The other effect of conventions like this is that I come away with about a million more books I want to read. No more time, mark you, just a bigger list. This year I remembered something Meg Kingston mentioned at last year's Asylum, that with Kindle's you could get a download a sample and read that to see if you like the book - the ebook version of have a sneaky read in the bookshop, I suppose.
With that in mind I grabbed about eight or nine samples ranging from Neptune's Brood, the new Charles Stross to Tom Pollock's The City's Son (which I'd never heard of but sounds like it probably does the magical graffiti thing that's been running around my head for the past year, so boo and yay to that in equal measure).
The first sample I've tackled is The Lies of Locke Lamora, a book that I've wavered over a lot. I've heard good things but so much of fantasy fiction seems to be in a fat, homogeneous glut and so much of it is still trapped in Tolkien's Shadow that I have little enthusiasm for it these days. I feared the book would be the same stuff, even with what looked like a good blurb.
Boy, was I wrong.
If I had to put what I've read of this into a category, it would definitely be Swords and Sorcery, with a city that feels like a mixture of New Crozubon and Lankhmar than anything else. It has the same medieval feel as the latter but with the cynicism and edge that shoots through Mieville's writing.
The action detailed in the sample concerns two older men, the Thiefmaker, who takes orphans and moulds them into pickpockets and thieves, and Father Chains a priest who takes the castoffs the Thiefmaker wants nothing more to do with. They're discussing Locke Lamora, our hero. Though that description seems like a stretch, there doesn't seem to be much that's heroic about him so far; 'devious little sod' might be closer.
What we get, as readers is how Locke came into the Thiefmaker's care and the details of some of his exploits and why he has a great future as a thief, if he survives long enough to have a future that is.
Judging from the sample, this is far more a crime story than a fantasy one, one told with beautifully descriptive language, though the Thiefmaker seems to channel his voice straight from Fagin in Oliver Twist.
This is definitely on the 'to buy' list, I'm looking forward to reading more of it and exploring the world more..