Welcome to the third post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2014. Today I bring you both my science fiction and my horror picks. 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! Continue reading
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Welcome to the first post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2014. As usual I had so many fantasy books catch my fancy I had to split them into two posts. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
Welcome to the next post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. Like fantasy, there were too many books that caught my fancy for one post, so they’ve been split in two. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
Welcome to another post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2013. Today it’s time for my Science Fiction and Horror picks. 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! Continue reading
Welcome to the first post in my Anticipated Books series for the first half of 2014. As usual I had so many fantasy books catch my fancy I had to split them into two posts. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
Welcome to the first post in my Anticipated Books series for the second half of 2013. As usual I had so many fantasy books catch my fancy I had to split them into two posts. For some of these I already have an (e)ARC or review copy, so they’ll definitely be read and reviewed. And for the rest, I’ll have to see whether I get the chance to get my hands on them! Continue reading
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…
After the past two week’s posts on my Anticipated Books for Summer/Fall 2012, today I bring you my top 15 Most Anticipated Reads for Summer/Fall 2012. To keep it to 15, I decided to keep all the sequels to books I’ve reviewed on the blog this year, such as Chris F. Holm’s The Wrong Goodbye, David Tallerman’s Crown Thief and Chuck Wendig’s Mockingbird off this list, because you can take it as written that if I (very) favourably reviewed a book, I’d be interested in the next one. In addition, there were a few books that were already on my Anticipated Reads list for the first half of the year, whose publishing dates were pushed back, but I didn’t include them here, because obviously I’m still anticipating those! So below in alphabetical order by author is my list, with a little explanation of why I really can’t wait to read these books. Do you agree or would you have chosen differently from the previous weeks’ lists?
Jody Lynn Anderson – Tiger Lily (Fantasy, HarperTeen)
I love a good retelling of a classic story and Peter Pan is a childhood favourite, albeit in the Disney animated version. The choice to tell the tale from Tiger Lily is an interesting one and I’m curious to see how Anderson takes on the story of the Boy Who Never Grew Up.
Madeline Ashby – vN (Angry Robot)
My attention was first grabbed by that stunning cover and it was cemented by this short story that was posted as part of Angry Robots Twelve Days of Christmas last year. The premise of the self-replicating robots, the failing of the first law of Asimov and an internalised aggressive granny, is fascinating. I already have an ARC for this one waiting for me, so expect a review for this one within the month.
Cassandra Rose Clark – The Assassin’s Curse (Fantasy, Strange Chemistry)
One of the first outings for Angry Robot’s YA sister imprint Strange Chemistry, I was sure to read this one, but since reading the blurb and seeing the cover I’m really looking forward to this one. I’m loving the fact that there are more and more fantasy titles that have strong Middle Eastern influences and I’m interesting to see how they are incorporated into The Assassin’s Curse.
I recently read and loved Rowena Cory Daniells’ The King’s Bastard, so much so that I immediately ordered the other two books in the series. So I’m really looking forward to seeing whether Daniells’ second series is as good or better than her first. I have a review copy of Besieged on my To Read Pile, so expect a review for that one in a week or so!
Max Gladstone – Three Parts Dead (Tor)
Three Parts Dead sounds like an interesting new urban fantasy series with a cool heroine. I love courtroom TV shows and this book sounds like the urban fantasy, supernatural version of that. Also a dead god that needs to be resurrected? Count me in!
John Gwynne – Malice (Tor UK)
Traditional epic fantasy with Celtic/Roman roots? Coming of age story? Grand Destiny? Mystery, Machiavellian politics and adventure? This is the kind of book that could go either terribly wrong or terribly right. It’s got all the elements I love, but those are exactly the elements that could make it go wrong, as they are terribly overdone and it takes a special author to make something special of them. Then again, Julie Crisp is an editor whose judgement I respect, so I’m hoping this is one of those books that’ll be terribly right.
Anthony Hays – The Divine Sacrifice (Corvus)
Historical Arthurian crime fiction set at Glastonbury Abbey. That’s all that needs to be said really!
Jay Kristoff – Stormdancer (Tor UK)
Look at that cover, now look at this one. I’d say that Jay Kristoff has won the cover lottery twice. Apart from his stunning cover art, the blurb for Stormdancer is intriguing too. Again a non-western, medieval setting, with what looks to be a strong female protagonist and some interesting ‘monsters’ in the form of Griffins. I’ve had my eye on this one ever since I first heard of it last year and I really hope I can get my hands on this one sooner than later!
Mark Lawrence – King of Thorns (Harper Voyager)
One of last year’s most controversial debuts and one of my favourite books of last year was Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns. So it was a given that King of Thorns would be high on my wishlist. Hopefully I’ll be able to read this one soon as well, as I really want to see where Lawrence takes Jorg and how the latter develops now he’s no longer just the head of a small warrior band.
Barbara Lazar – The Pillow Book of the Flower Samurai (Headline)
Another book with a gorgeous cover, this one I’ve head my eye on since late last year when I first read its synopsis. Set in feudal Japan, this sounded amazing and then they gave it such a gorgeous cover to boot. I’m hoping this will be another of those fantastic historicals I’ve read this year.
Lou Morgan - Blood and Feathers (Solaris)
I’m going to sound shallow, but this another stunning cover. Plus ‘Alice in Wonderland goes to hell’ was bound to get my attention. With its sequel already announced by Solaris, this tale of war between Heaven and Hell, with an alcoholic angel in disgrace guiding our heroine has to be a winner. At least I truly hope it is. A review copy should be winging its way over to me, so hopefully I’ll be able to tell whether it is indeed a winner soon.
Tim Powers – Hide Me Among the Graves (Corvus)
Christina Rossetti was one of my favourite poets I had to study while at university and the Pre-Raphaelites have always fascinated me, so this historical novel with what seems to be a sort of supernatural twist has a subject that was bound to interest me. In addition, Tim Powers is a name I’ve often heard dropped as being one you should read, so I think this would be a good one to start with.
Andrew Swanston – The King’s Spy (Transworld)
English Civil War code breakers! Murder at the court! I’m in! Luckily, The King’s Spy is part of Transworld’s Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, which I’m taking part in, so look for a review of this one soon!
Doyce Testerman – Hidden Things (Harper Voyager)
The blurb for this one just grabbed me and comparisons to Neil Gaiman only helped to raise my interest. It sounds like an intriguing mystery and that cover is just lovely.
Brent Weeks – The Blinding Knife (Orbit)
I loved Brent Weeks’ Night Angel trilogy and the first book in his Lightbringer series, The Black Prism. After waiting two years we can finally find out what happens to Gavin and Kip after the events of the first book and I can’t find to discover what Weeks has in store for us in The Blinding Knife.
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.
Darkness wars with darkness as the hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must. They bury their doubts with their dead.
Then comes the prophecy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more…
The Chronicles of the Black Company is an omnibus edition of the first three Black Company novels, also known as the Books of the North. I originally picked up this book as Cook was mentioned as one of the big influences on Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen. And I can certainly see why Erikson admires him, as they share a ruthlessness towards both their characters and the reader. Neither of these authors coddles their reader and they expect her to keep up with the narrative without any hand-holding. The book is greyer than grey and whether you root for a character is more based on their sense of honour than their innate goodness.
I liked the set up of the trilogy. The first book, The Black Company, introduces us to its titular mercenary band and shows how they end up in the employ of the Lady and in the North. The second book, Shadows Linger, picks up a while after the first one ends and it shows us that there is something more evil stirring than the Lady. The third book, The White Rose, is set nine years after the second and shows the struggle of the Company, The White Rose and the Lady against the greatest threat they’ve ever faced. The ending leaves you sadder and wiser, but with hope that there’ll be more for our heroes.
Cook’s characters were amazing; they’re not the nicest of men, but Cook manages to make you genuinely care for them and even their big evil Overlady at times comes across as a nice human being. This sometimes makes it hard to understand her more evil ambitions. My favourite of the book had to be our narrator Croaker. He rocks, as do his closest companions. You sense their bond and when betrayal seems to strike, you feel their hurt as if it’s your own. And betrayal and loss are something the Black Company has to deal with on many occasions. Another absolute favourite was Raven, he’s mysterious and has a good heart and I really loved his roles in the book. But not just our ‘heroes’ are fantastic characters; the villains are well-drawn as well. The Taken are great villains and forces in the game.
The prose is not florid or polished, it does what it needs to do it gets the story across, but that fits the narrative perfectly. The same can be said of the world building. There is a lot of it in the book, with a big chunk of historical development as part of it. But the world building never takes centre stage; the focus always remains on the characters first and foremost. Cook also experiments with narrative styles in the three books that make up the Chronicles of the Black Company. The first book is a straight narrative, told in chapters that could have been short stories in a former life. The second one is one of switching storylines, between the Black Company and Raven and Darling in Juniper. The final book is interspersed with a historical narrative, which gives us a further explanation about what happened to set the Lady and the Taken loose. It was interesting to see an author use these different styles within a trilogy, while keeping his voice consistent.
Chronicles of the Black Company is a great read, though it took me a while to really immerse myself in the world. If you like Erikson, you need to read these books. If you haven’t read Erikson, but you like military fantasy, then you need to read these books as well! Just make sure you have the omnibus edition, because you’ll want to finish them one after another. There are three more omnibus volumes, which contain the Books of the South and the Glittering Stone quadrology and two new books were recently announced. So if you like the Chronicles of the Black Company, there are plenty of opportunities to return to the Company’s world.