Booktopia SF & Fantasy Buzz
December 2013 | Edition 11
Welcome to the December Science-Fiction & Fantasy Buzz
This issue we have the awesome Tom Lloyd talking about his new book in our Ten Terrifying Questions. Speaking of new books, I give you a little sneak peak at some titles I am waiting on that are due in 2014 and we offer congratulations to the winner's of year's David Gemmell Awards:

Didier Graffet and Dave Senior for the cover of Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

John Gwynne for Malice

Brent Weeks for The Blinding Knife

If you haven't tried these books then have a look at them. They are really good!

Oh, and don't forget - there's a no shipping charge offer on right now! See below for details.

And now on to the Buzz!

Kind regards

Mark Timmony
Supreme Overlord of Science Fiction and Fantasy


Follow me on Twitter: @MarkTimmony

P.S. Our Christmas Gift Guide is full of great gift ideas for all the family - go here to browse the full list

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 You can sponsor Team Booktopia's efforts - here.

Click here for more details or to buy MOON'S ARTIFICE
by Tom Lloyd

This month marks the start of an exciting new fantasy series by one of my favourite authors, Mr Tom Lloyd.

Having spent the last six years immersed in the world of the Twilight Reign series, Lloyd is stretching his wings, and his creative chops, launching us headlong into a new and compelling story set in the midst of the world spanning empire of the Hundred Houses.

Somewhat different to Lloyd's first foray into epic fantasy, this series sees him playing on a stage set at the start of an industrial age, which lends itself to an exotic clash of cultural tropes that is at once both familiar and alien. Driven by a mystery, Lloyd fills the book with gods and demons, characters that leapt off the page and have kept me up way past my bedtime.

I always look towards a new work by a favoured author with a mix of excitement and trepidation. What if they are unable to re-create the magic that enthralled me in their previous work? Luckily that has not happened here. While the Twilight Reign was more traditional fantasy, The Empire of a Hundred Houses moves out of that comfort zone but contains enough of what makes Lloyd's work his, and that is unmistakeable and utterly readable.

I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to the next! 

In a quiet corner of the Imperial City, Investigator Narin discovers the result of his first potentially lethal mistake. Minutes later he makes a second.

After an unremarkable career Narin finally has the chance of promotion to the hallowed ranks of the Lawbringers - guardians of the Emperor's laws and bastions for justice in a world of brutal expediency. Joining that honoured body would be the culmination of a lifelong dream, but it couldn't possibly have come at a worse time. A chance encounter drags Narin into a plot of gods and monsters, spies and assassins, accompanied by a grief-stricken young woman, an old man haunted by the ghosts of his past and an assassin with no past.

On the cusp of an industrial age that threatens the warrior caste's rule, the Empire of a Hundred Houses awaits civil war between noble factions. Centuries of conquest has made the empire a brittle and bloated monster; constrained by tradition and crying out for change. To save his own life and those of untold thousands Narin must understand the key to it all - Moon's Artifice, the poison that could destroy an empire.

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Looking for stocking-stuffers? The Bestsellers list is always a good place to browse and maybe find a new author for an avid reading friend or relative (or yourself).

This month we see the delightful Tyrion Lannister share his wit and wisdom with the help of George R.R. Martin , followed closely by the final book in The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Ender's Game jumps back into the list with the advent of the movie release sitting alongside the movie tie-in edition of Tolkien's The Hobbit.
Yep, there is something here for everyone.

And don't forget, the rest of the bestsellers are listed in the side bar to the right - just click on the link at the top of the email if you can't see them.
By George R.R. Martin

By Stephen Donaldson
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'I only need half my wits to be a match for you' Short and to the point. That's Tyrion. Here are the finest, funniest, rudest and wisest sayings of the miniature Machiavelli; the dwarf with a brain the size of a planet and a heart of (tarnished) gold more...

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Compelled step by step to actions whose consequences they could neither see nor prevent, Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery have fought for what they love in the magical reality known only as 'the Land'. Now they face more... 

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By Orson Scott Card

By J.R.R. Tolkien
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The human race faces annihilation. An alien threat is on the horizon, ready to strike. And if humanity is to be defended, the government must create the greatest military commander in history. The brilliant young Ender Wiggin is their last hope more...

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Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of thirteen dwarves arrive more...

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What I am reading now: Final Days by Gary Gibson . It's true, I can't deny it. I have been having a love affair with Gary Gibson. I really dig his ideas about where technology may be headed, and his ability to write stories with more twists and turns than a pretzel... Wow. He leaves me in awe.

What am I reading next: Okay! You guessed it. The Thousand Emperors by Gary Gibson.

Looking ahead, 2014 is filled with great new stories that I can't wait to get my hands on. I thought I'd share a few of them with you below. Now because I am reaching so far into the future you cannot yet pre-order these titles, they will be available on the website closer to release. But in the meantime if you click on the cover images you can get yourself up-to-date with other titles by these amazing authors.

Karen MillerThe Path to Power
By Karen Miller
(due July)

In the distant past, the Kingdom of Harcia was torn apart by royal brothers who could not accept a lesser inheritance. Now, the consequences of their actions are coming to light.

Balfre, son of Aimery, Duke of Harcia, is his father's heir. But he has dreams of a crown, not a coronet. He dreams himself the king of a Harcia re-united, but his brother Grefin, their father's favorite, stands in his way.

Harald, debauched Duke of neighboring Clemen, is feared and despised by his nobles. He thinks he can trust his bastard-born cousin Ederic ... but Ederic fears for the duchy and will do what he must to save it.

And caught between dangers is Harald's infant son, Liam. Stolen by his nurse, vanished into the lawless Marches, he is the spark that will grow to set the world on fire.

Glenda LarkeThe Lascar's Dagger
By Glenda Larke
(due March)

Saker looks like a simple priest, but in truth he's a spy for the head of his faith. It's a dangerous job, and more lives than merely his own depend on his secrecy.

When Saker is wounded by a Lascar sailor's blade, the weapon seems to follow him home. Unable to discard it, nor the sense of responsibility that comes with it, Saker can only follow its lead.

It will put him on a journey to strange shores, on a path that will reveal terrible secrets about the empire, about the people he serves, and likely lead to his own destruction. The Lascar's dagger demands a price, and that price will be paid in blood.

Brandon SandersonWords of Radiance
By Brandon Sanderson
(due March)

The war with the Parshendi moves into a new, dangerous phase, as Dalinar leads the human armies deep into the heart of the Shattered Plains in a bold attempt to finally end it.

Shallan follows him, hoping to find the legendary, perhaps mythical, city of Urithuru, which Jasnah believes holds a secret vital to mankind's survival on Roshar.

The Parshendi take a dangerous step to strengthen themselves against the human challenge, risking the return of the fearsome Voidbringers of old.

To deal with it all, Kaladin must learn to how to fulfill his new role as leader of the restored Knights Radiant, while mastering the powers of a Windrunner.
Click here for more details or to buy THE FELL SWORD
By Miles Cameron

Book Two of the Traitor's Son Cycle graces our bookshelves this month and jumps to the top of my To Be Read pile.

Cameron's debut The Red Knight was filled with lush prose and a masterfully created word that was so familiar you could be forgiven for thinking it is an alternate history - it is not. It's just one of those 'niggles at the back of your mind' type of books that have you reaching for wikipedia to look up place names and medieval history. Given the fact that the author is a historian, this is quite possibly, not surprising. That he is also involved in medieval re-enacting adds a certain authenticity to both his descriptions of wearing plate armour and fighting in it!

In The Fell Sword the Red Knight and his company across the mountains to the Morea and Thrake to put down what appears to be a local rebellion, and proves to be larger. Yay! I love epic!

Cameron shifts the readers perspective by opening up the vista set before us. The sides shift, and the stakes grow.

If you are yet to try Miles Cameron, get yourself reading now!

Loyalty costs money. Betrayal, on the other hand, is free.

When the Emperor is taken hostage, the Red Knight and his men find their services in high demand - and themselves surrounded by enemies.

The country is in revolt, the capital city is besieged and any victory will be hard won.

But The Red Knight has a plan. The question is, can he negotiate the political, magical, real and romantic battlefields at the same time - especially when intends to be victorious on them all?

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Click here for more details or to buy THE CORMORANT
By Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig arrived on the Urban Fantasy scene with a big splash in 2012 releasing the first book in the Miriam Black series, Black Birds.

With a style that is somewhat Steven King crossed with Jim Butcher - yet entirely his own -  he has the awesome ability to craft a hair-raising cocktail of tension mixed with dark humour and sheer terror, while serving it with deft characterisation and razor sharp plotting.

This man is good.

Miriam Black knows when you will die.

Still in her early twenties, she's foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer.

Miriam is on the road again, having transitioned from "thief" to "killer." Hired by a wealthy businessman, she heads down to Florida to practice the one thing she's good at, but in her vision she sees him die by another's hand and on the wall written in blood is a message just for Miriam.

She's expected...

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Click here for more details or to buy SEVEN SORCERERS
By John R. Fultz

Fultz' work is rife with sorcery and heroism and in many respects I'd like to compare it to classic David and Leigh Eddings, however Fultz ramps this style up by washing his pages with blood and violence, dark sorcery and fratricide, twisting the rating of these works from Eddings 'PG' to a definite 'Adult' that is more Richard Morgan in theme if not style.

The Books of the Shapers series is solid, classic adventure that blurs the lines between Sword and Sorcery and Epic Fantasy. Full of colour and larger than life characters, Fultz drives his adventures with magic, bloodshed, treachery, and romance.

Ancient Power. Immortal Blood. Eternal Foes.

The Almighty Zyung drives his massive armies across the world to invade the Land of the Five Cities. So begins the final struggle between freedom and tyranny.

The Southern Kings D'zan and Undutu lead a fleet of warships to meet Zyung's aerial armada.

Vireon the Slayer and Tyro the Sword King lead Men and Giants to defend the free world. So begins the great slaughter of the age.

lardu the Shaper and Sharadza Vodsdaughter must awaken the Old Breed to face Zyung's legion of sorcerers. So begins a desperate quest beyond the material world into strange realms of magic and mystery.

Yet already it may be too late ...
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Click here for more details or to buy A MEMORY OF LIGHT
by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

This month sees the paperback release of the final book in the Wheel of Time sequence which was begun by Robert Jordan in 1990.

Yes, I've been a dedicated reader for all that time.

Now sadly the journey is over, and it has been completed most satisfactorily by Brandon Sanderson who was commissioned to complete the series when Jordan passed away before being able to do so.

These books deserve a place on the bookshelf of anyone who enjoys epic fantasy.

In the Field of Merrilor the rulers of the nations gather to join behind Rand al'Thor, or to stop him from his plan to break the seals on the Dark One's prison - which may be a sign of his madness, or the last hope of humankind.

Egwene, the Amyrlin Seat, leans toward the former.

In Andor, the Trollocs seize Caemlyn.

In the wolf dream, Perrin Aybara battles Slayer.
Approaching Ebou Dar, Mat Cauthon plans to visit his wife Tuon, now Fortuona, Empress of the Seanchan.

All humanity is in peril - and the outcome will be decided in Shayol Ghul itself.

The Wheel is turning, and the Age is coming to its end. The Last Battle will determine the fate of the world ...

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Click here for more details or to buy RESONANCE
By John Meaney

John Meaney has a way with ideas and language. He crafts epic stories, fascinating characters, drops in a ton of suspense and writes with a confidence that reassures. He is also the type of writer who you know will pick up every 'dropped' thread of plot and bring it into an exciting and satisfying larger story arc.

The Ragnarok series is time spanning space opera laid out like a rich and engaging tapestry, so much so that it is easy to get so caught up in it you forget all the individual threads used in its construct it and just get absorbed into the whole.

