Saturday 19 August 2017

Grimdark. We're nailing it down!

 Image result for beyond redemption

The process of defining "grimdark" is not a war of words but a war for a word. There are those who use 'grimdark' as a pejorative for a vague group of things they dislike, there are grimdark aficionados who see the term as descriptor for an aesthetic that requires the presence of a number of distinct elements which may include moral greyness, bleakness, and nihilism, and there are some (an apparent majority) who just see it as the setting on a control knob relating to general levels of violence and ickyness... Here all are free to battle it out and define this word through usage and example. Let your voice be heard!

Note, this isn't something you "win" at. Nobody is saying a high grimdark score means a good book, or vice versa.

One thing to note is that if you look at the individual polls it's hard to find any single book that doesn't have at least one vote in every category. This wide spread of opinions on every book shows that the voters' opinions on what grimdark is must be quite diverse. The elements one reader considers grimdark can be quite different from those of the next reader.

New for voting: (click on any book name to vote)
Suggestions for other grimdark works welcome - they need to be popular enough to attract a meaningful number of votes from the people I can reach on social media. The list is primarily of books that are/may be grimdark with a spread of others to show the range.

This is the list of titles, ranked by average grimdark content:
(this list says nothing about quality, many excellent books at all levels)
Please only vote on a book IF YOU HAVE READ IT, not based on other's opinions.

Beyond Redemption - by Michael R Fletcher, Grimdark Rating 4.66
The Darkness That Comes Before - by R. Scott Bakker, Grimdark Rating 4.57
Prince of Thorns - by Mark Lawrence, Grimdark Rating 4.47
In The Shadow Of Their Dying - by Michael R. Fletcher & Anna Smith Spark, Grimdark Rating 4.37 (*)
The Court of Broken Knives - by Anna Spark Smith, Grimdark Rating 4.26
Godblind - by Anna Stephens, Grimdark Rating 4.16
The Steel Remains - by Richard K. Morgan, Grimdark Rating 4.12
The Blade Itself - by Joe Abercrombie, Grimdark Rating 4.09
Heroes Die - by Matthew Woodring StoverGrimdark Rating 4.01
Snakewood - by Adrian Selby, Grimdark Rating 3.97 (*)
A Little Hatred - by Joe Abercombie, Grimdark Rating 3.77
Blackwing - by Ed McDonald, Grimdark Rating 3.76
A Crown For Cold Silver - by Alex Marshall, Grimdark Rating 3.75 (*)
Low Town - by Daniel Polansky, Grimdark Rating 3.74
The Black Company - by Glen Cook, Grimdark Rating 3.74
The Left Hand of God - by Paul HoffmanGrimdark Rating 3.69 (*)
Devices and Desires - by K.J Parker, Grimdark Rating 3.67 (*)
Priest of Bones - by Peter McLean, Grimdark Rating 3.63 (*)
Horus Rising - by Dan Abnet, Grimdark Rating 3.60 (*)
The Grim Company - by Luke Scull, Grimdark Rating 3.55
The Mirror Empire - by Kameron Hurley, Grimdark Rating 3.51 (*)
Where Loyalties Lie by Rob J. Hayes,  Grimdark Rating 3.45 (*)
A Game of Thrones - by George RR Martin, Grimdark Rating 3.43
Gardens of the Moon - by Steven Erikson, Grimdark Rating 3.43
Elric of Melnibone - by Michael Moorcock, Grimdark Rating 3.41
The Poppy War - by R.F. Kuang, Grimdark Rating 3.40 (*)
Winterbirth - by Brian Ruckley, Grimdark Rating 3.38 (*)
Scourge of the Betrayer - by Jeff Salyards, Grimdark Rating 3.31 (*)
The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, Grimdark Rating 3.29 (*)
Prince of Fools - by Mark Lawrence, Grimdark Rating 3.27
Nevernight - by Jay Kristoff, Grimdark Rating 3.25 (*)
Perdido Street Station - by China Mieville, Grimdark Rating 3.21 (*)
The Vagrant - by Peter Newman, Grimdark Rating 3.20
Lord Foul's Bane - by Stephen R Donaldson, Grimdark Rating 3.20
The Emperor's Blades - by Brian Staveley, Grimdark Rating 3.11 (*)
Red Sister - by Mark Lawrence, Grimdark Rating 3.04
The Library at Mount Char - by Scott HawkinsGrimdark Rating 2.89 (*)
The Grey Bastards - by Jonathan French, Grimdark Rating 2.89 (*)
Shadow of the Torturer - by Gene Wolfe, Grimdark Rating 2.88 (*)
The Last Wish - by Andrzej Sapkowski, Grimdark Rating 2.82
The Way of Shadows - by Brent Weeks, Grimdark Rating 2.78
Traitor's Blade - by Sebastian de Castell, Grimdark Rating 2.74 (*)
The Girl And The Stars - by Mark Lawrence, Grimdark Rating 2.68
Conan - by Howard, Sprague de Camp & Lin CarterGrimdark Rating 2.68
Half a King - by Joe Abercrombie, Grimdark Rating 2.67
The Gunslinger - by Stephen King, Grimdark Rating 2.66
Bloodsong - by Anthony RyanGrimdark Rating 2.66 
The Red Knight - by Miles Cameron, Grimdark Rating 2.66 (*)
The Traitor Baru Cormorant - by Seth DickinsonGrimdark Rating 2.62 (*)
Ember In The Ashes - by Sabaa TahirGrimdark Rating 2.60 (*)
The Warded Man by Peter V. BrettGrimdark Rating 2.56
The Fifth Season - by N.K. Jemisin, Grimdark Rating 2.52
The Sword of Kaigen - by M.L Wang, Grimdark Rating 2.34
The Lies of Locke Lamora - by Scott Lynch, Grimdark Rating 2.32
The Blacktongue Thief - by Christopher Buehlman, Grimdark Rating 2.32 (*)
Legend - by David Gemmell, Grimdark Rating 2.27
Malice - by John Gwynne, Grimdark Rating 2.23
The Final Empire - by Brandon Sanderson, Grimdark Rating 1.97
Assassin's Apprentice - by Robin Hobb, Grimdark Rating 1.96
The Book That Wouldn't Burn - by Mark Lawrence, Grimdark Rating 1.90 (*)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - by N.K. Jemisin, Grimdark Rating 1.78 
Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames, Grimdark Rating 1.72 (*)
The Innocent Mage - by Karen MillerGrimdark Rating 1.54 (*)
The Sword of Truth - by Terry Goodkind, Grimdark Rating 1.51
Magician - by Raymond E Feist, Grimdark Rating 1.46
One Word Kill  - by Mark Lawrence,  Grimdark rating 1.28 (*)
The Pawn of Prophecy - by David Eddings, Grimdark Rating 1.26
The Sword of Shannara - by Terry Brooks, Grimdark Rating 1.16

(*) Average based on fewer than 100 votes

Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter.  #Prizes #FreeContent

Thursday 17 August 2017

The biggest fantasy debuts in the past decade!

The biggest fantasy debuts in the past decade!
(this started as the past decade and I've added to it each year)

This list is restricted to "epicish" fantasy, which by my off the cuff definition generally involves a secondary world and warfare based on sword and spear.

The reason for such restriction is simple - it's my favourite kind of fantasy, and were I to include YA fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal fantasy, romance fantasy etc the great majority of the the books below would be swept off the table because the truth is that "epicish" fantasy is a niche genre and sells far fewer books than the kinds of fiction I just listed.

I crowd sourced this list over at r/fantasy and if you have a debut book you think fits, please mention it in the comments.

The numbers in brackets are the number of Goodreads ratings the book has. Since this is directly related to sales it is a clear indication of the "size" of that debut.

I have included some titles that aren't really "epicish" but don't seem to fall into the other categories I mentioned either. They are probably close to magical realism, which crosses over well into the general readership and gets big sales. I've left them (shaded red) as reminders that the kind of fantasy shown here constitute small fish in a big pond!

Where an author has debuted in epic fantasy but had previous books I've shaded them grey. Marlon James, for example, won the Man Booker Prize with an earlier novel. So his debut in epic fantasy is not his debut.

Where an author has been published under a different name before I shade their debut under a new name in blue.

Where I had more than three I have stuck to the top three except in cases of ties.

2007 - The Name of the Wind (708K), The Summoner (12K)

2008 - The Way of Shadows (147K), The Warded Man (107K), The Steel Remains (15K)

2009 - The Dwarves (11K), Lamentation (3K), The Adamantine Palace (2K)

2010 - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (63K)

2011 - The Night Circus (743K), Prince of Thorns (110K), Blood Song (79K), Theft of Swords (61K)

2012 - Malice (19K), The Red Knight (16K),  Throne of the Crescent Moon (11K)

2013 - The Golem and the Jinni (111K), Promise of Blood (48K), Senlin Ascends (18K), The Thousand Names (17K)

2014 - The Emperor's Blades (35K), The Goblin Emperor (26K), The Shadow of What Was Lost (26K), Traitor's Blade (17K)

2015 - The Library at Mount Char (32K), Dawn of Wonder (22K), Free the Darkness (15K), The Grace of Kings (11K)

2016 - The Star-Touched Queen (22K), Benjamin Ashwood (4K), The Crimson Queen (4K), Hope and Red (2K), The Summer Dragon (2K)

2017 - The Bear and the Nightingale (115K), Kings of the Wyld (25K), The Rage of Dragons (12K), Jade City (8K), Blackwing (5K)

2018 - Children of Blood and Bone (183K), The Poppy War (73K), Priest of Bones (3K), Empire of Sand (7K), The Wolf of Oren-Yaro (2K)

2019 - The Ten Thousand Doors of January (79K), Gideon the Ninth (56K), 
Black Leopard Red Wolf (19K)The Raven Tower (15K), The Ruin of Kings (7k), The Gutter Prayer (3K), Master of Sorrows (2K)

2020 - The Year of the Witching (28K), All the Stars and Teeth (25K), Bone Shard Daughter (18K), The Unspoken Name (7K), The Last Smile in Sunder City (5K)The Kingdom of Liars (2K)

2021 - She Who Became The Sun (65K), The Witch's Heart (48K), The Gilded Ones (46K), He Who Fights With Monsters (22K), The Blacktongue Thief (20K)

2022 - Daughter Of The Moon Goddess (77K), Kaikeyi (26K), The Stardust Thief (21K)

2023 - Ink Blood Sister Scribe (28K)Godkiller (17K), Daughters of Izdihar (2K), The Sun and the Void (2K)

Red = not both 'adult' & 'epicish'.
Blue = previously published under different name.
Grey = previously published in different genre/sub genre. 

Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter.  #Prizes #FreeContent 

Monday 14 August 2017

Prince of Thorns at 6!

Prince of Thorns is 6 years in print!

Check out the fifthfourththirdsecond, and first birthday round-ups. 

I now have 7 books on the shelves!

Being a numbers guy as well as a words guy I like to keep track of things and record them for when I'm a doddery old guy looking back at my 'glory' days.

In its 5th year the 500,000th copy of Prince of Thorns was sold!

And the book was translated into its 23rd language (Iranian!)

On Goodreads Prince of Thorns has passed 60,000 ratings!

And Prince of Thorns continues to attract ratings on Amazon

And the blog has very nearly broken two million views!

And finally my snail's pace conquest of Twitter continues its crawl.

Saturday 12 August 2017

Badge, pin ... whatever, it's a contest!

Contest Closed

Very many thanks for all the great entries!

So, Queen Robin of Hobb was in San Diego recently at the Comic-Con when she spied Ace giving away badges with my book on!

Using all her powers of persuasion she badgered (*) them out of four sets and very kindly sent them all the way to merry old England.

(*) her word ... would Robin Hobb sink to punning? You decide.

Anyway. Each of these sets is actually a promotion and lets you email to claim one free book from:

Mark Lawrence - Prince of Thorns
Karen Chance - Touch the Dark
Simon R Green - The Man With The Golden Torc (I've read this! It's funny!)
Chloe Neill - Some Girls Bite


So, rather than hoard them I am going to give them away. Since they are badges, let's have a badge contest. To enter simply make your own badge celebrating any book and send me a photo of you wearing it (with a close up too if it isn't sandwich board sized.

"Badge" is a fairly loose term. For our purposes it can be anything that you support with your body (but no hands).

I will give 2 of the sets away to the 2 best entries and 2 more away to 2 randomly selected entries.

Here's mine. It took me ages! AGES!

Yes, I am very serious about all this.


The random winners are #5 & #7.
The "best" I'm choosing on the grounds of badginess, darig to show your face, creativity, and getting your crayon out. Tough call but it goes to,
#9 #4
Shout out to #10 for great artwork ... fails a bit as a badge though. I'll be hoping to put a copy on my "wall of Jorgs" though!


#10 Brandon

#9 Andrew

#8 Rinke

#7 Angi

#6 John

#5 Helen (shy)

#4 Nikolas

#3 Paul: symbol of The Orcslayer from The Eighth God by Paul Lavender

#2 Angela and friend.

#1 Kirsten

Wednesday 9 August 2017

Grey Sister has a cover!

The US cover for Grey Sister has been released by Ace.

And here it is!

Art by Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme.

In Mystic Class Nona Grey begins to learn the secrets of the universe. But so often even the deepest truths just make our choices harder. Before she leaves the Convent of Sweet Mercy Nona must choose her path and take the red of a Martial Sister, the grey of a Sister of Discretion, the blue of a Mystic Sister or the simple black of a Bride of the Ancestor and a life of prayer and service.

All that stands between her and these choices are the pride of a thwarted assassin, the ambition of a would-be empress wielding the Inquisition like a blade, and the vengeance of the empire’s richest lord.

As the world narrows around her, and her enemies attack her through the system she has sworn to, Nona must find her own path despite the competing pull of friendship, revenge, ambition, and loyalty.

And in all this only one thing is certain.


There will be blood.

Grey Sister comes out in April.

Pre-order it in the US or UK. And mark it to-read on Goodreads!