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UK Books Received- 02/2012  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

Angry Robot

Carpathia (Angry Robot) by Matt Forbeck (Angry Robot 01 March 2012 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Matt Forbeck is a relatively name new to me or was until the appearance of his recent, much lauded Angry Robot releases, Amortals and the more recent Vegas Nights. If you're a fan of Black Library, you'll know Forbeck as the author of four novels in the Blood Bowl series and if you're a RPGer he'll be familiar to you as the creator of Brave New World and the author of tonnes of gaming resources. He is clearly a creative force to be reckoned with and so hats off to Angry Robot for extending Forbeck's repertoire with a third novel Carpathia, which has one of the best hooks I've seen in a while!

"All they dreamed of was rescue. And when the Carpathia steamed over the horizon, the survivors of the Titanic disaster thought their problems were over. But their rescue ship is carrying something. Something old, undying. Something hungry. The lucky ones went down with the ship, in this outrageous tale of icebergs... and vampires."

Dead Harvest (Angry Robot) by Chris F Holm (Angry Robot 01 March 2012 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: I've gotta hand it to Angry Robot - when they get a cover right, they do so emphatically. I LOVE the cover (courtesy of design studio Amazing15) of this forthcoming début from US author Chris F. Holm. It's just awesome... and the book looks pretty cool too! Due out next month.

"Sam Thornton collects souls.

The souls of the damned, to be precise.

Once taken himself, he’s now doomed to ferry souls to hell for all eternity, in service of a debt he can never repay. But when he's dispatched to retrieve the soul of a girl he believes is innocent of the horrific crime for which she’s been damned, Sam does something no Collector has ever done before: he refuses."

Bantam

Shadow Heir (Dark Swan 4) by Richelle Mead (Bantam 02 February 2012 / £7.99) - Bantam's answer to the never ending appetite for Urban Fantasy is Richelle Mead, whose debut 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 Bantam release is Shadow Heir, the final volumein Mead's Dark Swan series, featuring shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham.

"Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham strives to keep the mortal realm safe from trespassing entities. But as the Thorn Land's prophecy-haunted queen, there's no refuge for her and her soon-to-be-born children when a mysterious blight begins to devastate the Otherworld...

The spell-driven source of the blight isn't the only challenge to Eugenie's instincts. Fairy king Dorian is sacrificing everything to help, but Eugenie can't trust the synergy drawing them back together. The uneasy truce between her and her shape shifter ex-lover Kiyo is endangered by secrets he can't - or won't - reveal. And as a formidable force rises to also threaten the human world, Eugenie must use her own cursed fate as a weapon - and risk the ultimate sacrifice..."

The Crippled God: The Malazan Book of the Fallen 10 by Steven Erikson (Bantam 19 January 2012 / £8.99) - 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 published in mass market paperback 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.

The Necklace of the Gods by Alison Goodman (Bantam 16 February 2012 / £8.99) - Australian writer Alison Goodman's sequel to Two Pearls of Wisdom (which won the 2009 Aurealis award for best fantasy novel). The Necklace of the Gods is now published in mass market paperback 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."

Bantam Press

Orb Sceptre Throne (Malazan Empire 4) by Ian Cameron Esslemont (Bantam Press 19 January 2012 / £20.00) - Did I say that Malazan books were done? I lied! We may have had ten humongous novels from Steven Erikson, along with a number of shorter tales, but Malaz is not Erikson's creation alone.

Friend and colleague and Malazan Empire co-creator, Ian C. Esslemont has penned three solo novels of his own, set in this extraordinary and expansive universe. Esslemont's previous novels, Night of Knives, Return of the Crimson Guard and Stonewielder were published first as limited editions by PS Publishing and the same is the case with this new volume Orb, Sceptre, Throne. This release is the UK trade hard cover from Bantam.

"The tumult of great powers colliding has passed and the city of Darujhistan and its citizens can at last get on with what matters: trading, bickering, politicking and enjoying all the good things in life. However, not all are ready to leave the past behind. A treasure hunter, digging amongst the burial grounds that surround the city, is about to uncover a hidden crypt. He will open the last of a series of sealed vaults - the one that no other dared touch - and, in so doing, set free something so terrifying that the knowledge of its internment may have been systematically wiped from all history.

Fortune hunters are also at work far to the south. When a fragment of Moon's Spawn, once the home of Anomander Rake, Son of Darkness, crashed into the Rivan Sea it created a chain of small islands. Legends and rumours already surround them. The most potent of these is that here is hidden the Throne of Night, claimed by some to be the seat of Mother Dark herself. Either way, all who seek this ancient artefact - renegade mages, hardened mercenaries, even a Malazan army deserter - believe it will bestow unlimited power upon the eventual possessor. The stakes are high, greed is rife, betrayal inevitable, and murder and chaos lie in wait..."

This River Awakens by Steven Erikson (Bantam Press 19 January 2012 / £18.99) - An interesting reissue, this - Steven Erikson's very first novel The River Awakens, originally released as a Sphere paperback in the UK back in 1998 and published under his real name of Steve Lundin is now given a hardcover release under his more successful brand name of Steven Erikson.

The premise sounds a little like a Stephen King novel to me, so it'll be interesting to see if the droves of Malazan fans that Erikson has amassed over the last decade or so will find the same pleasures in this different strand of his writing. Published by Bantam.

"In the spring of 1971, Owen Brand and his family move to the riverside town of Middlecross in a renewed attempt to escape poverty. For twelve-year-old Owen, it's the opportunity for a new life and an end to his family's isolation and he quickly falls in with a gang of three local boys and forms a strong bond with Jennifer, the rebellious daughter of a violent, alcoholic father. As summer brings release from school, two figures preside over the boys' activities: Walter Gribbs, a benign old watchman at the yacht club, and Hogdson Fisk, a vindictive farmer tormented by his past. Then the boys stumble on a body washed up on the riverbank - a discovery whose reverberations will result, as the year comes full circle, in a cataclysm that envelops them all... a lyrical, tender and disturbing portrayal of a rite of passage that is both harsh and revelatory."

Berkely UK

Grave Dance by Kalayna Price (Berkely UK 02 February 2012 / £7.99) - Penguin's new Berkley UK imprint further their remit of bring the best in Urban Fantasy into our market, as provided - at least in these early days - by their sister/feeder imprints over in the US, namely Ace and Roc, who are collectively the biggest publisher of this type of fiction around.

The latest export/import is Kalayna Price's Alex Craft series, the second of which, Grave Dance is now given a UK paperback publication.

"Whoever said dead men tell no tales obviously never met Alex Craft.

After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a sorcerer, grave witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil thanks to the disappearance of Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews and a shocking “L” word confession from Death himself, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be a deadly challenge."

Century

Star Wars: Darth Plagueis by James Luceno (Century 19 January 2012 / £18.99) - Following their big back list push on the impossible-to-ignore Star Wars tie-in novels, Random House UK have just about caught up with their US counterparts at Lucas Book with their schedule of releases. The latest, James Luceno's Darth Plagueis a hard cover release that hits bookstore shelves here only one week later than the US release. May the Sales Force be with you!

"The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise: Once, not so long ago, there was a great Sith Lord called Darth Plagueis. So powerful and wise was Darth Plagueis that he could manipulate the dark side of the Force to save others from dying. Eventually Darth Plagueis became so powerful that the only thing he feared was losing his power. Then, as is the way of the Sith, he was murdered by his apprentice, Darth Sidious.

So went the tale told by Chancellor Palpatine--Darth Sidious himself--to Anakin Skywalker, and since that moment in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, fans have clamoured to know the true story of Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious. This stand-alone novel is a dark and moving tale of two Sith and their quest for ultimate power over life and death...."

Gollancz

Blue Remembered Earth (Poseidons Children 1) by Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz 19 January 2012 / £18.99) - Following the much publicised announcement of Alastair Reynolds's ten book, million pound deal with Orion, Reynolds now offers up the second novel of that weighty obligation. Blue Remembered Earth is now published in hardcover by Gollancz.

I've been a fan of Reynolds's work for nearly a decade (check out my 2001 interview with him and also my reviews of Chasm City, Diamond Dogs, Pushing Ice and Century Rain and am licking my lips at what's still to come from this exceptional SF author...

"One hundred and fifty years from now, in a world where Africa is the dominant technological and economic power, and where crime, war, disease and poverty have been banished to history, Geoffrey Akinya wants only one thing: to be left in peace, so that he can continue his studies into the elephants of the Amboseli basin. But Geoffrey's family, the vast Akinya business empire, has other plans. After the death of Eunice, Geoffrey's grandmother, erstwhile space explorer and entrepreneur, something awkward has come to light on the Moon, and Geoffrey is tasked - well, blackmailed, really - to go up there and make sure the family's name stays suitably unblemished. But little does Geoffrey realise - or anyone else in the family, for that matter - what he's about to unravel. Eunice's ashes have already have been scattered in sight of Kilimanjaro. But the secrets she died with are about to come back out into the open, and they could change everything. Or shatter this near-utopia into shards..."

In the Mouth of the Whale by Paul McAuley (Gollancz 19 January 2012 / £14.99) - Paul McAuley, is a prolific British an author whose work - which has covered a number of genre areas - I have admired for many years. (See these links for my reviews of his previous novels Mind's Eye, The Secret of Life and Whole Wide World)

McAuley now offers up a new SF novel set in the same world as his previous two releases,The Quiet War and Gardens of the Sun. In the Mouth of the Whale however, can be read as a stand-alone. Published by Gollancz in hard cover and trade paperback.

"Fomalhaut was first colonised by the posthuman Quick, who established an archipelago of thistledown cities and edenic worldlets within the star's vast dust belt. Their peaceful, decadent civilisation was swiftly conquered by a band of ruthless, aggressive, unreconstructed humans who call themselves the True, then, a century before, the True beat back an advance party of Ghosts, a posthuman cult which colonised the nearby system of Beta Hydri after being driven from the Solar System a thousand years ago. Now the Ghosts have returned to Fomalhaut, to begin their end game: the conquest of its single gas giant planet, a captured interstellar wanderer far older than the rest of Fomalhaut's system. At its core is a sphere of hot metallic hydrogen with strange and powerful properties based on exotic quantum physics. The Quick believe it is inhabited by an ancient alien Mind; the True believe it can be developed into a weapon, and the Ghosts believe it can be transformed into a computational system so powerful it can reach into their past, collapse timelines, and fulfil the ancient prophecies of their founder."

Transmission (Ragnarok 2) by John Meaney (Gollancz 19 January 2012 / £12.99) - The brilliant and prolific John Meaney (author of To Hold Infinity, Paradox, Bone Song and Dark Blood) makes a welcome return to hard SF with his Ragnarok trilogy, hailed by The Times as 'the author's most 'compelling and accomplished work yet'.

Transmission is the second book in Meaney's latest trilogy and is released by Gollancz in both hard cover and trade paperback.

"The dark matter in the universe is alive and is seeking to pervert human history to its own ends. Its influence has reached back into the dark ages, to the centre of the 3rd Reich and 600 years into the future. The Ragnarok universe not only provides a stunning SF rationale for Norse mythology but posits a world where pilots are locked into symbiotic relationships with their ships and the cities can come alive."

Harper

Graveminder by Melissa Marr (Harper 02 February 2012 / £6.99) - With a cover quote from Charlaine Harris, a press release advising the target market is readers of Twilight and cover art that takes Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver as it's template, this new adult novel, the first from bestselling teen author Melissa Marr, sure ticks a whole bunch of boxes. GraveMinder is now published in this mass market edition by Harper Voyager.

"When Rebekkah returns to her small-town home for her beloved Grandmother’s funeral, little does she suspect that she is about to inherit a darkly dangerous family duty on behalf of Claysville’s most demanding residents – the dead.

Everyone in Claysville knows that the Barrows are no ordinary family, but no one can really explain why. When respected matriarch Maylene Barrow dies suddenly her granddaughter Rebekkah returns to the small town she grew up in, where she must face the demons of her past – the suicide of her half-sister Ella, the person she was closest to in the world, and the subsequent break-up of her parents’ marriage. And she also re-encounters Byron, Ella’s old boyfriend, someone to whom she has always felt a deep and mysterious connection.

But the demons of the past are nothing compared with what the future has in store for Rebekkah. Her grandmother has left her an inheritance both wonderful and terrible. An onerous responsibility now rests on her shoulders – one for which she is ill-prepared to say the least.

For behind Claysville’s community-spirited, small-town facade lies a dark secret. One that ties Rebekkah and Byron together in an inextricable bond, and that will require them both to sacrifice everything to keep their friends and neighbours from harm."

Harper Voyager

From the Deep of the Dark (Jackelian 6) by Stephen Hunt (Harper Voyager 16 February 2012 / £12.99) - Stephen Hunt's sixth novel to be set in Victorian-style world of The Court of the Air (which I reviewed with mixed feelings a couple of years ago). From the Deep of the Dark is a trade paperback release from Harper Voyager.

"A daring underwater chase ends in a battle for the Kingdom itself...

The streets of Middlesteel are under attack by an unseen enemy, leaving bloodless corpses in its trail. The newssheets scream vampire, but the truth is even more deadly than anyone knows.

Charlotte Shades, Mistress of Mesmerism, is a thief – and a darned good one at that. When two mysterious men ask her to steal King Jude’s Sceptre from the Parliament vaults, the challenge (and reward) is too great to pass up. After all, Charlotte’s natural charm and the magic of the gem she wears – the mysterious Eye of Fate – have never failed her before.

Only consulting detective Jethro Daunt and his steamman companion Boxiron know there’s more to these two men than meets the eye. Yet even as they rescue Charlotte from a fate worse than death, they are thrown into a plot thicker than even they realize. They escape beneath the waves in an ancient submarine led by Commodore Jethro Black, where they encounter stiff resistance from the strange people who inhabit the vast underwater kingdoms. But man, woman, seanore and gillneck alike must band together if they are to defeat a danger that might not even be from this world…"

Jack Cloudie (Jackelian 5) by Stephen Hunt (Harper Voyager 16 February 2012 / £7.99) - And Hunt's fifth novel in this Steampunk setting, Jack Cloudie is now released in this mass market edition by Harper Voyager.

"Thanks to his father's gambling debts, young Jack Keats finds himself on the streets and trying to survive as a pickpocket, desperate to graft enough coins to keep him and his two younger brothers fed.

Following a daring bank robbery gone badly awry, Jack narrowly escapes the scaffold, only to be pressed into Royal Aerostatical Navy. Assigned to the most useless airship in the fleet, serving under a captain who is most probably mad, Jack seems to be bound for almost certain death in the far-away deserts of Cassarabia.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Omar ibn Barir, the slave of a rich merchant lord finds his life turned upside down when his master's religious sect is banned. Unexpectedly freed, he survives the destruction of his home to enter into the service of the Caliph's military forces – just as war is brewing.

Two very similar young men prepare to face each other across a senseless field of war. But is Omar the enemy, or is Jack's true nemesis the sickness at the heart of the Caliph's court? A cult that hides the deadly secret to the origins of the gas being used to float Cassarabia's new aerial navy.

