Sunday, May 31, 2009

Books in the Mail (W/E 05/30/2009)

An even thinner week of arrivals for the last week of May, but both look to be definite reads.

Wolfbreed by S. A. Swann (Bantam Spectra Trade Paperback 8/25/2009) – I just finished the Prophets the first book by S. Andrew Swann that I read and I liked it, so to see him make a left turn from Space Opera SF to Urban Fantasy/Werewolves is interesting.

When a monk uncovers a lair of werewolf young, he unleashes a power unseen in demons or men. The Teutonic Order—the most powerful military organization in Christendom—has clandestinely raised these ferocious beasts to serve as instruments of God. Known as wolfbreed, the lupine creatures are able to cloak themselves in human form. Trained to slip into villages unnoticed before commencing their slaughter, they are all but unstoppable. Only one, called Lilly, has cunningly fled her brutal master…

Young Uldolf doesn’t remember the massacre eight years earlier that claimed his village, his arm, and his kin, leaving him to be raised by his uncle’s kind family. But he knows the pain of loneliness, and when he sees what he believes is a beautiful young girl, injured and cowering in the woods, he runs to her aid and carries her home.

Uldolf and his family will do anything to protect the terrified girl…but the danger they face is greater than they can possibly imagine. For death is the only life young Lilly has ever known. Can their care pierce the darkness she harbors in her soul? Or will her secret cause her to lose everything she has to gain…

Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson (TOR Hardcover 06/09/2009) – I’ve read a couple of books by RCW, including Spin which I thought was one of the best SF novels I’ve read in the past decade or so. This book is generating the same type of good buzz.

In the reign of President Deklan Comstock, a reborn United States is struggling back to prosperity. Over a century after the Efflorescence of Oil, after the Fall of the Cities, after the Plague of Infertility, after the False Tribulation, after the days of the Pious Presidents, the sixty stars and thirteen stripes wave from the plains of Athabaska to the national capital in New York City. In Colorado Springs, the Dominion sees to the nation’s spiritual needs. In Labrador, the Army wages war on the Dutch. America, unified, is rising once again.

Then out of Labrador come tales of a new Ajax—Captain Commongold, the Youthful Hero of the Saguenay. The ordinary people follow his adventures in the popular press. The Army adores him. The President is…troubled. Especially when the dashing Captain turns out to be his nephew Julian, son of the falsely accused and executed Bryce.

Treachery and intrigue dog Julian’s footsteps. Hairsbreadth escapes and daring rescues fill his days. Stern resolve and tender sentiment dice for Julian’s soul, while his admiration for the works of the Secular Ancients, and his adherence to the evolutionary doctrines of the heretical Darwin, set him at fatal odds with the hierarchy of the Dominion. Plague and fire swirl around the Presidential palace when at last he arrives with the acclamation of the mob.

As told by Julian’s best friend and faithful companion, a rustic yet observant lad from the west, this tale of the 22nd Century asks— and answers—the age-old question: “Do you want to tell the truth, or do you want to tell a story?”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Warded Man

Every year for the past few years a genre debut novel hits the shelves with a big splash and this year’s candidate (or late last year for UK folks) that book is Peter V. Brett’s, The Warded Man. I posted review last night:

The world in which this novel takes place would best be described as harsh and unforgiving. People live in small towns in fear of the night, for as the sun sets, demons rise from the earth to wreak havoc. The setting, though not overly descriptive on Brett’s part, is very evocative. The world comes through the characters (primary, secondary and background) eyes and their actions. The feel is almost like the Old West or even what the Dust Bowl– these people eke out a meager living getting through their daily tasks and closing up the proverbial shop at night to hide behind the wards that keep away the Corelings, as the demons are referred to by the characters. In some horrific instances, the corelings manage to break through the wards and kill, burn, and destroy towns. It is in this harsh desolate setting that Brett introduces the character of Arlen.


While The Warded Man is a complete novel in and of itself – it has a clear beginning, middle, end, and resolution, the last chapter opens the door to The Desert Spear. As a debut novel, it is a most impressive narrative for many reasons. Brett’s ability to tow the line between familiar elements and a fresh spin; his great storytelling skills; and the other line he towed between giving enough details about this desolate world to whet reader’s appetites and not launching into exposition-laden info dumps.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Books in the Mail (W/E 05/24/2009)

Only three books following a big batch last week, one of which I've already read. No complaints here, though.…

The Empress of Mars by Kage Baker (Tor Hardcover 5/12/2009)- This is the third version of the book I’ve received, having been sent an ARC of the Subterranean Press edition last year and an ARC of this edition in March. I recently posted my review.

