Category: New Titles
- - October 17th, 2014
As first lines go, this one’s a killer.
If you’re wondering what the next big thing in epic fantasy might be, then 14th April 2015 is a date you’re going to want to add to your calendar. Just saying.
Look out for an interview with Alex on the blog next month.
- - October 14th, 2014
Three things that I love in epic/heroic fantasy: action (preferably involving lots of swords), impossible odds, and genuinely terrifying magic. Oh, and a fast pace: I like stories that hit the ground running and only get faster as they progress.
THE FREE by Brian Ruckley is all of these things. The action is plentiful and extremely well written, the odds of the protagonists’ survival are very long indeed, and the magic is both deeply frightening and very cool at the same time. The novel also starts like a rocket going off, and never slows down.
All of which is extremely pleasing. Yet what I like the most about THE FREE is the sheer humanity (or lack thereof) that Brian has imbued in each and every character. This is a tale about a mercenary company – The Free of the title – and there’s no doubt that they’re hard men and women, no strangers to violence or suffering. But they’re not heartless, steely-eyed killers: they all have their flaws, doubts, and weaknesses. They’re compassionate too, and are bound by the ties that they’ve forged over many years, both on and off the battlefield. Brian’s deft characterisation lends a real emotional depth and resonance to the novel, something that is sometimes lacking in heroic fantasy.
THE FREE is the thrilling story of this extraordinary mercenary company, about what they’ve done – and, perhaps more importantly, about what they’ve failed to do – and how they plan to right past wrongs. There is blood, certainly. There is pain, and there is death. But there is also love, and loyalty, and most of all, hope.
Some bonds cannot be broken.
Praise for THE FREE:
The Free is a blast to read, merging the standard medieval fantasy with Seven Samurai, complete with phenomenal set pieces of warfare and magic’ – Justin Landon, Staffer’s Book Review
‘Mesmerising, magical and human’ – Publishers Weekly (starred review)
‘Wonderfully composed action scenes and a thrilling climax’ – The Bookbag
‘Deliberate pacing, complicated characters and vivid descriptions elevate this far above run-of-the-mill epic fantasy’ – Library Journal (starred review)
‘An engaging mix of action and introspection . . . A gripping read’ – Graeme’s SFF
THE FREE is out now in paperback, ebook and audio editions.
- - October 9th, 2014
The much-anticipated graphic novel of THE WAY OF SHADOWS, the New York Times bestselling epic fantasy of thieves and assassins by Brent Weeks, comes out this week from Yen Press and Orbit UK.
We interviewed Brent about the process of turning his classic fantasy tale into a comic book, and asked him all about his favorite examples of the medium:
JH: Was there anything that surprised you about having your work adapted into comic book form?
BW: The first time I saw Andy’s depiction of the Gyre estate, I had to stop for a second. The rest of the process had been pretty gradual—when we did character sketches, we went through a lot of emails, and a couple iterations of drawings, so they didn’t have the same surprise factor for me—but when I saw the Gyre estate, it hit me all at once. I’d described all these details; this was what I’d written about, but I’d never seen it as a whole. When your artist is talented, there are things about seeing a place that are simply better than reading about it.
The other thing that surprised me was how much little things can matter. Andy does great work with characters’ expressions, hitting just the right tone. That little extra extension on that line turns that grin from amused to sarcastic, or what have you. Similarly, something like how tight an alleyway is, can suddenly be important, because a character in a tight alley feels trapped, and acts differently than in a wide open street.
JH: Which particular character do you think has been captured most perfectly by Andy Macdonald’s art?
BW: I’ll go for a less obvious one. Roth is just the right balance of handsome and creepy.
JH: Was it a strange experience, going back so closely over THE WAY OF SHADOWS, or do you often reread and re-examine your older books?
BW: As little as possible! I always want to edit my old books. Hmm, that sentence could be tightened, couldn’t it? It was very challenging. One of the pleasures of reading my books is that there’s a ton of foreshadowing that looks like throwaway world-building on a first read that ends up being important two thousand pages later. So I had to not only load three books into my brain, but I had to anticipate how each necessary change of adapting the first novel into graphic novel form would ripple through the second and third books. “Okay, this doesn’t happen any more, and that was going to pay off in book 2 when this happens, so now, in graphic novel 2, we’re going to have to do this other thing instead… But does that cause problems in book 3?” Oh, and I was finishing a not-so-simple little novel called THE BROKEN EYE. My assistant, Elisa, was invaluable in the process of keeping everything straight.
