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The Weekly Book Buzz: The Robert E. Howard Chronicles Now Available

New Science Fiction from Kim Stanley Robinson

By Tim Janson     December 29, 2009


The Robert E. Howard Chronicles
© Dark Horse

 

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and my best wishes for a Happy New Year. It’s a bid release week in terms of numbers although not a lot of top end releases. Hopefully Santa stuffed your stocking with cash or gift cards so you can check into all the new titles out this week. My pick of the week is certainly the Robert E. Howard Chronicles which you can read about in detail down in the reviews section. Suffice to say this is a book any Howard fan will need to add to their collection.
 
New in Fantasy
 
Turned (THE BLOOD LILY CHRONICLES) Julie Kenner (Ace)
When Lily Carlyle died in an act of vengeance, she came back as an assassin for the light. But when she discovered her masters' true darkness, she decided to choose the right side for once...
 
Her own.
 
With her cover as a double agent inside the forces of evil blown, Lily has no choice but to go underground. She takes along a cadre of warriors: humans, angels, demons, and other trusted creatures. Their only hope is to stop the forces who are attempting to use the Ninth gate as a wedge that will unleash the fury of Hell.
 
Spellbent Lucy A. Snyder (Del Rey)
 
In the heart of Ohio, Jessie Shimmer is caught up in hot, magic-drenched passion with her roguish lover, Cooper Marron, who is teaching her how to tap her supernatural powers. When they try to break a drought by calling down a rainstorm, a hellish portal opens and Cooper is ripped from this world, leaving Jessie fighting for her life against a vicious demon that's been unleashed.
 
In the aftermath, Jessie, who knows so little about her own true nature, is branded an outlaw. She must survive by her wits and with the help of her familiar, a ferret named Palimpsest. Stalked by malevolent enemies, Jessie is determined to find out what happened to Cooper. But when she moves heaven and earth to find her man, she'll be shocked by what she discovers—and by what she must ultimately do to save them all. 
 
Just Another Judgement Day Nightside Simon R. Green (Ace)
 
God's own enforcer, the righteous engine of destruction known as the Walking Man, has come to the Nightside. His sole purpose is the elimination of the wicked and the guilty, which means no one will be left in the Nightside once he gets started. So the Authorities have hired P.I. John Taylor to stop him. Legend has it that he can't be killed. Taylor is very much hoping that the legend isn't true.
 
Hallowed Circle Linda Robertson (Pocket)
 
Persephone Alcmedi has been persuaded to compete for the position of High Priestess of the Cleveland, Ohio, coven -- now that the former priestess, Vivian Diamond, has strangely gone missing. Unfortunately, there are a few small problems with the idea. Not only does Seph know rather more about Vivian's disappearance than the other witches realize, but the epic struggle she's just survived has left her with some highly unusual powers -- ones that could be dangerous to reveal. Despite her reluctance, she agrees to participate, if only to prevent snooty Hunter Hopewell, an obnoxious but talented witch, from ending up in the winner's circle. Can Seph hide her secrets -- including her connection to the master vampire-wizard Menessos -- from the terrifyingly wise judges? Plus, there's her rock 'n' roll werewolf boyfriend, Johnny, and some angry fairies to deal with....
 
Once the competition begins, a finalist turns up dead. It looks as if one of the contestants is willing to do anything -- including murder -- to win. Suddenly Seph has even more on her plate than she thought: from solving a murder to working out what her new powers really are...and exactly why they're creating so much havoc in her love life.
 
The Gods Return (Crown of the Isles) David Drake (Tor)
 
The Isles have been more or less unified under Garric’s rule, but the Change that created the continent has removed the old Gods of the Isles from reality and released other Gods from other planes of existence.
 
Now the servants of the forbidden Gods of Palomir call forth The Worm, an ancient thing that threatens to devour all life in the newly formed kingdom and make way for the reign of dark Gods, newly awakened to ambitions of worship and dominion. Some are bad . . . and some are worse.
 
Deadtown Nancy Holzner (Ace)
 
First in a brand new urban fantasy series that's "fresh and funny, with a great new take on zombies" (Karen Chance) and "full of dangerous magic and populated with characters so realistic, they almost jump off the page" (Ilona Andrews). If you were undead, you'd be home by now...
 
They call it Deadtown: the city's quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders-but Victory Vaughn, Boston's only professional demon slayer, isn't exactly human.
 
Dark Lady's Chosen (Chronicles of the Necromancer) Gail Z Martin (Solaris)
 
The fourth thrilling installment of Gail Z Martin's Chronicles of the Necromancer series sees Tris's kingdom on the brink of collapse and fate of Jonmarc Vahanian hanging in the balance as the vampires and the undead enter into a deadly civil war and threaten to unleash an even greater danger onto the world.
 
Bound By Sin (A Cin Craven Novel) Jenna Maclaine (St. Martin’s)
 
As the Civil War rages among mortal men, Cin Craven is locked in an epic battle of her own—fighting the renegade vampires whose unquenchable appetites she knows all too well. At her side are the immortal warriors of The Righteous—among them her husband, her lover, her soul-mate Michael. With a passion bordering on possession, Cin’s love for Michael knows no bounds. But when a ruthless plantation owner kidnaps Cin’s cousin, the most terrifying battle of all awaits. Cin is drawn to the irresistible lure of dark magic to stop their enemies, while Michael staunchly opposes it—putting their love and loyalty to the ultimate test. .
 
Tyrant's Blood: Book 2 of the Valisar Trilogy Fiona Mcintosh (Eos)
 
A decade has passed since the barbarian Loethar brutally conquered the last remaining, most powerful realm in the Denova Set—though the coveted Valisar Enchantment, the irresistible ability to coerce and control, eludes him still. Ten years since the warlord butchered the Set's royals and feasted on their blood. But he did not kill them all.
 
Having secretly escaped Loethar's wrath, the young Valisar prince Leonel has grown to manhood under the protection of the notorious highwayman Kilt Faris. Now the boy king wants more than his rightful throne of Penraven—he wants revenge. But not all of enslaved Penraven wishes for Leonel's rule; indeed, Loethar has spent the past ten years uniting the Set's realms into a peaceful, prosperous empire. And unbeknownst to all, the true inheritor of the Valisar Enchantment is awakening—and a dark threat, far more sinister than even the invasion of the barbarian horde a decade earlier, is poised to threaten the Crown and reveal the most shocking Valisar secret of all.
 
New in Science Fiction
 
Sunborn (Chaos Chronicles) Jeffrey A. Carver (Tor)
 
With fully realized characters, plenty of twists and turns, and a plot inspired by chaos theory, this exciting hard SF adventure will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
 
John Bandicut and several aliens and artificial intelligences have been thrown together by a force greater than themselves to prevent cataclysmic disasters on an interstellar scale. Now, before they can take a break after a world-saving mission, they are pulled into a waystation that is being threatened by highly destructive gravity waves.
 
The waves are part of a much larger problem. Something is causing stars to become unstable and go prematurely nova--they're being murdered. When the waystation is destroyed by the gravity waves, Bandicut and his crew barely escape on a jury-rigged ship. Their destination is a star nursery in the Orion Nebula, where sentient stars are being driven to destruction by an artificial intelligence bent on remaking the cosmos in its own image.
 
Starfist: Double Jeopardy (Del Rey Hardcover)
 
The Confederation has finally disclosed the existence of Skinks, fierce aliens bent on wiping out humankind, and announced its plan to find and destroy their home world. While the rest of the universe grapples with the news, the Skink-savvy Marines of the Confederation's Thirty-fourth Fleet Initial Strike Team (FIST) have their own take on the situation.
 
Though they're no longer in danger of being exiled to a ghastly netherworld for spilling the beans about the deadly aliens, the men still can't transfer out of the unit where they've been confined since they first laid eyes on the Skinks. The reason is obvious: Who else but the legendary Thirty-fourth FIST has the skills and experience to spearhead the invasion of the Skinks' home world?
 
Morale isn't improved by a report of Skinks on the uncolonized world of Ishtar near a mercenary force engaged in slave-driven mining operations there—which means that FIST must turn around and head right back into the jaws of hell with no downtime. But none of that matters to Lieutenant Charlie Bass and the third platoon of Company L. They're Marines, they're the best, and they've got a job to do. 
 
The Marines will find a planet ripped apart by all-out war, with enemies on all sides. The only certainty is that the fighting will rage red-hot and relentless, and Charlie Bass and his men will be right in the thick of the action.
 
Saint Antony's Fire Steve White (Baen)
 
In this alternate history romp, 16th-century Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, searching for the fountain of youth, instead finds a crashed UFO and a portal to another world. A century later, Father Jerónimo, an extraterrestrial Grella posing as a monk, is plotting an alien takeover after helping the Spanish Armada defeat the British with antimatter, or St. Antony's fire. Capt. Thomas Winslow, merchant adventurer and privateer, whisks Queen Elizabeth to safety in Virginia, accompanied by several notables including astrologer Dr. John Dee and young actor William Shakespeare. There they learn that the lost Roanoke colonists went to a world where 19 years have passed during one year on Earth, and Virginia now leads a war against the Grella.
 
Prison Ship Michael Bowers (Ace)
 
He has one choice: to flame out-or simply fade away... Framed for attempted murder against his superior, Commander-now convict-Jacob Steiner receives one last chance at redemption. As the captain of a Penitentiary Assault Vessel, he'll lead a desperate crew of thieves and murderers behind enemy lines in exchange for their freedom.
 
Galileo's Dream Kim Stanley Robinson (Spectra Hardcover)
 
The winner of every major science fiction award, Kim Stanley Robinson is a novelist who looks ahead with optimism even while acknowledging the steep challenges facing our planet and species: a clear-eyed realist who has not forgotten how to dream. His new novel offers his most audacious dream yet. At the heart of a brilliant narrative that stretches from Renaissance Italy to the moons of Jupiter is one man, the father of modern science: Galileo Galilei.
 
To the inhabitants of the Jovian moons, Galileo is a revered figure whose actions will influence the subsequent history of the human race. From the summit of their distant future, a charismatic renegade named Ganymede travels to the past to bring Galileo forward in an attempt to alter history and ensure the ascendancy of science over religion. And if that means Galileo must be burned at the stake, so be it.
 
Yet between his brief and jarring visitations to this future, Galileo must struggle against the ignorance and superstition of his own time. And it is here that Robinson is at his most brilliant, showing Galileo in all his contradictions and complexity. Robinson's Galileo is a tour de force of imaginative and historical empathy: the shining center around which the novel revolves.  
 
From Galileo's heresy trial to the politics of far-future Jupiter, from the canals of Venice to frozen, mysterious Europa, Robinson illuminates the parallels between a distant past and an even more remote future—in the process celebrating the human spirit and calling into question the convenient truths of our own moment in time. 
 
New In Horror
 
The Walking Dead Volume 11: Fear The Hunters Robert Kirkman (Image Comics Graphic Novel)
 
No one is safe in the aftermath of the most shocking Walking Dead storyline yet! The remaining survivors continue the road to Washington DC, but not everyone will make it out alive! Collecting issues #61-66 of the New York Times best-selling series, The Walking Dead!
 
Evil Ways (Morris & Chastain Investigations) Justin Gustainis (Solaris)
 
In a story that range from Baghdad to Los Angeles, EVIL WAYS see eccentric billionaire, Walter Grobius, attempt to unleash a devastating magical apocalypse. Quincey Morris, and his partner, white witch Libby Chastain, are drawn into their most deadliest case yet...
 
Decay Inevitable Conrad A Williams (Solaris)
 
DECAY INEVITABLE is a novel charting the grim territories of the shadow line that trembles at the very end of life.  These are badlands of horrifying dreams and demons where a black market in unspeakable goods takes place. A race is on to unearth the secrets of the soul... secrets woven into the fabric of death itself.
 
Blind Panic Graham Masterton (Leisure Horror)
 
Misquamacus is back . . . - The President of the United States is suddenly struck blind. Thousands more people mysteriously lose their sight, and America descends into chaos. Self-styled mystic Harry Erskine is telling fortunes in Miami when his friend Amelia Crusoe calls on him for help. Algonquin medicine man Misquamacus has come back to life to seek a final revenge for the massacre of his people. But, this time, the odds of beating Misquamacus are suicidal indeed .
 
Reviews
 
The Robert E. Howard Chronicles Slipcase Edition (Dark Horse Comics)
 
The Robert E. Howard Collection is a three book set of trade paperbacks, each featuring one of Howard’s best-known creations: Conan, King Kull, and Solomon Kane. The Chronicles of Conan Volume 1 reprints issues #1 through #8 of the original Marvel comic-book series including one of Howard’s most popular tales “Tower of the Elephant”. These early 1970s stories feature the work of rising star Barry Windsor Smith.
 
The Chronicles of Solomon Kane collects the six-issue Marvel miniseries The Sword of Solomon Kane which features adaptations of Howard stories as well as an original tale and issues #33 and #34 of Marvel Premiere. The Chronicles of Kull Volume 1 features the two earliest Marvel Comics Kull stories from Monsters on the Prowl #16 and Creatures on the Loose! #10, as well as the first nine issues of Kull the Conqueror. 
 
The Conan Stories have been reprinted fairly often over the years at Marvel and then again at Dark Horse. Smith’s version was of a younger, waifish Conan and was a stark contrast to future Conan artist John Buscema’s beefier version. Written by Roy Thomas, the foremost Conan comic’s scribe, these early tales of Conan’s life started the swords & Sorcery boom in comics that paved the way for Howard’s other characters as well as DC’s Warlord series.
 
The Solomon Kane stories are the real treat of this edition. Solomon Kane has been the least appreciated of Howard’s main creations but he’s arguably his most complex character. The Puritan adventurer was single-minded in his quest for vengeance, which propels him in the very first story, an adaptation of “Red Shadow” one version with spectacular art by Howard Chaykin. The only downer to the Kane book is “Hills of the Dead”. Great story but awful art by Jon Bogdanove whose Kane looks positively anorexic. 
 
The Kull book features art by Berni Wrightson on the very first Kull comic story. Kull always enjoyed outstanding and underrated art, mostly courtesy of the brother/sister team of John and Marie Severin. The Kull stories include Howard’s “The Shadow Kingdom” in which the newly crowned King Kull has to defend his throne from the insidious Serpent Men.
 
This is a fantastic set, showcasing some of the best artists of the 70s and 80s and, of course, the fertile and fantastic imagination of Robert E. Howard. Grade A+
 
 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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1 
LittleNell1824 1/1/2010 8:04:50 PM

Tim, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your column. I know there's not a lot of debate each week, but that's just because we haven't read the books yet, and by the time we have it's too late to comment.

I was just skimming through past columns searching for possible new series my husband and I might enjoy and it's great to have the summaries and categories available to do that.

So, best to you. You do a lot of work on this column for very little feedback, but we are reading and relying on the Weekly Book Buzz.

tjanson 1/2/2010 3:48:55 PM

thanks nell...I appreciate that.  I guess the sad thing is that people just don't read books like they used to...But we'll keep plugging away, giving you the best we can offer in terms of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror

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