This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

21 December, 2011


   Nice to finally see a trailer. It doesn't really show much, but what it does show looks really good. Really looking forward to the movie now!

19 December, 2011


Cover art: Paul Young
Cover design: Patrick Knowles


ISBN:  978-0-575-08964-8
Pages: 532
Publisher: Gollancz
 Published: 21 July 2011

On the cover:

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.

    This is a continuation of the story in Wolfsangel, but it is not the usual direct sequel we are so used to from fantasy. Instead it is the next installment in the cycle of the story. And the cycle is also the central theme of Lachlan's fantasy series. The protagonists here are not the same as in Wolfsangel, but they are aspects of them. The story is moving on with different players, and I found this worked well.
   Lachlan maintains the saga-like quality of his prose, which is a good thing. It worked very well in Wolfsangel, and if anything it works even better here.

   The story is really fast-paced. There's quite a lot of action, and even in quieter parts of the novel the story is moving along steadily. I can't think of any part of the book that was really a "rest-period", and this makes it a book that can be difficult to put down.
   There's a lot of magic in this book. But Lachlan doesn't use this as a prop, it is integral to the story he is telling, and it never feels like it is out of place. As with Wolfsangel there is also a presence of gods here, the dark and fallible Viking variety that will be familiar to students of Norse mythology.

   The characters we encounter in the book have their separate tales to tell, and all of them are interesting. There are several main characters here that could easily have carried a novel by themselves, and they are propped up with supporting characters that are interesting in their own right.
   Lachlan makes use of several points of view. This can be annoying in some stories, but here they add up to giving a much greater whole than the sum of the individual viewpoints. The different protagonists are used to great effect to draw the story together and form a single narrative.

   This time the location is outside the Scandinavian homeland of the Vikings, mostly in modern day France, but we also get to go to Russia. As someone who is Norwegian and interested in history I think it was really refreshing to see these lesser known locations for Viking activity used to great effect here. And it also makes me excited to find out where we are heading next in Lachlan's saga.

   I can't think of anything I disliked in this book, it is very close to a perfect novel. For anyone who feels that modern fantasy is getting a bit stale this will be the perfect antidote. And if you have any interest in Vikings or Norse mythology Lachlan has created an excellent fantasy for you. This is a perfect read for dark winter evenings.

Review: Wolfsangel

16 December, 2011

REVIEW: 11.22.63

Cover photo: Press Association Images


ISBN: 978-1-444-72729-6
Pages: 740
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published:  8 November 2011

On the cover:

Jake Epping is an English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching in an adult education programme. One day, he receives an essay from one of his students - a harrowing first person story about the night, fifty years earlier, when Harry Dunning's father came home and killed Harry's mother, his sister, and his brother with a sledgehammer.

Later, Jake's friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges an extraordinary secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane - and insanely possible - mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination.
Inspired by his desire to put things right for Harry Dunning, Jake leaves a world if iPods and mobile phones for a new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars, root beers and Lindy Hopping. It is a haunting world of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake's life - a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

   A new Stephen King novel is always a treat for me, and I had been looking forward to this one since I first heard about it. King tackling time-travel sounded especially interesting. 
   King manages to tackle the time travel very well, he's not exactly doing it in a Hard SF way and this may disappoint science fiction fans. But I thought the idea of how the world was affected by it in the small scale was very well done. I also liked what happened when a subsequent travel takes place. (Sorry for being vague, but I feel it is too much a spoiler to be more specific.)

   The book starts out as a pretty traditional style time travel novel. And it continues in that way for a while, but then King changes tracks. Jake Epping is staying for a long time in the past, and the book becomes much more about how America was in the late fifties and early sixties. Something King has written about before, and something he is very good at. There's even room for an excursion to post-IT, something I, and I'm sure any other fan of IT will enjoy. From there the novel moves from King's "comfort zone" in New England and into the south, and it is here that the main part of the story takes place.

   The historical part of this novel centres around Lee Harvey Oswald, and we really learn a lot about the man. I found this part of the novel fascinating, although at times it seems that King is using a lot of space to paint Oswald as a villain. The events he describes may be historically correct, but I didn't really feel they added enough to the story that so much of it had to be included.
   The most interesting part to me, is the part of the story were we see Jake Epping settling into his new life in the past. King handles this expertly, even the romance he has found place for is very well done and feels realistic.

   This is by no means King's best novel, and I doubt it will make it into many peoples top five King novels, but that doesn't mean it is a weak novel. I thoroughly enjoyed following Jake Epping on his journey in the past, and there is enough action and suspense here to make it a book that seems a quicker read than its page count suggests it is. 
   You don't have to be a King completist to enjoy this, it is a great novel for anyone who likes King. And for anyone with an interest in the JFK assassination and Lee Harvey Oswald this is a must. It's not a bad starting point for anyone who hasn't read King either, there's not any SFF here except for the time travel, so anyone not familiar with SFF should be able to get into it easily.
   With the holidays coming up, this is a great book to put on your wish list and read while you wait for the New Year to come around.

Reviews: The Shining, Bag of Bones, Four Past Midnight

Links: Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton

08 December, 2011


Cover design: Lauren Panepinto
Cover photograph: Pixie Vision Productions
Cover model: Donna Ricci


 ISBN: 978-0-315-12719-6
Pages: 374
Publisher: Orbit
Publishing date: June 28 2011

SPOILER WARNING! If you haven't read the
three previous books, this will contain spoilers.

On the cover:

Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.

Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it's too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf's clothing? And what exactly has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama's second best closet?

   In this forth installment of The Parasol Protectorate series we get a slightly different story than in the previous books. Nothing radically different, but there is a bit more sleuthing on Alexia's part than in the other books. Which is only natural when you consider her condition. But of course we are talking about Alexia Tarabotti here, so she doesn't exactly sit still knitting while she waits for the baby to come.

   The novel opens with a nice set-up and a good refresher of previous events and it isn't long before we get introduced to the central mystery of the book. I won't say to much about the mystery, but it is an interesting one. And Miss Carriger uses it to give us information of events happening in the past.
   This is one of the great strengths of the novel., there is an almost constant trickle of backstory here. It really helps flesh out the world Alexia inhabits, and gives it a history that makes it feel more real than it could otherwise have been. A credit to Miss Carriger's writing is that some of the revelations from the past took me completely by surprise.

   There is a certain domesticity to parts of this story. This is because of Alexia's pregnancy, but it also brings the series firmly back to the London setting it started with in book one. Alexia and Connall's new living quarters certainly add to the story, this could easily have become boring but Miss Carriger manages to make it both fun and interesting.

   As with the history of the world of Alexia I mentioned above, there is also quite a bit of lore being revealed in this book. We learn more about all three supernatural classes, vampires, werewolves and ghosts. Again this strengthened the story for me, I like it that what is in essence a fantasy world has a history that makes it come alive.
   I must add that Miss Carriger manages to give us all the backstory and lore without it feeling infodumpy [If that wasn't a word before, it is now.] , it all flows naturally in the narrative and I don't think anyone will feel it is distracting or takes you out of the story.

   The story is fast paced throughout, even when there is not really any physical action Miss Carriger manages to makes the pages fly by with her excellent writing style. I have already mentioned the central mystery, it has some surprising revelations for the reader, at least it caught me off guard several times.
   There are also some action scenes in this book that would probably make Michael Bay wet his pants if he got hold of them. The action is by no means over the top, but it is really nice to see Miss Carriger take it to the level it is on here.

   As with the previous books in the series, I really enjoyed this one. Miss Carriger writes very good action-adventure, and her lighter style of storytelling is a nice break from all the "gloom and doom" we find in fantasy these days.
   If you like steampunk or urban fantasy, The Parasol Protectorate series is really a must-read; it is also a good starting point if you are curious as to what these genres is about. And if you have followed the series so far, this installment will certainly not be a disappointment. Miss Carriger has added another great installment in the saga of Alexia Tarabotti.

Reviews: Soulless  Changeless  Blameless

Links: Gail Carriger  Orbit

24 November, 2011


Cover design: Rob Grom and Faceout Studios
Cover photo: Paul Vozdic/Getty Images (Girl) 
and Roger Bamber/Alamy (Lighthouse)

 Translated from Swedish by 
Original title: Människohamn 

ISBN: 978-0-312-68027-5
Pages: 500
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
First published: June 2008
This edition published: 11 October 2011

On the cover:

One ordinary winter afternoon on a snowy island, Anders and Cecilia take their six-year-old daughter Maja across the ice to visit the lighthouse in the middle of the frozen channel. While they are exploring the lighthouse, Maja disappears – either into thin air or under thin ice – leaving not even a footprint in the snow.
Two years later, Anders, a broken man, moves back to his family’s abandoned home on the island. He soon realizes that Maja's disappearance is only one of many strange occurrences, and that his fellow islanders, including his own grandmother, know a lot more than they’re telling. As he digs deeper, Anders begins to unearth a dark and deadly secret at the heart of this small, seemingly placid town.

   This novel is almost entirely set on an island in Sweden. Outwardly it is an idyllic place, but under the surface there is a sinister secret.

   Having grown up with Swedish TV, I am quite familiar with Swedish pop-culture. There are quite a few references to it in the book, but they are never intrusive and they function as Easter eggs that gives you a nostalgic smile if you are familiar with them. That being said, this is very much a Swedish book, the setting is 100% typical of Sweden, and although I have never been to a location such as is the setting of the book I am familiar with it through cultural osmosis.
   If you are familiar with Scandinavian crime, you will recognise to some extent the type of setting this is. But you don't have to know anything about Sweden to get into this, Lindqvists setting is accessible to everyone. And it is a great setting for this story.

   Lindqvist writes instantly compelling characters, and before you know it you are drawn into their lives. The main character, Anders, is complex and realistic. And around him is a set of very interesting supporting characters, some of which have stories that could fill a novel by themselves.
   The story is a gripping one. What really stands out is the sense of an eerie creepiness that pervades the novel. Lindqvist's prose is perfect for conveying this type of psychological horror. And he manages to keep the reader in suspense for a very long time.

   The opening mystery, interesting in itself, is soon shown to be a part of something much greater. But it takes time before what is really going on is revealed. Much of this is done through flasbacks that gradually feeds you with clues to what is going on. As the story progresses these revelations manages to raise the level of psychological horror.
   The events just get creepier and creepier as the novel progresses. And the mystery gets more and more complex the more you find out about it. This makes it a book that is hard to put down, you get so dragged into the story that you just want to keep reading. But if you scare easily you may want to have the lights on when you go to sleep.

   This is psychological horror at its best, if you like that this book is a must. And I would also recommend it to everyone that is a fan of Scandinavian crime and likes the setting and characters from that genre.
   This is the first book by John Ajvide Lindqvist I have read, but I will be looking out for his books from now on. He's definitively an author every horror fan should read.

NOTE: A copy of the book was supplied to me by the publisher.

