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February 8th, 2008, 09:15 AM #1
Some interesting new 2008 releases
I figured I'd compile a couple of books which have struck my fancy in the first two months of the year which have barely been mentioned sofar ( understandably), and I suppose that in thhe whole batch there may be something for most people. I'll link to Amazon so you can see covers and maybe some reviews, otherwise search Google for some more info. The list contains Epic Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy/Horror, mainstream fiction and a Post-Apocalypse novel.
Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse
This is a collection of short stories where various authors have taken a shot at writing a strong post-apocalyptic tale. I've got to say this is one of the best anthologies I've seen in recent years, and it's a nice edition by Night Shade as well. The editor's site here has all the stories with some more info on them. Lots of good contributors including stories by King and GRRM.
Dragons of Babel by Michael Swanwick
The new highly acclaimed book by Swanwick, not a sequel to Iron Dragon's daughter but it seems to be set in the same world. Very interesting blend of Fantasy and technology, very high concept, massively cool cover.
" A fantasy masterpiece from a five-time Hugo Award winner! A war-dragon of Babel crashes in the idyllic fields of a post-industrialized Faerie and, dragging himself into the nearest village, declares himself king and makes young Will his lieutenant.Nightly, he crawls inside the young fey's brain to get a measure of what his subjects think. Forced out of his village, Will travels with female centaur soldiers, witnesses the violent clash of giants, and acquires a surrogate daughter, Esme, who has no knowledge of the past and may be immortal. Evacuated to the Tower of Babel -- infinitely high, infinitely vulgar, very much like New York City -- Will meets the confidence trickster Nat Whilk. Inside the Dread Tower, Will becomes a hero to the homeless living in the tunnels under the city, rises as an underling to a politician, and meets his one true love-a high-elven woman he dare not aspire to.You've heard of hard SF: This is hard fantasy from a master of the form. "
My understanding is that it is Swanwick's take on the typical Fantasy quest, with his trademark twist. Pleasant writing style. Advance reviews have been (extremely) positive.
There's even a special blog for the book by the author:
The Devil’s Footprints by John Burnside
This is a mainstream novel for the most part, and short at 240 pages. It's imagery intrigued me, possibly because Burnside is also a poet.
"Michael Gardiner has lived in Coldhaven all his life yet still feels like an outsider. Married but rather distant from his wife, he reads in the local paper that a school friend, Moira Birnie, has killed herself and her two sons by setting their car on fire; but she has spared her 14-year-old daughter Hazel. Michael uneasily recalls his past connections to Moira. As teenagers, Michael and Moira had a brief romance, yet more troubling to Michael is the fact that he was responsible for the death of Moira’s brother, the town bully. In the wake of the tragedy, Michael becomes obsessed with Hazel, who is just old enough to be his daughter. Aware of his obsession, Hazel convinces Michael to take her away from the village and her father, an abusive and violent man.
Setting his story against the untamed Scottish landscape, John Burnside has written a chilling novel that explores the elemental forces of everyday life: love, fear, grief, and the hope of redemption. In its ability to evoke and exploit our most primal fears, The Devil’s Footprints prompts comparisons to the best of Stephen King. In both language and imagery, it is a novel of mysterious beauty, written with the clarity and power of a folktale."
This site has an excerpt:
Immortal by Traci Slatton
This is a brand new historical Fantasy set in the time of the Italian Renaissance from a debut novelist that Bantam is bringing out. It's only been out for a short while but has received a lot of acclaim and I must say it looks very good. This guy goes through some serious tragedy. Quite a hefty volume at 520 pages as well.
" an age of wonderous beauty and terrible secrets,
one man searches for his destiny...
In the majestic heart of Florence, a beautiful golden-haired boy is abandoned and subjected to cruelty beyond words. But Luca Bastardo is anything but an ordinary boy. Across two centuries of passion and intrigue, Luca will discover an astonishing gift—one that will lead him to embrace the ancient mysteries of alchemy and healing and to become a trusted confidant to the powerful Medicis…even as he faces persecution from a sadistic cabal determined to wrest his secrets for themselves.
