Welcome to this week’s Robot Round-Up celebrating our September titles, Kameron Hurley‘s The Mirror Empire and Rod Duncan‘s  The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter!

The Bullet Catcher's Daughter by Rod DuncanRod Duncan is a man of many talents: he’s written crime novels – including one shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, had screenplays produced, and has now written The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, a steampunk novel with one epic heroine that readers and reviewers alike are loving. You can listen to an interview with Rod here on Starburst, and here are a taste of the reviews:

• “Elizabeth and her alter-ego illusion of a brother drive The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter quite well. I was completely caught up in her adventure and her plight. I think steampunk readers and fantasy/sci-fi readers will enjoy this one, so I’m recommending it for them even though (and to some extent because) its use of steampunk is a bit different. I found it to be a refreshing change from more formulaic steampunk novels.” Popcorn Reads

• “Not only is this a fine stand-alone mystery, Duncan has done some remarkably adept world-building, which holds forth promise for the rest of the series. He’s subtle and avoids unnecessary exposition, letting the alternate history emerge organically from the story. For fans of light steampunk, alternate history and supernatural mysteries, The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter will be just what the gunsmith ordered.” LitRant

• “a clever, enjoyable refreshment of a book … and any fan of adventure, intrigue, steampunk or all three should certainly give it a try. I’m definitely glad I did, and I’ll be happy to return to the series for book two. Huzzah!” Over the Effing Rainbow

• “The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter is a fantastic story, complete with a richly detailed world, colorful characters, and interesting contraptions. The writing is wonderfully done and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series Unseemly Science…More, please!” Badass Book Reviews

• “Far from all style, or just another mystery yarn, The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter is an immersive read that takes the best of many genres and weaves them together. Fans of everything from historical fiction to fantasy, to detective novels and spy versus spy thrillers will find something to love in Duncan’s latest, which at turns evokes the likes of Geek Love, Sherlock Holmes and Firefly. If you’ve a taste for quirks and style with your substance, give this novel a try.” Examiner.com

• “The nitty-gritty: A rollicking steampunk adventure, filled with intricate twists and turns, top-notch world building, and a heroine that quickly became one of my favorites ever.” Books, Bones & Buffy

• “With its unique setting and premise, this book embodies the essence of what I’ve come to expect from Angry Robot over the years…a well-written novel, the story fantastically put together with elements of alternate history and steampunk, topped off with a strong, resourceful heroine. You can’t help but be drawn to Elizabeth Barnabus. I’m definitely looking forward to continuing her adventures in the sequel.” Bibliosanctum

• “There are a few gadgets, but the spirit of the world created by Rod Duncan strongly reminded me of Planesrunner by Ian McDonald. If you don’t mind a steady pace, less dashing heroines and very little gadgetry in lieu of alternative history exploration, this book is for you. Recommended!” Nocturnal Book Reviews

The Mirror Empire by Kameron HurleyBook Riot have declared Kameron Hurley‘s The Mirror Empire an “absolute buy” and who is to argue with them! They’re not the one people excited about this epic fantasy – and there are 250 very happy readers who purchased early from Barnes and Noble to receive free copies of Book Two next year – and here’s a collection of some of the reasons why you need to be excited about this book, as well:

• “Hurley manages to balance plot, worldbuilding and character, while exploring issues of gender, race, class, violence and more, in organic and eye-opening ways. She also explores and subverts character tropes, resulting in new takes on old archetypes: the young chosen one, the bitter, old mentor, the young person thrust into power. All of these and more are turned on their head to wonderful results. Hurley plays it fast and loose in many parts, and while that can sometimes cause a little whiplash, it pales in comparison to how powerful this book is.” Book Riot

• “I highly recommend this book for all fans of good quality secondary world fantasy. Readers who — like me — prefer not to read unoriginal and trope-filled fantasy will be pleased with this book. And of course, anyone hoping to find more fantasy with female characters who are a) central and b) not marginalised need look no further. The gender-flip aspect (for lack of a better term) really is fascinating.” Tsana Rads and Reviews

• “there is no denying that The Mirror Empire, by Kameron Hurley, is one of the most important books of 2014.” Sense of Wonder

• “The world building in The Mirror Empire is so detailed and complete that I could see it coming to life before my eyes. Yet exposition is held to a minimum, exactly the way I like it. Even some of the plant life is sentient, including walking trees. Magic is everywhere and just taken for granted. Each gifted person pulls their strength and power from a particular moon or planet (I’ve called them all moons above) and, when it is ascendant, their power becomes amazing – for better or worse. Some societies are power hungry and others, like the Dhai, have chosen a path of learning and peace, having learned what happens when power corrupts a society. Assassins, mystics, sentient plants, political intrigue and worlds on a metaphorical collision course. Bottom line? The Mirror Empire features fascinating worlds, nail-biting action adventure, and makes for one hell of a read! I highly recommend it to anyone who likes intelligently written epic fantasy novels that come alive!” Popcorn Reads

• “This is world-building at its finest—an imaginative and fantastical world that is unrelenting in its immersiveness. And oh boy is it DARK. If George R.R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie, Matthew Woodring Stover, and Mark Lawrence are sitting around a table muttering and laughing maniacally to themselves while they torture characters, Kameron is sitting to the side, chiding them with a whispered “oh, my sweet summer child… The Mirror Empire takes a look at the epic fantasy patriarchy and gives it a firm kick in the balls.” Ristea’s Reads

• “this is what a truly epic fantasy should be. The Mirror Empire is the best fantasy I’ve read this year and one of the best of recent years. This is also an epic fantasy for people who have grown to hate what passes for epic fantasies in today’s marketplace. The Mirror Empire is highly recommended and will be on my award shortlists. I suggest people check it out.” Jason Sanford, Nebula-award finalist and BSFA and British Fantasy Award nominee

• “The Mirror Empire requires keen attention, but ultimately proves worth it, and will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next volume.” Shelf Awareness

• “It’s deep, and confusing, and deliciously thought provoking. This isn’t just a fantasy novel. This is the kind of book that will make you sit back and look at the world around you in a completely different way. The Mirror Empire is the first book in what is promising to be an epic saga that will redefine epic fantasy. I sincerely hope it does, because this is the kind of epic fantasy I am hungry to read.” Bookworm Blues

• “an incredibly ambitious and wonderful epic fantasy that throws out every rulebook trope of the genre to create a truly magical experience.” On Starships and Dragonwings

• “The Mirror Empire is polished and well executed.  The multiple narratives serve one another and the larger plot.  The reader learns about a profoundly unusual setting along with the characters within it.  The balance of youth and experience is no accident, here.  Broad vistas collapse into intimate moments in order to personify crises and resolutions. I was left with substantial questions and an incredible desire for more.  So much so that I bought a second copy to get the second installment just a little early. Recommended for fans of portal fiction, leaps of faith, and the promise of speculative imagination.” The Dinglehopper

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