New Books (November #2)

BooksReceived-20141123

Featuring: Poul Anderson, David Baldacci, Elizabeth Bear, James Enge, Chris Evans, Michel Faber, John French, Joe Haldeman, James M. Hough, Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman, John Love, Brandon Sanderson, Gav Thorpe, Olivier Truc

AndersonP-TheBrokenSwordPoul Anderson, THE BROKEN SWORD (Open Road)

In his greed for land and power, Orm the Strong slays the family of a Saxon witch-and for his sins, the Northman must pay with his newborn son. Stolen by elves and replaced by a changeling, Skafloc is raised to manhood unaware of his true heritage and treasured for his ability to handle the iron that the elven dare not touch. Meanwhile, the being who supplanted him as Orm’s son grows up angry and embittered by the humanity he has been denied. A pawn in a witch’s vengeance, the creature Valgard will never know love, and consumed by rage, he will commit a murderous act of unspeakable vileness.

It is their destiny to finally meet on the field of battle-the man-elf and his dark twin, the monster-when the long-simmering war between elves and trolls finally erupts with a devastating fury. And only the mighty sword Tyrfing, broken by Thor and presented to Skafloc in infancy, can turn the tide in a terrible clashing of faerie folk that will ultimately determine the fate of the old gods.

I’ve never read anything by Poul Anderson before — some of his novels have been included in Gollancz’s Fantasy Masterworks series, and a few of my friends and fellow bloggers have enjoyed his work. This sounds like it would be really interesting, and could appeal to fans of Joe Abercrombie’s Half a King and Brian Wood’s Northlanders series — both of which I thoroughly enjoyed, so I’m hopeful I’ll enjoy this, too.

Open Road are publishing The Broken Sword in eBook (possibly for the first time?) on December 30th 2014.

Review copy via NetGalley

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Baldacci-TheEscapeDavid Baldacci, THE ESCAPE (Grand Central)

John Puller. A combat veteran and special agent with the U.S. Army, Puller is the man they call to investigate the toughest crimes facing the nation.

But all his training, all his experience, all his skills will not prepare him for his newest case, one that will force him to hunt down the most formidable and brilliant prey he has ever tracked: his own brother.

THE ESCAPE

It’s a prison unlike any other. Military discipline rules. Its security systems are unmatched. None of its prisoners dream of escaping. They know it’s impossible.

Until now.

John Puller’s older brother, Robert, was convicted of treason and national security crimes. His inexplicable escape from prison makes him the most wanted criminal in the country. Some in the government believe that John Puller represents their best chance at capturing Robert alive, and so Puller takes on the burden of bringing his brother in to face justice.

But Puller quickly discovers that there are others pursuing his brother, who only see Robert as a traitor and are unconcerned if he survives. Puller is in turn pushed into an uneasy, fraught partnership with another agent, who may have an agenda of her own.

They dig more deeply into the case together, and Puller finds that not only are her allegiances unclear, but that there are troubling details about his brother’s conviction… and that someone is out there who doesn’t want the truth to ever come to light. As the nation-wide manhunt for Robert grows more urgent, Puller’s masterful skills as an investigator and strength as a fighter may not be enough to save his brother — or himself.

New Baldacci novel, of course I’ll buy it immediately. Although, oddly, I haven’t read the first two in his series featuring Puller. As with his Will Robie novels, I’ll probably do a bit of a binge-read of all three in the near future.

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BearE-KarenMemoryUSElizabeth Bear, KAREN MEMORY (Tor)

“You ain’t gonna like what I have to tell you, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. See, my name is Karen Memery, like memory only spelt with an e, and I’m one of the girls what works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street. Hôtel has a little hat over the o like that. It’s French, so Beatrice tells me.”

Hugo-Award winning author Elizabeth Bear offers something new in Karen Memory, an absolutely entrancing steampunk novel set in Seattle in the late 19th century — an era when the town was called Rapid City, when the parts we now call Seattle Underground were the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes bringing would-be miners heading up to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront. Karen is a “soiled dove,” a young woman on her own who is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house — a resourceful group — and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts into her world one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, seeking sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.

This is the beginning of a new series, and one that I’m very much looking forward to reading. It’s now out for a while, so I’m going to resist opening it until sometime next month. It sounds really cool.

Karen Memory is due to be published in North America by Tor Books in February 2015.

Review copy provided publisher

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EngeJ-WT3-TheWideWorldsEndJames Enge, THE WIDE WORLD’S END (Pyr)

The tale of the early days of Morlock Ambrosius — master of all magical makers, wandering swordsman, and son of Merlin — concludes!

From beyond the northern edge of the world, the Sunkillers (undying enemies of everything that lives and breathes and is an individual) are reaching into the sky of Laent to drain out its light and warmth. Their hope is to scrape sky, land, and sea clean of mortal life and return to where they once dwelled, before the first rising of the sun. Against them stand only the Graith of Guardians, defenders of the peaceful anarchy of the Wardlands. But the agents of the Sunkillers are abroad even in the Wardlands: plotting, betraying, murdering among the Graith.

Married now for a century, Morlock Ambrosius and Aloê Oaij will take different paths to counter the threat. As Aloê ferrets out the enemy within the Graith, Morlock joins forces with his sister, the formidable Ambrosia Viviana, and crosses the monster-haunted plains of the deep north to confront the Sunkillers in their own realm. Morlock and Aloê think their parting is temporary, but it is final. They may or may not save the world, but they will not save each other, or themselves.

This is the third novel in Enge’s prequel trilogy for his fan-favourite creation, Morlock Ambrosius. I’ve only read bits and pieces of Enge’s fiction, but it’s very good, and I hope to read more in the near future.

The Wide World’s End will be published in February 2015 by Pyr Books.

Review copy provided publisher

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EvansC-OfBoneAndThunderChris Evans, OF BONE AND THUNDER (Gallery Books)

A land of thick jungle and mist-swirled mountains. An enemy moving unseen beneath the lush canopy. The growing threat of thaumics — a magic wielded by few that threatens to destabilize all. The youth of a kingdom sent to fight in a faraway hell while back home, discord and disillusionment reign…

Here, in the distant nation of Luitox, which is wracked by rebellion, thaumic users copilot mammoth armored dragons alongside fliers who do not trust their strange methods. Warriors trained in crossbow, stealth, and catapult are plunged into sudden chaotic battles with the mysterious Forest Collective, an elusive enemy with a powerful magic of its own. And the Kingdom’s most downtrodden citizens, only recently granted equality, fight for the dignity they were supposed to have won at home while questioning who the real enemy is.

Of Bone and Thunder is the story of Thaum Jawn Rathim, whose idealized view of the war clashes with its harsh realities and his realization that victory may cost him everything… of conscripted soldier Carny, awash in a hallucinogenic haze of fear and anger…of Breeze, the red-haired graduate from the Royal Academy of Thaumology, certain she can transform the very nature of warfare — if only she can win the trust of the man holding her fate in his hands… and of Ugen Listowk, a veteran crossbowman who finds solace in the darkest shadows of the jungle and whose greatest fear is failing the men he leads into battle.

Plunging deep into the heart of a moral and mortal darkness, these reluctant soldiers struggle for survival and for meaning amid a blazing drama of blood and magic. They will duel a ghostly enemy, fight to understand their roles in a sprawling maelstrom, and ultimately wage the war their way — not for glory or the Kingdom, but for one another.

I feel like I’ve taken an age to get around to buying this novel. Now I have. And I want to read it ASAP. Hopefully I’ll manage to do so (I have a few other titles at the top of the TBR mountain, so it may have to wait for just a little bit longer than I would like).

Review copy via NetGalley

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FaberM-BookOfStrangeNewThingsCAMichel Faber, THE BOOK OF STRANGE NEW THINGS (Harper Collins)

Faber’s first novel in thirteen years, The Book of Strange New Things is a mind-blowing work that fearlessly tackles the search for meaning in an unfathomable universe. It concerns Peter and Beatrice, whose marriage is tested when Peter travels as a missionary, spreading the Gospel to a faraway land, and Beatrice is left to deal with troubles at home. In the most extraordinary and spellbinding ways, it deals with faith-religious faith, to be sure, but also faith in oneself, faith in salvation and faith in those we love. Riveting, mysterious and eye-opening, Faber’s latest novel is sure to be one of the most read and discussed books of 2014.

There was much brouhaha surrounding the release of this novel. I’ve never read The Crimson Petal and the White, the novel that saw Faber rocket to international stardom, but I have recently managed to get my mitts on a couple of his novels. They sound diverse, interesting and have received nearly unanimous excellent reviews.

