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Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik is perhaps best known for her Temeraire series, which imagined dragons during the Napoleonic Wars. (We'll talk more about fantasy and dragons in a future book review, trust me.) But Novik later earned lots of recognition for Uprooted, a retelling of the Baba Yaga folklore that she was told as a child. Hers was a curious but carefully crafted world of magic, and one of my better reads of the past decade. So it was of great interest to me when Novik published another twist on fairy tales, and one that was subsequently rewarded with Locus, Hugo, and Nebula award nominations: Spinning Silver.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

If you're like me, you've had plenty of free time to read this year. But decent reading recommendations are hard to come by, harder still when the public library is closed and you're limited to the library's digital offerings. In my case, I learned to shrug off my normal finicky attitudes toward unknown authors and to embrace whatever book is readily available when I open up my ebook app, regardless of genre and target audience. (Though I do tend to check out the fantasy and sci-fi selections first.)

I've also started taking notes on my readings, paying particular attention to elements that might also appeal to my fellow A Song of Ice and Fire fans. Over the course of the summer I intend to present short, spoiler-free reviews of some of these books. Hopefully you'll find something that piques your interest. If not, I hope that you'll suggest a similar book that has entertained you.

Let me start with The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen.

The Business of Epic Fantasy

At the Chicago Comic Entertainment Expo, which takes place this weekend, the main stage of the convention center has been reserved for some of the show's biggest attractions. This year's headliners include filmmakers M. Night Shyamalan and Kevin Smith, the cast of Orphan Black and the lead actresses of two Marvel TV shows, and even Stan Lee himself. For those more Game of Thrones inclined, Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) and Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell) will also be spending some time in the main stage spotlight. Hundreds upon hundreds of fans pack themselves into the room to hear their favorites promote their work. Lots of those fans are even costumed like their idols; e.g. four "Peggy Carters" were brought on stage before being greeted by the actual Peggy Carter, the charming Hayley Atwell.

External Link George and Robin Event in London. Last night in London, George R. R. Martin and Robin Hobb-- two of the world's most esteemed fantasy writers-- were invited to speak before a packed crowd about their work, including Robin's newest book, Fool's Assassin. HarperVoyager posted a full account of the evening, but our own MrFadedGlory was also in attendance. He kindly provided us with an audio recording of the interview. Have a listen to the 90-minute event here:

External Link Pat Conroy offers high praise for GRRM. George R. R. Martin has received a lot of criticism lately from readers who lament the pace at which he's delivering his A Song of Ice and Fire novels, and from fans who wonder if he's chasing the easy money with all his side projects. It's understandable, but sometimes we forget that GRRM's success has been rightly earned. Take it from the perspective of bestselling author Pat Conroy (The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides). Conroy has written a lengthy testimonial about finally reading A Game of Thrones, having long avoided the genre, and about meeting GRRM for the first time. He offers the highest praise for him as a writer, and as a man whose success has not routed the best parts of his nature. If you're feeling down on GRRM, this is well worth the read.

External Link Interview with Leviathan Wakes authors. Over at Comic Related, Marc has an interesting interview with Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, co-authors of Leviathan Wakes. Although George R. R. Martin is only casually mentioned in the interview, the two have a strong GRRM connection: Abraham is one of GRRM's most frequent collaborators and Franck is GRRM's assistant. (Also: Leviathan Wakes is competing this year against A Dance with Dragons for the Hugo best novel award.)

External Link GRRM interviews Bernard Cornwell. Bernard Cornwell's latest book Death of Kings is on sale now. George R. R. Martin interviewed the author, discussing the similarities between epic fantasy and historical novels, as well as the connection between Ned Stark and Cornwell's signature character, Richard Sharpe.

External Link Anne McCaffrey: 1926-2011. Anne McCaffrey, the venerable author of over 100 books, including the popular Pern series, died Monday at the age of 85. McCaffrey was highly esteemed by fans and critics alike. The White Dragon was one of the first science-fiction novels to land on the New York Times Bestsellers list. She also was the first woman to win a Hugo and a Nebula award. McCaffrey is survived by two sons and a daughter. Our condolences to her family, friends, and many readers.


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Tower of the Hand is an unofficial companion to George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and HBO's Game of Thrones, featuring chapter and episode guides, character profiles, family trees, and much more.

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