Sunday, March 31, 2013

Voodoo, Vol.2 – “The Killer In Me” (DC)

Voodoo-Vol-02Writer: Joshua Williamson | Artist: Sami Basri | Colors: Jessica Kholinne

Black Razor Agent Fallon has finally tracked down Voodoo and has her cornered! Now it’s time for revenge. But Voodoo knows the truth of her own origins and will decide if she's going to be a hero – or a villain! Then, Pris is forced to confront exactly what she has become after being experimented on by the Daemonites. She’s offered a deal by the Black Razors... but wherever way she turns, it’s guaranteed more blood will be on her hands.

Collects: Voodoo #7-12 & #0

This book brings the Voodoo series to a close. Given the critical reaction at its start, I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. I liked the ideas the series included, and it’s a pity it had to end. That being said, some of the chapters in this book felt like the series had been written off.

Batman: Dark Knight – “Golden Dawn” (DC)

DarkKnight-GoldenDawnWriter: David Finch | Artist: David Finch (#1-4), Jason Fabock (#4-5) | Inks: Scott Williams (#1-3), Richard Friend (#3), Ryan Winn (#4), Batt (#4-5), Sal Regla (#5), Jaime Mendoza (#5), Ray McCarthy (#5), Greg Adams (#5) | Colors: Alex Sinclair (#1-3), Peter Steigerwald (#4-5), Tony Aviña (#5)

Delving into the more supernatural and esoteric areas of Gotham City, the five-part storyline explores the horrific murder of one of Bruce Wayne’s childhood friends... and the terrible ramifications the brutal crime has on Batman’s life.

Collects: Batman: Dark Knight – Golden Dawn #1-5

Just a very quick review. I’d been going back and forth about reading this book for a while, but I eventually bit the bullet and dove in. It was pretty good, but not without its flaws. Overall, if you’re a fan of the darker, weirder and more-supernatural elements of the DCU, then this should suit your tastes.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Reading Round-Up: Marvel Comics


A strange combination of having had a ton of spare time to read and a new job means I probably won’t be able to write my usual-type of review for many of the books and graphic novels I’ve read over the past couple of months. For some books, I will still write longer reviews, but for many (if not most) I’ll include them in occasional round-/catch-up posts with mini-reviews. Today, I take a look at recently-read Marvel titles.


Reviewed: Amazing Spider-Man “Red-Headed Stranger”, “Return of the Black Cat” & “The Gauntlet Vol.1”; Rick Remender’s Venom Vols.1-3, Ultimate Comics – X-Men Vol.1, Ultimate Comics – Hawkeye, Daredevil Yellow

Upcoming: “Steelheart” by Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz)

Spotted this on Amazon UK, while looking up info for any new Brandon Sanderson releases, and thought I’d share it on here:


Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics... nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

Disclaimer: I work for Brandon’s UK Agent

Steelheart will be published in the UK by Gollancz in September 2013. I was lucky to get my mitts on a copy, though, and I blitzed through the first quarter of the novel last night – it’s a lot of fun. I’ll do a quick sort-of-review on here when I’ve finished it. If you’re a fan of super-heroes, but always wondered what humans would do if the super-powered persons all used their abilities for evil… Well, this could be the novel for you.

I also hope it’ll open up the sub-genre of super-hero fiction, as I’d like to read more of it. (And I’m writing one myself, actually…)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Upcoming: “Avengers: Endless Wartime” (Marvel)


This is just a badass image. One of my favourite, recent pieces

In October 2013, Marvel will be releasing the first in a new series of original graphic novels. For those of us who tend to wait for collected editions of the monthly series, this is a great development. We’ll get a decent, “movie-length epic” (according to the press release). Here’s the premise for the first book, Avengers: Endless Wartime:

An abomination, long thought buried, has resurfaced in a war-torn land – but now it wears an American flag. Faced with another nightmare reborn, Captain America will not stand for yet more death at the hands of a ghost from his past. Haunted by his greatest shame, Thor must renew the hunt for a familiar beast. Side by side with the great Super Heroes the world has seen, united to end the threats no one of them could face alone, the Avengers will stare down the greatest threat the team has ever faced. But is even their combined might enough to overcome a force of pure evil?

If you like Comics, you really should be reading… InkPen

A syndicated daily comic strip by Phil Dunlap, I’ve been reading InkPen for longer than I’ve actually been reading comics. Nevertheless, it’s great fun, poking fun at super-hero tropes, comic standards and so much more.


“Devil Said Bang” by Richard Kadrey (Voyager)


How do you rule the unruly? Sandman Slim in Hell! Again…

While ruling the denizens of darkness does have a few perks, James Stark isn’t exactly thrilled at the course his career (not to mention his soul) has taken. Breaking out of Hell once was a miraculous trick. But twice? If anyone can do it, it’s Sandman Slim. While he’s working out the details of his latest escape plan, Slim has to figure out how to run his new domain and hold off a host of trigger-happy killers mesmerized by that bulls-eye on his back. Everyone in Heaven, Hell, and in between wants to be the fastest gun in the universe, and the best way to prove it is to take down the new Lucifer, aka Sandman Slim aka James Stark.

Then again, LA isn’t quite the paradise it once was since he headed south. A serial killer ghost is running wild and his angelic alter-ago is hiding somewhere in the lost days of time with a secret cabal who can rewrite reality. And starting to care about people and life again is a real bitch for a stone-cold killer

Ah, Sandman Slim… One of the best Urban Fantasy series on the market reaches its fourth volume. If you’re looking for a gritty tale of Heaven, Hell, Nephilim, batshit crazy supernatural people and creatures, weird hoodoo, and weird shenanigans, there’s really no better series or author to turn to. This series is a must-read.

[Disclaimer: There are some minor spoilers for the previous books in the series, but I’ve tried to keep the review short and to-the-point.]

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Video & Giveaway – Leigh Evans

EvansL-M1-TroubleWithFateSomething a little different for the blog today. Instead of an interview, here area a couple of video clips in which author Leigh Evans discusses her new novel, The Trouble With Fate. Here’s the synopsis for the first novel in Evans’ Mystwalker series:


Hedi looks normal. Yet that’s taken effort. Her fellow Starbucks baristas don’t see her pointed ears, fae amulet or her dark past, and normal is hard for a half-fae, half-werewolf on the run. Hedi’s life changed ten years ago, when her parents were murdered by unknown assassins. She’s been in hiding with her loopy aunt Lou since, as whatever they wanted she’s determined they won’t get it. Things change when wolves capture Lou, forcing Hedi to steal to free her – for if she can offer up a fae amulet like her own they may trade. But it belongs to a rogue werewolf named Robson Trowbridge, who betrayed Hedi on the night of her greatest need. Over forty-eight hours, Hedi will face the weres of Creemore, discover the extent of her fae powers and possibly break her own heart in the process.

First up, a clip of Leigh Evans discussing the characters in her novel:

And secondly, a clip in which Leigh discusses the setting of her novel:

But wait, there’s more!

To celebrate the release of The Trouble With Fate, Macmillan have offered a couple of copies of the book for a giveaway.

Just leave your entry in the comments thread, or email me at the usual email address.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Guest Post: Can there be such a thing as “Too Much Fantasy?” by David Emrys

David E. Emrys is the author of a couple of self-published fantasies. I got to chatting with him on Twitter, and he seemed like a good fellow. So I asked if he’d like to write something. And he did. So here it is.


Is the fantasy world over-populated? It’s a valid question and one that keeps raising its ugly head in the current era of ‘Lord of the Authors: The Fellowship of the Fantasy’.

Without battling out the topic of Indie vs Traditional, I want to take a moment and talk about fantasy worlds. A simple blog post can’t cover every single fantasy tome to have ever graced a book shelf (or a digital market place like Amazon, for all you e-publishing gurus), but we can highlight a few.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Upcoming: “The Eidolon” by Libby McGugan (Solaris)

McGuganL-EidolonI stumbled across this book completely by accident, but it looked kind of interesting (which makes me wonder why it hasn’t been mentioned more often, elsewhere…). The Eidolon is Libby McGugan’s debut novel, and here is the synopsis:

When physicist Robert Strong loses his job at the Dark Matter research lab and his relationship falls apart, he returns home to Scotland. Then the dead start appearing to him, and Robert begins to question his own sanity.

Vincent Amos, an enigmatic businessman, arrives and recruits Robert to sabotage CERN’S Large Hadron Collider, convincing him the next step in the collider’s research will bring about disaster. Everything Robert once understood about reality, and the boundaries between life and death, is about to change forever. And the biggest change will be to Robert himself...

The Eidolon will be published by Solaris Books in October 2013.

Upcoming: “Blood Song” by Anthony Ryan (Ace)


Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song was originally self-published, but Penguin snapped it up in 2012. I know a few other reviewers have already read the novel, and general consensus seems to be that it’s one to watch.

An epic fantasy exploring themes of conflict, loyalty and religious faith.

We have fought battles that left more than a hundred corpses on the ground and not a word of it has ever been set down. The Order fights, but often it fights in shadow, without glory or reward. We have no banners.

Vaelin Al Sorna’s life changes forever the day his father abandons him at the gates of the Sixth Order, a secretive military arm of the Faith. Together with his fellow initiates, Vaelin undertakes a brutal training regime – where the price of failure is often death. Under the tutelage of the Order’s masters, he learns how to forge a blade, survive the wilds and kill a man quickly and quietly.

Now his new skills will be put to the test. War is coming. Vaelin is the Sixth Order’s deadliest weapon and the Realm’s only hope. He must draw upon the very essence of his strength and cunning if he is to survive the coming conflict. Yet as the world teeters on the edge of chaos, Vaelin will learn that the truth can cut deeper than any sword.

Blood Song, the first book in Ryan’s Raven’s Shadow series, will be published by Ace Books in July 2013 in the US.

UPDATE: Rather quietly, it was announced that Orbit has bought publishing rights for the UK. The novel will be released as an eBook in April, and a Hardcover later in July. The UK artwork has been added to the top of the post, on the right.

Friday, March 22, 2013

“God’s War” by Kameron Hurley (Night Shade/Del Rey UK)


The start of a new, unconventional SF trilogy

Nyx had already been to hell. One prayer more or less wouldn’t make any difference...

On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there's one thing everybody agrees on...

There’s not a chance in hell of ending it.

Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx’s ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war – but at what price?

The world is about to find out.

This is an unconventional, highly original and enjoyable debut sci-fi novel. I took my sweet time getting to it, for reasons I cannot fathom, but since its release in 2010 it’s received a lot of positive coverage from around the blogosphere. And now I know why. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, but it’s tightly written, well-constructed (for the most part), and… well, bonkers. I enjoyed this.

It also has one of the greatest, make-you-sit-up-and-take-note first sentences: “Nyx sold her womb somewhere between Punjai and Faleen, on the edge of the desert.”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Creepy Artwork from Zenescope

This is Giuseppe Cafaro’s surprisingly, pleasantly sinister cover-variant from Zenescope for Wonderland #8. It’s a really dark twist on Zenescope’s usual aesthetic.


