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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Winners of the Frank Beddor Giveaway!!!

Congratulations to Marisa Janes (Illinois) and Jason Farrell (Florida) who were randomly selected to win a Frank Beddor PRIZE PACK, each of which includes a copy of “The Looking Glass Wars”, “Seeing Redd”, the Hatter M graphic novel and two posters courtesy of Goldberg McDuffie Communications!!! If you haven’t experienced Mr. Beddor’s fascinating new take on the Alice in Wonderland mythos yet, I strongly urge that you do so. You can find a ton of information at The Looking Glass Wars Website, and I’ve interviewed Mr. Beddor HERE and reviewed “Seeing ReddHERE, which is now available as well as the hardcover edition of the graphic novel Hatter M. Thanks for reading!
Friday, September 28, 2007

Del Rey To Publish Tie-in Books Based on the New Indiana Jones film! (Official Press Release)

NEW YORK, NY - September 27, 2007 - Del Rey Books, an imprint of Ballantine Books at the Random House Publishing Group, announced today that it will publish tie-in books based on the long-awaited, eagerly anticipated new movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which will premiere throughout the world on May 22, 2008.

For more than 25 years, audiences have thrilled to the adventures of
Indiana Jones. The three original films Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade garnered 14 Academy Award nominations, won 7 Oscars, and grossed more than $1.1 billion at the box office. In the cinematic event of 2008, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Harrison Ford join forces again, bringing Indiana Jones back to the silver screen for his biggest adventure ever.

Del Rey Books was the publisher of the original movie novels, and this new adventure will be penned by New York Times-bestselling author James Rollins (The Judas Strain, Black Order, Map of Bones and Sandstorm). Del Rey will also be publishing The Making of Indiana Jones by Laurent Bouzereau and J. W. Rinzler, a behind-the-scenes look at the people, places, technology, and events that went into the creation of all four Indiana Jones movies, beginning with the classic Raiders of the Lost Ark and culminating with an up-close-and-personal look at the brand-new blockbuster.

"We're very excited to be working with
Del Rey on the new Indiana Jones books," said Carol Roeder, Lucasfilm's Director of Publishing. "Del Rey was there with the first Star Wars novel, and the first Indiana Jones novel, so it's wonderful to be able to continue the great adventure together."

"The
Indiana Jones movies have attained legendary status in the world of film, and the character of Indiana Jones is a legend in his own right," noted Del Rey editor Shelly Shapiro. "We are thrilled to be a part of his return, and to have the opportunity to show an entire new generation of readers how exciting these novels can be."

What can I say. I love Indiana Jones and while I'm not much for movie novelizations, I'm also a pretty big fan of James Rollins so I might just have to check this one out. I can't wait for the movie!!!

"Blood Engines" by T.A. Pratt

Order “Blood EnginesHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

Besides creating chapbooks, co-editing the zine Flytrap, and working as a senior editor / book reviewer at Locus Magazine, Tim Pratt also writes SF/fantasy novels (The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl), poetry, and short fiction (published in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, Strange Horizons, the upcoming Solaris Book of New Fantasy, etc.) including the 2007 Hugo Award-winning “Impossible Dreams”. As T.A. Pratt, the author is producing a new urban fantasy series which kicks off with “Blood Engines”.

On the surface, “Blood Engines” seems like any number of urban fantasy novels out there. Strong leading heroine? Check. Contemporary backdrop? Check. Supernatural action, sex, and sarcastic humor? Check, check & check. Yet, “Blood Engines” has more going for it than you might think. For instance, in most of the urban fantasy series that I’ve read, the opening volume usually spends a lot of time on set-up and ends up leaving the reader with more questions than answers. Not so in “Blood Engines” which is basically a self-contained story. Sure, there are a couple of threads left unresolved that will get picked up in the already announced sequels, but never once did I feel that I was reading a set-up novel. Part of the reason is that the leading protagonist reads like a veteran character—apparently Marla Mason has appeared in previous short stories by Mr. Pratt so that has something to do with it. So from the very beginning of the book Ms. Mason, chief sorcerer of the city Felport, and her associate Rondeau, an “inhuman psychic entity that long ago possessed the body of a little homeless boy”, are thrown into the fire. In short, the two are in San Francisco searching for a powerful artifact that will help prevent a rival from usurping Marla’s position as chief sorcerer. What should be a fairly simple job becomes vastly more complicated when an acquaintance turns up murdered and the artifact in question is stolen for use in a diabolical, world-threatening plot that has something to do with poisonous golden frogs, hummingbirds, blood sacrifices and Aztec mythology. Throw in a sex party, alternate universes, ancient gods, some interesting magic concepts, and a wild cast of supporting characters, and you have a story that is just as fun & outrageous as it sounds.

Character-wise, “Blood Engines” is a bit of a mixed bag. Marla Mason is obviously the star of the show getting the bulk of the third-person narrative, and what I liked about her is that she knows what she’s about (her strengths and her weaknesses), she doesn’t take crap from anyone, and even though she’s the good guy, she’s definitely not a saint. Plus, besides being a “jill-of-all-trades” sorcerer, she also has martial arts training, possesses a knife that can cut through the metaphysical and owns a bad-ass cloak that is as powerful as it is dangerous. Rondeau meanwhile is not human, comes from unknown origins and has a gift for tongues, or more specifically Cursing. Basically, there’s not really that much to Rondeau and he’s more or less there for the banter and the funny quips, but he is open sexually, which is actually a common theme with some of the other characters including Marla. Then there’s Bradley Bowman or ‘B’, a former actor with psychic abilities who shares part of the narrative with Marla. While B isn’t that well-developed, I liked him better than Rondeau and I hope that he’ll be featured more prominently in future books. Of the rest, there’s your usual blend of villains, allies and those that fall somewhere in-between. Mutex plays the main baddie and while he had some impressive abilities, the motives behind his overall actions were a bit thin. Personally, my favorites in the whole book were some of the side characters, particularly such unconventional sorcerers as the pornomancer Finch, the technomancer Dalton and the cannibal Bethany.

Regarding the writing in the book, I haven’t had the pleasure of reading any of Mr. Pratt’s other works so I can’t comment on that, but from what I’ve seen in “Blood Engines” I’d say he’s pretty competent. The author displays a good grasp of the world that he’s created, specifically the magical elements some of which are quite unique; his research seems detailed, especially the city of San Francisco; and he knows how to write a page-turner—I finished “Blood Engines” in just over a day ;) About the only thing I didn’t like was I thought the metaphors were too simple & clichéd and I thought the pop culture references (Bruce Lee, the Beatles, Godzilla) too obvious, though I did see one to post-rock band …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of the Dead ;)

All in all I enjoyed “Blood Engines”. Obviously I’m not an expert on urban fantasy. Heck, there are countless series that I haven’t started yet, but I am a fan of the subgenre and I’ve read my fair share of books that fall in that category. Whether or not that makes my opinion worth anything is up to you, but I believe T.A. Pratt’sBlood Engines” is worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of urban fantasy and want to try something that’s recognizable, but distinctive. For those who do give it a spin, note that volumes two (Poison Sleep) and three (Dead Reign) are due out in 2008, with “Grift Sense” following in 2009…
Thursday, September 27, 2007

Author Contests/Giveaways

David Anthony Durham, author of “Acacia” which is one of the best fantasy debuts this year, has arranged a little giveaway for an audio copy of his book. The rules HERE are pretty simple. Basically, you just need to sign in or log on to Mr. Durham’s forum and leave your sign-in name on the appropriate thread HERE. Easy as pie :)

Over HERE at Kate Mosse’s website, there’s another contest. This one you’ll have to work a little as it requires submitting a 1000-word short story that includes at least one hatpin! I’m not sure what the prize is, but I’m sure it’s pretty cool :) Deadline for that is Sunday, October 7, 2007 at Midnight. By the way, Kate Mosse’s new book “Sepulchre” is due for release October 31, 2007. Pick up a copy!

For fans of near-future, science fiction/spy thrillers, check out Josh Conviser’s website HERE for a contest he’s running. The prizes are for three signed copies of his debut novel “Echelon” and an advance copy of the sequel “Empyre”, which comes out on October 30, 2007. I just got a copy of “Empyre” myself so I look forward to reviewing it :) Also, I was a bit late on finding out about the contest, which ends Monday, October 1, 2007 so don’t dawdle…

Finally, Matthew Hughes, an underrated science fiction & fantasy writer, will be starting a contest on his website this Saturday, September 29th at 6:00PM Eastern Time. What can readers look forward to? How about copies of the author’s “The Spiral Labyrinth”, the “Majestrum” trade paperback and a Payseur & Schmidt limited edition chapbook of his Luff Imbry novelette, "The Farouche Assemblage." Even better, three lucky people will receive one of the limited edition Night Shade versions of Mr. Hughes’The Gist Hunter and Other Stories”, “Majestrum” or “The Spiral Labyrinth.” Sounds good to me, so be sure to visit the website HERE at the appointed time :D

Winners of "The High King's Tomb" Giveaway!!!

Congratulations to Jerri McSloy (Texas), Brittany Weems (Texas), Melissa Markham (Virginia), Karlene Karrfalt (Indiana), Haley Brown (Ohio), Jacquelyn Desch (Delaware), Emily Minick (Alaska), Gregory Goodman (Missouri), Betty Gatton (New Mexico) and Helen Diamond (New York) who were all randomly selected to win an ADVANCE Readers’ Galley of Kristen Britain’sThe High King’s Tomb” thanks to DAW Books!!!

The High King’s Tomb”, the long-awaited sequel to “Green Rider” and “First Rider’s Call”, is scheduled for a November 6, 2007 release. In support of the book, I’ll be reviewing “The High King’s Tomb” sometime in October and I’m also working on an interview with Ms. Britain so keep your eyes peeled!

Winners of "The Book of Joby" Giveaway

Congratulations to Marta Yera (Florida) and Amelia Province (Virginia) who were randomly selected to win a copy of Mark J. Ferrari’s excellent debut “The Book of Joby” thanks to Tor Books!!! If you’re not familiar with the title yet, the book is out NOW and you can read an interview with Mr. Ferrari HERE and my review of “The Book of JobyHERE. Thanks to everyone who entered and much love & respect :)
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"End of the World Blues" by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Order “End of the World BluesHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

In 2007 M. John Harrison won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for his novel “Nova Swing”, which I just reviewed HERE. Funnily enough, the book I just finished reading, “End of the World Blues” by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, was one of the titles shortlisted for that award. “End of the World Blues” also won the 2006 BSFA Award for Best Novel, was originally released by Gollancz in August 2006, and was my introduction to Jon Courtenay Grimwood, a science fiction writer critically-acclaimed for such works as “Stamping Butterflies” and the Arabesk trilogy.

Alternating between the third-person point-of-views of Kit Nouveau and Lady Neku, “End of the World Blues” chronicles a fascinating tale that is largely a contemporary crime noir thriller, but also part fantastical sci-fi, and part soul-searching. While it takes a little while for things to become clear, we eventually learn that the book is set in the year 2018, that Kit Nouveau is a British military deserter living out his days in Tokyo running a bar with his wife Yoshi, and that Lady Neku is an exile from an apocalyptic far future. Needless to say, the two storylines are quite distinct. Nouveau’s narrative for instance is grounded more in reality and finds Kit returning to England where he must confront his past while dealing with such subplots as murder, affairs, suicide, Yakuza, drug dealers, law enforcement, former girlfriends, and various other difficulties. Lady Neku’s story meanwhile is much stranger and mainly follows the Countess of High Strange as she’s trying to remember the bizarre events that led to her banishment. While the two characters’ lives may seem as far apart as possible, they are actually closely tied together—for Kit, it’s a chance at redemption; for Lady Neku, it’s an opportunity to start anew…

There are so many wonderful things to say about “End of the World Blues” that I’m not sure where to begin. The writing was impressive, both edgy & stylish; the characters multi-dimensional and intriguing; the plotting was tight & entertaining; the SF elements—a sentient castle (Schloss Omga), body snatching, a talking cat, et cetera—were fun; and I loved the whole ambiguity behind Lady Neku who may or may not have been the imagination of a 15-year-old runaway girl. For me though, what really impressed me was the vividness in which Mr. Grimwood brought Tokyo to life. Don’t get me wrong, England and Nawa-no-ukiyo—the novel’s other two settings—were also brilliantly defined, but there was just something about Tokyo and its Japanese culture that took my breath away. As far as shortcomings, there weren’t many but I did have a few issues with the book. One was how the year 2018, aside from a few subtle differences, was basically the same as 2007. Then there was Kit Nouveau. While Mr. Grimwood utilizes the flashback device to great use throughout the book, I wish that we would have learned more about Kit who had a lot of interesting backstory left to tell. Also, there were some inconsistencies regarding Lady Neku who I thought was a bit underutilized towards the end of the book. In fact, the ending as a whole seemed a bit too neat considering everything that came before. Truthfully though, these are just minor problems I had with “End of the World Blues” and are easy to forgive, especially when you look at the book as a whole which is about as good as it gets.

In the award-winning “Nova Swing” it was easy to recognize and respect the talent & creativity of author M. John Harrison, but I can also see how readers might be polarized by the book. With Jon Courtenay Grimwood’sEnd of the World Blues”, not only do you get a novel that is sophisticated, thought-provoking and award-worthy, but you also get a book that is accessible, engaging and highly recommended. In the end, “End of the World Blues” may have been my first Jon Courtenay Grimwood novel but I can guarantee you that it won’t be my last…
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Winner of the Temeraire Giveaway!!!

Congratulations to Raymond Blum (Illinois) who was randomly selected to win a whole SET of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire books including “His Majesty’s Dragon”, “Throne of Jade”, “Black Powder War” and “Empire of Ivory”, all thanks to Del Rey!!!

For those unfortunate enough not to win, remember that the new Temeraire novel “Empire of Ivory” came out today, so go pick up a copy HERE! Also, just a reminder that the remaining live giveaways will end this week and next. Additionally, I will be starting three-four new ones next week :D
Monday, September 24, 2007

"Nova Swing" by M. John Harrison

Order “Nova SwingHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

I readily admit that when it comes to science fiction literature, I’m not much of an expert. Sure, I’ve read such classics as Robert A. Heinlein, Orson Scott Card’sEnder’s Game”, William Gibson’sNeuromancer”, and I’m a fan of cyberpunk, Richard K. Morgan, Neal Asher, space opera, military SF, et cetera, but I’m still naïve in a lot of ways regarding the genre and I’ve only recently been introduced to the likes of Joe Haldeman, Peter F. Hamilton and now, M. John Harrison.

Highly regarded in many circles, Mr. Harrison is a British writer of fantasy (the Viriconium Sequence), science fiction (The Centauri Device, Light), short stories and other fiction (Climbers, The Course of the Heart). The writer’s latest novel “Nova Swing”—originally released in the UK November 2006 via Gollancz—won the 2007 Arthur C. Clarke Award, was a finalist for the 2007 John W. Campbell Award, and is a loose sequel to the James Tiptree Jr. Award-winning “Light” (2002). And it also happens to be my first M. John Harrison experience…

Even though “Nova Swing” is labeled as science fiction and bears the evidence to prove it—set in 2444AD; utilizes such concepts as nanotechnology, interstellar space travel, alien tech, holograms, body modifications, etc.—it doesn’t really fall in any category that I’m familiar with such as space opera, hard SF, or cyberpunk (though there are traces of the last). Instead, there’s a strong noir influence running through the book that is partly due to the story which features a detective and a mystery, but mainly is because of the nostalgic/retro milieu—bars (Black Cat White Cat, Café Surf, the Semiramide Club) are prominent hangout spots; tango, bebop and other vintage styles of music are in vogue; one character drives a 1952 Cadillac roadster; rickshaws are a popular form of travel; and so on. What makes “Nova Swing” even harder to define is that a lot of the futuristic ideas in the book are quite bizarre—the physics-bending Kefahuchi Tract, daughter code, cultivars (a type of sport fighter), Monas (prostitutes), shadow operators, the Uncle Zip franchise, the altered rickshaw girls—and are left to the reader’s imagination rather than explained in detail. In addition, the actual plot – an entradista being investigated by a Site Crime detective who believes the travel agent is smuggling illegal artefacts from the event aureole – is overshadowed by the characters. Thankfully the characters are a pretty interesting bunch. While tour guide Vic Serotonin is arguably the novel’s main protagonist, I actually found him a bit bland compared to the others such as the Albert Einstein look-alike Detective Lens Aschemann who pines for his murdered wife and Edith Bonaventure, daughter of the famous entradista Emil Bonaventure. Also involved in the story are barkeeper Liv Hula, ex-EMC (Earth Military Contracts) Paulie DeRaad who runs illegal activities out of the Semiramide Club, Aschemann’s new nameless partner, Fat Antoyne, Irene the Mona, and Vic’s latest client Elizabeth Kielar. Strangely, the book actually reaches its climax about 200 pages in (out of 252) with a convergence of events that involves Vic, Aschemann, Paulie, the nameless partner and Elizabeth with the remainder of the novel focusing on some of the supporting characters. This direction was a little bit different from what I’m used to, but I actually found the ending of the book to be quite satisfying & uplifting.

If I had read any of Mr. Harrison’s other works, the opportunity for further discussions regarding “Nova Swing” would be endless—How does the book relate to its predecessor “Light”? How does it compare to the author’s other SF books? His fantasy novels? How does “Nova Swing” work as a novel compared to the short story it was based on? Should readers new to the author pick up “Light” before starting “Nova Swing” or should they start out with another title altogether? And so on. Instead, all I can offer readers are my opinions as someone who has only read “Nova Swing” and is not that well-versed in science fiction literature. So from this perspective, what I can say is that the book is quite a bit different from other SF that I’ve read and is probably not something the casual reader would enjoy. I mean, “Nova Swing” doesn’t have balls-to-the-walls action, an epic story, or cool heroes & villains. Instead, the plot is fairly simple but can be confusing to follow; the pacing is not so much slow but methodical; the characters, while wonderfully developed aren’t exactly memorable; and the book as a whole requires a certain commitment from the reader. In fact, I would say that “Nova Swing” serves as some sort of metaphorical examination about loneliness, humanity, hope, or some other such theme. In other words, using movies as an example, don’t expect Star Wars or The Matrix with “Nova Swing”, but something more along the lines of 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Fountain. As for myself, “Nova Swing” wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had with a science fiction novel, but it impressed me enough that I plan to continue reading M. John Harrison, especially his Viriconium novels, and I can easily see why the book is an award-winner. Fans of accomplished prose, a surreal imagination, and storytelling that makes you think will definitely want to pick up M. John Harrison’sNova Swing”…

FYI: The American cover featuring the cat makes a nice companion piece to the cover for “Light”, but personally I like the UK version better, which seems to capture the ambiance of the story more accurately…
Friday, September 21, 2007

"The Electric Church" by Jeff Somers

Order “The Electric ChurchHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE
Read Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist’s INTERVIEW With Jeff Somers

While Brian Ruckley’sWinterbirth” and Karen Miller’sThe Innocent Mage” handled the fantasy side of things, and Lilith Saintcrow’s Dante Valentine series the urban fantasy crowd, Jeff Somers’The Electric Church” is representing the science fiction portion of Orbit Book’s US launch. For Mr. Somers, American author of “Lifers” (2001), “The Freaks Are Winning” (2002) & various short fiction, and creator of The Inner Swine e-zine, “The Electric Church” is the writer’s graduation to the next level…

If you’re a fan of cyberpunk and futuristic noir, then “The Electric Church” will be right up your alley. If you’re not sure what cyberpunk or futuristic noir is, think of a hard-boiled crime/mystery thriller crossed with science fiction elements. For further references, check out Blade Runner (based on a Philip K. Dick novel), Ghost in the Shell, Akira, William Gibson’sNeuromancer”, Richard K. Morgan’sAltered Carbon”, Warren Hammond’skop”, et cetera. In the case of “The Electric Church”, Mr. Somers utilizes a number of familiar cyberpunk/noir-esque ideas such as the gritty first-person point-of-view, an apocalyptic dystopian near-future setting, unflinching language/violence, corrupt law enforcement, cyborgs, artificial intelligences, telepathy and so on. Of course “The Electric Church” also has its distinctions. Instead of a cop or private eye as the main character, there’s anti-hero Avery Cates, a Gunner or assassin-for-hire who happens to be more trustworthy & honorable than the majority of lowlifes that inhabit his world. Then there’s the whole concept of the Electric Church which is a religion where individuals give up their bodies in favor of immortality—the more time to seek salvation, the better.

