Weekly Book Buzz: Tracy Hickman’s Latest Fantasy Novel (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Date: Monday, July 05, 2010


I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. It was steamy as all hell here in Michigan. Our lead book of the week is the latest fantasy novel from Tracy Hickman, written along with his wife Laura, “Song of the Dragon” is the first volume in the Annals of Drakis trilogy. Down in the reviews section I have three very strong books this week which I highly recommend.
Unbroken Chain: A Forgotten Realms Novel Jaleigh Johnson [Wizards of the Coast]
A hero trapped on the edge of light and dark...Ashok is a shadar-kai of the Shadowfell who is brought to the city of Ikemmu , a haven of shadar-kai who have learned to use their fierce need for adrenalin and danger to better their city and their civilization. Although he starts out eager to find the weaknesses in the strange city’s armor and return with them to his vicious enclave, Ashok finds himself drawn in by the city. As he struggles to find a balance for himself, his family finds the a way to bring down the city on the Shadowfell’s border.
Song of the Dragon: Volume One of the Annals of Drakis Tracy Hickman [DAW Hardcover]
Once humans had magic and an alliance with dragons. Now they and the other races have been enslaved by the Rhonas Empire-the elves-and can't even remember the world the way it used to be. But thanks to the intervention of one determined dwarf and the human slave warrior known as Drakis, all of that is about to change.
Red Hood's Revenge (PRINCESS NOVELS) Jim C. Hines [DAW]
Roudette's story was a simple one. A red cape. A wolf. A hunter. Her mother told her she would be safe, so long as she kept to the path. But sometimes the path leads to dark places. Roudette is the hunter now, an assassin known throughout the world as the Lady of the Red Hood. Her mission will take her to the country of Arathea and an ancient fairy threat. At the heart of the conflict between humans and fairies stands the woman Roudette has been hired to kill, the only human ever to have fought the Lady of the Red Hood and survived-the princess known as Sleeping Beauty.
The Magickers Chronicles: Volume One Emily Drake [DAW]
Long ago, a war was fought between two opposing groups of magic practitioners-the Magickers, who believed in using magic for the general good, and the Dark Hand, who felt that magic belonged to them and should only be used for their own benefit. Now the Magickers are looking for young recruits to their cause-for the final battle will soon begin...
The Gospel of the Knife Will Shetterly [Tor TPB]
Christopher Nix is 14 years old, and it’s 1969. His life is a turbulent echo of the times as he discovers sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll in the heart of Florida .  But into this struggle between the young long-haired hippie and the rednecks who’d just as soon kill him comes a strange offer that will completely change his life.
The Nix family is contacted by a mysterious benefactor who wants to send Chris to an exclusive private school, no expense spared. Mr. Jay Dumont claims that Chris’s grandfather saved his life during WWI, and though Grandpa Uvdall is dead, the debt remains to be paid.  But as Chris will discover, there is a great deal more to it than that. He will have to accept and understand the Powers that have surrounded his family all his life, and learn to use his own magical gifts, if he is to survive Dumont ’s plan.
Discord's AppleCarrie Vaughn [Tor Hardcover]
When Evie Walker goes home to spend time with her dying father, she discovers that his creaky old house in Hope’s Fort, Colorado , is not the only legacy she stands to inherit. Hidden behind the old basement door is a secret and magical storeroom, a place where wondrous treasures from myth and legend are kept safe until they are needed again. The magic of the storeroom prevents access to any who are not intended to use the items. But just because it has never been done does not mean it cannot be done.
And there are certainly those who will give anything to find a way in.
Evie must guard the storeroom against ancient and malicious forces, protecting the past and the future even as the present unravels around them. Old heroes and notorious villains alike will rise to fight on her side or to undermine her most desperate gambits. At stake is the fate of the world, and the prevention of nothing less than the apocalypse.
New in Sci-Fi
The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Seventh Annual Collection Gardner Dozois [ St. martin ’s TPB]
Continuing the annual tradition, award-winning editor Dozois selects 32 of 2009's strongest short fiction pieces from print and online venues. The authors of these stories are almost all experienced and prolific, with many award winners and few surprise newcomers to be found. The offerings run the gamut of science fiction: for example, Nicola Griffith's "It Takes Two" explores love through chemical attraction, John Barnes's "Things Undone" is a time-blurring exploration of alternate history, and John Kessel's "Events Preceding the Helvetican Renaissance" is a far-future adventure.
