After the success of Matt Forbeck’s 12-issue run on the title, IDW launched a new phase of Magic the Gathering comics in October with Planeswalker Dack Fayden under the pen of new writer Jason Ciaramella and series veteran Martin Coccolo. The first issue was quite a fun read, largely in part because it kept the same tone and momentum as Matt’s own issues, which I loved, and I was quite looking forward to the second installment last month. But, for whatever reason the issue was delayed and it comes out today (still a few hours to go for US readers).
The second issue unfortunately suffers from a sophomore slump. Where the first issue was planes-jumping high adventure and Dack’s typical madcap heist story, the second issue doesn’t really offer anything interesting. There is a distinct lack of story progression here and I found that I didn’t like it as much as I liked the first issue. The artwork is still brilliant but the writing definitely lets it down.
This is the year that Wizards of the Coast goes really big. They are in the midst of launching the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons and to tie-in with that they are releasing a series of linked novels that tell of how all the changes to the D&D settings, such as the Forgotten Realms, end up happening. Each book is written by Wizards’ top talent and links to existing series. Bob Salvatore’s The Companions is the first tale of The Sundering and it is also the latest novel in Dark Elf Drizzt Do’Urden’s epic saga that has lasted for a great number of novels.
Paul S. Kemp’s latest, The Godborn, is the second book in The Sundering and it is also the latest in his Erevis Cale series that has lasted for seven novels thus far and doesn’t look like its going to stop anytime soon. I read the novel last month and it proved to be just as damn good a read as the previous two trilogies. There were a lot of plot threads left open at the end of the Twilight War trilogy, even as Paul provided a very satisfying, but emotional, conclusion. With the new novel, he addresses many of them and creates yet more mysteries, maintaining a healthy balance between the two.
In recent years, C. L. Werner has emerged as one of my favourite Black Library authors, especially through his short fiction. Primarily writing in the Warhammer Fantasy setting with an occasional foray into Warhammer 40,000 I think of him as one of the more technically sound authors and someone who can tell complex stories and complex characters really well. He showed that with Dead Winter last year, his first Black Plague novel for the Time of Legends meta-series. It was political epic fantasy at its best and showed a cross-section of the Empire and its enemies at one of the lowest points in the former’s history.
Earlier this year the second novel in the trilogy was released, which I got to read last month. I’ve been really neglectful of my Black Library reading this year, so I haven’t had a chance to read all the books that I’ve wanted to. But what little I’ve read has been quite good and Blighted Empire is a great example of that.
Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder has been one of the biggest successes of Marvel’s line-wide reboot. A lot of that undoubtedly has to do with the Thor franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe being such a big breakout success as well. The second movie, Thor: The Dark World, which launched last week has so far proven to be another big hit and has broken several box office records of its predecessor already. Jason Aaron has been going all-out with the series and its an approach that has clearly worked out.
The current arc stars the long-forgotten Thor villain Malekith, one-time leader of the Dark Elves of the realm of Svartalfheim. Broken out of his prison in #13, he has been waging a guerrilla war across the Nine Realms and it has fallen to Thor and representatives of some of the other realms to hunt him down and bring him back in chains. In #14 we see the League of Realms form, an Avengers-like team-up of warriors from across the Nine Realms, and we see their first outing together. In #15, we see them a second time and this time, a lot of emphasis is placed on the character drama between the characters, rather than on the action.
Over at her blog, Helen Lowe has had an interesting discussion taking place of late on the topic of what makes epic fantasy what it is. Its been quite an informative discussion to say the least (more). The descriptions and definitions that people attach to this seemingly simple 2-word phrase have provided a lot of new perspectives, many of which I have never considered before.
And that made me think about how I define “epic fantasy”. What are the components of it? What are the essentials? Like with any other discussion about the definition of genre categories, there are no easy answers here either and that has a lot to do with personal biases and preferences. I’ve seen a lot of books come out in the last few years that have been hailed as epic fantasy but that I wouldn’t necessarily classify as such, since for me there are some basic requirements for a book to be hailed with that genre label.
