New Books (April-May)


Featuring: Rob Boffard, Pat Cunnane, Delilah S. Dawson, Francesco Dimitri, Ronan Farrow, R.S. Ford, Daniel Godfrey, Jonathan Lethem, Brian McClellan, Derek B. Miller, Daniel José Older, Kathleen O’Neal Gear, Sarah Pinborough, Chistopher Ruocchio, John Sandford, Nick Setchfield, Jake Tapper, Daniel Torday, Alex White, Tyler Whitesides, You-Jeong Jeong

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Upcoming: WRATH OF EMPIRE by Brian McClellan (Orbit)

McClellanB-GoB&P2-WrathOfEmpireUSThis week, Brian McClellan unveiled the cover for his next novel: Wrath of Empire. The second novel in his Gods of Blood & Powder fantasy series, and follow-up to Sins of Empire, I’m really looking forward to reading it. (I’ll need to get caught up, first, of course — I’ve still got to read The Autumn Republic and Sins of Empire before diving into this one.) Due to be published by Orbit Books in March 2018 in the US and UK, here’s the synopsis:

The country is in turmoil. With the capital city occupied, half a million refugees are on the march, looking for safety on the frontier, accompanied by Lady Flint’s soldiers. But escaping war is never easy, and soon the battle may find them, whether they are prepared or not.

Back in the capital, Michel Bravis smuggles even more refugees out of the city. But internal forces are working against him. With enemies on all sides, Michael may be forced to find help with the very occupiers he’s trying to undermine.

Meanwhile, Ben Styke is building his own army. He and his mad lancers are gathering every able body they can find and searching for an ancient artifact that may have the power to turn the tides of war in their favor. But what they find may not be what they’re looking for.

Also on CR: Interview with Brian McClellan (2013); Guest Posts on “My Favourite Novel” and “Protagonist Ages in Epic Fantasy”; Excerpt from The Autumn Republic; Reviews of Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

New Books (February)


Featuring: Dan Abnett, David Annandale, Col Buchanan, John Connolly, Kris D’Agostino, N.S. Dolkart, C.Z. Dunn, Ben Galley, Guy Haley, Joseph Helmreich, Darius Hinks, Gabe Hudson, Stephen Graham Jones, George Mann, Brian McClellan, David Mealing, Megan E. O’Keefe, Liza Palmer, M.L. Rio, Roslund & Hellström, Adam Sternbergh, Anthony Tambakis, Matt Wallace, Keith Yatsuhashi

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Upcoming in 2017… Orbit Books


Here are some of my most-anticipated novels published by Orbit Books…

Featuring: Jordanna Max Brodsky, M.R. Carey, Nicholas Eames, Charlie Fletcher, Dale Lucas, Brian McClellan, David Mealing, Elizabeth Moon, Claire North, Jon Skovron, Kim Stanley Robinson, Sam Sykes

[Updated on January 16th with five more books; and on February 2nd with a video of interviews with new Orbit authors.]

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New Books (February)


Featuring: David Annandale, Jo Baker, Mishell Baker, David Baldacci, Elizabeth Bonesteel, Pierce Brown, Christopher Charles, Jessica Chiarella, Dan Cluchey, Max Allan Collins, John Connolly, Don DeLillo, S.B. Divya, Rachel Dunne, Mark Andrew Ferguson, Hadley Freeman, S.L. Grey, Lauren Groff, A.J. Hartley, Noah Hawley, Katie Heaney, Patrick Hemstreet, Mitchell Hogan, Lee Kelly, Shane Kuhn, Joe R. Lansdale, John Lansdale, Tim Lebbon, David Levien, Brian McClellan, Claire North, Willow Palecek, K.J. Parker, Bryony Pearce, Victor Pelevin, Molly Prentiss, Andy Remic, William Shatner, Mickey Spillane, Jo Spurrier, Allen Steele, Stuart Stevens, Alex Stewart, Jack Sutherland, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Marc Turner, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Teddy Wayne

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Excerpt: THE AUTUMN REPUBLIC by Brian McClellan (Orbit)

McClellanB-PM3-AutumnRepublicIf you’ve been reading Civilian Reader for the past couple of years, you’ll have noticed that I’m a big fan of Brian McClellan‘s Powder Mage series – the novels and novellas have all been great. The third and (possibly?) final novel – The Autumn Republic – will be published by Orbit Books on February 10th, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the story ends. Orbit US have provided me with the second chapter to share with you all. You can read the first chapter over on Orbit’s blog, here.

Before we get to the excerpt, however, here’s the synopsis:

The capital has fallen…

Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing, his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away.

An army divided…

With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son.

All hope rests with one…

And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed…

If you’d like to read more, here’s what else is on CR: Interview with Brian McClellan, Guest posts on Favourite Novel and Protagonist Ages in Epic Fantasy; Reviews of Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign

Now, on to the excerpt…! Continue reading

Novella Reviews: RETURN TO HONOR by Brian McClellan and FIRE WATER by Jaye Wells (Orbit)

McClellanB-PM-ReturnToHonorBrian McClellan, RETURN TO HONOR

Vlora takes centre stage

Captain Vlora is a powder mage in the Adran army. Once the favored, adopted daughter of the field marshal, she is now a pariah amongst those she called her family. Her superior officers would like nothing more than to send her to a far off posting and forget about her, but no one is exempt when there is a war – and powder mages are desperately needed.

When a traitorous guard captain goes on the run with information that could harm the war effort, Vlora is sent on his trail. She has three days to find him; she will have to make new friends and test the limits of her skills. Fail, and good soldiers will die. Succeed and maybe, just maybe, she can begin to work her way back into the field marshal’s good graces.

Vlora is a character that has spent most of the Powder Mage series on the periphery: following a moment of indiscretion, she has been ostracised by Field Marshal Tamas’s inner circle. Ever since, she has been suffering under Tamas’s withering contempt, and as Taniel’s popularity grows, so too does her isolation among the troops (powder mage and others). In Return to Honor, which takes place after the second novel, The Crimson Campaign, Vlora is given an opportunity to impress Tamas and perhaps reacquire some of his respect. He tasks her to hunt down a survivor from a battle in the aforementioned novel, to recover the intelligence they believe this traitor has stolen, before he has a chance to sell it to their enemies.

It’s another very good story, too: with Vlora at the centre, we see an alternative perspective on life in the army. The action is limited, but the story is more investigative than war-focused. This is one of the great things about McClellan’s short stories: they do a wonderful job of filling out the edges of the story, away from the battlefront. Return to Honor is a great tale to hold you over until the publication of the trilogy’s finale, The Autumn Republic (published on February 10th). Highly recommended.

Powder Mage Series: Promise of Blood [review], The Crimson Campaign [review], The Autumn Republic

Also on CR: Interview with Brian McClellan; Guest Posts “My Favourite Novel” and “Protagonist Ages in Epic Fantasy



WellsJ-PW-FireWaterJaye Wells, FIRE WATER

An early case for Kate Prospero

Rookie cop Kate Prospero only has one more training assignment to pass before she’s officially sworn in to Babylon Police Department. But the veteran cop in charge of the river patrol boat is a salty old guy isn’t happy about playing tour guide to a rookie and seems even less interested in real police work. But while on patrol, they stumble on to what appears to be a floating dirty magic lab. This highly combustible situation might finally be the key to these two unlikely partners finding common ground.

This is the first thing by Wells that I’ve read. And it was pretty good: set very early in Kate Prospero’s law enforcement career, she’s still finding her feet in the role, butting heads with the jock recruits who struggle with the idea of a woman on the force, and therefore don’t take her presence seriously. Not only that, she’s an Adept (magically gifted), which only piles on the prejudices and difficulties she faces on a day-to-day basis. Assigned to accompany a cantankerous, aging police officer on river duty, Prospero finds herself on a case, investigating potion sellers. One thing leads to another, and she finds herself right in the thick of it…

I enjoyed this story — Wells’s prose is very clear and well-composed. The characters are interesting, well-written, and varied. They are familiar types, but don’t feel cliched. The story’s pace is good, unhurried, but not plodding. Overall, I couldn’t say the story excited me overmuch, but it did pique my interest to read the novels (which, thankfully, I have). It reminded me of Stacia Kane’s, M.L. Brennan’s, Kevin Hearne’s, and Jim Butcher’s novels in mood and style (while still remaining disctinct, as do these other authors’ works). If you’ve never read anything by Wells, then I think Fire Water is a great introduction. If you’re already a fan of the author and/or the Prospero’s War series, then I think you’ll enjoy this, too. Recommended.

Prospero’s War Series: Dirty Magic, Cursed Moon, Deadly Spells (Feb.10)