Sunday, September 25, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-09-24)

Another week, another batch of books for review here at the offices of the o' Stuff. This week brings me the October mass market releases from DAW plus some final copies of ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) I received in the past as well as late books (concluding or middle books) in series for which I haven't received previous installments.

Magebane by Lee Arthur Chane (DAW Mass Market Paperback 10/04/2011) – “Lee Arthur Chane” is a (fairly) open pseudonym for SF writer Edward Willett. Very often, when writers want to try something different they’ll write under a different name in order for a fresh start (basically from the public notions and more importantly Bookscan/bookstore tracking) in a different genre. I think I will give this one a try, since Willett’s SF novels looked interesting and there isn’t nearly enough standalone fantasy on the shelves, which this seems to be.

The kingdom of Evrenfels is the last bastion of magic in the world, cut off from the outside by the Great Barrier through which magic cannot penetrate.

For centuries, the Magelords have ruled their kingdom with an iron hand while beyond the Barrier, magic and the Magelords have faded into an almost forgotten myth, replaced by low-level technology. Now all of that is about to change, for one man, Lord Falk, the Minister of Safety—the most powerful of the Magelords—has plans to assassinate the king and his heir, to break down the Barrier, and to conquer the lands beyond.

All it will take is the lives of two innocents: Prince Karl and Falk’s own ward, a girl named Brenna, a small sacrifice to Lord Falk’s way of thinking. One is the heir and the other is the legendary Magebane, anathema to all magic.

But there is one thing Lord Falk hasn’t foreseen, one thing that could unbalance all of his plans—the unexpected arrival of a young man whose airship suddenly comes sailing over the top of the Great Barrier …

Undead and Undermined (A Wyndham Werewolves Novel) by MaryJanice Davidson (Berkeley Sensation, Trade Paperback 10/04/2011) – A spin-off novel from the popular vampire series by Davidson

The howlingly good spin-off of the Undead series from the New York Times bestselling author.

Rachel, a werewolf/accountant, is asked to keep one eye on Vampire Queen Betsy Taylor and the other peeled for a rogue werewolf who's itching to start a war. But her attention is mostly on a sexy, mysterious stranger she wishes she could trust.

The Death Cure (Maze Runner Series #3) by James Dashner (Random House Teens Hardcover 10/11/2011) – Final book of a trilogy (and the only book of the series I’ve received). The dystopian series seems well-received and will likely appeal to readers/fans of The Hunger Games.

Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test. What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.

Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

Intrigues (Collegium Chronicles #2) by Mercedes Lackey (DAW Mass Market Paperback 10/04/2011) – Mass Market re-issue of the second novel in sub-series of Lackey’s popular Valdeamar books.

Mags was an orphan and slave of ‘bad blood’ who toiled a gem mine all his young life. He would have died before adulthood, had he not been Chosen and taken to Haven to be trained in the new Herald Collegium.

Now, Mags was never hungry and never cold. He slept in a real bed in his own room and, most importantly, he had Dallen, who was like another part of himself. And yet, aside from Lena and Bear, both loners like he was, he couldn’t relate to most of the Herald, Healer, or Bard trainees. He was the only trainee who came from what—to the others—was unimaginable poverty. There was another factor that contributed to Mag’s isolation. Foreign assassins, masquerading at court as envoys were discovered. As they fled from the Guard, one of them seemed to “recognize” Mags. Now, Mags was an object of suspicion.

He had always been curious about his parents, but after the incident it became urgent for Mags to discover exactly who his parents were. And at Haven, he had access to the extensive Archives. Poring through the Archives, he got only incomplete information: his parents, found dead in a bandit camp, had been two of a number of hostages, some of whom had survived. The survivors had told the Guard that Mags’ parents spoke a language that no one understood or recognized.

This information did not help, for the ForeSeers had been having visions of the king’s assassination by “one of the foreign blood”. Some had even Seen Mags with blood on his hands. How could Mags defend himself against a crime that hadn’t yet been committed?

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.

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.

Ganymede (Clockwork Century Series #4) by Cherie Priest (Tor , Trade Paperback 10/11/2011) – The fourth book in Preist’s most popular and acclaimed series, which is steampunk. I haven’t read any of the previous installments, but this one seems to be standalone yet connected to the others..

The air pirate Andan Cly is going straight. Well, straighter. Although he’s happy to run alcohol guns wherever the money’s good, he doesn’t think the world needs more sap, or its increasingly ugly side-effects. But becoming legit is easier said than done, and Cly’s first legal gig—a supply run for the Seattle Underground—will be paid for by sap money.

New Orleans is not Cly’s first pick for a shopping run. He loved the Big Easy once, back when he also loved a beautiful mixed-race prostitute named Josephine Early—but that was a decade ago, and he hasn’t looked back since. Jo’s still thinking about him, though, or so he learns when he gets a telegram about a peculiar piloting job. It’s a chance to complete two lucrative jobs at once, one he can’t refuse. He sends his old paramour a note and heads for New Orleans, with no idea of what he’s in for—or what she wants him to fly.

But he won’t be flying. Not exactly. Hidden at the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain lurks an astonishing war machine, an immense submersible called the Ganymede. This prototype could end the war, if only anyone had the faintest idea of how to operate it…. If only they could sneak it past the Southern forces at the mouth of the Mississippi River… If only it hadn’t killed most of the men who’d ever set foot inside it.

But it’s those “if onlys” that will decide whether Cly and his crew will end up in the history books, or at the bottom of the ocean.

Vamparazzi (Esther Diamond #4) by Laura Resnick (DAW, Mass Market Paperback 10/04/2011) –Wow, Resnick has really banged out these books fairly quickly, this being the fourth (three in the past couple of years).

That's what Manhattan's resident mystical mage, Dr. Maximillian Zadok, explains to struggling actress Esther Diamond when the deadly world of real vampires intrudes on The Vampyre, an off-Broadway play in which Esther plays a vampire victim who's bitten nightly by a co-star who claims to be a real-unlive creature-of-the-night.

After a grisly murder casts a pall over The Vampyre, Max and Esther confront a dizzying array of suspects among the vamparazzi—the rival factions of vampire groupies and anti-vampire obsessives who surround the theatre every night. Meanwhile, Esther's almost would-be boyfriend, Detective Connor Lopez, fears that she may be the killer's next target!

Esther's quest to thwart Evil and ensure a decent run for her play ultimately brings her into conflict with real vampires, vamparazzi, and an ancient cult of vampire hunters with whom her friend Max has a checkered past. Her adventure takes her into the forgotten tunnels and vaults beneath New York City, where Esther learns that having your neck gnawed upon by a bloodthirsty prince of the night isn't nearly as much fun as she makes it look onstage.

No comments: