I’m gradually working my way through The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman and have just finished Vol 4, Season of Mists which is simply a brilliant collection of stories that really starts to bring together the previous stories into a really related theme.
We start off with a family meeting of The Endless called by Destiny. This meeting sets into motion events for the rest of the book. Morpheus is made to realise, finally (it’s only been 10,000 years after all) that he may have been a little hasty, maybe a tad harsh, banishing to hell his mortal lover after she refused to rule with him. Talk about your women scorned! Anyway, long story short he’s going to have to return to hell in order to perform this rescue and given that he’s on not too friendly terms with Himself (the fallen angel) since his last foray into hell to retrieve his helmet from one of hell’s minions, the welcome mat may not be out!
Of course Lucifer, in a total moment of genius, decides to rid Hell of all it’s inhabitants and pass the key to his domain to Morpheus! Didn’t see that one coming at all. Now, it turns out that the key to Hell is sought after by more than one ambassador. The Fey, Chaos and Order, Egyptian deities plus demons to name but a few and the whole lot being watched over by a couple of angels, it seems that other Gods are interested in the outcome. They’re going to try sweet talking, threats, bribery and corruption, anything to get their hands on that domain. It’s going to be interesting not to mention a very difficult decision to have to make. Let the banquet begin.
I thought this edition was excellent. The resolution of the problem concerning Morpheus and Nada, the outcome of who will rule Hell, the combination of myth, folklore, religion and other intriguing tidbits of history plus a darkly humorous side – particularly in this instalment the portrayal of the Devil and his world weariness!
I loved it! Plus the accompanying graphics are amazing.
If you’re a bit like me and are new to graphic novels – The Sandman series could be the one for you. I can really see why people would become so enamoured with it and I’m not yet half way through!
Top ten 2014 releases we’re dying to read
I love the topic over at the Broke and the Bookish this week (Top Ten Tuesday). It gives me a chance to look at what books I’m looking forward to in the New Year. Now, I’m pretty sure that I’ve missed some but feel free to remind me:
- Sworn in Steel by Douglas Hulick (May)
- Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence (June)
- City of Stairs by Robert J Bennett (don’t know when this is due?? Somebody, anybody, chuck me a bone with this one please)
- Morningside Fall by Jay Posey (May)
- Night Terrors by Tim Waggoner (June)
- Murder by Sarah Pinborough (May)
- Icefall by Gillian Philip (March)
- The Last Oprichnik by Jasper Kent (not sure)
- The Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss (no idea at all but on that basis it could be 2014 – glass half full, etc, etc)
- Remains open… although if Scott Lynch would like to release the next in the Gentlemen Bastards….
That’s it for now. If you can think of any more I should have on this list then feel free to chuck out suggestions. (Why are May and June so popular – what about Jan/Feb!!!)
Just finished reading the Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. I’m conflicted with this book. Basicially I have quite a few criticisms and yet in spite of that, and in spite of myself, I liked it! So, my thoughts on it are a mess.
On the one hand, I think it’s well written, it’s gory and bloodthirsty. The vampires are truly blood sucking killers and I liked the concept. On the other hand, I think there are inconsistencies, I think there is a lack of real believability with the Coldtown side of things (as much as you can have a lack of believability when you’re reading about vampires!) and I think that the story is a little bit long and could probably have been shortened slightly, or maybe shortened in some areas and lengthened in others.
The story opens on something of a massacre. A party at a remote farmhouse has become a scene straight out of a horror story. Tana, also at the party has worken up in the bath where she basically slept in order to get away from the action, and particularly to get away from her ex boyfriend Aidan. When she wakes up almost everyone is dead and the place has been liberally decorated in blood. The only other survivor is Aidan, who has been bitten and so now carries the infection and has been chained to a bed and a vampire (Gavriel) – also chained up who he seems to be sharing the bedroom with, and worse, there are sounds of movement below, the killers are stirring. Tana needs to escape pdq and has decided to rescue not only her ex but the vampire who is being held captive. I know. What a maniac. Although the vampire in question does seem to be trying to help her! The three then set out to one of the Coldtowns – I will explain!
