Another Song of the Shiver Barrens Review

This one comes from SFX online, where you can read the whole thing.

“In the end, the main questions are: is it enjoyable? Do you care about the characters? Is it well-written? The answer to all these is yes.

“In the final book in the Mirage Makers trilogy, Mirager-heir Arrant takes centre stage. Most of the action is seen from his perspective, as the scheming in Tyr becomes sidelined and the real threat that has been building throughout the trilogy emerges: the malevolent Ravage threatening to destroy the Mirage, and with it the ability of Arrant’s people to use magic.

“As in the previous novels, this is a story of emotions and politics rather than bloody war, and Larke tells it well. You struggle with Arrant as he’s humiliated and manipulated, and are genuinely uncertain as to whether he’ll endure and what his fate will be.”

Well, they did spoil it a bit by saying at the top of the review that the author was David Gunn, but never mind. I hope David doesn’t mind either…


Clairvoyante is the French title of The Aware, published by J’ai Lu in large format paperback. (I haven’t actually seen a copy yet, but my agent has posted a couple, so I hope they will eventually arrive). Over at ActuSf, there is an interview with Thibaud Eliroff who is the J’ai Lu editor for fantasy. Interestingly enough, he remarks that fantasy genre is in its infancy in France – and growing fast.

I like the bit at the end about The Aware which translates (vaguely) as:
Behind what appears at first glance to be a mix of thriller, pirate film and humour (who said Monkey Island?) is a portrait of a woman who has not been spared by life, and a scathing critique of U.S. imperialism. A book which is fun and challenging at the same time.


Below are a couple of extracts.

Actusf :
Comment est née l’idée de cette collection de fantasy en grand format et quelle sera sa ligne éditoriale ?

Thibaud Eliroff : On ne s’est pas assis autour d’une table en se disant : “Bon, on va faire de la fantasy en grand format, trouvons des textes.” C’est même plutôt le contraire. Quand vous êtes éditeur, vous tombez parfois sur des romans si bons que vous ne pouvez pas renoncer à les publier. C’est exactement ce qui s’est passé avec les trois auteurs à paraître cette année : Joe Abercrombie, Glenda Larke et Sean McMullen, trois futurs ténors du genre qui nous ont incités à franchir le pas séparant le poche du grand format. Au-delà de ces coups de cœur, notre démarche n’est pas dénuée de sens dans la mesure où J’ai lu a toujours été un pionnier de la fantasy, se spécialisant dans ce domaine très tôt, bien avant le boom que nous connaissons aujourd’hui. Les lecteurs nous font confiance et ont fait de nous les leaders du marché de la fantasy en poche depuis plusieurs années. Il me semble légitime de croire que cette confiance nous suivra sur un autre format, pourvu que nous soyons à même de proposer des textes conformes aux attentes de notre public.


Clairvoyante, de l’australienne Glenda Larke, nous relate les aventures de Braise Sangmêlé, une femme méprisée pour sa naissance bâtarde, ce qui lui vaut de n’être citoyenne d’aucun des archipels des îles Glorieuses, et la contraint à vivre en permanence dans la clandestinité. Mais dans un monde ou magie carmine et magie sylve s’opposent sans relâche, Braise dispose d’un talent qui vaut cher : la Clairvoyance, ou possibilité de voir la magie, ce dont les représentants des deux camps sont incapables. Elle s’est rendue indispensable à l’un des deux adversaires qui l’emploie en cachette pour traquer ses ennemis sans se salir les mains.

Braise est envoyée en mission à la Pointe-de-Gorth, l’île des laissés pour compte, refuge de tout de ce que les Glorieuses comptent de malfrats et de rebuts. Mais tandis qu’elle mène son enquête, elle se rendra vite compte que quelque chose ne tourne pas rond et qu’elle s’est fourrée dans un guêpier qui la dépasse.
Derrière ce qui apparaît de prime abord comme un mélange détonnant de roman noir, de films de pirate et d’humour (qui a dit Monkey Island ?) se dessinent le portrait d’une femme que la vie n’a pas épargnée, ainsi qu’une critique cinglante de l’impérialisme américain. Un livre à la fois fun et ambitieux.

