Welcome to another 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; this is the second half of the lists. 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! Read More …
The second day of my Anticipated Books posts and the second half of the fantasy books. 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!
It’s 1337. Genoese mercenaries under the French are harrying the channel ports and Edward III is powerless to stop them. He’s bankrupt, up to his ears in debt to Florentine bankers. He can’t hope to defend his lands in France, which are subject to a vicious scorched earth policy pursued by the French king.
Hal Romsey is a sixteen year old boy, frightened and intimidated by exalted company. But he is a Luciferist – a visionary and a disciple of the devil. He has one of the keys to Hell, and knows how to use it. Hell is willing to ally with England – and thus begins a story that will shake the thrones of medieval Europe and see angels and demons fighting for the future of England and France.
Richard Ford – Herald of the Storm (Headline)
Under the reign of King Cael the Uniter, this vast cityport on the southern coast has for years been a symbol of strength, maintaining an uneasy peace throughout the Free States. But now a long shadow hangs over the city, in the form of the dread Elharim warlord, Amon Tugha. When his herald infiltrates the city, looking to exploit its dangerous criminal underworld, and a terrible dark magick that has long been buried, once again begins to rise, it could be the beginning of the end.
Stella Gemmell – The City (Transworld)
The City is ancient and vast, built up over the millennia, layer upon layer. Once a thriving metropolis, it has sprawled beyond its walls, inciting and waging constant wars with neighbouring tribes and kingdoms – creating a barren wasteland of what was once green and productive.
At the heart of the City lives the emperor. Few have ever seen him, but those who have recall a man in his prime, though he should be very old. Some speculate that he is no longer human, others wonder if indeed he truly ever was. And a small number have have come to the desperate conclusion that the only way to stop the City’s incessant war and the constant bloodshed is to end the emperor’s unnaturally long life.
From the maze-like sewers and catacombs below the City, where the poor struggle to stay alive in the dark, to the blood-soaked fields of battle where few heroes manage to survive the never-ending siege, these rebels pin their hopes on one man:Shuskara. Once the emperor’s foremost general, he was betrayed long ago and is believed to be dead. But, under different aliases, he has survived, forsaking his City and hiding from the man to whome he once vowed his allegiance. Now, the time has come for Shuskara to emerge from the shadows and lead a final bid to free the City from those who have brought it and its people to their knees for so long…
Justin Gustainis – Morris & Chastain Investigations: Play With Fire & Midnight at the Oasis (Solaris)
In Play With Fire houses of worship are burning around the U.S. From churches, to synagogues, to mosques. Usually while the places are full of people. Initially dismissed as random acts of violence, Morris and Chastain uncover the deadly meaning behind the fires, and the terrifying cause they seek to serve. In Midnight at the Oasis Middle Eastern terrorists have conjured a deadly djin that will lay waste to America — unless Morris and Chastain can stop it first.
18 year old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined to a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery kills her mother.
Now it’s the 1844 winter season. Between a seeming endless number of parties, Aileana slaughters faeries in secret. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, every night she sheds her aristocratic facade and goes 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 she never even considered that she might become attracted to one. To the magnetic Kiaran MacKay, the faery who trained her to kill his own kind. Nor is she at all prepared for the revelation he’s going to bring. Because Midwinter is approaching, and with it an eclipse that has the ability to unlock a Fae prison and begin the Wild Hunt.
A battle looms, and Aileana is going to have to decide how much she’s willing to lose – and just how far she’ll go to avenge her mother’s murder.
Field Marshal Tamas’s coup against his king sends corrupt aristocrats to the guillotine and brings bread to the starving. But it also provokes war in the Nine Nations, internal attacks by royalist fanatics and greedy scrambling for money and power by Tamas’s supposed allies: the Church, workers’ unions and mercenary forces.
Stretched to his limit, Tamas relies heavily on his few remaining powder mages, including the embittered Taniel, a brilliant marksman who also happens to be Tamas’s estranged son, and Adamat, a retired police inspector whose loyalty will be tested to its limit.
Now, amid the chaos, a whispered rumour is spreading. A rumour about omens of death and destruction. Just old peasant legends about the gods returning to walk the earth. No modern educated man believes that sort of thing . . .
But perhaps they should.
Sarah Pinborough – Poison (Gollancz)
POISON is a beautifully illustrated retelling of the Snow White story which takes all the elements of the classic fairytale that we love (the handsome prince, the jealous queen, the beautiful girl and, of course, the poisoning) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires. It’s fun, contemporary, sexy, and perfect for fans of ONCE UPON A TIME, GRIMM, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN and more.
Mur Lafferty – The Shambling Guide to New York City (Orbit)
Following the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel writer in New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position, though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can’t take off her résumé – human.
Not to be put off by anything – especially not her blood-drinking boss or death goddess co-worker – Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her assignments turn deadly when the careful balance between humans and monsters starts to crumble – with Zoe right in the middle.
Justin Gustainis – Known Devil (Angry Robot Books)
My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.
A new supernatural gang is intent on invading Scranton – as if I didn’t have enough to contend with!
Supernatural gang warfare? Not on my watch!
Every teenage girl thinks she’s different. When government agents kick down Claire Forrester’s front door and murder her parents, Claire realises just how different she is.
Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and, hours later, stepped off it, the only passenger left alive. A hero.
President Chase Williams has sworn to eradicate the menace. Unknown to the electorate, however, he is becoming the very thing he has sworn to destroy.
Each of them is caught up in a war that has been controlled with laws and violence and drugs. But an uprising is about to leave them tied to one another for ever.
Jonathan Strahan (ed) – Fearsome Journeys: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy (Solaris)
Nothing further announced yet, but I loved the The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction last year and I well respect Jonathan Strahan’s chops as an editor, so I’m very much looking forward to this.
Chuck Wendig – Gods & Monsters: Unclean Spirits (Abaddon)
Exiled to Earth, the gods now walk amongst us, bringing with them their children and their servants and their monsters. Their power is a mere fraction of what it once was, but even a mote of divine magic is awesome – in the truest sense of the word.
Cason Cole knows this firsthand. He’s been serving the gods for the better part of a decade, their leash fastened tight around his neck. But when his most recent divine master gets killed – a thing Cason didn’t even know could happen – he finds himself once more a free man. All he’s got left is a burning need for vengeance against the very gods who forced him to kneel, but he’ll soon discover that getting revenge against the gods is no easy feat. He’ll have to put his life, love, sanity and soul on the line. Will he pay the cost? How priceless is his wrath?
Alex Bledsoe – Wisp of a Thing (Tor Books)
Touched by a very public tragedy, musician Rob Quillen comes to Cloud County, Tennessee, in search of a song that might ease his aching heart. All he knows of the mysterious and reclusive Tufa is what he has read on the internet: they are an enigmatic clan of swarthy,, black-haired mountain people whose historical roots are lost in myth and controversy. Some people say that when the first white settlers came to the Appalachians centuries ago, they found the Tufa already there. Other hint that Tufa blood brings special gifts.
Rob finds both music and mystery in the mountains. Close-lipped locals guard their secrets, even as Rob gets caught up in a subtle power struggle he can’t begin to comprehend. A vacationing wife goes missing, raising suspicions of foul play, and a strange feral girl runs wild in the woods, howling in the night like a lost spirit.
Change is coming to Cloud County, and only the night wind knows what part Rob will play when the last leaf falls from the Widow’s Tree…and a timeless curse must be broken at last.
This is the second standalone novel set in the world of Stephen Deas’ Memory of Flames trilogy. A pseudo-medieval world where life and politics are dominated by massive fire breathing dragons.
Neil Gaiman – The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Headline)
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark, from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.
It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.
His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
Kevin Hearne – Hunted (Del Rey/Orbit)
For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt – Artemis and Diana – for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, his apprentice Granuaile and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide and seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.
Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok – AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living – and still have a world to live in.
Snorri Kristjansson – The Swords of Good Men (Jo Fletcher Books)
To Ulfar Thormodsson, the Viking town of Stenvik is the penultimate stop on a long journey. Tasked with looking after his cousin after disgracing his father, he has travelled the world and now only wants to go home.
