Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files are some of the fastest-paced books I’ve read. Set in modern-day Chicago, the intensity of these fantasy-noir novels ramps up almost immediately and barely leaves you time to catch your breath as the story hurtles forward. Sometimes they’re a little too fast; I often feel a bit exhausted after finishing one. So when I picked up The Aeronaut’s Windlass, the first book in his new Cinder Spires series, I wondered if that frenetic speed would carry over.
Here's the text of an article Janice Hardy was kind enough to let me post on her excellent Fiction University site.
I’ve never really had long-term writer’s block. But short-term? Far too often. The daily race to pen at least a page or two is almost always littered with obstacles, some of which trip me up on a regular basis.
Here’s how I get over them.
A lot of times I’m stuck because my characters are acting against type, and I just haven’t realized it yet. O...
Would I have liked Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass as a child? Probably. I certainly did as an adult.
This young-adult, modern fantasy—the first in Pullman’s His Dark Materials series—stars a scrappy girl named Lyra who grew up as an orphan looked after by the staff of a fictional college in Oxford, England. But when her friend Roger is kidnapped by a mysterious group known as the Gobblers, she sets out to save him, a journey that takes her to the Arctic and beyond.
I liked Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay’s take on 8th Century China, but it might be the first historical fantasy I’ve read that felt too realistic.
The magic in Under Heaven (shamans, ghosts, etc.) only exists on the margins, yet that isn’t what threw me off. And I respect how much research Kay clearly did on the Tang Dynasty, even though he occasionally delivers his version of the details as bald info-dumps. Mostly, I just wish the protagonist’s decisions and actions mattered more.
One of the most interesting things about Marvel's narrative podcast Wolverine: The Long Night is that Wolverine is barely in it.
The story is set in the fictional town of Burns, Alaska, taking place before Logan (aka Wolverine) joins the X-Men but after he's escaped the Weapon X program that lined his bones and retractable claws with adamantium, a nearly unbreakable metal alloy. Instead of following the gruff anti-hero as he struggles to find a new purpose, however, The Long Night is...
The Black Resurrection, the second book in my Red Wraith series, is out today on Amazon! Want a preview? The first chapter is below:
Da looked away as the Imperial Guards mutilated his nearly completed dragon.
He’d had time to finish the body, enhancing its elephantine base by grafting on the necks of a hundred snakes, the bellies of a thousand frogs, and the scales of countless carp. The four legs were done too, ending in tiger paws tipped with hawk talons. And the head was perfect,...
Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem is the type of epic science-fiction novel that’s carried more by its science than its fiction. I don’t mean that uncharitably. The fiction in The Three-Body Problem is interesting—I just found it hard to get into.
The story starts during the mass madness of China’s Cultural Revolution. We see one faction of Red Guards using the young soldier of another faction for target practice, and a professor being sentenced to die because he taught “reactionary”...
Writing update: The Black Resurrection, the second novel in my Red Wraith series, will be available July 15 on Amazon! It's a standalone sequel, so you don't need to have read the previous book or the prequel novellas. (But if you'd like to, my suggested reading order is here.)
Isaura’s son has been kidnapped.
Worse, his kidnappers are taking him to Huancavelica, a Peruvian mercury mine so dangerous it’s known as the “Mine of Death.”
Her only ally is Amadi, a runaway slave haunted b...
Fool’s Fate, the final book in Robin Hobb’s Tawny ManTrilogy, ends by being kinder to its protagonist than I expected.
The preceding Farseer Trilogy battered Fitz in body and spirit, scarring him with everything from a grievous arrow wound to losing his first love. Fool’s Errand, the first book in the Tawny Man Trilogy, wasn’t much easier on him when it deprived him of a beloved companion. And The Golden Fool saw him take another nearly fatal injury.
After finishing Robin Hobb’s Golden Fool, my general reaction was that, in the best way possible, I’d been here before.
The second book in Hobb’s Tawny Man trilogy bears more than a passing resemblance to Royal Assassin, the second book in her Farseer trilogy. In each, Fitz juggles multiple responsibilities while trying to face down a variety of potential threats. (In Golden Fool, the threats take the form of Piebald radicals from the previous book, Outislanders who preyed upon the Si...