Tag Archives: Mark Lawrence

Best Books of 2014

As 2014 draws to a close, it seemed fitting to look back over the past year and share our favourite reads. There are some duplicates, and there are quite a few we didn’t review… but read on, and share your thoughts!

Meagan’s (ARamone):

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, by Randall Munroe

What if

What If? is a good read for scientifically-minded and just plain curious people alike. With often high-end science being explained in a down-to-earth, accessible way, this book is going to make you laugh while also making you think.

Dragons at Crumbling Castle, by Terry Pratchett

Dragons

A collection of Pratchett’s earliest work, written and published in his teenaged years, Dragons at Crumbling Castle gives us a look into the mind of a young but already skilled author. A true delight for all Pratchett fans, and a must-have for fans of his work.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss

slowregr

This book focuses on Auri, one of the most relatable characters in The Kingkiller Chronicles, and takes us through a typical week of hers. Rothfuss’ writing makes her odd logic and justifications seem perfectly normal, making this book a delightful read for any fan of the books.

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Q&A with Mark Lawrence

In which I ask Mark Lawrence, author of the The Broken Empire, and The Red Queen’s War, questions regarding horse-sized mercenary ducks, his writing process, and the future of his writing.

 


 

 

1) Typically, I start off interviews with “Tell us something about yourself that we might not know,” but.. instead, I’m going to ask: “If you were a box of cereal, and a horse-sized mercenary duck wanted to eat you.. How would you convince it not to?”

M: Well I guess the easiest out is to note the word ‘mercenary’ and to assume as a sentient box of cereal I would have made millions on chat shows. So I would just pay the mercenary not to eat me. Simples.

2) Once you’ve finished The Red Queen’s War, will you be writing more in that world, or go for something new? What are your plans for the future?

M: I tend not to have plans for the next page, so having plans for a future so distant is not something I do. It’s not a particularly distant future as it happens, since I’m 95,000 words into the third book of the trilogy, so I should be finished before the year’s out.

At the moment I feel like I’ve spent enough time in the Broken Empire. But who knows what will happen when I look at a blank page. I could return to my weird gunslinger fantasy, Gunlaw, and rework that. I could try some literary fiction. I could do some dystopian YA fiction and make billions… it’s always an exciting time when you put one project to bed.

3) For new readers, would you recommend they start with The Broken Empire? Or can they jump right into The Red Queen’s War?

M:If they think they’d enjoy The Broken Empire trilogy then new readers should pick up Prince of Thorns. If the book looks too dark and violent for their tastes then perhaps Prince of Fools would be the place to start. It certainly has more laughs in it! It’s been reviewed by plenty of people who haven’t read the first trilogy and they all really liked it.

4) Are you more of a discovery writer, or an out-liner? What’s your writing process like?

M: Generally I just start typing without a plan. And that’s the whole of my writing process. For my 6th book – the last book of The Red Queen’s War trilogy I had a go at planning, just writing a rough outline of events. I’ve stuck to it, mostly. The experience hasn’t seemed so different. Most of the excitement for me is on a page by page basis so whether I have a plan or not I’m still surprising and entertaining myself as I write.

5) You’re probably one of the most active authors on social media. You constantly run giveaways and contests, and take the time to respond and engage with your readers. How do you balance the time between that, your personal life, and writing? Is it difficult?

M: I don’t find it difficult. It’s probably because as the sole carer for a very disabled child (my youngest daughter, 10), and having a day-job when she’s at school, and having writing to do at night … I really don’t have the opportunity for much of a personal life!

6) What are your thoughts on The Broken Empire Trilogy hypothetically being adapted for the big (or small) screen?

I’m all for it. I would enjoy the $$$ and it would be interesting to see what they did with it. There have been several approaches from significant figures in Hollywood but I’m told the boot-to-film game involves a lot of dancing around, false starts, and in most cases leads nowhere. Studios like to have a lot of options and keep lots of irons in the fire.

7) Who’s your favourite author?

For fantasy it would be a toss up between JRR Tolkien and GRR Martin – sorry to anyone hoping to discover a new author!

8) What are you currently reading?

The Name of the Wind

Thanks a bunch, Mark! 


 

Mark Lawrence’s newest novel, Prince of Fools, was released June 3rd.

18191460 POF UK

Check it out on:
Amazon [US], [CA], [UK]
Goodreads

Liar’s Key (Book 2 of The Red Queen’s War) is set to be released June of next year.


