Sunday, March 08, 2009

Books in the Mail (W/E 03/07/2009)

Everything that arrived this week is a repeat. That is, I received ARCs of these titles in the past, I think that's a first for these weekly round ups.

Outcast: (Fate of the Jedi Book One) by Aaron Allston (Hardcover 3/24/2009 Del Rey). This is the “final” copy of the ARC I received back in January. I’ve got to get through the nine (!) books in the Legacy of the Force before thinking about this one. Either way, the Star Wars Expanded Universe franchise rolls on strongly…

After a violent civil war, and the devastation wrought by the now-fallen Darth Caedus, the Galactic Alliance is in crisis -- and in need. From all corners, politicians, power brokers, and military leaders converge on Coruscant for a crucial summit to restore order, negotiate differences, and determine the future of their unified worlds. But even more critical, and far more uncertain, is the future of the Jedi.

In a shocking move, Chief of State Natasi Daala orders the arrest of Luke Skywalker for failing to prevent Jacen Solo's turn to the dark side and subsequent reign of terror as a Sith Lord. But it's only the first blow in an anti-Jedi backlash fueled by a hostile government and suspicious public. When Jedi Knight Valin Horn, scion of a politically influential family, suffers a mysterious psychotic break and becomes a dangerous fugitive, the Jedi become the target of a media-driven witch-hunt. Facing conviction on the charges, Luke has only one choice. He must strike a bargain with the calculating Daala: his freedom in exchange for his exile -- from Coruscant and from the Jedi Order.

Now, though forbidden to intervene in Jedi affairs, Luke is determined to keep grim history from being repeated. With his son, Ben, at his side, Luke sets out to unravel the shocking truth behind Jacen Solo's corruption and downfall. But the secrets he uncovers among the enigmatic Force mystics of the distant world Dorin may bring his quest -- and life as he knows it -- to a sudden end. And all the while, another Jedi Knight, consumed by the same madness as Valin Horn, is headed for Coruscant on a fearsome mission that could doom the Jedi Order . . . and devastate the entire galaxy.

Truancy: Origins by Isamu Fukui (Tor Hardcover 3/3/2009). This final book of the ARC I received in January. Origins is the prequel to the successful novel by the then teenaged Fukui. Truancy: Origins looks at two of the characters from the first novel, and how they came to be who there were in the dystopic totalitarian alternate future of Truancy.

Fifteen years ago, the Mayor of the Education City was presented with an unwelcome surprise by his superiors: twin six-month-old boys. As the Mayor reluctantly accepted the two babies, he had no way of knowing that they would change the city forever….

Raised in the comfort of the Mayoral mansion, Umasi and Zen are as different as two brothers can be. Umasi is a good student; Zen an indifferent one. They love their adoptive father, but in a city where education is absolute, even he cannot keep them sheltered from the harsh realities of the school system. But when they discover that their father is responsible for their suffering, affection turns to bitterness. Umasi and Zen are thrust onto two diverging paths. One will try to destroy the City. The other will try to stop him.

Duke Elric (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné: Volume 4) by Michael Moorcock (Del Rey Trade Paperback March 2009) – This is the fourth volume in Del Rey’s terrific looking repackaging of Moorcock’s iconic Anti-hero, Elric. Each volume has had a different artist, this one’s cover and interior is by Justin Sweet. There’s also an introduction by Michael Chabon. I’ve read most of the Elric stories in various forms, either in the Science Fiction Book Club omnibuses or the White Wolf versions.

Has there ever been a hero–or anti-hero–to match Elric of Melniboné, last emperor of an ancient civilization sunk into decadence and inhuman cruelty? Elric the albino, weary of life and enamored of death, bearer of the soul-devouring black sword Stormbringer, cursed to betray all he loves and to save that which he despises: In the unending battle between the forces of Law and Chaos, he is the wildest card of all.

Del Rey proudly presents the fourth in its definitive collection of stories featuring fantasy Grand Master Michael Moorcock’s greatest creation. Here is the full novel The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, the script of the DC comic Duke Elric, the new story “The Flaneur des Arcades de l’Opera,” essays by Moorcock and others, and a selection of classic artwork.

Lavishly illustrated by Justin Sweet, with a Foreword by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon, Duke Elric is essential for all fans of the fantastic.

The Twilight Herald (Book Two of the Twilight Reign) by Tom Lloyd. This is a “final” copy of the ARC I received in early January. Since then, I tried reading the first book, The Stormcaller, but the book just didn’t work for me. That said, this book looks great in the finished product.

Now the eyes of the land turn to the minor city of Scree, which could soon be obliterated as the new Lord of the Farlan flexes his powers. Scree is suffering under an unnatural summer drought and surrounded by volatile mercenary armies that may be its only salvation.

This is a strange sanctuary for a fugitive abbot to flee to – but he is only the first of many to be drawn there. Kings and princes, lords and monsters, all walk the sun-scorched streets. As elite soldiers clash after dark and actors perform cruel and subversive plays that work their way into the hearts of the audience, the city begins to tear itself apart – yet even chaos can be scripted.

There is a malevolent will at work in Scree, one that has a lesson for the entire land: nations can be manipulated, prophecies perverted and Gods denied. Nothing lies beyond the reach of a shadow, and no matter how great a man’s power, there some things he cannot be protected from.

Midwinter by Matthew Sturges. Sturges has been making a good name for himself the past few years in comic book circles, co writing Jack of Fables and The House of Mystery with Bill Willingham. The book on my doorstop is the final copy of the ARC I received in January.

Mauritaine was a war hero, a captain in the Seelie Army. Then he was accused of treason and sentenced to life without parole at Crere Sulace, a dark and ancient prison in the mountains, far from the City Emerald. But now the Seelie Queen – Regina Titania herself – has offered him one last chance to redeem himself, an opportunity to regain his freedom and his honor.

Unfortunately, it’s a suicide mission, which is why only Mauritaine and the fe w prisoners he trusts enough to accompany him, would even dare attempt it: Raieve, beautiful and harsh, an emissary from a foreign land caught in the wrong place at the wrong time; Perrin Alt, Lord Silverdun, a nobleman imprisoned as a result of political intrigues so Byzantine that not even he understands them; and Brian Satterly, a human physicist, apprehended searching for the human victims of the faery changeling trade.

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