Sunday, November 29, 2009

Books in the Mail (W/E 11/29/2009)

Turkey week brought only one arrival.

Roadkill (Cal Leandros #5) by Rob Thurman (Roc Paperback 03/02/2010) – This series seems quite popular, with five books since 2006, that makes a pretty good track record.

It's time to lock, load, and hit the road...

Once, while half-human Cal Leandros and his brother Niko were working on a case, an ancient gypsy queen gave them a good old-fashioned backstabbing. Now, just as their P.I. business hits a slow patch, the old crone shows up with a job.

She wants them to find a stolen coffin that contains a blight that makes the Black Death seem like a fond memory. But the thief has already left town, so the Leandros brothers are going on the road. And if they're very, very lucky, there might even be a return trip...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Slew of Reviews - Anders, Bullington, Butcher, Forbes, and Hill

We at SFFWorld wanted to give you plenty of reviews to read over the next week, which here in the US is Thanksgiving. I’ve got my usual review, Dan has a review and Mark went ballistic and posted three reviews.

As promised last week, I finished off and reviewed the third in David Forbes’s Osserian Saga, The Commanding Stone:

One thing that becomes apparent with each volume in this saga is that David Forbes has a clear vision of where he is taking these characters. Forbes also raises the stakes in this volume, with the threat of returning dragons as a clear indicator that Gerin’s awakening to power as the Amber Wizard was just the first of vast and legendary powers returning to the world.

The novel begins with one young man, Tyne, putting the body of his brother to eternal rest. When the legendary Vanil, giants, awakened in the previous volume, Tyne’s brother was killed. Tyne is grieving, wishing for some kind of retribution, and blames Gerin for his brother’s death. His wish is granted in the form of the titular Commanding Stone, which allows him to bend the will of dragons to his wishes. In short, Tyne makes a deal with the devil, or the Adversary as he’s known in Forbes’s world.

Dan reviewed what the second original anthology Lou Anders has edited for Pyr:, Fast Forward:

Lou Anders says in his introduction: What follows are fourteen tales, from the comedic to the cautionary, as different as the seventeen writers who penned them, as current as tomorrow, and as wild as imagination –and the only constant in them is the reality and inevitability of change. Because, as this volume testifies, the future lies ahead of us, and it’s coming fast..
Mitigation, Karl Schroeder & Tobias S. Buckell - A few years from now, with global warming wreaking astonishing second and third order havoc, the seeds secreted away at Svalbard become booty, a treasure some countries want to acquire for their own survival, not by using them but by ransoming them. A man and a woman set out to prevent this disaster but their individual solutions differ. A nice twist tells us who succeeded.
As I said, Mark reviewed three books, the first I’ll link to is the 9th Dresden Files novel by Jim Butcher, White Night:

So, as we reach Book Nine of the Dresden Files series (yes, Book Nine!) what can we say that hasn’t already been said?

Surely, by this point fans are already converted and newbies pointed towards earlier books?

Usually by this point, it’s all been done. Hasn’t it?

Well, White Night is still determinedly Dresden. There’s still that dark humour and dry, Butcher drawl spoken through Harry. There’s still the broad range of engaging supporting characters. As you might expect from this far into a series, much of the tale derives its entertainment not from telling anything particularly new but rather from the development of characters and events earlier in the novels.

Another book Mark reviewed is the debut from Jess Bullington, The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington:

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington is a morality tale for characters with no morals. It is dark, cynical, and at times unpleasant, VERY unpleasant. And yet, in that strange watching a car-crash manner, an enthralling read.

Written in the style of a Brothers Grimm tale, the story tells of Hegel and Manfried Grossbart, whose ugliness on the outside pales to insignificance with their internal malaise. They think nothing of setting alight people who they think have wronged them, of cracking skulls and breaking limbs when the needs arise, whilst often debating their actions in the highest of moral tones..

Lastly, Mark took a look at an interesting non-fiction memoir of one woman’s year of reading, Susan Hill’s Howards End is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home:

Howards End is on the Landing is a diary cum memoir of a writer’s efforts to do this. At first, such a book may sound dull or quaint. What can you say about books without going into details about each book? How far can you go before such a monologue becomes annoying?

It’s not an easy job, but Susan Hill manages it. Perhaps it should be expected, for Susan Hill’s reputation as a publisher (Long Barn Books) and a writer (ghost stories The Woman in Black and The Man Who Turned Into a Picture, for example) is well known in England, if not elsewhere.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Books in the Mail (W/E 11/22/2009)

A nice slow week of arrivals here at the o’ Stuff.

Metal Gear Solid 2: The Novel: Sons of Liberty by Raymond Benson (Del Rey, Trade Paperback 11/24/2009) – Del Rey keeps churning out these video game novelizations. .

