Posts Tagged ‘Evie Manieri’

The Year End Shenanigans for 2013 is going to focus on the books I’ve been reading. Largely because of all that free time I don’t have, I’ve scaled back on book review posts here. But I still love pontificating about great writing and spreading the word. I picked up most of the books I read now because of the people around me, so I want to do the same for the great things I read.

I’m not really feeling detailing out the query grind on this. Anyone familiar with a query grind is nodding knowingly right now anyways.

Onward to the books! I’m going to do this is lumps rather than singling out titles for specific things. Why? Cause it’s my post and I can do what I wanna! Except for the first thing. Always with the exceptions. But it’s an important one…

The Most Recommended Book of the Year

The Lives of Tao / The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu

From the overlords at Angry Robot Books, the first Tao book came out in February and did so well the second was pushed up to October. Hence I’m listing them both. There’s all sorts of awesome going on with these books which can tell you all about why I liked it. What makes the Tao books so recommendable for me though is the genre blend going on here. Chu writes science fiction with a healthy dose of adventure thriller. It opens doors to a broader audience. There’s something special about accessible genre writing. We’re not going to grow the genre without pulling new people in. A lot of readers I know in real life don’t read off of the same lists that I do. Tao has been recommended to the military SF readers to the non-SF Jack Reacker Clive Cussler crowd.

The Most Influence on My Own Writing

I guess I lied and I am going to talk about my writing a little bit. This is a special kind of category for me though. I firmly believe that you can’t help being influenced by everything you read. You take cues from positive things you read and steer clear of the stuff you don’t like. There are a few authors that have very directly influenced both the book that I’m shopping around and the one I’m writing right now.

In Amity, the book I finished polishing over the summer, there are two chapters specifically dedicated to positive writing influences. There is a Soviet style show trial going on dedicated to Saladin Ahmed. The third POV character needed the perspective shift so it was dedicated to a person who challenges people to broaden their own perspective both in his writing and generally in life. The second scene in Amity specially dedicated is to Myke Cole. It’s actually one of my favorite scenes in the whole entire novel. There’s a riot cop facing off with my main protag. There’s a respect that they’re both just doing their job… one that happens to put them at odds with each other.

My current in-progress novel, the Rhode Island godpunk, owes a lot to Chuck Wendig first. There is so much swearing involved and Wendig is a virtuoso of swears. Seriously, I work in a shipyard and swear every tenth word and it has taxed my ability to creatively swear. The female lead of my book has a little bit of Miriam Black in her. The book also owes a tip of the hat to Delilah Dawson. Remember Wicked as They Come? Oh yeah. Don’t fear the smooching in SF! There’s totally smooching happening because that’s what the characters want, it’s what they need. My novel doesn’t work without the chemistry between the two leads and that means there’s smooching.

The Favorites of 2013

favorites2013I will leave you now with blurb sized exhultations of my favorite books of the year, in no particular order beyond how they’re piled on my kitchen table right now. Fun fact, I got to meet three of the five at conventions this year. They were all very awesome people and personalized books for me. Also, I saw Wes Chu in the distance at Readercon.

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu – A genre blend that takes one of my all time favorite tropes, multiple consciousnesses stuffed inside of the same noggin and throws in a history spanning secret war.

Shadow Ops: Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole – Ok so I got to read it early before it’s January release date, but it still counts because I say it does. Bookbinder is a fantastic character bringing a different perspective to the military based SF. The logistics guys are just as important as the front line fighters but it’s not a POV that’s full of traditional glory. I loved getting the new view as watching Bookbinder grow into the roll he is thrown into. I’m loving this series enough that I already made my local B+N order book three for me so I can have it on day one.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch – How could I not include the new adventures of Locke and Jean? I drove to Massachusetts so I could get mine from the man himself. (I also won at twitter that day) We finally got to see Sabetha in action. Finally! Book one was Locke as a planner and in book two, he was more reactionary. In book three, he’s matching wits with his equal, not something he ever really has to do even when shit hits the fan.

Blood’s Pride by Evie Manieri – Straight up proper fantasy novels have had a resurgence in my reading lists lately. There’s a lot of tradition embroiled in fantasy and that’s not always a good thing. Manieri takes all the good parts of the epic fantasy and strips away all the bad breathing new life into the stodgy genre at the same time. World spanning sprawl and very personal stories come together to make something very special.

Wicked as They Come by Delilah S Dawson – I picked this up as a recommendation by Chuck Wendig. This is dimension hopping science fiction sprinkled liberally with steampunk but shelved as romance. Forget artificial shelf segregation and do yourself a favor by reading this. Tish has a fantastic character arc pulling herself back together after some bad times. The world building is top notch. So what that there’s smooching? Embrace the smooching!

Blood’s Pride

Posted: August 10, 2013 in Reading
Tags: ,

bloodsprideCatching up with my blog backlog, it’s time to hit up one of my major scores from Readercon. Thanks to the power of twitter, I got to meet Evie Manieri, author of Blood’s Pride. Twitter is awesome like that what with facilitating a community outside of the little cell phone windows too.

So I’ve been excited about the fantasy side of our genre a lot more recently than I had been in a few years. People like Sam Sykes, Joshua Palmatier/Ben Tate and the new Scott Lynch just over the horizon have really brought me back to swords and magic again. Now I first found out about Manieri and Blood’s Pride because of ye old twitter again and it caught my interest right away. I was impressed enough to actually break my Paperback Rule and spring for the hardcover when I was at Readercon.

We’re just going to get on with the Inside of the Flap (hardcover and all)

Evie Manieri’s Blood’s Pride is the first book of The Shattered Kingdoms, an engaging, action-packed, and “highly imaginative” (Kirkus Reviews) series of fantasy novels with epic scope and “the perfect mix of romance, family ties, betrayals, and agonizing dilemmas” (RT Book Reviews).

Rising from their sea-torn ships like vengeful, pale phantoms, the Norlanders laid waste to the Shadar under cover of darkness. They forced the once-peaceful fisher folk into slavery and forged an alliance with their former trading partners, the desert-dwelling Nomas tribe, cutting off any hope of salvation.

Now, two decades after the invasion, a rebellion gathers strength in the dark corridors of the city. A small faction of Shadari have hired the Mongrel, an infamous mercenary, to aid their fledgling uprising—but with her own shadowy ties to the region, she is a frighteningly volatile ally. Has she really come to lead a revolution, or for a more sinister purpose all her own?

Set in a fictional quasi-Medieval Mediterranean region with a strong cast of male and female characters, the series “presents a striking world with civilizations similar to those of the Vikings and the nomadic cultures of the Middle East, and with the Mediterranean sensibilities of the ancient Greeks. Her characters are passionate and memorable, lending a personal touch to a complex tale of clashing cultures and philosophies. Fans of Sharon Shinn, Elspeth Cooper, and Gail Z. Martin should enjoy Manieri’s approach to culture and drama.” (Library Journal, starred review)

The quotes in this flap copy are good. They show a lot of promise right in there, especially the talk of worldbuilding. I love me some worldbuilding. The Norlanders, the Shadari and the Nomas all have very distinct and unique cultures. A lot of details have gone into the cultures of the three peoples. While the book never actually goes to the Norlanders home, their physiology is shaped by their home environment. Coming from a frozen, dark land, sunlight can actually burn and kill them because it’s not something they have to live with. The Nomas culture is one I really find interesting and want to see more of in future books. The men are desert nomads. The women are ocean going nomads. They only get together a couple times a year. The Shadari are really the primary people for Blood’s Pride. They’re a subjugated culture. They themselves are discovering bits and pieces of of their past in order to shape their future. The pieces always fit within a larger picture. I felt that the grand picture of the glory days of Shadari were fully realized, even if we didn’t get to see all of it on the page. It was lurking there in the background with all its influence.

One of my favorite details in Blood’s Pride is a pretty small one but the kind that really makes the different cultures come alive to me. When the Norlanders invaded, they did on the backs of flying beasts kind of like drakes. The two different people use different words for them. The Norlanders call them triffons and the Shadari call them dereshadi (giving my spellcheck a heart attack). (Also, spellcheck doesn’t like the world spellcheck) I know things like this are set dressing in the grand scheme of things, but I’ve always thought that the set dressing in fantasy needs more colorful details than any other subset of the SF world. Maybe it’s because I read so much fantasy back in my formative days and I’ve seen so much it takes more to impress me. Details like that impress me.

So I’ve talked a lot about the details of Blood’s Pride, but what about the characters and story? That’s really where the meat and potatoes of any book comes from. The book opens with an actual Dramatis Personae. Hell yes. There are a lot of people in this book and while I never really lost track of who was who, it’s is a comfort to have. It’s also really helpful for people writing blog posts who can’t spell.

There really is a lot going on but at the same time I thought it was very streamlined. The Mongrel, aka Meiran (see the bad ass on the cover above) is the merc to beat all mercs. A scrappy group of rebels among the Shadari hire her to come in, bust some heads and free their people. It is simple at its heart, like all good stories should be. But also like all good stories, there are a lot of complications. The Norlander governor is in his sickbed leaving his children to maneuver among themselves. Frea, know to the Shadari as the White Wolf, is an iron fist. Eofar, not so much. He’s actually friends with Daryan, his personal servant who happens to be the next in line to lead the Shadari. Isa wants to be the proper Norlander but it isn’t what’s in her heart. There’s a schism among the Shadari rebels between Harotha and Faroth. The Mongrel, she was hired to crack head but is going about it in a very roundabout way. She’s got a half dozen of her own motives. At every turn she seems to be helping a different section.

Got enough layers yet? Let’s add in some prophetic visions for Harotha to chase after. Oh wait, and what’s the number one conflict between people? Relationships. Across cultures for good measure. I’m not going to spoil who’s with who but it’s a very real driving force for these characters. As it should be. It’s a driving force between real people, so it should be in fictional people.

Isa is actually my favorite character. She goes thought some heavy stuff in the course of this book, more than anyone else I think. Physically and emotionally she gets beaten up quite a bit in her quest to be a “true Norlander” even though she was born and raised in the Shadar. Her character arc is the most profound. Around the 2/3 mark of the book she’s the focus of one of toughest and best moments of the book.

So I’ve talked a lot about the world building and the characters with their many layers of plots. Bringing this around to a conclusion, Blood’s Pride is very reminiscent of the high fantasy of the 80s and 90s. Moving around the POVs a lot and the huge plot web really bring the feel about to me. Blood’s Pride is like the fantasy books from back in the day but with all the crap from back in the day stripped away, distilled down to all the good parts.