Monday 26 February 2018

Shannara - For The Last Time

Way back in the swirling mists of time (well, sometime back in the late 70s/early 80s) I discovered The Lord of the Rings and started my lifelong (from that point) love of Fantasy Fiction. One of the early series I started on around that time was Shannara and my love/hate relationship with these books is one thing I have never quite got my head round.

Back to the very beginning...

A young Ebookwyrm browsing the fantasy section at WH Smith spots the cover of Sword of Shannara, complete with elf, dwarf and village boy, and is hooked. This sounds very much like Lord of Rings - and therein lies the problem. It wasn't 'like' LotR it was an absolute rip off of it. I could not bring myself to finish it, and all these years later still haven't. But the very beginning, the first few chapters where Allanon the Druid turns up in Shady Vale looking for a Shannara descendant was wonderful, the rest of it though... awful.

Then, a couple of years later, same young chap, a tad older, same book dept, spots Elfstones of Shannara. Should have known better but, again, the cover hooked me. And, unlike Sword, Elfstones was wonderful, and is still one of my favourite books of all time.

That was followed by Wishsong of Shannara, another better of a book and the end of my journeying in that land.

Yeah, right... almost 40 years later there have been 28 novels in this world. Most I have looked at, some I've loved (Scions of Shannara series especially) while others have been poor, in my opinion.

The thing is though, despite my indifference, this is the one series where I feel most attached to the history and the land. I don't need to keep referring back to the map because I know where everywhere is. Through these books I feel I have walked the paths of this land. And for that I can only tip my hat to author Terry Brooks and say "Well done Sir".

And now Brooks brings us to the Endgame, the final days of Shannara with his four book series The Fall of Shannara, starting with book 1 The Black Elfstone. After this it is all over (there may be still tales to tell from 'history' but this series marks what I guess is the final resolution of Brooks vision.

And this makes me a little sad I guess but I will stick with this series as I have to know how things turn out. Thankfully, after starting it yesterday, it promises to be one of the better ones.

We'll see...

Monday 12 February 2018

Exciting Press Release From Gollancz

Slush Pile Success!

Assistant Editor snatches brilliant Icelandic fantasy debut from open submissions

Gollancz, an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, is delighted to announce the acquisition of a brilliant, genre-defining fantasy duology by debut author Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson. SHADOWS OF THE SHORT DAYS, is a strikingly original Icelandic debut set in a strangely familiar alternate Reykjavík where wild and industrialised magic meet. Perfect for fans of China Miéville, Lev Grossman and Paulo Bacigalupi, this is a strange and wonderful tale of damaged characters forging a revolution against an oppressive government. Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson is a fantastic new voice in the genre that will speak to a new generation of readers.

Gollancz assistant editor, Craig Leyenaar, acquired World Rights to two novels from Jennifer Jackson of the Donald Maas Literary Agency.

Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson said: ‘Signing with Gollancz and Jennifer Jackson has been an incredible turn of events for me. When I sent the manuscript in to the open submission I had absolutely zero expectations – it’s been a daydream come true. I am humbled and honoured to have signed not one but two books of the HRÍMLAND SAGA with Gollancz. I look forward to working with Craig and the incredible team at Gollancz on these weird Icelandic novels.’

Craig Leyenaar said: ‘It’s an absolute dream to bring Alexander to the list.  His writing instantly stood out as incredibly original and special. It’s haunting, compelling and beautifully written – and I know readers will devour such a striking world and mythology.’  

Jennifer Jackson said: ‘I knew when I started reading Alexander's tale of an alternate Iceland that this was a journey I wanted to take! I'm so pleased he's found a home with Gollancz and that Craig and his team will bring this bold new talent to readers.’

Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson is an Icelandic author who lives in Reykjavík. SHADOWS OF THE SHORT DAYS is his first novel. He writes in both Icelandic and English as the story requires, translating back and forth as necessary, and is the founder and editor of Iceland's first SFF magazine, Furðusögur (Weird Stories). Alexander is also the vocalist and lyricist for Icelandic black metal band Carpe Noctem.

Gollancz is the oldest specialist SF & Fantasy publisher in the UK. Founded in 1927 and with a continuous SF publishing programme dating back to 1961, the imprint of the Orion Publishing Group is home to a galaxy of award-winning and bestselling authors. Through our long-running SF and Fantasy Masterworks programme, and major digital initiative the SF Gateway, Gollancz has one of the largest ranges of SF and Fantasy of any publisher in the world.

SHADOWS OF THE SHORT DAYS | Alexander Dan | February 2019
Hardcover £14.99 | Export Trade Paperback £12.99 | eBook £7.99

Sunday 11 February 2018

Paris Adrift by E J Swift

Running away to Paris Hallie finds herself working at Millie's Bar. While there she discovers an 'anomaly' in the Keg Room that leads her to different times in past and future Paris where she will face her challenges and maybe save the world.

I'll be honest, the first thing that drew me to this book was the cover art, a gorgeous piece that is worth owning the book for in itself. Finding it was a novel of Time-Travel? Extra bonus. And so I started reading...

And found a story so absorbing and beautifully written it did the artwork proud. There is some good SF style weirdness here (the talking bird being a good example) but it did, for the most part, feel more like The Time Traveller's Wife, more likely to be found in the General Fiction section than in Genre. But if that means more people get to read it then I guess that's fine with me.

The different jaunts into the Paris timeline each came across as a mini adventure in a way and all felt 'real' but I was always glad to get back to 'Paris Now' just because I loved Millie's Bar, it's staff and the whole life there was there.

I can gladly say Paris Adrift has quickly become one of my favourite books of recent years and I thank Rebellion Publishing for both providing me with a review copy and inviting me to be part of the Blog Tour. Please take time to visit the other posts on the Tour

Sunday 4 February 2018

Toys Talking by Leanne Shapton

I'm often on the lookout for books for my littlest niece and, at first glance this would have been ideal. The premise is simple enough - on one side of the page is a (rather lovely) drawing of a child's toy and on the other is what, I guess, is what the author imagines the toy is thinking.

A lovely idea, but on reading I feel the book would be better titled 'Your Toys Are Depressed And On The Verge Of Forming A Suicide Death Cult'

Seriously, I could not believe what I was reading, it was terrible. No child should think their precious toys could think like this.

A terrible book that is only saved by the illustrations - 1/5* (and you can take that as 1 out of 5 stars or 1 fifth of a star both would be fair)