Tales of the Greatcoats Vol. 1: A fond return to a warmly remembered world

Tales of the Greatcoats Volume 1 by Sebastian De Castell

“So I’m only in one of these nine Greatcoats stories?” Brasti asked, pausing his work.

“Yes,” De Castell replied. “Though to—”

“But Kest gets two?”

“The man knows talent when he sees it,” Kest said, skimming through the pages of Tales of the Greatcoats. “I especially like how you have me win a duel without actually fighting the duel. And … Hold on, I’m in only two?”

Brasti snorted. “The man knows talent.” He sighed. “I suppose Falcio is in all of ‘em.”

Falcio looked up from staring at the newborn daughter he cradled in his arms. “And deservedly so, given that—”

“Actually,” De Castell interrupted gently. “Falcio is also just in ... Read More

Sunday Status Update: January 2, 2022

Marion: I finished M. A. Carrick’s The Liar’s Knot, and enjoyed every minute of it. I sent off interview questions to the two writers who comprise that author, and look forward to providing that interview and a giveaway in the near future. I finished up Louise Erdrich’s The Sentence, a nice bit of metafiction about Tookie, who works in a bookstore owned by a writer named Louise. Tookie is haunted by a ghost of Flora, an annoying regular customer, who is now haunting it (she didn’t die there, just really likes the place). The book did not go to any of the places I would have expected a “ghost in a... Read More

Thoughtful Thursday: 2021 Books We Can’t Wait For! (Giveaway!)

Here are some of the books we can’t wait for in 2021!

Hover over the covers to see what our reviewers said about each book.

Which books are you looking forward to this year? One commenter wins a book from our stacks OR we'll send you the Kindle version of your choice of one of these:



If you'd like to get email notifications about our GIVEAWAYS, add your email address here. No spam or other emails, only announcements of our giveaways: Read More

Anaconda: Hard to swallow

Anaconda directed by Luis Llosa

The unvarnished facts regarding the anaconda, the world’s largest and heaviest snake, are disconcerting enough … particularly the one species of the four known as the giant, or green, anaconda, aka Eunectes murinus. These monsters can grow to a length of nearly 30 feet and weigh in excess of over a quarter of a ton. They live for around 10 - 12 years in the wild, mainly in the watery regions near the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers in South America, and subsist on a diet of fish, turtles, pigs, jaguars, deer and other wildlife … up to 40 lbs. of small wildlife a day, one solid meal satisfying them for weeks. Of course, for most people, the most salient and scarifying feature concerning these beasts is their ability to constrict the life out of their victims, after which they consume their dainties whole. Truly, a creature to be feared and avoided, despite their nonpoisonous nature. And, to be sure, an animal that would ma... Read More

Tyrant’s Throne: A near-perfect close to a great series

Tyrant’s Throne by Sebastien de Castell

De Castell turned to Kest. “How would you rate our chances?”

Kest rifled through the manuscript. “We’ll get four and five-star reviews and show up on a dozen Best of the Year lists, after which you’ll get one, no two, major nominations. People will be very sad it’s over and will repeatedly beg you for more. Falcio will appear on five or six ‘Best Characters in a Series’ lists, which won’t do much for his humility, I hate to say.”

“I’ll have you know I have the best humility of anyone.”

“My point exactly. I’ll get a Top 10 mention on a list of Best Swordsperson in a fantasy work, but poor Brasti will almost certainly be forgotten, unless someone makes a list of ‘Characters Who You Only Remember as ‘That Other Guy.’”

Brasti glanced up from polishing his bow.

Falcio raised a finger before Brasti ... Read More

Soulbinder: This time, Kellen must go it alone

Soulbinder by Sebastien de Castell

In the first three books of Sebastien deCastell’s SPELLSLINGER series, Kellen, son of a powerful Jan’Tep sorcerous family and follower of the Argosi way, has been able to count on a loyal and powerful support network. Reichis, a squirrel-cat, is thieving and verbally abusive, but fierce and faithful. Ferrius, an Argosy traveler, has taught Kellen much about the power of magic and of life. In Soulbinder (2018), the fourth book of six planned, Kellen finds himself alone, forced to rely only on his own resources.

(This review may have mild spoilers for the previous books.)

Kellen carries a demonic infection called shadowblack. At the end of Charmcaster, K... Read More

Saint’s Blood: Another great romp mixing humor and grief

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Saint’s Blood by Sebastien de Castell

Saint’s Blood (2016) is the third in Sebastien de Castell’s GREATCOATS series, and as with the previous two (Traitor’s Blade and Knight’s Shadow), it’s both a lot of fun (really, a lot of fun) and deeply emotionally affecting. The series isn’t perfect, but it’s just so enjoyable and engaging that you just don’t mind the few flaws, and that continues with Saint’s Blood, which resolves its major story arc but also points at the very end to a fourth book. And I have no c... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 28, 2019

Lots of great books this week!

Bill: This week I read Guy Gavriel Kay’s fantastic A Brightness Long Ago, which was just as compelling and moving as when I read it the first time two weeks ago.  I also read Tad Williams’ Empire of Grass, an excellent if overlong continuation of his OSTEN ARD series.  In media, what a weekend.  The family and I saw Avengers: Endgame and despite some quibbles, I would have happily stayed straight through the following showing. And GoT’s night battle we all thought wonderfully tense, though the issues were more substantial in this one. I also watched The Magicians season 3 finale, which had a great ending, and I’m looking forward to watching Season 4 after postponing doing so to watch with my son. In audio, I finished Mark Miodownik... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 21, 2019

Happy Easter from FanLit!


Bill: Into the grading silly season this week and next, but I did read Guy Gavriel Kay’s newest, A Brightness Long Ago. Review to come shortly but c’mon, it’s Kay—could it be anything but full of grace, craft, and beauty?  I also finished Human Errors by Nathan H. Lents, a quick (even slight at times) look at all the ways the human body could have been designed better. In audio,  I’ve neared the end, sadly,  of Mark Miodownik’s  excellent Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives. On video, my son and I reached the wonderful “Under Pressure” rendition of The Magicians, Season Three and wrapped up season two of The X-Files. I also finished Sabrina’s second... Read More

Knight’s Shadow: Great characters enrich this second installment

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Knight's Shadow by Sebastien de Castell

I absolutely loved Sebastien de Castell's Traitor's Blade, first in his GREATCOATS series, having been immediately charmed by the utterly winning voice of its first-person narrator Falcio val Mond and its flamboyant Three Musketeers-like tone and narrative. So I was greatly looking forward to its sequel, Knight's Shadow. I'm pleased to say that while I had a few issues, for the most part I was wholly satisfied despite such high expectations.

The sequel picks up pretty much right after the close of Traitor's Blade and continues with the same basic goal: find a way to keep the king's thirteen-year-old heir Aline alive long enough to... Read More

WWWednesday: April 17, 2019

Gene Wolfe. Image (c) Locus Magazine



Obituary:

Gene Wolfe died on Sunday, April 14. Wolfe was a master writer who is probably best known for THE BOOKS OF THE NEW SUN. Wolfe’s work dealt with identity, memory and mystery, often featuring a main character who didn’t realize that he (and it was usually a “he”) had only a small part to play in a much larger story. His prose is amazing, and he will be missed. Tor.com celebrates the life of this master storyteller.

Awards:

File 770 presents the long list for the Best Books in Translatio... Read More

Traitor’s Blade: Full of adventure and derring-do

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell

Traitor’s Blade is the first installment in Sebastien de Castell’s GREATCOATS series and is an interesting blend of genres — like The Three Musketeers with classic fantasy. At the core it is about a young man whose heart is broken and who has found meaning in defending ideals that are greater than himself.

An oft-used, but nonetheless compelling storyline in fantasy is the abuse of power by the nobility. Whether it’s something as simple as overtaxing and overworking the lower classes or some of the more heinous examples where the Nobles rape, murder and torture with seeming impunity, the concept remains that power unchecked corrupts. Falcio Val Mond has had his fill of exactly this sort of thing. As a young husband his experiences have riven his soul and created in him a desire for justice that... Read More

Sunday Status Update: April 7, 2019

We're reading some great books this week!


Bill: This week I took advantage of a momentary lull between papers to read the eighth EXPANSE book, Tiamat’s Wrath, by James S.A. Corey (keeps this great series humming along) as well as Philip Reeve’s Station Zero, the strong conclusion to his excellent YA trilogy that began with Railhead. Outside the genre  I read (or reread since many were familiar) Seamus Heaney’s 100 Poems. On audio I’m currently listening to the engagingly informative Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives (the book itself is delightful). In media my son and I are into the third season of The Magicians, a show that impresses even more on a rewatch. And I confess to ... Read More

Charmcaster: Politics and family get more complicated in this one

Charmcaster by Sebastien de Castell 

"But when an Argosi encounters something new — something that should not exist and yet could alter the course of history — we are compelled to paint a new card: a discordance." 

Charmcaster (2018) is the third book in Sebastien de Castell’s SPELLSLINGER series. In it, we see another nation in Kellen’s world, a different form of magic adopts Kellen, and the political situation convolutes in even more dangerous ways. Ferius, Kellen and Reichis team up with some new allies and manage to make still more enemies. Kellen, an exiled Jan’Tep scion who has rebelled against his ruthless, manipulative and politically astute father Ke’heops, still manages to unintentionally aid his father’s interests.
Read More

Shadowblack: A solid, entertaining second book in the SPELLSLINGER series

Shadowblack by Sebastien de Castell

“You think you’ve had it bad? I’ve been on the run for ten years. Bounty hunters, hextrackers war mages…” He shook his head. “You steal one too many sacred books and all of sudden you’re an outcast.”

Shadowblack (2018), by Sebastien de Castell, picks up shortly after Book One, Spellslinger. Kellen, the exiled son of a Jan’Tep prince, is traveling with an Argosi named Ferius Parfax and a squirrel cat named Reichis, who will not admit that he is actually Kellen’s familiar. There is a bounty on Kellen’s head now, placed there by his people, the Jan’Tep, because Kellen showed symptoms of a demonic infestation called shadowblack. Ultimately, the demonic ener... Read More