A bit late for one of these posts, perhaps, but I thought I’d highlight a few novels that might not necessarily be on everyone’s radar that I’m immensely looking forward to in SFF in 2014. There are some standalones, a couple of debuts and a couple of sequels, but hopefully something that will get you as excited for 2014 as I am. Yes, I’m looking forward to Words of Radiance, Prince of Fools, Skin Game and all those other BIG hitters, but for a few that look just as good, have a look through this list…
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
Three strangers, each isolated by his or her own problems: Adaora, the marine biologist. Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa. Agu, the troubled soldier. Wandering Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria’s legendary mega-city, they’re more alone than they’ve ever been before.
But when something like a meteorite plunges into the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, these three people will find themselves bound together in ways never imagined. Together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars, they must race through Lagos and against time itself in order to save the city, the world… and themselves.
This sounds wonderfully imaginative and different and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Not the only book from Hodder on this list, either…
The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick
An ornate yet dark fantasy, with echoes of Mervyn Peake, Robin Hobb and Jon Courtenay Grimwood. An original and beautifully imagined world, populated by unforgettable characters.
Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game. Ruled by an insane King and the venomous Majordomo, it is a world where corruption and decay are deeply rooted – but to a degree Lucien never dreams possible when he first discovers the plight of the ‘insane’ women kept in the haunting Sanatoria.
Told in a continuous narrative interspersed with flashbacks we see Lucien grow up under the care of his tutors. We watch him forced through rigorous Testings, and fall in love, set against his yearning to discover where he comes from, and how his fate is tied to that of every one of the deformed Orfano in the Kingdom, and of the eerie Sanatoria itself
Easily my most anticipated debut of the year, and I know I’m not alone in this. Sure to be a fantastic novel in the “Scott Lynch” mould.
The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs
In the contested and unexplored territories at the edge of the Empire, a boat is making its laborious way upstream. Riding along the banks are the mercenaries hired to protect it – from raiders, bandits and, most of all, the stretchers, elf-like natives who kill any intruders into their territory. The mercenaries know this is dangerous, deadly work. But it is what they do.
In the boat the drunk governor of the territories and his sons and daughters make merry. They believe that their status makes them untouchable. They are wrong. And with them is a mysterious, beautiful young woman, who is the key to peace between warring nations and survival for the Empire. When a callow mercenary saves the life of the Governor on an ill-fated hunting party, the two groups are thrown together.
For Fisk and Shoe – two tough, honourable mercenaries surrounded by corruption, who know they can always and only rely on each other – their young companion appears to be playing with fire. The nobles have the power, and crossing them is always risky. And although love is a wonderful thing, sometimes the best decision is to walk away. Because no matter how untouchable or deadly you may be, the stretchers have other plans.
First novel published in the UK for Jacobs, and having read one of his previous works (Southern Gods, published in the US) I’m sure this will be superb and very different from the norm.
The Shattered Crown by Richard Ford
Heroes must rise…
The King is dead. His daughter, untested and alone, now wears the Steel Crown. And a vast horde is steadily carving a bloody road south, hell-bent on razing Steelhaven to the ground…or the city will fall.
Before the city faces the terror that approaches, it must crush the danger already lurking within its walls. But will the cost of victory be as devastating as that of defeat?
I loved the first book, Herald of the Storm, and hope Ford can follow it up with a worthy sequel.
The Three by Sarah Lotz
Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. What if he’s right?
The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. With terrorist attacks and environmental factors ruled out, there doesn’t appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.
Dubbed ‘The Three’ by the international press, the children all exhibit disturbing behavioural problems, presumably caused by the horror they lived through and the unrelenting press attention. This attention becomes more than just intrusive when a rapture cult led by a charismatic evangelical minister insists that the survivors are three of the four harbingers of the apocalypse. The Three are forced to go into hiding, but as the children’s behaviour becomes increasingly disturbing, even their guardians begin to question their miraculous survival…
Another book from Hodder, and another I can’t wait to read. This just sounds absolutely superb.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
In a world that has suffered from frequent, repeated extinction-level events, over millions of years, magic and life itself have adapted to having a mass extinction every few hundred years. But this time might be different.
I’ve never read anything by Jemisin, but just the barest whiff of description for this makes me want to read it.
The Book of the Crowman by Joseph D’Lacey
It is the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, the earth wracked and dying.
It is the Bright Day, a time long generations hence, when a peace has descended across the world.
The search for the shadowy figure known only as the Crowman continues, as the Green Men prepare to rise up against the forces of the Ward.
The world has been condemned. Only Gordon Black and The Crowman can redeem it.
Black Feathers was an excellent book, and hopefully this will cement the story as the great bit of, erm, “eco-punk”, I think it will be. If the ending is as strong the beginning, taken together, this could be a defining work in the genre.
Blood Will Follow by Snorri Kristjansson
Ulfar Thormodsson and Audun Arngrimsson have won the battle for Stenvik, although at huge cost, for they have suffered much worse than heartbreak. They have lost the very thing that made them human: their mortality.
While Ulfar heads home, looking for the place where he thinks he will be safe, Audun runs south. But both men are about to discover that they can not run away from themselves.
King Olav might have been defeated outside the walls of Stenvik, but now Valgard leads him north, in search of the source of the Vikings’ power.
All the while there are those who watch and wait, biding their time, for there are secrets yet to be discovered…
Ah, Snorri, you bearded barbarian of an author, you. Great purveyor of everything beer-ded, Kristjansson looks set to follow up last years stellar Swords of Good Men with a great sequel. And for those that fancy a slightly different taster of Snorri’s brand of viking-based fantasy, head over here to see his very best drunk viking impression…
Three Princes by Ramona Wheeler
Lord Scott Oken, a prince of Albion, and Professor-Prince Mikel Mabruke live in a world where the sun never set on the Egyptian Empire. In the year 1877 of Our Lord Julius Caesar, Pharaoh Djoser-George governs a sprawling realm that spans Europe, Africa, and much of Asia. When the European terrorist Otto von Bismarck touches off an international conspiracy, Scott and Mik are charged with exposing the plot against the Empire.
Their adventure takes them from the sands of Memphis to a lush New World, home of the Incan Tawantinsuyu, a rival empire across the glittering Atlantic Ocean. Encompassing Quetzal airships, operas, blood sacrifice and high diplomacy, Three Princes is a richly imagined, cinematic vision of a modern Egyptian Empire.
Possibly not out in the UK this year, but certainly in the US from TOR, this sounds genuinely original and something I’m eager to read.
The Copper Promise by Jen Williams
There are some far-fetched rumours about the caverns beneath the Citadel…
Some say the mages left their most dangerous secrets hidden there; others, that great riches are hidden there; even that gods have been imprisoned in its darkest depths.
For Lord Frith, the caverns hold the key to his vengeance. Against all the odds, he has survived torture and lived to see his home and his family taken from him … and now someone is going to pay. For Wydrin of Crosshaven and her faithful companion, Sir Sebastian Caverson, a quest to the Citadel looks like just another job. There’s the promise of gold and adventure. Who knows, they might even have a decent tale or two once they’re done.
But sometimes there is truth in rumour.
Soon this reckless trio will be the last line of defence against a hungry, restless terror that wants to tear the world apart. And they’re not even getting paid.
And finally we end with something a little more traditional. The Copper Promise is Jen Williams’ debut, and it looks set to inject a much-needed shot of adrenaline into the realm of classic swords and sorcery. This’ll be fun…
SO that’s some of my most anticipated for 2014, but what have I missed? What are you most looking forward to?