Book Releases I’m Excited About for November, December, and January

The second half of November and December are typically slow, as the conventional wisdom is it’s too late to take advantage of the Christmas rush, but there is still a solid queue of books set for the next three months. November is all about The Wheel of Time, with the release of the long-awaited Companion and debut novels (Mystic and The Shards of Heaven) by two Wheel of Time insiders. Jason Denzel, the author of Mystic, is the founder of Dragonmount.com, the preeminent Wheel of Time fan site. Michael Livingston, the author of The Shards of Heaven and a medievalist, is known in Wheel of Time fandom for lectures on history at JordanCon. What am I most excited about? The Wheel of Time Companion (of course), Black Wolves, and The Drowning Eyes. Descriptions are copied directly from the publishers’ blurbs.

 

NOVEMBER

11/3 – The Wheel of Time Companion: The People, Places and History of the Bestselling Series by Robert Jordan and Harriet McDougal

Wheel of Time Companion cover

Since its debut in 1990, The Wheel of Time® by Robert Jordan has captivated millions of readers around the globe with its scope, originality, and compelling characters. Over the course of fifteen books and millions of words, the world that Jordan created grew in depth and complexity. However, only a fraction of what Jordan imagined ended up on the page, the rest going into his personal files.

Now The Wheel of Time Companion sheds light on some of the most intriguing aspects of the world, including biographies and motivations of many characters that never made it into the books, but helped bring Jordan’s world to life.

Included in the volume in an A-to-Z format are:

An entry for each named character
An inclusive dictionary of the Old Tongue
New maps of the Last Battle
New portraits of many characters
Histories and customs of the nations of the world
The strength level of many channelers
Descriptions of the flora and fauna unique to the world
And much more!

The Wheel of Time Companion will be required reading for The Wheel of Time’s millions of fans.

 

11/3 – Black Wolves by Kate Elliott

Black Wolves cover

An exiled captain returns to help the son of the king who died under his protection in this rich and multi-layered first book in an action-packed new series.

Twenty two years have passed since Kellas, once Captain of the legendary Black Wolves, lost his King and with him his honor. With the King murdered and the Black Wolves disbanded, Kellas lives as an exile far from the palace he once guarded with his life.

Until Marshal Dannarah, sister to the dead King, comes to him with a plea-rejoin the palace guard and save her nephew, King Jehosh, before he meets his father’s fate.

Combining the best of Shogun and Netflix’s Marco Polo, Black Wolves is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.

 

11/3 – The Builders by Daniel Polansky

Builders cover

A missing eye.
A broken wing.
A stolen country.

The last job didn’t end well.

Years go by, and scars fade, but memories only fester. For the animals of the Captain’s company, survival has meant keeping a low profile, building a new life, and trying to forget the war they lost. But now the Captain’s whiskers are twitching at the idea of evening the score.

“A living, breathing world of vivid, winsome characters hellbent on their blaze of glory and as unforgiving as a runaway train carrying all your friends over a cliff. I haven’t cared about animals this much since Watership Down.”
Delilah S. Dawson, author of Hit and Wicked as They Come

“Nobody does dark like Polansky. The Builders is Redwall meets Unforgiven, combining the endearing wit of Disney’s Robin Hood with all the grit and violence of a spaghetti western.” -Myke Cole, author of the Shadow Ops series

 

11/3 – Mystic by Jason Denzel

Mystic cover

Mystic is the start of an enchanting new epic fantasy series from Jason Denzel, the founder of Dragonmount.

I called to the Myst, and it sent us you.

For hundreds of years, high-born nobles have competed for the chance to learn of the Myst. Powerful, revered, and often reclusive, Mystics have the unique ability to summon and manipulate the Myst: the underlying energy that lives at the heart of the universe. Once in a very great while, they take an apprentice, always from the most privileged sects of society. Such has always been the tradition-until a new High Mystic takes her seat and chooses Pomella AnDone, a restless, low-born teenager, as a candidate.

Commoners have never been welcomed among the select few given the opportunity to rise beyond even the highest nobility. So when Pomella chooses to accept the summons and journey to Kelt Apar, she knows that she will have more to contend with than the competition for the apprenticeship.

Breaking both law and tradition, Pomella undergoes three trials against the other candidates to prove her worthiness. As the trials unfold, Pomella navigates a deadly world of intolerance and betrayal, unaware that ruthless conspirators intend to make her suffer for having the audacity to seek to unravel the secrets of the Myst.

 

11/17 – The Shards of Heaven by Michael Livinston

Shards of Heaven cover

Julius Caesar is dead, assassinated on the senate floor, and the glory that is Rome has been torn in two. Octavian, Caesar’s ambitious great-nephew and adopted son, vies with Marc Antony and Cleopatra for control of Caesar’s legacy.

But as civil war rages from Rome to Alexandria, and vast armies and navies battle for supremacy, a secret conflict may truly shape the course of history: two sons of Caesar have set out on a ruthless quest to find and control the Shards of Heaven, legendary artifacts said to possess the very power of the gods — or of the one God.

Caught up in these cataclysmic events, and the hunt for the Shards, are a pair of exiled Roman legionnaires, a Greek librarian of uncertain loyalties, assassins, spies, slaves . . . and the ten-year-old daughter of Cleopatra herself.

The Shards of Heaven reveals the hidden magic behind the history we know, and commences a war greater than any mere mortal battle.

 

DECEMBER

12/1 – The Rising by Ian Tregillis

Rising coverjpg

The second book in the Alchemy Wars trilogy by Ian Tregillis, an epic tale of liberation and war.

Jax, a rogue Clakker, has wreaked havoc upon the Clockmakers’ Guild by destroying the Grand Forge. Reborn in the flames, he must begin his life as a free Clakker, but liberation proves its own burden.

Berenice, formerly the legendary spymaster of New France, mastermind behind her nation’s attempts to undermine the Dutch Hegemony — has been banished from her homeland and captured by the Clockmakers Guild’s draconian secret police force.

Meanwhile, Captain Hugo Longchamp is faced with rallying the beleaguered and untested defenders of Marseilles-in-the-West for the inevitable onslaught from the Brasswork Throne and its army of mechanical soldiers.

 

12/1 – Ms. Marvel vol. 4 by G. Willow Wilson

Ms Marvel vol 4 cover

When the world is about to end, do you still keep fighting? From the moment, Kamala put on her costume, she’s been challenged, but nothing has prepared her for this: the Last Days of the Marvel Universe. Fists up, let’s do this, Jersey City. Plus a VERY special guest appearance fans have been clamoring for!

COLLECTING: MS. MARVEL 16-19, MATERIAL FROM AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 7-8

 

JANUARY

1/12 – The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster

Drowning Eyes cover

When the Dragon Ships began to tear through the trade lanes and ravage coastal towns, the hopes of the arichipelago turned to the Windspeakers on Tash. The solemn weather-shapers with their eyes of stone can steal the breeze from raiders’ sails and save the islands from their wrath. But the Windspeakers’ magic has been stolen, and only their young apprentice Shina can bring their power back and save her people.

Tazir has seen more than her share of storms and pirates in her many years as captain, and she’s not much interested in getting involved in the affairs of Windspeakers and Dragon Ships. Shina’s caught her eye, but that might not be enough to convince the grizzled sailor to risk her ship, her crew, and her neck.

“The Drowning Eyes is a magic- and wind-filled adventure, peopled with excellent and strong characters. The story made me want to sail the coastline on a boat of my own and see if I could call up a storm. In Emily Foster’s debut novella, apprentice Windspeaker Shina must return her people’s power to them before the Dragon Ships destroy everything . . . unless Shina destroys it by accident first. So vividly rendered, you’ll be tempted to wash the salt-spray from your clothing after reading The Drowning Eyes.” – Fran Wilde, author of Updraft

 

1/26 – City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Blades cover

A triumphant return to the world of City of Stairs.

A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions.

Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten.

At least, it makes the perfect cover story.

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world–or destroy it.

The trouble is that this old soldier isn’t sure she’s still got what it takes to be the hero.

 

1/26 – The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson

Bands of Mourning cover

My reviews of The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self are here and here, respectively.

The #1 New York Times bestselling author returns to the world of Mistborn with the follow-up to Shadows of Self

With The Alloy of Law and Shadows of Self, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a New York Times bestselling spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America.

Now, with The Bands of Mourning, Sanderson continues the story. The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metalminds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

 

NONFICTION

11/10 – The Great Surge: The Ascent of the Developing World by Steven Radelet

Great Surge cover

The untold story of the global poor today: A distinguished expert and advisor to developing nations reveals how we’ve reduced poverty, increased incomes, improved health, curbed violence, and spread democracy—and how to ensure the improvements continue.

