Annotated Excerpt: THE COLLARBOUND by Rebecca Zahabi (Gollancz)

ZahabiR-CollarboundUKHCIn The Collarbound, we get to discover a complex world, with khers and mages, fleshbinding and mindlink, lightborns and long-lost giants. I’ve picked this excerpt because it’s a good example of how worldbuilding can be woven into the plot without slowing it down.

This piece is from Tatters’ POV. For the moment, we know little about Tatters except that he is a mage, and that he has a voice called Lal speaking inside his head. We’ve met the head of guards, a kher, and we’ve learnt what khers look like: they’re humanoids with reddish skin, often tattooed, who have long horns that grow out of their foreheads and curve around their skulls, like a ram’s horns.

That’s where we’re at when Tatters and the head of guards meet. She brings him to the watchtower to check he’s on the Nest’s records (he’s trying to sneak into the castle that is the Nest without being invited), and she starts laboriously looking through the entries in chronological order.

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Upcoming: UNTIL THE LAST by Mike Shackle (Gollancz)

ShackleM-LW3-UntilTheLastUKHCWe Are the Dead by Mike Shackle is one of the best fantasy debuts I’ve ever read. Ever since reading it, I’ve been eagerly awaiting each new novel by the author. (Although, I have fallen somewhat behind, and have A Fool’s Hope still to read.) With Until the Last, the highly-anticipated conclusion to The Last War series, due out later this year, I think it’s well past time for me to get caught up and ready for the final book! To be published by Gollancz on July 21st, here’s the synopsis:

SEKINOWARI – THE LAST WAR – HAS ARRIVED.

The breakneck conclusion to the trilogy that started with We Are the Dead. To beat the ultimate evil, sometimes the price is more than you can pay…

The war with the Egril has changed Tinnstra forever. A coward no more, she’ll go to any length to defeat every last one of her enemies.

Zorique has grown into her powers. It’s time for her to lead her army into Jia and spearhead the fight for her homeland.

But at what cost? The Egril emperor Raaku – the Son of Kage himself – is waiting for them. And he intends to destroy Zorique, Tinnstra and all their allies.

They will need to put everything on the line if Jia hopes to see the dawn.

If you read only one fantasy series this year, make it this one. Can’t wait for July!

Mike Shackle’s Until the Last is due to be published by Gollancz on July 21st.

Also on CR: Interview with Mike Shackle (2019); Review of We Are the Dead

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: DAUGHTER OF REDWINTER by Ed McDonald (Tor/Gollancz)

McDonaldE-RC1-DaughterOfRedwinterUSHCNext summer, Ed McDonald returns with Daughter of Redwinter, the first in a new fantasy series. (With that title, though, one can’t help but think it would have been more apropos to publish it in a colder season?) The author’s debut trilogy, the Raven’s Mark, was an extremely well-received grimdark affair, and no doubt fans are looking forward to reading more from McDonald (although, this new series might be a shade less grimdark). Here’s the synopsis:

Those who see the dead soon join them.

Raine can see — and more importantly, speak — to the dead. It’s a wretched gift with a death sentence that has her doing many dubious things to save her skin. Seeking refuge with a deluded cult is her latest bad, survival-related decision. But her rare act of kindness — rescuing an injured woman in the snow — is even worse.

McDonaldE-RC1-DaughterOfRedwinterUKHCBecause the woman has escaped from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king and who will stop at nothing to retrieve what she’s stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation forces Raine to enter Redwinter. It becomes clear that her ability might save an entire nation.

Pity she might have to die for that to happen…

Daughter of Redwinter is due to be published by Tor Books in North America (June 28th) and Gollancz in the UK (June 30th).

Also on CR: Interview with Ed McDonald (2017); Annotated Excerpt from Ravencry

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Excerpt: THE HAND OF THE SUN KING by J.T. Greathouse (Gollancz/JABberwocky)

GreathouseJT-P&P1-HandOfTheSunKingToday, we have an excerpt from The Hand of the Sun KingJ. T. Greathouse‘s debut fantasy novel, and the first in the Pact & Pattern series. Pitched as perfect for fans of Robin Hobb, Brandon Sanderson and R. F. Kuang, it’s certainly caught my attention. Here’s the official synopsis for the novel:

My name is Wen Alder. My name is Foolish Cur.

All my life, I have been torn between two legacies: that of my father, whose roots trace back to the right hand of the Emperor. That of my mother’s family, who reject the oppressive Empire and embrace the resistance.

I can choose between them – between protecting my family, or protecting my people – or I can search out a better path… a magical path, filled with secrets, unbound by empire or resistance, which could shake my world to its very foundation.

But my search for freedom will entangle me in a war between the gods themselves…

And now, on with the excerpt…!

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Annotated Excerpt: A DESERT TORN ASUNDER by Bradley P. Beaulieu

BeaulieuBP-SotSS6-ADesertTornAsunderUKToday, we have an annotated excerpt from Bradley P. Beaulieu‘s A Desert Torn Asunder — the final book in the author’s Song of the Shattered Sands series. Before we get to that, though, here’s the official synopsis for the novel:

The final book in The Song of the Shattered Sands series closes the epic fantasy saga in a desert setting, filled with rich worldbuilding and pulse-pounding action.

The plans of the desert gods are coming to fruition. Meryam, the deposed queen of Qaimir, hopes to raise the buried elder god, Ashael, an event that would bring ruin to the desert.

Çeda and Emre sail for their ancestral home to bring the traitor, Hamid, to justice. To their horror, they discover that the desert tribes have united under Hamid’s banner. Their plan? A holy crusade to annihilate Sharakhai, a thing long sought by many in the tribes. In Sharakhai, meanwhile, the blood mage, Davud, examines the strange gateway between worlds, hoping to find a way to close it. And King Ihsan hunts for Meryam, but always finds himself two steps behind.

When Meryam raises Ashael, all know the end is near. Ashael means to journey to the land that was denied to him an age ago, no matter the cost to the desert. It now falls to Çeda and her unlikely assortment of allies to find a way to unite not only the desert tribes and the people of Sharakhai, but the city’s invaders as well. Even if they do, stopping Ashael will cost them dearly, perhaps more than all are willing to pay.

The series is published by Gollancz in the UK and DAW in North America. The other novels are Twelve Kings of Sharakai, With Blood Upon the Sand, A Veil of Spears, Beneath the Twisted Trees, and When Jackals Storm the Walls. (Beaulieu has also written a number of short stories that fit within the chronology of the series. You can find more details of those here.)

And now, on with the excerpt!

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Upcoming: THE WOOD BEE QUEEN by Edward Cox (Gollancz)

CoxE-WoodBeeQueenMany moons ago (well, late-2012), I was sent a manuscript to read and provide a critique for. I was living in New York at the time, interning at a news magazine, and I started reading on my commutes into Manhattan. On a number of times, I got so sucked into the book that I missed my stop. That novel was The Relic Guild by Edward Cox. Ed has since published three novels in the Relic Guild series and also The Song of the Sycamore. This year, he has another interesting-looking new novel coming out: The Wood Bee Queen. Check out the synopsis:

Somewhere in England, in a small town called Strange Ground by the Skea, Ebbie Wren is the last librarian and he’s about to lose his job. Estranged from his parents, unable to make connections with anyone except the old homeless lady who lives near the library, Ebbie isn’t quite sure what he’s supposed to do next. His only escape from reality is his deep interest in local folklore, but reality is far stranger than Ebbie can dream.

On the other side of the sky and the sea, the Queen of House Wood Bee has been murdered. Her sister has made the first move in a long game, one which will lead her to greatness, yet risk destruction for the entire Realm. She needs the two magical stones Foresight and Hindsight for her power to be complete, but no one knows where they are. Although the sword recently stolen by Bek Rana, small time thief and not very good at it, might hold a clue to their location… and to stopping the chaos. But all Bek wants is to sell the sword and buy herself a better life. She’s not interested in being a hero, and neither is Ebbie.

But someone is forcing their hand and playing for the heart of the Realm. Ebbie and Bek are destined to unite. They must find a way to stop the destruction of House Wood Bee, save the Realm, and just maybe save themselves in the process. All victories come at a price. The Oldungods are rising. And they are watching…

The Wood Bee Queen is due to be published by Gollancz in the UK, on June 10th, 2021.

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

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: BLINDSPACE by Jeremy Szal (Gollancz)

SzalJ-C2-BlindspaceLast year, Jeremy Szal‘s debut novel Stormblood made quite a splash when it was published. It is one of the novels that is rapidly climbing my never-ending TBR mountain, but now I have a target: get it read before Blindspace is published. Really looking forward to reading both of these novels. Here’s the synopsis:

Vakov Fukasawa used to be a Reaper: a bio-enhanced soldier fighting for the Harmony, against a brutal invading empire. He’s still fighting now, on a different battlefield: taking on stormtech. To make him a perfect soldier, Harmony injected him with the DNA of an extinct alien race, altering his body chemistry and leaving him permanently addicted to adrenaline and aggression. But although they meant to create soldiers, at the same time Harmony created a new drug market that has millions hopelessly addicted to their own body chemistry.

Now, Vakov may have walked away from Harmony, but they still know where to find him…

Jeremy Szal’s Blindspace is due to be published by Gollancz in the UK, on October 28th, 2021.

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

Excerpt: GALLOWGLASS by S.J. Morden (Gollancz)

MordenSJ-GallowglassUKToday, we have an excerpt from S. J. Morden‘s new novel Gallowglass, which Gollancz has provided as part of the blog tour marking the novel’s release. First, though, here’s the synopsis:

The year is 2069, and the earth is in flux. Whole nations are being wiped off the map by climate change. Desperate for new resources, the space race has exploded back into life.

Corporations seek ever greater profits off-world. They offer immense rewards to anyone who can claim space’s resources in their name. The bounty on a single asteroid rivals the GDP of entire countries, so every trick, legal or not, is used to win.

Jack, the scion of a shipping magnate, is desperate to escape earth and joins a team chasing down an asteroid. But the ship he’s on is full of desperate people – each one needing the riches claiming the asteroid will bring them, and they’re willing to do anything if it means getting there first.

Because in Space, there are no prizes for coming second. It’s all or nothing: riches beyond measure, or dying alone in the dark.

And now, on with the excerpt…

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Interview with JEREMY SZAL

SzalJ-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Jeremy Szal?

Jeremy Szal was born in 1995 and raised by wild dingoes. He spent his childhood exploring bookstores, beaches, and the limits of other people’s patience. He loves watching weird films, collecting boutique gins, exploring cities, and cold weather.

At least, that’s the impression I want people to have of me. I live in Sydney, Australia with my family and a hyperactive Jack Russell. I was homeschooled when I was a kid, up until the last few years of school, before heading off to university. I’m an outgoing person, but I’m also the sort of guy who’s perfectly content to stay home with a good book or engaging boxset.

Your debut novel, Stormblood, will be published by Gollancz in June. It looks really cool: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s the first book in a trilogy! It’s about the DNA of an extinct alien race that’s used as a drug, making soldiers permanently addicted to adrenaline and sending them off to war. Of course, everything that could go wrong inevitably did go wrong. The protagonist is one of these soliders, returned home from the war to find his squadmates being murdered, and his estranged brother is the prime suspect. Continue reading