Wednesday, May 7, 2008
What Should I do #7: New Authors

For the last couple months, I've been meaning to bring some books to your attention. I would think to myself: "Self, you should really mention this book to people your blog."

But then I'd get busy. Or some time-sensitive piece of news would come up, like a book signing or making the New York Times list. Or I'd be distracted by something shiny, or edible, or both.

So, without further ado, here are some authors that you might not be aware of.

David Keck - In The Eye of Heaven.

I read David Keck's book couple years back and really enjoyed it, but there is a caveat: This is not your typical fantasy novel.

We all know most fantasy novels are set in fairly generic medieval settings. The world Keck creates is different. His world is dark ages. Mankind is not on the top of the food chain, and the world is full of dangerous, mythic forces that are not to be fucked with.

At the same time the story remains very realistic. I don't think I've ever read another book that does a better job of depicting the real hardships of a mercenary knight in the dark ages. His description of an injured knight going to a dentist was delightfully spot-on.

Keck's writing style is unique as well. His descriptions are brief, almost poetic in places. Very different than the long, ponderous description that is common with so many fantasy novels these days. To use an artistic analogy: this book is more like a Monet painting than a photograph.

Because of this, the story feels almost dreamlike at times, as the main character moves back and forth between the harsh realities of tournament combat and strange dealings with otherworldly powers. I think this element of Keck's writing caught a lot of readers unprepared, and let to some unfair reviews of his work. You don't bitch because a Monet painting is blurry. It's supposed to be that way, that's the effect the artist was trying to achieve....

The second book in Keck's series came out fairly recently (In a Time of Treason). But starting a series with the second book is not civilized behavior, and people who do it go to the special hell reserved for child molesters and people who talk in the theater.

Anyway, I really enjoyed liked it. But be warned: This is not your typical fantasy novel.

Anton Strout - Dead to Me.

As a fellow fantasy author and one of the founding members of the League of Reluctant Adults, you would think that Anton Strout would be my friend. In fact, it would be reasonable for you to assume that he has my respect and admiration.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. Strout is, among other things, my mortal enemy. The sordid details of our long-standing feud are multifarious, and I cannot in good conscience list them in a blog that children might read.

Suffice to say that I have many worthwhile reasons to scorn the man, none of which have to do with the fact that he seems to have more luck with the ladies than I do. Nevertheless, I am a gentleman, so I'll mention his book here. Just to show that I am the better person.

I have not read his first book myself, for obvious reasons, but I've heard others say good things. They say that it's urban fantasy with a strong comic twist. Charline Harris gave him a glowing blurb, so if you like her stuff, you might like his too.

Jim Hines - Goblin Quest.

One of my favorite things is when fantasy authors play with the conventions of the genre. Joss Whedon, of course, is the champion of this. The whole premise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer starts with the question, "What if that ditsy, helpless blond who gets killed in the horror movie actually kicked some ass instead of running away then falling down?"

Hines is good at playing this game too, except he asks a different question: "What do Goblins do when they're not getting killed by adventurers?"

These are fun books. They're lighthearted, humorous, and have some good storytelling to boot. Best of all, Hines takes the time to actually create a well-developed world for the stories to take place in, complete with a fresh cosmology, and a unique goblin culture.

Added bonus? Hines has written the next two books in the series: Goblin Hero and Goblin War. They're already in print, so you don't have to wait to read the rest of the series, unlike... um... some other authors. Who will remain nameless.

I think I'll stop at three. If you want more, you can always check out my previous recommendations by clicking on the "recommendations" label down below. Elegant in its simplicity, isn't it?

Later all,


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Blogger a cat of impossible colour said...

Ha! The special hell ... :)

Thanks for the recommendations!

May 7, 2008 2:34 PM  
Blogger kendall said...

Groovy! I own the first two but (blush) haven't read them yet; the third is one I've eyed on-and-off...must give it a closer look!

May 7, 2008 2:49 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

You really should look over your feud and read Anton's book. It's quite good. :)

May 7, 2008 2:54 PM  
Blogger M.Q.Zed said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I've been checking lists in Amazon looking for more books to read as I just finished my last batch.

I just finished reading the first law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. It's fantastic and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who likes reading. Is full of war, magic, and anti-heroes. There are some amazing characters in there, one of the best being Inquisitor Glotka. It is very gory though so be forewarned.

Oh! and Neil Gaiman put a link on his blog today to a free ebook on the net called Little Brother by Cory Doctorow that sounds promising. That one's next on my list.

May 7, 2008 7:05 PM  
Anonymous Bibi said...

hahahah. thanks pat. I've been needing something to do while waiting for certain unnamed books by a cartain *ahem* unnamed author, and the picture contest can only keep me entertained for so long. This looks like fun!

May 7, 2008 8:21 PM  
Blogger Steven said...

Thanks for the heads up. I've been meaning to pick up some more books. At the moment I'm working on The Last Unicorn, but after that I'll be out of luck.

There is always The Dark Tower Series. I own all seven books, but I haven't been able to get through the third. Stephen King's Tolkienesque narrative is boring me, and the story meanders from one place to another with no apparent direction.

I did manage to read The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett. Both were excellent — the latter more so. Good Omens was another of my recent reads, though I didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoy the singular works of both Pratchett and Gaimen.

May 7, 2008 9:12 PM  
Blogger Triston said...

My wife has instructed me to go to B/N here in Appleton. While she does not appreciate the fine taste of Fantasy, I will be checking these books out.

By the way, when the last Harry Potter book came out NPR had a show that discussed the idea that people read the last chapter first to see what happens and then begin to read the book from the beginning. Do you practice this form of witchcraft? I believe these people should be placed in that special place as well....

May 8, 2008 6:57 AM  
Blogger Mary J. said...

Thanks Pat!

Dead to Me has been added to the list.

May 8, 2008 11:33 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

First of all, great book you've written, really looking forward to the next one.

second of all, you said the f-word *freaks out* ;)

And thirdly, i've been looking for some other great books and maybe one of these are going to be my next "victim".

btw.. Another great book-series is the song of ice and fire (you probably allready know of this of course, but for the hell of it i just have to mention it every chance i get)

And for the grammar-whiners, i'm dutch and far from a perfect english-typin' dude. ^_^

May 8, 2008 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another author I have been reading while waiting for Pat's sequel to come out has been Joe Abercrombie the first book in his series that is awesome is "the blade itself"

May 8, 2008 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Snall said...

I hate to go spouting about another author, but a guy I think everyone should check out (And I think Pat would like him a lot) is Steven Erikson. He's a Brit author I believe who has huge tomes of the best level of fantasy (In my mind) also Glen Cook's new series is pretty good (And of course the old Black Company if you have never read..).

Also the guy that said Abercrombie, very good, I have the third book here waiting to be read (I order from over seas) Joe Abercrombie.

May 9, 2008 6:52 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

Hi Pat -

Maybe it's my Jewish upbringing that is instilling such guilt, but I cannot fathom coming to your website to cheer on another author. That's something akin going to Yankee Stadium to cheer on the Mets. (Yes, I'm an original NuYawkah. What of it?? :) ) You just don't do it.

You are obviously a much better man than me (we'll ignore the fact that I'm a girl for a sec here)..... I would so much rather cheer you on and continue to stuff your book into the hands of everyone who walks into my local Borders. (Yes, I've done that. Multiple times. And yes, I've been asked to leave...... multiple times. But hey - I've sold a bunch of your books for you that way, so it's all worth it in the end!!) There are plenty of other blogs and websites to share suggested reading lists.....

But that's my own humble opinion. That and a ha'penny will get you.... pretty much nothing in today's world. :)

May 9, 2008 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recommendations: I just finished The Host, and I have to say... wow.

I don't care what you think about Stephenie Meyer or the Twilight series. I am not a squeeing teenage fangirl (though yes, I do squee, and deeply, and frequently). I might personally love them, but Twilight has nothing to do with The Host.

The Host... is nothing other than great science fiction. I can't explain it better than that. It's just... *good*.

I might go to the special hell for saying that here, but. :P

May 9, 2008 2:50 PM  
Blogger The Writer said...

Great post! Loved the Firefly reference. I'll have to add these books to my list.

May 10, 2008 6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to your recomendations I'm now reading In the Eye of Heaven and am about 1/2 way through it.
Without you and your blog I would have never heard about it.

May 11, 2008 9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that Rob Lowe on the cover to Dead to me lol

May 14, 2008 2:25 AM  
Blogger *lynne* said...

Heyya Pat,

I've just finished reading The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia which you'd recommended a while ago: Certainly enjoyed it, reminded me more of American Gods than Neverwhere, but either way, it was a good read and I thank ya :-)

I only have 70+ books on my official to-read list, but I'll add these books you talk about here,,, might take another long while to get to them tho :p

May 18, 2008 9:24 PM  

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