Hot on the heels of an exciting April which included some gut-wrenching moments in Game of Thrones and several great new fantasy novels to read, this May gives us every reason to continue celebrating. THE TYRANT’S LAW (US | UK | AUS), Daniel Abraham’s latest novel in the Dagger and Coin series, will be available for purchase next week!
Here’s an excerpt from the third novel in the series which RT Book Reviews called “easily the best of the series, and perhaps the best book this reviewer has read in the last 12 months!”
Milo slipped in the darkness, falling to one knee. The stones of the beach cut his skin, and the blood darkened the oiled wool of his leggings. The old fisherman, Kirot his name was, paused and looked back at him, lifting his lantern and one white eyebrow in query. Are you coming, or staying here? To the north, the waves cracked with ice. To the south, the deep darkness of the village waited for their return. Milo forced himself to stand. A little more blood would do him no harm. He’d lost enough, God knew. Kirot nodded and turned back to the long, slow trudge along the shore.
The rhythm of their steps sounded against the waves like the complex patterns of a marriage dance. Milo could almost conjure up the thrill of the violins and the tapping of the shell drums. He had heard it said that of all the thirteen races of mankind, the Haaverkin had the most exquisite sense of music. In fairness, he’d only heard this said by other Haaverkin. A woman’s voice rose in the music, ululating in a sensual harmony with the strings, and Milo recognized that he was hallucinating. The voice of the water, his father called it. He’d heard it before sometimes when he’d been out on the boats in the dim light before dawn or limping back in to shore after a long day on the cold northern waters. Sometimes it was music, other times voices in conversation or argument. Some of the very old or very young claimed that the sounds were real, that they were the Drowned calling out to their brother race. Milo’s father said that was rot and piss. It was only a man’s mind playing tricks on itself, and the roar of ice and water to give it ground to play on. And so that was what Milo believed.
The coast nearest his village was ragged. Cliffs and stony beach, fat green crabs and snow-grey gulls. Some nights the aurora danced green and gold in the sky, but tonight it was low dark cloud and the smell of snow coming. The moon struggled now and again through the cover, peeping down at the two men and then looking shyly away. No, not two men. Not yet. One man and one nearly so. Milo had been a boy that morning, and would be a man before he slept, but he was still in the dangerous place between places, neither one thing nor another. It was why. he was here.
‘Oh, you fortunate people. HEROES DIE and BLADE OF TYSHALLE directly informed the writing of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA . . . I’d dare say they were what taught me how to craft a novel. Matt is criminally underrated, and these books are bog standard for him, which is to say ‘brilliant.’ They’re bold, startling, multi-layered, humane, and laugh-out-loud wonderful at frequent intervals . . .
. . . A gritty, bloody, deeply touching work of genius’
‘A heaping plate of kickass kickassery with a side of kickass sauce . . .
If you are a fan of the meaty, bloody but smart fantasy of which authors like Joe Abercrombie and Richard K. Morgan currently traffic, you really do owe it to yourself to check out the whole Caine series . . . I doubt very seriously you will be disappointed, and if you are, well, I don’t know what to do with you, except maybe wonder if your brain chemistry is off in some unique and disturbing way. But I’m willing to bet your brain is fine and you’re going to eat this stuff up.
So: fans of fantasy, this is my recommendation. Get this one. Get them all’
‘Talk about a dark anti-hero. Talk about a cool alt-SF/Fantasy world. Talk about some violent assholes who populate BOTH universes. I mean Hari is one of the biggest badasses I’ve read in a LONG time. Seriously flawed, very nihilistic world/WORLDS really he’s involved in. And yet, his journey is so full of emotion, you root for him every step of the way. This is an Alpha male you can get behind. Damn. Hot damn.
Don’t read if you don’t like profanity, unlikeable characters and awesome fight scenes. :D
THIS WAS FANTASTIC! . . . If you like really really gritty, dark fantasy like George RR Martin, Richard Morgan (Takashi Kovaks books) or ESPECIALLY Joe Abercrombie, you should get this book’
New York City. It’s a city that those of us in the US offices are really quite fond of as you might imagine, and it’s a city that has a personality like no other.
This May, we’re really excited to be publishing Mur Lafferty’s THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY (US | UK | AUS). The terrific cover by Jamie McKelvie has personality in spades—not unlike Zoe, the intrepid, young journalist and recent New York transplant who stars in THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY. Here is a set of wallpapers for your computer and electronic devices to tide you over until the big release day. Enjoy!
“The hip, knowing and sometimes hysterically funny narrative, interspersed with excerpts from the guide of the title, lurches along in splendid fashion. Combine wit, style and acute observation: The result is irresistible.” - Kirkus (starred review)
“Lafferty, a 2012 nominee for the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer, introduces a spirited, indomitable heroine who is bound to be a favorite of urban fantasy devotees.” – Library Journal
Today week we’re releasing NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ) by Ian Tregillis, the conclusion to the spectacular Milkweed Triptych. The series began with BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ).
It’s hard to express just how much we are all head-over-heels in love with this series. This time, it’s not just me, Ian’s editor, who’s wanting to tell you how great the books are. The whole Orbit team has been clamouring to tell everyone just how much these books will blow your mind:
James Long, Orbit Editorial Assistant
“The Milkweed Triptychis simply one of the best trilogies I’ve ever read. These books are beautifully written, meticulously plotted and tell an incredible story built around a host of wonderfully-drawn characters. At heart these books tell an exciting adventure story about British warlocks fighting a secret war against Nazi supersoldiers, and are appropriately packed with explosive action sequences. Yet they’re also deeply moving, intelligent novels that will repeatedly shatter your expectations and make you ponder all sorts of questions about the power of love and the nature of evil. Quite simply, they’re brilliant and utterly unmissable.”
Felice Howden, Little, Brown Marketing
“I was initially enamoured by this series from the description: X-Men meets Inglorious Basterds. When I opened the first page to a Nietzsche quote and a scene where one child cunningly engineers the death of another, I knew it was something special. Then I discovered one of the main characters was a prescient German girl; a puppeteer manipulating the others on her choice of path through wars, births, deaths, friendships and hatred; making moves calculated years in advance with unimaginable consequences; throwing stones that rippled through the lives of everyone around her. And I was in love.”
Anne Clarke, Orbit Editorial Director
“I love the way the plot threads around and twists back on itself, just when you think you’ve got it all worked out, both within the books and between them. Every new page gives you another thread to pull. The writing itself is phenomenal, but it’s the characters and the plot – my god, the plot! – that have got me so hooked. I can’t wait to read Necessary Evil and find out how Ian manages to resolve such a tangled web. Ian’s poor protagonists dance like puppets for the unbearably sinister Gretel, but there must be a master plan behind it all. I can’t believe she doesn’t have one – though I do hope poor Raybould foils it and that he finds the redemption he so desperately wants. He deserves a break after all he’s been through!”
Anna Gregson, Orbit Commissioning Editor
“After having devoured the entire Milkweed Triptych at the speed of light, I can only conclude is that Ian Tregillis is an absolute genius. The Milkweed books are simply one of the cleverest, most engrossing series I’ve ever read. I often found myself chuckling out loud in public places at the pure brilliance of the plotting, the devious intellect of the protagonists, and the masterful skill of the author’s turn of phrase… Ian Tregillis takes an idea which is already hugely exciting in a very superhero-comic kind of way (mad warlocks fighting scientifically-enhanced Nazi übermensch), but then delivers the concept with such intelligence, such emotional power and such literary flair that you cannot help but fall head-over-heels for him as a writer.”
If you haven’t started this series yet and want to find out just why we’re going so crazy about it, you can get a taster with a free extract of BITTER SEEDS here.
Poster for The Wolverine 3d film – coming in July 2013
I was interested (and I’ll admit it – a little excited) to read this recent article, stating that advances in gene technology could lead to a race of genetically superior human beings by the year 2045. These were apparently the findings of a Ministry of Defence think tank during a two-day summit last summer.
Alright – so sources such as The Sun and The Daily Mail might have sensationalised the think tank’s statements a touch by claiming that in a few years time, people will have Wolverine-style adamantium claws busting out all over the shop, and will be spontaneously whipping up tornadoes left, right and centre à la Storm.
