Friday, 2 December 2011

A Great Read Christmas Count Down: Day One

I thought we could start the Christmas count down with one for the kids. (Though to be honest, I have read these and think they are brilliant.) The 'Dragon's In Our Midst' series by Bryan Davis is a four part set of novels for ages 10+.

This contemporary fantasy fantasy series opens up themes such as faith, courage, wisdom and redemption. Compared to 'The Chronicles of Narnia' for its spiritual power and 'The Lord of the Rings' for its depth of scope, this series has the makings of a classic. It will inspire young readers to dig deep within to find their God-given strengths and use them to overcome any obstacle. It is both a hair-raising, modern-day adventure and a glimpse into the world of knights and dragons.                   (Nick Gypps, A Great Read November Magazine ©2011)

This amazing series makes a perfect gift for any avid reader young or old. This makes a brilliant addition to any bookshelf standing side by side with works by Tolkien, Lewis and Lovecraft. Bryan Davis is one of those authors it is well worth keeping an eye on!

The RRP for these titles is £7.99 but you can buy them at just £6.49 each at A Great Read! However, if you want to save even more plus get an amazing set of books, why not take advantage of this amazing offer:

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Tom Wright for Christmas!

Here at A Great Read we are always looking for exciting new Christian literature to enhance people's day to day understanding of the bible. We firmly believe that Nicholas Thomas Wright, formerly Bishop of Durham and Tom Wright to many, has achieved this with his 'For Everyone Series".

The set consists of no less than 18 books examining every book of the New Testament in amazing detail. This set represents 8 years of Tom's writings and as such provide an amazing insight into his scholarly findings and his personal view on Christianity.

N. T. Wright at work in his office in Durham

We have been selling Tom's 'For Everyone' books since they first published and they have always sold amazingly well, appealing to all ages and many different branches of the Christian community and even for non-Christians seeking to better understand the message of the bible!

"These commentaries on the New Testament are furnished with Tom Wright's own fresh translation of the entire text. Each short passage is followed by a highly readable discussion, with background information, useful interpretation and explanation, and thoughts as to how it can be relevant to our lives today."
(Nick Gypps, A Great Read November Magazine ©2011)
 Our usual price for these excellent commentaries is £7.49 per book, reduced from an RRP of £9.99. However this year we are running a special deal on a set of all 18 books for just £125! That's a massive saving of £55!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton : Review

With the festive season just around the corner it's a fairly safe bet that at least some of you are looking for some great gifts to give to your family and friends. Well, look no further, over the next few days we'll be highlighting some of this year's best gifts and offering them at some extraordinary prices!

'The Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton' is Noel Fielding's first solo art book and is a truly surreal masterpiece. With wide variety of both Noel's artwork and his hilarious tales and narratives.

Noel is well known for his roles as the incredible Vince in 'The Mighty Boosh' and also for his work on radio and as a stand-up comedian. This book is a bit different as it contains Noel's personal work uncut and uncensored, (please note, due to the nature of some of the content in this book we only recommend it to readers over 18).

This new book makes a wonderful gift for any fan of Noel Fielding's work or for any art lover. Plus, with a retail price of just £16.99 its very, very affordable. However, we know everyone is tightening those purse strings this years so, we can now offer you an amazing discount in this title, £9.99!

Friday, 25 November 2011

The A Great Read Christmas Countdown!

Hello book lovers! Christmas is drawing ever closer, it's getting dark earlier and earlier and people everywhere are busy getting all those presents in before the big day. To help make your choices a bit less difficult, we will be posting 2 book 2 books up every day from now until Christmas as well as running special discount offers on hundreds of books, CDs and calendars.

The countdown will start on the 1st of December and will finish with a special Christmas eve list of the top 10 Christmas gift books of 2011. As if this wasn't enough, on New Year's eve we will be putting together a list of the top 100 books of 2011 and on New Years Day, a list of the 100 most awaited titles due to publish in 2012!

Before the start of our countdown take a look through our current catalogues (Christian and General) to find some truly amazing discounts that simply won't be beaten as well as some of the most popular books this Christmas!

"This magazine presents a selection of key titles published within the last six months. There are not catches, no collection to buy into and no 3 for 2's - just a great selection at great prices." Browse the broacher now at or call us on 01373 823451.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Changes Afoot,

Here at A Great Read, we are always trying to make the experience of our costumers as enjoyable as possible. Browsing and buying on our website should not be a drag but something to look forward to, like browsing the shelves of your local bookstore.

For this reason we are about to set in motion a raft of changes, updates and additions to our website. The changes are all due to be active by the start of September, just in time for all you early Christmas shoppers!

Some of the changes are cosmetic, large scrolling banners with the best new titles are a massive change for us. After receiving your feedback, we have also decided to move the categories to the left-hand column in a list form.

A new search bar will help you find exactly what you want quickly. This, in addition with a shortened checkout option, will massively reduce the time taken to buy your favourite titles from us in the future.

Even bigger than these things, is going international! That's right, after September you will be able to view our prices in £, $ & Euros! Not to mention we will be able to ship anywhere in the world!

This is a very exciting time here at A Great Read and we want you to share in the excitement. In the run up to our new websites launch we are launching a massive campaign for all you budding writers out there.

It is massively difficult to get published these days, what with the economic situation publishers are far less happy to take a risk on a new, un-tested author. In this, we want to give you a leg up. With over 30 years in the business, we here at A Great Read know a little something about books, our editor and manager David Wavre spent many years working for one of the UK's largest publishers!

What Do We Want?
We want you to write us a short story, or novel, or poetry book, to be honest, you can write what you want so long as it comes in the form of a book. We will then advertise, host and distribute your work as a free ebook!

The idea of this is that it gives you a chance to get your name and work known to A, the reading community, and B, the publishing world. You never know who could read and love your work!

This really ties in with another change we are looking forward to, ebook sales! That's right, we will be selling and, PUBLISHING full ebooks! If you prove to be popular in our free category, the option is always there to move into our paid category, this way you can even earn some cash from your work!

If this is something that interests you, drop me an email at to discuss your submission!


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The BIG Day, A Dance with Dragons Release!

So, today is the day, after a long and painful wait, the sixth instalment in the Song of Ice and Fire, A Dance with Dragons, is out today!

Since 1996, George R. R. Martin has taken his readers on an amazing journey through the five realms of Westros and Essos. Millions of his books have been sold in countless languages across the world, his easy, fluent and captivating style has catapulted him from obscurity to the for front of fantasy literature.

This, the sixth book, is by far the longest installment so far containing no less than 1040 pages and weighing in at 1.6 KG! This hardback tome is truly epic in size but also in content. Rightly deserving it's position at Number 1 on the current Amazon bestseller chart.

Amazon Bestsellers at 11:38 on 12.07.11
So, with the book published and being sent out our warehouse staff find themselves swamped with order to pack, the poor old posty is going to need one heck of a truck to get these out this evening! Those of you who pre-ordered your copies, you will have them very soon! As for the rest of you,
We offer a massive discount on all George R. R. Martin books including the massive collectable boxed-set, "The Story Continues".

A Song of Ice and Fire, The Story Continues,
Buy it NOW for just £24.99 RRP £39.99
 The Story Continues boxed-set contains the first five books in the epic George R. R. Martin series, A Song of Ice and Fire. The special collectors box in a lovely item for any fan to have sat on their book shelf. What's more, you can order this great set for just £24.99 at A Great Read as of TODAY!

‘A Game of Thrones grabs hold and won’t let go. It’s brilliant.’
Robert Jordan

‘Colossal, staggering… Martin captures all the intoxicating complexity of the Wars of the Roses or Imperial Rome in his imaginary world… one of the greats of fantasy literature.’

‘Fantasy literature has never shied away from grandeur, but the sheer-mind-boggling scope of this epic has sent other fantasy writers away shaking their heads… Its ambition: to construct the Twelve Caesars of fantasy fiction, with characters so venomous they could eat the Borgias.’

‘Such a splendid tale. I couldn’t stop till I’d finished and it was dawn.’
Anne McCaffrey

These are just some of the amazing responces the series has received over the years. A Dance with Dragons is the sixth book in a planned seven book series that appears to be far from out of steam.

If you haven't read any of the previous releases, why not grab them all now at A Great Read either in the above boxed set or as individual books!

A Game of Thrones
A Song of Ice and Fire
Book One
SAVE £3.15

A Clash of Kings
A Song of Ice and Fire
Book Two

A Storm of Swords:
Steel and Snow
A Song of Ice and Fire
Book Three
A Storm of Swords:
Blood and Gold
A Song of Ice and Fire
Book Four

A Dance with Dragons
A Song of Ice and Fire
Book Six

A Feast for Crows
A Song of Ice and Fire
Book Five

A Song of Ice and Fire
The Story So Far
Books 1 - 5
SAVE £15

Monday, 11 July 2011

George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire) Part Two

Tomorrow is the date of publication for probably the single most anticipates fantasy book of 2011, A Dance with Dragons. It is estimated that over 2.5 million copies have already been pre-ordered via amazon alone and it is by all accounts set to sky rocket to number one.

We thought we would wet your apitite before tomorrow with this snippit from George R. R. Martin's personal website.

A white wolf moved through a black wood, beneath a pale cliff as tall as the sky.  The moon ran with him, slipping through a tangle of bare branches overhead, across the starry sky.
        "Snow," the moon murmurred.
        The wolf made no answer.  Snow crunched beneath his paws.  The wind sighed through the trees.  And far off, he could hear his packmates calling to him, like to like.
        They were hunting too.  A wild rain was lashing down upon his black brother as he tore at the flesh of an enormous goat, washing the blood from his side where the goat's long horn had raked him.  In another place, his little sister lifted her head to sing to the moon, and a hundred small grey cousins broke off their hunt to sing with her.  The hills were warmer where they were, and full of game.  Many a night his sister's pack gorged on the flesh of sheep and cows and horses, the prey of men, and sometimes even on the flesh of man himself.
        "Snow," the moon called down again, cackling.
        The white wolf padded along the man trail beneath the icy cliff.  The taste of blood and bone and sinew was on his tongue, and his ears rang to the song of the hundred cousins, but he had lost his other brother, grey-furred and smelling of the sun.  Once they had been six, five whimpering blindly in the snow beside their dead mother, and him alone, the pale one, crawling off into the trees on shaky legs as his litter mates sucked cool milk from hard dead nipples.  Now only four remained of the six born that day, and one of those was lost and gone.
        "Snow," the moon insisted.
        The white wolf ran from it, a white arrow flying past the ice, racing toward the cave of night where the sun had hidden, his breath frosting in the air.  On starless nights the great cliff was as black as stone, a darkness towering high above the wide world, but when the moon came out it shimmered pale and icy as a frozen stream.  The wolf's pelt was thick and shaggy, but when the wind blew along the ice no fur could keep the chill out.  On the other side the wind was colder still, the wolf sensed.  That was where his brother was, the grey brother who smelled of summer.
        "Snow."  An icicle tumbled from a branch.  The white wolf turned toward the sound and bared his teeth.
        "Snow!"  The wolf's fur rose bristling, as the woods dissolved around him.  "Snow, snow, snow!"  The cries were accompanied by the beat of wings.  Through the gloom a raven flew.
        It landed on Jon Snow's chest with a thump and a scrabbling of claws.  "SNOW!" it screamed into his face, flapping its wings.
        "I hear you."  The room was dim, his pallet hard.  Grey light leaked through the shutters, promising another bleak cold day.  In his wolf dreams it was always night.  "Is this how you woke Mormont?  Get your feathers out of my face."  Jon wriggled an arm out from under his blankets to shoo the raven off.  It was a big bird, old and bold and scruffy, utterly without fear.
        "Snow," it cried, flapping to his bedpost.  "Snow, snow."
        Jon filled his fist with a pillow and let fly, but the bird took to the air.  The pillow struck the wall and burst, scattering stuffing everywhere just as Dolorous Edd Tollett poked his head through the door.
        "Beg pardon," the steward said, ignoring the flurry of feathers, "shall I fetch m'lord some breakfast?"
        "Corn," cried the raven.  "Corn, corn."
        "Roast raven," Jon suggested.  "And half a pint of ale."
        "Three corns and one roast raven," said Edd.  "Very good, m'lord, only Hobb's made boiled eggs, black sausage, and apples stewed with prunes this morning.  The apples stewed with prunes are excellent, except for the prunes.  I never eat prunes myself.  Well, there was one time when Hobb chopped them up with chestnuts and carrots and hid them in a hen.  Never trust a cook, my lord.  They'll prune you when you least expect it."
        "Later."  Breakfast could wait; Stannis could not.  "Any trouble from the stockades last night?"
        "Not since you put guards on the guards, my lord."    
        "Good."  A thousand wildlings had been penned up beyond the Wall, the captives Stannis Baratheon had taken when his knights had smashed Mance Rayder's patchwork host.  Many of the prisoners were women, and some of the guards had been sneaking them out to warm their beds.  King's men, queen's men, it did not seem to matter; a few black brothers had tried the same thing.  Men were men, and these were the only women for a thousand leagues.
        "Two more wildlings turned up to surrender," Edd went on.  "A mother with a girl clinging to her skirts.  She had a boy babe too, all swaddled up in fur, but he was dead."
        "Dead," said the Old Bear's raven.  It was one of the bird's favorite words.  "Dead, dead, dead."      
        They had free folk drifting in most every night, starved and half frozen creatures who had run from the battle beneath the Wall only to realize that they had no place to run to.
        "Was the mother questioned?" Jon asked.  Stannis Baratheon had smashed Mance Rayder's host to pieces and made the King-Beyond-the-Wall his captive... but the wildlings were still out there, the Weeper and Tormund Giantsbane and thousands more.      
        "Aye, m'lord," said Edd, "but all she knows is that she ran off during the battle and hid in the woods after.  We filled her full of porridge and sent her to the pens, and burned the babe."
        Burning dead children had ceased to trouble Jon Snow; live ones were another matter.  Two kings to wake the dragon, he remembered.  The father first and then the son, so both die kings. The words had been murmurred by one of the queen's men as Maester Aemon had cleaned his wounds after the battle.  Jon had been shocked when they were repeated to him.  "It was his fever talking," he had said, but Maester Aemon had demurred.  "There is power in a king's blood, Jon," he warned, "and better men than Stannis have done worse things than this."  The king can be harsh and unforgiving, aye, but a babe still on the breast?  Only a monster would give a living child to the flames.
        He pissed in darkness, filling his chamberpot as the Old Bear's raven muttered complaints.  The wolf dreams had been growing stronger, and Jon found himself remembering them even when awake.  Ghost knows that Grey Wind is dead.  Robb had died at the Twins, betrayed by men he'd believed his friends, and Grey Wolf had perished with him.  Bran and Rickon had been murdered too, beheaded by that turncloak Theon Greyjoy... but if the dreams did not lie, their direwolves had escaped.  At Queenscrown, one had come out of the darkness to save Jon's life.  Summer, it had to be.  His fur was grey, and Shaggydog is black.  He wondered if some part of his dead brothers lived on inside their wolves.
        Jon filled his basin from the flagon of water beside his bed, washed his face and hands, donned a clean set of black woolens, laced up a black leather jerkin, and pulled on a pair of well-worn boots.  Mormont's raven watched with shrewd black eyes, then fluttered to the window.  "Do you take me for your thrall?" Jon asked the bird.  When he folded back the window with its thick diamond-shaped panes of yellow glass, the chill of the morning hit him in the face.  He took a breath to clear away the cobwebs of the night as the raven flapped away.  That bird is too clever by half.  It had been the Old Bear's companion for long years, but that had not stopped it from eating Mormont's face once he died.
Outside his bedchamber a flight of steps descended to a larger room furnished with a scarred pinewood table and a dozen oak-and-leather chairs.  With Stannis in the King's Tower and the Lord Commander's Tower burned to a shell, Jon had established himself in Donal Noye's modest rooms behind the armory.
        The grant that the king had presented him for signature was on the table beneath a silver drinking cup that had once been Donal Noye's.  The one-armed smith had left few personal effects: the cup, six pennies and a copper star, a niello brooch with a broken clasp, a musty brocade doublet that bore the stag of Storm's End.  His treasures were his tools, and the swords and knives he made.  His life was at the forge.  Jon moved the cup aside and read the parchment once again.  If I put my seal to this, I will forever be remembered as the lord commander who gave away the Wall, he thought, but if I should refuse...
        Stannis Baratheon was proving to be a prickly guest, and a restless one.  He had ridden down the kingsroad almost as far as Queenscrown, prowled through the empty hovels of Mole's Town, inspected the ruined forts at Queensgate and Oakenshield.  Each night he walked atop the Wall with Lady Melisandre, and during the days he visited the stockades, picking captives out for the red woman to question.  He does not like to be balked.  This would not be a pleasant morning, Jon feared.
        From the armory came a clatter of shields and swords, as the latest lot of boys and raw recruits armed themselves.  He could hear the voice of Iron Emmett telling them to be quick about it.  Cotter Pyke had not been pleased to lose him, but the young ranger had a gift for training men.  He loves to fight, and he'll teach his boys to love it too.  Or so he hoped.
        Jon's cloak hung on a peg by the door, his swordbelt on another.  He donned them both and made his way to the armory.  The rug where Ghost slept was empty, he saw.  Two guardsmen stood inside the doors, clad in black cloaks and iron halfhelms, spears in their hands.  "Will m'lord be wanting a tail?" asked Garse.
        "I think I can find the King's Tower by myself."  Jon hated having guards trailing after him everywhere he went.  It made him feel like a mother duck leading a procession of ducklings.
        Iron Emmett's lads were well at it in the yard when Jon emerged, blunted swords slamming into shields and ringing against one another.  Jon stopped to watch a moment as Horse pressed Hop-Robin back toward the well.  Horse had the makings of a good fighter, he decided.  He was strong and getting stronger, and his instincts were sound.  Hop-Robin was another tale.  His club foot was bad enough, but he was afraid of getting hit as well.  Perhaps we can make a steward of him.  The fight ended abruptly, with Hop-Robin on the ground.
        "Well fought," Jon said to Horse, "but you drop your shield too low when pressing an attack.  You will want to correct that, or it is like to get you killed."
        "Yes, m'lord.  I'll keep it higher next time."  Horse pulled Hop-Robin to his feet, and the smaller boy made a clumsy bow.
        A few of Stannis's knights were sparring as well, on the far side of the yard.  King's men in one corner and queen's men in another, he did not fail to note, but only a few.  It's too cold for most of them.  As Jon strode past them, a booming voice called after him.  "BOY!  YOU THERE!  BOY!"
        'Boy' was not the worst of the things that Jon Snow had been called since being chosen lord commander.  He ignored it.
        "Snow," the voice insisted, "Lord Commander."
        This time he stopped and turned.  "Ser?"
        The knight overtopped him by six inches.  "A man who bears Valyrian steel should use it for more than scratching his arse."
        Jon had seen this one about the castle; a knight of great renown, to hear him tell it.  During the battle beneath the Wall, Ser Godry Farring had slain a fleeing giant, pounding after him on horseback and driving his lance through his back, then dismounting to hack off the creature's pitiful small head.  The queen's men had taken to calling him Godry the Giantslayer.  Whenever he heard that, Jon remembered Ygritte, crying.  I am the last of the giants.  "I use Longclaw when I must, ser."
        "How well, though?"  Ser Godry drew his own blade.  "Show me.  I promise not to hurt you, lad."
        How kind of you, thought Jon.  "Some other time, perhaps.  I fear that I have other duties just now."
        "You fear.  I see that."  Ser Godry looked at his friends, grinning.  "He fears," he said again, for the slow ones.

"You will excuse me."  Jon showed them his back.
        Castle Black seemed a bleak and forlorn place in the pale dawn light.  My command, Jon Snow reflected ruefully, as much a ruin as it is a stronghold.  The Lord Commander's Tower was a shell, the Common Hall a pile of blackened timbers, and Hardin's Tower looked as if the next gust of wind would knock it over... though it had looked that way for years.  Behind them all the Wall rose huge and pale.  Even at this hour it was acrawl with men, builders pushing up a new switchback stair to join the remnants of the old.  Othell Yarwyck had put all of command on the task, and they worked from dawn to dusk.  Without the stair, there was no way to reach the top of the Wall save by winch.  That would not serve if the wildlings should attack again.      
        Above the King's Tower the great golden battle standard of House Baratheon cracked like a whip on the roof where Jon Snow had prowled with bow in hand not long ago, slaying Thenns and free folk beside Satin and Deaf Dick Follard.  Two queen's men stood shivering on the steps, their hands tucked up into their armpits and their spears leaning against the door.
        "Those cloth gloves will never serve," Jon told them.  "See Bowen Marsh on the morrow, and he'll give you each a pair of leather gloves lined with fur."
        "We will, m'lord, and thank you," said the older guard.
        "That's if our bloody hands aren't froze off," the younger added, his breath a pale mist.  "I used to think that it got cold  up in the Dornish Marches.  What did I know?"
        Nothing, thought Jon Snow, the same as me.
        Halfway up the winding steps, he came upon Samwell Tarly, headed down.  "Are you coming from the king?" Jon asked him.
        Sam nodded.  "Maester Aemon sent me with a letter."    
        "I see."  Some lords trusted their maesters to read their letters and convey the contents, but Stannis insisted on breaking the seals himself.  "How did Stannis take it?"
        "Not happily, by his face."  Sam dropped his voice to a whisper.  "I am not supposed to speak of it."
        "Then don't."  Jon wondered which of his father's bannermen had refused Stannis homage this time.  He was quick enough to spread the word when Karhold declared for him. "How are you and your longbow getting on?" he asked Sam.
        "I found a good book about archery," the fat youth said, "but doing it is harder.  I get blisters."
        "Keep at it.  We may need your bow on the Wall if the Others turn up some dark night."
        "Oh, I hope not," Sam said, shuddering.
        Jon found more guards outside the king's solar.  "No arms are allowed in His Grace's presence, my lord," their serjeant said.  "I'll need that sword.  Your knives as well."  It would do no good to protest, Jon knew.  He handed them his weaponry.
        Within the solar the air was warm.  Lady Melisandre was seated near the fire, her ruby glimmering against the pale skin of her throat.  Ygritte had been kissed by fire; the red priestess was fire, and her hair was blood and flame.  Stannis stood behind the rough-hewn table where the Old Bear had once been wont to sit and take his meals.  Covering the table was a large map of the north, painted on a ragged piece of hide.  A tallow candle weighed down one end of it, a steel gauntlet the other.
        The king wore lambswool breeches and a quilted doublet, yet somehow he looked as stiff and uncomfortable as if he had been clad in plate and mail.  His skin was pale leather, his beard cropped so short that it might have been painted on.  A fringe about his temples was all that remained of his black hair.  In his hand was a parchment with a broken seal of dark green wax.
        Jon took a knee.  The king frowned at him, and rattled the parchment angrily.  "Rise.  Tell me, who is Lyanna Mormont?"

