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Joe Abercrombie

Gollancz (2012)

ISBN 978 0 575 09583 0

Reviewed by Jason Nahrung

It’s no surprise that this latest novel from UK author Joe Abercrombie is dedicated in part to Clint Eastwood. Nominally a fantasy novel set in Abercrombie’s world established in the First Law Trilogy, it is quite the western homage, where quick swords, daggers and crossbows replace six shooters.

Abercrombie conjures a world in which magic is fading – he portrays berserker rage a la Dungeons and Dragons very well, but there are no Merlins or Gandalfs here – and an industrial revolution is around the corner – there is gunpowder, printing presses, early signs of steam power. There is a real sense that the practitioners of unmitigated violence who stride this stage, mostly veterans with more regrets than ambitions, have had their day.

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Nalini Singh

Guild Hunter, book 4

Gollancz (2011)

ISBN: 9780575113473

Reviewed by Stephanie Gunn

Archangels’ Blade is the fourth book in Nalini Singh’s paranormal romance Guild Hunter series.

In the world of the Guild Hunter books, angels exist, with the most powerful of them, the archangels, ruling sections of the world. Vampires also exist, and are Made by the angels, and subsequently bound to those angels for a period of indenture. Hunters are humans who have the ability to sense vampires, and are employed to seek out rogue vampires who break their contracts with their angels.

The first three books in this series followed the Guild Hunter Elena and her relationship with the archangel Raphael. Archangel’s Blade departs from this storyline, instead following the vampire Dmitri, Raphael’s second-in-command, and his relationship with the hunter Honor. Some readers and fans of the previous books will no doubt be disappointed with this change of focus, especially since both Elena and Raphael only serve very small parts in this book.

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Charlaine Harris

Gollancz (2012)

ISBN: 978-0-575-09658-5

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Deadlocked is Charlaine Harris in a return to the form which first hooked me on the Sookie Stackhouse novels. None of the novels in this series have been bad, but a couple of the recent ones seemed to focus on character development or advancing the overall story arc at the expense of a plot complete within the novel. Deadlocked offers an interesting self contained plot, important character developments, and a step forward in the overall story arc.

Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse, Book 12

Gollancz (2012)

ISBN: 978-0-575-09658-5

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

For me, the Sookie books are a bit of fairy floss; they are easy to digest, comfort reads that don’t ask too much of me, intellectually, and sometimes give a bit of sustenance (did my metaphor get lost? Ah well.) I have to say, I get a bit annoyed with how over the top they are at times – I liked Sookie far more in the early books, when she wasn’t so embroiled, enamoured and empowered (by that, I mean empowered with supernatural power, not empowered as a woman, because that’s always been one of the GOOD things about her!). I keep reading the Sookie books, but I don’t adore them.

Deadlocked sees Sookie adjusting to the fact that all her friends are settling down, and still trying to come to grips with her relationship with Eric, and the other supernaturals around her. When an unexpected visit from the vampire King of Louisiana, Nevada and Arkansas ends in the death of an unknown girl, Sookie finds herself once again in the middle of a murder investigation, while at the same time dealing with her boss’s psycho girlfriend who wants to kill her, a bunch of displaced fairies who are struggling to find a place in the human world, and a rival for Eric’s affections. Just another day in Bon Temps really.

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Adam Roberts

Gollancz (2011)

ISBN: 9780575083646

Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce

The last book by Adam Roberts that I read, Yellow Blue Tibia, I did not enjoy. At all. So I was a little dubious about reading this one until I saw the cover, and I am willing to admit here and now that in this case at least, the cover totally sucked me in. An art deco sensibility is definitely the way to at least make me interested in starting your book.

And then I read the blurb, and decided that this could indeed be a book for me.

One of the great answers to “how would you change the world” in stereotypical beauty pageants is, aside from world peace, an end to world hunger. It’s something that writers of near-future science fiction occasionally deal with: do we get awesome new genetically modified wheat? Do we farm algae in the seas? Do we ship everyone off-planet? Roberts suggests something entirely different: create a bug that, once ingested, turns human hair into a light-gathering factory. That is, allows it to undertake photosynthesis.

