This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Monster Hunters, Arcane Machines, and Blade’s Fantasy Debut

Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, by Christie Golden 
Set directly after the events of the film Rogue One, Golden’s latest Star Wars adventure finds the Empire in unfamiliar territory: on the defensive. Seeking to reestablish its primacy in the galaxy, it turns to the Inferno Squad, its most elite Imperial Soldiers. Dispatched to deal with the extremist rebels known as the Partisans via infiltration and destruction from within, the Inferno Squad knows that failure is not an option. A tense game ensues as the soldiers of Inferno Squad are tested to their limits—and beyond—by a group of rebels as ruthless and committed as the Empire they resist. If you’ve ever wondered how the Empire kept its iron grip on the galaxy, Inferno Squad is part of the answer.

The Five Daughters of the Moon, by Leena Likitalo
This debut novel offers a speculative take on the Russian revolution, rife with dark magic and arcane technology. As a revolution threatens the Crescent Empire, the Five Daughters of the Moon—the children of royalty—hold the keys to its fate. The destinies of these girls—from six-year-old Alina to Celestia, 22 and the next empress—are intertwined with the machinations of Prataslav, the ambitious advisor to the court, and his terrible invention: a “Great Thinking Machine” that can predict the future. The truth of what gives such a machine its power may bring about the end of an empire. With lush prose and a immersive sense of place, this brief, evocative work—the first half of a duology that continues with The Sisters of the Crescent Empress in November—will bring an icy chill to the summer months. 

Talon of God, by Wesley Snipes and Ray Norman 
Dr. Lauryn Jefferson is the daughter of a Baptist preacher who chose science and medicine over God while working in an ER in Chicago. When a cartel begins dealing a new drug that turns users into demons, she’s rescued not by the scalpel but by Talon Hunter, a sword-wielding, motorcycle-riding soldier of God. Powerful forces are using the drug to establish a literal Hell on Earth, and Lauryn must find her lost faith—and fast—if they’re going to prevent it. As the conspiracy to let demons infest the weak and tortured of the city is revealed, its roots are shown to go back centuries, to a group known as the Soldiers of El Elyon—men literally chosen to do God’s will on Earth. Defeating the threat will require both faith and science in equal measure.

Strange Practice, by Vivian Shaw
Shaw launches a new Victorian fantasy series featuring Dr. Greta Helsing, who makes her living supplying the undead with necessities—blood to vampires, antibiotics to ghouls, replacement bones to mummies. While simply trying to help care for the dead—and otherwise—Helsing is unwittingly caught up in the struggle against a group of supernatural monks who attack the undead and any humans they deem wicked, turning London upside-down and filling the residents—immortal and mortal alike—with terror. Greta’s particular skills and experience come in handy in the battles that come. It’s hard to resist a setup like that, and Shaw’s debut delivers all the fun and mayhem you’d expect.

Killing Is My Business, by Adam Christopher
The sequel to Christopher’s Made to Kill spins out the latest case of Ray Electromatic, the Electric Detective, and the last operational robot in 1960s Los Angeles. Ray has a 24-hour memory limit, and though he wears the trenchcoat of a noirish private eye, he’s really an assassin, taking orders from his secretary—a supercomputer named Ada, who fills him in on what he’s forgotten every day. Lately, his marks keep turning up dead before he can get to them, and when he’s hired to find out what an old man is hiding—then do him in—it begins to look like Ray’s being used as a cog in a much larger machine. Combining a solid mystery with the style and dialog of hardboiled crime novels, the Raymond Electromatic books offer a surprisingly sympathetic protagonist, considering he’s just a heartless hunk of metal and whirring memory tape.

Raid, by K.S. Merbeth
Merbeth returns with the sequel to Bite, her apocalyptic 2016 debut, putting us right back into a cannibalistic hellscape populated by roving gangs and the bounty hunters who try to stop them. Clementine is a hunter on the trail of Jedidah Johnson, the raider in control of the eastern wastes. She takes him hostage, but the organization she’s planning to deliver him to collapses and is overrun by escaped raiders. As all hell breaks loose, Clem and Ledidah must decide is they can trust one another and band together to make it out alive. Like Bite, which put us on the road with a cannibal gang, the sequel reminds us (in-between blistering action sequences) that we’re all the good guys in our own stories—if there are any good guys at all.

