Quick Review: KING OF ASSASSINS by RJ Barker (Orbit)

BarkerRJ-3-KingOfAssassinsThe brutal, engrossing, twisty finale to the Wounded Kingdom trilogy

Assassin Girton Club-Foot has lived in relative peace for many years, but now his king, Rufra ap Vthyr, eyes the vacant High-King’s throne and will take his court to the capital. In a viper’s nest of intrigue, the endgame of twenty years of politics and murder will be played out in the bid to become the King of all Kings.

Friends become enemies, enemies become friends, and the god of death stands closer than ever, casting his shadow over everyone Girton holds dear.

And so the Wounded Kingdom trilogy comes to a close… It’s been a fantastic journey, to follow these characters from their youth to the ultimately tragic end of King of Assassins. Easily one of my favourite recent fantasy series, this finale did not disappoint. Continue reading

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Guest Post: “Five Old British Ways of Predicting the Future” by Aliya Whiteley

WhiteleyA-ArrivalOfMissivesUSWe never know what’s going to happen in the future, but that’s never stopped us from guessing.

In my novel The Arrival of Missives, Shirley Fearna teenage girl, is infatuated with her teacher. He served as a soldier during World War I and now keeps himself apart from the locals of the small English village where he lives. As Shirley tries harder to become part of his life, she discovers he has a secret. He believes that he is being shown the future. His method of predicting events to come is too unusual to spoil here, so instead here are a few other traditional British methods of predicting the future: Continue reading

Interview with W.L. GOODWATER

GoodwaterWL-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is W.L. Goodwater?

I’m a writer, software engineer, fencing coach, husband, and dad. I live near the ocean in California and love watching the fog roll in through our eucalyptus trees. We share our lives with a crazy cute toddler, two cats, and piles of books that have long overgrown our bookshelves.

Your debut novel, Breach, will be published by Ace Books in November. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Breach is half Cold War spy thriller, half fantasy novel, set in divided Germany where the Berlin Wall is made out of magic. The story picks up as the CIA discovers a growing breach in the wall and sends for a magical researcher to help them stop WWIII. It is the first book in the Cold War Magic series and introduces our hero: Karen O’Neil, a young and talented magician working at the Office of Magical Research and Deployment, who has to navigate existential magical threats and the prejudice of her male coworkers. Continue reading

Quick Review: NEFERATA — MORTARCH OF BLOOD by David Annandale (Black Library)

AnnandaleD-Neferata1-MortarchOfBloodNeferata, queen of the vampires, shows her true colours…

When a threat to her realm of Nulahmia rises, the Mortarch Neferata must commit herself to a centuries-long battle if she is to save her kingdom and retain her position.

The Realm of Death convulses with the ravages of war, but Neferata continues to rule the city of Nulahmia with an iron will. Through guile and terror, she has destroyed all who would take her crown. But when a threat rises whose repercussions will stretch across the ages, Neferata must commit herself to a centuries-long battle and retain what is hers, no matter the cost.

This is the first full-length novel dedicated to the queen of vampires in the Age of Sigmar. Her origin story was first written about in Josh Reynolds’s novel, set before the history of the Old World, and also a bit in Mike Lee’s Nagash trilogy. Reynolds also wrote a short story featuring the character, Auction of Blood, which was an intriguing introduction to the character’s obsession with secrecy and scheming, always off-stage as others did her bidding. In Mortarch of Blood, Annandale gives us a much clearer picture of Neferata herself. She is presented as never before. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE DRAGON REPUBLIC by R.F. Kuang (Voyager)

KuangRF-2-DragonRepublicIn May 2019, Voyager are due to publish The Dragon Republic, the follow-up to R.F. Kuang‘s critically-acclaimed debut, The Poppy War. I read the first novel a while ago, but I’ve been struggling to write the review: I enjoyed the novel, and the characters were interesting. The clear borrowing from Chinese history was a little distracting, at times, for this reader (I’ve studied and written about East Asia for 20 years), but it was also well-done. The echoes and influence of the Rape of Nanking were harrowing and difficult to read. I’ll try to get something up on the site soon. If you’re interested in reading a fantasy novel that doesn’t pull any punches, does some interesting things with magic and world-building, though, then I think you’ll get a lot out of it. (It took a little while to get going, too, but it was always interesting.)

Anyway. I’m certainly looking forward to reading the sequel. I spotted the cover on Amazon UK yesterday. Here’s the synopsis:

In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.

But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance…

The Dragon Republic is due to be published by Voyager in North America and in the UK, in May 2019.

Also on CR: Interview with R.F. Kuang (2018)

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE HAUNTING OF TRAM CAR 015 by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com)

ClarkPD-HauntingOfTramCar015I first heard of P. Djèlí Clark when Tor.com published his novella The Black God’s Drum, which sounds like a fascinating fantasy set in an alt-history New Orleans (I haven’t managed to read it, yet, but it’s rapidly climbing my TBR pile). Recently, Tor.com announced The Haunting of Tram Car 015, a follow-up of sorts to his short story A Dead Djinn in Cairo (which I got recently). Due to be published on February 19th, 2019, I’m really looking forward to this. Here’s the synopsis:

Cairo, 1912: The case started as a simple one for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities — handling a possessed tram car.

Soon, however, Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef are exposed to a new side of Cairo stirring with suffragettes, secret societies, and sentient automatons in a race against time to protect the city from an encroaching danger that crosses the line between the magical and the mundane.

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 will be released on February 19th, 2019, in North America and in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: The ALICE PAYNE Series by Kate Heartfield (Tor.com)

HeartfieldK-AP1-AlicePayneArrivesKate Heartfield‘s first Alice Payne novella, Alice Payne Arrives was announced a little while ago by Tor.com, but today I saw that a sequel was also on the way: Alice Payne Rides! I haven’t managed to get hold of the first one, yet, but Heartfield will be in Toronto to launch the book on November 6th at Bakka Phoenix (a must-visit if you’re ever in Toronto). Anyway, here’s the synopsis for the first book, due to be published by Tor.com on November 6th, 2018.

The story of a time traveling thief turned reluctant hero in this science fiction adventure.

A disillusioned major, a highwaywoman, and a war raging across time.

It’s 1788 and Alice Payne is the notorious highway robber, the Holy Ghost. Aided by her trusty automaton, Laverna, the Holy Ghost is feared by all who own a heavy purse.

It’s 1889 and Major Prudence Zuniga is once again attempting to change history—to save history—but seventy attempts later she’s still no closer to her goal.

It’s 2016 and… well, the less said about 2016 the better!

But in 2020 the Farmers and the Guides are locked in battle; time is their battleground, and the world is their prize. Only something new can change the course of the war. Or someone new.

Little did they know, but they’ve all been waiting until Alice Payne arrives.

HeartfieldK-AP2-AlicePayneRidesAlice Payne Rides is due to be published by Tor.com on March 5th, 2019. Here’s the synopsis:

After abducting Arthur of Brittany from his own time in 1203, thereby creating the mystery that partly prompted the visit in the first place, Alice and her team discover that they have inadvertently brought the smallpox virus back to 1780 with them.

Searching for a future vaccine, Prudence finds that the various factions in the future time war intend to use the crisis to their own advantage.

Can the team prevent an international pandemic across time, and put history back on its tracks? At least until the next battle in the time war…

Both books will be available in the UK, too: Alice Payne Arrives and Alice Payne Rides.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter