Weekly Book Buzz: Latest Fantasy from Orson Scott Card (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Date: Sunday, January 30, 2011


Unseen (Outcast Season, Book 3) Rachel Caine [Roc]
After Cassiel and Warden Luis Rocha rescue an adept child from a maniacal Djinn, they realize two things: the girl is already manifesting an incredible amount of power, and her kidnapping was not an isolated incident. This Djinn-aided by her devoted followers-is capturing children all over the world, and indoctrinating them so she can use their strength for herself. With no other options, Cassiel infiltrates the Djinn's organization-because if Cassiel cannot stop the Djinn's apocalyptic designs, all of humanity may be destroyed.
The Sworn (The Fallen Kings Cycle) [Orbit]
Summoner-King Martris Drayke must attempt to meet this great threat, gathering an army from a country ravaged by civil war. Tris seeks new allies from among the living - and the dead - as an untested generation of rulers face their first battle. Meanwhile, the legendary Dread are stirring in their burrows after millennia of silence and no one knows what hand wakes them and whom they will serve when they rise.  Now, Drayke turns to the Sworn, a nomadic clan of warriors bound to protect the Dread. But even the mighty Sworn do not know what will happen when the Dread awake. All are certain, though, that war is coming to the Winter Kingdoms.
Sooner Dead: A D&D Gamma World Novel Mel Odom [Wizards of the Coast]
Humanoid buffalo and armadillo bikers in post-apocalyptic Oklahoma !  A bio-engineered super-soldier named Hella and her mutant buffalo sidekick Stampede clash with armadillo bikers and inter-dimensional mutants across the ragged landscape of Gamma-Oklahoma.  This is a fast-paced story of adventure, mixed with liberal doses of humor, in a post-apocalyptic science-fantasy world unlike any other.
Shadow Prowler Alexey Pehov [Tor]
After centuries of calm, the Nameless One is stirring.  By next spring, or perhaps sooner, the Nameless One and his forces will be at the walls of the great city of Avendoom .  Unless Shadow Harold, master thief, can find some way to stop them.
But Harold isn’t alone.  An Elfin princess, Miralissa, her entourage, ten Wild Hearts, the most experienced and dangerous fighters in their world, and the king’s court jester all join him in his quest. These companions will form a bond of friendship and honor that must carry them over a series of frightful obstacles before they can reach their goal: Hrad Spein, the mysterious Palaces of the Bones.  Only there will they find the key to undoing the ancient curse that hangs over their world and ridding the land of the Nameless One forever.
Reminiscent of Moorcock's Elric series, Shadow Prowler is the first work to be translated into English from Russian by the bestselling, new generation fantasy author Alexey Pehov. 
The Sea Thy Mistress Elizabeth Bear [Tor Hardcover]
This direct sequel to Elizabeth Bear’s highly acclaimed All the Windwracked Stars picks up the story some fifty years after Muire went into the sea and became the new Bearer of Burdens.
Beautiful Cathoair, now an immortal warrior angel, has been called back to the city of Eiledon to raise his son--Muire’s son as well, cast up on shore as an infant. It is seemingly a quiet life. But deadly danger approaches…the evil goddess Heythe, who engineered the death of Valdyrgard, has travelled forward in time on her rainbow steed. She came expecting to gloat over a dead world, the proof of her revenge, but instead she finds a Rekindled land, renewed by Muire’s sacrifice.
She will have her revenge by forcing this new Bearer of Burdens to violate her oaths and break her bounds and thus bring about the true and final end of Valdyrgard. She will do it by tormenting both Cathoair and his son Cathmar. But Mingan, the gray wolf, sees his old enemy Heythe’s return. He will not allow it to happen again.
License to Ensorcell Katharine Kerr [DAW]
Psychic Agent Nola O'Grady isn't sure returning to San Francisco , and living near her unusual family, is a good idea. Her job, with a psychic agency so obscure even the CIA doesn't know it exists, can be perilous, and she's afraid of the relatives getting involved.
Then the Agency saddles her with Israeli secret agent Ari Nathan, and she has a bigger problem on her hands, because tact and compromise are not Ari's strong points. Their mission is to track down a serial killer obsessed with werewolves. He sees them everywhere and shoots whenever he thinks he has one in his sights. Ari assumes the man's psychotic, but in truth he's murdering actual werewolves. Nola should know. Her younger brother Pat, a lycanthrope, was the first victim.
Can Nola's psychic talents and Ari's skill with guns keep them alive long enough to unravel the greater mystery behind the killings? Can they save the werewolves and the world while stopping Nola's family from running headlong into danger?
The King of the Crags: The Memory of Flames, Book II Stephen Deas [Roc Hardcover]
In his debut, The Adamantine Palace, Stephen Deas "restored [dragons] to all their scaly fire- breathing glory" (Daily Telegraph). Now, as the Realms teeter on the brink of war, the fate of humanity rests in the survival of one majestic white dragon.
Prince Jehal has had his way-now his lover Zafir sits atop the Realms with hundreds of dragons and their riders at her beck and call. But Jehal's plots are far from over, for he isn't content to sit back and watch Zafir command the earth and sky. He wants that glory for himself- no matter who he must sacrifice to get it. The one thing Jehal fears is that the white dragon still lives-and if that is so, then blood will flow, on all sides...
Death's Sweet Embrace: A Dark Brethren Novel Tracey O'hara [Eos]
After centuries of secret conflict, humans and parahumans have reached an uneasy truce. But unspeakable evil now threatens the tenuous peace. Teenaged shapeshifters are being slaughtered by a sadistic serial killer who rips their still-beating hearts from their paralyzed bodies. A task force forms to halt the madness, including the vampiric Aeternus Antoinette Petrescu, as well as Kitt Jordan and Raven Matokwe, members of enemy Animalian tribes . . . and forbidden lovers.
A centuries-old blood feud has divided their shapeshifting peoples, and if their passion is discovered it will doom them both. But past hostilities must be put aside, for the killer they seek is but the first sign of the all-consuming nightmare of The Dark Brethren.
Blackveil: Book Four of Green Rider Kristen Britain [DAW Hardcover]
Once a simple student, Karigan G'ladheon finds herself in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand when she becomes a legendary Green Rider-one of the magical messengers of the king. Forced by magic to accept a dangerous fate she would never have chosen, headstrong Karigan has become completely devoted to the king and her fellow Riders. But now, an insurrection led by dark magicians threatens to break the boundaries of ancient, evil Blackveil Forest-releasing powerful dark magics that have been shut away for a millennium.
666 Park Avenue: A Novel Gabriella Pierce [ Avon ]
What if your mother-in-law turned out to be an evil, cold-blooded witch . . . literally? Ever since fabulously wealthy Malcolm Doran walked into her life and swept her off her feet, fledgling architect Jane Boyle has been living a fairy tale. When he proposes with a stunning diamond to seal the deal, Jane can't believe her incredible luck and decides to leave her Paris-based job to make a new start with Malcolm in New York .
But when Malcolm introduces Jane to the esteemed Doran clan, one of Manhattan 's most feared and revered families, Jane's fairy tale takes a darker turn. Soon everything she thought she knew about the world—and herself—is upended. Now Jane must struggle with newfound magical abilities and the threat of those who will stop at nothing to get them.
New In Sci-Fi
The Purging of Kadillus (Space Marine Battles) Gav Thorpe [Games Workshop]
Faced with an ork invasion of Piscina IV, the 3rd Company of the Dark Angels believes the threat to be minimal. As enemy numbers continue to increase, their commander, Captain Belial, insists that his Company are strong enough to resist. But Scout-Sergeant Naaman knows just how dangerous this foe can be, and when a renewed greenskin offensive takes the Dark Angels by surprise, the orks swarm towards Kadillus Harbour . Little do the Dark Angels know of the technological power available to the xenos, and the true scale of the threat they face. Belial, Naaman and their fellow Astartes fight a desperate siege at Kadillus, knowing that they must hold out until Imperial reinforcements arrive or the planet will be lost.
Messiah: Apotheosis: Book Three S. Andrew Swann [DAW]
The last stand against the self-proclaimed God, Adam, has retreated to the anarchic planet Bakunin-a world besieged by civil war. Humanity's last hope lies with Nickolai Rajasthan, a Moreau who believes that the human race that created his kind is already damned beyond redemption.
Gods of Riverworld Philip Jose Farmer [Tor]
Thirty billion people from throughout Earth’s history have been resurrected along the great and winding waterways of Riverworld. Most began life anew—accepting without question the sustenance provided by their mysterious benefactors. But a rebellious handful, including Mark Twain, Richard Burton, and Peter Jairus Frigate, burned to confront the unseen masters who controlled their fate—and these few launched an invasion that will ultimately yield the mind-boggling truth. The story was chronicled in four previous volumes, and is now concluded in Gods of Riverworld.
Riverworld’s omnipotent leaders must finally be confronted, and the renegades of Riverworld—led by the intrepid Sir Richard Francis Burton—will control the fantastic mechanism that rules them. But the most awesome challenge lies ahead. For in the vast corridors and secret rooms of the tower stronghold, an unknown enemy watches and waits to usurp the usurpers....
Battlestations David Drake [Prime books]
When the Fleet is challenged by an alien armada from the other side of the galaxy, the Fleet constructs the Stephen Hawking, an enormous mobile base for thousands of soldiers and warships... and the overstressed crew prepares for a direct assault by a deadly insectoid race. But the pressures of combat and close quarters have taken their toll, threatening to turn the crew to the enemy's prime advantage.
New In Horror
Zombiesque Stephen L. Antczak [DAW]
From a tropical resort where visitors can become temporary zombies, to a newly-made zombie determined to protect those he loves, to a cheerleader who won't let death kick her off the team, to a zombie seeking revenge for the ancestors who died on an African slave ship-- Zombiesque invites readers to take a walk on the undead side in these tales from a zombie's point of view.
Road Trip of the Living Dead Mark Henry [Kensington]
With her zombie gal pal Wendy and vampy sidekick Gil, celebrity party girl Amanda Feral is ready to take a big bite out of Seattle's supernatural nightlife. But what's a zombie chick to do when her 'mommie Dearest' gets sick? If you're Amanda Feral, you can either ignore the wicked old witch - or bury the past by visiting Ethel before she kicks it. Packing their stiletto pumps and plasma into a sketchy rat-trap on wheels that used to be a Winebago, Amanda, Wendy, and Gil hit the highway. Of course, they'll have to navigate past some neo-Nazi skinheads, a horny dust devil, a hunky werewolf cop, and an unsightly horde of Kmart shoppers. But for this glamorous gang of ghouls, this trip is about to take a dangerous detour that could give road kill and brand new meaning...
Autumn: The City David Moody [St. Martin’s Griffin]
A bastard hybrid ofWar of the Worlds and Night of the Living Dead, the Autumn series chronicles the struggle of a small group of survivors forced to contend with a world torn apart by a deadly disease. After 99% of the population of the planet is killed in less than 24 hours, for the very few who have managed to stay alive, things are about to get much worse. Animated by "phase two" of some unknown contagion, the dead begin to rise. At first slow, blind, dumb and lumbering, quickly the bodies regain their most basic senses and abilities... sight, hearing, locomotion... As well as the instinct toward aggression and violence.  Held back only by the restraints of their rapidly decomposing flesh, the dead seem to have only one single goal - to lumber forth and destroy the sole remaining attraction in the silent, lifeless world: those who have survived the plague, who now find themselves outnumbered 1,000,000 to 1...
