Excerpt: BLOOD UPON THE SAND by Bradley Beaulieu (Gollancz)

beaulieub-3-blooduponthesandukToday, we have an excerpt from Brad Beaulieu‘s highly-anticipated Blood Upon the Sand, the next novel in his Song of the Shattered Sands epic fantasy series. First, the synopsis:

Second in epic new fantasy series of mystery, prophecy and death within the ancient walled city of Sharakhai, home to the Twelve Kings…

Çeda, an elite warrior in service to the kings of Sharakhai, is learning their secrets even as they send her on covert missions to further their rule. She has already uncovered the dark history of the asirim, but it’s only when she bonds with them, chaining them to her will, that she feels their pain as her own. They hunger for release, they demand it, but their chains were forged by the gods themselves and are proving unbreakable.

Çeda could become the champion the enslaved asirim have been waiting for, but the need to tread carefully has never been greater. The kings are hungry for blood, scouring the city in a ruthless quest for revenge, while Çeda’s friend Emre and his new allies in the Moonless Host are laying plans to take advantage of the unrest in Sharakhai, and strike a major blow against the kings and their god-given powers.

The shifting tides of power are fickle and dangerous, though. The Kings and the Moonless Host have their own agendas, as does the dangerous blood mage Hamzakiir, whose plotting uncovers a devastating secret that could shatter the power of the hated kings. But it may all be undone if Çeda cannot learn to control the growing anger of the asirim that threatens to overwhelm her…

Blood Upon the Sand is due to be published next week by Gollancz in the UK, and DAW Books in North America. Now, on with the excerpt!

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Interview with BRADLEY BEAULIEU and ROB ZIEGLER

Let’s start with an introduction: Who are Brad Beaulieu and Rob Ziegler?

BeaulieuB-AuthorPicCropBrad Beaulieu: I’m the author of Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, an epic fantasy with a strong Arabian Nights feel to it, and The Lays of Anuskaya, another epic, but with windships and elemental magic that was inspired by Muscovite Russia and Ottoman Turkey. Until recently, I was an IT guy, selling and configuring enterprise software for Big Blue. But I’ve recently taken the leap to full-time writing. So I’m also a very scared man. But this is an exciting time. Along with writing a collaborative project here and there (cough cough, The Burning Light, cough), I’m hard at work on the third book in The Song of the Shattered Sands.

zieglerr-authorpic2Rob Ziegler: I’m the author of the novel Seed. It’s the story of young scavenger-cum-highwayman trying to save his younger brother from a giant agri-corp in a southwest ravaged by climate change. It has the feel of a western by way of The Road Warrior. I write full time. Currently I’m working on my second novel, Angel City, as well as the occasional side project like The Burning Light. Over the years I’ve basically done everything — landscape design, IT, bartending, real estate management. My wife and I live a mostly chill life in western Colorado. We hike a lot. Continue reading

Mini-Review: THE BURNING LIGHT by Bradley Beaulieu & Rob Ziegler (Tor.com)

BeaulieuZiegler-BurningLightAn interesting post-apocalyptic sci-fi story

Disgraced government operative Colonel Chu is exiled to the flooded relic of New York City. Something called the Light has hit the streets like an epidemic, leavings its users strung out and disconnected from the mind-network humanity relies on. Chu has lost everything she cares about to the Light. She’ll end the threat or die trying.

A former corporate pilot who controlled a thousand ships with her mind, Zola looks like just another Light-junkie living hand to mouth on the edge of society. She’s special though. As much as she needs the Light, the Light needs her too. But, Chu is getting close and Zola can’t hide forever.

This was a pretty interesting novella. Set in a dilapidated New York City. There were a few moments when the story’s momentum dipped, but it was for the main a pretty well-paced, engaging story. This is an interesting sci-fi/dystopian story. Continue reading

Guest Post: “The Ties That Bind” by Brad Beaulieu

BeaulieuB-AuthorPicCropWhen I first started writing Of Sand and Malice Made, I didn’t have a small novel in mind, or even a set of interconnected novellas. It began only with a single story, “Irindai”, which eventually sold to Ragnarok Publications for their Blackguards anthology. But as I developed that first story I knew it wouldn’t be the last in the series. I started having more and more thoughts about where I could take the story’s primary mover, a djinni-like creature name Rümayesh. I thought more about the sons of the trickster god that were working against her. I thought more about the new character, Brama, a two-bit thief who got pulled into something much larger and more dangerous than he ever expected. And I thought about what it could all mean for the heroine of the series, Çeda. Continue reading

New Books (June-July)

