Upcoming: “A City Stained Red” by Sam Sykes (Gollancz)

Sykes-04-ACityStainedRedI’m a fan of Sam Sykes’s novels. I thought both Tome of the Undergates and Black Halo were wonderfully subversive, dark and twisted takes on the fantasy genre. Sykes’s sense of humour is great, and runs throughout the novels without undermining the sense of adventure and action of the story. I’ve been woefully, shamefully slow about getting around to Skybound Sea, too. Nevertheless, the author’s story and characters continue apace! This April, Gollancz will be publishing the first in a new trilogy starring the loveable, dysfunctional heroes we have come to know and love(ish). A City Stained Red is the first in The Scion’s Gate trilogy.

Here is the synopsis…

The Scion’s Gate is a trilogy that tells the story of the struggle between the adventurer, Lenk, and his companions and the demons trying to break free from hell in order to resume their own agendas.

Long before he was sent to hell, the Aeon known as Khoth-Kapira was the closest thing to a living god the world had ever known. Possessed of a vast intellect, he pioneered many of the wonders that persist in the world that lingered long after he was banished. Nearly every fragment of medical, economic and technological progress that the mortal races enjoyed could be traced back to him. But with his wonders came cruelty beyond measure: industrialized slavery, horrifying experimentations and a rage that would eventually force the world to bow to him.

Now, as Khoth-Kapira stirs the world begins to shudder with disasters yet to come.The epicenter is the city of Cier’Djaal. A religious war between two unstoppable military juggernauts begins to brew. The racial fury among many peoples of the world is about to explode. Demons begin to pour from the shadows at the head of a vicious cult worshipping dark powers.

And Lenk finds himself in the middle once more, his fate and the fate of Khoth-Kapira interlinked as the demon attempts to convince him of his earnestness.

Also, I really like the new approach to the artwork – before, the character-based pieces were a little weird. Eye-catching, sure, but not the best. This new cover is a little more vague, but I prefer it to the original style.

Also on CR: Interview with Sam Sykes, Post-Trilogy Catch-Up

Full disclosure: I have read an early draft of this novel. It was very good – tighter, funnier and all-round better written and constructed than the first two novels. Given that I thought they were very strong, too… Well, I’m very excited to read the final version.

Upcoming: “Vengeful Spirit” by Graham McNeill (Black Library)

McNeill-HH-VengefulSpiritI’ve already posted the full artwork for Graham McNeill’s next Horus Heresy novel, Vengeful Spirit. Now, however, I’ve managed to dig up a synopsis, which gives me another opportunity to feature it – I’m sure everyone who reads CR is fully aware of how much I enjoy the HH series of novels and short stories. So, without further ado…

On the planet of Molech, the Titan Legions go to war against the armies of Horus.

Once the favoured son of the Emperor of Mankind, the name of Horus has become a curse to the loyal defenders of the Imperium, and a rallying call to the traitor forces tearing across the galaxy. While their allies wage war on a thousand different fronts, the XVIth Legion descend upon the Knight World of Molech – home to House Devine and their feudal levies, and a principal seat of Imperial military power. Just what could have drawn Horus to attack such a strongly defended planet, and what might he be willing to sacrifice to fulfill his own dark destiny?

I’m still not 100% sure when this is going to be released – Amazon UK has September 2014 listed as publication, but Black Library often releases things a little earlier through their own store/website. So maybe a couple months earlier? Needless to say, whenever it’s available, I can’t wait to read it.

The Horus Heresy: Horus Rising, False Gods, Galaxy in Flames, Flight of the Eisenstein, Fulgrim, Descent of Angels, Legion, Battle for the Abyss, Mechanicum, Tales of Heresy, Fallen Angels, A Thousand Sons, Nemesis, The First Heretic, Prospero Burns, Age of Darkness, The Outcast Dead, Deliverance Lost, Know No Fear, The Primarchs, Fear to Tread, Shadows of Treachery, Angel Exterminatus, Betrayer, Mark of Calth, Promethean Sun, Scorched Earth, Vulkan Lives, Scars (episodes I-III, IV-IX, X-X11), The Unremembered Empire

Artwork: “Gotrek & Felix: The Serpent Queen” by Joshua Reynolds (Black Library)

I must have said it a hundred times on the blog, now, but I really must get around to reading Josh Reynold’s Road of Skulls, his first full-length novel featuring my favourite Dwarf Slayer and human companion… In advance of that, though, I spotted the artwork for Reynolds’s next novel in the series, The Serpent Queen:

ReynoldsJ-G&F-SerpentQueen

Sorry for the low-quality image, but I wanted to share the cover anyway. It’s one of my all-time favourite fantasy series, so I’m always excited for news and more fiction (even if it does take me altogether too long to get around to reading them…). Here’s the synopsis:

Gotrek and Felix: unsung heroes of the Empire, or nothing more than common thieves and murderers? The truth perhaps lies somewhere in between, and depends entirely upon whom you ask… Travelling to the mysterious south in search of a mighty death, the Slayer Gotrek Gurnisson and his human companion, Felix Jaeger, find themselves caught up in a battle between warring kingdoms. Captured by the sinister Queen Khalida and forced to do her bidding, the adventurers must brave the horrors of the sun-soaked Land of the Dead, where the dead do not rest easy.

Serpent Queen is due to be published in March/April 2014. Road of Skulls and David Guymer’s City of the Damned are available now from Black Library. In addition, the first in the series, William King’s Trollslayer, has recently been re-released as part of the Black Library Classics series – it is, in my humble opinion, a must-read.

Gotrek&Felix-AlsoAvailableNew

Upcoming: “Half Bad” by Sally Green (Viking YA/Penguin)

GreenS-HalfBadI just spotted this via an advert on Goodreads (well-played, Google Ad Algorithm, well-played…). The cover really caught my eye, and I thought I’d share it on here. It’s pretty cool, no? I particularly like the way the blood in the water has been shaped (in a surprisingly realistic way) into a face, in an otherwise minimalist image.

The premise is pretty interesting, but I have a suspicion that it’s perhaps a little reminiscent of something else… If only I could remember what it reminds me of… Anyway. Here’s the synopsis:

One boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.

You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.

You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.

You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.

You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.

All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.

Easy.

Half Bad will be published by Penguin UK in March 2014. Penguin are also publishing in the US and Canada. It is Sally Green’s debut novel, and the first in a projected trilogy. The author is also on Twitter. Described as “supernatural thriller set in a modern world inhabited by covert witches”, I am pretty sure there are going to be a lot of people interested in reading this. Despite the obvious Harry Potter parallels (justified or not, as they may end up being). There’s a slightly different synopsis on the book’s website:

Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled like a dog, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan’s only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers — before it’s too late. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?

I did some Googling, and it turns out that the rights to this novel have already been sold in 25 foreign rights deals. Within 13 weeks of Penguin’s first acquisition. Holy crap, that’s impressive. The Bookseller rightly (perhaps rather tamely) referred to the deal as “unprecedented”. No idea how much it went for in the first place – in secret-publishing-deal-speak, the deal was only referred to as “substantial”. This sort of deal is pretty unusual, so yeah. I’m a bit more intrigued…

Upcoming: THE REMAINING series, by D.J. Molles (Orbit)

Molles-R1-TheRemainingI caught the announcement of D.J. Molles’s The Remaining series via a Twitter conversation between Justin and Rob (both are among the best SFF bloggers, in my opinion, so be sure to check out their sites and reviews). Naturally, I invited myself to join in the discussion, and decided to put together this post (I was on a role – it’s the third tonight).

Seeing as I’ve just blitzed through the first four The Walking Dead collected volumes, I must admit to being rather intrigued by this – certainly enough to read the first book at least. I have a weakness for the Zombie Apocalypse sub-genre. I’ve been pretty good at resisting reading everything, though, as I know I could quickly get sick of it. Thus-far, alongside The Walking Dead, I think my favourite has been V.M. Zito’s The Return Man (also published by Orbit, but only in the US – and it’s excellent, so you should all go out and buy it). The four books follow “Captain Lee Harden and a group of survivors as they fight to rebuild a devastated America.” Hm. Barrington’s After America but with added zombies? Here’s the synopsis for the first novel:

In a steel-and-lead-encased bunker 20 feet below the basement level of his house, a Special Forces soldier waits for his final orders. On the surface, a plague ravages the planet, infecting over 90% of the populace.

The bacterium burrows through the brain, destroying all signs of humanity and leaving behind little more than base, prehistoric instincts. The infected turn into hyper-aggressive predators, with an insatiable desire to kill and feed.

Soon the soldier will have to open the hatch to his bunker, and step out into this new wasteland, to complete his duty: SURVIVE, RESCUE, REBUILD.

The eBooks of all four books will be made available in January 2014, with print editions coming out in successive months from May (not sure why there will be such a gap, though). It would appear, though, that the series was self-published before Orbit snapped up rights (I remain skeptical of the hunger for re-publishing self-published work, but it does seem to be something a handful of publishers are embracing…). Here are the publishing & purchasing details, followed by the covers for books 2-4:

THE REMAINING  (US | UK) – Paperback – May 2014, eBook January 2014

AFTERMATH (US | UK) – Paperback – June 2014, eBook January 2014

REFUGEES  (US | UK) – Paperback – July 2014, eBook January 2014

FRACTURED (US | UK)– Paperback – August 2014, eBook January 2014

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Upcoming: “Traitor’s Blade” by Sebastien de Castell (Jo Fletcher Books)

deCastellS-GC1-TraitorsBladeWhile stumbling about on the internet, looking for information on upcoming new books by authors I like, I found the synopsis for this novel. Another from Jo Fletcher Books (a publisher who seems to be publishing some of the most interesting SFF novels at the moment, which I have been singularly inept at keeping up with), it looks rather promising. Traitor’s Blade is the first in Sebastien de Castell’s Greatcoats series. Here’s the synopsis…

Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike.

Now Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in tatters.

All they have left are the promises they made to King Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn…

deCastellS-SpellslingerTraitor’s Blade is due to be published in early March 2014. Penguin will be publishing the novel in Canada, and Piper will be bringing it to shelves in Germany. I’m rather looking forward to it. Although, I do wonder if the Dragon Age-esque aesthetic of the cover is leading…? Be sure to check out de Castell’s website and Twitter for more news. Including, as it turns out, some preliminary information on the second Greatcoats novel, Greatcoat’s Lament (which looked a bit spoilery to me, so I haven’t included it here), and also Spellslinger, the author’s “heroic fantasy with a western flavour” (synopsis below). There is also a free mini-audiodrama, set in the Spellslinger world, “Card Trick”.

A Tale of Magic, Intrigue & Talking Raccoons

Kellen Argos is cursed with the Shadowblack and on the run from his own family when the mysterious young queen of Darome promises him a cure in exchange for his protection. Kellen soon discovers that someone inside the nobility is plotting to take over the country. Now he has to find a way to outsmart the conspirators before they get to the queen over Kellen’s dead body.

Upcoming: “Shovel Ready” by Adam Sternbergh (Headline)

SternberghA-ShovelReadyI first spotted a photo of a Shovel Ready ARC on Twitter (I forget exactly when it was, and who Tweeted the image), and I did some digging. Ever since, I have been rather looking forward to this novel. It’s still some time until it is published, but the new UK cover was unveiled today, and I rather liked it. So here it is, as well as the synopsis:

I don’t want to know your reasons.

I don’t care.

Think of me as a bullet.

Just point.

Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, before New York became a burnt-out shell. Now the wealthy spend their days tapped into virtual reality; the rest have to fend for themselves in the streets. Now there’s nothing but garbage.

So he became a hit man.  He doesn’t ask questions, he works quickly, and he’s handy with a box-cutter.

When he’s hired to kill the daughter of a high-profile evangelist, Spademan’s life is upended. He will have to navigate two worlds – both the slick fantasy and the wasteland reality – to finish the job, clear his conscience, and make sure he’s not the one who winds up in the ground.

Shovel Ready is due to be published by Headline in January 2014.

Upcoming: “Innocence” & “Wilderness” by Dean Koontz (Harper Collins/Bantam)

KoontzD-Innocence

Dean Koontz is an author who I have been familiar with for years (it’s hard to miss his novels in the SFF and Crime sections of any bookstore in – at least – the English-speaking world). And yet, I have never read anything by him. I think this novel, though, could change that. It sounds great. And, I’ll admit, the UK cover caught my eye – well played, Harper Collins Design Team. Well played. Then I saw the US cover (on the right), and I was even more smitten. Here’s the synopsis:

Addison Goodheart is not like other people…

Addison Goodheart lives in solitude beneath the city, an exile from a society which will destroy him if he is ever seen.

Books are his refuge and his escape: he embraces the riches they have to offer. By night he leaves his hidden chambers and, through a network of storm drains and service tunnels, makes his way into the central library.

And that is where he meets Gwyneth, who, like Addison, also hides her true appearance and struggles to trust anyone.

But the bond between them runs deeper than the tragedies that have scarred their lives. Something more than chance − and nothing less than destiny − has brought them together in a world whose hour of reckoning is fast approaching.

