Jen Williams – The Iron Ghost

jenwilliams-theironghostBeware the dawning of a new mage…

Wydrin of Crosshaven, Sir Sebastian and Lord Aaron Frith are experienced in the perils of stirring up the old gods. They are also familiar with defeating them, and the heroes of Baneswatch are now enjoying the perks of suddenly being very much in demand for their services.

When a job comes up in the distant city of Skaldshollow, it looks like easy coin – retrieve a stolen item, admire the views, get paid. But in a place twisted and haunted by ancient magic, with the most infamous mage of them all, Joah Demonsworn, making a reappearance, our heroes soon find themselves threatened by enemies on all sides, old and new. And in the frozen mountains, the stones are walking…

Last year Jen Williams’ The Copper Promise, the first book in this series, surprised me with the insane amount of fun it was. I loved the effervescent Wydrin, the conscientious Sir Sebastian, and the troubled Lord Frith. This meant I was very much looking forward to returning to these characters in The Iron Ghost. And Williams delivers on the promise of the first novel with this second book. The Iron Ghost is just as much fun as The Copper Promise, while upping the drama and narrative stakes. Wydrin remains brilliant, but I liked the more pronounced roles of Frith and Sebastian in this outing.  Read More …

Katherine Addison – The Goblin Emperor

katherineaddison-thegoblinemperorA half-goblin, the youngest son of the emperor has lived his entire life in exile, far from the Imperial Court and the intrigue that surrounds it. But then his father and three half brothers – who are the heirs to the throne ahead of him – die together in an airship crash. Maia is summoned to take his father’s throne.
    
For Maia, life in the capital is a bewildering and exhausting daily test of his mettle. And before long he discovers his father and half brothers’ deaths were no accident. The airship was tampered with. The crash was murder.

With no friends, no advisers, and no schooling in the art of court politics, the only thing Maia knows for certain is that whoever was behind the assassinations must still be plotting an attempt on his life.

After seeing most of my friends, and much of the SFF blogosphere, geek out over Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, I knew I needed to read it at some point. A few weeks ago I finally got the final push to actually read it (Thank you, Justin) and then the book was nominated for a Hugo, which clinched it: I was reading this book ASAP. And I’m glad I did, because The Goblin Emperor was brilliant and addictive. I just wanted to keep reading this book, even if I had to put down the book because life. I couldn’t wait to go back to Maia’s tale and find out what happened next.   Read More …

Peter Newman – The Vagrant

peternewman-thevagrantThe Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the sword, the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.

Peter Newman’s debut novel The Vagrant was one of my most anticipated books for the first half of the year. Already familiar with his work on the Tea and Jeopardy podcast, I was looking forward to seeing what he would do with a longer fictional work. When the cover was released and I spotted that baby on it, along with the blurb, I was hooked, I had to read this book. After a bit of a cold start The Vagrant made for very compelling reading.  Read More …

Author Query – Peter Newman

peternewman-thevagrantPeter Newman is a new author about to be published by Harper Voyager, but you might already be more familiar with Peter than you think. You might know him in the guise of Latimer, Emma Newman’s slightly dangerous, well-mannered butler on Tea and Jeopardy. This Thursday, however, sees the publication of Peter’s debut novel The Vagrant, a novel which I think will make him a well-known name around the SFF scene as a writer of fine fiction. At the time of writing this I’m hip deep in the book and I’m enjoying it tremendously. Look for my more expansive thoughts tomorrow when I’ll post my review of the book. For now though, please enjoy this marvellous interview with Peter, which might possibly include some cake and mild peril.  Read More …

Oskar Jensen – The Yelling Stones

oskarjensen-theyellingstones“It was the first day of spring. The Yelling Stones, snow-swaddled, loomed before the great hall that bore their name and waited for something to happen. It would not take long…”

Astrid Gormsdottir cannot wait for the snow to melt so that she can ride freely through field and forest. But on her first spring ride she is attacked by wolves, only to be saved by a newcomer, a boy named Leif. And as winter ends there are whispers of a terrifying beast, trolls being attacked and witches on the move.

Astrid and Leif must join forces to face an unknown danger that threatens their very way of life.

The tagline to Oskar Jensen’s The Yelling Stones is ‘A Viking tale of myth and magic.’ Of course, this is catnip to my inner nine-year-old—who am I kidding? This is catnip to thirty-five-year-old me! To add to the must-read-this-now factor of the book, The Yelling Stones has a heroine and a hero who doesn’t fit the traditional Viking mould. The story was every bit as fun and adventurous as its cover indicates, yet it isn’t as straight-forward an adventure romp as it would seem either; there is some true tragedy in the book and some quite serious themes.  Read More …

Author Query – Gary Meehan

48195_TrueFire_cvr.inddGary Meehan is the author of the True Fire trilogy, the second book of which, True Dark, was published at the start of the month. I hadn’t heard of the series before I was contacted by the publisher, but the elements of the books – witches, power struggles, and a teenage mum – sounded fascinating. I’ll be reviewing both books after my May Historical Month, but for now I was happy to have the chance to ask Gary some questions about the books. I was especially interested in the teenage mum aspect of the story.

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Let’s start with the basics. How would you introduce people to the world of Megan and her friends?

Werlavia’s a medieval land (mostly) united in a single Realm under a single religion known as the Faith. This is a fantasy world with no fantasy. There’s no magic, no supernatural creatures, no paranormal forces, and their gods are a matter of belief not reality.  Read More …

Ken Liu – The Grace of Kings

kenliu-thegraceofkingsWily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

Ken Liu is mostly known for his prolific output as a short story writer. He’s also an author that rarely disappoints; I’ve liked, if not loved, all of his stories I’ve read. When Saga Press announced they’d snapped up his long-awaited novel it immediately went on my must-read list. The Grace of Kings is an epic Silk Road fantasy with added -punk elements; it combines traditional Chinese story elements with a Pacific Ocean islands locale and some clever technological inventions that feel organic to the setting. In other words, once again Liu didn’t disappoint.  Read More …

Guest Post: Susan Murray on Court Politics in Highkell

susanmurray-thewaterbornebladeThis May sees the somewhat delayed publication of Susan Murray’s fantasy debut The Waterborne Blade. I’ve been looking forward to the book and I’m hoping to crack my ARC open sooner rather than later *gives teetering review pile a stern look* When I got to ask Susan for a guest post, I put the following question to her:

As Alwenna is called Queen, but her husband’s rank is left unspecified, I was wondering whether you could tell us a bit more about how Highkell’s court is structured and whether Alwenna is indeed a ruling queen in her own right.

Susan sent me the following as an answer. The Waterborne Blade is out from Angry Robot on 7 May world-wide. Do check it out!  Read More …

In the News: Defying Doomsday on Pozible

City overlooking desolate desert landscape with cracked earthIn the past couple of years Kickstarter and its various competitors have turned into a great way to get interesting anthologies to market. There are lots of great projects out there and increasingly I’ll receive emails asking me to broadcast new campaigns to my readers here on the blog and elsewhere. I usually let those go, because it feels odd to promote projects I won’t personally be backing. But last week I backed the Defying Doomsday project, because it looked very interesting, it’s got a story by the awesome Corinne Duyvis, and the representation of disabled or chronically ill characters is dear to my heart. This meant that when I received an email about the project from its creators, I was stoked to share it here on the blog. What exactly is the Defying Doomsday project? Have a quote:  Read More …

Cover Reveal: Bryony Pearce – Phoenix Rising

bansheecrew

This is not a drill. This is not an April Fool’s joke, this is a full-out cover reveal for Bryony Pearce’s new novel Phoenix Rising. Having loved Bryony’s last book, The Weight of Souls, I was really looking forward to seeing what she wrote next so I was rather excited to receive an advanced review copy for the book along with my official #BansheeCrew tag bracelet. What is this #BansheeCrew thing about you ask? Have a blurb and see what you think.
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