Excerpt: THE ETERNAL KINGDOM by Ben Peek (Tor)

PeekB-3-EternalKingdomUKThe Eternal Kingdom, the final novel in Ben Peek‘s well-received Children trilogy is now available in the UK. Published by Tor, it concludes the story started in The Godless and Leviathan’s Blood, as well as the prequel novella Saboteurs. To celebrate the release, the publisher has given CR an excerpt to share. But first, the novel’s synopsis:

A nation in fragments

On the shores of Yeflam, Ayae struggles to keep her people together. She acts as liaison between the camp leaders and the immortals who could save them. Zaifyr’s immortal siblings have arrived — but they have their own unfathomable agendas and Ayae is caught in their power games.

An army on the march

Heast has returned to his role as Captain of Refuge, a mercenary unit that answers the call of lost causes. With help from an unexpected source, Heast and his band of mercenaries could turn the tide of war — if they live long enough.

A world in danger

Bueralan Le is trapped in the company of the new god child. Though he fights to prevent her from unleashing her forces on the world, he is bound by blood to her darkest creation. The future of the world may depend on his choices.

And now, on with the Prologue… Continue reading

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Excerpt: SKULLSWORN by Brian Staveley (Tor Books)

StaveleyB-SkullswornUSIn the first of today’s posts celebrating the release of Brian Staveley‘s stand-alone Skullsworn, we have an excerpt. First, though, here’s the synopsis:

For one apprentice assassin, the clock is ticking…

Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the description skullsworn. It doesn’t capture the beauty of her devotion to Ananshael, God of Death. And she’s not an assassin, but a priestess. Or she will be, if she can pass her final trial. The problem isn’t killing, as Pyrre has spent her life training for this. The problem is love. To pass the trial, she will have fourteen days to kill seven people detailed in an ancient song, including one true love, ‘who will not come again’. However, Pyrre has never been in love, time is short, and if she fails she’ll be given to her god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail. So a month before the trial begins, she returns to the violent city of her birth, where she once offered an abusive father to the god. Here Pyrre hopes to find love – and end it with the edge of her knife.

Skullsworn is set in the same world as Staveley’s excellent, best-selling and critically-acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy. On with the excerpt!

Continue reading

Guest Post: “Building the Polity” by Neal Asher

Building the Polity was a gradual process for me that started back in the 80s when, searching for somewhere, anywhere to get something published, I discovered the small presses. These were mostly A5 chapbooks (though some were larger) published from someone’s home and with a readership of no more than a couple of hundred. My interest was SFF so I ordered anything related and read it. I discovered that most of the stories were science fiction whereas before I’d been working on a fantasy trilogy, which now still resides in my files.

So science fiction… Even the fantasy I was working on leaned more in that direction anyway – I was more inclined towards the logical consistency you find in SF while the supposed fantasy elements were technological – super-science. I started off with a story about a man whose cryogenically frozen brain tissue was used to run the body of a cyborg player in a game similar to American football. He was then used as a disposable asset to kill off some revolutionaries. The story was called “Another England” and was published in a magazine called Back Brain Recluse in 1989. However there was very little of the Polity there. Continue reading

Review: THE LAST MORTAL BOND by Brian Staveley (Tor)

StaveleyB-CUT3-LastMortalBondUSThe highly-anticipated conclusion to the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy

DEATH IS NEAR, ARMIES ARE GATHERED, AND THE FUTURE RESTS ON A KNIFE-EDGE 

The Annurian Empire is losing a war on two fronts — and it’s unclear who’s in command. Adare is stationed in the thick of battle, calling herself Emperor. However, she can’t hold back the nomadic Urghul forces forever. She needs her brilliant general, Ran il Tornja, but will he betray her again?

Adare’s brother Kaden is the true heir, yet he’ll accept a republic to save his divided people. And he faces something more terrible than war. He’s unmasked Ran il Tornja as a remnant of an ancient race, one that attempted to destroy mankind. The general now plans to finish what they started. Kaden has also discovered that capricious gods walk the earth in human guise — and their agendas may seal the fates of all.

In early 2014, I finally got around to reading Brian Staveley’s first two novelsThe Emperor’s Blades and The Providence of Fire. I was blown away — I read them back-to-back, which is something I haven’t done with a fantasy series since Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies, and Peter V. Brett’s The Desert Spear and The Daylight War. Staveley’s writing, his characters, and the fantastically composed and paced narrative just pulled me through. I was hooked. I still think the two novels are a fantastic example of what modern fantasy can be. (Seriously, go read them.) I had a rather different reaction to The Last Mortal BondContinue reading

Interview with COL BUCHANAN

BuchananC-AuthorPicWelcome back to CR! For the benefit of new readers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is Col Buchanan?

Thanks Stefan. A full author bio, including details of my Fantasy series, Farlander/The Heart of The World, can be found at my author site.

Think Irish rebel; a lover of trailblazers, truth-seekers and controversy.

Your next novel, Fierce Gods, will be published by Tor. It’s the fourth novel in your excellent Heart of the World series. How would you introduce the series to a potential reader? What can fans expect from the fourth book?

In the first book of the series, Farlander, the adventure starts with an ageing assassin and failed revolutionary, Ash, having to take on a young apprentice before he dies — just as he sets off on his most dangerous mission of all…

In books two and three, Stands a Shadow and The Black Dream, we follow this dynamic through an adventure of shocks and revelations.

With book four, Fierce Gods, we reach the climax of the series, along with the climax of the ten-year-long siege that has been happening throughout the previous books. It’s where everything and everyone finally collide. Continue reading

A Quick Chat with RJURIK DAVIDSON

Welcome back to CR! For new readers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is Rjurik Davidson?

An Australian writer who spends a lot of time in Europe. A person who moves from place to place, from forest to desert, across all sorts of levels of society, from lawyers to party animals, from politicians to workers, from the ancient to the modern. Someone who knows that the most interesting things happen on the fault lines between worlds.

Your new novel, The Stars Askew, has recently been published by Tor. It looks fantastic: How would you introduce the series to a potential reader? And what can fans of the first novel expect from this new book?

First of all, The Stars Askew is an epic story about a revolution. As with all revolutions, it’s filled with dramatic events. The city of Caeli-Amur is in flux. Revolutionaries are in control, but enemies lurk in the shadows. One of the leaders is found murdered in the city’s baths with two thaumaturgists, also killed. Why were they killed? Kata, a former philosopher-assassin sets out to find the killer. That’s the start of the novel. From there stakes rise and rise. The novel features prison camps and Gorgons, lost towers in the wilderness and betrayal. Continue reading

Upcoming: COLLAPSING EMPIRE by John Scalzi (Tor)

ScalziJ-CollapsingEmpire

There is a new stand-alone sci-fi novel coming from John Scalzi early next year: The Collapsing Empire. It sounds rather interesting, too:

Humanity moves away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our homeworld. It creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos ensures no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a safeguard against interstellar war – and a way of controlling the empire’s rulers. This future of faster-than-light travel is possible due to a huge discovery – the Flow. This is an extra-dimensional field which can transport us to other worlds. And while this field is eternal, like a river, it does change its course.

It now seems the Flow is moving, which could isolate every human world in space forever. So three individuals will make a last attempt to find a solution. A scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency will see what, if anything, can be salvaged. For an interstellar empire is on the brink of collapse.

Due to be published by Tor Books in the US and UK in March 2017.