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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.

Daniel Abraham’s The Long Price is one of those series of the past years that I missed out on up to now. The first novel in the series, A Shadow in Summer, was originally published in the US by Tor in 2006, yet I have only now read it. Instead of reading each of the novels individually, I opted for the two omnibus editions published by Orbit in the UK, of which Shadow and Betrayal is the first. This volume contains two very strong offerings from what was then a new writer. These two character-personal tales lead me to believe that as a whole, The Long Price will be a series worth remembering in the years to come.

It's the start of a new month so I thought it would be a good time to cover a few updates, both about the blog and books. I don’t seem to be the only one in the blogosphere giving an update with many blogs either doing monthly updates or a “half-year report,” a post about their favorite books of 2010 up to now. I won’t be part of those, though I haven’t done so before I prefer to present a complete review of the year when we reach its end. No, I’ll simply be discussing (sort of) my reading plans for July as well as a bit of news on forthcoming books.