H T ONLINE ALERT! Horror fans: head over to the Booklist Reader, where Daniel Kraus
is hosting a 10-week read-along to
Stephen King’s IT. What is it about IT
that has dragged readers into the sewers
for over 30 years?
Age of Assassins.
By RJ Barker.
Aug. 2017. 432p. Orbit, paper, $15.99 (9780316466493).
The world has been ravaged by dark magic.
Sorcerers, whose craft sucks life from the very
earth itself, are outlawed as abominations, their
descendants hunted down and killed, bled
out to feed the dead ground created by their
ancestors in a bid to restore that land to life.
This is the world of young Girton Club-Foot,
the crippled assassin’s apprentice. Taken in as
a young slave child by the land’s best assassin,
Girton and his master are pulled into a plot of
deception and intrigue, political and personal.
Time ticks down as the assassins work to catch
other would-be assassins, to unmask a traitor,
and to escape with their very lives. But there
are secrets, and then there are secrets. As the
story unfolds, there are ever more wrinkles to
the plot, and not everything is what it seems;
in fact, almost everything Girton thought he
knew comes into question. The first book of
a projected trilogy, this is one readers will find
hard to put down. —Terry Goosey
The Book of Swords.
Ed. by Gardner Dozois.
Oct. 2017. 544p. Bantam, $30 (9780399593765); e-book
Winner of 15 Hugo Awards, Gardner
Dozois commissioned these original stories
from the best writers of modern sword and
sorcery, including one by George R. R. Martin set in the Westeros of his Game of Thrones
novels. As you would expect
from this editor, each story is
different, each a gem. Scott
Lynch’s “The Smoke of Gold
Is Glory” features a ten-thou-sand-year-old dragon who
sits on a volcano strewn with
treasure. K. J. Parker’s “The
Best Man Wins” provides a
detailed description of how swords are made as
well as of how a swordsman is made. Ken Liu
weaves a tale about “The Hidden Girl” trained
in ancient ways of assassination during the
Tang Dynasty in China. Robin Hobb presents
a FitzChivalry Farseer tale about a village visited by her take on zombies. With wry humor,
Matthew Hughes spins a tale of wizards, demons, the Sword of Destiny, and a minion who
prefers being lucky over being smart. More stories by Elizabeth Bear, Garth Nix, Kate Elliott,
Walter Jon Williams, Daniel Abraham, C. J.
Cherryh, Ellen Kushner, Rich Larson, Lavie
Tidhar, and Cecelia Holland round out this
fabulous sampler of writers who know the long
and short of epic fantasy. —Don Vicha
The Castle in Cassiopeia.
By Mike Resnick.
Aug. 2017. 300p. Pyr, paper, $17 (9781633882317);
e-book, $11.99 (9781633882324).
In the first Dead Enders novel (this is the
third in the series), Nathan Pretorius and
his team of specialists broke into a heavily
guarded alien fortress, kidnapped one of the
enemy’s most powerful military leaders, and
replaced him with a clone who was sympa-
thetic to the human cause. But now the clone
has gone rogue, throwing his brilliant military
mind and insider knowledge of humanity be-
hind an alien race that’s determined to take
over the galaxy. So once again Pretorius’ band
of misfits must penetrate deep into enemy ter-
ritory and pull off a miracle. The Dead Enders
novels have numerous things to recommend
them, including colorful characters and
smartly constructed caper stories, but perhaps
their most endearing quality is the way the
author approaches the SF environment. This
is space opera, where somebody jumps into a
spaceship and flies from one planet to another
the way we hop into our cars and drive to the
mall. Like George Lucas did in Star Wars,
Resnick has created a universe that feels lived
in and endlessly fascinating. —David Pitt
The Dark Net.
By Benjamin Percy.
Aug. 2017. 272p. HMH, $26 (9780544750333).
In this fast-paced demonic cyber-thriller,
Percy has a sinister take on the deepest parts of
our digital lives: much of who we are as living,
breathing humans is actually being infiltrated
by every device we touch. Anxiety and fear are
set up from the opening pages as we are quickly
introduced to a ragtag group of misfit heroes:
Hannah, a young blind girl getting brand new
technology that will allow her to see; Lela, her
technophobic reporter aunt; Mike, a homeless-
shelter manager; and Cheston, a computer
hacker with a nefarious employer. They dis-
cover that strange happenings all stem from
the founding of the Internet, and that this
foundation is laid upon the backs of ancient
demons who have been interfering with man-
kind for millennia. Dark Net can get gruesome,
and the body count is high, but Percy keeps it
suspenseful and compelling from the first page.
The authentic Portland, Oregon, setting with
a pivotal scene in Powell’s Bookstore is also a
draw. Think twice before accessing this on an
e-reader, unless you think can handle the extra
layer of terror. —Becky Spratford
An Excess Male.
By Maggie Shen King.
Sept. 2017. 416p. Harper/Voyager, paper, $15.99
(9780062662552); e-book (9780062662576).
Poisoned by years of a cultural preference for
sons, China’s Communist government has been
forced to reinvent family dynamics to cope
with its lack of female citizens. Households
are created under contracts and consist of up
to three husbands for every one wife. Millions
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