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Book Buzz: Piers Anthony Returns to Xanth

Two to the Fifth, the thirty-second Xanth Novel

By Tim Janson     October 13, 2008


Two to the Fifth by Piers Anthony(2008).
© Tor Books

 

Highlighting this week’s new releases is Two to the Fifth the latest Xanth novel from Piers Anthony, the thirty-second book in the long-running fantasy series. You can read an excerpt by visiting here: Two to the Fifth Excerpt.
 
If you’re a true Halloween freak, the Tor.com website has announced the Great Tor.com Halloween Throwdown of 2008. Here’s a chance for you to share pics of your home’s decorations, carved pumpkins, costumes, or share your favorite Halloween memories…anything goes! To check it out, visit this link: Tor.com Halloween Throwdown
 
In honor of the late heroic fantasy author, the David Gemmell Legend Award will be presented for the first time in 2009 for the best fantasy novel of 2008 and you can help pick the winner. The voting will open on December 26, 2008 but you can visit the site now to see the list of nominees so far. David Gemmell Legend Award
 
 
New In Fantasy
 
Two to the Fifth (Xanth) Piers Anthony (Tor Hardcover)
 
The future of Xanth is in frightful peril. A powerful magical bird named Ragna Roc has embarked on a campaign to become absolute ruler of that mystical realm. Those who swear loyalty to him are spared. The rest are simply disappeared.
 
So powerful are Ragna’s sorceries that even the Good Magician Humfrey dares not confront him directly. Instead he enlists Cyrus the Cyborg, a handsome half-human playwright with little knowledge of the world, in a stealthy subterfuge. Cyrus must assemble a troupe of traveling players to attract Ragna’s interest. And hidden in disguise among the bevy of beautiful young actresses are the young princesses, Melody, Harmony, and Rhythm, whose magics might just be a match for the evil bird.
 
But Ragna has planted a spy in the midst of the troupe, one who knows their deepest secrets, including the true nature of Cyrus’s forbidden love for one of the young princesses. Only a mysterious child called Kadence, and a cryptic clue — “Two to the Fifth" — may give the companions the edge they need to defeat Ragna’s dictatorial dreams.
 
The Hero of Ages: Book Three of Mistborn Brandon Sanderson (Tor Hardcover)
 
To end the Final Empire and restore freedom, Vin killed the Lord Ruler. But as a result, the Deepness---the lethal form of the ubiquitous mists---is back, along with increasingly heavy ashfalls and ever more powerful earthquakes. Humanity appears to be doomed.
 
Having escaped death at the climax of The Well of Ascension only by becoming a Mistborn himself, Emperor Elend Venture hopes to find clues left behind by the Lord Ruler that will allow him to save the world. Vin is consumed with guilt at having been tricked into releasing the mystic force known as Ruin from the Well. Ruin wants to end the world, and its near omniscience and ability to warp reality make stopping it seem impossible. She can’t even discuss it with Elend lest Ruin learn their plans! The conclusion of the Mistborn trilogy!
 
Caine Black Knife Matthew Stover Del Rey
 
In Heroes Die and Blade of Tyshalle, Matthew Stover created a new kind of fantasy novel, and a new kind of hero to go with it: Caine, a street thug turned superstar, battling in a future where reality shows take place in another dimension, on a world where magic exists and gods are up close and personal. In that beautiful, savage land, Caine is an assassin without peer, a living legend born from one of the highest-rated reality shows ever made. That season, Caine almost single-handedly defeated–and all but exterminated–the fiercest of all tribes: the Black Knives. But the shocking truth of what really took place during that blood-drenched adventure has never been revealed . . . until now.
 
Thirty years later, Caine returns to the scene of his greatest triumph–some would say greatest crime–at the request of his adopted brother Orbek, the last of the true Black Knives. But where Caine goes, danger follows, and he soon finds himself back in familiar territory: fighting for his life against impossible odds, with the fate of two worlds hanging in the balance.
 
