Many decades ago, I discovered four volumes of fantasy by the British author E. R. Eddison: The Worm Ouroboros, and its sequel, The Zimiamvia Trilogy (Mistress of Mistresses, A Fish Dinner in Memison, and the uncompleted The Mezentian Gate.) They were a handsome set of Ballantine paperbacks from 1967, all with gorgeous covers by Barbara Remington.
Jeffrey E. Barlough is one of the most gifted and ambitious fantasists at work today and his seven volume Western Lights series is unlike anything else on the shelves. In his review of the fifth volume, Anchorwick, Jackson Kuhl sums up events as follows:
Eugene Stanley has come to the university at Salthead (a parallel Seattle? Vancouver?) to assist his professor uncle in preparing a book manuscript. One night, while working in a deserted turret room at the college… Stanley is accosted by a phantasmal form. This ignites a definitive search for the missing don as Stanley and friends uncover lost civilizations, ancestral curses, whole companies of ghosts, monsters from Greek myth, and a few red herrings, all told in rich, dryly humorous style. It’s P.G. Wodehouse with woolly mammoths.
Those who complain that there’s nothing new in fantasy today aren’t looking hard enough. And they’re definitely not reading Jeffrey E. Barlough.
The eighth volume in the Western Lights series, The Cobbler of Ridingham, will be released in November and it features Richard Hathaway, who previously appeared in Bertram of Butter Cross and the short story “Ebenezer Crackernut” (from A Tangle in Slops).
A creeping shadow, a bump in the night, a thing in the trees — these are but a few of the surprises lurking in the pages of The Cobbler of Ridingham… The new work relates a curious adventure that befell Richard Hathaway while visiting at Haigh Hall, the home of a family acquaintance, Lady Martindale, on the marshes outside the picturesque old country town of Ridingham.
Garth Nix is one of my favorite young adult writers. I was tremendously impressed with his dark, gritty, and fast-paced Shade’s Children — talk about your dystopian settings! — and I’ve heard great things about his Seventh Tower series.
But it was his Abhorsen series — Sabriel (1997), Lirael (2002), and Abhorsen (2004) — that really made a splash in this house. My kids absolutely loved them, especially my oldest, Tim. So when the advance proof of Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen arrived last month, it was barely on my desk 24 hours before my kids ran off with it. It’s taken me this long to get it back so I can write about it.
Clariel is a prequel to the earlier volumes, returning to the Old Kingdom for a tale of dark magic, royalty, dangerous action, a strong heroine, and Nix’s usual superb world-building.
Clariel is the daughter of one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen and, most important, to the King. She dreams of living a simple life but discovers this is hard to achieve when a dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city, her parents want to marry her off to a killer, and there is a plot brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she finds hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage, and save the King?
Clariel will be published by HarperCollins on October 14, 2014. It is 400 pages, priced at $18.99 in hardcover and $10.99 for the digital edition.
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Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicle includes only two volumes so far — The Name of the Wind, reviewed for us by Robert Rhodes, and the Gemmel Award winner The Wise Man’s Fear — which doesn’t make it much of a chronicle by fantasy standards, really. But it has already vaulted into the front rank of modern fantasy, with great critical acclaim and a growing body of fans. Expectations are high for the third volume.
Now comes word that Rothfuss’s next book, featuring a character from the previous novels, is not the long-awaited third volume in The Kingkiller Chronicle. Instead it’s a novella featuring Auri, former student at The University, titled The Slow Regard of Silent Things.
This is the second of three novellas set in Temerant (known as the Four Corners of Civilization in the novels) that Rothfuss reportedly has planned. The first, ”The Lightning Tree,” was centered on Bast and was recently published in Rogues, the massive heroic fantasy anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. The third, a very lengthy (100,000-120,000 words) volume featuring Laniel Young-Again, has not yet been officially announced.
The upcoming third volume in The Kingkiller Chronicle, The Doors of Stone, has a title but no firm release date.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things will be released as a standalone hardcover by DAW this October. Here’s the book description.
Since we’ve been talking about Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont’s Malazan books this weekend, I thought I’d slip in a mention of Erikson’s upcoming novel Willful Child — which looks like a pretty significant departure from his epic fantasy roots.
Erikson completed his monumental Malazan Book of the Fallen with the tenth volume, The Crippled God, in March 2011. He didn’t take much of a breather: Forge of Darkness, the first novel in his new Kharkanas Trilogy, appeared a year later; the second, Fall of Light, is scheduled to arrive next February. He’s also been writing short tales featuring the necromancers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach — five so far, including Crack’d Pot Trail.
But now comes word that his latest book is a tongue-in-cheek space opera called Willful Child, which Robert Sawyer calls “A love letter to Star Trek and its fans — a pitch-perfect tour de force.” Given Steven Erikson’s gifts as a storyteller, and my own love of Star Trek, this has immediately become one of the most anticipated novels of the year for me.
These are the voyages of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child. Its ongoing mission: to seek out strange new worlds on which to plant the Terran flag, to subjugate and if necessary obliterate new life-forms, to boldly blow the…
And so we join the not-terribly-bright but exceedingly cock-sure Captain Hadrian Sawback and his motley crew on board the Starship Willful Child for a series of devil-may-care, near-calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through ‘the infinite vastness of interstellar space.’
The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence has taken his lifelong passion for Star Trek and transformed it into a smart, inventive, and hugely entertaining spoof on the whole mankind-exploring-space-for-the-good-of-all-species-but-trashing-stuff-with-a-lot-of-high-tech-gadgets-along-the-way, overblown adventure. The result is an SF novel that deftly parodies the genre while also paying fond homage to it.
Willful Child will be published by Tor Books on November 4, 2014. It is 352 pages, priced at $24.99 in hardcover and $11.99 for the digital version.
