Today I have an excerpt from Steven Erikson’s new novella The Wurms of Blearmouth—and three copies of it to give away! I haven’t read this book yet, but I have read and enjoyed the first two novellas set in the universe of Malazan Book of the Fallen. I hope you enjoy the excerpt, and you can fill out the form at the end to enter to win a copy!

The Wurms of Blearmouth by Steven Erikson

The Wurms of Blearmouth
By Steven Erikson
Excerpt: Pages 7-10

 

“Behold!” Arms spread wide and braced against the wind, Lord Fangatooth Claw the Render paused and glanced back at Scribe Coingood. “See how this bold perch incites me to declamation, Scribe?” His narrow, hawkish features darkened. “Why are you not writing?”

Scribe Coingood wiped a drip from his nose, worked his numb fingers for a moment, and then scratched out the one word onto the tablet. Here atop the high tower, it was so cold that the wax on the tablet had chipped and flaked beneath the polished bone point of his scribe. He could barely make out the word he had just written, and the biting ice in his eyes didn’t help matters. Squinting against the buffeting wind, he hunched down, pulling tighter his furs, but that did nothing to ease his shivering.

He cursed his own madness that had brought him to West Elingarth’s Forgotten Holding. He also cursed this insane sorcerer for whom he now worked. He cursed this rotting keep and its swaying tower. He cursed the town below: Spendrugle of Blearmouth was a hovel, its population cowering under the tyranny of its new lord. He cursed the abominable weather of this jutting spur of land, thrashed by the wild ocean on three sides on most days, barring those times when the wind swung round to howl its way down from the north, cutting across the treeless blight that stretched inland all the way to yet another storm-wracked ocean, six days distant. He cursed his mother, and the time when he was seven and looked in on his sister’s room and saw things—oh, what was the point? There were plenty of reasons a man had to curse, and with infernal intimacy he knew most of them.

His dreams of wealth and privilege had suffered the fate of a lame hare on the Plain of Wolves, chewed up and torn to bits; and the wind had long since taken away those tattered remnants: the tufts of blood-matted fur, the wisps of white throat-down, and the well-gnawed splinters of bone. All of it gone, scattered across the blasted landscape of his future.

Chewing on the end of his graver, Coingood considered setting that description down in his secret diaries. A lame hare on the Plain of Wolves. Yes, that’s me all right … was that me or my dreams, that hare? Never mind, it’s not like there’s a difference. Not when he was huddled here atop the tower, miserably subject to his lord’s whim, and Hood knew, a manic, eye-gleaming whim it was.

“Have you written it down now, Scribe? Gods below, if I’d known you were so slow I would never have hired you! Tell me, what did I say? I’ve forgotten. Read it back, damn you!”

“M-m-master, y’said … er … ‘Behold!’”

“Is that it? Didn’t I say anything more?”

“S-s-something ’bout a bold p-p-perch, M-m-milord.”

Lord Fangatooth waved one long-fingered, skeletal hand. “Never mind that. I’ve told you about my asides. They’re just that. Asides. Where was I?”

“‘Behold!’”

The lord faced outward again, defiant against the roaring seas, and struck a pose looming ominously over the town. “Behold! Oh, and note my widespread arms as I face this wild, whore-whipped sea. Oh, and that wretched town directly below, and how it kneels quivering like an abject slave. Note, too, the grey skies, and that fierce colour of … grey. What else? Fill the scene, fool!”

Coingood started scratching furiously on the tablet.

Watching him, Fangatooth made circular, tumbling motions with one hand. “More! Details! We are in the throes of creativity here!”

“I b-b-beg you, m-m-milord, I’m j-j-just a s-s-scribe, n-n-not a poet!”

“Anyone who can write has all the qualifications necessary for artistic genius! Now, where was I? Oh, right. Behold!” He fell silent, and after a long, quivering moment, he slowly lowered his arms. “Well,” he said. “That will do for now. Go below, Scribe, and stoke up the fires and the implements of torture. I feel in need of a visit to my beloved brother.”

Coingood hobbled his way to the trapdoor.

“Next time I say ‘Behold!’,” Fangatooth said behind him, “don’t interrupt!”

“I w-w-won’t, M-m-milord. P-p-promise!”

 

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Erikson

Courtesy of Tor Books, I have three copies of The Wurms of Blearmouth to give away! Residents of the US are eligible to win.

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Wurms Giveaway.” One entry per person and three winners will be randomly selected. Those from the US are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Friday, July 18. Each winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I haven’t heard from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winners. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: Now that the giveaway is over, the form has been removed.

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. 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.

This week brought a few books in the mail, plus I received another book order containing some books published by Strange Chemistry that I want to read. As I mentioned previously, young adult speculative fiction publisher Strange Chemistry is no longer releasing books. Last week I talked about a couple of their other books I purchased, and I started reading Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen. I haven’t wanted to put it down—it’s every bit as good as I’d heard!

A couple of the books that showed up this week are ones that I already discussed:

The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish (The Assassin’s Curse #1-2) by Cassandra Rose Clarke

This duology arrived in the aforementioned book order. I’ve heard they’re very good, and it’s a complete set although The Wizard’s Promise, the first book in a related duology, was released a couple of months ago.

The Assassin’s Curse and The Pirate’s Wish are available in paperback and ebook, and there are also a couple of related short stories available in ebook (The Witch’s Betrayal and The Automaton’s Treasure). An excerpt from The Assassin’s Curse is available online, and the description below is for this book since it’s the first of the two.

 

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to another pirate clan. But that only prompts the scorned clan to send an assassin after her. When Ananna faces him down one night, armed with magic she doesn’t really know how to use, she accidentally activates a curse binding them together.

To break the spell, Ananna and the assassin must complete three impossible tasks–all while grappling with evil wizards, floating islands, haughty manticores, runaway nobility, strange magic…and the growing romantic tension between them.

The Wurms of Blearmouth by Steven Erikson

The Wurms of Blearmouth (The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach #5) by Steven Erikson

The Wurms of Blearmouth, which is supposed to take place after the end of the third Malazan Book of the Fallen novella The Lees of Laughter’s End, will be released on July 8 (hardcover, ebook, trade paperback). An excerpt from The Wurms of Blearmouth is available on Tor.com.

I’ve read the first two of these novellas, Blood Follows and The Healthy Dead. They were very enjoyable, darkly humorous books, and neither took very long to read at all.

 

A new novella from New York Times bestselling author Steven Erikson, set in the world of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, The Wurms of Blearmouth.

Tyranny comes in many guises, and tyrants thrive in palaces and one-room hovels, in back alleys and playgrounds. Tyrants abound on the verges of civilization, where disorder frays the rule of civil conduct and propriety surrenders to brutal imposition. Millions are made to kneel and yet more millions die horrible deaths in a welter of suffering and misery.

But leave all that behind and plunge into escapist fantasy of the most irrelevant kind, and in the ragged wake of the tale told in Lees of Laughter’s End, those most civil adventurers, Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, along with their suitably phlegmatic manservant, Emancipor Reese, make gentle landing upon a peaceful beach, beneath a quaint village at the foot of a majestic castle. There they make acquaintance with the soft-hearted and generous folk of Spendrugle, which lies at the mouth of the Blear River and falls under the benign rule of the Lord of Wurms in his lovely keep.

Make welcome, then, to Spendrugle’s memorable residents, including the man who should have stayed dead, the woman whose prayers should never have been answered, the tax collector everyone ignores, the ex-husband town militiaman who never married, the beachcomber who lives in his own beard, the now singular lizard cat who used to be plural, and the girl who likes to pee in your lap. And of course, hovering over all, the denizen of the castle keep, Lord—Ah, but there lies this tale.

The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi

The Causal Angel (Jean de Flambeur #3) by Hannu Rajaniemi

The Causal Angel will be released on July 15 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt is available on Tor.com.

The first two books in this series are as follows:

  1. The Quantum Thief (Read an Excerpt)
  2. The Fractal Prince
 

With his infectious love of storytelling in all its forms, his rich characterization and his unrivaled grasp of thrillingly bizarre cutting-edge science, Hannu Rajaniemi swiftly set a new benchmark for Science Fiction in the 21st century. Now, with his third novel, he completes the tale of the many lives, and minds, of gentleman rogue Jean de Flambeur.

Influenced as much by the fin de siècle novels of Maurice leBlanc as he is by the greats of SF, Rajaniemi weaves intricate, warm capers through dazzling science, extraordinary visions of a wild future,and deep conjectures on the nature of reality and story.

In The Causal Angel we will discover the ultimate fates of Jean, his employer Miele, the independently minded ship Perhonnen, and the rest of a fractured and diverse humanity flung throughout the solar system.

Skin of the Wolf by Sam Cabot

Skin of the Wolf by Sam Cabot

Skin of the Wolf, a sequel to Blood of the Lamb, will be released on July 31 (hardcover, ebook).

 

Sam Cabot is the pseudonym of Carlos Dews and S.J. Rozan. In Sam Cabot’s exhilarating new novel, a vicious murder in Sotheby’s begins a series of inexplicable events surrounding an Iroquois ritual mask—and a secret that could unleash the most terrifying chaos and destruction the world has ever seen.

Months after Father Thomas Kelly, art historian Livia Pietro, and scholar Spencer George found themselves racing through Rome in a desperate effort to locate and preserve an incalculably valuable docu-ment, the three are about to be reunited in New York City. Thomas, still trying to assimilate what he learned—that vam¬pires exist, and that Livia and Spencer are among them—is looking forward to seeing Livia again. Livia is excited to be allowed into the back room of Sotheby’s for an exclusive viewing of an ancient Iroquois mask. And Spencer’s in love. But before the three can meet, Spencer is badly injured when he’s inexplicably attacked in Central Park—by a wolf.