We live today at a time of great progress for the global poor. Never before have so many people, in so many developing countries, made so much progress. Most people believe the opposite: that with a few exceptions like China and India, the majority of developing countries are hopelessly mired in deep poverty, led by inept dictators, and living with pervasive famine, widespread disease, constant violence, and little hope for change. But a major transformation is underway—and has been for two decades now. Since the early 1990s more than 700 million people have been lifted out of extreme poverty, six million fewer children die every year from disease, tens of millions more girls are in school, millions more people have access to clean water, and democracy—often fragile and imperfect—has become the norm in developing countries around the world.

The Great Surge tells the remarkable story of this unprecedented economic, social, and political transformation. It shows how the end of the Cold War, the development of new technologies, globalization, courageous local leadership, and in some cases, good fortune, have combined to dramatically improve the fate of hundreds of millions of people in poor countries around the world. Most importantly, The Great Surge reveals how we can fight the changing tides of climate change, resource demand, economic and political mismanagement, and demographic pressures to accelerate the political, economic, and social development that has been helping the poorest of the poor around the world.

 

12/1 – Conquerors: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire by Roger Crowley

Conquerors cover

In Empires of the Sea and City of Fortune, New York Times bestselling author Roger Crowley established himself as our generation’s preeminent historian of the great European seafaring empires, and the go-to author for post-Crusade clashes of East and West. Now, in Conquerors, Crowley gives us the epic story of the emergence of Portugal, a small, poor nation that enjoyed a century of maritime supremacy thanks to the daring and navigational skill of its explorers—a tactical advantage no other country could match. Portugal’s discovery of a sea route to India, campaign of imperial conquest over Muslim rulers, and domination of the spice trade would forever disrupt the Mediterranean and build the first global economy.

Crowley relies on letters and eyewitness testimony to tell the story of tiny Portugal’s rapid and breathtaking rise to power. Conquerors reveals the Império Português in all of its splendor and ferocity, bringing to life the personalities of the enterprising and fanatical house of Aviz. Figures such as King Manuel “the Fortunate,” João II “the Perfect Prince,” marauding governor Afonso de Albuquerque, and explorer Vasco da Gama juggled their private ambitions and the public aims of the empire, often suffering astonishing losses in pursuit of a global fortune. Also central to the story of Portugal’s ascent was its drive to eradicate Islamic culture and establish a Christian empire in the Indian Ocean. Portuguese explorers pushed deep into the African continent in search of the mythical Christian king Prester John, and they ruthlessly besieged Indian port cities in their attempts to monopolize trade.

The discovery of a route to India around the horn of Africa was not only a brilliant breakthrough in navigation but heralded a complete upset of the world order. For the next century, no European empire was more ambitious, no rulers more rapacious than the kings of Portugal. In the process they created the first long-range maritime empire and set in motion the forces of globalization that now shape our world. At Crowley’s hand, the complete story of the Portuguese empire and the human cost of its ambition can finally be told.

 

1/26 – The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History by Tonio Andrade

Gunpowder Age cover

The Chinese invented gunpowder and began exploring its military uses as early as the 900s, four centuries before the technology passed to the West. But by the early 1800s, China had fallen so far behind the West in gunpowder warfare that it was easily defeated by Britain in the Opium War of 1839-42. What happened? In The Gunpowder Age, Tonio Andrade offers a compelling new answer, opening a fresh perspective on a key question of world history: why did the countries of western Europe surge to global importance starting in the 1500s while China slipped behind?

Historians have long argued that gunpowder weapons helped Europeans establish global hegemony. Yet the inhabitants of what is today China not only invented guns and bombs but also, as Andrade shows, continued to innovate in gunpowder technology through the early 1700s–much longer than previously thought. Why, then, did China become so vulnerable? Andrade argues that one significant reason is that it was out of practice fighting wars, having enjoyed nearly a century of relative peace, since 1760. Indeed, he demonstrates that China–like Europe–was a powerful military innovator, particularly during times of great warfare, such as the violent century starting after the Opium War, when the Chinese once again quickly modernized their forces. Today, China is simply returning to its old position as one of the world’s great military powers.

By showing that China’s military dynamism was deeper, longer lasting, and more quickly recovered than previously understood, The Gunpowder Age challenges long-standing explanations of the so-called Great Divergence between the West and Asia.

 

(Copies of The Builders, The Shards of Heaven, A Cold War, and Conquerors have been provided to me by the respective publishers.)

 

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About H.P.

Blogs on speculative fiction books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday.
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