Although there are many amazing unpublished writers out there, I’m always highly suspicious of self-published books. Not because they are definitively bad, but because there is so much vanity publishing that it’s really hard to distinguish the good from the trash. Even if it does have really good ratings.
For so long, we’ve relied on publishers to be our curators of taste, and to a large extent this is still the case. Self-publishing is in its infancy. Of all the genres that I thought would definitely require a curator of taste, epic fantasy is perhaps the top of the league table. And this is why I was so surprised at this outstanding first instalment of the Raven’s Shadow series: Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. It was recommended to me by a friend, otherwise I would have been hugely unlikely I would have paid for a random self-published ebook no matter what the star rating or how many people gave it (a sad fact, as I may well have to self-publish my own). BTW the rating on Good Reads and Amazon is 5* with thousands of reviews.
I’ve read widely in epic fantasy from a young age. From Tolkien to Eddings to Gemmell and more recently Martin. Some have been great, others less so. When I first picked up Game of Thrones, I thought that it was the best fantasy I’d read since Tolkien. Anthony Ryan’s writing excites me almost as much as George R.R. Martin’s. Anthony Ryan’s writing is fantastically honed and really tight, I wonder if he did his own editing or hired a professional. It is so impressive that this is such a polished piece of work. Unsurprisingly, Anthony Ryan’s book has now been picked up by Penguin US, and along the Game of Thrones lines, I can visualise a TV series to be made out of this one. Seriously it is one to watch.
Blood Song will be published in hardback on July 2, 2013 in the U.S. and U.K. by Ace (Penguin USA). As discussed, the book is already available in electronic format.