Nov 30, 2010

YetiStomper Picks for December

For one reason or another, December is not a great month for new releases. Christmas shopping is done, publishing budgets are spent, authors don't want to leave their families for book tours and no one is paying attention anyways. A lot of the Year's Best Lists are already constructed and a book released in December isn't going to break any sales records. Ignoring the Tuesday after Christmas, there are very few books coming out and even fewer that I feel are worth talking about.

The Buntline Special - Mike Resnick

Weird West Tale, Book 1 - Resnick latest offering re-envisions the epic gunfight at the O.K. Corral through brass binoculars. Classic western characters Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday get a steampunk makeover and Resnick combines more than a few subgenre's in a tale that is quite aptly described as "weird." The Buntline Special is a must read for fans of Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century books and looks to be the start of a exciting new series. Plus, if you don't read it, cyborg Thomas Edison will get you. Seriously. Edison. Death by incandescence. (December 7 from Pyr)

Star Wars: Red Harvest - Joe Schreiber

Star Wars Horror - Schreiber returns to the Star Wars universe with another zombie mashup. His first attempt at Star Wars Horror was fun if flawed.  Red Harvest is an improvement on that formula, handing Schreiber the reins to a new cast of characters without the baggage that comes with the seemingly invincible movie characters. Part of a successful horror novel is being scared for protagonist and let's face it, Han Solo isn't getting taken down by zombies. Period. It took an entire moon to kill Chewie and he didn't even have a speaking role. Red Harvest is set over three millennia before Luke ever ignited a lightsaber so no one - Jedi or Sith - should be safe. Red Harvest focuses on a Jedi drop out who possesses a very coveted item. But will Sith Alchemy unleash a terror not even a Dark Lord can control?  (December 28 from Del Rey)

YetiStomper Pick Of The Month: I feel like picking one does a disservice to the other but out of the two I'm most interested in Red Harvest. Schreiber's prose reads hard and fast which is surprising considering the amount of blood loss chronicled within his words. What happened to no heavy lifting? Schreiber appears to have fixed the problems (character immortality) present in Death Troopers resulting in pure Sith Zombie goodness. Look for a review later this month.

YetiStomper Debut Of The Month: No rookies this month. If anyone has a suggestion please let me know.

YetiStomper Cover Of The Month: Ignoring the fact that the juxtaposition of the covers makes it look like Darth Dentalcare is checking out the ample cleavage on the cover of Buntline, choosing between these two is as hard as picking the better book. I feel both successfully reach their target audience. Red Harvest produces a feeling of primal rage (which probably leads to hate, fear, and/or suffering). The Buntline Special is a little bit more complex but it works to draw you in for a closer look (at the technology of course). I I'm going to call this one a tie although I'm not sold on the font treatment of Resnick's latest. Which one do you like most/least?

Anyway, as always, if you are interested in more details regarding any of the above books, just click on through the Amazon links. I'm more interested in telling you why I recommended them rather than simply what the books are about. Let me know if there is anything I may have missed in the comments. I'm guessing there is something I'm forgetting with only two books on the radar.

You can view previous installments of YetiStomper Picks here.

Nov 29, 2010

Beyond the Speculative Horizon

In case you weren't aware (and let's face it you are), Speculative Horizons is closing up shop. As such, I wanted to bid James a fond farewell and just say thanks for a lot of quality content over the past few years. Speculative Horizons really sets the bar when it came to emphasizing quality over quantity and based on the overflowing comment thread, I'm not the only one who thinks so. Speculative Horizons was one of the few blogs whose entries that I could read from start to finish and unfortunately one that won't easily be replaced. James is an excellent writer and his commentary is honest and concise where so many of us (myself included) write a lot without saying much. James hits the high notes without being overzealous and manages to provide criticism without it reading like an attack. Anyone who has struggled through writing a few dozen reviews will know how difficult that is.

Luckily, James isn't walking away because he lost his love for the game. Quite the opposite in fact. James is giving up his amateur status and taking an assistant editorial position at Orbit Books. I don't think I'm the only blogger who is more than a little jealous. Orbit has picked up a talented individual and one that can both cut to the core of a book and professionally communicate his opinions on it. They are also inheriting about as much genre cred as you can get in a blogger. I know I would trust anything he might pull from the slush pile. While Speculative Horizons is ending it's run, I don't think this will be the last we will hear from Mr. Long. At least I hope it's not.

Anyway, congrats to James on the new job and thanks again for putting in the hard work over the past few years. Best of luck and may the words come easily!

Nov 24, 2010

Hard Release Date set for Robert V.S. Redick's The River of Shadows

Publishing dates are subject to change. It's a fundamental tenet of the book industry and one painful obvious to any Rothfussian, GRRMiac, or Lynchette. While most delays are self-inflicted for one reason or the other, sometimes a finished book sometimes gets juggled. Such was the case for Robert V.S. Redick's The River of Shadows. A brief review of Redick's website and a few amazon sites suggest dates ranging from December 2010 to February 2011 and later. But Mr. Redick was nice enough to clear things up.

From Redick himself:

"I’ve just received a later-than-planned, but firm, publication date from both sides of the Atlantic. Del Rey will publish the book on April 19, and Gollancz will follow two days later."
So April 19th (US) / 21st (UK). While I'm not happy about the delay, I'm glad they closed the gap between the UK and US releases. Redick also provided a few more tidbits about the final two volumes of The Chathrand Voyages.

On The River of Shadows:

"Book III [The River of Shadows] is the wildest ride yet, and I can’t wait to get it out there."
On The Night of the Swarm [fourth and final book]:
"I can tell you that it will totally, calamitously finish the story. That is for the record and absolute. It will also bring the characters and the voyage full circle, in more ways than one."
Full circle, eh? What else could that mean? I'm glad to see that Redick is planning a hard stop to his series. While a delay in the series is not exactly awesomesauce, if it's not tied to an unfinished book it can often mean a smaller gap between books. I think the tentative release date for THotS is late 2011/early 2012.

The other benefit is that anyone not familiar with Redick's excellent nautical fantasy series has time to catch up. Book 1 is The Red Wolf Conspiracy is available in both HC and PB and Book 2 The Ruling Sea [titled The Rats and the Ruling Sea in the UK] is out now in HC with the PB due on Dec 28th. Both have gotten strong reviews from a number of sources so go check them out.

Nov 22, 2010

Call for Comments - Quotable Quotes

This past weekend I spent a few hours at New York's Museum of Modern Art and left with the creative part of my brain both inspired and intimidated. Now, I'm not looking to place anything there but I may be able to put together a cool piece or two for the rather bare library.

So I'm looking for a few shortish quotes from seminal SFF works. I threw together the list below earlier today. I don't know what I will end up using but any and all suggests are welcome. Even I end up using a quote you suggest, there may even be a free book in there for you.

"I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one." - Ender's Game

"The enemy's gate is down" - Ender's Game

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed' - The Gunslinger

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." - The Hobbit

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." - Neuromancer

"Reality is the part that refuses to go away when I stop believing in it" -Philip K. Dick

"One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them" - The Fellowship of the Ring

"Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die" - The Fellowship of the Ring

"What is history but a fable agreed upon?" - Napoleon

Bonus Points [and by bonus points I mean I will send you a free book] if you have a copy of The Yiddish Policeman's Union and can pull a specific quote. Something about the minute hand snapping off moments of eternity. I can't really do it justice, so any help would be appreciated. I also may need to pull some Norman Partridge off the shelf. Solid stuff there.

Any thoughts?

Nov 21, 2010

Books Received: Late October / Early November

I just got back from 4 days in NYC including a visit to Strands. They boast 18 miles of books. I fear my personal library isn't far behind. Click through for the full haul.

Nov 17, 2010

Covering Covers: The King of the Crags - Stephen Deas

Cover Artist: Stephen Youll

Few images are more synonymous with mainstream fantasy than dragons. So it's no surprise that when it comes to cover art, they're as overused as cloaks or swords.

But just because something is overused doesn't mean it can't be used right. The King of the Crags, like it's predecessor [The Adamantine Palace], has an absolutely outstanding cover. Love the blue tone. Love the text box title. It's sharp, clean and eye-catching. Not to mention the fact that the dragon looks like the The King of the Crags.

For a cover to be really successful in my opinion, it has to be eye-catching, artistic, and most importantly marketable. I like to talk about unique covers but at the same time, if the publisher doesn't put the author in position to move books, they aren't doing anyone any favors. King of the Crags delivers that trademark fantasy cover but in an extremely well executed fashion. Art directors, take note.
In his "utterly fascinating" (Book Smuggler) debut, The Adamantine Palace, Stephen Deas "restored [dragons] to all their scaly, fire-breathing glory" (Daily Telegraph). Now, as the Realms teeter on the brink of war, the fate of humanity rests in the survival of one majestic white dragon.

Prince Jehal has had his way-now his lover Zafir sits atop the Realms with hundreds of dragons and their riders at her beck and call. But Jehal's plots are far from over, for he isn't content to sit back and watch Zafir command the earth and sky. He wants that glory for himself- no matter who he must sacrifice to get it. The one thing Jehal fears is that the white dragon still lives-and if that is so, then blood will flow, on all sides...

The King of the Crags is due out from Roc on Feb 1, 2011.

Nov 16, 2010

Covering Covers: Rule 34 - Charles Stross

Cover Artist: Unknown

The ungoogleable book has a cover. No. Seriously. Don't google it. You won't be able to unsee what you find. Don't say I didn't warn you. Your childhood will thank me.


Looking at this Rule 34 [please don't], I have mixed feelings. I really like the color scheme; the bright red really pops against the lighter greys. The font choice is also distinct and I believe one that Stross has used before. Initially, I thought there was more of a link to Halting State than there actually is but there are some shared elements between the two book covers, namely the "sketchy", almost unfinished style. I'm curious to know if it's the same artist.

But while I like this cover and what I think it implies (some kind of glitching at one level of reality or another) I don't know if it will speak to the right audience. This book is for people who really liked Halting State or William Gibson's Hollis Henry books. While the cover is "tech-y" it seems to have an almost Urban Fantasy  approach to it. An Urban Science Fiction look, if you will. That being the case, I don't think this cover will necessarily speak to the audience Stross wants to find. Don't ask me what would. Maybe Rule 34? Stop. Stay here. It may be that Stross has finally reached the point where his name on the cover is the most important element. Certainly, Stross's core audience is more likely to find this book online than stumble upon it in the bookstore.

Rule 34 [the book] is Charles Stross's next SF thriller, continuing in the near future universe originally established in 2007's Halting State. It is not the Internet porn meme. It is also not a direct continuation of Halting State although Detective Liz Kavanaugh, the main character in Rule 34, did play a minor role in HS. Stross's latest has underwent a strange sort of evolution over the years. Anyone who follows Stross on his blog will know that he had to keep rewriting because while he was writing the it, the near future kept becoming the present. Even the Bernie Madoff scandal ruined part of his projected plot. That guy just ruins everything. But despite the rework, Rule 34 has finally been completed and due out in July 2011 from Ace [US] and Orbit [UK]. Here is the brief summary:

Detective Inspector Liz Kavanaugh is head ofthe Rule 34 Squad, monitoring the Internet to determine whether people are engaging in harmless fantasies or illegal activities. Three ex-con spammers have been murdered, and Liz must uncover the link between them before these homicides go viral.
Damn it. You googled it didn't you? I'll go get the bleach. Here is a direct link to the SFW Rule 34.

Nov 14, 2010

The Genre Landscape - Epic Fantasy

Imagine if you will a world of different kingdoms and nations. Fine. Yes, ours is a world of kingdoms and nations. Then imagine a different set of kingdoms and nations, one ruled not by politicians, kings, and tyrants but rather by (hopefully not so tyrannical) authors. Authors who rule over continents of genre - fantasy, science fiction, horror. Within each continent are kingdoms and nations that mark the various subcategories of each collective style. Their borders are poorly defined, particularly in the mountains and valleys where the continents meet. Borderlands are often claimed by more than one nation and some others wouldn't have it any other way. New nations form every year, others fade away. Some declare independence but are largely ignored. Others have many citizens but no ruler. This world has produced storied kings - Tolkien, Asimov, Lovecraft, Clarke, Wells, Dick, Lewis, and many more - authors whose stories have sadly been concluded and deemed worthy of becoming legend. Some kings and queens still remain - Le Guin, King, Pohl, Hamilton, Pratchett, Martin. But even as the old lords fade a way, the nations remain strong as enterprising new nobles rise up to protect and expand the empires they grew up in. Some author traverse the genre landscape, refusing to settle in one place, while others carve out specific kingdoms they spend their entire careers building. Other authors ascend to the noble heavens of literature. Sadly an even greater number dabble in the dark graphic arts trading their words for mere pictures in the colorful world below. This great world is limited only by imagination and what the human mind can put into words. Let's explore, shall we?

Today we focus in on the continent of Fantasy. Fantasy was originally little more than a series of small coastal towns filled with talking animals and imaginary gods. There were few inhabitants and even less respect. Then came the first king of Fantasy. The simple scholar Tolkien wielded Christian allegory like Excalibur and defined a kingdom of Epic proportions. King Tolkien unified countless elements under his rule and created new lands where none had previously existed.

Even as Tolkien carved his empire from the limitless realms of imagination, it became clear that there was simple too much territory to be explored by a single man or to be ruled by a single king. As such, the legendary crown of Tolkien was passed on to a series of lesser nobles. The greatest of these, men like High Lords Eddings and Brooks were faithful stewards of Tolkien's most developed lands but failed to explore or expand the greater kingdom significantly. 

As more and more people came to explore the wilderness that Tolkien had called into being, a nobility was established. Some lords were happy to move into existing lands, others built their own. Most were temporary, though a few of them managed to establish hallowed ground despite their brief time in power. The lucky few gained notoriety for one reason or another, establishing a loyal following and defining their own legacy within the history of Fantasy. Eventually, a hierarchy of sorts emerged. There are the high lords, the world builders who define the overall direction of the realm. These are the men and women who are seen by outsiders as rulers over a united front, erroneous as that may be. There are also the lower lords who reign but only over a devoted few or a small niche kingdom. These lower lords are more frequently replaced, sometimes fading away without warning or being replaced by challengers with a sharper wit or larger fan base. Then there are the masses of unruly peons, so desperate for substantive story that they will frequently challenge lords low and high for a chance at creative power. In the realm of Fantasy, the peasant king is a common occurrence but one significantly outnumbered by the number of aspiring revolutionaries. And even that number pales in comparison to the number of uprisings who have already failed.

Occasionally though, the High Lords of Fantasy do fall. The vain High Lord Goodkind feared revolt [though he claims to have abdicated willingly] and exiled himself to a remote valley which he claims belongs to the universe of Literature. High Lord Martin, whom many regard as the reigning king, fails to leave his keep and feed his subjects causing many of the starving to seek more fertile ground. Sadly, the kindly High Lord Jordan, who reigned as the highest of the high lords for decades succumbed to illness, though not before anointing Lord Sanderson as the general to close out his campaign of creativity. Some citizens of Fantasy bristled under his rule, tiring of long wars with few spoils. They abandoned the towering castle (some say it will span fourteen stories upon completion) while declaring loyalty to lesser lords or leaving Fantasy entirely for other less whimsical lands. Despite what these poor souls may claim, Jordan is still one of the greatest of Tolkien's ilk and his legacy is set in stone. High Lord Pratchett sits back and mocks his friends, reflecting the most absurd of their creations in his twisted realm where laughter replaces logic. But even Pratchett cannot rule forever. Regardless of how or why they left, Fantasy is in need of a few new nobles to be the outward face of the genre. But who will claim the vacant thrones? 

There is the nomad Gaiman, born in the colorful fires of the graphic universe, who crossed into the realm of genre on a bridge of sand. Many people believe Gaiman could be the next great king of fantasy but he appears largely uninterested in the many titles bestowed upon him or ruling one land over the other. Bombadiltastic as he may be, Gaiman is content journeying between realms and universes, often returning to the underground images of the comic world and even climbing the peaks of genre where the heavens of literature can be glimpsed. Does Gaiman travel ever onward for fear of the lone warrior, Mieville, who seems destined to eventually surpass him?

Ignoring the nomadic savants, the next ruler most likely comes from the houses of the lesser lords. The candidates are many and are more. The Lord Erikson is as close to a High Lord as is possible, but he completes his creation in the near future. Is it too late to earn a title? Lord Sanderson currently tends to Jordan's flock but can he lead them to his own pasture? He appears to be the favorite of the youngest generation. Lord Abercrombie is a worthy candidate although many are put off by the rivers of bloods that run from his kingdom. The upstart Lord Rothfuss has debuted to trumpets, but will the fanfare last? Then there is Lord Abraham, a brilliant tactician who seems mocked by fate. The Lady Jemisin proves to be the equal of any but can she govern a larger story? Lord Lynch is another lesser lord who has perhaps may be overwhelmed by the prophecies proclaimed upon his arrival. Or will the foreigner Space Lord Morgan, son of science fiction, have a say? Will Lord Newton ever return from King Lovecraft's great old home in the peaks of Madness, where the lure of literature can be heard like a Siren's song? What of the many Princes -  Scholes, Brett, Weeks, and Charlton? Is the crazed Sykes madman or messiah? Or is there another challenger still waiting to pull King Tolkien's pen from the storied stone?
2011 is a year that promises a lot of change within the genre landscape. But when the words end and the dust settles, who will be the next High Lord of Fantasy?

Nov 10, 2010

The type of book you hate to love...

Forgive the introspection but I've want to explore an unexpected phenomenon, one that I haven't encountered in my relatively short blogging career. Yesterday I posted my review of Out of the Dark, one that took way too long to write. Quite possibly as long as it took me to read it. And it's not that the review is perfect, far from it. The problem was trying to rectify my logical analysis of the book with the gut emotion it produced.

There was a lot that should have ruined Out of the Dark for me. Significant plot holes, cardboard characterization, pacing problem, and a bizarre conclusion out of sync with the rest of the book. Plenty of fodder for a someone who has a hard time maintaining suspension of disbelief in light of even the slightest inconsistency.

But despite it's flaws, I can't deny enjoying the book. When Weber gets around to writing the inevitable sequel, I'll be sure to pick it up. The rational part of me tries to explain it away as a subconscious predilection for escapism but that's more of a good guess than anything concrete. Based on my history, I shouldn't have enjoyed the book. I did.

And if that wasn't perplexing enough, how do you write an essay when the thesis doesn't match the topic sentences?

Yeti Review: Out of the Dark - David Weber

In A Few Words: Though it feels more like a popcorn movie than a fully developed novel, Weber's tale of alien insurgency provides a few hours of escapist fun.

1) Weber writes action well, using military detail to underscore the human propensity for destruction;
2) The aliens vs humans setup is refreshingly pulpy in an "shades of grey" media culture.
3) Prose is smooth and fast-paced, well suited for the tone of the story

1) Out of the Dark fails to live up to the potential of it's first act with some plot and pacing issues
2) The Shongari and humans are built from similar character stock, leading to character confusion;
3) The "twist" ending is telegraphed and poorly executed.

The Review: Out of the Dark is a strange title for David Weber's newest novel. While certain elements do emerge from unexpected places, their existence fails to be a revelation to anyone who has read the back cover (although I won't ruin them here). As a result, the kinetic account of humanity's resistance against an alien invasion rarely manages to surprise or innovate. However, like the your favorite popcorn movie, Out of the Dark suggests that sometimes you don't need to do anything extraordinary to still have a good time.

The curtain rises as an alien scouting expedition assesses the population of Earth circa 1066 AD. The verdict is not good for humanity - not only is Earth a planet ripe for colonization, it's exceptionally aggressive inhabitants are a danger to themselves and a potential danger to the other sentient races of the universe. But when the Shongari return with their invasion force almost a millennium later, they find that in addition to being brutally violent, humanity is also incredibly inventive. Compared to the other galactic civilizations, the denizens of Earth are progressing technologically at an unprecedented rate. But should the Shongari invade a civilization now capable of fighting back or do they let one of the most dangerous civilizations in the universe to continue to evolve unchecked? It's an interesting premise and one that is smartly setup, culminating in an attack that leaves a vast portion of humanity dead and the remainder wishing they were.

From there, the middle portion of Out of the Dark settles into a rhythm that may be best described as Independence Day as written by Tom Clancy. This is slightly disappointing as Weber's tight focus on disparate characters around the globe could have been to alien invasions what World War Z was to zombie hordes. But rather than presenting a comparably diverse set of characters, Weber uses the global reach of the American military complex to place soldiers (or equally militarized white males) into unimaginative situations. I was left wondering how the street gangs of Detroit were reacting to an invasion of their turf? Or what about a suburban soccer mom would do if her children were threatened by the wolf-like invaders? What of the men and woman of the Israeli Army? Or the citizens of Afghanistan who have known nothing but rebellion? What of the highly decentralized third world countries of Africa? The vast populations of India or China? There is so much unrealized storytelling potential. To be fair though, the tendency toward homogeneous male character stock is not a problem limited only to Weber - it is just particularly frustrating to see such a strong opportunity wasted.

While Weber's characters are mostly limited to militarized males, there is no debating that he is writing what he knows best. Weber goes into exquisite detail when describing weaponry, most likely with the intention of selling our military technology as a legitimate threat to the Shongari raiders. With an almost encyclopedic knowledge of armaments, Weber accomplishes this easily and the destructive ingenuity of the human race is a theme infused into in scene after explosive scene.

Though violent, the action conveys a pulpy innocence, creating a tone largely missing from an overly serious genre landscape. The heroes are actual heroes, the bad guys are undeniably alien, and while life on Earth definitely sucks, other homo sapiens are finally not to blame. Out of the Dark could have been a lot more but Weber isn’t trying to construct a bleak portrait of decades to come, he’s just to provide a little escapism in a world that is all to often repainted in shades of gray. Even if seems like a mismatch on the scale of Return of the Jedi sometimes it's fun to sit back and watch the Ewoks kill the Stormtroopers.

Like any good cinematic adventure, it’s important to sit back and enjoy it rather than dissecting it too much. A large portion of the book is spent developing the premise that humanity is a profoundly unpredictable culture and one capable of adaptation at an alarming rate. This is certainly true - the problem is that Weber fails to put a similar level of thought into the culture of the Shongari. They come across as cardboard creations and it's far too easy to forget who is who in the strangely Earth-like Shongari chain of command. As they fail to adapt to the humans' guerrilla methods time and time again, they quickly lose the threatening nature seized in the initial attack. This trend continues until the Shongari are all but caricatures of their original depiction. How does a species capable of travelling among the stars fall for the same tricks again and again?

It's these and other obvious questions that may ruin Weber's latest for many logic minded readers. Others may be turned off by the perverse (and thinly veiled) reflection of recent invasion/insurgencies. But despite my qualms, I couldn't help but enjoy the fast-paced novel. I will definitely be picking up the sequel, if only to see where the series goes after the frenetic conclusion. Not every book needs to be perfect to be worth reading, but a book's strengths should always outweigh its failings. Luckily for Weber, the pulpy "good vs. bad" atmosphere and high octane action contained in Out of the Dark manage to more than balance its inadequacies resulting in a popcorn novel that refuses to play in the shadows.

Nov 2, 2010

Covering Covers: The Book of Transformations - Mark Charan Newton

Cover Artist: Unknown

It's not that unusual to have a character make or break a book. Somewhat more atypical is having a character make or break a cover. But that's just what happened on the cover of Mark Charan Newton's upcoming The Book of Transformation. The absolutely stellar final cover is pictured above. But take a glance at what it used to look like:

To be fair it is a draft...

Aside from the Karate Kid, the cover appears more or less the same. This is striking as I would pick the final cover up of the shelf immediately (and consider buying it without reading a word...) but the original cover is so bad that the only way I would pick it up would be to turn it around so I didn't have to look at it anymore.

Here's the blurb for the third book in the excellent Legends of the Red Sun series.
A new and corrupt Emperor seeks to rebuild the ancient structures of Villjamur to give the people of the city hope in the face of great upheaval and an oppressing ice age. But when a stranger called Shalev arrives, empowering a militant underground movement, crime and terror becomes rampant.
The Inquisition is always one step behind, and military resources are spread thinly across the Empire. So Emperor Urtica calls upon cultists to help construct a group to eliminate those involved with the uprising, and calm the populace – the Villjamur Knights. But there’s more to Knights than just phenomenal skills and abilities – each have a secret that, if exposed, could destroy everything they represent.

Investigator Fulcrom of the Villjamur Inquisition is given the unenviable task of managing the Knights, but his own skills are tested when a mysterious priest, who has travelled from beyond the fringes of the Empire, seeks his help. The priest’s existence threatens the church, and his quest promises to unravel the fabric of the world. And in a distant corner of the Empire, the enigmatic cultist Dartun Súr steps back into this world, having witnessed horrors beyond his imagination. Broken, altered, he and the remnants of his order are heading back to Villjamur.

And all eyes turn to the Sanctuary City, for Villjamur’s ancient legends are about to be shattered…
 What a difference a character can make...
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