AUTHOR INFORMATION: Rob J. Hayes was born and brought up in Basingstoke, UK. As a child he was fascinated with Lego, Star Wars and Transformers that fueled his imagination and he spent quite a bit of his growing up years playing around with such. He began writing at the age of fourteen however soon discovered the fallacies of his work. After four years at University studying Zoology and three years working for a string of high street banks as a desk jockey/keyboard monkey Rob lived on a desert island in Fiji for three months. It was there he re-discovered his love of writing and, more specifically, of writing fantasy.
OFFICIAL BLURB:The Colour of Vengeance is the second book of the debut trilogy, The Ties that Bind by Rob J. Hayes.
Beaten, battered and damned near broken with a bounty on his head so large he’s tempted to turn himself in, the Black Thorn finds himself on trial for the crime of being him. Despite the impending probability of death he has but one thought on his mind; taking revenge against the Arbiter who took his eye.
In order to carry out his vengeance Thorn must first escape Sarth and recruit a new crew, each one with their own designs on revenge.
FORMAT/INFO: The Colour of Vengeance is divided into three sections with forty-three POV chapters and an epilogue. The narration is in third person via Betrim Thorn aka The Black Thorn, Henry, Joshua the Templar, Pern Suzku the Haarin, and Anders. This is the second book of the Ties That Bind trilogy.
April 14, 2013 marked the US and UK e-book publication of The Colour of Vengeance and was self-published by the author. Cover art is provided by Julio Real.
CLASSIFICATION: The Ties that Bind is a dark fantasy trilogy with terrific characterization and a twisted plotline that is very reminiscent of the works by Joe Abercrombie, David Dalglish and Scott Lynch.
ANALYSIS: After finishing The Heresy Within, I couldn’t wait to see what happens next and immediately bought the second book and began reading. To my delight I read the blurb and saw that it focussed on the Black Thorn who along with Jezzet was my favorite character so far. A warning though before I begin my review, the start of the book is spoierlish for the climax of The Heresy Within so if you haven’t read it or don’t mind a minor spoiler, then read on.
At the ending of The Heresy Within, we are presented with an ending that is shocking to say the least and so with The Color Of Vengeance, we begin with Betrim Thorn who has been imprisoned after his failed attack on the Arbiter Kessick. Awakening in a dank corner he recalls his failed fight and the vital organ he lost. He manages to find his way out his most recent impediment and goes back to the wilds wherein he knows what to expect. Pern Suzku is a Haarin, warriors who take contracts to guard people who can afford their services. Among the Haarin, he is considered to be one of the best if not the best one. His newest client however might be one to force Pern to reconsider what it means to be a Haarin. With the Black Thorn’s escape, the inquisition decides to send a new type of person to deliver their verdict. Jacob Lee is the person chosen for the task and he’s a Templar with a penchant for dancing and seeing through lies. Lastly all these characters are heading towards Solantis wherein he’ll meet up with some of his past and a reckoning for the future.
There are a few other characters from the preceding volume who make their appearances as well but I’m hoping that the readers RAFO about them. But to put it mildly, The Colour of Vengeance simply blows away The Heresy Within and is safe to say the better book of the two. Once again the main reason is the characterization and as with the last book, it’s the POV characters that make it such fun to read. Beginning with the Black Thorn, Suzku, Jacob, Henry and the non-POV characters, mostly everyone is a two-faced killer and even harder to judge. The author marvels in creating a volatile situation in the city of Solantis and to add to that are all these hot-headed killers and deadly warriors that are headed towards a violent finish. While this does seem a bit generic in the sense that cool characters come together and fight, what differentiates this book from the riff-raff is that the author creates a fantastic storyline wherein every new chapter adds to the tension and keeps the plot simmering all the way to its action-packed climax.
