Booktopia SF
 & Fantasy Buzz
September 2009 | Edition Four
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WELCOME TO THE SF & FANTASY BUZZ
Another month, another brilliant list of new speculative fiction. As always, I have sorted through the myriad of science fiction and fantasy books hitting the shelves and brought you only the very best - it's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!

The wonderful people at Simon & Schuster have helped us out again and we have some copies of Chris Evans' new Iron Elves novel, The Light of Burning Shadows, to give away, so make sure you check it out.

And while I'm talking about great offers, to celebrate the release of the new-look Ranger's Apprentice jackets we are offering Book 1, The Ruins of Gorlan, for only $4.00! If you haven't already tried this amazing YA series, it's a great time to finally see what all the fuss is about.

The Ranger's Apprentice isn't the only thing getting a new look. The Hitchhikers Guide series has been refurbished in preparation for And Another Thing..., the Eion Colfer-written 6th instalment. Terry Goodkind has taken a new direction with his writing, taking leave from his Sword of Truth series to write a real-world fantasy thriller called The Law of Nines. And, in case you missed them the first time,  a couple of old favourites have returned with new editions that are worth a look too.

I have three very different Books of the Month for you to enjoy, from a hard-edged political thriller, to the mesmerising sequel to a British fantasy classic, and an absorbing debut young adult novel that has me desperate for the sequel. It's been a big month for Australian speculative fiction and I've got all the news on our home grown authors' latest releases. There is also more fun with Jane Austen in the latest literary mash-ups, new books from debut authors and fantasy legends alike, the latest Star Wars and Doctor Who, and all the best new urban fantasy and young adult to get excited about.

And remember, every book featured in this newsletter is 20% off the retail price.

Happy reading,
Richard Bilkey
Editor
SF & Fantasy Buzz

RICHARD'S SF & FANTASY BOOKS OF THE MONTH
TRANSITION by Iain Banks

Fans of Iain M Banks will already have noticed the lack of the tell-tale middle initial on the cover of this book, usually an indicator that this is a mainstream novel, not science fiction. But Transition is being called a crossover novel by the publishers. It seems to me that if you start playing around with parallel worlds, like Banks does in Transition, you are firmly in the science fiction camp but I guess the publishers are keen to capture both markets. No matter, the book is an absolute cracker, and that's all that really counts.

 Transition uses the multiple universe hypothesis, with an infinite range of parallel Earths all possible, to great effect in this provocative political thriller. Central to the story are a group of agents, known as 'transitionaries', who are able to jump between the worlds using a drug called septus. Guided by an organisation known as the Concern, the transitionaries are assassins, executing certain individuals before they commit acts that would otherwise have a terrible impact on their society.

Transition begins with six separate (and initially a little disorientating) narratives that weave across and through each other to meticulously map the complex alternate realities. The main narrative follows assassin, Temudjin Oh, who is beginning to doubt the morality of his actions as a transitionary. He begins to question the real motives of the Concern and its powerful but all too human executives and, as his story merges with the five other narratives a sinister conspiracy takes shape.

Within the diverse range of alternate worlds imagined in the book, Banks takes real world events, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to September 11 and the recent Global Financial Crisis, as historico-political markers of our own reality. But these events don't only serve to ground the reader in the swirl of parallel histories — they also mark the broader moral issues Banks is trying to tackle, such as pre-emptive strikes, torture, invasion, greed and the responsibility of those in power.

Transition is a rare mix of high quality thriller, compelling science fiction and provocative social commentary all in one. Told with characteristic dark humour, Transition has a lightness of touch that belies its power to hit you  right between the eyes.

Click here to order this title:
Transition
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price $26.50


AVILION by Robert Holdstock

On the 25th anniversary of the publication of his beguiling cult classic, Mythago Wood, Robert Holdstock has finally written the long begged-for sequel. While Holdstock did continue to write books based in the Mythago Wood universe, none of the Mythago Cycle that followed picked up the story of that first book.

Mythago Wood was regarded as one of the seminal British fantasy novels, forging a modern connection with the Celtic myths and later Anglo-Saxon legends in a way that had never been done before but felt instantly familiar to everyone who read it. Set in a small but primeval forest in Kent called Ryhope Wood, an ancient sentience survives undisturbed, feeding on human dreams and the collective unconscious, bringing it all to life in the form of "Mythagoes". Here, the stories and myths and legends of all human history may take on physical form and wander through the wood. But, like the stories they are born from, the mythagoes may change in the re-telling.

Mythago Wood focused on the experiences of brother's Christian and Steven  Huxley who, just like their father before them, both become obsessed with Rhyope Wood and fall in love with the beautiful mythago Guiwenneth. And, just like their father, the obsession causes them to turn their back on their families in the outside world.

Avilion picks up where Mythago Wood ended, with the re-union of Steven and Guiwenneth. They make a home deep in the wood and raise two children; Jack and Yssobel. Half-human, half-mythago, the siblings are drawn in different directions - Jack to the outside world and Yssobel deeper and deeper into the heartland of myth and towards the mysterious realm of Avilion.

After 25 years Robert Holdstocks style has certainly lightened. Mythago Wood was a mesmerisingly beautiful and intense tragic-fantasy. Avilion brings more humour and greater variety in tone and style, giving the reader more room to breath. It perhaps loses some narrative drive in comparison but the central imagination and inventiveness is intact and it stands very tall as a sequel to such a distinguished novel.

Click here to order this title:
Avilion
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price $26.50

Click here to order Mythago Wood:
RRP: $22.99 Booktopia Price $18.50


THE POISON THRONE by Celine Kiernan

I have just had the great fortune of reading two books back-to-back that have totally exceeded my expectations. The second (finished only hours before I write this review) is called Prophecy's Ruin, the debut novel by Australian television writer Sam Bowring. It is due for release in October (click here to read more). The first book was of course The Poison Throne by Irish debutante Celine Kiernan.

The opening volume in a proposed trilogy, The Poison Throne wears it's fantasy elements lightly but effectively, lifting this book from good historical fiction to something a little more interesting. Set in an imagined southern European kingdom in the 14th Century, where cats still talk to humans and ghosts are a part of every day life. At least, that was the way things were before 10-year-old Wynter and her father Lord Lorcan Moorehawke, were sent on a diplomatic sojourn into a cold and religiously oppressive kingdom in the north. Returning five years later, Wynter and Lorcan are distraught to find that their once enlightened and tolerant home had fallen into the same dark bigotry and brutal repression that they had witnessed across the continent.

As daughter to a Lord, Wynter has grown up in the duplicitous world of the court. But Lorcan is also a master carpenter and has taken his daughter on as an apprentice to equip her with the skills she needs to succeed in a man's world. Her other companions in the castle are the King's bastard son Razi, who grew up like a brother to Wynter, and Razi's wild friend Christopher. The bonds that grow between these four characters under intense pressure are the heart and soul of this book. There is great humour and budding romance here to enjoy too.

Action, like the lightly worn fantasy, is used only when required but is all the more brutal and affecting because of it. The Poison Throne is a seething drama of courtly intrigue, with Kiernan constantly turning the tension ever up and up and up on her characters and her readers. This is a kingdom of good people, trapped by poor decisions into a spiral that they cannot control. But as friend and family succumb to the rotten politics and turn on each other, how can Wynter and her ailing father survive the purge?

Sold as young adult novel, the rawness of some of the violence and the explicitness of the sexual references, though never gratuitous or overbearing, make this a book for older teens and adults.

I can't wait for Book 2.

Click here to order this title:
The Poison Throne
RRP: $19.99 Booktopia Price $15.99

LITERARY MASH-UPS
When we look back on 2009 the one original publishing phenomenon that will stand out is the rise of the Literary Mash-up. Whether it's going to be just another passing fad or continue to grow we will simply have to wait and see. One of the best indicators of a great idea is the question "How come nobody thought of this before?" and their are publishers all around the world asking themselves exactly that right now.

Now, after the extraordinary success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (IN STOCK), we are starting to see the first trickles of an impending flood of violated classics. Jane Austen certainly seems the author of choice so far. This month the same publisher who brought us P&P&Z has returned to hijack Sense & Sensibility while Amanda Grange, author of the rather more straight-laced Pride and Prejudice sequel Mr Darcy's Diary, has jumped into the fray with a completely new version of Elizabeth Bennett's married life in Mr Darcy, Vampyre - now that's more like it!

Look out next month for Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter (she loved her country; She hated demons) and then in December I am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas. Fans of the original P&P&Z will be glad to hear that it's author, Seth Grahame-Smith, has just signed a massive deal in the US to write Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It seems that already the Literary Monster Mash-up is evolving, with historical figures also fair game.


SENSE AND SENSIBILITY AND SEA MONSTERS MR DARCY, VAMPYRE
Jane Austen &
Ben H Withers

It's not only Jane Austen's razor sharp social commentary that bites in this mashed-up regency classic.

Evicted from their childhood home, the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, are sent to live on a mysterious island with a dark secret. Giant lobsters, two-headed serpents and other fearsome sea monsters infest the waters. When Marianne is rescued from the jaws of a giant octopus by the handsome Mr Willoughby she is swept off her feet. But Willoughby is not the only one keen to get his tentacles around the beautiful Marianne Dashwood ...

The publishers claim that this is 60% Austen and 40% tentacled mayhem. Here's a taste:

As she lay gasping on the bank, soaked by the fetid water and the foul juices of the monster, spitting small bits of brain and gore from the corners of her mouth, a gentleman clad in a diving costume and helmet, and carrying a harpoon gun, ran to her assistance.

The gentleman, opening the circular, hinged portcullis on the front of his helmet, offered his services; and perceiving that her modesty declined what her situation rendered necessary, took her up in his arms without further delay and carried her down the hill.


Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters was released on the 15th September. That was the same day as the new Dan Brown, so the publishers are pretty confident they're on a winner here. Make sure you check out the great book trailer too.

Click here to order this title:
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
RRP: $24.95 Booktopia Price: $19.95

  Amanda Grange

Amanda Grange has made her name writing sequels to Jane Austen's greatest romantic classics. Known for her faithful reproduction of Austen's regency style, she has in fact already written a very successful Pride and Prejudice sequel, Mr Darcy's Diary, but it seems the temptation to wander down darker paths was too much.

Following on directly from their wedding night, the new Mr and Mrs Darcy embark on a tour of Europe. Mingling with Darcy's friends and family, Lizzy soon detects a dark secret is being kept from her. As the tension  rises in their marriage her anxiety and paranoia grow.

Mr Darcy, Vampyre is far less irreverent than it's chaotic zombie slashing cousin. Written with much greater fealty to the original characters, Grange uses Darcy's brooding nature brilliantly to construct a tense and atmospheric horror, more in line with Dracula than Shawn of the Dead.

This is also a wonderful antidote to the vampire romance currently being mass produced on a gratuitous scale. It would be silly to say that this is what Jane Austen would have written if she had done paranormal romance (though I'm sure a few publishers would be happy to use that line) but I guess this is about as close as we're ever likely to get.

The release of Mr Darcy, Vampyre has been delayed slightly in Australia, but Booktopia will do everything possible to deliver your order as soon as possible.

