Here are some fantasy/scifi books that are fairly new or forthcoming this year. This is based only on what I’ve seen available on Amazon since I have no special insider knowledge about what is coming out, but Amazon is usually fairly reliable. Looking at this list makes me wish I were British, they get all the good books first!

New Books

Midnight Tides, #5 Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK

Note: This is new to the U.S. only, since we get these books later than everyone else. I’m hoping we’ll be caught up soon, though, since I noticed we’re getting the 6th book The Bonehunters in September of this year.

Flesh and Spirit, #1 The Lighthouse Duet by Carol Berg

Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK

Brasyl by Ian McDonald

Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK

Reaper’s Gale, #7 Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

Amazon Canada (available June 26)
Amazon UK

Forthcoming

Night of Knives: A Novel of the Malazan Empire by Ian Cameron Esslemont

Amazon Canada (available July 24)
Amazon UK (available June 4)

Black Man/Thirteen (U.S. title) by Richard Morgan

Amazon US (available June 26)
Amazon Canada (available July 1)
Amazon UK (available July 21)

Red Seas Under Red Skies, #2 Gentleman Bastards by Scott Lynch

Amazon US (available July 31)
Amazon Canada (available August 1)
Amazon UK (available June 21)


The Hanging Mountains, #3 Book of the Cataclysm by Sean Williams

Amazon US (available June 5, although seems to be in stock)
Amazon Canada (available July 10)
Amazon UK
(available June 5, although seems to be in stock)

Renegade’s Magic, #2 Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Amazon UK (available July 2)

Kushiel’s Justice, #5 Kushiel’s Legacy by Jacqueline Carey

Amazon US (available June 14)
Amazon Canada (available June 14)
Amazon UK (available June 14)

The Well of Ascension, #2 Mistborn by Brian Sanderson

Amazon US (available August 21)
Amazon Canada (available August 21)
Amazon UK (available August 21)

The Dreaming Void, #1 Void trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton

Amazon US (available March 25, 2008)
Amazon Canada (available August 3)
Amazon UK (available August 3)

Spook Country by William Gibson

Amazon US (available August 7)
Amazon Canada (available August 7)
Amazon UK (available August 2)

Making Money, Discworld by Terry Pratchett

Amazon US (available October 1)
Amazon Canada (available October 2)
Amazon UK (available September 24)

Empire of Ivory, #4 Temeraire by Naomi Novik

Amazon US
(available September 25)
Amazon Canada (available September 25)
Amazon UK (available November 25)

A Sword from Red Ice, #3 Sword of Shadows by J.V. Jones

Amazon UK (available October)

The Bonehunters, #6 Malazan Book of the Fallen

Amazon US (available September 18)
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK

Scarlet, #2 King Raven trilogy by Stephen Lawhead

Amazon US (available September 4)
Amazon Canada (available September 4)
Amazon UK (available August 23)

Confessor, Chainfire Trilogy Part 3, #11 Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind

Amazon US (available November 13)
Amazon Canada (available November 13)
Amazon UK (available November 19)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, #7 Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Amazon US (available July 21)
Amazon Canada (available July 21)
Amazon UK (available July 21)

May
27
2007

Going Postal, one of the newer Discworld books by Terry Pratchett (the newest with the exception of Thud!), stars a new character by the (real) name of Moist von Lipwig. Moist, a con artist whose description reminded me a lot of Locke Lamora, is on death row under his assumed name of Alfred Spangler. To his surprise, Moist finds himself in Patrician Vetinari’s office instead of in Death’s domain after his hanging. Vetinari gives him a choice: he can either die or he can run Ankh-Morpork’s Post Office.

So Moist becomes the Postmaster, and he changes to the Post Office for the better with the invention of stamps. He finds himself in competition with the head of Ankh-Morporks clacks system, which is reminiscent of the modern email system – generally faster and better but also more technical and down for maintenance a lot.

As is the case with a lot of the newer Discworld books, Going Postal is more serious – which isn’t to say it’s completely serious but it’s a lot less zany than some of the older books. There has been a definite change of tone in the books, starting around Night Watch. Pratchett seems to be moving away from some of the older characters like Rincewind and the witches and focusing more on introducing newer characters and writing about the City Watch. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since the City Watch includes some of the better characters and the witches and Rincewind were not as interesting (although there are certain books about them that were quite good). I do miss some of the zaniness that I remember from older books such as Guards! Guards!, however.

Despite it’s somewhat more serious tone, Going Postal is still a very enjoyable book which introduces a very fun new character with Moist von Lipwig (who I hear Pratchett is going to use in his next book, Making Money, which comes out this fall).

7/10

I have a long weekend so hopefully I’ll be able to get some reading done and get some more posts up here. I’m currently reading Going Postal by Pratchett. Not sure what I’ll read after that, although I’m considering reading Patrick Rothfuss’s debut The Name of the Wind.

In the meantime, I wanted to add some books I wouldn’t recommend. A lot of people would probably disagree with some of these, but these are books I didn’t find worth reading. They’re not even horrible books (thank you Amazon for helping me to steer clear of a lot of crap) – just ones that I’d skip because there’s a lot of better stuff out there.

Deborah Chester’s The Sword, the Ring, and the Chalice trilogy

The first book was extremely boring and I didn’t think I’d pick up the next one and then the very end was interesting enough to make me decide to finish the trilogy (particularly since I’m cursed with the need to know what happens once I start a series – along with the curse that makes me almost always finish a book once I start it no matter how much I’m not enjoying it). It did pick up after the first book, but it was still just ok. I also found it annoying that she had this almost elvish race – they seem like elves, the name is almost elf (eldin), just call them elves already since that’s obviously what they are.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time

Yeah, I know. These are much loved by many, and I have read all the books currently out other than the prequel, which is sitting on one of my bookshelves along with the rest of the series. They aren’t bad books, and they can be entertaining, and I can even see why a lot of people love them… but I don’t think they’re good enough to be worth the time it takes to slog through them. There’s too much detail and toward the end they get slow, and some of the characters are really annoying. Jordan does not write women very well at all. They’re all too bitchy too constantly. And I really didn’t find it to be particularly original – he mixed in a lot of mythology, which I generally like, but he wasn’t subtle enough about it for my taste but instead hits the reader over the head with very obvious comparisons. I didn’t start reading these until there were 10 books already, so I may have just gotten into fantasy too late to see the magic in them – especially since I had already read series like A Song of Ice and Fire, Robin Hobb’s Assassins/Liveship Traders/Tawny Man books, and Lord of the Rings. As I said, I did read through these, and I enjoyed some of them, but I’m not so sure they’re worth the trouble of reading, and the more books I read, the more I’m finding there’s a whole lot I like a lot better than this series.

That’s all I can think of at the moment that I’ve read in its entirety that I really wouldn’t recommend (in the speculative fiction category anyway). Then there are the books I haven’t read completely that I wouldn’t recommend based on what I have read.

If you didn’t already want to throw things at me for including Wheel of Time, you might for this one…

Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash

I heard so much about this book from so many people that I expected it to be spectacular. One of these people let me borrow the book, and I just couldn’t get into it at all. It may just be that it was so hyped for so long that there was no way it could live up to my expectations, but I found it really boring. My friend wanted her book back so she could lend it to another friend, and it was taking me forever to read it, so I gave it back to her before I could finish it and haven’t been inspired to pick it up again since then. I feel like I should give Stephenson another chance, maybe with another book, since I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. Maybe someday.

Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series

I have not read a single book in this series, so it may not be completely fair of me to put this on the anti-recommendation list. However, I have read excerpts from various books in the series and descriptions of the plot and it just looks really bad. The samples of writing I’ve seen includes things I remember being told to avoid when learning about writing in elementary school. It may be fun to read for the entertainment value (in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 kind of way), if you don’t mind reading a bunch of doorstopper books to get to that point. I have Wizard’s First Rule from when I didn’t know much about what was out there for fantasy (then I heard things that put it on the bottom of my list of reading priorities) and considered reading it for the pure entertainment value and read the first page or so. Then I decided I didn’t want to go through hundreds of pages of drivel just for a few entertaining moments. I have attempted to read through some of the main character’s speeches I’ve come across and I couldn’t do it. Way too long and dull. Maybe I’ll give it a try if I run out of books to read, but that will never happen.

Then there are the books I refuse to read based on the awful things I have heard about them:

The Symphony of Ages series by Elizabeth Haydon (From what I hear, the main character Rhapsody is the worst Mary Sue character ever)

The Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini (supposed to be cliched)

Chronicles of Blood and Stone by Robert Newcomb (supposed to be generally horrible)

I just saw a trailer for this movie (based on the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman) and it looks really good!

Golden Compass Movie Trailer

It’s supposed to be coming to theaters on December 7th of this year. I’ve had the books for a couple of years but haven’t read them yet – I’d better read them fairly soon.

At one point, I posted my 5 favorite series (which are subject to change based on mood and new books I’ve read, although I know Song of Ice and Fire or the Robin Hobb books will never be off the list based on my mood). I’m in a writing mood so I’m now going to post other sci fi and fantasy books worth reading, in no particular order.

Neil Gaiman’s Sandman – Yes, it’s a comic book series. It’s also still got some of the greatest characters and stories I’ve ever read (and is one of those series that would be in my top 5 at times). There was a bit of an upset when one of these stories won a World Fantasy Award for short story since it was a comic book, and I might have been enough of a snob before reading them that I would have agreed. Now I think it is completely deserved. They’re great deep tales that tie in all kinds of mythology.

Books:
1. Preludes and Nocturnes
2. The Doll’s House
3. Dream Country
4. Season of Mists
5. A Game of You
6. Fables and Reflections
7. Brief Lives
8. World’s End
9. The Kindly Ones
10. The Wake

(Stand alone more or less)
The Dream Hunters
Endless Nights

Death comics (related):
Death: The High Cost of Living
Death: The Time of Your Life

Asimov’s Robot mysteries – The first one Caves of Steel was just ok. Because of this, it was a while before I picked up the rest of the books in the series, but once I had, I was glad I did. Each book got progressively better and the last two were written after Asimov had started to actually get better at writing style. I liked the sympathetic view of R. Daneel a lot and liked these better than Asimov’s more famous Foundation novels.

Books:
1. The Caves of Steel
2. The Naked Sun
3. The Robots of Dawn
4. Robots and Empire

Asimov’s Foundation novels – Yes, I liked the Robot mysteries better, but these were still interesting and worth reading. The first book in the series, Foundation, is also the weakest of the bunch since it jumps between characters a lot. Psychohistory is an interesting concept, though.

Original trilogy:
1. Foundation
2. Foundation and Empire
3. Second Foundation

Prequels:
1. Prelude to Foundation
2. Forward the Foundation

Later sequels to the original trilogy:
1. Foundation’s Edge
2. Foundation and Earth

Note: These were not written in chronological order. If you wanted to read them in actual order, you would want to read the two prequels, then the original trilogy, then Foundation’s Edge, followed by Foundation and Earth. I read the original trilogy, then the prequels, then the last two.

Greg Keyes’s Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone – Some of the characters are stereotypical, but some like the composer are different. It’s a fun story and it’s got some nice humor sometimes. I think the comparisons to Martin are unwarranted since it’s not at that level of story or characterization, but it’s still a good series. I’m looking forward to the next book, The Born Queen, which I’ve heard is supposed to come out in November of this year (but I just looked it up on Amazon and that says January 2008, so who knows).

Books:
1. The Briar King
2. The Blood Knight
3. The Charnel Prince

Stephen Lawhead’s Pendragon Cycle – Another Arthurian myth series. The first three books are really good and the two after that aren’t as good as the first three.

Books:
1. Taliesin
2. Merlin
3. Arthur
4. Pendragon
5. Grail

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (of course) – Beautiful story, although a bit slow at times, and of course everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows about them.

Books:
1. The Fellowship of the Ring
2. The Two Towers
3. Return of the King

(And of course, don’t miss The Hobbit, which I’d recommend reading first.)

Nancy Kress’s Beggars trilogy – Lots of ideas are packed into this science fiction trilogy, especially the first book. I loved Beggars in Spain, the first book, but found the second book in the trilogy a little hard to trudge through. The last book was much better, although not as good as the first one.

Books:
1. Beggars in Spain
2. Beggars and Choosers
3. Beggars Ride

Carol Berg’s Rai-kirah trilogy – Very underrated series, in my opinion. A lot of people haven’t heard of it but it is wonderful. The first book in this trilogy, Transformation, has made it into my top 10 favorites. The character development and story were amazing and I loved reading about the friendship between Seyonne and Aleksander. The next two books were a lot deeper and I found the concepts of truth and reality very intriguing, but I still just loved the story in the first book the most.

Books:
1. Transformation
2. Revelation
3. Restoration

Note: The first book in Carol Berg’s new series just came out. It’s called Flesh and Spirit and it looks really good – I added it to my wishlist! She keeps a plog on amazon that is interesting to read. She seems really nice and down to earth and actually interested in conversing with her fans.

Carol Berg’s Song of the Beast – This stand alone book was not as good as the Rai-Kirah trilogy, but it was still pretty good. The ending was a bit abrupt and disappointing, but other than that, it was a good book.

Morgan Llywelyn’s Red Branch – Morgan Llywelyn writes fiction with Celtic themes and this retelling of the myth of Cuchulain was very enjoyable.

Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn – Another classic of fantasy. Beautiful bittersweet tale.

R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt books – I’d only recommend these if you enjoy playing D&D. They’re not deep, they’re not amazing or original other than the idea of a “good” drow elf, but they are fun, quick, adventurous reads.

Books (in chronological order, not the order in which they were written):

Dark Elf trilogy
1. Homeland
2. Exile
3. Sojourn

Icewind Dale trilogy
1. The Crystal Shard
2. Streams of Silver
3. The Halfling’s Gem

Legacy of the Drow tetralogy:
1. The Legacy
2. Starless Night
3. Siege of Darkness
4. Passage to Dawn

Paths of Darkness tetralogy:
1. The Silent Blade
2. The Spine of the World
3. Servant of the Shard
4. Sea of Swords

Hunter’s Blades trilogy:
1. The Thousand Orcs
2. The Lone Drow
3. The Two Swords

The Sellswords trilogy:
1. Servant of the Shard
Note: This is the same book as the third book in the Paths of Darkness set. It’s about Jarlaxle and Entreri and the next two books in this trilogy are sequels to it.
2. Promise of the Witch-King
3. Road of the Patriarch

Orson Scott Card’s Ender/Shadow books – Some of these were really good, while others were not very good. Ender’s Game is, of course, a modern sci fi classic. The sequel, Speaker for the Dead, is my favorite Orson Scott Card novel – it was very thought-provoking and sympathetic to other cultures and I really like books about understanding others and why they do the things they do. The next two Ender books were good, but not as good as the first two. Next Card wrote some books about Ender’s friend Bean who appeared in Ender’s Game. Ender’s Shadow was also really good and still was very different from Ender’s Game even though it was kind of the same story from Bean’s perspective instead of Ender’s. The Shadow of the Hegemony wasn’t very good and Shadow Puppets was way, way too preachy. I haven’t read the last book yet, although I’ve heard it’s an improvement on the last couple of books.

Ender Books:
1. Ender’s Game
2. Speaker for the Dead
3. Xenocide
4. Children of the Mind

Shadow Books:
1. Ender’s Shadow
2. Shadow of the Hegemony
3. Shadow Puppets
4. Shadow of the Giant

David Farland’s The Runelords – The writing in the first book is horrible, but it does get better (although it’s still not wonderful after that). This is one of those series where the world and ideas are better than the writing and the story, but there’s enough interesting and unique concepts in it to make it a decent series. Plus a lot of the ethical questions that come up are rather thought-provoking. It seems fresh for the first three books, after that they start getting a bit old. The end of the fourth book is abrupt. The fifth book is actually about the main character Gaborn’s son and is the start of a new series.

Books:
1. The Sum of All Men
2. Brotherhood of the Wolf
3. Wizardborn
4. Lair of Bones
5. Sons of the Oak

Robin McKinley’s Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast – This is actually a young adult novel I read when I was about 9 or 10 years old, but I loved it so much then that I always remembered it and looked for it again a few years ago. I reread it then and I still love it as much as I did then. I love retold fairy tales. I’ve also read McKinley’s Spindle’s End and Rose Daughter about Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast again, respectively, and liked them as well, but Beauty is still my favorite. The Hero and the Crown is another fun young adult novel by her. They should really appeal to girls since she writes nice female-centered fantasy.

Of course, I’d also recommend The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, but I have a whole review on that book.

May
20
2007

Fans of signed speculative fiction books may want to check out The Signed Page, which has signed copies of Richard K. Morgan’s Thirteen and Black Man and Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Justice available for pre-order. There are also signed copies of Martin’s A Feast for Crows currently in stock (I wish I’d known about this page when Storm of Swords came out – how I would love a signed first edition copy of that.) It’s a page worth checking out once in a while anyway if you’re into signed books. I got my fiance to pre-order me a personalized copy of Midnight Tides by Erikson, which I can’t wait to get!

They’re also going to have copies of Robin Hobb’s Renegade’s Magic available for pre-order soon. I might get that one, too, since I have a signed copy of Forest Mage (and Golden Fool, for that matter).