Welcome to the first post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2014. 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!
Craig Cormick – The Shadow Master (Angry Robot Books)
In a land riven with plague, in 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…
Deborah Harkness – The Book of Life (Headline)
After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches – with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.
At the moment, the Wizard’s employees are neither. The goblins are upset with their working conditions, the dragonslayer has thrown a hissy fit over his medical insurance (or lack thereof) and everyone is upset about the terrible canteen coffee.
Yet the Wizard hasn’t got time to worry about revolution in the workplace – he’s about to see his brilliant business plan (based on entrepreneurial flair and involving one or two parallel worlds) disrupted by a clueless young man.
Side effects may include a huge hole in the fabric of reality.
This is almost certainly going to be a bad day at the office.
The world has been massively unappreciative of sixteen-year-old Baxter Zevcenko. His bloodline may be a combination of ancient Boer mystic and giant shape-shifting crow, and he may have won an inter-dimensional battle and saved the world, but does anyone care? No.
Instead he’s packed off to Hexpoort, a magical training school that’s part reformatory, part military school, and just like Hogwarts (except with sex, drugs, and better internet access). The problem is that Baxter sucks at magic. He’s also desperately attempting to control his new ability to dreamwalk, all the while being singled out by the school’s resident bully, who just so happens to be the Chosen One.
But when the school comes under attack, Baxter needs to forget all that and step into action. The only way is joining forces with his favourite recovering alcoholic of a supernatural bounty hunter, Ronin, to try and save the world from the apocalypse. Again.
Rebecca Levene – Smiler’s Fair (Hodder)
Yron the moon god died, but now he’s reborn in the false king’s son. His human father wanted to kill him, but his mother sacrificed her life to save him. He’ll return one day to claim his birthright. He’ll change your life.
He’ll change everything.
Smiler’s Fair: the great moving carnival where any pleasure can be had, if you’re willing to pay the price. They say all paths cross at Smiler’s Fair. They say it’ll change your life. For five people, Smiler’s Fair will change everything.
In a land where unimaginable horror lurks in the shadows, where the very sun and moon are at war, five people – Nethmi, the orphaned daughter of a murdered nobleman, who in desperation commits an act that will haunt her forever. Dae Hyo, the skilled warrior, who discovers that a lifetime of bravery cannot make up for a single mistake. Eric, who follows his heart only to find that love exacts a terrible price. Marvan, the master swordsman, who takes more pleasure from killing than he should. And Krish, the humble goatherd, with a destiny he hardly understands and can never accept – will discover just how much Smiler’s Fair changes everything.
Gail Z. Martin – Deadly Curiosity (Solaris Books)
Welcome to Trifles & Folly, and antique and curio shop with a dark secret. Proprietor Cassidy Kincaide continues a family tradition begun in 1670 – acquiring and neutralizing dangerous supernatural items. It’s the perfect job for Cassidy, whose psychic gift lets her touch an object and know its history.
Together with her business partner Soren, a 500-year-old vampire and former jewel thief, Cassidy makes it her business to get infernal objects off the market. When mundane antiques suddenly become magically malicious, it’s time for Cassidy and Soren to get rid of these Deadly Curiosities before the bodies start piling up.
James A. Moore – The Blasted Lands (Angry Robot Books)
The Empire of Fellein is in mourning. The Emperor is dead, and the armies of the empire have grown soft. Merros Dulver, their newly-appointed – and somewhat reluctant – commander, has been tasked with preparing them to fight the most savage enemy the world has yet seen.
Meanwhile, a perpetual storm ravages the Blasted Lands, and a new threat is about to arise – the Broken are coming, and with them only Death.
Rachel Pollack – The Child Eater (Jo Fletcher Books)
On Earth, the Wisdom family has always striven to be more normal than normal. But Simon Wisdom, the youngest child, is far from normal: he can see the souls of the dead. And now the ghosts of children are begging him to help them, as they face something worse than death. The only problem is, he doesn’t know how.
In a far-away land of magic and legends, Matyas has dragged himself up from the gutter and inveigled his way into the Wizards’ college. In time, he will become more powerful than all of them – but will his quest blind him to the needs of others? For Matyas can also hear the children crying.
But neither can save the children alone, for the child eater is preying on two worlds…
Arianne ‘Tex’ Thompson – One Night in Sixes (Solaris Books)
Appaloosa Elim is a man who knows his place. On a good day, he’s content with it. Today is not a good day. Today, his so called ‘partner’ – that lily-white lordling Sil Halfwick – has ridden off west for the border, hell-bent on making a name for himself in native territory. And Elim, whose place is written in the bastard browns and whites of his cow-spotted face, doesn’t dare show up home again without him.
The border town called Sixes is quiet in the heat of the day, but Elim’s heard the stories about what wakes at sunset: gunslingers and shapeshifters and ancient animal gods whose human faces never outlast the daylight. And about the only thing worse than finding whatever’s left of Sil is the thought of getting caught out after dark – of discovering how much savage magic is living in Elim’s own flesh, and how far he’ll go to survive the night.
Robin Hobb – Fool’s Assassin (HarperVoyager)
Over the years, Hobb’s imagination has soared throughout the mythic lands of the Six Duchies in such bestselling series as the Liveship Traders Trilogy and the Rain Wilds Chronicles. But no matter how far she roamed, her heart always remained with Fitz. And now, at last, she has come home, with an astonishing new novel that opens a dark and gripping chapter in the Farseer saga.
FitzChivalry—royal bastard and former king’s assassin—has left his life of intrigue behind. As far as the rest of the world knows, FitzChivalry Farseer is dead and buried. Masquerading as Tom Badgerlock, Fitz is now married to his childhood sweetheart, Molly, and leading the quiet life of a country squire.
Though Fitz is haunted by the disappearance of the Fool, who did so much to shape Fitz into the man he has become, such private hurts are put aside in the business of daily life, at least until the appearance of menacing, pale-skinned strangers casts a sinister shadow over Fitz’s past . . . and his future.
Now, to protect his new life, the former assassin must once again take up his old one….
John Hornor Jacobs – The Incorruptibles (Gollanz)
In the contested and unexplored territories at the edge of the Empire, a boat is making its laborious way up stream. Riding along the banks are the mercenaries hired to protect it – from raiders, bandits and, most of all, the stretchers, elf-like natives who kill any intruders into their territory. The mercenaries know this is dangerous, deadly work. But it is what they do.
In the boat the drunk governor of the territories and his sons and daughters make merry. They believe that their status makes them untouchable. They are wrong. And with them is a mysterious, beautiful young woman, who is the key to peace between warring nations and survival for the Empire. When a callow mercenary saves the life of the Governor on an ill-fated hunting party, the two groups are thrown together.
For Fisk and Shoe – two tough, honourable mercenaries surrounded by corruption, who know they can always and only rely on each other – their young companion appears to be playing with fire. The nobles have the power, and crossing them is always risky.
And although love is a wonderful thing, sometimes the best decision is to walk away. Because no matter how untouchable or deadly you may be, the stretchers have other plans.
Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory – The House of Four Winds (Tor Books)
The rulers of tiny, impoverished Swansgaard have twelve daughters and one son. While the prince’s future is assured, his twelve sisters must find their own fortunes.
Disguising herself as Clarence, a sailor, Princess Clarice intends to work her way to the New World. When the crew rebels, Clarice/Clarence, an expert wth rapier and dagger, sides with the handsome navigator, Dominick, and kills the cruel captain.
Dominick leads the now-outlawed crew in search of treasure in the secret pirate haven known as The House of Four Winds. They encounter the sorceress Shamal, who claims Dominick for her own—but Clarice has fallen hard for Dominick and won’t give him up without a fight.
Carrie Patel – The Buried Life (Angry Robot Books)
The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Recoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.
When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…
Ben Peek – The Godless (Tor UK)
Fifteen thousand years after the War of the Gods and their corpses now lie scattered across the world, slowly dying as men and women awake with strange powers that are derived from their bodies. While some see these powers as a gift – most call them a curse.
When Ayae, a young cartographer’s apprentice in the city of Mireea, is trapped in a burning building she is terrified as this dormant power comes to life within her. The flames destroy everything around her but she remains unscathed – fire cannot touch her. This curse makes her a target for the army marching on her home – an army determined to reclaim the corpse of the God Ger, who lies dying beneath the city, and harness his power for themselves.
Zaifyr, a man adorned in the ancient charms, also arrives in Mireea. His arrival draws the attention of two of the ‘children of the gods’, Fo and Bau, powerful, centuries old beings who consider themselves immortal. All three will offer different visions for Ayae’s powers – and whatever choice she makes will result in new enemies.
Meanwhile, as the army approaches ever closer to Mirea, the saboteur Bueralan and Dark, his mercenary group, look to infiltrate and learn their weaknesses. Alone in a humid, dangerous land, they find themselves witness to rites so appalling they realise it would take the Gods themselves to halt the enemy’s attack – and even they may not be enough.
Tom Pollock – Our Lady of the Streets (Jo Fletcher Books)
Ever since Beth Bradley found her way into a hidden London, the presence of its ruthless goddess, Mater Viae, has lurked in the background. Now Mater Viae has returned with deadly consequences.
Streets are wracked by convulsions as muscles of wire and pipe go into spasm, bunching the city into a crippled new geography; pavements flare to thousand-degree fevers, incinerating pedestrians; and towers fall, their foundations decayed.
As the city sickens, so does Beth – her essence now part of this secret London. But when it is revealed that Mater Viae’s plans for dominion stretch far beyond the borders of the city, Beth must make a choice: flee, or sacrifice her city in order to save it.
Sam Sykes – A City Stained Red (Gollancz)
Long before he was sent to hell, the Aeon known as Khoth-Kapira was the closest thing to a living god the world had ever known. Possessed of a vast intellect, he pioneered many of the wonders that persist in the world long after he was banished. Nearly every fragment of medical, economic and technological progress that the mortal races enjoyed could be traced back to him. But with his wonders came cruelty beyond measure: industrialised slavery, horrifying experimentations and a rage that would eventually force the world to bow to him.
Now, as Khoth-Kapira stirs, the world begins to shudder with disasters yet to come.The epicenter is the city of Cier’Djaal. A religious war between two unstoppable military juggernauts begins to brew. The racial fury among many peoples of the world is about to explode. Demons begin to pour from the shadows at the head of a vicious cult worshipping dark powers.
And Lenk finds himself in the middle once more, his fate and the fate of Khoth-Kapira interlinked as the demon attempts to convince him of his earnestness.
‘Your world is breaking around you,’ He Who Makes says, ‘let me fix it. Let me help you. Let me out.’
Ben Aaronovitch – Foxglove Summer (Gollancz)
In the fifth of his bestselling series Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London – to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London you can’t take the London out of the copper.
Travelling west with Beverley Brook, Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops and local gods. And what’s more all the shops are closed by 4pm…
It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls 100 feet high.
Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh.
The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth – and the lives of one million humans – Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.
Rod Duncan – The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter (Angry Robot Books)
Elizabeth Barnabus lives a double life – as herself and as her brother, the private detective. She is trying to solve the mystery of a disappearing aristocrat and a hoard of arcane machines. In her way stand the rogues, freaks and self-proclaimed alchemists of a travelling circus.
But when she comes up against an agent of the all-powerful Patent Office, her life and the course of history will begin to change. And not necessarily for the better…
As millennia have passed, the population has decreased, and now only the central district is fully inhabited and operational; the outskirts have been left for the wilderness to reclaim. This decaying, lawless zone is the Discard; the home of Wild Alan.
Clever, arrogant, and perpetually angry, Wild Alan is both loved and loathed by the Discard’s misfits. He’s convinced that the Gleam authorities were behind the disaster that killed his parents and his ambition is to prove it. But he’s about to uncover more than he bargained for.
Emily Gee – The Fire Prince (Solaris Books)
The Seven Kingdoms are in the grip of an ancient and terrible blood curse. Thousands have died. Thousands more will die. Only one man can end the curse. The fugitive Osgaardan prince, Harkeld, is that man – whether he likes it or not. But the bounty on Harkeld’s head is high. He has outrun his father’s soldiers, but he can’t outrun the assassins who seek him – Fithians, trained in the art of killing.
Even the Sentinel Mages who guide and guard him are no match for Fithian steel. Faced with the ever-present threat of death, Harkeld must learn to use his fire magic. Or die. Meanwhile, dark plots are unfolding in Osgaard’s gold-tiled palace, snaring Princess Brigitta and those she loves. And in the eastern kingdoms, young orphan Jaume journeys with a band of mysterious and dangerous fighters, heading north for a purpose he does not understand.
Sylvia Izzo Hunter – The Midnight Queen (Ace)
In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…
Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.
Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her father’s wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.
Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost…
Kameron Hurley – The Mirror Empire (Angry Robot Books)
On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.
In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.
Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.
In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.
John James – The Fourth Gwenevere (Jo Fletcher Books)
Gwenevere, Arthur’s Saxon wife, is a problem. As the dynastic cement between the British and the Saxons, her marriage to the Arthur will result in a child that will unite both sides. At least, that would have been the plan, had the Great Duke Arthur not died and left the petty kings of Britain to squabble over his title.
Only Morvran, Arthur’s chief fixer, has the wit to see that the Fourth Gwenevere is the key to maintaining a crumbling peace. But when she is abducted, it seems that all hopes might disappear with her.
For, in a world where swords and horses have names of honour, where poets speak as oracles of a shifting truth and the raiding of Saxon warriors is set to ruin Britain, perhaps it’s only the Fourth Gwenevere herself who has the real solution?
A royal child, believed dead, sets his eyes on regaining his father’s stolen throne.
A bastard lord, uprising against his tyrant cousin, sheds more blood than he bargained for.
A duke’s widow, defending her daughter, defies the ambitious lord who’d control them both.
And two brothers, divided by ambition, will learn the true meaning of treachery.
All of this will come to pass, and the only certainty is that nothing will remain as it once was. As royal houses rise and fall, empires are reborn and friends become enemies, it becomes clear that much will be demanded of those who follow the path to power.
Lisa Tuttle – The Mysteries (Jo Fletcher Books)
Laura Lensky’s daughter, Peri, has been missing for two years. For the police it’s a closed case – she wanted to run away – but for her mother and boyfriend, Hugh, it’s a different story.
When Laura hires private investigator Ian Kennedy, it is a last-ditch attempt to find her daughter before she leaves for America.
Drawn in by strange parallels to an obscure Celtic myth and his first, almost unexplainable case, Ian takes the job. But his beliefs are about to be stretched to their limit – there are darker and more devious forces at work here than any of them imagined.
Dug Sealskinner is a down-on-his-luck mercenary travelling south to join up with King Zadar’s army. But he keeps rescuing the wrong people.
First, Spring, a child he finds scavenging on the battlefield, and then Lowa, one of Zadar’s most fearsome warriors, who’s vowed revenge on the king for her sister’s execution.
Now Dug’s on the wrong side of that thousands-strong army he hoped to join ?- and worse, Zadar has bloodthirsty druid magic on his side. All Dug has is his war hammer, one rescued child and one unpredictable, highly-trained warrior with a lust for revenge that’s going to get them all killed . . .
It’s a glorious day to die.