The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration (often unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.
Due to traveling for the holidays and general holiday busyness, I’m woefully behind on these posts. It would take a long time to go through all the books since most of my Christmas gifts this year were books from my wish list. To get caught up, I’m just going to cover this week’s books I haven’t discussed before and a few other books from the last couple of weeks. I’ll be back to posting as usual next weekend.
Before I get to the books, an update on next week. Tomorrow there will be a giveaway for Impact Velocity by Leah Petersen. I’ve also been working on a review of Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith and expect that to be posted sometime this week.
On to (some) of the books!
Bone and Jewel Creatures by Elizabeth Bear
This novella is set in the same world as the Eternal Sky trilogy beginning with Range of Ghosts. I’ve read the prequel novella, Book of Iron, and I enjoyed it very much so I was thrilled that my husband got me the signed edition for Christmas! I was also happy to see that Elizabeth Bear is working on another story about Bijou, “The Bone War.” She said the following about it on her blog: “It’s a Bijou story, it involves paleontologists and making fun of academics, and I’ll let you know when you can read it somewhere!”
Dark magic is afoot in the City of Jackals…
Eighty years Bijou the Artificer has been a Wizard of Messaline, building her servants from precious scraps, living with the memory of a great love that betrayed her. She is ready to rest.
But now her former apprentice, Brazen the Enchanter, has brought her a speechless feral child poisoned by a sorcerous infection. Now, Messaline is swept by a mysterious plague. Now the seeping corpses of the dead stalk the streets.
Now, finally, Bijou’s old nemesis–Bijou’s old love–Kaulas the Necromancer is unleashing a reeking half-death on Bijou’s people. And only Bijou and her creatures wrought of bone and jewels can save the City of Jackals from his final revenge.
Prudence (The Custard Protocol #1) by Gail Carriger
Prudence, the first book in a new series by Gail Carriger, is about the daughter of Alexia from the Parasol Protectorate series. I was quite interested to see this since I had a lot of fun reading Soulless, Changeless, and Blameless (nothing against the last two books in the series—I just can’t keep up with ALL THE BOOKS and haven’t read them yet!).
Prudence will be available on March 17 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook) with the second book, Imprudence, to follow in 2016.
From New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger comes a new novel in the world of the Parasol Protectorate starring Prudence, the daughter of Alexia Tarabotti.
When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances – names it the Spotted Crumpet and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone’s secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?
The World of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson
This is a gorgeous hardcover illustrated book containing information on the history of the world of the Song of Ice and Fire books. My husband got me a signed copy for Christmas. I haven’t read much of it yet, but it certainly was pretty to flip through!
If the past is prologue, then George R. R. Martin’s masterwork—the most inventive and entertaining fantasy saga of our time—warrants one hell of an introduction. At long last, it has arrived with The World of Ice and Fire.
This lavishly illustrated volume is a comprehensive history of the Seven Kingdoms, providing vividly constructed accounts of the epic battles, bitter rivalries, and daring rebellions that lead to the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones. In a collaboration that’s been years in the making, Martin has teamed with Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson, the founders of the renowned fan site Westeros.org—perhaps the only people who know this world almost as well as its visionary creator.
Collected here is all the accumulated knowledge, scholarly speculation, and inherited folk tales of maesters and septons, maegi and singers. It is a chronicle which stretches from the Dawn Age to the Age of Heroes; from the Coming of the First Men to the arrival of Aegon the Conqueror; from Aegon’s establishment of the Iron Throne to Robert’s Rebellion and the fall of the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, which has set into motion the “present-day” struggles of the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons, and Targaryens. The definitive companion piece to George R. R. Martin’s dazzlingly conceived universe, The World of Ice and Fire is indeed proof that the pen is mightier than a storm of swords.
Red Moon and Black Mountain (House of Kendreth #1) by Joy Chant
This out-of-print fantasy book won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in 1972. The other two House of Kendreth books are The Grey Mane of Morning and When Voiha Wakes (which also won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award).
The Starlit Land of Kendrinh fell to Fendarl, the banished Lord of Black Mountain. He was the evil Enchanter of Star Magic. Nowhere in the stricken land was there a champion who could stand against him, who could fend off the black sorcery that became a horrifying reality with each rising of the Red Moon. But unbeknownst to Fendarl, a child was being raised by the Hurnei. A child who would grow to become their greatest warrior. A child who would become a man and learn the paradox of conquest and victory–and the dangers of a prophecy preordained to triumph!
Flesh and Fire (Vineart War #1) by Laura Anne Gilman
This fantasy was nominated for a Nebula Award in the Best Novel category in 2009. The next two books are Weight of Stone and The Shattered Vine, respectively.
Between the Nebula nomination and the description mentioning magic wine, how could I not want to read this?
From acclaimed bestselling author Laura Anne Gilman comes a unique and enthralling new story of fantasy and adventure, wine and magic, danger and hope….
Once, all power in the Vin Lands was held by the prince-mages, who alone could craft spellwines, and selfishly used them to increase their own wealth and influence. But their abuse of power caused a demigod to break the Vine, shattering the power of the mages. Now, fourteen centuries later, it is the humble Vinearts who hold the secret of crafting spells from wines, the source of magic, and they are prohibited from holding power.
But now rumors come of a new darkness rising in the vineyards. Strange, terrifying creatures, sudden plagues, and mysterious disappearances threaten the land. Only one Vineart senses the danger, and he has only one weapon to use against it: a young slave. His name is Jerzy, and his origins are unknown, even to him. Yet his uncanny sense of the Vinearts’ craft offers a hint of greater magics within — magics that his Master, the Vineart Malech, must cultivate and grow. But time is running out. If Malech cannot teach his new apprentice the secrets of the spellwines, and if Jerzy cannot master his own untapped powers, the Vin Lands shall surely be destroyed.
In Flesh and Fire, first in a spellbinding new trilogy, Laura Anne Gilman conjures a story as powerful as magic itself, as intoxicating as the finest of wines, and as timeless as the greatest legends ever told.
The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson
I’ve heard that this fantasy based on Japanese folklore is beautifully written. And it’s a stand alone novel!
Yoshifuji is a man fascinated by foxes, a man discontented and troubled by the meaning of life. A misstep at court forces him to retire to his long-deserted country estate, to rethink his plans and contemplate the next move that might return him to favor and guarantee his family’s prosperity.
Kitsune is a young fox who is fascinated by the large creatures that have suddenly invaded her world. She is drawn to them and to Yoshifuji. She comes to love him and will do anything to become a human woman to be with him.
Shikujo is Yoshifuji’s wife, ashamed of her husband, yet in love with him and uncertain of her role in his world. She is confused by his fascination with the creatures of the wood, and especially the foxes that she knows in her heart are harbingers of danger. She sees him slipping away and is determined to win him back from the wild … for all that she has her own fox-related secret.
Magic binds them all. And in the making (and breaking) of oaths and honors, the patterns of their lives will be changed forever.
Undertow by Elizabeth Bear
I want to read everything by Elizabeth Bear. I haven’t read much of her science fiction and this is also one of those all-too-rare stand alone speculative fiction books.
An excerpt from Undertow can be read on the publisher’s website.
A frontier world on the back end of nowhere is the sort of place people go to get lost. And some of those people have secrets worth hiding, secrets that can change the future–assuming there is one. . . .
André Deschênes is a hired assassin, but he wants to be so much more. If only he can find a teacher who will forgive his murderous past–and train him to manipulate odds and control probability. It’s called the art of conjuring, and it’s André’s only route to freedom. For the world he lives on is run by the ruthless Charter Trade Company, and his floating city, Novo Haven, is little more than a company town where humans and aliens alike either work for one tyrannical family–or are destroyed by it. But beneath Novo Haven’s murky waters, within its tangled bayous, reedy banks, and back alleys, revolution is stirring. And one more death may be all it takes to shift the balance. . . .
Fortune’s Blight (Shattered Kingdoms #2) by Evie Manieri
Fortune’s Blight will be available on February 17 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from the first book in the series, Blood’s Pride, is available on Tor.com.
The second book in a compelling epic fantasy series takes place after the Shadari revolution, as danger beckons across the sea—a stirring adventure in the vein of Karen Miller and Robin Hobb.
Victory for the Shadari rebels has come at a terrible price. Hardship, superstition, and petty feuds poison King Daryan’s young reign, and entire families are vanishing without a trace. Help is nowhere to be found, for their Nomas allies have troubles of their own and the Mongrel, plagued by the sins of her violent past, has disappeared.
While Daryan struggles to maintain the peace, Eofar and Rho are racing to their northern homeland to plead—or fight—for the Shadar’s independence. But Norland has changed, and they soon find themselves embroiled in the court politics of an empire about to implode. Meanwhile, the Mongrel’s path carries her deep into Norland’s frozen wastes to redeem a promise—one that forces her into the heart of the growing conflict.
As the foundations of the two farflung countries begin to crack, an enigmatic figure watches from a tower room in Ravindal Castle. She is old, and a prisoner, but her reach is long, and her patience is about to be rewarded….
The Providence of Fire (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #2) by Brian Staveley
The Providence of Fire will be available on January 13 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The prologue and the first six chapters can be read on Tor.com, as well as the first seven chapters from The Emperor’s Blades, the first book in the series.
Brian Staveley’s The Providence of Fire, the second novel in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, a gripping new epic fantasy series.
The conspiracy to destroy the ruling family of the Annurian Empire is far from over.
Having learned the identity of her father’s assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, the people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy. Unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn, renegade member of the empire’s most elite fighting force, has allied with the invading nomads. The terrible choices each of them has made may make war between them inevitable.
Between Valyn and Adare is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with the help of two strange companions. The knowledge they possess of the secret history that shapes these events could save Annur or destroy it.
Unbreakable (The Chronicles of Promise Paen #1) by W. C. Bauers
This debut military science fiction novel will be released on January 13 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from Unbreakable is available on Tor.com.
The colonists of the planet Montana are accustomed to being ignored. Situated in the buffer zone between two rival human empires, their world is a backwater: remote, provincial, independently minded. Even as a provisional member of the Republic of Aligned Worlds, Montana merits little consideration—until it becomes the flashpoint in an impending interstellar war.
When pirate raids threaten to destabilize the region, the RAW deploys its mechanized armored infantry to deal with the situation. Leading the assault is Marine Corps Lieutenant and Montanan expatriate Promise Paen of Victor Company. Years earlier, Promise was driven to join the Marines after her father was killed by such a raid. Payback is sweet, but it comes at a tremendous and devastating cost. And Promise is in no way happy to be back on her birthworld, not even when she is hailed as a hero by the planet’s populace, including its colorful president. Making matters even worse: Promise is persistently haunted by the voice of her dead mother.
Meanwhile, the RAW’s most bitter rival, the Lusitanian Empire, has been watching events unfold in the Montana system with interest. Their forces have been awaiting the right moment to gain a beachhead in Republic territory, and with Promise’s Marines decimated, they believe the time to strike is now.
Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers is character driven, military science in the tradition of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.
The Whispering Swarm (The Sanctuary of the White Friars #1) by Michael Moorcock
The Whispering Swarm will be released on January 13 (hardcover and ebook with audiobook release on February 10). An excerpt from this upcoming novel is available on Tor.com.
Back in the Thirteenth Century, King Henry III granted a plot of land in the heart of London to an order of Friars known as the Carmelites. In return, they entered into a compact with God to guard a holy object. This sanctuary became a refuge for many of ill-repute, as the Friars cast no judgment and took in all who were in search of solace.
Known as Alsatia, it did not suffer like the rest of the world. No Plague affected it. No Great Fire burned it. No Blitz destroyed it. Within its walls lies a secret to existence – one that has been kept since the dawn of time – a bevy of creation, where reality and romance, life and death, imaginary and real share the same world.
One young man’s entrance into this realm sends a shockwave of chaos through time. What lies at the center of this sacred realm is threatened for the first time in human existence.
Science fiction and fantasy legend Michael Moorcock launches his first new trilogy in ten years with The Whispering Swarm.