Throwback Thursday: Michael Cobley’s SHADOWKINGS series


Today, we wanted to draw your attention to Michael Cobley‘s first series, the grimdark fantasy Shadowkings trilogy: SHADOWKINGS, SHADOWGODS and SHADOWMASQUE. The trilogy is still available widely in eBook in English and German, and various rights are available (please get in touch if you have any questions).

The novels were published before the grimdark wave came to dominate the fantasy genre (albeit relatively briefly), and was published in the UK by Earthlight, between 2001-5. Here’s the synopsis for the first novel…

For one thousand bright and fortunate years the Khatrimantine Empire had guaranteed peace and benevolence. Then came the vast hordes of the Mogaun, driven by an evil deity, the Lord of Twilight, corrupter and devourer. At the very pinnacle of his triumph, the Lord of Twilight made a fatal mistake, shattering his essence into five parts: five lost souls destined to become the Shadowkings. Now, sixteen years after the invasion, Mogaun warlords and petty despots squabble amid the ruins. Yet ancient powers are stirring and the Empire’s last valiant defenders are gathering their strength, hoping that one decisive strike can reverse their long, bleak decline.

The covers at the top of this piece are for the current eBook editions of the trilogy, available through the JABberwocky eBook Program. Here are the original covers…

The series was well-received on publication, and here are just a few of the reviews the series has enjoyed…

‘A pacey action and adventure story, packed with battles, rescues and political double-dealing… a refreshing and believable take on the Fight Against Insurmountable Evil Foes sub-genre, without dispensing with any of the familiar staples that make the genre what it is.’ Infinity Plus on SHADOWKINGS

‘Impressively unpleasant first fantasy novel… If it were not for its unrelenting bleakness, Shadowkings would be a fairly standard story of apocalyptic evil and heroic good–Cobley has a sense, however, of how bad a battlefield or a ruined town smells, and his dark magic is appropriately sinister.’ Roz Kaveney on SHADOWKINGS

SHADOWKINGS, was brutal, cruel and realistic in a way genre usually avoids. SHADOWGOD, his second, is not only lighter, it is better written and makes good use of the world Cobley has created… writing to rival David Gemmell.’Guardian (Jon Courtenay-Grimwood)

‘Unconventional high fantasy trilogy… [Cobley] has taken traditional sword and sorcery to some new and perhaps uncomfortable places… Once again Mike has succeeded in producing an unusually dark and claustrophobic piece of work, though it is a lot less bleak than its predecessors. It is also a lot less convoluted with the battle lines more clearly drawn.’ Infinity Plus on SHADOWMASQUE

‘[Cobley] drew the characters with verve and style, encouraging the reader to participate in the story he was unfolding. The plot was complex but clearly spun out, providing tantalising teasers at the end of each episode, which made me want to skip ahead to the next time that particular thread was picked up and woven. In my opinion, a clear winner for Michael Cobley.’ SF Crowsnest on SHADOWMASQUE

The series has also been published by Heyne in Germany. Here are the covers…

Michael Cobley is also the author of the critically-acclaimed Humanity’s Fire series, which includes the trilogy SEEDS OF EARTH, THE ORPHANED WORLDS and THE ASCENDANT STARS, and the stand-alone ANCESTRAL MACHINES. All four novels are published by Orbit Books in the UK and US, and Heyne in Germany.

Cobley’s ANCESTRAL MACHINES take flight in Germany


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ANCESTRAL MACHINES, Michael Cobley‘s fourth Humanity’s Fire novel, is out today in Germany! Published by Heyne as DIE JÄGER DES LICHTS, here’s the synopsis…

Für die Freiheit

Sie ist ein Meisterwerk interstellarer Ingenieurskunst: eine künstliche Sonne, um die zweihundert Planeten kreisen. Lange galt sie als ein Mahnmal des Friedens, doch das hat sich nun geändert. Die machtgierigen Herren der künstlichen Sonne nutzen ihre Energie, um fremde Planeten aus ihrem Orbit zu ziehen und zu versklaven. Als ein fruchtbarer, grüner Agri-Planet in den Dunstkreis der Sonne gerät, macht sich der Kapitän eines Schmugglerschiffs auf den Weg in ihr Zentrum, um den Planeten zu retten…

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ANCESTRAL MACHINES is published in the UK and US by Orbit Books. Here’s the English-language synopsis…

No world is safe.

The Warcage: two hundred worlds harnessed to an articial sun in a feat of unprecedented stellar engineering. Built to travel through space as a monument to peace between alien species, now its voracious rulers have turned it into a nightmarish wasteland, capturing new planets for slaves and resources, then discarding the old.

Now, when a verdant agri-world is pulled out of its orbit, the captain of a smuggler ship must journey into the Warcage to rescue his crew.

Heyne have also published the first three novels in the series: DIE SAAT DER ERDE, WAISEN DES ALLES and DIE AHNEN DER STERNE.

The series is published in the UK and US by Orbit: SEEDS OF EARTH, THE ORPHANED WORLDS and THE ASCENDANT STARS.

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Michael’s series has been widely praised. Here are just some of the great reviews his novels have received…

‘There’s a grand tradition within SF of galaxy-wide, aeon-spanning scenarios, with escalating magnitudes of scale and concomitant ramping up of narrative tension, and Michael Cobley’s Humanity’s Fire series is the latest example… Cobley excels at presenting his thoroughly lived-in future with a slew of technological marvels and an engaging cast of characters.’ Guardian on ANCESTRAL MACHINES

‘Cobley wastes no time in flaunting his honed, merciless skills… Cobley is taking the techniques pioneered by van Vogt, Charles Harness and other bold visionaries and ramping them up for a purely twenty-first-century kind of SF… Cobley takes all these characters, plus others, and pushes them along a non-stop, unrelenting, madcap set of adventures. The brio and joy of this storytelling is contagious. Here is a space opera which unashamedly honors the roots of the genre while expanding the remit of the mode… If you want a rousing space adventure full of sense of wonder that is also ideationally challenging, then you need look no further than ANCESTRAL MACHINE.’ Locus on ANCESTRAL MACHINES

‘If you want some solid sci-fi with cracking, fully-rounded characters backed up with solid prose alongside dialogue in fairly dark future, then Michael’s Humanity’s Fire series has probably already been on your radar for quite some time… a book that has cracking action, quirky humour as well as people that you really care about. Back this up with a cracking overall arc makes this perhaps the best book set in this world for me. Magic.’ Falcata Times on ANCESTRAL MACHINES

‘This is an absolute cracker of a space opera, fast-paced despite being over 400 pages… the larger scale exciting the imagination, the personal scale keeping it nicely relatable, with characters we genuinely care about.’ Forbidden Planet on ANCESTRAL MACHINES

‘A complex, finely detailed thriller-cum-space opera… SEEDS OF EARTH has everything: well-realised extraterrestrials, scheming artificial intelligences, set-piece space battles and bizarre technology from the dawn of the galaxy. The first book of the trilogy is also a convincing portrayal of political machinations and the plight of individuals caught up in events beyond their comprehension.’ Guardian

‘Cobley’s debut, first published in the U.K. in 2009, is a well-constructed space opera with a sense of vast scope, populated with an array of beautifully differentiated intelligences both organic and artificial… this is a thick and satisfying 10-course meal of starchy pageantry, meaty characters, bitter losses, and sweet romance.’ Publishers Weekly on SEEDS OF EARTH

‘Fast and exciting… an excellent middle book in the trilogy, expanding on SEEDS OF EARTH and setting everything in place for a thrilling conclusion.’ Waterstone’s Book Quarterly on THE ORPHANED WORLDS

Cobley writes energetic space opera… There are joyous moments of invention.’ SFX on THE ORPHANED WORLDS

‘All in all, this is an excellent space opera, full of imagination and invention. The human characters are mostly likeable and the inhuman ones send a shiver down the spine, especially the ones with machine parts and the parasites. There is a pleasing familiarity to much of it for those well-read in the genre and even for those who only do their Science Fiction on film and television. The writing is crisp and clear throughout and it all leads beautifully to a glorious conclusion… I highly recommend the series. Michael Cobley has added a fine piece of work to a grand tradition and I think old E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith is lying tranquil in his grave.’ SF Crowsnest on THE ASCENDANT STARS

Cobley’s ANCESTRAL MACHINES


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Michael Cobley‘s fourth Humanity’s Fire novel, ANCESTRAL MACHINES now has a Germany cover! Due to be published in January 2017 by Heyne as DIE JÄGER DES LICHTS, here’s the synopsis…

Für die Freiheit

Sie ist ein Meisterwerk interstellarer Ingenieurskunst: eine künstliche Sonne, um die zweihundert Planeten kreisen. Lange galt sie als ein Mahnmal des Friedens, doch das hat sich nun geändert. Die machtgierigen Herren der künstlichen Sonne nutzen ihre Energie, um fremde Planeten aus ihrem Orbit zu ziehen und zu versklaven. Als ein fruchtbarer, grüner Agri-Planet in den Dunstkreis der Sonne gerät, macht sich der Kapitän eines Schmugglerschiffs auf den Weg in ihr Zentrum, um den Planeten zu retten…

ANCESTRAL MACHINES is published in the UK and US by Orbit Books. Here’s the English-language synopsis…

The Warcage is a feat of unprecedented stellar engineering: two hundred worlds harnessed to an artificial sun. Built to travel through space as a monument to peace between alien species, its voracious rulers have turned it into a nightmarish wasteland, capturing new planets for slaves and resources, then discarding the old.

Now, when a verdant agri-world is pulled out of its orbit and a deal goes bad, it is up to the captain of a smuggling ship to journey into the Warcage and rescue his crew.

The first three novels in the series, SEEDS OF EARTH, THE ORPHANED WORLDS and THE ASCENDANT STARS are also published by Heyne and Orbit Books.

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SHADOWKINGS and THE ELFIN SHIP on sale!


James P. Blaylock‘s and Michael Cobley‘s debut novels are on sale at the moment, discounted through Kobo! Both books are published through the JABberwocky eBook Program.

blaylock-b1-elfinshipjab Blaylock’s THE ELFIN SHIP is the first in the author’s Balumnia series, sometimes referred to as the Cheeser series. Here’s the synopsis…

James P Blaylock’s 1982 début novel The Elfin Ship has become a classic of whimsical fantasy. With echoes of Kenneth Graham and Mark Twain, it’s a gentle, eccentric and hilarious novel that will delight readers of all ages.

Trading with the elves used to be so simple. Every year Master Cheeser Jonathan Bing would send his very best cheeses downriver to traders who would eventually return with Elfin wonders for the people of Twombly Town.

But no more…

First, the trading post at Willowood Station was mysteriously destroyed. Then a magical elfin airship began making forays overhead: Jonathan knew something was definitely amiss.

So he set off downriver to deliver the cheeses himself, accompanied by the amazing Professor Wurzle, the irrepressible Dooly, and his faithful dog Ahab. It would have been such a pleasant trip, if not for the weeping skeleton, mad goblins, magic coins, an evil dwarf, a cloak of invisibility – and a watch that stopped time.

Of course, the return trip was not so simple.

Blaylock’s other two Balumnia novels, THE DISAPPEARING DWARF and THE STONE GIANT, are also available.

‘A magical world, magically presented… having journeyed there, you will not wish to leave, nor ever to forget.’ Philip K. Dick

Jim’s latest novel is BENEATH LONDON, the fourth book in his fan-favourite Langdon St. Ives steampunk series, published by Titan Books.

cobley-sk1-shadowkingsjab2SHADOWKINGS is the first novel in Michael Cobley’s series of the same name. Here’s the synopsis…

For one thousand bright and fortunate years the Khatrimantine Empire had guaranteed peace and benevolence. Then came the vast hordes of the Mogaun, driven by an evil deity, the Lord of Twilight, corrupter and devourer.

The unprepared Khatrimantine armies could not stand against the brutal might of the invaders, not even with the help of the Empire’s spirit/magical guardians. Yet at the very pinnacle of his triumph, the Lord of Twilight made a fatal mistake, shattering his essence into five parts: five lost souls destined to become the Shadowkings.

Now, sixteen years after the invasion, Mogaun warlords and petty despots squabble amid the ruins. Yet ancient powers are stirring and the Empire’s last valiant defenders are gathering their strength, hoping that one decisive strike can reverse their long, bleak decline. But the forces of Night know well the dance of might, and match them step for step.

The other two novels in the series, SHADOWGOD and SHADOWMASQUE, are also available.

‘There is plenty here to keep any fans of high fantasy happy. The familiar elements are here, but don’t worry about them feeling borrowed or contrived. Cobley has presented his own fantasy world and characters, well rounded, fully explored and absorbing.’ Eternal Night

‘… unconventional high fantasy trilogy… [Cobley] has taken traditional sword and sorcery to some new and perhaps uncomfortable places… an unusually dark and claustrophobic piece of work…’ Infinity Plus

Michael’s latest novel is ANCESTRAL MACHINES, a fourth (stand-alone) novel set in his Humanity’s Fire universe. It is published by Orbit Books.

