The Trials of Trass Kathra (Twilight of Kerberos) by Mike Wild
(Abaddon Books 17 February 2011 / £7.99) - Mike Wild's The Trials of Trass Kathra (try saying that after six pints and a chicken biryani!) is his latest in the Twilight of Kerberos 'action all the way' sword and sorcery franchise.
"'CHILD OF TRASS KATHRA. WELCOME HOME.' One year after Kali Hooper defeated the Pale Lord, Bastian Redigor lives on in the body of Jakub Freel. The mysterious entity known as the Hel'ss, meanwhile, moves closer to Twilight, welcomed as a herald of their Ascension by the spellbound Final Faith. Only Kali and her friends know the deadly reality of what the Hel'ss will bring but they have been declared outlaws, hunted by the Order of the Swords of Dawn and the sinister spheres, the Eyes of The Lord. So begins Kali's penultimate adventure, a quest far beyond the Stormwall to the mythical Trass Kathra, the Island of the Lost. Here she will suffer the Trials of Four to discover the true nature of Twilight's gods and her own shocking origin in the chaotic depths of the Thunderflux. Kali Hooper is dead, and this is the beginning of the end ..."
Star Wars: Clone Wars Gambit - Stealth by Karen Miller
(Arrow 24 February 2011 / £7.99) - It's easy for we self-appointed literati to be snotty about tie-ins and franchise fiction, but often these novels are a gateway into reading for folks who might otherwise spend their time just watching TV and playing games. It's almost comforting to know therefore that there are real quality authors at work in these areas - one such being Australian writer Karen Miller, who is perhaps best know of late for her Kingmaker, Kingbreaker fantasy novels and also the Rogue Agent fantasies, written under the name K.E. Mills. No stranger to franchise material, Miller has written in the universes of Stargate and Star Wars, and here returns to the latter with Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth. Published by Arrow in paperback original.
"The first instalment of a two-book Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker adventure, set against the backdrop of the Clone Wars! Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are on a secret mission to one of the many worlds caught in the middle of the struggle between the Republic and the Separatists. A pastoral planet, Lanteeb wants only to be left alone to survive -- but it is the source of what could be one of the most devastatingly destructive weapons ever. If this potential weapon were to fall into the hands of the Separatists, uncounted worlds would fall. But should the Republic succeed in destroying it first, one world that needs it to survive will be annihilated. A frightening dilemma that Obi-Wan and Anakin will have to untangle, if they can get in and out of the occupied planet alive... "
Star Wars: Knight Errant by John Jackson Miller
(Arrow 17 February 2011 / £7.99) - A second Star Wars title this month from Arrow - Knight Errant by John Jackson Miller, an old hand at tie-ins in virtually all conceivable forms, be they comics, games, novels or whatever.
"A lone Jedi in Sith space dedicates her life to bringing down Sith rule, one act of sabotage at a time. A thousand years before Star Wars: A New Hope, the Republic is in a dark age and groups of Sith have taken over vast swaths of the galaxy. Hiding in one Sith hell-hole is Kerra Holt, a young Jedi working alone to destroy the Sith Masters. But what she doesn't know is that she just might be the pawn of a powerful Sith Lord... "
The Crippled God: The Malazan Book of the Fallen 10 by Steven Erikson
(Bantam Press 21 February 2011 / £20.00) - To describe Steven Erikson's Tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen as 'epic' is akin to saying (with apologies to Douglas Adams) that space is big! The scope of this series is staggering, the imagination and creativity behind both its conception and execution is an achievement that will be a fantasy benchmark for decades to come.
And now it's finally done. Erikson's final novel in this ten book sequence, The Crippled God is now published by Transworld.
"Savaged by the K'Chain Nah'Ruk, the Bonehunters march for Kolanse, where waits an unknown fate. Tormented by questions, the army totters on the edge of mutiny, but Adjunct Tavore will not relent. One final act remains, if it is in her power, if she can hold her army together, if the shaky allegiances she has forged can survive all that is to come. A woman with no gifts of magic, deemed plain, unprepossessing, displaying nothing to instill loyalty or confidence, Tavore Paran of House Paran means to challenge the gods -- if her own troops don't kill her first.
Son of Heaven by David Wingrove
(Corvus 01 March 2011 / £18.99) - Corvus begin their huge programme that sees the reissue of David Wingrove's massive Chungo Kuo sequence - his wonderfully epic and sprawling space opera widely regarded as a worthy rival to Herbert's Dune or Asimov's Foundation.
This is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious publishing ventures of the current age - with book one being simultaneously issued in hard cover and ebook and also as a special collectors edition. A dedicated Chung Kuo web site has been created to support the the campaign and nineteen further volumes will follow, eclipsing even Steve Erikson's ten volume Malazan books.
Not wishing to dampen this wonderful publishing event, but am I the only to one to have noticed an uncomfortable similarity between this cover and that of Amanda Downum's recent Orbit release (Dec 10) The Bone Palace? The same cover artist and the same designer and clearly the same photoshoot! Hmmmm.
"The year is 2085, two decades after the great economic collapse that destroyed Western civilization. With its power broken and its cities ruined, life in the West continues in scattered communities. In rural Dorset Jake Reed lives with his 14-year-old son and memories of the great collapse. Back in '43, Jake was a rich, young futures broker, immersed in the datascape of the world's financial markets. He saw what was coming - and who was behind it. Forewarned, he was one of the few to escape the fall. For 22 years he has lived in fear of the future, and finally it is coming - quite literally - across the plain towards him. Chinese airships are in the skies and a strange, glacial structure has begun to dominate the horizon. Jake finds himself forcibly incorporated into the ever-expanding 'World of Levels' a global city of some 34 billion souls, where social status is reflected by how far above the ground you live. Here, under the rule of the mighty Tsao Ch'un, a resurgent China is seeking to abolish the past and bring about world peace through rigidly enforced order. But a civil war looms, and Jake will find himself at the heart of the struggle for the future."
Conan's Brethren by Robert E. Howard
(Gollancz 20 January 2011 / £20.00) - Product Description: A sumptuous collection of epic fantasy heroes from the pen of Robert E. Howard, one of the true Masters of Fantasy.
The Bitter Seed of Magic (Spellcrackers) by Suzanne McLeod
(Gollancz 17 February 2011 / £12.99) - Product Description: Genny's an expert at 'cracking' spells, but when it comes to 'cracking' an 80-year-old curse she knows she's in trouble.
Spellwright (Spell 1) by Blake Charlton
(Harper Voyager 03 March 2011 / £7.99) - When the hardcover of Blake Charlton's Spellwright was released last year, there was a huge online campaign to get the word out. It seemed that everywhere I looked online there was massive visibility for this book - on Facebook, in Twitter feeds and in articles and interviews with the author on numerous genre related sites. That's how it's done folks! Get yourself and your novel out there, right in the face of those who might be interested in buying it. That it received consistently excellent reviews didn't exactly harm matters - and now Voyager issue their mass market paperback edition.
"In a world where words can come to life, an inability to spell can be a dangerous thing. And no one knows this better than apprentice wizard Nicodemus Weal.
Nicodemus Weal is a cacographer, unable to reproduce even simple magical texts without 'misspelling' – a mistake which can have deadly consequences. He was supposed to be the Halcyon, a magic-user of unsurpassed power, destined to save the world; instead he is restricted to menial tasks, and mocked for his failure to live up to the prophecy. But not everyone interprets prophecy in the same way. There are some factions who believe a cacographer such as Nicodemus could hold great power – power that might be used as easily for evil as for good. And when two of the wizards closest to Nicodemus are found dead, it becomes clear that some of those factions will stop at nothing to find the apprentice and bend him to their will…"
Hodder & Stoughton
One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde
(Hodder & Stoughton 22 February 2011 / £16.99) - One of the best things about having done this column for so many years is seeing author's whose début novels I covered now regularly scaling the heights of the best seller lists. Since The Eyre Affair first appeared back in 2001, Jasper Fforde has gone on to great things, with several novels following the adventures of heroine Thursday Next, as well as novels in two other series and, most recently a children's novel.
With all these other projects on the go, Fforde has given Thursday a rest for the last few years, but now she's back... well, not, actually. She's missing, as the title of this new book, One of Our Thursdays is Missing suggests! This new book, the sixth in this particular series is now released in hard cover by Hodder.
"Jasper Fforde's exuberant return to the fantastical BookWorld opens during a time of great unrest. All-out Genre war is rumbling, and the BookWorld desperately needs a heroine like Thursday Next. But with the real Thursday apparently retired to the Realworld, the Council of Genres turns to the written Thursday.
The Council wants her to pretend to be the real Thursday and travel as a peacekeeping emissary to the warring factions. A trip up the mighty Metaphoric River beckons-a trip that will reveal a fiendish plot that threatens the very fabric of the BookWorld itself.
Once again New York Times bestselling author Jasper Fforde has a field day gleefully blending satire, romance, and thriller with literary allusions galore in a fantastic adventure through the landscape of a frisky and fertile imagination. Fans will rejoice that their favorite character in the Fforde universe is back."
Embassytown by China Mieville
(Macmillan 06 May 2011 / £17.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The loudly lauded China Miéville delivers another soon-to-be loudly lauded novel in the form of Embassytown - this time venturing into more orthodox science fictional areas than we've perhaps seen previously in his work. This new novel is presented in an all new livery by Macmillan, who are re-jacketing and reissuing Mieville's entire backlist in a very smart, eye-catching and iconic branding.
The author recently scooped both the Hugo and the World Fantasy Award for his previous novel The City and the city and if you've not yet dipped into his extraordinary work, you'd do well to come out from that rock you've been living under. Embassytown hits bookstores in May.
"Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe.
Avice is an immerser, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here on Arieka, humans are not the only intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts - who cannot lie.
Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes.
Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is for her to speak directly to the alien Hosts.
And that is impossible. "
Changes (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher
(Orbit 03 March 2011 / £7.99) - The twelfth title in Jim Butcher's evergreen and hugely popular Harry Dresden series. Changes is now released in mass market paperback by Orbit.
"I answered the phone, no big deal, until I heard the message: 'They've taken our daughter.' Harry Dresden, professional wizard, has never faced anything like this. Arianna Ortega, Red Court vampire, blames Harry for her husband's death - and she's out for revenge. So her discovery that Susan Rodriguez had borne Harry a daughter was an unexpected gift. Arianna's next step was to kidnap the girl and she plans to use her blood in a violent ritual sacrifice designed to kill Harry, Susan and their daughter. With the White Council of Wizards and the Red Court in a state of detente, Harry finds himself alone except for a handful of allies - resources utterly inadequate to challenging the Red King and his entire vampire Court. With the life of his child at stake, Susan's humanity hanging in precarious balance and with his own death looming, Dresden must find a new source of strength. In the past, there had always been a line Harry wouldn't cross, and though dark powers have tempted him time and again, he never gave in. But then, only his own life was at stake. "
Kings of the North (Paladin's Legacy) by Elizabeth Moon
(Orbit 24 March 2011 / £7.99) - Elizabeth Moon is one of those writers who seem equally at home either side of the SF / Fantasy divide. Well known as a Military SF author, for her brilliant Nebula award winning Speed of Darkand also for her collaborations with Ann McCaffrey, Moon's Paksenarrion series is a firm favourite in many a fantasy fan's formative reading. Oath of Fealty marked the start of another fantasy sequence in the Paksennarion world, a return welcomed by a huge amount of readers. Orbit now publish the second volume in this latest sequence, Kings of the North here in the UK.
"King Kieri's realm has been destabilised by political wrangling and his court is blind to the dangers - until an assassination attempt on their king. And when this backfires, Kieri's enemies start planning an invasion using dragonfire, a force unseen for hundreds of years. In King Mikeli's adjoining kingdom, his crown is threatened by a bandit prince. Alured the Black claims his lineage gives him dominion over all the lands. His ambition is boundless, his methods are ruthless and he will not be swayed from his goal, whether or not it undermines a region already on the brink of war. Dark mages also watch for weakness and hunger for their own lost powers. The Kings of the North must plan wisely, as disaster is a sword's breadth away. "
River Marked (Mercy Thompson 6) by Patricia Briggs
(Orbit 03 March 2011 / £7.99) - The British edition of the sixth book in Patricia Briggs' compulsively readable Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series, River Marked is an Orbit paperback original - this one featuring a slightly different (and definitely improved) new cover look. Published simultaneously with the US edition released by Ace, .
"Car mechanic Mercy Thompson has always known there was something different about her, and not just the way she can make a VW engine sit up and beg. Mercy is a shapeshifter, a talent she inherited from her long-gone father. And she's never known any others of her kind. Until now. As Mercy comes to terms with this new information, an evil is stirring in the depths of the Columbia River. Something deadly is coming, facts are thin on the ground and Mercy feels ill at ease. However, her father's people may know more. To have any hope of surviving, Mercy and her mate, the Alpha werewolf Adam, will need all the resources the shifters can offer. Or death will be the least of their worries.
The Enterprise of Death by Jesse Bullington
(Orbit 03 March 2011 / £7.99) - Jesse Bullington follows up his extraordinary début The Sad Tale of The Brothers Grossbart (reviewed by Liz de Jager) with a another darkly comic offering cheerily entitled The Enterprise of Death.
Bullington is one of those rare writers who come along once every so often with a truly original vision. His work is quite unlike anything I have previously encountered - it is often sordid and grotesque, yet this is an author capable of great and profound insight, often conveyed via his equally finely tuned sense of the ridiculous. This new novel confirms the first was no fluke and makes it patently clear that Bullington is a very much name to watch. Highly recommended.
"As the witch-pyres of the Spanish Inquisition blanket Renaissance Europe in a moral haze, a young African slave is unwillingly apprenticed to an ancient necromancer. Her tormentor has bound her with a curse forged from blood and spirit. But salvation could lie in arcane writings her tutor has hidden on the war-torn continent.
Jesse Bullington casts his own macabre spell over the late middle ages in a work that becomes compulsive, amusing and horrifying in quick succession."
The Heir of Night (Wall of Night) by Helen Lowe
(Orbit 03 March 2011 / £12.99) - Orbit have a strong track record of spotting Antipodean talent and bringing it to readers in other territories. In recent years we've seen a whole host of fantastic fantasy writers from Australia and New Zealand emerge via the Orbit list - Glenda Larke, Jenny Fallon, Karen Miller, Trudi Canavan - and joining this list is Helen Lowe, whose new series begins with The Heir of Night. Published by Eos in the US, and already released by Orbit in the author's home territories, this first novel in Lowe's Wall of Night sequence is now published in trade paperback in the UK.
"The violence of an age-old war casts a long shadow. It falls on a world where mercy is weakness and conflict is a way of life. Young Malian is being trained to rule. Her people garrison the mountain range known as the Wall of Night against an ancient enemy, keeping a tide of shadow from the rest of their world. Malian is expected to uphold this tradition, yet she's known little of real danger until the enemy launches a direct attack upon her fortress home. In the darkest part of the night, the Keep of Winds becomes a bloodbath. Women and children, warriors and priests, are slain by creatures with twisted magic flowing in their veins. And as the castle wakes to chaos, Malian flees deep into the Old Keep, her life at stake. Then when the danger is greatest, her own hidden magic flares into life. But this untapped potential is a two-edged blade. If she accepts its power, she must prepare to pay the price."
The Orphaned Worlds (Humanitys Fire 2) by Michael Cobley
(Orbit 03 March 2011 / £7.99) - Scottish author Michael Cobley, perhaps best known thus far for his Shadowkings fantasy trilogy, returned to his science fiction roots last year with Seeds of Earth, the first novel in a major new space opera series (subtitled Humanity's Fire) and a book that was enthusiastically received by readers and critics alike.
The second in the series, The Orphaned Worlds is now published in mass market paperback by Orbit.
"Darien is no longer a lost outpost of humanity, but the prize in an intergalactic power struggle. Hegemony forces have a stranglehold over the planet and crack troops patrol its hotspots while Earth watches, passive, rendered impotent by galactic politics. But its Darien ambassador will soon become a player in a greater conflict. There is more at stake than a turf war on a newly discovered world. An ancient Uvovo temple hides access to a hyperspace prison, housing the greatest threat sentient life has ever known. Millennia ago, malignant intelligences were caged there following an apocalyptic war. And their servants work on their release. However, Darien's guardians have not been idle, gathering resistance on the planet's forest moon. Knowledge has been lost since great races battled in eons past, and now time is short. The galaxy will depend on the Uvovo reclaiming their past - and humanity must look to its future. For a new war is coming. "
The Hunting Ground by Cliff McNish
(Orion Childrens 05 May 2011 / £14.99) - Uncorrected proof Copy: The forthcoming novel from the highly acclaimed author of Savannah Grey, Cliff McNish.
Born in Sunderland, McNish has spent most of his life in the southeast of England. His first book was The Doomspell, inspired by a story he told his young daughter. Since then he has published The Silver Sequence and the highly-acclaimed stand-alone supernatural thrillers, Breathe (winner of the Salford and Calderdale book awards) and Angel. His books have been translated into 17 languages, and are published to acclaim in the US. This new novel The Hunting Ground is due from Orion Children's in May.
"When Elliott and his brother, Ben, move into the old and crumbling Glebe House they don't expect to find themselves sharing it with ghosts. But soon sinister events are unfolding. An old diary reveals glimpses of the mansion's past - and of a terrible tragedy. A mysterious woman talks to the dead. And evil lurks in the East Wing - a hideous labyrinth of passageways devised by a truly twisted mind. Can Elliott and his family escape the clutches of Glebe House? Or will they be trapped in the maze of corridors, forever hunted by the dead?"
The Ritual by Adam Nevill
(Pan 06 May 2011 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: It's hard to believe that it's seven years since I reviewed Neville's super-creepy M.R. Jamesean spook story Banquet For The Damned - it's a book that has certainly stayed with me in the intervening time. It was duly trumped tenfold when Neville's brilliant Apartment 16 (follow the link for my review) was released by Pan Macmillanlast May, the first title in a auction deal in which Macmillan triumphed. Now the second book in that deal, The Ritual is due for release this coming May - which is clearly becoming the fashionable month for Neville fans to be scared out of their wits!
"And on the third day things did not get better. The rain fell hard and cold, the white sun never broke through the low grey cloud, and they were lost. But it was the dead thing they found hanging from a tree that changed the trip beyond recognition.
When four old University friends set off into the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle, they aim to briefly escape the problems of their lives and reconnect with one another. But when Luke, the only man still single and living a precarious existence, finds he has little left in common with his well-heeled friends, tensions rise.
With limited fitness and experience between them, a shortcut meant to ease their hike turns into a nightmare scenario that could cost them their lives. Lost, hungry, and surrounded by forest untouched for millennia, Luke figures things couldn't possibly get any worse.
But then they stumble across an old habitation. Ancient artefacts decorate the walls and there are bones scattered upon the dry floors. The residue of old rites and pagan sacrifice for something that still exists in the forest. Something responsible for the bestial presence that follows their every step. And as the four friends stagger in the direction of salvation, they learn that death doesn't come easy among these ancient trees..."
Red Moon Productions Limited
Veterans of the Psychic Wars by Wayne Gerard Trotman
(Red Moon Productions Limited 01 January 2011 / £14.99) - A self-published science fiction novel by Wayne Gerard Trotman. Copies are available from Red Moon Productions.
