Orbit Loot

Orbit Books

Join the Orbit Newsletter

Posts Tagged ‘Gritty fantasy’

Acquisition announcement: THE GREY BASTARDS by Jonathan French

Jonathan French, author of gritty fantasy The Grey Bastards

Orbit UK has acquired rights to The Grey Bastards plus a sequel by US author Jonathan French.

It’s a wild and gritty epic fantasy debut that invites you to enter the world of orcs and half-orcs – as you’ve never seen them before . . .

You might have heard of The Grey Bastards because it won Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2016 – meaning that a panel of ten top fantasy bloggers picked it as the winner out of hundreds of entries. And this win was thoroughly deserved . . . This fantasy debut is brimming with raucous energy.

It’s the story of Jackal – who is proud to be a Grey Bastard, a member of a sworn brotherhood of half-orcs. Unloved and unwanted in civilized society, the Bastards eke out a hard life in the desolate no-man’s-land called the Lots, protecting frail and noble human civilization from invading bands of vicious full-blooded orcs . . .

Jonathan’s voice stood out to us as one of the freshest we’ve read in years. The story overflows with crisp dialogue, blood-soaked action, an entertaining sardonic voice and a wonderfully compelling cast of characters. It’s an irresistible action tale that will thrill readers of fantasy such as Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, Stan Nicholl’s Orcs series and Markus Heitz’s Dwarves series.

And just look at the whole host of amazing reviews it’s already received!

‘Frankly excellent’ ~ Mark Lawrence, bestselling author of Prince of Thorns

The Grey Bastards dragged me in immediately. A bloody good tale of battles, intrigue, betrayal, duty and war pigs’ ~ Brian McClellan, author of Promise of Blood

‘A gritty adventure with a fantastic, foul-mouthed voice and filthy, lovable characters in a wonderfully original world of half-orcs on giant hogs.  Fans of Abercrombie’s The First Law or the soldierly banter of Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen will like this a lot’ ~ Django Wexler

‘Jonathan French has to be lauded for his plot ingenuity, bawdy charm and vicious characters. The Grey Bastards has instantaneously catapulted him into my must-read list’ ~Fantasy Book Critic

‘I’d like to raise a tankard to The Grey Bastards’ brilliance’ ~ Fantasy Faction

‘I f*cking loved this book. The Grey Bastards went down like a shot of good top-shelf tequila: warm and smooth, but with one hell of a spicy kick’ ~ Bibliosanctum

These guys were all pretty darn excited about the half-orcs, and dammit – you should be too. Look out for The Grey Bastards in June 2018.

And as the Bastards say, LIVE IN THE SADDLE, DIE ON THE HOG!

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 »

author post

“It is the greatest gift of my people, that we can bring our dreams to life for other eyes. Fantasy is a tool; like any other tool, it may be used poorly or well. At its best, fantasy reveals truths that cannot be shown any other way.”

–        Sören Kristiaan Hansen, aka Deliann Mithondionne, the Changeling Prince (BLADE OF TYSHALLE, book two of the Acts of Caine)

A few years before I was born, an American journalist named Edward R. Murrow hosted a program on the CBS Radio Network called This I Believe. Each episode only lasted five minutes, of which three and a half were given over to an essay by a different contributor, each speaking about the specific personal convictions that they felt gave their lives meaning. In the generally terrifying atmosphere of the early Cold War, this program was the closest the 1950s ever got to a viral video. It was the most listened-to English-language program in history at that time, and it spawned books, and records, and other radio programs – some of which continue to this day.

Heroes Die, book one of the Acts of Caine novels - a gritty action fantasy series by Matthew Stover, endorsed by Scott Lynch and perfect for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, Brent Weeks and Assassin's CreedWhen the good folk at Orbit decided to pick up my Acts of Caine novels, they asked me to contribute a blog-post-slash-promotional-essay or two for their website. I dislike writing about myself in any kind of biographical sense; if I thought that where I was born, my family, education, hobbies and pets and private life generally were any of your business, I’d write memoirs, not heroic fantasy.