Which is what this post is about.
So this is the third such post I have done for the blog. I took a 2-month break in between posts so that I could have some more material to showcase here, and it certainly has helped. There were a lot more books I wanted to cover, but I chose to stick withe magic number 17, the number of books I’ve covered previously.
A lot of the books on this list are next year’s releases, and just as before, they all sound great, even some of the ones that are second or third (or else) in their respective series. I’m not sure if I can put aside the time to catch up to them any time soon but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get around to some of them at least. We’ll see how that works out.
In the meantime, enjoy all these great covers and these books! Hope you liked the previous posts and that you’ll like this one as well.
When I got back into comics last year, Matt Forbeck’s Magic the Gathering #1 was among the very first I read, thanks to a review copy I got from IDW Publishing through NetGalley. I really liked it, and then went on to read many more IDW comics. I’ve read pretty much all of Matt Forbeck’s work on this series, except for the last two issues of the third arc. Put out as three four-issue mini-series, these comics have been among the best I’ve read to date, thanks to the excellent writing, and the excellent artwork by Martin Coccolo.
Recently IDW announced a new ongoing series for planeswalker Dack Fayden, the star of Matt’s Magic comics, and it got me really excited. I was slightly bummed that Matt wasn’t going to be working on the series, but I was excited all the same. I enjoyed reading Dack’s previous adventures and I hoped for the same from new writer Jason Ciaramella as well. And he does deliver.
As part of my “Top 25 Series To Read In 2013″ reading challenge, I’ve read a fair amount of books this year that can be considered to be classics of science fiction and fantasy, in all their different forms. There is a certain charm to all these novels that has persisted long after they were first published. Whether we talk about Frank Herbert’s space operatic political intrigue epic Dune or Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s true-to-style epic fantasy Dragons of Autumn Twilight, I’ve had a lot of fun with these novels.
And that is my question: are they re-readable? I’ve read Dune and Dragons of Autumn Twilight several times since when I first read them in 2001. I think they are rereadable, but I’m not completely sure. Is the question answerable in part with regard to whether the book is good or not? We shall see.
Just about a year and a half ago, I read my first ever books from Wizards of the Coast: Paul S. Kemp’s excellent The Erevis Cale Trilogy (review). Set in WotC’s highly popular Forgotten Realms setting, these books took me for a great ride through a setting incredibly rich with characters and diversity. It was a… bold new world for me to explore, as someone who had never read any Forgotten Realms novels before, and who was heavily invested in Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy setting. Paul’s books proved to be a great turning point and they inspired me to read more from WotC, and I soon followed up his novels with various others, such as the War of the Spider Queen series and Erin M. Evans’ Brimstone Angels series.
This year, I haven’t read nearly the same number of Forgotten Realms novels sadly, but I’ve started to change that around. I read R. A. Salvatore’s The Companions (review) just last month and a couple weeks ago I finished up Paul’s second Erevis Cale trilogy, Twilight War, constituting the novels Shadowbred, Shadowstorm and Shadowrealm. This trilogy proved to be even better than the first, and I’m really glad that I read it. Now I’m finally caught up with this series, right in preparation for reading Paul’s next Forgotten Realms novel, The Godborn, which is the seventh novel in this series and is the second novel that ties in to the current Forgotten Realms event, The Sundering.
Earlier this month I posted two surveys on my blog. Sort-of surveys at any rate. You can find the one about books here and the one about comics here. I really had a lot of fun doing those, and I thought it would be fun to doing them again, but with a cool twist that I hope sounds as inspired to you as it does me. Or maybe not.
I spent the last 3 hours thinking of some kind of a blogpost to write. There are some ideas I had but nothing I could put up today, which was the whole point really. So yeah, this is going to follow the same meta layout as the other surveys. I’m not limiting this survey to just novelists, I’m including comics writers as well.
Hope you enjoy! And do share your thoughts in the comments!