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Review: Legends of the Red Sun Book 3 – The Book of Transformations by Mark Charan Newton

I’ve been a fan of Mark’s work since I read the first chapter of Nights of Villjamur. That book was something special (my review here), and Book 2 in the Legends of the Red Sun, City of Ruin, was even better. So when I started reading Book 3 I was pretty confident that Mark wasn’t going to disappoint – after all, being two books into a series should mean that the storyteller is more confident and at ease. I’m happy to report that The Book of Transformations didn’t disappoint. 🙂

This third book in the series is an epic – major things happen, major and far-reaching events, even though most of the characters we’ve met in the first two books aren’t to be seen. The setting for this book is, for the most part, Villjamur itself, though there are chapters that venture further out to continue the story of a group of characters that stepped into the unknown in the first book.

Character-wise, Mark really had fun in this book. We’ve got a detective-kind of guy, who’s investigations put him firmly in the sights of the Emperor; a group of outcasts who are brought together to create something that the citizenry of the city can look up to, and an old man who has spent a long time traveling to Villjamur, in search of a very important artifact – The Book of Transformations.

You may recall that Books 1 and 2 also had a detective-kind of character in the main cast – it’s a difficult thing to pull off, having an investigator picking up clues and interviewing people as he’s investigating a case, especially in a Fantasy novel. I think it must be difficult to keep to that tightrope, to be able to balance the needs of the story against the characters, but Mark once again pulled it off – this investigator isn’t a carbon-copy of the man from Books 1 and 2, and as the novel progresses he grows into the kind of character that becomes the anchor, if you will – the island of normality in the strangeness. I think many readers will enjoy his story and the chapters that he features in, because there’s a definite sense of ‘impending doom’ dogging him, but he’s such a likeable character that I found myself cheering him on, despite knowing more than he did about the forces he was arrayed against (up to a certain degree, I must add). He also ends up taking a very important dual-role in the novel, and I hope that the final book in the series, The Broken Isles, explores the fallout of these dual roles a bit more, especially in light of what happens at the end of this novel.

The group of outcasts had me worried before I began reading the novel – a little birdie told me just what ‘kind’ of group this would be and though I was excited to read how they would be integrated into a Fantasy setting I was worried that it would fall flat. One of the characters seems to be a homage to a very famous axe-man in Fantasy, and Mark uses him to explore the consequences of being a hero; I really liked this guy even though, if I consider the situation he was pulled from, he had the least to lose. He brought a sense of melancholy to the novel, but also a different kind of emotional intensity versus the others in his group. Even though he had the least to lose, it turns out that he had the most to lose – he’s the kind of character that most people sympathies will go to and I really enjoyed his tale.

The female of the group – well now, if you’ve read Mark’s previous Legends of the Re3d Sun novels you’ll know that Mark doesn’t shy away from the kinds of subjects that usually aren’t present in Fantasy, or even Science Fiction. SPOILER WARNING. For example, one of the main protagonists from Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin is a gay man, and I found Mark’s exploration of this character to be honest, unflinching and respectful – you know, the kind of portrayal any character should enjoy. Mark didn’t do anything special with this character – he just let him live out his tale in his world. It wasn’t always a happy tale and this guy had to face many obstacles and problems, but doesn’t every character in Fiction? What I’m trying to say is that it must be difficult to not place too much emphasis on a character who isn’t the mead-and-wench kind of man, but Mark not only pulled it off in Books 1 and 2 but also here, with this female character. She’s a practical, thinking and feeling being who is just trying to survive, and she finds herself in a situation where she can make something of herself and prove to herself that everyone has been wrong about her. But that same situation affords her the capability to exact some retribution for everything she’s been through – this constant struggle and the search for herself through it all made her a compelling character and a great ‘voice’ for everything that was occurred in Viljamur, the city in which the novel’s events take place.

The third member of the group, though, doesn’t get as tight a focus as his companions, yet his motivations still ring out, making the group three individuals instead of two memorable characters and one side-kick, which could easily have happened. I liked how this character’s point-of-view and motivations not only clashed with those of his companions but also forced them to look at themselves and their situations differently.

The plot of the book is, as I mentioned earlier, epic – the previous problems in the first two novels, that of refugees seeking shelter from the coming Ice Age, reach a boiling point of sorts when citizens within the city start working against what the Emperor wants, which then leads to the kind of crackdowns that channels such as CNN, BBC and Sky News have acquainted us too well with. Also, a character who has gone in search of something greater than himself has found it, and when he returns to Villjamur, the consequences are –among other things- shattering.

The novel’s title is perfectly apt, as practically everyone in the tale is forced to change, and not only them, but the Empire they’ve lived in. Plus, there is a literal meaning to the title in the novel. 😉

This was a tense, exciting novel, standing strongly alongside the first two in the series, and I’m excitedly looking forward to seeing where everything leads in The Broken Isles. 🙂 Highly recommended!

9 / 10

To order your copies of The Book of Transformations, click here for Amazon US, here for Amazon UK, and here if you’re in South Africa. And do check out Mark’s website here.

The novels in the series have all received updated covers (which I love) and here they all are – you know, so that you can spot them easily when you’re browsing. 🙂

The Broken Isles is already available, will get stuck in as soon as I get my copy. 🙂

Until next time,
Be EPIC!

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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Reviews

 

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Mark Newton’s German deal & City of Ruin Paperback Cover

Awesome news from John Jarrold!

PRESS RELEASE – GERMAN DEAL FOR MARK CHARAN NEWTON.

Volker Busch at VGS Egmont has acquired German rights in two fantasy novels by Mark Charan Newton from Jon Mitchell, Rights Manager at Pan Macmillan. Julie Crisp acquired World rights in the books from agent John Jarrold. The books will be published on Egmont’s ‘Lyx’ imprint. Other authors on the Lyx list include Jacqueline Carey, Jennifer Fallon, Tanya Huff, R. A. Salvatore, and Seanan McGuire.

NIGHTS OF VILLJAMUR was first published by Macmillan/Tor UK in 2009, and CITY OF RUIN followed this year. VGS will publish the first novel around the end of 2011, with the second following.

‘Mark’s reputation is quickly growing across the world, and we’re both delighted with this deal,’ said John Jarrold. ‘Congratulations to Jon Mitchell and Macmillan!’

Kickass news indeed, even though I can’t read more than ten words of German. 🙂 Mark definitely deserves it and even though I’m sure plenty of readers in Germany have already enjoyed Mark’s work, Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin are sure to garner many more fans for him. 🙂 Congrats, Mark! 🙂

And here, as promised, is the awesome cover to the paperback edition of City of Ruin; the man on the cover is none other than Brynd and he looks incredible, much better than the Anime-esque Brynd seen on the hardcover of City of Ruin, in my opinion. 🙂

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2010 in Announcements, John Jarrold's Corner

 

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Legends of the Red Sun Interviews: Night Guard Commander Brynd Lathraea Adaol

Welcome to the third and final Legends of the Red Sun character interview! These interviews were conducted with Mark Charan Newton and myself, and I decided to interview some of the characters that appear in Nights of Villjamur and City and Ruin.

Brynd is one of the most intriguing characters I’ve met in Epic Fantasy; not only is he a military tactician and capable of also holding his own against those more political than him, but he’s also deeply honourable and focused when it comes to his duty. There are layers and layers to this man and as you follow him through Nights of Villjamur and into City of Ruin, you may find him to be one of the more memorable characters in Epic Fantasy. 🙂

Without further a-do, here is your glimpse of him:

::

Dave: Thank you for agreeing to this short interview, Commander. I’m sure the rest of the Night Guard can keep Villjamur and the Empire safe while we chat. 🙂 So, how long have you been with the Night Guard? Did you always feel called to stand in a position of protector / guardian?

Brynd: The Night Guard? A good decade, though at times it feels like I was born into it. From a young age, it was clear the colour of my skin was going to cause me trouble – cultures tend to dislike that which is different – and so I had to prove a great deal to the world. You could say it makes me a driven person, this effort to prove myself – which in turn has resulted in my progress through the armed forces so quickly. (That, and I believe sometimes people fear me – which is often a boon.) As for feeling called to stand as protector, well, there is perhaps an instinct in all soldiers to do so – linked to a motivation to do good. I don’t think anyone who is right for the job should say that they were destined to be in charge of the armed forces though – no one that has served on the front line would really utter such things.

Dave: That’s a good point you make; most soldiers find themselves wanting to keep their heads down and concentrate on following orders and looking out for themselves and each other, if I’m not mistaken. 🙂 Speaking of your uniqueness, have you found yourself targeted or singled out on occasion? I can imagine that rising through the ranks, just getting a foothold even, must have proved difficult?

Brynd: All my life I have been singled out, but it’s important not to treat your own self like a victim. Therein lies a dangerous path. Every time I look at another person, I can see their instant reactions, their surprise, sometimes their fear. I could drive myself mad by dwelling upon such things.

As for getting a foothold, luckily the armed forces tends to be a case of merit – so no matter who or what you are, you prove your value. Having said that, I am lucky to have received a decent schooling due to my parents having some wealth and status – something that seems related to one’s own destiny in a place like Villjamur. There are huge swathes of humanity unluckier than myself, and I remind myself of that often.

Dave: Speaking of those less fortunate, how do you feel about the refugees, and how would you deal with the situation if you were able?

Brynd: The refugees… well, the explanation from the Council is that they couldn’t be accepted into the city because the pressure on resources would be too great – and in that, I agree. My official position is, of course, to accept the will of the Council. It doesn’t mean I like what I see gathered outside Villjamur – perhaps there could be some charitable acts, food packages and the like, but then that may well anger the man traditionalists within the city walls.

Dave: Did your parents have aspirations for you that didn’t include the Night Guard? What aspirations did you have for yourself? Have you had to give up on some dreams?

Brynd: I’m not much of a dreamer, in that sense. Of course we all have ambition and good intentions – mine was simply to prove myself the equal of others. I am what I am, and that should be no different to anyone else. We should be judged by our character and our actions. If that can be labelled as a dream, then so be it. Otherwise I just get on with the job of soldiering – which has been my only aspiration.

Dave: Lastly, looking back on your life and accomplishments so far, do you recognize a turning point? And are you satisfied with the decisions you’ve made?

Brynd: I don’t see life as having any major turning points. You play with the cards you’re dealt and try to make the most of them. I try to see things logically. Perhaps, when in combat, I hope the decisions I made minimized the loss of life, and I can’t think of many reasons when this hasn’t been the case. But I’ve no regrets, at least, and if I’m ever disappointed with my acts I’ll try improve. It helps, being in my position, if you live by logic as best you can.

::

There we are, a glimpse at the kind of character you’ll be meeting in Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin. 🙂

That brings to a close the round of character interviews, but the journey of discovery doesn’t end here – Nights of Villjamur is available in both paperback and hardcover, and Book Two in the Legends of the Red Sun series, City of Ruin, is also available. (order your copies through the appropriate links above) You can also order the audiobook, arriving in stock on the 29th of June (would love to hear this!)

For those of you who haven’t yet read Nights of Villjamur, check out my review here, and for those still deciding on whether to pick up City of Ruin, check out my review here.

Nights of Villjamur is also going to be invading the US soon – check out the book’s page over at Random House. 🙂

Book One Legends of the Red Sun – Nights of Villjamur (UK hardcover edition)

Book One of the Legends of the Red Sun – Nights of Villjamur (UK paperback edition):

Book One of the Legends of the Red Sun – Nights of Villjamur (US hardcover edition):

Book Two of the Legends of the Red Sun – City of Ruin (UK hardcover edition)

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2010 in Interviews

 

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Legends of the Red Sun Interview: Investigator Rumex Jeryd

Welcome to the second interview in the series spotlighting some characters from Mark Charan Newton‘s Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin!

Today I’ve got the awesome rummel investigator, Rumex Jeryd. Jeryd is a character in both Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin, and one of the most colouful and likable characters you’ll get to read. Focused on his work -helping to keep Villjamur’s street’s safe with the Inquisition- and possessing a practically unshakable sense of right and wrong, Jeryd too is drawn into the conflicts that will see the Jamur Empire changed.

