Archive for May, 2008

Ever since I picked up Ellis’ prose novel “Crooked Little Vein”, I couldn’t help but wonder what the fuck I had stumbled onto. That short and thoroughly disgusting little crime novel was unlike anything I’d ever read before, and not just in the sheer amount of craziness per page, but also in the way Ellis managed to convey his damning critique of the Western society. You know, when I really got into books in the first place, I never expected to read a book that could use tantric ostrich sex and godzilla bukkake as plot devices to shed a light into those murky, hushed-up corners that we’d rather leave alone, but are starting to grow so big and normalized that they’ve become and integral part of our daily lives.

So I set forth to find out who this Warren Ellis dude actually was, and discovered quite quickly that I’d gone about him totally backwards. Ellis is one of the biggest comic writers out there. He’s had more or less successful stints on nearly every big label (“Iron Man”, “Fantastic Four”, “Thunderbolts”, “Global Frequency”, “Planetary”, “Fell”, and he’s taking over for Joss Whedon on “Astonishing X-Men”) while still shovelling accolade after accolade for his brilliant and thoughtful stories. He’s actually the one comic writer with the most trade paperbacks in print in America, and “Transmetropolitan” is his crowning work to date, collecting ten volumes (and a single one-shot with the same anti-hero as protagonist) and clocking in at some 1300+ pages.

I’ve read every word and studied every page, and I’m glad to report that I’ve found something that’s so insane that it makes “Crooked Little Vein” look like a book for kindergärtners. Well, almost. The kids in “Transmetro” would certainly not have any trouble digesting something that seems nearly tame in comparison.

“Transmetropolitan” is one sick graphic novel. It’s about “Spider Jerusalem”, a formerly retired journalist that gets called back from the serene Rocky Mountains to the ever-(de)evolving entity known only as “the City”. The series is set some time into the future, though the exact date is got lost somewhere after people started adding alien genomes to their DNA and growing horny Nazi sex-midgets as their pets. Spider was once a world-wide celebrated writer, but the life in the City nearly broke him. Now he’s returned to fulfil some ill-advised contracts with his publisher, and to make some fast money he gets his old job back as a columnist for the newspaper, “the Word”. A lot of the early issues of “Transmetro” are built up around what he writes in that column, which has the apt title “I Hate It Here”, but this is thankfully far from a stagnant piece of work. The people, the setting and the story evolves with every issues, and that gives this series an extra, hard-boiled edge to it that adds to its enjoyability.

The thing that frightens me the most about “Transmetro” though, isn’t how well Ellis crafts his narrative and plot lines. No, sirre, the thing that made me like this book the most is the fact that it’s Science Fiction with a real sting to it. It addresses real themes that you seldom see any writer dare to even touch upon in the slightest. “Transmetro” is a biting criticism of the America’s and Britain’s political systems (the main “villain” is actually an insane version of Tony Blair) and the corruption of former values. It dares discuss paedophilia, religion, the environment and drug abuse (Spider loves those things) and nearly anything you would and wouldn’t expect to find in a such a simple thing as a comic.

Spider himself becomes the epicentre of all the craziness, the ultimate Bastard living in a bastard’s world. His favourite weapon, aside from the keyboard, is a bowel-disruptor, which he uses to inflict anal explosions on those who gets in his way. His only goal is to discover the Truth behind it all and to report on those stories that gets overlooked in an ever-expanding media world with an ever-decreasing focus. You wouldn’t like Spider if you met him in real life – he wouldn’t even like himself, methinks – but while you read “Transmetro” you quickly discover that Spider Jerusalem is the only sane respite you can get in Ellis’ and Robertson’s dark view of the future.

Now, as you might have gathered at this point, I’m not easily sickened or turned away by neither violence, foul language or controversy. I like darkly themed stuff, and I like the gore and the blood as long as I feel it’s justified in some way. One of the first scenes in “Back On the Street”, vol. 1 of Transmetro, is of Spider driving down from the mountains when he suddenly pulls up in front of his favourite bar. Then he gives it a lingering look before he picks up a bazooka and blows it to mincemeat. Ellis never pulls any punches about what he’s doling out here, and if you’re not a fan of it, then you should stay away, ’cause even I felt it went too much over the top at times. This series isn’t cozy; it’s downright uncomfortable and personally I think it’s ten times the better for it.

