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UK Books Received- 03/2006  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

Bantam Press

The Bonehunters (Malazan Book of the Fallen) by Steven Erikson (Bantam Press 01 March, 2006 / £20.00) - By far the premier release this month - the sixth installment in Steven Erikson's ten stand-alone volume series of the Malazan Book of the Fallen - is published as a hefty hardcover by Bantam. The Bonehunters further cements Erikson's position as one of the most ground-breaking, fearless and important fantasy writers of the age.

"The Seven Cities Rebellion has been crushed. Sha'ik is dead. One last rebel force remains, holed up in the city of Y'Ghatan and under the fanatical command of Leomann of the Flails. The prospect of laying siege to this ancient fortress makes the battle-weary Malaz 14th Army uneasy. For it was here that the Empire's greatest champion, Dassem Ultor, was slain and a tide of Malazan blood spilled. A place of foreboding, its smell is of death".

Black Swan

Acorna's Children: First Warning by Anne McCaffrey (Black Swan 01 March, 2006 / £6.99) - The first UK publication of the latest in a long line of hugely popular McCaffrey/Scarborough collaborations, continuing the adventures of Acorna's daughter, Khorii, who "...must contend with an overwhelming legacy to forge a path of her own.". A Corgi paperback original.

Fourth Estate

The King's Last Song by Geoff Ryman (Fourth Estate 27 February, 2006 / £11.99) - Geoff Ryman's star is very deservedly on the ascendant right now. A Canadian by birth, Ryman has been based in the UK for some time now and though he has produced a considerable and impressive body of work over the years, it is only relatively recently that he has begun to be aggressively marketed to a wider readership. His recent novel Air has been shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke award (which Ryman won back in 1990) and now HarperCollins has issued his latest novel The King's Last Song and they describe it as "...a beautifully evocative and captivating tale which explores the legacy of war and the clash between East and West. A must for fans of Amitav Ghosh."

Gollancz

Fushigi Yugi: v. 8 (Manga S.) by Yuu Watase (Gollancz 23 February, 2006 / £4.99) - Volume eight in this very popular Shoju (girls) manga series.

"A savage storm shipwrecks Maika and her celestial Warriors on a creepy island inhabited by a ruthless matriarchal society that enslaves men! Meanwhile, her former friend Yui and the Seiryu Warriors are within arm's reach of the sacred treasures that Maiku so desperately seeks. Will she arrive too late to summon the god Suzaku and save the nation of Hong-Nan?"

Rurouni Kenshin: v. 1 (Manga S.) by Nobuhiro Watsuki (Gollancz 23 February, 2006 / £4.99) - Gollancz release the first volume of Rurouni Kenshin a manga tale set in the early years of the Meiji period of Japan's history - the time when that country's great push towards modernisation was just beginning. Subtitled Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story, Rurouni Kenshin ..." is beloved by fans around the world for its mix of historical detail, spectacular battles and, of course, romantic comedy."

Rurouni Kenshin: v. 2 (Manga S.) by Nobuhiro Watsuki (Gollancz 23 February, 2006 / £4.99) - Volume two of Rurouni Kenshin - released along with volume one (see below).

The Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd (Gollancz 16 March, 2006 / £17.99) - A debut fantasy novel from young British author Tom Lloyd and aimed at fans of Gemmel, Martin, and Feist. Reviewed this issue.

"Isak is a white eye, feared and despised in equal measure, desperate to escape a live of poverty and abuse. His prayers are answered by the Gods, who have marked him as the heir to Lord Bahl, the Lord of Farlan. But those who would be king are watching Isak as he is molded and shaped to fulfill prophecies he cannot possibly escape. The various factions vying for power are set to unleash their fury and Isak finds himself in the middle of a war he barely comprehends and wielding powers he may never be able to control." (see review)

HarperCollins

A Game of Soldiers by Stephen Miller (HarperCollins 06 March, 2006 / £14.99) - A highly touted debut thriller that will appeal to SF fans who favour the "What if?" approach to history. Stephen Miller's new novel begins with some very intriguing premises.

"What if Serbian terrorists had not managed to kill the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo?

What if their uprising was fueled and supported by the new Russian oligarchs?

What if, amid all the conspirators running through the chaos of Europe, there was one honest government agent whose determined pursuit of the killer of a child prostitute changed the course of history...?"

Hodder & Stoughton Ltd

Cell by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton Ltd 27 February, 2006 / £17.99) - A major publishing event on both sides of the Atlantic, Cell is Stephen King's first full length novel since he completed The Dark Tower and is reviewed elsewhere in this issue.

"Civilization slipped into its second dark age on an unsurprising track of blood but with a speed that could not have been foreseen by even the most pessimistic futurist. By Halloween, every major city from New York to Moscow stank to the empty heavens and the world as it had been was a memory." -- From Cell (see review)

Macmillan

Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff Vandermeer (Macmillan 20 January, 2006 / £10.99) - A full length Ambergris novel from the endlessly inventive imagination of two time World Fantasy Award winner Jeff Vandermeer.

"An epic yet personal look at several decades of life, love and death in the famed city of Ambergris, the Afterword you are holding relates the scandalous, heartbreaking, and horrifying secret history of two squabbling siblings and their confidantes, protectors, and enemies."

Recommended.

Orbit

Coyote Frontier by Allen Steele (Orbit 02 February, 2006 / £6.99) - The final volume in Allen Steele's Coyote sequence, released in the UK by Orbit as a paperback original.

"Two decades have passed since the revolution that won Coyote's independence from Earth. The colony may be free, but its aging computers, aircraft, and medical equipment are badly in need of replacement. The colony's survival is now in question, and help from Earth is imminent. But there are those who fear that aid from the mother world may be more hindrance than help..."

In the Ruins: The Crown of Stars Series: Book Six (Crown of Stars S.) by Kate Elliott (Orbit 02 February, 2006 / £8.99) - The mass market paperback release of book six in Kate Elliot's Crown of Stars series.The final novel in the sequence is also released this month in hard cover - see below.

"The world of Liath and Alain is breaking apart as King Henry's kingdom is savaged by earthly and supernatural forces, which they alone have the power to understand.

The Eika warriors thirst for the King's land and power, their enmity sealed by generations of blood. Bitter in-fighting within King Henry's court and the ceaseless attrition of raiders also weaken his reign. "

Priestess of the White (Age of the Five S.) by Trudi Canavan (Orbit 02 February, 2006 / £7.99) - The start of a new series by Trudi Canavan, the Australian author whose superb Black Magician Trilogy has become a bestseller for publishers Orbit. This new novel Priestess of the White begins a new series entitled The Age of the Five and is tipped for similar success. Canavan, who draws and paints as well as she writes, has an excellent web site which is well worth a visit.

Recommended.

Shadow of the Giant (Shadow Saga S.) by Orson Scott Card (Orbit 02 February, 2006 / £6.99) - Many readers, myself amongst them, can name Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game as a cornerstone of their formative science fiction reading. An instant classic, that 1985 multi award winning novel spawned a number of sequels and follow on series. Now The Shadow Saga is concluded in Shadow of the Giant. This is the mass market paperback edition.

"Bean, Ender Wiggins' former right-hand man, has shed his reputation as the smallest student at battle School. He has completed his military service for the Hegemon... he and his wife now yearn for a safe place to build a family - something he has never known. Yet no such place exists on Earth, a world riddled with Bean's enemies from the past."

Shadowmarch by Tad Williams (Orbit 02 March, 2006 / £7.99) - Tad Williams' latest fat fantasy is published in paperback. Shadowmarch is a huge, sprawling project, the kind that requires numerous maps and glossaries and the type of novel that Williams excels at. For fans of his work, this will prove enormously satisfying, as will the other volumes due to follow. Shadowmarch has a rich Internet-related history and thus much information about it can be found online - start, of course, with the author's official web site , but do be sure also to visit shadowmarch.com , a really wonderful resource for this novel.

Someone Like Me (Quick Reads S.) by Tom Holt (Orbit 02 March, 2006 / £2.99) - Published especially for World Book Day as part of the "Quick Reads" promotion, this novella length piece by Tom Holt is a far darker than much of his recent output.