But Stenvik is different; it contains the beautiful and tragic Lilja, who immediately captures Ulfar’s heart. Because of her, he persuades his cousin to stay. But Stenvik is also home to some very deadly men, who could break Ulfar in an instant.
King Olav is marching on Stenvik from the East, determined to bring the White Christ to the masses at the point of his sword, and a host of bloodthirsty raiders led by a mysterious woman are sailing from the north. But Ulfar is about to learn that his enemies are not all outside the walls.
Mercedes Lackey – Steadfast (DAW)
Lionel Hawkins is a magician whose act is only partially sleight of hand. The rest is real magic. He’s an Elemental Magician with the power to persuade the Elementals of Air to help him create amazing illusions. It doesn’t take long before his assistant, acrobat Katie Langford, notices that he’s no ordinary magician—and for Lionel to discover that she’s no ordinary acrobat, but rather an untrained and unawakened Fire Magician. She’s also on the run from her murderous and vengeful brute of a husband. But can she harness her magic in time to stop her husband from achieving his deadly goal?
Will McIntosh – Love Minus Eighty (Orbit)
Welcome to dating a hundred years into the future: Technology has extended the lives of the rich and attractive by decades. The wealthy can arrange to be reanimated multiple times. While in cryogenic dating farms, dead women await lonely suitors to resurrect them and take them home . . .
Love Minus Eighty follows interconnected lives touched by these dating farms.
There’s Rob, who accidentally kills a jogger, then sells everything to visit her, seeking her forgiveness but instead falling in love.
Veronika, a socially awkward dating coach, finds herself responsible for the happiness of a man whose life she saved against his will.
And Mira, a gay woman accidentally placed in the heterosexual dating centre near its inception, desperately seeks a way to reunite with her frozen partner as the centuries pass.
Driven out of hell and with nothing to lose, the Fallen wage open warfare against the angels on the streets of our cities. 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 will break loose.
Seth Patrick – Reviver (Tor UK)
Revivers. Able to wake the recently dead, and let them bear witness to their own demise. Twelve years after the first reviver came to light, they have become accepted by an uneasy public. The testimony of the dead is permitted in courtrooms across the world. Forensic revival is a routine part of police investigation.
In the United States, that responsibility falls to the Forensic Revival Service. Despite his troubled past, Jonah Miller is one of their best. But while reviving the victim of a brutal murder, he encounters a terrifying presence. Something is watching. Waiting. His superiors tell him it was only in his mind, a product of stress. Jonah is not so certain.
Then Daniel Harker, the first journalist to bring revival to public attention, is murdered, and Jonah finds himself getting dragged into the hunt for answers. Working with Harker’s daughter Annabel, he becomes determined to find those responsible and bring them to justice. Soon they uncover long hidden truths that call into doubt everything Jonah stands for, and reveal a threat that if not stopped in time, will put all of humanity in danger . . .
S.M. Wheeler – Sea Change (Tor Books)
The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.
Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly’s quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.
Criminal underworld? He runs it.
Supernatural underworld? He hunts in it.
Nothing stops Mookie when he’s on the job.
But when his daughter takes up arms and opposes him, something’s gotta give…
And here is part two of my Anticipated Books (Summer/Fall) 2012 for the Fantasy category. Similar caveats as for Tuesday’s post. The other posts will follow over the weekend and next Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with the Anticipated Reads post up on the Sunday.
The First Law trilogy was Joe’s take on the great epic fantasy tales. Then, in BEST SERVED COLD he took on a fantasy version of a classic revenge story, and we have a superb tale of war waged in the frozen north still to come.
With this, his next novel, Joe Abercrombie is once again venturing in a new direction, and on a new adventure, with one of the most enduring, powerful and popular characters of the First Law Trilogy. It’s going to be their biggest challenge yet …
We still know little about Abercrombie’s latest, other than that it is a riff on westerns. Adain over at A Dribble of Ink has summed up what we know so far.
Lee Battersby – The Corpse Rat King (Angry Robot)
Marius don Hellespont and his apprentice, Gerd, are professional looters of battlefields. When they stumble upon the corpse of the King of Scorby and Gerd is killed, Marius is mistaken for the monarch by one of the dead soldiers and is transported down to the Kingdom of the Dead.
Just like the living citizens, the dead need a King — after all, the King is God’s representative, and someone needs to remind God where they are.
And so it comes to pass that Marius is banished to the surface with one message: if he wants to recover his life he must find the dead a King. Which he fully intends to do.
Just as soon as he stops running away.
Miles Cameron – The Red Knight (Gollancz)
This is a world dominated by The Wild.
Man lives in pockets of civilisation claimed from The Wild. Within men’s walls life is civilised, the peace punctuated by tournaments, politicking, courtly love and canny business. Beyond those walls men are prey – vulnerable to the exceptionally powerful and dangerous creatures which populate the land, and even more vulnerable to those creatures schemes.
So when one of those creatures breaks out of The Wild and begins preying on people in their homes, it takes a specialist to hunt it down or drive it out . . . and even then, it’s a long, difficult and extremely dangerous job.
The Black Captain and his men are one such group of specialists.
They have no idea what they’re about to face . . .
Forget George and the Dragon. Forget Sir Lancelot and tales of Knightly exploits. This is dirty, bloody work. This is violent, visceral action. This is a mercenary knight as you’ve never seen one before.
Rowena Cory Daniels – Sanctuary (Solaris)
For over three hundred years, the mystics lived alongside the true-men, until King Charald laid siege to the mystic’s island city and exiled them. Imoshen, most powerful of the female mystics, was elected to lead her people into exile. She faces threats from within, from male mystics who think they would make a better leader. And her people face threats from true-men, who have confiscated their ships. They must set sail by the first day of winter. Those who are left behind will be executed.
Once they set sail, they face winter storms, hostile harbours and sea-raiders who know their ships are laden with treasure. Imoshen relies on the sea captain, ardonyx, for advice, and Sorne, the half-blood mystic, who has lived among the true-men kingdoms of the Secluded Sea. But Imoshen knows the mystics can’t run for ever. They need somewhere to call home. They need… Sanctuary.
Linda Grimes – In a Fix (Tor)
Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she’s able to take on her clients’ appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don’t want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck.
This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable…that is, until Ciel’s island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client’s about-to-be-fiancé is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated.
Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gearshifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent Ciel’s been crushing on for years—both skilled adaptors—step in to help, but their first priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client’s intended.
Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems.
Douglas Hulick – Sworn in Steel (Tor UK)
It’s been three months since Drothe killed a legend and unexpectedly elevated himself into the ranks of the underworld elite. Now, as the newest Gray Prince managing the city’s underbelly, he’s learning how good he used to have it.
With barely an organization to his name, Drothe is already being called out by other Gray Princes. And to make matters worse, when one dies, all signs point to Drothe as wielding the knife. Members of the Kin begin choosing sides – mostly against him – for what looks to be another impending war. Then Drothe is approached by a man who has the solution to Drothe’s problem and an offer of redemption. The only problem is the offer isn’t for him.
Now Drothe finds himself on the way to the Despotate of Djan, the empire’s long-standing enemy, with an offer to make and a price on his head. And the grains of sand in the hour glass are running out, fast . . .
Richard Kadrey – Devil Said Bang (Harper Voyager)
While ruling the denizens of darkness does have a few perks, James Stark isn’t exactly thrilled at the course his career (not to mention his soul) has taken. Breaking out of Hell once was a miraculous trick. But twice? If anyone can do it, it’s Sandman Slim. While he’s working out the details of his latest escape plan, Slim has to figure out how to run his new domain and hold off a host of trigger-happy killers mesmerised by that bullseye on his back.
Everyone in Heaven, Hell, and in between wants to be the fastest gun in the universe, and the best way to prove it is to take down the new Lucifer, aka Sandman Slim aka James Stark. Then again, LA isn’t quite the paradise it once was since he headed south. A serial killer ghost is running wild and his angelic alter-ago is hiding somewhere in the lost days of time with a secret cabal who can rewrite reality. And starting to care about people and life again is a real bitch for a stone-cold killer.
