Top 20 Most Anticipated Speculative Novels Released in December 2012

Traditionally, December is a month in which the big publishers release fewer books, while the small press publishers try to put their books out there while everyone is doing their Christmas shopping. This year is no exception. However, what is exceptional is the sheer number of wonderful books that are coming out. In previous years, it’s always been a challenge to me to find good books to add to the list in December. Not so much this year.

There are still plenty of small press releases, of course, but what books the big publishers are bringing out this month actually promise to be wonderful. As such, it should come as no surprise that the top of the list is dominated by sequels in great series. Some of these series have already received favorable reviews on The Ranting Dragon, while others have reviews forthcoming.

All in all, December promises to be a surprisingly good month for fantasy and science fiction. If you are looking for good new books to put on your Christmas wishlist, I can definitely recommend you check out some of these titles!

So, without further ado, we present our twenty most anticipated novels to be released in December 2012:


1. The Merchant of Dreams by Anne Lyle
Exiled from the court of Queen Elizabeth for accusing a powerful nobleman of treason, swordsman-turned-spy Mal Catlyn has been living in France with his young valet Coby Hendricks for the past year.

But Mal harbors a darker secret: he and his twin brother share a soul that once belonged to a skrayling, one of the mystical creatures from the New World.

When Mal’s dream about a skrayling shipwreck in the Mediterranean proves reality, it sets him on a path to the beautiful, treacherous city of Venice—and a conflict of loyalties that will place him and his friends in greater danger than ever.

The Merchant of Dreams is the second book in Night’s Masque. The first book is The Alchemist of Souls.
Published by Anrgy Robot on December 18. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
2. The Bones of the Old Ones by Howard Andrew Jones
As a snowfall blankets 8th century Mosul, a Persian noblewoman arrives at the home of the scholar Dabir and his friend the swordsman Captain Asim. Najya has escaped from a dangerous cabal that has ensorcelled her to track down ancient magical tools of tremendous power, the bones of the old ones.

To stop the cabal and save Najya, Dabir and Asim venture into the worst winter in human memory, hunted by a shape-changing assassin. The stalwart Asim is drawn irresistibly toward the beautiful Persian even as Dabir realizes she may be far more dangerous a threat than anyone who pursues them, for her enchantment worsens with the winter. As their opposition grows, Dabir and Asim have no choice but to ally with their deadliest enemy, the treacherous Greek necromancer, Lydia. But even if they can trust one another long enough to escape their foes, it may be too late for Najya, whose soul is bound up with a vengeful spirit intent on sheathing the world in ice for a thousand years…

The Bones of the Old Ones is the sequel to The Desert of Souls.
Published by Thomas Dunne on December 11. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
3. Alien vs. Alien by Gini Koch
Jeff Martini and Kitty Katt and the rest of the American Centaurion Diplomatic Corps are still recovering from their introduction to Washington, D.C. politics, parties, and conspiracies. So when compromising pictures arrive, no one’s too surprised. They’re also the least of anyone’s worries.

Evil androids running amok, birds of all kinds and from all places creating havoc, a Senator trapped in an ever-tightening web of intrigue, and escalating international tensions all seem tough but manageable. But the disappearance of Jeff Martini and Charles Reynolds during the International One World Festival signals more than the usual nastiness—and it looks like even ACE can’t help them.

Then new trouble arrives in old packages and even with the best hackers in the world, beings from near and far, the full might of Earth’s military, and the Wonder Twins on their side, Centaurion Division is outmanned and outgunned.

Now Kitty’s racing against the clock to find not only Jeff and Chuckie, but to keep the peace between Middle Eastern countries, all while searching for the bases of super-soldier operations—to stop them or die trying.

Alien vs. Alien is the sixth book in the Katherine “Kitty” Katt series. The first book is Touched by an Alien.
Published by DAW on December 4. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
4. The Siren Depths by Martha Wells
All his life, Moon roamed the Three Worlds, a solitary wanderer forced to hide his true nature—until he was reunited with his own kind, the Raksura, and found a new life as consort to Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud court.

But now a rival court has laid claim to him, and Jade may or may not be willing to fight for him. Beset by doubts, Moon must travel in the company of strangers to a distant realm where he will finally face the forgotten secrets of his past, even as an old enemy returns with a vengeance. The Fell, a vicious race of shape-shifting predators, menaces groundlings and Raksura alike. Determined to crossbreed with the Raksura for arcane purposes, they are driven by an ancient voice that cries out from… The siren depths.

The Siren Depths is the third book in The Books of the Raksura. The first book is The Cloud Roads.
Published by Night Shade on December 4. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
5. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined.

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword…

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
Published by Razorbill on December 11. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
6. The Folly of the World by Jesse Bullington
On a stormy night in 1421, the North Sea delivers a devastating blow to Holland: the Saint Elizabeth Flood, a deluge of biblical proportions that drowns hundreds of towns, thousands of people, forever altering the geography of the Low Countries. Where the factions of the noble Hooks and the merchant Cods waged a literal class war but weeks before, there is now only a nigh-endless expanse of grey water, a desolate inland sea with moldering church spires jutting up like sunken tombstones. For a land already beleaguered by generations of civil war, a worse disaster could scarce be imagined.

Yet even disaster can be profitable, for the right sort of individual, and into this flooded realm sail three conspirators: a deranged thug at the edge of madness, a ruthless conman on the cusp of fortune, and a half-feral girl balanced between them.
Published by Orbit on December 18. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
7. Elemental Magic by Mercedes Lackey
Elemental Magic, the ninth book in the Elemental Masters series, is an anthology with all new stories, featuring characters from the previous works.

The first book is in the series is The Fire Rose.
Published by DAW on December 4. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
8. Nexus by Ramez Naam
In the near future, the experimental nano-drug Nexus can link humans together, mind to mind. There are some who want to improve it. There are some who want to eradicate it. And there are others who just want to exploit it.

When a young scientist is caught improving Nexus, he’s thrust over his head into a world of danger and international espionage—for there is far more at stake than anyone realizes.
Published by Angry Robot on December 26. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
9. The Doctor and the Rough Rider by Mike Resnick
The epic, adventure-filled “Wild West meets Steampunk” adventure continues.

It’s August 1884. The consumptive Doc Holliday is preparing to await his end in a sanitarium in Leadville, Colorado, when the medicine man Geronimo enlists him on a mission. The time the great chief has predicted has come; the one white man he’s willing to treat with has crossed the Mississippi and is heading to Tombstone—a young man named Theodore Roosevelt. The various tribes know that Geronimo is willing to end the spell that has kept the United States from expanding west of the Mississippi. In response, they have created a huge, monstrous, medicine man named War Bonnet, whose function is to kill Roosevelt and Geronimo and keep the United States east of the river forever. And War Bonnet has enlisted the master shootist John Wesley Hardin. So the battle lines are drawn: Roosevelt and Geronimo against the most powerful of the medicine men, a supernatural creature that seemingly nothing can harm; and Holliday against the man with more credited kills than any gunfighter in history. It does not promise to be a tranquil summer.

The Doctor and the Rough Rider is the third book in The Weird West Tales. The first book is The Buntline Special.
Published by Pyr on December 4. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
10. A Red Sun Also Rises by Mark Hodder
When Reverend Aiden Fleischer, vicar of the sleepy town of Theaston Vale, finds a hunchbacked, light-sensitive and crippled vagabond named Clarissa Stark begging at his door, little does he suspect it’s the start of an adventure that’s literally out of this world!

Bribed by an unscrupulous family, Fleischer and his companion flee to London’s missionary college, but in wicked Whitechapel, the faithless priest stumbles upon one of Jack the Ripper’s victims and becomes convinced that he himself is the notorious killer. With her friend’s mind shattered, Miss Stark is relieved when they are both posted to the far away Melanesian island of Koluwai, but here they encounter an even darker evil, one that transports them to another planet.

Beneath the twin suns of the planet Ptallaya, Fleischer and Stark encounter an alien species, the Yatsill, master mimics who, after gaining access to Miss Stark’s mind, create their own bizarre version of Victorian London.

But Fleischer and Stark’s new home from home is not safe, for the Blood Gods will soon invade, and if he is to defeat them and rescue the woman he’s come to love, Fleischer must first face his own inner demons!
Published by Pyr on December 4. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
11. Luck of Draw by Piers Anthony
Bryce is summoned to Xanth as part of a wager between the Demons Earth and Xanth. To his surprise, he has left behind his home and family and eighty-year-old body forever, in exchange for youth and magic… and a quest. He must court and marry Princess Harmony, who is anything but willing to be courted!

Luck of the Draw is Anthony’s umpteenth pun-filled adventure in the magical land of Xanth. The first book is A Spell for Chameleon.
Published by Tor on December 24. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
12. The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress
Set in turn-of-the-century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician’s assistant. The three young women’s lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It’s up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder—and the crimes they believe may be connected to it—without calling too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike—well, relatively ladylike—heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.
Published by Dial on December 6. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
13. The Hermetic Millennia by John C. Wright
Menelaus Illation Montrose—Texas gunslinger, idealist, and posthuman genius—has gone into cryo-suspension following the discovery that, in 8,000 years, a powerful alien intelligence will reach Earth to assess humanity’s value as slaves. Montrose intends to be alive to meet that threat, but he is awakened repeatedly throughout the centuries to confront the woes of an ever-changing and violent world, witnessing millennia of change compressed into a few years of subjective time. The result is a breathtaking vision of future history like nothing before imagined: sweeping, tumultuous, and evermore alien, as Montrose’s immortal enemies and former shipmates from the starship Hermetic harness the forces of evolution and social engineering to continuously reshape the Earth in their image, seeking to create a version of man the approaching slavers will find worthy.

The Hermetic Millenia is the sequel to Count to a Trillion.
Published by Tor on December 24. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
14. The Ramal Extraction by Steve Perry
At the close of the 24th Century, a series of revolutions has caused the galaxy to descend into chaos. With the Galactic Union’s Army stretched thin, mercenary units have arisen for those who have the need—and the means—to hire them…

Captained by former Detached Guerrilla Forces Colonel R.A. “Rags” Cutter, the Cutter Force Initiative is one of the best. A specialized team consisting of both aliens and humans, the Cutters offer services ranging from fight training and protection to extraction and assassination—as long as the target deserves it and their employer makes good on payday.

When they’re hired to find and rescue Indira, the soon-to-be-married daughter of the Rajah Ramal of New Mumbai, the team’s first task is to identify the kidnapper. The obvious suspects are insurgents who want to overthrow the rajanate, but as other forces enter the game and an assassination attempt is made on Ramal, the Cutters realize that their in-and-out extraction job is about to get a lot more interesting—and a lot more lethal…
Published by Ace on December 24. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
15. The Shadow’s Heir by K.J. Taylor
Laela Redguard is a half-breed Northerner raised in the South. Left homeless after the death of her foster father, Laela sets out in search of a place in the world and chooses to go to the North — a land now ruled by the infamous Arenadd Taranisäii and his partner, the unpredictable dark griffin Skandar.

It is a place where Southerners are not welcome, a place in which Laela cannot hope to survive for long.

But then someone comes into Laela’s life. A new friend. A dangerous friend. A friend who offers a place in the world—but that place may come at a higher price than anyone suspected…
Published by Ace on December 24. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
16. Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder
As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomaniac King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet: an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible… again.

Scent of Magic is the second book in the Healer series. The first book is Touch of Power.
Published by Harlequin on December 18. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
17. Enders by Lissa Price
With the Prime Destinations body bank destroyed, Callie no longer has to rent herself out to creepy Enders. But Enders can still get inside her mind and make her do things she doesn’t want to do. Like hurt someone she loves. Having the chip removed could save Callie’s life—but it could also silence the voice in her head that might belong to her father. Callie has flashes of her ex-renter Helena’s memories, too… and the Old Man is back, filling her with fear. Who is real and who is masquerading in a teen body?

Enders is the sequel to Starters.
Published by Delacorte on December 11. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
18. Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell
In 1944, as waves of German ninjas parachute into Kent, Britain’s best hopes for victory lie with a Spitfire pilot codenamed ‘Ack-Ack Macaque’. The trouble is, Ack-Ack Macaque is a cynical, one-eyed, cigar-chomping monkey, and he’s starting to doubt everything, including his own existence.

A century later, in a world where France and Great Britain merged in the late 1950s and nuclear-powered Zeppelins encircle the globe, ex-journalist Victoria Valois finds herself drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the man who butchered her husband and stole her electronic soul. Meanwhile, in Paris, after taking part in an illegal break-in at a research laboratory, the heir to the British throne goes on the run. And all the while, the doomsday clock ticks towards Armageddon.
Published by Solaris on December 26. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
19. Andromeda’s Fall by William C. Dietz
Hundreds of years in the future, much has changed. Advances in medicine, technology, and science abound. Humanity has gone to the stars, found alien life, and established an empire.

But some things never change…

All her life, Lady Catherine Carletto (called Cat) has lived for nothing but the next party, the next lover, the next expensive toy. Until, in a bloodthirsty power grab, Imperial Princess Ophelia and her cadre of synth assassins murder her brother the emperor, and go on to purge the galaxy of his friends and supporters—including Cat’s family. The Carlettos are known to be staunch supporters of the Emperor and Carletto Industries has been in the forefront of his pet project—developing cybernetic technology for use by the masses.

Now Cat, one of the last surviving Carlettos, is on the run. And, like countless others before her, she finds her sanctuary among the most dangerous of society’s misfits.

Welcome to the Legion.

Cat Carletto vanishes, and in her place stands Legion recruit Andromeda McKee. A woman with a mission: to bring down Empress Ophelia—or die trying.
Published by Ace on December 4. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads
20. Doktor Glass by Thomas Brennan
In the tradition of Drood, Doktor Glass is a supernatural mystery set in Victorian Liverpool.

The Transatlantic Span is the industrial marvel of the nineteenth century, a suspension bridge stretching from Liverpool to New York City. It’s a work of art… until a faceless corpse is found in its shadows.

Inspector Matthew Langton, tortured by grief for his late wife, takes charge of the investigation, believing the faceless man a part of a conspiracy to assassinate Queen Victoria on the upcoming Inauguration Day of the Span. But the truth is far more bizarre. There are chilling rumors of the Jar Boys, soul snatchers who come under cover of night. Most frightening of all is the mythic and elusive Doktor Glass, who may not only be behind the illicit trade in souls… but who may hold the key to what happened to the inspector’s own beloved wife on her deathbed.

Exciting and atmospheric, Brennan’s debut novel is at once a page-turning mystery, a tour de force of revisionist imagination, and a gripping drama of the lengths people go to assuage grief in the name of love.
Published by Ace on December 31. Buy this book from Amazon Find this book on Goodreads


What do you think? Any books you are particularly looking forward to? Which are your favorites? Did we miss a book? Let us know in the comments below!

About Stephan van Velzen

Stephan van Velzen
A 29 year-old Communications student, Stephan loves publicity and design, particularly web design. When he’s not designing websites, he’s busy being a total geek for fantasy. In The Ranting Dragon, he has found a way to combine these passions and discover a new love for writing too. Most of all, though, Stephan is just a crazy Dutch guy who enjoys doing things that people don’t expect.

View all articles written by Stephan van Velzen.

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