Tuesday, 31 August 2010

FANTASY REVIEW: The Black Prism (Lightbringer 1) - Brent Weeks

Release Date: 02/09/10


The start of a brand new trilogy from the New York Times bestselling author of THE WAY OF SHADOWS. Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: Five years to achieve five impossible goals. But when Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he's willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.


After emerging onto the fantasy scene with his Night Angel trilogy, readers have wondered what Brent Weeks would hit back with as a follow up. Yes, we knew that he could envision an epic world, yes we know that he could create descent characters and yes we also knew that he could write an adventure to keep you glued over the subsequent novels. However, the real quest that the readers wanted answered was: Is he a one world, one series author and would his next project expand on his creativity?

What unfurls is a rich new tapestry where Weeks takes magic into a new direction where colours rule in a different way to Gemmell’s (in his novel Knights of Dark Renown.) The characters are memorable and whilst a certain amount of this first title is world building and setting the subsequent releases in the series up, it doesn’t feel like an info dump and really does bring the world to the reader through the eyes of the character Kip . If you know a fan of fantasy, then this title will get you extra bonus points. It’s fresh, it’s vivid but above all else the politics alongside the action, both melee and magical really draws the reader into the novels snare. Great stuff.

FANTASY REVIEW: Temeraire: Tongue of Serpents - Naomi Novik

Release Date: 24/06/10


Naomi Novik's stunning series of novels follow the global adventures of Captain William Laurence and his fighting dragon Temeraire as they are thrown together to fight for Britain during the turbulent time of the Napoleonic Wars. Laurence and Temeraire have been banished from the country they've fought so hard to protect - and the friends they have made in the British Aerial Corps. Found guilty of treason, man and dragon have been deported to Australia to start a new life and many new adventures.


As a long time fan of Novik’s Napoleonic dragon series, I really can’t wait for each title to land. In this case the heroic duo’s tale of exile in Australia due to the events in the previous offering.

Whilst the adventure was there and the familiar characters warm the readers emotions alongside memory, this is perhaps the weakest of the series to date as not much happens. I really hope that Laurence and Temeraire’s next outing improves as I’d hate ot see what started with a bang end with a damp squib.

FANTASY REVIEW: Monarchies of God 3-5: The Century of the Solidier - Paul Kearney

Release Date: 24/06/10


THE TIME OF THE WOLF IS AT HAND... Struck down in his moment of victory, Hebrion's young King Abeleyn lies in a coma, his city in ruins and his fiancée and former lover vying for the throne. Corfe Cear-Inaf, now a colonel, is given a ragtag command of ill-equipped savages and sent on a hopeless mission by a jealous King who expects him to fail. Richard Hawkwood and Lord Murad return bearing news of horror on a savage new continent, with something terrible lurking in the hold. The Church is tearing itself apart, even as the champions of truth fight to bring peace between Ramusian and Merduk; but in the far West, a terrible new threat is rearing its head... The Century of the Soldier collects the final three books in Paul Kearney's explosive The Monarchies of God series, revised and expanded for this edition: The Iron Wars, The Second Empire and Ships From The West.


OK, you’ve heard great things about this author’s Monarchies of God quintent and you’ve just devoured the first omnibus release by Solaris but are impatient for the next part, well worry no longer as the next three titles are released here. As with the first compendium it’s beautifully put together, the authors writing style is strong and where some felt that the final offering was a bit choppy, the author has gone back and tidied it up for this edition. It’s a real gem and talk about value for money, you really can’t be bit for what you’d have paid for all five of these titles in this incarnation.

Monday, 30 August 2010

NEWS: Sherrilyn Kenyon Book Trailer

Hail Might Readers,
Our friends at Zeitghost have let us know about the book trailer for Sherrilyn Kenyon's forthcoming title, No Mercy. To view the trailer please go here.

To keep up to date with Sherrilyn's news please visit her website here.

Falcata Times review of the title will be appearing on the 8th September 2010.

Thank you,


URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Anatomy of Ghosts - Andrew Taylor

Release Date: 02/09/10


1786, Jerusalem College Cambridge. The ghost of Sylvia Whichcote is rumoured to be haunting Jerusalem since disturbed fellow-commoner, Frank Oldershaw, claims to have seen the dead woman prowling the grounds. Desperate to salvage her son's reputation, Lady Anne Oldershaw employs John Holdsworth, author of The Anatomy of Ghosts - a stinging account of why ghosts are mere delusion - to investigate. But his arrival in Cambridge disrupts an uneasy status quo as he glimpses a world of privilege and abuse, where the sinister Holy Ghost Club governs life at Jerusalem more effectively than the Master, Dr Carbury, ever could. And when Holdsworth finds himself haunted - not only by the ghost of his dead wife, Maria, but also Elinor, the very-much-alive Master's wife - his fate is sealed. He must find Sylvia's murderer or the hauntings will continue. And not one of them will leave the claustrophobic confines of Jerusalem unchanged.


As a huge reader of the genre, there are times when you wonder what you have let yourself in for as new novels blaze their own way across the preconceived mythos that has gone before. Such is the case with this new offering by Andrew Taylor. It has touches of a good mystery, masterful use of dialogue and backed up with a layer of misdirection that will keep you guessing for a long time. Within this offering, you get flavours of authors like Christie and Doyle, which really makes this a tale to savour. Back that up with reasonable characters who explore the world in much the same way as we do and you know that you’ve gotten something a little different, which at times, can mean a lot more than staying to the same flavours.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: The Hunt for Voldorius - Andy Hoare

Release Date: 02/09/10


A warleader of the renegade Alpha Legion, the demon prince Kernax Voldorius's reign of terror has bled across the stars, leaving billions dead. Captain Kor'sarro Khan of the White Scars Chapter is petitioned to hunt down and destroy Voldorius. Tracking the beast doggedly for over a decade, Kor'sarro Khan finally drags Voldorius to battle on Quintus, a world that has totally fallen to the Alpha Legion. Now together with their Raven Guard allies, the White Scars must combat an entire planet if they are to slay the daemon prince.


Combat has never been so bloody as this none stop action adventure by author Andy Hoare. Lovingly crafted, this offering cuts through any fuzziness to the heart of the matter as the Ravens and the White Scars hunt the chaos menace across the stars. Gripping storytelling backed up as each centimetre to their goal is hacked, blown or even eviscerated by the blood of the chosen for the glory of the Emperor. Serious warfare in a bloody universe makes this a top choice.

Friday, 27 August 2010


Hail Mighty Readers,
Here's this months round up of previously reviewed titles that have either been released in PB format or have undergone new binding/artwork. (Covers in review may differ from current incarnation.)

