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Peter Higgins, author of Wolfhound Century

Myke Cole, author of Shadow Ops Series

John Brown John, translator of the Zamonia Novels

Jim C. Hines author of Libriomancer

Nick Harkaway author of Angelmaker (review here)

Martha Wells author of The Cloud Roads

David Tallerman author of Giant Thief

Mazarkis Williams author of The Emperor's Knife

Rob Ziegler author of Seed

Steven Gould author of 7th Sigma

Douglas Hulick author of Among Thieves (review here)

Mark Charan Newton author of Nights of Villjamur (review here)

Kameron Hurley author of God's War (review here)

Brent Weeks author of The Black Prism (review here)

Anthony Huso author of The Last Page (review here)

Brandon Sanderson author of The Way of Kings (review here)

Lou Anders Editor of Pyr Books

Ian Tregillis author of Bitter Seeds (review here)

Sam Sykes author of Tome of the Undergates (review here)

Benjamin Parzybok author of Couch (review here)

Kristine Kathryn Rusch author of Diving Into the Wreck (review here)

Ken Scholes author of Lamentation

Cherie Priest author of Boneshaker (review here)

Lev Grossman author of The Magicians (review here)

Character Interviews

Alexia and Lord Maccon from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Lord Akeldama from Gail Carriger's Soulless

Eva Forge from Tim Akers's The Horns of Ruin

Atticus from Kevin Hearne's Hounded


The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Year Zero by Rob Reid

Alif: The Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

Redshirts by John Scalzi

Control Point by Myke Cole

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
My BlogCatalog BlogRank Wikio - Top Blogs - Literature

Covers Unveiled for The Riyria Revelations series by Michael J. Sullivan

Art by Larry Rostant
The Riyria Revelations series was originally self-published and received many accolades online after a grassroots effort on the part of Michael J. Sullivan and his wife. After the books took off Sullivan decided to try the traditional route again and got major interest from Orbit Books who are releasing the six book series as 3 omnibuses including the never before published sixth volume. The first omnibus Theft of Swords will be out in November with the other two volumes following a month separately.

Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles – until they are hired to steal a famed sword from the palace of the king and find themselves caught up in a conspiracy to overthrow the empire. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out, to get involved in the plots of the nobles and save the kingdom from itself.

Can one thief and his master swordsman of a friend keep their heads above water long enough to survive? Much less solve the mystery that threatens to topple the crown itself?

…and so begins this epic tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend.

For the series Orbit has created a very commercial yet appeal design. The clocks don't bother me at all on these and I especially like the icons above the author's name, which is a nice nod to the GRRM style while not being too overbearing. It is also interesting to see these after the working versions that Yeti showed off during his recent interview with Sullivan, which gave a more action oriented feel while these give more of a Epic feel. At least to me.  I already picked up the first volume at BEA so expect to hear more about these in the coming months and feast your eyes on the rest of the series Rise of Empire and Heir of Novron.

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When Covers Gets Changed It is Usually a Good Thing

New Procurements and Book Expo Swag

Sorry for the slow last week. I was at Book Expo America a bit and also had plenty of work to do at night if I wasn't out with friends.. Firstly, for those who don't know Book Expo is the largest American based publishing event every year that last 3 or 4 days depending on programming. Nearly every publisher is there and most are giving out what they hope will be important books for them in addition to hundreds of author signings.

This is my fifth Book Expo. This year I decided to take a quieter role instead of running around and grabbing every book I could I focused on the ones that I was most interested in and decided to chat a bit more with various publishers to see what they had cooking. I stopped by the Pyr booth to hear about their YA happenings. At Orbit to ask about the shorts program. And checked in with a dozen other mostly genre related publishers. I still made time for a few signings (Scalzi, Vinge, Grossman, etc.) and missed two I really meant to get to. Sorry Lev Rosen and Ernest Cline!  Well on to the swag. And let's start things off with the signed ones to add to the drool worthiness.

First on the pile is Chuck Klosterman's second novel The Invisible Man. He was quite a friendly guy and harrier than I remembered. I love his essays so I have my fingers crossed that his fiction will be as nearly funny. Next is Ernest Cline's debut novel Ready Player One, which isn't actually signed, but I'm too tired to retake a photo. He did a signing that I missed, but I was able to get a copy the next day. Thank you very much Random House. Than we have Lev Grossman's hotly anticipated sequel The Magician King. Who remembered me for our interview months back when I did an early review of The Magicians. Following is Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson who just happened to be in signing the final copies of what I think will be the Sci-Fi hit of the summer. Lastly, are signed copies of The Children of the Sky by Vernor Vinge and Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi who were signing together, which made things easy to see the two greats. I would have liked to talk with both for a bit longer, but did manage to ask Vinge about his time frame for when the Singularity will happen.  He still predicts around 2030.

The above are just a couple galleys I grabbed. Starting off is The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch which is a historical witchcraft novel placed in mid-1600 Germany. It has been getting rave reviews since Amazon Connect did a release a year back. Next is a middle reader I got for a family member called Captain Awesome to the Rescue. How could I resist that? Below that is Michael J. Sullivan's first Riyria Revelations omnibuses from Orbit entitled Theft of Swords, which looks deliciously fat. Next is Spontaneous Happiness by Andrew Weil because couldn't we all use a little bit more? Lastly, is the prolific Harlan Coben's Shelter, which a certainly family member should enjoy. The next photo are the review copies that showed up the last two weeks.

Dead of Veridon by Tim Akers is the second in the Jacob Burn cycle of Noird Steampunk novels, which should be read quite soon since I usually get to Akers quickly.  Eclipse Four edited by Jonathan Strahan would be my first taste of this cross genre anthology that usually pleases short story fans. Zendgi by Greg Egan is his latest hard Sci-Fi effort. I'll probably read Egan's summer release The Clockwork Rocket before this though. Next is The Nebula Award Showcase 2011 edited by Kevin J. Anderson, which looks like all kinds of fun. Lastly, but not leastly is Dancing with Bears by Michael Swanwick, which is the start to a new Steampunky series featuring con-men. Sounds like a good time to me.

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BEA 2010 Show Rundown and Swag

FREE FICTION | The Winds of Khalakovo by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Those of you with Nooks or the Nook apps can enjoy a free download of The Winds of Khalakovo until June 9th so get it while it is hot. This is a a wonderful Fantasy series that will certainly sate most fans of GRRM. Here is the blurb:
Among inhospitable and unforgiving seas stands Khalakovo, a mountainous archipelago of seven islands, its prominent eyrie stretching a thousand feet into the sky. Serviced by windships bearing goods and dignitaries, Khalakovo's eyrie stands at the crossroads of world trade. But all is not well in Khalakovo. Conflict has erupted between the ruling Landed, the indigenous Aramahn, and the fanatical Maharraht, and a wasting disease has grown rampant over the past decade. Now, Khalakovo is to play host to the Nine Dukes, a meeting which will weigh heavily upon Khalakovo's future.

When an elemental spirit attacks an incoming windship, murdering the Grand Duke and his retinue, Prince Nikandr, heir to the scepter of Khalakovo, is tasked with finding the child prodigy believed to be behind the summoning. However, Nikandr discovers that the boy is an autistic savant who may hold the key to lifting the blight that has been sweeping the islands. Can the Dukes, thirsty for revenge, be held at bay? Can Khalakovo be saved? The elusive answer drifts upon the Winds of Khalakovo...
Beaulieu also recently mentioned he is getting close to the end of the sequel The Straits of Galahesh, which should be out the first half of next year hopefully. Of course some edits need to worked on and he'll need feedback from his Editor at Night Shade before it is truly finished, but the bulk of the work is done.

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Mad Hatter's Reading Log Vol. 5 (April to Mid-May)

And my reading log continues ever onward.  By the middle of May I'll have read 46 books this year, which keeps me on target for 100 books to be read in 2011. I've been keeping my genre's pretty well mixed lately with 7 Science Fiction, 9 Fantasies, and 1 Cross Genre, and one straight Science title.

29.  City of Ruins by Kristine Katherine Rusch - This is the second Diving Universe book from Rusch and it is just as page turning as the first one. It does leave off on something of a big cliffhanger, but the third in the series Boneyards will be out early next year.  This is a classic SF series in the making. Review to come. Highly recommended.
30.  Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh - A very strong debut from an emerging talent.  See my full review here.
31.  Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - A great ending for the series and even the characters on a whole, but Katniss's backseat role was a bit too much to take at times. Still this is a series worthy of all the praise it has received.

32.  Dark Jenny by Alex Bledsoe - All those good things I've said about the first two Eddie LaCrosse novels stay true this go around as well. Bledsoe also uses the framed story style pretty darn well. I hope I never tire of this series. Highly recommended.
33.  Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick - Hands down my favorite debut of the year thus far. I was caught up within the first page. The main character is amazing as is this underworld he inhabits. Review to come. Highly recommended.
34.  A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin - And the giant re-read begins in anticipation of A Dance With Dragons has started. This is my third read of A Game of Thrones and I was just as caught up in the story as the first time.  I finished it only days before the premiere of the HBO series so the world and characters were quite fresh in my mind and it lived up to all my expectations. I'm on the fence about re-reading A Feast for Crows, but am planning on doing A Clash of Kings this month and A Storm of Swords in June.
35.  The Thanos Imperative by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning - The current wonder team for the Marvel Galactic arm finally brings back Thanos after his long absence. And they brought him back at his best and the art is equally impressive. Take care though that it helps a lot to have read earlier Thanos related stories and parts of the Abnett/Lanning runs on Nova, Annihilation, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Realm of Kings. Basically Abnett and Lanning have totally destroyed the Galactic scene only to rebuild it anew.

36.  After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn - A very enjoyable superhero novel that gives you a view of heroes from the non-special family member view. Really well done and emotional at the right parts and exciting right when it needs to be. Recommend.
37.  City of Hope & Despair by Ian Whates - I absolutely loved City of Dreams & Nightmares, but this volume definitely has middle-novel syndrome. It was still very interesting and add good detail about the world. The story was split between two main events happening with one in the city below and the other far outside of the city itself. The latter didn't interest me nearly as much as the former, but it does have big implications for the closing volume. Recommended with reservations, but do check out City of Dreams & Nightmares.
38.  The Executioness by Tobias Buckell - Really well done novella about the emergence of a folk hero from the ground up. Highly recommended. This story is placed in the same world as the next book.
39.  The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi - Paolo uses all his skills and interests from his Sci-Fi work and somehow makes it work beautifully in his first foray into Fantasy. Highly recommended.
40.  Deep Future by Curt Stager - A huge disappointment for me as it was being touted as compared to The World Without Us, which I loved.  It doesn't live up to the hype and for the most part seems like an overly wrought article from a Science magazine. Pass.

41.  The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes - This turned out to be very different from what I expected, but I still found it to be a quite enjoyable read.  It stars a slightly autistic gentleman who becomes a superhero of sorts. Lots of demonic implications. Recommended, especially for Tom Holt fans.
42.  Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine - A hugely impressive novel. This is one dark and melodic debut with an usual storytelling style that shouldn't work, but does. It isn't for the faint of heart, but if you are into darker fiction that is utterly original than you must check out this. Possibly the most original Steampunk novel I've read. Review to come. Highly recommended.
43.  Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi - A reboot of a classic Sci-Fi novel most people haven't heard of? Well, at least I hadn't heard of. H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy was first brought to my attention the day Scalzi announced his version. I quickly sought out a copy and did fall in love with the simple story. Scalzi's version definitely did Piper honor and made it his own.  Funny, sly, and utterly entertaining. This is sure to please Scalzi and Piper fans alike. Review to come. Highly recommended.
44. The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham - A bit slow to start, but once it gets going it doesn't let you turn away. Review to come. Highly recommended.
45. Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson - See my short review here. Highly recommended.
46. The Winds of Khalakovo by Bradley Beaulieu - The depth of this world is amazing with it characters, magic, and politics. Review hopefully to come soon. Recommended especially for Epic Fantasy fans.

This was a period filled with a lot of quality reads.  The biggest standouts this batch are Among Thieves  (big hats off) and The Dragon's Path for Fantasy fans, Mechanique for Steampunk fans and readers of odd fiction, and for Sci-Fi fans City of Ruins and Robopocalypse are sure to satisfy you.

