Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2013. Like fantasy, there were too many books that caught my fancy for one post, so they’ve been split in two. 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!
John Henry Clay – The Lion and the Lamb (Hodder & Stoughton)
Condemned to a hovel, beaten by a merciless commander, crushed by the weather and forced to survive on starvation rations: no one looking at Paul would ever guess that he is heir to one of Roman Britain’s wealthiest families. But Paul had his reasons for joining the army and fleeing the family he loves.
But when rumours of a barbarian uprising from beyond the Wall begin to circulate, Paul realises that his family is in grave danger.
With only the former slave-girl Eachna for company, Paul deserts the army, for which the penalty is death, and undertakes a hazardous journey across Britain where danger lurks round every corner.
Epic in scope, rich with historical detail, THE LION AND THE LAMB is a novel of Roman Britain on the cusp of the Dark Ages, when all that stands between her citizens and oblivion is one family.
Kate Forsyth – The Wild Girl (Allison & Busby)
The Wild Girl interweaves the true story of Dortchen Wild, the girl who loved Wilhelm Grimm, with the fairytales she told him as they grew up together in war-stricken Germany.
A beautiful and dramatic love story, Dortchen Wild was the source and muse for many of the Grimm Brother’s compelling fairytales such as Rumpelstiltskin and Hansel & Gretel.
As Napoleon’s war rages on, the Wild family and the Grimms battle poverty, ill health and the loss of loved ones, bound together by the magical fairytales they created and that still resonate today.
This is his story.
We meet Jean-Marie d’Aumout as a penniless orphan eating beetles by the side of a road. His fate is changed after an unlikely encounter finds him patronage and he is sent to military academy. Despite his frugal roots, and thanks to wit and courage in great measure, he grows up to become a diplomat and spy.
Rising through the ranks of eighteenth-century French society, he feasts with lords, ladies and eventually kings, at the Palace of Versailles itself.
Passion, political intrigue and international adventure abound in Jean-Marie’s life, yet his drive stems from a single obsession: the pursuit of the perfect taste. Three-Snake Bouillabaisse, Pickled Wolf’s Heart and Flamingo Tongue are just some of the delicacies he devours on his journey toward the ultimate feast.
But beyond the palace walls, revolution is in the air and the country is clamouring with hunger of a different kind.
Nineteen-year-old Sita is the shining star of Lakshmi’s imperial guard, having pledged her life to the protection of the young ruler.
Set in the sensuous world of nineteenth-century India, Empress of India is the story of an unlikely friendship between these two women, as together they face broken hearts, court intrigue and the destruction of a kingdom they’d both give anything to save.
Henry Venmore-Rowland – The Sword and the Throne (Transworld)
AD 69. Aulus Caecina Severus has thrown in his lot with the hedonistic Vitellius and prepares his legions for a gruelling march over the Alps.
Driven by the desire to repay the treachery of his former patron, the Emperor Galba, and to keep his rival Valens in check, Severus leads his army against barbarian rebellions and against the mountains themselves in his race to reach Italy first. With the vast Po valley almost in sight, news reaches the army that Galba has been killed in a coup, and that Otho has been declared Emperor by the Praetorians who he had bribed to murder their own emperor.
But there is no turning back for Severus, even if he wanted to. The Rhine legions want their man on the throne, and they won’t stop until they reach Rome itself. Even once Otho is defeated, the battle for supremacy between Severus and Valens is far from over. The politics of the court and the mob is the new battleground, and Severus needs the help of his wife Salonina and his freedman Totavalas in this constant game of thrones. When stories spread of a new power in the east, Severus has to decide where his real loyalty lies: to his Emperor, to his city or to himself?
Christian Cameron – The Ill-Made Knight (Orion)
As a boy William old dreams of chivalry, but when he is branded a thief, his chances of becoming a knight are dashed. Taken on as a squire by his newly-knighted friend Sir Robert, he travels to France with the Black Prince and shows he has the makings of a man-at-arms at the Battle of Poitiers. But while many other squires are knighted by a grateful prince, the tainted William is not. His only course is to become a mercenary, and he ends up joining the White Company of the infamous Sir John Hawkwood, the most feared mercenary of the age, as he schemes and slaughters his way through southern France and Italy. And yet it is as a mercenary that William finally learns the code of chivalry, and how to be a true knight.
Yangzse Choo – The Ghost bride (William Morrow)
Li Lan, the daughter of a respectable Chinese family in colonial Malaysia, hopes for a favorable marriage, but her father has lost his fortune, and she has few suitors. Instead, the wealthy Lim family urges her to become a “ghost bride” for their son, who has recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at what price?
Night after night, Li Lan is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, where she must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family.
Thomas Keneally – The Daughters of Mars (Atria Books)
In 1915, two spirited Australian sisters join the war effort as nurses, escaping the confines of their father’s farm and carrying a guilty secret with them. Used to tending the sick as they are, nothing could have prepared them for what they confront, first near Gallipoli, then on the Western Front.
Yet amid the carnage, Naomi and Sally Durance become the friends they never were at home and find themselves courageous in the face of extreme danger, as well as the hostility they encounter from some on their own side. There is great bravery, humor, and compassion, too, and the inspiring example of the remarkable women they serve alongside. In France, where Naomi nurses in a hospital set up by the eccentric Lady Tarlton while Sally works in a casualty clearing station, each meets an exceptional man: the kind of men for whom they might give up some of their precious independence—if only they all survive.
At once vast in scope and extraordinarily intimate, The Daughters of Mars brings World War I to vivid, concrete life from an unusual perspective. A searing and profoundly moving tale, it pays tribute to men and women of extraordinary moral resilience, even in the face of the incomprehensible horrors of modern war.
Mary-Rose MacColl – In Falling Snow (Penguin)
Iris Crane’s tranquil life is shattered when a letter summons memories from her bittersweet past: her first love, her best friend, and the tragedy that changed everything. Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. But in Paris she meets the charismatic Dr. Frances Ivens, who convinces Iris to help establish a field hospital in the old abbey at Royaumont, staffed entirely by women—a decision that will change her life. Seamlessly interwoven is the story of Grace, Iris’s granddaughter in 1970s Australia. Together their narratives paint a portrait of the changing role of women in medicine and the powerful legacy of love.
Pavo’s journey begins when he encounters the Roman soldier Macro, who has been charged with his training. Bonds of friendship develop between the two men, both aware that their fates depend not only on Pavo’s skills in the arena but also on the whims of powerful and ruthless senators. Can Pavo survive to fulfil his most cherished goal – revenge for the murder of his father at the hands of a champion gladiator?
Katherine Webb – The Misbegotten (Orion)
Bath, 1821. A reluctant Rachel Weekes finds employment as companion to Jonathan Alleyn, a man tortured by memories of the Peninsula War and tormented by the disappearance of his childhood sweetheart, Alice.
Starling, foundling servant to the Alleyn family, is determined to uncover the truth about Alice’s mysterious disappearance. Others want only to forget, and will go to extreme lengths to do so.
As couples laugh and dance, carefree, in the glittering candlelight of the Assembly Rooms, shattering truth lurks behind closed doors. Rachel is drawn to Starling and as, together, they seek answers, they learn that courage comes at a high price, and that to resist the constraints of their social position is to risk everything.
When the beautiful and terrified Mrs Lucy Adams stumbles into the Tombs, headquarters of New York’s newly formed police force, it’s the beginning of a dense, thorny maze of crime for copper star Timothy Wilde. He’s hardened to the injustices of life in the unforgiving city he’s grown up in, but that doesn’t mean he accepts it. With immigrants flooding into the docks every day, each community is both adapting and fighting for its place in the new world, and there are many who fall victim to the clash. But the worst menace growing on the streets are the blackbirders; slave catchers who make a tidy sum from their human trade. And Timothy is about to be taken right to heart of them…
Joe R. Lansdale – The Thicket (Mulholland Books)
Jack Parker knows all too well how treacherous life can be. His parents did not survive a smallpox epidemic. His grandfather was murdered. Now his sister Lula has been kidnapped by a bank robber.
Alongside bounty hunter Shorty, an eloquent dwarf with a chip on his shoulder, and Eustace, the grave-digging son of an ex-slave, Jack sets off to rescue Lula.
In turn-of-the-century Texas, that quest is likely to turn dangerous. Murderous outlaws find their homes in the remote wilderness. Oil wells spurt liquid money from the ground. And blood and redemption still rule supreme.