Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Bookman Contest Winner

Posted by Simcha 3:11 PM, under | 2 comments

Before I announce the winner, I want to thank everyone who participated in my contest for The Bookman. I always feel bad at only being able to choose one winner, though I will be having more contests soon so hopefully all of you will eventually get to win something here.

And I was flattered by all of the positive feedback I received regarding my mention of a religion. It was really just an idea I was toying with but perhaps I'll have to give the matter some serious thought now...
(and I'm thinking "Simcha" would be a great name for it. What do you think?)

So without any further ado, the lucky recipient of The Bookman is....

Emmagan at Sugar Lover Book Reviews

Congratulations Emmagan and I hope you enjoy the book

Friday, April 16, 2010

Book Blog Hop

Posted by Simcha 7:36 AM, under | 6 comments

Friday is usually an incredibly busy day for me and I don't often have the time to do much blogging. But I've been wanting to participate in Crazy for Books' Blog Hop for a while, and this week I finally managed to squeeze in a bit of time to make it happen.

Here's some info about the Hop from
Crazy for Books:

In the spirit of the Friday Follow, I thought it would be cool to do a Book Blogger Hop to give us all bookies a chance to connect and find new blogs that we may be missing out on! So, I created this weekly BOOK PARTY where book bloggers and readers can connect to find new blogs to read, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs that they may not know existed! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start PARTYING!!

Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.

If you start following someone through the Hop, leave a comment on their blog to let them know! Stop back during the week to see other blogs that are added! And, most importantly, the idea is to HAVE FUN!!

On your blog hop post, tell us about some of the other great blogs you've found while Hopping around!
It's still early so there aren't too many other bloggers signed up for the week, but I'll check back later to see who else has signed up and I look forward to discovering some new blogs to follow.

And if this sounds like something that you would like to participate in, you can check it out here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friday Quotes

Posted by Simcha 10:40 PM, under | 10 comments

I discovered my love for quotes during tenth grade geometry, when I found a book of quotes on the bookshelf that was right by my seat. I started reading this book every day during class and was soon hooked on to quotes (though I fell behind in geometry). I do still enjoy collecting quotes, and so this week I thought I would share some of my favorite non-literary ones with you.



Don't be so humble... you're not that great
~ Golda Meir

Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional
~ Chili Davis

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
~ Mark Twain

It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
~ Mark Twain

Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you'll be a mile away and have his shoes.
~ Jack Handy

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
~ Douglas Adams

When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them
~ Rodney Dangerfield

Don't take life too seriously; you'll never get out of it alive
~ Elbert Hubbard

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work... I want to achieve it through not dying.
~ Woody Allen

It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens.
~ Woody Allen

If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
~Arthur McAuliff

The Conqueror’s Shadow by Ari Marmell

Posted by Simcha 5:52 AM, under | 5 comments

I’d never heard of Ari Marmell until I saw him mentioned on another author’s blog and his Jewish sounding name immediately drew my attention (what can I say, It’s the way we are. Jews get overly excited to find other Jews in unexpected places, and then we spend hours grilling each other on possible mutual acquaintances). So I followed a link back to Marmell’s website where I discovered that he had just published a book, and it actually sounded really interesting.

They called him the Terror of the East. His past shrouded in mystery, his identity hidden beneath a suit of enchanted black armor and a skull-like helm, Corvis Rebaine carved a bloody path through Imphallion, aided by Davro, a savage ogre, and Seilloah, a witch with a taste for human flesh. No shield or weapon could stop his demon-forged axe. And no magic could match the spells of his demon slave, Khanda.Yet just when ultimate victory was in his grasp, Rebaine faltered. His plans of conquest, born from a desire to see Imphallion governed with firmness and honesty, shattered. Amid the chaos of a collapsing army, Rebaine vanished, taking only a single hostage—the young noblewoman Tyannon—to guarantee his escape.

Seventeen years later, Rebaine and Tyannon are married, living in obscurity and raising their children, a daughter and a son. Rebaine has put his past behind him, given up his dreams of conquest. Not even news of Audriss—an upstart warlord following Rebaine’s old path of conquest—can stir the retired warrior to action.

Until his daughter is assaulted by Audriss’s goons.

Now, to rescue the country he once tried to conquer, Rebaine once more dons the armor of the Terror of the East and seeks out his former allies. But Davro has become a peaceful farmer. Seilloah has no wish to leave her haunted forest home. And Khanda . . . well, to describe his feelings for his former master as undying hatred would be an understatement.

But even if Rebaine can convince his onetime comrades to join him, he faces a greater challenge: Does he dare to reawaken the part of him that gloried in cruelty, blood, and destruction? With the safety of his family at stake, can he dare not to?

I really enjoy fantasy books that play around with classical elements of fantasy while adding unique twists, and this is what really drew me to read The Conqueror’s Shadow.
While it included many characteristics that you would expect to find in standard fantasy, such as witches, ogres, magical weapons and enchanted forests, it is unusual in that it tells the story from the perspective of a retired villain, one who has exchanged his ambitions of rulership for a quiet family life.

In the book’s prologue we get a look at the dark side of Corvis Rebain, as he and his army ruthlessly slaughter the residents of a city in order to reach a particular object located there. When Corvis’s plans fall through, he grabs a young woman nearby as a hostage and makes his escape, leaving behind a city full of death and destruction.

When we next meet Corvis he has been transformed into a peaceful land owner with a loving wife and two young children. This new Corvis is quite likable and readers will find themselves quickly warming up to him. But when Corvis is forced to don his armor once again, we discover that the old Corvis is not so far away. It’s then that the reader comes to realize how blurred the line between hero and villain really is.

As Corvis goes about planning his new campaign, the reader is treated to brief flashbacks of some particular events from the past that led to Corvis’s earlier dreams of conquest. We are also given glimpses into the events following Corvis’s retreat after his failed attack and the development of his relationship with his hostage, who later became his wife. These glimpses of the past help fill in some of the back story, allowing us to understand some of the different characters and their motivations.

In many ways The Conqueror’s Shadow fulfilled my expectations quite satisfactorily, but in some aspects I found myself a little let down. I really enjoyed the unique perspective the story gives and the questions it brings up about heroes and villains, but this approach doesn’t seem to extend to all the characters, particularly not the true villain who in the end succumbs to typical villain-like behavior. I had also expected some of the other characters to be explored in a bit more depth, particularly some of Corvis’s enemies, and I was disappointed that we never really get inside their heads.

I also felt that the flashbacks ended a bit too soon for me to really get the full picture that they were intended to provide. The first set of flashbacks ended before really showing readers what had actually set Corvis off on his plans of conquest and the second set didn’t offer as much of an explanation as I would have liked for how Corvis’s hostage ended up as his wife. So when the book concluded I still felt that there were some pieces missing from the story, which bothered me somewhat.

There were parts of the book that lagged a bit, particularly towards the middle, but the book ended with some interesting surprises and an action packed climax, that I found quite satisfying.

Marmell also does an interesting job balancing the darkness of the story with humor, resulting in a somewhat lighthearted feel, despite the grim events in the tale.

    The trapdoor shot open as though spring-loaded. A sudden burst of musty air puffed into the closet, the cloud of dust rising above him, an enraged spirit awakened from what was supposed to have been eternal slumber.
    But when the dust cleared, when his eyes adjusted to the darkness within the small alcove, he saw only what he expected to see. A black drop cloth over a large chest.

    And within that chest ...

    An axe. A suit of black armor, spiked, plated with bone. And a helm formed to evoke an iron-banded skull.

    Shaking violently as a newborn calf, Corvis lifted the helm from its place in the chest, where it had lain untouched for years. The jaw gaped open as he lifted it up, as though the skull itself were greeting him. Corvis gazed intently into the sockets, examining the dark strips of iron crossing the face and continuing around the head. He glanced down at the armor itself, saw his reflection, though blurred, in the dusty black plates, saw the thin spines jutting from the cuirass. He pondered, in his mind's eye, the image the entire ensemble must have projected.
    And though he fought to keep it away, one specific thought kept returning, over and over again, to the forefront of his mind:

    What the hell was I thinking? I must've looked like a world-class idiot in this thing!

Unfortunately though, Marmell overdid the sarcastic comments which began to get irritating when every character always seemed to have a witty comment or retort on hand. I hope that in the sequel, The Warlord’s Lament, Marmell will cut back on these and perhaps limit the sarcastic barbs to just one or two of the characters.

Overall, The Conqueror's Shadow is a well-told story that provides an entertaining read that I believe many fans of fantasy will enjoy. While it has its faults, it’s also enjoyable enough that those faults may be overlooked for the pleasure of the story as a whole.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gamestation Customers Inadvertantly Sell Their Souls

Posted by Simcha 10:03 AM, under | 6 comments

I just came across this news item, which although is a couple of weeks old, is still amusing enough to post for those of you that have missed it.


On April 1st, 7,500 Gamestation customers sold their souls while purchasing items from the Gamestation website. On that fateful day, the company's sales contract included a special "immortal soul clause," which most customers did not bother to carefully read:

    By placing an order via this web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul,” reads the terms and conditions. Gamestation adds that when they arrive to take your soul, “We reserve the right to serve such notice in 6 (six) foot high letters of fire.

Customers were given the option to keep their souls, by filling in the check box, but only 12% of shoppers opted to do so. These people were rewarded with a gift voucher and a ticket to an online raffle, and of course, the guarantee (or at least the probability) of eternal salvation.

Let that be a lesson to anyone who neglects to read the fine print.

And while Gamestation claims that they will be returning all their newly acquired souls, I personally have my doubts. I mean, whose to know if they return the souls or not. Would people really notice if their soul is missing?

Just something to think about...

Read more about it here and here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Interview with Peter Brett

Posted by Simcha 5:17 PM, under | 8 comments

I'm delighted to present to you today an interview with one of my favorite fantasy authors, Peter Brett. Peter's newest book, The Desert Spear, was released last week in the UK and will be available in US bookstores tomorrow. The Desert Spear is the second book in the Demon series and since I've already read it I can honestly tell you that it's really fantastic (and I'm not just saying that because Peter's here)

So Peter, you’ve been working hard to keep The Desert Spear's storyline under wraps as much as possible, but are there any particular tidbits about the plot or characters that you would be willing to share with eager fans?

Sure. With regards to my secrecy, it’s mainly protectiveness towards my readers. Personally, I hate spoilers. I’ve been known to bite the still-blabbing heads off of people who comment on things to come in a book I’m not finished reading, and I’ve threatened to feed people to the demons for putting LOST spoilers in their facebook/twitter status updates. I read forewords last, and never read reviews of the books on my TBR shelf.

I think many writers would agree that when they write a book, they very carefully pace the flow of information to the reader in order to maximize tension and present a smooth exciting narrative that is full of surprises. That manuscript is the pure form of how we want the story told. Everything else is marketing.

I want as much as possible to preserve that pure form, but I’ve also made a point of giving away excerpts, usually from the earliest sections of each character arc, to let readers have a taste of what’s to come without lessening the experience. They can be found on the blogs Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, A Dribble of Ink, and the Random House website.

What I can say about the book, spoiler-free, is that The Desert Spear is a darker and more complex story than The Warded Man, both by design and a natural evolution of my writing style. Much as the first book detailed the lives of Arlen, Renna, and Rojer, The Desert Spear gives a deep look into the struggles of two relatively minor characters from The Warded Man, Ahmann Jardir and Renna Tanner. Telling their side of the story broadens the landscape and challenges some preconceived notions readers might have after The Warded Man.

There are also long sections in the point of view of Arlen, Leesha, and Rojer, continuing to follow these characters as they grow, and giving insight into some of the “lost years” of their past.

In The Warded Man you built the foundation for your story by introducing a new world and the characters that populate it, and in The Desert Spear the story takes off, right from the beginning, building on its predecessor. Is the experience of writing the first book in a series, where everything is fresh and new, very different from writing the following books?

Not really, because I think each book has its own rhythm and personality, and finding it is always a fresh and new experience. In some ways, each progressive book in a series can be more restrictive to write, because you are not able to contradict anything you have written before, but in other ways, the previous books are very freeing, providing a firm foundation upon which to add new and exciting layers of interpersonal dynamic and politics.

The Desert Spear also has new POV characters, which helps to keep things exciting. I think as I build an ensemble cast for the series, things will seldom get boring, because I will always be able to jump into the head of a new character with great deeds still ahead of them.

Did the fact that The Desert Spear is a darker book make writing it more difficult?

The Desert Spear was a more difficult book to write because of its size and complexity, but not because it was dark. It was always my intention to start out with a comfortable and easily accessible starting point in The Warded Man, and then take the series in a more complex and mature direction. That shift really freed my hands in a lot of ways, allowing me to confront some issues that were tiptoed around in the first book.

I know that authors are often influenced by some of the books they read or movies that they see during the time that they are working on a book. Was your writing influenced at all by any outside media while you were working on The Desert Spear?

I didn’t read or go out to the movies nearly as much while writing the second book, mainly because we had a new baby in the house, and every moment not spent writing was spent helping take care of her. It left me with very little leisure time.

I think my strongest influences for The Desert Spear were probably Shogun, by James
Clavell, and Frank Miller’s graphic novel, 300. Both books introduced a strict warrior culture guided by principles of honor and glory, with proud death in battle being the greatest honor a warrior could dream of. I watched the 300 movie with a wicked glee, glorying in all that spear fighting and the beautiful shield formations. I also listened a lot to Loreena McKennit’s album An Ancient Muse.

Another movie with excellent spear-fighting, by the way, is Troy, which rises above being a Brad Pitt/Orlando Bloom vehicle at times.

You mentioned in another blog interview that the Krasian tribe of fierce desert
warriors in your books was inspired largely by the samurai culture of Medieval Japan, but I myself couldn't help making comparisons to what I know of the Islamic culture, as I'm sure many others will as well.

In The Desert Spear, in particular, we get to know more about these men, whose sole purpose is to give their lives to the destruction of demons, thereby receiving eternal rewards in the afterlife. These characters strongly, and eerily, reminded me of modern-day suicide bombers and I was wondering what kind of research did you do in order to portray such characters so realistically?

The Krasians started as an amalgam of many cultures, and have become a people unique unto themselves in my mind. They are not meant to be a commentary on any real-world cultures, and readers seeking to find hidden politics written between the lines will likely be disappointed.

That said, I am a New Yorker, and was in Manhattan on September 11. My wife’s parents were in the Trade Center when the planes struck, and it was hours before we knew if they were safe. The themes of fear/helplessness and the way it affects people that are prevalent in
The Warded Man were a reflection of what I and others I knew went through that day.

I’ve always been a student of mythology and religion, and after the attacks I spent a lot of time pondering religious extremism, and it’s something I try to explore in my writing.

It’s interesting to note that the concepts of martyrdom and rewards in the afterlife are in no way unique to any one culture or part of the world. The Vikings believed a glorious death in battle would win their way into Valhalla, the resting place of heroes, while cowards went to Hel. The ancient Greeks had similar beliefs about Elysium and Hades. The path of Christ
ianity is filled with martyrs and crusaders rewarded in Heaven and sinners sent to Hell. In fact, if you follow Christianity, Judaism, and Islam back to their common root, Abraham, you find a man whose faith was so strong he was willing to sacrifice his own son at God’s command.

With regards to samurai, take this quote from the Hakagure, which was something of a guide book for samurai behavior:

    Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one's body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku (ritual suicide) at the death of one's master. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead.

It’s easy to see how this mindset affected a samurai’s worldview, and evolved into things like the Kamikaze fighter pilots of WWII. I considered all these sources, as well as others, as I developed the mindset of the Krasian warrior caste.

While writing the scenes involving the Krasians did you find yourself holding back at all in consideration of possible negative feedback, as certain parts of The Desert Spear will probably strike sensitive chords with some of your readers.

Not really. I didn’t really pull any punches about some of the abhorrent things the Krasians do, but I think I also did a good job of balancing that by showing the circumstances by which their society evolved, and the real sense of faith, honor, and protection of humanity that are the culture’s foundation. It’s very easy in writing (and real life) to dehumanize your antagonists without truly understanding them. My goal in setting the first 200 or so pages of the book in Krasia was to show the reader that there was a level of complexity there that they might not have seen in the first book.

That said, there was one incident of Jardir striking a woman that was cut from the final draft after consultation with my editor. It’s the only time I can think of where I cut something I thought was in character due to outside pressure, but it was a relatively minor point in the grand scheme of things.

And going ba
ck to my question about research, did you do any particular kind of research in order to get into the heads of individuals who were part of these warrior societies, in creating Jardir and the other Krasians in such a realistic manner?

I read Sun Tzu’s Art of War, and The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, as well as accounts of King Leonidas of Sparta’s war with Xerxes and Skaka Zulu’s conquest of Africa. I also did a fair amount of research into world religions, but that’s always been a hobby of mine. I have a nicely growing collection of the Men-at-Arms and Warrior books from Osprey publishing, which are wonderful references for historical arms and armor. I also use Wikipedia all the time to answer quick research questions.

The wards, which are the humans’ main defense against demons,
are an essential part of the books and I was curious as to why no physical descriptions of the wards themselves, or any explanations of how they are drawn, are included in any of the stories

I try in general not to over-describe things in my books. I think a core part of the reading experience is the reader’s use of their own imagination to visualize some of the characters or other aspects of the world, including the wards. Besides, the wards have been illustrated in almost every edition of the book worldwide.

I have detailed notes on how the warding magic system works, but until there is a need to include that information in the story, it would just be extraneous information that would bore most readers and reduce overall tension. The Daylight War and the subsequent stories will continue to explore the magic system and add depth to t
he reader as needed. Magic is returning to the world after a long absence, and it will have a large part to play in the war with the corelings.

Authors often receive suggestions and advice from their readers, sometimes directly and other times through book reviews. I was curious if you ever implement some of the suggestions or critiques that you receive from your readers or that you come across in reviews.

I do read every review, great and small, kind and kicking. I am constantly working to improve my craft as a writer, and will think deeply on any good points in negative reviews to see if I can learn from them. The influence of these sorts of things is relatively small, though. Most of my critiquing is internal, or from a small but sharp-tongued group of beta-readers I can trust to think deeply and pull no punches.

How long did the writing of each of your previous books take and when can we expect to see the com
pletion of your next book (in other words, how long do I have to wait to get my hands on The Daylight War?)

Ha. I honestly don’t know. The Warded Man took me about seven years to write, but it was something I was working on in my spare time while I had a separate career and an active social life. The Desert Spear took three and a half years to write, but some of that overlapped with work on The Warded Man, and it was done while working from home in a 2 bedroom apartment with a newborn baby.

I am hoping to turn The Daylight War around in approximately half the time of The Desert Spear, but I’m not making any promises. The book is coming along very well at the moment and promises to be my best work yet, but it is still in an early prose stage, and there may be unforeseen pitfalls to come. I will not sacrifice quality for speed.

Regarding your recent publication of The Great Bazaar, a collection of short stories about Arlen and some of his experiences off-scene during The Warded Man, where exactly did these stories come from? Were they deleted scenes that didn't make it into the final novel or separate creations that you went back and wrote after the publications of your books? Do you plan to publish additional such novelettes?

The title story of
The Great Bazaar is an entirely new tale that was written well after I finished The Warded Man and had started The Desert Spear. In order to keep the pacing the way I wanted it in the first book, I left some large gaps in the lives of the characters. There were two points in the novel where a section ends and then the next one picks up several years later.

Some of these gaps are childhood periods of schooling that weren’t where I wanted the story to go, but there were others that I always imagined to be full of adventure, like Rojer’s years as an itinerant Jongleur, and the 3+ years that Arlen worked as a Messenger, traveling to every major city on the map, and hunting through ancient ruins in his spare time. These are fertile periods for storytelling, and I always meant to get back to them, in part with future novels (as with some scenes in
The Desert Spear) and in part with novellas like The Great Bazaar.

Bazaar started as a backup story for a deluxe version of
The Painted Man in the UK. I was very proud of how it turned out, but that deluxe edition was shelved indefinitely, and I ended up sitting on the story for almost a year before I found a new home for it. The other two stories in the book were large deleted scenes from The Warded Man, along with some supplemental materials on wards and a Krasian dictionary.

The Great Bazaar is meant to be a companion book to The Desert Spear, and I think it adds a lot, but I think it also works as a standalone book to introduce readers to my work. One of my favorite aspects of the book are the discussions about the writing process included with the deleted scenes, showing why I decided it was better for the overall book to cut them even thought I thought they were really good. There are several more of these (with commentary) on my website:

There is another Arlen Messenger novella entitled
Brayan’s Gold which is already written and will be published by Subterranean Press in their Tales of Dark Fantasy 2 anthology later this year. The story is included in the German translation of The Great Bazaar, which is on sale now. I have a full plate at the moment, but I intend to do more shorts as time allows.

While novellas seem like a great way to keep readers satiated while waiting for your next novel (and considering the book has been sold out, it appears to have been a great success), don't they take away from time otherwise spent writing your next book?

I usually work on the shorts in my “down” time, when I am feeling a little burnt out on a novel and need a break, or when I have sent the novel to my test readers/agent/editor for commentary. Large epic fantasy novels can be very draining to write, and take years (at least for me) to finish. It’s nice and mentally refreshing to work on something that I can finish in a few weeks and share with readers.

Of course, I seem to have less and less down time as my career progresses…

Now that you are a successful author you get to rub elbows with some of the hotshots in the literary world. Is there anyone that you were particularly excited to get to meet?

Lots of people. I am still a fan at heart, so sometimes it’s hard to keep my composure at times like that. I met Robert Jordan twice before he died, and both experiences were quite memorable. At a World Fantasy Convention party a couple of years ago, someone asked me to pass the chips, and I turned around to find that it was George RR Martin. I’m pretty sure I stuttered through the entire conversation that followed.

At New York ComicCon in 2008, I got to meet Terry Brooks when the Editorial Director of our mutual publisher Del Rey Books introduced us so that I could ask Terry to read (and possibly blurb) The Warded Man. It was a business meeting and I suppose I should have been professional, but instead I brought my copy of The Elfstones of Shannara, begged him to sign it, and gushed like a fanboy. Terry did end up reading the book, and gave an incredible review that has adorned my book jackets ever since.

It’s also been great getting to know my peers in the current generation of fantasy writers, which is a bumper crop of amazing talent. Brent Weeks and I were like buddy cops at WFC last year crashing Gail Carriger’s Soulless launch party, and I’ve been enjoying corresponding with great writers like Pat Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, and Blake Charlton.

Wow, that's so awesome! Man, what I would give to pass the chips to George Martin...

There is a question that I have been wondering about for a while and since I saw you mention on your website that The Warded Man had been optioned for film, I thought I would take the opportunity to ask you about it.

So why is it that authors are so enthusiastic about having their books made into movies? While I understand that a movie brings worldwide attention to the book that it is based on, the movie is rarely as good as the book and people therefore make assumptions about the books without having ever read them. I know a number of people who have decided that certain books are not worth reading because they didn't enjoy the movies made off of them. And I would assume that after putting so much time and effort into writing a book, authors would be weary of having the stories that they worked so hard on tampered with by film makers.

That’s a good question, and I think the answer varies for everyone. From a purely practical standpoint, you can’t put a price on the attention it brings to one’s work to have a major motion picture made. I think for everyone who chooses not to buy the book because the films were bad, there are a great many readers who would never have heard of the book otherwise, and are willing to take a chance on it. Anything that garners more readers try my work is wonderful in and of itself.

But beyond that, for all the bad movie adaptations out there, there are also some really great ones. Beyond the obvious Lord of the Rings movies, you have things like The Road, Watchmen, or the Harry Potter films, not to mention some of the incredible films that have been coming out based on Marvel Comics. I also have really high hopes for the HBO show based on George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.

I didn’t sell the movie rights to my material causally. There were several interested parties, and in every situation I was very defensive and protective of my baby. I grilled director Paul WS Anderson for hours about his vision for the films and what he liked about the books before we even talked about actually making a deal. Paul really impressed me with his love and respect for the source material and his desire to show the overriding themes in the adaptation. In addition, I’ve been on set with him and seen how hard he works. I think the books are in good hands, and the movies are going to be awesome.

And if not, so what? The books on my shelf, my legacy to the world after I’m gone, will be unchanged.

Well, that's a pretty good answer and congratulations on your movie deal. Although I'm generally weary of books adapted to film, this does sound like an exciting project and I look forward to seeing the results.

Thank you so much Peter for taking the time to answer all my questions, especially with your busy writing and book touring schedule.

For more information about Peter Brett visit

Instructions read by Neil Gaiman

Posted by Simcha 3:56 PM, under | 7 comments

Neil Gaiman's children's book, Instructions, is scheduled to be released later this month, and in this delightful video you can listen to the story read by Neil Gaiman himself, as well as watch the drawings come to life as they are colored in by the book's talented artist, Charles Vess.

New Releases: Week Of April 11th

Posted by Simcha 6:18 AM, under | 3 comments

This is a big week for Peter Brett fans as his newest novel, The Desert Spear, will finally be available in bookstores this Tuesday. There are also a couple of new PNR releases, from Gene Showalter and Kelly Armstrong, along with a bunch of new Science Fiction titles that look like they could be interesting.

One title in particular that caught my attention this week is A Life in Letters; a collection of correspondences between George Orwell and his friends and family spanning his lifetime, from his childhood to his final days.

Any new releases that you're particularly excited about?

Hope you have a great reading week!

Title: Tales of the Otherworld
Author: Kelly Armstrong
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Bantam
Release Date: April 13
Description: New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong has bewitched audiences with her Otherworld series of supernatural thrillers. Now, in this new collection of shorter fiction, some of Armstrong’s most tantalizing lead characters appear alongside her unforgettable supporting players, who step out of the shadows and into the light.

Have you ever wondered how lone wolf Clayton Danvers finally got bitten by the last thing he ever expected: love? Or how the hot-blooded bad-girl witch Eve Levine managed to ensnare the cold, ruthless corporate sorcerer Kristof Nast in one of the Otherworld’s most unlikely pairings? Would you like to be a fly on the wall at the wedding of Lucas Cortez and Paige Winterbourne as their eminently practical plans are upended by their well-meaning friends? Or tag along with Lucas and Paige as they investigate a gruesome crime that looks to be the work of a rogue vampire?
Now devotees of the Otherworld can share these special moments with some of their favorite characters—as well as discovering deeper insights into the lives of some of the lesser-known players. But even readers new to the

Otherworld universe will find much to love in these seven tales of friendship, adventure, and enduring romance. For when the superhuman men and women of the Otherworld set their minds to a task, they do so with fierce passion and an undivided sense of purpose that make them, in the end, very much human.

Title: The Desert Spear (Demon Trilogy, Book 2)
Author: Peter V. Brett
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: April 13
Description: The sun is setting on humanity. The night now belongs to voracious demons that arise as the sun sets, preying upon a dwindling population forced to cower behind ancient and half-forgotten symbols of power. These wards alone can keep the demons at bay, but legends tell of a Deliverer: a general—some would say prophet—who once bound all mankind into a single force that defeated the demons. Those times, if they ever existed, are long past. The demons are back, and the return of the Deliverer is just another myth . . . or is it?

Out of the desert rides Ahmann Jardir, who has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army. He has proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer, and he carries ancient weapons—a spear and a crown—that give credence to his claim. Sworn to follow the path of the first Deliverer, he has come north to bring the scattered city-states of the green lands together in a war against demonkind—whether they like it or not.

But the northerners claim their own Deliverer. His name was Arlen, but all know him now as the Warded Man: a dark, forbidding figure whose skin is tattooed with wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. The Warded Man denies that he is the Deliverer, but his actions speak louder than words, for he teaches men and women to face their fears and stand fast against the creatures that have tormented them for centuries.

Once the Shar’Dama Ka and the Warded Man were friends, brothers in arms. Now they are fierce adversaries. Caught between them are Renna, a young woman pushed to the edge of human endurance; Leesha, a proud and beautiful healer whose skill in warding surpasses that of the Warded Man himself; and Rojer, a traveling fiddler whose uncanny music can soothe the demons—or stir them into such frenzy that they attack one another.

Yet as old allegiances are tested and fresh alliances forged, all are blissfully unaware of the appearance of a new breed of demon, more intelligent—and deadly—than any that have come before.

Title: Up Jim River
Author: Michael Flynn
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: April 13
Description: Hugo Award finalist and Robert A. Heinlein Award-winning SF writer Michael Flynn returns to space opera with Up Jim River. There is a river on Dangchao Waypoint, a small world out beyond Die Bold. It is a longish river as such things go, with a multitude of bayous and rapids and waterfalls, and it runs through many a strange and hostile country. Going up it, you can lose everything.

Going up it, you can find anything. The Hound Bridget ban has vanished and her employer, the Kennel (the mysterious superspy agency of the League) has given up the search. But her daughter, the harper Mearana, has not. She enlists the scarred man, Donovan, to aid her in her search. With the reluctant assent and financial aid of the Kennel, they set forth. Bridget ban was following hints of an artifact that would “protect the League from the Confederacy for aye.” Mearana is eager to follow that trail, but Donovan is reluctant, because whatever is at the end of it made a Hound disappear. What it would do to a harper and a drunk is far too easy to imagine.

Donovan’s mind had been shattered by Those of Name, the rulers of the Confederacy, and no fewer than seven quarreling personalities now inhabit his skull. How can he hope to see her through safely? Together, they follow Bridget ban’s trail to the raw worlds of the frontier, edging ever closer to the uncivilized and barbarian planets of the Wild.

Title: Saltation
Author: Sharon Lee, Steve Miller
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Baen:
Release Date: April 13
Description: Theo Waitley is a Nexus of Violence
Thrust mid-year into a school for pilots far from the safe haven of her birth home on scholarly Delgado, young Theo Waitley excels in hands-on flying while finding that she's behind the curve in social intricacies as well as in math.
After surviving a mid-air emergency with a spectacular mountain-top landing in her training soar plane Theo's notoriety brings her attention from local thugs as well as a gift from Win Ton, a scout pilot she enjoyed a flirtation with on her first space voyage. When Win Ton appears on campus Theo throws herself into a relationship even as he's on his way to a Liaden marriage-bed.
Meanwhile her mentors try to guide her studies and training into the channels best suited to her special abilitiesand inclinations, including suggesting that she should joim in the off-world studenty association, a plan resulting in mixed success. After a series of confrontations, fights, and ultimately a riot after which she is thanked for not killing anyone, Theo is named a "nexus of violence" by the school's administration.
Facing suspension and carrying little more than hastily procured guild card, a pistol taken from an attacker, and the contents of her pants pockets, Theo must quickly decide if she's ready to return to Delgado in disgrace, or launch herself into the universe as a freelance pilot with credentials she's already earned.

Title: The Lotus Eaters
Author: Tom Kratman
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Baen
Release Date: April 13
Description: Sometimes paranoia is just a heightened state of awareness.
Carrera's won his war, and inflicted a horrific revenge upon his enemies. But there are wars after wars. The Tauran Union is planning an attack. The criminals of neighboring states are already attacking, and threatening to embroil him in a war with the planet's premier power. His only living son is under fire among the windswept mountains of Pashtia. An enemy fleet is hunting his submarines. His organization has been infiltrated by spies. One of the two governments of his adopted country, Balboa, is trying to destroy everything he's built and reinstitute rule by a corrupt oligarchy. Worst of all, perhaps, he, himself, bearing a crushing burden of guilt, isn't quite the man he once was.
Fortunately, the man he once was, was lucky enough to marry the right woman....

Title: A Mighty Fortress (Safehold Book 4)
Author: David Webber
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: April 13
Description: Young Cayleb Ahrmahk has accomplished things few people could even dream of. Not yet even thirty years old, he’s won the most crushing naval victories in human history. He’s smashed a hostile alliance of no less than five princedoms and won the hand of the beautiful young Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm. Cayleb and Sharleyan have created the Charisian Empire, the greatest naval power in the history of Safehold, and they’ve turned Charis into a place of refuge for all who treasure freedom.

Their success may prove short-lived. The Church of God Awaiting, which controls most of Safehold, has decreed their destruction. Mother Church’s entire purpose is to prevent the very things to which Charis is committed. Since the first attempt to crush the heretics failed, the Church has no choice but to adopt some of the hated Charisian innovations for themselves. Soon a mighty fleet will sail against Cayleb, destroying everything in its path.

But there are still matters about which the Church knows nothing, including Cayleb and Sharleyan’s adviser, friend, and guardian— the mystic warrior-monk named Merlin Athrawes. Merlin knows all about battles against impossible odds, because he is in fact the cybernetic avatar of a young woman named Nimue Alban, who died a thousand years before. As Nimue, Merlin saw the entire Terran Federation go down in fire and slaughter at the hands of a foe it could not defeat. He knows that Safehold is the last human planet in existence, and that the stasis the Church was created to enforce will be the human race’s death sentence if it is allowed to stand.

The juggernaut is rumbling down on Charis, but Merlin Athrawes and a handful of extraordinary human beings stand in its path. The Church is about to discover just how potent the power of human freedom truly is.

Title: A Life in Letters
Author: George Orwell
Genre: Biography
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Release Date: April 15 (UK)
Description: George Orwell was a tireless and lively correspondent. He communicated with family members, friends and newspapers, figures such as Henry Miller, Cyril Connolly, Stephen Spender and Arthur Koestler, and strangers who wrote to him out of the blue. This carefully selected volume of his correspondence provides an eloquent narrative of Orwell's life, from his schooldays to his final illness. Orwell's letters afford a unique and fascinating view of his thoughts on matters both personal, political and much in between, from poltergeists, to girls' school songs and the art of playing croquet. In a note home to his mother from school, he reports having 'aufel fun after tea'; much later he writes of choosing a pseudonym and smuggling a copy of Ulysses into the country. We catch illuminating glimpses of his family life: his son Richard's developing teeth, the death of his wife Eileen and his own illness. His talent as a political writer comes to the fore in his descriptions of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, his opinions on bayonets, and on the chaining of German prisoners. And of course, letters to friends and his publisher chart the development and publication of some of the most famous novels in the English language, providing unparalleled insight into his views on his own work and that of his contemporaries. "A Life in Letters" features previously unpublished material, including letters which shed new light on a love that would haunt him for his whole life, as well as revealing the inspiration for some of his most famous characters. Presented for the first time in a dedicated volume, this selection of Orwell's letters is an indispensable companion to his diaries.

Title: New Model Army
Author: Adam Roberts
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Gollancz
Release Date: April 15
Description: Adam Roberts' new novel is a terrifying vision of a near future war - a civil war that tears the UK apart as new technologies allow the worlds first truly democratic army to take on the British army and wrest control from the powers that be. Taking advances in modern communication and the new eagerness for power from the bottom upwards Adam Roberts has produced a novel that is at once an exciting war novel and a philosophical examination of war and democracy. It shows one of the UKs most exciting and innovative literary voices working at the height of his powers and investing SF with literary significance that is its due.

Title: Dark Beginnings
Author: Gena Showalter
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Mira
Release Date: April 16
Description: This title includes three new stories from "New York Times" bestselling author Gena Showalter. "The Darkest Fire" - He is the guardian of Hell, more monster than man. She is the goddess of oppression, more angel than woman. Together they will enter the flames to battle a horde of demon lords - and discover a passion unlike any other...Discover the origins of Pandora's box and the demon spirits trapped within. "The Darkest Prison" - passion and danger collide in this brand-new Lords of the Underworld adventure! Once, Atlas, the Titan god of Strength, was the Greek goddess Nike's slave. Now, he is her master. And soon these sworn enemies destined to destroy one another will be forced to risk everything for a chance at love. "The Darkest Angel" - An iron-willed demon assassin, the angel Lysander has never known lust - until he meets Bianka. Spawned from the bloodline of Lucifer, the beautiful but deadly Harpy is determined to lead the purehearted Lysander into temptation.


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