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Table of Contents ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Fantasy and SF Book Reviews







Fantasy & SF







Feature Articles


New ALLISON & BUSBY titles

Scene of the Crime

Yen Press Manga

What makes a classic book?

Judging a book by its cover

Introducing the Original Dangerous Books for Boys

Interview: James Delingpole

Nostalgia: Things are what they used to be!

Nostalgia Central: Carlton Books

Elizabeth Chayne's Reading Room

Personalised Noddy Books from Harper Collins


Stories and Serials


Phyllis Owen: A Soft White Cloud Chapter Four

Gareth Owen: Poem

Paul Norman: Daylights

Paul Norman: Heraklion ~ Outcast

Star Wars: Dark Emperor

Owen Owen's Gallery


Marvel comics

Top Cow comics

Image Comics

DC Comics

Dark Horse Comics

Devil's Due?Comics

ADULT FANTASY BOOK OF THE MONTH ~ TERRY PRATCHETT: MAKING MONEY (Doubleday HB) It's an offer you can't refuse. Who would not to wish to be the man in charge of Ankh-Morpork's Royal Mint and the bank next door? It's a job for life. But, as former con-man Moist von Lipwig is learning, the life is not necessarily for long. The Chief Cashier is almost certainly a vampire. There's something nameless in the cellar (and the cellar itself is pretty nameless), it turns out that the Royal Mint runs at a loss. A 300 year old wizard is after his girlfriend, he's about to be exposed as a fraud, but the Assassins Guild might get him first. In fact lot of people want him dead Oh. And every day he has to take the Chairman for walkies. Everywhere he looks he's making enemies. What he should be doing is ...Making Money! I'm not a huge fan of Terry Pratchett, but the writing is first-class. Ignore the daft names and you're left with a rattling good yarn!

CHILDREN'S FANTASY BOOK OF THE MONTH ~ STEPHEN R LAWHEAD: SCARLET (Book 2 of the King Raven Trilogy - Atom HB) From his gaol cell, outlaw Will Scatlocke waits to be hanged. Before he swings, Will - known to his friends as Scarlet - dictates his story to Odo, a duplicitous monk who has been given the job of recording his confession. Odo serves the ambitions of Abbot Hugo, who is gathering evidence that will lead to the capture of the men who have plagued the aristocracy and robbed the church of treasure. Hugo seeks the destruction of the elusive King Raven and his band, the Grellon. Driven from his home in the north of England, Will has trekked to Wales to join his fortunes with that of the man whose reputation is growing throughout Britain. A forester skilled with the longbow, Will is soon part of Bran ap Brychan's inner circle. In a failed attempt to kidnap sheriff Richard de Glanville, Will is captured. With rumours of conspiracy deepening at court, the humble prisoner becomes a vital link to the outlaws who abandoned him - and on whose loyalty their lives depend - and the throne of England. Lawhead's Robin Hood is unlike any other I've ever read, and has more in common with the Arthur/Pendragon series in terms of style and story-telling, but there are snatches of what life was like in medieval Britain, and the episodes centering on life in the woods are great. There is one more in the series, entitled Tuck, which should be out around this time next year. It's not my favourite version of Robin Hood but it is truly stupendously good.

TERRY PRATCHETT & STEPHEN BRIGGS: THE WIT AND WISDOM OF DISCWORLD (Doubleday HB) 'A marriage is always made up of two people who are prepared to swear that only the other one snores.' From, The Fifth Elephant . 'Inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.' From, Moving Pictures. The Discworld is filled with a vast and diverse population - from witches to vampires and from the fiendish to the foolish, it is a world in which magical books can devour the unsuspecting, and Death can escape to the country for some time off. The Wit and Wisdom of Discworld is a collection of the wittiest, pithiest and wisest quotations from this extraordinary universe, dealing one-by-one with each book in the canon. Guaranteed to transport you back to your favourite or forgotten Discworld moments it is the perfect book for die-hard Pratchett fans, as well as anyone coming to the Discworld for the first time. Discworld aficionados will lap this up and won't want to be without it.

JEFF SOMERS: THE ELECTRIC CHURCH (Orbit PB) The story of the wily Avery Cates, being chased by the sinister Monks and the System Police is non-stop and action packed with lots of rollicking twists and turns. In the bleak and poverty stricken near-future, the population walks around lost and purpose-less. Everyone either seems to be a thief or a gunner. The fastest growing religion is The Electric Church, and their army of Monks and assassins slowly convert the populus. Unknown to them, this is actually a death sentence. When hit man Avery Cates is tapped for conversion he must find a way to slip under the Church's all-encompassing radar. The characterisations and unexpected personalities are not to be missed. Whether they are machines with human qualities and flaws, or humans who consider technology their God, Somers is a master at upping the ante through his compelling characters. Well, it's not often a near-future has us controlled by the church! Some unexpected twists and turns, but the characters are compelling, and such a future, whilst not being wholly believable, nevertheless makes for a very good story.

