Saturday, December 31, 2011

January Top Picks


Here’s a quick preview of the novels I’m most looking forward to in January 2012. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the exciting or noteworthy books coming out in January, but they’re the ones that have piqued my interest the most at the moment.

For a month-by-month list of other books I’m looking forward to in 2012, check out the “2012 Releases” page, which I’ll continue updating as time goes by and publishing schedules are released.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 in Review: The Ones That Got Away



The longer I’ve been reviewing books, the more novels I find that I really want to read but end up not having the time for.

This year, like last year, also saw another decline in thriller and non-genre fiction reviews: I was either finishing my PhD or recovering from the final push, so needed a real escape from the real world and politics, which means I avoided some of my normally must-read authors (David Baldacci, John Sandford, to name but two). I’ll try to get some more read in January, but that’s a pretty busy month as well for big new releases (in anticipation but also page-count)…



This year there have been a lot of books that were highly anticipated that I just couldn’t get around to (see the link-gaps on the “2011 Releases” page and you’ll see what I mean, and that list is by no means exhaustive). Most of them I have already, either sitting on my TBR pile or on my Kindle, which just makes it more frustrating.

In lieu of timely reviews, though, I thought I’d give a quick shout-out (with synopses and a few comments) for some of the ones that got away in 2011. Only, given the number of books I neglected, it’s not really that ‘quick’ a post…


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Comics Round-Up (Dec.28)


Despite the Christmas holidays, there are still a few comics released today to sate the voracious appetites of comic addicts. And they’re pretty good titles, too – some more of DC’s New 52 get their fourth issue, for example (I’ll be reviewing them when I get back to New York late January) and far more besides. Here’s just a small selection of the comics published today that I could get my hands on in time for a review.

Reviewed Herein: The Cape #1-3, Irredeemable #32, & Incorruptible #25

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

“Irredeemable: The Definitive Collection” (Boom Studios)

Boom-Irredeemable-Definitive-01-ArtWhat if the greatest superhero switched sides?

Writer: Mark Waid | Artists: Peter Krause

What if the world's greatest hero decided to become the world's greatest villain? When the Plutonian, the world's greatest hero, snaps and turns into the world's greatest villain, only his former teammates have a chance at stopping his rampage. But while on the run from the world’s most powerful and angry being, will these former teammates discover his secrets in time? How did he come to this? What became of the hope and promise once inside him? What happens to the world when its savior betrays it? What makes a hero IRREDEEMABLE?

I’d been considering this title for a long time, and when I finally managed to try it out, it was this mega-edition. I really liked the idea behind the series – it seemed so simple and yet innovative at the same time. After reading this book, I quickly realised that all the hype about the series is completely justified. The story is gripping, original, moving and superbly rendered. This exceeded my already high expectations. This was a very difficult review to write, as I really just wanted to say, “This is incredible. Buy it.”

Monday, December 26, 2011

“Deliverance Lost” by Gav Thorpe (Black Library)


The Horus Heresy continues…

As the Horus Heresy divides the Imperium, Corax and his few remaining Raven Guard escape the massacre at Isstvan V. Tending to their wounds, the bloodied Space Marines endeavour to replenish their numbers and return to the fray, taking the fight to the traitor Warmaster.

Distraught at the crippling blow dealt to his Legion, Corax returns to Terra to seek the aid of his father – the Emperor of Mankind. Granted access to ancient secrets, Corax begins to rebuild the Raven Guard, planning his revenge against his treacherous brother Primarchs. But not all his remaining warriors are who they appear to be… the mysterious Alpha Legion have infiltrated the survivors and plan to destroy the Raven Guard before they can rebuild and threaten Horus’s plans.

The Horus Heresy series is one of the best collaborative sci-fi series currently being published, in my opinion. All of the authors working on it bring their A-game, producing some of their best fiction. Deliverance Lost is Gav Thorpe’s first novel for the series, and it is excellent. Like some of the other, more-recent Heresy novels, it offers something new and takes a slightly different approach to the fictional time and setting. Deliverance Lost is great – nuanced, tense and action-packed. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas


Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Hope you and your families all have a wonderful day, and that Santa brings you all the books you wanted.

