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Weekly Book Buzz: Kolchak: Tales of the Nightstalker

We Review The Paintings of J. Allen St. John & More

By Tim Janson     January 10, 2010


Kolchak: Tales of the Nightstalker
© Moonstone Publishing

 

Not a lot of major releases out his week although last week’s slate should have kept you busy for a while. I’ve got three really outstanding titles this week in our review section, especially for those of you who are fans of fantasy art…kind of the best of the classic and the modern. We also have a new urban fantasy Spellbent for review which was surprisingly good. I say surprising because we’re seeing so many of these urban fantasies/paranormal romances out lately and most are indistinguishable from the rest. Spellbent only tight-ropes the line of paranormal romance. I think it’s a book that the guys will enjoy just as well as the ladies.
 
I do want to point out small comic publisher Moonstone who has been quietly putting out comics and novels based on the 1970s Made-For-TV film and TV series, Kolchak the Nightstalker. These feature the adventures of monster-hunting reporter Carl Kolchak and Moonstone has done a nice job with their series and have a new book out this week.
 
New In Fantasy
 
Jarvis: the Sorcerer's Apprentice Jesper Ejsing (Fantasy Flight)
 
Jarvis can hardly believe his own luck: the sorcerer Harnigel has chosen him as his apprentice! The entire village is astonished - the son of a goat herder, a sorcerer? What would such a simple boy know about magic?
 
Jarvis will soon learn the secrets of the Elder Tongue, of the Ledian Runes and of incantations and wizardry he thought belonged only to fairy tales.
Yet, Jarvis' own story is soon to take a dark, mysterious turn. Why are there so many apprentices in Harnigel's keep? Who was the keep's mistress and why did she disappear? Why has an emissary arrived from the Red Council? What is behind the dangerous test Harnigel is preparing for his most capable apprentices?
 
The Steel Remains Richard K. Morgan (Del Rey)
 
The dark lord will rise. Such is the prophecy that dogs Ringil Eskiath—Gil, for short—a washed-up mercenary and onetime war hero whose cynicism is surpassed only by the speed of his sword. Gil is estranged from his aristocratic family, but when his mother enlists his help in freeing a cousin sold into slavery, Gil sets out to track her down. But it soon becomes apparent that more is at stake than the fate of one young woman. Grim sorceries are awakening in the land. Some speak in whispers of the return of the Aldrain, a race of widely feared, cruel yet beautiful demons. Now Gil and two old comrades are all that stand in the way of a prophecy whose fulfillment will drown an entire world in blood. But with heroes like these, the cure is likely to be worse than the disease.
 
 
The Queen of Hearts Daniel Homan (Prime Books)
 
One question remains: Did it begin or end in theft? His mother, taken before memory, his father, disappeared in the Manor where Asriael rules, home of the Great Game, where lives are antes and countries divided by mere hands, where the deed to the Slants was bet and lost so many years ago. The underground wizards of the Slants had trained Renue in the high arts, as an expert in disguise, a deadly fighter, a daring card player. His mission was to infiltrate the Manor and win back the deed so that Asriael's dark magic could finally be unraveled and the people freed. But inside the Manor, Renue meets a mysterious young woman called the Queen of Hearts who seems to hold the secrets to his parents' fate. When Asriael is murdered and the mission betrayed, Renue and the Queen must flee the Manor, the Black Thing on their trail. As the other great lords vie for power, amid chaos and war, Renue must protect the Queen while they search for an ancient magic to end the nightmare of Asriael's black revenge.
 
New in Sci-Fi
 
  
The Spirit Banner (Rogue Angel) Alex Archer (Gold Eagle)
 
Genghis Khan carved out a legacy of bloodshed and conquered kingdoms that has lasted almost eight hundred years. But while his name and deeds live on in the annals of history, his tomb has never been located… until now.
Not everyone is convinced that the diary and the map, said to lead to the great warrior's final resting place, are authentic. Archaeologist Annja Creed is among these doubters. The reality is that the body was lost to history. But despite her skepticism, Annja suddenly finds herself pulled along an increasingly complex trail of clues, each more remote than the last.
 
And as she and her companions race to their final destination, one thing is clear—the only tomb she may find is her own….
 
