Disrupting the Season of Lists for a few moments, my most anticipated title of next year: The King’s Last Song by Geoff Ryman. Due in February 2006 (in the UK anyway, but then, that’s what Amazon.co.uk is for; plus, 30 percent off). Sez the description:
A great king brings peace to a warring nation. Centuries later his writings will bring hope to those facing the tragic legacy of modern Cambodia’s bloody history. When archaeologists discover a book written on gold leaves at Angkor Wat, everyone wants a piece of the action. But the King, the Army and the UN are all outflanked when the precious artefact is kidnapped, along with Professor Luc Andrade, who was accompanying it to the capital for restoration. Luckily for Luc his love and respect for Cambodia have won him many friends, including ex-Khmer Rouge cadre Map and the young moto-boy William. Both equally determined to rescue the man they consider their mentor and recover the golden book, they form an unlikely bond. But William is unaware of just how closely Map’s violent past affects him. The book contains the words and wisdom of King Jayavarman VII, the Buddhist ruler who united a war-torn Cambodia in the twelfth century and together with his enlightened wife created a kingdom that was a haven of peace and learning. His extraordinary story is skilfully interwoven with the tales of Luc, Map and William to create an unforgettable and dazzling evocation of the spirit of Cambodia.
Wow, that sounds amazing.
A close second (a nanosecond), by the by, is Alan DeNiro‘s Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead — and it’s only second because I’ve already read some of the stories in it.
(Feel free to shout out any you’re waiting for in the comments.)