Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reader Appreciation Interview - SparklingBlue

Mulluane | Thursday, February 26, 2009 | 7 Comments so far

The Questions!

1.) What magical ability would you like to have and why?

A tie between invincibility (so I could effectively be immortal) and teleportation (so I could go anywhere I wanted on my terms)
2.) What would you do if you had a time machine?

I would return to the 80's--TV and music were cooler back then.

3.) You are an archeologist and you discover something that no one has ever seen before. What do you think would be the coolest thing you could possibly discover and why?

Hmm...likely an amulet with superpowers (don't we all want superpowers?)

4.) If aliens landed in your backyard, what is the first thing you would ask them?

"Can you understand me?", followed by "Do you come in peace?"

5.) Who (or what) is your favorite cartoon character and why?

I like both American and Japanese animation, so I'll pick one from each to be fair.

American cartoon wise, I've always liked Bugs Bunny because of his ability to think quickly under pressure and still remain calm.

Japanese cartoon wise, I have a soft spot for Takeshi/Brock from Pokemon (although /SatoshiAsh and Pikachu run a close second), I pick Takeshi/Brock because the things he does to impress a girl always makes me laugh.

6.) If you could have lunch with a famous person, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Wow...I have quite a lot of choices here, but if I had to pick one, I'd want to eat with Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of Mario, Link, and many more Nintendo characters). I would ask him about the typical process of making a Mario or Zelda game from start to finish.
7.) If you could be reincarnated as an animal (real or imaginary), what would you be and why?
I'd want to return as a phoenix, because I find them a beautiful symbol of rebirth.
8.) You are stranded on a desert island, and only one thing washed up on shore with you what (or who) would you want that to be?

A survival guide, so I could learn what is safe to eat on the island, how to build a shelter, what creatures to look out for, how to defend myself, etc.

9.) Alot of ancient cultures, like the Greeks and Romans, had a god for just about everything. What type of god could you envision yourself as and why?

I would see myself as a goddess of joy and hope--there's so much chaos around us these days, and I'd want to bless my people with the hope that they can survive.

10.) If you could be a character in a fantasy or science fiction novel, what type would you be? (Wizard, assassin, warrior, spaceship captain, princess, etc...) and why?

I'd be a mage, because I've always been fascinated with magic powers.

The Blog plug!

Tales of a Gemsinger

Tales of a Gemsinger is my personal writing blog for both writing practice and for the planning of my own original series, "The Gemsinger Chronicles" You'll be able to watch my world, Sekiya, grow and change as I daily offer insight into its people, its magic, and its most important legend--when the twelve gems that hold it together are ever in danger, the one that can wield them all will appear

Thanks to SparklingBlue for sharing her answers with us!

Want to join in on the fun? Find out how here: Reader Appreciation Series

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reader Appreciation Interview - Loopdilou

Mulluane | Tuesday, February 24, 2009 | 6 Comments so far

The Bio!

Well, hello there world! I can't begin to express how much fun it is to talk about myself, because I'm the coolest. Which is why I'm first. Nyah. But I digress... 

My name is Jen and I'm a twitteraholic, and a blogaholic, a movieaholic, and a science fiction and fantasy junkie. I am also the mother of two super awesome/unique daughters, and the wife of a total smartass. I don't work because I decided to get a degree in Modern Literature and graduate right before the economy collapsed. Then I decided I didn't want to go to Graduate School to get any marketable skillz. 

Honestly, I'm work-phobic anyway so it's probably for the best. To keep myself occupied, I hang out on twitter, read, and help SMD (of The World in the Satin Bag) get through college. Sometimes I write so I can pretend that I'll be famous someday. I like stationery, rainy days, the color blue, and grilled cheese sammiches.

The Questions!

1.) What magical ability would you like to have and why?

I would genuinely like to have Mickey's spell book from The Magician's Apprentice so I could make my cleaning products do all the cleaning for me. I realize that's utterly boring, but I'm a sensible sort of person and genuinely despise my housewife duties. I relish all opportunities to be a slacker.
On the flipside, my whackadoodle power would be the ability to withstand immense pressure and breathe and see underwater. I want to be a character in Peter Watts's Starfish novels... minus the major psychological trauma. Oddly though, I'm actually terrified of the super depths because I think there are zombies down there.
2.) What would you do if you had a time machine?