Prophecy (Deathlands) James Axler (Gold Eagle)
 
After the nuclear winter, the taint of humanity worsened in the raw blood-quest for survival. Hunger for jack and power now fuels traders and barons, who relinquish authority only through death, crushing everything in their path. Still, a handful seek a better way of life, where iron fists and ordnance are replaced by harmony, justice and fair trade.
 
Separated by fate and a freak storm in the shifting landscape of the Great Plains , the companions find themselves on a path of strange prophecy. Here, Native American tribes embrace a peaceful, sacred way of life the travelers have only imagined. Still, Deathlands is a place with no reverence for ease or peace; the land was once the clandestine sanctuary of preDark science. Are Ryan Cawdor and his warrior survivalists destined to fulfill a vision-quest foretold by the shamans…or take a final, fatal plunge into the grim reality of a shattered world?
 
Starfishers Volume 1: Shadowline Glen Cook (Night Shade Books)
 
The vendetta in space had started centuries before "Mouse" Storm was born with his grandfather's raid on the planet Prefactlas, the blood bath that freed the human slaves from their Sangaree masters. But one Sangaree survived - the young Norborn heir, the man who swore vengeance on the Storm family and their soldiers, in a carefully mapped plot that would take generations to fulfill. Now Mouse's father Gneaus must fight for an El Dorado of wealth on the burning half of the planet Blackworld. As the great private armies of all space clash on the narrow Shadowline that divides inferno from life-sheltering shade, Gneaus' half- brother Michael plays his traitorous games, and a man called Death pulls the deadly strings that threaten to entrap them all - as the Starfishers Trilogy begins.
 
New in Horror
 
Army Of Darkness: Hellbillies & Deadnecks (Dynamite Graphic Novel)
 
Continuing the all-new adventures of "Ash," the hero from Army of Darkness! In Volume 9, writer Mike Raicht, along with artist Scott Cohn present "Hillbilles and Deadnecks" (issues #13-17) collected here for the very first time. This trade paperback collection also includes a complete cover gallery, featuring the work of Fabiano Neves and Stjepan Sejic.
 
Kolchak: Tales Of The Night Stalker - The Rise & Fall Of Carl Kolchak (Moonstone Graphic Novel)
 
"The seatbelt light is off, feel free to move about the country" is the theme here, as Kolchak's gaining popularity sends him to Seattle , New Orleans , and even to Egypt . But who, or what, has set up our downtrodden reporter's lucky streak, and what sends him headlong into his downward spiral? This collection of Tales of the Night Stalker issues #1-7 pits Kolchak against plant monsters, a man-eating shadow, gremlins, Sasquatch, a mummified vampire, Bloody Mary, and even a beautifully seductive demon from Hell!
 
Mr. Shivers Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit Hardcover)
 
Southern writer Robert Jackson Bennett presents a pulpy, Great Depressionhorror story where a mysterious killer "trails death behind him." After his daughter is brutally murdered, a revenge-seeking Marcus Connelly leaves Memphis on a hunt across America 's hobo camps and ghost towns for the grotesquely scarred, ghostly figure known as "Mr. Shivers." On his quest Connelly teams up with a scrappy band of hobos recovering from their own brushes with "the gray man," and the body count increases as they ride the rails tracking their target.
 
Dark Dreams: The World of Anime Horror Jim Harper (Noir)
 
As a companion to the successful Flowers from Hell published by Noir in June 2008, with Dark Dreams, Jim Harper now casts a critical eye over the equally outre phenomenon that is the prolific Japanese Anime & Manga genre. With a comprehensive introduction to the genre from the early 1980 s right up to the present day, Harper dissects the diverse field of anime horror to reveal a myriad of exhilarating works. Including core films such as Wicked City, Demon City Shinjuku, Vampire Hunter D, Blood:The Last Vampire, Perfect Blue & Hellsing, together with controversial works such as Urotsukidoji - Legend of the Overfiend & La Blue Girl, Dark Dreams will leave the reader salivating for the excesses on show, many of which are either full or mini-series, making them frequently longer than their live action counterparts.
 
The Chill HC Jason Starr (DC/Vertigo Hardcover)
 
A modern thriller set in New York City , THE CHILL is steeped in Irish mythology. A broken-down cop tracks a seductive killer who possesses the supernatural - and very deadly - power known as "The Chill." It's a power that provides her eternal life by absorbing the sexual energy of her victims. And he may be the next victim!
 
Reviews
The Paintings of J. Allen St. John Stephen D. Korshak (Vanguard Productions)
 
I grew up as a huge fan of Frank Frazetta. In fact I credit Frazetta’s covers to the Ace Conan novels for igniting my interest in fantasy literature. Frazetta has influence untold legions of artists but I’ve often wondered who he was influence by…The answer is in Vanguard Production’s The Paintings of J. Allen St. John, the second St. John collection from Vanguard. St. John provided the fertile background of adventure illustration when the genre was just taking off. In a time before TV and when the film industry was still in its infancy, it was St. John who brought Tarzan to life in his exciting cover and interior illustrations to the early novels written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Here you can clearly see influence he had on Frazetta, Jeff Jones, Boris, and many others. And speaking of Frazetta, he provides the afterword to the edition.
Vanguard’s book presents hundreds of St. John’s illustrations in this gorgeous edition. We also learn about the man and his career. He was born into a family of noted artists that included his mother and grandfather. Also included are many rare photos of St. John, including one when he was just six years old in 1881. Some of the pics even show St. John with some of the paintings that appear in this book. Besides Tarzan, St. John also illustrated several of Burroughs’ John Carter, Warlord of Mars novels as well as his 1914 Sci-Fi classic, At the Earth’s Core.
St. John was also one of the preeminent pulp magazine artists, producing covers for Amazing Stories, Weird Tales, Fantastic Adventures, and Magic Carpet. The book reprints many of these classic covers including one Weird Tales cover from 1936 that featured St. John illustration for a Robert E. Howard story. The quality of art reproduced here is absolutely outstanding although I’d expect no less from Vanguard. The book is printed on high-quality, thick glossy stock. St. John is truly worthy of the title of Grand Master of Fantasy! Grade A.

Sirens: The Imaginative Worlds of Chris Achilleos (Titan Books)
 
From a past master of fantasy we turn our attentions to one of the modern masters, Chris Achilleos. Originally published in 1986, Sirens is back in print courtesy of Titan Books and features 128 pages in full-color. Achilleos has produced work for many different venues over the years from covers to books and gaming materials to film posters and album covers.
As the title suggests, Sirens includes many examples of Achilleos’ ladies, including Miss America, Birth of a Vampire, and the warrior-queen Boadicea. It was Achilleos’ who provided the legendary painting of Taarna for the animated film, Heavy Metal. He also did posters for Grease Two, Supergirl, and Blade Runner. He also is a noted pin-up artist and many examples of his sexy and erotic art are included as well. 
I always like when an art collection book provides the medium in which the artist worked for each piece of art included and thankfully, Titan doesn’t disappoint with details provided for each illustration. About the only negative I can find is that it would have been nice to include some revised and current info rather than a straight re-printing of Sirens, but it’s still a great collection and great to have in print again. Grade B+
Spellbent Lucy A. Snyder (Del Rey)
 
Spellbent is a new urban fantasy and debut novel from Snyder. Yay! Just what we need…more urban fantasy about modern wizards…but wait…something happened on my way to figuring I’d rip the book out of spite…it turned out to be quite good. Go figure! Snyder crafts a tale that while perhaps not being entirely original, is fun, exciting, and mixed with humor.        We have aspiring wizard Jessie Shimmer who is being trained by her lover, Cooper. When a botched spell goes very awry, Cooper is sucked away by a mystical portal to another dimension leaving Jessie to fight off a powerful demon. Jessie will get no help from governing circle of magicians who in fact brand her an outcast and would prefer that Cooper stay gone. Jessie will have to rely on her wits, fists, and burgeoning skills to rescue her lover.
Spellbent doesn’t go overboard with the love and sex angle…this is a magic/action novel first. Jessie is a strong female protagonist and remarkably resilient. Snyder certainly doesn’t play her as a helpless female! She’s also extremely likable, boding well for the success of a series. Yes there’s obviously a bit of Jim Butcher/Harry Dresden influence, but you could choose worse series to try and emulate. The bookstore shelves are crowded with books in this genre but this is one that demands to be read. Grade A-

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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LittleNell1824 1/10/2010 4:54:08 PM

Thanks for the Spellbent review! I'll have to try that one.

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