Monday, August 30, 2010

In the mailbox

To my delight, a few surprises awaited me inside the mailbox at my return home:

- "The Last Page" by Anthony Huso (through the courtesy of Tor Books);

The city of Isca is set like a dark jewel in the crown of the Duchy of Stonehold. In this sprawling landscape, the monsters one sees are nothing compared to what’s living in the city’s sewers.
Twenty-three-year-old Caliph Howl is Stonehold’s reluctant High King. Thrust onto the throne, Caliph has inherited Stonehold’s dirtiest court secrets. He also faces a brewing civil war that he is unprepared to fight. After months alone amid a swirl of gossip and political machinations, the sudden reappearance of his old lover, Sena, is a welcome bit of relief. But Sena has her own legacy to claim: she has been trained from birth by the Shradnae witchocracy—adept in espionage and the art of magical equations writ in blood—and she has been sent to spy on the High King.
Yet there are magics that demand a higher price than blood. Sena secretly plots to unlock the
Cisrym Ta, an arcane text whose pages contain the power to destroy worlds. The key to opening the book lies in Caliph’s veins, forcing Sena to decide if her obsession for power is greater than her love for Caliph.
Meanwhile, a fleet of airships creeps ever closer to Isca. As the final battle in a devastating civil war looms and the last page of the
Cisrym Ta waits to be read, Caliph and Sena must face the deadly consequences of their decisions. And the blood of these conflicts will stain this and other worlds forever.

- "The Bird of the River" by Kage Baker (through the courtesy of Tor Books);

In this new story set in the world of The Anvil of the World and The House of the Stag, two teenagers join the crew of a huge river barge after their addict mother is drowned. The girl and her half-breed younger brother try to make the barge their new home. As the great boat proceeds up the long river, we see a panorama of cities and cultures, and begin to perceive patterns in the pirate attacks that happen so frequently in the river cities. Eliss, the girl, becomes a sharp-eyed spotter of obstacles in the river for the barge, and more than that, one who perceives deeply.
A young boy her age, Krelan, trained as a professional assassin, has come aboard, seeking the head of a dead nobleman, so that there might be a proper burial. But the head proves as elusive as the real explanation behind the looting of cities, so he needs Eliss’s help. And then there is the massive Captain of the barge, who can perform supernatural tricks, but prefers to stay in his cabin and drink.

- "The Questing Road" by Lyn McConchie (through the courtesy of Tor Books);

Searching for a stolen foal, several farming folk inadvertently cross through a gateway into a different world. Not long after, the lord and lady of a nearby keep begin a trip to find the sire of the lady’s empathic cat. They too traverse a gate unwittingly and find themselves in the same strange world.
On the other side of the gate the two groups meet and discover that the world they have entered is in great danger. The foal has been stolen to be sacrificed as part of a scheme to loose a horde of demons upon the world. Somehow the cat and the foal are the keys to the possible salvation of this world, which may prove a home to them and their owners… or their doom.

- "The Sword of the Dawn" by Michael Moorcok (through the courtesy of Tor Books);

In Michael Moorcock’s vast and imaginative multiverse, Law and Chaos wage war in a never-ending struggling over the fundamental rules of existence. Here in this universe, Dorian Hawkmoon traverses a world of antique cities, scientific sorcery, and crystalline machines as he pulled unwillingly into a war that pits him against the ruthless and dominating armies of Granbretan.
The Sword of the Dawn, Dorian Hawkmoon’s quest to destroy the Dark Empire of Granbretan leads him onto the path of a man who possess a rare ring that allows men to travel through time. Hawkmoon uses this ring to travel to a far future New Orleans, where he must battle the Pirate Lords who possess the Great Sword of the Dawn, which can end the Dark Empire once and for all.

- "Dragongirl" by Todd McCaffrey (through the courtesy of Transworld Books);

Shortly after Fiona's return to Fort Weyr, three Turns older and wiser, her queen, Talenth, is infected with the dreaded sickness that has consumed so many of Pern's precious fire-breathing dragons. Talenth's recovery and the recovery of all the other dragons of Pern is delivered by the unflagging efforts of Lorana and Kindan at Benden Weyr - but their one vital clue is only bought with the loss of all the dragons of Telgar Weyr.
Fiona is sent to relieve the distressed weyrfolk of the now-dragonless Weyr. When her queen, Talenth, rises to mate, Fiona finds herself not only Telgar's senior Weyrwoman but in the center of the dilemma that confronts all Pern - how can the one thousand fighting dragons do the job of three thousand? And, if they can't, how long will it be before all of Pern is consumed by Thread?

- "The Holy Machine" by Chris Beckett (through the courtesy of Corvus Books);

George has fallen in love with Lucy. A prostitute. Worse, a robot. She might be a machine, but the semblance of life is perfect. And beneath her good looks and real human skin, her seductive, sultry software is simmering on the edge of consciousness.
To the city authorities, robot sentience is an embarrassing malfunction, curable by periodically erasing and resetting silicon minds. Simple maintenance, no real problem, it’s only a machine. But its a problem for George, he knows that Lucy is something more.
Their only salvation is to flee the city, but Illyria is the last enclave of logic and reason in a world otherwise consumed by religious fundamentalism. Taking Lucy deep into the religious Outlands is an almost suicidal risk. She has to pass as human because robots are seen as demonic mockeries of God, burned at the stake, dismembered, crucified.
Their odyssey leads through betrayal, war and madness, ending only at the monastery of the Holy Machine…

- "Demons" edited by Jason M. Waltz (through the courtesy of Rogue Blades Entertainment).

Demons. Creatures of the Darkness. When the gates of Hell open, who stands between Man and the Abyss? From mankind's infancy, people have huddled in the dark, drawing signs in the air, muttering quiet prayers, quivering with dread at what roams in the night. Evil spirits riding dark winds blew at mouths of caves, scratched on walls of huts, rapped on stones of castles, whispered under eaves of mansions. And mankind trembled. Yet a few stood, drew steel imbued with magic to hue spirit as well as flesh, and walked out into the night to meet the foes of mortal men. Join the struggle in these 28 masterful tales of adventure and mayhem as heroes, forged as ‎strong as the steel they wield, defy foes from the realms of nightmare.

Thank you all very much!

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