Here is a message from Terry Pratchett posted on Paul Kidby’s site today:


I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s, which lay behind this year’s phantom “stroke”.

We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there’s time for at least a few more books yet :o)

PS I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as ‘I am not dead’. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think – it’s too soon to tell. I know it’s a very human thing to say “Is there anything I can do”, but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry.

This is very sad news for Terry Pratchett, his family, and his many fans. I was very sad to hear about this – it’s a tragedy for this to happen to anybody, but it’s especially heartbreaking when it happens to somebody as clever and witty as Terry Pratchett is.

Brandon Sanderson, author of Elantris and the Mistborn series, has been chosen to finish the last Wheel of Time book, A Memory of Light. Robert Jordan’s wife Harriet made the selection and personally asked Sanderson to work on the book. Of course, being a huge fan of Jordan’s work from the age of 15, Sanderson accepted the offer.

I have yet to read anything by Sanderson, although I really, really, really want to read both Elantris and the Mistborn books, but I was rather surprised to hear such a new author was chosen for this massive undertaking. Many will think Sanderson has some pretty big shoes to fill and this sounds like a rather daunting task with the many fans and high expectations. Congratulations and best of luck to Brandon Sanderson on this endeavor.

More information on the news:

The Winter KingThe Winter King

The Winter King
by Bernard Cornwell
433pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 8/10
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.02/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.2/5

The Winter King, the first book in the Warlord Chronicles trilogy by Bernard Cornwell, is usually referred to as a fantasy book since it is about the legend of King Arthur but leans more toward the category of historical fiction. Merlin, Lancelot, Guinevere, and, of course, Arthur, are still featured characters, but the story is not full of magic and is a realistic retelling of the familiar tale. It is similar to what Jack Whyte did with his series the Camulod Chronicles, although Cornwell’s story is completely different, much grittier, and (at least so far) even less fantastic. The Winter King is not at all a traditional fantasy story any more than it is a traditional Arthur story.

Derfel, an old monk who once swore allegiance to Arthur and served in his army, risks the wrath of Bishop Sansum by writing the story of Arthur at his patroness’s request. Since the bishop believes the story of this “enemy of God” should be forgotten, Derfel has to pretend to be translating the Gospel into the Saxon language. Derfel’s story begins with his time as a young man who lived among the many orphans rescued by Merlin. At this time, the High King Uther has fallen ill and his son is dead, so the only hope of a successor is Uther’s grandson, who has not yet been born. The baby, named Mordred after his father, barely survives and is born a cripple, which is considered to be a bad omen. Uther’s bastard son, the warlord Arthur, and other men are sworn into the service of protecting Mordred and ensuring he ascends to the throne when he is of age. Uther’s death leads to civil unrest throughout the land, since there is no High King and many of the kings would like to have that title.

Upon being forced by one of these would-be kings to flee his home at the Tor, Derfel meets and befriends the charismatic Arthur who comes to the rescue of him and the others who had to leave their residence. Once he has made his wish to become a great warrior known to the warlord, Derfel is disappointed when Arthur arranges for him to serve another man, although Arthur promises him that once he has more experience he can be part of his army. Derfel forges his reputation as a mighty warrior, and Arthur keeps his promise, allowing Derfel to observe the political turmoil that surrounds Arthur.

This story of Arthur is not for the faint of heart. It is dark and gritty, full of betrayal and bloodshed. Women are raped, people do die, and body parts are cut off. I have often heard this series compared to George R.R. Martin’s well known A Song of Ice and Fire series for the level of grit involved, and this is a valid comparison. Anyone who tried to read A Song of Ice and Fire and found it too dark and depressing should avoid this book like its pages contain the plague.

Another part of this book that may be daunting to some is a few of the place and people names. They are largely Welsh, and sometimes the consonant to vowel ratio will make you stop and wonder how it can possibly be pronounced. The worst one I came across was “Wynebgwrthucher,” but fortunately that one only appeared the one time.

Those looking for a somewhat traditional account of King Arthur will want to look for a different book. The setting is not medieval – events take place in the 6th century. Arthur is not a king but a warlord. Although he is kind and peace-seeking, he also can be quite rash and selfish, as evidenced by his choice to spurn his betrothed for another, angering her father, one of the kings. Lancelot is not a great warrior but a coward who coerces bards to sing his praises even though he sits on the sidelines during wars and comes home with feigned injuries.

Nimue, Merlin, and other Druids play a strong role, but their powers appear to be nonexistent and feared for superstitious reasons. Spells are cast, but they are always for protection or luck – no one is casting lightning bolts or making any obvious magical modifications to the world despite their dramatic displays.

