Thursday, December 31st, 2015 | Posted by Black Gate Magazine
Thursday, December 31st, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill
Saga Press’ 2016 line up promises to be stellar, with titles from Kat Howard, A. Lee Martinez, Genevieve Valentine, and many others. In the past few weeks we’ve given you peeks at upcoming books such as Mike Brooks’ “Firefly-like” space opera Dark Run, Joe Zieja’s military SF novel Mechanical Failure, and Black Gate author Frederic S. Durbin’s A Green and Ancient Light.
This week we take a look at Brian Lee Durfee’s debut fantasy novel The Forgetting Moon, the opening book in The Five Warrior Angels series, on sale from Saga Press July 5, 2016.
Here’s the book description:
A massive army on the brink of conquest looms large in a world where prophecies are lies, magic is believed in but never seen, and hope is where you least expect to find it.
Welcome to the Five Isles, where war has come in the name of the invading army of Sør Sevier, a merciless host driven by the prophetic fervor of the Angel Prince, Aeros, toward the last unconquered kingdom of Gul Kana. Yet Gault, one of the elite Knights Archaic of Sør Sevier, is growing disillusioned by the crusade he is at the vanguard of just as it embarks on his Lord Aeros’ greatest triumph.
While the eldest son of the fallen king of Gul Kana now reigns in ever increasing paranoid isolationism, his two sisters seek their own paths. Jondralyn, the older sister, renowned for her beauty, only desires to prove her worth as a warrior, while Tala, the younger sister, has uncovered a secret that may not only destroy her family but the entire kingdom. Then there’s Hawkwood, the assassin sent to kill Jondralyn who has instead fallen in love with her and trains her in his deadly art. All are led further into dangerous conspiracies within the court.
And hidden at the edge of Gul Kana is Nail, the orphan taken by the enigmatic Shawcroft to the remote whaling village of Gallows Haven, a young man who may hold the link to the salvation of the entire Five Isles.
You may think you know this story, but everyone is not who they seem, nor do they fit the roles you expect. Durfee has created an epic fantasy full of hope in a world based on lies.
Click on the image above for a bigger version. Here’s author Author Brian Durfee with his take on the cover art:
As a professional wildlife painter, I’m very picky about art (you can visit my website at www.brianleedurfee.com). So it was a huge relief when Joe Monti told me of his plan to use illustrator Richard Anderson. He’s the one artist who can capture both gritty and ethereal at the same time. His illustration not only portrays a character in my novel faithfully, but also fits the tone of the story perfectly.
I was doubly excited when I saw the typeface Joe Monti had chosen; it matched how I signed my own paintings in my college years. Any time you can stumble on those personal connections, it makes the project all the sweeter. Nowadays there are so many great illustrators and designers there’s really no excuse for poorly done book covers. And the design team at SAGA Press hit a gorgeous home run with this cover. Readers will be proud to hold this book in their hands!
Our previous Saga Press coverage includes:
The Forgetting Moon will be published by Saga Press on August 30th, 2016. It is 576 pages, priced at $25.99 in hardcover and $13.99 for the digital edition. See Saga Press’ complete catalog here, and our coverage of all the best in upcoming fantasy here.
The Forgetting Moon, by Brian Lee Durfee (August 30th)
I saw an unpolished gem in this draft, and it honestly brought back many of the feelings I had when reading Tad Williams’s The Dragonbone Chair as a teenager. Heady praise, I know, but what Durfee is thematically doing here reminds me of what Williams did, so I stand by the comparison. Here’s what I mean:
A massive army, led by a religious tyrant, is on the brink of defeating their long-time rivals, in a world where prophecies are twisted into lies, magic is believed in but never seen, and hope is where you least expect to find it in a world on the edge.
Welcome to the Five Isles where you’ll encounter warrior princesses squashed by convention and manipulated by court intrigue; two brothers, both assassins, but one has fallen in love with his mark and now fights the other; and a veteran knight who is becoming disillusioned by the crusade he is at the vanguard of just as it embarks for final battle. And then Nail, the orphan boy hidden away at the edge of the last standing kingdom, who may be the link to its salvation.
I love this book because it uses tropes in the fantasy playbook, but everyone is not who they seem, nor do they fit the roles you expect. Durfee has created an epic fantasy full of hope in a world that is based on lies, and it will provide readers who love plot twists with a lot of joy. --Joe Monti
It’s nearly impossible to talk about current epic fantasy without mentioning George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, which began in 1996 with A Game of Thrones and entered the mainstream consciousness with the 2011 launch of the HBO adaptation.
This year alone, the five main novels (and counting) in the series have sold about 660,000 print units, according to Nielsen BookScan, and Martin’s violent, intrigue-laden story has cast a shadow over epic fantasy as a whole.
Described as grimdark, an anti-Tolkien style that dwells more on realism, murky morality, and unpleasant consequences, it’s made a serious impact on the market: the past years have seen the rise of authors including Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, and Richard K. Morgan, sometimes referred to as “the children of George.”
But signs point to a widening embrace of the classics, if not a total shift in perspective. “Dark is still pretty big, but we’re finding a bit more of a balance,” says David Pomerico, editorial director for Harper Voyager. “The thing we’re seeing a lot is a return to, or resurgence of, traditional fantasy like David Eddings and Terry Brooks.”
One forthcoming example, Pomerico says, is The Bound Gods by Rachel Dunne (Harper Voyager, June 2016), first in a trilogy in which a mismatched group of unlikely heroes comes together to prevent long-imprisoned gods from destroying the world.
Similarly, Jason Denzel’s Mystic (Tor, Nov.) launches a trilogy about a young commoner woman who competes against noble-born opponents to become the apprentice to one of the most powerful magic wielders in the world.
Forgetting Moon by Brian Lee Durfee (S&S/Saga, July 2016) features people from all social strata, from king to slave, struggling to lay claim to long-lost magical weapons.
Santa Fe Writers Project, an IPG-distributed publisher of literary fiction and nonfiction, is releasing its first epic fantasy, Ordination (June 2016), which launches the trilogy of debut author Daniel M. Ford, about a disgraced knight in a war-torn land.
Spinning the Globe
While traditional epic fantasy is generally perceived as faux-medieval and patterned after a mythologized England, authors are drawing inspiration from other cultures in the search for fresh stories.
“Medieval-style heroic fantasy obviously still has a huge readership,” says Anne Clarke, v-p and deputy publisher at Orbit. “But it now sits very comfortably alongside epic fantasy that explores broader horizons.”
Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia (Baen, Oct.) begins a secondary-world fantasy series inspired by Indian themes and tropes, while Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen (St. Martin’s Griffin, May 2016) is a YA fantasy inspired by both Indian and Greek mythology.
Rick Riordan, who popularized Greek mythology among modern middle-grade readers, is launching a series rooted in Norse mythology, with Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer (Disney-Hyperion, Oct.).
A.J. Hartley’s Steeplejack (Tor, June 2016) is a YA fantasy–murder mystery inspired by 19th-century South Africa. And Kate Elliott, in her series opener Black Wolves (Orbit, Nov.), draws from diverse Pacific and Asian influences including, but not limited to, feudal Japan.
Other authors have turned to Russia for source material, including Leigh Bardugo, whose YA Grisha trilogy (Holt), which concluded in 2014 with Ruin and Rising, has sold more than 117,000 units in hardcover and paperback, according to Nielsen BookScan. Her just-released Six of Crows launches an action-adventure series that expands on Grisha’s world.
In The Bear and the Nightingale (Del Rey, Aug. 2016), Katherine Arden’s debut, a young woman’s home and family are threatened by magical forces in a story inspired by Russian fairy tales and history.
“The appetite for epic fantasy is absolutely voracious,” says Tricia Narwani, an editor with Del Rey. “But there are so many competitors in the category that it has to be a little special and different to stand out.”
Michael M. Jones is a writer and reviewer. He is also the editor of Scheherazade’s Facade (Circlet, 2012).
Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Rick Riordan's new series. It is Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard.