Brief Cases by Jim Butcher
Release Date: Mid June
There are some Jim Butcher fans who are likely to see this and think ‘but I thought the next book was going to be Peace Talks’. You’re right, that’s the plan but it’s been four years since the last Harry Dresden book came out and folks were getting restless. Jim has been writing Dresden Files stuff since Skin Game but it’s been short stories that have appeared in mixed anthologies. Much like his earlier book Side Jobs, this one brings together most of the recent short fiction and adds a brand new novella. If you’re one of those fans who find everything by an author and will buy a whole anthology just for one story, then much of this will not be new. If you’re not, then you’ve got a bunch of new Dresden to tide you over till the next novel. Unfortunately there’s no information of when that’s likely to happen, so you may want to spread out your reading of the stories to make it last. 
Ravencry by Ed McDonald
Release Date: Late June
It’s probably not going to be a surprise that I’m very excited about this one. Unfortunately I’ve had no luck scrounging a preview copy, so I can’t tell you if it live up to the promise of the first book in the series, Blackwing. What I’ve been able to find out suggests that we’re back with Galharrow as the Deep Kings, who are not as set back as the end of the last books suggested, resume their attacks against humanity. Again he has to try and make sense of Crowfoot’s often cryptic orders while investigating reports of visions of the ‘Bright Lady’ across the city and the cult that has grown around them. Never content with a single problem or enemy Galharrow learns that something of immense power has been stolen from Corwfoot’s vault and that recovering it requires him to venture into the worst part of the worst place he can imagine, the very heart of the magical desolation called The Misery. 
Season of Storms by Andrzej Sapkowski
Release Date: Early June
The latest book in the Witcher series is set in the early days of Geralt’s travels. Strictly speaking it’s a novel rather than a short story collection, but there are a lot of subplots that have a short story feel to them. There are some links to the main series, but not may and the book pretty much hangs together on its own. There are also appearances from other series characters, with Dandelion getting the lion’s share of them. Chronologically, the events of this book happen after The Last Wish but before Blood of Elves. There is great world building in the series and quite good action, though Geralt is a very moody protagonist. Even though you probably could read this book without having read any of the others, I wouldn’t recommend it. Better to start with The Last Wish in my opinion. If you have read the others and like them, then this is a return to the pre-Ciri sort of thing that Geralt got up to and I think you’ll enjoy it. 


Princess of Blood by Tom Lloyd
Release date: Mid June
This is the sequel to Stranger of Tempest so 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. This is cool fantasy with a dark sense of humour for fans of Scott Lynch and Brian McClellan. 
The Quanderhorn Xperimentations by Rob Grant
Release Date: Late June
This is the book of the radio show by Rob Grant who also did the television show, and the book of the television show Red Dwarf. But this isn’t Red Dwarf, though it is Rob Grant. Clear? The Quanderhorn Xperimentations is set in London in 1952. In fact no matter how long you wait, it’ll keep being 1952. This is due to massive genius and poor impulse control of Professor Quanderhorn. To his credit, he’s also saved the world from Martian invasion, mole people, shapechanging lizards and undersea beatniks. On the other hand, his solutions tend to have spectacular side effects so his hero or villain status is a matter of personal opinion. Join him as he sets out to save the world again with the aid of his part-insect son, a captured Martian and an assistant with a partially clockwork brain. There’s also a bunch of truck driving monkeys and a giant laser if that sweetens the deal. This is for anyone who loves absurd, demented humour with a geeky twist. 
The Tall Man by Phoebe Locke
Release Date: Mid June
Slenderman is probably the best known thing to come from the internet horror-genre phenomenon of images and stories created by and shared between horror fans known as creepypasta. Unfortunately it didn’t stay on the internet and in 2014 two twelve year old girls in the U.S. lured a friend to the wood and stabbed her 19 times, supposedly to appease or curry favour with Slenderman. The victim survived and the assailants committed to psychiatric care. This is by way of context for The Tall Man. This is a horror/thriller that will keep you wondering what is and isn’t real. It follows a family with a troubled past filled with strange disappearances and worse, all connected with the legend of The Tall Man and culminating in 2018 and a teenage girl on trial for murder. The story unfolds one puzzle piece at a time, jumping backwards and forwards from 1990 to 2000 and back to 2018 till you have all the pieces and have to decide for yourself what to believe. 


Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio
Release Date: Late June
There’s been quite a lot of fuss about this one and I’m ashamed to say that I’ve only dipped into my copy, so I’m not sure where I fall on what to make of it. To begin with, it’s kind of a space-fantasy where there is inter-planetary travel but the worlds are vaguely feudal, or in this case Roman in terms of social structure. That’s probably why this book is being compared to Frank Herbert’s Dune. It’s not really like Dune other than that though and I’d be more likely to compare it to Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, but in space. It’s told in first person by Hadrian Marlowe, who from the outset tells the reader that he has done wonderful and terrible things, and that there are those who rightly call him a monster. Fleeing from a life of privilege he will face hardship and despair before finding himself the unwilling fulcrum for events that cost billions of lives. He is the narrator, though neither hero nor protagonist since much that he is responsible for was unintended from the fighting in the gladiator pits to leading armies in a galactic war. It’s an interesting idea, and a little heavy on the prose. It reminds me a bit of Ada Plamer’s Too Like the Lightning, though it’s an easier read than that. The complaint that some have had is that Marlowe’s voice is a bit to over-dramatic about his situations and problems, though I haven’t read enough to have an opinion on that yet. The intrigue, politics, action and alien interaction (yup there are aliens) are all pretty cool, but I can see how Marlowe’s long monologues might annoy some readers. Empire of Silence is also a beast of a book, my preview copy is over eight hundred pages long and it’s the first in a series so you’ll want to be ready for the long haul on this one. So far though, I’m enjoying it. 
The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn by Tyler Whitesides
Release Date: Early June
I’ve got a soft spot for rogues, always have. Something about the irreverent unwilling hero appeals to me. As a result, and like lots of people, I’m desperately waiting for the next Scott Lynch Locke Lamora book. The reason I’m mentioning this here is because The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn hits a very similar sweet spot while still being very much its own thing. Ardor Benn is a crook of the scam, sleight of hand and trickery variety. He’s very good at it too, which is why he’s been approached by an unusual employer to pull off the biggest heist of his career (and possibly as a side effect save the world). In addition to the crew of various specialists he’ll have to hire, Ardor is assisted by his long time partner in crime Raekor. Raekor provides the magical support by creating ‘Grit’, which happens to be careful mixtures of various types of dragon dung which is ignited to cause magical effects. It’s a book with a lot of good ideas and some very cool characters, though there are some that I would like to have seen more of. It’s the first book in series, so I’m expecting there will be room to develop the world and characters. This is a book that is pretty clear about what to expect and mostly delivers. It’s not perfect, but it is a fun read and I think most folks who do will be on board for book two. I’m certainly looking forward to what he does next. 
Nightflyers and Other Stories by George R R Martin
Release Date: Early June
So this not actually new as such since it’s a collection of five science fiction stories written between 1974 and 1981. Odds are that most fans won’t have seen them before, which is a shame since George actually writes pretty cool science fiction as those who picked up the reprint of Tuff Voyaging a few months ago will know. The first half of the book is a single story, the one of the title Nightflyers. Nightflyers is a combination of alien first contact and cosmic horror as a ship’s crew of academics travelling to the edge of known space looking for new life are confronted with the idea that something deadly is already in the ship with them. Nightflyers has also been adapted for a new series by Netflix. The other stories are; Overide, where technology is used to turn the dead into zombie like slave labour. Weekend in a War Zone, where a corporate retreat ‘war game’ reveals something disturbing. And Seven Times Never Kill a Man, where the colonists plan to exterminate the natives goes wrong in an unexpected way. Nor The Many-Coloured Fires of a Star Rising where a scientist investigating the origin of the universe finds out more than he expected. A Song for Lya where a psychic tries to figure out why people are joining an alien suicide cult. There are also three different editions of the book due this month, a paperback, a hard cover, and an illustrated hard cover. It’s overkill I suppose, but George R R Martin does have a massive fan base, many of whom I’m sure would like a fancy version of this one. 


Jade City by Fonda Lee
Release Date: Late June
I was sure that I’d talked about this one when it came out last year in the large paperback, but looking through my notes it seems that I didn’t. Since it’s coming out in paperback this month, I’ll amend that now. Jade City is Fonda Lee’s first adult novel and is a great mix of Asian folk lore and culture, martial arts, magic and a very stylish oriental gangster motif. Two rival crime families run the seedy underbelly of the city of Janloon. The source of their power is the jade that some rare people can draw magic from that enhances their speed and strength. Trade in jade is the lifeblood of the city, controlled by those that can use it. Now a new drug has appeared that seems to allow anyone to access the power of jade. Its arrival in Janloon shifts the balance of power and ignites old feuds into open warfare that threatens not just the crime families, but everyone in the city. This book pulls the cool bits from kung fu movies, Yakuza crime and honour movies, Hong Kong fantasy and adds a touch of an Asian style steampunk. It’s clever, has great characters moving through a fascinating world and is enormously good fun. 
The Deathless by Peter Newman
Release Date: Mid June
This is the start of a new series from the author of the Vagrant trilogy. It’s set in an entirely new world, but like the Vagrant books it’s not a typical fantasy. Set on a world filled with forests populated by voracious demons, with humans forced to live close to the crystal paths that slice through them that the demons avoid. Above them float the castles of The Deathless, humanity’s endlessly reborn nobility and guardians. The Deathless use a crystal based technology that feels part science fiction and part magic. Armour, weapons and machinery made of and powered by crystal. It’s also this technology that allows them to make new bodies to move their minds into when age, infirmity or injury render the current one useless. All is not well with The Deathless however, as rivalries and intrigue between and within the ruling houses mean that they spend as much time fighting each other as they do fighting demons. As more villages are lost to the demons, tensions increase and an act of unthinkable betrayal will shatter the balance of a thousand years and potentially doom Deathless and mortal alike. This is definitely one for fantasy fans, despite the science fiction elements, and while it is quite odd there’s plenty of action and intrigue and really interesting world building. 
The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French
Release Date: Late June
Sometimes I get sold on a book just be reading the premise. The Grey Bastards pretty much had me from the first couple of lines. This is a wonderfully gritty fantasy, full of blood, swearing and gallows humour. In a world where orcs and humans are at constant war, in the desolate borderlands between the two nations called The Lots you will find The Grey Bastards. A force of half-orc half-human soldiers who defend the human lands. Held in contempt by most of ‘civilised’ society they are nevertheless its first line of defence. Jackal is proud to be a Grey Bastard, though more out of loyalty to his half-orc brethren that the far off nobility. Large, strong and deadly in a fight he is nevertheless no fool and begins to question certain truths about himself and his world and risks uncovering a terrible secret about the Bastards that may destroy loyalties and cause kingdoms to fall. In the end it may be the Bastards who decide the future, if they’re willing to kill to create it. This is absolutely one for fans of Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence. While it is supposed to be part of a series with a sequel set for 2019, it looks like it’s going to be episodic rather than a serial because the book has an ending. Cool badass fantasy.