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Featuring: Bradley Beaulieu, Darcey Bell, Morgan Grant Buchanan, Michael Chabon, Bill Clegg, Paul Cornell, Claudia Christian, Mason Cross, Allen Eskens, Alice Hoffman, Chris Holm, Bill James, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Antonio Garcia Martinez, Stephen Metcalfe, Liesa Mignogna, Sylvia Moreno-Garcia, Alexandra Oliva, Laurie Penny, Andy Remic, Michael J. Sullivan, Heather Skyler, Melinda Snodgrass, Gav Thorpe, Paul Vidich, Chuck Wendig, Kayla Rae Whitaker, Kai Ashanti Wilson, Tom Wolfe, Joakim Zander, Rob Ziegler

Above artwork: Roche Limit: Monadic #4 (crop), by Kyle Charles (Image Comics) Continue reading

Upcoming: OF SAND AND MALICE MADE by Bradley Beaulieu (Gollancz/DAW)

BeaulieuB-SS2-OfSandAndMaliceMadeUK

Earlier today, Gollancz unveiled the UK cover for Bradley Beaulieu‘s next fantasy novel, Of Sand And Malice Made. As you can see above, it’s rather stunning (maybe one of my favourites of year — actually, alongside the cover for his co-written The Burning Light, which is to be published by Tor.com later this year). It’s the second novel in the author’s Shattered Sands series, but is a prequel to the first, Twelve Kings, which was published last year. Here’s the synopsis:

Çeda is the youngest pit fighter in the history of the great desert city of Sharakhai. In this brilliant new story, a prequel to Twelve Kings, she has already made her name in the arena as the fearsome, undefeated White Wolf. None but her closest friends and allies know her true identity.

But this all changes when she crosses the path of Rümayesh, one of the sadistic creatures known as ehrekh which were forged long ago by the god of chaos. They are usually desert dwellers, but this one lurks in the dark corners of Sharakhai, toying with and preying on humans. As Rümayesh works to unmask the White Wolf and claim Çeda for her own, Çeda’s struggle becomes a battle for her friends, her life, and her very soul.

The novel will be published in the US and Canada by DAW Books, with another great cover (below). Twelve Kings is published in the US/Canada by DAW Books, as Twelve Kings in Sharakai.

Also on CR: Interview with Bradley Beaulieu; Excerpt from Twelve Kings; Guest Post “On Co-Authoring Strata” (with Stephen Gaskell); Reviews of Twelve KingsThe Winds of Khalakovo and Strata

For more on Brad’s writing and novels, be sure to check out the author’s website, and follow him on Twitter and Goodreads.

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Quick Review: TWELVE KINGS by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Gollancz/DAW)

BeaulieuB-1-TwelveKingsUKA fascinating new fantasy series

In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother.

As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools — they’ve ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.

I’m a fan of Beaulieu’s work. I haven’t read as much of it as I would like, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far. Twelve Kings is no exception: it offers a big, sprawling new fantasy world and series, populated by interesting and diverse characters — with shades of the horrific to add extra flavour.
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New Books! (August)

MirrenBooksContainAdventure

Featuring: Matthew de Abaitua, Stephen Aryan, Bradley Beaulieu, Ben Bova, Lila Bowen, Zen Cho, Robert DeFranco, Seth Dickinson, Tom Doyle, Peter Facinelli, Charlie Fletcher, Vince Flynn, Ryan Gattis, Derek Haas, Sam Hawken, Andrew Michael Hurley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rajan Khanna, Andrew Klavan, Julia Knight, Mike Lawson, Alison Littlewood, Barry Lyga, Ian McDonald, Kyle Mills, Seth Patrick, T.R. Richmond, Adam Roberts, Lilith Saintcrow, Kieran Shea, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, David de Sola, Gav Thorpe, Ben Tripp, Anna Waterhouse, Andy Weir, Ian Winwood, Max Wirestone Continue reading

Excerpt: TWELVE KINGS by Bradley Beaulieu

BeaulieuB-1-TwelveKingsUKBradley Beaulieu‘s new novel, Twelve Kings, was published this week by Gollancz in the UK and DAW Books in the US (as Twelve Kings in Sharakai). The first novel in the Song of Shattered Sands series, it has already been on the receiving end of many glowing reviews. I’ve been following Beaulieu’s writing career since his debut, The Winds of Khalakovo (which was excellent), and had the pleasure of meeting him at World Fantasy Con in Brighton, 2013. Today, I have an excerpt from the novel to share, provided by Gollancz. First, here’s the synopsis:

In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother.

As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools-they’ve ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.

