Upcoming: THE HOUSE OF BINDING THORNS by Aliette de Bodard

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Tor.com unveiled the US cover for Aliette de Bodard‘s next novel, today: The House of Binding Thorns, the sequel to The House of Shattered Wings. I think it’s a pretty striking cover. Here’s the synopsis:

The multi-award winning author of The House of Shattered Wings continues her Dominion of the Fallen saga as Paris endures the aftermath of a devastating arcane war…

As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, the Great Houses of Paris, ruled by fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital.

House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Philippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal — to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic may be more than he can bear.

In House Hawthorn, Madeleine the alchemist has had her addiction to angel essence savagely broken. Struggling to live on, she is forced on a perilous diplomatic mission to the underwater Dragon Kingdom — and finds herself in the midst of intrigues that have already caused one previous emissary to mysteriously disappear…

As the Houses seek a peace more devastating than war, those caught between new fears and old hatreds must find strength — or fall prey to a magic that seeks to bind all to its will.

The House of Shattered Wings is published in April 2017, in North America by Roc Books, and in the UK by Gollancz. The UK cover is below. I’m quite looking forward to it.

Also on CR: Guest Post & Excerpt The House of Shattered Wings; Review of The House of Shattered Wings

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Upcoming: SON OF THE MORNING by Mark Alder (Pegasus)

AlderM-SonOfTheMorningUSMark Alder‘s Son of the Morning was first published a couple of years ago in the UK by Gollancz, but I just spotted that it is finally coming to North America, too — it is due to be published by Pegasus Books in February 2016. The cover is to the right, and the synopsis is as follows:

In an epic novel that reimagines the Hundred Years War — in a world where angels and demons choose sides on the battlefield — England and France find themselves locked in a holy war, but which country has God’s favor?

England, 1337: Edward III is beset on all sides, plagued by debt and surrounded by doubters. He refuses to pay homage to the newly crowned Philip Valois of France and seeks to secure his French holdings, but he’s outmanned. Philip can put 50,000 men in the field, but he is having his own problems: he has summoned the angels themselves to fight for France, but the angels refuse to fight. Both kings send priests far and wide, seeking holy relics and heavenly beings to take up the cause of their country, but God remains stubbornly silent, refusing to grant favor to either side.

Meanwhile, among the poor and downtrodden, heretical whispers are taking hold: what if God — who has never been seen to do anything for them — is not the rightful leader of the heavens after all? And as Edward’s situation becomes increasingly desperate, even his counselors begin to believe that if God won’t listen, perhaps they can find a savior not from Heaven, but from Hell.

In a sweeping tale packed with courtiers and kings, knights and priests, and devils and angels, Mark Alder breathes fresh and imaginative life into the Hundred Years War in this unique historical epic.

The sequel for Son of the Morning appears to be Son of the Night, which Amazon UK has listed for a November 2016 release, although this is possibly subject to change. No cover art as yet.

Mark Alder is a pseudonym, and the author also writes as M.D. Lachlan, whose Wolfsangel series is also published in the UK by Gollancz. The cover for the UK market is below:

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Guest Post/Excerpt: HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS by Aliette de Bodard

deBodard-AuthorPicThe Great Houses war is a central part of the book, though by necessity it’s always seen in flashbacks, as it took place sixty years before the events of the novel. It’s left marks on everyone, and of course it has also devastated Paris and given rise to the city in the book, a dystopic place where people cling to the Great Houses as their only source of safety. This scene is one of the strongest reminiscences from Philippe, who actually fought in it.

It also contains what is possibly my favourite lines in the book: the “magicians turned into soldiers… our best men turned into corpses”, which was one of those gifts from the muse: it came straight into the first draft and hasn’t really moved since.

The war. Philippe thought of the clamor of explosions; of huddling in the doorways of ruined buildings, peering at the sky to judge the best moment to rush out; of his lieutenant in House colors, urging them to lay down their lives for the good of the city; of his squad mates buried in nameless graves, on the edge of Place de la République. Ai Linh, who had had a laughter like a donkey, and always shared her biscuits with everyone else; Hoang, who liked to gamble too much; Phuong, who told hair-raising stories in the barracks after all lights had been turned off. “I don’t know what the war was like, inside the Houses,” he said, and it was almost the truth. Continue reading

Upcoming: HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS by Aliette de Bodard

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Above is the stunning cover for Aliette de Bodard‘s upcoming new novel, House of Shattered Wings, which was recently unveiled by Roc Books. I love all the details in the art — especially the smouldering feathers. I was luckily able to have a read of an early three chapters from the novel, thanks to Aliette’s agent, and I absolutely loved what I read. I really can’t wait to read the completed book. The novel is due to be published by Roc Books (a division of Penguin) in the US on August 20th, 2015. Gollancz have the UK rights, and will publish on September 1st, 2015. Both will also publish the sequel (I assume in 2016).

Here’s the synopsis:

In the late Twentieth Century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins. The Great Magicians’ War left a trail of devastation in its wake. The Grand Magasins have been reduced to piles of debris, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. But those that survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over France’s once grand capital.

Once the most powerful and formidable, House Silverspires now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen angel; an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction; and a resentful young man wielding spells of unknown origin. They may be Silverspires’ salvation—or the architects of its last, irreversible fall. And if Silverspires falls, so may the city itself.

I’ll be sure to share the UK cover, when it finally becomes available.

Comics Round-Up – Constantine & Lucifer (DC, Vertigo)

Still haven’t been reviewing as many comics as I had been earlier in the year, but I recently started reading two very good series – one brand new and on-going (Constantine), one already completed (Lucifer). I enjoyed them both very much, so I thought I’d show them some brief love on the blog.

