New Books (October-November)

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Featuring: Ben Aaronovitch, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Robert Jackson Bennett, Jonathan Carr, Ryan Chapman, James Charlesworth, P. Djèlí Clark, Michael Connelly, Lucy Foley, Gareth Hanrahan, Darius Hinks (x3), Glen Hirshberg, John Hornor Jacobs, Stephen King, Jenn Lyons, Patrick McGilligan, Seanan McGuire, Scotto Moore, Haruki Murakami, Sylvain Neuvel, James Patterson, Busy Philipps, James Rollins, Craig Russell, John Scalzi, Barry Strauss, Charles Stross, Michael J. Sullivan, Tracy Townsend, Paul Tremblay, Edward Wilson-Lee

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New Books (June-July)

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Featuring: Bradley Beaulieu, Darcey Bell, Morgan Grant Buchanan, Michael Chabon, Bill Clegg, Paul Cornell, Claudia Christian, Mason Cross, Allen Eskens, Alice Hoffman, Chris Holm, Bill James, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Antonio Garcia Martinez, Stephen Metcalfe, Liesa Mignogna, Sylvia Moreno-Garcia, Alexandra Oliva, Laurie Penny, Andy Remic, Michael J. Sullivan, Heather Skyler, Melinda Snodgrass, Gav Thorpe, Paul Vidich, Chuck Wendig, Kayla Rae Whitaker, Kai Ashanti Wilson, Tom Wolfe, Joakim Zander, Rob Ziegler

Above artwork: Roche Limit: Monadic #4 (crop), by Kyle Charles (Image Comics) Continue reading

Upcoming: AGE OF MYTH by Michael J. Sullivan (Del Rey)

SullivanMJ-LoFE1-AgeOfMythUSI thoroughly enjoyed Michael J. Sullivan‘s Riyria Chronicles novels. I’ve fallen a bit behind on his latest work, unfortunately. Nevertheless, I’m really looking forward to Age of Myth, which is the first in a new five-book fantasy series. Here’s the synopsis:

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between humans and those they thought were gods changes forever.

Now only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over. The time of rebellion has begun.

Age of Myth is due out on June 28th in the US, published by Del Rey. I’m not sure about any plans for UK publication.

Also on CR: Reviews of Theft of SwordsRise of Empire and Heir of Novron; Interview with Michael J. Sullivan (2011); Guest Posts on “On Gritty vs. Heroic Fantasy” and “History & Riyria”

Books Received (Three Weeks’ Worth! ’Twas Like Early Christmas…)

I was away for a couple of weeks, and when I returned home, I had a veritable jackpot in books waiting for me:

BooksReceived-20130814

In the spirit of full-disclosure (and just in case it takes a while for me to get around to reading and reviewing them), here’s what turned up, and a few preliminary, pre-reading thoughts…

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ArmstrongK-OmensUKKelley Armstrong, Omens (Sphere)

Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.

Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.

I’ve only read a couple of Armstrong’s novels – and, strangely, not the ones I always wanted to… I discovered her Women of the Otherworld series around the time I started receiving ARCs from publishers, which meant I could never really justify buying them for myself. Then the later books in the series started turning up, and my sister pinched them (she did buy the first ones, you see). I did, however, read Armstrong’s two non-supernatural thrillers, ?? and ??, which I enjoyed a great deal. This novel is the start of a new series, so I’m hoping to read it very soon (and prevent my sister from liberating it first…).

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CooperB-RS2-DiamondDeepBrenda Cooper, The Diamond Deep (Pyr)

What if a woman as strong and as complex as Eva Perón began her life as a robot repair assistant threatened by a powerful peacekeeping force that wants to take all she has from her?

The discovery ship, Creative Fire, is on its way home from a multi-generational journey. But home is nothing like the crew expected. They have been gone for generations, and the system they return to is home to technologies and riches beyond their wildest dreams. But they are immediately oppressed and relegated to the lowest status imaginable, barely able to interact with the technologies and people of the star station where they dock, the Diamond Deep.

Ruby Martin and her partner, Joel North, must find a way to learn what they need to know and to become more than they have ever been if they are to find a way to save their people.

I have sadly been unable to keep on top of all my reading from Pyr Books. I feel pretty bad about this, given how willing they are to send me review copies (not to mention how much I like their authors…). The previous book in this series, This Creative Fire, is one such missed book. I’ll do my best to catch up ASAP.

Also on CR: Interview with Brenda Cooper

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SW-Crucible(Denning)Troy Denning, Crucible (Century)

Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, and Luke Skywalker return in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which will challenge them in ways they never expected—and forever alter their understanding of life and the Force.

When Han and Leia Solo arrive at Lando Calrissian’s Outer Rim mining operation to help him thwart a hostile takeover, their aim is just to even up the odds and lay down the law. Then monstrous aliens arrive with a message, and mere threats escalate into violent sabotage with mass fatalities. When the dust settles, what began as corporate warfare becomes a battle with much higher stakes—and far deadlier consequences.

Now Han, Leia, and Luke team up once again in a quest to defeat a dangerous adversary bent on galaxy-wide domination. Only this time, the Empire is not the enemy. It is a pair of ruthless geniuses with a lethal ally and a lifelong vendetta against Han Solo. They will stop at nothing to control the lucrative Outer Rim mining trade—and ultimately the entire galactic economy. And when the murderous duo gets the drop on Han, he finds himself outgunned in the fight of his life. To save him, and the galaxy, Luke and Leia must brave a gauntlet of treachery, terrorism, and the untold power of an enigmatic artifact capable of bending space, time, and even the Force itself into an apocalyptic nightmare.

I’m rather behind on my Star Wars reading. I have to finish Fate of the Jedi, and then read Mercy Kill before I can get to this. Hopefully soon-ish. Interestingly, I was also able to find an early draft version of the cover. I think it’s rather good, so I decided to share it again here…

SW-Crucible(Denning)Draft

I may actually like this one better…

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Hodder-SecretOfAbduElYezdiUKMark Hodder, The Secret of Abdu el-Yezdi (Del Rey UK)

Burton & Swinburne return in a new series!

The Beast is coming. History will be remade.

Since the assassination of Queen Victoria in 1840, a cabal of prominent men-including King George V, HRH Prince Albert, Benjamin Disraeli, and Isambard Kingdom Brunel-has received guidance from the Afterlife. The spirit of a dead mystic, Abdu El Yezdi, has helped them to steer the empire into a period of unprecedented peace and creativity. But on the eve of a groundbreaking alliance with the newly formed Greater German Confederation, scientists, surgeons, and engineers are being abducted-including Brunel!

The government, in search of answers, turns to the Afterlife, only to find that Abdu El Yezdi is now refusing to speak with the living. Enter the newly-knighted Sir Richard Francis Burton, fresh from his discovery of the source of the Nile. Appointed the king’s agent, he must trace the missing luminaries and solve the mystery of Abdu El Yezdi’s silence. But the Beast has been summoned.

How can the famous explorer fulfill his mission when his friends and loved ones are being picked off, one by one, by what appears to be a supernatural entity-by, perhaps, Abdu El Yezdi himself?

I’ve never read any of Hodder’s series… I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe this will be the first? Anyone know if that’s not a good idea? Should I start from the very beginning, or can I just dive straight in?

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Karpyshyn-ChildrenOfFireUKDrew Karpyshyn, Children of Fire (Del Rey UK)

Long ago the gods chose a great hero to act as their agent in the mortal world and to stand against the demonic spawn of Chaos. The gods gifted their champion, Daemron, with three magical Talismans: a sword, a ring, and a crown. But the awesome power at his command corrupted Daemron, turning him from savior to destroyer. Filled with pride, he dared to challenge the gods themselves. Siding with the Chaos spawn, Daemron waged a titanic battle against the Immortals. In the end, Daemron was defeated, the Talismans were lost, and Chaos was sealed off behind the Legacy—a magical barrier the gods sacrificed themselves to create.

Now the Legacy is fading. On the other side, the banished Daemron stirs. And across the scattered corners of the land, four children are born of suffering and strife, each touched by one aspect of Daemron himself—wizard, warrior, prophet, king.

