March release and missed titles

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

March is just over the week-end so I though it was the right time to post my spotlight for next month. Here are the release of note I wanted to mention. Most of them will probably find their way into my library soon (and from what I gathered so far with my last post, my book backlog is not monstrously abusive). Two of them are debut and the others are from big names. I also added to the list the books I forgot to talk about since the start of the year.


Col Buchanan
March 5

Farlander received generally good reviews so far. Should be a contender for best new debut in fantasy this year. It's about an ex assassin and his new pupil, but there's more to it as you can read in the blurb :

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 R shun - 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. When the Holy Matriarch's son deliberately murders a woman under the protection of the R shun; he forces the sect to seek his life in retribution. As Ash and his young apprentice set out to fulfil the R shun orders - their journey takes them into the heart of the conflict between the Empire and the Free Ports ...into bloodshed and death.


Blake Charlton
March 2

Hyped? Yes this title is... but here again, a debut with good reviews so far from the early readers. I think this is my most expected read of the first few months of 2010. A unique magic system in a kind of old school fantasy from what I read. Here's the synopsis :

Nicodemus Weal is a cacographer, unable to reproduce even simple magical texts without 'misspelling' -- a mistake which can have deadly consequences. He was supposed to be the Halcyon, a magic-user of unsurpassed power, destined to save the world; instead he is restricted to menial tasks, and mocked for his failure to live up to the prophecy. But not everyone interprets prophecy in the same way. There are some factions who believe a cacographer such as Nicodemus could hold great power -- power that might be used as easily for evil as for good. And when two of the wizards closest to Nicodemus are found dead, it becomes clear that some of those factions will stop at nothing to find the apprentice and bend him to their will!


Tad Williams
March 2

Next on the list is Tad Williams with his follow-up to Shadowplay (2007). This is the first part of the last book of the series that started with Shadowmarch in 2004 (the book that started as an internet project). I have only read his first novel, The Dragonbone Chair, but I intend to pick up more of his work in the future. Here's what this one is about :

As shadows threaten to consume the kingdom of Southmarch, Barrick Eddon, heir to March throne, battles his way across the sinister Shadowlands. He must journey through this dangerous, inhuman realm to fulfil a pact ? as this may be all that can prevent the atrocities of a full-scale war with the Twilight people of Qul-na-Qar. Princess Briony, Barrick's twin sister, finds herself in no less danger at the court of Tessis in Syan. When those close to her fall dead from poisoning, she is to learn the true extent of the betrayal surrounding her. Her only option is to flee, as all those in Tessis turn against her ? all, that is, except for one important ally. Meanwhile, the assault upon Southmarch has truly begun. Yasammez, the formidable head of the Qar army, has ordered the attack, believing that the pact between humans and Qar has been broken. Unless Ferras Vansen, Captain of the Southmarch Royal Guard, can convince her otherwise, the humans are sure to meet the dark end that has been promised to them ...


Dragon Haven
Robin Hobb
March 11

I'm certainly not going to read this soon but it still worth mentioning. This is the second book of the Rain Wilds Chronicles (The Dragon Keeper was released last year). It takes place after the Liveship Traders trilogy. Here again, I'm not up to date, I have the first trilogy from Hobb and I have Ship of Magic in by bookcase but someday.... For now :

The dragon keepers and the fledgling dragons are forging a passage up the treacherous Rain Wild River. They are in search of the mythical Elderling city of Kelsingra, and are accompanied by the liveship Tarman, its captain, Leftrin, and a group of hunters who must search the forests for game with which to keep the dragons fed. With them are Alise, who has escaped her cold marriage to the cruel libertine Hest Finbok in order to continue her study of dragons, and Hest's amanuensis, Bingtown dandy, Sedric. Rivalries and romances are already threatening to disrupt the band of explorers: but external forces may prove to be even more dangerous. Chalcedean merchants are keen to lay hands on dragon blood and organs to turn them to medicines and profit. Their traitor has infiltrated the expeditionand will stop at nothing to obtain the coveted body parts. And then there are the Rain Wilds themselves: mysterious, unstable and ever perilous, its mighty river running with acid, its jungle impenetrable and its waterways uncharted. Will the expedition reach their destination unscathed? Does the city of Kelsingra even exist? Only one thing is certain: the journey will leave none of the dragons nor their human companions unchanged by the experience.


The Many Deaths of the Black Company
Glen Cook
January 10

This is the last omnibus of the Black Company series by Glen Cook. This edition contains Water Sleeps and Soldier Live.

"Let me tell you who I am, on the chance that these scribblings do survive. . . . "I am Murgen, Standardbearer of the Black Company, though I bear the shame of having lost that standard in battle. I am keeping these Annals because Croaker is dead, One–Eye won’t, and hardly anyone else can read or write. I will be your guide for however long it takes the Shadowlanders to force our present predicament to its inevitable end...."


The Conqueror's Shadow
Ari Marmell
February 23

A book about the life of a world conqueror after his victory? Sounds promising a lot. Ari Marmell wrote books in the D&D and Magic: The Gathering universe and this is his first non tie-in / shared-world novel. With a premise like this, I can only point out to the blurb :

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.

Yet just when ultimate victory was in his grasp, Rebaine faltered. His plans of conquest, born from a desire to see Imphallion governed with firmness and honesty, shattered. Amid the chaos of a collapsing army, Rebaine vanished, taking only a single hostage—the young noblewoman Tyannon—to guarantee his escape.

Seventeen years later, Rebaine and Tyannon are married, living in obscurity and raising their children, a daughter and a son. Rebaine has put his past behind him, given up his dreams of conquest. Not even news of Audriss—an upstart warlord following Rebaine’s old path of conquest—can stir the retired warrior to action.

Until his daughter is assaulted by Audriss’s goons.

Now, to rescue the country he once tried to conquer, Rebaine once more dons the armor of the Terror of the East and seeks out his former allies. But Davro has become a peaceful farmer. Seilloah has no wish to leave her haunted forest home. And Khanda . . . well, to describe his feelings for his former master as undying hatred would be an understatement.

But even if Rebaine can convince his onetime comrades to join him, he faces a greater challenge: Does he dare to reawaken the part of him that gloried in cruelty, blood, and destruction? With the safety of his family at stake, can he dare not to?


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