Civil War was one of the biggest events in Marvel Comics roughly a decade ago, pitting Spider-Man, Iron Man and a host of other heroes against a tiny contingent led by Captain America. Marvel Studios has made a major effort to replicate the crossover impact of that event in the upcoming movie, which features a bevy of guest stars… see how many you can spot in the trailer above (hint: it’s a LOT.) Captain America: Civil War will be released on May 6, 2016.
Megan E. O’Keefe has published stories in Shimmer and Writers of the Future Volume 30. Her first novel launches an ambitious fantasy series set in an oasis city, featuring a noble conman on the run from some very powerful people who stumbles onto a complicated conspiracy… and a chance to pull off a heist of epic proportions.
Detan Honding, a wanted conman of noble birth and ignoble tongue, has found himself in the oasis city of Aransa. He and his trusted companion Tibs may have pulled off one too many cons against the city’s elite and need to make a quick escape. They set their sight’s on their biggest heist yet — the gorgeous airship of the exiled commodore Thratia.
But in the middle of his scheme, a face changer known as a doppel starts murdering key members of Aransa’s government. The sudden paranoia makes Detan’s plans of stealing Thratia’s ship that much harder. And with this sudden power vacuum, Thratia can solidify her power and wreck havoc against the Empire. But the doppel isn’t working for Thratia and has her own intentions. Did Detan accidentally walk into a revolution and a crusade? He has to be careful — there’s a reason most people think he’s dead. And if his dangerous secret gets revealed, he has a lot more to worry about than a stolen airship.
Steal the Sky is the first volume of The Scorched Continent. It will be published by Angry Robot on January 5, 2016. It is 448 pages, priced at $7.99 in paperback and $6.99 for the digital edition.
Skinner Luce. What kind of a title is ‘Skinner Luce?’ If I were publishing my first fantasy novel, I probably wouldn’t call it that. Then again, if I were publishing my first fantasy novel, I’d probably call it, Orcs Invade Illinois Grab Your Pitchforks and CHARGE!!!! So maybe no one should listen to me.
Complex characters and taut, poignant writing highlight this hardened literary fantasy set in the frigid winters of present-day Boston.
Every year when the deep cold of winter sets in, unbeknownst to humanity, dangerous visitors arrive from another world. Disguised as humans, the Nafikh move among us in secret, hungry for tastes of this existence. Their fickle, often-violent needs must be accommodated at all times, and the price of keeping them satisfied is paid most heavily by servs.
Created by the Nafikh to attend their every whim, servs are physically indistinguishable from humans but for the Source, the painful, white-hot energy that both animates and enslaves them. Destined to live in pain, unable to escape their bondage, servs dwell in a bleak underworld where life is brutal and short.
Lucy is a serv who arrived as a baby and by chance was adopted by humans. She’s an outcast among outcasts, struggling to find a place where she truly belongs. For years she has been walking a tightrope, balancing between the horrors of her serv existence and the ordinary life she desperately longs to maintain; her human family unaware of her darkest secrets.
But when the body of a serv child turns up and Lucy is implicated in the gruesome death, the worlds she’s tried so hard to keep separate collide. Hounded by the police, turned upon by the servs who once held her dear, she must protect her family and the life she’s made for herself.
Skinner Luce will be published by Talos Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, on January 12, 2016. It is 343 pages, priced at $24.99 in hardcover. Cover by Anna Dittmann.
Helen Lowe’s The Wall of Night has been getting some good press. The opening volume won the Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Debut, and the second was nominated for the 2013 David Gemmell Legend Award. At my old stomping grounds SF Site, Katherine Petersen kicked off her review of the second volume as follows:
Helen Lowe’s Wall of Night series has the potential to become a classic, right up there with the likes of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. The Gathering of the Lost is the second of this four-book series and takes us deeper into the world of Haarth where the first book, The Heir of Night, mostly introduced us to Malian, heir to the House of Night and her friend and ally Kalan, both of the Derai. The nine houses of the Derai garrison a large, rugged mountain range that gives the series its title. But after the Keep of Winds where Malian grew up was breached five years ago by long-time Derai enemies, the Darkswarm, it’s the whole land of Haarth, not just the Derai in jeopardy…
Lowe has a lyrical prose style that often seems more like poetry. Sometimes it seems writers try too hard to evoke their characters or surroundings, but for Lowe it seems effortless.
Gail Z. Martin has a fine reputation among sword & sorcery fans, and I’ve followed her career with keen interest. She’s produced no less than three series in the last eight years: the four-volume Chronicles of the Necromancer, the two-volume Fallen Kings Cycle, and the Ascendant Kingdoms trilogy. She’s also the author of Iron and Blood, the opening book in a new steampunk series co-authored with her husband Larry N. Martin.
But I missed Deadly Curiosities, the first novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charlotte, North Carolina, when it came out last year. Which is a pity, because I think this might be her most appealing one yet. Following the proprietors of an antique shop whose owners track down and eliminate deadly artifacts, Deadly Curiosities revealed “a realistic underworld” (Publishers Weekly) and included “pirates and smugglers whose deaths are tied to the evil threatening the city… Martin is clearly in her element” (Fiction Vortex).
In the new volume Vendetta, on sale next month, Martin ratchets up the tension as Cassidy and Teag find themselves squaring off against an unknown enemy with strong magic, powerful resources… and a very long memory.
Child of a Hidden Sea, the first novel in A. M. Dellamonica’s new fantasy trilogy The Hidden Sea Tales, was published in hardcover last June. It introduced us to twenty-four-year-old Sophie Hansa, who found herself transported from a San Francisco alley into the warm and salty waters of Stormwrack, the magical world where her birth parents met. Stormwrack is a world of island nations with a variety of cultures — and where a hidden conspiracy could destroy everything she has just discovered. With the help of a sister she has never known, and a ship captain who would rather she had never arrived, she navigated the shoals of the highly charged politics of Stormwrack… until she found herself effectively deported from Stormwrack. You can read an excerpt at Tor.com, and the digital version is available now for just $2.99.
The second novel in the trilogy, A Daughter of No Nation, will be released from Tor Books on December 1. Here’s the plot synopsis, and a link to a brand new excerpt.
Molly Tanzer, author of Vermillion, in her blurb for Holly Messinger’s upcoming novel The Curse of Jacob Tracy, says “The weird western renaissance is upon us!” Pretty high praise for a debut fantasy novel. If, like me, you’re a fan of the Weird Western, I think it might be rewarding to pay attention to this one.
St. Louis in 1880 is full of ghosts — mangled soldiers, tortured slaves, the innocent victims of war — and Jacob Tracy can see them all. Ever since Antietam, when he lay delirious among the dead and dying, Trace has been haunted by the country’s restless spirits. The curse cost him his family, his calling to the church, and damn near his sanity. He stays out of ghost-populated cities as much as possible these days, guiding wagon trains West with his pragmatic and skeptical partner, Boz.
Then, just before the spring rush, Trace gets a letter from the wealthy and reclusive Sabine Fairweather. Sickly, sharp-tongued, and far too clever for her own good, Miss Fairweather needs a worthy man to retrieve a dead friend’s legacy from a nearby town — or so she says. When the errand proves far more sinister than advertised, Miss Fairweather admits to knowing about Trace’s curse, and suggests she might be able to help him — in exchange for a few more odd jobs.
Trace has no interest in being her pet psychic, but he’s been searching eighteen years for a way to curb his unruly curse, and Miss Fairweather’s knowledge of the spirit world is too tempting to ignore. As she steers him into one macabre situation after another, his powers flourish, and Trace begins to realize some good might be done with this curse of his. But Miss Fairweather is harboring some dark secrets of her own, and her meddling has brought Trace to the attention of something much older and more dangerous than any ghost.
The Curse of Jacob Tracy will be published by Thomas Dunne Books on December 1, 2015. It is 320 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $12.99 for the digital edition.
Frederic S. Durbin’s short story “World’s End” appeared in Black Gate 15, our last print issue, and it instantly made him a favorite among our readers. In his review of the issue, Matthew Wuertz called it “full of action, with a bit of humor… a very fast read.”
Fred’s first novel was Dragonfly (1999), and his second, The Star Shard, was released in 2012. I’ve been anxiously awaiting his third, so I was delighted to learn that he’s part of the Renaissance in modern fantasy going on at Saga Press. A Green and Ancient Light will be released next June.
The first two novels set on the world of Sanctuary were Flesh and Spirit (2007) and Breath and Bone (2008). She returned to Sanctuary with Dust and Light last year, which BG writer D. B. Jackson called “A tale of magic and politics, of intrigue and betrayal.” Now she concludes the saga of a sorcerer whose past is veiled in shadows with Ash and Silver.
Ever since the Order of the Equites Cineré stole his memory, his name, and his heart, thinking about the past makes Greenshank’s head ache. After two years of rigorous training, he is almost ready to embrace the mission of the Order — to use selfless magic to heal the troubles of Navronne. But on his first assignment alone, the past comes racing back, threatening to drown him in conspiracy, grief, and murder.
He is Lucian de Remeni — a sorcerer whose magical bents for portraiture and history threaten the safety of the earth and the future of the war-riven kingdom of Navronne. He just can’t remember how or why.
Fighting to unravel the mysteries of his power, Lucian must trace threads of corruption that reach from the Pureblood Registry into the Order itself, the truth hidden two centuries in the past and beyond the boundaries of the world…
Ash and Silver will be published by Roc on December 1, 2015. It is 475 pages, priced at $16 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition. The cover art is by Gene Mollica.
Ian Tregillis is the author of the Milkweed alternate history trilogy for Tor (Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War, and Necessary Evil), and Something More Than Night, a murder mystery set in heaven. Emily Mah interviewed him for us in 2012.
His latest fantasy series is The Alchemy Wars trilogy, an epic tale of liberation and war. The first novel, The Mechanical, was released in March; Publishers Weekly called it “Superb alternate history filled with clockwork men and ethical questions on the nature of free will… rich characters and gripping story really make this tale soar,” and it was cited by Flavorwire as one of the 10 Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels of 2015 (So Far). The second, The Rising, will be released early next month.
Jax, a rogue Clakker, has wreaked havoc upon the Clockmakers’ Guild by destroying the Grand Forge. Reborn in the flames, he must begin his life as a free Clakker, but liberation proves its own burden.
Berenice, formerly the legendary spymaster of New France, mastermind behind her nation’s attempts to undermine the Dutch Hegemony — has been banished from her homeland and captured by the Clockmakers Guild’s draconian secret police force.
Meanwhile, Captain Hugo Longchamp is faced with rallying the beleaguered and untested defenders of Marseilles-in-the-West for the inevitable onslaught from the Brasswork Throne and its army of mechanical soldiers.
The Rising will be published by Orbit Books on December 1, 2015. It is 480 pages, priced at $16.99 in trade paperback and $9.99 for the digital edition.