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.

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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)

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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…

Continue reading

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

Upcoming: A FOOL’S HOPE by Mike Shackle (Gollancz)

ShackleM-LW2-AFoolsHopeUKMike Shackle‘s We Are the Dead is one of the best fantasy debuts I’ve read in years. It was well-written, excellently told, and populated with interesting and engaging characters. On October 15th, Gollancz are due to publish the second novel in the author’s Last War series, A Fool’s Hope. Easily one of my most-anticipated novels of the year, here’s the synopsis:

War takes everything.

From Tinnstra, it took her family and thrust her into a conflict she wanted only to avoid. Now her queen’s sole protector, she must give all she has left to keep Zorique safe.

It has taken just as much from Jia’s revolutionaries. Dren and Jax — battered, tortured, once enemies themselves — now must hold strong against their bruised invaders, the Egril.

For the Egril intend to wipe Jia from the map. They may have lost a battle, but they are coming back.

If Tinnstra and her allies hope to survive, Jia’s heroes will need to be ready when they do.

The sequel to the darkly fantastic WE ARE THE DEAD: with more unflinching action, A FOOL’S HOPE sees Jia’s revolutionaries dig in their heels as they learn that wars aren’t won in a day.

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

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Upcoming: STORMBLOOD by Jeremy Szal (Gollancz)

SzalJ-StormbloodUKOne of the best things about every new year is the slew of debut authors whose books are going to be hitting shelves in the coming months.

Gollancz, of course, is one of the SFF publishers every fan of the genres watches and, in addition to Nick Martell’s debut (which I’ve mentioned before on CR), Stormblood by Jeremy Szal is high on my list of 2020 most anticipated of the year. The first in a new sci-fi series, The Common, 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.

Vakov may have walked away from Harmony, but they still know where to find him, and his former Reaper colleagues are being murdered by someone, or something — and Vakov is appalled to learn his estranged brother is involved. Suddenly it’s an investigation he can’t turn down… but the closer he comes to the truth, the more addicted to stormtech he becomes.

And it’s possible the war isn’t over, after all…

Really looking forward to this. Stormblood is due to be published by Gollancz in the UK, on June 4th, 2020 (not sure about a separate North American publisher, but I’ll keep checking).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE KINGDOM OF LIARS by Nick Martell (Gollancz/Saga Press)

MartellN-LotMK1-KingdomOfLiars

The Kingdom of Liars is the first novel in Nick Martell‘s new fantasy series, the Legacy of the Mercenary Kings. I’ve seen this novel getting some good pre-publication buzz on Twitter, and my interest is well and truly piqued. The North American cover (and an excerpt) were revealed on Barnes & Noble’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog last week. Here’s the synopsis:

Michael Kingman has been an outsider for as long as he remembers. The court which executed his father also exiled him and his family. They branded him a traitor, and the nobles who had been his friends turned their backs, prepared to let the legendary Kingman family die on Hollow’s city streets.

Only they survived.

And it should come as no surprise to Hollow Court, or the King, that they’ve been searching for the truth ever since.

History is written by the winners, truth buried beneath lies until it’s Forgotten. Justice seems impossible in a city where the price of magic is a memory. But Michael Kingman is determined to make everyone remember…

The Kingdom of Liars is due to be published in May 2020, by Gollancz in the UK and Saga Press in North America.

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Quick Review: NINTH HOUSE by Leigh Bardugo (Flatiron/Gollancz)

BardugoL-AS1-NinthHouseUSAn intriguing first novel, in an intricately realized setting

Alex Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. A dropout and the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved crime — the last thing she wants is to cause trouble. Not when Yale was supposed to be her fresh start. But a free ride to one of the world’s most prestigious universities was bound to come with a catch.

Alex has been tasked with monitoring the mysterious activities of Yale’s secret societies — societies that have yielded some of the most famous and influential people in the world. Now there’s a dead girl on campus and Alex seems to be the only person who won’t accept the neat answer the police and campus administration have come up with for her murder.

Because Alex knows the secret societies are far more sinister and extraordinary than anyone ever imagined.

They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living…

This novel received a lot of buzz in the lead up to publication. This often makes me a little nervous. Nevertheless, I thought the synopsis sounded really interesting — it looked like it might have The Magicians vibes about it (a series by Lev Grossman that I loved). After reading this, I think that impression was correct, although I would stress that this is very much its own thing. Ninth House was a fascinating urban fantasy/campus novel mash-up. I enjoyed this, and I’m now really looking forward to book two. Continue reading

Upcoming: WAR OF THE MAPS by Paul McAuley (Gollancz)

McAuleyP-WarOfTheMapsUKPaul McAuley‘s novels always sound fascinating. I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t read as much of his work as I would like (especially given how many of his books I own).  His most recent novel, Austral, is of particular interest and I hope to get to it very soon. In March 2020, Gollancz are due to publish his latest sci-fi adventure, War of the Maps. Check out the synopsis:

On a giant artificial world surrounding an artificial sun, one man – a lucidor, a keeper of the peace, a policeman – is on the hunt. His target was responsible for an atrocity, but is too valuable to the government to be truly punished. Instead he has been sent to the frontlines of the war, to use his unique talents on the enemy. So the lucidor has ignored orders, deserted from his job, left his home and thrown his life away, in order to finally claim justice.

Separated by massive seas, the various maps dotted on the surface of this world rarely contact each other. But something has begun to infiltrate the edges of the lucidor’s map, something that genetically alters animals and plants and turns them into killers. Only the lucidor knows the depths to which his quarry will sink in order to survive, only the lucidor can capture him. The way is long and dangerous. The lucidor’s government has set hunters after him. He has no friends, no resources, no plan.

But he does have a mission.

Really looking forward to reading this one. War of the Maps is due to be published by Gollancz on March 19th, 2020, in the UK.

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Quick Review: WE ARE THE DEAD by Mike Shackle (Gollancz)

ShackleM-LW1-WeAreTheDeadUKOne of the best fantasy debuts in years

The war is over. The enemy won.

Jia’s people learned the hard way that there are no second chances. The Egril, their ancient enemy, struck with magic so devastating that Jia’s armies were wiped out. Now terror reigns in the streets, and friend turns on friend just to live another day.

Somehow Tinnstra – a deserter, a failure, nothing but a coward – survived. She wants no more than to hide from the chaos.

But dragged into a desperate plot to retake Jia, surrounded by people willing to do anything to win the fight, this time Tinnstra will need to do more than hide.

If Jia is to get a second chance after all, this time she will need to be a hero.

It took me longer than I would have liked to get around to reading Mike Shackle’s debut, We Are the Dead. Long-time readers may know how I’ve struggled a bit with the fantasy genre of late. This novel, however, sounded really interesting, so I decided to dive in. And I wasn’t disappointed! This is a gripping, excellently-written (grimdark) fantasy novel. Continue reading