We’re Going Through Changes…

So, I mentioned on Twitter that I had a new part-time job. One from which the issue of Conflicts of Interest could arise. It is a job with a Literary Agency in the UK, and it does pose an ethical and practical conundrum for the website.

First, of course, is that any review I write for an author we represent will be automatically suspect. This is, of course, self-evident. However, seeing as I’ve already reviewed an absolute ton of the authors represented by this agency (most way before I ever considered applying for a job at the company), I wonder just how much of a problem it could be? If I were to include a disclaimer, would this be enough? I applied for a job at this agency because I loved so many of their clients’ work. Something to ponder, certainly.

Second, what about negative reviews of novels and authors we don’t represent? Could this be construed as an attempt (however small and futile) at professional sabotage? That would certainly never be my intent – longtime readers will know that I am leery of posting negative reviews to begin with (save for Big Names and Classics, which I do believe add to the discussion).

Third, I don’t know how much time I’m going to have. True, the job is currently part-time, and I will always want to keep reading books (comics, novels, and non-fiction) and probably never tire of writing about what I’ve read – under the perhaps-delusional belief that people give a monkey’s about my opinion.

Therefore, I have decided that I will keep reviewing novels, and remain open for review copies. We may see a slight tilt towards more thrillers and other non-SFF novels featuring on the blog (more of a mix, in other words), but the there will still be plenty of comics and graphic novels reviewed, and I don’t see how there would be a conflict if I were to keep featuring interviews, news posts, art posts, guest posts, and other non-review content.

My first literary love remains SFF (and politics/history, but that’s on another website), so the chances of them disappearing from my shelves and therefore blog are next-to-zero. I will always indicate if a book is represented by the agency I work for – up-front and clearly, but I don’t think there is anything that will stop me wanting to write about what I read.

Welcome your thoughts, if you have any. I would also welcome more guest reviews, if anyone’s interested in writing for CR.

[NB: Anyone who sends me a submission through any email connected to this website or my personal one will be automatically blacklisted in my mind. Just so you know…]

Art: “Be My Enemy” by Ian McDonald (Jo Fletcher/Pyr)

The Everness series is one I will be checking out very soon, I just wanted to share the newly-released artwork for Ian McDonald’s Be My Enemy (published by Jo Fletcher in June 2013):


James Rollins’s BLOODLINE Giveaway

Rollins-BloodlineUS-MMPBAnother giveaway (having a lot of them, these days), this time for James Rollins’s latest Sigma Force novel, Bloodline. Quite simple to enter, all you have to do is go:


And then, just fill out the nice, easy form.

Here’s some info about the book:

Galilee, 1025. Infiltrating an ancient citadel, a Templar knight uncovers a holy treasure long hidden within the fortress's labyrinth: the Bachal Isu — the staff of Jesus Christ — a priceless icon that holds a mysterious and terrifying power that promises to change humankind forever.

A millennium later, Somali pirates hijack a yacht off the coast of the Horn of Africa, kidnapping a young pregnant American woman. Commander Gray Pierce is enlisted for a covert rescue mission into the African jungle. The woman is no rich tourist: she’s Amanda Gant-Bennett, daughter of the U.S. president.

Suspicious that the kidnapping masks a far more nefarious plot, Gray must confront a shadowy cabal which has been manipulating events throughout history...and now challenges the current presidency.

For this unique mission, SIGMA is aided by a pair of special operatives with unique talents: former Army Ranger Captain Tucker Wayne and his military war dog, Kane. But what should be a straightforward rescue turns into a fiery ambush and a deadly act of betrayal, as Gray and his team discover that the hostage is a pawn in a shattering act of terrorism with dark repercussions. And the danger is only beginning...

Halfway around the world, a firebombing at a fertility clinic in South Carolina exposes a conspiracy that goes back centuries…a scheme that lies within our genetic code. With time against them, SIGMA must race to save an innocent unborn baby whose very existence raises questions about the nature of humanity, asking:

Could you live forever?

Would you live forever?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013



Continuing my slow meander through Canadian publisher ChiZine’s stable of interesting and quirky authors, I bring you today a Q&A with Chandler Klang Smith, author of Goldenland Past Dark

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wonder Woman, Vol.2 – “Guts” (DC)

WonderWoman-Vol-02Writer: Brian Azzarello | Artist: Cliff Chiang (#7-8, 11), Tony Atkins (#9-10), Kano (#10) | Inks: Dan Green (#9-) | Colors: Matthew Wilson

Wonder Woman goes to hell! After playing Poseidon, Hades, and Hera against each other, Hades strikes back by kidnapping Zola and trapping her in the Underworld. It’s up to Wonder Woman — with a little help from the God of Love and the God of Smiths — to break Zola out. But what is Hades’ real game, and once you get into the land of the dead, how exactly do you get out?

Collects: Wonder Woman #7-12

I rather enjoyed the first collection of Azzarello’s run on Wonder Woman. Chiang’s artwork is great, and Azzarello’s story has some surprises and is a pretty interesting interpretation of Greek Mythology. Where the first collection, “Blood” was strong, “Guts” didn’t live up to my expectations as much as I had hoped – mainly because there’s a bit of a weak middle-section. Otherwise, though, this is still pretty interesting and it does end on a strong note.

Guest Post: “Libraries and Civilization” by Jo Walton (& Giveaway!)

