Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 1998.01


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Bloodwinter: The lazy plotting is a festering wound

Bloodwinter by Tom Deitz

Tom Deitz spends rather a lot of time during the course of Bloodwinter telling the reader just how extraordinarily awful the winters of his fantasy kingdom of Eron are, how Herculean must be the efforts of those who seek to cross the frozen wasteland. Without getting cuter with this analogy, there were stretches where I felt much the same about reading the novel.

That isn’t to say that Bloodwinter is ever painful to read. Deitz has an excellent command of language and he uses it well,


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The Squire’s Tale: Great Arthur retelling for kids

The Squire’s Tale by Gerald Morris

The Squire’s Tale is what I love to see out of kids’ fantasy. It’s charming, it’s well-told, it’s entertaining for a number of age groups, and even as it simplifies and plays with the mythology it uses, it remains lovingly respectful of the original texts.

I was actually surprised by how closely the novel sticks to the Arthurian legends. The Squire’s Tale introduces the character of Terence, Sir Gawain’s squire, and gives the magical end of things more of an Irish mythological slant,


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The Dark City: Fast and gripping

The Dark City by Catherine Fisher

The Dark City is the first of a four-book series by Catherine Fisher published years ago in England and now being released (in its entirety rather than year by year) to the US. Classified as young adult, I’d say it skews toward the upper end of YA while also being one of those YA novels that, though it might read a little thin to adults, can absolutely be enjoyed by them.

The books are set in the near-medieval world of Anara,


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Skellig: Sad and joyful, poignant and funny

Skellig by David Almond

Michael is living in a stage of upheaval and transition in his life: his parents have just moved to a rather derelict house, his unnamed baby sister is drastically ill, and the house is often visited by ‘Doctor Death’, the doctor sent to check up on his sister. On top of this, he now has to bus for school; the previous occupant of the house was dead for a week before anyone found him, and the outside garden is a wilderness. The garage in particular is a nightmare — slumping over,


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Heroes Die: Testosterone-driven guilty pleasure

Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover

Science has discovered inter-dimensional travel and the other-dimensional world of Ankhanna, which we call Overworld. And like all most discoveries, it’s not long before someone figures out how to cash in. Big corporations create the ultimate reality entertainment by sending “actors” to Overworld on adventures for the masses to experience via cyber linkups for the elite who can afford them or by just watching through good ol’ fashioned video. Harri Michaelson, as the ruthless Caine, is by far the most popular “actor” on Earth and the most famous assassin in Ankhanna.


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Beyond the Deep Woods: Weak start to series

Beyond the Deep Woods by Paul Stewart

Beyond the Deepwoods is the start to the long-running Edge Chronicles. This first book does what one would expect, introduces the world, the major characters, and the major conflicts, but it does so in such shallow fashion that one might be hard-pressed to consider reading on. I don’t know how the rest of the series goes, but I can say that the second novel, Stormchaser, improves in many ways upon the first.

Beyond the Deepwoods,


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The Sterkarm Handshake: Dense, immensely complicated

The Sterkarm Handshake by Susan Price

In the 21st century an invention has finally been perfected: The Time Tube, which allows contemporary scientists, researches and corporate moneymakers to travel back into the 16th century and mingle with the locals there. Think of the possibilities! Plentiful supplies of oil, gold and coal, an extraordinary opportunity to study ancient life, and a pollution-free resort for those wealthy enough to make the trip. The corporation FUP has already purchased the troublesome borderlands between 16th century Scotland and England in order to begin development.

But there’s just one problem: the Sterkarms.


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Silk: Oh, what a tangled web…

Silk by Caitlin R. Kiernan

I’m trying to remember how long ago I first read Silk. It may have been as much as ten years ago, when the book was new. I can’t say for sure, but I can say that few books have stayed with me the way Silk has. Even when I’d forgotten the details of the plot, images remained: the horror of the climactic scene, the kudzu-strangled trees. A few years after reading Silk, I went on a road trip through the South,


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The Black Jewels Trilogy: Joy and pain, rage and celebration

THE BLACK JEWELS TRILOGY by Anne Bishop

Imagine a fairy-tale heroine. You know the type: beautiful, kind, able to charm all the beasties of the forest into eating out of her hand. On the astral plane, she even has a unicorn’s horn. Now imagine that she has enough magical power to move mountains. (Literally.)

You might think this is a recipe for the worst Mary Sue in the history of literature, but in Black Jewels, it works. There’s a reason Jaenelle is the way she is.


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The Sum of All Men: Original ideas

The Sum of All Men by David Farland

Gaborn Orden, the next King of Mystarria is headed to the kingdom of Heredon to ask the lovely Princess Iome for her hand in marriage. Castle Sylvarresta however is under attack by the evil Raj Ahten, the Runelord of all Runelords. With thousands of endowments taken from other men and women, he is truly a man among men, and he takes over Castle Sylvarresta without a single drop of blood being shed. Gaborn however can see through this ruthless man. Endowed with the Gift of the Earth and deemed to be the future King who will seek revenge upon Raj,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

We have reviewed 8266 fantasy, science fiction, and horror books, audiobooks, magazines, comics, and films.

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