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TOWER LORD by Anthony Ryan

TOWER LORD Anthony Ryan

Following on from 2013′s bestselling epic fantasy debut is the second novel in the Raven’s Shadow series – a powerful epic fantasy from an exciting new British talent.
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VALORJohn Gwynne

War has erupted in the Banished Lands as the race for power intensifies. Sides are chosen and oaths will be fulfilled or broken in a land where hell has broken loose.
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brian-profile

THE CRIMSON CAMPAIGN (US | UK | AUS), Book 2 of the Powder Mage Trilogy, releases today! In The Crimson Campaign, all your favorite characters are back (plus a few new faces!), and there will be bloody times ahead for everyone.

If you’re new to the series, check out the beginning of  PROMISE OF BLOOD (US | UK | AUS)—available now in ebook, audio, and tradepaperback formats!

Below, Brian McClellan names his five favorite side characters. We’d love to hear who your favorites are in the comments!

Side characters are often the most fun for me to write. I can give them little quirks and write them with more freedom than point-of-view characters. Their lives are more “off-screen” than those of our heroes, and that can make them more mysterious and interesting to both myself and the reader. Here are five of my favorite side characters from Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign.

Be warned, there will be minor spoilers from Promise of Blood!

Ka-poel

A red-headed, freckled “savage” from the distant country of Fatrasta, very little of Ka-poel’s history is known. She uses a sorcery outside the recognized schools of magic in the Nine Nations, and the mystery of her motives and powers are compounded because she was born a mute. She only communicates through hand gestures and facial expressions.

This last bit has proved a challenge to write. It limits what I can do to build her character and has forced me to, quite literally, “show” instead of “tell.” But I love how mysterious her character is and she has turned out to be delightful to write. Ka-poel is an example of a side character who develops into an integral part of the story during the writing process.

Olem

Olem and Field Marshal Tamas meet at the beginning of Promise of Blood, when the field marshal is in need of a new bodyguard. They develop an immediate mutual respect for each other, and Olem’s skills as a soldier and his Knack–the ability to go without sleep–make him a natural choice for a bodyguard.

Field Marshal Tamas tends to take himself very seriously. Maybe too seriously. Lucky for us, Olem is there to watch his back and remind him, often in a rather sardonic manner, that there is more to life than pride and duty. Olem is deeply loyal, and while he often stretches the bounds of what would normally be appropriate to say to a field marshal, Tamas tolerates his familiarity for the sake of their friendship.

In The Crimson Campaign, however, we’ll discover that even Olem can go too far with Field Marshal Tamas.

Vlora

The ex-fiancée of Taniel Two-shot, Vlora is in the awkward position working alongside Taniel’s father. In original drafts of Promise of Blood, she had a lot more screen time that wound up getting cut along the way and it was fun to explore her character in more depth in The Crimson Campaign.

Vlora resonates with readers because she is complicated and conflicted, her most important relationships destroyed by a single mistake just before the start of Promise of Blood. Next to Taniel and Tamas, she is one of the most gifted Powder Mages in the world. In The Crimson Campaign, we get to discover her side of the story and see her in action. Read the rest of this entry »

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Out Today: Charlie Fletcher’s THE OVERSIGHT!

Charlie Fletcher’s gothic fantasy THE OVERSIGHT publishes today! Grab yourself a copy in print, digital or audiobook, and embark upon an adventure through a Dickensian London and wild British countryside filled with monsters, danger and intrigue. If you like Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett, you’re sure to enjoy this tale of dark deeds and even darker magics.

The book’s fans already include authors Mike Carey, Adam Roberts, Frances Hardinge and Cory Doctorow, it’s taken Twitter by storm, and here’s just a sample of some of the fantastic reviews we’ve seen so far:

‘The Oversight is – and let’s be clear here – something very special . . . It’s oh so moreish a morsel. I’d read a prequel this evening, a sequel as soon as.’ – Niall Alexander, Tor.com

‘Told in a kind of compelling and hypnotic poesie that I just lapped up . . . I’ll certainly be reading the next one.’ – Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing.net

‘A highly entertaining fantasy that promises a trilogy worth sinking your teeth into.’ – SciFiNow

‘A remarkable combination of British folklore, brisk pacing and wide-ranging imagination.’ – Kirkus Reviews

‘Richly atmospheric (the evil lurks in the background of every paragraph), the book should be a big hit with supernatural-fantasy readers . . . the second book can’t come soon enough.’ – Booklist (starred review) 

Listen to an audio sample at Soundcloud today.

ANCILLARY JUSTICE is the Arthur C. Clarke Award winner!

We heard the fantastic news last night that Ann Leckie is the winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award! This is a simply astounding achievement for any author, but especially for a debut novelist.

The award is given to the best science fiction novel of the year by a panel of judges invited from the British Science Fiction Association, the Science Fiction Foundation and the Sci-Fi-London Film Festival. 

ANCILLARY JUSTICE was announced as winner in a ceremony last night at London’s Royal Society. The Orbit team was attending and we all had a wonderful time.

The judges read over 120 different science fiction novels submitted by 42 different publishing houses and imprints, narrowing the shortlist down to just six spectacular novels before picking ANCILLARY JUSTICE as the winner.

Our biggest congratulations go to Ann, who adds the Clarke Award to her BSFA Award for Best Novel and her Kitschie Award for Best Debut Novel, all three awards for ANCILLARY JUSTICE. Hope she’s got room on the mantelpiece!

You can read the award coverage in The Guardian today.

 

The Clarke Award for ANCILLARY JUSTICE

 

Kristen-Painter-profile

Every vampire has heard rumor of the mythical place where their kind can daywalk. But what no vampire knows is that this City of Eternal Night actually exists.

And its name is New Orleans.

For centuries, the fae have protected the city from vampire infestation. But when the bloodsuckers return, the fragile peace in New Orleans begins to crumble.

Carefree playboy Augustine, and Harlow, a woman searching for answers about her absent father, are dragged into the war.  The fate of the city rests on them — and their fae blood that can no longer be denied.

There is nothing as heart wrenching for readers and authors alike as concluding a series and leaving a whole world behind.  But just as all good things must come to an end, new and fabulous things begin!  Kristen Painter, author of the beloved House of Comarré novels, knows this process well as she heads into her second series — Crescent City.  Book one, House of the Rising Sun, debuts next week, and in preparation, Kristen stopped by to talk about the transition process from an author point of view:

Top Five Reasons Ending an Existing Series is Hard

  1. Worldbuilding – Building worlds is tons of fun. But when you pour extensive amounts of gray matter into a world that’s spanned five novels and one novella, you’re pretty stuck in. You know the place intimately and you can navigate better than Google Maps. Ending the series means you don’t get to play there anymore.
  2. Characters – After a series run, your characters can feel like an extended part of your family. In some cases, you may have spent more time with them than your actual family. Throughout the books, your characters have grown and changed and those that have survived may have even become better people because of things they overcame along the way. You know them like you know yourself. When the series ends, there’s not a lot of chance to see them again.
  3. Readers – Readers get even more invested in a series than the author does sometimes, so for me, I’m always thinking about them when I write. My goal with every book is to entertain, so leaving a series makes me cringe. What if the readers aren’t happy with the ending? What if they still want more? What if the readers don’t like the new books? What if they hate the new hero/heroine?
  4. The New Book – All of a sudden you realize you have to come up with a new series – new worldbuilding, new characters, new conflicts, new plots. That can be daunting when you feel like you put everything you had into the series you just finished.
  5. The Final Book – The last book in a series carries a lot of weight. Writing it means shouldering the burdens of every unanswered thread you’ve created thus far. And some authors *coughmyselfcough* tend to create a lot of threads. All of them have to be wrapped up neatly and you’ve still got to have a conclusion that leaves the reader feeling satisfied. Oh, the pressure! It’s enough to make a writer drink. Or binge eat Swedish fish.

Read the rest of this entry »

What They’re Saying: Twitter on Charlie Fletcher’s THE OVERSIGHT

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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August on BBC Radio 2 Book Club

In case you missed it this week, the novel The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (UK/US/ANZ) was featured on the BBC Radio 2 Book Club with Simon Mayo. You can listen back to the interview for a few more days here (it starts at around 01:06:00).

Within the show, the identity of the pseudonym Claire North was revealed as our very own Catherine Webb, aka Kate Griffin. See a lovely picture of Catherine with Simon Mayo below.

catweb

We were delighted to hear all of the phone-in comments about how much people had enjoyed the book, and it was even described as “Kate Atkinson crossed with Terry Pratchett” – not bad comparisons there!

If you want to read something rather powerful today (in addition to the book itself), head over to www.harryaugust.net and see all the advice people have left to their past selves, inspired by this amazing novel.

You can also listen to the first chapter on Soundcloud below.

Meet the author of BATTLEMAGE: Stephen Aryan!

photo by Hannah Webster, copyright Stephen AryanOrbit recently acquired a debut epic fantasy trilogy by British author Stephen Aryan. The first book in the series, BATTLEMAGE, tells the story of mages treated as living weapons during a war between empires. It’s chock full of magic, scheming and truly epic battle scenes as these mages fight hard for an army that fears and distrusts them.