But as the Black Death and the Inquisition wreak havoc on his beloved city, Luca’s survival lies in the quest to solve two riddles. One is the enigma of his parents and his ageless beauty. The other is a choice between immortality and the only chance to find his one true love. As Luca journeys through the heights of the Renaissance, befriends Giotto and Leonardo Da Vinci—140 years apart—and pursues the most closely guarded secrets of religious faith and science for the answers to his own burning questions, his remarkable search will not only change him…but will change the course of history"
Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow
Interesting verse novel urban Fantasy that should appeal to fans of say Butcher, Huston, Harrison etc. Don't be scared off by the verse part, it is very readable and actually it reads more like short normal prose sentences. If you want to try some of it.
An ancient race of lycanthropes has survived to the present day, and its numbers are growing as the initiated convince L.A.'s down and out to join their pack. Paying no heed to moons, full or otherwise, they change from human to canine at will—and they're bent on domination at any cost.
Caught in the middle are Anthony, a kind-hearted, besotted dogcatcher, and the girl he loves, a female werewolf who has abandoned her pack. Anthony has no idea that she's more than she seems, and she wants to keep it that way. But her efforts to protect her secret lead to murderous results.
Blending dark humor and epic themes with card-playing dogs, crystal meth labs, surfing, and carne asada tacos, Sharp Teeth captures the pace and feel of a graphic novel while remaining "as ambitious as any literary novel, because underneath all that fur, it's about identity, community, love, death, and all the things we want our books to be about" [Nick Hornby, The Believer].
Solid review here:
Last edited by Mithfânion; February 8th, 2008 at 09:25 AM.
February 8th, 2008, 09:17 AM #2
The Condemned by David Bell
A post-apocalypse novel that fans of The Road and World War Z might enjoy. Pretty short as well.
The world is at war.the city is dying.and those left for dead within its walls have awakened. A terrorist attack on the water supply has left the city quarantined by the army and inhabited by the City People, the mindless living dead who rule the urban night. Plagued by nightmares and wracked with guilt for having left his best friend behind, Jett returns to work, hoping to provide for his family. But his new partner, a wounded veteran known only as The Kid, won't let Jett forget that his best friend might not be entirely dead. As their city raids grow bloodier, Jett finds himself increasingly under the mysterious influence of his new partner. And just as his murderous rage for the City People grows nearly out of control, he realizes things may not be exactly as they appear. The night, and those who control it-the City People-hold many secrets. Secrets that might just set Jett free.or destroy him and everything he holds dear.
Solid review here:
The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes
Just released in the US, was released a year ago by Gollancz in the UK, a Fantasy Victoriana. Dozens of reviews for this one on the net.
Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever. Needless to say, I doubt you'll believe a word of it.
Once the toast of good society in Victoria's England, the extraordinary conjurer Edward Moon no longer commands the respect or inspires the awe that he did in earlier times. Despite having previously unraveled more than sixty perplexing criminal puzzles (to the delight of a grateful London constabulary), he is considered something of an embarrassment these days. Still, each night without fail, he returns to the stage of his theatre to amaze his devoted, albeit dwindling audience with the same old astonishments—aided by his partner, the silent, hairless, hulking, surprisingly placid giant who, when stabbed, does not bleed . . . and who goes by but one appellation:
On a night of roiling mists and long shadows, in a corner of the city where only the most foolhardy will deign to tread, a rather disreputable actor meets his end in a most bizarre and terrible fashion. Baffled, the police turn once again in the direction of Edward Moon—who will always welcome such assignments as an escape from ennui. And, in fact, he leads the officers to a murderer rather quickly. Perhaps too quickly. For these are strange, strange times in England, with the strangest of sorts prowling London's dank underbelly: sinister circus performers, freakishly deformed prostitutes, sadistic grown killers in schoolboy attire, a human fly, a man who lives backwards. And nothing is precisely as it seems.
The UK sees a sequel coming out this month, called The Domino Men.
Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters
A Steampunk debut about which I do not know much other than that I saw it and liked the idea.
A thrilling new Steampunk fantasy from a talented debut author
TWO GODS-ONE CHANCE FOR MANKIND
In Victorian London, the Whitechapel section is a mechanized, steam-driven hell, cut off and ruled by two mysterious, mechanical gods-Mama Engine and Grandfather Clock. Some years have passed since the Great Uprising, when humans rose up to fight against the machines, but a few brave veterans of the Uprising have formed their own Resistance-and are gathering for another attack. For now they have a secret weapon that may finally free them-or kill them all...
