Thursday, June 11, 2015

Incoming Books: June 11, 2015

Seveneves - Neil Stephenson

We have our Incoming Books feature for June 11, 2015.

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon comes an exciting and thought-provoking science fiction epic—a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years.

What would happen if the world were ending?

A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.

But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain . . .

Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.

A writer of dazzling genius and imaginative vision, Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a magnificent work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is both extraordinary and eerily recognizable. As he did in Anathem, Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle, and Reamde, Stephenson explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in a breathtaking saga that is daring, engrossing, and altogether brilliant.

William Morrow | 05/19/2015 | Hardbound | Pages: 880

The Hanged Man - PN Elrod

The Hanged Man by P.N. Elrod

On a freezing Christmas Eve in 1879, a forensic psychic reader is summoned from her Baker Street lodgings to the scene of a questionable death. Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury (named after her godmother, the current Queen of England) is adamant that the death in question is a magically compromised murder and not a suicide, as the police had assumed, after the shocking revelation contained by the body in question, Alex must put her personal loss aside to uncover the deeper issues at stake, before more bodies turn up.

Turning to some choice allies--the handsome, prescient Lieutenant Brooks, the brilliant, enigmatic Lord Desmond, and her rapscallion cousin James--Alex will have to marshal all of her magical and mental acumen to save Queen and Country from a shadowy threat. Our singular heroine is caught up in this rousing gaslamp adventure of cloaked assassins, meddlesome family, and dark magic.

Tor Books | May 2015 | Hardcover | 336 pages

Where - Kit Reed

Where by Kit Reed

In a coastal town on the Outer Carolina Banks, David Ribault and Merrill Poulnot are trying to revive their stale relationship and commit to marriage, and a slick developer claiming to be related to a historic town hero, Rawson Steele, has come to town and is buying up property. Steele makes a romantic advance on Merrill and an unusual 5 a.m appointment outside of town with David. But Steele is a no-show, and at the time of the appointment everyone in the town disappears, removed entirely from our space and time to a featureless isolated village--including Merrill and her young son. David searches desperately but all seems lost for Steele is in the other village with Merrill.

Kit Reed's Where is a spooky, unsettling speculative fiction.

Tor Books | May 2015 | Hardcover | 240 pages

Of Noble Family - Mary Robinette Kowal

Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal

Jane and Vincent have finally gotten some much-needed rest after their adventures in Italy when Vincent receives word that his estranged father has passed away on one of his properties in the West Indies. His brother, who manages the estate, is overwhelmed, and no one else in his family can go. Grudgingly, out of filial duty the couple decide to go.
The sea voyage is long and Jane spends enough time unable to perform glamour that towards the end of the trip she discovers that she is with child. They are overjoyed, but when they finally arrive at the estate to complete what they expect to be routine legal tasks, they realize that nearly everything they came expecting to find had been a lie. Also, the entire estate is in disarray, with horrifying conditions and tensions with the local slave population so high that they are close to revolt.

Jane and Vincent's sense of peril is screaming out for them to flee, but Vincent cannot stand to leave an estate connected with his family in such a condition. They have survived many grand and terrifying adventures in their time, but this one will test their skills and wits more than any they have ever encountered before, this time with a new life hanging in the balance. Mary Robinette Kowal's Of Noble Family is the final book of the acclaimed Glamourist Histories.

Tor Books | April 2015 | Hardcover | 576 pages

Pirate's Alley - Suzanne Johnson

Pirate’s Alley by Suzanne Johnson

After vanquishing undead serial killers and discovering the dark secrets of her family history, wizard sentinel DJ Jaco must now stop the coming preternatural war in Suzanne Johnson's Pirate's Alley.

Wizard sentinel DJ Jaco thought she had gotten used to the chaos of her life in post-Katrina New Orleans, but a new threat is looming, one that will test every relationship she holds dear.

Caught in the middle of a rising struggle between the major powers in the supernatural world--the Wizards, Elves, Vampires and the Fae--DJ finds her loyalties torn and her mettle tested in matters both professional and personal.

Her relationship with enforcer Alex Warin is shaky, her non-husband Quince Randolph is growing more powerful, and her best friend Eugenie has a bombshell that could blow everything to Elfheim and back. And that's before the French pirate Jean Lafitte, newly revived from his latest "death," returns to New Orleans with vengeance on his mind. DJ's assignment? Keep the sexy leader of the historical undead out of trouble. Good luck with that.

Duty clashes with love, loyalty with deception, and friendship with responsibility as DJ navigates passion and politics in the murky waters of a New Orleans caught in the grips of a brutal winter that might have nothing to do with Mother Nature.

War could be brewing, and DJ will be forced to take a stand. But choosing sides won't be that easy.

Tor Books | April 2015 | Hardcover | 352 pages

hover HC final.indd

Hover by Anne A. Wilson

Helicopter pilot Lt. Sara Denning joins a navy battle group with little fanfare--and that's just the way she likes it. After her brother Ian's tragic death, her career path seemed obvious: step into his shoes and enter the Naval Academy, despite her fear of water. Sara's philosophy is simple--blend in, be competent, and above all, never do anything to stand out as a woman in a man's world.

Somewhere along the way, Sara lost herself--her feminine, easygoing soul is now buried under so many defensive layers, she can't reach it anymore.

When she meets strong, self-assured Lt. Eric Marxen, her defenses start to falter. Eric coordinates flight operations for a Navy SEAL team that requests Sara as the exclusive pilot. This blatant show of favoritism causes conflict with the other pilots; Sara's sexist boss seems intent on making her life miserable, and her roommate and best friend, the only other woman on the ship, is avoiding her. It doesn't help that her interactions with Eric leave her reeling.

The endgame of the SEALs' mission is so secret, even Sara doesn't know the reason behind her mandated participation. Soon, though, the training missions become real, and Sara must overcome her fears before they plunge her into danger. When Sara's life is on the line, can she find her true self again and follow the orders of her heart before it is too late?

Anne A. Wilson's Hover is a thrilling, emotional women's journey written by a groundbreaking former navy pilot.

Forge Books | June 2015 | Hardcover | 320 pages

Sly Mongoose - Tobias Buckell

Sly Mongoose by Tobias S. Buckell

Sly Mongoose: a thrilling science fiction tale by the New York Times bestselling author--now featuring brand-new cover art.

Tobias S. Buckell is well known as the New York Times bestselling author of Halo: The Cole Protocol. Tor is proud to reintroduce his early science fiction novels to his many fans in handsome trade paperback editions featuring stunning new cover art.

Welcome to Chilo, a planet blasted by corrosive rain, crushing pressure, and deadly heat. A planet where people live in floating cities high above the inferno. A select group of young men, including fourteen-year-old Timas, risk death to obtain the raw materials necessary for survival by travelling down through the acid clouds to mine the planet's surface.

Timas's life is turned upside down when a man named Pepper crash-lands on the city. Pepper is fleeing a bizarre alien intelligence, and he bears ominous news that a full-scale invasion cannot be far behind.

As Timas and Pepper try to convince the reluctant city government to prepare for war, floating cities all across Chilo fall silent one by one. Time is running out for Timas and Pepper to discover how to defeat an enemy that turns Chilo's own citizens into monsters, and to discover the secret hidden beneath Chilo's deadly clouds--a secret that could save the planet and may prevent interplanetary war.

Tor Books | May 2015 | Trade Paperback | 320 pages

My Real Children - Jo Walton

My Real Children by Jo Walton

It's 2015, and Patricia Cowan is very old. "Confused today," read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. She forgets things she should know-what year it is, major events in the lives of her children. But she remembers things that don't seem possible. She remembers marrying Mark and having four children. And she remembers not marrying Mark and raising three children with Bee instead. She remembers the bomb that killed President Kennedy in 1963, and she remembers Kennedy in 1964, declining to run again after the nuclear exchange that took out Miami and Kiev.

Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War-those were solid things. But after that, did she marry Mark or not? Did her friends all call her Trish, or Pat? Had she been a housewife who escaped a terrible marriage after her children were grown, or a successful travel writer with homes in Britain and Italy? And the moon outside her window: does it host a benign research station, or a command post bristling with nuclear missiles?

Two lives, two worlds, two versions of modern history; each with their loves and losses, their sorrows and triumphs. Jo Walton's My Real Children is the tale of both of Patricia Cowan's lives...and of how every life means the entire world.

Tor Books | May 2015 | Trade Paperback | 336 pages

Now and in the Hour of Our Death - Patrick Taylor

Now and in the Hour of Our Death by Patrick Taylor

Nine years ago, the bloody conflict in Northern Ireland tore apart two young lovers, consuming their hopes and dreams and changing their lives forever. Now, in 1983, Davy McCutcheon and Fiona Kavanagh find themselves worlds apart. Davy, once a bomb-maker for the Provisional IRA, is serving a twenty-five-year sentence in a British prison. Having seen enough of death and violence, he wants nothing more to do with the struggle that cost him his freedom and his love. But old loyalties die hard and, despite himself, Davy is drawn into a dangerous conspiracy on behalf of his fellow Provos . . . .

Meanwhile, Fiona has forged a new life for herself in Vancouver, British Columbia, far away from the war-torn streets of Belfast. Now a vice-principal at a local elementary school, she has a successful career, good friends, and a new man in her life. Yet she remains haunted by painful memories of her troubled homeland--and the love she left behind.

Patrick Taylor's Now and in the Hour of Our Death is a moving and compelling portrait of ordinary men and women caught up in a conflict not of their making, and of the way the past holds onto us even as we try to move on into an uncertain future.

Forge Books | May 2015 | Trade Paperback | 384 pages

Bitter Greens TPB - Kate Forsyth

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (Trade Paperback)

The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love.

French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens...

After Margherita's father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.

Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.

Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.

St. Martin's Griffin | May 2015 | Trade Paperback | 512 pages

The Big Fix - Linda Grimes

The Big Fix by Linda Grimes

Linda Grimes's sexy and hilarious urban fantasy series that began with In a Fix and Quick Fix continues in The Big Fix.

Aura adaptor extraordinaire Ciel Halligan, who uses her chameleon-like abilities to fix her clients' problems--as them--is filling in on set for action superstar Jackson Gunn, whose snake phobia is standing in the way of his completing his latest mega-millions Hollywood blockbuster. There's only one thing Jack fears more than snakes, and that's the possibility of his fans finding out he screams at the sight of one. Going from hero to laughing stock isn't part of his career plan.

Seems like a simple enough job to Ciel, who doesn't particularly like snakes, but figures she can tolerate an afternoon with them, for the right price--which Jack is offering, and then some. What she doesn't count on is finding out that while she was busy wrangling snakes for him, his wife was busy getting killed. When Ciel goes to break the sad news to the star, she finds out Jack was AWOL from her client hideaway at the time of the murder.

Ciel begins to suspect Jack's phobia was phony, and that he only hired her to provide him with an alibi--but if she goes to the police, she'll have to explain how she knows he wasn't really on set. Up against a wall, Ciel calls on her best-friend-turned-love-interest Billy, and her not-so-ex-crush Mark, to help her set up the sting of a lifetime.

Tor Books | May 2015 | Hardcover | 320 pages

Leviathan - Jack Campbell

The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier: Leviathan (#5) by Jack Campbell

Two Syndicate World star systems have fallen prey to a mysterious fleet of warships—a fleet controlled entirely by artificial intelligence—that is now targeting Alliance space. The warships are no mystery to Geary. They were developed by his government to ensure security, but malfunctioned. If the Syndics learn the truth, the war with the Alliance will resume with a vengeance.

As the government attempts to conceal the existence of the A.I. warships—and its role in their creation—Geary pursues them, treading a fine line between mutiny and obedience. But it soon becomes clear that his fleet is no match for the firepower of the machine-piloted armada.

With the help of the Dancer species of aliens, Geary has tracked the A.I. ships to their secret base in the supposedly mythical Unity Alternate star system where his fleet, the last hope of the Alliance’s future, will end the conflict at any cost…

Hardcover | 336 Pages | 5 May 2015 | Ace | Adult

Uprooted - Naomi Novik

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Del Rey | May 19, 2015 | 448 Pages | ARC


A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Deborah Harkness’s sparkling debut, A Discovery of Witches, has brought her into the spotlight and galvanized fans around the world. In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont.

Harkness has created a universe to rival those of Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon, and Elizabeth Kostova, and she adds a scholar’s depth to this riveting tale of magic and suspense. The story continues in book two, Shadow of Night, and concludes with The Book of Life, coming from Viking in July 2014.

Paperback | 592 Pages | 27 Dec 2011 | Penguin Books | Adult

Shadow of Night - Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

J. K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Anne Rice—only a few writers capture the imagination the way that Deborah Harkness has with her New York Times–bestselling All Souls trilogy. A Discovery of Witches introduces reluctant witch Diana Bishop, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and the battle for a lost, enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.

Paperback | 592 Pages | 28 May 2013 | Penguin Books | Adult


The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Fans of the All Souls Trilogy sent this highly anticipated finale straight to #1 on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list. Bringing the series’ magic and suspense to a deeply satisfying conclusion, The Book of Life is poised to become an even bigger phenomenon in paperback.

Diana and Matthew time-travel back from Elizabethan London to make a dramatic return to the present—facing new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home, Sept-Tours, they reunite with the beloved cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.

Paperback | 576 Pages | 26 May 2015 | Penguin Books | Adult

The Acolyte - Nick Cutter

The Acolyte by Nick Cutter

Jonah Murtag is an Acolyte on the New Bethlehem police force. His job: eradicate all heretical religious faiths, their practitioners, and artefacts. Murtag’s got problems—one of his partners is a zealot, and he’s in love with the other one. Trouble at work, trouble at home. Murtag realizes that you can rob a citizenry of almost anything, but you can’t take away its faith. When a string of bombings paralyzes the city, religious fanatics are initially suspected, but startling clues point to a far more ominous perpetrator. If Murtag doesn’t get things sorted out, the Divine Council will dispatch The Quints, aka: Heaven’s Own Bagmen. The clock is ticking towards doomsday for the Chosen of New Bethlehem. And Jonah Murtag’s got another problem. The biggest and most worrisome . . . Jonah isn’t a believer anymore.

Paperback | 304 pages | May 5th 2015 | ChiZine Publications

InterstellarNet Enigma - Edward M. Lerner

InterstellarNet: Enigma by Edward M. Lerner

Humanity once feared that we might be alone in the universe. Now we know better. And we've learned there are worse things than being alone ...

Contact with other intelligent races in nearby star systems seemed to have answered the age-old question at the center of the Fermi Paradox: Where is everybody? But when Joshua Matthews lands a new job that will give him access to vast new troves of data on the subject, suddenly everything goes wrong for him. Someone is sabotaging his life. Finding out why leads in astonishing and dangerous directions. It is as if he has tugged on one thread, very gently--nd caused everything humanity knows about its place in the universe to unravel, awakening the enmity of unsuspected ancient powers.

Includes the 2015 Hugo-nominated novelette, "Championship B'tok."

Fox Acre | Paperback Edition June 30, 2015 | 440 pages

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Peter Orullian: Music Playlist for TRIAL OF INTENTIONS


We have a guest post from Peter Orullian. It’s a collection of some of the music that he thought would represent his latest novel – TRIAL OF INTENTIONS. It’s the second book of the Vault of Heaven series and it’s a dark epic fantasy with a musical magic system – meaning that some of the magic in the books is based upon music. Which is perfect for this guest post, since besides being a writer Peter is also a musician. For more information on Peter Orullian click on this text to read our recent interview with him.

Here Peter shares his thoughts on the songs he’s chosen, along with imbedded YouTube videos. *Please note readers may have to visit the Layers of Thought website to access the videos or link to YouTube to access the music. Enjoy!


Metal (& More): Playlist for TRIAL OF INTENTIONS

So, I got chatting with Shellie about what I should write for this guest post. And she made a fantastic suggestion: a playlist. And while it’s true I listen to pretty much everything, I’m going mostly metal with this.

Now, I should be clear. I don’t listen to music when I write. Music isn’t a background thing for me. It requires my full attention. And that’s whether it’s vocal music or strictly instrumental. So, by “playlist,” what I really mean is songs that seem to have some natural tie or relevance to TRIAL OF INTENTIONS.


With that said, let’s get going. And note, I’m going to paste in some of the salient lyrics and talk as much as I can about how they create resonance with my book. In some instances, I’ll have to pull back a little to avoid spoilers and stuff in book three—which isn’t even out yet.

First is “Still Water,” by Fates Warning. Check out these lyrics:

Feeling the weight of unseen chains
This routine is growing thin
It's a narrow path that we walk
And the walls are closing in, caving in

Is there room still for us to grow?
Within the bounds we've come to know

Beneath the dust of our days
Hides the key to our emotions
And it's been a while since we've been moved
Without going through the motions, no emotions

Is there time still for us to show?
Feelings, we forgot long ago

Living life in still water
Blinded by what we've become
You get tired of screaming
When you're not reaching anyone

Now, this is most likely commentary on a dead or dying relationship. But, in my series there’s a collection of races sealed inside the Bourne who were sent there rather unjustly by the gods. Simply put: The gods didn’t think these races (called Inveterae) had any real potential, so they bound these races there with other truly vile races. The Inveterae became slaves, for all intents and purposes—“chained.” And at the end of the day, the point of creation--in the world I’ve created—is growth. These races aren’t able to achieve that in the Bourne. So, you can see the relevance of the lyrics. Check out the tune:

Next is Metallica’s “Unforgiven.” I’m one who likes the Black album. And when this particular track is turned way the hell up on good speakers, it’s damned forceful. Consider these lyrics:

New blood joins this earth,
And quickly he's subdued.
Through constant pained disgrace
The young boy learns their rules.

With time the child draws in.
This whipping boy done wrong.
Deprived of all his thoughts
The young man struggles on and on he's known
A vow unto his own,
That never from this day
His will they'll take away.

What I've felt,
What I've known
Never shined through in what I've shown.
Never be.
Never see.
Won't see what might have been.

In the world I’ve created there’s a place known as The Scar. It’s a place left barren by war. And through a series of circumstances, young foundlings and babes are sent there to live with an exile. These are children abandoned by their parents. And their adoptive father, this exile, teaches them hard lessons, and to fight. It’s a tough regimen, and includes learning to distrust people. And many of the children don’t make it. They commit suicide. The emotional weight of their lives—compounded with the dire life in the Scar—simply becomes too much.


Let’s reach back now, though, to Black Sabbath and “Children of the Grave.” Here’s a section of the lyrics:

Revolution in their minds - the children start to march
Against the world in which they have to live
And all the hate that's in their hearts
They're tired of being pushed around
And told just what to do

This is most pertinent to the Inveterate I mentioned above. In TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, I have a POV character who is Inveterae. And his primary objective in life it to try and liberate his people from the Bourne.


Now let’s talk about Blind Guardian’s “Twilight of the Gods.” As I mentioned above, the gods that put my world in place have abandoned it. And in the absence of these gods, those races sealed behind the Veil are trying to find a way out—and they have an inkling that it might have something to do with the Vault of Heaven (the sky). And by the way, they’ve grown more bitter with the passing of the ages. In fact, most of the peoples of the Eastlands believe these cast off races are evil by nature.

So, with that in mind, check out these lyrics:

How've they dared to be
Such misguided creatures
How've they dared to be
Of such evil nature
Spiral up to doors all sealed
No turning back
Red door to Discordia

Steal the stars
Deceive the day
A sign of evil
They're gone with a final warning

Witness the twilight of the gods
Will they ever return
A storm will take us
And then wipe us out
There's no retreat


What playlist would be complete with Maiden, right? This time, I’ll include “Wasted Years.” This song and some of its lyrics have several allusions to my series. One that jumps out at me is this:

So understand
Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years
Face up, make your stand

The correlation is kind of obvious isn’t it? My character Tahn begins with a loss of memory for his first twelve years of life. And once it’s restored to him, he learns that he spent most of that time in a barren waste. And ultimately, he’s got to go to a place called Tillinghast to make a kind of accounting. With that, enjoy some Maiden.


And how about Avenged Sevenfold and their track “This Means War?” Epic fantasy is riddled with conflict. Battles and war are often central to the narrative. My series has a major conflict looming. And one of those who appears to be trying to answer this threat of war is far from a decorated, experienced war hero. Consider these lyrics, then:

No home to call my own
No finding someone new
No one to break the fall
No one to see me through
No name to carry on
No promise for today
No one to hear the call
No tattered flag to raise


Next comes Five Finger Death Punch and their track “The Wrong Side of Heaven.” Take a look at these lyrics:

Arms wide open, I stand alone.
I'm no hero, and I'm not made of stone.
Right or wrong, I can hardly tell.
I'm on the wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side of hell.
The wrong side of heaven, and the righteous side, the righteous side of hell.

This describes more than one of my protagonists. Come to that, it also describes some of my antagonists, too. For my purpose today, though, let’s stick with my protagonists. Early in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, one of my main characters makes an awful choice. It appears to be the right choice, but it can also easily be seen as wrong, or at the very least . . . reprehensible. These situations that challenge conventional definitions of what is moral and right are rich terrain for writers. Plus, the track rocks.

Now let’s turn to Within Temptation. Specifically, let’s look at their track “And We Run.” I’m one of those who digs the collaboration here with Xzibit. But regardless, read this:

It burns into your heart
The darkness that you fear
You were never free
And you never realized

Take your breath
'Till nothing's left
Scars of life
Upon your chest
And I know
Wherever it goes

And we run
With a lonely heart
And we run, for this killing love
And we run, 'till the heavens above

This—as some of the other song choices in this playlist—could apply to more than one character or scenario in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS. But maybe the most salient is the character Kett. He’s an Inveterae—one of those unjustly imprisoned in the Bourne. For millennia, his people have lived there. Slaved there. And that bit about “Scars of life upon your chest” . . . that could literally refer to the branding that is done in the Bourne. Without giving too much away, I can tell you Kett wants out. And he wants to liberate his people. Along the way . . . well, let’s just say that the reference to “killing love” is very relevant. As is the whole reference to “heavens above.” I mean, my series is entitled The Vault of Heaven, right?

And, oh man, Stone Sour’s “Tired.” This song hits some chords with my series, and TRIALS OF INTENTIONS, in particular. Have a look at these lyrics:

I just want to watch the whole world burn
Lost a million times and I won't learn
Show me someone innocent, I'll show you there's no proof
I may be gone but I'm no fool

I'm not close
I'm not safe
I don't know
Don't know
Am I better off in chains?

The feeling in these lyrics of being lost, defeated, of wanting to simply see everything go up in flames because things seem hopeless . . . all that very much applies to the Children of the Scar (the orphans raised in a waste that I mentioned above), as well as those living inside the Bourne.

But let’s tackle it straight on with Devin Townsend’s “Suicide.” Check out these lyrics:

So I hide my internal suicide
All my pride just to keep it inside...

I deal with the topic of Suicide in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, since young kids living in the Scar often make this choice. Their lives seem so hopeless. And not to put too fine a point on it, I recently had a friend make this choice. It affected me. It affected the book. I didn’t know my friend was suffering. He never said anything to me. So, this one hits home.


By the way, I also could have included “Life” by Townsend. But I’ll save it for now. If you do go listen to it, though, you’ll see what I mean.

Next let’s take a look at DGM and their track “Reason.” Great band doing some great things. To get into the relevance, first read these lyrics:

I can't be there 'cause I run out of energy
If you could only see
Trying my best to convince you that
I don't mind

There's nowhere to run
Reason is calling
No more pretending
This time it's coming the end
Coming the end

There are several saliencies in this bit of text. First, one of the magical classes in my world are called Sheason. Quite literally when they use Resonance (the magical principle in my world), they are left depleted of their life’s energy. But at a higher level, Vendanj (the Sheason in my story) is trying to convince individuals and nations that the threat from the Bourne is real. It’s not a myth. And the invasion they face is world-altering. A final end.

Okay, let’s move back to the Children of the Scar with Disturbed and their album The Lost Children. On that record, they have a track entitled “Hell.” Now, check out these lyrics:

Read me tonight, when the warnings said leave a shudder upon you
Running from all that you feared in your life
Soul of the night, when the sun mislead paint a horror upon you
Marking the moment, displaying in my ghost of a life!
And I can't get round the way you left me out in the open
To leave me to die!
So how can I, forget the way you lead me through the path into Heaven
To leave me behind!

Now I can't stay behind
Save me, from wreaking my vengeance
Upon you, too chilling more than I can tell
Burning, now I bring you Hell

Where do I start. First, you may recall that the castoffs sent to the Scar are often just babes, who are left in a dead tree. And all these Children of the Scar are ghosts of a kind. On one hand, you now know that many of them choose a way to Heaven, suicide. But for Tahn, he’s on a path to learn more about who he is. And it could make him bitter, if he’s not careful. In fact, this also applies to another of my characters in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS—her name is Wendra, and she has the power of a music magic. These two characters are within their rights to wreak their vengeance for how they were mistreated as youths. There are accounts to settle.

No playlist of mine is complete without Nightwish. And here I’ll use “I Want My Tears Back.” Again, first take a look at these lyrics:

Where is the wonder, where's the awe?
Where's dear Alice knocking on the door?
Where's the trapdoor that takes me there?
Where the real is shattered by a Mad March Hare
Where is the wonder, where's the awe?
Where are the sleepless nights I used to live for?
Before the years take me
I wish to see the lost in me
I want my tears back!
I want my tears back now!
A ballet on a grove
Still growing young all alone
A rag doll, a best friend

These words really hit at what is sad about the Scar and the children sent there. But it equally applies to the children being sold into the Bourne for purposes I’ve not yet revealed yet in the books. The relevance is for children who grow up through compromised childhoods. Through the suffering and tears they miss the best part of what it means to be a child and move on to adulthood. On another level, though, I’ll apply it to characters in my world who may not have had a particularly challenging childhood, and can mourn a simpler time gone by—lost, if you will—when the world wasn’t so hard. And I include “ballet on a grove . . . a rag doll, a best friend,” because of the city of science in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS—it’s called Aubade Grove. And Tahn meets an old friend there from his childhood. Their adventure in the book is among my favorites.

Okay, like Nightwish, Queensryche will appear on any my playlists of mine. Here, I’m including “Neue Regal” (New Rule). This is a haunting tune. A sample of the lyrics:

I will light the way for us to find
Order of a new kind
Join us on the stay the road is mine
Poets line in a rhyme of silence
Gathered from the winter air
Warms the children's eyes they see
The time is near for the signs

Here, there are two immediate relevancies. One is to the Quiet from the Bourne—those who wish to invade the Eastlands, ending their long imprisonment and issuing in a new era in the history of my fantasy world. But maybe the stronger tie with this lyric is the League of Civility, a society given to militant social reform. They aren’t the “bad” guys. In fact, on the face of it, their agenda seems quite reasonable. But their methods to achieve it are not, which includes indoctrinating children to their credo. It’s rather insidious. So, now, listen to Geoff rip.

And one more from Queensryche, “The Mission,” from Operation Mindcrime.

I search the past back to a time
When I was younger
A target for the new society
Picked to displace the leaders
Countering objectives
Of this new underground reality

Waiting for days longer
'til sister comes to wash my sins away
She is the lady that can ease my sorrow
My love for her
Will help me find my way

Uh, did Tate know I would one day write this book? Heh. Consider Tahn trying to reclaim his forgotten youth. Consider that he’s asked to take on a task—not as the chosen one, because others have been asked (and failed)—that puts him in the breech. He’s going to be at odds not just with the Bourne, but with the League of Civility. Not a desirable position. And amidst it all, he’s got two women in his life—a sister, and a stranger he comes to love—to help him. The whole “comes to wash my sins away” would be a huge spoiler if I explained its relevance. But trust me. It’s on point.


I also have to include “Eyes of a Stranger.” (Can you tell I like Queensryche?) The germane lyrics:

All alone now
Except for the memories
Of what we had and what we knew
Everytime I try to leave it behind me
I see something that reminds me of you
Every night the dreams return to haunt me
Your rosary wrapped around your throat
I lie awake and sweat, afraid to fall asleep
I see your face looking back at me

And I raise my head and stare
Into the eyes of a stranger
I've always known that the mirror never lies
People always turn away
From the eyes of a stranger
Afraid to know what
Lies behind the stare

Okay, so in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, right in the prologue, Tahn recalls a tragic moment from his childhood. His memory has been restored to him, and the memories are rushing back. The result of all this is that he realizes he’s not who he thought he was. Not entirely. Yes, what he recalls is at least part of him. But the larger part is foreign, strange. It’s not all bad. But some of it is painful. And the sum total of his remembered past, and some of his recent choices, make him . . . complicated. For some, he’ll be a pariah. For others, a source of hope.


Bear with me for another QR selection. This time: “Silent Lucidity.” The lyrics:

There's a place I like to hide
A doorway that I run through in the night
Relax child, you were there
But only didn't realize and you were scared
It's a place where you will learn
To face your fears, retrace the years
And ride the whims of your mind
Commanding in another world
Suddenly you hear and see
This magic new dimension

I- will be watching over you
I- am gonna help you see it through
I- will protect you in the night
I- am smiling next to you, in Silent Lucidity

I wanted to have at least one tune that wasn’t all heavy. This song is good and relevant to Wendra, my character who has lost a child, and tries to help another small boy. Wendra, you may remember, is my character with the powerful music magic ability. She feels a powerful responsibility to those people, kids included, who are being trafficked into the Bourne. She wants to help them. And early in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS, there’s a gentle moment when she sings—not with her unique ability—but just as a mother might. It puts me in mind of this song.


Okay, to close out we’ll look at some Dream Theater. Here’s “The Enemy Inside.” Consider these lyrics:

Over and over again
I relive the moment
I'm bearing the burden within
Open wounds hidden under my skin
Pain as real as a cut that bleeds
The face I see every time I try to sleep
Is staring at me crying
I'm running from the enemy inside
Looking for the life I left behind
These suffocating memories are etched upon my mind
And I can't escape from the enemy inside

I'm a burden
I'm a travesty
I'm a prisoner of regret
Between the flashbacks and the violent dreams
I am hanging on the edge
Disaster lurks around the bend
Paradise came to an end
And no magic pill
Can bring it back again

This one really hits on Tahn’s formerly hidden past. As it’s returned to him, it’s challenging for him in many ways. But also, he’s not simply a puppet or slave—either to his past or to those who have designs for his present. He makes his own decisions, and the heartbreaking choices are hard ones. They create new moments of pain to go with memories of friends from his past who he’s lost in many equally painful ways. All of this is hard to escape, because it’s part of him. Still, there’s also a part of his past that was good, and he wants to reclaim that for his life now. Not to mention that it may help in the conflict and threat of invasion that is looming. This is all complicated by Tahn’s murky origins. So much of everything feels tenuous. In the face of it, he pushes forward.

Last, but not least, how about Dream Theater’s “Outcry.” This is a huge, sweeping tune. The lyrics:

The rebel in us all
Something is tired of being pushed around
But freedom has a price
The cost is buried in the ground
We suffered far too long
We gather now
Growing stronger
We will not be ignored
Any longer
Our anthem will guide us
Rise up be counted
Stand strong and unite
Wait for the outcry
Resistance is calling tonight

This is a war song. A battle cry. And finally, there are characters and nations in my world who tire of being preyed upon. They stand. Some will fall. Just as others have fallen in the past. But they know they have to try. And part of how they intend to do it is with what I call the Mor Nation Refrains—a set of powerful (magical) war songs. But they have to go to a xenophobic people to ask for their use. Nevertheless, nations are gathering to try and form an alliance to put down this threat once and for all.


So, there you have it. You should know that I had to significantly pare this back, just because it was getting hellaciously long. I mean, I cut 56 bands from my initial list. But because I’m having fun doing these articles on music and fantasy (see my metal one on, for example), I’ll be doing more and I’ll pick up those 56 bands and more in future articles.

Hope you dig.

Your Rock Lord,

Peter Orullian


Peter Orullian has worked at Xbox for over a decade, which is good, because he’s a gamer. He’s toured internationally with various bands and been a featured vocalist at major rock and metal festivals, which is good, because he’s a musician. He’s also learned to hold his tongue, because he’s a contrarian. Peter has published several short stories, which he thinks are good. THE UNREMEMBERED and TRIAL OF INTENTIONS are his first novels, which he hopes you will think are good. He lives in Seattle, where it rains all the damn time. He has nothing to say about that.

Visit Peter at, or follow him at @peterorullian.


The heart of grief lies somewhere between one man’s expectation and another’s intent.

Enemies come. But one enemy believes the gods were wrong about his exiled people. And he’s impatient.

Nations arm. But one man finds a realm paying for its gearworks with an awful currency. And he’s angry.

Politicians lie. But one leader lies because he would end the days of slums and porridge. And he’s ambitious.

Songs restore. But one woman will train to make her rough song a weapon.

And she’s in pain.

Magi influence. But one sage follows not his order’s creed; he follows his heart. And his heart is bitter.

And one young man remembers. He remembers friends who despaired in a place left barren by war. Friends who did self-slaughter. But he also remembers years in a society of science. A gentler place. So he leaves the rest, daring to think he can lead not in battle, but by finding a way to prevent self-slaughter, prevent war.

The heart of grief . . . is a trial of intentions.

Tor Books | May 2015 | Hardcover | 672 pages

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...