Sunday, February 07, 2016

Books in the Mail (W/E 2016-02-06)

This week's Books in the Mail post is brought to you by the letter H as the authors of the books I received have either the first or last name begin with the letter H, the name of the publisher of the majority of the books begins with the letter H, and one book is published by the publisher whose name begins with the letter H and the writer's last name begins with H.

Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free by Randy Henderson (Tor 02/16/2016) – Exactly a year later, the sequel to Henderson’s debut hits shelves.

 I like the covers on these, they look like folksy wood-carvings. 

In this sequel to Randy Henderson's acclaimed debut novel, Finn Fancy Necromancy, Finn Gramaraye is settling back into the real world after his twenty-five-year-long imprisonment in the otherworld of the Fey. 

He's figured out how to use the Kinfinder device created by his half-mad father to find people's True Love, and he'd like to convert that into an Arcane Dating Service. 

Unfortunately, trouble always seems to find Finn, and when he agrees to help his friend, the Bigfoot named Sal, they walk right into a Feyblood rebellion against the Arcane Ruling Council, a rebellion being fomented by unknown forces and fueled by the drug created by Finn's own grandfather.

The God Wave by Patrick Hemstreet ( Harper Voyager Hardcover 05/17/2016) – Hemstreet’s debut, the first of a trilogy, is generating a great deal of pre-publication buzz three months prior to its release.

team of neuroscientists uncover amazing new capabilities in the brain that may steer human evolution toward miraculous and deadly frontiers in this spectacular debut work of speculative science fiction—Limitless meets James Rollins—that combines spirituality and science in an inventive, mind-blowing fashion.

For decades, scientists have speculated about the untapped potential of the human brain. Now, neuroscientist Chuck Brenton has made an astonishing breakthrough. He has discovered the key—the crucial combination of practice and conditioning—to access the incredible power dormant in ninety percent of our brains. Applying his methods to test subjects, he has stimulated abilities that elevate brain function to seemingly “godlike” levels.

These extraordinary abilities can transform the world, replacing fear and suffering with tranquility and stability. But in an age of increasing militarization, corporate exploitation, and explosive technological discovery, a group of influential power brokers are determined to control Brenton’s new superbeings for their own manipulative ends—and their motives may be far from peaceful.

Blood of Innocents (Sorcery Ascendant #2) by Mitchell Hogan (Harper Voyager / William Morrow Trade Paperback 02/02/16) – Second installment in Hogan’s Sorcery Ascendant saga. This is the final copy of the ARC I received in December.

A novice sorcerer may hold the key to saving his world—or be the instrument of its destruction—in this second book in The Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, a mesmerizing saga of high fantasy that combines magic, malevolence, and mystery

Anasoma, jewel of the Mahruse Empire, has fallen.

As orphaned, monk-raised Caldan and his companions flee the city, leaving behind their hopes for a new beginning, horrors from the time of the Shattering begin to close in.

With Miranda’s mind broken by forbidden sorcery, Caldan does the unthinkable to save her: he breaks the most sacrosanct laws of the Protectors. But when the emperor’s warlocks arrive to capture him, Caldan realizes that his burgeoning powers may be more of a curse than a blessing, and the enemies assailing the empire may be rivaled by more sinister forces within.

And soon, the blood of innocents may be on Caldan’s own hands.

The Heir of Night (Book One of The Wall of Night) by Helen Lowe (Harper Voyager Mass Market Paperback 09/28/2010) – This is the first installment of Lowe’s trilogy and it received the David Gemmell Morningstar Award in 2012 for Best Fantasy newcomer. My pal at SFFWorld Mark Yon liked it when he read it back in 2011.

The violence of an age-old war casts a long shadow. It falls on a world where mercy is weakness and conflict is a way of life.

Young Malian is being trained to rule. Her people garrison the mountain range known as the Wall of Night against an ancient enemy, keeping a tide of shadow from the rest of their world. Malian is expected to uphold this tradition, yet she's known little of real danger until the enemy launches a direct attack upon her fortress home.

In the darkest part of the night, the Keep of Winds becomes a bloodbath. Women and children, warriors and priests, are slain by creatures with twisted magic flowing in their veins. And as the castle wakes to chaos, Malian flees deep into the Old Keep, her life at stake. Then when the danger is greatest, her own hidden magic flares into life.

But this untapped potential is a two-edged blade. If she accepts its power, she must prepare to pay the price..

Gathering of the Lost (Book Two of The Wall of Night) by Helen Lowe ( Harper Voyager Mass Market Paperback 03/12/2012) – Second in the series. When the third book arrived last week, the wonderful publicist at HarperVoyager was kind enough to send me books one and two so I could do a read-through of the series.

Strange magic, dark treachery and conflicting loyalties, set in a well realized world.”

—Robin Hobb, author of Dragon Haven

“[Lowe] reinvigorates the epic fantasy with appealing characters and a richly detailed world.”
—Library Journal

Sure to become an epic fantasy classic, Helen Lowe’s magnificent Wall of Night series is big, ambitious, and gorgeously drawn—a story of bravery, treachery, and cataclysm in a richly imagined world. The Gathering of the Lost is the second of four books set in a fantastic imperiled realm garrisoned by nine great Houses and protected from the terrible Darkswarm by the towering mountain range that gives the series its name. Supremely literate, brilliantly imagined and executed fantasy in the vein of Brandon Sanderson, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Barbara Hambly, The Gathering of the Lost is populated by a grand cast of unforgettable characters, some still holding to the beleaguered Wall, others scattered in their quest for the fabled Heir of Night, who vanished from their midst five years earlier.

Monday, February 01, 2016

January 2016 Reading: Bennett, Elliott, Bear, Kemp, Correia, & Lyle

January has ended and I read a handful of books during the months. I reviewed Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Blades, the second installment of his soon-to-be landmark Divine Cities epic fantasy series.

As for what I haven’t reviewed, at the start of the year I began my long anticipated re-read (books 1-4) and finish off Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars series with the Nebula nominated first book in the series King’s Dragon. In short, I loved the book, and have much more to say on it. I am thinking of doing a write up of the series as I re-read books 1-4 and as it looks now, I may be doing one book per month. I really like the feel of this world and was pulled along.  I am very excited to continue with this series, the next of which is Prince of Dogs

After finishing off King’s Dragon, I dove into Elizabeth Bear’s Dust, a very fascinating take on the generational starship story. Bear always brings a wonderful voice to whatever she writes and this novel from a few years ago (2008) is no exception. It felt as much like a fantasy story with the religion that grew out of long years on the ship.

Although I began listening to the book at the end of December (my audible credit becomes available to me on the 24th of each month), Paul S. Kemp’s thrilling Star Wars novel Lords of the Sith (as read by with gusto and pacing by Jonathan Davis) accompanied me on my commute to and from work and other drives for the first couple weeks of the month. 

I think Kemp did a fine job with Vader and his relationship to Palpatine. This story takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, so Vader isn’t quite the feared monster in black he is when we first “meet” him on screen. I’d be pleased if Rogue One took some cues from this novel. There's still some lingering Anakin in Darth Vader in this story.

Although I haven't read every (or even half) of the Star Wars novels out there, I think the only other writer who capture Vader better was Matthew Stover in his novelization of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Next up was Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter: Alpha. I bought the omnibus o the first three Monster Hunter novels a couple of years ago for a steal at $6. Larry switched things up for the third installment of the Monster Hunter series, focusing on Earl Shackelford (as opposed to Owen Pitt) and switching to an omniscient third person narrative voice rather than Owen’s first person perspective. This was a helluva a lot of fun, so much so that before I even finished reading Monster Hunter: Alpha I bought Monster Hunter: Legion. I would really like to read more novels focused on Earl, maybe some of his earlier adventures. I was also lucky enough to snag a signed copy of

The next audio book I gave a try was/is Anne Lyle’s The Alchemist of Souls, her debut and the first installment of her Night’s Mask trilogy. Michael Page does a very good job with the narration, I like the variety of voices and inflections he brings to the story. The setting is great, but for reasons I can’t fully explain, the story isn’t completely holding my attention. It is by no means bad, but I think I’m going to take a break from it at the moment.

As the month ends, I’m in the middle of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising. Del Rey was giving away copies of this at New York Comic Con this past October (2015). I’ve seen so many great things about the book and for the most part, the book is crafted quite well. A good story, good setting, but I really feel like I’ve read this one before. I finished the book on Friday and wasn't too impressed with the book altogether.  It really felt like The Hunger Games with a male protagonist along with a dash of The Departed

Lastly, I began slowly poring over the pages of Volume III of The Annotated Sandman. This is a beast of a book. Leslie Klinger (who did fantastic work on the previous two volumes as well as an Annotated Dracula and volume of HP Lovecraft I own) continues to add layers and depth, from a storytelling perspective, to one of the deepest and richest stories any medium has seen.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Books in the Mail (W/E 2016-01-30)

Some mail issues this week because of snow and the fact that I have an absolutely horrible mail carrier, perhaps the laziest, most vindictive, stupidest mail carrier I’ve ever had..

The Pagan Night (Book One of The Hallowed War) by Tim Akers (Titan Books Trade Paperback 01/19/2016) – After a handful of well-received Steampunk novels (published by Solaris and Pyr), Tim switches gears slightly to Historical/Epic Fantasy. This is a big fat novel, and a series he’s apparently been working on for quite some time. I’ll be posting a review of this one to

The Celestial Church has all but eliminated the old pagan ways, ruling the people with an iron hand. Demonic gheists terrorize the land, hunted by the warriors of the Inquisition, yet it’s the battling factions within the Church and age-old hatreds between north and south that tear the land apart.

Malcolm Blakley, hero of the Reaver War, seeks to end the conflict between men, yet it will fall to his son, Ian, and the huntress Gwen Adair to stop the killing before it tears the land apart. The Pagan Night is an epic of mad gods, inquisitor priests, holy knights bound to hunt and kill, and noble houses fighting battles of politics, prejudice, and power.

Enter a world of mad gods, inquisitor-priests, holy knights bound to hunt and kill the broken spirits of the world and the noble Houses caught in their midst, fighting their own battles of politics, prejudice and power. Face the darkness of winter, know the hope of spring, and keep the faith of the Winter Sun.

Morning Star (Book Three of The Red Rising Trilogy) by Pierce Brown (Del Rey Hardcover 02/06/2016) – This one arrived just as I was finishing the first novel in the trilogy, Red Rising. All I’ll say is this: it is highly unlikely that I’ll be reading Morning Star.

Red Rising thrilled readers and announced the presence of a talented new author. Golden Son changed the game and took the story of Darrow to the next level. Now comes the exhilarating conclusion to the Red Rising Trilogy: Morning Star.

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender.

Dominion (Book Three of The Chronicles of the Invaders) by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard (Emily Beslter Books / Simon & Schuster Hardcover 04/05/2016) – A year later and here we have the third in the author duo’s series about an alien invasion publishes..

The third thrilling Chronicles of the Invaders adventure from New York Times bestselling author John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard mixes classic sci-fi with rich, character-driven plot, as Paul and Syl fight to save Earth from an enemy who is closer than ever.

Syl Hellais and Paul Kerr have traveled through Derith, the mysterious wormhole from which no traveler has ever returned. Yet Derith’s secrets are darker than they imagined, and trapped in a dimension beyond their own, they finally emerge to discover a universe that has moved on without them.

Years have passed, and Civil War rages among the Illyri. It is whispered that the Earth is lost, prey to the alien parasites known as the Others, and other worlds will soon follow. Most shocking of all, the sinister Archmage Syrene of the Nairene Sisterhood has disappeared into the bowels of the Sisterhood’s lair.

But before she cloistered herself, Archmage Syrene chose her replacement. The Sisterhood has a new leader, with her own plans for the future of her race. Now Syl and Paul, teenagers in a deadly adult world, must find a way to change the course of history and save the lives of billions. They have but one hope.

For Syl Hellais is changing…

Daughter of the Blood (Book Three of The Wall of Night) by Helen Lowe (Harper Voyager Mass Market Paperback 01/26/2016) – I’ve been seeing good things about this series from my friends Mark Yon and Paul Weimer, among others. I plan to go a series read through of these books.

A Gemmell Award-Winning Series

Malian of Night and Kalan, her trusted ally, are returning to the Wall of Night—but already it may be too late. The Wall is dangerously weakened, the Nine Houses of the Derai fractured by rivalry and hate. And now, the Darkswarm is rising . . .

Among Grayharbor backstreets, an orphan boy falls foul of dark forces. On the Wall, a Daughter of Blood must be married off to the Earl of Night, a pawn in the web of her family's ambition. On the Field of Blood, Kalan fights for a place in the bride's honor guard, while Malian dodges deadly pursuers in a hunt against time for the fabled Shield of Heaven. But the Darkswarm is gaining strength, and time is running out—for Malian, for Kalan, and for all of Haarth . . .

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Books in the Mail (W/E 2016-01-23)

This week's haul, which arrived during the week before the 2 feet of snow on Saturday

Funeral Games (Far Star Trilogy #3) by Jay Allan (Harper Voyager 01/19/2016) – Allan winds down his trilogy in just three months. These monthly releases schedules seem to do well for the writer and the publisher.

The battle for the unification and rule of the Far Stars Confederation will be decided in this exhilarating third and final book in the swashbuckling space saga begun with Shadow of Empire and Enemy in the Dark.

The Far Stars stands on the edge of a precipice. The forces of Governor Vos have surged forth, conquering worlds and imposing the emperor’s brutal rule over millions. Only one thing stands in the way of total victory: Marshal Augustin Lucerne and his newly created Confederation. Vos has a simple plan: assassinate the marshal, and manipulate his generals to fight over his legacy, destroying each other in the process.

But another threat lurks: Arkarin Blackhawk. The smuggler and mercenary has been the marshal’s ally, working in the shadows and unraveling Vos’ plans. The governor can only hope the mysterious adventurer continues to resist a formal position in the Confederation.

Or he can have Blackhawk assassinated, too.

Because with Blackhawk succeeding Lucerne, the black and gold imperial flags will be stained red with blood. For his is a dark and dangerous past, and if he is put at the helm of the Confederation armies, the brutal imperial general he once had been may rise once again.

The Far Stars are facing the final battle. The Imperials seem unstoppable. But if Blackhawk somehow survives—and can come to grips with the horror deep within him—he just might be able to save the Far Stars from the iron hand of empire

Eclipse Phase: After the Fall edited by by Jaym Gates (Posthuman Studios 01/19/2016) – Jaym has done a lot of great things for the genre community, this is her latest anthology. Some impressive names in the line-up including Madeline Ashby, Ken Liu, and Fran Wilde.

It was the dawn of a new era, a technological and biological golden age for humanity. They had attained the stars, surmounted their weak physical shells, and found the cusp of a technological utopia. But those days slipped from their grasp, and now conflict runs rampant in the solar system. AIs and transhumanity struggle for survival, for balance, for a new golden age.

Their stories are many.

After the Fall is the first anthology from Posthuman Studios, set in the world of Eclipse Phase, their award-winning roleplaying game. The anthology will be a mix of old and new fiction, including stories by Eclipse Phase favorites—Nathaniel Dean, Jack Graham, Steve Mohan, and Rob Boyle and Davidson Cole. New fiction will feature science fiction rising stars Ken Liu, Madeline Ashby, Fran Wilde, Karin Lowachee, Wesley Schneider, and Andrew Penn Romine.

The anthology will be released digitally in January 2016 with a print release following in the spring, and is edited by Jaym Gates in collaboration with the Posthuman creators.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Books in the Mail (W/E 2016-01-16)

Just two books this week, and books for which I'd already received copies.

Hunted (The Iron Druid Chronicles #8) by Kevin Hearne (Del Rey, Hardcover 01/26/2016) – I’ve enjoyed every installment of this series Hammered is blurbed don the front, but because I also really enjoyed Hounded, loved it and posted the Hexed, Tricked, and Hunted This is the hardcopy of the ARC I received in November.

Iron Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, hero of Kevin Hearne’s epic New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series, has a point to make—and then drive into a vampire’s heart.

When a Druid has lived for two thousand years like Atticus, he’s bound to run afoul of a few vampires. Make that legions of them. Even his former friend and legal counsel turned out to be a bloodsucking backstabber. Now the toothy troublemakers—led by power-mad pain-in-the-neck Theophilus—have become a huge problem requiring a solution. It’s time to make a stand.

As always, Atticus wouldn’t mind a little backup. But his allies have problems of their own. Ornery archdruid Owen Kennedy is having a wee bit of troll trouble: Turns out when you stiff a troll, it’s not water under the bridge. Meanwhile, Granuaile is desperate to free herself of the Norse god Loki’s mark and elude his powers of divination—a quest that will bring her face-to-face with several Slavic nightmares.

As Atticus globetrots to stop his nemesis Theophilus, the journey leads to Rome. What better place to end an immortal than the Eternal City? But poetic justice won’t come without a price: In order to defeat Theophilus, Atticus may have to lose an old friend.

Praise for Kevin Hearne and The Iron Druid Chronicles

“[The Iron Druid books] are clever, fast paced and a good escape.”—Jason Weisberger, Boing Boing

“Celtic mythology and an ancient Druid with modern attitude mix it up in the Arizona desert in this witty new fantasy series.”—Kelly Meding, author of Chimera

“Outrageously fun.”—The Plain Dealer, on Hounded

“Superb . . . plenty of quips and zap-pow-bang fighting.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review), on Hounded

“Exciting . . . [Atticus] is one of the best main characters currently present in the urban fantasy genre.”—Fantasy Book Critic, on Tricked

“Funny, razor-sharp . . . plenty of action, humor, and mythology.”—Booklist (starred review), on Shattered

ALIVE (Generations Trilogy #1) by Scott Sigler (Del Rey Hardcover 02/02/2016) – I listened to Scott’s first podcast two novel Infected and Contagious and loved this when it published in hardcover last summer.

For fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Red Rising comes a gripping sci-fi adventure in which a group of teenagers wake up in a mysterious corridor with no knowledge of who they are or how they got trapped. Their only hope lies with an indomitable young woman who must lead them not only to answers but to survival.

“I open my eyes to darkness. Total darkness. I hear my own breathing, but nothing else. I lift my head . . . it thumps against something solid and unmoving. There is a board right in front of my face. No, not a board . . . a lid.”

A teenage girl awakens to find herself trapped in a coffin. She has no idea who she is, where she is, or how she got there. Fighting her way free brings little relief—she discovers only a room lined with caskets and a handful of equally mystified survivors. Beyond their room lies a corridor filled with bones and dust, but no people . . . and no answers.

She knows only one thing about herself—her name, M. Savage, which was engraved on the foot of her coffin—yet she finds herself in charge. She is not the biggest among them, or the boldest, but for some reason the others trust her. Now, if they’re to have any chance, she must get them to trust each other.

Whatever the truth is, she is determined to find it and confront it. If she has to lead, she will make sure they survive. Maybe there’s a way out, a rational explanation, and a fighting chance against the dangers to come. Or maybe a reality they cannot comprehend lies just beyond the next turn.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Books in the Mail (W/E 2016-01-09)

Just one review book arrived this week, via email...

Cahill’s Unfinished Business (by Patrick Hester (ebook 01/03/2016) – I read the first Cord Cahil Adventure and really enjoyed it (Cahill's Homecomingso I’m pleased to see Patrick release another installment/episode. Patrick sent this to me earlier in the wek.

A year after the events in CAHILL'S HOMECOMING, Cord Cahill is adrift and angry. The Republic has put a bounty on his head for killing the man who murdered his sister, and bounty hunters are on his trail. This drives him to take a simple, but unsanctioned, Sentinel mission on the frontier. But old enemies are waiting for him, and soon he is fighting for his life against a new and terrifying threat… 

Fans of space westerns and space operas will enjoy CAHILL'S UNFINISHED BUSINESS!

Friday, January 08, 2016

Friday Round-Up: Bowen, Corey & O'Keefe @SFFWorld and @SFSignal Mind Melds

Wow, I haven’t posted a round up since last year (hack joke), but seriously, it has been over a month and that’s a longer time between Round Ups than usual. Not sure what that bodes for the future, but there it is.

As my Millions….and MILLIONS readers are probably aware, I posted my annual (and tenth!) Reading Year in Review on Monday. It turned out to be a really good year, if you want to take a gander at the SFF books published in 2015 that I enjoyed the most head over there. But in this post you’ll find some of the recent things I’ve posted to SFFWorld and SF Signal.

As it turned out my Mind Meld from March SFF Series That Hooked us After the First book was the top (most viewed) Mind Meld post for 2015, and my Mind Meld on giving Authors a Second Chance (September) is also on the list.  Of course, the fact that "hooked" posted early in the year gave it more time to be viewed than all but 2 mind melds last year.