While the first Autumn novel focused on those who escaped the city, Autumn: The City focuses on those who didn't.
Without ever using the 'Z' word, the Autumn series offers a new perspective on the traditional zombie story. There's no flesh eating, no fast-moving corpses, no gore for gore's sake. Combining the atmosphere and tone of George Romero's classic living dead films with the attitude and awareness of 28 Days (and Weeks) later, this horrifying and suspenseful novel is filled with relentless cold, dark fear.
A Rattling of Bones C. J. Henderson [Elder Signs Press]
When weapon designer Raymond Du Raire hears whispers that his father has risen from the dead, he returns to his native Haiti to deal with what he believes are nothing more than vulgar rumors. Within a day of his arrival, however, he discovers that the dead are indeed walking the Earth. Moreover, he finds that this is not the work of voodoo tricksters, but a plague loosed upon the world by the discovery of an ancient crystal. Before he can begin to comprehend what has happened, Raymond finds himself in a swirling storm of corporate deceit and government cover-ups as a nightmare of zombie madness begins to stretch across the entire world.
The Lost Gate Orson Scott Card (Tor Hardcover)
The Old Gods are not gone…they are living quietly in present day Virginia. Thus begins The Lost Gate, the first novel in a new series from Orson Scott Card. Scott weaves another homespun, folksy fantasy as only he can. The Gods have long ago been cutoff from their home and the source of most of their power by Loki, who closed all the gates to their world. Now the Norse Gods, referred to as the North Family, as well as Gods from the Greek and other mythologies are little more than shadows of their former greatness. They hide from the rest of the world raising their families in remote parts of the world. 
While they do not have their former powers they still can control magic and train their children in the use of their abilities. All but Danny, the son of this era’s “Odin” who is labeled “drekka” a person born without magical powers. Danny is treated with scorn by most of his clan and he even fears he might be put to death because of his lack of powers. Until Danny learns not only does he have power, but he’s a Gatemage, a person with the ability to open magical gateways and travel instantaneously throughout the land and even to other worlds. Just one problem though…Gatemages are strictly outlawed and are put to death. Danny knows the only way for him to survive is to leave his clan but leaving is also outlawed and Danny knows his clan will do everything they can to find him. Danny now has to make his way in the regular world, trying to pass as a normal human and discover how to control his powerful ability. 
Scott’s magic system is essentially elemental in nature as the various mages usually are able to control a specific element such as air, fire, water, stone, plantlife, The concept of Gods now being basically mages is an interesting twist. Danny’s is a typical coming of age story but he’s not necessarily always a likeable character. He makes some poor choices along the way, sometimes simply due to inexperience and other times just due to greed. Scott has unleashed a new series with characters who are well-developed and unique. The book is a tad light at just under 400 pages but the action is steady throughout. Grade B+
The Book of Knights L.A. Williams (Sterling Publishing Hardcover)
Some of the most romanticized characters in myth, history, and fantasy literature are knights, those powerful warriors who are pious and heroic but also villainous and evil. Knights of all manner are celebrated in this beautifully illustrated hardcover book from Sterling that is perfect for display on your coffee table…or any other table you may have in your home. The book features stunning work by a quartet of talented artists: L.A. Williams, Donato Giancola, Mark Poole, and Ruth Thompson.  All four have had their work appear for numerous book, videogame, role-playing, and trading card publishers.
The first third of the book deals with knights from a historical perspective. It looks at the process and ceremony of becoming a knight and the values of knighthood. There are entries on heraldry, the weapons and armor of a knight, combat styles and more. The next chapter covers myths and legends and looks at any of the medieval legends and tales of knights including Siegfried, The Black Knight, Saint George, Don Quixote. This includes excerpts from many romantic poems written by the likes of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Robert Browning. The final section cover the most famous knights of all from legend, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
The information isn’t comprehensive or scholarly by any means. It’s more like a primer on Knight mythology with an excuse to present 130 pages of gorgeous artwork. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Grade A-