Up for Review: Mythology and Folklore from NetGalley

NetGalley has been very good to me lately – I’ve got plenty of new books to add to a review pile that will keep me wonderfully busy for the next few months. This latest set of eARCs is full of folklore and mythology – Irish, Catholic, Greek, Norse, Middle Eastern.

And Blue Skies From Pain by Stina Leicht
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Publication Date: 06 March 2012
Genre: mythology and folklore, fantasy

This was an auto-approved title (which means you can download it without waiting for the publisher’s approval) with a plot that intrigued me, so I took it without realising that it was the second in a series called The Fey and the Fallen. I really wish publishers using NetGalley would mention these things. Either way, it will looks like a good series, so I’ve requested a review copy of the first book, Of Blood and Honey. If I don’t get one, I’ll just buy a copy, but because I’ll have to read an extra book this review will most likely come some time after the publication date.

Here’s the marketing copy  for the novel:
It’s November of 1977: The punk rock movement is a year old and the brutal thirty-year war referred to as “The Troubles” is escalating.

According to Irish tradition, the month of November is a time for remembrance of the dead. Liam Kelly, in particular, wishes it were otherwise. Born a Catholic in Londonderry/Derry, Northern Ireland, Liam, a former wheelman for the Provisional IRA, is only half mortal. His father is Bran, a puca — a shape-shifting, ghostlike creature — and a member of the ancient Fíanna.

Liam must dodge both the Royal Ulster Constabulary, who want him for the car bombing that killed Constable Haddock, and the Provisional IRA, who want him for the deaths of Éamon Walsh and several others found ripped apart in a burned down farmhouse in Armagh. Fortunately for Liam, both the Ulster Constabulary and the Provisional IRA think he’s dead. On the other hand, the Militis Dei — a group of Roman Catholic priest-assassins, whose sole purpose is to dispose of fallen angels and demons found living on this earth — is very aware that Liam is alive, and very aware of his preternatural parentage.

With the help of his unlikely ally Father Murray — a Militis Dei operative who has known Liam since childhood — he must convince the Church that he and his fey brethren aren’t demonic in origin, and aren’t allied with The Fallen.

The Pillars of Hercules by David Constantine
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Publication Date: 06 March 2012
Genre: Greek mythology, fantasy, adventure

Another auto-approved book from Night Shade, yay! And this one is a stand-alone too. So I hope to post a timely review.

Marketing copy:
Alexander, Prince of Macedon, is the terror of the world.  Persia, Egypt, Athens . . . one after another, mighty nations are falling before the fearsome conqueror.  Some say Alexander is actually the son of Zeus, king of the gods, and the living incarnation of Hercules himself.  Worse yet, some say Alexander believes this . . .             

The ambitious prince is aided in his conquest by unstoppable war-machines based on the forbidden knowledge of his former tutor, the legendary scientist-mage known as Aristotle.  Greek fire, mechanical golems, and gigantic siege-engines lay waste to Alexander”s enemies as his armies march relentlessly west–toward the very edge of the world.            

Beyond the Pillars of Hercules, past the gateway to the outer ocean, lies the rumored remnants of Atlantis: ancient artifacts of such tremendous power that they may be all that stands between Alexander and conquest of the entire world.  Alexander desires that power for himself, but an unlikely band of fugitives-including a Gaulish barbarian, a cynical Greek archer, a cunning Persian princess, and a sorcerer”s daughter-must find it first . . . before Alexander unleashes godlike forces that will shatter civilization.            

The Pillars of Hercules is an epic adventure that captures the grandeur and mystery of the ancient world as it might have been, where science and magic are one and the same.

Ragnarok by A.S. Byatt
Publisher: 
Grove Press, an imprint of Grove/Atlantic
Publication Date: First published 06 September 2011. This edition: 01 February 2012
Genre:  Norse mythology, war

A modern retelling of an ancient myth? Why yes, I’d love that, thank you.

Marketing copy:
In this brilliant retelling of the Norse myth about the end of the world, the award-winning author of Possession and The Children’s Bookunleashes a story of the destruction of life on this planet and the end of the gods themselves. Just as Wagner used this dramatic and catastrophic struggle for the climax of his Ring Cycle, so A. S. Byatt now reinvents it in all its intensity and glory. 

As the bombs of the Blitz rain down on Britain, one young girl is evacuated to the countryside. She is struggling to make sense of her new wartime life. Then she is given a copy of Asgard and the Gods-a book of ancient Norse myths-and her inner and outer worlds are transformed. 

How could this child know that fifty years on, many of the birds and flowers she took for granted on her walks to school would become extinct? War, natural disaster, reckless gods, and the recognition of impermanence in the world are just some of the threads that Byatt weaves into this most timely of books. Linguistically stunning and imaginatively abundant, Ragnarök is a landmark piece of storytelling from one of the world’s great writers.

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
Publisher:
 Grove Press, and imprint of Grove/Atlantic
Publication Date: 03 July 2012
Genre: cyberpunk, Middle Eastern mythology

Cyberpunk and mythology? How could I possibly say no?

Marketing copy:
From the author of award–winning graphic novels comes a stunning and propulsive debut novel, blending cyberpunk adventure with the enchantment of Middle Eastern mythology.

Alif the Unseen is a masterful debut novel, an enchanting, incredibly timely adventure tale worthy of Neil Gaiman. In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker protects watched groups from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble—until he falls in love with the wrong woman and unleashes a forbidden text thought to be written by the jinn. 

As the book opens, Alif ’s computer has just been breached by the “Hand of God,” as the hackers call the state’s electronic security force, and he is scrambling to protect his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other vulnerable groups in autocratic states across the region. The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and when it turns out the fiancé is the Hand, and the state security forces come after Alif with guns drawn, he must go underground, trying all the while to fight back against a piece of code he wrote to protect his lover but which the Hand is using to create the most sophisticated state surveillance the world has ever known. When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days,the secret book of the jinn, has fallen into his hands and may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death. 

With shades of Neal Stephenson, Philip Pullman, and The Thousand and One Nights, Wilson’s Alif the Unseen is a tour de force that will enchant readers— a sophisticated melting pot of ideas, philosophy, religion, technology, and spirituality smuggled inside an irresistible page-turner.  

Thanks so much to NetGalley, Night Shade Books, and Grove Press!

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4 thoughts on “Up for Review: Mythology and Folklore from NetGalley

  1. Pingback: January Round-Up | Violin in a Void

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