This Week’s New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: A Trip to Black London, the End of the Empire, and a Troll’s Tale

A Conjuring of Light, by V.E. Schwab
Fans of Schwab’s Shades of Magic series have been enduring an agonizing for the final book ever since A Gathering of Shadows revealed who the real villain was, and what they wanted—and then, you know, ended. A Conjuring of Light will bring to a close this part of Schwab’s transporting tale of parallel Londons—non-magical Grey London, magical Red London, magic-challenged White London, and doomed, magic-poisoned Black London—and the gifted magicians (not all of them good) who can travel between them. Fans have been pining for resolution of the relationship between hardscrabble thief Delilah Bard and Kell, the last traveler of Red London. If the first two installments are any indication, Schwab will take the story in directions no one is anticipating.

Kings of the Wyld, by Nicholas Eames
Eames slams The Wild Bunch into a fantasy universe that’s equal parts grit, broadswords, fast-paced action, and humor. Clay Cooper and his band of mercenaries, once the most feared and successful hired hands in the realm, have gone to seed. Old, drunk and growing soft around the middle, they’re a shadow of their former selves. But when an old friend begs Clay for helping saving his daughter, trapped in a besieged city about to be swarmed by a bloodthirsty enemy, Clay can’t say no. He’s getting the band back together, whether they’re ready or not.

Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End, by Chuck Wendig
Bridging the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, Wendig closes out his own trilogy of books set in the galaxy far, far away. An entity as huge and powerful as the Empire can’t be destroyed simply by blowing up a single superweapon and assassinating its Sith leaders. The remnants of the Empire still control fleets and worlds, and Grand Admiral Rae Sloane, working with the treacherous Gallius Rax, engineer a devastating counterstrike against the fledgling Republic. Veteran rebel pilot Norra Wexley is drafted by Leia Organa to pursue the war criminals, and she is more than glad to do so because of a personal connection to the Empire’s bloody attack. It all comes down to the barren planet of Jakku, where a final confrontation between the Republic and the old Empire looms—and where Wexley hopes to have her revenge.

Pathfinder Tales: Through the Gate in the Sea, by Howard Andrew Jones
Another action-packed sword & sorcery adventure set in the world of the Pathfinder RPG finds regular series contributor Howard Andrew Jones (Beyond the Pool of Stars) unpacking another high-concept, seriously fun, mostly standalone premise (this one is a rare sequel for the Pathfinder Tales, but works if you haven’t read Beyond… too): sea salvager Mirian Raas sets sail with the crew of the Daughter of the Mist to locate a magical island that is the lost home to a race of lizard people. Along the way, she must face off against old enemies seeking revenge and a deathless child-king seeking a powerful magical object, an heirloom of the lizard people’s, and vital to their survival.

Cold Counsel, by Chris Sharp
A post-Ragnarock tale of vengeance, violence, wisdom, wit, and war, Chris Sharp’s debut follows the early exploits of Slud, son of the last chief of the Blood Claw Clan of mighty trolls who lived atop a mountain. Slud’s birth spurs his father to spread the Clan and reclaim the mountain as theirs. While the attacks are glorious, they fail. The elves and goblins of the land strike the entire Clan down. Only Slud escapes, smuggled out by a hag by the name of Aunt Agnes, who tutors, trains, and torments him, filling his mind with stories of revenge. One day, Slud strikes out on his own, strong on magics and bloodshed, on a quest to rid the mountain of the goblins who take it for granted. Sharp’s world is rich with detail, small bits of worldbuilding and sensory wonder that only serves to heighten the desperate, muddy, bloody ground we trudge alongside Slud. 

Steal the Lightning, by Tim Lees
You might think “god hunter” is strange enough as a job description, but Chris Copeland’s work for the Field Ops agency usually goes one step beyond that. In tracking down divine beings to convert into energy, he comes across all kinds of strange things. Like, for instance, the old woman in New York who is holding a piece of a god but swallows it before Chris can grab it. It turns out there’s a sort of Johnny Appleseed of the gods roaming the country, selling shards of a shattered deity as a sort of snake oil to the sick and desperate. This imaginative series offers a fresh take on urban fantasy tropes that will appeal to fans of Tim Powers and Neil Gaiman.

The Mercy of the Tide, by Keith Rosson
Against the backdrop of a looming nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia, the tiny Oregon town of Riptide is rent asunder by mysterious, perhaps supernatural attacks at the tale end of 1983. At its center is a family dealing with a mundane tragedy, the death of a wife and mother, that is soon eclipsed by a more violent one when mutilated bodies begin showing up around town. As teenage Sam and his father try to piece their lives back together, nine-year-old Trina obsesses over the reports of encroaching armageddon on the nightly news, as local law enforcement tries to uncover the culprit behind the attacks, which seem to be linked to an ancient Native American legend. Blending fantasy, horror, and alt-history, this slow-burning debut is grounded by characters whose personal tragedies anchor the supernatural elements. 

Enemy: Book Three of the Seven Eyes, by Betsy Dornbusch
Dornbusch completes the Seven Eyes trilogy with a rousing finale that brings to a close the epic saga of Draken vae Khellian, bounty hunter-turned-husband to a queen. That queen has gone missing and is believed to be dead, even as war has come to her kingdom, Brîn, along with a terrible winter that has frozen the land. As enemies approach on all sides (and from within), Draken must keep his heritage a secret—he’s related to one of the invading kings. This is a rousing conclusion to an engaging epic fantasy by a writer to watch.

What new books look good to you this week?

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