Books Monthly is published on the first day of every month by Paul Norman. You can contact me via email at:
Second volume of Stephen King's comic book version of THE DARK TOWER is due for release at the end of October, collecting issues 1-5 of the comics. It will be reviewed in Books Monthly, of course.
October 2008 Issue
John Norman's Chronicles of Gor are back in print at long last...
JOHN NORMAN: MAGICIANS OF GOR Published by E-Reads (PB and E-Book) ~ The party of treason in Ar is triumphant. After the disaster of the delta campaign Ar is substantially defenseless. The forces of Cos, and her allies, are welcomed into the city as liberators. Ar's Station, which held out so valiantly against superior forces in the north, is denounced as traitorous. Veterans of the delta campaign are despised and ridiculed. Patriotism and manhood are denigrated. Ar's walls are being dismantled willingly by her own citizens to the music of flute girls. Lawlessness and propaganda are rampant. Marlenus, the great ubar, who might have organized and led a resistance, who might have rallied the city, is presumed dead, somewhere in the Voltai mountains. The Home Stone of Ar's Station is displayed in Ar as an object of contempt. Marcus, of Ar's Station, wishes to regain the Home Stone of his beloved city, for no city can die whose Home Stone survives. Cabot is concerned with a warrior's vengeance upon sedition and treachery, and, in particular, with meeting one who stands high amongst the conspirators, a beautiful woman now enthroned as ubara, whose name is Talena. Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the first book of the Gorean Saga, TARNSMAN OF GOR, E-Reads is proud to release the very first complete publication of all Gor books by John Norman, in both print and ebook editions, including the long-awaited 26th novel in the saga, WITNESS OF GOR. Watch for a feature on the Gor Chronicles in the November issue... The Gor series started in the late 1960s when Joh Norman began to create a fantasy world along the lines of the great Edgar Rice Burroughs, and for the next thirty years or so, he produced a total of twenty-four novels, some of which are remembered for their bondage and slavery. For a time no one knew what had happened to Norman, and then there was talk of a comic adaptation of the novels by Visn Entertainment, and indeed, a few pages of artwork appeared on the web and those of us who were interested started to sit up and take notice. After a couple of years, though, Visn pulled the plug and Gor disappeared once again except for the various websites, mostly concentrating on the BDSM aspects of the novel and no mention of the fantasy aspects. For a time the only version of MAGICIANS was the Daw paperback, which was retailing at a ridiculous price, but now, thanks to E-Reads, all of the books are available as E-books and paperbacks - the design is uniform, only the words on the front change, but it's a welcome return - I always found the stories utterly harmless as regards BDSM, and simply liked to read about the fascinating world and peoples that Norman had created. MAGICIANS reintroduces three of the main characters from the early books, TARL CABOT, MARLENUS OF AR, and TALIENA, and it's certainly one of the best Gor books in a very long time. There's a 26th novel, which I'll get around to some time in 2009, and Norman is apparently working on a 27th novel. There's also an excellent Gor website, sanctioned by Norman, which you'll find by going to www.gorchronicles.com or clicking on the banner below.
CHRISTOPHER PAOLINI: BRISINGR (Random House Children's Books HB) Following the colossal battle against the Empire's warriors, Eragon and Saphira narrowly escaped with their lives. But, more awaits the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by promises he may not be able to keep, including his oath to cousin Roran to help rescue his beloved Katrina. When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes, Eragon must make choices that take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice. Conflict, action, adventure and one devastating death await readers as Eragon battles on behalf of the Varden while Galbatorix ruthlessly attempts to crush and twist him to his own purposes. Can he become a leader who can unite the rebel forces and defeat the King?
RACHEL CAINE: CHILL FACTOR (Allison & Busby PB) ~ Living, dead or Djinn, Joanne Baldwin just can't stay out of trouble. Now, she's on a time-sensitive mission to Las Vegas to retrieve the world's most important Djinn from the world's most dangerous teenager ...and she's doing it alone. That's bad enough but having to deal with a past that's determined to buy her, and suffering from serious wardrobe shortages ...well, that's over the line. One thing's for certain, Joanne is gambling everything this time.
TERRY PRATCHETT: THE FOLKLORE OF DISCWORLD ~ Most of us grow up having always known to touch wood or cross our fingers, and what happens when a princess kisses a frog or a boy pulls a sword from a stone, yet sadly, some of these things are now beginning to be forgotten. Legends, myths, fairytales: our world is made up of the stories we told ourselves about where we came from and how we got there. It is the same on Discworld, except that beings that on Earth are creatures of the imagination, like vampires, trolls, witches and, possibly, gods, are real, alive and in some cases kicking on the Disc. In "The Folklore of Discworld", Terry Pratchett teams up with leading British folklorist Jacqueline Simpson to give an irreverent yet illuminating look at the living myths and folklore that are reflected, celebrated and affectionately libelled in the uniquely imaginative universe of Discworld. From the Inside Flap: Most of us grow up having always known to touch wood or cross our fingers, and what happens when a princess kisses a frog or a boy pulls a sword from a stone, yet sadly some of these things are now beginning to be forgotten. Legends, myths, fairy tales: our world is made up of the stories we told ourselves about where we came from and how we got there. It is the same on Discworld, except that beings on Earth are creatures of the imagination - like vampires, trolls, witches and, possibly, gods - are real, alive and in some cases kicking on the Disc. In The Folklore of Discworld, Terry Pratchett teams up with leading British folklorist Jacqueline Simpson to take an irreverent yet illuminating look at the living myths and folklore that are reflected, celebrated and affectionately libelled in the uniquely imaginative universe of Discworld. About the Author : Terry Pratchett is the acclaimed creator of the bestselling Discworld series, the latest of which is Making Money. He was appointed OBE in 1998. Dr Jacqueline Simpson is a long-standing member and office-holder on the Committee of the Folklore Society. Her publications include British Dragons, Folklore of Sussex, Scandinavian Folktales, and (with Jennifer Westwood) The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's Legends. I'd be lying if I said I liked Terry Pratchett - I'd put him in the same category as Douglas Adams (and Little Britain, Ricky Gervais and Harry Enfield) - simply not funny to me in any way, shape or form. I'm not qualified to comment on this latest volume, except to say that Pratchett fans will undoubtedly love it and welcome it with open arms. I can quite simply do without it.
MISSPENT YOUTH by Peter F Hamilton published by Del Rey HB ~ Peter Hamilton is famed for SF blockbusters of far-future interstellar adventure. By contrast Misspent Youth is a social comedy set in the year 2040 in England. When gene therapy rewinds Jeff Baker's age back to his early 20s he finds that wisdom and experience are no match for hormones...The rejuvenation treatment, developed by federal Europe to impress laggard America, is so complex and expensive that only one person every 18 months can receive it. Jeff is the first because he's a celebrity inventor, father of the "datasphere" which superseded the Internet. Family upheavals follow. An "arrangement" with his much younger, still beautiful wife Sue lets her enjoy lovers while the aged Jeff turns a blind eye: now things are different. Meanwhile their 18-year-old son Tim is struggling ineptly with teenage sexual pangs and the impossibility of understanding girls. All part of growing up, but Jeff's renewed youth brings farcical complications. It's not just that Jeff now fancies Sue again. He can't resist even younger women. An early one-night stand is publicised all over the datasphere. Embarrassment escalates when he's seduced by the granddaughter of a long-time pub companion. Worse, several of Tim's ravishing female schoolmates are interested in Jeff the celebrity stud. The dishiest of all is Tim's latest, most hopelessly adoring girlfriend. Can it be coincidence that the action mostly happens in Rutland? This comedy of embarrassments and revelations has a darker background: Europe is plagued by separatist movements whose terrorist habits make the old IRA look like pussycats. The turning point in Jeff's tangled relationships comes when he attends a London conference surrounded by protest that breeds riot--with Tim among the protesters. A foreshadowed twist leads to a finale that mixes cynicism with sentiment. En route Misspent Youth is a lot of fun. --David Langford. Synopsis: From the author of the magnificent 'Night's Dawn' trilogy, a provocative look at the days not too long after tomorrow It is forty years into the future and, following decades of research and trillions of Euros spent on genetics, Europe is finally in a position to rejuvenate a human being. As the first subject for treatment, is chosen Jeff Baker - the father of the datasphere (which replaced the internet) and philanthropist extraordinaire. After eighteen months in a German medical facility, the seventy-eight-year-old patient returns home looking like a healthy twenty-year-old. MISSPENT YOUTH follows the effect his reappearance has on his family and friends -- his young ex-model wife Sue, his teenage son Tim, and also on his longterm pals who are now themselves all pensioners, and starting to resent what Jeff has become. Bestselling author Peter F. Hamilton has brought his unique story-telling skills to bear on an aspect of future living that is bound to increasingly fascinate. First of two Peter F Hamilton offerings this month - sorry to say I couldn't get into this - humorous SF has to trigger certain reactions, and this one I found dry and, to be honest, boring.
THE ENGINE'S CHILD by Holly Phillips published by Del Rey PB ~ From acclaimed author Holly Phillips comes a major work of visionary
fantasy in the vein of Jeff Vandermeer and China Miéville. As richly
detailed as it is evocative, the vivid prose of this ambitious novel
illuminates a lushly imagined world poised on the brink of revolution.
DAVID BILSBOROUGH: A FIRE IN THE NORTH Published by Tor PB ~ This second volume picks up the ongoing story in a tunnel leading out of enchanted mountain realm of Eotunlandt. Fighting their way through subterranean dangers, Nibulus and his diminished retinue of 'questers' finally reach the open again, only to discover that their rivals the Thieves have mysteriously disappeared. Meanwhile, Gapp and a sinisterly altered Methuselech continue towards Wrythe, the last settlement. They find the population strangely degenerated, under the influence of a local leader, in fact the evil being Scathur who has been hiding there for five hundred years, awaiting his moment of vengeance.Scathur recognizes that inside Methuselech is the outcast soul of a rival necromancer, Mauglad, so imprisons them both till they manage to flee for their lives. The rest of the original questers also turn up for a scary sojourn in Wrythe, before heading on to Melhus island with Scathur's deathly henchmen in pursuit. During strange dreams, the wanderer Bolldhe learns he must use a strange sword he has found to kill the evil demigod Drauglir, once and for all. They all venture into Melhus (the Underworld), contesting with the hosts of the dead sent against them. There ensues a colossal battle, with thrills and spills and monumental destruction, before the questers achieve an unexpected victory - and most of them will return to Nordwas sadder but wiser. A welcome paperback reissue of book two of Bilsborough's mammoth opus.
PETER F HAMILTON: THE TEMPORAL VOID Published by Pan Macmillan HB ~ The Intersolar Commonwealth is in turmoil as the Living Dream's deadline for launching its Pilgrimage into the Void draws closer. Not only is the Ocisen Empire fleet fast approaching on a mission of genocide, but also an internecine war has broken out between the post-human factions over the destiny of humanity. Countering the various and increasingly desperate agents and factions is Paula Myo, a ruthlessly single-minded investigator, beset by foes from her distant past and colleagues of dubious allegiance - but she is fast losing a race against time. At the heart of all this is Edeard the Waterwalker, who once lived a long time ago deep inside the Void. He is the messiah of Living Dream, and visions of his life are shared by, and inspire billions of humans. It is his glorious, captivating story that is the driving force behind Living Dream's Pilgrimage, a force that is too strong to be thwarted. As Edeard nears his final victory the true nature of the Void is finally revealed. This is more like it - hardly any comedy, just straight SF. Bravo!
MATTHEW STOVER: CAINE BLACK KNIFE (Ballantine Books PB) ~ In Heroes Die and Blade of Tyshalle, Matthew Stover created a new kind of fantasy novel, and a new kind of hero to go with it: Caine, a street thug turned superstar, battling in a future where reality shows take place in another dimension, on a world where magic exists and gods are up close and personal. In that beautiful, savage land, Caine is an assassin without peer, a living legend born from one of the highest-rated reality shows ever made. That season, Caine almost single-handedly defeated–and all but exterminated–the fiercest of all tribes: the Black Knives. But the shocking truth of what really took place during that blood-drenched adventure has never been revealed . . . until now.. Thirty years later, Caine returns to the scene of his greatest triumph–some would say greatest crime–at the request of his adopted brother Orbek, the last of the true Black Knives. But where Caine goes, danger follows, and he soon finds himself back in familiar territory: fighting for his life against impossible odds, with the fate of two worlds hanging in the balance. Just the way Caine likes it.
CHARLIE HUSTON: EVERY LAST DROP (Ballantine Books PB) ~ “[Charlie Huston’s] action scenes are unparalleled in crime fiction and
his dialogue is so hip and dead-on that Elmore Leonard should be