The Real Ligea Gayed?

This from The Star newspaper today (paraphrased!):

Antonio Azic has been arrested in Argentina. Why? Because he adopted a baby, now a woman named Laura and about the same age as Ligea was at the beginning of Heart of the Mirage. Laura, you see, was born in a secret prison.

Her parents (Silvia Dameri and Orlando Ruiz) were kidnapped prior to her birth, imprisoned then murdered; their elder two small children were dumped at orphanages without their identities and adopted elsewhere. Their kidnappers were military men serving a military junta who routinely slaughtered people who questioned their ruthless regime. (Throwing them out of aircraft over the sea was a favoured mode of killing.)

Laura was – presumably – raised to believe the right-wing junta were the heroes of Argentina, and those horrible lefties were actually dreadful communists about to plunge the country into anarchy.

She refused to cooperate when a group of grandmothers pressed for DNA testing. But the testing went ahead, and her true identity is now revealed. Her young parents died for their ideals, her siblings were torn from one another – and now she, aged 27, has to sort out what she believes, and just who – if any – are the good guys here.

Does it all sound familiar? I wrote Heart of the Mirage for Laura Luis Dameri, and all the others like her from around the world. And for their parents and those indomitable women, the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo.

Writing and not writing

Thirty-eight percent of the way into Stormshifter.

Yeah, I know, pretty slow going. Life keeps on getting in the way…besides I am having too much fun with having another writer to stay. Serious long reading/writing/books/fantasy conversations going on here.

After some nagging from Hrugaar, I wrote a book proposal for an in-the-Havenstar-world standalone, which I am now dying to write. If I don’t sell the Random Rain trilogy, I shall at least have something else ready for consideration.

Tell me, would you buy this book? Here’s the beginning of the proposal:

THE PRINCE, THE INVENTOR AND THE GARGOYLE CAT (working title)… is set in the same world as Havenstar, but in another country, at a time when Lord Carasma is at the height of his power. This time, Carasma has his sights set on the destruction of Mallow, the commercial and ruling capital of the land called Yedron.

Haze Oakhart is a Mallovian inventor of such useful items as an umbrella that opens and closes, but who never makes much money. At home he is much put upon by his scattily forgetful mother who nags him to settle down with a nice steady girl, and the two argumentative house imps – Dortliss Corkbarrow and his estranged wife Toffli – who live inside the roof beams and vie with one another to give him unasked advice.

Then, late one afternoon, Toffli tells Haze there is a gargoyle cat loose on the roof…


Husband and Hrugaar and I went to see the latest Indiana Jones today – loved the first half (up until the monkeys). Laughed until I had tears several times – wonderful fun. After that, though, I felt it was trying too hard, and the ending lacked a good-guy/bad-girl confrontation that had any meaning. Deus ex machina anyone?

A good review that made me think…

This one is from Deathray magazine (February 2008 issue) in the UK, written by Owen Williams – another 4 out of 5 stars for The Shadow of Tyr.

I must admit to my shame that I don’t know this magazine.
I am guessing, but I think Williams is someone who has a love-hate relationship with the genre, and I’m relieved to find I fall on the good side of the divide! The review was certainly entertaining and had me thinking about my own work, which is always a good thing. Go out and buy the February issue to read it all. Here are some exerpts:

Heart of the Mirage was “immediately notable for fantasy world building that owed more to the Roman Empire and the Arabian Nights than to traditional medieval genre tropes. The follow-up The Shadow of Tyr…shifts the action to the heart of the Empire and replaces the Arabian elements with some shades of the American War of Independence.”

“Larke’s writing is breezy and refreshing, conveying some heavy themes with a light touch and a deft vocabulary; uniquely among fantasy authors, she knows the correct usage of ‘disinterested’. There’s also a lot of humour in the novel; a level of wit – rather than out-and-out comedy – that sets it apart from some of its more po-faced contemporaries, in a way a little bit reminiscent of Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar series.”

Really strong and believable female leads like Ligea are all too rare in a genre where even exceptional writers, such as Robin Hobb, generally use men as their protagonists. The threat of Arrant taking the limelight from Ligea is worrying…”

I must admit, I had no thought of the American War of Independence when I was writing the book; I was thinking in more general terms, but I certainly was basing my story on a background of any Empire resulting in inequality and the misuse of power, and whether the struggle to be free is worth the price paid.

The bit about Fritz Leiber blows me away. Wow.

As for the last bit – well, I kind of thought of both Heart of the Mirage and The Shadow of Tyr as being Ligea’s story, while Arrant’s story is covered in The Shadow of Tyr and The Song of the Shiver Barrens. Ligea is in the latter too, and her role is important and crucial, but she doesn’t take centre stage. I don’t look on her as being overshadowed by her son though – she is far too strong an individual for that, but it is Arrant’s book. And I hope it is still good for all that…

The Shadow of Tyr : “intense and refreshing fantasy “

Another 4 out of 5 star review, this from Rhian Drinkwater at SFX Magazine in the UK (Jan 2008).

Here are some of the nice things said:

The Shadow of Tyr …stands up successfully as a story in its own right. It tells the tale of Ligea Gayed, a woman with powerful magical ability who is trying to end slavery and bring down an empire, and of her son Arrant, who’s born into the middle of a war and turmoil and who simply – and heartbreakingly – wants his parents to be parents and warriors or kings.

“It’s this frustrated desire that provides the driving force of the climax of the book, and though the major plot points are war, rebellion, death and strategy, it’s the intense emotions of the main players that really shine through.”

The Shadow of Tyr is not for those looking for bloody depictions of war, but for those more interested in the emotional costs of rebellions and politics, it’s a well-written and satisfying read.”

Review of Song of the Shiver Barrens

A four and a half star review by Natalie Baker over at The Bookbag, see here for full review.

“Summary: A fast-paced, adventurous final book in the series that will keep you on tenterhooks until the very end.”

“I might as well declare that I’m a fan of Glenda Larke. I very much enjoyed the first two books in the series and I’ve been waiting with impatience to discover what she had in store for Ligea, Arrant, and all her other characters. My expectations weren’t disappointed…”

“(…) more than enough in this story to keep me by turns amused, entertained and enthralled.”

“(…) It’s a mark of a good trilogy that the end of a book can leave you both feeling complete and still wanting more, and I’m hoping there’ll be many more books to come from Glenda Larke.”

So what’s next?

Book manuscript is submitted to UK and Oz publishers, awaiting the rejection or acceptance… so what’s next?

Well, firstly, there’s the clean-up-house project. A month away in Australia in March-April, preceded by several months of frantic manuscript rearrangement and polishing, plus writing a final work project paper, meant that the house has been neglected. [I share house with a lovely man … but one who has not quite managed, in spite of my propaganda campaign waged over many years of marriage, to divest himself of the Asian idea that major house chores of the spring cleaning variety are a woman’s domain…]

This kind of house neglect might not mean much in a temperate climate. In the tropics it’s an invitation for every kind of wildlife and plant form to take up residence, thank you very much.

So I have decided a major war on intruding flora and fauna and dust is in order to clear the way for the coming frontal assault on the next book, plus the next work project, all of which will be accompanied by another period of neglect.

No idea when the work project will start, but it could be very soon. And I am nervous about writing book 2 of a trilogy without a contract; I’ve never done that before because it is such a gamble. Writing one book and failing is all very well – just a year down the tubes – but writing a second book to follow it into oblivion is rather sticking one’s neck out. Better to try something else, one would think.

However, I have in fact already done quite a bit of Book 2, so I will continue and keep all fingers crossed (when I am not actually typing) that someone somewhere will love the story of a rogue rainlord who steals rain and thus mucks up a whole nation and begins a war – and that’s just for starters…

So here’s a look at the picometer status of Book 2 – which I am very provisionally calling Stormshifter.


For those folk in UK about to buy Song of the Shiver Barrens – yes, it is Book 3 of the Mirage Makers, not Book Two as the title page says!

