The Black Chalice (Malory's Knights of Albion) by Steven Savile
(Abaddon Books 17 March 2011 / £7.99) - Abaddon begin an all new brand in their series of particularly good franchise fiction. This time they chose an Arthurian theme under the series title of Malory's Knights of Albion, and it's accomplished and acclaimed author Steven Savile who offers up the first book in the series, The Black Chalice.
"Aspirant to the Round Table, Sir Alymere, fails on the Grail quest but in so doing, learns of the Devil's Own Cup, "the Black Chalice" and of the Devil's Bible the foul book that will lead him to it. On his quest he will face many obstacles and cunning enemies, but the ultimate threat is to his very soul." (see review)
Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Backlash by Aaron Allston
(Arrow 10 March 2011 / £7.99) - Arrow big push on their eye-catching Star Wars novels continues with the release of Backlash, a 'Fate of the Jedi' story penned by popular Star Wars author Aaron Allston.
"Three major storylines run through the Fate of the Jedi series. One is the odyssey of Jedi Grand-Master-in-Exile Luke Skywalker and his son Ben, as they travel from one world of non-Jedi Force-users to the next in search of clues as to what might have turned Jacen Solo to embrace the evil ways of the Sith Lords. The second is the attempts of Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala to break the power of the Jedi Order, while young Jedi Knights on a variety of worlds are inexplicably going
insane. And the third is the tale of a previously unknown lost tribe of Sith as they rejoin the known galaxy determined to kill Luke Skywalker, destroy all the Jedi, and reinstate the Sith as supreme rulers. In Backlash, Luke and Ben will visit the deadly world of Dathomir, home to the Night Sisters, otherwise known as the Dathomiri Witches, as an ancient evil, released from its prison, stretches its hungry tendrils ever farther through the galaxy..."
Iron Crowned: Dark Swan 3 by Richelle Mead
(Bantam 31 March 2011 / £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 Iron Crowned, the third in Mead's Dark Swan series, featuring shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham.
"Shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham is the best at banishing entities trespassing in the mortal realm. But as the Thorn Land's queen, she's fast running out of ways to end the brutal war devastating her kingdom. Her only hope: the Iron Crown, a legendary object even the most powerful fear...
But who can she trust to help her? Fairy king Dorian has his own agenda. And Kiyo, her shape-shifter ex-boyfriend, has every reason to betray her. To control the Crown's all-consuming powers, Eugenie must confront an unimaginable temptation – one which puts her soul and the fate of two worlds in mortal danger..."
The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse by Steven C Schlozman Dr
(Bantam Press 14 April 2011 / £12.99) - Zombies... they're everywhere nowadays. The same can be said for illustrated manual type Zombie books. In recent months we've seen Dr Dale's Zombie Dictionary: The A-Z Guide to Staying Alive published by Allison & Busby and over in the US, Eos have released Adam Troy Castro's Z is for Zombies.
If you're still craving brainsss after those two, you might try this latest release from Bantam Press, The Zombie Autopsies, by Steven C Schlozman, MD - about whom you can find out a little here.
"It seems that renowned zombie expert Dr Stanley Blum kept a detailed record of the vital work that he and his crack medical team conducted in their desperate bid to find a cure for the epidemic that is devastating the world. This is his notebook and it doesn't make comfortable reading. Here he documents the unique biology of zombie organisms for the first time, Notes taken during his dissection of immobilized but still functioning zombies include graphic depictions of the internal workings of these once-humans, and reveal in grim detail the zombie anatomy and offer shocking insights into how these creatures function. This is not a book for the fainthearted. And what soon becomes tragically clear is that Blum and his staff were caught up in a race against time...for they too start to succumb to the zombie plague. We can only guess at the fate of Dr. Blum. But now that his notebook has been made available to the UN, the WHO and the wider world, we can only pray that Blum's scientific discoveries offer some hope for humankind on earth against the plague of the living dead..."
At the Gates of Darkness (Demonwar Saga 2) by Raymond E. Feist
(Harper Voyager 03 March 2011 / £6.99) - Raymond E. Feist's concluding novel in his Demon War series is At The Gates of Darkness, which is now published in mass market paperback by HarperCollins Voyager.
"Recent events have shocked and devastated the Conclave of Shadows; the discovery of the Demon horde that is following the elven invaders of Midkemia; the rise of the mad magician Belasco, and the personal cost paid by Pug and his family. But grieving for lost loved-ones must wait. The followers of the Demon prince have almost succeeded in bringing him through the dimensions. The Conclave must regroup and find a way to meet the approaching evil, whilst trying to stop civil war from destroying Triagia before the demon horde even arrives."
The Inheritance by Robin Hobb
(Harper Voyager 31 March 2011 / £20.00) - Single author short story collections - especially in hardcover are rare things indeed, and especially in the current publishing climate. The Inheritance bucks the trend however - in more ways than one - for it contains stories by two authors, Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm, both well known names in the genre field and both pen names of the same author! A two-for-one collection with an ingenious cover design.
"A collection of novellas and stories from one of the most critically acclaimed authors in the fantasy genre, Robin Hobb. Including work written under her pseudonym, Megan Lindholm.
Bingtown heiresses rub shoulders in this wonderful collection with vampires and alien musicians, tramps and feral cats.
In 'The Homecoming', Lady Carillion Carrock and a number of other Jamaillian nobles are sailing to the Cursed Shores. Their journey is not by choice: for plotting against the Satrap, their wealth has been confiscated and they have been exiled. Until now, Carillion has done nothing but lead a life of privilege. She believes they are bound for wondrous cities, cities where ancient kings and queens dusted their skin with gold and wore jewels above their eyes. But when she is marooned by the ship's unscrupulous captain, she will soon discover the grim reality of what survival in the Rain Wilds entails.
The Silver Lady is a would-be writer, ekeing out a dull existence by working in a Sears store. The one day a man comes in: fortyish, pleasant-looking. Nothing out of the ordinary. Except he says his name is Merlin, and he's about to change her life.
Rosemary got involved with the wrong man. Pell is lazy, good for nothing, a bully. Her best friend Hilia knew it and so did her tom cat, Marmalade. But love is blind: Rosemary had Pell's baby, renovated the cottage his grandfather left in his will, turned its land to good use; and then he left her for another woman. Now he's back, and something must be done..."
The Rain Wild Chronicles (2) - Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb
(Harper Voyager 01 April 2011 / £7.99) - Robin Hobb takes readers back to the world of her Liveships Traders in Dragon Haven, the second instalment of The Rain Wild Chronicles now published in mass market paperback by Voyager.
"Return to the world of the Liveships Traders and journey along the Rain Wild River in the second instalment of high adventure from the author of the internationally acclaimed Farseer trilogy. The dragon keepers and the fledgling dragons are forging a passage up the treacherous Rain Wild River. They are in search of the mythical Elderling city of Kelsingra, and are accompanied by the liveship Tarman, its captain, Leftrin, and a group of hunters who must search the forests for game with which to keep the dragons fed. With them are Alise, who has escaped her cold marriage to the cruel libertine Hest Finbok in order to continue her study of dragons, and Hest's amanuensis, Bingtown dandy, Sedric. Rivalries and romances are already threatening to disrupt the band of explorers: but external forces may prove to be even more dangerous. Chalcedean merchants are keen to lay hands on dragon blood and organs to turn them to medicines and profit. Their traitor has infiltrated the expeditionand will stop at nothing to obtain the coveted body parts. And then there are the Rain Wilds themselves: mysterious, unstable and ever perilous, its mighty river running with acid, its jungle impenetrable and its waterways uncharted. Will the expedition reach their destination unscathed? Does the city of Kelsingra even exist? Only one thing is certain: the journey will leave none of the dragons nor their human companions unchanged by the experience."
Wintercraft: Blackwatch by Jenna Burtenshaw
(Headline 14 April 2011 / £6.99) - Uncorrected proof Copy: Jenna Burtenshaw's sequel to her much lauded début Wintercraft is published by Headline. Blackwatch is a trade paperback release, the latest in this excellent YA series, described by The Times as 'Hugely fun, and deliciously shivery.'
"Kate has escaped the clutches of the High Council and Silas has left Albion for the continent. But their lives are forever linked and as the veil weakens, causing Albion's skilled to fear for everyone's safety, Silas and Kate find themselves drawn together by the mysterious and corrupt Dalliah Grey..
Hodder & Stoughton
Outpost by Adam Baker
(Hodder & Stoughton 14 April 2011 / £12.99) - The end of the world has never been more popular - in terms of fiction, at least! Début novel, Outpost is a chilling (in more ways than one) post-apocalyptic horror story that Hodder are justifiably excited about, not least as it comes from home grown talent in the form of new British author Adam Baker. Now published in trade paperback, this is one to watch, for sure.
"They took the job to escape the world.
They didn't expect the world to end.
Kasker Rampart: a derelict refinery platform moored in the Arctic Ocean. A skeleton crew of fifteen fight boredom and despair as they wait for a relief ship to take them home. But the world beyond their frozen wasteland has gone to hell. Cities lie ravaged by a global pandemic. One by one TV channels die, replaced by silent wavebands. The Rampart crew are marooned. They must survive the long Arctic winter, then make their way home alone. They battle starvation and hypothermia, unaware that the deadly contagion that has devastated the world is heading their way... "
Equations of Life (Metrozone) by Simon Morden
(Orbit 07 April 2011 / £7.99) - I was lucky enough to get an early look at this last July. British author Simon Morden has been around a little while, honing his talents in the short fiction markets. I listed his dimension hopping Telos Novella, Another War, back in 2005, but it was with his YA book, The Lost Art (reviewed by Iain Emsley back in our May 2007 issue) that has perhaps made his most significant impression on the market... so far, that is!
After a long wait, Orbit now publish Morden's very grown up, near future SF thriller, Equations of Life, and I confidently predict this will be Morden's break-out book, one that confidently announces his arrival as a major name in British SF. It's a fantastic piece of work - a roller-coaster ride through a post-plague hit London that made me think of Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon colliding head on with Gibson's Neuromancer, whilst side-swiping Stephenson's Snowcrash. I absolutely loved it!
Orbit publish Equations of Life this month with sequels, Theories of Flight and Degrees of Freedom both following in May and June respectively. The very bold and striking cover design should also be noted - these books look awesome!
"Meet Samuil Petrovitch: a Russian emigre with a smart mouth, a dodgy heart and a dodgier past. He's brilliant, friendless, cocky and even in a world where the No. 1 rule is 'don't get involved', he stands out as a selfish, miserable b*****d. Petrovitch debuts in EQUATIONS OF LIFE: a fast-paced, wise-cracking, action-packed romp through the overcrowded, decaying urban jungle of a not-so-distant future, featuring amongst many other ingredients exiled yakuza, Russian gangsters, gang warfare, virtual reality and a two-metre-tall warrior-nun packing an unfeasibly large automatic pistol. YOU ARE NOW ENTERING THE LONDON METROZONE. THE TIME IS SEVEN THIRTY-FIVE IN THE MORNING, TWO DECADES AFTER ARMAGEDDON. MIND THE GAP. " (see review)
The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett
(Orbit 07 April 2011 / £7.99) - Robert Jackson Bennett's assured debut Mr Shivers was an impressive first novel indeed and now publisher Orbit, who clearly (and with good reason) have high hopes for Bennett, release the follow entitled The Company Man. This is not, however, a sequel to that very strong first novel but instead "... takes on a more urban setting, but retains the same wonderful sense of atmosphere, and the same incredibly high quality writing."
"A trolley car pulls into the station with eleven dead bodies inside. Four minutes before, the factory workers were seen boarding at the previous station. Now, all are dead. And all of them are union. The year is 1919. The McNaughton Corporation is the pinnacle of American industry. They built airships that crossed the seas. Guns that won the Great War. And above all, they built Evesden: the city of tomorrow, dominated by the immense McNaughton Tower. But something is rotten at the heart of Evesden and one man must uncover its dark secret before it all goes up in flames. Caught between the union and the company, between the police and the victims, McNaughton investigator Cyril Hayes must find the truth behind the city of the future. Because if he doesn't ... he's history. "
The Dragon's Path (Dagger and the Coin) by Daniel Abraham
(Orbit 21 April 2011 / £12.99) - Daniel Abraham has been around a for a while now, carving out an impressive career with the much applauded Long Price Quartet which Orbit published in two volumes recently. However, it is the opinion of some, myself included, that he has yet to receive the recognition he deserves and that may be about to change with The Dragon's Path, the first in a brand new epic fantasy series entitled The Dagger and the Coin that may well put Abraham up there with his Orbit colleague Brent Weeks and peers Brandon Sanderson and Peter V. Brett. Worth mentioning here also is the forthcoming Leviathan Wakes, written by Abraham with Ty Frank under the name James S.A Corey, and word on the street is this one is very, very good indeed - one of the highlights of the Orbit 2011 schedule. It's a good year, it seems, to get into Daniel Abraham's work.
