Most Anticipated Books of 2012 – Our Most Anticipated

This is the end of our series. You’ve seen what we thought would be alright – The Rest – and you’ve seen what we thought were the big books hitting this year – 2012s Heavy Weights. But now it’s time for those books that Ryan and Josh are the most excited about, personally. They might be heavyweight authors, they might be newcomers, they might be in that happy-middle somewhere. But these are the books that, when they arrive on the doorstep, Josh and Ryan are going to drop everything they were doing and disappear until the book is done.

So hope on in for Ryan and Josh’s Most Anticipated Fantasy Books of 2012.

Forge of Darkness (Kharkanas Trilogy) by Steven Erikson

There is no cover and no blurb. Unsurprising, really, considering Steven Erikson’s proclivity for secrecy and his writing methods. But we’re expecting to see this book late 2012.

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

It’s the beginning of a new Malazan trilogy, need I say more? I’m a big fan of Erikson’s writing, the writer who dares to structure his epic fantasy differently to norm, and I think we can expect more of the same here. This new trilogy has been set hundreds of thousands of years in the past and will focus heavily on the Tiste Andii and the events that took place leading up to the evacuation/desertion of Kharkanas. I have high expectations for this new trilogy, and I expect Erikson to deliver.

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

I first started reading fantasy by reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. It was probably a bad idea, in hindsight, because the first fantasy book I read was also one of the greatest and the result of one of the most breathtakingly extensive world-building exercises you’ll ever encounter. So it’s no surprise that I love Steven Erikson’s work, if for no other reason than the sheer scope and historical range of his work. Thankfully, he can also write a cracking tail, and I can’t wait to read a new series by him.

The Republic of Thieves (The Gentlemen’s Bastards) by Scott Lynch

After their adventures on the high seas, Locke and Jean are brought back to earth with a thump. Jean is mourning the loss of his lover and Locke must live with the fallout of crossing the all-powerful magical assassins the Bondsmagi.

It is a fall-out that will pit both men against Locke’s own long lost love. Sabetha is Locke’s childhood sweetheart, the love of Locke’s life and now it is time for them to meet again. Employed on different sides of a vicious dispute between factions of the Bondsmagi Sabetha has just one goal – to destroy Locke forever.

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

We have been waiting a long time for this book, and to be honest I’m happy to wait for as long as it takes Scott Lynch to get his life back together, his Gentlemen’s Bastards books are more than worth the wait. Lynch’s private yet well documented fight with depression and panic disorder brought his marriage and his writing to an abrupt halt, but of late Lynch has started venturing back out into the public domain and things are looking up. The Lies of Locke Lamora remains as one of my all time favourite novels, and with Lynch back in the saddle I am very excited to see just how Locke and Jean get off the cliff Lynch hung them on at the end of Red Seas Under Red Skies.

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

This book is tantalizingly out of reach, perpetually pushed back and back. But it is the third book in a series I love more than most, and I am desperate to see what happens to Locke and Jean. And the fact that we finally get to meet Sabetha? Oh Scott Lynch, why do you tease me so?

The Long Earth by Stephen Baxter & Terry Pratchett

1916: the Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landcape of No Man’s Land gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Cop Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of Willis Linsay, a reclusive – some said mad, others dangerous – scientist. It appears to be arson but the firemen to have caused more damage than the fire itself. There’s no sign of any human remains in the wrecked house, but on a mantlepiece Monica finds a curious gadget – a box containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a…potato. It is the prototype of an invention that Linsay called a ‘stepper'; an invention he put up on the web for all the world to see – and use – an invention that would change the way Mankind viewed his world for ever. And that’s an understatement if ever there was one

Because the stepper enables the person using it to step sideways into another America, another wherever that person happened to be, another Earth. And if the person using it keeps on stepping, they keep on entering even more Earths.

This is the Long Earth. It is our Earth – and a chain of parallel Earths, each differing from its neighbour by sometimes very little (or quite a lot). It’s an infinite chain, offering ‘steppers’ an infinite landscape of infinite possibilities. And the further away a stepper travels, the stranger – and sometimes more dangerous – the Earths become. The sun and moon always shine, the basic laws of physics are the same. However, the chance events which have shaped our Earth, such as the dinosaur-killer asteroid impact, might not have happened and things may well have turned out rather differently.

And until Willis Linsay invented his stepper, only our Earth hosted mankind. Or so we thought. Because it turns out there are some people – such as Joshua Valiente – who are natural ‘steppers’, who don’t need a stepper to explore these other Earths. Joshua’s a pioneer, and and the possibilies are, of course, endless. Just be careful what you wish for…

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

Last time Sir Terry Pratchett collaborated with another highly acclaimed author (Neil Gaiman) we got Good Omens. With Pratchett now collaborating with acclaimed sci-fi writer Stephen Baxter, I am truly intrigued about The Long Earth and just what type of story it promises to be. Everything in Sci-fi has been so dark and moody in recent years, it is a genre that is in serious need of a strike to the funny bone that only an author like Pratchett could give.

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

As Ryan said, the last time Pratchett collaborated with another author we got Good Omens, so in reality, there’d be very little stopping me from reading this book. On top of that, the idea behind the book looks good, and evokes in me the loss of what might have been had Tolkien and Lewis managed to collaborate as they had wished. We might not have a Lewis and Tolkien story, but we will have Pratchett and Baxter.

The Red Queen (Obernewtyn Chronicles)

As the long-foreseen Seeker, Elspeth Gordie must continue to walk the black road, still haunted by memories of her love, Rushton. Yet what awaits her at the end of the black road shakens even her, for the lost community of the Compound, is not what it seems. As she struggles against her captors, she learns that her friends, and Rushton, have fallen into the hands of the deadly slavemasters of the Red Land. Moreover, every mistake and delay Elspeth faces in her quest sees the Destroyer closer to realising his goal of reawakening the weaponmachines Elspeth must destroy. Will all the Seeker has sacrificed be in vain?

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

This is it, the end of The Obernewtyn Chronicles. It has been almost 25 years since Obernewtyn was first published, and almost 15 years since Obernewtyn became the first fantasy book I ever read, and I am as excited now as I ever have been. This book has been put off for years and years, with Carmody splitting the final volume of the 5 book series not once, but twice. After everything that happened with The Stone Key, with Carmody sacrificing an entire novel to wrap up every single sub plot and loose end, The Red Queen will be the final volume of the series and I have no doubt it will go out with a bang.

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

I didn’t finish The Sending, Isobelle Carmody’s sixth Obernewtyn Series book. I got halfway through, saw what was happening (and I might have peeked at the end) and realised that, if I kept reading, I would become emotionally numb from having to wait for a resolution to whatever was going to happen. There was too much info-dumping, too much clearing of the proverbial plate. But nevertheless, I had enjoyed what I read, and I do want to see what becomes of Elspeth and her friends. Carmody has written a real gem of a world, and I want to see it to the end.

Ryan’s Personal Favourites

Railsea by China Miéville

Sham Yes ap Soorap, young doctor’s assistant, is in search of life’s purpose aboard a diesel locomotive on the hunt for the great elusive moldywarpe, Mocker-Jack. But on an old train wreck at the outskirts of the world, Sham discovers an astonishing secret that changes everything: evidence of an impossible journey. A journey left unfinished…which Sham takes it on himself to complete. It’s a decision that might cost him his life.

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

Miéville’s stories often polarise the fantasy community with some people finding his stories just a bit too weird. There are few, if any, who would doubt his creative genius and despite finding Embassytown a little hard to get into, I will be first in line to grab a copy of his latest novel, Railsea. Railsea is a near future retelling of Moby Dick, where the ocean setting has been replaced by a desert setting and the boats / white whale has been replaced by trains. If this book is even half as good as it sounds, it will probably end up being one of the books of the year.

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

At the end of THE PASSAGE, the great viral plague had left a small group of survivors clinging to life amidst a world transformed into a nightmare. In the second volume of this epic trilogy, this same group of survivors, led by the mysterious, charismatic Amy, go on the attack, leading an insurrection against the virals: the first offensives of the Second Viral War.

To do this, they must infiltrate a dozen hives, each presided over by one of the original Twelve. Their secret weapon: Alicia, transformed at the end of book one into a half human, half viral – but whose side, in the end, is she really on?

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

The Passage was by far the best book I read in 2010, an outstanding achievement for a debut author. The refreshing take on vampires was executed with a wonderful story and some beautiful prose, making those 870 pages feel more like 300 pages. The Twelve promises to be a great action adventure – the goals have never been clearer for our band of heroes, and now that they know where to find the twelve head vampires it is time to reclaim the earth. It is hard to put in words just how excited I am about this book, and I fully expect it to raise the already high bar established by The Passage.

Demon Squad: Echoes Of The Past by Tim Marquitz

There is very little information for this one, but Marquitz expects it to be released late in December, 2012.

Why Ryan is Looking Forward to it

The Demon Squad series has been a guilty pleasure of mine for a while now, a series that has grown from strength to strength as Marquitz continues to refine his writing. Each book has been better than the last by quite a margin, and while it’s hard to see how Marquitz will top the war between Heaven and Hell that nearly destroyed the Earth, he tells me that he still has a few big ideas up his sleeves ready to be let loose. What ever these ideas may be, you know it’s going to mean bad news for Frank, the demon stuck in the middle of it all just trying to keep everything in balance so he can watch his porn in peace.

Josh’s Personal Favourites

The Minority Council (Matthew Swift) by Kate Griffin

Matthew Swift, Midnight Mayor, is in charge. And London is having its issues.

The new drug on the market is fairy dust and it turns humans into walking drug labs. Teenage vandals are being hunted by a mystical creature. And criminals are dying by magical means.

If Swift is going to save London from a rising tide of blood, he’s going to have to learn his lessons – and fast.

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

There is no author writing today who has the ability to capture a reader and so successfully and effectively place them into the book. Kate Griffin stunned me with her first book, A Madness of Angels, and only kept on amazing me as I kept on reading. Matthew Swift is easily one of the most intriguing characters I’ve ever had the chance to read, and knowing that I’ll again be able to step into a London I’ve never visited, but still feel as if I’m right there, is a wonder.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue, and her country, were saved from the vicious King Leck. Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea, and her land is at peace. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisers, who have run the country on her behalf since Leck’s death, believe in a forward-thinking plan: to pardon all of those who committed terrible acts during Leck’s reign; and to forget every dark event that ever happened. Monsea’s past has become shrouded in mystery, and it’s only when Bitterblue begins sneaking out of her castle – curious, disguised and alone – to walk the streets of her own city, that she begins to realise the truth. Her kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year long spell of a madman, and now their only chance to move forward is to revisit the past. Whatever that past holds. Two thieves, who have sworn only to steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, who possesses an unidentified Grace, may also hold a key to her heart

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

Kristin Cashore has managed to enchant and captivate me with her two previous books, Graceling and Fire. There is something utterly magical about her writing and the strong and beautiful women she writes. Each time I am asked to pick a favourite book, these may not enter into the top 5, but they are always on my mind as books that I have enjoyed more than most.

Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

A WHOLE NEW REASON TO MIND THE GAP It begins with a dead body at the far end of Baker Street tube station, all that remains of American exchange student James Gallagher–and the victim’s wealthy, politically powerful family is understandably eager to get to the bottom of the gruesome murder. The trouble is, the bottom–if it exists at all–is deeper and more unnatural than anyone suspects . . . except, that is, for London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant. With Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, tied up in the hunt for the rogue magician known as the Faceless Man, it’s up to Peter to plumb the haunted depths of the oldest, largest, and–as of now–deadliest subway system in the world. At least he won’t be alone. No, the FBI has sent over a crack agent to help. She’s young, ambitious, beautiful . . . and a born-again Christian apt to view any magic as the work of the devil. Oh yeah– that’s going to go well.

Why Josh is Looking Forward to it

After reading Katherine Griffin, I wanted more urban-magic on the streets of England. I got it with Ben Aaronovitch. While not as polished a writer as Griffin, Aaronovitch provides me with that fix I need, while still being a wonderful storyteller. Following the life of England’s only sorcerer’s apprentice is fun, especially in the modern-day context that we get to see him in. Really wonderful reading.