Monday, March 03, 2014

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 3/1

I once edited SFF for a I review it on the Internet. Lo! How have the mighty fallen!

(Actually, I was a reprint editor at a place I suspect didn't get much respect at the best of times, and never touched a word of anyone's text. But it makes a better lament the other way.)

This week's batch of books in the mail are all genre, giving me an excuse for the self-indulgent twaddle above. As always, I haven't read any of these books yet, and I make no promises that I'll eventually read and review any specific one of them. (Sure, I'd like to review X and Y, but time is short and distractions many.) But here's what I can tell you about the five books this week, as organized by the way they happen to be stacked right this moment:

The Tropic of Serpents is the second in a secondary-world fantasy series by Marie Brennan, following A Natural History of Dragons (which looked like fun, and is still on my I-think-I-can-find-time-to-read-it shelf), purporting to be the second volume of memoirs of the early career of a woman who eventually became the most celebrated naturalist of dragons of her world. I suspect there's more adventure and intrigue than a quick glance would suggest: I don't expect these are books about just traveling to remote regions to sketch dragons, track their movements, and analyze their scat. (Not that that doesn't sound like a great book to begin with.) Tropic of Serpents is a Tor hardcover, arriving March 4th.

Glen Cook returns to his "Instrumentalities of the Night" series -- which seems to me to be a thematic and stylistic sequel to his long-running and now-ended "Black Company" series, although the two are set in different worlds with entirely different characters -- in Working God's Mischief, which can be read as a full sentence or as a noun phrase, depending on your taste. This is dark fantasy shading into the realms of epic, from the writer who deeply influenced Steven Erikson -- there's a quote on the back cover from Erikson himself to say as much -- and who probably more than anyone else bent secondary-world fantasy to the dark and the gritty. This is a big series about the fate of empires, so I can't tell you much about this book; I haven't read any of these yet. The Tyranny of the Night is the first book, and the place to start -- this one is a Tor hardcover and will be available March 11th.

Dystopias continue to flourish in the world of Young Adult fiction, hooking young readers who are sure their world is the worst one ever -- except for the ways it's going to get even worse in the future. Riding that wave is ACID, the first novel by Emma Pass, set a hundred years in the future when the sinister world-spanning police force of the title (Agency for Crime Investigation and Defense) rules humanity's hearts and minds with the requisite iron fist. But one teenage malefactor, Jenna Strong, is broken out of one of ACID's most horrible prisons -- and I'm sure she'll topple the evil regime (along with at least one cute boy and probably two of 'em) by the end of a trilogy. ACID is a hardcover from Delacorte, available March 11th.

From Pyr comes the first book in a new fantasy series by Jon Sprunk -- author of Shadow's Son and its two sequels -- as Blood and Iron drops a shipwright into a hostile empire and teams him up with two other mysterious outlaws (a gladiator and royal handmaiden/spy) to find their way out through a land of dark sorcery and darker gods. This one will also be available on March 11th in trade paperback.

And last this week is another Pyr trade paperback from March: Mark Smylie's The Barrow, which takes the author's long-running Artesia comic-book series and turns it into a big fat no-adjective novel. I don't know if the characters in this book are new or familiar from Artesia, so I'll name them and see if the commentariat can elucidate: renegade cartographer Stjepan Black-Heart, the secretly female Erim, brothel owner Gilgwyr, exiled mage Leigh, and the exiled nobles Arduin and Annwyn Orwain. They're all chasing a cursed map that promises to lead to an ancient sword in a long-dead wizard's tomb, and none of those fraught words seem to bother them. This looks like something more sword & sorcery than epic fantasy, which is wonderful: we need more of that, and Pyr are the people making the most of that region of the fantastic.


Carl V. Anderson said...

I'll be picking up Tropic of Serpents on Tuesday. I just grabbed the first one recently and what little I've read has me excited.

I got a review copy of Blood and Iron Friday in the mail. I have several of Sprunk's books but have yet to take the time to read him.

Anonymous said...

As a reprint editor at SFBC you introduced me to a lot of good writers and I thank you for it.

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