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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.