Twenty-six new fantasies hit the shelves this month, including new series beginnings from, among others, Charlie Holmberg (Paper Magician), Angus Watson (Iron Age), Joseph Delaney (Starblade Chronicles), J.F. Lewis (Grudgebearer Trilogy), M.C. Planck (World of Prime), Karen Miller (Tarnished Crown Quintet), and Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (Magisterium).
Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic. Once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic, forever. The spells Ceony learns under Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined, animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic. An Excisioner, a practitioner of dark, flesh magic, invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart, and reveal the very soul of the man.
Dug Sealskinner is a down-on-his-luck mercenary traveling south to join up with King Zadar’s army. But he keeps rescuing the wrong people. First, Spring, a child he finds scavenging on the battlefield, and then Lowa, one of Zadar’s most fearsome warriors, who’s vowed revenge on the king for her sister’s execution. Now Dug’s on the wrong side of that thousands-strong army he hoped to join, and worse, Zadar has bloodthirsty druid magic on his side. All Dug has is his war hammer, one rescued child and one unpredictable, highly-trained warrior with a lust for revenge that’s going to get them all killed. It’s a glorious day to die.
Young Adult. Tom Ward is the spook, the one person who can defend the county from ghosts, ghasts, boggarts, witches, and other bloodthirsty creatures of the dark. But he’s only seventeen, and his apprenticeship was cut short when his master died in battle. No one trusts Tom’s skill, not till he’s proven himself. And a fifteen-year-old girl named Jenny knows more about the three mysterious deaths in the county than Tom does. She is a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and she wants to be Tom’s first apprentice, even though a female spook is unheard of. Together, Tom and Jenny will uncover the grave danger heading straight toward the county, and they’ll team up with a witch assassin to confront it. (U.S.)
Kholster is the first born of the practically immortal Aern, a race created by the Eldrennai as warrior-slaves to defend them from the magic-resistant reptilian Zaur. The Aern served the Eldrennai faithfully for thousands of years until the Sundering. The Aern, Vael, and Eldrennai meet every hundred years for a Grand Conjunction to renew their tenuous peace. Almost six hundred years after the Sundering, an Eldrennai prince breaks the truce by setting up a museum exhibit containing sentient suits of Aernese armor left behind, never to be touched, lest Kholster kill every last Eldrennai. Through their connection with their ancient armor, the Aern know instantly, and Kholster must find a way to keep his oaths. While Kholster travels to the Grand Conjunction with his Freeborn daughter and chosen successor Rae’en, his troops travel by sea, heading for war.
Young Adult. Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her. Her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat and toughest enemy. While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength to win her own battles, and to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?
Stories of the Raksura: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud—Martha Wells (September 2, Night Shade)
In “The Falling World,” Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud Court, has traveled with Chime and Balm to another Raksuran court. When she fails to return, her consort, Moon, along with Stone and a party of warriors and hunters, must track them down. Finding them turns out to be the easy part; freeing them from an ancient trap hidden in the depths of the Reaches is much more difficult. “The Tale of Indigo and Cloud” explores the history of the Indigo Cloud Court, long before Moon was born. In the distant past, Indigo stole Cloud from Emerald Twilight. But in doing so, the reigning Queen Cerise and Indigo are now poised for a conflict that could spark war throughout all the courts of the Reaches.
Princess Órlaith, heir to Rudi Mackenzie, Artos the First, High King of Montival, now wields the Sword of the Lady, and faces a new enemy. She also has a new ally in Reiko, Empress of Japan, who has been pursued to America by a conquering army from Asia. Órlaith and Reiko embark on a quest to find the fabled Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, the Grass-Cutting Sword. Dreams have revealed that the road to Kusanagi lies through the meganecropolis of the City of Angels, and beyond it, to a castle in the fearful Valley of Death. Their enemy will stop at nothing to prevent them from succeeding. The great arc of land that stretches from the dark kingdom of Korea to the realm of Capricornia in Australia is threatened by war. Now all the survivors of the Change must choose sides.
Young Adult. The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. For girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty, because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring. Purchased by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering façade. Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence, and try to stay alive. A forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s niece. The consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.
Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. When he accompanies four fellow students on a midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate. There, he meets the professor’s daughter. Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. In Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest. Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. After the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost.
