Only two picks that I would spotlight for the last month of 2011. This has been a great year so far and I'm eager to make a retrospective. Maybe The Emperor's Knife can be a contender for debut of the year. As for Sullivan, I have already read his first self-published novel but since I got the Theft of Swords omnibus waiting, I think I'll start it over again.
The Emperor'ss Knife
There is a cancer at the heart of the mighty Cerani Empire: a plague that attacks young and old, rich and poor alike. Geometric patterns spread across the skin, until you die in agony, or become a Carrier, doing the bidding of an evil intelligence, the Pattern Master. Anyone showing the tell-tale marks is put to death; that is Emperor Beyon's law...but now the pattern is running over his arms. His body servants have been executed, he ignores his wives, but he is doomed, for soon the pattern will reach his face. While Beyon's agents scour the land for a cure, Sarmin, the Emperor's only surviving brother, awaits his bride, Mesema, a windreader from the northern plains. Unused to the Imperial Court's stifling protocols and deadly intrigues, Mesema has no one to turn to but an ageing imperial assassin, the Emperor's Knife. When Beyon's patterns are revealed and the Grand Vizier seizes the throne, the Knife spirits her to safety. As long-planned conspiracies boil over into open violence, the invincible Pattern Master appears from the deep desert. Now only three people stand in his way: a lost prince, a world-weary killer, and a young girl from the steppes who saw a path in a pattern once, among the waving grasses - a path that just might save them all.
Rise of Empire
(omnibus for Nyphron Rising & The Emerald Storm)
Michael J. Sullivan
A PUPPET IS CROWNED. THE TRUE HEIR REMAINS HIDDEN. A ROGUE'S SECRET COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING.
War has come to Melengar and once more Royce and Hadrian are hired to make a desperate gamble and form an alliance with the Nationalists whom are fighting the Imperialists in the south. As the power of the Nyphron Empire grows, so does Royce's suspicion that the wizard Esrahaddon is using the thieves as pawns in his own grab for power. To find the truth, he must unravel the secret of Hadrian's past--what he discovers may end their friendship and break Riyria in two.