Saturday, 19 August 2017

Grimdark. We're nailing it down!

Over on the Grimdark Facebook group we're compiling a list of books which we're going to rate for grimdarkiness.

It seems to be not a war of words but a war for a word. There are those who use 'grimdark' as a pejorative for a vague group of things they dislike, there are grimdark aficionados who see the term as descriptor for an aesthetic that requires the presence of a number of distinct elements which may include moral greyness, bleakness, and nihilism, and there are an (apparent majority) who just see it as the setting on a control knob relating to general levels of violence and ickyness... Here all are free to battle it out and define this word through usage and example. Let your voice be heard!

Note, this isn't something you "win" at. Nobody is saying a high grimdark score means a good book, or vice versa.

Please only vote on a book IF YOU HAVE READ IT, not based on other's opinions.

Currently we are voting on:
(remember, we aren't voting on how much we liked them or not)
(Vote on the book, not the series or author)

The Vagrant - by Peter Newman
Godblind - by Anna Stephens
Conan - by Howard, Sprague de Camp & Lin Carter
Lord Foul's Bane - by Stephen R Donaldson
Elric of Melnibone - by Michael Moorcock
The Darkness That Comes Before - by R. Scott Bakker
The Grim Company - by Luke Scull
The Steel Remains - by Richard K. Morgan

(a book graduates to the list when we have a 100+ votes on it, can still be voted on)

This is the list of titles voted on, ranked by average(*) grimdark content:

Prince of Thorns - by Mark Lawrence, Grimdark Rating 4.42
The Black Company - by Glen Cook, Grimdark Rating 3.84
The Blade Itself - by Joe Abercrombie, Grimdark Rating 3.84
Gardens of the Moon - by Steven Erikson, Grimdark Rating 3.56
A Game of Thrones - by George RR Martin, Grimdark Rating 3.41
The Way of Shadows - by Brent Weeks, Grimdark Rating 2.78
The Warded Man by Peter V. BrettGrimdark Rating 2.56
Legend - by David Gemmell, Grimdark Rating 2.27
The Lies of Locke Lamora - by Scott Lynch, Grimdark Rating 2.26
Assassin's Apprentice - by Robin Hobb, Grimdark Rating 1.96
The Sword of Truth - by Terry Goodkind, Grimdark Rating 1.51
Magician - by Raymond E Feist, Grimdark Rating 1.46
The Pawn of Prophecy - by David Eddings, Grimdark Rating 1.26
The Sword of Shannara - by Terry Brooks, Grimdark Rating 1.16

* average discounts outliers to discount the effect of stupid votes.

This is the list of titles waiting for a vote so far:

The Last Wish
The Gunslinger
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
The Mirror Empire
Low Town
The Final Empire
Beyond Redemption
The Court of Broken Knives
Shadow of the Torturer


Thursday, 17 August 2017

The biggest fantasy debuts in the past decade!

This list is restricted to "epicish" fantasy, which by my off the cuff definition generally involves a secondary world and warfare based on sword and spear.

The reason for such restriction is simple - it's my favourite kind of fantasy, and were I to include YA fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal fantasy, romance fantasy etc the great majority of the the books below would be swept off the table because the truth is that "epicish" fantasy is a niche genre and sells far fewer books than the kinds of fiction I just listed.

I crowd sourced this list over at r/fantasy and if you have a debut book you think fits, please mention it in the comments.

The numbers in brackets are the number of Goodreads ratings the book has. Since this is directly related to sales it is a clear indication of the "size" of that debut.

I have included three titles that aren't really "epicish" but don't seem to fall into the other categories I mentioned either. They are probably close to magical realism, which crosses over well into the general readership and gets big sales. I've left them (shaded red) as reminders that the kind of fantasy shown here constitute small fish in a big pond!

Where I had more than three I have stuck to the top three except in cases of ties.

2007 - The Name of the Wind (449K)

2008 - The Way of Shadows (114k), The Warded Man (77k)

2009 - The Dwarves (7k), Lamentation (3K), The Adamantine Palace (2K)

2010 - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (32K)

2011 - The Night Circus (474K), Prince of Thorns (63K), Blood Song (52K), Theft of Swords (37K)

2012 - Malice (8K), Throne of the Crescent Moon (8K)

2013 - The Golem and the Jinni (71K), Promise of Blood (25K), The Thousand Names (12K), A Crucible of Souls (5K), The Grim Company (5K)

2014 - The Emperor's Blades (23K), The Goblin Emperor (14K), Traitor's Blade (9K)

2015 - The Library at Mount Char (16K), Dawn of Wonder (12K), The Grace of Kings (7K)

2016 - Hope and Red (1K), The Summer Dragon (1K), The Crimson Queen (1K), Benjamin Ashwood (1K)

2017 - candidates include, The Bear and the Nightingale (14K wow!), Kings of the Wyld, Blackwing, Godblind, The Court of Broken Knives...

