Sunday, 20 February 2011

Books Received | The BoSS for 20/02/11

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.

What a lucky sort I am, because come Monday I'm heading off on holiday: back up to a certain cottage on the lovely isle of Skye where I full well expect howling wind, torrential rain, and so forth a great whack of time I mean to spend buried in books. Handy, then, that this week's been such a strong one in terms of potential reading material...


The Crippled God
by Steven Erikson

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 21/02/11
by Bantam Press

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: Savaged by the K'Chain Nah'Ruk, the Bonehunters march for Kolanse, where waits an unknown fate. Tormented by questions, the army totters on the edge of mutiny, but Adjunct Tavore will not relent. One final act remains, if it is in her power, if she can hold her army together, if the shaky allegiances she has forged can survive all that is to come. A woman with no gifts of magic, deemed plain, unprepossessing, displaying nothing to instill loyalty or confidence, Tavore Paran of House Paran means to challenge the gods -- if her own troops don't kill her first.

Awaiting Tavore and her allies are the Forkrul Assail, the final arbiters of humanity. Drawing upon an alien power terrible in its magnitude, they seek to cleanse the world, to annihilate every human, every civilization, in order to begin anew. They welcome the coming conflagration of slaughter, for it shall be of their own devising, and it pleases them to know that, in the midst of the enemies gathering against them, there shall be betrayal. In the realm of Kurald Galain, home to the long lost city of Kharkanas, a mass of refugees stand upon the First Shore. Commanded by Yedan Derryg, the Watch, they await the breaching of Lightfall, and the coming of the Tiste Liosan. This is a war they cannot win, and they will die in the name of an empty city and a queen with no subjects.

Elsewhere, the three Elder Gods, Kilmandaros, Errastas and Sechul Lath, work to shatter the chains binding Korabas, the Otataral Dragon, and release her from her eternal prison. Once freed, she will be a force of utter devastation, and against her no mortal can stand. At the Gates of Starvald Demelain, the Azath House sealing the portal is dying. Soon will come the Eleint, and once more, there will be dragons in the world.

And so, in a far away land and beneath indifferent skies, the final cataclysmic chapter in the extraordinary Malazan Book of the Fallen begins.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Pretty much a year ago to the day, I started in on the first volume of The Malazan Book of the Fallen with an eye to getting a jolly ol' readalong going. Alas, I was beaten to the punch, and perhaps it was as well, for the few hundred pages of Gardens of the Moon I read while in Skye last time spoke of a commitment I probably wasn't ready to make.

But I'm all growed up now, and I'll be taking a suitcase-full of Steven Erikson on holiday with me this week. Granted, I've got rather a lot of catching up to do before I get to The Crippled God, the tenth and (sort of) final volume of The Malazan Book of the Fallen - this isn't a wager I expect to win quickly, but win it I will... one day.

I'm tremendously excited at the prospect, too. Having a completed series of such esteem in hand from first to last tends to do that to me.

The Cypress House
by Michael Koryta

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 17/03/11
by Hodder & Stoughton

Review Priority
5 (A Sure Thing)

The Blurb: Arlen Wagner has seen it in men before - a trace of smoke in their eyes that promises imminent death. He is never wrong.

When Arlen and his young companion Paul Brickhill are stranded at the Cypress House with a hurricane approaching, Paul won’t abandon the boarding house’s enigmatic mistress Rebecca to face the storm alone.

But Arlen’s gift warns him that if they stay too long, they may never leave.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Sure, it was a bit silly, but I really rather enjoyed So Cold the River - quite simply the best haunted mineral water novel in existence - so I'm good and psyched to get an early start on the second of one-time PI Michael Kortya's award-winners to brave the crossing between publishers on either side of the Atlantic. And from the sounds of it, The Cypress House should make for perfect holiday reading.

As a matter of fact, it's keeping Steven Erikson company in my bag as we speak!

Trouble and Her Friends
by Melissa Scott

Vital Statistics
Published in the US
on 01/02/11
by Orb Books

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: India Carless, alias Trouble, managed to stay one step ahead of the feds until she retired from life as a hacker and settled down to run a small network for an artist’s co-op.

Now someone has stolen her pseudonym and begun to use it for criminal hacking. So Trouble returns. Once the fastest gun on the electronic frontier, she has been called out of retirement for one last fight. And it’s a killer.

Less than a hundred years from now, the forces of law and order crack down on the world of the internet. It is the closing of the frontier. The hip, noir adventurers who got by on wit, bravado, and drugs, who haunt the virtual worlds of the shadows of cyberspace are up against the edges of civilization. It’s time to adapt or die.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Originally released in 1994, this reissue of Trouble and Her Friends is either an unsung cyberpunk classic... or feminist science fiction "very consciously written to flout the conventions of traditional cyberpunk" - that is according to one for-all-intents-and-purposes astute Amazon reviewer. For myself, going by the blurb and the first few pages, I can't quite decide.

Trouble and Her Friends isn't so immediately appealing that it'll be coming to the Highlands and Islands of bonnie Scotland with me, but I'll say it's certainly piqued my interest enough that I plan to give it the old one-over upon my return.

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing
by Jasper Fforde

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 22/02/11
by Hodder & Stoughton

Review Priority
4 (Pretty Bloody Likely)

The Blurb: It is a time of unrest in the BookWorld. Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the peace talks, Thursday vanishes. Has she simply returned home to the RealWorld or is this something more sinister?

All is not yet lost. Living at the quiet end of speculative fiction is the written Thursday Next, eager to prove herself worth of her illustrious namesake.

The written Thursday is soon hot on the trail of her factual alter-ego, and quickly stumbles upon a plot so fiendish that it threatens the very BookWorld itself.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: I'm getting around to thinking such baffling plot synopses as above must be par for the course when it comes to Jasper Fforde, because the blurb borne upon the back of Shades of Grey had quite the same effect on my tiny mind when a copy of said came through the door late last year.

I hate to say I haven't gotten around to that one just yet - I had totally meant to, too - but the latest from Jasper Fforde, One of Our Thursdays Is Missing, sounds every bit as superb and whimsical as Shades of Grey. Time permitting I'll surely be reading it at some point in the next few weeks: it's good and packed alongside The Cypress House and my aforementioned Malazan fun - though I expect I'll dig into those before this.

The Shape of Things to Come
by H. G. Wells

Vital Statistics
Published in the UK
on 17/02/11
by Gollancz

Review Priority
3 (We'll See)

The Blurb: When a diplomat dies in the 1930s, he leaves behind a book of 'dream visions' he has been experiencing, detailing events that will occur on Earth for the next two hundred years. This fictional 'account of the future' (similar to Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon) proved prescient in many ways, as Wells predicts events such as the Second World War, the rise of chemical warfare and climate change.

A Scotsman's Thoughts: Last but not least for this edition of The BoSS - well, not really - another gorgeous clothbound book to sit alongside the veritable library of time-honoured genre literature Gollancz have been thoughtfully reissuing while we've all been staring off into the horizon, at Peter Orullian and Patrick Rothfuss and such.

I'm afraid I'm rather taken with a few of tomorrow's novels myself, at this very moment in time, but kicking back with one of H. G. Wells's lattermost classics when I can find a few hours sounds like a very fine plan indeed.


That's it for this week. But never fear: the nearly-new and probably only moderately improved BoSS will be back at the same bat-time next week, in the same bat-place. See you then!

Except no, I won't... because I'll be on holiday, remember? Thus the BoSS will be taking a wee break too, for me to finally catch up on a few of the lovely-jubbly books I've been talking about BUT NOT READING this last little while.

On the docket, then, there's Jasper Fforde, Michael Kortya, The Unremembered, The Long Song, Halo: Cryptum and a generous second helping of Steven Erikson - which here's hoping goes down a touch easier than the first. What a busy little Scotsman I'm going to be.

Wish me happy holidays! :)


  1. The Jasper Fforde book is 6th in his Thursday Next series--have you read the others? The way Fforde wrote them, Books 1-4 kinda cover a story arc, and Books 5-8 will as well, so if you're going to read "One of Our Thursdays is Missing" you may want to read at least "First Among Sequels" (book 5) if not the first four as well.

  2. I'm drooling about the Crippled God and debating the pros and cons of flying to Scotsman, breaking into your house, and trying to steal the copy while you're away. I think I'll just wait for the first and then check my mailbox three times a day until it comes, but it was a close thing.

  3. David ---

    Ah, no, I hadn't realised till my other half picked up Shades of Grey the other day - she's loving it so far - and upon a closer inspection I spotted an ad in the back for another of the Thursday books. Much to my dismay, needless to say. :(

    Even then I hadn't realised how very many of them there were. Worth a quick trip to Amazon, do you think - the first book in the series, I mean? I really rather despise starting stories anywhere other than the start, so...

  4. Ouch. Just realized I wrote "Scotsman" instead of "Scotland" for my comment. So how does it feel to be mistaken for a rather sizable area of the map, Niall?

  5. The Evil Hat ---

    Actually, your Evilness, you mightn't have to. I have a second copy of The Crippled God - one from Transworld and a proof from Tor in the US - and I'll be running a thing next week, to keep everyone entertained while I'm away, with that very thing as the grand prize... the first of many such excuses for me to give good books a good home, I hope.

    All the gory details to follow, tomorrow and on Tuesday.

    Also I don't know that any of the airways fly direct to Scotsman. Would that they did - that'd be right convenient for me! ;)

  6. Oh and I was mere moments from poking fun, too! And you go and beat me to the punch...

    In comedy, they say timing is everything. This is why I'm a blogger, where the only thing I stand to get from being timely is made fun of, or told off, because apparently covering recent releases is... not helpful to anyone? I don't know. I only skim read Larry's posts these days.

    Booya? :)

  7. Have a great holiday Niall. Glad to hear you're finally giving Malazan a proper go. Remember most people say Gardens... is the hardest one to get into but if you get through it and then onto Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice, two of the most highly acclaimed in the series I daresay you won't regret it. Enjoy ;-)