Links: John Ajvide Lindqvist  St. Martins Press

22 November, 2011


Cover Art: Jackie Morris


ISBN: 978-0-00-727377-5
Pages: 400
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Published: 31 March 2011

On the cover:

In The Homecoming, Lady Carillion Carrock and a number of other Jamaillian nobles are sailing to the Cursed Shores. Their journey is not by choice: for plotting against the Satrap, their wealth has been confiscated and they have been exiled. Until now, Carillion has done nothing but lead a life of privilege. She believes they are bound for wondrous cities, cities where ancient kings and queens dusted their skin with gold and wore jewels above their eyes. But when she is marooned by the ship’s unscrupulous captain, she will soon discover the grim reality of what survival in the Rain Wilds entails.

The Silver Lady is a would-be writer, ekeing out a dull existence by working in a Sears store. The one day a man comes in: fortyish, pleasant-looking. Nothing out of the ordinary. Except he says his name is Merlin, and he’s about to change her life.

Rosemary got involved with the wrong man. Pell is lazy, good for nothing, a bully. Her best friend Hilia knew it and so did her tom cat, Marmalade. But love is blind: Rosemary had Pell’s baby, renovated the cottage his grandfather left in his will, turned its land to good use; and then he left her for another woman. Now he’s back, and something must be done…

   This book is split into two parts, at least in the table of contents, one for each author. And as the author(s) herself writes in the preface (, and after reading the book I agree with,) they are two distinctly different authors even though they are only one person. But it is kind of an interesting question if this is an anthology, because it has stories by two different authors, or a collection, since it is written by one person.
   As usual I will review each story by itself with a short summary at the end.



   It's very hard to say anything about this story without spoiling it, and I want any other reader to come to it fresh, like I did. So this will be rather short on details.
   The setting is our planet, but with the difference that humans co-exist with alien exiles, this is also a large part of the premise of the story. Lindholm has really nailed the setting, it feels very believable, and also original.
   As for the story, I'm not exactly revealing anything when I say that I really liked it. It is well worth reading, even if you don't consider yourself a Science Fiction fan.

   This is actually the first story I have ever read by Lindholm, (I write these reviews after each story, so I have only read this one from the book as I write this,) and I find myself wondering what took me so long. It's a great way to start a collection, and has me excited for the rest of the book.


   A love story that (may) have some magic thrown into the mix. For me this story didn't really stand out in any way. It is by no means bad, in fact it does what it does very well, but it was just not for me. But although I didn't connect with it, I am sure there are many others who will like it a lot.


   Set in the future, this story is about the alterations we do to our bodies and the bodies of our children. It walks a very fine line between being preachy or not, and Lindholm resists the temptation to make anything too black and white.
   I think this would have worked better for me as a longer story. The central idea is good, and the society in which it is set deserves a closer(/longer) look in my opinion.


   This is one of those stories that I can't really decide if I like or not. It has a central theme that is about magic, and it is well written. But yet I always come out of reading this type of story a bit unfulfilled and wondering if there is really any point to it at all. It is not something I connected with. I am sure others will feel satisfied by the theme and the philosophy, and connect with it more than I did. But I come away with feeling that I want there to be more story in a story.
   That being said, the theme here is not dissimilar to Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man, and I would probably have liked it better if I had read this on its own and not so close after that story.


   A story of social realism with a magical twist, and cats as a central part of it. 
   I found this a very thoughtful story. Some of its themes are very important ones, and Lindholm handles them with the respect they deserve. It is a very good story. And if you love cats it is a must.


   This is a vampire story. But it is not the type of story that you would normally associate with vampires. The originality of it makes it stand out from the pack (,or is that swarm or maybe brood?) That being said, the ending is not really surprising, you can see it coming very early in the story. But that does not really matter in this case. The journey to the ending is both enjoying and very interesting, and a well written one.


   The last story from Lindholm is a Science Fiction story that is set in a society that have some differences to the one we live in that makes for an unpleasantly possible future scenario.
   I liked this story a lot. Both the characters and the story are engaging, and Lindholm manages to tell a lot about its setting in a few pages. 



   This story was first published in the anthology Legends II, edited by Robert Silverberg, in 2004. In order of publication it follows The Liveship Traders trilogy, and although in the internal chronology of Hobb's world it tells of the beginning of the Rain Wilds settlement, I'd urge any reader to first read The Liveship Traders trilogy before this story. If you start with this, some of the events in that trilogy will be spoiled for you.

   Since I love The Liveship Traders trilogy I found this tale absolutely wonderful, and I think this could very well be Hobb's best work. The narrative is framed as a diary, and this works very well. The woman writing it comes of as a sympatetic and well rounded character, and her voice is very well suited to the story.
   Despite knowing, or at least strongly suspecting, where the story is going to end up, Hobb manages to make it suspenseful. There is a doubt throughout as to the faith of the expedition this story tells of that makes it a real page-turner. 
   This is a story every fan of Hobb should read, and especially thosethat enjoyed The Liveship Traders trilogy. And I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who likes Fantasy, it is a great Novella.


   Set in the world of The Liveship Traders trilogy, this is an excellent little story of a woman coming into her Bingtown inheritance. As with Homecoming it is best read after The Liveship Traders trilogy. But it will also serve as a great introduction to Hobb for those who are funfamiliar with her work, as it stands on its own as a story.


   This story is set in Buck in the Six Duchies. And those who have read Hobb's two trilogies about FitzChivalry will recognise both names and elements from those. But this is set on the opposite ened of the social scale from the royalty of those two trilogies.
   The story is a very powerful one, and Hobb really manages to make the reader feel for the characters in this story. If you don't feel sympathy for the characters here you must have a heart of stone. It really is a story that deserves to be wider read than the obvious appeal it will have to the fans of Hobb's Six Duchies stories.


   This is a great introduction to the two authors. I'm sure many, like me, who are fans of Hobb have not read Lindholm, and this is a good place to start. I may not have connected with all the stories, and especially the Lindholm part took some being used to after reading a lot of Hobb's work previously. But I really enjoyed Lindholm's style too, and have already purchased a couple of her books on the strength of this collection/anthology.
   For Hobb fans it is an essential purchase. The novella Homecoming in itself justified the purchase to me, and there is a lot of other great stories here.

23 August, 2011


Cover Artist: John Coulthart


ISBN: 978-0-85766-099-2
Pages: 314
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
Originally published: 1979
This edition published: 7 April 2011

On the cover:


Having acquired a device for themselves, the brutish Morlocks return from the desolate far future to Victorian England to cause mayhem and disruption. But the mythical heroes of Old England have also returned, in the hour of the country’s greatest need, to stand between England and her total destruction.

   This book starts out right after events in H.G.Well's The Time Machine. And it does
seem from the first chapter that this will be a direct sequel. But it soon turns out this is not the case.
   Jeter manages to bring in elements of post-apocalyptic science fiction, Arthurian legend and a lost underworld reminiscent of Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth and mix them together to make a thrilling story. Jeter's writing drives the story along all the time, and the choice of first person narrative works perfectly.

   There are several places in the book that the story takes an unexpected turn, and that is one of its strengths. Another is Jeter's take on the Arthurian legend, something I really fell for. I'd go so far as to say that this is an essential book for anyone with more than a passing interests in Arthurian legend.
    Steampunk fans will also be glad to know that there are quite a few steampuk elements along the way too.

   I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a great read. Both as a (sort of) sequel to The Time Machine, and as an original story in itself. I felt that the connection to The Time Machine is almost incidental. It does not suffer if you know nothing of H.G. Wells' novel when you read it.
   I don't hesitate to recommend this book, and will leave you with the final of my review notes on the book:   Did absolutely not see that end coming!

NOTE: An ARC of this book was supplied to me by the publisher.


   You may have noticed that this blog has been in stasis for the last four months. This has mostly been due to my internet being horrible in that period. I tried blogging several times before giving up and waiting for my internet to stabilize. Hopefully it is back to the way it should be now.

   I was planning this to be my first post, followed by a review later today. But as you may already have seen, I felt I just had to write this post as soon as my curiosity led me to find out about something strange with one of this years Hugo winners. I also planned on this post going up yesterday, but lousy internet and the need for sleep delayed it until now.

   Back to what is happening with the blog. I plan to do at least three post a week, at least two of those will be reviews. And it is highly likely that I will do some articles and opinion pieces fairly regularly.
   I don't think you'll notice any huge differences if you used to read the blog before my hiatus. But I will do some reviews outside the SFF genre in the future, and I have already plans for an English language review of a Norwegian book that has not been translated into English yet. And I might do more of those if it's a book that I feel is interesting to people elsewhere in the world.

   Later today will see my first review in a long while posted. (Unless my internet decides to not work again.) I hope you will follow my blog in the future. Any comments and suggestions are welcome by the way :-)

-Ole aka Weirdmage

22 August, 2011



   So, on Saturday August 20 2011 the Hugo Awards were handed out at the 2011 Worldcon, Renovation, in Reno, Nevada.
   Including those honoured was the Doctor Who season 5 finale "The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang". There is however a rather big problem with this award, namely the rules of the Hugo awards. I quote Article 3, Section 3, Paragraph 8 (3.3.8):

3.3.8:   Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Any television program or other production, with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less, in any medium of dramatized science fiction, fantasy or related subjects that has been publicly presented for the first time in its present dramatic form during the previous calendar year.

(This is from 2009, but I assume that if the rules were changed last year they would have had time to get them online. EDIT: I found the 2010 rules, they are linked to further down in the article, they still say the same.)

    The important part of 3.3.8 is of course "with a complete running time of 90 minutes or less". According to Doctor Who - The Complete Guide the episodes are 50+55 minutes. It was hard to find something online, but I managed to find out these actual running times: The Pandorica Opens at 48:43 and The Big Bang at 53:14. Making for a total of 101:57, or almost 12 minutes more than the Hugo Award rules allow for. (The running times I quote supposedly includes credits, and a few seconds before and after each episode according to my source. But that does not even come close to 12 minutes.)

   So why was I even checking this? I was thinking that a double episode of Doctor Who was longer than an animated movie. And it did not make sense to me that Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon were considered long form when a double episode of Doctor Who was considered short form. I also know that animated movies are frequently as short as 75-80 minutes, so I wanted to see where the Hugo Award rules drew the line.  And that line is 90 minutes, as you can see from the excerpt from the rules above.
(For clarification, Toy Story 3 is 103 minutes, and How to Train Your Dragon 98 minutes according to IMDb.)

   I find it absolutely incredible if this has passed through the verification test for Hugo Award ineligibility. I thought maybe the rules were changed last year, but there's no rule change according to this. (The link will take you to the 2010 WSFS Constitution, that for some eason is not up on the WSFS website.)
   That this has slipped through unnoticed, it is a scandal. And for the Hugos to retain any credibility at all, they should immediately ban the person responsible, at least from serving in any sort of official capacity for the Hugos/Worldcon, preferably from attending for a few years. The same if multiple persons are responsible. This is not something that should happen in even the most amateur organisation, and certainly not to a prestigious Award.

  I'm waiting to see what happens now. And I would love to get a comment from anyone associated with the Hugos. 
   From what I can see the Hugo Award for "Dramatic Presentation, Short Form" has to be changed. And I have no idea how they plan to do that.

   Lastly, it seems the real winner in this category is: Doctor Who, season 5, episode 10: Vincent and the Doctor. Unfortunately for the Hugo Awards, this episode has a different director and scriptwriter.

UPDATE: After trying to find out if an exception has been made I found out that there is a rule that would allow this double episode in the short form category: 

"3.2.10: The Worldcon Committee may relocate a dramatic presentation work into a more appropriate category if it feels that it is necessary, provided that the length of the work is within twenty percent (20%) of the new category boundary."

   I have tried to find evidence online that this rule was used. So far as I was able to ascertain no move from long form to short form was made, and if it was there is no record of it online. (This includes any note on the voting form about it.) And I must assume that my initial findings that the winner is ineligible stands.

23 April, 2011


 Cover Art and Design: Joe Roberts


ISBN: 978-1-84901-587-5
  Pages: 252
Publisher: Robinson
Publishing Date: 24 March 2011

On the cover:

From humble beginnings in November 1963, Doctor Who has become a quintessential element of British popular culture. Exploring the adventures of all eleven Doctors; their faithful companions, both living and robotic; a universe of monsters and villains from Helen A to Prisoner Zero, including Daleks and Weeping Angels. With a comprehensive guide to every episode, Mark Campbell puts the show under the microscope with facts, figures and opinions that will entertain long term fans as well as Time Lord fanatics.

   This is a brilliant little guide to Doctor Who. I say little, but it does cover every television appearance up to the end of season five. And it also has a list of every CD and book appearance up to 2009. Add to that the list of missing episodes and a reference list that includes both books and the Internet, and you get a pretty comprehensive guide to most things about Doctor Who.

   For every TV episode Campbell gives a list of the cast and crew, a(very) brief description of the episode, some observations and finally his own verdict on the episode in question.
   I found this to be a great format for this kind of guide. Although every episode gets only a brief mention, it is more than enough for quick reference. And the observations are almost always fascinating, and includes such information as where it was filmed and often information on cut scenes etc.
   Campbell includes his own verdict on each of the episodes and adds a score of 1-10. This part is not really necessary, but it works well. But I must say I did not always agree with Campbell, but that is to be expected -it is after all his personal opinion.

   As a quick reference guide this works wonderfully. I had already checked out several episodes I saw mentioned when I started reading the whole thing for this review. There is lots of information here, and I'm sure almost anyone will learn something new by reading it. 
   I also found that if you want a quick overview of what an episode is about this book beats the Internet for speed. -Yes, I tried it.
   The lack of any pictures may be a turn off for some, but I don't think it should be. The small format (B-format paperback) makes it very handy to have near by, and the information is excellent.

   This book should be present in every Doctor Who fan's library. Whether you have come to the series after the turn of the millennium or you have followed it since the beginning.

NOTE: A copy of this book was supplied to me by the publisher.

05 April, 2011


   I don't usually post about covers on the blog. But I found this one very interesting. And to be fair, I am a fan of Gail Carriger's books too. So here are some thoughts on the cover for Heartless.

   This is the cover that was originally revealed:

  A good cover, nothing wrong with it. And it fits perfectly with the covers for the other books in the series, Soulless, Changeless and Blameless.

   But there were some differences in the final cover, that Gail Carriger revealed on her blog:

   Can you spot the differences? 
   The cover has gotten a bit steampunked with the adding of an antenna and two other devices to the left of the model's head. These replace the two chimneys from the earlier version. And we also have two wolves added at the top of the stairs. 

   I think the final cover is an improvement. It shows that the book is steampunk, the first cover could be any Victorian novel really - not that it was bad. And the two wolves have significance to Alexia's world. 
   What do you think of the changes?

For both covers: Model: Donna Ricci, Design: Lauren Panepinto, Photo: Pixie Vixen Productions.

The book will be out July 2011 from Orbit.

04 April, 2011


Cover Art: John Coulthart


ISBN: 978-0-85766-099-2
Pages: 384
  Publisher: Angry Robot Books
Original Publishing Date: 1987
Re-issue Publishing Date: 7 April 2011*

On the cover:

But George has little talent for watches and other infernal devices. When someone tries to steal an old device from the premises, George finds himself embroiled in a mystery of time travel, music and sexual intrigue.  

   This book is a bit of a peculiar acquaintance. It is written in a style that is distinctly Victorian, and I would not have been surprised if it was originally published in 1897 based only on how it is written.
   It is written in a style that is reminiscent of both Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, and to some extent H.P. Lovecraft's tales. We get a protagonist that tells the story himself after everything is over. Not as a diary, but as if he himself was writing this story of what happened.
   And I found this helped a great deal to set the mood, and transport me to the time when the story is set.

   There is absolutely no doubt that this is a steampunk story, the whole story revolves around clockwork creations. But Jeter has not limited himself to just this aspect, there is also a distinctly Lovecraftian(-ish) element here. Both elements are handled very well, and they compliment each other rather than taking attention away from each other.

   Jeter is great at getting the reader going. The narrator's hints at things that for him has happened, but is still to come for the reader, makes you want to read on to find out what has happened. And there are several mysteries introduced early on, and there are more to come.
   The story takes several twists and turns I did not see coming, and you will never quite know which characters will turn out to be friend or foe.
   When there is action, and there is quite a bit of it, it is handled very well. The first person narration puts you in the middle of what is happening and at times this takes you on quite a ride.

   The only problem I had with the book was the ending. It felt a bit rushed, and although it was pretty fulfilling, I felt it lacked a bit compared to the rest of the novel. But that being said, it is by no means so weak as to make the novel anything less than highly enjoyable.
   If you are the least bit interested in steampunk this is certainly a must-read novel. And it is Victorian enough that it should be in the collection of everyone who likes science fiction from that period.