Wildfire, by Ilona Andrews
The third and—perhaps—final novel in Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series brings the PNR heat, alongside the same fascinating characters and worldbuilding we’ve come to expect from the husband-and-wife author duo. he series is set in an alternative present in which, a century prior, scientists developed the Osiris serum, an elixir which activated magical abilities in its users. It was taken by the rich people to consolidate their power and to soldiers for a military edge, but the propensity toward magic use ended up being hereditary. In the time since, those with powers have settled into Houses, its Prime-level magic users and their vassals occupying a separate and decidedly cutthroat legal and social structure. Andrews excels at these modern-day-with-a-twist settings, where Instagramed selfies and levitating pyro-mages can both exist quite happily. Like the world of Kate Daniels, science and magic exist together here; unlike Kate’s world, they’re stacked up on one another instead of discrete.

Age of Swords, by Michael J. Sullivan
The sequel to last year’s Age of Myth, and a continuation of the prequel series to Sullivan’s popular Riyria saga. In the first book, Dureyan clamnman Raithe accidentally killed a godlike Fhrey, and upset the balance of power across Elan, sparking a rebellion. Now, however, divisions within the Rhunes make it difficult for them to stand against their remaining enemies—and those enemies include magicians as powerful as the gods themselves. Persephone leads a group of adventurers, including the propher Suri and a Fhrey sorceress, across the sea to treat with a reclusive race of beings who may hold the key to the clans’ salvation.

The Unholy Consult, by R. Scott Bakker
This series, the second set in Bakker’s Second Apocalypse world, concludes with the fourth book. Summarizing the series is difficult at this late date; hese are epic works of grimdark fantasy, full of political intrigue and big ideas, depicting a holy war in which one side is determined to usher in a God of ultimate destruction. If you’re already onboard, this is the stunning conclusion you’ve been waiting for. If you haven’t yet dived in, you’ll want to start at the beginning, with The Darkness That Comes Before

Assassin’s Price, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
This is the 11th novel in Modesitt’s Imager Portfolio, and the third in the story arc that also includes Madness in Solidar and Treachery’s Tools. It has been six years after the High Holders attempted to rebel and were struck down. The man who planned the coup is under lock and key. Meanwhile, The son of the rex, Charyn, has grown to manhood and is determined to prepare himself to lead, and sets off on a journey to test his mettle. While he’s gone, privateers attack Solidar’s shipping fleet and an assassin attempts to murder Charyn’s brother. Suddenly, the six years’ peace seems to be coming to an end—and at the worst moment possible.Shapeshifter Mary has a map that might show them the way back to Earth, but they also make her and her companions a target for those willing to kill to obtain them. Flawed heroes and pirate attacks abound in this fast-moving quest adventure.

The White City, by Simon Morden
Morden’s second novel in the Down portal fantasy-slash-sci-fi series arrives hot on the heels of Down Station, released in June. Weeks ago, a group of London subway workers fleeing a terrible fire were transported into a primitive alternate world filled with mythic monsters, where some discovered they were gifted with fantastic abilities and other faced harsher fates. Now, Mary and Dalip are off in search of the White City in order to learn the truth about this new world, and hopefully find a way to leave it. Shapeshifter Mary has a map that might show them the way back to Earth, but they also make her and her companions a target for those willing to kill to obtain them. Flawed heroes and pirate attacks abound in this fast-moving quest adventure.

Monster Hunter: Siege, by Larry Correia 
Correia’s addictively fun, action-packed series continues with its sixth installment. Monster Hunter International’s top agent, Owen Pitt, heads off on a rescue mission to save some fellow hunters in peril, and quickly becomes involved in the agency’s biggest operation yet. The men are being held in another dimension, a nightmare world accessible only via a dangerous journey through a radioactive war zone teeming with beasties and an ancient god who doesn’t take kindly to people violating his airspace.

Star Wars Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away, by Tim Leong
You might think you know all there is to know about the Star Wars universe, but even if you routinely dominate your local pub’s sci-fi-themed trivia night, Leong’s brilliant collection of Venn diagrams, pie charts, and other visually inventive infographics will surprise you with their unique presentation and depth of information. Whether it’s a diagram of Yoda’s personality tics, an Org Chart of the Imperial Government, or other similarly business-inspired graphical representations of Imperial and Rebel info, this is truly the book for the Star Wars geeks who prefer visual learning.

What new books are you reading this week?

Follow B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy