Every fantasy and science-fiction fan loves a good cover. I discovered Frank Victoria’s artwork on the covers of The Chronicles of the Tree by Mary Victoria ( his wife and my favourite new fantasy author). I particularly loved the artwork for Chronicles of the Tree, not just because they captured the immense scope of the world Mary created, but that they also have that wonderful ethereal quality which was once so traditional to fantasy cover art.
Modern cover art is evolving into stark, minimal covers with more branding and little storytelling. An exceptional cover should encompass all that is integral to the story, and that is just what these do.
Year of the Dragon indeed. City of Dragons the latest instalment in the Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb, is the book I am most looking forward to in 2012. I think all of her fans were longing for a return to Bingtown and the Rain Wilds (well actually we’re also all longing for a return to the Six Duchies but I’m sure it’s not going to happen) and what a return it was. They were nothing short of brilliant. Something akin to when you get to the end of an epic fantasy series and everything happens exactly as you want it to happen and fills you with all sorts of rampant glee. Only these were just the first two. It could be because they were originally intended to be just a two volume series (the thought fills me with horror) and the pace is a lot faster than her usual sort. With the world building long established the books plunge straight in, with a disparate host of new characters and a group of Dragons who you fall desperately in love with and almost forget about the humans.
I actually managed to knock over a whole lot of my reading list this year, at least two or three books a month, including re-reads. I am, quite frankly, surprised at myself (and insufferably pleased with myself I might add) that I not only managed to get through a large quantity, I branched out a lot and read a good variety. It is no mean feat that I get through a book that (if not an Enid Blyton) does not grace me with the presence of a dragon.
The Tree is all the world. And that world is dying …
After Samiha is thrown from the docks in Argos city, Tymon is condemned to a life of slavery in a Tree-mine. During his ordeals, he glimpses a vision of his love and becomes obsessed by the thought that she is still alive. When disaster strikes the mine, he is left wandering the tunnels at the heart of the Tree, clinging to the hope that he might find her once again.
The World Tree rises up out of the seething clouds like a green mountain. All creation nestles in its green branches. There is no world besides this one … or so the people believe.
Tymon grows up at Argos seminary in the lush heart of the Central Canopy, where science is a heretical pursuit and travel beyond the Tree is banned. But he yearns to break free of these rules and discover new horizons. When he
meets a despised Nurian slave in the city baths, his dreams of freedom take on a completely different meaning.