Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Author: Rob Rhodes


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The Sword-Edged Blonde: Bledsoe is a natural storyteller

The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe

A foaming tankard for public libraries. If mine hadn’t featured Alex Bledsoe‘s engrossing debut novel, The Sword-Edged Blonde, I doubt I’d have ever discovered it.

Granted, I only discovered it because of the quasi-garish cover and title (neither of which has much to do with the actual story), picking it up just to shake my head at one more piece of fantasy trash. But then I read the cover blurbs from Charles de Lint and Orson Scott Card,


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Knight of the Dove: Vintage blade needs polishing

Knight of the Dove by William A. Kooiker

Amaria Eversvale, known as The Knight of the Dove for her unusual, ivory-colored hair, is a peerless and respected warrior; but her physical prowess belies her inner turmoil. After calling upon evil gods for the power to avenge her husband by slaughtering an entire fortress, she goes into self-imposed exile, wandering for months until she at least reaches Valgamin, the last city before the mountain range known as Urak’s Edge/The World’s Edge. There, she finds herself drawn into a secret conflict between the priesthoods of two evil gods,


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The Innocent Mage: Fairly enjoyable fantasy

The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller

In the UK Orbit is the largest Science Fiction and Fantasy publisher, responsible for bringing readers such authors as Robert Jordan, Terry Brooks, Orson Scott Card, Laurell K. Hamilton, Tad Williams, J.V. Jones, R. Scott Bakker, etc. In September 2007, Orbit made its US debut thanks to Hachette Book Group USA, and brought with them a diverse blend of fantasy,


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A Song for Arbonne: Reverberates with the slow, sweet music of humanity

A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay

In this homage to the troubadours and the “court of love” of medieval France, Guy Gavriel Kay comes down from the dizzying heights of The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy and creates a beautiful and memorable tale of mere mortals ensnared by political intrigue, enmity and love. (GGK does allude to Fionavar quite nicely, however, in a brief lullaby.)

While the plot is perhaps too complex for adequate summary here, it’s certainly not too complex for your reading pleasure.


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Stardust: Full of magic and whimsy

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Go, And Catch a Falling Star…

If you like fantasy stories filled with magic, adventure and romance, but are getting sick and tired of boring, long-winded fantasy epics, then look no further than Stardust. There are no long histories, family trees or endless descriptions of culture, landscapes and back-story. This is just a sweet, simple fairytale told by a great storyteller. Though be warned — the original fairytales were not written for children, and Stardust follows in their literary footsteps,


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Five Hundred Years After: Brust is brilliant

Five Hundred Years After by Steven Brust

If there were justice in the literary world, you’d think Steven Brust would have received more acclaim and notice, as Brust’s writing is crisp and lively, his pacing excellent.

As explained in an “interview” with the book’s pompous narrator, Brust writes for those who love to read, i.e. those who enjoy a good vocabulary, good grammar, good phrasing, and (indeed) a good story. This is not some “page-turner” to be engulfed at one-sitting; if you did that with a box of Godiva chocolates,


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Ship of Destiny: Strong conclusion to an exciting trilogy

Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb

With so much being churned out in the way of epic fantasy, it’s always a pleasure to come across something original and unique. I felt that way about Robin Hobb’s Farseer books and wondered if she’d be able to maintain such high standards in Liveship Traders.
While I don’t believe she quite got there (it is after all a pretty high bar she set herself), this series certainly stands on its own as quality fantasy, and Ship of Destiny is a fitting conclusion (though one wonders if that word has been banned from the genre).


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Tigana: Fascinating story filled with passion

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Tigana is a masterpiece.

It is difficult to summarize the plot, for so much of the story unfolds organically — indeed, as a near-perfect tainflower — that one fears to spoil the pleasure of becoming swept up in the narrative. That said, the tale concerns the Palm, a mythic penninsula reminiscent of Italy, a land divided between two wizard-conquerors. One conqueror has utterly blighted the province of Lower Corte with an undreamt-of dark magic. (Take a fresh look at the map of the Palm mid-way through,


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The Compass Rose: Poorly written romance-fantasy

The Compass Rose by Gail Dayton

I simply could not finish Gail Dayton’s The Compass Rose (and have already donated it to my public library). It begins adequately and has decent world-building, but about halfway in (once the strong-yet-unremarkable protagonist, Kallista, and company start toward the capital city) it sinks into a nauseating quagmire of romantic pseudo-plots and issues. The scenes are poorly paced, and for no apparent reason (other than weak attempts at creating tension), chapters begin and end in the middle of the same scene.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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