I used to review series fantasy for Black Gate. Publishing houses and publicists would deluge BG’s publisher, John O’Neill, with advance review copies, and he’d drop me an email listing all the recent arrivals. I discovered one of my favorite writers that way, Sebastian de Castell, author of the Greatcoats series. Occasionally, other writers who were part of the Black Gate crowd would have a book coming out, and if I thought I was the right reader to connect with it, so that I could give an enthusiastic review, I’d offer. I’ve loved all of James Enge‘s books immoderately, and I reviewed them any chance I got. And yet, some of my favorite reviews to write, and to read later, were of books that really didn’t work for me, or arguably just didn’t work. Though it wasn’t a review, I ended up writing my favorite long-form non-fiction piecefor Black Gate, an attempt to figure out what those big series of big fat fantasy novels are really for, what they can do that no other literary form can.
It’s been years since I wrote a book review. My kids hit new developmental stages and needed me differently. The resulting changes in what kinds of attention I had available for my own use, and when, made it impossible to maintain a weekly, or even monthly, column.
But recently out of the blue, I got an email from M. Harold Page, an old Black Gate friend I’ve conversed with online for maybe fifteen years, and he has a new book out.