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Gollancz September 2015 Paperbacks

Gollancz paperback of the Month for September is Richard Morgan's The Dark Defiles, conclusion to the incredible series A land fit for Heroes.

Following on from The Steel Remains and The Cold Commands, The Dark Defiles is epic fantasy in every sense of the word. A fitting conclusion to one of the great "dark" fantasy series of the 21st Century, absolutely not to be missed. Perfect for anyone looking for fantasy with a hard-edge.

Joe Abercrombie praised the series:

Bold, brutal and making no compromises — Morgan doesn't so much twist the clichés of fantasy as take an axe to them.

Also out in paperback is Sam Sykes latest novel, The City Stained Red. The first novel in the Scions Gate series and following the characters from the earlier Aeons' Gate series, The City Stained Red see's Lenk and his fellow mercanaries / adventurers caught in the middle of a religous war, racial hatred and a scourge of demons from beyond. Sam writes in an intelligent, engaging and above all accessible manner. His works often deconstruct the fantasy stereotypes. He also injects a wonderfully wicked sense of humour in all his novels and The City Stained Red is no exception.

Sarah Canary is written by Karen Joy Fowler, the author behind the hit novels We are all completely beside ourselves and The Jane Austen book club. Sarah Canary was the authors first novel and originally published to critical acclaim in 1991. Set in the "old west" of 1873 It tells the tales the story of a group of alienated people experiencing a strange type of first contact situation and examines those peoples reactions and the result of the encounter. Its a wonderfully accessible and yet deep, insightful novel as moving as it is unusual.

 

Fish Tails is an extraordinary new novel from one of science fictions finest authors, Sheri S Tepper. Two of the authors most-loved characters Abasio and Xulai and their children travel from village to village looking for those who might adopt their sea-dwelling lifestyle. This selfless task is made more vital by the fact that the waters of the planet are rising and will before long consume the planet.

The book cleverly weaves together the storylines from no less than eleven of her books from the King’s Blood Four (published in 1983) to The Waters Rising (published in 2010).

Nick and the Glimmung is the only childrens book written by Philip K Dick and has been out of print for far too long. Thankfully this month Gollancz have re-published this little gem which see's Nick and his family leave Earth following a ruling that bans all pets from the planet. They settle with cat Horace on "Plowman's Planet" where they discover a variety of strange and wonderful alien lifeforms.

Worlds of Exile and Illusion is an Omnibus of Ursula K LeGuin's first three novels in her revered Hanish Universe.  Rocannon's World see's Intergalactic war reach the Formalhaut II system, a space opera with many elements taken from high fantasy. Planet of Exile is set on the third planet of the gamma draconis system and follows the young girl Rolery as she visits the alien city of the "farborns" and the false-men. City of Illusions brings the story to Earth, albeit a post-apocalyptic version of our blue-green planet following "The Shing's" occupation. Humanity is thinly spread and live in small, separated communities and nomadic tribes. The story follows a stranger with no memory found wondering in the people's woods.

The Fantasy Masterworks entry this month is The Anvil of Ice by Michael Scott Rohan. The Anvil of Ice tells the story of young cowherd Alv, an orphan who is persecuted by the townsfolk due to his visibly different ethnic origins. The town is attacked by the maurading Ekwesh and Alva captured. He is saved from a life of slavery by the mysterious "Mastersmith" who see's hidden depths in the young man, including the strange power to shape metal. Legendary author Andre Norton has been quoted as saying of the book:

I consider The Anvil of Ice to be an outstanding piece of fantasy fiction, leaving one eager to welcome the second book in the series.

Joining the vaunted halls of the SF Masterworks is Dying of the light by George RR Martin, best known for killing all your favourite characters in the Game of Thrones series. Dying of the Light was the authors first novel and was nominated for both the Hugo and British Fantasy awards. The novel is set within the same fictional universe as a number of the authors stories including the novellas With Morning Comes Mistfall and A Song for Lya.

The story takes place on the dying rogue planet Worlorn which is on an irreversable journey into the cold dark of deep space away from the red giant star it still erratically orbits. The 14 cities of this planet are dying and have largely been abandoned. The relationships of many of the cast seem to be in a state of decay and the chance of anyone actually surviving the book are about the same as the authors later works. No surprises for guessing that this book is about dying, a theme the author seems fond of. The title of the novel is of course taken from one of my favourite poems, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas, which unsurprisingly is also about death.

Despite the subject matter, it is an incredible work of fiction and moved Michael Chabon to say of it:

Dying of the Light blew the doors off my idea of what fiction could be and could do, what a work of unbridled imagination could make a reader feel and believe.