Monday, March 17, 2014

The Boy With The Porcelain Blade

by Den Patrick

The Boy With The Porcelain Blade is a successful adventurous addition to Fantasy cannon, carving out its own niche. Written at a breezy pace, alternating between past and present(but not quite successfully as Mark Lawrence did with his Broken Empire series), following the self-centered protagonist, Lucien de Fontein, the novel tells the story of the people of Landfall. An origin myth is recounted, ripe with science fictional elements, of travelers landing on Landfall Island after a long cryo-sleep. The people of Landfall apparently use English to communicate but also Italian/Latin names and phrases, so it appears they must be from our Earth. Quite a few untranslated Italian phrases are liberally sprinkled throughout. Mentions of Greek/Roman myths reinforce this Earthly origin.

The folk of Landfall Island are split between humans and a handful of Orfani the Witchlings. The humans universally detest Orfani, somewhat monstrous creatures that are given a special class above humans, greatly at odds with their privileges and gilded imprisionment. We learn little about Landfall, other than its main feature, the Castle of Demesne. A castle divided into competitive Houses that specialize in farming, soldiering, etc. quite like in the Harry Potter books.
Much about Landfall and Demesne remains untold, perhaps fodder for future installments. What is this Old Tongue, if English/Italian are the main languages? What lies beyond the borders of Demesne and Landfall Island? Are there native creatures to this land? Why is there a military force if Landfall is the only Kingdom? Why are the Orfani called Witchlings? Why are they forbidden to use steel weapons?

The cover blurb mentions Locke Lamora and Gormenghast but I found it like neither book. The arrogant, yet still likable, Lucien is far from the charms of Locke Lamora and the novel lacks the filigreed prose of Peake. If comparable to any book, I'd call out again Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire or better yet, the mad scientistishness of H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau. While The Boy With the Porcelain Blade does not quite reach the same heights as Lawrence does, it is a fun, entertaining read with a smashing finale and I look forward to its sequel, The Boy Who Wept Blood, due out next January.  This book clocks in at a reasonable 300 pages. I wish more Fantasy novels employed the same economy. Highly recommended.

Friday, January 3, 2014

My Year In Books: 2013 

70 Novels

12 Audio Dramas

10 Non-fiction

167 Collected Editions  =  260 Books Total


FANTASY:  (in no particular order)

  • The Color of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Eric and
  • The Long War (with Stephen Baxter) by Terry Pratchett
  • Darkness Weaves by Karl Edward Wagner
  • The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
  • Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth
  • Hounded by Kevin Hearne
  • Broken Empire Trilogy by Mark Lawrence
  • Riyria Revelations series by Michael J Sullivan
  • Shadow Ops: Control Point &
    Shadow Ops: Frontier Fortress by Myke Cole
  • The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards
  • The Way Of Shadows by Brent Weeks


  • The High Crusade by Poul Anderson
  • Prelude to Foundation and Forward The Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  • Great North Road by Peter F Hamilton
  • Heaven's Fall by David Goyer
  • The Darwin Elevator by Jason Hough


  • 14 by Peter Clines
  • Witch House by Evangeline Walton
  • Nod by Adrian Barnes
  • Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz
  • This House Is Haunted by John Boyne
  • Saxon's Bane by Geoffrey Gudgion


  • 100 Must Read Science Fiction Novels by Stephen Andrews
  • Doctor Who: The Complete Guide by Mark Campbell
  • 100 Must Read Fantasy Novels by Nicholas Rennison
  • Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe
  • Turtle Recall: The Discworld Companion... So Far by Terry Pratchett
  • The Compleat Ankh-Morpork: City Guide (Discworld Maps)  by Terry Pratchett


(Listed by title, not volume)

  • Captain America by Rick Remender
  • Uncanny Avengers by Rick Remender
  • Avengers by Jonathan Hickman
  • Thor, God Of Thunder by Jason Aaron
  • Nova by Jeph Loeb
  • Templar by Jordan Merchner
  • Guardians of the Galaxy by Brian Bendis
  • Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, New Guardians by Geoff Johns +
  • Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello
  • Justice League by Geoff Johns
  • Shazam by Geoff Johns
  • X-Treme X-men/X-termination by Greg Pak
  • Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman
  • Secret Avengers by Rick Remender
  • Battle Pug by Mike Norton
  • All-New X-men by Brian Bendis
  • Superman and Batman Inc by Grant Morrison
  • Avengers vs X-men by Brian Bendis
  • Aquaman by Geoff Johns
  • Earth 2 by James Robinson
  • Deadpool by Brian Posehn
  • The Flash by Francis Manapul
  • The Metal Men Archives vol 2
  • Justice League Dark by Jeff Lemire
  • New Avengers by Jonathan Hickman
  • Uncanny X-Men by Brian Bendis
  • The Spider-Man titles by various
  • Wolverine and the X-men by Jason Aaron

Marvel Masterworks:

  • Marvel Two-In-One, vol 1
  • The Fantastic Four vol 15
  • The Incredible Hulk vol 7
  • The Avengers vol 13