Category Archives: Angry Robot Books

Chuck Wendig Pulls Out All the Stops

TheCormorant-144dpiThe Cormorant
Chuck Wendig
Angry Robot Books
UK Print
Date: 2nd January 2014
ISBN: 9780857663375 Format: Medium (B-Format) Paperback
R.R.P.: £8.99
North American Print
Date: 31st December 2013
ISBN: 9780857663382 Format: Mass-Market Paperback
R.R.P.: US$7.99 / CAN$9.99
Date: 31st December 2013
ISBN: 9780857663399 Format: Epub & Mobi
R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a fan of Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black series. (Reviewed here and here.) Frankly, I find it one of the most compulsively readable series in any genre.

Things take a darker turn in this one. That’s saying something since the whole premise of the series, the hook upon which all things are hung, is Miriam’s ability to see how anyone she touches is going to die. Until now, Miriam has mainly used her abilities to rob people at the time of their deaths.

This time she’s graduated to killer. It isn’t working out as well as she’d hoped. Granted, she’s only killed to save someone’s life, but it’s taken a toll on her psyche.

Miriam is on her own again, and she ends up in Florida, lured their by a lucrative opportunity. When she touches the man she’s about to make a deal with, she sees his murder a year later. In the vision, she sees a message the killer has left her. Continue reading

Team Robot Blogger Awards

photo12_110308-225x300Angry Robot Books has created an award for bloggers.  I’m not sure if it’s limited to members of the Robot Army, but it’s called the Team Robot Blogger Award.  It encompasses the imprints Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry, and Exhibit A.  There is also an Author’s Choice Award given to a blogger who didn’t make the shortlist for the Team Robot Blogger Award.

The winners are Kristen at My Bookish Ways (Team Robot Blogger Award) and Josh at Just a Guy That Likes to Read (Author’s Choice Award).

There were 12 blogs on the short list.  In addition to My Bookish Ways, the other nominees were A Fantastical Librarian, Bibliosanctum, Curiosity Killed the Bookworm, Fantasy Faction, Jet Black Ink, My Shelf Confessions, Popcorn Reads, Shots Blog, The Founding Fields,  Oh, yeah, and,…um, yours truly, Adventures Fantastic.

Congratulations to the winners and all the nominees.  The winners get the cool trophy shown above, and the winners and everyone on the short list will receive three free books.  I’d like to thank Angry Robot Books for the nomination as well as the prize.  It was a surprise and an honor to be nominated.

All three imprints are having a 50% off Black Friday sale, BTW.  Click the links above for some great reading at a great price.

David Tallerman’s Easie Damasco is Back

Prince ThiefPrinceThief-144dpi-198x300
David Tallerman
Angry Robot
UK Print
Date: 3rd October 2013
ISBN: 9780857662675
Format: Medium (B-Format) Paperback R.R.P.: £8.99

US/CAN Print
Date: 24th September 2013
ISBN: 9780857662682
Format: Small (Mass-Market) Paperback R.R.P.: US$7.99 CAN$9.99

Date: 24th September 2013
ISBN: 9780857662699
Format: Epub & Mobi R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know I like David Tallerlman’s Easie Domasco novels (reviewed here and here.) They’re fun, fast-paced stories with a delightfully flawed protagonist. There’s a great supporting cast that you care about. In short, the series is fantasy with heart.

I don’t know if Tallerman has plans to extend the series beyond this book. (I would hope so, as there are directions he could take the series that would be interesting. Such as who built those tunnels?) If not, then Prince Thief is a good conclusion, with all the main loose ends tied up. I’m going to be vague about the plot to avoid spoilers from the earlier books, especially Crown Thief.

In this one, Easie kidnaps a prince, although the prince is a more than willing participant. Easie also engages in more introspection than he has so far. He’s grown as a character through the previous books, but in this one he really takes a long look at himself. He won’t be the same person when all is said and done, which is one reason I hope we see more of him.