I can’t stress how terrific these characters are but think of all the bad-ass, grey characters we know from ASOIAF, the First Law trilogy, the works of David Gemmell and David Dalglish, simply put we get similar bad-ass rogues here and they will absolutely keep you riveted. Secondly the dialogue and action sequences are top-notch, with the variety of characters that fill in the pages, dialogue becomes crucial and the author doesn’t disappoint with his gems from time to time. The action is also considerably amped up and for those who can’t get enough of it; this book should very well fulfill all your cravings. Also this book introduces a bit more of the secondary characters including a certain pirate who becomes a monumental figure in the overall happenings as well gives a clue about the overall world and therefore expands the story from its simple trapping of being a revenge saga.
Negative points about this book are almost next to none, perhaps the reappearance of all the characters from the previous book can be thought of more than simply coincidental as the story makes it out to be. The author could have smoothened this bit of the story but the way it all happens I didn’t mind it. I didn’t have any other complaints about this book and it’s safe to say that this is a dark fascinating gem of a sequel.
CONCLUSION:The Color Of Vengeance is not simply a revenge saga, no more than The Lies of Locke Lamora is simply a story of thieves. It’s much more than that and possibly the best fantasy book I’ve read so far in 2013. Don’t take my word for it and start reading this series to see why I think Rob J. Hayes is the next fantastic Brit addition to the field of dark, gritty fantasy and another Indie gem after last year’s Anthony Ryan.
It is a controversial topic. Amazon will sell fan fiction as long as the intellectual property holder agrees. The fan fiction writer will receive 35 percent of the profits—for stories more than 10,000 words—and the rest of the profits will be split between Amazon and the intellectual property owner.
As of this moment, Amazon has received permission to publish fan fiction written in the universes of The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, and Gossip Girl.
Imagine. What if George R. R. Martin allowed fan fiction in his Wild Cards universe? What if Naomi Novik allowed fan fiction in her Temeraire dragon series? What if the estate of David Eddings allowed for more Sparhawk stories?
Is that a good thing? A bad thing? Does it matter as long as the author condones it? Should readers care?
Fan fiction can be quite dangerous. At least that’s my opinion after one experience with it many years ago. In 1996, I began a dedication website devoted toward the work of bestselling author Terry Brooks. The internet(s) was at its infancy then. I learned how to hand code HTML. I grew my skills as a graphic designer with the most rudimentary software. And I loved every minute of it.
I had been a long-time fan of Terry’s work by that point. The website was my way of connecting with other fans. At that time, there were only eight Shannara novels. The original three. A four-book set. And a prequel. Early visitors of my website yearned for more stories featuring the Druid Walker. I have to admit, so did I.
One day, for some reason that escapes me but likely resides within that desire for another Walker tale, I decided to write. I had written on and off at that point for five or six years and had limited ability. I wrote the opening chapter of a new Shannara story featuring Walker, set a hundred years after the events of The Talismans of Shannara, where the Druid was called upon to counter a new evil to the Four Lands. Looking back on it, it wasn’t very good.
But at the time, I didn’t know. I posted it on the Terry Brooks dedication website.
The response was immediate. The Terry Brooks fans who had already begun frequenting the website read what I had written—and loved it. Every one wanted to know when the new Walker Boh story was going to be published.
They thought Terry had written it.
On one hand, it was a huge compliment. I would draw on that day and the huge compliment those fans had inadvertently given me when I decided to begin my own writing career. The danger that I learned though was this:
Fan fiction colors the original intent of the intellectual property owner.
I doubt I will ever sanction fan fiction set in any world I create. I’m possessive that way, I guess. I know many other authors who feel the same way. But there are authors who will accept the terms Amazon has given. They will let fans write in their worlds and grow those worlds with no supervision.
So, it begs the question: Would you buy sanctioned fan fiction based in your favorite writers’ worlds?
Elliot and Maxwell Edge wonder if the makers of The Matrix and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World are on to something: Is life really just a big, hyperrealistic video game? They’re trying to fund a documentary to find out.
