Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Peter V. Brett and James Lovegrove reviewed at S/SFBR

The San Francisco Book Review posted two reviews I recently provided to them, so I'll provide you all, my millions....and MILLIONS of readers, with links to those reviews.

The first review I'll link is the one I read first, Brayan's Gold by Peter V. Brett:

The story has plausible character interactions, tense battles with multiple demons, and highlights of the themes of Brett’s novels–overcoming fear, doing what is right, and an overall sense of adventure. The book includes beautiful illustrations by Lauren K. Cannon who also provides a terrific cover.

The second review is a book I thought was a lot of fun, and one I enjoyed even more than I expected and I had fairly high hopes in the first place - The Age of Odin by James Lovegrove:

Lovegrove’s narrative makes no apologies for the over-the-top concept of the story, he takes it as seriously as possible, and tells a story that is gripping. In totality, Lovegrove has written a book that is difficult to put down. In some senses, the novel reads as a very high-octane masculine fantasy, but again, Lovegrove’s storytelling ability helps to gloss over any shortcomings. The novel is told in the first person and works very well to convey the protagonist’s thoughts and, of course, how Gid sees the Norse gods as real. Gid is not well-versed in Norse mythology so it takes a bit for him to fully guess at the gravity of his situation. Lovegrove injects humor into the story, mostly through Gid’s snarky comments.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-03-26)

Only two deliveries this week, resulting in the following four books.

Tattoo by Kirsten Imani Kasai (Del Rey Trade Paperback 07/26/2011) – Sequel to the author’s 2009 debut novel Ice Song

In an environmentally fragile world where human and animal genes combine, the rarest mutation of all—the Trader—can instantly switch genders. One such Trader—female Sorykah—is battling her male alter, Soryk, for dominance and the right to live a full life.

Sorykah has rescued her infant twins from mad Matuk the Collector. Her children are safe. Her journey, she believes, is over, but Matuk’s death has unleashed darker, more evil forces. Those forces—led by the Collector’s son—cast nets that stretch from the glittering capital of Neubonne to the murky depths below the frozen Sigue, where the ink of octameroons is harvested to make addictive, aphrodisiac tattoos. Bitter enemies trapped within a single skin, Sorykah and Soryk are soon drawn into a sinister web of death and deceit.

Dragongirl by Anne McCaffrey and Todd J. McCaffrey (Del Rey Hardcover 06/27/2011) – The latest and what seems to be the annual Pern novel sees Anne McCaffrey rejoin her son to tell a tale in the world she created.

For the first time in more than three years, bestselling authors Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey, mother and son, have teamed up again to do what they do best: add a fresh chapter to the most beloved science fiction series of all time, the Dragonriders of Pern.

Even though Lorana cured the plague that was killing the dragons of Pern, sacrificing her queen dragon in the process, the effects of the disease were so devastating that there are no longer enough dragons available to fight the fall of deadly Thread. And as the situation grows more dire, a pregnant Lorana decides that she must take drastic steps in the quest for help.

Meanwhile, back at Telgar Weyr, Weyrwoman Fiona, herself pregnant, and the harper Kindan must somehow keep morale from fading altogether in the face of the steadily mounting losses of dragons and their riders. But time weighs heavily against them—until Lorana finds a way to use time itself in their favor.

It’s a plan fraught with risk, however. For attempting time travel means tampering with the natural laws of the universe, which could drastically alter history—and destiny—forever. Or so it has always been thought. But Lorana discovers that if the laws of time can’t be broken without consequences, it may still be possible to bend them. To ensure the future of Pern, she’s willing to take the fateful chance—even if it demands another, even greater, sacrifice.

Nights of Villjamur (Book #2 of Legends of the Red Sun) by Mark Charan Newton (Bantam Spectra Trade Paperback 06/29/2011) – Second book in the sequence begun with Nights of Villjamur, which I reviewed for SFFWorld late last year. Mark suggests that this one can be read as a stand-alone and “if anyone was going to read just one book of mine, I’d like it to be this one.” Like Robert V.S. Redick’s forthcoming book, itself the third in his sequence, the publisher decided to switch format from Hardcover to Trade Paperback. Odd, that.

In the frozen north of a far-flung world lies Villiren, a city plagued by violent gangs and monstrous human/animal hybrids, stalked by a serial killer, and targeted by an otherworldly army. Brynd Lathraea has brought his elite Night Guard to help Villiren build a fighting force against the invaders. But success will mean dealing with the half-vampyre leader of the savage Bloods gang. Meanwhile, reptilian rumel investigator Rumex Jeryd has come seeking refuge from Villjamur’s vindictive emperor—only to find a city riddled with intolerance between species, indifference to a murderer’s reign of terror, and the powerful influence of criminals. As the enemy prepares to strike, and Villiren’s defenders turn on each other, three refugees—deposed empress Jamur Rika, her sister Eir, and the scholar Randur Estevu—approach the city. And with them they bring a last, desperate hope for survival . . . and a shocking revelation that will change everything.

Honeyed Words by J.A. Pitts (Trade Paperback 07/05/2011 Tor) – Sequel to Pitts’s debut novel, Black Blade Blues, which places Norse Mythology in the modern day.

Sarah Beauhall is a blacksmith, has a night job as a props manager for a low-budget movie, and spends her free time fighting in a medieval re-enactment group. Her world falls apart when she discovers that dragons are real and live among us as shapeshifters; in fact, it is they who have been the secret masters of our world from time immemorial. On top of all this, it appears that Sarah has managed to reforge an ancient sword that everyone suddenly wants... and those who don’t want the weapon want Sarah to take on her destiny and become humanity’s saviour.

As Sarah tries to make her way in this new world, she discovers just how little she knows of reality. Fairies and dwarves and giants abound, the fault line of the Pacific Northwest is rife with ancient Norse magic. Odin himself appears with ravens at his side and cryptic advice for the fledgling heroine. And the cherry on the sundae? The discovery that Sarah’s girlfriend is from a family that has been battling these forces for generations and they look to Sarah as their last best hope.

What’s a girl to do when the powers of the world decide that you’re responsible for cleaning up the magical mess?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sword in the Stars by Wayne Batson

Just one review this week at SFFWorld, at least so far, but it was a book that I really enjoyed. A book I enjoyed more than I expected to be quite honest, which is always a nice thing.

Sword in the Stars by Wayne Batson is the first book in his new Dark Sea Annals series, and the first book he's published aimed at an older crowd.

Below the cover shot is a snapshot of the review:

While Alastair is going though his trials of redemption, the Gorrack Nation is an ever threatening presence to the realm of Anglinore, ruled by King Morlan’s much more benevolent brother King Aravel. Aravel is cautious to trigger a protracted conflict against the Gorracks, but his brother Morlan all but begs for outright war. To say Morlan and Aravel compare a bit to Cain and Abel is understating their relationship. Morlan’s jealousy-bordering-on-hatred of his older brother, older by mere minutes much to Morlan’s consternation, fuels his entire story thread in Sword in the Stars, and is very much a fall to temptation and darkness in Biblical proportions. I thought this the strongest aspect of the novel, Batson managed to convey the anger and jealousy in Morlan very effectively so much so that while his reaction to the feelings may be difficult to empathize with, the feelings themselves are relatable to an extent. In particular, the scenes detailing Morlan’s interaction with the Satan figure in the story were powerful and believable.


There’s a lot Wayne put into this world that will be familiar to or resonate with seasoned readers of fantasy, but I appreciated the creative touches he put to everything that made it his own. A depth of history enriches the world of Myriad as do character types like Shepherds, cleric-like magical protectors; the (sometimes frustrating) winged-folk known as Windbourne; and the Sprite-like Willowfolk among other elements that are best discovered by the reader rather than revealed by this reviewer.

Also, a friendly reminder that KatG conducted an interview with Wayne and that further discussion with Wayne is ongoing in the thread at SFFWorld Kat started ‘announcing’ the interview.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-03-19)

Back to a big batch this week, with some really nice looking stuff from Night Shade Books

The Winds of Khalakovo (The Lays of Anuskaya Book One) by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Night Shade Books Trade Paperback 04/05/2011) – Beaulieu’s novel-writing career launches with this book, itself the first in a series. What a gorgeous cover, which looks to have a good story inside:

Among inhospitable and unforgiving seas stands Khalakovo, a mountainous archipelago of seven islands, its prominent eyrie stretching a thousand feet into the sky. Serviced by windships bearing goods and dignitaries, Khalakovo's eyrie stands at the crossroads of world trade. But all is not well in Khalakovo. Conflict has erupted between the ruling Landed, the indigenous Aramahn, and the fanatical Maharraht, and a wasting disease has grown rampant over the past decade. Now, Khalakovo is to play host to the Nine Dukes, a meeting which will weigh heavily upon Khalakovo's future.
When an elemental spirit attacks an incoming windship, murdering the Grand Duke and his retinue, Prince Nikandr, heir to the scepter of Khalakovo, is tasked with finding the child prodigy believed to be behind the summoning. However, Nikandr discovers that the boy is an autistic savant who may hold the key to lifting the blight that has been sweeping the islands. Can the Dukes, thirsty for revenge, be held at bay? Can Khalakovo be saved? The elusive answer drifts upon the Winds of Khalakovo...

Betrayer (Foreigner #12) by C. J. Cherryh (DAW Hardcover 05/04/2010) – If nothing else, Cherryh maintains an impressive schedule of output, this is the 12th in the series for which I received the 11th exactly a year ago.

The twelfth book in Hugo Award winner C.J. Cherryh's epic Foreigner series.

The civil war among the alien atevi has ended. Tabini-aiji, powerful ruler of the Western Association, along with Cajeiri his son and heir, and his human paidhi, Bren Cameron, have returned to the Bujavid, their seat of power.

But factions that remain loyal to the opposition are still present, and the danger these rebels pose is far from over.

A Matter of Time by Glen Cook (Night Shade Books Trade Paperback 04/05/2011) – As I’ve previously noted, Night Shade is continuing to do a superb job of reissuing Glen Cook’s backlist and keeping a solid “branding” to all of the books. Of special note to me on this book is the cover blurb, which is from my review of Cook’s Darkwar.

May 1975. St. Louis. In a snow-swept street, a cop finds the body of a man who died fifty years ago. It's still warm. July 1866, Lidice, Bohemia: A teenage girl calmly watches her parents die as another being takes control of her body. August 2058, Prague: Three political rebels flee in to the past, taking with them a terrible secret. As past, present, and future collide, one man holds the key to the puzzle. And if he doesn't fit it together, the world he knows will fall to pieces. It's just A Matter of Time!

The Crippled God (Malazan Book of the Fallen #10) by Mark Chadbourn (Tor Trade Paperback 03/01/2011) – As I said when I posted last week about this book hitting the NY Times Bestseller list: ‘I'm a few books behind in my reading of the series, but I do enjoy The Malazan Book of the Fallen a great deal. I received a note from Tor books telling me the following. Now I have the final three books, no excuses not to finish up the books right? Well, except for all these other books I keep receiving. Anyway, Owen reviewed the book a couple of weeks ago and liked it a lot

Savaged by the K’Chain Nah’Ruk, the Bonehunters march for Kolanse, where waits an unknown fate. Tormented by questions, the army totters on the edge of mutiny, but Adjunct Tavore will not relent. One final act remains, if it is in her power, if she can hold her army together, if the shaky allegiances she has forged can survive all that is to come. A woman with no gifts of magic, deemed plain, unprepossessing, displaying nothing to instill loyalty or confidence, Tavore Paran of House Paran means to challenge the gods – if her own troops don’t kill her first.

Awaiting Tavore and her allies are the Forkrul Assail, the final arbiters of humanity. Drawing upon an alien power terrible in its magnitude, they seek to cleanse the world, to annihilate every human, every civilization, in order to begin anew. They welcome the coming conflagration of slaughter, for it shall be of their own devising, and it pleases them to know that, in the midst of the enemies gathering against them, there shall be betrayal.

In the realm of Kurald Galain, home to the long lost city of Kharkanas, a mass of refugees stand upon the First Shore. Commanded by Yedan Derryg, the Watch, they await the breaching of Lightfall, and the coming of the Tiste Liosan. This is a war they cannot win, and they will die in the name of an empty city and a queen with no subjects.

Elsewhere, the three Elder Gods, Kilmandaros, Errastas and Sechul Lath, work to shatter the chains binding Korabas, the Otataral Dragon, from her eternal prison. Once freed, she will rise as a force of devastation, and against her no mortal can stand. At the Gates of Starvald Demelain, the Azath House sealing the portal is dying. Soon will come the Eleint, and once more, there will be dragons in the world.

Element Zero (Revivors #3) by James Knapp (Rpc Mass Market Paperback 04/02/2011) – The first in this series State of Decaypublished about a year ago and I finally caught up with it earlier this year and thought it pretty interesting..

Technologically reanimated corpses are frontline soldiers engaged in a neverending war. Agent Nico Wachalowski uncovered a conspiracy that allowed Samuel Fawkes, the scientist who created them, to control them beyond the grave. And now Fawkes has infected untold thousands with new technology, creating an undetectable army that will obey his every command-a living army that just might represent the future of humanity...

Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh Trade Paperback 04/19/2011 Night Shade Books) – Yet another interesting looking debut novel from Night Shade.

What happens when resources become scarce and society starts to crumble? As the competition for resources pulls America's previously stable society apart, the "New Normal" is a Soft Apocalypse. This is how our world ends; with a whimper instead of a bang.
New social structures and tribal connections spring up across America, as the previous social structures begin to dissolve. Soft apocalypse follows the journey across the South East of a tribe of formerly middle class Americans as they struggle to find a place for themselves and their children in a new, dangerous world that still carries the ghostly echoes of their previous lives.

The Shining City: (Book 3 of the Warriors of Estavia by Fiona Patton (DAQ Trade Paperback 04/05/2011) - The concluding volume in Patton’s trilogy:

"Expert world builder"* Fiona Patton concludes The Warriors of Estavia saga. *Midwest Book Review

With the three children of prophecy-the seers Spar and Graize, and the warrior Brax-now grown, and the young God Hisar ready to stake his claim to a place in the pantheon of Anavatan, a time of chaos and change is fast approaching. For only if sworn enemies Spar and Graize can come together as Hisar's priests will the God stand any chance of surviving the coming battles with both the hungry spirits seeking to devour him, and the war with the mortal invasion fleet, which is even now sailing for Anavatan.

Eureka: Road Less Traveled by Cris Ramsay (Ace, Mass Market Paperback 04/1/2011) – My wife and I are big fans of the show, but I haven’t read any of the novels based on the show, of which this is the third. Ramsay is the house name Ace is using for these books.

A Global Dynamics researcher has a breakthrough on her project visualizing another dimension. And since GD's experiments have a bad tendency to affect the entire town, Sheriff Jack Carter heads over to check it out. What he sees blows him away. The project has revealed a parallel universe, complete with another Eureka-one in which Carter doesn't exist! But as the two worlds begin to bleed into each other and residents confront their alternate selves, Carter may be the one man who can keep both Eurekas from being destroyed.

WWW: Wonder (WWW #3) by Robert J. Sawyer (Ace Hardcover 04/06/2010) – I read the first two in the trilogy (WWW: Wake and WWW: Watch); first book was good, second was good too, but a sense of padding began to creep into the narrative for me. Regardless, I’ll be reading this one to see how Sawyer resolves it:

"A writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation" (New York Times) concludes his mindbending trilogy.

Webmind-the vast consciousness that spontaneously emerged from the infrastructure of the World Wide Web-has proven its worth to humanity by aiding in everything from curing cancer to easing international tensions. But the brass at the Pentagon see Webmind as a threat that needs to be eliminated.

Caitlin Decter-the once-blind sixteen-year-old math genius who discovered, and bonded with, Webmind-wants desperately to protect her friend. And if she doesn't act, everything-Webmind included-may come crashing down.

Black Halo (The Aeons' Gate #2) by Sam Sykes (Pyr, Trade Paperback Paperback 03/22/2011) – Second novel in Sykes’ buzzworthy series.


...and the gates of hell remain closed. Lenk and his five companions set sail to bring the accursed relic away from the demonic reach of Ulbecetonth, the Kraken Queen. But after weeks at sea, tensions amidst the adventurers are rising. Their troubles are only beginning when their ship crashes upon an island made of the bones left behind from a war long dead.

And it appears that bloodthirsty alien warrior women, fanatical beasts from the deep, and heretic-hunting wizards are the least of their concerns. Haunted by their pasts, plagued by their gods, tormented by their own people, and gripped by madness personal and peculiar, their greatest foes may yet be themselves.

The reach of Ulbecetonth is longer than hell can hold.

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente (Tor, Hardcover 03/29/2011) – Valente is very prolific, having published over half-dozen novels in the past 5 years. This is her latest.

Koschei the Deathless is to Russian folklore what devils or wicked witches are to European culture: a menacing, evil figure; the villain of countless stories which have been passed on through story and text for generations. But Koschei has never before been seen through the eyes of Catherynne Valente, whose modernized and transformed take on the legend brings the action to modern times, spanning many of the great developments of Russian history in the twentieth century.

Deathless, however, is no dry, historical tome: it lights up like fire as the young Marya Morevna transforms from a clever child of the revolution, to Koschei’s beautiful bride, to his eventual undoing. Along the way there are Stalinist house elves, magical quests, secrecy and bureaucracy, and games of lust and power. All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mistborn: The Alloy of Steel

Completely knacked from Tor.com

Tor Books has just released lots of new details on Brandon Sanderson’s next work, Mistborn: The Alloy of Law, including the revelation of Chris McGrath’s steampunk-ish cover for the new title! (Oh, how we’re clamoring to get a peek at the manuscript....)

For those yet unaware, The Alloy of Law came about from a short story that Brandon Sanderson wrote last fall while taking a well-deserved break after writing The Gathering Storm, The Way of Kings, and Towers of Midnight. Of course, fantasy stories being what they are, what was a short story soon ballooned into a proper novel. (A novel that, funnily enough, takes Mistborn out of the epic fantasy genre it started within.) Sanderson still reportedly intends on crafting a follow-up trilogy to the original Mistborn trilogy after his current projects are completed.

A longer synopsis for The Allow of Law has emerged, as well.

The short synopsis (mild spoilers for the Mistborn trilogy):

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

The fourth Mistborn novel is currently set for release in November of this year in hardcover and ebook.

As soon as I saw mention of this book on Brandon Sanderson's blog last year, the book immediately climbed up my list of anticipated 2011 books. I like that the design of the hardcovers, in terms of border and fonts, is retained from the original trilogy and I can understand why Tor utilized Chris McGrath for the artwork, since he did the covers for the mass market paperbacks of the original trilogy. The art is good, but I *loved* Jon Foster's art on the original hardcovers.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hurley & Campbell reviewed, Batson Interviewed

Two reviews and an interview. First, we’ll start with the interview – Wayne Thomas Batson who was interviewed by KatG. I finished Wayne’s most recent book (Sword in the Stars which is also a subject of the interview) last week and will have the review posted next week.

I reviewed a debut (which is also the start of a trilogy) from Night Shade Books God’s War by Kameron Hurley:

With the ‘bugpunk’ aspect of the novel, two authors immediately came to mind. Adrian Tchaikovsky with his Shadows of the Apt series which features Insect Kinden and Steph Swainston’s much overlooked The Year of Our War. Hurley’s novel is a thicker mix of fantasy and science fiction, with ‘magicians’ on a war-torn distant planet and alien pirates.

The magic that fuels everything on the planet is bugs, and those who can manipulate the bugs to power the technology are the aforementioned magicians. The old Clarke-ism of “sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic” could really apply here. The Far Future setting peppered with fantasy tropes also reminded me a bit of Rosemary Kirstein’s Steerswoman novels. Another strong aspect of Hurley’s world-building/storytelling is the world of Umayama itself. Hurley’s playing with standard religions provides a different flavor, as Umayma the planet on which the action takes places was settled by Muslims. I also thought the Nyx’s ‘sisters’ and the whole power sects Hurley set up to be fleshed out nicely.