Click here to order this title:
Mr Darcy, Vampyre
RRP: $29.95 Booktopia Price: $23.95
HOME GROWN: THE BEST NEW AUSTRALIAN SF & FANTASY
OCEANIC by Greg Egan

There is something for fans of every sub-genre of science fiction in this breathtaking collection of short stories. The Perth based Egan is perhaps Australia's most consistently brilliant but under-rated writer of science fiction today. His unapologetically hard science fiction stories put him in league with Neal Stephenson as one of the world's most exciting writers on epistemology, rationalism over religion, the nature of consciousness, post-humanism and other scientific frontiers. His use of mathematics and physics as a literary tool is unmatched but not for the faint-hearted.

This collection publishes for the first time in book form many of his best works including his Hugo Award-winning novella, Oceanic. From artificial intelligence to asylum seekers and quantum soccer to religion, Greg Egan's stories stretch the mind and excite your literary senses with memorable characters and engaging plots. If you are truly a fan of cerebral science fiction then Greg Egan should be on the top of you list.

Click here to buy this book:
Oceanic
RRP: $35.00 Booktopia Price: $28.00


TYRANT'S BLOOD by Fiona McIntosh

It seems amazing to recall that Fiona only appeared on the fantasy scene eight years ago with the publication of Betrayal, the first book in her Trinity series.  Immediately she impressed readers with her distinctive voice and genuine characters. Since then her writing has only improved further. Her second series, The Quickening, established her reputation internationally and is still regarded as her most popular work. The Percheron series, which followed, was several shades darker but has nevertheless attracted a loyal following.

Tyrant's Blood is the second volume in the Valisar trilogy,  set in the same world as the Percheron series. Book one, Royal Exile has already been nominated for the new David Gemmell award and sets up a wonderful premise for the rest of the series: The Valisar dynasty, ruling over the kingdom of Penraven, is facing invasion from the West and while it is too late for King Brennus to save himself, he is desperate to preserve his lineage. In Tyrant's Blood we find the conquering King Loethar surprisingly successful in bringing peace quickly to his growing empire. But the usurped prince Leonel Valisar begrudges his lost throne and will do anything to get it back.

This is another strong showing from Fiona McIntosh as she turns the typical clichés upside down and surprises her readers at every turn.

Click here to order this book:
Tyrant's Blood
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price: $26.50


FULL CIRCLE
by Pamela Freeman

World building is so important in fantasy and the Eleven Domains of the Castings Trilogy stand out as one of the most elegantly constructed worlds in recent years. Everything from the history of its people to the herbs they use for medicine is all there without you ever even noticing it. There is more than a touch of Ursula Le Guin in Freeman's writing, in the way her characters lead the story but bring their world to life around them in their actions and dialogue.

The premise of the Castings Trilogy is also captivating: in a land where ghosts may still walk among the living a mage calls up the dead to seek revenge on behalf of his people. Known as the Travellers, they were displaced a thousand years ago by invading warlords and remain outcasts to this day. But as the dead grow in numbers and begin to destroy everything in the Eleven Domains, Saker the mage begins to wonder if his vengeance has come at too high a cost.

Click here to order this book
Full Circle
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price: $26.50

THE LAST STORMLORD by Glenda Larke

Born in Western Australia, Glenda Larke's new series, The Watergiver, owes a lot to her childhood in a house that relied completely on rainwater. In a recent blog entry she explained how that early experience helped inspire the series:

One long, hot, dry Australian summer in the 1950s, a rat drowned and decomposed in the watertank – and we had to throw the precious water away. Until the next rain, still a month or two away, we carted water from neighbours – who also went short because they shared. There’s idea number one: water is precious.

More ideas came as she witnessed water use around the world, from the Malaysian rainforest to the Sahara desert (read her full blog entry at the fantastic Science Fiction & Fantasy Novelists website for a wonderful account of the genesis of these ideas). The result is a fantasy novel with a beautifully refined and utterly original world that is shaped by the harsh realities of water scarcity. It would be easy to imagine that the characters almost wrote themselves from this point, so intricately are they bound to the landscape they inhabit. But that would be to sell Glenda Larke short - characterisation this strong and worlds this well rendered do not write themselves, no matter what the author may humbly claim.

Glenda's background in environmental conservation has provided her with a deep well of experience to draw from and there is a close intimacy with the themes and a maturity to the writing that places this new series on a higher level than her previous works.

Click here to order this book
The Last Stormlord
RRP: $22.99 Booktopia Price: $18.50


THE FALL OF OSSARD by Colin Taber

Over the last few decades Perth has developed a small but passionate and prolific speculative fiction community. Perhaps the most notable success story, apart from Greg Egan, has been the brilliant illustrator, writer  and all-round nice guy Shaun Tan, who just happens to have provided the cover art for The Fall of Ossard. Colin Taber has been an active member of the local Perth scene since the early nineties, creating the role playing publication, Australian Realms Magazine. It was in this magazine that the world of Unae, the setting for The Fall of Ossard, first appeared and evolved.

Having already created his own magazine it is not a huge surprise that Colin has opted to self-publish his debut novel. Now, I always approach self-published books with some trepidation because it is rare that they have received the objective editorial attention and polish that is quite simply necessary for 99% of novels. And it's true that The Fall of Ossard could stand some closer copy-editing and proof reading to tone down some of the more excessive examples of overwriting that pop up from time to time. But, when it comes down to the punch, the core story running through this book is very powerful and easily strong enough that the reader is quickly swept up in Taber's imagination and his unusually deep exploration of some large themes.

Taking witch hunts as a starting point, Taber puts a fascinating new spin on the Inquisition in this polytheistic world of magic and religious fanaticism.

