Future Treasures: The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Friday, July 3rd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Heart of Betrayal-smallThe first time I encountered Mary E. Pearson was with her short story “The Rotten Beast” at Tor.com. Her first fantasy novel, The Kiss of Deception, was published by Henry Holt last year, and called “a wonderfully full-bodied story: harrowing, romantic, and full of myth and memory… this has the sweep of an epic tale,” (Booklist), and Publishers Weekly said “the novel has a formidable heroine at its core, who is as quick with a knife as she is to laugh or cry… [a] masterfully crafted story.” The Heart of Betrayal, the second volume in The Remnant Chronicles, will be released next week, and it continues the tale of 17-year-old princess Lia.

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape… and even less of being together.

Desperate to save her life, Lia’s erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komisar that she has a magical gift, and the Komisar’s interest in Lia is greater than either Kaden or Lia foresaw.

Meanwhile, the foundations of Lia’s deeply-held beliefs are crumbling beneath her. Nothing is straightforward: there’s Rafe, who lied to her, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom she always believed to be barbarians but whom she now realizes are people who have been terribly brutalized by the kingdoms of Dalbreck and Morrighan. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her very sense of self, Lia will have to make powerful choices that affect her country, her people… and her own destiny.

The Heart of Betrayal will be published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 7, 2015. It is 480 pages, priced at $18.99 in hardcover and $9.99 for the digital edition.

Future Treasures: The Empress Game by Rhonda Mason

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Empress Game-smallTitan Books has been doing some terrific stuff recently, especially in the realm of intriguing fantasy series. So when they sent me an advance proof of Rhonda Mason’s The Empress Game, the first installment in a promising new space fantasy coming out later this month, I promised myself I’d read it.

And I totally failed. I told myself I probably wouldn’t have liked it, anyway. And then Liz Bourke totally trashed that theory, with this stellar review over at Tor.com, calling it an “old-fashioned pulp space opera”:

Rhonda Mason’s science fiction debut — first in a projected trilogy — is unashamedly old-fashioned pulp space opera… Kayla Reunimon makes a living through brutal gladiatorial combat in an arena on a world that probably counts as a classic space opera “hive of scum and villainy.” She used to be an Ordochian princess, trained to protect her psychic twin, until an Imperial-supported coup overthrew her government and killed most of her family. She escaped with her last surviving younger brother, but without resources, they’ve been stranded, and Kayla has kept them safe and fed as best her training allows. But when a mysterious stranger approaches her with an offer she can’t refuse — an offer he won’t permit her to refuse — their precarious equilibrium is irretrievably altered. The stranger — Malkor — might offer them their best hope of survival, because their enemies are closing in…

This is a novel about fighting princesses. And family. But you pretty much had me at gladiatorial princesses. I’m not going to pretend this is particularly admirable of me, but I’m terribly afraid I like that trope far, far too much. I can forgive a novel a lot for combining angst and violence in an entertaining way, and The Empress Game does that.

Looks like I’m going to have to read it after all. The Empress Game will be published by Titan Books on July 14, 2015. It is 352 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover artist is uncredited.

Future Treasures: The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán

Monday, June 29th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Dinosaur Lords-smallVictor Milán is the co-author of Runespear, and the author of the Star Trek novel From the Depths. His latest novel has the good fortune to be released while the hottest movie of the summer, Jurassic World, makes dinosaurs a hot property again. The Dinosaur Lords is the opening volume in a sprawling new fantasy series that George R. R. Martin calls “A cross between Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones.” It will be released by Tor next month.

A world made by the Eight Creators on which to play out their games of passion and power, Paradise is a sprawling, diverse, often brutal place. Men and women live on Paradise as do dogs, cats, ferrets, goats, and horses. But dinosaurs predominate: wildlife, monsters, beasts of burden — and of war. Colossal plant-eaters like Brachiosaurus; terrifying meat-eaters like Allosaurus, and the most feared of all, Tyrannosaurus rex. Giant lizards swim warm seas. Birds (some with teeth) share the sky with flying reptiles that range in size from bat-sized insectivores to majestic and deadly Dragons.

Thus we are plunged into Victor Milán’s splendidly weird world of The Dinosaur Lords, a place that for all purposes mirrors 14th century Europe with its dynastic rivalries, religious wars, and byzantine politics… except the weapons of choice are dinosaurs. Where vast armies of dinosaur-mounted knights engage in battle. During the course of one of these epic battles, the enigmatic mercenary Dinosaur Lord Karyl Bogomirsky is defeated through betrayal and left for dead. He wakes, naked, wounded, partially amnesiac — and hunted. And embarks upon a journey that will shake his world.

The Dinosaur Lords will be published by Tor Books on July 28, 2015. It is 448 pages, priced at $26.99 in hardcover, and $12.99 for the digital edition.

Future Treasures: Witches Be Crazy by Logan J. Hunder

Friday, June 26th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Witches Be Crazy-smallHumor is tough to get right. So when I hear pre-release buzz about a book that gets it right, I pay attention. Logan J. Hunder’s debut novel Witches Be Crazy, coming next month from Night Shade Books, has been called “A wild fantasy adventure” by Piers Anthony, and “Laugh-out-loud hilarious… Witches Be Crazy skewers fantasy tropes and hoists them high on their own petard (whatever a ‘petard’ is)” by Kevin J. Anderson. Featuring a masquerading princess, pirates, cultists, crazy hobos, and a heroic innkeeper, Witches Be Crazy could be just what I’m looking for.

Real heroes never die. But they do get grouchy in middle age.

The beloved King Ik is dead, and there was barely time to check his pulse before the royal throne was supporting the suspiciously shapely backside of an impostor pretending to be Ik’s beautiful long-lost daughter. With the land’s heroic hunks busy drooling all over themselves, there’s only one man left who can save the kingdom of Jenair. His name is Dungar Loloth, a rural blacksmith turned innkeeper, a surly hermit and an all-around nobody oozing toward middle age, compensating for a lack of height, looks, charm, and tact with guts and an attitude.

Normally politics are the least of his concerns, but after everyone in the neighboring kingdom of Farrawee comes down with a severe case of being dead, Dungar learns that the masquerading princess not only is behind the carnage but also has similar plans for his own hometown. Together with an eccentric and arguably insane hobo named Jimminy, he journeys out into the world he’s so pointedly tried to avoid as the only hope of defeating the most powerful person in it. That is, if he can survive the pirates, cultists, radical Amazonians, and assorted other dangers lying in wait along the way.

Witches Be Crazy will be published by Night Shade Books on July 14, 2015. It is 352 pages, priced at $15.99 for both the trade paperback and digital versions.

Future Treasures: Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Time Salvager-smallI first met Wesley Chu at the 2013 launch party for Mary Robinette Kowal’s Without a Summer here in Chicago. His first novel, The Lives of Tao, was about to be released by Angry Robot, and it was a thrill to meet another local author just beginning to get his career underway.

Well, that didn’t last long. Fast forward two years, and Wesley Chu is one of the hottest writers in the business. His second novel, The Deaths of Tao, appeared in October 2013, and in April he received a nomination for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Before most of us could even say “Congratulations!” however, Wesley announced that his third and fourth novels, The Rebirths of Tao and Time Salvager, would both be released this year. And on June 3, Wesley posted a brief announcement on Facebook pointing to this post at Tor.com, which began:

Michael Bay to Adapt Wesley Chu’s Time Salvager

Ahead of its publication in July, Wesley Chu’s Time Salvager has already been optioned for a movie! According to Publishers Weekly, Paramount Pictures acquired the rights for a feature film franchise, with Michael Bay attached to direct and Chu set to executive produce.

Four novels, a major award nomination, a movie deal, and more. If you haven’t already heard of Wesley Chu, I suggest that now is the time to sit up and take notice.

Time Salvager is a great place to start. It’s a fast-paced time travel adventure featuring what Wesley describes as “an energy stealing time traveler with addiction issues.” After the announcement, Tor quickly shipped a small number of advance copies to the Nebula weekend here in Chicago in early June, and I was lucky enough to grab one. It opens with a tense scene on the bridge of a starship on the verge of destruction, and things accelerate quickly from there.

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Future Treasures: The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin

Monday, June 22nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Fifth Season Jemisin-smallIn 2010 I attended a reading at Wiscon, Madison’s premiere SF convention. One of the readers was a relative unknown named N.K. Jemisin, whose first novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, was still five months from release. There were many talented readers in the room, but the moment Jemisin began reading it became apparent that she was something very special. Her voice was sure, her prose sparkled, and the story grabbed your attention instantly. I enjoy a lot of things about this hobby, but there’s nothing else quite like stumbling upon a stellar new talent.

If you were one of the early readers of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, you probably have an idea how it felt to be sitting in that room in Madison. In the last five years Jemisin has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Tiptree, Crawford, and Gemmell awards — she’s no longer a “new” talent, and expectations for her latest book run very high indeed. But if you still enjoy the thrill of the new, you can get in on the ground floor of a brand new fantasy series from N.K. Jemisin when Orbit releases The Fifth Season, the first volume of The Broken Earth, in early August.

This is the Way the World Ends. For the Last Time.

A season of endings has begun.

It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.

It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.

It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

The Fifth Season will be published by Orbit on August 4, 2015. It is 512 pages, priced at $15.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition.

New Treasures: Legends of the Duskwalker by Jay Posey

Monday, June 22nd, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Legends of the Duskwalker Three-small Legends of the Duskwalker Morningside Fall-small Legends of the Duskwalker Dawnbreaker-small

Jay Posey’s writing career is rich and varied, and he’s had more success than the vast majority of writers of his generation… but that doesn’t mean you’re likely to have heard of him. That’s because Posey is primarily a videogame writer. As the Senior Narrative Designer at Red Storm Entertainment, he’s spent over eight years writing for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six franchises, and his stories have been enjoyed by millions of fans around the world.

For his first novel Three, the opening book in the Legends of the Duskwalker series, Posey tried his hand at a futuristic weird western, and succeeded in reaching a brand new audience. Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the series features augmented humans, advanced weaponry, cyborgs, and dangerous creatures known as the Weir

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Future Treasures: Thrones & Bones: Nightborn by Lou Anders

Saturday, June 20th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Thrones & Bones Nightborn-smallLou Anders sent ripples through the entire industry last September when he stepped down as the Editorial Director at Pyr, where he’d launched one of the most successful and acclaimed new SF and fantasy imprints in a decade. What could possibly lure Lou away from such a stellar career? The breakout success of his first novel, Thrones & Bones: Frostborn, a middle-grade fantasy that was the start of an exciting new series. The second volume, Nightborn, finally arrives next month.

Karn Korlundsson is a gamer. Not a riddle solver. But in order to rescue his best friend, Thianna Frostborn, he will need to travel to the faraway city of Castlebriar (by wyvern), learn how to play a new board game called Charioteers (not a problem), decipher the Riddle of the Horn, and tangle with mysterious elves.

Meet Desstra. She’s in training to join the Underhand — the elite agents of the dark elves. When she crosses paths with Karn, she is not all that she appears to be.

Everyone is chasing after the horn of Osius, an ancient artifact with the power to change the world. The lengths to which Karn will go in the name of friendship will be sorely tested. Who knew that solving a riddle could be so deadly?

In an article for Black Gate last August Lou described his ambitions for Thrones & Bones, saying “I set out to build a world that would invoke all the sense of wonder I’d experienced myself as a reader, as large in scope and scale as Nehwon, or Greyhawk, or the Young Kingdoms.” Those ambitions are very clear in Nightborn, which also includes instructions for playing the game Charioteers featured in the novel.

Thrones & Bones: Nightborn will be published by Crown Books for Young Readers on July 14, 2015. It is 351 pages, priced at $16.99 in hardcover and $10.99 for the digital edition. Cover by Justin Gerard. Check out ThronesandBones.com for additional games, maps, character profiles, and more.

Future Treasures: Frostgrave: Tales of the Frozen City edited by Joseph McCullough

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Frostgrave Tales of the Frozen City-smallJoseph McCullough is the author of one of the most popular articles in Black Gate history, “The Demarcation of Sword and Sorcery,” which today is considered one of the defining texts on the genre. He’s published fiction in BG and elsewhere, and is currently Project Manager for Osprey Adventures.

His latest project is the wargame Frostgrave: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City, coming in July from Osprey. In support of the new game, Osprey is also publishing Frostgrave: Tales of the Frozen City, a new anthology edited by Joe which contains ten original stories telling the tale of wizards and other adventurers, as they venture into the ruins of the Frozen City.

Long ago, the great city of Felstad sat at the centre of a magical empire. Its towering spires, labyrinthine catacombs and immense libraries were the wonder of the age, and potions, scrolls and mystical items of all descriptions poured from its workshops. Then, one cataclysmic night, a mistake was made. In some lofty tower or dark chamber, a foolish wizard unleashed a magic too powerful to control. A storm rose up, an epic blizzard that swallowed the city whole, burying it deep and leaving the empire as nothing more than a vast, frozen wasteland. The empire shattered, and the magic of the world faded. As the centuries came and went, Felstad passed from history to legend and on into myth. Only a few wizards, clinging to the last remnants of magical knowledge, still believed that the lost city had ever actually existed. But their faith was rewarded.

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Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters edited by Janet Morris

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 | Posted by Fletcher Vredenburgh

oie_15175053GW6bP5j3For the past several months I kept seeing notices for the coming release of Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters. Edited by Janet Morris, one of the true heavies in heroic fantasy, and someone I have known online for several years now, I knew this was a book I was going to be reading. That its table of contents included several writers I’m a big fan of as well as many whose names I’m starting to hear good things about made it look better and better. That it’s about killing dragons sealed the deal. So when John O’Neill asked if I wanted to review it and I could have an e-book of it, I said “YES!”

I’m happy to report that with all that buildup, it’s a terrific bunch of stories. Anthologies are great because you can pick them up and dive in anywhere and take a short, rewarding excursion into whatever genre it is. I generally don’t read anthologies from cover to cover in a short period of time. Reading for this review it turned out I wanted a break from dragon-killing when I tried to finish the book in only a few big sessions. There are a few stories that aren’t to my taste, but there are no clunkers and some real treasures in this book.

The stories, and there are seventeen of them, are presented chronologically — well, the ones set in the real world anyway. Those set in more fantastical settings are fit in among the medieval ones. In the earliest tales dragons stand toe-to-toe with the gods. Slowly, they lose that stature and become mere monsters. Deadly, true, but no longer forces of raw, elemental chaos. Eventually they’re regarded only as mythical. In the future, scientific explanations have to be found for their existence.

Janet and Chris Morris’ “The First Dragon Eater” opens the book. Narrated by Kella, a priest of Tarhunt, it tells of the battles between the Storm God, Tarhunt, and the dragon, Illuyankas. Taken from Hattan myth, it’s probably one of the earliest tales of dragon-killing. The story’s style — formal sounding, as if something recited in a temple — lends gravitas to the introduction of the monstrous worms that figure in so many world myths and fantasy stories.

“Legacy of the Great Dragon” by S.E. Lindberg moves forward into ancient Egypt, as Thoth, physician of the gods, helps Horus to find power to avenge the death of his father, Osiris, at the hands of Set. This is a wild piece, with a cosmically huge dragon and gods fighting inside of it.

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