Years ago, the city of Bulikov wielded the powers of the Gods to conquer the world. But after its divine protectors were mysteriously killed, the conqueror has become the conquered; the city’s proud history has been erased and censored, progress has left it behind, and it is just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power. Into this musty, backward city steps Shara Divani. The quiet woman is just another lowly diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Shara is one of her country’s most accomplished spymasters, dispatched to investigate the brutal murder of a seemingly harmless historian. Shara begins to suspect that the beings who once protected Bulikov may not be as dead as they seem, and that her own abilities might be touched by the divine as well.
Young Adult. Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t, power, money, status, and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.
Christopher Sinclair goes out for a walk on a mild Arizona evening and never comes back. He stumbles into a freezing winter under an impossible night sky, where magic is real, but bought at a terrible price. A misplaced act of decency lands him in a brawl with a nobleman and puts him under a death sentence. He agrees to be drafted into an eternal war, serving as a priest of the Bright Lady, Goddess of Healing. When Marcius, god of war, offers the only hope of a way home to his wife, Christopher pledges to him instead. To win enough power to open a path home, he must survive duelists, assassins, and the threat of monsters, with only his makeshift technology to compete with swords and magic. The gods and demons have other plans. Christopher’s fate will save the world, or destroy it.
Neryn has made a long journey to perfect her skills as a Caller. She has learned the wisdom of water and of earth; she has journeyed to the remote isles of the west and the forbidding mountains of the north. Neryn must travel in Alban’s freezing winter to seek the White Lady, Guardian of Air. When Neryn has been trained by all four Guardians will she be ready to play her role in toppling King Keldec. The White Lady is not what she seems. Trapped with Whisper, her fey protector, Neryn is unable to send word to her beloved Flint, who is in danger of being exposed as a double agent. Neryn must enter Keldec’s court, where one false move could see her culled. She must stand up against forces more powerful than any she has confronted, and losses that could break her heart. (U.S.)
In the distant past, the Kingdom of Harcia was torn apart by royal brothers who could not accept a lesser inheritance. Now, the consequences of their actions are coming to light. Balfre, son of Aimery, Duke of Harcia, is his father’s heir. But he has dreams of a crown, not a coronet. He dreams himself the king of a Harcia re-united, but his brother Grefin, their father’s favorite, stands in his way. Harald, debauched Duke of neighboring Clemen, is feared and despised by his nobles. He thinks he can trust his bastard-born cousin Ederic, but Ederic fears for the duchy and will do what he must to save it. And caught between dangers is Harald’s infant son, Liam. Stolen by his nurse, vanished into the lawless Marches, he is the spark that will grow to set the world on fire.
Young Adult. Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail. All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him. So he tries his best to do his worst, and fails at failing. Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future. The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come.
The Grey Wardens are heroes across Thedas once again: the Archdemon has been defeated with relative ease and the scattered darkspawn are being driven back underground. The Blight is over. Valya, a young elven mage recently recruited into the Wardens, has been tasked with studying the historical record of previous Blights in order to gain insight into newly reported, and disturbing, darkspawn phenomena. Her research into the Fourth Blight leads her to an encoded reference scrawled in the margins of an ancient map, and to the hidden diary of Issenya, one of the last of the fabled griffon riders. As the dark secrets buried in Isseyna’s story unfold, Valya begins to question everything she thought she knew about the heroic Grey Wardens.
Conn has come a long way since the days when he was a thief and a wizard’s apprentice. He and the dragon Pip have saved the city of Wellmet from doom more than once, and now his best friend, Duchess Rowan, wants to make him the ducal magister, the city’s most important wizard. But the older wizards don’t trust Conn, especially now that their locus magicalicus stones are disappearing. Once a thief, always a thief, they think. To solve the mystery of the disappearing stones, Conn goes back to his beginnings, gutterboy, chimney sweep, mudlark, and, yes, thief. It’s the only way he can clear his name and find the culprit. But turning back is not easy, and old enemies don’t disappear. Can Conn pull himself out of the gutter one more time?
Young Adult. After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny, especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in. Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother’s prophecies, and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.
Young Adult. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood’s investigations. Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the Times newspaper. Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. George’s curiosity attracts a horrible phantom. Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. The team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Bickerstaff’s coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found. (U.S.)
