Thanks to Neth for reminding me about this one, which slipped my mind and so didn't make it onto yesterday's list.
By Ari Marmell
(Spectra, 23 February 2010)
"They called him the Terror of the East. His past shrouded in mystery, his identity hidden beneath a suit of enchanted black armor and a skull-like helm, Corvis Rebaine carved a bloody path through Imphallion, aided by Davro, a savage ogre, and Seilloah, a witch with a taste for human flesh. No shield or weapon could stop his demon-forged axe. And no magic could match the spells of his demon slave, Khanda.
Yet just when ultimate victory was in his grasp, Rebaine faltered. His plans of conquest, born from a desire to see Imphallion governed with firmness and honesty, shattered. Amid the chaos of a collapsing army, Rebaine vanished, taking only a single hostage—the young noblewoman Tyannon—to guarantee his escape.
Seventeen years later, Rebaine and Tyannon are married, living in obscurity and raising their children, a daughter and a son. Rebaine has put his past behind him, given up his dreams of conquest. Not even news of Audriss—an upstart warlord following Rebaine’s old path of conquest—can stir the retired warrior to action.
Until his daughter is assaulted by Audriss’s goons.
Now, to rescue the country he once tried to conquer, Rebaine once more dons the armor of the Terror of the East and seeks out his former allies. But Davro has become a peaceful farmer. Seilloah has no wish to leave her haunted forest home. And Khanda . . . well, to describe his feelings for his former master as undying hatred would be an understatement.
But even if Rebaine can convince his onetime comrades to join him, he faces a greater challenge: Does he dare to reawaken the part of him that gloried in cruelty, blood, and destruction? With the safety of his family at stake, can he dare not to?"
I quite like the sound of this one, there's something quite Gemmellian about it - the old, flawed hero coming out of retirement to right a few wrongs. Plus 'Corvus Rebaine' is a cool name, so you know he's going to get medieval on a few asses. The cover's striking as well, which will do the book no harm at all (the burning trees are a nice touch). Although it does rather look like someone's just launched a ripe tomato at the dude with the helmet, and it's just exploded against his shoulder-guard. Question - would YOU throw a tomato at a guy wearing spiked armour and carrying a helmet shaped like a SKULL? Well? I know I wouldn't.
In all seriousness though, this does look like it could be a good debut - will most likely check it out.