Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Sovereign Hand - debut novel well received

Wellington author Paul Gilbert’s debut novel The Sovereign Hand was released on 21 August, and early reviews have been extraordinarily positive.

Paul, who began working on the novel in 2004, has previously seen success with his writing in the form of two awards in the biannual Pikihuia Awards for Māori Writers. “Completing this novel has taken a while. It's a labour of love, really – learning how I wanted to write, how to make that writing into a novel, making that novel say exactly what I wanted to say. Through all that, it's been the story driving me, the belief that I had something important to offer in a new and enjoyable way.”

The story is set in a fantasy world, but it is one stripped of the traditional fantasy standbys of dragons and elves – in their place, The Sovereign Hand is full of political tension and the kind of extra-legal government activity which would make a modern politician blush. Paul's degrees in politics and anthropology have fuelled a keen interest in all aspects of society, and this is reflected in the detailed and complex world he has created.

New Zealand sci-fi and fantasy reviewer Jacqui Smith has praised The Sovereign Hand’s “clever and carefully measured prose... meticulous setting, and memorable characters” and said that the book was “definitely recommended, and quite possibly one of the best works of fantasy ever published in New Zealand.” Author Bernard Beckett called it “a truly ambitious novel, both in scope and subject matter” and noted that Paul has “created a hero for our times, at once passionate and reluctant, fragile and courageous” – he went on to describe The Sovereign Hand as “a celebration of form and expression.”

“We’re extraordinarily excited to publish this book,” says Stephen Minchin, publisher at Steam Press. “This is the eighth book we’ve released, but the first fantasy novel – and I think it’s been well worth the wait.”

The Sovereign Hand is available now from all good booksellers.

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