Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Books in the Mail (W/E 2013-10-23)

A larger than what has been normal batch of arrivals here at the o' Stuff. Mainly, Orbit's November/December releases.

A Dance of Blades (Volume 2 of Shadowdance) by David Dalglish (Orbit, Trade Paperback 11/05/2013) – Orbit really knows what they are doing in publishing series book, ensuring the quick succession of their publishing. This is the second installment of Dalglish’s self-published series.

It's been five long years since the city learned to fear...

The war between the thief guilds and the powerful allegiance known as the Trifect has slowly dwindled. Now only the mysterious Haern is left to wage his private battle against the guilds in the guise of the Watcher - a vicious killer who knows no limits. But when the son of Alyssa Gemcroft, one of the three leaders of the Trifect, is believed murdered, the slaughter begins anew. Mercenaries flood the streets with one goal in mind: find and kill the Watcher.

Peace or destruction; every war must have its end.

Fantasy author David Dalglish spins a tale of retribution and darkness, and an underworld reaching for ultimate power.

Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen Book One) by John Gwynne (Orbit Trade Paperback 11/26/2013) – Gwynne’s debut, published in the UK earlier in the year through Tor UK, receives US release at the end of the year from the fine folks at Orbit. Although the promo material does not mention this is the launch of a series, this is the launch of a series.

The world is broken...

Corban wants nothing more than to be a warrior under King Brenin's rule - to protect and serve. But that day will come all too soon. And the price he pays will be in blood.

Evnis has sacrificed - too much it seems. But what he wants - the power to rule -- will soon be in his grasp. And nothing will stop him once he has started on his path.

Veradis is the newest member of the warband for the High Prince, Nathair. He is one of the most skilled swordsman to come out of his homeland, yet he is always under the shadow of his older brother.

Nathair has ideas - and a lot of plans. Many of them don't involve his father, the High King Aquilus. Nor does he agree with his father's idea to summon his fellow kings to council.

The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed in battle, but now giants are seen, the stones weep blood and giant wyrms are stirring. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. For if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind's hopes and dreams will fall to dust...

...and it can never be made whole again.

MALICE is a dark epic fantasy tale of blind greed, ambition, and betrayal.

Last to Rise (Rojan Dizon Book Three) by Francis Knight (Orbit Trade Paperback 11/26/2013) – Third in the sequence with began with to Knight’s interesting debut novel Fade to Black, which I read and enjoyed earlier in the year.

The towering vertical city of Mahala is on the brink of war with its neighboring countries. It might be his worst nightmare, but Rojan and the few remaining pain mages have been drafted in to help.

The city needs power in whatever form they can get it -- and fast. With alchemists readying a prototype electricity generator, and factories producing guns faster than ever, the city's best advantage is still the mages. Tapping their power is a risky plan, but with food in the city running out, and a battle brimming that no one is ready for, risky is the best they've got...

The spectacular conclusion to the adventures of Rojan Dizon, which began with the thrilling fantasy debut Fade to Black.

Dangerous Women edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (Tor, Hardcover 12/03/2013) – This is the second themed anthology from this power-house duo on the shelves this year. I read (and enjoyed) Old Mars from them and this one has a very impressive line-up including a number of my favorite writers including Joe Abercrombie, Jim Butcher, and George R.R. Martin. This thing is huge, a dead raccoon was under the package containing the book; I only noticed the raccoon after moving the package.

All new and original to this volume, the 21 stories in Dangerous Women include work by twelve New York Times bestsellers, and seven stories set in the authors’ bestselling continuities—including a new “Outlander” story by Diana Gabaldon, a tale of Harry Dresden’s world by Jim Butcher, a story from Lev Grossman set in the world of The Magicians, and a 35,000-word novella by George R. R. Martin about the Dance of the Dragons, the vast civil war that tore Westeros apart nearly two centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones.

Also included are original stories of dangerous women--heroines and villains alike--by Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Sherilynn Kenyon, Lawrence Block, Carrie Vaughn, S. M. Stirling, Sharon Kay Penman, and many others.

Writes Gardner Dozois in his Introduction, “Here you’ll find no hapless victims who stand by whimpering in dread while the male hero fights the monster or clashes swords with the villain, and if you want to tie these women to the railroad tracks, you’ll find you have a real fight on your hands. Instead, you will find sword-wielding women warriors, intrepid women fighter pilots and far-ranging spacewomen, deadly female serial killers, formidable female superheroes, sly and seductive femmes fatale, female wizards, hard-living Bad Girls, female bandits and rebels, embattled survivors in Post-Apocalyptic futures, female Private Investigators, stern female hanging judges, haughty queens who rule nations and whose jealousies and ambitions send thousands to grisly deaths, daring dragonriders, and many more.”

Friday, November 22, 2013

Double Duty at SF Signal (SFFWorld not Forgotten!)

I haven't had much activity reviewing at SFFWorld in the past couple of weeks for a couple of reasons.

First, the books I have been reading, David Anthony Durham's spectacular Acacia novels are large and take a lot of my attention.  The first one is  re-read which I mentioned last week that I initially reviewed in 2007. As I'm reading second novel The Other Lands, the story continues to keep my attention in a very powerful way whereas other books which have taken as long for me to read fell to the wayside. I short, as I've said before, Durham is a great storyteller.

Secondly, I've been doing weekly Orphan Black posts for as I mentioned in my last blog post.

Thirdly and fourthly, depending on how you choose to count it, I've had a couple of things go live at SF Signal this week.  Wednesday, the Mind Meld Paul Weimer invited me to give thought to: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Genre Series: Series vs. Standalones; Ones We Abandoned; Ones We Returned To.  Here's a bit of what I said (and of course I mentioned Acacia):

Of course there are series that I read immediately upon publication of a new book in the series: George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (though I re-read the whole series when each book publishes), any series that Tad Williams has published or will publish, and more recently Myke Cole’s Shadow OPS books, Peter Brett’s Demonwar cycle, and since reading her latest as Rachel Bach, any series Rachel Aaron writes, and so on and so forth…

Yesterday, the latest installment of my column for SF Signal, The Completist went live wherein I pull from a decade plus time laps since reading Jeffrey Ford's Well-Built City trilogy to try to expound upon the books powerful virtues.

These novels should not be dismissed for their short length, as the three combined are smaller than many fantasy novels with which they share shelf space. The combination of literary weight and breadth of imagination on display in these three novels (frankly, all of the work I’ve read by Jeffrey Ford) is nothing short of brilliance. At the intersection of Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror lies The Well-Built City, enter at your own risk, but the rewards will spoil you for other fantasy, for nothing is quite like it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Orphan Black Rewatch Comes to a Close

My time with Orphan Black has come to a temporary close, as the final episode "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" re-aired on BBC America this past Saturday, November 16. As such, my final recap / breakdown was posted to on Monday.

I knew I enjoyed the show when I watched with my wife during its first run, but I think I enjoyed it at least as much during this second viewing. Knowing a lot of what happened allowed me to pick up on a lot of the recurring themes, hints/foreshadowing, and points laid out in all of the episodes, like how often Sarah was told she was lucky to have Kira. 

I really must point out what a fantastic job the production editors did with each of my posts. They managed to get the absolute perfect screen shot for each post and each point I wanted to be highlighted in my recaps. A few of the commenters, as I point out in the last breakdown post at Tor, helped me view the story/show a bit differently than I initially did.  I realized that maybe, as much as I may have had a crush on Alison, that she was not handling her situation in the best fashion.

So, all I have to say at this point about the show itself (considering I spouted quite a bit about each episode and had some thoughts overall) is I am greatly anticipating the second season when it airs in April 2014. I will add that it was a little jarring, at first, to see Dylan Bruce (the actor who portrays Paul Dierden) on Arrow (another terrific show) this season.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Books in the Mail (W/E 2013-11-16)

A few books this week, two from the fine folks at Tor: one an electronic ARC another the physical copy of the book.

Fortune’s Pawn (Volume 1 of The Paradox Series) by Rachel Bach (Orbit, Trade Paperback 11/05/2013) – This is the “final” published copy of the ARC I received in August. I’ve since read and reviewed it and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is somewhat of an open secret that Bach is a pseudonym for Rachel Aaron, author of the very entertaining Eli Monpress fantasy novels. I’m really looking forward to this book.

Devi Morris isn't your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It's a combination that's going to get her killed one day - but not just yet.

That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn't misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she's found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn't give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.

Homeland by James L. Cambias (Tor Hardcover 01/28/2014) – This is the debut from Cambias and is a Hard SF novel about first contact. Cambias has been publishing short fiction for over a decade in various places.

On the planet Ilmatar, under a roof of ice a kilometer thick, a team of deep-sea diving scientists investigates the blind alien race that lives below. The Terran explorers have made an uneasy truce with the Sholen, their first extraterrestrial contact: so long as they don’t disturb the Ilmataran habitat, they’re free to conduct their missions in peace.

But when Henri Kerlerec, media personality and reckless adventurer, ends up sliced open by curious Ilmatarans, tensions between Terran and Sholen erupt, leading to a diplomatic disaster that threatens to escalate to war.

Against the backdrop of deep-sea guerrilla conflict, a new age of human exploration begins as alien cultures collide. Both sides seek the aid of the newly enlightened Ilmatarans. But what this struggle means for the natives—and the future of human exploration—is anything but certain, in A Darkling Sea by James Cambias.

Bloodstone (Rebel Angels Book Two) by Gillian Philip (Tor Hardcover 11/19/2013) – Second in Philip’s four-book set.

Bloodstone is the second novel in Gillian Philip’s critically acclaimed Rebel Angels series, debuting in the United States for the first time.

For centuries, Sithe warriors Seth and Conal MacGregor have hunted for the Bloodstone demanded by their Queen. Homesick, and determined to protect their clan, they have also made secret forays across the Veil. One of these illicit crossings has violent consequences that will devastate both their close family, and their entire clan.

In the Otherworld, Jed Cameron, a feral, full-mortal young thief, becomes entangled with the strange and dangerous Finn MacAngus and her shadowy uncles. When he is dragged into the world of the Sithe, it’s nothing he can’t handle until time warps around him, and menacing forces reach out to threaten his infant brother. In the collision of two worlds, war and tragedy are inevitable, especially when treachery comes from the most shocking of quarters….

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Worthy of a Second Read - Acacia Book One: The War with the Mein by David Anthony Durham

This review of Acacia Book One: The War with the Mein by David Anthony Durham is a first for me, I’m writing a second review of a book I reviewed in the past (June 2007 when this book first published) so it will be interesting for me to tread over ground I’ve previously trod. On to the review, which is more of a reaction than a review actually…
Cover Art used on ARC
otherwise unused
When Acacia Book One The War with the Mein first published in 2007, it was to a great deal of buzz for a couple of reasons. One, Durham had a Literary-with-a-capital-L pedigree; his fiction had won and / or was nominated for a couple of awards. Two, Durham is a writer of color and Epic Fantasy is a genre dominated, to a large degree, by old white dudes. In other words, on the surface, he was bringing a very unique perspective to a genre that rests heavily on familiar tropes and story elements. Underneath the surface is a superb novel on many levels.

The War with the Mein opens on a kingdom during a gilded age during its waning days, King Leodan is old weakened, but keeps up a façade for his children whom he loves above everything; he wishes them to see only the beauty in the world. When the king is murdered in full view by an ancient enemy, the children soon learn of the truth behind the thin façade their father was projecting. The prosperity of Acacia has been built on the backs of slaves and its own citizens who are addicted to a drug, the mist, the monarchy uses to keep the populace under control.

The king’s plan upon dying was to scatter the children across the world so they could learn about the world outside without the rose tinted glasses afforded them by their station as royalty. Of course, not all goes to plan and eldest daughter Corinn is left behind to be slave and concubine to Hanish Mein, leader of the nation who brought down King Leodan.

Cover Art
UK Edition
Durham tells the novel in three major parts, introduction of the Arkan family, scattering of the Arkan family across the Known World, and their return to claim their birthright as heirs to the throne. The eldest son, Aliver, arrives in an untamed land of Talay where he rises through hard work and challenges to become a mythic hero; youngest son Dariel becomes a privateer/pirate under the name Spratling, and youngest daughter Mena barely survives her journey and finds herself on an island where she’s proclaimed to be the reincarnation of a powerful bird goddess, Maeben. As mentioned, Corinn is left behind and her relationship with Hanish is fascinating to watch unfold as she develops feelings for the man who tore her world asunder.

Of the Epic Fantasy novels I’ve read (and I’ve read quite a few), Durham manages to pull off the myth come to life better than any of them this side of Robert Jordan. He taps into the intersection of the collective unconscious of myth and power of trope to evoke a resonant tale in this first installment of Acacia. Reading the book felt like reading a powerful myth that informed a society.

In my earlier review of the novel, I may have been tad too tough on the book, in terms of Durham’s supposed info-dumps. On second reading, I did not get a sense of that at all and was fully swept up in the tale he was telling. 

