Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In the mailbox

Here are my recently received books. Thank you all very much for the amiability and for the review copies :)

- "The Warded Man" by Peter V. Brett (through the courtesy of Peter V. Brett);
- "A Darkness Forged in Fire" by Chris Evans (through the courtesy of Simon & Schuster UK);
- "American Quest" by Sienna Skyy (through the courtesy of Joan Schulhafer and The Story Plant);
- "The Secret History of Moscow" by Ekaterina Sedia (through the courtesy of Ekaterina Sedia);
- "The Alchemy of Stone" by Ekaterina Sedia (through the courtesy of Ekaterina Sedia);
- "The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008" edited by Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant (through the courtesy of Ellen Datlow and St. Martin's Press).

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Disciples 2 - Gold Edition"

I played for a while now, actually the correct affirmation is I replayed, “Disciples 2”. This game was released on 2002, by Strategy First, but for me is one of those oldies but goldies, as old as could be something released 6 years ago. Over the years three expansion packs were released, “Servants of the Dark”, “Guardians of Light” and “Rise of Elves”. And in 2005 the “Disciples 2: Gold Edition” was released and this one contains the original game and all the expansion packs. The game is Fantasy turn based strategy and I really enjoyed the first time I played it and now after those years too. I know that this game is not as complex as other of its type or genre, but it has at least one attractive part for me.

Basically you start by taking one hero from a race and begin a quest for glory and game objectives. Over the different missions of the game your hero develops accumulating experience points after the battles. Every upgrade gives the player the opportunity to develop a characteristic of his hero. Also throughout the missions the hero can get different artifacts and scrolls to use in his campaign. Well I have to say that after the initial point I didn’t get many new features. The missions follow a general line and became after a while stereotypical. I used to make some pauses in the game for 3 or 4 days, because otherwise I would have become bored. The artifacts are the same. They have different attributes but besides that and a different color they all look alike. This is not a great thing considering that a similar game such “Heroes of Might and Magic” has a great range of beautiful and interesting artifacts.

You’ll ask me why I consider this game. Well, it has some features which I really liked and missed in other games like “Disciples 2”. First of all is how the other unites of the race I lead with my hero upgraded too. I really liked how you can develop them through different stages, from a weak starting one until one very powerful unit. Also the game gives the player the option to choose between two paths of upgrade, each one with their own particularities, advantages and disadvantages. Second, but the best one, is the story behind the game. I absolutely loved each story. I say each story, because every race in the game has its own story and goals. The game made me believe I read a fantasy novel, but not only read but taking part in its development. It gave me a great pleasure finishing each mission and seeing the end movie of that respective mission and the beginning one of the next. And my favorite race and story of the game is the Elves. I like it more because sometimes their story developed while I played a mission and I got the chance to have different objectives throughout one such mission. And I absolutely loved their ranged units, especially when I upgraded them at the marauder level, and the healer units, which gave me the opportunity to heal my units while I was battling.

“Disciples 2” might not be the best game I’ve seen, but because of its storylines and of its concept art I had a fun and entertaining time playing it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Low Man" by T.J. Vargo

"Low Man"
Format: Paperback, 272 pages
Publisher: Leucrota Press

"Low Man" is a horror novel written by T.J. Vargo and published by newly born publishing house, Leucrota Press.

Benny Assissi is a man who believes his life has taken a descending slope. He lost his previous job because the factory closed its gates and now he is working as a convenience store clerk, his wife is unhappy and his son got seek. To keep the things worse this evening somevody tries to rob the store on his shift and because of this event he learns that he has to fight not only for his life, but for his son's life too.

With all the respect and consideration for the work made by T.J. Vargo on "Low Man" I didn't find his novel fitting for the horror genre. Throughout the novel's length the grotesque images are scarce, terrifying scenes are almost inexistent and the horror is rather a personal turmoil of the main character. Unfortunately nothing managed to terrify me while reading this novel. It is true that the novel has some images and scenes which are proper for a horror novel, but they lack power and intensity. And sometimes the novel seems to me like a personal interpretation of the author of Dante's "Divine Comedy". Also the pace of the novel is slow, sometimes painfully slow. The author keeps a steady rhythm, but unfortunately this rhythm is slow and in some scenes it decreases even more.

The characters are rather shallow, without a proper development. Benny Assissi, the main character, has a great struggle in his life, but I failed to be sympathetic with him. I saw some glimpses of his background, but without this aspect being consistent. Other characters seem inconsistent as well, with different issues that I found unattractive. For example, Sam Freeman, another important character, seems to eagerly drawn to a more moral side of his. I find hard to believe that a man like him, who does anything for money and leaves somebody shot to death behind, to change all of the sudden in a moral and compassionate person. Mario Berardi on the other hand looks like being developed only for a minor event in the end, an event that seems unimportant, with any significance.

My general impression is that T.J. Vargo is trying to give to every event in his novel a moral conclusion and he is trying to pass a correct judgment on every character. Although I totally agree with this reason I don't think that it works properly on a horror novel. However if the general idea and some aspects of "Low Man" didn't worked for me, the author does show talent in his novel, but a little rough and unpolished. For instance I didn't have a problem in reading his novel, I read it pretty fast although I didn't enjoy it that much. And although some emotional scenes were fitted for a drama, they were pretty well done.

T.J. Vargo might prove successful in the future, but unfortunately for now his novel "Low Man" didn't had success with me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Weekly Fantasy Art - Tomasz Jedruszek

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Tomasz Jedruszek is an artist born in 1977 in Poland. He adopted the nickname of Morano, because as he explains it on his website his surname is hard to spell and remember (YEN-DREW-SHECK). He finished the education graduating as a Master of Architecture. He is working as a freelance artist and among the companies and publishers that he worked for are White Wolf Publishing, Fantasy Flight Games and Mongoose Publishing. His work “Army of Scorpions 2”, featured at the beginning of this post, was awarded several times on different digital art sites. His best work seems to be born last month, his son, Frank Tomasz Jedruszek. Congratulations to Tomasz and his wife :)

Interview Tomasz Jedruszek

Dark Wolf: Tomasz, thank you for the opportunity of this interview. Which is your first memory about art? What made you grab a pencil or a brush for the first time?
Tomasz Jedruszek: Can’t tell really. I believe the art was always somehow present in our house, my aunt did paint and my uncle too. Grandfather was coloring old photos etc. But to think about drawing something seriously I did after I get my first comic album from my father, who was a great fan of comics already.

Dark Wolf: I’ve seen that your works have subjects from different areas, fantasy, science-fiction, mythology, history. Which one is the most inspirational for you and which one is your favorite?
Tomasz Jedruszek: I’m not doing any top list or classification of my work, I paint what I have assigned as freelance job - and I threat this as a good part of my job , it surprises me , even I know the game, AGOT for example, the new art set is always a great mystery to me. This is very challenging also so I never get bored with my work. While painting for myself, fun etc I just choose my subject according to my current mood or just an idea I have at the moment or kept in my mind for some time. Since I have very little of free time, sometimes it happens I hold an idea for couple months before I actually paint it. But I understand you still would like to hear which one I prefer the most -well I like to paint humans in general, of course an anatomy is really test, but I do also pay lot of attention to emotions of my characters, that’s why I think this subject is most interesting, from one point it is a search of physical perfection, from the other it is to putting a live in it... sounds little like God's play but hey, this is what we doing here, we are not copy the nature, just creating it from scratch basing on references.

Dark Wolf: Speaking of fantasy, do you enjoy fantasy literature?
Tomasz Jedruszek: I did, but I cannot remember when I read any of books, not to mention if it was fantasy. Ok, it is not that bad, I do read a little but not that much as I wish. I remember one of my first fantasy books (at my 10 as I remember) was "Nine princes of Amber" by Roger Zelazny which brought me to totally different world and I just loved that feel - later I did read lot of similar books, but it was harder and harder to feel that magic again, I do not know if that was because I get older or the books were not good enough. Still hoping I will find some book again which will open its gate to another dimension for me.

DW: One of my favorite authors is Henryk Sienkiewicz. Did you ever find inspiration in his novels or paint some scenes of them?
TJ: Probably, but I think I am doing it almost automatically already - you see Sienkiewicz is one of our (Polish) writes of all times, we have to read his books in school we watch his books adaptations every Christmas on TV (I am serious, can't imagine holydays without "Potop" on TV). His books, those most popular, so happening in XV or XVII century, are containing lot of patriot, nostalgic elements, battalistic scenes and lovely descriptions of Polish country. Characters are very deeply created. So obviously I do paint lot of charging cavalry and clashing knights and thinking somewhere back of my head about all those scenes from Sienkiewicz's books because it is very good stuff, sure.

DW: One subject I remarked at your works pictures a post-apocalyptic world. Do you think that our world has such a grim future?
TJ: You still hope it is not, wake up :)
Of course it is all about to collapse, and I am afraid it might be pretty soon, as I can see it is already started. I said I am afraid, because I really enjoy life, nature, the whole universe and a miracle of existence. But I still hope people will find a way to... not to survive because it is already too late, but maybe at least learn something, so they could pass that knowledge coded in DNA to the next, hopefully better, specimen. But I am not trying to scare anyone or make worry with my work, I would rather focus their attention on the problem, and maybe even give them hope. For example that series of panoramic environments. It is basically about alien invasion which almost annihilated human race, but there are some lines in descriptions texts pointing to present events like:
- in "Lost City": " Let’s just hope our children will forgive us someday ... o yes, I forgot ,we won't have children anymore.." - is obviously my worry about our future if we all going to be homosexual some day, and is not my homophobia just asking humanity where is the sense and what future it will bring to our planet. I am not even first one asking that kind of question, Marvano in his comic album "The Forever War" did also;
- in "Temple of Iron": "They will dig this planet to the core ,because their only objective is to HAVE more and more..." - who do you think I am talking about, an aliens?;
- but in “West Trading Company”: “They started to build their "company" last year. We were all surprised how fast they growing strong, organized. Now they are building fleet, they have weapons and they are fighting back. And the most important... they found the way to breed again." - I also put some hope in reader's heart, I even pointed some clues how to achieve better future, I think we still can survive if we just hold tight together as one.

DW: I saw that some of your paintings are inspired by songs. How does music inspire you?
TJ: A lot :) I actually cannot imagine my work without music. What is interesting I do not care much about music type to be suitable to art subject - for example if I paint blood lust monster It doesn't have to be "Slayer" or "Sepultura" sound track behind it, as a matter of fact the monster will be much more creepy look like if I have some classic music in my ears. But there are also subjects which has almost constant playlist, for example my AGOT work it is most probably made listening "Mind Gate" or "Lao Che" both are Polish bands. My last work "Angel" for example was made with listening Jana Todorovic, a briliant voice of Serbian pop singer. I rather do not seek an inspiration in meaning of lyrics, I like to make my own "story" to particular music atmosphere. Years ago I made a video clip placing Chemical Brothers track on "Joan D'Arc" movie by Besson. The lyrics and beat had nothing to do with medieval subject but the end result is pretty cool.

DW: One of my favorite works of yours is that dedicated to Glen. Do you believe that one image can do more than a thousand words?
TJ: Oh, I would never say something like that about any of my work. I believe an image can really do that but that must be brilliance in its brilliance. If you think „In the possession of green water" can really tell how I suffer that lose of Glen Angus then I am glad you are saying it. Maybe I will tell more about that story, the image concept was to paint Neida few years older when bad effects of being addicted to green water has changed her in a beautiful but deadly woman. Few moments before posting it this striking news came on me, and I was shocked. I barely knew Glen as a person, I was just a great fan of his work, and I believe I just post few times under his works and so did he under mine, we wasn't definitely close friends is what I am saying. But once I realize he's gone I realize I would never ever see his work posting on CGSociety again, so I put in this illustration description also, that we cannot appreciate someone's presence till he's gone, but then it is already too late. What is even worst we are all about to forget about those people gone pretty fast. That’s why I decided to keep my "grey scale” artwork dedicated for Glen as my default picture, forever as long my account stays on CGSociety.

DW: You were impressed by words one time and made a painting for a fan after reading his letter. Would you do it again? What should the letter sound like to impress you again?
TJ: I could quote that letter here so you could tell by yourself, but I would rather not, I have no permission to do that and the letter was full of love. Not to me :) but that guy to his wonderful girl. I am not that romantic as you might think but as I just said to him, I really like that he has courage to tell some strange artist about his deepest feelings and there was so much honesty in it, it is really rare these days to meet someone who isn’t afraid to talk about his feelings, I really respect that. So if someone would ask me about do that kind of thing again I probably will. I won’t tell you directly what should be in the letter to make me work on your Valentine portrait for your beloved girl, I just say I respect life, humanity, culture and intelligence, I always enjoy talking or working with smart, honest and good people, some silly things like money are no important then.

DW: I’ve seen a number of self-portraits, each one picturing you in different roles. Do you enjoy making these works and the transformations you suffer in your works?
TJ: I do, a lot :D But they were more like jokes you know. Mostly they are regular freelance characters just typed in description that is me because some of that vampires or monsters are reminders of me a little or they are just characters made for client and then I worked on them little more with beer in my hand, just for fun. And if they look little like me, well I guess most of artist do that put some their own personality in their characters... or backwards, they are painting characters that look as their best dream. My brother has a theory that every girl I painted looks as our mother, not straight, but there are some spots which reminds my mother personality, smile, corners of the lips or eyes, or hair, you know brother will spot that thing immediately :) So there is possibility most of my male characters contains some self-portrait elements, but as I said I enjoy it because I have lot of distance to myself and allow sometimes making jokes of me.

DW: Which plans or projects do you have for the future?
TJ: I hope I finally would find some time to finish my Venhelis project. But honestly I think about little break, I had lot of work recently, plus I have more duties now since I become husband and a father so it is most probably I will gone for a while.

Congratulations and thank you for your answers and amiability.

For a full portfolio and other information about Tomasz Jedruszek please visit his website, Morano.pl.

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Night of Knives" by Ian C. Esslemont

"Night of Knives"
by Ian C. Esslemont
Format: Paperback, 416 pages

Ian C. Esslemont’s “Night of Knives” is my first encounter with the Malazan Empire. I only acquired the novels of Steven Erikson this year, so my first step in the Malazan world was made through this novel.

The city of Malaz, set on the island with the same name and which gives the Empire its name, is preparing for an event that occurs once in a generation, The Shadow Moon. In this evening a Convergence happens and boundaries can be crossed between realms. Also it is said that tonight the Emperor Kellanved will return to reclaim his throne.

The events described by Ian C. Esslemont in his debut novel “Night of Knives” are related to the novels in the series Malazan Book of the Fallen written by Steven Erikson. But this doesn’t come as a surprise because the two authors worked together on building the Malazan world. For the newcomers some events related on this novel may be unknown and unfamiliar, but this fact will not be a barrier in enjoying this book. The novel is pretty much a standalone and I liked it as it is, even though I stepped over the events that were unfamiliar to me.

The story is told from the perspective of two main characters, Temper, a veteran soldier and Kiska, a young girl who is trying to be remarked and to get away from the island. I found both characters enjoyable and well built, but my personal favorite is Temper. I liked how the author worked with this one and I liked him since his first appearance in the novel. What drew me closer to this character is the fact that he has his weaknesses and his bad habits. I also really enjoyed the recollections of his past, when Temper remembers his fighting days.

I liked the entire atmosphere of the novel, dark and mysterious. The author makes a good job in building this atmosphere and helps the reader to step into the middle of this strange and dark night. Contributing to this dark atmosphere are the events of the novel, too. And all the events are condensed, because are concentrated only in one night. Therefore the novel benefits from a lot of action and although sometimes the pace decreases a little my general impression is good.

The description of Malaz City, the glimpses on the Malazan world history and Temper’s recollections of his battles were among my favorite parts of the novel. But above all what Ian C. Esslemont did with “Night of Knives” for me was to incite my appetite for the entire Malazan world and the novels of this series. Even though I enjoyed this novel as a standalone I believe that it will work its best after reading Steven Erikson’s novels. I would recommend this because I believe that when reading “Night of Knives” stumbling upon familiar places and events of Erikson’s series will add to the pleasure of this reading.

As I said Ian C. Esslemont’s novel, “Night of Knives”, stirred up my interest for Malazan world, but I will re-read the novel after I will travel once through “Malazan Book of the Fallen” series.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Personal library meme

I would admit something to you, I like looking at my personal library. I don’t know if everybody feels the same, but I, from time to time sit for a while in front of it and looking over my books. I will also admit that I know where a book is even if you wake me up in the middle of night. In my country runs a meme now regarding personal libraries. The biggest Romanian review blog, Bookblog, started this meme where people are posting pictures of their personal libraries. One of the nice guys, Kyondb, who are running another Romanian blog, Cititor SF (SF Reader in translation), tagged me on this meme. So here are two photos of one part of my precious :)
As for going further with this meme, I have so many people I like to tag that I will not do it, because I don’t want to forget somebody. Instead anybody that reads this post and wishes to play along please take a photo of your personal library and share it with us. I will certainly be interested to see your personal treasures ;)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In the mailbox

Three weeks ago Jeff and Ann VanderMeer came to Romania for the release of the Romanian edition of their anthology “New Weird”. I knew about their coming since July and I was planning to make a trip for this event and meet them. Unfortunately I couldn’t make the trip. Jeff and Ann VanderMeer came to two cities that are a little further away from where I’m living and cumulated with my working schedule and the event taking place on two week days I failed to make it there. I was a little disappointed because I would have liked to change a few words with them. Still my disappointment was sweetened a bit with the help of Horia Nicola Ursu, the editor of Millennium Press, the publishing house of the Romanian edition of “New Weird”. He gave me the possibility to have Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s dedication on my copy of the anthology. I’m not a collector of signed copies, even though I would like to have more of them, mainly because there aren’t many writers who come to Romania (at least from Fantasy and Science-Fiction genre) and the conventions are non-existent. But I do cherish the ones I have and now is included my copy of “New Weird” with the wonderful dedication written by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Weekly Fantasy Art - Kirsi Salonen

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist.

This Weekly Fantasy Art post has as guest one very talented artist, Kirsi Salonen. Kirsi Salonen is a Finnish artist, focused mainly on digital art. She graduated in 2001 from Valkeala High-School and in the spring of 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from South-Carelia Polytechnic Art School. She is working for over five years now as a professional artist and illustrator. She illustrated the covers of a number of novels published by Altair Australia Books, worked as concept artist for Osmo Production, Tuonela Productions and Black Halo Entertainment and she also illustrated role-playing cards for Fantasy Flight Games.

Her works were featured in a number of art exhibitions and some of her works were published in the titles published by Ballistic Publishing, “Exotiqué” and “Exposé”. Kirsi won several prizes on different digital art sites, “Golden Panda” won Silver (Excellence) award on “Exposé 6”, “Recall” won the Choice Award in CGTalk.com and “Handling Chaos” entered April’s Hall of Fame in CG Gallery at itsartmag.com. She is working now, among other projects, at an own fantasy novel, “Ordera”. I confess that I eye-picked this project and it looks promising. With such talent I believe that Kirsi Salonen has a bright future.

Interview Kirsi Salonen

Kirsi, first of all let me thank you for your amiability and the opportunity of this interview.
It's totally my pleasure, Mihai. Great that you asked me for this.

