Quick Review: KING OF ASSASSINS by RJ Barker (Orbit)

BarkerRJ-3-KingOfAssassinsThe brutal, engrossing, twisty finale to the Wounded Kingdom trilogy

Assassin Girton Club-Foot has lived in relative peace for many years, but now his king, Rufra ap Vthyr, eyes the vacant High-King’s throne and will take his court to the capital. In a viper’s nest of intrigue, the endgame of twenty years of politics and murder will be played out in the bid to become the King of all Kings.

Friends become enemies, enemies become friends, and the god of death stands closer than ever, casting his shadow over everyone Girton holds dear.

And so the Wounded Kingdom trilogy comes to a close… It’s been a fantastic journey, to follow these characters from their youth to the ultimately tragic end of King of Assassins. Easily one of my favourite recent fantasy series, this finale did not disappoint. Continue reading

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Upcoming: CAGE OF SOULS, WALKING TO ALDEBARAN and CHILDREN OF RUIN by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Head of Zeus, Solaris & Tor/Orbit)

Tchaikovsky-CageOfSoulsUKNext year, Adrian Tchaikovsky has (at least) two new novels on the way! First up, Cage of Souls, which is due to be published by Head of Zeus in April:

Humanity clings to life on a dying Earth. Epic, far-future SF from an award-winning author.

The Sun is bloated, diseased, dying perhaps. Beneath its baneful light, Shadrapur, last of all cities, harbours fewer than 100,000 human souls. Built on the ruins of countless civilizations, Shadrapur is a museum, a midden, an asylum, a prison on a world that is ever more alien to humanity.

Bearing witness to the desperate struggle for existence between life old and new is Stefan Advani: rebel, outlaw, prisoner, survivor. This is his testament, an account of the journey that took him into the blazing desolation of the western deserts; that transported him east down the river and imprisoned him in the verdant hell of the jungle’s darkest heart; that led him deep into the labyrinths and caverns of the underworld. He will meet with monsters, madmen and mutants.The question is, which one of them will inherit this Earth?

Tchaikovsky-WalkingToAldebaranUKIn May, we will get to read a new short novel that I hadn’t heard about before: Walking to Aldebaran. This one is due to be published by Solaris. Here’s the synopsis:

Chilling story of a lost astronaut on an alien artefact, struggling to find his way home even as the world around him transforms his body and mind.

My name is Gary Rendell. I’m an astronaut. When they asked me as a kid what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “astronaut, please!” I dreamed astronaut, I worked astronaut, I studied astronaut.

I got lucky; when a probe sent out to explore the Oort Cloud found a strange alien rock and an international team of scientists was put together to go and look at it, I made the draw.

I got even luckier. When disaster hit and our team was split up, scattered through the endless cold tunnels, I somehow survived.

Now I’m lost, and alone, and scared, and there’s something horrible in here.

​Lucky me.

Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Tchaikovsky-C2-ChildrenOfRuinUKAnd last, but by no means least (I only spotted this cover while writing this post), we have Children of Ruin, the highly-anticipated follow-up to the superb, Arthur C. Clarke Award-Winning Children of Time. Due to be published by Tor Books (UK) and Orbit (US), also in May. Here’s the synopsis:

IT HAS BEEN WAITING THOUGH THE AGES

NOW IT’S TIME…

Thousands of years ago, Earth’s terraforming program took to the stars. On the world they called Nod, scientists discovered alien life – but it was their mission to overwrite it with the memory of Earth. Then humanity’s great empire fell, and the program’s decisions were lost to time.

Aeons later, humanity and its new spider allies detected fragmentary radio signals between the stars. They dispatched an exploration vessel, hoping to find cousins from old Earth.

But those ancient terraformers woke something on Nod better left undisturbed.

And it’s been waiting for them.

It looks like 2019 is going to be a great year for sci-fi! And that’s when you only take into consideration Mr. Tchaikovsky’s novels. (There are so many others to anticipate, too.)

Also on CR: Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky (2012); Guest Posts on “Nine Books, Six Years, One Stenwold Maker”, “The Art of Gunsmithing — Writing Guns of the Dawn, “Looking for God in Melnibone Places — Fantasy and Religion”, and “Eye of the Spider”; Excerpt from Guns of the Dawn; Reviews of Empire in Black & GoldGuns of the DawnSpiderlight

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE ROSEWATER INSURRECTION by Tade Thompson (Orbit)

ThompsonT-R2-InsurrectionI’m a newcomer to Tade Thompson‘s work, introduced via his Tor.com novella, The Murders of Molly Southbourne (which I loved). Since then, I’ve been eager to read more of his work. I have Rosewater, which was recently re-issued by Orbit, but have been too slow about getting to it. With the follow-up, The Rosewater Insurrection on the horizon, I think I’ll have to get my skates on. Here’s the synopsis:

All is quiet in the city of Rosewater as it expands on the back of the gargantuan alien Wormwood. Those who know the truth of the invasion keep the secret.

The government agent Aminat, the lover of the retired sensitive Kaaro, is at the forefront of the cold, silent conflict. She must capture a woman who is the key to the survival of the human race. But Aminat is stymied by the machinations of the Mayor of Rosewater and the emergence of an old enemy of Wormwood…

The Rosewater Insurrection is due to be published in March 2019 by Orbit in North America and in the UK.

Also on CR: Review of The Murders of Molly Southbourne

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: SEVEN BLADES IN BLACK by Sam Sykes (Orbit/Gollancz)

SykesS-SevenBladesInBlackUSI’m a big fan of Sam Sykes‘s work. I first stumbled across his debut, Tome of the Undergates in a bookstore in Durham, and flicked through the first few pages. It was funny, violent, and very well-written. (Also, the novel turned out to start with possibly the longest battle scene ever…) “Funny, violent and well-written” is a great way to describe all of his work — each of his novels so far has had a dark humour running through it that sets it apart from many of his contemporaries. (Black Halo, the second in his Aeons Gate trilogy, has one of my favourite sequences in any series — it involves a fight with an imaginary monkey, and a conversation with a companion about it later.) I’ve also been following him on Twitter for years (highly recommended, even if you’re not a fan of his books). Next year, in May, his new novel Seven Blades in Black is due to be published by Orbit (North America) and Gollancz (UK). It’s not clear if this is the start of a new series or a stand-alone, but it certainly sounds really interesting:

Among humans, none have power like mages. And among mages, none have will like Sal the Cacophony. Once revered, now vagrant, she walks a wasteland scarred by generations of magical warfare.

The Scar, a land torn between powerful empires, is where rogue mages go to disappear, disgraced soldiers go to die and Sal went with a blade, a gun and a list of names she intended to use both on.

But vengeance is a flame swift extinguished. Betrayed by those she trusted most, her magic torn from her and awaiting execution, Sal the Cacophony has one last tale to tell before they take her head.

All she has left is her name, her story and the weapon she used to carved both.

Vengeance is its own reward.

Seven Blades in Black is definitely among my most-anticipated novels of 2019. In addition to the Aeons Gate novels, you can also pick up the follow-up trilogy, Bring Down Heaven (also published by Orbit and Gollancz).

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: THE GUTTER PRAYER by Gareth Hanrahan (Orbit)

HanrahanG-BIL1-GutterPrayerI stumbled across the synopsis for Gareth Hanrahan‘s upcoming novel on, I think, Amazon a week or so ago, and thought it sounded really interesting. Yesterday, Orbit unveiled the fantastic cover by the ever-excellent Richard Anderson. The first novel in the Black Iron Legacy series, here’s the synopsis for The Gutter Prayer:

A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.

The ancient city of Guerdon has always been. The city must finally end.

When three thieves – an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man – are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born.

Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know.

Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city’s underworld.

Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh.

Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon.

The Gutter Prayer is due to be published by Orbit Books in North America and in the UK, in January 2019.

Follow the Author: Goodreads, Twitter

Upcoming: COLD IRON by Miles Cameron (Gollancz)

CameronM-M&M1-ColdIronUKIn August, Gollancz are due to publish Cold Iron. The first novel in Miles Cameron‘s new Masters & Mages fantasy series, it looks really interesting:

Aranthur is a student. He showed a little magical talent, is studying at the local academy, and is nothing particularly special. Others are smarter. Others are more talented. Others are quicker to pick up techniques. But none of them are with him when he breaks his journey home for the holidays in an inn. None of them step in to help when a young woman is thrown off a passing stage coach into the deep snow at the side of the road. And none of them are drawn into a fight to protect her.

One of the others might have realised she was manipulating him all along…

A powerful story about beginnings, coming of age, and the way choosing to take one step towards violence can lead to a slippery and dangerous slope, this is an accomplished fantasy series driven by strong characters and fast-paced action.

Cold Iron is due to be published in the UK by Gollancz, and in North America by Orbit, in October 2018.

Also on CR: Guest Post on “How I Do Research”

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Interview with LEO CAREW

CarewL-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Leo Carew?

I am a 26-year-old from London. I studied biological anthropology at university, which played a huge role in The Wolf. Outside of writing, I’m training to be an army doctor and am love exploration, particularly in the Arctic.

Your debut novel, The Wolf, will be published this month by Orbit (US) and Wildfire (UK). It looks interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s the first in a trilogy which imagines that more than one species of human survived the Ice Age. It follows a protagonist from an alternate race of people (the Anakim) after his father is killed in battle and he attempts to inherit the throne. At the same time he has to resist an invasion from another race of humans, forcing him to gather allies as fast as possible, and turn to some people he’d rather not… Continue reading