Red Riding Hood and her grandmother are eaten, Snow White’s step-mother must dance at Snow White’s wedding wearing hot, leaden shoes until she dies, and Sleeping Beauty’s mother-in-law tries to eat her along with her two children as soon as her prince turns his back.
Apparently, in-laws were a problem even in 1812…
As an aficionado of all things creepy, Children’s and Household Tales (a.k.a. Grimm’s Fairy Tales) have long since been a staple in my library, which may explain why I don’t get asked to babysit more often. So I was thrilled to open a package from Quercus Publishing this week containing their newest offering, Fearie Tales, Stories of the Grimm and Gruesome.
Fearie Tales is a compilation of stories, entirely in the tradition of the Brothers Grimm, but penned by a thoroughly modern list of storytellers such as Garth Nix (The Seventh Tower series), Ramsey Campbell (most award-winning author in the horror genre), and my personal favorite, the legendary Neil Gaiman. The book is decorated with several disturbing illustrations by Oscar-winning Tolkien artist Alan Lee.
Containing thirty-one tales ranging in length from three pages to over fifty, it was easy to immediately dig in to – so I can give you at least a preliminary report. “Rapunzel” is a direct reprint of the 1812 Grimm tale, which itself is a retelling of the French story of Persinette originally published in 1698. The prince does indeed climb up to Rapunzel’s chamber using her hair, leaving her pregnant with twins and without his last name.
They all do live happily ever after… eventually.
In these post Harry Potter days, it takes a certain authorial courage to set a fantasy novel in a wizarding school. Sylvia Izzo Hunter has done exactly that with her first novel The Midnight Queen, the opening book in the Noctis Magicae series, released next month. I’m intrigued by the book blurb, which hints at an older target audience than Rowling’s series, as well as a hint of romance.
In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented — and highest born — sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…
Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace — and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.
Rajan Khanna has had a pretty impressive career as a short story writer, with appearances in anthologies like The Way of the Wizard and Dead Man’s Hand, and in magazines such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, GUD, and Shimmer. If his name is familiar, it could also be because he’s a blogger for Tor. com and has done podcasts for Podcastle, Lightspeed, and Pseudopod.
For his first novel, he spins a tale of a post-apocalyptic North America filled with zeppelins, a plague-ravaged populace, and an air city ruled by pirates. I don’t know about you, but he had me at “pirate air city.” I put my advance order in today.
Ben Gold lives in dangerous times. Two generations ago, a virulent disease turned the population of most of North America into little more than beasts called Ferals. Some of those who survived took to the air, scratching out a living on airships and dirigibles soaring over the dangerous ground.
Ben has his own airship, a family heirloom, and has signed up to help a group of scientists looking for a cure. But that’s not as easy as it sounds, especially with a power-hungry air city looking to raid any nearby settlements. To make matters worse, his airship, the only home he’s ever known, is stolen. Ben must try to survive on the ground while trying to get his ship back.
This brings him to Gastown, a city in the air recently conquered by belligerent and expansionist pirates. When events turn deadly, Ben must decide what really matters — whether to risk it all on a desperate chance for a better future or to truly remain on his own.
Falling Sky will be published by Pyr Books on October 7, 2014. It is 259 pages, priced at $17 in trade paperback and $11.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Chris McGrath. Learn more at Rajan Khanna’s website here.
I published an original Moorock novella, “The Dreamthief’s Daughter,” way back in our very first issue. More recently, Fletcher Vredenburgh reviewed his classic The Eternal Champion, Connor Gormley looked his at Von Bek series, Matthew David Surridge examined his Hawkmoon novels, and I covered the reprint of his early novels The Warlord of the Air and The Sword of the Dawn.
Now comes word that Tor will publish a brand new novel from Moorcock, a semi-autobiographical fantasy of a young man in post World War II London…
Tor Books now proudly presents Moorcock’s first independent novel in nine years, a tale both fantastical and autobiographical, a celebration of London and what it meant to be young there in the years after World War II. The Whispering Swarm is the first in a trilogy that will follow a young man named Michael as he simultaneously discovers himself and a secret realm hidden deep in the heart of London.
The Whispering Swarm is the first novel of The Sanctuary of the White Friars.
The Whispering Swarm will be published by Tor Books on December 9, 2014. It is 512 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.
There’s no question that the hottest trend in fiction right now isn’t vampire romances, zombies, or even superheroes. It’s young adult dystopias. The trend didn’t begin with The Hunger Games, but for sure that’s the series that kicked it into high gear. Wander the young adult section of your local bookstores and you’ll see what I mean — you’ll find dozens of volumes advertising a grim future for our young folk. It would be depressing, except for the cheery sound of a cash register ringing.
There’s been such a flood of new dystopian fantasy that it’s made it tough for a quality new series to get noticed. Mandy Hager’s Blood of the Lamb trilogy — beginning with The Crossing (January 2013) and Into the Wilderness (January 2014) — has quietly been accumulating excellent reviews and new readers, and the arrival of the third book next month is sure to launch this one into the spotlight. Pick up the first two books now, while there’s still time.
When Maryam arrives back at Onewēre and tries to loosen the Apostles’ religious stranglehold by sharing the miraculous remedy for Te Matee lai, she finds herself captured once again — prey to the Apostles’ deadly game. The ruling elite manipulate her return by setting in motion a highly orchestrated ritual before a hysterical and brain-washed crowd. Somehow Maryam must get the islanders to listen to her plea that they start thinking for themselves — hoping to stir the independence in their hearts, even as she finds herself on the brink of death.
Resurrection will be published on August 12 by Pyr Books. It is 365 pages, priced at $17.99 in hardcover and $11.99 for the ebook.