This month you'll find:
Tempest Rising - Nicole Peeler (UK Release)
Galileo's Dream - Kim Stanley Robinson
The Demon King - Cinda Williams Chima

Hopefully you'll find this feature of use,


URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Supernatural: Heart of the Dragon - Keith De Candido, Supernatural: War of the Sons - Rebecca Desertine

Release Date: 27/08/10


This is a supernatural novel that reveals a previously unseen adventure for the Winchester brothers, from the hit ITV series! Twenty-three years ago, Sam and Dean Winchester lost their mother to a demonic supernatural force. Following the tragedy, their father taught the boys everything about the paranormal evil that lives in the dark corners of America...and how to kill it. On the hunt for Lucifer, the boys find themselves in a small town in South Dakota where they meet Don - an angel with a proposition...How far will the boys go to uncover the secret Satan never wanted them to find out?


With a change of authors, I expected this offering to be marked improvement on the previous outings. Unfortunately it was sadly yet another failure in the published world of the Winchester Brothers. The story was weak and I felt, after season five, that I’d heard it all before. The first couple of pages was ridiculous as the author seemed to have mixed Sam and Dean up, the tale then changed tack and you could see that this book had more than one writer as it wasn’t a smooth transition. Again the characters didn’t come across and had I read these novels prior to watching the TV series, I would never have bothered. The author’s really don’t seem to know the characters, the plot outline goes into a “where can I put them now that I have time travel available” scenario and the overall effect is a complete waste of time. As mentioned in the other review, give the fans a chance to write a tale or two even if its just a series of short stories, they’ll be more successful, they’ll have a better grasp of the characters and the tales presented will be something not only novel but more on the tack of the original concept.

Release Date: 26/02/10


This is a supernatural novel that reveals a previously unseen adventure for the Winchester brothers, from the hit ITV series! Twenty-three years ago, Sam and Dean Winchester lost their mother to a demonic supernatural force. Following the tragedy, their father taught the boys everything about the paranormal evil that lives in the dark corners of America...and how to kill it. Bobby Singer alerts Sam and Dean to a series of particularly brutal killings in San Francisco's Japantown. It's been 270 new moons since the last time, and it looks like the Heart of the Dragon is back...


To be honest Keith is an author who seemed to have gotten the job because of who he knew over talent. Whilst this, at times, can lead to a reasonable offering, the reader prefers that the tale that they’ve spent their hard earned money upon was written by an author who not only knew the characters backwards but also managed to give the readers a tale that had at least some basic research done towards it. (For example their use of Doragon instead of Ryu or Tatsu for Dragon.)

Add to this, the usual problem with this author’s previous outings that he hasn’t gotten a grip on the mannerisms of Sam and Dean (from what little we actually get of them in this title) and overall I felt pretty cheated. Within this offering, the brothers bicker, they unfortunately didn’t mesh as the fans demand and with so much reference material available felt that the author was looking more to his bank balance rather than fulfilling the readers brief.

Whilst the overall concept was interesting alongside the depth of character history available for the author to have tapped into, the story felt slow, badly created and overall pretty lackadasical and I felt that perhaps that it might be better to run a competition for the fans to create their own Sam and Dean Tales with the chance for publication. It would be more accurate, it would get back to the original series concept and would all in, definitely be the full experience that the reader not only deserve but demand rather than an author who writes a whole tale around what could have been a reasonable novella.

ART BOOK REVIEW: Dragonart Evolution - J "Neon Dragon" Peffer

Release Date: 27/08/10


This title features all-new dragons and instruction with a combination of beautiful, inspiring art, easy-to-follow instruction, and pure entertainment as the author's friendly and funny voice is heard in the character Dolosus. Readers will be able to draw every part of dragon anatomy by the end of this book and will be able to assemble those pieces into dragons of their very own.


An all new, scale sparkling tutorial from one of the nets best known Dragon Artists. Add to this a manga style and you know that the author will help you with these fantastical creatures.

Firstly, the author deals with breaking the various shapes used in the overall creation of these fabulous beasts which allows the reader to practice and see an easier way to adapt their own talents alongside style to accommodate the lessons within this title. The author then breaks down the individual components that help create the overall creature with special features on things like overbite, eyes, horns, scales etc which makes this not only fun but a pretty comprehensive guide to the creatures.

Finally, there are tips for everyone from novice to expert that would take years to learn. My only real criticism of the title is that it would have been improved had it been printed in a ring binder style so that the title will remain open on the relevant section that the artist wishes to practice from. A real find.

ARTS AND CRAFTS REVIEW: Simple Sewn Gifts - Helen Philipps

Release Date: 27/08/10


25 sewn gifts that are quick to make and lovely to receive make the perfect presents when you're short of time and ideas. It uses modern fabrics, sewing, applique, patchwork and stitchery. Gifts for friends, family and home are all here, including Christmas gifts. It is perfect for experimenting with new techniques supported by step artworks, templates and charts.


With the price of things constantly going up, there are times when you wish that you could give your friends and relatives something a little different that is more personal than one of the mass consumer items out there. Within this offering there are a lot of idea’s of things that you can make that will add a person touch to someone’s special day.

Whilst these aren’t the simplest of things (I’m speaking as an amateur here), they are practical and if you’ve got the time and patients, something that you can help your child make so that Grandparents have something special that the child will be proud of. With idea’s for all the year round there’s always going to be something that will please the recipient. A real gem of an offering and one that will have sewing machines humming and hand stitchers thimbling.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

HUMOUR: Dear Sparkle - Sparkle the Cat

Release Date: 27/08/10


'Our pet sitter smells weird. Is there any way to make her less stinky?'. 'My humans like to sleep when it's obviously the best time to play! Have any ideas for how to wake them up?'. Now cats everywhere can get solutions to their most pressing problems - straight from the mouth of a pointed puss! Featuring 70 Q&As, 'Sparkle Says' sidebars, and full-color photos throughout, "Dear Sparkle" is definitely not your usual human-written cat book. Sparkle the Cat gets what troubles her furry friends and offers insight laced with tough love. Whether it's a confused kitty who doesn't understand why he's supposed to stay off the couch, a cat who's furious because the new puppy ate his catnip stash, or a freaked-out feral who wants to return to the wild, Sparkle has the sage - and often hilarious - answer for their woes.


If you’re a cat fancier or just a fan of the quirky who finds fun things online, then the odds are you’ve come across Sparkle the Cat, famed advice columist for the Feline World. Brought together for the first time in this title, is a selection of letters where our feline friends find ways to deal with the issues arising from lack of communication or understanding of Catiquette from the human point of view (or rather lack of correct human training as Sparkle herself admits.)

It is humorous and it’s a great format to keep the reader interested addressing many of the issues of Human/Cat conflict. Whilst the odd reply is serious (such as the one that mentions harmful chemicals in cleaner products) the vast majority explain a lot of issues that are easily overlooked. All in, its fun, it has great advice and it isn’t stuffy like a lot of cat expert titles out there. My only real issue is the way that some of the letters are on one page and you have to turn over to view the reply, for me, I’d have preferred them to be on the same page.

FANTASY REVIEW: Bauchelain and Korbal Broach Vol 1 - Steven Erikson

Release Date: 26/08/10


Blood Follows - In the port city of Lamentable Moll, a diabolical killer stalks the streets and panic grips the citizens like a fever. As Emancipor Reese's legendary ill luck would have it, his previous employer is the unknown killer's latest victim. But two strangers have come to town, and they have posted in Fishmonger's Round a note, reeking of death-warded magic, requesting the services of a manservant. The Lees Of Laughter's End - After their blissful sojourn in Lamentable Moll, the sorcerers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach - along with their manservant, Emancipor Reese - set out on the open seas aboard the sturdy ship Suncurl. Alas, there's more baggage in the hold than meets the beady eyes of the crew, and unseemly terrors awaken. For Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, and Emancipor Reese, it is just one more night on the high seas, on a journey without end. The Healthy Dead - The city of Quaint's zeal for goodness can be catastrophic, and no one knows this better than Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, two stalwart champions of all things bad. The homicidal necromancers - and their substance-addled manservant, Emancipor Reese - find themselves ensnared in a scheme to bring goodness into utter ruination. Sometimes you must bring down civilization...in the name of civilization.


Fans of Erikson have for years been chomping at the bit to get their hands on this offering. Why? Well it was originally published by PS Publishing as a limited edition Novella and became so hard to get without parting with major readies that many a reader was left out in the cold. Luckily enough this has now been re-released in the UK by Steven’s publisher Bantam and as such gives the tale an availability once only dreamed of. The major question is, does it live up to the fans hopes?

The short answer is yes. It builds upon the characters that appeared in the early Malazan Book of the Fallen, it gives more flavour for the world, and if you’re a fan, you’re more than likely getting impatient waiting for the final part in the first series. (Steven has been signed for more Malazan titles.) It’s beautifully priced, it’s available for all and with it being a collection, you know damn well that whilst those who purchased the other ones in the original printing, they’re currently going cold turkey waiting for that final title whilst you can bask in back catalogue. However this said, don’t read this title if you’ve missed this series, in particular the earlier novels. If you’ve only just made book three, then you can probably get away with it.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

THRILLER REVIEW: The Haunting of James Hastings - Christopher Ransom

Release Date: 08/07/10


James Hastings' wife is dead - her life snuffed out in a horrific accident that leaves her husband shattered. Dizzy with grief and guilt, James withdraws into his sprawling mansion, losing himself in liquor ...and memories of Stacey. Until the day two women enter his life. One is Annette, a gorgeous stranger with a dark past. The other is not a stranger, and her past is all too familiar. First her voice echoes through the phone lines, and from behind the ballroom doors ...Then her shoes reappear, streaked with mud and grime, as though unearthed from the grave ...And soon Annette begins saying things only Stacey could know, enveloping James in a spiral of terror and violence that threatens to destroy his home, his sanity, and his soul. For death is only the beginning of his nightmare. And the haunting of James Hastings might just be the end of him.


Having read the first title by this author I marked him as a name to watch, and whilst I did have problems with it, there was enough potential to make me stand up and pay attention. That said, this second offering had to be something special and hopefully the author wouldn’t have fallen foul of the second novel curse.

What occurred was a tale that was way to long, was pretty patchy as well as disjointed as if the author had so many idea’s that he just had to cram them all in, even when they were at odds with each other. Whilst it may have made sense to him, as a title it didn’t work and really does confuse the reader but not in a good way. Obviously the principle character was Eminem (although the author does admit this in the acknowledgments in the books back.) Unfortuantely due to the many problems I had with this novel, it is not a title I will be recommending and to be honest I don’t think I’ll be bothering with the next.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Finch - Jeff Vandermeer

Release Date: 24/08/10


“Tasked with solving an impossible double murder, detective John Finch searches for the truth in a metropolis unlike any other in or out of history. Under the rule of the gray cap masters, Ambergris is crumbling into anarchy and rebellion. The remnants of a rebel force are demoralized and dispersed. Partials—human traitors transformed by the gray caps—walk the streets brutalizing the city’s human inhabitants. In this powerful and poignant novel, the past and the future, the cosmic and the gritty, collide. What will happen if Finch uncovers the truth? What will happen if he doesn’t? And will Ambergris ever be the same?”


Finch returns the reader to the much loved city of Ambergris that has appeared in earlier titles by this author (City of Saints and Madmen, Shriek.) Whilst still firmly within the remit of Sci-Fi, it’s perhaps more Spy Fiction with a touch of mastery backed up with a whole host of spores and Fungi’s. Whilst I did find certain parts implausible, Vandermeer’s writing style gets under the readers skin and gets them to read just a few more pages. It’s Dark, has interesting characters and you know that there are no other authors quite like him.

Add to the mix a huge supporting cast who add more flavour to the plot alongside an almost photogenic writing style and it’s a tale that will keep you up long after you really should be asleep. Watch out for Finch, don’t open the cover or the Vandermeer spore will root and hold onto you forever.

FANTASY REVIEW: Banners in the Wind - Juliet E McKenna

Release Date: 24/06/10


A few stones falling in the right place can set a landslide in motion. That's what Lescari exiles told themselves in Vanam as they plotted to overthrow the warring dukes. But who can predict the chaos that follows such a cataclysm? Some will survive against all the odds; friends and foes alike. Hope and alliances will be shattered beyond repair. Unforeseen consequences bring undeserved grief as well as unexpected rewards. Necessity forces uneasy compromise as well as perilous defiance. Wreaking havoc is swift and easy. Building a lasting peace may yet prove an insuperable challenge!


Whilst the original offering in this trilogy dragged a bit for me, the second seemed to really pick up the ball and deliver exactly the type of novel that I wanted. So upon hearing that the third title was available I really had to get my hands to see how Juliet would conclude what I hoped would be a pleasing series.

What unfurled however was a title that felt that it was a bit flat. It spent way to much time on dialogue and really didn’t feel that it accomplished much in the way of overall arc, almost as if the author was dragging their feet in order to make a certain word count. It’s slow in pieces and for me, the pace was off with the peaks and lulls never really getting past a flat ocean rather than building crescendo’s and Marianas trenches. A great shame to be honest especially when the whole thing feels a little too neatly tied up by it’s conclusion.

FANTASY REVIEW: Johannes Cabal the Detective - Jonathan L Howard

Release Date: 08/07/10


Johannes Cabal is back -- a little older, a little wiser, but just as sharply funny, cuttingly sarcastic, and unexpectedly violent as ever. For necromancer Johannes Cabal, dealing with devils, demons and raising the dead is pretty much par for the course. But when his attempt to steal a rare book turns sour, he is faced by a far more terrifying entity -- politics. While awaiting execution for his crime, Cabal is forced to resurrect an inconveniently deceased emperor. Seizing his chance, the cunning Cabal engineers his escape, fleeing the country on a state-of-the-art flying ship. But the ship has more than a few unpleasant surprises, including an unwelcome face from the past and the small matter of some mysterious murders. Cabal may work with corpses but he has absolutely no intention of becoming one. Drawn into a deadly conspiracy, is he shuffling dangerously close to the end of his mortal coil?


I loved the original offering from this author and with its wit, cracking pace and above all else, its larger than life principle protagonist it’s a tale that is literally a huge chunk of fun. In this second offering, it continues the tale of this extraordinary individual and generates a tale that this time takes the mick out of the crime genre. A real treat for fans of something different and a title that I’m recommending to perhaps use as a bridging novel between the young adult and adult literary world. Great fun and a book that I’ll remember for a while due to the pleasure I gained.

Monday, 23 August 2010

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: WARHAMMER 40K AUDIO BOOK ROUND UP: The Dark King - Graham McNeill, The Lightning Tower - Dan Abnett and Fireborn - Nick Kyme

Release Date: 29/04/10


The Dark King by Graham McNeill

The acts of terror and warmongering by Konrad Curze, Primarch of the Night Lords Legion, have earned the ire of his brother primarch, Rogal Dorn. Wracked by terrible visions of the future, Curze is driven insane and attacks Dorn, setting the Night Lord on an inexorable course towards eternal damnation.

The Lightning Tower by Dan Abnett

Rogal Dorn, Primarch of the Imperial Fists Legion, faces a stark reality – he must tear down the magnificence of the Emperor¹s Palace, a shining beacon in a galaxy of darkness, and turn it into a fortress. With the army of Horus drawing ever closer, as he blights the Palace with gunports and defence towers, Dorn must face a difficult question, 'What are you afraid of?'


Currently I’ve had a bit of a glut on these audio titles from the Black Library and to be honest I’ve been pretty spoilt. But this is definitely my favourite as I get two tales from two exceptionally gifted authors which gets even better when you find out that it’s set during the Horus Heresy. With great voice acting, some reasonable background music and sound effects backed up with the talent of these two authors and you know that it’s a title that really will be worth the price. Great stuff.

Release Date: 27/05/10


The world of Sepulchre IV stands on the brink of destruction. From the stars the Red Rage decends, intent on murder and massacre. Into the fray are thrust the Firedrakes, peerless champions of the Salamanders. Their mission: retrieve the 'holy relic' of Sepulchre and prevent it falling to the enemy. Tsu'gan, latest recruit to the vaunted order, must learn to temper his inner anger if he is to succeed in the First Company.

Facing an indestructible foe, the Firedrakes will be tested as never before. Victory is possible against the Red Rage, but only if Tsu'gan can master his wrath and even then the sacrifice will be great ...


Adventure, action and above all else easy to dip into. That’s exactly what you get with these audio books from the Black Library as they allow you to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life during travel time. They’ve got great voice acting, they’ve got background Sound FX that really add to the overall tale and to be honest, its been a lot of fun on recent trips, especially when I’ve shared them with my nephew’s who have never heard anything like these. They really did get a blast and it made what would normally have been a long journey feel quite short with entertainment fully provided. OK, they may not understand a lot of what was going on, but it really did make it a special journey and for me, the peace and quiet along with the chance to enjoy a well written adventure.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40k: The Chapters Due - Graham McNeill

Release Date: 27/05/10


Having defeated the forces of the tau on the planet of Pavonis, Captain Uriel Ventris returns to Macragge. But war is unending in the life of a Space Marine, and Ventris finds himself thrust back into battle against the nemesis of the Ultramarines- the Iron Warriors, led by renegade Warsmith Honsou. Will Ventris be able to overcome his greatest test to emerge victorious, or will the Ultramarines suffer a disastrous defeat from which they might not recover?


Having recently been part of the David Gemmell award, I’ve been chasing through my backlog of authors that I’ve enjoyed to see if I’ve missed any titles by the nominees. Alas, I was to discover that I’d forgotten about this offering from May so thought that I’d best read this sooner rather than later.

Whilst the Warhammer 40k Universe may not appeal to everyone, it’s a gritty, down and dirty WW1 type of struggle where mankind battles against not only itself but also xeno’s in an unprecedented scale. Graham writes about a group of super soldiers known as Space Marines and in particular one celebrates band of brothers known as the Ultramarines. It’s gritty with huge amounts of fire fight combat and a cast of characters that you keep a careful eye upon as this is a series that plays for keeps.

It’s inventive, it’s pretty bloody and if you put the futuristic angle to one side, a tale that will be enjoyed by many a war story reader.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

WRITING ADVICE: The Writer's Market Guide to Getting Published

Release Date: 30/04/10


The Writer's Market Guide to Getting Published, 3rd Edition , with its insider advice from successful authors and editors, gives readers a professional overview of what it takes to get their work out into the marketplace, get it published, and get paid for it. Topics featured in this book include: state of the publishing industry information; inspirational instruction to get readers motivated and writing; research strategies and interviewing techniques; tips on selling magazine articles, nonfiction books, novels, scripts, and more; instruction on self-publishing and print-on-demand options; and, cutting edge marketing and publicity guidance.


Whilst having recently spent time reading titles that purport to help the author write a better novel, I’ve finally come across a guide that not only helps, but explains the various steps from finding out whether your talent lies more with magazines or with novels. Beautifully laid out, easy to follow and above all else lessons that can take years to master but presented in such a way that its easy to follow, easy to understand the goal and of course helping you find that special something deep within.

CRIME REVIEW: Lifeblood - N J Cooper

Release Date: 08/07/10


Six months on from the events in NO ESCAPE, forensic psychologist Karen Taylor is busy assessing prisoners out on parole for a Ministry of Justice project designed to predict which of them will re-offend. One of them is Randall Greer, a violent serial rapist, whose last offence took place on the Isle of Wight. Karen is sure he will attack again - and that this time he will probably kill. So when Randall breaks the terms of his parole and goes missing, Karen breaks all the rules. She returns to the Isle of Wight to warn DCI Charlie Trench, because he was involved in Greer's arrest and subsequent trial for the rape of Lizzie Fane. Randall had threatened to kill Lizzie if she gave evidence against him. Lizzie Fane has secretly reinvented herself as Lisa Raithe, and is enjoying a burgeoning career as a successful artist. She's settled into an attractive village well away from the Island - and has tentatively started dating again. As Lisa, she has everything going for her. Until she hears that Randall is out, and on the loose. She has stoically rebuilt her shattered life - how far will she go to protect it? Soon people who gave evidence at Randall's trial are found murdered. Has the rapist now turned killer, as Karen predicted? Has Lizzie herself turned avenging angel? Or, as Karen starts to suspect, is someone else pulling the strings?


To be honest the blurb on this offering really makes you want to get started very quickly, however that said, I did feel that whilst the overall arc was very pleasing, the principle protagonista was pretty weak. I just couldn’t get a handle upon her contradictory nature that felt that the author didn’t understand her very well either. Leaving that to one side, the dialogue was reasonable, the other cast members believable and there was an addictive way in which the author took you by the hand through the tale. But as many readers are already aware if you can’t grasp the lead character it doesn’t matter how well the offering is written the reader is left partially in limbo. A great shame and something that I hope the author will fix in future offerings.

Friday, 20 August 2010

CRIME REVIEW: The Phantoms of Breslau - Marek Krajewski

Release Date: 29/07/10


Breslau, 1919. The hideously battered bodies of four young sailors are discovered on an island in the River Oder. When Inspector Mock arrives at the scene to investigate, he discovers a note addressed to him, asking him to confess his sins and to become a believer. As he endeavours to piece together the elements of this brutal crime, Mock combs brothels and drinking dens of Breslau and is drawn into an insidious game by the murderer; ultimately he uncovers a secret society which appears to have the Inspector himself in its sights.


I’ve come to enjoy these releases and whilst the authors writing style may not be for everyone, once you get past that it’s a tale that’s really enjoyable. The translation is well done, the authors humour pokes fun throughout and above all else its the way in which the character engages the reader that makes it so addictive. Add to the mix some great twists, a period drama and you know that its something different to the vast majority of titles out there.

CRIME REVIEW: Faithful Place - Tana French

Release Date: 01/07/10


The course of Frank Mackey's life was set by one defining moment when he was nineteen. The moment his girlfriend, Rosie Daly, failed to turn up for their rendezvous in Faithful Place, failed to run away with him to London as they had planned. Frank never heard from her again. Twenty years on, Frank is still in Dublin, working as an undercover cop. He's cut all ties with his dysfunctional family. Until his sister calls to say that Rosie's suitcase has been found. Frank embarks on a journey into his past that demands he reevaluate everything he believes to be true.


As a new reader to Tana’s writing I was struck pretty quickly at a how beautiful her descriptive prose are. Back that up with a seriously believable character who just jumps from the pages and it was a real pleasure to read this offering. But for many, what makes this author so engaging is the way in which she blends the story arc to keep the reader guessing to the final page. It’s a wonderful read and one that has me reaching for her previous two titles to get the same reading pleasure again and makes this author one that I’ll be recommending to people who love a good mystery.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

THRILLER REVIEW: Dictator - Tom Cain

Release Date: 05/08/10


Africa has had more than its share of dictators, but Henderson Gushungo may be the worst. Millions starve and opponents are flung in jail, while Gushungo and his cronies get rich on the country's rich natural resources. A powerful consortium of political and business interests offer Samuel Carver the job of enforcing regime change. Can the taking of one life save millions of others? And can Carver trust the men who hired him? As the action hurtles from the plains of southern Africa to the teeming streets of Hong Kong, and an old enemy rises from the grave to haunt him once more, Carver becomes both the hunter and the hunted in a deadly game where the survival of a nation is at stake.


Whilst Tom Cain is a pseudonym for a well known journalist, you can tell from the first chapter that this is an author who won’t mince their words, will not compromise and believes fully in the world that he’s created. The character fight for their own ideology, they scrap their way along the plot outline and they force their way against the odds to achieve their own goals. It’s stark, it’s brutal and the writing style is something that doesn’t believe in apologising for what it is. Add to the mix that it’s proud of being a thriller and you know that you’ve gotten a bloody struggle that hopefully will leave you sated by the final bloody chapter.

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Red Queen - Philippa Gregory

Release Date: 19/08/10


The second book in Philippa's stunning new trilogy, The Cousins War, brings to life the story of Margaret Beaufort, a shadowy and mysterious character in the first book of the series - The White Queen - but who now takes centre stage in the bitter struggle of The War of the Roses. The Red Queen tells the story of the child-bride of Edmund Tudor, who, although widowed in her early teens, uses her determination of character and wily plotting to infiltrate the house of York under the guise of loyal friend and servant, undermine the support for Richard III and ultimately ensure that her only son, Henry Tudor, triumphs as King of England. Through collaboration with the dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret agrees a betrothal between Henry and Elizabeth's daughter, thereby uniting the families and resolving the Cousins War once and for all by founding of the Tudor dynasty.


The second novel in Philippa’s Cousin War trilogy, sees Margaret Beaufort take up the role of principle storyteller, who is the mother of Henry Tudor and spends the whole book scheming to place her son onto the English Throne. It’s full of religion, it’s full of warfare and to be honest that’s pretty much it. This title lacks the enthusiasm and the romantic aspect that the author’s previous titles have had to offer and to be honest felt more like a rehash of the White Queen as told from a different Point of View. This title could well have been bettered had the two titles been merged to tell of certain aspects at one time from multiple characters.

The book really is a let down and to be honest if you’re a fan it could well put you off as all in all it is, in my opinion, a very poor offering from an author I expected more from.

THRILLER REVIEW: 15 Miles - Rob Scott

Release Date: 19/08/10


Samuel 'Sailor' Doyle has transferred from Vice to Homicide in the Virginia State Police. He has a mistress, an alcohol problem, a prescription drug dependency, and a burgeoning self-loathing that alienates his wife and family. On Friday 3 July, the rookie investigator is assigned to a double homicide on a rural farm some 15 miles outside Richmond. One of the victims has been interred in a makeshift tomb, while the other is stuck half-in, half-out of a hope chest overflowing with cat litter. And the farm is covered with dead bodies: dozens of cats, sheep, goats, cows, and one dead horse. The mentally handicapped daughter of the victims, Carl and Claire Bruckner, is missing. Doyle soon discovers that Bruckner was a Marine captain who lost his leg in Vietnam thanks to the incompetence of his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Lake - now retired General Robert Lake, and Republican Party presidential hopeful, who will be speaking in Richmond on July fourth - the following evening. What Doyle fails to realise as he follows the various clues is that wherever he goes, he is spreading disease - and not just any disease, but Yersinia pestis. The plague. Is the dead Marine planning revenge, even from beyond the grave?


This title is one that will either win the reader over to the authors side or be one that the reader will be left wondering what the hell is happening as it is rather simplistic in its telling. Yes its got good strong characterisation with a principle protagonist that is a tragic hero figure with some serious flaws. Yes its got a plot outline that will make the reader expect a hell of a lot, but unfortunately it really doesn’t hit the spot as its kept to a base line that really doesn’t get any higher.

There will be those who overly enthuse due to the authors writing style and creative processes but for me, if you’ve gone to so much trouble to build good strong characters they deserve the time to play with a few more twists. Still a good effort and with luck Rob’s future novels will improve on this as it’s a good start but runs out of steam part way through. That said he still deserves a second crack of the whip purely for the characters within.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Tomes of the Dead: Stronghold - Paul Finch

Release Date: 19/08/10


When King Edward I of England built Grogen Castle in Wales, he proclaimed it the strongest fortress in the British Isles; impregnable to assault, armed with devices so fiendish that would-be attackers would die in multitutdes. But the Welsh have had enough of English tyranny. Armed with druidic magic and an ancient, mystical artefact, they summon an army to their banner even the most supersitious of Edward's soldiers could never have imagined. Soon, Grogen Castle finds itself beseiged by forces forged from splintered bone and rotten flesh. Just how long can this Stronghold hold out against the zombie horde?


Set during the reign of Edward (Longshanks) the first of England, this offering takes the reader to a time where warfare was fought as savegly against the people as it was against the invaders in this offering from Paul Finch. He gets the feel right for the time period and with characters who are as much villain as hero it sets a tone for a war of attrition that no side can afford. Add to the mix zombies and a siege and you know that its something that is quite cinematic. It’s well written, it’s got crisp description and it’s a stand alone title that makes it easy for people to dip into. Whilst this won’t be for all fans of Urban Fantasy it’s a title that will please a lot of readers who enjoy a dip into Historical Fiction alongside their zombies. An offering I really enjoyed.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Death Most Definite - Trent Jamieson

Release Date: 05/08/10


Steve knew something was wrong as soon as he saw the dead girl in the Wintergarden food court. Nothing new - he saw dead people all the time - but this one was about to save his life ...Steve is a necromancer in the family firm, tasked with easing spirits from this dimension to the next after death. And he's kind of OK with that, until someone high up the corporate hierarchy makes a bid to be Australia's new Regional Death. This means killing all of the current Death's staff. After his parents, relatives and pretty much every other necromancer he ever knew has been killed, Steve is left to make a reluctant stand. But to do this he must stay alive. Threatened at every turn, Steve and the perilously attractive (and dead) Lissa go on the run to save what's left of their world.


OK, I wasn’t quite sold this title from the book blurb, but I thought that it sounded interesting and since I was at a lose end I gave it a go. What unfurls is something that’s never really been done before with Death and you can see touches of influence from others within this authors writing. There’s a bit of Piers Anthony, a touch of Neil Gaiman and I suspect a good dollop of Terry Pratchett which made this novel fast paced, action packed and above all else hard to put down. The principle character is not only intriguing but fascinating as he’s forced into something he never really wanted. Add to the mix appropriate dialogue backed up with solid lulls and peaks within the writing style and its made this author one I’m definitely going to keep an eye on. A great first novel.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Transformers Exodus - Alex Irvine

Release Date: 29/07/10


For twenty-five years the colossal battle between Megatron and Optimus Prime has captivated Transformers fans around the world. Yet the full story of the conflict between the two most famous Transformers - verything that happened before Optimus and Megatron arrived on planet Earth - has always been a mystery...until now. Here, for the first time told in its entirety, is the thrilling saga of Optimus and Megatron before they were enemies, before they even knew each other. This gripping, action-packed novel reveals all the loyalties and treacheries, trust and betrayals, deadly violence and shining ideals, as well as the pivotal roles played by other characters, including Starscream, Sentinel Prime, Omega Supreme, and one of the thirteen original Primes, the last link to Cybertron's glorious Golden Age. Discover how meek disciple Orion Pax becomes the fearless leader Optimus Prime, follow the tantalizing clues about the lost Matrix of Leadership and the lore surrounding it, find out why the two allies fighting a corrupt regime suddenly turn on each other, and what triggers their epic war. Transformers: Exodus provides everything fans ever wanted to know about one of the fiercest rivalries of all time.


Vivid memories from my childhood literally forced me into reading this prequel title and to be honest it was one that I really enjoyed as I got what I wanted, a dose of Optimus and Megatron before their schism. It’s well written, its very descriptive and above all else it was a story that moved along at quite a clip. A real treat for fans of the Robots in Disguise and a tale that will help you see the whole Autobot and Decepticon battle in a new light. Great stuff.

FANTASY REVIEW: The Ragged Man - Tom Lloyd

Release Date: 19/08/10


Continuing the powerful epic that started with THE STORMCALLER; the Lord Isak is dead, his armies and entire tribe in disarray. It falls to King Emin to continue the war alone, and the Menin are only too happy to meet his challenge. In Byora, Ruhen is developing his 'Saviour' persona. The Harlequins start preaching in his name and many of the pilgrims who flock to him are recruited to be 'Children', disciples who spread Ruhen's message. All over the Land people are starting to see Ruhen as the answer to their troubles. A showdown is coming: battle lines are finally drawn and the atrocities quickly mount. The spectre of the Great War looms, but in this age the Gods cannot and will not come to King Emin's aid. With the peoples of the Land turning against Emin and his few remaining allies, their only chance for survival lies in the hands of a dead man.


If you thought that Book Three was pretty good then you’re just going to love the fourth offering. You get characters that continue to grow and having to fill shoes that were left empty after the last instalment which makes this something that really will grip the readers imagination. Whilst I have been following the series since its original inception a few years ago, I like to have a reread prior to starting the new title to not only refresh my memory but to get the full reading pleasure from the book. Within this title you get everything that makes Tom a name but also a maturing writing style as the series carries wending its bloody way through your mind. It’s well written, the characters gripping but above all else it’s the twists as well as politicking that make this a title to savour.

Monday, 16 August 2010

INTERVIEW: James Barclay

Long time friend of the blog, James Barclay, took time out of his busy schedule to have a chat with us about life and writing. Whilst he's now a known name in the world of Fantasy its been a long hard road and there's been casualties along the way.

Here he talks to us about his which of his titles is his favourite, how he's adapted over the years, an authors personal delusion and the essentials that he just couldn't do without...

Falcata Times: How would you say that your perspective has changed about selling your own work with multiple novels under your belt?

James Barclay: It’s funny because my immediate reaction was to assume that I was more relaxed but that isn’t the case. When Dawnthief was published there was massive excitement and plenty of hope. Ten books later, I have a little less excitement and a whole lot more expectation. I have developed a fairly accurate gut feel about how well a book will do as well. That’s both a blessing and a curse, I find.

Then there’s the internet and marketing. It’s completely exploded in the last ten years and authors need to be aware of the sheer number of forums, blogs, review sites and stores there are out there. Selling a novel is a global (or certainly trans-Atlantic) operation from day one. Authors need to be able to respond to the live nature of the internet so it isn’t just doing the interviews and writing blog posts on their own websites. Being available for live podcast, forum chats and there to respond on individual forum threads... all of this and much more is part of the author’s job. This is not a complaint, by the way. I absolutely love it.

A third thing is foreign language translations. Again, when Dawnthief came out, I had no real awareness of the value of being sold in local markets around the world. But they are incredibly important. It’s a trap to assume that English language speaking markets are going to be enough. For me, Germany and France are absolutely key and I’m delighted to be published there and in every country in which I’ve got a translation. There are quite a few now and I do what I can to make sure I stay published overseas.

Lastly, I pay far more attention to my backlist sales as time goes on. Dave Gemmell used to tell me to keep a close eye on the progression of sales of all my books (and he was a man who always knew the total sales of each one of his novels and he had thirty plus). The reason for this is that you are not a helpless bystander. Backlist books can be reinvigorated with fresh covers, blogs, website contests and such like. And every author needs to be aware that maintaining back list sales is a key plank of their business.

FT: How would you sell yourself as an author?

JB: As tall, dark and incredibly handsome. I have a really good imagination, you see. And I’m happily delusional.

But returning to the real world if I absolutely must... I’m a writer of character-driven action novels. When you read my books, you get flawed people, real people, involved in events that commonly spiral out of control and so strain sanity and courage to the limits. Sometimes beyond that breaking point too. You get excitement by the bucket load and action, combat and battle sequences that, if I can flatter myself for a moment, are up there with the best in the business.

You get uncluttered writing and you get the feeling that the characters are involved in things that really matter. You get writing free of preaching yet containing themes I feel are important to discuss. I just don’t ram them down your throat or batter you about the head with them.

My aim is not to educate you about the world and all its problems, politics and so on in some awfully clever allegorical fashion; it is to leave you knowing you were immersed in a complete and credible world, were intelligently entertained and that you should really tell ten friends to go buy themselves a copy.

FT: How would you say that your experience of writing and publishing has changed your methods of writing?

JB: Actually, I’ve changed my method of writing fundamentally just recently. I’m on record saying how I don’t like to do too much planning beyond knowing who is alive at the beginning of a novel, who is alive at the end and the broad journey that is to be completed. That stopped working during the writing of Ravensoul and it was in the drafting of a young adult novel that the system fell apart completely.

So I’ve re-examined how I write and why and I think I’m probably more conformist as a result. Now you can argue that I’ve matured a bit but I’ve come to the realisation that I need more certainty in what is coming next these days. So I do plan now. Not for months or anything but I do a complete storyboard of a book before I write to give me the basic skeleton.

That doesn’t mean things won’t change during the writing of a book but having a framework makes the whole process feel more robust and secure and actually enables change rather than works against it. That’s because you can see where change will lead rather than racing off in headless fashion, hoping it will work out.

The result, I feel, will be better crafted books with fewer inconsistencies and manuscripts that give my editor fewer sleepless nights. Elves book one, Once Walked With Gods, is the first using the new method of working. And I think it’s worked rather well.

FT: With the experience that you've gained now, what do you wish you could have told yourself when you were starting out that you now know?

JB: Don’t be in such a bloody hurry all the time – if it isn’t the very best you can make it, don’t give it to anyone. Challenge everything you write. Don’t be afraid to admit that everything you’ve written in the last three months is total crap and start all over again (that happened with the Elves book, by the way). Do the extra read-through you know you should do because you’ll find a great big clanger, guaranteed. Read your final draft out loud to yourself because it really, really helps.

FT: What characteristics of your protagonists do you wish that you had yourself and why?

JB: Well, besides the physical strength and speed of some, there is one particular characteristic I do desire. You see, characters in books and not just mine, are very often invested with the capacity to say exactly the right thing. Whether it be a call to arms, the perfect riposte, the well-chosen words of sympathy, or the speech that defines courage, characters can say these things with no more than a blink of thought. I’d love to be able to do that. I’d love to have the courage to say some of the things my characters say.

And if I may pick on Hirad Coldheart, I wish I had his utter confidence in himself, his actions, and in those he loves. The thought that he or they might fail simply does not enter his head. Uncluttered belief. It would make life delightfully simple, wouldn’t it?

FT: Which of your characters are most like you and why?

JB: Actually, I don’t think any of them are particularly like me. I think all of them contain little bits of me or my alter ego. For instance, Ilkar’s sense of humour; Paul Jhered’s grumpiness; Arducius’s humanity and Baron Blackthorne’s patience. I think if I had to choose one, it would probably be Ossacer from the Ascendants series and that is because he has no great extremes. He has empathy, can be naive, is perhaps too trusting in others at times and finds himself disappointed that human beings are so routinely cruel to one another. He has no great reserves of courage but he is not a coward. He tries hard all the time. I think I share those things with him.

FT: What of life’s little addictions could you not live without and why?

JB: There are a couple of things I’d really miss if I thought I could never have them again. One is computer games, particularly high quality FPS games like Call of Duty or Half Life. I love losing myself in them when time allows (which is increasingly rare, it has to be said). When I’m drafting a novel as now, I don’t have any installed because they are too keen a temptation.

Another is a really good pint of real ale. Hop Back Summer Lightning, Oakham JHB, Grand Union Gold. There are others. Something about the taste of a fine pint brings on pure contentment. And of course after five such things, I am ten feet tall and bullet proof.

By the way, I do not consider films, sports and books to be addictions. These are just simple necessities...

FT: With regular trips for book tours around the country as well as to various Conventions, what is an absolute travel essential that you couldn't do without?

JB: I am a Luddite so I don’t consider phones, laptops and all that stuff to be essential. Besides, they are more so people can know where I am whereas, frankly, I enjoy the liberation of being out of touch but that’s another story.

For me, it has to be a notebook and at least three pens. If there is one thing I utterly hate, it’s being on a train, plane or whatever and not being able to scribble down bits of draft, ideas, plans and the like. Even worse, to find your one pen has run dry. It just makes me extremely and immediately grumpy. It needs to be a notebook that will fit in a jacket pocket as I don’t like being encumbered so something A6 size is about as big as it gets. You will rarely see me without one.

FT: Previously you've had some problems when others have criticised your work, how do you think you've changed to adapt to it or would you say that you're just the same?

JB: I’ve got to say I don’t really recognise that as me. I think I take criticism extremely well and, where I can, respond to honest criticism in an honest and open fashion. I think people have the absolute right to hate my work and write about it.

Where I do have a problem (and you might be referring to this) is being criticised for not being like other authors with whom I share nothing but the genre in which we write. You know, dislike my work because you dislike my work. That’s fine by me. Don’t dislike it because it isn’t like George Martin or Steven Erikson. This is like me saying “I totally hate that apple because it is not a banana”. Ridiculous, no?

I have also had the odd poor review based on an erroneous detail. And I will never have respect for such reviews. If a reviewer can’t be bothered to pay attention when they read my book, and then criticise it based on things that don’t even happen within it, why should I respect the review?

FT: On long journeys, reading is often the pleasure of choice, who's work will you grab at the airport to ensure a good journey?

JB: Absolutely it is, but I have a three year old son and so my reading on aircraft is currently extremely limited. Hypothetically, though, I’d probably grab a Robert Harris book. I’ve loved every one of his novels I’ve read so far and I think I’ve read most of them. Lovingly researched, cleverly written and always page-turners. If you haven’t read Pompeii, you’ve missed out. Likewise, Imperium. Great stuff.

FT: Out of all your novels, which is your favourite and why?

JB: Oh, blimey. This is an increasingly tough question, if that makes any sense at all. The shortlist is: Elfsorrow; Ravensoul; Cry of the Newborn

And I’m going to have to plump for Elfsorrow. This was the first of a new trilogy and my fourth book. It was the book where I began to feel that my experience as a novelist was really starting to enhance the quality of my writing in all areas. It was the first (but not the last) book where I cried while writing a scene. Ravensoul is another, by the way. It was the book where the elves were properly introduced and I’ve always been genuinely happy with my take on this fantasy trope. I particularly love the TaiGethen and ClawBound callings. This book also features one of my favourite non-Raven characters – Captain Yron. Love him. I just think Elfsorrow is a high quality novel from front to back.

FT: With everyone having their own personal view as to who should be cast in a film version of their work, who do you think should play your principle protagonists and why?

JB: This is always fun and you’ll have to excuse some of my choices as I still see some of the actors as they were a few years ago. I’ll stick to casting The Raven as these books are most likely to be made into films (I’ve had interest a few times but sadly no massive option deal thus far).

Hirad Coldheart – Hugh Jackman. Think Wolverine with braided hair and a big sword and you’re just about there. He’s a fine lead actor in action films.

Sol/The Unknown Warrior – Christopher Judge. Fans of Stargate SG-1 will know him. He has the physique and sheer presence to carry this part off. A decent actor too.

Ilkar – Me. Because I would have to have a role in any film and could carry off the character no problem. Make up will do the rest... And I do act, by the way.

Denser – Alan Rickman. I love Alan Rickman. A great actor and, with the beard he sports in Die Hard, he looks the spit of my image of Denser.

Erienne - Julianna Marguiles. Good actress and looks like Erienne. That ought to do it.

Thraun – Kevin Sorbo. Another look-a-like and for a beefcake he can act a bit.

Ry Darrick – Brendan Fraser. I really like him as an action actor and he’d be good as an ex-cavalry General occasionally struggling with the fact he’s not in charge any more.

Is that enough for you?

FT: Authors are generally a superstitious lot and upon completion of novels follow a certain ritual, what is yours and how has it changed from the original?

JB: Ah, mine is, or was, a very simple routine. It used to be the case that I’d always finish a novel late at night or in the early hours of a morning. Once the words ‘The End’ were typed at the base of the first draft, I’d go and pour myself a brandy and sit on the back step taking in the air while I drank it.

I don’t tend to do that anymore as I write full time and will normally finish draft one during office hours. I’m not big on brandy when the sun is up so I merely walk away from the PC and take the rest of the day off. I enjoy the feeling of pressure easing from my shoulders. Quite often, this leads to me loading up a favourite shooter game and playing it guilt-free.

FT: What was your impression of an author’s lifestyle and status and how has that interpretation changed since you've published a number of books?

JB: I’ve wanted to be an author since I was 11 years old and went through many ideas of what the life of an author would be. Mainly, it involved being welded to my desk poring over books and maps and pieces of paper while preparing the perfect manuscript. As I grew up and began to write, I got an inkling of how much hard work it actually is to construct a novel, particularly when you have a full-time job as well.

I never saw it as an easy ride, or glamorous or anything like that but when I gave up work to go full-time as an author, I wasn’t prepared for the evils of distraction. It is amazing how much you can find to do instead of sitting down and getting the words on paper. The trouble is that there is this notion that there is always tomorrow and one day you wake up without enough words and way too close to deadline day. I try and avoid that if I can. I know others suffer with the solitude but that has never bothered me.

I think I felt it would give me a sense of freedom and escape but it isn’t like that. In fact, these days I keep pretty strict office hours, have my PC calendar set to tell me when it’s break time, which work I’m doing next and when I should down tools and go and pick up my son from nursery.

I’m sure that’s a function of my office working life being organised that way for years and years. I guess you default to what is comfortable in working practice. One thing that hasn’t changed is that I have always felt fortunate to be a published author and even more so to be able to do it full time. Few enough of us get to do the thing we love most of all as a career.

As for status, well I don’t care much for that so I’ll leave it to others. I have little time for authors who assume superiority because of their job. And anyway, fantasy authors are not held in great and wide regard when compared to other genres. Being a fantasy author is half a good chat up line... ‘What do you do?’ ‘I’m an author’. ‘Wow, amazing. What do you write?’ ‘Fantasy.’ ‘Oh.’

FT: What are the best words of wisdom or tip that you'd give to a new or soon to be published author?

JB: Well, I’d get them to look at my answer to question four. I’d also encourage them to really enjoy it. You only have your first book published once and the feeling of subsequent novel publications is not as magical. It’s wonderful every time a new book comes out but it’s different to that first time when you go and see your book on the shelves, rubbing shoulders with all those authors you admire. You’re one of them now and that is a lovely thought. But the high doesn’t last.

Slightly more boringly, new authors have to learn to market their book. Sitting back and letting your publisher do it is not an option. It’s part of the author’s job. This does not mean spamming forums and such like. It’s about blogging, offering yourself for interview, being active on forums to get your name out there (and do try not to mention your book with every post...), contacting local bookshops to see if they’ll do an event, all that sort of thing.

And finally, don’t let up. Your second book is quite probably more important than your first. That is where you start to build your reputation. But a really crap second book can hurt you.