James Nicoll Reviews

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Books Received, August 20 — August 26

27 Aug, 2022



Crusaders by Oliver Legrand (August 2022)

CRUSADERS, the roleplaying game of superheroic action, takes you back to the 1980s, at the time of some of the most awesome comics epics ever published – but with a far simpler system than the great superhero RPGs of this glorious decade.

Leaving behind superfluous stuff like sub-stats, complex calculations or real-world physics, CRUSADERS combines genre emulation with old school spirit, using a simple, robust yet elegant D100-based core mechanic.

This 100-page rulebook includes (among other things) the description of more than 40 powers (with a myriad of options and possible refinements), GM-ing tips on how to create your own setting, sample villains and even some elegant optional rules for those who want to make their game grittier or more four-color! 

Folk Songs of North America

Folk Songs of North America compiled by Alan Lomax (1960)

The folk songs of North America in the English language. 

Light Perpetual Book Three

Light Perpetual: Book Three by Andrzej Sapkowski (October 2022)

The epic conclusion to the Hussite Trilogy by the bestselling author of The Witcher finds Reynevan — infamous magician and disgraced scoundrel — on the run after being sentenced to death by the Catholic Church. 

Reynevan is besieged on all sides and faces torture and execution if he makes any mistake in his quest to find his beloved, Jutta of Apolda. Aided by his companions — the ever-pragmatic Scharley and the mysterious being known as Samson Honeypot — his journey takes him all over the Bohemian realm. 

And Reynevan will need every ounce of his wit, intelligence and cunning if he is to succeed in his search. The political and religious alliances of the Hussite Wars are ever shifting, and the battle for dominance threatens to devour anyone who gets in their way. 

Faced too with dark magical forces summoned by the malevolent Birkart of Grellenort, aided by his terrifying band of Back Riders, Reynevan knows the odds of finding Jutta decrease with every obstacle he is forced to overcome along the way. But he has never let impossible odds stop him before — and he wA Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannonill be reunited with his love, whatever the cost. 

A Day of Fallen Night

A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon (February 2023)

The long-awaited second instalment in Samantha Shannon’s Sunday Times and New York Times-bestselling series — The new Game of Thrones’ (Stylist)Tunuva Melim is a sister of the Priory. For fifty years, she has trained to slay wyrms – but none have appeared since the Nameless One, and the younger generation is starting to question the Priory’s purpose. To the north, in the Queendom of Inys, Sabran the Ambitious has married the new King of Hróth, narrowly saving both realms from ruin. Their daughter, Glorian, trails in their shadow – exactly where she wants to be. The dragons of the East have slept for centuries. Dumai has spent her life in a Seiikinese mountain temple, trying to wake the gods from their long slumber. Now someone from her mother’s past is coming to upend her fate. When the Dreadmount erupts, bringing with it an age of terror and violence, these women must find the strength to protect humankind from a devastating threat. 

Intricate and epic, A Day of Fallen Night sweeps readers back to the world of A Priory of the Orange Tree, showing us a course of events that shaped it for generations to come.

Africa Risen A New Era of Speculative Fiction

Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction Sheree Renée Thomas & Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki & Zelda Knight (November 2022)

From award-winning editorial team Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight comes an anthology of thirty-two original stories showcasing the breadth of fantasy and science fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora. 

A group of cabinet ministers query a supercomputer containing the minds of the country’s ancestors. A child robot on a dying planet uncovers signs of fragile new life. A descendent of a rain goddess inherits her grandmother’s ability to change her appearance — and perhaps the world. 

Created in the legacy of the seminal, award-winning anthology series Dark Matter, Africa Risen celebrates the vibrancy, diversity, and reach of African and Afro-Diasporic SFF and reaffirms that Africa is not rising — it’s already here. 

Bitter Medicine

Bitter Medicine by Mia Tsai (March 2023)

In this xianxia-inspired contemporary fantasy, a Chinese immortal and a French elf navigate romance, familial loyalty, and workplace demands. In her debut novel, Taiwanese American author Mia Tsai has created an unforgettable paranormal adventure that is full of humor, passion, and depth.

As a descendant of the Chinese god of medicine, ignored middle child Elle was destined to be a doctor. Instead, she is underemployed as a mediocre magical calligrapher at the fairy temp agency. Nevertheless, she challenges herself by covertly outfitting Luc, her client and crush, with high-powered glyphs. 

Half-elf Luc, the agency’s top security expert, has his own secret: he’s responsible for a curse laid from an old assignment. To heal them, he’ll need to perform his job duties with unrelenting excellence and earn time off from his tyrannical boss. 

When Elle saves Luc’s life, they begin a dangerous collaboration, but their chemistry blooms. Happiness, for once, is an option for them both. But Elle is loyal to her family, and Luc is bound by his true name. To win freedom from duty, they must make unexpected sacrifices.