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David Farland is one of those authors which I kept hearing about in different places, mostly good things, but which never seemed to be getting a lot of honest attention - you probably know the type. To be honest what really drew me to pay attention to his work was that I learned of his workshop for SFF writers and who a few of his alumni were. Let’s just say the list includes a certain Brandon Sanderson. So I decided to take a look at what he had published and I found The Runelords, seven novels already out but with only good things said of them. Seven books seemed a bit ambitious, that is a lot to catch up on after all, but I said what the hell, I read fast so why not, and went ahead and picked up the first in the series, The Sum of All Men. This is exactly the type of book I think of when I think of classic fantasy - slightly campy, but good all the same, and resembling something between David Eddings and Robert Jordan, that’s exactly what The Sum of All Men is and I’m glad for it.

Having previously read George Mann’s Ghost of Manhattan (slightly disappointing, review here) and discovering that I had indeed a keen interest in steampunk of late, I decided to give Mann another go, this time with the first of his Newbury & Hobbes Investigations, The Affinity Bridge. Much stronger than Ghost of Manhattan, this book was actually near perfect in its depiction of a steampunk London and in its telling of a compelling mystery. The Affinity Bridge falls firmly in the Victorian-London-Steampunk category with the almost obligatory gentleman adventurer/investigator/what have you and his sidekick, so there wasn’t anything too new and original to discover, yet it was an entertaining and convincing read all the same.

For a reason or another, I seem to have drifted towards more steampunk reads than usual of late and The Buntline Special is latest to have captured my attention. Mike Resnick is one of those writers who’s been around for so long and published so many novels that he is surrounded by a mythical aura of sorts. Unfortunately, up to now I had never read any of his work, and I’m now thinking that may have been a mistake. His first attempt at steampunk is absolutely riveting, blending in plenty of the steampunk goodness the sub-genre is loved for, famous historical figures and some good old western style action. In essence: another fine read.

Before Un Lun Dun, the only China Miéville I’d read was May’s Kraken. That was a damn good read so understandably I was looking to explore more of Mr. Miéville’s work. The questions though was which to choose. The City & The City looked like a pretty good contestant, as did his very first, King Rat. It was the premise to Un Lun Dun - his first and only novel intended for younger readers - that caught my eye. It was a good choice too. Un Lun Dun is a wild romp through a world vast in imagination and is utterly absorbing, if not without its flaws.

So these lists have started to crop up all over the blogosphere these past few days, and I thought, “Hell, why don’t I throw mine into the lot now rather than be the last one to?” It also conveniently makes for a great post after more than a week’s absence of blogging here at LBR. Boys and girls, get ready for a long post. And yes, I have realized the year isn’t over yet, but really, what does 14 days’ difference make?

What most of you are probably thinking right now is something along the lines of: ‘Why is he now reviewing this book? Hasn’t it been out for a month?’ And you would be right, Towers of Midnight, the penultimate tome in Robert Jordan’s emblematic epic series has been out for a month. Now about the whole month part... Well, let’s just say that due to some troubles in the mail (and the jury is still out on which of the Royal Mail or the Belgian bposte is to blame) the book took a while to get here. I did, of course, devour it as fast as humanly possible (I like to think) as a volume of its status requires and yes, I’m finally in the capacity to pass judgment on it. So here it comes. Though fulfilling in its own ways, Towers of Midnight does not achieve the independence of its direct predecessor and instead aims strongly at setting the scene for what promise to be a hugely satisfying, as of yet mystifying and epic conclusion to one of the most monumental works of fantasy fiction of the past two decades.

What to say? Another Pyr release; another steampunk book; another highly enjoyable read... The Horns of Ruin, Tim Akers’ second novel after the apparently brilliant Heart of Veridon, cannot be justly summed up by the sentence above, but for those of you familiar with Pyr titles, I think that statement can give you a pretty good indication of what to expect from this book. In general, much more can be said about The Horns of Ruin, and it’s mostly good things. An engaging and eventful blend of the sword and sorcery tale told with elements of steampunk, this is perhaps one of the most original books to come out this year. And that’s saying something - the year is almost over.

As I was browsing catalogs for upcoming SFF releases in 2011, I came across this little surprise on Headline's (the publisher) website. Yes, it's the UK cover art for Dan Wells' I Don't Want to Kill You, third and final volume in his creepy, comic and all-around awesome John Cleaver books. I previously blogged about the US cover art for this book (in this post) to be released by TOR Books in April, and so I'd assumed, wrongly as it turns out, that the book would be published at a similar time in the UK - the publication date that most matters to me as it is the UK editions I read. Well, that's not true at all, I Don't Want to Kill You UK edition will be published with the attractive artwork on the right on the 6th of January 2011. Hell yeah!

John Scalzi’s The Last Colony is the final ‘official’ volume in his Old Man’s War series begun in the title novel (review here) and then continued in The Ghost Brigades (review here). Those of you that have been keeping up will know that I read and loved both of those, the first to a slightly greater degree than the second. Upon completing that second volume a couple of weeks back I came to realize that The Last Colony saw the return of John Perry, my favorite character in the series, so without leaving as a big a gap between the my readings of the series, I very soon jumped right back in to Scalzi’s work and man, is this ever a conclusion to this series.

It's not secret that I loved Mark Hodder's first book, The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (read me gush about it here) and so by extension it should come as no surprise that I've been seeking out any news on the forthcoming second book, The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, the second Burton & Swinburne. I happened upon this. This cover art is the one that will be displayed on the Pyr (US) edition of the book (UK info can be found here). Already the art Jon Sullivan had created for the first novel was great but I think he has outdone himself with this second piece of art. It is at once grabbing, mysterious and certainly makes me want to pick the book up (though less would convince me, so this might not mean much). The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man will be published in the UK by Snowbooks this coming March and will also appear from Pyr in the US at the same time.

Thanks to Aiden at A Dribble of Ink for posting the artwork.

The Greyfriar, first of three in the Vampire Empire Series, is the newest steampunk release from Pyr Books, though this also happens to be vampire-centric. Vampires and steampunk - good mix, no? One might think such a mix would be difficult to mesh together but Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith manage it splendidly, bringing the reader an invigorating reading experience. Folks, this one is full of action, adventure, myth, rousing emotions and characters which there’s a good chance you’ll grow to love - be prepared to add it to your reading lists.

More and more as I’ve immersed myself in blogging and reading a vastly greater proportion of SFF titles than I used to, I’ve found that the occasional break from the genre -even if only for a book or two and no further genre-wise than, say horror - can be one of the most welcomed things. A book like Darkly Dreaming Dexter is exactly what I look for in to fill those shoes, and it just so happened that the Dexter books had been on my radar for quite some time partly because of the acclaim they’ve received and the acclaim the television adaptation has also received. I know, I know, you’re thinking, ‘fine he can read that if he likes, but why’s he reviewing it on his SFF blog?’ Well, first of all: shut up, my blog, and I’ve allowed myself the right to digress genres for the simple reason that this is a great book and therefore, as a reviewer I feel it’s my responsibility to tell you about it. So let’s move along...

I wasn’t the biggest fan of James Enge’s first novel-length offering (Blood of Ambrose; review here). A few particularly nasty flaws made impossible for me to make it an affirmative recommendation. But thankfully, the changes he worked with his second novel, This Crooked Way, made it a much stronger and more fun (to keep to simple terms) read. Opting this time to recount the adventures of Morlock Ambrosius in an episodic-novel format, Enge gives readers an exciting, mystifying sword and sorcery read much more like Blood of Ambrose should have been.

The Ghost Brigades is the 2007 sequel to John Scalzi’s stunning debut, Old Man’s War (see my review here). Back when I read Old Man’s War I promised myself that I would get around to reading the rest of the books in this series. After all, the first book had did appear to make it very worth it. I forged on, perhaps a bit later than I thought I would, but I’m glad I did. The Ghost Brigades is more of a pseudo-sequel as it centers around a new character, though with many familiar faces from the first book, but it retains all the intelligence, wit and intensity that made Scalzi’s debut such a hit.

James Enge’s Blood of Ambrose, recently nominated for a World Fantasy Award, has been a book on my radar for a while now. It was originally his short story in last summer’s Swords & Dark Magic that got me interested in Morlock Ambrosius and his universe, but it wasn’t until not so long ago that my reading schedule afforded me the opportunity to dig into Enge’s debut.Having finally read it I think it’s fair to say that while Enge shows great potential as a writer, this first book is not quite as good as it could have been. It’s a very decent offering, but a few non-negligible flaws do come in the way of the enjoyment of Blood of Ambrose. Nevertheless, the solid prose and the all-round quirkiness of the book still make it a book worth giving a look at.

