Infernal and Firesky (Solaris, 2020/21). Covers by Head Design
I’m not one to complain how things were better in the Good Old Days of fantasy in the 70s and 80s. (I know, I know — I had trouble keeping a straight face even as I typed that.) But at least mass market paperbacks were plentiful in those days, and you could escape from your neighborhood bookstore with a couple slender paperbacks, a chance to try out some exciting new authors, and change from a ten dollar bill.
There’s still plenty of exiting new authors to enjoy today, and fantasy is certainly richer and more diverse than those long-ago glory days (especially if you’re looking for something that wasn’t written by a straight white male). But mass market has gone the way of the Dodo. Nowadays the shelves are crowded with expensive trade paperbacks, and a pair of new authors will set you back 35 bucks or more.
Which is one of the reasons I’m so grateful for Solaris, who’ve held the price of the trade paper volumes to just $11.99 for much of their introductory line — including South African writer Mark De Jager, whose debut fantasy Infernal was described as “If Jack Reacher came to Westeros” by Sebastien de Castell.
[Click the images for infernal versions.]
Back covers for Infernal and Firesky
Infernal was warmly reviewed by multiple outlets, including Starburst (“An incredibly strong start for this series… drama, mystery, bloodshed, and grim humour abound”) and The Tattooed Book Geek (“Entertaining as hell. Simply, if you like your fantasy, brutal, grim and dark with a vein of mystery… you will love this book”). Publishers Weekly said:
De Jager’s dark, suspenseful debut fantasy gets his Chronicles of Stratus series off to an impressive start. Sorcerer Stratus wakes up in a meadow having lost his memory, but aware of a “beastly thing” inside his head that makes him worry he might be a demon. His search for identity brings him to Krandin, a kingdom in the midst of war with the Penullin Empire. There he meets the kingdom’s champion, Tatyana Henkman, and together they unearth secrets about the nature of Stratus’s demon from a crypt beneath the city…. This promising series launch brings the goods.
Firesky arrived in December, and early reports are excellent (it currently has a 4.15 rating at Goodreads, even better than the first volume). I usually hold off until the third volume in a series is available before I dig in, but in this case I might not be able to wait that long.
Here’s the details on both books.
Infernal (451 pages, $11.99 trade paper, $6.99 digital, November 24, 2020)
Firesky (544 pages, $14.99 trade paper, $6.99 digital, December 7, 2021)
Both books were published by Solaris, with covers by UK design outfit Head Design.
See all of our recent coverage of the best new fantasy series here.