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Category: New Treasures

New Treasures: The Black Coast by Mike Brooks

New Treasures: The Black Coast by Mike Brooks

Mike Brooks’ Dark Run space opera trilogy was published in 2016/17, and was warmly received. Kirkus Reviews called it an “old-fashioned space Western… an entertaining page-turner,” and Andrew Liptak at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog said it “deserves to be this year’s break out. A space opera in the rollicking tradition of Timothy Zahn [and] John Scalzi…”

For the past few years Brooks has been playing around in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, writing novels like Rites of Passage and Brutal Kunnin’. This spring he re-invented himself again, this time as an epic fantasy novelist, kicking off The God-King Chronicles series with the novel The Black Coast. It was named an Amazon Editors’ Pick for Best SFF in February, and Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review. Here’s a snippet from their enthusiastic review.

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Guided by an Unknown Destiny: Eda Blessed II by Milton J. Davis

Guided by an Unknown Destiny: Eda Blessed II by Milton J. Davis

Eda Blessed II

Juneteenth was just marked a federal holiday in the United States to commemorate the June 19th, 1866 end to slavery. Like many memorial dates, it resonates with equal parts celebration and reflection. This June 19th, 2021, we highlight the book release of Eda Blessed II, appropriately published by a champion of Black Speculative Fiction, Milton Davis (author and editor of MVmedia, a publishing company specializing in Afrofuturism, and Steamfunk). Notably, Milton Davis has been a proponent and publisher of works by Sword & Soul originator Charles Saunders who is known for his Imaro/Nyumbani series (check out the tour guide to the Imaro Series on Black Gate). Omari Ket is the protagonist of Eda Blessed and his first name is an anagram for Imaro, but apparently, that was not done intentionally; in any event, Omari is a very different personality than Imaro.

Omari Ket is a rogue warrior; an Agency onto himself

From the first Eda Blessed, we know that Omari Ket is a rogue warrior, not a spy, but he is as suave, cunning, and as lethal as any Secret Agent Man. ‘Agency’ is a term for the capacity of a character to act independently, and Omari is an Agency onto himself: he reports to no one. Omari is a ladies’ man in a dog-eat-dog world. If you like a cut-throat, libertine, action-oriented protagonist, then you are ‘Eda Blessed.’ 

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Panic at the Inferno: MYSTICS IN HELL, published by Perseid Press

Panic at the Inferno: MYSTICS IN HELL, published by Perseid Press

Mystics in Hell, published by Perseid Press. Copyright © 2021, Janet Morris  
Book design, A.L. Butcher. Cover design, A.L. Butcher and Roy Mauritsen. Edited by, Janet Morris and A.L. Butcher. Cover painting: Portrait of Sir Francis Dashwood, 11th Baron le Despenser, by William Hogarth, 1764. Oil on canvas. Mystics in Hell cover image, copyright © Perseid Press, 2021

“It’s just because I have picked a little about mystics that I have no use for mystagogues. Real mystics don’t hide mysteries, they reveal them. They set a thing up in broad daylight, and when you’ve seen it it’s still a mystery. But the mystagogues hide a thing in darkness and secrecy, and when you find it, it’s a platitude.” ― G. K. Chesterton

After a few unforeseen delays, Mystics in Hell has finally arrived. This is the latest edition in the long-running, shared-universe series, Heroes in Hell. The gathering of real people from across our historical timeline, and the casting of fictional characters born of myth and legend, folklore and literature, is what makes this such a unique and fun series. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the series or for those readers who may wish to be brought up to date, once again I’ll do my best to recap what’s been happening in our favorite Afterlife. 

Mystics in Hell follows on the hot hooves of Lovers in Hell and the two volumes preceding it. The plagues which first manifested themselves in Doctors in Hell are evolving and mutating. In Pirates in Hell, disastrous floods swept through Hell, leaving behind wrack and ruin, and new islands and coastlines. The damned sought the help of pirates and other seafarers, seeking refuge and passage, hoping to escape to dry land and whatever safe harbor they could find. But there is no such thing as a safe harbor in Hell, and there is no escape. 

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Future Treasures: The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2020, edited by Rich Horton

Future Treasures: The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2020, edited by Rich Horton

The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2020,
edited by Rich Horton (Prime Books, June 2021). Cover by Argus

The print version of Rich Horton’s 12th Year’s Best volume was delayed roughly six months by the pandemic, and it finally arrives next week. The delay was a little frustrating for those of us who look forward to this book every year, but considering how deeply the pandemic impacted the publishing world overall, I figure it could have been a lot worse. (The digital version has been available since December, but I remain stubbornly a print guy.)

Rich’s introductions to the early volumes belonged to the get-out-of-the-way-and let-the-fiction-do-the-talking school, but over the years they’ve loosened up a bit, and this year’s is one of his best, a lively and thoughtful look at the impact of this very eventful year on science fiction, and some thoughts on famous genre pandemic fiction. Here’s part of his comments on the tales within.

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Sword & Planet is Back! Scott Oden Presents: The Lost Empire of Sol, edited by Jason M Waltz and Fletcher Vredenburgh

Sword & Planet is Back! Scott Oden Presents: The Lost Empire of Sol, edited by Jason M Waltz and Fletcher Vredenburgh

Cover art by M. D. Jackson

This reviews Scott Oden Presents: The Lost Empire of Sol brought to you by the Rogue Blades Foundation. This is a fine collection that certainly achieved its mission of inserting a jolt into Sword & Planet offeringsWith its interesting premise and cast of authors, The Lost Empire of Sol is destined to become a historic Sword & Planet anthology.

It is edited by two who are well known to the Black Gate community. Firstly, Jason M. Waltz, champion of Rogue Blades Entertainment and the Rogue Blades Foundation, is notorious for rounding up contemporary authors in themed anthologies (perhaps most well known for the 2008 Sword & Sorcery classic Return of the Sword …. and most currently known for Robert E. Howard Changed My Life releasing ~now (appropriately on June 11th, REH’s anniversary of passing). And we also have Fletcher Vredenburgh, well known for his outstanding reviews, who provides the “Foreword”: he explains how discussions on Facebook with Scott Oden (adored author of historical fiction, Conan pastiche, and the Grimnir series) escalated into this collection.  Also, to dimension the genre and set the stage for a revival is the esteemed John O’Neill (our esteemed chief editor of Black Gate Magazine) provides an introductory essay “Sword & Planet is the Genre We Need.” 

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New Treasures: Hooting Grange by Jeffrey E. Barlough

New Treasures: Hooting Grange by Jeffrey E. Barlough

Hooting Grange, eleventh volume in Jeffrey E. Barlough’s Northern Lights series,
published March 2021 by Gresham & Doyle. Cover “The Close Gate” by Ernest William Haslehust.

One of the most popular fantasy series in the Black Gate offices these days doesn’t come from a major Manhattan publisher. In fact, it doesn’t come from traditional publishing at all. For the last 23 years Jeffrey E. Barlough has quietly been writing one of the strongest and most unusual fantasy epics on the market, put out by tiny California publishing house Gresham and Doyle.

Jackson Kuhl describes the eleven volume Northern Lights series as “kinda-sorta gaslamp fantasy, except there doesn’t seem to be any natural gas. Barlough’s creation is best described as a Victorian Dying Earth — gothic and claustrophobic… mastodons and mylodons mixed with ghosts and gorgons.”

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Dinosaurs, Steampunk, and an Indiana Jones-style Adventure: Turn Over the Moon by Ryan Harvey

Dinosaurs, Steampunk, and an Indiana Jones-style Adventure: Turn Over the Moon by Ryan Harvey

Sorrowful and Sorrowless Fear neither Moon nor Sun,

Side by side, we flip the stones…

…Until both can claim we’ve won.

Last October, Black Gate alerted folks to the Turn Over the Moon’s Kickstarter campaign which brought Ryan Harvey’s world of Ahn-Tarqa into novel form (with Dream Tower Media). That journey began a decade prior and we’ll cover the ancillary tales leading up to that. Although a prequel and side stories exist, be assured that the novel feels designed to be the gateway into this Sorrow-laden world. Have no fear (or Sorrow) and enter here (with Turn Over the Moon).

The subtitle “Saga of the Sorrowless Book #1” had me gearing up for an epic fantasy in which (a) most mysteries would resolve in subsequent books and (b) the pace may be slower than the short stories I typically read. That would have been fine, of course, but Harvey (who already has proven himself a master of the short form) pleasantly delivers a cross-breed of short-story style with typical novel form: there are mysteries, but you get to learn them speedily, and the pace is super-charged. The opening chapters will have you wondering (no worries, no spoilers here): (1) who are the Shapers, (2) how the heck does the prevailing Sorrow connect to the heroine, world, and conflict, and (3) who is the mystery woman? I won’t tell you here but rejoice in knowing that the revelations are engaging and explained satisfyingly within the covers.

“The Shapers can reach me in my dreams. I escaped their clutches once, but in the blackness of sleep they tear open the walls of my head and slither inside. In each nightmare they glare down on me as they once glared down on all the land, from the edge of the eastern desert to the dwindling tip of the western peninsula. As they once glared down on my father, bound across his own workbench for their tortures. Even though their eyes are drowned within the dark slits of their masks, I can feel their stares. The robes hiding their bodies flutter around me in a barrier. There is nothing beyond.” — the teenage heroine Belde

Abandon all Sorrow, all ye who enter here!

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Criminal Dragons and a Brotherhood of Thieves: The Broken God, Book 3 of The Black Iron Legacy by Gareth Hanrahan

Criminal Dragons and a Brotherhood of Thieves: The Broken God, Book 3 of The Black Iron Legacy by Gareth Hanrahan

The Black Iron Legacy trilogy (Orbit Books). Cover art by Richard Anderson

Gareth Hanrahan first got my attention with his top-notch work in the RPG industry for Ashen Stars, Trail of Cthulhu, and Traveller. That served him well when he released his breakout debut novel The Gutter Prayer, which was roundly praised. Holly at GrimDark Magazine wrote:

To say that the hype surrounding this book is intense would be an understatement. Anticipation levels have been through the goddamn roof… Briefly, it features three friends, thieves, who get caught up in an ongoing magical battle. Shenanigans abound…. It’s evident that Hanrahan writes role-playing games, because he took all of the best things from RPG’s & made it into something even more mesmerizing within this fantasy epic. The world building is just wondrous.

The second volume in the series. The Shadow Saint, was released in January of last year; Fantasy Inn labeled it “brilliant” and Publishers Weekly called it “epic, surreal… mixes diplomacy, espionage, and religion to excellent effect.” Volume three, The Broken God, arrives this week, and it’s one of the most anticipated fantasy releases of the year in our offices. Here’s the publisher’s description.

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New Treasures: Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

New Treasures: Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Rivers Solomon’s debut novel An Unkindness of Ghosts was one of the breakout books of 2017, listed as a best book of the year in The Guardian, NPR, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and others, a finalist for the Locus, Lambda, Tiptree, and John W. Campbell Awards. Faer latest novel Sorrowland was published this week, and Bookpage calls it “terrifying… a truly powerful piece of storytelling.” Here’s the publisher’s description.

Vern — seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised — flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.

But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.

To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future — outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.

Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland is a genre-bending work of Gothic fiction. Here, monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire nations. It is a searing, seminal book that marks the arrival of a bold, unignorable voice in American fiction.

Sorrowland was published by MCD on May 4, 2021. It is 368 pages, priced at $27 in hardcover, $13.99 in digital formats, and $50.99 in audio formats.

See all our recent New Treasures here.

A Uniquely Terrifying Voice: To Drown in Dark Water by Steve Toase

A Uniquely Terrifying Voice: To Drown in Dark Water by Steve Toase

To Drown in Dark Water (Undertow Publications, April 2021). Cover by Stefan Koidl

Undertow Publications, one of the finest small press publishers on the continent, just announced Open Submissions for novels and novellas. It’s caused a huge swell of excitement among many of the writing circles I keep tabs on — and a flurry of folks asking, “Wait, what kind of books do they want?”

Read the guidelines, people. Even better, pick up one of their excellent previous releases, including Simon Strantzas’s Nothing is Everything, V. H. Leslie’s Skein and Bone, Grotesquerie by Richard Gavin, or their top-notch magazine Weird Horror.

Or you could buy their latest, Steve Toase’s debut collection To Drown in Dark Water, just released this week with a magnificently creepy cover by Stefan Koidl. It’s already accumulated strong notices. Nathan Ballingrud calls it “an outstanding first collection,” and Bram Stoker winner Sarah Read says:

There are masters of folk horror and masters of weird horror; there are masters of cosmic horror and masters of psychological horror. But on the Venn diagram where all those intersect, there is only Steve Toase. To Drown in Dark Water is a masterpiece.

Here’s a quote from the rave review at Booklist.

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