Scroll down for a review:
Dark Hollow by Brian Keene
By all accounts horror writer Keene's best novel yet can be labelled a Dark Fantasy as well.
Spring has come with a vengeance to LeHorn's Hollow, Pennsylvania. While walking his dog, mystery author Adam Senft stumbles upon an enigma of his own, when he encounters his pretty neighbor engaged in a lewd act with something that is not human. Soon enough, he discovers that evil surrounds the entire town. The woods themselves are behaving strangely, the sound of pipes is on the air, women are going missing, and some supernatural force is drawing upon the not-so repressed desires of the townspeople, threatening to transform LeHorn's Hollow into something of a hell on earth. Only Adam and his neighbors seem to have an inkling of what is going on around them, and it falls upon their shoulders to try and make things right.
Cover, extract and reviews here:
Finally, Seekers of the Chalice by Brian Cullen, an epic Fantasy very much based on Celtic myth that I bought right away because I'm a big fan of Celtic Legends and this seems very cool. Of course it could be disappointing, I have not read it yet, and people less taken with Celtic mythology may not find it as intriguing. It is for me, but he could have been a bit more inventive with his naming of the chief antagonist
In the time when gods and men walked the earth along with demons, the Chalice of Fire, the symbol of peace for Ulster, is stolen from the Red Branch by Bricriu Poisontongue. A small band of Seekers sets out to recover and return the Chalice to the Red Branch to restore peace to the Ulster kingdom.The Seekers are a group of two elves, Bern and Lorges; Cumac, the son of Cucullen, the greatest Red Branch warrior; Fedelm of the Sidhe; Tarin, the Swordwanderer; and the wizard-druid, Seanchan. Together they must make their way through the world brought as Maliman, the evil wizard, uses his powers to stop them as he seeks the Chalice himself to bend its magic to his will.The Seekers battle their way through the creatures of darkness that threaten to conquer the world.But they are determined to bring light back from darkness and restore the land that has fallen into ruin and decay with the theft of the Chalice
Last edited by Mithfânion; February 8th, 2008 at 09:21 AM.
February 8th, 2008, 10:28 AM #3
Cheers Mithfânion, thanks for this compilation. 'The Somnambulist' especially appealed to me.
I have a problem though. It's the blurb. Or more precisely, the fact I am not able to ignore it. It is entirely possible I would thoroughly enjoy 'Dragons of Babel'. But drivvle like "A fantasy masterpiece from a five-time Hugo Award winner [..] This is hard fantasy from a master of the form" or in 'The Devil's Footprint' case: "Setting his story against the untamed Scottish landscape, John Burnside has written a chilling novel yadibla etcetera" makes me go Pffffff.....and very much NOT wanting to read these books. And that annoys me, because perhaps they are terrific reads - despite the crap on the cover (both front and back...). So, entirely aware this is MY problem - but sharing always helps
February 8th, 2008, 11:24 AM #4
- Join Date
- Dec 2005
- Ada, MI, USA
Immortal by T. Slatton is a pretty good book. There was an author signing at a Borders I was visiting last weekend and the book was all over the place so I picked it up and I liked the style so I got it. I've read about 200 pages in (I am reading several more books simultaneously) and until now I can say it's a pretty dark book, lots of fantastical elements and worth reading.
Another good mainstream with fantastical elements that it's a 2008 debut is Monsters of Templeton by L. Groff; this one is funny and wistful but very engaging.
I am waiting for the release of Domino Men the (sort of) sequel to The Somnambulist and I expect to enjoy that one as much as the first one.
One more 08 release that I would mention is Serious Things by G. Norminton, UK only and mainstream literary but I like a lot Mr. Norminton's style.
February 8th, 2008, 12:05 PM #5
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this! I've bought Immortal and am seriously considering the Burnside book.
You've done all my work for me!
February 8th, 2008, 01:27 PM #6
Well that's the idea behind the post AP.
I'll go one further and link you to the excerpt of Burnside's book, that should help you decide.
I like the look of that Normington book.
February 18th, 2008, 12:40 PM #7
But I started rolling my eyes early on, during Luca's first day at Silvano's brothel. Why would Silvano take Luca, clean him up, beat him so badly that he pukes and then present him to a customer? Why beat him at all? When you want to turn a starving urchin into a whore, you seduce him -- good food, warm bed, special treatment. You don't do the same things to him that were done to him when he was on the street, not unless you plan to watch him 24/7 so he doesn't run off.
I also rolled my eyes at the older boy who immediately decides to befriend Luca and advise him on how to survive in the brothel. Luca is competition for him. It seems like the more natural inclination would be to make Luca miserable or ignore him. It really bugged me that the older kid tells Luca (paraphrased) "I'm going to help you and be your friend and this is why".
This is the kind of stuff that the author should keep hidden for awhile, let us figure it out for ourselves.
So early on, the book gives me the impression that Slatton is going to tell us everything. That takes all the fun out of it.
February 19th, 2008, 01:01 PM #8
- Join Date
- Dec 2005
- Ada, MI, USA
Of the books mentioned earlier, I finished Serious Things by G. Norminton and I liked it a lot; I do not remember being so absorbed in a pure mainstream (no historical, no fantastic elements) novel in a long time. I have no idea why since we roughly know the plot pretty early though the resolution is both a little surprising, but also quite in tone with comes earlier. The narrative is intertwined between:
Early 1990's - 2 boys at a boarding board, one upper class cool, handsome, arrogant, the other middle class, overweight, closeted gay, coming from a childhood spent overseas in the tropics and having a crush on the other one, plus the socially awkward English professor (liberal at a still quite conservative school) that befriends them, tragedy, a dark secret, no see for the next 14-15 years...
Now - the overweight boy is a civil servant like his father though in another domain, and even more overweight, the aristocratic one is a successful lawyer, with a cool trophy wife, a chance encounter...
Still it's as gripping a read as I've had this year though it's not light; The title encompasses the tone pretty well.
I am still reading Immortal and still liking it, I expect to finish it this week or next since several other books that demanded reading came.
Last edited by suciul; February 19th, 2008 at 01:03 PM.
February 13th, 2008, 09:44 AM #9
- Join Date
- Jan 2008
I'm looking forward to this one:
Anne Bishop - Tangled Webs
yet I'll have to wait for paperback, as I don't buy hardcovers. (too expensive and to unhandy (big, heavy, you know what I mean))
I'm doing re-reading her Black Jewels Trillogy though
February 13th, 2008, 12:02 PM #10
Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters sounds interesting with a very eye-catching cover.
- Join Date
- Mar 2007
As far as the book, it was pretty good. It's kind of like watching a movie, or playing a videogame, or even reading a comic book, and it kind of suffers from some of the same problems as they do, but it was definitely entertaining and if you like steampunk then you'll probably like "Whitechapel Gods"...
February 13th, 2008, 08:26 PM #11
Yeah, I just heard about Whitechapel Gods. Sounded interesting. So Empress is not in the same series as Innocent Mage for Miller, or yes?
Another one that's come up is Brian Cullen's Seeker of the Chalice, don't know if it's any good, but it's being talked about. They're looking for a magic cup, but not the Holy Grail.
Also being buzzed about is Waking Brigid by Francis Clark, which sounds very interesting. Set in the post-American Civil War in recovering Savannah, Georgia, an Irish girl who's had to give up her pagan ways is sent to be a nun. A man in a mental asylum is murdered mysteriously while alone in his padded cell and it's a fight between magic forces for the fate of the city. The Civil War period seems to be popular lately, and Victorian England always.
Last edited by KatG; February 13th, 2008 at 08:28 PM.
February 13th, 2008, 09:27 PM #12
February 15th, 2008, 10:57 AM #13
- Join Date
- Mar 2007
Yep, Empress is part of the brand new Godspeaker series which is unrelated to the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker duology. Personally, I think I'm going to enjoy this more than the author's first duology
Just got my copy of "The Unblemished" by Conrad Williams. It's not really fantasy, but I've heard nothing but praise for it. It's being re-released as a mass market paperback by Virgin Books. April 2008 for the UK, June 10, 2008 for the US.
Check out his website HERE.
The "Unblemished" artfully interweaves the stories of a serial killer who believes he is the rightful son and heir to an ancient dynasty of flesh-eating monsters, and a mother determined to protect her only daughter from the stuff of nightmares. The fate of each of them and the survival of the entire human race depends on one man, Bo Mulvey, who possesses the ancient wisdom the blood thirsty evil needs to achieve its full and horrifying potential.