Sunday, November 08, 2009

Books in the Mail (W/E 11/08/2009)

Every time I get one of those really big week of arrivals here at the o' Stuff, I think I won't get a week more arrivals than said week. Well, I'm thinking that this week with all the books to arrive in my mailbox, in front of my garage and on my front porch.

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett (BantamSpectra, Trade Paperback 11/24/2009) – Becket is also known as Mark Anthony.

Galen Beckett weaves a dazzling spell of adventure and suspense in an evocative world of high magick and genteel society–a world where one young woman discovers that her modest life is far more extraordinary than she ever imagined.

Of the three Lockwell sisters–romantic Lily, prophetic Rose, and studious, book-loving Ivy–it’s Ivy, the eldest, who’s held the family together after their father’s silent retreat to the library upstairs. Everyone blames Mr. Lockwell’s malady on his magickal studies, but Ivy still believes–both in magick and in its power to bring her father back.

Yet it is not until Ivy takes a job with the reclusive Mr. Quent that she discovers the fate she shares with a secret society of highwaymen, revolutionaries, illusionists, and spies who populate the island nation of Altania. It’s a fate that will determine whether Altania faces a new dawn–or an everlasting night.

The Silver Skull (A Swords of Albion Book 1) by Mark Chadbourn (Pyr 11/3/2009) – The protagonist of this novel appeared in what I thought was the best story in The Solaris Book of New Fantasy:


Meet Will Swyfte - adventurer, swordsman, rake, swashbuckler, wit, scholar and the greatest of Walsingham's new band of spies. His exploits against the forces of Philip of Spain have made him a national hero, lauded from Carlisle to Kent. Yet his associates can barely disguise their incredulity - what is the point of a spy whose face and name is known across Europe?

But Swyfte's public image is a carefully-crafted façade to give the people of England something to believe in, and to allow them to sleep peacefully at night. It deflects attention from his real work - and the true reason why Walsingham's spy network was established.

A Cold War seethes, and England remains under a state of threat. The forces of Faerie have been preying on humanity for millennia. Responsible for our myths and legends, of gods and fairies, dragons, griffins, devils, imps and every other supernatural menace that has haunted our dreams, this power in the darkness has seen humans as playthings to be tormented, hunted or eradicated.

But now England is fighting back!

Magical defences have been put in place by the Queen's sorcerer Dr John Dee, who is also a senior member of Walsingham's secret service and provides many of the bizarre gadgets utilised by the spies. Finally there is a balance of power. But the Cold War is threatening to turn hot at any moment…

Will now plays a constant game of deceit and death, holding back theEnemy's repeated incursions, dealing in a shadowy world of plots and counter-plots, deceptions, secrets, murder, where no one… and no thing…is quite what it seems.

Plague Zone by Jeff Carlson (Ace, Mass Market Paperback 12/29/2009) – This would be the third book in Carlson’s series which began with Philip K. Dick-nominated The Plague War.

After surviving the machine plague and the world war that followed, nanotech researcher Ruth Goldman and ex-army ranger Cam Najarro discovered that a new contagion is about to be unleashed.

Red Inferno: 1945 by Robert Conroy (Ballantine Paperback 02/10/2010) – Another alternate history from the author of the previous 1942.

Total Oblivion, More or Less by Alan DeNiro (Bantam Spectra, Hardcover 11/24/2009) – DeNiro has been gaining a lot of positive acclaim for his fiction, this is his second novel.

“I remember the first time I began to understand that things might not be the same again.”

What’s a girl to do when her world is invaded by warriors from the ancient world? That’s the problem faced by sixteen-year-old Macy, who sees her quiet, normal life in suburban Minnesota turned upside down when things that should never be possible begin to transform the landscape all around her. The cable stops working, the phone lines die–and then the horsemen come to town. It’s not the same America that she last went to sleep in.

Ticketed to a refugee camp by the marauding Scythian armies, Macy and her family come to believe that heading down the Mississippi by boat is their one escape from the encroaching madness. But as they make their way downriver, Macy’s world just keeps getting stranger, and the wooden submarines, wasp-borne plagues, and talking dogs are the least of her problems: For in this upside-down world, old identities warp and family bonds are sorely tested.

Acclaimed writer Alan DeNiro has fashioned a completely original, utterly beguiling melding of the surreal and the everyday.

The Devil's Alphabet
by Del Rey, Trade Paperback 11/24/2009) – I still haven’t read Gregory’s acclaimed debut and this one looks just as good

From Daryl Gregory, whose Pandemonium was one of the most exciting debut novels in memory, comes an astonishing work of soaring imaginative power that breaks new ground in contemporary fantasy.

Switchcreek was a normal town in eastern Tennessee until a mysterious disease killed a third of its residents and mutated most of the rest into monstrous oddities. Then, as quickly and inexplicably as it had struck, the disease–dubbed Transcription Divergence Syndrome (TDS)–vanished, leaving behind a population divided into three new branches of humanity: giant gray-skinned argos, hairless seal-like betas, and grotesquely obese charlies.