Michael Cobley’s ANCESTRAL MACHINES out today in paperback (UK)!


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Michael Cobley‘s fourth novel in his critically-acclaimed Humanity’s Fire series is out today in the UK, in mass-market paperback! Published by Orbit Books, ANCESTRAL MACHINES is a stand-alone story. Here’s the synopsis…

The Warcage is a feat of unprecedented stellar engineering: two hundred worlds harnessed to an artificial sun. Built to travel through space as a monument to peace between alien species, its voracious rulers have turned it into a nightmarish wasteland, capturing new planets for slaves and resources, then discarding the old.

Now, when a verdant agri-world is pulled out of its orbit and a deal goes bad, it is up to the captain of a smuggling ship to journey into the Warcage and rescue his crew.

The novel is also published in the US by Orbit Books. The first three novels in the series, a connected trilogy, are also published by Orbit Books (in the UK and US): SEEDS OF EARTH, THE ORPHANED WORLDS, and THE ASCENDANT STARS.

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Here’s just a small selection of reviews the series has received…

‘There’s a grand tradition within SF of galaxy-wide, aeon-spanning scenarios, with escalating magnitudes of scale and concomitant ramping up of narrative tension, and Michael Cobley’s Humanity’s Fire series is the latest example… Cobley excels at presenting his thoroughly lived-in future with a slew of technological marvels and an engaging cast of characters.’ — Guardian on ANCESTRAL MACHINES

‘Cobley wastes no time in flaunting his honed, merciless skills… Cobley is taking the techniques pioneered by van Vogt, Charles Harness and other bold visionaries and ramping them up for a purely twenty-first-century kind of SF that others such as Paul McAuley, Iain Banks and Ken MacLeod have hitherto essayed… Cobley takes all these characters, plus others, and pushes them along a non-stop, unrelenting, madcap set of adventures. The brio and joy of this storytelling is contagious. Here is a space opera which unashamedly honors the roots of the genre while expanding the remit of the mode… A predominant feature of Cobley’s storytelling is an exuberant humor, a kind of high spirits that is exactly the opposite of so much of the ultra-serious gravitas seen in other space operas… If you want a rousing space adventure full of sense of wonder that is also ideationally challenging, then you need look no further than ANCESTRAL MACHINES.’  —  Locus

‘If you want some solid sci-fi with cracking, fully-rounded characters backed up with solid prose alongside dialogue in fairly dark future, then Michael’s Humanity’s Fire series has probably already been on your radar for quite some time… a book that has cracking action, quirky humour as well as people that you really care about. Back this up with a cracking overall arc makes this perhaps the best book set in this world for me. Magic.’ — Falcata Times on ANCESTRAL MACHINES

‘An absolute cracker of a space opera, fast-paced despite being over 400 pages… the larger scale exciting the imagination, the personal scale keeping it nicely relatable, with characters we genuinely care about.’  —  Forbidden Planet on ANCESTRAL MACHINES

‘Cobley’s debut, first published in the U.K. in 2009, is a well-constructed space opera with a sense of vast scope, populated with an array of beautifully differentiated intelligences both organic and artificial… this is a thick and satisfying 10-course meal of starchy pageantry, meaty characters, bitter losses, and sweet romance.’ — Publishers Weekly on SEEDS OF EARTH

‘The story is huge, complex and moves between its varied cast with assured purpose… a tightly plotted, action packed epic that leaves you wanting more.’ SciFi Now on SEEDS OF EARTH

‘Fast and exciting… an excellent middle book in the trilogy, expanding on SEEDS OF EARTH and setting everything in place for a thrilling conclusion.’ Waterstone’s Book Quarterly on THE ORPHANED WORLDS

Cobley writes energetic space opera, rarely dallying with sentiment and mostly assaulting the reader with exotic locations and sudden skirmishes. There are joyous moments of invention but overall there’s too much going on… Fortunately, as the saga progresses, THE ORPHANED WORLDS begins knotting some of the threads together – it still feels like an over-shaken can of fizzy diet Banks…’ SFX

