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Thread: new Kearney?
December 21st, 2007, 02:09 PM #16
Mithfânion, i'm not a big fan of nautical adventures either, if you missed The Monarchies of God because you thought it's mostly about sea voyages, give it a try, most of the saga happens on land.
December 22nd, 2007, 05:47 PM #17
March 5th, 2008, 02:48 PM #18Paul Kearney might just be one of the undiscovered, rather than hidden, gems of fantasy fiction. His début “The Way to Babylon” (1992), two subsequent stand alone novels and a more traditional epic fantasy series “Monarchies of God” counting five books, all failed to bring a financial breakthrough even though these books were often praised by critics at least as competent efforts if not beyond that. His latest started (but never finished) trilogy “The Sea Beggars” – the first book of which I am about to review, was sadly dropped by Bantam, Kearney’s publisher at the time, just after the second book. The official explanation was not surprisingly of a financial nature. Hopefully his streak of bad luck will have ended this year with a new upcoming title “The Ten Thousand” (September 2008) backed by a new publisher - Solaris, which also plans to reissue the five Monarchies of God books as an omnibus duo.
Intrigued by Adam’s (The Wertzone) perseverant endorsement of Kearny as a severely underrated author, as well as by the blurb on the cover of “The Mark of Ran”, written by Steven Erikson, proclaiming Kearney as one of the best fantasy authors out there, I’ve decided to read the damned thing myself. And guess what, despite the fact that the book has its flaws, I was still pleasantly surprised and have to agree about the underrated part at least.
The World is slowly dying, forsaken by its Creator. Mankind schemes and plots and makes war across the world, forgetting that they are not its sole inheritors. Another race once dwelled here… We witness the story of Rol Corthisan, an orphan and a farm-boy, whose undisclosed heritage makes him unaware of his hidden potentials – now where have we heard that before? After his safe haven is destroyed he has to seek his only chance at help and knowledge. Afraid and alone he sails through a storm to a neighboring island state, where the mysterious figure of Michal Psellos takes him in. While under his patronage, Rol learns many skills (most of them are about being deadly) as well as finds himself in love with Rowen, his beautiful tutor and the only person besides Rol, who shares his ambiguous status in Michal’s household and is unfamiliar with her parentage. Without giving out too much let me conclude this brief synopsis by revealing that everything is not what it seems to be in the tower of Michal Psellos and after things get complicated and then resolved after a fashion, Rol sets out onto the sea, where a new life awaits him, a life full of danger and opportunities…but even as he tries to run from his personal past, a different kind of past rushes headlong into his direction instead.
“The Mark of Ran” reads like a simple and straight-forward story, which it is after a fashion, but Kearney also manages to transcend such trite generalization with his competent writing skills, fluid narrative, killer pacing, detailed world building (the annexed map and the mythos are intriguing at the least), carefully deployed mystery element of the general plot and the likeability of the characters, as well as plausibility of their actions. I’m not sure why, maybe the cover blurb is to fault for the comparison, but Kearney’s prose seems in a way akin to that of Erikson – the flow of narrative for example. If I tried hard enough I might also find some similarities between Rol and Crokus (a character in Erikson’s “Malazan Book of The Fallen” series).
Where the story starts to drop in intensity is well into the second half of the novel, which follows Rol as he traverses the seas as a sailor/officer. The seafaring part cannot possibly match up to the earlier chapters. Rol’s growth as a character seems to stall significantly in exchange for (in my opinion) filler action scenes and seemingly random courses in seamanship. The terminology itself didn’t bother me that much, but if you are not interested in principles of sailing and (old) sea vessels this sections of the book might bore you some.
Otherwise, I have to congratulate Kearney for not being afraid to kill people in his book, although the main cast seems a bit untouchable at moments. The body count is quite high in the end. One other thing I liked is how Kearney handles the love story - well not the love part of the story per se, it is only that he treads around this theme really elegantly, showing us love's bitter-sweet side without overdoing it.
With barely under 400 pages this novel rarely falters. “The Mark of Ran” is a well executed epic fantasy, which doesn't deserve to be buried under a heap of unremarkable fiction littering the market. (I will save the peculiar story of how I got this book for later.) All in all, this novel is more than a decent read and although a bit short of brilliant, it still made me eager to read its sequel - "The Forsaken Earth".
March 5th, 2008, 02:54 PM #19
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Good one, thrin.
I'm a fan of the Monarchies series too: I'm going to be interested to see how the new Solaris editions turn out.
Mark / HobbitMark
March 5th, 2008, 06:22 PM #20
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I liked the Monarchies series though it seemed a bit disjointed for all its length, but it had great narrative pull.
The Sea Beggars though is at another level. However quite often it's an emotional pounding of horrific events, and it's as far from escapism as fantasy gets...
March 5th, 2008, 10:31 PM #21
i've just raed the first 2 of the monarchies of god, and think they're very good.
i couldnt work out whether to finish the series or wait for the omnibus, but i think i'll wait.
gonna try the mark of ran now; he has a style i find engaging and intelligent, and considering they've been around so long, i find it pretty incredible that he's only come to my attention in recent months.
i hope he starts getting more fans with this push from solaris, he deserves to make a living from his blatant skills.
October 17th, 2009, 05:06 PM #22
Ive read The Ten Thousand..and its very very good. Lots of action, fast paced, well written. Hard to put down for sure. About to start Monarchies series. My question, is the Ten Thousand a stand alone book? Is there another part expected?
I highly recommend it either way.
October 17th, 2009, 05:47 PM #23
My question, is the Ten Thousand a stand alone book? Is there another part expected?
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It is standalone, though it was announced a couple of weeks ago that there will be more. At least two, if I remember right.
October 17th, 2009, 07:49 PM #24
Possibly an indication that the first Monarchies omnibus will be published in September 2010. Waiting for word from Paul on if it's official.
Interesting it's listed as 'Rebellion' rather than 'Solaris'. I wonder if Rebellion are rebranding the line with their own name?
October 18th, 2009, 03:44 PM #25
March 25th, 2010, 09:07 AM #26
Update and cover art.
Hawkwood and the Kings, the first Monarchies omnibus, will be published in August 2010. Century of the Soldier, the second, will follow in September.
Paul's new novel, Corvus, a self-contained follow-up to The Ten Thousand, will follow at the end of October.
All should be published simultaneously in the UK and USA by Solaris.
March 25th, 2010, 12:39 PM #27
March 25th, 2010, 01:46 PM #28
That is exactly the same edition omnibus, just without the updated publish date and cover design.
March 25th, 2010, 01:53 PM #29
I guess the sole distinction might be Mass-Paperback vs. Paperback, but want to make sure. But with the cover being for different book (different title), I'm curious.
Last edited by Bastard; March 25th, 2010 at 01:56 PM.
March 25th, 2010, 02:20 PM #30
Why would the same publisher release 2 mass-market paperbacks of one book within a month, with only a different cover?
Pretty sure the release dates got pushed back a bit and cover design was changed. They had the same cover for both volumes until now and people were criticizing that.