Jay Kristoff – Stormdancer (Tor UK)
Griffins are supposed to be extinct. So when Yukiko and her warrior father are sent to capture one for the Shōgun, they fear that their lives are over. Everyone knows what happens to those who fail him.
But the mission proves less impossible and more deadly than anyone expects. Soon Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in her country’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. Alhough she can hear his thoughts, and saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her. Yet trapped together in the forest, Yukiko and Buruu form a surprising and powerful bond.
Meanwhile, the country verges on collapse. A toxic fuel is choking the land, the machine-powered Lotus Guild is publicly burning those they deem Impure, and the Shōgun cares for nothing but his own dominion. Authority has always made Yukiko uneasy, but her world changes when she meets Kin, a young man with secrets, and the rebel Kagé cabal. She learns the horrifying extent of the Shōgun’s crimes, both against her country and her family.
Returning to the city, Yukiko and Buruu are determined to make the Shōgun pay – but what can one girl and a flightless griffin do against the might of an empire?
Robin Maxwell -Jane (Tor)
Cambridge, England, 1905. Jane Porter is hardly a typical woman of her time. The only female student in Cambridge University’s medical program, she is far more comfortable in a lab coat dissecting corpses than she is in a corset and gown sipping afternoon tea. A budding paleoanthropologist, Jane dreams of traveling the globe in search of fossils that will prove the evolutionary theories of her scientific hero, Charles Darwin.
When dashing American explorer Ral Conrath invites Jane and her father to join an expedition deep into West Africa, she can hardly believe her luck. Africa is every bit as exotic and fascinating as she has always imagined, but Jane quickly learns that the lush jungle is full of secrets—and so is Ral Conrath. When danger strikes, Jane finds her hero, the key to humanity’s past, and an all-consuming love in one extraordinary man: Tarzan of the Apes.
Jane is the first version of the Tarzan story written by a woman and authorized by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate. Its 2012 publication will mark the centennial of the original Tarzan of the Apes.
Doyce Testerman – Hidden Things (Harper Voyager)
Watch out for the hidden things . . . That’s the last thing Calliope Jenkins’s best friend says to her before ending a two a.m. phone call from Iowa, where he’s working a case she knows little about. Seven hours later, she gets a visit from the police. Josh has been found dead, and foul play is suspected. Calliope is stunned. Especially since Josh left a message on her phone an hour after his body was found. Spurred by grief and suspicion, Calli heads to Iowa herself, accompanied by a stranger who claims to know something about what happened to Josh and who can— maybe—help her get him back. But the road home is not quite the straight shot she imagined . . .
Brent Weeks – The Blinding Knife (Orbit)
Gavin Guile is dying.
He’d thought he had five years left–now he has less than one. With fifty thousand refugees, a bastard son, and an ex-fiancée who may have learned his darkest secret, Gavin has problems on every side. All magic in the world is running wild and threatens to destroy the Seven Satrapies. Worst of all, the old gods are being reborn, and their army of color wights is unstoppable. The only salvation may be the brother whose freedom and life Gavin stole sixteen years ago.
Chuck Wendig – Mockingbird (Angry Robot)
Miriam is trying to keep her ability – her curse – in check.
But when Miriam touches a woman in line at the supermarket, she sees that the woman will be killed here, now.
She reacts, and begins a new chapter in her life – one which can never be expected to go well.
Tina Connolly – Ironskin (Tor)
Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.
It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain — the ironskin.
When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation” — a child born during the Great War — Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.
Teaching the unruly Dorie suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio…and come out as beautiful as the fey.
Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life — and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.
Stephen Deas – The King’s Assassin (Gollancz)
When Berren makes the mistake of stealing a purse from a thief-taker, it should have condemned him to a short and brutal life in the slave-mines. When the thief-taker offers to train him as an apprentice instead, he can’t believe his luck; but the thief-taker has secrets of his own, scars of a faraway war filled with mercenary soldiers, necromancers who brew potions that can change your destiny, and a psychotic girl-princess with a penchant for cutting pieces out of her lovers’ souls.
Jocelynn Drake – Angel’s Ink (Harper Voyager)
Looking for a tattoo — and maybe a little something extra: a burst of good luck, a dollop of love, or even a hex on an ex? Head to the quiet and mysterious Gage, the best skin artist in town. Using his unique potions — a blend of extraordinary ingredients and special inks — to etch the right symbol, he can fulfill any heart’s desire. But in a place like Low Town, where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires happily walk among humanity, everything has a price.
No one knows that better than Gage. Turning his back on his own kind, he left the magical Ivory Towers where cruel witches and warlocks rule, a decision that cost him his right to practice magic. If he disobeys, his punishment — execution — will be swift.
Though he’s tried to fly under the radar, Gage can’t hide from powerful warlocks who want him dead — or the secrets of his own past. But with the help of his friends, Trixie, a gorgeous elf who hides her true identity, and a hulking troll named Bronx, Gage just might make it through this enchanted world alive.
Max Gladstone – Three Parts Dead (Tor)
A God has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.
Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb. Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot. Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in. Her only help is Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead God, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.
But when the duo discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and the city’s slim hope of survival.
Kate Griffin – Stray Souls (Orbit)
Sharon Li has just discovered she’s a shaman. And just in time: London’s soul has gone missing. If anyone can solve the mystery and rescue the dying city, she can, but she’ll need help-from the support group she’s just set up for people with magical issues. Among them are a vampire who is O, a druid who suffers from allergies and a lack of confidence, and a banshee looking for an evening class in impressionist art. Now, this motley crew must find a way to save the world …
Chris F Holm – The Wrong Goodbye (Angry Robot)
Meet Sam Thornton, Collector of Souls.
Because of his efforts to avert the Apocalypse, Sam Thornton has been given a second chance – provided he can stick to the straight-and-narrow.
Which sounds all well and good, but when the soul Sam’s sent to collect goes missing, Sam finds himself off the straight-and-narrow pretty quick.
Mercedes Lackey – Redoubt (DAW)
Mags, a young Herald trainee in Haven, the capital city of the kingdom of Valdemar, has talents not commonly found in herald trainees. Recognizing this, the King’s Own Herald decides to train Mags as a spy in order to uncover the secrets of a mysterious new enemy who has taken an interest in Mags himself. Why is an even deeper mystery. The answers can only be found in the most unexpected corners of Mags’ past. Assuming he can live long enough to find them.
Scott Lynch – The Republic of Thieves (Gollancz)
After their adventures on the high seas, Locke and Jean are brought back to earth with a thump. Jean is mourning the loss of his lover and Locke must live with the fallout of crossing the all-powerful magical assassins the Bonds Magi. It is a fall-out that will pit both men against Locke’s own long lost love. Sabetha is Locke’s childhood sweetheart, the love of Locke’s life and now it is time for them to meet again. Employed on different sides of a vicious dispute between factions of the Bonds Sabetha has just one goal – to destroy Locke for ever. The Gentleman Bastard sequence has become a literary sensation in fantasy circles and now, with the third book, Scott Lynch is set to seal that success.
Jonathan Oliver – Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane (Solaris)
They gather in darkness, sharing ancient and arcane knowledge as they manipulate the very matter of reality itself. Spells and conjuration; legerdemain and prestidigitation – these are the mistresses and masters of the esoteric arts.
This amazing collection of new fiction has an extraordinary list of contributors, it is to feature an original short story from the international No. 1 bestseller Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveller’s Wife; alongside NYT bestseller Dan Abnett and more modern master of the arts: Christopher Fowler, Gemma Files, Alison Littlewood, Thana Niveau, Robert Shearman, Paul Meloy, Will Hill, Sarah Lotz, Storm Constantine, Lou Morgan, Sophia McDougall, Liz Williams, Gail Z. Martin and Steve Rasnic Tem.
David Tallerman – Crown Thief (Angry Robot)
Meet Easie Damasco: Thief, swindler and lately, reluctant hero.
But whatever good intentions Damasco may have are about to be tested to their limits, as the most valuable – and dangerous – object in the land comes within his light-fingered grasp. Add in some suicidally stubborn giants, an old enemy with dreams of empire and the deadliest killers in two kingdoms on his heels, and Damasco’s chances of staying honest – or even just surviving – are getting slimmer by the hour.
Lee Collins – The Dead of Winter (Angry Robot)
Cora and her husband hunt things – things that shouldn’t exist. When the marshal of Leadville, Colorado, comes across a pair of mysterious deaths, he turns to Cora to find the creature responsible. But if Cora is to overcome the unnatural tide threatening to consume the small town, she must first confront her own tragic past as well as her present.
Ian C. Esslemont – Blood and Bone (Transworld)
In the western sky the bright emerald banner of the Visitor descends like a portent of annihilation. On the continent of Jacuruku, the Thaumaturgs have mounted yet another expedition to tame the neighboring wild jungle. Yet this is no normal wilderness. It is called Himatan, and it is said to be half of the spirit-realm and half of the earth. And it is said to be ruled by a powerful entity whom some name the Queen of Witches, and some a goddess: the ancient Ardata. Saeng grew up knowing only the rule of the magus Thaumaturgs — but it was the voices out of that land’s forgotten past that she listened to. And when her rulers mount an invasion of the neighboring jungle, those voices send her and her brother on a desperate mission.
To the south, the desert tribes are united by the arrival of a foreign warleader, a veteran commander in battered ashen mail whom his men call, the Grey Ghost. This warleader takes the tribes on a raid like none other, deep into the heart of Thaumaturg lands. While word comes to K’azz, and mercenary company the Crimson Guard, of a contract in Jacuruku. And their employer… none other than Ardata herself.
Kevin Hearne – Trapped (DelRey/Orbit)
After twelve years of secret training, Atticus O’Sullivan is finally ready to bind his apprentice, Granuaile, to the earth and double the number of Druids in the world. But on the eve of the ritual, the world that thought he was dead abruptly discovers that he’s still alive, and they would much rather he return to the grave.
Having no other choice, Atticus, his trusted Irish wolfhound, Oberon, and Granuaile travel to the base of Mount Olympus, where the Roman god Bacchus is anxious to take his sworn revenge—but he’ll have to get in line behind an ancient vampire, a band of dark elves, and an old god of mischief, who all seem to have KILL THE DRUID at the top of their to-do lists.
Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory – Crown of Vengeance (Tor)
Here, readers will learn the truth about the Elven Queen Vielissiar Faricarnon, who was the first to face the Endarkened in battle and the first to bond with a dragon. She worked some of the greatest magics her world has ever known, and paid the greatest Price.
John Gwynne – Malice (Tor UK)
Set on a continent called the Banished Lands, populated by men and giants, dark forests, dreadwolves and draigs; this debut follows the story of Corban, a young man who just wants to become a warrior, but whose path will lead him to so much more. Populated with original and engaging characters, set in a primal, feral world, soon to become the battleground of angels and demons, this is a tale of love, betrayal, truth and courage. A coming-of-age tale filled with mystery, Machiavellian politics and adventure.
Sam Sykes – The Skybound Sea (Gollancz)
After the misadventures of the first two books Lenk and his companions must finally turn away from fighting each other and for their own survival and look to saving the entire human race.
A terrible demon has risen from beneath the sea and where it came from thousands could follow. And all the while an alien race is planning the extinction of humanity.
The third volume in the Aeon’s Gate trilogy widens the action out dramatically. TOME OF THE UNDERGATES was based mainly on a ship, BLACK HALO moved the action to an island of bones, THE SKYBOUND SEA takes us out into a world threatened with a uniquely imagined and terrifying apocalypse.
And the Anticipated Books posts for the second half of the year are off! Since I had so many fantasy books catching my eye, I split that one into two posts, much like I did in December. There are some books here that were also included in the posts for the first half of the year, but since their publication date was moved up, I decided to include them here again. 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!
Elspeth Cooper – Trinity Rising (Gollancz)
Gair’s battle has only just begun, and yet his heart has already been lost.
As he struggles with a crippling grief, still outwardly functional but inwardly torn into pieces, he sleepwalks into a situation that’s greater and more deadly than he or Alderan ever anticipated. A storm of unrest is spreading across the land and they are going to be caught up in it – at a moment when Gair’s hold on his magic, his greatest defence and most valuable tool, is starting to slip . . .
He is not alone in noticing the growing unrest and sensing something darker looming behind it. Beyond the mountains, in the bitterly cold north, Teia has seen the signs as well. After hundreds of years of peace her people are talking of a risky invasion to reclaim their ancestral lands . . . her Speaker claims the gods are on their side, but Teia fears another, hidden hand of stirring her people up. Whatever the truth, all she can see in her future is blood, battle and death. If she could only see a way to avert that fate.
But how can men be convinced to fight, when they have no idea they are part of a war . . . ?
Rowena Cory Daniels – Besieged (Solaris)
For nearly 300 years the mystics have lived alongside the true-men, who barely tolerate them, until…
King Charald is cursed with a half-blood mystic son. Sorne is raised to be a weapon against the mystics. Desperate to win his father’s respect, Sorne steals power to trigger visions. Unaware King Charald plans their downfall, the mystics are consumed by rivalry. although physically stronger, the males’ gifts are weaker than the females. Imoshen, the only female mystic to be raised by males, wants to end the feud. But the males resent her power and, even within her own sisterhood Imoshen’s enemies believe she is addicted to the male gifts.
Sorne tries, but cannot win the respect of true-men. When he has a vision of half-bloods in danger he has to ask himself where his loyalty lies.
Convinced he can destroy the mystics, King Charald plans to lay siege to their island city. Will Imoshen win the trust of the mystic leaders and, if she does, will she believe the visions of a half-blood?
Steven Erikson – Forge of Darkness (Transworld)
Now is the time to tell the story of an ancient realm, a tragic tale that sets the stage for all the tales yet to come and all those already told…
It’s a conflicted time in Kurald Galain, the realm of Darkness, where Mother Dark reigns. But this ancient land was once home to many a power… and even death is not quite eternal. The commoners’ great hero, Vatha Urusander, is being promoted by his followers to take Mother Dark’s hand in marriage, but her Consort, Lord Draconus, stands in the way of such ambitions. The impending clash sends fissures throughout the realm, and as the rumors of civil war burn through the masses, an ancient power emerges from the long dead seas. Caught in the middle of it all are the First Sons of Darkness, Anomander, Andarist, and Silchas Ruin of the Purake Hold…
Kate Locke – God Save the Queen (Orbit)
Queen Victoria rules with an immortal fist.
The undead matriarch of a Britain where the Aristocracy is made up of werewolves and vampires, where goblins live underground and mothers know better than to let their children out after dark. A world where being nobility means being infected with the Plague (side-effects include undeath), Hysteria is the popular affliction of the day, and leeches are considered a delicacy. And a world where technology lives side by side with magic. The year is 2012 and Pax Britannia still reigns.
Xandra Vardan is a member of the elite Royal Guard, and it is her duty to protect the Aristocracy. But when her sister goes missing, Xandra will set out on a path that undermines everything she believed in and uncover a conspiracy that threatens to topple the empire. And she is the key-the prize in a very dangerous struggle.
James Maxey – Hush (Solaris)
The invulnerable, super-strong warrior Infidel has a secret: she’s lost her magical powers right at the moment when she needs them most. To keep a promise to a fallen friend, she must journey to the frozen wastelands of the north.
Her quest leads her through the abstract realms of the Sea of Wine, where she uncovers a conspiracy that threatens all life. Hush, the primal dragon of cold, has formed an alliance with the ghost of a vengeful witch to murder Glorious, the dragon of the sun, plunging the world into an unending winter night.
Without her magical strength, can Infidel possibly survive her battle with Hush? If she fails to save glorious, will the world see another morning?
Rachel Neumeier – House of Shadows (Orbit)
Orphaned, two sisters are left to find their own fortunes.
Sweet and proper, Karah’s future seems secure at a glamorous Flower House. She could be pampered for the rest of her life… if she agrees to play their game.
Nemienne, neither sweet nor proper, has fewer choices. Left with no alternative, she accepts a mysterious mage’s offer of an apprenticeship. Agreeing means a home and survival, but can Nemienne trust the mage?
With the arrival of a foreign bard into the quiet city, dangerous secrets are unearthed, and both sisters find themselves at the center of a plot that threatens not only to upset their newly found lives, but also to destroy their kingdom.
K.J. Parker – Sharps (Orbit)
For the first time in nearly forty years, an uneasy truce has been called between two neighbouring kingdoms. The war has been long and brutal, fought over the usual things: resources, land, money . . .
Now, there is a chance for peace. Diplomatic talks have begun and with them, the games of skill and chance. Two teams of fencers represent their nations at this pivotal moment.
When the future of the world lies balanced on the point of a rapier, one misstep could mean ruin for all.
Lisa Tuttle – The Silver Bough (Jo Fletcher Books)
Appleton is a small town nestled on the coast of Scotland. Though it was once famous for the apples it produced, these days it’s a shadow of its former self. But in a hidden orchard a golden apple dangles from a silver bough, an apple believed lost for ever. The apple is part of a legend, promising either eternal happiness to the young couple who eat from it secure in their love – or a curse, for those who take its gift for granted.
Now, as the town teeters on the edge of decline, the old rituals have been forgotten and the mists are rolling in. And in the mist, something is stirring…
Trudi Canavan – Traitor Queen (Orbit)
Events are building to a climax in Sachaka as Lorkin returns from his exile with the Traitor rebels. The Traitor Queen has given Lorkin the huge task of brokering an alliance between his people and the Traitors. Lorkin has also had to become a feared black magician in order to harness the power of an entirely new kind of gemstone magic. This knowledge could transform the Guild of Magicians – or make Lorkin an outcast forever.
Rowena Cory Daniells – Exile (Solaris)
For over three hundred years the mystics have lived alongside the true-men, until King Charald lays siege to the mystic’s island city.
Imoshen, most powerful of the female mystics, is elected to negotiate with the true-man king. the male mystics still resent her, but she has an ally in Sorne, the half-blood, who was raised by true-men. even though he is vulnerable to her gifts, he gives Imoshen his loyalty. In return, she gives him the most dangerous of tasks, to spy for her.
She negotiates exile for her people. They must pack all their valuables, reach port and set sail by the first day of winter. But to do this, they have to cross a kingdom filled with true-men who are no longer bluffed by their gifts. Meanwhile, there are mystics living in the countryside, unaware that their people have been exiled.
King Charald announces any mystics who remain behind after they are exiled will be hunted down and executed.
Mary Gentle – Black Opera (Gollancz)
Conrad Scalese is a writer of librettos for operas in a world where music has immense power. In the Church, the sung mass can bring about actual miracles like healing the sick. Opera is musicodrama, the highest form of music combined with human emotion, and the results of the passion it engenders can be nothing short of magical.
In this world of miracles, Conrad is an atheist – he sees the same phenomena, but sees no need to attribute them to a Deity… until his first really successful opera gets the opera-house struck by the lightning bolt of God’s disapproval…
… And Conrad comes to the attention of the Prince’s Men, a powerful secret society, who are trying to use the magic of music to their own ends – in this case, an apocalyptic blood sacrifice.
Life is about to get interesting for Conrad.
Jim C. Hines – Libriomancer (DAW)
Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a member of the secret organization founded five centuries ago by Johannes Gutenberg. Libriomancers are gifted with the ability to magically reach into books and draw forth objects. When Isaac is attacked by vampires that leaked from the pages of books into our world, he barely manages to escape. To his horror he discovers that vampires have been attacking other magic-users as well, and Gutenberg has been kidnapped.
With the help of a motorcycle-riding dryad who packs a pair of oak cudgels, Isaac finds himself hunting the unknown dark power that has been manipulating humans and vampires alike. And his search will uncover dangerous secrets about Libriomancy, Gutenberg, and the history of magic. . . .
Mark Lawrence – King of Thorns (Harper Voyager)
The Broken Empire burns with the fires of a hundred battles as lords and petty kings battle for the all-throne. The long road to avenge the slaughter of his mother and brother has shown Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath the hidden hands behind this endless war. He saw the game and vowed to sweep the board. First though he must gather his own pieces, learn the rules of play, and discover how to break them.
A six nation army, twenty thousand strong, marches toward Jorg’s gates, led by a champion beloved of the people. Every decent man prays this shining hero will unite the empire and heal its wounds. Every omen says he will. Every good king knows to bend the knee in the face of overwhelming odds, if only to save their people and their lands. But King Jorg is not a good king.
Faced by an enemy many times his strength Jorg knows that he cannot win a fair fight. But playing fair was never part of Jorg’s game plan.
Lou Morgan – Blood and Feathers (Solaris)
“What’s the first thing you think of when I say ‘angel’?” asked Mallory.
Alice shrugged. “I don’t know… guns?”
Alice isn’t having the best of days: she got rained on, missed her bus, was late for work. When two angels arrive, claiming her life so far is a lie, it turns epic, grandscale worse.
The war between the angels and the Fallen is escalating; an age-old balance is tipping, and innocent civilians are getting caught in the cross-fire. the angels must act to restore the balance – or risk the Fallen taking control. Forever. Hunted by the Fallen and guided by Mallory – a disgraced angel with a drinking problem – alice will learn the truth about her own history… and why the angels want to send her to hell. What do the Fallen want from her? How does Mallory know so much about her past? What is it the angels are hiding – and can she trust either side? Caught between the power plays of the angels and lucifer himself, it isn’t just hell’s demons that Alice will have to defeat…
Jared Shurin & Anne C. Perry Eds. – Lost Souls (Pandemonium Fiction)
Lost Souls is a collection of forlorn and forgotten stories, carefully selected by the editors of the Pandemonium series.
The anthology brings together tales of woe and angst, loneliness, redemption and humour, featuring starving artists, possessed Popes, damned kings and hopeful prisoners. Lost Souls is an exploration of what it is that makes us human – and what happens when that’s stripped away.
You would think that everything would have settled down for Mags at the Collegium. After all, he had been there for half a year, and by now things should have sorted out into a routine.
But nothing is ever simple where the Collegia are concerned. Bear’s parents want him to “stop wasting the Healers’ Collegium’s time” and demand he return home. Lena’s father Bard Marchand, turns up, and sends her into a tailspin. The Foreseers have had a vision of the King covered in blood, and all the signs point to Mags being involved! He finally uncovers some scant information about his parents, and they are not what he thought they were. And old enemies have not given up….
(description taken from the author’s website)
Intrigues is book two of the Collegium Chronicles, in which we return to Mags, Lena and Bear. Where the prior book in this sequence, Foundation, was a classic coming-of-age story, this book continues Mags’ story of growing up, but mixes it up with a little mystery. This mystery, a vision – shared by priests of several different temples and some Foresighted Heralds implicating Mags in an attempt on the King’s life – is at the heart of the novel; much of the action deals with what the vision means and how Mags is involved. It’s also the catalyst for the increasing isolation Mags finds himself in, another large theme in the book. Lackey shows that isolation is a two-way street; it’s not just outsiders, other Heralds and at one point even his friends who shun Mags, but it is also Mags retreating into a safe shell containing just him and Dallen, avoiding contact with anyone else outside of classes and other required interactions.
Intrigues also clearly shows the downside of Gifts – they’re not always very clear or reliable – and, in addition, that having a Gift doesn’t mean you can’t be an idiot. One of the central tenets of the Heraldic Circle is that Companions are innately trustworthy and that by and large their judgement can always be trusted. This gets swept aside with talk of black Heralds and Companions and the old saw of Gala’s repudiating her Herald after he does something unspeakable as proof that Heralds can go rogue. You’d think that with such Mind Gifts as Mindspeaking and Empathy and the Truth Spell, it would easier to just check Mags over and clear him of any ill intent. Unfortunately, stubbornness and the ethics of using their Gifts keeps the Heralds from doing so, landing Mags deeper and deeper in the pit of isolation he’s found himself in. It leads him to take desperate steps, even going as far as to mirror Gala and giving up on his bond with Dallen, convinced that the Companion can just choose someone more worthy of the honour.
The one thing that keeps Mags from being totally isolated for a while is his Kirball team. Kirball is a new game the teachers have invented to give the Trainees more realistic battle practice and lessons in strategy, so they won’t have to send them out into hazardous situations without any experience. It’s a combination of polo and capture the flag and it’s really cool. the Kirball team provides a safe unit for Mags when the rumours first start and it’s nice to see his team mates sticking up for him and not letting him hide himself away in his room. The one problem I had with the Kirball plot line was that it reminded me fiercely of the Hurlee game from Exile’s Valor, which was a sort of Companion-backed (ice) hockey. Their functions are largely similar – giving the youngsters some battle training in a less dangerous environment than the battlefield – and their plot functions are wildly different, but still it niggled me.
One of my favourite elements from Foundation, the glimpses of Trainee life at the other Collegia, are again in clear evidence in Intrigues. I really enjoyed these and maybe we’ll see even more of these in the future. I also liked that both Lena’s and Bear’s stories feature problems with their families, as we usually haven’t seen these before in these coming-of-age tales as, apart from Vanyel (Last Herald Mage Trilogy) and Lavan Firestorm (Brightly Burning), they mostly feature orphans. Or, in the case of Elspeth (The Mage Winds Trilogy) and Blade and Tad (The Silver Gryphon), they feature royal (or near enough) offspring struggling to step out of their parents’ shadow and choosing their own path. So it’s nice to see such an integral part of growing up – standing on your own two feet and making your own choices, despite what your family thinks – as part of the narrative. More proof that they’re growing up is the fact that they start pairing off; not wanting to give anything away, I’ll leave you to find out the parings yourself, but for… yay Amily!
I loved that elements of Foundation returned to feature again in Intrigues, such as the mysterious foreigners and the mystery of Mags’ parentage. I also enjoyed the fact that Mags’ Gift becomes more important and it’s not about his ignorance as much any more. I think if it his ignorance would have been as important as it was in the first book, it would have become wearing, especially as Mags’ learning ability and adaptability keep getting praise from the adults so often. In all, Intrigues was a good second outing in the Collegium Chronicles, which I very much enjoyed. This series is very suitable to new readers of Valdemar novels, as it doesn’t require loads of background knowledge, but at the same time there are some easter eggs hidden in the story for hardcore fans – the physical description of the King, for example – which is fun when you discover them. I can’t wait to get my hands on Changes, once the paperback version of that hits the shelves later this year!
In this chronicle of the early history of Valdemar, a thirteen-year ¬old orphan named Magpie escapes a life of slavery in the gem mines when he is chosen by one of the magical companion horses of Valdemar to be trained as a herald. Thrust into the center of a legend in the making, Magpie discovers talents he never knew he had-and witnesses the founding of the great Heralds’ Collegium.
(Description taken from the author’s website http://www.mercedeslackey.com)
When Foundation was first released I was super excited. At the time it had been about five years since the last full Valdemar novel was published and I was so glad to return to one of my favourite universes, that I just tore through it. When I finally got my hands on Intrigues, the second part of the series this last December, I decided to reread Foundation, both to refresh the story in my mind and to be able to review the entire trilogy on the blog. And on second read, Foundation was just as enjoyable as it was the first time.
The story is classic Valdemaran Mercedes Lackey; we encounter a young protagonist, Mags, in dire circumstances and through being Chosen he’s brought to Haven to become a Herald. Here he’s seen as an outsider and strange and there are those who’d rather get rid of him, than embrace him as part of the Heraldic Circle. Yes, this is a story we’ve seen from Lackey before; it’s very reminiscent of Arrows of the Queen and To Take a Thief, but it is a story Lackey writes well and one that is relatively timeless in its appeal, as there will always be adolescents who can relate to such a story. And even though I am far past my adolescence, it still hasn’t lost its appeal on me either!
What sets Foundation apart from its predecessors is its setting and its cast of characters. Foundation is set around the time the Collegia, as we encounter them in most of the Valdemar novels, were constructed. We witness not just the reason for their founding, but also the opposition to them among the more conservative members of the Heraldic Circle. These developments are interesting to watch and deepen the lore of Valdemar we’ve already seen previously. In addition, the embryonic state of the Collegia also allows a natural mixing of Trainees of the different Circles and gives us a closer look at all of them though Mags’ closest friends Bear, a Healer Trainee, and Lena, a Bardic Trainee. I really enjoyed the widening of the narrative’s scope beyond just the Heraldic Circle and seeing more of not just Collegium life, but also of Haven life.
Mags is surrounded by a cool cast of characters. The most prominent of these are his Companion Dallen, his friends Bear and Lena and his Haven circle of friends, most importantly Lydia, the niece to a prominent Haven merchant and Amily, the daughter of the King’s Own Herald. I liked that Mags relationship with Dallen was one of equals, as it would have been very easy to just have Dallen be the fount of all wisdom for the incredibly ignorant Mags, even after Mags arrives at the Collegium and starts getting an education. Instead, Dallen seems as flustered by some events as Mags is which made their bond all the more believable. Lena and Bear are great windows onto the other Circles and a great way to see Mags cut his teeth on ‘normal’ social interactions with his peers, something he’d never encountered before arriving at Haven. The Heralds Mags meets are of all stripes and convictions. The one thing that puzzled me is that we never learn the name of the King. As the monarch is always named in previous Valdemar novels and in the timeline included in the front of the books they are usually subdivided by reign, this surprised me. But, to be honest it’s a fangirl’s complaint and has no impact whatsoever on the story itself.
With Foundation, Mercedes Lackey returned to her beloved Valdemar universe. It was a great return trip and, in my opinion, a nice place for new Valdemar readers to get started, as it’s representative of the author’s style and of the Valdemar universe itself without needed to know all the lore packed into previous series to understand the story and its details. So whether you’re already a fan of Mercedes Lackey or new to her writing, Foundation is a good place to start. And since this is an older book, the next two instalments of The Collegium Chronicles, Intrigues and Changes are already available and a fourth novel is in the works. I know I’m looking forward to reading Changes and the as yet untitled fourth novel. Look for a review of Intrigues in the next week.
Valdemar’s Heralds are an ancient order. Chosen from all across the land, from all walks of life, and at all ages, these unusual individuals are Gifted with abilities beyond those of normal men and women. They are Mindspeakers, FarSeers, Empaths, ForeSeers, Firestarters, FarSpeakers, and more. Trained to be emissaries, spies, judges, diplomats, scouts, counsellors, and even warriors, their unique inborn talents make them indispensable to their monarch and their realm. Sought and Chosen by mysterious horselike Companions, they are bonded for life to these telepathic, enigmatic creatures. With their Companions, the Heralds of Valdemar ride circuit throughout the kingdom protecting the peace and, when necessary, defending their land and monarch.
Another December, another Valdemar anthology. It’s become a bit of a tradition at my house that one of the books I get for Christmas is the new Valdemar anthology. And every year I spend an enjoyable day or two during my Christmas holiday visiting the world that got me hooked into fantasy for good. This year was no exception to the rule and it was a good visit to Velgarth. Lackey is my literary chocolate, my comfort reading and she never fails to disappoint in that respect.
Last year I was disappointed at the lack of new names among the contributing authors. And while the majority of this year’s authors are return contributors – half of which feature recurring characters – there are two new authors to this anthology series: Daniel Shull and Jennifer Brozek. While Shull was an unknown author to me – and I haven’t been able to find any more info on him, not even in the author bio’s in the back of the book – and Jennifer Brozek, who I had heard of before. Shull’s story A Healer’s Work, a look at the Healer’s life and the way magic’s return after The Mage Winds trilogy affects both Healers and Heralds, was very enjoyable and I hope to see more of his work in the future. Brozek’s Discordance focuses on Bardic Collegium’s occupants and how rejection can affect a teenager and cause him to use his talents to bad ends. I enjoyed this look at the other side of the coin. Most stories in these anthologies are about those who do get Chosen or are Gifted enough to either get into a Collegium or find another good purpose for their gift. Discordance and, to a lesser extent Lackey’s own Simple Gifts and Edghill and McCune’s Catch Fire, Draw Flame, deal with those who go rogue with their Gifts.
Surprisingly, this year there weren’t any complete duds for me—yes, some of the stories were more enjoyable than others to me, but there weren’t any stories that I actively disliked. I really enjoyed returning to some of the returning story settings. I absolutely love Kate Paulk and Sarah Hoyt’s Ree and Jem stories, so I was glad to get two more of them on this outing, Heart’s Peril and Heart’s Place, even though the latter made me a little sad. Ree and Jem are lovely characters, so much so, that I’d love to have a whole book about them! Other perennial favourites are Herald Jors and his Companion Gervais. In Tanya Huff’s Family Matters we get a lighter tale after last year’s tragic adventure. I loved Jors’ theatrical little cousin Annamarin and I left the story with a smile. Another fun return visit was that of the Dann family of Haven watchmen in The Watchmen’s Ball. I always enjoy Fiona Patton’s writing and I really like her tales about the Dann family. They’re a fun bunch and again it’s nice to have a tale from the perspective of regular people, not connected to any of the Collegia or the Court.
My favourite stories from a non-recurring setting were those by Elizabeth A. Vaughan, Kristin Schwengel and Ben Ohlander. Vaughan’s In an Instant, in which Selenay and Daren acknowledge their Lifebond, though very short, was poignant and packed a punch. I really loved this seemingly small, intimate moment, which in actuality is something that is life-changing, not just for Selenay and Daren, but their Companions as well. Schwengel’s Warp and Weft was awesome. It is a very cool look at post-Mage Storm Tayledras life and how they go about restoring the Pelagirs and how magic works after the Storms. Finally, Fog of War by Ben Ohlander really impressed me. I loved how this didn’t feature a Herald with a very powerful version of a know gift, but one who’s gift is rather numinous and who is very, very good at what he does. Plus it was a grittier, darker story than we usually see in the Valdemar universe, which was refreshing.
The titular story Under the Vale by Larry Dixon is less of a short story and more like a scientific essay describing the technical underpinnings of a Tayledras Vale. This was very informative to read and learn about and it makes me curious about all the notes and research Lackey and Dixon have lying around their office! I hope this will be a returning feature in the anthologies or that they would consider publishing these sorts of essays in a follow up to The Valdemar Companion.
Under The Vale is one of the better Valdemar anthologies so far. However, they are not for the casual reader; more and more they’ve become snacks for the dedicated Valdemar fan. As such, I really enjoyed it, but a casual reader would be better served by starting with one of the earlier trilogies, such as The Heralds of Valdemar series or the Last Herald Mage trilogy, or by starting with the first book of the current trilogy, Foundation.
An escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe discovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King’s road.
All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, is forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived… until Kvothe.
In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.
To say that The Wise Man’s Fear was one of the most anticipated books in the genre community this year is an understatement. The eagerness and amount of speculation on when the book would be done and would consequently released, reminded me of fans waiting for Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and GRRM-fans waiting for A Dance With Dragons (though less rabid). I was lucky to only read Name of the Wind for the first time last year, so my wait wasn’t as long. Still, I was very glad to finally read it.
Once I started the book, it took me a bit to get back into the story, because I was trying my best to remember all the details of the first book. Once I decided to just not wonder at what I didn’t remember, I slid right in. And I read the book over the course of six days during the work week, which for such a chihuahua-killer of a tome is really fast for me these days. I really liked it and it was so good to return to Kvothe’s world. As last time, I fell in love with Rothfuss’ prose and the cleverness of his wordsmithing. For example, the way Felurian often speaks in rhyme, whether standard end rhyme, alliteration, assonance or internal rhyme. It’s really clever and helps create her almost hypnotic effect on Kvothe. But for all that I loved The Wise Man’s Fear, there were also a few things that caused some problems with the book for me. But let me start off by talking about what I did like.
Discovering more of Kvothe’s world and the University was great. Exploring the Archives and returning to the Fishery and The Eolian was fun, especially the Archives. It might be a professional deformation, but I love reading about libraries and I loved the time we spent there this time. I couldn’t repress a shudder of sympathy for Wilem when he explains the problems of the different cataloguing systems due to the different masters and the resulting Dead Ledgers. At work some of the faculty libraries were moved into the main library building last year and they’re are still working on getting all the numbering systems switched over, I can just imagine how hard it would be to have to work with several different systems!
Seeing more of returning secondary characters, especially Elodin and Auri, and meeting new ones, was another pleasure, though I’m still hoping for Auri’s mystery to be solved. Elodin, while as enigmatic as ever, became less frightening and more human, especially in the scenes he and Kvothe shared with Auri. My favourite new characters were Bredon, Tempi and Vathas. Bredon’s urbane wit and easy acceptance and mentoring of Kvothe made me like him a lot. Tempi and Vathas are great characters and a good window into the Adem personality. Tempi since he’s the first one we meet and Vathas because she is able to translate between Aturan culture and Adem culture not just for Kvothe, but for the reader as well. The silent complexity of the Adem and the Adem language was fascinating and as a result I loved the time Kvothe spent at the Latantha school. To me the education he got there, was far more interesting and valuable than that Felurian gave him, though I realise the latter’s helped his reputation far more! It wasn’t just the martial skills the Adem taught him, but the need to be accepting of different viewpoints in the world. Not every society’s mores will be the same as your own and you have to respect that. For all his worldliness, Kvothe has some pretty strict notions of what is proper, with which he’s confronted living amongst the Adem.
Now onto the somewhat less glowing part of this review. Problem the first: at times, the story stalled quite a bit. Most noticeably during Kvothe’s stay with Felurian, but in Severen and Adem as well. Though, honestly, in the latter two cases this didn’t bother me as much as it did with the Felurian chapters. Every time we’d get to a point where it seemed now we’d be getting on with the story, something else happened to keep him in the Fae world even longer. And for some reason, beyond their stroll to create Kvothe’s shead and his little talk with the Ctaeh, I didn’t find this episode in his story very interesting. I mean, yes it’s nice that she teaches him how to please women, but after two scenes of that, I kind of get the picture already. That part was easily my least favourite of the book.
Problem the second: Denna. I mean I don’t dislike her, but come on already! She’s turning into a Molly or an Elene and, as mentioned before, I can’t stand those sorts of slavish, pre-destined love stories. It’s not just the endless pining, the will-they-or-won’t-they of it, it’s also that it makes Kvothe blind for other, perhaps more suitable love interests, such as Fela (though in that case I’m on Team Sim) and Devi. And I understand Denna is damaged and fragile and has a phobia of commitment and Kvothe has to step lightly around that, but she just makes me grit my teeth.
Problem the third and my biggest problem was a problem that arose mostly after finishing the book. Where is Rothfuss taking this? If you see how slowly the story moves, how on earth can he wrap it up in only one more book? If you see what Kvothe has done and learned in this book, and if you take into account what he still has to do, guessing from the story so far, I can’t see how Rothfuss can do all of that in one book. At least not in one that’s the same size as The Wise Man’s Fear and maintains the quality of the series. And of course, there’s the question of what will happen after. In the interludes it seems as if both Bast and Chronicler are trying to manoeuvre Kvothe towards something, some action, though it isn’t clear what. And if that is the case, will Rothfuss tell us that story in a new series? Or will it be left untold? There are so many question marks after this book. And we’ll have to wait for the publication of book three for the answers.
While The Wise Man’s Fear didn’t blow me away as much as Name of the Wind did, I truly enjoyed it and I am looking forward to seeing how the trilogy ends. Hopefully, I’ll be lucky again and it’ll take only another year for the last book to be published, but however long it takes, I’ll be there to discover the rest of Kvothe’s story.
Growing up in a Britain where the old ways are being supplanted by the influence of Christianity, Gwenhwyfar moves in a world where the old gods still walk among their pagan worshippers, where nebulous visions warn of future perils, and where there are two paths for a woman, the traditional path of the Blessing, or the rarer path of the Warrior.
Gwenhwyfar, the third daughter of a Celtic king, has always been the child most blessed with the power of the Goddess. But Gwen is spellbound by her father’s beautiful warhorses, and dreams of driving a war chariot for the glory of her father. encouraged by the king, who has no sons and loves the idea of one of his daughters becoming his most valued warrior, Gwen is allowed to learn some of the rudimentary ways of war. But as soon as Gwen begins this training, it becomes evident that the way of the warrior is the princess’ true fate.
Yet the daughter of a king is never truly free to follow her own calling and all is not well at the court of the High King Arthur. In an attempt to unify the Celtic tribes under his Christian dominion he seeks a wife from the lands of the far west.
When Gwenhwyfar is chosen, she bows to circumstances to become Arthur’s queen – only to find herself facing temptation and treachery, intrigue and betrayal, but also love and redemption.
When I found out Mercedes Lackey had a book out on the legendary Queen Guinevere, I was interested to see Lackey’s take on the Arthurian saga. Having had a period in my teens where I devoured Arthurian retellings and having taken a class on the literary Arthur at university, I have a weak spot for Arthuriana and to combine that with a book by one of my favourite authors seemed a guaranteed case of win. And it was a lovely read indeed. I like the angle she took. It is a very different approach from any I’ve read before and, as I said, I’ve read a lot of Arthur retellings. She even had me hoping for a happy ending, but of course that would have been too great a departure from the source matter. And to be honest, had she gone there, while it might have been emotionally satisfying at the time, it would have made me dislike the book after, so I am glad she didn’t change the ending.
I liked Lackey’s Gwen. She takes a different path, but is still honoured. She also accepts the consequences of her choice without too much whinging. Of course there is regret, especially when she finally meets someone who gets past her armour and is told that to (most) men she can either be a woman or a warrior, but she can’t be both. But after a tantrum and a bit of a rant, she just goes on with her life and doesn’t hang about pining. Gwen’s a character more in the vein of Boudicca than of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Ladies of the Lake. Her natural touch with horses and her aptitude for sword work mark as Blessed by Epona and of course match a lot of Lackey’s other heroines such as Kerowyn and Elspeth. That might be my only problem with Gwen as a character and at the same time be why I like her so much; she reminds me very much of some of my favourite Lackey characters, but I’m not certain whether it is not a case of too much or just enough.
Surprisingly, Arthur, Lancelin and the rest of his knights, except for Medraut, are kept mostly in the background. They are there and their actions influence events in the novel, but the story is wholly Gwen’s even after she goes off to Arthur’s court at about two-thirds into the novel. Yes, Arthur and Lancelin are catalysts and powerful characters plot wise, but Gwen’s world (and character) doesn’t revolve around them as is so often the case in Arthurian literature. In the same way, the Fae and the Otherworld play a role, but they are Gwen’s allies, not mystical and misty beings who in a deus-ex-machina manner save the day. I liked that, it made them separate from the old gods and the Christian god, instead of almost synonymous with the former. The approach to religion in this book is also classic Lackey. As it is put in her Valdemar novels ‘There is no one true way.’ and this also reflected in Gwen’s attitude towards the Christian priests and monks she encounters, she even has a discussion to that effect with Abbot Gildas. I found that interesting, as while this view is typical Lackey, it is also a view that I’ve seen before in Arthurian literature.
Gwenhwyfar is a true Lackey novel; it is a smooth read and she easily keeps you turning pages. But the author did manage to surprise me with her take on Guinevere. Lackey is one of my auto-buy authors, but even if you’re not a huge fan of her work, if you are interested in Arthuriana, Gwenhwyfar is worth reading for its originality.
… are an ancient order, drawn from all across the land, from all walks of life, and at all ages, these unusual individuals are Gifted with abilities beyond those of normal men and women. They are Mindspeakers, FarSeers, Empaths, ForeSeers, Firestarters, FarSpeakers, and more. Sought and Chosen by mysterious horselike Companions, they are bonded for life to these telepathic, enigmatic creatures. With their Companions, the Heralds of Valdemar ride circuit throughout the kingdom protecting the peace and, when necessary, defending their land and monarch.
Now, fifteen authors travel with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique gifts to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this well-loved fantasy realm.
I’ve been a huge fan of Mercedes Lackey’s work since I was fourteen, so writing an objective review was always going to be hard. So I thought I’d just come out and say it: I love Mercedes Lackey’s books; they are my literary chocolate, I can reread them time and again and no one is going to take them from me, so there! Well, now I’ve got that rather adolescent statement of my chest, here is a more mature, but probably equally fangirlish piece by me on why you should read Mercedes Lackey over on Fantasy Literature. All this being said, here’s my review for the latest Valdemar anthology Finding the Way, you can be the judge whether I’m succeeded in being objective!
For the past three years early December marks the publication of a Valdemar anthology (the previous three were published in 1997, 2003 and 2005 respectively) and Finding the Way is the latest in the series. And it’s at once one of the best and one of the more frustrating of the anthologies. To be honest however, the points that frustrated me most were mostly subjective and not tied to the writing itself, so it might not bother people not familiar with the other anthologies. The biggest niggle is that all the authors are returning contributors. There isn’t one new author in this bunch of stories. On the one hand, this makes it possible to have recurring characters – which is great – but on the other hand, exploring new authors through familiar universes is one of the attractive side benefits of these kinds of anthologies. And while having recurring characters and storylines is great fun, for a die-hard Valdemar fan it is also an opportunity lost to explore a new corner of Velgarth or something new and unique to the universe. The last thing that really bugged me was the fact that there were some continuity mistakes and typo’s that weren’t caught before printing. I know mistakes happen, but it was distracting, because my eye kept snagging on the typo’s and stopping me reading.
Any collection of stories will have duds and Finding the Way is no different. But, with only two stories out of the fifteen that really didn’t click for me, the number of disappointments is very small. The stories that didn’t work for me were Mickey Zucker Reichert’s The Education of Evita and Michael Z. Williamson and Gail Sander’s The Groom’s Price. Zucker Reichert has had stories in all six anthologies and her stories are always rather ‘hit or miss’ for me and this time it was a miss. I just found the titular character of Evita annoying and I couldn’t get past that. Williamson and Sanders’ story just didn’t do it for me, which was a shame because it was a Shina’in story and I’ve enjoyed Williamson’s previous contributions a lot.
While all other thirteen stories were highly enjoyable, my favourites were the titular story by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, Finding the Way, Elisabeth Waters’ A Charm of Finches, Kate Paulk’s Heart’s Choice and Sarah A. Hoyt’s Heart’s Own. The Lackey/Dixon story is a story about an Hertasi, the little lizard-like non-humans that live in the Pelagirs. They are one of my favourite non-human races in the Velgarth universe, so I enjoyed this closer look immensely. Waters’ A Charm of Finches is a continuation of last year’s A Storytelling of Crows and I adored this look at Gifted people not part of the Collegia. Paulk and Hoyt’s stories were both great new Jem and Ree stories. I love these two characters and it’s a unique view of life after the Mage Storms.
All in all, this was another fun addition to the Velgarth universe. I wouldn’t recommend it to people new to the Valdemar books; I’d recommend starting with either the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy or the Last Herald-Mage series, but for any Valdemar fan, this will be a must-read regardless of any flaws. Some of the stories will benefit from having read the previous ones, but most stand solidly on their own. I enjoyed this quick visit to Valdemar and I can’t wait to go back for a longer stay with Intrigues later this year.