BLACKGUARDS: Tales of Assassins, Mercenaries, and Rogues — Only 7 days left!

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ROGUES. ASSASSINS. MERCENARIES.

Coin is their master, and their trade, more often than not, is blood. Something about these nefarious types appeals to the fantasy reader. Perhaps it is that they have abandoned the moral set that dictates what is socially acceptable in our world. In these tales, we live vicariously, intrepidly, and by our blades or our wits or a culmination of both to some degree. These are BLACKGUARDS.

If you haven’t already heard, Blackguards is the new anthology being put together by the guys over at Ragnarok Publications; the same people who did the Kaiju rising anthology. Their Kickstarter has only a week left, and they’ve already raised $27,000; when their original goal was $14,500. That is, as of me writing this post, they’re over185% funded. If that alone doesn’t speak for the anthology, check out their lineup, and take a look at their Kickstarter, using the link at the bottom of this post.

Their lineup includes stories by:

  • Michael J. Sullivan
  • Mark Lawrence
  • Shawn Speakman
  • Django Wexler
  • Carol Berg
  • Richard Lee Byers
  • Anthony Ryan
  • John Gwynne
  • Tim Marquitz
  • Jon Sprunk
  • Snorri Kristjansson
  • Paul S. Kemp
  • David Dalglish
  • Lian Hearn
  • James Enge
  • Peter Orullian
  • Joseph R. Lallo
  • Cat Rambo
  • Anton Strout
  • Laura Resnick
  • Mark Smylie
  • Kenny Soward
  • Jean Rabe

They also have opening for 1-2 others! You can join this amazing lineup by checking out their open submissions.

They’ve got a fantastic lineup, and a lot of great backer rewards to choose from. Take a look, check it out, and you’ll be sure to find something that interests you! They just unlocked their t-shirt add-on stretch goal as well!

Find their Kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1089607742/blackguards-tales-of-assassins-mercenaries-and-rog

Remember, there’s only one week left. Get in before it’s too late!

 


Emperor of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

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The path to the throne is broken – only the broken may walk it.

***

To reach the throne requires that a man journey. Even a path paved with good intentions can lead to hell, and my intentions were never good.

The Hundred converge for Congression to politic upon the corpse of Empire, and while they talk the Dead King makes his move, and I make mine. The world is cracked, time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days, the future so bright that those who see it are the first to burn. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne whoever seeks to thwart me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.

This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don’t look to me to save you. Don’t think I will not spend you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don’t follow me.

Follow me, and I will break your heart.

Emperor of Thorns (Book 3 of The Broken Empire) by Mark Lawrence is the final instalment in the series; following Jorg, an ambitious, amoral, twisted, violent and selfish protagonist.

Now, I typically don’t do reviews for books until I’ve reviewed at least the first in the series. I’m going to have to do it backwards though, as I’ve yet to review Prince of Thornsand King of Thornsthe first two novels in the series. However, rest assured that I’ll keep the spoilers to a minimum where possible (*cough* Snape kills Dumbledore. *cough*).

This series took me a few tries to get into, the characters are rather unlikeable (like the aforementioned protagonist, Jorg, who is a disagreeable guy), and for me, I tend to read books for the connections with the characters. However, that being said, this really was an amazing series. In The Broken Empire series, you don’t really get that optimistic happiness that’s apparently through a majority of novels in the genre — it is rather grim and dark. It’s compelling, once you get into it. Jorg has an unlikely charm about him, and he develops into an interesting character.

In Emperor of Thorns, we see Jorg continue on his path to gaining the Empire Throne — the last hope of uniting humanity to a single purpose, and of course, won’t let anything stand in his way.  The novel, as with the previous two, weaves throughout different periods in Jorg’s life, revealing context, a spattering of horrific events, and the sheer complexity of the world that Lawrence has crafted.

The only negative that comes to mind is that a few of the crucial story elements which Lawrence introduced in the novel arrived a bit too late to be entirely credible.

Emperor of Thorns is probably my favourite in the series, Lawrence has surpassed himself in the conclusion to his series. The story really came together at the end, and provided a satisfying resolution with surprising and unpredictable twists. The Broken Empire is a must read, it’s really a great dark fantasy.

I look  forward to reading what Mark Lawrence writes next.

Emperor of Thorns was released today in the US/Canada.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I’ll most likely be posting my reviews of the first two novels (or at least the first one) in the next month or so.


Unfettered Anthology edited by Shawn Speakman : Review


Unfettered-Cover

Normally in my reviews I’ll take a step back, and try to remove all bias. They’re formulaic: a description, the good, the bad, something else good, a general summary, and the release date of the novel, or the sequel, if there is one. That’s not something I did here. Be warned, this is a long one.

Unfettered is a fantasy anthology, containing stories from many of the biggest names in fantasy out there right now. It’s a wonderful amalgamation of talent, put together by and for the editor, Shawn Speakman. The anthology was put together in order to help Speakman’s medical debt after a fight with cancer back in 2011. The stories in this anthology are exactly what the title says — unfettered. They’re all unique; some take place in familiar worlds, while others are a step away into a different fancy of the authors.

I’ve met a bunch of the authors in the anthology, and for many of those I haven’t  yet had a chance to meet, I’ve read their books, talked to them online,  or heard things about them… and it’s one thing to know them and to think of them as being good people, but it’s another entirely, to realize just how caring, and how close the SF/Fantasy community is. If anything can show it, it’s this anthology — the 20 or so authors coming together to support one of their own in a time of need. It really is amazing, and it made this anthology all that much better. To me, it kind of served as an affirmation of the good that is out there.

I wasn’t entirely sure how to write this review — so, I’ve decided I will start at the beginning, and just have a few sentences for each of the stories. For some of them, I could write full reviews on, but I think it will be best this way.

Anyways, without further ado, the stories:

Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks:

This is an older story by Brooks, first published back in 1990, and served as a prototype of sorts for his Word and the Void series. It was an interesting read, and very different for me, as I’d only read his Shannara books previously. It’s an enjoyable read of self-discovery and overcoming challenges.

How Old Holly Came to Be by Patrick Rothfuss:

First off, don’t go into this story expecting a story from the Kingkiller Chronicles world; it isn’t. I’m not entirely sure on my feelings about this story, it’s very different and interesting. It’s written in a very rhythmic and almost simplistic way… I found it to be poetic, and rather sad.

The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams

This story was a bit of a fun twist on the old “Knight vs Dragon” story. In this one, the knight and the dragon work together to con the kingdom. I found it to be a cute read, well written and very enjoyable.

Game of Chance by Carrie Vaughn

This was the first story of Vaughn’s that I’ve read, and I think it to be a good introduction to her writing. Her story contained a dynamic world, backstory, and characters — it felt to be that this was part of a novel, not just a short story.

The Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey

This one was another first for me, having never read her Kushiel series or anything else by her before. However, The Martyr of the Roses serves as a precursor to the Kushiel series, and serves as an interesting introduction to the world, though I did find myself feeling a bit lost at times.

Mudboy by Peter V. Brett

Brett’s story is probably amongst the top three stories I was looking forward to reading most in this anthology. Set in the Demon Cycle world, it’s the story of what would have been one of the main characters in the series. It was similar to that of Arlen, Rojer, and a few of the other characters in that it’s an encounter with the corelings. It was quite good, well written; and helps as a tie-over while waiting for book 4. (Plus, it included bacon!)

The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian

Instead of being a short story, this one was more of a novelette, or a novella. Set in the same universe as The Vault of Heaven, it had an interesting magic system based on music. There’s a lot of raw emotion in this story; frustration, anger, regret, grief and mourning. This story is written in response to the question: What would you write if you thought your friend was going to die?

The Coach With Big Teeth by R.A. Salvatore

I expected something very different when I saw that Salvatore had a story in the anthology, after all, I’ve read almost all of the Drizzt Do’urden novels, and yet, this was very different. This story was probably the hardest for me to get through, as it was a baseball story, following a young timid baseball player.

Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood

Lockwood’s story is another that I was really looking forward to. I grew up recognizing his art; seeing it on many of my favourite novels, and admiring his talent. So when I heard that he was going to step into writing, I had an immense curiosity as to if he could write as well as he could draw, and well.. I really enjoyed this story, it was interesting and well-written. I think Lockwood is a promising writer, and I look forward to reading more of his writing.

Heaven in a Wild Flower by Blake Charlton

I was really uncertain about this story at first, quite frankly I found it odd, and I wasn’t sure if that was in a good way or not. However, after a few short pages I found myself loving it. It has an interesting concept; the story was beautiful, and so very sad.

