Review: BLOOD OF ASSASSINS by RJ Barker (Orbit)

BarkerRJ-WK2-BloodOfAssassinsGirton Club-Foot returns

In a desperate bid to escape the bounty on his head, assassin Girton Club-Foot has returned to Maniyadoc, but the kingdom he knew no longer exists.

Three kings battle for supremacy in a land ravaged by war-and one of them is his old friend Rufra. With threats inside and outside the war encampment, Girton races to find the traitor behind an assassination plot. But his magic can no longer be contained and Girton may not be able to save even himself.

It’s assassin versus assassin for the life of a king.

RJ Barker’s Age of Assassins is one of the best debut fantasies I’ve read in some time. At a time when I’ve been struggling with the genre, Barker’s debut caught my attention from the opening scenes — it was amusing, the characters were very well-drawn, and the story was far more focused than many fantasies I’ve tried recently. In Blood of Assassins, Barker returns readers to Maniyadoc, five years after the events of the first novel. I enjoyed this novel a great deal. Continue reading

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Excerpt: THE FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sager (Ebury)

SagerR-FinalGirlsUKRiley Sager‘s Final Girls has been racking up some impressive fans: Stephen King called it “the first great thriller of 2017”; Karin Slaughter called it “terrific”; Lisa Gardner called it “the best book of 2017”; and Whoopi Goldberg called it “Fantastic” — to name but a few. Today, I have an excerpt from the novel, to whet your appetite. But first, the synopsis:

Three girls. Three tragedies. One unthinkable secret.

The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma.

But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or can there only ever be one?

All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.

Final Girls is out now, published by Ebury in the UK, and Dutton in the US.

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Interview with SEAN GRIGSBY

GrigsbyS-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Sean Grigsby?

Now that’s a complex question! Sounds like something I should use as a mantra while meditating. But I’ll give a simple answer.

I’m a professional firefighter in central Arkansas, USA. Father, husband, sometimes DJ. And now, I’m super-stoked to be a professional writer as well.

Your new novel, Smoke Eaters, will be published by Angry Robot in March. It looks rather fun and interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Firefighters vs. dragons… in the future. The ancient monsters have returned from beneath the ground and wreak havoc. Thankfully, a few people have been born with the ability to breathe dragon smoke and resist immense heat: smoke eaters. Cole Brannigan is a fire captain about to retire, and on his last fire call, he discovers he has these abilities and is recruited into the elite dragon-fighting force. The book has laser swords, ghosts, robots, and an evil plot involving them all. Continue reading

Interview with STEPHEN ARYAN

AryanS-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Stephen Aryan?

Stephen Aryan is a really tall Englishman. He writes epic fantasy novels for Orbit that feature lots of wizards and magic, wars, warriors and non-human races. He reads a lot of books and comics, spends a lot of time outdoors in the forest, loves chocolate, genre TV and films.

Your latest book is a prequel novella to your Age of Dread series, Of Gods and Men, which I really enjoyed. How would you introduce it to a new reader, and what can fans of the trilogy expect from the prequel?

Of Gods and Men works in two ways. If you’ve never read any of my books before it acts as an introduction to my style of writing, pacing, my focus on characters and it still tells a complete story. And, if you liked it then you’ve got a good idea of what to expect in the novels that follow. Continue reading

Excerpt: ECHOES OF UNDERSTOREY by Thoraiya Dyer (Tor Books)

DyerT-TF2-EchoesOfUnderstoreyUSToday, we have an excerpt from the second novel in Thoraiya Dyer‘s Titan’s Forest series: Echoes of Understorey. First, however, here is the synopsis:

Great deeds are expected of Imeris.

Raised by accomplished warriors and skilled healers, and being the sister to a goddess, Imeris always felt pressured to be the best fighter in Understorey. Yet during a mission to capture the body-snatching sorceress Kirrik, Imeris fails disastrously. With death on her conscience and in hiding from her peers, Imeris climbs up to the sun-kissed world of Canopy to learn new ways to defeat Kirrik. What she doesn’t expect is to be recruited in a Hunt for the Ages, against a terrifying divine monster that will take all of her skills to stop.

Echoes of Understorey is published by Tor Books tomorrow, in the US and UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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New Books (January-February)

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Featuring: Stephen Aryan, Associated Press, Ray Bradbury, Christopher Buckley, Karen Cleveland, Craig DiLouie, Thoraiya Dyer, Raymond E. Feist, Kameron Hurley, Luke Jennings, Charles Johnson, Shilo Jones, Robert Karjel, Lisa Klink, Snorri Kristjansson, R.F. Kuang, Rachel Kushner, Jonathan Lynn, Claire O’Dell, David Pedreira, Terry Pratchett, Jeffrey Rosen, R.A. Salvatore, Gavin Scott, Jeremy C. Shipp, Charles Stross, Tom Sweterlitsch, RJ Theodore, Matt Wallace, Jesmyn Ward

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New Colson Whitehead UK Editions

Thanks to the runaway success of Colson Whitehead‘s Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel The Underground Railroad, his previous books The Intuitionist, Colossus of New York and Apex Hides the Hurt are getting new UK editions, published by Fleet.

WhiteheadC-IntuitionistUKLet’s take them in publication order. First up is The Intuitionist, which is out now:

Verticality, architectural and social, is at the heart of Colson Whitehead’s first novel that takes place in an unnamed high-rise city that combines twenty-first-century engineering feats with nineteenth-century pork-barrel politics. Elevators are the technological expression of the vertical ideal, and Lila Mae Watson, the city’s first black female elevator inspector, is its embattled token of upward mobility.When Number Eleven of the newly completed Fanny Briggs Memorial Building goes into deadly free-fall just hours after Lila Mae has signed off on it, using the controversial “Intuitionist” method of ascertaining elevator safety, both Intuitionists and Empiricists recognize the set-up, but may be willing to let Lila Mae take the fall in an election year.

As Lila Mae strives to exonerate herself in this urgent adventure full of government spies, underworld hit men, and seductive double agents, behind the action, always, is the Idea. Lila Mae’s quest is mysteriously entwined with existence of heretofore lost writings by James Fulton, father of Intuitionism, a giant of vertical thought. If she is able to find and reveal his plan for the perfect, next-generation elevator, the city as it now exists may instantly become obsolescent.

WhiteheadC-ColossusOfNewYorkUKNext up we have The Colossus of New York, which was published yesterday. Here’s the synopsis:

Here is a literary love song that will entrance anyone who has lived in — or spent time — in the greatest of American cities.

A masterful evocation of the city that never sleeps, The Colossus of New York captures the city’s inner and outer landscapes in a series of vignettes, meditations, and personal memories. Colson Whitehead conveys with almost uncanny immediacy the feelings and thoughts of longtime residents and of newcomers who dream of making it their home; of those who have conquered its challenges; and of those who struggle against its cruelties.

Whitehead’s style is as multilayered and multifarious as New York itself: Switching from third person, to first person, to second person, he weaves individual voices into a jazzy musical composition that perfectly reflects the way we experience the city. There is a funny, knowing riff on what it feels like to arrive in New York for the first time; a lyrical meditation on how the city is transformed by an unexpected rain shower; and a wry look at the ferocious battle that is commuting. The plaintive notes of the lonely and dispossessed resound in one passage, while another captures those magical moments when the city seems to be talking directly to you, inviting you to become one with its rhythms.

The Colossus of New York is a remarkable portrait of life in the big city. Ambitious in scope, gemlike in its details, it is at once an unparalleled tribute to New York and the ideal introduction to one of the most exciting writers working today.

WhiteheadC-ApexHidesTheHurtUKAnd finally, due out at the beginning of next month, the novel Apex Hides the Hurt:

A brisk, comic tour de force about identity, history, and the adhesive bandage industry.

The town of Winthrop has decided it needs a new name. The resident software millionaire wants to call it New Prospera; the mayor wants to return to the original choice of the founding black settlers; and the town’s aristocracy sees no reason to change the name at all. What they need, they realize, is a nomenclature consultant.

And, it turns out, the consultant needs them. But in a culture overwhelmed by marketing, the name is everything and our hero’s efforts may result in not just a new name for the town but a new and subtler truth about it as well.

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