Throwback SF: The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane is my fifth of Del Rey’s eleven collected volumes of Robert E. Howard’s work.  I introduced myself to Howard with the three volumes of Conan stories and then read the collection of his horror stories (my introduction to Solomon Kane was in that volume) before picking up this one.  I am feeling pretty good about my reading order so far.

I have already written a fair amount about Solomon Kane stories (I wrote posts comparing “Skulls in the Stars” and “The Moon of Skulls” to other stories, and I wrote a post on “The Right Hand of Doom,” “Red Shadows,” and “Rattle of Bones”), so I will keep this brief.  The bottom line: Solomon Kane is the better character than Conan, but Conan has stronger stories.

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The Traitor Son Cycle is the Perfect Hair of the Dog for your Game of Thrones Hangover

Real life is mashing me right now, so instead of writing a new post digging into the final season or finale of Game of Thrones, I am going to give you something even better: the series you should pick up next. Did you love the last season of Game of Thrones? Did you hate it? Are you just despondent that it is over? Are you a big fan of the book series? Are you beyond frustrated that George R.R. Martin isn’t making any progress on it?

Regardless of your answers to those questions, you should pick up The Traitor Son Cycle by Miles Cameron. It has all of the dragons and knightly battles and magic and sprawling cast of characters and epic stakes and deep historical roots of Game of Thrones. In fact, it exceeds Game of Thrones on almost all of those measures. If you think Game of Thrones shortchanged the existential threat posed by the White Walkers, rest assured that The Traitor Son Cycle is an Epic Fantasy with a capital E and a capital F. If you want to see someone stick the series landing after A Storm of Swords-level book 3, Cameron does it. And he is even deeper into the historical context than Martin. Martin reads history; Cameron lives it as a reenactor.

Oh, and his newest series, which opened with last year’s Cold Iron, is pretty dang good too.

Every Day Should Be Tuesday

Suffering from a Game of Thrones hangover after that shocking season 7 finaleTheorizing about the final season too bitter a salve when the wait might be well over a year?  Looking for something with knights and magic and dragons and bloody, bloody battles that draws as deeply from the well of history as Game of Thrones?  Look no further than The Traitor Son Cycle by Miles Cameron.

Why?  Because it is, in my mind, the best ongoing fantasy period right now.  And, yes, I am including A Song of Ice and Fire in that estimation.  That not enough for you?  You can read my reviews of the first, second, third, and fourth books.  There is no interminable wait for the series to conclude here—the fifth and final book is out on October 31 of this year (review here).

Not sold yet?  Continue beyond…

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Game of Thrones Finale Recap

Nine years, eight seasons, and 73 episodes later, we have come to the end of a grand journey.  If nothing else, there has never been another epic fantasy TV show like Game of Thrones.  I will always be thankful for high production value epic fantasy on my television.

So how does the Game of Thrones finale itself stack up?  Surprisingly, I like it a lot.  It is more denouement than climax, and it can’t fix the issues with what has been a very weak season, but I liked it a lot nonetheless.  Among other things, it is bittersweet, one thing Martin has always insisted that the end of his story would be.

“Love is the death of duty.”

FULL SPOILERS below the cut.

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Revisiting George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire: A Dance with Dragons

With HBO’s adaptation of Martin’s epic fantasy series almost finished, even if the series itself certainly isn’t, I will be revisiting my original reviews from 2011 of the five books in the series completed by Martin.  I have already posted reviews of A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows.

A Dance with Dragons is the fifth book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (on which HBO’s Game of Thrones is based, with season one covering the first book).  It does not, however, follow the traditional pattern of picking up where the fourth book left off.  Rather, due to the fourth book ballooning out of control during writing, A Dance with Dragons picks up where the third book left off.  A Feast for Crows (book 4) was limited to the action in south Westeros and Braavos; A Dance for Dragons concentrates primarily on the action in the North, the Free Cities (not including Braavos), and Slaver’s Bay.  Not until more than halfway through the book is a plot thread from the fourth book continued chronologically.  And make no mistake, the concentration is all on the North and Essos.  Only six chapters of the seventy-three total take place in the south of Westeros.  While this leads to greatly missed fan favorites being heavily featured (Tyrion, Jon, and Daenerys POVs combine for almost half of the chapters in the book), other fan favorites are almost absent (Arya, Jamie, and Cersei POVs combine for only five chapters).  There is no shortage of action and politics as Jon tries to prepare for the coming of the Others, Stannis and Roose Bolton maneuver for control of the North, and possible allies and ruthless enemies begin to converge on Daenerys.

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 8, Episode 5

After an episode that was much-maligned, including by me, can the writers of Game of Thrones get the magic back in the series’ penultimate episode?  The episode also promises our last big battle in a series that has given us some great ones.

The final word?  My reaction is decidedly mixed.  It is a much better episode than the last one, but it still has a lot of issues.

FULL SPOILERS below the cut.

Pic courtesy of HBO

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Revisiting George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows

With HBO’s adaptation of Martin’s epic fantasy series almost finished, even if the series itself certainly isn’t, I will be revisiting my original reviews from 2011 of the five books in the series completed by Martin.  I have already posted reviews of A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords.  My review of the latest book, A Dance with Dragons, is now posted as well.

As A Feast for Crows opens, the War of Five Kings at the center of the last two books has largely ended, with three of the five kings dead.  The series is now moving onto its next stage.  The part of the story focusing on Westeros and, in particular, King’s Landing is winding down, and the part of the story focusing on the continent across the Narrow Sea and Daenerys is heating up.  Unfortunately, the sheer scale of the transition material Martin is trying to wade through led him to the decision to shift Daenerys and John’s stories back to A Dance with Dragons.

This results in the weakest of the first four books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 8, Episode 4

Wow.  The show writers dealt us a serious twist in episode three.  It necessarily marks a significant split between the first half of the finale season and the second half.  We knew what to expect in the first half.  Now we don’t.

Aaaand the results aren’t good.  The dialogue is snappy, but the plotting isn’t great, and the laziness the show writers have put on display since they passed the events of the books majorly hampers “The Last of the Starks.”  The good news is that plenty happens (more than in the first two episodes), even if much of what does happen is predictable.

“We may have defeated them, but we still have us to content with.”

FULL SPOILERS below the cut.

Pic courtesy of HBO

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