IF life actually IS a video game then the Big Question boils down to: “How do we play?” Is progress measured in the items, keys, coins, weapons, tunics, influence, and damsels we accumulate? Is our progress based on how much of the map we’ve crawled over or how many enemies and bosses we’ve annihilated on the road? Or could there be a more subtle system to leveling-up? Is life based on experience points? Is something along the lines of karma worth considering or are we in a straight-up survival horror game and all bets are off? What’s the strategy? What works? What’s the point? Is there even such a thing as progress at all? Does it evolve? What if it gets turned off? Can that even happen? WAIT! WHAT!? WHY!? Well, in the large friendly letters of Saint Douglas Adams, “Don’t panic.”
Life is a Video Game will explore not only the science of digital physics but also philosophy, metaphysics, consciousness, free will, subjectivity, mind, dreams, and even the paranormal.
The Edges are using the concept of a video game to investigate a fairly complicated topic: Simulation Theory. Essentially, the idea is that what we’re living in – the world as we know it – isn’t actually real. We might be plugged into a machine somewhere, or maybe we’re part of a computer program that our descendants are running to see that life was like in the early 21st century. We might even be part of some kind of strange, digital afterlife.
There’s no way to know for sure – at least as far as I know – although some people theorize that everything from UFOs to deja vu can be attributed to “glitches in the Matrix”. It’s a fun idea….or a scary one, depending on your own philosophical bent. It can be a dangerous idea, too. How would you live if you really thought that life was a simulation? How would you interpret events around you? Would you think that articles like this might be subtle messages attempting to wake you up to the artificial reality around you? Are they?
What’s the appeal of Halloween? Why do we—in some parts of the world—make a holiday out of the dark and mysterious, the sinister, the creepy? Why is dark magic such a popular concept in fiction of all kinds—and ghosts, and vampires, and the undead?
I can’t answer these questions, nor can I tell you precisely why Halloween has always been my favourite holiday of the year. I can’t even tell you why, a little over a year ago, I turned away from the colourful fairytale novella I had in mind and started writing something infinitely darker and creepier instead. It was a week or two after Halloween when I started writing. A dense fog had come rolling in the night before, the sort of dark, dripping fog through which the world can be seen only in silhouette. It stayed for almost a week. I spent the time writing about a dark, cold city called Ekamet, surrounded by a vast, sinister, fog-drenched forest known colloquially as the Bones.
This wasn’t anywhere near enough creepy, so I created Konrad Savast: an idle gentleman of wealth by day, a murder detective and authorised vigilante by night. In this secret life, he is the Malykant: chief mortal servant of the high spirit of Death (a kind of god). During that foggy week, the Malykant Mysteries was born: a series of dark and creepy mystery novellas which stand quite distinct from any of my other work.
Konrad’s job is somewhat controversial. As the Malykant, his role is not only to identify the perpetrator of the ultimate crime, but also to dispatch that person for judgement by The Malykt—by killing them. It’s a brutal, eye-for-an-eye kind of justice, and bearing sole responsibility for carrying it out naturally creates a range of difficulties for Konrad. It’s a lonely, isolated life, a horrific job—and what if he gets it wrong? Fortunately for him, he has a regular friend and confidante in Irinanda Falenia, a local apothecary. She has a number of secrets of her own, which she flatly refuses to share; but she helps Konrad solve the mysteries, keeps him company, and helps to keep him sane (and humble!) while he does it.
These stories are structured more like a television series than a novel. Each “episode” is relatively short and self-contained, with a new mystery to solve and a new killer to identify in each one. But there are a number of over-arching mysteries surrounding Konrad’s past, and Irinanda’s present, which continue through each title, and I’m gradually revealing more information with each book. Nanda isn’t just an apothecary: who does she really work for? How did Konrad end up as the Malykant anyway? Why did he accept such an appalling job? Where does he really come from? And what happens if, someday, he kills the wrong person?
In terms of genre, they are very dark indeed—not just because of the subject matter, but also because of the setting. They take place in the great city of Ekamet, which is located in the fictional realm of Assevan. The climate and elements of the culture are Russian-inspired (as evidenced by titles such as The Rostikov Legacy and The Ivanov Diamond). The weather is usually cold, frequently bitterly so; the days quickly grow dark, and Konrad does a great deal of his work at night. The surrounding Bone Forest is named for its craggy, pale, bare trees. It is often covered in snow and ice; in better weather it turns wet and marshy. Most of the people of Ekamet avoid it, but Konrad possesses a hut out there—raised on stilts to avoid the wet and the ice—and over the course of the series, the forest is revealed to possess rather more secret presences than even he suspected.
