Sunday, 29 May 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 29/05/11

Met the old BoSS? Well, let me introduce you to the new BoSS - same as the old BoSS, more or less... except less is more. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

All caught up? Good. Let's get on with it, then.

No nonsense this week, even, since I'm so woefully behind on accounting for all the books that have come and gone since the last time the BoSS reared its butt-ugly head. So. On with the show!


The Book of Transformations
by Mark Charan Newton

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 03/06/11
by Tor

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: A new and corrupt Emperor seeks to rebuild the ancient structures of Villjamur to give the people of the city hope in the face of great upheaval and an oppressing ice age. But when a stranger called Shalev arrives, empowering a militant underground movement, crime and terror becomes rampant. The Inquisition is always one step behind, and military resources are spread thinly across the Empire. So Emperor Urtica calls upon cultists to help construct a group to eliminate those involved with the uprising, and calm the populace.

But there’s more to The Villjamur Knights than just phenomenal skills and abilities - each have a secret that, if exposed, could destroy everything they represent. Investigator Fulcrom of the Villjamur Inquisition is given the unenviable task of managing the Knights’, but his own skills are tested when a mysterious priest, who has travelled from beyond the fringes of the Empire, seeks his help. The priest’s existence threatens the church, and his quest promises to unweave the fabric of the world.

And in a distant corner of the Empire, the enigmatic cultist Dartun Súr steps back into this world, having witnessed horrors beyond his imagination. Broken, altered, he and the remnants of his cultist order are heading back to Villjamur. And all eyes turn to the Sanctuary City, for Villjamur’s ancient legends are about to be shattered . . .

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Oh, yes. Yes indeed; it's all coming back to me now...

I'll admit I didn't adore Nights of Villjamur so much as most folks seemed to, though City of Ruin - a more polished novel than its predecessor by all accounts - really did tickle my ivories, so it was with no small amount of grinning that I met the arrival of book three of The Legends of the Red Sun.

Now most of the talk about The Book of Transformations to date has hinged on its foregrounding of a transgendered character; an interesting and progressive choice for a protagonist, make no mistake... but I wonder if the attention paid to Lan hasn't given short shrift to all else about this third volume of The Legends of the Red Sun.

I suppose we'll see soon enough! Expect a full review of The Book of Transformations from The Speculative Scotsman early next week, or sooner still.

Shadow Chaser
by Alexey Pehov

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 12/04/11
by Tor

Review Priority
2 (It Could Happen)

The Blurb: Saddened because they have left one of their number in a grave in the wilderness, Harold and his companions continue their journey to the dreaded underground palace of Hrad Spein. There, knowing that armies of warriors and wizards before them have failed, they must fight legions of untold, mysterious powers before they can complete their quest for the magic horn that will save their beloved land from The Nameless One. But before they can even reach their goal, they must overcome all manner of obstacles, fight many battles... and evade the frightful enemies on their trail.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: No. Just... no.

I mean, I suppose it could happen - there's always the chance, but probably not. I really did not enjoy the first volume of this plodding Russian fantasy series. Here's why. In fact, I'll admit to some surprise that book one was enough of a success to justify the translation and publication of this second chapter of The Chronicles of Siala.

But I don't really care, so.

The Five
by Robert McCammon

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 31/05/11
by Subterranean Press

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: The Five tells the story of an eponymous rock band struggling to survive on the margins of the music business. As they move through the American Southwest on what might be their final tour together, the band members come to the attention of a damaged Iraq war veteran, and their lives are changed forever.

The narrative that follows is a riveting account of violence, terror, and pursuit set against a credible, immensely detailed rock and roll backdrop. It is also a moving meditation on loyalty and friendship, on the nature and importance of families those we are born into and those we create for ourselves and on the redemptive power of the creative spirit. Written with wit, elegance, and passionate conviction, The Five lays claim to new imaginative territory, and reaffirms McCammon's position as one of the finest, most unpredictable storytellers of our time

A Scotsman's Thoughts: I've talked about The Five hereabouts already.

Despite owning Swan Song, The Five is actually is my first Robert McCammon, and what I've read of it, I've enjoyed a great deal. However, I'd like to take my time with it, the better to appreciate it as I sense it should be appreciated, and as this edition of The BoSS will testify, a bunch of books have arrived of late that I get the feeling you'd all like to hear about sooner rather than later.

So I've put The Five down - but only for the moment. I'll be picking it up again the very second I've cleared the decks.

by Kaaron Warren

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 02/06/11
by Angry Robot

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: Marvo is a stage magician. His magic is real. Marvo grows up without knowing his parents, without knowing his heritage, without knowing much about life. The magicians have always been with us, since the beginning of civilisation. They fill our heads with the mist, keeping us from witnessing the stark reality of existence. But are things so bad that Marvo will bring it down on all of us, forever? Marvo begins to understand those around him, and his place in the world; he discovers that his remarkable powers can be put to good, or to evil. He only has to choose.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Hey, I've been blurbed again! Well, isn't that nice?

I'll answer my own question: it most certainly is. And twice as nice because Walking the Tree really was a tremendous novel, from an author as generous as she is, undeniably, talented. I dare say I've been looking forward to Mistification for a year or more. And not for nothing: from a gloss of just the first chapter, Kaaron Warren's approach to magic and fantasy is already putting me in mind of K. J. Parker - another of my very favourite authors.

Methinks I'll be reading and reviewing Mistification just as soon as I've put The Book of Transformations to bed, so.

The Order of the Scales
by Stephen Deas

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 19/05/11
by Gollancz

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: As the various factions fight for control of the Adamatine Palace, mankind's nemesis approaches. The realm's dragons are awakening from their alchemical sedation and returning to their native fury. They can remember why they were created and they now know what mankind has done to them. And their revenge will be brutal. As hundreds of dragons threaten a fiery apocalypse, only the Adamantine Guard stand between humanity and extinction. Can Prince Jehal fight off the people who want him dead and unite their armies in one final battle for survival? 

A Scotsman's Thoughts: The third volume of a trilogy I'm ashamed to say I've read none of, yet here The Order of the Scales is - in this week's round-up despite some serious cherry-picking.

That's because I've every intention of reading Stephen Deas; not if I can find the time to start this series from the start, but when. For the one thing, Wert really quite likes his work, and it seems to me - from what little of his fiction I've encountered - that Stephen Deas is a woefully under-appreciated fantasy author.

So. Better late than never, no?


Oh, so many books I've been looking forward to! And so little time...

The idea is to start in on The Book of Transformations tonight, graduate on to Mistification when I'm through with that, and then return triumphant to The Five.

I should be so lucky...

So what're you all reading at the moment? Come across any gems lately, or are you as caught up in this glorious glut of genre fiction as I?

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