So search your soul before you decide to give “Transmetro” a try. It’s not for everyone, but for those who can stomach it, well… you guys are in for a real treat. Ellis is a masterful scribe and a frighteningly believable visionary. Robertson’s art is emotive enough to make you care for the bastard named Spider while also throwing in a lot details that makes the City come to life on the page. He’s easily become one of my favourite artists out there.

Here’s a consistently funny, thought-provoking and well-crafted science fiction story that slaps you in the face with the same ferocity from start to end. It’s a unique thing, and I loved it for the freak it is. Heartily recommended. Now go read “Transmetropolitan” before Spider shoots me with the bowel disruptor.

Pretty please?


Lost, Season 2

The funny thing about “Lost” is that, while the show came heavily recommended from those who’re still following it, they always followed up with an addendum: “Keep in mind though that you’ll have to slog it through the second season”.

There seems to be a peculiar, yet near-universal agreement that the follow-up the first season of “Lost” has a lot short-comings and is in general quite a bit weaker than what came before. I’ve watched ’em both back to back, and I’m here to tell you whether said people hits the nail on its head, or if its a swing-and-a-miss for the Common Opinion.

In this second season, our plighted gang of cast-aways delve further into the mysteries of their island and the sinister enemy known as “the Others”. If you haven’t watched this show, and plan to do so, I recommend that you skip these middle paragraphs and read the very last one. It’s damned near impossible to properly review this kind of show without going into some detail regarding the plot and developments, upon which its premise relies nearly entirely on. It does try to build up some characters that we’re supposed to care about, though this particular aspect of the show wouldn’t have gotten a it past pilot-status if it wasn’t for the Mysterious Element.

Like why there are Polar Bears on a tropic island, or why there’s a big pirate ship stranded many miles inland of the shore, or why there’s black, sentient fog floating around. Or the significance of the numbers “4 8 15 16 23 42”. Or why there is a hatch in the ground with a computer with a button that needs to be pushed every 108 minutes to prevent, you know, the world from going under. I can solemnly say that I wouldn’t have given a crap about this show if it didn’t infect me with a primal urge to Unravel It All, to Understand and let things Make Some Fucking Sense Already!

Season 1 of “Lost” worked its themes quite nicely in my opinions. Here you’re stuck with a select group of characters that are more or less interesting, but you’re got to give ’em all at least an episode of two because, well, they can’t all be about Jack, Sawyer, Sayid or Locke; the ones with the most interesting back-stories. So you do the obvious; you pair up the uninteresting character’s story with a thrilling event on the island, and voilà! Things work!

Season 2 looses sight of this concept and goes for broke by using less of Mysterious side of the show and more of the characters. This results in some incredibly lame episodes that doesn’t do anything for the show, though the majority aren’t all that bad, really. They’re just not as good as their season 1 equivalents were.

That’s the my biggest issue with this season, but another thing that bugged me was the broken story-telling styles they tried their hands on in the first three-five episodes of this season. The discovery of the hatch and all that lied within it was so poorly handled that I had to do some serious self-convincing that the show hadn’t lost total contact with every established narrative premise. Thankfully this was just a passing fling with madness, and things normalized around the halfway point, which actually contained the best episodes of the season save the last two that went some way in convincing me that the “push the button”-plot wasn’t the most idiotic device every conceived of. I damn near had an aneurysm every time they started arguing about that fucking button. I don’t give a shit if pushing the god-damned button was the only thing keeping the Earth itself in orbit around the Sun – you don’t go using an entire season’s worth of time discussing it, no matter how ingenious the writers thought they were being (which they actually weren’t, but at that time I was so glad it was all over I couldn’t care less what happened).

They also got the notion of bringing in some new characters from tail-section of the plane. Now, the episode that detailed how they’d managed themselves all alone against the Others was actually quite good – one of the season’s best in fact – but the way they impacted the rest of the season was very disappointing, aside from Mr. Echo, who was immediately one of my favourites. The best character of season 2 is in my mind “Sawyer”. “Jack” continues with being shockingly uninteresting in what he does on the island, while his back-story is one of the best. “Kate” all but disappears in this season, “Locke” went from being one of my favourites to being one of the most irritating characters on the show.

Season 2 of “Lost” is, as you all were telling me, a couple of notches down from season 1 in terms progress (not enough of it), characterization (they made Locke boring! How’s that even possible?) and story-telling, which all resulted in a season with lower lows and not-so-high highs. It’s still good enough for me keep watching it, and I thought that the last couple of episodes showed promise of braver approach to Mystery-angle in Season 3, so I’m looking forward to see if that’s correct. This was certainly a disappointment, but “Lost” remains above averagely watchable, and infinitely more interesting than, say, “Prison Break”.

Though, it has to be said, that there never was anything as stupid as “the Button” on Prison Break. Or any other show I’ve ever watched…

7.0/10 (weak)

I wasn’t too sure about this one. I hoped it’d be good, or at least fun in the same, nostalgic way that the original movies are. But then I thought of George Lucas and the Star Wars prequels… And then I proceeded to dreadfully anticipate seeing Indy twenty years older… Then I took a gander at the cast list and discovered – to my horror – that someone had managed to cast Shia LeBoeuf, who I’ve been desperately wanting to smack around ever since I saw “Transformers”. Well, suffices to say that I secretly harboured visions of “Crystal Skull” flopping like a fish on a frying pan.

But then I read some reviews, and hope was rekindled. Especially this one tided me over quite nicely till I got the chance to hit the theatres myself.

And, thankfully, my doubts were cast away as soon as I Harrison Ford donned his characteristic hat once more. ‘Cause this is a Good film, and at times it’s even Great, with small periods of Sheer Awesomeness that left me grinning like the fanboy I undoubtedly am. It’s INDIANA JONES, people! And he flies through the sky in a god damned REFRIGERATOR!

In terms of epicness, the beginning of “Crystal Skull” is obviously the one makes the Biggest Impact, and it sets the tone for a highly enjoyable couple of hours. Indiana Jones gets captured by the KGB while he’s digging in the desert and gets transported to Area 51, where the Soviets are looking for something that’s… highly attractable… After some unlikely, but immensely entertaining turn of events, Indy finds himself on a quest to find the City of Gold, “El Dorado”, that’s been mysteriously lost in the South American jungle for centuries.

I fear I’ve already said too much, so no more about the plot. Let’s rather talk about why this film works, and why you should give it a shot (as if you haven’t already). The most enjoyable thing about INDY 4 is the way it uses its own universe to a degree that doesn’t ruin it for the uninitiated, but enhances the experience for those who go around remembering the little things from the previous films. I naturally picked up on a lot of these nudges, and I grinned every time it happened. And yes, this did make me look like a lunatic after the first few minutes, and probably a couple of hours afterwards.

The second most enjoyable thing about “Crystal Skull” is the amount of times that Shia LeBoeuf gets smacked around. I had to contain myself so that I didn’t applaud every gut punch he received, and was terribly saddened by the fact that he didn’t get eaten by the giant ants. That being said, I have to admit that LeBoeuf didn’t make a total ass of himself this time around. He got to play around with Harrison Ford, so I imagine you’d have to gigantic hind-part to manage such a feat, but at least he didn’t ruin anything for me. I actually took a savage joy in watching him get mauled, and re-watches will never take that pleasure away from me.

The third most enjoyable thing about this flick is the supporting cast, who’re all quite strong compared to “Raiders” and “Doom”, though it can’t quite compete with “Last Crusade” and Sean Connery. They’d have to cast Johnny Depp, Hugh Laurie and Viggo Mortensen to achieve that, tough the inclusion of Neil Flynn (“But did he really?” I almost got the feeling that Indy had put a penny in the door 😛 ) did go some way in amending this short-coming.

The fourth most enjoyable thing about it is the science fiction element to the history, which I thought they handled extremely well.

This is nostalgia in a box; pure cinematic glee that’s delivers exactly what it promises. I know I haven’t done the critique part of the review here, but you’ll have to elsewhere to find someone willing nitpick. I can’t bring myself to do it. I could, however, go on listing several other things about this film that I found grin-worthy, but everything has an end; even this post. I’ll round things up with saying that this film is so good that I would rather watch it than “Raiders”, though it doesn’t ever come close to getting as funny as “Last Crusade”, which remains my favourite. At least until Indy 5 comes out.

