Steelheart, Scroll of Years, and This One Thing I Wrote For

I have three books to recommend to you. All three just came out this week, and as of this writing I've only completely read two of them, but since I contributed to the third I'm going to recommend all three.

The first is Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson, which I just finished on Tuesday, the day it released. It's wonderful. It's much more tautly paced than Brandon's other recent books, and that's probably why I read it straight through when I should have been doing other things. Also, at 100,000-ish words long, it's actually possible for me to read it straight through. (I have it on very good authority that Brandon does us all the great kindness of deliberately NOT pacing his 250,000-word epic fantasies like this. People would die.) 

Steelheart is a post-apocalyptic sci-fantasy adventure set in a sort-of-rebuilt Chicago. The apocalypse in question was the coming of the Epics -- super-powered humans who ruin everything, except not in a clumsy, collateral damage manner. 

Did I mention that it's tight? Pay attention as you read, even though you'll be driven to read fast. The twists, turns, and reveals are rewarding, and in every case they fulfil "surprising yet inevitable" for me. It's a rare read that pulls this off so effectively.

The second book I'd like to recommend is The Scroll of Years, by Chris Willrich, which I cover-quoted after reading an ARC. Here's my cover-quote: 

"Willrich puts the mystery back in magic and the majesty back in dragons. Gaunt and Bone are the Han and Leia of heroic fantasy." -- Howard Tayler

I was not paid to say that, unless you count getting an e-ARC as payment, which maybe you should because it really was that good.

Gaunt and Bone are our protagonists, a husband-and-wife team who have been there, done that, and bought a reputation far more eye-catching than any t-shirt. And it has caught up to them. And I'll admit, the story's structure eluded me in fun ways. Sure, I could probably deconstruct it and assign it a form I'm familiar with, but I was happier being surprised time and again by turns of events. Surprised, and ultimately delighted.  

The book was edited by my friend Lou Anders, and I've come to really like the things he touches. I hadn't read Willrich's work until this book, but when another Gaunt and Bone story comes out I'll be acquiring it by whatever legal means remain at my disposal.

My third recommendation is Called to Battle, a collection from Privateer Press, which I mentioned in my previous blog post. I'm partial to this one because I wrote a 10,000-word novelette for it, and had a blast doing so. Have I mentioned that I'm a Privateer Press fanboy? I probably shouldn't, because I don't want them to think that I'd do this stuff without being paid.

Called To Battle features four stories, one from me, and one each from Larry Corriea, Erik Scott de Bie, and Orrin Grey. I haven't read the other three, but I have come to trust the editors at Privateer Press to give us the good stuff. And I'm not saying that because they're paying me to. In fact, they're NOT paying me to say that. I checked my contract.

So there you have it! Three books to choose from, good choices all! And best of all, unless you're resource-constrained, there is no requirement that you only pick one! 

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