Lots of promising titles are just pinging my radar

For some reason, I’m suddenly noticing a lot of titles that are due out this year, or sometimes have been out for a little while.

I mean, this just appeared on one of Amazon’s “Maybe you’d be interested” lists:

Why, yes, I would indeed be interested.

Is that how you visualized a tsalmoth? (DID you visualize a tsalmoth?)

Although I would have said I have never particularly visualized a tsalmoth, I didn’t expect it to be so very bear-like. Also, I sort of think the proportions are funny. Doesn’t the head look really small compared to that front leg?

What is the line for tsalmoths? It’s “Tsalmoth maintains though none knows how,” and I’m astonished I remembered that, but it came right up to the top of my memory when I tried to call it to mind. Maybe the creature is supposed to be kind of a ground sloth! That would be neat! There’s no particular reason to think ground sloths were a lot slower than bears, but I can see how the word “sloth” might make someone think slow and lead to that kind of line.

All right, so do we recall where Vlad was at the end of the previous book? Though you never know, Brust might decide to do another prequel. I would rather move forward. Let’s see what the description says:

First comes love. Then comes marriage…

Vlad Taltos is in love. With a former assassin who may just be better than he is at the Game. Women like this don’t come along every day and no way is he passing up a sure bet. So a wedding is being planned. Along with a shady deal gone wrong and a dead man who owes Vlad money. Setting up the first and trying to deal with the second is bad enough. And then bigger powers decide that Vlad is the perfect patsy to shake the power structure of the kingdom. More’s the pity that his soul is sent walkabout to do it.

How might Vlad get his soul back and have any shot at a happy ending? Well, there’s the tale…

Oh, that certainly sounds like a prequel! Worse, a prequel centered around Cawti, whom I do not care for because of the way her story played out and most particularly because Tecka was surely the worst book Brust has ever written and one of the worst series installments in any long-running series by anyone ever. Not that I feel strongly about this or anything.

Tsalmoth is out as a preorder, due to drop this April, and therefore there are no reviews at Amazon. Let me poke at google … yes, there are a few reviews at Goodreads. Yes, definitely a prequel, set a bit after Yendi and before Jhereg. Of course those were the first two books published and also arguably the best and ALSO a very good place to start, so if I were advising someone new to the series, I would probably suggest:

Forget publication order. Read the books in this order: Taltos, Yendi, Dragon, Tsalmoth, Jhereg and stop. The links go to collections that contain these books, among others. Library Thing has a list in chronological order.

OR if not going in strict internal chronological order, then maybe this order: Jhereg, Taltos, Yendi, Dragon, Tsalmoth, and re-read Jhereg. That’s because Jhereg is a really good starting point plus would probably be fun to re-read after getting back to that point in time. But the above is chronological order within the story world and also a good order in which to read the books. AND the next book along is Tekla and I would strongly advice readers to SKIP TECKLA and NEVER READ IT, that’s how bad a taste it left in my mouth. Yes, events there are referenced later, but so what, leave those events in backstory and assume Cawti broke up with Vlad because she went moderately nutty and move on.

Meanwhile, look at this: Barbara Hambly has been writing stuff and I have missed it until now. I think again something new of hers popped up as an Amazon suggestion, and their algorithms are doing pretty well, because sure, tell me about these books, by all means!

Scandal in Babylon, first of a historical duology, the second of which comes out next week. This looks VERY MUCH like a historical mystery that is actually a version of Bride of the Rat God I mean, look:

1924. After six months in Hollywood, young British widow Emma Blackstone has come to love her new employer, glamourous movie-star Kitty Flint – even if her late husband’s sister is one of the worst actresses she’s ever seen. Looking after Kitty and her three adorable Pekinese dogs isn’t work Emma dreamed of, but Kitty rescued her when she was all alone in the world. Now, the worst thing academically-minded Emma has to worry about is the shocking historical inaccuracies of the films Kitty stars in. Until, that is, Rex Festraw – Kitty’s first husband, to whom she may or may not still be married – turns up dead in her dressing room, a threatening letter seemingly from Kitty in his pocket. Emma’s certain her flighty but kind-hearted sister-in-law has been framed. But who by? And why? From spiteful rivals to jealous boyfriends, the suspects are numerous. But as Emma investigates, she begins to untangle a deadly plot – and there’s something Kitty’s not telling her . . .

That set up is VERY similar to Bride of the Rat God, which is, by the way, an excellent historical fantasy novel. The ridiculous title draws heavily on the ridiculous titles of B-grade horror movies of the era, that’s the whole point, but probably that title did not help sales. But, I mean, compare the above description to this:

 It is 1923, and silent film reigns in Hollywood. Of all the starlets, none is more beloved than Chrysanda Flamande, a diva as brilliant as she is difficult to manage. Handling her falls to Norah, widow of Chrysanda’s dead brother. She has always done her job well, but she was never equipped to deal with murder. When a violent killing shocks Chrysanda’s entourage, and other weird happenings swiftly follow, Norah begins to suspect that some strange power is stalking the star.

And although this doesn’t mention the three Pekingese, they are very much here, and excellent little dogs they are, too. Plus Crysandra is not brilliant. She’s a terrible actress, though a very nice person, so it sounds like she’s a LOT like Kitty. I’m wondering now whether Hambly felt compelled to write a fantasy because that’s the genre she was already writing, and so tilted a historical into the realm of fantasy, but maybe she always felt like she would prefer it as a straight historical mystery. That’s possible. That would be a bit like Marta Randall, turning Sword of Winter into Mapping Winter. The original was good, the revised version was better, and I’m sorry to note that there’s no third book yet listed for Mapping Winter. I would certainly be interested in that. Perhaps Amazon will show it to me if that ever gets written.

Anyway, in general I think Barbara Hambly writes really good historicals, whether they’re straight up mysteries like the ones featuring Abigail Adams and published under the name “Barbara Hamilton” or suspense/mysteries like the Benjamin January series or the vampire historicals. She’s a fine writer. I’m definitely interested.

But that’s not all. Because check this out: a new fantasy novel that just dropped a week ago.

I did not see that coming. I thought she was done with straight fantasy.

Clea’s only hope to save her people is a wizard who retains his power, one who will not betray her, either to the great merchant houses or to the all-entangling web of the Crystal Mages. But that wizard—Ithrazel the Cursed, destroyer of a city and magically imprisoned to suffer undying, unremitting torment—wants nothing to do with saving the world, helping a hero, or unraveling the terrible secret at the heart of the Crystal Mages’ plans.

This looks unconnected to any other fantasy world of hers. I wonder if this is an older book which she recently decided to bring out.

Coming up is something else interesting: Translation State by Ann Leckie, and if you immediately thought of the Presger translators, yes.

Qven was created to be a Presger translator. The pride of their Clade, they always had a clear path before them: learn human ways, and eventually, make a match and serve as an intermediary between the dangerous alien Presger and the human worlds. The realization that they might want something else isn’t “optimal behavior”. It’s the type of behavior that results in elimination. 

The Presger translators were a tremendously cool feature of the Ancillary Justice trilogy. This book is dropping in June. I’m certainly interested, though not enough to preorder it for $15 when I have 400 other titles on my virtual TBR pile already. Even so, very interesting and I look forward to hearing what people think of it.

Then, Later in the year, guess what’s out? Defiance, the 22nd Foreigner book is dropping this fall.

There’s no cover yet, alas. Still, that’s good to see.

Though I hope I enjoy this book, I would like to see CJC end this particular storyline and move on in the world. I stand by my suggestion that she tie the current series up with a nice bow, step forward in time, have the Dowager have died of extreme old age, have Bren as a mentor rather than a pov character, and allow the children, particularly Cajeiri and Irene, step up and take center stage. I admittedly feel that way partly because I was, as you may recall, unimpressed by the 20th book in the series and the 21st book, though better, could not, for me, rescue the extreme plotting discontinuity between the 19th and 20th books. Therefore, I would prefer to see CJC go 20-21-22, tie up this internal trilogy, and MOVE ON.

I should add, not like I would refuse to continue the series if she doesn’t do it that way. Unless she has another hard-fail in continuity, and then I might finally and very reluctantly quit, even though this is my favorite long SF series by a lot. I could give away the last three books and treat this as a 19-book series.

However, I hope she continues this world in some way that I appreciate.

You know, I suddenly realized, I could not possibly make that kind of dire continuity mistake. You all would never let that happen. I don’t think I would do that anyway — I do re-read series novels as I continue the series — but it’s actually good to know you would not let me get away with that.

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11 thoughts on “Lots of promising titles are just pinging my radar”

  1. I am finding the Hambly fantasy very slow going. I picked it up at publication, and keep setting it aside. It shows 50% read on kindle, and I haven’t picked it up in two weeks. So far it’s unrelentingly grim, with nearly all the world enslaved by brutal wizards.

  2. Oh no! You’re making me think of the absolutely awful sequels to Dragonsbane!

    No no no!

    I’m not sure I’m ever going to read it, if Hambly took it in that kind of unrelentingly grim direction.

  3. Noooo, not a prequel with more Cawti! Darn it. I love Lady Teldra and want to see what happens when she wakes up.

  4. Notice from a preview on Facebook that Sharon Shinn’s writing the Hunti book for the Elemental Blessings series and expects it to come out later this year! I’d stopped hoping…

  5. Yes, I think she mentioned that to me, Kristi! Sharon apparently finds this series hard to write, which is interesting. It’s sometimes baffling what turns out to be easy vs difficult, but I have to say, from the outside, they certainly work well. I particularly like that world because it’s got such comfortable metaphysics. I enjoy how they’re all elemental blessings — there’s no way to draw anything actually bad.

    I’m glad she’s doing another one and happy to hear it’s coming out relatively soon.

  6. I would like to mention Martha Wells’ new fantasy novel Witch King (May 30) and Melissa Scott’s new fantasy Master of Samar (June 5), not sure the Scott is up for preorder yet but there’s a cover and blurb reveal up on the blog of the publisher small press Candlemark & Gleam! Also both of them have SF novels out this fall too, a new Murderbot (short novel I think) for Wells and a distant prequel to Finders for Scott (not much info out on that yet, it’s also from Candlemark & Gleam though!)

  7. Thanks, Sandstone! I knew I was missing something: Witch King was definitely what I was trying to pull out of my memory! The Scott I didn’t know about.

    And of course I’m very much looking forward to the new Murderbot story.

  8. Garth Nix has written a sequel to LHBSoL, set in alternate London and Bath, Dec 10-24, 1983. (The first book is set seven months earlier.)
    And I expect to have a delightful weekend reading. Next weekend, it’ll be time to start the early spring vegetables (peas, parsley, lettuce.)

  9. I am looking forward to The Witch King.

    I am also looking forward to The Helios Syndrome by Vivian Shaw. I liked her Greta Halsing series. I usually don’t care much for urban fantasies with vampires etc., but Shaw slid past that with a competent, practical heroine anchored in reality. The new novella looks like it might have a similar flavor. The hero is a freelance necromancer working for the National Transportation Safety Board on a case with a plane gone missing.

  10. Vanessa Nelson is another author that I have found who has interesting characters, low key romance, competency in spades, and just all around comfort reading. Her Ageless Mystery series finished up and she’s started a new series, the first one being ‘Outcast’. Free on kindle unlimited.

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