Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"The King's Bastard: King Rolen's Kin #1" by Rowena Cory Daniells (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Read Rowena Cory Daniells Guest Blog Here
Visit Rowean Cory Daniells Website Here
Order King's Bastard from Amazon Here

The Kingdom of Rolencia sleeps as rumours of new Affinity Seeps, places where the untamed power wells up. By royal decree all those afflicted with Affinity must serve the Abbey or face death. Sent to the Ab­bey, the King’s youngest son, Fyn, trains to become a warrior monk. Elsewhere others are tainted with Affinity and must fight to survive. Political intrigue and magic combine in this explosive first book in an exciting new fantasy trilogy.

Format: The King's Bastard is an epic fantasy with many different plot threads floating around the book and various character point of views. It stands at 640 pages and was released June 29, 2010 by Solaris.

Analysis: I am always on the look out for a new fantasy series to try out. So when I heard about the King Rolen's King Trilogy I had to give it a shot. What I encountered was a very interesting fantasy experience.

King's Bastard can only be described as a fantasy soap opera with some magic thrown in on the side. That's not to say it was bad, but if you don't like multiple story lines and melodrama occurring at every twist and turn, then this probably isn't the book for you. Just to give you a brief idea of the drama involved in King's Bastard there was: jealous siblings, a cousin who had a father who was banished, an oppressed daughter, a closeted homosexual, a love triangle, a brother who is living in his twin's shadow all the time, and a third son who was sent away to be a monk. And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head!

Some of the story threads were a bit predictable at times but nothing came across as overly in your face predictable. I had a feeling stuff would happen but yet I wanted to read on!

Even with all the drama swirling around King's Bastard, I enjoyed it. I found it a fast moving, gripping fantasy. Due to the massive size and sometimes multiple plot lines going on, I could easily knock off 3 to 4 chapters before I knew it. However, like most soap operas I could only take these a little bit each day. I really feel if I had sat down, read through the whole book in one sitting (which wouldn't have been hard with this book) I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much. I liked having the suspense and intrigue and drama to look forward to every day.

While I enjoyed the book and loved it, I would have loved to see the land and the magic a bit more fleshed out. I felt almost like it was glossed over and I was missing something about the magic and land. Of course there are two other books so there is certainly time to get to those, but I really would have liked to see the magic in full effect in this novel.

If you're looking for a novel that has multiple characters and plot threads going around then King's Bastard is for you. I can't wait to see what happens in Book 2, and believe that Rowena Cory Daniels is off to a great start with this series!

Odds and Ends: 2010 Booker Prize and compiling a list of Future SF Classics written by women

Yesterday, the winner of the 2010 Man Booker prize was announced in London and to the big relief of the British bookies who were standing to lose tons of money on bets made on the big favorite "C" by Tom McCarthy, so much so that betting was closed last week by some agencies, a dark horse "The Finkler Question" by Howard Jacobson won.

Said to be the first comedic novel that has won the Booker, The Finkler Question was the only one I did not check out so far of the six shortlisted novels. I reviewed Room and will review In a Strange Room this week for its US publication, while I strongly disliked the big favorite "C". The other two I have started but not yet finished, though I read enough to have a good idea about them.

The Finkler Question has also just been released here in the US, I will take a look at it especially that the online extract I looked at on Amazon read well. While I doubt the book will come close in my appreciation as the superb Room, maybe its choosing is a sign of the times - when things are less rosy even the literati prefer comedy... I will see soon.

Edit later 10/13 As expected I found a copy of the novel this evening and started reading from it and I like it; quite funny in a bittersweet way so far and not a book I will read end to end, but one to savor slowly especially when feeling down. Not the emotional Room or the stark beautiful simplicity of In a Strange Room, but neither the pretentious jargon, "look at me, I am important" of "C", The Finkler Question goes well with the uncertain mood of the times, so I am not surprised anymore that it won.

On Niall Harrison's Torque Control there has been a heated debate with 218 comments so far about "Women and the Clarke" It is worth reading the comments especially that some well known sff authors like Richard K Morgan and Liz Williams chimed in, but here I want to talk about Mr. Harrison's initiative to compile a list of notable sf written by women between 2001-2010 under the heading Future Classics since several years ago there was a furor about a Gollancz list of Future Classics that had no women authors.

Personally I am very skeptical of any "classics", "must read" lists done by any publishers since to my mind they are a marketing ploy for attention and no more - so I never really pay attention to such, but this effort here is independent and merits all our support.

So email Mr. Harrison your list top ten sf novels by women from the last ten years (2001–2010), before 23.59 on Sunday 5 December. For more details about eligibility as publishing dates go read his post, but otherwise there are no restriction on publication country and as for what is sf - another topic that merits a length post and debate - I will just direct you to the AC Clarke award shortlists of the past several years for guidance.

So Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Retribution Falls qualify - which to my mind means that a lot of stuff does - but again that is for another day, though I am very curious to see if Kraken gets nominated and accepted for 2010 since that would automatically would add most UF on the sf lists as per all this discussion which of course would render it kind of moot...

I will present here my list which I emailed as above with links to our reviews when available and to Google books extract when not.

1.SpiritGwyneth Jones (FBc Rv LS)
2.The Year of Our War Steph Swainston (Google books extract)
3.The Etched CityK.J. Bishop (Google books extract)
4.Chaos Space - Marianne de Pierres (FBC Rv LS)
5.The Alchemy of Stone - Ekaterina Sedia (FBC Rv RT)
6.Principles of Angels - Jaine Fenn (FBC Rv LS)
7.DarklandLiz Williams (FBC Rv RT)
8.Daughters of the North aka The Carhullan Army - Sarah Hall (FBC Rv LS)
9.Spin StateChris Moriarty (Google books extract)
10.Banner of SoulsLiz Williams (Google books extract)