First Watch by Dale Lucas
Release Date:  Early Aug
There’s been a lot of buzz about this one, and though I’ve only just started my copy I’m really enjoying it. At first glance, you’d be forgiven for being reminded of Terry Pratchett‘s City Watch books. This isn’t the same though. It is funny in parts in a dark kind of way, but it’s basically a police procedural crime novel in a fantasy city and as a result mostly pretty serious. The law, such as it is, and applying more often to the poor than the rich, in Yenara City is enforced by The Watch. Underfunded, undermanned and under-respected. However, when Ren finds himself in a cell after a drunken brawl, joining up looks like good move. Now he’s partnered with a club wielding dwarf who doesn’t like him and is looking for a murderer in a city where the usual suspects are Orcs, Mages and mind reading Elves. I’m a fantasy and a crime fan, and so far the parts that I’ve read seem to work pretty well on both fronts.
Age of Assassins by RJ Barker
Release Date:  Early Aug
There has been a lot of talk in the lead up to this release because, as recent years have shown, there’s a very nice market for fantasy assassin protagonists. Fans of authors like Brent Weeks, David Chandler, Ken Grimwood, Jay Kristoff and bunch of others are always looking for another character to follow skulking across a dark roof. Such a character is Girton Club-Foot. Apprenticed to a master assassin and with his training incomplete, he is nevertheless accompanying his master in a mission that is as important as it is unusual. Their task this time is to prevent a death rather than cause one. Someone is trying to kill the heir to the throne and the powers that be believe that the best thing to set against an assassin is another assassin. The kingdom is on the brink of civil war and the court is filled with intrigue and lies and at least one traitor. Girton is trained in murder not politics but as he’s finding, both can be deadly.
The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden
Release Date:  Early Aug
I heard about this one a while ago and have been eagerly awaiting its arrival.  It’s a debut science fiction novel set in a robot-filled future South Africa. Moreover it’s a positive looking future, which is a bit of an oddity in current near future SF. It’s not all good however and while renewable energy, eco friendly infrastructure and the ubiquitous robots are making life better for most people, there are still problems. One is a nasty new hallucinogenic drug, another is an emerging A.I. Uprising. But probably the most important is the fact that an ancient demigoddess is stalking the land powering herself quite literally on the blood of the masses and would like to return to her former power and glory. The job of stopping her will fall to a young Zulu girl with frightening powers, a queer teen able to control minds, a pop diva, and a politician.  An interesting mix of science fiction, cyberpunk and urban fantasy that’s for anyone who is looking for something different.


Rage of Ares by Christian Cameron
Release Date:  Early Aug
I’m a fan of historical fiction, particularly ancient history, so I’m predisposed to like these. They’re also very well written with great sense of place and cool characters. Thirdly Christian Cameron also writes great fantasy under the name Miles Cameron, so I’m pretty much inclined just to assume I’ll like anything he writes. This is the sixth book in the Long War series and is set during the Persian Wars roughly 492 BCE to 479 BCE. In this book Arimnestos one of the heroes of the battle of Marathon finds himself back in his home territory of Plataea. He’s seen a lot since he was sold into slavery all those years ago. But nostalgia will have to wait because while after the defeat of his navy at Salamis, The Persian King Xerxes the Great has returned to Persia, the rest of his army remains in Greece.  On the plains of Platea, behind rough fortifications waits the Persian infantry, while toward them march a combined army of forces from all over Greece. The battle that follows will become the stuff of legend.
