New York Times Bestsellers (March 29th)

Here are this week's NYT bestsellers in the fantasy and science fiction genres. Once again, there are no paperbacks to account for.

Orson Scott Card's Shadow of the Giant drops three spots, ending the week at number 14. It's the book's second week on the prestigious list.

Terry Goodkind's Chainfire drops 4 spots, positioning itself at number 28. Hard to believe that this latest Sword of Truth installment has spent the last 14 weeks on the list.

Luceno's Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil hangs on, up one spot from last week, at number 26. It's been on the NYT list for 8 weeks.


Most of you are aware that I seldom stray from the fantasy genre, at least when it comes to reading for pleasure. I do, from time to time, enjoy reading material on politics, ancient history, mythology, traveling, Law, etc. But when I wish to sit down and read for my own enjoyment, with a steaming cup of coffee beside me, it is more often than not with a fantasy book, or an occasional science fiction novel.

But there are times when the buzz generated by some authors outside those genres becomes such that it is well nigh impossible to ignore it. Such was the case last year with Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code. It reached a certain point where I could not not read it. Hence, I read Brown's four novels and found them all quite entertaining.

Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver represents another such rare foray for me outside of the fantasy genre. This book has engendered such a vast number of rave reviews that I had to give in and finally give it a chance. And I was rewarded with a fantastic read!:-)

I would love to give you a general idea of the story, but I'm afraid that the 900+ pages which comprise this "slender" volume make it impossible to put it in a nutshell. As one review claims, «this one will defy any category, genre, precedent, or label.» Simply put, Neil Stephenson's Quicksilver is in a class of its own.

The scope of Stephenson's undertaking is staggering. To proclaim that it is an ambitous project would be insulting. The amount of research that undoubtedly went into the creation of this historical epic makes me shake my head in wonder.

What is it about? Hmmm, truth be told, it would be impossible to tell in a way that would do justice to the novel. It is about politics: the 1600s were a time or turmoil all over Europe, with many wars, revolutions, and other conflicts. It is astonishingly remarkable to see how the author depicts this era in such a richly detailed fashion. It is about history: Quicksilver contains more historical figures than most history books. It is about religion: Catholicism and Protestantism clashing all over the continent. It is about scientific breakthroughs: Newton, Hooke, Wren, Huygens, Leibniz, Locke, and so many others are part of the tale. You might have to consult or another encyclopedia in order to keep track of everyone. Another one of Stephenson's tour de force is that the fine line between fact and fiction is seamless.

To say that Quicksilver is brilliant would be like stating that Harvard and Oxford are good universities. It goes beyond that. Yes, it is a dense and erudite yarn. It is also an enthralling adventure, clever and at times hilarious.
Stephenson possesses a witty sense of humor which gives this book a brazen, sometimes irreverent feel. It is so refreshing, and keeps you turning to pages to find out what happens next.

Having said all that, I don't believe that Quicksilver is as accessible as Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Enough research went into this creation to make it a scholarly work. Hence, I believe that one must at least have basic notions of that historical period, as well as an inkling of those religious conflicts, in order to truly appreciate this novel at its just value.

The characterizations are of the first order. And Stephenson's wit makes their POVs bring smirks to your lips, when you don't laugh out loud. Jack Shaftoe, "Half-Cocked Jack" (no pun intended!), brings a lot of humor, tempering the serious side of this ambitious epic with interludes of pure fun!

So by all means plunge into this historical saga. This is the sort of series that people will still be talking about in a decade. Follow the adventures of Daniel Waterhouse, thinker and Puritan, seeking knowledge among the greatest European minds of that era. Follow Jack Shaftoe's misadventures, which more or less begin when he rescues Eliza from a Turkish Harem in Vienna. And follow Eliza's own adventures, as she becomes a spy and an agent for and against the most powerful rulers and nobles of Europe.

As I mentioned before, Quicksilver is not for everyone. But love it or hate it, this book remains one thing: a work of pure genius. I will eagerly read its sequel, The Confusion. Hopefully it will live up to the hype and the standards set by its predecessor.

I would also like to use this opportunity to thank the good people at HarperCollins for graciously supplying it me with review copies of The Confusion, The System of the World, as well as a number of other books I had asked for. Many thanks to you!

I know that Quicksilver is in many people's "books to read" pile. If that is the case, please move it to the top of the pile. For everyone else, this one should be added to your "books to buy" list!;-)

The final verdict: 8.5/10

Hostels around Europe

Given the fact that the previous two travel-related articles were so well-received, I've decided to address the topic which appears to be on so many people's minds when they discuss backpacking around Europe with me.

The expression "youth hostel" makes a majority of travelers apprehensive. The images it conjures up are not particularly pleasant. Which is the reason why I was more than a little reticent to book a bed in such an establishment.

Two years ago, after 3 years spent touring around Europe in 2 or 3-star hotels, with the occasional 4 or 5-star hotel, I finally garnered the courage to make a reservation at two different hostels in France and Spain. What I realized was that, as is the case with hotels, good research will almost always enable you to find an establishment where the price/quality ratio is excellent.

Last year, during a sojourn of nearly 4 months around Western and Eastern Europe, I made reservations in hostels in every city but Bratislava, in Slovakia.

Here is a list of all the hostels I have stayed at, as well as my rating of each. May it help you select a place to stay if you are planning your own European adventure!;-)

PARIS: Auberge internationale des jeunes: A good, clean hostel near Place de la Bastille. Nothing special in itself, other than being the cheapest place to stay in the City of Lights. Close to the métro, the bars, a Monoprix, a McD, and plenty of other cheap eats. Probably the best value in Paris, as far as hostels go.

MADRID: Los Amigos Hostel: A two-minute walk from the Palacio Real and the Teatro Real, it is a nice hostel. Colorful rooms, but absolutely no air circulation. Hence, I spent one of the worst nights of my life there, when temperatures reached 40 degrees celsius one day. . .

COPENHAGEN: City Public Hostel: Not a year-round hostel, but some sort of youth center. Nothing much, but the only place this affordable in central Copenhagen. Within walking distance of the train station. Avoid the 72-bed dormitory like the plague. . .

BERLIN: The Circus: The BEST hostel in the world. Clean, hip, stylish (everything comes from IKEA or Fly), with helpful and friendly staff, with its own café, bar, and many more amenities. The only place to consider if you are traveling to Berlin. . .

BRUSSELS: Sleep Well: Central and relatively modern, with all the amenities; a very good establishment not far from the Gare du Nord. It has a giant screen room.

AMSTERDAM: City Hostel Vondelpark: Clean and modern, a good bet in this city. The only problem is that it's one of the biggest hostel in Europe, with 475 beds. So it gets quite crowded, especially since it's an HI affiliate.

BRUGES: Snuffel Sleep In: Nice rooms, friendly and helpful staff, as well as a kitchen for guests. Close to the Markt, it's an excellent choice.

LUXEMBOURG CITY: HI Hostel: Newly-renovated, state-of-the-art amenities, clean. This hostel is in a splendid setting.

LYON: Auberge de jeunesse du Vieux Lyon: Nice enough hostel, even though the location is not easy to reach, other than by taxi. The effeminate barkeep will bring tears to your eyes when "I will survive" is on. And he is in control of the music. . .

GENEVA: City Hostel: In a charmless neighborhood near the train station. Offers the best price/quality ratio in town. Within walking distance of many attractions. Has all the amenities, including a kitchen for guests.

LAUSANNE: Lausanne Guesthouse: Within walking distance of the train station, this is probably one of the most beautiful hostels in the world. Built in an elegant townhouse, with its own garden and kitchen, spotless environment, this is a perfect place!

LUCERNE: Backpackers Lucerne: A few minutes from the train station, it is located on the lakefront. Situated in a peaceful neighborhood (it is actually a student house), a very good choice.

INTERLAKEN: Balmer's Herberge: If you have been backpacking, or if you are planning to, then you have obviously heard about this place. Like the Pink Palace if Corfu, it is known the world over. This place has a frat party atmosphere, which is cool at the beginning but gets old real fast. Although I had fun at the start of my stay, after 5 nights I couldn't wait to leave this place.

ZURICH: City Backpackers: Smack down in the middle of Zurich's "Fun Mile," this is a nice enough hostel. With its own rooftop area, where you can hang out!

MUNICH: Euro Youth Hotel: Near the train station, this is a very good establishment. One of the best hostels in Europe. Big rooms, all the amenities but a kitchen. . .

INNSBRUCK: Jugendherberge St Nikolaus: Great location, relatively good price, but more than a little soulless. But one seldom remains in Innsbruck for long, so it's not that bad. . .

SALZBURG: International Youth Hotel: Big, modern, friendly, rowdy, and centrally located. The best possible choice in this charming city.

VIENNA: Wombat's: Within walking distance of the main train station. Has everything one could hope for, from giant screen to outside terrasse, making it one of the best hostels in Europe.

BUDAPEST: Station Guesthouse: Unequivocally the worst hostel I have stayed at. With graffitis everywhere, and stoned staff, this place is certainly not for every one. To put it simply, it is a dump. But there is a free pool table. Situated in a dead neighborhood. You can still find nuggets of wisdom written on the walls, such as "Don't look up here. The joke is in your hands." in the boys room!!!

PRAGUE: Hostel Elf: Cheap, fun, colorful, with a very friendly vibe all around, this is a cool hostel. An outside terrasse is the best place to have a cold pilsner and meet new people! Free internet access and a kitchen.

LONDON: International Student House: Cheapest place in all of London, making this one quite popular. As the name implies, it is a student house, which means that the number of beds are limited. No vide, though, and little fun to be had. But with all the money you'll be saving, it's all good!