Bound by a connection deeper than blood, the Children of Fire will either restore the Legacy or bring it crashing down, freeing Daemron to wreak his vengeance upon the mortal world.

I’ve mentioned this on the blog before. I’m certainly interested in seeing what Karpyshyn has come up with. I enjoyed his Star Wars novels (at least, the Darth Bane books, which are the only ones of his that I’ve read). Hopefully get to this pretty soon.

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Polansky-SheWhoWaitsDaniel Polansky, She Who Waits (Hodder)

Low Town: the worst ghetto in the worst city in the Thirteen Lands.

Good only for depravity and death. And Warden, long ago a respected agent in the formidable Black House, is now the most depraved Low Town denizen of them all.

As a younger man, Warden carried out more than his fair share of terrible deeds, and never as many as when he worked for the Black House. But Warden’s growing older, and the vultures are circling. Low Town is changing, faster than even he can control, and Warden knows that if he doesn’t get out soon, he may never get out at all.

But Warden must finally reckon with his terrible past if he can ever hope to escape it. A hospital full of lunatics, a conspiracy against the corrupt new king and a ghetto full of thieves and murderers stand between him and his slim hope for the future. And behind them all waits the one person whose betrayal Warden never expected. The one person who left him, broken and bitter, to become the man he is today.

The one woman he ever loved.

She who waits behind all things.

Possibly my most-anticipated novel of the year. Ever since I read Straight Razor Cure/Low Town, and Tomorrow the Killing shortly thereafter, I have been impatient for this novel. Expect it to be read and reviewed very soon. If you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend that you do. It’s superb.

Also on CR: Interview with Daniel Polansky

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RansomC-OrphanUKChristopher Ransom, The Orphan (Sphere)

The truth is more terrifying than you can imagine. Darren and Beth Lynwood always dreamed of having a son, but when young amnesiac runaway Adam enters their lives, he brings with him a creeping darkness that threatens to engulf their family and everyone around them. When Adam’s memories claw their way to the surface, Darren finds himself haunted by thoughts of his own childhood – and of a boy very much like Adam who was done an unspeakable wrong. As buried secrets are unearthed, the Lynwood’s happy home becomes the hunting ground for a relentless evil and an obsession that will not die. There’s no point locking the door. There’s no use shutting out the night. Because the orphan is already inside. Dare you read to the end of The Orphan? Discover the chilling new novel from the author of The Birthing House and The People Next Door.

I’ve never read anything by Christopher Ransom. Sounds pretty cool, though…

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crowntower-2-5Michael J Sullivan, The Crown Tower (Orbit)

TWO MEN WHO HATE EACH OTHER. ONE IMPOSSIBLE MISSION. A LEGEND IN THE MAKING.

A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels the old wizard is after, and this prize can only be obtained by the combined talents of two remarkable men. Now if Arcadias can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed.

Loved the Riyria Revelations, Sullivan’s original six-part series set in this world. The Crown Tower (and The Rose and Thorn) takes place prior to that series, and introduces us to Hadrian and Royce as they meet for the first time.

Also on CR: Interview with Michael J. Sullivan, Guest Posts – Gritty vs. Heroic Fantasy and History & Riyria

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Tchaikovsky-9-WarMastersGateAdrian Tchaikovsky, War Master’s Gate (Tor)

Relentlessly advancing towards Collegium, the Empire is again seeking to break down its walls. The mighty imperial armies have learnt from their failures, and Empress Seda will brook no weakness in her soldiers. However, Stenwold Maker has earned his title, and the War Master has strategies to save his city. His aviators rule the skies – but the Wasp Kinden Empire has developed a terrifying new aerial weapon.

Yet the campaign may be decided far from marching armies and the noise of battle. In an ancient forest, where Mantis clans pursue their own civil war, the Empress Seda is seeking lost magic. Some dangerous shadow of old night is locked up among these trees and she is wants its power. Cheerwell Maker must stop her, at any cost, but will their rivalry awaken something far deadlier? Something that could make even their clash of nations pale into insignificance…

A series I have shamefully left un-caught-up… I plan to do a mega catch-up at some point in the near future. Perhaps one a month or something (I overdose easily). Hopefully in time so I am ready for the final book, when it’s published. Really enjoyed the first book in the series, Empire in Black & Gold.

Also on CR: Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky, Guest Post

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Lavie Tidhar, The Violent Century (Hodder)

They’d never meant to be heroes.

For seventy years they’d guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable at first, bound together by a shared fate. Until a night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a secret that tore them apart.

But there must always be an account… and the past has a habit of catching up to the present.

Recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism, a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms; of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields, to answer one last, impossible question:

What makes a hero?

It’s Lavie, dealing with Super-Heroes and 20th Century history. Of course I’m interested in reading this. I’ll be reading it very soon. I’ve also seen a mock-up of the cover art, which I think is really cool. Can’t wait to see the final version.

[Disclaimer: I work for Lavie’s agent. Which means this is also ‘work’ reading. It’s a hard life…]

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TowseyD-YourBrothersBloodDavid Towsey, Your Brother’s Blood (Jo Fletcher)

Thomas is thirty-two. He comes from the small town of Barkley. He has a wife there, Sarah, and a child, Mary; good solid names from the Good Book. And he is on his way home from the war, where he has been serving as a conscripted soldier.

Thomas is also dead – he is one of the Walkin’.

And Barkley does not suffer the wicked to live.

I’ve mentioned Your Brother’s Blood on the blog before (as well as hosted an excerpt), and it’s one of my most-anticipated of 2013. Hope to get to this ASAP. The novel is due to be published in the UK on September 26th 2013.

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Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Djinni (HarperCollins)

WeckerH-Golem&Djinni

If you were bewitched by The Night Circus…

If you were mesmerised by A Discovery of Witches…

If you were enthralled by Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell…

You will be enchanted by

THE GOLEM & THE DJINNI

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a djinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem & The Djinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Having read none of those comparisons, I really don’t know what to expect from this novel. But it was available through Amazon Vine, so I thought why not? I’m certainly interested in reading it, as I try to mix up the genres I’m reading and featuring on the blog. The title is slightly (pointlessly) different in the US: The Golem and the Jinni (also published by Harper).

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From the Library…

BooksReceived-20130817

A new additional component of the Books Received posts – I will now include mention of anything I’ve picked up in the local library. Because… well, why not?

 

Adobe Photoshop PDFRichard Kadrey, Kill City Blues (Voyager)

James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, has managed to get out of Hell, renounce his title as the new Lucifer, and settle back into life in LA. But he’s not out of trouble yet. Somewhere along the way he misplaced the Qomrama Om Ya, a weapon from the banished older gods who are also searching for their lost power.

The hunt leads Stark to an abandoned shopping mall-a multi-story copy of LA-infested with Lurkers and wretched bottom-feeding Sub Rosa families, squatters who have formed tight tribes to guard their tiny patches of this fake LA. Somewhere in the kill zone of the former mall is a dead man with the answers Stark needs. All Stark has to do is find the dead man, get back out alive, and outrun some angry old gods-and a few killers-on his tail.

I love this series. It’s dark, irreverent, funny, and has plenty of action and weird goings-on. This is book five, and each of the previous four was a strong addition to the series. Everyone should read it. Go on, what are you waiting for?

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AstroCity-Vol.1-LifeInTheBigCity-ArtAstro City, Vol.1 – “Life In The Big City” (DC Comics)

Welcome to Astro City, a shining city on a hill where super heroes patrol the skies. Each chapter in this collection is a standalone story, highlighting different aspects or characters in the Astro City world. The city’s leading super hero tries to be everywhere at once, and berates himself for every wasted second as he longs for just a moment of his own. A smalltime hood learns a hero’s secret identity, and tries to figure out how to profit from the knowledge. A beat reporter gets some advice from his editor on his first day on the job. A young woman tries to balance the demands of her family with her own hopes and desires. Despite the fantastic settings, the characters in these slice-of-life stories feel like real people, and that gives the stories real power.

This series has just been re-booted/-launched by DC, so I figured it was a good time to start at the very beginning, and see what it was like before investing in the new series (which I think has reached #3).

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BlackOrchid-CoverBlack Orchid (Vertigo)

Before introducing the modern version of The Sandman, Neil Gaiman wrote this dark tale that reinvented a strange DC Comics super hero in the Vertigo mold. Featuring spectacular art by Gaiman’s frequent collaborator, Dave McKean, BLACK ORCHID is now collected in a deluxe trade paperback

After being viciously murdered, Susan Linden is reborn fully grown as the Black Orchid, a hybrid of plant and human, destined to avenge her own death. Now, as this demigoddess attempts to reconcile human memory and botanical origins, she must untangle the webs of deception and secrets that led to her death. Beginning in the cold streets of a heartless metropolis and ending in the Amazon rainforest, this book takes the reader on a journey through secrets, suffering and self-rediscovery.

I’ve never read this, but I’ve heard a lot of great things. After reading my first volume of Sandman, too, I’m interested in reading a lot more of Gaiman’s comic-work. So when I saw this on the shelf, I picked it up right away – after all, where better to start than at the beginning?

Guest Post: “History & Riyria” by Michael J. Sullivan

Sullivan-RiyriaChronicles

Long-time readers of Civilian Reader will know that I’m a big fan of Michael Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations series (re-issued by Orbit Books in 2011-12). To celebrate the release of a prequel duology – The Crown Tower and The Rose and the Thorn – the author has penned this piece on the historical influences on his series, and the decisions he made on how to approach and incorporate these influences into his fantasy world and narrative.

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HISTORY & RIYRIA

A good deal of invented-world fantasy is based on history. While much of this may be due to writers imitating other authors who came before them, there is a very practical reason for this: familiarity. When creating a world you’d rather not do it from scratch. Even the best chefs have used frozen pie crusts or stock broth. It just saves so much time and effort and allows you to focus on the more important aspects – the story.

In fantasy you could rework everything. You could do away with leaders or councils and run anarchy. People might not need to eat or drink, but instead soak up sunlight to survive. Of course you might not have a sun either. Instead you might have geysers that emit vapors that must be absorbed. People in the new world might not believe in trade, everyone could subsist entirely on what they alone find or make, hence no economy. There might be no day and night cycle, no seasons, no linear time at all as we know it. There might be no sexes, or there might be five different ones and reproduction could require the coupling of at least three different participants. Anyone of these would be a lot for an author to explain through all of its inevitable ramifications, but all of them and all the others one would need to invent to establish a completely alien world entirely disassociated from our own would both consume massive investment of words and likely bore even the most patient reader to tears.

A good story with lousy worldbuilding is still a good story, and fantastic worldbuilding with a bad story is still a bad story.

As a result authors of invented-worlds like to use preconceived ideas already conveniently built in the minds of readers. Characters will use swords, bows, spears and shields, or flintlocks and powder kegs. No need to explain why or what they are. Day and night, summer and winter, years and hours, can all remain the same, because these basic building blocks aren’t worth altering unless that is the focus or theme of the story. Eighty percent common knowledge and twenty percent invented, and readers will have little problem jumping right in and enjoying this “alien” world you “created.”

History is also a great guide for such things as economic and political systems and also work as justification, guides, and proof of plausibility. When I was in art school a friend who was in the photography program scoffed at my efforts to painting still-life. “Why bother when you can just take a photo?” My response was that I wanted to be able to paint what couldn’t be seen, what he could never fit in his viewfinder. Before I could do that I had to master painting what was visible, so I could use that knowledge when I invented what wasn’t and still make it look just as believable. By utilizing the same rules of reflection, shadow, proportions and light, I lend credence to the incredible. This same idea applies just as assuredly to writing fiction.

When I first conceived of the Riyria Revelations, I did so while reading a college text book on Western Civilizations. I studied medieval and renaissance history, which threw off dozens of ideas that I jotted down. The missus dominicus – the agents of Charlemagne – became the basis for the sentinels in the world of Elan. Royce had some roots of his character grow out of a biography on Edward, the Black Prince of Wales. The Church of Novron and the monasteries of Maribor were inspired by the cradle-to-grave dominance of the Roman Catholic Church and the Benedictine and Franciscan orders. The Theorem Eldership came from the secret orders of knights such as the Knights Templar and the Illuminati. The lost empire of Novron was pulled from the Fall of Rome. The elves and dwarves were redefined from the Tolkien-esque tradition into something resembling the minorities of the Dark Ages. Dwarves who once long ago had their own homeland and kingdom were, in the time of Royce and Hadrian, universally disliked, distrusted, and forced into ghettos, but still sought for their uncanny skills. Jews faced similar problems in the post Roman era. In this way, the major themes of ancient life helped provide much of the framework, while the lesser known details provided inspiration for unique set pieces.

I didn’t stop there, however. I mixed and matched. Elan isn’t Earth, so I had no reason to limit myself unless I felt the need. For example, there are potatoes that historically came from the New World and were unknown in Medieval Europe. The same is true for tobacco. Sailing vessels were not at all like the great ships of the Age of Sail – the age of Nelson – but I liked the romance of a three mast ship plowing waves. I just excluded gunpowder and cannons. I loved the imagery and characterization that powdered wigs provided and so tossed those in, but kept armor and the joust from centuries earlier. I used modern military ranks because I wanted to avoid explanations of such basic concepts.

In total, I made specific and personal choices concerning what I would keep accurate and what I would change. There was no standard I followed beyond my personal taste of what I thought would make a wonderful reading experience. I wrote Revelations to be the sort of book I wanted to read, the sort of story I couldn’t find on any shelves. Equal parts realism, heroism, and simple prose so nothing stood between the reader and the story. I felt fantasy had begun taking itself too seriously and in its lofty goal of becoming a Genre Worthy of Respect, forgot the date that brought it to the dance. I felt too much of fantasy had left out the fun, the humor, the sheer blast of joy that comes from taking an arduous journey with someone you come to love and the sweaty fingers that turn the pages as they face the final showdown. This for me has always been the best of fantasy: not the worldbuilding, or the lessons in humanity, but the emotional blowout that for me, only fantasy – free of the baggage of the real world – can provide. This is what divided the books I carried with me, the ones I remembered fondly decades later, and those I forgot I ever read.

Regardless of whether fantasy is historically consistent, dark and cynical, or idyllic and heroic, all that matters is that the story and characters are good enough to make readers laugh, cry, and feel a terrible sense of loss after the last page is turned.

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Also on CR: Reviews of The Viscount and the Witch, Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, and Heir of Novron; Interview with Michael J. Sullivan, Guest Post on Gritty vs. Heroic Fantasy 

Sullivan-RiyriaRevelationsUS

Riyria Revelations US

Sullivan-RiyriaRevelationsUK

Riyria Revelations UK

Upcoming: “Riyria Chronicles” by Michael Sullivan (Orbit)

Later this year, Orbit are publishing two more novels set in Michael Sullivan’s Riyria fantasy world. The two books are set before Theft of Swords and the Riyria Revelations series, but do not have to be read first – they fill in some details that are alluded to in the first series (which also includes Rise of Empire and Heir of Novron).

Sullivan-RiyriaChronicles

First up is The Crown Tower, which chronicles Royce and Hadrian’s first job together:

Two men who hate each other. One impossible mission. A Legend in the making.

A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels the old wizard is after, and this prize can only be obtained by the combined talents of two remarkable men. Now if Arcadias can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed.

And secondly, The Rose and the Thorn, in which we see the soon-to-be-legendary “Riyria” starting to take shape:

Two thieves want answers. Riyria is born.

For more than a year Royce Melborn has tried to forget Gwen DeLancy, the woman who saved him and his partner Hadrian Blackwater from certain death. Unable to get her out of his mind, the two thieves return to Medford but receive a very different reception – Gwen refuses to see them. The victim of abuse by a powerful noble, she suspects that Royce will ignore any danger in his desire for revenge. By turning the thieves away, Gwen hopes to once more protect them. What she doesn’t realize is what the two are capable of – but she’s about to find out.

The Crown Tower will be published in August 2013, with The Rose and the Thorn following in September 2013. I’m really looking forward to these.

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Riyria Revelations: The Viscount and the Witch, Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, Heir of Novron

Also on CR: Interview with Michael Sullivan, Guest Post (Heroic vs. Gritty Fantasy)