If Jack and his shipmates can discover what Cassarabia's aggressive new regime is trying to conceal, he might survive the most horrific of wars and clear his family's name. If not..."

The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms 3) by Cinda Williams Chima (Harper Voyager 02 February 2012 / £14.99) - Cinda Williams Chima, the author of New York Times best-selling The Heir YA series (published in the US by Hyperion) arrived in the UK with the first book of a brand new series - The Demon King which began The Seven Realms Trilogy. The second title, The Exiled Queen followed and the third, The Gray Wolf Throne is now published by Harpercollins Voyager in hardcover... though I would pedantically add that we spell the word "Grey"!

"Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen. Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate."

Headline

Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute (Johannes Cabal 3) by Jonathan L. Howard (Headline 16 February 2012 / £7.99) - A third novel from Jonathan L. Howard, a British game designer whose credit include titles such as Broken Sword and his very well received début novel Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, a witty fantasy that was given a beautiful hardcover release from Headline and which "...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.". Book three, Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute is more of the same and hoorah for that! Now published in mass market paperback.

"Beyond the wall of sleep lie the Dreamlands, a whole world formed by dreams, but not a dream itself. For countless millennia, it has been explored only by those with a certain detachment from the mundane realities of our own world, its strange seas navigated, and its vast mountains climbed by philosophers, and mystics, and poets.

Well, those halcyon days are over, beatniks. Johannes Cabal is coming.

Cabal, a necromancer of some little infamy, is employed by the mysterious Fear Institute to lead an expedition into the Dreamlands, an expedition whose goal is nothing less than to hunt and destroy the dread Phobic Animus, the font of terrors, the very source of all the world's fear. They will enter exotic lands where magic is common and monsters abound, see wonders, and suffer dreadful hardships. Cabal will encounter witches, vile abominations, and far too many zebras.

And, when they finally come close to their goal, Cabal will have to face his own nightmares, but for a man who communes easily with devils and the dead, there is surely nothing left to fear... Is there"

Pure by Julianna Baggott (Headline 02 February 2012 / £14.99) - She's no newcomer, but Juliana Baggott's novel Pure, the first in a futuristic, dystopian YA trilogy is being marketed as the next big thing in fiction for younger readers.

With blurbs from folks such as Justin Cronin (author of The Passage)and movie rights having been snapped up in a blaze of publicity, it's a pretty good platform for success.

Pure is being published all over the world, but I doubt many publishers will even come near to matching the drop-dead gorgeous production values of the UK hard cover release, published by Headline. Deep, sumptuous, super-matt black finish, with black lettering on boards and spine, and illustrated endpapers, this is a stunning, eye-catching, beautiful and deliciously tactile object indeed. You can't do this with an eBook, you know!

"'We know you are here, our brothers and sisters. We will, one day, emerge from the Dome to join you in peace. For now, we watch from afar.'

Pressia Belze has lived outside of the Dome ever since the detonations. Struggling for survival she dreams of life inside the safety of the Dome with the 'Pure'.

Partridge, himself a Pure, knows that life inside the Dome, under the strict control of the leaders' regime, isn't as perfect as others think.

Bound by a history that neither can clearly remember, Pressia and Partridge are destined to forge a new world. "

Hodder & Stoughton

Advent by James Treadwell (Hodder & Stoughton 02 February 2012 / £12.99) - A lead title from Hodder's new genre list - and for all the prognosticating portent of it's cover copy, it's a very fine looking début novel indeed and from a British author too, James Treadwell - see his newly minted website here. Advent is being likened to Susan Cooper's evergreen classic, The Dark is Rising (see this early review on blog site Fabulous Realms) and that's certainly adding to the considerable buzz that's been building for this book. A smart hardcover release from Hodder.

"For centuries it has been locked away. Lost beneath the sea. Warded from earth, air, water, fire, spirits, thought and sight.

But now magic is rising to the world once more.

And a boy called Gavin, who thinks only that he is a city kid with parents who hate him, and knows only that he sees things no one else will believe, is boarding a train, alone, to Cornwall.

No one will be there to meet him."

Juggernaut by Adam Baker (Hodder & Stoughton 16 February 2012 / £12.99) - The second novel from UK talent Adam Baker, whose debut novel Outpost made a nice splash for Hodder's new genre friendly list when it appeared earlier this year. Baker is making a name for himself as new voice in British horror, and Juggernaut a taut, dark thriller due for release next February.

"Iraq 2005.

Seven mercenaries journey deep into the desert in search of Saddam's gold. They form an unlikely crew of battle-scarred privateers, killers and thieves, veterans of a dozen war zones, each of them anxious to make one last score before their luck runs out.

They will soon find themselves marooned among ancient ruins, caught in a desperate battle for their lives, confronted by greed, betrayal, and an army that won't stay dead... "

Nodens Books

Above Ker-Is and Other Stories by Evangeline Walton (Nodens Books 28 February 2012 / £9.33) - Product Description: This volume, edited and introduced by noted fantasy scholar Douglas A. Anderson, collects Walton's ten completed fantasy short stories, including her 1950 story published in the legendary magazine Weird Tales, and three superb Breton tales which first appeared in anthologies in the early 1980s. Four stories are published here for the first time.

