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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Liviu's Anticipated 2010 Releases Part 3

Here is Part 3 (Part 1, Part 2) of my anticipated 2010 titles that I plan to read, including debuts and mainstream. A total of 16 extra "established" sff titles in addition to the 40 or so in Part 2, 18 debuts and 5 mainstream titles plus a compilation of some 18 "maybes", some more likely to be published in 2010 than others. So far I have 6 of the roughly 90 "sure" titles featured in the 3 posts of which I have read 4 and plan to read the other 2 soon. I will collate all three posts and do quick takes on each title as I read them throughout 2010, while full FBC reviews will follow in many cases.


The Barbary Pirates (Ethan Gage 4) - William Dietrich

It's Ethan Gage, it's most likely an exciting adventure so a must. After Egypt, the Middle East, Paris and a dalliance with Napoleon' sister that made a trip back home advisable followed by an exploration of the American interior in search of Viking traces, Ethan is on to another adventure; another book I opened by chance - basically the title excited me well enough to give it a try - Napoleon's Pyramids established this series as a big time favorite of mine and I have reviewed all 3 adventures so far (Napoleon's Pyramids + The Rosetta Key which form a complete duology, The Dakota Cipher), while we also have a bonus essay by Mr. Dietrich.
Pyramids, masons, mysterious ancient manuscripts of power, but first and foremost page turning fun with lots of great cameos and a towering Napoleon. Loosely sfnal in content, the series is very sfnal in ethos so it deserves inclusion here rather than in the "mainstream section".

Secrets of the Fire Sea (Jackelian 4) - Stephen Hunt

Another epic/steampunk loose series - here the novels follow one another but the main characters change - I loved the debut The Court of the Air (FBC Rv Robert) which had some narrative problems but had so many "goodies" that I could forgive it almost anything, while the followup The Kingdom Beyond the Waves
(FBC Rv Robert) was a top 5 fantasy of mine for 2008 and it's one of the most fun fantasy adventures I read in the last several years with a "for the ages" 60 page action sequence that ends it and with much smoother prose.
Sadly the highly, highly awaited third installment "The Rise of the Iron Moon"
was a disappointment being too pulpy for my taste and I found it very hard to suspend disbelief; however I am willing to give it another try before I read this one, maybe a year 's perspective and different expectations will allow me to enjoy it better; anyway I am still in the series, so this fourth book is a must and I hope it will live up to the still very high expectations I have. We also have an interview with the author.

Deceiver (Foreigner #11)- C. J. Cherryh

Another year, another Foreigner novel and while the first 6 were just superb, the following 4 were much more mixed with the action slowing to a crawl. But the saga of Brent paidhi and the atevi which at least to start with was "Shogun" in space to a large extent is still compelling enough to follow it.


The Midnight Mayor ( Matthew Swift 2) - Kate Griffin

The only "pure" UF series I follow, "A Madness of Angels" (FBC Rv) was an unexpected good read for me so I am interested in this one and hope it will keep my "suspension of disbelief" of which I have so hard time in UF. Very clear prose and a compelling main character are the main reasons I plan to continue reading the series.

Freedom(TM) (Daemon 2)- Daniel Suarez

Near-future "post cyberpunk" sfnal thriller, the way it should be done imho; an underground hit self-published pseudonymously, "Daemon" (FBC Rv) got a major league release under the author's name this year and despite some minor narrative flaws, it was a very compelling read with a stunning ending that makes this one another highly expected novel. Dead billionaire genius, distributed AI that wants to take over and some oddball charcters in real and virtual...


The Office of Shadow (Midwinter 2)- Matthew Sturges

I loved Midwinter (FBC dual Rv with Robert) though on reread and after time passed I started agreeing about some of its flaws that others pointed out; while it moved a little down in my ranking for 2009, I still think Midwinter a great debut with its inventiveness overriding the narrative problems; The Office of Shadows is a highly expected book and with a little prose improvement it could be a candidate to my top 10 since it has the "narrative heft" for that. A strange mixture of traditional fantasy with modernity - a 21st century Earth physicist in the fae world though he is not the main character so far; 50's cars running loose in same "magical" world...

The Hypnotist (Reincarnation 3) by MJ Rose
In Vienna a clandestine robbery inside a locked library leads to a brutal murder. A 1,500-year-old sculpture holds the Metropolitan Museum of Art hostage. A young woman’s fatal accident gives two lovers a chance to meet again, against all odds. A centuries-old massacre in Persia has modern-day repercussions in Iran. In New York City a Matisse masterpiece surfaces after twenty years, mutilated and vandalized."

Another part of a loose series of which I really loved volume 2 "The Memorist" (FBC Rv) after a "meh" volume 1 "The Reincarnationist"; based on the blurb and on what I read in The Memorist I expect to love this one a lot. Sfnal thrillers with historical undertones following parallel characters in some historical milieu and present day.


Migration (standalone??)- Hogan, James

"The world of the past eventually died in the conflagration toward which it had been doggedly heading. A more fragmented and diversified order has emerged from the ruins and . technology has reappeared to a greater or lesser degree in some places and not at all in others.

Unique among them is the nation-state of Sofi, with an exceptional population that has rediscovered advanced science. However, as the old patterns that led to ruin before begin to reassert themselves across the rest of the world, a scientific-political movement within Sofi embarks on a years-long project to build a generation starship that will enable them to create their own world elsewhere.

The circumstances and thinking of future generations growing up in the totally unknown situation of a space environment cannot be known. Accordingly, the mission will include different groups of idealists, reformers, misfits, and dissidents who are not satisfied with the world-in-miniature that constitutes the original mother ship, to go out and build whatever they want. Hence, what arrives at the distant star generations hence will be a flotilla of variously run city states, frontier towns, religious monasteries, pleasure resorts, urban crushes, rural spreads, academic retreats, and who-knows what else.

The trouble began, of course, when all the old patterns that they thought they were getting away from started reappearing . . . "

While the recent Hogan books have been hit-or-miss for me (taking Velikovsky seriously and writing a sf novel about that is not what I look forward to; though to be honest the novel in cause Cradle of Saturn was better than many disaster novels I tried as far as the story goes if you can swallow the pseudo-science gobble-dock - it's one thing to write about vampires, fairies and the like since people will take it as fantasy but something else to write about discredited junk) - but the early Giants novels were pulp fun, so this one is a try for sure.

Up Jim River (Celtic Space Opera 2) - Michael Flynn

There is a river on Dangchao Waypoint, a small world out beyond Die Bold. It is a longish river as such things go, with a multitude of bayous and rapids and waterfalls, and it runs through many a strange and hostile country. Going up it, you can lose everything. Going up it, you can find anything"

Follow-up to the excellent 'The January Dancer" (FBC Rv), I included a non-spoilerish part of the blurb to give you a flavor of this Celtic Space Opera; I hope it will live up to my very high expectations.

West and East (War That Came Early 2) - Harry Turtledove

Sequel to Hitler's War which I loved (FBC Rv HERE)- Munich 1938 fails and Germany invades the Czechs; highly awaited novel in what may be one of the best military series ever (forget the alternate since the novel follows WW2 descriptions perfectly imho and I read lots about that both non-fiction and fiction).

Behemoth (Leviathan 2) - Scott Westerfeld

Sequel to the superb Leviathan (FBC Rv) and a Jules Verne'ish series for the 21st century. I expect 2-3 hours of pure fun with at least one re-read and maybe a "pre-re-read" of Leviathan to get into its spirit.

The Technician ie The Gabbleduck novel (Polity standalone) - Neal Asher

While I expected the Owner novel
(Departure Space), that one seems to be 2011 so I will get and read this one since I love the Polity series quite a lot. We have various reviews of Neal Asher's work (Brass Man, Hilldiggers, Line War) , an interview and the post arguing why he is in the top 6 sf writers of the 00's.


Prospero in Hell (Miranda 2) -L. Jagi Lamplighter

Prospero Lost (FBC Rv) was a big positive surprise of 2009; I did not expect to read it, but the cover intrigued me and I opened it as I do most sff titles available in major bookstores "just to do my duty" so to speak and I got hooked on the first page so I bought the book the same day and read it immediately. Not quite UF as is understood today, but more in the tradition of older fantasy, I liked both the inventiveness of the author and her style, while Miranda became a favorite heroine. The ending is quite superb with a twist that makes Prospero in Hell even more anticipated...

The Prince of the Mist (series 1) - CR Zafon
"The novel begins when Max Carver's father – a watchmaker and inventor – decides to move his family to a small town on the Atlantic coast. They move into a house that was built for a prestigious surgeon, Dr Richard Fleischmann and his wife but was abandoned when the couple's son drowned in a tragic accident. Behind the house Max spies an overgrown garden full of statues surrounded by a metal fence topped with a six-pointed star. When he goes to investigate, Max finds that the statues seem to consist of a kind of circus troop. In the centre of the garden is the large statue of a clown set in another six-pointed star. Max has the curious sensation that the statue is beckoning to him. As the family settles in they grow increasingly uneasy: they discover a box of old films belonging to the Fleischmanns; his sister has unsettling dreams and his other sister hears voices whispering to her from an old wardrobe. But Max spends most of his time with his new friend Roland, who takes him diving to the wreck of a boat that sank close to the coast in a terrible storm. Everyone on board perished except for one man – an engineer who built the lighthouse at the end of the beach. During the dive, Max sees something that leaves him cold – on the old mast floats a tattered flag and on it is the symbol of the circle and six-pointed star. As they learn more about the wreck, the chilling story of a legendary figure called Prince of the Mists begins to emerge."

YA or not, it's CR Zafon it's a must...


The Spirit Lens: A Novel of the Collegia Magica (new series 1) Carol Berg

"In a kingdom on the verge of a grand renaissance, where natural science has supplanted failing sorcery, someone aims to revive a savage rivalry...

For Portier de Savin-Duplais, failed student of magic, sorcery's decline into ambiguity and cheap illusion is but a culmination of life's bitter disappointments. Reduced to tending the library at Sabria's last collegia magica, he fights off despair with scholarship. But when the king of Sabria charges him to investigate an attempted murder that has disturbing magical resonances, Portier believes his dreams of a greater destiny might at last be fulfilled.

As the king's new agente confide, Portier - much to his dismay - is partnered with the popinjay Ilario de Sylvae, the laughingstock of Sabria's court. Then the need to infiltrate a magical cabal leads Portier to Dante, a brooding, brilliant young sorcerer whose heretical ideas and penchant for violence threaten to expose the investigation before it's begun. But in an ever-shifting landscape of murders, betrayals, old secrets, and unholy sorcery, the three agentes will be forced to test the boundaries of magic, nature, and the divine..."

Blurb sounds very interesting; will be my first try at a complete read of a novel by Carol Berg (tried and dropped one of her earlier series and started but put on "hold for later" the Valen one); hard to say, on one hand I am excited by the description above, on the other hand Ms. Berg ' style /story-lines have not been for me so far. A definite try though.


The Sorcerer's House (standalone??) by Gene Wolfe
"The new Gene Wolfe fantasy novel is told entirely in a series of letters. Only Wolfe could have made this so gripping, a surprising page-turner of a book.In a contemporary town in the American midwest where he has no connections, an educated man recently released from prison is staying in a motel. He writes letters to his brother and to others, including a friend still in jail. When he meets a real estate agent who tells him he is the heir to a huge old house, long empty, he moves in, though he is too broke even to buy furniture. He is immediately confronted by supernatural and fantastic creatures and events."

It's Gene Wolfe, it's at least a try; recent novels have not been quite on my taste though I loved some of his new short stories, but the author of the various "Sun" series is in a class of his own so I will try each of his novels asap.

Edit 12/15;
Napoleon Concerto by Mark Mellon
"1806: the world’s two great powers square off in deadly combat. France is militarily undefeatable under the greatest general in history, Napoleon Bonaparte. Britain’s Royal Navy rules the seas. Neither side can come to grips with the other, to engage and defeat a mortal enemy. The English whale confronts the French elephant with no practical way for either one to destroy the other. Or is there?
Wolfe O’Sheridane, a renegade Irish naval officer, thinks there is. In collusion with Robert Fulton, an American inventor in France, he persuades Napoleon to finance a steam-powered ram to attack British ships that harry the French coast. The ram succeeds spectacularly, but enemies circle, plotting O’Sheridane’s destruction. Can he still win through and carry out his plan to destroy the Royal Navy and liberate Ireland? The answer can be found in Napoleon Concerto, a 100,000 word alternative history novel that reads like Patrick O’Brien combined with Jules Verne. Replete with authentic detail, filled with vivid characters (many drawn directly from history), and written with ceaseless pace and energy, the novel will appeal to admirers of Napoleon, science fiction fans, and lovers of plain old adventure alike."

I have just found out about this very exciting upcoming novel from small press Treble House and I have to include it here since I really loved the author's short novel Escape From Byzantium (dual FBC Rv with Mihir) and I plan to read/review this one asap.


Debuts: here I will put the blurb and some quick thoughts about why I want to read the book in question.

Tome of the Undergates by Samuel Sykes
Lenk can barely keep control of his mismatched adventurer band at the best of times (Gariath the dragon man sees humans as little more than prey, Kataria the shict despises most humans and the humans in the band are little better). When they're not insulting each other's religions they're arguing about pay and conditions. So when the ship they are travelling on is attacked by pirates things don't go very well. They go a whole lot worse when an invincible demon joins the fray. The demon steals the Tome of the Undergates - a manuscript that contains all you need to open the undergates. And whichever god you believe in you don't want the undergates open. On the other side are countless more invincible demons, the manifestation of all the evil of the gods, and they want out. Full of razor-sharp wit, characters who leap off the page (and into trouble) and plunging the reader into a vivid world of adventure this is a fantasy that kicks off a series that could dominate the second decade of the century."

This one has the best "vibes" for me of all the fantasy debuts here; I even got the recent Dragon Book anthology edited by J. Dann since it had a story (co) written by Mr. Sykes and I really liked what I read there; this is the "epic" debut with the highest expectations for me.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N K Jemisin

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother's death and her family's bloody history."

Read this, loved it a lot and will contribute to a dual review with Robert (who loved it the most of all recent debuts) for January. Blurb is accurate but far from conveying the richness of the story. A standalone with a great ending too, it will be followed by another novel in the same universe which is excerpted at the end of this one and it's another asap. Ms. Jemisin' style is just superb and she is an author to watch.

Ragnarok by Patrick Vanner
"Captain Alexandra 'Alex' McLaughlin is not a woman to be underestimated. Under her petite exterior is a spine of solid steel and a disposition to laugh in the face of impending death. A former member of the Terran Navy's elite force, the Dead Jokers, electronic-warfare pilots with a mortality rate to match that of old Japan's Kamikazes, Alex is a born survivor. But sometimes survival can be a curse.Humanity is locked in a war of survival with the Xan-Sskarn, an alien race that refuses to acknowledge the rights of 'weaker' creatures to live. It is a war that will not end with a peace treaty, but only the complete subjugation of one species to the other. And right now, the alien side is winning.However, the enemy on the outside is not the only one to be faced. As the battles take on an eerily familiar pattern of no-win scenarios, Alex realized the horrifying truth; humanity has a traitor, and it's somebody close. As each battle brings more death, Alex's ghosts grow and so does her desire for vengeance. There is only one way for this to end, and Alex is just the human to take it there — to Ragnarok."

If you frequent Baen's Bar and/or read the not-to-be-named series by John Ringo, you will understand why this one is *the debut* of recent times in mil-sf; a highly awaited novel for me based on the above and one I hope an e-arc will be available to buy sooner rather than later...


Spellwright by Blake Charlton
Nicodemus is a young, gifted wizard with a problem. Magic in his world requires the caster to create spells by writing out the text . . . but he has always been dyslexic, and thus has trouble casting even the simplest of spells. And his misspells could prove dangerous, even deadly, should he make a mistake in an important incantation.Yet he has always felt that he is destined to be something more than a failed wizard. When a powerful, ancient evil begins a campaign of murder and disruption, Nicodemus starts to have disturbing dreams that lead him to believe that his misspelling could be the result of a curse. But before he can discover the truth about himself, he is attacked by an evil which has already claimed the lives of fellow wizards and has cast suspicion on his mentor. He must flee for his own life if he’s to find the true villain.But more is at stake than his abilities. For the evil that has awakened is a power so dread and vast that if unleashed it will destroy Nicodemus... and the world."

To my surprise I did not like this one; things (naming, style, characters, story) just did not work for me but Robert loved it and I think if you like fantasy for the magical system inside you should check this one out as it has an original system of magic. As I mentioned in other places too I came to fantasy from "cape and sword" novels so magic interests me far less than "storytelling/adventure".

From Robert's review tbp early 2010:

"the book is still one of the most entertaining and satisfying fantasy debuts I have ever read, mainly because of its charming appeal, highly imaginative magic system, and the author’s obvious love for the genre."


The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman
"The Sanctuary of the Redeemers on Shotover Scarp is named after a damned lie for there is little redemption that goes on there and less sanctuary'. The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is a desolate place - a place where hope and joy are not welcome. Most of its occupants have been brought here as young boys, against any will they might have once had. They cower under the terrifying regime of the Lord Redeemers whose cruelty and violence have one singular purpose - to serve the name of the Hanged Redeemer. No one knows their way around all of the Sanctuary, so vast and twisting is its maze of corridors - corridors filled with the stench of centuries old religious fervour. Standing in one of these corridors is a boy, looking out of a dark window, looking out at the latest unfortunate arrivals to this hell. His is perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old - he is not sure and neither is anyone else. He has long-forgotten his real name, but now they call him Cale. He doesn't remember anything of his former life. He doesn't know anything of his future life...Meet the Angel of Death"

This one is another highly awaited book for me based on the above and Robert's review tbp later this week; he was more mixed on it because he felt it has too many things thrown in the pot so to speak. Should get an arc soon and it will be a read on receive.

Shadow's Sun by Jon Sprunk
"In the holy city of Othir, treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, just the place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and few scruples. Caim makes his living on the edge of a blade, but when a routine job goes south, he is thrust into the middle of an insidious plot. Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers, and sorcery from the Other Side, his only allies are Josephine, the socialite daughter of his last victim, and Kit, a guardian spirit no one else can see. But in this fight for his life, Caim only trusts his knives and his instincts, but they won’t be enough when his quest for justice leads him from Othir’s hazardous back alleys to its shining corridors of power. To unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he must claim his birthright as the Shadow’s Son…"

While in the vein of traditional fantasy, as for example in the recent Brent Weeks superb series, the blurb is much more "for me" than the ones with destined-to-save-the-world-heroes or good-for-nothing-younger-sons-that-discover-their-destiny, so I have reasonably high expectations of this one.

Passion Play by
Beth Bernobich
"Here romance and politicial intrigue unfold in a richly-imagined fantasy world. This wonderful novel fills the senses with the gritty taste of ashes and the delicious shiver of silk, while the mysterious scent of magic is everywhere present. Beth Bernobich's debut burns bright with passion. It is destined to be a crowd pleaser."

Do not know more than the quote above but I loved Ms. Bernobich' style in the recent novella
Ars Memoriae (that one started great and the writing kept being excellent but the story broke down in the middle and ended being a sort of a muddle with cataclysmic events rushed in several pages); hopefully having the space of a full novel - actually of a trilogy - will allow the author to develop the story properly and then combined with the excellent style, it should be a cracker; this one has the potential to be a big positive surprise for me


The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
A dazzling hard SF novel set in the solar system of the far future - a heist novel peopled by bizarre post-humans but powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge and jealousy. A stunning debut. In a far future Solar System, Jean le Flambeaur is a posthuman criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy -- from breaking into the vast zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake. Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons -- Dilemma Prison -- against countless copies of himself. Jean's routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Psi -- a barbarian from the icy miniature worlds of Oort, but working for Cybele, the avatar of a Venusian god-mind. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self -- in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed, breaking into the mind of the Maelstrom . . ."

The above blurb is just the perfect hook for me so this one is the biggest sf debuts in a while and has the potential to be a top 5 sf novel for me in 2010. Of course execution matters a lot...


by Gavin Smith
Three hundred years in our future, in a world of alien infiltrators, religious hackers, a vast convoying nation of Nomads, city sized orbital elevators, and a cyborg pirate king who believes himself to be a mythological demon Jakob is having a bad day: "Nothing gets in the way of a hangover like being reactivated by your old C.O and told to track down an alien killing machine. The same kind of killing machine that wiped out my entire squad. And now it's in my hometown. My name is Jakob Douglas, ex-special forces. I fought Them. Just like we've all been doing for 60 bloody years. But I thought my part in that was done with. My boss has other ideas. If I didn't find the infiltrator then he'd let the Grey Lady loose on me. And believe me; even They've got nothing on her. So I took the job. It went to shit even faster than normal. And now I'm on the run with this teenage hacker who's had enough of prostitution. The only people I can rely on want to turn the internet into God. And now it turns out that They aren't quite what we'd all thought. I've been to the bottom of the sea and the top of the sky and beyond trying to get to the truth. And I still can't get far enough away from the Grey Lady. All things considered I'd rather be back at home deep in a whiskey bottle." Veteran is a fast paced, intricately plotted violent SF Thriller set in a dark future against the backdrop of a seemingly never ending war against an unknowable and implacable alien enemy."

A very interesting blurb, but here I need also compelling style/character to go with; another read on receive novel.


Servants of the Underworld - Aliette de Bodard
Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan the capital of the Aztecs. The end of the world is kept at bay only by the magic of human sacrifice. A Priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. Acatl, High Priest, must find her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead. Aliette De Bodard is the hottest rising star in world SF and Fantasy, blending ancient crimes with wild imagination."

I have an arc of this one and it starts well and I plan to read it and review it soon. Based on I what browsed so far I expect to like it a lot.
Edit 12/16 - from my Goodreads mini-rv; full rv here soon
"I finished Servant of the Underworld the highly awaited novel debut of A. De Bodard and it's taking place in an Aztec state at some point in history - the afterword or more detailed knowledge of Aztec history indicates the date - there is magic of many kinds, intrigue, priests, warriors, "femme fatales" and a mystery of sorts through which we explore this wonderful universe.
A first person narration by a semi-disillusioned "priest of the dead" and servant of the "duality" - which essentially means an investigator that deals in the magic of the underworld, so acts as coroner at deaths, as priest at cremations and investigates occurrences of dark magic
There are four major ingredients in this book: the world-building, the mystery, the magic and the style/narrator. The world-building is exquisite and we *believe* we are transported to the 15th century Tenotichtlan and together with the superb voice they formed the main reason I enjoyed this book so much

The Bookman
- Lavie Tidhar
A masked terrorist has brought London to its knees - there are bombs inside books, and nobody knows which ones. On the day of the launch of the first expedition to Mars, by giant cannon, he outdoes himself with an audacious attack. For young poet Orphan, trapped in the screaming audience, it seems his destiny is entwined with that of the shadowy terrorist, but how? Like a steam-powered take on V for Vendetta, rich with satire and slashed through with automatons, giant lizards, pirates, airships and wild adventure, The Bookman is the first of a series."

I read this one and the review will be posted this week or early next week; excellent debut, but the blurb is quite misleading since the novel is a steampunk adventure/coming of age story in an alt-hist universe in which Jules Verne is author/adventurer, James Moriarty (that one) is Prime Minister at the court of the Calibanic Lizard Kings and Queens (it's still Queen Victoria though she is a "lizard") and Mycroft Holmes heads a secret branch of HMS, while Sherlock Holmes has been found in a coma after a fall in Switzerland in connection to the PM... "Captain Nemo" and Robur appear too as do Karl Marx, Lord Byron as a recreated automaton and many more cameos... Just superb steampunk debut.

The Conqueror’s Shadow by Ari Marmell
"With The Conqueror’s Shadow, Ari Marmell brings a welcome seasoning of wit to the genre, proving that dark fantasy can address the enduring questions of good and evil and still retain a sense of humor. Playful yet intense, sharply sarcastic yet deeply sincere, The Conqueror’s Shadow announces the appearance of a unique talent—and an antihero like no other. They called him the Terror of the East. His past shrouded in mystery, his identity hidden beneath a suit of enchanted black armor and a skull-like helm, Corvis Rebaine carved a bloody path through Imphallion, aided by Davro, a savage ogre, and Seilloah, a witch with a taste for human flesh. No shield or weapon could stop his demon-forged axe. And no magic could match the spells of his demon slave, Khanda."

A fast and fun traditional fantasy based on Robert's opinion; I have high hopes for an entertaining read and should contribute to a dual review in 2010.

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis
It's 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly ordinary man is caught in the middle."

This can be very interesting or very boring if it goes the Stross route; hope for something where I can suspend disbelief which I just could not do in The Atrocity Archives.

The River Kings' Road by Liane Merciel "When a gruesome massacre wipes out the border village of Willowfield, including a visiting lord and his family, the fragile peace between the rival kingdoms of Oakharn and Langmyr is immediately threatened.

But the dead lord’s infant heir has survived the carnage—a discovery that entwines the destinies of Brys Tarnell, a mercenary who rescues the helpless and ailing babe"

Another traditional fantasy that seems to be a fun and fast read based on Robert's review (tbp 2010) and to which I may also contribute, so I have high hopes for it too.


The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer "Imprisoned for life aboard a zeppelin that floats high above a fantastic metropolis, the greeting-card writer Harold Winslow pens his memoirs. His only companions are the disembodied voice of Miranda Taligent, the only woman he has ever loved, and the cryogenically frozen body of her father Prospero, the genius and industrial magnate who drove her insane."

This sounds like a perfect novel for me; steampunk and inventiveness. A very high expectation novel.

The Steel Queen by Karen Azinger
"Azinger's series is fast-paced action-packed fantasy. Kingdoms and characters come alive as they are woven together through twisting plots, surprising and delighting the reader with each chapter. In a world of forgotten magic, the kingdoms of Erdhe are nothing more than a chessboard for the gods. The players are being positioned for an epic struggle where lives, loves and crowns hang in the balance, yet few mortals understand the rules. In this game of power, pawns of light and darkness will make the difference in the battle for the future of the world: / Katherine, 'The Imp': a young princess with the stout heart of a warrior will challenge the minions of a thousand-year-old evil. / Liandra: The Spider Queen; who uses her beauty to beguile, her spies to foresee, and her gold to control, will need all of her skill and strength to fight a rebellion with her own blood at it's heart. / Magda, a silver-haired grandmother who has been stripped of all she holds dear will be underestimated in the fight against a false religion. / Cereus, an oracle priestess, will ply her powers of dark magic and seduction in her quest for immortality. / Steffan, the puppeteer, will corrupt the innocent and unwary with greed and desire, as he sets fire to an entire kingdom."

Hard to say about this one; I could like it, could be a big "meh" based on the above; worth a try for sure.


The Last Page by Anthony Huso
"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."

Same as the above but I like much more queens-princesses as heroines than kings-princes as heroes so this one has a higher bar for my enjoyment; will give it a try too.

Farlander by Colin Buchanan
"The Heart of the World is a land in strife. For fifty years the Holy Empire of Mann, an empire and religion born from a nihilistic urban cult, has been conquering nation after nation. Their leader, Holy Matriarch Sasheen, ruthlessly maintains control through her Diplomats, priests trained as subtle predators. The Mercian Free Ports are the only confederacy yet to fall. Their only land link to the southern continent, a long and narrow isthmus, is protected by the city of Bar-Khos. For ten years now, the great southern walls of Bar-Khos have been besieged by the Imperial Fourth Army. Ash is a member of an elite group of assassins, the Rōshun - who offer protection through the threat of vendetta. Forced by his ailing health to take on an apprentice, he chooses Nico, a young man living in the besieged city of Bar-Khos. At the time, Nico is hungry, desperate, and alone in a city that finds itself teetering on the brink."

This one is another that sounds like Brent Weeks or the above Jon Sprunk debut so it's more likely to be on my taste than the straight-up fantasies above.


Black Hills - Dan Simmons
"When Paha Sapa, a young Sioux warrior, "counts coup" on General George Armstrong Custer as Custer lies dying on the battlefield at the Little Bighorn, the legendary general's ghost enters him - and his voice will speak to him for the rest of his event-filled life. Seamlessly weaving together the stories of Paha Sapa, Custer, and the American West, Dan Simmons depicts a tumultuous time in the history of both Native and white Americans. Haunted by Custer's ghost, and also by his ability to see into the memories and futures of legendary men like Sioux war-chief Crazy Horse, Paha Sapa's long life is driven by a dramatic vision he experienced as a boy in his people's sacred Black Hills. In August of 1936, a dynamite worker on the massive Mount Rushmore project, Paha Sapa plans to silence his ghost forever and reclaim his people's legacy-on the very day FDR comes to Mount Rushmore to dedicate the Jefferson face. "

It's Dan Simmons as big time mainstream writer, it's a must...


Tyrant 3: Funeral Games - Christian Cameron

I loved Tyrant 1 and 2 which form a complete series that I plan to review maybe in conjunction with this one; starting some 10-15 years later this is the first in a planned trilogy following the "new generation". Greeks, Scyths, war to the knife in Europe and Asia, on the steppes and in the Greek colonies on the Euxine. The hero of Tyrant 1/2, an Athenian cavalry officer in Alexander's army, dismissed once Alexander attained his goals and needed reliable "yes-men" dared to confront his former commander; now his twins will deal with the Successors...

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..."

Epic/sfnal David Mitchell and it's a must; with a masterpiece in Cloud Atlas (a top mainstream novel of 00's of mine) and a very good Ghostwritten any new Mitchell of interest is an asap...


Raven 2: Sons of Thunder -
Giles Kristian

I loved Raven 1 (FBC Rv) so this one is another one I plan to read on receive since I really liked the main character and the first person narration is an added bonus. Many recent Vikings books around including a good but not great non fiction one last month (Ferguson) , but until this series, none has excited me since the superb Byzantium by M. Ennis.

Spies of the Balkans - Alan Furst

Alan Furst is another asap author like Steven Saylor below, so even though I have no clue what this one is about except that it is part of his loose 30's-40's historical thrillers series, Spies of the Balkans is read on receive. Dark Star is still his best (imho) and a masterpiece of the genre, but pretty much any Alan Furst is excellent.

maybes - here check our Review Index for many reviews for works by the authors below

Roma 2 - Steven Saylor - no recent updates, hope it's still 2010
Berlin Station 4 - David Downing (not confirmed but highly likely)
Vortex - RC Wilson - seems not done yet so most likely 2011
White Luck Warrior - Scott Bakker
-seems to be 2011 now
A Dance with Dragons - GRRM
- who knows but since it's been announced yearly, we gotta continue the ritual
Wise Man's Fear - Patrick Rothfuss -
who knows but since it's been announced yearly, we gotta continue the ritual
Robert Redick The River of Shadows (this would move into top 10 if..)
new IM Banks
(this would move into top 10 if..)
new Reynolds beside Terminal World
(this could move into top 10 if..)
Corvus ( starting title) by Paul Kearney (this could move into top 10 if..)
Death's Head 4 - David Gunn (highly likely but not confirmed)
new Thomas Harlan -
unlikely but one can hope
El Tercer Reich - Roberto Bolaño - no idea, just vague rumors
Tax from Heaven - Daniel Rabuzzi - unlikely since last I heard the author was still working on it
new Andreea Cort - Adam Troy-Castro - finished but not yet scheduled
Times of Contempt - Andrzej
Sapkovski maybe 2011
Magister 3 -
CS Friedman 2011 - most likely
Midsummer's Night (sequel to Elfland) by Freda Warrington - possible


Buy a Degree said...

Nice Posting....

Dr. Elitist said...

Holy crap you know your stuff. I love this time of year, where all the possibilities for the next one are full, and I get to dream of how awesome some are gonna be. Thanks a lot for posting this, really well done.

Liviu said...

Thank you for your kind words

Ian said...

Hello! I just wanted to thank you (very much) for your interest in Bitter Seeds.

Whether or not you'll enjoy it, I can't say :-) But I can tell you that it's very, very different from Stross's Laundry novels.
(That's not a judgment about quality, just a statement about style and tone and subject matter.)

Happy Holidays!

Liviu said...

I definitely plan to check Bitter Seeds out - your website is eye-catching and I will follow any updates

Thank you for stopping by.


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