Why Talion: Revenant should be on your bookshelf

This is an entirely unpaid endorsement, and a plea for you to do yourself a favor and go buy a book.

Do you like fantasy novels? Do you?

There are a good number of books I’ve enjoyed reading over the years, and I have a place for many of them on my bookshelves.

Then there are those special books, the ones that I have loved so dearly that I re-read them at least once a year, and will probably continue doing so forever.

Talion: Revenant by Michael A. Stackpole is just such a book.

Cassie mocks me for doing it, and probably rightly so.

You know you’ve got it bad when your wife can simply glance at the cover of the book you’re holding in your hand and say, “You just read that four months ago, wtf did I buy you a Kindle for? Why won’t you get some new books for a change instead of re-reading those endlessly?”

But I don’t re-read everything endlessly. Just, well….

The Sten series by Allan Cole and Chris Bunch. Yep, losing one of those from my collection would be like losing a hand. The good one, not the butt-wiping one. All it takes is for Cassie to see my hand ANYWHERE NEAR a book from the Sten series and the eyes start rolling. I can’t help it! They’re just so gooood.

Or the Guards/Sam Vimes books by Terry Pratchett. A life without Sam Vimes would be a cold, colorless life not worth living. My signed/stamped hardcover of Night Watch is my most treasured artifact. Reminder to self: Still must buy “Where’s My Cow?” once I’m done done reading the last Tiffany Aching book to Alex. And perhaps The World of Poo, if I can, er, slip that one by the missus.

And of course high on my list of books to re-read is Talion: Revenant by Michael A. Stackpole.

Stackpole actually has two books on my yearly (or more often than yearly) re-read list; Talion: Revenant and Once A Hero.

Damn, I like Once A Hero. It’s so freaking good. [shivers]

Here is why I’m talking about these.

I’m thinking what it would have been like if I’d never heard of or tried Talion: Revenant before. If I’d never heard from friends about this kickass author who wrote the only good Star Wars books at the time, the first Rogue Squadron series, and how he had some other books in worlds of his own creation I might like.

I didn’t read Star Wars fan fiction or tie-in books, but I had friends who did. I didn’t read the Rogue Squadrons at first, because Star Wars non-canon books, meh. Really? Splinter in the Mind’s Eye, remember that crapfest? But a great writer, I like to hear about that, so I read his OTHER books. Then the bastard hooked me with his great writing and I went back and bought the Rogue Squadron books and read them too.

Damn him. Yes, they were good, but later authors couldn’t maintain actual quality, so I had a sad once he left the series.

What if I’d never had a friend tell me about this great author, Michael A. Stackpole? What if nobody ever suggested I read Guards, Guards by Terry Pratchett?

What if I’d never taken a chance on a book with a generic cheesy Sci-Fi cover like Sten, only to find within it’s pages sheer fucking genius?

I’d have missed out on what I think is some of the finest science fiction and fantasy writing in existence. Period.

These books have, each in their own way, changed my life because I have loved them and made each of them a part of me. I truly feel my life is richer for having had those worlds to discover.

Okay, so what.

This is relevant to you, because while it was out of print for a long time, you can buy Talion: Revenant right now, brand new, in e-book form on Amazon for the Kindle and at other places. You can get Once A Hero as well.

And here is a bonus reason, a selfish reason to shout this from the rooftops. Stackpole says that if he sees just a few thousand more sales of the book, a total of 5000, that will showhim enough interest to justify a sequel.

A sequel to Talion: Revenant. Dear lord. I don’t know if my heart could take it. So. Much. Awesome.

If you read the books I’m mentioning, you’ll notice they all share a few things in common.

The writing is brilliant, and the dialogue is fast and fun. The deft wordplay between characters in all of these books is probably the biggest reason I love them so much. The characters are not there to drive forward the story, the characters are there because the characters ARE, and have a love of life. They seem real, and also seem like people it would be interesting to meet if Robert Heinlein were right about the World as Fiction.

That’s it. That’s my plug. I love Talion: Revenant with a passion, I’m re-reading it again right now, and a chance comment made me go look and see if Stackpole had a webpage, which is how I saw his mentioning of the e-books and the Talion 5000 book Challenge. That post went up in mid-2011, so I’ve only re-read Talion about 4 times since then.

I can’t recall ever asking anyone to buy anything on this blog before, but I’m asking you now. If you have never read Talion: Revenant, if you enjoy fantasy novels, AND if you can afford it, I strongly encourage you to buy the ebook and try it.

Warning. You might enjoy it so much it leads to more book buying.

Oh, and if you wanted to read Sten, good news!. Last time I went to buy a second copy of every book in the series for emergency backup purposes they were all out of print and insanely expensive. But, I now see you can buy then for Kindle, at reasonable prices! At least you can get the first book, I am off to check the other six in the series. If they can be gotten for Kindle now, HOORAY!!!!

OMG, you can get the whole Sten series on Kindle. I may cry. So many books, lost to the world like bolts of lightning, brief flashes illuminating the heavens only to vanish forever. Now, the lightning can be captured and held for all time. We are so blessed to be living in this digital age.

Now if only I had a bazillion dollars to buy every book I wanted on Kindle. Err, and some of them would be new books Cassie, I promise. No really. Honest.

25 thoughts on “Why Talion: Revenant should be on your bookshelf

  1. Sounds like something I need to checkout, thanks for the heads up! Also, I firmly believe that if you’ve not read Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series, you are missing out on one of the best authors of all time. Sleek and compact writing style that actually makes you pay attention, I think he’s a master wordsmith and his plots are wonderfully complex. He’s authored some of my favorite end of book ‘aha!’ moments where I have no choice but to get up and do happy dance 🙂

    I completely agree with SmokyBG about Lukyanenko’s series. Good stuff.


  2. I’ll try this one out 🙂
    As for recommendations: Sergei Lukyanenko’s Watches series… I just finished re-reading them in Russian, and I think that while it helps to be an Eastern European of a certain age to fully appreciate parts of the book, it should still be an excellent read for everyone else too 🙂


  3. Your book recommendations have always been spot on, so I’m definitely going to try this one out. I recommended “Ready Player One” to a co-worker after picking it up myself and enjoying it. He read it three times in a row. I hope Mr. Stackpole is still tracking his count of e-book copies sold, because he’s about to get a spike in business.

    Try to get the book off of his website, if you do buy it. More of the revenue goes to the author that way.


  4. You had me at “Sam Vimes.” I love Pratchett, so any kind of comparison thereto can sell me. In fact, your signed copy of Night Watch should hang out with my signed copy of THUD!, especially since they’re both Sam Vimes novels.

    Thanks for the suggestion, Bear!


  5. Bear, i’d recommend the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. I’ve read the series at least ten times and would highly recommend it.


  6. I’m going to go check these out; thanks for the recommendations! I love me some juicy, chompalicious new-to-me series.

    I walked over to my book shelve, and starting thinking,”what books do I read several times each year?” Among them would be David Weber (mainly like his Honor Harrington series, but his other series are decent too), Raymond Feist, Terry Pratchett, C.J. Cherryh (The Foreigner Universe), and Mercedes Lackey. About once every 2 years, I barrel through Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe’s Rifles series.

    I also collect are reread graphic novels. I like: Barry Ween Boy Genius, Fables, Sandman, The books of Magic, Watchmen, Camelot 3000, and Usagi Yogimbo.

    When I get extra book copies, I either loan them to friends or give it to one friend who does BookCrossing. http://www.bookcrossing.com/ Where you “tag and release” books into the wild/public, and if the receiver logs into the website, the giver can see where they books travel.


  7. Oh my god, I’d completely forgotten about Talion: Revenant! I’m overdue for about five reads of that book! Thank you!

    My favorite thing about Stackpole is that his book plots always come within a hair of being terrible cliches, then dodge sideways into awesomeness.


  8. I have brought a few physical books twice accidentally but never by choice. I have been picking up a far few in ebook that I own as paper. Physical room and way to many moves over the years. I once lived in the same spot for almost a decade.

    But brought(ebook) and I now I know I can buy sten again my buy finger is itching.


  9. I have read all the books mentioned here and I can vouch for their entertaining quality. I’ll add one more to the pile. The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon. Really enjoyed it. For non SciFi/Fantasy, I love reading the Spenser for Hire series by Robert B. Parker. Like Theodoxus, I had man tears when he passed.


    • For non scifi/fantasy, for me there is the Matthew Scudder series by Lawrance Block and the Prey series by John Sandford. I’ve heard of the Spencer for Hire series, but the books themselves have never crossed my path, and libraries tend not to have them all.

      And of course the jack Reacher books, and anything by Stephen Hunter. On the “read every three or four years” list is Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos books.


  10. Thanks for the Recommendations. I also have more than one copy of my favorites on the bookshelf. lol nice to see its not just me. Personal favorite worth reading if you have not is; David Eddings Belgariad Series.


  11. Hey Bear, thank you for the book recommendations. Stackpole is my favorite author of all time, and like you I was also hooked by the X-wing books. He has several series out there, like the Fortress Draconis and the Cartomancy series. I can’t recommend them highly enough! However, something of interest that I just found out that could help tie everything together in a nice, tidy package is that he’s also writing a World of Warcraft book – Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde. I haven’t found many details yet, but I guarantee you I will be looking for it! I believe it has a release date of July 2nd. Now I’m off to see if I can track down this Sten you speak so highly of!


    • My recommendation is to try the first Sten book, and then ask yourself if you can handle a series that takes that starting point and shoots up like a rocket.

      If Sten was a bit too awesome for you, you might want to avoid the rest. Health reasons. I can’t be held liable if you have an undiagnosed heart condition.


  12. heh… I have bought several copies of Good Omens.

    I waited several months now for B&N’s ebook version of Talion: Revenant to get corrected formatting. It hasn’t happened yet, even after an email exchange with their customer service. So I grabbed the Kindle version (and my rooted B&N nook has the Kindle app). So that’s on the stack to read. 🙂

    Note that the local library has massive amounts of Terry’s books available for ebook checkout. Format shifting has taken care of a lot of my worry about copies…


  13. Oh, don’t tell me you never went and bought more copies of the same books for emergency backups just in case something happened to your first copy.

    I still remember the first time I lent my first copy of Armor by john Steakley to someone, and then my backup copy got soaked when I dropped it in the bathtub. I didn’t have a second backup!

    Won’t catch my ass that way again, I’ve got backups for my backups. Also, I don’t lend books except to people who live close enough I can get them alone with a chainsaw if they don’t return them.


    • LOL – Armor is my one and only book I have a backup for… though I lost the backup two moves ago… Guess it’s off to the second hand book store.

      I should look for ebooks… I got the whole John Carter series (read them as a kid way before any of the crappy movies came out) and a few other nostalgic books, but haven’t really looked for a couple of years. I’ll definitely pick up Talion though. Sounds interesting.


      • I have the John Carter series on my Kindle, too. I bought the version that had the entire series complete, rather than piece together the public domain stuff. The collection was formatted pretty well.

        PixEx just mentioned that Stackpole has an e-book called “In Hero years… I’m Dead” out on Kindle, so I bought it. After I’m done with Talion tonight, I’ll start that one.

        New Stackpole, always a good thing.


      • I’m ashamed to say I forgot about “In Hero Years… I’m Dead” some fan I am.

        If you find you enjoy it, you need to check out “Prepare to Die!” by Paul Tobin. Exceptional super hero fiction.


    • I’ve bought 4 or 5 copies of Storm Front by Jim Butcher because of this. It’s actually to the point where I prefer NOT to get it back from someone. It means I’ve hooked them too!


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