Orbit Books (North America) and Tor Books (UK) have acquired a new trilogy from Adrian Tchaikovsky! This is fantastic news, because every new novel (or novella) by Tchaikovsky is something to be cheered and eagerly anticipated. There’s not much information, yet, about the trilogy save for this mini-description:
The new far-future science fiction trilogy begins with Shards of Earth, which will be published worldwide in spring 2021. The novel is set fifty years after a war that nearly extinguished humanity, when the enemies of the human race reappear after a long silence.
Spring 2021 still feels very far away, though. If you are new to Tchaikovsky’s work, or have yet to read anything by him, then maybe you’d like to read one of his already-available novels before the new one comes out? But where to begin? Adrian has written a lot of great novels, by now, so here are just a few suggestions for you to pick from, depending on your tastes. (He has written many more excellent books, but these are just some I think would be good starting points.)
EMPIRE IN BLACK AND GOLD, Shadows of the Apt (Fantasy)
The days of peace are over…
The city states of the Lowlands have lived in peace and prosperity for decades, hailed as bastions of civilization and sophistication. That peace is about to end.
Far from the Lowlands, an ancient empire has been conquering city after city with its highly trained armies and sophisticated combat techniques. Now it’s set its sights on a new prize.
Only the ageing Stenwold Maker – spymaster, artificer and statesman – can see the threat. So it falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of his people. For war will sweep across their lands, burning away everything in its path. Yet first, he must stop himself from becoming the empire’s latest victim.
Tchaikovsky’s debut novel, Empire in Black and Gold, is the first novel in the ten-book epic Shadows of the Apt fantasy series. Weirdly, it is the only one in the series I’ve read, but I loved it — the series fell to the wayside as it was being published when I was moving a lot, and so kept losing track of where the books were. I’ve since been buying the eBooks, so I really have no excuse to not get caught up. It’s a fantastic world, populated by interesting and engaging characters.
The Shadows of the Apt series is published by Tor Books in the UK. The first few books were originally available in North America via Pyr, but it looks like now Tor has made them available in North America as well.
THE TIGER AND THE WOLF, Echoes of the Fall (Fantasy Trilogy)
In the bleak northern crown of the world, war is coming…
Maniye’s father is the Wolf clan’s chieftain, but she’s an outcast. Her mother was queen of the Tiger and these tribes have been enemies for generations. Maniye also hides a deadly secret. All can shift into their clan’s animal form, but Maniye can take on tiger and wolf shapes. She refuses to disown half her soul so escapes, rescuing a prisoner of the Wolf clan in the process. The killer Broken Axe is set on their trail, to drag them back for retribution.
The Wolf chieftan plots to rule the north and controlling his daughter is crucial to his schemes. However, other tribes also prepare for strife. Strangers from the far south appear too, seeking allies in their own conflict. It’s a season for omens as priests foresee danger and a darkness falling across the land. Some say a great war is coming, overshadowing even Wolf ambitions. A time of testing and broken laws is near, but what spark will set the world ablaze?
If fantasy is your thing, but you want more than a novella but are intimidated by a ten-book epic commitment, then maybe the Echoes of the Fall trilogy is a good place to start. The Tiger and the Wolf, The Bear and the Serpent and The Hyena and the Hawk were all critically acclaimed when released, and the first book won the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel.
The Echoes of the Fall trilogy is published by Tor Books in the UK.
Also on CR: Guest Post on “Looking for God in Melnibone Places: Fantasy & Religion”
The Church of Armes of the Light has battled the forces of Darkness for as long as anyone can remember. The great prophecy has foretold that a band of misfits, led by a high priestess will defeat the Dark Lord Darvezian, armed with their wits, the blessing of the Light and an artifact stolen from the merciless Spider Queen.
Their journey will be long, hard and fraught with danger. Allies will become enemies; enemies will become allies. And the Dark Lord will be waiting, always waiting…
A superb stand-alone novella, Spiderlight follows the experiences and travails of a spider turned into a human, who finds themselves attached to a band of adventurers. An excellent introduction to the author’s work, if you’re looking for something on the shorter side.
GUNS OF THE DAWN (Fantasy, Stand-Alone)
The first casualty of war is truth…
First, Denland’s revolutionaries assassinated their king, launching a wave of bloodshed after generations of peace. Next they clashed with Lascanne, their royalist neighbour, pitching war-machines against warlocks in a fiercely fought conflict.
Genteel Emily Marshwic watched as the hostilities stole her family’s young men. But then came the call for yet more Lascanne soldiers in a ravaged kingdom with none left to give. Emily must join the ranks of conscripted women and march toward the front lines.
With barely enough training to hold a musket, Emily braves the savage reality of warfare. But she begins to doubt her country’s cause, and those doubts become critical. For her choices will determine her own future and that of two nations locked in battle.
This is a fantastic stand-alone novel. It started a little bit slow, perhaps, but I was quickly hooked and it was easily one of my favourite reads of that year. Definitely recommended if you’re looking for a substantial fantasy read.
Guns of the Dawn is out now, published by Tor Books in the UK.
CHILDREN OF TIME (Sci-Fi)
The epic story of humanity’s battle for survival on a terraformed planet.
Who will inherit this new Earth? The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find a new home among the stars. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they discover the greatest treasure of the past age – a world terraformed and prepared for human life.
But all is not right in this new Eden. In the long years since the planet was abandoned, the work of its architects has borne disastrous fruit. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare.
Now two civilizations are on a collision course, both testing the boundaries of what they will do to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?
The author’s Clark Award-winning novel, and it really is superb. Originally a stand-alone, a sequel was released last year: Children of Ruin. I absolutely loved Children of Time — and I am convinced that I did write a review for it, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere.
Also on CR: Review of Children of Ruin
DOGS OF WAR (Sci-Fi, Stand-Alone)
My name is Rex. I am a good dog.
Rex is also seven foot tall at the shoulder, bulletproof, bristling with heavy calibre weaponry and his voice resonates with subsonics especially designed to instil fear. With Dragon, Honey and Bees, he’s part of a Multiform Assault Pack operating in the lawless anarchy of Campeche, Mexico. A genetically engineered Bioform, he’s a deadly weapon in a dirty war. All he wants to be is a Good Dog. And to do that he must do exactly what Master says and Master says he’s got to kill a lot of enemies.
But who, exactly, are the enemies? What happens when Master is tried as a war criminal? What rights does the Geneva Convention grant weapons? Do Rex and his fellow Bioforms even have a right to exist?
And what happens when Rex slips his leash?
Another stand-alone sci-fi, this time with a canine protagonist. It’s another I haven’t yet managed to read, but it is rapidly climbing my TBR pile (maybe I’ll read it next, actually). I’ve heard great things.
Dogs of War is out now, published by Head of Zeus.
CAGE OF SOULS (Sci-Fi, Stand-Alone)
Humanity clings to life on a dying Earth in an epic, far-future science fiction novel from an award-winning author.
The sun is bloated, diseased, dying perhaps. Beneath its baneful light, Shadrapar, last of all cities, harbours fewer than 100,000 human souls. Built on the ruins of countless civilisations, Shadrapar is a museum, a midden, an asylum, a prison on a world that is ever more alien to humanity.
Bearing witness to the desperate struggle for existence between life old and new is Stefan Advani: rebel, outlaw, prisoner, survivor. This is his testament, an account of the journey that took him into the blazing desolation of the western deserts; that transported him east down the river and imprisoned him in the verdant hell of the jungle’s darkest heart; that led him deep into the labyrinths and caverns of the underworld. He will meet with monsters, madman, mutants.
The question is, which one of them will inherit this Earth?
The author’s most recent stand-alone novel, and one that sounds fantastic. (So many books, so little time!)
Cage of Souls is out now, published by Head of Zeus in the UK.
THE DOORS OF EDEN (Sci-Fi)
They thought we were safe. They were wrong.
Four years ago, two girls went looking for monsters on Bodmin Moor. Only one came back.
Lee thought she’d lost Mal, but now she’s miraculously returned. But what happened that day on the moors? And where has she been all this time? Mal’s reappearance hasn’t gone unnoticed by MI5 officers either, and Lee isn’t the only one with questions.
Julian Sabreur is investigating an attack on top physicist Kay Amal Khan. This leads Julian to clash with agents of an unknown power – and they may or may not be human. His only clue is grainy footage, showing a woman who supposedly died on Bodmin Moor.
Dr Khan’s research was theoretical; then she found cracks between our world and parallel Earths. Now these cracks are widening, revealing extraordinary creatures. And as the doors crash open, anything could come through.