That same night, a Sotheby’s employee is found brutally murdered. Steps from her body is the mysterious native mask, undamaged amid the wreckage of a strug¬gle. As rumors begin to swirl around the sacred object, Thomas, Livia, and Spencer are plunged deep into a world where money, Native American lore, and the history of the Catholic Church collide. They uncover an alarming secret: The wolf is a shapeshifter, and the mask contains a power that, if misused, could destroy millions of lives with the next full moon.

In Skin of the Wolf, Sam Cabot masterfully blends historical fact, backroom conspiracy, and all-encompassing alternate reality as the Noantri discover they aren’t the only humans set apart by their natures—there are Others.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is one of those rare books that can seem difficult to find: a stand alone fantasy novel. Although I must say, I sincerely hope it does not remain that way since I loved the characters and world and would very much like to read a sequel.

 

[The messenger] looked from Setheris to Maia and said, “Are you the Archduke Maia Drazhar, only child of Varenechibel the Fourth and Chenelo Drazharan?”

“Yes,” Maia said, bewildered.

And then bewilderment compounded bewilderment, as the messenger deliberately and with perfect dignity prostrated himself on the threadbare rug. “Your Imperial Serenity,” he said. [pp. 12]

The Emperor of the Elflands despised his fourth goblin wife and, by extension, their son Maia. After the death of his mother, Maia was sent away from court to live with Setheris, a caretaker assigned by his father who also hated this half-goblin boy.

As the ruler of the Elflands has ignored his youngest son through the years, it comes as a surprise when a messenger from court arrives at eighteen-year-old Maia’s home in the middle of the night, presumably with a message from his father. Maia is awakened to greet the messenger, but when he does he is shocked to be greeted in a manner only befitting the emperor himself. This messenger has not come directly from his father but carries the news that the emperor and Maia’s three older half-brothers are dead, leaving Maia next in line to the title of Emperor of the Elflands—a role he is woefully unprepared for even after being raised to observe court manners, having spent very little time at court.

With the aid of his advisers, Maia begins his life at the palace and is crowned Edrehasivar VII. Soon after his coronation but shortly before his father’s funeral, he is attended by those who are investigating the remains of the Wisdom of Choharo, the airship that crashed with his father and half-brothers aboard. They inform him that the investigation revealed that their deaths were not an accident. Maia immediately attempts to discover the truth about who murdered his family; while he had no fondness for his father, his people deserve to know what happened to their emperor and the others who died with him. However, Maia’s methods of seeking the truth anger some who are unhappy that he is now emperor, and he continues to face obstacles to his reign: both those who do not want the youngest, unfamiliar, half-goblin son of their Emperor in power and his own inexperience with the ways of court.

The Goblin Emperor was at the top of my list of most anticipated book releases of 2014. Katherine Addison is a pseudonym of Sarah Monette, and her Doctrine of Labyrinth series beginning with Melusine is one of my favorite fantasy series of all time. The two main characters are deeply flawed, complex, and memorable characters with strongly written, unique voices. After the release of the last book in the series in 2009, I have been impatiently awaiting a new novel from this amazing author and I was not disappointed. While The Goblin Emperor is vastly different from Monette’s other series, it is a skillfully written, compelling story like Doctrine of Labyrinth and one of my favorite books I have read this year.

My personal preference is for Doctrine of Labyrinth with its focus on complex personalities and characterization, but I completely understand that these books may be too dark, depressing, and full of angst for some readers’ tastes. The Goblin Emperor is in many ways the opposite of this. Maia’s life certainly hasn’t been easy—his mother, the only person who loved him, died when he was young, and his father hated him and sent him away to live under the “care” of a cruel, abusive man. The story begins with Maia’s ascension to emperor, though, and while this certainly does not mean his life is perfect and problem-free (or that the past has no impact on his character), it does mean that his father is no longer alive and Setheris is no longer in a position to harm him. Pages are not spent on the deep torment of Maia’s soul, nor is his life from this point on a series of terrible events. Also, Maia is not a character who wallows in despair but one who moves forward.

Though he’s not hopelessly terrible at it, he’s not well versed in politics or court intrigue, but he learns and also tries to effect change for the better. Maia is exactly the type of person one would hope to have in power: one who truly cares about what is best for his people, one who realizes he doesn’t always know best and can take advice from others, and one who can overturn traditions if he’s not convinced there is a good reason for them. He’s not the most complex or unpredictable character since he is someone who will always try to do what is right, but it’s refreshing to read about a good person who is also capable.