CONSTANTINE #1-4

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Writer: Jeff Lemire & Ray Fawkes | Artist: Renato Guedes (#1-3), Fabiano Neves (#4) | Colors: Marcelo Maiolo

Liar, cheater, manipulator… John Constantine is all of these, and yet he uses these skills and more to protect the world from the darkest corners of the DC Universe.

Spinning out of both Hellblazer (which spanned 300 issues, and was Vertigo’s longest-running series) and also Justice League Dark, this series gives John Constantine its entire attention. I’ve only dipped in to Hellblazer, and certainly haven’t read nearly enough to consider myself overly familiar with the character or conversant with his part, but I enjoyed what I had read. The dark focus on the occult and supernatural were like catnip to me, and they were also what made me try Justice League Dark (which I have been enjoying quite a bit, too).

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This series is written by Jeff Lemire, who also recently took over JL Dark. It’s a really good opening to the new series, I think, and we get a good introduction to Constantine’s character. It’s dark, deliciously so, and Constantine is his charming-anti-hero-self throughout. He’s not afraid of sacrificing others for the “greater good”, either – making him not a whole lot better than his antagonists. The end of #1 was particularly gruesome and startling, but these four issues are filled with visually and narratively stunning work. The main villains in this particular story (still incomplete at this stage) is the Cult of the Cold Flame, who have cropped up in JL Dark, too. I’ll certainly be reading more of this series. Recommended.

(Issue #5 is part of the Trinity War story-line, so I’ll be reviewing that as part of an Event review, in a few weeks’ time.)

*

Lucifer-Vol.01LUCIFER, Vol.1 – “Devil at the Gates”

Writer: Mike Carey | Artist: Scott Hampton (Sandman Presents…) & Chris Weston | Inks: James Hodgkins | Colors: Daniel Vozzo

From the pages of THE SANDMAN, Lucifer Morningstar, the former Lord of Hell, is unexpectedly called back into action when he receives a mission from Heaven. Given free reign to use any means necessary, Lucifer is promised a prize of his own choosing if he fulfills this holy request. But once he completes his mission, the Prince of Darkness’ demand shakes the foundation of Heaven and Hell. Now as his enemies unite to stop his reemergence, Lucifer gathers his forces as he prepares to launch his new revolution.

Collects: Sandman Presents Lucifer #1-3, Lucifer #1-4

This is an excellent, independently intelligible spin-off from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (of which I have only read the first book).

In the first of these two story-arcs, we join Lucifer at his Los Angeles club, Lux. I’m not really sure how to review this book. It’s excellent, certainly, and wonderfully dark. It reminded me of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim series (which is excellent and highly recommended). Lucifer is called up to help out Heaven one last time, in return for a particularly generous reward. The former Lord of Hell sets off on a very strange, dream-like journey. People’s wishes are coming true, and the consequences are starting to become devastating. Teaming up with a “victim” of this plague of wish-granting, Lucifer needs to get to the bottom of the mystery, before the world wishes itself into chaos.

In the second story, the first of Lucifer proper, we begin in Hamburg, where a set of mystical Tarot cards tries to influence the world around it. We get some neo-Nazis, hate crimes, and all of the seven deadly sins exaggerated and enhanced by the influence of the Tarot cards. Lucifer intervenes, in order to bring balance back to the world.

I really liked the alternative location – for once, we weren’t in the USA or UK, which I certainly welcomed. It’s still early days, but we start to see how the series will shape up in the future. I don’t want to spoil things (from either of the two stories), so this is perhaps a rather thin, unsatisfactory review. Nevertheless, I think this is an essential read for anyone with a taste for the darker sides of fiction and comics. Heaven and Hell are popular tropes in speculative fiction, but Lucifer Vol.1 offers a genuinely original spin, and is both written and visualised brilliantly.

I liked this so much, I bought volume two before I had even finished it. I’ll be starting that very soon indeed, so will hopefully have a review up in the next week or two. Deliciously dark, this is a must-read.

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Review: DEVIL SAID BANG by Richard Kadrey (Voyager)

Kadrey-4-DevilSaidBangUKHow do you rule the unruly? Sandman Slim in Hell! Again…

While ruling the denizens of darkness does have a few perks, James Stark isn’t exactly thrilled at the course his career (not to mention his soul) has taken. Breaking out of Hell once was a miraculous trick. But twice? If anyone can do it, it’s Sandman Slim. While he’s working out the details of his latest escape plan, Slim has to figure out how to run his new domain and hold off a host of trigger-happy killers mesmerized by that bulls-eye on his back. Everyone in Heaven, Hell, and in between wants to be the fastest gun in the universe, and the best way to prove it is to take down the new Lucifer, aka Sandman Slim aka James Stark.

Then again, LA isn’t quite the paradise it once was since he headed south. A serial killer ghost is running wild and his angelic alter-ago is hiding somewhere in the lost days of time with a secret cabal who can rewrite reality. And starting to care about people and life again is a real bitch for a stone-cold killer

Ah, Sandman Slim… One of the best Urban Fantasy series on the market reaches its fourth volume. If you’re looking for a gritty tale of Heaven, Hell, Nephilim, batshit crazy supernatural people and creatures, weird hoodoo, and weird shenanigans, there’s really no better series or author to turn to. This series is a must-read.

[Disclaimer: There are some minor spoilers for the previous books in the series, but I’ve tried to keep the review short and to-the-point.] Continue reading