Speaking of books as gifts, did anyone get anything particularly interesting? Feel free to share in the comments-thread.


Friday, December 23, 2011

“Miserere” by Teresa Frohock (Night Shade)

miserere.finalcov.inddA superb, mystic fantasy debut

Exiled exorcist Lucian Negru deserted his lover in Hell in exchange for saving his sister Catarina's soul, but Catarina doesn't want salvation. She wants Lucian to help her fulfill her dark covenant with the Fallen Angels by using his power to open the Hell Gates. Catarina intends to lead the Fallen’s hordes out of Hell and into the parallel dimension of Woerld, Heaven’s frontline of defense between Earth and Hell.

When Lucian refuses to help his sister, she imprisons and cripples him, but Lucian learns that Rachael, the lover he betrayed and abandoned in Hell, is dying from a demonic possession. Determined to rescue Rachael from the demon he unleashed on her soul, Lucian flees his sister, but Catarina’s wrath isn’t so easy to escape. In the end, she will force him once more to choose between losing Rachael or opening the Hell Gates so the Fallen’s hordes may overrun Earth, their last obstacle before reaching Heaven’s Gates.

It took me a little while to get to Miserere, but after hearing quite a few good things about the novel, I decided it was high time that I gave it a try. Another of Night Shade Books’ New Voices releases, this is a dark, brooding tale of redemption with an original setting and engaging characters.

“Memorial” #1 (IDW)

IDW-RobersonEllis-Memorial-01A magic new title

Writer: Chris Roberson | Artist: Rich Ellis

Memorial is the story of Em, a young woman who arrives at a hospital in Portland, Oregon, with no memory of her past. A year later, she has rebuilt her life, only to find her existence thrown into turmoil after she inherits a magical shop. The kind that appears in an alley one instance and disappears the next.

This debut issue has been quite highly anticipated by many comic readers, myself included, and I was very glad when I finally got my hands on a copy. It didn’t disappoint. That being said, it’s rather difficult to think of how to write about it without spoiling or describing everything.

It’s mostly setting the scene, so there are revelations aplenty, as well as some needed exposition (all dressed up perfectly as story and in some great artwork). The writing is tight and brisk, with some nice touches sprinkled throughout for anyone with an interest in classic fables, fantasy, and other literary allusions, only with a few original twists. The characters are shaping up in interesting ways, even though many of them will need some time before they are properly fleshed out (Em does, after all, have no memory).

Memorial is a series that has a lot of potential, and I’ll be watching it closely. At only 22 pages, this first issue is a tantalising glimpse into a new and interesting fantasy setting. Some people might have wanted more from a first issue, but my interest has been piqued enough for me to come back to it next time.


Visit IDW’s special Memorial website for more information and features.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

“Magdalena” Volume #1 (Top Cow/Image)


A Holy Warrior, the Anti-Christ and a corrupt Church

Writer: Ron Marz | Artist: Nelson Blake II & David Marquez

The Magdalena has been the official protector and warrior of the Catholic Church for over two thousand years, sworn to defend the Faith with the Spear of Destiny against all manner of supernatural threats.

However, Patience, the latest Magdalena, has seen through the hypocrisy of her masters and struck out on her own. When her old mentor comes to her with a mission to kill the Anti-Christ, will she be able to resist the call?

I knew nothing of this title when I saw it available on NetGalley, but it sounded interesting and appealed to my taste in supernatural thrillers and the like. It’s a pretty interesting and enjoyable graphic novel, well-written, with a strong protagonist and plenty of action.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Comics Round-Up (Dec.21)


This week’s comics brought to you in the themes of Reformation and Reanimation!

This week I bring you reformed supervillains, a zombie apocalypse in New York City, a deadly movie theatre, and a fairy tale Christmas like no other… A nice eclectic mix, I think you’ll agree?

