The Killing Light by Myke Cole
Release Date: Mid Nov
This is the third and final of Myke Cole’s fantasy novella series. Heloise, in her magical power armour, and her allies march toward a final confrontation in the capital but find that friendships are becoming strained and that victory may come from an unlikely source.  Fun and dynamic fantasy with great action and some very interesting magic/ technology fusion. Despite only being novellas, Heloise is nevertheless developed into complex and appealing character, which is a feat given the space Cole has to work with. Again because of the novella length, there is no preamble to get readers back up to speed, so you may want to re-read parts one and two.

The Three Secret Cities by Matthew Reilly
Release Date: Late Nov
This is the paperback version of last year’s hardcover and just in time to be a holiday read. It’s the usual mix of action and suspense that pits modern technology equipped heroes against ancient mysteries and powerful secret societies. In fact, this one may just have upped the pace which is no mean feat. Obviously you’ll have to have read the earlier books, but if you’ve been putting it off you really should grab this one. It’s got everything folks love about Reilly‘s work and an ending so tense that I read it doing laps of by backyard because I couldn’t sit still. Oh, and the three cities of the title will blow your mind.

The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman
Release Date: Mid Nov
This is the sixth in the Invisible Library series built around a group of dimensional-hopping librarians whose task is to remove dangerous books from alternate realities before they can cause harm. Naturally, this rarely goes as planned. The series has a Victorian era feel, and while it’s not being expressly targeted at urban fantasy readers, that’s definitely where it sits in terms of style. Following that format, each book is a new case or mission which is resolved at the end while larger relationships and story arcs play out over the series as whole. This time Cogman weaves in a heist theme as our intrepid librarians seek to save a world by bringing a book into it. The problem is that the Fae-dragon who owns it will only give it to them in return for a painting. A painting they’ll have to steal from 21st century Vienna. A light but tremendously fun series that will appeal to fans of Jodi Taylor and V E Schwab‘s Shades of Magic books.

Made Things by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Release Date: Early Nov
I’m a big fan of all of Adrian Tchaikovsky‘s work, so naturally I’m excited about this new novella. A classic fantasy about an orphan living hand-to-mouth on the mean streets of a big cruel city. Only the orphan, Coppelia has an edge. Somehow she has acquired the company and dubious friendship of a group magically animated puppets. Since then she’s been making a living putting on shows with some of them (while concealing their true nature by appearing to ‘work’ them herself) while the others sneak unseen though the crowd and rob the watchers. Things are going fine till she’s compelled by local gang boss to take part in the robbery of an archmage and she learns that there are worse things that the hardship of the streets. A fun and imaginative story enlivened by the various puppet characters and their unique quirks. You’ll never think of automatons quite the same way again.

Tales of Pirx the Pilot by Stanislaw Lem
Release Date: Mid Sept
This is a collection of three stories set at various points in the career of an entirely unremarkable space pilot named Pirx. In a kind of homage to the ordinary person, Lem has Pirx encounter a variety of unusual events and circumstances which he then has to muddle through in his own workman-like way. While the core of the book is Pirx’s ordinariness, there is also the sense that he has come through difficulty and pain and that the lessons of space are often taught by tragic mistakes. It’s just that none of that is glamorous. A short read, but one where Lem flashes his talent for creating characters that are not cut from any heroic mould, but are just as compelling as those that are.

Chinese Fairytales and Legends by Frederick H. Martens & Richard Wilhelm
Release Date: Early Nov
Here’s something very cool for folk-lore fans.  It’s a beautiful hardcover collection of Chinese fairytales, compiled by Richard Wilhelm and originally published in German in 1921. This edition, translated into English by Frederick H Martens also has extensive notes that provide background and context to the stories. The stories themselves tend to be short and sharp and often have a moral to them. The closest thing I can compare this to is Grimm’s Fairytales, though this book has a bit more structure, with stories grouped into sections like ‘Legends of the Gods’ ,’Ghost Stories’ and ‘Nature and Animal Tales.

Starship Alchemon by Christopher Hinz
Release Date: Mid Nov
Christopher Hinz‘s Paratwa books were one of the coolest science fiction series to come out of the eighties and had a massive following. For some reason however Chris decided that he didn’t want to keep writing novels and instead focussed on comics. He did release a prequel to the series, Binary Storm in 2016, but with the originals now out of print it didn’t have a huge audience. This month we’re getting a wholly new stand-alone book, and I’m pretty excited about it. It’s a space opera set on the Starship Alchemon of the title and follows their mission to a distant planet to investigate a strange alien organism. The subsequent events play out as a science fiction thriller, the first part of the book building the world and fleshing out the characters, and the last half a desperate fight for survival against an alien menace. This is the sort of thing that Hinz does really well, and he always manages to slip new and unexpected elements into familiar situations so be ready for some surprises.

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Keys to the Kingdom Complete Boxed Set by Garth Nix
Release Date: Early Nov
Garth Nix‘s Keys to the Kingdom series may not be new, but this re-jacketed boxed set is and is too good not to put on the radar of anyone who might be looking for young adult books coming up to Christmas. The story races over seven volumes, so you can’t really do it credit over a short synopsis, but I’ll try. After a near death experience where he is saved by fragment of text that animates a ceramic frog, Arthur finds that he has unwittingly become the only one who can save his world and everyone else’s as well from the ‘Powers’ who have usurped control of time and space and divided it, by days among themselves. To battle them, Arthur must enter a house that sits at the centre of all realities and defeat each of them and claim their keys, one at a time, day by day beginning with ominous Mister Monday. The series is full of amazing settings and wonderful characters and perfect for the younger end of the teen market. It’s also got an RRP of $49.99 for the seven book boxed set, which is an absolute bargain.

A Lush and Seething Hell by John Hornor Jacobs
Release Date: Early Nov
John Hornor Jacobs‘ Incorruptibles series is one of my favourite technology and magic mash-ups, which while being fantasy also has some pretty dark elements that blur into what I would consider horror. It’s not really a surprise then that he also writes horror and supernatural fiction. This new book collects two of his shorter horror works into a novel sized book. The first, The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky is set in a South American dictatorship and is about a poet who is translating an obscure document that holds strange and perspective altering secrets. The second, My Heart Struck Sorrow is a journey into American music folk-lore and tales of sold souls, devil inspired music and an infamous killer called Stagger Lee. Both stories blend supernatural and real world horror scenes and they both get quite gruesome and confronting. Great stuff, but not for the squeamish.

Knight of the Silver Circle by Duncan M Hamilton
Release Date:
It’s not often a fantasy sequel turns up after a mere five months, but the second of the Dragonslayer books is on the way nonetheless. We return to famous dragonslayer Guillot dal Villerauvais who is still caught up in intrigue, still hated by the Prince Bishop and much to his enemies’ annoyance, still alive. That may change soon with the discovery of three dragons wreaking havoc in the kingdom. With help, magic and luck he has barely managed a lone Dragon, but three? Also, his mage no longer wants to fight dragons and master thief has been sent to rob Guillot of a magic item that he needs if he’s to have any chance at all. So he’s doomed basically, and that at least is comfortably familiar. This is a fun fast-paced fantasy with loads of magic and old school fantasy tropes, but with a modern and very readable style. One for fans of Nicholas Eames and Stephen Aryan.

The Binding by Bridget Collins
Release Date: Mid Dec
This is another book that’s been out since the beginning of the year in hard cover and large soft cover, but is about to arrive in paperback which is why I want to put in back on peoples’ radar. It’s a charming mix of magic and historical fiction that starts with a young farmer who gets the chance to apprentice to a bookbinder. And not any ordinary bookbinder, but one who has the craft of being able to take memories out people’s minds and binding them into a book so that the person never has to experience them again. It’s a skill that attracts suspicion and fear, but those who want to take advantage of it pay well, so the farmer agrees. Things go well enough until one day, while cleaning the room where the books of memories are kept he sees one with his own name on the spine.

A Dictionary of Sources of Tolkien by David Day
Release Date: Early Nov
Due to his run-ins with Christopher TolkienDavid Day is a bit of a controversial figure in Tolkien scholarship. I’ve personally got a more relaxed approach to that sort of thing, and I find his books quite interesting. Day‘s books on Tolkien and his work also tend to be beautifully illustrated and I enjoy that too. This book explores the relationship between Tolkien‘s work and the myths and legends that inspired it. Working through the lands, characters and languages of Middle-Earth, Day connects them to sources often cited by Tolkien himself like the Volsunga Saga, the Nibelungenlied, the KalevalaRichard Wagner‘s Ring Cycle and more. This is an interesting insight into a fantasy classic that is likely to send you off on your own research adventures.

Mulan Legend of the Woman Warrior by Faye-Lynn Wu
Release Date: Mid Nov
This is a 32 page illustrated kids book which is not quite what I normally focus on, but I’ve been building my children’s and teen sections. This an illustrated version of the story of Mulan drawn from the original Chinese folk-tale rather than the Disney interpretation. It’s full of wonderful illustrations and great book for fans of the movie, or as a way to introduce a young reader to folk lore from another country.

The Hero by Lee Child
Release Date: Late Nov
Lee Child‘s Jack Reacher books are pretty much the go-to to describe what I call ‘hard man crime’. Like the Gunslinger Shane, Yojimbo or Caine from the 1970s television series Kung Fu, he wanders from place to place using his skills and strength (sometimes reluctantly) to protect the helpless. It’s an idea that goes way back into folklore, but it’s not the only manifestation of the hero, and in this book that is what Lee Child examines. In his first work of nonfiction Child works his way from ancient myths though to the modern era to examine what makes a hero and why they continue to hold such power to captivate us.

Snail on the Slope by Arkady Strugatsky
Release Date: Early Nov
The latest release in Gollacz’s SF Masterworks series is yet another book by the Strugatsky brothers, and while I do appreciate the variety in the recent Gollancz releases I’m also very glad they’re also working though the backlist of older authors and not just the most famous books. This one was originally published in two parts in 1965 and 1966, one for each of the two characters. This version alternates chapters between the two, starting with Peretz a bureaucrat who is ostensibly part of a team that manages a huge forest. Oddly, none of them want to go there and actively discourage others from it too. The other perspective comes from Candide, a man in a strange forest with no idea how he got there but a certainty that he doesn’t belong. Like most of the Strugatsky‘s work, these are heavily character driven stories and serve to explore and highlight their opinions and experiences of Soviet Russia. They can be a bit of a dry read and a bit polemic as well, but there’s always a surprise or two, and this book has several. This is one for fans of Russian and Slavic social/ political science fiction, but it’s also not a bad place to start if you’re just curious about that style of writing.

Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Release Date: Mid Nov
Even though this book came out in a larger format earlier this year, I think the paperback release is worth another mention. In this stand-alone book he offers his take on a post environmental collapse world. In a move that is reminiscent of Jack Vance and Gene WolfeCage of Souls is set on some other or future Earth under a bloated dying sun. Stefan Advani, rebel and outlaw, sets out to sift through the wreckage of countless civilisations and strange isolated communities of variants and mutants, looking for an answer to a question that deep in his heart he probably already knows the answer to. Part climate fiction, part post-apocalyptic, with the stunning and interesting world-building and fascinating characters that his books always have.