The quest of stepping into Waterstone’s, kitted out with my travel-sack (okay, it’s just a backpack) ready to peruse the shelves and return home weighed down with books is a noble one. Sadly, given the small stature of my local SFF section, this is as grand an adventure as pottering to the garden to pick potatoes might be. In the end, the only way to feed my fantasy fix is to rely on the magical posties that Amazon send out on silver ponies with ribbons streaming in their wake.
It’s not ideal, but there is a certain magic about having the very books you covet slipped wordlessly through a thin slit in your front door. It feels very secret, very special, really.
Here’s a brief list of my most anticipated pre-orders of 2011; the latter part of the year is a little thin, but I’m sure it’ll fill up given time.
Release date: 21st April 2011
The dragons are gone, the powerful magics that broke the world diluted to little more than parlour tricks, but the kingdoms of men remain and the great game of thrones goes on. Lords deploy armies and merchant caravans as their weapons, manoeuvring for wealth and influence. But a darker power is rising – an unlikely leader with an ancient ally threatens to unleash again the madness that destroyed the world once already. Only one man knows the truth and, from the shadows, must champion humanity. The world’s fate stands on the edge of a Dagger, its future on the toss of a Coin.
The Order of the Scales (Memory of Flames #3), by Stephen Deas
Release date: 19th May 2011
Synopsis: As the various factions fight for control of the Adamantine Palace mankinds nemesis approaches. The realms 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? Noted for its blistering pace, awesome dragons and devious politicking Stephen Deas’s landmark fantasy trilogy moves to a terrifying epic conclusion in The Order of the Scales.
Release date: 3rd June 2011
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.
Release date: 21st July 2011
Danger lurks in the unforgiving Northlands, and a sinister magic lurks in the shadows waiting for it’s moment to strike. It’s the worst place to be searching for something, even for an assassin with no loyalties and even fewer scruples . . . In Othir, he was at the top of the food chain. An assassin beyond compare. A dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne. And now his past has come calling again. Searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents in the bitterly cold Northlands of his birth, Caim finds himself in a land in thrall to the Shadow. A wielder of the darkest kinds of blood magic imaginable holds his homeland in their iron fist, crushing all opposition beneath their tyrannous boot. Haunted by temptations from the Other Side, by turns in control of his magic and at the mercy of the Shadow, Caim becomes mired in a war he does not want to fight. But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some battles from which he can’t run. If Caim is going to survive – and if he’s to uncover the truth about his own magic and his parent’s death – then he is going to have to fight. But will his strength and skill be enough? Can anyone resist the Shadow’s Lure?
Release date: 4th August 2011
Publisher: Harper Voyager
SPELLBOUND is the second book in acclaimed debut author Blake Charlton’s exciting and original trilogy, following on from SPELLWRIGHT.
Nicodemus Weal is a cacographer, unable to reproduce even simple magical texts without ‘misspelling’ – a mistake which can have deadly consequences. Exiled from the wizard academy Starhaven and on the run from the powerful wizards who believe he is the Storm Petrel – the anti-Halcyon who will bring about the end of magical language – Nicodemus is faced with overwhelming obstacles to prove his cacography can be used for good and not evil.
Meanwhile, a demon is on the loose with one aim: to bring to life a true dragon and wreak havoc on the world. Only if Nicodemus can learn to come to terms with his disability and master Language Prime can he hope to stop the impeding War of Disjunction and save the world from the demon Typhon.
Prince of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence
Release date: 4th August 2011
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Prince of Thorns is the first volume in a powerful new epic fantasy trilogy, original, absorbing and challenging.
Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother’s tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that’s true enough, but there’s something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.
From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father’s castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.
Mark Lawrence’s debut novel tells a tale of blood and treachery, magic and brotherhood and paints a compelling and brutal, and sometimes beautiful, picture of an exceptional boy on his journey toward manhood and the throne.
Release date: 1st September 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
The Calahrian Empire is collapsing. All across the realm native populations are rising up to throw off the shackles of colonial rule. Two key factors drive this — the return of the Stars of Power and Knowledge and the spread of the Shadow Monarch’s forest. The result is that the Calahrian Imperial Army is stretched thin trying to maintain order at the critical moment when it is needed to fend off the advances of the elf-witch. For the Iron Elves regiment, their loyalty is tested to the breaking point. The Prince is devastated by the destruction of the Lost Library and the realization that the Empire he is to inherit is crumbling. Major Konowa Swift Dragon is determined to lead the living survivors of the regiment while Private Alwyn Renwar — an emissary with his own agenda — commands the dead. Together, their only hope is to break the oath that binds them, but doing so means making the perilous journey to the Shadow Monarch’s mountain in a final confrontation that may be the ultimate trap. There is only one way to find out.
The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms #3), by Cinda Williams Chima
Release date: 20th September 2011
Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.
Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.
The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.