In a torrential downpour, former FOXHOUND agent Solid Snake stands on the George Washington Bridge–ready to launch himself onto the deck of the U.S.S. Discovery as it passes below. Inside Discovery is a new generation of Metal Gear. But in the next hour, Snake’s world explodes.

Two years later, a young, unproven agent code-named Raiden must penetrate the mystery of what went so insanely wrong that night.

In a labyrinthine superstructure in New York Harbor known as the Big Shell, enemies, allies, secret agents, and double-dealers converge: Russian commandos, a cyber Vamp, a long-legged, leather-clad, rifle-bearing beauty named Fortune, a deformed, finely manicured bomber called Fatman, and a mysterious Mister X. Somewhere in the maze, as well, is the president himself–his biometrics coded to a bomb that can take out Manhattan, his loyalties unknown. Now the rookie Raiden is fighting his way to one discovery after another, including the rebirth of Solid Snake himself and a nightmare organization with a history, a plan, and a terrifying superweapon hidden in plain sight.

Dynasty of Evil (A Darth Bane 3#) by Drew Karpyshyn (Del Rey/Star Wars Books Hardcover 12/08/2009) – These Darth Bane books seem to be pretty well received and considering Karpyshyn had a big hand in crafting the early early days of Star Wars in the Knights of the Old Republic games, this isn’t too much of a surprise.

Twenty years have passed since Darth Bane, reigning Dark Lord of the Sith, demolished the ancient order devoted to the dark side and reinvented it as a circle of two: one Master to wield the power and pass on the wisdom, and one apprentice to learn, challenge, and ultimately usurp the Dark Lord in a duel to the death. But Bane’s acolyte, Zannah, has yet to engage her Master in mortal combat and prove herself a worthy successor. Determined that the Sith dream of galactic domination will not die with him, Bane vows to learn the secret of a forgotten Dark Lord that will assure the Sith’s immortality–and his own.

A perfect opportunity arises when a Jedi emissary is assassinated on the troubled mining planet Doan, giving Bane an excuse to dispatch his apprentice on a fact-finding mission–while he himself sets out in secret to capture the ancient holocron of Darth Andeddu and its precious knowledge. But Zannah is no fool. She knows that her ruthless Master has begun to doubt her, and she senses that he is hiding something crucial to her future. If she is going to claim the power she craves, she must take action now.

While Bane storms the remote stronghold of a fanatical Sith cult, Zannah prepares for her Master’s downfall by choosing an apprentice of her own: a rogue Jedi cunning and cold-blooded enough to embrace the Sith way and to stand beside her when she at last wrests from Bane the mantle of Dark Lord of the Sith.

But Zannah is not the only one with the desire and power to destroy Darth Bane. Princess Serra of the Doan royal family is haunted by memories of the monstrous Sith soldier who murdered her father and tortured herwhen she was a child. Bent on retribution, she hires a merciless assassin to find her tormentor–and bring him back alive to taste her wrath.

Only a Sith who has taken down her own Master can become Dark Lord of the Sith. So when Bane suddenly vanishes, Zannah must find him–possibly even rescue him–before she can kill him. And so she pursues her quarry from the grim depths of a ravaged world on the brink of catastrophe to the barren reaches of a desert outpost, where the future of the dark side’s most powerful disciples will be decided, once and for all, by the final, fatal stroke of a lightsaber.

Destroyer of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner (Tor , Hardcover 11/23/2009) – I really enjoyed the first of this Ringworld prequel seriesFleet of Worlds, but was very disappointed by the second book Juggler of Worlds last year.

Worlds closer to the galatic core than Known Space are --or were-- home to intelligent speciers. Some learned of the core explosion in time to flee. Destroyer of Worlds opens in 2670, ten years after Juggler of Worlds closes; with refugee species fleeing in an armada of ramscoops in the direction of the Fleet of Worlds. The onrushing aliens are recognized as a threat; they have left in their trail a host of desolated worlds: some raided for supplies, some attacked to eliminate competition, and some for pure xenophobia.

Only the Puppeteers might have the resources to confront this threat--but the Puppeteers are philosophical cowards... they don't confront anyone. They need sepoys to investigate the situation and take action for them. The source of the sepoys? Their newly independent former slave world, New Terra.

Forged by Chaos (Book 3 in the Warhammer : Age of Reckoning series) by C.L. Werner (Black Library Mass Market Paperback 02/14/2009) – Werner is something of a Warhammer veteran and this is the third novelization/companion novel to accompany the popular and acclaimed MMPORG..

All across the Empire, the servants of Emperor Karl Franz's Griffon order are struggling to turn back the armies of Chaos. Two such heroes the witch hunter Udo and the warrior priestess Annaliese are caught up in the conflict as they journey into Reikland in trying to aid the war effort. At Altdorf, the capital of the Empire, the warriors of Karl Franz must make their stand lest all the land be lost to Chaos.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Forbes's Words and Banks's Transitions at SFFWorld

Cue Wacky Radio DJ voice…

It’s Two-fer-Tuesday here at the o’ Stuff! I’m posting links to two, that’s right TWO new reviews at SFFWorld!

It’s been a while since I read David Forbes’s debut novel - The Amber Wizard, but I enjoyed it at the time and thought he started of his writing career (and the trilogy of books) on a good foot. Well, I finished off and reviewed the second in the trilogy, The Words of Making, recently:

Forbes improves on his characterization in this, his second novel. Gerin comes across more genuinely and his emotions are portrayed more realistically. All of the characters from the previous novel, in fact, show more depth in The Words of Making. Other characters do come to the fore, of course. Not the least of which is the Voice of the Exalted, Vethiq aril Tolsadri, the headstrong leader of the Havalqa.

In the Havalqa, Forbes gives readers a nation of religious zealots beholden to a mysterious group of creatures known as Dreamers. These people come across as powerful, uncompromising, and ruthless, but underneath all of that they also wish to prevent the coming of the Great Enemy, which has many of the qualities of the Khedeshian Adversary. While this may seem obvious to the reader, the characters were a little slow to pick up on this relationship.

Dan reviewed what a lot consider a major SF novel of the year by one of the genre’s top writers:, Transitions by Iain M. Banks:

To follow this story, we must keep track of (1) the Concern’s chief interrogator known as The Philosopher, a name earned because he refuses to employ children as tools in his interrogation techniques. (2) Adrian’s life and times, (3) The Pitcher, Mike Esteros, who has a story about aliens he has worked long and hard to produce; and, (4) Patient 8262, an inmate in a mental institution whom we know from the outset is a contrived persona.

Along the way we are going to confront issues such as eternal life through transitioned bodies, is man the best agency for deciding what’s best for humanity, and who is Temudjin Oh?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Books in the Mail (W/E 11/14/2009)

Thankfully, a little break from last week’s gigantic haul, but a couple of really interesting books nonetheless.

Titanicus by Dan Abnett (Black Library 11/24/2009) – This is the fourth Warhammer book I’ve received by Abnett, I reallyl need to get cracking.

When the vital forge world of Orestes comes under attack by a legion of Chaos Titans, the planet is forced to appeal for help. Titan Legio Invicta, although fresh from combat and in desperate need of refit and repair, responds, committing its own force of war engines to the battle. As the god-machines stride to war, the world trembles, for the devastation they unleash could destroy the very world they have pledged to save.

Savage Titan action on an apocalyptic scale and dark political intrigue meet head-on in this Warhammer 40,000 epic.

The Saint (A Gaunt’s Ghost’s Omnibus [#2]) by Dan Abnett (Black Library 08/24/2007) – This is the fifth Warhammer book I’ve received by Abnett, I reallyl need to get cracking.

The second superb omnibus of the phenomenally popular Gaunt's Ghosts series.

The Black Library's flagship military science fiction series is back in a new omnibus edition collecting the books from The Saint sequence (Honour Guard, Guns of Tanith, Straight Silver and Sabbat Martyr). The novels follow the story of Commissar Ibram Gaunt and the Tanith First-and-Only regiment, nicknamed the Ghosts, as they travel from warzone to warzone in the Chaos-infested Sabbat Worlds system. The Ghosts must not only carry out the most dangerous of missions but also survive the deadly politics and in-fighting of the Imperial Guard.

Where Angels Fear to Tread (The Third Remy Chandler novel) by Thomas E. Sniegoski (Roc Trade Paperback 03/02/2009) – The third in Sniegoski’s Urban Fantasy about a former Angel from Heaven who is now a private investigator with supernatural cases. He cranks these books out pretty quickly.

Six year-old Zoe York has been taken and her mother has come to Remy for help. She shows him crude, childlike drawings that she claims are Zoe's visions of the future, everything leading up to her abduction, and some beyond. Like the picture of a man with wings who would come and save her-a man who is an angel.

Zoe's preternatural gifts have made her a target for those who wish to exploit her power to their own destructive ends. The search will take Remy to dark places he would rather avoid. But to save an innocent, Remy will ally himself with a variety of lesser evils-and his soul may pay the price...

Divine Misdemeanors (Meredith Gentry Series #8)by Laurell K. Hamilton (Ballantine, Hardcover 12/29/2009) – This is Hamilton’s series about faeries in modern day, mixed with a healthy dose of eroticism. She’s quite a popular author..

Following on the heels of the heart-stopping conclusion to Swallowing Darkness, Laurell K. Hamilton and Meredith Gentry are back!

Between dark faerie magic and the deepest desires lies the world of Meredith Gentry, princess, private eye, and powerful player in a game of supernatural sexual intrigue. The tension in this extraordinary saga continues to mount as Merry, pregnant with twins, refuses the throne of faerie and retreats with her bodyguards to Los Angeles in an attempt to protect the new life growing within her. Both the deadly destructive factions of the faerie courts -- as well as those who would worship her -- will be equally dangerous to her attempts to create a peaceful haven for her unborn children.

Filled with riveting twists, this new novel adds yet another unforgettable chapter to a story that is both epic and breathtaking..

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Dragon Book by Dann/Dozois

First, let me wish a Happy Birthday to Sesame Street!

Second, the real reason I know all you millions and millions of my readers visit this blog on a Tuesday – review time! Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois have been assembling themed anthologies for nearly twenty years together, which is just a portion of their individual bibliographies. Their latest collaboration The Dragon Book: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy is the subject of my review this week:

Arguably, Dozois is one of the most renowned anthologists (Datlow, Greenberg, and Hartwell/Kramer being the other luminaries) in the genre so an invitation to contribute to an anthology in which he is (one of) the editor(s) is a sign of acceptance in the genre. In this volume he and Dann have pulled together an eclectic array of stories featuring perhaps the most iconic figure of fantasy literature from a solid group of contributors.
Tad Williams plays with language and communication in A Stark and Wormy Night. The clever trick of the story posits humans as the legendary creatures and dragons as the dominant and ‘real’ species of the world. This story was quite a bit of fun.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Books in the Mail (W/E 11/08/2009)

Every time I get one of those really big week of arrivals here at the o' Stuff, I think I won't get a week more arrivals than said week. Well, I'm thinking that this week with all the books to arrive in my mailbox, in front of my garage and on my front porch.

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett (BantamSpectra, Trade Paperback 11/24/2009) – Becket is also known as Mark Anthony.

Galen Beckett weaves a dazzling spell of adventure and suspense in an evocative world of high magick and genteel society–a world where one young woman discovers that her modest life is far more extraordinary than she ever imagined.

Of the three Lockwell sisters–romantic Lily, prophetic Rose, and studious, book-loving Ivy–it’s Ivy, the eldest, who’s held the family together after their father’s silent retreat to the library upstairs. Everyone blames Mr. Lockwell’s malady on his magickal studies, but Ivy still believes–both in magick and in its power to bring her father back.

Yet it is not until Ivy takes a job with the reclusive Mr. Quent that she discovers the fate she shares with a secret society of highwaymen, revolutionaries, illusionists, and spies who populate the island nation of Altania. It’s a fate that will determine whether Altania faces a new dawn–or an everlasting night.

The Silver Skull (A Swords of Albion Book 1) by Mark Chadbourn (Pyr 11/3/2009) – The protagonist of this novel appeared in what I thought was the best story in The Solaris Book of New Fantasy:


Meet Will Swyfte - adventurer, swordsman, rake, swashbuckler, wit, scholar and the greatest of Walsingham's new band of spies. His exploits against the forces of Philip of Spain have made him a national hero, lauded from Carlisle to Kent. Yet his associates can barely disguise their incredulity - what is the point of a spy whose face and name is known across Europe?

But Swyfte's public image is a carefully-crafted façade to give the people of England something to believe in, and to allow them to sleep peacefully at night. It deflects attention from his real work - and the true reason why Walsingham's spy network was established.

A Cold War seethes, and England remains under a state of threat. The forces of Faerie have been preying on humanity for millennia. Responsible for our myths and legends, of gods and fairies, dragons, griffins, devils, imps and every other supernatural menace that has haunted our dreams, this power in the darkness has seen humans as playthings to be tormented, hunted or eradicated.

But now England is fighting back!

Magical defences have been put in place by the Queen's sorcerer Dr John Dee, who is also a senior member of Walsingham's secret service and provides many of the bizarre gadgets utilised by the spies. Finally there is a balance of power. But the Cold War is threatening to turn hot at any moment…

Will now plays a constant game of deceit and death, holding back theEnemy's repeated incursions, dealing in a shadowy world of plots and counter-plots, deceptions, secrets, murder, where no one… and no thing…is quite what it seems.

Plague Zone by Jeff Carlson (Ace, Mass Market Paperback 12/29/2009) – This would be the third book in Carlson’s series which began with Philip K. Dick-nominated The Plague War.

After surviving the machine plague and the world war that followed, nanotech researcher Ruth Goldman and ex-army ranger Cam Najarro discovered that a new contagion is about to be unleashed.

Red Inferno: 1945 by Robert Conroy (Ballantine Paperback 02/10/2010) – Another alternate history from the author of the previous 1942.

Total Oblivion, More or Less by Alan DeNiro (Bantam Spectra, Hardcover 11/24/2009) – DeNiro has been gaining a lot of positive acclaim for his fiction, this is his second novel.

“I remember the first time I began to understand that things might not be the same again.”

What’s a girl to do when her world is invaded by warriors from the ancient world? That’s the problem faced by sixteen-year-old Macy, who sees her quiet, normal life in suburban Minnesota turned upside down when things that should never be possible begin to transform the landscape all around her. The cable stops working, the phone lines die–and then the horsemen come to town. It’s not the same America that she last went to sleep in.

Ticketed to a refugee camp by the marauding Scythian armies, Macy and her family come to believe that heading down the Mississippi by boat is their one escape from the encroaching madness. But as they make their way downriver, Macy’s world just keeps getting stranger, and the wooden submarines, wasp-borne plagues, and talking dogs are the least of her problems: For in this upside-down world, old identities warp and family bonds are sorely tested.

Acclaimed writer Alan DeNiro has fashioned a completely original, utterly beguiling melding of the surreal and the everyday.

The Devil's Alphabet
by Del Rey, Trade Paperback 11/24/2009) – I still haven’t read Gregory’s acclaimed debut and this one looks just as good

From Daryl Gregory, whose Pandemonium was one of the most exciting debut novels in memory, comes an astonishing work of soaring imaginative power that breaks new ground in contemporary fantasy.

Switchcreek was a normal town in eastern Tennessee until a mysterious disease killed a third of its residents and mutated most of the rest into monstrous oddities. Then, as quickly and inexplicably as it had struck, the disease–dubbed Transcription Divergence Syndrome (TDS)–vanished, leaving behind a population divided into three new branches of humanity: giant gray-skinned argos, hairless seal-like betas, and grotesquely obese charlies.

Paxton Abel Martin was fourteen when TDS struck, killing his mother, transforming his preacher father into a charlie, and changing one of his best friends, Jo Lynn, into a beta. But Pax was one of the few who didn’t change. He remained as normal as ever. At least on the outside.

Having fled shortly after the pandemic, Pax now returns to Switchcreek fifteen years later, following the suicide of Jo Lynn. What he finds is a town seething with secrets, among which murder may well be numbered. But there are even darker–and far weirder–mysteries hiding below the surface that will threaten not only Pax’s future but the future of the whole human race.

The Infernal City : An Elder Scrolls Novel
by Greg Keyes (Del Rey, Trade Paperpack 11/24/2009) – I like Greg Keyes’s writing very much and from what I know, the setting in which this series takes place is rich.

Four decades after the Oblivion Crisis, Tamriel is threatened anew by an ancient and all-consuming evil. It is Umbriel, a floating city that casts a terrifying shadow–for wherever it falls, people die and rise again.

And it is in Umbriel’s shadow that a great adventure begins, and a group of unlikely heroes meet. A legendary prince with a secret. A spy on the trail of a vast conspiracy. A mage obsessed with his desire for revenge. And Annaig, a young girl in whose hands the fate of Tamriel may rest . . . .

Based on the award-winning The Elder Scrolls, The Infernal City is the first of two exhilarating novels following events that continue the story from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, named 2006 Game of the Year.

Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey (DAW, Mass Market Paperback 12/1/2009) – These Valdemar anthologies seems to becoming almost an annual thing.

In March 1987, a young author from Oklahoma published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. This modest book about a magical land called Vademar was the beginning of a fantasy masterpiece that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles. Now sixteen of today's hottest fantasy authors-including Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Fiona Patton, and Judith Tarr-visit the world of Valdemar, adding their own special touches.

The Conqueror's Shadow by Ari Marmell (Bantam Spectra Hardcover 02/23/2009) – Marmell has been in the genre for some time now, having published tie-in fiction for Magic: The Gathering as well as work on a number of manuals for Dungeons & Dragons/Wizards of the Coast. This is his first original novel and it sounds pretty interesting

They called him the Terror of the East. His past shrouded in mystery, his identity hidden beneath a suit of enchanted black armor and a skull-like helm, Corvis Rebaine carved a bloody path through Imphallion, aided by Davro, a savage ogre, and Seilloah, a witch with a taste for human flesh. No shield or weapon could stop his demon-forged axe. And no magic could match the spells of his demon slave, Khanda.
Yet just when ultimate victory was in his grasp, Rebaine faltered. His plans of conquest, born from a desire to see Imphallion governed with firmness and honesty, shattered. Amidst the chaos of a collapsing army, Rebaine vanished, taking only a single hostage—a young noblewoman named Tyannon—to guarantee his escape.

Seventeen years later, Rebaine and Tyannon are married, living in obscurity and raising their children, a daughter and a son. Rebaine has put his past behind him, given up his dreams of conquest. Not even news of an upstart warlord, Audriss, following his old path of conquest, can stir Rebaine to action.

Until his daughter is assaulted by Audriss’s goons.

Now, to rescue the country he once tried to conquer, Rebaine dons the armor of the Terror of the East again and seeks out his former allies. But Davro has become a peaceful farmer. Seilloah has no wish to leave her haunted forest home. And Khanda—to describe his feelings for his former master as undying hatred would be an understatement.

But even if he convinces his comrades to join him, Rebaine faces a greater challenge: Does he dare to reawaken the part of him that gloried in cruelty, blood, and destruction? With the safety of his family at stake, can he dare not to?

Star Wars Clone Wars Gambit: Stealth by Karen Miller (Del Rey/Star Wars Books Trade Paperback 02/23/2010) – Miller churns out novels like a machine, this is her second Star Wars novel and seventh novel over the past two years.

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are on a secret mission to one of the many worlds caught in the middle of the struggle between the Republic and the Separatists. A pastoral planet, Lanteeb wants only to be left alone to survive -- but it is the source of what could be one of the most devastatingly destructive weapons ever. If this potential weapon were to fall into the hands of the Separatists, uncounted worlds would fall. But should the Republic succeed in destroying it first, one world that needs it to survive will be annihilated. A frightening dilemma that Obi-Wan and Anakin will have to untangle, if they can get in and out of the occupied planet alive...

Oath of Fealty (The Chronicles of Paksenarrion’s World) by Elizabeth Moon (Del Rey, Hardcover 03/16/2009) – Moon’s Deeds of Paksennarrion is very highly acclaimed and this is the authors first novel in that world in a very long time. This novel seems to stand on it's own, so I'll probably be diving into it at some point.

When the paladin Paksenarrion saved Kieri Phelan from traitorous attack on his way to the throne of Lyonya, it seemed her work was done. Lyonya would once more have a healthy king whose taig-sense would sustain the alliance of elves and humans in this strange land. But a paladin's intervention always means change--and change sweeps through the world in the wake of her great deeds. Who will take over Kieri's former realm? What will happen to those who opposed him? From Girdish yeoman to mercenary veteran, from peasant to king, from the Eight Kingdoms of the north to the Guild League cities of the south, no one escapes the challenges--and opportunities--of this tumultuous period. Those who expected to spend the rest of their lives in the same familiar place or position must cope with these changes, or in failure contribute to
the chaos.

Helfort's War Book 3: The Battle of Devastation Reef by Graham Sharp Paul (Del Rey, Mass Market 11/24/2009) – This is the third book in a Military SF series and I haven’t read the first two books.

If he survives, hell just may freeze over.

The savage Hammer Worlds are not only near invincible but almost certain to win their war to crush the Federated Worlds and control humanspace–unless the Feds can find and destroy their secret antimatter warhead facility.

Only dreadnoughts, the lone Federated ships able to withstand antimatter missile attacks, can do the job, and only Lieutenant Michael Helfort has the skill to lead them. But skill may not be enough, because Helfort is more than the newly appointed captain: He’s a hero, and this means that his own senior officers want him to fail–and that the enemy’s kingpin wants him dead.

Helfort’s early victories merely intensify everyone’s determination. No action is too low, no price too high, to bring him down–with treachery, or betrayal, or an offer he can’t refuse, even if it means selling out his own side.

Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword of Avalon by Diana L. Paxson (Roc, Hardcover 12/1/2009) – …and the saga of Bradley’s Avalon continues….

Marion Zimmer Bradley's legendary saga of Avalon's extraordinary women continues with a tale of fiery visions, a lost king, and a forthcoming destiny...

Epic in its sweep and peopled by the remarkable women who have always inhabited Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword of Avalon expands the legendary saga that has enchanted millions of readers over the years and is sure to please Bradley's loyal readership and anyone who loves wonderfully told stories of history, myth, and fantasy.

A boy raised in secret after traitors kill his parents will return to Avalon-and when he does, he'll be faced with a formidable task: to prove his worth as a son of the kings and priestesses of his land and lead his followers to victory, wielding the newly-forged sword Excalibur..

Spells of the City by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg (DAW, Mass Market Paperback 12/29/2009) – The December monthly DAW anthology focuses on the magic in everyday cities

Venture into Spells of the City, where a troll may be your toll collector on the George Washington Bridge...Harry the Book will be happy to place your best in a spellbinding alternative New York...a gargoyle finds himself left to a lonely rooftop existence when he's forced to live by his creator's rules...and leprechauns must become bank robbers to keep up with the demand for their gold.

