Jane Johnson Recommends…

Looking for a new book or series to get stuck into? Here are two titles our publishing director thinks you’ll enjoy…

Neverness by David Zindell

NevernessA stunning epic by a mathematician who writes like a poet, this wonderful book remains my all-time favourite science fiction novel. In this amazing world mankind is represented by opposites of the spectrum; the Alaloi people who have chosen to return to the Neanderthal state, and the Order of Pilots who try to rework the laws of time and physics to catapult its members through dense regions of ‘thickspace’, falling from fixed point to fixed point. Out there in the great expanse of space lies the Solid State Entity, a vast brain made up of moon-sized biocomputers and the leldra, a legendary race of aliens that seeded the galaxy aeons ago with its DNA and so began the evolutionary cycle. This is the story of young, headstrong Mallory Ringess, a novitiate of the Order of Pilots who has made a stunning discovery that could unlock the secret of immortality. It’s  a neglected classic of the genre and I urge you all to read it: it’s one of those rare works offs that work for readers who are not science fiction aficionados.

Visit the Neverness book page

Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb

Assassin’s ApprenticeWhen this manuscript first landed on my desk the author’s name on the title page was not Robin Hobb, but a certain ‘Megan Lindholm’, who had published a number of wonderful fantasy novels with me over the years. But as soon as I started reading the new book it became clear this was not a Lindholm novel, being far more epic in scope, and thus the ‘Robin Hobb’ persona was born. From the first page I was hooked: who could fail to be captivated by the plight of tiny Fitz, a bastard child abandoned upon his royal father’s doorstep, an embarrassment to the ruling family, relegated to working in the stables to earn a crust? Friendless, Fitz forms bonds with other outcasts: the runt puppy Nosy, the bizarre king’s Fool in his black-and-white motley, and then, most powerfully of all, with a wolf cub rescued from a cruel travelling tradesman. But as he grows up it becomes clear he has talents that can be honed for use by the ruler: and so Fitz, at odds with his good heart, is trained – often cruelly – in the arts of becoming an assassin. The bigger picture — the political machinations at court, the jealousy of nobles and rivals, the marauding Red Ship Raiders and their fearsome attacks in which villagers are ‘Forged’ – rendered ravening beasts to prey on their own communities – is a fascinating one guaranteed to appeal to anyone who loves the work of George RR Martin or good storytelling of any sort. It’s one of my three favourite novels in any genre.

Visit the Assassin’s Apprentice book page

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