At the center of the story is Mary Griffith, proprietor of the Empress of Mars, the only bar on the red planet. By strange hands of fate, she comes into possession of an extraordinarily large diamond which could set her comfortably for the rest of her life. Mary is a very matriarchal figure, she strong-willed, smart and has a number of daughters. She signed on to the BAC’s too-good-to-be true deal to help terra form Mars, but things didn’t work out so well. Unable to return to Earth, Mary used her skills and knowledge as a xenobiologist to brew beer and open the Empress.

Other quirky characters round out the cast, a man who seemingly helps Mary sell the diamond, another, Ottorino Vespucci, who woos her, the lawyer who is hoping to stifle the BAC’s attempt at autocratic control; a strange man known as the Heretic who once lived on the moon. Baker also created a cult religion on the planet who worships a mysterious Goddess. The characters provide a great deal of life on an otherwise barren landscape.

Faery Moon (A Tess Noncoire Adventure #3) by P.R Frost (DAW Hardcover 06/02/2009)) – Third in a series about a woman who is both a fantasy writer and the defender of a Faery realm.

Tess Noncoiré, successful fantasy writer and Celestial Blade Warrior, has gone to a writers' conference in Las Vegas, taking along her mother, who is depressed over the death of her demon husband.

Taking in one of Vegas' Big Acts, Tess is amazed to see winged dancers flying about the stage, seemingly unsupported by any wires. Then she discovers the dancers are actually faeries, held captive in the casino against their will. And if Tess and her sidekick demon Scrap don't help the faeries return to their own dimension, they—and their realm—will die.

Syncopated: An Anthology of Nonfiction Picto-Essays edited by Brendan Burfurd (Villard 05/19/2009) – This looks to be a non-fiction ‘history’ anthology of black and white comic short stories

The stories in Syncopated challenge convention, provide perspective, and search out secret truths–all in the inviting, accessible form of comics.

Syncopated will give you a daringly different view of the past–from the history of vintage postcards to the glory days of old Coney Island. It will immerse you in fascinating subcultures, from the secret world of graffiti artists to the chess champs of Greenwich Village. And it will open your eyes to pieces of forgotten history–for example, the Tulsa race riots of 1921–and to new perspectives on critical current events, such as the interrogation of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. These “picto-essays” encompass memoir, history, journalism, and biography in varied visual styles–each handpicked by Brendan Burford, one of America’s top editors.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Roberson & Miéville reviewed at SFFWorld

Chris Roberson writes fun, engaging stories. I reviewed his latest novel, End of the Century and posted the review last night:

Roberson gives us three stories/story threads here: Alice Fell, a young girl with visions that pull her to London and involve her in a caper; Galaad, a young fighter of Artor’s realm in Briton who has his own 0visions which eventually lead he and his King on a quest; and a Victorian era mystery as the enigmatic Sandford Blank and his sidekick/associate Miss Roxanne Bonaventure, investigate a potential serial killer. Essentially, these are Roberson’s analogues to Galahad and his Quest for the Grail, Alice in Wonderland, and Holmes & Watson.

It would be unsurprising for one of the three story strands to either be stronger or take dominance over the other two. Roberson is a better writer than that – there isn’t a sense that one is more important than the other. In fact, he crafts the plot and story so well that each story, by novel’s end, could not really function without the other two. As the stories develop, elements common to all three pop-up; in particular, a dark hunter pursues Alice in the “Millennium” (c. 2000) storyline, while a similar Huntsman stalks Blank & Bonaventure.

Mark also posted a review of one of the genre’s most anticipated books of the year, The City and the City by China Miéville. I've got a copy of the book myself, but haven't had a chance to jump in yet. Here's Mark's review:

The book actually starts, knowingly, as a homage to detective novels. (Raymond Chandler is referenced in the acknowledgements.) Detective Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad is summoned to a homicide of a young blonde woman found on the streets of central European-like BesŸel.

So far, so typically a crime novel. But of course, this being China, it’s not long before things start to read strangely. The first person narrative begins to speak of ‘unseeing’ things. Another city, that of Ul Qoma, is mentioned.

As this masterful conceit is revealed, the reader becomes aware that the tale is more than that of a murder but actually more a tale of two cities: BesŸel and Ul Qoma overlap each other in space to such a degree that you can walk from one side of a city street to the other and find yourself suddenly in the other city.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Books in the Mail (W/E 05/17/2009)

Another sizeable batch of arrivals here at the o’ Stuff…

A Flash of Hex (Tess Corday/OSI #2) by Jes Battis (Ace Mass Market Paperback 06/02/2009) – CSI Meets Vampires and Demons in Battis’s second novel featuring Occult Special Investigator Tess Corday

As an Occult Special Investigator, Tess Corday has seen her fair share of disturbing crime scenes--but nothing ever shocked her as much as the ritualistic murder of a drugged-out runaway kid, who she soon learns was not the first such victim.

All the dead teens had traces of the dangerous magical drug called Hex in their bodies. All were the children of powerful mage families. All were killed with the sacred tools of mages. It adds up to the chilling possibility that the OSI is dealing with a serial killer, one who has incredible inhuman powers.

To stop the slaughter, Tess and her partner Derrick will go anywhere and do anything—including seeking help from the necromancer Lucian Agrado, whom Tess is under orders to avoid . But as the deaths continue, Tess becomes convinced that the identity of the killer is locked inside her own head. And the question is—how many rules is she willing to break to get to the truth?

The Dresden Files: Storm Front Volume 1: The Gathering Storm by Jim Butcher (writer-novel), Mark Powers (script adaptation) and Ardian Syaf (a) (Del Rey / Dabel Brothers 06/02/2009)- – I’ve read up to Blood Rites, book six in the novel series and this is the first part of the Dabel’s adaptation of the first novel Storm Front.

For his first case, Harry is called in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with the blackest of magic. At first, the less-than-solvent Harry's eyes light up with dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage. Now, that black mage knows Harry's name. And things are about to get very...interesting.

MythOS by Kelly McCullough (Ace Mass Market Paperback 06/02/2009) – Fourth in a series that mixes fantasy magic and Cybperbunk.

In the 21st century, magic has advanced with the times and gone digital. But when Ravirn—a computer savvy sorcerer—is thrown into a parallel world where magic runs on a different operating system, he’ll need mad skills to get out alive.

A Grey Moon Over China by Thomas Day (Tor Hardcover 05/19/2009) – This book sounds pretty interesting, Tor picked it up after the book received a lot of praise when it was published by small press publisher Black Heron Press. I might be bumping this one up on the pile.

Army engineer Eduardo Torres is caught up in the world’s raging oil wars when he stumbles onto the plans for a quantum-energy battery. This remarkable device could slow civilization’s inevitable descent into environmental disaster, but Torres has other plans. Forming a private army, he uses the device to revive an abandoned space colonization effort in an ambitious campaign to lead humanity to a new life in a distant solar system.

The massive endeavor faces many challenges before the fleet finally embarks for the Holzstein System many light-years away. But even as the feuding colonists struggle to carve out homes on alien worlds, they discover that they have not left their old conflicts and inner demons behind. Nor are they alone on this new frontier. Awaiting them are inhuman beings who strike without warning or explanation--and who may spell the end of humanity’s last hope.

Epic in scope, yet filled with searing human drama and emotion, A Grey Moon Over China is a monumental science fiction saga by an amazing new talent.

Carpe Corpus (Morganville Vampires #6) by Rachel Caine (Signet Mass Market Paperback 06/02/2009) – This is the sixth book in a Young Adult series about college students and vampires.

In the small college town of Morganville, vampires and humans lived in (relative) peace—until all the rules got rewritten when the evil vampire Bishop arrived, looking for the lost book of vampire secrets. He's kept a death grip on the town ever since. Now an underground resistance is brewing, and in order to contain it, Bishop must go to even greater lengths. He vows to obliterate the town and all its inhabitants—the living and the undead. Claire Danvers and her friends are the only ones who stand in his way. But even if they defeat Bishop, will the vampires ever be content to go back to the old rules, after having such a taste of power?

The Spy Who Haunted Me (Secret Histories/Eddie "Shaman Bond" Drood #3) by Simon R. Green (Roc Hardcover 06/02/2009) – Green churns quite a few books every year and each in a different series. This is spy fiction meets myth and magic.

Eddie Drood's evil-stomping skills have come to the attention of the legendary Alexander King, Independent Agent extraordinaire. The best of the best, King spent a lifetime working for anyone and everyone, doing anything and everything, for the right price. Now, he's on his deathbed and looking to bestow all of his priceless secrets to a successor, provided he or she wins a contest to solve the world's greatest mysteries. Eddie has to win, because King holds the most important secret of all to the Droods—the identity of the traitor in their midst...

The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff (DAW Hardcover 06/02/2009) – This looks like either a standalone or new series for the popular Huff. I’ve seen good things about her Vampire seriesThe Blood Books, but this is a modern day fantasy:

The bestselling author of the Blood Books delivers a masterful new urban fantasy.

Alysha Gale is a member of a family capable of changing the world with the charms they cast. Then she receives word that she's inherited her grandmother's junk shop in Calgary, only to discover upon arriving that she'll be serving the fey community. And when Alysha learns just how much trouble is brewing in Calgary, even calling in the family to help may not be enough to save the day.

Swordplay by Denise Little (DAW Mass Market Paperback 06/02/2009) – The June Monthly anthology from DAW is themed around swordsmen and swords. And who says short fiction is dying?

Seventeen rapier-sharp stories of swordplay, magic, and adventure...

From a samurai's sword to an assassin's blade, from Custer's cavalry sword to D'Artagnan's deadly weapon, from the sword of Damocles to the legendary Excalibur, these all-new spellbinding tales get straight to the point. Whether it's a sword bespelled to crave blood, cold steel that magicks its wielder into a video game, or a dwarf-crafted blade meant to slay a dragon, these weapons each come sheathed in their own fascinating story that cuts right to the heart of fantasy adventure.

The City and the City by China Miéville (Subterranean Press Limited and Lettered Hardcover July 2009) – New fiction from China Miéville is always a good thing and this one looks terrific.

New York Times bestselling author China Miéville delivers his most accomplished novel yet, an existential thriller set in a city unlike any other–real or imagined.

When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.

Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own. This is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen. His destination is Beszel’s equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, and struggling with his own transition, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of rabid nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them and those they care about more than their lives.

What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

Casting shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984, The City & the City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (Ace Hardcover 06/02/2009) – This is the first of two books by Alastair Reynolds that arrived this past week and set in the same world as Thousandth Night, which I read and thoroughly enjoyed when it was in the great Dozois-edited anthology One Million A.D..
Six million years ago, at the very dawn of the starfaring era, Abigail Gentian fractured herself into a thousand male and female clones: the shatterlings. Sent out into the galaxy, these shatterlings have stood aloof as they document the rise and fall of countless human empires. They meet every two hundred thousand years, to exchange news and memories of their travels with their siblings.

Campion and Purslane are not only late for their thirty-second reunion, but they have brought along an amnesiac golden robot for a guest. But the wayward shatterlings get more than the scolding they expect: they face the discovery that someone has a very serious grudge against the Gentian line, and there is a very real possibility of traitors in their midst. The surviving shatterlings have to dodge exotic weapons while they regroup to try to solve the mystery of who is persecuting them, and why - before their ancient line is wiped out of existence, for ever.

Thousandth Night & Minla’s Flowers by Alastair Reynolds (Subterranean Press Limited Edition Hardcover October 2009) – In the tradition of the old Ace Doubles, Subterranean is offering two novella length stories from Alastair Reynolds. I read one of them Thousandth Night since it was in the great Dozois-edited anthology One Million A.D. while the other, Minla’s Flowers is in the New Space Opera which has been on my to-read shelf for well over a year.

For many of us, the Ace Double Novels of the ‘50s and ‘60s have long been a source both of pleasure and nostalgia. This new double volume from Subterranean Press stands squarely in that distinguished tradition, offering a pair of colorful, fast-paced stories from the reigning master of the intergalactic space opera: Alastair Reynolds.

Thousandth Night, the genesis for the epic novel House of Suns, is quintessential Reynolds. A visionary account of intrigue, ambition, and technological marvels set within a beautifully realized far-future milieu, it combines world-class storytelling with a provocative meditation on the mystery, grandeur, and inconceivable immensity of the universe.

The masterful novella Minla’s Flowers features Merlin, a familiar figure to Reynolds’s readers. Diverted by technical difficulties to a planet known as Lecythus, Merlin finds himself forced to play a part in the moral and military dilemmas of a world on the verge of extinction.

Phantasm (Zoë Martinique Investigation #3) by Phaedra Weldon (Ace Trade Paperback 06/02/2009) – Third in a series about a paranormal investigator

The newest in a series that's "part paranormal whodunit, part urban fantasy"(Publishers Weekly) by the author of Wraith and Spectre.

Just when Zoë Martinique, formerly ordinary twenty-something, was getting used to the idea that she was possessed of extraordinary powers, she lost them. Without cause or warning. And at the worst possible time.

Now, unless she can figure out how to go Wraith again, she won't be able to rescue her mother, whose soul is trapped on the Abysmal plane. Her only hope is to join forces with an old enemy, who has his own dark reasons for helping her. From him she learns that only a traumatic experience can bring the Wraith back. To get out-of-body, Zoë will have to look for big, dangerous trouble—and fast.

For there is a deadly and powerful being within the Abysmal that wishes Zoë never existed...and it's coming for her.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Three Un-reviews

It’s only been two months since I last gave up on a book. The book I quit at the time was Amber Benson’s death’s daughter. As I said then, the protagonist was one of the most annoying I’d ever come across in my readings over the years and I couldn’t stand to hear her in my head any longer.

Earlier in the year, it was The Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd, which simply didn’t click with me in any way. The characters weren’t logical and I just couldn’t connect with anything in the story. The story was too muddled and I got the sense things were thrown against the wall to see what stuck. Shame because I wanted to like it. I got a general "this doesn't make sense" feel to alot of the story – Lloyd seemed as if he wanted to arrive at certain plot points but how he got there weren't logical enough for me. Also, the names of the characters and places just didn't work for me either. I can usually overlook this in the genre (Epic/High/Secondary World Fantasy is probably my favorite subgenre), but here it added to the muddled and cluttered logic of the novel. This is the first book from Pyr that did not work for me in any way shape or form.

Yesterday, I stopped reading Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs just shy of the halfway point. I really don't like giving up on books since I go into every book hoping to enjoy the book. First off, the book wasn't really inviting to new readers. The first third or so of the book seemed to be a reaction to events that transpired in the previous volume – series protagonist Mercy Thompson killing a Vampire and the fallout from the Vampire Community against her. Too much of the book relies on prior events such that a one page recap of the previous novel(s) in the series informing readers of how the characters arrived at the beginning of Bone Crossed would have helped a great deal. (Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy had one of these in the back and Tad Williams's series books always have a recap page.)

Despite not having a full handle on all the characters, some of the events were choreographed and very predictable. For example, Mercy left her home in the Tri-Cities to stay with her friend, Amber while the werewolves can meet/reason with the Head Vampire of the Tri-Cities area so that Mercy isn’t killed. Mercy is told by her wolf pack and vampire pal told to avoid a vampire of even more power and evil (Blackwood) who lives in the same town as Amber. Well wouldn't you know it Amber's husband brings home Blackwood for dinner to do some work related business on the very same day Mercy shows up at Amber's door.

Also, there's barely a hint that Mercy is a shapeshifter (were-coyote as it were) aside from her and the other characters telling us this fact. We don't really see her in coyote form for the majority of the first half of the novel.

The book isn't necessarily bad. The story flows well enough and the characters interact fairly genuinely. While I'm sure the book will work for folks who have been reading along since Mercy's first novel, for me I just couldn't read any further.

Now, all three of these books were sent to me from their respective publishers as I’m on their review lists. Since I didn’t finish any of them, I didn’t feel I could justify doing a real review of them. On the other hand, I don’t want to do only reviews of books I liked so I guess the compromise is to write posts like this.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

George R.R. Martin is Not Your Bitch

Neil Gaiman posted a clear-headed and lengthy response to a reader's question about George R.R. Martin's next book in A Song of Ice and Fire. Neil might be a little biased since, you know, is in the same line of work as GRRM. Either way, it is an interesting piece. I'm sure this will ressurrect some of the just-gone dormant posts and discussions about writers and their delays.

People are not machines. Writers and artists aren't machines.

You're complaining about George doing other things than writing the books you want to read as if your buying the first book in the series was a contract with him: that you would pay over your ten dollars, and George for his part would spend every waking hour until the series was done, writing the rest of the books for you.

In other author-delay news, Patrick Rothfuss completed (the first draft) of A Wise Man's Fear, the second book in the series which began with The Name of the Wind. I love the dry tone he uses:
Lastly, for those of you that care about this sort of thing, I got the first draft of book two finished Manuscript printed and mailed to my editor two hours before I got on my plane.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Two for One - Weeks & Baker Reviewed

It’s Two-for-Tuesday here at the o’Stuff! I had a bit of a backlog so I figured I’d post up two reviews this week: Brent Weeks’s Beyond the Shadows, the finale of his Night Angel Trilogy and The Empress of Mars by Kage Baker.

I liked the first two books in Weeks’s trilogy and was pleased with how he concluded it:

The revelation at the end of Shadow’s Edge was initially very surprising, but as it settled into how the story played out, it felt logical and perhaps could have been choreographed when put in relation to the story and the genre itself. That said, the effects of that revelation are played out to good effect throughout the majority of Beyond the Shadows. Weeks brought many of the dangling plot-threads together in this volume in a relatively satisfying manner.

The storyline is definitely wrapped up but Weeks has built a foundation for many stories within the pages of these three books. Whether they feature Kylar or some of the descendants of other characters like Logan and Solon, he’s got ample room to return and he will be doing that in the future as he’s signed to write some more books for Orbit.

On the other hand, sometimes a writer who a good number of people like just doesn’t connect with me and unfortunately that’s the case with Kage Baker’s SF. I like her short fiction, but I didn’t click with this one:
Mars is one of the most iconic and revisited settings in all of science fiction, both as a place of past alien civilizations and future colonization for futuristic frontier stories. In The Empress of Mars, Baker takes that second route as Mars is still an open planet ripe for pioneers to settle. Overseeing the colonization efforts is a very looming authority: the British Aerean Company (BAC). Unfortunately, the success the BAC had in colonizing the Moon didn’t turn out so well on Mars leaving the populace on the fringes and quite that evoked the Dustbowl situation in the American West in the 1930s.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Books in the Mail (W/E 05/09/2009)

As of last week, I’ve been posting Books in the Mail for a year. Here’s the reason why – I get a lot of review books from publishers. Some in ARC (Advance Reader Copy) format, many in final published format you’d see on the shelves of Barnes and Noble. While a lot of the books I’ve received are really appealing, it is impossible for me to read everything that arrives on my porch/in my mailbox/in front of my garage, especially with getting 7 – 10 books in some weeks. So, about a year ago, I decided I’d post an e-mail just like this once a week to at least acknowledge the books I received the prior week.

The Stars Blue Yonder by Sandra McDonald (Tor Hardcover 07/21/2009) – I read The Outback Stars the first book in this series (and McDonald’s first novel) in 2007 and thought it was a good debut. This here is the third book in the series:

Chief Terry Myell died and became a god. Now he’s back to life, careening around space and time at the behest of a voice that told him to save all of mankind. Helping and hindering this quest are his elderly wife, his young wife, grandchildren who haven’t been born yet, romantic rivals he hasn’t even met, a descendant from two thousand years in the future, and an alien nemesis who calls itself the Flying Doctor. Life in the military has never been so complicated.

Commander Jodenny Scott would agree. She’s seven months pregnant and trying to come to peace with her husband’s death. When Myell reappears with tales of time travel, she’s not sure what to believe.

But with an invading army bearing down on Earth’s last fleet of spaceships, there’s not much time for debate. When the dust clears Jodenny is stranded in an Australia she never imagined, and Myell’s more desperate than ever to rescue her—from aliens, from treachery, and from history itself.

The Dame (Saga of the First King #2) by R.A. Salvatore (Tor Hardcover 08/18/2009) – I read the first of this new series The Ancient last year and was (surprisingly) entertained by it. This here’s the sequel/second book in the series:

The vast road network of Honce, completed a decade before, had brought great optimism to the people of the land. Commerce could travel more freely and so could armies, and those armies, it was hoped, would rid the land at long last of the vicious, bloody cap dwarfs and goblins. For the first time, the many individual kingdoms, the holdings of Honce, would be brought closer together, perhaps even united. For the last few years, those promises had become a nightmare to the folk, as two powerful lairds fought for supremacy of a hoped-for united kingdom. Bransen Garibond, the Highwayman, held little real interest in that fight. To him the warring lairds were two sides of the same coin. Whichever side won, the outcome for the people of Honce would be the same, Bransen believed. A journey north, however, taught Bransen that his views were simplistic at best, and that some things--like honor and true friendship-- might truly matter. In The Dame, Bransen’s road becomes a quest for the truth, of Honce and of himself, a quest to put right over wrong. That path is fraught with confusion and fraud, and a purposeful blurring of morality by those who would seek to use the Highwayman’s extraordinary battle skills and popularity among the commonfolk for their own nefarious ends.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: No Prisoners by Karen Traviss (Del Rey Trade Paperback 05/15/2009) – Travis is a very good writer and her Star Wars novels are held in very high regard. This is her latest, which is based on the very entertaining Clone Wars television show.

The Clone Wars rage on. As insurgent Separatists fight furiously to wrest control of the galaxy from the Republic, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine cunningly manipulates both sides for his own sinister purposes.

Torrent Company’s Captain Rex agrees to temporarily relieve Anakin Skywalker of Ahsoka, his ubiquitous–and insatiably curious–Padawan, by bringing her along on a routine three-day shakedown cruise aboard Captain Gilad Pellaeon’s newly refitted assault ship. But the training run becomes an active–and dangerous–rescue mission when Republic undercover agent Hallena Devis goes missing in the middle of a Separatist invasion.

Dispatched to a distant world to aid a local dictator facing a revolution, Hallena finds herself surrounded by angry freedom fighters and questioning the Republic’s methods–and motives. Summoned to rescue the missing operative who is also his secret love, Pellaeon–sworn to protect the Republic over all–is torn between duty and desire. And Ahsoka, sent in with Rex and six untested clone troopers to extract Hallena, encounters a new and different Jedi philosophy, which shakes the foundation of her upbringing to the core. As danger and intrigue intensify, the loyalties and convictions of all involved will be tested. . . .

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Mark C. Newton's Nights of Villjamur to Del Rey

I've seen very good things about Mark C. Newton's fantasy novel Nights of Villjamur in recent months, so I'm glad to see his book snatched up by Del Rey. I've got to say, Del Rey has been making some impressive waves recently - Robert V.S. Redick and Peter V. Brett (The Warded Man) to name just two.

Congratulations to Mark!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Temporal Void by PFH at SFFW

Here’s the usual quickie post announcing my latest book review. This time, it’s Peter F. Hamilton’s The Temporal Void, the second book of his Void Trilogy. For grand scale Epic Space Opera, it doesn’t get much bigger than Hamilton. I liked the second installment of the trilogy a little bit better than the first (The Dreaming Void). Nonetheless, here’s the snippet of the review:

The Temporal Void really is two intertwined novels under one cover – the Waterwalker storyline which takes place in the Void and the effect of the expanding Void and Living Dream movement outside of the Void could conceivably stand on their own as two separate books. Both ‘novels’ are compelling, with the Edeard story being slightly more so. However, considering the book (at least in US ARC form) is large enough to stop a rhino in its tracks, the read was quick and engaging thanks to the best pacing I’ve read from Hamilton. (Admittedly, I’ve yet to complete what many consider his landmark work – The Night's Dawn Trilogy). The link between the Waterwalker’s world and the Commonwealth seem tangential at first, but Hamilton hints at connections between the two throughout with further hints of a more concrete connection perhaps to be revealed in the concluding volume, The Evolutionary Void .

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Books in the Mail (W/E 05/03/2009)

It’s Sunday, so here’s the weekly haul of books publishers send me for review.

World's End (Age of Misrule 1) by Mark Chadbourn (Pyr Trade Paperback May 2009) – I’ve been hoping a US publisher would pick up this intriguing series of books from Chadbourn since I saw some buzz/reviews when it was published in the UK.

A dragon firebombs a freeway. Shape-shifters stalk the commercial district. The deadly Wild Hunt wreaks havoc on the highway.

The Age of Misrule has dawned.

When Jack Churchill and Ruth Gallagher encounter a terrifying, misshapen giant beneath a London bridge, they are plunged into a mystery that portends the end of the world as we know it. All over the country, the ancient gods of Celtic myth are returning to the land from which they were banished millennia ago. Following in their footsteps are creatures of folklore: fabulous beasts, wonders and dark terrors. As technology starts to fail, Jack and Ruth are forced to embark on a desperate quest for four magical items—the last chance for humanity in the face of powers barely comprehended.

