Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An Interview with MYKE COLE


Myke Cole is the author of the Shadow Ops series, coming soon from Ace Books (in the US). After writing a guest post for CR, I asked Myke if he’d also be interested in an interview, and he agreed. So, I asked him about his books, his military experience, how he approaches his writing, and that the time for “Gun & Sorcery” has arrived.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

“Caledor” by Gav Thorpe (Black Library)

Reviewed by Brennon Shaw

Thorpe-CaledorA Tale of the Sundering

Ulthuan is burning…Its people are scattered, its lands in ruin. Under the iron fist of the Witch King dark elves sack and pillage. His desire is nothing short of total domination and the utter extinction of the high elves. Skies blacken with the wings of dragons and smoke occludes the sun. Daemons crawl from their hell-pits, hungering for souls. Through the fires of civil war, a general becomes a king. Prince Caledor takes up the Phoenix Crown and with it’s the hopes of all of Ulthuan.

Though it is a burden unwished for, he is the last heroic thread that can unite the realm of the true asur. Darkness closes, filled with the screams of war. Dead elves soak the land in blood, anointing a spell of unbinding; a cataclysm intended to end the very world.

Caledor concludes the epic trilogy of books by Gav Thorpe. The narrative is a whirlwind ride of dragons, elves, betrayal and magic as a titanic struggle to control the island of Ulthuan unfolds. Starting from the mere whisper of betrayal by the cruel Dark Elves, it builds through a series of events to an gripping finale. If you have a love of epic fantasy then this is the book for you.

Monday, August 29, 2011

“Defenders of Ulthuan” by Graham McNeill (Black Library)


Honour, betrayal, and millennia of hatred

The high elves have long been the protectors of the Warhammer World, and their homeland of Ulthuan is known for the powerful magic that surrounds it. At the heart of Ulthuan lies a magical vortex, and the mages who created it remain trapped in a space out of time, endlessly working the spell that keeps the world from becoming a seething Realm of Chaos.

When Ulthuan comes under attack from the forces of Chaos and dark elves led by the Witch King and the hag sorceress, Morathi, the high elves must hold firm or face disastrous consequences.

Originally published in 2007, Defenders of Ulthuan is part one of Graham McNeill’s Elf duology, charting the struggles of two brothers and the millennia-long conflict between the High Elves and their Dark Elf kin. I’m mostly familiar with McNeill’s Horus Heresy novels, so it was interesting to read this earlier Warhammer novel. I’m a little on the fence about the novel, if I’m honest, as it is only the first half of the story (which concludes in Sons of Ellyrion). Nevertheless, it shows a love for the subject material, solid action, and the authorial skill we have come to associate with McNeill.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Influences & Inspirations: TOM CAIN


Today I bring you a guest post from Tom Cain, author of the Sam Carver thriller series. The series, which opened with the acclaimed The Accident Man, is now five strong – The Survivor, Assassin, Dictator and, this month, Carver. As part of Tom’s blog tour, he joins us with a piece about his Influences & Inspirations. Over to Tom…

Friday, August 26, 2011

Influences & Inspirations: JASPER KENT

JasperKent&MouseIn this latest instalment of the Civilian-Reader “Influences & Inspirations” series of guest posts, Jasper Kent walks through the Russian history that has inspired his three novels to date (Twelve, Thirteen Years Later, and newly-published The Third Section), and discusses the inspirations for the fourth book in the Danilov Quintet, which will be released next year.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Upcoming Paperback Releases (Orbit, Black Library)


Three novels that I particularly liked when they came out in earlier editions (two in hardback, one previously unavailable in the UK) are coming up for their paperback releases, so I thought I’d just offer a single post with links to the reviews I’ve written for them already – they’re all great, so I strongly recommend you check them out:

“Nagash Immortal” by Mike Lee (Black Library)

Reviewed by Brennon Shaw


The undead will rise…

In the tunnels of Nagashizzar, a new threat to the realm of the undead is rising. Nagash must call upon all his reserves of power to defeat the skaven assault and continue his unholy reign. But when Nagash realises he can use his enemy for his own nefarious needs, an uneasy alliance is struck and a vast, nightmarish army is formed. The necromancer launched his final attack on the lands of Nehekhara, sweeping all before him.

Only one man dare stand in his way – Alcadizzar, a peerless warrior and leader of a defiant force. Their confrontation will not just decide the fate of Nehekhara, but of all the Old World.

Nagash Immortal by Mike Lee continues the popular Time of Legends series from Black Library, and it does not disappoint. If you, like me, are into your lore and background then the story Lee has told will certainly appeal to you. On top of a historical tale you also get a wealth of great characters and incredibly detailed writing that fleshes out an area of the Old World few have ventured too before from the Black Library. The simultaneous unfolding tales of Alcadizzar, Nagash, and the skaven duo Eekrit and Eshreegar are seamlessly interwoven until you have a mysterious narrative charting not a few months, but decades of history.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Coming imminently to CR…


Watch this space… (August 27th 2011)

An Interview with NICK LAKE


Vampires are all the rage in YA and genre fiction, but not many of the series has jumped out at me as particularly original. Then along came Nick Lake’s Blood Ninja series, which mixes vampires, feudal Japan and ninjas into an action-packed and entertaining melange. This week, therefore, and following in the wake of a guest post on Influences & Inspirations, Nick agreed to answer a few questions about writing, his series, juggling his writing with work as an editor, and also possible personal teleportation.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

“Ready Player One” by Ernie Cline (Century / Crown)

ReadyPlayerOne RD 1 finals 2The most endearing geek book ever?

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world.

Somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune and power – to whoever can unlock them. Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved – that of the late 20th century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons.

When Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle, suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt – among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. To do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life – and love – in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

Ready Player One is the surprising book of the year: it is smart, charming, and engaging. The novel is as addictive as the computer games it references, as fun as the movies beloved by the author, and genuinely buoyed my mood throughout. Ready Player One is an absolute pleasure to read.

Monday, August 22, 2011

“Imperial Glory” by Richard Williams (Black Library)


Tired & weary, the Imperial Guard face an Ork infestation.

Tired and broken by war, the men of the Brimlock Eleventh Imperial Guard are a force on the verge of collapse. Having been stretched across the galaxy by their loyalty to the Emperor, they are presented with one final battle that will allow them reward they all seek: to colonise the distant world of Voor and live out the rest of their days in peace. All that stands in their way is a force of savages – a plague of feral orks that has spread across the planet. But can the Brimlock’s battered bodies and minds hold up to this greenskin invasion?

The Imperial Guard always present an interesting perspective on the Warhammer 40,000 universe: considerable in number, but physically unimpressive next to Space Marines, they are the backbone of the Imperium’s forces. Imperial Glory offers an interesting and original take on the plight of the Guardsmen, and despite a slightly rocky start, was very enjoyable, and a novel with surprising heart.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

No Way I Wasn’t Going to Share This…

My first cover-quote! This has improved my week immeasurably. Here it is, the cover art for the French edition of Jon Courtenay-Grimwood’s The Fallen Blade (or, Tome Assassini: Lame damnée):


The French edition of novel is available to order from both French and Canadian Amazon.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Influences & Inspirations: NICK LAKE

NickLakeNick Lake is the author of Blood Ninja and Lord Oda’s Revenge, two novels set in 16th Century featuring vampire ninjas. I recently reviewed Blood Ninja on the site, and thought Nick’s influences and inspirations would be particularly interesting.

Luckily, he was able to write a piece, which I can share with you all here.

[Nick has also agreed to an interview, so check back next week for more.]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An Interview with JULIET E. McKENNA


This year, Solaris published the latest fantasy novel by Juliet McKenna, Dangerous Waters. It is the beginning of a new trilogy (The Hadrumal Crisis) set in one of her already-established fantasy worlds, and it sounds pretty cool. After reading the prequel novella, I wanted to learn more about the series and also McKenna’s writing in general. I contacted Juliet about an interview, and she was kind enough to answer my questions.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

“Dragonmage” by Chris Wraight (Black Library)

Wraight-DragonmageSkies Filled with Dragons

Magic is stirring across the world. A storm is coming. On Ulthuan, the Phoenix King of the high elves nears death and competition for his position has erupted into open war. Lord Rathien of Caledor seeks to awaken the dragons from their long sleep and use their strength to ensure his ascent to the Phoenix Throne. Meanwhile, Prince Valaris of Ellyrion, aided by a powerful but naïve mage, wants to harness the power of the storm of magic to defeat his rival and achieve his goal. As their forces clash, greater powers manipulate events to their own purposes, leading the two elf nobles into a conflict that threatens to destroy them both… and the world with them.

Dragonmage is the second of three novellas from Black Library’s Storm of Magic series, about expansive and chaotic magic. This novella is the story of two elven heroes vying for supremacy in the race to become the next Phoenix King, going to great lengths to swing the contest in their favour, using any and all means to gain the upper hand. Which means some moments of extremely poor judgement. And a lot of dragons.

Monday, August 15, 2011

“Fenrir” by MD Lachlan (Gollancz / Pyr)

Lachlan-FenrirNorse Mythology, Werewolves, Devious Gods. Awesome.

The Vikings are laying siege to Paris. As the houses on the banks of the Seine burn a debate rages in the Cathedral on the walled island of the city proper. The situation is hopeless. The Vikings want the Count’s sister, in return they will spare the rest of the city.

Can the Count really have ambitions to be Emperor of the Franks if he doesn’t do everything he can to save his people? Can he call himself a man if he doesn’t do everything he can to save his sister? His conscience demands one thing, the demands of state another. The Count and the church are relying on the living saint, the blind and crippled Jehan of St Germain, to enlist the aid of God and resolve the situation for them. But the Vikings have their own gods. And outside their camp a terrifying brother and sister, priests of Odin, have their own agenda. An agenda of darkness and madness. And in the shadows a wolfman lurks.

Fenrir takes the story that began in Wolfsangel further along in history, delving further into the mythology upon which Lachlan has built his series. It’s dark, grim, and bloody. And it’s also extremely well written, and exceeded my high expectations going in. I’ve avoided including any spoilers (there are so many surprises in this novel), so my review focuses more on the themes than the events of the novel.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Upcoming Novels (or, “Look at the Pretties…”)


Yes, ok, it’s another artwork post, but seriously, these covers are great. This also gives me the opportunity to mention some upcoming titles that have caught my attention from various publishers and authors.

So, without further ado, feast your eyes on these…

Friday, August 12, 2011

Influences & Inspirations: SARAH CAWKWELL

Continuing our series of guest posts about influences and inspirations (read the open invitation), I present you with our second author!

sarahcawkwellSarah Cawkwell has written several short stories set in Games Workshop’s grim-dark 41st millennium. Her first full-length novel for the Black Library, The Gildar Rift, is due out in December 2011 (and is much anticipated here at Civilian-Reader – it features Huron Blackheart, one of the most colourful Chaos characters in Warhammer 40,000 lore).

You can catch up with the slightly obscure adventures of what it’s like to be a genre fiction writer at Sarah’s great blog, “Pyroriffic” (which is also her Twitter handle). So, without further ado, let me pass things over to Sarah…

Thursday, August 11, 2011

US vs. UK Artwork: Michael Sullivan’s RIYRIA REVELATIONS (Orbit)


Over on the author’s website, you can now see the UK artwork of Michael Sullivan’s upcoming Riyria Revelations omnibus editions. They are based on the artwork that makes up the US editions, but with a much closer feel to them. If I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure which ones I prefer – both are pretty good, but I think I may be leaning more towards the US artwork, this time around. What do you think? (Images side-by-side after the break.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Quick Chat with KEVIN HEARNE


Over the past few months, I’ve seen an increasing number of articles and reviews for Kevin Hearne’s urban fantasy series, the Iron Druid ChroniclesHounded, Hexed and Hammered. After reading Hounded in what can only be described as record time (for me), I was pleased to hear the announcement that Orbit Books have picked up the rights to bring Hearne’s series to the UK (one novel a month, in September, October and November 2011). So, I decided to contact Kevin with some questions about writing, urban fantasy, and more.

Monday, August 08, 2011

“Sympathy for the Devil” by Justin Gustainis (Solaris)


Presidential politics meets the supernatural. Brilliant.

Presidential candidate Senator Howard Stark has been secretly possessed by a demon. Hell wants to put Stark in the White House, where he will use the powers of the presidency to destroy the world. Although originally thought to have little chance for the nomination, Stark has been eliminating the competition, through “accidents”, “suicides”, and the revelation of scandalous information that no human could possibly possess. Quincey Morris and Libby Chastain know what Stark is up to, and are determined to stop him before it’s too late. Their only obstacles: the U.S. Secret Service and all the powers of Hell itself.