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FrenchJ-A4-AhrimanSorcerorJohn French, AHRIMAN: SORCERER (Black Library)

Ahriman, greatest sorcerer of the Thousand Sons and architect of the Rubric that laid his Legion low, continues to walk the path towards salvation, or damnation. Searching for a cure for his Legion, he is forced to consider – was the great ritual somehow flawed from the very beginning? The answer may lie within the mysterious artefact known as the Athenaeum of Kalimakus, a grimoire of forgotten knowledge that is reputed to contain the exact words of the lost Book of Magnus… or, perhaps, even a transcription of the primarch’s deepest and most secret thoughts.

This is the second novel in the series focusing on Ahriman, disgraced master sorcerer of the Thousand Sons legion. Sadly, I haven’t read Ahriman: Exile, the first novel, yet, but I have read and thoroughly enjoyed French’s short stories, Ahriman: Hand of Dust and Ahriman: The Dead Oracle. At the time of writing, I am reading Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s The Talon of Horus, which is written from the perspective of one of Ahriman’s greatest rivals.

Also on CR: Reviews of Hand of DustThe Dead Oracle, Riven and Child of Night

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HaldemanJ-W1-WorldsJoe Haldeman, WORLDS Bk.1 (Open Road)

In the near future, an idealistic young student visiting Earth from an orbiting colony becomes ensnared in radical politics and a dark conspiracy of violent destruction

By the close of the twenty-first century, almost half a million souls have already abandoned Earth to live in satellites orbiting the strife-ridden planet. Each of these forty-one Worlds is an independent entity boasting its own government and culture, yet each remains bound to the troubled home World by economic pressure.

A brilliant student of political science born and raised in New New York, the largest of the orbiting Worlds, young Marianne O’Hara has never been to the surface but now has a golden opportunity to continue her studies far below her floating home of steel. Life on Earth, however, is very different from anything she has ever experienced.

With power in the hands of a privileged few and unrest running rampant, the allure of radical politics might be too much for an idealistic and inexperienced young World dweller to resist. But even the best of intentions can have disastrous consequences, and Marianne soon finds herself unwittingly drawn into a wide-ranging conspiracy that could result in the total destruction of everything on Earth… and above.

This sounds pretty interesting — it’ll probably be the first of Haldeman’s novels that I read. Open Road publishes this eBook on December 2nd 2014.

Review copy via NetGalley

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HoughJ-0-TheDireEarthUSJames M. Hough, THE DIRE EARTH (Del Rey)

In the middle of the twenty-third century, an inexplicable disease engulfs the globe, leaving a trail of madness and savagery in its wake. Dutch air force pilot Skyler Luiken discovers he is immune to the disease when he returns from a mission to find the world in chaos, but he soon realizes that he’s not the only one to have endured the apocalypse. Elsewhere, the roguish Skadz, the cunning Nigel, and the tough-as-nails Samantha each make their way toward the last remaining bastion of sanity: Darwin, Australia, home to a mysterious alien artifact that may hold the key to the survival of the human race.

I picked up the first full-length novel in Hough’s Dire Earth series a while back. Then I saw that this was coming out, and decided to wait for this before reading them together.

The novella is out now, published by Del Rey/Random House.

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KellermanJ&J-GolemOfHollywoodUSJonathan & Jesse Kellerman, THE GOLEM OF HOLLYWOOD (Penguin)

A burned-out L.A. detective… a woman of mystery who is far more than she seems… a grotesque, ancient monster bent on a mission of retribution. When these three collide, a new standard of suspense is born.

The legend of the Golem of Prague has endured through the ages, a creature fashioned by a sixteenth-century rabbi to protect his congregation, now lying dormant in the garret of a synagogue. But the Golem is dormant no longer.

Detective Jacob Lev wakes one morning, dazed and confused: He seems to have picked up a beautiful woman in a bar the night before, but he can’t remember anything about the encounter, and before he knows it, she has gone. But this mystery pales in comparison to the one he’s about to be called on to solve. Newly reassigned to a Special Projects squad he didn’t even know existed, he’s sent to a murder scene far up in the hills of Hollywood Division. There is no body, only an unidentified head lying on the floor of a house. Seared into a kitchen counter nearby is a single word: the Hebrew for justice.

Detective Lev is about to embark on an odyssey—through Los Angeles, through many parts of the United States, through London and Prague, but most of all, through himself. All that he has believed to be true will be upended—and not only his world, but the world itself, will be changed.

This just sounds intriguing, and the Kellerman’s are excellent authors on their own. It’ll be interesting to see what they’ve come up with together (father and son).

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LoveJ-EvensongUSJohn Love, EVENSONG (Night Shade)

A near-future thriller where those who protect humanity are not always completely human.