Monday, 14 August 2017

Prince of Thorns at 6!

Prince of Thorns is 6 years in print!

Check out the fifthfourththirdsecond, and first birthday round-ups. 

I now have 7 books on the shelves!

Being a numbers guy as well as a words guy I like to keep track of things and record them for when I'm a doddery old guy looking back at my 'glory' days.

In its 5th year the 500,000th copy of Prince of Thorns was sold!

And the book was translated into its 23rd language (Iranian!)

On Goodreads Prince of Thorns has passed 60,000 ratings!

And Prince of Thorns continues to attract ratings on Amazon

And the blog has very nearly broken two million views!

And finally my snail's pace conquest of Twitter continues its crawl.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Badge, pin ... whatever, it's a contest!

So, Queen Robin of Hobb was in San Diego recently at the Comic-Con when she spied Ace giving away badges with my book on!

Using all her powers of persuasion she badgered (*) them out of four sets and very kindly sent them all the way to merry old England.

(*) her word ... would Robin Hobb sink to punning? You decide.

Anyway. Each of these sets is actually a promotion and lets you email to claim one free book from:

Mark Lawrence - Prince of Thorns
Karen Chance - Touch the Dark
Simon R Green - The Man With The Golden Torc (I've read this! It's funny!)
Chloe Neill - Some Girls Bite


So, rather than hoard them I am going to give them away. Since they are badges, let's have a badge contest. To enter simply make your own badge celebrating any book and send me a photo of you wearing it (with a close up too if it isn't sandwich board sized.

"Badge" is a fairly loose term. For our purposes it can be anything that you support with your body (but no hands).

I will give 2 of the sets away to the 2 best entries and 2 more away to 2 randomly selected entries.

Here's mine. It took me ages! AGES!

Yes, I am very serious about all this.

Send me your entries to - title the email "Badge Contest"

I will post entries on this page and give plenty of warning before the contest closes.


#4 Nikolas

#3 Paul: symbol of The Orcslayer from The Eighth God by Paul Lavender

#2 Angela and friend.

#1 Kirsten

Friday, 11 August 2017

Dragons Rated

More dragons every week.

Meet Pedro. He looks cute but if you glance away, even for a second, he will fuck you up! Loves watermelon. 9/10

Freddy loves to play fetch-the-knight. Anyone hoping to adopt him needs a large (fireproof) garden. Likes tummy rubs. 11/10

Wilbur loves to play but the other dragons call him ugly. Would suit a large family. Sometimes burps nitric acid. 12/10  

Maximilian is a good draggo. Enjoys rotting carrion and short waddles on the beach. Good with children. 13/10

Who ate all the knights then? Wuggum ate all the knights!
Enjoys sleeping and Nutella. 11/10

"Pretend to throw the flail again. I dare you!"

Roger likes chasing flails, having his head scratched, and barbecues, 10/10.  

Good draggo seeking adoption. Susie loves baths and the water in general.
Only apply if you have a garden pond. 11/10.

Herman is a good draggo. He's small, but he can swallow a whole dog. Likes dogs, cats, cat food, and being green. 12/10.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Grey Sister has a cover!

The US cover for Grey Sister has been released by Ace.

And here it is!

Art by Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme.

In Mystic Class Nona Grey begins to learn the secrets of the universe. But so often even the deepest truths just make our choices harder. Before she leaves the Convent of Sweet Mercy Nona must choose her path and take the red of a Martial Sister, the grey of a Sister of Discretion, the blue of a Mystic Sister or the simple black of a Bride of the Ancestor and a life of prayer and service.

All that stands between her and these choices are the pride of a thwarted assassin, the ambition of a would-be empress wielding the Inquisition like a blade, and the vengeance of the empire’s richest lord.

As the world narrows around her, and her enemies attack her through the system she has sworn to, Nona must find her own path despite the competing pull of friendship, revenge, ambition, and loyalty.

And in all this only one thing is certain.


There will be blood.

Grey Sister comes out in April.

Pre-order it in the US or UK. And mark it to-read on Goodreads!