There’s a good deal of humor. Tallerman gives Easie a delightfully dry and cynical (as well as self-justifying) voice. But the book is also probably the darkest of the series. In addition to new characters, all our old friends from previous volumes are present, but not all of them will make it to the end.

A pretty significant sword duel occurs near the end of the book, and Tallerman handles it well. He uses just enough description to allow the reader to picture what’s happening without bogging things down in too much detail.

This series is solid adventure fantasy, but with a twist. The stock thief in Tallerman’s hands is more than just a generic character. He’s unique, a fresh and original creation with enough familiarity to him that readers won’t be put off.  If you’ve read the previous books, you’ll want to pick this one up.  It’s the best of the three.

I’d like to thank Angry Robot Books for providing the e-ARC of Prince Thief.

Seven Forges Begins a Promising New Series

SevenForges-144dpiSeven Forges
James A. Moore
Angry Robot Books
UK Print Date: 4th October 2013
ISBN: 9780857663825
Format: Medium (B-Format) Paperback R.R.P.: £8.99

US/CAN Print  Date: 24th September 2013
ISBN: 9780857663832
Format: Large (Trade) Paperback  R.R.P.: US$14.99 CAN$16.99

Ebook Date: 24th September 2013
ISBN: 9780857663849
Format: Epub & Mobi  R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99

While this novel is his first epic fantasy, James A. Moore has been working in the horror field for some years now. After reading this book, I’m glad he’s turned his hand to epic fantasy. Seven Forges was one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’d like to thank Angry Robot Books for providing me with an e-ARC.

There are a number of viewpoint characters, but the main character is a mercenary named Merros Dulver. He’s leading an expedition through the Blasted Lands to a chain of mountains known as the Seven Forges. It turns out there is an entire valley on the other side of the Forges. An inhabited valley, and the inhabitants have been waiting for Dulver. Not the expedition he’s leading, but Dulver himself. Before he goes to meet with him, one of the women traveling with the expedition prophesies about what will happen to him after he leaves.

The inhabitants of this region are some serious badasses. They believe each mountain is the home of one of their gods, and their gods are gods of war. While some of these gods believe in mercy, not all of them do. And their worshipers’ devotion to them is absolute. They follow the directions of their gods without hesitation.

Dulver brings a contingent of them back with him to the Empire of Fellein. He and the person who hired him, a sorcerer who has served as advisor to the Emperor for hundreds of years, hope to establish peaceful relations with the strangers. Of course, the words “war is coming” on the cover above the title should tell you that’s probably not going to happen.

I’m not spoiling anything by telling you that. It’s obvious where the story is heading to anyone who is paying attention. What Moore does is use that knowledge to build tension. Something is going to go wrong, but what? And when? Who will end up dead? (You know people will.)

Moore develops his cast well, fleshing out all the major players and many of the minor ones. He makes you care about them. There were a couple of places where I felt some of the foreshadowing was a bit on the heavy side, but that’s a minor quibble. The other quibble was that the e-ARC didn’t have a map. I was almost done with the book before I realized I had the geography turned around in my head. Hopefully, the print edition will have a map. If not, then maybe in the second book, which is scheduled for release sometime next year.

Moore handles the story and the different characters well. He hints at things that make you wonder and want to know more.  His fight scenes are visceral and compelling. The political intrigues are  multi-layered. We get enough glimpses of the magic system, or systems probably is more accurate, to want to know more about how magic works.  Pay attention to what Moore tells you. Pay attention to what he doesn’t.

I finished Severn Forges in four nights, staying up later than I should to do so. It’s not often I’ll stop and reread a scene, but I did more than once. I’m looking forward to see where Moore takes the story next. The prophecy Dulver received early in the book hasn’t been completely fulfilled yet.

Angry Robot hasn’t posted an excerpt yet, or I would include it here.  It hits shelves on this side of the Atlantic on Tuesday, in the UK ten days later.  Preorder your copy now so you won’t have to wait longer than necessary.

