Featuring: Jeffrey Archer, Andrew Bacevich, Lou Berney, Jordanna Max Brodsky, Max Allan Collins, Roger Daltrey, DJ Daniels, Sebastien de Castell, Leif Enger, W.L. Goodwater, Greg Grandin, Thomas Christopher Greene, Guy Haley, Yuval Noah Harari, Dave Hutchinson, Eric Idle, Antony Johnston, David Kushner, Mike Lawson, Michael Lewis, Angus Macallan, Kyle Mills, David Thomas Moore, Daniel José Older, Anne Rice, A. Brad Schwartz, Adrian Selby, Harry Turtledove, Alex White, Ben Winters
Jeffrey Archer, HEADS YOU WIN (St. Martin’s Press)
Leningrad, Russia, 1968. Alexander Karpenko is no ordinary child, and from an early age, it is clear he is destined to lead his countrymen. But when his father is assassinated by the KGB for defying the state, he and his mother will have to escape from Russia if they hope to survive. At the docks, they are confronted with an irreversible choice: should they board a container ship bound for America, or Great Britain? Alexander leaves that choice to the toss of a coin…
In a single moment, a double twist decides Alexander’s future. During an epic tale of fate and fortune, spanning two continents and thirty years, we follow his triumphs and defeats as he struggles as an immigrant to conquer his new world. As this unique story unfolds, Alexander comes to realize where his destiny lies, and accepts that he must face the past he left behind in Russia.
Andrew Bacevich, TWILIGHT OF THE AMERICAN CENTURY (University of Notre Dame Press)
Andrew Bacevich is a leading American public intellectual, writing in the fields of culture and politics with particular attention to war and America’s role in the world. Twilight of the American Century is a collection of his selected essays written since 9/11.
In these essays, Bacevich critically examines the U.S. response to the events of September 2001, as they have played out in the years since, radically affecting the way Americans see themselves and their nation’s place in the world. Bacevich is the author of nearly a dozen books and contributes to a wide variety of publications, including Foreign Affairs, The Nation, Commonweal, Harper’s, and the London Review of Books.
His op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, among other newspapers. Prior to becoming an academic, he was a professional soldier. His experience as an Army officer informs his abiding concern regarding the misuse of American military power and the shortcomings of the U.S. military system. As a historian, he has tried to see the past differently, thereby making it usable to the present. Bacevich combines the perspective of a scholar with the background of a practitioner. His views defy neat categorization as either liberal or conservative. He belongs to no “school.” His voice and his views are distinctive, provocative, and refreshing.
Those with a focus on political and cultural developments and who have a critical interest in America’s role in the world will be keenly interested in this book.
I’ve been reading Bacevich’s work for about a decade, now. Really like his writing, and while I don’t agree with all of his positions, his work is always thought-provoking and often spot-on. Twilight of the American Century is published by the University of Notre Dame Press in November 2018, and will be available in the UK.
Lou Berney, NOVEMBER ROAD (William Morrow)
Frank Guidry’s luck has finally run out.
A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry has learned that everybody is expendable. But now it’s his turn — he knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Within hours of JFK’s murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead, and Guidry suspects he’s next: he was in Dallas on an errand for the boss less than two weeks before the president was shot. With few good options, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas, to see an old associate — a dangerous man who hates Marcello enough to help Guidry vanish.
Guidry knows that the first rule of running is “don’t stop,” but when he sees a beautiful housewife on the side of the road with a broken-down car, two little daughters and a dog in the back seat, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his tail. Posing as an insurance man, Guidry offers to help Charlotte reach her destination, California. If she accompanies him to Vegas, he can help her get a new car.
For her, it’s more than a car — it’s an escape. She’s on the run too, from a stifling existence in small-town Oklahoma and a kindly husband who’s a hopeless drunk.
It’s an American story: two strangers meet to share the open road west, a dream, a hope — and find each other on the way.
Charlotte sees that he’s strong and kind; Guidry discovers that she’s smart and funny. He learns that’s she determined to give herself and her kids a new life; she can’t know that he’s desperate to leave his old one behind.
Another rule — fugitives shouldn’t fall in love, especially with each other. A road isn’t just a road, it’s a trail, and Guidry’s ruthless and relentless hunters are closing in on him. But now Guidry doesn’t want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.
Everyone’s expendable, or they should be, but now Guidry just can’t throw away the woman he’s come to love.
And it might get them both killed.
I spotted this a while ago in a Harper Collins catalogue, but then it slipped my mind. A few weeks ago, though, Don Winslow started Tweeting about it, and that encouraged me to pick it up upon release. Looking forward to giving it a try. November Road is published by William Morrow (North America) and Harper Collins (UK).
Jordanna Max Brodsky, THE WOLF IN THE WHALE (Redhook)
A young Inuit shaman’s epic quest for survival in the frozen lands of North America in 1000 AD.
Born with the soul of a hunter and the language of the gods, Omat is destined to become a shaman like her grandfather. To protect her people, she invokes the spirits of the sky, the sea, and the air.
But the gods have stopped listening, the seals won’t come, and Omat’s family is starving.
Desperate to save them, Omat journeys through the icy wastes, fighting for survival with every step. When she meets a Viking warrior and his strange new gods, together they set in motion a conflict that could shatter her world… or save it.
The latest novel from the author of the Olympus Unbound trilogy (enjoyed the first two, still need to read the third). This is a stand-alone novel, I believe, and it sounds really interesting. Also sounds like it might be perfect for my upcoming, cold winter in Canada… The Wolf in the Whale is due to be published in January 2019, by Redhook in North America and Orbit in the UK.
Also on CR: Review of The Immortals
Max Allan Collins & A. Brad Schwartz, SCARFACE AND THE UNTOUCHABLE (William Morrow)
The definitive history of Al Capone, Eliot Ness’s Untouchables, and gangster-era Chicago
In 1929, thirty-year-old gangster Al Capone ruled both Chicago’s underworld and its corrupt government. To a public who scorned Prohibition, “Scarface” became a local hero and national celebrity. But after the brutal St. Valentine’s Day Massacre transformed Capone into “Public Enemy Number One,” the federal government found an unlikely new hero in a twenty-seven-year-old Prohibition agent named Eliot Ness. Chosen to head the legendary law enforcement team known as “The Untouchables,” Ness set his sights on crippling Capone’s criminal empire.
Today, no underworld figure is more iconic than Al Capone and no lawman as renowned as Eliot Ness. Yet in 2016 the Chicago Tribune wrote, “Al Capone still awaits the biographer who can fully untangle, and balance, the complexities of his life,” while revisionist historians have continued to misrepresent Ness and his remarkable career.
Enter Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz, a unique and vibrant writing team combining the narrative skill of a master novelist with the scholarly rigor of a trained historian. Collins is the New York Timesbestselling author of the gangster classic Road to Perdition. Schwartz is a rising-star historian whose work anticipated the fake-news phenomenon.
Scarface and the Untouchable draws upon decades of primary source research — including the personal papers of Ness and his associates, newly released federal files, and long-forgotten crime magazines containing interviews with the gangsters and G-men themselves. Collins and Schwartz have recaptured a bygone bullet-ridden era while uncovering the previously unrevealed truth behind Scarface’s downfall. Together they have crafted the definitive work on Capone, Ness, and the battle for Chicago.
Roger Daltrey, THANKS A LOT MR. KIBBLEWHITE (Henry Holt)
The frontman of one of the greatest bands of all time tells the story of his rise from nothing to rock ‘n’ roll megastar, and his wild journey as the voice of The Who.
“It’s taken me three years to unpack the events of my life, to remember who did what when and why, to separate the myths from the reality, to unravel what really happened at the Holiday Inn on Keith Moon’s 21st birthday,” says Roger Daltrey, the powerhouse vocalist of The Who. The result of this introspection is a remarkable memoir, instantly captivating, funny and frank, chock-full of well-earned wisdom and one-of-a-kind anecdotes from a raucous life that spans a tumultuous time of change in Britain and America.
Born during the air bombing of London in 1944, Daltrey fought his way (literally) through school and poverty and began to assemble the band that would become The Who while working at a sheet metal factory in 1961. In Daltrey’s voice, the familiar stories — how they got into smashing up their kit, the infighting, Keith Moon’s antics — take on a new, intimate life. Also here is the creative journey through the unforgettable hits including My Generation, Substitute, Pinball Wizard, and the great albums, Who’s Next, Tommy, and Quadrophenia. Amidst all the music and mayhem, the drugs, the premature deaths, the ruined hotel rooms, Roger is our perfect narrator, remaining sober (relatively) and observant and determined to make The Who bigger and bigger. Not only his personal story, this is the definitive biography of The Who.
DJ Daniel, GREEN JAY AND CROW (Abaddon)
A prescient science fiction vision of humanity and identity in a trans-human world
Eva, the Green Jay, is a “body double” — 3D printed from plant matter, disposable. She should have disintegrated weeks ago.
Instead, she has managed to stay alive, hidden by the Chemical Conjurers — robot twins, hobby-synthesists — and aided by the unfathomable alien Tenties. But her life — such as it is, such as any life can be in the strange, half-forgotten borough of Barlewin in the shadow of the High Track, where neon light falls on broken cobbles — is still precarious. What she really needs is inside a Time Locked box, a box locked by Time, held by the local crime boss, Guerra.
Eva knows she can count on Mac, who loves her, but her survival hangs on Mac’s friend Brom, the Crow. And she’s not sure about him at all.