Dogs by Daniel Abraham

I was kind of at odds with this story; as with Salvatore’s story, it wasn’t really fantasy. However, after rereading it, I find that it was a good read, it’s a horror story more than anything, and quite well-written.

The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne

This story was a retelling of The Holy Grail story, only, it was very different. The changes to the story, featuring Attricus O’Sullivan (from The Iron Druid Chronicles) as Gawain, and as the finder of the Grail. It was certainly interesting, and not a bad read at all.

Select Mode by Mark Lawrence

This is a Jorg story from The Broken Empire novels, I found it to be a good read, and it certainly doesn’t require you to have read the series in order to understand what’s going on. Though, it does serve as a good introduction to Lawrence’s writing, and the series in general.

All The Girls Love Michael Stein by David Anthony Durham

I don’t really have any words for this one other than “cute”. I heard Durham read this story back in November at the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto. It follows Michael Stein, the ghost of a dead cat who won’t let death get in the way of him caring for the girl he loves, and was his companion in life.

Strange Rain by Jennifer Bosworth

This is the origin story for Iris and Ivan from Bosworth’s Struck. It can be read without reading the novel. The story was interesting, though I think it may be easier to appreciate the story already knowing the characters.

Nocturne by Robert V.S. Redick

Redick’s story is another that took me a little while to get into before I enjoyed; however, after reading a bit of it I found it to be an engaging story. I don’t know if I’d say that it’s a great introduction to his writing, though, that could just be me.

Unbowed by Eldon Thompson

I haven’t read the Thompson’s Legend of Asahiel series yet, but this story serves as an introduction to Kylac Kronus. The series, and Thompson’s writing seem to be interesting and quite good, after reading the story I find myself looking forward to reading the series.

In Favour With Their Stars by Naomi Novik

Set in the Temeraire-universe, fans of Novik’s novels, and readers who haven’t yet picked them up will enjoy this story. I believe it serves as an intriguing introduction to her world, and writing. I’ve only read the first novel so far, but this story reminded me of how much I do enjoy her writing.

River of Souls by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

… Can I skip this one, please…? This story was extremely bittersweet. As a longtime Wheel of Time fan, I had reconciled that A Memory of Light would be it, then shortly after, I heard about this short story. So, there’s a lot of the same feelings, the knowledge that after so many years: this is it. River of Souls is a deleted scene from AMOL, featuring Bao and his time in Shara. Though, readers who haven’t read the series or AMOL should be wary of some minor spoilers.

The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan

The Jester is a standalone story that takes place after The Rose and the Thorn and before Theft of Swords; it features an adventure that Royce and Hadrian go on. This was quite possibly one of my favourite stories in the anthology, I found it to be a quite enjoyable read, and simply put, I love his writing.

The Duel by Lev Grossman

Set in the same world of his Magicians trilogy, fans of his writing and the series should enjoy this story. This was my first time reading a story by Grossman, and while he’s undoubtedly a talented writer, I couldn’t quite get into his story. Though, I intend on rereading it.

Walker and the Shade of Allanon by Terry Brooks

The penultimate story in this anthology, it’s probably more along the lines of what I went into his first story expecting: a Shannara story. This story is exactly what the title says it is — a discussion between Walker Boh and the shade of Allanon. I enjoyed reading the interactions between the two. This story is a short deleted scene from one of the Shannara novels. Though, readers who have no yet read the Shannara series may find themselves lost. I’m not entirely sure.

The Unfettered Knight by Shawn Speakman

Yet another bittersweet moment, though, that was mainly due to it being the final story in the anthology. This story is set in Speakman’s The Dark Thorn world, though, many years before the events of the novel. At first I was a bit put-off, as in the introduction he mentioned that it contains both vampires and urban fantasy — two things I tend to avoid, yet, I’m glad that I stuck through it, as it definitely was an enjoyable read and quite interesting.

Well, that’s my two-pence on each of the stories. I tried to keep it brief for each of them, not wanting to give anything away, while still sharing a bit of my opinion on each — I hope I succeeded in doing so.

I implore you to go out and get a copy of the anthology and support Shawn Speakman. He’s a deserving guy, and can really use the help. Plus, it IS filled with fantastic stories from some of the masters of fantasy, you’ll get a bunch of great reads, and snippets from authors you might not yet be familiar with.

E-copies are available on Amazon, or if you’d like to get a physical copy, head over to Grim Oak Press to order a copy — there’s a limited number of them, so get it while you can.


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