Posts Tagged ‘Paul S Kemp’

I actually have some free time and today (edit, not really. I wrote half of this last Tuesday) so I am going to use it to talk about awesome books. Or at least, books I expect to be awesome. I’m not going to talk about books I’ve already finished this time. I’m elbow deep into Dance with Dragons anyways, so the previous read was a while ago. Today, I want to talk about the books in my To Read Pile. They’re sitting on the shelf, waiting to be read as soon as I finish this last GRRM tome. Of course, at the speed I’ve been getting books done lately, I’ll see October before I finish this pile.













So that’s them, held up with a Medusa head. That’s how I roll. Time to talk about them. From top to bottom and left to right.

Generation V by M. L. Brennan – I think I first heard about her because Brennan was at NY ComicCon with Myke Cole. That sounds about right. Then I saw on twitter she was going to be doing a reading from the latest book in Providence and I was all like “Holy shit! People do things in Rhode Island! …. on days I’m unavailable…” One thing I’m seriously jazzed about, this book takes place in Rhode Island! New Yorkers can get blaze about urban fantasy happening in their backyard but after the author tweeted “Enjoy the RI locales”, I skimmed for where they were. The protag lives in Cranston, all of two miles from my house. I’m absolutely going to troll Cranston and take pictures of where the book happens. I’ve always wanted to do that (the pictures part, not trolling Cranston)

The Cracked Throne by Joshua Palmatier – This guy is a Shelf of Honor author with Well of Sorrows (as Benjamin Tate). This particular book is the second book in his first trilogy. Honestly, I often don’t read the back of the book for Shelf of Honor authors, or sequels to books I already liked. I don’t need any further convincing to buy them and the way the last book left off, the second should pick up pretty shortly after. I first saw him at Boskone 49.

Half-off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire – This is book three in the InCryptid series. I think this will be the fifth of hers that I’ve read. I first started reading her books from a recommendation by Jim Hines. I started with InCryptid, instead of the Toby Daye books, because InCryptid was brand new at the time. McGuire was the Guest of Honor at the last Boskone and is pretty rad.

A Discourse in Steel by Paul S Kemp – Another sequel. Hrm, seems I have a lot of these. This is the second Egil and Nix book. They buckle swashes and kick asses. I’m pretty sure I learned of these books because anything published by Angry Robot is automatically on my radar.

Tricked by Kevin Hearne (a.k.a. Taco Pope) – Book four of the Iron Druid Chronicles, which is up to six or seven plus some novellas. I found Hearne off a recommendation via Sam Sykes (who was recommended by Scalzi). The protag, Atticus, and his dog Oberon are one of the best duos in the SF genre. There’s just as much humor in these books as the serious stuff. It makes the books refreshing.

In a Fix by Linda Grimes – This is a straight up bookstore browse find, the only proper one on the list. The protag is a “human chameleon” who pretends to be other people to fix things for them. Like getting someone to accept a marriage proposal. Shapeshifters and spies? Done. You don’t need any more to sell it.

The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig – Here’s some more awesomeness from Angry Robot Books. This is book three of the Miriam Black series, which just got picked up for a TV deal on Stars. Wendig writes with a lot of flair. And swears. So many swears. He’s also one of the go to people for writing shop talk. I read the first Miriam Black book when it was brandy new based off the trifecta of Lauren Beuckes, John Scalzi and the power of the Angry Robot.

The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig – Copy and paste half of above right here. This is the start of a new series about gangsters and demons and magic.

Zeus and Co. by David Lee Jones – This is an old one I scored on a Book Barn browse. That’s the seriously epic used book store down in Connecticut. The book is old enough that it doesn’t even have a picture on Goodreads. I can’t even find any sort of web page for the correct David Lee Jones. It’s about hackers and Greek gods. I love godpunk so I nabbed this right away. I’m sure the 20 year old tech is going to be silly in it’s oldness, but I’m hoping it holds up anyways.

 Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest – Buying this book was another no-brainer. Fiddlehead is part of the Clockwork Century series which was bequeathed (bequoth?) on the Shelf of Honor. The series is often considered the definitive books of steampunk. I also enjoy how they are all interconnected but still readable as individuals. That’s a nice trait when I don’t usually have time to go back and reread a whole series. I think I first put Boneshaker (the first Clockwork Century) on 2009’s Xmas list after reading a Scalzi Big Idea post.

The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin – This book takes place in a world where the dominant magic system is fueled by people’s dreams. That is bad ass. The practitioners of this magic, well they could heal you … or maybe kill you. Either way. That’s a temple that is definitely worth reading about. Jemisin also comes recommended by most of my twitter feed.

Reamde by Neal Stephenson – Here is another Shelf of Honor author (with Ananthem). This is another of his books set in the real world. Reamde is a cyberpunk deal about online gamers and wars with Chinese gold farmers that spill over into the real world. It will get me all nostalgic for my Warcraft and EverQuest days. I read my first Stephenson book years ago off a recommendation from my dad.

God’s War by Kameron Hurley – I swear I had this book on my To Buy List before it was nominated for all the awards. Freelancing ex-government assassins? That’s pretty sweet. “Alien gene pirates” alone would sell me on it. I know that was all part of a back cover marketing angle and there are a lot more layers to the book. Good. As it should be. I think I first heard about Hurley from Seanan McGuire. She’s also a great person to follow on ye olde twitter.

Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear – This is not my first book by Bear and I know it won’t be the last. I previously read Undertow and thought that Bear wrote one of the best alien POV’s I’ve ever read in decades. She even got the seriously obscure reference to the cheela I made when I talked about her well written aliens. Ghosts is the first book in Mongol / Eastern based fantasy rather than the same old Medieval British based fantasy world. Bear came recommended from most of my twitter feed and I finally bought some of her books after seeing her at Boskone 50 last year.

lextalionisIn The Mail – Lex Talionis by R.S.A. Garcia – I was recommended this book when a twitter pal said “Hey, my sister has an awesome book coming out soon.” I was all like “Ima gonna go check this out.” And I did. And I got super happy because Lex uses one of my favorite SF tropes, which I hardly ever see anywhere. Amnesiatic protags that have to discover their identity right along with the reader. I can think of all of four books that do this, and two of them (Nine Princes in Amber and A Thousand Words for a Stranger) are on the Shelf of Honor. So this book is totally happening. I’m pretty sure I would have found this book regardless because Elizabeth Bear has also given it her recommendation.


shatteringtheleyOn Order – Shattering the Ley by Joshua Palmatier – Remember above how I said he was a Shelf of Honor author? Still applies here. The magic system in this book is closely tied with the infrastructure of the world and I find that whole concept very intriguing. I’m excited to see an epic storyline set in the urban city of the book. Ley drops in July right before Readercon so I’m hoping Palmatier rolls in for that con and I can add to my signed shelf.

The Hammer and the Blade

Posted: March 27, 2013 in Reading
Tags: ,

I’ve said this a few times before, but I will go out of my way to check out anything released by Angry Robot. I haven’t read anything of theirs that I haven’t liked. In that spirit, I picked up The Hammer and the Blade by Paul S Kemp. He’s not an author I’ve read before, but a name that circles around the stuff I follow online. So a publisher I like and some name recognition. Let’s just jump right in.

Back of the book time!

So here’s the plan– Kill the demon… Steal the treasure… Retire to a life of luxury!

It sounds easy when put like that. Most unfortunately for warrior-priest Egil and sneak thief Nix, however, when the demon they kill turns out to have worshippers in high places, retirement is not an option.

A wonderfully fast-paced fantasy adventure redolent of the classic tales of swords and sorcery from NYT bestselling author, Paul S Kemp.

So that’s really not much to go on. The more of these blog posts I do on books, the more I sympathize with the poor person that’s got to write the back of the book copy. That shit can’t be easy. But, like I said above, Angry Robot has the collateral to get me to buy in anyways.

Have you ever read a fantasy book that sounds like it should be a D&D campaign? Duhr, I’m sure if you’re reading this, you’re at least a little bit interested in the genre and therefore, yes, yes you have. Hammer is one of those books. That’s not a criticism nor is it a positive. It’s a neutral thing. I’ve read shovelware books from the 80s put out by TSR that are god awful. But I’ve also gotten the same sense from Perdido Street Station and The Scar. The “Retire to a life of luxury” part of the blurb isn’t just a phrase. Egil and Nix are like the level 20 characters who’ve cakewalked through all the adventures the DM can throw at them. They’ve seen the world, they’ve kicked down the doors, they’ve stolen all the treasure. They really do start out wanting to settle down.

Obviously they don’t settle down the way they’d like. They get … convinced… that they should go on another quest. I enjoyed the quest but the best part of what’s going on in Hammer is the interaction between Egil and Nix. There’s a relationship between the characters that goes way beyond just this book. There’s a real sense that they’ve been a team for years. When they’re throwing down in combat, they know each other’s moves and can anticipate each other. The dialogue between the two is fast and snappy. There’s a very natural flow to it.

One of the best bits of characterization of Egil and Nix involves a minor character who falls in with the quest they’re on. They start out at odds with each other. But there’s a lot of demons and nasties on this quest and they’re all up to their necks in trouble. I was pleasantly surprised that the relationship with this minor character evolved and changed as their quest progressed. I think the weight of old timey White Hat vs Black Hat fantasy is why this surprised me. Usually, the protags and antagonists are set and stay that way. I know better than to expect anything so traditional from Angry Robot but sometimes the weight of all the books that came before are a large shackle to toss aside.

Hammer specifically says on the cover “A Tale of Egil & Nix” implying there are more. I’m all for that. These two have a lot of stories in them that I’d like to read. By the end of the quest in question in this book, there really aren’t any loose ends to worry about in the next book. I’m not sure if that’s a Trilogy thing (which would leave lots of threads between books two and three) or if the series is going to be more episodic in nature. I’m game for whatever because I like these characters so much.

The story moves fast, the dialogue is witty, the combat is oiled slick and the characters are crazy enjoyable. It’s straight up fantasy but it’s not kowtowing to the stodgy traditionalist parts of the genre. The Hammer and the Blade is fresh with life in it, the kind of fantasy novels I want more of.