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

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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.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

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

Upcoming: THE GOD GAME by Danny Tobey (St. Martin’s Press/Gollancz)

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In January, St. Martin’s Press and Gollancz are due to publish a new novel by Danny Tobey that has caught my attention: The God Game. Based on the synopsis (below), it looks like it should appeal to fans of novels like Ready Player One and You, as well as fans of techno-thrillers. Looking forward to this one.

You are invited!
Come inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!
It’s fun!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!

With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.

But then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?

And what of the game’s first promise: win, win big, lose, you die? Dying in a virtual world doesn’t really mean death in real life — does it?

As Charlie and his friends try to find a way out of the game, they realize they’ve been manipulated into a bigger web they can’t escape: an AI that learned its cruelty from watching us.

God is always watching, and He says when the game is done.

The God Game is due to be published by St. Martin’s Press in North America (January 7th) and Gollancz in the UK (January 9th).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Interview with MIKE SHACKLE

ShackleM-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Mike Shackle?

I’m a Brit who’s lived and worked all over the world but has settled in the wonderful city of Vancouver with my family. In my time, I’ve sold washing machines, cooked for the Queen, designed a few logos and made a lot of ads for some of the biggest brands in the world. But I’ve always been a dreamer and I’m happiest disappearing into made-up worlds, full of dark and interesting characters, whether that’s in my own writing or enjoying our people’s novels.

Your debut novel, We Are The Dead, is due to be published by Gollancz in August (one of my most-anticipated debuts of the year). How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

We Are the Dead is the first book in the Last War trilogy. As per the blurb, it’s a story full of crunching revolutionary action, twisted magic, and hard choices in dark times. It’s about what happens when the bad guy wins and there are no heroes left to come and save the day. It’s a tale about a coward, a teenage psychopath, a single mother and a crippled soldier forced to stand up and fight when it matters most. It’s grim and it’s dark but, at its heart, it’s a story about families and hope. Continue reading

Interview with ALEXANDER DAN VILHJÁLMSSON

VilhjalmssonAD-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson?

I am an Icelandic fantasy author, who currently lives in Reykjavík. I write in both Icelandic and English and translate my own work (by necessity).

Your next novel, Shadows of the Short Days, is due to be published by Gollancz in July. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

Shadows of the Short Days is set in a fantastical, alternate version of Iceland called Hrímland. The story follows two outcasts, Sæmundur and Garún. Garún is a revolutionary activist slash visual artist, who uses psychoactive, sorcerous graffiti to alter the world. She is fighting for a better society for herself and others who are oppressed by the colonial rules of Hrímland, the Kalmar Commonwealth. Sæmundur is a drug-addicted, outcast galdramaður, a magician who will do anything to reach full mastery and understanding of the extremely dangerous type of magic he practices. Both of them will sacrifice anything to reach their goals, pay any price. Continue reading