Review: WHEN THE HEAVENS FALL by Marc Turner (Tor/Titan)

TurnerM-1-WherTheHeavensFallsUSThe Chronicles of the Exile begin

If you pick a fight with Shroud, Lord of the Dead, you had better ensure your victory, else death will mark only the beginning of your suffering.

A book giving its wielder power over the dead has been stolen from a fellowship of mages that has kept the powerful relic dormant for centuries. The thief, a crafty, power-hungry necromancer, intends to use the Book of Lost Souls to resurrect an ancient race and challenge Shroud for dominion of the underworld. Shroud counters by sending his most formidable servants to seize the artifact at all cost.

However, the god is not the only one interested in the Book, and a host of other forces converge, drawn by the powerful magic that has been unleashed. Among them is a reluctant Guardian who is commissioned by the Emperor to find the stolen Book, a troubled prince who battles enemies both personal and political, and a young girl of great power, whose past uniquely prepares her for an encounter with Shroud. The greatest threat to each of their quests lies not in the horror of an undead army but in the risk of betrayal from those closest to them. Each of their decisions comes at a personal cost and will not only affect them, but also determine the fate of their entire empire. 

This is a very interesting debut fantasy novel. Turner has taken many familiar and popular fantasy elements and made them his own: lots of magic, warring nations, a handful of questing fellowships, and an item of incredible power. What sets When the Heavens Fall apart, though, is that the power in this world lies in death magic. As a result, it’s a pretty dark, gothic tale and world. It is also an extremely strong debut. Continue reading

Upcoming: “The Relic Guild” by Edward Cox (Gollancz)

CoxE-RG1-RelicGuild2014I’ve been lucky enough to read a (very) early draft of this, about a year and a half ago, before it was submitted to publishers for consideration. I can’t wait to see the final version. This cover, unveiled earlier this week, is awesome. The Relic Guild is, in my opinion, a must-read of 2014.

Here’s the synopsis:

Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us.

It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls a hundred feet high.

Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh.

The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth – and the lives of one million humans – Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.

Be sure to check out Edward Cox’s Tumblr and Twitter for more on his writing and exuberant personality (directly inverse to just how awesomely dark, atmospheric and Peake-ian his novel is). The Relic Guild is due to be published by Gollancz, on September 18th, 2014. It is also part of the publisher’s £1.99 Debut eBook promotion – which means there is no excuse for you to not check out this great new author. (At the time of writing, there weren’t yet any retail links to pre-order the novel, but I’ll be sure to share it ASAP.)