From The Abominations of Yondo, by Clark Ashton Smith, available to read via
The Eldritch Dark: The Sanctum of Clark Ashton Smith:
“Clark Ashton Smith (1893-1961), perhaps best known today for his association with H.P Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos, is in his own right a unique master of fantasy, horror and science-fiction. Highly imaginative, his genre-spanning visions of worlds beyond, combined with his profound understanding of the English language, have inspired an ever -increasing legion of fans and admirers.
“The Eldritch Dark is a site to facilitate both scholars and fans in their appreciation and study of Clark Ashton Smith and his works.”
If you’ve never read Clark Ashton Smith - and he is a far greater writer than either Lovecraft or Howard, in my opinion - this is a great place to start.
Gorel and the Pot-Bellied God by Lavie Tidhar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this. The comparisons with King’s Dark Tower and Howard’s Conan are inevitable, but to go even further back, there is a distinct flavour of Lieber’s Lankhmar and Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique series in here, all mixed up in a proto-Asian setting, and with added sex, drugs and violence. There is mystery about the beginnings of this tale, and mysteries to follow, and I eagerly anticipate reading more. For such a slim volume, there is a great deal in here to enjoy.
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A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A (mostly) fine return to form for this series after the almost entirely redundant A Feast For Crows, which is looking more and more like a publisher-pleasing stopgap rather than a valid entry in the series. Still, this is not without flaws: Tyrion spends most of this book stuck on a boat, and - while it’s interesting to see him function without his usual weapons of wit and cunning - this means that he contributes very little to the overall plot; Daenerys also treads water in this book, dithering more than acting, and having both her and Tyrion removed as proactive characters gives this book an unfocused edge that doesn’t quite work for me.
If you wanted to catch up on Brienne and Jaime and Lady Stoneheart (which I’ve been waiting for since Book III a hundred years ago), you’re out of luck. Jon Snow’s story remains as the one in which most of this instalment’s joys are to be found, and seems to set the scene for the next book, as do the once irrelevant-seeming adventures of Arya, whose role in the rest of the story becomes clearer.
So, not without some of the flaws which A Feast For Crows introduced into the series, but certainly enough to reignite the love and enthusiasm I had for these book so many years ago. Actually can’t wait for The Winds of Winter - well done, George.
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