Friday, July 09, 2010

Fortnightly Acquisitions

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks for new books coming in, but I realised it had been a while so I thought I’d write another one of these posts to tell you about what’s coming up. It’s predominantly fantasy, with a couple sci-fi/horror/other. There were a couple of non-fiction books as well, but including them would have made this post too long, so I’ve excluded them from here.

Anyway, here’s a photo of the tottering pile, followed by individual descriptions, blurbs, and thoughts for the more interesting books…


“The King’s Bastard”, by Rowena Cory Daniels (Solaris)

Daniels-TheKingsBastard Book one of The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin

Cloaked in silent winter snow the Kingdom of Rolencia sleeps as rumours spread of new Affinity Seeps, places where untamed power wells up. Meanwhile, King Rolen plans his jubilee unaware of the growing threat to those he loves.

By royal decree, all those afflicted with Affinity must serve the Abbey or face death. Sent to the Abbey because of his innate Affinity, the King’s youngest son, Fyn, trains to become a warrior monk. Unfortunately, he’s a gentle dreamer and the other acolytes bully him. The only way he can escape them is to serve the Abbey Mystic, but his Affinity is weak.

Fiercely loyal, thirteen year-old Piro is horrified to discover she is also cursed with unwanted Affinity. It broke their mother’s heart to send Fyn away, so she hides her affliction. But, when Fyn confesses his troubles, Piro risks exposure to help him.

Even though Byren Kingson is only seven minutes younger than his twin, Lence, who is the king's heir, Byren has never hungered for the Rolencian throne. When a Seer predicts that he will kill Lence, he laughs. But Lence Kingsheir sees Byren’s growing popularity and resents it. Enduring loyalty could be Byren’s greatest failing.

The first book in this highly-publicised series sounds pretty great. I’ve not read much that’s been published through Solaris, but I must admit to having not been overly impressed thus-far (apparently, it might have something to do with when they changed hands from Black Library to HarperCollins, but I can’t confirm or deny that). This, however, looks about to change.

This trilogy, which will be released close together, has caught my attention, and I’ll be reviewing them very soon – most likely as soon as I finish Shadow’s Son (see below). Everything I’ve read and heard about it is positive, and the descriptions and blurbs do make it sound like something I’ll enjoy.

“The Uncrowned King”, by Rowena Cory Daniels (Solaris)


The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin continues

Rolencia’s ancestral enemy, Merofynia, has invaded and marches on King Rolen’s castle. Powerless to help, thirteen yeard old Piro watches as her father, King Rolen, listens to poisoned whispers concerning his son Bryen.

How could the King doubt his second son? Determined to prove his loyalty, Bryen races across the path of the advancing army to ask the Abbot to send the warrior monks in defense of the castle.

As mentioned above, this will be released very soon (August), and the final part of the trilogy – The Usurper – will follow hot on its heels in September 2010.

“Hawkwood and the Kings”, by Paul Kearney (Solaris)

Kearney-1-Hawkwood&TheKing Re-issue of Volume 1 of The Monarchies of God series

The world is in turmoil. In the east the savage Merduks, followers of the Prophet Ahrimuz, have captured the holy city of Aekir. The western kingdoms are too distracted by internecine bickering to intervene and the Church seems more obsessed with rooting out heresy. It is an age where men go to the stake for the taint of magic in their blood, where gunpowder and cannon co-exit with werewolves and sorcerers. It is the turning point when two great religions will fight to the death and the common folk will struggle to merely survive.

I know nothing about this series, so it was a nice surprise when it arrived. I’ll probably end up reading it soon, but as you can see from this post, there’s a lot of other stuff that is higher on my priority list (as is something coming out next month, which will shoot straight to the top of the pile, if it arrives…). This does sound pretty interesting, though.

“Theodore Boone”, by John Grisham (Hodder)

Grisham-TheodoreBooneUK Grisham ventures into youth fiction

Half the man, twice the lawyer.

In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he's only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he's one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk - and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom.

But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than he expected. Because he knows so much - maybe too much - he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth.

The stakes are high, but Theo won't stop until justice is served.

I’m a bit hesitant about this, because I’ve not heard very good things about Theodore Boone. I’m a big fan of Grisham’s novels, but this is his first foray into fiction for younger readers. The text is huge, and it’s not a long book, so I imagine it won’t take long to review it. Not a priority, but it’ll get done at some point.

“Temple of the Serpent”, C.L. Werner (Black Library)

Werner-TempleOfTheSerpent The second Grey Seer Thanquol & Boneripper novel

After a series of failures, Grey Seer Thanquol is offered a chance to redeem himself by going to the island of Lustria to kill the Prophet of Sotek. Dogged by assassins and stranded in a foreign land of giant lizards, temple cities and endless jungle, Thanquol must use all of his cunning and magic if he is to come out alive.

I’ve not read the first book in this series – Grey Seer – but I’ve got a fondness for the characters from the Gotrek & Felix series (this is the second ‘spin-off’ series, after the Vampire Ulrika series, which began with Bloodborn), so I’ll be reading this as soon as a sufficient gap opens up. I remember Thanquol being somewhat Machiavellian-yet-hapless, so this could prove a rather entertaining read.

“The Hunt for Voldorius”, by Andy Hoare (Black Library)

Hoare-HuntForVoldorius The latest Space Marine Battles novel

Captain Kor’sarro Khan of the White Scars is petitioned by his Chapter Master to hunt down and destroy the daemon prince Voldorius, a warleader of the renegade Alpha Legion, thus ending his reign of terror across the stars.

Hunting the beast doggedly for over a decade, Kor’sarro finally brings Voldorius to battle on Quintus, a world that has totally given itself over to the Alpha Legion. Together with their Raven Guard allies, the White Scars must fight an entire planet if they are to slay the daemon prince.

I’ve not read any of this series, either, but I’m interested to see what Hoare does with the White Scars – a little referenced Space Marine legion in the WH40k fiction published thus far. The premise certainly sounds interesting, and might lend itself to some intense battles and entertaining reading.

“Fear the Alien”, edited by Christian Dunn (Black Library)

Dunn-FearTheAlien Latest WH40k Short Story Anthology

The Imperium of Man has many enemies among the stars, but none are reviled so much as the alien. Dangerous races seek to destroy humanity wherever they turn –the brutish Orks, the ravening hordes of the Tyranid, the unrelenting Necrons and the mysterious forces of the tau and the Eldar. Across the universe, humanity and their defenders, the Space Marines, seek to eradicate these xenos threats. Yet all they can hope for is another day of survival – for to stand against the alien is to enter an unending war...

Featuring stories by Dan Abnett, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Nick Kyme, Juliet McKenna, C.L. Werner and many more, Fear the Alien is an unmissable collection for fans of Warhammer 40,000 and military science fiction.

Some of BL’s top authors contribute stories to this anthology, so I know I shall be reading at least a handful of them, if not all. Maybe I’ll sprinkle in reading these in between novels. We shall see.

“The Fuller Memorandum”, by Charles Stross (Orbit)

FullerMemorandum_B.indd The Laundry Files continues

Bob Howard is an IT specialist and field agent for the Laundry, the branch of Her Majesty’s secret service that deals with occult threats.

Overworked and underpaid, Bob is used to his two jobs overflowing from a strict nine to five and, since his wife Mo has a very similar job description, he understands that work will sometimes follow her home, too. But when ‘work’ involves zombie assassins and minions of a mad god’s cult, he realises things are spinning out of control.

When a top-secret dossier goes missing and his boss Angleton is implicated, Bob must contend with suspiciously helpful Russian intelligence operatives and an unscrupulous apocalyptic cult before confronting the decades-old secret that lies at the heart of the Laundry: what is so important about the missing Fuller Memorandum? And why are all the people who know dying . . . ?

I’m only familiar with Stross’s Merchant Princes series, which I thought was great. The Fuller Memorandum is the third or fourth story in this setting, and again I’m not sure if it’s important to have read previous novels to really ‘get’ it. I’ve only heard good things about it, though, so I might still give it a shot when some time opens up.

“The Restoration Game”, by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)

Untitled-5 Computer Games & Life collide with deadly consequences?

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...

Don’t really know what to write about this, other than it sounds pretty cool. Cold War themes and so forth should make this a more interesting novel.

“Shadow’s Son”, by Jon Sprunk (Pyr/Gollancz)

Sprunk-ShadowsSon One of 2010’s most-hyped fantasy debuts

Treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, in the holy city of Othir. It’s the perfect place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and even fewer scruples.

Caim makes – or, perhaps more accurately, takes – his living on the edge of a blade. Murder is a risky business, but so far he reckons he’s on the right side of it. Or he was... because when a short-notice contract job goes south, Caim finds himself thrust into the middle of a sinister plot in which he seems to be one of the primary marks.

Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers and the darkest kinds of sorcery, it’s going to take more than luck if he’s to get through this alive. He may lack scruples, but he’s still got his knives and instincts to rely on; not to mention a well-developed sense of revenge to fall back on.

But when his path leads him from the hazardous back streets of Othir and into the highest halls of power, will instincts and weapons alone be enough? If Caim is really going to unravel the plot which has snared him, to unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he will have to finally claim his birthright as the Shadow’s Son...

I actually received this twice this week – the first time from the lovely people at Pyr/Prometheus, and also because I forgot to cancel my Amazon order for the UK edition large-format paperback. Nonetheless, I’m reading it at the moment and, not to mince words: I love it. It does everything I need/want a book to do, and it’s certainly living up to my high expectations. My review should be ready some time over the weekend, at the latest by Monday evening. I hope.

eBook Acquisitions

Don’t often get eBook review copies sent through, but this week I got four from Pry/Prometheus – including Shadow’s Son, mentioned above, and got another one from Angry Robot Books, which is one of the only publishers that have embraced this new practice.

[Just in case there are any publishers reading, I have a Sony Reader, so can accept ePub copies for review…]

“The Blood of Ambrose” & “This Crooked Way”, by James Enge (Pyr)

Enge-BloodOfAmbroseIntroducing Morlock Ambrosius

Behind the king’s life stands the menacing Protector, and beyond him lies the Protector’s Shadow...

Centuries after the death of Uthar the Great, the throne of the Ontilian Empire lies vacant. The late emperor’s brother-in-law and murderer, Lord Urdhven, appoints himself Protector to his nephew, young King Lathmar VII and sets out to kill anyone who stands between himself and mastery of the empire, including (if he can manage it) the king himself and his ancient but still formidable ancestress, Ambrosia Viviana.

When Ambrosia is accused of witchcraft and put to trial by combat, she is forced to play her trump card and call on her brother, Morlock Ambrosius — stateless person, master of all magical makers, deadly swordsman, and hopeless drunk.

As ministers of the king, they carry on the battle, magical and mundane, against the Protector and his shadowy patron. But all their struggles will be wasted unless the young king finds the strength to rule in his own right and his own name.

I’ve been aware of James Enge’s books since this was first released last year, but for some reason I never got around to checking them out. After reading Enge’s short story in Swords & Dark Magic, which featured Ambrosius, I was eager (and yet still a little wary) to read Enge’s novels. Thankfully, the lovely people at Pyr have sent me Enge’s first two novels to feature Ambrosius, and I am eager to get started on them.

Enge-ThisCrookedWay Here’s the artwork and synopsis of book two:

Travelling alone in the depths of winter, Morlock Ambrosius (bitterly dry drunk, master of all magical makers, wandering swordsman, and son of Merlin Ambrosius and Nimue Viviana) is attacked by an unknown enemy.

To unmask his enemy and end the attacks he must travel a long crooked way through the world: past the soul-eating Boneless One, past a subtle and treacherous master of golems, past the dragon-taming Khroi, past the predatory cities of Sarkunden and Aflraun, past the demons and dark gnomes of the northern woods.

Soon he will find that his enemy wears a familiar face, and that the duel he has stumbled into will threaten more lives than his own, leaving nations shattered in its chaotic wake.

And at the end of his long road waits the death of a legend.

The third in the series, The Wolf Age, will be released in October 2010.

“The Office of Shadows”, by Matthew Sturges (Pry)

Sturges-OfficeOfShadow The Seelie Empire’s war against the armies of Mab continues

Midwinter has gone, but that cold season has been replaced by a cold war in the world of Faerie, and this new kind of war requires a new kind of warrior.

Seelie forces drove back Empress Mab at the Battle of Sylvan, but hostilities could resume at any moment. Mab has developed a devastating new weapon capable of destroying an entire city, and the Seelie have no defence against it. If war comes, they will almost certainly be defeated.

In response, the Seelie reconstitutes a secret division of the Foreign Ministry, unofficially dubbed the “Office of Shadow”, imbuing it with powers and discretion once considered unthinkable. They are a group of covert operatives given the tasks that can't be done in the light of day: secretly stealing the plans for Mab’s new weapon, creating unrest in the Unseelie Empire, and doing whatever is necessary to prevent an unwinnable war.

The new leader of the “Shadows” is Silverdun. He's the nobleman who fought alongside Mauritane at Sylvan and who helped complete a critical mission for the Seelie Queen Titania. His operatives include a beautiful but naïve sorceress who possesses awesome powers that she must restrain in order to survive and a soldier turned scholar whose research into new ways of magic could save the world, or end it.

They’ll do whatever is required to prevent a total war: make a dangerous foray into a hostile land to retrieve the plans for Mab’s weapon; blackmail a king into revolting against the Unseelie Empire; journey into the space between space to uncover a closely guarded secret with the power to destroy worlds.

Another book that’s caught my attention, this follows Sturges’s previous novel Midwinter, and continues the story of the war against the Faeries. I’m not sure if it’s necessary to have read the first book, but I’ll still be giving this a go pretty soon.

“The Crown of the Blood”, by Gav Thorpe (Angry Robot)

Thorpe-TheCrownoftheBlood Thorpe’s debut non-Black Library Novel

He had brought his master’s Empire to the furthest reaches of the world. All had fallen before him. Now he longs for home.

But home isn’t what it was. Could it be that everything he’s fought for all those years has been a lie?

A sweeping fantasy of immense battles, demonic magic and dark politics.

I’ve been familiar with Mr Thorpe’s Black Library work for a while, and I’m looking forward to giving this a try – a new world, an intriguing premise, and hopefully a great reading experience. I’ll hopefully get to it pretty soon – it’s moved higher up the reading list, certainly.


So, that’s what’s come through recently. Expect reviews of some – if not all – of them over the course of the next couple months.

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