Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Shape Stealer by Lee Carroll

The Shape Stealer by Lee Carroll (Bantam £8.99 – out this week) is the final volume in the urban fantasy trilogy that began with Black Swan Rising:
“Garet James is the watchtower – the last in a long line of powerful women sworn to protect our world from evil. She once defeated the malign sorcerer Dr Dee, but her pursuit of the man she loves – the centuries-old vampire Will Hughes – has unleashed another ages-old entity into our time – a being that threatens everything and everyone.
His name is Marduk and he is the descendant of a demonic Babylonian deity. Now abroad in Paris, he has sought out the villainous John Dee and they have hatched a plan together that will create chaos and ensure ruin. And it will fall to Garet to confront this new threat. Around her she gathers a band of modern-day knights – a brotherhood dedicated to preserving the sanctity of the time-line. But there are others out there who would see Garet fail and who will stop at nothing to bring an end to everything she – and we – hold dear...”

Winter by William Horwood

Winter, a Hyddenworld novel, by William Horwood is out now (Macmillan £18.99). This is the last instalment of Horwood’s fantasy quartet. 
"Storms rage as the worst winter in living memory ravages the human and Hydden worlds. The prophesied End of Days is here and the universe is dying, yet only a few are even aware of the forces at work.
Jack and Katherine must help their friend Bedwyn Stort halt this chaos by locating the last gem of Winter, something only he can do. Then it must be returned to the Earth’s unwilling guardian, their daughter Judith. She will need it to try and reignite the fires of the universe.
Yet Stort is riddled with uncertainty. He yearns for Judith, as she does for him, but a love between mortal and immortal cannot be. To find the gem, he must solve this conundrum and vanquish death itself. But can he really lead mortalkind to salvation?”

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley is the first book in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne sequence (Tor £16.99) – published on 2 January 2014.
“The Emperor has been murdered, leaving the Annurian Empire in turmoil. Now his progeny must bury their grief and prepare to unmask a conspiracy. His son Valyn, training for the empire’s deadliest fighting force, hears the news an ocean away. He expected a challenge, but after several ‘accidents’ and a dying soldier’s warning, he realizes his life is also in danger. Yet before Valyn can take action, he must survive the mercenaries’ brutal final initiation.
Meanwhile, the Emperor’s daughter, Minister Adare, hunts her father’s murderer in the capital itself. Court politics can be fatal, but she needs justice. And Kaden, heir to the empire, studies in a remote monastery. Here, the Blank God’s disciples teach their harsh ways – which Kaden must master to unlock their ancient powers. When an imperial delegation arrives, he’s learnt enough to perceive evil intent. But will this keep him alive, as long-hidden powers make their move?”

The Descent by Alma Katsu

Alma Katsu’s supernatural trilogy — that began with The Taker — comes to a conclusion with The Descent (Arrow £7.99). Out in a day or so:
“Lanore McIlvrae encounters Adair, her powerful nemesis. Dismayed by Adair’s otherworldly powers and afraid of his passionate temper, Lanore has run from him across time, even imprisoning him behind a wall for two centuries to save Jonathan, her eternal love. But instead of punishing her for her betrayal, Adair declared his love for Lanore once more and set her free.

Now, Lanore has tracked Adair to his mystical island home to ask for one last favour. The Queen of the Underworld is keeping Jonathan as her consort, and Lanore wants Adair to send her to the hereafter so that she may beg for his release. Will she honour her promise to return to Adair? Or is her true intention to be reunited with Jonathan at any cost?”