The book starts out slow, but once Arthur showed up, I felt the story was no longer crawling along. Derfel is a very realistically portrayed and likable character, and Arthur and Merlin (on the few occasions he shows up) are very well-depicted as well.

There was not a cliffhanger ending to this book, but it is obviously not complete since Derfel makes references to events not in this book in his conversations with his patroness at the beginning of each section of his story. I have yet to read the other two books, but it is definitely not a book that feels complete in and of itself, although it is also not a book with an annoying ending that makes you ticked off when you do not have the next book immediately at hand.

The Winter King is recommended to fans of historical fiction or those who would like to read a story about Arthur that really could have happened – as long as they do not mind a lot of grit and blood and enjoy lots of political intrigue and long battles.


I’ve been looking around for interesting books for presents this year and thought I’d list some of the more interesting ones in case others are also looking for fantasy and science fiction book gifts that are more special than books you can get from a nearby bookstore. All the books below are autographed and are divided into price ranges ($100+, $50 – $99.99, and under $50). Be aware to pay attention to the instructions on any books ordered from DreamHaven, as sometimes you have to specify if you want a signed version of the book when you place your order.

Happy holiday shopping! I’d like to get some of these for myself… But I must resist – I need to get gifts for other people instead!


  • Clive Barker Imajica Signed and Numbered First U.S. Edition Hardcover ($100) – More info here
  • Steven Brust To Reign in Hell First Edition Hardcover Signed and Numbered ($300) – More info here
  • Octavia Butler Fledgling First Edition Hardcover Signed ($175) – More info here
  • Ursula K. Le Guin The Left Hand of Darkness First Thus Hardcover signed ($120) – More info here
  • Terry Pratchett Pyramids First Edition Hardcover Signed ($150) – More info here
  • Dan Simmons The Fall of Hyperion First Edition Hardcover Signed ($125) – More info here
  • Jack Vance The Dying Earth First Edition Mass Market Paperback Signed ($200) – More info here
  • Vernor Vinge A Fire Upon the Deep First Edition Hardcover Signed ($145) – More info here


  • Clive Barker Imajica Signed First Edition Hardcover ($50) – More info here
  • John Crowley Little, Big First Edition Trade Paperback ($85) – More info here
  • Robert Asprin and Phil Foglio Myth Adventures One (comic book) First edition hardcover signed ($60) – More info here
  • Ellen Kushner Thomas the Rhymer First edition hardcover signed ($60) – More info here
  • Scott Lynch The Lies of Locke Lamora signed limited edition starting at $95 – More info
  • George R.R. Martin Wildcards #1 – #4 First Edition Signed by Martin ($54.10) – More info here
  • Terry Pratchett Interesting Times First Edition Hardcover Signed ($50) – More info here
  • Spider Robinson Callahan and Company First Edition Hardcover Signed and Inscribed ($50) – More info here
  • Gene Wolfe Fifth Head of Cerberus First Edition Signed with letter to Dickson ($60) – More info here


  • Peter S. Beagle The Last Unicorn: The Lost Version Signed and Numbered Limited Edition ($35) –More info here
  • Steven Brust To Reign in Hell First Printing Mass Market Paperback Signed (to author Gordon R. Dickson) ($15) – More info here
  • Lois McMaster Bujold The Curse of Chalion Hardcover signed ($10) – More info here
  • Storm Constantine The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit First Edition Hardcover Signed ($42) – More info
  • Hal Duncan The Book of All Hours #1: Vellum Signed First Edition Hardcover ($40) – More info here
  • David Anthony Durham The War with the Mein #1: Acacia First Edition Hardcover ($26.95) – More info here
  • Steven Erikson The Healthy Dead Limited Edition hardcover Leatherbound, signed, and numbered ($45) – More info here
  • Steven Erikson The Bonehunters Trade Paperback Signed by Steven Erikson and cover artist Todd Lockwood ($5) – More info here
  • Neil Gaiman American Gods Hardcover signed ($26) – More info here
  • Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett Good Omens Second Edition Hardcover black signed by Gaiman ($29.95) – More info here
  • Neil Gaiman Stardust (comic book) Trade paperback signed – More info here
  • Graham Joyce Dreamside First US Edition Hardcover signed ($10) – More info here
  • Guy Gavriel Kay Tigana First US Edition Hardcover signed ($38) – More info here
  • George R.R. Martin Fevre Dream First Edition Hardcover Signed ($30) – More info here
  • Robin McKinley Spindle’s End Hardcover Signed ($12) – More info here
  • Sarah Monette The Mirador First Edition Hardcover signed ($24.95) – More info here
  • Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear A Companion to Wolves First Edition Hardcover signed ($24.95) – More info here
  • Richard Morgan Thirteen First Edition Hardcover signed ($24.95) – More info here
  • Vera Nazarian The Clock King and the Queen of the Hourglass Limited Edition Trade Paperback signed – More info here
  • Tim Powers The Anubis Gates First UK Edition Mass Market Paperback Signed and Inscribed ($20) – More info here
  • Terry Pratchett Going Postal First US Edition Hardcover Signed ($24.95) – More info here
  • Terry Pratchett Thud! First US Edition Hardcover Signed ($24.95) – More info here
  • Kim Stanley Robinson Red Mars Paperback signed ($20) – More info here
  • Spider Robinson Lady Slings the Booze First Edition Hardcover Signed and Inscribed ($35) – More info here
  • Patrick Rothfuss The Name of the Wind Hardcover Signed ($24.95) – More info here
  • Dan Simmons Ilium First Edition Hardcover Signed ($24) – More info here
  • Jeff VanderMeer Secret Life First Edition Hardcover Signed ($24.95) – More info here
  • Joan Vinge World’s End First Edition Hardcover Signed ($10) – More info here
  • Vernor Vinge A Deepness in the Sky First Edition Hardcover Signed ($29.50) – More info here
  • Jack Whyte The Skystone First Edition Hardcover Signed ($39.99) – More info here

Yikes! I didn’t realize it had been so long since I had posted here until a couple of hours ago. With the holiday and starting a new job, the time has just flown by.

I still have reviews on the rest of the books in the Pit Dragon trilogy to write. Unfortunately, it takes me nearly as long to write the review as it does to read a book of that size since I read it over and over and revise it about 50 times. So I haven’t written those yet with the amount of spare time I’ve had lately.

After I finish The Winter King, I’ll probably read either the new novel by Diana Pharoah Francis’s new novel, The Cipher, or one of C.S. Friedman’s novels. Or maybe I’ll read The Children of Hurin since I’d like to read that before this year is over.

I’m indecisive, so I’m open to hearing preferences or other suggestions for what to read next. A lot of the books I have and have yet to read should be in my “to read” section in my Good Reads account (the link for that is to the right toward the bottom of the sections on what I’m reading, links, etc.). So feel free to leave a comment about what you’d like reviewed in the near future!

Dragon's BloodDragon's Blood

Dragon’s Blood
by Jane Yolen
320pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 7/10
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.15/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.9/5

Dragon’s Blood, which first came out in the 1980s, is the first book in the Pit Dragon Chronicles trilogy by Jane Yolen. Although it is the first book in a series, there are no cliffhanger endings and the book stands quite well on its own. This is tagged as a young adult book and the main story is very reminiscent of books I read as a child; however, there is a maturity in both writing and subject matter at times that makes this book seem a little more adult. I found this tale of a boy and his dragon enjoyable but not very original other than the setting; however, this book is mainly setting up the next two books, which end up moving away from the lighthearted story in the first book.

Austar IV, a desert planet, was once a penal colony that founded its economy on breeding the native dragons, training them to fight in the pits, and betting on the winner. Jakkin, a fifteen year old boy, is working to pay off his bond and become a free man at one of the dragon farms. He believes his only chance at earning enough money to pay off his debt is to use his natural talents with dragons to train one to be a great fighter. Because of this, he makes plans to steal a dragon’s egg. Taking an egg is considered acceptable since most of the dragon eggs are decoys that do not actually contain a baby dragon and therefore are not even counted before they hatch.

An unfortunate incident with a dragon forces Jakkin to miss the year’s hatching, but later Jakkin slips into the barn at night to take a look at the hatchlings and finds that an error has been made in counting the dragons belonging to one of the hens. Instead of the nine hatchlings displayed on the door, there are actually ten. Jakkin selects the one he believes to be the best, forms a telepathic bond with it, and begins training it in secret.

The writing is simple and the story very plot-oriented, being a young adult novel. However, there were a few recurring adult themes that were not explored in depth such as gambling, prostitution, and drug addiction. Austar IV is not a pleasant, idealistic world by any means.

The story is rather predictable; in fact, it reminded me a lot of the formula used for many of the horse stories I read as a kid but with dragons instead for horses. It was certainly more imaginative than the stories about horses since it was a fictional planet containing Yolen’s version of dragons, and the world was grittier than those books, but the overall story of a boy and his animal friend was very similar to stories from childhood.

This is a short book, but the pacing is done well. It is a story that is easy to begin reading and get absorbed in, and the subplots add to the story instead of taking away from it.

Dragon’s Blood can be enjoyed by anyone, young or old or in between, who is looking for a fun, uncomplicated story that may feel somewhat familiar.