Sunday, July 17, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-07-16)

A big week of releases, with quite a few of the late July/August releases from Del Rey and Spectra, as well as the August releases from Black Library and the Penguin imprints, and a couple from the fine folks at Pyr

It's been a couple of months, so 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 (i.e. from "this book holds ZERO appeal for me" to "I cannot WAIT to read this book yesterday").


Firestorm (Destroyermen Book 6) by Taylor Anderson (Roc Hardcover 10/01/2010) – I’ve read and enjoyed the first trilogy (Into the Storm, Crusade, and Maelstrom) and recently read the fourth (Distant Thunders) which goes to show that Anderson is really steaming along in this series.

"I cannot recommend Taylor Anderson too highly." -David Weber, author of Out of the Dark

Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy and the crew of the USS Walker find themselves caught between the nation they swore to defend and the allies they promised to protect. For even as the Allies and the Empire of New Britain Isles stand united against the attacks of both the savage Grik and the tenacious Japanese, the "Holy Dominion"-a warped mixture of human cultures whose lust for power overshadows even the Grik-is threatening to destroy them both with a devastating weapon neither can withstand.


Real Vampires Don't Wear Size Six (Real Vampires Book Seven) by Gerry Bartlett (Pyr, Trade Paperback 06/19/2011) – Seventh book in a series that (based on my impression of the cartoonish cover) combines paranormal romance, chick lit and humor. I think I’ll pass.


After Glory St. Clair kicked out the demon that had set up shop in her body, she had a serious fallout with longtime lover Jeremy Blade. But before Glory can win him back, she has some issues of the hellish variety to deal with.

When Lucifer himself offers Glory the ultimate temptation-work for the devil and he'll make her a size six-the curvy vampire's not sure if she can resist. But what Glory does know is that somehow, she's going to get back the man she loves and show everyone that real vampires always have more to love.



Working Stiff (Revivalist #1) by Rachel Caine (Roc Mass Market Paperback 07/05/2011) – A new Paranormal/Urban fantasy series from the author of the Weather Warden series.

What if death could be cured by a drug? What if you needed that drug every day ... or death would reclaim you? It’s not hypothetical to Bryn Davis. It’s her so-called life.

Bryn Davis was killed on the job after discovering her bosses were selling a drug designed to resurrect the dead. Now, revived by that same drug, she becomes an undead soldier in a corporate war to take down the very pharmaceutical company responsible for her new condition....



The Magician King by Lev Grossman (Viking Hardcover 08/09/2011) – I LOVED The Magicians when it published two years ago and thought it one of the best books of 2009. Although it ended with a fair sense of closure, there was definitely room for more story in the world and with the characters Grossman created.

Return to Fillory in the riveting sequel to The New York Times bestseller and literary phenomenon of 2009—The Magicians.

The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges.

Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent's house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.

The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the modern heir to C.S. Lewis, and the cutting edge of literary fantasy.


Steelhands by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett (Bantam Spectra Hardcover 08/02/2011) – This is the fourth novel set in the author team’s in a “magicpunk” fantasy series featuring dragons made of magic and mechanics. The author team impressively jumped from trade paperback to hardcover with this volume. I’ll say this for their books, the cover designs are awesome.

With Havemercy, Shadow Magic, and Dragon Soul, the acclaimed writing team of Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett has fused magic and technology into something that can only be termed “magicpunk.” Their distinctive style, featuring a chorus of quirky first-person narrators and brilliantly sophisticated world-building, has won these young writers the plaudits of fans and critics.

In the Volstov capital of Thremedon, Owen Adamo, the hard-as-nails ex–Chief Sergeant of the Dragon Corps, learns that Volstov’s ruler, the Esar, has been secretly pursuing the possibility of resurrecting magically powered sentient robot dragons—even at the risk of igniting another war. That Adamo will not allow. Though he is not without friends—Royston, a powerful magician, and Balfour, a former corpsman—there is only so much Adamo and his allies can do. Adamo has been put out to pasture, given a professorship at the University. Royston, already exiled once, dares not risk the Esar’s wrath a second time. And Balfour, who lost both hands in the climactic battle of the war, is now a diplomat who spends most of his time trying to master his new hands—metal replacements that operate on the same magical principles as the dragons and have earned him an assortment of nicknames of which “Steelhands” is the least offensive.

But sometimes help comes where you least expect it. In this case, from two first-year university students freshly arrived in Thremedon from the country: Laurence, a feisty young woman whose father raised her to be the son he never had, and Toverre, her fiancé, a brilliant if neurotic dandy who would sooner share his wife-to-be’s clothes than her bed. When a mysterious illness strikes the first-year students, Laurence takes her suspicions to Adamo—and unwittingly sets in motion events that will change Volstov forever.