Here’s what the author has to say about this particular excerpt:

“Throughout the book, I have several other characters interspersed with those of Çeda, the story’s main character. One of those point-of-view characters is King Ihsan, known as the Honey-tongued King. This excerpt contains Ihsan’s first appearance in the novel. I chose it because it sets the tone for the Kings, shows that the Kings are not all the same, and that Ihsan in particular may have more plans than the rest of the Kings realize.”

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Upcoming from Gollancz/Orion

Continuing my recently-reinstated series of Upcoming posts, here are a selection of the (many) interesting and anticipated upcoming releases from Gollancz and Orion. (This is just a selection, of course, as Gollancz and Orion publish so very many excellent novels. For more, check our their website.)

BeaulieuB-1-TwelveKingsUKBradley Beaulieu, TWELVE KINGS (September 3rd)

An epic new fantasy series of mystery, prophecy and death within the ancient walled city of the Twelve Kings . . .

In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother.

As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools-they’ve ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.

I read and enjoyed Beaulieu’s debut novel, The Winds of Khalakovo in 2011 — for some reason, I never got around to finishing the series, but I think it was partly because I read the first book just before my year of living as something of a vagabond nomad… I’ll have to catch up at some point soon. Twelve Kinds is published in the US by DAW Books, on September 1st, 2015, as Twelve Kings in Sharakai.

Also on CR: Interview with Bradley Beaulieu (2011); Guest Post with Stephen Gaskell on “Co-Authoring Strata

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deBodardA-1-HouseOfShatteredWingsUKAliette de Bodard, THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS (August 20th)

A superb murder mystery, on an epic scale, set against the fall out — literally — of a war in heaven

Paris in the aftermath of the Great Magicians War. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black, thick with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation; or the architects of its last, irreversible fall . . .

I’ve featured this a few times, but any excuse to highlight it again… I have an ARC already, so expect a review soon. Published in the US by Roc Books, on August 18th, 2015.

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CoxE-RG2-CathedralOfKnownThingsUK smEdward Cox, THE CATHEDRAL OF KNOWN THINGS (Date)

In the end, all things are known. Return to the world of THE RELIC GUILD with this remarkable fantasy novel

Divided, hunted and short on resources, the surviving members of the Relic Guild are in real trouble. Their old enemy, the Genii, and their resurrected master have infiltrated Labrys Town and taken over the police force. 

So the Relic Guild must flee their home, and set off on a dangerous journey across the worlds of the Aelfir. One that will lead them to a weapon which might destroy the Genii. Or the whole universe…

And forty years before all this, the war which led to the fall of the Genii continues. And what happens to the Relic Guild during that conflict will change the course of their desperate flight.

I really enjoyed The Relic Guild, so I’m eager to get my mitts on a copy of the follow-up.

Also on CR: Interview with Edward Cox; Guest Post on “Writes and Wrongs

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GrassT-TwistUKPBTom Grass, TWIST (August 27th, PB)

Packed with action, love and betrayal, Tom Grass’s electrifying heist thriller is a gripping reinvention of the Dickens classic, OLIVER TWIST.

Eighteen-year-old Twist doesn’t have much. No money, no home and no family. All he has is his reputation as one of the most daring street artists in London — whose unique skills are matched only by his infamous talent as a climber and freerunner.

But when he finds himself on the run from the police, he knows that he could be about to lose the last thing he has left – his freedom. Until he is saved by the mysterious Dodge. When Dodge introduces him to con artist and art ‘collector’ Cornelius Faginescu, Twist realises that he finally has the chance to be part of something. All that he has to do is put aside his moral objections and learn to steal…

When this came out in hardcover, I don’t think I saw a single review or even mention on the various blogs I frequent or Twitter feeds I follow. Which is strange, as it sounds rather good. Maybe the paperback will get some more attention?

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JaconsJH-2-ForeignDevilsUKJohn Hornor Jacobs, FOREIGN DEVILS (Date)

Sequel to the critically acclaimed THE INCORRUPTIBLES — new lands, new wars, new dangers.

The world is on the brink of war. 

Fisk and Shoe — mercenaries, very much not wanting to get caught in the middle of a political whirlwind — must deliver a very important message, and find a very dangerous man. They have caught the eye of the powerful men of the world, and now the stakes are higher than they like.

And the Emperor has decreed that Livia Cornelius, pregnant with Fisk’s child, must travel to the far lands of the Autumn Lords on a diplomatic mission. It will mean crossing half the world, and facing new dangers. And in the end, she will uncover the shocking truth at the heart of the Autumn Lords’ Empire.

A truth which will make the petty politics of war and peace unimportant, and will change the world.

I quite enjoyed The Incorruptibles — the writing and world-building were very well done, and I’m very eager to read this sequel.