Some Thoughts on the Random Penguin Merger

Although he may not have a household name, Tom Dupree is a publishing insider with a lot of experience.  He doesn’t blog often, but when he does, what he has to say is usually worth paying attention to.  He posted today about the merger of Penguin and Random House into Penguin Random House, (AKA Random Penguin on this blog).

I think he’s spot on in what he has to say.  Go read his post if you haven’t yet.  I’ll still be here when you get back, with some thoughts of my own.

OK, now that you’re back, the last few sentences of Tom’s post should be fresh on your mind.  Here they are again for easy reference:

If you, the customer, get more stuff to read that you like, then this will have been a good thing. But if the Big Five turn into what they’re increasingly coming to resemble, the movie “majors” – nothing but blockbusters, and indie artists can go fend for themselves – then mutually assured destruction is just around the corner. And the real creativity – the kind that builds those glorious books that throw lightning bolts – will again reside where it once did: in small, independent publishing houses.

I’m afraid what we’re going to see is the latter possibility rather than the former.  Let’s look at the movies for a moment, shall we?  What do we usually get, especially this time of year?  Blockbusters, or rather blockbuster wanna-be’s.  And how many of those are either sequels of previous years’ blockbusters (Despicable Me 2) or reboots and new interpretations of old established franchises, often from TV or radio shows from prior generations (The Lone Ranger)?  There aren’t very many original movies, although there are a few (Now You See Me), and many of those feature an actor or actress with established star power (Oblivion). 

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas recently criticized the film industry for depending on blockbusters and offering moviegoers less choice for higher prices.  (Does anyone else see the irony in this?)  I tend to agree with them. 

We’ve been seeing the same thing in publishing for quite a while.  It’s getting harder to find original work amidst all the derivative crap, whether it’s yet another necro-erotic urban fantasy or the latest imitation of The Lord of the Rings A Game of Thrones.  In science fiction, it’s even worse.  Publishers want blockbusters or endless series of doorstoppers.  And the editing and quality of the physical product isn’t improving.  But prices are going up.

I think small presses and independent publishers (including self-pubbers with a quality product) are where all the action is.  There’s very little from the Big 5 that holds my interest any more.  While “mutually assured destruction” may be a bit over the top, it’s not far from the truth.  When the publishers began merging and were swallowed up by a few multinational conglomerates, the readers and authors lost out.  Eventually readers will get tired of the same thing all the time and look elsewhere.

I don’t hold out much hope for Random Penguin to improve the selection on the shelves of my local bookstores (yes, there are 3 where I live if you stretch the definition of bookstore considerably).  There are reasons why I read primarily books from indie and mid-size publishers such as Pyr and Angry Robot.  I do my best to point out some of the jewels I find here, at Futures Past and Present, and in my posts at Amazing Stories (TM).  There’s not much I review from the big boys anymore.  I have a feeling that that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

The Return of Egil and Nix

A Discourse in Steel
Paul S. Kemp
Angry Robot Books
UK Print
Date: 4th July 2013
ISBN: 9780857662521
Format: Medium (B-Format) Paperback
R.R.P.: £8.99
US/CAN Print
Date: 25th June 2013
ISBN: 9780857662538
Format: Small (Mass Market) Paperback
R.R.P.: US$7.99 CAN$9.99
Date: 25th June 2013
ISBN: 9780857662545
Format: Epub & Mobi
R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99

In my review of the first book in this series, The Hammer and the Blade, I said that it reminded me why sword and sorcery was fun in the first place.  The same is true for A Discourse is Steel.  This is adventure fantasy at its finest.

Egil and Nix befriended two young ladies at the conclusion of the previous book.  Early in this one, one of them (Rose) is reading the mind of a master criminal (at his request) when he’s assassinated.  Some of the information he knows ends up in Rose’s head.

So a very dangerous criminal organization tries to kill her, and in the process nearly kills her sister Mere, Egil, Nix, and a number of their friends and associates.  In the words of the great general Bugs Bunny, “Of course, you know this means war.” Continue reading

What is The Blue Blazes?

The Blue Blazes
Chuck Wendig
Angry Robot Books
UK Print
Date: 6th June 2013
ISBN: 9780857663344
Format: Medium (B-Format) Paperback
R.R.P.: £8.99
US/CAN Print
Date: 28th May 2013
ISBN: 97808576633518
Format: Small (Mass-Market) Paperback
R.R.P.: US$7.99 CAN$8.99
Date: 28th May 2013
ISBN: 9780857663368
Format: Epub & Mobi
R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99

Chuck Wendig’s latest novel is the first in new series, about a gangster named Mookie Pearl.  It’s an over the top blend of fantasy, horror, and noir wrapped inside a family drama.  This is what urban fantasy for guys looks like, although I’m sure a number of ladies will enjoy it as well.

Mookie is a gangster who has a special skill set.  He deals with problems the Organization has with the Great Below, the underworld where several supernatural races live and scheme against humanity.  He’s divorced, hasn’t spoken to his ex in years, and is trying to build a relationship with his estranged teen daughter who’s building a criminal empire of her own.  Somehow she’s learned that the head of the Organization, The Boss, is dying of cancer.  This is not yet public knowledge.

When the Boss’s appointed heir and nephew asks Mookie to try and find a way to cure The Boss in the Great Below, Mookie knows it’s a fool’s errand, but really, what choice does have?  The Blue Blazes of the title refers to a blue powder mined in the Great Below.  When rubbed on the temples, it allows a person to perceive the supernatural world around them.  There are other substances, all of them with colors in the name, that are rumored to exist but by and large believed to be mythical by most people.  It’s one of these the nephew wants Mookie to find in order to save his uncle.

The task would be bad enough, but there are other who are also aware of The Boss’s impending demise.   And they’re moving to take advantage of it.  Including Mookie’s daughter.

The action in this one moves fast and furious.  Wendig has crafted a compelling mystery, a suspenseful thriller, and a gritty urban fantasy with a dash of Lovecraft.  And along the way he manages to make Mookie Pearl a sympathetic character in spite of the fact that Mookie isn’t the sort of man who would want to invite to dinner.

The secondary cast are well developed.  While the story is told primarily from Mookie’s viewpoint, Wendig shows us the other characters’ thoughts and motivations. Mookie’s friends and enemies are an assorted lot, including mobsters, ordinary, humans, and even a dead man (that Mookie had killed).

The major plots lines were all resolved, but things won’t be going back to the status quo.  It’s going to be interesting to see where Wendig takes this one.  And in case you’re wondering, no, he hasn’t abandoned the Miriam Black series (reviewed here and here).  There’s an announcement of the next one, The Cormorant, in the author bio.

I’d like to thank Angry Robot for the review copy.  Below is an excerpt.  Check it out.

New Acquisitions

Today a friend and I took my son hiking in Palo Duro Canyon while our wives stayed home doing whatever wives do when husbands are away.  (I don’t want to know; that it involves spending money is enough.)  This will tie into a Dispatches From the Lone Star Front post later in the week after another road trip. 

When I go home, there was a package waiting for me.  It contained a copy of Ari Marmell’s In Thunder Forged from Pyr Books.  Along with Wrath-Breaking Tree (James Enge) and Kindred and Wings (Philippa Ballantine) that came Thursday and Nebula Awards Showcase (Catherine Asaro, ed.), which arrived last week, that’s four from Pyr in about ten days.  The Marmell and Nebula Awards will be reviewed first since the former will be out in a couple of weeks, and the latter is out already.  That’s not to say some of the other review copies Pyr has sent me won’t end up in the queue in the next couple of weeks.

I’ve also got several titles from Angry Robot in my ereader:  The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig (which I’ve already started and am loving), iD by Madelaine Ashbury, and A Discourse in Steel by Paul S. Kemp.

Finally, I’m looking forward to diving into No Return by Zachary Jernigan.  He was kind enough to send me a copy of his first novel.  This one got some good advance buzz, and I love the cover.  It’s up Blue Blazes

Anyway, those are the novels from publishers and authors I’ve agreed to read and review.  I still plan to increase the amount of short fiction I review.  (Sooper Seekrit Project #2 requires me to do so.)  I’m also going to stick in some novels just because I want to read them.

Think all that will keep me busy?

With Emilie, in the Hollow World

Emilie and the Hollow World
Martha Wells
Strange Chemistry, an imprint of Angry Robot Books
US/CAN Print
ISBN: 9781908844491
Format: Large Paperback
R.R.P.: $9.99
UK Print
ISBN: 9781908844484
Format: Medium Paperback
R.R.P.: £7.99
ISBN: 9781908844507
Format: Epub & Mobi
R.R.P.: £5.49 / $6.99

Once upon a time there was a form of popular fiction in which a band of intrepid explorers ventured into new and uncharted lands.  Often their adventures were of a somewhat fantastic nature, involving lost worlds and forgotten civilizations, the Professor Challenger novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle being a prime example of this type of fiction.  Since much of it was written during Victorian times, the subgenre tends to have a Victorian and/or British Empire feel to it.  For whatever reasons, the arbiters of taste and sophistication considered these adventures to be essentially for boys.

This subgenre has fallen from the heights of popularity it once enjoyed.  The reasons for this are beyond the scope of this review.  What is within the scope of the review is that Martha Wells has come along, dusted off the subgenre, given it a heroine to broaden its appeal beyond just boys, and shown us all how it’s done. Continue reading

Return to the Empire State in The Age Atomic

The Age Atomic
Adam Christopher
Angry Robot Books
UK Print
ISBN: 9780857663139
Format: Medium Paperback
R.R.P.: £8.99
US/CAN Print
ISBN: 9780857663146
Format: Large Paperback
R.R.P.: US$14.99 CAN$16.99
ISBN: 9780857663153
Format: Epub & Mobi
R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99

The Age Atomic is the sequel to Adam Christopher’s debut novel, Empire State (reviewed here).  Since that book was published, he’s also produced a superhero novel, Seven Wonders, which has been in my TBR pile since last summer.  (The Great Move happened just after that and really threw my reading schedule off; I still haven’t caught up.)

The Age Atomic continues the story begun in the first installment of this series.  When the tale opens, private investigator Rad Bradley is in the process of stumbling on a plot involving an army of robots.  If that weren’t bad enough, the Skyguard has disappeared.  So has Captain Carson.  The Fissure has as well, cutting off the Empire State from New York.

And speaking of New York, a dead woman named Evelyn McHale runs a government sponsored agency called Atoms for Peace.  What she’s doing is building a robot army to invade the Empire State.

Evelyn McHale

Christopher pulls out all the stops in this one.  There are not one but two robot armies.  (I think I see one of the reasons this novel appealed to this particular publisher.)  The writing was smoother and the characters more defined than in Empire State.  That was one of the things that appealed to me.  Christopher carefully selects some of the minor characters and lets us in on things from their viewpoints.  It deepens the story and gives it more of an epic feel.  What’s happening isn’t a battle between a few superpowered mystery men.  It will have an impact on everyone, great and small.  By fleshing out the bit players, the walk-ons, and the redshirts, Christopher adds a layer of humanity to his story.

The action moved the story along at a fast clip.  There are plenty of chases, fights, and intrigue for fans of pulp fiction.  There isn’t as much superhero action as there was in the previous novel, but that’s more than made up for by the robot armies.

If you liked Empire State, this is one you will most certainly enjoy.  Pick it up.  Adam Christopher’s books are currently Featured Books at Adventures Fantastic Books.

Here’s a sample: