Wednesday, 30 April 2008

‘The Born Queen’ – Greg Keyes (Del Rey Books)

Greg Keyes’ ‘Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone’ series is one that I’ve been enjoying since I read ‘The Briar King’ back in 2004, every book ending in such a way that I was eager to read the next instalment. As such, ‘The Born Queen’ was pretty much at the top of my list of books I was really looking forward to reading in 2008. I was looking forward to seeing how this series finally ended and what would become of my favourite characters (Aspar the Holter, Cazio and Neil MeqVren). Having finished the book, and the series, I’m left in awe of a story well told and sad that it’s all over. The next time I read this series it will be a re-read and a little bit of the wonder will have gone. At the same time though, some things didn’t ring quite right in ‘The Born Queen’ and I was left wishing things could have gone a little differently. Confused? I was…
‘The Born Queen’ sees the coming together, and resolution, of various plot threads that have been in motion since ‘The Briar King’. Anne Dare has taken the throne of Crotheny but must face the combined might of Hansa and the Church who have declared holy war on her kingdom. Anne’s newly found power will help her in her struggle but it could also kill her. Worse than that, it could spell the end of the world and there are those who will seek to subvert Anne’s power to their own ends…
‘The Born Queen’ has everything that I have enjoyed from Greg Keyes’ previous books in this series which makes it all the more difficult for me to say that I had a problem with it. I’ve been a big fan of the world-building methods that Keyes employs, giving readers a detailed picture of where the story takes place but also ‘sketching round the edges’ to show people that there is a wider world out there. Even now there is mention of places (and history) formerly unheard of and this is ok when it doesn’t affect the plot itself. But sometimes it does… A Hanzish warseer, ‘The Hellrune’, plays a large role in the story but the sudden importance of this character is undermined by the fact that they were not mentioned at all in the previous three books. Closer inspection reveals otherwise but it came across as the author feeling that he had to introduce another powerful character to even things up a bit. Revelations regarding the ‘Sedos Thrones’ also seemed forced and it may have been more effective to have these spread out over the entire series instead of jammed into a few pages. It felt like Keyes’ had suddenly realised the series was meant to be four books long but he had written five. This meant a lot of info-dumping but little explanation (the return of the Black Jester was a great twist but… how did that work?). Maybe this won’t seem so bad after a re-read of the entire series…
On the upside though I was as engrossed as ever with the continuing adventures of Keyes’ characters to the point where I actually grew to like certain characters that I’d had no time for previously (I’m looking at you Leoff!) There’s a real passion and energy apparent in each of the cast that made me care about what happened next to them; beware though as Keyes has absolutely no qualms about pulling heartstrings by killing a character or two (or more)…
‘The Born Queen’ is a slightly disappointing end to a great series but there was still plenty there to make it a worthwhile read. If you’re already a fan then I reckon you will still get something out of it. If you haven’t read this series then I recommend you do so! It’s a ‘must read’ for any fan of epic fantasy.

Eight out of Ten

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Giveaway! Mike Carey's 'The Devil You Know' and 'Vicious Circle'.

If you're a fan of urban fantasy then the odds are you've read at least one of Mike Carey's 'Felix Castor' book, tales of a down on his luck exorcist scraping a living in a London where the dead are increasingly making their presence felt...
What's that? You love your urban fantasy but haven't read anything by Mike Carey? Ok... Would you like to?
Thanks to the good folks at Orbit Books, I have a copy of 'The Devil You Know' and 'Vicious Circle', the best way for one lucky winner to get straight into this great series.

Sounds good doesn't it? Fancy your chances? Well here's what you do... My email address is at the top right hand corner of the screen, drop me a line telling me who you are and where you live (full address please, just so I can make sure the books get to the winner as soon as possible). I'll let this run until next Tuesday night (6th May) and announce the winner on the Wednesday. Duplicate entries will be cast into the fiery pits of Hell... (and they won't win anything either!)

Good Luck!

PS Still not sure about how great Mike Carey is? Have a look at my review of Dead Men's Boots and then read my Interview with the man himself...

Monday, 28 April 2008

‘Odd and the Frost Giants’ – Neil Gaiman (Bloomsbury Press)

For someone who loves books as much as I do, I always seem to miss World Book Day when it comes around… As part of the fun, a number of small books are printed which you can either pick up for a pound or get your kids to buy with a book token. I love book tokens but that’s a post for another day…
I was walking back from a meeting when I happened to notice there were still some of these books for sale in a bookshop. Not only that, one of these was Neil Gaiman’s ‘Odd and the Frost Giants’…
I find Neil Gaiman’s books to be a little hit and miss for my tastes (‘Neverwhere’ great, ‘American Gods’ not so great…) but there’s always enough there for me to get my wallet out every time I see a new book of his. Seeing as you can’t go too far wrong on a book that only costs a pound I thought I’d see what ‘Odd and the Frost Giants’ was like…
The story is simple. Odd is a crippled Norse child who runs away and ends up meeting a fox, an eagle and a giant bear. These are no ordinary animals though, they’re Norse Gods who have been exiled from Valhalla by a Frost Giant. The upshot of this is that the world of man is now trapped in a permanent winter and it appears that the only person who can solve this problem is Odd.
‘Odd and the Frost Giants’ is very obviously a book for children. Apart from the fact that it’s only a hundred pages long, the plot is very simplistic and linear. It can be summed up as ‘boy runs away from home, boy meets talking animals, boy saves world…’ Despite this, ‘Odd’ turned out to be a very entertaining (if short) read purely because of the little ‘extras’ that Neil Gaiman adds. While Gaiman can certainly write a children’s book he doesn’t treat his readers like children. While the conclusion may never be in doubt, there’s a grey area to the plot that certainly made me question the motives of certain characters. If Loki is involved then you just know that nothing is as simple as it first appears! It’s this kind of thing that turns a simple children’s story into something a little bit more and I was left wanting to see how this would end (even if I already knew).
If you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman then you should pick this up if you get a chance. It’s not the greatest thing he’s ever written (which for my money is ‘Stardust’) but there was plenty there to keep me entertained for half an hour.

Seven out of Ten

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Free Reading, Swear Words and Reviews!

I'm having one of those mornings where, even though I only had one beer last night, I feel more than a little bit hungover. What's wrong with me? I think I'm just getting old... :o(
Oh well, while I slope around the house feeling sorry for myself here's some stuff that I found on the internet this week...

The 'Pulp Idol' short story competition is up and running again over at the SFX site. Someone posted This as a good example of a time travel story, made me laugh :o)

Staying on the free reading theme, Gary Braunbeck's Rami Temporales makes for a haunting read. Keep an eye on the blog for more Gary Braunbeck bits and pieces in the next week or so.

Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics laid the foundations for subsequent robot stories in science fiction. It will be interesting to see if Warren Ellis' Three Laws have a similar effect...

Fantasy Book Critic takes a look at David Gunn's Maximum Offense, he liked it as well ;o)

Jay Tomio gives us an update on what is happening over at Fantasy Book Spot.

Grasping for the Wind takes a look at Jim Hines' Goblin War. It looks interesting and I may just have to check these out.

Staying with Jim Hines, he has declared war on Patrick Rothfuss...

Last, but not least, Dark Wolf Reviews takes a look at R.A. Salvatore's Promise of the Witch King.

What am I doing what all this is going on? Well, I've finally started on Greg Keyes' 'The Born Queen' (great stuff) and I'm also dipping into a couple of short story collections. I also went to Forbidden Planet last night so expect at least a couple of posts about all the comics I came home with! :o)

Have a great weekend!

Friday, 25 April 2008

‘The Martian General’s Daughter’ – Theodore Judson (Pyr Books)

I’ve always done alright by Pyr books when looking for something to read. This time I was after something fairly short that would last me a couple of commutes and see me through to the weekend. Weighing in at a slender two hundred and fifty pages, ‘The Martian General’s Daughter’ was clearly a good choice. Not only that, it was a good read as well…
‘The Martian General’s Daughter’ is the story of a dying empire (very much like that of Ancient Rome) in an Earth two hundred years from now, it is also the story of an army sergeant who has risen to great prominence and (along with his illegitimate daughter) must run a gauntlet of murderous politics and insane emperors. Our former sergeant, now a general, is burdened by a sense of honour and obligation that marks him out as unique and perhaps the last of his kind in these troubled times.

'After I have killed the emperor', said Cleander, 'I will cut you open so we find the obligation in you. Once we have it, I promise you, old man, I will put it atop the broadcast tower in the Field of Diversions so that the curious may come from across the Empire to see what Pan-Polarian obligation used to look like.'

His daughter, Justa, is a little wiser in the ways of the world and guides her father to the story’s ultimate conclusion. It is also her voice that tells the tale.
I’m pretty good at suspending all belief, with speculative fiction, but for some reason I had real trouble getting my head around the fact that the events of the book take place only two hundred years from now. I could accept the nano-machine plague but not the shape that society would adopt in such a (relatively) short time from now. Can society change so much in that period of time? I’m not sure. While I could see the need for this in the story (basically a science fiction hybrid of ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Quo Vadis’) I wonder if the story would have benefited from a two thousand year gap instead of just two hundred…
Once I’d got round this though, I found myself really enjoying the story itself. The ‘ancient Roman’ influence is there for all to see (the culture and certain historical parallels) but Judson doesn’t let that stop him from embellishing the world with his own little touches that brought a smile to my face but didn’t detract from the tale itself. I’m thinking particularly of the worshippers of Elbis, ‘The Singer of Songs’. What is more engrossing though is the portrayal of General Peter Black, a character that’s not particularly likeable but who is so ‘out of place’ and naïve that you cannot help but feel sorry for him. His loyalty to the Empire is absolute, to the point where he will support an insane emperor out of the love he had for the Emperor’s father,

'We owe the dead as much as the living', said Father. 'Perhaps more. We are everything they have left.'

As a character study, ‘The Martian General’s Daughter’ is a compelling read that is slightly spoilt (funnily enough) by the voice of the narrator, Justa. Hers is a very dispassionate tone, possibly as a result of her upbringing, that doesn’t infuse the story with the kind of raw emotion that would hook a reader.
It’s a good job then that the ideas behind ‘The Martian General’s Daughter’ are plenty enough to maintain interest all by themselves. This isn’t just a tale of loyalty in a dying empire; it’s also full of the spectacle of gladiatorial games and pitched battle across continents, plenty enough to keep me going.
A tough book to get into but worth sticking with for the long run as it’s ultimately rewarding.

Seven and a Half out of Ten

Thursday, 24 April 2008

‘The Digital Plague’ – Jeff Somers (Orbit Books)

Last year I was lucky enough to get hold of a copy of Jeff Somers’ debut ‘The Electric Church’, a gritty ‘dystopian future’ thriller that (while by no means perfect) I had a lot of fun with and left me eagerly waiting for the sequel. Well, it’s ‘sequel time’! :o) Actually, it isn’t ‘sequel time’, it’s ‘great sequel time’…
Since the events of ‘The Electric Church’ life has been kind to gunner Avery Cates. He’s not just another contract killer anymore; his criminal record has been wiped clean and he’s heading up his own organization, Avery Cates is the criminal king of New York. All this is about to change in the worst possible way when Cates is kidnapped and injected with nanotech that kills anyone that comes near him. With faces from the past dogging his every footstep, Cates must save the people that he cares about (himself mainly) as well as a whole bunch that he would like to see die if he didn’t need their help. It’s time for some tough decisions and a steady trigger finger…
If you enjoyed ‘The Electric Church’ then you’ll be pleased to know that you’re in line for more of the same with ‘The Digital Plague’. If you haven’t read ‘The Electric Church’ then you should pick it up first as the two books tie very closely together (despite a five year gap between events). To be fair, Somers gives the reader a whole load of ‘what has gone before’ in ‘The Digital Plague’ but if you’re after the full effect then read both books!
Somers seems to have decided that his readers must know enough about the world of ‘The System’ and ‘Joint Council’ as he lends more emphasis to the story this time (although some of the depictions of abject poverty, burnt out buildings etc are crushing in their bluntness)). And what a story it is! Once Cates get moving he doesn’t stop. There’s no time to stop as there is far too much happening and Cates’ hit list grows ever longer with each passing chapter. The revelation about who is behind everything comes straight out of the ‘Big Book of Sci-Fi Cliché’ but because things are moving so fast you don’t see it coming until it’s right on top of you. The ‘revenge plotline’ was first rate stuff but where things fell down (slightly) for me was the explanation around what was going to happen after the ‘revenge bit’. While I could see the reasoning behind it I was left wondering if this needed to be included, a matter of personal taste I guess but I thought the story worked better focused solely on one theme.
Like David Gunn’s ‘Death’s Head’ books, ‘The Digital Plague’ is another example of sci-fi that’s there purely to entertain you. It’s very much ‘Altered Carbon’ in style and tone but benefits (at least as far as I’m concerned) from less of the ‘political undercurrents’ that you find in Morgan’s work but more explosions and action instead. I like Morgan’s books but Somers has got the mix just right as I’m concerned! The fact that ‘The Digital Plague’ has a body count that rivals Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ is another plus point :o)
I’m now left twiddling my thumbs and waiting for the next instalment, ‘The Eternal Prison’, to reach the shelves. Looks like I’m in for a long wait…
Highly recommended to anyone who likes their sci-fi mean, streetwise and drenched in bullets!