Basically In Black’s imagined world vampires are real and are no longer a secret that hunts us from the shadows, stealthy and secretive. The infection that causes vampirism has spread and as a result Coldtowns have been created where vampires now live, along with humans. It’s a form of captivity and the basis of it is that the vampires don’t kill (all) the humans they live with – as they’ll no longer have anyone to feed from. Simple supply and demand. Of course, these Coldtowns have gathered something of a cult status with people clamouring to get in thinking that they will themselves become immortal. People with a suspected infection (because there are still rogue vampires out there – stalked by real life famous bounty hunters) are put into Coldtown to see if they can resist the temptation of blood and sweat out the infection. A process that takes approximately 3 months. Of course during that time, without some pretty strong form of restraint it’s more than likely that the bloodlust will win out.
On top of this, the action from within Coldtowns is televised and broadcast around the country with some vampires gathering a massive following – one of the most popular being the Vampire Lucien – who sort of put me in mind of the vampires in the Trueblood series.
Now, back to the three making their way to the nearest Coldtown. Along the way they pick up a couple of young people, twins, who are in search of immortality and aim to enter Vampire Ville in search of it. Between them they come up with a plan that involves claiming that they’ve caught the vampire Gavriel and are turning him into Coldtown for the reward (a marker – which gives the carrier right to freedom from the place – the only real way out of Coldtown short of a body bag). Tana plans to quarantine herself there, stay out of trouble, fight off the disease and return home using her market to gain freedom. Of course, the likelihood of that really happening is slim especially given that she’s travelling with (1) a real vampire (2) an almost turned vampire and (3) two wannabe vampires. Not to mention Coldtown isn’t an easy place to live! And, she’s a bit like one of those annoying females in a horror movie – the one who has to go and check the cellar, or trip over on a tree root when trying to escape.
I’m not going to go into the plot any further as there are a couple of twists along the way that I don’t want to spoil.
As I said above. I enjoy Holly Black’s writing style. She has a great dramatic style, very descriptive, particularly the horror scenes plus the book gets off to a really fast start! I like way the story is split between the ‘now’ and the ‘then’, which serve to bring to light things not only from Tana’s earlier life but also Gavriel’s. I also like the fact that the vampires are vicious and act like real predators and I like the story behind the whole vampire ‘explosion’.
Now, in terms of criticisms. Well, firstly, I don’t understand why vampires, who are so strong and deadly, would so meekly comply with being held captive in Coldtowns – it seems to me that they’re the top of the chain so why aren’t we being herded in towns of their making and being kept like cattle. Okay, some of the vampires remain out there – in the wild – but the majority of them live in a sort of self imposed style of imprisonment where their lives are on display to the outside world. I also don’t really understand how anybody in the town really goes about their everyday lives. There is no law and order and it’s not really clear how the people there survive or eek out a living – just simple things like where does the food come from – okay, it would be boring to have all that churned out in the book but I’m just curious about it. Also, why is it that all of the vampires have to be so overwhelmingly beautiful?? Again, just curious. It’s sort of implied that if you’re turned you’ll be drop dead gorgeous. Okay, well no wonder then that so many people seek immortality if all of a sudden they turn into this beautiful creature! Come on, you choose, mortal, short, chubby, plain Jane or live forever, unbelievably lovely to behold, strong, fast and doted upon by your would-be victims. I did like that the author incorporates a struggle for the vampires, this whole area of is the disease just really making their true self come to the surface without the thin veneer of civilisation and also that some of them were unable to live with the atrocities that they have committed and actually end their own existence.
It does look as though I’m being overly critical which isn’t intentional as I actually enjoyed this. More than that, and rather predictably, I liked Gavriel. Clearly, along the way I’ve developed a penchant for Shakespeare quoting, slightly insane vampires. I would read more of his stories – he sort of puts me in mind a little bit of Lestat.
Okay, I’m not going to say this is the most original vampire story, it’s got elements of a number of things, but I’m not sure just how you could actually hit upon a truly original story any more as vampires have been so popular in books over recent years. I did like that this had a feeling almost of the vampire disease being similar to a zombie style disease.