Dark Wolf: Do you remember when you had fallen in love with art? Can you remember your first drawings and at what age did you make them?
Kirsi Salonen: Many ways I do. I've always been a drawer, even from the age of 2. It's actually interesting that all of my drawings were like fully illustrated stories and more like comics before I was turning 10 or so. The consuming of paper was enormous in our household, *laugh*

Dark Wolf: Which are your favorite artists and which one of them influenced your works?
Kirsi Salonen: I'm quite picky what comes to selecting favorites. I like many individual pieces that have inspired me through the years, like John Collier, Rembrandt, Caspar David Friedrich, Rubens, just to name a few of the classical masters. But that list would get way too long if I'd start piling them all up here. A few modern artists have inspired me greatly over the years. Many of their works and amazing visions have pushed me to to do concept art and create creature illustrations of my own. These masters for me are Larry Elmore, H.R. Giger, Christophe Vacher, Dave McKean, Justin Sweet and Ashley Wood. Nowadays I mainly search my own thing instead of looking ways of others, but I will love their unique and ground-breaking styles and farsighted minds. The all represent a kind of career and status I'm aiming for as well.

Dark Wolf: The art techniques evolved in time and nowadays we have a great number of works digitally made. For you which is the preferred style of work, the old or the modern one?
Kirsi Salonen: Of course I'm a digital girl! Somehow I've known that from the first time I went through a basic course of Photoshop's use. That's now over 5 years ago. But in other hand, I respect the old ways of classical painting, handling lights and anatomy more than anything. My artistic history comes from a traditional school of art from where I graduated as a Bachelor of Fine Arts. So in one way, I am a traditional visual artist also none-the-less. It's funny.

DW: Many of your works are Fantasy art. What attracts you towards this theme?
KS: Easy to answer; imagination. Everything I do is about exploring imagination in ways of others might have not done before. I see 'reality' art not in many ways so flat and uninspirational, so that's why I rather choose another reality for my works. But many of the themes in my fantasy works can be brought to regular way of life too. It's all about what kind of thoughts and emotions the piece can cause in a viewer, and that matters me the most that people can see more than just a pretty picture.

DW: Speaking of Fantasy, do you like Fantasy literature? If yes which are your favorite writers and novels?
KS: Yes, very much. I've read them since very young age. It's totally unsurprising to reveal that my first fantasy novels were Dragon Lance-saga. These days there are so many new additions to that series, and I feel quite old and out of date to return with those anymore. Along with Lance, was of course The Forgotten Realms -saga. I was a huge fan of Drizzt Do'Urden for many of my teenage years.
Now as a realy grown-up, *laugh*, I'm more into intellectual fantasy, like Neil Gaiman's production, for example “Stardust”, “Neverwhere” and “Good omens” are amazing books. At the moment I'm reading “American Gods”. Also I like Terry Pratchett's impeccable sense of humor and storytelling. I really like his 'Grim reaper' and 'Mort' – pieces. All of these examples are just a tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on.
But there is also a line of books which are not fantasy, but more of the adventure-side which I really like too. Great classics like Eiji Yoshikawa's “Musashi”, Victor Hugo's “Les Miserables”, Henry Sienkiewicz's “Quo Vadis”, as examples. Also one of my top favorite is Brett Easton Ellis's “American Psycho”. Even though it's so gross, there is an amazing layer of genius humor and sarcasm that really hits me whole-heartedly.
Strangely, I didn't enjoy much reading Tolkien's “Lord of the Rings”, even that I read it before the movies came along. As comparison Michael Ende's “Story without an end” (better known as Neverending Story) is a thousand times better and appealing to me.

DW: I know from your website that many of your works have a story. Do you think of the story after you finish your paintings or sometimes the story comes first?
KS: Both is true in this case. I don't really know how much my subconscious 'plans' the works ahead before adding more story into it all. It's very hard to explain in a logical way. As I paint, I only try to be in my character's head, living the scene like it/him/her and make the atmosphere based on that. In many occasions stories are just a natural extension to the story already begun in my head.

DW: You told me that you are writing a fantasy novel and if I’m not mistaken it must be named “Ordera”. Can you reveal something about it, please?
KS: Of course, I'd be most happy to. It's a story that I started working on last year's July. As you know by now how I like to tell some extra lines with some of the artwork, so this time I took it all as a big step further. The name “Ordera” comes from the world's name, and it's a good process name for the whole concept. The book will be divided in two or maybe even three parts as it gets to the publishing phase. So it's a big novel indeed, and it's something I'm very passionate about at this moment.
In short and striking, the main theme is about survival and seeking out justice. In many parts it's like living two kinds of histories and it's a growth tale of two very different species and their heroes and leaders. I want to show how good and evil are not plain to see and how horrible things can be done even by the most noble ones, when they believe it's just. How evil is merely just a word and how hard is to see something else behind all the visible hatred.
There are no actual humans in Ordera, but main characters are consisted of human-like species called the guroae, sangrae, shawan and sentini, which last one is least humane. Plus there are several additional races along the way. I've decided to be a total renegade with this story by leaving out certain classical fantasy creature types and even humans. Frankly, the elves, orcs, dwarfs and super evil wizards just bore me to death and the world is so full of them by now. I wish that these new kinds of heroes and villains will be accepted as a fresh breeze in fantasy literature. Of course all this is only possible, if the book gets a green light for publishing and takes off by conquering the whole world! Laugh!
I am planning an introductory website for Ordera, to be launched presumably before Christmas, it so much depends on my work situations. The website is to show the main storyline, dive into character profiles, share some interesting short stories and of course sharing many illustrations me and a colleague of mine have made so far and are still yet to come. After the website, I hope it will not be too long until the book is available. Only thing that pains me that I have to get it out in Finnish before it can be translated into English. This whole process is very time consuming and requires a solid funding, nerves and some iron will before this all can come true. So many of my international friends, colleagues and fans have asked to purchase this book once it comes out and it will be a great day if and when I can deliver it to them, by mail and with a hard cover would be just ideal.

DW: I’ve noticed that many of your works have animals pictured. Are you fond of animals? Seeing your works, are the horses your favorite ones?
KS: Indeed I am a devoted animal lover.. I can't remember the time I wasn't. In these uncertain days it's become more and more evident to see how us people should pay attention to our surroundings and environment. If I can make even a slight difference by making art that's about important themes, such as animal cruelty or endangered species into people's attention and evoke thoughts and emotions through them, then I am very happy to be alive today. I have a dog of my own called Wario, he's a Belgian sheepdog and I consider him as my best friend, no doubt. I don't have favorite animals, they all deserve that privilege in this world.