After reading his excellent The Half-Made World (review here) I felt the need to ask Felix Gilman a few questions. He graciously accepted and so below are the few inquiries I had for him. For those who would like to know, Mr. Gilman is and American fantasy writer, also the author of two other novels, Thunderer and Gears of the City. Those two books garnered him quite a bit of praise and I dare say, his third novel certainly seems to hold up to that. So anyways, scroll down or click-through to peruse his answers. Enjoy.

There are to new pieces of cover art that have been making the rounds online of late. The first of these you can see on the right, is the US (publication in Spring 2011) cover art for Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief (my review here). This arresting artwork is by Kekai Kotaki, who's work has also recently appeared on the cover of the forthcoming, The Unremembered by Peter Orullian. I appreciated the cover that Gollancz had released for the UK edition of Rajaniemi's book, but I think this one is even better though it doesn't quite highlight the intelligence of the book like the other did. There is a lot more action depicted here and emphasis on the characters (though some might think that is bad) which for me makes this a much more grabbing cover.

The Half-Made World is the first of Felix Gilman’s work I’ve had the pleasure to read, though to be fair, it is only his third, Thunderer and Gears of the City being his others. From this single experience though I can safely say that Gilman is one talented writer with plenty of story to tell. This first part in a steampunk-esque/weird West duology is as delightful a display of originality, strong prose and solid characters as you are ever likely to encounter.

If there is one book this year that has been pointed to and proclaimed as the science fiction debut of the year then it is this one, Hannu Rajaniemi’s The Quantum Thief. And to be fair, a hard SF novel written by a guy with a Phd in string theory is bound to have some weight to it going in, but this novel’s strength goes much beyond its author’s qualifications as a scientist. Yes, it’s smart, but it also is darkly comic, complex and exhilarating in its action and characters. So yes, The Quantum Thief lives up to the hype every little bit.

The early draft of this cover made the rounds a couple of weeks back, Mark Charan Newton even going as far as to ask the preference of those online concerning the artwork for his next book, The Book of Transformations. However, I restrained from posting about it then, hoping for a more final version of what was posted and here it is. Sort of. This is not, I believe, the final draft yet but after popular consent, the figure which originally featured in front of the cityscape was removed, allowing for the cover to look something like what you see above. I, for one, am much more inclined towards this version of the cover, though I remain attentive to see the absolutely final version of the cover when it is released. For those interested, the full cover with back cover and spine is available here. Also, I've included below the blurb that Mr. Newton has provided on his own blog.

The cover art for Blake Charlton's second novel, Spellbound, sequel to his 2010 debut Spellwright, has just been released over at Tor.com. This beautiful piece of art by master artist Todd Lockwood is easily the equal of Spellwright's, if not even better. Lockwood blends in some fabulous colors and an illustration that portrays an older, more mature Nicodemus and - lo and behold - an incredibly striking dragon. With such a scene on the cover what, I wonder, can Charlton have in store for us?

Col Buchanan’s Farlander is one of the 2010 debuts that I was most looking forward to, but when it was released back in March I never quite got around to it. Now, with the build to its US release in January it managed to grab my attention once more and I finally decided to give it a go. Though not the best of reads, in Farlander Buchanan creates - if nothing else - a fun new take on the fantasy assassin story. One thing is for sure: despite its flaws this debut shows great promise for the series, The Heart of the World, it begins.

The Psalms of Isaak is truly one of the best ongoing series of the moment, and I’m sure that even when it is done readers will look fondly back at it. As such, I was delighted when writer Ken Scholes agreed to answer a few questions for the blog. Scholes through his books Lamentation, Canticle and Antiphon (reviews here, here and here respectively) as well as his short fiction has garnered quite a bit of praise which makes him an author well-worth checking out. The relatively large result of our exchange can be found below and it is certainly one of the better Q&As I have conducted so far. So scroll down or click-through to read it. Enjoy.

Things are moving fast in The Psalms of Isaak. Antiphon is the third book in this engaging series and its arrival means that we are officially over the half-way point towards the fifth and final volume of the series. If Lamentation (review here) and Canticle (review here) had left you any doubt about Ken Scholes’ talent then Antiphon will surely dispel all uncertainties. This gripping volume takes the Named Lands and the characters who people it further down familiar paths and in many cases down new ones, resulting in a very strong continuation of what has surely become one of the best ongoing fantasy series of the day.

On the surface, The Reapers Are the Angels is a beautiful journey across a post-apocalyptic America, venturing from the small resistant pockets of civilization to scenes of eerily entrancing desolation. This is a book about a girl, zombies, and a man chasing this girl. At face value, this is already the makings of a pretty great read. But why stick to only a pretty great read? After all this is far from being the first zombie story ever told. Well Alden Bell has taken it further and The Reapers Are the Angels is the entrancing result.

