Waiting on Wednesday: Black Sun


Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme linking Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking The Spine and Can’t Wait Wednesday by Wishful Endings


| Waiting on Wednesday: September 23 |

Black Sun

Book One of Between Earth and Sky

by Rebecca Roanhorse


A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.


To be published by Gallery / Saga Press on 13 October 2020

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Seventh Perfection


Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme linking Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking The Spine and Can’t Wait Wednesday by Wishful Endings


| Waiting on Wednesday: September 16 |

The Seventh Perfection

by Daniel Polansky


Hugo Award finalist Daniel Polansky crafts an innovative, mind-bending fantasy mystery in The Seventh Perfection.

When a woman with perfect memory sets out to solve a riddle, the threads she tugs on could bring a whole city crashing down. The God-King who made her is at risk, and his other servants will do anything to stop her.

To become the God-King’s Amanuensis, Manet had to master all seven perfections, developing her body and mind to the peak of human performance. She remembers everything that has happened to her, in absolute clarity, a gift that will surely drive her mad. But before she goes, Manet must unravel a secret which threatens not only the carefully prepared myths of the God-King’s ascent, but her own identity and the nature of truth itself.


To be published by Tor.com on 22 September 2020

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Waiting on Wednesday: These Violent Delights


Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme linking Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking The Spine and Can’t Wait Wednesday by Wishful Endings


| Waiting on Wednesday: September 09 |

These Violent Delights

by Chloe Gong


Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang-a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love . . . and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns-and grudges-aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.


To be published by Hodder & Stoughton / Margaret K. McElderry on 17 November 2020

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Review: The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor



The Ashes of London

Book One of Marwood and Lovett

by Andrew Taylor

Historical Fiction | 496 Pages | Published by Harper Collins in 2016


| Rating |


| TL;DR |

As the Great Fire rages and the utter devastation of London becomes ever more apparent, murder, mayhem and conspiracy abound. In order to protect both himself and his father, James Marwood must solve the unfolding mystery as it cuts dangerously close to both home and the crown.

Wonderfully descriptive and incredibly evocative throughout, The Ashes of London is a feast for the senses that had me guessing to the very end.

| Synopsis |

London, September 1666. The Great Fire rages through the city, consuming everything in its path. Even the impregnable cathedral of St. Paul’s is engulfed in flames and reduced to ruins. Among the crowds watching its destruction is James Marwood, son of a disgraced printer, and reluctant government informer.

In the aftermath of the fire, a semi-mummified body is discovered in the ashes of St. Paul’s, in a tomb that should have been empty. The man’s body has been mutilated and his thumbs have been tied behind his back.

Under orders from the government, Marwood is tasked with hunting down the killer across the devastated city. But at a time of dangerous internal dissent and the threat of foreign invasion, Marwood finds his investigation leads him into treacherous waters – and across the path of a determined, beautiful and vengeful young woman.

| Review |

A raging inferno. A mysterious young woman. A cold-blooded murder. As the Great Fire consumes all in its path, James Marwood, the son of a former traitor and a government clerk, becomes embroiled in murder and conspiracy as a body is pulled from the ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral. With the circumstances surrounding the victim’s death going well beyond the inferno, and talk of dark and dangerous conspiracies abound, Marwood must unravel a mystery which comes uncomfortably close to home.

Written with historical and atmospheric detail, The Ashes of London weaves a tale of freedom, murder and rightful vengeance amidst the flames and destruction of The Great Fire of London. Six years have passed since Charles II returned to the thrown and the pursuit of those who sentenced his father still holds the country in a vice of fear and distrust. As tales of murder and violence emerge from the ruins of the city, it becomes ever more apparent that a dark and dangerous conspiracy may be gaining traction in the heart of London itself.

Amidst the crumbling ruins of the old city, a tale of old enemies, bitter betrayals and freedom emerges as the protagonists, James Marwood and Catherine Lovett, vie to survive in the death throes of the old city and escape the sins of their fathers. From the raging inferno and crumbling city, to the ensuing fear and chaos, Andrew Taylor has written a rich and evocative novel which breaths life into the 17th century and conjures an atmosphere of tension, fear and suspicion.

With Utopian visions of Christopher Wren’s London, and the frightening, desolate comparison of a devastated city, the true strength of The Ashes of London is the evocative quality of Taylor’s writing as Restoration England comes to life. The plot steadily winds its way through these stark descriptions, which in no way hinders the tension developed in the ensuing chaos, to portray a city of profound corruption, excessive greed and unexpected optimism.

James Marwood, our first-person point of view character, is a likeable and interesting protagonist who finds himself in a number of hopeless situations as he hunts for a killer across the crumbling ruins of London. Whisked into plots far beyond his control, he must jump to the whims of his masters whilst protecting his ageing and ailing father who, as an ex-prisoner of the crown, often lets slip his treasonous views to the detriment of both himself and his son. As the narrative weaves a complex tale of treachery and murder, James must skilfully navigate both the dangerous streets of London and the upper echelons of society.

In alternating chapters, the story shifts from the first person perspective of James Marwood to the third person perspective of Catherine Lovett, daughter of a puritanical traitor. Cat is a gifted and unusual female (for her day), who whiles away the hours drawing and reinventing London under the watchful of eye of her aunt and uncle. But all is not as it seems in their household as Cat undergoes cruel manipulation and abuse at the hands of her family. Strong, forceful and fiercely independent in a world where she has few friends, Cat is a character whose traumatic life spurs her to live, to survive and to pursue those passions which give her both hope and a reason to live.

Andrew Taylor has written an incredibly vivid tale which relishes in detail, description and atmosphere. As James and Cat’s narratives circle one another in a tense and skilfully plotted tale, their stories converge in a satisfying conclusion which leaves neither king nor pauper untouched. With characters portrayed with as much verve as the city itself, The Ashes of London undoubtedly proves that Taylor’s reputation for both historic and crime fiction is unashamedly deserved.

The Ashes of London is a beautifully detailed and skilfully written novel which had me guessing to the very end. With a narrative paced by its descriptive and atmospheric journey through London, this is a novel to be savoured as the lines between good and evil, right and wrong, and noble and ignoble are hopelessly blurred.

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Waiting on Wednesday: God of Night


Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme linking Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking The Spine and Can’t Wait Wednesday by Wishful Endings


| Waiting on Wednesday: September 02 |

God of Night

Book Four of The God Fragments

by Tom Lloyd


The time for heroes has come, but all the Riven Kingdom has is bastards.

With war between the Militant Orders looming, the entire continent may soon be on fire. The very nature of magic has changed and the horrors of the deepest black are rising, but an even greater danger threatens to eclipse it all. Turning the tide of history may require a gamble only a bunch of drunken lunatics are willing to take.

The old ways need breaking and that’s one thing the Cards are good at. Just be careful what you wish for.


To be published by Gollancz in October 2020

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Review: Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie



Sharp Ends

by Joe Abercrombie

Fantasy | 287 Pages | Published by Gollancz in 2016


| Rating |


| TL;DR |

Sharp Ends is an anthology of thirteen stories set in the world of The First Law. With brilliantly dark humour, action packed battles, and frequent blood-lettings throughout, this is a collection which delights in introducing new faces amongst familiar friends and enemies, and is nothing short of a thrill ride from beginning to end.

| Synopsis |

The Union army may be full of bastards, but there’s only one who thinks he can save the day single-handed when the Gurkish come calling: the incomparable Colonel Sand dan Glokta.

Curnden Craw and his dozen are out to recover a mysterious item from beyond the Crinna. Only one small problem: no one seems to know what the item is.

Shevedieh, the self-styled best thief in Styria, lurches from disaster to catastrophe alongside her best friend and greatest enemy, Javre, Lioness of Hoskopp.

And after years of bloodshed, the idealistic chieftain Bethod is desperate to bring peace to the North. There’s only one obstacle left – his own lunatic champion, the most feared man in the North: the Bloody-Nine…

Sharp Ends combines previously published, award-winning tales with exclusive new short stories. Violence explodes, treachery abounds, and the words are as deadly as the weapons in this rogue’s gallery of side-shows, back-stories, and sharp endings from the world of the First Law.

| Review |

Introducing characters old and new, Sharp Ends is a chronological set of short stories that mark events both significant and insignificant, told and untold, from the world of The First Law.

Exciting and darkly humorous throughout, this collection displays Abercrombie’s wit, clever writing style and skilful characterisation as he forges links throughout the Circle of the World. And whilst knowledge of the other novels is not essential, overall enjoyment is likely to be increased by an understanding of the overarching events, backstories and familiar names and faces that comprise much of this anthology.

With a theme of two new central characters running throughout this collection, in Small Kindnesses, Skipping Town, Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd and Tough Times All Over, Shev and Javre prove a brilliant and engaging comedic duo who are thoroughly deserved of a series of their own. And with other favourites including A Beautiful Bastard and Made a Monster, which bring us face to face with familiar and long loved characters, this is an anthology which truly does have a story for all fans.

A Beautiful Bastard

[ Kadir, Spring 566 ]

A Beautiful Bastard takes us to a time before The First Law, when Sand dan Glokta was a swaggering cavalier whose skill was only outweighed by his ego. Told from the perspective of a blubbering and gushing Salem Rews, or Superior Pike as we now know him, this is a brilliant tale of Glokta’s magnificence before his destruction at the hands of the Gurkish. A thoroughly enjoyable and amusing tale, this short story is made all the more brilliant by the knowledge of Glokta’s and Rews’ futures and also features a cameo by Corporal Tunny.

Made a Monster

[ Carleon, Summer 570 ]

Logen Ninefingers returns to Sharp Ends in Made a Monster; a wonderfully brutal tale which showcases his bloody, brutal violence and features almost none of his redeeming qualities. Told from the perspective of Bethod, with more than a few glimpses of Scale, Calder, The Dogman and Curnden Craw, we see the Bloody Nine in all his fearsome glory from the side of those who dread the edge of his sword. A brilliantly bloody tale, Made a Monster provides a glimpse of Bethod’s determination to right his terrible wrong in creating the Bloody Nine.

Small Kindnesses

[ Westport, Autumn 573 ]

Small Kindnesses introduces us to Shevedieh, the best thief in Westport, as her life on the straight and narrow is brought to an abrupt end when a large, red-headed woman washes up on her doorstep. Accompanied by Severard – yes, that’s Practical Severard of Inquisition fame – her life is turned upside down by a job gone wrong, with her small act of kindness ending up her saving grace. This introduction to our recurring characters, Shev and Javre the Lioness of Hoskopp, is a funny, bloody and somewhat grim beginning that paves the way for a strange and wonderful relationship.

The Fool Jobs

[ East of the Crinna, Autumn 574 ]

The Fool Jobs tells the tale of Curden Craw and his dozen as they accept a contract to retrieve a mysterious item of value – a thing, let’s say – from the village of Fox Clan prior to the events of The Heroes. With nostalgic cameos from Wonderful, Whirrun of Bligh, Jolly Yon Cumber, Brack-i-Dayn and Scorry Tiptoe, The Fool Jobs is a funny snatch and grab tale that’s equal parts messy, bloody and hilarious.

Skipping Town

[ The Near Country, Summer 575 ]

In Skipping Town we return to Shev and Javre as they complete a job for Tumnor at The Weeping Slaver. Only there’s something not quite right, the job is more than likely a double cross and it’s high time they skip town. This action-packed and blood thirsty addition is brilliantly brutal and develops the powerful. warrior-like character of Javre as she is pursued by a mysterious and dangerous order from which she has fled.

Hell

[ Dagoska, Spring 576 ]

Hell tells the tale of the Siege of Dagoska from the perspective of Temple, who later features in Red Country alongside Shy South. A brutal, fiery and chaotic tale, Hell captures the dangerous atmosphere of a city under siege and the terrifying arrival of the Eaters.

Two’s Company

[ Somewhere in the North, Summer 576 ]

Two’s Company rejoins Shev and Javre as they meet Whirrun of Bligh on a flimsy bridge over a remote canyon. In a humorous and brutal bout between warriors, the Lioness of Hoskopp and Cracknut Whirrun find themselves treading over familiar, sword swinging ground as they are pursued by both Bethod and the Fifteen. Two’s Company is a funny, engaging and brilliantly bloody tale that could easily hold its own outside of this anthology. 

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

[ Styria, 580 ]

Wrong Place, Wrong Time tells the tale of three somewhat innocent bystanders who find themselves swept up in the wholesale destruction wrought by Monzcarro Murcatto as she enacts her revenge in Best Served Cold. From the Banking House of Valint and Balk, to Cardotti’s House of Leisure and the battlefields of Ospria, no one walks away untouched by The Snake of Talins’ vengeance. Wrong Place, Wrong Time is an exciting and bloodthirsty tale that showcases three brilliant alternative perspectives in the ensuing torrent of chaos, flames and blood.

Some Desperado

[ The Near Country, Summer 584 ]

Some Desperado tells the tale of Shy South before the events of Red Country. As she flees from three bounty hunters armed with nothing but a bag of gold and the clothes on her back, she must use all her cunning to fight, trick and escape her pursuers before she ends up hanging from the gallows. Some Desperado is an action packed, gritty tale which is a wonderful return to a familiar favourite.

Yesterday Near a Village Called Barden

[ Near Barden, Autumn 584 ]

In Yesterday Near a Village Called Barden, Pale-as-Snow is preparing an ambush against a troop of Union soldiers accompanied by Bremer dan Gorst in his position as Royal Observer – a position he’s been forced into after the disaster at Cardotti’s House of Leisure (which appears in Wrong Place, Wrong Time). Written during the events of The Heroes, this story is an action-packed and bloody skirmish told from numerous perspectives and proves that there’s nowhere safe when the swords start swinging.

Three’s a Crowd

[ Talins, Autumn 587 ]

Shev and Javre return in Three’s a Crowd after Shev’s lover, Carcolf, is abducted by Horald the Finger as a consequence of the events in Small Kindnesses. In a story laden with familiar faces – Vitari, Lieutenant Forest, Corporal Tunny and Lance Corporal Yolk to name but a few – Shev and Javre must embark on a rescue mission which unveils some uncomfortable truths for the Lioness of Hoskopp.

Freedom!

[ Averstock, Summer 590 ]

Freedom is an extract from Nicomo Cosca’s biography written by Spillion Sworbreck as he accompanies the Company of the Gracious Hand during the events of Red Country. A exaggerated, farcical and glorified narrative ensues which paints Cosca in hilariously flowery and heroic language as his company sack (nay, save!) the hillside town of Averstock. Freedom is a ridiculously funny tale which reads as though Cosca had written it himself.

Tough Times All Over

[ Sipani, Sping 592 ]

Tough Times All Over tells the tale of a mysterious package, which could well be the thing from The Fool Jobs, as it changes hands across the city of Sipani. The narrative is exciting and well written with the POV changing character each time the package is picked up, handed over or pilfered in its journey across the city. Joined by faces both old and new, Tough Times All Over is a fitting end to a brilliant anthology.


 

Darkly humorous with brilliant characterisation throughout, Sharp Ends is a wonderfully witty, nostalgic and exciting look at the stories between stories, alternative perspectives and unrecorded events that make up the Circle of the World.

I highly recommend reading this collection whilst already immersed in the universe of The First Law as each story weaves subtle links and ties through almost every other Abercrombie novel and discovering new connections heightened my enjoyment throughout. Consequently, this literary device may be lost on new readers or those who haven’t returned to Abercrombie’s writing in some time.

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Review: The Man with One Name by Tom Lloyd



The Man with One Name

A Tale of the God Fragments (Book 0.5)

by Tom Lloyd

Fantasy | 68 Pages | Published by Gollancz in 2018


| Rating |


| TL;DR |

Offering a gritty and Western style adventure, The Man With One Name introduces a younger, more sober Lynx before he finds himself a part of Anatin’s Mercenary Deck. Action-packed, exciting and just a little bit on the short side, this prequel is a fitting introduction to a series that always leaves the reader wanting more.

| Synopsis |

Salterin is a town full of fear. Fear and sheep. But mostly fear.

It lies in the north of a principality recently shattered by the Hanese war, cut off from its neighbours and warily watching the advance of winter. Bandits and wolves haunt the woods, but something worse lies within. A monster named Therian has installed himself as lord of the manor and no one is foolish enough to oppose him.

In their hour of need comes a man with one name. A man who will not suffer monsters. Or mutton. But mostly monsters.

| Review |

More than a year has past since the Hanese war, and Therian, a thug and self-appointed lord, has assumed control of the town of Salterin where cruelty and lawlessness now prevails.

Lynx, a drifter and a gunslinger, blows into the troubled town just when it needs him most. Striking up an unlikely friendship with local sheep farmer Sulay, a hardened old woman with a love for herding dogs, Lynx sets out to right the wrongs that fall at his doorstep and protect Salterin from the mounting trouble within.

A troubled town. A strange drifter. A convenient job opening as lawman. In a tale where even the title is an homage to Eastwood and the Western genre, The Man With One Name proves a fun and engaging twist on familiar Western tropes. And with only a hint of the gambling, drinking and debauchery we have grown accustomed to in The God Fragments, this prequel provides both a fitting introduction and an interesting background to Tom Lloyd’s brilliant protagonist.

Lynx, an ex-soldier of So Han, is a man with a past who strives to do the right thing even when it could cost him his life or his freedom. As he falls into the position of Salterin’s lawman, a position that reflects both his honour and his affinity for trouble, we are granted a brief but fascinating insight into his character before his association with Anatin’s Mercenary Deck.

With more than a hint of the Wild West, and described with the familiar richness we’ve come to expect from Lloyd’s writing, this novella introduces us to the untamed, rustic lands that lie between bustling towns. And with characters comprising an intriguing array of the good, the bad and the undoubtedly ugly, we are given a fascinating snapshot of those inhabiting this beautifully rendered frontier town turned dictatorship.

With particular favourites in Sulay, a grizzled and feisty sheep farmer, along with her herding dogs, whose lovable and dangerous nature quite often steal the show, this short novella manages to field both interesting characters and maintain more than a hint of the action-packed, bloody and descriptive writing that Stranger of Tempest wields with abandon.

Highly entertaining, if a little short, The Man With One Name provides a fitting, Western style introduction to The God Fragments that is entirely self-contained.  And, after whetting my appetite for a meaty, mercenary caper, I believe it’s high time that I added Princess of Blood to my library.

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Waiting on Wednesday: Bear Head


Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme linking Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking The Spine and Can’t Wait Wednesday by Wishful Endings


| Waiting on Wednesday: August 26 |

Bear Head

Book Two of Dogs of War

by Adrian Tchaikovsky


Mars. The red planet. A new frontier for humanity, a civilisation where humans can live in peace, lord and master of all they survey.

But this isn’t Space City from those old science-fiction books. We live in Hell City, built into and from a huge subcontinent-sized crater. There’s a big silk canopy over it, feeding out atmosphere as we generate it, little by little, until we can breathe the air.

It’s a perfect place to live, if you actually want to live on Mars. I guess at some point I had actually wanted to live on Mars, because here I am. The money was supposed to be good, and how else was a working Joe like me supposed to get off-planet exactly? But I remember the videos they showed us – guys, not even in suits, watching robots and bees and Bioforms doing all the work – and they didn’t quite get it right…


To be published by Head of Zeus on 07th January 2021

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Dead of Winter


Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday, a weekly meme linking Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking The Spine and Can’t Wait Wednesday by Wishful Endings


| Waiting on Wednesday: August 19 |

The Dead of Winter

by S.J. Parris


Return to the origins of master spy Giordano Bruno in three gripping tales from No.1 bestseller S. J. Parris.

The Secret Dead
During the summer of 1566, a girl’s body is found within the walls of a Neapolitan monastery. Novice monk Giordano Bruno has a habit of asking difficult questions, but this time his investigations may lose him his place in the Dominican Order – or deliver him into the hands of the Inquisition.

The Academy of Secrets
An invitation arrives from a secret society of enlightened philosophers, led by the eccentric Don Giambattista della Porta. Bruno is captivated – even more so when he meets della Porta’s beautiful niece. But keeping these new heretical secrets soon becomes a matter of life or death…

A Christmas Requiem
When Giordano Bruno is told the pope wants to see him, he fears he may be walking into a trap. The pope is intrigued by Bruno’s talent for complex memory games, but Rome is a den of intrigue, trickery and blood, and Bruno will be lucky to escape the Eternal City alive.


To be published by HarperCollins on 12th November 2020

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