New Treasures: Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Radiant Karina Sumner-Smith-smallThe surest way to get my attention these days is with an original setting. And I was struck by the darkly imaginative setting of Karina Sumner-Smith’s debut novel Radiant immediately.

Sumner-Smith is a Canadian author of fantasy, science fiction, and young adult fiction. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula award and has appeared in The Living Dead 2, The Best Horror of the Year Volume Three, and other places. Radiant is the first book of the Towers Trilogy.

Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body — any body — so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless — until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

Radiant was published by Talos Press on October 7, 2014. It is 400 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital version.


Nab the Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic Anthology for Just $4.35 at Amazon.com

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Trafficking in Magic Magicking in Traffic-smallBlack Gate author, blogger, and roving correspondent Sarah Avery reports in with some unexpected news: Amazon.com has discounted her acclaimed new anthology Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic to just $4.35, a steep 73% savings off the $15 cover price.

Sarah and her publisher are not sure how long the sale will last, however, so act fast. Of special interest to Black Gate fans, it contains a brand new story from James Enge — as well as fiction from Elizabeth Bear, Darrell Schweitzer, Pauline J. Alama, and many others. Here’s the complete description.

What do you seek at the end of this road? What have you brought to pay your way? The road is full of hazards, and the marketplace can cost more than you expect.

In Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic, editors David Sklar and Sarah Avery bring you 18 magical tales of travel and transactions, ranging from busking in a train station to walking between the worlds, from doppelgangers for hire to capturing the remnants of the dead.

Ideal to read on your vacation, commute, or flight from vengeful ghosts, this collection features classic stories by Elizabeth Bear, Daniel Braum, George R. Galuschak and Darrell Schweitzer, as well as new work by Pauline J. Alama, Megan Arkenberg, D.W. Carlson, Joyce Chng, M.C. DeMarco, E. Grace Diehl, James Enge, Manny Frishberg, Sara M. Harvey, Scott Hungerford, Deborah Grabien, Deirdre M. Murphy, Rhonda Parrish, Richard Rider, and Heather Stearns.

Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic was edited by David Sklar and Sarah Avery, and published by Fantastic Books on May 23, 2014. It is 264 pages, regularly priced at $15.99 in paperback. There is no digital edition. Order online from Amazon.com.


See Westeros the Way George R.R. Martin Intended in The World of Ice & Fire

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Dragonstone

Dragonstone

If you’ve been watching HBO’s Game of Thrones, then you’ve already been treated to some spectacular sights.

It seems George R.R. Martin is not content to let HBO be the final word on the visual splendor of Westeros, however. His new book The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones, released this week, gives Game of Thrones fans the chance to see visions of Martin’s world that are much closer to what he intended.

In an interview at The Huffington Post, Martin explains why there are so many pictures of castles:

I wanted accurate versions of these castles. We’ve had a number of different artists draw them on covers and on the fantasy like cards and games, and some of them have been beautiful images but not necessarily accurate to what I described.

The World of Ice & Fire, co-authored with Elio M. García, Jr. and Linda Antonsson, who run the site Westeros.org, isn’t just an art book, however. It’s a comprehensive history of the Seven Kingdoms — all the battles, betrayals, and back-room deals that lead to the events of Martin’s novels. It includes full family trees for Houses Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen; detailed histories of the cultures of Westeros; and more than 170 pieces of original art and maps, many in full-color.

See five high-resolution images from the book at The Huffington Post article here. The World of Ice & Fire was published on October 28 by Bantam Books. It is 336 pages, priced at $50 in hardcover and $19.99 for the digital edition.


New Treasures: The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey

Monday, October 27th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Bloodbound Erin Lindsey-smallErin Lindsey’s debut novel is a tale of magic and court intrigue, the first in what looks like a promising new series. She also writes fantasy mysteries under the name E.L. Tettensor (including Darkwater, which we covered here last December).

Lindsey lives in Bujumbura, Burundi. I didn’t even know where Burundi is. I had to look it up (it’s in Western Africa). Already she knows things about the world I don’t; I like that in an author.

Of all those in the King of Alden’s retinue, the bloodbinders are the most prized. The magic they wield can forge invaluable weapons, ones that make soldiers like Lady Alix Black unerringly lethal. However, the bloodbinders’ powers can do so much more—and so much worse…

A cunning and impetuous scout, Alix only wishes to serve quietly on the edges of the action. But when the king is betrayed by his own brother and left to die at the hands of attacking Oridian forces, she winds up single-handedly saving her sovereign.

Suddenly, she is head of the king’s personal guard, an honor made all the more dubious by the king’s exile from his own court. Surrounded by enemies, Alix must help him reclaim his crown, all the while attempting to repel the relentless tide of invaders led by the Priest, most feared of Oridia’s lords.

But while Alix’s king commands her duty, both he and a fellow scout lay claim to her heart. And when the time comes, she may need to choose between the two men who need her most…

The Bloodbound was published by Ace Books on September 30, 2014. It is 359 pages, priced at $7.99 in both paperback and digital formats. The cover art is by Lindsey Look.


New Treasures: City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Saturday, October 25th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

City of Stairs-smallLast month, I made a feeble attempt to sneak in a three-year old book as a New Treasure: The Company Man, a Robert Jackson Bennett novel I’d missed when it first came out. Truthfully, I’d only stumbled on The Company Man because of all the pre-publication buzz around his newest, City of Saints, and I didn’t want to seem late to the party.

I’m not going to make the same mistake with City of Saints, a tale of vast conspiracies, dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, protean city. Robert Jackson Bennett, author of Mr. Shivers (2010), The Troupe (2012), and American Elsewhere (2013), is quickly gaining recognition as one of America’s most acclaimed young fantasy writers.

Personally, I think he owes at least part of his fame to the fact that he’s a dead ringer for Chris Pratt, star of Guardians of the Galaxy. (See the results of our explosive investigative report: Robert Jackson Bennett and Chris Pratt: Separated at Birth?)

The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions — until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself — first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it — stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country’s most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem — and that Bulikov’s cruel reign may not yet be over.

City of Stairs was published by Broadway Books on September 9, 2014. It is 452 pages, priced at $25 in paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Sam Weber.


New Treasures: Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, Volume Two, Adapted by P. Craig Russell

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The Graveyard Book Volume Two-smallBack in August, I reported on the arrival of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, Volume One, the first half of a handsome hardcover graphic novel adapting Gaiman’s famous contemporary fantasy.

I’m very pleased to report that the second half has now arrived, and it looks just as sharp as the first. Volume Two includes the last three chapters of Gaiman’s novel, skillfully adapted by Russell and illustrated by several of the top artists in the field.

The second volume of a glorious two-volume, four-color graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s #1 New York Times bestselling and Newbery and Carnegie Medal-winning novel The Graveyard Book, adapted by P. Craig Russell and illustrated by an extraordinary team of renowned artists.

Inventive, chilling, and filled with wonder, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book reaches new heights in this stunning adaptation. Artists Kevin Nowlan, P. Craig Russell, Galen Showman, Scott Hampton, and David Lafuente lend their own signature styles to create an imaginatively diverse and yet cohesive interpretation of Neil Gaiman’s luminous novel.

Volume Two includes chapter six to the end of the book.

Once again the colorist is Lovern Kindzierski, who brings a solid cohesiveness to the project, tying together so many disparate art styles with a unified look.

The Graveyard Book, Volume Two was published by Harper Books on July 29, 2014. It is 164 pages, priced at $19.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.


Black Static #41 now on Sale

Monday, October 20th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Black Static 41-smallLast month, I reported on the first issue of Black Static magazine I ever purchased, issue 40. I was very impressed.

Good thing, too, because I took a chance and bought issue #41 at the same time. I have no idea why two issues of the same magazine were simultaneously on the stands, but I’m glad they were.

On the magazine’s website is this friendly but blunt request:

Magazines like Black Static cannot survive without subscriptions and always needs more support than it gets. If you enjoy it please blog about it, review it, tell your friends, and encourage other people to subscribe. Thank you!

Truer words were never spoken. Magazines like Black Static are completely dependent on fans and readers to keep them alive. I hope this magazine survives for a good long time — but it won’t without reader support. In that spirit, I am very happy to shine a spotlight on Black Static here on the blog. If it sounds intriguing, I hope you’ll consider buying an issue next time you find yourself browsing the magazine rack.

Black Static is a British magazine of dark fantasy and horror, edited by Andy Cox. It used to be called The 3rd Alternative, until that magazine went on hiatus in 2005. It was acquired by TTA Press, the publishers of Interzone and Crimewave, and in 2007 it was relaunched as Black Static.

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New Treasures: Short Sharp Shocks 1: Amok! edited by Neil Baker

Sunday, October 19th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Short Sharp Shocks Amok!-smallThe fine folks at April Moon Press have really hit the ground running. Their first anthology, The Dark Rites of Cthulhu, appeared in March and was a major success — so much so that they’ve now launched an ambitious line of dark fantasy and horror books.

The first to arrive is Amok!, a collection of intense short fiction from multiple genres — mystery, thriller, dark fantasy, and outright horror — focusing on the modern boogeyman: the spree killer. Amok! is the first release in April Moon’s Short Sharp Shocks anthology series; the next, Stomping Grounds!, features monsters causing mayhem and misery. They will be followed by Ill-Considered Expeditions (“Pith helmets at the ready for some unfriendly welcomes!”), Spawn of the Ripper, a tribute to Hammer horror films, and The Stars at my Door, a collection of optimistic science fiction.

