New Books (July-August)

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Featuring: Megan Abbott, Cristina Alger, Guy Bolton, Mike Chen, Myke Cole, Delilah S. Dawson, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael Downing, Jasmin B. Frelih, John French, Stephen Fry, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Patrick Hasburgh, Sam Hawken, Kevin Hearne, Grady Hendrix, Michiko Kakutani, Gary Kemble, Derek Künsken, Avis Lang, Ian Nathan, Malka Older, George Pelecanos, Melissa Rivero, Justina Robson, Michael Rutger, Brandon Sanderson, Gary Shteyngart, Matt Strandberg, Tricia Sullivan, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Sharlene Teo, G.B. Trudeau, K.B. Wagers, Corey J. White, Rio Youers,

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New Books (2015 Inaugural Edition)

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Featuring: Louis Bayard, Pierce Brown, Gail Carriger, Tom Doyle, Alan Finn, James Grady, Simon R. Green, Kevin Hearne, Jim C. Hines, Deborath Install, Ha Jin, Michael Moorcock, Haruki Murakami, Daniel José Older, Anthony Reynolds, Brandon Sanderson, Beth Shapiro, Brian Staveley, Olen Steinhauer, Ferrett Steinmetz, Duane Swierczynski, David Walton, Susan Wilkins Continue reading

UK Competition: STEELHEART and FIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson!

Sanderson-Reckoners1&2UK

Those lovely folks at Gollancz have provided a copy of Brandon Sanderson‘s Steelheart and Firefight for me to give away to one lucky reader in the UK. (Sorry to those of you not from the UK… I’ll try to organise an international giveaway ASAP.) Not sure what the series is about? Well, here’s the synopsis for Steelheart:

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart – the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning – and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

I enjoyed Steelheart, and also the short story set between the two novels, Mitosis. I’m really looking forward to reading Firefight.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning this action-packed bundle is… leave a comment or email me, and I’ll pick the winner at random on Sunday night. The winner will be notified on Monday morning.

New Books (November #2)

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Featuring: Poul Anderson, David Baldacci, Elizabeth Bear, James Enge, Chris Evans, Michel Faber, John French, Joe Haldeman, James M. Hough, Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman, John Love, Brandon Sanderson, Gav Thorpe, Olivier Truc Continue reading

Upcoming: FIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz)

Sanderson-R2-FirefightUKI rather enjoyed Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheartthe first in the Reckoners series and also the first of the author’s novels that I’ve read. I stumbled across the UK cover for Firefight, the sequel, while researching something else. It’s a rather excellent cover, I think, and will sit very nicely alongside Steelheart and the novella Mitosis. Here’s the synopsis:

They told David it was impossible – that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart – invincible, immortal, unconquerable – is dead. And he died by David’s hand.

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realise he has questions. Big ones. And there’s no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.

Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David’s willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David’s heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic – Firefight. And he’s willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

Firefight is due to be published in the UK by Gollancz in January 2015. Here are the other two covers:

Sanderson-R-Steelheart&MitosisUK

Cover Art: THE RITHMATIST by Brandon Sanderson (Tor UK)

Today, Tor UK unveiled this frankly gorgeous cover. It’s for the UK paperback edition of Brandon Sanderson’s YA fantasy, THE RITHMATIST. It’s an interesting take on, while still in keeping with, the overall aesthetic that Gollancz pioneered for Sanderson’s adult fantasy novels. And I think it may actually be my favourite of his UK covers…

Sanderson-TheRithmatist2014-TorUK

In case you haven’t been aware of this novel, here’s the synopsis:

In a school for the magically gifted, your talent could cost you your life…

Young student Joel is fascinated by the magic of Rithmatics, but few have the gift and he is not one of them. Undaunted, Joel persuades Professor Fitch to teach him about this geometric magic. For although Joel can’t infuse his protective lines and circles with power, or bring his chalk-drawn creatures to life, he can really understand how it works. However, a daunting test lies ahead, when someone starts kidnapping top Rithmatic students at his school, Armedius Academy.

Since he’s not a magic user, Joel appears to be safe and he’s desperate to investigate and prove himself. Then people start dying – but can Joel really stop a killer alone? He’ll need the help of Rithmatist apprentice Melody, as even more students disappear. Together, they must race to find clues before the killer notices them – and takes them out too.

The book features illustrations by Ben McSweeney, which depict the magical elements of the novel with great elegance and insight.

The Rithmatist will be available from May 22nd.

A Quick Comment on the Gemmell Award Shortlists, and One of the Nominees. Sort of…

This post is a bit of a break from the norm for me. I’m also not really sure what it’s meant to do. It’s a bit waffley, for which I apologise only slightly, and in not entirely a heartfelt manner. Fiction awards mean very little to me, being neither author, editor, publisher, nor agent. (At least, not yet…) This means I have never (to my recollection) written a post of any worth/note about shortlists or winners.

Brett-DaylightWarUKAward lists tend to pass me by without comment or thought. Invariably, this is because there aren’t any books featured that I’ve read – or, if there is, it is one that didn’t leave much of an impression one way or another. This year has been a bit different, however. For example, Kameron Hurley’s God’s War has been cropping up on a few shortlists, and it’s a book I rather enjoyed. So that made a nice change.

The shortlists for the Gemmell Awards were announced today at Eastercon. In a real break from the norm, the shortlist for the Legend Award (best fantasy) features not only five authors I have read, but also a book I feel particularly strongly about. So I thought I’d write a quick blog post about it. The book in question is Peter V. Brett’s The Daylight War, the third in his Demon Cycle series.

[Before I continue, let me just state that my focus on this book is not an indictment of the other authors nominated for the award. I just feel particularly strongly about this one. The other Legend nominees – Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Brandon Sanderson – are great authors, too, whose works I have enjoyed very much. I just haven’t read their nominated novels.]

I’ve been experiencing a phase of fantasy disenchantment, lately. In fact, looking back over the past year or so, I’ve read far less (epic) fantasy than I would have expected. I have picked up and discarded more fantasy novels than I usually do, too. I just can’t get into anything, nor can I rustle up the enthusiasm to sit through hefty tomes.

Brett-DaylightWarUSThere is one clear exception to that, though, and that’s Brett’s series. Every time I think about reading a fantasy novel, I find myself wistfully wishing that the next novel in the Demon Cycle was already available. This is because there are very few authors who do it better. That’s not to say other fantasists writing today aren’t good, or are lacking in talent – far from it. But, really, I think the only epic fantasy series I would happily drop everything to read the next book in, is the Demon Cycle. Everything about the novels just works for me – the story, prose, characters… everything. I don’t think, across the three novels published so far, I’ve come across anything that gave me pause. I read the first, The Painted Man, in three sittings – the final sitting a 300-page marathon, which I finished at 4am. I read the second and third novels back-to-back (something I rarely do), eschewing everything else – true, I was unemployed at the time, and had little else to do; but nevertheless, all I wanted to do was read the books.

I haven’t experienced that level of Reading Insistence since I read Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora – the book that got me back into reading fantasy in the first place (as I think I’ve mentioned ad infinitum on the blog). In the case of Lynch’s series, I went straight out and bought Red Seas Under Red Skies when I was only two-thirds of the way through the first book – I even didn’t mind that it was the (frankly ghastly) shiny red-covered edition. Since then, and given the understandable delay before the third book came out, I have been almost afraid to go back and re-read the series to catch up.

Oh actually, that’s not entirely true – I was also incredibly impatient about getting hold of Brent Weeks’s Night Angel Trilogy. I must have pestered the Orbit publicist to the point of irritation, requesting the final two books… I was also really late to Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, and I do consider Before They Are Hanged to be one of my favourite novels.

Regardless, the point I’m trying to make is that very few epic fantasy novels have really grabbed hold of my imagination and attention. And, I think, none more so than Brett’s Demon Cycle.

So, to bring this ramble back around to the topic at hand, I really hope The Daylight War wins the Legend Award.

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The David Gemmell Awards ceremony will take place at London’s Magic Circle on June 13th, 2014.

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Peter V. Brett’s The Daylight War is published in the UK by Voyager, and in the US by Del Rey. The first two volumes in the series – The Painted Man (UK)/The Warded Man (US) and The Desert Spear are published by the same publishers. Two novellas have also been collected into a single volume: The Great Bazaar and Brayan’s Gold. If you haven’t read them yet, and have any interest in fantasy, then I could not recommend them enough. You won’t regret reading them, I’m sure.

My reviews of the books: The Painted Man, The Desert Spear, The Daylight War and The Great Bazaar and Brayan’s Gold.

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Regarding the Other Shortlists…

For the Morning Star category (best debut), I really enjoyed Brian McClellan’s Promise of Blood – it is also the only novel on the shortlist I’ve read.

In the Ravenheart category (best artwork), I actually like them all, and quite a lot. But I don’t understand why any of the covers for Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky fantasy trilogy didn’t make it onto the final list… (I haven’t read any of the novels, but I want to, and those covers are frankly stunning.)