They Do the Same Things Different There: The Best Weird Fantasy of Robert Shearman—Robert Shearman (September 16, ChiZine)
Robert Shearman visits worlds that are unsettling and strange. Sometimes they are just like ours, except landlocked countries may disappear overnight, marriages to camels are the norm, and the dead turn into musical instruments. Sometimes they are quite alien—where children carve their own tongues from trees, and magic shows are performed to amuse the troops in the war between demons and angels. There is horror, and dreams fulfilled and squandered, and of true love. They do the same things different there.
In the tradition of the Brothers Jacob and Wilhelm, a collection of top fantasy and horror writers have created their own brand-new fairy tales, with a decidedly darker twist. A fantastical mix of spellbinding retelling of classic stories such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, and Rumpelstiltskin, along with unsettling tales inspired by other children’s classics, all interspersed with the original tales of their inspiration. These modern masterpieces of the macabre by Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix, Ramsey Campbell, Joanne Harris, Markus Heitz, John Ajvide Lindquist, Angela Slatter, Michael Marshall Smith, and many others, and are illustrated by artist Alan Lee. (U.S.)
Young Adult. Jae Hwa Lee has destroyed Haemosu, the dangerous demi-god that held her ancestors captive, and now she’s ready to forget about immortals and move on with her life. Then the god of darkness, Kud, sends an assassin to kill her. Jae escapes with the knowledge that Kud is seeking the lost White Tiger Orb, and joins the Guardians of Shinshi to seek out the orb before Kud can find it. But Kud is stronger and more devious than Haemosu ever was. Jae is soon painfully reminded that by making an enemy of Kud, she has placed her closest friends in danger, and must decide how much she can bear to sacrifice to defeat one of the most powerful immortals in all of Korea.
Who would have thought a book of naughty poems by elves could mean the difference between war and peace? If stealing the precious volume will keep the Republic and the Empire from tearing out each other’s throats, rogue soldier Isafesira de Lochenville, “Loch”, is willing to do the dishonest honors. She’ll match wits and weapons with dutiful dwarves, mercenary knights, golems, daemons, an arrogant elf, and a sorcerous princess. Getting their hands on the prize means Loch and company must battle their way from a booby-trapped museum to a monster-infested library, and from a temple full of furious monks to a speeding train besieged by assassins. Are a few pages of bawdy verse worth waging war over? Or does something far more sinister lurk between the lines?
Five hundred years ago, a clan of rebels was banished to the bottom of the enchanted world of Aeronne; ever since, these Bottom Dwellers have sought revenge, and now they are waging all-out war on humanity. Their deadly “contramagic” beams destroy buildings and attack naval airships, and their demonic drumming brings terrible storms and disrupts the magic of the people and dragons Above. Captain Stephano de Guichen leads the Dragon Brigade, taking the fight to the Bottom. As the Bottom Dwellers’ blood magic eats away at the world, those Above realize their only possible defense lies in the heretical secrets of contramagic. Only the Dragon Brigade can prevent an endless dark age. Their epic battle will test the mettle of those thrown into the breach, and determine the fate of this magical world.
Young Adult. Marah Levi is a promising violinist who excels at school and can read more languages than most librarians. Even so, she has little hope of a bright future: she is a sparker, a member of the oppressed lower class in a society run by magicians. Then a mysterious disease hits the city of Ashara, turning its victims’ eyes dark before ultimately killing them. As Marah watches those whom she loves most fall ill, she finds an unlikely friend in Azariah, a wealthy magician boy. Together they pursue a cure in secret, but more people are dying every day, and time is running out. Then Marah and Azariah make a shocking discovery that turns inside-out everything they thought they knew about magic and about Ashara, their home.
The citadel has long been the stronghold of Highkell. All that is about to change because the traitor, Vasic, is marching on the capital. Against her better judgement, Queen Alwenna allows herself to be spirited away by one of the Crown’s most trusted servants. Fleeing across country, she quickly comes to learn that her pampered existence has ill-equipped her for survival away from the comforts of the court. Alwenna must toughen up, and fast, if she is even to make it to a place of safety. She has an even loftier aim, for after dreaming of her husband’s impending death, Alwenna knows she must turn around and head back to Highkell to save the land she loves, and the husband who adores her, or die in the attempt. But Vasic the traitor is waiting. And this was all just as he planned.
Suzanne Johnson is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series and, as Susannah Sandlin, paranormal romance and romantic thrillers. You can find Suzanne on Facebook and on her website.