I also, on this second reading, was able to get a better feel for the structure of the novel. Re-reading it, I realize how similar the first third of the novel; essentially, the set up; is to the setup of many other fantasies. However, just when the reader is lulled into that familiarity; BAM! Durham upends the playing table and lets the story roll down a new path of his own making. On a somewhat more granular level, each chapter is just long enough to consume in relatively brief settings so a sense of reading accomplishment is gained, and with that a great feel of progression in the story is accomplished. By novel’s end, Durham achieves resolution with each of the four siblings, but left me wanting more with the implications of how the story was resolved.

Full spread of Mass Market Paperback
I think I’ve made it pretty clear that Epic Fantasy is my favorite branch of Speculative Fiction and when done right, when the familiar elements are imbued with fresh flavors, it is what I like the most. With The War with the Mein, David Anthony Durham has done it all right and launched what looks to be a great fantasy saga. (As of this writing, I'm about 1/3 into the second novel in the trilogy, The Other Lands.) The conflict of different ideologies, rather than black and white good v. evil; the feel of the story as an evolving, living myth (which happens to be the title of the third portion of the novel); ancient powers of sorcery reawakening; monstrous creatures; adventure; etc., all come together so well.

In short, this book was well worth the second read and I highly, highly recommend it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Books in the Mail (W/E 2013-11-09)

Just one lonely book this week arrived for review...

Fiddlehead (Clockwork Century Series #5) by Cherie Priest (Tor , Trade Paperback 11/12/2013) – The fifth and final book in Preist’s popular and steampunk acclaimed series. Another rollicking alternate history from Cherie Priest’s series which began with Boneshaker.

Young ex-slave Gideon Bardsley is a brilliant inventor, but the job is less glamorous than one might think, especially since the assassination attempts started. Worse yet, they're trying to destroy his greatest achievement: a calculating engine called Fiddlehead, which provides undeniable proof of something awful enough to destroy the world. Both man and machine are at risk from forces conspiring to keep the Civil War going and the money flowing.

Bardsley has no choice but to ask his patron, former president Abraham Lincoln, for help. Lincoln retired from leading the country after an attempt on his life, but is quite interested in Bardsley’s immense data-processing capacities, confident that if people have the facts, they'll see reason and urge the government to end the war. Lincoln must keep Bardsley safe until he can finish his research, so he calls on his old private security staff to protect Gideon and his data.

Maria “Belle” Boyd was a retired Confederate spy, until she got a life-changing job offer from the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Pinkerton respects her work, despite reservations about her lingering Southern loyalties. But it’s precisely those loyalties that let her go into Confederate territory to figure out who might be targeting Bardsley. Maria is a good detective, but with spies from both camps gunning for her, can even the notorious Belle Boyd hold the greedy warhawks at bay?

Friday, November 08, 2013

SFFWorld Round-up: Bach, Dalglish, Robertson, Paolini, and Wexler

Another round up of what's been posted to SFFWorld in today's blog post....

Last week, I posted my review of a contender for my favorite Science Fiction novel of the year, Fortune's Pawn, the first Paradox novel by Rachel Bach:

Devi meets and interacts with the motley crew of the Glorious Fool, – Captain Caldswell, who runs the ship with near military precision; Rupert who is “just a cook” (not); the bird like aeon pilot Basil who literally navigates from a nest; the tall lizard-like xith’cal doctor Hyrek (right, a doctor from a race which enjoys the taste of human flesh); the captain’s daughter Ren who is protected by Rupert; Cotter, the other security mercenary who joined the ship with Devi; and Mabel, the ship’s engineer who has the longest relationship with Captain Brian Caldswell; and Nova, who oversees the ships diagnostics. . Amidst this backdrop, the Glorious Fool is a trading vessel, not unlike the Serenity of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. Of course, we’d have very little story if the vessel were a simple trader. The character with whom Devi has the closest relationship as the novel progresses is Rupert; he is the love interest. He is the unconquerable man who doesn’t give into Devi’s charms immediately; Rupert is initially something of a stonewall. If anything, he may be a little too perfect. The romance between the two takes up a significant portion o

f the narrative energy.
I was a fan of the Eli Monpress novels written under the author’s real name Rachel Aaron, so when I learned she was shifting to space-based science fiction (so far, these books seem an equal mix military science fiction, space opera, and adventure SF), I was excited. That excitement was fulfilled. In the Eli Monpress novels, Aaron played with some genre conventions, but here writing as Bach she does much more upending of the genre tropes. For starters, the protagonist is a woman where a majority of protagonists in military SF have been male. That said, Devi is as aggressive on every level of her character as any male protagonist who preceded her in the genre. She goes after the men she wants, goes after the targets at which she aims, and tackles just about every obstacle in her way. She names her weapons and her power armor. Point being, she’s larger than life and in your face and I felt as if I got along well with her voice.

Mark had a look at self-published sensation turned newest Orbit fantasy author, David Dalglish and his fantasy novel, A Dance of Cloaks:

As a debut book in the series, A Dance of Cloaks is a ting-out-the-stall’ kind of book, where the reader is introduced to characters and places that it is clear will all be developed later, and undoubtedly with paths that will cross at some point. There are quite a few different characters to follow here, some major, others minor, but who may become more important later. Of the families, much of the plot deals with the life-changing events around two main characters. In the Trifect group, Alyssa Gemcroft, is the main heroine, the heir to the Gemcroft family fortune, used as a political device by her father Maynard, available for marriage to the right suitor. As you might expect, she rejects this.

Whilst the characters are nothing really new, and the plot admittedly rather generic, this is a book that revels in, and can be enjoyed for, its familiarity. With such a book, a reader does not need to spend time wrestling with deep concepts or revelatory stylistic touches. Readers can be assured that what they expect is what they get, to enjoy the plot developments as they happen, feel engaged with a story that uses straightforward language and enjoy a tale that basically is done well. Its purpose is to entertain.

Most recently, I reviewed Freya Robertson's debut novel, Heartwood. Robertson also recently provided SFFWorld with a guest post. Here's the cover, link, and review snapshot:

Robertson introduces many of the players at this gathering including the Holy Knights of the Heartwood, elite defenders of the Arbor as well as the many nations gathering to meet for a potential halt to hostilities. The protagonist, at least for the first third of the novel, seems to be Chonrad, a man who tried but was unsuccessful at becoming a Holy Knight and is sent to represent his nation at the Congressus. The Knights are led by Procella, a woman with whom Chonrad feels a great connection. Other knights include Beata, another female knight and Dean at Heartwood; twins Gravis and Gavius. Additionally, members of other nations, such as Fionnghuala of the Hanairean and Grimbeard, of the Wulfian where war rules all and men just take women are introduced.

What started as a novel with great potential conflict and interesting, if familiar, world and story fell under the weight of info-dumps and backstory. I liked the characters, I liked the world, but after the ample world-building in the first third of the novel, I felt ready for the story, particularly since it seemed to be pointed in the direction of multiple quests, to move at a more brisk pace. With each of the quests the characters were split up to undertake, we learned more about the characters. Too many weighty details are revealed about the characters by the characters themselves as inner monologue to allow for narrative the move along at a good pace.

We've also got some new interviews, including:

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Completist: Greg Keyes's "The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone"

Yesterday, John at SF Signal post the latest edition my latest Completist column, this time featuring Greg Keyes's Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, a series I enjoyed thoroughly as I read when each volume published.

For reference, here are the links to each of the books in the series I wrote for SFFWorld as well as the interview I conducted with Greg (via telephone) at the launch of The Briar King

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

New Template, Version 6

About eight months ago, I changed the template on my blog so naturally, I'm changing it again today.  While the previous template looked pretty nice, I realized after reading quite a few books on my kindle, I like reading white/light grey text on a black background. Also, I don't like the way my sidebar was hidden in the previous dynamic view of the blog. 

This current design is very close to what it was prior to the change over in March. Yeah, I know, I'm a little obsessed with the Red and Black color combination, but the colors  happen to be from my alma mater and my favorite NHL team, the (currently terrible) New Jersey Devils.

So, here it is, the 6th iteration of my blog.  I'll also show off one of the signatures I received at NY Comic Con last month, Elizabeth Bear's signature on Range of Ghosts.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Books in the Mail (W/E 2013-11-02)

Another week, another smattering of new books at for potential review, the majority of these are electronic copies on my kindle.

The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard (Strange Chemistry, Paperback 01/02/2014) – Post future war setting, artificial intelligence, this one has a nice mix of post-apocalyptic, post human and military SF wrapped under a gorgeous eye-popping cover.

Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. Coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.

Faced with hideous reanimated Vector soldiers from her own world with agendas of their own, as well as an unexpected reunion with a sister who despises her, it is a race against time to bring Caden back to Neospes. But things aren’t always as they seem, and Riven will have to search for truth. Family betrayals and royal coups are only the tip of the iceberg. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

The Almost Girl is a richly imagined story of defiance, courage, and heart. It is the tale of a girl who finds her own way on her own terms, a girl who won’t let what she is define her, and a girl who will sacrifice everything she is for the ones she loves. It is a story of someone who eclipses her predestined fate to become something more … something extraordinary. 

A Different Kingdom by Paul Kearney (Solaris Books, Paperback 01/28/2014) – This is claimed to be the best novel Kearney’s written, and he’s written quite a few well-received novels. This is a reissue with a beautiful new cover.

A different kingdom of wolves, woods and stranger, darker, creatures lies in wait for Michael Fay in the woods at the bottom of his family's farm.

Michael Fay is a normal boy, living with his grandparents on their family farm in rural Ireland. In the woods there are wolves; and other things, dangerous things. He doesn’t tell his family, not even his Aunt Rose, his closest friend.

And then, as Michael wanders through the trees, he finds himself in the Other Place. There are strange people, and monsters, and a girl called Cat.

When the wolves follow him from the Other Place to his family’s doorstep, Michael must choose between locking the doors and looking away – or following Cat on an adventure that may take an entire lifetime in the Other Place.

The Iron Wilves by Andy Remic (Angry Robot Books, Paperback 12/31/2013) – I read one of Remic’s early SF novels War Machine and enjoyed. Since then, he’s published quite a handful of novels.

Thirty years ago, the Iron Wolves held back mud-orc hordes at the Pass of Splintered Bones, and led a brutal charge that saw the sorcerer Morkagoth slain. This ended the War of Zakora, and made the Iron Wolves heroes.

Now, a new terror stalks the realm. In hushed whispers, it is claimed the Horse Lady, Orlana the Changer, has escaped from the Chaos Halls and is building an army, twisting horses, lions and bears into terrible, bloody hunters, summoning mud-orcs from then slime and heading north to Vagandrak where, it said, the noble King Yoon has gone insane...

After hearing a prophecy from a blind seer, aged General Dalgoran searches to reunite the heroes of old for what he believes will be the final battle. But as mud-orcs and twisted beasts tear through the land, Dalgoran discovers the Iron Wolves are no longer heroes of legend... Narnok is a violent whoremaster, Kiki a honey-leaf drug peddler, and Prince Zastarte a drinker, a gambler, amoral and decadent: now he likes to hear people scream as they burn...

United in hate, the Iron Wolves travel to the Pass of Splintered Bones; and as half a million mud-orcs gather, General Dalgoran realises his grave error. Together, the Iron Wolves hold a terrible secret which has tortured them for three decades. Now, they only wish to be human again...

Dirty Magic (Book 1 of The Prospero’s War Series by Jaye Wells (Orbit Books, Paperback 01/21/2014) – The prolific Wells launches a new urban fantasy series.


The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets, but there's a new blend out there that's as deadly as it is elusive. When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she's brought in to explain herself. But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realizes she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.

Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier - on the same day she swore she'd given up dirty magic for good. Kate Prospero's about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should never say never.

Burning Paradise by Robert Charles Wilson (TOR Hardcover 11/05/2013) – Near future SF with an alternate history twist.

From Robert Charles Wilson, the author of the Hugo-winning Spin, comes Burning Paradise, a new tale of humans coming to grips with a universe of implacable strangeness.
Cassie Klyne, nineteen years old, lives in the United States in the year 2015—but it’s not our United States, and it’s not our 2015.

Cassie’s world has been at peace since the Great Armistice of 1918. There was no World War II, no Great Depression. Poverty is declining, prosperity is increasing everywhere; social instability is rare. But Cassie knows the world isn’t what it seems. Her parents were part of a group who gradually discovered the awful truth: that for decades—back to the dawn of radio communications—human progress has been interfered with, made more peaceful and benign, by an extraterrestrial entity. That by interfering with our communications, this entity has tweaked history in massive and subtle ways. That humanity is, for purposes unknown, being farmed.

Cassie’s parents were killed for this knowledge, along with most of the other members of their group. Since then, the survivors have scattered and gone into hiding. Cassie and her younger brother Thomas now live with her aunt Nerissa, who shares these dangerous secrets. Others live nearby. For eight years they have attempted to lead unexceptional lives in order to escape detection. The tactic has worked.

Until now. Because the killers are back. And they’re not human.