Upcoming: THE MALEFICENT SEVEN by Cameron Johnston (Angry Robot)

JohnstonC-MaleficentSevenThis morning, the cover for Cameron Johnston‘s upcoming new novel, The Maleficent Seven, caught my eye on Twitter. Looking up the synopsis, I got some vibes similar to those I found in Ari Marmell’s The Conqueror’s Shadow (which I really enjoyed). I’m really looking forward to trying this one. Here’s the synopsis:

When you are all out of heroes, all that’s left are the villains.

Black Herran was a dread demonologist, and the most ruthless general in all Essoran. She assembled the six most fearsome warriors to captain her armies: a necromancer, a vampire lord, a demigod, an orcish warleader, a pirate queen, and a twisted alchemist. Together they brought the whole continent to its knees… Until the day she abandoned her army, on the eve of total victory.

40 years later, she must bring her former captains back together for one final stand, in the small town of Tarnbrooke — the last bastion against a fanatical new enemy tearing through the land, intent on finishing the job Black Herran started years before.

Seven bloodthirsty monsters. One town. Their last hope.

Cameron Johnston’s The Maleficent Seven is due to be published by Angry Robot Books in North America and in the UK, on August 10th, 2021.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: PRIEST OF GALLOWS by Peter McLean (Jo Fletcher Books)

McLeanP-WftRT3-PriestOfGallowsUKThe third novel in Peter McLean‘s acclaimed War for the Rose Throne series, Priest of Gallows, is due out later this year. It’s not the final book in the series (there’s at least one more on the way, Priest of Crowns), so fans of the series can be happy that there’s still plenty of action and intrigue still to come. I really need to get caught up on this series. Here’s the synopsis:

Gangster, soldier, priest. Queen’s Man. Governor.

Tomas Piety has everything he ever wanted. In public he’s a wealthy, highly respected businessman, happily married to a beautiful woman and Governor of his home city of Ellinburg. In private, he’s no longer a gang lord but one of the Queen’s Men, invisible and officially non-existent, working in secret to protect his country.

But when the queen’s sudden death sees him summoned him back to the capital, he discovers his boss, Dieter Vogel, Provost Marshal of the Queen’s Men, is busy tightening his stranglehold on the country.

Just as he once fought for his Pious Men, he must now bend all his wit and hard-won wisdom to protect his queen – but now he can’t always tell if he’s on the right side.

Tomas has started to ask himself, what is the price of power? And more importantly, is it one he is willing to pay?

Peter McLean’s Priest of Gallows is due to be published in the UK by Jo Fletcher Books, on April 29th, 2021. (The first two novels in the series are published in North America by Ace Books, but I couldn’t find a listing for an Ace edition of Priest of Gallows, at the time of writing.)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE EMPIRE’S RUIN by Brian Staveley (Tor Books)

StaveleyB-AotUT1-EmpiresRuinUSHCBrian Staveley’s debut novel, The Emperor’s Blades, was one of the best fantasy debuts I’d read in a long while: an engaging new world, some great characters, and superb writing, I started the follow-up immediately after finishing the first (something I haven’t done very often, when it comes to fantasy series). This year, readers will finally get to read Staveley’s new novel, The Empire’s Ruin. The first in a new series, Ashes of the Unhewn Throne, it picks up the story after the end of The Last Mortal Bond. I’m really looking forward to reading this. Here’s the synopsis:

The Annurian Empire is disintegrating. The advantages it used for millennia have fallen to ruin. The ranks of the Kettral have been decimated from within, and the kenta gates, granting instantaneous travel across the vast lands of the empire, can no longer be used.

In order to save the empire, one of the surviving Kettral must voyage beyond the edge of the known world through a land that warps and poisons all living things to find the nesting ground of the giant war hawks. Meanwhile, a monk turned con-artist may hold the secret to the kenta gates.

But time is running out. Deep within the southern reaches of the empire and ancient god-like race has begun to stir.

What they discover will change them and the Annurian Empire forever. If they can survive.

Brian Staveley’s The Empire’s Ruin is due to be published by Tor Books in North America, on July 6th, 2021. (I couldn’t find any details about a UK edition, but the author’s Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne trilogy was published by Tor UK, so I assume it’ll be them again.)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE ABSOLUTE BOOK by Elizabeth Knox (Viking/Michael Joseph)

KnoxE-AbsoluteBookUSElizabeth Knox‘s The Absolute Book generated quite a bit of positive buzz when the publisher(s) sent out the advance review copies. It kept popping up in my Twitter feed, typically accompanied with a positive review or response. Now that we’re getting closer to its publication, I thought it was time to write a quick post about it. Pitched as a contemporary fantasy that is a “spellbinding mix of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, American Gods and His Dark Materials” (quite an interesting mix), here’s the synopsis:

Taryn Cornick believes that the past — her sister’s violent death, and her own ill-conceived revenge — is behind her, and she can get on with her life. She has written a successful book about the things that threaten libraries: insects, damp, light, fire, carelessness and uncaring… but not all of the attention it brings her is good.

KnoxE-AbsoluteBookUKA policeman, Jacob Berger, questions her about a cold case. Then there are questions about a fire in the library at her grandparents’ house and an ancient scroll box known as the Firestarter, as well as threatening phone calls and a mysterious illness. Finally a shadowy young man named Shift appears, forcing Taryn and Jacob toward a reckoning felt in more than one world.

The Absolute Book is epic, action-packed fantasy in which hidden treasures are recovered, wicked things resurface, birds can talk, and dead sisters are a living force. It is a book of journeys and returns, from contemporary England to Auckland, New Zealand; from a magical fairyland to Purgatory. Above all, it is a declaration of love for stories and the ways in which they shape our worlds and create gods out of mortals.

Elizabeth Knox’s The Absolute Book is due to be published by Viking Books in North America (February 9th) and Michael Joseph in the UK (March 18th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE BLACKTONGUE THIEF by Christopher Buehlman (Tor Books/Gollancz)

BuehlmanC-1-BlacktongueThiefUSI spotted this book in a catalogue a long time ago. The synopsis caught my eye, and I made a note of it. Recently(ish), the publisher unveiled the eye-catching cover, and my interest was further increased. Christopher Buehlman‘s first foray into fantasy, “Set in a world of goblin wars, stag-sized battle ravens, and assassins who kill with deadly tattoos”, here’s the synopsis for The Blacktongue Thief:

Kinch Na Shannack owes the Takers Guild a small fortune for his education as a thief, which includes (but is not limited to) lock-picking, knife-fighting, wall-scaling, fall-breaking, lie-weaving, trap-making, plus a few small magics. His debt has driven him to lie in wait by the old forest road, planning to rob the next traveler that crosses his path.

But today, Kinch Na Shannack has picked the wrong mark.

Galva is a knight, a survivor of the brutal goblin wars, and handmaiden of the goddess of death. She is searching for her queen, missing since a distant northern city fell to giants.

Unsuccessful in his robbery and lucky to escape with his life, Kinch now finds his fate entangled with Galva’s. Common enemies and uncommon dangers force thief and knight on an epic journey where goblins hunger for human flesh, krakens hunt in dark waters, and honor is a luxury few can afford.

The Blacktongue Thief is due to be published in North America by Tor Books (May 25th) and by Gollancz in the UK (May 27th)

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: SON OF THE STORM by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (Orbit)

OkungbowaSD-NR1-SonOfTheStormUSNext year, Orbit Books is due to publish Son of the Storm, the first novel in Suyi Davies Okungbowa‘s Nameless Republic trilogy. Pitched as “a sweeping tale of violent conquest and forbidden magic set in a world inspired by the pre-colonial empires of West Africa,” I’m really looking forward to reading this. (Also, that’s a great cover.) Here’s the full synopsis:

In the thriving city of Bassa, Danso is a clever but disillusioned scholar who longs for a life beyond the rigid family and political obligations expected of the city’s elite. A way out presents itself when Lilong, a skin-changing warrior, shows up wounded in his barn. She comes from the Nameless Islands — which, according to Bassa lore, don’t exist — and neither should the mythical magic of ibor she wields.

Now swept into a conspiracy far beyond his understanding, Danso and Lilong will set out on a journey that reveals histories violently suppressed and magic only found in lore.

*

Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s Son of the Storm is due to be published by Orbit Books on May 11th, 2021, in North America and in the UK. The author’s debut novel, David Mogo Godhunter is out now, and recommended.

