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UK Books Received- 07/2012  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

Gollancz

Lord of Slaughter by M.D. Lachlan (Gollancz 28 June 2012 / £14.99) - M.D. Lachlan, continues his epic and hugely ambitious fantasy saga, offering a new twist of the legend of the werewolf. This third volume, Lord of Slaughter, brings the timeline to the 10th century and the action to Constantinople.

Lachlan is a pseudonym of novelist and journalist Mark Barrowcliffe. A trade paperback release from Gollancz.

"On a battlefield strewn with corpses, a ragged figure, dressed in wolfskin and intent on death, slips past the guards into the tent of the Emperor and draws his sword.

The terrified citizens of Constantinople are plagued by mysterious sorcery. The wolves outside the city are howling. A young boy had traded the lives of his family for power. And a Christian scholar, fleeing with his pregnant wife from her enraged father, must track down the magic threatening his world.

All paths lead to the squalid and filthy prison deep below the city, where a man who believes he is a wolf lies chained, and the spirits of the dead are waking.

The Norsemen camped outside the city have their own legends, of the wolf who will kill the gods, but no true Christian could believe such a thing.

And yet it is clear to Loys that Ragnarok is coming. Will he be prepared to sacrifice his life, his position, his wife and his unborn child for a god he doesn't believe in?

And deep in the earth, the wolfman howls... "

Shadow's Master (Shadow 3) by Jon Sprunk (Gollancz 21 June 2012 / £12.99) - Gollancz have brought us some incredible fantasy débuts over the last few years - some home grown (Joe Abercrombie, Tom Lloyd), one from across the channel (Pierre Peval) and some from across the pond (Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Lynch, Sam Sykes).

Jon Sprunk 's novel Shadow's Son belonged in to the latter group - a solid, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin, magical, hooded assassin fantasy adventure. A second volume Shadow's Lure followed and Gollancz now publish a third and final title in the sequence. Shadow's Master is a trade paperback release. Published in the US by Pyr.

"A land of death and shadow where only the strongest survive. Yet that is where Caim must go to follow the mystery at the heart of his life. Armed only with his knives and his companions, he plunges into a world of eternal night where the sun is never seen and almost every hand is turned against him.

Only Kit, spectral vision and often unreliable accomplice, will stand by Caim in his darkest hour. But how much can he rely on her, when he can't even fulfil her greatest wish? Kit is in love with her companion, and he may not even know it. And even a Fae's tolerance will only last for so long...

Caim has buried his father's sword and found some measure of peace, but deep in the north an unfathomable power lays waiting. To succeed on this mission, Caim will have to more than just survive. He must face the Shadow's Master. "

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce (Gollancz 21 June 2012 / ) - Regular visitors to this site will know that Graham Joyce is amongst my very favourite writers and I have covered much of his work over the last few years - see here for reviews of Smoking Poppy, The Facts of Life and Limits of Enchantment, and here for the psuedonymous, Memoirs of a Master Forger, as written by William Heaney.

Now comes Some Kind of Fairy Tale, a new Joyce novel published in hard cover by Gollancz, described as an "... a tale of enchantment". Recommended.

"It is Christmas afternoon and Peter Martin gets an unexpected phonecall from his parents, asking him to come round. It pulls him away from his wife and children and into a bewildering mystery.

He arrives at his parents house and discovers that they have a visitor. His sister Tara. Not so unusual you might think, this is Christmas after all, a time when families get together. But twenty years ago Tara took a walk into the woods and never came back and as the years have gone by with no word from her the family have, unspoken, assumed that she was dead. Now she's back, tired, dirty, dishevelled, but happy and full of stories about twenty years spent travelling the world, an epic odyssey taken on a whim.

But her stories don't quite hang together and once she has cleaned herself up and got some sleep it becomes apparent that the intervening years have been very kind to Tara. She really does look no different from the young women who walked out the door twenty years ago. Peter's parents are just delighted to have their little girl back, but Peter and his best friend Richie, Tara's one time boyfriend, are not so sure. Tara seems happy enough but there is something about her. A haunted, otherworldly quality. Some would say it's as if she's off with the fairies. And as the months go by Peter begins to suspect that the woods around their homes are not finished with Tara and his family..."

Tangle of Need: The Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh (Gollancz 07 June 2012 / ) - Gollancz publish US best seller Nalini Singh's brand new Psy-Changling novel Tangle of Need - a smart hard cover release.

" Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to someone else.

For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.

Their coming together is an inferno . . . and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realise that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both. "

Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London 3) by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz 21 June 2012 / £12.99) - The third Peter Grant novel from bestselling British author Ben Aaonovitch, whose previous books in this wonderful London based 'magic cops' series, Rivers of London and Moon Over Soho have been a huge hit on this side of the Atlantic. Whispers Under Ground is hard cover release published by Gollancz.

"Peter Grant is learning magic fast. And its just as well - he's already had run ins with the deadly supernatural children of the Thames and a terrifying killer in Soho. Progression in the Police Force is less easy. Especially when you work in a department of two. A department that doesn't even officially exist. A department that if you did describe it to most people would get you laughed at. And then there's his love life. The last person he fell for ended up seriously dead. It wasn't his fault, but still.

Now something horrible is happening in the labyrinth of tunnels that make up the tube system that honeycombs the ancient foundations of London. And delays on the Northern line is the very least of it. Time to call in the Met's Economic and Specialist Crime Unit 9, aka 'The Folly'. Time to call in PC Peter Grant, Britains Last Wizard."

Headline

Control Point by Myke Cole (Headline 16 August 2012 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Already published in the US by Ace, Myke Cole's debut novel Control Point - a 'military fantasy' (and thus perhaps an entirely new sub-genre of its own!) has received a whole bunch of plaudits and glowing reviews. Next month it receives its UK publication as part of the first raft of titles to be released by Headline's new genre friendly list. Here's to it making the same kind of splash over here.

"All over the world people are 'coming up latent' - developing new and terrifying abilities. Untrained and pan­icked, they are summoning storms, raising the dead, and setting every­thing they touch ablaze.

US Army Lieutenant Oscar Britton has always done his duty, even when it means working alongside the feared Supernatural Operations Corps, hunting down and taking out those with newfound magical talents. But when he manifests a rare, startling power of his own and finds himself a marked man, all bets are off.

On the run from his former colleagues, Britton is driven into an underground shadow world, where he is about to learn that magic has changed all the rules he's ever known ... and that his life isn't the only thing he's fighting for. "

Hodder Paperbacks

11.22.63 by Stephen King (Hodder Paperbacks 05 July 2012 / £7.99) - Hodder publish the mass market edition of King's wonderful JFK / Time Travel tale just in time for the summer holidays and it's one sure to do well (and deservedly so) with those one-book-a-year readers who buy something at the airport to read on the beach.

I loved this - it's King at his finest, most heartfelt and mature. Perhaps the best thing he's done in a while. 11.22.63 is released early july. "WHAT IF you could go back in time and change the course of history? WHAT IF the watershed moment you could change was the JFK assassination? 11/22/63, the date that Kennedy was shot - unless...

King takes his protagonist Jake Epping, a high school English teacher from Lisbon Falls, Maine, 2011, on a fascinating journey back to 1958 - from a world of mobile phones and iPods to a new world of Elvis and JFK, of Plymouth Fury cars and Lindy Hopping, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake's life - a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

With extraordinary imaginative power, King weaves the social, political and popular culture of his baby-boom American generation into a devastating exercise in escalating suspense."

Orbit

Tempest's Fury (Jane True) by Nicole Peeler (Orbit 05 July 2012 / £8.99) - Nicole Peeler's visibility online is impressive, for I had been aware if the impending release of her début novel, urban fantasy Tempest Rising - the first of the author's Jane True stories, even before its initial Orbit US release back in November 2009. As well as the author's tireless blogging and tweeting and Facebooking, this presence was been helped by a wonderfully distinctive branding to the books - perhaps not to everyone's taste, but distinctive nonetheless. Interestingly, the original jacket approach has been redesigned for the UK market, but retained for the US, showing both the differing tastes of the two markets and the ability of a publisher such as Orbit to respond quickly in such situations. They now release Tempest's Fury the fifth in this on-going series.

"Supernatural halfling Jane True's not happy. She's been packed off to England to fight a war when she'd much rather be getting busy with her boyfriend Anyan. Unfortunately, Jane's enemies have been stirring up some major trouble and attracting a lot of attention - making it rather tricky for Jane and Anyan to get any alone time.

Catapulted into the role of Most Unlikely Hero Ever, Jane must lead supernatural races in a desperate battle to combat an ancient evil. But she'll also have to fight her own insecurities, as well as the doubts of those who don't think she can live up to her new role as Champion - the most powerful supernatural leader of all . . . "

The Apocalypse Codex: A Laundry Novel (The Laundry Files) by Charles Stross (Orbit 19 July 2012 / £7.99) - The UK edition of Charlie Stross's The Fuller Memorandum is published by Orbit and matching the Ace Books US release. This is the fourth in Stross's quite unique Lovecraftian spy thriller series, following on from The Atrocity Archives, The Jennifer Morgue and The Fuller Memorandum (which was reviewed back in 2010 by Benjamin Wald - great fun.

"Bob Howard used to fix computers for the Laundry - the branch of the British Secret Service that deals with otherworldly threats - but those days are over. He's not only been promoted to active service but actually survived missions against cultists, enemy spies and tentacled horrors from other dimensions. Willingly or not, he's on his way up in this dangerous organisation.

When a televangelist with connections to 10 Downing Street seems able to work miracles, the Laundry takes an interest. But an agency that answers to the Prime Minister can't spy on him themselves, and Bob's shadowy superiors come up with a compromise - they hire 'freelancers', with Bob in charge.

British citizens who discover the occult are either forcibly recruited by the Laundry or disposed of, and Bob's never heard of freelancers before. Officially they don't exist. Anyone who's big and bad enough to remain independent is going to be hard to handle, and Bob's not too sure that the one-week 'people management' course he was sent on in Milton Keynes is going to be enough... "

The Fate Of The Dwarves by Markus Heitz (Orbit 05 July 2012 / £9.99) - When the Gemmell Award was won by Polish author Andrej Sapkowski (whose novel Blood of Elves I covered previously), it woke a lot of folks up to the fact that fantasy is not just the province of writers working in English.

German author Markus Heitz's bestselling series of The Dwarves draws to a close with the release of the fourth and final volume The Fate of the Dwarfs released this month by Orbit.

Released in a smart B format, this is the kind of solid fantasy that the market thrives upon - great storytelling set against a solid genre background. Sometimes we don't want the wheel reinvented! And particular mention should go to Bob Lea and Peter Cotton for the cover illustration and design respectively - brilliant, eye-catching stuff!

"For the last time, the dwarves are going to war - and the outcome will decide the fate of their race. There has been no word from the brave warrior Tungdil since the vicious battle at the Black Abyss. Dragons, magicians, and the malevolent älfar have advanced far into the kingdom of Girdlegard, ruthlessly seizing vast areas of land. The dwarves seem to be facing their next battle with little hope of survival.

But then the inexplicable happens. A dwarf dressed in black armour returns from the abyss with a formidable army in tow. He calls himself Tungdil, and for his most loyal friend Ireheart and his allies, this means a new hope. But soon doubts begin to arise . . . Could this really be Tungdil, or is this warrior following his own dark agenda? It is a question of the future of Girdlegard - and the future of all the dwarves."

Pyr

False Covenant (Widdershins Adventure) by Ari Marmell (Pyr 30 August 2012 / £16.95) - 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 then publishd Thief's Covenant, the first of Marmell's Widdershins Adventures, and now publish the second novel False Covenant in a smart hard cover edition.

"A creature of the other world, an unnatural entity bent on chaos and carnage, has come to stalk the nighttime streets of the Galicien city of Davillon. There's never a good time for murder and panic, but for a community already in the midst of its own inner turmoil, this couldn't possibly have come at a worse one.

Not for Davillon, and not for a young thief who calls herself Widdershins.

It's been over half a year since the brutal murder of Archbishop William de Laurent during his pilgrimage to Davillon. And in all that time, Widdershins has truly tried her best. She's tried to take care of Genevieve's tavern and tried to make a semihonest living in a city slowly stagnating under the weight of an angry and disapproving Church. She's tried to keep out of trouble, away from the attentions of the Davillon Guard and above the secrets and schemes of the city's new bishop.

But she's in way over her head, with no idea which way to turn. The Guard doesn't trust her. The Church doesn't trust her. Her own Thieves' Guild doesn't trust her.

Too bad for everyone, then, that she and her personal god, Olgun, may be their only real weapon against a new evil like nothing the city has ever seen."

Sceptre

The House of Rumour by Jake Arnott (Sceptre 05 July 2012 / £17.99) - High profile and critically acclaimed British author Jake Arnott first hit the scene with a number of hard-as-nails crime novels (The Long Firm, He Kills Coppers) but has since showed he has more than one string to his bow. Johnny Come Home and The Devil's Paintbrush - repectively a 70s pop culture pulp tale and a historical set in turn of the (19th to 20th) century Paris both showed Arnott's versatility and the scope of his ambition and so it's hugely exciting to learn that his latest novel strays in to SFnal areas - and many others besides, given that the press releases rather tantalisingly states... "Here is a tale of spies, SF Writers, cult leaders, rocket scientists, astronauts, UFO spotters, magicians, astrologers, film makers, rock stars, artists, actors, adulterers and unrequited lovers, all woven into a a web where truth and illusion meet.. A hard cover release from Sceptre.

"Larry Zagorski spins wild tales of fantasy worlds for pulp magazines. But as the Second World War hangs in the balance, the lines between imagination and reality are starting to blur.

In London, spymasters enlist occultists in the war of propaganda. In Southern California, a charismatic rocket scientist summons dark forces and an SF writer founds a new religion. In Munich, Nazis consult astrologists as they plot peace with the West and dominion over the East. And a conspiracy is born that will ripple through the decades to come.

The truth, it seems, is stranger than anything Larry could invent. But when he looks back on the 20th century, the past is as uncertain as the future. Just where does truth end and illusion begin?

THE HOUSE OF RUMOUR is a novel of soaring ambition, a mind-expanding journey through the ideas that have put man on the moon yet brought us to the brink of self-destruction.

What will you believe?"

Titan

Runescape: Legacy of Blood: 3 (Runescape 3) by Tom Church (Titan 29 June 2012 / £7.99) - Currently claiming the crown of the world's most popular free MMORPG, RuneScape also has an ongoing tie-in fiction line as published by Titan (specialists in this area of publishing for a long time - so we can safely assume they know a good vehicle when they see it!). T.S. Church's third RuneScape title, Legacy of Blood has a very annoyed looking werewolf on the front cover and a busty vampire on the rear cover - so that should give prospective readers some (if not more) indication of the tale within as much as the copy below...

"The city of Varrock is at breaking point, people are fleeing from the country into the already-full city and riots are breaking out as the government struggles to keep order.

Meanwhile Gar’rth struggles with his dark destiny, Theodore chases a holy relic, Kara prepares for war. As the friends continue to fight against evil, Zamorak’s power continues to rise, bringing with it the walking dead..."

Titan Books

The Games by Ted Kosmatka (Titan Books 22 June 2012 / £7.99) - The debut novel from US author Ted Kosmatka - known mainly thus far for his short fiction (for which he has been nominated for both the Nebula and Sturgeon Awards - specifically for novella Blood Dauber, written with Michael Poore). The Games is published by Titan here in the UK (Del Rey have already released a well received US edition) and according to Publishers Weekly "Blends the best of Crichton and Koontz."

"Set in an amoral future where genetically engineered monstrosities fight each other to the death in an Olympic event, The Games envisions a harrowing world that may arrive sooner than you think.

Silas Williams is the brilliant geneticist in charge of preparing the U.S. entry into the Olympic Gladiator competition, an internationally sanctioned bloodsport with only one rule: no human DNA is permitted in the design of the entrants. Silas lives and breathes genetics; his designs have led the United States to the gold in every previous event. But the other countries are catching up. Now, desperate for an edge in the upcoming Games, Silas's boss engages an experimental supercomputer to design the genetic code for a gladiator that cannot be beaten.

The result is a highly specialized killing machine, its genome never before seen on earth. Not even Silas, with all his genius and experience, can understand the horror he had a hand in making. And no one, he fears, can anticipate the consequences of entrusting the act of creation to a computer's cold logic.

Now Silas races to understand what the computer has wrought, aided by a beautiful xenobiologist, Vidonia João. Yet as the fast-growing gladiator demonstrates preternatural strength, speed, and—most disquietingly—intelligence, Silas and Vidonia find their scientific curiosity giving way to a most unexpected emotion: sheer terror."

Turbulence by Samit Basu (Titan Books 06 July 2012 / £7.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: A vibrant, colourful and uniquely Indian take on the modern day Superhero story - Samit Basu's novel is one of the most exciting things to hit the market in ages. Concrete proof (as if we still need it!) that science fiction is no longer the province of Europe and North America, but a global, cross cultural language all of its very own. Turbulence is published by Titan this month in the UK - but not available in the US until July 2013.

"Aman Sen is smart, young, ambitious and going nowhere. He thinks this is because he doesn't have the right connections—but then he gets off a plane from London to Delhi and discovers that he has turned into a communications demigod. Indeed, everyone on Aman's flight now has extraordinary abilities corresponding to their innermost desires. Vir, an Indian Air Force pilot, can now fly. Uzma, a British- Pakistani aspiring Bollywood actress, now possesses infinite charisma.

And then there's Jai, an indestructible one-man army with a good old-fashioned goal — to rule the world!

Aman wants to ensure that their new powers aren't wasted on costumed crime-fighting, celebrity endorsements, or reality television. He wants to heal the planet but with each step he takes, he finds helping some means harming others. Will it all end, as 80 years of superhero fiction suggest, in a meaningless, explosive slugfest?

Turbulence features the 21st-century Indian subcontinent in all its insane glory—F-16s, Bollywood, radical religious parties, nuclear plants, cricket, terrorists, luxury resorts, crazy TV shows — but it is essentially about two very human questions. How would you feel if you actually got what you wanted? And what would you do if you could really change the world?"

Viking

The Chemickal Marriage by Gordon Dahlquist (Viking 05 July 2012 / £20.00) - The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters was a rollicking old-style serial adventure, the début novel by American Gordon Dalhquist first published back in 2006. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, with its exotic blend of steampunk and magic and its feisty characters and arcane conspiracies. The whole lamplit experience has been likened to a heady mix of Sherlock Holmes, Dickens and Rider Haggard with a little bit of Buffy and the Marquis de Sade thrown in for good measure. This is a baroque comparison, but, you know what?... it pretty much covers it.

In short, Dahlquist's highly addictive début ticked a lot of boxes and was exactly the kind of rip-roaring and escapist adventure fiction that I love. The follow-up, The Dark Volume, actually a direct continuation of the events that took place in The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters and was every bit as excellent and exciting as that first book. Terrific fiction and very highly recommended.

All that aside, according to Wikipedia, Dahlquist was reportedly paid an advance of $2million for these two books, and their peformance fell far short of their projected earnings (there being no accounting for taste!) resulting in a sustantial loss for Bantam. The third and final volume The Chemickal Marriage - as far as I can tell - hasn't therefore been picked up in the US, which may account for the delay in its appearance now, published in hard cover by Dahlquist's British publisher. Viking. I, for one, am very glad to see it.

"Miss Temple, young, wealthy and far away from home, never wanted to be a heroine. Yet her fiancé is dead (admittedly, by her own hand), her companions slain and her nemesis, the terrifyingly wicked Contessa Lacquer-Sforza, escaped. It falls on her tiny shoulders to destroy a deadly cabal whose alchemy threatens to enslave the world. Miss Temple plots her revenge.

But Dr Svenson and Cardinal Chang are alive, barely - their bodies corrupted by the poisonous blue glass. Wounded and outnumbered, Miss Temple, Dr Svenson and Cardinal Chang pursue their enemies through city slums and glittering palaces as they fight to prevent the cabal's crushing dominion and unholy marriage between man and machine.

An assassin, an heiress and a surgeon against the world's most unholy evil - the stage is set for a final battle... in an adventure like no other"

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