Eight and Three Quarters out of Ten

PS Do you want to know what I thought of 'The Electric Church'? Have a look over Here.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

I've got no content to add today so here's someone else's...

A doctor's appointment, and people actually expecting me to do stuff at work, has put a bit of a crimp in my plans to review 'The Digital Plague' today. Keep your eyes open for a review tomorrow and then go and buy the book when it hits the shops, it's that good :o)
In the meantime, I saw a couple of things on the Orbit website that I thought I'd share...

Don't you just hate it when you're collecting a series of books and the covers change halfway through? I do... I've been collecting Mike Carey's 'Felix Castor' series and the cover art has been changed for the third book. It could be worse I guess, it could have been a ten book series where the art work was given a radical makeover halfway through (I'm looking at you Mr Erikson...)
Anyway, This article is about something completely different but it does show the new artwork for the first three 'Felix Castor' books. I'm not sure if these are in the shops yet but are well worth picking up if they are...

If you haven't already read Jeff Somers' 'The Electric Church', and your tastes run to gritty cyberpunk, then you need to get yourself a copy sooner rather than later! If you have read 'The Electric Church', have a quick look at
This cartoon while you're waiting for 'The Digital Plague' to hit the shelves (you can win a copy of this over at Pat's site). It made me laugh :o)

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

‘Death’s Head: Maximum Offense’ – David Gunn (Del Rey Books)

Last year saw me pick up ‘Death’s Head’ (David Gunn’s debut) as something to read on a flight home. By the time the plane touched down I had almost finished it and was left trying frantically to finish the book before I had to leave the plane! My review is over Here. It was a nice surprise then to see the sequel come through the letter box a couple of weeks ago. I’d had a couple of issues with ‘Death’s Head’ but, on the whole, this was a series that I was looking forward to seeing more of…
Some well deserved time off comes to a swift end when Sven Tveskoeg and the Aux (his crew of militia) are called upon to rescue a United Free observer from a deserted habitat deep in Uplift (think the Borg) space. At least that’s what Sven has been told, upon arrival at the Hekati habitat, the mission takes a very different turn to what little briefing Sven received. Sven has no idea what’s going on and that’s enough to put him in a very bad mood indeed. When Sven’s in this kind of mood no-one is safe, not even his own side…
I can’t remember where I read this, may have been on Amazon, but someone said that David Gunn is actually a pseudonym for Richard Morgan for when he wants to write something uber-violent but not as cerebral as his regular stuff. While I don’t think for a minute that this is the case, you can certainly see why people might think so. No expense is spared in bringing the reader the most visceral hand to hand combat, that I’ve seen, along with lots of heavy machinery exploding in a variety of ways. There’s elements of ‘MacGyver’ here as Sven seems able to make use of pretty much anything to get himself out of a tight spot and bring down the enemy. While I had to admire the author’s ingenuity, the relentless violence got a bit tedious after a while and felt like it had nothing behind it to back it up. To be fair, this cartoon like approach does work but only if the reader knows exactly what they are getting into. This isn’t a ‘hard concept’ sci-fi novel that will make you think, it’s space opera at it’s most visual. Entertaining on the surface but not a lot underneath.
When I reviewed ‘Death’s Head’, I mentioned that I wondered if Gunn would be able to maintain reader interest in Sven as the character seemed able to beat anything he’s up against. Gunn works his way round this issue by varying the threats that Sven must face but there’s not a lot of suspense as the reader will quickly guess the outcome. Again, it’s good entertainment that won’t work if you’re expecting more.
The plot itself is pretty good as the ‘thriller element’ kept me guessing and trying to work out what was going on, certainly enough to make me keep reading past all the explosions and gunfire! Sven’s talking gun makes for some essential reading as well, I don’t think I’ve met a more sarcastic character in sci-fi! However, due to the fact that Sven doesn’t know what is going on (and has nothing to base anything on) so of the plot twists can seem a little unlikely. To be fair to Gunn, everything seems to tie together in the end.
‘Maximum Offense’ makes no apologies for what it is, a hefty slice of violent space opera that will entertain. It doesn’t do a lot more than that though so make sure you’re in the right mood to enjoy it before you pick it up (unless you’re a fan already in which case you’ll love it).

Six and Three Quarters out of Ten

Monday, 21 April 2008

They're actually going to make me work today, here's some links to keep you going!

Every so often, my boss not only remembers that he hired me but he also remembers where I'm sat in the office. This invariably means that I have to do some work, something that never fails to shock and disgust me :o( In the absence of my own content today, here's a handy set of links to what everyone else has going on. In the meantime, spare a thought for poor ol' me while I try and look busy...

Chris the Book Swede is not writing a
Review! Definitely not, no sir... It made me laugh :o)

Fantasy Book Critic Interviews Alan Campbell, I'm now really looking forward to reading my copy of 'Iron Angel'...

Sci-fi Chick reviews Lisa Shearin's 'Armed and Magical'.

The Wertzone has a very informative author profile on Alastair Reynolds.

Once you finished looking at the links here, head over to Larry's Blog where there are loads more links for your delectation and delight!

Realm's of Speculative Fiction is your one stop shop for a comprehensive list of all the great blogs you should be visiting. Is that a link to my blog you can see there? I believe it is... :o) Thanks guys!

Speculative Horizons took me on a trip down memory lane with
this 'Fighting Fantasy' cover. Pretty cool stuff!

Aidan continues his mighty quest to show us all the spots where you can get Free Readin' on the internet.

Last but not least, The Deckled Edge shines a Spotlight on this week's new releases.

What am I up to while everyone else is coming up with all this great stuff? Well, funny you should ask that... I'm reading David Gunn's 'Maximum Offense' (the sequel to 'Death's Head') and there will probably be a review posted in the next couple of days. After that it's Jeff Somers' 'The Digital Plague' and I really want to read 'The Born Queen' at some point...

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Manga Sunday!

Reading comic books in bed on a Sunday morning, is there any better way to start the day? I don’t think there is :o)
Yen Press sent me a couple of books yesterday and I’ve just finished reading them. Here’s what I thought…

‘Alice on Deadlines’ (Part Two) – Shiro Ihara.

I have no longer have any trouble with starting to read Manga at the back, and finishing at the front, but there’s still a lot of stuff that I don’t get. For example, why are at least 95% of all the female characters spectacularly well endowed in one certain area? What’s that really all about? Another thing I haven’t quite got my head round yet is some of the content, I’m sure a lot of people would say different but opening this instalment with our heroes chasing after a ghost that steals women’s underwear left me feeling bemused more than anything else… To be fair though, things do pick up over the rest of the book, with the introduction of a powerful new Shibito and Shinigami (collector of souls that don’t want to leave this plane), but I almost wasn’t around to see it. And is there a love story quietly developing in the background? Maybe…
There’s a lot of action, and ‘Benny Hill like’ naughtiness, going on here and it is a fairly entertaining read. However, I found that there’s almost too much going on for such a slim book and it can be a little confusing if you don’t keep your eye on things. Some of the character illustrations could be a bit better defined as well as it is sometimes difficult to work out who’s who…
Not a bad read but hard going. I reckon I’ll give this one more book to see if things pick up.

Six out of Ten

‘With the Light’ (Part Two) – Keiko Tobe

From the ridiculous to the (almost) sublime… Last year I read Part One of this series, about the trials a mother must face bringing her autistic son, and absolutely loved it. (Have a read of my review over Here)
Time has passed and some battles have been fought and won but there are more problems that Sachiko and her son Hikaru must face. The arrival of a new daughter is a time for celebration but only serves to highlight Hikaru’s problems. Changes at school must also be faced and overcome, I was really gripped not only by what happened (favourite teacher leaving school and Hikaru getting lost amongst other things) but also by Sachiko’s resilience as well as the little things Hikaru said and did which marked his ability and development.
Both books have been amazing reads and this is one series that I will always be keeping an eye open for. If you’re after some Manga that is intelligent and well written then you could do a lot worse than follow this one as well. The only, slight, issue I had with this latest instalment was that it sometimes crossed the line from realism into idealism. Are people really as understanding and tolerant as Tobe made out? It would be nice if they were…
This didn’t stop me thoroughly enjoying ‘With the Light’ and rooting for Sachiko and Hikaru the whole way. Roll on part three, I really want to see where this one goes…

Nine out of Ten

Friday, 18 April 2008

'Return of the Crimson Guard' - Prologue and First Chapter

If you're a Malazan fan then you're one of many people eagerly awaiting Ian Cameron Esslemont's 'Return of the Crimson Guard', due out in the next two or three months (don't have the exact date on me). Anyone hoping for an advance 'taster' would do well to get themselves a copy of Bantam's UK mass market edition of 'Night of Knives' as the prologue, and first chapter, of 'Return...' can be found nestling quite nicely at the back of the book. I've just read it and it has whetted my appetite for the finished product, Esslemont looks like he is really going to come into his own with this book!
I don't want to give too much away but I reckon I can safely tell you the following...


Esslemont uses an Erikson device of setting the prologue millenia before the main story, in the Elder Age to be precise. A child of the Earth meets the Bastard of Light and Draconus isn't too far behind... It's interesting to see the form that Dragnipur takes before it's final forging...

Chapter One:

This takes place on the Weeping Plains of the Bael sub-continent in the 11th year of Empress Laseen's reign. A siege is about to enter a decisive phase and we get to meet some of the main players through the eyes of a scout called Kyle (I don't know how much of a part he will have to play in the rest of the book). Stalker is intriguing and Cowl looks like he well deserves the position of premier mage in the Crimson Guard. The character that I'm most looking forward to finding out more about is Greymane who makes an appearance in the opening chapter. Here's a man with a price on his head from both the Korelans and the Malazans...

As far as I'm concerned, it's all looking good as far as 'Return of the Crimson Guard' goes. Roll on publication!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Competition Winners!!

There's two lots of competition winners to announce today so, without further ado, here they are...

'Reaper's Gale' (Steven Erikson) Competition.

Three lucky winners will be getting their hands on the UK mass market edition of 'Reaper's Gale' and they are,

Don D'Souza, Ontario, Canada
Steven Kearney, Burnley, UK
Zsolt Farkas, Hungary

'A World too Near' (Kay Kenyon) Competition.

I found myself with a spare copy of this and one Travis Dunn (Tulsa, USA) was the lucky winner!

Nice one guys, your books are on the way and will be with you very soon. Happy Reading!
Better luck next time everyone else... ;o)

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

‘The Steel Remains’ – Richard Morgan (Gollancz Books)

I’ve said before that, after an amazing start with ‘Altered Carbon’, I steadily went off Richard Morgan’s later books. Nothing wrong with them as such, I just felt that he set the bar so high with his debut that he was never going to reach it with the sequels. Then ‘Black Man’ was published last year and I was a fan again, the review is over Here if you fancy a look. It was just after I started on the blog that I heard Morgan’s next trilogy would be fantasy based and my interest was piqued immediately (although I was also hoping that it would be more ‘Altered Carbon’ in tone than ‘Market Forces’!). I received a review copy, a few days ago, along with a note from Simon Spanton saying that ‘this is set to cause some waves…’ He’s absolutely right as well. It may not be the tidal wave of a book by Abercrombie or Lynch (one that leaves everything changed in it’s wake) but ‘The Steel Remains’ is full of those nasty choppy little waves (with vicious undercurrents) that can really mess you up if you’re out for a nice swim…

‘When a man you know to be of sound mind tells you his recently deceased mother has just tried to climb in his bedroom window and eat him, you only have two basic options.’

This is how the story opens and pretty much sets the tone of what the reader will get for the rest of the book. ‘The Steel Remains’ is very much a character driven novel that’s somewhat sparse as far as the ‘what lies where’ elements of world building go, although there are chunks of history that give the reader some grounding as well as set the story up for future episodes. Humanity is recovering from a brutal war against the ‘Scaled Folk’ and the ramifications of policies put in place by the new power blocs (slavery and ethnic cleansing to name but two). Three war heroes must find their way in a new world that they helped create but no longer has a place for them. Things are set to change though…
While the underlying story isn’t startlingly original (world-weary heroes, the threat of a Dark Lord etc) it’s what Morgan does with it that makes it wholly his own and a book that a large chunk of fantasy fans will relish. It’s not just a fantasy book; it’s also a detective story, that takes delight in leading you up the wrong path and then surprising you with revelations you never saw coming, but it’s not just that either. It also has moments of comedy that highlight just how much of a role sheer chance can play in world shaping events. Where ‘The Steel Remains’ really excelled for me though was in it’s depiction of ‘post-war trauma’ in the men returning from battle and how they are treated by a populace that is already beginning to forget the contribution made. Whether you are a mighty lord or a lowly foot soldier the nightmares are the same and what really got me was Ringil’s anger at how he could go to war fighting for one thing and then return to find that he had also helped to uphold everything that he despised. It was also interesting to see Morgan explore the ‘civilising’ affects that warfare can have on people from different cultures; Egar (the warrior from the steps) returns to lead his tribe but cannot escape the feeling that his life was better in the city, something that will ultimately send his life in strange new directions.
I’ve already said that this isn’t just a fantasy novel; it has elements of science fiction that Morgan deftly weaves into the mix to give a refreshing take on old tropes. A Dark Lord (yet another one) may be on his way but this time it doesn’t make me want to yawn…
The story is exciting, and fast paced, but all isn’t perfect in ‘The Steel Remains’. I think that Morgan makes the jump, from sci-fi to fantasy, very well but every so often he seems to slip back into ‘sci-fi mode’ most noticeably in some of his character’s dialogue. This can be jarring on the eye and I guess it’s the price you can end up paying for injecting more realism than is necessary in a fantasy novel (although that must be a fine line to walk…) It also felt that there was a ‘political’ edge to the writing that, although needed, was overdone a bit. I know that slavery/ ethnic cleansing etc is wrong and don’t need to be told quite so many times! And then there’s the issue of the sex and violence that is prevalent in ‘The Steel Remains’…
Now the way I see it, one person’s “He did that with his…!?!?!” is another person’s “HeeHee, he said a naughty word…” It’s all relative and people will react in different ways to what they find in this book. I didn’t have much of a problem with it myself, I love the grittier side of fantasy and this is part and parcel of that. On occasion though, it did feel slightly overdone and I wonder if this kind of momentum can be realistically continued in the next instalment. It’s really fresh right now but where do you go from here? What I will also say is that if your favourite fantasy fiction doesn’t contain much (if any) sex, violence and bad language then be prepared for a lot of it in this book!
‘The Steel Remains’ isn’t a perfect book but there was more than enough here to provide me with a thoroughly entertaining read that really got me thinking about what was going on. If you’re a fantasy fan (or fan of Richard Morgan’s sci-fi work) then this is a book that you need to read this year. I’m already looking forward to the sequel!

Nine out of Ten

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Giveaway! 'A World too Near' (Kay Kenyon)

I really enjoyed reading Kay Kenyon's Bright of the Sky so was pretty pleased to see the sequel, 'A World too Near', come through the letterbox the other day. Look out for a review fairly soon ;o)
And then another copy of 'A World too Near' came through the letterbox while I was on holiday... Now, I don't need two copies but I reckon you might want one of them. Sound like a good idea? If you want the book then just drop me an email (address at the top right hand side of the screen) and tell me where to send it to!
Two things though. The Steven Erikson competition is still running (and there's still time to enter!) so if you're after the Kay Kenyon book then your email header needs to make that clear. Something like 'Give me the Kay Kenyon book!' or 'I'd be much obliged if you would see your way clear to my winning the Kay Kenyon book' will do just fine ;o) The other thing is that I'll be posting the Erikson books on Thursday and it means one less trip to the post office if I post 'A World too Near' at the same time (you should see the queues at my local post office...) This means you have until tomorrow night to send me an email...

Good luck folks!

Monday, 14 April 2008

‘Night of Knives’ – Ian Cameron Esslemont (Bantam Press)

Maybe I’ve been reading the wrong series but, up until a couple of years ago, I’d never really come across a fantasy world where more than one author was telling the tale. And then I discovered the Malazan books, which swiftly became one of my favourite (if not the favourite) series. Even then I thought it was all Steven Erikson’s work so I was surprised to hear that he wasn’t telling the whole tale, there was another guy sharing writing duties and his share of the action was about to kick off with ‘Night of Knives’. To cut a long story short I picked up a PS Publishing edition and very much enjoyed it so I was interested to hear that Bantam were publishing their own edition containing some different material… Bantam were kind enough to send me a copy (and to offer some mass market copies for a give-away, more on that soon) and it went on holiday with me last week. Here’s the thing though, it has been a while (a couple of years) since I last read ‘Night of Knives’ and I have to say that I didn’t really notice any major differences in the text. I didn’t really notice anything different at all in fact (other than the maps, Malaz Isle and Malaz City, and glossary of characters etc) so I would say that if you already have the PS Publishing edition then it may not be worth you picking up this one as well (unless you’re a die hard Malazan fan who will pick up the differences right away). What I will say though is that if you weren’t able to pick up the PS Publishing edition (£15 is pretty steep!) and you haven’t got round to reading ‘Night of Knives’ yet then this is as good a place as any to dive in and get a feel for what Ian Cameron Esslemont brings to the table…
‘Night of Knives’ deals with the events surrounding one of the most tumultuous events in Malazan history, Empress Laseen’s ascension to the throne and the fate of it’s previous occupant. While Erikson’s books hint at answers to this puzzle it’s ‘Night of Knives’ that lays everything on the table for the reader to gasp at, and there is plenty to gasp at. Another question is finally laid to rest (although again, long term fans may have guessed the answer already)… There are also more questions to be answered but if you’re a Malazan fan then it’s this sort of intrigue that you will have come to expect!
The action takes place over a single night in Malaz city. It’s the night of the Shadow Moon and this means that there is a lot more going on than the main plot strand… Credit is due to Esslemont in that he manages to keep several plot elements going all at once, seamlessly switching between them (to keep things fresh) and tying things off in a most satisfactory manner by the end. As with Erikson (not surprisingly), Esslemont will keep you on your toes with revelations that will force you to re-evaluate what you think you just read and view the whole book in a new light. You won’t find the epic battles that Erikson is famous for but the confrontations you will experience are just as intense, the magic is just as visceral and the pathos just as touching. Everyone’s history is relevant in the world of the Malazan series and the characters that you will meet are just as touching as those in ‘Deadhouse Gates’ and ‘Memories of Ice’.
The only criticism that I would level at this stage is that, due to Erikson’s prodigious output in terms of books, it feels like Esslemont is writing in ‘Erikson’s world’ and under a shadow. I fully expect this to change as Esslemont publishes more of his own work and the greater picture that he and Erikson created becomes clear.
Erikson’s Malazan books are amazing in their breadth and depth but you only get just over half of what the Malazan world is all about, pick up ‘Night of Knives’ and begin to get the full story. I’m eagerly waiting to see where Esslemont takes things next with ‘The Return of the Crimson Guard’…

Eight out of Ten

Sunday, 13 April 2008

The Big Fat "I'm back!" Post...

I'm back home and trembling at the prospect of having to go back tomorrow :o( Madeira was lovely, apart from the fact that the island experienced it's worst weather for twenty years while we were there! This was balanced out though by the fact that we got to go swimming with wild dolphins on our last day, easily one of the best experiences ever :o)
I'm back now (already planning our next holiday)and ready to kick start things here after the break. Other people have been coming up with some pretty cool stuff while I was away and here's some of it...

Aidan reviews The Ancient by R.A. Salvatore.

Robert looks at Kate Elliot's Shadow Gate, one of those books that I really need to get round to picking up...

I loved Liz Williams' 'Snake Agent' and Chris recently reviewed the sequel The Demon and the City.

Because I'm lazy at providing loads of links, I shall direct you all to this post, from Larry, where there are even more links to be found ;o)

Rob has a pretty cool post about Cylons and one of my favourite short story collections...

Last, but not least, Adam reviews one of this year's most anticipated releases, I started it last night and have been more than impressed so far!

While I'm on the subject of links, Harper Collins are looking at setting up an online Tolkien store and are after feedback so that they can give people what they want. If this is the sort of thing that you're interested in then there's a survey that you can fill in right Here.

I'm guessing that you must be wondering what kind of stuff will be appearing on the blog in the next few days now the holiday is over. Well, I've just finished reading Ian Cameron Esslemont's 'Night of Knives' so expect to see a review tomorrow. After that you'll have to wait and see but you can pretty much count on a review of Greg Keyes' 'The Born Queen' and a certain book by Richard Morgan... There should hopefully be a couple of interviews as well.
Before I go (shopping needs to be done...) there's just enough time for a shameless plug of a book that I really enjoyed last year and is now out in mass market paperback...

For those of you that haven't read it, 'The Electric Church' is a great read in the mould of 'Altered Carbon' and one that I reckon you'll enjoy if you like your sci-fi brutal and over the top. I reviewed it Here and am looking forward to seeing 'The Digital Plague' when that comes out (in June I think)...

Anyway, that's enough from me for now. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Giveaway! ´Reaper´s Gale´

I´ve got three copies of the mass market edition of ´Reaper´s Gale´on my table at home, all of them waiting to be posted to whoever wants one! You want one? Well, to be in with a chance of winning one is as easy as ever. My email address is at the top right hand side of the screen, just drop me a line and let me know where you live. I´ll pick three winners next Wednesday night and announce the winners here on the Thursday. This competition is open to everyone (doesn´t matter where you live) so... good luck everyone!

Monday, 7 April 2008

Leviathan Rising - Jonathan Green (Abaddon Books)

Lets set the scene... I´ve gone on holiday but have somehow managed to bring the British weather along with me (how do I keep managing to do this?) What I´m after is a book that will keep me entertained while the weather is bad but that I can put down the second the sun comes out. It´s a good job then that I bought Abaddon´s latest Pax Britannia adventure along with me!
Ulysses Quicksilver is back and ready to do his duty for Queen and Country; this time it`s on board the Neptune, a luxury submarine that boasts an eighty day trip round the world... in style! The voyage is only a few days old though when disaster strikes and renders Ulysses´ mission pointless. A brutal murder is followed by an act of sabotage that sends the Neptune crashing to the bottom of the sea. Not only must Ulysses, and the other passengers, make their escape but they must also deal with what`s waiting for them outside...
´Leviathan Rising´is the ideal book for that rainy day in the hotel or if you´re stuck on the runway waiting to take off. There´s so much happening on every page along with a mystery that kept me gussing pretty much until the end. Everything is larger than life and that very much includes the monsters! The heroes are dashing, the villains are evil and everything else is pretty much as you would expect from either a nineteenth century penny dreadful or an Abaddon Book. It´s entertaining and good fun, a marvelous piece of escapism into a world that could almost be our own (if it wasnºt for the dinosaurs and a 160 year old Queen Elizabeth!)
Here´s the thing though, if you´re looking for something a bit more deep and meaningful then you may want to pick another book! This is fun for fun´s sake and nothing else. I lost count of all the ´pop culture´references, including Jaws and Doctor Who amongst others, and this may irritate those who are after something more original. ´Leviathan Rising´is also your stereotypical ´murder mystery whodunnit´ and if you´re a fan of these then you will guess the ending straight away... The whole point of these books though is that they´re not meant to be original, just good ´leave your brains at the door´fun. I loved ´Leviathan Rising´but you may want to bear this in mind before you pick it up yourself...

Eight out of Ten

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Doctor Who is back!

And I missed it... I wouldn't normally swap a day's holiday for sci-fi TV but I've just spent an afternoon in the rain and I'm all wet and miserable...
This is where you guys come in ;o) Did you watch Doctor Who last night? Did you like it? Did you hate it? Did it leave you feeling cold and empty inside? Leave a comment and let me know what I missed...


Friday, 4 April 2008

I'm going on holiday!

The next seven days are going to see me kicking back and relaxing in the sunshine of Madeira :o) At least that's the plan, hopefully this holiday won't turn out the same way that Scotland did... I'll be doing as much reading as I normally do but am only planning on posting reviews etc if the weather is really bad and there's an internet cafe nearby. Stop by and check the blog anyway! ;o)
If you're one of those lovely people who send me emails I will reply eventually but it will be in a weeks time after I get back home!

See you all in a week!

‘Old Flames’ – Jack Ketchum

When Stephen King supplies a cover quote saying that the author (Jack Ketchum) is probably ‘the scariest guy in America’ part of me thinks ‘ooh, sounds like a good book’ but another part wonders if I’m being set up for a fall. Apart from ‘Old Flames’ I haven’t read anything else by Jack Ketchum but on the basis of what I have read I’m pretty sure that I can find a horror author that scares me more. I could probably find more than one in fact.
‘Old Flames’ actually comprises two stories. The story sharing its name with the title of the book tells the tale of a woman who is unlucky in love and the lengths that she will go to in order to get her man and also to protect herself when things inevitably go wrong. ‘Right to Life’ is the story of a woman’s pregnancy while in the captivity of a couple who plan to steal her baby as soon as it is born.
I wouldn’t normally review two horror books in a row (I like to try and keep things fresh) but I thought it would be interesting to look at another style of horror compared to that which Gary Braunbeck employed in ‘Coffin County’. While there is a heavy supernatural element to Braunbeck’s work, Ketchum eschews this to concentrate solely on the horror that humanity is able to commit all by itself. There is plenty of that to be found in what is actually a very short book. Whilst ‘Old Flames’ concentrates on the inner workings of a damaged mind, ‘Right to Life’ shows the reader (in no uncertain terms) what a damaged mind is capable of doing. Be warned that ‘Right to Life’ contains some fairly explicit scenes of the torture of a pregnant woman…
I found both stories gripping and they kept me reading to the end. ‘Old Flames’ had a sense of inevitability about it where, even though I knew what was coming, I had to get to the end. In the same way, ‘Right to Life’ had an urgency about it where I found myself racing to the end to see what happened to our heroine. Here’s the thing though; neither story scared me at all. Sure, I winced a few times (I’ve found that I don’t really care for scenes of female torture!) and I was concerned for certain characters but I’m going to sleep easy tonight because there was nothing in either story that unsettled me. This is really just a matter of personal taste, on my part, regarding what I look for in horror fiction. I want to be scared; not just left feeling strangely repulsed by scenes of torture piled one on top of the other and coming across as ‘overkill’. This wasn’t really the case in ‘Old Flames’ but I found that this story was a little too short (only 130 pages) to adequately address some of the questions that I had of the main character. This meant that I had trouble getting a feel for why she behaved in certain ways and this left me unable to engage with the character (as the main character this was a bad thing!).
If you’re a Jack Ketchum fan already then you will know what to expect and will probably get a lot out of this book. On the strength of what I’ve read though, I’m not sure that I’ll be giving him another try.

Five out of Ten

Thursday, 3 April 2008

‘Coffin County’ – Gary Braunbeck

After reading Gary Braunbeck’s 'Mr Hands, last year, I was pleased to see his latest book come through the door the other day. Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places but, to me, bookshops in the UK always seem to stock ‘the usual suspects’ (King, Koontz etc) so it was good to see something from someone I hadn’t heard of before. ‘Coffin County’ is part of Braunbeck’s ongoing ‘Cedar Hill’ cycle and attempts to tie things together before the finale (in one or two book’s time, I can’t remember), I loved the story but am not too sure about how it ties some things up.
The town of Cedar Hill has always been home to small/large scale weirdness and terror but now things are starting to get worse. A spate of shocking murders grips the town but no-one is prepared for what lies behind these acts. The answers can be found in a similar set of killings, two hundred years ago, and an old abandoned grave yard…
‘Coffin County’ scared the life out of me, not just through the supernatural events but also through Braunbeck giving the reader a view into what goes on in people’s heads before they commit the kind of acts you will see in this book. There is some seriously bleak stuff going on in the background and the calm logical way that people come to their conclusions only adds to the horror of what they do. There are also other reminders that true horror lies in everyday life where grief over a loved one or domestic abuse can be more horrifying than the ‘monster in the shadows’. Talking of the ‘monster’, it was interesting to see who the protagonist finally turned out to be and their reasoning for doing what they did. However, while I could understand his motives, I couldn’t work out what it was about him that made other people suddenly decide to commit murder. I’m definitely going to re-read ‘Coffin County’ and see if things make a bit more sense! The background to all these happenings is stereotypical but very haunting at the same time. We’ve all seen scary stuff happen in a graveyard (or slum ridden back streets) but Braunbeck manages to make it worth the read anyway.
One thing that, slightly, spoilt it for me was that Braunbeck would sometimes ‘over explain’ what was happening on the police procedural side of things. I was far more interested in the horror aspect so found it a bit tiresome to have to plough through pages about the art of fingerprinting. Luckily, the rest of the book is good enough that this can be forgiven. I also wasn’t too sure about some attempts to link this book back with previous books in the cycle. I’m sure that things will make more sense when the cycle is done but having a page of ‘and this is how ‘Coffin County’ links to…’ felt a little contrived and like a concession to people who haven’t read all the books in the series. (And I’m still not sure if the link to ‘Mr Hands’ made any sense, I guess I’ll have to re-read that as well!)
In fairness though, the ‘good’ outweighs the ‘bad’ and ‘Coffin County’ makes for an entertaining and spooky read. There’s two more bonus tales as well; ‘I’ll play the blues for you’ is a solid tale of mankind’s right to music but it’s ‘Union Dues’ that really stands out and deserves to be a lot longer than it actually is.
I’d recommend ‘Coffin County’ to any fan of Gary Braunbeck and it’s well worth a go even if you’ve never read his stuff before.

Eight out of Ten

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Author Interview! Mark Charan Newton

After finishing 'The Reef' (review below) I found that I was left with loads of questions that I wanted to ask Mark. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology (and Mark's willingness to be interviewed, thanks Mark!) I got to ask these questions and the answers can be found below...

Hi Mark, thanks for agreeing to do this interview.

You work for Solaris Books, what’s it like working on the ‘other side of the fence’
as a writer?

I was writing before I worked at Solaris, back when I used to work in bookselling, so it was really editing work that was the 'other side' for me. Combining the two jobs isn't easy -- I can spend all day reading, an hour or two writing in the evenings, and then to relax... reading! But I think working as a writer helps me understand writers, from a publishing perspective. A heck of a lot of effort goes in to writing a book, a lot of emotions, blood, sweat and tears. And it also means that when I'm writing, I know what editors go through too... But it means that the industry is my life. And that's not a bad thing at all. I get to meet some great people!

While it may be early days, can you ever see yourself scaling down your career in publishing to pursue your writing full time?

As soon as I can afford the beach house... We always get worried when we hear, at Solaris, that writers are giving up the day job. It's a very fragile career, and a rare few individuals can succeed enough to get by. At the moment, I love doing both. They're a nice compliment to each other.

What gave you the initial idea for ‘The Reef’? I’m going to assume that it didn’t come about through your watching a TV show on marine life…

Not quite! I studied Environmental Science at university, back before everyone became eco-fashionable. A lot of scientific philosophy was the starting point—I can bore you about ecological systems and emergent properties, or about the differences between natural systems and human influenced ones. The natural world can be just as bizarre as any imagined one. So I had a lot of theory kicking around in my head, which needed an outlet. Plus islands are a great literary tool—traditionally, things clash when a group of people are alone, issues brought into the foreground. And I like cool creatures. I wanted to write about them. I wrote this when I was about 23/23 (just turned 27 now...), so all this stuff was still fresh in my head.

‘The Reef’ has been compared to both China Mieville’s work as well as Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’. How does it feel having your work compared to these authors? Were they a source of inspiration for your work?

China Miéville is the reason I started writing. I read THE SCAR and something was awakened within... He's a massive influence. If I could approach half of what he's done, I'll be chuffed. At the time of THE REEF, Hemingway was a big thing for me. Conrad wasn't a major influence, but more indirectly through Hemingway etc. I wanted to write about absolutely strange things, but with a clipped and precise style. It's not like how I write my current work, but I wanted the challenge, at the time, of combining the two.

‘The Reef’ is a ‘stand-alone’ work but there is also a lot of content that hints at wider struggles and issues. For example, why was there a rebellion against science? Will ‘The Reef’ be a springboard for more books set on the continent of Has-Jahn?

Perhaps one day. There is a lot of background that I know about, but like to have left as a mystery for now. I in fact wrote a novel in this world before THE REEF -- which got me my agent, John Jarrold, but it was in that curse-word category, the New Weird, which no publisher anywhere in the world wants to touch. The New Weird is dead. It was barely alive to begin with. So after this, I concerned myself with more traditional settings, and assiduously set about building something much bigger and more widescreen. There are going to be subtle links between this book and the next projects, but very small threads indeed. I'd like to revisit one day, but now I've sold the deal to Macmillan / Tor, it's not going to be any time soon.

‘The Reef’ seems to primarily concern itself with the moral, spiritual and ideological journeys of its characters. Was it difficult to strike a balance between this and giving your readers some grounding re. the world that the story is set in (bearing in mind that ‘The Reef’ isn’t a long book)?

Incredibly so. Primarily, books have to have a good story, else people will bore themselves to death reading it. Not what you want. If a writer starts getting too much into philosophy, and abandoning characterisation, plot etc., it is basically, excuse my French, masturbating on the page. No one wants to see that. So you have to work these things in gently around the plot, in my opinion.

I noticed that there are no maps in ‘The Reef’. Was this a publishing consideration or are you a person who has something against maps?

None of the above really. I didn't draw one (even though I know where everything is), and one wasn't asked for. I do like a good map, though. I'm not against them!

You’ve just seen someone, in a book shop, debating whether to buy a copy of ‘The Reef’. Tell them what they will be getting for their money!

Something very different from any other fantasy book they've ever read!

2008 is set to be a busy year for you with Tor UK publishing your next novel ‘Nights of Villjamur’. What can you tell us about this and why should we be rushing out to buy it?

Tor are publishing it in early 09, and I'm really excited to be working with them; especially the editor, Peter Lavery, who published authors I admire greatly. NIGHTS OF VILLJAMUR is a noir fantasy, if we're loving the whole classification game like I do. Noir not simply meaning dark, although it is dark, but because it has a vicious streak of proper crime noir, which is a genre with its own conventions to play with. That's reflected in the title choice: Nights with an N, not a K. It's got refugees fleeing to escape an ice age. A few controversial characters, morally, sexually and otherwise. It's got garudas, Backstabbing? You bet. There's some some different magic in the form of remnants from some other era. The dead are walking across the tundra. And there are banshees, too. I wanted to turn the flame up on fantasy. I wanted it to be big, bad, pushing different buttons, and giving readers a thrill. Serious but fun too. It's really inspired by M John Harrison's VIRICONIUM books, and Steven Erikson's Malazan Empire novels. Two great writers. I think it'll appeal to Scott Lynch / George R R Martin readers too. Certainly that end of things.

Thanks again for your time Mark, I really appreciate it.

For those of you who want to find out more about Mark, his site is over Here

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

'Zombie Broadway' (Virgin Comics)

As you know, I'm a big fan of zombies so whenever I see new zombie stuff (books, comics etc) it's a safe bet that I'll be checking it out sooner rather than later. It was with this attitude that I picked up a copy of 'Zombie Broadway' at the weekend but having finished it all I can say is, "Nice idea, shame about the execution..."
New York has been infested with zombies and it's 'last resort time' for the US President who is about to authorise a nuclear strike on the city. At the very last minute the Mayor of New York comes up with an surprise development, it's been discovered that zombies love music and this could be the way to regain control of the city. What's the best way to do this? Put on a Broadway show with zombies in the cast and audience...
Now, I love it when someone goes for a 'new spin' on any genre as it's this kind of thinking that keeps things fresh and interesting. If it doesn't work though (well, it didn't for me) then the whole thing just ends up falling flat on it's face! My first issue was the artwork where, although I could make out who the main characters were, everyone just seemed to merge into one faceless being. Really difficult to follow the story if you can't make out who's who... The second issue I had is more subjective, I felt that the focus was wrong and more attention was paid to the infighting between the theatre staff than the zombies themselves. This is meant to be a comic about zombies but it came across (to me) like a more of a soap opera full of backstabbing, affairs etc. That wasn't what I was after but that's what I seemed to get! The ending didn't make a lot of sense either. After everything had been wrapped up, an ending was tacked on that seemed like it was there just to shock rather than add anything meaningful...
Like I said at the start, 'Zombie Broadway' had a good idea behind it but came across (to me) like it had been set loose just that little bit too early. At least I have my 'Walking Dead' comics to fall back on!