The Nine Realms by Sarah Kozloff – Series Review

The Nine Realms

Series Review

The Dresden Files – TV Series Review

The Dresden Files

TV Series Review

6th Annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off: Cover Contest

Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off #6

Cover Competition!


The David Gemmell Legend Awards 2012

The Awards

David GemmellThe David Gemmell Legend Awards are quickly becoming one of the industry’s most desirable accolades, and it’s easy to see why. Firstly, there’s the fact that the big name publishers (Tor, Voyager, Gollancz, Black Library, and Orbit) get to put forward just a couple of books in each of the three categories (Best Novel, Best Debut, Best Cover) and are therefore showing a huge amount of belief in an author by choosing their work to represent their label. Secondly, this is one of the few awards that are voted for by fans of the genre. Winning a Gemmell Award shows that readers have enjoyed your work enough to take the time to log onto the David Gemmell Legend Awards website and give you their support. Thirdly, finally, and perhaps most importantly, as an author within the fantasy genre, to have your work tied to the name Gemmell is surely one of the greatest compliments you can get.

For those who don’t know, David Gemmell was a prolific writer of epic fantasy. In just over 20 years, David wrote over 30 novels and it’s difficult to find one that is anything short of brilliant. In fact, each book seemed to get better and better, deeper and deeper and increasingly bold as his career went on. If you need any proof as to just how popular David Gemmell’s work was, let me inform you that he was one of the very few fantasy authors to reach that incredible figure of 1,000,000 books sold. With Gemmell’s growing popularity and promise of many more epic books to come, it was with shock and great sadness that the fantasy community received the news of Mr Gemmell’s passing in 2006.

In 2008, a number of David Gemmell’s closest friends and renowned writers within the fantasy genre put their heads together and came up with a way to honour David. They would found an awards ceremony that would commemorate the legacy of David Andrew Gemmell and his contribution to the fantasy genre. This awards ceremony would reward those authors and artists who have shown excellence in the field over the past 12 months. The awards would also serve to raise public awareness of fantasy and celebrate its cultural importance.


Marc Aplin and Paul Wiseall

This was the fourth year of these awards and I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the Magic Circle Headquarters in London where they were held. I was told to ‘dress to impress’ (something I very rarely do – I’ll be honest!), but upon arrival, I was blown away by the prestige of the event. The venue was absolutely amazing. A winding staircase with curved mirrors led you upstairs to a reception room that was full of magic memorabilia. Standing around drinking champagne, with their friends and partners, were some of the industry’s biggest names in fantasy: Joe Abercrombie, Sarah Pinborough, Tom Lloyd, Elspeth Cooper, Anne Lyle, Gillian Redfearn, Simon Spanton, Jo Fletcher, to name but a few. Most people caught up and discussed the nominees, which were as follows:

Legend Award
The Heroes – Joe Abercrombie
The Wise Mans Fear – Patrick Rothfuss
Blood of Aenarion – William King
Alloy of Law – Brandon Sanderson
Black Veil – Kristen Britain

Morningstar Award
Prince of Thorns – Mark Lawrence
Among Thieves – Douglas Hulick
The Unremembered – Peter Orullian
The Heir of Night – Helen Lowe
Songs of the Earth – Elspeth Cooper

Ravenheart Award
Blood of Aenarion – Raymond Swanland
The Heroes – Didier Graffet and Dave Senior
Oracles Fire – Frank Victoria
Among Thieves – Larry Rostant
Journey By Night – Aaron Briggs

I joined in the chatter for about half an hour before the event. My bets (for those interested) were on The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie / The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence / Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick, and Blood of Aenarion by Raymond Swanland.

Within about half an hour, we were called to the main room and asked to take our seats in front of a huge screen and stage. My eyes were immediately drawn to the three beautiful trophies that stood upon a table. The axe, Snaga, for the Legend Award, had been supplied by the highly sought after skills of The Raven Armoury – the owner of which was a close friend of David’s.

Award Trophies

Following a wonderful reading from Waylander by Anne Nicholls, Stan Nicholls, whose name I remembered fondly from my childhood days reading ORCS, walked out onto the stage. Stan was joined by fellow author and awards founder, Deborah Miller. Together the pair explained to us the reason that they’d helped set up these awards four years previous. The audience was treated to the emotional story of a man who truly loved the genre, with some fun stories of David’s playfulness thrown into the mix.

Award's Stage

The Gemmell Awards are not for profit and therefore, once Stan and Anne had finished their talk about the awards, there was an auction to help raise funds and keep things running smoothly. I had to stop myself bidding on things – there were some amazing prizes to be won, if you had the money to do so. How about 10,000 words of your manuscript edited by the lovely Gillian Redfearn of Gollancz? Rare signed editions of books? Framed, signed artwork? Signatures by the likes of Rothfuss, Brett, Weeks, Sanderson and Hobb? I think the prices that things went for were more than fair. Most items went between about £50 and £150. Gillian Redfearn’s edit went for £500, which was great for the award. Some of signed items though went for less than I expected and some fans took home some real bargains whilst supporting the awards. It actually ended up being too much to bear and I took home a signed Lawn Sign – it’s OK – I managed to subdue the girlfriend by explaining that the money was going to a good cause. It had 25 signatures on it…I needed it!

Award Winners

Once the auction had ended the lights dimmed, the screen lit up with an image of the man who had brought us all together and everyone looked towards the stage in anticipation of hearing who had been voted as winners (those who hadn’t read the results already via an accidental leak on a blog earlier that day at least!). It was pretty exciting – there was a real feeling that these awards meant something to those sitting within the audience – not just the authors/artists, but the editors and press people who had worked on the books behind closed doors.

First up was the Ravenheart Award for the year’s best cover art. Chris Baker, an artist who worked with Stan Nicholls and David Gemmell on a graphic novel, stepped onto the stage and announced the cover of Blood of Aenarion by Raymond Swanland as the winner for the following piece of artwork:

Blood of Aenarion (cover art)

Next came Deborah Miller to the stage. Deborah told us that there was a reason that she herself was presenting this award. She wanted to show David’s dedication to helping new talent better their skills and achieve publication. Back in the day, Anne herself had been working on a novel and about 10 chapters in sought David Gemmell out for advice on it. David had given her some firm, but fair advice, and Anne said that she took it, went home and discarded everything she had written. The Heir of Night (cover)She started again with David’s advice fresh in her mind and felt relieved – realising for the first time what she had to do to get published. As she tore open the envelope, she informed us that Helen Lowe’s The Heir of Night had taken the debut award. The articulate, Jenni Hill climbed onto the stage (maybe dropped the trophy – no one can prove it!) and read a beautiful speech that Helen Lowe had prepared in case she won.

Once upon a time… a girl was growing up who loved stories. And quests. And heroes. And magic. Whenever she read a new story and loved it, she always wanted to write one “just like that”, one day, when she was grown-up.

Just a few years later, the same girl picked up a book called Waylander – and was instantly entranced: by the darkness and danger of the story, by the inner struggle of the protagonist for redemption, and the magic and heroism of The Thirty. A new and strong thread had just entered the weave of the kind of story this young woman wanted to tell…

As you have doubtless worked out, the young woman was me and the novels of David Gemmell were about to assume a strong presence on my fantasy book shelf, with both Legend and The King Beyond the Gate, and then the Sipstrassi novels, quickly sitting alongside Waylander. So many aspects of these novels “spoke” to my deep love of storytelling: the grand sweep of the stories and the sense of contending light and dark, as well as right or wrong being a choice we make—and the way the characters’ choices are so often around sacrifice and duty. But at the same time, friendship and love are always the heart of the story.

And yes, I really did want to write stories “just like that” when I grew up.

Ravenheart Award Winner - Patrick Rothfuss's The Wise Man's FearThe final award of the night, the one everyone had been waiting for, was the David Gemmell Legend Award. This was such a tough one to call. Sanderson, Rothfuss, and Abercrombie are three of the biggest names in the genre and both King’s and Britain’s books are phenomenal entries. I think a lot of people expected Joe Abercrombie to win, not only is he a fellow Brit – but Heroes went down so, so well. There was therefore a surprise to some people in the room when The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss was named as the winner.

For me though, they are all great books and I think The Wise Man’s Fear / The Heroes are just too close to call. There are arguments that The Wise Man’s Fear isn’t as great as Patrick’s first book, perhaps suffering from a bit of middle-book-syndrome, but I loved it and think that it’s a worthy winner. Joe will no doubt be back on the list next year with (A) Red Country anyway. And besides, the fact that the fans voted it – mean that in the majority – the fantasy community believe The Wise Man’s Fear to be the best book of 2012. I dare not argue with 18,000 voters!

Sarah Pinborough & Gillian RedfearnThe award ceremony was then declared over and everyone made their way downstairs for food and drinks. I spent much of the night with my co-editor, Paul Wiseall, talking to editors and writers about things they have going on right now. Perhaps the highlight for me was meeting Jonathan Green and finding out that it was him who penned the Sonic The Hedgehog Adventure Game Books I read about 200 times when I was a kid! Well, that and getting a photo with the equally beautiful Sarah Pinborough and Gillian Redfearn. (Maybe I’ll not link the girlfriend to this article after all…?)

The thing I love about the science fiction and fantasy community is that they are such a friendly bunch of people who generally enjoy the company of one another. Authors, publicists and media folk alike spent hours chatting about novels, life and work as they moved around London.


As we were kicked out of the second bar in a hotel that we went to, at about 2:15 am, I stepped onto a night bus, full of noisy teens, and thought about what a fantastic evening I’d been treated to. Most importantly though, I thought about how well the organisers of the Gemmell Awards had done with their aims of commemorating one the genre’s finest. As I think back on the night, the name David Gemmell as a preference to these awards seems even more logical to me. Authors dream of achieving the kind of recognition David receives, despite his death, as he continues to sell books in vast quantities and whose literature is forever embedded within the mind of readers and writers who continually name him as a key source of inspiration. These awards are paving the way for authors to get there, and giving them something to aspire to. I’m sure David Gemmell would have been very proud of that.



  1. Avatar Overlord says:

    Thanks to Sandy Auden for the photographs and Jonathan Green for the one of Paul and I 🙂

  2. Avatar Paul Wiseall says:

    A brilliant summary of an incredible night! Everything about it was spectacular, from the fact that it was in the Magic Circle HQ to the awards to the people who populated the event. Stan and co really put on a spectacular show and deserve every congratulations.

    I’m still pretty gutted that I didn’t get to play with the swords from the Raven armoury though. Those things were some kind of crazy!

  3. Avatar Fordy says:

    Looks like you guys had a great night… and you make such a handsome couple, tee hee!!

    Can’t wait for next year at WFC 2013 where the Gemmell awards will be held. Oh, and I’ll have a book eligible right around then!

    Just saying 😉

  4. Avatar Larik says:

    Sounds like a riveting experience. Wish I was there.

  5. Avatar Not-So-Bloody-Nine says:

    I haven’t read 3 of the 5 books up for the “Legend” award, but of the two I have I think Abercrombie’s “The Heroes” was far superior to “The Wise Man’s Fear.”

  6. Avatar James says:

    The Heroes is one of the most exciting things to hit fantasy … and literature in years. No one can compete with Abercrombie in terms of character interaction, use of POV, tight prose, and humour.

    All respect to Rothfuss, but The Heroes should have been recognised.

  7. Avatar Pilgrim says:

    It would have been too obvious for The Heroes to win and that’s the only reason it didn’t win. I’ve read and enjoyed both authors, so no disrespect at all, but cheating Abercrombie for shock factor is cheating Gemmell too because that’s not what he would have wanted and it’s been done in his name.

Leave a Comment