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Excerpt from New Book Release The Unremembered

The Unremembered, by Peter Orullian, released yesterday (click here to read the summary of the book on our weekly book releases post). It’s publisher, Tor, has posted a nice excerpt of the book to get readers interested in this new story. Check it out!

 

Please enjoy this excerpt from The Unremembered by Peter Orullian, out today from Tor Books. If you would like more from his Vaults of Heaven series check out the original stories Sacrifice of the First Sheason,” The Great Defense of Layosah,” and The Battle of the Round,” on Tor.com.

***

The sun shone bright upon the teeming roads of the city. A thick smell rose from the mixture of mud and wet straw. Small shops lined the byway, men and women hawking all manner of roots and elixirs. Others called to passersby to survey their fine coats or breeches, most fashioned of wool. A few carts displayed garish hats and scarves and belts. Most infrequent were the stores selling any kind of weapon. Rather, men selling dangerous wares stood in the recessed doorways of buildings that appeared otherwise abandoned. Knives or knuckle spikes lay on brown cloth near their feet, the proprietor standing back in a recess smoking from a pipe or a rolled bit of sweetleaf and watching the street cautiously.

“Which way?” Sutter asked.

“All gumption and no sense, Nails,” Tahn said, and slapped his back. “Where else? The palace.”

Sutter grinned. “You’ll make a fine advisor when I become king.”

Tahn laughed. “If you’re ever king, root-digger, I’ll wear the hat of bells and dance a heel-toe jig for your amusement.” They started east toward the city center.

At each cross street they stopped and marveled at the throngs of people milling on the road. Tahn looked on in amazement as the palace slowly rose before them. Soon the straw gave way to cobblestones. Men and women walked more slowly here, their shoes low cut, and the women without stockings. Wagons were replaced by carriages drawn by a single horse.

“Look at that,” Sutter said in a hushed, awed voice.

To their right walked two men in long amethyst cloaks, carry ing spears. Each spear bore a short violet pennon emblazoned with a yellow hawk holding a set of scales in its talons.

“City guard,” Sutter said with glee. “They’ve got to be.” Sun glinted off their helmets and the studs in their armor. Not ten strides behind them came another pair of guards similarly dressed but bearing maces hung at their waist.

“Come on.” Tahn pulled at Sutter’s cloak. “Let’s not look so conspicuous.”

The two approached a crowd gathered tightly together. Their attention seemed focused toward a fountain.

“What’s that?” Sutter asked.

Tahn led them through a maze of onlookers and soon saw the object of their attention. At the center of the large plaza, several men and women stood upon a broad, fl at wagon declaiming to one another in strident, clipped speech. It struck Tahn as familiar, and he quickly knew why. These people were performing, just like the scops in the Stone the night before. Only these players wore no masks, and they did not seem to intend to provoke laughter. Several hundred passersby had gathered to watch; and the wagon platform sat high enough that the performers could be heard and seen by all.

“Come on, let’s go.” Sutter’s face showed a twist of displeasure. “We can find something better in such a big city.”

Tahn resisted. “Just a moment.” He wanted to see more.

Sutter groaned. Tahn thought he saw more than simple impatience in his friend’s face; Nails seemed to bear a real distaste for these pageant troupers. Sutter fixed  accusatory eyes on the wagon and watched. Tahn thought he heard Sutter mumble something bitter about “awful parents,” before the players’ voices drowned him out.

“They must be driven from the land,” one player said.

A woman sang a phrase in a tongue Tahn did not know, her voice carrying easily above the crowd.

“Take hands, all, and this stand make,” a second woman declared.

Sutter appeared disinterested, and began searching in the direction of the guards they had seen. But the crowd around them did not move. Many nodded knowingly, others shook their heads as if wanting to disbelieve, but unable to do so.

“The sky grows black,” a young boy said. “Hurry, the sun flees this unhappy choice.” The lad looked into the distance, his eyes seeing something Tahn’s did not. Then the boy took hold of the hands of the players to each side of him; ten men and women and children formed a line upon the broad wagon and together looked over the heads of their audience at a distant event none could see. The boy was the shortest among them— at least two heads shorter than Tahn. But he looked wiry strong, at least in part due to a face set beneath a shock of flaxen hair that didn’t seem to know compromise.

Just then a commotion began at the edge of the crowd. Angry voices cried, “Disband, you! Enough of this!”

This brought Sutter’s attention back to the stage. “Guards?” His friend shifted position, trying to see what was happening.

Tahn looked back the way they had come. The crowd had closed in tight behind them, and the warmth of close bodies suddenly caused panic to rise in his throat.

“This is sedition!” one of the voices cried bitterly. “Don’t you know the law?”

Tahn stood on his toes and saw a small band of men and women parting the crowd and heading directly for the platform. Muttered talk erupted among those gathered to watch. The players released their hands and backed away from the edge of their wagon stage. The crowd grew larger, the sounds of strained voices rising from the edges of the gathering. People pressed forward, pinning Tahn and Sutter together.

The assembly parted to make way for the newcomers, who found the stage and turned to look back at those still watching.

“Have done with you, lest you find yourselves party to these here.” The man speaking pointed an accusing finger in a broad arc over the assemblage. A few of those gathered grumbled low, emboldened by the anonymity of being so deep in the crowd. Despite the warning, the throng made no move to break up. The official pulled himself onto the stage and cast vicious glances at them all. He wore a long, rich, russet-colored cloak trimmed in white, with a round seal embroidered in white thread upon his breast. The insignia depicted four arms, each gripping the next at the wrist in a squared circle. Tahn hadn’t seen the crest before, nor the rich, colorful cloaks, but he knew it belonged to the league. Near the leader, his comrades took defensive postures around the base of the wagon. Tahn thought it unnecessary; no one looked prepared to challenge them. The man’s broad face radiated disdain. He whirled on the players.

“This rhea-fol is treason!” he yelled. “It is seditious to recount lies and fables that give false hope.” His hand fell upon the hilt of his sword. “Who is responsible for this troop?”

The crowd hushed, those inclined to leave now riveted by this new scene being played out on the wagon. Sutter’s hot, panting breath hit Tahn’s neck.

Without a moment’s hesitation, the boy who’d last spoken stepped forward, away from his companions. “I am. What ever you have to do, do it to me.” The lad’s chest puff ed out and his chin assumed a defiant attitude. He clenched his fists and stared openly at the man in league uniform.

A collective gasp issued from the crowd, like the awe expressed at Gollerntime in the Hollows when all gathered to watch the stars race across the sky in long, bright streaks. The league captain looked out of the corner of his eye at the throng, then focused his rage on the impudent boy.

“In your diapers you can scarcely know the harm you do, boy,” he began. “I admire your loyalty to the troop leader, but don’t let it make you foolish. Loyalty is admirable only when well placed.”

Tahn watched the man’s lips curl as he spoke, leaving him with the impression that in a less public place, he might respond differently to the boy’s defiance.

“How mighty you are,” the boy replied, “to stop the performance of a simple rhea-fol, and our only means of bread and cups.”

“Stay your tongue, boy,” the man said, throwing his cloak over his shoulder to expose his blade. “The law holds no exceptions for age where sedition is charged. Find your mother’s teat, and stop bringing shame upon whoever owns this company!”

The boy swallowed and began again in a soft , measured voice. “It is a story, sir. A story. True or not, it is no threat to you. It is played for them.” The lad motioned with an upturned palm toward the growing crowd.

The man sniffed. “I’m done speaking with you, boy. What can you know of liberty, who have never put your life at risk in its defense?” He waved a dismissive hand. “Now, you will all be taken for the cowardice of he who lets a child stand in his place.”

“No!” the boy yelled and rushed the man. In an instant, the leagueman’s cloak whipped as though caught in a breeze, and the glint of steel rose in the air.

Tahn saw the moment unfold and began shaking his head, a sound erupting from his mouth unbidden: “Stop!”

The report of the command echoed off the stone of the courtyard beyond, filling the day with bright, hot contention. The boy skidded to a stop just a pace from the league captain, whose sword slowly dropped to his side as he searched the crowd. Men and women around Tahn and Sutter backed away.

“Will and Sky, Tahn, do you know how to travel,” Sutter whispered, stepping from behind Tahn to stand beside him.

“Who calls?” the captain demanded.

Tahn studied the other’s face as a wide path cleared between the wagon stage and him and Sutter. The league members standing around the wagon all drew their weapons. Tahn struggled with what to say; even the tales of the league in the Hollows were enough to teach him that you did not contradict one who wore its vestments. But as unsure as he was about what would happen next, he knew the lad should not be harmed.

“Leave the boy alone,” Tahn said, his voice more defiant than he had thought possible.

“By what authority do you make such a demand?” the leagueman asked, squaring around toward Tahn.

Beside him Sutter’s teeth ground. “By moral authority,” Sutter said. Tahn looked at his friend, whose voice projected conviction that Tahn had never heard. “He is a child. Who do you represent that would strike down one not yet old enough to Stand?”

The captain smiled, his teeth menacing in a wide, clean- shaven jaw. “Your accent, more to the south I think, or perhaps the west.” He put a hand on the lad’s chest and pushed him back. Then he jumped to the ground and the crowd receded further still. “How far west, boys? Beyond the Aela River I think. Perhaps you make your home as far as Mal’Tara. It is no secret what manner of men come out of that place.” He took deliberate steps toward them.

The leagueman’s expression confused Tahn. It carried a mixture of confidence and belief in his calling, and a dark, seething hatred that belied that call. Tahn unconsciously shifted his stance, placing his right foot forward and slightly bending his knees.

“We are from—”

Tahn lifted his hand to stay Sutter’s words.

When the captain came within three strides of him, Tahn looked closely at the crest on his breast, then to the ranks of leagueman that had fallen in behind him. He would say it once more. “He is a child, your honor, a melura. Impudent, perhaps, but not seditious.”

“I’ve no immediate concern for the troupe now,” the captain said, grinning. Again he threw his cloak over his shoulder, freeing his arm for movement. He spun his sword in his hand. “Do you know what accusation you have made, friend?” His words hissed like a sputtering candle.

“I know—”

“It is I, you Exigent hog!” The insult came from the stage. Over the leagueman’s shoulder Tahn saw Mira atop the wagon. She held the boy by the hand. “He is my seed, and you and your league are a privy rag for his melura ass!”

The captain whirled to see Mira’s fiery eyes inciting him. The league footmen rushed to the wagon. Mira took the boy and jumped from the far side, sprinting toward the alleys across the plaza. Though difficult to see, Tahn caught glimpses of the Far as she hoisted the boy up and slipped into the shadows with the speed of a prairie cat.

“Diversion,” Sutter whispered.

Sutter pulled Tahn’s cloak to get him moving, and together they turned back toward the Granite Stone. As they tried to find safety, Tahn’s mind raced. What did I just do?

Preoccupied with Mira, the league gave delayed chase. Sutter broke into a run first, but Tahn soon overtook his friend, leading them into tight byways. Straw kicked up beneath their heels, and a few pedestrians shouted insults at them as they raced past. Tahn wove a circuitous route to the inn, bringing them to its doors an hour later.

They’d arrived safe. Mira had gotten back to the Granite Stone ahead of them with the boy. But Vendanj and Braethen were no were to be found. Tahn and Sutter took the boy and locked themselves in their room.

[via Tor]

Book News, Books, News

New Releases, Week of April 11th, 2011

Here’s a list of all of sci-fi and fantasy coming out this week.

Released Monday, April 11th, 2011

The Company Man, by Robert Jackson Bennett

The year is 1919.

The McNaughton Corporation is the pinnacle of American industry. They built the guns that won the Great War before it even began. They built the airships that tie the world together. And, above all, they built Evesden-a shining metropolis, the best that the world has to offer.

But something is rotten at the heart of the city. Deep underground, a trolley car pulls into a station with eleven dead bodies inside. Four minutes before, the victims were seen boarding at the previous station. Eleven men butchered by hand in the blink of an eye. All are dead. And all are union.

Now, one man, Cyril Hayes, must fix this. There is a dark secret behind the inventions of McNaughton and with a war brewing between the executives and the workers, the truth must be discovered before the whole city burns. Caught between the union and the company, between the police and the victims, Hayes must uncover the mystery before it kills him.

Released Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide, by Stephenie Meyer

This must-have hardcover edition–the only official guide–is the definitive encyclopedic reference to the Twilight Saga and provides readers with everything they need to further explore the unforgettable world Stephenie Meyer created in Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn,and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. This comprehensive handbook—essential for every Twilight Saga fan—is full-color throughout with nearly 100 gorgeous illustrations and photographs and with exclusive new material, character profiles, genealogical charts, maps, extensive cross-references, and much more.

My Unfair Godmother, by Janette Rallison

Tansy Miller has always felt that her divorced father has never had enough time for her. But mistakenly getting caught on the wrong side of the law wasn’ texactly how she wanted to get his attention. Enter Chrysanthemum “Chrissy” Everstar, Tansy’s fairy in shining, er, high heels. Chrissy is only a fair godmother, of course, so Tansy’s three wishes don’t exactly go according to plan. And if bringing Robin Hood to the twenty-first century isn’t bad enough for Tansy, being transported back to the Middle Ages to deal with Rumpelstiltskin certainly is. She’ll need the help of her blended family, her wits, and especially the cute police chief ‘s son to stop the gold-spinning story from spinning wildly out of control. Janette Rallison pulls out all the stops in this fresh, fun-filled follow-up to the popular My Fair Godmother.

The Gathering (Darkness Rising, Book 1), by Kelley Armstrong

Strange things are happening in Maya’s tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya’s home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.

It doesn’t help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he’s interested in one special part of Maya’s anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.

A Kingdom Besieged: Book One of the Chaoswar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist

After nearly thirty years and more than two dozen novels, Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Cycle has become one of the most iconic, beloved, and enduring sagas in modern fantasy. The Riftwars—including the original Riftwar, the Serpentwar, the Darkwar, and the Demonwar—were epic battles between Good and Evil whose ramifications have echoed through generations. The latest entry in the epic, A Kingdom Besieged, ushers in the most fearsome threat the Kingdom has yet faced—the Chaoswar—a magic apocalypse with cataclysmic results.

A Kingdom Besieged

Years ago, the Empire of Great Kesh failed in its attempt to conquer Krondor after the Serpentwar, thanks to the bravery, cunning, and magic of the sorcerer Pug and the Conclave of Shadows. Since then, peace has benefitted both nations, and the Kingdom has been free from the threat of another Keshian invasion. Yet now, the dark clouds of war gather again. . . .

From the Far Coast in the west to the frontier with the Eastern Kingdoms, rumors, uncertainty, and political instability are rampant. Spies have gone missing—some were murdered while others have turned traitor. Factions are rising, powerful legions from the Keshian Confederacy have been mobilized, and an attack on the kingdoms of the Isles and Roldem is all but certain.

As the men of the Western Realm begin to mount a defense, Martin conDoin, the middle son of Lord Henry, Duke of Crydee, finds himself leading the charge against the invaders—like his legendary ancestor, Prince Arutha, who stood firm to the death against the Tsurani invasion. But Arutha had an entire army at his command. Martin has just a ragtag force comprised of a few old men and young boys.

As Kesh’s invading hordes once again descend upon the Kingdom, no one is safe—not experienced masters of intrigue Lord James Dasher Jamison and the beguiling and deadly Lady Franciezka; not the brave warrior Knight-Adamant Sandreena and a new generation of loyal yet untested defenders; not even the great Pug himself, the most powerful magician the world of Midkemia has ever known. A threat far more terrifying has arisen, an evil whose burgeoning power portends Midkemia’s demise. And soon even the Kingdom’s enchanted defender will find himself questioning everything he’s ever held abiding, true, and treasured . . . including the loyalty and desires of his beloved son, Magnus.

The Tomes of the Dead: The Viking Dead, by Toby Venables

976 AD – Northern Europe. BjÓlf and the viking crew of the ship Hrafn flee up an unknown river after a bitter battle, only to find themselves in a bleak land of pestilence. The dead don’t lie down, but become what the villagers call draugr – the undead – returning to feed on the flesh of their kin. Terrible stories are told of a dark castle in a hidden fjord, and of black ships that come raiding with invincible draugr berserkers. And no sooner has BjÓlf resolved to leave, than the black ships appear… Now stranded, his men cursed by the contagion of walking death, BjÓlf has one choice: fight his way through a forest teeming with zombies, invade the castle and find the secret of the horrific condition – or submit to an eternity of shambling, soulless undeath!

Starcraft II: Devil’s Due, by Christie Golden

The year is 2494. Almost five years ago, Jim Raynor and Tychus Findlay were members of the Heaven’s Devils, an elite Confederate marine unit praised for its nerves of steeland combat expertise. After making a stand against their corrupt commanding officer, the two men were forced to go AWOL or risk being unjustly prosecuted and resocialized.

Now, Raynor and Findlay are outlaws hounded by an unyielding interstellar marshal. Life, however, has never beenbetter. Each day is another chance to pilfer more credits from the Confederacy’s deep coffers. Each night holds the promise of spending their hard-earned profits in bars, brothels, and gambling halls. But a man can only run so far before the law—and his past—catch up with him. . . .

Devils’ Due recounts an unforgettable period of Jim Raynor’s life as he descends into the Koprulu sector’s criminal underworld alongside the street-savvy Findlay. Here, far from his humble upbringing on the fringe world of Shiloh, Raynor will face some of the most trying challenges of his life. The decisions he makes will alter his destiny forever and put his father’s oft-spoken wisdom, “A man is what he chooses to be,” to the ultimate test.

Battle in the Dawn: The Complete Hok the Mighty (Planet Stories), by Manly Wade Wellman

In the 1930s, a very unusual tale appeared in the influential Amazing Stories magazine. Unlike the usual yarns of robots and interstellar travel, this “Battle in the Dawn” featured the brutal exploits of Hok, the first hero of humanity, in his struggles against the savage Neanderthals. Written by rising pulpster Manly Wade Wellman (Who Fears the Devil?), who would later achieve fame for his American folktales of Silver John and beat out William Faulkner for a prestigious writing award, the story and its brave hero struck a chord with Amazing’s readers, and several additional adventures followed, taking Hok through the prehistory of mankind to battle unrelenting cavemen, explore the lost city of Atlantis, discover new technology, and chart a new destiny for humanity. Now, for the first time ever, Planet Stories presents a complete authorized collection of all of Wellman’s rare Hok the Mighty tales, packed with unfinished story fragments, all-new illustrations, and a brand-new introduction by Wellman’s longtime friend, fantasy author David Drake.

The Unremembered: Book One of the Vault of Heaven, by Peter Orullian

Summoned from the bucolic Hollows by a wizardly stranger and an elven Far, untested orphans Tahn, Wendra, and Sutter set out on a perilous and mysterious quest, soon grievously menaced by evil minions of a god who seeks world domination. Meanwhile, a capital city braces for invasion. This well-worn epic fantasy formula suffers from an inflated, pretentious creation-myth prologue, unprepared shifts in point of view, and jerkily inserted gobbets of history. Nevertheless, Orullian often achieves convincing poignancy in the relationships he develops among his young protagonists. Young devotees of long, long fantasy journeys and adolescent comings-of-age may enjoy the near-endless succession of deadly adventures in Orullian’s elaborate world, but those yearning for linguistic and philosophical depth will have to look elsewhere.

Shadow Chaser: Book Two of the Chronicles of Siala, by Alexey Pehov

Saddened because they have left one of their number in a grave in the wilderness, Harold and his companions continue their journey to the dreaded underground palace of Hrad Spein. There, knowing that armies of warriors and wizards before them have failed, they must fight legions of untold, mysterious powers before they can complete their quest for the magic horn that will save their beloved land from The Nameless One. But before they can even reach their goal, they must overcome all manner of obstacles, fight many battles…and evade the frightful enemies on their trail.

Shadow Chaser is a novel of intricate plots, surprising twists and finely drawn characters that will not leave you when you put the book down.Shadow Chaser is truly something different in the world of fantasy, something special; it is something truly Russian, a fantasy that is gripping and haunting, fascinating and imaginative.

After the Golden Age, by Carrie Vaughn

Vaughn (Discord’s Apple) delivers a loving homage to classic superheroes, throwing in layers of darkness and realism while avoiding the cynical satire and deconstruction common in contemporary comics. Forensic accountant Celia West is the powerless and estranged daughter of two of Commerce City’s great heroes, Captain Olympus and Spark. When the city prosecutes the evil Destructor for tax evasion, Celia gets pulled in to track down evidence. As a new crime spree creates tension between the city’s heroes and the police force, Celia’s investigation uncovers long-buried secrets about her family and the city. Vaughn throws in elements of romance and humor, but the drama between Celia and her father really drives the story. The story is very accessible to readers who have never picked up a comic book while boasting plenty of clever in-jokes for fans of golden age superheroics.

All the Lives He Led: A Novel, by Frederik Pohl

In a tired, terrorist-plagued 2079 still reeling from the aftereffects of a massive Yellowstone eruption, Brad Sheridan escapes from America’s refugee camps by signing up for an overseas indenture. Chance earns him a spot working in Italy’s lavish commemoration of the 2,000th anniversary of the destruction of Pompeii. Beneath quiescent Vesuvius, tourists enjoy entertainments real and virtual. Ben’s ambition is limited to minor scams and romance, but fate places him near the epicenter of a terrorist plot of unprecedented scale. This seminihilistic novel, reminiscent of Mining the Oort and The Cool War, is not among Pohl’s best only because the Grand Master’s previous novels have set such a high standard, and it stands as a demonstration of his continuing strengths in the eighth decade of his career.

Released Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The White Luck Warrior: The Aspect Emperor, Book 2, by R. Scott Bakker

Widely praised by reviewers and a growing body of fans, R. Scott Bakker has already established his reputation as one of the few unique new talents in the fantasy genre. Now he returns with the long-awaited The White Luck Warrior–the second book in the Aspect-Emperor series.

As Anasûrimbor Kellhus and his Great Ordeal march ever farther into the wastes of the Ancient North, Esmenet finds herself at war with not only the Gods, but her own family as well. Achamian, meanwhile, leads his own ragtag expedition to the legendary ruins of Sauglish, and to a truth he can scarcely survive, let alone comprehend. Into this tumult walks the White-Luck Warrior, assassin and messiah both.

The White Luck Warrior is a story filled with heartstopping action, devious treachery, grand passion, and meticulous detail. It is both a classic quest tale and a high fantasy war story.

Life on Mars: Tales from the New Frontier, by Jonathan Strahan

Mars! The Red Planet! For generations, people have wondered what it would be like to travel to and live there. That curiosity has inspired some of the most durable science fiction, including Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles and the work of Isaac Asimov. Now the award-winning anthologist Jonathan Strahan has brought together thirteen original stories to explore the possibilities. After reading Life on Mars, readers will never look at the fourth planet from the sun the same way again.

List from Borders.com and descriptions/reviews from Amazon.com