Click here to order this book:
The Fall of Ossard
RRP: $29.99 Booktopia Price: $23.99
 
IMPRESSIVE DEBUT NOVELS - NEW AUTHORS TO KEEP YOUR EYE ON
DARKBORN THE DROWNING CITY
Alison Sinclair

OK, Alison Sinclair technically isn't a debut author - she has four science fiction novels and an Arthur C. Clark award nomination to her name. Darkborn is her first foray into fantasy, however, and is so different  to her previous books that there is a whole other audience just waiting to discover her.

Central to this book is an 800-year-old curse placed upon the human population by a powerful mage known as Imogene. The curse effectively divided the world into the darkborn and lightborn - those born in the dark find any form of light lethal, while in the absence of illumination the lightborn melt away into the darkness. This makes it almost impossible for any interaction between the two peoples.

When Balthasar, a darkborn physician, is called upon to deliver and hide twins conceived in an illicit affair by a noble woman he begrudgingly agrees. But even though Balthasar has himself developed a relationship of sorts with a lightborn woman, communicating through the thin walls of their adjoining apartments, he finds it hard to believe that the father of the children was lightborn, as the mother claims. Even if their mother does not want the twins, there are people who do and Balthasar soon finds himself under attack.

This is an intriguing story that will have you hanging out eagerly for the follow-up, lightborn. What truly impresses is Sinclair's prose however. No doubt her science fiction background has honed her ability to build speculative worlds without distracting the reader from the drama and action of the story and she has transferred those skills seamlessly. Her characters and their divided world emerge effortlessly from the elegant descriptions and intelligent dialogue.

Click here to order this book:
Darkborn
RRP: $24.95 Booktopia Price: $19.95

  Amanda Downum

It's hard not to mention the cover art on this book first - simply stunning. Fortunately the jacket isn't the only part of this highly polished debut that's worth getting excited over.

Isyllt Iskaldur is a necromancer and a spy on a mission to incite a revolution. Conquered by the expansionist Assari emperor, the nation of Sivahra unwillingly provides great wealth and resources for its new ruler, fuelling his ambitions to drive north, towards Isyllt's own home of Selafai. But there are rumours of rebellion smouldering in the capital, Symir, and Isyllt has been sent to help fan the flames. If Symir can rise up against the Emperor then his relentless march towards Selafai may be slowed or even stopped altogether.

But drawing together the faction-ridden revolutionaries proves more difficult and far more dangerous than she had feared. While some prefer to try peaceful means to displace the government, others have less patience and will readily resort to violence. Even the dead and the monsters who live in the city's flooded canals are plotting.

And, as Isyllt spends more time in the city and grows closer to some of its inhabitants, her own loyalties are tested. Revolution would mean destruction of the beautiful and thriving city, a city that Isyllt has become far too personally attached too. As the monsoon rains flood the city and  overfill its dams, Isyllt's allies betray her and the very people she is working to save try to hunt her down.

With a distinctly South-East Asian flavour, Symir is brought to life with exquisite detail. Issylt stands out from chapter one as a marvellous spy and a very worthy character to build a series around. You won't be disappointed.

Click here to order this book:
The Drowning City
RRP: $19.99 Booktopia Price: $15.99
COMPETITION: WIN A COPY OF 'THE LIGHT OF BURNING SHADOWS'
Purchase your copy of A Darkness Forged in Fire for the chance to win the sequel, The Light of Burning Shadows.

Our good friends at Simon & Schuster Australia have come to the party again and given us three copies of the  brand new second book in Chris Evans highly entertaining The Iron Elves series to give away. All you need to do is purchase a copy of A Darkness Forged in Fire and answer the following question in 25 words or less:

What made your favourite Sci-Fi/Fantasy hero or heroine so memorable?

Email your answer and purchase order number to us at: marketing@booktopia.com.au to go into the draw.

As you can see, both the large and small formats of A Darkness Forged in Fire are available and you can purchase either one to enter the competition.

Chris Evans is a military historian and his familiarity with the subject is obvious in these two books. Not only is the strategy and equipment highly authentic, the relationships between the soldiers of the Iron Elves unit is described in a way that only someone with a close personal understanding could convey. The plots in both books are uncomplicated but action packed and pure entertainment. With some highly original magical concepts, this rollicking military adventure is perfect for anyone who likes a hard edge to their fantasy.

A DARKNESS FORGED IN FIRE by Chris Evans

Rejected by their own kind for bearing the mark of the Shadow Monarch, the Iron Elves chose instead to serve with the human armies of the Calahrian Empire, hoping through their dedication and discipline to wipe out the stain of their birth. Their reputation is legendary until their commander, Konowa Swift Dragon, takes it upon himself  to assassinate the Viceroy. In exile Konowa is asked to reform his old unit for what turns out to be a suicidal mission to stop the Shadow Monarch from obtaining a source of power so potent she could dominate the entire world.

Click here to read an excerpt from this book.

Click here to order this book:
A Darkness Forged in Fire
RRP: $29.95 Booktopia Price: $23.95

THE LIGHT OF BURNING SHADOWS by Chris Evans

Recalled to duty to reform his regiment from the dregs of the Imperial Army, Konowa thwarted the plans of the Shadow Monarch, ensuring that the fabled Red Star did not fall into Her hands. Now Konowa must cross storm-tossed seas to seek out the lost elves and the prophesied return of another Star somewhere in a desert wasteland roiling with mysterious power.  The fate of every living creature will come to depend on a small band of ragged and desperate soldiers, whose very loyalty to the Empire they have sworn to serve is no longer certain.

Click here to read an excerpt from this book.

