Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Upcoming release: Death of a Saint

Penguin books South Africa has just released the cover art and synopsis for Death of a Saint, the second book in the Mall Rats series and the follow-up to the Cape Town based YA zombie novel, Deadlands (reviewed here).

The new covers look great and are sure to appeal to the YA crowd, but I think they've lost that sense of horror which drew me to the first edition of Deadlands.

About the book

Secrets. Everyone has them. But what if your secret is something so unthinkable that you can't even admit it to yourself?

Exiled from the city enclave for crimes against the Resurrectionist State, teen rebels Lele, Ginger, Ash and Saint – aka the Mall Rats – are hiding out in the Deadlands, a once-prosperous area now swarming with the living dead. With the sinister Guardians breathing down their necks, the Mall Rats face a stark choice: return to the enclave and try to evade capture or leave Cape Town in search of other survivors. But what if the rest of South Africa is nothing but a zombie-infested wasteland?

Will Lele reveal the shocking truth as to why the dead leave the Mall Rats unscathed? And which other Mall Rat is harbouring a dangerous secret …

About the authors:

Lily Herne is the pseudonym of mother/daughter duo Sarah and Savannah Lotz. A fan of fake identities, Sarah also writes an urban horror series with author Louis Greenberg under the name SL Grey as well as various crime novels,internationally anthologised short stories and screenplays under her own name. Savannah, a die-hard fantasy fanatic,is currently in her second year studying screenwriting at the university of East Anglia.


Both Death of a Saint and the new edition of Deadlands will be published in April and it seems you can already order them from your favorite South African bookshop. So what are you waiting for?

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games at 85% off

Please note: This offer has expired.

Sometimes you come across an offer that’s just too good to refuse and which begs to be shared with others. This deal from Kobo is just that.

Until the end of March Kobo are offering an exclusive discount of 85% on any ebook title in the Hunger Games series. That includes The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay, and The Hunger Games Trilogy.

To get the most of the offer I suggest you pick up The Hunger Games Trilogy which contains all three books for the insane price of just $5.02** (it normally retails for $33.49)!

All you have to do is to enter the following promo code during the checkout process: HungerGamesDeal5
* You'll need an ePub capable eReader or app to read the book.

**It seems you can also pick up the individual titles separately  for a total of $4.87 if you use the same discount code and alter the number each time (HungerGamesDeal, HungerGamesDeal2, HungerGamesDeal3). This should be especially useful for territories where the Trilogy edition isn't sold.

Update for those in the UK:
The trilogy edition doesn't seem to be available in the UK. Fret not, since buying the individual titles which are available works out far cheaper. You can get The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay for £0.54 each by using the method described above. That's a grand total of £1.62 for the entire trilogy!
(These links should work for the UK region. Let me know if you experience any difficulties.)

Now's your chance to catch up with the Hunger Games before seeing the movie. Don't miss out!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: The Dwarves

Title: The Dwarves
Author: Markus Heitz
Translated by: Sally-Ann Spencer
Pages: 733
ISBN: 9781841495729
Series: The Dwarves #1
Publisher: Orbit
Published: 2009
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Buy it from:
The Book Depository

For countless millennia, the dwarves of the Fifthling Kingdom have defended the stone gateway into Girdlegard. Many and varied foes have hurled themselves against the portal and died attempting to breach it. No man or beast has ever succeeded. Until now. . .

Abandoned as a child, Tungdil the blacksmith labors contentedly in the land of Ionandar, the only dwarf in a kingdom of men. Although he does not want for friends, Tungdil is very much aware that he is alone - indeed, he has not so much as set eyes on another dwarf. But all that is about to change.

Sent out into the world to deliver a message and reacquaint himself with his people, the young foundling finds himself thrust into a battle for which he has not been trained. Not only his own safety, but the life of every man, woman and child in Girdlegard depends upon his ability to embrace his heritage. Although he has many unanswered questions, Tungdil is certain of one thing: no matter where he was raised, he is a true dwarf. And no one has ever questioned the courage of the Dwarves.
Quick, think of a dwarf! Any dwarf will do. Get a clear picture in your mind. Got it? Good. So which dwarf immediately sprung to mind? For me it was Gimli from the movie version of The Lord of the Rings. He embodies all the qualities I would associate with the quintessential dwarf – limited height, long beard, brave and fierce in battle and of course that ingrained enmity towards elves.

In The Dwarves, the first book in the Dwarves saga, German author Markus Heitz elevates the dwarven race from their humble role as one-dimensional supporting characters and turns them into the vibrant, compelling heroes they deserve to be.

The main protagonist is Tungdil, a foundling dwarf who was raised by a human magus called Lot-Ionan. Tungdil hasn’t seen another dwarf in his life and he is completely disconnected from his dwarven heritage. His only knowledge about his race comes from books, which leads to some awkward and funny situations when he finally gets reunited with his kin.

After being sent on a seemingly easy errand by Lot-Ionan, Tungdil finds himself thrust into the middle of dwarven politics when he is unwittingly put forward as candidate for High King. As Tungdil struggles to reconnect with his roots, evil suddenly overwhelms Girdlegard after one of the mages betrays the rest and brings down the magical barrier that has kept the Perished land at bay. Together with a band of companions Tungdil must set out to forge a magical weapon that can kill Nod’onn, the embodiment of the evil that plagues the land.

The plot of The Dwarves is a pretty straightforward battle between good and evil and feels very derivative of the Lord of the Rings, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What sets the novel apart is the compelling characters and the intricate society Heitz has created for the dwarves. I was drawn to the characters, especially the bookish Tungdil and Boïdil, a beserker warrior who enjoys nothing more than cracking orcish skulls.

There is some hilarious banter between the companions. One of these interchanges that stood out is when Tungdil is berated for his lack of warrior skills: “Oh, books are very useful when it comes to fighting orcs. You could have killed the whole band of them with the right bit of poetry!

While Heitz stays true to the general perception of dwarves and other fantasy races he deftly manages to add his own touches such as a dwarven love for melted cheese; the numerous dwarven societies, skills and how the clans interact; and the introduction of shadow mares, a terrifying antithesis of unicorns who enjoy trampling their victims to death and devouring their flesh.
Without warning, one of the horses whipped round, jaws opening as it pounced. Sharp teeth closed around the orc’s shoulders and ripped out a sizable clump of flesh.

Green blood spurted from the wound as the orc retreated, shrieking. A second orcish trooper drew his sword and made to fell the rabid horse. Before he could strike, the steed’s hind leg lifted and sped into the orc’s broad chest. There was a flash of blinding light and the orc was thrown backward, traveling several paces before crashing to the ground.

The trooper had no time to right himself before the second horse was upon him. Its forelegs stove in his chest, hollowing his breastplate. His stomach burst with a sickening bang. In an instant the creature’s black jaws were at the orc’s unprotected throat. There was a sound of crunching bone and the orc’s anguished screaming broke off abruptly.

Tungdil watched in stunned horror as the steed swallowed the mouthful of flesh. The second creature let out a whinny of savage enjoyment. (p 105)
The translation from the original German seems to have been superbly handled by Sally-Ann Spencer. After reading about some of the difficulties she encountered during the translation process I’m sure it was not an easy task. My only criticism would be that they decided to use the term ‘orbit’ to denote days. This substation didn’t really make any sense and I found it so irritating that it detracted from the story somewhat.

The Verdict:
Overall I enjoyed The Dwarves and the interesting insight Heitz gives into dwarven society. While the plot is quite predictable it’s still a gripping read with some very memorable characters. If you are looking for epic fantasy that’s less complex than what George R.R. Martin and Steven Erikson has on offer then this will definitely satisfy.

I already have the second and third volumes, The War of the Dwarves and The Revenge of the Dwarves, waiting in my TBR-pile. The fourth book, The Fate of the Dwarves, will be released in August this year.

The Rating: 7/10 (Very Good)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New Arrivals II

I've been stuck in a reading slump lately. It's not that I'm not reading, I am, but I just can't get myself to the point of being able to write any coherent reviews. Until I get my reviewing mojo back I'm busy trying to catch up on my rather large TBR pile. Hopefully a good dose of 'just for fun' reading will remedy the problem.

At least I got some awesome books during the last week which always manages to gladden my book addict heart.

Books bought

The Fall by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
Vortex by Robert Charles Wilson
Germline and Exogene by T.C. McCarthy

For Review

For review I received Elves: Rise of the TaiGethen by James Barclay from Jonathan Ball Publishers. This is the second book in the Elves series so I'll need to catch up on the first, Elves: Once Walked with Gods before I can get to this one. Thanks Andrea for sending me the review copy!

And finally I also got an ARC of Switched by Amanda Hocking from Pan Macmillan SA. I'm not sure if I'll be reviewing it since it's far outside my normal genre preferences, but I might just give it a go anyway.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cover Reveal: Zero Point

Neal Asher has just revealed the cover art and synopsis for Zero Point, the second book in the Owner trilogy, which will be released on the 2nd of August 2012.

As usual the cover art is by the fantastically talented Jon Sullivan who did all the covers for the revamped editions of Neal's other novels. You really have to check out the image of the full dust jacket to get a sense for the true scope of the cover scene.

The billions of Zero Asset citizens of Earth are free from their sectors, free from the prospect of extermination from orbit, for Alan Saul has all but annihilated the Committee by dropping the Argus satellite laser network on it. The shepherds, spiderguns and razorbirds are somnolent, govnet is down and Inspectorate HQs are smoking craters. But power abhors a vacuum and, scrambling from the ruins, comes Serene Galahad. She must act before the remnants of Committee power are overrun by the masses. And she has the means.

Var Delex knows that Earth will eventually reach out to Antares Base and, because of her position under Chairman Messina, knows that the warship the Alexander is still available. An even more immediate problem is Argus Station hurtling towards the red planet, with whomever, or whatever trashed Earth still aboard. Var must maintain her grip on power and find a way for them all to survive.

As he firmly establishes his rule, Alan Saul delves into the secrets of Argus Station: the results of ghastly experiments in Humanoid Unit Development, a madman who may hold the keys to interstellar flight and research that might unlock eternity. But the agents of Earth are still determined to exact their vengeance, and the killing is not over...
I really enjoyed The Departure, so I'm definitely adding this one to my wishlist. Based on the cover it looks like it's going to be one hell of a ride!

Be sure to check out my earlier interview with Neal Asher where he discusses the Owner trilogy, his writing and his views on ebooks.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Arrivals

This year I'm trying to cut back on my book buying. I managed to get through January without buying any books, but I failed miserably at my goal during February. I bought a total of 24 books. Roughly half of those were used books, but I also placed some pre-orders for paperbacks being released over the coming months.

The latest batch arrived last Friday, but I only managed to get round to taking some photos today.

Books bought:

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien
(I've been looking for a single edition of this for quite some time. I think I'm due a re-read sometime soon.)
Kraken by China Miéville
The Ambassador's Mission by Trudi Canavan
Nova War and Stealing Light by Gary Gibson
Under the Dome by Stephen King
WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer
Learning the World by Ken Macleod

If you've read any of these let me know what you thought of them.