Paxton Abel Martin was fourteen when TDS struck, killing his mother, transforming his preacher father into a charlie, and changing one of his best friends, Jo Lynn, into a beta. But Pax was one of the few who didn’t change. He remained as normal as ever. At least on the outside.

Having fled shortly after the pandemic, Pax now returns to Switchcreek fifteen years later, following the suicide of Jo Lynn. What he finds is a town seething with secrets, among which murder may well be numbered. But there are even darker–and far weirder–mysteries hiding below the surface that will threaten not only Pax’s future but the future of the whole human race.

The Infernal City : An Elder Scrolls Novel
by Greg Keyes (Del Rey, Trade Paperpack 11/24/2009) – I like Greg Keyes’s writing very much and from what I know, the setting in which this series takes place is rich.

Four decades after the Oblivion Crisis, Tamriel is threatened anew by an ancient and all-consuming evil. It is Umbriel, a floating city that casts a terrifying shadow–for wherever it falls, people die and rise again.

And it is in Umbriel’s shadow that a great adventure begins, and a group of unlikely heroes meet. A legendary prince with a secret. A spy on the trail of a vast conspiracy. A mage obsessed with his desire for revenge. And Annaig, a young girl in whose hands the fate of Tamriel may rest . . . .

Based on the award-winning The Elder Scrolls, The Infernal City is the first of two exhilarating novels following events that continue the story from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, named 2006 Game of the Year.

Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey (DAW, Mass Market Paperback 12/1/2009) – These Valdemar anthologies seems to becoming almost an annual thing.

In March 1987, a young author from Oklahoma published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. This modest book about a magical land called Vademar was the beginning of a fantasy masterpiece that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles. Now sixteen of today's hottest fantasy authors-including Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Fiona Patton, and Judith Tarr-visit the world of Valdemar, adding their own special touches.

The Conqueror's Shadow by Ari Marmell (Bantam Spectra Hardcover 02/23/2009) – Marmell has been in the genre for some time now, having published tie-in fiction for Magic: The Gathering as well as work on a number of manuals for Dungeons & Dragons/Wizards of the Coast. This is his first original novel and it sounds pretty interesting

They called him the Terror of the East. His past shrouded in mystery, his identity hidden beneath a suit of enchanted black armor and a skull-like helm, Corvis Rebaine carved a bloody path through Imphallion, aided by Davro, a savage ogre, and Seilloah, a witch with a taste for human flesh. No shield or weapon could stop his demon-forged axe. And no magic could match the spells of his demon slave, Khanda.
Yet just when ultimate victory was in his grasp, Rebaine faltered. His plans of conquest, born from a desire to see Imphallion governed with firmness and honesty, shattered. Amidst the chaos of a collapsing army, Rebaine vanished, taking only a single hostage—a young noblewoman named Tyannon—to guarantee his escape.

Seventeen years later, Rebaine and Tyannon are married, living in obscurity and raising their children, a daughter and a son. Rebaine has put his past behind him, given up his dreams of conquest. Not even news of an upstart warlord, Audriss, following his old path of conquest, can stir Rebaine to action.

Until his daughter is assaulted by Audriss’s goons.

Now, to rescue the country he once tried to conquer, Rebaine dons the armor of the Terror of the East again and seeks out his former allies. But Davro has become a peaceful farmer. Seilloah has no wish to leave her haunted forest home. And Khanda—to describe his feelings for his former master as undying hatred would be an understatement.

But even if he convinces his comrades to join him, Rebaine faces a greater challenge: Does he dare to reawaken the part of him that gloried in cruelty, blood, and destruction? With the safety of his family at stake, can he dare not to?

Star Wars Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth by Karen Miller (Del Rey/Star Wars Books Trade Paperback 02/23/2010) – Miller churns out novels like a machine, this is her second Star Wars novel and seventh novel over the past two years.

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are on a secret mission to one of the many worlds caught in the middle of the struggle between the Republic and the Separatists. A pastoral planet, Lanteeb wants only to be left alone to survive -- but it is the source of what could be one of the most devastatingly destructive weapons ever. If this potential weapon were to fall into the hands of the Separatists, uncounted worlds would fall. But should the Republic succeed in destroying it first, one world that needs it to survive will be annihilated. A frightening dilemma that Obi-Wan and Anakin will have to untangle, if they can get in and out of the occupied planet alive...

Oath of Fealty (The Chronicles of Paksenarrion’s World) by Elizabeth Moon (Del Rey, Hardcover 03/16/2009) – Moon’s Deeds of Paksennarrion is very highly acclaimed and this is the authors first novel in that world in a very long time. This novel seems to stand on it's own, so I'll probably be diving into it at some point.