Regarding the plot, Avery is placed in a bad-to-worse situation that involves Richard Marin the director of SSF’s (System Security Force) Internal Affairs, the cybernetic Monks, the founder of the Electric Church Dennis Squalor, a psychotic SSF officer (Barnaby Dawson) who becomes even more of a threat as the book progresses, and many other complications, all of which are intent on making Cates’ life a living hell. Not everyone is out to get the Gunner though as he does have a few allies in informational guru Pickering, a psionic called Gatz, the techie Kieth, the twins Milton Tanner and someone who or may not be the legendary Gunner Cainnic Orel, but can Avery Cates trust any of them? As with any noir-influenced story, there’s a lot more than meets the eye, so expect a few startling revelations about the Electric Church, SSF, etc. Also, just a warning, but “The Electric Church” is part of a series starring Avery Cates. While “The Electric Church” does a good job of resolving all of the book’s major questions, it’s also setting things up for the sequel. Fortunately, if anything, “The Digital Plague” (TBA 2008) is poised to be even darker, more intense and better than the original.

If I wanted to I could nitpick about “The Electric Church’s” less than original backdrop, the lack of worldbuilding & other info-dumping (not counting the excellent Appendix included at the end of the book or the awesome Electric Church website found HERE), the somewhat weak characterization of anyone not named Avery Cates, or how the prose doesn’t have that panache common in a Quentin Tarantino or Charlie Huston tale, but that would just be mean of me ;) The fact is, Jeff Somers’The Electric Church” is not the best cyberpunk/futuristic noir novel I’ve ever read, but it’s still a lot of damn fun and highly recommended to anyone who’s a fan of the genre…

FYI: For additional opinions on Jeff Somers’The Electric Church” check out reviews by Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review, Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, Sci Fi Weekly, and SciFiChick.com.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Interview with Frank Beddor

Order “Seeing ReddHERE (US) + HERE (UK)
Watch the “Seeing ReddTrailer HERE

Thanks to Megan from Goldberg McDuffie Communications, Inc. I was offered the opportunity to interview Frank Beddor, creator of The Looking Glass Wars. Since I was a fan of the first book in the trilogy as well as the Hatter M comic book series, and was looking forward to the sequel “Seeing Redd”, how could I refuse? So my sincerest appreciation goes out to Megan for setting up the interview and to Mr. Beddor for taking the time to talk about the trilogy, the LGW movies, the geo-graphic novels, and all of the other wonderful ideas that he has planned for The Looking Glass Wars universe:

Q: So let’s recap. You’ve been a world champion freestyle skier, a stuntman, an actor, a movie producer best known for There’s Something About Mary and now a writer. In your own words, you wanted to become “a creator and not a facilitator”, and then along came the inspiration for The Looking Glass Wars, which you worked on in secret before publishing the first book in the trilogy in 2004 (UK). Since then, you’ve produced a 4-issue limited comic book series starring Hatter M written by you and Liz Cavalier with art by Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Fell); a soundtrack to the first book in the trilogy; an online card game with a print version to come; you’ve completed a script for The Looking Glass Wars movie and are in the middle of finding a director and a cast; and “Seeing Redd”, the second novel in the trilogy, was just released on August 21, 2007. Now, I read that you had always envisioned The Looking Glass Wars as a franchise, so has everything you’ve accomplished so far been according to some master plan and how does it feel to see all of these projects come to life?

Frank: It wasn’t so much of a MASTER plan as a synchronistic series of imaginative impulses. Looking out over the scope of what has been accomplished is alternately exhilarating and daunting. Exhilarating in seeing the work reach readers and daunting in that so much more remains to be done.

Q: Out of all of The Looking Glass Wars-related projects, what has been the most difficult to get off the ground and why? What about the most rewarding?

Frank: Let’s look back on this question from the future since all of the projects are not yet off the ground. Taking a guess I would say it will be the films that take the honor of being most difficult to get off the ground. Most rewarding so far? I love all my children equally but seeing the finished cover art by Vance Kovacs for “Seeing Redd” and the Princess Alyss of Wonderland scrapbook and the comic masterpieces of Ben Templesmith bringing Hatter M to life were peak experiences.

Q: Focusing on the new book, what can readers expect from “Seeing Redd”?

Frank: The dust has barely settled since the Alyssians trounced Queen Redd and she fled through the Heart Crystal to parts unknown. We return to a Wonderland in flux as the young queen Alyss attempts to rule a world she barely knows; a world where everyone is seeing Redd! Has Her Imperial Viciousness returned or it only black imagination?

Readers will also be introduced to Boarderland and its alpha leader, King Arch, an avowed male chauvinist who loathes the idea of Queens ruling Wonderland. Aided by his henchmen, Ripkins and Blister, and the 21 warrior tribes, King Arch lays out his plan to dominate Wonderland like a master chess player. It comes quite naturally to Arch since Boarderland is a land of incessant gamers and gamblers. If you are a fan of anagrams, closely inspect the map included in “Seeing Redd” and see if you can decode the names of each of the 21 tribes. Hint: Each name is an anagram of a card or board game. Good luck!

Q: I didn’t know that about the tribe names. I’ll have to try and solve that ;) So middle volumes are usually considered the hardest to write in a trilogy. Was it that way for you with “Seeing Redd” and how does the book stack up to the other novels in the series, specifically in setting up the concluding volume?

Frank: For me, every book is a struggle but as the story deepens and expands it also generates, so the more material I have the more inspiration it creates to carry me towards the next book.

Q: I’ve heard that “Seeing Redd” is much more violent than its predecessor. Are you worried at all that a darker approach might alienate younger readers, especially since the book is marketed toward a ‘young adult’ audience? (This question was asked before I had read “Seeing Redd”)

Frank: I hadn’t heard that about “Seeing Redd” but I have to say I’m smiling because someone must have been shocked by the flesh-eating zombies. Overall, the violence in “Seeing Redd” is nothing more than kids would see at a PG movie or encounter (if they are at least 5 feet tall) in a spooky fun house at a carnival.

Q: What is your response toward criticisms from Lewis Carroll supporters and similarities between The Looking Glass Wars and the computer game Alice from American McGee?

Frank: Debate is healthy. I welcome all forms of criticism and only ask that they read my books first. As for American McGee – we’ve had lunch and he picked up the check so he must not be too upset.

Q: Who are the new characters you have introduced in "Seeing Redd"?

Frank: New characters in “Seeing Redd” are King Arch and his henchmen Ripkins and Blister who I chatted about in an earlier question. Also, villains introduced in the Hatter M comic series, Baroness Dvonna and Sacrénoir, will make a reappearance to join forces with Redd.

Q: So what’s the progress report with the third volume in the trilogy and can you give us any details?

Frank: Well, right now all I can say is that Spring 2009 is slated as the earliest publishing date. No confirmed title yet but I welcome suggestions. As for sharing details about the story, I’m afraid that’s not possible since I am still in the process of unraveling much of the mystery that surrounds the restoration of Imagination to Wonderland. One vital piece of information that recently came to me revealed that astronomers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center are testing a strangely-shaped mirror that will allow them to explore the Universe using super-energetic X-rays. This, to me, is pivotal and thrilling confirmation that the Looking Glass Wars has opened many minds to the possibility that Wonderland truly does exist. (You can read the full NASA article HERE)

Q: Regarding the film version of The Looking Glass Wars, can you tell us about the script, what kind of director you’re looking for, the cast, special effects, what your overall vision is for the movie, and any updates regarding its development?

Frank: At this point what I think fans may find most interesting about my process with regard to the film is that I am not interested in simply repeating the book that has already been read. Much like my decision to do the Hatter M series as a parallel story to the Looking Glass Wars novel by extending and enhancing the material through his POV I want the film to do the same for fans by revealing more of the world and the characters. To crack LGW open, I intend to start the movie when Alyss is 20-years-old and about to marry Prince Leopold. It’s the day of her wedding and fantasy is about to declare war on reality as the Alyssians arrive in London to rescue her. By introducing new material and points of view and expanding the storyline I want to really utilize the medium of film and all it is capable of delivering.

It’s much more exciting and invigorating for me to create ‘the film’ this way rather than simply ‘adapt’ the book. I have already had fun playing with the visual medium by working with SFX companies to create the card soldiers and then re-purpose the footage as book trailers.

My main focus right now is to meet with directors who are highly visual, creative and willing to follow the glow. As for the screenplays for LGW, Hatter M and Seeing Redd, I am collaborating with some deeply imaginative writers rumored to be from Wonderland whose names will be revealed in the future.

Q: I loved the Hatter M comic book series that you wrote. First off, what kind of experience was it writing a comic book and how different was it from writing a novel or producing a film?

Frank: While novels are a solo trip, comic books, much like film, are a collaborative effort. And I have to say, writing comic books are a lot more fun.

Q: Secondly, congrats on the two 2007 Eisner Award Nominations for Best Limited Series and Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (Ben Templesmith). Even though the series didn’t win, how cool was it to be nominated?

Frank: Thanks! Very exciting to be nominated and to be part of the elite comic book culture that constitutes the Eisner Awards. There is so much history that is honored as part of the Eisner’s that you really feel you are part of something much bigger than just this year’s nominations. Being invited to the awards as a nominee was definitely one of my peak experiences.

Q: Thirdly, for those that might have missed the mini-series, a hardcover edition collecting all four issues comes out September 26, 2007. Can readers look forward to any extra goodies with the hardcover?

Frank: Indeed. Geo-graphic novel volume one will be available on September 26. Readers can look forward to a brilliant new cover art from Ben Templesmith, stellar production values, concept art pages, a cover art gallery and a thorough, behind-the-scenes look at the Hatter M Institute for Paranormal Travel where Hatter’s journey is being tracked and verified even as we speak.

Q: And lastly in this area, you have a few other comic book projects planned, including two more Hatter M ‘Geo-Graphic’ novels and a series starring Queen Redd. What’s the latest on these projects?

Frank: We are currently finishing the scripts for the next 12 issues of the Hatter M series which will in turn becomes Geo-graphic Volumes 2 and 3. I am once again working with Liz Cavalier as co-writer and artist Ben Templesmith in the hope of being invited back to the Eisner’s.

As for Queen Redd’s future in graphics, no definite plans now but if I were to do a ‘comic’ based on Redd I would want to do it in a similar fashion to Hatter M which was created not as a comic book version of the character as readers were introduced to him in LGW, but as a stand alone series that is really an adjunct or extension of the novel. So for Redd, the comic series would possibly be a prequel of the girl who would kill to become Queen or maybe an exploration of Wonderland when she ruled for 13 years where the four suit families were vying for power as they assemble their own armies.

Q: Because of my music background, I loved the idea of having a soundtrack for your book and Hypnogaja was actually a favorite of mine when I wrote for Kings of A&R. What did you think of the end result of the Looking Glass Wars soundtrack? Do you plan or are working on a soundtrack for “Seeing Redd” and if so, could you give us any information?

Frank: Since LGW is a novel set in two dimensions it came to me that for the reader to more fully experience these characters and their world I should somehow extend the mental dimension of the page to the aural dimension to make it more sensory and emotional. Acting on an imaginative impulse I created an ‘aural novel’ by producing a soundtrack much the same as a director would for a film. The most exciting moment for me was when the music came together and the tracks compiled and I slowly realized that because of what the artists had created musically, I began to know the characters, MY characters, on a much deeper level. I was incredibly fortunate to work with Hypnogaja and thrilled with how they and the other artists chose to interpret the themes of the book. I am not planning a soundtrack to accompany “Seeing Redd” but am hoping to produce one for Book 3 and possibly include the CD with the book.

Q: I’ve read that you want to make a rollercoaster based on The Looking Glass Wars, that there’s a videogame in the works, and there’s even been a proposed theatrical musical. What’s the word on these and any other projects that you might be working on in further expanding The Looking Glass Wars franchise?

Frank: All true. Stay tuned.

Q: Obviously The Looking Glass Wars is your baby, but do you happen to be involved in any other projects?

Frank: Oh and what a baby LGW is. It never sleeps, it’s hungry 24/7 and the minute I turn my back it is up to some mischief. LGW has taken just about every moment of my life since I published the first novel and began doing book tours, creating Hatter M and going to comic cons, building and updating the website, not to mention books 2 and 3 etc… and just as with any baby, I cannot imagine my life without it.

But I did take the time to write a story for Hasbro to turn (Monopoly) into Monopoly: the Movie. The project interested me because it had the same requirement of imagining and creating a world, much the same as I did for LGW.

Q: From your experience in the film industry and now publishing, comic books, et cetera, what are your thoughts on the cross-pollination between different mediums (comic books, film/TV, videogames, etc.) today and where the future might lead regarding multi-media properties?

Frank: I think ‘cross-pollination’ allows the creator to envision everything as one big world and create accordingly rather than having splintered, subsidiary development phases. Additionally, the juice from one helps charge the others -- as though each one is pushing, challenging the others to reach greater heights. I believe the process creates healthy competition between mediums.

Q: Your website for The Looking Glass Wars is quite impressive and you do a great job utilizing online tools such as audio samples and book trailers. How much of an impact has the Internet had on your success as a writer and the franchise in general, and how important do you think the Internet will be in the future for publishers/authors, etc?

Frank: The website was created as a visual extension of the book for fans to have a place to visit and spend more time in the world and with the characters they had come to know. With this goal in mind, the website has been a brilliant means of disseminating information and fun. What’s great about the Internet and all it offers is that the huge ‘hardware’ potential pushes and encourages you to create ever more interesting and innovative material. I’m sure every publisher by now knows and appreciates the Internet as an extremely economical and creative mode of reaching audiences. Next up at the LGW website will be the Card Soldier Wars, a 2DMMO game that allows me in an interactive, dynamic way to share further aspects of the LGW story and mythology in a way that no other medium could deliver. We are currently taking applications to Beta test at http://www.cardsoldierwars.com/

Q: In speculative fiction, cover art is a bit of an issue, especially how important it is in selling a book, how fantasy covers are considered generic, the difference between international & stateside covers, et cetera. What do you think about this subject and how do you feel about your covers so far?

Frank: I was lucky because early on I began hiring concept artists to help me ‘visualize’ what I was writing. This hybrid approach introduced me to some extremely talented artists and taught me a lot about the process and how to articulate and share my vision with others. I also was able to develop a strong visual point of view. So unlike most writers, who focus entirely on the text and then must depend on the publishers to choose the art, I had a strong opinion on what I thought the cover should look like. Since the tone of the LGW trilogy is fantasy mixed with a bit of sci-fi it was important that the art reflect this. Because I’ve been lucky and worked with such talented artists my book covers have made the leap to other countries, which is not that common. The cover of the French, German and Spanish editions all used my art.

Q: You’re obviously pretty busy with The Looking Glass Wars, but what other activities or hobbies do you enjoy?

Frank: I have a 2-year-old son, Luc, and am expecting a daughter in the new year so be prepared for even more princess stories in the future.

Q: Wow, congrats!!! What about books? What’s been grabbing your attention lately?

Frank: I just finished reading “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold and am about to begin William Gibson’sSpook Country”.

Q: How about new authors? Any recommendations?

Frank: I highly recommend “The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1” by P.J Haarsma, it’s the first volume in a series of 5 set in the Rings of Orbis universe. Great sci-fi for young readers. Also, Ed Decter’s Outriders series of adventures for young readers.

Q: Well, I believed we’ve covered a lot. Any last words or comments?

Frank: I’ll just add that fans of Alyss and LGW should look for a fascinating volume that will be in stores November 2007 titled Princess Alyss of Wonderland. The book is an amazing collection of the art, journals and letters of the exiled Alyss Heart created during her early years in London. British historian Agnes MacKenzie has done an outstanding job of collecting and narrating the volume and I think curious eyes everywhere will open wide at the outcome.

Thanks for all the great questions.

Official Robert Jordan Press Release From Tor (Released On 9/17/07)

New York, NY: September 17, 2007: Tor novelist Robert Jordan (whose given name was James Oliver Rigney Jr.), the beloved author of the bestselling Wheel of Time® fantasy series, died yesterday after a courageous battle with the rare blood disease amyloidosis.

In an entry posted yesterday on Jordan's blog at www.dragonmount.com, Jordan's cousin Wilson Grooms wrote that he passed away Sunday, September 16th at 2:45 pm and noted that: "He fought a valiant fight against this most horrid disease. In the end, he left peacefully and in no pain," and that "his beloved wife, Harriet, was at this side through the entire fight and to the end."

Tor publisher Tom Doherty said of Jordan: "He was one of the great storytellers of the 20th and early 21st centuries; Jim's Wheel of Time is a towering epic of power and scope, he was a man of courage and heart and vision but for me, first of all, he was my friend of 30 years."

Robert Jordan was born in 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina; he taught himself to read by the time he was four, and was tackling Mark Twain and Jules Verne by the age of five. He began writing in 1977 and went on to write one of the most important and best-selling series in the history of fantasy publishing with over 14 million copies of The Wheel of Time series sold in North America (and over 30 million copies sold worldwide). The last three books in the series were all #1 New York Times bestsellers.

Jordan has often been referred to as Tolkien's heir and in an article about The Wheel of Time series, The New York Times lauded Jordan for his extraordinary story-telling ability: "the books' battle scenes have the breathless urgency of firsthand experience, and the ambiguities in these novels--the evil laced into the forces of good, the dangers latent in any promised salvation, the sense of the unavoidable onslaught of unpredictable events--bear the marks of American national experience during the last three decades, just as the experience of the First World War and its aftermath gave its imprint to Tolkien's work."

Jordan was a graduate of The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, with a degree in physics. He served two tours in Vietnam with the U.S. Army; among his decorations were the Distinguished Flying Cross with bronze oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star with "V" and bronze oak leaf cluster, and two Vietnamese Gallantry Crosses with palm. A history buff, he also wrote dance and theater criticism and enjoyed the outdoor sports of hunting, fishing, and sailing, and the indoor sports of poker, chess, pool, and pipe collecting. Jordan also authored the Michael Fallon historical romance trilogy under the nom de plume Reagan O'Neal and seven Conan novels, from Conan the Invincible (1982) through Conan the Victorious (1984).

Jordan had a close relationship with his numerous fan websites, including www.dragonmount.com, on which he hosted his blog, and other sites including: http://www.encyclopaedia-wot.org/, http://www.tarvalon.net/news.asp, http://www.theoryland.com/, http://www.ageoflegends.net/WoTtrack/, and http://www.wotmania.com/.

The sites participated in a massive Internet hunt in 2005 to promote the publication of Jordan's last hardcover novel, Knife of Dreams, and again recently in a calendar art competition, for which Jordan had just chosen the winners last week. There were also numerous fan stories about relationships that had bloomed because of a common love of The Wheel of Time series. Tor's website has a snapshot of these from a few years ago at http://www.tor.com/jordan/romances.html

News of Jordan's death quickly spread across the fan sites yesterday and today with fans writing in from around the world to express their grief and best wishes for his family. Jordan had an incredibly close knit group of fans; an article published on Forbes.com summed it up best in describing fans' support of Jordan during his illness: "There are readers, and then there are fans. Readers offer condolences when a favorite author falls ill. Fans offer bone marrow."

With the popular refrain from The Wheel of Time series, where Jordan himself was often affectionately known as the Dragon, Tor says goodbye to a giant in the field of writing: "The Wheel of Time turns and ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time?"

Robert Jordan is survived by his wife, Harriet Popham Rigney; one son: William Popham McDougal of Houstonic, Massachusetts; one brother: Reynolds W. Rigney of New Orleans, LA; his first cousin: Wilson Watson Grooms, Jr. of Charlotte, NC and numerous nieces and nephews, including James Oliver Rigney III of New Orleans, LA. He is predeceased by his brother Theodore Smith Rigney.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the name of James Rigney to:

Mayo Clinic Department of Hematology
c/o Amyloidosis Research
200 First Street SW
Rochester, MN 55905

"Seeing Redd" by Frank Beddor

Order “Seeing ReddHERE (US) + HERE (UK)

For me, “Alice In Wonderland” is one of those unforgettable tales that has been imprinted onto my imagination for as long as I can remember, alongside such classics as The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars, and remains one of the most beloved stories of our time. So when I heard about Frank Beddor’sThe Looking Glass Wars”, which supposedly told the true story of Alice Liddell and a Wonderland that was real, I was definitely intrigued and picked up a copy of the book when it was finally released here in the states two years after its UK debut (2004). Even though the book was somewhat aimed toward a younger audience and was a little rough around the edges writing-wise, I enjoyed “The Looking Glass Wars” enough to read the excellent Hatter M comic book series and have been looking forward to the second volume in the trilogy, “Seeing Redd”.

In “The Looking Glass Wars”, readers are introduced to a world quite different from the one depicted in Lewis Carroll’s books. Earth and Wonderland are parallel universes connected by portals (The Pool of Tears). Wonderland itself is a fantastical landscape where magic (White Imagination / Black Imagination) and advanced technology exist side-by-side. Alice Liddell is actually Alyss Heart, future queen of Wonderland whose empire was usurped by her evil aunt Redd. The Hatter is really Hatter Madigan, the queen’s personal bodyguard and expert fighter; the White Rabbit is Bibwit Harte, the Heart family’s tutor; the Cheshire Cat is the Cat, Redd’s deadly assassin; Tweedledee & Tweedledum are represented as General Doppelgänger who can split his body into two personas Doppel & Gänger; the caterpillars are actually oracles; and Reverend Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll, is the writer who twisted Alyss’ real-life confessions into the fairy tale that became known as “Alice In Wonderland”. There are countless other ‘departures’ from the story readers know, but it’s best if you discover those on your own as Mr. Beddor’s vivid imagination is one of the major highlights of the series.

As far as the actual plot in “The Looking Glass Wars”, I won’t get into any specifics, but basically Alyss finds her way back to Wonderland, joins a group of rebels, and somehow defeats Redd. Needless to say, it’s probably in your best interest to read “The Looking Glass Wars” before starting on “Seeing Redd”, which takes place not long after the first book. In “Seeing Redd”, Alyss is dealing with the difficulties of being queen, which not only includes rebuilding her empire after the devastation wrought by Redd’s reign, but also facing new threats from such enemies as the chauvinistic King Arch of Boarderland, and dealing with her personal feelings for the Captain of the Palace Guard, Dodge Anders. Subplots include Arch’s devious plan for taking over Wondertropolis which involves Hatter Madigan and a weapon of mass destruction (WILMA), Homburg Molly (Alyss’ personal bodyguard) discovering who her parents are; Dodge Anders whose duties are threatened by his need for vengeance against the Cat, and of course Redd who may not be so defeated after all…

If you enjoyed “The Looking Glass Wars” I daresay you’re going to like “Seeing Redd” even more, which I think is better than the first book in many areas. The writing for one is tighter and more accomplished; because a lot of setup was taken care of in “The Looking Glass Wars” the pacing is much faster and there’s more heart-pounding action; the fabulous cast of characters return along with some cool new faces such as Arch’s bodyguards Ripkins & Blister, an evil version of Bibwit Harte (Vollrath), and such creative villains as Master Sacrénoir, Siren Hecht, et cetera; and Mr. Beddor’s imagination is wilder than ever. As far as the story, it’s a little bit darker, but still appropriate for PG audiences while also appealing to mature readers, and the ending comes to a nice stopping point even though it’s the middle volume in the series. In short, everything that made “The Looking Glass Wars” such a fun read is multiplied and improved upon in “Seeing Redd” and my only complaint is that I have to wait now for the final book in the trilogy...
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Del Rey To Publish Novel Based on NBC's Hit TV Show "Heroes" (Official Press Release)

NEW YORK, NY - September 18, 2007: Del Rey, an imprint of Ballantine Books at the Random House Publishing Group, announced plans to publish a novel based on NBC's Emmy® and Golden Globe® nominated Heroes. HEROES: SAVING CHARLIE (Del Rey Hardcover; $23.95; on sale December 26, 2007) by Aury Wallington will be an original novel based on the characters Hiro Nakamura (Emmy and Golden Globe Award-nominated Masi Oka) and Charlie (Jayma Mays), created by executive producer/creator Tim Kring. It is developed through a licensing agreement with Universal Studios Consumer Products Group.

"One of the more memorable relationships in Season One was Hiro's first love, the waitress Charlie. We were as smitten as Hiro by that story and seized the chance to tell the full adventure of Hiro's six months in the past. Aury Wallington was hand picked by the writers of the show for her brilliant voice for these characters. The novel is a welcome addition to the Heroes family," said Tim Kring, creator-executive producer, "Heroes."

The novel--written with the full cooperation and consultation of the show's creators--will tell the story of Japanese office worker Hiro, who, through the use of his ability to pierce the space-time continuum and manipulate time, bravely catapults himself into the past to save Charlie, a small-town Texas waitress with an extraordinary memory, from being brutally murdered by super-powered serial killer Sylar (Zachary Quinto). Fans of the television series were given only a brief glimpse into Hiro and Charlie's relationship as it grew into love over six time-changing months, but their history is told here with the depth and insight that only a novel will allow.

Season 2 of Heroes launches September 24, 2007 on NBC.

ABOUT THE SHOW: From creator/writer Tim Kring (NBC's "Crossing Jordan") comes the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated "Heroes," an epic drama that chronicles the lives of ordinary people who discover they possess extraordinary abilities. In its first season, "Heroes" has been honored with a People's Choice Award, an AFI Award, a Multicultural Prism Award and this year's TV Land Future Classic Award, as well as nominations at the Golden Globe Awards, NAACP Image Awards, WGA Awards and Satellite Awards.