The future is a dangerous place. Keeping the world stable and peaceful when competing corporate interests and nation-states battle for power, wealth, and prestige has only gotten harder over the years. But that’s the United Nations’ job. So the UN has changed along with the rest of the world. When the UN’s “soft” diplomacy fails, it has harder options. Quiet, scalpel-like options: The Dead-biologically enhanced secret operatives created by the UN to solve the problems no one else can.

Anwar Abbas is one of The Dead. When the Controller-General of the UN asks him to perform a simple bodyguard mission, he’s insulted and resentful: mere bodyguard work is a waste of his unique abilities. But he takes the job, because to refuse it would be unthinkable.

Anwar is asked to protect Olivia del Sarto, the host of an important upcoming UN conference. Olivia is head of the world’s fastest-growing church, but in her rise to power she has made enemies: shadowy enemies with apparently limitless resources.

Anwar is one of the deadliest people on earth, but her enemies have something which kills people like him. And they’ve sent it for her. It’s out there, unstoppable and untraceable, getting closer as the conference approaches.

As he and Olivia ignite a torrid affair, Anwar must uncover the conspiracy that threatens to destroy her, the UN, and even The Dead.

Saw this pop up on a couple of websites quite a while ago, though it had a different cover. Sounds interesting and very current (uh, projected forwards, of course).

Evensong is published January 6th 2015 by Night Shade Books.

Review copy via Edelweiss

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Sanderson-R-MitosisUKBrandon Sanderson, MITOSIS (Gollancz)

A short story set in the action-packed world of Steelheart: the Reckoners series, exclusively available in a HB collector’s edition. Epics still plague Newcago, but David and the Reckoners have vowed to fight back.

I’ve actually already read this (review), but it’s certainly nice to have this hardcover edition: it contains extra materials (character sketches, an enticing excerpt from Firefight). If you haven’t read Steelheart, then I would recommend it — Sanderson proves he can write outside of epic fantasy just as skillfully.

Mitosis is published in the UK by Gollancz, and is out now. Firefight follows on January 8th 2015 (can’t wait!).

Review copy provided publisher

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ThorpeG-TheCurseOfKhaineGav Thorpe: END TIMES: THE CURSE OF KHAINE (Black Library)

The End Times are coming. With Naggaroth besieged by the hordes of Chaos, the Witch King Malekith makes the decision to abandon the Land of Chill and make one final attempt to seize the throne of Ulthuan. As the druchii march upon the soil of their ancestral home once again, long-laid plans come to fruition and treachery blooms, bringing Malekith closer than ever to his goal. All that stands in the Witch King’s way is the Regent of Ulthuan, Prince Tyrion, and the darkness within Malekith’s own soul, the call of the Curse of Khaine.

In this epic tale, a destiny denied for thousands of years will come to pass, the realm of the phoenix kings will fall, and a new order will rise from the ashes.

Gav Thorpe is a long-time author of elf-related novels for Black Library, having written the Sundering trilogy (in the Time of Legends series). This novel is apparently a conclusion of sorts to that series, which is set at the very birth of the elven nations. Having not read the Sundering novels, I’m nevertheless hopeful that it is not essential to do so in order to ‘get’ The Curse of Khaine.

The Curse of Khaine is published on November 28th (I’ve pre-ordered it) by Black Library.

Also on CR: Interview with Gav Thorpe

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TrucO-FortyDaysWithoutShadowUKOlivier Truc, FORTY DAYS WITHOUT SHADOW (Trapdoor/Little, Brown)

Tomorrow, the sun will rise for the first time in 40 days. Thirty minutes of daylight will herald the end of the polar night in Kautokeino, a small village in northern Norway, home to the indigenous Sami people.

But in the last hours of darkness, a precious artifact is stolen: an ancient Sami drum. The most important piece in the museum’s collection, it was due to go on tour with a UN exhibition in a few short weeks.

Hours later, a man is murdered. Mattis, one of the last Sami reindeer herders, is found dead in his gumpy.

Are the two crimes connected? In a town fraught with tension — between the indigenous Samis fighting to keep their culture alive, the ultra-Lutheran Scandinavian colonists concerned with propagati-ng their own religion, and the greedy geologists eager to mine the region’s ore deposits — it falls to two local police officers to solve the crimes. Klemet Nango, an experienced Sami officer, and Nina Nansen, his much younger partner from the south of Norway, must find the perpetrators before it’s too late…

I’d never heard of the novel before it arrived in the mail. It sounds interesting, so I’m looking forward to giving it a try.

Review copy provided publisher

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