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Weekly Book Buzz: New Sookie Stackhouse Collection

And R.A. Salvatore's Latest Drizz't Do 'Urden Adventure

By Tim Janson     October 04, 2009

A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris(2009).
© Ace Books


Another fairly big release week highlighted by Charlaine Harris’ “A Touch of the Dead” a collection of all of her Sookie Stackhouse short stories which have exploded in popularity thanks to the HBO TV show “True Blood”. 
…Also out this week, R.A. Salvatore’s “The Ghost King” the third book in the Transitions series starring his popular swords and sorcery character, the dark elf Drizz’t Do ‘urden.
…Announced this past week, Sci-Fi authors Joe Haldeman and John Varley are the winners of the Robert A. Heinlein Award for 2009. The award is for "outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings to inspire the human exploration of space."
New In Fantasy
A Touch of Dead Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse) (Ace)
Every Sookie Stackhouse short story ever written-in one special volume-from the New York Times bestselling author. New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris has re-imagined the supernatural world with her "spunky" (Tampa Tribune) Southern Vampire novels starring telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse. Now, for the first time, here is every Sookie Stackhouse short story ever written-together in one volume. Stories include "Fairy Dust," "One Word Answer," "Dracula Night," "Lucky," and "Giftwrap."
The Ghost King: Transitions, Book III R.A. Salvatore (Wizards of The Coast Hardcover)
When the Spellplague ravages Faerûn, Drizzt and his companions are caught in the chaos. Seeking out the help of the priest Cadderly–the hero of the recently reissued series The Cleric Quintet–Drizzt finds himself facing his most powerful and elusive foe, the twisted Crenshinibon, the demonic crystal shard he believed had been destroyed years ago.
Dragon's Ring Dave Freer (Baen Hardcover)
Tasmarin is a place of dragons, a plane cut off from all other worlds, where dragons can be dragons and humans can be dinner. It’s a place of islands, forests, mountains and wild oceans, filled with magical denizens. Fionn—the black dragon—calmly tells anyone who will listen that he’s going to destroy the place. Of course he’s a joker, a troublemaker and a dragon of no fixed abode. No one ever believes him.     He’s dead serious.    Others strive to refresh the magics that built this place. To do so they need the combined magics of all the intelligent species, to renew the ancient balance and compact. There is just one problem. They need a human mage, and dragons systematically eliminated those centuries ago. Their augury has revealed that there is one, and they seek her desperately. Unfortunately, she’s fallen in with Fionn, who really doesn’t want them to succeed. He has his own reasons and dark designs.   The part he hadn’t worked out is that she will affect his plans too. Chaos, roguery, heroism, theft, love, kidnapping, magic and war follow. And more chaos.  
City of Jade: A Novel of Mithgar Dennis L. McKiernan (Roc)
The myth of a lost city carved of precious jade has proven irresistible to many in Mithgar. Now Aravan, captain of the Elven ship Eroean, has undertaken a quest to find it. With his true love Aylis, the Magekind Seeress, beside him and a crew of men and dwarves, he sets sail to follow the lure of legend.
New In Sci-Fi
Vigilante: A Major Ariane Kedros Novel Laura E. Reeve (Roc)
Amidst an uneasy peace between the Autonomists and the Terrans, Major Ariane Kedros and her partner, Matthew Journey, have discovered alien ruins on a remote planet-ruins that bear evidence to an ancient and highly advanced technology. But their discovery has drawn the interest of high stakes players from every corner of the universe-including that of the rogue leader of a fringe Terran sect. Ari must find a way to stop him, before they all become ancient history...
The Tuloriad (The Legacy of Aldenata) John Ringo (Baen Hardcover)
Of the once innumerable battle clans of the possess only a handful survive. And that on the sufferance of a group of despised Indowy and Himmit. Plucked from the maelstrom on Earth they are cast out into the eternal blackness of the stars with only a slightly insane Indowy and a computer virus to guide them. What follows is a trail of tears and remembrance as the Posleen retrace the footsteps of their ancestors in a search for their homeworld. A search to determine if the Posleen posess the one thing no Human would give them credit for: A soul. Returned to their beginnings, the question remains: Is there a new path for the Tular Posleen?
At Empire's Edge William C. Dietz (Ace Hardcover)
In a far-distant future, the Uman Empire has spread to the stars and beyond, conquering and colonizing worlds, ruling with a benevolent-but iron-fist. The Pax Umana reigns, and all is well. But on one planet, the remnants of a violent, shape-shifting race called the Sagathis are confined, kept captive by xeno-cops, who have been bio-engineered to be able to see through their guises. Still, sometimes one manages to escape.
Zak Cato is a xeno-cop. He's returning a fugitive Sagathi when things go horribly wrong. Cato- the only survivor after the rest of his men are slaughtered-must now figure out who betrayed them and bring the alien in, whatever the cost.
New In Horror
Hunting Memories: A Vampire Memories Novel Barb Hendee (Roc Trade)
Eleisha Clevon has begun a correspondence with fellow vampire Rose de Spenser. Both reluctant predators, they venture outside only when the hunger becomes unbearable, trying not to draw attention to themselves-and feel guilty when ending human lives. But Eleisha has learned a way to draw blood from her victims without killing them. She wants to share this knowledge with like-minded vampires and create a haven where they can exist together-and forge a united front against Julian Ashton, a vampire who has been hunting down and destroying his own kind...
Friday Night Bites: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel Chloe Neill (NAL)
Ten months after vampires revealed their existence to the mortals of Chicago, they're enjoying a celebrity status usually reserved for the Hollywood elite. But should people learn about the Raves-mass feeding parties where vampires round up humans like cattle-the citizens will start sharpening their stakes.
So now it's up to the new vampire Merit to reconnect with her upper class family and act as liaison between humans and bloodsuckers, and keep the more unsavory aspects of the vampire lifestyle out of the media. But someone doesn't want peace between them-someone with an ancient grudge...
Lovecraft Unbound Ellen Datlow (Dark Horse)
The stories are legendary, the characters unforgettable, the world horrible and disturbing. Howard Phillips Lovecraft may have been a writer for only a short time, but the creations he left behind after his death in 1935 have shaped modern horror more than any other author in the last two centuries: the shambling god Cthulhu, and the other deities of the Elder Things, the Outer Gods, and the Great Old Ones, and Herbert West, Reanimator, a doctor who unlocked the secrets of life and death at a terrible cost. In Lovecraft Unbound, more than twenty of today's most prominent writers of literature and dark fantasy tell stories set in or inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft.
Frostbite: A Werewolf Tale David Wellington (Three Rivers Press)
There’s one sound a woman doesn’t want to hear when she’s lost and alone in the Arctic wilderness: a howl.
When a strange wolf’s teeth slash Cheyenne’s ankle to the bone, her old life ends, and she becomes the very monster that has haunted her nightmares for years. Worse, the only one who can understand what Chey has become is the man–or wolf–who’s doomed her to this fate. He also wants to chop her head off with an axe.
Yet as the line between human and beast blurs, so too does the distinction between hunter and hunted . . . for Chey is more than just the victim she appears to be. But once she’s within killing range, she may find that–even for a werewolf–it’s not always easy to go for the jugular.
The Book of Illumination: A Novel from the Ghost Files Mary Ann Winkowski (Three Rivers Press)
The criminal underworld meets the spiritual otherworld in this thrilling debut collaboration between the inspiration for television’s The Ghost Whisperer and an award-winning writer/director.
Anza O’Malley is in most ways a typical single mom. She lives a happy, busy life with her five-year-old son in Cambridge, Massachusetts, juggling the joys and challenges of life as a doting parent and a freelance bookbinder. But there is more to Anza than meets the "ungifted" eye: she can see and speak with ghosts.
Although she’s been solving cold cases for the police for years, Anza has been hoping to focus her energies on her son and her bookbinding career. But when an exquisite and priceless illuminated manuscript is stolen from the Boston Athenaeum, and when its desecration spurs the appearance of some very unhappy spirits, Anza can neither look nor walk away. With an unlikely trio of ghosts by her side–a charming butler and two medieval monks–Anza leads us on an urgent journey through Boston’s winding, cobbled streets to uncover a trail of deceit, danger, and ghoulish intrigue.
The Return of the Black Company Glen Cook (Tor)
Glen Cook really bothers me…And I mean that in the most complimentary way. I’ve always thought Cook should be considered one of the greats of modern fantasy but for some reason, true superstardom has eluded him. His Black Company series is the pinnacle of his work. A series of gritty fantasies punctuated by outstanding characters. The Black Company novels continue to be re-released in a series of omnibus editions, the latest featuring the novels Bleak Seasons and She is the Darkness.
The Black Company is an elite free Mercenary group and its annals are told by Croaker. “Bleak Seasons” is the sixth book in the series and told through the eyes Murgen, the group’s standard-bearer. Murgen is not Croaker and Cook successfully gives him a very different personality. Intentionally or not, the book moves at a slower pace than previous books and gets confusing because so much of it is told in flashbacks the keep the reader guessing just where we are at in the story. 
“She is Darkness” continues where “Bleak Seasons” left off and thankfully picks up the pace as the Black Company battles against the Shadowmasters. While the flashbacks continue, Cook weaves in some new plotlines that forwards the story along much better than in the previous novel. 
It’s tough doing a review of what is essentially the middle of the series. You really do need to start from the beginning but it’s well worth it. Grade B
Will Eisner’s The Spirit: The New Adventures Archive Edition (Dark Horse Comics)
Volume 27 of the Spirit Archives presents a changed from previous volumes. Firtst off, it’s published by Dark Horse Comics and not DC Comics like the previous volumes in the series. So why the change? Well this volume collects the issues originally presented in The Spirit: The New adventures #1 – 8, originally published by Kitchen Sink Press in 1997 – 1998. So I guess the reason is Dark Horse had the rights to the Kitchen Sink material, and with DC’s blessing, published this volume to fit nicely in to the numbering of the DC volumes. 
The other thing that makes this volume different is that creator Will Eisner steps aside and allows an all-star lineup of writers and artists to take a stab at his legendary character. The talent roster includes writers Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, John Wagner, Kurt Busiek, Mark Shultz, John Ostrander, Joe R. Landsdale, and artists Dave Gibbons, Paul Pope, Tom Mandrake, Bo Hampton, Daniel Torres, And Paul Chadwick.
In fact the first three tales are courtesy of the famous Watchmen team of Moore and Gibbons but their tales are far from that cynical, yet groundbreaking work. Gibbons’ art is far removed from his Watchmen style, and done to emulate the noirish 1940s style of Eisner. Their tale “The Most Important Meal” gives a take on the death of Denny Colt as seen through the eyes of the man who killed him.
These tales feature the Spirit’s usual cast of characters including his famous femme fatales Sand Saref, Mink Stole and Villains like Dr. Cobra. The group does a surprisingly masterful job of capturing the, uhhh…spirit of the Spirit including Eisner’s trademark sense of humor. Not all of the artists are able to frame their work in the Eisner style…he was essentially a film director working in panel art…but the art is uniformly outstanding throughout. I tend to think these Archive books, and not just the Spirit, but all of them from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, etc., are a bit over-priced at $50. Still this is great work by a fantastic group of comic creators. Grade A-


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jonnjonnzz 10/5/2009 7:28:08 AM

Does anybody bother to proofread their book reviews before posting them?

DarthDuck 10/5/2009 12:52:39 PM

Are the Transitions book a good jumping-on point?  I've only read Salvatore's Sellswords trilogy I've enjoyed these books and am very interested in the larger world, but can't see myself going all the way back to the beginning of the series.  Any suggestions on where I go next?  Thanks.



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