Walton-AmongOthersUKIn 2004, I went to the World Science Fiction Convention in Boston, and after the con I went with some friends to see the Mary Baker Eddy Library and its amazing Mapparium, It’s a globe made entirely of stained glass which you can walk inside – it has room for maybe a dozen people. It has amazing acoustics, which the guide encouraged us to test. People were doing various things, and I did my standard thing I do when asked to “say something”, Keats “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer”. I’ve been using it for mic tests for years. Inside the globe it sounded wonderful, even more wonderful than usual, because of the acoustics and because of being surrounded by the glowing glass world. It’s a sonnet about the amazing wonderful power of reading. In it, Keats is all excited about having read Chapman’s translation of Homer. He compares reading it to finding a new planet and even to discovering the Pacific.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Disturbing New Marvel Cover Art…

There’s something wrong with this cover. Cyclops looks real bad-ass, sure, but part of me wants to make inappropriate jokes at “Daddy’s Home.” The other part of me thinks it’s a really sinister piece of art…

This is the cover of Cable & X-Force #7, which will be published April 17th 2013. The issue is written by Dennis Hopeless, with the cover and internal artwork by Salvador Larroca.

“Before They Are Hanged” by Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz/Pyr)

Abercrombie-BeforeTheyAreHangedThe awesome, second novel in the First Law trilogy

Bitter and merciless war is coming to the frozen north. It’s bloody and dangerous and the Union army, split by politics and hamstrung by incompetence, is utterly unprepared for the slaughter that’s coming. Lacking experience, training, and in some cases even weapons the army is scarcely equipped to repel Bethod’s scouts, let alone the cream of his forces.

In the heat-ravaged south the Gurkish are massing to assault the city of Dagoska, defended by Inquisitor Glokta. The city is braced for the inevitable defeat and massacre to come, preparations are made to make the Gurkish pay for every inch of land… but a plot is festering to hand the city to its beseigers without a fight, and the previous Inquisitor of Dagoska vanished without trace. Threatened from within and without the city, Glokta needs answers, and he needs them soon.

And to the east a small band of malefactors travel to the edge of the world to reclaim a device from history – a Seed, hidden for generations – with tremendous destructive potential. A device which could put a end to war, to the army of Eaters in the South, to the invasion of Shanka from the North – but only if it can be found, and only if its power can be controlled…

I am a newcomer to Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series. Despite buying (and subsequently losing) all of his novels. I read the first book, The Blade Itself, and while I enjoyed it a great deal, I didn’t quite see the genius that so many of my friends and fellow reviewers saw. Then I read Before They Are Hanged. NOW I get it. This is a fantastic book, that had me hooked from the first page onwards. Joe Abercrombie is, frankly, a fantasy genius.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Upcoming: “The Tyrant’s Law” by Daniel Abraham (Orbit)

Abraham-D&C-3-TheTyrantsLawDan Abraham is one of my favourite authors. Despite the very odd (and annoying) fact that his books are so often books I Save For Later… Anyway, The Tyrant’s Law is the third book in Abraham’s current fantasy series, The Dagger & the Coin, which began with the excellent The Dragon’s Path and was followed by the as-yet-unread-by-me The King’s Blood.

The great war cannot be stopped.

The tyrant Geder Palliako had led his nation to war, but every victory has called forth another conflict. Now the greater war spreads out before him, and he is bent on bringing peace. No matter how many people he has to kill to do it.

Cithrin bel Sarcour, rogue banker of the Medean Bank, has returned to the fold. Her apprenticeship has placed her in the path of war, but the greater dangers are the ones in her past and in her soul.

Widowed and disgraced at the heart of the Empire, Clara Kalliam has become a loyal traitor, defending her nation against itself. And in the shadows of the world, Captain Marcus Wester tracks an ancient secret that will change the war in ways not even he can forsee.

The Tryant’s Law will be published in the US and UK by Orbit, in May 2013.

What Should I Read Next…?

I’m incredibly indecisive when it comes to picking my next read. Usually. There are times, of course, when nothing is going to stop me reading a particular book. (Most recently, that was the case with Peter V. Brett’s The Daylight War, despite my intended wish to mix things up  a bit more… I loved it, so it worked out in the end. Later in the year, it’ll be Scott Lynch’s Republic of Thieves.)

I currently find myself in one of these moments of indecisiveness. Here are the options (followed, after the break, but synopses):


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Scarlet Spider, Vol.1 – “Life After Death” (Marvel)

ScarletSpider-Vol.1Writer: Chris Yost | Artist: Ryan Stegman (#1-4, #6), Neil Edwards (#5) | Inks: Michael Babinski (#1-4), Von Grawbadger (#3), Karl Kesel (#5) | Colors: Marte Gracia (1-2) Andre Mossa (#3) Edgar Delgado (#4-6)

Spinning out of Spider-Island, The secrets of the Brand New Scarlet Spider revealed! Who is the new webbed wonder – and why has he come to face corruption in Houston, Texas?

Collects: Scarlet Spider #1-6

I read a short Scarlet Spider story in a random Marvel Point One issue I picked up on Free Comic Book Day in 2012. I rather liked it, but have only just got around to trying out more of the series. And, I must say, I really enjoyed this. Definitely a series to check out if you want an edgier character in the Spider-Man universe.

Upcoming: “Riyria Chronicles” by Michael Sullivan (Orbit)

Later this year, Orbit are publishing two more novels set in Michael Sullivan’s Riyria fantasy world. The two books are set before Theft of Swords and the Riyria Revelations series, but do not have to be read first – they fill in some details that are alluded to in the first series (which also includes Rise of Empire and Heir of Novron).


Upcoming: “Martian Sands” by Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)

Tidhar-MartianSandsLavie Tidhar, award-winning author of Osama and The Bookman Histories, will be releasing a new novella this month: Martian Sands. I must sadly admit that I haven’t read much of Tidhar’s work – something I definitely intend to remedy in the near future, probably starting with this. here’s the synopsis:

1941: an hour before the attack on Pearl Harbour, a man from the future materialises in President Roosevelt’s office. His offer of military aid may cut the War and its pending atrocities short, and alter the course of the future…

The future: welcome to Mars, where the lives of three ordinary people become entwined in one dingy smokesbar the moment an assassin opens fire. The target: the mysterious Bill Glimmung. But is Glimmung even real? The truth might just be found in the remote FDR Mountains, an empty place, apparently of no significance, but where digital intelligences may be about to bring to fruition a long-held dream of the stars…

Mixing mystery and science fiction, the Holocaust and the Mars of both Edgar Rice Burroughs and Philip K. Dick, Martian Sands is a story of both the past and future, of hope, and love, and of finding meaning — no matter where — or when — you are.

Upcoming: “Zenn Scarlett” by Christian Schoon (Strange Chemistry)

Schoon-ZennScarlettThis is a stunning cover, and I have to admit that without it, the book may not have caught my attention. So well done, design team. I’m intrigued to see what this is like. Here’s the synopsis:

Zenn Scarlett is a bright, determined, occasionally a-little-too-smart-for-her-own-good 17-year-old girl training hard to become an exoveterinarian. That means she’s specializing in the treatment of exotic alien life forms, mostly large and generally dangerous. Her novice year of training at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars will find her working with alien patients from whalehounds the size of a hay barn to a baby Kiran Sunkiller, a colossal floating creature that will grow up to carry a whole sky-city on its back.

But after a series of inexplicable animal escapes from the school and other near-disasters, the Cloister is in real danger of being shut down by a group of alien-hating officials. If that happens, Zenn knows only too well the grim fate awaiting the creatures she loves.

Now, she must unravel the baffling events plaguing her school, before someone is hurt or killed, before everything she cares about is ripped away from her and her family forever. To solve this mystery – and live to tell about it – Zenn will have to put her new exovet skills to work in ways she never imagined, and in the process learn just how powerful compassion and empathy can be.

Zenn Scarlett will be published by Strange Chemistry in May 7th 2013.

Friday, March 15, 2013


I just really liked the cover, so I thought I’d share it here:


The cover is by Joe Quinones. The series is written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, with interior art by Filipe Andrade (pencils) and Jordie Bellaire (colors).

Captain Marvel #11 will be released on March 20th 2013.

Upcoming: “Drakenfeld” by Mark Charan Newton (Tor)

Longtime readers of the blog will know that I am a big fan of Mark Charan Newton’s work. His debut series, Legends of the Red Sun, just got better and better with each new book, until the brilliant conclusion in The Broken Isles. Today, Mark unveiled the artwork for his next novel, Drakenfeld:


I think we can all agree that it’s very eye-catching. The novel is the first in a new series, and sounds pretty fantastic. Here’s the synopsis:

“I am Lucan Drakenfeld, second son of Calludian, Officer of the Sun Chamber and peace keeper. Although sometimes it seems I am the only person who wishes to keep it …”

The monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years with treaties and laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, a long harmony has existed, nations have flourished, and civil wars are a thing of the past. But corruption, deprivation and murder will always find a way to thrive…

Upon receiving news of his father’s death and recalled to his home city of Tryum, Drakenfeld is soon embroiled in a mystifying case. King Licintius’ sister, Lacanta, has been found brutally murdered during a night of festivities – her beaten and bloody body discovered in a locked temple. Despite hundreds of revellers, no one saw anything. With rumours of dark spirits and political assassination, Drakenfeld soon has his work cut out for him trying to separate superstition from certainty.

With his assistant, Leana, he embarks on the biggest and most complex investigation of his career, revisiting the ancient streets of his past, tracking down leads, interviewing suspects and making new enemies in his search for the truth.

His determination to find the killer soon makes him a target, as the underworld of Tryum focuses on this new threat to their power…

Drakenfeld will be published in the UK by Tor in October 2013. Which is also the month that Scott Lynch’s Republic of Thieves is being published. So, it’ll be one of the best months ever…

More on CR: Reviews of The Nights of Villjamur, City of Ruins, The Book of Transformations, The Broken Isles; Interview with Mark (2011) & Catch-Up Interview (2012)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Gotrek & Felix: “The Reckoning” by Jordan Ellinger (Black Library)

Ellinger-G&F-TheReckoningA Novella from the Upcoming Gotrek & Felix: Lost Tales

Gotrek and Felix: unsung heroes of the Empire, or nothing more than common thieves and murderers? The truth perhaps lies somewhere in between, and depends entirely upon whom you ask... Summoned back to Barak Varr by the outraged King Grundadrakk, the pair discover that a terrible crime has been committed – the dwarfen hold’s Book of Grudges has been stolen, right out of its sealed vault. Given that his own name appears upon its fading pages, Gotrek is honour-bound to join an expedition to recover the ancient tome. How far will the trail lead, and just what manner of individual would seek to rob the dwarfs of their vengeful legacy

I’m not a fan of buying novellas individually if they will be released later in a collected anthology, but when The Reckoning was released, I really fancied a short dip back into the Warhammer setting with my two favourite characters. And luckily, this story is really rather good.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Guest Post: “Influences & Inspirations” by Fredrik Brounéus

Brouneus-PrinceOfSoul&TheLighthouseCivilian Reader has not featured enough authors from Down Under. Aside from some of the better-known SFF authors from all the way over there (e.g. Helen Lowe), not many people realise that there’s a huge SFF community down there. So, after a very amusing email from their head publicist, I discovered Steam Press (there was a very good joke about sheep and Hobbits). Anyway, I reached out for some guest posts and interviews with some of their authors. I hope to feature more Australian and New Zealand authors on the blog in the coming weeks and months, so watch this space!

To kick things off, I bring you a guest post from Fredrik Brounéus, a Swedish writer who has lived in Dunedin since 2009. His previous books include a children’s thriller and a young adult pop novel, both of which were published in Swedish. His first English-language novel is The Prince of Soul and The Lighthouse.


“Influences & Inspirations”

Having read some of the excellent Influences & Inspiration guest posts on the Civilian Reader blog, I was inspired to share a piece about one of my own muses: my worries.

I’m the worrying kind. Don’t know if it’s in my genes (my dad – a great worrier; my mom – a legendary Amazon worrier) or just a hobby turned into a habit. As a kid I kept coming up with new stuff to fear – such as the TFM (Toilet Flush Monster), who’d grab me if I didn’t reach the carpet outside the bathroom in time; or the ghoul disguised as a magpies’ nest outside our house, which had me darting past the living room window to get to the kitchen alive.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Marvel: THREE New Wolverine Titles…?


Last year, I had a chat with the President of a comics company in the US, and we joked about Marvel’s addiction to Wolverine and how he features in an ever-increasing number of their titles. With the roll-out of the Marvel NOW not-a-reboot-honest, readers will (of course) be offered some more titles that are all about Wolverine: Wolverine, Savage Wolverine and the soon-to-be-launched Ultimate Comics – Wolverine. Can there be too much of a great character? After all, he is a member of the Avengers, too…

Upcoming: Zenescope’s UNLEASHED Event

I posted some teaser images for this upcoming comics event a little while back, but Zenescope recently unveiled some new artwork. This time, it’s the complete, interlinked cover art for the first five comics in the event: Werewolves – The Hunger #1, Vampires – The Eternal #1, Hunters – The Shadowlands #1, Demons – The Unseen #1, and Zombies – The Cursed #1:


It should en-biggen when clicked on…

GIVEAWAY! Cherie Priest’s “Clockwork Century” Series (Tor)

So, it’s been a while since I had a giveaway on CR. Thankfully, the lovely people who handle Cherie Priest’s UK publicity have offered one complete set of the author’s Clockwork Century series (below) to be won by one lucky reader of this here humble blog.


All you have to do is email me at…


… to be in with a chance to get your hands on this complete set. This is UK-only, unfortunately, but fear not international readers – I have a few more giveaways coming up over the next couple of weeks that are open to all.

I’ll leave this open for one week (March 19th 2013), and the winner will be notified via email and also in the comment thread.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Guest Review: “What Lies Within” by Tom Vowler (Headline)

Vowler-WhatLiesWithinA tightly spun, atmospheric and powerful psychological suspense.

Reviewed by Milo Milton-Jefferies

Living in a remote Devon farmhouse, Anna and her family have always been close to nature, surrounded by the haunting beauty of the moor. But when a convict escapes from nearby Dartmoor prison, their isolation suddenly begins to feel more claustrophobic than free. Fearing for her children's safety, Anna's behaviour becomes increasingly irrational. But why is she so distant from her kind husband Robert, and why does she suspect something sinister of her son Paul? All teenagers have their difficult phases...

Meanwhile, a young idealistic teacher has just started her first job, determined to 'make a difference'. But when she is brutally attacked by one of her students, her version of events is doubted by even those closest to her. Struggling to deal with the terrible consequences, she does what she can to move on and start afresh.

As the two narratives converge, the tension builds to a devastating denouement, shattering everything you thought you believed about nature, nurture and the true meaning of family.

There are several reasons why I love being a part of the blogging community, but I think one of the more important reasons is that there are literally loads of novels out there that I would never have heard of and discovered were it not for reviewing. When Stefan offered me the chance to guest review What Lies Within by Tom Vowler, I leapt at the chance, and this book turned out to be a very enjoyable reading experience, despite the fact I went into it knowing almost nothing about the book, except for the blurb and the cover.

DNF: “Assassin’s Apprentice” by Robin Hobb (Voyager)

Hobb-1-AssasinsApprenticeUKA genre classic. A very disappointed first-time reader.

Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated like an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill – and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

I bought Assassin’s Apprentice for my Kindle quite a while ago. But, whenever I’ve thought about reading the first book in Hobb’s Farseer trilogy, I have been distracted by some newer, shinier book. After reading the first chapter at work last year (I was allowed! It was for work!), I finally got on with it, and started reading it properly. What I found left me cold and unimpressed. In the end, after a particularly bad chapter, I had to quit. In the end, I only managed to read the first 20% of the novel.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Upcoming: “The Blue Blazes” by Chuck Wendig (Angry Robot)

The latest from the rather excellent Chuck Wendig, THE BLUE BLAZES, has finally got a jacket. Designed by Joey Hi-Fi (who also handled the covers for Wendig’s Blackbirds and Mockingbird), it’s pretty good:


As I told Abhinav over on The Founding Fields (who had the first reveal), it reminds me a bit of the covers for Chris F. Holm’s Collectors series (also published by Angry Robot): the two-tone background with a central device is certainly reminiscent. However, The Blue Blazes get a much busier, detailed central piece. It’s eye-catching (with the skull-like overall shape), which should catch people’s eyes as they browse bookstore shelves (or online sites). At the same time, it’s detailed enough to justify long, lingering looks to admire the many elements that have gone into the design.

Here’s the synopsis (in typically brief Angry Robot-style):

Meet Mookie Pearl.

Criminal underworld? He runs in it.

Supernatural underworld? He hunts in it.

Nothing stops Mookie when he’s on the job.

But when his daughter takes up arms and opposes him, something’s gotta give…

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ Family Matters | When Underworlds Collide | Thrill of the Hunt | Chips and Old Blocks ]

Want to learn more? Check out Wendig’s excellent website, Terrible Minds, and be sure to follow him on Twitter & Facebook.

Upcoming: “The Crimson Campaign” by Brian McClellan (Orbit)

Despite the first book in Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy still a few weeks away (I’ll get a review up ASAP), Orbit have unveiled the artwork for its sequel, THE CRIMSON CAMPAIGN:


I really like this, too. McClellan’s debut series may end up having some of the nicest covers in a long while. Or, since Joe Abercrombie’s and Mark Lawrence’s… The Photo-Illustration is by Michael Frost and Gene Mollica, and the design is by the ever-excellent and super-talented Lauren Panepinto.

No synopsis for the novel is available just yet, but The Crimson Campaign will be published by Orbit in February 2014.

Also on CR: Guest Posts by Brian McClellan “My Favorite Novel” & “Protagonist Ages in Epic Fantasy

Upcoming: “Fiddlehead” by Cherie Priest (Tor)

Priest-FiddleheadI have been slowly catching up with Cherie Priest’s popular Clockwork Century novels. I must admit I haven’t been as swept away as some readers, but they are starting to grow on me. Tor recently announced the fifth full-length novel in the series (there was also the novella, Clementine): Fiddlehead. The novel will be published in November 2013. Here’s the synopsis:

Ex-spy ‘Belle Boyd’ is retired – more or less. Retired from spying on the Confederacy anyway. Her short-lived marriage to a Union navy boy cast suspicion on those Southern loyalties, so her mid-forties found her unemployed, widowed and disgraced. Until her life-changing job offer from the staunchly Union Pinkerton Detective Agency.

When she’s required to assist Abraham Lincoln himself, she has to put any old loyalties firmly aside – for a man she spied against twenty years ago.Lincoln’s friend Gideon Bardsley, colleague and ex-slave, is targeted for assassination after the young inventor made a breakthrough. Fiddlehead, Bardsley’s calculating engine, has proved an extraordinary threat threatens the civilized world. Meaning now is not the time for conflict.

Now Bardsley and Fiddlehead are in great danger as forces conspire to keep this secret, the war moving and the money flowing. With spies from both camps gunning for her, can even the notorious Belle Boyd hold the war-hawks at bay?

I really must make an effort to catch up with this series. I’ve read and reviewed Boneshaker and the aforementioned Clementine, and will be sure to read the rest of the series soon: Dreadnought, Ganymede, The Inexplicables.


Friday, March 08, 2013

Art: FAIREST #14 (Vertigo)

I just saw this on CBR, as part of an other-wise black-and-white preview for Fairest #14, and really wanted to share it. This excellent, atmospheric piece is Adam Hughes’s cover for the Bill Willingham-penned issue from the very good Fables spin-off series:


Fairest #14 is billed as a “special issue”, written by Willingham (who created Fairest and Fables) and features internal art by Barry Kitson. Here’s the synopsis:

Dating is hard for everyone in this standalone tale — but it’s especially tricky if you’re a gorgeous tree nymph from Fabletown. Princess Alder tells her tales of woe to Reynard the fox

Fairest #14 will be published April 3rd 2013.

“Necessary Evil” by Ian Tregillis (Orbit/Tor)


The masterful conclusion to the Milkweed Triptych

12 May 1940. Westminster, London, England: the early days of World War II. Again…

The history of the Twentieth Century has been shaped by a secret conflict between technology and magic. When a twisted Nazi scientist devised a way to imbue ordinary humans with supernatural abilities – to walk through walls, throw fire and see the future – his work became the prized possession of first the Third Reich, then the Soviet Army. Only Britain’s warlocks, and the dark magics they yield, have successfully countered the threat posed by these superhuman armies.

But for decades, this conflict has been manipulated by Gretel, the mad seer. And now her long plan has come to fruition. And with it, a danger vastly greater than anything the world has known. Now British Intelligence officer Raybould Marsh must make a last-ditch effort to change the course of history – if his nation, and those he loves, are to survive.

In the final book in Tregillis’s awesome Milkweed Triptych, superhumans and dark magic collide once again in a secret, supernatural history of early Twentieth Century. A series that has consistently impressed me, and improved with each book, Necessary Evil brings the story to a close with aplomb. This is a superb conclusion, and Tregillis has pulled it off, managing to tie everything up skillfully. And I almost cried at the end…

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

An Interview with MARIE BRENNAN


A Natural History of Dragons is a book I must read. And soon. It has been on my radar for quite a while. While I was dithering, I contacted Marie about an interview, and in the process learned about another recent novel. So, here are her thoughts on writing, psychic schools, and genre.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Guest Post: “Protagonist Ages in Epic Fantasy” by Brian McClellan


Brian McClellan is the author of the upcoming PROMISE OF BLOOD, the first in the Powder Mage Trilogy (Orbit, April 2013). Here he discusses age conventions in Epic Fantasy…


“Protagonist Ages in Epic Fantasy”

The young farm boy is so common in fiction that it's become a cliché. I grew up reading about farm boys, or some other young, naive laborer, in the works of David Eddings, Tad Williams, Robert Jordan, or William Goldman. My favorite movie as a kid – Star Wars – centered around a farm boy who, like those in the books I liked, yearned for adventure and then was booted out of his home in a twist of fate and became savior of the nation! Or country. Or world. Or galaxy.

You get the point.

So why the young farm boy?

Monday, March 04, 2013

“Unholy Magic” by Stacia Kane (Voyager/Del Rey)

KaneS-DG2-UnholyMagicUKEnemies don’t need to be alive to be deadly

For Chess Putnam, finding herself near-fatally poisoned by a con psychic and then stopping a murderous ghost is just another day on the job.

As an agent of the Church of Real Truth, Chess must expose those looking to profit from the world’s unpleasant little poltergeist problem – humans filing false claims of hauntings – all while staving off any undead who really are looking for a kill.

But Chess has been extra busy these days, coping with a new “celebrity” assignment while trying on her own time to help some desperate prostitutes. Someone’s taking out the hookers of Downside in the most gruesome way, and Chess is sure the rumors that it’s the work of a ghost are way off base. But proving herself right means walking in the path of a maniac, not to mention standing between the two men in her life just as they – along with their ruthless employers – are moving closer to a catastrophic showdown. Someone is dealing in murder, sex, and the supernatural, and once again Chess finds herself right in the crossfire.

Not to long ago, I read the first book in Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series, Unholy Ghosts. I thought it marked the beginning of an interesting, original and well-written Urban Fantasy series. Unholy Magic brings us more of the same, which is certainly no bad thing. While flawed, this is still an entertaining, quick read.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

News! Gail Simone takes on Red Sonja!

SimoneGailThe ever-awesome Gail Simone will be taking over writing duties for their fan-favourite series, RED SONJA!

Published by Dynamite Entertainment, Simone’s run will kick off with a brand-new #1 issue, to be published in July 2013. Hopefully this means it’ll be good for new readers… Interior art for the series will be provided by Walter Geovani

Red Sonja is a character I’ve been aware of for many years, and I remember watching the Red Sonja movie, many moons ago. In fact, I believe I even had a bit of crush on Brigitte Nielsen, who portrayed the titular character in that 1985 movie. It was released when I was only two years old, but I think I must have seen it around the age of eight or nine… For nostalgia’s sake, here’s the trailer:

Anyway, back to Simone and the comic. I haven’t had a lot of past reading experience of Simone’s work, and have actually only read the first nine issues of her current, storied run on DC’s New 52 Batgirl series (which is rather excellent).

Upcoming: “Ex-Heroes” by Peter Clines (Broadway)

ClinesP-ExHeroesOk, technically, this isn’t actually an “Upcoming” novel (it was published at the very end of February). It was self-published by Clines a while ago, but has recently been picked up by a traditional publisher. It sounds pretty interesting, and I really must get around to reading it (I’ve had a copy on my Kindle for quite a while…).

Stealth. Gorgon. Regenerator. Cerberus. Zzzap. The Mighty Dragon. They were heroes, using their superhuman abilities to make Los Angeles a better place.

Then the plague of living death spread around the globe. Billions died, civilization fell, and the city of angels was left a desolate zombie wasteland.

Now, a year later, the Mighty Dragon and his companions protect a last few thousand survivors in their film-studio-turned-fortress, the Mount. Scarred and traumatized by the horrors they’ve endured, the heroes fight the armies of ravenous ex-humans at their citadel’s gates, lead teams out to scavenge for supplies — and struggle to be the symbols of strength and hope the survivors so desperately need.

But the hungry ex-humans aren’t the only threats the heroes face. Former allies, their powers and psyches hideously twisted, lurk in the city’s ruins. And just a few miles away, another group is slowly amassing power... led by an enemy with the most terrifying ability of all.

Upcoming: “Shattered Pillars” by Elizabeth Bear (Tor)

Bear-ShatteredPillarsThe Shattered Pillars is the second book of Elizabeth Bear’s The Eternal Sky trilogy, and the sequel to Range of Ghosts. It’s a series I’ve been meaning to read, but I wasn’t in the US to pick up a copy of the first book when it first came out, and by the time I returned, I was swamped with other books for review. I will make more of an effort to get around to this series, though. Soon…

Set in a world drawn from our own great Asian Steppes, this saga of magic, politics and war sets Re-Temur, the exiled heir to the great Khagan and his friend Sarmarkar, a Wizard of Tsarepheth, against dark forces determined to conquer all the great Empires along the Celedon Road.

The Shattered Pillars will be published by Tor on March 19th 2013.

Upcoming: “Gotrek & Felix: The Lost Tales” (Black Library)

Goulding-Gotrek&Felix-LostTalesIt should be no secret to long-time readers of the blog that I am a fan of the Gotrek & Felix fantasy series from Black Library. First conceived of and written by William King, then ably continued by Nathan Long, the series continues to grow – now with a growing roster of authors writing about the two heroes and the ever-extending cast of companions, enemies and peripheral characters.

Gotrek and Felix: unsung heroes of the Empire, or nothing more than common thieves and murderers? The truth perhaps lies somewhere in between, and depends entirely upon whom you ask...

A collection of timeless tales featuring the Slayer Gotrek Gurnisson and his human companion Felix Jaeger. From the undead-ridden marshes of Hel Fenn, where an ancient evil lurks, to the court of a skaven lord in the depths of a dwarf hold, the duo face excitement, danger and intrigue at every turn.

Gotrek & Felix: The Lost Tales will be published by Black Library in August 2013. It features novellas written by Josh Reynolds, David Guymer, Jordan Ellinger,* and Frank Cavallo. The book is edited by Laurie Goulding.

* Hopefully not the one I just bought today… Don’t like doubling-up…