The Avatar race harnessed the power of the sun and channeled it into crystal powered weapons, ships, and even immortality. Their technology was a combination of science, mysticism, and music. Their greatest scholar, Questor Anu studied the legends of the Vagar people and predicted that their world was due for a mysterious cataclysm. Secure in their superiority his people discounted his warnings as madness but a few followed him and survived. As he predicted the Sun rose in the west, the seas tipped in their bowls, the magnetic poles of their world changed, and a second moon appeared in the sky. An ice age overtook their ruined cities and the surviving 500 Avatars struggled to hold on to their empire as their crystals slowly drained of power. Just as they are losing they are about to fall to the Vagar rebels a new foe appears, the armies of the Crystal Queen Ameiya. With a civilization to match the Avatars at the height of their power, they slaughter all who oppose them and drain sacrifices to feed Ameiya's endless hunger.
Ageless immortals, the Timeless are compelled by instinct to behead each other and absorb the loser's power. If this sounds familiar you've no doubt seen the Highlander. The Heartstrike Chronicle is unapologetic fanfic of the Highlander television series written by the bestselling author of Urban Shaman. There's the good natured immortal warrior, Irish in this case, and a woman who watches and reports on him to the Keepers. There is also an unbelievably ancient and powerful immortal, Lohren, who has largely passed unnoticed since the 11th century and is currently a Keeper named Logan Adams. Lohren is amused to hear that a woman claims to have found the ruins of Atlantis, but shocked to find that she is Ghean, the woman he loved and lost when that island sank. Its certainly not a happy reunion. She's definately crazy but if she takes Lohren's head it could be called justifiable homicide.
In the 23rd century rising oceans and diseases that rapidly mutate have become a real threat to both humans and food crops, and only the offerings of the calorie companies have kept humanity alive. These hated corporations use genetic hacking techniques to produce food crops that grow for just a few generations before the diseases adapt and wipe them out, and they use their food as leverage over everyone. Willing to do just about anything to obtain new seed stock to give them an advantage these companies have private armies and almost unlimited funding. Thailand has done its best to stay autonomous from such companies, but Bangkok is a drowning city where tensions between government factions are rising. Agrigen sees this as an opportunity to acquire access to Thailand's coveted seed vault and a simple windup girl finds herself at the center of this coming storm.
The author of the gunpowder fantasy series The Shadow Campaigns is back and his new series is about a few hundred magic gifted teenagers stuck in an ancient ship with a wide variety of monsters that want to eat them. The kids were all offered to the ship as "tribute", including Isoka who's government told her to bring the ghost ship back within the year for their use or they would throw her sister into a brothel. Even though Isoka is an adept who's magic comes from Melos, the Well of Combat, she has little hope of conquering a bazaar ship and its unknown crew. Her magic has always made her the deadliest in a fight, but now she is one of the least experienced fighters in a brutal fight for survival. No one knows where the ship came from, why the captain wants the mage born in the first place, or what the captain plans for the future.....if they have a future.
King Leodan Akaran rules a kingdom that has experienced generations of peace, so he is able to spend his time focused on his children, raising them in an idyllic manner. Of course, all is not as perfect as it seems. While the king and his people reap the benefits of their prosperity, there are many others who have been oppressed and disposed of to make it all possible. This leads the Mein, a long ago exiled people, to send an assassin that kills Leodan and causes his children to scatter. This assassination kicks off the events of this trilogy as Leodan's children set out not only to avenge their father, but also to correct the wrongs of their now former way of life.
The Rynax brothers, Asti and Verci, decided to go straight and are almost ready to open their gadget emporium when Holver Alley burns to the ground. None of the shopkeepers have enough ready cash to rebuild so its not surprising when someone offers them all quick money to sell out. The brothers find it suspicious that someone wants to buy every lot in a poor neighborhood so they start looking into the buyer. Finding that information proves remarkably difficult even for Asti, who was in Druth Intelligence. Since it's obvious someone burned them out on purpose, the brothers, along with some of the other shopkeepers and residents, go back to their roots and set up an elaborate scheme to steal the information they want and get some payback.
Whitney Firestone is the greatest thief in all of the Glass Kingdom, at least in his own mind, and he will never hesitate to brag about his accomplishments. Most people dismiss his tales out of hand, so in a moment of boasting to an unreceptive audience he vows to steal the glass crown off the king's head to prove his abilities. This sets up a series of events resulting in this mischievous thief going on a quest with Torsten, the Wearer of White. He is a holy knight who has dedicated his entire life to the Glass Kingdom and he has no tolerance for those who break the law. This trope pairing contributed to my inability to get into the first half of the book, but fortunately the excellent world building and overarching story eventually won me over.
Veranix is a not so humble student of magic at the University of Maradaine. But at night he takes to the rooftops as the vigilante known as the Thorn. Armed with his bow, a magic rope, and trained as an acrobat, he seeks revenge on the drug lord who killed his father. Like any good acrobat he walks a narrow line while he balances his studies with his secret work with the help of a pretty gardener and his brother who belongs to the same street gang their father once led. The Thorn is an action packed young adult batman-esque adventure.
The Constabulary is my personal favorite among Maresca's interconnected Maradaine series. There's law, disorder, magic, politics, spies, and a dash of sarcasm. Satrine Rainey is a former Druth Intelligence agent who needs a decent job to support her family after her husband, a detective inspector, is nearly killed and left comatose. She appealed to the chief of the Constabulary for help and he offered her the poorly paying position of clerk because they don't hire women as Inspectors. So she calls upon her former training and forges a new letter offering her the position she wants in her old neighborhood of Inemar. Minox Welling is a young inspector with a highly analytical mind whose dogged pursuit of the truth annoys his fellow Inspectors leaving him free to partner with Rainey. Welling is also an untrained mage because his gift developed too late to be accepted to either of the mage schools. Which proves to be a problem on their first case together, investigating what appears to be the ritual sacrifice of a mage.
Hard Magic kicks off the Grimnoir Chronicles which turns out to be a difficult series to categorize. It takes elements of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Steampunk, and Alternate History and mashes them all into a noir style story worthy of a graphic novel. None of that really sounds like my kind of thing but I found this book compelling right from the start. Set in the 1930s, this alternate history has 1% of the population with some kind of magical ability, and the strongest of them are known as Actives. The World War is over, alcohol is still illegal in the US, and Jake Sullivan is down on his luck just trying to get out the hole he finds himself in. A former war hero and ex-con, Jake just has one more job to do for the government before his debt to society is paid and then he can go on with his life as a private investigator. Jake is also a Heavy, a powerful Active capable of manipulating gravity, so it is unlikely that the US government is just going to let him walk away when this job is over...