I'd kill Hitler.

HAHA! Just kidding. That's a total rookie mistake, foshizzle. Honestly, there are so few scenarios that would actually work in time travel that I'm tempted to avoid all the them. I think I would go forward, not backwards. Maybe 30 years to check on what stocks are doing well. Then I'd go back and invest in whatever makes me richest. Again - any opportunity to be a total slacker.
3.) You are an archeologist and you discover something that no one has ever seen before. What do you think would be the coolest thing you could possibly discover and why?

Proof that we were seeded on this planet by alien overlords - like a ship with logs in it. It would just be fun to watch everyone scurry around in shock after that.
4.) If aliens landed in your backyard, what is the first thing you would ask them?

"When you leave, can I come?"
5.) Who (or what) is your favorite cartoon character and why?

Oh shnikies. Growing up I had the biggest crush on Justin from the Secret of Nimh. He is still one of my favorite characters of all time, and I have a total girl crush on Mrs. Brisby because of her quiet heroism. However, these days my favorite cartoon character is Mandy from the Grim Adventures of- she exemplifies everything that is wonderful in the world - restrained egoism, pure cynicism, and evil brilliance. If we ever get an evil overlord I want it to be her.
6.) If you could have lunch with a famous person, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I couldn't physically manage to have lunch with anyone that I either worship, respect, or just plain think is cool. My body and mental faculties would shut down completely. I'd just drool over whomever. Having said that - there is no one I'd rather drool all over than Hayao Miyazaki. I think he's absolutely brilliant and I envy his ability to tell a story - I honestly don't think anyone comes close. I'd make him take me on a tour of Studio Ghibli and it would be awesome.
7.) If you could be reincarnated as an animal (real or imaginary), what would you be and why?

I don't think I'd want to be an imaginary animal - there'd be all kinds of hunting down of me and that wouldn't be any fun. Unless of course that animal were a shapeshifter already... *considers* Let's go with a Nyad - they're sexy and get to go swimming a lot.
8.) You are stranded on a desert island, and only one thing washed up on shore with you what (or who) would you want that to be?

A GPS satellite phone - duh. I'm sorry, I hate fish and sunburn easily. I'm totally copping out of that situation.
9.) Alot of ancient cultures, like the Greeks and Romans, had a god for just about everything. What type of god could you envision yourself as and why?

I could totally be the god of procrastination. I would help those who have procrastinated sufficiently produce brilliant work - because we all know that the best work is done under immense pressure.
10.) If you could be a character in a fantasy or science fiction novel, what type would you be? (Wizard, assassin, warrior, spaceship captain, princess, etc...) and why?

Can I be a combination of all of the above? I think that'd be spiffy. Ok, honestly I'd love to be a Space Captain/Bad ass. One of my favorite characters of all time is Honor Harrington from the David Weber series. I think she's brilliant, strong, poised, courageous, gracious, and a total bad ass of course. Plus she gets to fly around in space! I've long dreamed of serving on a submarine and there is very little difference between sub environments and spaceship environments; it seems a natural choice!

The Blog plug!

I have two blogs and I contribue to one other. First off is Random Acts of Mediocrity (! I've recently resolved to post something new every day - it is sometimes a personal blog, but for the most part I concentrate on Steampunk and Stationery. I'm a casual observer of the former, and a collecter of the latter and I enjoy finding tidbits about both.

I just started my new blog - Against the Nothing (, in order to have a valid excuse for reading all the fantasy books my daughters bring home from school. It is starting slow, but I really enjoy reviewing Children's/Middle Grade/YA fantasy. That 'genre' has always been my favorite and contributed a great deal to my development/interests over the years. Hopefully I'll start posting more - I'm a bit slow!

Finally, I contribute reviews to the Fantasy and Sci-Fi Lovin' Blog ( I admit I'm not the best reviewer out there (by far), but I'm a very avid reader and I genuinely love every opportunity to read something new. It's a lot of fun and I'm greatly indebted to SQT and SMD for giving me the opportunity.

Thanks to Jen (alias Loopdilou) for sharing her answers with us!

Want to join in on the fun? Find out how here:Reader Appreciation Series

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Reader Appreciation Series

Mulluane | Sunday, February 22, 2009 | 5 Comments so far
A blogger's reader base is the lifeblood of this hobby. You are why we do this, what we hope to someday have 100s of, if not 1000s, and frankly, cannot live without. Now we bloggers try to reward our faithful readers in several ways, the first is by providing what we hope is quality content, then you reward us by coming back for more. Some bloggers take that appreciation alot further and do book giveaways and contests. However, the rest of us either do not have the money (for shipping) or the contacts with publishers that allow us to go this extra step. Unfortunately, I fall in the latter category.

(But, I do love you guys and gals, never doubt it.)

So, anyway, I have been kicking around an idea. Remember the wacky interview thingie I did with Micheal Sullivan? Well I want to do the same thing with my blog fans! Of course some of you (hopefully not most) prefer to remain comfortably in lurker status, which is fine, I love the lurkers too, (as long as you aren't peeping in my windows...) but I'm hoping that some of you will enjoy playing along. It will be the same type of questions, silly, wacky stuff that will enable you to show off your creative side, nothing invasive or personal.

The rules and conditions:

You must be willing to trust me with your email addy. I promise I won't sell, use, abuse or otherwise violate your trust intentionally but I understand if you don't want to, afterall you don't know me from Adam. Use an alternate email account if you want, as long as I can match you up to a verifiable follower. (More on that below)

I do not need your real name, whatever online name you use is fine so if you use a preset email signature, just remove it before you email me and use the online name instead.

Fellow bloggers are eligible and yes you may plug your blog too if you want.

You must be a verifiable follower of me, this blog or Dragons, Heroes and Wizards, and there are a gazillion ways to do this, just needs to be something that I can confirm, for example:

  • Friend me on Goodreads, Facebook, or LibraryThing or subscribe to my Friendfeed (include a note so I know why I am approving your friend request)
  • Follow atleast one of the blogs on Facebook Networked Blogs, or Blogger.
  • Follow me on Twitter
  • Subscribe to atleast one of the blogs by email (I will confirm this through Feedburner so in this case you will have to atleast tell me what email addy you used.)
  • COMMENT! How else can I know that you are an active follower?
(only need to pick one method, unlike me I'm not asking you to spend 3 days signing up for every social media site on the planet)

Then email me with the name or email you used to friend, subscribe or follow, along with which method you chose and your request for the interview questions. Put "Reader Interview" in the subject line so I will know to pull it out my spam folder.

(links to everything required are easily found on the left sidebar)

I will email you the questions, you answer as many or as few as you want, (I'd like to see atleast 5 though!), email them back to me and I'll showcase you in your very own post! (Hey, it is one way to get your 15 minutes of fame, right?)

There is the chance that this idea will go the way of the dinosaur but if I get even one volunteer I'll still do it, and will keep doing it as long as I have folks who want to play along.

Just keep in mind that this is for fun, (no I am not paying you and you will not get a prize...sorry!) you can be as creative with your answers as you like, suggest different questions, take all the time you need or, of course, just decide that I am nuts and ignore this post, it is all good!

Look forward to hearing from you (or not)!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Warded Man /The Painted Man (Demon Trilogy: Book 1)

Mulluane | Friday, February 20, 2009 | 8 Comments so far

By Peter V. Brett

As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile.

It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault.

Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.

*Blurb source* Random House
Blurb might contain spoilers, toggle to view.
( Toggle may not function in some feed readers.)

