Prince of Fools review

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Prince of Fools is the first book in Mark Lawrence's new series/trilogy, The Red Queen's War. The novel by the successful and critically acclaimed author of the Broken Empire trilogy (Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns and Emperor of Thorns) was released back in June 2014.  The follow-up, The Liar's Key will be out in June 2015.
The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire dread her like no other. For all her reign, she has fought the long war, contested in secret, against the powers that stand behind nations, for higher stakes than land or gold. Her greatest weapon is The Silent Sister—unseen by most and unspoken of by all. 
The Red Queen’s grandson, Prince Jalan Kendeth—drinker, gambler, seducer of women—is one who can see The Silent Sister. Tenth in line for the throne and content with his role as a minor royal, he pretends that the hideous crone is not there. But war is coming. Witnesses claim an undead army is on the march, and the Red Queen has called on her family to defend the realm. Jal thinks it’s all a rumor—nothing that will affect him—but he is wrong. 
After escaping a death trap set by the Silent Sister, Jal finds his fate magically intertwined with a fierce Norse warrior. As the two undertake a journey across the Empire to undo the spell, encountering grave dangers, willing women, and an upstart prince named Jorg Ancrath along the way, Jalan gradually catches a glimmer of the truth: he and the Norseman are but pieces in a game, part of a series of moves in the long war—and the Red Queen controls the board.
Great, great, great expectations. With three books among my favorites in the last few years, I admit that, indeed, the degree of anticipation I felt for Mark Lawrence's Prince of Fools was almost unfair, if it can be.

Lawrence's new work is set in the same universe as the Broken Empire trilogy and follows the same timeline, Prince Jalan's introduction taking place around the same period as Jorg's debut. Moreover, the narrative is, again, presented through the perspective of the main protagonist himself, a slightly older fellow, who should attract fewer comments. Is this the recipe for success for the author? It all depends on the character involved and his adventures.

First, it's clear that Jalan isn't Jorg and I believe that's a good thing, even if I loved reading about the Ancrath boy. Still, as the title explicitly mentions, he's the prince of Fools. He lives an easy life, far from having to face serious responsibilities. The young man is not dense, he's actually quite clever but as he's fond of pointing out, his cleverness is mostly associated with the degree of danger he's throwing himself into when women are involved and all the skills a coward has to develop to flee from the consequences of such activities. For the sake of comparison, I would say that Jalan's at breaking away as Jorg's to impulsive reactions and unrestrained bloody resolutions. That leads to several glorious lines like my latest kick-ass moment (here) or this example:
[...]I’m a good runner any day of the week. Scared shitless I’m world class. Two years ago, in the “border incident” with Scorron, I ran from a patrol of Teutons, five of them on big old destriers. The men I had charge of stayed put, lacking any orders. I find the important thing in running away is not how fast you run but simply that you run faster than the next man.[...]
Even if Jalan's initial presentation should rally the troops, he couldn't possibly remain idle. His life is turned inside out when he accidentally ''trips'' on a spell and the result is a new bond with none other than a huge northern barbarian who believes in the rise of the dead and happened to be a short term slave-gladiator for the prince. Snorri is the complete opposite of Jalan and will remain at his side for the whole book. Strangely enough, talk about a nice coincidence, his goal is to return to his family which happens to conveniently lead them to a convergence of 'undead' power attracting the force that should have died with the spell Jalan perturbed.

As soon as they depart, a long trek will take them from the Red Marsh all the way to the bitter ice of the north, the land of the Vikings, whose customs the people of the north have returned to since the day of the Thousand Suns. Snorri and the bunch of 'brothers' they stumble upon eventually fall head first into the stereotypical pattern associated with battle hungry Vikings. These types of characters are always colorful but their fervent nature makes them quite predictable. Jalan's forced companion (they are bound together by the spell...), ends up as a more compelling protagonist with the help of two of Lawrence's trademarks from the Thorns books, flashbacks and the 'elementally' sworn magical binding.

Three of four times during the long, but far from uneventful, trip to free themselves from the spell, Snorri opens up his inner self to Jalan when stopping at camps and recounts parts of the abduction of his wife and children by the Jarl Sven Broke-Oar and his necromancer friends from the infamous Drowned Isles. That's where much of the development of Jalan's personality takes place.  The carefree seducer is light sworn and inhabited by an angel while Snorri, the proud and righteous warrior, is dark sworn and visited by a demonic daughter of one of his gods. If you take the Red Queen's offspring initial identity and reshape it with his sworn opposite and his new-found sympathy for Snorri's story, you will find a nice evolution for a character that doesn't remain the prince of Fools forever (but isn't completely redeemed). Even Snorri felt more compelling afterward.

Still, Prince of Fools isn't the "paradise of introspection" that the Thorns books were. Jalan is almost breaking the fourth wall to speak his mind on some matters but that's less insightful than Jorg's observations on life as he sees it, excessive as it may be. Less serious might mean less fierce and inflamed but besides the occasional grins, under the pretense of a tale of survival lies an interesting story of unlikely friendship that we have seen before but not punctuated by Lawrence's direct approach and boldness.

For the readers of the Broken Empire trilogy, some cameos are included (like Taproot or brother Malkin to name a few) and some names are thrown in here and there (like Chella).  That's a nice touch, but what's even better is the two days the duo spends in Ancrath, right after the homecoming of the prodigal son. Awesome. However, I also noticed that the author seems to assume that the reader has already read the Thorns books. Prince of Fools doesn't include substantial greater scale world building. Everything is about the immediate threat or the surroundings of the journeyers. The world doesn't feel as deep and I wonder what a newcomer to Lawrence's universe would think...

To summarize, I would say that Prince of Fools is less provocative than the Thorns books, more straightforward, is lacking in term of feminine protagonists and circles around preconceived notions and worn-out characters but is also a great source for smirks, delivers a good dose of action and near death fighting, uses well the setting presented in the Broken Empire and its magic without showing many new sides of it, is written in a satisfying pace and offers an impressive character development curve significantly and skillfully raising the degree of 'compellingness' to a very high standard weaving a legitimate story.

I'll pick up the follow-up without a second of hesitation but this time, I'll strike some 'greats' from my expectations, while being fully aware that Mark Lawrence is a damn good writer and will certainly shock me in the future!

Cover:  Chris McGrath did a nice work but I still prefer Jason Chan covers for Lawrence previous books and the upcoming Liar's Key.
Release date: June 3rdh 2014
Map: Yes, of the Broken Empire
Number of pages: 355 pages hardcover edition
Acquisition method: My own e-book purchase
Other: No...

I liked...Was disappointed by...
Jalan and Snorri friendship evolutionSome parts of the long trek
The Thorns books crossingThe stereotypical Vikings
Jalan's observationsThe scaled down world building
Lawrence's writing

Prince of Fools review rating :

The Broken Eye review

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


The Broken Eye is the third novel by Brent Weeks in the Lightbringer series. The book was released back in august and is the follow up to The Blinding Knife (2012) and Black Prism (2010). The final volume in the series is titled The Blood Mirror and will see the light of day in the full spectrum... eventually.
As the old gods awaken and satrapies splinter, the Chromeria races to find its lost Prism, the only man who may be able to stop catastrophe. But Gavin Guile is enslaved on a pirate galley. Worse, Gavin no longer has the one thing that defined him -- the ability to draft. 
Without the protection of his father, Kip Guile will have to face a master of shadows alone as his grandfather moves to choose a new Prism and put himself in power. With Teia and Karris, Kip will have to use all his wits to survive a secret war between noble houses, religious factions, rebels, and an ascendant order of hidden assassins, The Broken Eye.
When I finished The Blinding Knife, I knew that Weeks had four books planned for the series but it felt as if it was only the start of a long series spanning 10 or more volumes. And in the case of the Lightbringer series previous entry, it wasn't that the story was voluntarily extended, it's simply that no definitive endings were in sight and I enjoyed myself so much that I would have liked to spend much more time with Weeks' characters than the planned four books. Consequently, that's still the felling I have after having read The Broken Eye and that's a good sign. I think that the Lightbringer series will be one of the Epic Fantasy series that people compare other series to, if it can finish as it started.  It's not outstanding, but it fills a gap in the Epic Fantasy field alongside the likes of Brandon Sanderson's works.

The meticulously crafted world of Weeks is expanding, opening up and it feels like it's been energized in The Broken Eye.  The solid and original but sometimes obvious magic system shows no limit. It's now simply in the details, in the doctrine of the Chromaturgy and the way it's been twisted that the magic of the author's intricate creation really shine. That support for the cast is a mitigating factor explaining the enjoyment I wrote about earlier. The birthing process was arduous and scholarly but it ended up as a classy proposition.

Among that endearing, charming and still patterned cast, Gavin Guile was previously the "main" hero, for the bigger part of the first volume, but Kip became more prominent when you consider the three books. The boy clearly emerges as the central piece of the puzzle.  With a unique voice, the conflicted teenager become aware of adulthood just around of the corner, shows more confidence but still act clumsily enough in many social aspects of his life to make me grin, more so since he clearly knows it and thinks about it all the time. Kip is Weeks best written character. That insight into his blunt and shaky psyche is a gem.

Moreover, Kip's confrontation with his grandfather, Andross, is becoming a compelling contest and the reality of his personal importance versus his squad mates and his Blackguard potential are well handled. All of this is happening while Gavin is discovering a new life he has to accept. For all that, I felt a discrepancy between the narratives of both characters, possibly due to the strangeness of the timeline in The Broken Eye. It didn't stick with me in the first two books but right at the start of some chapters or paragraphs, some weeks or months can go by.  It was probably a necessity for the story to evolve fast enough, even at a leisurely pace, and with a book already of that size, that's a must. Still, it felt strange.

In this charming, not too contemplative tale of the acknowledgment of responsibilities and the obvious power game, aside from the Guiles, The Broken Eye offers many gripping story threads and more than enough action to cheer for.  The White is playing her cards, Teia is going undercover with the self-evidently named spy-assassin Murder Sharp and his sect (a nice task for this less fascinating protagonist), even her indebted situation and the fact that she still struggle with liberty, Karis advancement, Ironfist and Tremblefist backstory... you name it! That's why it ought to last more than four books!

The core of the novel is clearly the power struggle, more interesting than an all-out warfare all across the world. However, by making that narrative choice, the author set aside Aliviana Danavis (and his father) and one of the main rivals, the Color prince. Sadly, that lack, aside from a few chapters, fails in explaining what happens to them in all those months!?! Again, it's more about the immediate threat of Gavin and the internal struggle of Kip, and that's why new characters could have popped up, some of them dying or standing on the side and the meta could have become stellar! Don't worry, there's some backstabbers among the cast.

Furthermore, prophecy has been an important part of the Lightbringer series so far with the representation of the important people of the world from the past to the present in the infamous cards of Nine Kings (you know, reminiscent of the Malazan dragon decks?).  I didn't really like the direction Weeks took with this element and the unavoidable presence of real Gods felt unnecessary. We'll see, I will have to thrust the author on this delicate matter. Gods and time meddling are treacherous grounds.

I hope I was able to show you how good and entertaining but not without flaws this series and particular novel are. I did say charming and I meant it. Many characters are simply heroic and against all odds, they succeed. A happy ending? Yes, in some storylines, it looks like a no-brainer. But judging by the characters killed, there's still hope of more surprises. And Brent, please take into consideration the info dumps like the payer of the Broken Eye (ouch) or all the recurrences on the previous books story. Gavin flashbacks were a blast tough. Give us more of his past! A prequel!

The Broken Eye filled an Epic Fantasy gap for me, it felt like a very comfortable blanket that I couldn't get under for long enough!

Cover:  Better than the Blinding Knife but the cover quote... it wasn't necessary. Did you know that every secret hold a truth? Darn! The design is the work of Lauren Panepinto, the illustration from Silas Manhood and the photography by Shirley Green.
Release date: August 26th 2014
Map: Yes, of the Seven Satrapies and the Jaspers
Number of pages: 816 pages hardcover edition
Acquisition method: My own e-book purchase
Other: A nice glossary and character list

I liked...Was disappointed by...
KipThe time lapses
Gavin flashbacksThe lack of some characters
The magic system evolution/handlingSome infodumps and recurrences
The multitude of storylines

The Broken Eye review rating :

A Round of covers

Monday, January 12, 2015

As some of you have noticed, in my yearly coming up post for 2015, some new cover art surfaced. With the addition of a gorgeous cover and interior illustrations for the Subterranean Press limited edition of Steven Erikson's House of Chains (thanks to Tor.com for the heads up) by the talented artist Sam Burley (his page), I think it was time for a small round!

***

House of Chains
Steven Erikson - Subterranean Press limited edition
Cover and interior art by Sam Burley






***

Queen of Fire
Anthony Ryan
UK cover art (followed by previously unveiled US cover)
Cover by Nick Castle and Nico Taylor



***

Black Heart
Mark Smylie
Cover by Gene Mollica again?


***

Fool's Quest
Robin Hobb
Cover art by Alejandro Colucci


Coming up in 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What will we read in 2015? Here's my spotlight for the upcoming year. As usual, I will add new books each months.

What do you think? Will 2015 be great in Fantasy reading?

***
January
***


The Providence of Fire
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne book 2
Brian Staveley
January 13th
The conspiracy to destroy the ruling family of the Annurian Empire is far from over. 
Having learned the identity of her father's assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, the people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy. Unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn, renegade member of the empire's most elite fighting force, has allied with the invading nomads. The terrible choices each of them has made may make war between them inevitable.  
Between Valyn and Adare is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with the help of two strange companions. The knowledge they possess of the secret history that shapes these events could save Annur or destroy it.
***


The Boy Who Wept Blood
Erebus Sequence book 2
Den Patrick
January 29th
With his rich evocation of the Italian Renaissance-like realm of Landfall, his uniquely appealing way with flawed yet empathic characters and his ability to write gripping scenes of both action and subterfuge, Den Patrick has already established himself as a new favourite for fans of Scott Lynch and Robin Hobb alike. 
Ten years have passed since the disappearence of Lucien and his protege, the young swordsman Dino, is struggling to live up to Lucien's legacy. Sworn to protect the silent queen Anea as she struggles to bring a new democracy to Demesne, Dino finds himself drawn into a deadly game of political intrigue as the aristocratic families of Landfall conspire to protect their privilege. Always ready to prove himself as a swordsman Dino is anguished to discover that in order to fulfil his vow he must become both spy and assassion. 
And all the while the dark secret at the heart of Demesne is growing towards fulfilment.
***
February
***


The Autumn Republic
The Powder Mage book 3
Brian McClellan
February 10th
Adopest has fallen... 
Field Marshal Tamas returns to his beloved country to find that for the first time in history, the capital city of Adro lies in the hands of a foreign invader. His son is missing and his allies are indistinguishable from his foes, and reinforcements are several weeks away. 
With the Kez still bearing down upon them and without clear leadership, the Adran army has turned against itself. Inspector Adamat is drawn into the very heart of this new mutiny with promises of finding his kidnapped son. 
And Taniel Two-shot, hunted by men he once thought his friends, must safeguard the only chance Adro has of getting through this war without being destroyed...
***


Half the World
The Shattered Sea book 2
Joe Abercrombie
February 12th
Sometimes a girl is touched by Mother War. 
Thorn is such a girl. Desperate to avenge her dead father, she lives to fight. But she has been named a murderer by the very man who trained her to kill. 
Sometimes a woman becomes a warrior. 
She finds herself caught up in the schemes of Father Yarvi, Gettland’s deeply cunning minister. Crossing half the world to find allies against the ruthless High King, she learns harsh lessons of blood and deceit. 
Sometimes a warrior becomes a weapon. 
Beside her on the journey is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill, a failure in his eyes and hers, but with one chance at redemption. 
And weapons are made for one purpose. 
Will Thorn forever be a pawn in the hands of the powerful, or can she carve her own path?
***