But although a real-life X-men army might not exactly be right round the corner – the underlying gist of the claim could be entirely reasonable: that we’ll likely soon be using genetic technology to enhance the strength of the human body, to eliminate imperfections and to increase stamina.
But as time goes on, who knows what the limitations will be? Who knows if by genetically developing certain parts of the brain, we’ll discover unknown abilities – telekinesis, psychic powers, control over natural elements? One needs to have an open mind, and it might not happen in 30 years time – but it’s not entirely beyond belief.
Neither are the apparent risks and dangers that certain individuals developing those powers would present.
The MoD think tank also claimed that “it is possible that advances in biology, unequally shared across society, could generate genetic inequality”.
But it might not just be within one particular society that inequality is a risk. What happens, in fact, if one nation develops superhumans before another? Will it lead to an “arms race” of human augmentation, the winner of which will become the next superpower?
This is the terrifying and thrilling concept behind the Milkweed trilogy by Ian Tregillis. It starts with BITTER SEEDS (UK | ANZ) and THE COLDEST WAR (UK | ANZ), and concludes with NECESSARY EVIL (UK | ANZ – releasing this coming Tuesday). Read the rest of this entry »
If you think dating is hard now, I hate to tell you this, but it’s only going to get worse. Based on the Hugo-winning story, Bridesicle, LOVE MINUS EIGHTY (US | UK | AUS) is a cold and yet stirring look at the search for true love in the future. What is already a difficult task for us now becomes even more complicated in this twisted and poignant story penned by Will McIntosh.
Praise for LOVE MINUS EIGHTY:
“This is speculative fiction at its most personal and powerful, extrapolating current social and technological trends and exploring how they would affect future people simply trying to live their lives and make their existence matter to someone.” – Kirkus (Starred Review)
One of the coolest things in Orson Scott Card’s novel ENDER’S GAME – and likely one of the most difficult things to film – are the combat scenes that take place in the zero gravity battle room. So just how did they go about filming them for the Ender’s Game movie?
There’s a great exclusive interview here on i09 from Asa Butterfield (star of Hugo and The Boy In the Striped Pajamas), who plays Ender Wiggin himself.
It’s a very cool insight into the challenges of filming a scifi movie, e.g.:
“When you’re in the harnesses to stop yourself from falling at the waist, which is where they’re connected, you have to be tensed up. So keeping actions smooth whilst having your whole body completely tensed is surprisingly difficult. Meanwhile you’re saying your lines . . .”
And if you’re keen to find out more back story to ENDER’S GAME, and the conflict that spawned the battle school, we’ll soon be publishing two explosive Orson Scott Card books telling of mankind’s first contact with the alien race – EARTH UNAWARE (UK | ANZ) and EARTH AFIRE (UK | ANZ), books 1 and 2 in The First Formic Wars.
When I first started writing urban fantasy I knew I wanted to bring in as many facts as I could into my series. As a reader, I loved it when I authors wove “fact” into fiction. I say “fact” loosely, as some of our facts are myths and can be disputed, but nonetheless the information I’ve gathered for my series is documented in our culture, whether it’s fact, folklore or legend.
In FULL BLOODED, the first book in the Jessica McClain series, I crafted two characters based on research. The first one was the goddess who shows up and quickly becomes Jessica’s archrival. Selene, the Lunar Goddess, was a perfect fit for the part. Greek Mythology states that Selene is the Goddess of the Moon and known for her countless love affairs. What better deity to go up against a werewolf than a Lunar Goddess? Plus I loved her name. It fit the character I had in my mind perfectly and after compiling a list of good characteristics, Selene the Lunar Goddess was born.
“I’m not a witch, you filthy bloodsucker, I’m a Goddess.” She glared, her irises a pure, fiery red now. “Goddess of the Moon, to be exact. Or if you prefer, a powerful Sorceress of Enchantment. Take your pick. But I am most certainly not a witch.”
The next is the Vampire Queen, Eudoxia. I really wanted my vampires to have Russian lineage, and preferably for her father to be Ivan the Terrible. The timing was perfect for that reign, roughly 450 years ago, and by doing research I found that Ivan had a daughter by the name of Eudoxia. He had several, but Eudoxia fit perfectly.
“You are not nearly as impressive as I had presumed you to be, little wolf girl.” The voice was attached to a vision of flawlessly etched skin. A face so perfectly defined it cast its own shadows. She boasted high, prominent cheekbones and a pair of wide hazel eyes, rimmed in heavy kohl. Her pallor was a true white, making her red lips look garish.
One of the fun parts of doing research is crafting characters and creating details with the information, some of which may never be used in the books. My werewolves are Scottish and when coming up with their full names, I incorporated Scottish Gaelic names into the mix. Jessica’s father, Callum Sèitheach (SHAY-uch, wolf) McClain, and her twin brother, Tyler Faoláin (FWAY-lun, little wolf) McClain. It’s one of those nuances that make the characters come alive, which I love so much. Creating real histories mixed with facts make the characters a little more real to me.
In HOT BLOODED, which just released this week, there are a number of researched elements in the book—but, unfortunately, telling you which ones
right now would be a bit too spoliery! (Hint: when you see the beasties, think mythical origins.) I will continue to weave fact and myth into my series, because I love it when the two worlds come together so perfectly.
To all my current and future readers, hope you enjoy the series!
Amanda Carlson’s latest novel HOT BLOODED (US | UK | AUS) is available online and in stores now. To read the first three chapters, become a fan of Amanda on Facebook or start from the beginning of the series with FULL BLOODED (US | UK | AUS).
New and current fans of Amanda’s novels can sign-up for the Jessica McClain book club to discuss the series with fellow fans and participate in exclusive chats with the author.
The legends of King Arthur sparked my imagination as a young boy. The majesty of his court, the magic, the intrigue, politics, civil war, and immense battles. It was all so interesting and incredible, and I was a very disappointed ten year old when I learned that he wasn’t, in fact, real. As I grew older, I came to learn about historical figures that were just as fascinating as King Arthur, and far more real.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Julius Caesar had a tumultuous life. He was an orator, a politician, and a military man. He survived political purges, being captured by pirates, and was at one point a high priest of Jupiter. He conquered Gaul and invaded Britain. Plutarch claimed that Caesar’s armies killed a million men and enslaved that many again during that campaign—though the number is likely propaganda.
He ignited a civil war in Rome, eventually emerging victorious, and went on to implement much-needed reforms with the goal of strengthening Rome’s central government and reducing corruption. He instituted the new Julian Calendar, which was the basis for the calendar we still use today.
Arthur Wellesley entered the British army as an ensign at the age of eighteen. Twenty-six years later he was a field marshal and was soon after granted a dukedom, becoming the 1st Duke of Wellington. He fought in wars all around the world, and served as a Prime Minister in Great Britain, earning the nickname of the “Iron Duke” for his political resolve.
He was Napoleon Bonaparte’s greatest enemy in the Peninsular Campaign and led the troops that defeated Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo.
It says interesting things about a man that he could have lost not one but two wars hundreds of years ago and still be known as one of the greatest military commanders of all time. A Corsican, he rose through the ranks of the French army and eventually staged a coup, installing himself as the First Consul and later emperor of France. He was known for his military prowess and often defeated numerically superior armies.
He initiated civil reforms that included advancement by merit and religious freedom, as well as laws written and accessible to the average man—reforms that stayed in place after his ultimate defeat. He had a keen mind for politics and popularity that pandered to the people rather than the established aristocracy.
Most of us live our lives knowing that we won’t have much influence on the grand scheme of things. That’s normal. With so many billions of people on this planet, how could we? Yet there are some people who change everything. These are the movers and the shakers, the great generals and statesmen. Looking back on some of these men and seeing their imprint on history one might believe they were forces of nature.
Field Marshal Tamas, the protagonist of PROMISE OF BLOOD, came about because I wanted to write someone like that. He’s a flawed man who does bad things for good reasons—and he does them on a monumental scale. In most stories, he would be the villain. Tamas is not the villain of this story, but he’s no saint. He doesn’t pretend to be. There’s enough blood on his hands to drown a city and there’ll be more before he’s done.
There is a little bit of each of those three men in Tamas. Like Caesar, he’s loved by his troops and by the people. Like Wellesley, he is a hard-headed man known for his resolve. Like Napoleon, he staged a coup, and both his friends and enemies respect his military prowess. As with all three of them, he shapes the world around him.