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UK Books Received- 06/2011  Next Month / Last Month
In order to provide timely reviews, we prefer to receive Advance Reader Copies of books when possible. Send books to Gayle Surrette c/o SFRevu, 16440 Baden Westwood Road Brandywine, MD 20613

Abaddon Books

Anno Frankenstein (Pax Britannia) by Jonathan Green (Abaddon Books 12 May 2011 / £7.99) - Timely competition for the Titan reissue of Kim Newman's classic Anno Dracula is this new title in Abaddon's likeable and popular dark steampunk series Pax Brittania, created and admirably maintained by Jonathan Green.

Greens latest addition to the series is Anno Frankenstein and is similar to the Newman in that it's an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink type book - there's time travel, evil Nazi's, characters 'borrowed' from various other works all bound together with lashings of swash-bucle and high-jinx. Much dark fun.

"Ulysses Quicksilver, agent of the crown, jumps into a time vortex pursuing Daniel Dashwood, a madman bent on sharing modern technology with Hitler’s forces and changing history to suit his evil ends. Rewind several decades, to the time of the Second Great War, to Darmstadt. The Nazis are battling the steampunk empire of Magna Britannia, cooking up necrotic super-soldiers in the gothic towers of Castle Frankenstein. In the forests outside the castle, other forces are gathering. Ulysses’ father is there, proving that dashing good looks and a talent for swashbuckling adventures run in the family, and wondering why his British masters have partnered him with weakling scientist Dr. Jekyll. The ladies of the Monstrous Regiment are also there to help, but there may be other gothic monsters in the hills..."


Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll (Bantam 12 May 2011 / ) - The first in a new urban fantasy series penned by Lee Carroll, a pseudonym of US author Carol Goodman and her husband, the poet Lee Slonimsky. Black Swan Rising is published in B Format by Bantam and a second title, The Watchtower will follow in August.

"New York jeweller Garet James has her fair share of problems: money, an elderly father, a struggling business. One day she comes across an antiques shop she’d never noticed before. The owner possesses an old silver box that’s been sealed shut. Would she help an old man and open it, perhaps? She does...and that night strange things begin to happen. It’s as if her world – our world – has shifted slightly, revealing another, parallel place that co-exists without our knowledge: the world of the Fey...

Garet learns that one of her ancestors was 'the Watchtower': an immortal chosen to stand guard over the human and the fey worlds – a role that she has, it seems, inherited from her mother. But the equilibrium between these two existences is under threat. The 16th-century magician and necromancer Dr John Dee has returned, the box has been opened and the demons of Despair and Discord released. In a race against time and impending apocalypse, it is Garet who must find Dee...and close the box."

The Necklace of the Gods by Alison Goodman (Bantam 26 May 2011 / £11.30) - Australian writer Alison Goodman's sequel to Two Pearls of Wisdom (which won the 2009 Aurealis warad for best fantasy novel). The Necklace of the Gods is published by Bantam.

"Once she was Eon, a girl disguised as a boy, risking her life for the chance to become a Dragoneye apprentice. Now she is Eona, thrust into the role of her country’s saviour.

But Eona has an even more dangerous secret — she cannot control her power. When she tries to bond with her Mirror Dragon, the anguish of the ten spirit beasts whose Dragoneyes were murdered surges through her. The result: a killing force that destroys everything before it. On the run from High Lord Sethon’s army, Eona and her friends must help the Pearl Emperor, Kygo, wrest back his throne. Everyone is relying on Eona’s power. Can she face her own darkness within, and drive a dangerous bargain with an old enemy? A wrong move could obliterate them all.

Against a thrilling backdrop of explosive combat, ruthless power struggles and exotic lore, Eona is the gripping story of a remarkable warrior who must find the strength to walk a deadly line between truth and justice. Full of pulse-racing drama, heart-stirring romance, dazzling fight scenes, and myriad surprises, The Necklace of the Gods brings this extraordinarily imagined and exciting fantasy epic to a resounding climax."

The Tales Of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, Vol 1 (Malazan Empire) by Steven Erikson (Bantam 26 May 2011 / £7.99) - Steven Erikson's almost unbelievably epic Masterwork series The Malazan Books of the Fallen has been causing the shelves of reader to bow since the first one, Gardens of the Moon appeared ten years ago. Since then Erikson's steady output, both in terms of quality and regularity is a shining example of how to build a career in today's publishing world. He's a writer whose work will still be read for decades.

Bantam now release the mass market edition of The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, Vol 1 - a sequence of three short novels (perhaps novellas would be a better description) originally published by PS Publishing in limited editions. Blood Follows, The Lees of Laughter's End and The Healthy Dead are here presented together in a single volume.

""Blood Follows" - In the port city of Lamentable Moll, a diabolical killer stalks the streets and panic grips the citizens like a fever. As Emancipor Reese's legendary ill luck would have it, his previous employer is the unknown killer's latest victim. But two strangers have come to town, and they have posted in Fishmonger's Round a note, reeking of death-warded magic, requesting the services of a manservant. "The Lees Of Laughter's End" - After their blissful sojourn in Lamentable Moll, the sorcerers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach - along with their manservant, Emancipor Reese - set out on the open seas aboard the sturdy ship Suncurl. Alas, there's more baggage in the hold than meets the beady eyes of the crew, and unseemly terrors awaken. For Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, and Emancipor Reese, it is just one more night on the high seas, on a journey without end. "The Healthy Dead" - The city of Quaint's zeal for goodness can be catastrophic, and no one knows this better than Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, two stalwart champions of all things bad. The homicidal necromancers - and their substance-addled manservant, Emancipor Reese - find themselves ensnared in a scheme to bring goodness into utter ruination. Sometimes you must bring down the name of civilization. "

Bantam Press

Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley (Bantam Press 21 July 2011 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: A really nice blurb from Neil Gaiman blares out from the PR material for Maria Dahvana Headley's new book Queen of Kings. He says "It's rare that a first novel is so magical, so dark, so well-researched, so smart or so compelling." - not "so so" then, it would seem.

Due to be published next month by Bantam, Queen of Kings opens a trilogy of historical novels that tell of an immortal Cleopatra through the ages.

"What if Cleopatra didn’t die in 30 BC alongside her beloved Mark Antony? What if she couldn’t die? What if she became immortal? Queen of Kings is the first instalment in an epic, epoch-spanning story of one woman’s clash with the Roman Empire and the gods of Egypt in a quest to save everything she holds dear. As Octavian Caesar (later Augustus) and his legions march into Alexandria, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, summons Sekhmet, the goddess of Death and Destruction, in a desperate attempt to resurrect her husband, who has died by his own hand, and save her kingdom. But this deity demands something in return: Cleopatra's soul. Against her will, Egypt's queen becomes a blood-craving, shape-shifting immortal: a not-quite-human manifestation of a goddess who seeks to destroy the world. Battling to preserve something of her humanity, Cleopatra pursues Octavian back to Rome - she desires revenge, she yearns for her children - and she craves blood...

It is a dangerous journey she must make. She will confront witches, mythic monsters, the gods of ancient Greece and Rome, and her own, warring nature. She will kill but she will also find mercy. She will raise an extraordinary army to fight her enemies, and she will see her beloved Antony again. But to save him from the endless torment of Hades, she must make a devastating sacrifice."


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Century 18 August 2011 / £11.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: It's really great to see some movement in publishing circles resulting in houses not normally associated with genre material, or who have dabbled with it only intermittently in recent years, are once again looking to compete in what is clearly a buoyant market.

In August, Random House UK's Century imprint will re-enter the genre fray in style with Ready Player One, the much hyped debut by Ernest Cline, which sold for big bucks in a blaze of publicity, a deal further buzzed when Warner Bros snapped up the movie rights. R.P.1 will hit books stores both sides of the Atlantic in mid August.

"A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready?

It's the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We're out of oil. We've wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based on Halliday’s obsession with 80s pop culture. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle. Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed."

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Conviction by Aaron Allston (Century 19 May 2011 / £18.99) - Following their big back list push on the eye-catching Star Wars novels, Random House UK finally catch up with their US counterparts at Lucas Book with the release, in hard cover of continues with the release of Conviction, a brand new 'Fate of the Jedi' story penned by popular Star Wars author Aaron Allston.

"Chief of State Natasi Daala has been overthrown, and the Jedi Order has taken control of the Galactic Alliance. But while the new governors dismantle Daala’s draconian regime, forces still loyal to the deposed official are mobilizing a counterstrike. And even the Jedi’s new authority may not be enough to save Tahiri Veila, the former Jedi Knight and onetime Sith apprentice convicted of treason for the killing of Galactic Alliance officer Gilad Pellaeon.

Meanwhile, Luke and Ben Skywalker are relentlessly pursuing Abeloth, the powerful dark-side entity bent on ruling the galaxy. But as they corner their monstrous quarry on the planet Nam Chorios, the two lone Jedi must also face the fury of the Sith death squadron bearing down on them. And when Abeloth turns the tables with an insidious ambush, the Skywalkers’ quest threatens to become a suicide mission. "


Moondance of Stonewylde by Kit Berry (Gollancz 02 June 2011 / £7.99) - Kit Berry's Stonewylde YA books have a large and faithful fanbase after they originally appeared as self-published novels supported by an excellent internet presence. Following their publication last month of the first book in the sequence, Gollancz now publish the second, Moondance of Stonewylde in a mass market edition.

"The cracks are beginning to show in the idyllic Stonewylde community. As Yul and Sylvie's forbidden friendship grows into something deeper, Magus' true nature starts to emerge through his charming facade. Ever since Yul defied him at the Summer Solstice, his power has been waning, and his mood darkening. Yul is the problem - and Magus is going to deal with him. Nobody challenges his authority and survives. Sylvie is in danger too. Magus has discovered her secret and now, for all its beauty, her magical gift and Magus' desire to possess it is putting her life at risk. As each full moon rises Sylvie is made to suffer more, and the agony she endures as her magic is stolen leaves her increasingly exhausted, sapping her will to fight back. Unless Magus can be stopped, every full moon could be Sylvie's last. As glorious summer turns to golden autumn, the magic of Stonewylde is becoming a curse to the very people it should nurture... Are Yul and Sylvie the only ones who see the truth behind Magus' mask of kindness? Why is everyone so deceived by his charm - and why is Mother Heggy, the mysterious wise-woman the only one who will help them? The darkness of winter is coming, and as it does Sylvie and Yul's lives hang by a whisker. Either they will save each other, or history will repeat itself at the sinister standing stone above the cliffs."

The Order of the Scales by Stephen Deas (Gollancz 19 May 2011 / £12.99) - Stephen Deas's final volume in his much acclaimed dragon fantasy series that began with The Adamantine Palace. Following the second volume, The King of Crags, the trilogy wraps up with The Order of the Scales, now published in trade paperback by Gollancz. And who can argue with a Joe Abercombie cover quote that describes Deas's work as 'Fast, sharp and ruthless!

"As the various factions fight for control of the Adamatine Palace mankinds nemesis approaches. The realms dragons are awakening from their alchemical sedation and returning to their native fury. They can remember why they were created and they now know what mankind has done to them. And their revenge will be brutal. As hundreds of dragons threaten a fiery apocalypse only the Adamantine Guard stand between humanity and extinction. Can Prince Jehal fight off the people who want him dead and unite their armies in one final battle for survival? Noted for its blistering pace, awesome dragons and devious polticking Stephen Deas's landmark fantasy trilogy moves to a terrifying epic conclusion in The Order of the Scales."

Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer (Gollancz 19 May 2011 / £12.99) - The ever industrious Canadian author Robert J. Sawyer is seeing some long deserved top-tier success in the wake is the television serious Flashforward which was based on his 1999 novel of the same name. Here in the UK Gollancz have been publishing Sawyer's latest SF series, the "WWW" trilogy, a cyber-thriller that began with Wake and Watch and now concludes with Wonder which is released in trade paperback.

"The Internet has become sentient. The world's governments are terrified, it seems the evolution of a new intelligence might have left mankind behind. It is up to one blind girl, a maths genius, to convince mankind that this new digital life is not its enemy. Perfect for fans of Charles Stross and Vernor Vinge this is a rich imagining of a future that may be just around the corner. "


The Fall by Guillermo del Toro (Harper 09 June 2011 / £7.99) - The second collaboration between Hollywood director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) and author Chuck Hogan and a follow-up to their acclaimed hit of last year The Strain. The Fall is now published in mass market paperback.

"Humans have been displaced at the top of the food chain, and now understand – to their outright horror – what it is to be not the consumer, but the consumed.

Ephraim Goodweather, director of the New York office of the Centers for Disease control, is one of the few humans who understands what is really happening. Vampires have arrived in New York City, and their condition is contagious. If they cannot be contained, the entire world is at risk of infection. As Eph becomes consumed with the battle against the total corruption of humanity, his ex-wife, Kelly, now a vampire herself, is ever-more determined to claim their son, Zack.

As the Biblical origins of the Ancient ones are gradually revealed, Eph learns that there is a greater, more terrible plan in store for the human race – worse even than annihilation"

Harper Voyager

The Desert Spear: Monsters Do Not Always Hide In The Shadows by Peter V. Brett (Harper Voyager 28 April 2011 / £7.99) - Few fantasy authors have made quite the impression in the last couple of years that Peter V. Brett has - even fewer on the reputation of only a single novel. The Painted Man which I reviewed in our September 2008 issue, was a fantastic example of modern day commercial fantasy. It was a great success for the author, for UK publisher HarperCollins Voyager, and for publishers in the many, many territories into which it subsequently sold. And let's not forget the film rights which sold to the team behind Resident Evil. All in all, a pretty successful début!

Brett's highly anticipated sequel The Desert Spear had been eagerly awaited by legions of fans and Amazon pre-orders had the book ranking highly weeks before publication. Now Voyager release the mass market paperback and once you've lapped it up, you'll find an exclusive taster excerpt at the back for the third book in this series, The Daylight War.

"The Deliverer has returned, but who is he? Arlen Bales, formerly of the small hamlet of Tibbet's Brook, learnt harsh lessons about life as he grew up in a world where hungry demons stalk the night and humanity is trapped by its own fear. He chose a different path; chose to fight inherited apathy and the corelings, and eventually he became the Painted Man, a reluctant saviour. But the figure emerging from the desert, calling himself the Deliverer, is not Arlen. He is a friend and betrayer, and though he carries the spear from the Deliverer's tomb, he also heads a vast army intent on a holy war against the demon plague! and anyone else who stands in his way. "


The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma (HarperCollins 09 June 2011 / £12.99) - There's a rich tradition of books by European authors (or sometime by US authors, but set in Europe) which span the boundaries between what publishing regards as mainstream literature and genre. Recent examples include the work of Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Seldon Edward's The Little Book.

Felix Palma is an established prize-winning Spanish author whose novel The Map of Time is the latest to fit this criteria. A bestseller in europe, it has been translated into 20 languages and is only now appearing in English for the very first time - published in trade paperback by Harpercollins.

"An epic, ambitious and page-turning mystery that will appeal to fans of The Shadow of the Wind, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and The Time Traveller’s Wife.

London, 1896. Andrew Harrington is young, wealthy and heartbroken. His lover Marie Kelly was murdered by Jack the Ripper and he longs to turn back the clock and save her.

Meanwhile, Claire Haggerty rails against the position of women in Victorian society. Forever being matched with men her family consider suitable, she yearns for a time when she can be free to love whom she choses.

But hidden in the attic of popular author – and noted scientific speculator – H.G. Wells is a machine that will change everything. As their quests converge, it becomes clear that time is the problem – to escape it, to change it, might offer them the hope they need..."


Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth (Hodder 26 May 2011 / £6.99) - "A fast-paced, adrenaline-fuelled conspiracy thriller... 24 with a supernatural twist."

Christopher Farnsworth's debut - Blood Oath is now published here in mass market paperback by Hodder. Interestingly the cover look of this paperback edition differs radically from the approach used on the original TPB release - make of that what you will.

"'There are worse things in this world than al-Qaeda and North Korea, Zach. And they are just waiting for their chance at us.'

Sharp and ambitious, Zach Barrows is on his way up. But when he gets a call from the White House, it's not quite the promotion he expected. Zach is to be the new political liaison officer to America's best kept secret: Nathaniel Cade. The President's vampire. And Cade is the world's only hope against a horrifying new terrorist threat advancing from the Middle East. The fight is deadlier than ever, and time is running out . . . "

Michael Joseph

The Power of Six (Lorien Legacies) by Pittacus Lore (Michael Joseph 23 August 2011 / £12.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: I am Number Four set the news wires alight when the original acquisition was reported a couple of years ago. A teen-centric SF thriller by one 'Pittacus Lore' (which is little internet digging reveals to be the pen-name of Oprah favourite and author of A Million Little Pieces James Frey and newcomer Jobie Hughes, a movie of the same name soon followed.

Sequel The Power of Six will be published this coming August in two separate editions - one aimed at adults (Michael Joseph) and the other towards the teen market (Razorbill).

"I've seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened to John Smith. To the world he's a mystery, but to me ... he's one of us. Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us, if we all still believe in our mission.

There are six of us left. We're hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another, but our Legacies are developing and soon we'll be ready to fight. Is John Number Four - and is his appearance the sign I've been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who might be strong enough to bring the six of us together?

They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio ... and failed. I am Number Seven. And I'm ready to fight."


Deadline (Newsflesh Trilogy) by Mira Grant (Orbit 02 June 2011 / £7.99) - This time last year I speculated that Mira Grant's Feed might be the surprise hit of the summer, having heard such very good things about it on the grapevine. Given that it has been short-listed for this year's Hugo award, I can smugly say I got that one right!

Now Mira Grant - whom you may have encountered in her other guise as the very talented fantasy author Seanan McGuire offers up her follow-up to Feed, consisting of further adventures with zombie and entitled Deadline and it is released by Orbit in B format.

"Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organisation he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has. But when a researcher from the Centre for Disease Control fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun's relieved to find a new purpose in life. Because this researcher comes bearing news: the monster who attacked them may be destroyed, but the conspiracy is far from dead. Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun."

Leviathan Wakes: Book One of the Expanse series (Expanse 1) by James S. A. Corey (Orbit 02 June 2011 / ) - A lead title for Orbit on both sides of the Atlantic, and one that proves that science fiction - Science Fiction, I should say - is as fresh and exciting as it ever was. (I've heard many commentators posit otherwise, so in yer face, bloggersphere!).

Leviathan Wakes is a wide-screen space adventure that is as intriguing as it is exciting and as punchy as it is pacey. Author James S.A. Corey is the writing name of the ubiquitous and brilliant Daniel Abraham and newcomer, Ty Franck and further books in this Expanse series will follow. My pick of the month for sure.

"Humanity has colonized the planets - interstellar travel is still beyond our reach, but the solar system has become a dense network of colonies. But there are tensions - the mineral-rich outer planets resent their dependence on Earth and Mars and the political and military clout they wield over the Belt and beyond. Now, when Captain Jim Holden's ice miner stumbles across a derelict, abandoned ship, he uncovers a secret that threatens to throw the entire system into war. Attacked by a stealth ship belonging to the Mars fleet, Holden must find a way to uncover the motives behind the attack, stop a war and find the truth behind a vast conspiracy that threatens the entire human race. "

The Final Evolution (Avery Cates 5) by Jeff Somers (Orbit 02 June 2011 / £7.99) - The concluding Avery Cates novel from Jeff Somers by way of Orbit UK. I was impressed by the first title in this sequence, The Electric Church (reviewed back in our Oct 07 issue). The Final Evolution is a paperback original.

"The world is dying. With avatars replacing humans and the birth rate non-existent, the human race is almost extinct. Only one man could save it - and it's not Avery Cates. In the end, it comes down to Canny Orel, Avery's long sought after nemesis - transformed now into something other than human - and Cates. And when Cates chances on a way to trick the advantage away from the old master, he suddenly has a choice to make: get his long-delayed revenge, or save the world. "

The Map of All Things (Terra Incognita) by Kevin J. Anderson (Orbit 02 June 2011 / £8.99) - Book two of Kevin J. Anderson's Terra Incognita series is released in mass market paperback - The Map of All Things continues this epic fantasy of sailing ships, crusading armies, sea monsters and enchanted islands! What's not to like?

"After terrible atrocities by both sides, the religious war between Tierra and Uraba has spread and intensified - the series of skirmishes erupting into a full-blown crusade. Now that the Uraban leader Soldan-Shah Omra has captured the ruined city of Ishalem, his construction teams discover a priceless ancient map in an underground vault - a map that can guide brave explorers to the mysterious Key to Creation. Omra dispatches his adoptive son Saan to sail east across the uncharted Middlesea on a quest to find it. In Tierra, Captain Criston Vora has built a grand new vessel, and sets out to explore the great unknown and find the fabled land of Terravitae. But Criston cannot forget his previous voyage that ended in shipwreck and disaster ...and the loss of his beloved wife Adrea - who is now the wife of the soldan-shah in far-off Uraba, fighting to survive against palace intrigues and constant threats against her life. "


The Concrete Grove (The Concrete Grove Trilogy) by Gary McMahon (Solaris 07 July 2011 / £7.99) - British author Gary McMahon, an author really establishing himself at the forefront of the British horror scene, has a new novel published by Solaris. The Concrete Grove is a disturbing spine-tingler that in some ways hails the death of urban fantasy and the rise of urban horror. The author reports also that he has recently completed a second novel for Angry Robot. Great to see this talented writer becoming so prolific and equally great to see him supported by two such energetic publishing houses simultaneously.

"Imagine a place where all your nightmares become real. Think of dark urban streets where crime, debt and violence are not the only things to fear. Picture a housing project that is a gateway to somewhere else, a realm where ghosts and monsters stir hungrily in the shadows. Welcome to the Concrete Grove. It knows where you live... Gary McMahon's chilling horror trilogy shows us a Britain many of us will recognise, while whispering of the terrible and arcane presences clawing against the boundaries of our reality!"


Stands a Shadow (Heart of the World 2) by Col Buchanan (Tor 15 July 2011 / £17.99) - Uncorrected proof Copy: Col Buchanan's follow-up to his much lauded début Farlander. Stands a Shadow will be published in hardcover next month by Tor UK. Check out the author's web site for further details.

"Still grieving the death of her son, the Holy Matriarch of Mann has ordered her troops to embark on a mission to the Mercian Free Ports. Riding at the head of her army she plans to finally conquer the city of Bar-Khos, whose walls have kept them at bay for ten long years.

Ash has other plans for her. The old Rōshun warrior is determined that he will have vengeance for the crimes she has committed. But such a course of retribution is in direct opposition to everything he has lived for – this isn’t a Rōshun vendetta – it’s personal.

While Ash battles with his conscience, Ché, the Matriarch’s personal Diplomat and assassin, is questioning his own path. Watching as the Mannian army slaughters their way across the world, he wonders whether he believes any of the doctrine he has been taught to follow.

As the battle for Bar-Khos intensifies, more and more lives are affected: Bahn who leaves all he loves in the city to try to protect it from the ravening Mannian empire, Bull the murderer who senses a chance to make things right, and Curl, the young prostitute who is determined to seek her own retribution on the field of battle.

When the two armies clash – all looks set to be decided. But it’s not sheer force that will win this battle. But the tormented determination of one man seeking redemption..."

The Book of Transformations (Red Sun 3) by Mark Charan Newton (Tor 03 June 2011 / £17.99) - Mark Charan Newton's Legends of the Red Sun fantasy series, and in particular the début novel in the sequence , Nights of Villjamur has been a pick of the Tor UK list in recent years. They now publish a third novel The Book of Transformation, in hard cover.

"A new and corrupt Emperor seeks to rebuild the ancient structures of Villjamur to give the people of the city hope in the face of great upheaval and an oppressing ice age. But when a stranger called Shalev arrives, empowering a militant underground movement, crime and terror becomes rampant. The Inquisition is always one step behind, and military resources are spread thinly across the Empire. So Emperor Urtica calls upon cultists to help construct a group to eliminate those involved with the uprising, and calm the populace. But there’s more to The Villjamur Knights than just phenomenal skills and abilities - each have a secret that, if exposed, could destroy everything they represent. Investigator Fulcrom of the Villjamur Inquisition is given the unenviable task of managing the Knights’, but his own skills are tested when a mysterious priest, who has travelled from beyond the fringes of the Empire, seeks his help. The priest’s existence threatens the church, and his quest promises to unweave the fabric of the world. And in a distant corner of the Empire, the enigmatic cultist Dartun Súr steps back into this world, having witnessed horrors beyond his imagination. Broken, altered, he and the remnants of his cultist order are heading back to Villjamur. And all eyes turn to the Sanctuary City, for Villjamur’s ancient legends are about to be shattered..."

The Departure by Neal Asher (Tor 05 September 2011 / £17.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Endlessly imaginative, industrious and prolific, Neal Asher dishes up another of his tasty action-packed SF novels, and best of all, it's the first title in a brand new series to be known as the Owner Novels. The Departure will be published by Tor Uk this coming September. The Skinner, remains my favourite of this authors ever growing 'also by' list - if this latest is even half as good, then it'll be one of the this years's top SF picks.

"Visible in the night sky the Argus Station, its twin smelting plants like glowing eyes, looks down on nightmare Earth. From Argus the Committee keep an oppressive control: citizens are watched by cams systems and political officers, it's a world inhabited by shepherds, reader guns, razor birds and the brutal Inspectorate with its white tiled cells and pain inducers.

Soon the Committee will have the power to edit human minds, but not yet, twelve billion human being need to die before Earth can be stabilized, but by turning large portions of Earth into concentration camps this is achievable, especially when the Argus satellite laser network comes fully online...

This is the world Alan Saul wakes to in his crate on the conveyor to the Calais incinerator. How he got there he does not know, but he does remember the pain and the face of his interrogator. Informed by Janus, through the hardware implanted in his skull, about the world as it is now Saul is determined to destroy it, just as soon as he has found out who he was, and killed his interrogator..."


On The Third Day by Rhys Thomas (Transworld 12 May 2011 / £8.99) - An ambitious post-apocalyptic tale by Welsh author Rhys Thomas, author of The Suicide Club. On The Third Day is pitched as 28 Days Later meets The Survivors. In SF terms, this is not exactly ground-breaking stuff, so one hopes that Thomas brings something new and exciting to the party. Now released in mass market paperback by the Random House imprint, Black Swan.

"Society is on the brink of collapse. The Old World is vanishing, the New World is taking over. There are no rules. Not now that a deadly disease is spreading that causes its victims to turn violent. Previously loving people become murderous. No-one can tell who will turn and who will not. This is a work of force and dark brilliance - the perfect expression of the terrors of the 21st Century. "

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