Remember those interviews I promised would be back? Well here's a new one. Joining me for this Q&A is Mark Hodder, author of the brilliant The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack. See my review for why you should check his book out. After reading his book I was extremely excited to get to ask him some questions and I'm delighted by how it turned out. Click through or scroll down for the complete interview. Enjoy.

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack is the extraordinary debut from British writer Mark Hodder. This exciting tale of Victorian London gone wild makes for a nearly perfect read. Hodder’s first book is smart, witty and as fun as a novel can ever be. Already I can say that this book is easily among my top reads of the year. It also is the beginning of an all new series, Burton & Swinburne, which promises many great things. If Pyr’s immensely beautiful cover design wasn’t enough to convince you to read this then let this do so: The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack is one hell of a debut. Actually, no, scratch that. It is one fucking hell of a debut.

The Usurper is the third and final entry in Rowena Cory Daniells’ The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin. Published at the beginning of the month in succession after its predecessors, The King’s Bastard (review here) in July and The Uncrowned King (review here) in August, this book brings this strong series to a satisfying close. Once again, readers will be delighted by Daniells’ skillful plot manipulation and the book’s exciting action and lovable characters.

So as some of you might have noticed, things have slowed down a bit on LBR the past few weeks what with nigh more than a single post a week for the past two weeks. You'll be happy to know that will change.

I plan on returning to my more normal and frequent posting schedule with my average of two reviews a week plus the occasional bit of news, covert art, etc. Already this afternoon I'll have a fresh new review for you. Also, interviews have been sadly absent on the blog since July and that too will hopefully change, so expect those to come as soon as I can possibly make them.

Other than that I have lined up quite a few books for review, all the way into October, even. All of those, I hope, will be great ones. It's a varied bunch I have selected and I'm very much looking forward to them.

So that's that. Thanks to you readers for sticking through slower times. Now on to more great speculative books.

The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice is a new YA offering from Adamantine Palace and King of the Crags author Stephen Deas. Staying away from dragons this time around, Deas’ third novel begins an all new fantasy trilogy set in a richly envisioned environment populated by an entertaining bunch of characters. This first foray into YA is largely a success in that it nicely bridges YA and adult fantasy to offer more mature, meatier content to potential younger readers and a lighter, adventurous read for older readers. It’s not perfect, but The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice is a solid novel that bodes well for what is to come in this series.

Adrian Tchaikovsky brings us the fifth volume in his excellent Shadows of the Apt series. The Scarab Path continues the story of the world of the Lowlands and begins a new three-book arc in the overall series. I didn’t think it possible after Salute the Dark, the previous novel, but Tchaikovsky outdone himself once more and by a large margin. This fifth book is a more mature and personal offering that diverges in direction slightly (in a good way) from its predecessors. Things just keep getting better and better in this series...

The Black Prism is another of the most anticipated fantasy novels of the summer, coming this time from Brent Weeks. First known for his Night Angel Trilogy, Weeks brings us the first entry in an all knew series, Lightbringer, that promises many great things. Having not read Weeks’ other books, The Black Prism slipped right under my radar until a couple of weeks before its release, at which point I decided to take a look at what it was about. The various blurbs and previews did it for me, and I decided this one might be worth checking out. My decision was a good one.

The Black Lung Captain is the follow up to the very well received science fiction swashbuckling adventure, Retribution Falls. Chris Wooding brings back the whole crew of the Ketty Jay and all their associates for a second round of excitement, betrayals and all of what he got us acquainted to in the first Tale of the Ketty Jay. Unfortunately, this formula doesn’t work quite a nicely as one would like for the sequel, resulting in a still greatly enjoyable story, but one that is not quite up to the level of the original. Still, this second novel helps separate this series from others with its continually distinctive approach.

Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings has received much attention, and it is well deserved. Sanderson serves up his sixth standalone, adult effort and the first in his all-new Stormlight Archives series, predicted to run no less than ten novels. Yes, this is another long one. The Way of Kings delivered just what I expected, an incredible epic, going even farther than I anticipated. If there is one book for epic fantasy this summer, this is it. This immense novel really is unavoidable.

Whatever you may try to do, its always impossible to completely avoid hype. That is what happened to me in the case of I Am Number Four, I gave in to the hype and decided to give the book a chance, see what the deal was all about. And what a deal it is. Even before its release, I Am Number Four had sold movie rights off and filming also began before publication. That was enough to get me interested; a book that is so good that it is able to get a huge movie deal so fast, before even the reactions of readers are known - I had to see what it was. I can’t say I’m displeased. Make no mistake, this is a YA novel and it does contain a number of clichés and it’s also evident why it’s perfect blockbuster material - not always a plus for a book - yet it’s a book that carries you away with its fast-pace story, lovable characters, neat mythos and yes, a blockbuster feel, that are all very likely to win you over.

If you’ve been snooping around the internet on the blogosphere and places like Twitter in the past few weeks then you might be aware of Tome of the Undergates’ author Sam Sykes’ BRAVEST CHALLENGE. This challenge, issued to a number of fantasy bloggers, aims at putting reviewers/bloggers out of their comfort zone by making them read a book, chosen by Sykes himself, that he believes is different from the type of books the blogger usually reads and which he thinks they will hate. The blogger then reads and reviews (or attempts to do so) and as a result see whether the blogger is set in their reading ‘ways’. I was one such blogger issued with the challenge, and Sam picked David Bilsborough’s 2007 debut, The Wanderer’s Tale. According to him I tend to like fantasy that has ‘fast action, deep plot, characterization out the wazoo’ and The Wanderer’s Tale supposedly does those things badly. Though I’m not quite sure how to interpret ‘characterization out the wazoo’ I gladly accepted, both unsure of what I was getting into and excited about the prospect. Well, I’ve read Bilsborough’s book and, in acceptance with the terms of the challenge, have reviewed it below.

I’ve come to this anthology late compared to some reviewers, but then again I wasn’t really planning on reviewing it in the first place. I picked it up while in Canada and though (as in so many other cases) that the opportunity was too good to pass. So here I am reviewing Lou Anders’ and Jonathan Strahan’s anthology that according to it’s very own subtitle should innovate the sword and sorcery sub-genre. Has it done that? Maybe not, but on the way it has certainly presented a strong offering of short stories from a slew of renowned authors of the genre. Below you will find a short review for the majority of the stories contained within the anthology.

I have no idea how I missed this - I mean, really don't know - when it appeared online a couple of weeks ago but as you can see, the artwork for the sixth book in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s hugely entertaining Shadows of the Apt series has been released. I previously mentioned the sixth book when its title, The Sea Watch, was revealed at the end of June. Now its cover is available for all to see, and what a cover it is.

Last month saw the release of the first book in The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin, The King’s Bastard (review here) and this month it’s the release of the second volume, The Uncrowned King. Australian writer Rowena Cory Daniells (whom I interviewed here) gave us a strong offering in the first volume and this second one easily equals its predecessor. Heftier action-wise and less so in intrigue, The Uncrowned King delivers a solidly entertaining read, one that successfully avoids the “middle book lag” and builds the anticipation for the final chapter of this strong fantasy trilogy.

Ken Schole’s Lamentation is one of the novels I read recently that I most enjoyed. I was very much looking forward to delving into its sequel, Canticle. This is second entry in The Psalms of Isaak was a thoroughly pleasant read, pushing further the storylines introduced in Lamentation an continuing the journeys of the characters were learned to care for in the first novel. More importantly, Canticle sees the peeling back of mysteries of the vast world Scholes created. Scholes is sophomore effort escapes the common lag of sequels and displays a writer that has grown in skill and continues to captivate us with his creativity and imagination.

Not too long ago, I finally got around to reading Peter V. Brett’s popular debut, The Painted Man. It was an extremely enjoyable read (as you can see from my review) and its sequel, The Desert Spear, stands just as strongly besides it. This tale continues the Demon Cycle series, ramping the tensions ever more up and turns out to be an excellent second volume in this outstandingly fun series. That it is just as good as it’s predecessor is an achievement, seeing as sequels are often such a lag. Brett’s second effort isn’t without flaw, but it is sure to pleasantly fill many hours of your time.

I’m still in the process of catching up on all the sf&f books that I’ve missed out on in the passed few years and I’ve now reached Richard Morgan’s first foray in fantasy. Morgan, usually known for his science fiction work, here attempts not only to write in the genre in novel form for the first time but overthrow all the major tropes. While he achieves only to a mild degree, on the way he does manage to spin an enticing tale along the way. This is the first book in a series which has not seen a sequel released yet, though The Steel Remains was published back in 2008. Not the smoothest of reads by far, this is still a novel you should look to pick up.

Rowena Cory Daniells is an Australian fantasy author, whose most recent series, The Chronicles of King Rolen's Kin, is seeing a successive release of its three volumes throughout the summer. The first novel, The King's Bastard, has already been released and I've had the chance to read and review it (find the review here). I can safely say that it's a very enjoyable book and is sure to garner plenty more praise and attention, on top of what it already has. When I contacted her, Rowena Cory Daniells enthusiastically accepted my invitation to answer a few questions I had for her here on the blog. So below you'll find just that, the questions along with their gracious answers from Rowena. Enjoy.

A couple of weeks back, still in an effort to catch up on books and series that I missed out on, I read and reviewed Daniel Abraham’s Shadow and Betrayal, the UK omnibus edition of the first two volumes in his Long Price Quartet. Now, to conclude the series, I’ve moved on to Seasons of War, another omnibus containing the last two volumes of the series. This book both ramps up the action and excitement to the max and brings it all back down to an emotional finale. In what seems to me one of the best series of recent years, Abraham thrills, captivates, saddens and entrances us to unexpected levels. Shadow and Betrayal was good, Seasons of War is better.

Stone Spring is prolific science fiction writer Stephen Baxter’s latest novel, and is set in the Mesolithic period of Earth’s history dealing with a very headstrong people that decides to face nature rather than back down. This intriguing prehistoric epic is the beginning of new trilogy, all set on a now disappeared land-mass and based around the same concept. Stone Spring is not without flaws, but to those interested in it’s material it will offer a compelling plot and the chance to explore what our world could have been like, 10,000 years ago.

The King’s Bastard is a novel I’d been looking forward to since the day I learned of it a few months back. The first entry in The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin a new series from an author previously unknown to me, Rowena Cory Daniells since the Australian writer has written only one other trilogy, a while back, as just Cory Daniells. Playing on the family tensions, forbidden magic and plenty of intrigue, this and its sequels promises to be one heck of a trilogy. It’s no perfect novel, but its strengths far outdo its flaws, making this a splendid novel, one well worth giving a try.

The latest author to accept my request for an interview is none other than Sam Sykes, debut author of Tome of the Undergates which I read and loved (review here). At just twenty-five, he is looking to be one of the future voices of the genre: he's funny, he sure can write action and thorough characters - let's just say he's got talent. It is an absolute joy to have had him answer some of my questions, not to mention he accepted without having me promising to worship him! Click-through or scroll down for the Q&A filled with Sam's characteristic wit. Enjoy!

Over on his blog, Joe Abercrombie has just revealed the draft for the Gollancz edition of his forthcoming novel, The Heroes. The Orbit cover had previously been shown and it is now obvious that they are pretty different. This new cover is clearly following the same basic pattern as the cover for Abercrombie's previous novel, Best Served Cold, which also featured a map in the background and a weapon, then a sword now an axe, in the forefront. As Abercrombie notes, this isn't the final cover - that one will be a full wraparound and will most likely contain a few differences, a touch of blood, etc.

For those that haven’t been following, I have been trying to work my way through books from the past few years that I found interesting but had not read yet. Now, I’ve brought my attention to Ken Scholes’ Lamentation, debut novel for Scholes and first in the Psalms of Isaak series. I came into this novel with few expectations and I left it with a longing for the next books in the series. It is not without its flaws but as a first book for this writer, it deserves to commend much respect. Like the other books I’ve caught up on, Lamentation holds up satisfyingly to what I’d heard of it.

John Scalzi’s name is one I’ve heard in different occasions many times during the past few years, first of all for his books but also for his popular blog, Whatever, or for his job as a creative consultant on Syfy’s Stargate: Universe. All the while I hadn’t read a single of his books, as praised as they were by others. So, I chose to read his debut novel, Old Man’s War, to finally get a look at what Scalzi is all about. I shouldn’t have been worried that it would disappoint - it didn’t. This relatively small novel presents a smart, comic and action filled story that gives proof of why it has been so complimented.

Peter V. Brett’s The Painted Man is another of those books from the past couple years that I hadn’t read yet, something I wanted to change. This book, originally published in 2008, is outstanding. I can already tell you this is going to be a praising review, with reason - The Painted Man is an exhilarating debut. When compared with any recent work of fantasy this arresting novel stands its ground. Really, it's a wonder that I didn’t pick up this book earlier, I am now innerly chastising myself for that very reason. The start of an extremely promising series, with a sequel already published, The Painted Man is well worth any investment you make in it.