Let’s hand him the floor, shall we? 🙂

::

Dave: Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Inspector Jeryd. I appreciate you giving up your time during this important investigation. First off, what brought you to the Inquisition? And why in Villjamur? Surely there are quieter spots throughout the Empire.

Jeryd: Well it wasn’t the paperwork, that’s for sure. It’s been so long since I’ve joined – decades and decades – that I can’t really remember why. A calling. A safe job. The need to do some good in this city. I was born and raised in Villjamur, but I don’t fancy making my way out in the sticks. It’s not as violent as some cities. And sure it’s quieter out in the country, but there’s no protection, no guarantee of food, risk of attacks from tribal uprisings and the likes. Plus now the ice is kicking in, I’m glad I’m behind these city walls.

Dave: When you’re not persuing a suspect, when you feel the need to relax for a time, where do you go? What do you do?

Jeryd: Time to relax? Very little of that these days. Back in the day, me and my wife, Marysa, we’d take in some of the underground theatre shows – she loves a golem show. Maybe dinner out, read a book. My breaks are when I get to a bistro, and I watch the world go by. There are a lot of characters in Villjamur. There’s a lot going on beneath the surface – but you need to look hard to see what’s really going on.

Dave: Care to comment on the Inquisition’s practice of not allowing humans the higher positions? It just seems a bit strange, considering that the Emperor is human.

Jeryd: Way back, there were massive tensions between humans and the rumel race. We were a massively suppressed people. After some serious fights and rebellions, given that humans held some damn important positions in the Empire, we were allowed to take such a major role in the Inquisition – as a peace offering of sorts. An social conscience thing. But also, given that we far outlive our hominid friends, we found we were much better suited for the job – experience is the key. Knowledge of laws, that kind of thing. Pretty soon, only we could become full investigators, and humans, who seem rather transient to us, could only achieve certain levels of progress. Hey, I know it isn’t fair – but I don’t make the rules, right?

Dave: Coming to your wife: How does she handle your work? Has it put a strain on your marriage or does she handle it well?

Jeryd: Hey, I’m hardly the guy to answer that one well am I? I mean, I guess you have to work at relationships, right? But with Inquisition work, well, it just takes over your life. I’m hardly there to see to her needs and when I am everything seems trivial to murders or whatever. No, I’m not so good when it comes to these things. I’d like to think I can turn things around though.

Dave: Well, the city does have a way of bringing out the best or worst in a person. Coming back to the Inquisition, can you give us a short history of the Inquisition? Do you know anything of how it was formed and how long its been in charge of justice in Villjamur?

Jeryd: As to how it was formed in the first stage, no one really knows. Most of the stories suggest it started with Jamur Joll, the Emperor who five thousand years ago re-named the settlement as Villjamur, and had the walls built. He established some kind of order (though you might think that order never really came), and the Inquisition was to enforce civil obedience. The Inquisition really took hold within the last couple of thousand years – in its current capacity. There was a great deal of combat between human and rumel, and the upshot of these tensions were that the rumel would be allowed to form the main rank of Investigators. It was a peace offering of sorts, to force two races to live side-by-side in peace. And we’re a relatively liberal city compared to others, so I’ve heard, so I guess the policy worked.

Dave: Granted, it does seem to have worked. Looking back over your years in Villjamur, is there a memory that stands out more than most? Something good or bad that you’ll never forget.

Jeryd: Memory is a strange thing. My species can live for a good couple of hundred years, so I tend not to rely on what happened all that long ago. We can distort things in our minds even after a few hours – think what that’s like for a few decades! Nah, whatever I’m thinking about probably isn’t how it was.

Dave: That seems a sad way to live, but understandable from a rummel’s point of view. Is there then something you’re looking forward to? A dream that you’ve been nuturing?

Jeryd: I’m realistic! You’ve got to think practically to be in the Inquisition. None of this emotions nonsense. I look forward to building a better marriage, but as for things to look forward to? Well, believe it or not, I’m a big fan of the theatre. I’d love more free time to take my wife to see a lot of the shows. Villjamur has great underground shows, and even in an ice age there’s a lot going on. I’m trying not to think too far ahead – what with the ice, nothing is certain.

::

There we go, a nice glimpse of the rummel investigator for you. 🙂

Remember to head over to your nearest bookshop to pick up your copies of Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin, or order Nights here (Amazon UK paperback and hardcover) and City here (also Amazon UK). Looks like the dates on Amazon are incorrect, since Mark Tweeted today that the novels are already out on shelves. 🙂 And don’t forget, Nights of Villjamur will be making a splash in the US this month, too! Here’s the page over at Random House.

Be back tomorrow for the final character interview, being the awesome Night Guard Commander, Brynd Lathraea Adaol. 🙂

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2010 in Interviews

 

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Legends of the Red Sun Interview: Randur Estevu

Here we go, the first of the character-interviews I conducted with Mark Newton. 🙂 No, I didn’t interview him to get a handle on his character, I interviewed characters from his novels, Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin, instead. 😉

The first character to get the spotlight was Randur Estevu – the rogue, womanizer, master duelist, and dancer. Randur travelled from the island of Folke to the heart of the Jamur Empire, ostensibly to get aid for his ailing mother, but Randur is pulled into a burgeoning conflict that’ll change the Empire, for good or worse; hope you enjoy it!

::

Dave: Coming from a small island and now being in the greatest city of the Empire, is it a bit overwhelming or more of the same just on a bigger scale?

Randur: Well, there are plenty more women here, that’s for sure…

But, I can honestly say that no matter where you go, people are still after the same kind of things. People need to put food in their mouths, need to get by, need the attentions of a lover. (That’s where I come in.) I’ve noticed a lot of lonely people getting tempted by shiny trinkets. Life isn’t as wholesome in Villjamur as much as the countryside – and in this city, the problems are swept into the caves, away from public view. People are obsessed with drinking and generally doing what they can to escape the world. And who can blame them, with the ice coming in?

Dave: Ah, yes, the ice! Tell me, was the coming of the ice discussed in Folke, openly, or was it something relegated to gossips? I guess what I’m asking is, coming from such a small corner of the Empire, surely there are those who still don’t believe in what’s coming?

Randur: You can never really trust what the old women gossip about on Folke. Chances are only half of what they say is even close to true, and even then aimed at bringing down someone in the community. And the men are worse – sitting in silence for much of the day and when they do speak all they do is mutter about bad omens.

To be honest, some people need to make a living, and just get on no matter what the elements bring. But bugger was I going to stay there, given half a chance of some sanctuary. In terms of belief? Well when you’d experienced the recent weather before I left, you don’t need much convincing.

Dave: You seem like a pragmatist, one who doesn’t readily believe rumours – not from the women-folk of Folke at least! How would you describe yourself? What terrifies you and exhilirates you?

Randur: In my dance, I am an artist. Actually, same in the bedroom too, given half a chance… Other than that? I’m someone who takes a risk now and then. You might say I’ve blagged my way through life so far, and that’d be fair. You have to – you’ve only go so long and you’ve got to make the most of it. What terrifies me? Not a lot if I’m honest. I tend not to think all that hard about the fears and the likes. I get my kicks out of living close to the edge: getting caught in the act by someone’s husband gets the ol’ heart beating.

Most of all, I enjoy the art of dancing. On my island, it’s a masculine activity. In this damn city, everyone things I’m a bit of a dandy for doing it – but it’s my life, my calling. I lose my sense of self when I’m doing it (which possibly explains why I’m so full of myself when I’m not).

Dave: Should I be glad that I don’t have a wife? Don’t answer that. Although, I might just take up some dancing, come to think of it… 🙂

Anyway, what are your thoughts on influx of refugees? Do you think the Emperor is in a position to handle the situation?

Randur: I’m sure I would treat her with great respect.

As for the refugees? Not much anyone can do about it in this world. It’s a symptom of things – that money gets sucked into Villjamur from islands like mine. We’re poor people, out on Folke, but we had a lot of resources – ores and agriculture. Doesn’t add up, does it? Exactly. So when you take away everything from them, what else are they going to do but come banging on the only door in this world that has a hope in hell of offering… anything. So of course, the institutions in Villjamur are in a position to do many things. They merely choose not to.”

Dave: Well I’m sure that Chancellor Urtika has a plan in motion that will see the refugees taken care of.

Moving onto your impressions of the city, what do you think about Villjamur? I’m not talking about sights and sounds, mind you, but your impressions – when you look at the city, when you breathe it in, how does this city of cities make you feel?

Randur: It makes you feel very humble. There are what, eleven thousand years of history on this site. It’s vast. It’s architecture is a mishmash of designs. It imposes itself on you. It makes you feel very insignificant. You can loose yourself in the mass of people – which is strangely liberating, being a nobody.

Dave: Last question for you: Considering the palpable building of tension in Villjamur, and the kind of people who are in charge, who have known only this city and this life, is there a place for you in Villjamur? And if not, what would it take you make you choose to stay? Hypothetical of course.

Randur: For me to stay, I’d need an endless supply of women to charm and teach to dance… hypothetically, of course.

All I have are my sword skills and dance skills – which aren’t that dissimilar; you can use them anywhere, so my home is also anywhere. But I don’t think I’d like to stay in Villjamur too long though – the corruption, the violence, the sin… I don’t know how people could want to make their lives with all of this crap around them. And besides, people have such bad manners in the city.

::

There we go, a hint of the Randur you’ll meet in the pages of Nights of Villjamur. 🙂

To order your copies of Nights of Villjamur, click here for the hardcover edition and here for the paperback (available on the 4th of June) at Amazon UK, and if you’re in the US, pre-order your copies here – remember, Nights of Viiljamur goes on sale in the US on the 29th of June. If you’d like a taste of Nights, check out this link – it’ll take you through to Goodreads, where you’ll be able to read the first chapter. 🙂

Come back tomorrow for the next-to-last character interview – Investigator Rumex Jeryd. 🙂

Until then,

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2010 in Interviews

 

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Legends of the Red Sun – Character Interviews

Some of you will remember that I did some character interviews with Mark Charan Newton a while back. This was born from me wanting to interview Mark about his work (Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin) but also wanting to do something new and fresh; I asked Mark how he felt about me sending him questions for some of the characters in the novels and he liked the idea, so we went ahead and came up with some very cool interviews. 🙂

With Mark’s second Legends of the Red Dun novel, City of Ruin, on the threshold of official publication in the UK, and with Nights of Villjamur’s US publication date appraoching, too, I’m going to be re-posting the reviews of Nights of Villjamur and City of Ruin, as well as the interviews I’ve conducted with the characters in the novels.

Here’s what you can look forward to, and when:

On Monday the 31st of May (being tomorrow), you’ll be able to read the interview I did with Randur Estevu,

On the first of June it’ll be Investigator Rumex Jeryd‘s turn,

and on the second of June, Night Guard Commander Brynd Lathraea Adaol.

On the 3rd of June I’ll re-post my review of Nights of Villjamur, and on the 4th, my review of City of Ruin. 🙂

June the 4th is the big pub-date for City of Ruin in the UK, and the paperback edition of Nights of Villjamur will also go on sale on the 4th. Mark officially enters the US on the 29th of June with Nights of Villjamur.

Here are the covers you can look forward to seeing on the shelves:

Book One of the Legends of the Red Sun – Nights of Villjamur (UK paperback edition):

Book Two of the Legends of the Red Sun – City of Ruin (UK hardcover edition)

Book One of the Legends of the Red Sun – Nights of Villjamur (US hardcover edition):

I’m really looking forward to seeing how the US embraces Mark’s work – I’m pretty sure that he’ll be making a huge splash over there!

Be back here tomorrow for the first interview!

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2010 in Announcements

 

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Review: City of Ruin: The Legends of the Red Sun Book 2 by Mark C Newton

Mark was awesome enough to send me a PDF copy of City of Ruin, and although it took me a while to read it (about 3 weeks), I’m really glad I did; not only is it an excellent sequel to Nights of Villjamur, it’s also capable of standing on it’s own as an excellent Epic Fantasy / New Weird novel. 🙂

Nights of Villjamur took us to the central city of the Jamur Empire, showing us a world and characters having to contend with a coming Ice Age and much more besides. This book had an incredible atmosphere, very memorable and intriguing characters, and some very strange (but cool) concepts and ideas – and I’m glad to report that City of Ruin continues this trend and builds on what Mark kicked off his series with.

