books monthly march 2017

This month's pick of the new Science Fiction and Fantasy titles...

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Peter Newman: The Malice

Published by Harper Voyager 9th March 2017

Following Peter Newman’s brilliant debut, THE VAGRANT. This is the much-anticipated sequel, THE MALICE. In the south, the Breach stirs. Gamma’s sword, the Malice, wakes, calling to be taken to battle once more. But the Vagrant has found a home now, made a life and so he turns his back, ignoring its call. The sword cries out, frustrated, until another answers. Her name is Vesper.


The brilliant cover illustration ranks alongside fantastic cover art by such luminaries as Boris and Frazetta - this is a series that will take over as one the genre's best-loved - I can't find anything negative to say about it! Powerful characters, well-honed plot... brilliant!



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Chuck Wendig: Star Wars Aftermath - Empire's End

Published by Century 23rd February 2017

Following Star Wars: Aftermath and Star Wars: Life Debt, Chuck Wendig delivers the exhilarating conclusion to the bestselling trilogy set in the years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

As the final showdown between the New Republic and the Empire draws near, all eyes turn to a once-isolated planet: Jakku.

The Battle of Endor shattered the Empire, scattering its remaining forces across the galaxy. But the months following the Rebellion’s victory have not been easy. The fledgling New Republic has suffered a devastating attack from the Imperial remnant, forcing the new democracy to escalate their hunt for the hidden enemy.

For her role in the deadly ambush, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane is the most wanted Imperial war criminal―and one-time rebel pilot Norra Wexley, back in service at Leia’s urgent request, is leading the hunt. But more than just loyalty to the New Republic drives Norra forward: her husband was turned into a murderous pawn in Sloane’s assassination plot, and now she wants vengeance as much as justice.

But Sloane, too, is on a furious quest: pursuing the treacherous Gallius Rax to the barren planet Jakku. As the true mastermind behind the Empire’s devastating attack, Rax has led the Empire to its defining moment. The cunning strategist has gathered the powerful remnants of the Empire’s war machine, preparing to execute the late Emperor Palpatine’s final plan. As the Imperial fleet orbits Jakku, an armada of Republic fighters closes in to finish what began at Endor. Norra and her crew soar into the heart of an apocalyptic clash that will leave land and sky alike scorched. And the future of the galaxy will finally be decided.


There are so many brilliant Star Wars things going on it's sometimes easy to forget that there are probably now more Star Wars books than there are Star Trek ones. Star Wars is very much like Isaac Asimov's Foundation series - you have to accept that somewhere in the universe there is a galaxy in which travel between solar systems and inhabited planets exists and is commonplace. With Star Trek, there are certain similarities but the main premise is one of discovery, whereas with Star Wars this particular galaxy is established and people travel between the worlds all the time. In Aftermath: Empire's End, Chuck Wendig, who has already written some of the very best Star Wars novels, bridges the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and the result is breathtaking! Pure adrenalin-drive excitement on a massive scale - it's a brilliant novel, capturing the very best essences of science fiction. Superb!


Tom Isbell: The Release

Published by Harper Voyager 23rd February 2017

The Release is the thrilling YA conclusion to Tom Isbell’s suspenseful post-apocalyptic Prey series. Perfect for fans of the MAZE RUNNER! Two months have passed since Book, Cat, Hope, and the two others rescued the remaining Less Thans, but no one is safe yet. The group must leave Liberty for good and escape the wolves, the Brown Shirts and the Hunters. Most important, they need to stop Chancellor Maddox before she executes her Final Solution and grows even more powerful. But for Hope, the battle has become personal; she must seek her revenge, no matter what the cost. The PREY trilogy comes to a thrilling conclusion in THE RELEASE, as the group must risk everything – including their lives – in order to defeat their enemies.


You should make the effort to read the previous novels in the Prey series before tackling The Release - it will make far more sense... I get the impression it's really aimed at young adults, and will appeal to fans of the Hunger Games etc.

Octavia E Butler: Kindred (Graphic Novel)

Published by Abrams 10th January 2017

On her 26th birthday, Dana and her husband are moving into their apartment when she starts to feel dizzy. She falls to her knees, nauseous. Then the world falls away. She finds herself at the edge of a green wood by a vast river. A child is screaming. Wading into the water, she pulls him to safety, only to find herself face to face with a very old looking rifle, in the hands of the boy's father. She's terrified. The next thing she knows she's back in her apartment, soaking wet. It's the most terrifying experience of her life ...until it happens again. The longer Dana spends in 19th century Maryland - a very dangerous place for a black woman - the more aware she is that her life might be over before it's even begun.


I'm a huge fan of graphic novels, as you know, as long as they're done well, and the artwork in this adaptation of Olivia Butler's seminal and classic work is exceptionally good quality, and captures the work perfectly in graphic form.

Alec Birri: Condition

Published by Matador 28th January 2017

The first in a dystopian trilogy based on the author s command of a top secret government unit. If Orwell's 1984 was a warning, we're not listening. What if all brain disorders were treatable? Few would lament the passing of dementia or autism, but what if the twisted mind of a sex-offender or murderer could be cured too? Or how about a terrorist or maybe a political extremist? What if we could all be corrected ? It s 1966 and RAF pilot Dan Stewart awakes from a coma following an aircraft accident into a world where nothing seems to make sense anymore. Not being able to recall the crash might be expected, but what about the rest of his life? And what s stopping him from taking his medication? Is it brain damage that s causing paranoia about the red pill or is he right to think there s something more sinister going on? His horrific injuries don t make any sense either a post-crash fire caused him to suffer almost 100% burns. How is it even possible to survive that? Are the hallucinations and strange dreams trying to tell him something? They are, and he ll soon find out what, but not before his doctor s sure the shock won t kill him. But then the CONDITION trilogy will shock the reader with just how easily we will all come to accept the unacceptable.


Phil Tomlinson: Thirty Fifteen

Published by Matador 28th January 2017

Thirty Fifteen follows on from The Soul Snatcher and Monkey Puzzler (Matador, 2012 and 2014) to complete Phil Tomlinson's gripping 'Soul Snatcher' trilogy. In Thirty Fifteen, Zoe Marshall finds herself one thousand years into the future. She is still on Earth, but it is not a place she recognises or enjoys. Wild animals roam freely and tribes of human beings live in primitive settlements in a rapidly shrinking land. Other humans occupy man-made planets that dominate the skyline, sending regular armed patrols to attack and capture the land dwellers. Danger lurks everywhere and more than once Zoe faces death from animals, humans and sky dwellers as she tries to find a way to get back to her own time. The one person who might help Zoe achieve her goal, the alien Kazzaar, has gone missing, so Zoe battles on alone fighting not only the physical dangers but the demons and terrors of her nightly dreams. Thirty Fifteen bristles with action, suspense and emotion as Zoe makes her way through this unfriendly and unforgiving world, risking her life time and again in her efforts to get home to her family. But will she find a way to return safely, or is she trapped in this hostile land forever? Bringing the 'Soul Snatcher' trilogy to an unexpected and nail-biting conclusion, Thirty Fifteen will appeal to new and established fans of the series, as well as those aged 10+ looking for a tale full of unexpected twists.


Hedley Harrison: Sorak's Redemption

Published by The Book Guild 28th January 2017

On a far-away planet, women rule the world. Men are for subservice and breeding. Social status is determined by skin colour. Ruled by a senate of black women, there is little place in the elite for the fair haired and pale-skinned. The planet has evolved into a city state in an apparently unoccupied wilderness.
However, below the surface of this carefully managed society, dissatisfaction is beginning to form. Sorak, a female blue-eyed and pale-skinned military officer, wants something more.
In a world where any signs of rebellion are brutally suppressed and a love interest that is regarded as unlawful, will Sorak ever find the haven she craves for?





The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth 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.