Reviewed herein: Incorruptible Vol.01, Key of Z #1-3, The Theater #1-3, Grimm Fairy Tales Holiday Special 2011

An Interview with KELLY McCULLOUGH


Kelly McCullough has been writing genre fiction for many years, but I have only just stumbled across his name (thanks to Doug Hulick, who is in Kelly’s writing group). With the release of Kelly’s first fantasy novel, The Broken Blade, I thought it would be a perfect time to interview him, to find out more about his upcoming and already published work, his writing practices, the wealth of projects he has in the works, and more.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Artwork: “Van Horstmann” (Black Library)

Black Library released the artwork for the upcoming Warhammer Heroes novel Van Horstmann today. The novel will be penned by Ben Counter (who’s a very good author), while the stunning artwork is by Cheoljoo Lee. Check it out:


And here’s a close-up of the dragon’s head:


Another awesome piece. Black Library continues their streak of arresting artwork. Can’t wait to read the novel, too. The novel will be released “towards the end of 2012”, with no firm date yet announced.

“Anne Rice’s Servant of the Bones” #1-4/6 (IDW)

IDW-Rice-ServantOfTheBones-01A comic adaptation of Rice’s classic horror novel

Servant of the Bones is one of Rice’s novels that I’ve never got around to reading. I’m not sure why, actually. When I saw this was now available as a comic-adaptation, I looked up the premise (below, after the break) and it sounded pretty interesting. I really love Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and I consider The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned to be one of my favourite books (they go together so well, I count them as just one – I can never read them on their own). So, seeing as I’m becoming more familiar with the comic genre, I decided to give this a try. I find myself with mixed feelings about the series, although I should say they lean mostly towards the positive.

Monday, December 19, 2011

New Dark Knight Rises Poster (Warner Bros./DC)

How cool is this?!


Certainly my most-anticipated movie of 2012.

“Blood of Aenarion” by William King (Black Library)

King-BloodOfAenarionThe opening chapter in the Tyrion & Teclis trilogy

The twins Tyrion and Teclis are the greatest high elf heroes still to walk the earth. They are as different to one another as darkness and light.

Tyrion is an unparalleled swordsman, a superlative warrior and tactician from birth. He inspires courage and loyalty in those around him.  Teclis, born wasted and unusually sickly for an elf, is supremely gifted in magic. The greatest natural sorcerer of the age, his power will grow to rival that of fabled Caledor.

From their humble origin in the wild lands of Chrace, Tyrion and Teclis were meant for a great destiny. They come from the line of Aenarion, the first king of Ulthuan and cursed champion of that magical island. As they come of age, Tyrion and Teclis are sent away from their peaceful home to Lothern, capital city of Ulthuan, where they are presented to the Phoenix King, as all members of Aenarion’s bloodline are, to be tested for signs of the Curse.

When an ancient enemy returns to Ulthuan and starts systematically killing those of Aenarion’s bloodline, the twins’ are taken to Lothern for their protection.

This is the first Warhammer novel from William King in eight years, and I must say I’ve been really looking forward to it. Focusing on two of the greatest heroes from the Warhammer canon, it is also a very ambitious one. But, thankfully and unsurprisingly, King is fully up to the task. This novel more than exceeded my expectations. Welcome back, Mr. King!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

New Artwork: Jon Courtenay-Grimwood & Sam Sykes

Just a very quick art post for Saturday, this time bringing you two new pieces for novels by Jon Courtenay-Grimwood, and the cover for Sam Sykes’s next novel.

First up, Jon Courtenay-Grimwood’s excellent The Fallen Blade is getting a paperback release already (well, ok, not really “already”, but time has certainly flown!), with a very nice cover indeed:


Second, we have the final artwork for the sequel, The Outcast Blade, which is one of my most-anticipated novels of 2012 (due out in May):


I really like this new style, which is better than the original design (which I did also like, I should state). I did find another potential cover for The Outcast Blade (below), which was more in keeping with that of the first edition of The Fallen Blade, but I assume it was just a place holder. It’s a nice one, too. Here it is:


And finally, the cover for Sam Sykes’s The Skybound Sea, another highly-anticipated release (due out in April):


The Skybound Sea is the third novel in Sykes’s Aeon’s Gate series, following Tome of the Undergates and Black Halo.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

More on CR: Interviews with Jon Courtenay-Grimwood & Sam Sykes

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pure Genius from The ONION

The Onion News Network – Always On, Slighty Off…

Guest Post: “On Gritty vs. Heroic Fantasy” by Michael Sullivan


In this week’s guest post, we’re taking a break from our Influences & Inspirations series with Michael Sullivan, author of the superb The Riyria Revelations. Michael offers his thoughts on today’s fantasy scene, his approach to writing his novels, and the value of optimistic stories and heroes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Comics Round-Up (Dec.14)


A short round-up of some of this week’s comics

As I’m outside of the US for the next few weeks (about a month and a half), my weekly round-ups will be a little less focused on new releases, as I do some catching up with collected editions. Wherever possible, I’ll review some new stuff, but otherwise they’ll have to be saved for February. Which will be fun for me at, the very least. So, this week we have a couple of catch ups and the new issue of Seven Warriors.

Reviewed herein: Cold War #1-3, Seven Warriors #2, Operation: Broken Wings #1-2, The Untamed #1

Re-Jacketing: Mike Shevdon’s “Courts of the Feyre” (Angry Robot)


Some great new artwork

To mark the release of Strangeness & Charm, Mike Shevdon’s urban fantasy series is getting some really excellent new jackets, designed by John Coulthart (larger images after the break). The new book and editions will be available from Angry Robot Books in June 2012.

It’s a series I have sadly not yet read, but I’m sure the new editions will be attracting heaps of new readers. Sad to say, I may be one of the people swayed by these jackets… (I know, I’m shallow…)

“The Great Bazaar” & “Brayan’s Gold” by Peter V. Brett

Brett-GreatBazaarBrayansGoldTwo short stories set in the world of the Demon Cycle

Humanity has been brought to the brink of extinction. Each night, the world is overrun by demons – bloodthirsty creatures of nightmare that have been hunting and killing humanity for over 300 years. A scant few hamlets and half-starved city-states are all that remain of a once proud civilization, and it is only by hiding behind wards, ancient symbols with the power to repel the demons, that they survive. A handful of Messengers brave the night to keep the lines of communication open between the increasingly isolated populace.

I won’t give any more synopsis before the break, as I don’t want to offer any spoilers for new readers. So, if you haven’t read The Painted Man (The Warded Man in the US), then I recommend you go an do that immediately, before diving into these.

In this eBook, we get a pair of short stories focussing on one of the main characters from The Painted Man, Arlen Bales. Both of the stories have been released previously as limited editions by Subterranean Press, and are so rare that they’re now selling for $400 in some places! Thankfully, the eBook is way more affordable, so I snapped it (and The Desert Spear) up for my Kindle as soon as I finished The Painted Man. [The eBook is available in the US and UK.]

A superb, short foray back into the world, I really enjoyed reading about Arlen and his early adventures again. These two stories are perfect for fans who need a fix before book three’s released, and is a great, bargain bonus for fans of the series.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011



The Straight Razor Cure (or Low Town, if you’re in the US) was released this year to much acclaim. Daniel was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the novel and his writing. According to his reasoning, my friends and family are laughing at me behind my back. This makes me sad, so I shall be reading The Straight Razor Cure very soon…

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Artwork: “Demon Knights #4”

I’m not going to be able to review this one for a little while, but I just loved the cover artwork, by Mike Choi, so I thought I’d share it here:


Demon Knights is one of my favourite comics, part of DC’s New 52 reboot. Issue 4 is in stores tomorrow.

Batwoman: “Elegy” & New 52 #1-3 (DC Comics)


Another superb series, with a difference, in DC’s Batman Franchise

Here I finally get around to reading and reviewing the final Batman-related title of the New 52. This is a review of two parts. First, we have Elegy, a collected Batwoman graphic novel that I was told forms a good introduction to the events that take place in the New 52 Batwoman comics, which form the second part of this review.

Batwoman as a character and title to follow was attractive for a variety of reasons – most importantly the more gothic, horror-influenced storylines. I must admit, however, that it was the fact that Rachel Maddow wrote the introduction to the first Batwoman collection, Elegy, that really piqued my interest and helped me notice the title in the first place. I’m a big fan of Maddow’s, and saw her introduction to the collection as a great endorsement.