We’re sure you’re curious to meet the newest addition to Orbit, so we’ve created a mini-interview here with Stephen where you can get to know each other!

JH: Hi Stephen! Welcome to the Orbit gang!

SA: It’s a gang?

JH: Yep, we hang around on street corners, publishing books and scaring the neighbours. So what can you tell us about BATTLEMAGE, your very first novel?

SA: It’s an epic fantasy story set during a massive war and told from three main points of view; the front line warriors, the Heads of State and Generals conducting the war, and the Battlemages, wizards trained to fight and kill with their magic. Expect chopping off of limbs, political and espionage shenanigans, and black humour.

JH: Magicians, witches, wizards, we’ve read about them before – what’s different about your Battlemages?

SA: They’re a dying breed and are in demand all over the world. The Grey Council, the people in charge of magical training, abandoned their post years ago: the result is the majority of those born with a sensitivity to magic receive no training at all. Some have a little, which makes them unstable and, quite possibly, explosive as they don’t know how to control their power. Accidents happen quite often which has made a lot of people afraid of magic. So Battlemages are both feared and respected because they have immense power that makes them seem superhuman to most people, but they’re also necessary.

JH: Which books and authors influenced you in the writing of this series?

SA: The Earthsea novels by Ursula Le Guin was one early influence, which focus on Ged, a wizard who has several painful events that shape him as an adult. The other series that really made me think about wizards and magic were the Belgariad and the Malloreon novels by David Eddings. In both series there are only a handful of really powerful magic users who are also demi-gods and they walk that fine line between using their power to guide and protect humanity versus letting events run their natural course. LEGEND by David Gemmell was a big influence in terms of characterisation and my approach to story. Also the the work of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, in particular their Dragonlance novels, as they have magic, non-human races and diverse characters which I have in my books as well.

JH: If there’s one reason that readers should be looking forward to BATTLEMAGE, it is:

SA: Only one? Hmm, because it’s a rollicking good story with plenty of action, memorable characters, epic battles and a sense of humour throughout.

BATTLEMAGE will be out in October 2015, with the sequels to follow six months after. If you’d like to hear more from Stephen in the meantime, you can follow him on twitter at @SteveAryan or check out his website.

What They’re Saying: Book Bloggers Review THE LASCAR’S DAGGER

With all the great reviews coming in for Glenda Larke’s amazing new epic fantasy THE LASCAR’S DAGGER, we thought we’d collect a few here:

“She has the best world building of any fantasy writer I’ve ever read and it only seems to get stronger with each book . . . it blows my mind . . . if you are a fan of high fantasy and have not yet read any of Larke’s books, you are sorely missing out!”

The Obsessive Bookseller [Five star review]

“An excellent book that I highly recommend to all fantasy fans . . . for readers who have not read any Glenda Larke books before, this is a good a place to start”

Tsana Reads & Reviews [Five star review]

 “Definitely recommended!”

The Book Plank

The Lascar’s Dagger hit all the right notes. It’s epic fantasy in a uniquely crafted world complete with tight, flowing writing that almost instantly sucks readers in.  There’s magic and complex politics involving characters that you either love to love, or love to hate.”

Bookworm Blues

“As a set up for a series, and when dealing with the larger picture, I was hooked.  I am fascinated by the age of exploration and can’t wait to see it play out on a larger level in a fantasy novel . . . I want to see how a certain cursed land is affected by certain actions in the book.  I want to know how the religious schism that seems set to grow turns out…

Fantasy Review Barn

“The magic here isn’t just in the witchery shrines, but in the characters . . . Larke’s magic is in making her characters rich and interesting.”

Paranormal Haven

“Readers who love epic fantasy for the political intrigue and all that entails would find lots to like in The Lascar’s Dagger. There are scandals, betrayals and plays for power . . . I have to praise this book for its originality; there are ideas in here never seen before, and with really no way to predict what’s coming next, I’m definitely on board with continuing this series.”

The Bibliosanctum

THE LASCAR’S DAGGER is out in all good bookshops now. If’ you’d like to hear more, you can read the first chapter on the Orbit website, or find Glenda at her website or on twitter at @glendalarke.

Rachel Aaron

Author post

Anatomy of a Badass

When I first sat down to write Devi Morris, I only knew two things about her: 1) she wore powered armor, and 2) she was a total badass. Naturally, the first factor contributed greatly to the second. I dare you to put anything in in a sleek suit of powered armor and not have it become instantly more badass! But equipment alone doesn’t a badass make. If Devi was truly going to be who I wanted her to be, she would have to be just as awesome outside of her armor as she was in it. Her badassery needed to be inherent, a natural element of her being, and before I could write that, I needed to figure out just what a badass was.

What makes someone a badass is one of those things that is instantly recognizable, but hard to actually pin down in objective description. Heroes can be badasses, but not all badasses are heroes (in fact, the badass role is often saved for the villain, whose badassery is used as a threat). And while the classic image of a badass is an aggressive dude, badass is not an inherently masculine or macho descriptor as proven by the enormous number of female badasses in film, comics, television, and literature. It’s also not limited to violence. People who survive impossible situations are also proclaimed badasses even if their feat of badassitude was to simply continue living when most wouldn’t.

With all these differences, the most basic anatomy of a badass can be stripped down to three primary factors: a refusal to give up when the odds are stacked against them, a confident attitude, often aggressive attitude, and some kind of extreme proficiency in a skill. Why these? Well, the attitude part is obvious, but the rest is more interesting. See, humans love to watch people do things very well. Even the simplest, most mundane acts like stacking plastic cups can seem like magic when performed at a world class skill level. We respect talent, even if we can’t actually say how the talent is useful. Likewise, we admire people who stand on their beliefs. One of my favorite lines from Highlander is that uncompromising men are easy to admire. Even when we don’t actually agree, we admire and respect people who stand up for their ambitions/causes/beliefs/dreams and refuse to back down despite overwhelming odds.

Put all these factors together and you can make a badass out of anything. Take the competition cooking show Iron Chef, for example. In the show, chefs from all over the world challenge the reigning Iron Chef to a one hour extreme cooking showdown with a mystery ingredient. Naturally, since this is television, the challenge is designed to seem impossible. How many of us could cook a 5-7 course meal on the fly when every course must incorporate an ingredient we don’t even know until the challenge begins? But the chefs on this show are all kitchen badasses, and they use their years, sometimes decades of experience, creativity, and natural skill to overcome the odds and prove that their cuisine reigns supreme!

So we see that the anatomy of badass can be simple, even formulaic, and when used without thought, this can be a big problem. Think of any mediocre, forgettable action movie and you’ll see a badass that failed not because they didn’t follow the formula, but because they followed it too well. There’s nothing wrong with simplicity, but just as great art can never be achieved painting by numbers, a truly memorable, worthy badass must be far more than the sum of her parts.

Being good at something, an in your face attitude, and refusing to back down are all a good starting point, but a badass who is also a good character has to have style. She can’t just say “I’m the best,” she has to prove it over and over again against increasingly crazy odds. She can’t just take a stand, she has to put it all on the line every single time for a worthy cause she and the reader both believe in. She has to be larger than life and human at the same time, which means her problems have to be writ just as large as everything else. She has to be admirable but still rateable, else she risks being a caricature instead of a character.

This was what I learned from reading and watching my favorite badasses in action, and this was the approach I took with Devi. Now that the series is ending, and I’m looking back at everything I tried to do with it, I think creating a badass to be remembered was the one place where I truly succeeded as well as I’d hoped to. Authors aren’t supposed to have favorite characters, but I can’t help but admit that Devi is and probably will always be right up there at the top. She’s the female hero I always wanted to see in the movies, the badass lady I would have pretended to be when I was a kid, and I already miss her more than I should miss someone who is ultimately a figment of my imagination.

So for everyone who’s been waiting to see how the story ends, I really hope you enjoy HEAVEN’S QUEEN (US | UK | AUS). I put a lot of thought into creating a suitably badass ending, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And for those of you who haven’t met Devi Morris yet (and who’ve been sufficiently entertains by this post long enough to get all the way down here to the end), I invite you to read a little more and check out the first chapter of FORTUNE’S PAWN (US | UK | AUS), the beginning of the Paradox series. Thank you everyone for reading and for making this series a success! I look forward to writing more Paradox novels. I can’t promise more Devi, but really, do you think I can keep her down?

Not a chance.

Ann Leckie wins BSFA Best Novel Award with Gareth L. Powell

The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards were announced in a ceremony two days ago at the Satellite 4 Eastercon 2014 in Glasgow.

Ann Leckie and Gareth L. Powell made history by being the first winners to ever tie for position in the Best Novel Award, which has been awarded to both authors. Ann won with her debut space opera ANCILLARY JUSTICE and Gareth with alternate history adventure ACK-ACK MACAQUE.

Ann had twice the reason to celebrate over the Easter weekend, with her place on the Hugo Awards’ Best Novel shortlist announced just the day before! She was joined by other Orbit authors Mira Grant (for PARASITE), Charles Stross (for NEPTUNE’S BROOD), and Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (for the Wheel of Time series).

See all the BSFA winners including Best Short Fiction, Best Non-Fiction and Best Art at the BSFA website. Many thanks to Dan Franklin for collecting Ann’s award.

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