First up, there’s a review of City of Ruin (because it’s out in June in the US in trade paperback, the UK in mass market paperback), over at Strange Horizons. I link to it because it’s a very honest review, not because it’s full of praise (which it is not); and also because it contains a level of thoroughness that is splendid to receive from time to time.
City of Ruin is not a complete success. There are missteps, and some of them manage to damage the overall experience. There are, also, moments of brilliance. Though they share much of their framework, City of Ruin is a far bolder novel than Nights of Villjamur, and both its highs and the lows are magnified compared to that earlier work. If, in his upcoming The Book of Transformations, Newton can solve the problems displayed here—some disjointed elements and an often heavy hand—it’s not hard to imagine him penning the masterpiece he’s been aiming for before the conclusion of the Legends of the Red Sun quartet.
In other news, I’ve added my name to a list of 85 authors who have complained to the BBC:
The BBC has been attacked for its “sneering coverage” of genre fiction during a World Book Night prgramme. The 85 signatories in a letter to Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, range from Gold Dagger-nominated crime authors such as SJ Bolton, writers of children’s fiction such as Debi Gliori, as well as many fantasy, science fiction and horror authors – from Iain Banks to Michael Moorcock.
And entirely unrelated, since it’s about non-fiction, this blog, Treasure Islands, is an excellent example of how the author has made me want to buy their book by their blogging. Sure the book itself sounds fascinating, but it is superb how the author, Nicholas Shaxson, has stood on his soapbox and shouted into the aether so assiduously – and in a focussed, web 2.0 manner.
You come out of it standing, that’s the thing, Mark. I don’t know what the gestation period of CoR was but I’ll wager a lot less than NoV, unless you have written the entire quartet in rough already, Peter Jackson-like. It’s the test of any fantasy writer with a series, I think, the second book, because in a lot of cases the author might have spent years working on the first. Come the hallowed contract, suddenly you find yourself with less than a year to come up with the goods. Might not be the case for you, but you’ve survived with the second – so onwards and upwards.
My question to you, though, is what on earth is Boris Johnson doing on the cover of City of Ruin?!!!
Thanks, Nick. Yeah, I think I came out of that pretty well.
As for Boris – he’s seeking re-election, so is doing everything in his power to appeal to the masses. Including posing for fantasy novels.
Never thought the guy looked like Boris. Now, of course, I can’t think of him as anything but.
As for the review, which is a very good review, I do have one point to bring up: personally, I didn’t find City of Ruin “heavy handed” at all – another reviewer mentioned an excess of people with issues, but again I didn’t think that’s accurate, either. You touch on issues we see, read and hear about daily, in perhaps more abundance than you include them in your novel. And you write about them with more eloquence and deftness than most others, too. So, I disagree with that bit. (Just in case anyone wanted an alternate opinion.)
Thanks, Stefan. Well, I guess it’s each to their own on all the subtleties to do with a book. I’ve always been amazed at the different interpretations someone can bring to the table, so I’m not particularly bothered by a negative – though I do thank you for your positive! 🙂
Though I agree with some of the review, particularly the idea that City of Ruin is bolder than Nights of Villjamur, I must shallowly admit that, if your first covers looked like this, I never would have picked the series up in the first place. Yes, I picked up Villjamur because I liked the cover.