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The Paul Kearney Thread


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#1 ThRiNiDiR

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 03:44 PM

I've had luck enough to procure myself an ARC of the -- as I can now already proclaim it -- stellar "The Ten Thousand" by Paul Kearney. It marks a cornerstone in Kearney's carrier as a writer, a kind of rebirth. He evolved a bit since the "Sea Beggars" trilogy and now mixes a bit of Richard Morgan as well as David Gemmell into the mix, albeit maintaining his own voice throughout. "The Ten Thousand" tells an epic story of ten thousand elite mercenaries (think hoplites on steroids) of the race of Macht helping an upstart prince of the Assurian Empire to wrest the throne from his brother, the king. What sets out to be a tale of glory and gold, gradually turns into something harsher...someting made out of brute force, courage, loyalty, hard won friendships and bare survival. Kearney has done it again. You can read the review on Realms of Speculative Fiction.

Edited by Werthead, 26 November 2009 - 03:16 PM.


#2 Werthead

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Posted 11 June 2008 - 06:57 PM

Actually, Kearney's been putting hardcore-but-not-gratuitous violence into his books for a long time. It's one of the themes of each book, the morality and use of violence for just or unjust ends, probably most interestingly explored in The Monarchies of God (particularly the harrowing 'village scene' in Book 4). And frankly Kearney does it better than Morgan or Bakker.

Hoping for my review copy soonish. This book is starting to build up a bit pre-release excitement.

#3 Calibandar

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 05:14 AM

Thrinidir, your review mentions that:

All in all, we have before us a juggernaut fantasy novel even though, and because of its relative shortness (496 pages).


Do you really think a 500 page novel is short? That is considered a very big novel by mainstream literature standards. It's considered a very good size for Fantasy novels, which do indeed tend to be bigger than mainstream lit. But by no means can 500 pages be called "short" , not even in Fantasy.

Or do you mean, relative shortness compared to.........War and Peace?

Edited by Calibandar, 12 June 2008 - 05:15 AM.


#4 ThRiNiDiR

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 06:02 AM

I believe it's relatively short, whether you compare it to War and Peace, Malazan Book of The Fallen or any other multiple book series, trilogies or even duologies...what I was really aiming at is that "The Ten Thousand" is self-contained standalone novel that manages to cram more story, pathos and meaning into 500hundred odd pages than many (especially) contemporary authors can't achieve with multi-volume epics.

Calibandar, did you otherwise find the review enjoyable?

Edited by ThRiNiDiR, 12 June 2008 - 06:03 AM.


#5 Calibandar

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 06:06 AM

Sure, it was otherwise fine. Just that statement sounded off. You hear people review Fantasy books and call a 300 page book relatively short, and I can empathise with that given the genre context. But 500 pages is by no means short. I see now that you mean to refer to it more as 500 pages being short in the sense that it is a standalone telling a story that others take 1,500 pages to write.

#6 Werthead

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 07:12 AM

I'm trying to work out how they're going to expand the 264-page ARC (mine turned up this morning) to a 496-page mass-market paperback. Short of almost doubling the font size and making the margins really narrow, I can't see how they're going to do it :unsure:

#7 ThRiNiDiR

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 09:10 AM

And there was that; the ARC is only 264pages long (I had this in mind when writing the review and then copied the page-count from Amazon without really giving it much thought); plus, prior to The Ten Thousand I read the massive Bonehunters, which has 850+ pages (and that in trade paperback form and I admit that the prolonged experience still weighs down on me).

Edited by ThRiNiDiR, 12 June 2008 - 09:16 AM.


#8 Deornoth

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 10:04 AM

I thought exactly the same thing when I picked up my copy...

I've just finished it (reviewed on the blog) and it's a damn fine read, makes me wish that I'd picked up Paul Kearney's work sooner. Now I've got to wait for the omnibus editions of 'Monarchies of God'... :tantrum:

#9 aidan

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 01:15 PM

Damn, it's a standalone? I didn't know this. Now I'm even more excited!

My ARC is also on the way (man... us bloggers must get obnoxious sometimes) and I'll be sure to check it out as soon as it arrives.

#10 RedEyedGhost

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 10:32 PM

This book is starting to build up a bit pre-release excitement.


It definitely is, and I cannot wait!

(man... us bloggers must get obnoxious sometimes)


You don't know the half of it... :box:

#11 Werthead

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 06:59 AM

Awesome

:D

Grateful acknowledgements to: etc etc etc, Patrick St Denis, etc etc


Is that the first time Pat's been acknowledged in a book?

#12 Benowar

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 07:35 AM

I liked Kearney's "Monarchies of God", his new book sounds interesting. Although - the title and the theme are analogies to Xenophon's "Anabasis" (a great work). We will see.

#13 niamh O'Togbui

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 01:12 PM

TOGBUI WONDERS WHEN THIS IS COMING OUT IN IRELAND?

Seriously, I have never waited for a book so eagerly and impatiently, especially since I never ever read anything of his.
I absolutely cannot wait, and normally I'm not the excitable sort.

#14 JamesL

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 04:13 AM

A bit late to the party here, but here's my own review.

In brief, I thought it was a very good novel. Kearney does a great job of exploring the good and bad sides of human nature, and the battle scenes are brutally realistic.

#15 Werthead

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 11:31 AM

Yo.

A few months back I noted The Ten Thousand as being one of my hot tips for 2008. Reading a lengthy preview that the author sent me a while back reinforced this feeling, and now reading the complete novel has confirmed my initial guess. Probably the most underread author in epic fantasy has delivered his strongest novel to date.

The Ten Thousand is based on The Anabasis, the best-known work of the Greek writer Xenophon. In that book Xenophon relates how a Greek mercenary force of ten thousand warriors was hired by Cyrus the Younger, a Persian prince seeking to supplant his brother. When Cyrus was killed, the Greek army had to fight its way out of the now-hostile empire and find its way home.

In this novel the setting is the world of Kuf, which is divided between two humanoid species: the Macht and the Kufr. The Macht live in a mountainous peninsula made up of feuding city-states (reminsicent of Greece), whilst the Kufr inhabit the vast Assurian Empire to the south-east which dominates a huge continent. Many of the most famous mercenary companies of the Macht are summoned to the capital where a vast host is being assembled to sail across the sea and join the armies of the Assurian pretender Arkamenes, who seeks to usurp his brother, Ashurnan. Amongst these are Gasca and Rictus, two young warriors who join up for very different reasons, the former to see the world and fight, the latter to forget the horrors of the destruction of his city and family. As the story proceeds we meet other characters: Jason, the young and charasmatic commander of one of the mercenary companies; Vorus, a Macht living amongst the Kufr who is an advisor to Ashurnan; and Tiryn, Arkamenes' consort.

The story unfolds similar to the events of history, with the Macht fighting their way into the very heart of the Empire where Ashurnan awaits them with a vast host. There, at the Battle of Kunaksa, the hinge of the world will turn, with dire consequences for everyone involved.

As normal, Kearney anchors the story on his characters: Rictus, the young warrior lost in his grief and rage who finds opportunity and responsibility thrust upon him; Jason, the popular commander who doesn't know what he wants from life until, amidst the blood and mud, he finds it; Vorus, the exiled warrior who finds his loyalties and admiralties torn; Ashurnan, a ruler desperately trying to be a great king but not knowing how, whilst his brother believes he is great and worthy and doesn't realise the truth; and Tiryn, whose own preconceptions and believes are put to the ultimate challenge. They are flawed people, but the reader cannot help empaphising with them and the increasingly harsh challenges they face.

Kearney has previously attracted the reputation of doing battle sequences better than almost any other writer in the genre, better than Bakker, Martin or Erikson, with perhaps only Gemmell and Cornwell at the very height of their powers challenging him. The battles here are hard, brutal affairs but they are also used to make the characters change and grow, with every engagement also reflecting some revelation or advancement in the characters. It is an excellent device, perhaps not a conscious one, but handled superbly.

In this one novel (The Ten Thousand is a stand-alone, although Kearney does not rule out other works set in the same world) Kearney successfully encapsulates all of his strengths as a writer, making for his tighest, most satisfying novel to date, and may possibly have just given us the best epic fantasy of 2008.

The Ten Thousand (*****) is an engrossing, superb novel of war and its impact on humanity with a fitting ending. It will be published by Solaris on 1 September 2008 in the UK and in October in the USA.

Speculative Horizons reviews the novel here. Realms of Speculative Fiction reviews it here. Graeme's Fantasy Book Review covers it here. A Dribble of Ink has a two-part interview with Paul Kearney here and here.


Edited by Werthead, 15 June 2008 - 11:31 AM.


#16 Deornoth

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 12:32 PM

Nice review Wert (and thanks for the link!) :thumbsup:

#17 ThRiNiDiR

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 04:18 PM

Nice review Wert (and thanks for the link!) :thumbsup:


Graeme is taking words right out of my mouth :cheers:

#18 JamesL

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 04:52 PM

Graeme is taking words right out of my mouth :cheers:


Same from me!

By the way, the interview I've done with Paul Kearney is now up on Speculative Horizons. You can check it out HERE.

Paul talks a bit about the influences behind The Ten Thousand, what his next project will be and also has a dig at the literati...

Edited by JamesL, 16 June 2008 - 04:53 PM.


#19 niamh O'Togbui

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 08:42 AM


The basic premise of this novel could have worked well in any setting (medieval, steampunk, even sci-fi), but you decided to stick closer to history by setting it in a world that echoes ancient Greece and Persia. What was your reasoning behind this?


Well, I hadn’t seen a fantasy novel based on that era before. It was new and different, and incredibly rich.



?? heh.





#20 JamesL

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 01:12 PM

If anyone's interested (and who wouldn't be...) I have an advance copy of The Ten Thousand to give away on Speculative Horizons.

If you can't wait three months until the novel is released, then here's your chance...