Remember, the best way to find nice hostels with good value is to first peruse a Lonely Planet Guide. Select those which appears to be what you are looking for, and then check on the internet to find out more. See how the hostels are rated, etc. It will make the process of selection where you wish to book a bed much more easier.:-)

If you have any questions, as always feel free to ask! And to all those who are currently planning an adventure, have a wonderful trip!!!

Accepting questions for a L. E. Modesitt, jr. interview

Hi there!

I am pleased to announce that I have secured an interview with Mr. Modesitt. He was gracious enough to accept, so now it is up to all of us to make it happen!:-) As was the case with the Tad Williams interview, I will be accepting questions from everyone. As always, the most interesting will comprise the interview.

I will post a notice on all my regular message boards. Feel free to leave your questions here or on the message board of your choice!;-)

Hope to hear from you soon!!!

Best Fantasy Series of All Time

Well, here we are! The votes have been compiled and we now have our list. Instead of just doing a Top 5 and include the 5 runner-ups, I've decided to compile a Top 15. Acting thus, we have a broader range of series, giving readers an idea of the diversity of people's tastes.

Nearly 80 different fantasy series or sagas were submitted. As I did with the last poll, every first place vote was worth 5 points, each second place vote was worth 4 points, and so on. The final number of points determined each series' position.

Again, I would like to thanks the usual suspects:,,,,,,, as well as a number of other internet fantasy communities. You are the ones who bring all the fun into this!;-)

So here is our little list. Once more, I encourage people to comment, keeping in mind that this list is based on our votes!:-)


1- Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
2- A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
3- The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
4- The Farseer/The Tawny Man by Robin Hobb
5- Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams
6- Malazan Books of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
7- The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson
8- The Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist
9- The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson
10- Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
11- The Dark Tower by Stephen King
12- Discworld by Terry Pratchett
13- The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolf
14- The Belgariad by David Eddings
15- The Sarantine Mosaic by Guy Gavriel Kay / The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb / The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay

Personally, I find it quite surprising and interesting to find Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire at number 2, given the fact that this author only has 3 yarns under his belt pertaining to this series. I'm not saying it doesn't deserve to be ranked this high. Martin and Hobb are loved by readers lurking on every message board, which explains their high rankings. Once more, only Tolkien had more votes than they did.

Erikson's position is also surprising. But it may also be an indication that this writer might be the next big thing to hit the fantasy genre.

I have to admit that I did not expect to see Harry Potter in the Top 10. But again, it shows how J. K. Rowling's tale transcends the genres and age groups! And that is a very good thing, for readers of all ages!

Some honorable mentions for series which did not make the list: Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, The Coldfire Trilogy by C. S. Friedman, The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, Mordant's Need by Stephen R. Donaldson, and the Shannara saga by Terry Brooks.

In the same vein, here is an interesting link to a list of 101 things to read in the science fiction and Fantasy genres. Copy and paste this one in your browser:

Here is our list of nominees. . .

The final verdict will be announced either tomorrow or Saturday. But since of you asked, here is our list of nominees. In order to become a nominee, each series needed to receive a minimum of three votes.

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Dark Tower by Stephen King
The Deathgate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelany
The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
The Belgariad by David Eddings
The Coldfire Trilogy by C. S Friedman
The Shannara Saga by Terry Brooks
Otherland by Tad Williams
The Runelords by David Farland
The Eternal Champion by Michael Moorcock
The Wars of Light and Shadow by Janny Wurts
Malazan Books of the Fallen by Steven Erickson
The Farseer/Tawny Man Saga by Robin Hobb
The Riftwar by Raymond E. Feist
The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson
The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Crown of Stars by Kate Elliott
Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Kushiel's Legacy by Jacqueline Carey
Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams
Mordant's Need by Stephen R. Donaldson
The Sarantine Mosaic by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolf
Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb
Discworld by Terry Pratchett

I'm still accepting votes till midnight tonight, so technically new nominees could be added to the list. . .

Stay tuned for the results!!!

New York Times Bestsellers (March 22nd)

Here are the New York Times bestsellers for this last week in hardcover. Still no paperbacks to account for.

Orson Scott Card's Shadow of the Giant drops down to number 11. It has been on the list for 2 weeks now.

Terry Goodkind's Chainfire finishes the week at number 24, down 6 spots from last week. This latest Sword of Truth novel has now spent 13 weeks on the list.

Luceno's Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil drops down to number 27, down 2 spots from last week. The book has remained on the list for 7 weeks now.

New Poll!!!

Hi guys!

Well, since the last 2 polls were extremely popular, and since I've been asked when the next survey would be held ever since results of the last one were announced, I've decided to give it another go!;-)

Again, this poll will be held here, but also in other internet communities, making the whole process much more interesting.

So this one will determine what are your Top 5 All-Time Favourite Fantasy Series. The last time around, it was about "ongoing" series. This time, everything goes!;-)

The results will be tallied the same way the last Top 5 was compiled. Let's see what we come up with. I'll probably post the results at the end of the week...

Feel free to vote here or on your regular message boards.

The Vatican vs The Da Vinci Code

Earlier this week, speaking for the Vatican, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone exhorted Catholics around the globe not to buy nor read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. This archbishop, one of the Pope's possible successors, is also one of the guardians of the purity of the Catholic Doctrine. Whatever that means. . .

I'm a bit surprised by the tardiness of this intervention, coming more than 2 years following the novel's original release. By breaking the silence now, the Vatican demonstrated once again how they are dramatically slow to act. And to claim that they have done so now because they have become aware that the book circulates among students and young people around the world. Heck, with 20 millions copies sold, I would think that people of all ages are reading it.

More shocking is the fact that they have added a novel to the index!!! A novel, for God's sake!!! No pun intended. . .;-) There is a line between fact and fiction. The Da Vinci Code contains no satanic verses. It just an extremely good page-turning book, which contains a number of theories that are decades and centuries old. Dan Brown did not invent anything. He has brilliantly utilized existing theories and put them within the context of a darn good story. Which is why the book is so popular the world over.

Thought-provoking, yes. Fascinating and absorbing, definitely. Richly detailed and well-written, no doubt. A work that should be added to the infamous index??? No way. . . Of course, I am acutely aware that should the theories contained within The Da Vinci Code ever be proven, it would shake the Catholic Church and the Curia to the core of their foundations. But Dan Brown's book is a work of fiction. Nothin more, nothing less. . .

For several decades, high and low church officials have been wondering why such a large number of faithful have turned their backs on Catholicism. Could this be a case of voluntary blindness, I wonder?

1700 hits in the last month!

Funny how what was supposed to be en experiment turned out to be something a lot more successful than I ever would have believed possible!;-) When I created this weblog, my only hope was to one day have about 50 readers with whom I could share my passion of the fantasy genre. . .

Well, a little more than 2 months later, with thousands of visits, after being recognized as an official book reviewer by 2 publishers, and with a following that's growing every week, it is incredible to even think about the interest this blog has generated.:-) And for that, I have you, the readers, to thank!

So very special thanks to the following internet communities, from which a vast portion of my traffic comes from. Check them out, for all are comprised by very interesting and knowledgeable fantasy readers: (Robert Jordan) (Tad Williams) (Robin Hobb) (Raymond E. Feist) (Stephen R. Donaldson) (Guy Gavriel Kay)

Special thanks also to Gryphonwood Press for giving me my first gig:

And special thanks for Worlds of Fantasy for giving me my second gig:

Well, we've come a long way in a few short weeks. A number of book reviews and articles later, with interviews with David B. Coe and Tad Williams along the way, this thing has reached proportions that I had never envisioned!:-)

Thank you for tuning in, guys! And please feel free to comment on all reviews and articles. The fun thing about having an audience is to have the opportunity to interact with them. Every post is "comment enabled," so please don't hesitate to let me know your thoughts.

I have readers from all 5 continents, which is the greatest thing in the world to me. Readers from so many countries that it overwhelms me! So please feel free to drop me a note and let me know what you think of this joint!;-) I'll be happy to hear from you all!

Stay tuned for more! The next book review will be on Neil Stephenson's Quicksilver. . .

This week's New York Times Bestsellers

In hardcover:

Orsont Scott Card's Shadow of the Giant debuts at number 10.

Terry Goodkind's Chainfire drops 5 spots to number 18. This latest Sword of Truth offering has remained on the list for 12 weeks.

Luceno's Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil is at number 25, down 4 spots from last week. It's been on the list for 6 weeks now.

On another note, J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince remains at number 1 on all 3 Amazon lists.

Nothing to report in paperback. . .

The Silences of Home

Since it's tax time again, I wanted to read something that wouldn't require me to take any notes. Since I will be reading Neil Stephenson's Quicksilver next, I just wanted a stand-alone novel that would get me through the next couple of days.

When Penguin Books recognized me as an official reviewer, they sent me the Bakker books I asked for, but they also included Caitlin Sweet's The Silences of Home. The blurb states that the book explores the gulf between official and unwritten accounts of history, and the ways in which individuals, knowingly or not, shape the events of their time. It sounded somewhat interesting, so what the heck? I'm unfamiliar with Sweet's work, so I checked out to see what else she did. Her first novel, A Telling of Stars, appears to have been well-received, even though it's not popular. Which, in the end, persuaded me to give this book a chance.

Unfortunately, The Silences of Home doesn't deliver at all, basically on every level. So much so that I didn't even finish the novel. I went as far as page 318, and I was forced to abdicate. I can count on the fingers of my hands how many books I have not been able to go through in my life, so this is not something that occurs very often. Indeed, the last book I failed to finish was Weis and Hickman's Well of Darkness.

The first point that needs to be made is that this novel should be considered a "Young Adults" book. Something for people who are a bit unfamiliar with the fantasy genre, who have yet to read the "powerhouses" such as Jordan, Kay, Donaldson, Williams, etc. I don't believe that any well-read person could get into this one.
According to the blurb, Sweet's latest is «a saga of epic sweep.» Honestly, this novel has about as much depth as a Forgotten Realms book. The transitions are very awkward, and the entire tale doesn't flow quite right.

The Silences of Home is also a saga of «deeply realized characters.» Please, if there is one three-dimensional character in this book, someone point him out to me.

The novel is also, still according to the blurb, a saga of «page-turning suspense.» Unless that incredible suspense takes place in the last 150 pages or so, I cannot say that I encountered it.

This book is definitely for a younger, inexperienced crowd of fantasy readers. If I had read it when I was 14 or 15, maybe I would have enjoyed it. Now at 30 years of age, with nearly 1500 books read, there is no way I could ever be captivated by this one.

I will certainly donate it to a library. . .

Tad Williams Interview

As promised, here is an excerpt from the Tad Williams interview I did for the summer issue of Gryphonwood Press. The questions were selected from those that were submitted to me by readers. So here is a little sample of what the interview looks like.

Enjoy!;-) And stay tuned for more!!!


Tad Williams Interview

What would you say was the hardest part of the entire process involved in the writing of both Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and Otherland? Where did you get the initial idea that drove you to create both series in the first place?

The hardest part of any long-story process is staying as excited as you were when you began. This often means new characters, plot-twists, all kinds of things that keep you interested and creative as a writer and (one hopes) have the same sort of effect on the readers.

OTHERLAND came from me actually working with VR, and getting interested not just in the thing itself, but where it might go in time. That coupled with my love of story-telling made for an immediate creative buzz, and the story evolved from there. MS&T had a more complicated derivation, but sprung up in part because I had read so much BAD post-Tolkienian epic fantasy, yet still had a fondness for the genre, and said, "Okay, so put your money where your mouth is. Write one yourself."

What authors have had the biggest influence on you?

Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Thomas Pynchon, John Updike, Theodore Sturgeon, Fritz Leiber, Barbara Tuchman, Ursula LeGuin, Charles Dickens, Michael Moorcock, Kurt Vonnegut, Phillip K. Dick, to name a few. Oh, T. H. White, of course. P. G. Wodehouse. Anthony Burgess and Harlan Ellisoni. Evelyn Waugh. Terry Southern. Hunter S. Thompson.

What lesser known fantasy/science fiction authors would you like to recommend to our readers?

Many of the older ones who are dangerously unread now, I think. All those mentioned above -- especially Leiber, whose work seems to be falling out of common knowledge. I hope not. And Dunsany, and Mervyn Peake.

You've spent your entire career with Daw Books. You have undoubtedly received offers from bigger publishers over the years. What made you remain with the publisher that gave you your first chance?

Loyalty and, of course, satisfaction with the job they've done. Plus, I like to work with people that I know and care about, and being with a company like DAW has the added benefit that since my publishers ARE the company, the chances are that as long as we're all alive, we'll work together. I don't have to worry about my favorite editor suddenly disappearing to another company. Also, we're good friends now, and I'd rather work with friends any old day.

You have been acknowledge as one of the best writers in the genre? Where do you think you stand in the fantasy field?

That's tough to say. Based strictly on my own judgement and what I read in the field, I think I'm pretty good, and more than that, I'm pretty serious about what I do. Where do I stand? Who knows? But I think at least some of my work will be read after I've popped my clogs (as my British in-laws say, meaning "died") and that's about all you can ask for. Well, that and incredible riches to enjoy during your lifetime, but I don't want to be greedy.

Is a World Fantasy Award something you covet?

I'd take one, yeah, with pleasure, but I don't covet anything in this world except a monkey I could train to ride in a little saddle on the back of our over-excitable poodle. I've always been a little disappointed I haven't been nominated for a WFA, but not shocked: I didn't make my way into the field through the normal small-universe route, through the magazines and so on, and I write for an American publisher which doesn't get the respect it deserves. Also, I am predominantly (although not entirely fairly) known for writing what's considered to be the most commercial (and I suppose least artistic) part of the genre, epic fantasy. So, like I said, disappointed but not shocked.

Initially, Shadowmarch was to be an ongoing series available on the web. What made you change your mind and decide to actually write it as a hard copy? Were the difficulties inherent to an internet-based project responsible for your change of mind?

I wrote and published what amounted to the first volume online, but realized that I couldn't afford to keep doing that after the first year -- we didn't make enough money, and I had to write another book (WAR OF THE FLOWERS) at the same time. That said, I still wanted to finish the story, so moving it to regular book form made sense. I loved doing the online serial version, though, and would like to do something like that again someday.

What's the progress report pertaining to the second volume? Tentative title, release date, etc?

I don't have anything like a release date -- I would hope a year from now at the very latest. I'm well into the second volume, but I lost several working months this fall to travel and other things, so I'm not as far along as I'd like to be.

Are you working on A Chronicle in Stone (short stories set in Osten Ard) while writing Shadowmarch, or has this project been postponed?

That project has been postponed for a while, but definitely not forgotten. I hadn't intended to do SHADOWMARCH until the events above -- the needing to finish the SHADOWMARCH story -- changed my plans for what I'd be doing the next couple of years.

This is probably the most asked question of all. Are there any definite plans to write a sequel to Memory, Sorrow and Thorn following Shadowmarch?

Other than the Osten Ard short stories, no. But I have learned never to say "never." (Or "spendiferous", for that matter, because it doesn't sound, y'know, manly.)

David B. Coe Interview

Well, it appears that our little list has been causing quite a stir in some parts of the web!;-) That was to be expected, in any event!

Just wanted to let anyone know that the interview I did with David B. Coe, whose LonTobyn Chronicle I reviewed a few weeks back, is now available on the Gryphonwood Press website:

As I mentioned a while ago, I am now their book reviewer. In the current issue, you will find my reviews of all three volumes of Coe's trilogy. The print version of the magazine also contains my review of Tad Williams' Shadowmarch. Speaking of Williams, I will post an excerpt of the interview I did with him tomorrow. For the interview in its entirety, check out the summer issue of Gryphonwood Press later this spring!

If you like fantasy short stories, feel free to peruse their website. Each issue contains a number of them.

Starting this week, my reviews will also appear on another website, Check it out, for it contains a ton of useful information on the fantasy, science fiction and horror genres.

The results are in!!!

Hi there!
Well, the votes are all in, and it was just a question of tallying the results.:-) Very special thanks to the internet communities which participated in this poll:,,,, and

The results were compiled in the same manner reporters vote for the athlete of the year, etc. A first place vote was worth 5 points, a second place vote was worth 4 points, and so on. Hence, the respective ranks were established based on the number of points each author has gathered.

So here is the Top 5 of your All-Time, Pound for Pound, Favourite Fantasy Authors:

1- J. R. R. Tolkien
2- George R. R. Martin
3- Robin Hobb
4- Robert Jordan
5- Raymond E. Feist
6- Tad Williams
7- Steven Erikson
8- Stephen R. Donaldson
9- Neil Gaiman
10- Guy Gavriel Kay

Thanks again to all who participated! Feel free to comment on the list. But remember that it is based on your votes!;-)


Europe's Low-Cost Airlines

Hi there!
Well, since the previous post on traveling was so well received, I've decided to write another one. Feel free to check things out from time to time, since there will undoubtedly be more articles on the subject. As the title of the post implies, this new articles will pertain to flights to and within Europe.

As I've mentioned before, the best deals on flight to Europe can be obtained if you have an ISIC card (International Student Card). Check your STA Travel branch or its affiliates in order to get your card. For about 15$, you'll have the chance to save between 100$ and 200$ on your plane ticket alone, and then save a bundle on museums and attractions all over Europe.

If you're not a student and thus don't have access to an ISIC card, the best way to save on your plane ticket to Europe is by playing it smart. When you wish to see multiple cities during your stay, forgo a direct flight and fly with another carrier which stops first in one the cities you wish to visit, and then hop on a connecting flight to your second destination. Let's say you want to see both Paris and Barcelona. Well, instead of flying from New York to Paris on American Airlines, use the services of either Air France or Iberia. By acting thus, you'll fly from your home airport to Paris, stay there for a while, and then fly to Spain with the same ticket. Or fly to Barcelona, and then board a connecting flight to Paris. Your plane ticket will be about the same price as a direct flight from your home airport to either Paris or Barcelona, but you'll get to fly to both cities for about the same amount. No need to take that overnight train to get to Barcelona, because you'll be there in the blink of an eye.

So just do a bit of planning, set a rough itinerary, and you'll be able to save a lot of money that way. Want to see London before going elsewhere, fly on British Airways. Want to stop in Asmterdam, fly on KLM, etc. You get the gist of it.

Once in Europe, everyone seems to think that the trains are the way to go. But the price war wages by all the low-cost airlines can make you save a bundle and travel much faster than by rail. There are two low-cost kings on the old continent at the moment, and they are Ryanair and EasyJet.

Ryanair is often the cheapest airline in the world. But beware, for there are a lot of things that makes that low price less than attractive. First of all, baggage restriction is pretty strict: only 15 kg is allowed. Every kg in excess of that will cost you about 6 euros. That alone can drive up the price of your flight. But Ryanair biggest shortcoming is that the fact that they fly in and out of secondary airports that are always far away from the cities. For example, the Frankfurt-Hahn Airport that serves Ryanair flights is actually 75 miles out of Frankfurt. So be careful before you book. A taxi or a train ride to your destination once you land will have an influence on the "true" price of your plane ticket, making using Ryanair not always convenient. But they offer seats for as low as 1$ and sometimes they're even free. You just add the airport taxes to the bill. For more information on Ryanair, visit their website

EasyJet is a bit more expensive than Ryanair, but it makes for better value. First of all, the 20 kg baggage restriction is more reasonable. And although they mostly fly from secondary airports, those are always relatively close to the cities. The earlier you book, the less you'll pay. Remember that both Ryanair and EasyJet are no-frills airlines, so don't expect food and drinks to be served on board. So if you're flying from London to Athens, better pack a few munchies!;-) Check out their website

There is a multitude of other low-cost airlines all over Europe. Some come and go, so it's best to be careful when you book in advance. The Lonely Planet guides usually list them in the section pertaining to traveling to/from that country.

There are a few search engines that you can use in order to find flight prices and book tickets. It's always a good idea not to rely on a single search engine, and to use a number of them to see what each will come up with. Here are a few you can peruse:,,,,, as well as a number of others.

And always keep an eye on the big carriers, for they always have sales that sometimes makes flying on a no-frills airline unnecessary.

That's about it for now! To those who are planning a trip to Europe, have a great adventure!;-)

New York Times Bestsellers March 8th

Hmmm, nothing much happening this week. . .

In hardcover:

Goodkind's Chainfire drops down one spot, falling to number 13. Incredible but true, the newest Sword of Truth's installment has been on the list for 11 weeks now. Unbelievable. . .

Luceno's Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil continues to slip, ending the week at number 21 after dropping 4 spots.

Nothing to report in paperback. . .

The Runes of the Earth

It was both with a sense of excitement and trepidation that I elected to read Stephen R. Donaldson's The Runes of the Earth next. This current series is The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. And it's been more than 2 decades since the last one. In the intervening years, both Covenant series have attained "classic" status. A rare feat in the fantasy genre. . .

Could it possibly live up to expectations? I have to admit that Donaldson set the bar rather high with the previous Covenant Chronicles. Truth be told, the bar could not have been set higher. Which is why I was apprehensive. Both Chronicles of Thomas Covenant figure among my all-time favourites. Shades of Star Wars Episode 1 drifted inside my mind, making me wonder if this new book would fall short. Because anything that did not live up to the high standards set by its predecessors would be considered a letdown.

Could Donaldson conjure up the magic that captivated millions of readers worldwide? Could he write yet another tale that would capture the imagination life few fantasy series ever could? Could he, twenty years later, return to the Land and cap off what has become one of the best high fantasy sagas ever written?

The answer, quite simply, is a resounding yes! Don't get me wrong. If you have not enjoyed Donaldson's Covenant books, this novel will not change your mind. I'm afraid that one either loves or hates Donaldson and his novels. There appears to be no middle ground when it comes to his work. I've always made that claim, and I'm not about to change my position. But for those who have enjoyed past Covenant books, then by all means jump on this opportunity to return to the Land!:-)

What makes this one so special, you ask? Well, everything! To begin with, Donaldson doesn't miss a beat. It's as if he never left the Land at all. Honestly, the author has such mastery over his creation that it's as if White Gold Wielder was published last year instead of 1983.

Just a chance to voyage through the Land once again is an exceptional treat. The landscape is as vivid as it ever was, the images it conjures up as magical. More than 3 millennia have passed since the Sunbane was neutralized. This book gives us the opportunity to rediscover the wonders of the Land, even if things have changed, sometimes dramatically.

Once more, this is a highly imaginative saga. This novel is in itself a somewhat vast introduction with a satisfying ending. But we catch more than a few glimpses of things to come, promising to make this series as interesting and captivating as its predecessors.

Vast in scope and vision, once again with a cast of three-dimensional characters, this book is unquestionably the work of a master. It's a feast for readers who crave high fantasy tales with depth and substance. As you read along, you get the feeling that this is truly something special, something that comes along only rarely.

My only complaint (which is always the same with a Donaldson novel) is that some of the dialogues don't ring true. Stephen R. Donaldson is probably one of the very best fantasy writers ever. His prose is superior to all but a few authors in the field. But when a simple villager possesses a vocabulary that would put an English major or a Ph. D. holder to shame, there's something wrong!

For all you fans out there, rejoice at the opportunity to return to the Land. The Despiser threatens the Arch of Time once more, and it's up to Linden Avery to find a way to stop him. But this time, Lord Foul has access to white gold, and Linden will have to face several challenges before she can even hope to succeed. The Land is not as she remembers it. There will be new allies, ancient foes and new enemies.

So return to the land of the Elohim, the Haruchai, the Ranyhyn, the ur-viles, the Staff of Law, the Ravers, and so much more!:-)

One word of warning, however. There is absolutely no point in beginning this series if you haven't read the previous two. If you have time to spare, reread the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I wish my schedule would have permitted me to do so. I'm persuaded that it would have made my reading this novel an even more wonderful experience.

The Runes of the Earth is the work of an unequivocal master of high fantasy, writing at the top of his form. This one has "CLASSIC" written all over it.

If you are a fan, this a book to own in hardcover. I cannot wait for the next installment!

Final verdict: 9/10

Top Five Favourite Fantasy Authors of all Time

As posted on,, and, this new poll is to determine the Top 5 All-Time, Pound for Pound, Fantasy Authors! If you are a member of one of those communities, I figure that you have already voted. But if not, feel free to include your vote in the comment section.:-)

The results will be announced in a few days!;-)


Moving on up!!!

Hi there!
I received interesting new today and I thought I'd share it with you guys!:-) In addition, I wanted to update you on current projects. So this will be sort of a progress report. I'm presently reading Stephen R. Donaldson's newest Covenant novel, The Runes of the Earth. You can expect a review by the end of the week!

Well, an editor from HaperCollins emailed me today, revealing that I have been accredited as an "official" book reviewer by the publisher. Now is that cool or what!?! She also mentioned that I will soon be receiving free review copies of the two first volumes of Feist's Conclave of Shadows, as well as Stephenson's The Confusion, The System of the World, and Cryptonomicon. She is also throwing in the new Lois McMaster Bujold, The Hallowed Hunt, which is supposedly really excellent, and a copy of Myrren's Gift, the first in a new fantasy trilogy that was published to great success in Australia and will be going on sale over here next week.

Even better is the fact that my contact information has been given to their publicity department, which will periodically send me new books. Which means that I will receive a review copy of Feist's Exile's Return when it is released, as well as Robin Hobb's Shaman's Crossing.

Hopefully my queries to the other publishers will meet with similar success! But this is a very good start for someone who created this blog in early January!;-)

Other news include the fact that I will now be reviewing for another website, this time It contains all sorts of information on the fantasy, science fiction and horror genres. Whatever the medium, be it literature, television, movies, video game, yada yada yada, they've got you covered. Check out their website! They are restructuring the website to include a review section. As soon as it's done, the editors will put my reviews on for all to see and enjoy!;-)

Speaking of reviews, my reviews of David B. Coe's trilogy, The LonTobyn Chronicle, as well as Tad Williams' Shadowmarch will appear in the new issue of Gryphonwood Press ( which will become available online on March 15th. It will also feature an interview I did with David B. Coe. Be sure to take a look at it next week! And feel free to peruse the fantasy short stories the magazine features in every issue.

And pertaining to Tad Williams, the interview questions have been submitted to him. I now await his answers and the interview will be featured in the spring issue of Gryphonwood Press. I will most probably include a sneak preview of it on the blog. . . Stay tuned!;-)

At the present moment, I am trying to secure an interview with Robin Hobb. But I have yet to receive an answer from her. I'll keep you posted!

It seems that the article on traveling has interested many of you. That being the case, don't be surprised if more articles on the subject appear in the weblog from time to time. . .:-)

To all you Raymond E. Feist fans out there, check out There is a nice community of fantasy fans there!

That's it for now! Take care and be good, all of you!:-)


Top 5 ongoing fantasy series

Notwithstanding Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time and George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, here are the top 5 ongoing fantasy series, as voted by the members of Let's see if you agree!


- Gardens of the Moon
- Deadhouse Gates
- Memories of Ice
- House of Chains
- Midnight Tides
- The Bonehunter (forthcoming)

PRINCE OF NOTHING by R. Scott Bakker

- The Darkness that Comes Before
- The Warrior-Prophet

HARRY POTTER by J. K. Rowling

- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Gobelet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (forthcoming)


- The Briar King
- The Charnel Prince


- Curse of the Mistwraith
- Ships of Merior
- Warhost of Vastmark
- Fugitive Prince
- Grand Conspiracy
- Peril's Gate
- Traitor's Knot

New York Times Bestsellers (March 1st 2005)

I'm afraid that I've missed a couple of weeks... Sorry about that!;-)

Terry Goodkind's Chainfire drops 3 spots to number 12. Unbelievably, the latest installment of The Sword of Truth has been on the list for 10 weeks! It's one of those unsolved mysteries...

Luceno's Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil drops 5 spots to end up at number 17, making it a runner-up and no longer a bestseller. Only the top 15 books are considered NYT Bestsellers. The novel has been on the list for 4 weeks.

McCaffrey's Dragonsblood is now at number 28, dropping 3 spots from last week. The new Pern novel has also been on the list for 4 weeks.

All of these books are in hardcover format. No paperback bestsellers to report...