Featuring: James Abbott, Nina Allan, Fredrik Backman, Bandi, Paul Beatty, Robert Jackson Bennett, Marie Brennan, Jesse Brown, M.R. Carey, Don Carpenter, Ben Coes, Jenny T. Colgan, Mason Cross, Cory Doctorow, Alan Drew, Amy Engle, Steve Erickson, Nigel Foster, David Guymer, John Gwynne, Tom Holt, Christopher Husberg, James Islington, Howard Jacobson, Stephen King, Andrew Lane, Dale Lucas, Grace O’Connell, Sam Peters, Eliza Robertson, Vivian Shaw, Michael Farris Smith, Brian Staveley, Allen Steele, Stephan Talty, Gav Thorpe, Alison Umminger, Jeff Vandermeer, Paul Vidich, Chris Wraight
In the first of today’s posts celebrating the release of Brian Staveley‘s stand-alone Skullsworn, we have an excerpt. First, though, here’s the synopsis:
For one apprentice assassin, the clock is ticking…
Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the description skullsworn. It doesn’t capture the beauty of her devotion to Ananshael, God of Death. And she’s not an assassin, but a priestess. Or she will be, if she can pass her final trial. The problem isn’t killing, as Pyrre has spent her life training for this. The problem is love. To pass the trial, she will have fourteen days to kill seven people detailed in an ancient song, including one true love, ‘who will not come again’. However, Pyrre has never been in love, time is short, and if she fails she’ll be given to her god.
Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail. So a month before the trial begins, she returns to the violent city of her birth, where she once offered an abusive father to the god. Here Pyrre hopes to find love – and end it with the edge of her knife.
Skullsworn is set in the same world as Staveley’s excellent, best-selling and critically-acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy. On with the excerpt!
The year’s flood of interesting new and upcoming releases continues! Most of these are high on my must-read (mental) list. Some of these are also not out for a very long time, so reviews won’t appear for a few months. Nevertheless, worth mentioning to whet others’ appetites for the year ahead’s biblio-offerings…
Featuring: Jami Attenberg, Paul Auster, David Bishop, JoAnn Chaney, Andy Clark, John Connolly, Liv Constantine, Ben Counter, Paul Crilley, Rene Denfeld, Alice Feeney, Neil Gaiman, Max Gladstone, L.J. Goulding, Jean Hanff Korelitz, Anthony Horowitz, Danya Kukafka, Victor LaValle, Mark Lawrence, Norman Ohler, B.A. Paris, Sarah Pinborough, Alastair Reynolds, Michael Rubens, Kieran Shea, Jon Skovron, Brian Staveley, James Swallow, Martha Wells
The highly-anticipated conclusion to the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy
DEATH IS NEAR, ARMIES ARE GATHERED, AND THE FUTURE RESTS ON A KNIFE-EDGE
The Annurian Empire is losing a war on two fronts — and it’s unclear who’s in command. Adare is stationed in the thick of battle, calling herself Emperor. However, she can’t hold back the nomadic Urghul forces forever. She needs her brilliant general, Ran il Tornja, but will he betray her again?
Adare’s brother Kaden is the true heir, yet he’ll accept a republic to save his divided people. And he faces something more terrible than war. He’s unmasked Ran il Tornja as a remnant of an ancient race, one that attempted to destroy mankind. The general now plans to finish what they started. Kaden has also discovered that capricious gods walk the earth in human guise — and their agendas may seal the fates of all.
In early 2014, I finally got around to reading Brian Staveley’s first two novels, The Emperor’s Blades and The Providence of Fire. I was blown away — I read them back-to-back, which is something I haven’t done with a fantasy series since Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamoraand Red Seas Under Red Skies, and Peter V. Brett’s The Desert Spearand The Daylight War. Staveley’s writing, his characters, and the fantastically composed and paced narrative just pulled me through. I was hooked. I still think the two novels are a fantastic example of what modern fantasy can be. (Seriously, go read them.) I had a rather different reaction to The Last Mortal Bond… Continue reading →
Just stumbled across this in Tor’s new catalogue: a stand-alone novel set in Brian Staveley‘s Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne universe! Skullswornis due to be published in the US by Tor Books, in April 2017 (so far away…). Here’s the synopsis:
Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer — she is a priestess. At least, she will be a priestess if she manages to pass her final trial.
The problem isn’t the killing. Pyrre has been killing and training to kill, studying with some of the most deadly men and women in the world, since she was eight. The problem, strangely, is love. To pass her Trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one you love / who will not come again.”
Pyrre is not sure she’s ever been in love. If she were a member of a different religious order, a less devoted, disciplined order, she might cheat. The Priests of Ananshael, however, don’t look kindly on cheaters. If Pyrre fails to find someone to love, or fails to kill that someone, they will give her to the god.
Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to quit, hates to fail, and so, with a month before her trial begins, she returns to the city of her birth, the place where she long ago offered an abusive father to the god and abandoned a battered brother — in the hope of finding love… and ending it on the edge of her sword.
Really looking forward to this. Will have to finish the first trilogy first, of course. Skullsworn is also due to be published in the UK by Tor Books (they also published the author’s debut trilogy) — not cover, yet.
Featuring: Andrew Bannister, Stephanie Burgis, Lee Child, Myke Cole, Sebastien de Castell, A.A. Dhand, N.S. Dolkart, Steven Erikson, Christie Golden, Stephen Graham Jones, Jessica Grose, Guy Haley, Peter Hanington, Samantha Hayes, Kaui Hart Hemmings, D.L. Hughley, Kij Johnson, Emma Kavanagh, Laura Lam, Owen Laukkanen, Ken MacLeod, Laurence MacNaughton, Jay McInerney, Barney Norris, Daniel O’Malley, Ann Patchett, Ben Peek, Leif G.W. Perrson, Gae Polisner, Adam Rakunas, Chris Roberson, J. Todd Scott, Helen Sedgwick, J.P. Smythe, Brian Staveley, James Swallow, Michael Swanwick, David Swinson, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Matt Wallace, Robin Yocum
Above Picture: Crop of Injection #7, by Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire (Image)
I got an email a few weeks ago from a young man just graduating from college, an aspiring writer, who wanted to know which careers I thought might be most conducive to the writing life. I suspect the answer might be Fire Lookout. Or maybe Monk.Professional Writer seems promising, at least at first glance, but turns out to entail all kinds of stuff that’s not actually writing.
In fact, I’m not in the greatest position to answer this question. Aside from college stints as a waiter and a rock climbing instructor and a short time immediately after graduation in which I worked at a halfway house for convicted felons, the only job I’ve ever had, the one I held from my early twenties until I quit to write full time, was teaching. For all I know, Professional Water Skier might facilitate the hell out of some good writing, but I can only talk teaching. Continue reading →
Today, a quick look at upcoming titles from Tor Books (US) that have caught my eye — some of these aren’t due out until early 2016, but I thought they looked interesting enough to feature now.
Charlie Jane Anders, ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY (January 26th, 2016)
Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.
But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s every-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together — to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.
A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.
A dazzling novel of humanity, noir heroines, and the Singularity
They call it Company Towna citysized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes, now owned by one very wealthy, powerful, byzantine family: Lynch Ltd.
Hwa is of the few people in her community (which constitutes the whole rig) to forgo bioengineered enhancements. As such, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rigmaking her doubly an outsider, as well as a neglected daughter and bodyguard extraordinaire. Still, her expertise in the arts of selfdefense and her record as a fighter mean that her services are yet in high demand. When the youngest Lynch needs training and protection, the family turns to Hwa. But can even she protect against increasingly intense death threats seemingly coming from another timeline?
Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability and heightens the unease of a rig turning over. All signs point to a nearly invisible serial killer, but all of the murders seem to lead right back to Hwa’s front door. Company Town has never been the safest place to bebut now, the danger is personal.
A brilliant, twisted mystery, as one woman must evaluate saving the people of a town that can’t be saved, or saving herself.
I think the first time I heard about Company Town was via Angry Robot Books, who published Ashby’s The Machine Dynastyseries. However, I can’t find anything about Company Town on their website (this might be because of the recent purchase of the publisher and subsequent changes).
R.S. Belcher, BROTHERHOOD OF THE WHEEL (March 1st, 2016)
A unique new urban fantasy exploring the haunted byways and truck stops of the U.S. Interstate Highway System
In 1119 A.D., a group of nine crusaders became known as the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomona militant monastic order charged with protecting pilgrims and caravans traveling on the roads to and from the Holy Land. In time, the Knights Templar would grow in power and, ultimately, be laid low. But a small offshoot of the Templars endure and have returned to the order’s original mission: to defend the roads of the world and guard those who travel on them.
Theirs is a secret line of knights: truckers, bikers, taxi hacks, state troopers, bus drivers, RV gypsiesany of the folks who live and work on the asphalt arteries of America. They call themselves the Brotherhood of the Wheel.
Jimmy Aussapile is one such knight. He’s driving a big rig down South when a promise to a ghostly hitchhiker sets him on a quest to find out the terrible truth behind a string of children gone missing all across the country. The road leads him to Lovina Hewitt, a skeptical Louisiana State Police investigator working the same case and, eventually, to a forgotten town that’s not on any mapand to the secret behind the eerie BlackEyed Kids said to prowl the highways.
