Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Most-Anticipated Novels – July 2012

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It’s been a while since I wrote a post highlighting a given month’s most-anticipated releases. But, given that this year is shaping up to be a real monster for new fiction, and because it’s just impossible to read everything, I thought it would be a good idea to give a hat-tip to those books I’m most looking forward to reading. I’ve stuck with UK release schedules for the most part, but a couple are US releases or books already available across the pond.

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I’ve been lucky enough to get a fair few of these titles already (and have managed to read three in advance of their releases), so I have included links to my reviews where relevant, rather than exhaustive comments on those titles.

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So, without further ado, here are my picks for July 2012…

Cawkwell-ValkiaTheBloodySarah Cawkwell, Valkia the Bloody (Black Library)

Warrior-maiden and consort of the blood god Khorne, the name Valkia the Bloody is feared among all the tribes of the north – friend and foe alike. From her earliest days as a shield bearer for her father King Merroc, she has known nothing but unending warfare and the brutal politics of the tribal leaders, and soon reaches out to seize power for herself. Though her feral beauty might attract unlikely suitors and her enemies may plot against her in secret, Valkia holds the patronage of the Ruinous Powers, and Khorne will not allow his chosen queen to fall.

I already have a copy of this book, but when I was packing up my stuff in New York, it got dropped into one of the boxes. So I don’t have it with me. Which is a real pain in the ass. I’ll buy the eBook when it’s available. I really want to read this.

Also on CR: Interview with Sarah Cawkwell & Guest Post

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Cooper-TrinityMoonUKElspeth Cooper, Trinity Moon (Gollancz)

The future holds nothing but blood and death...

... and Teia fears there is nothing she can do about it. Her clan is riding to war, but her secret, untrained gift of foretelling has shown her they are riding to their doom. If she cannot turn them from their course, her only hope of saving them will be to betray them to their sworn enemies.

Gair is mourning his past...

... but there is no time to dwell on his grief or hunger for revenge. Pursuing an artefact from the Founding Wars, he travels deep into the hostile southern deserts. As religious tensions erupt into bloody violence around him, he must make an impossible choice: save innocent lives or sacrifice them in the hope that thousands more can be saved later.

And all the while, his grip on his powers is failing.

I enjoyed Cooper’s debut, Songs of the Earth, and have been quite eager to read this follow-up ever since. Songs wasn’t perfect, but it was set in an intriguing world that had so much potential. I’m definitely looking forward to this, and I hope the main character, Gair develops a little more (he was perhaps the weakest link in the first book).

Also on CR: Interview with Elspeth Cooper

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JacksonDB-ThieftakerD.B. Jackson, Thieftaker (Tor US)

Boston, Province of Massachusetts Bay, August 26, 1765

A warm evening in colonial North America's leading city. Smoke drifts across the city, and with it the sound of voices raised in anger, of shattering glass and splintering wood. A mob is rioting in the streets, enraged by the newest outrage from Parliament: a Stamp Tax . Houses are destroyed, royal officials are burned in effigy. And on a deserted lane, a young girl is murdered.

Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker of some notoriety, and a conjurer of some skill, is hired by the girl's father to find her killer. Soon he is swept up in a storm of intrigue and magic, politics and treachery. The murder has drawn the notice of the lovely and deadly Sephira Pryce, a rival thieftaker in Boston; of powerful men in the royal government; of leaders of the American rebels, including Samuel Adams; and of a mysterious sorcerer who wields magic the likes of which Ethan has never encountered before.

To learn the truth of what happened that fateful night, Ethan must recover a stolen gem and sound the depths of conjurings he barely understands, all while evading Sephira and her henchmen, holding the royals and rebels at bay, and defending himself and those he loves from the shadowy conjurer.

No problem. Provided he doesn't get himself killed in the process.

American history and magic? Count me in. This novel caught my eye a while ago, during one of my frequent catalog-browsing afternoons (don’t judge me), and I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on it. Sadly, I still haven’t managed to do so. Given the positive reviews that have started cropping up around the biblio-sphere, though, my interest has just grown. I’ll try to get to it ASAP, and maybe see if Mr Jackson is available for interview as well.

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Kemp-Hammer&BladePaul S. Kemp, The Hammer & the Blade (Angry Robot)

A Tale of Egil and Nix

A fast paced adventure redolent with the best of classic sword and sorcery tales…

Kill the demon.

Steal the treasure.

Retire to a life of luxury.

Sounds easy when you put it like that.

Unfortunately for Egil and Nix, when the demon they kill has friends in high places, retirement is not an option.

File Under: Fantasy [ Derring Don’t | Hammer Time | Family Affair | Hell Spawn ]

I’ve already managed to read and review this – what feels like ages ago, actually, but was actually only a couple months ago. Needless to say, it’s unabashed sword-and-sorcery awesomeness. So you should really go check it out.

Also on CR: Interview with Paul Kemp

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King-AngelOfFireWilliam King, Angel of Fire (Black Library)

At the dawn of the forty-first millennium, Lord Commander Macharius and his forces embark upon the re-conquest of over a thousand worlds. A man of steel and fire, Macharius is the only one with the will to lead the massed armies of the Imperium to victory. As the crusade rolls onwards, it reaches the world of Karsk. In the city of Irongrad, the Imperial forces face the crusade’s end, unless Macharius and his army can defeat the dreaded Angel of Fire.

Another of this month’s novels I’ve managed to review ahead of time, Angel of Fire marks the return of Mr King to the Warhammer 40,000 setting. He was one of the first authors to write substantial work in Games Workshop’s two universes, and I’ve been reading everything he releases for them. A good military sci-fi story sure to please fans and newbies alike.

Also on CR: Interview with William King

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Lawson-HouseBloodMike Lawson, House Blood (Grove/Atlantic)

DeMarco is asked to look into the murder conviction of a lobbyist. But he has other worries on his mind: his boss is no longer Speaker, his girlfriend has left him, and his friend Emma may be dying. DeMarco doesn’t expect to free the lobbyist – much less to become the target of two of the most callous killers he and Emma have ever encountered.

I managed to pick up a copy of this at BookExpo America in early June, so have managed to review it already. Needless to say, long-time fans of the series will be pleased Lawson has not only managed to maintain the high quality of his writing, but also offered up a really good and original thriller premise as well. Those who haven’t read any of Lawson’s novels… well, I really recommend you rectify this ASAP if you have any interest in political thrillers.

Also on CR: Interview with Mike Lawson

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Newton-BrokenIslesMark Charan Newton, The Broken Isles (Tor)

The culmination of the Legends of the Red Sun series. This takes us back to Villiren where Commander Brynd Lathera prepares for the coming battle ahead with invaders from the other world. Villjamur is gone, Rika and her sister Eir are all that remains of the Jorsalir line and Brynd is determined that Rika will lead her people in the creation of a new city and new culture. But Villiren has never been a city to play by the rules and, despite the impending threat of destruction, criminal gangs work to undermine everything that Brynd has set out to do. The world is on the brink of destruction and anarchy...

I love this series. So it is with bittersweet anticipation that I will be reading The Broken Isles. The novels have been getting better with each new release, so I have very high hopes for this fourth installment. Expect a review very soon, as I have the book already and it’s glaring at me…

Also on CR: Interview with Mark Newton

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Parker-SharpsK.J. Parker, Sharps (Orbit)

For the first time in nearly forty years, an uneasy truce has been called between two neighbouring kingdoms. The war has been long and brutal, fought over the usual things: resources, land, money…

Now, there is a chance for peace. Diplomatic talks have begun and with them, the games of skill and chance. Two teams of fencers represent their nations at this pivotal moment.

When the future of the world lies balanced on the point of a rapier, one misstep could mean ruin for all.

The enigmatic K.J. Parker… I’ve only read one of the author’s novels (The Company), which didn’t really do it for me. Nevertheless, Sharps has a pretty intriguing premise, so I’ll be reading it relatively soon. It helps that plenty of bloggers have already sung the novel’s praises on their sites, which has certainly piqued my interest. I may hold off just a little while, though, so my review doesn’t get swamped by all the others. I sometimes like to be difficult and different… I really must get around to reading The Folding Knife, too.

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Sandford-StolenPreyUSJohn Sandford, Stolen Prey (Simon & Schuster)

Lucas Davenport has seen many terrible murder scenes. This is one of the worst. In the small Minnesota town of Deephaven, an entire family has been killed – husband, wife, two daughters, dogs.

There’s something about the scene that pokes at Lucas’s cop instincts – it looks an awful lot like the kind of scorched-earth retribution he’s seen in drug killings sometimes. But this is a seriously upscale town, and the husband was an executive vice president at a big bank. It just doesn’t seem to fit.

Until it does. And where it leads Lucas will take him into the darkest nightmare of his life.

I still need to read the previous novel in Sandford’s Prey/Lucas Davenport series – this is the first time, in fact, when I didn’t read it immediately after getting a copy of the book. I don’t really know why. I think I was just swamped with other highly-anticipated books, and just hadn’t been in the mood for a thriller. I’ll catch up soon.

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Sprunk-3-ShadowsMasterJon Sprunk, Shadow’s Master (Pyr/Gollancz)

The northern wastes...

A land of death and shadow where only the strongest survive. Yet that is where Caim must go to follow the mystery at the heart of his life. Armed only with his knives and his companions, he plunges into a world of eternal night where the sun is never seen and every hand is turned against him.

Caim has buried his father’s sword and found some measure of peace, but deep in the north an unfathomable power lays waiting. To succeed on this mission, Caim will have to more than just survive. He must face the Shadow’s Master.

The end of another fantasy series I’ve been enjoying. One of the better examples of assassin/thief fantasy that has really taken off in the past couple of years. I received an ARC from Pyr, Sprunk’s American publisher, and have just been rather slow about reading it. Maybe I’m also slightly hesitant to read it because it means the series will be over… I seem to do that a lot, recently.

Also on CR: Interview with Jon Sprunk & Guest Post

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Tregillis-BitterSeedsUKIan Tregillis, Bitter Seeds (Orbit) & The Coldest War (Tor US)

The year is 1939. Raybould Marsh and other members of British Intelligence have gathered to watch a damaged reel of film in a darkened room. It appears to show German troops walking through walls, bursting into flames and hurling tanks into the air from afar.

If the British are to believe their eyes, a twisted Nazi scientist has been endowing German troops with unnatural, unstoppable powers. And Raybould will be forced to resort to dark methods to hold the impending invasion at bay.

But dealing with the occult exacts a price. And that price must be paid in blood.

This series has had quite a long, troubled publishing history, but I’m very happy that it has finally made it over to the UK. Already out in the US, this has been very well received, and I love the World War II-mixed-with-the-supernatural premise. The sequel, The Coldest War, will also be released in the states this month (but not until February 2013 in the UK).

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In other news – I am starting to get back into my reading and reviewing rhythm, so I’ll hopefully be bringing you more content online. Currently, I’m reading Straight Razor Cure (or Low Town in the US) by Daniel Polansky. After that…? Well, it’ll be either The Broken Isles, Bitter Seeds, or a novel I already have that isn’t out for a long time (it’s a secret!). I’m not sure which one I’m leaning towards at the moment.

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