New poll - Publishers

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The hiatus on the polls is over. But as always, before I tackle the new one, let's return to my last interrogation in my non-scientific search for the complete description of the typical Fantasy reader and to its results. I asked you fellow readers two questions:

Do you like battles in Fantasy?


The more detailed the better?

The idea behind these two questions came to mind after I read the insightful guest post Grieftongue, written by Jeff Salyards (that you can find on the blog).  He mentioned in his text that he knew that some readers (dare I say Fantasy readers?) don't like battles. While I agree that it was certainly the case, I thought that it must be a minority in the Fantasy readers crowd.  And the results are in.

96% of readers answering my poll like battles in Fantasy and 79% of them think that the more detailed the better. So, it can be concluded that Mr. Salyards is hitting the bullseye when he so deftly describe a battle in his books. Don't forget though that I focus on Epic Fantasy...


Next up is the publishers!

For  the first several years of Fantasy reading I indulged in, I didn't really care about the publishing houses behind the books I picked up. Even when I began blogging in 2009, that was the last of my concern.  But eventually, I tended to favor some publishers over the others, without putting real thoughts behind it.  And then the ARCs began coming my way and I got a better understanding of the nature of most of them.

The Fantasy genre has a great number of publishers investing into it but some of them clearly stand out from the crowd, be it for the sheer number of novels they print or for the quality of the authors they sign and the editors they employ.

While browsing the web for a complete list of them, I stumbled into an interesting one from Worlds Without End. This isn't a list strictly for Fantasy publishers (there isn't that many who focus only on the particular genre) but for Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Horror. The top list is based on the awards the books they publish received and the number they won. Anyway, I'm not here to talk about awards and judging from the connection we can make between the number of books and authors and the wins, there's no big surprises except that Gollancz clearly stand out.

Here's the top 20:

Ace Books
Bantam Spectra
William Morrow & Co.
Ballantine Books
Bantam UK
Ballantine Del Rey
Del Rey
DAW Books
St. Martin's Press
HarperCollins UK
Timescape Books

Night Shade books could have been on the top 20 if it hasn't been for their misfortune. Here's the link for the complete list.

A comparison could probably be made with the movie studios or the recording companies.  For these two industries, I dodn't care much about the company behind the works and when I think about it, I'm more interested in the book and gaming publishers.

It would be though to point out a favorite and Tor is clearly more present on my shelves. However, I admit that I always had something for them, Orbit books, Gollancz and Pyr more recently. Feel free to comment about the publishers you care about (or the ones you might despise).

And now, for my poll question:

Is the publisher of a book influencing your acquisitions?
- Yes
- No

Joe Abercrombie's Half a King french cover

Monday, September 29, 2014

Joe posted the Bragelonne cover art for the French edition of Half a King, book One of The Shattered Sea.  The cover is nice, but not as good as the Subterranean Press limited edition (my favorite so far, the one with the boy king). What do you think?

Veil of the Deserters review

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Veil of the Deserters is the second book in the Bloodsounder's Arc, a series by American Fantasy author Jeff Salyards that started with a bang with the fabulous Scourge of the Betrayer back in 2012, my best new author/Fantasy debut for that year. Could Jeff pull it off a second time in a row?
History, Family and Memory… these are the seeds of destruction. 
Bloodsounder's Arc continues as Captain Braylar Killcoin and his retinue continue to sow chaos amongst the political elite of Alespell. Braylar is still poisoned by the memories of those slain by his unholy flail Bloodsounder, and attempts to counter this sickness have proven ineffectual. 
The Syldoonian Emperor Cynead has solidified his power base in unprecedented ways, and demands loyalty from all operatives. Braylar and company are recalled to the capital to swear fealty. Braylar must decide if he can trust his sister, Soffjian, with the secret that is killing him. She has powerful memory magics that might be able to save him from Bloodsounder’s effects, but she has political allegiances that are not his own. Arki and others in the company try to get Soffjian and Braylar to trust one another, but politics in the capital prove to be far more complicated and dangerous than even Killcoin could predict. 
Deposed emperor Thumarr plots to remove the repressive Cynead, and Braylar and his sister Soffjian lie at the heart of his plans. The distance between "favored shadow agent of the emperor" and "exiled traitor" is an unsurprisingly short road. But it is a road filled with blind twists and unexpected turns. Before the journey is over, Arki will chronicle the true intentions of Emperor Cynead and Soffjian. And old enemies in Alespell may prove to be surprising allies in a conflict no one could have foreseen.
Veil of the Deserters picks up right after the events of Scourge. Arki, the young, impressionable and now road-weary archivist seems less enthusiastic to dig in with the deliberately baffling Syldoons focused on their mission but is now considered as part of the implacable group. Muldoos, one of the Lieutenants under the rigid but effective command of Captain Braylar is always making sure that Arki remembers he's not a Syldoon while keeping him safe with his more altruistic companion Vendurro since he now has more value than being a simple chronicler. With new company from Sunwrack, the center of the Syldoon Empire, right on their toes and more Hornmen on their trail than they care for, the band is in dire need of the help of Memoridons, mostly for Braylar's sake.