Seth Dickinson, THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT (September 15th)
A young woman from a conquered people tries to transform an empire in this richly imagined geopolitical fantasy.
Baru Cormorant believes any price is worth paying to liberate her people-even her soul.
When the Empire of Masks conquers her island home, overwrites her culture, criminalizes her customs, and murders one of her fathers, Baru vows to swallow her hate, join the Empire’s civil service, and claw her way high enough to set her people free.
Sent as an Imperial agent to distant Aurdwynn, another conquered country, Baru discovers it’s on the brink of rebellion. Drawn by the intriguing duchess Tain Hu into a circle of seditious dukes, Baru may be able to use her position to help. As she pursues a precarious balance between the rebels and a shadowy cabal within the Empire, she orchestrates a do-or-die gambit with freedom as the prize.
But the cost of winning the long game of saving her people may be far greater than Baru imagines.
Dickinson’s debut is published in the UK by Tor Books, as The Traitor.
The Moon wants to kill you. Whether it’s being unable to pay your per diem for your allotted food, water, and air, or you just get caught up in a fight between the Moon’s ruling corporations, the Five Dragons. You must fight for every inch you want to gain in the Moon’s near feudal society. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.
As the leader of the Moon’s newest “dragon,” Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, at the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation, Corta Helio, surrounded by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.
This is published in the UK by Gollancz, on September 17th, 2015.
For eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.
Recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can’t remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemenConquest, Famine, and Deathare brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.
Nowbound, bloodied, and druggedGideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he’s fallen fornot to mention all of humankindhe needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.
V.E. Schwab, A GATHERING OF SHADOWS (February 23rd, 2016)
Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.
In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games-an extravagent international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries — a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.
But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again — and so to keep magic’s balance, another London must fall.
Brian Staveley, THE LAST MORTAL BOND (March 15th, 2016)
War engulfs the Annurian Empire.
The ancient csestriim are back to finish their purge of humanity; armies march against the capital; leaches, solitary beings who draw power from the natural world to fuel their extraordinary abilities, maneuver on all sides to affect the outcome of the war; and capricious gods walk the earth in human guise with agendas of their own.
But the three imperial siblings at the heart of it all Valyn, Adare, and Kaden come to understand that even if they survive the holocaust unleashed on their world, there may be no reconciling their conflicting visions of the future.
The first two books in Staveley’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne are also published in the US by Tor Books: The Emperor’s Blades and Providence of Fire. The series is published in the UK by Tor (UK). I loved the first two books, can’t wait to read this!
Once a year on Dragon Day the fabled Dragon Gate is raised to let a sea dragon pass into the Sabian Sea. There, it will be hunted by the Storm Lords, a fellowship of powerful water-mages who rule an empire called the Storm Isles.
Emira Imerle Polivar is coming to the end of her tenure as leader of the Storm Lords, but she has no intention of standing down graciously. As part of her plot to hold onto power, she instructs an order of priests known as the Chameleons to sabotage the Dragon Gate. There’s just one problem: that will require them to infiltrate an impregnable citadel that houses the gate’s mechanism — a feat that has never been accomplished before.
But Imerle is not the only one intent on destroying the Storm Lord dynasty. As the Storm Lords assemble in answer to a mysterious summons, they become the targets of assassins working for an unknown enemy. And when Imerle sets her scheme in motion, that enemy uses the ensuing chaos to play its hand.
Turner’s debut, When Heavens Fall, is also published by Tor Books in the US, and in the UK by Titan Books. I assume they’ll be publishing book two as well.
Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.
Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother’s side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city’s secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.
As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever — if it isn’t destroyed outright.
War is coming, secrets multiply and betrayal waits in the wings…
The Annurian Empire’s ruling family must be vigilant, as the conspiracy against them deepens. Having discovered her father’s assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies. But few trust her, until she seems marked by the people’s goddess in an ordeal of flame.
As Adare struggles to unite Annur, unrest breeds rival armies – then barbarian hordes threaten to invade. And unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn has fallen in with forces mustering at the empire’s borders. The terrible choices they face could make war between them inevitable.
Fighting his own battles is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with two strange companions. While imperial forces prepare to defend a far-distant front, Kaden’s actions could save the empire, or destroy it.
Coming so soon after my review for the first book in the series, it’s a little tricky to think of how to write this review. Most of what I loved about The Emperor’s Blades is true for The Providence of Fire: Staveley’s writing and storytelling are great, his characters interesting and nuance. However, all of these elements have improved for this second novel. If you haven’t read Staveley yet, then you are missing out. This is a must read series. Continue reading →