Princess of Blood by Tom Lloyd
Release Date:  Early Aug
Stranger of Tempest was one of my favourite fantasy books of last year, so I’m pleased that this month we’ll be getting a sequel. This will be in the same small format hard cover as the first book. We’re back with Lynx and the other mercenaries, and as usual Lynx isn’t happy. Toil the assassin now has the rank of Princess of Blood in the unit in keeping with their structure based on a deck of playing cards. Their new mission is to escort a dignitary to the city of Jarrazir. Escort missions always sound easy and then get complicated when it turns out there was something important you weren’t told.  At least that’s Lynx’s experience. So he’s waiting for the other shoe to drop and wondering if it’s even possible for them to stay out of trouble in a city as pious and conservative as Jarazir. There’s also the famous labyrinth under the city to worry about. There’s no reason for him to worry about it really, since the job won’t require them to go anywhere near it, but Lynx knows his own luck and since right now being underground is the last thing he wants he knows it’s probably going to be where he ends up.
Stone Sky by N K Jemisin
Release Date:  Mid Aug
This is the eagerly anticipated finale to the Broken Earth trilogy and as anyone who’s been following the store for a while will guess, we’re pretty excited about it. We read the first, Hugo Award-winning book The Fifth Season for our book club and then waited impatiently for book two, The Obelisk Gate. If you haven’t read that one then you may want to stop reading here, since there’s no way to talk about book three without book two spoilers. Still here? Ok, book two ended with Essun asking how to bring back The Moon and now it is returning, but whether this is a good or bad thing is yet to be determined. It will be down to the choice of two women with vast power but very different agendas. Essun, who now wields the power of Alabaster Tenring believes that her society can be saved and that a future free from oppression is possible for the orogene. Her daughter Nassun has come to the opposite conclusion and that only a complete destruction of the old world is the solution. Two women opposed. Hope and despair. Mother and Daughter.


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Nothing Short of Dying by Erik Storey
Release Date:  Early Aug
This is a new one for fans of Lee Child and James Phelan and fits neatly into the ‘tough guy’ crime/ thriller category. Clyde Barr has been a lot of things in his life. Hunter, soldier, mercenary and most recently, convict. Now he’s free he only wants the quiet life he’s made for himself in country Utah. Then his sister calls, frightened, and asking for his help. The call is cut off before he can ask for more information, but he already has all he needs to set his feet on path that leads him back to a family he hasn’t seen in sixteen years. Clyde is not comfortable with people, crowds and the modern world. He’s seen too many things, done too many things to ever really be like the people around him. He’s a good man with the skills of a killer and as the people who’ve taken his sister will discover, he’ll do anything to protect the people he loves. One of the quirks of this book is that it’s told in the first person, which is a bit unusual for this sort of book, but it works and I think it adds something to the read. Other than that there’s nothing particularly new or innovative here, but it has great pace and action and a pretty cool addition to the ‘tough guy’ roster.  This is the paperback release and is being offered for the special price of $14.99.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss
Release Date  Early Aug
I’ll be honest and admit that I like a good mash-up or reworking of a classic. I’m also a fan of early science fiction and horror, which is why I’m so intrigued by the new book by Theodora Goss. The Strange Case of The Alchemist’s Daughter begins with Mary Jekyll who has been left destitute by the sudden death of her parents. As desperate for answers as she is for money, she sets out to find her father’s former friend and the man thought to be responsible for his death, Mr Hyde. There is a significant reward for his capture and she has heard he’s nearby. What her pursuit actually uncovers is Hyde’s daughter Diana, a feral child raised by nuns. With the aid of the great Sherlock Holmes she continues her search for Hyde encountering other women who understand the strange and mysterious all too well. Catherine Moreau and Justine Frankenstein have their own tales to relate, and together these women discover that there is something larger that unites their experiences. A secret society of scientists is trying to recreate the horrors familiar to all of them and they may be the only ones who can stop them.
Shape of Things to Come by HG Wells
Release Date:  Early Aug
This is another release under the SF Masterworks imprint, and an appropriate one given the interest in dystopian fiction at the moment. Written in 1933 it purports to be a collation by Wells of the notes of a recently deceased diplomat. The notes are a patchy recollection of a vision / dream that the man had of reading a history textbook from 2106. Starting from the present (1933) and moving forward, each chapter covers a period of thirty to eighty years and ends with totalitarian world government in 2106. Along the way Wells offers a series of predictions and warnings, some very accurate others not. He also explores ideas about freedom and religion as well as models of society. There are a lot of really interesting observations in this book, and Wells appears to have been quite perceptive with regard to economic and technological changes though often not taking the idea far enough. The staggered chapter style of the book means that it’s less confronting than the more personal books like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Swastika Night, but it’s just as interesting and I highly recommend it.


City Dreaming by Daniel Polansky
Release Date:  Early Aug
The fact than I’m a fan of Daniel Polansky‘s books is no secret. I’ve been recommending his Low Town fantasy series for years and have featured both of his Empty Throne books in newsletters and on the website. So it’s not really a surprise that I’m excited by his new book A City Dreaming. But it’s more than just my fondness for his work at play here. This is a great book, even if you’ve never read anything by him before. Unlike his previous books, this is urban fantasy and along with shifting the genre he’s writing in, Polansky is also trying something different in terms of style. Rather than a straight linear narrative, this is a collection of linked short pieces that each tell their own story while also contributing to an ongoing plot that runs through the book. Primarily it’s about two things, the City of New York and its magical underbelly and M, one of its residents. M is a bit of a layabout, possessed of limited magical ability and even less scruples. He’s someone who’d rather avoid trouble, which is a shame since he seems to be a magnet for it. His current situation is about to send him all over the city, use every bit of magic and call on every favour owed to keep his home going the way of Atlantis. Along the way he’ll encounter the literal wolves of Wall Street, drug addled divinities, hipster zombies and uncover the utterly unhelpful truth about why there are so many coffee shops around lately.
Noumenon by Marina J Lostetter
Release Date:  Early Aug
The Generation Ship is a popular one in science fiction. If you haven’t decided to use a work-around for travelling at faster than the speed of light, then your trip is going to take lifetimes to get to even the closest stars. There are a lot of variations on this theme, and a lot of books where it works, or goes wrong, in interesting ways. In Noumenon, Marina J Lostetter seems to have taken one I haven’t encountered before. It starts in 2088, as humanity begins to explore beyond the solar system. A scientist has observed a star that seems to defy the laws of physics. A mission is proposed to investigate. The star is distant and the trip will take hundreds of lifetimes to complete. To preserve the genetic talent of the crew, a cloning process is agreed upon with each generation of clones to continue the work of their predecessors and hand on the task to those that follow. The cloning process is not perfect however and tiny variations begin to creep in. What arrives at the mysterious star may be nothing like what set out. And what they find may beyond all human understanding. With a nod to Arthur C. Clarke‘s Rama series and an interest in detail reminiscent of Neal Stepehenson‘s Seveneves this looks like an interesting new addition to science fiction to-read lists.
The Gentleman by Forrest Leo
Release Date:  Mid Aug
Since I don’t get previews of everything and even if I did there wouldn’t be time enough to read them all, I’ll often order something just because the publicity information sounds cool.
With The Gentleman by Forrest Leo it feels like someone set out deliberately to tick all my curiosity boxes. The plot is simple. Lionel Savage a popular but broke poet marries a wealthy heiress only to discover that while now financially secure, he has now lost the inspiration to write. In the depth of depression and contemplating suicide, he inadvertently summons the Devil to one of the society parties his new status obliges him to hold. Unexpectedly, the Devil is a charming guest and sympathetic to Lionel’s problems. After the Devil leaves at the end of the party Lionel makes two startling discoveries. Firstly, he seems to have accidentally sold his wife to the Devil, and secondly that despite the fact that his marriage is one of convenience, he actually loves her. There’s nothing for it but for Lionel to put together a rescue party containing a bookseller, a swashbuckling Buddhist, and inventor, his recently expelled kid sister and his Butler. Together they’ll navigate the mystical back streets of London and attempt to pull off the most amazing prison break since Orpheus. Or possibly get arrested as anarchists. This sounds like a mash up of P.G. Wodehouse and Ben Aaronovitch and I’m really looking forward to getting one.