Monday 25 May 2015

All The Liar's Key reviews I know about so far

As is traditional I'm keeping a list of early reviews for my newest book:

In chronological order:

RT Magazine - Top Pick!

"The dialogue is a humorous, frightening lullaby that flawlessly depicts this dark, disturbing universe and its meticulously constructed characters, both friends and fiends."

Parmenion Books

"For those who have not read it, the Broken Empire series is an excellent fantasy series, one that take the reader right to the edge, page after page…. and yet I have found myself enjoying the Red Queen's War much more."

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist

"The Liar's Key is Mark Lawrence's most solid effort thus far!"

Lynn's Books

"This is a great second book in the series.  Lawrence takes what we already know and with his own inimitable style continues to layer extra goodness on top. "


"I dare you not to get hooked!"

The Bibliosanctum

"The Liar’s Key is the kind of sequel every reader dreams about."

Reviews from a book-obsessed Human

"I’m not sure how Lawrence does it, but everything he writes is amazing. I’m already counting the days until the next book in the trilogy comes out."


" Mark gives us a perfect second book that, just like Jalan, is far more faceted that most. I’m already looking forward to starting it again."

ATG Reviews

"The Liar’s Key is Mark Lawrence’s best effort to date."

The Fictional Hangout

"The Red Queen’s War Trilogy is quickly shaping up to be just as strong as the previous Broken Empire novels"

Kate of Mind

"[Prince of Fools] was quite a delightful read. So, I'm happy to say, is this second volume."

Starburst Magazine

"The Liar’s Key is a book that, once started, is near impossible to put down, immersing the reader in a world seen through a unique pair of eyes"

Impulse Gamer

"Mark Lawrence should be commended on another excellent book "

Beauty in Ruins

"early on, I will admit to a few shadows of doubt"

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviews

"If you haven’t read Prince of Fools already, do that first; if you have, then you owe it to yourself to pick up this scintillating sequel."

And the month is nearly up, so I'll stop here. Many thanks to these bloggers and all the bloggers to come who take the time to read my books and voice their opinions!

The Great Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off -- The Halfway Point


On June 1st we will be half-way through the first stage of The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. Which feels like a good point for a state-of-the-nation catch-up.

By September 1st each of the ten bloggers/blog-sites will have chosen (and reviewed) their champion from the slush-pile of ~26 novels given to them. In phase 2 each blogger/site will read (and review if they like) the nine other champions and give each a mark out of 10. The book with the highest score will be our champion of champions from the whole selection of 267 novels. All ten bloggers will review the overall winner.

So far we've had:

Upward of 30 reviews, ranging from mini to fulsome.
At least 4 rapturous reviews.
Only 2 unfortunate author melt-downs.
36 blog posts from our bloggers and a good number of blog posts from observers and authors.
7 general blog pieces arising from the exercise.
9606 hits on the main blog page.
A bazillion tweets sporting the #SPFBO tag.
& 0 deaths!

So, how are they doing?

Officially 94 of the 267 novels have been cut (many with high praise). 18 more have been selected for full reads &/or promoted to local finals. Leaving 155 to be considered.

Unofficially the effort is closer to completion than these figures indicate.

Individual status reports:

1. Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues

Has considered 10 of 27 novels. A miracle considering her trials of pregnancy and ill-health. Help is available should the load prove too great.

2. Steve Diamond &co at the twice Hugo nominated Elitist Book Reviews

3 books left to consider. 

3. Mark Aplin &co of the award winning Fantasy-Faction

Has yet to start but feels confident that the sizeable team at Fantasy-Faction can meet the deadline.

4. Mihir Wanchoo of Fantasy Book Critic

Is down to six books to consider in more detail.

5. Lynn Williams of Lynn's Books

Is halfway through at the halfway point!

Has finished his degree work and will make the project his #1 priority over the summer. Shouldn't have a problem getting everything done before the deadline.

7. Bob Milne of Beauty in Ruins

Has considered 10 out of 26 and is confident of completing within the 6 months.

8. Ria of Bibliotropic

Is down to 6 books that need reading. Expects to make a big dent in this during June.

9. Tyson Mauermann of The Speculative Book Review

Has 8 titles left to decide on. Foresees no problem in completing before the deadline.

10. The guys at Fantasy Book Review

Are considering their last 6 titles.

Thursday 21 May 2015

Red Sister is Ace!

I got this bit of news back on April the 1st. I had to check with my agent that he wasn't indulging in a spot of agently humour. I think I also said that if he was he was fired.

But no, less than a year after receiving and wielding the Gemmell Legend Award for Emperor of Thorns on my behalf, presumably against someone who didn't review me enough...

...the illustrious Ian Drury of Sheil Land had secured a US deal for the Red Sister trilogy, allowing me to continue my happy partnership with Ace Books, which began way way back in .... oh wait, 2011. It just seems like forever ago because so much has happened since!

So I can (and probably should already have) announce that Red Sister will be appearing in both the US and UK.

No coercion whatsoever was required to extract this freely given praise from supremo Diana Gill, who shook virtual hands on the deal on the first anniversary of taking the iron throne at Ace.

“I am so very excited to be publishing Mark Lawrence’s RED SISTER trilogy. I’ve loved his work from Prince of Thorns, but with warrior nuns and a truly spectacular prologue (and I am not usually a fan of prologues)—RED SISTER is a bold, big step up for this truly talented author.

Everyone here at Ace and Berkley are huge fans of Mark’s lyrical writing and we are absolutely thrilled both to continue working with him and to introduce readers to this epic new world, its remarkable women characters and riveting story, and an unforgettable heroine.”

So there you have it! Hooray!

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Some Thorns/Fools art!

These are the three winners of the art contest over on

Check out all the other entries!

                                               Snorri with Einmyria by Pen Astridge

                                            Gorgoth with baby by Joyce van Paassen

Snorri and the Graveyard Unborn by John Stewart

Sunday 17 May 2015

My alphabet of SFF goodness.

My current work in progress has hit a sticky patch, so naturally I'm wasting time on the internet.

Here's the challenge - do it and I'll link yours at the end of this blog.

For each letter of the alphabet choose your favourite fantasy/sci-fi book that you have on your shelves by an author whose surname starts with that letter. Put them in order. Show us!

Here's my alphabet of SFF goodness:

I would have gone with Adam's Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy but couldn't find it on the shelf, just Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and Asimov beats that out.

I absolutely couldn't find an 'E'. We had Ende's Never Ending Story until recently but must have given it to the charity shop. I have Erikson's Gardens of the Moon but haven't read it. Just in shot is Edding's Belgariath the Sorcerer. I haven't read it, but I have read Edding's Belgariath and I enjoyed it when I was 15.

Feist & Wurts Mistress of the Empire was an easy choice, Gemmell (no dust jacket, so photo added) beat out Alan Garner's Moon of Gomrath. Hobb was easy. Had no 'I' so there's John Irving - A Prayer for Owen Meany. It does have a single 'fantasy' element in it. Had no 'J' but I'm saying Wynne is Diana Wynne Jones' middle name! Would have used John Hornor Jacobs' The Incorruptibles but I gave the ARC to a blogger last year.

Stephen King's Wizard and Glass proved tricky to photograph... Lots of good K's but had to go with King. Lots of good Kings but had to go with this, book 4 in the Dark Tower series.

Easy choice for L and M. N was easy as I have few of those. Peake edged Pratchett. Rothfuss pushed out Ryan, Scalzi edged Schafer.
 Lord of the Rings had no dust jacket so there's a photo overlaid. I only had one 'V', no 'Y' or 'U', and only one 'Z', but it's a goodie.

Monday 11 May 2015

Charity Raffle / Auction!

Winners = Janice Schubert (auction)
Tom Lewis (raffle)

When they come in I feel a pang of guilt that these generous people have given up this money and may not even get anything for it.... then I remember how that money is spent and wonder how better could any money be spent - when we look after the most broken in society we are at our most whole. You can't spend money better than on these children from whom so much has been taken. Thank you.

It's been a while since I raised any money for the Children's Hospice Charity that gives respite to so many families, my own included.

My daughter Celyn giving over cheques from previous endeavours, including sales of her own book

So what we have here is raffle / auction.

The prizes are

i) a rare signed, stamped Advance Review Copy of The Liar's Key
ii) a signed stamped first edition hardback of The Liar's Key and a Prince of Fools mug

To enter just donate $3 or £2 (or more) to the Hospice Charity and let me know you've done it. Then you're in the draw! You can forward the 'thanks for your donation' email to me at

The person who donates the largest amount wins the auction and gets to choose prize (i) or (ii). The person who wins the draw gets the other prize.

It's a great cause making a real difference to short and difficult lives. Jump in - you'll feel good about it.

The auction is currently being won with a donation of:

£300 / $474
everyone who donates is in the draw for the other prize

Total raised so far:

£1211 / $1914

Huge thanks to:

Trevor Studt
Chris Meadows
Tom Clews
T.O Munro (author)
Agnes Meszaros
Hilary Treat
Sylvia Lucas
Adrian Collins
Janis Schubert
Mia C.
Tom Lewis
Andy Mammel
Joe Dorrian
Charlie Hopkins
Sue Armitage
Nicholas Talty
Beatriz Ogeia
Dean Clark
Tracey Cairns
Louise Warren
Stacey Newman
Pen Astridge
Jude Hunter
Kareem Mahfouz
Jonathan Ashman

Sunday 10 May 2015

Signed and numbered edition of The Liar's Key

The Quill & Claw are doing a limited run of 100 signed and numbered (& stamped with an embosser) first editions of The Liar's Key.

They went on sale last night. Reserve yours HERE.

Currently 25 of 100 remain - so get them while they're hot!

Thursday 7 May 2015

When the language flexes its muscles.

The other day I made a post about poetry that immediately gathered a bunch of comments that can be summarised by a single example. "I hate poetry." That particular comment was made by a prize-winning science fiction author whose d├ębut I enjoyed a few years back and who likes my own work a fair bit.

A lot of people say they hate poetry. That's fair enough - the school system bears a considerable responsibility for that. Nothing sucks the joy out of something like taking it apart, force-feeding the pieces to children, and requiring them to vomit them back out.

Poetry is a distillation, the highest concentration of linguistic content, and like all strong flavours it won't be for everyone at every stage in their life.

Another side of the coin of course is that many readers don't understand what poetic language is. They often don't know they're reading it, even as it affects them.

A well-know blogger who liked Prince of Thorns very much told me that he didn't think my prose was at all poetic. It turns out that to him poetic prose is prose with lots of curls and twiddles, prose with endless description, flowers and clouds a la Wordsworth's famous daffodils.

I do write poetic prose. No question about it. But I'm more of the Philip Larkin school. I also write actual poetry, but poetic prose is a different beast, it's poetry diluted to taste.

Poetic prose, done right, is about wringing more out of a single line.

There are currently 1066 individual quotes listed from my writing on Goodreads. Some of them because they tickled someone's funny-bone, or encapsulated a moment/character, but many because the poetry gives them power, makes them noticed.

The 4th most popular quote is an example:

There’s something brittle in me that will break before it bends.

It could easily have been: You can only push me so far before I snap. It does the same job. Nobody would ever have listed it as a quote, 369 people wouldn't have troubled to push 'like' on it, nobody would have remembered it.

There’s something brittle in me that will break before it bends.

is a poetic line - the alliteration, the cadence, the imagery ... all of it is the language flexing its muscles, getting inside your head, making the line matter.

They say that in a great book the language, the words, should be invisible, you should forget that you are reading. I both do and don't agree with that. You certainly shouldn't notice the language for any reason other than it does great things for you. From a story-teller's point of view you shouldn't notice it ever - but from a writer's point of view, it's OK to notice it occasionally - to be stopped by one line not because it's awkward or grating, but because it makes the hairs on the backs of your arms pay attention.

The blogger who thought my prose was not poetic had read this:

I tried to look at her. No point in her held constant. As if definition were a thing for mortals, a reduction that her essence would not allow. She wore pale, in shades. She had the eyes of everyone who ever cared. And wings – she had those too, but not in white and feathers, rather in the surety of flight. The potential of sky wrapped her. Sometimes her skin seemed to be clouds, moving one across the other. I looked away.

That practically is a poem.

So - you may say you don't like poetry, and perhaps even without a formal education you would have never taken to it, but don't close yourself off to the power of the language and the fact that as prose edges toward the poetic it says more with less. Books are about story, but they're also about words, and lines. Take a moment to appreciate the parts as well as the whole. Often they're the reason a passage or scene sticks with you your whole life.


When it comes to actual poetry in fantasy books - I'm less keen, partly because often it's bad poetry. I did feel though that some of the poems in Lord of the Rings added to it, specifically:

The Road Goes Ever On
All that is Gold does not Glitter
The World was young in Durin's day

I also liked from The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant this cheerful ditty that sets the tone:

These are the pale death
Which men miscall their lives:
for all the scents of green things growing,
each breathe is but an exhalation of the grave.
Bodies jerk like puppet corpses,
And hell walks laughing -

And from Stephen King's IT this haiku:

Your hair is winter fire
January embers
My heart burns there, too.

Monday 4 May 2015

The Annual Give-aways!

The good folk at Voyager have sent me a bunch of early copies of The Liar's Key and as is my wont I'm going to give one away a signed one at random to:

i) a person on the list of people who follow this blog.
ii) a person who friends or follows me on Goodreads.
iii) a person who follows me on Twitter.
iv) a person who friends or follows me on Facebook.

I'll make the draw on Wednesday, the 6th of May and send four copies out the next day! has spoken! (weirdly the numbers missed by just one or two several people I know well)

Blog follower = Emily Sian (@thefantasynook)
Goodreads friend/follower = Nicholas Schmiedicker (@nschmiedicker)
Twitter winner = @sfftales
Facebook friend/follower = Jenna Johnson.

You can have a signed Prince of Fools paperback (US or UK), or a signed UK hardback The Liar's Key (or indeed paperbacks or hardbacks of King or Emperor of Thorns as available). Email me your choice, address, &/or question + if you want a dedication, to )