Gardner Dozois (Ed.): The Book of Swords
Published by Harper Voyager 19th October 2017
An epic collection of fantasy tales in the grand tradition, including a
never-before-published A Song of Ice and Fire story by George R.R. Martin and an
introduction by Gardner Dozois. Fantasy fiction has produced some of the most unforgettable heroes ever
conjured onto the page: Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, Michael
Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné, Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.
Classic characters like these made sword and sorcery a cornerstone of fantasy
fiction, and an inspiration for a new generation of writers, spinning their own
tales of magical adventure. Now, in The Book of Swords, acclaimed editor and bestselling author Gardner
Dozois presents an anthology of sixteen original epic stories by a stellar cast
of modern masters, including George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb, Garth Nix, Ken Liu,
Daniel Abraham, Scott Lynch, Cecelia Holland, Ellen Kushner, and more on
journeys into the outer realms of dark enchantment and intrepid adventure,
featuring a stunning assortment of fearless swordsmen and warrior women who face
down danger and death at every turn with courage, cunning, and cold steel.
Gardner's introduction to this superb anthology is simply breathtaking - as he reminisces about discovering the genre of sword and sorcery and how it waxed and waned over the years. The stories are quite spectacularly good - I particularly liked Robin Hobb and Cecelia Holland, but the common theme that binds the stories together is now a timeless one. The book itself is exquisitely handsome...
Phil Szostak: The Art of Star Wars The Last Jedi
Published by Abrams 5th December 2017
Star Wars: The Force Awakens shattered box-office records as one of the highest-grossing films of all time, and its eagerly awaited sequel, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is sure to do the same. Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, The Brothers Bloom, Brick) and production designed by Rick Heinrichs (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Captain America: The First Avenger), this chapter, like every chapter before it, owes its visual language and fully imagined cinematic landscape to an incomparable art department: the Lucasfilm visualists. The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi explores their vision and illuminates their creative process in stunning detail. Featuring concept art and costume sketches, storyboards, and blueprints, fans will take a deep dive into the development of the fantastic worlds, characters, and creatures both old and new of The Last Jedi. Featuring unforgettable art and exclusive interviews with the filmmakers, this visual archive highlights moviemaking magic at its finest.
The image on the front cover of this amazing book is not one I would have chosen personally for the front cover - I think there are better and more spectacular pictures inside - and that's the point of this book, it shows just how much work goes into the preparations for a major film such as The Last Jedi. The Hobbit trilogy has six books devoted to those production preparations, and I raved about them when they were first published and continue to do so. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the most eagerly awaited film of the year and it is already breaking records at the box office (as always I shall wait for the Blu Ray in a few months' time), and this superlative memoir of the film is the perfect keepsake for fans of science fiction and Star Wars alike. A whole host of brilliant artists contributed their artwork to the book, and the full page illustrations are indicative of the love these artists feel for their subject, and their dedication to getting things right for the directors and producers. This is science fiction at its very, very finest, and the book is nothing short of wonderful.
Saladin Ahmed et al: Star Wars - Canto Bight
Published by Century 5th December 2017
Soon to be seen in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, welcome to the casino city of Canto Bight. A place where exotic aliens, captivating creatures, and other would-be high rollers are willing to risk everything to make their fortunes. Set across one fateful evening, these four original novellas explore the deception and danger of the lavish casino city. An honest salesman meets a career criminal as a dream vacation turns into the worst nightmare imaginable in a story by Saladin Ahmed. Dreams and schemes collide when a deal over a priceless bottle of wine becomes a struggle for survival as told by Mira Grant. Old habits die hard when a servant is forced into the mad struggle for power among Canto Bight’s elite in a tale by Rae Carson. A deadbeat gambler has one last chance to turn his luck around, all he has to do is survive one wild night as told by John Jackson Miller. In Canto Bight, one is free to revel in excess, untouched from the problems of a galaxy once again descending into chaos and war. Dreams can become reality, but the stakes have never been higher―for there is a darkness obscured by all the glamour and luxury.
What better way to celebrate watching the next instalment in the Star Wars saga than to settle down with a collection of brilliant short stories about the casino city of Canto Bight which features in the film? There are stories by Star Wars veteran authors and by newcomers, and they are all superb and capture the essence of the Star Wars universe.
Daniel A Cohen: Coldmaker
Published by Harper Voyager 2nd November 2017
During the day, as the Sun blazes over his head, Micah leads the life of any Jadan slave, running errands through the city of Paphos at the mercy of the petty Nobles and ruthless taskmasters. But after the evening bells have tolled and all other Jadans sleep, Micah escapes into the night in search of scraps and broken objects, which once back inside his barracks he tinkers into treasures. However, when a mysterious masked Jadan publicly threatens Noble authority, a wave of rebellion ripples through the city. With Paphos plunged into turmoil, Micah’s secret is at risk of being exposed. And another, which has been waiting hundreds of years to be found, is also on the verge of discovery… The secret of Cold.
This may well turn out to be what the world we live in is waiting for, someone with the ability to control the temperature and alleviate the effects of global warming... A super piece of fantasy/SF that will get you thinking...
Mark Lawrence: Road Brothers
Published by Harper Voyager 2nd November 2017
A volume of short stories by the bestselling author of THE BROKEN EMPIRE series, Mark Lawrence. This is a collection of fourteen stories of murder, mayhem, pathos, and philosophy, all set in the world of the Broken Empire. Within these pages, you will find tales of men such as Red Kent, Sir Makin, Rike, Burlow and the Nuban, telling of their origins and the events that forged them. There is Jorg himself, striding the page as a child of six, as a teenage wanderer and as a young king. And then there is a tale about Prince Jalan Kendeth – liar, cheat, womaniser and coward. To the new reader, welcome to a lawless world where wit and sword are the most useful weapons, and danger lurks as much in candle-lit palaces as in dark alleys and dense woodland. To those who have already journeyed with Jorg, we hope you will enjoy renewing old acquaintances with your favourite characters.
Shades of Robert E Howard - short stories in the fantasy genre are now few and far between, and this anthology from Mark Lawrence is most welcome.
The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its twentieth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.