Saturday, December 30, 2017

Best Reads of 2017

2017 has been a tough year, both personally and for the world at large. I'm amazed that I've made it this far; somehow it still feels unreal to stand at the cusp of another year.

In 2017 I read 37 books (38 if I can finish my current read before midnight on the 31st) which is an average amount for me. While I didn't get anywhere near to the amount of books I wanted to read I can't complain about their quality.

Here, in no particular order, are my best reads of 2017:

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky


If I had to choose my top read of the year then this would have to be it. Children of Time is an astounding space opera that will have you re-evaluate your allegiance to humanity. It’s fascinating and terrifying in equal measure with a truly fantastic ending. Space spiders have never been more captivating. Read full review.

Infinity Engine by Neal Asher


Infinity Engine is a stunning conclusion to the Transformation series. It has all the hallmarks of a Neal Asher novel - devastating technology, massive space battles and stellar destruction on the grandest of scales, but it's also a far more intimate story of growth, redemption and forging your own identity. There are a lot of intricate layers at play in the superbly woven narrative; the myriad transformations will leave you both satisfied and utterly intrigued with the implications for the Polity universe at large. A mind-blowingly brilliant read! Read full review.

The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley


The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley is space opera unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Set on, living organic world-ships, the novel is gross, unsettling, unrelenting and utterly glorious. It carries a strong social message and deals a deathblow to the notion that females are the weaker sex. These women are brutal, devious and totally badass. Be warned though, this is definitely not a tale for the squeamish. Read full review.

The Shadow of What was Lost by James Islington


The Shadow of What Was Lost is a thoroughly engaging coming-of-age fantasy tale with far more complexity than it initially appears. It shows immense promise to develop into a series worth following. Fans of The Wheel of Time series will find a lot to love here. Read full review.

Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King


No list can be complete without the King. The stories collected in Bazaar of Bad Dreams are terrific, haunting delights that will stay with you long after you turn that last page. This is a perfect read for those dark nights where you come to realise that the monster might be the one hiding under the covers... Read full review.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin


I'm late to the bandwagon, but boy what a bandwagon it is. While the narration style can be difficult to get to grips with at first The Fifth Season blew me away and shook me to the core. Well worth reading!

Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh


An unusual tale about love and relationship in a futuristic landscape where death doesn't necessarily mean the end. A great read, especially if you are looking for something different!

Galactic Empires edited by Neil Clarke


Galactic Empires edited by Neil Clarke is a stunning collection of short fiction dealing with galactic empires in all their varied forms. It showcases some of the best voices writing in the genre today with some remarkable stories that will stay with you for ages. A great way to test the waters of what current SF has to offer. Read full review.

***

Here's to a wonderful 2018 filled with even more bookish delights and time enough to read them all!



Thursday, December 28, 2017

New Arrivals: A Torrent of Books

It seems South African customs have somehow managed to catch up with their backlog of international parcels. The floodgates have been opened and I've been overwhelmed by bookish delights from the folks at Tor books.

The gigantic edition of Brandon Sanderson's Oathbringer is a thing of beauty. The endpapers are simply gorgeous! I haven't started reading the Stormlight Archive series yet, but this is definitely the best incentive to get started.


The titles I received for review are Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson, The Man In The Tree by Sage Walker, War Craft by Tom Doyle, The Realms of God by Michael Livingston and the Last Chance by Gregg Hurwitz.

As is to be expected I couldn't help myself and also ordered a few more books to add to my collection.


Hopefully 2018 will bring enough time to read them all!

Monday, December 18, 2017

On My Radar: The Will to Battle

The Will to Battle, the penultimate installment of Ada Palmer's Terra Ignota series releases this week. I must confess that I've been stockpiling the books for a binge reading session when I have enough time to adequately devote to the series. Last year I started in on the first book, Too Like the Lightning and about a third into the book I realised that this was something special - a complex, layered world steeped in philosophy and history, with a narrative style that requires your undivided attention to untangle. I'm looking forward to tackling the series soon when I'm able to give it the attention it deserves.


THE WILL TO BATTLE by Ada Palmer
ISBN: 9780765378040
Release date: 19 December 2017
Order a copy

The long years of near-utopia have come to an abrupt end. Peace and order are now figments of the past. Corruption, deception, and insurgency hum within the once steadfast leadership of the Hives, nations without fixed location. The heartbreaking truth is that for decades, even centuries, the leaders of the great Hives bought the world’s stability with a trickle of secret murders, mathematically planned. So that no faction could ever dominate. So that the balance held.

The Hives’ façade of solidity is the only hope they have for maintaining a semblance of order, for preventing the public from succumbing to the savagery and bloodlust of wars past. But as the great secret becomes more and more widely known, that façade is slipping away. Just days earlier, the world was a pinnacle of human civilization. Now everyone—Hives and hiveless, Utopians and sensayers, emperors and the downtrodden, warriors and saints—scrambles to prepare for the seemingly inevitable war.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Blog Tour: Firestorm


Firestorm the final book in Lucy Housom's Worldmaker trilogy will be published this December. If you are looking for a series set in an epic fantasy world with a fierce female protagonist, dragons and time-traveling assassins then this trilogy might be worth exploring.  Below you'll find an excerpt of Firestorm to give you a little taste of what to expect. (Don't worry, it doesn't contain any spoilers!)



‘What are you smiling about?’

She’d been staring into the night. The valley below them was utterly dark; the only light coming from their fire and the stars that shone crisp and clear above. She felt them in her blood. Sometimes she longed to join them, wrapping herself in isolation, removing herself from the world.

‘Kyndra?’

She looked back at the dragon. Char’s yellow eyes met hers unflinchingly and she felt some warmth return. Maybe it was hearing that name – the name her mother had given her, the one she had worn through childhood. Or maybe it was realizing that she couldn’t – and shouldn’t – solve Acre’s problems alone.

‘I think the goat is done,’ she said.


The black dreams began that night.


She stands upon a precipice, a glittering spire. Solinaris, the fortress of the sun, just as it looked before the first ever Breaking– in the days before Kierik’s mind shattered the world. She is not alone. Medavle is there, feet planted on the treacherous glass, his ageless face impossibly aged. And at his back, a figure, one claw-like hand grasping at the last Yadin. When the eldest sees her, a rasping, choking sound escapes his lips. It takes her a moment to realize it is laughter.


Kyndra woke, that laughter in her ears. For once, the stars and the night were equally silent and the hairs on the back of her neck stood up in an echo of fear. She hadn’t seen Medavle since he’d fled their battle, but his parting words were seared into her memory.

‘The last five hundred years were a mistake. They should never have been.’

Now, with Khronostian help, Medavle had the power to erase those years. Kyndra suspected his reason for doing so was very different to the eldest’s.

‘You don’t care about the world.’ Her own response echoed back to her. ‘You’re doing this for the woman you loved. For Isla.’

‘What would a Starborn know of love?’

Kyndra turned her face away from their dying fire. Reasons didn’t matter. All that mattered was stopping Medavle before he and the eldest ruined them all.

As they flew further north, the air became colder. The pattern of foliage below them shifted gradually from orange to brown to bare, skeletal branches. Low cloud hid them most of the time, but occasionally they’d emerge into clear blue, where the clouds were wispy and scudding high over narrow valleys. Mountain goat became a staple, though Char once managed to flush out a deer. Despite his huge wingspan, he was getting better at navigating the rocky gorges.

Every evening, Kyndra would ignite solid stone with a touch and they would sit around the flames, discussing what they might encounter when they reached Magtharda. That the eldest would send du-alakat to stop them was a given, but they could only guess at their numbers. Then there was the time prison itself; Kyndra envisioned it as a vast bubble, its walls invisible to the naked eye.

She caught her first glimpse with the first snow. They’d been flying steadily north-west until the land had pushed itself into peaks around them. Now, wherever Kyndra looked, she saw mountains. Steel-clad, white-capped, they were a line of silent priests, oddly menacing in their stillness. The sky was flat, reducing their world to a palette of greys – they’d left the colourful autumn valleys behind. Char was the only one who looked at home here; his dusky scales could have been sculpted out of the mountains’ hide. Kyndra’s hair was an alien streak of fire on the wind.

Magtharda appeared between one blink and the next. At first, Kyndra thought its towers were merely spires of rock thrusting free of the mountains, but, looking closer, she saw windows cut into them; dark, eye-shaped portals that marched around the outside of each soaring barbican. There were half a dozen, guarding the buildings beyond.

Char made a strange sound in his throat; perhaps he’d attempted to whistle. They flew beneath a great arch, a portal carved from solid rock. No gate or portcullis hung from its frame; it was unnecessary, Kyndra thought, when only those with wings could reach it. The ground was lost to view.

Magtharda lay on the other side. A tiered city, vast courtyards open to the sky, it rose in levels, keeping pace with the mountains that cradled it. Everything was built of the same greyish rock, left rough to echo the landscape. Waterfalls spilled over stone, falling hundreds of feet into deep channels that bisected the streets. The water was the only thing that moved.

With two quick beats of his wings, Char landed on one of the wider thoroughfares and lowered his head to drink.

‘Stop,’ Ma said sharply. Both she and Kyndra slid off the dragon’s back, scanning the empty streets. ‘Can you tell if it’s safe?’ the mercenary asked Kyndra. She was frowning at the water, rushing opaque under the dull sky.

Kyndra bent down and scooped up a handful, calling on Lagus. Clean, the star told her. ‘If there was poison in the water, there’s no trace of it now,’ she said.

Char gave a huff of relief and plunged most of his head in. Ma’s profile was rigid. She watched the streets, as if expecting an ambush, but nothing leapt out to break the city’s stillness. Kyndra, too, stood tensed; something was out of place here, out of step.

‘You feel it,’ Ma said. Her eyes travelled over the high buildings, the large, graceful arches, searching. ‘They are here, the Lleu-yelin, all around us.’

‘What?’ Char shook out his mane, showering them. He scanned the courtyard too. ‘Then where are they?’

‘Frozen,’ Ma said. ‘They are being held.’ She briefly closed her eyes. ‘I can feel the strands of it linking them together.’

‘The strands of what?’ Kyndra asked.

‘A focus.’

Char’s brow bunched. ‘What does it look like?’

‘It might not be an it, but a who,’ Ma said, a touch evasively. Char took a few clawed steps towards the centre of the city.

‘You mean a Khronostian?’

Ma shook her head. ‘I don’t know. We need to go further in.’

***


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