Sunday, April 13, 2014

Books in the Mail (W/E 2014-04-12)

Three books this week, one of which is a great sourcebook for the Pathfinder RPG...have a look, won't you?

The Wurms of Blearmouth (A Tale of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach) by Steven Erikson (Tor Hardcover 07/08/2014) – This is the fifth novella featuring Bauchelain and Korbal Broach. The most recent Malazan novel I read (Forge of Darkness ) didn’t quite work for me and I’m still three books short of completing a read of the main sequence.

A new novella from New York Times bestselling author Steven Erikson, set in the world of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, The Wurms of Blearmouth.

Tyranny comes in many guises, and tyrants thrive in palaces and one-room hovels, in back alleys and playgrounds. Tyrants abound on the verges of civilization, where disorder frays the rule of civil conduct and propriety surrenders to brutal imposition. Millions are made to kneel and yet more millions die horrible deaths in a welter of suffering and misery.

But leave all that behind and plunge into escapist fantasy of the most irrelevant kind, and in the ragged wake of the tale told in Lees of Laughter’s End, those most civil adventurers, Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, along with their suitably phlegmatic manservant, Emancipor Reese, make gentle landing upon a peaceful beach, beneath a quaint village at the foot of a majestic castle. There they make acquaintance with the soft-hearted and generous folk of Spendrugle, which lies at the mouth of the Blear River and falls under the benign rule of the Lord of Wurms in his lovely keep.

Make welcome, then, to Spendrugle’s memorable residents, including the man who should have stayed dead, the woman whose prayers should never have been answered, the tax collector everyone ignores, the ex-husband town militiaman who never married, the beachcomber who lives in his own beard, the now singular lizard cat who used to be plural, and the girl who likes to pee in your lap. And of course, hovering over all, the denizen of the castle keep, Lord—Ah, but there lies this tale.


Promise of Blood (Book Two of The Powder Mage Trilogy) by Brian McClellan (Orbit Hardcover / eBook 05/06/2014) – Second book in the series, the first of which I thought was the best fantasy debut novel I read last year.

When invasion looms, but the threats are closer to home…Who will lead the charge?

Tamas’ invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies, and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy’s best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god, Kresimir.

In Adro, Inspector Adamat only wants to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the answers might lead to more questions.

Tamas’ generals bicker among themselves, the brigades lose ground every day beneath the Kez onslaught, and Kresimir wants the head of the man who shot him in the eye. With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself as the last line of defense against Kresimir’s advancing army.

Inner Sea Gods (A Pathfinder Campaign Setting) edited by James L. Sutter (Paizo Hardcover 04/30/2014) – These Pathfinder RPG hardcover books are beautiful looking and chock full of monsters and magic. I’ve been s-l-o-w-l-y incorporating elements of the world into the gaming group I’m part of, though I wish we could play more often.

Unleash the Power of the Gods!
Through the miracles of priests and the weapons of crusaders, the deities of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game command unrivaled influence over the lands of the Inner Sea. Tap into their incredible might with Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Gods! Inside you’ll discover the deepest secrets of an entire pantheon of incomparable beings, claim relics suited to both sinners and saints, and wield immortal might as a character of any background, race, or class. No longer does the favor of the gods belong to clerics, paladins, and other divine spellcasters alone—choose your faith and make holy power your own!
This volume expands upon the world and religions detailed in Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea World Guide. Inside this tome of mysteries, you’ll find:
  • Massive articles on the most powerful deities of the Pathfinder campaign setting, revealing everything you need to know about the gods and their followers, temples, adventurers, holy days, otherworldly realms, divine minions, and more! 
  • Details on nearly 300 deities from across the Inner Sea region and beyond.
  • New prestige classes to imbue you with the power of the gods! What’s more, each of these three classes is uniquely customized to make worshipers of all 20 core gods mechanically distinct from each other—that’s 60 different prestige class variations!
  • Tons of new feats to help optimize your character and make you a champion of the church.
  • More than 140 magic items tailored to religious characters of all classes! Unleash righteous wrath or spread divine corruption with sacred armor, weapons, altars, holy symbols, and other relics for every faith.
  • A library of spells and subdomains to help your caster sow destruction, spread divine love, or remake reality in your god’s name! 
  • Character traits to help you get the most out of your character’s beliefs and backstory. 
  • Dozens of monsters, including high-level heralds and divine servitors for Pathfinder’s most prominent deities.




Friday, April 11, 2014

SFFWorld & SF Signal Round-up: Moon, Edwards, and McCarthy plus Links!

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had some new content posted; two reviews to SFFWorld and my regular (as it turns out twice-per-month) Completist column at SF Signal. I’ll start with the oldest (if a week ago can be considered “oldest”) first and my review of Elizabeth Moon’s Echoes of Betrayal. I returned to her fiction earlier this year after not having read anything from her in a few years, for reasons I can’t fully explain and I feel somewhat bad for that because I’ve connected with everything I’ve read from here. This third installment of her Paladin’s Legacy series is no exception


Moon begins the tale with the thief Arvid Semminson a jail cell. That setting doesn’t last long as he and his gnome companion Dattur escape. Arvid was the enforcer of the Thieves Guild, but was betrayed by them which led to his incarceration. As much as the novel focuses on Kieri and Dorrin, perhaps Arvid undergoes the greatest change and character development over the course of the novel. Soon after Arvid escapes, he assumes the identity of a merchant, all the while searching for a lost necklace from Dorrin’s crown and jewel set. Dattur is his constant companion, a result of the gnome thinking he owes Arvid a life debt. Arvid begins hearing a voice in his head that he comes to realize is Saint Gird. Arvid does not consider himself a good person or a religious person, after all he spent much of his life as a thief and an enforcer for thieves, so much of his narrative journey in Echoes of Betrayal is an examination of his past and the struggle to redeem himself, even if such a word or change is never fully admitted or quantified. Moon captures the internal struggle Arvid is going through at this juncture in his life, he’s fighting against himself, who he was and who he wishes to become.
I’ve had this book for a couple of years and just never got around to reading it, as such, the last time I ventured into the series was with the second book, Kings of the North, nearly three years ago. Because of this, the longer I waited to read Echoes of Betrayal, the more trepidation I felt picking it up. I wasn’t sure how much I would remember from the previous installment or how easily I would slip into the world and narrative. I shouldn’t have worried nearly as much. The names began ringing bells as did their plight and Moon’s narrative connects with me so well that I was soon right beside Arvid, Kieri and the other characters during their plights/journeys.

Earlier this week, I posted my review of a book that took me by surprise. I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected (and the premise looked enjoyable). The mystery couched in a historical/mythic setting Talus and the Frozen King by Graham Edwards: 



Edwards works with a very straight-forward mystery structure, murder, investigation, solution, but what happens between those pillars of the structure make for a very entertaining read. The island of Creyak through the absolute rule of Hashath, has all but cut itself off from the world, shrouding itself in privacy and superstition. Now that the king is dead, his eldest son is in line for the throne. Of course, things are not that easy. Tharn, the king-to-be, is at first very untrusting of Talus and Bran considering their arrival coincided with the king’s death.

...
Part of what makes a good mystery enjoyable are the characters because frankly, going in, the reader pretty much knows the mystery will be solved when the book is finished. In the case of Talus and the Frozen King, I thought Talus and Bran were both engaging characters who had a deep past that was hinted at from the start, but in the case of Talus, becomes only minimally clear by novel’s end. The people of Creyak felt genuine and the king-to-be Tharn stood out as a man torn between duty to his people’s traditions and how he wants the village to live on in the future.


Yesterday, my Completist column featured a superb, recently completed Military SF trilogy, The Subterrene War by T.C. McCarthy:





While I haven’t read every Military SF novel out on the shelves, I’ve read my fair share and nothing I’ve read in the subgenre feels so filthy, dirty and uncomfortable as do these books by McCarthy. McCarthy is, after all, telling a story of war and nothing is spared – the death, the blood, the sickness, even the pure discomfort of having what is essentially power armor which includes a system to get rid of personal waste – there’s the rawness, and that is merely one fraction of it. Some people may consider disjointed a negative comment, but here, the disjointed feeling of the narrative is, I gather, completely intentional on McCarthy’s part.


...

McCarthy’s claustrophobic feel extends to personal freedoms. When ‘out’ of the theater of war, at home, or in civilian life, Stan, like all citizens, is constantly monitored. He is unable to have any private discussion with his estranged wife and only when he is in the deepest, least civilized sections of the jungles does Stan come close to feeling unsurveilled. This ratchets-up the paranoia level and lack of privacy that pervades the narrative.
Also at SF Signal:



Sunday, April 06, 2014

Books in the Mail (W/E 2014-04-05)

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. I’ve been receiving a greater percentage of electronic ARCs this year which is good because death via drowning in a sea of unread books is not how I want to say goodbye to this world.

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 (i.e. from "this book holds ZERO appeal for me" to "I cannot WAIT to read this book yesterday"). Have a guess in the comments about which book fits my reading labels “I’ll Never Read…” “Zero Appeal” or “cannot wait” "maybe I'll get to it later" and so forth...

Since nothing new arrived this week, I figured now was a good time, with the start of the year, for this filler post.

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Last King of Osten Ard - Tad Williams Returns to Memory, Sorrow and Thorn World & Characters

It was publicized (Sarah’s Web site was the first place I saw it) around the genre blogosphere (I know Aidan reveres this series as much as I do) late yesterday, DAW Books announced they will be publishing a sequel series to Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow and Thorn returning to his most popular series and the characters of Simon and Miriamele in The Last King of Osten Ard. The book titles will be (as of now):

The Witchwood Crown

Empire of Grass

The Navigator’s Children

As folks who know me through this blog and my moderation and postings at the SFFWorld forums are likely aware, Tad Williams is one of my favorite writers and Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is one of my favorite (as in top 5) if not my favorite fantasy series.


Years ago, back in the days of yore before the Internets and only one book of GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire was on the shelves and I then recently graduated college I was getting back into non-academic reading I knew I wanted to dive into Science Fiction and Fantasy so of course I jumped into the Wheel of Time and other books I knew as landmark novels/series like Stranger in a Strange Land, Ender’s Game, Hyperion among others.

However, one series I latched onto in late 1998 after browsing amazon.com’s reviews and suggestions was Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. I was lucky enough that hardcover copies of the trilogy were still in print and available so I purchased the books in their original publication format, a trilogy of three books. To this day, the trilogy is a standard-bearer in my personal fantasy pantheon and one against which I measure nearly all fantasy I read. The physical books are some of the most treasured physical books I own, not the least of which is because of the gorgeous and iconic artwork from the legendary Michael Whelan.








As is now known by many of us who have read both authors, George R.R. Martin was strongly nudged/influenced by reading Memory, Sorrow and Thorn that Smart Epic Fantasy could be done. I think we know how that worked out.

Since reading Memory, Sorrow and Thorn that first time back in 1998, I’ve been a fan of Tad’s work and joined up the old Shadowmarch online community and re-read Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. Though at that time (over a decade ago now, so with the new series looming, I’ll be re-reading again), I bought the mass market paperbacks because I didn’t (a) want to lug around those gigantic hardcovers and, (b) perhaps more importantly, didn’t want to damage my precious 1st edition hardcovers.

So in short, you could say I’m more than a little excited about this series.

This sort of begs the question (as is often the case in such situations), can a creator return to their best known creation after an absence?  Not an easy answer, but there are few writers who I trust more to than Tad Williams.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Books in the Mail (W/E 20140-03-29)

Another nice mix of books this week. These Pathfinder novels look like a lot of fun and I need to catch up with some that I've had for a while...


Heaven's Queen (Volume 3 of The Paradox Series) by Rachel Bach (Orbit, Trade Paperback 04/22/2014) – I recently finished the second book (Honor’s Knight) in the thrilling Space Opera / Military Science Ficiton / Urban Fantasy hybrid and this series is turning into an absolute blast. My review of Fortune’s Pawn. This here’s the physical version of the eArch I received in February.


From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell's doomed ship, Devi Morris' life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that's eating her alive.

Now, with the captain missing and everyone -- even her own government -- determined to hunt her down, things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi's never been one to shy from a fight, and she's getting mighty sick of running.

It's time to put this crisis on her terms and do what she knows is right. But with all human life hanging on her actions, the price of taking a stand might be more than she can pay.



The Remaining (Volume 1 of The Remaining) by
DJ Molles (Orbit, Paperback 05/27/2014) – Another in line of Orbit’s self-published acquisitions. This one looks at the Zombie Apocalypse v from through the lens of Military Science Fiction.


In a steel-and-lead-encased bunker 20 feet below the basement level of his house, a Special Forces soldier waits for his final orders. On the surface, a plague ravages the planet, infecting over 90% of the populace.

The bacterium burrows through the brain, destroying all signs of humanity and leaving behind little more than base, prehistoric instincts. The infected turn into hyper-aggressive predators, with an insatiable desire to kill and feed.

Soon the soldier will have to open the hatch to his bunker, and step out into this new wasteland, to complete his duty: SURVIVE, RESCUE, REBUILD.

This gritty tale of survival and perseverance will enthrall fans of World War Z and The Walking Dead.




The Redemption Engine (A Pathfinder Tales novel) by James L. Sutter (Paizo Mass Market Paperback 04/29/2014) – Sutter’s sequel to his very well received debut, Death's Heretic (which I have and still need to read). Sutter is one of the main architects behind Pathfinder.

Get Out of Hell Free! When murdered sinners fail to show up in Hell, it's up to Salim Ghadafar, an atheist warrior forced to solve problems for the goddess of death, to track down the missing souls. In order to do so, Salim will need to descend into the anarchic city of Kaer Maga, following a trail that ranges from Hell's iron cities to the gates of Heaven itself. Along the way, he'll be aided by a host of otherworldly creatures, a streetwise teenager, and two warriors of the mysterious Iridian Fold. But when the missing souls are the scum of the earth, and the victims devils themselves, can anyone really be trusted? From acclaimed author James L. Sutter comes the sequel to Death's Heretic, the novel ranked #3 on Barnes & Noble's Best Fantasy Releases of 2011!





Skinwalkers (A Pathfinder Tales novel) by Wendy N. Wagner (Paizo Mass Market Paperback 04/15/2014) – This is Wagner’s first novel after an impressive list of short fiction, some of which is set in the Patfhinder milieu.

As a young woman, Jendara left the cold northern isles of the Ironbound Archipelago to find her fortune. Now, many years later, she's forsaken her buccaneer ways and returned home in search of a simpler life, where she can raise her young son, Kran, in peace. When a strange clan of shapeshifting raiders pillages her home, however, there's no choice for Jendara but to take up her axes once again to help the islanders defend all that they hold dear. From author Wendy N. Wagner comes a new adventure of vikings, lycanthropes, and the ties of motherhood, set in the world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekly Round-Up: Patrick, Sanderson, and Karsak

Some new reviews at SFFWorld this past week, including one from Mark, one from Nila, and one from me.

Mark reviewed Den Patrick's The Boy with The Porcelain Blade, about a week after interviewing Den. Here's a bit of Mark's review:

As we begin the book Landfall is a place in turmoil. The King is clearly insane and so the world is run by people to whom corruption is second-nature. Our main protagonist in this story is Lucien de Fontein, a child of privilege, born into one of the Kingdom of Landfall’s wealthiest families. Although he is an Orfano (some sort of royal bastard child) he has certain benefits. He is nannied, educated and trained to use a porcelain sword in fighting, at which he has some skill.

...

The plot is mainly about Lucien’s coming of age, written in a style that flitters between the present and the past. Most of his early life, rather like Titus Groan’s in Gormenghast, is centred on one place, in Lucien’s case the city state of Demesne. Here we see Lucien grow and become increasingly independent. He finds himself having to defend himself against some Orfano and ally himself with others, finds himself at odds with some of his tutors and befriends others. In the end he uncovers a grisly mystery, and secrets about his past and his heritage that have been hidden from others for a long time…


I reviewed perhaps the biggest (both in physical size and anticpated) fantasy novel of the year, Words of Radiance, the second installment of Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive:

Whereas the first novel, The Way of Kings, focused a great deal on the character of Khaladin, Words of Radiance (as has been mentioned by many who’ve read it) is Shallan’s book. She is apprenticing under Dalinar’s daughter Jasnah, learning about the history of the world and essentially practicing the magic of the world. In many ways, Shallan’s journey over the course of this novel reminded me a bit of the journey Daenerys Targaryen has been taking for much of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Shallan’s family is not what it once was, an event in the first third of the novel forces her to travel with, initially, very few companions until she begins to amass followers after making bold promises to them, and she is asserting herself in the world. Through flashback sequences to her life prior to her introduction to the series, Sanderson provides many tragic details about Shallan that inform the person we are traveling with on her journey to the Shattered Plains. The emotional resonance of her past echoes to her “current” journey, helping to make such large and epic novel feel so intimate and personal. As Shallan is a young woman not fully aware of the world at large, we as the readers get to learn about the world anew as she experiences and learns about it herself. This sort of world-building and storytelling is often the strongest kind giving the character a strong tie to the world and here in Words of Radiance, it is highlight of the novel.
...
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the beautiful package/piece of art this book is. The US cover (Tor) is by the legendary Michael Whelan, front interior art is a character study of Shallan by Michael Whelan (above, which in my opinion should be the cover), and back endpapers of a map. Brandon posted all the artwork from the book here. Each chapter has an icon denoting on whom the chapter will focus and scattered throughout the book are full page illustrations which come across as creature illustrations, character studies, and the like. Irene Gallo and the whole Tor art and production team should be highly commended.

Nila continues her review of self-published/small press titles with Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak:


The book begins in the middle of a race. Lily and her crew are sailing through the sky above London, hot on the heels of her racing nemesis, an obviously better pilot than she because he wins and she doesn’t. Lily does come in second place, which isn’t half bad, but before she can claim her trophy, a man dressed in harlequin assaults her by shoving a long, clothed cylinder down the front of her pants – then promptly plunges to his death.
...
In addition, though Chasing the Star Garden was an interesting read and had some wonderful airship maneuvers, I never felt a connection to the main character. Lily’s life begins with the strict attentions of a couple of horrendous male guardians. She’s psychologically scarred and becomes an opium addict because of them, but somehow Lily ends up with well-intentioned men around her during this story. Though her love affair with Lord Byron, also a benefactor, might be construed as damaging, he does not demand much from Lily. He seems more of a easy crutch for the author to give Lily want she needs when she needs it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Books in the Mail (W/E 2014-03-22)

Easily the largest collection of arrivals of the year this past week and the only problem with that is I really do want to read just about every one of them. Here’s the rundown.


The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Tor Hardcover 04/01/2014) – It is something of an open secret that Katherine Addision is actually Sarah Monette. Regardless of the name under which this book appears, it looks quite interesting. Goblin-punk! This is the final/physical version of the eArc I received about a month ago. Since then, I’ve seen nothing but major praise for this book.



The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an "accident," he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir. 


Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment. 

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne–or his life. 

Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor is an exciting fantasy novel, set against the pageantry and color of a fascinating, unique world, is a memorable debut for a great new talent.



Helix Wars by Eric Brown (Mass Market Paperback 08/25/2012 Solaris Books) – This is a sequel to what I think is one of the most overlooked Space based SF novels of the last handful of years, Helix, which I loved.