Thankfully, I was not disappointed. Both the graphic novel and the new series are great.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Samples: “Giant Thief” by David Tallerman & “Empire State” by Adam Christopher (Angry Robot)

Just something to share from Angry Robot Books’ latest selection of sample reads, here are samples of two highly-anticipated releases: Giant Thief by David Tallerman and Empire State by Adam Christopher.



Other new samples from Angry Robot, sure to whet readers’ appetites for more genre fiction, include Dan Abnett’s Embedded (already reviewed here), Ian Whates’s City of Light and Shadow (third in a series I really need to read!) and Lavie Tidhar’s The Great Game.

“The Desert of Souls” by Howard Andrew Jones (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press

Jones-DesertOfSoulsAsim & Dabir’s first full-length adventure

In 8th century Baghdad, a stranger pleads with the vizier to safeguard the bejeweled tablet he carries, but he is murdered before he can explain. Charged with solving the puzzle, the scholar Dabir soon realizes that the tablet may unlock secrets hidden within the lost city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the sands. When the tablet is stolen from his care, Dabir and Captain Asim are sent after it, and into a life and death chase through the ancient Middle East.

Stopping the thieves — a cunning Greek spy and a fire wizard of the Magi — requires a desperate journey into the desert, but first Dabir and Asim must find the lost ruins of Ubar and contend with a mythic, sorcerous being that has traded wisdom for the souls of men since the dawn of time.  But against all these hazards there is one more that may be too great even for Dabir to overcome...

It took me a long time to get around to reading this novel, but I’m very glad that I’ve finally managed to do so. It’s not flawless, but this is a fun sword-and-sorcery adventure in the sands.

Book Trailer: “The Christmas Spirits” (Hodder)


An interesting, eBook-only take on the classic Christmas tale

The Christmas Spirits is a retelling of Dickens’s classic A Christmas Carol and brings the story to the 21st century. The book follows George Moore, a futures analyst, as he receives three visitors on Christmas Eve, just as Scrooge was visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. But these are not the ghosties and sprites that frightened Dickens's readers. George's visitors are more ambiguous and all the more frightening to the modern sensibility because of it. Can George make the changes that are needed to save his eternal soul, or will he die a premature death which his employees will celebrate with a party?

This sounds like it could be quite fun, so I’ll try to squeeze it into the review schedule at some point before Christmas (no promises, though, as I have three novels on my priority list coming up).

Here’s the trailer:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Comics Round-Up (Dec.7): DC Comics


Another big week for DC Comics

This week I reviewed a number of the New 52 titles, but they are spread over a couple of posts. In this one, I take a look at the fourth issues of Action Comics, Detective Comics and Batwing. The fourth issue of Stormwatch and Swamp Thing will be reviewed in a much later post that will look at all issues in those two series. (I wanted to get them reviewed before I left New York, but that didn’t happen unfortunately, so they’ll have to wait until late January.) I did manage to get the first two issues of The Shade read, though, so I’ve included a review of them.

This week also features a couple of catch-up titles from the New 52 (Green Arrow and Men of War) and also the first two issues of The Shade. Finally, I decided to pick up Hellblazer Annual #1, as I’ve been enjoying Constantine’s involvement in Justice League Dark, and thought it would be nice to read something that focused a little more on him as the main character.


In all, a good selection of comics.

Reviewed herein: Action Comics #4, Batman: Detective Comics #4, Batwing #4, Green Arrow #3-4, Hellblazer Annual #1, Men at War #3-4, The Shade #1-2 & The Savage Hawkman #1-3

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New 52 Catch-Up: Justice League & Teen Titans (DC Comics)


This latest thematic New 52 catch-up post looks at two team-related titles: Justice League and Teen Titans. I wasn’t familiar with either title from before reading these, and am only really familiar with the Justice League of America because it is a) a huge part of the DC Universe’s canon, and b) it was in Smallville. Nevertheless, the two titles caught my attention and I decided I wanted to give them a try. They are both quite similar in certain respects, and while they both have strengths and weaknesses, I think Justice League is the stronger of the two.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Influences & Inspirations: HOWARD ANDREW JONES

HowardAndrewJonesIn this latest instalment of the on going Influences & Inspirations guest post series, Howard Andrew Jones brings us the almost chronological story of his fictional education. If you don’t know of Howard’s work, the authors mentioned within might give you an idea of what to expect from his own fiction, and also some suggestions of how you can expand your own fantasy and historical fictional education.