An unnerving anthology featuring tales of psychological decline and murderous frenzy!

Office workers snap and vengeful ghosts go on a murderous rampage; a giant, blood-crazed pig rubs shoulders with a monstrous alligator while kids experiment with runes and drugs and suffer the consequences.

Ghouls of every foul persuasion tear through the streets and would-be serial killers stalk every alley way in search of hapless victims. Dark magicks destroy cities and brings warriors back from the grave, and madness eats away at the minds of explorers both past and future. Criminals enjoy violent crime sprees while our uniformed protectors themselves fall under the spell of murderous intent.

Here then, are 26 stories spanning a multitude of genres and themes to both alarm and amuse you as events spiral rapidly out of control, and mankind, monsters and minds run terribly, catastrophically, AMOK!

Short Sharp Shocks 1: Amok! was edited by Neil Baker and published by April Moon Books on September 27, 2014. It is 244 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $3.99 for the digital edition. The cover and interior illustrations are by Neil Baker. Order directly at the April Moon website.


Join the Struggle Against the Minions of Cthulhu in 17th Century England in Clockwork and Cthulhu

Saturday, October 18th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

clockwork-cthulhu-smallTwo years ago, I wrote a brief New Treasures post about Clockwork and Cthulhu, an H.P. Lovecraft-inspired supplement for the 17th century alternate history fantasy setting Clockwork & Chivalry. A role playing game where giant clockwork war machines lumber across the land, witches whisper of the old gods and terrorize entire villages, and the Great Old Ones seek entry into our world while their corrupted servants covertly follow their eldritch agendas, was simply too much to resist.

I was enormously impressed with Cakebread and Walton’s creative backdrop for their game, an alternate 17th Century England where Royalists, led by Prince Rupert, attempt to restore an absolute monarch to the throne, and Parliamentarians, led by the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, defy the kingship and support the rights of parliament. Imagine my surprise when I discovered there actually was an English Civil War from 1642–1651. Apparently, history is not my strong suit.

A few weeks after the first article appeared, co-author Peter Cakebread graciously accepted my invitation and wrote a fascinating follow-up piece for us, “The English Civil War with Clockwork War Machines: an Introduction to Clockwork & Chivalry,” in which he filled in the details on his fascinating setting:

Clockwork & Chivalry is a RPG set in the time of the English Civil War. The English Civil War was fought between the Royalists (the Cavaliers) and Parliament (the Roundheads). We haven’t veered away from most of the real history, it’s simply too interesting, but we have added a couple of rather big twists – in our setting the Royalists use magick, and the Parliamentarians have giant clockwork war machines.

Who says role playing can’t be educational? Over the last few years, I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment (and rewarding history lessons) out of Clockwork and Cthulhu, and in that time Cakebread and Walton have continued to produce top-notch supplements and games. Here’s a quick look at some of their related products.

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New Treasures: Hawk by Steven Brust

Thursday, October 16th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

Hawk Steven Brust-smallI was surprised and delighted to receive a new book in the Vlad Taltos series from Steven Brust in the mail last week.

Hawk is the 14th novel in the adventure fantasy series that began with Jhereg (reviewed by Fletcher Vredenburgh here) way back in 1983. A total of 19 are planned; the last one was Tiassa (2011), and the next is Vallista. If you’re a newcomer to the series, I highly recommend The Book of Jhereg, a paperback omnibus collection of the first three novels (Jhereg, Yendi, and Teckla), which has been in print from Ace for over 15 years.

Vlad Taltos was an oppressed and underprivileged Easterner — that is, a human — living in Adrilankha, capital of the Dragaeran Empire. Life was hard. Worse, it was irritating. Then Vlad made a great discovery: Dragaerans would pay him to kill other Draegarans. Win-win!

The years of Vlad’s career as a crime boss and top assassin were cut short by a revolution, a divorce, and an attack of conscience (not necessarily in that order). In the midst of all that, he broke with the Jhereg, the Dragaeran house of organized crime. He’s been a marked man ever since. The Jhereg want to kill him. The Jhereg would love to kill him.

So Vlad’s been avoiding Adrilankha as much as possible. That hasn’t worked out too well. His life is there: his ex-wife Cawti, his son, and all his friends. One of those friends is his former assistant Kragar, who’s taken over Vlad’s old territory and criminal operations. Vlad will need Kragar’s help if he’s going to return to Adrilankha and deal with this mess.

It won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t be simple. Because there are no messes like the ones you make yourself.

Hawk was published by Tor Books on October 7. It is 320 pages, priced at $24.99 in hardcover ($11.99 for the digital edition). The cover is by Stephen Hickman. Read an excerpt at Tor.com.


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