From the leader of a Norse raiding party in 7th-century England to a young symbiotically bonded Pilot-and-Ship in the far future.

From a female German scientist during the Second World War to a member of an alien race who communicates by smell.

From the past to the future, war is coming. And only a few can see the darkness.

Hidden at the centre of the Universe, the darkness spreads its tendrils throughout space and time. Those it touches become puppets, dedicated to slowing down the improvement of the human race and preventing it from reaching its true potential.

For the darkness knows that when it makes its final invasion of our space, humanity will stand against it.

And in the far far future, knowing that they are the last hope for the galaxy, the Ragnarok council is forming...

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Click here for more details or to buy VALOUR'S CHOICE
By Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff proves herself equally adept at military science fiction as contemporary fantasy. She's one of those writers who can write urban fantasy, fantasy and science-fiction, and carry her fanbase across all genres. She is just that good. 

In this series Huff captures the ambiance of an elite military group coupled with skilful characterisation that makes each character stand out.

Staff Sergeant Tobin Kerr was a battle-hardened professional.

So when she and those in her platoon who had survived the last deadly encounter with the Others were yanked from a well-deserved leave for what was supposed to be "easy" duty as the honour guard for a diplomatic mission to the non-Confederation world of the Silsviss, she was ready for anything.

At first, it seemed that all she'd have to contend with was bored troops getting into mischief and breaking in the new second lieutenant who had been given command of her men.

Sure, there had been rumours of the Others-the sworn enemies of the Confederation-being spotted in this sector of space. But there were always rumours. The key thing was to recruit the Silsviss into the Confederation before the Others either attacked or claimed this lizardlike race of warriors for their own side. And everything seemed to be going perfectly.

Maybe too perfectly.

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Edited by David Hartwell

Once again, the finest SF short stories of the year have been collected in a single volume.

With Year's Best SF 18, acclaimed, award-winning editor and anthologist David G. Hartwell demonstrates the amazing depth and power of contemporary speculative fiction, showcasing astonishing stories from some of science fiction's most respected names as well as exciting new writers to watch.

In this anthology, prepare to travel light years from the ordinary into a tomorrow at once breathtaking, frightening, and possible with some of the greatest tales of wonder published in 2012.

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Tom Lloyd 1. To begin with why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself - where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

A Brit born and bred - coming from a small village you've probably never heard of in south-east England. I went to one of the less-famous public schools from which I barely received an education and singularly failed to make all the rich and influential friends you'd expect of such a place. Mostly because that sort of public schoolboy is exactly as dull and unpleasant as you've heard so who who'd want to hang around with them?

I went on to get a degree in International Relations to the surprise of everyone, myself including, given I spent most of those years in the wrong city - then wandered into publishing because books are more interesting than things that make money (and I'd been without money for long enough to forget how useful it could be). I'm now woefully unqualified for anything more lucrative outside of publishing, but it turns out I don't like working hard either.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve I wanted to be a fighter pilot, for obvious reasons, having grown up on a steady diet of movies like The Battle of Britain. By eighteen I realised I hated rollercoasters and anything else that produced g-force so a pilot pushing the envelope probably wasn't to be. So I settled for the far more sensible job of secret service agent, again for obvious reasons because let it never be said aptitude, sense or experience ever got in the way of me wanting stuff. Oddly, I didn't get those jobs either when I applied for them. At thirty I'd been a published author for a couple of years by then, so I just wanted to be someone you'd heard of and not have to say to everyone I meet 'no, it's not that sort of fantasy book'. Of course, with 50 Shades of Grey changing the world, I probably should be telling people it's that sort of fantasy book...

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Click here for details or to order That I'd have been a great spy. I was willing to accept a certain lack of charm andathletic ability might mean I wasn't the James Bond sort of spy, but I was willing to accept a George Smiley intellectual sort. Beyond that, I just knew I didn't have enough strongly-held beliefs. Boarding school was a sheltered world and I lived in my own head most of the time, opinions started to be formed once I was in the real world and now people mostly want me to shut up about stuff. I'm pleased to say I'm more socialist than I was when I was eighteen - not a radical in any form but leaning towards people actually being more important than ideologies or corporate models.