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REVIEW | Metatropolis edited by John Scalzi
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Cover Unveiled for Lavie Tidhar's Osama

Lavie Tidhar is never one to shy away from the controversial. In fact I think he courts it somewhat. I try to invite him to be part of things here quite often because I know he'll give me an answer usually miles away from everyone else. Tidhar's mind is a strange one and I've always wondered if he was born that way or if it was through experiences.  He has certainly lived a interesting life having traveled and stayed in many different countries, which clearly influenced his latest work.  When I first heard the title of his next limited edition book Osama I was immediately put-off. Why would I want to read about that guy? But upon learning more about the story and Lavie's reason's for writing it Osama does sound quite interesting. It was born out of Tidhar's many close calls with Al-Qaeda over the years while traveling and living aboard. Here is the synopsis for Osama:
In a world without global terrorism Joe, a private detective, is hired by a mysterious woman to find a man: the obscure author of pulp fiction novels featuring one Osama Bin Laden: Vigilante...

Joe’s quest to find the man takes him across the world, from the backwaters of Asia to the European Capitals of Paris and London, and as the mystery deepens around him there is one question he is trying hard not to ask: who is he, really, and how much of the books is fiction? Chased by unknown assailants, Joe’s identity slowly fragments as he discovers the shadowy world of the refugees, ghostly entities haunting the world in which he lives. Where do they come from? And what do they want? Joe knows how the story should end, but even he is not ready for the truths he’ll find in New York and, finally, on top a quiet hill above Kabul – nor for the choice he will at last have to make...

In Osama, Lavie Tidhar brilliantly delves into the post-9/11 global subconscious, mixing together elements of film noir, non-fiction, alternative history and international thriller to create an unsettling – yet utterly compelling – portrayal of our times.
Osama will be out in the Fall from PS Publishing as a limited edition hardcover. Also, Tidhar's lighter fair includes the just released Camera Obscura in his Bookman Histories series of Steampunk adventures.

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US & UK Covers Unveiled for Neal Stephenson's Reamde

Reamde is Neal Stephenson's first standalone novel in quite sometime. At least it seems to be so far. One never knows with Stephenson. This should especially interest those who loved Snow Crash, but haven't felt a strong enough desire to wade through the somewhat unwieldy The Baroque Cycle.

This cover just flat out confuses me, but it also makes curious. Firstly, there is the title Reamde, which when I first read it months ago I could make neither hide nor hare of. Now that I see the cute play with gradation on the cover the cute trick works well: Read Me. A not so subliminal message perchance from Stephenson? Possible, but it also foretells a story involving intrigue quite quickly. The cover overall is certainly subtly impactful staying with such basic colors and fonts. I'm not entirely sure if this cover is the final or merely a placeholder. Either way it is interesting to take a look at. Stephenson is probably a big enough name now to push for this type of cover given his last 4 books have been New York Times best-sellers although it isn't as if he's been lacking in that department much in the past.

Here is the very scant blurb that has been released by Stephenson's US publisher so far on Amazon, which is a bit heavy on the sales-y references:
With Reamde, this visionary author whose mind-stretching fiction has been enthusiastically compared to the work of Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Kurt Vonnegut, and David Foster Wallace—not to mention William Gibson and Michael Crichton—once again blazes new ground with a high-stakes thriller that will enthrall his loyal audience, science and science fiction, and espionage fiction fans equally. The breathtaking tale of a wealthy tech entrepreneur caught in the very real crossfire of his own online fantasy war game, Reamde is a new high—and a new world—for the remarkable Neal Stephenson.
From his UK publisher we get a bit more depth:
Across the globe, millions of computer screens flicker with the artfully coded world of T'Rain - an addictive internet role-playing game of fantasy and adventure. But backstreet hackers in China have just unleashed a contagious virus called Reamde, and as it rampages through the gaming world spreading from player to player - holding hard drives hostage in the process - the computer of one powerful and dangerous man is infected, causing the carefully mediated violence of the on-line world to spill over into reality. A fast-talking, internet-addicted mafia accountant is brutally silenced by his Russian employers, and Zula - a talented young T'Rain computer programmer - is abducted and bundled on to a private jet. As she is flown across the skies in the company of the terrified boyfriend she broke up with hours before, and a brilliant Hungarian hacker who may be her only hope, she finds herself sucked into a whirl of Chinese Secret Service agents and gun-toting American Survivalists; the Russian criminal underground and an al-Qaeda cell led by a charismatic Welshman; each a strand of a connected world that devastatingly converges in T'Rain. An inimitable and compelling thriller that careers from British Columbia to South-West China via Russia and the fantasy world of T'Rain, Reamde is an irresistible epic from the unique imagination of one of today's most individual writers.
Got all that? Because they'll be a test later on.  Now we have here the UK cover, which is much more in line with Stephenson's previous novels.

Reamde will be released September 20th in the US and the 15th in the UK. Will you be there for it?

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REVIEW | Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense and communication. In the months leading up to this, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of unconnected humans who witnesses machines gone haywire – but most are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late.

Robopocalypse is Wilson's first novel, but I certainly hope it isn't the last. Wilson best known as a robotics expert uses his knowledge of what "could be" to the utmost in crafting a robot uprising aimed at humanity's decimation. The story starts at the end of the war and than flashes back vignette style at different points in the robot rebellion through many different eyes, but does have a cast that you grow to connect with as you see them try to thwart the robots.

At turns Robopocalypse is horrifying and at others inspiring in what humanity can overcome.  The pacing is incredibly fast and it was hard to put down given that breezy style of the story. Most chapters are only a few pages long, which does lend the story a Thriller-like feel. The story is taut, engrossing, and filled with a very believable turn of events as the very world humanity builds turns against its creators with some very cool robot creations.

At first it takes a few chapters to frame all the incidents and personages within the context of the story on a whole as there are many interconnections, but each chapter on its own acts almost like a separate short stories.

Shades of Terminator do apply greatly, but Wilson gives you all the details that were lost in that story and makes it his own.  The end is very satisfying and leaves a sense of hope for the future while also leaving that kernel of a chance at something worse.

Wilson does for robots what Max Brooks did for zombies. Sci-Fi and apocalyptic fans take note of the Summer read you've been waiting for. I give Robopocalypse 9 out of 10 hats. The story is already in development to become a movie by Steven Spielberg and it will make a hell of a action flick if it makes it to the big screen.

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New Procurements

Lots of my highly anticipated titles have shown up along with a couple others I just leaned about that look quite interesting. I also bought three of the below as well and not pictured are a couple travel books I'm using to plan a big trip next year, but that is all hush, hush at the moment.

Perched on top is Timecaster by Joe Kimball - This pseudonymous work is by the infamous JA Konrath and his first foray into Sci-Fi. I generally love time travel books so this will probably get slid in between some larger works in the coming months. The story is also loosely connected somehow with Konrath's other novels plus the start to a series. Next is the deliciously fat The Goblin Corps by Ari Marmell - From the moment I heard the title I've been intrigued. It is supposedly LotR from the Orcs' point of view. Sounds like a good time to me. Will be dipping in soonish. Next was a surprise as I was intending to buy it next week. Embassytown by China Mieville - A new Mieville is an immediate read for me so this will automatically make it to the top of the to-read pile and this is the British edition to boot. Mieville doing Sci-Fi? Gotta check that out even if Kraken was a bit uneven in my opinion, but wonderful nonetheless.

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma - This was a recent Steampunk find. Plus it is translated from Spanish. The number of genre related novels that get translated to English are few and far between. It is already a best-selling and award-winning title internationally and I must say Atria knocked themselves out with the cover design. The galley even sports a mix of matte/gloss/iridescent printing techniques. Simply gorgeous. It involves HG Wells as an investigator of supposed time travel incidents. That line gotcha ya didn't it?

Vortex by Robert Charles Wilson - The third and final book in the Spin Cycle, I mean Spin Trilogy. The first in the series is a modern classic in my eyes and I'm eager to see how this smart and humanistic series closes out. Than I have the historically minded The Enterprise of Death by Jesse Bullington - Bullington's debut blew me away with its originality and I've been looking forward to this despite hearing it doesn't have as much humor as his first. I must see how Bullington tries to top himself.

The Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan - Really intrigues me.  It is hard future Sci-Fi with a Steampunk bent. It is also the start to a new series that Egan has written equations and theories to support the science of that universe. No Hero by Jonathan Wood - What would Kirk Russell do indeed? An action cthulhu-rama? That is a must-read. Plus these are both Night Shade Books releases and they have been blowing me  away this year between Hurley, McIntosh, Adams' latest antho, and Bradley Beaulieu's debut which I'll be talking about later.

The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman - My trial with Hoffman's first book in this world The Left Hand of God is chronicled pretty well. The first 1/3 of the book blew me away so much so I wrote early glowing praise and than upon reading the remainder lost faith in nearly everything I said. Still I'm interested to see if Hoffman can recapture what he started with that first third at all. Definitely a make it or break book not only this series, but this author.

Awakenings by Edward Lazellari - A debut Urban Fantasy that hasn't been getting much notice yet. I think that will change as word spreads. Lazellari has a background in illustration for both DC and Marvel along with plenty of other companies. Hex by Allen Steele - This is the first in an off shot series from his Coyote work. I haven't had the pleasure of reading Steele in the past, but this looks to be a good entry way into his universe.

The Steampunk Bible by Jeff VanderMeer with S.J. Chambers - A beautiful coffee table love book to Steampunk. Gorgeous art from many of my Steampunk favorites grace the pages as well as some very good essays on the culture. Definitely a flip through book, but you'll find yourself doing it a lot.

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FREE FICTION | Ari Marmell's The Orge's Pride

REVIEW | Wolfsangel by M.D. Lachlan (Pyr)

A cabal of mad witches, Norse Gods, bloody battles, and an unrepentant attitude rule Wolfsangel with harsh realities.

Wolfsangel is a gripping world with a rich story that is rife with hidden meaning in so many places. Long have I been fascinated with Norse mythology including their gods, associated stories, and even the power of the runes. Long have I also searched for a book that used Norse mythology so well. The best prior had been American Gods, but I've never thought of that as a true Norse novel. Wolfsangel uses a more historical view on the Norse and its culture and you can feel all the research that has been done about the minutia of their way of life in every chapter.

The story surrounds two brothers separated at birth both being trust into different worlds. One grows up as a wild animal while the other leads a fairly soft existence, but the juxtaposition that goes on with them as the story progresses and the werewolf mythos that surrounds them is astounding. The connections to the Fenrir wolf mythos (the wolf destined to kill Odin and bring about Ragnarök) is particularly well done as does Lachlan's use of berserkers. The best part is the werewolves fit so naturally in this world. Unapologetic, visceral, and at times gorey this isn't a novel for those who don't enjoy the dark parts of history and mythology.

There isn't much happiness in the world of Wolfsangel. Characters are subjected to terrible personal tragedies and whole groups are decimated for no good reason other than because they were ripe for the killing. Even people taken in as slaves seem to accept it all too easily, but the alternative is even grimmer: death. This is a remorseless world that is only going to get bloodier before it is all over. Complex and haunting, Wolfsangel is a challenging read on many levels, but a very worthy one.

If Scorsese decided to do a historical piece involving the Norse and werewolves you'd get something very much like Wolfsangel. It is not a fun read, but Wolfsangel is without a doubt the best and most honest use of Norse mythology and history I've ever read in fiction. I give Wolfsangel 9 out of 10 hats. For a debut Fantasy Lachlan has certainly sets the bar high. Wolfsangel is the first in the Wolfsangel trilogy with the sequel Fenrir scheduled for an October release in the US and July in the UK.

M.D. Lachlan is a pen name for Mark Barrowcliffe who has also been writing literary fiction and non-fiction for many years. I can recommend his memoir The Elfish Gene to Dungeons and Dragons fans for a good view of growing up when DnD first hit the market.

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Cover Unveiled for The Rift Walker (Vampire Empire) by Clay & Susan Griffith

In a word: beautiful.

 Last year I was pleasantly surprised by Clay and Susan Griffith's novel debut The Greyfriar. It was the perfect mix of pulpy goodness, Steampunk ascetics, and bloody vampires. I thought so highly of it I named it as the runner-up best vampire read of 2010 after the epic that was The Passage. So the sequel The Rift Walker is high on my comfort to-read list this year. Here is the synopsis, but skip ahead if you haven't read The Greyfriar:
Princess Adele struggles with a life of marriage and obligation as her Equatorian Empire and their American Republic allies stand on the brink of war against the vampire clans of the north. However, the alliance's horrific strategy for total victory drives Adele to abandon her duty and embark on a desperate quest to keep her nation from staining its hands with genocide. Reunited with her great love, the mysterious adventurer known to the world as the Greyfriar, Adele is pursued by her own people as well as her vengeful husband, senator Clark. With the human alliance in disarrray, Prince Cesare, lord of the British vampire clan, seizes the initiative and strikes at the very heart of Equatoria.

As Adele labors to bring order to her world, she learns more about the strange powers she exhibited in the north. Her teacher, Mamoru, leads a secret cabal of geomancers who believe Adele is the one who can touch the vast power of the Earth that surges through ley lines and wells up at the rifts where the lines meet. These energies are the key to defeating the enemy of mankind, and if Princess Adele could ever bring this power under her command, she could be death to vampires. But such a victory will also cost the life of Adele's beloved Greyfriar.
The artist for the series so far is none other than Chris McGrath, who I felt was looking a bit same-y with his cover art recently, but this piece reminded me again why I was first attracted to his work. He has an ability to capture a scene and execute it perfectly.

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Joe Abercrombie Interviews George R.R. Martin

This is the piece that aired before the UK premiere of Game of Thrones on the Sky network with Joe "The Swagger" Abercrombie interviewing George R.R. "The Beard" Martin. While this doesn't add a lot to what George R.R. Martin has been saying lately it is great to see the modern master and the rising prince of gritty Fantasy talking to each other.

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ART | A New Look to GRRM's A Song of Ice & Fire

I'm always surprised at the level of fan art out there for Fantasy works, but rarely am I disappointed with the outcome. That is the case with Matt Roeser's fabulous take on A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. Most of these books have already had half a dozen covers in English already let alone the further dozens for the translated editions. But what is new that can be done? Well feast your eyes below.

A Game of Thrones
Roeser on his blog mentioned his inspiration for the look on the series:
For my covers, I wanted to showcase the idea of these feuding medieval families that are constantly vying for power, but didn’t want to have knights on horses, epic battle scenes and the other visuals that are usually on these types of fantasy novels. So instead, I depicted the idea of house crests and the importance the author puts in each of the families and gave each of the 5 books a distinct color.
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows

A Dance With Dragons

Roeser certainly brought his "A" game and I hope his work on reimagining other master works leads to more professional cover design work. I'd certainly welcome editions with his versions of A Song of Ice and Fire on my permanent shelf.

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FREE FICTION | A Ticket to Genevieve Valentine's Circus Tresaulti

Greetings ladies and gentlemen! Please steel yourself as you are in for quite a dark delicacy of a very strange and metallic kind.  For you have entered into the Circus Tresaulti! The one and only mechanical circus of wondrous and sometimes hideous proportions!

Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti is Genevieve Valentine's just released debut novel.  It is quite an original piece of fiction and once I found my footing in the world I carried away with the circus . I'm nearly done with it and although it is short I can't bring myself to finish it as this is a world unlike any others. The style challenges the reader like few do as it is at once both beautiful, mystifying, and horrifying.  I'll hold most of my thoughts until my final review, but if you couldn't tell I think quite highly of Valentine's work.  The closest comparison I can think of is Jeff VanderMeer's Ambergris books as Mechanique is a very fractured story jumping around in time and also perspective.

Valentine has been working on her dark Steampunk circus placed in a post-apocalyptic world for many years and it has its origins in the short story work. Below are three stories of the Tresaulti Circus, which will give you a very good idea of what to expect in the pages of Mechanique. Each piece adds a new facet to this world and at least one is placed during the events of Mechanique.

The recently released “Study, for Solo Piano” is available though Fantasy Magazine here or as an audio piece here.

"The Finest Spectacle Anywhere" can be read at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, which just went live today, I believe.

“Bread and Circuses”can be read online at Beneath Ceaseless Skies or as an audio version here.

More about Genevieve Valentine and here work can be found on her site and a special site setup just for the Circus Tresaulti.

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Two New Orbit Covers

Per usual these cover may not be the final versions as the books are both months away from release, but they certainly show the direction they are headed in.

When I first head the title for A. Lee Martinez's next book Emperor Mollusk vs. The Sinister Brain I immediately declared it in the running for best title EVER!  I stand by that statement. This has moved immediately to my list of must-reads in 2012, which should be out in March. The cover seems fitting for Martinez as the poster approach has worked well for him in the past most notably for Monster.  Here is the blurb:
Emperor Mollusk is a retired supervillain from Neptune who just wants to retire on Earth.

Unfortunately, he’s forced out of retirement when a legendary death cult marks him for assassination. Now with half the universe out to kill him, he’s got to use his feared intellect and superior technology to keep himself alive while unraveling a mystery that could be more important than he ever suspected.

Timeless is the fifth and final book in Gail Carriger's Alexia Tarabotti series of whimsical Steampunk adventures. The cover fits in nicely with the series. I hesitate to add the synopsis as it is rife with spoilers depending on where you are in the series.  But as the cover shows Alexia does Egypt after having visited France, Scotland, and Italy in other volumes.  Alexia is certainly a world traveler and I'll be sad to see her story end as they have been endlessly entertaining.  Carriger hasn't confirmed what she is writing next, but it will be interesting to see if she revisits this world with different characters down the line. Heartless the fourth book in the series will be out in June with Timeless to follow in March.

UPDATE: Someone in the comments pointed me towards Carriger's announcement about her next book, which will be set in Alexia's world, only about 25 years earlier. The series will is titled The Finishing School Series and is meant for a YA audience, but if the sex is scaled back a bit from Alexia's books there shouldn't be much of a shift. The first book tentatively titled Etiquette & Espionage should be out in 2012.

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New Procurements (What a great stack)

I always have trouble starting these posts. It gets hard thinking of new ways to to say "Hey, I've gotten a lot of books the past few weeks." The latest batch actually made me do my quarterly book cull. I pulled out about 20 books from various stacks of books I have no intention of re-reading or lending to anyone along with a few I've just lost total interest. What? It happens...sometimes.  And that isn't even counting another pile of books I leave for friends to go through when they come by, which mostly consists of duplicate review copies. This weeks haul has four books from my must lists, which sit atop the pile as they'll be gotten sooner than later.

To begin we have Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine, which is her debut and one I've gone on about here or there. A Steampunk circus is not something I'm likely to miss. A short story placed in this universe just went live at Fantasy Magazine, which is worth perusing as is an interview with the author.   Next is Ekaterina Sedia latest Heart of Iron. Long time readers of this blog know how much I adore Sedia's work. Prince of Thorns is a debut by Mark Lawrence, which is being touted as being the next big thing in Fantasy supposedly in the vein of Martin only much shorter and focused on a smaller cast. The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes is one of those books that just grabbed me from the first time I heard about it. Hughes is best known for the Henghis Hapthorn novels.

A few years ago I read Glen Duncan's I, Lucifer and found it entertaining, but not overly deep, as I was expecting. Duncan's latest The Last Werewolf is gaining a bit of buzz though so I thought I'd take a chance when a review copy presented itself. Next I couldn't help myself after months of dithering about buying Sub Press's Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison. It is one of those books I've been meaning to read for literally a decade and Sub Press did a beautiful job with their packaging and this is consider an extended and definitive edition to this classic collection. It is a gargantuan book let me tell you  Following is The Snow Queen's Shadow by Jim C. Hines who you wouldn't expect to find next to Ellison but I'm weird like that.  This is Hines's last in the Princess novels, which I've been following along with.

Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris is the first in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series that looks to be in the mold of Gail Carriger's series with a bit more edge to it. I've been in a Steampunk reading lull, but between this and Valentine's debut I'll probably breakthrough that soon. Blindsight by Peter Watts is one I've been meaning to get for awhile, but I could never find it in store and for some reason it was one of those books I had to get in person. Well, I got over that finally when I ordered it with the Ellison along with some birthday goodies for my niece.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan just won the Pulitzer and I had been eyeing it for a few weeks before so I nabbed it.  I also got review copies of Mind Storm by K. M . Ruiz, Future Imperfect by K. Ryer Breeze, and The Season of Passage by Christopher Pike all of which look good as well. Mindstorm looks to be an X-Men crossed with a thriller, which sounds fun to me.

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