With that introduction, I was able to present the new developments that clearly enrich the experience of Arki, and ours, in this second opus.  The narrator situation is evolving fast and with a new job of translation looming ahead, courtesy of Braylar, the unattainable mysteries of the Syldoons and of the stern Captain's cursed weapon are now within his grasp. In Scourge, Arki was already a competent and compelling figure to host the narrative.  In Veil, he simply lives the arduous and precarious adventure with as much vertigo, dread and giddiness as he can muster, for my greatest pleasure.

Salyards's previous novel was leaning toward the short side and while it opened many threads of interest and kept the lid on many cryptic elements, it might have benefited from deeper exploration of the themes that made it special, namely so, grief in many a form and the aftermath of violent battles with all the discussions, theories, effects in can have (for more insight on Jeff focus on grief, read his guest post called Grieftongue here). However, as I mentioned in the review, Scourge is an interesting premise or prologue and the proposition that is Veil is delivering on all counts, it's even upping the bar.

Moreover, I wanted further insight into the magic system embodied by the Memoridons and the whole memory-centered concepts and I was more than satisfied.  In the aftermath of the events at the end of Scourge, the Syldoon troops in Alespell are now short of helpings hands in the consciousness dabbling department. Who then can deliver the knowledge without dumping the information like a school teacher while making Braylar's life and mission more complicated and delivering the recall order for his company which will possibly render several years of hard work futile? None other than the Captain's sister and her small accomplice. The position in which the protagonists now find themselves couldn't have more ambiguous and convenient both at the same time.

I mentioned that info dumping wasn't a result of the presence of the two Memoridons but there are still some heavier passages. Nevertheless, with Arki's curiosity and ignorance in the matter and the recurring absence of the two women, the flow of information is kept short and fascinating. Nicely done Mr. Salyards!

Next on the list is the "origin story" of Bloodsounder, Killcoin infamous weapon. In this case again, Arki is privy to detailed explanations granted by the need for his skills in deciphering old texts. The state of the world and the disappearance of the gods are even mixed in with this, finely expanding on the mythology, theology and geography (I'm looking at you the Godveil). Add to this the reason behind Emperor Cynead recall and you get a storytelling explosion. The last chapters are simply amazing.

What else is there to consider?  The author writing feels even more intuitive and competent while retaining the straightforward aspect and atmosphere we witnessed in Scourge, all for the greater benefit of the delivery of a first person perspective.  The descriptive aspect of it makes the world more vivid than most authors can achieve and the battles scenes could only be praised for a second time around. I was there even if it was not always easy to witness it. Simply a great story, with fascinating themes, meaningful characters and close combat action aplenty.

Cover: The Night Shade Books cover by Micheal C. Hayes is nice but I would have liked a gloomier art style...
Release date: June 3rd 2014
Map: Yes! Hurray!
Number of pages: 448 (hardcover edition)
Acquisition method: courtesy of Mr. Salyards publisher - NSB
Other: No appendices, dramatis personae or glossary

I liked...Was disappointed by...
The themes explored (especially grief in various aspects)Some short moments of pace slowing
The detailed action sequencesA bit of info dumping
Arki's recounting
The story new direction
The worldbuilding explosion

Veil of the Deserters review rating :

New maps - Brent Weeks

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

With the release of The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks and the inclusion of maps of the Seven Satrapies and the Jasper islands, I realized that Brent maps from both the Lightbringer and Night Angel series (Midcyru) were missing from my index.  No time to wait, here they are!

Daniel Abraham's The Spider's War cover

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Orbit Books revealed the US cover art for the fifth and final book in the Dagger and the Coin series, titled The Spider's War. There's still not synopsis, not surprising with The Widow's House just out of the oven. The novel will be out next year.

What do you think?  I think it looks nice. Here's the other books from the series:

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