TRUDI CANAVAN: THE HIGH LORD (Orbit PB) In the city of Imardin, where magic and power walk hand-in-hand, a young street-girl, adopted by the Magicians' Guild, finds herself at the centre of a terrible plot that may destroy the entire world ...Sonea has learned much at the Magicians' Guild and the other novices now treat her with a grudging respect. But she cannot forget what she witnessed in the High Lord Akkarin's underground chamber - or his warning that the realm's ancient enemy is growing in power once more. As Akkarin reveals more of his knowledge, Sonea does not know who to believe, or what she most fears. Could the truth really be as terrifying as the High Lord claims? Does an ancient power threaten them all? Or does the guild face a threat from a much closer source? Trudi Canavan has elevated herself up alongside the modern masters of fantasy. This is the breathtaking conclusion of the trilogy that started with THE MAGICIAN'S GUILD and continued with THE NOVICE. It's just superb, I enjoyed it immensely.

KAREN MILLER: AWAKENED MAGE (Orbit PB) The stunning conclusion to the KINGMAKER, KINGBREAKER series. Prince Gar now has the magic for Weather Working and is able to keep his enemies at bay, while Asher has become the most powerful Olken in the history of Lur. For them peace and prosperity seem assured. But Morg, the evil sorcerer mage, remains trapped inside a shattered body. He knows his time is running out and that desperate measures are called for. Unwittingly, Gar and Asher become caught up in a dangerous deception which threatens to tear apart the kingdom and destroy the fragile balance between Olken and Doranen. And no-one, not even Dathne and her secret Circle, is prepared for the consequences when the Innocent Mage is revealed at last... Like Canavan, Karen Miller has taken the fantasy world by storm with her Kingmaker, Kingbraker series. This is book two, and Asher has come a long way for the son of a fisherman and now comes close to destroying the kingdom he's desperate to save. Utterly compelling.

CHRIS BUNCH: THE LAST LEGION (Orbit PB) In the turbulent age of the human Confederation empire, a forgotten branch of the Army patrols the farthest reaches of civilisation. And as the volatile Confederation begins to implode, they become humanity's hope for the future - the men and women of the Last Legion. A fresh batch of recruits are shipped to the frontier planets of the Cumbre System. Their job is to keep the peace - among the ruling class, the local aliens, and a terrorist faction bent on revolution. But when the Confederation falls silent - and the hit-and-run violence of the rebels escalates - the army becomes the law. And a planet on the edge of nowhere will set the stage for the crumbling empire's final stand ... Bunch's heroes are a cut above most of his contemporaries writing in the same genre, and that sets this latest novel apart from the opposition. Purest SF, no strings attached, just what you see is what you get - terrifically enjoyable.

LAURELL K HAMILTON: MICAH AND STRANGE CANDY (Orbit PB) MICAH: Phone calls at half-past dawn are never a good omen for Anita Blake. This time she must fly within hours to Philadelphia, her task - to raise a witness from the dead for his testimony. Yet she could be her own worst enemy on this particular job. Accompanied only by her lover Micah, will he be enough to feed the ardeur, the lust-hunger that afflicts her? And, for the first time, they will be truly alone together - with all her fears and emotional doubts. STRANGE CANDY: Both sweet and spicy, these fantastical fairy tales are treats that will leave you craving more ...From a woman who marries into a family of volatile wizards to a couple fleeing a gang of love-hungry cupids, readers will revel in these unique, at times surreal, visions. This is Laurell K. Hamilton's first short story collection - including an all-new Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter story. Hamilton is one of the better ghoulsmiths and this collection is first-rate


DANIEL ABRAHAM: THE LONG PRICE (Orbit PB) The powerful city-state of Saraykeht is a bastion of peace and culture, a major centre of commerce and trade. Its economy depends on the power of the captive spirit, Seedless, an andat bound to the poet-sorcerer Heshai for life. Enter the Galts, a juggernaut of an empire committed to laying waste to all lands with their ferocious army. Saraykeht, though, has always been too strong for the Galts to attack, but now they see an opportunity. If they can dispose of Heshai, Seedless's bonded poet-sorcerer, Seedless will perish and the entire city will fall. With secret forces inside the city, the Galts prepare to enact their terrible plan. In the middle is Otah, a simple labourer with a complex past. Recruited to act as a bodyguard for his girlfriend's boss at a secret meeting, he inadvertently learns of the Galtish plot. Otah finds himself as the sole hope of Saraykeht: either he stops the Galts, or the whole city and everyone in it perishes forever.

DAVID PETERSEN: MOUSE GUARD 1152 (Titan Books HB) It's not easy being a mouse. Bleak weather and dangerous predators mean there's always a need for the Mouse Guard, a group of soldier-style mice who ensure that mice can wander freely and go about their business in peace.When three of the Guard go off in search of a missing merchant mouse, they discover what they had never suspected - a traitor among their own. Intricate line art and warm, vibrant watercolour washes bring the heroic characters of the mice alive in this engaging collection of far-from-cutesy comic-strip fantasy adventures.Acclaimed writer and artist David Petersen presents a beautifully illustrated world of danger, daring and deviousness: once you enter it, you'll never forget it! Charming fantasy adventure - doesn't everyone love mice. or is it just me?

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