Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Manix Abrera's 12 Now Available as an E-Book!

Hey, remember when I gushed over Manix Abrera's wonderful wordless graphic story collection, 12?

(I'll wait until you go back and re-read that review.)

Well, you're all now in luck, because 12 is finally available as an e-book, through the global online selling behemoth that you expected.

I still want to see that book actually published, as ink on paper, on my side of the Pacific -- partially because I need to get a new copy of it myself, after the flood -- but that might come, eventually.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/26

It's a short list this week -- which may possibly have something to do with the major American holiday on Thursday -- but I'll give you the usual introductory bafflegab anyway, just to make sure it's all clear:

These posts go out every Monday morning, listing the books that arrived during the previous seven days. Typically, those books were sent to me by the friendly publicists of The Wonderful World of Publishing, in hopes that I will read and review them. I have not yet read any of these books, though -- I refer you again to the point where they just arrived -- so the below is what I can tell you about them from my prior knowledge, from supposition, and by squinting really hard at them.

First up this time is a new novel for younger readers -- teenagers, to be more specific -- by Stephen Emond, WinterTown. (His previous novel for teens was Happyface, which I reviewed last year, and he's also known for the comic book Emo Boy, which he wrote and drew.) Like Happyface, WinterTown is heavily illustrated, with a few pages in comics format and many more illustrations -- but, unlike Happyface, this book seems to be told entirely in the third person. Evan is our central character, a high-achieving late teen who looks forward to the annual visit from Lucy, his childhood best friend who moved away years ago. But this year Lucy has returned completely changed, as a sullen Goth all in black. I suspect this pushes Evan to both try to "save" Lucy and to date her, but the book is clearly all about their changing relationship, and that late-teens time when the world can seem to be either opening up or completely closing down. WinterTown is a hardcover from Little, Brown, publishing in December.

Osamu Tezuka, I hope you recall, is the godfather of Japanese comics (aka manga) -- creator of Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Phoenix, plus dozens of other stories in both printed and animated form. And his most popular series among Japanese adults has long been Black Jack, a series of thrilling stories about a scar-faced "underground surgeon" who travels the world committing unlikely surgeries in odd places, to save lives and otherwise do astonishing medical work. This month sees the end of that series's first complete publication in English with Black Jack, Volume 17 -- a book that also includes an appendix listing all of the Black Jack stories (including a few untranslated and uncollected titles) and placing them in order of original publication for the completests out there. (I reviewed the first and second volumes of the series a few years back.)

And last for this week is a book I don't know if I can adequately express my feelings about: Piers Anthony's 35th Xanth novel, Well-Tempered Clavicle, which was published by Tor in hardcover on November 22nd. I'm reminded of a celebratory luncheon that took place before my publishing career began, among some women thrilled not to have to be professionally connected with a book entitled The Color of Her Panties, and feel the only safe thing to say is something along the lines of "My, isn't that a baby!"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Week at the Airport by Alain de Botton

There always has to be someone willing to over-intellectualize any particular aspect of modern life -- and, for most of them, we have Alain de Botton, who is more than happy to fix his immense erudition on the most trivial of things, to make us all feel smarter, more connected, and more educated than we really are.

For A Week at the Airport -- which feels like an only very slightly overgrown Sunday-magazine article, complete with big glossy photos by Richard Baker, often in that just slightly out-of-focus style that proves that they were both intensely artistic and shot in the heat of the moment -- de Botton spends a week as "writer-in-residence" at Heathrow airport in London, and closely examines, with all the erudite firepower he can muster, every single aspect of life and commerce and love and travel that comes to his mind over that week.

This slim book is divided into four parts -- Approach, essentially an introduction; Departures, mostly about how de Botton settled into the airport hotel and a general overview of the passengers and their thoughts; Airside, focused on the workers at the airport, from security to cleaners to shopkeepers; and Arrivals, a short summing-up and attempt to contextualize modern air travel, with lots of philosophizing and deep thoughts. It all hovers at the verge of being too much from the first page to the last, but, due to its slim size, never quite moves over that frontier entirely.

This is clearly not a book for those who don't believe in the examined life; de Botton examines every last molecule of every aspect of life -- that's his shtick. But, if examination is as fascinating to you as de Botton's voice is to him, you may find plenty to think about in A Week at the Airport. And, even if you don't, it shouldn't take more than two hours to read, so you can get on to other things quite quickly.

(Longtime Antick Musings readers may remember that I was less kind to the somewhat longer The Architecture of Happiness; I may have mellowed, or de Botton may be easier to take the fewer pages he uses.)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Pillars of Hercules by Paul Theroux

Reading enthusiasms often wax and wane, and it's the lucky reader who can read quickly enough -- or fall in love with a writer with a small enough oevure -- to make it to the other end of a new favorite writer's work before that enthusiasm departs. And so one's reading life will proceed in fits and starts, perhaps because that old favorite suddenly got a new publisher for his extensive backlist, or because some new book reignited a particular old enthusiasm, or for no obvious reason at all.

I've written glancingly about several of my reading enthusiasms of the '90s, the decade when I both read the most books and read as an adult and independent critical thinker for the first time -- about my dive into Anthony Trollope, about my brush with the intellectual end of American conservatism, about my periodic binges on private-eye novels, about the eternal joys of P.G. Wodehouse, and, of course, more than anything else, about the metric tons of SFF I read that decade. But there are other enthusiasms I don't think I've brought up, such as Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books, the first half of Gibbon's Decline and Fall, the big chunk of Dickens I read at SF conventions, Evelyn Waugh, and probably a half-dozen others I can't call to mind right now. Another one of those enthusiasms is a taste for travel books, especially those by Paul Theroux. (I had a half-dozen of them on the too-be-read shelves at the time of my recent flood; two were saved because they had bookmarks in them, including The Pillars of Hercules, the book I was actively reading at the time -- I'd saved it for that vacation.)

I think I began Theroux sometime in the mid-'90s with The Kingdom by the Sea, his crabbed and cranky journey around the coast of Great Britain -- led there mostly by Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island, a less idiosyncratic and more conventional tour of that island -- and moved on to his great railroad books, Riding the Iron Rooster and The Great Railway Bazaar. I'd been slowly poking through his odds-and-ends travel collection, Fresh Air Fiend, but I don't think I've otherwise read one of his books during the course of this blog -- which is odd, since I deeply enjoy his travel writings and think of myself as reading one every year or so. (In one's thirties and forties, though, "every year or so" can mean something you fully intend to do, but never actually accomplish.)

Theroux is the kind of traveler I'd like to think I would be, if I had his time, freedom, and publishing contracts: grumpy in odd and unlikely ways, intensely solitary but continually engaging strangers in conversation, adaptable enough, probably too smart for his own good, intensely engaged in both the small details and big pictures of the places he visits. In Pillars -- the story of a journey around the Mediterranean, in two clumps, over the course of a little more than a year in the early '90s -- he's all of those things, plus more than slightly snobbish about tourists...while furiously denying that he is one, and inwardly wondering whether he is.

Perhaps I picked up Pillars -- and not The Happy Isles of Oceania (about kayaking through the Pacific) or Dark Star Safari (about revisiting parts of Africa he lived and worked in forty years before) or Ghost Train to the Eastern Star (another train journey on the Orient Express) -- because of the Arab Spring; Pillars begins at Gibraltar, but its second half promised a look at Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco, and those nations had been much in the news. Perhaps I was drawn to his views on the then-simmering wars in the nations that fissioned out of Yugoslavia. Or maybe I just grabbed one Theroux book, because it had been too long since I'd read him. I'm never entirely sure of my own motives, and instinctively distrust anyone who claims to completely know himself.

The joys of Theroux's travel books are in the small moments, the things he notices and comments on, from the equally shrieking and appalling tourists and apes at Gibraltar to his pilgrimage to the tiny Italian village of Aliano, the setting of Carlo Levi's memoir Christ Stopped At Eboli. His voice is always mildly misanthropic; he enjoys the company of many of the individuals he meets along the way, and is friendly to nearly all of them, but the masses of men put him on the verge of disgust, and sometimes -- as with a particularly dog-merde-filled stretch of the French coastline -- shoves him right over the edge.

