Stories of the Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below by Martha Wells
Publisher: Night Shade Books -
Pages: 232 -
When the first book in Martha Wells’s Raksura series, The Cloud Roads, was released in 2011, I was wary of it despite the many positive reviews I saw from people I trusted. This wariness had nothing to do with disliking the premise, wherein a dragonesque shapeshifter, Moon, raised without any knowledge of his species in a world abounding with sentient peoples, suddenly discovers his heritage and must struggle to make a place for himself, but rather stemmed from the opposite concern. The Cloud Roads sounded like everything I’d ever wanted in a fantasy novel but had never seen done properly, and I was nervous about getting my hopes up.
To provide some personal context, I spent a not inconsiderable portion of my early internetting years on a still-extant SFF site called Elfwood, which serves as a repository for fantasy-themed artwork and stories, both original and fan-made. On this site, there were multiple stories by the same author about sentient dragons that focussed purely on the romance and politics of their lives, and at a point in time where dragons were basically my favourite thing in the world, they made an indelible impression. There were other stories I loved in a similar vein, often about girls who could shapeshift from human to dragon – I suspect, at the time, a lot of young writers were equally inspired by Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books – or sentient wolves, or other non-human creatures, and it says something about their collective impact that, almost twenty years later, I still think about them fondly. Read More »
While running away from home for reasons that are eminently defensible, Emilie’s plans to stow away on the steamship Merry Bell and reach her cousin in the big city go awry, landing her on the wrong ship and at the beginning of a fantastic adventure.
Taken under the protection of Lady Marlende, Emilie learns that the crew hopes to use the aether currents and an experimental engine, and with the assistance of Lord Engal, journey to the interior of the planet in search of Marlende’s missing father.
With the ship damaged on arrival, they attempt to traverse the strange lands on their quest. But when evidence points to sabotage and they encounter the treacherous Lord Ivers, along with the strange race of the sea-lands, Emilie has to make some challenging decisions and take daring action if they are ever to reach the surface world again.
Another in a string of great covers from Strange Chemistry, the YA spin-off of Angry Robot Books headed by Amanda Rutter, a former blogger and friend of this blog, and another great cover for Martha Wells, who seems blessed by the cover art Gods. I haven’t read any of Wells’ work, but with covers like these, I’m damn well tempted.
From Wells’ official website:
The good Raksura news: I will be doing four Raksura-related novellas for Night Shade Books, to be released as ebooks! The first three are due next year, but I’m not sure when they’ll be released. The first two will have Moon, Jade, Chime, Balm, etc, but I’m not sure about the second two yet.
Great news for fans of Wells’ Raksura novels, of which there are many. I love to see authors expanding their universes by tackling shorter stories, allowing readers to explore the nooks and crannies that may not be suitable to full novel-length stories. If you’re interested in learning more about Wells and her work, there’s a terrific interview with her on The Mad Hatter’s Book Shelf and Book Review (*phew* that’s a long name!). The Book Smugglers have also raved about her work, saying, “The Cloud Roads can be described as traditional Fantasy in a very fundamental level but it’s also a solid, un-clichéd traditional fantasy. In fact, this is quite possibly the best thing about the book, that it takes very traditional tropes and makes them fresh and imaginative, immersing readers in a world that is truly original and awe-inspiring.”
The novellas will be published by Night Shade Books in 2013.