Weekly Book Buzz: New Fantasy from Adrian Tchaikovsky (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Date: Sunday, April 24, 2011

 

A quick bit of awards news before we get into the week’s new releases…The winners of the BSFA Awards were announced at Illustrious 2011, this year’s Eastercon and include:
 
NEW IN FANTASY
 
The Scarab Path (Shadows of the Apt, Book 5) Adrian Tchaikovsky [Pyr]
 
The war with the Wasp Empire has ended in a bitter stalemate, and Collegium has nothing to show for it but wounded veterans. Cheerwell Maker finds herself crippled in ways no doctor can mend, haunted by ghosts of the past that she cannot appease, seeking for meaning in a city that no longer seems like home. The Empress Seda is regaining control over those imperial cities who refused to bow the knee to her, but she draws her power from something more sinister than mere armies and war machines. Only her consort, the former spymaster Thalric, knows the truth, and now the assassins are coming and he finds his life and his loyalties under threat yet again. Out past the desert of the Nem the ancient city of Khanaphes awaits them both, with a terrible secret entombed beneath its stones...
 
Infernal Devices (Angry Robot) K.W. Jeter [Angry Robot]
 
HE INHERITED A WATCHMAKER'S STORE - AND A WHOLE HEAP OF TROUBLE. But idle sometime-musician George has little talent for clockwork. And when a shadowy figure tries to steal an old device from the premises, George finds himself embroiled in a mystery of time travel, music and sexual intrigue. A genuine lost classic, a steampunk original whose time has come.
 
Heaven's Needle Liane Merciel [Pocket]
 
Unaware of the danger, two inexperienced Illuminers set out for the village of Carden Vale, at the foot of Duradh Mal, to minister to the people. The warrior Asharre, her face scarred with runes, her heart scarred by loss, is assigned to protect the young clerics. But in Carden Vale they find unspeakable horrors—the first hint of a terrifying ghost story come true.
 
The Sun Knight Kelland has been set free by the woman he loves, the archer Bitharn, but at the cost of undertaking a mission only he can fulfill. Joined by a Thornlord steeped in the magic of pain, they too make their way to Duradh Mal. There lies the truth behind the rumors of the dead come back to life, flesh ripped from bones, and creatures destroying themselves in a violent frenzy. And if Kelland cannot contain the black magic that has been unleashed after six hundred years, an entire world will fall victim to a Mad God’s malevolent plague. . . .
 
Haven (Trial of Blood & Steel, Book 4) Joel Shepherd [Pyr]
 
The great powers of the Saalshen Bacosh are falling. The feudal army of the Regent Balthaar Arosh marches victorious across Rhodaan and Enora, determined to restore the old human ways that were abolished by the serrin of Saalshen two centuries before. The army of Lenayin marches in their wake, in shame. The greater battle was won, yet Lenayin's part in it was defeat, their king slain, their warriors sent running from the field.
Sashandra Lenayin marches with her people, yet she sees the carnage the Regent's armies are inflicting upon her former allies, and like most Lenays, she feels dishonored. Sasha leads three quarters of the army of Lenayin to defect and fight for Saalshen, leaving her brothers Koenyg and Myklas with the Verenthane hardliners to fight for the Regent.
 
All forces now converge on the city of Jahnd, an Enoran word meaning "Haven." A city of humanity's refugees in Saalshen, its serrin hosts have allowed it to build into a major power over the centuries, humankind's only outpost in Saalshen. But the Saalshen Bacosh's third province, the mountainous land of Ilduur, refuses to come to the aid of its neighbors and without it victory is impossible. Sasha must lead a delegation to the Ilduuri capital, to combat the xenophobic Ilduuri regime's retreat into isolation, and convince the Ilduuri army to defy their own leaders and rise up in rebellion to fight a foreign war that most Ilduuris do not want.
 
 
To save Saalshen and all that she loves about Lenayin, Sasha must become a true Lenay warlord, feared and hated by her enemies, uncompromising and all conquering. But will her own people now inflict upon her one of her worst nightmares, by insisting that she, and not her brother Damon, should assume the Lenay throne and lead her people in the greatest battle that the land of Rhodia has ever seen?
 
 
Five Odd Honors Jane Lindskold [Tor]
 
In 2008's Thirteen Orphans and 2009's Nine Gates, Brenda Morris discovered she had magical abilities through her connection to the Chinese power of the Rat. At her father's insistence, she tries to return to college and her normal life, but the Lands Born from Smoke and Sacrifice won't let go of her so easily. The Exiles have the chance to return to the Lands and bring five of their dead back to our world, but once they open a gate, they find the Lands have been corrupted by a powerful entity that now threatens other realms.
 
Camera Obscura (Angry Robot) Lavie Tidhar [Angry Robot]
 
CAN'T FIND A RATIONAL EXPLANATION TO A MYSTERY? CALL IN THE QUIET COUNCIL. The mysterious and glamorous Lady De Winter is one of their most valuable agents. A despicable murder inside a locked and bolted room on the Rue Morgue in Paris is just the start. This whirlwind adventure will take Milady to the highest and lowest parts of that great city - and cause her to question the very nature of reality itself.
 
Caledor (Time of Legends) Gav Thorpe [Games Workshop]
 
The rise of the Druchii has driven the land of Ulthuan into a brutal civil war. As conflict rages through the cities and forests, sides must be chosen and old allegiances and friendships will be torn apart forever. After by the betrayal by Malekith and the murder of his court, Prince Imrik adopts the name of his grandfather, the mighty Caledor, and the bloodshed escalates. No elf can escape the fighting, and the mighty dragons are awakened to the call of battle once more. Only a confrontation between legends can decide the future of Ulthuan, with Malekith and Caledor meeting blade to blade in a long-overdue reckoning. But even worse is to follow, as Malekith launches a final, desperate plan to triumph...
 
The Alchemist in the Shadows Pierre Pevel [Pyr]
 
Welcome to Paris, in 1633, where dragons menace the realm. Cardinal Richelieu, the most powerful and most feared man in France, is on his guard. He knows France is under threat, and that a secret society known as the Black Claw is conspiring against him from the heart of the greatest courts in Europe. They will strike from the shadows, and when they do the blow will be both terrible and deadly. To counter the threat, Richelieu has put his most trusted men into play: the Cardinal's Blades, led by Captain la Fargue. Six men and a woman, all of exceptional abilities and all ready to risk their lives on his command. They have saved France before, and the Cardinal is relying on them to do it again. So when la Fargue hears from a beautiful, infamous, deadly Italian spy claiming to have valuable information, he has to listen ...and when La Donna demands Cardinal Richelieu's protection before she will talk, la Fargue is even prepared to consider it. Because La Donna can name their enemy. It's a man as elusive as he is manipulative, as subtle as Richelieu himself, an exceptionally dangerous adversary: the Alchemist in the shadows ..
 
 
New In Sci-Fi
 
Retribution Falls Chris Wooding [Spectra]
 
Sky piracy is a bit out of Darian Frey’s league. Fate has not been kind to the captain of the airship Ketty Jay—or his motley crew. They are all running from something. Crake is a daemonist in hiding, traveling with an armored golem and burdened by guilt. Jez is the new navigator, desperate to keep her secret from the rest of the crew. Malvery is a disgraced doctor, drinking himself to death. So when an opportunity arises to steal a chest of gems from a vulnerable airship, Frey can’t pass it up. It’s an easy take—and the payoff will finally make him a rich man.
 
But when the attack goes horribly wrong, Frey suddenly finds himself the most wanted man in Vardia, trailed by bounty hunters, the elite Century Knights, and the dread queen of the skies, Trinica Dracken. Frey realizes that they’ve been set up to take a fall but doesn’t know the endgame. And the ultimate answer for captain and crew may lie in the legendary hidden pirate town of Retribution Falls. That’s if they can get there without getting blown out of the sky.
 
Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations: Watching the Clock Christopher L. Bennett [Star Trek Books]
 
There’s likely no more of a thankless job in the Federation than temporal investigation. While starship explorers get to live the human adventure of traveling to other times and realities, it’s up to the dedicated agents of the Federation Department of Temporal Investigations to deal with the consequences to the timestream that the rest of the Galaxy has to live with day by day. But when history as we know it could be wiped out at any moment by time warriors from the future, misused relics of ancient races, or accident-prone starships, only the most disciplined, obsessive, and unimaginative government employees have what it takes to face the existential uncertainty of it all on a daily basis . . . and still stay sane enough to complete their assignments.
That’s where Agents Lucsly and Dulmur come in—stalwart and unflappable, these men are the Federation’s unsung anchors in a chaotic universe. Together with their colleagues in the DTI—and with the help and sometimes hindrance of Starfleet’s finest—they do what they can to keep the timestream, or at least the paperwork, as neat and orderly as they are. But when a series of escalating temporal incursions threatens to open a new front of the history-spanning Temporal Cold War in the twenty-fourth century, Agents Lucsly and Dulmur will need all their investigative skill and unbending determination to stop those who wish to rewrite the past for their own advantage, and to keep the present and the future from devolving into the kind of chaos they really, really hate.
 
