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'Dragonriders of Pern' Optioned by Warner Bros.

With fantasy hits like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit taking the movie world by storm over the last decade plus, and the Game of Thrones juggernaut on HBO, it's probably no surprise to many to see Anne McCaffrey's 'Dragonriders of Pern' series optioned.  
The same team that oversaw those same movies we just listed will be overseeing this project as well: Drew Crevello and Juli Spiro, but no producer has been selected yet.  Although there will be a lot more story to work with for Pern than all the others we listed combined, with 22 books having been published since the first in 1968.


SOURCE: Deadline

'Game of Thrones' Targeted for "Seven or Eight Seasons"


Even though the Game of Thrones HBO hit is only half way through book three of the not yet finished seven book A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, don't expect to see future books split into multiple parts. Showrunners David Benioff and David Weiss have told Vanity Fair the current plan is to wrap up the show after “seven or eight” seasons.

Author George R.R. Martin has begun to worry more and more that the show might catch up to his slowly progressing prose. Benioff and Weiss have stated before that they have been told how some of the story wraps up, but last year they were able to sit down with Martin and get more details on how the author plans to end the saga in case show production passes him up.

 Last year we went out to Santa Fe for a week to sit down with him [Martin] and just talk through where things are going, because we don’t know if we are going to catch up and where exactly that would be. If you know the ending, then you can lay the groundwork for it. And so we want to know how everything ends. We want to be able to set things up. So we just sat down with him and literally went through every character.

Season Four of the show will (mostly) represent the second half of book three, but may push into book four for some of the storylines. In Martin's series, books four and five actually take place parallel to each other with different groups of characters in each (again - mostly) and began to expand on his already huge cast. Benioff and Weiss may choose to trim in this area (in both characters and story), an area even Martin had originally planned to skip over entirely, leaving seasons five and perhaps six to cover it. That would leave season six/seven to cover book six and seven/eight for book seven. As this is just my own speculation, once they get into plotting out those two parallel storylines for seasons five and six of the show, we'll probably know more.
As for Martin himself, he has long acknowledged everyone's, including his own, worry about the show catching up to him.

 I am aware of the TV series moving along behind me like a giant locomotive, and I know I need to lay the track more quickly, perhaps, because the locomotive is soon going to be bearing down on me. The last thing I want is for the TV series to catch up with me. I’ve got a considerable head start, but production is moving faster than I can write. I’m hoping that we’ll finish the story at about the same time…we’ll see.

The five year wait between the last couple novels in the series is what many can't help but think of when they worry about Martin's progress. At least fans of the series, whether of the books or show, will know how the story unfolds within the next four to five years - one way or another.

Preview of a Preview Chapter of 'The Winds of Winter'


Entertainment Weekly has announced that next month Random House will be releasing another chapter from George R.R. Martin's The Winds of Winter.  The chapter will come as part of an update to their A World of Ice and Fire App and will be the first Tyrion chapter from the upcoming novel.

TYRION

Somewhere off in the far distance, a dying man was screaming for his mother. “To horse!” a man was yelling in Ghiscari, in the next camp to the north of the Second Sons. “To horse! To horse!” High and shrill, his voice carried a long way in the morning air, far beyond his own encampment. Tyrion knew just enough Ghiscari to understand the words, but the fear in his voice would have been plain in any tongue. I know how he feels.

Unfortunately, that is all there is of the preview, so you'll have to wait until next month for more... unless you want to read the summary that was leaked a while ago from a public reading Martin did of the chapter.
No word yet on the target date for release of The Winds of Winter.  Hopefully Martin does plan to dish the story out as two chapters a year.



REVIEW: 'Blood Song' by Anthony Ryan



The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm.

Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order. The Brothers of the Sixth Order are devoted to battle, and Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate, and dangerous life of a Warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the unified realm. Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright and dropped at the doorstep of the Sixth Order like a foundling knows no bounds. He cherishes the memory of his mother, and what he will come to learn of her at the Order will confound him. His father, too, has motives that Vaelin will come to understand. But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the realm, but the world. 






REVIEW:

This was a good book.  I'm a bit sad that I missed out on it when it first came out last year, but happier that I'm closer to volume two coming now that I've read the last page.

As you can see from the blurb above, the book focuses on one character, Vaelin Al Sorna, and tells the story from his point of view as he grows up in an organization of warriors that serve the "faith" of their realm.  Because he is the son of a great commander for the King, he is drawn into his plots and ends up fighting as much for the kingdom as he does for his faith.  Broken up into several parts, the story takes small jumps as Vaelin grows up and serves his king, focusing on key points in his life without taking too large of a leap in time to leave the reader feeling as if they missed something.

The world is well described considering the focus is kept around Vaelin and what he encounters.  Fortunately for the reader he tends to get around quite a bit.  The Faith that he serves plays an integral part of the story, but stays somewhat mysterious deeper into the organization throughout much of the book.  Vaelin often questions the purpose of their order and the disputes they have with other faiths, but never as much as he disputes the actions of their own manipulative King.  The Faith also plays a role in anchoring magic in the world, often called the "dark" by Vaelin's society.  It isn't widely practiced.  Many simply possess abilities, like Vaelin's, and keep them hidden or go on the run from those that enforce the Faith.

The book may remind some of The Name of the Wind because of the nature of its opening.  It begins, told in first person, as a sage meets with Vaelin on the way to a duel he is expected to die in.  The sage is from a culture that has been at war with Vaelin's people and hate him for what he has done, but he cannot help but want to hear his story, how he became the man he is and what brought his people to their shores with war.  The story then changes to third person, with Vaelin as the focus, beginning as he is a young boy dropped off to train at the Sixth Order of the Faith.

I felt the comparisons ended there however.  The pacing is a bit higher, taking us through his life somewhat more quickly and the story a bit darker.  The fairy-tale aspect that lives in The Name of the Wind and its sequel is non-existent here, instead offering the grittier realism that has become more popular in fantasy.  The story-teller aspect also wraps up in this novel, offering the reader a bit more resolution, but with still much more for Vaelin to do in the world.  This novel was very much the beginning of his story with the "dark" and not a continuing chronicle of a life already lived.



BOTTOM LINE:

Comparisons to The Name of the Wind are well deserved -- but in my opinion more due to quality than style -- readers who enjoyed Rothfuss' work should definitely give Blood Song a try.  Though, I believe fans of Martin and Abercrombie would enjoy Anthony Ryan's work here as well.  Whichever direction you approach it from, I highly recommend this novel.  Blood Song's pacing and characterization are outstanding, the story has depth past the basic plot of this first volume, and it offers a grand story without the need to sift through dozens of points-of-view.



REVIEW: 'Red Rising' by Pierce Brown



Darrow is a miner and a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he digs all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of the planet livable for future generations. Darrow has never seen the sky.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better future for his children.
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow and Reds like him are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow joins a resistance group in order to infiltrate the ruling class and destroy society from within. He will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.



REVIEW:

Some readers will peg Red Rising as a Hunger Games clone, and it has certainly put itself in that category.  Not only in taking on a dystopian future with teen protaganists, but in quality as well.  My fourteen year old son actually read this before I did and quite enjoyed it.  As he can be fairly picky with his book choices, I was surprised given that I offered him the book to read without any preface and he tore through it in a couple days.  Red Rising is much more than a clone, however, forging its own path and creating an interesting society and intricate characters.

Set in the future, mankind has conquered the stars and society.  The strongest have been placed at the top of civilization in a feudal society, the peoples divided into color labels.  The rulers are Golds, living in luxury and playing the "game of thrones."  At the bottom of the ladder are Reds, a serf-like class whose task it is to serve their betters.  A variety of colors range in between, every color having it's own physical traits, strengths, and weaknesses.

On Mars, the Reds work to build a better future for their people, but little do they know their whole way of life is a lie.   The story focuses on Darrow, a Red and a bit of an 'everyman.'  He takes on the typical traits of a Red, loyal to his family and clan, a good worker, clever.  When the status quo is shaken up by the Golds and he sees the lie they are living in, Darrow breaks out of his mold (quite literally) and moves to make a real change for the future of their society by taking on the Golds and infiltrating their society. 
Red Rising doesn't take the easy path of having Darrow simply go through the motions of accomplishing his goals.  It examines society and the individuals created in it and looks at the bigger picture in creating a rebellion.  The novel also takes the path that gives it the Hunger Games clone label, more than just the story's dystopian future setting, Darrow and the other boys and girls around him take part in (the school he is sent to) "The Institute's" own competition, pitting the various Gold tribes against each other to see who rises to the top.  Though a bit more gritty than you'll see in Hunger Games, perhaps with a bit of Lord of the Flies mixed in, it keeps the pace moving, the drama high, and gives Darrow the chance to see how the Golds aren't so different from his own people. 

Though the author certainly takes on a lot, sometimes with the various houses becoming confusing and not fleshed out as much as they could be, Red Rising is only the first in a trilogy and has plenty of time to explore more of the created world.


BOTTOM LINE:

Probably one of the best young adult books to come out in the last couple years and as I said earlier, a favorite of my son's.  Anyone that has enjoyed reads like Hunger Games, Divergent, Ender's Game, and similar young adult fair will really enjoy this.  Only the first in a trilogy, author Pierce Brown may be the next big name in this genre by the time the saga wraps.

Red Rising hits shelves January 28th, 2014.


Cover Art and Details for Brian McClellan's Powder Mage Novella 'Forsworn'


When we told you about the delay on Brian McClellan's The Crimson Campaign, the author told fans there would be some Powder Mage novella news coming to tide them over while they waited.  Well, now that news is here: Forsworn will be out on January 26th for Kindle, Nook and Kobo.

Erika ja Leora is a powder mage in northern Kez, a place where that particular sorcery is punishable by death. She is only protected by her family name and her position as heir to a duchy.

When she decides to help a young commoner—a powder mage marked for death, fugitive from the law—she puts her life and family reputation at risk and sets off to deliver her new ward to the safety of Adro while playing cat and mouse with the king’s own mage hunters and their captain, Duke Nikslaus.

The author notes, for reference that "The novella takes place 35 years before Promise of Blood [our review here]... Hope’s End takes place about 18 years before PoB and The Girl of Hrusch Avenue is about 10 years before [Promise of Blood]."  The next novel in the Powder Mage series: The Crimson Campaign hits shelves May 6th, 2014.  If you didn't know about the previous two novella's set in the same world, now you'll have three short stories to tide you over until May.


Gillian Anderson To Write Sci-Fi Novel Series


X-Files fans pay attention to this one.  Gillian Anderson (Agent Scully) has been signed by Simon & Schuster with co-writer Jeff Rovin for their EarthEnd Saga sci-fi series.  The first novel, A Vision of Fire, follows a psychiatrist treating traumatized children of war and natural disasters and comes across a "uniquely troubled" girl.

Over the course of spending time and helping her and investigating the origins of the girl's trauma, [the psychiatrist] begins to realize that the girl's behavior is tied to much greater forces in the universe, and as the story unfolds, she must prevent destruction on a grand scale.

Anderson feels that after years "of living in a semi-science-fictional universe" she feels she now has "an ingrained knowledge and rhythm for it".

I enjoy writing, but don't usually allow myself the time, and I don't think I'd ever think to write something in this genre without the prodding of someone like Jeff. But I realized I had ideas hidden within me for a series and a lead character, in this case, a heroine.  It was very clear to me that I didn't want to enter into the horror realm. That doesn't interest me. I also wanted a very strong female character, around my age. I would want to read something like that and I think other women would like to read … It's been a fantastic experience.

A Vision of Fire is due to hit shelves this October as part of Simon & Schuster's new imprint to honor Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: Simon451.

SOURCE: Entertainment Weekly

REVIEW: 'The Night Angel' Trilogy by Brent Weeks



The perfect killer has no friends. Only targets.

For Durzo Blint, assassination is an art. And he is the city’s most accomplished artist, his talents required from alleyway to courtly boudoir.

For Azoth, survival is precarious. Something you never take for granted. As a guild rat, he’s grown up in the slums, and learned the hard way to judge people quickly — and to take risks. Risks like apprenticing himself to Durzo Blint.

But to be accepted, Azoth must turn his back on his old life and embrace a new identity and name. As Kylar Stern, he must learn to navigate the assassins’ world of dangerous politics and strange magics — and cultivate a flair for death.







REVIEW:

Although I had read Brent Weeks' Night Angel trilogy quite a while ago, a series I picked up  "judging a book by its cover" when I wanted to find a good action adventure story one day and the very Assassin's Creed-like covers and blurb sold me.  It quickly made me a Brent Weeks fan and now that the trilogy is available in an omnibus collection of one big novel, I thought it time for a re-read and a review since Reading Realms didn't exist back then.  As always, I will attempt to be as spoiler-free as possible, so plot details will be vague.

