Lore Vetinari, ruler of the city-state of Anhk-Morpork, has a problem that he must address immediately. The Postal Service in his city has become rather rundown and technological innovation seems to be leaving it behind. The Clacks, a type of visual telegraph system, allows people to send messages across great distances almost instantly, so nobody wants to use the Post Office any longer. Vetinari won't stand for this in his city, so he does what any shrewd ruler would do and offers the job of Postmaster General to a con-man who is on death row. After all, who better to breathe new life into a dying institution?
Zane is not a successful person and when things finally get too rough for him he decides it is time to take his own life. As he starts to pull the trigger he notices the Grim Reaper coming for him and he instead turns the gun on Death himself and shoots him right between the eyes. Wow, Zane just cheated death, finally a lucky break right? Not exactly. This is when Fate pays Zane a visit and explains that the rules dictate that whoever kills Death takes over the job. This means Zane is in store for some immediate on the job training.
Gavin Guile is technically still the Prism, but unfortunately he is not capable of fulfilling the needs of his office in any way. Once the most powerful man alive he now finds himself an oar slave aboard a galley out at sea and even if he were to find a way to escape it really wouldn;t matter much. After all he can no longer draft any color of magic after being stabbed with the Blinding Knife for a second time and what value is a Prism that can't draft? None at all which means he isn't even a valuable hostage. Things can't really get any worse for Gavin Guile at this point can they? Oh yes indeed, they most certainly can...
Book 5 picks up immediately after the ending of Book 4, which is a good thing because that cliff hanger ending left fans of the series eager for more. What threat could possibly be worse then the mutated creatures that rule the Earth's radioactive surface? Of course, it is the humans that somehow managed to survive hidden in the ocean on the Metal Islands. The Cazadores are far more numerous and brutal than the inhabitants of The Hive could ever have imagined, and they won't be easily defeated. With key personnel now being held captive on the Metal Islands, the dream of returning to the surface of the Earth has officially turned into a nightmare. Is returning to the Earth's surface really a viable future for the residents of The Hive or will it lead them to their ultimate doom?
The Quantum Magician introduces the reader to an interesting future where we have engineered a few unique sub-species of humans that are very different and original. The main character, Belisarius, is one of those new species - a Homo Quantus. This means he has the ability to enter a fugue state called savant and see into the realm of quantum possibilities. For most Homo Quantus this means that they spend their lives in solitude exploring the mysteries of the universe and seeking to expand human knowledge. In the case of Belisarius, he has chosen to use his quantum abilities as a con man and when the biggest and most elaborate con of his life comes along, he just can't resist.
Haimey Dz is a salvage tug operator that gets involved with ancient alien technology, pirates, assorted aliens, and social ethics. She, her shipmate Connla, their AI Singer, and two cats head out to the edge of the Milky Way to check out a potential salvage claim. The first thing they find at the coordinates is a dead Ativahika, a large spacegoing alien species that resembles a seahorse. The Ativahika are presumed to be sentient, although they don't seem to communicate in any obvious way. The ship they are hoping to salvage is of unknown alien manufacture and apparently has artificial gravity, a technology that could make Singer and his small crew a fortune. But the ship also contains a horrible secret that drags Haimey and her friends into a galaxy spanning adventure that will force her to reevaluate everything she thinks she knows about herself.
Book two of the Lightbringer series picks up right where The Black Prism left off, which means things are in a bad state for Gavin Guile. After losing the battle against the Color Prince, the Seven Satrapies are now only six in number and Gavin is on the run with boatloads of refugees. This alone would be a major issue for anyone, but for Gavin it is only one of many. His tenure as the Black Prism is in jeopardy for many reasons, but none more dire than the fact that he has lost access to the color blue. This ultimately means that he is dying.
Aside from some of the ancient sagas what we now call grimdark fantasy kicked off in 1984 with two books, The Black Company by Glen Cook and Legend by David Gemmel. Rather than follow the anti-heroes, Gemmel wanted to explore why and how people can choose to stand before overwhelming odds to fight for their beliefs. From the beginning the reader is told that its a hopeless fight. One well built but neglected fortress with nine thousand poorly trained defenders protecting their empire from half a million barbarian warriors. The dying nobleman in charge sends two desperate calls for help. He sends to the White Temple for the Thirty, a band of psychic warrior monks willing to die for the right cause, and to his old comrade in arms, the famed Druss the Legend who has never lost a battle.
After the events of the last book, Babylon's Ashes, the Expanse series was clearly building up to a crescendo and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next. Tiamat's Wrath is the eighth book of the series, with only one more to follow if James S. A. Corey sticks to the current plan, and it took only a single sentence for this book to make clear that the series is nearing the end. To keep things spoiler free I won't say what that sentence was, but know that this book is full of big moments and if you are a fan of the series then you will not be disappointed.
Brent Weeks serves up a complex magic system based on the colors of the spectrum and he does it in a story that unfolds in provocative ways. Magic users, called drafters, use their powers to turn light into various effects based on color. This magical system, known as Chromaturgy, allows multiple colors of light to be combined in interesting ways, and for each drafter to have different skills based on their personal color abilities. There are also meaningful downsides to using this power, which makes a person's ability to draft a mixed blessing at best. The color spectrum is not only fundamental to the magic system, but also the religious and political systems as well, and all three are at the heart of the conflict that unfolds. As each layer of the story is revealed it picks up in both momentum and complexity, and it rewards you for paying attention to the details.