Fiction Affliction is a monthly column written by Royal Street author Suzanne Johnson that examines upcoming releases by genre or sub-genre. Check back every day this week for coverage of February releases in fantasy, young adult paranormal, and science fiction. Today’s column examines new releases in FANTASY.
The Symptoms: Ravens are flying, and the weight of the world is resting on the shoulders of unlikely heroes, who must conquer their mortal enemies using ancient magic.
The Diagnosis: Nine new fantasy books take the battlefield in February, including two raven queens, five distraught kingdoms, four mysterious mages, and a stray druid.
The Cure: Search for clues in all the ancient spellbooks you can find, set out the poison raven pellets, and hope for the best.
Raven’s Quest, by Anya Bast (Feb. 1, Berkley Sensation)
This is a backlist re-release by paranormal romance author Bast, who originally published it under the name Joanna King. Once, Gallus Lucan was in line to inherit the Dragon Throne of Numia—until his future was crushed and his family slain by his malevolent uncle Magnus. Now Lucan has only one ambition: overthrow Magnus and take back what is rightfully his. Branna ta Cattia is the Raven, a high priestess who has come to Numia to defeat its tyrant. It’s a journey made on the strength of her prophetic dreams, visions of ancient rituals, sacred spells, and of a handsome stranger destined to help her—all in the name of stopping Magnus’s oppression. But Branna’s stranger is more than she expected. Romance warning!
The Sea Thy Mistress, by Elizabeth Bear (Feb. 1, Tor)
This direct sequel to Bear’s All the Windwracked Stars picks up the story fifty years after Muire went into the sea and became the new Bearer of Burdens. Cathoair, now an immortal warrior angel, has been called back to the city of Eiledon to raise his son—Muire’s son as well, cast up on shore as an infant. It is seemingly a quiet life. But deadly danger approaches—the evil goddess Heythe, who engineered the death of Valdyrgard, will force the new Bearer of Burdens to violate her oaths and bring about the final end of Valdyrgard. Unless Mingan, the gray wolf, can stop his old enemy. [Check out an excerpt of The Sea Thy Mistress right here on Tor.com.]
Blackveil, by Kristen Britain (Feb. 1, Daw)
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.
The King of the Crags, by Stephen Deas (Feb. 1, Roc)
This is the sequel to Deas’ debut novel, The Adamantine Palace. Now, as the Realms teeter on the brink of war, the fate of humanity rests on the survival of one majestic white dragon. Prince Jehal has had his way—now his lover Zafir sits atop the Realms with hundreds of dragons and their riders at her beck and call. But Jehal’s plots are far from over, for he isn’t content to sit back and watch Zafir command the earth and sky. He wants that glory for himself—no matter who he must sacrifice to get it.
The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie (Feb. 7, Orbit)
They say Black Dow’s killed more men than winter, and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. The orders have been given and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Bremer dan Gorst, disgraced master swordsman, has sworn to reclaim his stolen honor on the battlefield. Obsessed with redemption and addicted to violence, he’s far past caring how much blood gets spilled in the attempt. Prince Calder isn’t interested in honour, and still less in getting himself killed. All he wants is power, and he’ll tell any lie, use any trick, and betray any friend to get it. Curnden Craw, the last honest man in the North, has gained nothing from a life of warfare but swollen knees and frayed nerves. He hardly even cares who wins any more, he just wants to do the right thing. Three men. One battle. No Heroes.
The Desert of Souls, by Howard Andrew Jones (Feb. 15, Thomas Dunne)
Sword and sorcery sweep into ancient Arabia in this debut novel. In 8th century Baghdad, a stranger pleads with the vizier to safeguard the bejeweled tablet he carries, but he is murdered before he can explain. Charged with solving the puzzle, the scholar Dabir soon realizes that the tablet may unlock secrets hidden within the lost city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the sands. When the tablet is stolen from his care, Dabir and Captain Asim are sent after it, and into a life and death chase through the ancient Middle East. Stopping the thieves—a cunning Greek spy and a fire wizard of the Magi—requires a desperate journey into the desert, but first Dabir and Asim must find the lost ruins of Ubar and contend with a mythic, sorcerous being that has traded wisdom for the souls of men since the dawn of time.
The Twilight of Kerberos: Trials of Trass Kathra, by Mike Wild (Feb. 15, Abaddon)
One year after Kali Hooper defeated the Pale Lord, Bastian Redigor lives on in the body of Jakub Freel. The mysterious entity known as the Hel’ss, meanwhile, moves closer to Twilight, welcomed as a herald of their Ascension by the spellbound Final Faith. Only Kali and her friends know the deadly reality of what the Hel’ss will bring but they have been declared outlaws, hunted by the Order of the Swords of Dawn and the sinister spheres, the Eyes of The Lord. So begins Kali’s penultimate adventure, a quest far beyond the Stormwall to the mythical Trass Kathra, the Island of the Lost.
The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch (Feb. 22, Gollancz)
Having pulled off the greatest heist of their career, con artist Locke and his trusted partner in thievery, Jean, have escaped with a tidy fortune. But, poisoned by an enemy from his past, Locke is slowly dying. And no physiker or alchemist can help him. Yet just as the end is near, a mysterious Bondsmagi offers Locke an opportunity that will either save him—or finish him off once and for all. Magi political elections are imminent, and the factions are in need of a pawn. If Locke agrees to play the role, sorcery will be used to purge the venom from his body, though the process will be so excruciating he may well wish for death. Locke is opposed, but two factors cause his will to crumble: Jean’s imploring—and the Bondsmagi’s mention of a woman from Locke’s past, the love of his life. U.K. release.
The Raven Queen, by Jules Watson (Feb. 22, Spectra)
An Irish legend comes to life in the story of Maeve, the raven queen, who is as fierce as she is captivating. She was born to be a pawn, used to secure her father’s royal hold on his land. She was forced to advance his will through marriage—her own desires always thwarted. But free-spirited Maeve will no longer endure the schemes of her latest husband, Conor, the ruler of Ulster. And when her father’s death puts her homeland at the mercy of its greedy lords and Conor’s forces, Maeve knows she must at last come into her own power to save it. With secret skill and daring, Maeve proves herself the equal of any warrior on the battlefield. With intelligence and stealth, she learns the strategies—and sacrifices—of ruling a kingdom through treacherous alliances. And to draw on the dangerous magic of her country’s oldest gods, Maeve seeks out the wandering druid Ruan, whose unexpected passion and strange connection to the worlds of spirit imperil everything Maeve thought true about herself.
Author Suzanne Johnson is a bonafide book geek. Her new urban fantasy series, scheduled to begin with the release of Royal Street in 2012 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter.