books monthly september 2017 sf & fantasy

This month's latest SF & Fantasy titles...

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Jay Kristoff: Godsgrave

Published by Harper Voyager 7th September 2017

Conquer your fear, conquer the world. Mia Corvere, destroyer of empires, has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry do not believe she has earned it. Her position is precarious, and she's still no closer to exacting revenge for the brutal death of her family. But after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself. When it is announced that Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself into slavery for a chance to fulfill the promise she made on the day she lost everything. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold, secrets are revealed and the body count rises within the collegium walls, Mia will be forced to choose between her loyalties and her revenge.

 

Superlative fantasy writing from Jay Kristoff - the beauty of this book is that only subtle hints here and there confirm that it's not set on Earth, or at least a world with which we are familiar. This author is a fantasy genius...

 

 

 

Christie Golden: Star Wars Battlefront II - Inferno Squad

Published by Century 27th July 2017

Set in the aftermath of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, this action-packed prequel to the hotly anticipated videogame Battlefront II introduces the Empire’s elite force: Inferno Squad.

After the humiliating theft of the Death Star plans and the destruction of the battle station, the Empire is on the defensive. But not for long. In retaliation, the elite Imperial soldiers of Inferno Squad have been called in for the crucial mission of infiltrating and eliminating the Partisans―the rebel faction once led by notorious Republic freedom fighter Saw Gerrera.

Following the death of their leader, the Partisans have carried on his extremist legacy, determined to thwart the Empire―no matter the cost. Now Inferno Squad must prove its status as the best of the best and take down the Partisans from within. But the growing threat of being discovered in their enemy’s midst turns an already dangerous operation into a do-or-die acid test they dare not fail. To protect and preserve the Empire, to what lengths will Inferno Squad go . . . and how far beyond them?

The Rebellion may have heroes like Jyn Erso and Luke Skywalker. But the Empire has Inferno Squad.

 

This excellent standalone Star Wars Adventure has all the right elements to make it a blockbuster - absolutely brilliant!

 

 

Sabaa Tahir: A Torch Against The Night

Published by Harper Voyager 27th August 2017

The sequel to the explosive New York Times bestselling debut AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, that’s captivated readers worldwide. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt Elias and Laia as they flee the city of Serra. Laia and Elias are determined to break into the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison to save Laia’s brother, even if for Elias it means giving up his last chance at freedom. They will have to fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene―Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike. Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own―one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape . . . and kill them both. In 2015, one book emerged as the most highly acclaimed fantasy debut. Now, the sequel will set the world on fire.

 

Top notch fantasy from Sabaa Tahir - I didn't get to review An Ember In The Ashes, more's the pity, but you can pick up some of what occurred in the first book as you go along.

George R R Martin: The Mystery Knight

Published by Harper Voyager 24th August 2017

A full-color graphic novel edition of The Mystery Knight, one of the thrilling Dunk and Egg novellas from George R. R. Martin's A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and a prequel of sorts to A Game of Thrones. "Every wedding needs a singer, and every tourney needs a mystery knight." Westeros is eerily peaceful. King Aerys I sits on the Iron Throne. A ravaging plague has abated. Yet beneath the surface, tensions linger sixteen years after a failed rebellion. In these restless times, noble hedge knight Ser Duncan the Tall – Dunk, to his friends – and his precocious boy squire, Egg, travel the Seven Kingdoms performing chivalrous deeds, though Egg's bloodline must be concealed at all costs. After heading north for Winterfell, Dunk and Egg are lured off the kingsroad by a wedding feast–and an unusually lucrative tournament. The champion jouster will claim a rare trophy indeed: a dragon's egg. Dunk, always better in a melee, would be satisfied with a hot meal, a cup of wine, and a purse full of coins. But a treasonous plot is more likely to hatch before another dragon ever stretches its wings. Someone's on to Egg. And a mystery knight with designs on an even bigger prize soon throws the entire affair into chaos.

 

This is only the second graphic novelisation of some of Game of Thrones I've seen, but there may be more. The artwork is sensationally good, and the words are expertly crafted to suit the illustrations. First rate entertainment.

H G Wells: The War Of The Worlds

Published by Oxford World's Classics 24th August 2017

'Cities, nations, civilization, progress-it's all over. That game's up. We're beat.'

One of the most important and influential invasion narratives ever written, The War of the Worlds (1897) describes the coming of the Martians, who land in Woking, and make their way remorselessly towards the capital, wreaking chaos, death, and destruction. The novel is closely associated with anxiety about a possible invasion of Great Britain at the turn of the century, and concerns about imperial expansion and its impact, and it drew on the latest astronomical knowledge to imagine a desert planet, Mars, turning to Earth for its future. The Martians are also evolutionarily superior to mankind.

 

As with all Oxford World's Classics, there are copious notes and explanations, and the front cover illustration by renowned space illustrator David Hardy makes this one of the best versions to have.

 

Adrian J Walker: The Last Dog On Earth

Published by Del Rey 7th September 2017

Every dog has its day…

And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can be.

Reg, an agoraphobic writer with an obsession for nineties football, plans to wait out the impending doom in his second floor flat, hiding himself away from the riots outside.

But when an abandoned orphan shows up in the stairwell of their building, Reg and Lineker must brave the outside in order to save not only the child, but themselves…

 

Always nicer when there's a dog in a story... somehow I can't imagine a world without dogs, and Lineker steals the show for me!

 

Benjamin Percy: The Dark Net

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 3rd August 2017

The dark net is an online shadowland for criminals to operate anonymously, but when a demonic force begins to hack the minds of its users there is nowhere left to hide. Twelve-year-old Hannah has been fitted with a high-tech prosthetic that restores her sight, but can't understand why she can now see shadows surrounding certain people. Lela, an emotionally shut-off, technophobic journalist stumbles onto a story nobody wants her to uncover. A story someone will kill to keep hidden. A former evangelist, Mike, suffers demons - figurative and literal - and keeps an arsenal of weapons stored in the basement of the homeless shelter he runs. And Derek, is a hacker who believes himself a soldier, part of a cyber army dedicated to changing the world for the better. With the virus spreading throughout the net and an ancient evil threatening to break lose on the real world, it falls to these strangers to stop the rising darkness. THE DARK NET is a cracked-mirror version of the digital nightmare we already live in, a timely and wildly imaginative techno-thriller about the evil that lurks in real and virtual spaces, and the power of a united few to fight back.

 

The trouble with the Dark Net is that it's all true, I believe, which makes this tense thriller even more scary than it otherwide would have been...

 

Ray J Newell: Tintagel

Published by Matador 28th August 2017

While playing on a cliff ledge in Cornwall, a young man, Dejon, discovers the Sword of Shaftesbury, which once belonged to the Celtic God, Bran. However, Dejon gets more than he bargained for, as he finds the wizard Cadgwith, father of Merlin, trapped within it. Cadgwith's granddaughter, Sennen, is in mortal danger and upon releasing the wizard, Dejon is persuaded to help. In order to save Sennen from the evil sea lord Mullion, Dejon is transported to Tintagel in the year 410 AD. However, by mistake, Dejon's rival Jamie falls into the spell and lands in the dungeon of the castle, where he meets Mithian, the hero of the local people; after several mishaps, all three escape the castle together. The King of Tintagel hates his stepdaughter, Ruth. She is a revered general and leads her own rebel army within the castle. She is a fearless fighter, respected by all sides. A slow and brooding love story develops in a battle for Ruth's affections between her childhood friends Mithian and Delaboe, her comrades in arms, and Dejon. Mullion assembles a fearsome army and travels through time, joining forces with Quin, leader of a band of Cornish cutthroats and vagabonds. The teenage rivals bring twenty-first century humour and logic to those dark days of death before dishonour. Dejon uses the magic sword as a flying skateboard, encountering spirits, gods, druids - and even the Grim Reaper! Tintagel crosses Cornwall from north to south and from east to west with authentic references to the geography and the history of the time. At first glance it may seem like a fairy tale, but don't be fooled - it is for adults only! A pulse-pounding read, Tintagel will appeal to fans of fantasy series such as The Chronicles of Narnia and Game of Thrones.

 

Marilyn Messik: Witch Dust

Published by Matador 28th August 2017

A red gash of a mouth rimmed with impossibly tiny, razor-sharp teeth yawned wide, then swift as a snake, she bent and struck. For Sandra, daughter of illusionists, Adam and Ophelia, life's never been run of the mill! But when Adam's wandering eye lights on yet another conquest, it proves a chorus girl too far, and Sandra's caught in the reverberations of her parents acrimonious parting. Coerced into restoring her depressed Mother to the bosom of a family Sandra never knew existed, she's sucked into a situation that even for her is unnerving. From being without a single relative, she suddenly acquires several she'd rather do without, and learns a few home truths she'd prefer not to know. Ophelia, it appears, has not been entirely honest about any number of things. There's no doubt in Sandra's mind, the sooner she puts as much distance as possible between herself, her newly discovered nearest and dearest, their peculiar tendencies and their failing hotel business, the happier she's going to be. Dire straits call for desperate measures and Sandra reluctantly rises to the occasion. A hanged housemaid, a fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Psychic Society and a quasi co-operative journalist all handled correctly should, she reckons, get the family business up and running, which will allow her to do the same - as fast as she can, and in the opposite direction. Things unfortunately move swiftly from bad to farce and then get a hell of a lot darker. One moment Sandra's struggling to save the family's income, the next, she's battling to save their lives. Turns out, some darknesses, once buried, are best left undisturbed.

Nicholas Romano: DP Goes A-Roving

Published by The Book Guild 28th July 2017

DP Goes A-Roving is a fantastical tale, woven through with elements of the surreal and bizarre, which will appeal to fans of historical and character-driven novels. Centred on the ups and down of Dino, a young boy endeavouring to make sense of a hideous war, a matriarchal mother, an absentee father, and Blackshirt vs. partisan goings-on, not to mention puppy love.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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.