I’m going to be sharing these a bit more frequently, I think. As I’m spending less time on social media, where I would often share as-they-come-in updates and so forth, I don’t want any books to get overlooked or missed.
Featuring: David Annandale, Natalie Haynes, A. M. Homes, Steven Hyden, Alma Katsu, Anthony McCarten, Kyle Mills, Walter Mosley, Anthony Reynolds, James Rollins, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Moses Ose Utomi
David Annandale, MORTARION: THE PALE KING (Black Library)
Once, the Galaspar System suffered under the cruel regime of the Order. Billions of people toiled endlessly to enrich their masters, enduring short lives of poverty, squalor and fear. But Galaspar’s sins did not go unnoticed by the Imperium, and so Death itself sentenced the Order to annihilation. Mortarion, newly uplifted to commander of the Death Guard, descended upon the world, and with him came a slaughter of untold proportions. The sheer brutality of Mortarion’s campaign left the Imperium appalled. Seeking to understand its horrors, two noble primarchs have come to Galaspar, summoning their brother to account for his actions. But the Pale King brooks no challenge to his methods, for when the scythe falls, it reaps a gruesome toll.
The fifteenth book in the Horus Heresy: Primarchs series. As I think I’ve mentioned a few times on CR, I see this series as supplemental, rather than essential. That’s not to say the novels aren’t good (some of them are very good — see, for example, Angron and Alpharius), but they haven’t done as much as novels in the main Horus Heresy series. Annandale does a very good job of giving us some more insight into the Death Guard’s primarch’s motivations, insecurities, and methods. A must for fans of that Legion, for completists, and also for those who do want more HH action to tide them over before the next Siege of Terra novel (or novella) is released. Mortarion: The Pale King is out now, published by Black Library in North America and in the UK.
Natalie Haynes, STONE BLIND (Harper)
They will fear you and flee you and call you a monster.
The only mortal in a family of gods, Medusa is the youngest of the Gorgon sisters. Unlike her siblings, Medusa grows older, experiences change, feels weakness. Her mortal lifespan gives her an urgency that her family will never know.
When the sea god Poseidon assaults Medusa in Athene’s temple, the goddess is enraged. Furious by the violation of her sacred space, Athene takes revenge — on the young woman. Punished for Poseidon’s actions, Medusa is forever transformed. Writhing snakes replace her hair and her gaze will turn any living creature to stone. Cursed with the power to destroy all she loves with one look, Medusa condemns herself to a life of solitude.
Until Perseus embarks upon a fateful quest to fetch the head of a Gorgon…
In Stone Blind, classicist and comedian Natalie Haynes turns our understanding of this legendary myth on its head, bringing empathy and nuance to one of the earliest stories in which a woman — injured by a powerful man — is blamed, punished, and monstered for the assault. Delving into the origins of this mythic tale, Haynes revitalizes and reconstructs Medusa’s story with her passion and fierce wit, offering a timely retelling of this classic myth that speaks to us today.
There has been a boom in mythology-based fiction, of late. As someone who grew up engrossed by Greek, Roman, Norse, and Egyptian mythology (it seemed to be everywhere, but maybe it was just because my school library had a few great books on the subject), I am absolutely here for it. Medusa was always a favourite of mine, so when I saw Haynes’s new novel available for review, I jumped at the chance. Stone Blind is due to be published by Harper in North America on February 7th, 2023. The novel is out now in the UK, published by Mantle.
A. M. Homes, THE UNFOLDING (Viking)
The Big Guy loves his family, money and country. Undone by the results of the 2008 presidential election, he taps a group of like-minded men to reclaim their version of the American Dream. As they build a scheme to disturb and disrupt, the Big Guy also faces turbulence within his family. His wife, Charlotte, grieves a life not lived, while his 18-year-old daughter, Meghan, begins to realize that her favorite subject — history — is not exactly what her father taught her.
In a story that is as much about the dynamics within a family as it is about the desire for those in power to remain in power, Homes presciently unpacks a dangerous rift in American identity, prompting a reconsideration of the definition of truth, freedom and democracy — and exploring the explosive consequences of what happens when the same words mean such different things to people living together under one roof.
Always intrigued by Homes’s novels, and I thought this one sounded interesting and very of-the-minute. My interest was further stoked by an interview in The Guardian. Hope to get to it soon. The Unfolding is out now, published by Viking in North America and Granta Books in the UK.
Steven Hyden, LONG ROAD: PEARL JAM AND THE SOUNDTRACK OF A GENERATION (Hachette)
A leading music journalist’s riveting chronicle of how beloved band Pearl Jam shaped the times, and how their legacy and longevity have transcended generations.
Ever since Pearl Jam first blasted onto the Seattle grunge scene three decades ago with their debut album, Ten, they have sold 85M+ albums, performed for hundreds of thousands of fans around the world, and have even been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In Long Road: Pearl Jam and the Soundtrack Of A Generation, music critic and journalist Steven Hyden celebrates the life, career, and music of this legendary group, widely considered to be one of the greatest American rock bands of all time. Long Road is structured like a mix tape, using 18 different Pearl Jam classics as starting points for telling a mix of personal and universal stories. Each chapter tells the tale of this great band — how they got to where they are, what drove them to greatness, and why it matters now.
Much like the generation it emerged from, Pearl Jam is a mass of contradictions. They were an enormously successful mainstream rock band who felt deeply uncomfortable with the pursuit of capitalistic spoils. They were progressive activists who spoke in favor of abortion rights and against the Ticketmaster monopoly, and yet they epitomized the sound of traditional, male-dominated rock ‘n’ roll. They were looked at as spokesmen for their generation, even though they ultimately projected profound confusion and alienation. They triumphed, and failed, in equal doses — the quintessential Gen-X tale.
Impressive as their stats, accolades, and longevity may be, Hyden also argues that Pearl Jam’s most definitive accomplishment lies in the impact their music had on Generation X as a whole. Pearl Jam’s music helped an entire generation of listeners connect with the glory of bygone rock mythology, and made it relevant during a period in which tremendous American economic prosperity belied a darkness at the heart of American youth. More than just a chronicle of the band’s career, this book is also a story about Gen- X itself, who like Pearl Jam came from angsty, outspoken roots and then evolved into an establishment institution, without ever fully shaking off their uncertain, outsider past. For so many Gen-Xers growing up at the time, Pearl Jam’s music was a beacon that offered both solace and guidance. They taught an entire generation how to grow up without losing the purest and most essential parts of themselves.
Written with his celebrated blend of personal memoir, criticism, and journalism, Hyden explores Pearl Jam’s path from Ten to now. It’s a chance for new fans and old fans alike to geek out over Pearl Jam minutia—the B-sides, the beloved deep cuts, the concert bootlegs—and explore the multitude of reasons why Pearl Jam’s music resonated with so many people. As Hyden explains, “Most songs pass through our lives and are swiftly forgotten. But Pearl Jam is forever.”
I’ve been a fan of Hyden’s for a little while, now, as well as a long-time fan of Pearl Jam. So, when I saw that he had written a book about them, I knew I was going to read it as soon as I could. I started this very soon after I got it. (Review to come.) Long Road is out now, published by Hachette in North America and in the UK.
Alma Katsu, THE WEHRWOLF (Amazon)
A terrifying short story about monsters among men — and the thin lines that divide them.
Germany, 1945. In the waning days of World War II, the Nazis have been all but defeated. Uwe Fuchs, never a fighter, feels fortunate to have avoided the front lines as he cared for his widowed mother.
But Uwe’s fortune changes when Hans Sauer, the village bully, recruits him to join a guerilla resistance unit preparing for the arrival of Allied soldiers. At first, Uwe is wary. The war is lost, and rumor has it that Hans is a deserter. But Hans entices him with talk of power, brutality, and their village’s ancestral lore: werewolves.
With some reluctance, Uwe joins up with the pack and soon witnesses their startling transformation. But when the men’s violent rampage against enemy soldiers takes a devastatingly personal turn, Uwe must grapple not only with his role in their evil acts but with his own humanity. Can he reclaim what this group of predatory men has stolen from him?
Or has he been a monster all along?
Always interested in reading new books by Katsu. In addition to the second novel in the author’s Red Widow espionage/CIA series, this novella was a nice surprise: an intriguing, very well done take on the werewolf mythology, mixed with the politics, fear, and social forces at play in small-town Germany at the end of World War II. Really enjoyed it. The Wehrwolf is out now, published by Amazon in North America and in the UK.
Anthony McCarten, GOING ZERO (Harper)
In the name of national security, the CIA in partnership with Silicon Valley wunderkind Cy Baxter have created the ultimate surveillance program known as FUSION. Ahead of its roll out, ten Americans have been carefully selected to Beta test the groundbreaking system.
At the appointed hour, each of the ten will have two hours to “Go Zero” — to turn their cellphones off, cut ties with friends and family, and use any means possible to disappear. They will then have 30 days to evade detection and elude the highly sophisticated Capture Teams tasked to find them using the most cutting-edge technology. The goal is to see if it is possible to successfully go “off the grid” and escape detection.
The stakes are immense. If FUSION is a success, Cy Baxter will secure a coveted 10-year, $100 billion dollar government contract and access to intelligence resources he truly believes will save lives. For any participant who beats the massive surveillance, it means a $3 million cash prize.
Among the contestants is an unassuming Boston librarian named Kaitlyn Day. She’s been chosen as the gimme, the easy target expected to be found first. But Kaitlyn excels at confounding expectations. Her talents at this particular game are far more effective than all the security experts suspect, and her reasons for playing far more personal than anyone can imagine.
Anthony McCarten is an Oscar-nominated screenwriter (The Theory of Everything, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Darkest Hour), which I didn’t know before spotting this available for review. The synopsis certainly sounds cinematic and action-packed, so I thought I’d give it a try. Looking forward to it. Going Zero is due to be published by Harper in North America, on April 11th, 2023.
Follow the Author: Goodreads
Review copy received via Edelweiss
Kyle Mills & Vince Flynn, OATH OF LOYALTY (Atria)
With President Anthony Cook convinced that Mitch Rapp poses a mortal threat to him, CIA Director Irene Kennedy is forced to construct a truce between the two men. The terms are simple: Rapp agrees to leave the country and stay in plain sight for as long as Cook controls the White House. In exchange, the administration agrees not to make any moves against him.
This fragile détente holds until Cook’s power-hungry security adviser convinces him that Rapp has no intention of honoring their agreement. In an effort to put him on the defensive, they leak the true identity of his partner, Claudia Gould. As Rapp races to neutralize the enemies organizing against her, he discovers that a new generation of assassins is on her trail. A killer known to intelligence agencies only as Legion.
The shadowy group has created a business model based on double-blind secrecy. Neither the killer nor the client knows the other’s identity. Because of this, Legion can’t be called off nor can they afford to fail. No matter how long it takes—weeks, months, years—they won’t stand down until their target is dead. Faced with the seemingly impossible task of finding and stopping Legion, Rapp and his people must close ranks against a world that has turned on them.
I read this pretty soon after getting it. As expected, I enjoyed it and zipped through. It’s perhaps not the strongest in the series, with some pretty wild escalations from all sides, but there’s still plenty of everything we have come to expect from a Mitch Rapp novel. Oath of Loyalty is published by Atria/Emily Bestler in North America (out now) and Simon & Schuster in the UK (October 13th).
Walter Mosley, EVERY MAN A KING (Mulholland)
Joe King Oliver is tested when he’s asked to investigate whether a White nationalist is being unjustly set up
When friend of the family and multi-billionaire Roger Ferris comes to Joe with an assignment, he’s got no choice but to accept, even if the case is a tough one to stomach. White nationalist Alfred Xavier Quiller has been accused of murder and the sale of sensitive information to the Russians. Ferris has reason to believe Quiller’s been set up and he needs King to see if the charges hold.
This linear assignment becomes a winding quest to uncover the extent of Quiller’s dealings, to understand Ferris’ skin in the game, and to get to the bottom of who is working for whom. Even with the help of bodyguard and mercenary Oliya Ruez — no regular girl Friday — the machine King’s up against proves relentless and unsparing. As King gets closer to exposing the truth, he and his loved ones barrel towards grave danger.
The second novel in Mosley’s Joe King Oliver series. Described as “at once a classic caper, a family saga and an examination of fealty, pride and how deep debt can go,” I have a feeling this will go over very well with fans of Mosley. (If you’re new to the author, go back and try the first in this series, Down the River Unto the Sea.) Every Man A King is due to be published by Mulholland Books in North America and in the UK, on February 21st, 2023.
Anthony Reynolds, RUINATION (Orbit)
Discover an epic tale of magic, revenge and an empire on the verge of ruin…
Camavor is a brutal land with a bloody legacy. Where the empire’s knights go, slaughter follows.