"One of Lady Maege's daughters. Sire.  The youngest.  She was named for my lord father's sister."
        "To curry your lord father's favor, I don't doubt.  How old is this wretched girl child?"
        Jon had to think a moment.  "Ten.  Or near enough to make no matter.  Might I know how she has offended Your Grace?"
        Stannis read from the letter.  "Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is STARK.  A girl of ten, you say, and she presumes to scold her lawful king."  His close-cropped beard lay like a shadow over his hollow cheeks.  "See that you keep these tiding to yourself, Lord Snow.  Karhold is with me, that is all the men need know.  I will not have your brothers trading tales of how this child spit on me."
        "As you command, Sire."  Maege Mormont had ridden south with Robb, Jon knew.  Her eldest daughter had joined the Young Wolf's host as well.  Even if both of them had died, however, Lady Maege had other daughters, younger than Dacey but older than Lyanna.  He did not understand why the youngest Mormont should be writing Stannis, and part of him could not help but wonder if the girl's answer might have been different if the letter had been sealed with a direwolf instead of a crowned stag, and signed by Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell.  It is too late for such misgivings, he reminded himself.  You made your choice.
        "Two score ravens were sent out," the king complained bitterly, "yet we get no response but silence and defiance.  Homage is the duty every leal subject owes his king.  Yet your lord father's bannermen turn their back on me, save the Karstarks.  Is Arnolf Karstark the only man of honor in the north?"
        Arnolf Karstark was the late Lord Rickard's uncle.  He had been made the castellan of Karhold when his nephew and his sons went south with Robb, and he had been the first to send a raven in reply to Stannis's demand for homage, declaring his allegiance.  The Karstarks have no other choice, Jon might have pointed out.  Lord Rickard Karstark had betrayed the direwolf and spilled the blood of lions.  The stag was Karhold's only hope, as Stannis knew as well as Jon.  "In times as confused as these even men of honor must wonder where their duty lies," he told the king.  "Your Grace is not the only king in the realm demanding homage."
        "Tell me, Lord Snow," said Lady Melisandre, "where were these other kings when the wild people stormed your Wall?"
        "A thousand leagues away, and deaf to our need.  I have not forgotten that.  Nor will I.  But my father's bannermen have wives and children to protect, and smallfolk who will die should they chose wrongly.  You ask much of them, Sire.  Give them time, and you will have your answers."
        "Answers such as this?"  Stannis crushed Lyanna's letter in his fist.
        "Even in the north men fear the wroth of Tywin Lannister," said Jon.  "The Boltons make bad enemies as well.  It is not happenstance that put a flayed man on their banners.  The north rode with Robb, bled with him, died for him.  They have supped on grief and death, and now you come to offer them another serving.  Do you blame them if they hang back?  Forgive me, Your Grace, but some will look at you and see only another doomed pretender."
        "If His Grace is doomed, your realm is doomed as well," said Lady Melisandre.  "Remember that, Lord Snow.  It is the one true king of Westeros who stands before you."
        Jon kept his face a mask.  "As you say, my lady."
        Stannis snorted.  "You spend your words as if every one were a golden dragon.  I wonder, how much gold do you have laid by?"
        "Gold?"  Are those the dragons the red woman means to wake?  Dragons made of gold?  "Such taxes as we collect are paid in kind, Your Grace.  The Watch is rich in turnips, but poor in coin."
        "Turnips are not like to appease Salladhor Saan.  I require gold or silver."
        "For that, you need White Harbor.  The city cannot compare to Oldtown or King's Landing, but it is still a thriving port.  Lord Manderly is the richest of my lord father's bannermen."
        "Lord Too-Fat-To-Sit-a-Horse."  The letter that Lord Wyman Manderly had sent back from White Harbor had spoken of his age and infirmity, and little more.  Stannis had commanded Jon not to speak of that one either.
        "Perhaps his lordship would fancy a wildling wife," suggested Lady Melisandre.  "Is this fat man married, Lord Snow?"

"His lady wife is long dead.  Lord Wyman has two grown sons, and grandchildren by the elder.  And he is too fat to sit a horse, thirty stone at least.  Val would never have him."
        "Just once you might try to give me an answer that would please me, Lord Snow," the king grumbled.
        "I would hope the truth would please you, Sire.  Your men call Val a princess, but to the free folk she is only the sister of their king's dead wife.  If you force her to marry a man she does not want she is like to slit his throat for him on their wedding night, but even if she accepts her husband, that does not mean the wildlings will follow him, or you.  The only man who can bind them to your cause is Mance Rayder."
        "I know that," Stannis said, unhappily.  "I have spent hours speaking with the man.  He knows much and more of our true enemy, and there is strength in him, I'll grant you.  Even if he were to renounce his kingship, though, the man remains an oathbreaker.  If I suffer one deserter to live, it will encourage others to desert.  No.  Laws should be made of iron, not of pudding.  Mance Rayder's life is forfeit by every law of the Seven Kingdoms."
        "The law ends at the Wall, Your Grace.  You could make good use of Mance."
        "I will.  I'll burn him, and show the north how I deal with turncloaks and traitors.  I have other men to lead the wildlings.  And I have Rayder's son, do not forget.  Once the father dies, his whelp will be the King-Beyond-the-Wall."
        "Your Grace is mistaken."  You know nothing, Jon Snow, Ygritte used to say, but he had learned.  "The babe is no more a prince than Val is a princess.  You don't become King-Beyond-the-Wall because your father was."
        "Good," said Stannis, "for I will suffer no other kings in Westeros.  Enough of Rayder.  Have you signed the grant?"
        And now it comes.  Jon closed his burned fingers and opened them again.  "No, Your Grace.  You ask too much."
        "Ask?  I asked you to be Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North.  I require these castles."
        "We have ceded you the Nightfort," said Jon Snow.
        "Rats and ruins.  It is a niggard's gift that costs the giver nothing.  Your own man Yarwyck says it will be half a year before the castle can be made fit for habitation."
        "The other forts are no better."
        "I know that.  It makes no matter.  They are all we have.  There are nineteen forts along the Wall, and you have men in only three of them.  I mean to have every one of them garrisoned again before the year is out."
        "I have no quarrel with that, Sire, but it is being said that you also mean to grant these castles to your knights and lords, to hold as their own seats as vassals to Your Grace."
        "Kings are expected to be open-handed to their followers.  Did Lord Eddard teach his bastard nothing?  Many of my knights and lords abandoned rich lands and stout castles in the south.  Should their loyalty go unrewarded?"
        "If Your Grace wishes to lose all of my lord father's bannermen, there is no more certain way than by giving northern halls to southron lords."
        "How can I lose men I do not have?  I had hoped to bestow Winterfell on a northman, you may recall.  A son of Eddard Stark.  He threw my offer in my face."  Stannis Baratheon with a grievance was like a mastiff with a bone; he gnawed it down to splinters.
        "By right Winterfell should go to my sister Sansa."
        "Lady Lannister, you mean?  Are you so eager to see the Imp perched on your father's seat?"
        "No," said Jon.
        "Good.  It will not happen whilst I live, Lord Snow."
        Jon knew better than to press the point.  "Sire, some claim that you mean to grant lands and castles to Rattleshirt and the Magnar of Thenn."
        The king's eyes turned to hard blue stones.  He ground his teeth and said, "Who told you that?"
        "Does that matter?"  The talk was all over Castle Black.  "If you must know, I had the tale from Gilly."
        "Who is Gilly?" the king demanded.
        "The wet nurse," said Lady Melisandre.  "Your Grace gave her freedom of the castle."
        "Not for running tales.  She's wanted for her teats, not for her tongue.  I'll have more milk from her, and fewer messages."
        "Castle Black needs no useless mouths," Jon agreed. "I am sending Gilly south on the next ship out of Eastwatch."
        Melisandre touched the ruby at her neck.  "Gilly is giving suck to Dalla's son as well as her own.  It seems cruel of you to part our little prince from his milk brother, my lord."
        Careful now, careful.   "Mother's milk is all they share.  Gilly's son is larger and more robust.  He kicks the prince and pinches him, and shoves him from the breast.  Craster was his father, a cruel man and greedy, and blood tells."
        Stannis furrowed his brow.  "I was told that the wet nurse was this man Craster's wife."
        "Wife and daughter both.  Craster married all his daughters.  Gilly's boy was the fruit of their union."
        "Her own father got this child on her?  We are well rid of her, then.  I will not suffer such abominations here.  This is not King's Landing."
        "I can find another wet nurse.  If there's none amongst the wildlings, I will send to the mountain clans.  Until such time, goat's milk should suffice for the boy, if it please Your Grace."
        "Poor fare for a prince... but better than whore's milk, aye."  Stannis drummed his fingers on the map.  "If we may return to the matter of these forts... "
        "Your Grace," said Jon, with chilly courtesy, "I have housed your men and fed them, at dire cost to our winter stores.  I have clothed them so they would not freeze."
        Stannis was not appeased.  "Aye, you've shared your salt pork and porridge, and you've thrown us some black rags to keep us warm.  Rags the wildlings would have taken off your corpses if I had not come north."
        Jon ignored that.  "I have given you fodder for your horses, and once the stair is done I will lend you builders to restore the Nightfort.  I have even agreed to allow you to settle wildlings on the Gift, which was given to the Night's Watch in perpetuity."
        "You offer me empty lands and desolations, yet deny me the castles I require to reward my lords and bannermen."
        "The Night's Watch built those castles... "
        "And the Night's Watch abandoned them." 
        "... to defend the Wall," Jon finished stubbornly, "not as seats for wildlings and southron lords.  The stones of those forts are mortared with the blood and bones of my brothers, long dead.  I cannot give them to you."
        "Cannot or will not?"  The cords in the king's neck stood out sharp as swords.  "And to think, I offered you a name."
        "I have a name, Your Grace."
        "Snow.  Was ever a name more ill-omened?"  Stannis touched his sword hilt.  "Just who do you imagine that you are?"
        "The watcher on the walls.  The sword in the darkness."
        "Don't prate your words at me."  Stannis drew the longsword he called Lightbringer.  "Here is your sword in the darkness."  Light rippled up and down the blade, now red, now yellow, nor orange, painting the king's face in harsh, bright hues.  "Even a green boy should be able to see that.  Are you blind?"
        "No, Sire.  I agree these castles must be garrisoned - "
        "The boy commander agrees.  How fortunate."
        " - by the Night's Watch," Jon finished.
        "You do not have the men."
        "Then give them to me, Sire.  I will provide officers for each of the abandoned forts, seasoned men who know the Wall and the lands beyond, who know how best to survive the winter that is coming.  In return for all we've given you, grant me the men to fill out the garrisons.  Men-at-arms, crossbowmen, raw boys.  I will even take your wounded and infirm."
        Stannis stared at him incredulously, then gave a bark of laughter.  "You are bold enough, Snow, I grant you that, but you're mad if you think my men will take the black."
        "They can wear any color cloak they choose, so long as they obey my officers as they would your own."

