Welcome to the first post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2013. As usual I had so many fantasy books catch my fancy I had to split them into two posts. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them!
Philippa Ballantine – Harbinger (Ace)
The Deacons of the Order are all that stand between the wicked spirits of the Otherside and the innocent citizens of the Empire. They are sworn to protect humanity, even when they cannot protect themselves…
After the Razing of the Order, Sorcha Faris, one of the most powerful Deacons, is struggling to regain control of the runes she once wielded. The Deacons are needed more desperately than ever. The barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead is weakening, and the Emperor has abandoned his throne, seeking to destroy those he feels have betrayed him.
Though she is haunted by the terrible truth of her past, Sorcha must lead the charge against the gathering hordes of geists seeking to cross into the Empire. But to do so, she will need to manipulate powers beyond her understanding—powers that may prove to be her undoing…
E.C. Ambrose – Elisha Barber (Ace Books)
England in the fourteenth century: a land of poverty and opulence, prayer and plague, witchcraft and necromancy. Where a medieval barber-surgeon, Elisha Barber, seeks redemption as a medic on the front lines of an unjust war, and is drawn into the perilous world of sorcery by a beautiful young witch. In the crucible of combat, utterly at the mercy of his capricious superiors, Elisha must attempt to unravel conspiracies both magical and mundane, as well as come to terms with his own disturbing new abilities. But the only thing more dangerous than the questions he’s asking are the answers he may reveal…
Nathan Hawke – The Crimson Shield (Gollancz)
I have been Truesword to my friends, Griefbringer to my enemies. To most of you I am just another Northlander bastard here to take your women and drink your mead, but to those who know me, my name is Gallow. I fought for my king for seven long years. I have served lords and held my shield beside common men. I have fled in defeat and I have tasted victory and I will tell you which is sweeter. Despise me then, for I have slain more of your kin than I can count, though I remember every single face.
For my king I will travel to the end of the world. I will find the fabled Crimson Shield so that his legions may carry it to battle, and when Sword and Shield must finally clash, there you will find me. I will not make pacts with devils or bargains with demons for I do not believe in such things, and yet I will see them all around me, in men and in their deeds. Remember me then, for I will not suffer such monsters to live.
Even if they are the ones I serve.
But when two recent acquaintances come calling for help, our hapless heroes find themselves up against the might of the entire Thieves Guild.
And when kidnapping the leader of the most powerful guild in the land seems like the best course of action, you know you’re in over your head…
Melissa Marr – The Arrivals (William Morrow)
The Wasteland is a world beyond our own. It is a rough and ragged landscape under a two-moon sky, inhabited by monsters and creatures that could almost pass for human. Into this alternate world unwitting people are brought, from both past and present, for reasons none of them know.
Chloe Mattison goes to sleep, drunk and heartbroken, in Washington, D.C., and wakes up in the Wasteland. Chloe is welcomed by Jack and Kitty, brother and sister from a Wild West frontier town. “You’re one of us,” they tell her, yet neither Jack nor Kitty, nor any of their companions, know why they were chosen.
Two questions loom large in all of their minds: Why are we here? Is there a way out of this corrupt, demon-filled world? Equal parts The Matrix and The Wizard of Oz, The Arrivals is a page-turning adventure set in a world you will not soon forget.
Driven out of hell and with nothing to loose, the Fallen wage open warfare against the angels on the streets. And they’re winning.
As the balance tips towards the darkness, Alice – barely recovered from her own ordeal in hell and struggling to start over – once again finds herself in the eye of the storm. But with the chaos spreading and the Archangel Michael determined to destroy Lucifer whatever the cost, is the price simply too high? And what sacrifices will Alice and the angels have to make in order to pay it?
The Fallen will rise. Trust will be betrayed. And all hell breaks loose…
Sarah Pinborough – Charm (Gollancz)
It’s Cinderella, but not as you know her…
CHARM is a beautifully illustrated re-telling of the Cinderella story which takes all the much-loved elements of the classic fairytale (the handsome prince, the fairy godmother, the enchanted mouse, the beautiful girl and, of course, the iconic balls) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires.
Anthony Ryan – Blood Song (Orbit)
We have fought battles that left more than a hundred corpses on the ground and not a word of it has ever been set down. The Order fights, but often it fights in shadow, without glory or reward. We have no banners.
Vaelin Al Sorna’s life changes for ever the day his father abandons him at the gates of the Sixth Order, a secretive military arm of the Faith. Together with his fellow initiates, Vaelin undertakes a brutal training regime – where the price of failure is often death. Under the tutelage of the Order’s masters, he learns how to forge a blade, survive the wilds and kill a man quickly and quietly.
Now his new skills will be put to the test. War is coming. Vaelin is the Sixth Order’s deadliest weapon and the Realm’s only hope. He must draw upon the very essence of his strength and cunning if he is to survive the coming conflict. Yet as the world teeters on the edge of chaos, Vaelin will learn that the truth can cut deeper than any sword.
I banish forgetting.
My seed has grown and become prophecy.
Truth walks the world above.
Magic is risen to the world once more. In Cornwall, they have seen it rise: in an angel of death and endless, unseasonal snow.
Across the ocean, on a remote Canadian island, the blood and offerings and smoke of England seem nothing more than distant rumours of hysteria.
Until the girl disappears. And the whale comes. And The Plague spreads. And nothing is as it was before.
Fate, it seems, has nothing kind in store for Gair. First his lover and now his mentor have been killed – the first by the dangerous, ambitious Savin, the second in a revolutionary uprising. Alone, and with even his magical abilities betraying him, he has only one goal left: revenge.
Far to the north, if Teia has one goal it is survival. Attempting to cross a high mountain pass in the teeth of winter is an act of desperation, but the message she carries cannot wait for spring. An invasion force is gathering behind her, and only an ancient order of knights can hold them back.
The danger is real, there are enemies in the shadows, and time is running out…
Geofrey Gudgion – Saxon’s Bane (Solaris)
Fergus’ world changes forever the day his car crashes near the remote village of allingley. Traumatised by his near-death experience, he stays to work at the local stables as he recovers from his injuries. He will discover a gentler pace of life, fall in love – and be targeted for human sacrifice.
Clare Harvey’s life will never be the same either. The young archaeologist’s dream find – the peat-preserved body of a Saxon warrior – is giving her nightmares. She can tell that the warrior was ritually murdered, and that the partial skeleton lying nearby is that of a young woman. and their tragic story is unfolding in her head every time she goes to sleep. Fergus discovers that his crash is linked to the excavation, and that the countryside harbours some dark secrets. as Clare’s investigation reveals the full horror of a Dark age war crime, Fergus and Clare seem destined to share the Saxon couple’s bloody fate.
Nathan Hawke – Cold Redemption (Gollancz)
I fought against your people, and I have fought for them. I have killed, and I have murdered. I betrayed my kin and crippled my king. I led countless warriors to their deaths and fought to save one worthless life. I have stood against monsters and men and I cannot always tell the difference.
Fate carried me away from your lands, from the woman and the family I love. Three hellish years but now, finally, I may return. I hope I will find them waiting for me. I hope they will remember me while all others forget. Let my own people believe me dead, lest they hunt me down. Let me return in the dark and in the shadows so no one will know.
But hope is rare and fate is cruel. And if I have to, I will fight.
However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right?
Baxter Zevcenko’s life is pretty sweet. As the 16-year-old kingpin of the Spider, his smut-peddling schoolyard syndicate, he’s making a name for himself as an up-and-coming entrepreneur. Profits are on the rise, the other gangs are staying out of his business, and he’s going out with Esme, the girl of his dreams.
But when Esme gets kidnapped, and all the clues point towards strange forces at work, things start to get seriously weird. The only man drunk enough to help is a bearded, booze-soaked, supernatural bounty hunter that goes by the name of Jackson ‘Jackie’ Ronin.
Plunged into the increasingly bizarre landscape of Cape Town’s supernatural underworld, Baxter and Ronin team up to save Esme. On a journey that takes them through the realms of impossibility, they must face every conceivable nightmare to get her back, including the odd brush with the Apocalypse.
Douglas Lain – Billy Moon (Tor Books)
Billy Moon was Christopher Robin Milne, the son of A.A. Milne, the world-famous author of Winnie the Pooh and other beloved children’s classics. Billy’s life was no fairy-tale, though. Being the son of a famous author meant being ignored and even mistreated by famous parents; he had to make his own way in the world, define himself, and reconcile his self-image with the image of him known to millions of children. A veteran of World War II, a husband and father, he is jolted out of midlife ennui when a French college student revolutionary asks him to the chaos of Paris in revolt. Against a backdrop of the apocalyptic student protests and general strike that forced France to a standstill that spring, Milne’s new French friend is a wild card, able to experience alternate realities of the past and present. Through him, Milne’s life is illuminated and transformed, as are the world-altering events of that year.