That’s not to say Maia is one of those characters I find boring, the unbelievably pure of heart. Sometimes Maia does have unkind yet perfectly reasonable thoughts, such as when he secretly does not want to properly mourn his father at his funeral. He does so anyway because he does not feel it is fair to the people who are mourning him, even if his father failed to properly respect his mother at her funeral. At times, Maia has brief outbursts of temper but is also quick to apologize (which is shocking to others—emperors do not apologize!). I thought he was realistic as a person who is generally good but not so overflowing with goodness that it’s difficult to believe. He also faces many challenges with his new role as emperor, and the way he handles them makes reading about him interesting. I loved Maia; he’s an easy character to relate to and root for.

The Goblin Emperor is a wonderfully written book with a lot of detail. It’s a book with naming conventions, formal speech, and history, and I did find it difficult to keep track of all the names at times. There are a lot of long names, and there are a lot of characters introduced when Maia goes to court, making the glossary at the end of the book very useful. This added a wonderful richness to the book, but I also had to be in the right frame of mind to read it (I caught a cold when I was partway through it and I had to read another less dense book since I was unable to absorb this while not feeling well).

I tend to be wary of fantasy that includes goblins and had this book not been by a favorite author I would have been hesitant to pick it up. After all, when I think of most of the goblins I’ve come across in fiction they’re stupid, dull, evil, and one-dimensional. That is not the case in this book, and goblins and elves are both capable of a range of personalities. They have some differences in appearance and cultural traditions, but they’re not sorted into simplistic categories as they sometimes are in fiction.

The Goblin Emperor is a wonderful story with some politics and court intrigue, and Maia is a memorable, lovable character as one who is pure of heart without being sickeningly so. At its core, The Goblin Emperor is about a young ruler learning to rule and navigate court, and the way he excels and challenges the status quo because of the same inexperience that is at first an obstacle. It’s well-written and compelling with vivid scenes, and I truly hope that there is a sequel someday—or at the very least, another book set in this world. Although, really, I’d read anything by Katherine Addison.

My Rating: 9/10

Where I got my reading copy: Finished copy from the publisher.

Read Chapters 1-4

Other Reviews of The Goblin Emperor:

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. 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.

This week brought a few books in the mail, including a gift from my husband and my book order containing a couple of Strange Chemistry books that I have been wanting to read. I was rather sad to see the recent announcement that Strange Chemistry was discontinued. There were many authors who had books scheduled for release through them that have been left without a publisher, including some debut authors whose books had not yet been published.

If there are books you had planned to get someday that were published by Strange Chemistry, now would be a good time to purchase them, as Martha Wells stated in her blog post about the discontinuation of this line. I ended up getting two books I’ve been interested in reading for awhile that are each the first in a new series. While it may be frustrating to read them not knowing what will happen with future installments, the more copies that are sold, the better the chance that there will be future installments.

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

This one is a gift from my husband, and it is one of the books from my wishlist that I was more excited about. I love stories about trickster gods, and I have heard that this book is excellent. It’s hard to see the detail in the cover from the image, but it also has a beautiful cover.

The Gospel of Loki was released in the UK earlier this year and is currently available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Excerpts from The Gospel of Loki:

  1. Foreword
  2. Chapter One
  3. Chapter Two
 

The first adult epic fantasy novel from multi-million copy bestselling author of CHOCOLAT, Joanne Harris.

The novel is a brilliant first-person narrative of the rise and fall of the Norse gods – retold from the point of view of the world’s ultimate trickster, Loki. It tells the story of Loki’s recruitment from the underworld of Chaos, his many exploits on behalf of his one-eyed master, Odin, through to his eventual betrayal of the gods and the fall of Asgard itself. Using her life-long passion for the Norse myths, Joanne Harris has created a vibrant and powerful fantasy novel.

Loki, that’s me.

Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.

So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role.

Now it’s my turn to take the stage.

With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge.

From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster.

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

I have seen a lot of positive reviews for Stolen Songbird, a fairly recent Strange Chemistry release. The first three chapters from Stolen Songbird can be read online.

 

For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy…

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.

Cracked by Eliza Crewe

Cracked (Soul Eaters #1) by Eliza Crewe

Cracked was released toward the end of last year, and sadly, the second book in the series was scheduled to come out at the end of the summer before the closing of its publisher. Some people did read the Crushed ARC, and it has quite a few very positive reviews on Goodreads. Of course, I’ve also heard that Cracked is very good, which is why I want to read it!

 

Meet Meda. She eats people.

Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.

They can do what she can do. They’re like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda’s kind. This is her chance! Play along with the “good guys” and she’ll finally figure out what, exactly, her ‘kind’ is.

Be careful what you wish for. Playing capture the flag with her mortal enemies, babysitting a teenage boy with a hero complex, and trying to keep one step ahead of a too-clever girl are bad enough. But the Hunger is gaining on her.

The more she learns, the worse it gets. And when Meda uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny… she may finally give into it.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

This collection of graphic stories will be released on July 15 (hardcover, paperback, ebook). A sample is available on the Simon & Schuster website, and there is also a preview on Comics & Cola.

 

Discover a terrifying world in the woods in this collection of five hauntingly beautiful graphic stories that includes the online webcomic sensation “His Face All Red,” in print for the first time.

Journey through the woods in this sinister, compellingly spooky collection that features four brand-new stories and one phenomenally popular tale in print for the first time. These are fairy tales gone seriously wrong, where you can travel to “Our Neighbor’s House”—though coming back might be a problem. Or find yourself a young bride in a house that holds a terrible secret in “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold.” You might try to figure out what is haunting “My Friend Janna,” or discover that your brother’s fiancée may not be what she seems in “The Nesting Place.” And of course you must revisit the horror of “His Face All Red,” the breakout webcomic hit that has been gorgeously translated to the printed page.

Already revered for her work online, award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll’s stunning visual style and impeccable pacing is on grand display in this entrancing anthology, her print debut.

Unwept by Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman

Unwept (The Nightbirds #1) by Tracy and Laura Hickman

This book, the first in a trilogy, will be released on July 1 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from Unwept is available on Tor.com.

 

Gamin, Maine, is a remote seaside town where everyone seems to know Ellis Harkington better than she knows herself—but she doesn’t remember any of them.

Unknown events have robbed Ellis of her memory. Concerned individuals, who purport to be her friends and loved ones, insist that she simply needs to recuperate, that her memories may return in time, but refuse to divulge what has brought her to this state. For her own sake, so they say.

Ellis finds herself adrift in a town of ominous mysteries, cryptic hints, and disturbingly familiar strangers. The Nightbirds, a clique of fashionable young men and women, claim her as one of their own, but who among them can she truly trust? And what of the phantom suitor who visits her in her dreams? Is he a memory, a figment of her imagination, or a living nightmare beyond rational explanation?

Only her lost past hold the answers she seeks—if she can uncover its secrets before she fall prey to an unearthly killer.

All Those Vanished Engines by Paul Park

All Those Vanished Engines by Paul Park

This science fiction novel will be released on July 1 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from All Those Vanished Engines is available on Tor.com.

 

In All Those Vanished Engines, Paul Park returns to science fiction after a decade spent on the impressive four-volume A Princess of Roumania fantasy, with an extraordinary, intense, compressed SF novel in three parts, each set in its own alternate-history universe. The sections are all rooted in Virginia and the Battle of the Crater, and are also grounded in the real history of the Park family, from differing points of view. They are all gorgeously imaginative and carefully constructed, and reverberate richly with one another.

The first section is set in the aftermath of the Civil War, in a world in which the Queen of the North has negotiated a two-nation settlement. The second, taking place in northwestern Massachusetts, investigates a secret project during World War II, in a time somewhat like the present. The third is set in the near-future United States, with aliens from history.

The cumulative effect is awesome. There hasn’t been a three part novel this ambitious in science fiction since Gene Wolfe’s classic The Fifth Head of Cerberus.

Two Fronts by Harry Turtledove Last Orders by Harry Turtledove

Two Fronts and Last Orders (The War That Came Early #5-6) by Harry Turtledove

Last Orders, the conclusion to The War That Came Early, will be released on July 15 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The paperback edition of the previous book in the series, Two Fronts, was recently released. An excerpt from Two Fronts is available on the Random House website.

The previous books in the series are:

  1. Hitler’s War (Excerpt)
  2. West and East (Excerpt)
  3. The Big Switch (Excerpt)
  4. Coup d’Etat (Excerpt)

Since I already included the description for Two Fronts with the hardcover release, the description below is for Last Orders.

 

In an extraordinary saga of nations locked in war, master storyteller Harry Turtledove tells the story of World War II, which begins over Czechoslovakia rather than Poland, eleven months earlier than it really came. Now we have the final installment in Turtledove’s landmark World War II series.

Hitler’s Plan A was to win in a hurry, striking hard and deep into France. There was no Plan B. Now the war grinds on. Countries have been forced into strange alliances. The Nazis fortify thin lines with Hungarian and Romanian troops. England, finding its footing after the suspicious death of Winston Churchill and a coup d’état, fights back in Europe and on the seas of the North Atlantic. Jews fight on both sides of the war—in secret in German uniform, openly in Spain, France, and Russia. Into the standoff come new killing tools, from tanks to bazookas. In the Pacific, Japan prepares bombs filled with macabre biological concoctions to be dropped on Hawaii.

For the U.S., the only enemy is Japan, as there has been no casus belli for America in Europe. Then Hitler becomes desperate and declares war on the United States. But is it too late? His own people are rising up in revolt. The German military may have to put down the violence, even perhaps bomb its own cities.

In this epic drama, real men and women are shaped by the carnage, and their individual acts in turn shape history: a Czech sniper fighting with the Republicans in Spain changes the war almost single-handedly. In Philadelphia, an American woman meets a scientist who reveals a momentous secret.

Drawing on the gritty, personal reality of war and on a cast of unforgettable characters, Harry Turtledove has written an alternate history that intrigues, fascinates, and astounds.

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. 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.

This week brought a few books, including three I’ve already mentioned here. Here’s more information on them in case you missed them the first time:

Before I get to the rest of the books, there are a few things I want to mention:

Last week, I hosted the cover reveal for Julie Czerneda’s upcoming fantasy novel, A Play of Shadow (Night’s Edge #2). She and cover artist Matt Stawicki also shared some insight into the process of developing the cover, and there are still a few days left to enter to win a copy of A Turn of Light (Night’s Edge #1).

I was very sad to read the news that Angry Robot’s YA imprint Strange Chemistry was discontinued and will not be publishing any more books. Martha Wells, whose books Emilie and the Hollow World and Emilie and the Sky World were published through them, blogged about it and said that it’s a good time to get any Strange Chemistry books you want and that this would help the authors. A list of books published by Strange Chemistry is here. I ordered a couple of Strange Chemistry books I’ve been wanting to read the night of this announcement and will talk about them in more detail after they arrive, but I purchased Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen and Cracked by Eliza Crewe after hearing both of these are excellent books (links go to reviews).  My personal favorite Strange Chemistry book I’ve read is Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier, and you can read more about this news and possibilities for future books on the author’s blog.

Now on to the rest of the books!

Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith

Radiant (Towers Trilogy #1) by Karina Sumner-Smith

Radiant will be released on September 2 (paperback, ebook). I’m really excited about reading this one since it sounds very compelling, plus I liked the small sample from it that I read. While this is the author’s first novel, she has written several short stories including the 2006 Nebula-nominated story “An End to All Things,” which this upcoming futuristic fantasy novel is based on.

 

Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body—any body—so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless—until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

With two extremely strong female protagonists, Radiant is a story of fighting for what you believe in and finding strength that you never thought you had.

The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler

The Shadow Throne (The Shadow Campaigns #2) by Django Wexler

The Shadow Throne will be released on July 1 (hardcover, ebook). I haven’t yet read the first book in the series, The Thousand Names, but I’ve heard it’s quite good. There is also currently a US/Canada giveaway on Goodreads for 12 paperback copies of the first book, and an excerpt from The Thousand Names is available on Tor.com.

 

Anyone can plot a coup or fire an assassin’s bullet. But in a world of muskets and magic, it takes considerably more to seize the throne.

The ailing King of the Vordan lies on his deathbed. When he dies, his daughter, Raesinia Orboan, will become the first Queen Regnant in centuries—and a ripe target for the ambitious men who seek to control her. The most dangerous of these is Duke Orlanko, Minister of Information and master of the secret police. Having meticulously silenced his adversaries through intimidation, imprisonment, and execution, Orlanko is the most feared man in the kingdom.

And he knows an arcane secret that puts Raesinia completely at his mercy.

Exposure would mean ruin, but Raesinia is determined to find a way to break herself—and her country—out of Orlanko’s iron grip. She finds unlikely allies in the returning war hero Janus bet Vhalnich, fresh from a brilliant campaign in the colony of Khandar, and his loyal deputies, Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Lieutenant Winter Ihernglass.

As Marcus and Winter struggle to find their places in the home they never thought they would see again, they help Janus and Raesinia set in motion events that could free Vordan from Orlanko’s influence—at the price of throwing the nation into chaos. But with the people suffering under the Duke’s tyranny, they intend to protect the kingdom with every power they can command, earthly or otherwise.

The Dark Defiles (US cover) The Dark Defiles by Richard K. Morgan

The Dark Defiles (A Land Fit for Heroes #3) by Richard K. Morgan

The Dark Defiles will be released on October 7 in the US (paperback, ebook) and November 20 in the UK (hardcover, ebook). The US cover is on the left above and the UK cover on the right. I usually just use the cover for the copy of the book I have, but since the ARC doesn’t have a cover I didn’t realize the first cover I found wasn’t the US cover and was planning to use it. After I realized it was the UK cover, I found the US one and didn’t think it was nearly as interesting, so I decided to show both cover images.

The first two books in this trilogy are as follows:

  1. The Steel Remains (Read an Excerpt)
  2. The Cold Commands (Look Inside This Book)
 

Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold meets George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones in the final novel in Richard K. Morgan’s epic A Land Fit for Heroes trilogy, which burst onto the fantasy scene with The Steel Remains and The Cold Commands.

Ringil Eskiath, a reluctant hero viewed as a corrupt degenerate by the very people who demand his help, has traveled far in search of the Illwrack Changeling, a deathless human sorcerer-warrior raised by the bloodthirsty Aldrain, former rulers of the world. Separated from his companions—Egar the Dragonbane and Archeth—Ringil risks his soul to master a deadly magic that alone can challenge the might of the Changeling. While Archeth and the Dragonbane embark on a trail of blood and tears that ends up exposing long-buried secrets, Ringil finds himself tested as never before, with his life and all existence hanging in the balance.

The High Druid's Blade by Terry Brooks

The High Druid’s Blade: The Defenders of Shannara by Terry Brooks

The High Druid’s Blade, a stand alone Shannara book, will be released on July 8 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). Visit the author’s website for more information or to read the first two chapters.

 

Legend has it that Paxon Leah is descended from the royals and warriors who once ruled the Highlands and waged war with magical weapons. But those kings, queens, and heroes are long gone, and there is nothing enchanted about the antique sword that hangs above Paxon’s fireplace. Running his family’s modest shipping business, Paxon leads a quiet life—until extraordinary circumstances overturn his simple world . . . and rewrite his destiny.

When his brash young sister is abducted by a menacing stranger, Paxon races to her rescue with the only weapon he can find. And in a harrowing duel, he is stunned to discover powerful magic unleashed within him—and within his ancestors’ ancient blade. But his formidable new ability is dangerous in untrained hands, and Paxon must master it quickly because his nearly fatal clash with the dark sorcerer Arcannen won’t be his last. Leaving behind home and hearth, he journeys to the keep of the fabled Druid order to learn the secrets of magic and earn the right to become their sworn protector.

But treachery is afoot deep in the Druids’ ranks. And the blackest of sorcery is twisting a helpless innocent into a murderous agent of evil. To halt an insidious plot that threatens not only the Druid order but all the Four Lands, Paxon Leah must summon the profound magic in his blood and the legendary mettle of his elders in the battle fate has chosen him to fight.

Today I’m excited to reveal the cover for Julie E. Czerneda’s upcoming fantasy novel A Play of Shadow! I’m also thrilled that both the author and cover artist Matt Stawicki are sharing some insight into the process of creating the art for it. A Play of Shadow, the second book in the Night’s Edge series, will be released in November 2014—and there’s an opportunity to enter to win the first book in the series, A Turn of Light, at the end of this post!

I hope you enjoy seeing the cover and reading about its development as much as I did!

A Play of Shadow
(click to enlarge)

Thank you, Kristen and Fantasy Book Café, for hosting the cover reveal of my new book! – Julie Czerneda (And for letting us talk about it too.)

You Start with Turtles…

Ah, cover art. The artist sits down–in a comfy chair–reads the whole book–loving it while absorbing all the detail necessary for visual art–then voila! springs from that chair, brush or equivalent in hand, to produce the finished illustration–satisfying everyone involved–before moving on to the next book. In, say, a week.

Julie: “What do you think, Matt? Have I caught the essence?” (Because voila! here he is in person!)

Matt: “I wish! But, that’s not exactly the way it goes. Usually I’m given either the manuscript or an abridged version of it. As I read the information I take notes or highlight areas that I think may be good for a cover scene. From there I usually start doing small very loose sketches. After that I refine the sketches I like, once I’ve chosen a direction or several directions that will be presented to the client.”

There goes my image of the artist-as-relaxing while I suffer. Kidding aside, folks, unless you’re both author and artist–and there are those amazing people out there–and have time to do both–again, even amazing people cannot do it all–cover art involves a high degree of professional collaboration and working to everyone’s deadlines. Some covers (whistles innocently) need to be done before the book’s finished, to be included in catalogues etc. Then there are those pesky “details.” We writer-types rely on the imagination of readers for many of those. Sometimes, too much.

Julie: “Matt? What do you find is usually under-described by an author?”

Matt: “That really depends on the author. Some have a real knack for describing the environment or even emotion or relationships. Others write in a very character-driven manner, where every detail of the characters themselves is described.”

Take note, new writers. Best to do both! Generally speaking, the author’s role is to write the book. Unless the artist is like Matt, who does read quite a bit, the editor, or art director, will pick out the scene (or a few for the artist to choose from) that best suits the house style as well as marketing needs. Trust me, you don’t want your light-hearted romantic fantasy with a horror cover. From then on, it’s between the publisher and artist. As Matt mentioned, there’ll be one or more sketches for comment, revision, and ultimate approval, followed by the final work of art. When does the author come in again?

Opens package, or file. Sits back. Cries, “Oh, my final art! Shiny!!!” (Hopefully.)

Over the years I’ve become more involved than most authors in my cover art, a trust and privilege I owe to my editor and publisher, Sheila Gilbert of DAW Books. Knowing the time frame for production of my books, I propose a scene (or a few) for the cover first of all. Sheila decides which would be best, then I write a couple of descriptive paragraphs for that moment in the story along with a few pages of character and setting detail. Where I can, I add photo references. Off goes the package to the artist.

Until this book.When I say the cover of A Play of Shadow started with a turtle? It did. I knew mad and magical turtles would be a feature in the sequel, as house toads are in A Turn of Light. (Matt, your toad on the cover of the first book is amazing–complete with pointy teeth!) What sort of turtle? I’d read of the work of Dr. Abigail (Abby) Dominy with terrapins and was enchanted to learn they have markings visible only in UV light. In the Night’s Edge series, what you see depends on when you look. Sunset reveals the magical. Perfect!

So there’d be turtles. I sent Matt, with her kind permission, Abby’s reference material.

Julie: “I admit to curiosity, Matt. What was your first reaction to ‘turtles?’”

Matt: “Turtles you say, huh? Actually, I have to say that after the toads in ‘Turn of Light’ I wasn’t really all that surprised. Julie, you have a wonderful way of incorporating a whimsical quality into these magical worlds that I really like. It kind of reminds me of Alice in Wonderland a little bit.”

Julie, blushing. “Thank you!”

Of course, turtles alone, however delightful, wouldn’t be enough. Fortunately, I had a setting in mind, one in which turtles fit nicely. San Antonio’s Riverwalk was my inspiration.

San Antonio’s Riverwalk
CREDIT: Roger Czerneda Photography
(click to enlarge)

References for that were easy. We’d been there! My other half, Roger, had a wealth of gorgeous photos and I sent a selection of those to Matt, who nailed everything about this astonishing place, plus mimrol, magic, and lighting. Though there was that clamour at the very last minute for little red eyeballs.

Julie: “Sorry about the eyeballs, Matt.”

Matt: “Eyeballs happen. The San Antonio Riverwalk was an great environment as a point of reference for this piece. I have family in Texas and have been there many times as a kid and loved it! This was a great opportunity to finally get to bring it to life in a fantasy painting!”

Julie: “Whew! I mean, I didn’t know that, I’m so pleased!”

Last and most importantly, characters. While there are as many cover styles as there are books, Play had to have the main characters as well as turtles and setting. Preferably at a fraught and interesting moment. Oh, but that was easy. What do turtles most resemble? Stepping stones! How better to trap the unwary visitor? Matt, I love how you captured Bannan and Jenn just as realization dawns. (There were three versions at the sketch stage; this was our favourite.) Also, see the three people on the bridge? Big moment indeed. The scene almost wrote itself from the visual.

A Play of Shadow Sketches
CREDIT: Matthew Stawicki
(click to enlarge)

But the very best thing about this cover? The clothes! As for Turn, clothing was part of the world-building, and I’d already decided on the sensibilities of the Naalish. I sent Matt my notes, including a photo of the purse Bannan would carry. The result blew me away!

To the point where I did something I’ve never done before.

When it came time to write my description of the clothing within the story, I asked Matt if he’d proofread it for me, which he did, most helpfully.

Julie: “Was that a first for you too, Matt?”

Matt: “It was a first. Usually I don’t have as much direct contact with the author at all. As Julie mentioned, DAW is a great company to work for because they let their artists and authors have quite a bit of leeway and contact during the process.”

The result you see here and will read there. People sometimes complain covers don’t match what’s in the book. I promise you, there couldn’t be a closer match than this. For me, the entire process was fun, inspiring, and pure delight. I want to thank Matt–and Sheila, who was very involved throughout–for the result.

And my turtles.

You can enjoy more of Matt’s amazing work at www.mattstawicki.com and begin reading A Play of Shadow starting tomorrow at www.czerneda.com!


Since 1997, Canadian author/editor Julie E. Czerneda has poured her love of biology into SF novels published by DAW Books NY. Her latest work is the fantasy A Turn of Light, set in the valley of Marrowdell, itself based in large part on early pioneer settlements. There are house toads as well as dragons, and not all is what it seems. Coming fall 2014: Species Imperative, the 10th anniversary omnibus edition of her acclaimed SF trilogy, and A Play of Shadow, sequel to Turn and next in what is now the“Night’s Edge” series. Julie’s currently hard at work on the concluding trilogy to her Clan Chronicles series (Reunification), between breaks to canoe into the wild. Visit www.czerneda.com for more.

I have one copy of the first book in the Night’s Edge series, A Turn of Light, to give away to one resident of the US or Canada!

A Turn of Light by Julie E. Czerneda

About A Turn of Light:

The village of Marrowdell is an isolated pioneer community, but it is also the place where two worlds overlap, and at the turn of light–sunset–the world of magic known as the Verge can briefly be seen.

Jenn Nalynn belongs to both Verge and Marrowdell, but even she doesn’t know how special she is–or that her invisible friend Wisp is actually a dragon sent to guard her… and keep her from leaving the valley. But Jenn longs to see the world, and thinking that a husband will help her reach this goal, she decides to create one using spells. Of course, everything goes awry, and suddenly her “invisible friend” has been transformed into a man. But he is not the only newcomer to Marrowdell, and far from the most dangerous of those who are suddenly finding their way to the valley…

Read Chapter One

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “A Turn of Light Giveaway.” One entry per person and one winner will be randomly selected. Those from the US or Canada are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Wednesday, June 25. The winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: Now that the giveaway is over, the form has been removed.