Ehsan Knopf’s Finding Conan, a short documentary on Conan The Barbarian and his creator, Robert E. Howard, is a great primer on one of sword and sorcery’s greatest heroes.
Watch the complete 14-minute web documentary right here.
When Brent Weeks’s first novel, The Way of Shadows, was unleashed the publisher and author of course had high hopes for his career as an author and the first book in The Night Angel Trilogy. In a very smart move (modeling the approach Del Rey books used to amazing success on Naomi Novik’s Temeraire novels), the publisher opted to release the three books in three months, creating immediate shelf presence and eventually landing Brent Weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. While Orbit had a presence in the US for a since 2007 these books publishing in late 2008 and early 2009 helped to further establish the imprint as one of the premiere English language science fiction and fantasy imprints.
On to the story within the pages of the books…
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Caim continues his journey north to find his heritage and legacy, even as the young Empress he left behind has her reign tested.
PROS: Strong finish to the trilogy; more interesting worldbuilding; further emergence of characters.
CONS: Some hangovers from the second book clutter up narrative.
BOTTOM LINE: A very good, if not spectacular, end to what will hopefully be not the last book series from Sprunk.
Shadow’s Master is the third and presumably final novel in the Shadow’s Son Trilogy from Jon Sprunk, following Shadow’s Son and Shadow’s Lure. In the world of Nimea, Caim has managed to depose a local potentate, bury his father’s sword, and head further north to find the true source of his heritage. The Empress he has left behind faces the greatest challenge yet to her rule, and Kit the faerie has a fateful decision to make that could change the lives of all three of them forever…if it doesn’t get one or more of them killed first.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Dabir and Asim return, and face an ancient sorcery that threatens to unleash a new Ice Age upon the world.
PROS: Strong characters, excellent sword and sorcery action. Always entertaining. Characters grow and develop.
CONS A couple of sequences are a bit unclear.
BOTTOM LINE: A marriage of strong characters and stronger action and adventure that rarely flags or goes below 50 miles per hour.
In The Desert of Souls, Howard Andrew Jones introduced us to an 8th Century Baghdad of Arabian Days and Nights. In the personages of Dabir, a scholar not unfamiliar with a blade, and Asim, a guard captain who is much more than muscle, we were given a glimpse into a mostly historical Middle East. Mostly, if you don’t count animated monkeys, dark sorcerers and strange magical cities in an alternate world desert realm. The successful defeat of the forces of evil left Dabir and Asim high in the esteem of the Caliph, with the blessing to go on to the scholarly city of Mosul in the north.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Dabir and Asim find themselves battling dark sorcery again, but this time, the stakes are much bigger than one city.
PROS: A fast-paced, intriguing tale with engaging characters.
CONS: While it is a stand-alone novel, it is much more enjoyable if the first has been read.
BOTTOM LINE: I only hope we’ll see many more like this, and that Sword and Sorcery’s new face is here to stay.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Nimea and the surrounding nations are threatened by a faceless threat from the north. Standing against this threat are a young Empress, a tortured swordsman, and a boy struggling with fears of cowardice.
PROS: Well-plotted with a steady pace and good character development.
CONS: Drags just a little in the middle.
BOTTOM LINE: Readers expecting the quick-read sword and sorcery will probably be stymied by the bones of epic fantasy Sprunk uses to flesh out the story. For epic fantasy fans looking to expand their libraries with faster-paced work, this is a good place to start.
SYNOPSIS: Silk Road fantasy. Sarmin’s life has been confined to a tiny room, but as his brother begins to show signs of The Pattern, Sarmin finds himself becoming far more important to the survival of the kingdom.
PROS: Good voice; unique setting; intriguing characters.
CONS: Pacing wobbles at points, and there are tinges of exoticism.
BOTTOM LINE: Definitely worth the read, and looking forward to the next ones.