Prince of Thorns (Book One of The Broken Empire) by Mark Lawrence (Hardcover 08/2/2011 Ace) – This is both Lawrence’s debut novel and the first of a trilogy, which has been generating a fair amount of pre-publication buzz. Mark has been visiting the SFFWorld forums on and off for the past few months.

Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother's tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that's true enough, but there's something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse."

Once a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg's bleak past has set him beyond fear of any man, living or dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.
The thorns taught him a lesson in blood...

The Prince of Thorns is the first volume in a powerful new epic fantasy trilogy, original, absorbing and challenging. Mark Lawrence’s debut novel tells a tale of blood and treachery, magic and brotherhood and paints a compelling and brutal, sometimes beautiful, picture of an exceptional boy on his journey toward manhood and the throne.


The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod (Pyr Tradet Paperback 09/20/2011) – MacLeod is one of those British Writers who exploded with a raft of books about a decade ago. This is a switch from his usual Space Opera flavored fare and again, a nice job of Pyr bringing a book published in the UK a couple of years ago to US readers.

There is no such place as Krassnia. Lucy Stone should know—she was born there. In that tiny, troubled region of the former Soviet Union, revolution is brewing. Its organizers need a safe place to meet, and where better than the virtual spaces of an online game? Lucy, who works for a start-up games company in Edinburgh, has a project that almost seems made for the job: a game inspired by The Krassniad, an epic folk tale concocted by Lucy’s mother, Amanda, who studied there in the 1980s. Lucy knows Amanda is a spook. She knows her great-grandmother Eugenie also visited the country in the ’30s, and met the man who originally collected Krassnian folklore and who perished in Stalin’s terror. As Lucy digs up details about her birthplace to slot into the game, she finds the open secrets of her family’s past, the darker secrets of Krassnia’s past—and hints about the crucial role she is destined to play in The Restoration Game. . . .

Combining international intrigue with cutting-edge philosophical speculation, romance with adventure, and online gaming with real-life consequence, The Restoration Game delivers as science fiction and as a sharp take on our present world from the viewpoint of a complex, engaging heroine who has to fight her way through a maze of political and family manipulation to take control of her own life.


Ghosts of War (The Ghost #2) by George Mann (Pyr , Trade Paperback 07/26/2010) – Second in Mann’s novels which combines superhero/steampunk, evoking The Spirit and reminds me of The Gray Ghost from the great Batman: Animated Series from the 90s.

NEW YORK CITY IS BEING PLAGUED BY A PACK OF FEROCIOUS BRASS RAPTORS...

...strange, skeletonlike creations with batlike wings that swoop out of the sky, attacking people and carrying them away into the night. The Ghost has been tracking these bizarre machines, and is close to finding their origin: a deranged military scientist who is slowly rebuilding himself as a machine.

However, this scientist is not working alone, and his scheme involves more than a handful of abductions. He is part of a plot to escalate the cold war with Britain into a full-blown conflict, and he is building a weapon—a weapon that will fracture dimensional space and allow the monstrous creatures that live on the other side to spill through. He and his coconspirators—a cabal of senators and businessmen who seek to benefit from the war—intend to harness these creatures and use them as a means to crush the British.

But the Ghost knows only too well how dangerous these creatures can be, and the threat they represent not just to Britain, but the world. The Ghost's efforts to put an end to the conspiracy bring him into an uneasy alliance with a male British spy, who is loose in Manhattan protecting the interests of his country. He also has the unlikely assistance of Ginny, a drunken ex-lover and sharpshooter, who walks back into his life, having disappeared six years earlier in mysterious circumstances.

While suffering from increasingly lucid flashbacks to WWI, the Ghost is subjected to rooftop chases, a battle with a mechanized madman, and the constant threat of airborne predators, while the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Can he derail the conspiracy and prevent the war with the British from escalating beyond control?


Defenders of Ulthuan by Graham McNeill (Black Library, Mass Market Paperback 09/02/2011) – One of McNeill’s early forays into the Warhammer Old Ages/Fantasy reprinted with flashy new cover art to coincide with the sequel.

The high elves have long been the protectors of the Warhammer World, and their homeland of Ulthuan is known for the powerful magic that surrounds it. At the heart of Ulthuan lies a magical vortex, and the mages who created it remain trapped in a space out of time, endlessly working the spell that keeps the world from becoming a seething Realm of Chaos.

When Ulthuan comes under attack from the forces of Chaos and dark elves led by the Witch King and the hag sorceress, Morathi, the high elves must hold firm or face disastrous consequences.

