PATERNUS: WRATH OF GODS is the sequel to the extraordinarily good PATERNUS: RISE OF GODS released last year. The premise of Dyrk Ashton's excellent book is that humanity has secretly been host to a race of superhumans called the Firstborn who are the descendants of a billion year old alien called the Paternus. He is the father of all the gods and they are the inspiration for every one of them from Isis to Zeus to more commonly worshiped ones today. Facing them are the Asura, who are led by Lucifer and Shaitan and Baphomut. Which, as you can guess, makes them the bad guys.
Richard Knaak is a name in fantasy which is very dear to my heart since one of the first novels I read in my teenage years was THE LEGEND OF HUMA. Later, I would read many of his other works like THE SUNWELL TRILOGY and WAR OF THE ANCIENTS. Other than his DRAGONLANCE and WORLD OF WARCRAFT novels, I read his excellent BLACK CITY SAINT urban fantasy series.
HEAVEN'S DEVILS is better than it has any right to be and that's despite the fact it makes use of a lot of military cliches before going in unexpected directions. It's a piece of tie-fiction, which means that it must be judged on two criteria: 1. Is it entertaining to fans? 2. Is it entertaining to people who would never normally pick up a Starcraft novel. Surprisingly, it fits the criteria of being enjoyable to both and even if you have no idea who Jim Raynor is then I suggest you pick up a copy of this book. It's also persuaded me to check out William C. Dietz's other works. Well, the ones which aren't HALO or DARK FORCES which I already read (and enjoyed).
Anyone who knows me will tell you how I like my fantasy: black, gritty, and without apology. There's nothing wrong with bright and optimistic fantasy but I like it when the protagonists are bastards, the villains are monsters, and the world is not going to become a better place once the final blow is struck. It's a subgenre ("grimdark") which, despite Game of Thrones' success, which is best exemplified by indie fantasy artists like Rob J. Hayes, M.L. Spencer, Richard Nell, Michael Baker, and Michael R. Fletcher. Now Allan Batchelder.
HEMLOCK is the sequel to Jesse Teller's SONG, which is the first volume of the Manhunters series. The premise of the series is Rayph Ivoryfist is a Gandalf-style wizard who used to be the protector of his kingdom as well as the imprisoner of innumerable supernatural baddies in a magical prison. However, things go South when the king turns upon him and a mass breakout is staged which unleashes them all onto the world once more. It's a combination of fantasy and comic book supervillain plot.
CIBOLA BURN is the fourth novel of the Expanse series which I've very much enjoyed even if I've stated my preference for the TV adaptation. The Expanse's premise is it's about two hundred years in the future and humanity has not changed a bit. The rich abuse the poor, there's racial caste systems, and governments are either greedy or oppressive (or both). The first few novels were very hard science fiction but have shifted a bit with the introduction of ancient alien technology.
SATAN'S SALESMAN is a novel by Matthew Davenport set in his Broken Nights universe while also functioning as a stand-alone horror novel. The premise of the novel is a simple but effective variant on the old Faustian pact. In exchange for your immortal soul, you can have anything you desire as long as it is within the "value" of your soul (measured in points). This kind of industrialized post-Wallstreet take on the powers of Satan. In this case, it reminds me very much of the Al Pacino movie THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE which was very different from its novel.
As anyone who knows me can tell you, I'm a fan of grimdark fantasy. My definition is dark and gritty fantasy where the protagonists are morally ambiguous, nobility isn't romanticized, the villains are genuinely monstrous, war is hellish, and any gods or supernatural forces are either horrifying or ambiguous themselves. By this definition, A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE isn't completely grimdark because Jon Snow exists along with other purely good heroes.
ABADDON'S GATE is the third volume of the Expanse and while it promises many new and interesting developments, isn't one I enjoyed as much as the previous installments. That's not to say the novel isn't good but it has some flaws which made me think this series might be running out of steam. I hope I'm going to be proven wrong but the only way I can do that is to pick up the next volume.
BLIGHTED CITY is a fantasy which involves a juxtaposition of two things which you normally don't see much of: a biohazard horror setting and a fantasy world. Basically, it's a series which could best be described as THE LAST OF US, THE SHADOWS OF INNSMOUTH, meets your typical DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS dragon crawl. Even then, it's not a very good description and you could draw parallels to many other works.