Monday, December 30, 2013

Veins and Skulls by Daniele Serra

Veins and Skulls by Daniele Serra. SST Publications. £16.95
Reviewed by Peter Coleborn
If you love the work of Daniele Serra – as I do – you should love this art book. Dani Serra has the ability to use a limited palette coupled with few bold brush strokes to generate paintings that are alive with motion and emotion. Based on the PDF I was sent for review, these examples represent some of Serra’s best work. But it’s not all pictures: the book starts off with a three-page introduction by Jeffrey J Mariotte.
The trouble with reviewing an art book in PDF format is that it’s difficult to get a feel for the book as a whole – the page size and format, the quality of the paper (sure, there are the facts [reproduced below] but I am an old-fashioned type of reader/reviewer and I like to touch the artefact). I am confident, though, that anything with Serra’s name attached to it will be of the highest standard. Currently only available via the SST website.
Their website states the following:
  • SST Art Book Series #1
  • Publisher: Short, Scary Tales Publications
  • Release Date: December 2013
  • ISBN: 978-1-909640-12-2
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.5 inches, 64 pages
  • Unjacketed hardcover with four-colour matte laminated cover, full four-colour interior, printed on acid-free paper

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Fall of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

From the hit TV show comes The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor (part one) by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga (Tor £7.99; part two is due out in a few months):

“Über-villain Phillip Blake has come a long way. He journeyed from humble beginnings into the dark heart of the zombie apocalypse. And here, he has manoeuvred to become a small town’s self-proclaimed leader. But Woodbury’s residents (those who survive) will live to regret the day Blake, aka the Governor, darkened their doors. For the Governor runs a twisted, violent dictatorship within Woodbury’s ever-tightening barricades. Those that manage to breach those barricades find only misery within, and the terror of the zombie menace without.”

Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal

Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal is the third volume in The Glamourist Histories (Corsair £7.99) – out on 16 January 2014.
“Summer, 1816: Glamourists Jane and David Vincent return home to an unseasonably cold Long Parkmeade. Cooped up inside with Jane's fretful sister and father, they soon become restless, so when they receive a commission from a prominent family in London, they decide to go – taking Melody with them. Perhaps the change of scenery will brighten their moods (and Melody's marriage prospects).
The capital is fizzing with talk of crop failures and unemployment riots in the north. Finding it difficult to avoid getting embroiled in the intrigue, it's not long before Jane and David realise they must use their magic to solve a crisis of international proportions ... and get Melody to the church on time.”

Hunger by Melvin Burgess

Hunger by Melvin Burgess is out on 16 January 2014 as a Hammer paperback (£7.99):
“When Beth wakes up one morning covered in dirt, she puts it down to an extreme case of sleep-walking. But when reports of a desecrated grave start to circulate, her night-time wanderings take on a sinister air.
Soon the city is being plagued by strange sightings and sudden disappearances.

Beth knows that something is changing within her. Something that's filling her with an urgent, desperate hunger that demands to be satisfied – at any cost...”

The Arrows of Time by Greg Egan

Greg Egan’s The Arrows of Time is the third volume of the Orthogonal trilogy (Gollancz £16.99)
“After generations of travel, the spaceship Peerless may finally have achieved its goal – but the decision to return home may create more tensions than ever before.
In an alien universe where space and time play by different rules, interstellar voyages last longer for the travellers than for those they left behind. After six generations in flight, the inhabitants of the mountain-sized spacecraft the Peerless have used their borrowed time to develop advanced technology that could save their home world from annihilation.
But not every traveller feels allegiance to a world they have never seen, and as tensions mount over the risks of turning the ship around and starting the long voyage home, a new complication arises: the prospect of constructing a messaging system that will give the Peerless news of its own future.

While some of the crew welcome the opportunity to be warned of impending dangers - and perhaps even hear reports of the ship's triumphant return – others are convinced that knowing what lies ahead will be oppressive, and that the system will be abused. Agata longs for a chance to hear a message from the ancestors back on the home world, proving that the sacrifices of the travellers have not been in vain, but her most outspoken rival, Ramiro, fears that the system will undermine every decision the travellers make.”

The Suicide Exhibition by Justin Richards

The Suicide Exhibition by Justin Richards is book one of The Never War (Del Rey £16.99):
“Wewelsburg Castle, 1940: The German war machine has woken an ancient threat – the alien Vril and their Ubermensch have returned. Ultimate Victory in the war for Europe is now within the Nazis’ grasp.
England, 1941: Foreign Office trouble shooter Guy Pentecross has stumbled into a conspiracy beyond his imagining – a secret war being waged in the shadows against a terrible enemy.

The battle for Europe has just become the war for humanity.”

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Snowblind by Christopher Golden

Snowblind by Christopher Golden sees publication 16 January 2014 (Headline £13.99).
 “Twelve years ago the small town of Coventry, Massachusetts was in the grasp of a particularly brutal winter. And then came the Great Storm. It hit hard. Not everyone saw the spring. Today the families, friends and lovers of the victims are still haunted by the ghosts of those they lost so suddenly. If only they could see them one more time, hold them close, tell them they love them.
It was the deadliest winter in living memory. Until now. When a new storm strikes, it doesn't just bring snow and ice, it brings the people of Coventry exactly what they've been wishing for. And the realisation their nightmare is only beginning.”

“Snowblind is instantly involving and deeply scary. Throw away all those old ‘it was a dark and stormy night’ novels; this one is the real deal." — Stephen King.

The Wasteland Saga by Nick Cole

The Wasteland Saga by Nick Cole is an omnibus volume featuring The Old Man and the Wasteland, The Savage Boy and The Road is a River (Harper Voyager £9.99):

“Forty years after a devastating thermonuclear Armageddon, mankind has been reduced to salvaging the ruins of a broken world. In a style that’s part Hemingway and part Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, The Wasteland Saga chronicles the struggle of the Old Man, his granddaughter, and a mysterious boy as they try to survive the savage lands of this new American Dark Age.”

Blood and Bone by Ian C Esslemont

Blood and Bone by Ian C Esslemont is available from Bantam (£8.99):

“In the western sky the bright emerald banner of the Visitor descends like a portent of annihilation. On the continent of Jacuruku, the Thaumaturgs have mounted yet another expedition to tame the neighbouring wild jungle. Yet this is no normal wilderness. It is called Himatan, and it is said to be half of the spirit-realm and half of the earth. And it is said to be ruled by a powerful entity whom some name the Queen of Witches, and some a goddess: the ancient Ardata. Saeng grew up knowing only the rule of the magus Thaumaturgs — but it was the voices out of that land's forgotten past that she listened to. And when her rulers mount an invasion of the neighbouring jungle, those voices send her and her brother on a desperate mission.”

The Daylight War by Peter V Brett

Peter V Brett’s The Daylight War is out now from Harper Voyager (£8.99).
“Humanity has thirty days to prepare for the next demon attack, but one month is scarcely enough time to train a village to defend themselves, let alone an entire continent caught in the throes of civil war.
Arlen Bales understands the coreling threat better than anyone. Born ordinary, the demon plague has shaped him into a weapon so powerful he has been given the unwanted title of saviour, and attracted the attention of deadly enemies both above and below ground.
Unlike Arlen, Ahmann Jardir embraces the title of Deliverer. His strength resides not only in the legendary relics he carries, but also in the magic wielded by his first wife, Inevera, a cunning and powerful priestess whose allegiance even Jardir cannot be certain of.

Once Arlen and Jardir were like brothers. Now they are the bitterest of rivals. As humanity’s enemies prepare, the only two men capable of defeating them are divided against each other by the most deadly demons of all: those that lurk in the human heart.”

Sunday, December 1, 2013

End of the Road edited by Jonathan Oliver

An anthology of original short stories by the bestselling author Philip Reeve and the World Fantasy award-winning Lavie Tidhar among others: End of the Road edited by Jonathan Oliver (Solaris £7.99).

“Each step will lead you closer to your destination, but who, or what, can you expect to meet at journey’s end? Here are stories of misfits, spectral hitch-hikers, nightmare travel tales and the rogues, freaks and monsters to be found on the road.” Includes:

  • We Know Where We're Goin' - Philip Reeve
  • Fade to Gold - Benjanun Sriduangkaew
  • Without a Hitch - Ian Whates
  • Balik Kampung (Going Back) - Zen Cho
  • Driver Error - Paul Meloy
  • Locusts - Lavie Tidhar
  • The Track - Jay Caselberg
  • Dagiti Timayap Garda (of the Flying Guardians) - Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
  • I'm The Lady of Good Times, She Said - Helen Marshall
  • The Widow - Rio Youers
  • The Cure - Anil Menon
  • Through Wylmere Woods - Sophia McDougall
  • Bingo - S.L. Grey
  • Peripateia - Vandana Singh
  • Always in our Hearts - Adam Nevill

The Waking that Kills by Stephen Gregory

“When his elderly father suffers a stroke, Christopher Beale returns to England. He has no home, no other family. Adrift, he answers an advert for a live-in tutor for a teenage boy. The boy, Lawrence Lundy, possesses the spirit of his father, a military pilot – missing, presumed dead. Unable to accept that his father is gone, Lawrence keeps his presence alive, in the big old house, in the overgrown garden.

His mother, Juliet Lundy, a fey, scatty widow living on her nerves, keeps the boy at home, away from other children, away from the world. And in the suffocating heat of a long summer, she too is infected by the madness of her son. Christopher Beale becomes entangled in the strange household ... enmeshed in the oddness of the boy and his fragile mother. Only by forcing the boy to release the spirit of his father can there be any escape from the haunting.”

The Waking that Kills by Stephen Gregory, “a dark novel of possession”, is out from Solaris (£7.99).

The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

The Copper Promise by Jen Williams, her first novel, is due next February (Headline £13.99).

“There are some far-fetched rumours about the caverns beneath the Citadel: some say the mages left their most dangerous secrets hidden there; others, that great riches are hidden there; even that gods have been imprisoned in its darkest depths. For Lord Frith, the caverns hold the key to his vengeance. Against all the odds, he has survived torture and lived to see his home and his family taken from him ... and now someone is going to pay.

For Wydrin of Crosshaven and her companion, Sir Sebastian Carverson, a quest to the Citadel looks like just another job. There's the promise of gold and adventure. Who knows, they might even have a decent tale or two once they're done. But sometimes there is truth in rumour. Sometimes it pays to listen. Soon this reckless trio will become the last line of defence against a hungry, restless terror that wants to tear the world apart. And they're not even getting paid.”

The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock

The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock is now out from Jo Fletcher Books (£14.99). 

“Pen's life is all about secrets: the secret of the city's spirits, deities and monsters her best friend Beth discovered, living just beyond the notice of modern Londoners; the secret of how she got the intricate scars that disfigure her so cruelly – and the most closely guarded secret of all: Parva, her mirror-sister, forged from her reflections in a school bathroom mirror. Pen's reflected twin is the only girl who really understands her.

Then Parva is abducted and Pen makes a terrible bargain for the means to track her down. In London-Under-Glass, looks are currency, and Pen's scars make her a rare and valuable commodity. But some in the reflected city will do anything to keep Pen from the secret of what happened to the sister who shared her face.”

Moon's Artifice by Tom Lloyd

Moon’s Artifice by Tom Lloyd is the first in a new series (Gollancz £20.00).

“The series starts with a bang as Narin has the chance of promotion after an unremarkable career, to be a Lawbringer in the Imperial City. To be a guardian of the Emperor’s laws and a bastion for justice is his dream, but it’s come at a very bad time; a chance encounter drags him into a plot of gods and monsters, spies and assassins, accompanied by a grief-stricken young woman, an old man haunted by the ghosts of his past and an assassin with no past.

To save his own life and those of untold thousands, Narin must understand the key to it all – Moon’s Artifice, the poison that could destroy an empire.”

The Art of Hunting by Alan Campbell

The Art of Hunting by Alan Campbell is the second volume of the Gravedigger Chronicles (Tor £16.99).

“With the Haurstaf decimated, the palace at Awl has been seized by the Unmer. Prince Paulus Marquetta discovers an ally in the blind girl Ianthe – but it would be hard to form a more dangerous alliance. She has the power to destroy his mind with a single thought. But Ianthe’s friendship with Paulus, and his people, has given her powerful enemies. Argusto Conquillas is determined to challenge the prince and his followers. And he’s prepared to kill anyone who gets in his way.”

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

"Change is afoot in Ankh-Morpork. Discworld's first steam engine has arrived, and once again Moist von Lipwig finds himself with a new and challenging job." Read all about it in Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday £20.00).