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Posts Tagged ‘Grimdark’

Cover Launch: THE TOWER OF LIVING AND DYING by Anna Smith Spark

Anna Smith Spark brings even more murder, chaos, and violence to the forefront in the sequel to her brilliantly bloody debut novel, THE COURT OF BROKEN KNIVES. In THE TOWER OF LIVING AND DYING, we once again follow Marith on his quest for power. But now that he no longer fears death, there may be nothing to stop him. While you’re eagerly anticipating Anna’s next book, take a look at the incredible new cover:

Marith has been a sellsword, a prince, a murderer, a demon, and dead. But something keeps bringing him back to life, and now there is nothing stopping him from taking back the throne that is rightfully his.

Thalia, the former high priestess, remains Marith’s only tenuous grasp to whatever goodness he has left. His left hand and his last source of light, Thalia still believes that the power that lies within him can be used for better ends. But as more forces gather beneath Marith’s banner, she can feel her influence slipping.

Read the second book in this “gritty and glorious!” (Miles Cameron) epic fantasy series reminiscent of Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence where the exiled son of a king fights to reclaim his throne no matter the cost. 

Design by Lauren Panepinto; Art by Gene Mollica

Cover Launch: THE COURT OF BROKEN KNIVES by Anna Smith Spark

Prefer your fantasy with an extra helping of murder? Orbit’s got you covered with this brilliant and dark epic fantasy debut, THE COURT OF BROKEN KNIVES, the first book in the Empires of Dust trilogy. A young man’s thirst for power is only equaled by his thirst for blood in this first in a trilogy. Watch out for The Court of Broken Knives in eBook on June 27th and in paperback on August 15th.

The whispers follow him:

Marith has killed a dragon.

Marith has murdered a man.

Marith has felled an empire.

The only thing anyone knows for certain is that Marith will stop at nothing in his quest for the throne.

Praise for THE COURT OF BROKEN KNIVES

“Gritty and glorious! A great read.”

— Miles Cameron, author of The Traitor Son Cycle

“Fierce, gripping fantasy, exquisitely written; bitter, funny, and heart-rending by turns.”

— Adrian Tchaikovsky, Arthur C. Clarke Award winner for Children of Time

“Grim, gritty, and fast paced; with great battles scenes! Anna Smith-Spark is one to watch.”

— Andy Remic, author of the Blood Dragon Empire series

“Anna Smith-Spark writes in a unique voice with such pace and veracity your imagination has to struggle to keep up with your eyes.”

— Adrian Collins, Grimdark Magazine

“Captivating.”

— Marc Turner, author of the Chronicles of the Exile series

“Holy crap, this is good!”

Grim Tidings

“All hail the queen of grimdark fantasy!”

— Michael R. Fletcher, author of Beyond Redemption

Design by Lauren Panepinto. Illustration by Gene Mollica.

‘CONTEMPORARY AND AS GRIMDARK AS IT COMES’: Announcing New Books from Adrian Selby

We were thrilled last year to publish Adrian Selby’s fantasy debut SNAKEWOOD, which has received rave reviews for its razor-sharp action scenes, original worldbuilding and gripping plot. If you’ve not yet read this wonderfully gritty tale about a band of twenty mercenaries who are being assassinated one by one by an unknown enemy, then never fear: the paperback is out this week!

That’s not all – we’re delighted to announce that Orbit have acquired two new books from Adrian and his agent Jamie Cowen, both fantasy adventures set in the same world as SNAKEWOOD. Adrian took twenty years to write his debut tale of twenty mercenaries, but we won’t have to wait that long again – the second book will be out in 2018. We’re counting down the days already.

Adrian can be found online at his website and on Twitter.

Praise for SNAKEWOOD:

‘Contemporary and as grimdark as it comes’ British Fantasy Society

‘Perfect for fans of Joe Abercrombie’ RT Book Reviews

‘Absolutely fascinating and incredibly original’ Sense of Wonder

‘Relish the well-choreographed action scenes in this debut fantasy’ Library Journal

‘Wears its grimdark on its sleeve … a thrilling tale of adventure, betrayal, triumph and loss’ Interzone

‘A lot to enjoy, especially if you are a fan of dark, gritty, old-soldier stories’ Fantasy Faction

‘Demonstrates the command of style, character, plotting, and world building of a seasoned author’ Booklist

‘A fantasy novel that remembers that battles leave all kinds of scars’ B&N Science Fiction and Fantasy blog

‘I give it nothing but the highest recommendation’ Grimdark magazine

THE FIRST LAW TRILOGY COMES TO ORBIT!

THE FIRST LAW TRILOGY is being released this September from Orbit! This is the original grim dark trilogy that inspired a new generation of fantasy writers. We envy the readers who have yet to meet the infamous barbarian Logen Ninefingers, the dashing Captain Jezal dan Luthar, the wizard Bayaz and the sinister Inquisitor Glokta for the first time…

 Abercrombie_BladeItself-TP

Murderous conspiracies rise to the surface, old scores are ready to be settled, and the line between hero and villain is sharp enough to draw blood.

Abercrombie_BeforeHanged-TP

Ancient secrets will be uncovered. Bloody battles will be won and lost. Bitter enemies will be forgiven — but not before they are hanged.

Abercrombie_LastArgumentKings-TP

The king lies on his deathbed, the peasants revolt, and the nobles scramble to steal his crown. Only the First of the Magi can save the world, but there are risks. There is no risk more terrible, than to break the First Law…

“Bloody and relentless.” – George R. R. Martin

“Delightfully twisted and evil.” – The Guardian

“Heroic fantasy without conventional heroes…Full of cynicism and wit.” – RT Book Reviews

“Bold and authentically original.” – Jeff VanderMeer

“Compelling characters, a complex plot, and style to burn.” – Strange Horizons

“There is a gritty edge to his world and an awareness of the human cost of violence that is very contemporary.” – The Times

“Truly wonderful.” – Forbes

Cover design by Laura Brett

author post

When my first novel came out in 1988, SHEEPFARMER’S DAUGHTER (UK|ANZ), some readers commented favorably on its “gritty reality.”  People died in war, some gruesomely (one of a suppurating gut wound, a baby accidentally trampled, civilians made an example of by one or another mercenary force), and that included characters readers identified with as well as those they didn’t.  Later in that group of books, the protagonist suffered more wounds, unjust and cruel reactions as an aftermath of “treatment” for mental invasion, and torture.  Some readers were horrified that a woman would write such graphic violence; others admired an honest appraisal of the costs of both war and heroism.

“Some seem to believe that the good are just stupid, too stupid to realize that you have to be bad to survive”Yet the point of the story was not that war is hell, that people are capable of cruelty, that violence has unexpected costs that land unfairly on the innocent.  That’s common knowledge.  The point of the story was how people – as characters – deal with this reality.  How some become bitter, angry, resentful, and willingly participate in the cruelty.  How others do not, and instead work against the cruelty – sometimes violently and sometimes by choosing to stand with victims, without resisting. 

"LIMITS OF POWER is part of a series that challenges adults – not kids becoming adults – to change repeatedly, to become more than they were."Gritty reality has been associated, in some other writers’ works, with a determination to deny the possibility of glory – of redemption, of steadfast adherence to good, of achievement.  Some even seem to believe that the good are just stupid, too stupid to realize that you have to be bad to survive.  That’s not my perspective.  I’ve known too many good people who were also intelligent and street-smart, surviving well without knifing everyone else in the back.  I’ve known too many other people who used the “good = stupid” argument to defend their own cowardice and complicity in evil. 

“Some readers were horrified that a woman would write such graphic violence”Does good win easily?  Of course not.  Does good always win?  Of course not.  Does one battle win a war, or one war win anything forever?  Of course not.  But I stand on the side of those who think that good can win . . . if.  If what?  If those trying to make things better don’t give up, don’t sell out, don’t lose hope that their efforts are worthwhile.  If they learn enough about themselves to recognize where they are part of the problem . . . and then have the courage and will to change.  LIMITS OF POWER (UK|ANZ) is part of a series that challenges adults – not kids becoming adults – to change repeatedly, to become more than they were. Read the rest of this entry »

Scott Lynch & Matthew Stover on THE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES and ACTS OF CAINE

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, in an interview with Matthew Stover abotu his gritty heroic fantasy series Acts of CaineScott Lynch: volunteer firefighter, powerful Jedi, author of The Lies of Locke Lamora and the upcoming The Republic of Thieves, all round man of letters and certainly a Gentleman, not a Bastard . . . 

Heroes Die, book 1 in the the Acts of Cain gritty heroic fantasy series Acts of Caine, by Matthew Stover, in an interview with Scott Lynch about The Lies of Locke Lamora andRepublic of ThievesMatthew Stover: learned student of arcane martial arts, competitive drinker, author of the “heaping plate of kickass kickassery” that are the Acts of Caine fantasy novels . . . and also a very powerful Jedi . . .

SO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THESE MIGHTY FORCES COLLIDE?!

Read on to find out!

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, the follow-up to The Lies of Locke Lamora, in an interview with Matthew Stover abotu his gritty heroic fantasy series Acts of CaineMatthew Stover: Okay, first: how soon can I get an ARC of The Republic of Thieves?

Scott Lynch: Be down at Pier 36 at midnight. Look for a man with a copy of yesterday’s Beijing Times under his arm. Offer him a cigarette. If he declines, say “Which way was the dolphin swimming?” Then follow his directions precisely. Bring a flashlight and a set of hip waders. Good luck and godspeed.

MS: Despite the first Gentlemen Bastards novel being titled The Lies of Locke Lamora, it seems to me that Locke and Jean are dual protagonists, true partners rather than hero and sidekick. While this is not unusual in other genres (especially police procedurals, for example), in ours they’re pretty thin on the ground. The only truly legendary fantasy dual-protags that spring instantly to mind are Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser, and they are explicitly portrayed as linked by mythic destiny (“Two halves of a greater hero.”) Locke and Jean, by contrast, are bound by human friendship and deep loyalty – more Butch & Sundance than F&GM.

So I’d like to get your thoughts on what inspired their relationship, and why you chose to write them this way. Were they always to be dual protags? Did Jean start as a sidekick and grow in the writing? Is there something about their friendship that has Super Story Powers?

SL: You’re making me peer back through the hazy mists of memory, man. But the honest truth is that Jean was decidedly a less fleshed-out character, initially, very much vanishing into the ensemble. His role grew in the telling, until I realized that he wasn’t just a foil for Locke but the essential foil. I grasped the benefit of having a sort of external conscience for him, another intimate perspective on Locke that would enable me to sort of hover nearby without peeling back too many layers of his mentation. For all that he’s the protagonist, we don’t spend too much time with unfettered omniscient access to Locke’s thoughts in that first novel; I wanted to express his feelings more through his actions and the responses of those around him than by writing something like, “Locke was sad now.” Read the rest of this entry »

author post

Heroes Die, book 1 in the the Acts of Cain gritty heroic fantasy series Acts of Caine, by Matthew Stover, in a piece on martial arts called "I don't mind being punched in the face"The Good Folk at Orbit invited me to write another post for the site here, and my editor suggested I might touch on my experience as a student – and occasional instructor – of martial arts, and how that study has influenced my work, especially in the Acts of Caine.

People who enjoy my work often speak of how much they like the way my books depict personal combat – one prominent blogger memorably commented that “All of Stover’s heroic fantasies offer fight scenes of such crippling power that they risk hospitalizing incautious readers” – and many fans and reviewers attribute this to my (presumed) martial arts expertise. Which is true to a degree, though somewhat misleading. It does help – but perhaps not in the way you might expect.

For example, the arrow of causation points mostly in the other direction. I don’t do fight scenes because I love martial arts, I do martial arts because I love fight scenes.

And let’s be clear: what makes a fight scene good has very little to do with choreography. A good fight scene does everything a good scene of any type does: engages imagination, reveals character, advances plot and illuminates theme. There are, in my novels, a lot of fight scenes (‘cuz like I said, I love ‘em) and many of them do not involve characters most readers would recognize as highly-trained martial artists. Caine is one, yes, as are Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Mace Windu . . . but most of the rest involve characters with varying degrees of experience and natural aptitude trying like hell to get out of dire situations without getting killed.

Look:

I like hitting people. I also like kicking people, kneeing them, doing (potentially) crippling things to their joints as well as occasionally throwing them across a room, not to mention stabbing them with (rubber) knives and slashing them with (rattan stick) swords. This is not, it should be noted, actual combat. It’s recreation. All in good fun, and when it’s done properly, no serious injuries occur.

