Upcoming: THE GUTTER PRAYER by Gareth Hanrahan (Orbit)

HanrahanG-BIL1-GutterPrayerI stumbled across the synopsis for Gareth Hanrahan‘s upcoming novel on, I think, Amazon a week or so ago, and thought it sounded really interesting. Yesterday, Orbit unveiled the fantastic cover by the ever-excellent Richard Anderson. The first novel in the Black Iron Legacy series, here’s the synopsis for The Gutter Prayer:

A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.

The ancient city of Guerdon has always been. The city must finally end.

When three thieves – an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man – are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born.

Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know.

Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city’s underworld.

Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh.

Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon.

The Gutter Prayer is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, in January 2019.

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Upcoming: THE BIRD KING by G. Willow Wilson (Grove)

WilsonGW-BirdKingUSG. Willow Wilson is the author of the critically-acclaimed, award-winning Alif the Unseen (an NPR and Washington Post Best Book of the Year) and the critically-acclaimed Ms. Marvel comic series. I’ve long been a fan of her work, and her next novel has really caught my attention. The Bird King is described as “a fantastical journey set at the height of the Spanish Inquisition” and “a jubilant story of love versus power, religion versus faith, and freedom versus safety”, here’s the official synopsis:

Set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian peninsula, The Bird King is the story of Fatima, the only remaining Circassian concubine to the sultan, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret — he can make maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality with his pen and paper. His magical gift has proven useful to the sultan’s armies in wartime and entertained a bored Fatima who has never stepped foot outside the palace walls.

When a party representing the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrives to negotiate the terms of the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, little realizing that her new friend Luz represents the Inquisition, and will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery, and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With everything on the line, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan, and taste the freedom she has never known?

Fatima and Hassan traverse Iberia to the port, helped along the way by a jinn who has taken a liking to them — Vikram the Vampire, who readers may remember from Alif the Unseen. Pursued all the while by Luz, who somehow always seems to know where they will end up, they narrowly escape from her generals by commandeering a ship, and accidentally also the snoozing Breton monk belowdecks. Though they are unsure whether to trust him, because he is a member of the very same faith they are running from, they nevertheless set about learning from him how to crew a ship. And as it becomes clearer both that there is no place on the mainland that they will be safe, and that the three of them are destined to stay together, they set out to do something they never thought possible — to find the mysterious, possibly mythic island of The Bird King, whose shifting boundaries will hopefully keep them safe.

An epic adventure to find safety in a mythical realm, The Bird King challenges us to consider what true love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

The Bird King is due to be published by Grove on March 12th, 2019.

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Quick Review: IN OTHER LANDS by Sarah Rees Brennan (Big Mouth House)

BrennanSR-InOtherLandsAn often amusing and sometimes moving subversion of entrenched fantasy tropes

Elliot doesn’t want to fight, keeps saying the wrong thing, and is definitely the grouchiest human in fantasyland.

Sometimes it’s not the kid you expect who falls through to magicland, sometimes it’s… Elliott. He’s grumpy, nerdy, and appalled by both the dearth of technology and the levels of fitness involved in swinging swords around. He’s a little enchanted by the elves and mermaids. Despite his aversion to war, work, and most people (human or otherwise) he finds that two unlikely ideas, friendship and world peace, may actually be possible.

I picked this up for my partner when it was released last summer, and she devoured it (and has since read it multiple times). This past week, we started listening to the audiobook on a drive back to the city, and I really liked what I heard: it was funny, a little gonzo, and I enjoyed the way Brennan played with classic genre tropes (and all that in just the first two hours). When we got home, I immediately started reading the book. It’s been a long time since a novel made me laugh out loud, let alone do so multiple times or consistently. In Other Lands did just that. It is not, however, just a funny book: Brennan has also written a story that often packs an emotional wallop. Continue reading

Guest Post & Excerpt: CHILDREN OF ARTIFICE by Danie Ware

WareD-ArtificePROTEUS: THE MAN WITH NO FACE

Getting a character right can be tough. The concept is great — you know what you want them to do, feel, say — but somehow, you’re still struggling. And then, one day, the lights come suddenly on…

The “Man With No Face” has fascinated me for years. The actor, with no history or personality or name of their own, who can just assume any role necessary. And not just about the physical form (a la Mystique), but about assuming/creating the mental processes and emotions — becoming someone else completely. To me, it ties in with the “Gray Man” theory of urban espionage/survival; they’re the infiltrator who can hide in plain sight, so you’d never know they were there.

It’s a great concept — and it comes with so many questions. Where did they come from? How did they end up that way? Would they have a default setting? How would they train? And what about their emotional growth — they must be able to feel and understand the full range of human emotions, but also be able change them or switch them off when necessary. So how does that work? Continue reading

Newt Scamander confronts THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD…

A new trailer for the next movie in the Fantastic Beasts series was released during San Diego Comic Con. It is a tantalizing look at what the next movie has to offer. Check it out:

The movie stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, Jude Law as Dumbledore, and many others. Some returning faces from Fantastic Beasts appear in the trailer, which is also nice. The Crimes of Grindelwald is due to arrive in theatres in November.

Upcoming: THE RUIN OF KINGS by Jenn Lyons (Tor)

LyonsJ-1-RuinOfKingsUSJenn Lyon‘s debut novel, The Ruin of Kings has been getting a little bit of pre-publication buzz (mainly surrounding the cover reveal). Looks like it could be quite interesting:

There are the old stories. And then there’s what actually happens.

Kihrin is a bastard orphan who grew upon storybook tales of long-lost princes and grand quests. When he is claimed against his will as the long-lost son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds that being a long-lost prince isn’t what the storybooks promised.

Far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family’s power plays and ambitions. He also discovers that the storybooks have lied about a lot of other things things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love, and how the hero always wins.

Then again, maybe he’s not the hero, for Kihrin isn’t destined to save the empire.

He’s destined to destroy it…

Quite looking forward to giving this a try. The Ruin of Kings, the first in the Godslayer Cycle series, is due to be published by Tor Books in the US and UK, on February 5th, 2019.

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Guest Post: An Annotated Chapter of RAVENCRY by Ed McDonald (Gollancz/Ace)

McDonaldE-AuthorPicWhen I was asked to provide a first chapter critique of my own book, I thought that this was an excellent way to explain the way that my own writing craft works, and to point out the level of complexity that comes into play through many rounds of editing.

I think that I have to stress that the first chapter did not look like this at the end of the first draft. So many of the details, the events, even the character of Levan Ost, all changed multiple times during the editing process. These were the details and events that remained when the dust settled.

Throughout this text I’ve interrupted the narrative to point out why I made particular decisions. Everything in this chapter is a conscious choice, and hopefully I’ve been able to explain why I made some of them. Writing is a deeply personal and individual craft and no two people’s are the same. These were the right choices for me.

It should be noted that although there are no direct spoilers in my commentary, if you’ve not read RAVENCRY yet, then I will be pointing out particular details that are specifically of interest later in the book.

Continue reading