Hadn’t heard about this one before I received it from the publisher. Sounds pretty interesting, though, and quite different to a lot of other books coming out at the moment. Looking forward to giving it a try. Green Jay and Crow is due to be published by Abaddon in North America and the UK in December 2018.
Sebastien de Castell, SOULBINDER (Orbit)
A failed mage learns that just because he’s not the chosen one it doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero…
For Kellen, the only way to survive is to hide. His curse is growing stronger, bringing dark and violent visions, and the bounty hunters dogging his heels get closer every day.
Desperate, he searches for a mysterious order of monks rumored to have a cure. But salvation comes with a high price.
The fourth novel in Sebastien de Castell’s Spellslinger series. Really looking forward to giving these books a try — I really enjoyed the author’s first two Greatcoats novels (ashamed that I’ve fallen behind!). Soulbinder is due to be published by Orbit in North America (December 4th), and is out now in the UK published by Hot Key Books.
Leif Enger, VIRGIL WANDER (Grove Press)
Midwestern movie house owner Virgil Wander is “cruising along at medium altitude” when his car flies off the road into icy Lake Superior. Virgil survives but his language and memory are altered and he emerges into a world no longer familiar to him. Awakening in this new life, Virgil begins to piece together his personal history and the lore of his broken town, with the help of a cast of affable and curious locals — from Rune, a twinkling, pipe-smoking, kite-flying stranger investigating the mystery of his disappeared son; to Nadine, the reserved, enchanting wife of the vanished man, to Tom, a journalist and Virgil’s oldest friend; and various members of the Pea family who must confront tragedies of their own. Into this community returns a shimmering prodigal son who may hold the key to reviving their town.
Bought this on a whim — spotted some pre-publication buzz on the Twitters, and thought sample available online was promising. Maybe has a Richard Russo vibe? Will read soon. Virgil Wander is out now, published by Grove Press in North America and Corsair in the UK.
W. L. Goodwater, BREACH (Ace)
The first novel in a new Cold War fantasy series, where the Berlin Wall is made entirely of magic. When a breach unexpectedly appears in the wall, spies from both sides swarm to the city as World War III threatens to spark.
AFTER THE WAR, THE WALL BROUGHT AN UNEASY PEACE.
When Soviet magicians conjured an arcane wall to blockade occupied Berlin, the world was outraged but let it stand for the sake of peace. Now, after ten years of fighting with spies instead of spells, the CIA has discovered the unthinkable…
THE WALL IS FAILING.
While refugees and soldiers mass along the border, operatives from East and West converge on the most dangerous city in the world to either stop the crisis, or take advantage of it.
Karen, a young magician with the American Office of Magical Research and Deployment, is sent to investigate the breach in the Wall and determine if it can be fixed. Instead, she discovers that the truth is elusive in this divided city–and that even magic itself has its own agenda.
THE TRUTH OF THE WALL IS ABOUT TO BE REVEALED.
I only heard about this book a few days ago, but it has really piqued my interest. Published in November by Ace Books in North America (it will be available in the UK as well), I’m really looking forward to reading it ASAP.
Greg Grandin, THE END OF THE MYTH (Metropolitan Books)
An eye-opening account of what the call for a border wall reveals about America’s new sense of itself.
From this nation’s very inception, the idea of an open and ever-expanding frontier has been the central metaphor of American identity, a symbol of a future of endless promise, and the foundation of America’s belief in itself as an exceptional nation — democratic, individualistic, forward-looking. Today, though, America has a new metaphor: the border wall.
In this original revision of Frederick Jackson’s influential 1893 essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” Greg Grandin explores a remarkable reversal in the country’s sense of itself. Whereas America’s constant expansion in the twentieth century, fighting wars and opening markets, served as what Turner called a “gate of escape,” helping to deflect domestic economic and political conflicts outward, the combined catastrophe of our never-ending war in the Middle East and the financial meltdown slammed this gate shut, bringing political passions that had long been directed outward back home. It is in this inward turn that Grandin finds the sources of the conservative populism and racist nationalism, the extreme anger and polarization directed simultaneously at elites and foreigners that in 2016 catapulted Donald Trump to the presidency.
The border wall may or may not be built, but it will survive as a rallying point, an allegorical tombstone marking the end of American Exceptionalism.
Greg Grandin’s had a pretty varied writing career. True, always focused on the US and foreign policy, but taking some interesting approaches to examine certain aspects thereof: for example, Fordlandia and Kissinger’s Shadow. In his latest book, he takes a look at the myth of the Frontier and how it has shaped the United States’ culture and foreign policy. I’ve already dipped in, and enjoyed what I read. The End of the Myth is due to be published by Metropolitan Books in March 2019 (it will be available in the UK).
Thomas Christopher Greene, THE PERFECT LIAR (St. Martin’s Press)
A seemingly perfect marriage is threatened by the deadly secrets husband and wife keep from each other.
