Wednesday 30 November 2016

Gemmell Awards 2017 at Edge-Lit 6


The David Gemmell Awards for Fantasy are among the most prestigious awards in genre fiction, presenting prizes for the very best in fantasy novels and artwork each year. Presented in memory of one of epic fantasy’s biggest and most loved authors, the awards have been presented since 2009 and have a roll of honour including Brent Weeks, Patrick Rothfuss, Mark Lawrence, Brandon Sanderson and many more bestselling names in the field.The awards will be presented for the 9th time in 2017 as part of Edge-Lit 6, Derby’s annual fantasy, horror and science-fiction day. The prize-giving ceremony will see the award presented for Best Fantasy Novel of 2016 (the Legend Award), Best Fantasy Debut of 2016 (the Morningstar Award) and Best Fantasy Cover Art of 2016 (the Ravenheart Award).Edge-Lit 6 runs on the 15th July 2017 at QUAD, Derby’s independent cinema and art space, and each year brings together some of the finest UK talent in genre fiction. With a growing reputation for quality and an audience of 200+ each year, the event offers an array of panels, workshops and book launches as well as popular yearly features such as the live Edge-Lit raffle.Alex Davis, Literature Officer for QUAD, said: ‘Over the last decade the Gemmell Awards have become a high point in the genre calendar, and have been presented at some of the biggest conventions and fantasy events in the UK. I’m delighted to be working with them to bring the ceremony to Edge-Lit, which makes the 2017 running even more exciting!’Stan Nicholls, Chair of the David Gemmell Awards For Fantasy, said: ‘Edge-Lit has established itself as one of the highlight events of the genre year, and the Gemmell Awards are thrilled to be part of 2017’s line-up. Devoted as they both are to championing the best of speculative fiction, the Gemmells and Edge-Lit are a perfect match. Roll on next July!’Edge-Lit 6 runs from 10am-11pm on the 15th July 2017 at QUAD, Derby. Tickets are on sale at and cost £30, including access to all sessions on the day and an event goodie bag. For more information, or for any queries, simply email Alex Davis, Literature Officer for QUAD, at

Thursday 24 November 2016

Shadow Moths by Cate Gardner

Shadow Moths is a chapbook containing two stories by Cate Gardner, 'Blood Moth Kiss' and 'We Make Our Own Monsters Here'.

And they are two cracking little tales.

First to the table is 'We Make Our Own Monsters Here', a really creepy tale of a puppeteer seeking out the best in the business to take him on as an 'apprentice' - be careful what you wish for. This had everything I want from a creepy story, in fact, how Ms. Gardner managed to get so much story into these few pages is quite an accomplishment. Very creepy and unsettling

Next up was 'Blood Moth Kiss', a total change of pace. Hard to explain without spoilers but what Cate did here has left me with an earworm that I never saw coming.

Highly recommended and has certainly left me wanting to find more Cate Gardner stories and more from the publisher - Frightful Horrors

'The Heart Of What Was Lost' by Tad Williams - some thoughts (spoiler free)

January 3rd 2017 sees the long awaited return of Tad Williams to the land of Osten Ard which was the setting for his mammoth beast of a trilogy (or quadrilogy if you bought the paperback version) Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. I was fortunate enough to get hold of an advance copy so here are my thoughts.

It has been 23 years (give or take) since Tad wrote in this setting and since then has gone on to write other series in other worlds - Otherland, Shadowmarch, The Bobby Dollar series - and the stand alone novel War of the Flowers. My main concerns when hearing of the return to writing in Osten Ard, I guess, were, would it be the same OA we left behind all those years ago, would the characters feel the same?

I can safely and happily say that after only a few pages reading THoWWL it was clear that we were back in Osten Ard I remember and all was good. I guess it was the literary equivalent of comfy slippers and a favourite arm chair.

The story is set just after events at Green Angel Tower. The day has been won, Ineluki, The Storm King, has been defeated and his Norn army are in retreat, heading north to their ancient citadel Nakkiga harried by an army led by Duke Isgrimnur.

Character views come from both sides and although the Norns are the obvious 'bad guys' Williams does a good job of making us bothered about them. You feel for their plight as they rush toward Stormspike and (hopefully) safety. Don't get me wrong though, there are still heinous acts performed by some of their number (one of which, quite early on, had me thinking for days 'did they really just do that?). But also there are moments of poetic beauty in here - the revelation of The Heart of What Was Lost (don't worry it'll all make sense when you read it) nearly moved me to tears.

All things, as they must, come to an end and as this chapter in the history of Osten Ard closes both sides are put through the wringer. How it all ends I will leave you to find out for yourselves but what I will say is, I'm glad Tad decided to return to Osten Ard and to allow us to travel the paths again with him, THoWWL leaves me waiting eagerly for The Witchwood Crown, the first in he series 'The Last King of Osten Ard (Spring 2017)

One final thought, and this is just a personal thing really. When I first picked up The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn book 1) back in 1988 I was a mere strippling  of 21 years old. The character of Simon was very easy to associate with but now, with The Heart of What Was Lost more or less ending M,S and T I find myself knocking on the door of 50 and find myself associating more with Duke Isgrimnur (older and more weary I guess ;-D)

Sunday 6 November 2016

Looking towards next year (or, It's All About The Williamses)

I know, it's only just November, but as the nights draw in I like to look to nose round and see what new books are on the horizon. Early January 2017 sees the return of Tad Williams to the land of  Osten Ard, the setting of his much loved series Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, with a short novel 'The Heart of What Was Lost (set just after To Green Angel Tower). April then sees the start of a new series from him, The Last King of Osten Ard  (again, same land but this time set 30 years on) with The Witchwood Crown. It's been a long while since we walked these paths and I for one cannot wait to see what's in store.

Another new series I am waiting excitedly for starts with The Ninth Rain (23rd February). To say I am a fan of Jen Williams would probably be a bit of an understatement. Her Copper Cat series had it all - good storytelling, variety of settings and characters you want to be your friends. The new series promises to be just as much fun. Here's the description from Amazon:

Jen Williams, acclaimed author of the Copper Cat trilogy, featuring THE COPPER PROMISE, THE IRON GHOST and THE SILVER TIDE, returns with the first in a blistering new trilogy. 'An original new voice in heroic fantasy' Adrian Tchaikovsky
The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces - talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.
When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza 'Vintage' de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.
But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure'lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall...

All in all 2017 looks to be another good year for fantasy fiction. More of my choices will follow in the weeks ahead


Thursday 3 November 2016

Dominion by Peter McLean - A Review

Dominion is the second book in McLean's 'Burned Man' series but is contained enough to work as a stand-alone novel (and I know because I hadn't read the first, 'Drake', when this popped through the letter box.

The 'hero' of Dominion is Don Drake, a diabolist and former hitman who is conned into going up against The Rotman, an entity that is destroying the underparts of London. When Rotman turns out to be the archdemon Bianakith Drake soon realises he is out of his depth - and Bianakith is only the beginning. With his unrequited love interest, his Guardian Angel (almost fallen Angel) Trixie and his patron, The Burned Man he still needs every trick up his sleeve to save the day.

Drake is an interesting lead, a mix of Harry Dresden and Felix Dexter with maybe a bit of Bobby Dollar thrown. He seems a bit worn down by life and having Trixie living with him is affecting him  (he seems equal parts in love and in fear of her), as is keeping The Burned Man in a 9 inch tall fetish in a spare room. Drake likes a drink and swears a lot but, for me, that makes him more believable. Events later in the story leave him even more 'put upon' but I'm not going into those here - wouldn't want to spoil the fun for you.

With stories like this the supporting cast are essential to get right and McLean has done just that. The crowd in Wormwood's club, a supernatural meeting place, for example, are various shades of grey, any of them could be friend or foe. Even Drake isn't sure who he can and can't trust.

Dominion is very much a Dark Urban Fantasy tale and the London setting, as it usually does, serves the story well. The city is dark and grimy, the lower levels, below the Underground and populated by Gnomes, is even darker and grimier and is also rotting away (thanks to The Rotman). Will Drake and friends save the day, save the Gnomes and save the city? That's for you to find out but you'll enjoy the journey - I know I did

As I said at the beginning of this review Dominion is the second book in the series but, and this is where it feels Peter McLean has been really clever, there is enough here to inform you of past events (in 'Drake') but not enough to make reading the previous novel unnecessary - in fact I'm planning on reading 'Drake' as soon as I get chance. I also feel that, with everything that is going on in the backstory, the whole tale of Don Drake has a lot more to offer and more surprises to reveal

Highly Recommended