Monday, September 21, 2009

“The Drowning City”, by Amanda Downum (Orbit)


Politics, mercenaries, revolution, and restless dead...

Amanda Downum’s debut novel, set in the dangerous, dark alleyways of a port city on the edge of a corrupt empire, is an intriguing and promising series beginning from a gifted new voice on the fantasy scene; one filled with original takes on popular fantasy tropes, an eye for detail, and an excellent, evocative writing style.

Isyllt Iskaldur, our protagonist, must find and finance a growing number of rumoured revolutionaries in the city of Symir, a home to exiles and expatriates, smugglers and pirates. On behalf of her country, who fears the Emperor’s attention has turned northwards, with an eye to conquest, Isyllt must help the eclectically-mixed Symir people bring down their distant Imperial rulers. A necromancer and a spy, accompanied by two unfamiliar mercenaries, she must find a way to complete her mission, topple the palaces of Symir, and prove herself to the crown and her mentor, Kiril (who seems to be the real power behind the throne, as someone actually aware of the international political environment). But, in a land where even the dead are plotting (a great addition to the story), and revolutionaries are not all on the same page, Isyllt will be lucky to escape with her life intact.

The Drowning City is filled with very interesting and inspired twists on familiar and popular fantasy tropes. Necromancy, for example, seems to be far more related to ghosts and spirits, rather than reanimation and zombies (though possession remains a concern). Downum has created a very intriguing system of magic in general, too – it is more functional than flashy, and isn’t used as a plot crutch when things get difficult. Her characters are well-rounded and almost uniformly complex and slightly damaged, which makes for engaging dialogue and internal monologues, as well as hidden motivations. From Isyllt’s lack of self-confidence, Xinai’s ruthless hunger for revenge, and Adam’s wariness around Isyllt (not to mention the complicating relationship between Adam and Xinai), the cast of characters are interesting enough and complex enough to offer plenty of scope for later instalments of the series.

The world Downum has created is more Asian in style and influences, which makes for another inspired and refreshing difference, evocatively brought to life in her prose. All too frequently, fantasy authors will create their worlds around an Italian-city-state base, or medieval European (though, to be fair, authors like Scott Lynch do this very well indeed), which makes The Drowning City a breath of fresh air. As someone who has lived in a number of Asian countries (just as Downum has), I think the author has captured the feel and flavours of Asian cities and locales extremely well, expertly transferring them to her world.

So far, so good. Indeed, the author’s approach to the supernatural and occult is also original and very well done: ghosts, for example, are actually scary, vindictive and everywhere. Nobody seems to be safe from their attempts at mischief and/or violence towards the living – for this reason, the whole city of Symir is warded against spiritual incursions. If you are familiar with the TV series Supernatural, you will appreciate Downum’s approach to ghosts and beasties.

Downum’s plot and feel for political intrigue is assured and well-executed, making this a far more involved read than many fantasy novels. However, it is also where the book suffers. For an opening novel, The Drowning City is actually surprisingly short given the task Downum has set herself. Traditionally, fantasy series start with a mammoth tome (600+ pages – just look at Scott Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamorra and Kevin J. Anderson’s The Edge of the World). Some find these unwieldy and slow – which is often a reasonable opinion. However, given the amount of information presented to the reader in opening chapters of The Drowning City, I can’t help wishing Downum had written a longer book, taken more time to outline the factions and nations involved – the first two chapters were far too loaded with names and information, without leaving much opportunity for it all to percolate into our minds before bombarding us with some more! A minor gripe, but I did find myself flicking back to the handy map at the beginning to make sure I was thinking of the right nation(s).

Needless to say, this is a great opening volume in a series that promises a great deal. I’d recommend you leave yourself a good solid amount of time (minus interruptions) to get your teeth stuck into this, as it is a rewarding and original fantasy. Political intrigue, idealistic (read “naive”) revolutionaries exploited as puppets for greater powers, and a cast of interesting and complex characters, make The Drowning City a very satisfying read.

Also try: Gail Z. Martin, The Chronicles of the Necromancer; Peter V. Brett, The Painted Man; Scott Lynch, Lies of Locke Lamorra; Brent Weeks, Night Angel Trilogy; anything by Maria V. Snyder; anything by Karen Miller; Chris Wooding, The Braided Path series

Thursday, September 17, 2009

“Emperor’s Mercy”, by Henry Zou (Black Library)


Behind enemy lines, Inquisitor Roth attempts to thwart the machinations of the Archenemy

Inquisitor Obadiah Roth and his band of henchman have been sent to the worlds of the Medina Corridor to investigate the motives of the invading Ironclads – an armada of Chaos raiders and traitors. Roth’s mission is to uncover the location and potential of a set of ancient artefacts, known as the Old Kings of Medina, infiltrating a number of worlds subjugated by Chaos. Meanwhile, the Ironclads have invaded the subsector in search of these artefacts, naturally ensuring that the Inquisition will do anything and everything to deny them this goal – even though Roth and his team know nothing of the whereabouts or characteristics of the artefacts. With the Ironclads' indomitable army crushing all before it, interference from the Lord High Marshall of the Medina fleet, and internal Imperial politics, will Roth be able to find the artefacts in time to prevent a cataclysm from engulfing the Medina worlds?

Henry Zou is one of the Black Library’s most-hotly-anticipated new authors, and this is his first novel for the publisher. Drawing on some of the standard tropes of Warhammer 40,000 novels, the action in plentiful and detailed, and the background politics and intrigue well-constructed. It is, however, a somewhat frustrating read.

Zou has an incredible imagination and, coupled with his knowledge of the military and combat (he’s in the New Zealand army) has created a series that is far more developed and original than most, while still faithfully set in the familiar WH40k. The worlds Roth is despatched to are well-formed, intriguing locales for his characters to explore and survive – Middle Eastern, Asian and other influences are on display, but with Zou’s original twist and merging of them all to create something truly unique and special. Roth and his team are an interesting, diverse selection of characters – huntsman Bastiel Silverstein, Roth’s oldest companion; untested fellow Inquisitor Celeminé, far deadlier than she appears; and Roth’s young adjutant, Captain Pradal. The Ironclads are a gruesome, brutal enemy for our protagonists, and they are well portrayed in Zou’s writing. This is also true of the action and battle scenes and sequences, which are well-paced and authentically written. The premise of the story made me want to snap this up as soon as I first read about it, with expectations of more in the vein of Dan Abnett’s Ravenor and Eisenhorn series – i.e. with a focus on individual Inquisitiors and their missions.

Why, then, is Emperor’s Mercy a frustrating read? Well, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the author’s obsessive attention to detail makes the novel feel over-written, as he provides more than necessary (too much) to set his scenes. Zou seems to want the reader to see exactly what he saw in his mind when writing – an admirable goal, but an unrealistic one, which has this negative side-effect. This is not necessarily always a bad thing, but there are times when he lets the exposition run away from him, and it’s clear that his editor decided that streamlining of Zou’s prose was optional – sometimes, we don’t need everything described (especially weaponry). He would have done a better job if he’d reined himself in a bit, increasing the pace and in-turn increasing the tension and intensity. The dialogue, too, can sometimes feel a bit off. The second issue is, ironically considering the first, that Inquisitor Roth is never fully fleshed out in the novel. I assume we’ll get a little more character development over the course of the series (even though the next book, Flesh & Iron – out April 2010, is a prequel).

Despite these two points, Henry Zou shows a huge amount of promise to rise to the upper ranks of Black Library’s roster, maybe just behind Dan Abnett and William King – the best authors writing in the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 universes (Nathan Long is getting a lot better, too). As a debut, Emperor’s Mercy shows a gifted author finding his feet, and I have no doubt that, over the course of his writing career, he will improve in leaps and bounds – if he can reign in the tautology, and keep his inventive premises, there’s no reason he shouldn’t become an essential read for wider sci-fi fans, too.

This review has a more-negative tone than intended: the novel contains quite a few flashes of genius (be they plot- or style-related), but there’s definitely a little way to go before Zou’s writing can really be considered ‘excellent’ or, given a little more time, ‘exceptional’.

An great new voice on the publisher’s roster, Zou’s writing will breathe some new life into the Warhammer 40,000 universe. A very promising debut, Zou is one an author to watch.

Also try: Dan Abnett’s Eisenhorn and Ravenor series (available as omnibus editions); Sandy Mitchell’s Scourge the Heretic and Innocence Proves Nothing (released Nov.2009)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

“Abyss”, by Troy Denning (Century)


Part Three of the Fate of the Jedi sequence

The search to understand Jacen’s slide into the Dark Side continues, as Luke and Ben Skywalker journey deep into the Maw – a deadly cluster of black holes, in the centre of which a powerful evil has taken refuge; it is enormously strong and has its own special plans for Luke Skywalker. Father and son are not alone in their quest, however, as a Sith Master and her apprentice (along with a ship-load of Sith warriors) have been tracking “Ship”, a Sith meditation sphere, as well as the Skywalkers, intent on killing the Jedi and recovering the sphere.

Meanwhile, back on Coruscant, the mysterious illness afflicting young Jedi continues to confound Leia, Han and the Jedi medical teams. Leads emerge, perhaps linking the illness to Shelter, the hidden base where young Jedi were protected during the recent galactic civil war (detailed in the events of the Legacy of the Force series), which was located in the Maw. While struggling to find a cure, our heroes (aided by Jagged Fel, the Chief of State of the Imperial Remnant) must also navigate Coruscant politics and the devious maneuvering of Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala, who remains intent on bringing the Jedi Order to heel. On top of this, a particularly unscrupulous and determined journalist has been shadowing Jedi, broadcasting every fault and slip.

Troy Denning is certainly one of the better authors working on the Star Wars series (and we can therefore forgive his tendency to come up with awful ‘futuristic’ swear-words), and Abyss lived up to my expectations in terms of the quality of the writing – in fact, slightly exceeding them. The novel takes a slightly darker turn, as Luke and Ben are confronted with some decidedly twisted, utterly alien and horrific things while in the Maw.

The thread involving the Jedi-sickness is finally linked with Luke and Ben’s journey, which will be of interest to those who thought it was becoming a little repetitive and aimless (after only two books); there are only so many times you can read that another Jedi has been struck demented, with no cure in sight, before it starts to look like a pointless plot device to keep Han and Leia in the story. This plot-thread does remain the weaker part of the series, it must be said (see later, though).

The increased attention given to Vestara and her Sith leaders and comrades is welcome, as we learn more about the Lost Tribe of the Sith and their motivations (introduced in the eBook novella series of the same name, reviewed here and here) – one thing that comes across here is that, if the Sith weren’t so intent on their personal Machiavellian politics, they might get a bit more conquering and subjugating done, instead of expending so much energy on bickering and infighting.

Denning’s prose are fluid and tightly-written, the plotting is very fast-paced (I read this book very quickly indeed), with a healthy balance between action, occasional wit, and ever-more detail of the Star Wars universe and those who inhabit it. I would have preferred if the plot and series as a whole were more focused on Luke and Ben’s journey, as I believe all three writers for this series have managed to create and maintain an interesting dynamic between father and son hitherto unexplored in much detail. It’s clear that Ben is going to be a major (if not the major) character in the future, so it would make sense to develop him further.

I still harbour a few doubts over the wisdom of a nine-book series, rather than taught trilogies – just compare the quality of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy, Kevin J. Andersen’s Jedi Academy trilogy, and Roger MacBride Allen’s Corellian Trilogy to some recent novels (the Coruscant Nights trilogy comes to mind), and you’ll see a huge difference. The Fate of the Jedi series, it must be said, is proving far more interesting and intriguing, with more potential than its predecessor – while the Legacy of the Force was still a very good series, with hindsight I can’t avoid the impression that the story was dragged out a longer than necessary: the ending was a foregone conclusion, therefore nine novels seemed excessive. Abyss, however, has done a lot to persuade me that a longer, more-epic series like this can work, as Luke and Ben’s discoveries in the Maw (and a few surprises nearing the end of the novel) have considerable potential to drastically effect the Jedi and the galaxy.

Fate of the Jedi has, therefore, plenty of opportunity and scope to develop in a number of ways. This should make it an exceptional addition to the Star Wars canon, and keep long-time fans satisfied and coming back for more, while also gaining the attention of new or skeptical readers. Abyss does an admirable job of answering some questions while also posing new ones, ensuring interest in the series remains high, with Denning’s writing showing that this expectation is well-deserved.

Sci-fi action in the classic style we’ve come to love and expect from the Star Wars brand, mixed with a greater attention to the political and philosophical (though without becoming pretentious or Trek-y), Abyss is a very enjoyable read. I would certainly recommend it to all fans of the Star Wars franchise, and I think new fans will also get a great deal of enjoyment from reading this series.

Series Chronology: Outcast, Omen, Abyss, Backlash (Feb.2010), Allies (Apr.2010), Vortex (Aug.2010), Conviction (Nov.2010), FotJ #8 (Jan.2011), FotJ #9 (Apr.2011)

To judge a book…

It’s the oldest piece of advice in the world, not to judge a book by its cover, but in these fantasy-novel cases it’s almost impossible not to be completely taken with them before you’ve had any opportunity to see them in stores, let alone read them. So, a minor break away from reviewing, here’s a post of previews.

1. Mark Charan Newton’s City of Ruin, the second volume in the Legends of the Red Sun series (synopsis, etc., can be found at the author’s website, here):


2. Also from Tor/PanMacmillan is Col Buchanan’s upcoming Farlander (March 2010). It’s not quite as eye-popping as Newton’s, but there’s something about it that is darkly, beautifully evocative:


3. From Orbit, we have Daniel Abraham’s re-released The Long Price series, Shadow & Betrayal and Seasons of War (January 21st 2010). Some people on the blogosphere have said the covers don’t reflect the content or story of the book, but I think they’re great. Bit Hollywood, perhaps, but I think they work perfectly well.  Untitled-2 Abraham-SeasonsOfWar












4.  It’s almost that time of year again, when the world benefits from the latest of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. This time, in Unseen Academicals (October 1st 2009), I believe the wizards at Unseen University discover football (or soccer, for our friends across the pond).


5. The next non-Games Workshop-related release from the excellent Dan Abnett, released through new publishing imprint Angry Robot, is Triumff (October 1st 2009), in which Mr Abnett messes about with history and introduces us to an excellent eponymous new protagonist:

Abnett-Triumff6. Finally, a novel that’s actually already out (review pending), but one with an excellent cover, and that’s Amanda Downum’s The Drowning City (Orbit):


With luck, we’ll get you reviews of all of these at the earliest moment possible. Happy reading in the meantime.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

“Cursor’s Fury” & “Captain’s Fury”, by Jim Butcher (Orbit)


A new command for Tavi; and a growing threat comes to Alera

Alera is a perilous world, where the forces of nature can take physical form. But even magic can’t halt the corruption spreading across the land.

Cursor’s Fury follows Tavi as he joins the First Lord of Alera’s elite spies. The Crown is facing rebellion by the ruthless High Lord of Kalare, which could destroy Alera’s delicate power-balance.

Tavi is ordered to a lonely post with an inexperienced legion, far removed from the fighting, when Kalare does the unthinkable by uniting with the savage Canim, Alera’s oldest enemies. When an brutal act of treason decimates the army’s command structure, Tavi finds himself leading the legion against the Canim horde, outmaneuvering them at any costs.

Untitled-1 Captain’s Fury, the fourth book in the series, jumps forward in time, and catches up with Tavi after he has been leading the Legion for about two years. He has discovered that the Canim invaders are harbingers of a much greater threat; they are not merely belligerent invaders, but are in fact fleeing a savage race that has forced them from their homeland. In the face of this knowledge, Tavi proposes a radical solution: Alera must join forces with the Canim in an alliance against the greater threat. Unfortunately, the Senate’s new military commander, Arnos, is single-mindedly determined to eradicate the Canim and any Aleran slaves allied with them.

The task of reconciling the various factions – Aleran and Canim, slavemaster and slave, Citizen and Proletarian – is left to Tavi. If there is to be any hope for Alera and its citizens, he must lead his Legion in defiance of the Law, forging his own path.

Butcher’s lesser-known series (after the Dresden Files) continues in very fine style, easily maintaining the pace and power of the first two books. In Tavi, he has created a character as appealing as Harry Dresden, with a gift for wisecracks and the complexity that comes from having a flaw: in Tavi’s case, his lack of furies (the ability to manipulate the elements by means of an attendant spirit), as well as a shadowy past. Tavi has matured significantly since the first two volumes – he may not have what passes for magic in Alera, but he is quick, clever and has developed qualities that make him just as dangerous as any furycrafter, as well as a gifted leader for his newly acquired legion.

