Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Anticipated releases for 2009...

Anticipation is already building ahead of what promises to be a huge year for fantasy, with a slew of big novels slated for release (several of which were meant to surface this year). As readers and bloggers are already starting to discuss which titles they're looking forward to, I thought I may as well do the same. Here then are some 2009 releases that have got me rubbing my hands together in an unnerving manner and giggling slightly hysterically...

A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

The big one. I don't think anyone can deny that this is the release of 2009. That's if it gets released of course. Several years in the making now, this next volume in the Ice and Fire saga perhaps carries even more weight given that its predecessor, A Feast for Crows, was not received as well as the series' previous instalments.

For many readers - myself included - Feast was a bit of a disappointment, with the exclusion of several major characters and plotlines a controversial sticking-point. For the first time, some readers began to express doubts: was Martin getting bogged down in the storyline? Was he including two many POV characters? Was the series losing focus? To some extent, Martin is the victim of his own success: A Storm of Swords is arguably the finest epic fantasy ever written, so it was inevitable that the follow-up would fail to reach this lofty height.

With Dance, Martin has a chance to set the record straight and show that he's still in control of the series. Fortunately, this novel will focus on characters and events in the Summer Sea and beyond, as well as up in the bitter north, all of which were sorely absent from the previous novel. Hopefully Martin will deliver a belter of a book and get the best epic fantasy series of all time firmly back on track.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Make or break time for Scott Lynch. The Lies of Locke Lamora was a brilliant debut novel; an imaginative and amusing veneer, concealing a steel centre. It was quite simply excellent entertainment. Red Seas Under Red Skies, by contrast, was over-long with a clumsy plot that plodded along for several hundred pages before being resolved in a mere twenty or so at the end. Flashes of Lynch's imagination were revealed here and there, but the novel was - for many - a disappointment.

So, one excellent novel and one average novel. This third instalment should give us some indication of which way the series is going to go. The horrifically amateurish blurb that surfaced a while ago gave away a number of needless spoilers, so we have some idea of the storyline (too much of an idea, in truth) but hopefully Lynch can spring some surprises. Republic was due out this year but Lynch was late with the manuscript, so it's been delayed. Hopefully it will be worth the wait...

Dragonfly Falling by Adrian Tchaikovsky

As mentioned in my recent review, I really enjoyed Tchaikovsky's epic fantasy debut Empire in Black and Gold, which combined solid world-building with strong characters and a well-worked plot. The next book in the Shadows of the Apt sequence is already written and due for release next year. It could well cement Tchaikovsky's place as one of the UK's most exciting new fantasists.

Some other books (that as of yet don't have front covers!) that I'm looking forward to:

Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton

This is Tor UK's epic fantasy debut release for 2009, and having been fortunate enough to read the first few chapters I can say that it sounds very promising. Somewhere between Erikson and MiƩville in terms of style, it's a more literate fantasy than many offerings we see these days. It's due out around June and is definitely one to watch. Mark talks a bit about his upcoming novel on his blog.

The Cold Commands by Richard Morgan

The sequel to The Steel Remains, which I thought was a really decent fantasy. Am looking forward to perhaps seeing a bit more of a plot in the second one, as well as plenty of sex and violence. :)

Starfinder by John Marco

Marco's first book aimed at a younger demographic, Starfinder has a really intriguing premise and promises a rich, dynamic world. Marco is one of fantasy's more innovative writers, so I'm looking forward to see what he serves up with this one.

Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

Abercrombie is one of fantasy's most recent and significant success stories, with his The First Law trilogy receiving much critical acclaim. But the question now is can he replicate this success with a stand-alone novel? Will his new cast of characters prove to be as enthralling as his last bunch? Should be interesting to see how this one turns out.

Feel free to comment on your own anticipated reads for 2009!


T.D. Newton said...

I'm reading A Feast for Crows now, so it's kind of sad to hear that it was a disappointment. I have enjoyed the first 3 books so much but I definitely noticed a change in this one immediately, considering he started of focusing on Dorne rather than the Winterfell brats. Maybe the readers would rather have Martin focus his attention on certain characters at the sacrifice of others, I know I felt this way with Danaerys in the first two books, but I'm confident that he knows what he's doing as far as the "size" of the story. We'll see what happens.

As far as Lynch is concerned, I disagree on the disappointment around Red Seas Under Red Skies, but I understand that my opinion doesn't rule the world. I did enjoy the book tremendously from start to finish, though I couldn't understand how the series could extend to 7 books if Locke is poisoned at the end of the 2nd. Kind of takes the punch out of worrying.

And Joe Abercrombie... it's hard to say this but I actually did feel a bit of disappointment when I finished up Last Argument of Kings the other night. Mostly because the ending didn't feel like a big "hurrah." It tied up the loose ends very well, and his style and characterization is nigh on incomparable, but the ending just left me unsatisfied. I'll definitely be looking forward to Best Served Cold, whenever it is available here in the US (or if I make it up to Toronto, possibly sooner).

The rest I will have to take an initial look at but thanks for posting a reminder of what's on its way. It's exciting that I even knew SOME of these things, considering they're among the "next best" in the genre. Yay for being plugged in, I suppose, and not stuck in the past.

James said...

Good post TD. Yeah, the change in Feast is pretty clear right from the word go...it's different thematically from the earlier novels. Not everyone dislikes it though, so perhaps you'll be one of them.

As for Lynch, opinion seemed split - plenty of folks liked Red Seas and some even preferred it to Lies, so that's fair enough.

Joe Abercrombie...I've changed my mind about Last Argument but I'll leave that for another time...suffice to say I'm intrigued to see what he conjures up this time around.

gav (nextread.co.uk) said...

God I can't even think about 2009 I'm still swamped with the excellent stuff that's coming out in 2008, with a bit of 2007, 2006....etc thrown in!

Though I am excited by the new books from Mark Chadbourn, The Lord of Silence and Destroyer of Worlds. Both out in August!

James said...

Gav: yeah, Chadbourn's got loads of books coming out soon! I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye out for them, though no concrete release dates as of yet (I don't think).

Jebus said...

This year has gone so quick and I've been reading so slowly!

Lynch, Abercrombie, Martin, Erikson, and Morgan - looking forward to all and sundry equally and I have enjoyed ALL of their books.