Saturday, November 16, 2013

Recent Acquisitions – WFC 2013. Or, “That’s a lot of swag…”


I was in Brighton for the World Fantasy Convention a couple of weekends ago (I arrived bleary-eyed and caffeine-starved on Friday morning), and after a good amount of time telling myself to go easy on purchases and books for signing… I failed miserably. I was there for work, rather than as the writer of this blog (though it was great to finally meet a number of my fellow bloggers for the first time, too). It was a lot of fun, but even only being there for two days, it was pretty tiring – anyone who was there for all four days, burning the candle at both ends: I salute you, and especially for the volunteers who did a fantastic job. As you can see from the photo above, it was a very good weekend. However, only the left and middle pile were from WFC, and the pile on the right is made up of review copies that arrived while I was away. So, in advance of reviews, here is some information on what I have recently acquired… [More has arrived since this photo was taken, but I’ll put those in a monthly post or something in the near future.]


First of all, though: David Towsey’s Your Brother’s Blood, Daniel Polansky’s She Who Waits, and Mark Charan Newton’s Drakenfeld I already owned, but I took them to WFC to get signed. All three of these authors were most gracious when I cornered them brandishing book and pen. Expect reviews ASAP.

Secondly, and before we get on to the shwag, I wanted to mention a couple of authors who really stood out for me, over the course of panels and general conversations: Sarah Rees Brennan and Holly Black (who were really kind and chatty, when I caught up with them for an unofficial signing); Wes Chu, whose stealth reading before Scott Lynch was brilliant; Kim Newman did a great job on the Vampires panel; Brad Beaulieu was a real gent when we caught up in the bar; Richard Ford, likewise; and Joe Hill’s discussion with Gilliam Redfearn was really interesting and made me like him even more (I have so much catching up to do… His novels, Locke & Key… Good times are ahead!).


Barclay covJames Barclay’s Vault of Deeds (PS Publishing)

The status quo is being upset so much it feels distinctly queasy. You see, in the land of Goedterre, good always triumphs over evil. Or that’s how it should be. But something is wrong.

Picked this up in one of the sealed, lucky-dip PS Publishing packages at the Registration desk.

Despite that rather brief and unenlightening synopsis, I enjoyed Barclay’s first Raven novel, Dawnthief, and so I’m intrigued to see what this is all about.


Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unspoken and Demon’s Lexicon (Simon & Schuster)


Demon’s Lexicon: Nick and his brother Alan are on the run with their mother, who was once the lover of a powerful magician. When she left him, she stole an important charm – and he will stop at nothing to reclaim it. Now Alan has been marked with the sign of death by the magician's demon, and only Nick can save him. But to do so he must face those he has fled from all his life – the magicians – and kill them. So the hunted becomes the hunter... but in saving his brother, Nick discovers something that will unravel his whole past...

Unspoken: Kami Glass is in love with someone she’s never met – a boy the rest of the world is convinced is imaginary. This has made her an outsider in the sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale, but she doesn’t complain. She runs the school newspaper and keeps to herself for the most part – until disturbing events begin to happen. There has been screaming in the woods and the dark, abandoned manor on the hill overlooking the town has lit up for the first time in 10 years. The Lynburn family, who ruled the town a generation ago and who all left without warning, have returned. As Kami starts to investigate for the paper, she finds out that the town she has loved all her life is hiding a multitude of secrets – and a murderer – and the key to it all just might be the boy in her head. The boy who everyone thought was imaginary may be real... and he may be dangerous.

Alyssa really enjoyed these, and so when I was able to pick them up at the convention, and also meet Sarah to get them signed, I was rather happy. They sound intriguing.


Crichton-HCC-BinaryMichael Crichton’s Binary, Easy Go, Grave Descend and Scratch One (Hard Case)

I’m going to talk about these in a single, separate post – mainly because, in the time it’s taken me to write this, I have been sent the other four in the re-release series. I will also be running a giveaway for four of them! So… check back next week. They are, though, a lot of fun. And rather silly. But in an endearing, “Oh, how problematic our mores were back then”-sort-of-way…


deJager-BL1-BanishedLiz De Jager’s Banished (Tor)

Sworn to protect, honour and slay. Because chaos won’t banish itself…

Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s encountered her unorthodox cousins and their strange lives. And her home-schooling now includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons. But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies. As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.

This is the first book in The Blackhart Legacy. I briefly meet Liz at WFC (after consuming a surprisingly tasty lasagna in the canteen – the warm Diet Coke, not so nice), but in my sleep-deprived, caffeine-starved state at the time, I didn’t properly say hi. I’m intrigued to read this, as a lot of fellow bloggers have enjoyed it. Hopefully in the not-to-distant-future.


GrossmanA-YouAustin Grossman’s You (Mulholland)

When Russell joins Black Arts games, brainchild of two visionary designers who were once his closest friends, he reunites with an eccentric crew of nerds hacking the frontiers of both technology and entertainment. In part, he’s finally given up chasing the conventional path that has always seemed just out of reach. But mostly, he needs to know what happened to Simon, his strangest and most gifted friend, who died under mysterious circumstances soon after Black Arts’ breakout hit.

As the company’s revolutionary next-gen game is threatened by a software glitch, Russell finds himself in a race to save his job, Black Arts’ legacy, and the people he has grown to care about. The deeper Russell digs, the more dangerous the glitch appears – and soon, Russell comes to realize there’s much more is at stake than just one software company’s bottom line.

I also have Soon I Will Be Invincible by Grossman, which I’d also like to read ASAP. But for an endless amount of time in which to read… This sounds interesting. I’m fascinated by computer companies and tech companies as a whole (not always their products, but never mind). Mixing that with weird, speculative fiction… well, that could be a real winner.


Herne-MR1-DeadlandsLily Herne’s Deadlands (Constable & Robinson)

Welcome to the Deadlands, where life is a lottery.

Since the apocalypse, Cape Town’s suburbs have become zombie-infested Deadlands. Human survivors are protected from the living dead by sinister, shrouded figures – the Guardians. In return, five teenagers are “chosen” and handed over to them for a mysterious purpose: this year, Lele de la Fontein’s name is picked. But Lele will not stick around and face whatever shady fate the Guardians have in store for her. She escapes, willing to take her chances in the Deadlands.

Alone, exiled and unable to return home, she runs into a misfit gang of renegade teens: Saint, a tough Batswana girl; Ginger, a wise-cracking Brit; and handsome Ash, a former child soldier. Under their tutelage, Lele learns how to seriously destroy zombies and together they uncover the corruption endemic in Cape Town, and come to learn the sickening truth about the Guardians...

Jared of Pornokitsch told me about this mother-daughter writing team’s novels, and also let me know that they were having a signing. So off I went, and they were both really cool. So I bought this first novel in the series. Sounds like another interesting take on the zombie apocalypse (for which I’m a bit of a sucker…). Hopefully I’ll get around to this pretty soon.


JohansenE-1-QueenOfTheTearlingErika Johansen’s The Queen of the Tearling (Bantam Press)

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon — from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic — to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun — a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend… if she can survive.

The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen.

I’m rather intrigued by this. Not really sure what to expect. Hopefully reading this soon. It appears to actually be some kind of post-apocalyptic novel…?


SW-OR-Annihilation(Karpyshyn)Drew Karpyshyn’s Old Republic: Annihilation (Arrow)

The Sith Empire is in flux. The Emperor is missing, presumed dead, and an ambitious Sith lord’s attempt to seize the throne has ended fatally. Still, Darth Karrid, commander of the fearsome Imperial battle cruiser Ascendant Spear, continues her relentless efforts to achieve total Sith domination of the galaxy.

But Karrid’s ruthless determination is more than matched in the steely resolve of Theron Shan, whose unfinished business with the Empire could change the course of the war for good. Though the son of a Jedi master, Theron does not wield the Force—but like his renowned mother, the spirit of rebellion is in his blood. As a top covert agent for the Republic, he struck a crucial blow against the Empire by exposing and destroying a Sith superweapon arsenal—which makes him the ideal operative for a daring and dangerous mission to end Ascendant Spear’s reign of terror.

Joined by hot-headed smuggler Teff’ith, with whom he has an inexplicable bond, and wise Jedi warrior Gnost-Dural, Darth Karrid’s former master, Theron must match wits and weapons with a battle-tested crew of the most cold-blooded dark side disciples. But time is brutally short. And if they don’t seize their one chance to succeed, they will surely have countless opportunities to die.

I haven’t read any of the Old Republic novels (this is the fourth), but I have read a couple of Karpyshyn’s other novels and rather enjoyed them. I also really need to read his new fantasy novel, Children of Fire.


Lynch-RepublicOfThievesScott Lynch’s The Republic of Thieves (Gollancz)

Having pulled off the greatest heist of their career, Locke and his trusted partner in thievery, Jean, have escaped with a tidy fortune. But Locke’s body is paying the price. Poisoned by an enemy from his past, he is slowly dying. And no physiker or alchemist can help him. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmagi offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him – or finish him off once and for all.

Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body – though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring – and the Bondsmagi’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past... Sabetha. The love of his life. His equal in skill and wit. And now his greatest rival.

Locke was smitten with Sabetha from his first glimpse of her as a young fellow-orphan and thief-in-training. But after a tumultuous courtship, Sabetha broke away. Now they will reunite in yet another clash of wills. For faced with his one and only match in both love and trickery, Locke must choose whether to fight Sabetha – or to woo her. It is a decision on which both their lives may depend.

Signed and numbered copy of The Republic of Thieves? The fantasy series that got me back into fantasy? Yeah, I couldn’t resist… Also attended a reading by Scott, at which he read from a new short story (to be published in Rogues, I believe). I’m not 100% sure when I’m actually going to get around to reading this. I want to re-read the first two books first, as it’s been so long since I read those. Need to refresh my memory.


SW-Kenobi(Miller)John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi (Century)

The greatest hero in the galaxy faces his toughest challenge yet: He must stop being Obi-Wan-and become Crazy Old Ben.

In this original novel set between the events of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi comes to the aid of the residents of Tatooine during his exile. But he struggles with his new mission when he realizes that protecting Luke Skywalker-the last hope of the galaxy-means setting aside his compassion and his Jedi warrior training, for the future of the galaxy lies not with Obi-Wan Kenobi, but with a mystical desert recluse known only by the name of Crazy Old Ben.

I recently re-watched the original Star Wars trilogy (as I do very often), and it made me think about what Kenobi did between the prequel trilogy and the original (superior, essential, awesome) trilogy. Well… Miller seems to have written the answer to this predicament. I’ll be reading this hopefully soon – although, I have struggled to get back into the Star Wars fictional universe. Which is odd, seeing as I’ve read everything set after Episode IV, and a fair bit before, except for the last three novels. Part of this is my (apparently) ever-present book-funk. I will endeavour to give this a read ASAP, though.


Pratchett-40-RaisingSteamTerry Pratchett’s Raising Steam (Doubleday)

To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork – a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it’s soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear.

Moist von Lipwig is not a man who enjoys hard work – as master of the Post Office, the Mint and the Royal Bank his input is, of course, vital... but largely dependent on words, which are fortunately not very heavy and don’t always need greasing. However, he does enjoy being alive, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse...

Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man wi’ t’flat cap and sliding rule who has an interesting arrangement with the sine and cosine. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs and some very angry dwarfs if he’s going to stop it all going off the rails...

I struggled with Snuff. That made me rather book-depressed. After hearing Rob (Terry’s assistant) give a short reading from this at WFC, as well as the general discussion as a whole during Sir Terry’s panel, I am interested to see how this turns out. One of the things I love about Pratchett’s Discworld series is that it’s always moving forward. There are technological, sociological, and economic developments that unfold across the series. The fantasy world doesn’t sit still. I am, therefore, very intrigued to see how the arrival of steam trains in Discworld mix things up.


RichardJ-SuicideExhibitionJustin Richards’s The Suicide Exhibition (Del Rey)


The German war machine has woken an ancient threat – the alien Vril and their Ubermensch have returned. Ultimate Victory in the war for Europe is now within the Nazis’ grasp.


Foreign Office trouble shooter Guy Pentecross has stumbled into a conspiracy beyond his imagining – a secret war being waged in the shadows against a terrible enemy.

The battle for Europe has just become the war for humanity.

This is The Thirty-Nine Steps crossed with Indiana Jones and Quatermass. Justin Richards has an extremely credible grasp of the period’s history and has transformed it into a groundbreaking alternate reality thriller.

I had never heard of this. But it seems to be about Nazis and alien monsters of some kind! So… that’s always cool. Count me in. And that cover’s pretty cool…


Rothfuss-NameOfTheWindPatrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind (Gollancz)

Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.

A high-action story written with a poet’s hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

I’ve already read this, and its sequel The Wise Man’s Fear. This series was a much-discussed topic at WFC (including part of a very enjoyable dinner conversation). Patrick Rothfuss was at the convention signing everything, so I decided to pick up a copy.


Staveley-TheEmperorsBladesUKBrian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades (Tor)

The circle is closing. The stakes are high. And old truths will live again...

The Emperor has been murdered, leaving the Annurian Empire in turmoil. Now his progeny must bury their grief and prepare to unmask a conspiracy.

His son Valyn, training for the empire’s deadliest fighting force, hears the news an ocean away. He expected a challenge, but after several ‘accidents’ and a dying soldier’s warning, he realizes his life is also in danger. Yet before Valyn can take action, he must survive the mercenaries’ brutal final initiation.

Meanwhile, the Emperor’s daughter, Minister Adare, hunts her father’s murderer in the capital itself. Court politics can be fatal, but she needs justice. And Kaden, heir to an empire, studies in a remote monastery. Here, the Blank God’s disciples teach their harsh ways – which Kaden must master to unlock their ancient powers. When an imperial delegation arrives, he’s learnt enough to perceive evil intent. But will this keep him alive, as long-hidden powers make their move?

Tor UK are really boosting this novel (chapters 1-5 are available online – go find it yourself, you lazy eejit). A new epic fantasy series. “Another one?” you may ask. Well, yes. Because there can never be too much good SFF. I’m looking forward to trying this.


Wexler-ForbiddenLibraryDjango Wexler’s The Forbidden Library (Doubleday Children’s)

Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That – along with everything else – changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice’s father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon – an uncle she’s never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it’s hard to resist. Especially if you’re a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

I’m a fan of Wexler’s fiction. And he seems to be a really nice guy, too. (We have conversed at length on Twitter about a great many things – including our mutual appreciation of the fiction of Sir Terry Pratchett). The Forbidden Library is his foray into YA fiction, and I’m looking forward to giving it a try. I had no idea when it was going to come out in the UK, so finding it at WFC is certainly a nice thing. [That’s the US artwork – published by Kathy Dawson Books – because Doubleday haven’t released the British artwork, yet. Although, if the ARC is anything to go by, it will feature an extreme close-up of a bright, red dragon. Which is also very cool…]


YeovilJ-BeastsInVelvetJack Yeovil’s Beast in Velvet (Black Library)

As a killer called “The Beast” stalks the Imperial capital of Altdorf, evidence points to members of the Imperial court. With the gruesome murders mounting, the disgraced watchman “Filthy” Harald Kleindeinst is reinstated for a single assignment: to stop the Beast’s reign of terror and discover its true identity.

This was a spur-of-the-moment purchase. I read it when it first came out (in 1993), but after I found out that Kim Newman was at the covention, I spotted this on a table in the Dealer’s Room. Yeovil was, of course, a penname of Newman’s. A nostalgic discovery and opportunity presented and seized.


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