THE ASCENDANT STARS is the culminating book in the Humanity’s Fire trilogy, a space opera of mind-bending depth and scope which sets complexly thought-out alien races and chilling cyborg armies against humans riven by competing political philosophies and agendas. The result is a marvellously readable examination of people under extreme stress, a convincing depiction of startlingly alien aliens, and a mature political analysis often lacking in the genre. Cobley expertly juggles multiple plot-lines and brings them to thematically satisfying conclusions while providing the landmark trilogy with a thrilling finale.’ Guardian

Trailer for Michael Cobley’s ANCESTRAL MACHINES


Above is the rather nifty trailer Michael Cobley‘s made for his latest novel, ANCESTRAL MACHINES. The novel, published by Orbit Books in the UK and North America, is released in paperback later this week. Here’s the synopsis…

The Warcage is a feat of unprecedented stellar engineering: two hundred worlds harnessed to an artificial sun. Built to travel through space as a monument to peace between alien species, its voracious rulers have turned it into a nightmarish wasteland, capturing new planets for slaves and resources, then discarding the old.

Now, when a verdant agri-world is pulled out of its orbit and a deal goes bad, it is up to the captain of a smuggling ship to journey into the Warcage and rescue his crew.

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The novel is a stand-alone story in Cobley’s Humanity’s Fire series. The first trilogy in the series, also published by Orbit Books, includes SEEDS OF EARTH, THE ORPHANED WORLDS and THE ASCENDANT STARS. Continue reading “Trailer for Michael Cobley’s ANCESTRAL MACHINES”

Michael Cobley’s HUMANITY’S FIRE Series on Sale in US


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The first three novels in Michael Cobley‘s critically-acclaimed Humanity’s Fire series are currently on sale in the US! The novels — SEEDS OF EARTH, THE ORPHANED WORLDS and THE ASCENDANT STARS — are included in Barnes & Noble‘s 2-for-3 paperback sale. The sale will continue until September 5th.

The three novels are published by Orbit Books in the US (and UK). Here’s the synopsis for SEEDS OF EARTH

Merciless. Relentless. Unstoppable.

The first intelligent species to encounter mankind attacked without warning. Merciless. Relentless. Unstoppable. With little hope of halting the invasion, Earth’s last roll of the dice was to dispatch three colony ships, seeds of Earth, to different parts of the galaxy. The human race would live on… somewhere.

150 years later, the planet Darien hosts a thriving human settlement, which enjoys a peaceful relationship with an indigenous race, the scholarly Uvovo. But there are secrets buried on Darien’s forest moon. Secrets that go back to an apocalyptic battle fought between ancient races at the dawn of galactic civilization. Unknown to its colonists, Darien is about to become the focus of an intergalactic power struggle where the true stakes are beyond their comprehension. And what choices will the Uvovo make when their true nature is revealed and the skies grow dark with the enemy?

Here are some of the great reviews the novels have received…

‘There’s a grand tradition within SF of galaxy-wide, aeon-spanning scenarios, with escalating magnitudes of scale and concomitant ramping up of narrative tension, and Michael Cobley’s Humanity’s Fire series is the latest example… Cobley excels at presenting his thoroughly lived-in future with a slew of technological marvels and an engaging cast of characters.’ — Guardian

‘Cobley’s debut, first published in the U.K. in 2009, is a well-constructed space opera with a sense of vast scope, populated with an array of beautifully differentiated intelligences both organic and artificial… this is a thick and satisfying 10-course meal of starchy pageantry, meaty characters, bitter losses, and sweet romance.’ — Publishers Weekly on SEEDS OF EARTH

‘The story is huge, complex and moves between its varied cast with assured purpose… a tightly plotted, action packed epic that leaves you wanting more.’ SciFi Now on SEEDS OF EARTH

Cobley writes energetic space opera, rarely dallying with sentiment and mostly assaulting the reader with exotic locations and sudden skirmishes. There are joyous moments of invention but overall there’s too much going on… Fortunately, as the saga progresses, THE ORPHANED WORLDS begins knotting some of the threads together – it still feels like an over-shaken can of fizzy diet Banks…’ — SFX

‘Fast and exciting… an excellent middle book in the trilogy, expanding on SEEDS OF EARTH and setting everything in place for a thrilling conclusion.’ Waterstone’s Book Quaterly on THE ORPHANED WORLDS

THE ASCENDANT STARS is the culminating book in the Humanity’s Fire trilogy, a space opera of mind-bending depth and scope which sets complexly thought-out alien races and chilling cyborg armies against humans riven by competing political philosophies and agendas. The result is a marvellously readable examination of people under extreme stress, a convincing depiction of startlingly alien aliens, and a mature political analysis often lacking in the genre. Cobley expertly juggles multiple plot-lines and brings them to thematically satisfying conclusions while providing the landmark trilogy with a thrilling finale.’ — Guardian

The fourth, stand-alone novel in the series, ANCESTRAL MACHINES, was published earlier this year, also by Orbit Books.

