Price of Valor Red

In the wake of the King’s death, war has come to Vordan.

The Deputies-General has precarious control of the city, but it is led by a zealot who sees traitors in every shadow. Executions have become a grim public spectacle. The new queen, Raesinia Orboan, finds herself nearly powerless as the government tightens its grip and assassins threaten her life. But she did not help free the country from one sort of tyranny to see it fall into another. Placing her trust with the steadfast soldier Marcus D’Ivoire, she sets out to turn the tide of history.

As the hidden hand of the Sworn Church brings all the powers of the continent to war against Vordan, the enigmatic and brilliant general Janus bet Vhalnich offers a path to victory. Winter Ihernglass, newly promoted to command a regiment, has reunited with her lover and her friends, only to face the prospect of leading them into bloody battle.

And the enemy is not just armed with muskets and cannon. Dark priests of an ancient order, wielding forbidden magic, have infiltrated Vordan to stop Janus by whatever means necessary…

Price of Valor is the third volume of Wexler’s Shadow Campaigns series, which has been popular among readers and critics alike. Reminiscent of the Orbit Books’ covers for Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage series, the covers of all three novels embrace the themes of colonialism that run through Wexler’s series.

As a proper English-speaking blogger, I am, of course, upset that they forgot the ‘U’ in the word ‘Valour,’ but I shall let it slide, forgiving the transgression as a result of the overall Ammmmuuurrriccaaannnaaaa design of the cover. And so, as a cold-blooded Canadian, I’d have much preferred to see the Eagle on the flag replaced with a piece of bacon, the sabre with a wood axe, and the military uniform tossed aside in favour of a nice Canadian Tuxedo. ‘Cause, hey, there can never be enough Canadiana in the world, right?

The cover art for The Price of Valor is by Paul Youll.

Price of Valor is coming from Roc Books in July, 2015.

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It’s not often that an independent new science fiction and fantasy magazine coalesces with as much enthusiasm and pedigree as Lynne and Michael Damian Thomas’ Uncanny, which debuted its first issue this past Monday, featuring content from some of genre’s best names, such as Neil Gaiman, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Christopher Barzak, and Amal El-Mohtar.

I caught up with the Thomases to chat about Uncanny, their successful Kickstarter Campaign, and launching a magazine into competitive field of online science fiction and fantasy magazines.

Uncanny launched via a very successful Kickstarter campaign, buoyed in part by Lynne and Michael’s previous successes, and also by a science fiction and fantasy community hungry for a new online magazine that focuses on the vast diversity and endless opportunities possible in speculative fiction. This early success gave Uncanny a leg up over similar magazines that have to start building an audience from scratch. “It gives Uncanny the ability to provide a whole year’s worth of the best fiction, poetry, and nonfiction we can find,” Michael said. “Over 1,000 people believed in us enough to fund this project. We owe it to them to make it the best possible magazine that we can. We have a lot of goodwill right now; it’s time to deliver.” Read More »

Grim Oak Press has announced that Unveiled, the highly anticipated follow-up to Unfettered, has been canceled due to a conflict between its publisher and editor.

“[Unveiled] will not be happening,” revealed Shawn Speakman, publisher at Grim Oak Press. “And it’s important to say, through no fault of my own. After waiting for more than six weeks for the simplest of work to be done on the anthology, editor Roger Bellini asked me to renegotiate the contract. In the renegotiation, he asked for 17.5% of hardcover and ebooks sales—less than originally in the contract, true—and his name still on the dust jacket. In return, he would not be editing the book. This would give Roger large royalties for effectively doing what I consider very little work on the book,”

As of the time this was written, Bellini, who was attached to the ill-fated Neverland’s Library anthology, has not commented on the cancellation of Unveiled.

“After talking with my book agent, I decided it best for Grim Oak Press to terminate the contract,” Speakman announced, spelling the end for this iteration of Unveiled.

This is disappointing news for readers and the authors involved in the project. Given Grim Oak Press’ success with Unfettered, readers can hope that the anthology finds a new editor before long.

Speakman discusses the cancellation in more depth on the official Grim Oak Press website.

EDIT (Nov. 3rd, 2014 – 7:05pm): Speakman confirmed on Reddit that he’s working on a different anthology. It won’t be called Unveiled or feature the same lineup of writers, however.

EDIT (Nov. 4th, 2014): Turns out that Bellini owns rights for the stories, so Grim Oak Press and Speakman are unable to use the collected stories in a new iteration of Unveiled. It’s unclear what Bellini intends to do with the anthology, but he, theoretically, could sell the it to another publisher.

EDIT (Nov. 4th, 2014): Having spoken with several of the authors announced for the anthology, none of them were under contract yet for their stories (though some had already submitted them), suggesting that Speakman and Grim Oak Press might be able to reassemble the stories under a different title.

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Biting Style:
The Bone Clocks
and Anti-fantasy
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This is not a review of David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks.

I don’t even mean that in the self-consciously Magrittesque kind of way.  If this were a review I’d tell you to read the book, or not, which I don’t plan to do.  I mean, okay, for those of you who haven’t made up your minds on David Mitchell’s latest opus: while I had an excellent time on every individual page, the book landed strange for me, and this essay is me trying to figure out why.  Asking “Should I read this book” is like asking “Should I take up power lifting?” or “Should I learn Chinese?”  Answer: depending on your goals, your experience, your medical history, your ambitions, how much free time you have—Maybe?

I do, though, think this book succeeds at something really really cool and interesting, even if it fails as a unit.  And the shape of this cool interesting thing challenges the goals and underlying structures of modern science fiction and fantasy—especially fantasy.

Because Mitchell’s written a fantasy novel.  That point seems impossible to argue.  His world contains immortals who teleport, throw fireballs around, and kill people with a thought.  To call it anything else would be silly.  And yet… Read More »

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2015 Hugo Nominations v 0.1
Best Novel

The flush of the 2014 Hugo Awards is fading, and, with the holidays just peeking around the corner, I wanted to take the time to discuss some of my favourite novels from 2014, the ones that, at this very moment, would comprise my nomination slate for the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Will it change by next spring when nominations are due? Undoubtedly.

These are all terrific novels, and, if you haven’t read them already, well, I envy you.

Best Novel

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Say hello to the best fantasy novel of 2014.

Even as I was startled by its twisted depth, I adored every moment I spent with City of Stairs. Colonialism lies at City of Stairs‘ centre, and RJB handles it with equal parts boldness and delicacy. The ruined beauty of Bulikov and its fallen gods haunted me long after I turned the final page.

Robert Jackson Bennett is best known for his contemporary fantasy and horror crossovers, such as American Elsewhere and The Troupe, so his move into more traditional epic fantasy put him on the radar of a lot of new readers, and the result is something special. On first reading City of Stairs, I described it to a friend as “China Mieville without the ego.” I’m not sure I still agree with that statement, because it’s unfair to saddle one writer with another’s baggage, but while reading City of Stairs I couldn’t fight the feeling that RJB was mixing and refining elements from some of my recent favourite fantasies. Other touchstones exists, such as Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire and Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence, that place RJB among the most exciting and vibrant young fantasy writers working today.

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Buy City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

Read More »