. (see review)

Orbit

The Fourth Wall by Walter Jon Williams (Orbit 02 February 2012 / £9.99) - I've said previously in this column that here in the UK don't see enough of Walter Jon Williams' work. Consequently, it's great that Orbit have committed themselves to bringing this much under-rated writer to an audience beyond the United States - and this latest release is The Fourth Wall, a "compelling new near future thriller" described by Charles Stross as 'Darkly funny and brilliantly cynical'.

"Dagmar Shaw got out of the game . . . and into the movies. Sean is a washed-up child actor reduced to the lowest dregs of reality television to keep himself afloat. His life was a downward spiral of alcoholism, regret, and failure - until he met Dagmar. But Sean has secrets, dark even for the Hollywood treadmill of abuse, addiction, and rehab. And Dagmar is a cipher. There are dark rumours about her past - people tend to die around her. Now, she wants Sean for something. A movie, she says, but with her history, who knows what her real game is?"

The Legend Of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron (Orbit 02 February 2012 / £12.99) - Orbit release this omnibus edition of this high spirited romping fantasy début series by US author Rachel Aaron. The Legend of Eli Montpress collects together The Spirit Thief< The Spirit Rebellion and The Spirit Eater together into a single 950 page volume.

Our US colleague Mel Jacob reviewed the Orbit US release of the first book in the series here's issue and our own own Liz De Jager humbly offers this take on take on the UK edition... which is the same book, of course!

"Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief. But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age - and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he's going to put his plan into effect. The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. But he'll start small for now. He'll just steal something that no one will miss - at least for a while. Like a king... "

The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit 02 February 2012 / £8.99) - Robert Jackson Bennett's assured debut Mr Shivers was an impressive first novel indeed as was his follow-up The Company Man. Now Orbit release The Troupe, another entirely ingenious darkly Gothic take on Americana, and another example of the great imagination of this rising star. Recommended.

"George Carole ran away from home to join the Vaudeville circuit. Sixteen years old, uncommonly gifted at the piano, he falls in with a strange troupe - even for Vaudeville. Under the watchful eye of the enigmatic figure of Silenus, George comes to realise that the members of the troupe are more than they appear to be. And their travels have a purpose that runs deeper than entertainment. George must uncover the mysteries of Silenus's company before it is too late. He is already entangled in their web of secrets and, if he doesn't learn where they are taking him, he may never find his way out."

Penguin

The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman (Penguin 16 February 2012 / £7.99) - I found Philip Hoffman's block-busting 'fantasy' The Left Hand of God an impossible book to warm to - see my review here and so, alas, I've no will to dip into this sequel, The Last Four Things, now published in mass market by Penguin. Perhaps you will fare better?

"'You're the right colour for the Angel of Death, Mister Cale. But a little short.'

'I could cut your head off and stand on it. Then I'd be taller.'

Return to the Sanctuary of the Redeemers. A place of pain, cruelty and terrible, dark devotion. Thomas Cale - the Left Hand of God, the Angel of Death - is put in charge of an army and groomed to bring about the end of the world.

But might not Cale - killer, strategist, pawn and boy whose nature is far stranger than even the Redeemers can know - have his own reasons for bringing about the Last Four Things?

DEATH JUDGEMENT HEAVEN HELL"

Piatkus

Zombie: An Anthology of the Undead by Christopher Golden (Piatkus 02 February 2012 / £8.99) - Don't you just love this cover! Zombie - a book with a no-nonsense, 'does what it says on the tin' title is an anthology of, er, zombie stories put together by Christopher Golden. With a stellar cast list, this is fantastic value for money, choc full of flesh-eating nastiness from the likes of some of the best names in genre fiction - Joe Hill, Mike Carey, Tad Williams, Jonathan Maberry, Kelly Armstrong, John Connolly, Max Brooks, Tim Lebbon &etc. Read it or they'll eat your brains!

Now released in this mass market edition by Piatkus.

"RESURRECTION! The hungry dead have risen. They shamble down the street. They hide in backyards, car parks, shopping centres. They devour our neighbours, dogs and policemen. And they are here to stay. The real question is: what are you going to do about it? How will you survive? How will the world change when the dead begin to rise? Bram Stoker-award-winning author Christopher Golden has assembled an original anthology of never-before-published zombie stories from an eclectic array of today's most popular horror, fantasy, thriller and literary writers. Inside are tales about military might in the wake of an outbreak, survival in a wasted wasteland, the ardour of falling in love with a zombie, and a family outing at the circus. Here is a collection of new views on death and resurrection. With stories from Joe Hill, John Connolly and many others, this is a wildly diverse and entertaining collection - the last word on the undead."

Prometheus Books

Thief's Covenant: A Widdershin's Adventure by Ari Marmell (Prometheus Books 28 February 2012 / £15.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Ari Marmell (author of, among many other works, the Corvis Rebaine novels) is having a busy time of it at the moment - his recent novel from Pyr, The Goblin Corps was a fun, gritty fantasy told from the POV of the anti-hero and was well received. Pyr will publish Thief's Covenant, the first of Marmell's Widdershins Adventures, and a second novel False Covenant will follow in a few months time.

"Once she was Adrienne Satti. An orphan of Davillon, she had somehow escaped destitution and climbed to the ranks of the city's aristocracy in a rags-to-riches story straight from an ancient fairy tale. Until one horrid night, when a conspiracy of forces—human and other—stole it all away in a flurry of blood and murder.

Today she is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillon's underbelly with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshippers but Widdershins herself. It's not a great life, certainly nothing compared to the one she once had, but it's hers.

But now, in the midst of Davillon's political turmoil, an array of hands are once again rising up against her, prepared to tear down all that she's built. The City Guard wants her in prison. Members of her own Guild want her dead. And something horrid, something dark, something ancient is reaching out for her, a past that refuses to let her go. Widdershins and Olgun are going to find answers, and justice, for what happened to her—but only if those who almost destroyed her in those years gone by don't finish the job first."

Pyr

Doctor and the Kid, The (A Weird West Tale) (Weird West Tales) by Mike Resnick (Pyr 13 December 2011 / ) - Product Description: The time is 1882. With the Gunfight at the O. K. Corral and the battle with the thing that used to be Johnny Ringo behind him (see The Buntline Special), the consumptive Doc Holliday makes his way to Deadwood, Colorado, with Kate Elder, where he plans to spend the rest of his brief life, finally moving into the luxurious facility that specializes in his disease. But one night he gets a little too drunk-hardly a novelty for him-and loses everything he has at the gaming table. He realizes that he needs to replenish his bankroll, and quickly, so that he can live out his days in comfort under medical care. He considers his options and hits upon the one most likely to produce income in a hurry: he'll use his skill as a shootist and turn bounty hunter. The biggest reward is for the death of the young, twenty-year-old desperado known as Billy the Kid. It's clear from the odds the Kid has faced and beaten, his miraculous escape from prison, and his friendship with the Indian tribes of New Mexico that he is Protected by some powerful magic. Doc enlists the aid of both magic (Geronimo) and science (Thomas Edison), and goes out after his quarry. He will hunt the Kid down, and either kill him and claim the reward or die in the process and at least end his own suffering. But as he is soon to find out, nothing is as easy as it looks.Mike Resnick has won an impressive five Hugos and been nominated for twenty-nine more. He is the fourth-most awarded SF author in the history of the genre. He has sold fifty-eight novels and more than two hundred short stories. He has edited fifty anthologies. His work ranges from satirical fair, such as his Lucifer Jones adventures, to weighty examinations of morality and culture, as evidenced by his brilliant tales of Kirinyaga. The series, with sixty-seven major and minor awards and nominations to date, is the most honored series of stories in the history of science fiction. Visit Mike Resnick online at www.mikeresnick.com.

Hearts of Smoke and Steam (Society of Steam) by Andrew P. Mayer (Pyr 22 November 2011 / £10.23) - A lot of publishers I speak to are very lukewarm about Steampunk, which is a sub-genre I'm particualrly fond of. Hats off to Pyr therefore, whose strong support all things clockwork and brass brought us the recent Philip K. Dick award winning book The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder, and now offers up The Falling Machine, the first in a new series sub-titled The Society of Steam by first time novelist Andrew P Mayer. They now publish the sequel in trade paperback. Hearts of Smoke and Steam is available now.

"Sir Dennis Darby has been murdered, the Automaton has been destroyed, and Sarah Stanton has turned her back on a life of privilege and comfort to try and find her way in the unforgiving streets of New York. But Lord Eschaton, the villain behind all these events, isn't finished with her yet. His plans to bring his apocalyptic vision of the future to the world are moving forward, but to complete his scheme he needs the clockwork heart that Sarah still holds.

But she has her own plans for the Automaton's clockwork heart—Sarah is trying rebuild her mechanical friend, and when she is attacked by The Children of Eschaton, the man comes to her rescue may be the one to make her dreams come true. Emelio Armando is a genius inventor who had hoped to leave his troubles behind when he and his sister left Italy for a life of anonymity in the New World. Now he finds himself falling in love with the fallen society girl, but he is rapidly discovering just how powerful the forces of villainy aligned against her are, and that fulfilling her desires means opening the door to a world of danger that could destroy everything he has built.

THE SOCIETY OF STEAM takes place in a Victorian New York powered by the discovery of Fortified Steam, a substance that allows ordinary men to wield extraordinary abilities, and grant powers that can corrupt gentlemen of great moral strength. The secret behind this amazing substance is something that wicked brutes will gladly kill for, and one that Sarah must try and protect, no matter what the cost."

Solaris

Babylon Steel by Gaie Sebold (Solaris 05 January 2012 / £7.99) - A début high fantasy from London-based author Gaie Sebold which I've seen described in reviews elsewhere as "... vampire chick-lit transported from an urban to a high fantasy setting, minus the bloodsuckers" -- see the rest of James Gerard's review on the SFX web site. Published by Solaris in paperback original.

"Babylon Steel, ex-sword-for-hire, ex-other things, runs the best brothel in Scalentine; city of many portals, two moons, and a wide variety of races, were-creatures, and religions, not to mention the occasional insane warlock. She's not having a good week. The Vessels of Purity are protesting against brothels, women in the trade are being attacked, it's tax time, and there s not enough money to pay the bill. So when the mysterious Darask Fain offers her a job finding a missing girl, Babylon decides to take it. But the missing girl is not what she seems, and neither is Darask Fain. In the meantime twomoon is approaching, and more than just a few night's takings are at risk when Babylon's hidden past reaches out to grab her by the throat. Babylon Steel: a heroine who gets really up close and personal."

Greatshadow (Dragon Apocalypse) by James Maxey (Solaris 02 February 2012 / £7.99) - James Maxey, the author of the Bitterwood trilogy returns with the opener in a new fantasy series. Greatshadow is book one of The Dragon Apocalypse and is truly excellent fantasy fare - witty, fast-moving, full of high stakes, heroes and a big bastard of a dragon! A Solaris paperback original.

"Greatshadow is the primal dragon of fire, an elemental evil whose malign intelligence spies upon mankind through every candle flame, waiting to devour any careless victim he can claim. The Church of the Book has assembled a team of twelve battle-hardened adventurers to slay the dragon once and for all. But tensions run high between the leaders of the team who view the mission as a holy duty and the superpowered mercenaries who add power to their ranks, who view the mission primarily as a chance to claim Greatshadow's vast treasure trove. If the warriors fail to slay the beast, will they doom mankind to death by fire?"

Kings of Morning (The Macht Trilogy) (Macht Trilogy 3) by Paul Kearney (Solaris 01 March 2012 / £7.99) - Solaris signed up Northern Irish fantasy author Paul Kearney and have been publishing him very enthusiastically, reissuing his impressive backlist including omnibus reissues of his Monarchies of God series.

They've also been publishing brand new work and with Kings of Morning, Kearney now brings his Macht trilogy to a close

"For the first time in recorded history, the ferocious city-states of the Macht now acknowledge a single man as their overlord. Corvus, the strange and brilliant boy-general, is now High King, having united his people in a fearsome, bloody series of battles and sieges. He is not yet thirty years old. A generation ago, ten thousand of the Macht marched into the heart of the ancient Asurian Empire, and fought their way back out again, passing into legend. Corvus's father was one of those who undertook that march, and his most trusted general, Rictus, was leader of those ten thousand. But he intends to do more. The preparations will take years, but when they are complete, Corvus will lead an invasion the like of which the world of Kuf has never seen. Under him, the Macht will undertake nothing less than the overthrow of the entire Asurian Empire."

The Faceless by Simon Bestwick (Solaris 02 February 2012 / £7.99) - Solaris are one of the few home grown publishers who are really championing British Horror talent at the moment - indeed head honcho Jon Oliver is crazy for scary stuff as evidenced by two very notable horror anthologies he edited for Solaris in 2010 and 2011 - End of the Line and House of Fear. The former contained a noteworthy story by UK author Simon Bestwick whose work has been published in the US in a number of Ellen Datlow helmed anthologies.

Now Solaris publish The Faceless, Bestwick's brand new novel length chiller in paperback original.

"In the Lancashire town of Kempforth, people are vanishing. Mist hangs heavy in the streets, and in those mists move the masked figures the local kids call the Spindly Men. When two-year-old Roseanne Trevor disappears, Detective Chief Inspector Renwick vows to stop at nothing until she finds her. In Manchester, terrifying visions summon TV psychic Allen Cowell and his sister Vera back to the town they swore they'd left forever. And local historian Anna Mason pieces together a history of cruelty and exploitation almost beyond belief, born out of the horrors of war - while in the decaying corridors and lightless rooms of a long-abandoned hospital above town, something terrible is waiting for them all."

Tindal Street Press

The Game is Altered by Mez Packer (Tindal Street Press 01 February 2012 / £12.99) - A thought-provoking, literary SF novel from independent outfit Tindal Street Press based in Birmingham. Mez Packer is described by literary heavyweight Iain Sinclair as "A fresh and inventive talent" and The Game is Altered is aimed at those readers who enjoy authors such as Cory Doctorow, China Mieville and Neal Stephenson.

"Sometime in the near future, computer nerd Lionel lives alone with his sick cat, Buddha. His flat overlooks the high street, rundown except for the last hub of the community, his friend Mr Barber's shop. Lionel is mixed-race, adopted by a white family. But, apart from his gorgeous, abrasive sister Lilith - his best friend and harshest critic - his adoptive family have deserted him. Lionel plays games because he's a coward who can't handle human interaction, Lilith says, before one of her frequent disappearances. But when Lionel puts his headset on and enters CoreQuest he is Ludi, a fighter, a womaniser. He's free. Here he doesn't need to face his childhood, of being bullied by his adoptive brothers, and the shocking event he can't quite remember. Still, the 'real' world won't go away. Nor will Crystal, the haunted Anime girl who needs to be saved from the 'adult health centre' opposite his flat. Soon nothing adds up. Why are people beginning to look at him nervously? Why do the outcasts at work suddenly want to be his friend? Has Lilith this time disappeared for good? Reality and the game begin to blur and Lionel and Ludi are assaulted on all sides. And as Lionel struggles to unravel what's happening to him, Ludi tries to rescue the people he loves before the game is altered for ever."

Titan Books

Dragon Age - Asunder: 3 (Dragon Age 3) by David Gaider (Titan Books 23 December 2011 / £6.99) - The games tie-in market is becoming more and more important in light of the massive turn-over a successful franchise can pull in. Titan Books have long been associated with this area of fiction and whilst they continue to make excellent headway into the broader genre scene with notable acquisitions from authors such as Kim Newman, James P. Blaylock and Jack Campbell, they're certainly not ignoring their gaming readers.

David Gaider was a lead writer on Bioware's fantastic fantasy epic Dragon Age and is a natural choice therefore for the tie-in novels. The latest, Dragon Age: Asunder is Gaider's third such release and is now available in paperback original.

"A mystical killer stalks the halls of the White Spire, the heart of templar power in the mighty Orlesian Empire. To prove his innocence, Adrian reluctantly embarks on a journey into the western wastelands that will not only reveal much more than he bargained for but change the fate of his fellow mages forever."

The Company of the Dead by David Kowalski (Titan Books 23 March 2012 / £8.99) - The winner of the 2007 Aurealis Award finally gets a well-deserved publication outside of the antipodes. David Kowalski's The Company of the Dead is a thick slice of alternate history-cum-conspiricy-theory-cum-thrilling-adventure. Fantastic entertainment and one of the highlights of this month's column!

"'Time travel, airships, the Titanic, Roswell: from these well-worn bones, Kowalski builds a decidedly original creature that blends military science fiction, conspiracy theory, alternate history, and even a dash of romance.' --Publishers Weekly

A mysterious man appears aboard the Titanic on its doomed voyage. His mission? To save the ship. The result? A world where the United States never entered World War I, thus launching the secret history of the 20th Century. In April 2012, Joseph Kennedy nephew of John F. Kennedy lives in an America occupied in the East by Greater Germany and on the West Coast by Imperial Japan. He is one of six people who can restore history to its rightful order even though it would mean his death, and the deaths of everyone he loves. A magnificent alternate history, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest maritime disasters of the 20th century. "

Voyager

A Fistful of Charms by Kim Harrison (Voyager 05 January 2012 / £7.99) - A reissue of the fourth title in Kim Harrison's bestselling Urban Fantasy series - The Hollows. Harper Voyager have re-jacketed this edition of A Fistful of Charms and though we haven't seen copies and nor is it clear from the current listings on Amazon, they've presumably done this for the preceding three books as well.

"There's no rest for the wicked, even when the taint on your soul isn't your fault.

It would be wise for witch and bounty hunter, Rachel Morgan, to keep a low profile right now. Her new reputation for the dark arts has piqued the interest of Cincinnati's night-prowlers, who despise her and long to bring an end to her interference, one way or another.

Nevertheless, Rachel must risk exposure. Her ex-boyfriend, Nick, has stolen a priceless Were artefact, and, as tempting as it may be to let the Weres him apart, Rachel feels obliged to attempt a rescue. But other sinister forces also covet the relic Nick has hidden. Some who desire it so badly, they will take the city  and everyone in it  apart to wield its frightening power."

William Heinemann

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (William Heinemann 02 February 2012 / £12.99) - Nick Harkaway's début novel The Gone Away World was one of my picks of 2008 - see my glowing review here. It's taken a while (second novels can be tricky for writers who have great success with their first) but February sees the release of Angelmaker, Harkaway's brand new novel, in hard cover from William Heinemann. Put this one on your "want" list...

"From the acclaimed author of The Gone-Away World - a new riveting action spy thriller, blistering gangster noir, and howling absurdist comedy: a propulsively entertaining tale about a mobster's son and a retired secret agent who are forced to team up to save the world.

All Joe Spork wants is a quiet life. He repairs clockwork and lives above his shop in a wet, unknown bit of London. The bills don't always get paid and he's single and has no prospects of improving his lot, but at least he's not trying to compete with the reputation of Mathew "Tommy Gun" Spork, his infamous criminal dad.

Edie Banister lives quietly and wishes she didn't. She's nearly ninety and remembers when she wasn't. She's a former superspy and now she's... well... old. Worse yet, the things she fought to save don't seem to exist anymore, and she's beginning to wonder if they ever did.

When Joe fixes one particularly unusual device, his life is suddenly upended. The client is one Edie Banister. And the device? It's a 1950s doomsday machine. And having triggered it, Joe now faces the wrath of both the government and a diabolical South Asian dictator, Edie's old arch-nemesis. With Joe's once-quiet world now populated with mad monks, psychopathic serial killers, scientific geniuses and threats to the future of conscious life in the universe, he realises that the only way to survive is to muster the courage to fight, help Edie complete a mission she gave up years ago, and pick up his father's old gun..."

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