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Michael’s first trilogy, the grimdark fantasy Shadowkings series, is available in eBook.

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Zeno Clients’ Eastercon Schedule


Mancunicon2016-LogoHere are the schedules for Zeno clients attending this year’s Eastercon, Mancunicon.

Two clients are Guests of Honour: Aliette de Bodard and Ian McDonald. In addition, Michael Cobley, Justina Robson, Kari Sperring and Freda Warrington are attending. Here’s where and when you can find them…

Friday, March 25th…

Saturday, March 26th…

Sunday, March 27th…

Monday, March 28th…

Aliette de Bodard’s latest novel, THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS, is published by Gollancz in the UK and Roc Books in the US.

Ian McDonald’s latest novel is LUNA: NEW MOON, published in the UK by Gollancz, and Tor Books in the US.

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Michael Cobley’s latest novel, ANCESTRAL MACHINES, is published by Orbit. Justina Robson’s GLORIOUS ANGELS is published by Gollancz. Kari Sperring’s THE GRASS KING’S CONCUBINE is published by DAW Books. Freda Warrington’s fourth Blood Wine novel, THE DARK ARTS OF BLOOD, was published by Titan Books in 2015.

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Michael Cobley’s ANCESTRAL MACHINES Out This Week


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Michael Cobley‘s highly-anticipated new novel, ANCESTRAL MACHINES, is out this week! Published by Orbit Books tomorrow in the US, and on Thursday in the UK, it is a stand-alone novel set in the same universe as his Humanity’s Fire series. Here’s the synopsis…

It was named Bringer of Battles, three hundred worlds orbiting a single artificial star, three hundred battlefields where different species vie for mastery and triumph. It is a cage where war is a game — brutal, savage and sudden. In this arena, all must bend the knee to the Lords of Permutation and the ancient sentient weapons with which they have merged. Or suffer indescribable agonies.

Trapped in this draconian crucible of death, Brannan Pyke, captain and smuggler, must fight his way to freedom.

Because in the Bringer of Battles, the game of war is played to the death and beyond.

Orbit also publishes Cobley’s original best-selling and critically acclaimed novels in the Humanity’s Fire series: SEEDS OF EARTH, THE ORPHANED WORLDS and THE ASCENDANT STARS.

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ANCESTRAL MACHINES has already been picked as January must-reads by io9.com and Kirkus. Michael is taking part in a Reddit AMA today, too — this can be found on the Sci-Fi subreddit.

Michael will also be signing copies of ANCESTRAL MACHINES at Forbidden Planet in London this Saturday, January 16th.

Here’s just a small handful of reviews the Humanity’s Fire series has received so far…

‘A well-constructed space opera with a sense of vast scope, populated with an array of beautifully differentiated intelligences both organic and artificial… this is a thick and satisfying 10-course meal of starchy pageantry, meaty characters, bitter losses, and sweet romance.’ — Publishers Weekly on SEEDS OF EARTH

‘The story is huge, complex and moves between its varied cast with assured purpose… a tightly plotted, action packed epic that leaves you wanting more.’ SciFi Now on SEEDS OF EARTH

‘A complex, finely detailed thriller-cum-space opera… SEEDS OF EARTH has everything: well-realised extraterrestrials, scheming artificial intelligences, set-piece space battles and bizarre technology from the dawn of the galaxy. The first book of the trilogy is also a convincing portrayal of political machinations and the plight of individuals caught up in events beyond their comprehension.’ — Guardian

Cobley writes energetic space opera, rarely dallying with sentiment and mostly assaulting the reader with exotic locations and sudden skirmishes. There are joyous moments of invention but overall there’s too much going on… Fortunately, as the saga progresses, THE ORPHANED WORLDS begins knotting some of the threads together – it still feels like an over-shaken can of fizzy diet Banks…’ — SFX

‘Fast and exciting… an excellent middle book in the trilogy, expanding on SEEDS OF EARTH and setting everything in place for a thrilling conclusion’ — Waterstone’s Book Quaterly on THE ORPHANED WORLDS

‘A dark vision of humanity pitched against vast forces; the plight of strong individuals caught up in titanic struggles and fighting for what they see as a just cause. THE ASCENDANT STARS is… a space opera of mind-bending depth and scope which sets complexly thought-out alien races and chilling cyborg armies against humans riven by competing political philosophies and agendas… A marvellously readable examination of people under extreme stress, a convincing depiction of startlingly alien aliens, and a mature political analysis often lacking in the genre. Cobley expertly juggles multiple plot-lines and brings them to thematically satisfying conclusions while providing the landmark trilogy with a thrilling finale.’ — Guardian

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Michael Cobley’s HUMANITY’S FIRE Series in Poland


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Here are the covers and details for the Polish editions of Michael Cobley‘s critically-acclaimed and best-selling Humanity’s Fire novels! Published in Poland by MAG, the series is published in the UK and US by Orbit Books. The first two novels – ZIARNA ZIEMI (SEEDS OF EARTH) and OSIEROCONE ŚWIATY (THE ORPHANED WORLDS) – are out now. The third novel, WSCHODZĄCE GWIAZDY (THE ASCENDANT STARS) is due to be published on October 31st, 2014.
Here is the English-language synopsis for the first novel in the series…

The first intelligent species to encounter mankind attacked without warning. Merciless. Relentless. Unstoppable. With little hope of halting the invasion, Earth’s last roll of the dice was to dispatch three colony ships, seeds of Earth, to different parts of the galaxy. The human race would live on… somewhere.

150 years later, the planet Darien hosts a thriving human settlement, which enjoys a peaceful relationship with an indigenous race, the scholarly Uvovo. But there are secrets buried on Darien’s forest moon. Secrets that go back to an apocalyptic battle fought between ancient races at the dawn of galactic civilisation. Unknown to its colonists Darien is about to become the focus of an intergalactic power struggle, where the true stakes are beyond their comprehension. And what choices will the Uvovo make when their true nature is revealed and the skies grow dark with the enemy?

Cobley-4-AncestralMachinesUK-BlogMichael Cobley’s trilogy is also available as eBooks through the JABberwocky eBook Program, and also as audiobooks through Audible. Michael’s next book, a stand-alone novel set in the same universe as the Humanity’s Fire series, ANCESTRAL MACHINES, is due to be published in 2015 by Orbit Books in the UK and US. The trilogy is also published in Germany by Heyne Verlag, and SEEDS OF EARTH is published in France by Bragelonne, as L’OMBRE DE LA LONGUE NUIT.

Here are just a handful of the great reviews Cobley’s series has received…

‘A complex, finely detailed thriller-cum-space opera… SEEDS OF EARTH has everything: well-realised extraterrestrials, scheming artificial intelligences, set-piece space battles and bizarre technology from the dawn of the galaxy. The first book of the trilogy is also a convincing portrayal of political machinations and the plight of individuals caught up in events beyond their comprehension.’ — Guardian

‘Cobley’s debut, first published in the U.K. in 2009, is a well-constructed space opera with a sense of vast scope, populated with an array of beautifully differentiated intelligences both organic and artificial… this is a thick and satisfying 10-course meal of starchy pageantry, meaty characters, bitter losses, and sweet romance.’ — Publishers Weekly

‘Fast and exciting… an excellent middle book in the trilogy, expanding on SEEDS OF EARTH and setting everything in place for a thrilling conclusion.’ — Waterstone’s Book Quaterly on THE ORPHANED WORLDS

Cobley writes energetic space opera, rarely dallying with sentiment and mostly assaulting the reader with exotic locations and sudden skirmishes. There are joyous moments of invention but overall there’s too much going on… Fortunately, as the saga progresses, THE ORPHANED WORLDS begins knotting some of the threads together – it still feels like an over-shaken can of fizzy diet Banks…’ — SFX

THE ASCENDANT STARS is the culminating book in the Humanity’s Fire trilogy, a space opera of mind-bending depth and scope which sets complexly thought-out alien races and chilling cyborg armies against humans riven by competing political philosophies and agendas. A marvellously readable examination of people under extreme stress, a convincing depiction of startlingly alien aliens, and a mature political analysis often lacking in the genre. Cobley expertly juggles multiple plot-lines and brings them to thematically satisfying conclusions while providing the landmark trilogy with a thrilling finale.’ — Guardian

Series Spotlight: Michael Cobley’s SHADOWKINGS


cobley-headshotMichael Cobley is perhaps best known for his expansive space opera series, Humanity’s Fire, published in both the UK and US by Orbit Books. The fourth title set in the same universe, ANCESTRAL MACHINES, is due to be published later this year, also by Orbit.

However, before his science fiction series became such a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic, he was also a pioneer of Grimdark fantasy: his debut trilogy, Shadowkings, was first published between 2001-5, by Earthlight. Certainly, he was dabbling in the darker, grittier fantasy arena before it gained such prominence and popularity, and doing it very well, too – Jon Courtenay-Grimwood described the series, in his review for the Guardian, as ‘brutal, cruel and realistic in a way genre usually avoids.’ It was also described as unconventional high fantasy’, but this was before the rise of grimdark. Continue reading “Series Spotlight: Michael Cobley’s SHADOWKINGS”

Two More Audio Editions!


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Recently, Audible have released two more titles from our clients’ backlists. This time, a collection of short stories from Justina Robson and also the final volume in Michael Cobley‘s Shadowkings fantasy trilogy. Here are the details, followed by their synopses…

Now in eBook: Michael Cobley’s SHADOWKINGS Grimdark Fantasy Series


Michael Cobley‘s early-grimdark fantasy series, Shadowkingshas recently been released as part of the JABberwocky eBook Program! Out-of-print for some time, the series – SHADOWKINGS, SHADOWGOD and SHADOWMASQUE – was well-received upon initial publication. With the continuing rise in popularity for fantasy, it’s a great time to see these books made available once again. Here are the freshly-commissioned covers, by Dirk Berger:

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We will have some more news about the Shadowkings series in a few days. Watch this space!

New Audiobooks by Justina Robson and Michael Cobley


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Here is some information on three more new audio editions, published this past week by Audible.

First up, we have two more stand-alone novels by Justina Robson. As with SILVER SCREEN and NATURAL HISTORY, released earlier this month, these early novels further show Robson’s skill at crafting engaging, ahead-of-their-time literary science fiction novels.

Both of these novels were critically-acclaimed when they were released, and continue to receive good praise. Publishers Weekly gave MAPPA MUNDI a starred review, stating that it ‘maintains throat-tightening suspense from its teasingly enigmatic introduction of its major characters to its painful conclusion that evil will succeed if well-meaning people try to achieve good at any cost… this near-future SF thriller presents convincing characters caught in profound moral dilemmas brought home through exquisite attention to plot details and setting.’ The novel was also shortlisted for the 2001 Arthur C. Clarke Award. LIVING NEXT DOOR TO THE GOD OF LOVE garnered praise from both Publishers Weekly and the New York Times. The former suggested that, ‘If William Gibson and Norman Spinrad had dropped acid together, this fourth SF novel by British author Robson is the book they might have written.’ The NYT described the novel as one ofexquisite precision and thoughtfulness, andnothing short of a modern-day fairy tale, except she doesn’t need to hide behind predatory wolves and little girls in blood-red garments to convey what’s truly at stake. Her story could not be told without technology, but it is not a story about technology. It is a story about people, whose behavior cannot be so easily predicted, whose defects cannot be so easily repaired and whose functions and purposes in the universe have yet to be determined.

Next, the second volume in Michael Cobley‘s Shadowkings series, SHADOWGOD is also now available. There will be some more news on this series next week, but suffice it to say, Cobley’s debut fantasy trilogy was an early pioneer of modern ‘grimdark’ fantasy. Here are the details…

  • SHADOWGOD – Shadowkings #2 (Earthlight) – Philip Rose

Jon Courtenay-Grimwood, writing for the Guardian, reviewed SHADOWGOD thus: SHADOWKINGS, was brutal, cruel and realistic in a way genre usually avoids. SHADOWGOD, his second, is not only lighter, it is better written and makes good use of the world Cobley has created… writing to rival David Gemmell.’

This Week’s New Audible Titles…


A slightly smaller influx of audio editions, this week – but by no means any less exciting! Here are the six new titles available as of today (James Blaylock’s) and tomorrow…

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