Liberating Atlantis by Harry Turtledove (Roc, Hardcover 12/1/2009) – Turtledove’s third book in his Atlantis alternate history series..

"The maven of alternate history" (San Diego Union- Tribune) continues his epic tale of Atlantis.

Frederick Radcliff is a descendant of the family that founded Atlantis's first settlement, and his grandfather Victor led the army against England to win the nation's independence. But he is also a black slave, unable to prove his lineage, and forced to labor on a cotton plantation in the southern region of the country.

Frederick feels the color of his skin shouldn't keep him from having the same freedoms his ancestors fought and died for. So he becomes the leader of a revolutionary army of slaves determined to free all of his brethren across Atlantis....

Confessions of a Demon by S.L. Wright (Roc, Mass Market Paperback 12/01/2009) – Demon/vampire? Check. Scantily clad shapely woman dressed in leather on the cover? Check. Visible midriff on said woman? Check. Visible tattoo on said woman? Check.

After accidentally stealing the life force of a dying demon, Allay became the only human-demon hybrid in existence. Demons feed on human emotions, so Allay decided the safest way to satisfy this need-and still retain some semblance of her humanity-was to open a bar. Here she can drink from, and ease, her patrons' pain, which has helped her to stay under the demon radar...until now.

When Allay is attacked and nearly killed by another demon, a human comes to her rescue. Theo Ram is tall, handsome, and mortal-and Allay feels a connection to him she didn't think she'd ever know. But that bond is tested when the demon community in New York begins to rise up, and two opposing clans fight for power. Now Allay is caught in the middle, and she must decide where her loyalties lie.

The Sapphire Sirens by John Zakour (DAW, Mass Market Paperback 12/1/2009) – Zakour’s humorous, pulpy future sf adventure-caper series continues. Very consistently at that, he seems to churn them out once per year.

Zach Johnson, the world's last freelance detective, has been man-napped by the beautiful sapphire-haired Amazon Kiana. She's brought him to her home island of Lantis-where the women dominate men with their words-to discover who killed her mother, the Queen. But to save the day this time, Zach and his holographic A.I. sidekick HARV have to tangle with not just one gorgeous superwoman, but four. Each of Kiana's three sisters could have the motive and the means to pull off the crime-and now that you mention it, Kiana could too...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Werewolves and Space Divers

What would a Tuesday be around here at the o’ Stuff without me posting links to new reviews at SFFWorld?

Earlier in the year, I reviewed a very solid Space Opera by S. Andrew Swann - Prophets. In his second release of the year, and second I’ve subsequently reviewed, he drops the “Andrew” in favor of “A.” and switches genres – a medieval werewolf fantasy - Wolfbreed with very good results:

One of the great things about the book, and an element that helped to keep me turning the pages, was Swann’s structure for the novel. In interweaving sections, Swann reveals the past of Lily and her wolfbreed pack-mates as they are trained by the church to terrorize villages. The bulk of the novel deals with the aftermath of Lily’s escape as she comes to the attention of Udolf, who is in the woods helping to make his adopted family make ends meet. You see, Udolf’s family was slaughtered about a decade prior to the events of the novel in one of the Church’s destructive conversions. In addition, Udolf lost an arm the night his family was slaughtered so his self-worth is not exactly high.

Swann fills the novel with multiple conflicts, each of them paralleling each other. In Lily, we have a creature that is conflicted herself – between her human side and her wolf side. During her years as a captive of the church, she was tortured and abused, with hints of rape thrown into the mix. To help herself cope, she split her personality and hid part of herself away to avoid really experiencing those horrid deeds. When she comes to meet Udolf, she is a shell of a person having regressed in her ability to communicate. However, she displays great physical strength and a remarkable ability to heal, which helps Udolf’s family a great deal. All told, Swann has given readers an empathetic, remarkably drawn character in Lily.

Dan reviewed new SF adventure by genre veteran Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Diving into the Wreck:

The universe that makes her [Boss’s] story possible also includes a recent war that the Empire won but the Alliance didn’t exactly lose. The balance is precarious, hanging by a thread that will be cut if the old stealth technology can be re-discovered by either side.

In three parts, we watch Boss find what she’s looking for, lose it, and then attempt to destroy it. Part 1 sets the problems, the ones she must deal with and the ones she doesn’t realize she’s dealing with. The former comes in the form of the lost stealth technology hidden on a derelict that Boss discovered. It costs two crew members’ lives, her fault. The latter comes in the form of what Boss is willing to live with in her universe by Cardinal Woolly in order to stop the plot and save old Three Ex herself.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Books in the Mail (W/E 11/1/2009)

This week was a bit slower than last, but I still received some interesting books. One I’ve read and at lease one I know I will read.

The Founding (A Gaunt’s Ghost’s Omnibus [#1]) by Dan Abnett (Black Library 2002) – Abnett is the superstar writer of the Black Library and this is the series that put him on the map. Since the folks at Black Library were kind enough to send this to me upon my request, I’ll definitely be reviewing it.

This omnibus edition of the first three Gaunt's Ghosts novels follows the story of the Tanith First-and-Only regiment (nicknamed the Ghosts) and their charismatic commissar, Ibram Gaunt. As they travel from warzone to warzone in the Chaos-infested Sabbat Worlds system, the Ghosts must not only carry out the most dangerous of missions but also survive the deady politics of the Imperial Guard. The Founding is the first larger story arc of this series. It comprises the first three novels, First and Only (1999), Ghostmaker (2000) and Necropolis (2000). These novels were re-printed in a second edition which also featured new covers. The three novels were later reprinted in a single omnibus edition under the title Gaunt's Ghosts: The Founding in 2003. The Founding also contains the short novel "In Rememberance" which explains Warmaster Macaroth's decision to allow the populace of Vervunhive to join existing Guard regiments they fought alongside during the defense of Vervunhive.

The arc tells the early years of the Tanith First and Only, up to the victory on the Hive World Verghast and the influx of new recruits they receive from the survivors of Vervunhive.

Chronicles of Malus Darkblade : Volume 2 by Dan Abnett and Mike Lee (Black Library Paperback 11/24/2009) – This is what Black Library does best for its fans – it quickly puts omnibus editions of their series on bookshelves.

The Dark Elves are feared throughout the Old World for their evil, savage ways, yet one member of this despicable race stands out for his treachery and cunning - Malus Darkblade. Possessed by the ancient daemon Tz'arkan, Darkblade must recover five items of unimaginable power within one year or forfeit his soul forever! This omnibus edition includes the books Warpsword and Lord of Ruin, as well as two short stories never published before on Malus Darkblade.

Nightchild (Chronicles of the Raven #3) by James Barclay (Pyr Trade Paperback 11/22/2009) – Third installment of The Chronicles of the Raven . With the release of this book, James Barclay’s terrific first trilogy is now complete and on the shelves of US bookstores.

Also still around are the Dragons that helped to close the rift in Noonshade. As a result of their actions they are stuck in Balaia, dying slowly from the Balaian atmosphere. They are aging rapidly and hunted as big game. The people of Balaia seemed to have forgotten the sacrifice the magnificent beasts made to save them. The only thing between death and the Dragons is Hirad, who was bonded to Sha-Kaan, the great rule of the Kaan brood of Dragons, during the events of Noonshade. The Unknown Warrior is married with child and runs full-time, the bar he owns. Thraun is leading a pack of wolves.

Nigthchild is a satisfying conclusion to this initial trilogy by James Barclay. He expertly brings hanging elements of each preceding volume to closure. Though, there are seeds for a future story or two left unexplored. Let’s hope Mr. Barclay lets these seeds grow into new stories.

Starfist : Double Jeopardy by David Sherman and Dan Cragg (Del Rey, Hardcover 12/29/2009) – These guys are consistent, if nothing else. They provide a new book for their fans almost every year.

The thrilling pace of the Starfist space epic quickens as the explosive series rockets to dazzling new heights, packed with the hell-for-leather action only two battle-hardened and decorated combat vets like David Sherman and Dan Cragg can provide.

The Confederation has finally disclosed the existence of Skinks, fierce aliens bent on wiping out humankind, and announced its plan to find and destroy their home world. While the rest of the universe grapples with the news, the Skink-savvy Marines of the Confederation's Thirty-fourth Fleet Initial Strike Team (FIST) have their own take on the situation.

Though they're no longer in danger of being exiled to a ghastly netherworld for spilling the beans about the deadly aliens, the men still can't transfer out of the unit where they've been confined since they first laid eyes on the Skinks. The reason is obvious: Who else but the legendary Thirty-fourth FIST has the skills and experience to spearhead the invasion of the Skinks' home world?

Morale isn't improved by a report of Skinks on the uncolonized world of Ishtar near a mercenary force engaged in slave-driven mining operations there—which means that FIST must turn around and head right back into the jaws of hell with no downtime. But none of that matters to Lieutenant Charlie Bass and the third platoon of Company L. They're Marines, they're the best, and they've got a job to do.

The Marines will find a planet ripped apart by all-out war, with enemies on all sides. The only certainty is that the fighting will rage red-hot and relentless, and Charlie Bass and his men will be right in the thick of the action.