Sunday, November 06, 2011

Books in the Mail (W/E 2011-11-05)

Regular readers know the drill. It's Sunday, so I tell all of my millions...and millions of readers the books I received for review the previous week since I can't possible read all of them, I can at least mention them here.

The Ruined City by Paula Brandon (Spectra Trade Paperback 02/28/2012) –Sequel / Second in the series to / of Brandon’s debut The Traitor’s Daughter, which has been getting quite a nice buzz.

Paula Brandon’s epic and captivating trilogy continues as magic and mystery wreak havoc with the very fabric of existence.

Reality is wavering. Soon its delicate balance will shift and an ancient force will return to overwhelm the Veiled Isles. Now those with the arcane talent forge an uneasy alliance in hopes that their combined abilities are enough to avert an eerie catastrophe. Yet it may be too late. The otherworldly change has begun. The streets of the city are rife with chaos, plague, and revolt. And it is here that Jianna Belandor, once a pampered daughter of privilege, returns to face new challenges.

The dead walk the streets. The docile amphibian slaves of humanity have taken up arms. Jianna’s home lies in ruins. Her only happiness resides in her growing attraction to Falaste Rione, a brilliant nomadic physician whose compassion and courage have led him to take dangerous risks. Jianna, stronger and more powerful than she knows, has a role to play in the unfolding destiny of her world. But a wave of madness is sweeping across the land, and time is running out—even for magic.

Stands a Shadow (Heart of the World Book 2) by Col Buchanan (Tor Hardcover 01/08/2011) – Tor published this, the second book in the series, less than a year (and in the same calendar year) as the first one, which Mark reviewed last year.

In Farlander, the first book of the Heart of the World series, readers met Ash, an aging master assassin of the famed order of Roshun, and his apprentice Nico, a boy who always managed to be in the wrong place at the right time. Ash and Nico, one with failing health and the other with little training, were sent on a suicidal mission to fulfill a contract against the favored son of the Holy Matriarch, the ruler of Mann. The assassination of the Matriarch's son maintained the honor and reputation of the Roshun, but further destabilized a nation already beset by strife. For Ash, fulfilling the contract came at an enormous personal cost.

Now in Stands a Shadow, driven by grief and anger, Ash embarks on a journey that takes him through the Free Ports and towards the embattled city of Bar-Khos. He arrives at the city as the Holy Matriarch of Mann orders her forces to breach the walls of Bar-Khos and bring it under her control. Renouncing the ways of the Roshun, Ash disguises himself among the Mannian soldiers, determined to go to any lengths to have his revenge against the Matriarch. . . .

The Heart of the World series is an epic adventure that, through the lens of its vibrant and unique world and engaging characters, asks intriguing questions and illuminates the humanity at the core of both hero and villain. Stands a Shadow is the second book in the series.

Human for a Day by Martin H. Greenberg and Jennifer Brozek and (DAW Mass Market Paperback 12/06/2011) – The December monthly themed anthology from DAW contains 16 stories that ask the question: What is it to be Human? Some interesting names here: Ian Tregillis, Jim C. Hines, Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant) and Jay Lake, among others.

Here's an anthology that examines what it means to be human in all its positive and negative aspects. If you were an intelligent robot, would the opportunity to become human for a day be worth the risks? If a magic spell switched the bodies of a vampire and a teenage girl, would both savor the experience or search for a way to undo the enchantment? What tests would an angel face if transformed into a mortal for a day? These are just a few of the inventive stories-some humorous, some sad, many thought-provoking, and all unique-to be found in Human for a Day..

The Third Section (The Danilov Quintet #3) by Jasper Kent (Pyr , Trade Paperback 10/25/2011) – The venerable Hobbit has reviewed the second in the series, Thirteen Years Later, in 2010 and the first, Twelve, before that for SFFWorld. As of this blog post, Mr. Kent is participating in SFFWorld’s current Author Roundtable discussion. Here’s the back cover copy of the book:

Russia 1855. After forty years of peace in Europe, war rages. In the Crimea, the city of Sevastopol is besieged. In the north, Saint Petersburg is blockaded. But in Moscow there is one who needs only to sit and wait – wait for the death of an aging tsar, and for the curse upon his blood to be passed to a new generation.

As their country grows weaker, a man and a woman—unaware of the hidden ties that bind them—must come to terms with their shared legacy. In Moscow, Tamara Valentinovna Komarova uncovers a brutal murder and discovers that it not the first in a sequence of similar crimes, merely the latest, carried out by a killer who has stalked the city since 1812.

And in Sevastopol, Dmitry Alekseevich Danilov faces not only the guns of the combined armies of Britain and France, but must also make a stand against creatures that his father had thought buried beneath the earth, thirty years before.

Alien Proliferation (Kitty Kat: Alien Super-Being Exterminator Book 4) by Gini Koch (DAW Mass Market Paperback 12/06/2011) – Planetary Romance with an alien exterminator as the protagonist, this is the fourth in the series. Koch is churning these things out on a very impressive schedule.

Alien Super-Being Exterminator Kitty Katt is expecting her first baby. But the alien attacks are getting more dangerous, and now Kitty and her Alpha Centaurion husband, Jeff, have to find out who's behind the conspiracy to kill Kitty's secret agent mom and what caused Kitty's transformation into a superhuman-and they've got to do it all before the baby shower...

Endurance by Jay Lake (Tor Hardcover 11/08/2011) – Sequel to Lake’s popular Green… This is the finished copy of the ARC I received back in July.

Green is back in Copper Downs. Purchased from her father in sunny Selistan when she was four years old, she was harshly raised to be a courtesan, companion, and bedmate of the Immortal Duke of Copper Downs. But Green rebelled. Green killed the Duke, and many others, and won her freedom. Yet she is still claimed by the gods and goddesses of her world, and they still require her service. Their demands are greater than any duke’s could have been.

Godslayers have come to the Stone Coast, magicians whose cult is dedicated to destroying the many gods of Green’s world. In the turmoil following the Immortal Duke’s murder, Green made a God out of her power and her memories. Now the gods turn to her to protect them from the Slayers.

Jay Lake brings us an epic fantasy not "in the tradition of Tolkien," but, instead, sensual, ominous, shot through with the sweat of fear and the intoxication of power.

Scholar (Imager Portfolio) by (L.E. Modesitt, Jr. (Tor Hardcover 11/08/2011) – I’ve seen lots of good things about this series, though I have yet to read Modesitt, Jr. I was hoping to receive this book since it is set well before the events of the main series.

Hundreds of years before the time of Imager, the continent of Lydar is fragmented. Years of war have consolidated five nations into three—Bovaria, Telaryn, and Antiago. Quaeryt is a scholar and a friend of Bhayar, the young ruler of Telaryn. Worried about his future and the escalating intrigues in Solis, the capital city, Quaeryt persuades Bhayar to send him to Tilbor, conquered ten years earlier by Bhayar’s father, in order to see if the number and extent of occupying troops can be reduced so that they can be re-deployed to the border with warlike Bovaria.

Quaeryt has managed to conceal the fact that he is an imager, since the life expectancies of imagers in Lydar is short. Just before Quaeryt departs, Bhayar’s youngest sister passes a letter to the scholar-imager, a letter that could well embroil Quaeryt in the welter of court politics he had hoped to leave behind. On top of that, on his voyage and journey to Tilbor he must face pirates, storms, poisonings, attempted murder, as well as discovering the fact that he is not quite who he thought he was. To make it all worse, the order of scholars to which he belongs is jeopardized in more ways than one.

Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey (DAW, Mass Market Paperback 12/06/2011) – These Valdemar anthologies seems to becoming almost an annual thing, this is the second or third I’ve received since I’ve been doing these weekly round-up of books received.

In March 1987, a young author from Oklahoma published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. This modest book about a magical land called Valdemar was the beginning of a fantasy masterwork series that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles. Now readers can travel to the world of Valdemar with Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Fiona Patton, Rosemary Edghill, Judith Tarr, and others in these original stories, including an all-new novella from Mercedes Lackey..

Echoes of Betrayal (Book Three of Paladin’s Legacy ) by Elizabeth Moon (Del Rey Hardcover 02/21/2012) – I liked the first two in this series (Oath of Fealty and Kings of the North) and earlier this year I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) the first trilogy set in this world, The Deed of Paksenarrion) which is now in my Omnibus Hall of Fame [© PeterWilliam]. So yeah, I’m looking forward to this one.

The action continues fast and furious in this third installment of Elizabeth Moon’s celebrated return to the fantasy world of the paladin Paksenarrion Dorthansdotter. This award-winning author has firsthand military experience and an imagination that knows no bounds. Combine those qualities with an ability to craft flesh-and-blood characters, and the result is the kind of speculative fiction that engages both heart and mind.

All is not well in the Eight Kingdoms. In Lyonya, King Kieri is about to celebrate marriage to his beloved, the half-elf Arian. But uncanny whispers from the spirits of his ancestors continue to warn of treachery and murder. A finger of suspicion has been pointed toward his grandmother, the queen of the Ladysforest elves, and that suspicion has only intensified with time and the Lady’s inexplicable behavior. Clearly, she is hiding something. But what? And why?

Meanwhile, in Tsaia, the young king Mikeli must grapple with unrest among his own nobility over his controversial decision to grant the title and estates of a traitorous magelord to a Verrakaien who not only possesses the forbidden magic but is a woman besides: Dorrin, once one of Kieri’s most trusted captains. When renegade Verrakaien attack two of Dorrin’s squires, suspicion and prejudice combine to place Dorrin’s life at risk—and the king’s claim to the throne in peril.

But even greater danger is looming. The wild offspring of a dragon are on the loose, sowing death and destruction and upsetting the ancient balance of power between dragonkind, humans, elves, and gnomes. A collision seems inevitable. Yet when it comes, it will be utterly unexpected—and all the more devastating for it.


Kathryn said...

Nice one on the Modesitt book, Rob. I had to cancel my pre-order (I'll get it next year, I guess). I would think you'll be alright with it, although Lee generally says you should read each series in publication order rather than chronologically. Be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

As for Farlander, it's only the same calendar year for you, I believe ;) I had my copy - like Mark - last year. I've had the Tor UK edition of Stands a Shadow sat on my shelf for a couple of months, and still not got around to it. Julie Crisp (Buchanan's editor) said it's sort of a standalone in that you don't need to read Farlander. Also interested to hear what you think of it.

John Pitts recommended Jay Lake to me, so I'd be interested (AGAIN! :p) as to what you think of his books.

Liviu said...

Scholar is an excellent book if you like the modest but super competent hero novel; more of a fantasy thriller like the 3rd Rhenn novel, though it has some battles too and a standalone with great promise for the sequels

I loved Traitor's daughter so I will try to get an arc of Ruined City

Will try Endurance, while Stands a Shadow for now lingers unread (had the UK copy for a while) since despite that I liked Farlander, I am not really in the mood for it for now

RobB said...

I've read nothing by Modesitt, so this one might be the first.

I didn't read GREEEN by Lake, not did I read the first by Buchanan. In fact, the only series book out of those I received in which I read the previous books is the Elizabeth Moon novel.

Kathryn said...

Darn it, Rob :p If you were in the same country as me I might be able to lend all four books (3 x Imager Portfolio, Farlander) to you :p

RobB said...

I had all four at one point, but never got around to them. Or at least, I received books 2 and 3 of IMAGER for review by not the first. (This is par for the course it seems where I'll get later books in a series from a publisher but not the first or earlier). I also had Farlander and just didn't get around to it, but I passed the book along and don't have it any more. Considering Mark Yon reviewed it for SFFWorld, I pushed it way down the priority list in favor of reviewing something that hadn't been reviewed at SFFWorld.

That is the craziness that goes through my head when I decide what to read.