Precious Dragon Liz Williams (Nightshade Books)
 
In this, the third Detective Inspector Chen novel, Chen and Zhu are given a major assignment to escort an emissary from heaven on a diplomatic mission to hell. Zhu tries to dodge his demonic family's overtures, but ends up embroiled in hell's political intrigues. At the same time, a young boy born to ghostly parents in Hell is sent to live with his grandmother in Singapore Three. The boy, Precious Dragon, is being chased by Hell's most dangerous creatures and ends up being the key to unlock the mystery that is quickly spiraling out of control. Chen and Zhu find themselves in the middle of a struggle much bigger then they can fully comprehend, and when the dust finally settles, neither heaven nor hell will be the same.
 
Ice, Iron, & Gold S.M. Stirling (Nightshade books)
 
Egyptian chariots carry shotgunners and haul heavy cannon into battle, Roman centurions fight at the whims of bug-eyed monsters, vigilant National Guardsmen hold the line against cannibalistic illegal aliens, and American soldiers wander savage lands, leading a massive AI-controlled BOLO tank, as they struggle to return home to a United States that no longer exists. Through themes of duty, honor, and fortitude under fire, New York Times bestselling author S. M. Stirling presents thirteen stories of military men and women pushed to the point where myth and technology collide.
 
New In Science Fiction
 
The January Dancer Michael Flynn (Tor Hardcover)
 
Hugo Award finalist and Robert A. Heinlein Award–winning SF writer Michael Flynn now turns to space opera with stunningly successful results. Full of rich echoes of space opera classics from Doc Smith to Cordwainer Smith, The January Dancer tells the fateful story of an ancient pre-human artifact of great power, and the people who found it.
 
Starting with Captain Amos January, who quickly loses it, and then the others who fought, schemed, and killed to get it, we travel around the complex, decadent, brawling, mongrelized interstellar human civilization the artifact might save or destroy. Collectors want the Dancer; pirates take it, rulers crave it, and they’ll all kill if necessary to get it. This is a thrilling yarn of love, revolution, music, and mystery, and it ends, as all great stories do, with shock and a beginning.
 
The Price of Paradise (Doctor Who) Colin Blake (Random House)
 
Laylora - the Paradise Planet. A world of breath-taking beauty, where peace-loving aboriginals live in harmony with their environment. Or do they? The Doctor and Rose arrive to find that the once-perfect eco-system is showing signs of failing. The paradise planet has become a death trap as terrifying creatures from ancient legends appear and stalk the land... Is there a connection between the human explorers who have crash-landed and the savage monsters? What secret lies at the heart of the natives' ancient ceremonies? And what price might one human have to pay to save the only home he has ever known? When a planet itself becomes sick, can there be a cure? The Doctor and Rose find themsleves in a race against time to find out...
 
Eclipse 2: New Science Fiction and Fantasy (Nightshade Books)
 
An eclipse is a rare and unusual event, when the world is transformed and the sky becomes a dark eldritch thing. It's a time when anything could happen, when any kind of story just might be true. That sense of the strange and wonderful guides Eclipse: New Science Fiction and Fantasy, the second volume in an exciting new annual anthology series edited by acclaimed anthologist Jonathan Strahan. Set to become a major event on the science fiction and fantasy calendar, Eclipse: New Science Fiction and Fantasy gathers together new science fiction and fantasy stories by the best writers working today. You can see that in Eclipse Two, which features more extraordinary tales of the fantastic and astounding.
 
 
New In Horror
 
Voodoo Virus: A Zombie Novel William Jones (Chaosium)
 
An Evolutionary War the Microbes Won Humanity is dying. The dead are rising. After the virus hit, humans became an endangered species. Within months it spread across the planet, infecting nearly everyone, turning them into the living dead. With civilization in ruins, small pockets of survivors struggle each day, hoping for a way out, waiting for help. But for one group of people trapped in post-apocalyptic New York City, time is running short and the city is filling with the infected and the undead.
 
Dying to Live: Life Sentence Kim Paffenroth (Permuted Press)
 
At the end of the world a handful of survivors banded together in a museum-turned-compound surrounded by the living dead. The community established rituals and rites of passage, customs to keep themselves sane, to help them integrate into their new existence. In a battle against a kingdom of savage prisoners, the survivors lost loved ones, they lost innocence, but still they coped and grew. They even found a strange peace with the undead.
 
Twelve years later the community has reclaimed more of the city and has settled into a fairly secure life in their compound. Zoey is a girl coming of age in this undead world, learning new roles--new sacrifices. But even bigger surprises lay in wait, for some of the walking dead are beginning to remember who they are, who they've lost, and, even worse, what they've done.
As the dead struggle to reclaim their lives, as the survivors combat an intruding force, the two groups accelerate toward a collision that could drastically alter both of their worlds.
 
The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror (Running Press)
 
This collection features the most comprehensive yearly overview of horror around the world in all its incarnations, an impressively researched necrology, and a list of indispensable contact addresses for the dedicated reader and budding writer alike. This is the very best of new short stories and novellas by today's masters of the macabre. Contributors include such names as Neil Gaiman, Gene Wolfe, Brian Keene, Michael Marshall Smith, Ramsey Campbell, Kim Newman, Elizabeth Massie, Glen Hirshberg, Peter Atkins, and Tanith Lee. This is required reading for any fan of ghoulish fiction.
 
Blood Lite: An Anthology of Humorous Horror Stories Presented by the Horror Writers Association (Pocket)
 
...a collection of entertaining tales that puts the fun back into dark fiction, with ironic twists and tongue-in-cheek wit to temper the jagged edge.
 
Charlaine Harris reveals the dark side of going green, when a quartet of die-hard environmentalists hosts a fundraiser with a gory twist in "An Evening with Al Gore"...In an all-new Dresden Files story from Jim Butcher, when it comes to tracking deadly paranormal doings, there's no such thing as a "Day Off" for the Chicago P.D.'s wizard detective, Harry Dresden...Sherrilyn Kenyon turns a cubicle-dwelling MBA with no life into a demon-fighting seraph with one hell of an afterlife in "Where Angels Fear to Tread"...Celebrity necromancer Jaime Vegas is headlining a sold-out séance tour, but behind the scenes, a disgruntled ghost has a bone to pick, in Kelley Armstrong's "The Ungrateful Dead." Plus tales guaranteed to get under your skin -- in a good way!
 
New In Non-Fiction
 
It Lives Again! Horror Movies in the New Millennium Axelle Carolyn  (Telos hardcover)
 
Film critic and journalist Calum Waddell subjects 18 films to analysis and puts them into historical perspective, whilst discussing the films and their impact with those involved in their production. Each of these movies, some good, some bad and some very, very bad indeed, carried with them a certain marketing savvy and air of controversy which ensures that they will stay in the mind long after the screen goes blank.
 
Films covered are: Blood Feast, Night of the Living Dead, Behind the Green Door, Fritz the Cat, Tenderness of Wolves, Coffy, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, Candy Tangerine Man, Halloween, Cannibal Holocaust, Maniac, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, The Plague Dogs, Evil Dead, House of 1000 Corpses, Old Boy and Hostel.
 
Featuring exclusive interviews with Herschell Gordon Lewis, David Friedman, Connie Mason, George Romero, Judith O'Dea, Marilyn Chambers, Ralph Bakshi, Ulli Lommel, Jack Hill, Sid Haig, Ed Neil, Gunnar Hansen, Jeff Burr, Robert Burns, Don Edmonds, Howard Maurer, Dyanne Thorne, Matt Cimber, John Carpenter, P J Soles, Irwin Yablans, Ruggero Deotato, Carl Gabriel Yorke, Robert Kerman, William Lustig, Romano Scavolini, Baird Stafford, Martin Rosen, Tom Sullivan, Ellen Sandweiss, Rob Zombie, Bill Moseley, Park Chan-Wook, Kim Ji-Woon, Eli Roth and Scott Spiegel.
 
James Bond: The Secret World of 007 Alastair Dougal (DK Publishing)
 
For fans of all things Bond from Sean Connery's debonair debut to Daniel Craig's new take on our classic favorite, the secret files of James Bond have never been more tantalizing. This comprehensive update of this best-selling book features more photos, more information, and the newest film, Quantum of Solace.
 
Bond on Set: Filming Quantum of Solace (DK Publishing)
 
After 21 movies in 45 years, Bond just keeps getting better. Following in the footsteps of Bond on Set: Casino Royale, Filming Quantum of Solace features movie stills, photographs, and behind-the-scenes info from the 22nd Bond film featuring Daniel Craig.
 
Capsule Reviews
 
 

Mistshore Jaleigh Johnson (Wizards of the Coast)

 
Based on Ed Greenwood’s Waterdeep setting in the Forgotten Realms, Jaleigh Johnson’s book takes places within the most notorious area of the city known as Mistshore. A district of the city built on rotting and sunken ships that is rife with crime and corruption. Icedlin is a young woman with a checkered past. Johnson keeps Icedlin’s past very close to the vest but there are hints of her use of magic that resulted in a disaster. Icedlin finds herself framed for the murder of a merchant by a devious elf who has a prior history with her. She is forced to flee the city guard into the safety (or danger) of Mistshore along with Sull, a hulking butcher who has appointed himself as her protector. Now her fate is in the hands of one of Mistshore’s most notorious thieves! 
Mistshore is a little slow developing in terms of plot but Johnson manages to create a handful of intriguing characters all with their own set of intrigues that play off each other. It was interesting to see an evil Elf character in a fantasy novel that is not a Drow. Most interesting is that Icedlin is not a very likable character, at least not initially. She’s arrogant and impulsive and you can certainly see where these traits led to her problems. A tad bit slow action-wise but enjoyable. Grade B
 

 

Gothic Art Now Jasmine Becket-Griffith (Collins Design)

 

Gothic Art Now is the follow up to Harper Collins Design’s Comic Art Now, published a few months ago. The book is a hardcover, full-color production, 192 pages, with a $29.95 cover price. Gothic Art Now showcase the best in Gothic art from around the world from both established and up and coming artists.

 
There are eight different sections to the book, each highlighting a different theme: Femme Fatales, Men in Black, Gothic Elegance, Industrial Goth, Lurking Horror, Dark Fantasy, Creepy Creations, and Grim Comics. Noted fantasy artist Brom, provides the book’s Foreword. Each piece of art includes the artist’s name, title, methods, the artist’s website, and a brief comment by Becket-Griffith. For some reason, digital pieces are just noted as “digital paintings” and does not mention the software used (Corel or Photoshop) as was done in Comic Art Now. In addition to traditional and digital art, some of the most haunting subjects are photographic pieces or photography with digital manipulations. The variety and styles are extremely diversified and eclectic. Grade B+

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 4 of 4
1 
tjanson 10/14/2008 11:15:31 AM
well...tell you what. How bout you just skip it next week?
JarrodSarafin 10/14/2008 12:55:10 PM
Knock off the extreme trolling, Amish.
AMiSHPiRATE 10/15/2008 5:37:20 PM

*sigh* I'm probably the only person who reads and enjoys the book buzz in it's entirety, and yet you never appreciate my middschool wit.  Way to call mom.

JarrodSarafin 10/16/2008 12:14:40 AM

He didn't call mom.


I've been noticing how you've been chiming in on every single review/column lately and most of it is the same old thing, Amish.


And you're not the only person who enjoys the Book Buzz. It's one of my favorite columns. It has been for years.


I can forgive the wit every once in a while. But making 5 straight comments on a single article all with that same "wit" is called trolling. Same goes for having to chime in on every single review and column, as I have noticed.


If you don't like Tim's pieces for whatever reason, don't read them. But if you continue just following him around with the same old song and dance routine, I'll show you the door.

1 

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