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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Two Upcoming Novels that I Cannot Stop Talking About

Since I have just finished reading 50 books from my 2010 Anticipated List of roughly 100 including "maybes" and since recently I have done a post with twelve 2010 novels that impressed me so far - 10 from my expected list and 2 surprises - I decided to do a short post with two more upcoming 2010 novels that I have read in the meantime and were awesome. I will do full reviews for each as publication dates get closer.


The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet-David Mitchell

Imagine a nation banishing the outside world for two centuries, crushing all vestiges of Christianity, forbidding its subjects to leave its shores on pain of death, and harbouring a deep mistrust of European ideas. The narrow window onto this nation-fortress is a walled, artificial island attached to the mainland port and manned by a handful of traders. Locked as the land-gate may be, however, it cannot prevent the meeting of minds – or hearts. The nation was Japan, the port was Nagasaki and the island was Dejima, to where David Mitchell's panoramic novel transports us in the year 1799. For one young Dutch clerk, Jacob de Zoet, a strage adventure of duplicity, love, guilt, faith and murder is about to begin – and all the while, unbeknownst to the men confined on Dejima, the axis of global power is turning..."

Set in 1799-early 1800's mostly on the artificial island of Dejima that was Japan's only window to the West from the 1640's to the 1850's and which was connected to the city of Nagasaki by a simple "land gate", gate that metaphorically connects two worlds, though there is a lot of action both in Nagasaki and in its surroundings, the novel has three main interweaving threads:

the life and fate of Jacob de Zoet, the isolation of Japan as expressed through its one window to the European world, the artificial island of Dejima and finally a story of cross lovers, murders, abductions, secret mystical and very dark cults that gives the novel both a tinge of the fantastic and powers its action and emotional content.

There is a lot to explore in this book and it's really worth spending the time to do it; an A++ and a novel to savor at length and probably my best of the year at least so far, though The Folding Knife still is in competition there. Full Review to come soon.


The Last Page by Anthony Huso (cover may change for publication)

"The city of Isca is set like a dark jewel in the crown of the Duchy of Stonehold. In this sprawling landscape, the monsters one sees are nothing compared to what’s living in the city’s sewers.Twenty-three-year-old Caliph Howl is Stonehold’s reluctant High King. Thrust onto the throne, Caliph has inherited Stonehold’s dirtiest court secrets. He also faces a brewing civil war that he is unprepared to fight. After months alone amid a swirl of gossip and political machinations, the sudden reappearance of his old lover, Sena, is a welcome bit of relief. But Sena has her own legacy to claim: she has been trained from birth by the Shradnae witchocracy — adept in espionage and the art of magical equations writ in blood — and she has been sent to spy on the High King."

The blurb above does not do justice to this awesome novel that is the "pure" genre debut of the year so far for me and one of three 2010 "debuts" in a more extended sense that astounded me so far.

I have not encountered the inventiveness, sense of wonder and the "many goodies" of
The Last Page in a debut, all packed in a reasonable 400 odd pages, since John C Wright's Golden Age and Gary Gibson's Angel Stations, though this one is fantasy with blood magic, necromancy, mysterious and ultra-powerful beings, but also airships, guns, newspapers and a "steampunk" like setting with an early industrial flavor.

The main characters Caliph and Sena are just superb with a great supporting cast of witches, spies, former college friends, devoted servants and mysterious personages, while the meaning of the title remains somewhat ambiguous to the end ("page" as in book, or as in a young servant?); while the main thread of the novel is solved, the stunning ending promises a sequel for the ages too. A++ and full review in late July/early August


Bush League Critic said...

Both these books sound interesting... and right up my alley! Can't wait for the full reviews.

Liviu said...

Thank you for your kind words; The Last Page is an August book and I really have not seen any mention of it before the blurb I quoted so I decided to start mentioning it because it is that good.

The David Mitchell book is quite known, but it may be less known in sff circles and while not strictly speaking sff, it it is strongly associational (meeting of alien cultures, world building, dark cults...); here I may review Cloud Atlas first and Thousand Autumns later, closer to the US publication in June, but I am not yet decided

rachelhestondavis said...

The Last Page sounds like a great book. I can't wait for it to come out.

Rachel Heston Davis

Anonymous said...

Pratidhi Chowdhury and Megha Gupta, upcoming authors, will have their book released in 2013. It's a love story, different from those that talk about the usual love flicks. Follow the post and encourage their efforts.

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