JH: Comics and graphic novels are an essentially collaborative medium, requiring a lot of co-operation between the artist and writer. Have you ever worked on something that involved this much collaboration?
BW: Never to this degree. We made a book trailer for THE BLACK PRISM, and I wrote lots of emails and script ideas back and forth (far more than you would think necessary for a two minute trailer, I guarantee!), but that was over about a month. This was a different level entirely.
I should point out, too, that it isn’t just collaboration between artist and writer! The original script adaptation was by Ivan Brandon, and throughout my editor JuYoun Lee was invaluable in the process, not only in feedback and scripting, but also in allowing me to be the difficult artist from time to time. I mean, editors have to make the business work, so a few times I wrote to her, “Look I just added a page to this chapter. I know we’re already over, but we need a full page for this reveal, or it will lack punch. Here’s the new script.” I’m sure she knew exactly how much that was going to cost—art costs, printing costs, extra thickness to the book, possibly fewer books per box which can hurt ordering, and so forth if you do it more than a couple times—and she let me get away with it when we needed to.
That said, I try not to play the diva, especially when it’s a medium I’ve got little experience in. I was lucky to be joined in the journey by people who know a lot more than I do.
JH: Who are your favourite heroes from comics and graphic novels?
BW: Can I confess something? I’ve always enjoyed comic books, but for a long time I had a fundamental reservation about them as art. I thought they were bad art. Partly this is the fault of the whole Death of Superman debacle. Since then (if not before, I’m not an expert), but since then they’ve felt like the ultimate playground for Plot Armor. No character will ever die. No character will ever settle down with one girl, and that’s it for all time. There’s no final story, no closure, even though they pretend there is constantly. And the reason there can be no final story is because money. You can’t kill Wolverine for good, because no matter how many copies of that final plot arc you could sell, you’d be killing the goose who lays the golden eggs. Wolverine is your year-in, year-out steady earner, and he will be for fifty years. A hundred if Marvel has its way. So the story has to account for reboots, and refreshes, memory-losses and reunions. (In some cases, they do that far better than others.)
So, to purist, younger me, comics in the Marvel vein were the biggest examples of art prostituted to money I could imagine. And yet they got a pass somehow—because it’s fun and well-done, I guess.
But I had an idea recently of Wolverine (a favorite since I was young), as a mythic character, rather than as a disjointed franchise. When you read Homer’s Odysseus, he’s a complete man, perhaps the ideal man in the Greek understanding of virtue. When you read Virgil’s treatment of the same character (Latinized to Ulysses, but ostensibly the same character), you realize they have very little in common. Virgil is trotting out the Greek hero to make him look tawdry next to the real stud, Aeneas. (Who just so happened to play for the home team, Rome.) They aren’t the same character—when Virgil handles Odysseus, he handles him as a mythic type, there to be useful in setting up the story that Virgil really wants to tell.
So when you ask “Who is your favorite character?” I have to politely say I don’t believe Wolverine as Wolverine is really a character anymore. Mark Millar’s Wolverine isn’t my favorite, but the idea of Wolverine is.
That said, things are simpler where we have only one writer and artist: I really like Bode and Tyler Locke of Locke and Key by Joe Hill (amazing art by Gabriel Rodriguez).
JH: Can you recommend any comic books which are ideal for fantasy fans?
BW: If you’ve never read a graphic novel and are skeptical about the kind of stories they can tell, check out I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly, which features a fifth-grader named Barbara.
Marvel’s 1602 is a fun re-visiting of the Marvel characters if they’d appeared in Elizabethan times (and goes nicely with my thesis above!). Locke and Key is a little more on the horror side, and though I don’t enjoy horror, I thought it was amazing. Literally the best graphic novels I’ve ever read. Peter V. Brett (of The Warded Man fame) has done a 6 comic book arc for Red Sonja. As for others… well, I’m always looking!
JH: The ultimate comic book question: who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?
BW: I think Batman would know better than get in a simple fistfight with a bulletproof flying alien, so I like to think he’d change the rules of the engagement—a fight over who makes a tux look the best, perhaps, or who can destroy a villain first. Then I’d give an edge to the subtle thinker of the two.
- - October 8th, 2014
Next week sees the publication of THE FREE by Brian Ruckley, and marks the return of one of epic fantasy’s prodigal sons.
Brian Ruckley burst upon the fantasy scene back in 2006 with WINTERBIRTH [UK / USA / ANZ], a novel that encapsulated the gritty, visceral style of storytelling that would become so popular in the fantasy genre a few years later.
WINTERBIRTH – along with its sequels, BLOODHEIR [UK / USA / ANZ] and FALL OF THANES [UK / USA / ANZ] – spun an epic tale of ancient feuds, deadly politics and devastating battles. These novels are notable for many qualities, not least their deep characterisation, absorbing worldbuilding and a highly evocative atmosphere.
After his brilliant and bloody tale had concluded, Brian delved into dark historical fantasy with THE EDINBURGH DEAD [UK / USA / ANZ] – a chilling supernatural crime novel set in Victorian-era Edinburgh.
Now, with THE FREE, Brian has returned to his epic fantasy roots and delivered an exhilarating novel full of desperate battles, terrifying magic, and a host of memorable characters.
We sat down with Brian – well, in a digital sense – and asked him about his return to epic fantasy.
Welcome Brian! THE FREE marks your return to writing heroic fantasy, after you dipped your toes into dark historical fantasy with THE EDINBURGH DEAD – how does it feel to be writing in this genre again, and what tempted you to return to it?
It feels pretty good to be swimming in the heroic fantasy sea again. It’s a fun genre that gives you plenty of freedom to let your imagination run loose for a while, plenty of scope to go heavy on the action and the drama. THE EDINBURGH DEAD was always kind of a specific project for me: it’s a dark fantasy, but one very specifically set in my home city and tied to a specific, almost surreally horrible, bit of its real world history that I’ve always been interested in. THE FREE is just what it says in the title: it’s me being free again to do whatever I want, in terms of plot, world, characters, magic. All that good stuff. A couple of reviewers have already described it as ‘a blast to read’ and ‘a lot of fun to read’, which counts as job done to me, and just goes to show that if you’re having fun on the writing side, the readers can often tell.
Your Godless World trilogy was a sprawling fantasy epic in a similar vein to Game of Thrones, with a large cast-list and a healthy dose of political intrigue (not to mention plenty of bloody battles). THE FREE retains the same gritty quality of storytelling, but feels far more reminiscent of David Gemmell or Fritz Lieber, focusing on fewer characters and with an emphasis on fast-paced action. How and why did this stylistic change occur?
There are lots and lots of reasons for the change. Here’s a few, all mixed up. You don’t always get to choose what story idea is at the forefront of your mind, ready to be written. THE FREE was that idea a couple of years back, and it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t a sprawling epic; it just didn’t need thousands of pages to get to the very particular ending that was built in to the idea. I’d be lying if I pretended to be disappointed about that. Sprawling fantasy epics are all well and good – they’re what made me a fan of the genre, after all, back in my younger days – but it’s a pretty demanding and draining business to write one. Anyway, the older I get as a reader the more I find I like my fiction to-the-point, with momentum. It takes slightly different writing muscles than the epic does, and for whatever reason I had a sense that I needed to give those different muscles a work-out.
Also, it’s partly because: movies. But we’ll get to that in the next question. Read the rest of this entry »
- - October 7th, 2014
ANCILLARY SWORD (US | UK | AUS) the highly anticipated sequel to Ann Leckie’s breakout success ANCILLARY JUSTICE (US | UK | AUS), is released today. Ancillary Justice won every major science fiction award of 2014 and was the only novel every to win the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke awards.
Not often does a writer debut with a work that makes such an immediate impact and Ann’s second book is everything a fan of the first book could hope for. Broiling civil war, a fraught mission to a vital and dangerous planet, a tangled web of politics and class, and mysterious and powerful forces encroaching on the domain of the empire. Simply put, this is a writer at the peak of her powers.
I’ve been waiting excitedly for the day when I could finally share Ann’s next brilliant novel. If you read Ancillary Justice then chances are you loved it and have been looking forward to Ancillary Sword as well, if you have yet to fall under the spell of Ann and Ancillary Justice, I envy you greatly. Don’t delay.
A little bit more about the novel:
Breq is a soldier who used to be a warship. Once a weapon of conquest controlling thousands of minds, now she has only a single body and serves the emperor.
With a new ship and a troublesome crew, Breq is ordered to go to the only place in the galaxy she would agree to go: to Athoek Station to protect the family of a lieutenant she once knew – a lieutenant she murdered in cold blood.
Praise for Ancillary Sword:
“Breq’s struggle for meaningful justice in a society designed to favor the strong is as engaging as ever. Readers new to the author will be enthralled, and those familiar with the first book will find that the faith it inspired has not been misplaced.” – Publisher’s Weekly
“Leckie proves she’s no mere flash in the pan with this follow-up to her multiaward-winning debut space opera, Ancillary Justice.” – Kirkus
And here is a wonderful 10 out of 10 endorsement from The Book Smugglers!
- - September 12th, 2014
In 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson took us 300 years into the future . . . [UK/US/ANZ].
Then he went 30,000 years into our past . . . [UK/US/ANZ].
Where will he take us next? Here’s a clue.
AURORA, the major new SF novel from New York Times bestseller Kim Stanley Robinson, will be published in May 2015.
- - September 9th, 2014
Jessica is going to Hell.
After settling a fragile truce between the vampires, werewolves and witches, the last thing Jessica wants to do is face the demons head on. But when the Prince of Hell kidnapped her brother, he set into motion a chain of events that even Jessica doesn’t have the power to stop.
Now, Jessica must go into battle again. But Hell is a whole new beast — new rules, more dangerous demons, and an entirely foreign realm. And when Jessica is dropped into the Underworld too soon, without protection or the help of her friends, she must figure out just how powerful she can be… or she will never make it out alive.
Since FULL BLOODED (US | UK | AUS) hit shelves in 2012, Amanda Carlson has kept readers on the edge of their seats, following Jessica’s adventures as she has struggled against werewolves, witches, vampires, and fate that is not to be denied. But RED BLOODED (US | UK | AUS), book four in the non-stop action Jessica McClain series, brings the series to a whole new level. Describing a Hell as you’ve never seen before, Amanda Carlson hits shelves with her best book yet, immersing the reader in a world where nothing is familiar and anything goes. With the help of some new and possibly reliable allies and a blast from the past that should not be missed, fans will not want to miss this latest installment!
And if you are not familiar with the Jessica McClain series, never fear! You can check out a sample chapter here, and we are currently doing a Goodreads giveaway of book one — a perfect way to jump in and invest in this great new series that you are bound to love. Head on over to Goodreads now and check it out!
Praise for the Jessica McClain novels:
“Carlson has crafted a real roller coaster of a book and series!”—RT Book Reviews
“Amanda Carlson’s debut novel is a fast-paced tale with a cliffhanger ending that left me panting for more. Full Blooded left me on the edge of my seat from cover to cover.”—New York Times bestselling author Faith Hunter
“Amanda Carlson’s Full Blooded is full of all good things: danger, excitement, an original, LIKEABLE heroine and some great mythological mayhem.”—New York Times bestselling author Karen Chance
“A wild, wolfy ride that will have you howling for more!”—Kristen Painter, author of Blood Rights
- - September 2nd, 2014
Launching today at Orbit, the first in a series full of battle-hardened warriors and bloodthirsty druids!
AGE OF IRON is the first volume of a trilogy of epic fantasy novels that takes you back to a British Iron Age full of magic, dark humour and good old fashioned action adventure.
LEGENDS AREN’T BORN. THEY’RE FORGED.
Dug Sealskinner is a down-on-his-luck mercenary travelling south to join up with King Zadar’s army. But he keeps rescuing the wrong people. First, Spring, a child he finds scavenging on the battlefield, and then Lowa, one of Zadar’s most fearsome warriors, who’s vowed revenge on the king for her sister’s execution.
Now Dug’s on the wrong side of that thousands-strong army he hoped to join – and worse, Zadar has sacrificial druid magic on his side. All Dug has is his war hammer, one rescued child and one unpredictable, highly-trained warrior with a lust for revenge that’s going to get them all killed . . .
It’s a glorious day to die.
Author Angus Watson is a journalist and fan of Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch, who had the idea to write an epic fantasy tale set in this sparsely-recorded part of history while walking Britain’s Iron Age forts for a Telegraph feature:
“As we strode up to the massive walls of Maiden Castle, hewn from the chalk hill over centuries then abandoned 2,000 years ago, I asked my guide, Iron Age historian Peter Woodward, half joking, if the Iron Age was like the Conan the Barbarian books, with muscular men running about and rescuing virgins from snake worshipers.
“The Conan books and films are about as good a representation of the Iron Age as we have,” he said.
That was it. Here was my subject.”
You can read more from Angus on the Orbit blog this month, and he’s also on twitter, but first, let’s hear from AGE OF IRON’s fans:
‘Watson’s tale is gore soaked and profanity laden – full of visceral combat and earthy humor, and laced with subtle magic. The blend of historical accuracy and authorial liberties suggests an old-school sword-and-sorcery epic, though with some modern sensibilities thrown in for good measure!’
‘Would I read the next one? Yes, absolutely. Bring me my hammer, bring my beer, bring it on.’
‘Watson has created a brilliant and confident debut . . . If you like your fantasy packed with hammer-wielding heroes, bloodthirsty druids, strong female leads, action, intrigue, betrayal, and a brilliantly conceived world then AGE OF IRON is for you.’
THE BOOK BEARD
‘Thoroughly entertaining from the get go . . . I really got a kick out of the AGE OF IRON.’
THE ELOQUENT PAGE
The AGE OF IRON begins in all good book stores today. And you won’t have to wait too long for the rest of the trilogy, look out for CLASH OR IRON and REIGN OF IRON next year!
- - September 2nd, 2014
HIDDEN is released today – the fifth book in Benedict Jacka’s addictive urban fantasy series about the adventures of Camden-based mage Alex Verus.
Alex has successfully fought Dark mages, assassins, golems, angry apprentices and even the odd Light mage or two, but what happens when someone close to Alex doesn’t want his help?
We also release the first volume of this fantastic series, FATED, in audiobook today. Go to Soundcloud now to listen to a sample of FATED read by the fabulous Gilbert Jackson who does an amazing job with Alex’s voice:
‘It was a slow day, so I was reading a book at my desk and seeing into the future . . .’
With five Alex Verus novels now to enjoy and big name fans such as Charles Stross, Patricia Briggs and Jim Butcher, this is an urban fantasy series well worth sinking your teeth into. Try it in paperback or audio today!
‘Harry Dresden would like Alex Verus tremendously – and be a little nervous around him. I just added Benedict Jacka to my must-read list’
‘Jacka writes a deft thrill-ride of an Urban Fantasy – a stay-up-all-night read. Alex Verus is a very smart man surviving in a very dangerous world’
- - August 28th, 2014
Today we release the UK paperback edition of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, and we have some very exciting news to announce with it . . .
Harry August has been picked as a Richard and Judy Book Club title for 2014! This is a hugely important promotion in the UK, and we couldn’t be more delighted for the author Claire North (aka Catherine Webb). She’s an incredible talent and the novel is simply exceptional.
Given the fact that the novel was already chosen as a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick in April, this is turning out to be a fantastic year for Harry!
If you haven’t read this story yet – one of friendship and betrayal, love and loneliness, loyalty and redemption and the inevitable march of time – then don’t you think it’s about time?
And if you have already met Harry, why not join in the chat on Twitter using the hashtag #HarryAugust
‘From first line to beautiful denouement, Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is a gripping read’ Guardian
‘Fantastic’ Simon Mayo, BBC Radio 2
‘A masterful literary thriller’ – io9
‘One of the fiction highlights of the decade’ – Judy Finnigan, Richard and Judy Book Club