Virga: Cities of the Air Karl Schroeder [Tor TPB]
It is the distant future. The world known as Virga is a fullerene balloon three thousand kilometers in diameter, filled with air, water, and floating chunks of rock. The humans who live in this vast environment must build their own fusion suns and “towns” —enormous wood and rope wheels that are spun for centripetal gravity.  This complex and fascinating world is the setting for the novels of Virga, Karl Schroeder’s interstellar far-future space habitat sealed off from contamination by the rest of the inhabited universe. These books have set a high standard for hard SF adventure in the last decade, and now the first two novels, Sun of Suns and Queen of Candesce, are brought out for the first time in one trade paper omnibus.
Rift in the Sky: Stratification #3 Julie E. Czerneda [DAW]
Despite good intentions, the Om-ray of Cersi can't resist moving through space using the M-hir dimension. To prevent the disruption of the Agreement and the destruction that it would unleash, the M-hiray, as they now call themselves, agree to leave Cersi forever to establish their own haven within the Trade Pact worlds-only to learn that not everybody wants peace.
Pathfinder: A Major Ariane Kedros Novel Laura E. Reeve [Roc]
Reserve Major Ariane Kedros needs a shot at redemption-and the mysterious aliens known as the Minoans need an extraordinary human pilot with a rejuv-stimulated metabolism like Ariane for a dangerous expedition to a distant solar system. But there's a catch. The Minoans have to implant their technology in Ariane's body, and it might not be removable. Ariane is willing, but as she begins the perilous journey, there is an old enemy hiding within the exploration team who is determined to see them fail...
Gateways Elizabeth A. Hull [Tor Hardcover]
It isn’t easy to get a group of bestselling SF authors to write new stories for an anthology, but that’s what Elizabeth Anne Hull has done in this powerhouse book. With original, captivating tales by Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Ben Bova, David Brin, Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, Joe Haldeman, Harry Harrison, Larry Niven, Vernor Vinge, Gene Wolfe, and others, Gateways is a SF event that will be a must-buy for SF readers of all tastes, from the traditional to the cutting edge; from the darkly serious to the laugh-out-loud funny.
Each author has written a story that he or she feels reflects the effect Pohl has had on the field—in the style of writing, the narrative tone, or the subject matter. It says a lot about Pohl's career that the authors represented here themselves span many decades and styles, from the experimental SF of British SF author Brian W. Aldiss to the over-the-top humor of Harry Harrison and Mike Resnick, from the darkly powerful drama of Hollywood screenwriter Frank Robinson to the satiric pungency of multiple Hugo Award-winner Vernor Vinge. Every story here is uniquely nuanced; all of them as entertaining and thought provoking as Pohl's fiction.
New in Horror
Primeval: An Event Group Thriller David L. Golemon [Thomas Dunne Hardcover]
Twenty thousand years ago, when man crossed the land bridge to North America , creatures called They Who Follow made the great trek as well. But once in the new continent, the giant beasts disappeared, whether into hiding or extinction, no one knew.  Centuries later, a battered journal—the only evidence left from the night of the Romanovs’ execution—turns up in a rare bookstore. As the U.S. and Russians vie for the truth, and the lost Romanov treasure, they collide with a prehistoric predator thought long-extinct.  It’s up to the Event Group to lay to rest the legends. On an expedition into the wilds of British Columbia , Colonel Jack Collins and his team make a horrifying discovery in the continent’s last deep wilderness, where men have been vanishing for centuries.
The Fuller Memorandum (A Laundry Files Novel) Charles Stross [Ace Hardcover]
Bob Howard is taking a much needed break from the field to catch up on his filing in The Laundry's archives when a top secret dossier known as The Fuller Memorandum vanishes-along with his boss, who the agency's executives believe stole the file. Determined to discover exactly what the memorandum contained, Bob runs afoul of Russian agents, ancient demons, and the apostles of a hideous faith, who have plans to raise a very unpleasant undead entity known as the Eater of Souls.
Book of Shadows Alexandra Sokoloff (St. Martin’s Hardcover)
The body of a young woman is found at a city dumpsite. Her head and one of her hands are missing and strange symbols are carved into her chest. For Boston homicide detectives Adam Garrett and Carl Landauer, it’s the start of a long night and a grisly case that points to a ritualistic killer. The body is identified an Amherst college student who is the daughter of a wealthy Boston businessman, making it top priority for the department. Garrett and Landauer now have their Lieutenant and the assistant DA on their backs, pressuring them to solve the case. Complicating matters is that this Assistant DA is also Garrett’s girlfriend, Carolyn. 
All the evidence points to another student, Jason Moncrief, a singer in a gothic metal band who’s been acting strange and delving into the occult. When traces of the girl’s blood is found on Jason’s clothes, and the same symbols found in his apartment, Landauer and the Assistant DA think the case is a slam dunk. But Garrett is not convinced. Tanith Cabarrus, a practicing witch who owns an occult store in nearby Salem, is brought in as a consultant and is adamant that they have the wrong man. She believes that there are other murders that have taken place on pagan holy days, all leading up to the most important pagan holy day of the year—October 31st, Halloween—Samhain! Garrett’s structured police procedures are soon cast aside as more and more evidence points to something supernatural taking place. Garrett becomes dangerously involved with the witch to the point of risking his badge but he’s determined to find the real killer before he can complete his deadly ceremony. 
Sokoloff’s book does what every good book should do…it grabs you right from the opening chapter and doesn’t let go. So precise and detailed is her narrative that you feel like you are on a ride-along with these two detectives as they go through their investigation, gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses. You are kept constantly off guard as she skillfully twists the plot one way and then another, leaving you guess as to whether this is a simple murder or if there truly is something other-worldly going on. 
Garrett’s relationship with Carolyn is strained because the two come from different worlds. Carolyn is her element in Boston society while Garrett is blue collar and beer, creating an interesting dynamic. Sokoloff proves her success with her previous novel, “The Unseen” was no fluke. Mystery, crime-thriller, and supernatural horror all meld together in one heck of a page-turner! Grade A
Obsessed with Marvel (Chronicle Books Hardcover)
So you think you know your Marvel Comics Universe? Think you know everything there is to know about Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, The Hulk? Well now you have a chance to test just how smart you are, big boy, when if comes to Marvel trivia. This hardcover book from Chronicle Books comes with an interactive LCD screen that lets you test your knowledge on your own or against a friend.
The book has 2,500 multiple choice questions in nine different subjects: The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Avengers, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, Marvel Knights, Horror Heroes, Cosmic Characters, and Marvel Time. You can play with 1 or 2 players and in random mode or question select mode. In random mode the screen will display a question number. Turn to the page that has that question on it to see the list of the four possible answers. Press the corresponding button to choose your answer and see if you are correct. Question select mode allows you to punch in the number of the question that you wish to answer. The questions are very diverse and are culled from Marvel’s entire history beginning from 1961 but not the Timely or Atlas eras. There are questions about artists, writers, characters, storylines, powers, and much more.
It’s not perfect. It would have been nice for there to have been a level select for varying degrees of knowledge. It would also have been great if you could have selected a category to play. Most of all I would have liked to seen it able to accommodate up to four players to make it a “party game” but all in all, it’s a nice book. Grade B
The Complete Peanuts 1975 – 1976 Charles M. Schulz (Fantagraphics Hardcover)
I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Peanuts comic strip. I grew up on the old paperback collections and it was always a great day when my mom bought me a new one. Now, thanks to Fantagraphics, the entire run of Peanuts is available to fans in their beautiful, year-by-year collections of Charles Schulz’ masterful and hilarious comic strip.
This collection puts us into the years of 1975 – 1976 and includes all of the daily and Sunday strips for the period. Schulz was always one to progress his strip, never leaving it in the more simple period of the 1950s in which it started. Evidence of this is scene in the very first strip as Lucy’s ‘Psychiatric Help’ sign now states it costs seven cents instead of its usual nickel. Snoopy was always finding new ways to utilize his doghouse. Instead of imagining flying it as a Sopwith Camel, he’s racing it as a motorcycle in moto-cross competitions. 
For Charlie Brown, the year revolves around the baseball season and he is rarin’ to go in the March 10, 1975 strip…never mind that it is a blizzard outside! There’s an extended story sequence where Snoopy and Linus go hunting for truffles and up on a farm where they meet a little girl whose name just happens to be “Truffles”. Snoopy and Linus then end up in a competition of the affections of the new girl.
What would a Peanut’s collection be without Linus’ annual pilgrimage to the local pumpkin patch to wait for the Great Pumpkin to arrive. This year he is joined by Peppermint Patty who Linus banishes from the patch for daring to ask the Great Pumpkin to bring her a new baseball glove. All of the other usual storylines are here…the gang’s disastrous baseball team, Snoopy competing at Wimbeldon, Linus and Charlie Brown philosophizing about life…everything that makes Peanuts so enduring. Thank you Fantagraphics! Grade A