The Future of Fantasy: April New Releases

The Future of Fantasy: April New Releases

The Vagrant-small Perfect Slate Brandon Sanderson-small The Grace of Kings-small

It’s tough to keep up on all the exciting new fantasy releases every month. But that’s why Black Gate is in your life. That and — admit it — you love Goth Chick’s Halloween Show reports.

April looks pretty exciting from where I sit, with a new fantasy debut from wunderkind Ken Liu, an exciting line up of graphic novels — including new Alan Moore — some fresh installments in popular series, and a lot more. We’re here to point you towards the most exciting releases of the month, so let’s get started.

[Click on the images for bigger versions.]

I know almost nothing about Peter Newman’s debut fantasy The Vagrant, but the cover caught my eye and, really, that’s all it takes.

The Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Years have passed since humanity’s destruction emerged from the Breach. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape. As each day passes the world tumbles further into depravity, bent and twisted by the new order, corrupted by the Usurper, the enemy, and his infernal horde. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war. What little hope remains is dying. Abandoned by its leader, The Seven, and its heroes, The Seraph Knights, the last defences of a once great civilisation are crumbling into dust. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.

Yeah, that description doesn’t make a lot of sense. Whose leader? The Seven? What? Gahhh, I want it anyway. Why am I such a sucker for great cover art? The Vagrant will be released by HarperVoyager in hardcover and trade paperback on April 23 (400 pages, somewhere around $24 in hardcover.)

I want to read some Brandon Sanderson, I really do. But his books are huge. Words of Radiance was 1088 pages — in hardcover! I mean, come on. I barely have time to read the blogs I want to read, they they’re not even two pages. But I’m intrigued by Perfect State, the tale of an all-powerful monarch on a first date, with a girl from another world.  It looks cool, sounds fun… and it’s only 71 pages! This could be my chance. Perfect State was released at the beginning of the month by Dragonsteel Entertainment. It is available in digital format only, for $2.99.

God-Emperor Kairominas is lord of all he surveys. He has defeated all foes, has united the entire world beneath his rule, and has mastered the arcane arts. He spends his time sparring with his nemesis, who keeps trying to invade Kai’s world.

Except for today. Today, Kai has to go on a date. Forces have conspired to require him to meet with his equal — a woman from another world who has achieved just as much as he has. What happens when the most important man in the world is forced to have dinner with the most important woman in the world?

Based on back-channel buzz, the biggest fantasy release of the month looks like Ken Liu’s highly anticipated The Grace of Kings, the first novel in The Dandelion Dynasty. We told you all about it in a recent Future Treasures article. It was published by Saga Press on April 7 (620 pages, $27.99 in hardcover.)

The Silence Tim Lebbon-small The Warring States-small The Unremembered Author's Definitive Edition

We recently covered Tim Lebbon’s horror novel Coldbrook, and back in February we told you about his newest, The Silence, the tale of a global apocalypse that begins when blind subterranean horrors escape onto the surface… creatures that hunt relentlessly by sound. The Silence was published by Titan Books on April 14 (361 pages, $14.95 in trade paperback.)

Interzone magazine called Aidan Harte “a brilliant new voice in historical fantasy,” and in her feature review of the opening volume in The Wave Trilogy, Black Gate‘s own Sarah Avery said “Irenicon would make a perfect action film.” Now Harte continues the story in the second book, The Warring States, published on April 7 by Jo Fletcher Books (511 pages, $26.99 in hardcover.)

After the rout at Rasenna, Concord faces enemies on all fronts, and nobody believes that the last surviving Apprentice is equal to these crises–but Torbidda didn’t become Apprentice by letting himself be manipulated.

While Sofia is struggling to understand her miraculous pregnancy, the City of Towers grows wealthy. But it’s not long before the people of Rasenna start arguing again, and as the city falls apart once more, Sofia realises she must escape Etruria to save her baby. When prophecy leads her to another cesspit of treachery, the decadent Crusader kingdom of Oltremare, Sofia begins to despair, for this time she can see no way out.

Peter Orullian’s Trial of Intentions, the second novel of Vault of Heaven, will be released by Tor on May 26. But in a surprise move, the publisher has just re-released the first novel, The Unremembered — originally published in April 2011 — in an Author’s Definitive Edition, with updates to the original text, a new short story titled “Stories and Music” published here for the first time, and a sneak preview of the sequel. Hard to say if the revised version is worth your money, but I was intrigued to note that this one, at 434 pages in trade paperback, is significantly shorter than the original (which was 669 pages in hardcover, and 922 in paperback.)

Lumberjanes-small Ms. Marvel Volume 2-small Nemo River of Ghosts-small

Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis’s Lumberjanes has gotten a lot of great press, and I’m anxious to check it out now that a collection of issues 1-4 was released last week. Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five friends determined to have an awesome summer together… and not even an array of supernatural critters and strange quests can get in their way. Lumberjanes was published by BOOM! Box on April 7, 2015 (128 pages, $14.99 in trade paperback.)

I’m constantly trying to get my 15-year-old daughter interested in comics, without much success. I should have just given her Ms. Marvel from the get go. She devoured the first volume, and started nagging me for the second one in a matter of hours. Thank God she’s has issues of the new Thor to keep her preoccupied until then. Ms. Marvel Volume 2: Generation Why, written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by Jacob Wyatt and Adrian Alphona, was released by Marvel Comics on April 7 (136 pages, $15.99 in trade paperback.)

You don’t see Alan Moore’s name much anymore. The legendary author of V For Vendetta, Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Promethea has nearly retired from comics, so it’s always a delight to see his occasional output on the shelves. The latest example is Nemo: River of Ghosts, the fourth installment of this League of Extraordinary Gentlemen spin-off, created with artist Kevin O’Neill. River of Ghosts follows Janni Dakkar, pirate queen of Lincoln Island and head of the fabled Nemo family, as she embarks on her final voyage down the vastness of the Amazon at the age of 80. Nemo: River of Ghosts was published by Top Shelf on April 7 (56 pages, $14.95 in hardcover.)

Roche Limit-small The Replaced-small The Murk Robert Lettrick-small

The other graphic novel I’m really looking forward to this month is Michael Moreci and Vic Malhotra’s Roche Limit, published by Image Comics on April 7 (128 pages, $9.99 in trade paperback.)

“Our destiny is the stars, and I will lead us there.” Twenty years after this promise, billionaire Langford Skaargard’s dream of cosmic exploration is no more. Roche Limit, a colony situated on the cusp of a mysterious energy anomaly, is a melting pot of crime and terrible secrets. When Bekkah Hudson goes missing, the search to find her will plunge her sister and a cadre of the colony’s underworld figures into an odyssey that reveals a grim future for mankind.

Kimberly Derting’s The Replaced is the second installment in The Taking. Kyra hasn’t been the same since she returned from a mysterious five-year disappearance. On the run from the NSA, Kyra is hiding out with others who, like her, have been Returned, and is searching for Tyler, the boy she loves who was also abducted. When she intercepts a message that Tyler might be alive, Kyra risks everything to get him back. The Replaced will be published by HarperTeen on April 28, (368 pages, $17.99 in hardcover.)

Robert Lettrick’s second novel The Murk features a spunky teen, her little bother named Creeper, and a very nasty swamp creature. When have those ingredients ever resulted in anything less than awesome?

In the Okefenokee Swamp grows a rare and beautiful flower with a power unlike any other. Many have tried to claim it-no one has come out alive. But fourteen-year-old Piper Canfield is desperate, and this flower may be her only chance to keep a promise she made a long time ago. Accompanied by her little brother, Creeper, her friend Tad, and two local guides, Piper embarks on the quest of a lifetime. But there’s a deadly predator lurking unseen in the black water, one nearly as old as the Oke itself. Some say it’s a monster. Others say an evil spirit. The truth is far more terrifying. Piper’s task is simple: find the flower… or die trying.

The Murk will be published by Disney-Hyperion on April 21 (320 pages, $16.99 in hardcover.)

Dark Heir-small Empire of Night-small War of Shadows Gail Martin-small

I hear a lot of good things about Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock novels. Dark Heir is the ninth in the series, and I am strongly tempted to jump on here. It was published by Roc on April 7 (384 pages, $7.99 in paperback)

Shapeshifting skinwalker Jane Yellowrock is the best in the business when it comes to slaying vampires. But her latest fanged foe may be above her pay grade…

For centuries, the extremely powerful and ruthless vampire witches of the European Council have wandered the Earth, controlling governments, fostering war, creating political conflict, and often leaving absolute destruction in their wake. One of the strongest of them is set to create some havoc in the city of New Orleans, and it’s definitely personal. Jane is tasked with tracking him down. With the help of a tech wiz and an ex-Army ranger, her partners in Yellowrock Securities, she’ll have to put everything on the line, and hope it’s enough. Things are about to get real hard in the Big Easy.

Kelley Armstrong is widely known for her Darkness Rising, Darkest Powers, and Blackwell Pages series. Sea of Shadows, the first novel in Age of Legends, was published last April, and it became a New York Times bestseller. In the sequel Ashyn and Moria must overcome deadly enemies — not all of them human — as they try to avert a war for the empire. Empire of Night was published by HarperCollins on April 7 (432 pages, $17.99 in hardcover.)

Sisters Moria and Ashyn are the Keeper and Seeker of Edgewood. Or at least they were. Their village is gone. Their friends have betrayed them. And now, the emperor has sent them on a mission to rescue the captured children of Edgewood — accompanied by Prince Tyrus and a small band of imperial warriors. But the journey proves more perilous than any of them could have imagined. And with treachery and unrest mounting in the empire, the girls are running out of places to turn.

Gail Z. Martin has authored several popular adventure fantasy novels, including the Chronicles of the Necromancer series and Deadly Curiosities. War of Shadows is the third book in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, and it will arrive in bookstores on April 21 from Orbit (640 pages, $14.99 in trade paperback.)

Amidst the Shadows, Chaos Reigns

Blaine “Mick” McFadden managed to partially restore Donderath’s magic, but not without a cost. He and the magic are now bound together, and the power remains dangerous and erratic — draining the life from him with every use. New threats are rising from the wreckage of the battered kingdoms, and warlords both mortal and undead vie for control. Now, Blaine and his unlikely band of convict heroes must find allies amidst a sea of enemies, and discover a way to rebind magic to the will of mortals before it destroys him. And time is running out…

That wraps it up for the upcoming fantasy releases that have grabbed our attention for April. Be sure to check back here a few times a week as we report on the most intriguing New Treasures.

See our report on March Fantasy Release here, all our Future Treasures here.

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J.A. Woods

John, I made mention of being a cover man myself in another thread. Even a confusing or ambiguous premise can be forgiven with an awesome cover like that. Hell, let’s be honest, the premise could be just shy of terrible and I’d give it a shot with a cover like that!!

Allen Snyder

The Ken Liu novel was downloaded to my Kindle the minute it was released (i.e., I pre-ordered it 😉 ). Now as to when I’ll find time to read it….

I’ve subscribed to an electronic version of Ms. Marvel since the new version started. I’ve been reading it and enjoying it greatly, especially the most recent issues. I’ve been buying the new Thor (and the previous title leading up to the recent change in Thors), but haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

Finally, you might want to check out “I Am Radar” by Reif Larsen. It had a very good review in yesterday’s Washington Post, and it’s at least vaguely fantasy (by way of Pynchon maybe, I add despite the fact that may scare many off). I’ve added it to my wish list at Amazon, as well as his previous novel.

Wild Ape

@JA Woods—I’m a cover guy too. When we are in a support group and with a captive audience I promise not to be such a troll.

@Allen—I did not know that you could buy stuff on pre release on Kindle. How do you survive the wait though? It would be like waiting for Christmas. Some of those books don’t come out for a year or more.

That cover of Ms. Marvel knocking out a robber while taking a selfie is clever. It reminds me of the old school way of the writers and artists trying to relate to the new generation. What hacks me is the last artist of Ms. Marvel who place her in the most provocative poses and the costume was almost spray painted on for instant porn star mode. I’m sure the marketing got attention but I think it got more negative attention and that might spike a sale or two but without story it never lasts. Maybe now they are working a better story.

Thanks John. Two books with tentacles on them. You know that Cthulu demands that I buy one or I’ll be next. They all look very tempting.

Sarah Avery

Ape, you seem to be shedding those troll vestiges more and more. I’m sure there’s still plenty we disagree about, but watching you de-escalate the tensions on the Hugo comment threads so the conversation could get more real for everybody, well, that’s been really cool. If everyone on all sides of the Hugo controversy were as ready as you’ve become to say things like, I misunderstood you, or Now that I know what you’re really saying, we have some common ground, all of fandom (all the fandoms?) would fare better for it.

Wild Ape

@John–I meant “the Murk” and “Roche Limit” not “Faith Hunter” or “Ms. Marvel”. I guess it is technically a robot arm but….I never question Cthulu because it is safer that way.

@Sarah—I know I’m a troll but I’m trying not to be. Sometimes I’m not trying to come off as a troll but I’m misunderstood and blunder my message. Thank you for giving me a second or probably fiftieth chance. I think I regret hijacking the thread and being the worst kind of spokes-ape for Black Gate. I didn’t consider the audience nor the people that might tune into Black Gate. I’m very sorry about that. I will do my best to curb my inner troll and put my flamethrower down. And I really like your work Sarah!

[…] our summary of April new fantasy releases here, and all our reports on upcoming fantasy of note […]

Sarah Avery

Ape, sometimes your comments have delighted me and made me laugh, and sometimes your comments have have made me grumble a bit to myself. In the most contentious moments on the Hugo-related threads, the one thing I had to hand to you was the sincerity of your passion for the books you want to champion. It’s easy to love something enough to yell for it, but much harder to love something enough to listen for it. Hats off to you.

You’ve probably noticed my book-review pace has slowed down. My kid gave me a concussion by falling on me, head to head — he, thank goodness, was completely unharmed — and since then my reading speed is the one thing that’s not back yet. But if you don’t mind that I can’t be sure when the review would go up, I invite you to recommend a book for me to cover. If you can find something recent or just about to come out that’s the first volume in a new fantasy series, by an author or in a mode that you think would be appealing to both the Sad Puppies constituency and the general Black Gate readership, I’ll do my level best to give it the same fair chance I try to give every book.

Wild Ape

Ouch! I was wondering why you faded off a bit. I’m honored that you would do this for me. I do have a couple of recommends for you that I think might do that.

One of the cool things about the Sad Puppies is that we have our very own kaiju, Larry Correia, spear heading the charge. Both the Sad Puppies and Black Gate have a soft spot for those big fellers so you might want to check out “Island 731” by Jeremy Robinson. Robinson usually writes thrillers and suspense and it is interesting for him to bring those skillsets to science fiction. At the end of the book you might want to research some of the things in the story like the Great Garbage Patch and Project 731. The latter might make your noggin hurt though.

A second recommend is :::::blush:::::something kinda embarrassing. In the ranks of gooberish nerd-dom there is a group people that play miniature war games. Larry Correia is one. The game many play is called Warmachine and another is Hordes. Correia plays both and fields a Skorne and a Cygnar army. The game is made by Privateer Press. CAUTION: DON’T LET JOHN, ALLEN SNYDER, OR LA WOODS SEE THE COVERS OF THESE WARGAMING BOOKS! Privateer Press launched a series of books based on the games and these have been a hit with that crowd. Some of the fans post YouTube videos of the tournaments of the game and this game is played world wide. Most of the Ash Barker videos have 5 to 10 thousand views. Ash is great at explaining the game and is entertaining. You will have to know what a warjack is and probably know a bit of the background in order for some of this to make sense. I recommend “The Warcaster Chronicles: Blood and Iron” because I know there are a lot of sword and sorcery fans on Black Gate and this book is a sword and sorcery adventure about the pirate captain Phinneus Shae. I never publically admit that I play the game and the last one who tried to blackmail me with a photo ended up having it mistaken as a Big Foot sighting. Whew!

One other you might want to check out is called “Railroad! Volume 1” by Tonia Brown. It is a weird western-steampunk novella about 95 pages long. The kindle version is on prime and it is only one buck. The cool thing is that this was a webserial that Tonia Brown put up chapter by chapter every week for several years–for free. She claims that it was how she broadened her audience as a new writer and that it hasn’t hurt selling the book because most want to sit down and read it at length.

Wild Ape

I did not know that he was pulling the strings on that. He did a great job. A lot of the same friends who swap recommendations and books to each other play Warmachine and they love those books. Scott was wise in his choices and got quality writers to craft the first line of stories. On the forums there when Correia came out and talked about his Skorne army people went nuts. Even if you never played the game the stories would resonate. No offense to Games Workshop’s line but they did not start off well. It took them a while to get their heavy weight writers. Scott was the perfect hand on the tiller then.

Sarah Avery


I’ll go with the Tonia Brown novella. In addition to its appeal as a story, that looks like an interesting take on series fantasy, structurally.

For the column, I try to stick with titles that are less than a year old, and to start any series that’s new to me with the first volume. That’s the only reason I’m taking a pass on the Jeremy Robinson book, which otherwise looks like a lot of fun.

As a gamer, I’m strictly a tabletop RPG paper-character-sheet type, so I don’t know if I’ll be a reader who can really get what makes the Privateer Press books awesome. You know how it is when you read a review of a SF/F movie by a mainstream newspaper’s film critic, and it basically boils down to, “I wasn’t in this movie’s intended audience, the things that made the people around me cheer were undetectable to me, therefore I give it two stars.” I don’t ever want to be that critic. Sometimes I review books that are outside my comfort zone, but I feel that it’s unfair to a book and its author to review something if the odds are really high that I won’t grok it.

Would a person who has never played a miniature wargame be able to connect with he things that make The Warcaster Chronicles awesome? I’m totally ready to believe that it will have something awesome about it, especially since Scott was selecting the titles.

Wild Ape

Sarah, I don’t want to steal any thunder that you might have. Structurally, the webserial is unique. I’ve seen it done poorly more often than done well. I understand that serials were once used as a proving ground that a writer was indeed a real writer during Charles Dickens time period and a novelist was looked down upon because they couldn’t sustain an audience week to week. Burroughs, Edgar Rider Haggard, Charles Dickens and others all got their start in serialized fiction and they were grand. I am looking forward to your review.

As for Jeremy Robinson and “Island 731”, the book is fun and his star is rising.

The world of Warmachine and Hordes is also an RPG. I completely understand your logic. I think most would appeal to those who don’t play the game and would stand on their own. I think that is why Scott Taylor went with established authors who knew how to craft the fiction and not fans of the game who might too far into the details of the game and confuse the hell out of the audience. The most popular book of the series of the Warcaster Chronicles is the Butcher of Khardov and a nominee for the Hugo novella in 2014. So, yes, I think it can appeal to a wider audience but the one I recommended, Blood and Iron because came out this year.

Whatever they pay Scott over at Privateer Press is worth it. The Butcher character is very popular with the war gamers–sort of–my buddy Bob fields him and I hate to go against him. Butcher makes quick work of my Cygnar warjacks.

So you play RPGs eh? That is too cool.

Sarah Avery

Just so we don’t have to keep clicking on “Earlier Entries,” let’s wind up this thread.

I’ll try “Railroad!” for sure. Right now I’ve got a backlog of books to review, some read and some unread, so I’ll hold off for now on the Privateer Press books.

I do invite you to suggest books in the comment threads on my future reviews, or any post I write. That way, if you come across something that fits the criteria for my reporting beat, it’ll come right to my email inbox.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x