Featuring: Neal Asher, Paolo Bacigalupi, Marie Brennan, Genevieve Cogman, Brian Cox, William Gibson, Mira Grant, Kate Griffin, John Grisham, Nicholas Kaufmann, Jasper Kent, Stephen King, Ben Lerner, Peyton Marshall, Mark Charan Newton, Anne Rice, Justin Richards, Sebastian Rotella, Patrick Rothfuss, John Sandford & Michele Cook, Wilbur Smith, Edward St. Aubyn, Sam Sykes, Kazuaki Takano, Lynne Truss, John Twelve Hawks, Simon Unsworth, Debbie Viguie, SJ Watson
As an Officer of the Sun Chamber, Lucan Drakenfeld must uphold the two-hundred-year-old laws of the Vispasian Royal Union, whatever the cost.
While stationed in the ancient city of Venyn, a metropolis notorious for its lawless nature, Drakenfeld receives a series of mysterious letters, written in blood, that warn of an imminent assassination attempt on the life of the city’s young Prince Bassim.
Supported by his fiery colleague Leana, Drakenfeld’s investigation leads him down the city’s corridors of power. But nothing is as it seems. Who is behind the conspiracy that threatens the young prince, and will the duo be able to unearth the perpetrator before the prince’s time is up?
Long-time readers of the blog will know that I’m a big fan of Newton’s first series, Legends of the Red Sun. This 9,000~ word novella features the main character of the author’s new series, Lucan Drakenfeld, and is set before the first novel Drakenfeld. It’s a very good short story, and certainly served to whet my appetite for the full-length novels (which I’ve been inexplicable slow about getting around to). There’s a mystery, a rebel group, the possibility of an inside agent, some brutal killing, and the potential for a spot of regicide. Everything that makes a great fantasy crime story. We get to know the main two characters, too, who are two of the more interesting protagonists I’ve read in a while.
A great prequel, and a great way to quickly and cheaply try out Newton’s writing and his new series. Absolutely recommended.
I’ve been signed up to the Amazon Associates programme for what feels like forever, but this month was the first time I’ve earned enough to receive pay-back. So, as I always intended to do, that money will be going towards books that I will be reviewing here. Given the timing, some of this money will go towards buying eBooks of ARCs I’ve received and won’t be able to take with me to Canada. (Sad.) Much like the “Books Received” posts, therefore, I thought I’d share details on the books I bought (so far) with the Amazon credit…
Featuring: Megan Abbott, Edward Cox, Mark Charan Newton, Joanna Rakoff, Django Wexler
A young woman hired to keep the books at a down-at-heel nightclub is taken under the wing of the infamous Gloria Denton, a mob luminary who reigned during the Golden Era of Bugsy Siegel and Lucky Luciano. The moll to end all molls, Gloria is notoriously cunning and ruthless. She shows her eager young protégée the ropes, ushering her into a glittering whirl of late-night casinos, racetracks, betting parlours, inside heists and big, big money. Suddenly, the world is at her feet — as long as she doesn’t take any chances, like falling for the wrong guy.
It all falls to pieces with a few turns of the roulette wheel, as both mentor and protégée scramble to stay one step ahead of their bosses and each other.
In the tradition of hardboiled potboilers such as Double Indemnity and The Grifters and mob tales such as Goodfellas, Queenpin offers a feminine twist on a classic story of underworld seduction and greed, or tortured loyalty and inevitable betrayal.
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 100 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.
Because I read an early version, loved it, and can’t wait to read the final version. It’s also available as part of Gollancz’s 2014 Debuts eBook Promotion, so it’s only £1.99.
The monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years by laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, nations have flourished but corruption, deprivation and murder will always find a way to thrive…
Receiving news of his father’s death Sun Chamber Officer Lucan Drakenfeld is recalled home to the ancient city of Tryum and rapidly embroiled in a mystifying case. The King’s sister has been found brutally murdered – her beaten and bloody body discovered in a locked temple. With rumours of dark spirits and political assassination, Drakenfeld has his work cut out for him trying to separate superstition from certainty. His determination to find the killer quickly makes him a target as the underworld gangs of Tryum focus on this new threat to their power. Embarking on the biggest and most complex investigation of his career, Drakenfeld soon realises the evidence is leading him towards a motive that could ultimately bring darkness to the whole continent. The fate of the nations is in his hands.
I have no idea why I haven’t read this, yet. I loved Newton’s first series, The Legends of the Red Sun, after all. I think it arrived during one of my fantasy-fatigue moments, so got put back. Now I have no excuse.
At twenty-three, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J.D. Salinger. She spends her days in the plush, wood-panelled agency, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches, and at night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Brooklyn apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend.
Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities and struggling to trust her own artistic sense, Joanna is given the task of answering Salinger’s voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency’s decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger’s devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back…
I’m actually reading this at the moment, having started it last night. In fact, I should have it finished tonight, and reviewed by the end of the week. It’s a… strange read. I can’t stop reading it, and the prose is very breezy, but at the same time I can’t figure out if I like it or find it really irritating. Hopefully I’ll have figured this out by the time I review it. My Salinger Year is not what I was expecting – in some ways, this is very disappointing, while in others it has been better than expected.
Anyone can plot a coup or fire an assassin’s bullet. But in a world of muskets and magic, it takes considerably more to seize the throne.
The ailing King of the Vordan lies on his deathbed. When he dies, his daughter, Raesinia Orboan, will become the first Queen Regnant in centuries – and a ripe target for the ambitious men who seek to control her. The most dangerous of these is Duke Orlanko, Minister of Information and master of the secret police. Having meticulously silenced his adversaries through intimidation, imprisonment, and execution, Orlanko is the most feared man in the kingdom.
And he knows an arcane secret that puts Raesinia completely at his mercy.
Exposure would mean ruin, but Raesinia is determined to find a way to break herself – and her country – out of Orlanko’s iron grip. She finds unlikely allies in the returning war hero Janus bet Vhalnich, fresh from a brilliant campaign in the colony of Khandar, and his loyal deputies, Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Lieutenant Winter Ihernglass.
As Marcus and Winter struggle to find their places in the home they never thought they would see again, they help Janus and Raesinia set in motion events that could free Vordan from Orlanko’s influence – at the price of throwing the nation into chaos. But with the people suffering under the Duke’s tyranny, they intend to protect the kingdom with every power they can command, earthly or otherwise
Really enjoyed the first novel in the series, The Thousand Names, and also the short story The Penitent Damned. I am, therefore, very much looking forward to reading this. It’s out on July 3rd. The Shadow Campaign has already been garnering good reviews, so I’m rather excited about starting this ASAP. Maybe on Thursday, as soon as it’s delivered to my Kindle…
A final Books Received post for June, and it’s an absolute doozy. Four of these are among my Most Anticipated for 2013. Read on for some more info about these books…
The intrepid spies, pilots, and sharpshooters of Wraith Squadron are back in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which transpires just after the events of the Fate of the Jedi series!
Three decades have passed since Wraith Squadron carried out its last mission. Taking on the most dangerous and daring operations, the rogues and misfits of the elite X-Wing unit became legends of the Rebellion and the Second Galactic Civil War, before breaking up and going their separate ways. Now their singular skills are back in vital demand — for a tailor-made Wraith Squadron mission.
A powerful general in the Galactic Alliance Army, once renowned for his valor, is suspected of participating in the infamous Lecersen Conspiracy, which nearly toppled the Alliance back into the merciless hands of the Empire. With orders to expose and apprehend the traitor—and license to do so by any and all means—the Wraiths will become thieves, pirates, impostors, forgers… and targets, as they put their guts, their guns, and their riskiest game plan to the test against the most lethal of adversaries.
Ah, Star Wars. My all-time favourite franchise, probably. I’ve read pretty much every book/novella/short story set after Episode IV, and a handful set before (I’m not a fan of the prequel-trilogy fiction, really). That being said, for some reason I’ve not yet finished the latest nine-book story-arc, Fate of the Jedi. I only have the final book, Apocalypse, to read – it was one of the books I had to leave back in New York, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get it read. I’ll have a look in the local library, I suppose. I bring this up because Mercy Kill is set after Apocalypse (and before Crucible, which I already have as an eARC via NetGalley). Really have to get on with it. This may, actually, be the longest break since 2007 when I haven’t read a Star Wars novel… Weird.
After her parents’ bitter divorce, young Maisie Farange finds herself shuttled between her selfish mother and vain father, who value her only as a means for provoking each other. Maisie – solitary, observant, and wise beyond her years – is drawn into an increasingly entangled adult world of intrigue and sexual betrayal until she is finally compelled to choose her own future.
Published in 1897 as Henry James was experimenting with narrative technique and fascinated by the idea of the child’s-eye view, What Maisie Knew is a subtle yet devastating portrayal of an innocent adrift in a corrupt society.
Don’t know much about the novel, but I know a bit about the author. So, when this arrived in the mail, I was rather intrigued. It’s a slim volume, so I’m hoping to squeeze it into my reading schedule in the not-to-distant-future.
Jean-Marie Charles d’Aumout is many things. Orphan, soldier, diplomat, spy, lover. And chef.
This is his story.
We meet Jean-Marie d’Aumout as a penniless orphan eating beetles by the side of a road. His fate is changed after an unlikely encounter finds him patronage and he is sent to military academy. Despite his frugal roots, and thanks to it and courage in great measure, he grows up to become a diplomat and spy.
Rising through the ranks of eighteenth-century French society, he feasts with lords, ladies and eventually kings, at the Palace of Versailles itself.
Passionate love, political intrigue and international adventure abound in Jean-Marie’s life, but his drive stems from a single obsession: the pursuit of the perfect taste. Three-Snake Bouillabaisse, Pickled Wolf’s Heart and Flamingo Tongue are just some of the delicacies he devours on his journey toward the ultimate feast.
But beyond the palace walls, revolution is in the air and the country is clamouring with hunger of a different kind.
SFF fans will also know Jonathan Grimwood as Jon Courtenay Grimwood – author of superb science fiction and an excellent historical vampire trilogy (The Assassini). I managed to miss a lot of the press surrounding this novel (it’s not SFF, so it’s perhaps not surprising that it didn’t get much attention). Nevertheless, I really like the way Grimwood writes, so I’m looking forward to reading this.
Incidentally, it’s interesting that this has a food-related premise. I’ve been noticing a few of those popping up in submissions at work, and also seen mention online from a couple of other aspiring authors. Has there been something in the water…? Needless to say, I imagine Grimwood’s will be the best, and I’m eager to get to it.
The path to the throne is broken – only the broken may walk it.
To reach the throne requires that a man journey. Even a path paved with good intentions can lead to hell, and my intentions were never good.
The Hundred converge for Congression to politic upon the corpse of Empire, and while they talk the Dead King makes his move, and I make mine. The world is cracked, time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days, the future so bright that those who see it are the first to burn. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne whoever seeks to thwart me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.
This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don’t look to me to save you. Don’t think I will not spend you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don’t follow me.
Follow me, and I will break your heart.
Does this really need an explanation or introduction? The final part of Lawrence’s debut fantasy trilogy, there are a lot of expectations. I’ve been told Mark manages to pull it all off, so I have very high hopes indeed. Watch this space…
Also on CR: Interview with Mark Lawrence
“I am Lucan Drakenfeld, second son of Calludian, Officer of the Sun Chamber and peace keeper. Although sometimes it seems I am the only person who wishes to keep it …”
The monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years by laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, nations have flourished but corruption, deprivation and murder will always find a way to thrive.
Receiving news of his father’s death Sun Chamber Officer Lucan Drakenfeld is recalled home to the ancient city of Tryum and rapidly embroiled in a mystifying case. The King’s sister has been found brutally murdered – her beaten and bloody body discovered in a locked temple. With rumours of dark spirits and political assassination, Drakenfeld has his work cut out for him trying to separate superstition from certainty. His determination to find the killer quickly makes him a target as the underworld gangs of Tryum focus on this new threat to their power.
Embarking on the biggest and most complex investigation of his career, Drakenfeld soon realises the evidence is leading him towards a motive that could ultimately bring darkness to the whole continent. The fate of the nations is in his hands.
