Steven Brust’s Jhegaala

Friday, December 4th, 2009 | Posted by Bill Ward

Steven Brust
Tor (300 pages, $24.95, July 2008)
Reviewed by Bill Ward

The world of epic fantasy has its Martins, Jordans, and Eriksons, writers at the helm of long-running series with massively convoluted plots and hundreds of characters — and, quite often, no end in sight. But when compared to Steven Brust’s Taltos novels, which debuted in 1983, these long-running epics are Johnny-come-latelys, part of a newer way of packaging fantasy fiction that began with Robert Jordan in the early nineties and shows no signs of abating. Jhegaala is the eleventh book chronicling the adventures of the clever and cynical rogue Vlad Taltos, a character whom Brust has been writing about for twenty-five years in a series that hearkens back to an earlier mode of serial fantasy, the episodic sword and sorcery tale.

Which means, unlike with epic fantasy, a reader can pick up a book in the middle of Brust’s series and not have to worry about needing a wealth of prior plot and exposition to understand it. Jhegaala is perhaps an even better example of this than some of Brust’s prior books, as it takes place completely out-of-context chronologically and geographically with the rest of the series. Vlad, on the run from his own House and exiled from his home city of Adrilankha, travels to his ancestral homeland in the East. There, among his own kind in the town of Burz, he stumbles into the paranoid world of local powers, and begins to unravel a mystery that involves a pervasive guild, a coven of witches, and the ruler of the region himself.

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Short Fiction Beat, Shameless Self Promotion Division

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009 | Posted by Soyka

cover4Steampunk Tales offers an interesting convergence of the new and old,  a pulp magazine for the iPhone (don’t worry, non-Apple heads, there’s also a downloadable PDF version). Volume 4  features ten stories:

“Convergence Culture, Pt. 2” by C.B. Harvey
“The Brass Pedestal” by Natania Barron
“The Gods of War” by Arkwright
“Miluth” by Alison Boyd
“Stormada, Pt. 3” by SatyrPhil Brucato
“An Unfortunate Engagement, Pt. 6” by G. D. Falksen
“Sideways” by Andrew Singleton
“The Choice for Cibyl” by David Soyka
“The Steam Mapper” by Clark Sumner Edwards
“The Juggernaut” by Rajan Khanna

And, yes that Soyka fellow happens to be directly related to me in the most direct way possible. But, check the issue out, anyway.

The Graphic Versions of “Pigeons fron Hell”

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

Continuing my graphic novel coverage of earlier posts. . . .

Once upon a time, the Louisiana region known as Acadiana was home to many magnificent plantations . . . but time changed that.

In August, I wrote an article about Robert E. Howard’s southern horror tale, “Pigeons from Hell,” my personal favorite work from the seminal fantasy author. That post contains a full spoiler-filled discussion of the plot, so I won’t recap it here. Although “Pigeons from Hell” has nowhere near the fame of Howard’s sword-and-sorcery work, it has leaped into the comics medium not once but twice . . . and in two completely different ways. On one side is a straightforward rendition, capturing most of what makes the story so powerful. On the other side is a modernization and adaptation that tries new tricks with the same story structure.

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