Also on CR: Interview with Suyi Davies Okungbowa (2019)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley

Interview with RJ BARKER

barkerrj-authorpicWelcome back to CR! For newcomers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is RJ Barker?

Probably a bit of an oddball. I’m English, I live in Yorkshire, in Leeds, in an old house with lots of weird taxidermy, strange art, noisy music, my family and a very pretty but unpleasant cat. I also write books. But you probably knew that if you’re realising this here as it’s all about books. Or maybe you didn’t. If so, books are great, buy loads. You literally can never have enough

The second novel in your Tide Child series, Call of the Boneships, is due out on November 24th via Orbit. How would you introduce the series to a new reader? And what can fans of book one expect from the follow-up?

Right at the beginning I sort of described it as Hornblower vs. Godzilla. Which makes me laugh and is kind of true but like everything I do it’s about people and how they react to the world. It’s all set in a world that will be very unfamiliar to most people, full of strange creatures and a Matriarchal society that isn’t like ours and people that don’t think in quite the same way we do. But they still have relationships, and they still fear and they still fight for what they believe to be right. And there are massive sea dragons. Absolutely huge. Continue reading

Quick Review: FIREHEART TIGER by Aliette de Bodard (Tor.com)

deBodard-FireheartTigersmEmpire, love, betrayal, and duty…

Fire burns bright and has a long memory….

Quiet, thoughtful princess Thanh was sent away as a hostage to the powerful faraway country of Ephteria as a child. Now she’s returned to her mother’s imperial court, haunted not only by memories of her first romance, but by worrying magical echoes of a fire that devastated Ephteria’s royal palace.

Thanh’s new role as a diplomat places her once again in the path of her first love, the powerful and magnetic Eldris of Ephteria, who knows exactly what she wants: romance from Thanh and much more from Thanh’s home. Eldris won’t take no for an answer, on either front. But the fire that burned down one palace is tempting Thanh with the possibility of making her own dangerous decisions.

Can Thanh find the freedom to shape her country’s fate — and her own?

This latest novella by Aliette de Bodard is a moving, engaging tale of politics, love, divided loyalties, and betrayal. It has many of the hallmarks of a great de Bodard story, and I enjoyed it. Continue reading

Interview with TYLER WHITESIDES

WhitesidesT-KoG1-ThousandDeathsOfArdorBenn2020Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Tyler Whitesides?

Ah, I see we’re starting out with the hardest question… I would say I am a man of many hobbies and endless interests. When I’m not writing you might find me fly fishing, hiking, woodworking, cooking, acting, or playing Dungeons & Dragons (yes, I am the dungeon master).

I live in the mountains of northern Utah in the western United States with my two sons. My career as a writer has been mostly focused on books for younger readers. I have a series of five books called Janitors, and a duology called The Wishmakers. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE BIG SCORE by K.J. Parker (Subterranean Press)

ParkerKJ-BigScoreSaloninus returns, for possibly his most lucrative job yet…?

Welcome to the world of Saloninus, the most unlikely Renaissance Man you will ever encounter. A man of many and diverse talents, he is the hero and narrator of K.J. Parker’s witty, hugely entertaining novella, The Big Score.

Saloninus is a man with two distinct professions. In idle moments, he dashes off immortal masterpieces — philosophical treatises, musical compositions, dramas of Shakespearean range and depth — that never manage to turn a profit. His primary profession — that of thief, grifter and itinerant con man — is equally unprofitable, and he spends his life in constant flight from the encroaching forces of the law.

The story opens in the aftermath of Saloninus’s own funeral, an act of self-concealment he has staged many times before. Newly risen from the dead, he encounters an old flame — a sort of archetypal femme fatale — with whom he shares a colorful — and highly illegal — history. She has a plan in mind, one that involves both of Saloninus’s skill sets: criminality and literary genius. If successful, that plan will lead to the elusive “big score” that will set them free forever. Against his better judgment, and fully aware that failure and betrayal may await him, Saloninus agrees to participate. The result is this ingenious — and very funny — tale.

In K.J. Parker’s latest, he returns to the story of Saloninus. A gifted renaissance man, prone to falling on the wrong side of the law, he finds himself in a position to win the big one — one final con that could set him up for life, if only he can make it all the way through alive and not get cheated. Another fantastic, entertaining and brilliantly-written novella from the master of the form. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading