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UK Books Received- 11/2010  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

Afterblight Chronicles: Arrowland by Paul Kane (Abaddon 16 September 2010 / £7.99) - A new title in Abbadon's post-apocalyptic Afterblight Chronicles - Arrowland is the third such novel from Paul Kane to feature a futuristic and very bleak take on the legend of Robin Hood - check out the official web site of The Arrowhead Series.

"In the years since the Hooded Man emerged from the forest to defeat De Falaise, the new Sheriff of Nottingham, his reputation has spread – bolstered also by his stand against evil Russian dictator, The Tsar. Not only that, but Robert Stokes' peacekeeping force – The Sherwood Rangers – have been making their presence felt across the land, helping anyone who might be in trouble. However, new enemies are now gaining power in the north and the west, hampering the regional divisions of the Rangers.

Funded by overseas sources, the twin threat of The Dragon and The Widow must be tackled by Robert and his band, including Mary, Jack, Mark, Reverend Tate and Bill. But when an assassin is dispatched, just as skilled as Robert with a bow and arrow, the Hooded Man finds himself once more fighting to survive.

Because this time, not only do the fates seem to be against him, but also the spirits that dwell in his beloved Sherwood. Leading to a confrontation that will decide not simply the future of his own land, and all those he has come to care about, but of humanity itself."

Pax Brittania: Gods of Manhattan (Pax Britannia) by Al Ewing (Abaddon 20 January 2011 / £7.99) - The Pax Brittannia series published by Abaddon Books ticks any number of boxes for those who like their genre stories steampunky, fast-paced and easy to digest. Perfect holiday reading or just something to curl up with on the Ottoman, with a glass of porter. Gods of Manhattan is author Al Ewing's fifth title for Abaddon and may well be his best yet.

"NEW YORK, USSA - The steam-powered city of tomorrow where psychedelic beat-poets rumble with punk futurists in the rain-drenched alleys, and where mad science colludes with the monstrous plans of the Meccha-Fuhrer! NEW YORK, USS - City of dazzle and danger. Only here could we find The Blood Spider, Doc Thunderand the saint of ghosts known as El Sombra! NEW YORK, USS - The setting for a bloody battle ofsteel will and science gone wild in a contest to save the city of tomorrow - or end it!"

Bantam

Divine Misdemeanors (Meredith Gentry 8) by Laurell K Hamilton (Bantam 28 October 2010 / £7.99) - The new Meredith Gentry novel from Laurel K. Hamilton, now released in mass market paperback here in the UK by Bantam Books.

"Having turned down the throne of Faerie, and pregnant at last with twins by the men she loves, ex-princess Meredith Gentry should be living happily-ever-after. But the exiles of Faerie have other ideas - they want Meredith to be their princess, whether she likes it or not. And the new political party in England, the Fey Independence Party, want the lands of Faerie back, and they've asked Meredith to come home to be their faerie Prime Minister. They won't give up without a fight. With the government of the two countries blaming her for political unrest, happy ever after for half-human, half-faerie Meredith is going to have to wait, as she is caught in a struggle that threatens her life and the lives of those she holds dear. But she's a fighter, and she wields a wild magic..."

Gollancz

The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz 27 January 2011 / £14.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: The start of 2011 is looking good already, for January sees the arrival of The Heroes, a new novel from Joe Abercrombie, Gollancz's prodigal son, who in only five years and with four books has gone on to become one of the major names in the field. The Heroes is another hard hitting, acerbic and brilliantly written fantasy and is being touted by the publisher as the author's best book yet - which given Abercombie's previous output is quite a claim - see my reviews of The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings.

"They say Black Dow's killed more men than winter, and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbour, is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. The orders have been given and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they've brought a lot of sharpened metal with them. Bremer dan Gorst, disgraced master swordsman, has sworn to reclaim his stolen honour on the battlefield. Obsessed with redemption and addicted to violence, he's far past caring how much blood gets spilled in the attempt. Even if it's his own. Prince Calder isn't interested in honour, and still less in getting himself killed. All he wants is power, and he'll tell any lie, use any trick, and betray any friend to get it. Just as long as he doesn't have to fight for it himself. Curnden Craw, the last honest man in the North, has gained nothing from a life of warfare but swollen knees and frayed nerves. He hardly even cares who wins any more, he just wants to do the right thing. But can he even tell what that is with the world burning down around him? Over three bloody days of battle, the fate of the North will be decided. But with both sides riddled by intrigues, follies, feuds and petty jealousies, it is unlikely to be the noblest hearts, or even the strongest arms that prevail. Three men. One battle. No Heroes. "

Harper

Odd is on Our Side by Dean Koontz (Harper 30 September 2010 / £7.99) - Product Description: The second graphic novel adventure featuring Dean Koontz's hugely popular character, Odd Thomas.

Hodder & Stoughton

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton 09 November 2010 / £18.99) - There are very few authors out there who are commercially viable enough for major trade publishers to bring out collections of their shorter works, but the evergreen grandmaster himself Stephen King has a proven track record in this respect with Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight. This month sees a brand new collection, Full Dark, No Stars published, featuring four brand new novella length works. A hard cover from Hodder and Stoughton.

"'I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger...' writes Wilfred Leland James in the early pages of the riveting confession that makes up '1922', the first in this pitch-black quartet of mesmerising tales from Stephen King, linked by the theme of retribution. For James, that stranger is awakened when his wife Arlette proposes selling off the family homestead and moving to Omaha, setting in motion a gruesome train of murder and madness.

In 'Big Driver', a cozy-mystery writer named Tess encounters the stranger is along a back road in Massachusetts when she takes a shortcut home after a book-club engagement. Violated and left for dead, Tess plots a revenge that will bring her face to face with another stranger: the one inside herself.

'Fair Extension', the shortest of these tales, is perhaps the nastiest and certainly the funniest. Making a deal with the devil not only saves Harry Streeter from a fatal cancer but provides rich recompense for a lifetime of resentment.

When her husband of more than twenty years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It's a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends 'A Good Marriage'."

Matador

Human Secrets by Linden Lewis (Matador 06 September 2010 / £7.99) - When Guy Hewson, a young professor of Egyptology, discovers a strange relic, he has no idea of the bizarre sequence of events that will follow. The importance of the unearthed antiquity becomes manifest when the professor is the target of an assassination attempt. He is saved by an old university friend, Justin Bloom, a man struggling to cope with the humdrum routine of his daily existence. Justin is drawn into a scenario that's far removed from his regular family life in Norfolk. As the mystery deepens his integrity is tested by the reciprocated fascination he has for another woman, Abigail Shakespeare, who becomes involved. Eventually, the incredible significance of the relic becomes apparent and a dark secret from humanity's past is uncovered. Whilst Professor Hewson attempts to stay one step ahead of the police and a murderous third party, it's down to Justin and Abigail to avert a reanimated danger threatening all of civilisation. Human Secrets exemplifies a new category of credible science fiction that deals with the lives of a group of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. It is a tale of romance and adventure that questions mankind's place in the past, present and future. (see review)

Orbit

Epitaph by Shaun Hutson (Orbit 07 October 2010 / £20.00) - Prolific and polymath, British author Shaun Hutson has brand new novel, Epitaph published by Orbit in hard cover.

"He sucked in a deep breath full of that strange smell he couldn't identify. He trailed his hands across the satin beneath him and to both sides of him and, when he raised his hands, above him too. He knew why it was so dark. He understood why he could see nothing. He realized why he was lying down. He was in a coffin. A distraught couple thinks you've killed their daughter and they want a confession. If you say you did it, they'll kill you. If you say you didn't, they'll leave you to die. It seems hopeless but there is one way out...What would you do?"

The Rebel Prince: Moorehawke Trilogy, Book 3 by Celine Kiernan (Orbit 07 October 2010 / £7.99) - Originally published by the O'Brien Press in Ireland, Celine Kiernan's début fantasy series, beginning with The Poisoned Throne was snapped up by Orbit, offering Kiernan the kind of worldwide distribution and market penetration that will be the envy of other first time authors. Essentially a medieval tale of courtly intrigue, its female teenage protagonist, Wynter Moorehawke (for whom the trilogy is named) is the role model for the target demographic - interestingly publishers in other territories are selling this as YA novel. Book two The Crowded Shadows was recently published and now the third and final volume The Rebel Prince is published as a paperback original.

"Wynter is at last reunited with the exiled Prince Alberon, as he plots insurgency from his forest encampment. But she is losing faith with her companions, as they attempt to drive Alberon's plans in different directions. Caught between Razi's complex diplomacy, Alberon's desire for martial strength and Christopher's fierce personal loyalty, Wynter finds herself torn. Can she combine these philosophies, and find a way to heal the rift between king and heir? Or will each side destroy the other, causing Wynter to lose everything she holds dear? She fears the answers lie veiled in conflict and loss. "

The Spirit Thief (Legend of Eli Monpress) by Rachel Aaron (Orbit 07 October 2010 / £7.99) - Just released in the UK as an Orbit paperback original, The Spirit Thief is a high spirited romping fantasy début by US author Rachel Aaron. Books two and three will follow in subsequent months and no doubt secure Ms. Aaron prime time shelf presence ... and not due just to the fortunate accident of a surname beginning with double 'a'! Our US colleague Mel Jacob reviewed the Orbit US release in last month's issue and so our own Liz De Jager humbly offers a 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. " (see review)

Pyr

The Buntline Special: A Weird West Tale by Mike Resnick (Pyr 15 December 2010 / £13.99) - Uncorrected Proof Copy: Tireless and endlessly inventive, Mike Resnick has a career stretching back through more than fifty published novels and two hundred short stories. This man is a machine! And he's also one of the most 'decorated' names in the business, with five Hugo wins under his belt and great deal more nominations over the years. And what is the secret of this success? Well, other than the obvious elements of talent and hard graft, it is Resnick's knack for consistently coming up with strong commercial ideas that keeps him on bookstore shelves when other authors have fallen by the wayside. His latest novel, to be published by Pyr in December is The Buntline Special, a novel deliciously described as "A Weird West Tale" has an irresistibly commercial hook that is bang on what the market is hot for right now.

"The year is 1881. The United States of America ends at the Mississippi River. Beyond lies the Indian nations, where the magic of powerful Medicine Men has halted the advance of the Americans east of the river.

An American government desperate to expand its territory sends Thomas Alva Edison out West to the town of Tombstone, Arizona, on a mission to discover a scientific means of counteracting magic. Hired to protect this great genius, Wyatt Earp and his brothers.

But there are plenty who would like to see the Earps and Edison dead. Riding to their aid are old friends Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson. Against them stand the Apache wizard Geronimo and the Clanton gang. Battle lines are drawn, and the Clanton gang, which has its own reasons for wanting Edison dead, sends for Johnny Ringo, the one man who might be Doc Holliday's equal in a gunfight. But what shows up instead is The Thing That Was Once Johnny Ringo, returned from the dead and come to Tombstone looking for a fight.

Welcome to a West like you've never seen before, where "Bat Masterson" hails from the ranks of the undead, where electric lights shine down on the streets of Tombstone, while horseless stagecoaches carry passengers to and fro, and where death is no obstacle to The Thing That Was Once Johnny Ringo. Think you know the story of the O.K. Corral? Think again, as five-time Hugo winner Mike Resnick takes on his first steampunk western tale, and the West will never be the same."

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne) by Mark Hodder (Pyr September 2010 / £10.09) - Mark Hodder's dark, Steampunk romp, The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack completely passed us by when it was published in the UK earlier in the year, which is a shame as plenty of readers would love to have gotten their mitts on it. Well now they can and we're grateful therefore to Pyr for passing a copy along and thus for bringing this fantastic gas-lit adventure to a wider and appreciative audience.

"It is 1861, and the British Empire is in the grip of conflicting forces. Engineers transform the landscape with bigger, faster, noisier and dirtier technological wonders; Eugenicists develop specialist animals to provide unpaid labour; Libertines oppose restrictive and unjust laws and flood the country with propaganda demanding a society based on beauty and creativity; while The Rakes push the boundaries of human behaviour to the limits with magic, sexuality, drugs and anarchy.

Returning from his failed expedition to find the source of the Nile, explorer, linguist, scholar and swordsman Sir Richard Francis Burton finds himself sucked into the perilous depths of this moral and ethical vacuum when the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, employs him as "King's Spy." His first mission: to investigate the sexual assaults committed by a weird apparition known as Spring Heeled Jack; to find out why chimney sweeps are being kidnapped by half-man, half-dog creatures; and to discover the whereabouts of his badly injured ex-friend (and new enemy), John Hanning Speke.

Accompanied by the diminutive and pain-loving poet, Algernon Swinburne, Burton's investigations lead him back to one of the defining events of the age: the brutal assassination of Queen Victoria in 1840; and the terrifying possibility that the world he inhabits shouldn't exist at all! "

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