Irinanda comes from a different country, however: the neighbouring realm of Marja, which is loosely based on Finland. It, too, is cold and dark, so Nanda wouldn’t have felt too uncomfortable on relocating to Ekamet. She owns a shop in Konrad’s home city, and she’s settled there; but her family remains in Marja, and we briefly meet her mysterious and mystical mother in one of the early Malykant titles. Nanda rarely returns home, but she and Konrad will be visiting Marja in an upcoming story.
I almost always include some kind of animal companions in my books, and these are no exception—though given the dark atmosphere of these titles, it couldn’t be anything too cute, right? Okay, there’s an element of cute in Irinanda’s golden-furred (and strangely intelligent) monkey companion, Weveroth. But Konrad’s helpmates are snakes—dead ones. Eetapi and Ootapi are ghosts sent by Konrad’s Master to assist him in his work. Being shades, they are stealthy and sneaky—and also sarcastic, at times. Neither one is remotely cuddly.
As of the time of writing, there are three titles finished: The Rostikov Legacy, The Ivanov Diamond and Myrrolen’s Ghost Circus. These first titles are focused mostly on Konrad’s life and past; a fourth title in this sequence is scheduled to appear sometime around the end of the summer, and I’ll be publishing a compendium edition in paperback around that time. After that, it’s Irinanda’s turn for the spotlight. She’ll finally have to share some of those secrets she’s been sitting on (sorry, Nanda).
I envision this to be a long-running series, as there is plenty of room for more stories; and someday, if I run out of things to say about Konrad and Irinanda, I’ll let poor Konrad retire to his chicken-legged hut in the Bone Forest and we’ll have a new Malykant. I still don’t quite know why I write these stories, but one way or another I enjoy them. They feel like holidays in between long novels, which is a little disturbing—why would I choose to take a holiday in such a cold, dark world? The mind is a strange place.
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Born in the historic city of Lincoln, UK, Charlotte now lives in the heart of windmill country in the Netherlands. She has a degree in Heritage, and her interests include books, crafts, cooking and social history. She likes to write whimsical, colourful tales full of character and humour.
NOTE: Author picture and book covers courtesy of the author. Halloween picture courtesy of Leawo.com
The Alloy of Law reviews are pouring in, but sadly the biggest news is the passing of Anne McCaffrey. We have lost one of the greats. Her craft will be continued by the current crop of talented fantasy authors, and you can check out interviews with a few current greats like R.A. Salvatore, Patrick Rothfuss, Lev Grossman, Terry Brooks and Daniel Abraham below. Also, Brandon Sanderson talks about writing the Infinity Blade novella. Cool stuff.
In support of the May 21, 2013 North American publication of Ian Cameron Esslemont’s “Blood and Bone” and the Blood and Bone Blog Tour, Tor has agreed to give away ONE SET of the following Malazan Empire titles by the author:
Night of Knives (Trade Paperback)
Return of the Crimson Guard (Trade Paperback)
Stonewielder (Trade Paperback)
Orb Sceptre Throne (Trade Paperback)
Blood and Bone (Hardcover)
To enter, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your Name, Mailing Address, and the subject: MALAZAN. Giveaway ends Friday, June 28, 2013 – 11:59AM PST and is open to North American Residents Only. Thank you for entering and Good Luck!
1) Open To North American Residents Only
2) Only One Entry Per Household (Multiple Entries Will Be Disqualified)
3) Must Enter Valid Email Address, Mailing Address + Name
4) No Purchase Necessary
5) Giveaway Will End June 28, 2013 – 11:59AM PST
6) Winners Will Be Randomly Selected and Notified By Email
7) Personal Information Will Only Be Used In Mailing Out the Prizes to the Winners