RETURN OF THE SCI-FI EXPERIENCE by Carl @ Stainless Steel Droppings 1 SPACE The boundless white noise of the internet serves as a back-drop for the MAIN TITLE, followed by a SCROLL DOWN, which crawls into infinity (and beyond) with hundreds, nay thousands of sci fi books listed... Episode VI RETURN OF THE SCI FI EXPERIENCE PAN DOWN to reveal a monstrous half-completed Death Star, its massive superstructure revealing row upon row of shelving, awaiting the thousands of books and reviews that will be read and written during the next two months. An Imperial Star Destroyer moves overhead toward the massive armored space station. 2 INT IMPERIAL SHUTTLE - COCKPIT The shuttle captain makes contact with the Death Star. SHUTTLE CAPTAIN We're starting our approach. 3 INT DEATH STAR - CONTROL ROOM Bloggers move anxiously about among the stacks of books. A SHIELD OPERATOR hits switches beside a large screen, on which is a display of the Death Star. A control officer rushes over to the shield operator. OFFICER Inform the commander that Lord Steel's shuttle has arrived. OPERATOR Yes, sir. A squad of Imperial storm troopers moves into formation before the craft. 4 INT DEATH STAR - MAIN DOCKING BAY The exit hatch of the shuttle opens with a WHOOSH, revealing only darkness. Then, heavy FOOTSTEPS AND MECHANICAL BREATHING. From this black void appears STAINLESS STEEL DROPPINGS, LORD OF THE SCI FI EXPERIENCE. Steel looks over the assemblage of bloggers as he strides down the ramp. BLOGGERS Lord Steel, this is an unexpected pleasure. We're honored by your presence. STEEL You may dispense with the pleasantries. I'm here to put you all back on schedule. The bloggers turn ashen and begin to shake. BLOGGERS Lord Steel, we bloggers are working as fast as we can. STEEL Perhaps, but maybe I can find NEW ways to motivate you. BLOGGERS We assure you, this experience will be monumental, stupendous, gigantic,.. mmm, big, as always! STEEL The Emperor does not share your optimistic appraisal of the situation. BLOGGERS But he asks the impossible. We want more blogs! STEEL Then perhaps you can tell him when he arrives. BLOGGERS (aghast) The Emperor's coming here? STEEL That is correct, Bloggers. And he is most displeased with your apparent lack of progress. BLOGGERS We shall double, triple our efforts. STEEL I hope so, Bloggers, for your sake. The Emperor is not as... forgiving as I am! That’s right. Tune in here and check out the details. Don’t miss it. Starting this December.... the Sci Fi Experience!
I just finished reading Ghoul Goblin which is a graphic novel combining six comics plus extras such as a summary of the series. The story is set in the world of Harry Dresden and is a completely unique story (as oppose to being one of the already written books turned into graphic format).
I enjoyed this. I can’t say that I’ve read extensively of graphic novels, because frankly I haven’t, but I find it’s something that I think I could quite easily become enamoured with! That being said, I’m clearly no expert – I just like what I like – so, if I come up with a pile of gibberish in the eyes of all the experts out there than that’s my defence!
The story in Ghoul Goblin revolves around a family that seem to have been the subject of a curse. Harry becomes involved when one of the local lawmen seeks his help following a couple of grisly murders of two of the Talbot family members. This involves Harry travelling away from his usual Chicago stomping ground to the quiet town of Boon Mill in Missouri. Of course not everybody there is pleased to make his acquaintance and he becomes particularly unpopular after causing havoc at the funeral for the most recently deceased. The story involves near death experiences with a ghoul and a goblin, being thrown into a cell by the local law – who think he’s some sort of charlatan and seeking the help of a guardian spirit. Something which is far from easy and involves encountering a rather large, okay huge, snake.
What I particularly liked about this is it’s a unique storyline that fans haven’t read before. It gives everybody a little snippet of Harry whilst they’re waiting for further instalments and it brings together all the usual Harry trademarks. The duster, Bob, the VW and Harry’s strange aversion to anything electronic, or more to the point the fact that he’s the glitch in the system. It was also interesting to read a story about Harry accompanied by graphics – although I think Butcher does such an amazing job in the books that visuals aren’t really necessary. I thought the graphics were well done, the story, although obviously much shorter than I’m used to when reading about Harry, was intriguing and the overall experience of reading a graphic novel is so refreshingly different, almost less intense, than reading a novel (or do I just like ogling the pictures!)
In terms of criticisms. I didn’t have anything major although I felt like the graphics could have been slightly darker. That could simply be that my only experience with graphic novels is the Sandman series which is very dark but the Dresden Files is certainly not a series aimed at a YA audience. It can be quite violent and doesn’t shy away from the grim and harsh realities of the strange world that Harry inhabits. I think I wanted more creep factor is all but this wasn’t enough to spoil the experience for me.
I think if you love Harry and you’re just dying for your fix then this will be a great pick me up in between instalments.
I received this from Net Galley in exchange for a honest review. The above is my own opinion.