Which I sincerely hope it does.

8.0 /10 (strong)

This was the last film in what many believed would remain a trilogy but that’s now become a tetralogy, with a possible fifth film somewhere down the line. However, this review right here is about “The Last Crusade”, and why it’s better than “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.

This film starts off with an interesting flashback to Indy’s youth. He’s out on a trip with some other boys when he happens upon some grave robbers that are helping themselves to a valuable artefact that should, according to Indy, belong to a museum. Naturally, Indy takes matters into his own hands, and begins another action-filled adventure with a bang.

We’ll jot this down as another very strong start to an Indy film, and thankfully, “The Last Crusade” keeps chugging merrily along the same route right to the very end. The theme of this movie is a lot more in accordance with “Raiders” than “Doom”, which dealt with a more foreign mythology than the first and last film in the “original” trilogy. This time, though, we’re not after the Ark, but the Holy Grail itself, and our arch enemy is yet again the moustached fellow named Hitler.

I liked this film a lot more than “Doom”, and just a bit more than “Raiders”. It’s got everything that the latter has (except Belloq, of course), plus a Sean Connery (playing Indy’s father), of whom I’ve always been a great fan. Sallah makes another appearance towards the end, and the love interest has a nice (if a bit predictable twist, but I can’t say I would’ve handled her any different than Indy) twist to herself this time. All in all, I’d say that the characters of “Last Crusade” are an inch or two more interesting than the ones in “Raiders”, which is probably why I liked it more than that. The silliness isn’t as up in your face all the time, either, which makes the whole franchise a lot more fun.

True, there are some glaring plot holes along the way, and it struggles with its believability at times, but the same can be said of all the other films, and frankly (again), I couldn’t care less. This is a film with a Da Vinci-esque mythology made fun and less self-important than what the film with the same name did. And it’s got Sean Connery. And Indiana Jones. What more could you want?

An Austrian goodbye?


“… you never know what you’re gonna get”.

– Forrest Gump

The day started off with the sweetest candy a fantasy freak like me could get. I received an ARC of “Return of the Crimson Guard” by Ian Cameron Esslemont from PS Publishing. Naturally, I was beyond thrilled and couldn’t wait to get home so that I could dig into that monster of a book.

However, that was depending on one small matter: That I didn’t get picked for a math exam next Wednesday. Now I have to spend all weekend reading up on graphs, derivation et cetera, while the next big Malazan adventure stares seductively back at me, taunting me with its epic goodness…

I’m not complaining though. I could’ve gotten picked and had to wait till August to read RotCG. That’d suck a lot more. Now at least I’ll have something to look forward to when this school year is over (no more exams, just some random hand-ins that are of no great importance).

This will probably mean a second draught in terms of blog posts. I’ll try my best to do the rest of the Indy reviews, but aside from that? Probably nothing. I promise to make this up to you, so I’ll leave it up to the first person to comment to decide whether the next review should be:

  • “Lost”, season 2
  • The three first books in the “Amber Chronicles” by Roger Zelazny
  • “Iron Man Extremis” by Warren Ellis
  • The entire series of “Transmetropolitan” by Warren Ellis
  • The entire series of “Planetary” by Warren Ellis
  • 3:10 to Yuma (wester-film)

You’ll get all of this eventually, though. No need to panic.

“The Temple of Doom” is an interesting follow-up to the smash-hit “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. Superficially you could easily say that it’s just “more of the good stuff” – which it is – but if you bother to sit down and watch it more closely, then you’re bound to notice some big changes.

The movie kicks off – rather surprisingly  – with a musical scene in a club somewhere in the city of Shanghai. Indiana Jones is there to negotiate a deal for some ancient relic he’s gotten his hands on, but the trade doesn’t exactly run smoothly, and he and two others end up having to escape from the city in a plane with some rather jumpy pilots… This is of course just the beginning; the main plot doesn’t set in before Indy has managed to get all the way across to India in what must be a life raft of the invincible variety. Some ancient, dark power has been awakened and threatens to take over and enslave the entire world, and who gets the fun job of stopping it?

If you need more than one guess to answer that question, I seriously doubt your claim to sentient intelligence, ’cause this is Indiana’s show all the way home to museum. Whereas “Raiders” had at least three good characters in addition to the main attraction (Sallah, Belloq, Marion), “Temple of Doom” dispensed with all that and said to itself, “what this franchise needs is more fluff. Fluff, fluff, fluff.” Now, instead of building on semi-believable characters and very semi-believable events like “Raiders” did, we get stuck with two horrible sidekicks (I wanted to strangle the Chinese kid) who aren’t there for more than unfunny comical skits and kicking the occasional bad-guy while he wrestles with Indy. They dialled nearly everything that made the first film a bit cheesy, up to full-on Roquefort with an extra side dish of cheesy cottage cheese. This did in part make it extra fun just because of the sheer outrageousness of it all, but mostly I ended up shaking my head in disbelief, not knowing whether to laugh with it or off it.

It has to be said though that the film is, for all its faults, stil well made. The camera work and the sets are incredibly well done, and the mine cart-race is simply awesomeness on toast. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this film, but I’m always saddened by the fact that they ended up with “Temple of Doom” when they could just as easily have built upon some of the ground work that “Raiders” did. Belloq and Marion especially were sorely missed. Ah, well…

… at least it’s still got Indy.

6,0 /10 (strong)

Sorry for the infrequent updates around here lately. I haven’t really got a good excuse for it, other than the usual “life (or perhaps, the lack of it) got in the way”. Things should normalize soon enough, though. They can’t take all my free time away from me forever! But until that time arrives, I’m going to write up some reviews of the three first Indiana Jones movies. The plan is to post them all before the world première on Thursday (at least that’s when it premières where I live), starting with this one right here, You’ve all watched it, you all love it it to some degree or form.

I’m here to remind you why that is.

Let me refresh your memories in the unlikely case that you’ve forgotten the story behind this classic cinematic character: Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is an archaeologist, but not of the boring, toothbrush-combing variety. No sirree, this guy is all about the adventure and the quest for discovering forgotten relics and artefacts, and he’s no stranger to risking his life to get his hands on them. In “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, Indiana Jones is contacted by the US government to help them figure out some vital information about – yes, you guessed it – the lost Ark of Covenants. You know, the one that they used to throw all the broken rubble of the original ten commandments into. Remember now? Good, because this particular holy relic vanished some 3000 years ago, and it isn’t until now, the year 1936, that someone’s pieced together the clues to its current whereabouts. Who might that be, you ask, lips all a-trembling. Well, his friends called him Adolf, but we all refer lovingly to him as der Fürher.

There are some big spoilers in this review, so if you haven’t watched this movie yet (the shame, the SHAME!), and plan to do so, then I recommend you just check out the last paragraph and leave it with that.

Re-watching “Indiana Jones” is highly enjoyable, even though it’s been nearly thirty years since “Raiders” was first released. I’ve splurged out for new set of DVD’s, and I’ve got to say that I don’t think these movies have lost a single hair of charm (much unlike Harrison Ford, whose gotten considerably more granddaddy-y since his heydays). The action is still just as thrilling and it’s so tight that there nearly isn’t a single dull moment during this hundred and ten minutes long ride. One of the most important reasons it hasn’t lost its appeal is the fact that nearly all the sets and stunts are actually real, which is something of a rarity these days. There are only two sequences that features some kind of CGI, and those are thankfully not too bad (in a kind of, “Aww, look at the crappy ‘scary ghosts’ – aren’t they adorable?”, way).

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones gives me goosebumps every time I see him, simply because of the sheer legend that follows him. As a role and character, it isn’t the greatest in terms of depth and all that jazz, but who the fuck gives a damn about those things when you’re watching an “Indiana Jones” flick? This movie delivers everything it promises with its opening chapter; witty banter, exciting adventure, bitter rivalry and tons and tons of action. Complaining about “lack of depth or character development” in this film is comparable to noising outrage at the lack of atheistic arguments in the Bible. It simply has no home there.

Now, this isn’t to say that this film is flawless or should that it should be regarded as such because it does what’s it’s supposed to do. Far from it, my friends – I can certainly find things to complain about. The first and foremost thing would obviously have to be the ending, which is not so much “deus ex machina” as it’s “deus ex box”. Some of the events are quite ludicrous, too. Like the scene where Indy hi-jacks a truck filled with Germans, and they decide to climb around the outside of the truck instead of shooting him through the flimsy wall…

If I you try to interpret some kind of deeper meaning in this rather shallow action flick, then you end up wading through pro-Americanisms so thick that you’ll have to take a second glance around yourself just to check that you haven’t landed in the deep-frier at McDonalds. Thank you George Lucas – we got the message, all right? You don’t have to (BIG SPOILER COMING UP) make it as if God ACTUALLY loves America more than the French and the Germans. I’m also still every bit as disappointed that Indy’s love interest, who starts up as a strong and independent character, has to play the damsel in the distress no less than three times during the movie.

That’s about all then nits and tidbits I’ll pick from this film, ’cause I actually can’t bring myself to be very critical of it. It’s just too much fun – and it’s meant like that, too – to bother with minor problems in an otherwise classic movie that will be essential for any movie lover for as long as I live.

8.0 /10

Expect the next review tomorrow evening…

Band of Brothers

Let me just start out this review by saying that “Band of Brothers” is a fantastic miniseries. That is a fact that cannot be disputed by anyone, and if you’re looking for a more realistic portrayal of what WWII was for the American Airborne, then you’d better get to working on that time machine of yours so that you can take a personal gander at the 1940’s. But is it flawless, though? Is it the best TV-series ever made, like a lot of people claim?

Well, in one word: No. But it may very well be the best miniseries I’ve ever seen.

In episode 1 we’re introduced to Easy Company while they’re training to get ready for the war that’s raging across the world. Easy Company is a part of the 101th Airborne Division, i.e. paratroopers that are trained to jump down behind enemy lines. So naturally they’re trained to be the meanest, toughest, sons-of-bitches in the entire army (who isn’t, really?), and this training knits the group of young men into what’s going to become a legendary company of men; a band of brothers whose main hobbies include dodging flack and killing Nazis.

Which makes for fantastically heartbreaking television, really, if not very original…

“Band of Brothers” was produced by two guys you’ve probably heard of: Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, so the sheer quality of the scenes and the way they were cut can’t be critiqued. Some episodes are obviously not as good as others because they all have their own themes and “main characters” (and different directors, but so does every show), which makes it feel more like a series of films rather than an all out TV-series. I probably would’ve preferred it if they had picked five-six characters that got the better part of the attention in every episode. It would’ve given the series more depth and chance for showing off the way war affects people one closer level than what they achieved here. As it was, I only felt a bond with “Dick Winters” (played spectacularly by the vastly underrated genius named Damian Lewis), who always got his share of screentime.

That being said, though, when they decided to it this way, they did it very well indeed. A couple of episodes fell flat due to uninteresting main characters, but the themes were always relevant and transfers nicely back to current war situations. The cast is purely b-list (even Damian Lewis is a b-list actor, though the reason behind that remains one of God’s Greatest Mysteries), but they do a good job out of it, save for Neal McDonough who always seems to overstate his lines and gestures.

“Band of Brothers” is without doubt a truly terrific miniseries that I whole heartedly recommend to anyone interested in the era, or if you’re simply a fan of war themed stuff. I’m not particularly inclined either way, but I liked it none the less, and could easily see myself doing a re-watch of this some time in the future.

9.0 /10 (strong)

The Rebellious Quote of the Day

“The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.”

— H.L. Mencken, in “Smart Set Magazine”, December 1919

(I discovered this quote in “Gouge Away”, vol. 6 of “Transmetropolitan” by Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson. )

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

Thanks to Calibandar, who sometimes pops by this blog, for making me aware that Gollancz had put up the cover art for “Blood of Elves” by Andrzej Sapkowski. This is the second book in the series about “Geralt the Witcher”, and it’s due out in September. It’s been one of my most anticipated reads ever since I got a hold of the highly enjoyable mosaic novel, “The Last Wish”, which ended high up on my top picks of 2007.

Looks good, don’t it? No orcs or elves on the fron of this series.

As I understand it though, there’s actually supposed to be a second mosaic novel that should’ve been published before “Blood of Elves”, but Gollancz has obviously decided that two un-genreish tasters for a series were one too much. Makes me a bit sad, really, but hopefully they know what they’re doing.