Those Above
The Empty Throne book 1
Daniel Polansky
February 26th
They enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the centre of the world. They are called Those Above by their subjects. They enforce their will with fire and sword.  
Twenty five years ago mankind mustered an army and rose up against them, only to be slaughtered in a terrible battle. Hope died that day, but hatred survived. Whispers of another revolt are beginning to stir in the hearts of the oppressed: a woman, widowed in the war, who has dedicated her life to revenge; the general, the only man to ever defeat one of Those Above in single combat, summoned forth to raise a new legion; and a boy killer who rises from the gutter to lead an uprising in the capital.
***


The Iron Ghost
The Copper Promise book 2
Jen Williams
February 26th
Beware the dawning of a new mage... 
Wydrin of Crosshaven, Sir Sebastian and Lord Aaron Frith are experienced in the perils of stirring up the old gods. They are also familiar with defeating them, and the heroes of Baneswatch are now enjoying the perks of suddenly being very much in demand for their services. 
When a job comes up in the distant city of Skaldshollow, it looks like easy coin - retrieve a stolen item, admire the views, get paid. But in a place twisted and haunted by ancient magic, with the most infamous mage of them all, Joah Demonsworn, making a reappearance, our heroes soon find themselves threatened by enemies on all sides, old and new. And in the frozen mountains, the stones are walking...
***
March
***

The Black Dream
Heart of the World book 3
Col Buchanan
March 12th

THE VOYAGE INTO DARKNESS HOLDS NO MERCY 
As the empire of Mann threatens the world with enslavement, only a single island nation continues to stand in its way - the Free Ports of the democras. For ten years they have held their own, but now the empire draws its noose even tighter over them. 
Rallying to its defence are those from the secretive network known as the Few, including the cripple and troubleshooter Coya Zeziké. Coya has hopes of enlisting the forest contrarè in the aid of the besieged city of Bar-Khos. With him is Shard, the only Dreamer of the Free Ports, a woman capable of manipulating waking reality or the strange dimensions of the Black Dream. 
The Roshun order of assassins have also engaged in the war at last. But Ash, their ailing farlander, has more urgent business to overcome. Facing him is a skyship voyage into the Great Hush, then further journeying to the fabled Isles of Sky, where he hopes bring his dead apprentice Nico back to life. Yet, his voyage into the unknown may save more than just Nico . . . it may save the Free Ports themselves. 
***


Old Man's Ghosts 
The Empire of a Hundred Houses book 2
Tom Lloyd
March 19th
Some men can never outrun their ghosts. 
Enchei thought he'd found a home at last - a life of quiet obscurity far removed from the horror of his military days. After a decade in the Imperial City his mistakes have been few, but one has now returned to haunt him. 
As Narin's pregnant lover comes to term, life has never been so perilous. There couldn't be a worse time for a nightmare to be unleashed on the Imperial City, but luck's rarely been on Narin's side. 
Once, Enchei swore he'd take his own life rather than let his past catch up with him, but now it's not just his own in the balance. Demons, rogue mages and vengeful noblemen haunt the city - and a man's ghosts are always watching and waiting...
***


The Skull Throne
Demon Cycle book 4
Peter V. Brett
31st March

***


The Voyage of the Basilisk
Memoir by Lady Trent book 3
Marie Brennan
March 31th
Devoted readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoirs, A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, may believe themselves already acquainted with the particulars of her historic voyage aboard the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, but the true story of that illuminating, harrowing, and scandalous journey has never been revealed—until now. Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Isabella embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world to study all manner of dragons in every place they might be found. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is not only her young son, Jake, but a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella’s in ways both professional and personal. 
Science is, of course, the primary objective of the voyage, but Isabella’s life is rarely so simple. She must cope with storms, shipwrecks, intrigue, and warfare, even as she makes a discovery that offers a revolutionary new insight into the ancient history of dragons.
***
April
***


The Warring States
 The Wave Trilogy book 2
Aidan Harte
April 1st
After the rout at Rasenna, Concord faces enemies on all fronts, and nobody believes that the last surviving Apprentice is equal to these crises – but Torbidda didn’t become Apprentice by letting himself be manipulated. 
While Sofia is struggling to understand her miraculous pregnancy, the City of Towers grows wealthy. But it’s not long before the people of Rasenna start arguing again, and as the city falls apart once more, Sofia realises she must escape Etruria to save her baby. 
When prophecy leads her to another cesspit of treachery, the decadent Crusader kingdom of Oltremare, Sofia begins to despair, for this time she can see no way out… 
***


A Crown For Cold Silver
Alex Marshall
April 14th
An outstanding, game-changing epic fantasy debut featuring an unforgettable female warrior. 
FIVE VILLAINS. ONE LEGENDARY GENERAL. A FINAL QUEST FOR VENGEANCE. 
Twenty years ago, feared general Cobalt Zosia led her five villainous captains and mercenary army into battle, wrestling monsters and toppling an empire. When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, she retired and gave up her legend to history. 
Now the peace she carved for herself has been shattered by the unprovoked slaughter of her village. Seeking bloody vengeance, Zosia heads for battle once more, but to find justice she must confront grudge-bearing enemies, once-loyal allies, and an unknown army that marches under a familiar banner. 
A CROWN FOR COLD SILVER is an outstanding epic fantasy debut featuring an unforgettable warrior.
***


Clash of Iron
Iron Age book 2
Angus Watson
April 14th
LEADERS ARE FORGED IN THE FIRES OF WAR 
Iron Age warriors Dug and Lowa captured Maidun castle and freed its slaves. But now they must defend it. 
A Roman invasion is coming from Gaul, but rather than uniting to defend their home, the British tribes go to battle with each other -- and see Maidun as an easy target. 
Meanwhile, Lowa's spies infiltrate Gaul, discovering the Romans have recruited British druids. And Maidunite Ragnall finds his loyalties torn when he meets Rome's charismatic general, Julius Caesar. 
War is coming. Who will pay its price?
***


Greatcoat's Lament
Greatcoats book 2
Sebastien de Castell
April 28th
Falcio val Mond is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom and then began fighting among themselves.

The horrifying murder of a duke and his family sends Falcio in a deadly pursuit to capture the killer. But Falcio soon discovers his own life is in mortal danger from a poison administered as a final act of revenge by one of his deadliest enemies. As chaos and civil war begin to overtake the country, Falcio has precious little time left to stop those determined to destroy his homeland. 
Greatcoat's Lament is a dark swashbuckling tale of idealism and betrayal in a country crushed under the weight of its rulers' corruption. It is the second book in the Greatcoat's series that began with Traitor's Blade.
***
May
***


The Vagrant
Peter Newman
May 1st
The Vagrant is his name. He has no other. Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the sword, the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war. But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.
***


Sword of the North
Grim Company book 2
Luke Scull
May 5th
Some legends never die... 
In The Grim Company, Luke Scull introduced a formidable and forbidding band of anti-heroes battling against ruthless Magelords and monstrous terrors. The adventure continues as the company—now broken—face new dangers on personal quests….  
As Davarus Cole and his former companions were quick to discover, the White Lady’s victorious liberation of Dorminia has not resulted in the freedom they once imagined. Anyone perceived as a threat has been seized and imprisoned—or exiled to darker regions—leaving the White Lady’s rule unchallenged and absolute. But the White Lady would be wiser not to spurn her former supporters: Eremul the Halfmage has learned of a race of immortals known as the Fade, and if he cannot convince the White Lady of their existence, all of humanity will be in danger.
Far to the north, Brodar Kayne and Jerek the Wolf continue their odyssey to the High Fangs only to find themselves caught in a war between a demon horde and their enemy of old, the Shaman. And in the wondrous city of Thelassa, Sasha must overcome demons of her own.
***

King of Ashes
The War of Five Crowns book 1
Raymond E. Feist
May 6th
A new novel from the internationally bestselling author, Raymond E. Feist. After 30 years and as many books, Raymond E. Feist's Midkemia series, The Riftwar Cycle, came to a satisfyingly cataclysmic end in 2013. Next year will mark the publication of Feist's first non-Midkemia based book for many years. KING OF ASHES is the first book in the planned WAR OF FIVE CROWNS trilogy and draws influences from medieval history and Arthurian legend.
***

Lord of Ashes
Steelhaven book 3
Richard Ford
May 7th
FIGHT TO THE DEATH... 
The queen of Steelhaven has grown in strength. Taking up her dead father's sword, she must defend the city from the dread warlord Amon Turgha and his blood-thirsty army now at the gates. A vicious, unrelenting four-day battle ensues, the most perilous yet. 
...OR BOW TO THE ENEMY 
No side is immune from danger as all hell breaks loose, with the threat of coups and the unleashing of the deadliest and darkest magick. Loyalty, strength and cunning will be put to test in the quest for victory. What fate awaits the free states?
***


Trial of Intentions
Vault of Heaven book 2
Peter Orullian
May 26th
The gods who created this world have abandoned it. In their mercy, however, they chained the rogue god—and the monstrous creatures he created to plague mortalkind—in the vast and inhospitable wasteland of the Bourne. The magical Veil that contains them has protected humankind for millennia and the monsters are little more than tales told to frighten children. But the Veil has become weak and creatures of Nightmare have come through. To fight them, the races of men must form a great alliance to try and stop the creatures. 
But there is dissent. One king won’t answer the call, his pride blinding him even to the poison in his own court. Another would see Convocation fail for his own political advantage. And still others believe Convocation is not enough. Some turn to the talents of the Sheason, who can shape the very essence of the world to their will. But their order is divided, on the brink of collapse. 
Tahn Junell remembers friends who despaired in a place left barren by war. One of the few who have actually faced the unspeakable horde in battle, Tahn sees something else at work and wonders about the nature of the creatures on the other side of the Veil. He chooses to go to a place of his youth, a place of science, daring to think he can find a way to prevent slaughter, prevent war.  
And his choices may reshape a world . . . .
***

The Silver King
The Silver Kings book 3
Stephen Deas
May

***
June
***


The Liar's Key
The Red Queen’s War book 2
Mark Lawrence
June 2nd
The eyes of the mighty are on the North. Loki’s key has been found and lies in the hands of a feckless prince and a weary warrior. 
Winter has locked Prince Jalan Kendeth far from the luxury of his southern palace. The North may be home to Viking Snorri ver Snagason but he is just as eager to leave. However, even men who hold a key that can open any door must wait for the thaw. 
As the ice unlocks its jaws the Dead King moves to claim what was so nearly his. But there are other players in this game, other hands reaching for Loki’s key.
Jalan wants only to return to the wine and women of the south, but Snorri has a different and terrifying goal. The warrior aims to find the very door into death and throw it wide. Snorri ver Snagason will challenge all of Hell if that’s what it takes to bring his wife and children back into the living world. He has found the key – now all he needs is to find the door. 
But pawns are played to sacrifice and the Red Queen set both these men upon her board. How many moves ahead has the Silent Sister seen? How far will they get before their part in the game is over?
***

The Floating City
Craig Cormick
June 2nd
In the divided land of England, Elizabeth Barnabus has been living a double life - as both herself and as her brother, the private detective. Witnessing the hanging of Alice Carter, the false duchess, Elizabeth resolves to throw the Bullet Catcher's Handbook into the fire, and forget her past. If only it were that easy! 
There is a new charitable organisation in town, run by some highly respectable women. But something doesn't feel right to Elizabeth. Perhaps it is time for her fictional brother to come out of retirement for one last case...? Her unstoppable curiosity leads her to a dark world of body-snatching, unseemly experimentation, politics and scandal. Never was it harder for a woman in a man's world...
***


Storm and Steel
The Book of the Black Earth book 2
Jon Sprunk
June 2nd
An empire at war. Three fates intertwined.

The Magician. Horace has destroyed the Temple of the Sun, but now he finds his slave chains have been replaced by bonds of honor, duty, and love. Caught between two women and two cultures, he must contend with deadly forces from the unseen world.

The Rebel. Jirom has thrown in his lot with the slave uprising, but his road to freedom becomes ever more dangerous as the rebels expand their campaign against the empire. Even worse, he feels his connection with Emanon slipping away with every blow they strike in the name of freedom.

The Spy. Alyra has severed her ties to the underground network that brought her to Akeshia, but she continues the mission on her own. Yet, with Horace’s connection to the queen and the rebellion’s escalation of violence, she finds herself treading a knife’s edge between love and duty.

Dark conspiracies bubble to the surface as war and zealotry spread across the empire. Old alliances are shattered, new vendettas are born, and all peoples—citizen and slave alike—must endure the ravages of storm and steel.
***


Blood Will Follow
The Valhalla Saga book 2
Snorri Kristijansson
June 5th
Ulfar Thormodsson and Audun Arngrimsson have won the battle for Stenvik, although at huge cost, for they have suffered much worse than heartbreak. They have lost the very thing that made them human: their mortality. 
While Ulfar heads home, looking for the place where he thinks he will be safe, Audun runs south. But both men are about to discover that they can not run away from themselves. 
King Olav might have been defeated outside the walls of Stenvik, but now Valgard leads him north, in search of the source of the Vikings’ power. 
All the while there are those who watch and wait, biding their time, for there are secrets yet to be discovered…
***


Ruin
The Faithful and the Fallen book 3
John Gwynne
June 18th
The Banished Lands are engulfed in war and chaos. The cunning Queen Rhin has conquered the west and High King Nathair has the cauldron, most powerful of the seven treasures. At his back stands the scheming Calidus and a warband of the Kadoshim, dread demons of the Otherworld. They plan to bring Asroth and his host of the Fallen into the world of flesh, but to do so they need the seven treasures. Nathair has been deceived but now he knows the truth. He has choices to make, choices that will determine the fate of the Banished Lands. 
Elsewhere the flame of resistance is growing - Queen Edana finds allies in the swamps of Ardan. Maquin is loose in Tenebral, hunted by Lykos and his corsairs. Here he will witness the birth of a rebellion in Nathair's own realm. 
Corban has been swept along by the tide of war. He has suffered, lost loved ones, sought only safety from the darkness. But he will run no more. He has seen the face of evil and he has set his will to fight it. The question is, how? With a disparate band gathered about him - his family, friends, giants, fanatical warriors, an angel and a talking crow he begins the journey to Drassil, the fabled fortress hidden deep in the heart of Forn Forest. For in Drassil lies the spear of Skald, one of the seven treasures, and here it is prophesied that the Bright Star will stand against the Black Sun.
***
July
***


The Chart of Tomorrows
Gaunt and Bone book 3
Chris Willrich
July 7th
The poet Persimmon Gaunt and the thief Imago Bone had sought only to retire from adventuring and start a family, but they never reckoned on their baby becoming the chosen vessel of the mystical energies of a distant Eastern land. With their son Innocence hunted by various factions hoping to use him as a tool, they kept him safe at the cost of trapping him in a pocket dimension of accelerated time.  
Now free, the thirteen-year-old Innocence has rejected his parents and his "destiny" and has made dangerous friends in a barbaric Western land of dragon-prowed ships and rugged fjords. Desperately, Gaunt and Bone seek to track him down, along with their companion Snow Pine and her daughter A-Girl-Is-A-Joy, who was once trapped with Innocence too. 

But as the nomadic Karvaks and their war-balloons strike west, and a troll-king spins his webs, and Joy is herself chosen by the spirit of the very land Innocence has fled to, Gaunt and Bone find themselves at the heart of a vast struggle -- and their own son is emerging from that conflict as a force of evil. To save him and everything they know, they turn to a dangerous magical book, The Chart of Tomorrows, that reveals pathways through time. Upon the treacherous seas of history, Gaunt and Bone must face the darkness in each other’s pasts, in order to rescue their future.

***


Queen of Fire
Raven's Shadow book 3
Anthony Ryan
July 7th
“The Ally is there, but only ever as a shadow, unexplained catastrophe or murder committed at the behest of a dark vengeful spirit. Sorting truth from myth is often a fruitless task.” 
After fighting back from the brink of death, Queen Lyrna is determined to repel the invading Volarian army and regain the independence of the Unified Realm. Except, to accomplish her goals, she must do more than rally her loyal supporters. She must align herself with forces she once found repugnant—those who possess the strange and varied gifts of the Dark—and take the war to her enemy’s doorstep. 
Victory rests on the shoulders of Vaelin Al Sorna, now named Battle Lord of the Realm. However, his path is riddled with difficulties. For the Volarian enemy has a new weapon on their side, one that Vaelin must destroy if the Realm is to prevail—a mysterious Ally with the ability to grant unnaturally long life to her servants. And defeating one who cannot be killed is a nearly impossible feat, especially when Vaelin’s blood-song, the mystical power which has made him the epic fighter he is, has gone ominously silent…
***

The Mortal Tally
Bring Down Heaven book
Sam Sykes
July 7th
The heart of civilization bleeds. 
Cier'Djaal, once the crowning glory of the civilized world, has gone from a city to a battlefield and a battlefield to a graveyard. Foreign armies clash relentlessly on streets laden with the bodies of innocents caught in the crossfire. Cultists and thieves wage shadow wars, tribal armies foment outside the city's walls, and haughty aristocrats watch the world burn from on high. 
As his companions struggle to keep the city from destroying itself, Lenk travels to the Forbidden East in search of the demon who caused it all. But even as he pursues Khoth-Kapira, dark whispers plague his thoughts. Khoth-Kapira promises him a world free of war where Lenk can put down his sword at last. And Lenk finds it hard not to listen. 
When gods are deaf, demons will speak.
***


The Darkling Child
 The Defenders of Shannara book 2
Terry Brooks
July 7th
Paxon Leah has joined the Druid Order as a paladin, tasked with protecting the Druids with the aid of his magical sword. But Paxon’s toughest assignment will come when he must track down a young musician with newly-manifested magic before a rival sorcerer can corrupt the boy.
***


The Price of Valour
The Shadow Campaigns book 3
Django Wexler
July 9th
In the latest Shadow Campaigns novel, Django Wexler continues his “epic fantasy of military might and magical conflict”* following The Shadow Throne and The Thousand Names, as the realm of Vordan faces imminent threats from without and within. 
In the wake of the King’s death, war has come to Vordan. 
The Deputies-General has precarious control of the city, but it is led by a zealot who sees traitors in every shadow. Executions have become a grim public spectacle. The new queen, Raesinia Orboan, finds herself nearly powerless as the government tightens its grip and assassins threaten her life. But she did not help free the country from one sort of tyranny to see it fall into another. Placing her trust with the steadfast soldier Marcus D’Ivoire, she sets out to turn the tide of history. 
As the hidden hand of the Sworn Church brings all the powers of the continent to war against Vordan, the enigmatic and brilliant general Janus bet Vhalnich offers a path to victory. Winter Ihernglass, newly promoted to command a regiment, has reunited with her lover and her friends, only to face the prospect of leading them into bloody battle. 
And the enemy is not just armed with muskets and cannon. Dark priests of an ancient order, wielding forbidden magic, have infiltrated Vordan to stop Janus by whatever means necessary…
***


Chaos Unleashed
Chaos Born book 3
Drew Karpyshyn
July 14th
Long ago the gods chose a great hero to act as their agent in the mortal world and to stand against the demonic spawn of Chaos. The gods gifted their champion, Daemron, with three magical Talismans: a sword, a ring, and a crown. But the awesome power at his command corrupted Daemron, turning him from savior to destroyer. Filled with pride, he dared to challenge the gods themselves. Siding with the Chaos spawn, Daemron waged a titanic battle against the Immortals. In the end, Daemron was defeated, the Talismans were lost, and Chaos was sealed off behind the Legacy—a magical barrier the gods sacrificed themselves to create. 
Now the Legacy is fading. On the other side, the banished Daemron stirs. And across the scattered corners of the land, four children are born of suffering and strife, each touched by one aspect of Daemron himself—wizard, warrior, prophet, king. 
Bound by a connection deeper than blood, the Children of Fire will either restore the Legacy or bring it crashing down, freeing Daemron to wreak his vengeance upon the mortal world.
***
August
***


The Spider's War
The Dagger and the Coin book 5
Daniel Abraham
August 4th
Lord Regent Geder Palliako's great war has spilled across the world, nation after nation falling before the ancient priesthood and weapon of dragons. But even as conquest follows conquest, the final victory retreats before him like a mirage. Schism and revolt begin to erode the foundations of the empire, and the great conquest threatens to collapse into a permanent war of all against all. 
In Carse, with armies on all borders, Cithrin bel Sarcour, Marcus Wester, and Clara Kalliam are faced with the impossible task of bringing a lasting peace to the world. Their tools: traitors high in the imperial army, the last survivor of the dragon empire, and a financial scheme that is either a revolution or the greatest fraud in the history of the world.
***


The Fifth Season
The Broken Earth book 1
N.K. Jemisin
August 4th
This is the way the world ends. Again. 
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze—the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years—collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries. 
Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She'll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
***


Black Heart
The Barrow book 2
Mark Smylie
August 5th
The last survivors of the raid on the Barrow of Azharad have scattered to the four winds, each walking a separate path. For some, it is the path of noble service, as the households of great kings and warlords beckon, offering a chance to enter the fray of politics with the fate of nations on the line. For others, it is the path of secrets and magic, as the veil of the world parts to reveal the hidden truths that dwell in shadow and spirit. 
And for Stjepan Black-Heart, royal cartographer and suspected murderer, it is the path of battle and sacrifice, as he is summoned to attend the household of the Grand Duke Owen Lis Red, the Earl Marshal to the High King of the Middle Kingdoms, on his latest campaign to find and kill Porloss, the Rebel Earl: an elusive quarry lurking behind an army of ruthless renegade knights in the wild hills of the Manon Mole, a land where every step could be your last, and where lie secrets best left undisturbed.
***


The Fool's Quest
The Fitz and the Fool trilogy book 2
Robin Hobb
August 11th

***

Fall of Light
Kharkanas trilogy book 2
Steven Erikson
August 13th
It is a bitter winter and civil war now ravages Kurald Galain, as Urusander's Legion prepares to march upon the city of Kharkanas.The rebels' only opposition lies scattered, bereft of a leader since Anomander's departure in search of his estranged brother, Andarist. The last brother remaining, Silchas Ruin, rules in Anomander's stead. He seeks to gather the Houseblades of the Highborn Noble families and resurrect the Hust Legion in the southlands, but is fast running out of time. 
The officers and leaders of Urusander's Legion, led by Hunn Raal, want the Consort, Draconus, cast aside and Vatha Urusander wedded to Mother Dark, taking his place on a throne at the side of the Living Goddess. But this union will be far more than political, as a sorcerous power has claimed those opposing Mother Dark - given form by the exiled High Priestess Syntara, the Cult of Light rises in answer to Mother Dark and her Children. 
Far to the west, an unlikely army has gathered, seeking an enemy without form, in a place none can find, and commanded by a Jaghut driven mad with grief. Hood's call has been heard, and the long-abandoned city of Omtose Phellack is now home to a rabble of new arrivals. From the south have come Dog-Runners and Jheck warriors. From the Western Sea strange ships have grounded upon the harsh shore, with blue-skinned strangers arriving to offer Hood their swords. And from the North, down from mountain fastnesses and isolated valleys, Toblakai arrive, day and night, to pledge themselves to Hood's impossible war. Soon, all will set forth - or not at all - under the banners of the living. Soon, weapons will be drawn, with Death itself the enemy. 
Beneath the chaos of such events, and spanning the realm and those countless other realms hidden behind its veil, magic now bleeds into the world. Unconstrained, mysterious and savage, the power that is the lifeblood of the Azathanai, K'rul, runs loose and wild. Following its scent, seeking the places of wounding where the sorcery rushes forth, entities both new and ancient are gathering. And they are eager to feed. 
Comprehending the terrible risk of his gift of blood, a weakened, dying K'rul sets out, in the company of a lone guardian, to bring order to this newborn sorcery - alas, his choice of potential allies is suspect. In the name of order, K'rul seeks its greatest avowed enemy.
***

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai
 The Song of the Shattered Sands book 1
Bradley P. Beaulieu
In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother. 
As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools—they’ve ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.
***
September
***

The Empire Ascendant
Worldbreaker Saga book 2
Kameron Hurley

***
October
***

The Dread Wyrm
The Traitor Son Cycle book 3
Miles Cameron
October 15th

***
November
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The Dragon House
The Wild Hunt book 4
Elspeth Cooper
November 19th
In Gimrael no church, no believer is safe. The Lector of Dremen has declared a crisis of the faith and the Suvaeon Knights are riding to war for the first time in over twenty years. In the north, the Warlord is faced with a hopeless choice: marshal the Empire’s defences, or try to save his own people from the Hunt rampaging across the plains of his homeland. 
Too long at peace, the Empire is ill-equipped to face war on two fronts and its internal alliances begin to crumble. The ancient peoples of Astolar and Bregorin are finally roused to confront the damage that has been done to the Veil, and the Guardians gather their strength to reclaim the starseed so it can be used to banish the Hunt back to the Hidden Kingdom. 
In the Warlord’s absence, his predecessor Garimair – dubbed the Eagle of Leah during the desert wars – is recalled from retirement to help save what can be saved of the Empire. It will require bold tactics, and force Garimair to confront the legacy of a past mistake. 
Gair’s struggle with the after-effects of Savin’s reiving has stretched him to breaking point. Now he must learn to master the darkest and most deadly aspects of his gift and accept the consequences as he faces his enemy for the final time.
***

Shadow of Self
Mistborn book 5
Brandon Sanderson
November 19th
The sequel to The Alloy of Law.
***
 December
***

2015 without specific dates:

Half a War (The Shattered Sea book 3) by Joe Abercrombie
The Unholy Consult (The Aspect Emperor book 3) by R. Scott Bakker
The Thorn of Emberlain (Gentleman Bastards Sequence book 4) by Scott Lynch

Confirmed for beyond:

The Thousand and One ((The Crescent Moon Kingdoms book 2) by Saladin Ahmed
Winds of Winter (a Song of Ice and Fire book 6) by George R.R. Martin
The Doors of Stone (Kingkiller Chronicles book 3) by Patrick Rothfuss
Rhune (The First Empire book 1) by  Michael J. Sullivan
The Last King of Osten Ard (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn book 4) by Tad Williams

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