The first book, Way of the Shadows, follows a young boy, Azoth, living on the streets and trying to survive a gang-life he doesn't desire.   The way out he charts is to become the apprentice to infamous assassin Durzo Blint.  Even though you know he will succeed and become Durzo's apprentice, Weeks does a good job creating a tense time period of a sad and tortured young life and makes Azoth work for the role he desires.  Once he does, he leaves his old self behind and takes up the name Kylar Stern and begins training to become an assassin, or wetboy as they are called in Weeks' world.  His training consists not only of the skills involved for the wetwork, but learning to use his magical ability, or Talent, and eventually become the Night Angel.

Though the trilogy definitely feels like Kylar's story, Weeks shifts focus throughout the story to a character that is the flip-side of Kylar: Logan Gyre.  Where Kylar comes from the gutters, Logan is of noble birth, where Kylar is fast and wiry, Logan is strong and brutish.  As they mature, their paths cross and they become fast friends.  Logan plays a key role to the overall plot, as he is in line to rule, but at times it feels like not enough time is given to Logan's story and is simply given the parts he has simply to support Kylar's story.

Despite Kylar becoming an assassin, Weeks keeps him somewhat morally centered.  The killer with a heart of gold, so-to-speak.  In book two, Shadow's Edge, Kylar has made the attempt to settle down into a normal life, but it's not something he's content with in his heart, often finding himself out scouring the city for reasons to be the Night Angel again.   Between his own ambitions and events in the city, Kylar isn't allowed to settle down.  As book two wraps, Kylar discovers more about his one-time master Durzo and his own abilities.  By book three, Beyond the Shadows, Kylar is backed into a corner and his direction is essentially laid out for him.  But Weeks does a good job throughout the trilogy of slowly layering on the magic and larger world events to Kylar's point-of-view, to never leave the reader lost.

The world of The Night Angel trilogy feels very fleshed out, even though focus is kept fairly tight on Kylar.  The story is very much an action adventure style fantasy, more than epic fantasy, but Weeks still offers a well developed society of religion, politics, and history.  Talent  (magic) plays an important role in the story and Weeks does an excellent job defining how the Talent works.  By the end, I wanted to know more about the world Kylar lived in, even if Kylar's own story had wrapped up.


BOTTOM LINE:

The Night Angel trilogy is not without its flaws as there are a few cliche characters or secondary characters not fleshed out well, but the focus is clearly on Kylar and Weeks does a great job developing him as a character.  Whether or not you find yourself liking Kylar, will decide whether you do or do not enjoy this story.  Anyone looking for a sword-and-sorcery style adventure, with plenty of action should give it a try.  If you are coming from Brent Weeks' newer Lightbringer work, you may find the focus quite a bit more narrow, but still the same great storytelling talent behind it.




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REVIEW: 'The Black Prism' by Brent Weeks


'Words of Radiance' Gets Updated Cover Art Before Release


Another Words of Radiance post  - Tor has released the updated cover, much improved in my opinion, for the new novel.  The old is pictured above, here is the new version:



Three Chapter Preview of Sanderson's 'Words of Radiance' Released


Tor.com posted a preview today of the prologue and first two chapters for Brandon Sanderson's Words of Radiance.  If you love epic fantasy like Game of Thrones and The Wheel of Time, I would highly recommend picking up the first novel in his new series, Way of Kings, to read before the release of Words.  If you've already read the first, you probably aren't reading this post and are already at Tor checking out the preview.

In The Way of Kings, we were introduced to the remarkable world of Roshar, a land both alien and magical. Roshar is shared by humans and the enigmatic Parshendi, who have been at war with each other for five years. The war has revealed the worst of humanity to Dalinar Kholin, a powerful general, and Kaladin Stormblessed, a troubled slave. But there is more at stake in this conflict than the fate of the peoples involved. As Jasnah Kholin and her ward Shallan Davar discover, their entire world is rushing towards a cataclysm, one that only a long-lost order called the Knights Radiant could possibly prepare them for.

In Words of Radiance these stories will intertwine and develop in thrilling and unexpected directions. The war with the Parshendi will move into a new, dangerous phase, as Dalinar leads the human armies deep into the heart of the Shattered Plains in a bold attempt to finally end it. Shallan is set on finding the legendary and perhaps mythical city of Urithiru, which Jasnah believes holds a secret vital to mankind’s survival on Roshar. Kaladin struggles to wear the mantle of the Windrunners as his old demons resurface. And the threat of the Voidbringers’ return hangs over them all.