Sunday, December 23, 2012

Books in the Mail (W/E 2012-12-22)

Some of the books I received this week, which are part of a series, had their previous installment appear just about exactly a year ago. What's most surprising about the standard three DAW mass market paperbacks in this usual spot of the month is that there's no themed anthology.

Throne of the Crescent Moon (Book I of The Crescent Moon Kingdoms) by Saladin Ahmed (DAW, Mass Market Paperback 12/31/2012) – Mass Market reissue of Ahmed’s stunning debut, which really impressed me, which “is a tightly packed sword and sorcery adventure that is great proclamation of a new voice in fantasy. I want to follow more adventures of Doctor Mahslood and his surrogate family, I want to see if the relationship between Zamia and Raseed grows and I want to learn more about the enigmatic Falcon Prince.”. For whatever reason, the publisher decided to pull the characters from the cover.

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron- fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings.

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, "the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat," just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame's family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter's path.

Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla's young assistant, is a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety. But even as Raseed's sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.

Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near- mythical power of the lion-shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man's title. She lives only to avenge her father's death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father's killer. Until she meets Raseed.

When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince's brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time-and struggle against their own misgivings-to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.

Luck of the Draw (Xanth #36) by Piers Anthony (Tor, Hardcover 12/24/2012) – What can I say about a book series, heavy on puns, that is now has three dozen installments in the sequence? Not much, at this point with Anthony’s Xanth novels you are either reading them or ignoring them. Lots of folks must be buying them if this is the 36th. Anthony is one of those “classic” fantasy authors I’ve never read

Bryce is summoned to Xanth as part of a wager between the Demons Earth and Xanth. To his surprise, he has left behind his home and family and eighty-year-old body forever, in exchange for youth and magic….and a quest. He must court and marry Princess Harmony, who is anything but willing to be courted!

Luck of the Draw is Anthony’s thirty-sixth pun-filled adventure in the magical land of Xanth.

Doctor Who: The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter (Ace Hardcover 12/31/2012) – The folks at BBC are getting some heavy hitters for these Doctor Who novels

From Stephen Baxter, master of science fiction and national bestselling author of Bronze Summer, comes an all-new Doctor Who adventure…

Resilience. Remembrance. Restoration.
Whatever the cost.

Hurtling through a vortex beyond time and space is a police box that’s not a police box. The TARDIS has carried the Doctor and his companions, Jamie and Zoe, to all sorts of places, but now, when they don’t want to go anywhere, the TARDIS makes a decision for them. Like it or not, they’re coming in for a landing, who knows where or when…

The Wheel. A ring of ice and metal turning around a moon of Saturn, home to a mining colony supplying a resource-hungry Earth. It’s a bad place to live—and a worse place to grow up.

The colony has been plagued by problems. Maybe it’s only a run of bad luck, but the equipment failures and thefts of resources have been increasing. And there are stories among the children of mysterious creatures glimpsed aboard the Wheel. Some of the younger workers are even refusing to go down into the warren-like mines any more.

And then one of them, surfing Saturn’s rings, saves an enigmatic blue box from destruction.

Once on the Wheel, the Doctor and his companions face a critical situation when they become suspected by some as the source of the ongoing sabotage.

They soon find themselves caught in a mystery that goes all the way back to the creation of the solar system. A mystery that could destroy the Wheel—and kill them all...

Doktor Glass by Thomas Brennan> (Ace, Trade Paperback 12/31/2012) – Steampunk supernatural mystery!

Here’s the snippet:

In an age of Zeppelins and gyroplanes, atomics and horseless carriages, the Transatlantic Span is the industrial marvel of the nineteenth century. A monumental feat of engineering, the steel suspension bridge stretches across the Atlantic from Liverpool to the distant harbor of New York City, supported by no less than seven hundred towers. But in the shadows of its massive struts, on the docks of the River Mersey, lies a faceless corpse…

Inspector Matthew Langton is still seized with grief when he thinks of Sarah, his late wife. Tortured by nightmares and afflicted by breathless attacks of despair and terror, he forces himself to focus on the investigation of the faceless man. The victim wears the uniform of the Transatlantic Span Company but bears the tattoos of the Boers—could there be a Boer conspiracy to assassinate Queen Victoria on the upcoming Inauguration Day of the Span?

But the truth, as it begins to emerge, is far more bizarre than a political coup. As additional victims turn up—each with strange, twin burn marks on their necks—Langton draws a connection between the dead man beneath the bridge and chilling rumors of the Jar Bars, soul snatchers who come under cover of night. Most frightening of all is the mythic and elusive Doktor Glass, who may not only be behind the illicit trade in souls…but who may hold the key to what happened to the inspector’s own beloved wife on her deathbed…

Dinosaur Thunder by James F. David (Tor, Hardcover 12/24/2012) – Interesting premise here for the second book in David’s series. This cover seems to be a homage to the Del Rey cover of James Hogan’s Inherit the Stars

Eighteen years ago, the prehistoric past collided with the present as time itself underwent a tremendous disruption, transporting huge swaths of the Cretaceous period into the twentieth century. Neighborhoods, towns, and cities were replaced by dense primeval jungles and modern humanity suddenly found itself sharing the world with fierce dinosaurs. In the end, desperate measures were taken to halt the disruptions and the crisis appeared to be over.
Until now.

