Monday, November 21, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/19

This post essentially covers two weeks; as I noted last Tuesday, the Gods of Publicity were kind to me -- in their own way -- and didn't send packages while I was off on vacation, so I deeply hope none of you are physically addicted to these weekly posts.

As always, I'll start off by reminding you that I haven't read any of these books yet, and so the things I'm about to write about them -- though as accurate as I can make them -- might be deficient in some way that I'm sure know-it-alls will find glee in pointing out in the comments. But these are all books, coming out now or in the near future in the lovely US of A (there's nothing from other shores this time around), and here are some things you might want to know about them:

I have mixed feelings about the first book this week -- Glamour in Glass, the second novel by up-and-coming writer (SFWA vice-president, Campbell Award winner, Hugo winner, Nebula nominee) Mary Robinette Kowal. First, I'm happy to see it, since it's a sequel to her first novel, the excellent Shades of Milk and Honey (see my review for details). But then I'm slightly disappointed because it is a sequel -- I know a career is a fragile thing, and reinforcing strong points early can be crucial, but I also prefer to see writers, especially newer ones, stretching themselves as much as possible -- for commercial as well as literary reasons -- and writing distinctive, different books each time. Glamour does look to have a different tone than Shades did: the first book was unabashedly a porting of Jane Austen into fantasy dress, set in that small, circumscribed society of the uneasy young female minor nobility deep in the provinces, while Glamour promises to take Shades' heroine, Jane, to France with her new husband and embroil both of them in larger events. So I hope it's a sequel that goes to different places than the first book did -- in any case, it's a April 2012 hardcover from Tor (which I'm seeing shockingly early for me, in bound galley), and I do expect to read it as soon as I can.

I'll probably have less to say about Marjorie M. Liu's novel Within the Flames, since I have to admit that I've never read Liu. (There are probably several hundred regularly working writers in the larger world of the fantastic; how many of us are familiar with all of them?) This is the eleventh book in the "Dirk & Steele" series, which I believe focuses on a detective agency -- I suspect, given that this is published as romance, that the first book told the story of Dirk & Steele themselves, and each subsequent book has a new romance concerning at least one agent of the firm -- and the central characters this time are Eddie, a pyromaniac and former car thief, and Lyssa, last of a fire-controlling shape-shifting race, on the run from nefarious forces that want to kill her. Within the Flames is a December mass-market paperback from Avon.

And then there's Rhiannon Frater's Fighting to Survive, billed as "As the World Dies, Book Two." (I suppose we should all be happy that it takes more than one book for the world to die?) This is, as we all suspected, yet another zombie novel. This time, the plucky band of squabbling survivors is slaughtering the risen dead to clear a historic hotel room-by-room -- any resemblance to a video game must be entirely coincidental, I suppose -- and there's no sign that the world is completely dead at the end of this book, so expect further sequels and ever-escalating body counts. (You might have guessed that I'm not particularly thrilled about zombie stories.) This is a Tor trade paperback that published on November 8th.

Next up is the first of two books this week that I'm pretty sure I've seen before: Brandon Sanderson's steampunky "Mistborn" line extension, The Alloy of Law. It's a Tor hardcover, and it was published November 8th.

Also steampunky, and also naggingly familiar, is Hearts of Smoke and Steam, the second book in Andrew P. Mayer's series "The Society of Steam," in which something very much like a superhero team battles evil in an altered 19th century New York. This one is from Pyr, and was published November 15th.

Last this time around is Lightbringer, the first novel by K.D. McEntire. It's a contemporary fantasy novel with echos of an older story: here, a young woman named Wendy can see the Lost (souls of those who died too soon) in the Never, and move them forward into the Light. But then she meets a man named Piotr, the guardian of the Lost, and things get more complicated. Lightbringer is also from Pyr, a hardcover published on November 15th.


Anonymous said...

You listed "The Alloy of Law" as being Andrew Mayer's book as well as Brandon Sanderson's. Just thought you might want to know. Feel free to delete this when you correct it.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Anon: Thanks for the correction! It was one of those pesky copy-and-paste errors -- much more common these days, since the Amazon widget stopped working with Blogger -- and I've now fixed it.

Mayer's book is, of course, the thoroughly awesome Hearts of Smoke and Steam.

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