Quick Review: THE LOST AND THE DAMNED by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-HHSoT2-LostAndTheDamnedThe Siege of Terra begins in earnest…

The Solar War is over. The Siege of Terra has begun. As the Traitors unleash their deadliest weapons, the defenders of the Throneworld face nightmare and plague – but Terra must stand.

On the thirteenth day of Secundus, the bombardment of Terra began. With the solar defences overcome through the devastating strength of the Traitor armada and the power of the warp, Horus launches his assault on the Throneworld in earnest. After withstanding a ferocious barrage of ordnance, an immense ground war commences outside the Palace with every inch gained paid for in the lives of billions. The front lines are beyond horrific and the very air is reduced to poison and blood. Bodies are thrown into the meat grinder but the outer redoubts cannot possibly hold for long, even with the loyal primarchs to reinforce them. For Horus has his own generals to call upon. Between the plague weapons of Mortarion and the fury of Angron, the defenders face a losing battle.

The final stages of the Horus Heresy continue, in this engaging second novel in the Siege of Terra series. Haley packs a lot into this novel, as he moves the story forward, fills in some gaps, and sets the stage for the continuing siege. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

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

Interview with DAVID WRAGG

WraggD-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is David Wragg?

Hi! I’m a middle-aged white British man of impractical height, and the author of the Articles of Faith series, the first of which is The Black Hawks. When not writing, I work as a freelance software engineer, and at home I am generally surrounded by/buried beneath cats and small children (usually mine).

Your debut novel, The Black Hawks, will be published by Voyager. It looks like a lot of fun: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s the first in a two-part series, which I’m apparently not supposed to call a Bilogy. I’d summarise it briefly as: ‘a story about a young man with strongly held opinions about the world, and the intersection of said opinions with said world.’ More prosaically, it’s about a bunch of people just trying to make a living in the middle of a fantasy plot-line. Continue reading

Quick Review: CHANCES ARE… by Richard Russo (Knopf/Allen & Unwin)

RussoR-ChancesAreUSFriends for decades, three men reunite for a summer and a mystery from their past resurfaces…

One beautiful September day, three men convene on Martha’s Vineyard, friends ever since meeting in college circa the sixties. They couldn’t have been more different then, or even today — Lincoln’s a commercial real estate broker, Teddy a tiny-press publisher, and Mickey a musician beyond his rockin’ age. But each man holds his own secrets, in addition to the monumental mystery that none of them has ever stopped puzzling over since a Memorial Day weekend right here on the Vineyard in 1971: the disappearance of the woman each of them loved — Jacy Calloway. Now, more than forty years later, as this new weekend unfolds, three lives are displayed in their entirety while the distant past confounds the present like a relentless squall of surprise and discovery. Shot through with Russo’s trademark comedy and humanity, Chances Are… also introduces a new level of suspense and menace that will quicken the reader’s heartbeat throughout this absorbing saga of how friendship’s bonds are every bit as constricting and rewarding as those of family or any other community.

Chances Are… is the latest novel by one of my favourite authors. This time, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls (among many other great novels and short stories) adds an element of mystery into his fiction. It’s very well done, but his sharp observation and characterization remains at the core of this novel. I really enjoyed this. Continue reading

Annotated Excerpt: THE BONE SHIPS by RJ Barker (Orbit)

BarkerRJ-TC1-BoneShipsUSToday, we have the honour of sharing an annotated excerpt from RJ Barker‘s highly-anticipated novel, The Bone Ships! The novel is due to be published by Orbit Books this week in both the UK and North America. First, though, here’s the synopsis:

A brilliantly imagined saga of honour, glory, and warfare…

Two nations at war. A prize beyond compare.

For generations, the fleets of the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war.

Then the dragons disappeared. But the battle for supremacy on the high seas persisted.

When the first dragon in centuries is spotted in far-off waters, both sides see a chance to shift the balance of power in their favour. Because whoever catches it will win not only glory, but the war.

Now, I’ll turn it over to RJ…

Continue reading

Very Quick Review: SISTERS OF THE VAST BLACK by Lina Rather (Tor.com)

RatherL-SistersOfTheVastBlackAn intriguing sci-fi story of secrets and survival

The sisters of the Order of Saint Rita captain their living ship into the reaches of space…

Years ago, Old Earth sent forth sisters and brothers into the vast dark of the prodigal colonies armed only with crucifixes and iron faith. Now, the sisters of the Order of Saint Rita are on an interstellar mission of mercy aboard Our Lady of Impossible Constellations, a living, breathing ship which seems determined to develop a will of its own.

When the order receives a distress call from a newly-formed colony, the sisters discover that the bodies and souls in their care — and that of the galactic diaspora — are in danger. And not from void beyond, but from the nascent Central Governance and the Church itself.

This, for me, was a novella ultimately about secrets: the secrets we tell ourselves, and those we keep from others — especially those who are close to us. It is also set in an engaging, interesting version of the future. Continue reading

Very Quick Review: MADE THINGS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor.com)

Tchaikovsky-MadeThingsAn interesting new fantasy novella from one of the most versatile, talent (and consistent) authors writing today

Making friends has never been so important.

Welcome to Fountains Parish — a cesspit of trade and crime, where ambition curls up to die and desperation grows on its cobbled streets like mold on week-old bread.

Coppelia is a street thief, a trickster, a low-level con artist. But she has something other thieves don’t… tiny puppet-like companions: some made of wood, some of metal. They don’t entirely trust her, and she doesn’t entirely understand them, but their partnership mostly works.

After a surprising discovery shakes their world to the core, Coppelia and her friends must re-examine everything they thought they knew about their world, while attempting to save their city from a seemingly impossible new threat.

I’m always eager to read any new novella (or full-length novel) by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Long-time readers of CR will know how much I enjoy his work, and that I’ve enjoyed everything of his that I’ve read. Made Things is no exception: this is an engaging, imaginative story in a new fantasy setting. Continue reading