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Assassins, Wurms, Martin and Hobb

Fantasy Book Review, August 2014

This is the first of what I hope will be a regular-as-clockwork monthly blog post rounding-up our latest reviews of the new releases and golden – or perhaps not-so golden – oldies. The post will also feature popular news items and anything else which I hope people will find interesting.

Fool's Assassin book cover imageThe stand-out book of the month for me is Fool’s Assassin, the latest addition to Robin Hobb’s superlative Elderlings series and an example of just how lucky the fantasy genre is to have an author of this calibre working within it. Joshua, who read and reviewed the book first, summed everything up nicely: “Fool’s Assassin is, quite simply, one of the best books I have read in years. Brandon Sanderson might have all the attention at the moment, but there is something to be said for the quiet simplicity of a FitzChivalry Farseer story and the world around it. Robin Hobb has dealt a serious blow to all those contending for best book of 2014, and I believe is set to return herself to the centre of attention with this new series.”

And I couldn’t agree more. Read the full Fool’s Assassin review

This month has also found me reading another of my all-time favourite authors, Steven Erikson. The Malazan series of ten wonderful tomes (for they be chunky) completely blew me away and I constantly find myself going back and re-reading them but thankfully there are also occasions when I can read something new from this awe-inspiring and fascinating world.

The events and humour within reminded me often of that channelled through Kruppe in Gardens of the Moon and Tehol and Bugg in Midnight Tides – it is funny and farcical but but at the same time hints at hidden power and a long and dark history. Any who have read The Lees at Laughter’s End or the Collected Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach will know exactly what to expect – and will not be disappointed.

Read the full The Wurms of Blearmouth review

Of the other books that have been reviewed this month, the following are all highly recommended:

For those who like historical fiction we recommend Robert Carter’s Language of Stones and for science-fiction fans, Peter F. Hamilton’s The Naked God.

George and Robin

The news that created the biggest buzz was when HarperVoyager announced that they will host an event with George RR Martin and Robin Hobb in a central London venue on 19th August 2014. Tickets will be £45 each and will include a hardback copy of Hobb’s latest novel Fool’s Assassin (you know how much we love this book).

HarperVoyager poster for George R. R. Martin and Robin Hobb London event.

This unique event offers readers the perfect opportunity to spend an evening listening to two of the world’s greatest storytellers, discussing how they build their fictional universes, create their characters and balance fantasy and reality; about their influences and inspirations, their struggles and successes.

The event is sponsored by ebook retailer blinkbox Books and in support of their pledge to bring readers closer to authors, they will be streaming the full event  for free – live and exclusively – on their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/blinkboxbooks. HarperVoyager and blinkbox Books newsletter subscribers will be first to hear about tickets: http://harpervoyagerbooks.co.uk/subscribe/.

The event will have the #GeorgeAndRobin hashtag.

So that’s it for the August round-up, join us in September for a more comprehensive look at the month on FBR.

George RR Martin and Robin Hobb to make London appearance in August

HarperVoyager will host an event with George RR Martin and Robin Hobb in a central London venue on 19th August 2014. Tickets will go on sale later this week, will be £45 each and will include a hardback copy of Hobb’s latest novel Fool’s Assassin.

George RR Martin.Robin HobbThis unique event offers readers the perfect opportunity to spend an evening listening to two of the world’s greatest storytellers, discussing how they build their fictional universes, create their characters and balance fantasy and reality; about their influences and inspirations, their struggles and successes.

“This is a uniquely exciting event, bringing together two of the greatest storytellers in modern fiction talking candidly about their writing lives. I have worked with them both for years, but in all that time I’ve never had the chance to eavesdrop on them in conversation: I can’t wait,” commented Jane Johnson, HarperVoyager’s Publishing Director.

The event is sponsored by ebook retailer blinkbox Books and in support of their pledge to bring readers closer to authors, they will be streaming the full event  for free – live and exclusively – on their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/blinkboxbooks.

HarperVoyager and blinkbox Books newsletter subscribers will be first to hear about tickets: http://harpervoyagerbooks.co.uk/subscribe/

The event will have the #GeorgeAndRobin hashtag.

Most Anticipated Books of 2013 – The Rest

First off we focus our attention on those releases that may not be receiving as much hype as those by the big-name authors.

As a reviewer of books this crossover time between years is the greatest. We get the chance to look back on the wonderful reading we have done over the past 12 months and we can also look forward to the anticipated reading of the 12 months to come. As is now becoming tradition here at FBR, Ryan and Josh get together to work through the Most Anticipated books for the year to come, and this year we’ve expanded our categories. We’ll look at books being released by the heavyweights of the industry as well as those books that simply may not be receiving as much attention. We’ll look at what we personally are most looking forward to, but this year we also add a fourth category; those books that Goodreads and other sites are anticipating, but we honestly doubt we’ll see. So jump on in to the Most Anticipated books of 2013.


 

The Crown Tower (The Riyria Chronicles #1) by Michael J. Sullivan

Tentative Release Date – August 01, 2013

crowntower-2-5

Two men who hate each other. One impossible mission. A legend in the making.

A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach. The Crown Tower is the impregnable remains of the grandest fortress ever built and home to the realm’s most valuable possessions. But it isn’t gold or jewels the old wizard is after, and this prize can only be obtained by the combined talents of two remarkable men. Now if Arcadias can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed.

The Crown Tower is the first book in a new series, The Riyria Chronicles, based on characters from The Riyria Revelations. Unlike the previous series, which was a carefully choreographed interconnected series of books, the Chronicles are designed to be stand-alone stories that can be read independent of each other or the prior novels.

The Human Division by John Scalzi

Tentative Release Date – January through April 2013

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Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race.

The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source of military recruits. Now the CU’s secrets are known to all. Other alien races have come on the scene and formed a new alliance—an alliance against the Colonial Union. And they’ve invited the people of Earth to join them. For a shaken and betrayed Earth, the choice isn’t obvious or easy.

Against such possibilities, managing the survival of the Colonial Union won’t be easy, either. It will take diplomatic finesse, political cunning…and a brilliant “B Team,” centered on the resourceful Lieutenant Harry Wilson, that can be deployed to deal with the unpredictable and unexpected things the universe throws at you when you’re struggling to preserve the unity of the human race.

Being published online from January to April 2013 as a three-month digital serial, The Human Division will appear as a full-length novel of the Old Man’s War universe, plus—for the first time in print—the first tale of Lieutenant Harry Wilson, and a coda that wasn’t part of the digital serialization.

Fragments (Partials, #2) by Dan Wells

Tentative Release Date – February 26, 2013

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Kira Walker has found the cure for RM, but the battle for the survival of humans and Partials is just beginning. Kira has left East Meadow in a desperate search for clues to who she is. That the Partials themselves hold the cure for RM in their blood cannot be a coincidence—it must be part of a larger plan, a plan that involves Kira, a plan that could save both races. Her companions are Afa Demoux, an unhinged drifter and former employee of ParaGen, and Samm and Heron, the Partials who betrayed her and saved her life, the only ones who know her secret. But can she trust them?

Meanwhile, back on Long Island, what’s left of humanity is gearing up for war with the Partials, and Marcus knows his only hope is to delay them until Kira returns. But Kira’s journey will take her deep into the overgrown wasteland of postapocalyptic America, and Kira and Marcus both will discover that their greatest enemy may be one they didn’t even know existed.

The second installment in the pulse-pounding Partials saga is the story of the eleventh hour of humanity’s time on Earth, a journey deep into places unknown to discover the means—and even more important, a reason—for our survival.

Blood of Dragons (The Rain Wild Chronicles, #4) by Robin Hobb

Tentative Release Date – April 9, 2013

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The dragons’ survival hangs in the balance in the thrilling final volume in the acclaimed River Wilds chronicles fantasy series

The dragons and their dedicated band of keepers have at ast found the lost city of Kelsingra. The magical creatures have learned to use their wings and are growing into their regal inheritance. Their humans, too, are changing. As the mystical bonds with their dragons deepen, Thymara, Tats, Rapskal, and even Cedric, the unlikeliest of keepers, have begun transforming into beautiful Elderlings raked with exquisite features that complement and reflect the dragons they serve.

But while the humans have scoured the empty streets and enormous buildings of Kelsongra, they cannot find the mythical silver wells the dragons need to stay health and survive. With enemies encroaching, the keepers must risk “memory walking”- immersing themselves in the dangerously addictive memories of long-deceased Elderlings – to uncover clues necessary to their survival.

And time is of the essence, for the legendary Tintaglia, long feared dead, has returned, wounded in a battle with humans hunting dragon blood and scales. She is weakening and only the hidden silver can revive her. If Tintaglia dies, so, too, will the ancient memories she carries – a devastating loss that will ensure the dragons’ extinction.

The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince  by Robin Hobb

Tentative Release Date – February 28, 2013

TheWillfulPrincess

One of the darkest legends in the Realm of the Elderlings recounts the tale of the so-called Piebald Prince, a Witted pretender to the throne unseated by the actions of brave nobles so that the Farseer line could continue untainted. Now the truth behind the story is revealed through the account of Felicity, a low-born companion of the Princess Caution at Buckkeep.

With Felicity by her side, Caution grows into a headstrong Queen-in-Waiting. But when Caution gives birth to a bastard son who shares the piebald markings of his father s horse, Felicity is the one who raises him. And as the prince comes to power, political intrigue sparks dangerous whispers about the Wit that will change the kingdom forever…

Internationally-bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Robin Hobb takes readers deep into the history behind the Farseer series in this exclusive, new novella, ‘The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince.’ In her trademark style, Hobb offers a revealing exploration of a family secret still reverberating generations later when assassin FitzChivalry Farseer comes onto the scene. Fans will not want to miss these tantalizing new insights into a much-beloved world and its unforgettable characters.

Painting by Numbers (Shades of Grey, #2) by Jasper Fforde

Tentative Release Date – 2013

As of writing this post there is no specific release date, no blurb, and no cover.

Robin Hobb Addresses New Fitz & Fool Novel News

Robin Hobb is indeed working on a new novel focusing on two of her most beloved characters, Fitz and the Fool, but she really wishes we didn’t know about it just yet.

The story started with a listing appearing on Amazon.co.uk for a novel entitled "Fitz Fool 1 Hb [Hardcover]". Apart from a price, which seems somewhat humorous given the circumstances, there was no other information provided other than a release date of 10 April 2014, to be published by Harper Collins.

Needless to say, the internet was happy, for a very few moments, before Robin Hobb commented on her newsgroup.

With great reluctance, I am addressing this thread, as it simply won’t go away, I suppose.

An illustration taken from Robin Hobb's Assassin's Quest.

It seems as if Robin is working on a new novel centring on FitzChivalry Farseer and the Fool from her ‘Realm of the Elderlings’ series. Problem is, she never wanted people to know about it, so that she could write in peace and without the pressure that is associated with people knowing you’re working on a long-looked-for sequel.

Here is the full text from Robin’s post, which is definitely worth the read if you want to get into the mindset of the author. There are no spoilers, teasers, specks of information about the novel or anything. Simply an author confirming and addressing a rumour;

With great reluctance, I am addressing this thread, as it simply won’t go away, I suppose.

The accidental listing on Amazon.co.uk is extremely premature. I’d say very extremely except that’s a misuse of adverbs. I’m not blaming anyone for being curious about what the listing means! I just wish it hadn’t happened at all.

Clearly, for some time, my publishers have wanted me to write a continuation of the Fitz and Fool story . It was my hope to work on such a story slowly, carefully and very privately. For years. Because if I do it badly or hastily, I will have ended my career.

Thinking about readers’ opinions about what I’m writing while I’m writing a story has never been conducive (at least for me!) to getting words on paper.

I had hoped to avoid suggestions, ideas, queries, IM’s etc. about such work by not publicizing that I was even considering starting it.

But it’s out there now and there’s no dodging it.

I’m going to avoid posting about this. I’m not going to reply to any queries about it. Not because I’m trying to be a diva or an artiste, but because I need to focus on writing, not talking about writing. I think I’ve posted here before about what I see as the difference between Being a Writer and Writing. I’m not going to Be a Writer about this. There will be no hints, page counts, updates, teasers, or warnings that A Main Character Will Die! I know that many other writers use things like that to build excitement and increase internet chatter. But I don’t. For me, writing is like working on a long complicated math equation. If someone in the room is reciting phone numbers or saying the times table out loud, everything gets scrambled. So I’m going to insulate myself.

Oh, and while I’m very disappointed that this leaked out, I’m certainly not angry at anyone. Just wishing it hadn’t happened.

Robin

You can’t help but maybe see some attacks on authors like Brandon Sanderson in there, with her quip about "Being a Writer" and her refusal to post any "hints, page counts, updates, teasers, or warnings that A Main Character Will Die!" But that might be reading too much into the issue.

In the end, here’s what we can take away: there is a new Fitz and Fool novel coming. Sometime. End of story.

Source: sff.people.robin-hobb

Announcing Robin Hobb’s The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince

Subterranean Press announced last week that Robin Hobb will be publishing a 37,000 word novella in early 2013 entitled ‘The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince’.

Set to be released in two editions – a limited 250 signed and numbered copy with $60 and the fully cloth bound hardcover edition worth $35 – the story will be set in Robin Hobb’s beloved ‘Realm of the Elderlings’ Universe. Here is the full blurb;

One of the darkest legends in the Realm of the Elderlings recounts the tale of the so-called Piebald Prince, a Witted pretender to the throne unseated by the actions of brave nobles so that the Farseer line could continue untainted. Now the truth behind the story is revealed through the account of Felicity, a low-born companion of the Princess Caution at Buckkeep.

With Felicity by her side, Caution grows into a headstrong Queen-in-Waiting. But when Caution gives birth to a bastard son who shares the piebald markings of his father’s horse, Felicity is the one who raises him. And as the prince comes to power, political intrigue sparks dangerous whispers about the Wit that will change the kingdom forever…

Internationally-bestselling, critically-acclaimed author Robin Hobb takes readers deep into the history behind the Farseer series in this exclusive, new novella, “The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince.” In her trademark style, Hobb offers a revealing exploration of a family secret still reverberating generations later when assassin FitzChivalry Farseer comes onto the scene. Fans will not want to miss these tantalizing new insights into a much-beloved world and its unforgettable characters.

The cover will be illustrated by Subterranean favourite Jon Foster, who will also provide two full-colour interior illustrations which will be exclusive to the signed limited edition. To preorder, head on over to the Subterranean Press page and reserve your copy now!

Most Anticipated Books of 2012 – The Rest

Ryan Lawler and Josh Hill have set out to give you the run down on the best fantasy books being published in 2012.

Check out part two, ‘The Heavyweights’ and the last part, Our Favourites.

The Rest

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig cover image.

Miriam Black knows when you will die. She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.

But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.

No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

The Seabound Sea by Sam Sykes

The Southbound Sea cover image

After the misadventures of the first two books Lenk and his companions must finally turn away from fighting each other and for their own survival and look to saving the entire human race. A terrible demon has risen from beneath the sea and where it came from thousands could follow. And all the while an alien race is planning the extinction of humanity. The third volume in the Aeon’s Gate trilogy widens the action out dramatically. ‘Tome of the Undergates’ was based mainly on a ship, ‘Black Halo’ moved the action to an island of bones, The Skybound Sea takes us out into a world threatened with a uniquely imagined and terrifying apocalypse.

A Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

So far there is no cover and no blurb available for ‘A Red Country’ by Joe Abercrombie. However, you can head along to Abercrombie’s blog to check out what he has to say on the book.

So I’ve finished the first draft of the second part of my latest masterwork, workingly titled, ‘A Red Country,’ or possibly just, ‘Red Country,’ we will see on that score. For those who have failed to follow this blog religiously for the past few months (shame on you faithless scum), it is another semi-standalone set in the world of The First Law, and fusing fantasy elements with western elements, in the same way that The Heroes was a fantasy/war story and Best Served Cold fantasy/thriller-ish. That puts me about 40% of the way through a first draft, though I suspect there’ll be a fair bit of work to do once the first draft is complete. Isn’t there always? Now the terrifying wait for feedback from my editor and readers while I try and sort out what exactly I’m going to do with my next part. I guess one could say that if Part I was a little bit Searchers then Part II rolled into Lonesome Dove territory and Part III has something of a Deadwood/Fistful of Dollars motif.

Read more here.

City of Dragons (The Rain Wilds Chronicles) by Robin Hobb

City of Dragons cover image.

Return to the world of the Liveships Traders and journey along the Rain Wild River in the third instalment of high adventure from the author of the internationally acclaimed Farseer trilogy.

Kelsingra awaits for those brave enough to enter…

The dragons and their keepers have discovered Kelsingra but so far only Heeby has succeeded in flying over the river to enter the fabled city. The other dragons, with their deformed wings and feeble muscles, are afraid to risk failure and humiliation.

But wondrous things await in Kelsingra, a city built for dragons and their Elderling keepers. Alise, overwhelmed by the treasures she finds there, records her finds for posterity. Once the rest of the world knows about the riches the city contains, nothing will ever be the same again.

Already, rumours of the city’s discovery have floated down the Rain Wild River and reached envious ears in Bingtown and beyond. Adventurers, pirates and fortune hunters are coming in droves to pillage what they can from the city. As is Hest Finbok, Alise’s husband…

Meanwhile, Selden Vestrit finds himself a prisoner of the ailing Duke of Chalced, who believes him to be some sort of dragon-man whose flesh and blood may work miracle cures.

Where is Tintaglia, the great sapphire-blue dragon, when all have such need of her? Has she really abandoned her beloved Selden and the fledgling dragons forever? Or will she too return to seek the wonders of Kelsingra?

The Traitor Queen (Traitor Spy) by Trudi Canavan

The Traitor Queen cover image

Relieved that Lorkin is coming home, Sonea prepares to meet with the Traitors on behalf of the Guild. Then bad news arrives: the Sachakan king has imprisoned her son.

As the Sachakan king tries to force Lorkin into betraying the Traitors, Dannyl questions his friendship with Ashaki Achati. Can he trust the Sachakan? Not at all, if Tayend is right. But do Tayend’s suspicions spring from good political instincts, or jealousy?

Easily evading capture by the Guild, the Rogue knows only one obstacle lies between him and his ambition to rule the underworld: Cery. Forced into hiding, protected by Lilia, Cery must wait for the Guild to find his enemy. But is Black Magician Kallen purposefully failing in his task?

And Lorkin must decide where his loyalties lie, for whatever choice he makes will require a great sacrifice.

The Killing Moon (The Dream Blood) by N.K. Jemisin

The Killing Moon cover image

The city burned beneath the Dreaming Moon.

In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers – the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe . . . and kill those judged corrupt.

But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru – the most famous of the city’s Gatherers – must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering dreamers in the goddess’ name, stalking its prey both in Gujaareh’s alleys and the realm of dreams. Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill – or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic.

The Daylight War (The Demon Cycle) by Peter V. Brett

So far there is no cover for ‘The Daylight War’ by Peter V. Brett (unless you want the German cover) and no blurb. In fact, the book has been pushed back to be published in February of 2013, but we thought we would put it in here anyway. You can check out on all the details here on Peter’s website.

Trinity Moon (Wild Hunt) by Elspeth Cooper

Gair’s battle has only just begun, and yet his heart has already been lost. As he struggles with a crippling grief, still outwardly functional but inwardly torn into pieces, he sleepwalks into a situation that’s greater and more deadly than he or Alderan ever anticipated. A storm of unrest is spreading across the land and they are going to be caught up in it – at a moment when Gair’s hold on his magic, his greatest defence and most valuable tool, is starting to slip . . . He is not alone in noticing the growing unrest and sensing something darker looming behind it. Beyond the mountains, in the bitterly cold north, Teia has seen the signs as well. After hundreds of years of peace her people are talking of a risky invasion to reclaim their ancestral lands . . . her Speaker claims the gods are on their side, but Teia fears another, hidden hand of stirring her people up. Whatever the truth, all she can see in her future is blood, battle and death. If she could only see a way to avert that fate. But how can men be convinced to fight, when they have no idea they are part of a war . . . ?

The Devil’s Looking Glass (Sword of Albion) by Mark Chadbourn

The Devil's Looking Glass cover image

1593: The dreaded alchemist, black magician and spy Dr John Dee is missing…

Terror sweeps through the court of Queen Elizabeth, for in Dee’s possession is an obsidian mirror, a mysterious object of great power which legend says could set the world afire.

And so the call goes out to celebrated swordsman, adventurer and rake Will Swyfte – find Dee and his feared looking-glass and return them to London before disaster strikes. But when Will discovers the mirror may help him solve the mystery that has haunted him for years – the fate of his lost love, Jenny – the stakes become acutely personal.

With a frozen London under siege by supernatural powers, the sands of time are running out. Will is left with no choice but to pursue the alchemist to the devil-haunted lands of the New World – in the very shadow of the terrifying fortress home of England’s hidden enemy, the Unseelie Court.

Surrounded by an army of these unearthly fiends, with only his sword and a few brave friends at his back, the realm’s greatest spy must be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice – or see all he loves destroyed.

For more books being released in 2012, make sure you head back to the site this week for the Big Releases of 2012 and Ryan and Josh’s Most Anticipated Releases for 2012.

Most anticipated books of 2011 – part 3

This is the third and final part of a post which will look at the most anticipated books for 2011. Vague Release Date Books, Random Other Books of 2011 and My Most Anticipated Books of 2011 (today). Enjoy. – Josh

My most anticipated books of 2011

Inheritance by Robin Hobb
Image: The Inheritance book cover
Release Date: April 2011

I used to love Robin Hobb. Her Farseer Trilogy, The Liveship Traders Trilogy, and The Tawny Man Trilogy were all breathtakingly brilliant, and I long for the day that I can reread them again. However she took a turn when she moved onto the Soldier Son Trilogy, even though I actually liked the first book (the only one I’ve read). But it was with The Rain Wild Chronicles that I thought she had really taken a dramatic downturn in her writing. There is still a little blue sticky note sitting in Dragon Keeper where I stopped, within the first third of the book.

That being said, this collection of short stories might bring me back to why I loved Robin Hobb. I can only hope.

Bingtown heiresses rub shoulders in this wonderful collection with vampires and alien musicians, tramps and feral cats.

 

In The Homecoming, Lady Carillion Carrock and a number of other Jamaillian nobles are sailing to the Cursed Shores. Their journey is not by choice: for plotting against the Satrap, their wealth has been confiscated and they have been exiled. Until now, Carillion has done nothing but lead a life of privilege. She believes they are bound for wondrous cities, cities where ancient kings and queens dusted their skin with gold and wore jewels above their eyes. But when she is marooned by the ship’s unscrupulous captain, she will soon discover the grim reality of what survival in the Rain Wilds entails.

 

The Silver Lady is a would-be writer, eking out a dull existence by working in a Sears store. The one day a man comes in: fortyish, pleasant-looking. Nothing out of the ordinary. Except he says his name is Merlin, and he’s about to change her life.

 

Rosemary got involved with the wrong man. Pell is lazy, good for nothing, a bully. Her best friend Hilia knew it and so did her tom cat, Marmalade. But love is blind: Rosemary had Pell’s baby, renovated the cottage his grandfather left in his will, turned its land to good use; and then he left her for another woman. Now he’s back, and something must be done …

Bitterblue by Kristen Cashore
Release Date: September 2011

I don’t know what it is about Kristin Cashore, but I love her writing. She definitely doesn’t write epic fantasy, my favourite, but what she does write is intriguing and different and spellbinding, all the while being just that little bit simpler than what I normally read. So I’m really looking forward to this next book in the same universe she has written in with Graceling and Fire.

Set in the same world as her previous two novels, Bitterblue picks up the story of the Seven Kingdoms six years after the events of Graceling.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
Image: The Republic of Thieves book cover The Gentlemen’s Bastards book 3

Release Date: December 2011

The Gentlemen’s Bastards series is easily one of my favourite series. It combines great fantasy elements, together with great characters and thieves. It’s fantastic, and Scott Lynch knows how to tell a great story. I have been hanging out for this book, and I can only hope that The Republic of Thieves does in fact make it out this year.

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 Bonds Magi. 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 Bonds Sabetha has just one goal – to destroy Locke for ever. The Gentleman Bastard sequence has become a literary sensation in fantasy circles and now, with the third book, Scott Lynch is set to seal that success.

Now look what I’ve done? There are two books coming out this year, hopefully, that I can’t break apart, in terms of my excitement for them. So let me have this one, and with any luck we’ll make it to the end of 2011 having read both of these books.

The Crippled God by Steven Erikson
Image: The Crippled God book cover
Book Ten of The Malazan Book of the Fallen

Release Date: March 1, 2011

There has never been a series of books like Steven Erikson’s The Malazan Book of the Fallen. I still haven’t started Dust of Dreams, though I’m hesitant to until I know exactly when The Crippled God is coming, as I’ve heard it finishes on a cliffhanger. Either way, this book is definitely one of the ones I’ll be looking forward to most.

Savaged by the K’Chain Nah’Ruk, the Bonehunters march for Kolanse, where waits an unknown fate. Tormented by questions, the army totters on the edge of mutiny, but Adjunct Tavore will not relent. One final act remains, if it is in her power, if she can hold her army together, if the shaky allegiances she has forged can survive all that is to come. A woman with no gifts of magic, deemed plain, unprepossessing, displaying nothing to instill loyalty or confidence, Tavore Paran of House Paran means to challenge the gods — if her own troops don’t kill her first.

 

Awaiting Tavore and her allies are the Forkrul Assail, the final arbiters of humanity. Drawing upon an alien power terrible in its magnitude, they seek to cleanse the world, to annihilate every human, every civilization, in order to begin anew. They welcome the coming conflagration of slaughter, for it shall be of their own devising, and it pleases them to know that, in the midst of the enemies gathering against them, there shall be betrayal. In the realm of Kurald Galain, home to the long lost city of Kharkanas, a mass of refugees stand upon the First Shore. Commanded by Yedan Derryg, the Watch, they await the breaching of Lightfall, and the coming of the Tiste Liosan. This is a war they cannot win, and they will die in the name of an empty city and a queen with no subjects.

 

Elsewhere, the three Elder Gods, Kilmandaros, Errastas and Sechul Lath, work to shatter the chains binding Korabas, the Otataral Dragon, and release her from her eternal prison. Once freed, she will be a force of utter devastation, and against her no mortal can stand. At the Gates of Starvald Demelain, the Azath House sealing the portal is dying. Soon will come the Eleint, and once more, there will be dragons in the world. And so, in a far away land and beneath indifferent skies, the final cataclysmic chapter in the extraordinary ‘Malazan Book of the Fallen’ begins.

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Image: The Wise Man's Fear book cover
Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2

March 1, 2011

What fantasy list for 2011 would be complete without Patrick Rothfuss’ latest installation in the Kingkiller Chronicles. This book has been read twice since it was released, for me, and will probably be read again before I get to The Wise Man’s Fear. A marvel of storytelling, Rothfuss has skill that I’ve only rarely had the pleasure to read, and realise that I probably won’t encounter it much again in my life.

My name is Kvothe.

 

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

 

You may have heard of me.

 

So begins the tale of a hero told from his own point of view — a story unequaled in fantasy literature. Now in The Wise Man’s Fear, Day Two of The Kingkiller Chronicle, an escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe uncovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King’s Road.

 

All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, is forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived…until Kvothe.

 

In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

Summing Up
If I could, I would put The Sending by Isobelle Carmody and A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin in my top books as well, but I just can’t guarantee that they’ll be out this year. Even if they were, they would only have plugged in between Bitterblue and The Republic of Thieves, so the top three books that I’m looking forward to this year are clear.

Have your say below in the comments, and let me know why you think your favourite author is actually popular, despite not being on this list. (I kid, because I love).

Audio book review: Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb, read by Saskia Butler

Rating 8.0/10

Dragon Keeper is an intriguing look at human nature and interaction.

Buy Now!

Guided by the great blue dragon Tintaglia, they came from the sea: a Tangle of serpents fighting their way up the Rain Wilds River, the first to make the perilous journey to the cocooning grounds in generations. Many have died along the way. With its acid waters and impenetrable forest, it is a hard place for any to survive. People are changed by the Rain Wilds, subtly or otherwise. One such is Thymara. Born with black claws and other aberrations, she should have been exposed at birth. But her father saved her and her mother has never forgiven him. Like everyone else, Thymara is fascinated by the return of dragons: it is as if they symbolise the return of hope to their war-torn world. Leftrin, captain of the liveship Tarman, also has an interest in the hatching; as does Bingtown newlywed, Alise Finbok, who has made it her life’s work to study all there is to know of dragons. But the creatures which emerge from the cocoons are a travesty of the powerful, shining dragons of old. Stunted and deformed, they cannot fly; some seem witless and bestial. Soon, they become a danger and a burden to the Rain Wilders: something must be done. The dragons claim an ancestral memory of a fabled Elderling city far upriver: perhaps there the dragons will find their true home. But Kelsingra appears on no maps and they cannot get there on their own: a band of dragon keepers, hunters and chroniclers must attend them. To be a dragon keeper is a dangerous job: their charges are vicious and unpredictable, and there are many unknown perils on the journey to a city which may not even exist…

The Liveship Traders was a brilliant trilogy of books, amongst the best that the fantasy genre has ever seen. So when author Robin Hobb decided to return to the Rain Wild River to write a stand-alone adventure the news was greeted with great joy from her legions of fans around the world. Hobb had originally intended the new work to be just one volume but her publishers thought it wiser to split it into two books, Dragon Keeper and Dragon Haven.

Dragon Keeper is better suited to a female narrator and in Saskia Butler they chose well. Her youthful tone is well-matched to the two young female protagonists, Alise and Thymara, and her delivery is very entertaining and professional. The story itself is VERY character-driven; those familiar with Robin Hobb’s work will expect this but those new to her work should be aware that Robin Hobb does not write non-stop action-packed rollercoaster rides – the characters, and their deepest thought and feelings are paramount to her tales.

The Dragon Keeper audio-book is perfect for those desperate to know more of the dragons and Elderlings that feature in the Farseer, Liveship and Tawny Man books. It does in particular shine greater light on the Elderlings: who they were, how they came to be and – on this part I’m just guessing, and hoping – what became of them.

Dragon Keeper is an intriguing look at human nature and interaction that forms the introductory part of the whole that is The Rain Wild Chronicle. Dragon Haven promises to be even better…

Dragon Keeper: The Rain Wild Chronicles, Book 1
Robin Hobb
Unabridged
Narrator: Saskia Butler
Length: 17 hours and 3 min

Robin Hobb’s US book tour dates (Dragon Haven)

Image: Dragon Haven book cover Fantasy Book Review favourite Robin Hobb [link to biography], the author of the Farseer, Liveship Traders, Tawny Man, and Soldier Son trilogies,  is currently on a US tour promoting the second volume of The Rain Wilds Chronicles, Dragon Haven. It is unlikely that the author will be touring the UK.

Why not meet the author and get a copy of Dragon Haven signed if you are near any of these venues:

  • Tuesday, May 11, 2010
    UNIVERSITY BOOKSTORE
    4326 University Way, NE Seattle, WA 98105
  • Thursday, May 13, 2010
    BORDERLANDS BOOKS
    866 Valencia St San Francisco, CA 94110
  • Friday, May 14, 2010
    MYSTERIOUS GALAXY
    #302 7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92111
  • Saturday, May 15, 2010
    BARNES & NOBLE
    1530 Black Lake Blvd SW Olympia, WA 98502
  • Sunday, May 16, 2010
    POWELL’S BOOKSTORE
    Powells Cedar Hills Crossing 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd Beaverton, OR 97005
  • Thursday, May 20, 2010
    EAGLE HARBOR BOOKS
    157 Winslow Way E Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
  • Saturday, May 22, 2010
    UNCLE HUGO’S
    2864 Chicago Avenue S Minneapolis, MN 55407
  • Monday, May 24, 2010
    BOSWELL BOOK COMPANY
    2559 N Downer Ave Milwaukee, WI 53211

Warriors: including a new novella from George RR Martin

The world’s most talented science fiction and fantasy writers have grouped together to pen a collection of stories, all with warriors as the central theme.

Fantasy fans will be eager to get their hands on a copy of Warriors, particularly as it features a George RR Martin novella set in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire. Those impatient for the release of A Dance with Dragons (we are quite happy to wait thank you very much) will have something to assuage their hunger on, for a little while.

Fantasy Book Review favourite Robin Hobb has also contributed to the collection although we are unsure if her short story will expound on any of her earlier works. We are, like many I am sure, always eager to read more about Fitz and the Six Duchies.

Warrior also features new stories by Peter S Beagle and Tad Williams.

“People have been telling stories about warriors for as long as they have been telling stories. Since Homer first sang the wrath of Achilles and the ancient Sumerians set down their tales of Gilgamesh, warriors, soldiers, and fighters have fascinated us; they are a part of every culture, every literary tradition, every genre. All Quiet on the Western Front, From Here to Eternity, and The Red Badge of Courage have become part of our literary canon, taught in classrooms all around the country and the world. Our contributors make up an all-star lineup of award-winning and bestselling writers, representing a dozen different publishers and as many genres. We asked each of them for the same thing—a story about a warrior. Some chose to write in the genre they’re best known for. Some decided to try something different. You will find warriors of every shape, size, and color in these pages, warriors from every epoch of human history, from yesterday and today and tomorrow, and from worlds that never were. Some of the stories will make you sad, some will make you laugh, and many will keep you on the edge of your seat.”
George RR Martin

Here is a complete list of the authors that have contributed to Warriors:

  • George RR Martin
  • Diana Gabaldon
  • David Weber
  • David Ball
  • Peter S. Beagle
  • Lawrence Block
  • Gardner Dozois
  • Joe Haldeman
  • Robin Hobb
  • Cecelia Holland
  • Joe R Lansdale
  • David Morrell
  • Naomi Novik
  • James Rollins
  • Steven Saylor
  • Robert Silverberg
  • SM Stirling
  • Carrie Vaughn
  • Howard Waldrop
  • Tad Williams