Upcoming: THE MIDNIGHT FRONT by David Mack (Tor)

MackD-DA1-MidnightFrontUSThis is the first novel in David Mack’s Dark Arts series, and I’m really looking forward to giving it a try. I think I’ve only read one other (urban) fantasy set during one of the World Wars — Andy Remic’s very good A Song For No Man’s Land — and I’m certainly interested in trying more. (Feel free to leave recommendations in the comments.) Here’s the synopsis for The Midnight Front:

On the eve of World War Two, Nazi sorcerers come gunning for Cade but kill his family instead. His one path of vengeance is to become an apprentice of The Midnight Front — the Allies’ top-secret magickal warfare program — and become a sorcerer himself.

Unsure who will kill him first — his allies, his enemies, or the demons he has to use to wield magick — Cade fights his way through occupied Europe and enemy lines. But he learns too late the true price of revenge will be more terrible than just the loss of his soul — and there’s no task harder than doing good with a power born of ultimate evil.

The Midnight Front will be published by Tor Books in January 2018, and will be available in the UK.

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Quick Review: A SONG FOR NO MAN’S LAND by Andy Remic (Tor.com)

RemicA-WWI1-ASongForNoMansLandA weird, imaginative World War I urban fantasy tale

He signed up to fight with visions of honour and glory, of fighting for king and country, of making his family proud at long last.

But on a battlefield during the Great War, Robert Jones is shot, and wonders how it all went so very wrong, and how things could possibly get any worse.

He’ll soon find out. When the attacking enemy starts to shapeshift into a nightmarish demonic force, Jones finds himself fighting an impossible war against an enemy that shouldn’t exist.

This novella is the first in a projected series by Andy Remic. It is a really interesting, creepy take on the First World War. Told from the perspective of a volunteer, alternating between narrative and diary entries (for the main). The novella recounts the difficulties and horrors of the Front, the and the intense confusion warfare.

Add to this, though, a touch of horror and fantasy myth, and Remic has come up with an original take on war fiction. There were a few times when the story felt a little confusing, but I think that was intentional — our hero doesn’t always know what is actually going on, and the creatures he believes he keeps seeing are monstrous. Is his mind just creating a lie to explain the nature of war? Or is he really faced with monsters from childhood myth and nightmare?

A Song for No Man’s Land is a really interesting start to a new series. This novella is very much setting up the world and premise for the series to come, and ends on quite a tantalizing moment. I think this should have pretty broad appeal. Recommended.

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Also on CR: Interview with Andy Remic

A Song for No Man’s Land is published by Tor.com next month. The next two novellas in the series — Return of Souls and Iron Beast — will also be published by Tor.com. Here are the covers (provisional, I think):

RemicA-WWISeries1to3

Review: GUNS OF THE DAWN by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor)

TchaikovskyA-GunsOfTheDawnAn excellent stand-alone novel about war, family and sacrifice

Denland and Lascanne have been allies for generations, but now the Denlanders have assassinated their king, overthrown the monarchy and marched on their northern neighbour. At the border, the war rages; Lascanne’s brave redcoats against the revolutionaries of Denland.

Emily Marshwic has watched the war take her brother-in-law and now her young brother. Then comes the call for more soldiers, to a land already drained of husbands, fathers and sons. Every household must give up one woman to the army and Emily has no choice but to join the ranks of young women marching to the front.

In the midst of warfare, with just enough training to hold a musket, Emily comes face to face with the reality: the senseless slaughter; the weary cynicism of the Survivor’s Club; the swamp’s own natives hiding from the conflict.

As the war worsens, and Emily begins to have doubts about the justice of Lascanne’s cause, she finds herself in a position where her choices will make or destroy both her own future and that of her nation.

This is a superb novel. I haven’t read nearly as much of Tchaikovsky’s work as I would like, but this is a fantastic place to start. A fantasy war novel, but one that is focused on the impact of war more than battle itself. After a slightly slow start, this really grabbed hold of my attention and didn’t let up until the very end. Continue reading

Upcoming: THE BEAST ARISES Series (Black Library)

Yesterday, Black Library announced their next big event/series: The Beast Arises. Beginning in December, the series will see twelve novels released in twelve months, and is set 1,500 years after the end of the Horus Heresy (the epic, hugely successful series currently ongoing). It will chart the rise (and return?) of the orks as force in the WH40k universe. The first five novels have been unveiled…

AbnettD-BA1-IAmSlaughterI AM SLAUGHTER by Dan Abnett (December 2015)

As the greatest Ork Waaagh! ever seen threatens to engulf the galaxy, the Imperial Fists make their last stand

It is the thirty-second millennium and the Imperium is at peace. The Traitor Legions of Chaos are but a distant memory and the many alien races that have long plagued mankind are held in check by the Space Marines. When a mission to exterminate one such xenos breed on the world of Ardamantua draws in more of their forces, the Imperial Fists abandon the walls of Terra for the first time in more than a thousand years. And when another, greater, foe strikes, even the heroic sons of Rogal Dorn may be powerless against it. The Beast Arises… and it is mighty.

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SandersR-BA-PredatorPreyPREDATOR PREY by Rob Sanders

After centuries of peace, the Imperium is thrown into panic as human worlds everywhere are menaced by orks.

After centuries of peace, the Imperium is thrown into panic as human worlds everywhere are menaced by orks. In a relentless tide of slaughter, ork attack moons destroy planet after planet with gravity weapons of unstoppable power. On Terra, the High Lords are paralysed by the scale of the threat, and fail to take any effective action. With entire Space Marine Chapters missing, or known to have been wiped out, does anyone have the will and the power to rise to the Imperium’s defence?

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ThorpeG-BA-EmperorExpectsTHE EMPEROR EXPECTS by Gav Thorpe

As ork ships lay waste to world after world, heading inexorably towards Terra, Imperial citizens despair

As ork ships lay waste to world after world, heading inexorably towards Terra, Imperial citizens despair. The High Lords become desperate to prove that victory is possible, no matter the cost. A massive Navy fleet is assembled – their mission to make a definitive strike against the orks at Port Sanctus, an area of enemy-held space. But when the Imperial armada arrives, they find themselves outclassed and outmanoeuvred – can human courage and faith possibly prevail against such terrible odds?

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AnnandaleD-BA-LastWallTHE LAST WALL by David Annandale

Despite the Imperium’s best attempts to forestall the ork plague that is wrecking havoc in human space, an ork attack moon now hangs over Terra.

Despite the Imperium’s best attempts to forestall the ork plague that is wrecking havoc in human space, an ork attack moon now hangs over Terra. As its malevolent presence gazes down at the Imperial Palace, terrified citizens run riot in the streets. In a last-ditch attempt to destroy the attack moon, a proletarian crusade is launched. Thousands of ships large and small head to the moon carrying billions of citizens, all eager to take the fight to the enemy. It seems the attack has a chance of success as the invasion force lands safely, but the orks have yet to spring their trap…

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HaleyG-BA05-ThroneworldTHRONEWORLD by Guy Haley

The Imperium’s situation has never been more grim – an ork attack moon hangs over Terra, and ork armadas ravage human space.The Adeptus Astartes, armed with the knowledge of how to defeat the greenskins, must now travel back to Terra through a galaxy teaming with orks.

The Imperium’s situation has never been more grim – an ork attack moon hangs over Terra, and ork armadas ravage human space. To make matters even worse, eldar strike at the heart of the Imperial Palace, forcing humanity’s defenders to fight on two fronts at once. Though it seems nothing can stop the orks – neither brute force, science, nor faith – an unlikely alliance in the furthest reaches of space uncovers the first clue how to defeat the greenskins. The Adeptus Astartes now face an almost impossible task – taking news of this discovery back to Terra through a galaxy teaming with orks.

[For some reason, the cover available through Amazon — the only place so far where I could find an image to include here — has L.J. Goulding as the author, but the listing itself identifies Haley as the author, as does Black Library’s website.]

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I’m quite looking forward to giving this series a try. It’s also nice to know that there will be a finite, clearly-defined number of novels — the Heresy series, while I’m thoroughly enjoying it, is just becoming so vast… Anyone else interested in reading this series?

“Breach Zone” by Myke Cole (Headline/Ace Books)

ColeM-SO3-BreachZoneUKThe explosive conclusion to Myke Cole’s first trilogy

The Great Reawakening did not come quietly. Across the country and in every nation, people began “coming up Latent,” developing terrifying powers — summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting everything they touch ablaze. Those who Manifest must choose: become a sheepdog who protects the flock or a wolf who devours it…

In the wake of a bloody battle at Forward Operating Base Frontier and a scandalous presidential impeachment, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Thorsson, call sign “Harlequin,” becomes a national hero and a pariah to the military that is the only family he’s ever known.

In the fight for Latent equality, Oscar Britton is positioned to lead a rebellion in exile, but a powerful rival beats him to the punch: Scylla, a walking weapon who will stop at nothing to end the human-sanctioned apartheid against her kind.

When Scylla’s inhuman forces invade New York City, the Supernatural Operations Corps are the only soldiers equipped to prevent a massacre. In order to redeem himself with the military, Harlequin will be forced to face off with this havoc-wreaking woman from his past, warped by her power into something evil…

In this, the final part of Cole’s first trilogy, we have an excellent conclusion. Not only do we see the events of the last three books come together, but the story digs deeper and offers more than either of its predecessors. The author has really pulled out all the stops for this one, and written a really fantastic novel.

The novel is set predominantly in Manhattan, with a few scenes and events taking place in or around the New York area – for example, Bookbinder is on a ship off the coast, testing a new device just as the action kicks off. Harlequin is at the centre, which I liked, as it turns out he is a far more nuanced character than we might have seen in the previous novels (which were through the eyes of people who often were on the wrong side of him). As he takes command of the incursion on Manhattan, we get to see him in action, struggling to keep the hordes from the Source at bay, while also attempting to marshal allies from the Manhattan Selfer underground and also keep the military and law enforcement forces available in line and manning the barricades.

The action is as well-written and realistic as before, with plenty of intense moments that place the reader right alongside the combatants, in the thick of the fighting. I particularly enjoyed seeing the sorcerers let loose, unleashing their myriad powers in devastating and creative ways – the way Cole has developed and devised the various ‘schools’ of magic is fantastic, and he always surprises with the ways in which the powers can be interpreted, and yet still grounded (somewhat) in reality. It was also great to read about the urban conflict taking place in neighbourhoods I have spent many a day walking. I don’t know why everyone seems so keen on destroying New York City in fiction, TV and movies…

What I found most interesting with this novel was how the action was not the best element. In fact, it faded slightly into the background for me. I thought the flashback chapters, detailing Harlequin’s past with Scylla, were absolutely superb, and showed that Cole is not just an excellent military-sci-fi writer. (True, we knew this from Control Point and Fortress Frontier, but in Breach Zone his talent really shines on all fronts.) With this, his third novel, Cole has well and truly arrived. He has written a novel that is just better in every way. The balance between action, character development and world-building was spot-on. As with the previous two novels, I also really liked the use of chapter epigraphs to add further colour and background to the world/reality he has created.

As I mentioned on Twitter when I was reading it, Breach Zone is like a perfect blend of Marvel’s Avengers and the Battle for Helms Deep. Only, better. To draw another comparison to comics, it’s not difficult to see similarities between Scylla and X-Men antagonist Magneto, as she espouses a similar reorientation of society, with the latents on top. Cole’s use of the flashbacks to detail her evolution from high-powered CEO to prisoner of the SOC was deftly done, fleshing out her character and showing us the dangers of government paranoia, overreach and overreaction. She’s a tragic figure, and her relationship with Harlequin just one of the casualties of a frightened government’s policies to control that which it cannot control, nor understand.

If you haven’t read any of these novels, yet, I strongly urge you to do so. I’ve been saying it ever since I read Control Point, but with each novel it becomes clearer: Myke Cole is a fantastic new talent, and if each of his novels improves on the last, it won’t be long before we see him climbing ever-higher on the bestseller list.

Highly recommended.

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Also on CR: Interview with Myke Cole, Guest Post (Influences & Inspirations)

Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops trilogy – Control Point, Fortress Frontier and Breach Zone – are published by Headline in the UK and Ace Books in the US.

Review: THE VIOLENT CENTURY by Lavie Tidhar (Hodder)

Tidhar-ViolentCenturyUKA strange-yet-brilliant blend of Watchmen-style Super-Heroes and John le Carré Spy Fiction

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?

The Violent Century is, much to my shame, the first novel of Tidhar’s that I’ve read. And it’s quite the impressive accomplishment. Tidhar is not a stranger to pushing the envelope – see, for example, his World Fantasy Award-winning Osama – and in The Violent Century, he has created an original, engrossing fusion of noir-ish super-heroes and gritty espionage thriller. The publicity material that came with the ARC managed to capture it very well – “Watchmen meets John le Carre”. This is a very good novel. Continue reading