The Warded Man /The Painted Man (Demon Trilogy: Book 1) by Peter V. Brett
Affiliate LinkAffiliate Link
The Warded Man (Demon Cycle, #1)
| Genre: Epic Fantasy
| ISBN-10: 0345518705
| ISBN-13: 978-0345518705
| Content: Dark Fantasy, YA readable 16+
| Publisher: Del Rey (March 23, 2010)
| Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
| Cover Art: Larry Rostant
| Source: Librarything
| Read an Excerpt
| Rating: 5 Stars

Fantasy Series Book Review by Mulluane

When I received this book through LibraryThing, I was thrilled to say the least. I read it right away but I was asked by the publisher to put off the review until closer to release time. Well it releases here in the US on March 10th, a day before my birthday, so I figure that now is close enough! (Aren't the publishers just the nicest people, releasing this wonderful book just in time for my next 29th birthday...)

Ok, well the blurb gives plenty of story information so let's start with what I did not like. For the first 3/4 of the book, this story centers on each of the three main protagonists, often jumping from one story to the next without warning. None of the three knows each other and each one lives a very different and very fascinating life. Now I have read books like this since I was old enough to read and I have to admit that it is not my favorite method of storytelling. I have to force myself not to skip ahead when one story stops and another one starts up. Granted, Peter Brett does handle this correctly. There is a clearly defined chapter break between changes in viewpoint, but it still interferes with my immersion in the story; just when I am deeply into what is going on with character A, I have to change gears and switch to what is happening with character B, then, just as I am hooked into their life, along comes character C... Believe me when I tell you that when all three finally come together I was thrilled!

This method does have its advantages. You get to view the world from different perspectives which adds alot of depth to the story. The fact that this method bothered me more then usual is a direct result of just how well Peter Brett not only sucked me into the story but created characters I enjoyed reading about. Not necessarily a bad thing, even though it annoyed me just a bit.

Now, what I did like. I loved everything else about this book. This is one of my favorite types of fantasies, character driven. Each character is a product of their harsh and unforgiving environment and tempered by their tragic experiences. The result is characters you can cheer for, feel sympathy for and genuinely like. I also loved the premise. This is a world that has forgotten most of what it knew about fighting demons due to a 3000-year break in the attacks and is now scrambling to survive and regain the knowledge it lost. There are also clearly defined rules, another thing I insist on when it comes to good fantasy. The demons, called corelings, only attack at night and the wards, which are used to hold them back, must be specifically drawn and maintained or the consequences are tragic. There are also different types of demons, each with strengths and limitations. The world building too is excellent right down to the smallest detail. It is obvious that Peter Brett put alot of thought into how people, who are under the threat of attack by demons every single night, would live, think, feel, and survive. He then goes a few steps further and decides what the differences between living in a city, living in a rural area or living as a traveler might be. The result is a world that is very believable, characters that must deal with both external and internal demons, plus a story that flows naturally.

As for content, I want to point out a couple of things. This is not a book aimed at a YA audience, even though the individual stories start out with the three main protagonists being pretty young. Now I always make a distinction between a YA book and a book being YA readable. The first is one aimed at young adults and written with a certain age group in mind. The other depends on the maturity of the reader and what they are capable of reading, understanding, and enjoying. That being said, it is my opinion that this is a YA readable book but one that might be better suited to the 16 and up crowd. The reason for this being that there is one non-graphic rape scene and there are discussions of sex and marriage taking place at a fairly young age. A teen reader needs to understand that such things are typical in times when the average life expectancy is very low and by that standard, ring true for the type of world that Peter Brett has created. Again, that is my opinion and readability age would depend on the maturity of the reader in question. As far as violence and language goes, I did not find anything objectionable though it is a very dark world where death is frequent and the realities are harsh.

Conclusion. That being said, this is a delightful book full of adventure, great characters, a believably dark world, a unique magic system and, constant change of viewpoint aside, flows along at a fast clip. The ending wraps things up nicely while leaving you with just enough questions to spur you on to book two. Awesome debut and definitely a writer to watch for many years to come. Highly recommended!

Ratings, Reviews, Similar Reads, Buy Books, Affiliate Links

Librarything Rating 4.16/5

Amazon Rating: 4.2/5
(338 customer reviews)

What Should I Read Next?
Kindle: The Warded Man: Book One of The Demon CycleThe Warded Man /The Painted Man

Audible: Here

Buy Book: BAM

Book Depository

Amazon: USThe Warded Man /The Painted Man - CanadaThe Warded Man /The Painted Man - UKThe Warded Man /The Painted Man
My Wacky Interview with:
Peter V. Brett

Read an Interview with Peter V. Brett From:
Davebrendon’s Fantasy & Sci-Fi Weblog - Suvudu

Other Reviews: (Some with mild spoilers but more plot detail)
Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews - Graeme's Fantasy Book Review - Fantasy Book Critic

Author's Web Presence
Website - Blog - Forum - MySpace - Facebook - Twitter
Already read the book? Please add your own rating!

Epic Fantasy Book Review of The Warded Man /The Painted Man (Demon Trilogy: Book 1) by Peter V. Brett - Reviewed by Mulluane - on February 20, 2009 - Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Friday, February 13, 2009

Interview - Michael J. Sullivan: The Crown Conspiracy

Mulluane | Friday, February 13, 2009 | 1 Comment so far

(Wacky Interview Series)

I read alot of author interviews and they are good, informative, interesting but rarely tell me all that much about an author's personality. I often find myself thinking, "Well that's all good and everything but I want to know more about the real live person behind the book."

So, I want to try an experiment that I hope will be fun for both the readers and authors. I want to conduct a "fun" interview, something that will give my readers a good laugh while giving them insights into the type of person their favorite author is. Besides that, I'm betting you get tired of reading the same old interviews with the same tired questions all the time.

I chose as my first victim interview, Michael J. Sullivan, author of The Crown Conspiracy. I got the impression that he had a great sense of humor from his book which was a really fun read. Much to my surprise he fell went for it!

So this is how I set this up, I gave Michael Sullivan 10 wacky questions, plus 2 bonus substitutes in case he didn't like or want to answer one of the original 10, he answered all 12! So here for your reading pleasure is a look inside of the mind of Michael J. Sullivan....

Author Micheal J. Sullivan

1) Which magical power would you like to have and why?

Oddly enough, this is a topic of discussion I have often had with my family, usually on long trips. This would perhaps explain my son's choice to have the power to change traffic lights at will, something he actually tries with intense concentration and sometimes it works! My wife picked the ability to communicate with sea mammals. She's one of those water people, more at home floating than walking. For myself, I chose the ability to make the world's best ice cream sundae. It might seem trivial, but everyone loves a good sundae, and no one will be pounding on my door in the middle of the night asking me to please rush into a burning building, or interrupt my vacation to thwart some evil mastermind. On the other hand, everyone who visits for dinner will defiantly be staying for desert.
2) What would you do if you had a time machine?

Philosophically I could argue that we all do. When you sleep, you disconnect from reality and wake up in the future, just not as far perhaps as you might like, or in some cases, too far. The inclination is to go back in time. Rarely do people ever want to go forward. I suppose it is the Superman Syndrome. If you go back you become superior to those around as you have the ability to know the future. Besides, I think these days people are more pessimistic about the future than they were, say, when Wells wrote his book. What would I do? I suspect the same thing I would with a Monkey's Paw, a genii's three wishes, or Lucy's invitation to kick a football…decline the offer.
3) What was your funniest encounter with a fan?

I'm not sure I can classify it as "funny," but the most memorable was when, at a book signing, a man greeted me by saying, "Although I still suffer from chronic depression, I don't hear the voices anymore." I wrote that down on a bit of scrap paper and hope to use it one day as the first sentence of a novel.
4) If you had a chance to spend some time with one mythical being, what would it be and why?

I would be curious to ask the Easter Bunny what's with the egg fetish. And I suppose maybe it is just coming on that time of year, but Harvey the Pooka always seemed like an awfully pleasant sort and appears to make everyone who meets him rather happy, so I suppose a would enjoy a quiet pint in a local pub with a six foot rabbit.
5) If aliens landed in your backyard, what is the first thing you would ask them?

It is things like this that got me to be a writer. You can't just answer that question with a "Where are you from, Jersey?" or "Take me for a ride around that little ex-planet, the one they named after Goofy's dog." As a kid I would daydream, or rather try to daydream, about stuff like aliens landing in the backyard and going off with them to have great adventures, only immediately I would think. What are the odds they know English? So I suppose the first question I would ask would be. "Can you understand the words coming out of my mouth?" Then I might inform them that parking is three dollars for the first hour, then ten cents a minute after that. And instruct them to be careful where they step as my son hasn't cleaned up after the dog for a couple days.
6) What quirky habit do you have that often gets you teased by your peers or family?

I'm a foot shaker. I drum on things. I can't sleep in front of a TV. I refuse to answer the house telephone and would prefer not to have one, but my wife insists. I prefer to walk instead of drive almost everywhere, not because of greenhouse gas, but because I hate traffic so much. In fact, I walk over a mile to grocery shop with a backpack. Fact is, no one teases me. Should I be concerned?
7) What did you want to be when you grew up?

Old. Still not quite there. Judging by my books, you can tell there's still a bit of kid left. But if you are referring to what occupation, then I wanted to be an illustrator and work at Disney Studios on animated movies. After realizing that was placing the bar a bit high, I settled for being a book cover illustrator. Oddly enough, I sort of backed into that one as I have been commissioned by my publisher to do my own book covers. I also tried to figure out how to make a living at being a Dungeon Master. I love the idea of creating a world and letting other people enter it and explore. I suppose I sort of did that one too.
8) If you could be reincarnated as an animal, what would you be and why?

This is getting eerie now, have you stowed away with us on our family trips? My wife has always chosen to be a river otter, the playful tikes that splash around all day and eat shellfish on their bellies. My son wants to be a fox—he's obsessed with foxes. I tend to be very cat-like, so I suppose I would choose a panther, cool and stealthy like Bagheera. Although one can't ignore the lure of being a hawk, after all they can fly.
9) If you were stranded on a desert island, which would you prefer for company, a book, a pet or good-looking native? Why?

You'd have to wonder about someone who would choose a book, or a pet, over another human. I would never describe myself as a "people" person—I'm a writer after all—we sit in self-imposed isolation most of the time. (The panther and hawk should have been a clue as both are mostly solitary animals.) Still, if I am going to spend months, years, or the rest of my life on a spit of sand, I'd rather not end up talking to a soccer ball named Wilson. And as well intentioned as a book might be, or as loyal as a dog is, neither can perform the Heimlich maneuver, or show you where the evening buffet and drinks bar is and what red berries to steer clear of.
10) Why in the world did you consent to doing this wacky interview? I mean there is not one question here about your books, your writing or your future plans!

All interviews are a little wacky from the perspective of the interviewee. I mean, why would anyone want to know about me to begin with? I don't do interviews to provide insight into my books, or keep fans up to date on my plans. I do them to answer questions that people have. It just so happens that most of those questions usually center on my books as that is what the interviewer is interested in. I'd discuss who's the better starship captain Kirk or Picard, the plight of the Kenya wildebeest, or whether it is wise to go all-in when all you have is ace high on the flop, if that's what people wanted to hear. Did I mention I make a great ice cream sundae? Alternate questions (in case you really hate one or 2 of the others)

11) Who is your favorite comedian or cartoon character and why?

Bugs Bunny, hands down. Why? That's like saying your favorite character on Happy Days was Fonzi and someone asking why.
12) How would you describe your sense of humor?

After twelve questions, I suppose the same way you do: smart-ass.

Thanks Micheal for consenting to do this interview!

Be sure to look for the next book in the series, Avempartha, which is due out in April of 2009. I know I am eagerly looking forward to it!

You can connect with Micheal Sullivan on his
Facebook Page

You can find more info on his books at Micheal Sullivan's website.

You can also read my review and find other useful links here: Crown Conspiracy

Not sure how often I'll be able to find an author willing to "play" and if you have any suggestions on an author you think might have some fun with this, please let me know and I'll try to run it past them.

Other Wacky Interviews

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Feast of Souls (MagisterTrilogy: Book 1)

Mulluane | Tuesday, February 03, 2009 | 3 Comments so far
Feast of Souls

A Fantasy Book Review

By C. S. Friedman

Genre: Epic Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Adult
ISBN: 0756404630
Publisher: DAW (February 5, 2008)
Paperback: 576 pages
Publisher's Blurb:
In the High Kingdom of Danton Aurelius, magisters from across the known world are gathering for an unusual meeting. The High King’s son is dying of an apparently incurable wasting disease, and he has charged them with providing an explanation and a cure. There is a mystery here, but not the one the High King thinks: the magisters know the cause of the prince’s illness but they dare not reveal it for fear that it will expose the secret at the heart of their order. No, the mystery is not what is responsible, but who. . .

Now the magisters must embark upon a manhunt, racing against time, before the High King learns the truth. But they have not counted on the young prince's determination to control his own fate, nor on the existence of Kamala, a young woman schooled in their own arts, who will soon shake the world to its very roots.

I love dark fantasy and I love magic that comes with a price. Here I got both and in spades! Imagine a medieval type world where magic is fueled by one's very life force. In the case of witches (refers to both genders) the cost is the shortening of your life; how short depends on how often and how much magic you use. In the case of magisters, the price is even higher (not going to tell you how, that would be a spoiler!). Instead, I will just say that the potential for moral dilemmas is endless!

The premise is great, the worldbuilding is suitably dark and definitely medieval, and the characters are believable. The pacing and the cliffhanger ending are my only complaints with this book. The first can be written off to it being the first book in a series. As for cliffhanger endings, they are a tried and true device for keeping readers coming back for more. They are also the reason why I tend to buy books only after the series is complete.

Aside from that, C.S. Friedman does everything right. Worldbuilding is done through the eyes of the characters, not in mind numbing info dumps. The POV is from multiple characters so you get a good view from different perspectives. It was actually a refreshing change. I have been reading alot of very well done single first person POV books lately, which really pulled me in on an emotional level. I am not sure I could handle that type of intimacy with this story. It is way too dark. She also creates another of my favorite things, a story that makes you think. Could I do that? Could I live with that? How would I handle that same situation? As much as I adore total immersion when I read, I equally love books that make me stop and question. Her characterization is not bad either. Could have been a bit better maybe but that is limited some by using a multiple PoV style of writing. In my layman's opinion, this story is more plot driven then character driven.

There are too many characters to cover effectively. You have Kamala, child prostitute who is determined, no matter what the cost, to develop her powers and escape her horrible childhood. You have the sick prince, who is determined to discover the source of his illness, or die trying. You have an insane king, powerful magisters, an abused queen and a host of other characters both major and minor. All are interesting and all add their own unique views to the story. This is the perfect method for telling this tale because you get to experience just how blurred the line between right and wrong can get when viewed from all sides.

As far as content, I have to go with adult. There is rape, death, and dark magic. There are horrible monsters, deep moral dilemmas, child abuse, insanity, and war. Aside from the harsh realities of the magic system, there is a much greater evil awakening in the north which threatens the entire world. This is also a male dominated society, one where women and children are often treated very badly. Actually, this is one of the main focuses and one that adds even more of a challenge to the female protagonist, Kamala, as if she needed more challenge then she already has! If you like your fantasy dark, where the line between right and wrong is blurred, where cost outweighs benefit, - or should - and where sometimes, there are just not any right answers, you will love this book. I know I did!

Ratings, Reviews, Similar Reads, Buy Books

Shelfari Rating 4/5

Librarything Rating 3.91/5

Amazon Rating 4 out of 5 stars
(36 Customer Reviews)

What Should I Read Next?
Kindle: No

Ebook: No

Buy Book: B&N - Powells

Amazon: US Canada UK
Read an Interview with C. S. Friedman From:
Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Other Reviews: (Some with mild spoilers but more plot detail)
SFF World - The Book Swede and His Blog - Pat's Fantasy Hotlist
Author's Web Presence
Website, Fan Site

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