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Weekly Book Buzz: Your Black Friday New Releases
New Fantasy from Jim Butcher
By Tim Janson
November 23, 2009
First Lord’s Fury by Jim Butcher
© Ace Books
This Friday is the dreaded Black Friday, the traditional start to the Christmas shopping season and a day when all sane people stay indoors! Still, if you elect to venture out, you’re going to find a horde of new releases including a number of major new titles. Out this week we have the new Jim Butcher Codex Alera fantasy First Lord’s Fury, The Elder Scrolls: The Infernal City, Halo: Evolutions: Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, Eerie Archives, Vol. 2, and Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives
Unleashed John Levitt (Ace)
Mason is an enforcer, keeping magical practitioners on the straight and narrow. His "dog" Louie, is a faithful familiar who's proven over and over that he's a practitioner's best friend. But this time, Louie's in the line of fire when practitioners in San Francisco accidentally unleash a monster into the world.
Torn (THE BLOOD LILY CHRONICLES Julie Kenner) (Ace)
Lily is in trouble of the deepest kind. Having been tricked by the forces of evil, she killed what she thought were "demons" at will. Now, she knows better, and with a little help from half-angel, half-demon Deacon Camphire, she must try to take down the bad guys from within as a double agent.
The Silver Skull (Swords of Albion ) Mark Chadbourn (PYR)
Meet Will Swyfte—adventurer, swordsman, rake, swashbuckler, wit, scholar and the greatest of Walsingham's new band of spies. His exploits against the forces of Philip of Spain have made him a national hero, lauded from Carlisle to Kent . Yet his associates can barely disguise their incredulity—what is the point of a spy whose face and name is known across Europe ?
But Swyfte's public image is a carefully-crafted façade to give the people of England something to believe in, and to allow them to sleep peacefully at night. It deflects attention from his real work—and the true reason why Walsingham's spy network was established.
A Cold War seethes, and England remains under a state of threat. The forces of Faerie have preyed on humanity for millennia. Responsible for our myths and legends, of gods and fairies, dragons, griffins, devils, imps and every other supernatural menace that has haunted our dreams, this power in the darkness has seen humans as playthings to be tormented, hunted or eradicated. But now England is fighting back!
Nightchild (Chronicles of the Raven 3) James Barclay (PYR)
It begins with a tidal wave. There is a new power coming. It will sweep aside the four colleges of magic. It is the power of the land, and it has manifested itself in Lyanna, a five year old girl. Unknowingly, she could destroy Balaia. Desperate to maintain their power, the colleges will do anything to control the child. If that fails, they will kill her. Terrified, Lyanna's mother, Erienne the mage, takes her into hiding. But they can't hide forever. As the hunt goes on, Lyanna starts to test her powers and nature itself begins to turn on Balaia. Her father, Denser of The Raven, is also desperate to find her. But can even The Raven find Erienne and her child when they do not want to be found? And if they do find them, what then should they do? Lyanna is ripping the world apart. Thousands are dying. Can The Raven afford to let her live?
The Mammoth Book of Merlin Mike Ashley (Running Press)
Over 20 tales chronicling the adventures of Merlin and the magic of the Arthurian world. This is a reissue of the superb collection, to coincide with NBC’s primetime release of 20-part drama Merlin (first released in UK on BBC with record viewing figures, and a second series on the way).
The Magicians and Mrs. Quent Galen Beckett (Spectra Tpb)
In this enchanting debut novel, Galen Beckett weaves a dazzling spell of adventure and suspense, evoking a world of high magick and genteel society—a world where one young woman discovers that her modest life is far more extraordinary than she ever imagined.
Of the three Lockwell sisters—romantic Lily, prophetic Rose, and studious Ivy—all agree that it’s the eldest, the book-loving Ivy, who has held the family together ever since their father’s retreat into his silent vigil in the library upstairs. Everyone blames Mr. Lockwell’s malady on his magickal studies, but Ivy alone still believes—both in magic and in its power to bring her father back.
But there are others in the world who believe in magick as well. Over the years, Ivy has glimpsed them—the strangers in black topcoats and hats who appear at the door, strangers of whom their mother will never speak. Ivy once thought them secret benefactors, but now she’s not so certain.
After tragedy strikes, Ivy takes a job with the reclusive Mr. Quent in a desperate effort to preserve her family. It’s only then that she discovers the fate she shares with a jaded young nobleman named Dashton Rafferdy, his ambitious friend Eldyn Garritt, and a secret society of highwaymen, revolutionaries, illusionists, and spies who populate the island nation of Altania.
For there is far more to Altania than meets the eye and more to magick than mere fashion. And in the act of saving her father, Ivy will determine whether the world faces a new dawn—or an everlasting night. . . .
Gentleman Takes a Chance Sarah A Hoyt (Baen)
There are those living secretly among us who have the power to change their physical form from that of a human to an animal, even animals thought to be mythical, such as dragons. Throughout out the ages, these shape shifters have come together in a loose organization to protect themselves from humans—and other shape shifters. According to their code, killing another shifter is a crime, no matter if the shifter was slaughtering humans.
Kyrie Smith, a young panther shifter, must decide where she will stand: with her group or with humanity at large. And she’ll have to do it while both older shifters and her boyfriend Tom Ormson—a dragon shifter—push her from quandary to quandary and police detective Rafiel Thrall—who happens to be a lion shifter—demands her help in solving mysterious murders that he suspects have been committed by a shifter. But when Tom begins getting telepathic warnings from the Great Sky Dragon that his life is in danger, the same dragon who recently almost killed him, he and Kyrie realize that much more is involved than a homicidal shape shifter.
First Lord's Fury (Codex Alera, Book 6) Jim Butcher (Ace Hardcover)
For years he has endured the endless trials and triumphs of a man whose skill and power could not be restrained. Battling ancient enemies, forging new alliances, and confronting the corruption within his own land, Gaius Octavian became a legendary man of war-and the rightful First Lord of Alera. But now, the savage Vord are on the march, and Gaius must lead his legions to the Calderon Valley to stand against them-using all of his intelligence, ingenuity, and furycraft to save their world from eternal darkness.
The Elder Scrolls: The Infernal City Greg Keyes (Del Rey)
Four decades after the Oblivion Crisis, Tamriel is threatened anew by an ancient and all-consuming evil. It is Umbriel, a floating city that casts a terrifying shadow–for wherever it falls, people die and rise again. And it is in Umbriel’s shadow that a great adventure begins, and a group of unlikely heroes meet. A legendary prince with a secret. A spy on the trail of a vast conspiracy. A mage obsessed with his desire for revenge. And Annaig, a young girl in whose hands the fate of Tamriel may rest . . . .Based on the award-winning The Elder Scrolls, The Infernal City is the first of two exhilarating novels following events that continue the story from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, named 2006 Game of the Year.
The Devil's Alphabet Daryl Gregory (Del Rey TPB)
Switchcreek was a normal town in eastern Tennessee until a mysterious disease killed a third of its residents and mutated most of the rest into monstrous oddities. Then, as quickly and inexplicably as it had struck, the disease–dubbed Transcription Divergence Syndrome (TDS)–vanished, leaving behind a population divided into three new branches of humanity: giant gray-skinned argos , hairless seal-like betas, and grotesquely obese charlies.
Paxton Abel Martin was fourteen when TDS struck, killing his mother, transforming his preacher father into a charlie, and changing one of his best friends, Jo Lynn, into a beta. But Pax was one of the few who didn’t change. He remained as normal as ever. At least on the outside.
Having fled shortly after the pandemic, Pax now returns to Switchcreek fifteen years later, following the suicide of Jo Lynn. What he finds is a town seething with secrets, among which murder may well be numbered. But there are even darker–and far weirder–mysteries hiding below the surface that will threaten not only Pax’s future but the future of the whole human race.
The Better Part of Darkness Kelly Gay (Pocket)
Atlanta: it's the promised city for the off-worlders, foreigners from the alternate dimensions of heaven-like Elysia and hell-like Charbydon. Some bring good works and miracles. And some bring unimaginable evil....
Charlie Madigan is a divorced mother of one, and a kick-ass cop trained to take down the toughest human and off-world criminals. She's recently returned from the dead after a brutal attack, an unexplained revival that has left her plagued by ruthless nightmares and random outbursts of strength that make doing her job for Atlanta P.D.'s Integration Task Force even harder. Since the Revelation, the criminal element in Underground Atlanta has grown, leaving Charlie and her partner Hank to keep the chaos to a dull roar. But now an insidious new danger is descending on her city with terrifying speed, threatening innocent lives: a deadly, off-world narcotic known as ash. Charlie is determined to uncover the source of ash before it targets another victim -- but can she protect those she loves from a force more powerful than heaven and hell combined?
The Chronicles of Malus Darkblade: Volume Two Dan Abnett (Games Workshop)
The Chronicles of Malus Darkblade: Volume Two provides epic fantasy action from two of the Black Library's leading authors, Dan Abnett and Mike Lee. Includes the books Warpsword and Lord of Ruin. In addition it contains two short stories never published before on Malus Darkblade.
Blood in the Water (Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution) Juliet E. McKenna (Solaris)
With their forces gathered, the revolutionary leaders within Lescar begin their bid to win the minds and hearts of the people, as well as the lands of the rival dukedoms.
New In Sci-Fi
Star Wars: Millennium Falcon James Luceno (Lucas books)
Two years have passed since the death of the brutal Sith Lord Darth Caedus–once known as Jacen Solo. The galaxy is slowly healing from civil war, while Jacen’s family and friends are left to mourn his loss alone. For Han and Leia, still grieving for their son, the only bright spot is Jacen’s daughter, Allana, who has been given into their care. Now Allana introduces new adventure into her grandparents’ lives when she discovers a strange device hidden aboard the Millennium Falcon–a discovery that sparks a fact-finding expedition to retrace the people, places, and events in the checkered history of the famous spaceship. But the Solos are not alone in their quest: Crime lords, galactic pirates, rogue politicians, and fortune hunters alike will race to a final standoff for a prize some will risk everything to find–and pay any cost to possess.
Plague Zone (Plague Year) Jeff Carlson (Ace)
After surviving the machine plague and the world war that followed, nanotech researcher Ruth Goldman and ex-army ranger Cam Najarro discovered that a new contagion is about to be unleashed.
Metal Gear Solid 2: The Novel: Sons of Liberty Raymond Benson (Del Rey)
In a torrential downpour, former FOXHOUND agent Solid Snake stands on the George Washington Bridge–ready to launch himself onto the deck of the U.S.S. Discovery as it passes below. Inside Discovery is a new generation of Metal Gear. But in the next hour, Snake’s world explodes.
Two years later, a young, unproven agent code-named Raiden must penetrate the mystery of what went so insanely wrong that night.
In a labyrinthine superstructure in New York Harbor known as the Big Shell, enemies, allies, secret agents, and double-dealers converge: Russian commandos, a cyber Vamp, a long-legged, leather-clad, rifle-bearing beauty named Fortune, a deformed, finely manicured bomber called Fatman, and a mysterious Mister X. Somewhere in the maze, as well, is the president himself–his biometrics coded to a bomb that can take out Manhattan, his loyalties unknown. Now the rookie Raiden is fighting his way to one discovery after another, including the rebirth of Solid Snake himself and a nightmare organization with a history, a plan, and a terrifying superweapon hidden in plain sight.
Helfort's War Book 3: The Battle of Devastation Reef Graham Sharp Paul (Del Rey)
The savage Hammer Worlds are not only near invincible but almost certain to win their war to crush the Federated Worlds and control humanspace–unless the Feds can find and destroy their secret antimatter warhead facility.
Only dreadnoughts, the lone Federated ships able to withstand antimatter missile attacks, can do the job, and only Lieutenant Michael Helfort has the skill to lead them. But skill may not be enough, because Helfort is more than the newly appointed captain: He’s a hero, and this means that his own senior officers want him to fail–and that the enemy’s kingpin wants him dead.
Helfort’s early victories merely intensify everyone’s determination. No action is too low, no price too high, to bring him down–with treachery, or betrayal, or an offer he can’t refuse, even if it means selling out his own side.
Hardcore (Combat-K) Andy Remic (Solaris)
The Combat-K squad arrives on Krakken IV to search the planet, expecting an easy mission. However when the former inhabitants of 'Sick World' begin to rise, they are forced to battle for their lives.
Halo: Evolutions: Essential Tales of the Halo Universe (Tor TPB)
When humanity expanded beyond the safety of Earth to new stars and horizons, they never dreamed what dangers they would encounter there. When the alien juggernaut known as the Covenant declared holy war upon the fragile human empire, millions of lives were lost—but, millions of heroes rose to the challenge. In such a far-reaching conflict, not many of the stories of these heroes, both human and alien, have a chance to become legend. This collection holds eleven stories that dive into the depths of the vast Halo universe, not only from the perspective of those who fought and died to save humanity, but also those who vowed to wipe humanity out of existence.
New In Horror
Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse Book 1 - Animator TPB (Marvel Comics Graphic Novel)
Anita Blake is back in the second volume of Marvel's comic adaptation of Laurell K. Hamilton's bestselling series of novels! What would you do for a million dollars? Would you resurrect a two-and-one-half-century old corpse? Harold Gaynor poses just that question to Animator and part-time vampire hunter, Anita Blake. Plus, some crime scenes are even too horrible for a vampire slayer, and the worse they are, the more questions they raise. Collects Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse Book One #1-5.
Birth of a Nation: Book Five of the Abyss Walker Shane Moore (Skullvines press)
Trinidy marches his army of death across the land, forcing each kill to rise up and join his ranks. Arch devils are unleashed to hunt down the Abyss Walker. While Lance and his friends struggle to stay one step ahead, the greyshalks and the Darayal Legion prepare for a battle they cannot win. Meanwhile, the people of Beykla, now under the disputatious rule of boy king, brace themselves as their distrustful southern brothers secede to create a new nation. As the prophecy reaches fulfillment, Delania must face the growing realization that her time with Lance is coming to an end. Can the broken crown of Beykla stand against the coming of the Abyss Walker, or will the blood of the innocent be shed before the might of wickedness?
The Resurrectionist Wrath James White (Leisure Books)
Dale McCarthy has a unique and miraculous ability. He can bring the dead back to life, though the resurrected have no memory of their deaths. But not every miracle comes from God, and not every healer is a saint.
Ever since her new neighbor moved in, Sarah Lincoln has been having terrible nightmares. Last night she dreamed that she and her husband were brutally murdered in their beds. This morning she found bloody sheets in the laundry and bloodstains on her mattress. And the nightmare is the same, night after night after night. With no one prepared to take her wild fears seriously, Sarah will have to save herself from being murdered. Again.
Ghost Monster Simon Clark (Leisure Horror)
The local children call it “the ghost monster,” a disturbing mosaic on a mausoleum wall in the old cemetery. For centuries the grim portrait has imprisoned the spirits of the notorious Justice Murrain and his vicious gang of misfits. But now someone has taken the portrait, and the spirits of the sadists are free to enjoy the darkest of pleasures. Mayhem rules the town. The streets run red with blood. People are not merely insane. They are possessed. And even death will not stop them.
Kolchak: Tales Of The Night Stalker - The Rise & Fall Of Carl Kolchak (Moonstone Graphic Novel)
"The seatbelt light is off, feel free to move about the country" is the theme here, as Kolchak's gaining popularity sends him to Seattle , New Orleans , and even to Egypt . But who, or what, has set up our downtrodden reporter's lucky streak, and what sends him headlong into his downward spiral? This collection of Tales of the Night Stalker issues #1-7 pits Kolchak against plant monsters, a man-eating shadow, gremlins, Sasquatch, a mummified vampire, Bloody Mary, and even a beautifully seductive demon from Hell!
Eerie Archives, Vol. 2 (Dark Horse Hardcover)
When publisher Jim Warren created Creepy magazine in 1962, he soon realized he'd hit pay dirt on a gruesome gold mine of great comics storytelling. Under the leadership of editor/writer Archie Goodwin, Warren 's hit line of horror comics magazines grew another lurid limb with the introduction of Eerie in 1964, and soon there were two great horror magazines on the rack instead of one. Following in the fetid footsteps of our sinfully successful archive library of Creepy, Dark Horse is also proudly publishing its Eerie equivalent - keeping chilling stories and incredible artwork in the family!
Angel: After the Fall, Vol. 2: First Night (IDW Graphic Novel)
The second softcover collection of IDW's smash-hit Angel: After the Fall! 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?
Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives (Vol. 1) (Fantagraphics)
A collection of works from the first two years of Ditko's career: over 200 pages of vintage, pre-Amazing Spider-Man, pre-Comics Code horror comics. Before the Amazing Spider-Man, before the mysterious Doctor Strange, before the black-and-white world of the Ayn Rand-inspired Mr. A, the legendary comic book artist Steve Ditko was conjuring all manners of horrors at his drawing table. In his first two years in the industry (1953 and 1954), Ditko drew tales of macabre suspense that were not yet hobbled by the imminent Comics Code Authority (adopted in October 1954). These stories featured graphic bloodshed, dismemberment and blood-curdling acid baths as the ugly end to the lives of the dark and twisted inhabitants of Steve Ditko’s imagination.
Following up on Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko, Blake Bell’s 2008 best-selling critical retrospective of Ditko’s career, strange suspense, Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1 will, for the first time, feature spectacular full-color reprints of every story from those first two years of his career. Beginning with Ditko’s very first story to Ditko’s short stint in the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby studio, to Ditko’s eventual encampment at the Charlton Comics operation in 1954, readers will see the initial works of an artist already at a level of craftsmanship that exceeded most of his peers. The book will also feature editor Bell ’s insightful historical notes.
New in Non-Fiction
The Moment of Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder David Thomson (Basic Books Hardcover)
It was made like a television movie, and completed in less than three months. It killed off its star in forty minutes. There was no happy ending. And it offered the most violent scene to date in American film, punctuated by shrieking strings that seared the national consciousness. Nothing like Psycho had existed before; the movie industry—even America itself—would never be the same.
In The Moment of Psycho, film critic David Thomson situates Psycho in Alfred Hitchcock’s career, recreating the mood and time when the seminal film erupted onto film screens worldwide. Thomson shows that Psycho was not just a sensation in film: it altered the very nature of our desires. Sex, violence, and horror took on new life. Psycho, all of a sudden, represented all America wanted from a film—and, as Thomson brilliantly demonstrates, still does.
Halo Encyclopedia (DK Hardcover)
The Halo Encyclopedia contains just about everything you could ever want to know about the phenomenal video game series, if not more. The lavishly illustrated and scrupulously researched book clocks in at a massive 350 pages covering the expansive Halo universe and all of its various inhabitants and history.
The introduction gives the novice the basics of the Halo setting of the 26th century from the alien Covenant, to the creation of the Spartans to the discovery of the ring world known as “Halo”. This is the perfect primer, even if you are familiar with the games. The Introduction also provides basic information about Master Chief John –117, The Ark, The Gravemind, and numerous other important facets. Timelines of both the human race and the Covenant are also provided.
That all leads into the real meat of the book as there are chapters on Humans, with details on the various military branches and troop types; The various Spartans and their armament; The many races that make up the Covenant; The Science and Technology of the Halo Universe; The many different types of ships including Covenant and Forerunner vessels; and the myriad of weapons used in the game setting. There is so much be found that its impossible to cover it all in one review.
Now this isn’t truly an encyclopedia in terms of its production and layout. It’s not put together in alphabetical order but segmented as mentioned above. The illustrations are dazzling and all in all, this is a beautiful book. A perfect gift for the Halo fan! Grade A
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies Michael P. Spradlin (Harper Collins)
What do you get for the Zombie fan who is trying to get into the Christmas spirit? How about this little book from Harper Collins, a book of zombie Christmas Carols. Writer Michael P. Spradlin has taken some of the best known Christmas Carols and injected them with a flesh-eating zombie flair. Some of the songs include: “I Saw Mommy Chewing Santa Claus”; “Slay Ride”; “Deck the Halls with Parts of Wally”; “Here Comes Zombie Claus”; “Snacking Around the Christmas Tree”: “Let’s Feast on Merry Gentleman”; “Grandma got Turned into a Zombie”; “Good King Wenceslas Tastes Great”; and many, many more.
Spradlin’s re-worked lyrics are sure to bring a grin to the horror fan and an aghast look from those who are not. For example in “The Zombie Christmas Song” we get…”Fresh brains roasting on an open fire, zombies chewing off your nose…And then sung to the tune of “There’s no place Like Home for the Holidays” Spradlin delivers, “Oh there’s nothing like brains for the holidays, no matter how far away you roam…for the holidays you can’t beat brains sweet brains!”
Ok some of the lyrics are a bit forced and don’t rhyme perfectly but this book is still a scream and a cute diversion from all of the usual holiday niceties. Grade B+
Classic Toys of the National Toy Hall of Fame Scott G. Eberle (Running Press Hardcover)
Did you know that there is a National Toy Hall of Fame? Neither did I but there is and this book celebrates some of the greatest toys of all-time, all of which are enshrined in the Hall, located in Rochester, New York. The Hall was established in 1998 and the book runs down the list of inductees by year from 1998 – 2008.
Among the original inductees in 1998 we have Barbie, Erector Sets, Etch-A-Sketch, Frisbee, Pla-Doh, LEGO, Monopoly and Tinker Toys. Eberle runs down a history of each toy which itself is fascinating because while the history of toys like Barbie and LEGO are well documented, the beginnings of other toys are far less known. Crayola Crayons for instance, got their start in 1903 as a paint-making firm who was trying to come up with a better quality of chalk and wound up with the colorful wax sticks we know today. Crayola had its share of controversy in the 1990s over racially offensive terms such as a red crayon called “Indian Red”. This name had nothing to do with Native Americans but rather was named after a pigment which used to be obtained from India…hence the name.
The histories of these toys are worth the price alone because many of them came about by pure accident or in trying to create something else. The Slinky came about originally as the project of a nautical engineer who was trying to find a way to keep sensitive equipment stable at sea during World War II. Mr. Potato Head started out being called “The Make a Face Toy” and was originally included in boxes of cereal In the 60s, Hasbro even tried to expand the line with “Pete the Pepper” and “Cooky the Cucumber” sets but obviously those did not go over very well.
The book includes hundreds of photos of the toys from original versions to present day. The one thing I found utterly amazing is that G.I. Joe was not even inducted until 2004. How does arguably the greatest boy-toy ever take six years to get into the Hall of Fame? Also, some inclusions are a little on the silly side such as the cardboard box and the stick. Now I had my share of fun playing in old refrigerator boxes but I’d stop well short of putting it in the Hall of Fame. At 264 pages and hardcover format, $29.95 is a very reasonable price. Grade B