It is time for another patented Sentient Ink Fifteen Minute Fiction Challenge. For those who haven’t seen our previous efforts, in Fifteen Minute Fiction, the Sentient Ink authors get fifteen minutes to write a piece of flash fiction. But that’s not all. The genre and title are randomly generated and we have to write a story around them. So read on, vote for your favourite, tell us what you think and, hey, why not give it a go yourself.
Random Genre: Urban Fantasy
Random Title: The First Prophecy
This article will briefly introduce five of the must read fantasy novels out this year that we at Sentient Ink are particularly excited about. The five we have chosen are not in any particular order, and this isn’t an exhaustive list, but we think you’ll agree they’re all going to be awesome.
The Shepherd’s Crown, by Terry Pratchett (Out August 27, 2015 in the UK, September 1 in the USA)
So far we have reviewed the Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett’s first novel in the Discworld series, and Night Watch, the first in The City Watch sequence. With Terry Pratchett’s sad passing, The Shepherd’s Crown will bring an end to the epic, thirty two year old fantasy series.
The Shepherd’s Crown is the fifth Discworld novel to follow Tiffany Aching, a young witch in training who has grown up throughout the four novels in which she has starred, being just nine years old in The Wee Free Men, up to almost nineteen in I Shall Wear Midnight. Not much has been revealed about The Shepherd’s Crown, but with Tiffany’s fiery character and Pratchett’s famous literary bombardment of adventure, magic and humour, it is sure to be a wonderful, and very emotional, farewell to the Discworld and its creator.
The stone was cold to the touch. Even in such a hurry, with the sounds of Mrs Miles’ hurrying footsteps already fading, she stopped dead when she saw them. In the midst of these massive and strange caves, her eyes found a familiar sight. Everywhere she looked, there were shapes and pictures carved into the limestone walls, some childish and jolly, others works of art, but this one held her full attention. The hairs on her arms and neck stood on end. Her fingers brushed a dozen small indentations in the stone, birds with razor sharp beaks and talons, not a flock of gulls or a murder of ravens, but a swarm of vox, something she hadn’t seen for three years.
Diving into the literary world can be an intimidating thing, all those terms and rules and conventions just longing to trip you up and have you mocked on forums and Reddit. We at Sentient Ink feel your pain, and we’re here to guide you through them one by one. So what is a run-on sentence? And what is a comma splice?
Just to put your minds at ease, I have been very careful to avoid all spoilers for fans of both the books and television series.
Tyrion Lannister is most people’s favourite character (and in everyone’s top three) in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, as well as in the HBO adaptation Game of Thrones. But what is it about him that lures readers and watchers? What magic is his wonderfully crafted character emanating to captivate us so?
Since my last review of men wielding swords, albeit in a slightly more familiar land, I have read three books, all of which were from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld fantasy series and, more precisely, from The City Watch sequence. Because I have a little bit of a bad habit of judging a book by its cover, I started with book six (Night Watch), before moving on to book five (The Fifth Elephant), then book seven (Thud!). I am currently reading book one (Guards! Guards!).
Though I do mildly regret starting with Night Watch, as the time travelling element would have been more enjoyable had I known the older versions of the characters, one of the beauties of the Discworld series is the ease with which you can pick it up from anywhere in the series. This is the message I hope to convey most of all in this review: do not be intimidated by the long list of books in front of you. All of the books I have read so far are more than accessible to a new reader, even if you do miss some nods and winks (and the occasional elbow nudge).
The reason I first picked up Night Watch is because I read that it was a detective fantasy novel involving a policeman travelling to his own past along with a murderer, set in the back drop of a revolution. If this doesn’t make you want to read it then I’m sorry but we can’t be friends.
Not many things can successfully intervene my current binge on fantasy novels. One author that can, and always will, is Stephen King. Before reading anything that doesn’t contain a sprinkle of fantasy or a touch of the paranormal, I often get a shudder of scepticism, trying to convince myself last minute that I can always grab something else. But no – a varied reading list is as important as a varied diet. Picking up Mr Mercedes however, this shudder was notably absent, as I have learned to trust King unconditionally to delivering me a thrilling story. And Mr Mercedes is no exception.
After a couple of years wrestling with magical creatures, arguing with people who don’t exist, and single-handedly building an entire world, I have finished the first draft of my fantasy fiction novel The Walk of Shadows (A snippet of which you can read here). As a result, I thought I would share with you some of my editing process between now and sending it off to be read by millions, as well as some thoughts and writing tips. I should temper this by noting that I have never had a book published and these are merely my musings, along with things I have picked up from other fiction writers.
This is a short story by the author of the masterful, sensational, beautiful A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series, made even more popular by the very much worthy A Game of Thrones television series on HBO and Sky Atlantic. Following the dramatic conclusion of Season 5 with the episode Mother’s Mercy, I have decided to review the short and delightful story Martin wrote for younger viewers (though oddly there’s still people burnt to cinders and with limbs hewn off). Though I must stress this is not a companion to A Song of Ice and Fire (though set in ‘Westeros’ it is in fact a different fantasy world).
The story is very short and simple, but also very elegant and sweet. In it, we follow a girl called Adara through the early years of her life.
The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell was my second foray into the world of historical fiction, the first being Death of Kings, a book from later on in the same series because it has a cool title and I’m an idiot.
George R.R. Martin has crowned Bernard Cornwell as writing “the best battle scenes of any writer I’ve ever read, past or present.” This praise is well earned. His battles feel both vast and personal. There is also a sense of realism that is absent from many series, yet they are still exhilarating. It is no small feat to chronicle the growing up of a young warrior but it is very well paced and never seems slow or rushed. The political intrigue maybe a way off Game of Thrones but Uhtred’s split loyalty between the warring Danes and Saxons is plenty enough to keep you turning the page, even if you have an unnatural aversion to well written action. Continue reading