4. What were three works of art - book or painting or piece of music, etc - you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

You'll be shocked to hear, as someone who's previously written a million-word epic fantasy series, that Beowulf and the Hobbit immediately spring to mind there. I find it harder to draw specific lines to influences - the effects of both M R James and Lovecraft are clear in my short stories, but for the new book it started off with more of a sense of the cold war spy stories my dad read as I was growing up, whether Le Carre, or more pulpy novels by authors like Allburey. I'm not sure whether that's three sets or I'm just cheating in my answer.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

It never occurred to me to do anything else artistic really! Like most authors, books occupied a hallowed place in the house when I was growing up - we never threw any away, no matter how full the bookcases got, and the weekend trips to the library were just part of the fabric of the world. My parents go on holiday to relax, eat and read - two weeks of reading from breakfast to bedtime. They now own the house they used to rent year on year and there's still no TV, but there are more bookcases.

Click here for details or to order6. Please tell us about your latest novel 'Moon's Artifice'

It's a story of Investigator Narin who, through a number of twists in his life, finds himself caught up in a mystery that could change the stagnated empire he's grown up in - but not for the better. He encounters a man who is involved but injured and unable to remember his role in events, which then quickly spiral out of everyone's control. With secrets of his own to keep, demons and plague running rife in the city, Narin and three others caught up with him must stay alive long enough to find out what's going on, and realise they might have the key to stopping it.

As for everything else - there are gods orbiting in the sky, noble castes whose laws restrict the ownership of guns to themselves, elite warrior-mages whose power underpins each nation within the empire, ancient buildings from an earlier age that dominate the skyline, and demon-possessed foxes.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

That they enjoyed it! Beyond anything else, it's should be a fun and fast-paced book that's much an action/thriller in a fantasy setting as anything else. Swords and sorcery best describes it when you're putting books into SFF genre categories, but it's not really the classic sort of S&S you might expect when you hear the term.

Narin is not a typical fantasy hero - not a chosen warrior, rightful prince, wisecracking thief or gritty antihero. He's just a policeman who's had some strange luck and made some bad choices - not a revolutionary, but certainly unhappy about aspects of the empire he lives in. What he is is principled and when one side is responsible for the killing of children, it doesn't take a god's command to ensure he's on the opposite side.  Of course, since a god has told him to get involved or else, that might hurry him along a bit.

Click here for details or to order8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Hard to know where to start, but you don't want an essay... Graham Greene for his lean prose, le Carre for his acuity, Steven Erikson's scope and ambition, M R James for voice and elegance, Tolkien for the broad shoulders much of fantasy sits on. To throw in a few more contemporaries though, Mike Carey, Scott Lynch, Guy Gavriel Kay, I could go on...

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Goals? Hah, staying a professional writer (albeit part-time one) is goal enough for me. I'm not sure in writing you can aim for actual success, only try to be good enough that it might find you and maybe point your nose in the right direction. Awards would be nice, millions in the bank and a TV series would be great, but it's all about having lots of people read my work and say they enjoyed it - if I keep that up the only real goal of paying the mortgage should look after itself. Moon's Artifice started out as an idea I had ten years ago, once these books are done I know what the next series will be and likely the one after that. It's all about telling the stories I want and making them good enough that people will care.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Do what you enjoy - don't try to do what you think will be successful, just always be better at what you like. Writing is a skill, you need to learn it and you'll constantly refine it. Going back I'd have started out with a novel I could have written as a means to learn the craft rather than need to rewrite the start of my long series a dozen times before it was ready to be published. Do read authors you admire and look at the way they put sentences/paragraphs/scenes together - you'll soon lose things you don't want to keep and that's how you find your own style. Treat it like a job, but remember to enjoy it. If you don't enjoy it, no one will. 

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In This Issue

Book of the Month


What I've Been Reading


Science Fiction

Ten Terrifying Questions

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