The first thing that grabbed me was the atmosphere of the novel – where Nights was focused, dark and intense, City of Ruin has a more adventurous feel to it; indeed, Mark shows us much more of the Empire and its landscapes, as well as hints of what came before the Empire, fleshing out his already intriguing world more.

Mark also ramps up the action, thankfully not focusing on faces anymore. 😉 Battle scenes are frenetic and tense and I felt as if I was right in the middle of the action, and for those who are squeamish, be warned – Mark makes it clear that war is a violent, gruesome business. There were some very tense moments!

What I also enjoyed about City is that it was a larger novel, a larger story, much bigger in scale than Nights; it’s shown me that Mark can handle a bigger canvas with ease and aplomb, and that he can tackle an Epic just as well as all the previous and current greats. This bodes well for Fantasy and for all the readers out there who like their stories large and sprawling. 🙂 I’ve yet to read Mark’s first novel, The Reef, but I have to add, too, that it would be great to see a standalone from him, after finishing the Legends series, of course. 🙂 I’ve got a feeling that he and China Mieville would be sharing a crown. 🙂

Now to the characters:

Some characters from Nights return in City, and with a vengeance, I might add! Every single one of them has grown, even in the short length of time between novels, fitting more comfortably into their skins; some of my old favorites took paths I would never had guessed at, and a slew of new characters step onto the stage, including one very, very creepy- Nah, I’ll let you meet that one. 🙂 Mark also used these characters to explore many touchy subjects that many readers can learn from, and that created the sympathy in me that really brought the characters to life. Mark really let them live, being much more comfortable with them. 🙂

Plot-wise, the story builds like a runaway Maglev. As the story-strands swirled together and clicked into place, I found myself reading faster and faster, skipping words like ‘the’, ‘and’ and ‘said’ just to get to the meat! Mark stepped up the pace in City, sending the plot into a shattering conclusion that sets the scene for Book 3 and answers many questions while leaving many more to ponder. Mark also manages to meld genres in this book, and very bloody well, I might add; I was a skeptic at first, when certain things began happening, but Mark won me over and left me awed; he took a chance, and in my opinion, it definitely paid off. 🙂

Another thing that really caught my attention was that I was left wondering even about the numerous walk-on characters; Mark managed to leave me with the feeling that not only the main characters have lives and histories and desires, and that even the walk-ons could feature in novels of their own. There’s one in particular, a character that is only mentioned, mind you, that I’m pretty certain will feature in the next book. My point is that Mark left me feeling that the world he had created did indeed have depth and detail and was populated with living, breathing characters, something that was somewhat lacking (in retrospect) from Nights.

All in all I’m once again impressed with Mark as an author and with the tales he writes – he has a great eye for detail, knows how to create characters that resonate with the reader and creates scenes with enough action and tension that I was left breathless at times. This is definitely one of my top reads of 2010, and will definitely cement Mark’s place in Fantasy. I’m a huge fan of Mark’s worlds and characters and I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to reel you in, too. 🙂

9 / 10

City of Ruin will be available on the 4th of June; while you wait for it, check out more about Mark at his official website, and head on over to Amazon UK to pre-order your copy. 🙂

Also, you can all look out to another round of character-interviews building up to the release of City of Villjamur in the UK and Nights of Villjamur in the US; that’s right, character-interviews, not author-interviews. 🙂

Be EPIC!

PS Here’s a treat for those that haven’t yet seen it: the Bantam Spectra (US) cover for Nights of Villjamur!

I like it – very stark and beautiful, though we’re the red tinge? Nah, I’m nitpicking; it’s a beautiful cover that evokes the mysteries awaiting readers in the city. I like it!

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2010 in Reviews

 

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M.D. Thalmann / Satire and Sci-fi

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