Succubus Heat by Richelle Mead
(Bantam Books 04 June 2009 / £6.99) - Bantam's answer to the Urban Fantasy craze is Richelle Mead, whose début Succubus Blues garnered impressive reviews (Jim Butcher described it as "Sex in the City meets Paradise Lost"!) and has spawned a number of follow up titles. The latest to be published here in the UK is Succubus Heat which is issued as a paperback original by Bantam Press.
Death's Head: Day of the Damned (Deaths Head 3) by David Gunn
(Bantam Press 18 June 2009 / £12.99) - I'm still trying to find out who is the author behind the David Gunn pseudonym! Whoever it is, they're writing punchy and entertaining military SF and I hope the writing of these novels is as much kick-ass escapist fun for the author as they are for the reader.
The third title featuring "killing machine" Lieutenant Sven Tveskoeg is Day of the Damned and is a large format trade paperback published by Bantam. See my May 07 review of the first novel in this series Death's Head, and also Harriet Klausner's April 08 take on book two, Maximum Offence.
Return of the Crimson Guard (Malazan Empire 2) by Ian Cameron Esslemont
(Bantam Press 18 June 2009 / £8.99) - The second Malazan novel from Ian Cameron Esslemont, co-creator of this huge and panoramic fantasy world along with Steven Erikson. Both this and Esslemont's first novel Night of Knives were published first as limited editions by PS Publishing. The Return of the Crimson Guard now receives its mass market release from Bantam.
"The return of the mercenary company the Crimson Guard could not have come at a worse time for the Malazan Empire. Drained by constant warfare, weakened by betrayal and rivalries, many see the grip of Empress Laseen weakening. Conquered kingdoms and principalities test their old independence. Into this gathering civil war on Quon Tali - the Empire's homeland - comes the Guard. And with their return comes the memory of their hundred year old vow: undying opposition to the existence of the Empire. Yet rivalries and betrayals stalk the Guard as well - elements of its elite, the Avowed, scheme to open paths to even greater power. Ancient potent entities, Ascendants, also lend a hand exploiting all sides to further their own arcane ends.Meanwhile, a swordsman, Traveller, and his companion Ereko, move from one strange encounter to another in a mysterious dance meant ultimately to bring the swordsman to a final confrontation from which none have ever returned. As the Crimson Guard gathers itself from around the globe, Empress Laseen faces more immediate threats. To feed her wars she has bled dry provincial garrisons across Quon Tali and now regional nationalists see their chance.
Behind their insurrections stand the veteran commanders of Laseen's predecessor, Emperor Kellanved. These generals and powerful mages, the "Old Hands," have lost patience with what they see as Laseen's mismanagement and have selected their own replacement. Yet there are hints that Laseen may be using the uprisings to draw out and finally eliminate these last irksome survivors of her predecessor's rule."
Glass House Press
Gauntlet: A Novel of International Intrigue by Richard Aaron
(Glass House Press 02 March 2009 / £21.99) - A high-tech thriller, Gauntlet is the début offering from Richard Aaron and is published in hard cover by Glass House Press, a new independent publishing house, also debuting with this title.
"Cutting-edge research, complex plotting and in-depth characterizations lift Aaron's debut, a terrorist thriller. Afghan Yousseff Said al-Sabbhan, who's built an enormous drug-smuggling enterprise, has worked out with his co-conspirator, 'the Emir,' a plan to destroy an American city and bring the country to its knees. Opposing the plotters is the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, a secret agency staffed by men and women drawn from every sector of the U.S. intelligence community. Autistic mathematician Hamilton Turbee, a TTIC employee, is a standout in a vast cast of characters, surely one of the most interesting and endearing heroes ever to star in an action adventure novel. Despite the incredible amount of detail and the constant flashbacks, Aaron keeps the action moving swiftly forward. Some readers may be frustrated by the abrupt ending as well as patches of mundane prose, but all will eagerly await the two projected sequels." -– Publishers Weekly
Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
(Gollancz 01 June 2009 / £12.99) - The much anticipated new novel from Joe Abercrombie - an author who, with his First Law Trilogy, gave the fantasy genre quite a kick up its arse. This new one is a stand alone and early reviews (all universally praising) indicate his foot is still jammed right up there!
"Springtime in Styria. And that means war. There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king. War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular - a shade too popular for her employer's taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto's reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die. Her allies include Styria's least reliable drunkard, Styria's most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that's all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started... Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge."
Consorts of Heaven by Jaine Fenn
(Gollancz 11 June 2009 / £12.99) - Jaine Fenn's follow up to Principles of Angels is not a sequel but is set in the same world and features the same villains. Consorts of Angels is a trade paperback edition published by Gollancz.
"When a naked, amnesiac stranger is found outside a remote highland village, he is taken in by Kerin, a widow whose unconventional ways are tolerated because her son Damaru is 'skytouched' - he appears simple, but he is able to affect matter. All skytouched are tested by the Beloved Daughter, the living goddess who rules the world from the City of Light. If he's found worthy, Damaru will become a Consort of the skymothers, the Gods of this world.
Kerin and the stranger, nicknamed Sais, accompany Damaru to the City, in the company of a priest who's helping Sais to get back his missing past - but as Sais recovers his memory, he realises that the world does not work the way he assumed - and everyone believes - it does. Worse still, the hierarchy which has kept society stable for thousands of years is rotten to the core. Then Kerin and Sais uncover the true nature of the world, and the unimaginable fate of the Consorts - a fate Kerin will do anything to stop her son sharing."
Jasmyn (Gollancz S.F.) by Alex Bell
(Gollancz 18 June 2009 / £12.99) - I rather liked Alex Bell's début novel The Ninth Circle when I read and reviewed it last year. Now Gollancz releasing her (unrelated) follow up novel.
"One day, without warning, Jasmyn's husband died of an aneurysm. Since then, everything has been different. Wrapped up in her grief, Jasmyn is trapped in a world without colour, without flavour - without Liam. But even through the haze of misery she begins to notice strange events. Even with Liam gone, things are not as they should be, and eventually Jasmyn begins to explore the mysteries that have sprung up after her husband's death . . . and follow their trail back into the events of his life. But the mysteries are deeper than Jasmyn expects, and are leading her in unexpected directions - into fairytales filled with swans, castles and bones; into a tale of a murder committed by a lake and a vicious battle between brothers; into a story of a lost past, and a stolen love. She's entering a magical story. Jasmyn's story."
Retribution Falls: Tales of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding
(Gollancz 18 June 2009 / £12.99) - The new novel from the immensely talented Chris Wooding, is published by Gollancz. Here's a link to a fascinating Wooding-penned blog relating to this book, which has been blurbed by Joe Abercrombie as being a novel that "...picks you up, whisks you swiftly and entertainingly along and sets you down with a big smile on your face."
"Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the wrong side of the law, avoiding the heavily armed flying frigates of the Coalition Navy. With their trio of ragged fighter craft, they run contraband, rob airships and generally make a nuisance of themselves. So a hot tip on a cargo freighter loaded with valuables seems like a great prospect for an easy heist and a fast buck. Until the heist goes wrong, and the freighter explodes. Suddenly Frey isn't just a nuisance anymore - he's public enemy number one, with the Coalition Navy on his tail and contractors hired to take him down. But Frey knows something they don't. That freighter was rigged to blow, and Frey has been framed to take the fall. If he wants to prove it, he's going to have to catch the real culprit. He must face liars and lovers, dogfights and gunfights, Dukes and daemons. It's going to take all his criminal talents to prove he's not the criminal they think he is ...
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
(Gollancz 01 July 2009 / £9.99) - The greatly anticipated début novel from Carrie Ryan is targeted at the eager readership of the YA/adult crossover area. It is now published in in a very smart hardcover edition by Gollancz.
"In Mary's world, there are simple truths.The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve.The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village. The fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
But slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.
Now she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death? "
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
The Road Goes Ever on and on: The Map of Tolkien's Middle-Earth by Brian Sibley
(HarperCollins Publishers Ltd 11 June 2009 / £9.99) - This gorgeous little cloth-bound companion volume by Tolkien expert Brian Sibley is as much a roadmap as the maps it offers for study. A lovely little item, lavishly produced and a great stocking-filler for the Tolkien enthusiast in your family.
"The essential companion for any reader journeying through The Lord of the Rings, illustrated by John Howe, conceptual artist on The Lord of the Rings films. Writer and broadcaster Brian Sibley is a foremost expert on The Lord of the Rings (he adapted the novel for the award-winning BBC radio dramatisation in 1980), and here in this clothbound hardback presents an entertaining and informative overview of the writing of The Lord of the Rings, and the creation of the original maps by Tolkien and his son, Christopher. The book is accompanied by a full-colour illustrated map, which can be removed for reference or even for framing. The map is a real labour of love, illustrated by world-renowned Tolkien artist John Howe, the conceptual artist employed by Peter Jackson to work on his multi-award winning Lord of The Rings film trilogy, and who is soon to work on Guillermo del Toro's Hobbit film. Each element in this collector's package is special; together they provide an enchanting and desirable artefact that will be a prized possession of Tolkien readers of all ages."
Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson
(HarperVoyager 06 August 2009 / £18.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Kim Stanley Robinson's fascinating new novel tells of "... the story of the incredible life - and death - of Galileo, the First Scientist."
Due to be published in hardcover from Harper Voyager this coming August (predating the US release by some months), Galileo's Dream looks like a dead cert for those of us who, like me, loved Stephenson's Baroque Cycle.
Stan appears to be amongst that dwindling last bastion of writers who for some reason still resist an official (or unofficial in his case) internet presence - hopefully someone will put this right soon enough, but for now, here's a link to the Harpercollins page for this release.
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard
(Headline 11 June 2009 / £19.99) - A debut novel from Jonathan L. Howard, a British game designer whose credit include titles such as Broken Sword. Howard's first foray into fiction looks very promising indeed - Johannes Cabal The Necromancer is a witty fantasy that has been given a beautiful hardcover release from Headline and "...combines the chills and thrills of old-fashioned gothic tales like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the mischievous humour of Wicked, and the sophisticated charms of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and spins the Faustian legend into a fresh, irreverent, and irresistible new adventure."
Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton
(Headline 02 June 2009 / £12.99) - A new publisher and a new look for best-seller Laurell K. Hamilton, whose seventeenth Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novel is entitled Skin Trade and is published in royal hardback by Headline here in the UK.
"Anita Blake's reputation has taken some hits. Not on the work front, where she has the highest kill count of all the legal vampire executioners in the country, but on the personal front. No one seems to trust a woman who sleeps with the monsters. Still, when a vampire serial killer sends her a head from Las Vegas, Anita has to warn Sin City's local authorities what they're dealing with. Only it's worse than she thought. Several officers and one executioner have been slain – paranormal style...
Anita heads to Las Vegas, where she's joined by three other federal marshals, including the ruthless Edward hiding behind his mild-mannered persona. It's a good thing Edward always has her back, because, when she gets close to the bodies, Anita senses "tiger" too strongly to ignore it. The were-tigers are very powerful in Las Vegas, which means the odds of her rubbing someone important the wrong way just got a lot higher..."
Blood Noir (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter) by Laurell K. Hamilton
(Orbit 04 June 2009 / £7.99) - It feels like I've been listing Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels for as long as I've been writing this column - which is about nine years! It is a testament to LKH's talent and creativity that this series has remained popular and commercial for so many years and it has certainly spawned many imitators. As seen above, Hamilton now has a new UK publisher for forthcoming AB books, Blood Noir, the sixteenth novel in this series and is published as a mass market paperback from Orbit.
"Jason is a werewolf. He's also one of Anita Blake's best friends and sometimes her lover. And right now he needs her - not to be a vampire hunter, or a federal marshal, or a necromancer, but because his father is dying. Anita can make him look like an everyday guy, helping him say good-bye to the abusive father he never loved. The fact that Jason is not 'everyday' and Anita is far from being just a pretty woman is something they figure they can keep under wraps for a couple of days in a small town. How hard can that be? Really, by now, Anita Blake should know better. And this is the weekend that Marmee Noir, ancient mother of all vampires, picks to make a move. Somehow she has cut the connection that binds Anita and vampire Master of the City Jean-Claude, leaving them vulnerable. Dangerous even as she sleeps, buried in darkness for a thousand years beneath the old country of Europe, Marmee Noir reaches out toward power - she has attacked Anita before, but never like this. Anita has what she wants - and now she's going to take it."
Cursor's Fury (Codex Alera III) by Jim Butcher
(Orbit 02 July 2009 / £7.99) - The third in Jim Butcher's fantasy sequence collectively entitled The Codex Alera. The first title is listed below, and the second, Academ's Fury got lost on route by the British Post Office, so sadly we've not seen a copy...! Honestly, it's a bloody miracle we get anything at all in our mailbox! Fingers crossed the fourth book, Captain's Fury shows up next month, eh?
"For centuries, the people of Alera have relied on the power of the furies to protect them from outside invaders. But the gravest threat might be closer than they think. Tavi has escaped the Calderon Valley and the mysterious attack of the Marat on his homeland. But he is far from safe, as trying to keep up the illusion of being a student while secretly training as one of the First Lord's spies is a dangerous game. And he has not yet learned to use the furies, making him especially vulnerable. When the attack comes it's on two fronts. A sudden strike threatens the First Lord's life and threatens to plunge the land into civil war. While in the Calderon Valley, the threat faced from the Marat is dwarfed by an ancient menace. And Tavi must learn to harness the furies if he has any chance of fighting the greatest threat Alera has ever known ..."
Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera 1) by Jim Butcher
(Orbit 07 May 2009 / £7.99) - Having been so productive in establishing his hugely popular Harry Dresden series, one could be forgiven for forgetting that the prolific Jim Butcher has other feathers in his cap. One such example is his superb fantasy sequence The Codex Alera, which was originally published in the US by Ace back in 2004.
Orbit, having picked up the Butcher backlist are now offering the first of this series, Furies of Calderon, to non-US readers. This paperback original will be followed in the coming months by the Academ's Fury, Cursor's Fury and Captain's Fury.
In Ashes Lie: Bk. 2 by Marie Brennan
(Orbit 25 June 2009 / £7.99) - Orbit publish In Ashes Lie, the new novel from Marie Brennan, her follow-up to Midnight Never Come, which was described as a "... breathtaking novel of intrigue and betrayal set in Elizabethan England,". This new novel moves the timeline to 1666 and The Great Fire.
Further information on both Brennan and her forthcoming novel can be found on the author's web site - and I should add that the information Brennan offers up there, for there - background, soundtrack listings, photos from her research trips excerpts, journals - is an abject lesson in how to get people interested in one's work. Top stuff!
"September, 1666 - The mortal civil war is over. But the war among the fae is still raging, and London is its battleground. There are forces that despise the Onyx Court, and will do anything to destroy it. But now a greater threat has come, one that could destroy everything. In the house of a sleeping baker, a spark leaps free of the oven - and ignites a blaze that will burn London to the ground. For three harrowing days, the mortals and fae of the city will fight to save their home. While the humans struggle to halt the conflagration that is devouring London street by street, the fae pit themselves against a less tangible foe: the spirit of the fire itself, powerful enough to annihilate everything in its path. Neither side can win on its own - but can they find a way to fight together?"
Orphan's Triumph (Jason Wander Series) by Robert Buettner
(Orbit 04 June 2009 / £6.99) - Mankind's reunited planets now control a vital crossroads after forty years of fighting, one that secures their uneasy union. The doomsday weapon that can end the Slug war, and the mighty fleet that will carry it to the Slug homeworld, also lie within humanity's grasp - but all is far from won. Since the Slug Blitz orphaned Jason Wander, he has risen from infantry recruit to commander of Earth's garrisons on the emerging allied planets. But four decades of service have cost Jason not just his friends and family, but his innocence. Then an enemy counterstroke threatens to reverse the war and destroy mankind, Jason must finally confront not only his lifelong alien enemy but the reality of what he has become after a lifetime of conflict.
The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow & Thorn) by Tad Williams
(Orbit 29 May 2009 / £8.99) - Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn sequence was originally published back in the early 90's. Four massive volumes, described by LOCUS as "The fantasy equivalent of War and Peace," the term 'epic' doesn't quite cover this one! Perhaps what is most remarkable is that this sequence of enormous scope has remained consistently in print and consistently popular with readers - particularly in this age of sound bites and quick fixes, when our attention span seems to have diminished. Now Orbit reissue the series, with a fantastic new cover look. The Dragonbone Chair is published is a 900 page paperback - other titles will follow in subsequence months. Immersive and impressive traditional fantasy.
The Edge of the World (Terra Incognita) by Kevin J. Anderson
(Orbit 04 June 2009 / £12.99) - Kevin J Anderson is one of our most prolific and ever-visible authors - the latest press blurb from his UK publisher, Orbit, tells us that he has over 16 million books in print in 29 languages worldwide. With his various series, tie-ins and franchise books this is not surprising. Anderson has chosen wisely and always delivered solid and dependable fiction and this trend looks set to continue with The Edge of the World, the author's first journey into epic fantasy. A trade paperback (with wonderful cover art!) from Orbit.
"After generations of friction, the leaders of two lands meet in the holy city of Ishalem to bring an end to the bloodshed and to divide the world between them. Sadly, this new spirit of fellowship is shortlived. A single tragic accident destroys, in minutes, the peace that took years to build. The world is once more cast into the fires of war - and this time the flames may burn until nothing remains. From the highest lord to the lowest servant, no man or woman will be unchanged by the conflict. But while war rages across both continents, a great quest will defy storms and sea serpents to venture beyond the horizon, where no maps exist - to search for a land out of legend. It is a perilous undertaking, but there will always be the impetuous, the brave and the mad who are willing to leave their homes to explore the unknown. Even unto the edge of the world ..."
Through Violet Eyes (Violet Series) by Stephen Woodworth
(Piatkus Books 02 July 2009 / £6.99) - Stephen Woodworth was a first place winner in the Writers of the Future contest and now has Through Violet Eyes, the first novel in series of "thrillers with a fantasy edge" (released in the US by Dell in 2004) published in the UK as a paperback original from Piatkus.
"Chilling ... Shades of Minority Report and The Eyes of Laura Mars ... tantalizing puzzle rife with red herrings, one made all the more entertaining by brisk pacing and strong internal logic." -- Publishers Weekly
God of Clocks (Deepgate Codex Trilogy 3) by Alan Campbell
(Tor 03 July 2009 / £17.99) - I loved Alan Campbell's superb début novel Scar Night when it came out back in July 2006. I felt that he was really on to something with his Peakean, city-based fantasy. A limited edition novella Lye Street, published soon after by Subterranean Press showed further promise. However, after an apparantly difficult time in the writing, I was sorry to find that - in my opinion at least - the follow up to book one, Iron Angel a huge disappointment - indeed a classic example of that "tricky" second novel.
Now Campbell offers us the third volume in the Deepgate Codex, God of Clocks (published by Tor UK in a smart hardcover edition) and hopefully he's now right back on track.
Orbus by Neal Asher
(Tor 04 September 2009 / £17.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy:Endlessly imaginative and industrious, Neal Asher dishes up another of his tasty Spatterjay novels. Orbus is a follow up to his 2006 novel The Voyage of the Sable Keech and takes up once again into the territory we first visited in The Skinner, a book I absolutely loved and perhaps still my favourite of this authors ever growing 'also by' list!
"In charge of an old cargo spaceship, the Old Captain Orbus flees a violent and sadistic past, but he doesn't know that the lethal war drone, Sniper, is a stowaway, and that the past is rapidly catching up with him. His old enemy the Prador Vrell, mutated by the Spatterjay virus into something powerful and dangerous, has seized control of a Prador dreadnought, murdering its crew, and is now seeking to exact vengeance on those who tried to have him killed. Their courses inexorably converge in the Graveyard, the border realm lying between the Polity and the Prador Kingdom, a place filled with the ruins left by past genocides and interplanetary war. But this is the home of the Golgoloth, monster to a race of monsters, the place where a centuries-long cold war is being fought. Meanwhile, the terrifying Prador King is coming, prepared to do anything to ensure Vrell's death and keep certain deadly secrets buried ...and somewhere out there something that has annihilated civilizations is stirring from a slumber of five million years. The cold war is heating up, fast."
The Highwayman by R.A. Salvatore
(Tor 05 June 2009 / £6.99) - The second Tor UK mass market release from R. A. Salvatore,one of the genre's giant seller, although oddly he has never had the (relative) sales here in the UK as he has elsewhere. The Highwayman returns readers to Corona where the author "...spins the tragic tale of an Abellican missionary who returns to Honce from the desert land Behr with wonders from the ancient Jhesta Tu monastery. At his side is his wife, a Jhesta Tu mystic. His dreams of uniting the teachings of the Jhesta Tu and "The Church of Blessed Abelle" are broken against the realities of bigotry and the young Abellican Church's struggle for political favour against the Druid-like Samhaists. But from their doomed union will rise a people's hero--the Highwayman." -- Jeremy Pugh, Amazon.com
Winterstrike by Liz Williams
(Tor 05 June 2009 / £6.99) - The latest novel from Liz Williams, an author I have huge admiration for, not least for her prolific and consistently high quality output, but also for the bright intelligence always so clearly on display in her work. Winterstrike is released in mass market paperback by Tor UK.
"Winterstrike spy, Hestia Mar has been sent to Caud to recover details of an ancient weapon. During her stay in the Martian city, she encounters the ghost of a warrior, who turns out to be the encoded representation of the city's bombed library. She downloads the data contained here, and the details of the weapon are among them. But Hestia Mar realises too late what she has done: by accessing the data, she has virtually guaranteed the use of the weapon against Caud by her own government. Desperate to rescue the situation she makes her way back home across the dangers of the Crater Plain.Meanwhile, in Winterstrike itself, the festival of Ombre has been taking place upon the eve of war. Shorn, a woman imprisoned by her family for accidentally consorting with a male - manages to escape. Her sister Essgui follows Shorn and sets out across the Crater Plain where she meets Hestia Mar. Their journey - to recover lost sister and missing weapon - takes them into the dangerous mountains of Mars, and the discovery of a group of outcast male creatures who hold the secrets to the Martian past, and to its future..."
Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi
(Tor 05 June 2009 / £6.99) - John Scalzi's latest tale set in his Old Man's War universe further consolidates his status as Heinlein's heir - at least in fictional matters! Zoe's Tale is a Tor UK paperback original.
"... Scalzi revisits the events of 2007's The Last Colony from the perspective of Zoë, adopted daughter of previous protagonists Jane Sagan and John Perry. Jane and John are drafted to help found the new human colony of Roanoke, struggling against a manipulative and deceitful homeworld government, native werewolf-like creatures and a league of aliens intent on preventing all space expansion and willing to eradicate the colony if needed. Meanwhile, teenage Zoë focuses more on her poetic boyfriend, Enzo; her sarcastic best friend, Gretchen; and her bodyguards, a pair of aliens from a race called the Obin who worship and protect Zoë because of a scientific breakthrough made by her late biological father. Readers of the previous books will find this mostly a rehash, but engaging character development and Scalzi's sharp ear for dialogue will draw in new readers, particularly young adults." -- Publisher's Weekly
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