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Weekly Book Buzz: STAR WARS REPUBLIC COMMANDO
ORDER 66 highlights a big week in new releases
By Tim Janson
September 15, 2008
STAR WARS REPUBLIC COMMANDO: ORDER 66 by Karen Traviss
© Del Rey Books
While last week was a little light, this week’s genre releases are very strong, highlighted by Karen Traviss’ fourth Star Wars Republic Commando Novel, Order 66. The New York Times” #1 bestselling author’s three previous books have been very well received and this one is likely to top the charts again. In addition, Tor Books has a number of major new hardcover fantasy releases this week including the latest offerings by David Farland, Gene Wolfe, and Mercedes Lackey, and the new Sci-Fi novel from Larry Niven.
In the capsule review section I have three quickie reviews including Brian Keene’s latest zombie fest set in the world of his novels City of the Dead and The Rising. In addition to the capsule reviews in the column, please keep an eye out for the upcoming, full reviews of TwoMorrow’s The Flash Companion, EC Comics Archive collection Tales from the Vault Vol. 3, and Mistshore, the latest Forgotten Realms novel.
New In Fantasy
The Wyrmling Horde: The Seventh Book of the Runelords David Farland (Tor Books Hardcover)
The Saga of the Runelords is written in the finest tradition of Tolkien and other works that rise above the fantasy genre to special and individual heights. Now the epic story continues: at the end of Worldbinder, Fallion Orden, son of Gaborn, was imprisoned on a strange and fantastic world that he created by combining two alternate realities. It's a world brimming with dark magic, ruled by a creature of unrelenting evil who is gathering monstrous armies from a dozen planets in a bid to conquer the universe. Only Fallion has the power to mend the worlds, but at the heart of a city that is a vast prison, he lies in shackles. The forces of evil are growing and will soon rage across the heavens. Now, Fallion's allies must risk everything in an attempt to free him from the wyrmling horde.
Toll the Hounds: Book Eight of The Malazan Book of the Fallen Steven Erickson (Tor Books)
In Darujhistan, the city of blue fire, it is said that love and death shall arrive dancing. It is summer and the heat is oppressive, but for the small round man in the faded red waistcoat, discomfiture is not just because of the sun. All is not well. Dire portents plague his nights and haunt the city streets like fiends of shadow. Assassins skulk in alleyways, but the quarry has turned and the hunters become the hunted.
Hidden hands pluck the strings of tyranny like a fell chorus. While the bards sing their tragic tales, somewhere in the distance can be heard the baying of Hounds...And in the distant city of Black Coral, where rules Anomander Rake, Son of Darkness, ancient crimes awaken, intent on revenge. It seems Love and Death are indeed about to arrive...hand in hand, dancing. A thrilling, harrowing novel of war, intrigue and dark, uncontrollable magic, Toll the Hounds is the new chapter in Erikson's monumental series - epic fantasy at its most imaginative and storytelling at its most exciting.
The Phoenix Endangered: Book Two of The Enduring Flame Mercedes Lackey (Tor Books Hardcover)
InThe Phoenix Endangered, second in The Enduring Flame, Tiercel, a budding High Mage, and Harrier, a reluctant Knight-Mage, develop greater power—and learn of the evils of war when they see the devastation caused by the fanatical armies of the Wild Mage Bisochim. The desert tribespeople led by young Shaiara flee Bisochim’s evil, seeking a legendary oasis deep in the desert—a refuge that may hold the key to stopping Bisochim and preserving the Balance between Light and Darkness . . . or that may be the cause of Light’s ultimate downfall.
The House of the Stag Kage Baker (Tor Books hardcover)
Before the Riders came to their remote valley the Yendri led a tranquil pastoral life. When the Riders conquered and enslaved them, only a few escaped to the forests. Rebellion wasn't the Yendri way; they hid, or passively resisted, taking consolation in the prophecies of their spiritual leader. Only one possessed the necessary rage to fight back: Gard the foundling, half-demon, who began a one-man guerrilla war against the Riders. His struggle ended in the loss of the family he loved, and condemnation from his own people. Exiled, he was taken as a slave by powerful mages ruling an underground kingdom. Bitterer and wiser, he found more subtle ways to earn his freedom. This is the story of his rise to power, his vengeance, his unlikely redemption and his maturation into a loving father--as well as a lord and commander of demon armies.