Comics Round-Up (Dec.7): Marvel & Dark Horse


A small clutch of fun, recent comics from Marvel and Dark Horse Comics

Because the other review posts were getting rather crowded, I decided to group the Marvel reviews together, and added the lone Dark Horse review as well. All of them were bought on a whim – The Defenders just because it was a #1 and I wanted to see if it was better than the new line of X-Men titles (which seems to be growing still!); Villains for Hire because it’s written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (who are also handling DC’s Resurrection Man – one of my favourites in the New 52); and X-Club because it’s written by Simon Spurrier, who I’m familiar with because of his work for Black Library. So, not particularly intellectual reasons, but never mind. The Occultist I tried because it sounded interesting and has an awesome wrap-around cover:


[Question to ponder: Is it ok to judge a comic by its cover? Especially with all the damned variants some titles get?]

Reviewed herein: The Defenders #1, The Occultist #1, Villains for Hire #0.1 & #1, X-Club #1

Comics Round-Up (Dec.7): Pilot Season 2011


Three more reviews from Top Cow’s annual new-title initiative

Every year, Top Cow releases one-shot issues from a selection of new titles (this year, there are eight). After all of them are out and have had a little time to make the rounds among comic-readers, the company holds a vote. The winner becomes an ongoing series. I’m not sure if all of the others are just killed off there and then, or if they are put on the back-burner, but this is a pretty interesting way to decide on which titles to produce. Although, as I’ve found, it’s a potentially very frustrating initiative, if you like more than one of them… Anyway, I decided to try out three more of them this week.

Reviewed herein: The Beauty, City of Refuge and The Test

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

An Interview with TERESA FROHOCK


Teresa Frohock’s Miserere is one of Night Shade Books New Voices project, and has been receiving a good deal of attention and praise around the blogosphere and elsewhere. I recently picked up a copy, and asked Teresa if she would be interested in answering some questions. Read on for more about her novel, writing, and The Zombie Prince of Prague (I apologise for my hand in that…).

“Valen the Outcast” #1 (Boom Studios)

Boom-Outcast-01ANew Highly Anticipated Sword & Sorcery Comic

Writer: Michael Alan Nelson | Artist: Matteo Scalera

The King is dead – long live the DEAD KING! King Valen Brand is a fair, just king as well as a great and mighty warrior. Killed by a Necromancer in battle and resurrected as one of the walking dead. Now he’s considered an abomination in his own realm, an outcast with only one purpose: to restore his lost soul.

There has been a fair bit of buzz surrounding this new comic series, so I’m happy to be able to bring you an early review, before the issue hits shelves. Written by a fantasy-comic veteran (Robert E Howard’s Hawks of Outremer, Hexed, 28 Days Later), Valen the Outcast offers readers everything they could want from a bloody fantasy tale of revenge. Thankfully, the hype and wait have been well worth it – this has considerable promise and is a fun, dark read. Really great for fans of fantasy who want something more in comics.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

“Batman Noel” by Lee Bermejo (DC Comics)


A Batman Christmas Carol

Inspired by Charles Dickens’ immortal classic A Christmas Carol, BATMAN: NOEL features different interpretations of The Dark Knight, along with his enemies and allies, in different eras, from writer/artist Lee Bermejo (JOKER).

In this graphic novel, Batman must come to terms with his past, present and future as he battles villains from the campy 1960s to dark and brooding menaces of today, while exploring what it means to be the hero that he is.

An excerpt of Batman: Noel appeared as bonus content in a number of early issues of DC’s New 52 comics, and I was immediately drawn to the artwork (which is absolutely stunning). As soon as the book was available, I picked up a copy, and I’m very glad that I did. This is an innovative, interesting, and above all stunning graphic novel.

Monday, December 05, 2011

“The Painted Man”/“The Warded Man” by Peter V. Brett (Voyager/Del Rey)

Brett-ThePaintedManSuperb opening salvo in a great fantasy series

As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise – demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards – symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault.

Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.

It took me quite a while to get around to this novel. If I’m honest, I have no idea why. I think it just came out when I already had a lot on my plate and so it got pushed down the TBR pile. Now that I’ve read it, I wish I hadn’t waited so long. The Painted Man is immersive, engaging, and brilliantly written. Outstanding, I loved it. [The novel is The Warded Man in the US.]

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Comics Round-Up (Nov.30)


A varied bunch of comics I picked up this week

I’ve decided to diversify the range of comics I’m reading. I’ve been focusing an awful lot on DC’s New 52 (which have been awesome, by the way), but I think some diversification is needed – there are an awful lot of comics out there, and I don’t want to miss out. With that in mind, here are four reviews of comics from a larger variety of publishers (ok, and one new DC title). The more time I spend paying attention to the comics market, the more publishers I’m finding that release some really intriguing comic books. Some seem to focus on tie-ins, some focus on darker and grittier fare, while all seem to have their own distinctive style and tone. Always someone keen to find more stuff to read, I dove right in…

Reviewed herein: A Game of Thrones #3, Seraph #1, Seven Warriors #1, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1

Friday, December 02, 2011

“Double Dead” by Chuck Wendig (Abaddon)

Wendig-DoubleDeadA vampire wakes up after a zombie plague. What to eat?

Coburn’s been dead now for close to a century, but seeing as how he’s a vampire and all, it doesn’t much bother him. Or at least it didn’t, not until he awoke from a forced five-year slumber to discover that most of human civilization was now dead – but not dead like him, oh no.

See, Coburn likes blood. The rest of the walking dead, they like flesh. He’s smart. Them, not so much. But they outnumber his by about a million to one. And the clotted blood of the walking dead cannot sustain him. Now he’s starving. And on the run. And more pissed-off than a bee-stung rattlesnake. The vampire not only has to find human survivors (with their sweet, sweet blood), but now he has to transition from predator to protector – after all, a man has to look after his food supply.

I’ve never been much taken with the zombie apocalypse genre. There just doesn’t really seem like there’s very much one can actually do with it that hasn’t been done in film, fiction and comics many time before. Then along comes Double Dead, proving that the zombie apocalypse genre has plenty of life left in it. Wendig makes genre tropes his own, as well as adding a great, original twist. After all, in a world populated predominantly by zombies, what does a vampire have to do to get a meal?

Comics Round-Up (Nov.30): Marvel X-Titles


A bumper-crop of Marvel titles

So, this week there were no new issues in DC’s New 52, but there were a number of new Marvel issues that I’ve been considering. Long-time readers will know that I’ve not been too impressed by some of the Marvel collections I’ve reviewed this year, and was also recently disappointed by the new Wolverine & The X-Men series that began a couple months ago. With the extra time, I’ve decided to focus on non-DC titles this week, and because there were a number of X-Men-related issues, I’ve grouped them into a single review (with another, more general post to come this weekend).

This week, I’ve read: Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine, Magneto, and X-Men Legacy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011



Howard Andrew Jones has served as managing editor of the highly respected Black Gate fantasy magazine since 2004. In January, his first full-length novel, The Desert of Souls, was released to much acclaim. I decided to ask him some questions, and he was kind enough to respond with his thoughts on writing, fantasy, and more.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New 52 Catch-Up: Superman (DC Comics)


Writer: George Perez | Artist: Jesus Merino

I wanted to try out another Superman-title, to see if it stacked up to any of the other New 52 titles that I’ve enjoyed so much, and how it compared to the Grant Morrison-penned Action Comics (which had a wobbly start, got better, but I’m left still not quite hooked). Superman was a good title, too, and with only a couple of wobbles, and I think shows a lot of promise.