Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Three More Books for 2011: Mann, Anderson, Ballantine/Morris (by Liviu Suciu)

Since for 2011 we have not done an extensive list of anticipated books as in the other years - though we have both the Upcoming Releases Page which tries to be comprehensive and the usual Monthly Spotlights which are closer to what we review here but still somewhat generic - I like to present some of the interesting upcoming releases that I had a chance to look into and even read sometimes, but for which full reviews are still some time off, these being books about which I can comment pertinently.

I also try and update these posts once I finish a book listed here and before I post a full review which supersedes the early and sometimes "rough" impressions, since I think continual feedback is useful and I see way too many posts: "oh, look at this exciting book that is coming soon" only not to be followed up with a review or even early impressions based on actually trying/reading the book.


First on the list it is the The Immorality Engine from George Mann, the third Newburry/Hobbes adventure, following the Affinity Bridge (FBC Review) and The Osiris Ritual (FBC review). Since the US cover (Tor edition tbp in September) is just awesome and the author confirmed it to be final, I have to post it here in addition to the usual outstanding cover from the UK publishers (Snowbooks edition tbp June).

This was a huge expectation novel that was initially announced for 2010 and I kept pestering the author for a review copy since last fall until I finally got one a week or so ago and I read it basically the next day. I will have a full review in due course but for now a little commentary to whet your appetite and maybe you will try the first two books of this excellent and super fun series that combine the best of Sherlockian deduction, Bond-like adventure, steampunk late Victoriana with a little magic and necromancy too.

"The third Newbury and Hobbes adventure starts dramatically with a funeral of a favorite character and then goes back a week or so to its real start several months after the end of The Osiris Ritual to recount the events that led to said funeral.

The Immorality Engine has the same structure as the first two books - seemingly unrelated mysteries, this time the murder of a high-class jewel thief and an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria - which bring Maurice Newbury out from his opium descent after the events and especially the denouement of The Osiris Ritual which made him question everything about his life, job...

His stout friend Inspector Bainbridge and Newbury's assistant Veronica Hobbes - who intuits that she is at least partly the reason for his descent into full addiction, though unlike us, she does not know exactly why, but things are trickier as we learn during the novel - try desperately to "bring him back" and finally the case of the jewel-thief and later the deeper mysteries involved do so.

The usual combination of great character interaction, inventiveness and several villains that top all such to date plus a lot of moral ambiguities make The Immorality Engine a great culmination of the series to date ending its first arc on a superb note. I am really eager to see where the author takes the series next since the 6 - or even more - books planned seem to be on, though again I want to emphasize that each book tells a complete tale, while these three form a full thematic arc in the larger picture of the series.


In July, Orbit will publish, The Key to Creation which is the final chapter in the Terra Incognita trilogy of Kevin J. Anderson. The series started strong in The Edge of the World (FBC Review) and continued even stronger in The Map of all Things (FBC review), so this volume is another huge expectation one for me and another one I've been trying to get a review copy for a while now, until finally a copy is on its way.

**********************************(cover may change)

A great cast of characters that you get to care about, superb world building and a lot of twists and turns made this series a favorite, though in true KJA fashion, nobody is safe and any character can die or be utterly changed at any moment. Who is going to survive, who is going to thrive, what will be the final resolution of the seemingly to-the-death conflict between the two people and two religions of the series, what role magic and the disappeared gods will play are some of the questions I expect will be answered here and as mentioned the expectations are really high...


Finally a debut that I have just found out about and asked for a review copy since I liked the sample chapters, while the blurb is tempting and the cover is just irresistible. This is Phoenix Rising - A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel - by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, a novel that will be published soon by Harper Collins and which I expect to review here in a couple of weeks.

Here is the blurb, while on the authors' website you can find more including a cool trailer HERE.

These are dark days indeed in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling—will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and exceedingly lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest . . . and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, along with her into the perilous fray.
For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun—he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices—must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot . . . or see England fall to the Phoenix!