The world is cracked and time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne no matter who stands against me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.
This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don’t look to me to save you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don’t follow me.
Follow me, and I will break your heart.
Daniel Polansky – She Who Waits (Hodder & Stoughton)
As a younger man, Warden carried out more than his fair share of terrible deeds, and never as many as when he worked for the Black House. But Warden’s growing older, and the vultures are circling. Low Town is changing, faster than even he can control, and Warden knows that if he doesn’t get out soon, he may never get out at all.
But Warden must finally reckon with his terrible past if he can ever hope to escape it. A hospital full of lunatics, a conspiracy against the corrupt new king, and a ghetto full of thieves and murderers stand between him and his slim hope for the future. And behind them all waits the one person whose betrayal Warden never expected. The one person who left him, broken and bitter, to become the man he is today.
The one woman he ever loved.
She who waits behind all things.
Paula Brackston – The Winter Witch (Corsair)
In her small Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana. She has not spoken a word out loud since she was a child, and her silence – as well as the magic she can’t quite control – makes her an oddity, taunted by rumour and mystery. Concerned for her safety, her mother arranges for Morgana to marry Cai Jenkins, the widower from the far hills who knows nothing of the nasty things folk say about her daughter.
After a swift wedding, Cai takes his new wife to his farm. Initially heartbroken to leave her home, Morgana soon begins to falls in love with the place, and the rugged mountains that surround it – just as Cai slowly begins to win her heart. But it isn’t long before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon. A dark force is at work – a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana, even at the expense of those closest to her. Forced to defend her home, her lover, and herself from all comers, Morgana must learn to harness her power . . . or lose everything.
Nathan Hawke – The Last Bastion (Gollancz)
The last battle for the fate of your country is coming. My kin are out for blood and revenge. Another empire sees a chance to come in and pick up the pieces of our war. Most of your warriors are stuck hiding in the swamps, always aware that they do not have enough numbers to win a straight fight.
And from over the seas, my people bring their most deadly weapons, the Fateguard. Living suits of armour, imbued with mystical and deadly power. The end times have come for your land. I have fought alongside you, I have bled for you, I have made myself a traitor to all I believe in for you. And yet you still do not trust me.
But you have no option.
This will be our last battle, and there is only one place that it can be fought. We must defend our stronghold, no matter how many lives it may cost, no matter how hard it is. For if we do not, there will be no mercy and no relief from the terrors to come.
Good thing I’m on your side.
Evie Manieri – Fortune’s Blight (Jo Fletcher Books)
Victory for the Shadari rebels has come at a terrible price. Hardship, superstition and a murderous cabal poison King Daryan’s young regime, but help is nowhere to be found: the mercenary who led their rebellion has vanished, their Nomas allies have troubles of their own, and the Norlanders who returned home to plead – or fight – for the Shadari’s independence have found themselves embroiled in the court politics of an empire about to implode.
As the foundations of the two far-flung countries begin to crack, an enigmatic figure watches from a tower room in Ravindal Castle. She is old, and a prisoner, but her reach is long, and her patience is about to be rewarded…
Elizabeth May – The Falconer (Gollancz)
Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until when a faery killed her mother.
Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.
But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?
Jaime Lee Moyer – Delia’s Shadow (Tor Books)
It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.
Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.
It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again.
And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.
Tony Venables – Knight of Shadows (Abaddon)
England, 1191. Richard lionheart has left the realm bankrupt and leaderless in his quest for glory. only Prince John seems willing to fight back the tide of chaos threatening england – embodied by the traitorous ‘Hood.’
But John has a secret weapon: Guy of Gisburne, outcast, mercenary, and now knight. His first mission: to intercept the jewel-encrusted skull of John the Baptist, sent by the templars to Philip, King of France. gisburne’s quest takes him, his world-weary squire galfrid in tow, from the tower of london to the hectic crusader port of Marseilles – and into increasingly bloody encounters with ‘the White Devil’: the fanatical templar de Mercheval.
Relentlessly pursued back to england, and aided by the beautiful and secretive Mélisande, Gisburne battles his way with sword, lance and bow to a bitter confrontation at the Castel de Mercheval. But beyond it – if he survives – lies an even more unpredictable adversary.