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Weekly Book Buzz: First Production Still From HBO’s Thrones

We Review Original Sin by Allison Brennan

By Tim Janson     March 07, 2010


Sean Bean in HBO's GAME OF THRONES(2010).
© Helen Sloan/HBO

 

Well of course as everyone knows HBO is adapting Geore R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy “Game of Thrones” into a TV show. Just this week HBO released the first production still from the pilot episode. Obviously not much to judge but there mere fact that there IS a still means that the series is hopefully on target for a Spring 2011 debut. Plenty of time for you to order HBO if you don’t have it already. You can read more at GRRM’s blog: GRRM Blog
 
Slow week in terms of new releases but for Star Wars fans there is reason for excitement…The latest Star Wars novel, Fate of the Jedi: Backlash, is out this week and Dark Horse has a couple of new Star Wars trade paperbacks out this week as well. 
 
The River Kings' Road: A Novel of Ithelas Liane Merciel (Pocket Hardcover)
 
A fragile period of peace between the eternally warring kingdoms of Oakharn and Langmyr is shattered when a surprise massacre fueled by bloodmagic ravages the Langmyrne border village of Willowfield, killing its inhabitants—including a visiting Oakharne lord and his family—and leaving behind a scene so grisly that even the carrion eaters avoid its desecrated earth. But the dead lord’s infant heir has survived the carnage—a discovery that entwines the destinies of Brys Tarnell, a mercenary who rescues the helpless and ailing babe, and who enlists a Langmyr peasant, a young mother herself, to nourish and nurture the child of her enemies as they travel a dark, perilous road . . . Odosse, the peasant woman whose only weapons are wit, courage, and her fierce maternal love—and who risks everything she holds dear to protect her new charge . . . Sir Kelland, a divinely blessed Knight of the Sun, called upon to unmask the architects behind the slaughter and avert war between ancestral enemies . . . Bitharn, Kelland’s companion on his journey, who conceals her lifelong love for the Knight behind her flawless archery skills—and whose feelings may ultimately be Kelland’s undoing . . . and Leferic, an Oakharne Lord’s bitter youngest son, whose dark ambitions fuel the most horrific acts of violence. As one infant’s life hangs in the balance, so too does the fate of thousands, while deep in the forest, a Maimed Witch practices an evil bloodmagic that could doom them all. . . .
 
Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Backlash Aaron Allston (Lucas Books Hardcover)
 
Repercussions from the dark side’s fatal seduction of Jacen Solo and the mysterious plague of madness afflicting young Jedi continue to wreak havoc galaxy-wide. Having narrowly escaped the deranged Force worshippers known as the Mind Walkers and a deadly Sith hit squad, Luke and Ben Skywalker are in pursuit of the now Masterless Sith apprentice. It is a chase that leads to the forbidding planet Dathomir, where an enclave of powerful dark side Force-wielders will give Vestara the edge she needs to escape—and where the Skywalkers will be forced into combat for their quarry and their lives.
 
Meanwhile, Han and Leia have completed their own desperate mission, shuttling madness-stricken Jedi from Coruscant to safe haven in the Transitory Mists and beyond the grasp of Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala. But the bold maneuver has intensified Daala’s fury, and she is determined to shatter Jedi Order resistance once and for all.
   
Yet no greater threat exists than that which still waits in the depths of the distant Maw Cluster: A being of pure, ravenous dark-side energy named Abeloth calls out across the stars to Jedi and Sith alike. For some it may be the ultimate source of answers crucial to their survival. For others it could be the ultimate weapon of conquest. But for all, it is a game-changing—and life-altering—encounter of untold magnitude and a tactical gambit with unimaginable consequences.
 
Planetary Vol. 4: Spacetime Archaeology Warren Ellis (Wildstorm Graphic Novel
 
This is it - the long-awaited fourth and final graphic novel collecting the adventures of Elijah Snow, a powerful, hundred year old man, Jakita Wagner, an extremely powerful but bored woman, and The Drummer, a man with the ability to communicate with machines. Infatuated with tracking down evidence of super-human activity, these mystery archaeologists of the late 20th Century uncover unknown paranormal secrets and histories, such as a World War II supercomputer that can access other universes, a ghostly spirit of vengeance, and a lost island of dying monsters.
 
In this volume, the team encounters an abandoned alien spacecraft -- but will the heroes beat their rival, Jacob Greene of the villainous "Four," to the ship? Then, Elijah Snow begins to pull back from his allies, acting increasingly in secret. Will he be able to draw the last of the Four out of hiding, and can he act before his teammates lose their faith in him? 
 
Caliphate Tom Kratman (Baen)
 
In the near-possible world of Caliphate, Europe is an Islamic stronghold and the staging ground for the Final Jihad against the Great Satan - America!
 
Star Wars: Vector Volume 2 (Dark Horse TPB)
 
Vector is an epic story with repercussions for every era and every hero in the Star Wars galaxy. This is the concluding volume. Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia have to deal with Vector as it crosses their paths and changes the galaxy! On the dark surface of a desolate moon, Luke meets his first Jedi since Obi-Wan Kenobi, only to realize too late that Celeste Morne is far different than his fallen friend - twisted by a Sith Talisman and enraged by Darth Vader! Then, over 135 years later, Cade Skywalker's plan to assassinate Emperor Darth Krayt is aided by a "secret weapon" in the form of Celeste Morne - the Jedi Knight of the Old Republic who is in possession of, and possibly possessed by, the powerful Muur Talisman. Cade and Celeste will change the galaxy - for better, or for worse!
 
Star Wars: Legacy Volume 8 - Tatooine John Ostrander (Dark Horse TPB)
 
One hundred and thirty-three years after the death of Darth Vader, the Skywalker line has reached another low point - in the person of the last living heir, Cade Skywalker. Cade has abandoned his Jedi heritage for plans of quick wealth and a pirate's life. And his actions have attracted all of the wrong kinds of attention. Tracked by Imperial agents and targeted by Black Sun assassins, Cade is run to ground on Tatooine, where his two most famous ancestors had roots. But even if he can evade those who are trying to kill him, Cade can't escape the family legacy. Before this adventure is over, Cade will be forced to think about who he is and who he wants to be - helped along by his mother, his half-sister, and the ghost of Luke Skywalker!
 
Full Moon City Darrell Schweitzer (Pocket)
 
DANGER LURKS IN THE HEART OF THE CITY . . . BUT NOT ALWAYS WHERE YOU EXPECT IT. From New York to Los Angeles to Bucharest, fifteen never-before-published tales by some of the world’s finest fantasy and horror writers celebrate the newest incarnations of an age-old terror that strikes when the moon is full . . . the werewolf. No longer confined to the forests, these modern monsters can be found in places you frequent every day—and never before thought to fear.CARRIE VAUGHN’s popular werewolf radio host Kitty Norville is drawn into a controversy as to whether it’s fair to ban lycanthropy from professional sports. New York’s famous Plaza Hotel is the setting for ESTHER M. FRIESNER’s tale of one very grisly little girl, while Beverly Hills may never quite recover from RON GOULART’s middle-aged Hollywood screenwriter who falls prey to a most unusual problem. Celebrated fantasy author PETER S. BEAGLE tells a chillingly lyrical story of three Louisiana loup garoux locked into a deadly dance of death. Plus many more biting tales from award-winning authors:HOLLY BLACK • P.D. CACEK • GREGORY FROST • TANITH LEE HOLLY PHILLIPS • MIKE RESNICK • DARRELL SCHWEITZER • LISA TUTTLE IAN WATSON • GENE WOLFE • CHELSEA QUINN YARBRO
 
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight Volume 6: Retreat Joss Whedon (Dark Horse TPB)
 
 Buffy Season Eight Volume 6 showcases the first failure of the Slayer legion. Vampires have solid footing at the top of the totem and Slayers have been crushed to the bottom - in short, no one likes Buffy anymore... least of all this season's mysterious Big Bad, Twilight, who is hot on her magical trail! Now that it's the world against Slayers, Buffy must find a way to return the status quo to... status quo - and keep her girls alive long enough to do it! Enter Oz, the only person/werewolf Buffy knows who is down with the suppression of magic, and can take the Slayer army off of Twilight's magic-specific radar. With Oz's assistance the Slayers and Wiccans try to become "normal" through meditation and hard labor - although, not everyone sees the advantage of being magicless, namely, Willow, Giles, and Andrew. And they could be right; after all, is a peaceful life for a Slayer even possible?
 
Reviews
 
The Dark Storm Kris Greene (St. Martins)
 
 
The Dark Storm is the first of a brand new Paranormal Adventure series. I can hear you now…”Just what we need!” Now I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many books in this genre I’ve enjoyed, particularly the ones heavy on adventure with less emphasis on romance. Unfortunately The Dark Storm is not one of them. Kris Greene uses a tried and true epic fantasy plot but transfers it to the modern world. 
 
Gabriel is an ordinary college kid until one day he finds out he’s a descendant of a long line of warriors sworn to protect the world from demonic army. A woman named De Mona Sanchez reveals all this to him and gives him a powerful ancient weapon in which to fight the demonic hordes. Ok, not much points for originality but I’ll take a good re-hash over a lousy original story any day. The trouble is the Dark Storm isn’t very good. The reader is deluged with plots, sub-plots, and a host of major and supporting characters—all crammed into a mere 320 pages.  Greene was simply overly ambitious it seems. 
 
There’s too many ideas, too many overlapping concepts. Greene seemed to blast her entire clip hoping a few would hit their target, and very few do. As a result none of the characters are developed beyond typical stereotypes. The funny thing is that in heroic fantasy, you get almost no stand-alone novels these days…everything is a trilogy or more. But all of these urban/paranormal adventures are self-contained. They may be part of a series but they can all be read on their own. Greene has enough characters and plots for a trilogy but frankly needed an editor to rein her in a bit. Grade C-
 
 
Original Sin Allison Brennan (Ballantine Books)
 
 
Original Sin is yet another start new a series that is definitely more promising. Original Sin is much more grounded in the supernatural and mystery elements and other books of the same ilk. Start with the premise that magic…all magic is evil and used for evil purposes. Moira O’Donnell is a former witch, traumatized by a demonic possession caused by her mother’s malevolent ambitions. She finds refuge within a monastery and there is tutored by the monks to become a demon and witch hunter. Her target? Her own mother! Mom has grown ultra-powerful and plans on opening a portal to Hell to unleash the demons who embody the Seven Deadly Sins. When the ritual goes awry the demons begin to wreak havoc on Earth and Moira has to stop them. 
 
Original Sin is pure good vs. evil; there are no shades of gray here. This may make it a bit two-dimensional but it’s damn fun. Brennan masterfully builds suspense and horror in this genre-bending story. It can qualify as paranormal romance but that’s not a central theme and there’s certainly enough adventure and chills for urban fantasy and horror fans as well. Moira isn’t a female version of Harry Dresden although she is a strong heroic character. Fans of the TV show Supernatural will see some parallels here between Moira and the Winchester brothers.
 
All in all this was a strong start to this new series and one I’d recommend for a anyone interested in these various genres. Grade B+
 
 
Hank Ketcham’s Complete Dennis the Menace Vol. 6 1961 – 1962 (Fantagraphics)
 
 
Yet another reason to love Fantagraphics is their meticulous sequential collections of classic newspaper strips such as Peanuts, and Hank Ketcham’s Dennis the Menace. This volume collects the strips from 1961 – 1962 in a huge 654-page volume. What has always stood out about the Dennis the Menace strips is that they were single panel cartoons. It takes an incredible level of talent write a single panel cartoon and Ketcham was one of the best. Began in 1951, Dennis is still going strong, written and drawn by Ketcham’s assistants.
 
Without Dennis Mitchell, there would have been no Calvin and Hobbes. Dennis is the original precocious kid with a penchant for mischief. How mischievous is Dennis? In one strip, a real estate salesman is explains to his colleagues that it takes a “real salesman” to sell a home in the Mitchell neighborhood. Dennis knows no discretion, often uttering things out loud that horrify his parents…just like any five year-old kid and that’s what makes him so lovable. As an example, as the family is leaving church, Dennis innocently asks the priest, “What are you gonna buy with my dad’s quarter?” as dad sheepishly looks away.
 
Of course, one of the highlights of Dennis the Menace was his tormenting his poor next-door neighbor, Mr. Wilson as he does here by washing the antenna of his car, or collapsing his lounge chair with him still in it! Watch Dennis celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in his usual impish way. Truly a delight that has lost none of its humor in fifty years. Grade A

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