Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing October 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: On the move: Eubians, Skolian Imperialates, Faerlonnians, MageLords, Auldekians, Nasheenans, Chenjans, Mundanians, Calahrians, and other fair and not-so-fair folk, vying for political prominence and world domination.

The Diagnosis: Eighteen new fantasy books vie for the least-pronounceable character name awards in October, including new entries in several long-running series, and a few new series beginnings.

The Cure: Curl up on the sofa, forget about the economy and the whole hell-in-a-handbasket thing, and get lost in a good book this month. That is why they call it fantasy, right?



Carnelians, by Catherine Asaro (Oct. 4, Baen)

The leaders of the Eubian empire and Skolian Imperialate have survived political intrigue, military coups and murder attempts as they worked to forge a peace treaty. Now comes the hard part—making the treaty a reality. Assassins are poised on both sides. Their mission: eliminate the leaders for the “crime” of striving to end half a millennia of hatred. And as the main players in the peace process attempt to navigate the Byzantine convolutions surrounding the negotiations, an explosive pop anthem, Carnelians Finale, sweeps across three civilizations, its message inflaming passions. Fourth in the Saga of the Skolian Empire series.

The Traitor’s Daughter, by Paula Brandon (Oct. 4, Spectra)

On the Veiled Isles, ominous signs are apparent to those with the talent to read them. Unaware of the cataclysmic events to come, Jianna Belandor, the privileged daughter of a powerful Faerlonnish overlord, has only one concern: the journey to meet her prospective husband. But revolution is stirring as her own conquered people rise up against their oppressors, and Jianna is kidnapped and held captive at a rebel stronghold. As plague and chaos grip the land, Jianna is pushed to the limits of her courage and resourcefulness, while virulent enemies discover that alliance is their only hope to save the human race. First in a new series.

Magebane, by Lee Arthur Chane (Oct. 4, DAW)

Four centures ago, the world changed. A devastating war swept the lands, and the MageLords, who had long ruled by virtue of their spell powers, were driven to a distant place, separated from those they had ruled by a magical Barrier. With magic banished from the rest of the world, the MageLords became mere legend and people turned to science to improve their lives. But if one man has his way, all that is about to change.

The Sacred Band, by David Anthony Durham (Oct. 4, Doubleday)

With the first two books in the Acacia Trilogy, David Anthony Durham created a world in turmoil, where the surviving children of a royal dynasty are on a quest to realize their fates. As The Sacred Band begins, Queen Corinn strides the world as a result of her mastery of spells found in the ancient Book of Elenet. Her brother Dariel has been sent on a perilous mission to the Other Lands, while sister Mena confronts an invasion of the feared race of the Auldek. Their trajectories will converge in a series of world-shaping, earth-shattering battles.

Infidel, by Kameron Hurley (Oct. 4, Night Shade)

Nyx is a bodyguard in Mustallah, the capital city of Nasheen. The centuries-long holy war between Nasheen and Chenja is taking its toll, with shortages and rationing causing the queen to lose power and popularity. While protecting the daughter of a Ras Tiegan diplomat, Nyx is attacked by a group of assassins. Nyx survives, but begins to suffer from a strange, debilitating condition that nobody can identify. Caught up in a whirlwind of intrigue involving Bel Dam Assassins plotting against the Queen, Nyx must learn who the rouge Bel Dam is, and find a cure for her illness, while avoiding the wrath of the queen she is trying to protect.

Changes, by Mercedes Lackey (Oct. 4, DAW)

In this coming-of-age story, the orphan Magpie pursues his quest for his parents’ identity while discovering another hidden talent and being trained by the King’s Own Herald as an undercover agent for Valdemar. Shy Bardic Trainee Lena has to face her famous but uncaring father, one of Valdemar’s most renowned Bards. And Healing Trainee Bear must struggle against his disapproving parents, who are pressuring Bear to quit the Healers’ Collegium because he lacks the magical Healing Gift. Book three in the Collegium Chronicles.



Well-Tempered Clavicle, by Piers Anthony (Oct. 11, Tor)

Picka Bones and his sister Joy’nt are off in search of adventure with three creatures newly arrived from Mundania—and not the sort of creatures you might expect. They take off on a madcap quest in this 35th tale of the land of Xanth.

The Cold Commands, by Richard K. Morgan (Oct. 11, Del Rey)

Richard K. Morgan continues the saga of Ringil Eskiath—Gil, for short—a peerless warrior whose love for other men has made him an outcast and pariah. Only a select few have earned the right to call Gil friend. One is Egar, the Dragonbane. Another is Archeth, the last remaining daughter of an otherworldly race called the Kiriath, who once used their advanced technology to save the world from the dark magic of the Aldrain. Yet even Egar and Archeth have learned to fear the doom that clings to their friend like a grim shadow—or the curse of a bitter god. Now one of the Kiriath’s uncanny machine intelligences has fallen from orbit—with a message that humanity faces a grave new danger: a creature called the Illwrack Changeling, a boy raised to manhood in the ghostly between-world realm of the Grey Places. An expedition is outfitted for the journey to find the lost island of the Illwrack Changeling. Aboard are Gil, Egar, and Archeth: each fleeing from ghosts of the past, each seeking redemption in whatever lies ahead. But redemption doesn’t come cheap these days. Nor, for that matter, does survival. Second in the Land Fit for Heroes series.

Snuff, by Terry Pratchett (Oct. 11, Harper)

According to the writer of the best-selling crime novel ever published in the city of Ankh-Morpork, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday will scarcely open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse. And Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside, but not for him a mere body in the wardrobe. There are many, many bodies and an ancient crime more terrible than murder. He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, and occasionally snookered and out of his mind, but never out of guile. Book 39 in the Discworld series.



Ashes of a Black Frost, by Chris Evans (Oct. 18, Gallery)

Musket and cannon, bow and arrow, and magic and diplomacy vie for supremacy. As the human-dominated Calahrian Empire struggles to maintain its hold on power in the face of armed rebellion from within, the Iron Elves’ perilous quest to defeat the power-hungry elf witch, the Shadow Monarch, now takes on greater urgency. Third in the Iron Elves series.

The Shattered Vine, by Laura Anne Gilman (Oct. 18, Gallery)

Confusion, violence, and terror are sweeping over the Lands Vin. And four people are at the center of a storm. Jerzy, Vineart apprentice and former slave, was sent by his master to investigate strange happenings—and found himself the target of betrayal. By Jerzy’s side are Ao, who lives for commerce and the art of the deal; Mahault, stoic and wise, risking death in flight from her homeland; and Kaïnam, once Named-Heir of an island principality, whose father has fallen into a magic-tangled madness that endangers them all. These four companions will travel far from the earth and the soul of the vine to the very limits of the Sin Washer’s reach. Third in the Vineart War series.

Beauty and the Werewolf, by Mercedes Lackey (Oct. 18, Luna)

The eldest daughter is often doomed in fairy tales. But Bella—Isabella Beauchamps, daughter of a wealthy merchant—vows to escape the usual pitfalls. Anxious to avoid the Traditional path, Bella dons a red cloak and ventures into the forbidden forest to consult with “Granny,” the local wise woman. But on the way home she’s attacked by a wolf—who turns out to be a cursed nobleman. But a determined beauty, a wizard (after all, he’s only an occasional werewolf) and a little godmotherly interference might just be able to bring about a happy ending. Sixth in the Five-Hundred Kingdoms series.



Master of the House of Darts, by Aliette de Bodard (Oct. 25, Angry Robot)

The year is Three Rabbit, and the storm is coming. The coronation war for the new Emperor has just ended in a failure, the armies retreating with a mere forty prisoners of war—not near enough sacrifices to ensure the favor of the gods. When one of those prisoners of war dies of a magical illness, ACATL, High Priest for the Dead, is summoned to investigate. Third in the Obsidian and Blood series.

The Third Section, by Jasper Kent (Oct. 25, Pyr)

Russia 1855. After forty years of peace in Europe, war rages. In the Crimea, the city of Sevastopol is besieged. In the north, Saint Petersburg is blockaded. As their country grows weaker, a brother and sister, each unaware of the other’s existence, must come to terms with the legacy left them by their father. In Moscow, Tamara uncovers a brutal murder and discovers that it is not the first in a sequence of similar crimes carried out by a killer who has stalked the city since 1812. And in Sevastopol, Dmitry faces not only the combined armies of Britain and France, but must also make a stand against creatures his father had thought buried beneath the earth thirty years before. Third in the Danilov Quintet series.

Dragon Mound, by Richard A. Knaak (Oct. 25, Sea Lion)

More than two centuries ago, the three kingdoms of Rundin, Wallmyre, and Tepis banded together at the urging of the wizard Paulo Centuros to combat the ambitions of the sorcerer-king, Novaris. Although they were triumphant and the forces of the sorcerer-king were scattered, Novaris himself was not to be found. Uncertain as to whether their foe was dead, the wizard sent forth the knight Evan Wytherling on a quest to seek the truth about Novaris, no matter how long it took. Still alive despite the great passage of time and the dark forces he has confronted during his fruitless search, Evan returns to the scene of the climactic battle and discovers that the truth may have been under his nose all this time.

Fenrir, by M.D. Lachlan (Oct. 25, Pyr)

The Vikings are laying siege to Paris. As the houses on the banks of the Seine burn, a debate rages in the Cathedral on the walled island of the city proper. The situation is hopeless. The Vikings want the Count’s sister, in return they will spare the rest of the city. Can the Count really have ambitions to be Emperor of the Franks if he doesn’t do everything he can to save his people? Can he call himself a man if he doesn’t do everything he can to save his sister? His conscience demands one thing, the demands of state another. The Count and the church are relying on the living saint, the blind and crippled Jehan of St Germain, to enlist the aid of God and resolve the situation for them. But the Vikings have their own gods. And outside their camp a terrifying brother and sister, priests of Odin, have their own agenda. An agenda of darkness and madness. And in the shadows a wolfman lurks. Second in the Craw Trilogy. U.S. release.

The Jewel of the Kalderash, by Marie Rutkoski (Oct. 25, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Upon arriving in the Romany homeland to deliver the Mercator Globes, Petra Kronos, Tomik, and Neel formulate a plan to save Petra’s father, who has been transformed into a Gray Man. But when a long-held secret is revealed, Neel finds himself bound to his country. The friends are quickly swept up in an epic battle for power. Thrones are at stake. Spies are afoot. Murder is common. Worst of all, Prince Rodolfo is close to becoming emperor, and ruling half of Europe. Third in the Kronos Chronicles series.

The Kingdom of Gods, by N.K. Jemisin (Oct. 27, Orbit)

For two thousand years the Arameri family has ruled the world by enslaving the very gods that created mortalkind. Now the gods are free, and the Arameri’s ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and world-spanning, unending war. Shahar, last scion of the family, must choose her loyalties. She yearns to trust Sieh, the godling she loves. Yet her duty as Arameri heir is to uphold the family’s interests, even if that means using and destroying everyone she cares for. The conclusion to the Inheritance Trilogy.

Author Suzanne Johnson is a book geek with a fondness for a good dystopia. 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.


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