Susannah, a young widow and single mother, has remarried well: to Max, a charismatic artist and popular speaker whose career took her and her fifteen-year-old son out of New York City and to a quiet Vermont university town. Strong-willed and attractive, Susannah expects that her life is perfectly in place again. Then one quiet morning she finds a note on her door: I KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
Max dismisses the note as a prank. But days after a neighborhood couple comes to dinner, the husband mysteriously dies in a tragic accident while on a run with Max. Soon thereafter, a second note appears on their door: DID YOU GET AWAY WITH IT?
Both Susannah and Max are keeping secrets from the world and from each other — secrets that could destroy their family and everything they have built.
The latest novel from the author of The Headmaster’s Wife (a sleeper hit of 2014) and the superb If I Forget You (one of my favourite novels of the past few years). The Perfect Liar is due to be published in North America by St. Martin’s Press (January 15th, 2019), and will be available in the UK.
Guy Haley, DARK IMPERIUM: PLAGUE WAR (Black Library)
In the void and upon the worlds of Greater Ultramar, the battle for the Imperium continues. Intent on rebuilding his home realm and using it as base to reconstruct the ravaged stellar empire of mankind, the returned primarch Roboute Guilliman proceeds with his war to drive Mortarion and his Death Guard Traitor Legion from the domain of the Ultramarines. But when Guilliman brings his brother to battle upon the diseased plains of Parmenio, the intervention of a greater power in their fraternal struggle threatens to upend the Imperial Regent’s understanding of the galaxy, and his place within it.
This is the second volume in Haley’s Dark Imperium trilogy, which was the first to move the WH40k narrative forward quite a bit (and in interesting ways, too). Plague War is out now, published by Black Library.
Yuval Noah Harari, 21 QUESTIONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY (Jonathan Cape)
Sapiens showed us where we came from. Homo Deus looked to the future. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century explores the present.
How can we protect ourselves from nuclear war, ecological cataclysms and technological disruptions? What can we do about the epidemic of fake news or the threat of terrorism? What should we teach our children?
Yuval Noah Harari takes us on a thrilling journey through today’s most urgent issues. The golden thread running through his exhilarating new book is the challenge of maintaining our collective and individual focus in the face of constant and disorienting change. Are we still capable of understanding the world we have created?
I’ve been meaning to try Harari’s books for some time — both Sapiens and Homo Deus sound fascinating — and the other day I listened to a podcast on which Jonathan Capehart interviewed Harari and it was fascinating. So, I decided to pick this up. Hopefully get to it soon. 21 Questions for the 21st Century is out now, published by Spiegel & Grau (US) and Jonathan Cape (UK).
Dave Hutchinson, EUROPE AT DAWN (Solaris)
Alice works at the Scottish Embassy in Tallinn in Estonia as a member of the Cultural Section. When two men bring her the jewelled skull of a Scottish saint her world gets turned on its head, and she becomes the latest recruit to Les Coureurs des Bois.
On a Greek island Benno is just one of hundreds of refuges dreaming of a new life in Continental Europe. After hatching an audacious escape plan, he may just get his dream, but at the price of serving some powerful mysterious new masters.
Rudi and Rupert, the seasoned Coureur and the scientist in exile from a pocket universe, discover that someone they thought long dead is very much still alive. Not only that, but the now defunct Line – the railway that once bisected the European continent – may be being used for nefarious means.
Eric Idle, ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE (Crown)
From the ingenious comic performer, founding member of Monty Python, and creator of Spamalot, comes an absurdly funny memoir of unparalleled wit and heartfelt candor
We know him best for his unforgettable roles on Monty Python — from the Flying Circus to The Meaning of Life. Now, Eric Idle reflects on the meaning of his own life in this entertaining memoir that takes us on a remarkable journey from his childhood in an austere boarding school through his successful career in comedy, television, theater, and film. Coming of age as a writer and comedian during the Sixties and Seventies, Eric stumbled into the crossroads of the cultural revolution and found himself rubbing shoulders with the likes of George Harrison, David Bowie, and Robin Williams, all of whom became dear lifelong friends. With anecdotes sprinkled throughout involving other close friends and luminaries such as Mike Nichols, Mick Jagger, Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Lorne Michaels, and many more, as well as John Cleese and the Pythons themselves, Eric captures a time of tremendous creative output with equal parts hilarity and heart. In Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, named for the song he wrote for Life of Brian and which has since become the number one song played at funerals in the UK, he shares the highlights of his life and career with the kind of offbeat humor that has delighted audiences for five decades. The year 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of The Pythons, and Eric is marking the occasion with this hilarious memoir chock full of behind-the-scenes stories from a high-flying life featuring everyone from Princess Leia to Queen Elizabeth.
