Monday, May 05, 2014

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 5/3

Welcome to another Monday! The tiny bit I can do to relieve that Monday-morning feeling is to let you know about some books that may (or may not; I don't know you) turn out to be the most wonderful things you've read in years. These five books below came to me because I review books here, but I haven't read any of them yet -- they only just showed up. But I might be able to tell you interesting things about them anyway, and I'll definitely try:

Valour and Vanity is the fourth novel by Campbell and Hugo-winner Mary Robinette Kowal, and the fourth book in the series began with Shades of Milk and Honey. (See my review of that and the second book in the series, Glamour in Glass, for more details on the series.) It appears that these books -- set in Regency England and nearby parts, in a history at first only very mildly alternate, with the addition of purely decorative magical arts -- are diverging further from real history, or at least from Shades's very Jane-Austen style. This one, in fact, has pirates and what seems to be a heist plot. It's a Tor hardcover, available now.

The Silk Map -- a trade paperback from Pyr, hitting stores on May 6th -- continues the heroic fantasy series about poet Persimmon Gaunt and her husband, the thief Imago Bone, which began in The Scroll of Years.  In the first book, they saved their son but stuck him in a pocket dimension -- so, this time, they're traveling their world's equivalent of the Silk Road in search of  complicated way to bring their child back. It sounds like big, adventurous, swashbuckling sword and sorcery, of the kind that Pyr specializes in and no one else is doing much.

Most of the books I see are things that I'm comfortable categories in a few words: epic fantasy, space opera, hardboiled mysteries, young adult dystopias. But there are exceptions. Everybody Dies -- a heavily illustrated book by noted YouTuber Ken Tanaka and journeyman actor David Ury -- is one of the big ones. It's subtitled "a children's book for grown-ups," and I have a suspicion it's inspired, at least in part, by the famous Everybody Poops. In any case, this is an oddball, pseudo-picture book look at death with bright pictures, and it's coming from Harper Design on May 27th.

Prince of Fools is the first book in a epic fantasy trilogy (The Red Queen's War), on the darker side -- author Mark Lawrence's first trilogy, The Broken Empire, was compared to George R.R. Martin repeatedly, and not because both of them are Jets fans. This one begins an entirely separate story in the same world as that previous trilogy, and is an Ace hardcover arriving June 3rd. It's also promised to be a bit lighter than that first trilogy, which may mean there are some moments that aren't grimdark -- or that there's a comic-relief character, or that the ending is less bleak, or a dozen other things.

And last for this week is the newest "Dresden Files" book from Jim Butcher, Skin Game. Harry Dresden, who is still described as Chicago's only professional wizard -- though I don't think he's actually taken a case from the public or earned any money in the mundane world for at least ten books now -- is this time forced into a major supernatural heist by his new boss, Queen Mab, along with one of his biggest enemies and featuring even more than the usual allotment of backstabbing, treachery, and danger. It's a Roc hardcover, arriving May 27th.

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