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LeGuinU-AlwaysComingHomeUK2015Ursula Le Guin, ALWAYS COMING HOME (October 8th)

An unsung masterpiece from one of fantastic literature’s greatest writers.

A long, long time from now, in the valleys of what will no longer be called Northern California, might be going to have lived a people called the Kesh.

But Always Coming Home is not the story of the Kesh. Rather it is the stories of the Kesh — stories, poems, songs, recipes — Always Coming Home is no less than an anthropological account of a community that does not yet exist, a tour de force of imaginative fiction by one of modern literature’s great voices.

I have not read enough of Le Guin’s novels. I’m glad Gollancz are re-releasing so many of them.

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LynchS-GB4-ThornOfEmberlainUK-SmScott Lynch, THE THORN OF EMBERLAIN (October 15th)

Locke and Jean find themselves sucked into the horror of war. Will things ever be the same again?

With 50,000 copies sold of The Republic of Thieves and with praise from the likes of Joe Abercrombie and George RR Martin the saga of the Gentleman Bastard has become a favourite and key part of the fantasy landscape. And now Locke Lamora, thief, con-man, pirate, political deceiver must become a soldier.

A new chapter for Locke and Jean and finally the war that has been brewing in the Kingdom of the Marrows flares up and threatens to capture all in its flames. 

And all the while Locke must try to deal with the disturbing rumours about his past revealed in The Republic of Thieves. Fighting a war when you don’t know the truth of right and wrong is one thing. Fighting a war when you don’t know the truth of yourself is quite another. Particularly when you’ve never been that good with a sword anyway…

I’m not sure there are many fantasy fans who aren’t eagerly awaiting this novel… I should probably get my skates on and read The Republic of Thieves ASAP — although, I would like to refresh on the first two… So many pages to get through before October… The first three novels in the series were published in the US by Del Rey, but their website doesn’t list this one, so not sure if this one’s theirs too.

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McDonaldI-Luna1-NewMoonUKIan McDonald, LUNA: NEW MOON (September 17th)

The new novel from a multi-award-winning writer: a corporate SF thriller and the deepest evocation yet of the terrors and rigours of life on the moon.

Having woven intricate and gripping plots around thought provoking looks at the future of countries like India, Brazil and Turkey, Ian McDonald now turns his attention to the moon. Luna is a gripping thriller about five corporate families caught in a bitter battle for supremacy in the harsh environment of the moon. It’s very easy to die on the moon but with its vast mineral wealth its also easy to make your fortune. This is SF that will be perfect for fans of Kim Stanley Robinson and Ken Macleod alike.

Told over two volumes this will do for the moon what the award winning River of Gods did for India, the award-winning Brasyl for Brazil and the award winning The Dervish House for Turkey – it will give it a vibrant, extraordinary and believable future.

Published in the US by Tor Books, on September 22nd, 2015.

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OliverN-MasterOfShadowsUKNeil Oliver, MASTER OF SHADOWS (September 10th)

From the lawless borderlands of Scotland to the crumbling majesty of Constantinople, the first novel from TV historian Neil Oliver is a sweeping, epic adventure and the story of a man all but forgotten by history.

In fifteenth-century Constantinople, Prince Constantine saves the life of a broken-hearted girl. But the price of his valour is high.

John Grant is a young man on the edge of the world. His unique abilities carry him from his home in Scotland to the heart of the Byzantine Empire in search of a girl and the chance to fulfil a death-bed promise.

Lena has remained hidden from the men who have been searching for her for many years. When she’s hunted down, at last she knows what she must do.

With an army amassing beyond the city’s ancient walls, the fates of these three will intertwine. As the Siege of Constantinople reaches its climax, each must make a choice between head and heart, duty and destiny.

The cover caught my attention, and the synopsis convinced me that I’d like to read this. (Also, I’m Scottish, and I lived in Istanbul — so… that’s another, weird, reason to be interested…)

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SheehanA-SpinningThornsUKAnna Sheehan, SPINNING THORNS (December 10th)

A superb new fairytale inspired novel from an award winning author. Once the fairy tale is told and the spell has been broken . . . what happens next . . . ?

Sleeping Beauty has woken.

The world has been renewed.

Everyone is living happily ever after . . .

Almost.

Sharp, blood-seeking thorns still surround the castle. A feud remains between those who wield magic and those who were subjected to it. And while the kingdom is divided against itself, nothing can thrive.

A rebellion may be needed — and that’s where Sleeping Beauty’s daughter comes in . . .

Don’t know anything about this novel save from the synopsis. And the cover, which is what drew my attention in the first place. There’s something akin to Into the Woods about the description, too, which could bode well.

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