Another Python pens his memoir! Also available are Michael Palin’s three sets of diaries, and John Cleese’s excellent first (I believe) memoir, So Anyway… Really looking forward to reading this one. Eric Idle was recently interviewed by Sam Jones for his show Off Camera, which I also highly recommend (the episode and the show in general). Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is out now, published by Crown in North America and Weidenfeld & Nicolson in the UK.
Antony Johnston, STEALING LIFE (Abaddon)
It was just another job, right?
Nicco Salarum is a thief, and a good one. In the rough-and-tumble city of Azbatha, where every street hustler has an enchantment in his back pocket, Nicco prides himself on using his skills – and the best technology money can buy – to get him into the houses and boardrooms of the wealthy.
But Nicco’s last job went sour, leaving him in debt to a powerful gang boss, and deep in trouble. When a foreign wizard offers him a vast sum for a visiting diplomat’s trinket, he leaps at the opportunity.
But nothing happens in a vacuum. Caught in a game where the futures of whole nations are at stake, Nicco finds himself racing against time to right his wrongs… and save his own skin.
The new novel by the author of Atomic Blonde and The Fuse (just one of his comic series, but one I really enjoy). Stealing Life is due to be published on November 1st by Abaddon Books.
David Kushner, THE PLAYERS BALL (Simon & Schuster)
A Wild West look at the early days of the internet — the incredible battle between the founder of Match.com and the con man who swindled him out of the online domain name Sex.com in an all-out war for control over the fuel that still powers the online world to this day: love and lust.
In 1994, visionary entrepreneur Gary Kremen used a $2,500 loan to create the first online dating service, Match.com. Despite only 5 percent of Americans using the internet at the time, Kremen insisted his invention would transform our lives. That wasn’t all he was accurately predicted. He also anticipated that internet addresses, or domain names, would be the bedrock of the dawning digital frontier, eventually gathering the same kind of value as real estate properties. So, while his friends thought he was crazy, he bought dozens up, including the domain Sex.com. Love and lust, he believed, would fuel this new world to new heights. But in 1995, as Kremen prepared to launch his next venture, he was shocked to learn that someone named Stephen Michael Cohen had stolen the rights to the Sex.com name and was making millions that Kremen had never seen.
In The Players Ball, award-winning journalist David Kushner draws from years of research and interviews to vividly recreate the Wild West years online, when innovators and outlaws battled for power and money. He explores the risks, rewards, challenges, and back alleys of how the world online came to be and provides essential insights about where it’s heading. The Players Ball is the rollicking true story of a decade-long cat-and-mouse game between a genius and a con man that changed the way people connect, and defined the digital age.
Kushner has already written a couple of books about the gaming industry (about Doom and GTA), and before this latest book one about Gary Gygax. I haven’t read any of those, but I’m looking forward to giving his work a try. The Players Ball is published by by Simon & Schuster in North America and in the UK.
Mike Lawson, HOUSE ARREST (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Joe DeMarco finds himself on the wrong side of an investigation — in the wake of a political assassination, he’s been framed as the killer.
As the fixer for Congressman John Mahoney in Washington, D.C., Joe DeMarco has had to bend and break the law more than a few times. But when Representative Lyle Canton, House Majority Whip, is found shot dead in his office in the U.S. Capitol and DeMarco is arrested for the murder, DeMarco knows he’s been framed. Locked up in the Alexandria Jail awaiting trial, he calls on his enigmatic friend Emma, an ex-DIA agent, to search for the true killer.
Emma’s investigation leads her to Sebastian Spear, the ruthless and competitive CEO of the multi-billion-dollar Spear Industries. Spear had a motive for killing Lyle Canton: Canton’s wife, Jean, had once been Spear’s high school sweetheart and the one true love of his life — until Canton won her over. Now Jean was dead, killed in a car crash while driving drunk, and Spear blamed Canton for the accident. But the case the F.B.I. has built against DeMarco is airtight, and not a single piece of evidence points to the grieving CEO. Using her cunning and her D.C. connections, Emma sets out to prove that Spear has been using some fixers of his own.
The thirteenth novel in Lawson’s Joe DeMarco political thriller series. House Arrest is due to be published by Atlantic Monthly Press, on February 5th, 2019.
Michael Lewis, THE FIFTH RISK (Allen Lane)
‘The election happened… And then there was radio silence.’
The morning after Trump was elected president, the people who ran the US Department of Energy — an agency that deals with some of the most powerful risks facing humanity — waited to welcome the incoming administration’s transition team. Nobody appeared. Across the US government, the same thing happened: nothing.
People don’t notice when stuff goes right. That is the stuff government does. It manages everything that underpins our lives from funding free school meals, to policing rogue nuclear activity, to predicting extreme weather events. It steps in where private investment fears to tread, innovates and creates knowledge, assesses extreme long-term risk.
And now, government is under attack. By its own leaders.
