Guest Post: “Fire Lookout, Monk, Water-Skier, Teacher; the Best Profession for a Writer” by Brian Staveley

StaveleyB-AuthorPicI 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

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Upcoming: Tor Books (US)

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.

PrintCharlie 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.

Publisher’s Page

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Boy Eating
Boy Eating

Madeline Ashby, COMPANY TOWN (April 5th, 2016)

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 Dynasty series. 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).

Also on CR: Interview with Madeline Ashby; Guest Post on “How Do You Make Non-Humans Seem Human

Publisher’s Page

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BelcherRS-BrotherhoodOfTheWheelUSR.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.

Publisher’s Page

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DickinsonS-TraitorBaruCormorantUSSeth 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.

Publisher’s Page

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McDonaldI-Luna1-NewMoonUSIan McDonald, LUNA: NEW MOON (September 22nd)

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.

Publisher’s Page

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RossiV-RidersUSVeronica Rossi, RIDERS (February 16th, 2016)

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.

They fail.

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.

But will anyone believe him?

Publisher’s Page

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A Gathering of Shadows FinalV.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.

The sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic (which is published in the UK by Titan Books).

Also on CR: Review of Vicious

Publisher’s Page

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StaveleyB-CUT3-LastMortalBondUSBrian 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!

Also on CR: Reviews of The Emperor’s Blades and Providence of FireExcerpt from The Emperor’s Blades

Publisher’s Page

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TurnerM-2-DragonHuntersUSMarc Turner, DRAGON HUNTERS (February 9th, 2016)

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.

Also on CR: Review of When the Heavens Fall; Interview with Marc Turner

Publisher’s Page

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WildeF-UpdraftUSFran Wilde, UPDRAFT (September 1st)

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.

Publisher’s Page

Review: THE PROVIDENCE OF FIRE by Brian Staveley (Tor)

StaveleyB-CUT2-ProvidenceOfFireUKAn excellent sequel to The Emperor’s Blades

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

Excerpt: THE PROVIDENCE OF FIRE by Brian Staveley (Tor)

Staveley-2-TheProvidenceOfFire

As I prep this post, I’m in the middle of reading Brian Staveley‘s debut, The Emperor’s Blades – the first novels in the author’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne series. It’s certainly very good. It’s sequel, The Providence of Fire is now out in the UK and North America, published by Tor Books. To whet your appetites, Tor has allowed me to share this excerpt from the first chapter. But first, here’s the synopsis:

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.

Now, on to the excerpt! Continue reading

Review: THE EMPEROR’S BLADES by Brian Staveley (Tor)

Staveley-1-TheEmperorsBladesUKA superb, must-read debut epic fantasy

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 prepare to unmask a conspiracy. His son Valyn, training for the empire’s deadliest fighting force, hears the news an ocean away. And after several ‘accidents’ and a dying soldier’s warning, he realizes his life is also in danger. Yet before Valyn can act, he must survive the mercenaries’ brutal final initiation.

The Emperor’s daughter, Minister Adare, hunts her father’s murderer in the capital. Court politics can be fatal, but she needs justice. Lastly 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 ancient powers. But when an imperial delegation arrives, has he learnt enough to keep him alive, as long-hidden powers make their move?

There was much hype around The Emperor’s Blades when it was released last year. Naturally, being the ornery and difficult fellow, I decided to wait. And wait. As the weeks passed, I became distracted by other things and other new books. Then I moved to Canada. After the arrival of the sequel, The Providence of Fire, I decided I had waited long enough, and started reading The Emperor’s Blades (wow, that was one long, convoluted tale that was utterly unimportant and uninteresting…). And then I kept reading. Well into the night, multiple times. With only a couple of niggles, I can sum things up thus: Believe the hype. This is a great novel and the beginning of something special. Continue reading

New Books (2015 Inaugural Edition)

BooksReceived-20150113

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

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.