Upcoming: THE SONG OF THE SYCAMORE by Edward Cox (Gollancz)

CoxE-SongOfTheSycamoreUKIn August, Gollancz is due to publish the latest novel from Edward CoxThe Song of the Sycamore is a stand-alone fantasy novel, and it sounds really interesting. The cover recently appeared on NetGalley (not sure if it’s the final version, though), so I decided that it was time to let readers of CR know. Here’s the synopsis to whet your appetite:

On the broken world of Urdezha, Wendal Finn died on the hostile plains of the wasteland, one more casualty in the endless war between the city-dwellers and the clansfolk. But now Wendal has returned to his home city of Old Castle, possessed by something he brought back from the wasteland, something old and best left forgotten. The spirits are calling it Sycamore, an ancient entity out to avenge all victims of murder. And in a city like Old Castle, no one is innocent.

With his mind trapped inside a dead body, Wendal can do nothing but watch as Sycamore turns him into a serial killer. Until the magicians take an interest in him. Preserving Wendal’s body and trapping Sycamore inside it, the magicians now have the perfect assassin at their disposal. Whenever they need an enemy removed, they can set the killer loose on Old Castle. Between these moments of horror, Wendal struggles to piece together the remnants of his former life. He wants to know why his wife died while he was fighting in the war, but no one will tell him, no one wants him to know. Left to his own devices, Wendal picks at the scabs that cover the dark secrets of the magicians and reveals a threat to every city on Urdezha.

The clans are massing. A supernatural storm is raging across the wasteland. It has already destroyed one city, and now it is heading for Old Castle. And the only one who might prevent oblivion is the murderous entity who the spirits are calling Sycamore.

Ed is also the author of the Relic Guild trilogy, also published by Gollancz. I’ve only read the first book in that series, but I really enjoyed it. If you’re looking for an atmospheric, inventive and well-written fantasy series, I’d recommend you check it out.

Also on CR: Interviews with Edward Cox — 2014 and 2015; Guest Post on “Writes & Wrongs”, Review of The Relic Guild

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Upcoming: SMOKE IN THE GLASS by Chris Humphreys (Gollancz)

HumphreysCC-SmokeInTheGlassUKIn a couple of months, Gollancz are due to publish Smoke in the Glass by Chris Humphreys, “a thrilling new dark fantasy series about immortality, war and survival.” It is the first novel in the Immortal’s Blood series, and the most recent fantasy novel from Humphreys, who has also written a number of historical novels as “C.C. Humphreys”. The cover was recently unveiled (it’s quite nice), and I think the book has an intriguing premise:

A world of immortals living among humans. Anyone may be immortal, but there is no way to know until you die. If you are one of the very lucky few, you will live an endless life of pleasure and power, considered to be a god. Only decapitation and the rapid separation of body and head for a few days can kill an immortal.

In the southlands, a common soldier dies and is reborn, and is inducted into the world of the immortals. But the Empire has become decadent, and what he discovers there will shock him.

In the dry lands of the west, one man has set himself up as the sun god. But there is a prophecy that he will be killed by his son – and so all of his male children are killed at birth. Until his most recent wife bears a child who is nether male nor female, and is determined to protect them from sacrifice.

In the cold north, the immortal Luck – clever, tricksy, clubfooted – harbours suspicions that many of the immortals have been killed. When he intervenes in an attack on one of his fellows, he realises something new. Someone is hunting the Gods.

For there is a fourth land. They know of the other three. And they are planning their attack.

Our three heroes – damaged soldier, protective mother, clever cripple – must find a way to unite their different lands, and defend against this new enemy.

I’m looking forward to reading this. Smoke in the Glass is due to be published by Gollancz in the UK, on May 16th, 2019.

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Interview with ELIZABETH BEAR

BearE-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Elizabeth Bear?

Elizabeth Bear is totally not Spartacus, or the Batman. Unequivocally.

I am, however, a third-generation science fiction reader, a pretty decent cook, and a Hugo-award-winning writer.

Your latest novel, Ancestral Night, is due to be published by Gollancz in March. It looks really cool: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Ancestral Night is the story of Haimey Dz, a hardscrabble salvage operator who uncovers evidence of a tremendous crime and a powerful ancient technology. In so doing, she becomes a target for all sorts of interested parties with uses for this information, or the desire to suppress it.

It is indeed part of a series — first in the series, in fact–but each of the books is meant to stand alone. I’m currently at work on the second book, Machine. Continue reading

Upcoming: WE ARE THE DEAD by Mike Shackle (Gollancz)

ShackleM-LW1-WeAreTheDeadUKI spotted this cover last night on AmazonWe Are The Dead, the debut novel by Mike Shackle! The novel was announced a little while ago, and I’ve been eagerly looking forward to it ever since.

Due to be published on June 13th by Gollancz in the UK, here’s the synopsis for the first book in the Last War Trilogy:

The war is over. The enemy’s won. Now it’s time to fight back.

For generations, the people of Jia — a land where magic has long since faded from the world, clinging on in only a few rare individuals — have been protected from the northern Egril hordes by their warrior caste, but their enemy has not been idle. They have rediscovered magic and use it to launch an overwhelming surprise attack. An invasion has begun.

And in moments, the war is over. Resistance is quashed. Kings and city leaders are barricaded in their homes awaiting banishment and execution, the warriors are massacred, and a helpless people submit to the brutality of Egril rule.

Jia’s heroes have failed it. They are all gone. And yet… there is still hope. Soon the fate of the kingdom will fall into the hands of a schoolboy terrorist, a crippled Shulka warrior and his wheelchair bound son, a single mother desperate enough to do anything she can to protect her baby… and Tinnstra, disgraced daughter of the Shulka’s greatest leader, who now lies dead by Egril hands.

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Upcoming: SHADOWS OF THE SHORT DAY by Alexander Dan Vilhjámsson (Gollancz)

VilhjalmssonAD-ShadowsOfTheShortDaysUKI first learned about this novel this morning, when I spotted some Tweets from various Gollancz peeps announcing that ARCs had come in. I’m not sure how I managed to miss it entirely before today, but it sounds fantastic. Alexander Dan Vilhjámsson‘s Shadows of the Short Day is set in “a strangely familiar alternate Reykjavik where wild and industrialised magic meet”, and is pitched as “perfect for fans of… Lev Grossman’s The Magicians or China Miéville’s The City & The City“. Colour me most definitely intrigued.

The novel is due to be published in July 2019 by Gollancz, in the UK. Here’s the synopsis:

On frost-covered streets beneath the northern lights, an outcast guerrilla artist and a rebellious, drug-addicted sorcerer will start a revolution.

Sæmundur the Mad, addict and sorcerer, has been expelled from the magical university, Svartiskóli, and can no longer study galdur, an esoteric source of magic. Obsessed with proving his peers wrong, he will stop at nothing to gain absolute power and knowledge, especially of that which is long forbidden.

Garún is an outcast: half-human, half-huldufólk, her very existence is a violation of dimensional boundaries, the ultimate taboo. A militant revolutionary and graffiti artist, recklessly dismissive of the status quo, she will do anything to achieve a just society, including spark a revolution. Even if she has to do it alone.

This is a tale of revolution set in a twisted version of Reykjavik fuelled by industrialised magic and populated by humans, interdimensional exiles, otherworldly creatures, psychoactive graffiti and demonic familiars.

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Interview with JUSTIN CALL

CallJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Justin Call?

Justin Call – creator, storyteller, teacher, and analyst.

Actually, I’m not an analyst, but I spend more time analyzing things in a typical day than most analysts probably do in a week. I can’t help it. I analyze people, places, stories, games, social situations, and anything else that strikes my fancy. As a professional, I also write books, design and publish board games, and teach English to kids in China. I’m also a stay-at-home dad, and juggling the aforementioned jobs while watching my kiddos can be difficult (but rewarding).

Your debut novel, Master of Sorrows, is due to be published by Gollancz in February 2019. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It is interesting. Master of Sorrows is the first book in a tetralogy called The Silent Gods. The premise of the series is best phrased in the form of a rhetorical question (which, incidentally, is how I usually pitch the book to folks): ‘What if the prophesied hero were actually the reincarnation of an evil god? Would he save the world… or destroy it?’ If readers think long enough about that question, they’ll discover a lot of interesting themes that keep reappearing in the series such as ‘the nature of evil’ and the concept of the ‘monstrous other.’ Continue reading

Upcoming: SEVEN BLADES IN BLACK by Sam Sykes (Orbit/Gollancz)

SykesS-SevenBladesInBlackUSI’m a big fan of Sam Sykes‘s work. I first stumbled across his debut, Tome of the Undergates in a bookstore in Durham, and flicked through the first few pages. It was funny, violent, and very well-written. (Also, the novel turned out to start with possibly the longest battle scene ever…) “Funny, violent and well-written” is a great way to describe all of his work — each of his novels so far has had a dark humour running through it that sets it apart from many of his contemporaries. (Black Halo, the second in his Aeons Gate trilogy, has one of my favourite sequences in any series — it involves a fight with an imaginary monkey, and a conversation with a companion about it later.) I’ve also been following him on Twitter for years (highly recommended, even if you’re not a fan of his books). Next year, in May, his new novel Seven Blades in Black is due to be published by Orbit (North America) and Gollancz (UK). It’s not clear if this is the start of a new series or a stand-alone, but it certainly sounds really interesting:

Among humans, none have power like mages. And among mages, none have will like Sal the Cacophony. Once revered, now vagrant, she walks a wasteland scarred by generations of magical warfare.

The Scar, a land torn between powerful empires, is where rogue mages go to disappear, disgraced soldiers go to die and Sal went with a blade, a gun and a list of names she intended to use both on.

But vengeance is a flame swift extinguished. Betrayed by those she trusted most, her magic torn from her and awaiting execution, Sal the Cacophony has one last tale to tell before they take her head.

All she has left is her name, her story and the weapon she used to carved both.

Vengeance is its own reward.

Seven Blades in Black is definitely among my most-anticipated novels of 2019. In addition to the Aeons Gate novels, you can also pick up the follow-up trilogy, Bring Down Heaven (also published by Orbit and Gollancz).

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