Monday, February 07, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 2/5

Welcome to Monday once again -- to help ease that painful transition (particularly for those of you who indulged too much last night while watching a certain sporting contest), have a list of upcoming and current books that you just might find absolutely wonderful.

They all arrived in my mailbox last week, and I haven't read any of them yet -- but here's what I can tell you about them:

The Crippled God is the tenth and last book of Steven Erikson's doorstop decadent fantasy series "The Malazan Book of the Fallen," and it's just as gigantic as the previous books: over nine hundred pages as a large-format bound galley with not-particularly-large type. Remember that the first book (Gardens of the Moon, where you should start if you haven't read Erikson) came out only twelve years ago, and two things leap immediately to mind. One, that Erikson has done a hell of a lot of pure typing of the past decade, even if he doesn't revise a lot, and, Two, that pretty much every other fantasy writer is a slacker. I'm already two books behind on this series -- they're hard just to physically maneuver; if ever there was an argument for ebooks, this series is it -- but I still plan to get to Toll the Hounds and then Dust of Dreams, and, finally, to this one. That certainly won't happen before Crippled God publishes in April (from Tor, as a simultaneous trade paperback, for most of us, and hardcover, for the flush, collectors, and libraries with clumsy patrons), but I'll still recommend the series, which is deep, complex, interestingly epic, and just plain stuffed full of weird stuff. When a man is tired of London, he's tired of life, but when he's tired of epic fantasy, it's time to step up to Steven Erikson.

Thirteen Years Later is the sequel to Jasper Kent's vampires-in-Napoleonic-Russia novel Twelve, and the middle of what will eventually be a quartet of books. I'm intrigued to see that Thirteen Years After springs from a secret history interpretation of the Decembrist uprising of 1825, since I'm reading a book about Russia right now, and just ran through that very romantic, and utterly doomed, endeavor. Russia is a big, brawling, conflicted land, and has been for centuries -- it's the perfect backdrop for a big vampire story, so I'm surprised no one has jumped up to do that before Kent. All indications are that Kent has done both vampires and Russia proud, so I suspect this series would be of interest to Tim Powers fans, particularly those who loved The Stress of Her Regard. Thirteen Years After will be published by Pyr as a trade paperback on February 15th.

Speaking of lucky number thirteen, the thirteenth novel in Steven Brust's "Vlad Taltos" series of fantasy novels -- all of which stand alone, more or less, but are even more entertaining when read together -- is coming in April from Tor, under the title Tiassa. (There will be nineteen novels in the series in all, assuming Brust doesn't get hit by a bus first, and seventeen of those are titled after the animal names of the Great Houses of his fantasy world -- it's really much less complicated than I make it sound, but it does lead to single-fantasy-word titles for most of the series.) Tiassa sounds like a continuation of the current continuity of the series, picking up from Dzur and Iorich, though Brust does tend to write flashback novels every third book or so -- two books ago was the flashback novel Jhegaala, for example. (And I've reviewed those last three books here: Dzur, Jhegaala, and Iorich. See what I mean about names? I've been reading the series long enough that they sound normal to my ear, but your mileage may vary.) I will certainly read this one -- it's not that long, and Brust's Vlad novels are some of the most purely entertaining things in the SFF field, mostly due to Vlad's voice -- but I probably won't get to it until around publication date, since I like to review books, these days, when people can actually find them. Oh, and for the serious Brust fans: this book sees Vlad meet Khaavren, hero of Brust's novel The Phoenix Guards and sequels, and it looks like they bounce off of each other for most of the book.

I must admit that I haven't read James Barclay's novels of the Raven (a mercenary company, probably somewhat in the Black Company vein), so I won't be able to tell you much about Demonstorm, the sixth of those novels. It's the end of the second trilogy, "Legends of the Raven," and Pyr published it in trade paperback on January 25th. And the back cover copy is entirely a sea of names I don't know -- Tessaya, Xetesk, Dystran, Balaia, the Paleon Tribes. I've heard that Barclay won't write any more Raven novels, so, if you were waiting for the end of the series to begin reading it, your light is now green.

And last for this week is a graphic novel from First Second: Lewis & Clark by Nick Bertozzi. It's a nonfictional account of the famous voyage of discovery -- note to non-Americans: Lewis & Clark led an expedition across the North American continent beginning in 1804, partly to investigate the vast Louisiana Purchase (about a quarter of the current USA), which President Jefferson had just bought from France, and partly to find a route to the Pacific coast and strengthen the USA's territorial claim for the Pacific Northwest -- and is, given First Second's slant, presumably entirely appropriate for younger readers as well as grizzled old grumps such as myself. Bertozzi has previously done a fine, mildly fantastic graphic novel about the Paris Modernists, The Salon (my review); illustrated Glenn Eichler's modern museum-piece comedy of racial manners, Stuffed! (my review); and illustrated Jason Lutes's story from Houdini's life, The Handcuff King (my review).

1 comment:

Paul D said...

I must admit that I haven't read James Barclay's novels of the Raven (a mercenary company, probably somewhat in the Black Company vein),

I read the first book of "The Raven" and it's like the Black Company if it was written for 12 year olds and cribbed from a generic AD&D scenario.

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