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"God Killers, is an amazing debut - vibrantly written, raw, visceral - with something of the brooding atomsphere of Beowulf and the earthiness of Robert E. Howard. What’s worse, there are some scenes in there I wish I had thought of!"
RICARDO PINTO was born in Lisbon, Portugal. When he was six, his family moved first to London and then Dundee, Scotland. He received a degree in mathematics at Dundee University, and in 1983 moved to London without a job and bluffed his way into writing computer games for a local firm. Some time later, a friend whose company produced tabletop wargames asked Pinto to design a world. This led to the self-publication of his first book, Kryomek. Further work in gaming, that allowed him to continue writing, finally led to the sale of his highly-acclaimed three-volume masterpiece The Stone Dance of the Chameleon.
"Brave, exciting, and adventurous, Godkillers is something unique in the
world of fiction."
JEFF VANDERMEER is the author of the best-selling City of Saints and Madmen, set in his signature creation, the imaginary city of Ambergris, in addition to several other novels from Bantam, Tor, and Pan Macmillan. He has won two World Fantasy Awards and been a finalist for the Hugo Award, Bram Stoker Award, IHG Award, Philip K. Dick Award, and many others. Novels such as Veniss Underground and Shriek: An Afterword have made the year’s best lists of Amazon.com, The Austin Chronicle, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Publishers Weekly, among others.
"Muscular, melancholy and full of integrity - fantasy that matters."
CHINA MIÉVILLE is the best-selling multi-award-winning author of Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council, Un Lun Dun and his collected short stories Looking For Jake.
"Liam Sharp's world-building inspires awe, but it's in character, narrative momentum and the rich, layered textures of their prose that these stories leave their mark on you."
MIKE CAREY got into writing through comic books, where his horror/fantasy series Lucifer garnered numerous international awards and was nominated for five Eisners. From there he moved into novels - his Felix Castor series has been a huge success - and screenplays, while still maintaining a presence in the comics world (he is currently writing two of Marvel's flagship titles, X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four). His movie Frost Flowers, an erotic ghost story, is currently in production with Hadaly/Bluestar Pictures.
"Lyrical, bloodthirsty and excellent. It rocks"
PAUL CORNELL is a British writer best known for his work in television drama as well as Doctor Who fiction.
Other television dramas for which he has written include Robin Hood, Primeval, Casualty, Holby City and Coronation Street.
Cornell also writes for Marvel comics and has written two original novels - British Summertime and Something More.
"Liam Sharp writes like the painter he is, deftly exploiting color, image, and texture to create a visceral pattern on the cortex. These are dark fables told with an assured lightness - twisted treasures from the recesses of a mind that has spent a good deal of time in places most of us spend our energy avoiding."
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF is the best-selling New York-based writer of "Coercion: Why We Listen to What "They" Say" and "The Ecstasy Club", and a regular columnist and lecturer on technology, media and popular culture.
“A significant achievement. The arresting visual invention will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Liam’s art; the rich textures of the crafted milieu will come as a delight to everyone looking for properly convincing fantasy.”
DAN ABNETT has worked for 2000 AD and Marvel Comics (including their UK imprint) since the early 1990s, although he has also contributed to DC Comics titles. His Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 novels and graphic novels for Games Workshop's Black Library now run to several dozen titles.
Comic artist turns fine fantasy writer
Comic artist shifts job description to comic writer is a well-trodden path. Comic artists are, after all, visual storytellers. Comic artist becomes fantasy novelist however, is a far more unusual tangent. If you’ve been a fan of Liam Sharp’s Frank Frazetta meets HR Giger-esque comic art – muscled barbarians mixed with Blade Runner neon and detritus-swept colour schemes - you’ll know that this is a creator with a distinct vision, dedicated to creating tangible other worlds. God Killers is Sharp fleshing these fantasy landscapes out, giving them detail and life.
It’s something he does remarkably well. The main strength of the prose and poetry collection God Killers, and its near 200 page central story, Machivarius Point, is how fully formed Sharp’s fantasy feels. The different races, the descriptions of the architecture, the history of its worlds – Sharp’s commits them with great confidence. God Killers does that most difficult thing in fantasy fiction. It absorbs its influences –China Mieville (who offers a praising cover quote and gave advice on the proof), Lovecraft and M John Harrison – but feels like a personal, unaffected realisation nonetheless.
That same strength is also its relatively minor weakness. Sharp sometimes gets caught up in descriptive passages when the plot should move on. He knows how to tease a reader though – Hergal, his warrior central character (a healthily macho, sword-skilled protagonist) travels across other worlds and inhabits other lives but can’t recall why, and Sharp is skilfully economic in how he reveals the truth. When the finale comes it’s suitably epic, dealing with eternity, nothingness and ‘vile space’. It would be too easy to describe God Killers as a promising debut. Sharp writes fantasy with the assurance of an otherworld-seeing prophet.