The author handles a complex plot and a large cast of well-rounded characters with confidence and aplomb. His characters mature over time: especially Tavi (as mentioned above), but also his relationships with Kitai (Tavi’s partner) and Isana (Tavi’s aunt), and the relationship between the Cursor Amara and Tavi’s uncle, Bernard. The plot is full of twists, as Tavi finally discovers who he really is, and I especially liked the development of the character of the mysterious slave Fade, and that of the traitor Fidelias, both of whom are not what they seem.

Given the complexity and scope of the novels, and the Codex as a whole, it is difficult to go into much more depth without spoiling many of the twists and turns Butcher has woven into the story. The plot is fast-paced, filled with realistic action and witty dialogue, and it never felt like the pace flagged.

Overall, these two books are an excellent continuation of the Codex Alera, and I can’t wait for the next installment, Princep’s Fury.

Reviewed by Emma

Series Chronology: Furies of Calderon, Academ’s Fury, Cursor’s Fury, Captain’s Fury, Princep’s Fury (UK release: December 3rd 2009), First Lord’s Fury (UK release: May 6th 2010)

For Fans of: The Dresden Files, Garth Nix

“God of Clocks”, by Alan Campbell (Tor/Macmillan)


War, rebellion, betrayal… But the worst is still to come.

Scar Night introduced us to the dark and decaying world in which the city of Deepgate hangs in chains over the abyss in which dwelled the god Ulcis. Iron Angel detailed the protagonists’ difficult journey away from the ruined city, across a dangerous wilderness. God Of Clocks continues the story, as Dill and Rachel rush towards a final confrontation with King Menoa, Lord of the Maze. Rachel has rejoined the blood magician Mina Greene and her demonic dog Basilis. Carried in the jaw of a debased angel, they race to the defensive stronghold of the god of clocks, pursued by the twelve arconites – Menoa’s merciless automatons (the iron angels of the previous book). Meanwhile, John Anchor pulls Cospinol’s skyship into Hell itself to meet Menoa on his own ground. But neither Heaven nor Hell is anything they could have expected…

For this final installment to the series, Campbell’s writing has become even darker. His previous occupation as a video-game designer really comes through, as his writing is incredibly atmospheric and evocative – it’s clear that creating a complete picture for the reader is very important to him. He creates a dark and disturbing world, and as the characters journey into Hell, they find ever-more twisted and debased creatures. Campbell blurs the lines between good and evil: even relatively benevolent characters, such as Cospinol, deal in casual cruelty. This is a world in which no one can be trusted: neither gods, nor men, and certainly not any of the demons who inhabit Hell. Nothing is as it seems, keeping the characters, and the reader, guessing throughout.

The wide cast of diverse characters, well-created, does sometimes become a little unwieldy, as we try to keep track of the various story-threads. This is not, however, too much of a problem – and one that might be mitigated by reading the series in one go, rather than having to wait a year between books (something a lot of fantasy fans do, with trilogies). Another slight problem was the ending, which didn’t tie up nearly as many loose-ends as it perhaps should. Sure, not everything can be tied off, but it does make me wonder if this is actually the last in the series… (anyone?) It would also have been nice to know a little more about the Deepgate Codex, which is only alluded to a couple of times, but never in too much detail.

Rachel is a great, strong female character (she kicks ass, basically). The god Hasp is a complex yet appealing character. I liked the way the author subverts the traditional ‘bad-guy’ tropes of fantasy; for example, both Mina Greene and Alice Harper are morally dubious, but even they turn out to be psychologically rounded characters – it’s clear why they do what they do, playing the hand they’ve been dealt.

Comparisons with Mervyn Peake (author of Gormenghast) are certainly justified, but Campbell brings a contemporary twist to a Peake-style gothic world – it’s certainly something new, strange and compelling.

Overall, an excellent series, but I would love to know if this is, in fact, going to be the last volume. I shall be watching eagerly for Campbell’s next book.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Emma

Series Chronology: Scar Night (2007), Iron Angel (2008), God of Clocks (2009)

For Fans of: Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Rothfuss, Brent Weeks, Mervyn Peake, George R.R. Martin, Richard Morgan

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

“The Steel Remains”, by Richard Morgan (Gollancz)


An excellent, bleak new entry in the modern fantasy genre

The Steel Remains is the story of three heroes, all comrades in and veterans of the recent, devastating war against the Lizard Folk, dealing with their new lives in a suffering, barely recovered land. They gave everything for a nation who now has given little, if anything, back in gratitude. All are conflicted, with their own agendas, scarred by their experiences. A new evil is rising in the land, unbeknownst to our heroes or their kinsmen.

Ringil, the hero of the slaughter at Gallows Gap, wielder of the mighty Kiriath blade, Ravensfriend, selling his tale for a pittance and a roof over his head at a rural tavern. Archeth, the last of her race, in the unpleasant employ of tyrannical Emperor Jhiral. Egar Dragonbane, clanmaster of a steppe-nomad tribe, struggling to consolidate what he saw and experienced as a mercenary. Each has his or her own thread of the story, seemingly unconnected at first.

Ringil is employed by his mother, at cross-purposes to his father’s own goals, to find a relative recently sold into slavery. Unfortunately for Ringil, the politics of Trelayne have changed considerably since he left, and power has shifted to new quarters where once he could have operated with impunity. With the tables turned, alliances shifting and malleable, Ringil finds himself battling a changed administration and walls thrown up to thwart him at almost every turn. His time away also allowed him to bury unpleasant memories from his youth, but when he returns they come back to him in a rush, forcing him to battle his own demons along with those living in the city.

Archeth is sent on her own mission to Khangset, to investigate some supposed reaver activity. Upon her arrival at the still-burning Khangset, however, it’s clear that something far more deadly than a band of pirates attacked the city. Picking up on the mad ramblings of a survivor, Archeth must unravel what befell the city and report back to Jhiral.

Egar, permanently effected by his time away from his people in the more cosmopolitan and civilised South, has to navigate the local, petty politics of his clan, entertained only by girls half his age with no interest outside their existing world (the former a positive, the latter an unfortunate negative). Egar also struggles with Poltar, the clan shaman, who bemoans the decline in tradition and respect for the old ways and nurtures a visceral hatred for Egar. Poltar wants a return to when his station was held in the utmost regard, before Egar went away to the South, when tradition and respect were important. Then the Gods start to talk to him…

Morgan’s approach to the fantasy genre is uncompromising and new. He has created a brutal world, still struggling to recover from its recent war, populated by a multitude of suffering lives. The people are hardened, and there are plenty of former soldiers now unemployed and, in many cases, destitute – abandoned by those they fought to protect. His three heroes are very different, and each adds a certain slant to their respective stories. Ringil, the disappointing third son of house Eskiath, with no taste or patience for courtly etiquette required of a man of his station (plenty notables are met with his fist, for example), his cynicism and sarcasm help add the occasional touch of dark humour to an otherwise bleak world and story. Archeth, the long-suffering pawn of Jhiral, struggling to find a place for herself in a land her people have abandoned her to. Egar, worldly and cynical of traditions and customs, trying to make sense of the parochial ways, needs and superstitions of his people.

The author’s approach to writing is very sparse – exposition and description are kept to a minimum, allowing the readers’ imaginations to fill out the details of the world he has created. The novel is, therefore, shorter than is normal for a fantasy debut, though it doesn’t in any way suffer from its brevity. In fact, Morgan’s prose will drag you on through the story, making any and all interruption irritating and unwelcome, so engaging is his plotting and characterisation. Some might not be comfortable with the directions he sometimes takes his characters and the story in (the scenes in the dwendas’ realm are frequently weird), and he is occasionally more graphic than expected. One thing that is for sure, this is fantasy for adults. The action and battle scenes are expertly crafted, and the author is able to portray the breathless unreality of them extremely well – it’s cliché to say so, but Morgan is able to make the reader feel as if they are right there, observing the action.

Showing that he is as adept at writing fantasy as he is science fiction, Morgan has introduced an engaging and complex group of protagonists, in a brutal and interesting world. He has taken many common tropes of fantasy and made them wholly his own (sometimes by sometimes twisting them beyond recognition), making The Steel Remains a fresh and original, contemporary fantasy. Coupled with his excellent and immersive writing style, there should be nothing to keep this series from being very successful.

Highly recommended, The Steel Remains is, in a word, superb. It certainly deserves to stand alongside the fantasy greats on everyone’s bookshelf.

For Fans of: Scott Lynch, Patrick Rothfuss, Brent Weeks, Kevin J. Anderson (The Edge of the World), Joe Abercrombie, George R.R. Martin, Stephen Deas, Alan Campbell, Mark Charan Newton, Robert V.S. Redick

The next book in the series, The Dark Commands, will be released July 15th 2010 (UK)