In The Fifth Risk, Michael Lewis reveals the combustible cocktail of wilful ignorance and venality that is fuelling the destruction of a country’s fabric. All of this, Lewis shows, exposes America and the world to the biggest risk of all. It is what you never learned that might have saved you.
I’ve been a fan of Lewis’s journalism and long-form writing for years, now (Flash Boys is one of my favourite books and, in my opinion, one of the best examples of narrative non-fiction in decades). He has an incredible gift for storytelling. In The Fifth Risk, he takes a look at the US government post-2016 election. The book is out now, published by Allen Lane in the UK, and W.W. Norton in the US.
Angus Macallan, GATES OF STONE (Ace)
In a world of blood and magic, a powerful epic fantasy begins…
AN EMPEROR’S DAUGHTER WHO WILL NOT BE DENIED
Just before her sixteenth birthday, Princess Katerina is refused her rightful place as heir to the Empire of the Ice-Bear — solely because of her sex. Determined to regain her inheritance, she murders the foreign lord she’s been ordered to marry and embarks on a perilous voyage to the lush, tropical islands of the Laut Besar in search of the vast wealth and power she needs to claim the Empire for herself.
A PRINCE FORCED TO TAKE A STAND
On a small island kingdom, Prince Arjun’s idyllic life is shattered when a malignant sorcerer invades, slaughters his people and steals the sacred sword of Jun’s ancestors. With his royal father dead and his palace in ruins, Jun reluctantly tracks the sorcerer and the magical blade far across the pirate-infested waters of the Laut Besar.
A SORCERER SEEKING TO DESTROY THE WORLD
Long ago the powerful relics known as the Seven Keys were used to safely lock away the terrifying evils of the Seven Hells. With Jun’s ancient sword in his grasp, the sorcerer Mangku has claimed the first Key, and begun his mission to unleash catastrophe upon the land.
As the destinies of these three entwine in the lawless islands of the Laut Besar, the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. For if the sorcerer cannot be stopped, the world itself will be unmade…
The start of a new fantasy series, A Lord of the Islands, from author Angus Donald (under a new pen-name, obviously). Haven’t heard too much about it, but I suppose it’s still pretty early. Peter McLean described it as “read[ing] like a collaboration between Joe Abercrombie and James Clavell”, which certainly bodes well. Gates of Stone is due to be published in February 2019 by Ace Books in North America and in the UK.
Kyle Mills, RED WAR (Simon & Schuster)
When Russian president Maxim Krupin discovers that he has inoperable brain cancer, he’s determined to cling to power. His first task is to kill or imprison any of his countrymen who can threaten him. Soon, though, his illness becomes serious enough to require a more dramatic diversion — war with the West.
Upon learning of Krupin’s condition, CIA director Irene Kennedy understands that the US is facing an opponent who has nothing to lose. The only way to avoid a confrontation that could leave millions dead is to send Mitch Rapp to Russia under impossibly dangerous orders. With the Kremlin’s entire security apparatus hunting him, he must find and kill a man many have deemed the most powerful in the world.
Success means averting a war that could consume all of Europe. But if his mission is discovered, Rapp will plunge Russia and America into a conflict that neither will survive.
The eagerly-anticipated 17th novel in the Mitch Rapp series — created by Vince Flynn, and skillfully continued by Kyle Mills following Flynn’s untimely passing. Red War is out now, published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books in North America and Simon & Schuster in the UK.
David Thomas Moore (ed.), CREATURES: THE LEGACY OF FRANKENSTEIN (Abaddon)
Victor Frankenstein is the first to unlock the key to life, but not the last. Over two centuries of relentless advancement, five more minds find the secret, and five more creatures are made.
Five more stories end in tragedy.
From the stinking streets of 1850s London to the sun-drenched hysteria of a modern cruise liner, amidst passion, jealousy, art, obsession, desperation and war, Creatures is a hidden history of a forbidden science.
Review copy received from publisher
Megan Mullalley & Nick Offerman, THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER TOLD (Dutton)
The year: 2000. The setting: Los Angeles. A gorgeous virtuoso of an actress agreed to star in a random play, and a basement-dwelling scenic carpenter said he would assay a supporting role in the selfsame pageant. At the first rehearsal she surveyed her fellow cast members, determining if any of the men might qualify to provide her with a satisfying fling. Her gaze fell upon the carpenter, and like a bolt of lightning the thought struck her: no dice. Moving on.
Yet, unbeknownst to our protagonists, Cupid had merely set down his bow and picked up a rocket launcher… that fired a love rocket (not a euphemism). The players were Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, and the resulting romance, once ignited, was… epic. Beyond epic. It resulted in a coupling that has endured to this day; a sizzling, perpetual tryst that has captivated the world with its kindness, athleticism, astonishingly low-brow humor, and true (fire emoji) passion.
How did they do it? They came from completely different families, ignored a significant age difference, and were separated by the gulf of several social strata. Megan loved books and art history; Nick loved hammers. But much more than these seemingly unsurpassable obstacles were the values they held in common: respect, decency, the ability to mention genitalia in almost any context, and an abiding obsession with the songs of Tom Waits.
Eighteen years later, they’re still very much in love and have finally decided to reveal the philosophical mountains they have conquered, the lessons they’ve learned, and the myriad jigsaw puzzles they’ve completed. Presented as an oral history in a series of conversations between the couple, the book features anecdotes, hijinks, photos, and a veritable grab bag of tomfoolery. This is not only the intoxicating book that Mullally’s and Offerman’s fans have been waiting for, it might just hold the solution to the greatest threat facing our modern world: the single life.
Big fan of Offerman and Mullally’s work, and loved the two of Offerman’s books I’ve read already. This should be pretty fun, too. The Greatest Love Story Ever Told is out now, published by Dutton in North America and in the UK.
Daniel José Older, LAST SHOT (Arrow)
Even the fastest ship in the galaxy can’t outrun the past…
THEN: It’s one of the galaxy’s most dangerous secrets: a mysterious transmitter with unknown power and a reward for its discovery that most could only dream of claiming. But those who fly the Millennium Falconthroughout its infamous history aren’t your average scoundrels. Not once, but twice, the crew of the Falcon tries to claim the elusive prize — first, Lando Calrissian and the droid L3-37 at the dawn of an ambitious career, and later, a young and hungry Han Solo with the help of his copilot, Chewbacca. But the device’s creator, the volatile criminal Fyzen Gor, isn’t interested in sharing. And Gor knows how to hold a grudge…
NOW: It’s been ten years since the rebel hero Han Solo last encountered Fyzen Gor. After mounting a successful rebellion against the Empire and starting a family with an Alderaanian princess, Han hasn’t given much thought to the mad inventor. But when Lando turns up at Han’s doorstep in the middle of the night, it’s Fyzen’s assassins that he’s running from. And without Han’s help, Lando — and all life on Cloud City — will be annihilated.
With the assistance of a young hotshot pilot, an Ewok slicer prodigy, the woman who might be the love of Lando’s life, and Han’s best and furriest friend, the two most notorious scoundrels in the New Republic are working together once more. They’ll have to journey across the stars — and into the past — before Gor uses the device’s power to reshape the galaxy.
Older’s latest novel, a story about two of the galaxy’s most beloved scoundrels: Han Solo and Lands Calrissian. Sounds like fun. Last Shot is out now in paperback, published in the UK by Arrow and in North America by Del Rey.
Anne Rice, BLOOD COMMUNION (Knopf)
The Vampire Chronicles continue with a riveting, rich saga — part adventure, part suspense — of Prince Lestat and the story of the Blood Communion as he tells the tale of his coming to rule the vampire world and the eternal struggle to find belonging, a place in the universe for the undead, and how, against his will, he must battle the menacing, seemingly unstoppable force determined to thwart his vision and destroy the entire vampire netherworld.
In this spellbinding novel, Lestat, rebel outlaw, addresses the tribe of vampires, directly, intimately, passionately, and tells the mesmerizing story of the formation of the Blood Communion and how he became Prince of the vampire world, the true ruler of this vast realm, and how his vision for all the Children of the Universe to thrive as one, came to be.
The tale spills from Lestat’s heart, as he speaks first of his new existence as reigning monarch — and then of his fierce battle of wits and words with the mysterious Rhoshamandes, proud Child of the Millennia, reviled outcast for his senseless slaughter of the legendary ancient vampire Maharet, avowed enemy of Queen Akasha; Rhoshamandes, a demon spirit who refuses to live in harmony at the Court of Prince Lestat and threatens all that Lestat has dreamt of.
As the tale unfolds, Lestat takes us from the towers and battlements of his ancestral castle in the snow-covered mountains of France to the verdant wilds of lush Louisiana with its lingering fragrances of magnolias and night jasmine; from the far reaches of the Pacific’s untouched islands to the 18th-century city of St. Petersburg and the court of the Empress Catherine…
The thirteenth novel in Rice’s best-selling Vampire Chronicles series, and first since the mythology was upended and dramatically altered in Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis. Blood Communion is out now, published by Knopf (North America) and Chatto & Windus (UK).
Adrian Selby, THE WINTER ROAD (Orbit)
The greatest empire of them all began with a road.
The Circle – a thousand miles of perilous forests and warring clans. No one has ever tamed such treacherous territory before, but ex-soldier Teyr Amondsen, veteran of a hundred battles, is determined to try.
With a merchant caravan protected by a crew of skilled mercenaries, Amondsen embarks on a dangerous mission to forge a road across the untamed wilderness that was once her home. But a warlord rises in the wilds of the Circle, uniting its clans and terrorising its people. Teyr’s battles may not be over yet…
All roads lead back to war.
The second novel by the author of Snakewood. This is a stand-alone novel set in the same world, and it sounds pretty interesting. The Winter Road is due to be published mid-November by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK.
Harry Turtledove, THROUGH DARKEST EUROPE (Tor)
A world dominated by a prosperous and democratic Middle East — and under threat from the world’s worst trouble spot.
Senior investigator Khalid al-Zarzisi is a modern man, a product of the unsurpassed educational systems of North Africa and the Middle East. Liberal, tolerant, and above all rich, the countries and cultures of North Africa and the Middle East have dominated the globe for centuries, from the Far East to the young nations of the Sunset Lands.
But one region has festered for decades: Europe, whose despots and monarchs can barely contain the simmering anger of their people. From Ireland to Scandinavia, Italy to Spain, European fundemantalists have carried out assassinations, hijackings, and bombings on their own soil and elsewhere. Extremist fundamentalist leaders have begun calling for a “crusade”, an obscure term from the mists of European history.
Now Khalid has been sent to Rome, ground zero of backwater discontent. He and his partner Dawud have been tasked with figuring out how to protect the tinpot Grand Duke, the impoverished Pope, and the overall status quo, before European instability starts overflowing into the First World.
Then the bombs start to go off.
I have never read anything by Turtledove, one of the masters of (SFF) alternate history. This sounds like it could be quite interesting, however, so I shall try to fit it into the reading schedule. Through Darkest Europe is published by Tor Books, and is out now.
Various, INFERNO VOLUME 1 (Black Library)
The premiere volume of this new anthology series brings you new short fiction from the worlds of Warhammer. Penned by debut and current Black Library authors, its tales range from the back streets of the world-that was to a shrouded inn in the Mortal Realms, while in the brutal galaxy of the Dark Imperium, the Ultramarines and others deliver the Emperor’s fury to their many foes, and in the depths of Necromunda’s underhive, gangers clash in brutal combat.
The Unsung War by David Annandale
No Hero by Peter McLean
The Path to Glory by Evan Dicken
A Common Groundby Mike Brooks
The Emperor’s Wrathby Steven B Fischer
Waking the Dragon by Josh Reynolds
The Enemy of My Enemy by Nate Crowley
How Vido Learned the Trick by Josh Reynolds
The Firstborn Daughter by Filip Wiltgren
Mercy by Danie Ware
At the Sign of the Brazen Claw by Guy Haley
The first incarnation of Inferno, published in the early 2000s, was one of the reading highlights of my youth. Published before Black Library was really a thing, it was a bimonthly collection of short stories, comic strips, and other Warhammer/40k-related content. Gaunt’s Ghosts started there. Other authors got their start there — some have gone on to write other stories and novels within the Black Library universes, while others still have gone on to write their own worlds. I’m really happy they brought back the format, especially since short fiction has always been one of their fortes. It’s also great that they’re going to be including stories from across the GW lines, which means each issue of Inferno should be a good intro to new readers and fans alike. I started reading #1 the day I got it, and it’s great so far. Inferno Volume 1 is out now, published by Black Library.
Alex White, A BAD DEAL FOR THE WHOLE GALAXY (Orbit)
The greatest dangers hide the brightest treasures in this bold, planet-hopping science fiction adventure series.
The crew of the legendary Capricious are rich enough to retire in comfort for the rest of their days, but none of it matters if the galaxy is still in danger.
Nilah and Boots, the ship’s newest crew-members hear the word of a mysterious cult that may have links back to an ancient and all-powerful magic. To find it, hot-headed Nilah will have to go undercover and find the source of their power without revealing her true identity. Meanwhile, Boots is forced to confront the one person she’d hoped never to see again: her old, turn-coat treasure-hunting partner.
The second novel in White’s Salvagers trilogy, I’m really looking forward to reading the series — I’ve let it pass me by for longer than I’d anticipated, but my reading speed has plummeted of late. Hopefully rectify this over the winter months. A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy is published in December by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK.
Ben H. Winters, GOLDEN STATE (Mulholland)
A mind-bending novel set in a world governed by absolute truth, where lies are as dangerous as murder.
In a strange alternate society that values law and truth above all else, Laszlo Ratesic is a nineteen-year veteran of the Speculative Service. He lives in the Golden State, a nation standing where California once did, a place where like-minded Americans retreated after the erosion of truth and the spread of lies made public life and governance impossible.
In the Golden State, knowingly contradicting the truth is the greatest crime–and stopping those crimes is Laz’s job. In its service, he is one of the few individuals permitted to harbor untruths, to “speculate” on what might have happened.
But the Golden State is less a paradise than its name might suggest. To monitor, verify, and enforce the truth requires a veritable panopticon of surveillance and recording. And when those in control of the facts twist them for nefarious means, the Speculators are the only ones with the power to fight back.