Saturday, January 4, 2014

Coming Attractions: My Most Anticipated Novels of 2014

With the holidays at a close, and a pile of books that need to be read, I thought I'd list just a few of the upcoming releases that have me salivating in anticipation for their release. This is by no means an exhaustive list as I have left off novels that I couldn't find cover art for and releases in series where I am woefully behind. I plan on making a decided effort to catch up on a few authors that I've just discovered or have found my neglecting for newer shinier releases. Take a look and tell me if there is any upcoming novels you think should be added to my list in the comments below. 

Breach Zone by Myke Cole:

Some might consider including this final installment of Cole's increasingly popular Shadow Ops series a bit disingenuous, as it's the first book I completed this year, but having read this thrilling and thought-provoking conclusion to Cole's first series, I simply couldn't leave it off the list. If it's true that every author leaves something of themselves in their work, then this story exposes Cole's opinions on service, patriotism, duty and personal honor and the often treacherous waters that must be navigated to reconcile them. I was looking forward to this novel ever since completing last years Fortress Frontier and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I'll be posting a more thorough review closer to the publication date. If you thought that Cole was a rising star in the genre, Breach Zone marks his arrival as a major player.
The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler:

Django Wexler's The Thousand Names surprised the hell out of me. I'm not a fan of military fantasy but Wexler's deft hand at characterization and way of making military tactics and epic battles accessible and compelling left me anxious for more. The Shadow Throne offers a change of scenery and a more in depth look at the politics and hidden agendas in play. Count me in for the continuing adventures of Marcus and Winter as they face new challenges on a completely different stage.

Iron Knight by M.L. Brennan

With it's release just a few short days away, I'm anxiously awaiting my review copy of M.L. Brennan's second Generation V novel. With protagonist Fortitude Scott, finally accepting his nature as a vampire, and taking his place in his family's supernatural empire there are countless opportunities for Brennan to continue on the path of excellent character development and coming of age drama that made Generation V such a standout. Add in the unavoidable hijinks of kitsune, Susume Hollis and Iron Night is all but guaranteed to be a successful sequel. 

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

The inclusion of the latest installment of Butcher's fan favorite Dresden Files is no shock at all. But Butcher has managed to keep this series fresh and engaging while still staying true to the heart of the series by allowing Harry and his allies to change and grow in unexpected ways as the series plows ever onward. With the shocking status quo changing events in the last two installments, Butcher seems poised to continue the trend of enthralling readers with the trials and tribulations of everyone's favorite wise ass wizard. I couldn't be more excited.

Morningside Fall by Jay Posey

I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic tales, and Jay Posey's debut novel Three knocked me on my ass. Blending a sparse prose style and a mysterious approach to world building, Posey managed to make me care more about the plight of his characters far more than the how and why of his grim setting. Given the unexpected ending of the first installment, I was afraid that the story would end their. I am anxious to see how Posey handles this sequel, given the shift in protagonist and what appears to be a significant time gap between novels. I'm confident that no matter what Posey will continue to deliver the goods in the compelling style that made Three one of the most readable debuts of 2013.

Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

I'm really way behind on reading Mark Lawrence. I read Lawrence's debut Prince of Thorns shortly after it's release at the Science Fiction Book Club. When I went looking for the next installment, much to my surprise the SFBC was no longer carrying Lawrence's work. Due to my compulsive need to have all books in a series the same size, I'd put off buying the next novel. Time passed, and here we are with a new series set in the same fantastic world and with ties to the previous trilogy. I'm in like Flynn in this one and have every intention of catching up with Jorg and his brothers very soon. 

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman

Grossman's The Magicians is perhaps the one book recommendation I make on a regular basis that has a chance to backfire on me. Grossman's hyper realistic take on what real children would become if they were placed in a school for wizards and were capable of astonishing magical feats has been a bit divisive among my circle of friends. Quentin Coldwater despite being so exquisitely drawn is perhaps the most miserable protagonist in fantasy since Thomas Covenant. But I think that's the point of the Grossman's tale in many ways, the story of Quentin's eventual redemption which I'm keenly hoping The Magician's Land provides.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

What can I say? I love the premise of this novel and have been itching to start on something by Jemisin who has always been something of a critical darling. The premise of pending apocalypse in a fantasy setting that is expected and unavoidable, becoming nothing more than a fact of life. The fact that I have nothing more than the basic premise to go on, and I'm still this excited at the prospect makes The Fifth Season a shoe in for a list like this one. 

Veil of the Deserters by Jeff Salyards

Jeff Salyards' Scourge of the Betrayer was an odd book for me. With its odd choice of protagonist, deeply flawed characters, and grim matter of fact violence and complex and mysterious world building, I didn't have a clue what to make of it, other than I knew it was good and that Salyards was an author to watch. At long last, the further adventures of Braylar Killcoin and Arki are coming and I for one can't wait as we learn more about the Suldoon and Killcoin's mysterious sister.  The continuation of Bloodsounder's Arc is right on time.
Sworn in Steel by Douglas Hulick 

Hulick's Among Thieves was one of the first novels I reviewed on this site, and I've had the pleasure of hosting Doug on a round table on Violence in Science Fiction and Fantasy recently. I've been eager for the release of the next Tales of the Kin for so long that I'd almost forgotten it was due out this year. Hulick's approach to the fantasy underworld and the engaging voice of his protagonist Drothe were standouts of my first year of reviewing. With Drothe now in a place of more power in the Underworld, I'm certain that we'll see a ratcheting of the stakes and new foes and challenges for the quick witted Drothe, I'm curious to see how Drothe handles his new circumstances and getting an even deeper look at the society Hulick has developed for the criminal Kin. If Amoung Thieves was any indication, readers are in for a hell of a ride.

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