Before getting to the books, just a couple of things for this week. Currently I’m working on a review of Blameless by Gail Carriger so I’m hoping to have that up soon. On Thursday Cinda Williams Chima, author of The Demon King and its newly released sequel The Exiled Queen, will be here talking about her experiences with research for writing fantasy – and why fantasy writers need to do their research even if their world is made up.

So this week I bought one book I couldn’t resist even though it is short and I think I may be trying to avoid short books this month in order to get caught up on some of these reviews. I just read 8 short-ish books in a row plus I’m probably going to be working some on setting up existing posts with the new site design format. I also received two books in the mail that both look interesting and will be coming out early next year.

The Sworn by Gail Z. Martin

The Sworn is the first book in the Fallen Kings Cycle, and it picks up after Dark Lady’s Chosen. Even though this is a continuation of The Chronicles of the Necromancer books, it is supposed to be a decent starting point for those who have not yet read any of the series (thus the new series title). The author’s website has the first chapter available to read or listen to. The Sworn will be on sale on January 25, 2011.

Summoner-King Martris Drayke must attempt to meet this great threat, gathering an army from a country ravaged by civil war. Tris seeks new allies from among the living – and the dead – as an untested generation of rulers face their first battle. Meanwhile, the legendary Dread are stirring in their burrows after millennia of silence and no one knows what hand wakes them and whom they will serve when they rise.

Now, Drayke turns to the Sworn, a nomadic clan of warriors bound to protect the Dread. But even the mighty Sworn do not know what will happen when the Dread awake. All are certain, though, that war is coming to the Winter Kingdoms.

THE SWORN is the beginning of a new adventure set in the world of The Chronicles of the Necromancer.

Masques by Patricia Briggs

As I’m sure you know by now, I adore the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Masques is her first novel, and it was just re-released this past week after being out of print for a while. Although it was rewritten some for the new release, Briggs says on her website that she mostly left the plot alone even though she can see things she would have done differently now. Wolfsbane, the sequel which has never before been released, will be available on November 2 of this year.

After an upbringing of proper behavior and oppressive expectations, Aralorn fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy. Her latest mission involves spying on the increasingly powerful sorcerer Geoffrey ae’Magi. But in a war against an enemy armed with the powers of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is-or where he will strike next?

The Fallen Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

This is the first book in the Vampire Assassin trilogy and Jon Courtenay Grimwood’s fantasy debut (he has written some science fiction novels, two of which have won the British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel). It’s set in 15th century Venice and it has assassins so it looks pretty intriguing to me. It will be on sale on January 27, 2011.

In the depths of night, customs officers board a galley in a harbor and overpower its guards. In the hold they find oil and silver, and a naked boy chained to the bulkhead. Stunningly beautiful but half-starved, the boy has no name. The officers break the boy’s chains to rescue him, but he escapes.

Venice is at the height of its power. In theory Duke Marco commands. But Marco is a simpleton so his aunt and uncle rule in his stead. They command the seas, tax the colonies, and, like those in power before them, fear assassins better than their own.

In a side chapel, Marco’s fifteen-year old cousin prays for deliverance from her forced marriage. It is her bad fortune to be there when Mamluk pirates break in to steal a chalice, but it is the Mamluks’ good luck – they kidnap her.

In the gardens beside the chapel, Atilo, the Duke’s chief assassin, prepares to kill his latest victim. Having cut the man’s throat, he turns back, having heard a noise, and finds a boy crouched over the dying man, drinking blood from the wound. The speed with which the boy dodges a dagger and scales a wall stuns Atilo. And the assassin knows he has to find the boy.

Not to kill him, but because he’s finally found what he thought he would never find. Someone fit to be his apprentice.