DW: I also enjoyed some of your paintings that are centered on religious themes. Where from comes the inspiration for this works?
KS: That's quite a complicated question and hard to answer.. Ok, what I generally think about religions and beliefs is that it's a personal choice how you look at life, death, morals, beauty, good and bad, jin & yang, heaven & hell, etc.. At one time I was a raging atheist, as a teenager I mean. I had to go through that certain phase, and I it taught me a lot. Now years of growing up and life overall has proved me that it's totally useless to put energy into that kind of open negativity like 'I hate all religions, there is nothing out there because world is such a shitty place, stupid people believe in something that cannot be explained, etc etc'. I just think that sort of talk is such a waste of time. It not only decreases quality of life and ability to learn new things, but increases more uncertainty and self-loathing, which both leads to depression and useless angst. What I've learned so far that there is nothing wrong about whether you choose to live with or without religion, as long as you feel content and comfortable with your inner self.
Anyway, there religious themes are like conversations I like to take inside my head.. about what's in the soul and what is important and worth reaching out to during in this lifetime. It doesn't mean that I believe in resurrection and holy bible, I just see Christianity for example very inspiring to study from the artistic perspective. I like to separate certain controversial characters from the bible's common context and study them purely from personal point of view.
At one point I also noticed a certain repeating aspect in many of my paintings.. I'm meaning that often I make someone rescue another from some horrible fate. I haven't still totally figured out why I feel so strongly towards that theme. Maybe I just like to think there are still real heroes in this world, who will show how to do things plain and right.
Like in many Japanese animes and many oriental stories, people like to think high about brave self-sacrifice and love that is beyond life, it's a goal to prove one's worth. Naturally it's wonderful to believe that even the worst mistakes are forgiven by those we love most and in the end we could be true and vulnerable around each other without fear. Believing in such things lives in the depths of the human heart and exists in the back of our minds. That is also many ways the essence of religion and best beliefs, it makes us dream about being better and wiser than we are now. I think it's a beautiful thing as a idea and those utopic principles will never be fully replaced with scientific facts, technological benefits, or just saying 'I don't care, people evolve'.

DW: Other works are focused on human emotions. Do you believe that people are attracted by cruelty and suffering more than kindness and compassion?
KS: You make very interesting questions.. and challenging ones too. Well, as I said before about being true to ourselves, it's the same as painting emotions to my characters. It's like mirroring another being based on just imagination. It's always been a rewarding challenge to achieve the feeling I'm looking after before I start the work. Sometimes those emotional pieces are born accidentally, and those are nice surprises for me.
But to answer your question about cruelty versus kindness, I think it's more depending on media of today. Tv and media really love the fact that there are ongoing wars, nature's disasters, terrorism and unthinkable cruelty happening all around the world. It's because the media thinks that people are more interested about those things. In my opinion it's just sad and gives a false image of the world. I really believe media feeds on people's suffering and that only brings more unnecessary depression and aggression to people's lives. It affects the worst to the young kids, who have to grow up amidst all that useless information, that takes them away from their individual search of happiness and meaning. It's hard to let yourself be happy and innocent these days.. it shouldn't be like that because nobody deserves to suffer on behalf all planet and all misery that happens out there. Maybe it's the constant pressure and guilt that's passed on from our parents and banged in our heads that it's just plain and easy to 'enjoy' the violence and things that attract to angry emotions.

DW: Sometimes my mother (she is a passionate painter) draws on small pieces of paper or on paper napkins. What are you doing if your inspiration comes in an inappropriate place for drawing?
KS: *Laugh*, don't draw in inappropriate places.. that's one rare part of me that behaves in society's appropriate manners. Last time when I sketched something outside my house was a year back or so when I was supervising an art exhibition and was very bored. But that's not inappropriate to do, since it was in a gallery already, right? ;)

DW: Which one do you consider to be the most rewarding time in your career so far?
KS: Oh man.. there's so much to be thankful about and so much that's still ahead and waiting to be realized. But for now I must say that the past year I've spent with “Black Halo Entertainment”, making comics and concept art for them is been a blast. We still work together even thoug we live across the globe, so it's wonderful to share that kind of almost psychic connection with great clients.
Also, must be honest again and say that in just personal point of view it's been my book project that's felt the most rewarding, since it's opened many new ways of thinking and approaching things. It's brought a whole new field of passion along with visual arts and I really want to pursue towards this dream of having my own story brought to life as a full book. It brings weird vibes even to I think about it!

DW: I know that this question is like asking a parent to choose between his children, but of all your works do you have one that is closer to your heart?
KS: A few, yes. I am selective what comes to my 'children', as you nicely put it, hehe. There are few works which I see succeeded just as I intended and wouldn't change anything in them. These are pieces like “You sang to me”, “Recall”, “Celestial Brothers”. “Golden panda”, “Alpha” and “Stay with me”. Those are very dear works to me, but of course I might forget some others too.

DW: You are involved in many interesting projects, working with the Finnish metal band “Teräsbetoni”, with Black Halo Entertainment at the comic “The Story of Victoria DeLorme” and with Remington Scott at the concept art for the movie “Cockfighter”. Can you tell me, please, a little about these projects?
KS: Yeah, there's quite a few different projects that I've put my head into! As I mentioned a bit before, I'm still working with Black Halo Entertainment and currently I'm illustrating their first full-length comic of Victoria, a character that belongs to their own Black Halo series. It's fun and should be very cool to show around when the project finishes.
Teräsbetoni's commission was a shirt illustration, which was made especially for Eurovision song contest this year, to promote their song “Missä miehet ratsastaa”. It was fun to make and great to be a part of advertising Finnish good o'fashion heavymetal-loving culture.
“Cockfighter” is also an ongoing project, which has just started its long journey last June. The story is based on Remington Scott's original screenplay and it's an amazing an original type of fantasy fairytale. I'm designing the preliminary concept artworks and hopefully next year it's able to go into production. This is very exciting for me to be part of and it's like stepping into high strappy shoes after gotten used to slippers, the opportunity is awesome ;)

DW: So many projects must take a lot of time. But how do you prefer to work, on a tight schedule or on a most relaxing manner?
KS: Sometimes relaxing way is great and sometimes it makes me just lazy. I try to find a middle ground in my timetables, so there wouldn't be too long delays or problems with different clients. And of course I sometimes require time for myself and then I might just go crazy and work all night through.. or play PS2 or Wii for a week in a row to recharge my batteries.Anyway, I am a hard worker and rarely take full vacation off-work, since making and thinking art is a way of life for me. Most of the time I don't even see it as a profession, it goes along with me no matter where I go or what I do.

DW: Which one will be the dream project for you? Would you like to work with someone in particular?
KS: Dreams are in so many different forms and shapes and many of them change and disappear over time. At one time of my life I really believed that my future is destined to be in game industry. But then things changed and I thought about priorities in my life. It was close I didn't move out to another country for a certain vacation in a game company. Now I'm glad how things turn out, it feels like I am doing the things I value and love, not just to entertain and forget the reality through games, but to share thoughts through images and stories, that makes you wonder like a child again. Stories, that makes me really tick. Stories through either images, live footage or on paper, either way is great, as long as it has a real and significant message to share.
I have two dream projects now. One is to see my book turned into a feature film one day, rather at the time I'm still alive to see it, haha! Other is to make a loooong and comprehensive series of paintings, which shows all kinds of people portraying with a very rare animal. It's a calling which would be amazing to do with WWF as example.

DW: What projects do you have for the future?
KS: Now I'm pretty much concentrating on these comics I have been doing and also there are a few interesting commissions waiting in line. Freelancer's job is never dull, I always expect the unexpected and looking forward gazing into the blurry future. I only know that I enjoy life in full at this moment and wouldn't want to change a thing =)

Thank you very much for your answers and time, Kirsi. It has been a pleasure and I wish you the best of luck with your projects.
Thank you for this wonderful interview Mihai. Was a real joy talking about these kinds of subjects. I hope we can talk again like this sometime in the future =)

For complete information and artwork, please visit Kirsi's website, The Art of Kirsi Salonen.

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ask the Bloggers

John over at the Grasping for the Wind continues his series of posts, “Ask the Bloggers”. Unfortunately, for a period I didn’t have the time to answer his interesting questions, but I will try to post about the last two of them here.

Should SF&F books have maps included for the readers? Are there any special conditions when they should or should not? Was there ever a book you wished had map that didn't? Or vice versa? (Other answers at Grasping for the Wind)

I really enjoy the maps featured at the beginning of the fantasy novels. Since childhood I was attracted by geography and history, these two being my favorite courses at school, after literature obviously. And I always liked to study the maps of geography and history atlases.

At first my imagination worked from the map to a daydream. I always pictured places I saw on the map, imagining how a city might look, the beauty of a region or how a specific place looked on a past period of time. Well, now is much easier with the access to information through Internet. When I discovered the fantasy novels the process reversed, I imagine the world created by the author with the help of his novel, but I like to see a map of that world because it helps to build a stronger image of that specific world.

Sometimes the maps featured by the novels seem drawn without much implication and seem made in a hurry and in that case I would not look at them and I consider them non-existent. But most of the time the maps of the fantasy world or cities bring me a great joy and add to the pleasure of reading. So, I will respond with a strong yes to this question. I think that SF&F books should have maps, mainly because it gives a chance to a stronger interaction between the reader and the novel.

What kind of book cover attracts your attention? What attributes of the cover make you more or less likely to take it off the shelf? Does the spine of the book have any effect on your choices? (Other answers at Grasping for the Wind)

I think the first contact between a reader and a novel is the cover. Although the most important part of a novel is between its covers the outside package plays a part in the process too. When I walk in a library and look on the shelves I tend to look first at the cover of a novel that has an unknown author to me. Every time I end up picking the ones which have covers that might make a story by themselves. After this initial contact I check the back cover, so I believe that the covers play the most important part in this process.

I’m a lover of fantasy art and I really enjoy the works in this field. But because of this sometimes I end up judging only the cover and that it is a bad thing, because it might damage my perception of a book without being the story within the covers fault. I try to restrain myself in those cases and judge every part on its own as much as possible. What I don’t like on covers are those featuring well muscled, half-naked men and poorly dressed, voluptuous women. These covers give me a sensation of superficial content.

As for the spine of the book, this one doesn’t have any effect on me. I can’t remember one time when it influenced my choice.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Bitterwood" by James Maxey

Format: Paperback, 496 pages
Publisher: Solaris

“Bitterwood” is the second novel of James Maxey after his debut novel, “Nobody Gets the Girl”.

In a world dominated by dragons, Bitterwood is a legendary figure, a dragon killer. And when “The Ghost Who Kills” as Bitterwood is also known kills Bodiel, the king’s son, the dragon king Albekizan tries to revenge his son’s death by killing every human in his kingdom. But not every dragon sustains his actions and not every dragon shares his vision. The humans will retaliate too and Bitterwood will continue his vengeful mission.

The story of the novel has Bitterwood as his key figure, as the novel’s name states, but surprisingly is not centered on this character. I mean that Bant Bitterwood is not the only main character and sometimes he even falls on the second plan. He also is not the typical hero, I don’t think he is a hero at all, he is not driven by noble or altruistic motives and he only seeks vengeance. At the beginning of the novel Bitterwood is introduced through other characters perceptions and the forays in his past. I enjoyed the foray in his past and I liked him as a character, mainly because he is quite human in his selfishness and his actions are not the most moral ones.

The story in “Bitterwood” unfolds many layers, follows a number of characters and benefits from a lot of action. Every plot which composes this story draws to a common point towards the end of the novel. Most of the characters are dragons, but I also followed the stories of some of the humans. Although the novel focuses on a great number of characters and stories I didn’t had problems in following all of them, because the author makes this task easier and he doesn’t complicate the story unnecessary. The novel is full of action and the moments when the pace is slowed are few or inexistent. The author mixes for the novel’s action ingredients like intrigue, adventure, revenge, moral issues.

Unfortunately the characterization is not the strong point of the novel. Because of its great number the characters, some of them seem to be unfinished and not fully developed. Although some of them are pretty interesting neither of them benefit from of an in depth characterization. I failed to find the use of some of them like Zeeky. Even though I liked this character and his childish behavior she doesn’t seem to play any role in the story. But as the story ends with her I think that she will be developed in a following novel. The same thing happens to Gadreel, a slave dragon, who doesn’t seem to have a specific role. I would have liked to see other characters developed, like Vendevorex, Metron and even Bitterwood.

The ideas behind the world building are very interesting and I really like those. I will not reveal much here because it will spoil your read, but I will say that the concept is interesting and intriguing. With elements of science fiction added on the fantasy background the general idea sets the imagination on fire. I also liked the dragon society, with social structure, with three different species of dragons every one of them with a specific role and its own characteristics. Unfortunately like the characterization the world building is not developed in full either. The idea and the mystery around her is touched only on basis and it left me a little disappointed by her underdevelopment and left my imagination ablaze.

James Maxey’s ideas behind the world building, the fast pace of the novel and the action make of “Bitterwood” an enjoyable read and despite its flaws is an entertaining fantasy adventure.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Back home

Hi everybody :), I’m back. It was a pretty difficult trip this time, we were short handed and that meant a lot more work and less time for reading. Still, I finished “Bitterwood” by James Maxey and I’m working at the review right now and I hope to post it tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Also, the Weekly Fantasy Art post is almost ready and we will meet a young and very talented artist.

In the future I hope to manage the schedule posting offered by Blogger and I hope to write some posts in advance so while I’m away the blog will feature some posts instead of the period of silence. I hope everybody had a great week and I hope that this one will be even better.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Business trip

Tomorrow morning I will leave on a business trip for a week. So for the next week I will not be able to post and my access to Internet will be limited to a minimum. If I’m not answering my mail please do not worry, as soon as I return home I will answer my messages. Until next week please feel free to read my posts, new or old, and to use the links to the excellent blogs and sites from the left. And I hope all of you will have a marvelous week :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

In the mailbox

These are the last books which I received while I was on vacation. I had a mailbox full of books to my great joy. So here they are with my thanks for the publishers that send me these review copies:

- "The Guin Saga: The Leopard Mask" by Kaoru Kurimoto (through the courtesy of Vertical Inc.);
- "The Guin Saga: Warrior in the Wilderness" by Kaoru Kurimoto (through the courtesy of Vertical Inc.);
- "The Guin Saga: The Battle of Nospherus" by Kaoru Kurimoto (through the courtesy of Vertical Inc.);
- "The Guin Saga: Prisoner of the Lagon" by Kaoru Kurimoto (through the courtesy of Vertical Inc.);
- "The Guin Saga: The Marches King" by Kaoru Kurimoto (through the courtesy of Vertical Inc.);
- "Low Man" by T.J. Vargo (through the courtesy of Leucrota Press).

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Weekley Fantasy Art

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

As I told you last week my blog will feature a weekly post dedicated to Fantasy art. You know by now that I’m a passionate reader and a lover of Fantasy genre. As I told you my love for fantasy walks on the art path too, so I hope I can delight you weekly (I can’t promise it weekly because of my work schedule, but I’ll try it) with works and artists that touch this genre. I hope you will enjoy these new posts and if you had suggestions I'll be happy to hear them.

The first post is dedicated to Kerem Beyit and his works. Kerem Beyit was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1980. He studied graphic design at the department of graphics of Gazi University. Without a proper training in illustration he taught himself with the help of the works of Frank Frazetta and Gerald Brom. He is working in digital area for four years and he was awarded on several websites and communities for digital artists. Also his works were selected for two albums, Exposé and Exotique, published by Ballistic Publishing. Among his works we find a number of book covers and he is currently working as a freelance artist.

Interview Kerem Beyit

Dark Wolf: Kerem, thank you for the opportunity of this interview. For start, can you trace your passion for art in time? When did you become aware of your talent?
Kerem Beyit: Although I wasn’t particularly aware of it as a kid, I remember thinking I wasn’t too shabby. However, it was 2004 when I focused on the talent and decided to improve it.

Dark Wolf: Which are your favorite artists and which one, in particular, influenced your works?
Kerem Beyit: If I had to give a name that has impressed me since my childhood and has taken me to places with his works, it would be Frazetta. But there are hundreds of artists that inspires and affects me, and among them Jim Murray, Raymond Swanland and Todd Lockwood are my top three I guess.

DW: From the different techniques used (the traditional painting, drawing and the modern digital one), which one do you prefer in particular?
KB: Of course I’ll vote for digital since I’m very accustomed to the convenience and advantages it provides. When I want to try something new, I don’t think twice before putting it into practice on the canvas, if it doesn’t turn out to be as I expected, I simply go back. I’m so used to this that while I’m drawing on my table and do something wrong, I look for the ctrl-z button as a reflex :)

DW: Working in the modern computerized method involves drawing the same work on paper first?
KB: I usually start my process with sketching on paper, but this is not a must, there are pieces which I directly started on the computer. That depends on your preference, sometimes you start with lines, and sometimes with forms.

DW: I read on your website that you had a period of time without drawing. How hard was it for you to be a part of your passion?
KB: I wasn’t planning on an illustration career back then anyway, so it wasn’t really hard for me, the hard part came later on when I decided to make a career out of illustrating, it was pretty bitter realizing how many years I had wasted. But I was able to cut my losses and go on, that’s the important thing here.

DW: I’ve seen a great range of Fantasy art among your works. Is this your favorite theme? What attracted you to this genre?
KB: Usually, it’s the clients who make that choice for me. I mean, most of the job offers I get are related to fantasy genre and you know what, I’m really good at sci-fi and macabre as well :) But I’m not complaining because I enjoy working on fantasy-themed pieces tremendously.

DW: Now I eye picked your site and I saw that you like R.A. Salvatore’s “Dark Elf” series. Did you made any personal drawings of Drizzt? Would you like to make a cover for these novels?
KB: No, but I want to. It’s kind of difficult to find the time for doing fanart. I would love to do Drizzt covers but Lockwood has already done a hell of a job so I don’t think its particularly necessary :)

DW: Your portfolio has a great number of drawings of dragons. Are you fond of these mythical creatures or is only a working interest?
KB: I love drawing dragons, any kind of creature for that matter since I feel more liberated while drawing something that does not have a represantative in nature.

DW: I’ve seen that you did a number of covers for books. Can you name some of them, please? And can you tell me what involves the work for a book cover?
KB: I haven’t done many book covers lately, I’m very preoccupied with improving my portfolio. But in the past, I made cover arts for Bernard Cromwell’s Arthur, and Steven Brust’s Taltos series, for the Turkish versions that is.
Doing book covers requires a harmonious relationship with editors. It’s important to acquire the necessary info by reading the book, or at least a short summary of it in order to fully understand the characters. Then you should attach importance to visualizing them in an as impressive fashion as possible.

DW: Which was the most rewarding time in your career so far?
KB: I’m only at the beginning of my career, so I haven’t really been through a rewarding phase. But having been awarded in cg websites and been included in the major annual albums did make me feel good.

DW: I know that every artist loves all his works, but there is one in particular closer to your heart or do you consider one better than the others?
KB: Actually, I don’t really like my own works, I get bored with them real quick.

DW: I read on your website that you are now working as a freelance artist? What advantages do you have as a freelance artist?
KB: Do you have time? :) Seriously though, there are so many. I grew to like working as a freelance artist so much that I can’t even picture myself in an inhouse position because for me working freelance means determining my own hours in the comfort of my home which provides an absolutely stress-free working environment.

DW: Which opportunity of work would be hard to refuse for you? Would you like to work with a person or a company in particular?
KB: Well, I’m not too picky about offers and when I do refuse a job offer, I always have a good reason to. So, no there’s no hardship involved. Sometimes I get offers asking for a theme that I really want to work on but due to the insufficent budget they have, I have no choice but to refuse them although I feel bad about it.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a company or an individual as long as the result is going to be something I’ll be proud of and I receive the reimbursement for my work, I’m in.

DW: What projects do you have for the future?
KB: I have comic book projects in waiting because we’re having problems with financing. Other than that, I have an artbook project I’m currently working on which is due to be published in 2009. I’m diligently creating new pieces for it and for my portfolio every day. When I reach the level I’m aiming for, I’ll present my portfolio to several RPG publishers.

Thank you very much for your answers and for your time, Kerem. It has been a pleasure.
Thanks, cheers

For a more vast collection of Kerem's art, for his portofolio and any other information you can visit his website, The Art of Kerem Beyit.

© The artwork presented on this post is used with the permission of its author. All the artwork is copyrighted. Please do not use the images without the permission of the artist or owner.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"The Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss

"The Name of the Wind"
Format: Paperback, 672 pages
Publisher: Gollancz

The first thing that caught my eye on “The Name of the Wind” was the synopsis, which states: “My name is Kvothe. You may have heard of me.” And so indeed I did heard of him and of Patrick Rothuss’ debut novel. All the reviews and the information of the novel put it in a favorable light and that raised my expectations for this novel.

The reader is introduced in the beginning to the Waystone Inn and its innkeeper, Kote. But the regular and amiable innkeeper is only a mask for Kvothe, a man who wanted to be the most powerful wizard and who wanted to find the name of the wind. With the apparition of the Chronicler at the Waystone Inn Kvothe starts to recount the story of his life. From the childhood spent along with his parents in their traveling troupe of artists, through the streets of Tarbean as a homeless and poor child to the days of his adolescence at the University.

The novel of Patrick Rothfuss is like a fortune cookie. We have the actual cookie baked from sweet and delightful dough and the message baked inside the cookie which makes it interesting. The message is the story of Kvothe, told from the first person perspective. Using the first person Patrick Rothfuss brings the reader more closely to the main character, Kvothe. And I came closer and closer to Kvothe throughout his early life told in the pages of “The Name of the Wind” the first part of “Kingkiller Chronicle” trilogy. All I can think of at the end is that the childhood and adolescence of Kvothe is the story that every child dreamed of living if he was supposed to choose one, except the violent and unfortunate part I believe. What I also really liked at Kvothe is how his feelings are caught and described, grief, fear cover by an apparent confidence, the young lover unrest. And also how he deals with the school bully, which can be quite amusing sometimes.

Patrick Rothfuss shows us glimpses of his fantastic world, but the world building is sacrificed to the main story. However even though the world building is touched only briefly I liked what the author showed me so far. I liked the religious aspect which involves a main God figure and some religious conduit imposed. I liked that this world has legends and a history behind it. And these aspects are reflected on the local traditions and local holidays, like the Midwinter Pageantry or Harvest festival. I liked that the inhabitants use different languages depending on their nationality. But like I said all these aspects are touched superficially and all I can hope is that they will be developed in the next novels.

Another interesting aspect is the magic system, but this one too is sacrificed to the main story. Except here I’m certain that will be a development in the novels which will follow “The Name of the Wind”. I’m hoping and I’m waiting because runes, the binding of runes and using the true name of things sound impressive and attractive enough for a magic system.

“The Name of the Wind” suffers a great deal at its rhythm. It is a fantasy novel, but it doesn’t fall under the category of action fantasy. It is more of a coming of age and a development of a character, building it for his farther adventures. None of the less I was entertained by the novel and I got a great portion of adventures, but sometimes the rhythm is slowed down. Fortunately the slow moments of the novel don’t last long and are followed if not by an action moment by an interesting one for certain. And the end of the novel is a teaser leaving me in a long expectation for the following novels.

With “The Name of the Wind” Patrick Rothfuss makes a strong debut and with a debut such as this one I know for certain that fantasy literature has a bright future.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Autumn spoilage

It looks like autumn kicks off in style and we are spoiled since the beginning of this season. It is the harvest season and we can harvest some books through a great number of contest. Let's go reap the giveaways crop:

First of all, Robert at Fantasy Book Critic has three great contest. The first giveaway has three sets of both Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book" and Terry Pratchett's "Nation". This contest is open to anyone and it will end on September 30, 2008.
The second giveaway has three sets of both "The Dreaming Void" and "The Temporal Void", the novels of Peter F. Hamilton. This contest is also open to everyone and it will end on October 3, 2008.
The last but not least is the Simon R. Green contest. The winner of this giveaway will receive one of the three sets of omnibuses, "Into the Nightside", "Haunting the Nightside" and "The Dark Heart of Nightside", which gather the first six Nightside novels.

Paul at the Blood of the Muse spoils us with another signed copy. The winner of his competition will receive a signed copy of "Night Rising" by Chris Marie Green. This contest ends on September 20, 2008.

Pat at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist has two giveaways too. The first one has three copies of Brandon Sanderson's "The Hero of Ages", the third novel in the Mistborn series.
The other contest has a treasure as a prize, 55 speculative fiction titles. Yes, that's right, 55 titles. However a condition to enter this competition is that the winner must be willing to pay for shipping.

So I'll be a little busy signing for this excellent competitions, but I think it is worth it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Postman Always Rings Twice

As I said after my return from vacation I found a mailbox full of books. I almost finished taking the photos, so here it is another post about the books in my mailbox:

- "The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 18" edited by Stephen Jones (through the courtesy of Constable & Robinson);
- "The Mammoth Book of Best Horror Comics" edited by Peter Normanton (through the courtesy of Constable & Robinson);
- "The Mammoth Book of Extreme Fantasy" edited by Mike Ashley (through the courtesy of Constable & Robinson);
- "The Mammoth Book of the Best of the Best New SF" edited by Gardner Dozois (through the courtesy of Constable & Robinson);
- "The Devil You Know" by Mike Carey (through the courtesy of Grand Central Publishing);
- "Vicious Circle" by Mike Carey (through the courtesy of Grand Central Publishing).

Thank you very much for these wonderful treasures.