Click here to order this book:
The Light of Burning Shadows
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price: $26.50

NEW BOOKS FROM FANTASY LEGENDS
A PRINCESS OF LANDOVER RIDES A DREAD LEGION
Terry Brooks

It's been 15 years since the last Landover book and, as a childhood fan of the series, I was eager to see if the magic was still there. It's always a little strange returning to books you loved as a teenager so I tried to read this objectively.

The first thing that struck me was that this is definitely a young adult book.  I enjoyed the nostalgia of returning to a world I had loved as a kid but there was very little cross over potential for new adult readers. The real audience for this book is 13 to 18-year-olds and I think it hits the mark perfectly here. Brooks has obviously tried to write a stand alone novel, realising that his old fans are probably into their 30's by now. He has to attract new readers quickly and get them to go back and read the original series and I hope he manages to win some over.

Full of the whimsical charm that made the original series so beloved by many, A Princess of Landover should revive that wonderful series for a new generation.

Click here to order this book:
A Princess of Landover
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price: $26.50


Raymond E. Feist

In Feist's universe, a Riftwar is a war between two worlds bridged by a dimensionless gap or 'rift'. Rides a Dread Legion marks the beginning of a fourth separate Riftwar - the Demonwar. In fact, Feist has confirmed there will be five different wars in the Riftwar cycle, spanning 30 novels in total!

The Demonwar Saga begins 10 years after the events of Wrath of a Mad God. Since that time a lost race of elves, the taredhel or 'people of the stars', have landed on Midkemia, certain that it is the legendary home of the ancestors and determined to assume control of the planet. But the greater danger for the peoples of Midkemia is not the taredhel but the demon legions that still pursue them from their war across the galaxy.

This far through the Riftwar cycle it is perhaps useless to try to jump in uninitiated. Close readers of the series, though, will begin to see some of the mysteries raised in previous books begin to be solved as Feist begins his descent into the final chapters of this epic and immensely absorbing saga.

Released in hard cover in March this year, this is the trade paperback edition.

Click here to order this book:
Rides a Dread Legion
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price: $26.50


A NEW DIRECTION FOR TERRY GOODKIND
THE LAW OF NINES by Terry Goodkind

The Sword of Truth series has consumed Terry Goodkind for 15 years now, so it's exciting to see him embark on a new direction - though it may not be as much of a departure as it first appears ...

Set in modern day Nebraska (in Terry Goodkind's home town of Omaha, in fact), 27 year-old Alex saves the life of a beautiful woman, pushing her out of the way of an out-of-control truck. In doing so Alex unwittingly passes a test. The woman, introducing herself as Jax, explains that she is from another world, once connected to our own, where magic still exists. Her world is under threat however, from Lord Radell Cain, who would seek to expel all magic and use Earth technology to take control. Alex, she explains, has been identified by the "Law of Nines" as the man prophecised to save her world.

If this is all sounding familiar to you fantasy readers, yeah, it's a pretty cliché set up when you break it down like that. But Terry Goodkind's always been able to work safely within the traditional fantasy tropes and still produce stories with strong philosophical and human themes. His real strength of course is great, heart pumping action and The Law of Nines certainly has that in spades. There is a strong Stephen King vibe going on in this book too. He builds constant suspense and tension, keeping you on the edge of your seat in every chapter.

Fans of Goodkind's other work will not be disappointed despite the change in style - there are even hints that he has not travelled very far from his Sword of Truth roots: names such as Rahl, Amnell and the People's Palace cannot have popped up by accident. For those who have yet to sample Goodkind's work, this is not a bad place to start, particularly if you enjoy a really good thriller.

Click here to order this book:
The Law of Nines
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price: $26.50

THE BEST FANTASY FROM OVERSEAS
TRAITOR'S GATE:
CROSSROADS BK 3
 DESTROYER OF WORLDS:
KINGDOM OF THE SERPENT BK 3
Kate Elliott

Before she began writing the Crossroads Trilogy Kate Elliott made a commitment on her blog to work on three separate issues in her writing:

1: cut extraneous verbiage; 2: make every single plot wrap around the essential spine of the book, no exceptions, nothing moving off in its own direction; 3: intensify character interaction in a way that would create and enable the emotional impact received by the reader.

The result has been a tighter, more gripping read than her sprawling Crown of Stars saga. Traitor's Gate wraps up this trilogy very cleanly, tying up all the loose ends, though never in the way you would expect - and be warned, there are some pretty big shocks in store for faithful readers.

The Crossroads Trilogy was always planned as a prequel to another series set in the same world. In between, will be a stand alone novel, linking the two trilogies. If Kate keeps to her three rules and produces stories as interesting and enthralling as Traitor's Gate, then I'm hooked already.

Click here to order this book:
Traitor's Gate
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price: $26.50

  Mark Chadbourn

The ultimate battle between Existence and the Void is about to take place. It is the last stand for all the Gods who have ever existed and all of humankind. Jack Churchill and the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons have marshalled a formidable army for a final assault on their enemy, the perfect incarnation of destruction, the Burning Man.

Destroyer of Worlds is the concluding chapter of the Kingdom of the Serpent Trilogy and has perhaps one of the best finishes to a series you will ever read. Even into the penultimate chapter, you just can't tell which way this story is going to go. Chadbourn's ability to inject detail while maintaining high action has never been better displayed. The folklore alone in this series is incredibly well researched and absolutely fascinating, encompassing the entire world and introducing me to gods and legends I'd never before come across.

Of course, you can't pick this up without reading the first two books in the Kingdom of the Serpent Trilogy, but it is definitely worth the effort.

Click here to order this book:
Destroyer of Worlds
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price: $26.50


NEW URBAN FANTASY
DARK SLAYER
 COLD KISS OF DEATH
Christine Feehan

This is the 17th 'Dark' Carpathian novel from Christine Feehan and in a few ways is quite different to the books that preceded it.

Most strikingly, it is told from the perspective of a female Carpathian. Females are rare in the Carpathian race - this being a major part of the premise behind the entire series - and Dark Slayer offers a refreshing perspective on the series.

Carpathians, for those unfamiliar with the series, are an ancient and powerful race of blood-drinkers who do not, however, kill the humans they feed on. In fact, once a Carpathian kills they become the soulless monsters we know as vampires. The Carpathians are a dying race, however, as very few females have been born for hundreds of years. Without life-mates the male Carpathians lose their emotions, with only the thrill of "the kill" - and subsequent vampirism - left to them.

Even before Dark Slayer, with it's female perspective, the Carpathian series has evolved significantly since it first began. The more traditional romance elements have become more sophisticated and the fantasy has grown deeper also, with Feehan developing the Carpathian language and working hard on the action.

A great new instalment for fans of the series.

Click here to order this book:
Dark Slayer
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price: $26.50
  Suzanne McLeod

If you like your urban fantasy to have a strong mystery plot, thumping good action and just a hint of sexual tension and romance, then  Suzanne McLeod's Spellcrackers series is perfect.

Cold Kiss of Death follows on from The Sweet Scent of Blood and, considering the complexity of the world she has created (there are a lot of different paranormals in here), you really need to read book 1 first. 

The series follows Genny Taylor, a sidhe fae currently employed by Spellcrackers.com, a sort of magical pest removal company. When one of her human friends is murdered by sidhe magic Genny is implicated and must go on the run. But being the only sidhe fae in London has other problems, such as being the target of just about every vampire in town.

This is good stuff and definitely a series to get a hold of for fans of Charlaine Harris and  Patricia Briggs.

Click here to order this book:
Cold Kiss of Death
RRP: $29.99 Booktopia Price: $23.99
THE BEST NEW YOUNG ADULT SF & FANTASY
TIME OF TRIAL:
THE LAWS OF MAGIC BOOK 4
 THE CROSSING:
BLOOD OF THE LAMB BOOK 1
Michael Pryor

I love The Laws of Magic series. There's no other way to say it. The language, the characters, the Young Indiana Jones-style adventure and, above all, the ingenious invention of Rationalist Magic make this one of the my all-time favourite young adult series.

Son of the Prime Minister and cousin to Crown Prince Albert, Aubrey Fitzwilliam is no stranger to political intrigue and affairs of the state. But as the drums of war begin to sound across the continent, Aubrey and his stalwart adventuring companions George and Caroline, are pressed into service as spies for their country.

Aubrey is already certain of one thing: his powerful nemesis, Dr Mordecai Tremaine, is the manipulative mind steering the world into an all-out conflict. But fate hands Aubrey a chance to hit back at the evil ex-sorcerer and perhaps stop the war before it even begins.

Along the way he will have to contend with powerful weather magic, a golem-making machine, brigands, toxic magical residue, a surfeit of guano and a hopelessly one-sided cricket match. Oh, and there's that pesky problem of being technically dead that just won't go away. But only having a flimsy grip on his own soul has never slowed Aubrey down before and, anyway, all of that may be about to change too ...

I cannot recommend this Australian fantasy series highly enough. It's the perfect mix of original magic, high spirited adventure, political intrigue and memorable characters. What else could you ever possibly want?

Click here to order this book:
Time of Trial
RRP: $17.95 Booktopia Price: $14.50
  Mandy Hager

Award winning NZ author Mandy Hager is not very well known outside her home country but her new book, The Crossing, is a post-apocalyptic thriller of such force and originality that it deserves a much wider audience.

Set on a fictional Pacific Island about three generations into the future, after a violent solar flare unleashed a blast of radiation across Earth in 2012, almost completely wiping out humanity. The only survivors seem to be the inhabitants of a tiny, isolated Pacific Island of Onewere and the crew and guests aboard a cruise ship lucky enough to be docked in the lagoon. The ship, 'The Star of the Sea' provides a safe haven for the Island's inhabitants in the aftermath of the disaster.

Over the years the descendants of the ship's original officers begin to manipulate Christian texts to claim superiority over the rest of the island, even going so far as to proclaim themselves gods. Hoarding the ship's resources for themselves they set up a society focused on satisfying their own needs. And, with leukaemia epidemic since the radiation storm, one of their greatest needs is a constant supply of fresh blood.

15-year-old Maryam is a girl crossing over into womanhood. Now an adult, she is chosen to go serve her masters on the cruise ship but what she discovers there will shatter everything she has been brought up to believe about her blessed island home. When following orders will most likely kill you, what else can you do?

Click here to order this book:
The Crossing
RRP: $17.95 Booktopia Price: $14.50

KISS OF LIFE TIME QUAKE
Daniel Waters

Generation Dead and its sequel Kiss of Life have been one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. What appeared little more than a giggly teenage ZomCom turned out to be a seriously mature and compelling story dealing very cleverly with  some heavy social issues, such as discrimination and hate crimes and the roles played by the courts, the media, non-profit organisations and the oppressed minorities themselves.

Before you get the idea that this is in anyway a dry and preachy book, let me reassure you: Generation Dead and Kiss of Life have an emotional power that can only be achieved with characters the reader completely believes in. The use of zombies, or the 'differently biotic' as they prefer to be called, cuts right to the heart of our fears about human difference but it also opens up great avenues for humour, bizarre love triangles and forbidden romance.

One of the highlights of Kiss of Life is the brilliant, stilted language of the newly zombified Adam and its ability to express both his love for our heroine Phoebe and also his frustration at being mostly paralysed. Only an extract can do it justice:

Phoebe.

Beautiful Phoebe.