The cast includes a genetics professor (Sendhil Ramamurthy, Blind Guy Driving) in India who is led by his father's disappearance to uncover a secret theory - that there are people with super powers living among us. Also featured are a young dreamer (Milo Ventimiglia, Gilmore Girls) who tries to convince his politician brother (Adrian Pasdar, Judging Amy) that he can fly. A high school cheerleader (Hayden Panettiere, Ice Princess) learns that she is totally indestructible while trying to relate to her father (Jack Coleman, Dynasty) who has a keen interest in people with special abilities. A Las Vegas single mother (Ali Larter, Final Destination) struggles to make ends meet to support her young son (Noah Gray-Cabey, My Wife & Kids) and discovers that her mirror image has a secret. In addition, a fugitive from justice (Leonard Roberts, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) continues to baffle authorities. A gifted artist (Santiago Cabrera, Empire), whose drug addiction is destroying his life and relationship with his girlfriend (Tawny Cypress, Third Watch), and whose paintings, done specifically for the show by comic book artist Tim Sale, open a visual gateway to a possible dark future. A down-on-his-luck Los Angeles beat cop (Greg Grunberg, Alias) can hear people's thoughts, which puts him on the trail of an elusive serial killer. In Japan, a young man (Masi Oka, NBC's Scrubs) develops a way to stop time through sheer will power.

Joining Kring as executive producer are Dennis Hammer (NBC's Crossing Jordan), Allan Arkush (NBC's Crossing Jordan) and Greg Beeman (Smallville). The drama is produced by Universal Media Studios in association with Tailwind Productions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Aury Wallington has written for the television shows Sex and the City and Veronica Mars. She is the author of the novel Pop!, which was named one of the New York Public Library's "Books for the Teen Age." Aury lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Tuesday.
Monday, September 17, 2007

Rest In Peace, Robert Jordan (1948-2007)

Lloyd Alexander and now Robert Jordan. It’s been a sad year for fantasy lovers who have lost two of the genre’s most popular and influential writers. All I can say is that I will miss Mr. Jordan’s presence immensely and that I will always treasure his contribution to the genre I love. You will not be forgotten…

For more information, you can read the original announcement HERE. Tor/Forge has also released a press release HERE, which includes a link HERE to a piece printed by Robert Jordan's local newspaper The Post and Courier.

"Worldbinder" by David Farland

Order “WorldbinderHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

Way back in 1998 I was sent David Farland’sThe Sum of All Men” because I forgot to check ‘no’ on one of those mailings sent out by the Science Fiction Book Club. Since I had the book in hand, I figured what the heck and proceeded to read the novel. While I wasn’t completely blown away by the book, it showed enough potential, especially the whole concept of Runelords—a magic system where individuals are granted endowments of certain attributes such as strength, speed, eyesight, hearing, stamina, beauty, et cetera—that I picked up the next two volumes (“Brotherhood of the Wolf”, “Wizardborn”) in the series, which to this day I feel are the best in the bunch. With 2003’s “The Lair of BonesMr. Farland delivered what I thought was a satisfactory, but somewhat anticlimactic ending to the series. Then, in last year’s “Sons of the Oak”, Mr. Farland returned to the Runelords universe, starting a brand new story arc that focused on Gaborn Val Orden's sons Fallion & Jaz and the latest threat against their world. “Worldbinder” continues that tale…

Since “Worldbinder” features characters—Fallion, Jaz, Rhianna, Talon—and plotlines from “Sons of the Oak”, it’s recommended that readers check out that book first before embarking on its sequel. As far as the rest of the Runelords saga, it’s not essential to have read the first four volumes, but if you don’t you will miss out on a lot of lore, worldbuilding and other minutia that would make the reading experience more fulfilling. Back to “Worldbinder”, the novel finds Fallion and company in the midst of their quest to seek out and heal the Seal of the Inferno, thus binding “the shattered remains of the One True World into a single whole.” Their journey inevitably leads them back to the besieged Castle Coorm and a trap that merges Fallion’s world with one of the countless ‘shadow’ worlds—a dangerous land inhabited by giants, wyrmlings, loci, graak, the vampire-like Knights Eternal, Death Lords and the Queen of the Loci herself. From there, the book, as in previous volumes, follows multiple point-of-views including established characters (Fallion, Rhianna), new faces (Alun, Warlord Madoc), villains (Vulgnash) and a couple of surprises one of which is the legendary Daylan Hammer. Of the story itself, it’s not very complicated. Expect lots of fantastical sword-and-sorcery action as the humans, both the giants and the ‘little people”, square off against the wyrmlings and other minions of evil, while the Queen of the Loci has sent hunters to capture Fallion alive for her own malevolent schemes.

As a whole, “Worldbinder” was a difficult novel for me to review. Even though David Farland isn’t in the same league as George R. R. Martin, Robert Jordan or Steven Erikson, I’ve really enjoyed his Runelords saga and was pretty excited for the new series when it was first announced. Sadly, “Sons of the Oak” was a bit of a disappointment as it lacked the depth of previous volumes and seemed geared more towards a younger audience. (I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised since David Farland is actually a pseudonym for Dave Wolverton, whose bibliography includes youth-oriented tie-in books to such movie franchises as Star Wars and The Mummy). With “Worldbinder” I was hoping for the best, but like its predecessor the book is plagued by such problems as lackluster writing, shallow to zero characterization and little worldbuilding. Admittedly, David Farland has never been the world’s greatest writer, but it’s usually easy to overlook such shortcomings when the action, magic system, and story were as riveting as they were in the first four books of the series. In “Worldbinder” though, the pace is so kinetic, the development of characters, plot and the world so thin, that the flaws become quite glaring. What makes “Worldbinder” even more disappointing is that it had the potential to be something special. The concept of merging two shadow worlds into one was a wonderful idea and provided a number of intriguing complications such as shadow selves, a whole new world for readers to discover, an untapped source of blood metal which was becoming rare on Fallion’s world, and new types of rune endowments used by the enemy. At 336 pages however, there’s just not much room to fit in such an epic story as “Worldbinder”, and the result is a tale that feels rushed and incomplete. In fact, I really think that 100-150 pages of additional development would have greatly benefited the book especially in fleshing out the plot, better defining the new world that was created, making the characters more sympathetic—a couple of major deaths occur in “Worldbinder” that you should care about but don’t—, and further developing a couple of subplots (Warlord Madoc overthrowing the High King, Alun betraying what is right for selfishness, a love triangle between Fallion, Rhianna & a new rival) that don’t really go anywhere.

In the end, I really wanted to like “Worldbinder” and while the book showed flashes of what made the original Runelords series so enjoyable, compared to previous installments, Mr. Farland’s latest falls well short of its mark. That said I strongly believe that if I was back in middle school I would really enjoy this book. After all, it reads very quickly, is full of nonstop action, has both valiant heroes & ruthless villains, terrifying but cool monsters, and lots more to make a young fantasy lover happy. For the more seasoned fantasy reader though, you’ll probably want to pass on “Worldbinder” unless you’re a diehard David Farland admirer. I could also see fans of Terry Brooks, David Drake and James Clemens enjoying the book, but for the most part, “Worldbinder” is recommended for the younger generation…

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