Looking Through the Palantir: July 15th



Welcome to Looking Through the Palantir, a weekly recap where I bring you the latest news, features, releases and more from the realm of science fiction/fantasy. So cozy on up to your favorite seeing-stone and check out this week’s divinations.

It’s been seven days, everyone make it back okay? I think I actually spent the entirety of my Saturday sitting on a bus in traffic. It’s hard to tell since time acts in a weird way when you’re encased in a confined space slowly inching forward and staring at the same trees for two hours. While that would normally be terrible, it gave me enough time to prepare for all the great releases this week. But first, a few quick hits:

More Dungeons and Dragons related reading this week; as this article, from the New York Times chronicles how the game has influenced a generation of writers, including George RR Martin. The  social approach to emergent storytelling that is also highly interactive makes D&D old and new school at the same time. The game is now forty years old, and with a new edition releasing over the course of the summer, as well as the greater mainstream attention that it and other tabletop RPGs are seeing, I would say this is just the beginning.

Last week we talked about a new Terry Brooks novel. Now comes word that MTV has ordered a ten episode season of Shannara, a show based on the world that Brooks has been writing in and building his entire career. Jonathan Liebesman is directing the first two hours. Fantasy continues it’s takeover of television, in much the same way that superheroes dominate movies. I’m really hoping this leads to an entire season of Top Chef where Padma and Chef Tom have to wear medieval outfits and judge dishes of braised dragon meat like some sort of gourmet renaissance faire. Seriously tv moguls, make that happen.

New Releases

While I could go on all day about my ideas for high fantasy inspired culinary TV programming, last week I promised a substantial list of releases, so no more wasting time. Several new titles to discuss this week, as well as the paperback releases of an incredible book that you MUST read if you missed it the first time.

Did you love Scott Pilgrim vs the World? Of course you did, who wouldn’t? And while I always encourage re-visiting your favorite books, there’s nothing quite like the anticipation when a favorite author has something new coming out. Bryan Lee O’Malley is back with Seconds, a new full-color graphic novel starring a young chef named Katie who takes some strange advice, eats a magical mushroom and discovers the secret – and consequences – to wiping away the bad things in life. Trust me, it makes infinitely more sense once you read it. Accompanied by O’Malley’s terrific comic style, it’s a great story that hits on everything from growing up, dealing with relationships past and present and fending off ancient spirits. I can’t give a higher recommendation. Also, Katie’s hair reminds me of Knuckles from Sonic: The Hedgehog.

It seems like just weeks ago, that we talked about Harry Turtledove’s War that Came Early series, and in-fact, it was barely over a month ago. Well, here we are in a new month with a new book from the “standard bearer of alternate history” as Turtledove was described by USA Today. The finale of the series Last Orders, is now available and everything comes to a head, including the end of the war and how the world would have changed moving forward. Turtledove’s signature style and meticulous attention to detail both remain on display.

If two awesome new books weren’t enough, we’ve got the first entry in a new fantasy epic by Joe Abercrombie. Half a King, which follows young Yarvi, who ascends to the throne of a violent Viking-like society. I could prattle on and on about Abercrombie’s writing style and previous works, but instead, I’m going to let some people who really know good writing tell you why you should read this book:

  • “A fast-paced tale of betrayal and revenge that grabbed me from page 1 and refused to let go.”– George R. R. Martin
  • Half a King is my favorite book by Joe Abercrombie so far, and that’s saying something.”– Patrick Rothfuss
  • “Enthralling! An up-all-night read.”– Robin Hobb

I don’t think I need to say anything else.

That might be it for new titles, but there’s still one more release to talk about today. New in paperback this week is Red Rising by Pierce Brown, the first book in the Red Rising Trilogy. A smart and mature dystopian series with a great sci-fi setting. Brown’s writing is visceral and deeply affecting (I’m still not recovered from those first few chapters). Seriously, make sure you read this, because the second book Golden Son is coming in January. Oh, and Marc Forster is working on a film adaptation.

Phew, well, everyone should be stocked up on plenty of new reads for the beach. The Palantir is overheating from constant use, so that’s all for this week. Plus, Gandalf is liable to notice it’s gone missing eventually. If I hurry up and return it, maybe he’ll blame Pippin again.

Tom Hoeler is a freelance writer and editor who spends his time collecting stories,felling dragons, scrambling over the rooftops of Gotham, and cooking up delicious food. He serves as the eternal intern and apprentice to the Del Rey and Star Wars Books team under the guise of Darth Internous.