THE FIFTH EMPIRE OF MAN is the sequel to Rob J. Hayes WHERE LOYALTIES LIE and they are some of the few fantasy pirate novels on the market today. Unlike the Pirates of the Carribean movies, the Best Laid Plans series is a hard R series with murder, mayhem, cussing, and the kind of behavior you'd expect from a collection of pirates. It's grimdark fiction and that's something I like a great deal, especially as George R.R. Martin doesn't seem to be finishing his books anytime soon and I hate what they did to the Iron Islands in the television show.
The Easytown series by Brian Parker is one of the most underrated cyberpunk series presently in production. Cyberpunk hit its heyday in the late 80s/early 90s with William Gibson popularizing the genre with Neuromancer before the Matrix sequels effectively killed it. Actually, I have another theory that technology, the internet, black hat hackers, corporate control, government surveillance, and tranhumanism made the subject no longer science fiction but just an accurate description of 21st century life.
THE STATEMENT OF ANDREW DORAN is a Indiana Jones versus H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos novel with the titular character standing in for Doctor Jones. Andrew Doran is an adventurer archaeologist who was fired from Miskatonic University for suggesting they should maybe not openly share the supernatural books that have the power to destroy the world. Also, the fact he's a smug git. Unfortunately, Andrew Doran is needed because the Nazis have stolen the Necronomicon and plan to use its power to win the war.
MERCURY'S SON by Luke Hindmarsh is a Blade Runner-esque dystopian science fiction tale about conspiracies, technology, religious fanatics, and a series of gruesome murders. In other words, it is a book that is exactly up my alley. How much did I enjoy it? I enjoyed so much I've read it twice.
TEARS OF A CLONE is the second book in the Easytown Novels, which chronicle the adventures of a Deckard-esque detective named Zach Forrest as he does the Homicide Beat in a future New Orleans' Red Light District. I really enjoyed the first novel, THE IMMORALITY CLAUSE, and while I have some issues with the sequel, I think it's quite entertaining throughout.
THE COURT OF BROKEN KNIVES is the debut novel of Anna Smith Sparks and one of the best new works of dark fantasy I've seen. I'm intrigued by these new characters, her world, and how they play off of one another. Having just finished this book after finishing Deborah A. Wolf's THE DRAGON'S LEGACY and Anna Stephen's GODBLIND, it's difficult to say which is the best of the three debut novels this year. I did have some issues with the book and its characters but they were balanced out by how unexpected the directions their stories went.
DARKLANDS is the third volume of the Rhenwars Saga by M.L. Spencer, a series I've very much enjoyed. I've referred to it as "The Anti-Wheel of Time" and I think that's a fairly good description of it. It's a series which takes a typical battle between good and evil, epic romances, Chosen Ones, and Forsaken wizards then turns it all on its head. The fact the Wheel of Time did some of this itself doesn't prevent the Rhenwars Saga from serving as an effective critique. I also appreciate the books don't take forever to each their conclusion.
IRON KISSED is the third volume of the Mercy Thompson series about a Volkswagen auto-mechanic living in Washington State with her oddball collection of supernatural friends. Mercedes Thompson is a great character as she represents the best in what I consider to be "working class heroines." Characters who remain grounded enough in the quote-unquote real world that you can imagine them as real people in addition to their "normal" adventures.
FAITHLESS is a story which has already been reviewed on this site a few times but I feel the need to add my own two cents regarding. It is a short self-contained fantasy novel which tells a story of religion, corruption, faith, lack of faith, and greed. I'm familiar with Graham Austin King's work from his excellent Riven Wyrde Saga, which is a story about how corrupt evil fairies invade a fantasy world in order to enslave us as breeding stock as well as slaves. I really enjoyed that trilogy so I was a first day buyer for this one. I should mention I received a free copy of the book for my first review of it but purchased and re-read it for this review.
I reviewed the prequel for the Rhenwars Saga and found it to be an enjoyable epic which told a complete story from beginning to end. Despite this, it very is a "saga" and that means more books in the series with new characters and groups. This is an interesting way of doing a series and one which intrigued me even as I also felt the absence of several characters I loved from Darkstorm.