Kalista seeks to change that. When her young and narcissistic uncle, Viego, becomes king, she vows to temper his destructive instincts, as his loyal confidant, advisor, and military general. But her plans are thwarted when an assassin’s poisoned blade strikes Viego’s wife, Isolde, afflicting her with a malady for which there is no cure.
As Isolde’s condition worsens, Viego descends into madness and grief, threatening to drag Camavor down with him. Kalista makes a desperate gambit to save the kingdom: she searches for the long lost Blessed Isles, rumored to hold the queen’s salvation, if only Kalista can find them.
But corruption grows in the Blessed Isles’ capital, where a vengeful warden seeks to ensnare Kalista in his cruel machinations. She will be forced to choose between her loyalty to Viego and doing what she knows is right — for even in the face of utter darkness, one noble act can shine a light that saves the world.
The first novel in a new line of League of Legends fiction. I have no idea what League of Legends really is… I’ve seen it mentioned a lot, but never really dug into any more detail. I’ve been told, though, that this book serves as a good entry point, so I’m looking forward to giving it a try. (I’ve enjoyed Reynolds’s work in the past.) Ruination is out now, published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK.
James Rollins, THE CRADLE OF ICE (Tor)
A page-turning tale of action, adventure, betrayal, ambition, and the struggle for survival in a harsh world that hangs by a thread.
To stop the coming apocalypse, a fellowship was formed.
A soldier, a thief, a lost prince, and a young girl bonded by fate and looming disaster.
Each step along this path has changed the party, forging deep alliances and greater enmities. All the while, hostile forces have hunted them, fearing what they might unleash. Armies wage war around them.
For each step has come with a cost — in blood, in loss, in heartbreak.
Now, they must split, traveling into a vast region of ice and to a sprawling capital of the world they’ve only known in stories. Time is running out and only the truth will save us all.
The second novel in Rollins’s new Moon Fall sci-fi/fantasy series. I’ve been too slow about getting to the first novel (), but I’ve been a long-time fan of the author’s Sigma Force thriller series. The Cradle of Ice is due to be published by Tor Books in North America and in the UK, on February 7th, 2023.
Adrian Tchaikovsky, CITY OF LAST CHANCES (AdAstra/Head of Zeus)
There has always been a darkness to Ilmar, but never more so than now. The city chafes under the heavy hand of the Palleseen occupation, the choke-hold of its criminal underworld, the boot of its factory owners, the weight of its wretched poor and the burden of its ancient curse.
What will be the spark that lights the conflagration?
Despite the city’s refugees, wanderers, murderers, madmen, fanatics and thieves, the catalyst, as always, will be the Anchorwood – that dark grove of trees, that primeval remnant, that portal, when the moon is full, to strange and distant shores.
Ilmar, some say, is the worst place in the world and the gateway to a thousand worse places.
Ilmar, City of Long Shadows.
City of Bad Decisions.
City of Last Chances.
The first new fantasy novel from Tchaikovsky in a little while, and one with a truly stunning cover. (Yes, I know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but damn. How could that not grab your attention?) It’s starting to get a little difficult to keep up with all of Tchaikovsky’s new books, but I’m certainly welcome the challenge. City of Last Chances is due to be published by AdAstra in the UK, on December 8th.
Moses Ose Utomi, THE LIES OF AJUNGO (Tor.com)
One boy’s epic quest to bring water back to his city and save his mother’s life. Prepare to enter the Forever Desert.
They say there is no water in the City of Lies. They say there are no heroes in the City of Lies. They say there are no friends beyond the City of Lies. But would you believe what they say in the City of Lies?
In the City of Lies, they cut out your tongue when you turn thirteen, to appease the terrifying Ajungo Empire and make sure it continues sending water. Tutu will be thirteen in three days, but his parched mother won’t last that long. So Tutu goes to his oba and makes a deal: she provides water for his mother, and in exchange he will travel out into the desert and bring back water for the city. Thus begins Tutu’s quest for the salvation of his mother, his city, and himself.
This sounds really interesting. (And, yes, the cover caught my attention.) It’s the first novella in the Forever Desert series, and I’m very much looking forward to reading it. (I started only a couple of days after getting the DRC.) The Lies of Ajungo is due to be published by Tor.com in North America and in the UK, on March 21st, 2023.