The premise for Sympathy for the Devil hooked my interest as soon as I read it. This is the third novel in the Morris & Chastain Investigations series, following the exploits of paranormal investigator Quincey Morris and his white witch ally Libby Chastain. I’m usually a little hesitant about Urban Fantasy – for some reason, it just isn’t a subgenre I’ve loved – but the political thriller element of this novel was too interesting for me ignore. This is great fun, original, gripping, and addictive.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The “I Have to Move” Giveaway #3 (Eclectic)

Here we go again with another book-giveaway (see reasons and rationale for them, here). This time, a more eclectic – but no less interesting – bunch of books:


T.C. McCarthy’s Germline – an awesome, dark and original sci-fi war novel (first in a series).

Robert Jackson Bennett’s The Company Man – weird and wonderful alternate history science fiction.

Ken MacLeod’s Restoration Game – awesome science fiction.

Christopher Farnsworth’s Blood Oath – a great novel of vampires, politics, and zombies (first in a series).

Usual guidelines for the giveaway – email your name and address to:


Open to European residents only, I’m afraid. (Sorry everyone else!) Winner will be chosen at random by the end of next week.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Influences & Inspirations: MYKE COLE

MykeColeA little while back, I posted an open invitation to any writers, publishers, and bloggers who might want to write for Civilian-Reader’s first (of hopefully many) guest post series “Influences & Inspirations”. The idea was to allow them the opportunity to write about the books, series, and authors who inspired them to read and write.

There has been some great interest in the question (so keep an eye out for more posts, coming soon), and I am happy to bring you the first offering, from author MYKE COLE, who’s debut novel – Control Point – will be published in February 2012. So, without further ado, I shall pass things over to Myke…

Thursday, August 04, 2011

“The Key to Creation” by Kevin J. Anderson (Orbit)


Terra Incognita comes to a bloody, revelatory close

After long voyages, encountering hurricanes and sea monsters, Criston Vora from Tierra and Saan of Uraba race to the legendary promised land of Terravitae. Saan’s quest is to find the Key to Creation, a weapon that may defeat Uraba’s enemies, and Criston wants vengeance against the monstrous Leviathan that ruined his life long ago.

Back home, two opposing continents and religions clash for the remnants of a sacred city, unleashing their hatred in a war that could end both civilisations. Queen Anjine and Soldan-Shah Omra are driven by mutual loathing, heaping atrocity upon atrocity in an escalating conflict that only their gods can end.

And amidst the carnage, the secretive Saedrans follow their own agenda, manipulating both sides with the ultimate goal of completing the Map of All Things, which will bring about the return of the world’s Creator.

In this final part of Anderson’s Terra Incognita fantasy trilogy, the author has pulled out all the stops to make this the most explosive and gripping instalment, in a series I have thoroughly enjoyed from the start. There is a lot going on here, as Anderson draws together all the various subplots he has presented us. It’s not perfect, but I certainly enjoyed reading it very much. (I stayed up on two occasions reading, until it started getting light outside…)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011



(Yes, I really like this piece by Clint Langley, so have used it a second time…)

The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin was one of last year’s best received fantasy trilogies: magic-infused, character-driven and epic in scope, it put Rowena Cory Daniells firmly on the fantasy map. With her next trilogy announced (with frankly gorgeous artwork), I thought it would be a perfect time to ask Rowena some questions about her novels, writing, and so forth.

Monday, August 01, 2011

“Changeless” & “Blameless” by Gail Carriger (Orbit)


Reviewed by Alyssa

Alexia Tarabotti is back with a vengeance

Changeless: Lady Alexia is rudely awoken in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find rather peculiar events transpiring. Her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, is yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears – leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared – upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.

She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

When I read Gail Carriger’s Soulless last year, I was delighted. It was fresh, and funny, and utterly original. Since then, I have lent my copy of the book to two friends and bought another for a third - this is a novel you want to share. With the strength of her debut, Carriger set herself quite a challenge for the rest of her series, but Changeless and Blameless, the next two books, not only meet but surpass the high standard of the Soulless. The second and third volumes of The Parasol Protectorate series are every bit as funny as the first, but with an added emotional depth. These books are unlike anything else out there, and they are marvellous. [There are very minor spoilers in this review.]