"In a world torn apart by hatred and fear, only the strongest will survive."

The Crown of Stars (Crown of Stars S.) by Kate Elliott (Orbit 02 March, 2006 / £18.99) - With the publication of Crown of Stars, Kate Elliot completes her seven book cycle of the same name and it really is a staggering achievement. A huge and sweeping epic, the Crown of Stars series has delighted readers of fantasy worldwide and we wait with interest to see how Elliot tops it with whatever her next project might be. See the author's website for more.

You Don't Have to Be Evil to Work Here, But It Helps by Tom Holt (Orbit 02 February, 2006 / £12.99) - The irrepressible Tom Holt adds to his long, long list of comic novels with the release of You Don't Have To Be Evil To Work Here, But It Helps.

"Colin Hollinghead is a young man going nowhere fast. Working for his dad might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but starting at the bottom in the widget-making industry has somehow lost its appeal.

And now the business is in trouble. At least his father has a plan to turn things round â€" a new work force that will improve profit margins and secure the company's future for eternity. The deal looks great on paper, but they do say that the devil is in the detail â€" and the old rogue certainly seems to be involved in some capacity."

Pocket Books

The Destiny Mask by Martin Sketchley (Pocket Books 03 April, 2006 / £6.99) - The second novel by British author Martin Sketchly, following on from The Affinity Trap. This is the mass market paperback edition. Find out more at the author's web site .

"The style is distinctive and the plot rattled along. Shoul put him up among the forefront of new british writers such as Ken Macleod and Richard Morgan" -- The Bookseller.

Scholastic Press

A Darkling Plain by Philip Reeve (Scholastic Press 20 March, 2006 / £12.99) - The superb final novel in Philip Reeves' Mortal Engines series - the second book of which, Predator's Gold, I reviewed back in our September 2003 issue. Without doubt, some of the best YA fiction around right now.

"As the fragile truce between the Green Storm and the Traction Cities splinters and hostility breaks out again, events are set on a collision course. Not only will the fate of Tom, Hester and Wren be decided - the future of the human race itself hangs in the balance. Who will emerge victorious - the Green Storm or the ancient moving cities?".

Reviewed this issue. (see review)

Tor

Darkland by Liz Williams (Tor 17 February, 2006 / £10.99) - Darkland is the latest novel the brilliant British author Liz Williams, who also wrote The Poison Master and Nine Layers of Sky. Darkland is described as a "Gothic SF feast" and is a trade paperback release.

"In the far-distant future Vali Hallsdotir, assassin of an organisation known as the Skald, is sent on a mission to the world of Nhem. Her assignment is to eliminate the destructive patriarchal regime of the Heirolath. But shortly after her arrival, Vali finds herself betrayed by her mission partner, who is not the man he seems. Frey, once Vali's lover, has undergone a genetic transformation to disguise himself and has his own agenda for travelling to Nhem. After Vali's escape from the clutches of the Heirolath's militia, she goes in search of Frey in order to discover the reasons for his betrayal. Her journey takes Vali to Darkland, where sinister forces known as the vitki wreak havoc..." (see review)

The Skinner by Neal Asher (Tor 22 March, 2002 / £9.99) - When I reviewed Gridlinked last year (see my review and accompanying interview) I stated that I felt Neal Asher was going to be a force to be reckoned with. The Skinner (which takes place in the same story universe but is very much stand alone) proves that intuitive comment to now be a rock solid reality. This is a stunning piece of work. (see review)

Voyager

Firethorn by Sarah Micklem (Voyager 06 March, 2006 / £6.99) - The mass market paperback edition of Sarah Micklem's historical fantasy Firethorn. Described by Dame Kate Harcourt as "The sexiest fantasy books I've ever read"!

"Loving, reckless and indomitable, Firethorn travels through an imaginary world as readl as history and as marvelous as legend. She flees a life of drudgery to live alone in the forest, relying on her knowledge of herb lore to survive. She returns transformed, indebted to the god that saved her life, and blessed - or cursed - with uncanny abilities and a nagging sense of destiny".

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