NOTE: An ARC of this book was supplied to me by the publisher.

* 7 April 2011 is the UK and e-book release date. USA and Canada release date is 26 April 2011.

LINKS: K. W. Jeter  Angry Robot Books

31 March, 2011


Cover Art: Steve Stone
Cover Design: Jamie S. Warren Youll


ISBN: 978-0-553-58894-1
Pages: 719
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Publishing Date: 1 June 2006

On the cover:

 An orphan's life is harsh - and often short - in the mysterious island city of Camorr. But young Locke Lamora dodges death and slavery, becoming a thief under the tutelage of a gifted con artist. As leader of the band of light-fingered brothers known as the Gentlemen Bastards, Locke is soon infamous, fooling even the underworld's most feared ruler. But in the shadows lurks someone still more ambitious and deadly.

Faced with a bloody coup that threatens to destroy everyone and everything that holds meaning in his mercenary life, Locke vows to beat the enemy at his own brutal game - or die trying...

   I don't know if this is the slowest fantasy book ever written, but it is definitely the slowest one I have ever read. 
   The prologue is a great introduction to the the story, but it takes about 300 pages before it gets going. Not only is the main story slow, but Lynch has put interludes between each chapter, and this slows down the pace even further. It doesn't help that these interludes have next to nothing to do with the main story, and seldom add any new information.
   When the main story picks up pace, the interludes continue to interrupt and slow down the flow. The interludes with back story should, in my opinion, have been condensed into a part 1. And the rest  of the interludes contain things that are better left for an appendix.

   I've already mentioned the slow pace of the first half of the book. Normally I don't have a problem with an author using time to establish settings and characters, but that is not really what is going on here. We do get a good idea of how the city is by the end of the book, but we never get close to the main character. Locke Lamora is an enigma at the start of the book, and although we get a good insight into how he ticks as the book progresses we never see what makes him tick. This made it pretty hard for me to have any sympathy for him, or even care much about him.

   However, if you manage to get through the first 300-400 pages of the book the action kicks in. And when it does it never really lets up - with the exception of the interludes I mentioned. There is a wonderfully executed build up to the climax of this novel, and it comes to a very satisfying conclusion.
   Lynch's writing is also very good, and is what kept me reading through the novels first half. There is absolutely no doubt that he is a very good writer who has tons of potential. And although the beginning is slow, the latter part of this book made me excited to read more of the story of Lamora. I just hope we get to know him better in the next installment Red Seas Under Red Skies.

   This was a hard review to write, not least because I still have trouble coming to a conclusion that unifies the two halves of this book. The first part is pretty boring, and very slow. The second part is pretty fast paced and interesting. All in all it is a good book, but it is severely let down by its monstrously slow beginning, and that is what keeps it from being a great novel.  
   If you can handle the slow beginning, I would however advise you to get the book. There is much to love here. I know I will re-read it when the last book comes, but I think I will read the interludes with back story after the prologue as a part one and save the rest of the interludes until I have finished the main story and see if that helps with the pacing issues.

LINKS: Scott Lynch   Bantam Spectra

24 March, 2011


Cover Art: Larry Rostant


ISBN: 978-0-85766-090-9
Pages: 352
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
Publishing Date: 26 March 2011*

On the cover:

The colony planet of Eighty-Six looks as dull as all its fellow new worlds to veteran journalist Lex Falk, but when a local squabble starts to turn violent, and the media start getting the runaround from the military high command, his interest is seriously piqued.
Forbidden from approaching the battle zone, he gets himself chipped inside the head of a combat veteran – and uncovers the story of a lifetime. When the soldier is killed, however, Falk must use all his resourcefulness to get back home again… and blow the lid off the whole damn thing.

   The title of this book tells us much about it, embedded was a phrase I'm sure all of us heard several times during the US led invasion of Iraq. And it is, at a start at least, what this story is about. What happens in the beginning of the book, when journalist Falk comes to planet Eighty-Seven, is a very realistic portrayal of how journalists work. And for me that immediately set a tone of realism for the whole novel. And I wasn't disappointed.

   It doesn't take long for the story of war journalism to turn into a more traditional tale of military science fiction, and once it does the action starts. There is plenty of action throughout the story, and Abnett doesn't pull any punches. He describes a bloody and dirty conflict, that owes more to Joe Haldeman's The Forever War than to Star Wars. This is of course a good thing, in my opinion.

   I've already mentioned the journalistic angle, and the action, but there is much more to this novel. There is a layer of suspense that runs through it, and it is hard to know where the story will take you. This is a great strength, and something that made it hard for me to put down.
   There is also a very serious element in the book that I was afraid would feel preachy. Fortunately Abnett handles this very well, and it adds to the story without feeling intrusive.

   Whether your interest lies in planet bound military science fiction, a good war story, or a different twist on war journalism this is a book you should pick up. It's fast, relentless, and has an ending that I at least did not see coming. 

NOTE: An ARC of this book was supplied to me by the publisher

* 26 March 2011 is the release of the Forbidden Planet only Hardcover edition. The electronic release is 29 March 2011. UK release 27 April 2011 and USA/Canada release 29 March 2011.

23 March, 2011


Cover Illustration: Keevil Design
Cover Design: HarperCollinsPublishers


ISBN: 978-0-00-733276-2
Pages: 350
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publishing Date: 27 May 2010

On the cover:

Nicodemus Weal has trained at the stronghold of Starhaven since he was a boy. His mentor, the famous wizard Magister Shannon, taught him how to cast spells made from luminescent magical runes, how to peel written words off a page and make them physically real. Initially, Nicodemus showed great promise. Able to forge runes with great speed, he was once thought to be the Halcyon - a powerful spellwright prophesied to prevent the apocalypse known as the disjunction.

There was only one problem: Nicodemus couldn't spell. Every time he touched a magical text, he unintentionally corrupted it, creating a dangerous, potentially deadly misspell. Now aged twenty-five, while his peers advance as wizards, he is still an apprentice, dealing with the devastating knowledge that he has failed to live up to prophecy.

But not everyone interprets prophecy in the same way. There are factions who believe someone like Nicodemus could hold great power - power that might be used as easily for evil as for good. And when two of the wizards closest to Nicodemus are found dead, it becomes clear that some of those factions will stop at nothing to find the apprentice and bend him to their will...

   Charlton is quick to get the reader into the story. And he is also quick to introduce a central mystery that is  
both interesting and intriguing. The mystery part of the story is presented to us in the first couple of chapters, and while this seems pretty ordinary at first the setting makes it something else entirely.
   While the story at times can seem predictable, there are several layers of complexity added as it progresses, and it takes several turns that I didn't expect. It is not an especially long novel, for fantasy, but it contains a lot of action and suspense. One of Charlton's strengths is that he does not overwrite, but lets the story flow without unnecessarily slowing it down.

   I love fantasy that has history, a world that has seemingly organically grown, and Charlton presents us with that. It is not done in info dumps, but is trickled out at natural points as the story progresses. By the end of the novel you'll have an idea of the world Nicodemus inhabits that makes it interesting to see what comes next. 
   Even in the somewhat constricted world of Starhaven we get glimpses into the politics and conflicts of the wider world. Something Charlton does very well. The rivalries between different groups is handled with skill, and adds a lot to the story.

   What separates this most from other works of fantasy is the magic system. Charlton has created a language based magic system that at first seems pretty straight forward and simple, but as we learn more it comes apparent that it is very complex. 
   The magic is also in many ways integrated seamlessly into the story. And not used as a way of getting the characters out of impossible situations as we often see in fantasy. It is great to see magic in fantasy presented in a way that feels fresh and original.

   In conclusion, I can say that this is a thoroughly enjoyable and suspense-filled debut from Charlton. It is not a book that is overly taxing to read, and it has a legacy rooted more in the traditional epic fantasy than the "gritty" or "new weird" that seem to be the vogue these days.
   I'd recommend this to any fan of fantasy, but especially to those that enjoy a good and complex magic system.

21 March, 2011


   Genre For Japan is an initiative that I wholly support. And I urge everyone else to do the same. Here is the press release with the info you need. Read it, and go take a look at the site:

Press Release: Time to Donate Prizes!

We’ve all heard the news and seen the horrific pictures coming from Japan in the aftermath of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami – and no doubt we’ve all wondered how to help.

Following the example of Authors for Japan, where bids are now closed, we’d like to introduce Genre for Japan, a chance for the comics, science fiction, fantasy and horror communities to unite and show our generosity to those who need it right now.

We are planning to run auctions for genre-themed prizes and we need YOU to donate. We are looking for really fantastic prizes: examples might include signed first editions, coaching sessions with agents for that perfect submission letter or original artwork!

Some of the prizes already donated include a year's supply of books from Tor, signed artwork from Solaris Books and editing/critiques from professional authors and editors.
The prizes will be auctioned on our website, through JustGiving, in aid of the British Red Cross Tsunami Appeal.

If you have something really special to donate, please drop us a line at including information such as a starting bid amount, a sentence or two about the item, and whether you wish to send the prize to a central collecting point or would be willing to post it to the winning bidder. Photos would also help us to list the item, if relevant.

The deadline to receive offers of prizes is 25th March, with the auction set to begin on 28th March.

Find out more information on our website:
Follow us on twitter: @genreforjapan
E-mail us:

Genre for Japan is organised by:
Amanda Rutter: reviewer and webmistress at Floor to Ceiling Books
Jenni Hill: editor for science fiction, fantasy and horror publishers Solaris Books
Louise Morgan: author and interviewer for the British Fantasy Society
Ro Smith: writer and reviewer; blogger at In Search of the Happiness Max
Alasdair Stuart is the editor of Hub magazine.

18 March, 2011


Cover Image: Getty Images
Cover Design: Blacksheep


ISBN: 978-1-85723-146-5 
Pages: 309
Publisher: Orbit
Publishing Date: 1988

On the cover:

The Culture - a human/machine symbiotic society - has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy.

Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game ... a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life - and very possibly his death.

   The central premise of this novel is games, or to be more specific, a game that is complex enough to run an empire. Not the most common of science fiction principles, but a very interesting one.
    Banks is very adept at getting his concept across to the reader. First by introducing us to the game-player Gurgeh and his life. Through Gurgeh we get a very good idea of how the Culture treats games, and what position they have in society. The introduction of a world run by a game is done in such a way that you never get the feeling that Banks is talking about something hypothetical, but instead it feels both plausible and real.

   The story itself is great, it has the plausibility that in my opinion is needed to get immersed in SFF, and it doesn't lack in suspense. Banks manages to keep the info dumping integrated to the story, and it doesn't slow down the narrative.
   It is a rather short book, and is a quick read. That doesn't mean that it lacks complexity. There are many parallels to our world here, and if you feel like it this is a novel that is a great springboard for analysis. Even the descriptions of the Culture's differences to the Empire of Azad serves to highlight that we are in a wholly different world from what we know. But at the same time it is not lacking in references to real-world society.

   There is much to learn about the Culture here. And as this is the second novel Banks has written about the Culture, that is a good thing. He is expanding on his creation too great effect. And the shadow of the much larger world that exists outside the novel is very much present.
   This book is not an action-filled space adventure, but an immersion into a different culture in a future setting. It is a type of social science fiction I thoroughly enjoyed. If you are at all interested in science fiction for more than big guns and spaceships I advise you to read this book, it is one I know I will re-read sometime in the future.

Note: This novel is marked correctly by the publisher as "A Culture Novel". It is not a direct continuation of the events in Consider Phlebas, the novel that preceded it. But it is set in the same universe, and although the two novels are very different, they are part of a series.

Review: Consider Phlebas

Links: Iain M. Banks  Orbit

16 March, 2011


Cover Illustration: Tom Hallman
Cover Concept: Lisa Litwack


ISBN: 978-0-671-02423-9
Pages: 732
Publisher: Pocket Books 
Publishing Date: 22 September 1998

On the cover:

Four years after the sudden death of his wife, forty-year-old bestselling novelist Mike Noonan is still grieving. Unable to write, and plagued by vivid nightmares set at the western Maine summerhouse he calls Sara Laughs, Mike reluctantly returns to the lakeside getaway. There, he finds his beloved Yankee town held in the grip of a powerful millionaire, Max Devore, whose vindictive purpose is to take his three-year-old granddaughter, Kyra, away from her widowed young mother, Mattie. As Mike is drawn into Mattie and Kyra's struggle, as he falls in love with both of them, he is also drawn into the mystery of Sara Laughs, now the site of ghostly visitations and escalating terrors. What are the forces that have been unleashed here - and what do they want of Mike Noonan?

   This is one of those Stephen King books that you usually won't hear about. And let's face it, most people, even those who like the horror genre, seem to have trouble coming up with titles for King's books that hasn't been filmed.
   I almost never seek out reviews of books by authors I like before buying them. And with this book I started reading it without knowing anything about it. In fact I didn't even read the flap copy (,the "On the cover:" above,) before starting it.

   King doesn't waste time pulling you into this story. By the end of page one, we know that the wife of main character Mike Noonan has died, and by the end of page two we have been told there is something mysterious connected to her death. By this time I was hooked.

   This is one of King's novels where a writer tells us his story, and this time it is done in first person. The choice of first person works very well, King uses it to really get us to know Noonan, and it certainly adds to the suspense that we get inside his head.
   King uses the first seventy or so pages to get us to know Noonan before ratchetting up the tension. For me this worked excellently, when things started to happen I was already invested in Noonan's story. And the set-up part doesn't feel boring or unnecessary.

   The central theme here is a ghost story, and it is this that gives the novel its horror aspects. But there is also much more than that. There is human drama in abundance, all excellently done by King. We get the almost obligatory small-town setting that King is the master of, and a cast of very interesting characters.
   I have trouble thinking of anything that weakens this story, and it is in my opinion worthy of a high placing on the list of good King novels. Whether you like Stephen King, ghost stories or suspenseful human drama this is a book I can heartily recommend.
   If you are a King fan, and have yet to read this, you really should make it a priority in my opinion.

I'll leave you with a great quote from the book (, found on page 102 in the edition I have read for this review):

I like people who read actual books, and not just because I once wrote them myself. Bookreaders are just as willing as anyone else to start out with the weather, but as a general rule they can actually go on from there.

Reviews: The Shining
               Four Past Midnight

Links: Stephen King  Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books)

28 February, 2011


Cover: Spring London


ISBN: 978-0-85776-086-2
Pages: 368
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
Publishing date:  3 March 2011*

On the cover:

It’s a kind of magic...
When two college students decide to spend Spring Break using their magic to fleece the casinos of Las Vegas, little do they imagine that the city harbours some magical secrets of its own... And of course what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas – alive or dead.

   As you perhaps can see from the cover image, this book has been called "Ocean's Eleven meets Harry Potter". I don't disagree much with that assessment, and it is certainly a good description of the basics of the story for anyone not well versed in the genre.
   But I would rather describe it as Neil Gaiman's Books of Magic meets Las Vegas meets [good] Hollywood Action-Thriller.

    At first this seems to be a pretty standard story of two friends going to break the bank in Vegas, with the only added ingredient being the use of real magic. But it doesn't take long before you realize this novel is much more than that.

    Forbeck quickly pulls you into the story, I was hooked by the end of the first chapter.  It doesn't take long before you realize there is quite a complex back story here, and it is one that is revealed over the course of the novel. Something that works very well. You always feel that there is more to be revealed, and that makes this a book that is hard to put down once you have started it.
    It is a fast-paced story, there is lots of action and that is why I used Hollywood action-thriller as a description at the beginning of this review. But it doesn't feel like the action is placed there just to "up the ante", it is an integral part of the whole.

   Another strength of this novel is that Forbeck is very good at adding that little magical twist to our world that signifies good Urban Fantasy. Everything is slightly different from the reality we know, but never so much that it becomes too implausible. A couple of the revelations were of the kind that made perfect sense, and I actually wouldn't be too surprised if it really was the way Forbeck tells it in this book.

   The characters in this book are interesting, especially the main character. And even those that same pretty typical have something fresh about them.  I enjoyed following Jackson and Bill's journey through this version of Vegas, and I wouldn't mind following them to other places in the future.

   Overall this is a fresh and suspenseful Urban Fantasy novel.  It is great entertainment, and if you have a taste for fantasy in a contemporary setting this is definitely worth checking out.
   This will also make a great read for anyone interested in stage-magic, Las Vegas, and casino card games.

NOTE: An ARC of this book was supplied to me by the publisher.

*Release date 3 March 2011 is for UK and electronic editions. (Although it should be up on the UK Kindle store now.) Release in USA and Canada is 29 March 2011.

LINKS: Matt Forbeck  Angry Robot Books