Cyndere’s Midnight Jeffrey Overstreet (Waterbrook Press)
In Cyndere’s Midnight, the power of Auralia’s colors brings together a bloodthirsty beastman and a grieving widow in a most unlikely relationship… one that not only will change their lives, but could also impact the four kingdoms of The Expanse forever. Jordam is one of four ferocious brothers from the clan of cursed beastmen. But he is unique: The glory of Auralia’s colors has enchanted him, awakening a noble conscience that clashes with his vicious appetites.
Cyndere, heiress to a great ruling house, and her husband Deuneroi share a dream of helping the beastmen. But when Deuneroi is killed by the very people he sought to help, Cyndere risks her life and reputation to reach out to Jordam. Beside a mysterious well–an apparent source of Auralia’s colors–a beauty and a beast form a cautious bond. Will Jordam be overcome by the dark impulse of his curse, or stand against his brothers to defend House Abascar’s survivors from a deadly assault?
American Quest Sienna Skyy (Story Plant)
American Quest is a rousing contemporary fantasy filled with great characters, passionate relationships, and epic drama. It tells the story of two lovers, Bruce and Gloria, whose intense passions for life and for each other has made them unwitting pawns in a cosmic battle between forces for good and evil. Gloria is captured by Enervata, a demonic spirit with the darkest intentions. To save her, Bruce must embark on a quest across America, armed with only the scantest of clues, to collect the Four Pillars of Humanity before he can battle Enervata. Several people join him on his quest, including his best friend, a rocker, a stand-up comedienne, a little old Italian lady, an old-beyond-her-years child, and a strangely visionary fortuneteller. The questers face challenges from Enervata's minions at every turn and struggle mightily to uncover the Pillars...all the while unsure of Gloria's fate. This is the debut title for new independent publisher, Story Plant.
The Long Look Richard Parks (Five Star hardcover)
Tymon the Black is the latest in a long succession of magicians to suffer under a curse called “The Long Look.” He gets glimpses of future horrors, horrors that will almost certainly come to pass unless he acts. When one such glimpse prods him to arrange for the murder of a would-be hero prince, he sets off a wild chain of events that could lead to a future even more terrible than the one the prince’s death was designed to prevent. Now all Tymon has to do is hang on to a friend, train an apprentice, prevent a prince obsessed with revenge from destroying himself and his entire kingdom, help a princess come to terms with guilt and grief, make sure a wedding happens, make sure a war doesn’t, and send a creature of ultimate darkness back to the void from whence it came.
New In Science Fiction
Order 66: Star Wars Republic Commando Karen Traviss (Del Rey Hardcover)
Even as the Clone Wars are about to reach an explosive climax, no one knows if victory will favor the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) or the Separatists. But no matter who wins, the stakes are highest for elite Special Ops clones like the Republic Commandos in Omega and Delta squads–and the notorious renegade Advance Recon Commando troopers known as Null ARCs. With Republic forces stretched to the max and casualties mounting, the last thing these beleaguered warriors need to hear is that Chancellor Palpatine is keeping vast armies of secret clone troops in reserve. Sergeant Skirata, a mentor to the clone commandos, has no intention of standing idly by while Palpatine sends them into battle like lambs to the slaughter. Skirata begins to plan the clones’ escape from the GAR, but his heroic effort will be in vain unless he can reverse the clones’ accelerated aging process.
Caught in the treacherous dealings of their leaders, and locked in the battles of their lives, the disillusioned Null ARCs and Commandos nonetheless fight with everything they’ve got, determined to wrest victory from the Seps and save the galaxy. But even the deadliest weapons may not be powerful enough to defeat the real menace. And nothing will stop the apocalyptic horror unleashed when Palpatine utters the chilling words The time has come. Execute Order 66. Translation: The Jedi have tried to stage a coup, and all must be shot on sight.
With their faith in the Republic and their loyalty to their Jedi allies put to the ultimate test, how will the men of Omega and Delta squads react to the most infamous command in galactic history? All the breathtaking action, suspense, and intrigue of Karen Traviss’s Republic Commando series comes alive in Star Wars: Order 66.
Misspent Youth Peter F. Hamilton (Del Rey Hardcover)
2040. After decades of concentrated research and experimentation in the field of genetic engineering, scientists of the European Union believe they have at last conquered humankind’s most pernicious foe: old age. For the first time, technology holds out the promise of not merely slowing the aging process but actually reversing it. The ancient dream of the Fountain of Youth seems at hand. The first subject for treatment is seventy-eight-year-old philanthropist Jeff Baker. After eighteen months in a rejuvenation tank, Jeff emerges looking like a twenty-year-old. And the change is more than skin deep. From his hair cells down to his DNA, Jeff is twenty–with a breadth of life experience. But while possessing the wisdom of a septuagenarian at age twenty is one thing, raging testosterone is another, as Jeff discovers when he attempts to pick up his life where he left off. Suddenly his oldest friends seem, well, old. Jeff’s trophy wife looks better than she ever did. His teenage son, Tim, is more like a younger brother. And Tim’s nubile girlfriend is a conquest too tempting to resist.
Juggler of Worlds Larry Niven & Edward M. Lerner (Tor Books Hardcover)
For too long, the Puppeteers have controlled the fate of worlds. Now Sigmund is pulling the strings...Covert agent Sigmund Ausfaller is Earth's secret weapon, humanity's best defense against all conspiracies, real and potential - and imaginary - of foes both human and alien. Who better than a brilliant paranoid to expose the devious plots of others?
He may finally have met his match in Nessus, representative of the secretive Puppeteers, the elder race who wield vastly superior technologies. Nessus schemes in the shadows with Earth's traitors and adversaries, even after the race he represents abruptly vanishes from Known Space.
As a paranoid, Sigmund had always known things would end horribly for him. Only the when, where, how, why, and by whom of it all had eluded him. That fog has begun to lift...But even Sigmund has never imagined how far his investigations will take him - or that his destiny is entwined with the fates of worlds.
New In Horror
An Evil Guest Gene Wolfe (Tor Books Hardcover)
Lovecraft mets Blade Runner. This is a stand-alone supernatural horror novel with a 30s noir atmosphere. Gene Wolfe can write in whatever genre he wants--and always with superb style and profound depth. Now following his World Fantasy Award winner,Soldier of Sidon, and his stunning Pirate Freedom, Wolfe turns to the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft and the weird science tale of supernatural horror.
Set a hundred years in the future, An Evil Guest is a story of an actress who becomes the lover of both a mysterious sorcerer and private detective, and an even more mysterious and powerful rich man, who has been to the human colony on an alien planet and learned strange things there. Her loyalties are divided--perhaps she loves them both. The detective helps her to release her inner beauty and become a star overnight. And the rich man is the benefactor of a play she stars in. But something is very wrong. Money can be an evil guest, but there are other evils. As Lovecraft said, "That is not dead which can eternal lie."
Teatro Grottesco Thomas Ligotti (Virgin Books)
Thomas Ligotti is often cited as the most curious and remarkable figure in horror since H P Lovecraft. His work is noted by critics for its display of an exceptionally grotesque imagination and accomplished prose style. In his stories, Ligotti has followed a tradition that began with Edgar Allan Poe, portraying characters that are outside of what might be called “normal life” and rendering a grim vision of human existence as a perpetual nightmare. The stories collected in Teatro Grottesco feature tormented individuals who play out their doom in various odd little towns as well as in dark sectors frequented by sinister and often blackly comical eccentrics.
Banquet for the Damned Adam L.G. Nevill (Virgin Books)
Few believed Professor Coldwell was in touch with an unseen world and could commune with spirits. But in Scotland’s oldest university town something has passed from darkness into light, and now the students are being haunted by night terrors. And those who are visited mysteriously disappear. This is no place for outsiders, especially at night, so what chance do a rootless musician and burnt-out explorer have of surviving their entanglement with an ageless supernatural evil and the ruthless cult that worships it? This chilling occult thriller is both a homage to the great age of British ghost stories and a fast-paced modern tale of diabolism and witchcraft.
The Reach of Children Tim Lebbon (Humdrumming Books Hardcover)
The Reach of Children, the latest novela by Tim Lebbon, is a story of childhood, bereavement and hope, and explores just how far some people — living, or dead — will go to protect the ones they love. Daniel is ten years old when his mother dies. She dies young, and with so much left to give. He does not understand. He cannot let her go. After the funeral, his father begins talking to a large wooden box that suddenly appears beneath his bed. And when Daniel whispers to the box one day when his father goes out… it answers back. It's a voice he does not know. But this voice knows so much.
New In Non-Fiction
X-Men: The Characters and their Universe Michael Mallory (Universe Hardcover)
X-Men: The Characters and Their Universe tells the story of this unique band of Marvel comics’ heroes from their creation in 1963 to the present as one of the globe’s hottest franchises. This colorful, lavishly illustrated volume also traces how the characters have been adapted into the media of television and film, including the groundbreaking 1992 animated series and blockbuster feature films, including X-Men III: The Last Stand.
The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels Danny Fingeroth (Rough Guides)
The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels is the ultimate companion to the expanding world of the “literary comic book”. Written by comic industry insider Danny Fingeroth, it includes the mediums history, from sequential art in Egyptian tombs, through the superhero boom of the 1940s to the birth of the graphic novel movement and the latest online offerings. All you need to know about the best and rest with 60 must-read graphic novels, including the genre-defining Maus and A Contract with God, plus modern classics-in-the-making Fun Home and Alice in Sunderland. The guide profiles the movements legends including Harvey Pekar, Chris Ware, Denis Kitchen and other amazing illustrators, writers and publishers who’ve helped win respect for this once marginalised art form. And everything else you need to know from “how to make a graphic novel” to Persepolis and the latest film and television offerings, manga, documentaries, conventions, books, magazines and websites.
New In Graphic Novels & Trade Paperbacks
JSA Presents: Green Lantern (DC Comics)
Earth's first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, stars in this new collection with tales from GREEN LANTERN: BRIGHTEST DAY/BLACKEST NIGHT and JSA CLASSIFIED #25 and 32-33, including his battle royal with Solomon Grundy!
Superman: Kryptonite (DC Comics Hardcover)
The amazing story from SUPERMAN CONFIDENTIAL #1-5 and 11 by Darwyn Cooke (DC: THE NEW FRONTIER) and Tim Sale (BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, Heroes) is collected in hardcover. While Superman attempts to survive his first encounter with Kryptonite, will Lois Lane fall prey to a mysterious stranger?
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters: Brave New World (DC Comics)
The 8-issue miniseries is collected in this new trade paperback! In a changing world, how will Uncle Sam and his team fit into a new world order? And how will they stop Red Bee's insectoid invasion — not to mention saving The Phantom Lady from her own reckless behavior?
Loveless Vol. 3: Blackwater Falls (Vertigo)
In this volume collecting issues #13-21 of the acclaimed series, the mysterious secret of Blackwater Falls comes into focus when Ruth finally confronts her tragic past.
The Death of Captain America Vol. 2 Burden of Dreams (Marvel)
Agent 13. Bucky Barnes. The Falcon. Black Widow. Iron Man. Steve Rogers was often the glue that bound these heroes together in common cause. Now, in the aftermath of his death, they come together again in a desperate attempt to keep his dream alive. But the collapse of Steve Roger’s dream was just the first step in the wicked machinations of the Red Skull, who is determined to see the death of America follow soon after the death of the Captain. As the Skull's master plan kicks into motion, and chaos begins to take hold of the United States, only one man stands in its way — but is he up to the task? Collecting Captain America #31-36.
Incredible Hercules Against the World (Marvel)
WORLD WAR HULK is over, the man-monster Hulk defeated and imprisoned following an earth-shaking battle that left both allies and enemies struggling to pick up the pieces. Having sided with the Hulk, legendary demigod Hercules and boy genius Amadeus Cho are now outlaws, a situation further inflamed by Cho’s grudge against the super-spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. and Herc’s feud with his estranged half-brother — Ares, god of war, who isn’t above abusing his new federal clout for the sake of sibling rivalry. It’s Marvel’s mightiest manhunt, guest-starring Wonder Man and the Black Widow – plus an untold tale pitting Hercules against the Incredible Hulk! Collecting Incredible Hulk 112-115 and Hulk Vs.. Hercules: When Titans Collide
Silent Hill: Sinners Reward (IDW)
When Hitman Jack "The Pup" Stanton runs away with his mob boss's wife, he thinks he's finally put his murderous past behind him. Instead, Jack and his lover take a wrong turn into Silent Hill and quickly learn that some sins are impossible to escape!
Angel After the Fall Vol. 2 First Night (IDW)
First Night begins! What happened on the very night Los Angeles went straight to hell, the incident that ended the Angel television series with such a shocking cliffhanger? Why did the team go their separate ways? And how did Connor rise up to become one of Hell's greatest champions?
Prince of Persia (First Second books)
The world of the groundbreaking Prince of Persia games is brought to life in print for the first time by game creator Jordan Mechner, with writer A. B. Sina, who draws from the myths and legends of the Persia of his childhood. Artists LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland illuminate a spellbinding epic where past and future interweave like the strands of a Persian carpet.
Found You Mary SanGiovanni (Leisure)
Found You Mary SanGiovanni’s follow up to her debut novel The Hollower published in 2007, also by Leisure. The Hollowers are nameless, faceless entities. Malevolent spirits or demons from Hell, we just don’t know. But they hate humans and delight in torture, particularly of the mental variety. Dave and Erik had killed the Hollower in the first book…but there were others, and others who are even more powerful and aggressive. They already made Dave’s sister fall to her death in an apparent suicide and now they are coming after all the residents of the town of LakeHaven.
SanGiovanni presents a nemesis unlike almost anything seen in modern horror. This is an entity that is uniquely alien in its thoughts and behavior and which has a fervent abhorrence to all humans. The Hollowers can get inside your head and their thoughts and wills are wholly evil. And when they track you down they offer two words that make you shudder…”found you”. I didn’t read Hollower but it’s not a prerequisite for enjoying this chilling second novel from SanGiovanni. Grade B+
FOUND YOU by Mary SanGiovanni
The Rising: Selected Scenes from the End of the World Brian Keene (Delirium Books)
Keene offers fans of his The Rising and City of the Dead novels another excursion into his nightmarish world of the living dead. This anthology offers 32 short tales that take a look at the zombie outbreak and how it all started and from the perspective of victims throughout the world. Keene’s zombies are no the garden variety shambling ghouls but rather they are bodies possessed by demonic spirits that have broken down the barriers to our dimensions and turned the world into Hell on Earth…literally. I have to love any book that sets on of the stories in my hometown of Livonia, Mich, even if it wasn’t one of the better offerings.
Keene offers a landscape devoid of hope. There are no bands of survivors squeezing out an existence. When the waves of these demonic entities arrive, they will leave the world nothing but a charred landscape. But then again…the final story sets up Keene’s next series of books called Labyrinth. Multiples worlds exist and perhaps there is a slim bit of hope left for the human race after all. While you best advised to read Keene’s previous novels before diving into this collection, trust me, it will be worth the effort. Grade A
THE RISING: SELECTED SCENES FROM THE END OF THE WORLD by Brian Keene
© Delirium Books
The Astounding Wolf-Man Trade paperback Vol. 1 (Image Comics)
This trade collects the first seven issues of Robert Kirkman’s hit Image Comic series. Gary Hampton is a wealthy CEO who is brutally attacked by some unknown beast on a family vacation. He’ll soon learn the beast was a werewolf that has passed on its infection to Gary. A man named Zecheriah arrives at Gary’s home claiming he can help him control his powers. Zecheriah just happens to be a vampire as well. Gary is soon able to control his change and even keep his mind intact, becoming the latest superhero in town. But Zecheriah has kept numerous secrets from Gary and soon the Wolf-Man’s entire life is falling to pieces.
Kirkman’s book is very much (and boy I hope this is taken in the right way) in the old Marvel tradition, ala the Marvel horror titles of the 1970’s. There is a dept of character and plot that I was not anticipating. Kirkman spoon feeds the mysteries surrounding Gary’s Lycanthropy, hinting at something greater. Unfortunately the story doesn’t conclude or even wrap up nicely at the end, which is always a bit of a turnoff in a trade paperback, but it’s a story you’ll want to continue. Grade B
THE ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN Trade paperback Vol. 1
© Image Comics