Any travel book is a snapshot, not a complete picture, so it can be helpful to wait until they're seasoned a bit. If a powerfully persuasive writer tells you something about what he saw this year, you're likely to believe it. But if you read him nearly twenty years later, it's much more clearly his specific experiences at that particular time, with those particular people, and not the explanation of All Those People. Theroux, with his nasty undertones and distrust of humanity in general, benefits greatly from this distance -- so I do recommend reading his travel books, which are thoughtful, piercingly observed, and brilliantly written, but I also recommend starting with those at least ten years old, for maximum advantage.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block

Time moves ever-forward. It's a cliche, of course -- but only because it's so deeply true that we don't need to be reminded of it. But even artforms that don't need to worry about the passage of time -- without actors getting older or voices thickening -- still need to nod in the direction of changing times, even if that nod quickly turns into a shake of the head.

It's most complicated for a series of books -- any single book can cover as much, or as little, time as it wants, starting anywhere and ending anywhere. But that second book assumes that the first happened, to those people at that time, and that at least a moment has passed since then. And then the third, and the fourth -- and so on, and so on. Particularly in a genre that requires physical exertion from its protagonists, like a spy thriller or a hardboiled mystery, the damage can mount up quickly, and the reader can find herself counting on her fingers to work out just how old, exactly, this dashing young man can possibly be.

Some authors nod, and only nod -- Robert Parker's Spencer books pretended to see time passing, but his characters never seemed to age, even when they should have been well above AARP qualifications. And some don't even nod, as with most of Agatha Christine's series and the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, where things are always exactly the same even if very slightly different. And a few devise their own fiendishly complicated systems, most famously Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone, who will spend her entire career trapped in the 1980s while the rest of us hurtle on much more quickly into an unknowable future.

But most writers grudgingly allow time to continue, and to wound the heels of their characters, letting them get more battered and tired (but, one hopes, shrewder and more experienced) along the way. Lawrence Block's series of novels about Matthew Scudder -- ex-NYPD cop, unlicensed private investigator, erstwhile alcoholic -- has followed its hero from the depths of the '70s, and of his darkest drinking years, up through 2005's All the Flowers Are Dying, with Matt feeling every day of the years in between. (Though Block did fiddle slightly with some of the details of Scudder's backstory; originally, Scudder had been on the force for ten years, and had been off it for some time before 1976's The Sins of the Fathers, making him in his mid-thirties then and thus pushing seventy now.)

The 2011 Scudder novel, A Drop of the Hard Stuff, sidesteps that problem by being a flashback -- the first flashback novel since 1986's When the Sacred Ginmill Closes, generally considered the best book in the excellent series -- set around thirty years ago, soon after the events of 1982's Eight Million Ways To Die and Scudder's early days of sobriety. So the Scudder here is a younger man, battered by somewhat less life than the contemporary version, but still having seen a lot of hard road.

As usual with a late Scudder novel, the plot emerges slowly, from an accretion of events. Scudder runs into an old friend from hid Bronx childhood, Jack Ellery, at an AA meeting. Ellery is an ex-con, newly sober, with a long list of sins and flaws to atone for and the new convert's zeal to do that atonement. Ellery is setting out to right as many of his wrongs as he can -- to apologize for every bad decision and wrong action that he ever did while under the influence.

And that gets him killed. Scudder starts investigating, and his mulish sense of responsibility, guilt, and curiosity keeps him pushing forward, through dead ends and unlikely connections, until he learns who killed Jack Ellery, and why. I won't go into more detail, since those details are half of what makes A Drop of the Hard Stuff so enjoyable.

The other half is Block's mature novelistic voice: conversational but always controlled, able to effortlessly string out a conversation for a chapter or sketch a dingy room in two paragraphs, quietly compelling and as smooth and easily flowing as that seductive stuff Scudder needs to keep himself from drinking. Block is a master, and this is another fine novel -- by turns exciting and ruminative -- from one of the very best writers of mystery around.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shameless Shilling

I've got two problems right now -- well, I'm sure I've got more than two problems, but these are the two I want to talk about -- that I've got too many e-mails cluttering up my in-box and that I feel guilty for not posting much here lately.

I can fix both of those problems in a half-assed way, though, and I'm about to do it. You see, a lot of those e-mails are wheedling notes from Amazon, which really wants me to help them sell more stuff. And this very blog is a place I could use to try to get people to spend money!

Of course, my timing -- deep into the evening on the day before Thanksgiving -- isn't as good as it could be, but isn't Black Friday coming up? Aren't we all supposed to spend massive amounts and save the economy? I think so! And so here are some things you might want to spend those massive amounts of money on:

Plug the First: Amazon has a store for Black Friday Week -- and blame them for turning a day into a week, not me -- which will have offers and deals and other ways to separate you from your cash through the 26th.

Have a banner for that as well -- which I expect most of you will have already ad-blocked:

Plug Numer-o Secundo: Amazon also owns a site called MyHabit -- I know, I'd never heard of it, either -- which it describes as a "private sale site offering up to 60% off hand-picked selections from fashion designer and boutique brands". It seems to require a sign-up, but that's free, and uses your Amazon ID. (So, if anyone tries to sell this as "exclusive," feel free to laugh in their faces.) But, if you like to wear nice stuff (or give it as gifts), it's definitely something to check out.

Plugus Tertius: There's also a certain new reading device out -- it's been kept pretty hush-hush, so you might not have heard of it -- called the Kindle Fire. You probably know by now if you want one, but, just in case, hit that link or the below banner to check it out, and continue to foster the mono-culturization of the American literary marketplace.

And that's it, actually; I had many Amazon e-mails, but they were all reminders to try to sell those three things (and related stuff; the holiday marketing engine is clearly working its way up, and will be in full force within a week).

So all that's left is for me to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving -- belated if you're in Canada, and somewhat besides the point if you live the rest of the world, but heartfelt nevertheless, since my favorite holiday is the one where you get a four-day weekend just for showing up and eating a big meal -- and that you do only as much shopping as you want to in the days afterwards, finding things you wanted and things you didn't expect at excellent prices and with the minimum of fuss.

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.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quote of the Week: Volumetrics

"You can take all of the sincerity in Hollywood, place it in the navel of a fruit-fly, and still have room for three caraway seeds and a producer's heart."
- Fred Allen

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tumbling Head Over Heels

Since Google eliminated shared items in yet another attempt to drag the entire Internet into their purview (and sell ads against it, of course), I've had to find a new method for my micro-blogging.

So, like everyone else, I've been driven to yet another oh-so-Internetty site named with a misspelled word, Tumblr. I expect that Hornswogglets will be mostly the same kind of thing that my shared items previously were, and I think I've already set it up to syndicate to the usual places. (Not to Google+, of course -- they don't want anyone coming in or going out; it's the roach motel of the Internet.)

There should be a Hornswogglets sidebar to the left -- replacing the old Hornswogglets sidebar -- and that will fill up, I hope, as I find things I want to point at. I may do more tumblr-y things as well, I suppose -- pictures and video and whatnot -- but, for now, it'll probably be primarily a link-driven micro-blog.

If you follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook, you should see that stuff automatically, if you want to or not. If you read this blog via an RSS feed, the feed for Hornswogglets is http://hornswoggler.tumblr.com/rss. And if you read it right here on this page, just look to your left, and you should see it.

And, if you don't want to see anything I've shared or written or blogged, then why on earth have you read this far?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/12

There probably is a pile of mail that arrived this week, waiting for me to write about it. But it's in New Jersey and, at the time this post goes up, I'm still in Florida (though probably at the airport on my way back). So this post will be somewhat delayed this week -- it may be up as early as tonight, or as late as a week from now.

But regular posting here should come back within the next 48 hours, or even faster if anything demanding of comment has been happening. Has it?

Update, late evening of 11/15: I seem to have gotten only one (1) book last week -- and I do have to thank those thoughtful publishers for organizing their lists and publicity mailings so carefully to closely fit my schedule -- so I'm just going to roll that into next week's post.

In other news, I'm back in the saddle. There might be a real post tomorrow, particularly if I have anything specific to natter on about.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 11/5

I've got something to admit: most of the books I've been writing about here, every Monday morning for the past few years, didn't actually come in "the mail" -- they arrived by various private carriers, from DHL to FedEx to those guys in brown. (Oh, sure, a few of them did come in mail trucks, but that's a small fraction.)

But "Reviewing the Variously-Sourced Packages" just doesn't have the ring to it that I'm looking for, so this post will keep its name, even if that's slightly inaccurate.