Night of Knives by Ian Cameron Esslemont (Tor Trade Paperback 05/12 2009) – I’m a big fan of The Malazan Book of the Fallen, having read up to The Bonehunters. At the time this book was published in the UK, Esslemont was something of the mystery co-conspirator of the Malazan world. Owen reviewed it when it was published in the UK in 2007, this is the TOR version US readers will finally get to a chance to read.:

The small island of Malaz and its city gave the great empire its name, but now it is little more than a sleepy, backwater port. Tonight, however, things are different. Tonight the city is on edge, a hive of hurried, sometimes violent activity; its citizens bustle about, barring doors, shuttering windows, avoiding any stranger’s stare. Because tonight there is to be a convergence, the once-in-a-generation appearance of a Shadow Moon – an occasion that threatens the good people of Malaz with demon hounds and other, darker things …

It was also prophesied that this night would witness the return of Emperor Kellanved, and there are those prepared to do anything to prevent this happening. As factions within the greater Empire draw up battle lines over the imperial throne, the Shadow Moon summons a far more ancient and potent presence for an all-out assault upon the island. Witnessing these cataclysmic events are Kiska, a young girl who yearns to flee the constraints of the city, and Temper, a grizzled, battle-weary veteran who seeks simply to escape his past. Each is to play a part in a conflict that will not only determine the fate of Malaz City, but also of the world beyond …

Drawing on events touched on in the prologue of Steven Erikson’s landmark fantasy Gardens of the Moon, Night of Knives is a momentous chapter in the unfolding story of the extraordinarily imagined world of Malaz.

Death's Head: Day of the Damned (The third of Death’s Head novel) by David Gunn (Del Rey Hardcover 07/28/2009) – I haven’t read any of the previous two novels, but Owen/Kater at SFFWorld really enjoyed the first.

The third installment in the Death’s Head military science fiction series, charting the adventures of Sven Tveskoeg and his band of the baddest military enforcers in the universe.

David Gunn returns with his compulsively readable military science fiction series, continuing a story that has the scope of a Philip K. Dick novel-turned movie adaptation—think Bladerunner, Total Recall, Minority Report, or A Scanner Darkly. Death’s Head: Day of the Damned is action-packed, with high-tech weaponry, violence, great set pieces, a compellingly conflicted hero, and a Star Wars-like evil empire.

Orcs: Bad Blood by Stan Nicholls (Orbit Books Trade Paperback April 2009) – Orbit had a strong push for the omnibus of Orcs when it published last year and it seemed to pay off for them:

Stryke and his band of warriors return in the first part of a brand-new Orcs adventure! When the orcs discovered a world filled with their own kind, they thought they would live there till the end of their days. But the appearance of an unlikely ally will change everything.

This ally - a human - tells of the atrocities being visited upon orcs back in the other world. He implores Stryke and his companions to come back so that they may save their kind from extinction and wreak vengeance upon the humans who've wronged them. But can this human be trusted? Is he a rare friend to the orc -- or is he there to lure them back for their own personal annihilation?

Fall of Thanes The Godless World #3 by Brian Ruckley (Orbit Books Trade Paperback May 2009) – I read and reviewed the first book Winterbirth and Erfael/Joey reviewed the second book Bloodheir. Erfael enjoyed the books more than I did, and Ruckley’s series is relatively popular in the SFFWorld forums so there’s a decent amount of anticipation for this book.

The True Bloods are in disarray, their alliance crumbling and their armies humbled by the forces of the Black Road. Aeglyss, falling ever deeper into madness, casts a shadow across all. At the court of the High Thane, Anyara faces a savage struggle for survival against the na'kyrim's possessed agent: Mordyn Jerain, the Shadowhand.

In the GlasValley, Kanin, the embittered Horin-Gyre Thane, plots a desperate rising against the halfbreed. But ultimately it will be Orisian, Thane of a Blood that no longer exists, who must stand face to face with a darkly transcendent Aeglyss and make the sacrifice - of himself and others - required to end the threat he represents.

FALL OF THANES is the spectacular conclusion to the Godless World trilogy, a sweeping epic of war, politics and empire.

The Blood of Elves (A Witcher novel) by Andrzej Sapkowski (Orbit Books Paperback May 2009) – Last year I read and really enjoyed The Last Wish, a collection of linked short stories that introduced Sapkowski’s Witcher, Geralt de Rivia. I’m looking forward to reading this book.

Watch for the signs! What signs these shall be, I say unto you: first the earth will flow with the blood of Aen Seidhe, the Blood of Elves...

For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over, and now the races are fighting once again. The only good elf, it seems, is a dead elf. Geralt de Rivia, the cunning assassin known as The Witcher, has been waiting for the birth of a prophesied child. This child has the power to change the world - for good, or for evil. As the threat of war hangs over the land and the child is hunted for her extraordinary powers, it will become Geralt's responsibility to protect them all - and the Witcher never accepts defeat.

Following The Last Wish, BLOOD OF ELVES is the new novel starring Geralt de Rivia, the inspiration for the critically-acclaimed videogame The Witcher.