Very Quick Review: Terry McCaleb in Michael Connelly’s BOSCH Universe (Orion/Little, Brown)

ConnellyM-McCalebNovelsUK

I’ve recently been blitzing my way through Michael Connelly’s excellent novels in the “Heironymous Bosch Universe” — those that star the eponymous detective, and also those starring the characters who have cycled in and out of Bosch’s orbit over the course of the series. I tend to focus my reviews on either upcoming, new or fairly-recently-published books. However, Connelly’s crime novels have so taken over my imagination and reading time this past month (eight since the beginning of June), that I decided I should put something together for CR. In this post, I take a quick look at the novels featuring Terry McCaleb. Continue reading

Quick Review: GODS & MORTALS (Black Library)

Various-Gods&MortalsAn anthology of Age of Sigmar short fiction, which serves very well as an introduction

For too long, the Mortal Realms have suffered under Chaos’ twisted crusade. Tainted lands writhe in agony and once great cities lie in ruins, the hopes of their people extinguished. But the storm winds rise. Sigmar’s greatest creation, the Stormcast Eternals, strike with His vengeance. Their lightning drives the darkness away and their thunder drowns out the screams of the Foul Gods’ acolytes as they fall to sword and halberd. The sons and daughters of the storm know they cannot fail. For now is the time where the fate of a world will be decided. Where Gods and mortals must rise and fight, or face their final damnation.

CONTENTS
The Dance of the Skulls & Obsidian by David Annandale
Blacktalon: Hunting Shadows by Andy Clark
Vault of Souls by Evan Dicken
Bear Eater, Force of Personality, Gods’ Gift & The Hardest Word by David Guymer
Pantheon by Guy Haley
Callis & Toll: The Old Ways by Nick Horth
Pilgrim’s Trial by Robbie MacNiven
Auction of Blood, Eight Lamentations: The Tainted Axe, The Library of Forgotten Moments, Order of the Fly: Tourney of Fate & The Road of Blades by Josh Reynolds
Gravesend Gold & The Witch Takers by C L Werner

The Age of Sigmar is a pretty massive fantasy setting, one that continues to grow. It could be a bit daunting to find a way into it. If you are looking for a way in, this is a substantial collection of short fiction may be your best bet. Including stories featuring some established characters, as well as touching upon many of the myriad facets of the Mortal Realms, reading Gods & Mortals will give readers a nice, broad glimpse of the Age of Sigmar. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Our Fascination with Genre Distinctions” by Christopher Ruocchio

RuocchioC-AuthorPicI don’t know what it is about genre distinctions that so fascinates writers and readers alike. We enjoy them perhaps for the same reason we obsess about character classes and skill trees and so on in games like Dungeons and Dragons and why so many of us obsess (wrongly) about “magic systems” (as if anything which supercedes and violates natural law should be systematic, ha)! We like complexity, perhaps too much, we like categories (heavens, so much trouble in fan culture of late is the result of trying to categorize fans and creators alike: for their immutable traits, for the beliefs, for their politics, and so on). Complex categories give the world a texture that we nerds find pleasing, for they bespeak a deep sense not merely of order, but of ordered chaos.

The best of both worlds. Continue reading

Audio Excerpt: SWEET SORROW by David Nicholls (W.F. Howes)

NichollsD-SweetSorrowUKAUDToday, W.F. Howes publishes the audiobook edition of Sweet Sorrow, the new novel by David Nicholls. I’ve enjoyed a few of Nicholls’s past novels, starting with Starter for Ten and The Understudy which I read during a summer at college (can’t remember exactly when, but it’s been quite a while). The excerpt is below, and here’s the synopsis…

One life-changing summer, Charlie meets Fran… David Nicholls’s highly anticipated new novel, narrated by Rory Kinnear.

In 1997, Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, when surely it should be the other way round, and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.

Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope.

But if Charlie wants to be with Fran, he must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling.

The price of hope, it seems, is Shakespeare. Poignant, funny, enchanting, devastating, Sweet Sorrow is a tragicomedy about the rocky path to adulthood and the confusion of family life, a celebration of the reviving power of friendship and that brief, searing explosion of first love that can only be looked at directly after it has burned out.

The excerpt is narrated by Olivier award-winning actor Rory Kinnear.

The print and eBook editions of the  novel are out now in the UK, published by Hodder & Stoughton; the US edition is still a while away, due to be published by Mariner Books in May 2020.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THRAWN – TREASON by Timothy Zahn (Century), plus pre-order special!

ZahnT-SWThrawn3-Treason-PreorderPicThe third novel in Timothy Zahn‘s rebooted Thrawn trilogy is out later this month! An enduring, fan-favourite character from the Star Wars Expanded Universe (he was introduced in 1991’s Heir to the Empire), the character was revived in Thrawn (2017).

Set within the new canon, the new series has been popular and fans have welcomed the return of the cold, calculating and brilliant Empire Admiral. In Thrawn: Treason, Zahn brings the trilogy to an end. Here’s the synopsis:

Grand Admiral Thrawn faces the ultimate test of his loyalty to the Empire in this epic Star Wars novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

Such was the promise Grand Admiral Thrawn made to Emperor Palpatine at their first meeting. Since then, Thrawn has been one of the Empire’s most effective instruments, pursuing its enemies to the very edges of the known galaxy. But as keen a weapon as Thrawn has become, the Emperor dreams of something far more destructive.

Now, as Thrawn’s TIE defender program is halted in favor of Director Krennic’s secret Death Star project, he realizes that the balance of power in the Empire is measured by more than just military acumen or tactical efficiency. Even the greatest intellect can hardly compete with the power to annihilate entire planets.

As Thrawn works to secure his place in the Imperial hierarchy, his former protégé Eli Vanto returns with a dire warning about Thrawn’s homeworld. Thrawn’s mastery of strategy must guide him through an impossible choice: duty to the Chiss Ascendancy, or fealty to the Empire he has sworn to serve. Even if the right choice means committing treason.

To celebrate the release of the novel, Zahn’s UK publisher, Century, is holding a special giveaway for everyone who pre-orders the novel. If you send proof of the pre-order through this form, they will send you a special edition pin. (They did something similar for the release of Thrawn: Alliances.)

The novel is due to be published by Century in the UK (July 25th) and Del Rey in North America (July 23rd).

Further Reading: Interview with Timothy Zahn on The Verge (2018)

Follow the Author: Facebook, Goodreads

Interview with TOM CHATFIELD

ChatfieldT-AuthorPic C Lewis KhanLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Tom Chatfield?

I’m a British geek in his late thirties who has written a number of books of non-fiction exploring digital culture, and is now embarking on a parallel career as a writer of techno-thrillers with (I hope) a satirical edge. I’m also the father of a couple of small children and a keen jazz pianist, both of which help keep me sane in different ways.

Your new novel, This is Gomorrah, is due to be published soon by Hodder (UK) and Mulholland (US – as The Gomorrah Gambit). It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

In five words: Jason Bourne meets Edward Snowden. In slightly more than five words: Azi Bello, a hacker who’s spent much of his life hiding in a shed in East Croydon, finds things getting very real very fast when dangerous knowledge about the darknet marketplace known as Gomorrah drags him into the world of terrorism, political extremism and technological manipulation. With a side order of sardonic wit and romantic incompetence. Continue reading

Very Quick Reviews: THE BLOODIED ROSE by Danie Ware and AURIC GODS by Nick Kyle (Black Library)

Two very good books from Black Library’s first Novella Series

WareD-WH40k-TheBloodiedRoseTHE BLOODIED ROSE by Danie Ware

From the blasphemy of the fallen… Our Emperor, deliver us. At the edge of the Imperium sits the fetid jungle world of Lautis. Amidst the creeping foliage and ancient monuments, a horror is rising. From the depths of a crumbling cathedral come bloodied nightmares, intent on fulfilling their dark purpose by any means necessary. Only one thing stands in their way: the wrathful, holy fire of the Adepta Sororitas. Filled with the light of the Emperor, Sister Superior Augusta and her squad are a force to be reckoned with. They are here to purge the darkness from Lautis with prayer and bolter, and nothing will stop them. But the things that dwell in the darkness aren’t afraid. Augusta must put her trust in her Battle Sisters and lead them into the shadows of the crypts in search of the truth. Faith and fire are powerful weapons, but will they be enough to defeat the sinister powers that lurk in the deeps?

I’ve enjoyed all of Danie Ware’s Black Library fiction to date, and I’m very happy to report that The Bloodied Rose is another fantastic story. It draws on a fair few horror components to make for a sinister, grim WH40k story. The novella plays with some classic WH40k fiction tropes and styles, but updates it to incorporate some grittier elements. I really enjoyed this.

I certainly hope Ware is planning to write more Sisters of Battle stories (and others in general). Great stuff. Recommended for all fans of WH40k, and a must-read for fans of the Adeptus Sororitas.

*

KymeN-WH40k-AuricGodsAURIC GODS by Nick Kyme

For millennia the Adeptus Custodes have stayed true to their sworn duty – defend holy Terra and the God-Emperor to their very last breath. But when the Great Rift tears the Imperium apart, loosing tides of daemons upon mankind, they are faced with a dilemma. Should they continue to guard the Palace and the Golden Throne, or take to the stars to proactively root out the Ultimate Enemy? When Shield-Captain Cartovandis receives a mysterious distress call from the planet Vorganthian, he gathers a band of Custodians to investigate. When they arrive, they find a world in the grip of self-annihilation, overrun by Chaos cultists. In a race against time, the Custodians must find out what has happened, and hunt down those responsible, before the madness has a chance to reach its true target – something much closer to their hearts.

Tense moments, claustrophobic and intense action, and some suitably crazy Chaos shenanigans and beasties — this was a very interesting WH40k story. The story plays around with what we know about members of the Adeptus Custodes, and also what it means to leave an organization like this. (In fact, I had no idea that was even possible, before reading this.) I enjoyed seeing the Custodes differently — rather than the single-minded, utterly sure guardians of the Throne, in this story there is some uncertainty. One of the characters is not so polished. There are cracks in that golden armour, if you will.

If you’re a fan of the Custodians, and have been wondering how they operate post-Horus Heresy, then this novella is definitely recommended (as is Chris Wraight’s The Emperor’s Legion, which is climbing my TBR mountain).

*

Both The Bloodied Rose and Auric Gods are out now, published by Black Library. The paperback editions have now been discontinued, but they are available individually as eBooks. Both stories will appear in the forthcoming collection, Servants of the Imperium.

Also on CR: Interview with Nick Kyme (2011); Interview with Danie Ware (2013); Excerpt from Danie Ware’s Ecko Endgame

Follow the Author (Ware):Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Follow the Author (Kyme):
Website, Goodreads, Twitter