In Defenders of Ulthuan Graham McNeill tells the epic tale of the struggle between good and evil.


Sons of Ellyrion by Graham McNeill (Black Library, Mass Market Paperback 09/02/2011) – Speaking of the sequel to Defenders of Ulthuan

Ulthuan is a land at the verge of destruction. At Lothern, a fell army marches against the elven defenders of Prince Imrik and Prince Tyrion. In Averlorn, two brothers fight for forgiveness and their right to defend their people. But at Tor Elyr, the conflict will be lost and won. The druchii army, led by Morathi and Issyk Kul, battles the gathered might of the high elves in a vast, destructive conflict. But Morathi has even grander plans than this – to destroy the vortex that holds Ulthuan together, plunging the island into a nightmare domain of Chaos. The noble elves must overcome their dark cousins, or else face the end of their race.

The Cold Commands (A Land Fit for Heroes #2) by Richard K. Morgan (Del Rey Hardcover 10/11/2010) – This is one of the three or four most anticipated fantasy novels of 2011 for a lot of people. The first book, The Steel Remains, was reviewed by both myself and Hobbit a couple of years ago.

With The Steel Remains, award-winning science fiction writer Richard K. Morgan turned his talents to sword and sorcery. The result: a genre-busting masterwork hailed as a milestone in contemporary epic fantasy. Now Morgan continues the riveting saga of Ringil Eskiath—Gil, for short—a peerless warrior whose love for other men has made him an outcast and pariah.

Only a select few have earned the right to call Gil friend. One is Egar, the Dragonbane, a fierce Majak fighter who comes to respect a heart as savage and loyal as his own. Another is Archeth, the last remaining daughter of an otherworldly race called the Kiriath, who once used their advanced technology to save the world from the dark magic of the Aldrain—only to depart for reasons as mysterious as their arrival. Yet even Egar and Archeth have learned to fear the doom that clings to their friend like a grim shadow . . . or the curse of a bitter god.

Now one of the Kiriath’s uncanny machine intelligences has fallen from orbit—with a message that humanity faces a grave new danger (or, rather, an ancient one): a creature called the Illwrack Changeling, a boy raised to manhood in the ghostly between-world realm of the Grey Places, home to the Aldrain. A human raised as one of them—and, some say, the lover of one of their greatest warriors—until, in a time lost to legend, he was vanquished. Wrapped in sorcerous slumber, hidden away on an island that drifts between this world and the Grey Places, the Illwrack Changeling is stirring. And when he wakes, the Aldrain will rally to him and return in force—this time without the Kiriath to stop them.

An expedition is outfitted for the long and arduous sea journey to find the lost island of the Illwrack Changeling. Aboard are Gil, Egar, and Archeth: each fleeing from ghosts of the past, each seeking redemption in whatever lies ahead. But redemption doesn’t come cheap these days. Nor, for that matter, does survival. Not even for Ringil Eskiath. Or anyone—god or mortal—who would seek to use him as a pawn.


Path of the Seer (Eldar/Warhammer 40,000) by Gav Thorpe (Black Library Mass Market Paperback 07/07/2011) – Second in a mini-series set within the vast WH40K universe, focusing on the mysterious Eldar.

The ancient eldar are a mysterious race and each devotes their life to a chosen path that will guide their actions and decide their fate. Thirianna abandons her simple existence to embark upon the mysterious Path of the Seer. She will tread a dark and dangerous road that leads her to the other realm of the warp, where daemons are made flesh and nightmares are manifest, for only there can she realise her psychic abilities. After unleashing her powers in battle and communing with the spirits of her craft world, Thirianna turns her skills to discerning the future amidst the myriad strands of fate. Her visions reveal a great threat descending on Alaitoc, and both the living and the dead will march to war to defend it.

Imperial Glory by Richard Williams (Black Library, Mass Market Paperback 09/02/2011) – Space marines vs. space orks – sounds like a typical day in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

Tired and broken by war, the men of the Brimlock Eleventh Imperial Guard are a force on the verge of collapse. Having been stretched across the galaxy by their loyalty to the Emperor, they are presented with one final battle that will allow them reward they all seek: to colonise the distant world of Vorr and live out the rest of their days in peace. All that stands in their way is a force of savages – a plague of feral orks that has spread across the planet. But can the Brimlock’s battered bodies and minds hold up to this greenskin invasion?

1 comment:

criticalmark said...

Heh - 'Mark has been visiting the SFFWorld forums on and off for the past few months' turns out to be 127 posts over the course of 14 months. Who knew?