Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Upcoming: February-March on CR


Just wanted to write a quick post to let everyone know what’s coming up on the site over the next couple of months. As always, there will be plenty of reviews, but I’m also trying to increase the number of interviews I get up here. I’ll try to do one of these posts every couple of months, rather than the large “Recent Acquisitions” posts, which were rather long. Although, if there is a week where something particularly exciting comes in, I might highlight that, too.

One thing I have noticed, is that I tend to get genre-fatigue quite quickly, so I’m going to make more effort to switch between fantasy, sci-fi and thrillers, in order to keep things fresh both on the site and also for myself. We’ll see how this works out.

So, here are the books that will be featured over the next eight weeks or so, along with some scribbled thoughts. (This is not an exhaustive list, as there’s every possibility that something else will come up and grab my attention – this is just based on the books I already have in my possession.

Helen Lowe, The Heir of Night (Orbit)Lowe-HeirOfNight

The violence of an age-old war casts a long shadow. It falls on a world where mercy is weakness and conflict is a way of life.

Young Malian is being trained to rule. Her people garrison the mountain range known as the Wall of Night against an ancient enemy, keeping a tide of shadow from the rest of their world. Malian is expected to
uphold this tradition, yet she’s known little of real danger until the enemy launches a direct attack upon
her fortress home.

In the darkest part of the night, the Keep of Winds becomes a bloodbath. Women and children, warriors and priests, are slain by creatures with twisted magic flowing in their veins. And as the castle wakes to chaos, Malian flees deep into the Old Keep, her life at stake. Then when the danger is greatest, her own hidden magic flares into life.

But this untapped potential is a two-edged blade. If she accepts its power, she must prepare to pay the price.

The beginning of a new fantasy series. Alyssa is reading and preparing a review for this at the moment, and she seems to be enjoying it thus far.

Rod Rees, The Demi-Monde: Winter (Quercus)Rees-DemiMonde-Winter

Experience the ultimate in virtual reality.

The Demi-Monde is the most advanced computer simulation ever devised. Created to prepare soldiers for the nightmarish reality of urban warfare, it is a virtual world locked in eternal civil war. Its thirty million digital inhabitants are ruled by duplicates of some of history's cruellest tyrants: Reinhard Heydrich, the architect of the Holocaust; Beria, Stalin's arch executioner; Torquemada, the pitiless Inquisitor General; Robespierre, the face of the Reign of Terror.

But something has gone badly wrong inside the Demi-Monde, and the US President's daughter has become trapped in this terrible world. It falls to eighteen-year-old Ella Thomas to rescue her, yet once Ella has entered the Demi-Monde she finds that everything is not as it seems, that its cyber-walls are struggling to contain the evil within and that the Real World is in more danger than anyone realises.

This will be the next book I review (after I finish City of Ruin – review on Friday). The premise sounds great, and there has been quite a lot of press about it. Now that that things have calmed down, I’m going to read it over the weekend and beginning of next week. Expect the review by about Wednesday.

Gail Z. Martin, The Sworn (Orbit)Martin,GZ-FKC-1-TheSworn

As plague and famine scourge the Winter Kingdoms, a vast invasion force is mustering from beyond the Northern Sea. And at its heart, a dark spirit mage wields the blood magic of ancient, vanquished gods.

Summoner-King Martris Drayke must attempt to meet this great threat, gathering an army from a country ravaged by civil war. And neighbouring lands reel toward anarchy while plague decimates their leaders. Drayke must seek new allies from among the living – and the dead – as an untested generation of rulers face their first battle.

Then someone disturbs the legendary Dread as they rest in a millennia-long slumber neneath sacred barrows. Their warrior guardians, the Sworn, know the Dread could be pivotal as a force for great good or evil. But if it’s the latter, could even the Summoner-King’s sorcery prevail?

This will be the first of Martin’s novels that I read – for some reason, I never got around to reading her first four novels set in this world. The Sworn is the beginning of a new trilogy set in her fantasy world, so I thought it would be a perfect place to start (I might also cheekily consider this a “Latecomer” review, as I’m late getting to Martin’s work… What? This blog is a dictatorship, I can bend definitions as much as I like!)

Alan Campbell, The Sea of Ghosts (Tor)Campbell-GC1-SeaOfGhosts

When the last of the Gravediggers, an elite imperial infiltration unit, are disbanded and hunted down by the emperor they once served, munitions expert Colonel Thomas Granger takes refuge in the unlikeliest of places. He becomes a jailer in Ethugra – a prison city of poison-flooded streets and gaols in which a million enemies of the empire are held captive. But when Granger takes possession of two new prisoners, he realises that he can’t escape his past so readily.

Ianthe is a young girl with an extraordinary psychic talent. A gift that makes her unique in a world held to ransom by the powerful Haurstaf – the sisterhood of telepaths who are all that stand between the Empire and the threat of the Unmer, the powerful civilization of entropic sorcerers and dragon-mounted warriors. In this war-torn land, she promises to make Granger an extremely wealthy man, if he can only keep her safe from harm.

This is what Granger is best at. But when other factions learn about Ianthe's unique ability, even Granger's skills of warfare are tested to their limits. While, Ianthe struggles to control the powers that are growing in ways no-one thought were possible. Another threat is surfacing: out there, beyond the bitter seas, an old and familiar enemy is rising – one who, if not stopped, will drown the world and all of humanity with it...

One of 2011’s Most Anticipated. This will be my first novel by Alan Campbell (although, Emma reviewed his first trilogy), and I’ve been very eager to get to it – the lovely people at Tor kindly sent me an ARC a while back, but I’ve been holding off until closer to its publication in early April. Expect the review mid-March.

Robert Earl, Broken Honour (Black Library)Earl-BrokenHonour

The armies of Hochland are at breaking point. Beset on all sides by the feral beastmen, the safety and prosperity of the province is shattered. These are desperate times. Mercenary Captain Eriksson looks to capitalise on the conflict, buying the freedom of a group of prisoners to form a new free company.

The criminals are delighted to be released, but this comes at a terrible price – to fight and die in the upcoming conflict. Eriksson must lead his makeshift company into one bloody conflict after another, putting his faith in those who gave up on honour long ago. On the battlefields of Hochland, either damnation or redemption awaits them.

I really enjoyed Earl’s other novels for Black Library – focussing on the adventures of adventuring duo, Florin and Lorenzo (now available in The Adventures of Florin & Lorenzo omnibus), and also Ancient Blood. The premise sounds interesting, and I’m expecting some dark humour, action and quality writing  in here. This is quite high on the list, so perhaps have it reviewed by the end of February, or at least the first week of March.

Andy Hoare, Savage Scars (Black Library)Hoare-SavageScars

Dal’yth. The forces of the Greater Good have established a strangehold on the planet, and the time has come for the Imperium to move against them. The White Scars lead the ground assault against the tau, launching into combat with speed and fury, shedding blood as they gain ground against their enemies. Meanwhile, the members of the Crusade Council are determined to pursue their own agendas, and their politicking and back-stabbing will place the entire war effort in jeopardy. But little do they know that Inquisitor Grand has more extreme measures in mind, and the White Scars must achieve victory quickly or the cost to Dal’yth will be devastating.

The White Scars are a Space Marine legion inspired by Genghis Khan and the Mongol horse-warriors, so their imagery taps into my interests in China and Asia, so this could be pretty interesting. I’ve not read any of Hoare’s long-form fiction, so I’m not entirely sure what to expect. I will probably review this just after Sea of Ghosts.