When the paladin Paksenarrion saved Kieri Phelan from traitorous attack on his way to the throne of Lyonya, it seemed her work was done. Lyonya would once more have a healthy king whose taig-sense would sustain the alliance of elves and humans in this strange land. But a paladin's intervention always means change--and change sweeps through the world in the wake of her great deeds. Who will take over Kieri's former realm? What will happen to those who opposed him? From Girdish yeoman to mercenary veteran, from peasant to king, from the Eight Kingdoms of the north to the Guild League cities of the south, no one escapes the challenges--and opportunities--of this tumultuous period. Those who expected to spend the rest of their lives in the same familiar place or position must cope with these changes, or in failure contribute to
the chaos.

Helfort's War Book 3: The Battle of Devastation Reef by Graham Sharp Paul (Del Rey, Mass Market 11/24/2009) – This is the third book in a Military SF series and I haven’t read the first two books.

If he survives, hell just may freeze over.

The savage Hammer Worlds are not only near invincible but almost certain to win their war to crush the Federated Worlds and control humanspace–unless the Feds can find and destroy their secret antimatter warhead facility.

Only dreadnoughts, the lone Federated ships able to withstand antimatter missile attacks, can do the job, and only Lieutenant Michael Helfort has the skill to lead them. But skill may not be enough, because Helfort is more than the newly appointed captain: He’s a hero, and this means that his own senior officers want him to fail–and that the enemy’s kingpin wants him dead.

Helfort’s early victories merely intensify everyone’s determination. No action is too low, no price too high, to bring him down–with treachery, or betrayal, or an offer he can’t refuse, even if it means selling out his own side.

Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword of Avalon by Diana L. Paxson (Roc, Hardcover 12/1/2009) – …and the saga of Bradley’s Avalon continues….

Marion Zimmer Bradley's legendary saga of Avalon's extraordinary women continues with a tale of fiery visions, a lost king, and a forthcoming destiny...

Epic in its sweep and peopled by the remarkable women who have always inhabited Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword of Avalon expands the legendary saga that has enchanted millions of readers over the years and is sure to please Bradley's loyal readership and anyone who loves wonderfully told stories of history, myth, and fantasy.

A boy raised in secret after traitors kill his parents will return to Avalon-and when he does, he'll be faced with a formidable task: to prove his worth as a son of the kings and priestesses of his land and lead his followers to victory, wielding the newly-forged sword Excalibur..

Spells of the City by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg (DAW, Mass Market Paperback 12/29/2009) – The December monthly DAW anthology focuses on the magic in everyday cities

Venture into Spells of the City, where a troll may be your toll collector on the George Washington Bridge...Harry the Book will be happy to place your best in a spellbinding alternative New York...a gargoyle finds himself left to a lonely rooftop existence when he's forced to live by his creator's rules...and leprechauns must become bank robbers to keep up with the demand for their gold.

Liberating Atlantis by Harry Turtledove (Roc, Hardcover 12/1/2009) – Turtledove’s third book in his Atlantis alternate history series..

"The maven of alternate history" (San Diego Union- Tribune) continues his epic tale of Atlantis.

Frederick Radcliff is a descendant of the family that founded Atlantis's first settlement, and his grandfather Victor led the army against England to win the nation's independence. But he is also a black slave, unable to prove his lineage, and forced to labor on a cotton plantation in the southern region of the country.

Frederick feels the color of his skin shouldn't keep him from having the same freedoms his ancestors fought and died for. So he becomes the leader of a revolutionary army of slaves determined to free all of his brethren across Atlantis....

Confessions of a Demon by S.L. Wright (Roc, Mass Market Paperback 12/01/2009) – Demon/vampire? Check. Scantily clad shapely woman dressed in leather on the cover? Check. Visible midriff on said woman? Check. Visible tattoo on said woman? Check.

After accidentally stealing the life force of a dying demon, Allay became the only human-demon hybrid in existence. Demons feed on human emotions, so Allay decided the safest way to satisfy this need-and still retain some semblance of her humanity-was to open a bar. Here she can drink from, and ease, her patrons' pain, which has helped her to stay under the demon radar...until now.

When Allay is attacked and nearly killed by another demon, a human comes to her rescue. Theo Ram is tall, handsome, and mortal-and Allay feels a connection to him she didn't think she'd ever know. But that bond is tested when the demon community in New York begins to rise up, and two opposing clans fight for power. Now Allay is caught in the middle, and she must decide where her loyalties lie.

The Sapphire Sirens by John Zakour (DAW, Mass Market Paperback 12/1/2009) – Zakour’s humorous, pulpy future sf adventure-caper series continues. Very consistently at that, he seems to churn them out once per year.

Zach Johnson, the world's last freelance detective, has been man-napped by the beautiful sapphire-haired Amazon Kiana. She's brought him to her home island of Lantis-where the women dominate men with their words-to discover who killed her mother, the Queen. But to save the day this time, Zach and his holographic A.I. sidekick HARV have to tangle with not just one gorgeous superwoman, but four. Each of Kiana's three sisters could have the motive and the means to pull off the crime-and now that you mention it, Kiana could too...

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