I also have very little interest in commenting on my stories. My comments are the stories. Now – despite my dislike – I’ve done both of these things, and reasonably often, because that’s what people keep telling me I have to do to promote my books. The Good Folk, however, gave me license to write whatever I want.

I want to write about what I believe.

Most of what follows will be about story, because I make stories the same way I breathe: even to pause requires an act of will, and if I ever stop, it’s because I’m dead.

So… This I believe:

 

Not all honest writing is good, but all good writing is honest.

 

What’s not said is as important as what is. Often more important. Most of the trick to writing is knowing what to leave out.

 

It’s easier to make people cry if you’ve already made them laugh. And vice versa.

 

Whatever a story’s other virtues, if it’s not entertaining you, you’re wasting your time. A story is only great if it’s great for you. Personally.

 

What any work of art means depends on who you are when you look at it. What you get out of a book depends on what you bring to it. A book is only marks on a page (or pixels on a screen). The story is what happens in your imagination as you scan those marks. Books aren’t deep. Some readers are.

  Read the rest of this entry »

Presenting: Matthew Stover’s ACTS OF CAINE novels

One of the most highly regarded fantasy series EVER is finally coming to the UK.

Presenting a gritty action fantasy series like no other. Welcome to the world of Caine: Assassin. Hero. Superstar. . .

Heroes Die, Blade of Tyshalle, Caine Black Knife and Caine's Law - the four novels int he Acts of Caine gritty fantasy series by Matthew Stover - a favourite of Scott Lynch and John Scalzi

Several huge names in the fantasy world have been shouting from the rooftops about the sheer brilliance of this series by New York Times bestselling author Matthew Stover. Par exemple:

SCOTT LYNCH says:

‘Oh, you fortunate people. HEROES DIE and BLADE OF TYSHALLE directly informed the writing of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA . . . I’d dare say they were what taught me how to craft a novel. Matt is criminally underrated, and these books are bog standard for him, which is to say ‘brilliant.’ They’re bold, startling, multi-layered, humane, and laugh-out-loud wonderful at frequent intervals . . .

. . . A gritty, bloody, deeply touching work of genius’

JOHN SCALZI says:

‘A heaping plate of kickass kickassery with a side of kickass sauce . . .

If you are a fan of the meaty, bloody but smart fantasy of which authors like Joe Abercrombie and Richard K. Morgan currently traffic, you really do owe it to yourself to check out the whole Caine series . . . I doubt very seriously you will be disappointed, and if you are, well, I don’t know what to do with you, except maybe wonder if your brain chemistry is off in some unique and disturbing way. But I’m willing to bet your brain is fine and you’re going to eat this stuff up.

So: fans of  fantasy, this is my recommendation. Get this one. Get them all’

FELICIA DAY says:

‘Talk about a dark anti-hero. Talk about a cool alt-SF/Fantasy world. Talk about some violent assholes who populate BOTH universes. I mean Hari is one of the biggest badasses I’ve read in a LONG time. Seriously flawed, very nihilistic world/WORLDS really he’s involved in. And yet, his journey is so full of emotion, you root for him every step of the way. This is an Alpha male you can get behind. Damn. Hot damn.

Don’t read if you don’t like profanity, unlikeable characters and awesome fight scenes. :D

THIS WAS FANTASTIC! . . . If you like really really gritty, dark fantasy like George RR Martin, Richard Morgan (Takashi Kovaks books) or ESPECIALLY Joe Abercrombie, you should get this book’

Not convinced yet? What’s wrong with you?!

All four books in the Acts of Caine series – HEROES DIE, BLADE OF TYSHALLE, CAINE BLACK KNIFE and CAINE’S LAW – will be released digitally in the UK & ANZ on 27th May 2013.

Pre-order now for a special introductory price on book one, HEROES DIE.

RSS Feeds
Orbit on the Web
Archives
Blogroll

Please note that though we make every effort to ensure the suitability of links, Orbit cannot be held responsible for the content of external sites.