I think God Killers can best be described as heavy metal fantasy. It has that particular blend of violence, sex, decaying civilizations and lashings of DOOM that remind you of early Moorcock and Métal Hurlant. China described it as “muscular” and “melancholy”, which pretty much fits the bill.
The first time I saw Liam Sharp´s name, I must say that rang a bell, but I couldn´quite remember from where. A couple of days later, I was re-reading an old issue of Warren Ellis´s Global Frequency and then I found out. Sharp did the inks of issue 3 - not only that (he also did, among many other comics and film-related projects, the production design for Lost in Space (a film I like a lot, even though it is unfairly underrated) and the character design for Batman Beyond.
Then I learned, from an e-mail from Liam himself (in which he sent me a story that was selected for publishing in the special English edition of TERRA INCOGNITA webzine due to late December) that he had just written a novel: God Killers - Macchivarius Point and other stories. After reading his short story, I became very interested in reading the novel, and asked him if he could send an ARC. I´ve got it a week later. And I wasn´t disappointed.
The first story, the novel Machivarius Point, starts with a bang - we are immediately presented to a Conan-like universe that quickly turns out to be more like Robert Silverberg´s Majipoor stories. In the planet Arddn, Hergal Ban Egan returns after living decades in the body of an avatar in another world of the Kiazmus, a kind of bridge that links all the parallel worlds Sharp´s weird multiverse.
Upon returning, Hergal meets an old friend, Pellafinn, a member of the giant race of the Ornish. And he learns that a Warlordt called The Wayfarer, also a Warloq, threatens to conquer Aetuland by means of a gemstone that can invoke the power of the Munger, the Undead God. And he must be stopped.
Naturally, there´s much more than meets the eye in this plot, for it is no such simple deed as it may seem at a first glance. Pellafinn hires a group of mercenaries to impede the Wayfarer´s progress, apparently to no avail. But the survivors of this band, like the Ornish Pellaq, the rogue giantess Cherry Longorn, the human Woebeg ban Errieu (a no-nonsense man who doesn´t believe in magiq even when it´s right in front of him), carry inside each a secret, unknown even to themselves, that may change the course of this conflict.
Echoes of China Miéville, Robert Howard, and Michael Moorcock abound in Machivarius Point, but this novel isn´t an imitation. The only complain I could make of the novel is that it is too short (less than 200 pages). I´m not asking for a Robert Jordan-like epic, though - it´s just that I think Sharp could develop the story and his very compelling characters more completely. The narrative is good and coherent, but the story ends too quickly, leaving a sort of straight to the point, no-nonsense "Old Weird" flavor.
The last part of the book, God Killers, is what I would call "The Derby Cycle". It is composed by five stories, all short ones and Earth-based, all of them in Derby, England. The most interesting to me was the first one, Metawhal Alpha, based in Lovecraftian lore with a clever approach for the 21st Century. Death and the Myrmidon is a funny story featuring Death himself, plus several supernatural characters, drinking heavily and having a good time, mostly. It reminded me a little of Rhys Hughes, but sort of disappointed me in the end, because it is very, very short. On the other side, Fluxium is a real treat: a story of academia and of how intellectual minds would probably deal with the concepts of strange creatures and another dimensions. The last story, Frogspawn, is a horror tale bordering Clive Barker´s splatterpunk stories of the 80s, with undead people and frogs.
I, for one, wanted to know more about the parallel world of Arddn, the Orns, the body-change travels of the warloqs, and, of course, Lazrus Machivarius, the Leonardo of Arnnd, the scientist who first learned to harness eletricity and other energies.
It was then that I found a small excerpt of Caged Aurora, the first novel of an upcoming series set on Arddn. Even though it´s a five-page fragment, it somehow made me feel better, because now I know there will be more stories to help weaving this strange tapestries better.
Liam Sharp is familiar to most of us as a comic artist of long standing, in the eighties he put the glint in P.J. Maybe’s eye in 2000AD, in the nineties he worked with Peter David on The Incredible Hulk, with the new century came Global Frequency with Warren Ellis and the best-selling Gears of War. From crisp pencils to groundbreaking digital work he is justly renowned as a stellar talent in the medium.
Now he’s just written a novel, and, worse than that, it’s really good. Nobody likes a smart arse.
God Killers is actually comprised of: Machivarious Point, a short fantasy novel (well, short for a fantasy novel anyway, one is used to books that cause hernias simply by turning the page) set in a surreal and violent multiverse where bodies are worn and shed with the abandon of a teenager trying on clothes in H & M. Sharp’s artistic sensibilities are prominent, building a world as colourful and detailed as any reader could desire. It’s grungy and dirty, sweaty and bloody but the character’s are strong enough to bear the load without leaving us sick on its richness.
The book is rounded out with five short stories, all set in Derby. Such a wide canvas shows Sharp only too capable of flitting between, heroic sword wielding and urban horror, with swatches of humour and sci-fi and absurdism and...
Liam Sharp... what a clever bastard.
Guy Adams - BFS newsletter review