Readers in the UK are just now getting their first taste of The Lost Fleet Jack Campbell’s popular Military SF series, and the Hobbit Mark dove right into the first book Dauntless

So what we have here is good old traditional mil-space SF, with ships and fleets sailing and battling between worlds, like the old sea vessels of Earth. We have a military power structure based on Navy protocols and no doubt a universe that runs like the Star Trek Federation, albeit split between the two opposing ideologies of Capitalism and Communism through The Alliance and the Syndic.


The strengths of the book are that there is a military feel to them. It is also a book that tries to show how battle would be when dealing with near-FTL speeds – often it is predicting where things will be, the ‘real’ version not being seen for seconds or minutes later. On the scale we look at here battles are lost and won before people actually see the results with their own eyes. This is all done cleverly and logically, giving a realistic feel to otherwise difficult to visualise events.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-03-12)

A much smaller group of books compared to last week. On to the arrivals from DAW, Pyr, and Tor…

Dark Jenny (Eddie LaCrosse Mystery #3) by Alex Bledsoe (Tor, Trade Paperback 03/29/2011) – Third in Bledsoe’s popular series which is a mix of historical fantasy, mystery and fantasy:

Alex Bledsoe’s novels featuring detective Eddie LaCrosse have drawn rave reviews for their ingenious blend of classic fantasy and hard-boiled detective fiction. Now with Dark Jenny, Bledsoe returns with an all-new tale of intrigue and murder. . . .

For twenty-five gold pieces a day, plus expenses, Eddie LaCrosse will take on most any case. But the unexpected delivery of a coffin in the dead of winter forces LaCrosse to look back at a bygone chapter in his past—and the premeditated murder of a dream.

Ruled by the noble King Marcus Drake, the island kingdom of Grand Braun is an oasis of peace and justice in an imperfect world. At least until the beautiful Queen Jennifer is accused of adultery and murder. In the wrong castle at the wrong time, Eddie finds himself drafted at sword’s point to solve the mystery. With time running out, and powerful nobles all too eager to pin the murder on Eddie himself, he must untangle a tangled web of palace intrigues, buried secrets, and bewitching women—before the entire kingdom erupts into civil war.

Murder, mystery, and magic—just another day on the job for Eddie LaCrosse.

The Scar-Crow Men (A Swords of Albion Book 2) by Mark Chadbourn (Pyr 02/22/2011) – Both The Hobbit Mark and I enjoyed the first novel in the series, The Silver Skull /Sword of Albion, though Mark a bit more than me. :

The year is 1593. The London of Elizabeth I is in the terrible grip of the Black Death. As thousands die from the plague and the queen hides behind the walls of her palace, English spies are being murdered across the city. The killer's next target: Will Swyfte.

For Swyfte—adventurer, rake, scholar, and spy—this is the darkest time he has known. His mentor, the grand old spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham, is dead. The new head of the secret service is more concerned about his own advancement than defending the nation, and a rival faction at the court has established its own network of spies. Plots are everywhere, and no one can be trusted. Meanwhile, England's greatest enemy, the haunted Unseelie Court, prepares to make its move.

A dark, bloody scheme, years in the making, is about to be realized. The endgame begins on the night of the first performance of Dr. Faustus, the new play by Swyfte's close friend and fellow spy Christopher Marlowe. A devil is conjured in the middle of the crowded theater, taking the form of Will Swyfte's long-lost love, Jenny—and it has a horrifying message for him alone.

That night Marlowe is murdered, and Swyfte embarks on a personal and brutal crusade for vengeance. Friendless, with enemies on every side and a devil at his back, the spy may find that even his vaunted skills are no match for the supernatural powers arrayed against him.

Deceiver (Foreigner #11) by C. J. Cherryh (DAW Hardcover 05/04/2010) – If nothing else, Cherryh maintains an impressive schedule of output, this is the 11th in the series for which I received the 10th exactly a year ago.

The civil war among the alien Atevi has ended. Tabini-aiji, powerful ruler of the Western Association, along with Cajeiri, his son and heir, has returned to the Bujavid, his seat of power. But factions that remain loyal to the opposition are still present, and the danger these rebels pose is far from over.

Out of the Waters (Books of the Elements #2) by David Drake (Tor, Hardcover 07/19/2011) – Drake is a giant in Military themed fantasy and science fiction. This is the second book in “a series of four fantasy novels set in a city and empire named Carce, which very similar to that of Rome in 30 AD.” Drake mixes myth and magic with history

The second novel of The Books of the Elements.

The wealthy Governor Saxa, of the great city of Carce, has generously and lavishly subsidized a theatrical/religious event. During this elaborate staging of Hercules founding a city on the shores of Lusitania, strange and dark magic turns the panoply into a chilling event. The sky darkens and the waves crash in the flooded arena. A great creature rises from the sea: a huge, tentacled horror on snake legs. It devastates the city, much to the delight of the crowd. A few in the audience, although not Saxa, understand that this was not mere stagecraft, but something much darker and more dangerous. If all signs are being read right, this illusion could signify a dreadful intrusion of supernatural powers into the real world. Saxa’s son, Varus, has been the conduit for such an event once before.

This new novel in David Drake’s chronicles of Carce, The Books of the Elements, is as powerful and elaborate as that fantastic theatrical event, a major fantasy for this year.

A Magic of Dawn (The Nessantico Cycle Book Three) by S.L. Farrell (DAW Hardcover 3/23/2010)– This is the third and final book in Farrell’s acclaimed trilogy, the first of which, A Magic of Twilight, was the February 2010 Book of the Month in SFFWorld’s Fantasy Book Club:

The last chapter in the epic "richly imagined world (New York Times bestselling author George R.R. Martin)" of The Nessantico Cycle

Kraljica Allesandra sits on the Sun Throne of a much-diminished Holdings empire, while her son Jan rules the rival Coalition of Firenzcia. The schism between them threatens to tear apart the realm when they need solidarity the most. Facing powerful threats, from the rising influence of the Numetodo sect to the fundamentalist preacher Nico Morel-as well as the army of Tehuantin from across the sea- Allesandra and Jan must each find a pathway to survival for themselves and their people.

Burton & Swineburne in The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man by Mark Hodder (Pyr, Trade Paperback 03/51/2011) – I read and enjoyed the first in this series, which was a lot of fun. This looks to take things in an even more fantastical direction.

It is 1862, though not the 1862 it should be...

Time has been altered, and Sir Richard Francis Burton, the king's agent, is one of the few people who know that the world is now careening along a very different course from that which Destiny intended.

When a clockwork-powered man of brass is found abandoned in Trafalgar Square, Burton and his assistant, the wayward poet Algernon Swinburne, find themselves on the trail of the stolen Garnier Collection—black diamonds rumored to be fragments of the Lemurian Eye of Naga, a meteorite that fell to Earth in prehistoric times.

