Monday, June 2, 2014

BLOG TOUR: The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick - TOP FIVE

Hi everyone! Craig Cormick stopped by today to share with us his Top Five Star-Crossed Lovers in celebration of the release of The Shadow Master,out soon from Angry Robot! We're really excited about this book (alternate histories, star-crossed lovers, steampunk, and assassins? Yes please!), and can't wait for it to be out in the world. Check back later this month for our reviews!

But until then, here's a little about the book and Craig, and of course his Top Five! There's also an extract from the book for you, thanks to the lovely folks over at Angry Robot :).

About the Book


Title: The Shadow Master
Author: Craig Cormick
Publication Date: June 24, 2014 (US/CAN)
3rd July 2014 (UK)

Synopsis: In a land riven with plague, inside the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control: the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation.

And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the familial warring – plots and schemes, and bides its time, ready for the moment to attack...

Assassination; ancient, impossible machines; torture and infamy – just another typical day in paradise

UK Print & Ebook | Book Depository | Waterstones | WHSmith

North American Print & Ebook | | |

About the Author

Craig Cormick is an award-winning author and science communicator who works for Australia’s premier science institution, the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). He is a regular speaker at science communication conferences and has appeared on television, radio, online and in print media.

As an author he has published over a dozen works of fiction and non-fiction and over 100 short stories. His awards include an ACT Book of the Year Award and a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award.

His most recent book is the young adult novel Time Vandals (Scholastic, 2012).

You can find Craig online at his website

The Top Five Star Crossed Lovers
By Craig Cormick

So I’ve been asked to write about the top five star-crossed lovers, as my new book, the Shadow Master, has a Romeo and Juliet-type duo in it. 

Well, sort of.

But first, a quick description of the book: It’s a kick-arse tale of alternative history, love and conflict, madness and magic, with sword fights and mad clerics and assassins and bombs and magical shape-changers and dark catacombs and tall towers and an army of plague people – with everything except a car chase.  And through it all is this mysterious figure, the Shadow Master, who is manipulating everyone towards his own ends.

And yes, there are two young lovers, Lorenzo and Lucia, who are members of different warring houses: the Medicis and the Lorraines. And much of the book describes the efforts of the two to reach each other, dodging the mad monks, assassins, kidnappers and plague – and discovering that when they touch, magic happens. Real magic that changes the whole world about them! 

So it’s a bit like Romeo and Juliet in the sense that the city in my book, the Walled City, is a bit like Florence, and the era they are living in is a bit like the Renaissance. But it is alternative history and it is an alternative Romeo and Juliet. But the difference is that while the Renaissance was a definite movement in history, Romeo and Juliet actually have many different existences through history.

The two lovers in my book are actually influenced by an 18th Century Italian novel called the Betrothed (Il Promessi Sposi), written by Alessandro Manzoni in 1827. It has been described as one of the most famous novels in Italian, and the first dealing with Italian history, and was itself inspired by Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.

What? Is everyone copying off everyone else, I hear you ask? 

Well, maybe – as there is a theory that there are a very small number of different plots in the world and everything is derivative of something else. Anyway, the Betrothed is set in 1628 and tells of the plague years in Italy and the machinations of politics and church of the time – and the central characters are the two young lovers Lorenzo and Lucia.

I think it’s a fine example of early 19th Century YA lit, actually.

But since Shakespeare wrote R+J in the 1590s, I can hear somebody already pointing out, then Manzoni must have lifted his star-crossed lovers from it, yes?

Well, maybe yes, but maybe no. 

Now coincidentally I just happen to be researching Romeo and Juliet proto-tales for the sequel to the Shadow Masterthe Floating City – which is set in a Venice-like city and uses the original Italian tales of Othello, the Merchant of Venice and Romeo and Juliet within it. These are the original Italian stories that Shakespeare later adapted into his plays. Check them out sometime if you can hunt them down – they are fascinating in the ways that they are different to the more familiar Shakespearean tales. 

Look for: Luigi da Porto’s Giulietta e Romeo,  Ser Giovanni’s Il Pecorone (the Dunce), and Giraldi Cinthio’s Hecatommithi.

The earliest supposed Romeo and Juliet story – or our earliest European star-crossed lovers, is the tale of ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, written about the year 0. By the 15th Century the story had become ‘Mariotto and Gianozza’ and by the early 16th Century it had become Giulietta e Romeo. It was later translated into French in 1559 and then into English by Arthur Brook in 1562 as The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet

Starting to sound familiar?

In 1567 the Englishman William Painter released a collection of Italian tales, the Palace of Pleasure, that included ’The goodly History of the true and constant love of Romeo and Juliett’. 

And next in line comes Shakespeare, who, it can be argued, really breathed life into the two young lovers and their story.

But he certainly wasn’t the last person to use the story. Look around, modern variations on Romeo and Juliet include West Side Story, Gnomeo and Juliet and the zombie romance Warm Bodies, and the list goes on.

There are stories that move in slightly different directions too, such as the Irish lovers Diarmuid and Grainne, or variations on the Lancelot and Guinevere story such as Tristan and Iseult. 

But – I digress – I could go on all day about this and dodge the original question. So my list of top five star crossed lovers are:

5. Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala (get it, star-crossed *LOL*)
4. Romeo and Juliet and all their variations.
3. Buffy and Angel
2. Clearly Lorenzo and Lucia from the Shadow Master!
1. No competition for this one. My number one set of star-crossed lovers was me and my wife, until I talked her parents around (but that’s another story for another day!).

Read an Extract! 

Thanks again to Craig for taking the time to write about his favorite star-crossed lovers, and thanks to you for stopping by! 

--Ashley & Paul

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