I decided last week that 2017 would be the year I read & re-read Stephen King’s Dark Tower universe. I’ve read all the books, though it’s a few years since I last immersed myself in them, but haven’t read all the comics/graphic novels that are set within this milieu. The Gunslinger Born is the first of these – one I did read way back in 2007/8 – and it’s good to revisit it once again. A great starting place for my journey, that’s for sure. Head on over to SFFWorld to see my full review!
The Dark Tower is Stephen King’s Magnum Opus, a seven book series that follows gunslinger Roland Deschain on his quest after the Man in Black, and then onwards to the Dark Tower. While the core books focus specifically on Roland’s quest, there are other stories the fit into this milieu:The Little Sisters of Eluria, a novella set before the events of the first book, The Gunslinger; and The Wind Through the Keyhole, a novel within a novel, set prior to the fifth book, Wolves of the Calla. And, of course, there is the focus of this review: the comic book series published by Marvel and with input from King.
The other main aspect that I must talk about is the art. Not only is it fantastic in its own right, it fits in perfectly with both the setting and story. Jae Lee and Richard Isanove have excelled, each page presenting such a fitting portrayal of characters and events. In this omnibus edition there is also bonus artwork included – the alternate and deviant covers for each of the issues – and it’s a great addition to an already excellent collection.
I enjoyed Bloodmage so much I read it twice this year – once on release, and again a little later to refresh my memory for a review. I enjoyed it very much both times. Check out my full review at SFFWorld, but I highly recommend this series.
Bloodmage (Age of Darkness #2) is Stephen Aryan’s second novel, following on from events inBattlemage (review), though not necessarily a direct sequel in the strictest terms. I mentioned in my review of Battlemage that I was drawn to it primarily because of my friendship with Steve – fantasy not being my go-to genre – but I approached Bloodmage in an entirely different way. I was eager to read it to see where the story would go, what twists and turns were in store, and just how the world is progressing after the epic climax in the first novel. What I found not only met my expectations, but blew past them, delivering a second novel that is perhaps even more enjoyable than Battlemage.
I had very few issues with Bloodmage, finding the story, characters, and pacing excellent. I was immersed from the first page, enjoying the change of scenery while also appreciating the underlying threads that had been carried forward from Battlemage. Being a hard-to-please reader when it comes to the fantasy genre, Stephen Aryan’s Age of Darkness novels have measured up exceedingly well. Great stuff.
I don’t read nearly enough short fiction, but Now We Are Ten is a collection that jumped out at me. Not only is it from small publisher NewCon Press and edited by Ian Whates, it’s got a very good selection of authors on show. My full review is no live over at SFFWorld, so head on over to check it out.
Now We Are Ten is the anniversary anthology from NewCon Press, celebrating ten years of publishing fiction. Edited by press owner Ian Whates, this is a collection containing many different genres and authors, and the likelihood of you having read at least one of these authors is high. For a small press to release such an anthology is not unusual, but one that contains many award-nominated and award-winning authors is a pleasure to see.
The question of whether Now We Are Ten is a success is easily answered: yes. Each story, no matter my personal preference, fit the theme perfectly. I found some stories missed the mark in their delivery, others perhaps a touch too obscure for their own good. Ultimately, the better stories balance the collection out nicely, with particular stand-outs coming from Brown, Tchaikovsky, Pearce, and Swift. Now We Are Ten is another reminder that short fiction has a special place in SF&F, and it’s a length that I read way too little of.
Over at SFFWorld Mark Yon, Rob Bedford, Luke Brown, Dag Rambraut, Nila White, and I have highlighted our favourite Fantasy reads from this years releases. There’s an interesting a varied collection there and it serves to remind me once again that I need to up my Fantasy reading. Anyway, check it out.
My latest review over at SFFWorld is Battlemage by Stephen Aryan. For longtime readers of Walker of Worlds you will likely recognise the name – Steve reviewed here with me back in 2011, and this is his debut novel. I was very much looking forward to reading Battlemage, and despite it not being my usual go-to genre, I really enjoyed it. Read my full review here.
To start with let me say that Battlemage is a very quick read. Not only are the characters and story interesting, but Stephen Aryan manages to tell the story fluidly and without preamble. It’s easy to get caught up in the narrative, and the switching between the three main protagonists does little to slow the story – if anything it ensures that you keep on reading to find out what is happening to them when they are off-page. The structure is sound, while the action, intrigue, and entertainment really makes this a debut that shows great promise for the future.
While the story and characters are both interesting, it’s the world in which Battlemage is set that I really enjoyed reading about. While we are dropped into this fully formed world and learn little things about it in the early chapters, it’s as the story progresses that other aspects become apparent, and many questions raised. This was, perhaps, the most frustrating thing about Battlemage for me – I wanted to learn more and more about the history of the world, the races that inhabit it, and how everything has changed throughout the ages. But Steve peppers the narrative with titbits, not quite giving full explanations, but presenting enough to make me want to read the next novel to find out more.
I don’t read much fantasy, mainly because the genre doesn’t often appeal to me. Every now and then I come across one that takes my fancy, and because of my taste I’m rarely disappointed when I put sci-fi aside to read one. Over the past few years only a handful of fantasy books have made it into my reading, and of those only a few have stuck with me – but now Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed can be added to that small and exclusive club. Continue reading “Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed”
Until fairly recently I hadn’t realised that Tony Ballantyne was releasing a new novel. I’d read Twisted Metal a few years back on its release and very much enjoyed his depiction of a robot only society and its workings. I never did get around to the sequel, Blood and Iron, instead deciding to patiently await the completion of the Penrose trilogy before diving in further. However, due to a variety of personal factors the final novel was delayed, and news on his next novel – whatever it was – dried up. And then I saw the cover for Dream London, done by the unmistakable hand of Joey Hi-Fi – that in itself was enough to draw me in. And then I read the synopsis… Continue reading “Dream London by Tony Ballantyne”
Here we are, one of the few fantasy books I’ll read this year: The Daylight War by Peter V Brett. It seems like an age since I first entered the world of the Demon Cycle with The Painted Man, way back in March of 2009, and the wait since I read The Desert Spear has been a long one. I had high expectations of The Daylight War – simply a given considering how much I enjoyed its predecessors – and it’s safe to say that it’s a hugely impressive and enjoyable novel. Continue reading “The Daylight War by Peter V Brett”
The Wind Through The Keyhole is the eighth Dark Tower novel from Stephen King, though events contained within places it as book 4.5 in the series. When it was announced that King was writing a new Dark Tower installment I was cautiously optimistic, wondering just how he was going to slip in another volume to an already finished series, especially with it placing halfway through. The Wind Through The Keyhole was always going to be on my to-read list, especially with the series as a whole amongst my favourites. A story within a story, The Wind Through The Keyhole is an interesting book. It’s not long, and with two tales in a short page count it does remarkably well. Continue reading “The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King”
Reviewed by Andy Venn
Polly is starting to think that she is going round the bend. She works as a solicitor for a big company, marvellous job, good opportunities, what more could she want? Someone is drinking her coffee. Someone has written in her diary. Someone is doing her work. Brilliant, you would think. But there is a sense that something here is very wrong. She gets calls from people who say that they have spoken to her before, even though she knows that she hasn’t. Then she gets invited to play darts with the company team. This is where things start to get really weird. The dry-cleaner that she took her dress to has vanished. The building does not exist, has never existed, no one in the vicinity knows of it. Calling on her musician brother to help her there now follows a tale of magic and chickens. A tale of twisted reality and mixed dimensions. It turns out that Polly’s boss has been employing people from alternate dimensions, saves on the wage bill apparently. There is also a competition that has been running for centuries with a £500 prize. And Douglas Adams idea of compound interest does not apply, it is still £500 after hundreds of years. Continue reading “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages by Tom Holt”