The king was unmoved.   "I have knights and lords in my service, the scions of noble Houses old in honor.  They cannot be expected to serve under poachers, peasants, and murderers."
        Or bastards, sire?  "Your own Hand is a smuggler."
        "Was a smuggler.  I shortened his fingers for that.  They tell me that you are the nine-hundred-ninety-eighth man to command the Night's Watch, Lord Snow.  I wonder what the nine-hundred-ninety-ninth might say about these castles.  The sight of your head on a spike might inspire him to be more helpful."  The king lay his bright blade down on the map, along the Wall, its steel shimmering like sunlight on water.  "You are only lord commander by my sufferance.  You would do well to remember that."
        "I am lord commander because my brothers chose me."
        "Did they?"  The map lay between them like a battleground, drenched by the colors of the glowing sword.  "Alliser Thorne complains about the manner of your choosing, and I cannot say he does not have a grievance.  The count was done by a blind man with your fat friend by his elbow.  And Slynt names you a turncloak."
        And who would know one better than Slynt?  "A turncloak would tell you what you wished to hear and betray you later.  Your Grace knows that I was fairly chosen.  My father always said you were a just man."  Just but harsh had been Lord Eddard's exact words, but Jon did not think it would be wise to share that.
        "Lord Eddard was no friend of mine, but he was not without some sense," said Stannis.  "He would have given me these castles."
        Never.  "I cannot speak to what my father might have done.  I took an oath, Your Grace.  The Wall is mine."
        "For now.  We will see how well you hold it."  Stannis pointed at him.  "Keep your ruins, as they mean so much to you.  I promise you, though, if any remain empty when the year is out, I will take them with your leave or without it.  And if even one should fall to the foe, your head will soon follow.  Now get out."
        Lady Melisandre rose from her place near the hearth.  "With your leave, Sire, I will show Lord Snow back to his chambers."    
        "Why?  He knows the way."  Stannis waved them both away.  "Do what you will.  Devan, food.  Boiled eggs and lemon water."    
        After the warmth of the king's solar, the turnpike stair felt bone-chillingly cold.  "Wind's rising, m'lady," the serjeant warned Melisandre as he handed Jon back his weapons.  "You might want a warmer cloak."
        "I have my faith to warm me."  The red woman walked beside Jon down the steps.  "His Grace is growing fond of you."
        "I can tell.  He only threatened to behead me twice."
        Melisandre laughed.  "It is his silences you should fear, not his words."  As they stepped out into the yard, the wind filled Jon's cloak and sent it flapping against her.  The red priestess brushed the black wool aside and slipped her arm through his.  "It is may be that you are not wrong about the wildling king.  I shall gaze into the flames and pray for the Lord of Light to send me guidance.  My fires show me much and more, Jon Snow.  I can see through stone and earth, and find the truth in the darkness of men's souls.  I can speak to kings long dead and children not yet born, and watch the years and seasons flicker past, until the end of days."
        "Are your fires never wrong?"
        "Never... though we priests are mortal and sometimes err, mistaking this must come from this may come."
        Jon could feel her heat, even through his wool and boiled leather.  The sight of them arm in arm was drawing curious looks.  They will be whispering in the barracks tonight.  "If you can truly see the morrow in your flames, tell me when and where the next wildling attack will come," he said, pulling free of her.
        "R'hllor sends us what visions he will, but I shall seek for this man Tormund in the flames."  Melisandre's red lips curled into a smile.  "I have seen you in my fires, Jon Snow." 
        "Is that a threat, my lady?  Do you mean to burn me too?"
        "You mistake my meaning."  She laughed.  "I fear that I make you uneasy, Lord Snow."
        Jon did not deny it.   "The Wall is no place for a woman."
        "You are wrong.  I have dreamed of your Wall, Jon Snow.  Great was the lore that raised it, and great the spells locked beneath its ice.  We walk beneath one of the hinges of the world."  Melisandre gazed up at it tenderly, her breath a warm moist cloud in the air.  "This is my place as it is yours, and soon enough you may have grave need of me.  Do not refuse my friendship, Jon.  I have seen you in the storm, hard pressed, with enemies on every side.  You have so many enemies.  Shall I tell you their names?"
        "I know their names."
        "Do not be so certain."  The ruby at Melisandre's throat gleamed redly.  "It is not the foes who curse you to your face that you must fear, but those who smile when you are looking and sharpen their knives when you turn your back.  You would do well to keep your wolf close beside you.  Ice, I see, and daggers in the dark.  Blood frozen red and hard, and naked steel.  It was very cold."
        "It is always cold on the Wall."
        "You think so?"
        "I know so, my lady."
        "Then you know nothing, Jon Snow," she whispered.

Excerpt from A DANCE WITH DRAGONSby George R. R. Martin.

To be published by Bantam Books; Copyright © 2008 by George R.R. Martin. All rights reserved. No part of this text may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, reposting, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without express written permission of the author.


George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire) Part One

Tomorrow sees the release of the 6th installment of the epic Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. This is one of the the most anticipated books being released this year and, with the fantasy world on tenthooks, we thought we would look back over the amazing series and take a closer look at the man recently voted most successful fantasy writter in the last 100 years! Over the next week we'll be posting everything there is to know about George R. R. Martin and his amazin series, A Song of Ice and Fire.

George R.R. Martin was born September 20, 1948 in Bayonne, New Jersey. His father was Raymond Collins Martin, a longshoreman, and his mother was Margaret Brady Martin. He has two sisters, Darleen Martin Lapinski and Janet Martin Patten.

Martin attended Mary Jane Donohoe School and Marist High School. He began writing very young, selling monster stories to other neighborhood children for pennies, dramatic readings included. Later he became a comic book fan and collector in high school, and began to write fiction for comic fanzines (amateur fan magazines). Martin's first professional sale was made in 1970 at age 21: "The Hero," sold to Galaxy, published in February, 1971 issue. Other sales followed.

In 1970 Martin received a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, graduating summa cum laude. He went on to complete a M.S. in Journalism in 1971, also from Northwestern.

As a conscientious objector, Martin did alternative service 1972-1974 with VISTA, attached to Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation. He also directed chess tournaments for the Continental Chess Association from 1973-1976,
and was a Journalism instructor at Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa, from 1976-1978. He wrote part-time throughout the 1970s while working as a VISTA Volunteer, chess director, and teacher.

In 1975 he married Gale Burnick. They divorced in 1979, with no children. Martin became a full-time writer in 1979. He was writer-in-residence at Clarke College from 1978-79.

Moving on to Hollywood, Martin signed on as a story editor for Twilight Zone at CBS Television in 1986. In 1987 Martin became an Executive Story Consultant for Beauty and the Beast at CBS. In 1988 he became a Producer for Beauty and the Beast, then in 1989 moved up to Co-Supervising Producer. He was Executive Producer for Doorways, a pilot which he wrote for Columbia Pictures Television, which was filmed during 1992-93.

Martin's present home is Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (he was South-Central Regional Director 1977-1979, and Vice President 1996-1998), and of Writers' Guild of America, West.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Publishing Today: Flipbacks, The Future of Publishing?

Today see’s the launch and publication of Hodder’s new “revolutionary” books design. In actually fact it’s nothing new, but revolutionary? More than likely!

Hodder’s BIG Idea
For a very long time books have been available in two main formats, paperback and hardback. More recently eBooks, kindle, audio books and a plethora of multimedia formats have been created but none have yet to supplant the original. This new design is far closer to the paperback we all know and love but supposedly allows us to read in a more fluent way!

This new ‘Flipback’ design flips to the classic book 90® so that it opens more like a landscape flip chart or sketch book. This allows for much more text on each double page and apparently creates a “much improved reading experience” despite being the size of a cassette tape! (For those who can’t remember or never used cassette tapes, that’s rather small!)

If you've ever whined about how the Kindle, compact though it may be, doesn't have the look or feel of a nice printed novel – put this in your pipe and read it: the newly invented "flipback" book. Released in Britain this summer, it is being touted as the, er, new Kindle: the tome that's smaller and lighter than an e-reader, but made out of pages, not bytes.
 It is all the rage in Holland, where it was introduced in 2009, and has since sold 1m copies. A version has just been launched in Spain, France is next, and the flipback reaches UK shores in June, when Hodder & Stoughton will treat us to a selection of 12 books. They cost £9.99, and will include David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and Stephen King's Misery.”
The Guardian

So, great titles, tiny format, portable, affordable, what’s the downside? Well, there is one, paper. The paper these books are printed on is like the super thin paper you see in bibles! While this isn’t a massive problem, it might become irksome in damp or highly windy conditions. That said, Amazon consider it a serious threat to the kindle dominance of the portability market for several reasons:
1)      A book doesn’t need charging or Internet connection.
2)      Combines the feeling of having a real book with the portability of an e-reader/kindle device.
3)      Very affordable compared to the average price of £120 for an e-reader/kindle device!

The above considered, I don’t think the flipback will replace the kindle or the standard formats, but certainly has a place in the market. Commuters will love this light weight, small surface area format as will libraries and holiday makers wanting to cut down their bag weights.

The following Flipback books are now available at

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Tom Wright, The "For Everyone" Series Concludes!

The Rt Revd Prof Tom Wright 

Leading New Testament Scholar, Bishop of Durham, academic and clergyman, Professor Nicholas Thomas Wright PhD LHD MA(Oxon) is a leading voice in new testament theology and academia. His scholarly work spans the length and width of the New Testament, casting new and interesting questions over previous interpretations of the texts.
Considered an important figure in Christian literature but specifically by those of the open evangelical perspective, Wright is associated with the Third Quest for the Historical Jesus and the New Perspective of Paul. He argues that the current view of Jesus must connect strongly to the historical references of the man from 1st century Jewish and Christian texts.
Wright’s study of the New Testament has led to the writing and publication of many scholarly papers and codices but, more recently, he has turned his theological brilliance to literature for the masses. In 2004 SPCK and Westminster John Knox Press published the first book of a new series dubbed the “For Everyone series”. Since then, no less than 52 books have been published with the final 3 now only months from publication. (These book have been published under the author Tom Wright).
Wright has spent his entire adult life studying, compiling, re-translating and interpreting the New Testament into his completed work, The New Testament for Everyone. Unlike the other books within the For Everyone series, The New Testament for Everyone is a complete re-translation of the New Testament without any of the author’s usual commentary.
In addition to this excellent new translation, Wright has also written books for each chapter of the bible (his translation) with commentary based upon his views, ideals and experiences.
Since 2004 Wright has been working to complete his ‘For Everyone’ series and this September he is set to do so with the release of ‘Revelation for Everyone’, the final book of the series. Before this in August, ‘Early Christian Letters for Everyone’ will be published as well.

Revelation for Everyone
by Tom Wright
These final two books complete a truly epic work, exploring faith in a way never seen in literature before. These books are a must read for anyone, Christian, agnostic or simply someone interested in the theology behind Christian morals.