Now who’s this young chap? Me trying my best, and failing, to take things seriously. As was ever the case.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhtQFNZJFiw]
First up is Falcata Times, who say:
If you love fantasy that not only makes you think but presents a tale that will stay with you long after the final page is turned then you really won’t do better than Mark’s Nights of Villjamur. Its got Erikson’s attention to world building, Martin’s politicking and finished off with Gemmell’s combat. Ideal fantasy fodder and from a guy who works in the industry is the type of novel that will perhaps take the genre into a new direction in much the same way that Rothfuss and Lynch have done in more recent years. Cracking fantasy and an excellent start to Mark’s series that left me begging for more, I really can’t wait for his next offering.
And then, a spoilerific write-up which is – shock horror! – not quite full of praise, damn him, over at Neth Space:
The blogs and other review sites are ablaze with seemingly overwhelmingly positive reaction. This is both deserved and troubling with Nights of Villjamur being a strong debut in the world of epic fantasy, but ultimately not the outstanding work the blogger buzz proclaims.
How very dare he not join my ranks. Surely everyone should like the book, no? What does he mean it isn’t outstanding?
Nights of Villjamur is cerebral fantasy.
I like this. I might just leave it there.
The writing, while intelligent, suffers at times from the inability to live up to its aspirations and remain consistent.
Oh “Internet Buzz”, you fickle, fickle mistress. You promised me the world at the start. You whispered sweet things, you tell me I’m the next big thing. We could have been something good, really good, I know it. There were happy times, right? Surely we can give things another go, in a year or so when the next book is out? Now everyone is going to be so disappointed with me and you just leave me out here, cold and alone.
Good lord. Even before the Forbidden Planet signing, I was faced with this:
250 limited editions of Villjamur, for the wonderful bookstore Goldsboro Books, who, after slavishly forcing me through all those copies, rewarded me with wine. I had much fun. 200 of these have already been sold, so there are only a few left – get them while they’re hot, hot, hot!
Then, onto Forbidden Planet, to sign the pre-orders (rare for a new fantasy writer, I’m told) and then out to face what was a surprisingly large queue. I expected very few, but ended up signing for the whole hour, and then other things. Thanks to Liz and Graeme from review blogs, and to everyone else for coming along – I really do appreciate it. And to Julie and Chloe from Tor UK for ensuring I wasn’t going to be sitting on my own. And buying me beer afterwards.
“While the sun over Villjamur is dying, Mark Charan Newton’s star as a writer is burning with a fierce talent.”
How lovely – thanks, Stephen!
Mark’s words are incredible and creating vistas and characters in your mind. You see the scenery, almost as an afterimage, while reading, see the colours, feel the sea spray dusting your face. It’s like as soon as you sit down and start reading a trapdoor opens beneath you and you tumble into the world…
Now, on to the characters and characterization. With one chracter in particular, Mark goes into (as far as I know) unread territory – this character is one of the important POVs in the story, and I was a bit shocked that Mark had taken this particular journey with this character… We are taken into taboo (and I say ‘taboo’ because many still see it as such) territory, a huge chance on Mark’s part, and it works, not only for the character and the story, but for all the genres making up SFF; Mark has loudly and clearly said, “You see? Stop being so afraid. We write about life and this has to stop being ignored and belittled and glossed over. Use it!” His feelings on the matter are probably different, but it’s what I would say to Mark, and I’m pretty sure he would agree.
Geek Planet Online is first up, with an erudite review, spotting many of the references within, which I’m chuffed about. Some snippets (warning: spoilers!)
…impressively avoids the stereotypical cast that typically populate epic fantasy. For example, gay characters like Brynd aren’t new, but what’s impressive about Nights of Villjamur is the way Newton subverts traditional sexual politics. This is a world where we find pretty-boy dance and sword instructors and handsome princesses, and where men are just as likely to prostitute themselves for money as women…
Nights of Villjamur is an excellent novel, and it’s nice to see something new written within the ‘Dying Earth’ subgenre… The writing is evocative and precise, the characterisation intriguing, the plot absorbing and the narrative speedily paced. Nights of Villjamur is a fab start to what looks to be a fascinating series, and if you’re looking for a hot summer read, you really should check out this piece of glacial storytelling.
…a smart and accomplished debut, stylishly wrought, melding a noir detective story with strange creatures like Garudas and Jurro the Dawnir and all-the-while dealing with adult themes and mirroring real-world issues in a way that the fantasy genre doesn’t do often and doesn’t often do well. All-in-all, refreshingly deft storytelling from an author who clearly knows how to write and I look forward to the next in the series.
Enough of the ego. Enough. I’m going to find something useful to blog about now. Stay tuned.
Another review, this time by Gav at Next Read:
…how does Mark Charan Newton taste?
Bet you’re interested now!
Nights is a mix of fantasy, science fiction, dying earth, mystery, crime, politics, coming of age, and genocide to name a few things he’s brought together in a book that’s under 500 pages…
He’s only two novels into his career (this is his debut with a mainstream publisher) and you can tell that Newton is going to stand out. He’s mindful that he needs to create texture and colour to his characters and give them a reason for moving on the page. He’s also put thought into the environment they inhabit…
A wonderfully thoughtful read from a strong writer who has the potential to become an even stronger voice in the future.
We never find out quite how I taste, but there will be an interview coming from Gav in the next week or so, and perhaps we’ll find out then.
Let’s face it: the sun is out in force, and there’s a deadline looming, and finding interesting things to say is not happening. So I’m just going to link to yet another lovely review at The Truth About Books. I like this one: it makes me sound like the Paul McKenna of fantasy (or this chap), in that I write “hypnotic” fantasy. Perhaps a new subgenre?
“Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don’t look around my eyes, look into my eyes, you’re under.”
Hugely intelligent, hypnotic new fantasy…
Nights of Villjamur is an extremely ambitious novel; asking for some serious cranial activity in order for a reader to get into its rhythm. The plotlines are extravagant and elaborately fashioned, with each individual strand eventually falling into its rightful place in the bigger picture and plenty of action, blood, gore and sex to satisfy the most ravenous of readers… an intelligent novel, with subtleties and nuances, darkness and starkness, depth and superficialities and mildly hypnotic; it will slowly wrap itself around you like the coils of a python – squeezing everything else out until only the story exists.
I’m very, very chuffed with this review of Nights of Villjamur over at SFF World, one of the largest Science Fiction and Fantasy review sites on the internet. Here are a few snippets:
Imagine a book that reads like Joe Abercrombie, set in a Jack Vance-like Dying Earth and written with characters the equal of Moorcock and Mieville. Too good to be true? This book might just meet your expectations…
In fact, NoV is a great book, which takes old tropes and re-imagines them into something new and memorable. It is an assured tale written with style, intelligence and skill, written inside a fantastically set premise and brilliantly focused novel that shows all the strengths of the genre and relatively few of the weaknesses…
In summary, though, very highly recommended. Definitely my favourite fantasy of the year so far, in what is a very good year for the genre. This will be a ‘best of the year’ novel, unless I’m much mistaken.
This is a site I really respect, and means a lot. So, erm, woohoo!
A quick reminder about my signing at Forbidden Planet next Thursday, 4th June from 6-7pm. Come. Bring friends. Bring friends’ parents. Bring old ladies off the street. Don’t make me the shifty looking guy on his own loitering at the back of the shop.
At the weekend I signed and quoted and lettered for a limited edition of Nights. If you want to look into more of these, email Carl Marsh on bigfootcomic [at] hotmail [dot] com for details.
And it appears that some venues have begun selling the book. Go! Leave nothing but the finest of five-star reviews. (I’m selfishly thinking of you earning yourself good karma by doing so.)