Innocence is due to be published in the UK December 10th 2013 (eBook), and on January 2nd 2014 (Hardcover) – according to Amazon UK. The novel is due to be published in the US by Bantam, also on December 10th 2013.

KoontzD-WildernessIn the meantime – and, if like me, you’ve never read anything by Koontz – the author has written a prequel novella! It’s called The Wilderness, and is published on October 29th 2013 in both the UK and US. Here’s the synopsis for the novella:

Addison Goodheart is a mystery even to himself. He was born in an isolated home surrounded by a deep forest, never known to his father, kept secret from everyone but his mother, who barely accepts him. She is haunted by private demons and keeps many secrets—none of which she dreads more than the young son who adores her.

Only in the woods, among the wildlife, is Addison truly welcome. Only there can he be at peace. Until the day he first knows terror, the day when his life changes radically and forever…

Upcoming: “The Dark Blood of Poppies” by Freda Warrington (Titan)

Warrington-BW3-DarkBloodOfPoppiesI’m intrigued by Freda Warrington’s Blood Wine series. It was first released near the height of the vampire vogue – authors such as Anne Rice had established the genre as far more varied and ambitious that mere heaving bosoms and strained bodices. This year, Titan Books began re-issuing the series, which started with A Taste of Blood Wine (A Dance in Blood Velvet is due to hit shelves in October 2013). Last week, this cover for the third novel in the series was unveiled. And it’s another stunning, attention-grabbing one, too.

Here’s the original synopsis, from the 1996 edition (which I nabbed from the author’s website) – I don’t know if Titan will be changing it for their 2014 edition, but I assume it won’t be too different:

The ballerina Violette Lenoir has fallen victim to the bite of the vampire Charlotte. Her fire and energy have fuelled a terrifying change and a dreadful realisation; that Violette has become Lilith, the demon mother of all vampires.

Haunted both by what she has done and by Violette’s dark sensuality, Charlotte and her immortal lover Karl are drawn towards the dancer and the terrible destiny that has fallen on her shoulders.

But other, far more dangerous shadows are gathering around Violette. To the vampire Sebastian and to the dark heirs of Kristian, she threatens to wreak havoc with their plans to bring all of mankind under their dark wings.

Innocently embroiled in the endgame, courtesan extraordinaire Robyn Stafford finally meets her match as she is torn between the two ultimate lovers: Sebastian, and Violette …

As someone pointed out on Twitter, that is a very Black Metal cover – everything from the title to the model’s make-up does remind me of band photos from Terrorizer and Metal Hammer… It also has a smidgeon of Black Swan in there (ok, a fair bit…). I’m intrigued to read this series, and luckily I have the first book on my tottering TBR Mountain. I’ll hopefully get to it at some point in the not-too-distant future.

The Dark Blood of Poppies is due to be published by Titan Books in April 2014. A new, fourth novel in the series – The Dark Arts of Blood – is also meant to be coming out next year (October).

Upcoming: “The Emperor’s Blades” by Brian Staveley (Tor UK & US)

Staveley-TheEmperorsBlades

I thought I had missed all mention of this book until today, when Tor UK unveiled the new cover art (left). The Emperor’s Blades is the first book in Brian Staveley’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, and it sounds pretty interesting. As it turned out, though, I’d caught a glimpse of the US cover art a couple of months back (on the right). Of the two, I think I prefer the UK cover, but the US one isn’t exactly hideous. The UK one is very, well, “typical” of the way fantasy and medieval-fiction covers have been developing over the past couple of years, but I do like the colouring.

Check out the synopsis…

The circle is closing. The stakes are high. And old truths will live again.

The Emperor has been murdered, leaving the Annurian Empire in turmoil. Now his progeny must bury their grief and prepare to unmask a conspiracy. His son Valyn, training for the empire’s deadliest fighting force, hears the news an ocean away. He expected a challenge, but after several ‘accidents’ and a dying soldier’s warning, he realizes his life is also in danger. Yet before Valyn can take action, he must survive the mercenaries’ brutal final initiation.

Meanwhile, the Emperor’s daughter, Minister Adare, hunts her father’s murderer in the capital itself. Court politics can be fatal, but she needs justice. And Kaden, heir to the empire, studies in a remote monastery. Here, the Blank God’s disciples teach their harsh ways – which Kaden must master to unlock their ancient powers. When an imperial delegation arrives, he’s learnt enough to perceive evil intent. But will this keep him alive, as long-hidden powers make their move?

Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades is due to be published in January 2014. I’m very much looking forward to reading it.