Also look:

I often write about people who like these things I like, except many of these people are missing an essential circuit-breaker in their brains. These are people who are bored by the merely recreational. Who only take it seriously if someone’s life is on the line. Who have made violence not only their profession, but their lifestyle. Some are mercenaries, some are jihadists, some are psychopaths. At least one is a performance artist. None of these categories are, you will note, mutually exclusive. Read the rest of this entry »

John Scalzi interviews Matthew Stover about the ACTS OF CAINE

Since we heard that the illustrious John Scalzi was a super-mega-fan of the Acts of Caine novels by Matthew Stover, (which starts with HEROES DIE), we asked him if he wanted to interview Matthew  . . .

Heroes Dies, Book 1 in the gritty heroic fantasy series the Acts of Caine novels by Matthew Stover - interviewed here by John ScalziWhen I was told that Orbit Books was releasing the entire Acts of Caine series in the UK, I let out a cheer. I am, unapologetically, a huge fan of this series of books, full as they are of action, adventure and grippingly written violence – along with classic dystopian themes, observantly written (and massively, compellingly flawed) characters, and world-building I’m jealous of as a writer even as I’m impressed with it as a reader. This is the series that put its author Matthew Stover on my map as someone whose books I had to read, no matter what he was writing.

Orbit asked me if I wanted to interview him on the occasion of the release of his books. Yes. Yes I did. Here it is.

John Scalzi: Heroes Die, the first book in the Caine series, in many ways presaged the current wave of “grimdark” fantasy – those works with lots of unapologetic action and violence threaded into their tales. At the time you were writing the book, were you aware you were slashing a new path through that particular jungle? Or were you just focused on writing a story you wanted to tell?

Matthew Stover: I wasn’t trying to do something new. I was only trying to do something good.

I started writing the story that eventually became Heroes Die when I was seventeen. A variety of versions were submitted to, and summarily rejected by, a variety of publishers over the course of the next eighteen years. I tried every approach I could think of to make the story appealing to editors, but nothing worked. Finally – in despair – I said to myself, “Screw this sh*t. If it’s going to fail anyway, write the goddamn thing exactly how you want it to be. At least you’ll have that.”  So I did. And here we are.

This is why my first advice to younger writers is to write the book you wish somebody else would write so you could read it.

 

JS: You also, and very unusually, have created a series of books that are both science fiction and fantasy, as opposed to choosing to be on one side of that (in my opinion, often arbitrary) line. For me as a reader, that felt almost revolutionary – not in an excessive “have your cake and eat it too” sort of way, but in that it allows you to world-build two separate but vital universes, and build stories in the tension between the two. But from the practical point of view as a writer – well, it’s a lot of work. Talk a little about your world-building strategies and why it was you chose to straddle the two genres in this series – and the challenges you have in making sure the two universes are balanced in service to the story.

MS: It has been a lot of work. But, y’know, I wrote these four books over the course of about fifteen years, which leaves plenty of time for things to develop more-or-less organically. Much of the world-building is a by-product of thinking about other stories I might want to tell in that milieu – even if I never write the stories, their background features remain.

I chose the dual-world structure because one of the themes that seem to underlie all my original work has to do with the role of imagination in creating our experience of reality. When I was a kid, I was very taken with de Camp and Pratt’s Harold Shea stories – psychologists who find a way to transport themselves into mythical (later, outright fictional) realms through some hand-waving involving symbolic logic. These stories make crystal clear the fact (bleedingly obvious, in retrospect) that fantasy is the map of human psychology. I wanted a Real World to contrast with the Fantasy World, but I wanted the Fantasy World to be real too. After all, dreams are themselves real things, even though the experiences we have in them are products of our own imaginations (pacé various mystical traditions).

And I didn’t really choose to combine two genres, because I don’t believe they’re really separate. Science fiction is a subset of fantasy (as is all literature, after all). Heinlein wrote stories with magic in them. So did Larry Niven. And Poul Anderson. Fritz Leiber wrote some straight SF. I write stories that have (some) science and (some) social extrapolation in them. And magic too. Though I usually tell people I’m a science fiction writer, because when I tell them I write fantasy, I have to endure some variation of the following conversation:

“Really? Like Lord of the Rings?”

“No, not like Lord of the Rings.”

“Like Harry Potter, then.”

“No, like Star Wars.”

“But Star Wars is science fiction.”

“Look, what do you call it when a young knight is given his father’s magic sword by an old wizard and then sent off on a quest to defeat the Dark Lord?”

“I call it fantasy.”

“No, you call it Star Wars, Einstein. Now shut up before I unscrew your head and drop-kick it into a parallel dimension.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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