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  1. #1
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Paul Kearney and all his works

    On 28 January 2014 Solaris are republishing Paul Kearney's best novel, A Different Kingdom, with some very nice new cover art:


    My review from back in the day:

    Growing up on an Antrim farm in the 1950s, young Michael Fay has an idyllic but hard-working life. However, he soon discovers that the woodland beyond the farm is a doorway to another place, a place of wonders and stark terrors which has a strange hold on his family and where he must travel to right an old wrong.

    A Different Kingdom was Paul Kearney's second novel, originally published in 1993 by Gollancz. It's a stand-alone, although it shares a thematic link with The Way to Babylon and Riding the Unicorn in that it features a person from our world who is drawn into a fantastical one. Those more familiar with Kearney from his later work, such as the excellent Monarchies of God series or his recent accomplished fantasised historical, The Ten Thousand, will find the book a surprise and a revelation. This is a work that is steeped in earthy Celtic mythology and is riddled with the sensibilities of Ireland. During early sequences on the Fay farm you can almost taste the soda bread and buttermilk, whilst later sequences in the fantastical 'other place' are rooted in the earth, the musty smells of the forest and in the palpable terror of the hunted.

    A Different Kingdom reaches into the same taproots as works such as Robert Holdstock's Mythago Wood, a comparison most books would not weather well, but this novel stands up to it with gusto. It's extremely well-written, with Fay a troubled and complex central character, and features an unusual structure where the story proceeds in three different periods in Michael's life and the story moves between them as he has prescient visions of his future journey into the forest as a boy, flashbacks to it as an adult and then we see it during the present. There's an element of Heart of Darkness also at work, as Michael's journey into the heart of the forest to confront an elusive enemy also becomes a confrontation with his own soul and his desires to save a family member clash with the desire to stay with a beautiful woman he meets in the woodlands.

    There aren't many weaknesses. The sequence set in the future when Michael is grown-up are somewhat brief and not as well-explored as the earlier episodes, but then it doesn't really need to be. Some may find the ending also to be a little abrupt given the novel's build-up, but it still worked well and was a thematically appropriate conclusion. I particularly like the way you can't really read it as a 'happy ending' or not, depending on your interpretation of the story.

    A Different Kingdom (*****) is a rich, powerful and strikingly good novel.
    Update on the much-promised Sea-Beggars omnibus: it appears that there is a legal problem because The Mark of Ran and This Forsaken Earth remain in-print in the United States and Bantam Spectra are refusing to give back the rights. Until they do so, Solaris cannot release the Sea-Beggars omnibus with the long-delayed third volume in it. Because Solaris is an international publisher and they publish the same edition in both the UK and USA, they can't move forward with the book even in other markets until the US situation is sorted.

    The Saga Continues.

  2. #2
    Registered User bcvs's Avatar
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    Oh... I am so looking forward to the next book in the series!
    Legal shmegal nonsense!

  3. #3
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Annnnnnd confirmed. The US publishers (Bantam Spectra) have refused to give up the publication rights to the SEA-BEGGARS series whilst simultaneously continuing to refuse to release a third book in the series. With Solaris' deal being international, they cannot proceed with the publication of the SEA-BEGGARS omnibus at all. This is until further notice, not necessarily forever, but Paul did not seem hopeful of this being resolved in the near future.

    Paul is hopeful of being able to give us some news on his next project in a few months, however.

  4. #4
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    Given how good his Macht trilogy was, I guess I better buy this if it's his best work.

  5. #5
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rulkez View Post
    Given how good his Macht trilogy was, I guess I better buy this if it's his best work.
    It is, but it's very different. It's more like Rob Holdstock's Mythago Wood, with lots of Celtic influences, ghost-like spirits in the forests etc. It's definitely not another epic fantasy with big armies (though another of the standalones, Riding the Unicorn, is).

  6. #6
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    I'll try it anyway. Kearney is an author that deserves support after all his publisher woes.

    And he's awesome

  7. #7
    He is truly underappreciated.
    I really liked his Monarchies of God and Sea Beggars series.
    Wasn't so keen on the Macht thingie.
    Igor

  8. #8
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    A great post by Paul about his experiences growing up in Northern Ireland during the troubles, and how that led to him writing A DIFFERENT KINGDOM.

  9. #9
    The New ... MARK LAWRENCE Mark Lawrence's Avatar
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    That's a very fine cover! The original ... not so much!


  10. #10
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Huzzah!

    Paul has written a WARHAMMER 40,000 novel called UMBRA SUMUS ('Shadows and Dust'). That should be out in late 2014. He's also writing a new stand-alone fantasy novel called THE WOLF IN THE ATTIC, set in Oxford in the 1930s and featuring Lewis and Tolkien as characters. That should be out in late 2015.

  11. #11
    I've been interested in reading Kearney for a while, but haven't picked anything up yet...I'm somewhat torn on whether to start with the Macht trilogy, or with Monarchies of God. Which is better? And most importantly (for me, anyways), which has stronger characterization?

  12. #12
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    The Macht series is shorter, a mite more focused and has a stronger ending, so I'd start with there. Monarchies is probably better overall, but the ending is controversial (it's been improved a bit in the omnibus edition) and there series does drift away from its originally-intended storylines, meaning a few characters who are hugely important in Books 1-2 don't really have anything to do in the later books.

  13. #13
    I like to rock the party Corporal Blues's Avatar
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    Good to see that Kearney is still writing and putting out quality stuff. He's such an under-read writer it is ridiculous. My fingers are crossed that the Sea Beggars books find their way onto shelves soon. I've been wanting to read them since back in the day when all his publishing woes started.

  14. #14
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corporal Blues View Post
    Good to see that Kearney is still writing and putting out quality stuff. He's such an under-read writer it is ridiculous. My fingers are crossed that the Sea Beggars books find their way onto shelves soon. I've been wanting to read them since back in the day when all his publishing woes started.
    I've actually got a copy of the first Sea Beggars book, The Mark of Ran, that I picked up not too long ago from my city's big, used bookstore (I'm in Portland, OR by the way CB). I'm approaching 2/3 of the way through it and, I've to say, I'm struggling. There are moments where I'm really into it, but then there are others that I'm just looking for the next scene or chapter break so I can put it down for the day. I'm still reading it because I'm trying to do some research for my own writing on how Kearney handled the whole sailing thing and, after 180 pages, I've just gotten to the first really useful bit.

    I just did a search on the bookstore's website. They have 2 copies of The Mark of Ran in stock, both paperbacks. One for $7.50 and other for $12.00. In case you wanted to look into it...

  15. #15
    I like to rock the party Corporal Blues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage View Post
    I've actually got a copy of the first Sea Beggars book, The Mark of Ran, that I picked up not too long ago from my city's big, used bookstore (I'm in Portland, OR by the way CB). I'm approaching 2/3 of the way through it and, I've to say, I'm struggling. There are moments where I'm really into it, but then there are others that I'm just looking for the next scene or chapter break so I can put it down for the day. I'm still reading it because I'm trying to do some research for my own writing on how Kearney handled the whole sailing thing and, after 180 pages, I've just gotten to the first really useful bit.

    I just did a search on the bookstore's website. They have 2 copies of The Mark of Ran in stock, both paperbacks. One for $7.50 and other for $12.00. In case you wanted to look into it...
    Powell's? That place is awesome. I've long considered buying those books, but with the finale in limbo I've decided to just wait for the omnibus. Hopefully that'll come around sooner than later.

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