His investigation leads to involvement with the media sensation of the age: the Tichborne Claimant, a man who insists that he's the long lost heir to the cursed Tichborne estate. Monstrous, bloated, and monosyllabic, he's not the aristocratic Sir Roger Tichborne known to everyone, yet the working classes come out in force to support him. They are soon rioting through the streets of London, as mysterious steam wraiths incite all-out class warfare.

From a haunted mansion to the Bedlam madhouse, from South America to Australia, from séances to a secret labyrinth, Burton struggles with shadowy opponents and his own inner demons, meeting along the way the philosopher Herbert Spencer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Florence Nightingale, and Charles Doyle (father of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).

Can the king's agent expose a plot that threatens to rip the British Empire apart, leading to an international conflict the like of which the world has never seen? And what part does the clockwork man have to play?

Burton and Swinburne's second adventure—The Clockwork Man Of Trafalgar Square—is filled with eccentric steam-driven technology, grotesque characters, and a deepening mystery that pushes forward the three-volume story arc begun in The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack.

Alien in the Family (Kitty Kat: Alien Super-Being Exterminator Book 3) by Gini Koch (DAW Mass Market Paperback 4/5/2011) – Planetary Romance with an alien exterminator as the protagonist.

Super-Being Exterminator Kitty Katt and the Alpha Centaurian she loves, Jeff Martini, should be finalizing their wedding plans. But that was before she discovers Jeff is in line to become Emperor back on his home world. Kitty knows she is everything a royal family wouldn't approve of, and is bracing herself for the worst. As it turns out, the royal family is just the beginning. Especially when extraterrestrial Amazonian terrorists are determined to start and end Kitty and Jeff's nuptial festivities with a bang.

Lady-Protector (Corean Chronicles Book 8) by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. (Tor, Hardcover 03/15/2011) – The writing machine using the name “L.E. Modesitt, Jr.” releases another book, the first of many for 2011.

A new novel of Mykella, the young woman introduced in The Lord-Protector’s Daughter. Though a bloody coup has made Mykella ruler of her land, it has left her and her two sisters bereft of family and uncertain of their friends. Worse, an examination of the nation’s accounts reveals that their country is almost destitute. Plus, there are rumblings of war along the borders. With no money and few allies, Mykella is faced with the difficult prospect of rebuilding her nation while trying to hold off a potentially devastating invasion.

Fortunately for Mykella, an old magic has awakened in her; a power that gives her the ability to read the emotions of others and to spy on the movements of her enemies. But the resurgence of this power might herald the return of an ancient enemy, one that Mykella isn’t sure how to face.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. returns to the world of The Corean Chronicles with a novel filled with politics, adventure, magic, and romance.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Wise Man's Fear #1 on NY Times Bestseller List

Via DAW's twitter, The Wise Man's Fear will be debuting on the NY Times Bestseller list at #1, likely for the March 20th list. A very impressive feat for any author's second novel, let alone a fantasy author. Congratulations to Patrick Rothfuss and the fine folks at DAW. Between this, Erikson finally reaching the main list, The Game of Thrones HBO show in a little over a month and the bound-to-be #1 NY Times Bestseller A Dance with Dragons, 2011 is turning out to be a very good year for fantasy breaking into the 'mainstream' beyond Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Erikson Cracks NY Times Bestseller List

I'm a few books behind in my reading of the series, but I do enjoy The Malazan Book of the Fallen a great deal. I received a note from Tor books telling me the following:

The Crippled God, the tenth and final novel in his long-running Malazan Book of the Fallen series, will debut (at #12) on the printed bestseller list in the March 20, 2011 edition of the New York Times. It's been a long, LONG time coming, and couldn't happen to a more deserving author.

Steven's first novel, Gardens of the Moon, came out in 1999 to much fanfare…and flopped. We spent the next ten years and eight novels telling everybody and anybody who would listen that this was THE fantasy series to be reading, the best that no one knew about. The depth and breadth of its world, characters and cultures, its heartbreaking yet addictive story, and the level of pathos and philosophy embedded into every narrative layer is staggering. Erikson's core fans knew; so many of our top-selling authors kept telling us, he's the guy who deserves it more; yet it was on us to convince everyone else.

Then last fall, Steven's ninth novel, Dust of Dreams, finally squeaked its way onto the NYT extended bestseller list, claiming the last spot at #35…and it was just this afternoon that we learned that the tenth and final novel in his Magnus opus will get the due he so richly deserves.

So congratulations to Steven Erikson; congratulations to Eric Raab, Steven's editor here in the states; and congratulations to the thousands of hardcore Malaz fans, who were right all along, and kept telling us and everyone else!!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss Review at SFFWorld

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss is one of the most anticipated fantasy novels in recent years not written by George R.R. Martin or Robert Jordan.

Some would even argue the level of anticipation for the book is more than the next book by those two writers. Although I would have preferred he review to be posted last week upon (or even before) the true publication date of the book, reading the book proved a longer experience than I expected - I didn't want the book to end.

So, I’ve finally put together my review of The Wise Man’s Fear and posted it up ast SFFWorld. Below the cover shot (which I’m sure nobody who reads my blog has ever seen) is a snapshot of the review:

Suffice it to say, any summary of a Rothfuss novel does absolutely no justice to the actual novel itself. Rothfuss really had no room for improvement from the last book, in terms of his powerfully addictive narrative abilities, but he may have just upped his ante a bit in Wise Mans Fear. The themes and focus of his story from the previous volume has been carried over to the second volume – that of Kvothe’s search for the Chandrian and the sheer power of story. If anything, the power of story is both elevated and demystified in The Wise Man’s Fear – elevated in that more stories within stories are told and demystified in that stories truly are alive and can change over time.

Once Kvothe returns to the non-Fae world and to the Maer to report his success, his fiery attitude nearly destroy him as it had almost done in the past. Though Kvothe returns to the University after his time with the Maer in a much better financial situation than before, the trip didn’t quite accomplish everything he’d hoped it would. By novel's end, Kvothe’s recounting to Chronicler has him back at University. At his inn, the threat of encroaching war and a reawakening of something powerful loom over the narrative as a whole. Rothfuss left this reader wanting for more, hungry to consume the remainder of the story.

So, where does all of that leave this reader’s opinion of the novel? It is difficult to view this novel outside of the delays and expectations heaped upon it. That said, does it live up to the hype and anticipation? In many ways, yes it does. It delivered just what I’d hoped it would – the continuing saga of Kvothe the Bloodless in a way that made it difficult for me close the book at night. In many ways, it was better than I hoped it would be, the places Rothfuss took Kvothe were exciting, quite enjoyable and at times, surprising.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-03-05)

With such an enormous week of book arrivals this week, I might as well drop in the semi-regular disclaimer about these Books in the Mail posts:

As a reviewer for SFFWorld and maybe because of this blog, I receive a lot of books for review from various publishers. Since I can't possibly read everything that arrives, I figure the least I can do (like some of my fellow bloggers) is mention the books I receive for review on the blog to at least acknowledge the books even if I don't read them.

Sometimes I get one or two books, other weeks I'll get nearly a dozen books. Some weeks, I’ll receive a finished (i.e. the version people see on bookshelves) copy of a book for which I received an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) weeks or months prior to the actual publication of the book. Sometimes I'll want to read everything that arrives, other weeks, the books immediately go into the "I'll never read this book" pile, while still others go into the nebulous "maybe-I'll-read-it-category." More often than not, it is a mix of books that appeal to me at different levels.

Chime by Franny Billingsley (Dial Books for Young Readers, Hardcover 03/17/2011) – This is the latest novel, about a girl who think she’s a witch, from award-winning author Billingsly.

Briony has a secret. She believes her secret killed her stepmother, destroyed her twin sister’s mind, and threatens all the children in the Swampsea. She yearns to be rid of her terrible secret, but risks being hanged if she tells a soul. That’s what happens to witches: They’re hanged by the neck until dead.

Then Eldric arrives—Eldric with his golden mane and lion eyes and electric energy—and he refuses to believe anything dark about Briony. But he wonders what’s been buried beneath her self-hatred, hidden in Rose’s mangled thoughts, and whispered about by the Old Ones. And Briony wonders how Eldric can make her want to cry.

Especially when everyone knows that witches can’t cry.

A wild, haunting mystery and romance that is as beautifully written as it is captivating.

The Paradise Prophecy by Robert Browne (Dutton, Hardcover 07/21/2011) – Dutton is really aiming for the Dan Brown crowd with this one.

A spectacular thriller inspired by John Milton's Paradise Lost in which the final chapter of the War in Heaven is about to play out on Earth, with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance. The Myth

When God cast the archangel Satan into Hell, ending the War in Heaven, peace prevailed on Earth. Until the fallen angels took revenge in the Garden of Eden. Ever since, mankind has been in a struggle between good and evil, paradise and apocalypse: the fall of Rome, The Crusades, World Wars, nuclear proliferation, the Middle East Crisis... The War in Heaven never really ended-it just changed venues. For millennia, God's angels have been fighting Satan's demons on Earth, all in hopes of bringing about Satan's greatest ambition, the Apocalypse.

The Reality

Satan has never been closer to his goal than right now.

Agent Bernadette Callahan is a talented investigator at a shadowy government organization known only as Section, on the trail of a serial killer with nearly supernatural abilities. Sebastian "Batty" LaLaurie is a religious historian who knows far too much about the other side- and that hard-earned knowledge is exactly what Callahan needs. This unlikely duo pair up for a race across the globe, decoding clues left in ancient texts from the Bible to Paradise Lost and beyond. In the process they stumble upon a vast conspiracy-one beyond the scope of mankind's darkest imagination.

The Dark City (Relic Master Book 1) by Catherine Fisher (Dial Books for Young Readers, Hardcover 05/7/2011) – First in a YA fantasy series which originally published in the UK. The publisher is backing this one big time, based on the packages I’ve received for the book

Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters—some human, some not—that also want the relic's power and will stop at nothing to get it.

Seduce Me in Dreams (Three Worlds Series #1) by Jacquelyn Frank (Ballantine, Mass Market Paperback 03/25/2011) – First in a new series that seems to be a military science fiction interplanetary romance.

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Nightwalkers and Shadowdwellers series, Seduce Me in Dreams begins a sexy new futuristic series featuring an elite group of military heroes.

Dark. Mysterious. Sensual. When Bronse Chapel, the commander of a specialized unit of the Interplanetary Militia, begins to dream about a beautiful and exotic brunette, he wants to dismiss it as being induced by lack of sleep . . . or perhaps lack of sex. But his instincts tell him it’s something different, something far more dangerous.

Ravenna is the leader of the Chosen Ones, a small group of people from her village born with extraordinary powers. She doesn’t know that draws her to Bronse’s dreams night after night, but she senses that he and his team are in jeopardy. Ravenna can help him, but first Bronse must save the Chosen Ones from those who plan to use their powers for evil. Together, Bronse and Ravenna will be unstoppable. But Ravenna is hiding something that could endanger them all.

Hidden Cities (Moishu, the Books of Stone and Water #3) by Daniel Fox Trade Paperback 03/25/2011 Del Rey) – Final book in a trilogy about mythic China. This is the published version of the ARC I received earlier in the year.

The mythic beasts and glorious legends of feudal China illuminate a world at war in this, the conclusion to Daniel Fox’s critically acclaimed series.

Whatever they thought, this was always where they were going: to the belly of the dragon, or the belly of the sea.

More by chance than good judgment, the young emperor has won his first battle. The rebels have retreated from the coastal city of Santung—but they’ll be back. Distracted by his pregnant concubine, the emperor sends a distrusted aide, Ping Wen, to govern Santung in his place. There, the treacherous general will discover the healer Tien, who is obsessed with a library of sacred mage texts and the secrets concealed within—secrets upon which, Ping Wen quickly realizes, the fate of the whole war may turn.

As all sides of this seething conflict prepare for more butchery, a miner of magical jade, himself invulnerable, desperately tries to save his beautiful and yet brutally scarred clan cousin; a priestess loses her children, who are taken as pawns in a contest beyond her comprehension; and a fierce and powerful woman commits an act of violence that will entwine her, body and soul, with the spirit of jade itself. Amid a horde of soldiers, torturers, and runaways, these people will test both their human and mystical powers against a violent world. But one force trumps all: the huge, hungry, wrathful dragon.

Eona: The Last Dragoneye by Alison Goodman (Viking, Hardcover 04/19/2011) – Sequel to Eon (aka Two Pearls of Wisdon in Australia) which Bride at SFFWorld enjoyed.

Once she was Eon, a girl disguised as a boy, risking her life for the chance to become a Dragoneye apprentice. Now she is Eona, the Mirror Dragoneye, her country’s savior — but she has an even more dangerous secret.

She cannot control her power.

Each time she tries to bond with her Mirror Dragon, she becomes a conduit for the ten spirit dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered by Lord Ido. Their anguish floods through her, twisting her ability into a force that destroys the land and its people.

And another force of destruction is on her trail.

Along with Ryko and Lady Dela, Eona is on the run from High Lord Sethon’s army. Sethon has declared himself Emperor. In order to stop him, the renegades must find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona’s power if he is to wrest back his throne.

Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama, thrilling fight scenes, sizzling tension — and many surprises — brings to a close an epic story.

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Decieved by Paul S. Kemp (Del Rey, Hardcover 03/25/2011) – I enjoyed Kemp’s Erevis Cale novels, he seems to be doing very well with Star Wars now..

The Sacking of Coruscant. It was the crowning achievement of the Sith Empire’s ambitious military strategy and the moment that changed the history of the Old Republic forever. You may have read about it before, but our first cinematic trailer captures this event with breathtaking action and beautiful detail.

Republic leaders have traveled to Alderaan to engage in promised peace talks with the Sith Empire. The most powerful Jedi have accompanied them to safeguard against an Imperial deception. The Empire’s real motive, however, was simply to lure the Republic’s strongest defenders away from Coruscant and set the stage for an audacious attack. Under the command of Lord Angral, the Sith fleet approaches the Republic’s capital planet for the first time in centuries. In advance of the fleet, the strongest Sith Warriors have flown a stolen Republic ship into Coruscant’s orbit. Their mission is critical – to destroy the planet’s defense grid mainframe hidden in the heart of the Jedi Temple.

Night Magic (Wing Slayer #3) by Jennifer Lyon (Ballantine, Mass Market Paperback 03/25/2011) – Third in a series about witches who have lost their magic.


Ailish Donovan is a witch ready to do battle. Raised unaware of her powers, she is just sixteen when her mother tricks her into binding with the demon Asmodeus. Pure-hearted Ailish escapes with the connection incomplete but pays a heavy price: For the next eight years, she is shunned by her earth sisters and tormented by Asmodeus’s lust. After hardening her body and mind as a champion kickboxer, Ailish returns home to break the bond—or die.

The Wing Slayer Hunter Phoenix Torq is sworn to protect earth witches, but he is shaken by Ailish’s fierce independence—and his own forbidden cravings. Dark, impulsive, and haunted by his troubled past, Phoenix likewise arouses Ailish in ways she finds disturbing—and irresistible. Torn between mistrust and desire, each must go to hell and back to seek the magic that could set them both free.

Kraken by China Miéville (Del Rey Trade Paperback 03/15/2011) – This is Miéville’s obligatory squid novel, which Mark / Hobbit enjoyed a great deal. This would be the third version of the book I received (after the ARC and Hardcover).

With this outrageous new novel, China Miéville has written one of the strangest, funniest, and flat-out scariest books you will read this—or any other—year. The London that comes to life in Kraken is a weird metropolis awash in secret currents of myth and magic, where criminals, police, cultists, and wizards are locked in a war to bring about—or prevent—the End of All Things.

In the Darwin Centre at London’s Natural History Museum, Billy Harrow, a cephalopod specialist, is conducting a tour whose climax is meant to be the Centre’s prize specimen of a rare Architeuthis dux—better known as the Giant Squid. But Billy’s tour takes an unexpected turn when the squid suddenly and impossibly vanishes into thin air.

As Billy soon discovers, this is the precipitating act in a struggle to the death between mysterious but powerful forces in a London whose existence he has been blissfully ignorant of until now, a city whose denizens—human and otherwise—are adept in magic and murder.

There is the Congregation of God Kraken, a sect of squid worshippers whose roots go back to the dawn of humanity—and beyond. There is the criminal mastermind known as the Tattoo, a merciless maniac inked onto the flesh of a hapless victim. There is the FSRC—the Fundamentalist and Sect-Related Crime Unit—a branch of London’s finest that fights sorcery

with sorcery. There is Wati, a spirit from ancient Egypt who leads a ragtag union of magical familiars. There are the Londonmancers, who read the future in the city’s entrails. There is Grisamentum, London’s greatest wizard, whose shadow lingers long after his death. And then there is Goss and Subby, an ageless old man and a cretinous boy who, together, constitute a terrifying—yet darkly charismatic—demonic duo.

All of them—and others—are in pursuit of Billy, who inadvertently holds the key to the missing squid, an embryonic god whose powers, properly harnessed, can destroy all that is, was, and ever shall be.

Kings of the North (Book Two of Paladin’s Legacy ) by Elizabeth Moon (Del Rey Hardcover 03/12/2011) – Last year, when I read Oath of Fealty it was the first book I read by Mrs. Moon and I quickly became a fan. Mark and I also interviewed her for SFFWorld last year.

Elizabeth Moon returns to the fantasy world of the paladin Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter—Paks for short—in this second volume of a new series filled with all the bold imaginative flights, meticulous world-building, realistic military action, and deft characterization that readers have come to expect from this award-winning author. In Kings of the North, Moon is working at the very height of her storytelling powers.

Peace and order have been restored to the kingdoms of Tsaia and Lyonya, thanks to the crowning of two kings: Mikeli of Tsaia and, in Lyonya, Kieri Phelan, a mercenary captain whose royal blood and half-elven heritage are resented by elves and humans alike.

On the surface, all is hope and promise. But underneath, trouble is brewing. Mikeli cannot sit safely on his throne as long as remnants of the evil Verrakaien magelords are at large. Kieri is being hounded to marry and provide the kingdom with an heir—but that is the least of his concerns. A strange rift has developed between him and his grandmother and co-ruler, the immortal elven queen known as the Lady. More problematic is the ex-pirate Alured, who schemes to seize Kieri’s throne for himself—and Mikeli’s, too, while he’s at it. Meanwhile, to the north, the aggressive kingdom of Pargun seems poised to invade.

Now, as war threatens to erupt from without and within, the two kings are dangerously divided. Old alliances and the bonds of friendship are about to be tested as never before. And a shocking discovery will change everything.

The River of Shadows (The Chathrand Voyage Book 3) by Robert V.S. Redick (Del Rey Hardcover 4/19/2011) – This series seems t be flying under the radar – the reviews and response from readers I’ve seen is very good. Makes me wonder why the publisher is switching format in mid-series to trade paperback for the third book.

In the gripping sequel to Robert V. S. Redick’s acclaimed epic fantasy novels The Red Wolf Conspiracy and The Ruling Sea, the crew of the vast, ancient ship Chathrand have reached the shores of the legendary southern empire of Bali Adro. Many have died in the crossing, and the alliance of rebels, led by the tarboy Pazel Pathkendle and the warrior Thasha Isiq, has faced death, betrayal, and darkest magic. But nothing has prepared them for the radically altered face of humanity in the South.

They have little time to recover from the shock, however. For with landfall, the battle between the rebels and centuries-old sorcerer Arunis enters its final phase. At stake is control of the Nilstone, a cursed relic that promises unlimited power to whoever unlocks the secrets of its use—but death to those who fail. And no one is closer to mastering the Stone than Arunis.

Desperate to stop him, Pazel and Thasha must join forces with their enemies, including the depraved Captain Rose and the imperial assassin Sandor Ott. But when a suspicious young crewmember turns his attentions to Thasha, it is the young lovers themselves who are divided—most conveniently for Arunis. As the mage’s triumph draws near, the allies face a terrible choice: to break their oaths and run for safety, or to hunt the world’s most dangerous sorcerer through the strange and deadly dream kingdom known as the River of Shadows, and to face him a last time among the traps and horrors of his lair.

Brimming with high adventure, dark enchantment, and unforgettable characters, The River of Shadows deftly secures Redick’s place in the ranks of epic fantasy’s most original and enthralling storytellers.

Enigmatic Pilot: A Tall Tale Too True by Kris Saknussemm (Del Rey, Trade Paperback 3/28/2011) – This is the author’s second novel, after the controversial Zanesville. This is the published version of the ARC I received earlier in the year.

Enigmatic Pilot is Kris Saknussemm’s outrageously brilliant yet profoundly moving exploration and excavation of the American dream—and nightmare.

In 1844, in a still-young America, the first intimations of civil war are stirring throughout the land. In Zanesville, Ohio, the Sitturd family—Hephaestus, a clubfooted inventor; his wife, Rapture, a Creole from the Sea Islands; and their prodigiously gifted six-year-old son, Lloyd, whose libido is as precocious as his intellect—are forced to flee the only home they have ever known for an uncertain future in Texas, whence Hephaestus’s half-brother, Micah, has sent them a mysterious invitation, promising riches and wonders too amazing to be entrusted to paper.

Thus begins one of the most incredible American journeys since Huck Finn and Jim first pushed their raft into the Mississippi. Along the way, Lloyd will learn the intricacies of poker and murder, solve the problem of manned flight, find—and lose—true love, and become swept up in an ancient struggle between two secret societies whose arcane dispute has shaped the world’s past and threatens to reshape its future. Each side wants to use Lloyd against the other, but Lloyd has his own ideas—and access to an occult technology as powerful as his imagination.

The Council of Shadows (The Shadowspawn) by SM Stirling (Roc, Hardcover 04/05/2011) – Second offering in prolific author Stirling’s take on urban fantasy

New from the New York Times bestselling author of A Taint in the Blood.

Adrian Brézé defied his own dark heritage as a near-purebred Shadowspawn for years, until his power-hungry sister Adrienne kidnapped his human lover Ellen.

Now, Adrienne is dead, and the Council of Shadows is gathering its strength. To stop the Council from launching an apocalypse, Adrian and Ellen must ally with the Brotherhood, a resistance group dedicated to breaking the Council's hold on humankind...by any means necessary.

In the coming confrontation, Adrian must fight not only the members of the Council but also his own nature-and, as he will come to suspect, traitors within the Brotherhood itself...

Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay #1) by Chris Wooding (Spectra Trade Paperback 04/26/2011) – Wooding has been writing for quite some time, his YA books have been well received . This is his first adult novel and, when published in the UK two years ago, garnered a great deal of praise, from no less than SFFWorld’s own Hobbit/Mark. Chris has also taken to visiting the forums.

Sky piracy is a bit out of Darian Frey’s league. Fate has not been kind to the captain of the airship Ketty Jay—or his motley crew. They are all running from something. Crake is a daemonist in hiding, traveling with an armored golem and burdened by guilt. Jez is the new navigator, desperate to keep her secret from the rest of the crew. Malvery is a disgraced doctor, drinking himself to death. So when an opportunity arises to steal a chest of gems from a vulnerable airship, Frey can’t pass it up. It’s an easy take—and the payoff will finally make him a rich man.

But when the attack goes horribly wrong, Frey suddenly finds himself the most wanted man in Vardia, trailed by bounty hunters, the elite Century Knights, and the dread queen of the skies, Trinica Dracken. Frey realizes that they’ve been set up to take a fall but doesn’t know the endgame. And the ultimate answer for captain and crew may lie in the legendary hidden pirate town of Retribution Falls. That’s if they can get there without getting blown out of the sky.

Friday, March 04, 2011

SFFWorld's Favorite Read of 2010

SFFWorld's favorite 2010 book is:

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. The full results are here for consumption and discussion.

Also at SFFWorld, Mark/Hobbit posted some reviews over the past week:

The Savage Gentleman by Philip Wylie, here's a snippet

First published in 1932, it is at first glance less SF and more an extension of social comment. More akin to Stranger in a Strange Land than Armageddon, it has been claimed, like his earlier novel Gladiator (1930), that it is a precursor, if not an influence on the development of the pulp hero. Whereas The Savage Gentleman is seen as perhaps an influence on The Man of Bronze, Doc Savage, Gladiator is also seen as one of the main inspirations for Superman.
The story starts fairly straightforwardly. At the end of the 19th century Stephen Stone, millionaire, is betrayed by his wife and as a result takes their son, Henry, to a remote and isolated island where he is brought up by Stone and two male companions, a Scotsman named McCobb and a Negro servant named Jack, without the influence of women. The first half of the book reads like a Boys-Own adventure idyll, with the men hunting, fishing and educating Henry. Thirty years or so pass. Henry’s father dies on the island. Then Stone Island is discovered by a small Scandinavian freighter and the remaining men are brought back to New York of the 1930’s: a place very different from the New York they left when Henry was an infant. We now have telephones, electricity, aeroplanes, airships. Henry also finds himself the owner of a huge news conglomerate set up by his father and run in their absence by the magnate Voorhees.

Heir of Night by Helen Lowe, here's a snippet:

This is not a debut work, but the writer’s first adult Fantasy novel. An important point that, and one that I didn’t know until after reading the novel, but helped me make more sense of the style of the tale. Whilst the audience being targeted may be ’adult’, to me it felt more like a novel for young adults with adult overtones: not necessarily a bad thing, and in this regard much, much better than the last novel I read that tried to do the same (Left Hand of God, I’m thinking of you.) When we reduce Heir of Night to bare plot at its simplest, this becomes a little more obvious.

The Prestige Christopher Priest, here's a snippet:

As the title suggests, this is about ‘the prestige’ or the need to beat a rival. This could therefore be seen simply as just a tale of magician’s rivalry, an attempt to out-best the other after a tragic set of events that set them against each other. It may be further seen as a tale of societal class, as one is from a labourer’s background whilst the other is from the aristocracy.

What the film does not do so well, yet the book does, is show Priest’s deft skill of dealing with words, of adeptly using the written form to tell an imaginative and clever tale of magic, duality, misdirection, sleight of hand, secrecy and deception.

The novel, more so than the film, covers a much broader canvas in this tale of trickery. The novel, after an initial contemporary setting of an epistolary mystery diary, tells this tale of rivalry through the untrustworthy narrative of magician Alfred Borden. Borden is at first a fellow magician, and then a rival to, Rupert Angier (Robert Angier in the film.) Angier is found by Borden to be performing a fraudulent séance for his aunt, which to his indignant mind sullies the reputation of Borden’s obsession, magicianship. Outraged, at another ‘séance’, Borden confronts Angier and shows the event to be a mere trick.