Sunday, 14 August 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 14/08/11

In The BoSS this week: the dead in Edinburgh... a king-killer chronicle of a whole other order... a twist of teenage angst and a dash of swords and sorcery... and for those who've gone before, a return to the final empire!

It'll be my first visit, of course. Funny that.

But let us begin. 


The Alloy of Law
by Brandon Sanderson

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 08/11/11
by Tor

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Fresh from the success of The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson, best known for completing Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, takes a break to return to the world of the best-selling Mistborn series

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice. 

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn, who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will.  After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

My Thoughts: It's been established already that I'd sooner eat my own knees than read any more of The Wheel of Time, whoever stands at the helm, so let's focus instead on the Brandon Sanderson I have enjoyed... to a point. That would be, in sum I'm afraid to say, The Way of Kings. Though I've had copies of all three Mistborn books in my library ever since Gollancz released them - with those lovely, ethereal covers - I've never yet had the chance to get more than a few chapters into The Final Empire.

But with The Alloy of Law being the only Brandon Sanderson release I'm in the least interested in till the next volume of The Stormlight Archives arrives, I'm thinking this might just be my moment. And with this short Mistborn novel not due out till November, well... this once, it seems like time might be on my side after all.

The Edinburgh Dead
by Brian Ruckley

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 04/08/11
by Orbit

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: Edinburgh, 1827. 

In the starkly-lit operating theatres of the city, grisly experiments are being carried out on corpses in the name of medical science. But elsewhere, there are those experimenting with more sinister forces. Amongst the crowded, sprawling tenements of the labyrinthine Old Town, a body is found, its neck torn to pieces. Charged with investigating the murder is Adam Quire, Officer of the Edinburgh Police. The trail will lead him into the deepest reaches of the city's criminal underclass, and to the highest echelons of the filthy rich. Soon Quire will discover that a darkness is crawling through this city of enlightenment... and no-one is safe from its corruption.

My Thoughts: So zombies? Vampires? Or some other ill-meaning creature of the night? I don't rightly know, truth be told; nor am I at all sure if I've read Brian Ruckley before. Nevertheless, it behooves me - but of course it does! - to support the home team whenever I'm able, and time permitting, I very much mean to be able as regards The Edinburgh Dead.

by Nicholas Royle

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 01/09/11
by Solaris

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: Carl meets Annie Risk and falls for her. Hurt by a recent relationship, she resists becoming involved. A chance find offers distraction: Carl stumbles across part of a map to an unknown town. He becomes convinced it represents the city of his dreams, where ice skaters turn quintuple loops and trumpeters hit impossibly high notes... where Annie Risk will agree to see him again. But if he ever finds himself in the streets on his map, will they turn out to be the land of his dreams or the world of his worst nightmares?

My Thoughts: Coming in just shy of 200 pages long, Regicide is sort of a lost novel from the two-time British Fantasy Award-winner, as I understand it; written 20 years ago but unpublished till now, for whatever reason.

Actually I could make an educated guess as to one or two such reasons already, since I've started Regicide already - truly, I do appreciate a nice short novel after slogging through one behemothic epic fantasy or space opera or another, and this is certainly that - but we'll save that for the full review, shall we?

by Lauren DeStefano

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 04/08/11
by Voyager

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: Sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery has only four years left to live when she is kidnapped by the Gatherers and forced into a polygamous marriage. Now she has one purpose: to escape, find her twin brother, and go home – before her time runs out forever.

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb – males only live to age twenty-five and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape – to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant she trusts, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

My Thoughts: So what happened with this was... well, it's simple, really. The marketing materials name-checked The Handmaid's Tale rather than The Hunger Games, which seems to be the go-to dystopia these days. That little thing - it's always the little things, isn't it? - appealed immeasurably to me, because to be perfectly frank I'm sick and tired of new novels shooting for that particular throne.

And here we are!

Now I don't often comment on presentation, but bear with me here, for Wither is an absolutely beautifully designed book. We'll see soon enough, I shouldn't wonder, whether there's anything more to it than that...

Conan the Barbarian
by Robert E. Howard

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 21/07/11
by Gollancz

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer Discover how it all began...

Conan the Barbarian spawned a hundred imitators. Find out why with these tales from his early life. From "The Tower of the Elephant" to "Beyond the Black River," follow Robert E. Howard's greatest creation as he cuts a bloody swathe through the history of Hyborea.

Over 350 pages of epic action, personally selected by the makers of the new film and the greatest Robert E. Howard scholars.

My Thoughts: Speaking of things I don't usually do, here's a movie tie-in, thrown out to cash in on the new movie, starring none other than the late and oft-lamented Khal Drogo!

But hey. That's cool. I'd probably do the very thing in Gollancz's position, and as a matter of fact - as discussed in previous instalments of The BoSS, at that - I've looking for a decent place to start reading Robert E. Howard proper for ages, and this could very well be it... 

...unless it's not. Anyone?


Now then. I'm going to polish off the rest of Nicholas Royle's rather more manageable kingkiller chronicle, and then, I think, it'll be off to Scadrial with me!

Or Cimmeria, perhaps?

For the very moment, though, goodbye The BoSS!



  1. Brandon Sanderson is just not for me, I think. I slogged my way through the first hundred pages of WARBREAKER and, having found nothing at all that interested or impressed me, handed it off to a friend who enjoyed some of his other work.

    Similar can be said of Ruckley's debut, but what really forced me to put it down was the monotone delivery. According to the me of three years ago, it as if the story was narrated by a "droopy eyed man, with a bit of a stuffed nose, and an unchanging dead-pan delivery". Of course, this new book of his is entirely different genre...

  2. I have yet to read the Mistborn stuff, though I have copies of the first three books on my shelves. On one had, I hear many people praise Sanderson and say those books are awesome. On the other hand, somebody whose opinions I trust pretty well read them recently and said that on the whole, the books were rather lackluster and kind of annoying in places, which made me a little less eager to read them. Going to have to at some point, though.

    I do hear really good things about Wither, though. That's one I've been looking forward to reading for a while!

  3. Not to sit the fence, but I kind of agree with you both about the Brandon Sanderson... and everyone else besides. Way to pick a side, right? :)

    Insofar as he does, Brandon Sanderson appeals to me as a fantasy author in a similar sort of way as Stephen King does as in terms of his horror fiction. They both seem to write a great deal, and refine really very little... but if you can pick a path through all the chaff and padding, there's usually an appealing, if somewhat simplistic narrative to be discerned, and more honest characters than you tend to find anywhere else, specifically because they're so unpolished, as people often are.

    And particularly after a bit of serious reading, that all rather appeals to me!