The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnaught Jack Campbell [Ace]
 
The Alliance woke Captain John "Black Jack" Geary from cryogenic sleep to take command of the fleet in the century-long conflict against the Syndicate Worlds. Now Fleet Admiral Geary's victory has earned him the adoration of the people-and the enmity of politicians convinced that a living hero can be a very inconvenient thing.
 
Geary knows that members of the military high command and the government question his loyalty to the Alliance and fear his staging a coup-so he can't help but wonder if the newly christened First Fleet is being deliberately sent to the far side of space on a suicide mission.
 
Flash Gordon Comic Book Archives Volume 3 [Dark Horse]
 
The champion of all Mongo returns in this new volume of classic comics stories! Flash Gordon Comic Book Archives Volume 3 reprints the full run of Flash Gordon stories originally published by Charlton Comics in the late 1960s, and with these amazing tales of outer-space adventure, Flash has quite a fight on his hands! Featuring eye-popping artwork from such comics luminaries as Jeff Jones and Pat Boyette, this new wave in the history of Flash Gordon promises thrills, excitement, and touches of wry comedy. Strange creatures, fantastic planetscapes, intense action - everything you love about Flash Gordon is here!
 
The Age of Darkness (Horus Heresy) Christian Dunn [Games Workshop]
 
After the betrayal at Isstvan, Horus begins his campaign against the Emperor, a galaxy-wide war that can lead only to Terra. But the road to the final confrontation between father and son is a long one – seven years filled with secrecy and silence, plans and foundations being formed across distant stars. An unknown history is about to be unveiled as light is shed on the darkest years of the Horus Heresy, and revelations will surface that will shake the Imperium to its very foundation...
 
New in Horror
 
The Sorrow King Andersen Prunty [Grindhouse]
 
The papers call it "The Suicide Virus." The teenagers of Gethsemane, Ohio, are killing themselves at an alarming rate. Steven Wrigley is trying to survive his senior year of high school, still reeling from the death of his mother and adjusting to life with his father. Along the way, he meets a girl who becomes another kind of obsession: Elise Devon.
 
Elise's secrets keep her distanced from everyone. She has a special place she calls the Obscura. She goes there when she is depressed or angry. The Obscura makes her feel like nothing she's ever felt before. When she loses herself to the Obscura, she fears she also gives herself to something much darker, something much more powerful. Something calling itself the Sorrow King. Who is the Sorrow King? He is carved from wood and bone. He smells like wax, dead leaves, and memories. He travels by moonlight and drinks the sorrow of others. Can love exact vengeance on a monster made from madness, depression, and misery? Or will the Sorrow King bleed the town dry before satiating himself and moving on?
 
REVIEWS
 
Thomas Ott R.I.P. Best of 1985 – 2004 (Fantagraphics)
 
 
Thomas Ott is Swiss-born artist and cartoonist who specializes in the macabre in the best tradition of EC Comics. Influenced by silent films, Ott’s stories feature no dialog balloons or captions and are comprised of various gradients of black and greytones. His style is somewhat reminiscent of Gahan Wilson crossed with Berni Wrightson. Like EC Comics of old, Ott’s work is filled with heavy ironic twists, usually to the detriment of the strip’s main character. The stories in the book are generally around 8 – 10 pages in length. 
 
In the opener, a man witnesses a mugging but stands idly by. Determined not to be scared again he trains his body ala Charles Atlas. When he witnesses another mugging he rushes in to help the woman, only to get shot to death. This typifies the types of stories that Ott tells. Another tale called “Goodbye” sees a man trying to commit suicide yet whether he hangs himself, drinks poison, or shoots himself in the head he survives. He then wakes to find out he was dreaming but looks out the window to see a mushroom cloud of a nuclear weapon. Grim, dark, and bewitching, R.I.P. is a collection of true horror from a master storyteller. Grade A


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