You can now download a Powder Mage short story, "The Girl of Hrusch Avenue," by Brian McClellan for only 0.99$ here.
Here's the blurb:
“The Girl of Hrusch Avenue” is the story of an orphan named Vlora that lives at a boarding school as a ward of the state. Even at her young age, she already has enemies: the Bulldog Twins, Baron Fendamere, and her own headmistress. When a strange man offers to buy her, Vlora runs away and takes to the roofs above the gunsmithies of Hrusch Avenue. It is there that she meets a boy named Taniel and begins a friendship that will change her life forever.
You can now download Michael J. Sullivan's Theft of Swords for only 2.99$ here.
Here's the blurb:
Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles-until they are hired to pilfer a famed sword. What appears to be just a simple job finds them framed for the murder of the king and trapped in a conspiracy that uncovers a plot far greater than the mere overthrow of a tiny kingdom. Can a self-serving thief and an idealistic swordsman survive long enough to unravel the first part of an ancient mystery that has toppled kings and destroyed empires? And so begins the first tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend. When author Michael J. Sullivan self-published the first books of his Riyria Revelations, they rapidly became ebook bestsellers. Now, Orbit is pleased to present the complete series for the first time in bookstores everywhere. Theft of Swords was originally published as: The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha.
Well, this is the book that made me fall in love with the fantasy genre. All the way back in 1986, during my first year of junior high. Fuck me, it doesn't make me any younger!!!
You can now download Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragons of Autumn Twilight, the opening chapter in the Dragonlance Chronicles, for only 2.99$ here.
Here's the blurb:
Lifelong friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each holds secrets from the others in his heart. They speak of a world shadowed with rumors of war. They speak of tales of strange monsters, creatures of myth, creatures of legend. They do not speak of their secrets. Not then. Not until a chance encounter with a beautiful, sorrowful woman, who bears a magical crystal staff, draws the companions deeper into the shadows, forever changing their lives and shaping the fate of the world. No one expected them to be heroes. Least of all, them.
Sorry, but there was no way I could post this without using the original cover art by Larry Elmore. . . =)
Here's the cover art for C. S. Friedman's upcoming novel, Dreamwalker, which is scheduled for release in February 2014. And a little bird told me that it's supposed to be one of the author's strongest books to date. . . =) For more info about this title: Canada, USA.
Here's the blurb (not final):
Jessica Drake is a somewhat normal 16 year old girl, although she has really strange dreams sometimes. when a paternity test unexpectedly casts doubt upon her parentage, strange facts begin to surface, and even stranger people start taking an interest her. One night her house is burned down in an obvious attempt to kill her, and her younger brother is kidnapped. Searching for him will require leaving this world altogether, and confronting the source of some of earth's darkest legends...as well as the terrifying truth of her own heritage.
Doctor Sleep, sequel to Stephen King's classic The Shining, will be released this fall and there is a new book trailer to help promote the novel. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.
Here's the blurb:
Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of The Shining) and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals. On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death. Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.” Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.
"Sleeping Beauty" is a brand new short story by Mark Lawrence. This from the author:
Because I love you, and all that stuff, I've written a Jorg-based short story and you can read it on the Voyager site totally free, for nothing, without charge. It's really a bit of fun, prompted by a challenge from one Ron C. Nieto (@RonCNieto) to warp the tale of Sleeping Beauty around that of young Jorg Ancrath. I may have thrown another fairy tale or two into the mix... The story can be fitted in between the two threads in Emperor of Thorns (or indeed King of Thorns)... if you like.
You can now download Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper's Building Harlequin's Moon for only 2.99$ here.
Here's the blurb:
The first interstellar starship, John Glenn, fled a Solar System populated by rogue AIs and machine/human hybrids, threatened by too much nanotechnology, and rife with political dangers. The John Glenn's crew intended to terraform the nearly pristine planet Ymir, in hopes of creating a utopian society that would limit intelligent technology. But by some miscalculation they have landed in another solar system and must shape the gas giant planet Harlequin's moon, Selene, into a new, temporary home. Their only hope of ever reaching Ymir is to rebuild their store of antimatter by terraforming the moon. Gabriel, the head terraformer, must lead this nearly impossible task, with all the wrong materials: the wrong ships and tools, and too few resources. His primary tools are the uneducated and nearly-illiterate children of the original colonists, born and bred to build Harlequin's moon into an antimatter factory. Rachel Vanowen is one of these children. Basically a slave girl, she must do whatever the terraforming Council tells her. She knows that Council monitors her actions from a circling vessel above Selene's atmosphere, and is responsible for everything Rachel and her people know, as well as all the skills, food, and knowledge they have ever received. With no concept of the future and a life defined with duty, how will the children of Selene ever survive once the Council is through terraforming and have abandoned Selene for its ultimate goal of Ymir? At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
As you know, I've been having problems with the Hotlist's template for the last couple of days. It's been 3 days, and I still haven't heard back from this Blogger template provider which powers the Hotlist. And now, the entire layout has gone down the crapper.
Which means that I'll have to look around and experiment with various new templates and layouts. So I kindly ask you to please bear with me during this process. God knows I don't have time to fuck around with stuff like this, but it looks as though I have no choice. . .
A lot has been said regarding Shawn Speakman's SFF anthology Unfettered and the book is now available in digital format! Indeed, you can download it here for 9.99$.
Here's the blurb:
You define life or it defines you. In Shawn Speakman’s case, it was both. Lacking health insurance and diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011, Shawn quickly accrued a massive medical debt that he did not have the ability to pay. That’s when New York Times best-selling author Terry Brooks offered to donate a short story that Shawn could sell tohelp alleviate those bills—and suggested he ask the same of his other writer friends. Unfettered is the result: an anthology built in order to relieve that debt, featuring short stories by some of the best fantasy writers in the genre. Twenty-three tales comprise this incredible collection, and as the title suggests, the writers were free to contribute whatever they wished. Here is the table of contents: - Foreword by Patrick Rothfuss - Introduction: On Becoming Unfettered - Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks - How Old Holly Came To Be by Patrick Rothfuss - The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams - Game of Chance by Carrie Vaughn - The Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey - Mudboy by Peter V. Brett - The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian - The Coach with Big Teeth by R.A. Salvatore - Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood - Heaven in a Wild Flower by Blake Charlton - Dogs by Daniel Abraham - The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne - Select Mode by Mark Lawrence - All the Girls Love Michael Stein by David Anthony Durham - Strange Rain by Jennifer Bosworth - Nocturne by Robert V.S. Redick - Unbowed by Eldon Thompson - In Favour with Their Stars by Naomi Novik - River of Souls by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson - The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan - The Duel by Lev Grossman - Walker and the Shade of Allanon by Terry Brooks - The Unfettered Knight by Shawn Speakman With the help of stalwart friends and these wonderful short stories, Shawn has taken the gravest of life’s hardships and created something magical. Unfettered is not only a fantastic anthology in its own right, but it’s a testament to the generosity found in the science fiction and fantasy community—proof that humanity can give beyond itself when the need arises. After all, isn’t that the driving narrative in fantasy literature?
Haven't received my copy yet, but I'm looking forward to reading it!! =)
The summer 2013 edition of Subterranean Magazine is now available and it's a special K. J. Parker issue. This newest edition also contains pieces by Kat Howard, Catherynne M. Valente, and Joe R. Lansdale.
Thanks to the folks at Blue Rider Press, here's an extract from Jon Steele's Angel City. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.
Here's the blurb:
It 's been almost three years since we left Detective Jay Harper and high-priced escort Katherine Taylor on the esplanade of Lausanne Cathedral, bruised and battered from a biblical showdown with the Nephilim. Katherine has retreated to small-town life in the woods of Washington State with her son, Max and a close protection detail of heavily-armed, elite members of the Swiss Guard. Harper is living in Paris, haunted by voices in his head and bone-tired after what turns out to be two and a half million years on Earth. Though Katherine and Harper have been prevented from remembering each other , baby Max has unwittingly stirred the interest of vengeful spirits and only a worldwide (and cosmic) effort to save his life will bring Harper and Katherine together again. Meanwhile, from the shadows steps a defrocked priest named Astruc, whose face looks as if it has been clawed by some terrible beast and who hides his eyes behind blue lenses. He and his brilliant young ward, Goose, have discovered something unfathomable in the Catacombs under Paris, something that will confirm that the time of the prophecy is at hand. . . Electrifying from its explosive first scene to its unexpected and shocking conclusion, Angel City reunites the unforgettable characters from The Watchers to reveal more of the earthly and otherworldy mysteries of the Angelus trilogy.
Monsieur Dufaux worked the tables in Café du Grütli, chatting with his customers. He checked table six at the windows. The fellow sitting there had finished his dinner, pushed his plate aside, and was now leaning over the front page of 24 Heures. Dufaux walked over, picked up the fellow’s plate and cutlery, and saw the empty glass on the table.
“Voulez-vous une autre carafe?”
“Just a glass, s’il vous plaît.”
“Put it on the inspector’s tab.” Monsieur Dufaux picked up the carafe.
“And perhaps one day the inspector will grace me with a visit to pay this tab? I mean, yes, you only come in a few nights a week, but after a couple of years, a tab adds up. It’s now longer than the Book of Numbers.”
Harper flipped over the newspaper. “Sorry?”
“Inspector Gobet’s tab and the Book of Numbers. From the Bible. They both go on and on.”
Harper thought about it.
“Let me know when it’s as long as the Book of Psalms.”
“One hundred fifty chapters. Longest book of the Bible.” Dufaux scratched his chin.
“Pas mal. I must remember that one. I’ll bring you a fresh glass, on the house. I’ll join you, too.”
Harper watched Monsieur Dufaux make his way through the tables, the man’s shoulders bouncing with chuckles. Harper made a mental note: Crack a joke in this joint, get a free glass. He turned his eyes to the windows. Outside, evening had given way to the dark. He focused on the pools of light beneath the streetlamps along Rue Mercerie. Unbe- knownst to the locals, the streetlamps in the protected zone had been fitted with Arc 9 filters. Part of Inspector Gobet’s plan to beef up secu- rity around Lausanne Cathedral. The filters slowed the speed of artifi- cial light by fifty thousand microns per second. Didn’t matter to the locals, but with Arc 9s, Harper’s kind could detect minute spikes of black body radiation in the light. Or so went the theory. He flashed the light mechanic from Berne, six months ago, positively giddy explaining how the filters worked.
“You see, when applied to sodium vapor lamps in areas sealed with a level four time warp, such as the protected zone, Arc 9s will allow you to see around corners and back over your shoulder at the same time. We’re very excited about it.”
“You don’t say.”
The filters still had some kinks, the mechanic chattered on. Some- thing about certain meteorological conditions interacting with negative resistance ions.
“As a result, a spike in black body radiation could be either a mortal threat moving through nearby shadows or a cat falling at terminal velocity.”
Harper stared at the mechanic.
“A cat. Falling at terminal velocity.”
“Cats, yes,” the mechanic replied. “You see, cats reach terminal veloc- ity at one hundred kilometers per hour. That’s a speed they reach when falling at a distance greater than one hundred feet. The Felis catus, or common domesticated cat as it’s known, then has the ability to stabilize and spread its legs, forming itself into something of a parachute. Fascinating stuff. Did you know a cat has a better chance of surviving a fall from forty floors than four?”
Harper considered the mechanic’s enthusiasm regarding the topic. “Mate, are you telling me you’ve been tossing cats from windows to
test your bloody lamp filters?”
The mechanic appeared pained.
“Why, no. It’s only based on computer simulations. Goodness, I love my cats. I have two of them. Would you like to see their pictures?”
Harper blinked and turned from the window. He saw Monsieur Du- faux setting two fresh glasses and a carafe of white on the table. Dufaux sat across from Harper and poured.
They touched glasses and sipped.
“So how have you been?” Dufaux said. “You haven’t been in the café for, what, a week or two?”
Harper thought about it. He couldn’t quite see his timeline. Mission debrief always included a memory scrub. Delete this, trim that. Made a jumble of things for a few days. He flashed the medics in the white coats at the Vevey infirmary. They checked, they scanned, they didn’t like what they’d found. They strapped him to a stretcher, shoved him into a regenerative stasis tank for days. Today was only Harper’s second day out.
“Had a bit of a holiday,” Harper said.
“Holiday. Good, very good. Need one myself. So, what’s happening in our crazy world?” Monsieur Dufaux said, turning over the newspaper and looking at the front page. “What on earth?”
Oddly enough, that was Harper’s reaction on seeing it, too. A grainy, backlit, and shadowy image of a winged form falling through the fog at Pont des Arts, side by side with a four-hundred-year-old painting of Saint Michael the Archangel. The headline above the pictures read: “Was This the Angel Who Fell from the Sky to Save Paris?”
“Good Lord,” Dufaux said. “Can you believe this?”
“Not sure what it’s all about. Haven’t been following the news of late.”
Dufaux took a sip from his glass.
“Well,” he said. “Let me tell you what you missed while on vacation.” Seems while Harper was in the tank, the world’s newspapers went heavy on Paris. The usual hard news up front: pictures of the Manon’s wreckage, backstories about the dead and survivors. And, of course, the one picture of the man who fell from the sky at Pont des Arts. The French government’s line was that a foreign power had conducted an illegal counterstrike against Muqatileen Lillah on sovereign French soil. After rounds of finger-pointing at London and Washington, D.C., with no joy, the French government then pointed to the Israeli Mossad. The French president referred to the Mossad’s scorecard in assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists on Tehran’s streets in broad daylight as a case in point. The Israeli government wouldn’t comment, but seemed perfectly happy for the world to think, Of course Israel did it. Israel is very good at this sort of thing. Don’t fuck with Israel.
In answer to press queries regarding the type of WMD captured in the attack, the government would only reply, “We cannot comment at this time for reasons of national security.” The French press began to sniff out that the government was hiding something. Then came a scan- dal of lip-smacking proportions when it was learned the chief suspect in the counterstrike—the man falling from the sky at Pont des Arts—had escaped from La Santé Prison two days after being arrested. The French press went mad.
“Où Sont les Responsables?!” the headlines read.
The press went from mad to crazed when the head of the French police held a press conference to announce he’d issued an arrest warrant for a man no one could describe with any accuracy, and that “the sus- pect’s mug shots, fingerprints, and other relevant details have gone missing.” In an attempt to get a detailed description of the culprit, the twenty-one survivors from the Manon were reinterviewed by police sketch artists. None of the survivors could remember the man clearly.
“A normal reaction to a terrible shock,” the top cop said.
And with that, political commentators had a field day guessing the counterstrike was actually the work of France’s own Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, who—in their greatest screwup since the 1985 Rainbow Warrior incident—had not bothered to inform the French po- lice of the operation. After all, the press concluded, who but the DGSE could arrange “an escape” from La Santé Prison? Then came the front page of Le Monde, suggesting that since the “unknown man who fell from the sky” had, in fact, saved Paris, the French president was duty- bound to identify the man and present him with the Legion of Honor. But with only nine dead in the attack, the press quickly lost interest and the world’s headlines returned to a civil war in Syria, where pictures of slaughter were plentiful. By the end of the week, the attack in Paris had moved to page three. The final “all is well” story came in a fluff piece about Parisians returning to their beloved cafés for aperitifs and conver- sation. The man who fell from the sky was forgotten. Monsieur Dufaux paused for breath and took a sip of wine. He pointed to the front page of today’s paper.
“And now comes this nonsense.”
Enter one Mr. Geoffroy de Villehardouin, blogger and amateur art historian from Dijon (where the mustard comes from, the Daily Mail was happy to mention). Mr. de Villehardouin recognized the similarity between the blurry image of the man falling from the sky and Guido Reni’s seventeenth-century painting of Saint Michael the Archangel. Mr. de Villehardouin wrote:
“Of course, one must admit the ‘wings’ I have highlighted in the pho- tograph are, surely, no more than the tails of the man’s coat flaring up- ward as he fell. Still, overall, the similarity to Reni’s image is more than remarkable.”
Mr. de Villehardouin then posted the images side by side on his blog (a space usually reserved for discussions of religious architecture in the Medici era) and wham. The blog became an overnight sensation, with more than fifteen million hits. And today, the side-by-side images were making the rounds of the world’s newspapers. Monsieur Dufaux pushed the paper aside with amusement.
“First he’s a Jewish James Bond, then he’s a beloved hero of France, now he’s Saint Michael reborn. Oh, I tell you, people do see what they need to see.”
Harper pulled the newspaper from the table, dropped it facedown on the empty chair next to him. He jumped on the man’s last words, happy to change the subject.
“What do you mean?” Monsieur Dufaux laughed.
“Three years ago, I had a tour group from Mexico in the café; they came for fondue. I gave them a few lessons. You know, here’s the fondue fork and here’s how you spear the bread, so on and so forth. They were soon dipping their bits of bread in the pots and sopping up the cheese, having a real fiesta. I left them to it and went back to my kitchen. Not ten minutes later I hear a shriek from the dining room. I run back and see the lot of them on their knees, praying to my fondue pot.”
“They were praying. To my fondue pot.”
Monsieur Dufaux paused for effect, took a sip of wine. No doubt he’d told the story a hundred times, Harper thought. No doubt it got better each time in the telling.
“So . . . what happened was one of them saw the face of the Virgin Mary in the crusted cheese at the bottom of the pot. My God, they were besides themselves, waving rosaries and singing ‘Ave Maria.’” They of- fered me a thousand Swiss francs for the fondue pot, on the spot.”
“What did you do?”
“What could I do? I gave it to them. For free.”
Monsieur Dufaux pronounced the F word in a manner that suggested it wounded him deeply.
You can now download Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn: The Final Empire for only 2.99$ here.
Here's the blurb:
Brandon Sanderson, fantasy’s newest master tale spinner, author of the acclaimed debut Elantris, dares to turn a genre on its head by asking a simple question: What if the hero of prophecy fails? What kind of world results when the Dark Lord is in charge? The answer will be found in the Mistborn Trilogy, a saga of surprises and magical martial-arts action that begins in Mistborn. For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark. Kelsier recruited the underworld’s elite, the smartest and most trustworthy allomancers, each of whom shares one of his many powers, and all of whom relish a high-stakes challenge. Only then does he reveal his ultimate dream, not just the greatest heist in history, but the downfall of the divine despot. But even with the best criminal crew ever assembled, Kel’s plan looks more like the ultimate long shot, until luck brings a ragged girl named Vin into his life. Like him, she’s a half-Skaa orphan, but she’s lived a much harsher life. Vin has learned to expect betrayal from everyone she meets, and gotten it. She will have to learn to trust, if Kel is to help her master powers of which she never dreamed. Readers of Elantris thought they'd discovered someone special in Brandon Sanderson. Mistborn proves they were right.
The Subterranean Press limited editions are always quality works aimed at demanding fans and collectors. And it appears that the upcoming limited edition of Steven Erikson's incredible Memories of Ice will be no different!
Check out this awesome K'Chain Che'Malle artwork by J. K. Drummond!
Authors Scott Lynch Matthew Stover discuss their latest works in this back-and-forth interview. Here's an excerpt:
Despite the first Gentlemen Bastards novel being titled The Lies of Locke Lamora, it seems to me that Locke and Jean are dual protagonists, true partners rather than hero and sidekick. While this is not unusual in other genres (especially police procedurals, for example), in ours they’re pretty thin on the ground. The only truly legendary fantasy dual-protags that spring instantly to mind are Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser, and they are explicitly portrayed as linked by mythic destiny (“Two halves of a greater hero.”) Locke and Jean, by contrast, are bound by human friendship and deep loyalty – more Butch & Sundance than F&GM. So I’d like to get your thoughts on what inspired their relationship, and why you chose to write them this way. Were they always to be dual protags? Did Jean start as a sidekick and grow in the writing? Is there something about their friendship that has Super Story Powers?
You’re making me peer back through the hazy mists of memory, man. But the honest truth is that Jean was decidedly a less fleshed-out character, initially, very much vanishing into the ensemble. His role grew in the telling, until I realized that he wasn’t just a foil for Locke but the essential foil. I grasped the benefit of having a sort of external conscience for him, another intimate perspective on Locke that would enable me to sort of hover nearby without peeling back too many layers of his mentation. For all that he’s the protagonist, we don’t spend too much time with unfettered omniscient access to Locke’s thoughts in that first novel; I wanted to express his feelings more through his actions and the responses of those around him than by writing something like, “Locke was sad now.” You can use a matched pair of major characters to hurdle some inelegant narrative devices. They can narrate to one another through conversation in a way that would be sheer infodump if we were in one of their heads, for example. You can use their dialogue to reason through chains of events and lampshade potential problems without halting the action. Last but not least, I think there’s a certain dynamism to their pairing that comes from the fact that it’s a humanistic relationship. There’s no magic, no destiny, no prophecy binding them. They’re in the same boat we all are in real life. We get by with a little help from our friends.
Ian Tregillis discusses how the excellent Necessary Evil (Canada, USA, Europe) came to be.
Here's an excerpt:
The first seed for what eventually became the Milkweed books was planted in my imagination when I read about a truly bizarre piece of World War II trivia called Project Habakkuk. It was born during the darkest days of the Battle of the Atlantic when German wolf packs were wreaking havoc on British shipping. The Admiralty, perhaps somewhat desperately, contemplated building ships from ice. Alas, the project never made it past the prototype stage. But in my imagination I saw vast bergships plying the North Atlantic. And I wondered just how the Axis might have responded if Habakkuk had been successful. The answer came to me in a flash: "Obviously, Ian, the Third Reich would have sent a pyrokinetic spy to sabotage the icy shipyards." And in that moment I saw the spy, and his world, and the program that created him. I played with this fictional setting, and populated it with jaded British magicians and superpowered German agents. Including a woman named Gretel.
If you've been a fan of the Hotlist since the beginning, you are aware that I thoroughly enjoyed Joel Shepherd's original Cassandra Kresnov series. I wasn't aware that the author was planning to write additional books, so you can imagine my surprise when the ARC for 23 Years on Fire (Canada, USA, Europe) showed up in my mailbox today! Really looking forward to reading this one!! =)
Here's the blurb:
Commander Cassandra Kresnov has her hands full. She must lead an assault against the Federation world of Pyeongwha, where a terrible sociological phenomenon has unleashed hell against the civilian population. Then she faces the threat from a portion of League space known as New Torah, in which a ruthless regime of surviving corporations are building new synthetic soldiers but taking the technology in alarming directions. On the Torahn world of Pantala, Sandy encounters betrayal, crisis, and conspiracy on a scale previously unimaginable. Most challenging of all, she also meets three young street kids who stir emotions in her she didn't think she was capable of. Can the Federation's most lethal killer afford unexpected sentiment? What will be the cost if she is forced to choose between them and her mission, not only to her cause, but to her soul?
I reckon that many of you have never heard of Shepherd or this series published by Pyr on this side of the pond. Well, you should definitely check it out!
Crossover is the first novel in a series which follows the adventures of Cassandra Kresnov, an artificial person, or android, created by the League, one side of an interstellar war against the more powerful, conservative Federation. Cassandra is an experimental design — more intelligent, more creative, and far more dangerous than any that have preceded her. But with her intellect come questions, and a moral awakening. She deserts the League and heads incognito into the space of her former enemy, the Federation, in search of a new life.
Her chosen world is Callay, and its enormous, decadent capital metropolis of Tanusha, where the concerns of the war are literally and figuratively so many light years away. But the war between the League and the Federation was ideological as much as political, with much of that ideological dispute regarding the very existence of artificial sentience and the rules that govern its creation. Cassandra discovers that even in Tanusha, the powerful entities of this bloody conflict have wound their tentacles. Many in the League and the Federation have cause to want her dead, and Cassandra’s history, inevitably, catches up with her.
Cassandra finds herself at the mercy of a society whose values preclude her own right even to exist. But her presence in Tanusha reveals other fault lines, and when Federal agents attempt to assassinate the Callayan president, she finds herself thrust into the service of her former enemies, using her lethal skills to attempt to protect her former enemies from forces beyond their ability to control. As she struggles for her place and survival in a new world, Cassandra must forge new friendships with old enemies, while attempting to confront the most disturbing and deadly realities of her own existence.
Thanks to the folks at Ace, here's an excerpt from Mark Lawrence's soon-to-be-released Emperor of Thorns. For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.
Here's the blurb:
To reach the throne requires that a man journey. Even a path paved with good intentions can lead to hell, and my intentions were never good.
The Hundred converge for Congression to politic upon the corpse of Empire, and while they talk the Dead King makes his move, and I make mine. The world is cracked, time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days, the future so bright that those who see it are the first to burn. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne whoever seeks to thwart me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.
This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don't look to me to save you. Don't think I will not spend you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don't follow me.
Follow me, and I will break your heart.
I failed my brother. I hung in the thorns and let him die and the world has been wrong since that night. I failed him, and though I’ve let many brothers die since, that first pain has not diminished. The best part of me still hangs there, on those thorns. Life can tear away what’s vital to a man, hook it from him, one scrap at a time, leaving him empty-handed and beggared by the years. Every man has his thorns, not of him, but in him, deep as bones. The scars of the briar mark me, a calligraphy of violence, a message blood-writ, requiring a lifetime to translate.
The Gilden Guard always arrive on my birthday. They came for me when I turned sixteen, they came to my father and to my uncle the day I reached twelve. I rode with the Brothers at that time and we saw the guard troop headed for Ancrath along the Great West Road. When I turned eight I saw them first hand, clattering through the gates of the Tall Castle on their white stallions. Will and I had watched in awe.
Today I watched them with Miana at my side. Queen Miana. They came clattering through a different set of gates into a different castle, but the effect was much the same, a golden tide. I wondered if the Haunt would hold them all.
‘Captain Harran!’ I called down. ‘Good of you to come. Will you have an ale?’ I waved toward the trestle tables set out before him. I’d had our thrones brought onto the balcony so we could watch the arrival.
Harran swung himself from the saddle, dazzling in his fire-gilt steel. Behind him guardsmen continued to pour into the courtyard. Hundreds of them. Seven troops of fifty to be exact. One troop for each of my lands. When they had come four years before, I warranted just a single troop, but Harran had been leading it then as now.
‘My thanks, King Jorg,’ he called up. ‘But we must ride before noon. The roads to Vyene are worse than expected. We will be hard pushed to reach the Gate by Congression.’
‘Surely you won’t rush a king from his birthday celebrations just for Congression?’ I sipped my ale and held the goblet aloft. ‘I claim my twentieth year today, you know.’
Harran made an apologetic shrug and turned to review his troops. More than two hundred were already crowded in. I would be impressed if he managed to file the whole contingent of three hundred and fifty into the Haunt. Even after extension during the reconstruction, the front courtyard wasn’t what one would call capacious.
I leaned toward Miana and placed a hand on her fat belly. ‘He’s worried if I don’t go there might be another hung vote.’
She smiled at that. The last vote that was even close to a decision had been at the second Congression – the thirty-third wasn’t likely to be any nearer to setting an emperor on the throne than the previous thirty.
Makin came through the gates at the rear of the guard column with a dozen or so of my knights, having escorted Harran through the Highlands. A purely symbolic escort since none in their right mind, and few even in their wrong mind, would get in the way of a Gilden Guard troop, let alone seven massed together.
‘So Miana, you can see why I have to leave you, even if my son is about to fight his way out into the world.’ I felt him kick under my hand. Miana shifted in her throne. ‘I can’t really say no to seven troops.’
‘One of those troops is for Lord Kennick, you know,’ she said.
‘Who?’ I asked it only to tease her.
‘Sometimes I think you regret turning Makin into my lord of Kennick.’ She gave me that quick scowl of hers.
‘I think he regrets it too. He can’t have spent more than a month there in the last two years. He’s had the good furniture from the Baron’s Hall moved to his rooms here.’
We fell silent, watching the guard marshal their numbers within the tight confines of the courtyard. Their discipline put all other troops to shame. Even Grandfather’s Horse Coast cavalry looked a rabble next to the Gilden Guard. I had once marvelled at the quality of Orrin of Arrow’s travel guard, but these men stood a class apart. Not one of the hundreds didn’t gleam in the sun, the gilt on their armour showing no sign of dirt or wear. The last emperor had deep pockets and his personal guard continued to dip into them close on two centuries after his death.
‘I should go down.’ I made to get up, but didn’t. I liked the comfort. Three weeks’ hard riding held little appeal.
‘You should.’ Miana chewed on a pepper. Her tastes had veered from one extreme to another in past months. Of late she’d returned to the scalding flavours of her homeland on the Horse Coast. It made her kisses quite an adventure. ‘I should give you your present first though.’
I raised a brow at that and tapped her belly. ‘He’s cooked and ready?’
Miana flicked my hand away and waved to a servant in the shadows of the hall. At times she still looked like the child who’d arrived to find the Haunt all but encircled, all but doomed. At a month shy of fifteen the most petite of serving girls still dwarfed her, but at least pregnancy had added some curves, filled her chest out, put some colour in her cheeks.
Hamlar came out with something under a silk cloth, long and thin, but not long enough for a sword. He offered it to me with a slight bow. He’d served my uncle for twenty years but had never shown me a sour glance since I put an end to his old employment. I twitched the cloth away.
‘A stick? My dear, you shouldn’t have.’ I pursed my lips at it. A nice enough stick it had to be said. I didn’t recognize the wood.
Hamlar set the stick on the table between the thrones and departed.
‘It’s a rod,’ Miana said. ‘Lignum Vitae, hard, and heavy enough to sink in water.’
‘A stick that could drown me...’
She waved again and Hamlar returned with a large tome from my library held before him, opened to a page marked with an ivory spacer.
‘It says there that the Lord of Orlanth won the hereditary right to bear his rod of office at the Congressional.’ She set a finger to the appropriate passage.
I picked the rod up with renewed interest. It felt like an iron bar in my hand. As King of the Highlands, Arrow, Belpan, Conaught, Normardy, and Orlanth, not to mention overlord of Kennick, it seemed that I now held royal charter to carry a wooden stick where all others must walk unarmed. And thanks to my pixie-faced, rosy-cheeked little queen, my stick would be an iron-wood rod that could brain a man in a pot-helm.
‘Thank you,’ I said. I’ve never been one for affection or sentiment, but I liked to think we understood each other well enough for her to know when something pleased me.
I gave the rod an experimental swish and found myself sufficient inspiration to leave my throne. ‘I’ll look in on Coddin on the way down.’
Coddin’s nurses had anticipated me. The door to his chambers stood open, the window shutters wide, musk sticks lit. Even so the stench of his wound hung in the air. Soon it would be two years since the arrow struck him and still the wound festered and gaped beneath the physician’s dressings.
‘Jorg.’ He waved to me from his bed, made up by the window and raised so he too could see the guard arrive.
‘Coddin.’ The old sense of unfocused guilt folded around me.
‘Did you say goodbye to her?’
‘Miana? Of course. Well...’
‘She’s going to have your child, Jorg. Alone. Whilst you’re off riding.’
‘She’ll hardly be alone. She has no end of maids and ladies-in-waiting. Damned if I know their names or recognize half of them. Seems to be a new one every day.’
‘You played your part in this, Jorg. She will know you’re absent when the time comes and it will be harder on her. You should at least make a proper goodbye.’
Only Coddin could lecture me so.
‘I said . . . thank you.’ I twirled my new stick into view. ‘A present.’
‘When you’re done here go back up. Say the right things.’
I gave the nod that means perhaps. It seemed to be enough for him.
‘I never tire of watching those boys at horse,’ he said, glancing once more at the gleaming ranks below.
‘Practice makes perfect. They’d do better to practise war though. Being able to back a horse into a tight corner makes a pretty show but―’
‘So enjoy the show!’ He shook his head, tried to hide a grimace, then looked at me. ‘What can I do for you, my king?’
‘As always,’ I said. ‘Advice.’
‘You hardly need it. I’ve never even seen Vyene, not been even close. I haven’t got anything that will help you in the Holy City. Sharp wits and all that book learning should serve you well enough. You survived the last Congression, didn’t you?’
I let that memory tug a bleak smile from me. ‘I’ve got some measure of cleverness perhaps, old man, but what I need from you is wisdom. I know you’ve had my library brought through this chamber one book at a time. The men bring you tales and rumour from all corners. Where do my interests lie in Vyene? Where shall I drop my seven votes?’
I stepped closer, across the bare stones. Coddin was ever the soldier: no rugs or rushes for him even as an invalid.
‘You don’t want to hear my wisdom, Jorg. If that’s what it is.’ Coddin turned to the window again, the sun catching his age, and the lines that pain had etched into him.
‘I had hoped you’d changed your mind,’ I said. There are hard paths and there are the hardest paths.
The stench of his wound came stronger now I stood close. Corruption is nibbling at our heels from the hour we’re born. The stink of rot just reminds us where our feet are leading us, whichever direction they point in.
‘Vote with your father. Be at peace with him.’
Good medicines often taste foul, but some pills are too bitter to swallow.’ I paused to take the anger from my voice. ‘It’s been nearly more than I can do not to march my armies into Ancrath and lay waste. If it’s a struggle to keep from open war . . . how can there be peace?’
‘You two are alike. Your father perhaps a touch colder, more stern and with less ambition, but you fell from the same tree and similar evils forged you.’
Only Coddin could tell me I was my father’s son and live. Only a man who had already died in my employ and lay rotting in my service still, out of duty, only such a man could speak that truth.
‘I don’t need him,’ I said.
