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Weekly Book Buzz: Robert Holdstock Passes Away

New Harry Turtledove Novel

By Tim Janson     November 29, 2009


Harry turtledove’s Liberating Atlantis
© ROC Books

 

We begin with some sad news for fantasy fans. Robert Holdstock passed away Sunday at the age of 61. Holdstock had been hospitalized since November 18th due to an E coli infection. Holdstock is best remembered for his Ryhope Wood series. The series began with Holdstock’s breakthrough novel Mythago Wood in 1984. The novel garnered Holdstock a World Fantasy Award for best novel in 1985. The series also included Lavondyss (1988), The Bone Forest (1991), The Hollowing (1993), Merlin's Wood (1994), a novel and two short stories (only published in the UK), Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn (1997) and Avilion, published in July 2009. 
 
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and a safe Black Friday. Seems every year we hear about fights breaking out at stores due to idiots who just have to get that hot deal and don’t care who they step on to get it. I never quite got the whole Black Friday appeal but then I am not one for crowds.
 
This week is a little less hectic than last. There are some great new releases including Harry Turtledove’s latest Liberating Atlantis, a Valdemar anthology edited by Mercedes Lackey, and a new League novel from Sherrilyn Kenyon. 
 
I have a review of the new Joe Schreiber horror novel and the latest Hack/Slash graphic novel so dig in for some Thanksgiving leftovers!
 
 
 
Spells of the City Jean Rabe (DAW)
 
Venture into Spells of the City, where a troll may be your toll collector on the George Washington Bridge...Harry the Book will be happy to place your best in a spellbinding alternative New York...a gargoyle finds himself left to a lonely rooftop existence when he's forced to live by his creator's rules...and leprechauns must become bank robbers to keep up with the demand for their gold.
 
Liberating Atlantis Harry Turtledove (ROC Hardcover)
 
Frederick Radcliff is a descendant of the family that founded Atlantis's first settlement, and his grandfather Victor led the army against England to win the nation's independence. But he is also a black slave, unable to prove his lineage, and forced to labor on a cotton plantation in the southern region of the country.
 
Frederick feels the color of his skin shouldn't keep him from having the same freedoms his ancestors fought and died for. So he becomes the leader of a revolutionary army of slaves determined to free all of his brethren across Atlantis...
 
The Gargoyle King: Ogre Titans, Volume Three (The Ogre Titans) Richard A. Knaak (Wizards of the coast)
 
A climactic battle of magic and steel from the New York Times best-selling author of The Legend of Huma! The Titans have gained the Fire Rose and seized the ogre realms from the Grand Khan Golgren. With the powerful artifact created by the god, Sirrion, they have literally recreated the capital, Garantha, and they intend to remold the people next. Although the Titans believe Golgren is dead, the half-breed survives. With few he can trust and facing magic, treachery, and distrustful gods, Golgren must find the answer in his own past if he has any hope of overcoming the Titans and the powers of the Fire Rose. In doing so, however, he risks becoming a pawn of the gargoyle king.
 
Dragon Rule: Book Five of The Age of Fire E.E. Knight (Roc TPB)
 
Scattered across a continent, three dragon siblings are among the last of a dying breed-the final hope for their species' survival. Wistala, sister to the Copper who is now Emperor of the Upper World, has long thought humans the equal of dragons. She leads the Firemaids, fierce female fighting dragons who support the Hominids of Hypatia. Which puts her at odds with both her brothers, for the Copper has no use for the humans he now dominates and AuRon, the rare scale-less grey, would isolate himself and his family from both the world of men and the world of dragons. But as the Copper's empire roils with war, greed, and treachery, the time is fast approaching when Wistala will have to choose who to stand with- and fight for...
 
Confessions of a Demon S.L. Wright (Roc)
 
After accidentally stealing the life force of a dying demon, Allay became the only human-demon hybrid in existence. Demons feed on human emotions, so Allay decided the safest way to satisfy this need-and still retain some semblance of her humanity-was to open a bar. Here she can drink from, and ease, her patrons' pain, which has helped her to stay under the demon radar...until now.
 
When Allay is attacked and nearly killed by another demon, a human comes to her rescue. Theo Ram is tall, handsome, and mortal-and Allay feels a connection to him she didn't think she'd ever know. But that bond is tested when the demon community in New York begins to rise up, and two opposing clans fight for power. Now Allay is caught in the middle, and she must decide where her loyalties lie.
 
Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar Mercedes Lackey (DAW)
 
In March 1987, a young author from Oklahoma published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. This modest book about a magical land called Vademar was the beginning of a fantasy masterpiece that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles. Now sixteen of today's hottest fantasy authors-including Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Fiona Patton, and Judith Tarr-visit the world of Valdemar, adding their own special touches.
 
Born of Ice (A League Novel) Sherrilyn Kenyon (St. Martin’s)
 
In the Ichidian Universe, the League and its ruthless assassins continue to keep rule. But at what cost? Welcome back to the future…and a whole new world.
 
Devyn Kell spent his life in service to the League until he learned of the double dealing and backstabbing that was costing innocent people their lives. Refusing to play those politics, he became a Runner—someone who makes sure planets get the weapons, medicine and supplies they need to survive. May the gods have mercy on any who get in his way, because he definitely won’t.
 
Alix Garran is a woman on the run from a past she can’t escape. Signing on to work for Devyn as a System’s Engineer, she finds a cause she can fight for—and a man she can respect. But as Alix’s past catches up to her, and Devyn’s old enemies turn lethal, they have to fight together…or fall alone.
 
New In Science Fiction
 
One Good Soldier Travis S Taylor (Baen Hardcover)
 
One Good Soldier is the third book in the rapid-fire hard science military SF series of One Day on Mars and The Tau Ceti Agenda. In another 24-like narrative set six years after the events in The Tau Ceti Agenda, this exciting action story unfolds in a single critical day in the history of the United States of the Sol System, the extra-solar colonies, the Separatist Revolutionaries of the Tau Ceti system, and all of mankind.  
 
As another of Earth’s colonies, Ross 128, secedes from the union, the President of the United States, former marine major Alexander Moore, takes swift action to prevent a second American Civil War, this time on an interstellar scale. He sends the flagship of the U.S. Naval fleet through the Quauntum Membrane Teleporter based in the Oort Cloud to the seceding colony. But the Tau Ceti Separatists have stationed their own teleporter there and the flagship will be met with heavy resistance from the Separatist Navy.
 
And, unknown to the president and first lady, their eighteen year old military school cadet daughter has been kidnapped and whisked away to the Separatist leader's house on Tau Ceti.
Only the heroics and sacrifices of one good soidier after another can save the flagship, the Union, and the first daughter in an all-out winner-take-all showdown that reaches its final climax with frenzied hand-to-hand combat in the Oval Office itself.
 
Darkscape: Redemption R. Garland Gray (Medallion Press)
 
In this science fiction romance that blends clan alliances, historical heritage, and a feudal government, Declan de Douglas has come to Planet Forest to negotiate a trade agreement with the treacherous Clan MacKendrick. Despite his training on Planet Mars under the Braemer Keep of Clan Douglas, Declan is not prepared for the peril ahead and ends up in the collared life of slavery. Fallon MacKendrick, princess of the MacKendrick clan, has fallen deeply in love with this forbidden savage despite the laws of her betrothal contract. When she later discovers that he has been kidnapped, she resolves to rescue the haunted man who touched her heart. But the destined lovers are doomed unless Declan’s soul can accept the DNA synthesis that has altered his physical makeup. Princess Fallon holds his life in her hands—the only woman with the power to save him from his captors and himself.
 
Cobra Alliance: Cobra War: Book One Timothy Zahn (Baen Hardcover)
 
When the colony worlds Adirondack and Silvern fell to the Troft forces almost without a struggle. Outnumbered and on the defensive, Earth made a desperate decision. It would attack the aliens not from space, but on the ground—with forces the Trofts did not even suspect. Thus were created the Cobras, a guerilla force whose weapons were surgically implanted, invisible to the unsuspecting eye, yet undeniably deadly. And the Moreau family were the most famous of the Cobra warriors.
 
Long after victory over the Troft was achieved, the Cobras made common cause against their former adversaries against a new enemy. Their reward was three planets that would be a home for the Cobras, whose deadly powers made them too dangerous to feel at home on Earth.
 
Now, years had passed and not everyone on the Cobra worlds thought that the Cobras were worth the high cost of providing their training and maintaining their existing built-in weaponry, let alone supporting research to improve the Cobra weapons, and possibly even put an end to the negative effects of that built-in weaponry, which caused Cobras to die much too young. Many who had never known interplanetary war were convinced that the Cobras were not needed at all. That was a grave miscalculation, because a new menace was approaching, one that even the formidable Cobra warriors might not be able to defeat . . .
 
New In Horror
 
Lori Robert Bloch (IDW Graphic Novel)
 
After graduating from college, Lori returns home only to lose her parents in a fire. In the wake of this tragedy, unusual events begin to unfold, starting with the discovery of a girl named Priscilla Fairmount in an old high school yearbook who looks just like Lori. But the yearbook is from before Lori was born! Now, suspected by the police for being involved in the fire, Lori begins a descent into madness, convinced that her "twin," Priscilla, is attempting to take over her mind... unaware of the brutal role she herself may be playing in the events which now shape her fate. From Robert Bloch, the master of American horror, Lori is a cerebral and terrifying read.
 
Skarlet Thomas Emson (Snowbooks)
 
Fear grips London as dozens of clubbers die after taking a sinister new drug. Forty-eight hours later, the dead clubbers wake up-and it's open season on the living, who are butchered for their blood. London gives a name to its terror: VAMPIRES. But the vampire plague unleashed in London is nothing to what lurks beneath the streets.
 
Saga of the Swamp Thing Book Two Alan Moore (DC comics Graphic Novel)
 
Before WATCHMEN, Alan Moore made his debut in the U.S. comic book industry with the revitalization of the horror comic book THE SWAMP THING. His deconstruction of the classic monster stretched the creative boundaries of the medium and became one of the most spectacular series in comic book history.
 
In this second collection of the Swamp Thing hardcover featuring SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #28-34 and SWAMP THING ANNUAL #2, the Earth Elemental says goodbye to the illusion of his own humanity after learning that he is 100 percent plant, meets a crew of benevolent alien invaders inspired by the classic swamp-based comic strip Pogo, and consummates his relationship with Abigail Arcane as only he could.
 
Dracula the Undead Freda Warrington (Severn House Hardcover)
 
The legend returns . . . - It is seven years since a stake was driven through the heart of the infamous Count Dracula. Seven years which have not eradicated the terrible memories for Jonathan and Mina Harker, who now have a young son. To lay their memories to rest they return to Transylvania, and can find no trace of the horrific events. But, beneath the earth, Dracula’s soul lies in limbo, waiting for the Lifeblood that will revive him . . .
 
New in Non-Fiction
 
English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema Jonathan Rigby (Reynolds & Hearn)
 
Though British horror films enjoyed a golden age from the mid-'50s to the mid-'70s, film critics were long reluctant to give Britain its due, according to film historian Jonathan Rigby. He buries any lingering doubts about his country's unique and considerable contributions to the genre in English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema, taking readers on a deliciously chilling ride from the silent era through 1975. Particularly riveting are the more than 150 film stills and other black-and-white photos that capture characters cowering in fear, being stalked by mummies and turning into werewolves.
 
Vampire Lovers: Cinema's Seductive Creatures of the Night Gavin Baddeley (Plexus Press)
 
A new generation was awakened to the romantic lure of the vampire genre with Robert Pattinson's portrayal of Twilight’s soulful vampire, Edward Cullen. This book is for all those whose thirst remains unsated. A heady history of the silver screen’s undead dreamboats, this intoxicating study examines each of the mesmerizing performers who have taken on the role of leading vampire. From Buffy’s brooding flames David Boreanaz and James Marsters to Stephen Moyer, the pulse-quickening star of True Blood, every intriguing incarnation of Stoker’s monster is found here. Beginning with radical characters like Kate Beckinsale’s gun-wielding, PVC-clad action hero in Underworld and ending with delectably dark visions of legends Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi, the book demonstrates precisely why the fascination with this genre — much like Cullen’s timeless love — will never die. Illustrated with more than 100 irresistible film stills, Vampire Lovers is essential reading for any well-informed fan.
 
Reviews
 
Hack/Slash Volume 6 In Revenge and in Love (Devil’s Due Graphic Novel)
 
 
I’ve been singing the praises of Hack/Slash from the very beginning as one of the very best horror comics in the business. Horror with a dash of witty and irreverent humor that keeps things just light enough to lull you into a false state of comfort before one of the series’ slashers grabs you by the throat.
 
Volume 6 collects issues 18 – 23 of the ongoing series as well as the one-shot Entry Wound. Cassie and her hulking partner in monster-hunting, Vlad, are just coming off their most recent hunt and things did not go well. She finally met her father, Jack, who was working with Herbert West, The Re-animator, to try and resurrect Cassie’s mom, the killer known as “The Lunch Lady”. But Cassie’s mom is still a homicidal maniac and she kills Jack leaving Cassie to kill her mother…again. 
 
Fresh off this traumatic experience, Cassie is virtually shocked into a near comatose state. Unresponsive to Vlad, he contacts her friend Georgia to help left Cassie out of her morose mood. It works too well…Cassie and Georgia share and intimate moment, which causes Vlad to become Jealous. And that’s not all, Cassie decides she’s had enough with monster-hunting. She wants to have a normal life leaving Vlad to ponder what will become of him. As if that were not bad enough, a demon assassin has arrived to kill Cassie and the police have accused Cassie of many of the murders committed by the Slashers that she and Vlad have dispatched.
 
Writer Tim Seeley gives Cassie and Vald a great deal of emotional depth throughout this story arc. Cassie’s doubts about her mission and own sexuality provide her with a fork in the road to her destiny. This is her opportunity to completely change her future. Meanwhile poor Vlad displays a vulnerability that belies his powerful frame. Vlad’s dependency on Cassie for his own survival makes him realize just how fragile his own future may be.
 
I normally live consistency when it comes to art but Hack/Slash has always used a variety of artists from one issue to the next, with each having their own unique interpretation of Cassie and the diversity works well. The consistency is there…consistently outstanding and entertaining! Grade A
 
 
No Doors, No Windows Joe Schreiber (Del Rey TPB)
 
 
Joe Schreiber wrote one of the best horror novels of 2006 with Chasing the Dead. That was followed up with Eat the Dark, a claustrophobic tale of evil in an abandoned hospital. In his latest horror novel, Schreiber turns to small-town horror and hidden secrets which haunt the tiney New Hampshire town. 
 
Scott Mast, a greeting card writer, has returned home for the funeral of his father. He’s at odds with his alcoholic brother Owen, but care’s for Owen’s son Henry like he was his own child. While rummaging through is father’s old belongings, Scott comes across an old, unfinished manuscript…a horror novel bout a strange house that has no angles in it at all. It’s a geometry-defying home where every corner is rounded and a forgotten door leads to a hallway that should not exist. Not only does Scott find the novel but he finds that the home actually exists in the small town…overgrown and long forgotten, Scott leases the home and sets about trying to finish his father’s novel.
 
Scott soon begins to uncover dark secrets about not only the town’s past, but his own families mysteries which may have been better left alone. The local theater burned down years ago when a film made by his great uncle was being shown. Now that long lost film has been found and Scott is petrified by what he sees on the screen…A terrifying tall man who seems to be looking straight off screen at the viewers and a little girl…Rosemary who disappeared without a trace decades ago. As Scott continues to work on his novel, he is drawn more and more into terrifying delusions as the story, and The Round House begin to gnaw at his sanity and his very soul.
 
No Doors, No Windows is a little slower to grab readers like his earlier books did but what Schreiber does so well is to build suspense, revealing his mysteries and secrets methodically and having them play out over the cast of characters. Speaking of characters, this story has a much larger cast of supporting characters than in Schreiber’s other books which had only a modest number of characters yet they will all play important roles in the story. There’s a little bit of Stephen King and a little bit of Lovecraft to be found here in another excellent effort from Schreiber. Grade B+

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