Martha Wells is the author of five Ile-Rien novels (The Element of Fire, The Death of the Necromancer, The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air and The Gate of Gods), City of Bones, Wheel of the Infinite and two Stargate Atlantis novels (Stargate Atlantis: Reliquary and Stargate Atlantis: Entanglement). She has also written short stories and non-fiction articles.
Martha Wells' new book, The Cloud Roads, will be published in March/April 2011 by Night Shade Books.
Here's the official description of The Cloud Roads from the publisher's website:
"The new novel from the author of The Death of the Necromancer
Moon has spent his life hiding what he is – a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again discovered and cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself... someone who seems to know exactly what he is, who promises that Moon will be welcomed into his community.
What this stranger doesn't tell Moon is that his presence will tip the balance of power... that his extraordinary lineage is crucial to the colony's survival... and that his people face extinction at the hands of the dreaded Fell.
Moon must overcome a lifetime of conditioning in order to save himself... and his newfound kin."
And here's the review:
A REVIEW OF MARTHA WELLS' THE CLOUD ROADS
Before I write anything else I must say it's great that Martha Wells found a publisher for The Cloud Roads, because it's an excellent fantasy book. Night Shade Books has done a big favour for all fantasy readers by publishing this book, because it's without a doubt one of the best and most original fantasy books of 2011. This rich and well imagined fantasy book invites readers to explore a new world which is inhabited by strange beings. It also offers wondrous and beautiful vistas to its readers, because the world is full of wonders.
The Cloud Roads is an unconventional and genuinely fascinating fantasy book, because Martha Wells avoids clichés and writes fresh fantasy. The Cloud Roads is an interesting and beautiful tale of what it means to be different. It's also a fresh story about love, loss and loneliness. That's partly the reason why this book is charmingly irresistible (when you begin to read this book, you'll soon notice that it's impossible to put it down – I read this book in one sitting, because I loved it).
I think it's fantastic that Martha Wells has written a story about a strange world and non-human shapeshifters (Raksura) and has ignored all the usual fantasy clichés, because there's plenty of room for this kind of inventive fantasy. In my opinion there are too many clichéd fantasy books out there, so we need more books like The Cloud Roads to remind us that there's more to fantasy than young farmboys who grow up to be powerful wizards.
The Cloud Roads is a story about Moon, who in the beginning of the story lives with a tribe called the Cordans. He's a shapeshifter and he hides his ability from others, because he has been cast out of other tribes for being different. Moon has always thought that he's alone and there aren't any other shapeshifters, but his life changes when he meets a shapeshifter called Stone. Stone rescues Moon and promises to take him to Indigo Cloud Court so that he can meet other shapeshifters. When he travels to the Indigo Cloud Court, he learns new things about the Raksura and their enemy, the Fell. He also learns the truth about why Stone brought him there... That's all I'm going to reveal about the story, because it wouldn't be fair to reveal everything.
The events takes place in a world called Three Worlds, which is a vast and wonderful place. Three Worlds consists of three different realms: earth, sea and sky. The world is full of different intelligent races, species and cultures, so there's plenty of diversity, which is intriguing. There are also plenty of other interesting things (sky-ships, floating islands etc). Three Worlds is totally different from other fantasy worlds and that's part of this book's charm.
It was interesting to read about the biology of the Raksura, because they're fascinating intelligent beings. Usually fantasy authors write about humans and elves, so I was thrilled to read about a new and exciting race, which is different from humans and elves. I liked it that the Raksura were able to change their appearance and had two different forms. The Fell were also interesting beings, because their only goal seemed to be conquest and destruction.
The hero of this book is Moon. He's a traditional, but interesting hero, because he's a bit impatient and has lots of things to learn. He's also quite stubborn, but he has a good heart. It's easy to identify with him, because Martha Wells writes fluently about his feelings and makes him an interesting character. Because Moon has lived most of his life among groundlings, who can't shapeshift and fly, he's a lonely hero (other Raksura try to avoid him and don't treat him well, because he's lived a solitary life). The other characters (Pearl, Jade, Chime, Stone etc) were also interesting and added depth to the story. It's easy to see that Martha Wells loves her characters, because she writes lovingly about their lives.
I liked the story very much, because Martha Wells gradually revealed things about the world and the characters. This kind of storytelling has always appealed to me, because it's allows the reader to fall in love with the new world and its beings. This book contains the right amount of drama, humour and action, which is quite an astonishing achievement, because you seldom have a chance to read a book where all the elements are in perfect balance. The plot moves quickly forward and there's never a dull moment. In other words, this book is perfect entertainment for fantasy readers.
The cover art by Matthew Stewart looks beautiful and shows what kind of a creature Moon is.
I have to mention that I'm looking forward to reading Martha Wells' next book, The Serpent Sea (a sequel to The Cloud Roads), because I can hardly wait to see what happens in it. It will be published sometime in 2012 by Night Shade Books.
The Cloud Roads is a masterpiece of imagination and ingenuity, so don't miss it. I highly recommended this book to all fans of quality fantasy. I'm sure that readers, who appreciate good prose, inventive fantasy and entertaining storytelling, will love this book. Go and buy this book!
(By the way, if you've never read Martha Wells before, you should read her books, because you'll fall in love with their freshness and originality.)