The Helix: a vast spiral of ten thousand worlds turning around its sun. Aeons ago, the enigmatic Builders constructed the Helix as a refuge for alien races on the verge of extinction.


Two hundred years ago, humankind came to the Helix aboard a great colony ship, and the builders conferred on them the mantle of peacekeepers. For that long, peace has reigned on the Helix. But when shuttle pilot Jeff Ellis crash-lands on the world of Phandra, he interrupts a barbarous invasion from the neighbouring Sporelli, who are now racing to catch and exterminate Ellis before he can return to New Earth and inform the peacekeepers.

Eric Brown returns to the rich worlds he created in the best-selling Helix with a vast science-fiction adventure populated with strange characters and fascinating creatures.





Talus and the Frozen King by Graham Edwards (Mass Market Paperback 03/25/2014 Solaris Books) – This looks like a fun historical mystery and that cover sure is a beaut. This could be the start of a series for Mr. Edwards, the book has been generating some good word of mouth



Meet Talus – the world’s first detective.


A dead warrior king frozen in winter ice. Six grieving sons, each with his own reason to kill. Two weary travellers caught up in a web of suspicion and deceit.
In a distant time long before our own, wandering bard Talus and his companion Bran journey to the island realm of Creyak, where the king has been murdered. From clues scattered among the island’s mysterious barrows and stone circles, they begin their search for his killer. But do the answers lie in this world or the next?
Nobody is above suspicion, from the king’s heir to the tribal shaman, from the servant woman steeped in herb-lore to the visiting warlord whose unexpected arrival throws the whole tribe into confusion. And when death strikes again, Talus and Bran realise nothing is what it seems.
Creyak is place of secrets and spirits, mystery and myth. It will take a clever man indeed to unravel the truth. The kind of man this ancient world has not seen before.





The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher (Orbit (Trade Paperback 05/06/2014) – This one has comparisons to Neil Gaiman and Susana Clarke on the back, which could be interesting.



"Only five still guard the borders between the worlds. Only five hold back what waits on the other side."


Once the Oversight, the secret society that policed the lines between the mundane and the magic, counted hundreds of brave souls among its members. Now their numbers can be counted on a single hand. When a vagabond brings a screaming girl to the Oversight's London headquarters, it seems their hopes for a new recruit will be fulfilled – but the girl is a trap.

As the borders between this world and the next begin to break down, murders erupt across the city, the Oversight are torn viciously apart, and their enemies close in for the final blow.

This dark Dickensian fantasy from Charlie Fletcher (the Stoneheart trilogy) spins a tale of witch-hunters, supra-naturalists, mirror-walkers and magicians. Meet the Oversight, and remember: when they fall, so do we all.





Full Fathom Five (Craft Sequence #3) by Max Gladstone (Tor Hardcover 07/15/2014) – This is the third novel in Gladstone’s fantasy/legal thriller hybrid sequence. I have the first book, but not the second..



On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World. When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can't stop it first.



Full Fathom Five is the third novel set in the addictive and compelling fantasy world of Three Parts Dead.




Irenicon (The Wave Trilogy #1) by Aidan Harte (Jo Fletcher Books Hardcover 04/01/2014) –This was originally published in the UK in 2012, it will be hitting US Shelves in April 2014. This is the Hardcover/final copy of the ARC I received in December.



The river Irenicon was blasted through the middle of Rasenna in 1347 and now it is a permanent reminder to the feuding factions that nothing can stand in the way of the Concordian Empire. The artificial river, created overnight by Concordian engineers using the Wave, runs uphill. But the Wave is both weapon and mystery; not even the Concordians know how the river became conscious – and hostile.


But times are changing. Concordian engineer Captain Giovanni is ordered to bridge the Irenicon – not to reunite the sundered city, but to aid Concord’s mighty armies, for the engineers have their sights set firmly on world domination and Rasenna is in their way.

Sofia Scaglieri will soon be seventeen, when she will become Contessa of Rasenna, but her inheritance is tainted: she can see no way of stopping the ancient culture of vendetta which divides her city. What she can’t understand is why Giovanni is trying so hard to stop the feuding, or why he is prepared to risk his life, not just with her people, but also with the lethal water spirits – the buio – that infest the Irenicon.

Times are changing. And only the young Contessa and the enemy engineer Giovanni understand they have to change too, if they are to survive the coming devastation – for Concord is about to unleash the Wave again…




Promise of Blood (Book Two of The Powder Mage Trilogy) by Brian McClellan (Orbit Hardcover / eBook 05/06/2014) – Second book in the series, the first of which I thought was the best fantasy debut novel I read last year.



When invasion looms, but the threats are closer to home…Who will lead the charge?


Tamas’ invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies, and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy’s best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god, Kresimir.

In Adro, Inspector Adamat only wants to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the answers might lead to more questions.

Tamas’ generals bicker among themselves, the brigades lose ground every day beneath the Kez onslaught, and Kresimir wants the head of the man who shot him in the eye. With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself as the last line of defense against Kresimir’s advancing army.




Veil of the Deserters (Bloodsounder’s Arc Book Two) by Jeff Salyards (Night Shade Books Hardcover 05/03/2014) – I reviewed and was quite impressed with Jeff’s debut and the launch of this series Scourge of the Betrayer when it published at the end of 2012.


Braylar is still poisoned by the memories of those slain by his unholy flail Bloodsounder, and attempts to counter this sickness have proven ineffectual. The Syldoonian Emperor, Cynead, has solidified his power in unprecedented ways, and Braylar and company are recalled to the capital to swear fealty. Braylar must decide if he can trust his sister, Soffjian, with the secret that is killing him. She has powerful memory magics that might be able to save him from Bloodsounder’s effects, but she has political allegiances that are not his own. Arki and others in the company try to get Soffjian and Braylar to trust one another, but politics in the capital prove to be complicated and dangerous. Deposed emperor Thumarr plots to remove the repressive Cynead, and Braylar and Soffjian are at the heart of his plans. The distance between “favored shadow agent of the emperor” and “exiled traitor” is unsurprisingly small. But it is filled with blind twists and unexpected turns. Before the journey is over, Arki will chronicle the true intentions of Emperor Cynead and Soffjian.



The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Vol. 8 by Jonathan Strahan (Trade Paperback 04/10/2014 Solaris Books) – Strahan’s inclusive, seminal best of the year anthology moves to Solaris Books, where Jonathan has published a few of his popular themed anthologies. I really like the fact that he doesn’t separate Fantasy from Science Fiction with this annual book.



The best, most original and brightest science fiction and fantasy stories from around the globe from the past twelve months are brought together in one collection by multi-award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan.



This highly popular series is released in the UK for the first time with this edition. It will include stories from both the biggest names in the field and the most exciting new talents. Previous volumes have included stories from Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Cory Doctorow, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Joe Abercrombie, Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black, Garth Nix, Jeffrey Ford, Margo Lanagan, Bruce Sterling, Adam Roberts, Ellen Klages, and many many more..





Unclean Spirits (A Gods and Monsters novel) by Chuck Wendig (Abaddon Books Trade Paperback 05/05/2013) – Chuck launched a urban fantasy series for Abaddon with this book. The series seems a darker, more in-your-face take on what Gaiman did with American Gods. In other words, sign me up!


The gods and goddesses are real. A polytheistic pantheon—a tangle of gods and divine hierarchies—once kept the world at an arm’s length, warring with one another, using mankind’s belief and devotion to give them power. In this way, the world had balance: a grim and bloody balance, but a balance just the same. But a single god sought dominance and as Lucifer fell to Hell, the gods and goddesses fell to earth. And it’s here they remain—seemingly eternal, masquerading as humans and managing only a fraction of the power they once had as gods. They fall to old patterns, collecting sycophants and worshippers in order to war against one another in the battle for the hearts of men. They bring with them demi-gods, and they bring with them their monstrous races—crass abnormalities created to serve the gods, who would do anything to reclaim the seat of true power.