Tom Clancy, Dead or Alive (Penguin)Clancy-DeadOrAlive

For years, Jack Ryan, Jr. and his colleagues at the Campus have waged an unofficial and highly effective campaign against the terrorists who threaten western civilization. The most dangerous of these is the Emir. This sadistic killer has masterminded the most vicious attacks on the west and has eluded capture by the world’s law enforcement agencies. Now the Campus is on his trail. Joined by their latest recruits, John Clark and Ding Chavez, Jack Ryan, Jr. and his cousins, Dominick and Brian Caruso, are determined to catch the Emir and they will bring him in... dead or alive.

I’ve read almost all of Clancy’s novels – I think I’ve only missed out on the final two Jack Ryan Snr. novels (Debt of Honor and Executive Orders). Dead or Alive reunites the reader with Jack Ryan Jnr., who is somewhat following in his father’s footsteps (and first appeared as ‘star’ in The Teeth of the Tiger), defending America against the latest threats to its security. Action, geopolitics, and more action, this should be a blast, and I’ll get to it quite soon.

Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself (Gollancz)Abercrombie-FL1-BladeItself

Logen Ninefingers, the infamous barbarian, has finally run out of luck. Caught up in one feud too many, his friends dead and his future bleak, he could be staring death in the face for the last time. But it’s the dead who will offer him a final chance – someone out there still has plans for the Bloody-Nine.

Captain Jezal dan Luthar, paragon of selfishness, has little more dangerous in mind than seizing glory in the fencing circle. But war is brewing, the army is mobilising, and on the battlefields of the frozen North they fight by altogether bloodier rules.

Inquisitor Glokta, cripple turned torturer, would be delighted to see Jezal come home in a box. But then he hates everyone. Cutting treason out of the heart of the Union one confession at a time leaves little room for friendships – and his latest trail of corpses could lead straight to the rotten heart of government… If he could just stay alive long enough to follow it…

With all the great press that Joe’s fifth novel, The Heroes, is receiving (including a recommendation from TIME magazine), I think it would be a perfect time to read and review his first, to let people know about his earlier work. I’ve owned Abercrombie’s novels for a long time (I kept buying them ‘for later’ or being given them), and it’s inexcusable how long I’ve been delaying a reading.

As a side-note, I want to mention just how nice these books actually are – the physical product, I mean. The artwork, the design, the quality… all superb. Gollancz have done a wonderful job of putting them together (and the artist has also done an exceptional job). Speaking of The Heroes – if you are a bibliophile, and love fantasy, then the hardback of Abercrombie’s latest is an equally wonderful book.

*    *    *

As mentioned, I also have some interviews coming up, and there are some very interesting authors currently mulling over questions I’ve sent them (huge thank you to them for taking the time), and I have a few more in mind to approach for interviews in the near future. In an ideal world, I’d be able to get an interview for each review I do, but that’s probably not feasible (but would be very cool…). I shall endeavour to get as many as possible. (Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments, by the way.)

Check back tomorrow for an interview with Mark Charan Newton, and a review of his superb City of Ruin the following day.


  1. Very nice list. Some interesting titles you hadn't mentioned on Twitter. No WISE MAN'S FEAR for you or is this not all of your planned for March?

  2. "Wise Man's Fear" is (along with Dan Abraham and Doug Hulick) one of my MOST anticipated books of the year. However, March is when I'm supposed to be submitting my PhD thesis, so I'll be saving WMF for April/May, when I have a little more free time to sink into it (I did nothing else, when reading "Name of the Wind"). Also, that way it'll be reviewed after the initial mad rush of reviews (don't like it when I post something that TONS of others are writing about).
    Also, don't actually have WMF, yet, so don't want to promise anything I can't deliver. I'll probably have to buy it for Kindle, as it's a) huge, and b) I'm moving in April, so it'd be easier to not have to pack and store a big, lovely hardback.
    I am really looking forward to it, though...

  3. Makes a lot of sense. PhD should come before any single book. I would probably also keep some of these books for later... except April-May is even busier book-wise and time-wise (I'm spending two weeks doing humanitarian aid in Togo in April) for me. Lots to look forward to...

  4. You should write a post about your work in Togo - would be interesting to read.