The Kingdom of Liars (Gollancz, £16.99) is Canadian writer Nick Martell’s spectacular and extremely bold epic fantasy debut. Whereas awaiting trial for regicide, con artist Michael Kingman tells the tense, convoluted story of how he discovered himself imprisoned and the way, a decade earlier than the novel opens, his father was executed for murdering the king’s son. The setting is the Hole, a land the place the monarchy is barely hanging on to energy, rebel is rife and civil struggle looms. Michael comes from a once-exalted line of royal advisers. He charts his personal fall alongside his investigation into his father’s alleged crime, depicting a fractured society and a code of magic referred to as Fabrication – the misuse of which can lead to devastating reminiscence loss. Martell’s portrayal of his protagonist’s progress, from a cocksure chancer to a mature grownup sobered by his discoveries, is simply as spectacular because the twisty plot. The Kingdom of Liars is the opening quantity in a collection.
Hao Jingfang’s story “Folding Beijing” gained a 2016 Hugo award for greatest novelette. Her debut novel Vagabonds (Head of Zeus, £18.99) is a 640-page political dystopia, translated from the Chinese language by Ken Liu. The yr is 2201, and following a struggle of independence Mars and Earth are locked in an uneasy detente. Earth is an ultra-capitalist, dog-eat-dog society, Mars a socialist utopia the place artwork prospers with out the constraint of market forces. 5 years earlier than the novel opens, 20 college students had been despatched from Mars to Earth as a part of a cultural trade, and now they’re returning. Dancer Luoying ponders the relative deserves of the 2 societies: she should not solely resolve the place her loyalties lie, however navigate a private and political minefield. In a leisurely, discursive narrative Hao spins a captivating and even-handed examination of two very completely different attainable futures.
Ian Whates’s eighth solo novel, Darkish Angels Rising (NewCon, £12.99), is a spirited area opera that mixes all of the required components of the subgenre: epic area battles, futuristic weaponry, scheming armies and enigmatic aliens. The primary two books of the trilogy launched the ne’er-do-well crew of the starship The Ion Raider, and their discovery of the traditional superweaponry of an alien race referred to as the Elders. Ten years later, they’ve disbanded, just for an unknown foe to trace down and homicide them one after the other. Captain Cornische returns to the helm to save lots of his remaining crew, embarking on a quest to the pocket universe the place the Elders have stashed a Pandora’s field of wondrous know-how – until a vile navy cabal and evil aliens can get there first. Whates weaves backstories and motion successfully because the novel builds to a rousing battle-scene climax.
Lady of Shadows (Jo Fletcher, £16.99) by Breanna Teintze is the welcome second instalment within the Empty Gods collection. Teintze’s debut, Lord of Secrets, launched us to Corcoran Grey, a grumpy however compassionate wizard on the run from the Mages’ Guild, and the lady who grew to become his lover, the slave Brix of the Tirnaal individuals. Woman of Shadows hits the bottom operating, a yr after the tip of occasions recounted in e book one, with Grey and Brix nonetheless sought by the Guild. Once they hint Grey, he’s pressured on ache of loss of life to trace down the perpetrators of a curse which is killing members of the Guild. Grey and Brix embark on the hunt, with a lot derring-do and seat-of-the-pants journey. Teintze excels at constructing a fantasy world ruled by an unique system of magic, and thrills the reader with an pleasant, breakneck plot.
One other dose of fantastical escapism is to be present in Kat Dunn’s captivating debut Dangerous Remedy (Zephyr eBook, £7.99), a madcap mashup described by the writer as “Stranger Issues within the French Revolution” that’s half steampunk journey, half historic thriller. It’s 1794, and Camille leads a bunch of pals referred to as the Battalion of the Lifeless, dedicated to saving these they deem unjustly sentenced to the guillotine. The novel throws the reader into the thick of the motion with the Battalion aboard an air balloon on a dangerous mission to spring a prisoner from a Parisian jail. Camille saves the younger girl, solely to find that she is needed for her particular powers by royalists and revolutionaries alike, and each events will cease at nothing to seize her. What follows is an enthralling, fast-paced journey with a solid of likable characters; Camille’s relationship together with her lover Ada is especially properly drawn. There’s a neat denouement and the promise of sequels.
• Eric Brown’s newest novel is The Martian Menace (Titan).
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