‘Didn’t this ghost of yours, this Builder, tell you two Ancraths together would end the power of the hidden hands? Think, Jorg! Sageous set your uncle against you. Sageous wanted you and your brother in the ground. And failing that he drove a wedge between father and son. And what would end the power of Sageous, the Silent Sister, Skilfar, and all their ilk? Peace! An emperor on the throne. A single voice of command. Two Ancraths! You think your father has been idle all this time, the years that grew you, and the years before? He may not have your arching ambition, but he is not without his own measure. King Olidan has influence in many courts. I won’t say he has friends, but he commands loyalty, respect, and fear in equal measures. Olidan knows secrets.’
‘I know secrets.’ Many I did not wish to know.
‘The Hundred will not follow the son whilst the father stands before them.’
‘Then I should destroy him.’
‘Your father took that path – it made you stronger.’
‘He faltered at the last.’ I looked at my hand, remembering how I had lifted it from my chest, dripping crimson. My blood, father’s knife. ‘He faltered. I will not.’
If it had been the dream-witch who drove a wedge between us then he had done his job well. It wasn’t in me to forgive my father. I doubted it was in him to accept such forgiveness.
‘The hidden hands might think two Ancraths will end their power. Me, I think one is enough. It was enough for Corion. Enough for Sageous. I will be enough for all of them if they seek to stop me. In any event, you know in what high esteem I hold prophecy.’
Coddin sighed. ‘Harran is waiting for you. You have my advice. Carry it with you. It won’t slow you down.’
The captains of my armies, nobles from the Highlands, a dozen lords on petitioning visits from various corners of the seven kingdoms, and scores of hangers-on all waited for me in the entrance hall before the keep doors. The time when I could just slip away had . . . just slipped away. I acknowledged the throng with a raised hand.
‘My lords, warriors of my house, I’m off to Congression. Be assured I will carry your interests there along with my own and present them with my usual blend of tact and diplomacy.’
That raised a chuckle. I’d bled a lot of men dry to take my little corner of empire so I felt I should play out the game for my court, as long as it cost me nothing. And besides, their interests lay with mine, so I hardly lied.
I singled Captain Marten out amongst the crowd, tall and weathered, nothing of the farmer left in him. I gave no rank higher than captain but the man had led five thousand soldiers and more in my name.
‘Keep her safe, Marten. Keep them both safe.’ I put a hand to his shoulder. Nothing else needed to be said.
I came into the courtyard flanked by two knights of my table, Sir Kent and Sir Riccard. The spring breeze couldn’t carry the aroma of horse sweat away fast enough, and the herd of more than three hundred appeared to be doing their best to leave the place knee-deep in manure. I find that massed cavalry are always best viewed from a certain distance.
Makin eased his horse through the ranks to reach us. ‘Many happy returns, King Jorg!’
‘We’ll see,’ I said. It all felt a little too comfortable. Happy families with my tiny queen above. Birthday greetings and a golden escort down below. Too much soft living and peace can choke a man sure as any rope.
Makin raised an eyebrow but said nothing, his smile still in place.
‘Your advisors are ready to ride, sire.’ Kent had taken to calling me sire and seemed happier that way.
‘You should be taking wise heads not men-at-arms,’ Makin said.
‘And who might you be bringing, Lord Makin?’ I had decided to let him select the single advisor his vote entitled him to bring to Congression.
He pointed across the yard to a scrawny old man, pinch-faced, a red cloak lifting around him as the wind swirled. ‘Osser Gant. Chamberlain to the late Baron of Kennick. When I’m asked what my vote will cost, Osser’s the man who will know what is and what isn’t of worth to Kennick.’
I had to smile at that. He might pretend it wasn’t so, but part of old Makin wanted to play out his new role as one of the Hundred in grand style. Whether he would model his rule on my father’s or that of the Prince of Arrow remained unclear.
‘There’s not much of Kennick that ain’t marsh, and what the Ken Marshes need is timber. Stilts, so your muddy peasants’ houses don’t sink overnight. And you get that from me now. So don’t let your man forget it.’
Makin coughed as if some of that marsh had got into his chest. ‘So who exactly are you taking as advisors?’
It hadn’t been a difficult choice. Coddin’s final trip came when they carried him down from the mountain after the battle for the Haunt. He wouldn’t travel again. I had grey heads aplenty at court, but none whose contents I valued. ‘You’re looking at two of them.’ I nodded to Sirs Kent and Riccard. ‘Rike and Grumlow are waiting outside, Keppen and Gorgoth with them.’
‘Christ, Jorg! You can’t bring Rike! This is the emperor’s court we’re talking about! And Gorgoth? He doesn’t even like you.’
I drew my sword, a smooth glittering motion, and hundreds of golden helms turned to follow its arc. I held the blade high, turning it this way and that to catch the sun. ‘I’ve been to Congression before, Makin. I know what games they play there. This year we’re going to play a new game. Mine. And I’m bringing the right pieces.’
Thanks to the folks at Pan Macmillan, I have a copy of Seth Patrick's Reviver up for grabs! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.
Here's the blurb:
Reviver is an action-packed supernatural thriller from debut author Seth Patrick, that is perfect for all fans of Justin Cronin, Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Death won't silence them. Revivers. Able to wake the recently dead, and let them bear witness to their own demise. Twelve years after the first reviver came to light, they have become accepted by an uneasy public. The testimony of the dead is permitted in courtrooms across the world. Forensic revival is a routine part of police investigation. In the United States, that responsibility falls to the Forensic Revival Service. Despite his troubled past, Jonah Miller is one of their best. But while reviving the victim of a brutal murder, he encounters a terrifying presence. Something is watching. Waiting. His superiors tell him it was only in his mind, a product of stress. Jonah is not so certain. Then Daniel Harker, the first journalist to bring revival to public attention, is murdered, and Jonah finds himself getting dragged into the hunt for answers. Working with Harker's daughter Annabel, he's determined to find those responsible and bring them to justice. Soon they uncover long-hidden truths that call into doubt everything Jonah stands for, and reveal a threat that if not stopped in time, will put all of humanity in danger . . .