"In a distant galaxy known as the Cosmic Sea, Baron Seti Aljyk has caused the Second Psychic War by seizing Najura, the last of the ancient swords of power, and usurping the imperial throne from Sakara Rey, the True Emperor. On Earth, young schoolteacher Roman Doyle remains unaware he is Prince Armon Sakara, heir apparent of the True Emperor. That is, until he encounters Chi-Ro Jin, a Veteran of the Psychic Wars. Chi-Ro's mission is to return Roman to the True Emperor, but Roman believes that Chi-Ro is crazy. When Roman's wife, Soraya, is abducted by the Baron's assassins, Roman is forced to make the epic journey to the Cosmic Sea. However he does not go alone. He is joined by his shamira Chi-Ro, Nuri Nemsys a beautiful secret agent, Anah Sadaka the mysterious captain of the Starglider Sanura and Roman's friend, Zachary Silverman, a quantum physicist. With his dormant psychic and astral abilities awakened by an alien drug and pursued by the Baron's assassins, Roman, his friend, and the Veterans of the Psychic Wars face evil and danger in uncharted space and on alien worlds. Roman must overcome his fears, master the martial art of Hatari Ikou, and learn the secrets of astral projection, in order to rescue his wife, retrieve the sword of power, and bring the Psychic Wars to an end. "
Cloneworld (Combat-K) by Andy Remic
(Solaris 03 March 2011 / £7.99) - Andy Remic's latest Combat-Knovel Cloneworld (the fourth in this sequence) - another no-holds-barred-kick-ass-out-and-out-SF-adventure novel... irrefutable proof that hyphens can kill! Cloneworld is published in mass market paperback by Solaris.
"Junks, an evil alien scourge, are flooding Quad-Gal with terror and Combat K are sent on a mission to find an elusive alien retrovirus which can be used against the enemy. SLAM-dropped to Cloneworld - a planet ravaged by violent civil war - not only are Combat K hunted by elite junk assassins, but they get caught in a global conflict between augmented mechanised war machines and genetically modified humans who have the ability to clone themselves. Combat K must fight their way to victory to save the Four Galaxies. But how can they possibly succeed, when their main foe are their own elite and deadly clones?"
Loss of Separation by Conrad Williams
(Solaris 03 March 2011 / £7.99) - A new novel from the dark, twisted and highly articulate imagination of Conrad Williams, one of the UK's classiest and most disturbing horror writers. A paperback original from Solaris.
"A plane crash survivor questions sanity when the world that he has built for himself in a new town is suddenly thrown into doubt by terrifying discoveries and the revelations they bring about."
The Kings of Eternity by Eric Brown
(Solaris 01 April 2011 / £7.99) - A writer I have always felt much under-rated, British SF author Eric Brown has found a very supportive publisher in Solaris, who proudly continue their association with this B format release his latest novel, The Kings of Eternity.
"1999, on the threshold of a new millennium, the novelist Daniel Langham lives a reclusive life on an idyllic Greek island, hiding away from humanity and the events of the past. All that changes, however, when he meets artist Caroline Platt and finds himself falling in love. But what is his secret, and what are the horrors that haunt him? 1935. Writer Jonathon Langham and Edward Vaughan are summoned from London by their editor friend Jasper Carnegie to help investigate strange goings on in Hopton Wood. What they discover there - no less than a strange creature from another world - will change their lives for ever. What they become, and their link to the novelist of the future, is the subject of Eric Brown's most ambitious novel to date. Almost ten years in the writing, The Kings of Eternity is a novel of vast scope and depth, full of the staple tropes of the genre and yet imbued with humanity and characters you'll come to love."
Heaven's Shadow by David S Goyer
(Tor 01 July 2011 / £17.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Prepare yourselves for one of this summer's blockbuster releases... Heaven's Shadow is a lead title from Tor UK, a collaboration between the screenwriter of The Dark Night, David S. Goyer (and that is only one highlight of many on this chap's extraordinary resume) and Twilight Zone writer Michael Cassutt.
The first in a trilogy, this book is described as "... a pulse-pounding novel that combines all the pace and thrilling action of Michael Crichton combined with the traditional science fiction imagination of Arthur C. Clarke" and with the movie rights having been snapped up by Warner in a massive seven figure deal, this one is going to be big!. Due from Tor UK in July.
"Heaven's Shadow begins with the discovery of an object of unknown origin headed toward Earth. Speculation as to what it might be runs high, and leads to an international competition to be the first to land on it, to claim both the prestige and whatever other benefits there might be. Thus, two rival teams of astronauts begin a thrilling and dangerous race – but what they find when they reach their goal will turn out to be unlike anything they could have imagined...
What they have landed on is no asteroid but a spacecraft from a civilization that has travelled tens of thousands of years to reach earth. While the team try to work out what it is they are needed for, more sinister occurrences cause them to wonder if their involvement with this alien race will lead to anything but harm for humanity. "
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