My Mind Meld for December was posted just before Christmas (and it turned out to be one of the top SF Signal posts for December!), wherein I asked A.M. Dellamonica, Bob Milne, Kristen Bell , Troy L. Wiggins, Mieneke van der Salm, Kallen Kentner, Stefan Raets, Kat Hooper, The G (from Nerds of a Feather), Martin Cahill, Ardi Alspach , and Sarah Chorn

I finished off December with two reviews at SFFWorld and began 2016 with one review. Here goes...

Just about a month ago, my review of Lila Bowen (AKA Delilah S. Dawson) Wake of Vultures, one of the most honest and raw (in an excellent way) fantasy novels I read:

At the start of the novel, Nettie is a slave in all but name to her foster parents, and she isn’t too happy with them or her situation. They treat her horribly and she has no recompense. When a strange creepy fellow arrives on their farm, and Nettie fights for her life until she manages to defeat the creature making it dissolve into black sand, Nettie has an awakening. She can see things that normal people are unable to see. She leaves her home to join the Double TK Ranch where she poses as a boy and her considerable skill at breaking horses gives her the acceptance, friendship, and value-recognition she needs and deserves. In parallel to that, a Skinwalker (shapechanger) named Coyote Dan befriends her and helps Nettie come to grips with her new supernatural life. She can see vampires, witches and all sort of supernatural and weird entities. Dan sets her up with the Texas Rangers who combat these baddies. When Nettie was first sucked into the weird world, she became entangled with Pia Mupitsi, a monstrous child thief and Coyote Dan acts as a mentor to her through much of the story as Nettie comes to grips with how she fits into this new world she sees.

Another element I appreciated about Wake of Vultures, and this goes hand in hand with the “realness” of the protagonist, is the honest, unwavering nature of the entire narrative. Bowen doesn’t shy away from the bloody scenes, the difficult character scenes, the challenging themes and topics. In short, Wake of Vultures is a brave, bold novel of human truth set against a dark, magical backdrop. It is perfectly paced and engaging from start to finish.

My last review of 2015 turned out to be for a book that immediately leapt to the top of my favorites list, the latest Expanse installment from James S.A. Corey, Nemesis Games:

Here in Nemesis Games, James S.A. Corey changes the script again, by breaking up the crew of the Rocinate into its individual parts: Alex Kamal, Naomi Nagata, Amos, and James Holden. Not only that, a good portion of the narrative takes place on Earth, so in many ways, Nemesis Games is a risk. Worry not, though: the powerful storytelling and engaging characterization from previous volumes are shining through as The Expanse continues to reshuffle the deck with each installment.

If finding a new habitable planet on the other side of giant portal (let alone 1,000 planets) wasn’t game changer enough, what Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck do to Earth is well…earth shattering. A terrorist attack, unfortunately, is something resonates all too well in this day and age (Goddamn it, as I write this there was a terrorist attack on a Mosque in California) and there is some very introspective and pointed charged discussion between Naomi and her former lover Marcus surrounding the attack (Chapter 33). It is one of those central moments in a novel where so much of the ideological confrontations throughout the series seem to be nearly exemplified in one conversation.

My first review of 2016 is also a debut, and an impressive one at that. Steal the Sky the first installment of Megan E. O’Keefe’s Scorched Continent series:

Steampunk and magic on the raw, dusty frontier provide the backdrop for Megan E. O’Keefe’s debut novel, Steal the Sky. Our protagonist, Detan Honding, is stuck in a backwater mining town with his sidekick Tibs. Their airship is in a state of disrepair, but he’s given an opportunity to steal a ship from a ruthless figure in the community. Because the job, of course, doesn’t go smoothly, Detan soon finds himself under the scrutiny of the woman who employed him – Watch Captain Ripka, a local gang boss – Commodore Thratia Ganal (with the endearing nickname of Throatslitter), and a doppel. What’s a doppel you ask? A doppel is an illusionist/shape-changer who can assume the visage of anybody, which makes it difficult for Detan to always know with whom he’s speaking. But our roguish hero didn’t get far in life by being slow-witted

Of course the natural comparison for Detan is Malcom Reynolds, he of Serenity/Firefly. O’Keefe evokes a similar feel of the raw frontier as did Whedon’s space-western. Where O’Keefe raises the stakes is the judicious inclusion of magic and enhancing the western setting with steampunk elements.