All five volumes of Paul Kearney's The Monarchies of God are available at discounted prices that range from 3.79$ to 3.99$. Though it might be good if you want to sample the first volume, it is actually cheaper to go for the two omnibus editions if you want to purchase the entire series.
THE WESTERN WORLD IS BURNING... Even as cities and cathedrals are tumbling, their defenders crucified by the invading Merduks, the Faithful war among themselves, purging heretics and magical folk and adding to the flames.
For Richard Hawkwood and his crew, a desperate venture to carry refugees to the uncharted land across the Great Western Ocean offers the only chance of escape from the Inceptines' pyres. The King's cousin, Lord Murad, has an ancient log book telling of a free, unspoiled land...
I have an autographed copy of M. L. Brennan's urban fantasy debut, Generation V, up for grabs, compliments of the author! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.
Here's the blurb:
Reality Bites. Fortitude Scott’s life is a mess. A degree in film theory has left him with zero marketable skills, his job revolves around pouring coffee, his roommate hasn’t paid rent in four months, and he’s also a vampire. Well, sort of. He’s still mostly human. But when a new vampire comes into his family’s territory and young girls start going missing, Fort can’t ignore his heritage anymore. His mother and his older, stronger siblings think he’s crazy for wanting to get involved. So it’s up to Fort to take action, with the assistance of Suzume Hollis, a dangerous and sexy shape-shifter. Fort is determined to find a way to outsmart the deadly vamp, even if he isn’t quite sure how. But without having matured into full vampirehood and with Suzume ready to split if things get too risky, Fort’s rescue mission might just kill him...
Okay, I’ve wanted to write about this for a while now, but I’ve just been too busy. Ready? Name of the Wind Playing Cards. Okay. Hopefully I have your attention. A while back, I fell in love with the work of Shane Tyree when he was doing a kickstarter for a deck of Cthulhu playing cards. I boosted their signal on facebook, they donated to Worldbuilders, and we bought some cards to sell in the Tinker’s Packs. It was the start of a beautiful friendship. Later, I was delighted to find out that Shane had read my books. More than that, he was a big soppy geek for my books. Which was a happy coincidence, as I was a big soppy geek for his art. So we decided to join forces, forming a giant robot that fights crime. In our off time, we thought we’d make a deck of playing cards based on The Name of the Wind.
Follow the aforementioned link to read the rest of the story. . . =)
Or you can click here to be taken directly to Rothfuss' Kickstarter page!
Maurice Druon's The Iron King, which was an inspiration for George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, is available in digital format for only 1.99$ here.
Here's the blurb:
‘This is the original game of thrones’ George R.R. Martin From the publishers that brought you A Game of Thrones comes the series that inspired George R.R. Martin’s epic work. France became a great nation under Philip the Fair – but it was a greatness achieved at the expense of her people, for his was a reign characterised by violence, the scandalous adulteries of his daughters-in-law, and the triumph of royal authority.
I was immediately intrigued when the ARC of Jason M. Hough's The Darwin Elevator showed up in my mailbox. At the time, I was looking for stuff to bring with me on my month-long trip and this looked just like the sort of thing that would work well as a vacation read.
And I was right! Hough's science fiction debut is a fun, action-packed and entertaining read!
Here's the blurb:
Jason M. Hough’s pulse-pounding debut combines the drama, swagger, and vivid characters of Joss Whedon’s Firefly with the talent of sci-fi author John Scalzi. In the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura. Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity.
As is often the case in novels such as The Darwin Elevator, depth and worldbuilding are often left aside to keep the pace fluid. I was more than a little disappointed by the fact that we learned so little about the Builders, their space elevator and their agenda. I think that shining some light on various facets of this book would have added a few more layers and would have made this one an even more enjoyable read.
The characterization was my favorite aspect of this work. Though the "villains" are cookie-cutter cutouts who embrace all the clichés, with Russell Blackfield being the prime example of that, the rest of the cast is comprised of an interesting mix of men and women. Once again, many are clichéd to one degree or another. Skyler is the flawed, often not the sharpest tool in the shed, and occasionally the dumbass captain of the Melville, with a crew of disparate people such as the kick-ass female protagonist Samantha. Dr. Tania Sharma is the drop-dead gorgeous, sexy, and super intelligent woman who never thought much about the way she looks. Yet for all that, they are an endearing bunch of people and it's a fun ride to follow their adventures.
Having said that, The Darwin Elevator remains a work aimed at the Firefly geek fandom. The book is filled with witty one-liners and geeky dialogue. There is even a silly pseudo-lesbian shower scene. Still, regardless of the geek wish-fullfilment found throughout, The Darwin Elevator is a fun romp that is a joy to read.
The rhythm is fast-paced for the better part of the book. As I mentioned, I felt that most concepts would have benefited from more elaboration, but the focus remains on the pace and keeping the plot moving forward. In that regard, a lot of scenes appear contrived just to create yet more action sequences. And although in my opinion such a state of affairs actually worked against the overall reading experience, nevertheless Hough's debut is quite entertaining and keeps you turning those pages. I found myself reaching the ending in only a few sittings, which is a rare occurrence when I'm traveling.
Not so sure about the John Scalzi comparison, but The Darwin Elevator will definitely appeal to Joss Whedon's Firefly fans. We'll likely never hear Jason M. Hough's name mentioned in the same sentence as Peter F. Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds, and Iain M. Banks, and I don't figure you'll see him get nominated for the Hugo or the Nebula awards. And yet, there is definitely a huge market for Hough's brand of science fiction and I for one am looking forward to finding out what happens next! Both sequels, The Exodus Towers and The Plague Forge, will be released later this summer.
Regardless of its flaws, I have a feeling that Hough's The Darwin Elevator will be a sure contender for science fiction debut of the year!