You know, no matter how many times a book is read and reread by countless people, there always seems to be some mistakes that slip by. At least it says Book 3 on the cover.

Buying Shadow of Tyr in Australia

This is by way of apology to all the people who either bought Heart of the Mirage recently in Australia as a result of meeting me at Swancon, or who received a free copy of it as a result of buying Feist’s latest – and then found that Book 2 in the trilogy The Shadow of Tyr was temporarily unavailable.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed Heart of the Mirage and it distresses me that The Shadow of Tyr was allowed to go out of print at such an inopportune time. I scoured Perth while I was there in both March and Arpil, and never found a single copy on sale anywhere except the speciality shops (bless ’em). I know, I know, it was totally ridiculous to run what was in effect a marketing campaign for the book and then not have it available – but that’s the kind of inanity that happens in the publishing business.

However, rest assured, The Shadow of Tyr is now in print once more and it should be back on the shelves very soon, if not already.

Here’s the prologue, just to whet your appetite:

Temellin stood on the sea wall and watched the Platterfish manoeuvre through the moored fisher boats. In the windless waters of the fishing harbour, four oars stroked in unison from the lower deck, while the sail hung like a rumpled blanket from the top spar. On the top deck, a woman leant at the railing, looking back at him.

Ligea Gayed, who was also his cousin Sarana Solad. She really was leaving him, taking his unborn child with her. Nothing he’d said had persuaded her to stay, and his sense of betrayal was matched only by the intensity of his loss. She could have chosen to rule this land alone, she could have chosen to share his rule, she could have done neither and just chosen to stay anyway. Instead, she had put her own quest for revenge, justice — call it what you would — before their love.

He understood, yet was bitterly angered, but it made no difference anyway: he loved her and always would. Mirageless soul, how was he going to live a life without her now that he had known what it was like to share it with her?

As the boat slipped past the arms of the narrow entrance and out of the harbour’s embrace, the shipmaster manning the stern sweep called out something to Ligea, and indicated the limp sail. She laughed and waved at Temellin, pointing to it in turn. He knew what they were asking, and obliged because he liked the irony of it using his own power to send the woman he loved away. A breeze sprang out of nowhere to fill the flaxen squares ribbed with leather along the joins.

She raised her hand in farewell as the boat picked up speed and slid over the first of the ocean swells. Even across the distance, he felt the emotion she let free for him to sense: that mix of love and sorrow and determination that was peculiarly hers.

As he watched, he saw Brand come and stand by her side. Damn his eyes. And yet he was grateful the Altani was there for her. Gratitude and jealousy, side by side … nothing was simple any more.

Cabochon take it, Sarana, you turn a man inside out.

A voice spoke softly from behind him, echoing his sentiments, but for a quite different reason. ‘She should not go. No Magoroth should leave Kardiastan now. Not when those murdering blond bastards walk our streets and war is coming.’

He turned to look at the speaker: a crinkle-skinned fisherman weaving closed a tear in the side of an aging lobster pot, a man too ancient to sail with the fleet any more.

‘She will still fight our battles, old man,’ he said. ‘She will be in a position to stop legionnaires from landing on our shores, one day.’

The fisherman grunted, his disbelief strong in the air. ‘How much longer, Magori?’ he asked. ‘How much longer before I don’t fear to walk me own streets again? Will these old bones last long enough for this ancient to see freedom once more, eh?’

Temellin gave a grim smile. ‘You look as tough as shleth leather. You’ll make it.’ In his heart, he wasn’t so sure. It was one thing to start a war — they could, and would, do that soon. They’d been on the way to begin when Sarana had brought the news of the Stalwarts attack across the Alps. But win? That was another matter.

Hostages, he thought as he walked back along the sea wall towards the town. The Tyranians have a land full of hostages, and they’ll use them, too. How much stomach will we have to go on fighting when they can attack the innocent?

Sands take it, maybe Sarana was right. Maybe her help in Tyr would be crucial. Maybe without it, Kardiastan would never be free, for all their Magor power. Power, he mused, his thoughts bleak, even Magor power it’s not everything. It might not even be enough.