Speaking of inaccuracies, what I'm about to tell you concerning these books might not be the absolute truth. Oh, I'm going to try to get it all right, but I haven't read any of these books yet, and it's entirely possible that I'll trip up somehow. If I do, I'm sure someone will gloat loudly in comments, so you have that to look forward to. But you're probably here to find out about new books, so let's have a look at this pile to my immediate left:

Princess Knight, Part One collects the first half of a well-known Osamu Tezuka manga series from the mid-'50s (as revised and re-serialized in the mid-'60s), about a princess born with two hearts -- male and female -- who thus is both an expert fencer and gorgeous. I've never read this one -- and I'm more familiar with Tezuka's later work, aimed more squarely at adult audiences -- but it looks like swashbuckling fun, with a side order of gender comedy. Vertical published this first volume last week -- and the second half of the story will be coming next month.

DAW will publish its usual three mass-market paperbacks in the month of December, and those are:
  • Under the Vale, edited by -- who else? -- Mercedes Lackey, with seventeen new stories of those magical talking horsies and their buddies (I kid), from Tanya Huff, Fiona Patton, Rosemary Edghill, Elisabeth Waters, and Lackey herself with Larry Dixon.
  • Human for a Day is the monthly Tekno Books anthology -- this time with sixteen original stories (from Jay Lake, Seanan McGuire, Anton Strout, Tanith Lee, Jim C. Hines, and others) about "what it means to be human" -- edited by the late Martin H. Gerrnberg and Jennifer Brozek.
  • And then there's Gini Koch's Alien Proliferation, fourth in a romantic-comedy SF series about a CIA agent, her alien now-husband, and various dangerous complications.
Autumn: Disintegration is the third (of four) novels in a zombie series by David Moody; it was originally self-published (along with a slew of other Moody horror books that are coming out really quickly), but is being reprinted by one of those old-fashioned real publishers, Thomas Dunne Books (part of St. Martin's Press), this month. It's a zombie novel, so don't expect me to read it or say anything positive about it.

Stands a Shadow is the second novel by epic fantasy writer Col Buchanan, and, as fate would have it, it is the second book in the series ("The Heart of the World") that began in that first novel, Farlander. It's the kind of book that has a Holy Matriarch, Free Ports, a fortress city called Bar-Khos, and a Roshun assassin named Ash -- if you like that sort of thing, this looks just like the sort of thing that you'll like. It's a Tor hardcover in November.

Also from Tor in hardcover in November, also in a big fantasy series (fourth in "The Imager Portfolio"), but from a writer who's been around slightly longer, is Scholar, the new L.E. Modesitt, Jr. novel. This is the fourth in the series, but it seems to be a distant prequel, set hundreds of years earlier.

I'm pretty sure I read and enjoyed Yves Menard's first novel in English, The Book of Knights -- it came out in my book-club days, when I had people reading books for me and I read bits of dozens of books a month, so I can be a bit fuzzy sometimes -- so I'm happy to see another one, the multiple-universe fantasy novel Chrysanthe, in which a young woman learns that her entire life is a lie, that she's the true heir to the titular fantasy kingdom, and (of course) heads home to take what is rightfully hers. It's coming from Tor as a hardcover in March.

To change gears entirely, Mush!: Sled Dogs with Issues is a graphic novel about (yes!) sled dogs, who talk to each other and have complicated internal lives and conflicts like any workplace. It's written by Glenn Eichler -- a TV writer whose previous graphic novel was Stuffed! (my review) -- with art from Joe Infurnari, whose name I know, though I'm not sure from what. This is coming from First Second in December, just in time for the big dog-racing season for those of you who live in very snowy places.

Also from First Second is The Silence of Our Friends, which looks much more serious: it's a story of the civil-rights era 1960s, written by two comics-connected friends (who don't seem to have written comics before), Mark Long and Jim Demonakos, with art from the excellent Nate Powell. (Powell's Swallow Me Whole -- see my review -- was one of the very best books of any kind of 2008, and his new Any Empire -- also see my review -- is also quite good.) This one is coming in January.

Last for this week is Jasper Kent's The Third Section, the third novel -- after Twelve and Thirteen Years Later -- in his giant vampires-in-19th-century-Russian-history series. (I have to admit that I haven't read these, but they look really good.) This one brings the story up to 1855 and the Crimean War, and it's a trade paperback from Pyr that was just published at the end of October.