Through the glass watch Phoebe leave bus walk to house Phoebe green skirt green eyes skirt trailing hair flowing black and shiny in the sun. Brown leather boots beige scarf wearing colours no black Phoebe beautiful Phoebe. Halloween Phoebe in costume no costume.

Click here to order this book:
Kiss of Life
RRP: $17.99 Booktopia Price: $14.50

Linda Buckley-Archer

Concluding the marvellous Time Quake Trilogy, this is one of those series you never want to finish.

Time travel is always a tricky literary device to pull off. There are so many continuity issues to wrap your head around and getting the historical authenticity, both for the real and alternate time-lines is very difficult. Linda Buckley-Archer does a stunning job, made even more impressive when you consider that this book was written for a young audience but has definite adult appeal.

Picking up where the Tar Man left off, we find Peter and Kate stuck in 1763 while the reckless Lord Luxon works to undermine all of American history by altering the outcome of the War of Independence. As he manipulates history more and more the world is wracked by time quakes, with buildings collapsing and figures from all over history appearing in the wrong time.

Being lost in time has had a terrible impact on Kate and she is in danger of fast-forwarding, fading into the background, doomed to watch eternity unfold without ever being able to interact. Only her contact with Peter keeps her from slipping away completely. Together they are determined to track down the Tar Man who, as monstrous as he is, may be the only one capable of saving them all.

A truly wonderful series, Gideon the Cutpurse, The Tar Man and Time Quake have the same all-absorbing quality as many other classic young adult fantasies. Perfect for readers from 10 to 100.

There have been some slight delays on the release date of this book but Booktopia will do everything possible to deliver your copy as soon as it becomes available.

Click here to order this book:
Time Quake
RRP: $19.99 Booktopia Price: $15.99
FOR THE JEDI KNIGHTS AND TIME LORDS
FATE OF THE JEDI: ABYSS
Troy Denning

The third novel in the nine-part Fate of the Jedi series sees Luke and Ben Skywalker arrive in the mysterious part of space called The Maw in search of more clues as to what caused Jacen Solo's downfall into the dark side. But they are not the only ones exploring The Maw: a Sith Master and her apprentice arrive there too, having followed the delinquent ancient Sith ship found by Ben in The Legacy of the Force. They're thrilled to find Luke there and are determined to kill him. But there's another powerful being hiding in The Maw. It's enormously strong, purely evil, and it has its own plans for Luke Skywalker.

Click here to order this book:
Fate of the Jedi: Abyss
RRP: $55.00 Booktopia Price: $44.00


DOCTOR WHO: THE KRILLITANE STORM
Christopher Cooper

When the TARDIS materialises in medieval Worcester, the Doctor finds the city seemingly deserted. He soon discovers its population are living in a state of terror, afraid to leave their homes after dark, for fear of meeting their doom at the hands of the legendary Devil’s Huntsman.

For months, people have been disappearing, and the Sheriff has imposed a strict curfew across the city, his militia maintaining control over the superstitious populace with a firm hand, closing the city to outsiders. Is it fear of attack from beyond the city walls that drives him or the threat closer to home? Or does the Sheriff have something to hide?

After a terrifying encounter with a deadly Krillitane, the Doctor realises the city has good reason to be scared.

Click here to order this book:
The Krillitane Storm
RRP: $21.95 Booktopia Price: $17.50


DOCTOR WHO: AUTONOMY
Daniel Blythe

Hyperville is 2013's top hi-tech 24-hour entertainment complex a sprawling palace of fun under one massive roof. You can go shopping, or experience the excitement of Doomcastle, Winterland, or Wild West World. But things are about to get a lot more exciting and dangerous.

What unspeakable horror is lurking on Level Zero of Hyperville? And what will happen when the entire complex goes over to Central Computer Control?

For years, the Nestene Consciousness has been waiting and planning, recovering from its wounds. But now it’s ready, and its deadly plastic Autons are already in place around the complex. Now more than ever, visiting Hyperville will be an unforgettable experience.

Click here to order this book:
Autonomy
RRP: $21.95 Booktopia Price: $17.50


DOCTOR WHO: THE TAKING OF CHELSEA 426
David Llewelyn

The Chelsea Flower Show is hardly the most exciting or dangerous event in the calendar, or so the Doctor thinks. But this is Chelsea 426, a city-sized future colony floating on the clouds of Saturn, and the flowers are much more than they seem.

As the Doctor investigates, he becomes more and more worried. Why is shopkeeper Mr Pemberton acting so strangely? And what is Professor Wilberforce’s terrible secret?

They are close to finding the answers when a familiar foe arrives, and the stakes suddenly get much higher. The Sontarans have plans of their own, and they’re not here to arrange flowers.

Click here to order this book:
The Taking of Chelsea 426
RRP: $21.95 Booktopia Price: $17.50
IN CASE YOU MISSED THEM THE FIRST TIME ...
HUMAN RITES:
THE LAST ALBATROSS &
TERMINATOR GENE
 QUIDDITCH THROUGH THE AGES & FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
Ian Irvine

A Marine Biologist by training and a professional environmental consultant, Ian Irvine wrote the Australian -based eco-thriller trilogy between 2000 and 2004. Set in 2010, Human Rites paints a terrifying picture of a desperate world in the grip of catastrophic climate change.

Now, as 2010 is almost upon us, the series is being re-issued with stunning new jackets. And, while the world hasn't quite descended into environmental chaos as quickly as Ian predicted, the consequences he imagines still remain frighteningly plausible.

If you missed this series when they were first published 9 years ago, this is the perfect opportunity to catch up. The Last Albatross and Terminator Gene are available now with the new edition of Life Lottery set to be released in March 2010.

Click here to order these books:
The Last Albatross
RRP: $29.95 Booktopia Price: $23.95

Terminator Gene
RRP: $32.99 Booktopia Price: $26.50

  J.K. Rowling

Originally written for the charity Comic Relief, these two companions to the Harry Potter series have raised over £15.7M since their release in March 2001, with the money going to help alleviate child poverty around the world. The original editions were very simple booklet style publications however, so now eight years on and they have decided to re-publish them in a more impressive format.

These beautiful little  works are ostensibly facsmilie copies of books from Harry Potter's own personal library. They are referred to  in the The Philosopher's Stone as his favourite book on Quidditch and  his Care of Magical Creatures text book. Including an introduction from Albus Dumbledore and Harry's own scribbles in the margins, these are great fun for every young fan of the series (and all us older fans hungry for every magical detail about the wizarding world that we can get our hands on).

Click here to order these books:
Quidditch Through the Ages IN STOCK
RRP: $13.99 Booktopia Price: $11.19

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them
IN STOCK
RRP: $13.99 Booktopia Price: $11.19

   
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New Star Wars and Doctor Who

In Case you Missed them the First Time...

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Ranger's Apprentice Redux

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DON'T PANIC!
IT'S JUST A NEW LOOK FOR THE GALAXY'S FAVOURITE GUIDE BOOK
!

In the lead up to the release of the new Hitchhiker book by Eoin Colfer, the publishers have released the original Douglas Adams series with new matching jackets.

It's a little gimmicky, but the new covers come with a collection of stickers so that you can create your very own scene on the cover of your book. Personally I think I'll use my stickers to decorate my shrine to the great man himself, but each to their own.

So, if, like me, you plan to read the entire series again before the new book arrives on the 13th October, here's a great chance to pick them all up at a great price.

And don't forget to pre-order your copy of And Another Thing... to ensure you get your copy on time.

Click on the titles below to order:
THE HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
Douglas Adams
THE RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE
Douglas Adams
LIFE THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING
Douglas Adams
SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH
Douglas Adams
MOSTLY HARMLESS
Douglas Adams
AND ANOTHER THING ...
Eoin Colfer
UPCOMING TITLES FOR OCTOBER

October is shaping up to be a very exciting month. I have already mentioned above the October 12 release of And Another Thing... Terry Pratchett's new Discworld novel, Unseen Academicals will be available a few weeks before that, making October the comic fantasy highlight of the year.

From Australia we have three books that I want to draw particular attention to. The first is the debut novel by Sam Bowring, called Prophecy's Ruin. I have already had a chance to read this book and it totally blew me away. Completely original, dark psychological fantasy with great action and a brilliant premise. Make this one a priority!

The second is a new young adult fantasy series from Karen Brooks. Set in a Venice-like fantasy world, Tallow follows an apprentice candlemaker who's true identity has been hidden from birth. I am hearing wonderful things already about this beautiful looking book and always expect big things from Karen Brooks.

The third is the sequel to Simon Higgins medieval ninja fantasy Moonshadow. This book was totally underrated when it was released last year but has all the right elements for a great children's series. Book 2, The Wrath of Silver Wolf continues in fine, shinobi style.

And while we are on the topic of young adult fantasy, the sequel to last year's incredible science fiction thriller, The Hunger Games, is almost here. I read The Hunger Games in one sitting, between 11pm and 6:30am. I couldn't believe a sequel could ever come close, but I was wrong. Catching Fire is every bit as intense, as shocking and sleep depriving as the original.

Also to look forward to next month, The Dame, Book 2 of R.A. Salvatore's new series Saga of the First King, and Dust of Dreams the ninth Malazan novel from Steven Erikson.

Click on the titles below to pre-order these books.
UNSEEN ACADEMICALS
Terry Pratchett
PROPHECY'S RUIN
Sam Bowring
TALLOW
Karen Brooks
THE WRATH OF SILVER WOLF
Simon Higgins
CATCHING FIRE
Suzanne Collins
THE DAME
R.A. Salvatore
DUST OF DREAMS
Steven Erikson
RANGER'S APPRENTICE REDUX

RUINS OF GORLAN ONLY $4.00


With the 9th book, Halt's Peril, due in November the entire Ranger's Apprentice Series has been given an overhaul. For fans of the old jackets the reason for the change is pretty simple - they ran out of photos to use on the covers.

When The Ruins of Gorlan was first published no-one, least of all it's author, could have anticipated how popular the series would prove to be. What was initially planned as a three book series has grown to three times that length with at least another one planned to come. The jackets of the first eight books were all designed using images taken from one photo shoot way back in 2004.

Now that all the original pictures have been used up a new strategy was needed for the 9th, 10th and perhaps later books. It was decided to relaunch the entire backlist in the new style as well.

And, to celebrate the book that started it all, The Ruins of Gorlan is available for only $4.00! If you haven't already tried this wonderful cross over young adult series, now is the perfect time to catch up.

Click on the titles below to order your copies:
THE RUINS OF GORLAN
John Flanagan
IN STOCK
THE BURNING BRIDGE
John Flanagan
IN STOCK
THE ICEBOUND LAND
John Flanagan
IN STOCK
THE OAKLEAF BEARERS
John Flanagan
IN STOCK
THE SORCERER IN THE NORTH
John Flanagan
IN STOCK
THE SIEGE OF MACINDAW
John Flanagan
IN STOCK
ERAK'S RANSOM
John Flanagan
IN STOCK
THE KINGS OF CLONMEL
John Flanagan
IN STOCK
HALT'S PERIL
John Flanagan
DUE NOVEMBER
RANGER'S APPRENTICE BIND-UPS
John Flanagan
IN STOCK