Et voila! Hunger solved! As long as you have access to sunlight. And as long as you have hair long enough to catch enough sun.

Marvellous! But, now that all of those people over there are no longer starving, how do the fancy people over here prove that they are still at the top of the social scale? Easy: they eat real food. Also, they shave their heads.

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Rae Carson

Fire and Thorns, book 1

Gollancz (2011)

ISBN: 9780575099142

Reviewed by Stephanie Gunn

Fire and Thorns (released as The Girl of Fire and Thorns in the United States) is the first book in the YA Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson, and is Carson’s debut novel.

One individual in every century is chosen at their baptism by God, a beam of light descending from above to indicate that a Godstone has been lodged in their navel. The Godstone is a living jewel which remains part of their body, only detaching at the bearer’s death. It indicates that the bearer has been chosen by God for greatness, and is required to perform an act of service during their lifetime. None know what this act is, and most of the bearers die young, many apparently without accomplishing their destiny.

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Sarah Silverwood

Nowhere Chronicles, Book 2

ISBN:  978-0-575-09580-9

Gollancz

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

The Traitor’s Gate is book two of the Nowhere Chronicles, following on from The Double-Edged Sword. Like the first, this is an outstanding young adult novel which deserves a wide audience, including of older readers.

In volume one, Finmere Tingewick Smith – Fin to his friends – discovered that there are doors between worlds, including the Somewhere (our world) and the Nowhere. The orphaned Fin is not sure of his origins – no one is – but it becomes clear that he is critical to the survival of both worlds. Much intrigue and action followed.

In volume two, the story picks up some months later. Although Fin and his friends thought they had, perhaps, saved the worlds and fulfilled the Prophecy, there are ominous signs of trouble. The Story Holder has not yet been able to reclaim all of the Five Eternal Stories that hold the worlds together. In the Nowhere, something is wandering the streets, attacking people and leaving them mad and dangerous. And in the Somewhere, a crack has appeared in the Prophecy table.

Kristin Cashore

Graceling, book 3

Gollancz (May 2012)

ISBN: 9780575097186

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

Taking up a number of years after the events of Graceling, Bitterblue follows the passage of the title character, Queen Bitterblue, as she learns how to heal her broken country. Readers of the series will remember Bitterblue from the story told in Graceling, and the events that occurred some decades earlier in the “sequel/prequel” Fire are also important to the story told here. That said, Bitterblue is one of that most rare of fantasy novels that can stand in isolation, despite being a significant part of an overarching story.

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Christopher Priest

Gollancz

ISBN: 9780575070042

Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce

1. Read the introduction.

No, really. Even if you’re an “I never read the introduction” kinda person, read this introduction. It’s part of the story, and without it you are likely to be terrible confused, because…

2. Don’t think this is a novel.

At least, not in the conventional, linear (or even non-linear) plot sense. Things happen, but not in any sort of chronological order. This is, as the introduction suggests, more of a gazette: an introduction to a few dozen of the islands which make up the Dream Archipelago. It’s a mixture of straight Lonely Planet-style description and suggestions for tourists, along with police investigations, letters, wills, and a couple of short story narratives that appear to have snuck in under the radar.

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Greg Egan

Orthogonal trilogy, book 1

Gollancz

ISBN: 9780575095113

Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce

One thing must be noted about Greg Egan’s fiction in general, and this book in particular. He, and it, are uncompromising. In reading it the audience must be one of two things: able and willing to understand complex physics, or willing to accept that they do not understand those physics and carry on with the story regardless. If you are not in either of those two camps, The Clockwork Rocket is most definitely not for you and Egan makes no apology for that. This is a book that comes with diagrams. (For reference, I fall into the second camp. It’s a long time since I did any physics seriously.)

This is a story set in a universe different from ours in one very crucial aspect: the speed of light is not a constant. In many respects, this book (the first of a trilogy) represents the working out of the consequences inherent in that seemingly simple fact – to the point where a large chunk of the book is actually just that: a physics student exploring the ramifications of observed phenomena on the possibilities of time and space. However, were this novel merely an amusing exercise for the physics lover, I would not have persevered. Along with the physics, Egan has incorporated some rather profound discussion of gender and reproduction, all within a quite compelling story about saving the world.

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