What I Probably Should Have Read in 2011 But Never Did [Bane of Kings]

Prince of Thorns

Happy New Year everybody! As promised on Twitter, today I’m going to be looking at What I probably should have read in 2011 but never did. You’ll find the following novels below: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper, The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, The Departure by Neal Asher, Manhattan In Reverse by Peter F. Hamilton, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, The End Specialist by Drew Magary and Rivers of London by Ben Aaaronovitch, as well as several others. Enjoy!

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence (Harper Voyager)

 

“Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother’s tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that’s true enough, but there’s something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.”

Once a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities. The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg’s bleak past has set him beyond fear of any man, living or dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father’s castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

Prince of Thorns is the first volume in a powerful new epic fantasy trilogy, original, absorbing and challenging. Mark Lawrence’s debut novel tells a tale of blood and treachery, magic and brotherhood and paints a compelling and brutal, sometimes beautiful, picture of an exceptional boy on his journey toward manhood and the throne.

 Thoughts: Prince of Thorns has received a lot of hype around the blogsphere and I’ve read some really positive reviews on this. I’m trying to put off getting this book so I can pick it up when it comes out in paperback, but I don’t really know how long I can resist the temptation. The cover art looks awesome as well. This is also Mark Lawrence’s first novel.

Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper (Gollancz)

 

Novice knight Gair has a gift: he can hear the songs of the earth, and weave that music into magic. But in the Holy City, that makes him a witch, and that means he must be tortured until he gives up the name of his demon master …except that he has no demon lord; it’s just something he can do.

 After the Questioning comes the court, and Gair himself is as shocked as the knights to find his death-by-fire sentence has been commuted to excommunication, branding and life banishment – but only if he can make it over the boundary by sundown. Gair may be starved and battered, and he may have a festering new brand on the palm of his hand – but though his body’s broken, his spirit has not yet given up, and with help from an unlikely source he escapes to the Western Isles, where he hears about the Veil that separate the worlds, and the Guardians who protect it.

 But this peaceful haven is threatened by Gair’s arrival. Those who condemned him set an implacable witchfinder on his trail, for they want him dead. And a renegade Guardian is striving to tear down the Veil, releasing evil, unearthly monsters into the human world. Before his training is complete, Gair must take his place in the frontline against these forces – and he will pay a terrible price.

 Thoughts: Songs of the Earth is another début, this time by Elspeth Cooper. Indeed, I would have picked this novel up yesterday during a trip to town if they had it in the local bookstore, but alas – my quest to find the novel continues. I’ll probably read this later in the year if I get around to picking it up.

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi (Gollancz)

 

Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy – from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake.

 Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons – the Dilemma Prison – against countless copies of himself. Jean’s routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self – in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed . . . The Quantum Thief is a dazzling hard SF novel set in the solar system of the far future – a heist novel peopled by bizarre post-humans but powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge and jealousy. It is a stunning debut.

 Thoughts: I actually already own this novel, but haven’t read it yet, and it has been billed as one of the best Sci-Fi debuts of 2011, so I’ll check it out when I can. It looks awesome, and I need to read more of heist science fiction.

The Departure by Neal Asher (Tor)

 

Visible in the night sky the Argus Station, its twin smelting plants like glowing eyes, looks down on nightmare Earth. From Argus the Committee keep an oppressive control: citizens are watched by cams systems and political officers, it’s a world inhabited by shepherds, reader guns, razor birds and the brutal Inspectorate with its white tiled cells and pain inducers. Soon the Committee will have the power to edit human minds, but not yet, twelve billion human being need to die before Earth can be stabilized, but by turning large portions of Earth into concentration camps this is achievable, especially when the Argus satellite laser network comes fully online…This is the world Alan Saul wakes to in his crate on the conveyor to the Calais incinerator. How he got there he does not know, but he does remember the pain and the face of his interrogator. Informed by Janus, through the hardware implanted in his skull, about the world as it is now Saul is determined to destroy it, just as soon as he has found out who he was, and killed his interrogator…

 Thoughts: I was interested in The Departure ever since I saw the fantastic cover art that this novel boasted. Despite seeing negative reviews on this, I’m probably going to pick it up as soon as I can, particularly as I need to breach out in sci-fi beyond Space Opera and tie-in fiction.

Manhattan in Reverse by Peter F. Hamilton (Macmillan)

 

This is a collection of short stories from the master of space opera. Peter F Hamilton takes us on a journey from a murder mystery in an alternative Oxford in the 1800s to a brand new story featuring Paula Mayo, Deputy Director of the Intersolar Commonwealth’s Serious Crimes Directorate. Dealing with intricate themes and topical subject this top ten bestselling author is at the top of his game.

 Thoughts: I love alternate histories, especially with a cover as awesome as Manhattan in Reverse. Again, this anthology is currently released in hardback – so I’ll probably hold of getting it until its paperback release.

 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Century)

 

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, READY PLAYER ONE is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

 Thoughts: The premise of Ready Player One looks really interesting and I’m yet to see a negative review on the novel so far. I bet that this is going to be the ones that I’ll have wished that I picked up sooner, and have been looking out for it in bookstores but to no avail.

The End Specialist (UK) / The Postmortal (US) by Drew Magary (Harper Voyager)

 

John Farrell is about to get “The Cure.” 

Old age can never kill him now. 

The only problem is, everything else still can . . .

 Imagine a near future where a cure for ageing is discovered and-after much political and moral debate-made available to people worldwide. Immortality, however, comes with its own unique problems-including evil green people, government euthanasia programs, a disturbing new religious cult, and other horrors. Witty, eerie, and full of humanity, The End Specialist is an unforgettable thriller that envisions a pre-apocalyptic world so real that it is completely terrifying.

 Thoughts: The premise of this novel is another one that sounds awesome and I recently read the first few chapters of this on a relative’s IPad, and I was enthralled by those as well – so I’ll probably pick this up at some point. Also, why do novels have to have different titles in the UK/US?

 Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz)

 

My name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – we do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluable, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England.

Now I’m a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and my world has become somewhat more complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden . . . and there’s something festering at the heart of the city I love, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair.

The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it’s falling to me to bring order out of chaos – or die trying. Which, I don’t mind telling you, would involve a hell of a lot of paperwork.  

 Thoughts: Rivers of London has been billed as Harry Potter grows up and Joins the Fuzz, and it looks really interesting. I’m always a fan of Occult-Crime novels and Rivers of London should be enjoyable. My bookshop has a copy of this, but I have a huge backlog at the moment and don’t really want to increase it, so I’ll wait until its trimmed a bit before I head out and buy it.

 Other notables that I didn’t read but probably should have: The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz, 11.22.63 by Stephen King (I own a copy), Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, Riptide by Paul S. Kemp, The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson (Still need to read all of the Mistborn novels), Echo City by Tim Lebbon, Hammer and Anvil by James Swallow, The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, Heaven’s Shadow by David Goyer and Michael Cassutt, Choices of One by Timothy Zahn, Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, Edinburgh Dead by Brian Ruckley.

 

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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