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Spellslinger: the magical art of confidence

Book cover: Spellslinger - Sebastian de Castell (styled like a playing card, with a magical young man at either end)Kellen is 15, the astonishingly untalented son of the Jan’Tep’s greatest mage. Struggling to cast even the simplest spells, he’s the butt of jokes and school yard bullying. Worse, if he can’t pass his mage trials before he turns 16, he’ll be relegated to the Sha’Tep servant class – reliant on his obnoxious little sister’s charity if he’s lucky, sent down the mines if he’s not.

Spoiler free

Throwback Thursday: Rivers of London

Book cover: Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch (a snarkily contextual map of London, with a suggestively bloodstained West End)Easily distracted, PC Peter Grant is a probationary officer with a dull future of tedious admin ahead of him – until he takes a witness statement from a ghost in Covent Garden and finds himself recruited into the Met’s little-advertised supernatural division…

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A Conjuring of Light: the consequence of delay

Book cover: A Conjuring of Light - V E Schwab (a silhouette of a man in a cloak)A Conjuring of Light is the finale of the Shades of Magic trilogy, picking up right where A Gathering of Shadows left off: Red London under threat, Kell captured, Rhy dying, Lila desperate and ready to find out whether she is what we’ve all come to suspect she may be. So, err, spoilers, right? Right.

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Bite-size Books: Of Sight, Of Mind, Of Heart

Of Sight, Of Mind, Of Heart is one of those short stories that should come with a warning: don’t read in public; guaranteed to make you cry. Guaranteed to make me cry, anyway, and it’s a pretty solid rule that I do love a story that grabs my heart strings and embarrasses me in public.

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Confessions of a bad SF fan: no resisting a sequel

earthseaWhen the High Priestess dies, the lesser priestesses leave the Tombs of Atuan and go in search of the newborn she has become. If she grows healthy and unblemished, she is fed to the Nameless Ones, keeper of their rituals, heir to their secrets. Could such a child ever turn her back on the Dark?

Revisiting The Tombs of Atuan

The Djinn Falls In Love

Book cover: The Djinn Falls in Love and other stories - ed. Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin (white smoking text on dark background)When Allah created man out of clay, he created djinn out of fire. Ephemeral spirits that tempt us, trick us, and sometimes grant our wishes, these creatures of folklore take centre stage in excellent Mahvesh Murad & Jared Shurin’s anthology, The Djinn Falls in Love.

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League of Dragons: it’s alright, so it must be the end

Book cover: League of Dragons - Naomi Novik (a shield boss or metal heraldic device of entwined dragons)As Napoleon retreats from Russia, hopes rally that the Emperor can finally be defeated. But he and his crafty adviser Lien have a few more tricks up their sleeve. Can Temeraire (and the other dragons of the world) resist the promise of a world where dragons are treated as equals?

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The House of Binding Thorns: darkly delicious

Book cover: The House of Binding Thorns - Aliette de Bodard (silver thorns on a blue background)As one House falls, another rises. Notre Dame stands in ruins, while House Hawthorn seeks unlikely alliance with the dragon kingdom to reign supreme in Paris. But there are many who would like to see Asmodeus fall in well-earned ruin. Whose loyalties can be counted on in a House built on bloody rebellion?

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Bite-size Books: Welcome to the Medical Clinic…

“You take a shortcut through the hydroponics bay on your way to work, and notice that the tomato plants are covered in tiny crawling insects that look like miniature beetles.”

WHAT CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

Caroline M Yoachim’s entertaining response wins a Nebula nomination.

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Bite-size Books: This is Not a Wardrobe Door

Ellie and Zera are best friends from different worlds, separated by a wardrobe door that has closed without warning. Cut off by circumstance and by time streams that flow ever further apart, the friends realise that sometimes you must open your own doors. A Merc Rustad gives us a Nebula-nominated portal fantasy.

Awards season starts here

Space Opera Sunday: Surface Detail

Book cover: Surface Detail - Iain M Banks (a dark skinned woman with patterned skin and even eyes stares over a flaring sun)There are rules governing how high tech civilisations engage with the up and coming. But there’s no stopping well-meaning meddling in a future where death need only be temporary. Now a girl who should never have been reincarnated will try to kill the most important man in her world; and a dead general must decide whether to bring a virtual War on Hell into the Real…

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Blood of Tyrants: are we nearly there yet?

Book cover: Blood of Tyrants - Naomi Novik (black dragon entwined around a glass bauble picturing the Moscow skyline)Shipwrecked en route back to China, Will loses not only Temeraire but his memory. Stranded in a land where foreigners are forbidden by law, how can he find a crew he can’t remember – or be the credible ambassador to China his country needs him to be?

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