Friday Firsts: The Builders by Daniel Polansky


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: March 09 |

The Builders

by Daniel Polansky

Fantasy | Novella | 226 Pages | Published by Tor in 2015


| First Paragraphs |

Reconquista was cleaning the counter with his good hand when the double doors swung open. He squinted his eye at the light, the stub of his tail curling around his peg leg. “We’re closed.”

Its shadow loomed impossibly large from the threshold, tumbling over the loose warped wood of the floorboards, swallowing battered tables and splintered chairs within its inky bulk.

“You hear me? I said we’re closed,” Reconquista repeated, this time with a quiver that couldn’t be mistaken for anything else.

The outline pulled its hat off and blew a fine layer of grime off the felt. Then it set it back on its head and stepped inside.

Reconquista’s expression shifted, fear of the unknown replaced with fear of the known-quite-well. “Captain . . . I . . . I didn’t recognize you.”

Penumbra shrunk to the genuine article, it seemed absurd to think the newcomer had inspired such terror. The Captain was big for a mouse, but then being big for a mouse is more or less a contradiction in terms, so there’s not much to take there. The bottom of his trench coat trailed against the laces of his boots, and the broad brim of his hat swallowed the narrow angles of his face. Absurd indeed. Almost laughable.

Almost— but not quite. Maybe it was the ragged scar that ran from his forehead through the blinded pulp of his right eye. Maybe it was the grim scowl on his lips, a scowl that didn’t shift a hair as the Captain moved deeper into the tavern. The Captain was a mouse, sure as stone; from his silvery-white fur to his bright pink nose, from the fan-ears folded back against his head to the tiny paws held tight against his sides. But rodent or raptor, mouse or wolf, the Captain was not a creature to laugh at.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

This is the second time I’ve read The Builders by Daniel Polansky and I already love it just as much as the first time, if not more. This is where grimdark meets The Wind in the Willows and I can’t get enough of it.

The opening paragraphs are exemplary of the character of this novella; and with gritty descriptions flowing seamlessly around a cast of perfectly wrought misfits, The Builders etches out a secret world of cut-throats, snipers and gambling stoats in which I can’t wait to be lost.. 

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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The Friday Face-Off: …But Icarus Flew Too Close


Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe


Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson


Welcome to the Friday Face-Off where this week we’re comparing covers that feature the sun.

This week features two absolutely stunning covers for Brandon Sanderson’s ‘Oathbringer’, by two undeniably talented artists. Published by Gollancz in the UK and by Tor in the US, Oathbringer continues the tradition of incredibly beautiful artwork gracing the covers of Sanderson’s novels. Scroll down and see which cover wins your vote.


Gollancz | UK | Cover #1

Cover Art by Sam Green

Tor | US | Cover #2

Cover Art by Michael Whelan


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

Once again I’m faced with an incredibly difficult decision when it comes to selecting a favourite from two amazing covers.

The UK edition is bold, beautiful and uses a simple palette of blacks, greys, reds and whites to draw the eye. The typography is as much a part of the composition as the artwork, and is in a style which only enhances the illustration. I love the deep red of the sun, and the wispy haze of grey which covers it; I love the sun drenched tinge of the rocks in the foreground; and I love the drama of the sword wielding figure in shades of grey. Sam Green’s covers for Sanderson’s work have always been among my favourites, and Oathbringer is no exception.

The US edition is a powerful and detailed composition which harks back to traditional fantasy artwork. The sword is given a presence akin to that of the figure beside it, and the shades of gold, the earthy tones of the stone, and the beautifully rendered figure all work together to create a stunning piece of artwork. The typography is a little overbearing however and almost detracts a little from the artwork, and my personal preference is for a more modern and bold approach to fantasy renderings; which makes Sam Green’s UK edition my favourite this week.

Which cover wins your vote this week? Have a cover of your own? – Post the link below!

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


Next week’s theme is:

I Got No Strings to Hold Me Down

A cover featuring a doll or puppet

Remember to check The Friday Face-Off Feature Page for upcoming themes


| Links |

S. J. Higbee @ Brainfluff

Lynn @ Books and Travelling with Lynn

Mogsy @ The Bibliosanctum

Steve Smith @ Books and Beyond Reviews

Wendell @ Bookwraiths

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Waiting on Wednesday: Charmcaster


Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme linking Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking The Spine and Can’t Wait Wednesday by Wishful Endings


| Waiting on Wednesday: March 07 |

Charmcaster

Book Three of the Spellslinger Series

by Sebastien de Castell


The third book in the page-turning SPELLSLINGER fantasy series.

Kellen, Reichis and Ferius are on their way to Gitabria, a city where amazing inventions are dreamed up and sold across the land of the Seven Sands.

But when the three of them stumble across a tiny mechanical bird, magically brought to life, they quickly realise all is not as it appears. If someone can bring a bird to life, is there anything to stop these inventive Gitabrians creating a pack of mechanical dragons…?

Meanwhile two strange Argosi appear, carrying secrets from Ferius’ past, together with an unlikely Jan’Tep ally.

And as time ticks on, all the cards in Ferius’ deck point to the emerging tides of war…

Perfect for fans of The Dark Tower, Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy, Terry Pratchett, Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher.


To be published by Hot Key Books on 17th May 2018

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

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Teaser Tuesdays: March 06


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Expect a new teaser every week!


| Teaser Tuesdays: March 06 |

The Iron Ghost

Book Two of The Copper Cat Trilogy

by Jen Williams

Fantasy | 544 Pages | Published by Headline in 2015


Reluctantly, Wydrin looked up into the snow. The foot of the mountain rose before them like an ominous storm cloud, and rising from its centre was a great wound filled with lights and stone and smoke – the city of Skaldshollow.

~ Chapter 5 | Page 30 | The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams


| Synopsis |

Beware the dawning of a new mage…

Wydrin of Crosshaven, Sir Sebastian and Lord Aaron Frith are experienced in the perils of stirring up the old gods. They are also familiar with defeating them, and the heroes of Baneswatch are now enjoying the perks of being very much in demand for their services.

When a job comes up in the distant city of Skaldshollow, it looks like easy coin – retrieve a stolen item, admire the views, get paid. But in a place twisted and haunted by ancient magic, with the most infamous mage of them all, Joah Demonsworn, making a reappearance, our heroes soon find themselves threatened by enemies on all sides, old and new. And in the frozen mountains, the stones are walking…

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads



The Hobbit

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Fantasy | 306 Pages | Published by HarperCollins in 1995


“There are strange things living in the pools and lakes in the hearts of mountains: fish whose fathers swam in, goodness only knows how many years ago, and never swam out again, while their eyes grew bigger and bigger and bigger from trying to see in the blackness; also there are other things more slimy than fish.”

~ Chapter V: Riddles in the Dark | Page 70 | The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien


| Synopsis |

The Hobbit is a tale of high adventure, undertaken by a company of dwarves in search of dragon-guarded gold. A reluctant partner in this perilous quest is Bilbo Baggins, a comfort-loving unambitious hobbit, who surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and skill as a burglar.

Encounters with trolls, goblins, dwarves, elves and giant spiders, conversations with the dragon, Smaug, and a rather unwilling presence at the Battle of Five Armies are just some of the adventures that befall Bilbo.

Bilbo Baggins has taken his place among the ranks of the immortals of children’s fiction. Written by Professor Tolkien for his own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when published.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| Join In |

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Book Quotes By P.G. Wodehouse


Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish, now hosted by ThatArtsyReaderGirl. Expect a new top ten list every week!


| Top Ten… Book Quotes By P. G. Wodehouse |

Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday! For this week’s top ten I’ve decided to narrow down my favourite quotes to just one author – P. G. Wodehouse.  A master of the metaphor, whose books a consistently laugh out loud funny, P. G. Wodehouse is one of my favourite non-speculative fiction authors. If you’re yet to discover his witty and wonderful novels, scroll down for a taste of the finest 20th Century humour.heart

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What are your favourite book quotes? If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to ThatArtsyReaderGirl and sign up!

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Friday Firsts: The Iron Ghost


Welcome to Friday Firsts – a new weekly meme created by Tenacious Reader. New Book: First paragraphs. First impressions. New favourite?


| Friday Firsts: March 02 |

The Iron Ghost

Book Two of the Copper Cat Trilogy

by Jen Williams

Fantasy | 544 Pages | Published by Headline in 2015


| First Paragraphs |

It was Siano’s turn to walk the sky-chain.

She touched the tips of her fingers to the pitted rock of the cliff face behind her, taking satisfaction in its familiar solidity. Below her the tiny province of Apua crowded within its crevasse, the stacked red bricks of the monasteries fighting for space, and on the far side, the twin to the cliff she now perched on sat like a thick bank of storm cloud. Between the two cliffs hung the greatest of the sky-chains; the sky-chain for the Walk of Accuracy.

The chain itself was a wonder, each link a foot wide, and made of gold. Or at least, that was what Father Tallow said, although personally, Siano suspected the gold was only a covering and, underneath, the chain was made of something a little more reassuring. It stretched away from her and dwindled to a fine golden line high above even the tallest of the monasteries, until it met the far wall. Beneath it, Apua was teeming with people going about their daily lives, but you could be sure that there would always be a few pairs of eyes looking up, because you never knew when someone might attempt to walk a sky-chain. You never knew when someone might fall.

Siano had walked all three chains more times than she could count.

She stepped out from the small platform built into the rock and placed her foot on the first great link, testing its strength, feeling the soft thrum as the wind pushed against it, and the slower, more gentle rocking underneath that. She had taken her boots off and her bare foot looked warm and brown against the sun-bright gold.

‘Are you going to take all day, Siano?’ came a voice from behind her. She glanced back to see Leena grinning at her, nervous energy making her step from foot to foot. She was another of Father Tallow’s pupils, but she had yet to walk a single sky-chain or take a single life. Siano pitied her.

‘Please.’ Siano stepped fully onto the chain, the drop yawning away beneath her feet, and sketched a brief bow. ‘If you have finally gathered your courage, you are more than welcome to go first.’

She watched a grimace spasm across Leena’s face.

‘Just get on with it.’

Siano smiled and turned back to the chain in front of her. To either side the other sky-chains stretched into the distance: black iron for the Walk of Silence, blistered lead for the Walk of Secrecy. Taking a deep breath, she let herself feel the weight of her own body and its place in the universe. She let herself feel the texture of the link under her feet, warm and rough and solid. And then she walked.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


| First Impressions |

With the second book in The Winnowing Flame trilogy just around the corner, it was high time I continued my journey with Jen William’s debut fantasy –  The Copper Cat Trilogy.

Just a short way into the book and those expectations seem to be confirmed. The Iron Ghost opens with some beautiful worldbuilding, and already features new characters and new locations. This detailed and fast paced opener is characteristic of the style I so loved in The Copper Promise and I haven’t been able to put it down since!

What are you currently reading? What were your first impressions?

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The Friday Face-Off: Greek Mythology


Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe


Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis


Welcome to the Friday Face-Off where this week we’re comparing covers that feature something from Greek mythology.

This week I’ve found two stunning covers for C. S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces; a masterful and beautiful retelling of the story of Psyche and Cupid. While the artwork isn’t overtly ‘Greek’, I think you’ll agree that both covers are an inspired take on the Greek myth and create a very difficult choice! Take a look and see which one wins your vote!


Time-Life Books (1966) | Cover #1

Cover Art by Leo + Diane Dillon

Le Livre de Poche (2006) | Cover #2

Cover Art by Renaud Bec


| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

This week was an incredibly hard choice. So hard in fact that I had to call it a draw. These two covers are an absolute joy to behold and I wasn’t happy until my heart rested safely in the middle.

The Time-Life cover is in the style of a stained glass window, with blues, purples, greens and browns swirling across the page to create a beautiful and mesmerising composition. The fragmented panes create a flow of movement around each character and you can almost image the light filtering through the page. Bold in colour yet gentle in its forms, with the figures of Psyche and Orual providing contrast, this cover is an eye-catching delight.

The Le Livre de Poche cover is bold, sombre and displays a seriously good piece of artwork. I love the swirl of light around the central figure of Orual contrasted with the shadowed hoard below. The richness of colour which illuminates the throne becomes a wash of colour which radiates out from her form. The typeface may be a little lacking but the imagery more than makes up for it – this is a beautiful and memorable cover.

Which cover wins your vote this week? Have a cover of your own? – Post the link below!

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads


Next week’s theme is:

…but Icarus flew too close

A cover featuring the Sun

Remember to check The Friday Face-Off Feature Page for upcoming themes


| Links |

Lynn @ Books and Travelling with Lynn

S. J. Higbee @ Brainfluff

Steve Smith @ Books and Beyond Reviews

Mogsy @ The Bibliosanctum

Wendell @ Bookwraiths

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Tough Travelling: Apprentices


Welcome to Tough Travelling – a monthly feature created by Fantasy Review Barn and hosted by The Fantasy Hive. Inspired by ‘The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, every month we set out on a quest to track down the biggest tropes and clichés in fantasy fiction.


| Apprentices |

Apprentices are people who are training for a trade or skill, which means they are usually quite young and bad at what they do. Most of the time they are like nurses during an operation, being there only to hand the master his told. They seem to have to do this for a good many years before they get to do anything more interesting, and it is therefore not surprising that some of them get restless and either try to do the interesting stuff themselves or simply run away. The Rules state that if an Apprentice tries to do the interesting stuff on their own it will blow up in their face. If they run away, they will learn all sorts of things very quickly and also probably prove to be the MISSING HEIR to a Kingdom.

The Tough Guide To Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones


| Apprentices from A to Pprentice |

Fantasyland, with its myriad worlds, lands, kingdoms and hovels, really does have a rather narrow career path for those wishing to earn a living. Under the careful guidance of their master, the next generation learn new skills and prepare for the discovery that they are in fact the chosen one.

With more apprentices inhabiting the world of fantasy than I’ve had hot dinners, we’re spoiled for choice with this week’s Tough Travelling. 


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Reaper’s Apprentice

Mort

Mort by Terry Pratchett

In a dramatic case of interfering parents inadvertently altering the fabric of reality, Mort is taken to a job fair by his father in the hope that he would land an apprenticeship. Believing his son to have become apprentice to an undertaker, Mort has in fact scored a far more interesting position, and soon finds himself collecting souls under the tutelage of Death himself. 

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Wizard’s Apprentice

Pug 

The Riftwar Cycle by Raymond E. Feist

From humble beginnings as a kitchen boy in Crydee, Pug, on his day of Choosing (whereby teenage boys are selected by craft masters to become their apprentices) is discovered by the magician Kulgan. Sensing potential in the boy (but not quite sensing the right amount), he takes him under his wing to begin his training in magic.

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Super Crime Fighting Wizard’s Apprentice

Peter Grant

The Rivers of London Series by Ben Aaronovitch

Threatened by a life behind a desk, Constable Peter Grant is rescued from eternal inaction by Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale. And Nightingale just so happens to be a wizard. Taking Peter under his wing, Nightingale begins tutoring him in the weird and wonderful world of magical crimes.

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Thief’s Apprentice

Locke Lamora

The Gentlemen Bastard Sequence by Scott Lynch

Locke Lamora and his fellow Gentlemen Bastards were once apprenticed to Father Chains, a priest of the Crooked Warden, the god of thieves. Under Father Chains’ tutelage, they were trained in the art of deception; becoming accomplished liars, masters of disguise, and con-men with the most impeccable taste in fine cuisine. 

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Assassin’s Apprentice

Azoth

The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks

Orphaned as a child, Azoth is taken – or rather forces himself – under the grim wing of Durzo Blint who agrees to train him in the arts of the ‘wetboy’. Despite this strangely coined term, Azoth is not trained as either a bed-wetter or a male prostitute, but as a completely bad-ass assassin who blends magic and martial skill to become a deadly human weapon. 

Who would you like to be apprenticed to? If you would like to join in with Tough Travelling, head on over to the The Fantasy Hive and sign up!

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The Monthly Round-Up: February 2018


Welcome to The Monthly Round-Up. Join me as I look back on the past month to see which books I’ve read, the reviews I’ve posted, the goals I’ve completed and my all important Book of the Month!


| The Monthly Round-Up: February 2018 |

February has been a fantastically busy month but I couldn’t be happier to have returned to Books by Proxy. It’s been wonderful catching up with books, posts and this wonderful blogging community, and I have a whole heap of ideas for the future of this blog – as well as a ‘to-be-read’ pile as big as a mountain!

And with the weather turning into a veritable winter wonderland, I can’t think of a better place to be than being wrapped up in the warmth with a good book!.. Or settled down to write some long overdue reviews!

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful month! 😀


| Books Read |



Spellslinger

by Sebastien de Castell


| February Goals |

To read four books

Status: 4 of 4 Complete

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To write a review once a week

Status: 2 of 4 Complete


| Reviews Posted |

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley


The Hit by Nadia Dalbuono


| Other Posts From February 2018 |

The Month Ahead: February 2018

Tough Travelling: Shapeshifters

Chapter + Verse – The Hobbit: Chapter I – An Unexpected Party

Chapter + Verse – The Hobbit: Chapter II – Roast Mutton

Chapter + Verse – The Hobbit: Chapter III – A Short Rest

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books I Still Haven’t Read

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Doomed Romances of Fantasyland

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books I’m No Longer Interested In Reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books I Could Re-Read ForeverTeaser Tuesdays: The Grace of Kings + The Hobbit: Chapter I

Teaser Tuesdays: Half the World + The Hobbit: Chapter II

Teaser Tuesdays: Spellslinger + The Hobbit: Chapter III

Teaser Tuesdays: Lois the Witch + The Hobbit: Chapter IV

Waiting on Wednesday: February 07 – Black Mirror: Volume 1 by Charlie Brooker

Waiting on Wednesday: February 14 – King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist

Waiting on Wednesday: February 21 – The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams

Waiting on Wednesday: February 28 – The Hyena and the Hawk by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Friday Face-Off: February 02 – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

The Friday Face-Off: February 09 – My, What Big Teeth You Have

The Friday Face-Off: February 16 – Groovy Baby

The Friday Face-Off: February 23 – The Staircase

Friday Firsts: February 02 – The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

Friday Firsts: February 09 – Half the World by Joe Abercrombie

Friday Firsts: February 16 – Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell

Friday Firsts: February 23 – Lois the Witch by Elizabeth Gaskell


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