Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing August Releases in Fantasy

Every month, Fiction Affliction provides a handy reference of the science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and young adult paranormal coming out in the ensuing month. Today’s column examines FANTASY.

The Symptoms: Quests are breaking out all over, including visits to much-missed lands of favor such as Fillory and Shannara.

The Diagnosis: Fifteen new fantasies arrive in August, including a vengeance-seeking teen, a scarily depressed warrior-monk, and lots of magic, mostly of the dark variety.

The Cure: If your summer vacation begins looking quest-like, might want to stick close to home. Resist the urge to flee to a remote island, especially if it’s named Vectes.

Secrets of the Wolves, by Dorothy Hearst (Aug. 2, Simon & Schuster)

Years of research into the world of wolves combines with mythical tale-telling to present an adventure set in a world filled with lore. The rules of the Wide Valley wolves were clear: Never consort with humans; never kill a human unprovoked; never allow a mixed-blood wolf to live. But they were rules destined to be broken. Young Kaala of the Swift River pack shattered the rules of the valley and exposed the lies hidden beneath them. Now, along with her young packmates and the humans they have befriended, she must find a way for the wolves and humans of the Wide Valley to live in harmony. Second in the Wolf Chronicles series.

Prince of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence (Aug. 2, Ace)

When he was nine, he watched his mother and brother killed before him. By the time he was 13, he was the leader of a band of bloodthirsty thugs. By 15, he intends to be king. It’s time for Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath to return to the castle he turned his back on, to take what’s rightfully his. Since the day he was hung on the thorns of a briar patch and forced to watch Count Renar’s men slaughter his mother and young brother, Jorg has been driven to vent his rage. But treachery and dark magic await him in his father’s castle.

Path of the Sun, by Violette Malan (Aug. 2, Daw)

On their search for two missing Mercenary Brothers, Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane must track a serial killer into the Path of the Sun, an ancient labyrinth from which few people return. Fourth in the Dhulyn and Parno series.

The Whitefire Crossing, by Courtney Schafer (Aug. 2, Night Shade)

Dev is a smuggler with the perfect cover. He’s in high demand as a guide for the caravans that carry legitimate goods from the city of Ninavel into the country of Alathia. The route through the Whitefire Mountains is treacherous, and Dev is one of the few climbers who knows how to cross them safely. With his skill and connections, it’s easy enough to slip contraband charms from Ninavel—where any magic is fair game, no matter how dark—into Alathia, where most magic is outlawed. But smuggling a few charms is one thing; smuggling a person through the warded Alathian border is near suicidal, especially a young apprentice on the run from one of the most powerful mages in Ninavel.

Gears of War: Coalition’s End, by Karen Traviss (Aug. 2, Gallery)

When the Locust Horde burst from the ground 15 years ago to slaughter the human population of Sera, mankind began a desperate war against extinction. Now, with billions dead, the survivors—the Gears of the Coalition of Ordered Governments, along with a small band of civilians—have been forced to destroy their own cities and sacrifice their civilization to halt the Locust advance. The last-ditch measures have succeeded, but at an enormous cost: the survivors have been reduced to a handful of refugees. Escaping to a haven on the remote island of Vectes, they begin the heartbreaking task of rebuilding their devastated world.

The Last Four Things, by Paul Hoffman (Aug. 4, Dutton)

To the warrior-monks known as the Redeemers, who rule over massive armies of child slaves, “the last four things” represent the culmination of a faithful life. Death. Judgement. Heaven. Hell. They represent eternal bliss—or endless destruction and infinite pain. Perhaps nowhere are the competing ideas of heaven and hell more clear than in the tormented soul of Thomas Cale. Betrayed by his beloved but still marked by a child’s innocence, possessed of a remarkable aptitude for violence but capable of extreme tenderness, Cale will lead the Redeemers into a battle for nothing less than the fate of the human race. Second in the Left Hand of God series.

A Blight of Mages, by Karen Miller (Aug. 4, Orbit)

Hundreds of years before the great Mage War, a land lies, unknowing, on the edge of catastrophe. Barl is young and impulsive, but she has a power within that calls to her. In her city, however, only those of noble blood and with the right connections learn the ways of the arcane. Morgan holds the key to her education. A member of the Council of Mages, he lives to maintain the status quo, preserve the mage bloodlines, and pursue his scholarly experiments. But Barl’s power intrigues him—in spite of her low status. Morgan’s ambition and Barl’s power make a potent combination. What she does not see is the darkness in him that won’t be denied. U.S. release.

The Magician King, by Lev Grossman (Aug. 9, Viking)

The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges. Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parents’ house in Chesterton, Massachusetts.

The Tempering of Men, by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette (Aug. 16, Tor)

In Iskryne, the war against the Trollish invasion has been won, and the lands of men are safe again—at least for a while. Isolfr and his sister, the Konigenwolf Viradechtis, have established their own wolfhaell. Viradechtis has taken two mates, and so the human pack has two war leaders to face a new danger. An army of men approaches, one that wishes to conquer and rule. The giant trellwolves and their human brothers have never hunted men before. They will need to learn if they are to defend their homes. Second in the Iskryne World series.

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, 2011, by Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, Joe R.Lansdale, et al (Aug. 16, Prime)

A 36,000-word novella by George R.R. Martin set in his A Song of Ice and Fire universe highlights this collection of the year’s best short fiction, including stories from Michael Aaronovitch, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, Simon R. Green, M.K. Hobson, M.L.N. Hanover, Caitlin Kiernan, Jay Lake, Joe R. Lansdale, Tanith Lee, Tim Powers, Ekaterina Sedia, Gene Wolfe and many more.

The Omen Machine, by Terry Goodkind (Aug. 16, Tor)

Hannis Arc, working on the tapestry of lines linking constellations of elements that constituted the language of Creation recorded on the ancient Cerulean scroll spread out among the clutter on his desk, was not surprised to see the seven ethereal forms billow into the room like acrid smoke driven on a breath of bitter breeze. Since the seven rarely used doors, the shutters on the windows down on the ground level several stories below stood open as a fearless show of invitation. The open shutters were meant to be a declaration for all to see, including the seven, that Hannis Arc feared nothing. Terry Goodkind returns to the lives of Richard Rahl and Kahlan Amnell in a tale of a new and sinister threat to their world. The twelfth Sword of Truth novel. 

Low Town, by Daniel Polansky (Aug. 16, Doubleday)

In the forgotten back alleys and flophouses that lie in the shadows of Rigus, the finest city of the Thirteen Lands, you will find Low Town. It is an ugly place, and its cham­pion is an ugly man. Disgraced intelligence agent. Forgotten war hero. Independent drug dealer. After a fall from grace five years ago, a man known as the Warden leads a life of crime, addicted to cheap violence and expensive drugs. Every day is a constant hustle to find new customers and protect his turf from low-life competition like Tancred the Harelip and Ling Chi, the enigmatic crime lord of the heathens. The Warden’s life of drugged iniquity is shaken by his dis­covery of a murdered child down a dead-end street . . . set­ting him on a collision course with the life he left behind.

The Measure of the Magic, by Terry Brooks (Aug. 23, Del Rey)

For 500 years, the survivors of the Great Wars lived peacefully in a valley sanctuary shielded by powerful magic from the blighted and dangerous outside world. But the enchanted barriers have crumbled, the borders have been breached by predators, and the threat of annihilation looms large once more. Sider Ament, bearer of the last black staff and its profound power, devoted his life to protecting the valley and its inhabitants—and, in his final moments, gave stewardship of the black staff to the young tracker Panterra Qu. Now the newly anointed Knight of the Word must take up the battle against evil wherever it threatens. Concluding volume of the series set in the prehistory of Shannara.

Roil, by Trent Jamieson (Aug. 30, Angry Robot)

Shale is in trouble—the creature-filled darkness known as the Roil is expanding, consuming the land, swallowing cities whole. Where once there were 12 metropolises, now only four remain. It’s up to a drug addict, an old man and a woman bent on revenge to try to save their city—and the world. First in a new series.

The Crown of the Conqueror, by Gav Thorpe (Aug. 30, Angry Robot)

Ullsaard has the crown. But when he is confronted with a truth too shocking to contemplate, he has to make the impossible choice between power and honor. And now the real battle has begun in this sequel to The Crown of the Blood, packed with gargantuan battles, demonic magic and treacherous politics.

Author Suzanne Johnson is a bonafide book geek. Her new urban fantasy series, scheduled to begin with the release of Royal Street in April 2012 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter.


Back to the top of the page


This post is closed for comments.

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.