Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rage of the Behemoth - Anthology Review

Rage of the BehemothRage of the Behemoth by Jason M. Waltz
S.E.Lindberg Rating: 4 of 5 stars

“There is a monster for each of us to face. Some we conquer; some we flee; some we negotiate with; some we suffer; some we… become.” So opens the preface by editor Jason M. Waltz.

And what would life be without behemoth challenges? And what would fantasy fiction be without monsters? Cripes… why are so few anthologies devoted to them? Rogue Blades Entertainment (RBE, publishers of the superb Return of the Sword) filled this much needed gap in literature.

Rage of the Behemoth has 21 quality tales from contemporary authors. Many heroic fantasy anthologies feature the deceased masters, but RBE consistently focuses on showcasing today’s authors. Few will disappoint. I highlight my personal favorites for each of the five environmentally-themed categories:
Depthless Seas: “Black Water” by Sean T.M. Steinnon
Frozen Wastes: “The Wolf of Winter” by Bill Ward (my favorite of the entire anthology)
Scalding Sands: “Black Diamond Sands” by Lois Tilton
Mysterious Jungles: “Yaggoth-Vor” Bruce Durham…and “Beyond the Reach of His Gods” by Brian Ruckley
Ageless Mountains: “The Rotten Bones Rattle” C.L. Werner

Some of the behemoths: The list below has names conjured by me (not the authors), and are not listed in order of appearance…to avoid spoiling the fun: Ursine God, Behemoth Boar, Cockatrice, Djinn Storm, Dragon, Eldritch horror, Griffin, Human Centipede, Ice Hydra, Loch Ness Leviathan, Lovecraftian Giant Crab, Lyncanthrope, Manitcore, Mineral Snake, Roc (Giant Bird), Rock Golem, Scaled Pachyderm, Serpent, Shape-shifting Demon, Skeleton Titan, Wolf God.

Given the number of tales, their quality, and their variety, this is a definite recommended read.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Sword & Sorcery Group Read Mar-Apr 2013 - Sword & Mythos

Sword & Sorcery Group Read: Mar-Apr 2013 - "Sword & Mythos"

We have 2 group reads for the Mar-Apr 2013 period; please join us at the Sword & Sorcery group on Goodreads.com: 
  1. Focused Topic: Campbells’ Ryre Character - LinkNote ~4 of these tales were printed individually in the Swords Against Darkness anthologies, and the entire set is available from Necropress.com (affordable, but shipping is not instantaneous and has some extra hurdles for non-US based members); see the disucussion thread for more details.
  2. Thematic Read: Sword and Mythos Theme-Link: What is this theme of Sword and Mythos? Many members interpreted this option in the poll as any books with a “Lovecraftian Cthulhu” Mythos flare. That said, the idea of the group read is to encourage discussion, and some interpret “Mythos” as anything emphasizing Myth: Discussion Thread on Sword and Mythos
Bookshelf Examples: Feel welcome to browse for some member-identified Sword and Mythos books (and tag your own selections): Sword and Mythos Bookshelf

The banner is a montage of relevant covers.  Credit for the cover parts as they appear from left to right are below (Artist / Book):
Bob Eggleton: Brian Lumley's Sorcery in Shad: Tales of the Primal Land
Frank Frazetta: R.E.Howard's Bran Mak Morn
Stephen Fabian: R.E. Howard's (2004)Robert E. Howard's Weird Works Volume 1: Shadow Kingdoms 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Return of the Sword- Anthology Review by S.E.

Return of the SwordReturn of the Sword by Jason M. Waltz
S.E. Lindberg Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Highly recommended for new and veteran fantasy readers.

The “Return of the Sword” is aptly titled: the Heroic Fantasy (Sword & Sorcery) genre may have originated with R.E.Howard’s Conan ~1920’s, but it is alive and well; this anthology captures the renewed direction(s).

Anthologies are a great way to discover new authors (well, new for the reader anyway). They offer a buffet of stories, so a well-done anthology should contain some stories that, despite being well written, are not what one may normally read. “Return of the Sword” does this job in superb fashion. It is full of great stories with wondrous variety. I wanted to discover more contemporary S&S authors/styles and am well satisfied. Some of my personal favorites I marked to re-read are:
-Wyrd of War (Bill Ward)
-The Last Scream of Carnage (Phil Emery)
-To Be A Man (Robert Rhodes)
-The Hand that Holds the Crown (Nathan Meyer)
-The Red Worm's Way (James Enge)
-The Mask Oath (Steve Goble)
-Storytelling(E.E.Knight) was an entertaining but serious primer--nice addition.

Amazon Reviews capture the synopses of all 21 stories well enough that I need not repeat them here. But to highlight the effectiveness of this anthology, I list three of my take-aways:

1)Author Discovered (for me): I was completely taken with Phil Emery's "The Last Scream of Carnage" (notably the editor's pick). It was poetic like his “Fifteen Breaths” contribution to the Demons: A Clash of Steel Anthology, and pushed the bounds of the genre a bit. The delivery may prove off-putting to many others; I had to read it twice to really absorb it all. RESULT: not only did I enjoy this author, I enjoyed his style enough to want to track down more of his work  (I just ordered Emery’s novel “Necromantra”).

2)Humor can be ok: I have a personal bias toward liking the grittier-horror side of the genre, but this book showed me that humor can be applied well without distracting or “cheesy”. “To Be A Man” (Robert Rhodes) and “The Red Worm's Way” (James Enge) were engaging, well written, and laced with well-delivered humor.

3)Another Author Discovered: Key ingredients for tales I like include: deep motivations, vivid horror, realized myths, and a touch of artistic flare (poetic or aesthetic). The “Mask Oath” had these, and left me hungry for more. More “Faceless Sons” short stories are out there, but those stories were harder to track down than the author Steve Goble (whom I connected with in the Goodreads Sword and Sorcery group). RESULT: even though I considered myself a veteran S&S reader who read just about everybody in the genre, Return of the Sword revealed another author that hooked my interest again and set me searching for more. 

In summary, Return of the Sword is recommended for fantasy readers looking for contemporary Sword & Sorcery authors… and to veteran readers who have exhausted the works of R.E.Howard, F.Leiber, M.Moorcock, and D.Gemmell.

View all S.E.Lindberg's reviews

Friday, February 1, 2013

In Savage Lands - Book Review

In Savage LandsIn Savage Lands by Jason E. Thummel
S.E.Lindberg rating: 5 of 5 stars

J. Thummel is a great storyteller. With “In Savage Lands” he invites you to be carried away. Trust his craft. Three words summarize this memorable short story collection:

Tour: Feeling the need to escape? Not looking for a 700page starter to an endless series? Then read this. Across these tales you will have many guides ready to take you away: veteran fighters willing to martyr themselves, nameless heroes with just causes, amoral fighters looking for revenge, na├»ve and overmatched victims, sentient swords, dragon hunters, and even those possessed by demons! And where will these characters take you? A splendid variety of locations (from deserts, high seas, mountains alien worlds, highland battlegrounds).  Beyond the thrill of exploring these destinations, there is an additional level of suspense provided by the storytelling.

Mystery: Although these tales are best classified as heroic fantasy, “mystery” best describes the author’s style. Almost every tale has a delightful, believable plot twist or dose of irony; sometimes many are delivered overtly, via unexpected perspectives. If you read them sequentially, you will become acquainted with this style quickly; then you will enjoy another level of suspense, knowing that every tale has a unique spin waiting to be revealed...not knowing what it is.

Magical: Every story is laden with fantasy creatures, characters, and environments. From icy mountains to steampunk battlegrounds and savage jungles, prepare for anything. And the tone varies too: hopeful, gritty, horrific, and even humorous.

“Magical Mystery Tour” should evoke trippy memories of the 1967 Beatle Film & Album; unbeknownst to many in the U.S., Mystery Tours involve the attendees setting budget/timing constraints to go on a trip to an unidentified location; the thrill of the unknown and the promise of adventure awaits the travelers. With “In Savage Lands” J. Thummel delivers such an adventure in book form (less trippy and more organized for sure, but sodden with fantastical mystery).

The author’s “mystery” style influence is represented in his other fantasy (The Spear of Destiny and Cult of Death…Lance Chambers mysteries), and fuels these thirteen tales. Thorvald’s Tale and The Dreamer Wakes were the most horrific (and thus my favorite), but I marked 12 of the 13 as worth rereading… so really I need to highlight the entire table of contents (below). It is difficult to summarize each of these without introducing spoilers, so I just list the titles. Lastly, to quote Lennon/McCartney…“Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour…. The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away…”

Table of Contents:
1)A Stand in the Eye of the Needle (First appeared in Flashing Swords, Issue 10, Cyberwizard Productions, 2008)
2)Dragon Hunter
3)The Spider's Web
4)The Dying Light of Day
5)Mortismagus First appeared in the anthology Magic and Mechanica, Ricasso Press, 2009
6)Nargal of Zagg
7)The Fortunes of War: A Tale of Vladius and Stongi
8)The Homecoming of Brother Antonitus9)The Devourer of the Shunned
10) Thorvold's Tale
11) The Gift of the Unspoken God
12) The Dreamer Wakes
13) Runner of the Hidden Ways First appeared in the anthology Rage of the Behemoth, Rogue Blades Entertainment, 2009

View all S.E. Lindberg's reviews

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Goodreads Giveaway and Sword & Sorcery Group Read

Some Goodreads.com updates:

1) Please participate in our first Group-Read in the Sword & Sorcery Group.

Thematic Topic = Anthologies

What? Have no idea what to read? Browse the Group Anthology Bookshelf 

Where?: Please post the Anthology you choose to let others know in the Group Read Folder...then come back to discuss!  Note the discussion thread on the same topic: S&S Anthology Discussion

When?: Jan-Feb 2013; We will target polling for another theme in Feb. for the next topic (for Mar-April).

Banner: Please note the masthead (current title image for the group posted above too) is appropriately drawn from popular Anthology covers. Here are the artists and cover credits:

Johnney Perkins and Didier Normand
Rage of the Behemoth and Return of the Sword
Rage of the Behemoth Return of the Sword

Frank Frazetta
Flashing Swords! #1 and Flashing Swords! #1 (two different editions)
Flashing Swords! #1 Flashing Swords! #1 

2) I am sponsoring another Giveaway of a Lords of Dyscrasia paperback:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Lords of Dyscrasia by S.E. Lindberg

Lords of Dyscrasia

by S.E. Lindberg

Giveaway ends March 04, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Friday, January 4, 2013

Harvest of War - Short Story Review

Harvest of War
by Charles Allen Gramlich
S.E. Linderg's rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Victory rewards the most brutal”. But in a war fought between Orcs, Humans, and the monsters known as the Reapers, who best deserves that title? And will any of them fight for the weak? Or are the weak just prey? Back cover Summary

Context: This is a short story, originally scheduled for an anthology in ~2011 that never made it to market, and has thankfully been made available as a stand-alone tale. An underlying motivation of the anthology was to show Orcs as more complex characters than presented by Tolkien. Gramlich delivers this.

Brutal, Poetic Style: Amongst the heaps of eBooks available, the above premise alone does not make this stand out. However, deliver it with Gramlich’s style and you find yourself with a true treasure. Harvest of War will appeal to both casual and literary readers because Gramlich’s economy of words is so smooth it belies its rich imagery and emotional depth. His prose is: Arresting. Vivid. Compelling. Here is a glimpse:
Across a snowfield that lies red with dawn, the Orc charge comes. And is met. Axes shriek on shields. Swords work against armor into flesh. The tips of spears are wetted. Gore dapples the snow...
..Others are surrounded by clots of human foes and hacked down in an orgy of hatred. At last, only one Orc stands, dark axe blooded in his fists. A lightning-rent oak wards his back so his enemies can come against him only a warrior at a time. His axe splits a helm; his knotted fist tears a man’s jaw away. A shout makes the rest of his foes pause and draw apart.
Only one brief instance gave me pause: a character not accustomed to speaking strangely has a burst of dialogue; this contrasted the efficiency presented throughout, but was merely a surmountable hurdle in an enjoyable 400meter sprint. I highly recommend this.

View all S.E.Lindberg reviews

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Sword and Sorcery Film Queue

I will periodically update this page throughout 2013. Here is the link to last year’s queue, provided since many films slip from year to year: 2012 Sword and Sorcery Film Queue.

An Unexpected Journey 

Dec 14th 2012 (...but can be seen in 2013 )
And the rest of the trilogy:
Dec 13th 2013: “Desolation of Smaug”
Dec 17th 2014: “There and Back Again

2013 Hammer of the Gods

Facebook Movie Page and Trailer Link
I heard about this via the Goodreads Sword and Sorcery group (link).
- Action epic sees a passionate young man transform into a brutal warrior as he travels the unforgiving landscape in search of his long lost brother Hakan The Ferrocious, whose people are relying on him to restore order to their kingdom

The Seventh Son Releases ~ Jan 2014

From Wikipedia: "The Seventh Son is an upcoming fantasy film based on the first installment in Joseph Delaney's children's dark fantasy novel series The Wardstone Chronicles titled The Spook's Apprentice."

Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage (~2013)

Patrick Stewart’s narration may give this some street cred.

Likely to be released sometime 

Clash of the Titans 3 ~ 2013 


300: Rise of an Empire


47 Ronin

Dec 25th 2013

Sequel(s) For Solomon Kane (~2014?)

According to Fangoria magazine's interview with Michael Basset. FANGORIA: So we can expect a sequel to SOLOMON KANE? BASSETT: We intend to film more of Kane’s adventures. The first one has done very well in festivals around the world; now we have to wait and see how it’s received by a larger audience. Our intention is to make a trilogy, and if everything goes as planned, we will leave for South Africa to start production on part two.


Hunstmans Sequel (2014?)

Legend of Conan (2014)

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back as Conan (~2015 "Legend of Conan" movie). Multiple news sources claim it will ignore the silly Conan The Destroyer and poorly produced 2010 Conan reboot (with Jason Momoa, who did okay but not well enough to compensate for other issues)...in other words, the 2015 movie is being designed as a direct sequel to the 1982 Conan the Barbarian.

A Fire and Ice live action movie began being produced in 2012 (and a possible Death Dealer after that?!~). IGN reports this remake of the rotoscoped classic in which Frank Frazetta and Ralph Bakshi teamed up.

God of War, 2014?

"300" meets "Clash of the Titans" in this movie adaption of the video game 

Narnia 4 Movie More Chronicles of Narnia
2014? maybe?…
And after that… Narnia V: The Silver Chair is planned.


Little hope of being made...


Future Release

Elric movie:

Check out Michael Moorcock's blog for details.
Castlevania: Based on Konami's popular vampire games; this movie has been bounced around since before 2009.
The Power of the Dark Crystal (ever?)

Announced in 2005, this sequel to the Dark Crystal (1982) has stumbled, always making some forward progress.
Bran Mak Morn  ????