New dinosaurs begin to appear, rampaging through cities. A secret mission to the Moon discovers a living Tyrannosaurus Rex trapped in an alternate timeline. As time begins to unravel once more, Nick Paulson, director of the Office of Security Science, finds a time passage to the Cretaceous period where humans, ripped from the comforts of the twenty-first century, are barely surviving in the past. Led by a cultlike religious leader, these survivors are at war with another sentient species descended from dinosaurs.
As the asteroid that ends the reign of dinosaurs rushes toward Earth, Nick and his allies must survive a war between species and save the future as we know it.

Dinosaur Thunder is a terrifying, futuristic thriller in the tradition of Michael Crichton and Douglas Preston.

The Dog in the Dark (The Thirteenth Novel of the Noble Dead) by Barb and J.C. Hendee (Roc, Hardcover 12/31/2012) – Another year passes, and almost exactly to the date, the prolific Hendees publish another installment in their Vampire Epic Fantasy saga. I’d wanted to read the first one for a while, but it keeps getting pushed lower on the virtual Mount Toberead.

Here’s the snippet:

The Noble Dead series has been hailed as “a crowd-pleasing mix of intrigue, epic fantasy, and horror.”* Now, national bestselling authors Barb and J.C. Hendee present the latest thrilling novel following the adventures of dhampir Magiere and half-elf Leesil…

Barely escaping the city of Calm Seatt—and the assassins hunting them—Magiere, Leesil, and the elven dog Chap sail south to continue their quest to find the powerful Orb of Air before their enemies do. But they are not alone, much to their frustration.

The aging elven assassin Brot’an has forced himself on them by offering his protection. Chap doesn’t believe this ruse, however, and seeks to uncover the assassin’s true agenda—as well as the cause of the secret civil war that has erupted into the open among Brot'an's people.

Meanwhile, Magiere struggles with her own dark nature, using Leesil’s love as an anchor to keep her grounded. For the personal price she paid to procure the Orb of Fire was more than she thought—and more than she wants to reveal to anyone.

But that is exactly what the cunning Brot’an wants to know. And he is willing to do whatever it takes—even if he must reveal his own dreaded secrets that may cost the entire party their lives…and their very souls.

*Publishers Weekly

The Ramal Extraction (Cutter’s Wars Book 1) by Steve Perry (Ace Mass Market Paperback 12/24/2012) – I read Perry’s Star Wars novel Shadows of the Empire years ago and remember enjoying it. This is the first of a new military SF series.

At the close of the 24th Century, a series of revolutions has caused the galaxy to descend into chaos. With the Galactic Union’s Army stretched thin, mercenary units have arisen for those who have the need—and the means—to hire them…

Captained by former Detached Guerrilla Forces Colonel R.A. “Rags” Cutter, the Cutter Force Initiative is one of the best. A specialized team consisting of both aliens and humans, the Cutters offer services ranging from fight training and protection to extraction and assassination—as long as the target deserves it and their employer makes good on payday.

When they’re hired to find and rescue Indira, the soon-to-be-married daughter of the Rajah Ramal of New Mumbai, the teams’ first task is to identify the kidnapper. The obvious suspects are insurgents who want to overthrow the rajanate, but as other forces enter the game and an assassination attempt is made on Ramal, the Cutters realize that their in-and-out extraction job is about to get a lot more interesting—and a lot more lethal…

Touch of the Demon (Kara Gillian, Book 5) by Diana Rowland (DAW Mass Market 12/31/2012)– Fifth in a series about vampire hunter on the police force. This is one of two ongoing series Rowland has with DAW.

Kara Gillian is in some seriously deep trouble.

She’s used to summoning supernatural creatures from the demon realm to our world, but now the tables have been turned and she’s the one who’s been summoned. Kara is the prisoner of yet another demonic lord, but she quickly discovers that she’s far more than a mere hostage. Yet waiting for rescue has never been her style, and Kara has no intention of being a pawn in someone else’s game.

There’s intrigue to spare as she digs into the origin of the demonic lords and discovers the machinations of humans and demons alike. Kara is shocked to discover that she has her own history in the demon realm, and that the ties between her and the demonic lords Rhyzkahl and Szerain go back farther than she could have ever imagined. But treachery runs rampant among all the lords, and she’s going to have to stay sharp in order to keep from being used to further their own agendas. The lords have a secret that dates back to earth’s ancient history, and it could have devastating repercussions for both worlds.

Yet more than anything else, Kara’s abilities as a homicide detective will be put to the test—because this time the murder she has to solve is her own.

The Griffin’s War (The Risen Sun Trilogy #1) by K.J. Taylor (Ace Mass Market Paperback 12/24/12) – First in a sequel trilogy to Taylor’s debut trilogy, The Fallen Moon, chronicling the further exploits of people bonded with Griffins

Laela Redguard was born with the black hair of the Northern kingdom and the blue eyes of the Southern people, forever marking her as a hated half-breed child of both. When her only family tie is severed, the fierce and strong-willed Laela decides to leave her adoptive father’s home in the hopes of finding acceptance in the North, where the ruthless King Arenadd and the dark griffin Skandar rule.

While Laela’s Northern features allow her to blend into the crowds of the King’s seat at Malvern, she cannot avoid falling victim to a pair of common thugs. When a stranger saves her life and gives her a place to stay, Laela is shocked to learn he is Arenadd himself—a man said to be a murderer who sold his soul to the Night God—the King without a heart.

Arenadd is unsure what compels him to help this girl, but there is something about her that seems familiar, something he cannot remember—something that may rise up to banish the darkness forever…

Skirmish (The House Wars Book 4) by Michelle West (DAW Mass Market Paperback 12/31/2012) – This is the fourth in her < House War, which is set in the same world as her Sacred Hunt duology and her six-book Sun Sword series.

Skirmish is the fourth novel in the long-awaited House War series. Set in the same rich fantasy universe as Michelle West’s Sacred Hunt duo logy and her six-volume Sun Sword series, the House War novels recount the events leading to the momentous battle between the demonic minions of the Lord of the Hells and the defenders of the Essalieyan Empire — a realm with a long and bloody history. The empire is ruled by the Twin Kings, sons of the gods. It is also controlled by The Ten, the heads of the most influ­ential Houses in Aver­alaan, the capital of the Empire.

But The House War focuses not only on the larger war but also, and more impor­tantly, on the campaign to control the most powerful of the ruling Houses in the Essalieyan Empire – House Terafin.

As Skirmish opens, Amarais ATerafin – The Terafin – lies dead, assas­si­nated by a demon at the very moment that Jewel ATerafin returns from the war in the South, appearing as if out of thin air, having traveled by hidden paths. Jewel is accom­panied by her domicis Avandar, known as the Warlord, by Lord Celle­riant of the Winter Queen’s court, and she rides on the back of a giant stag – the Winter King. Yet still she cannot arrive in time to save her leader, but only in time for Celle­riant to slay the demon assassin.

Jewel returns to a city beset by a myste­rious “sleeping sickness” for which there appears to be no cure. Only one healer – a young man who shelters with Jewel’s den – can temporarily wake the sleepers so they make take enough suste­nance to survive. And the sickness continues to spread unchecked. As the Empire strives to combat this insidious disease, and stave of demonic attacks, House Terafin begins prepa­ra­tions for the funeral of its Lord. And four members of the House declare them­selves as candi­dates to claim the House Seat, ready to do whatever it takes to wrest control.

Only Jewel remains silent, though she is the heir secretly desig­nated by Amarais before her departure to the South. While some seek to intim­idate Jewel or recruit her for their own bids, others begin to gather around her: her own den, the most loyal of House Terafin’s Chosen, Haval the dress­maker, powerful magi, and three myste­rious ‘winged cats’ who come to her in the midst of a deadly encounter in a forest not meant for mortals to walk….

Jewel is deter­mined not to make any deci­sions before the Terafin is laid to rest. But as the enemies of House and Empire mobilize, it becomes terri­fy­ingly clear that everyone – including Jewel and her other­worldly allies – must survive the three days of the funeral rites before they can even be certain that there will be a House Terafin left to fight over….

Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright (Tor Hardcover 12/24/2012) – Second in Wright’s Space Opera which began with Count to a Trillion. The two books appeared just about a whole calendar year apart.

Continuing from Count to a Trillion, Menelaus Illation Montrose—Texas gunslinger, idealist, and posthuman genius—has gone into cryo-suspension following the discovery that, in 8,000 years, a powerful alien intelligence will reach Earth to assess humanity’s value as slaves. Montrose intends to be alive to meet that threat, but he is awakened repeatedly throughout the centuries to confront the woes of an ever-changing and violent world, witnessing millennia of change compressed into a few years of subjective time. The result is a breathtaking vision of future history like nothing before imagined: sweeping, tumultuous, and evermore alien, as Montrose’s immortal enemies and former shipmates from the starship Hermetic harness the forces of evolution and social engineering to continuously reshape the Earth in their image, seeking to create a version of man the approaching slavers will find worthy.

1 comment:

Bob said...

The Doctor Who novel looks interesting, but I have to admit The Long Earth has made me a little cautious of Baxter's recent adventures. I'm way behind on the Nobel Dead series, and Michelle West has been on my to-be-read list for far too long.

Having said all that, Dinosaur Thunder definitely has me intrigued. Just popped over to Goodread and it looks like that's 3 new books on the TBR pile.