Long-time readers of CR will know that I am a big fan of Newton’s novels – the four Legends of the Red Sun books were superb. As a result, I’ve been eager to read Drakenfeld ever since Mark announced it on his website a few months ago (I forget the actual date). Really looking forward to reading this. Hopefully very soon.
When Chase sees the little girl in umbrella socks savaging the Rottweiler, he’s not too concerned. As someone who’s been smoking meth every day for as long as he can remember, he’s no stranger to such horrifying, drug-fueled hallucinations. But as he and his fellow junkies discover, the little girl is no illusion. The end of the world really has arrived. And with Chase’s life already destroyed beyond all hope of redemption, armageddon might actually be an opportunity — a last chance to hit restart and become the person he once dreamed of being. Soon Chase is fighting to reconnect with his lost love and dreaming of becoming her hero among the ruins. But is salvation just another pipe dream?
Propelled by a blistering first-person voice and featuring a powerfully compelling anti-hero, Fiend is at once a brilliant portrait of addiction, a pitch-black comedy, and the darkest, most twisted love story you’ve ever read — not to mention one hell of a zombie novel.
I have a guest post upcoming from Stenson, telling the story of how he came to write the novel. It’s a good piece, and I’m eager to share it with people. (It goes live on July 4th.) This sounds like a really interesting spin on the zombie apocalypse genre.
Enter an epic fantasy world that echoes with the thunder of muskets and the clang of steel—but where the real battle is against a subtle and sinister magic….
Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of one of the Vordanai empire’s colonial garrisons, was resigned to serving out his days in a sleepy, remote outpost. But that was before a rebellion upended his life. And once the powder smoke settled, he was left in charge of a demoralized force clinging tenuously to a small fortress at the edge of the desert.
To flee from her past, Winter Ihernglass masqueraded as a man and enlisted as a ranker in the Vordanai Colonials, hoping only to avoid notice. But when chance sees her promoted to command, she must win the hearts of her men and lead them into battle against impossible odds.
The fates of both these soldiers and all the men they lead depend on the newly arrived Colonel Janus bet Vhalnich, who has been sent by the ailing king to restore order. His military genius seems to know no bounds, and under his command, Marcus and Winter can feel the tide turning. But their allegiance will be tested as they begin to suspect that the enigmatic Janus’s ambitions extend beyond the battlefield and into the realm of the supernatural—a realm with the power to ignite a meteoric rise, reshape the known world, and change the lives of everyone in its path.
This is one of my most-anticipated debuts of 2013, and I’ve been itching to get to it. I’ll probably be reading this very soon (I have some time with minimal commutes coming up, so no fear of the HC getting beaten to hell in my bag).
Longtime readers of the blog will know that I am a big fan of Mark Charan Newton’s work. His debut series, Legends of the Red Sun, just got better and better with each new book, until the brilliant conclusion in The Broken Isles. Today, Mark unveiled the artwork for his next novel, Drakenfeld:
I think we can all agree that it’s very eye-catching. The novel is the first in a new series, and sounds pretty fantastic. Here’s the synopsis:
“I am Lucan Drakenfeld, second son of Calludian, Officer of the Sun Chamber and peace keeper. Although sometimes it seems I am the only person who wishes to keep it …”
The monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years with treaties and laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, a long harmony has existed, nations have flourished, and civil wars are a thing of the past. But corruption, deprivation and murder will always find a way to thrive…
Upon receiving news of his father’s death and recalled to his home city of Tryum, Drakenfeld is soon embroiled in a mystifying case. King Licintius’ sister, Lacanta, has been found brutally murdered during a night of festivities – her beaten and bloody body discovered in a locked temple. Despite hundreds of revellers, no one saw anything. With rumours of dark spirits and political assassination, Drakenfeld soon has his work cut out for him trying to separate superstition from certainty.
With his assistant, Leana, he embarks on the biggest and most complex investigation of his career, revisiting the ancient streets of his past, tracking down leads, interviewing suspects and making new enemies in his search for the truth.
His determination to find the killer soon makes him a target, as the underworld of Tryum focuses on this new threat to their power…
Drakenfeld will be published in the UK by Tor in October 2013. Which is also the month that Scott Lynch’s Republic of Thieves is being published. So, it’ll be one of the best months ever…