"The dragons are gone, the powerful magics that broke the world diluted to little more than parlour tricks, but the kingdoms of men remain and the great game of thrones goes on. Lords deploy armies and merchant caravans as their weapons, manoeuvring for wealth and influence. But a darker power is rising - an unlikely leader with an ancient ally threatens to unleash again the madness that destroyed the world once already. Only one man knows the truth and, from the shadows, must champion humanity. The world's fate stands on the edge of a Dagger, its future on the toss of a Coin ... "
The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod
(Orbit 07 April 2011 / £7.99) - One of the most wonderful things about having been doing this reviewing and commentating lark for so long (eleven years and counting!) is that I've been able to watch the careers of certain extraordinary writers develop from 'quite promising' to 'fully fledged greatness' - few personify this trajectory better than Ken MacLeod who must now surely be regarded as one of the genre's most authoritative political voices. Following his BSFA award winning book The Night Sessions, Orbit now publish The Restoration Game in mass market paperback.
"There is no such place as Krassnia. Lucy Stone should know - she was born there. In that tiny, troubled region of the former Soviet Union, revolution is brewing. Its organisers need a safe place to meet, and where better than the virtual spaces of an online game? Lucy, who works for a start-up games company in Edinburgh, has a project that almost seems made for the job: a game inspired by The Krassniad, an epic folk tale concocted by Lucy's mother Amanda, who studied there in the 1980s. Lucy knows Amanda is a spook. She knows her great-grandmother Eugenie also visited the country in the '30s, and met the man who originally collected Krassnian folklore, and who perished in Stalin's terror. As Lucy digs up details about her birthplace to slot into the game, she finds the open secrets of her family's past, the darker secrets of Krassnia's past - and hints about the crucial role she is destined to play in The Restoration Game ... "
Black Halo (Aeon's Gate) by Sam Sykes
(Pyr 22 March 2011 / £9.88) - The US edition of Black Halo, the second novel in Sam Sykes' series of The Aeon's Gate, is published in trade paperback by Pyr and precedes the British edition by a couple of months. Sykes' debut, Tome of the Underworld was very well received when it was released last April, further cementing Gollancz's (and Pyr's!)reputation for uncovering fantastic new talent in the fantasy field.
"Lenk and his band of fellow mismatched and grumpy adventurers are shipwrecked on an island. An island that is a graveyard for demons and dragonmen alike. An island inhabited by lizard men. An island of secrets that is about to become a battleground. And back in civilisation Bralston, a very different Librarian, is being sent out to learn exactly what has happened to the Tome of the Undergates and to punish those that have misused magic. And Bralston will uphold the law. But the Tome will be read and it is calling to those who would read it and open the gates to hell. Sam Sykes' unique and energetic fantasy has carved out its own place in the fantasy landscape. Critics are arguing about the book but readers have fallen for its dark and twisted charms. This is a key fantasy for the new decade."
The Noise Revealed (Noise 2) by Ian Whates
(Solaris 02 May 2011 / £7.99) - I'm seeing Ian Whates everywhere I look at the moment - his City of Hope and Despair is very visible on the Angry Robot list and over at Solaris, The Noise Revealed is now published, the second in Whates' space opera series that began with The Noise Within a year ago. And Whates' own publishing endeavours with his Newcon Press seem very buoyant too! Good news all round.
"The Noise Revealed
A time flux, a time of change. While mankind is adjusting to its first ever encounter with an alien civilisation - the Bryzaens - black-ops specialist Jim Leyton reluctantly allies himself with a mysterious visitation in order to rescue the woman he loves. This brings him into direct conflict with former employers: the United League of Allied Worlds. Scientist and businessman Philip Kaufman is fast discovering there is more to the virtual world than he ever realised, but it soon becomes clear that all is not well within the realm of Virtuality. Truth is hidden beneath lies and there are games being played, deadly games with far reaching consequences. Both men begin to suspect that the much heralded 'First Contact' is anything but first contact, and that a sinister con is being perpetrated with the whole of humankind as the victim. Now all they have to do is prove it."
Among Thieves: A Tale of the Kin by Douglas Hulick
(Tor 01 April 2011 / £7.99) - A hotly tipped fantasy debut which had a few of our publishers here in pursuit. Tor UK won the action and now release Doug Hulick's Among Thieves as a paperback original. Roc publish simultaneously in the US.
"Drothe is a Nose, an informant who finds and takes care of trouble inside the criminal organization he’s a part of. He also smuggles imperial relics on the side.
When his boss sends him to Ten Ways to track down who’s been leaning on his organization’s people, Drothe discovers hints of a much bigger mystery. Someone is trying to stir up trouble between lower-level criminal organizations, including the one Drothe belongs to. And there’s a book rumored to contain imperial glimmer (or magic) that a lot of very dangerous people seem to be looking for - including two crime bosses known as the Gray Princes.
When Drothe discovers the book, he finds himself holding a bit of swag that can bring down emperors, shatter the criminal underworld, and unlock forbidden magic…that's if he can survive long enough to use it. "
Sea of Ghosts (Gravedigger Chronicles 1) by Alan Campbell
(Tor 01 April 2011 / £16.99) - Having been so hugely impressed by Alan Campbell's début Scar Night back in 2006, I found that I really didn't get on at all well with his follow up Iron Angel, so much so, in fact, that I did not have the will to trawl through the final book in the sequence God of Clocks.
Campbell returns now with Sea of Ghosts, the first book in an all new series entitled The Gravedigger Chronicles and by all accounts he is most definitely and firmly back in his stride. Tor UK have given this book a very cool Larry Rostant cover and now publish in hard cover.
"When the last of the Gravediggers, an elite imperial infiltration unit, are disbanded and hunted down by the emperor they once served, munitions expert Colonel Thomas Granger takes refuge in the unlikeliest of places. He becomes a jailer in Ethugra – a prison city of poison-flooded streets and gaols in which a million enemies of the empire are held captive. But when Granger takes possession of two new prisoners, he realises that he can’t escape his past so readily.
Ianthe is a young girl with an extraordinary psychic talent. A gift that makes her unique in a world held to ransom by the powerful Haurstaf – the sisterhood of telepaths who are all that stand between the Empire and the threat of the Unmer, the powerful civilization of entropic sorcerers and dragon-mounted warriors. In this war-torn land, she promises to make Granger an extremely wealthy man, if he can only keep her safe from harm.
This is what Granger is best at. But when other factions learn about Ianthe's unique ability, even Granger's skills of warfare are tested to their limits. While, Ianthe struggles to control the powers that are growing in ways no-one thought were possible. Another threat is surfacing: out there, beyond the bitter seas, an old and familiar enemy is rising – one who, if not stopped, will drown the world and all of humanity with it..."
The Sea Watch (Shadows of the Apt) by Adrian Tchaikovsky
(Tor 04 February 2011 / £7.99) - The sixth title in Adrian Tchaikovsky's seemingly unstoppable ongoing Shadows of the Apt fantasy series. The Sea Watch is published in paperback original by Tor UK.
"A shadow is falling over Collegium.
Despite the tenuous peace, Stenwold Maker knows that the Empire will return for his city. Even as he tries to prepare for the resurgence of the black and gold, a hidden threat is steadily working against his people. Ships that sail from Collegium's harbour are being attacked, sunk by pirates. Some just go missing...
Lulled by the spread of lies and false promises Stenwold’s allies are falling away from him. He faces betrayal on every side, and the Empire is just waiting for the first sign of weakness to strike. But the Empire is not the only power that has its eyes on Collegium. And even the Wasp-kinden may be powerful enough to stave off the forces massing in the darkness and turning hungry eyes towards Stenwold's city. "
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