Science fiction and fantasy are the best genres (in my humble opinion) when it comes to pure originality. Every year there is a list of new titles that I can't wait to get my hands on. Here's what has caught my attention so far.
The Hammer by K.J. Parker (Orbit Books; Jan 5th)
Gignomai is the youngest brother in the current generation of met'Oc, a once-noble family exiled on an island for their role in a vaguely remembered civil war. On this island, a colony was founded seventy years ago. The plan was originally for the colonists to mine silver, but there turned out not to be any. Now, an uneasy peace exists on the island, between the colonists and the met'Oc. The met'Oc are tolerated, in spite of occasional cattle stealing raids, since they alone possess the weapons considered necessary protection against the island's savages. Gignomai is about to discover exactly what it is expected of him, and what it means to defy his family. He is the hammer who will provide the spark that will ignite a brutal and bloody war.
Farlander by Col Buchanan (Tor; January 18th)
The Heart of the World is a land in strife. For fifty years the Holy Empire of Mann, an empire and religion born from a nihilistic urban cult, has been conquering nation after nation. Their leader, Holy Matriarch Sasheen, ruthlessly maintains control through her Diplomats, priests trained as subtle predators. Ash is a member of an elite group of assassins, the Roshun, who offer protection through the threat of vendetta. Forced by his ailing health to take on an apprentice, he chooses Nico, a young man living in the besieged city of Bar-Khos. At the time, Nico is hungry, desperate, and alone in a city that finds itself teetering on the brink.
When the Holy Matriarch’s son deliberately murders a woman under the protection of the Roshun; he forces the sect to seek his life in retribution. As Ash and his young apprentice set out to fulfill the Roshun orders, their journey takes them into the heart of the conflict between the Empire and the Free Ports…into bloodshed and death.
The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie (Orbit Books; Feb 7th)
This blood-drenched, thought-provoking dissection of a three-day battle is set in the same world as Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy (The Blade Itself, etc.), but stands very well alone. Union commander Lord Marshal Kroy coordinates the fight with the aid of a motley group of incompetent, self-important officers. The strangely sympathetic Col. Bremer dan Gorst is officially a royal observer who nurses a burning desire to kill or be killed. Leading a much smaller army against the Union is Black Dow, whose grip on the throne of the Northmen is tenuous and based on fear and brutality. Calder, a slippery and cunning egotist, advocates peace while plotting to take Black Dow's place. Abercrombie never glosses over a moment of the madness, passion, and horror of war, nor the tribulations that turn ordinary people into the titular heroes.
The Fallen Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood (Orbit Books; Jan 27th)
Venice is at the height of its power. In theory Duke Marco commands. But Marco is a simpleton, so his aunt and uncle rule in his stead. Within the Serene Republic, their word is law, but for all their influence, Venice’s fate still lies in other hands . . .
Lady Giulietta is the Duke’s cousin. She enjoys greater privilege than many can even dream of, but her status will demand a terrible price. Atilo Il Mauros is head of the Assassini, the shadow army that enforces Venice’s will-both at home and abroad. Prince Leopold is the bastard son of the German emperor and leader of the krieghund-the only force in Venice more feared than Atilo’s assassins. And then there is Atilo’s angel-faced apprentice. Only a boy, Tycho is already stronger and faster than any man has a right to be. He can see in the dark, but sunlight burns him. It is said that he drinks blood.
Bloodshot by Cherie Priest (Spectra; January 25th)
VAMPIRE FOR HIRE
Raylene Pendle (AKA Cheshire Red), a vampire and world-renowned thief, doesn’t usually hang with her own kind. She’s too busy stealing priceless art and rare jewels. But when the infuriatingly charming Ian Stott asks for help, Raylene finds him impossible to resist—even though Ian doesn’t want precious artifacts. He wants her to retrieve missing government files—documents that deal with the secret biological experiments that left Ian blind. What Raylene doesn’t bargain for is a case that takes her from the wilds of Minneapolis to the mean streets of Atlanta. And with a psychotic, power-hungry scientist on her trail, a kick-ass drag queen on her side, and Men in Black popping up at the most inconvenient moments, the case proves to be one hell of a ride.
Blackveil by Kristen Britain (DAW; Feb 1st)
The long-awaited sequel to Green Rider, First Rider's Call, and The High King's Tomb.
Once a simple student, Karigan G'ladheon finds herself in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand when she becomes a legendary Green Rider-one of the magical messengers of the king. Forced by magic to accept a dangerous fate she would never have chosen, headstrong Karigan has become completely devoted to the king and her fellow Riders.
But now, an insurrection led by dark magicians threatens to break the boundaries of ancient, evil Blackveil Forest-releasing powerful dark magics that have been shut away for a millennium.
Blackout by Rob Thurman (Roc; March 1st)
When half-human Cal Leandros wakes up on a beach littered with the slaughtered remains if a variety of hideous creatures, he's not that concerned. In fact, he can't remember anything-including who he is.
And that's just the way his deadly enemies like it...
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (DAW; March 1st)
My name is Kvothe.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.
So begins the tale of a hero told from his own point of view — a story unequaled in fantasy literature. Now in THE WISE MAN’S FEAR, Day Two of The Kingkiller Chronicle, an escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune abroad. Adrift, penniless, and alone, he travels to Vintas, where he quickly becomes entangled in the politics of courtly society. While attempting to curry favor with a powerful noble, Kvothe uncovers an assassination attempt, comes into conflict with a rival arcanist, and leads a group of mercenaries into the wild, in an attempt to solve the mystery of who (or what) is waylaying travelers on the King's Road.
All the while, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, is forced to reclaim the honor of the Edema Ruh, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived...until Kvothe. In THE WISE MAN’S FEAR, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.
Wolfsangel by M.D. Lachlan (Pyr; March 22nd)
Wolfsangel begins a stunning multivolume fantasy epic that will take a werewolf from his beginnings as the heir to a brutal Viking king down through the ages. It is a journey that will see him hunt for his lost love through centuries and lives, and see the endless battle between the wolf, Odin, and Loki, the eternal trickster, spill over into countless bloody conflicts from our history and our lives.
Dark Jenny by Alex Bledsoe (Tor; March 29th)
Freelance Sword Jockey Eddie LaCrosse is in the wrong place at the wrong time while conducting a undercover investigation on the island kingdom of Grand Bruan. When a poisoned apple kills a member of the Queens personal guard, Eddie becomes the prime suspect in the murder. He must do do some fast talking to keep his head attached to his shoulders. Trying to clear his name and find the real killer, Eddie becomes embroiled in a nasty political scandal. Someone is trying to ruin Queen Jennifer, and they don't care who they kill on the way.
The River of Shadows by Robert V.S. Reddick (Del Rey; April 19th)
In the gripping sequel to Robert V. S. Redick’s acclaimed epic fantasy novels The Red Wolf Conspiracy and The Ruling Sea, the crew of the vast, ancient ship Chathrand have reached the shores of the legendary southern empire of Bali Adro. Many have died in the crossing, and the alliance of rebels, led by the tarboy Pazel Pathkendle and the warrior Thasha Isiq, has faced death, betrayal, and darkest magic. But nothing has prepared them for the radically altered face of humanity in the South. They have little time to recover from the shock, however. For with landfall, the battle between the rebels and centuries-old sorcerer Arunis enters its final phase. At stake is control of the Nilstone, a cursed relic that promises unlimited power to whoever unlocks the secrets of its use—but death to those who fail. And no one is closer to mastering the Stone than Arunis. Desperate to stop him, Pazel and Thasha must join forces with their enemies, including the depraved Captain Rose and the imperial assassin Sandor Ott. But when a suspicious young crewmember turns his attentions to Thasha, it is the young lovers themselves who are divided—most conveniently for Arunis. As the mage’s triumph draws near, the allies face a terrible choice: to break their oaths and run for safety, or to hunt the world’s most dangerous sorcerer through the strange and deadly dream kingdom known as the River of Shadows, and to face him a last time among the traps and horrors of his lair. Brimming with high adventure, dark enchantment, and unforgettable characters, The River of Shadows deftly secures Redick’s place in the ranks of epic fantasy’s most original and enthralling storytellers.
The Dragon's Path by Daniel Abraham (Orbit; April 7th)
Summer is the season of war in the Free Cities. Marcus wants to get out before the fighting starts. His hero days are behind him and simple caravan duty is better than getting pressed into service by the local gentry. Even a small war can get you killed. But a captain needs men to lead -- and his have been summarily arrested and recruited for their swords. Cithrin has a job to do -- move the wealth of a nation across a war zone. An orphan raised by the bank, she is their last hope of keeping the bank's wealth out of the hands of the invaders. But she's just a girl and knows little of caravans, war, and danger. She knows money and she knows secrets, but will that be enough to save her in the coming months? Geder, the only son of a noble house is more interested in philosophy than swordplay. He is a poor excuse for a soldier and little more than a pawn in these games of war. But not even he knows what he will become of the fires of battle. Hero or villain? Small men have achieved greater things and Geder is no small man. Falling pebbles can start a landslide. What should have been a small summer spat between gentlemen is spiraling out of control. Dark forces are at work, fanning the flames that will sweep the entire region onto The Dragon's Path -- the path of war.
The Edinburgh Dead by Brian Ruckley (Orbit; August 17th)
Mixing real history and historical figures with magics and conspiracies, this novel imagines the Edinburgh of 1827, populated by mad alchemists who treat Frankenstein as textbook rather than novel, and by a criminal underclass prepared to treat with the darkest of powers.
The plot follows the progress of an officer of the recently formed Edinburgh City Police as he follows a trail of undead hounds, emptied graves, brutal murders and mob violence into the deepest and darkest corners of Edinburgh’s underworld – both literal and magical – and back again to the highest reaches of elegant, intellectual Edinburgh society.