US Cover for HELLHOLE (Tor Books)

This February, Brian Herbert and I will introduce our first non-Dune novel, Hellhole, the start of a new epic SF trilogy to be published by Tor Books.  We just received the final US cover, with a painting by Stephen Youll.

The following text will appear on the book’s dust jacket:

Hellhole—an epic original science fiction series from the stunning imaginations of bestsellers Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have spent the past decade writing the brilliant, ambitious novels that expanded and explored Frank Herbert’s Dune universe.  Every one of their Dune novels has been an international bestseller, garnering critical acclaim, awards, and the respect of fans around the world.

Now they have created the first novel in an original three-book series—Hellhole—an epic, panoramic story on a galactic scale packed with non-stop adventure, fascinating characters, and wondrous concepts.  Set on a compelling and unique planet in the aftermath of a titanic cataclysm, Hellhole is built upon the timeless themes of politics, religion, and the struggle for liberty, with elements borrowed from the French and American Revolutions, as well as the opening of the American West.

The human interstellar government, the Constellation, consists of 20 allied “old guard” worlds, centered on the lush capital planet of Sonjeera.  The society is wealthy with a feuding, decadent upper class, ruled by the dowager Diadem Michella Duchenet—a tyrant with a sweet face, charming public disposition, and a shriveled, blackened heart—who has been on the throne for decades.  But as the population of the core worlds has grown and noble families divided their profitable holdings into smaller and smaller pieces, pressures increase for change, for new territory.  After the failure of a devastating revolution, the Diadem Michella realizes she must open the wild frontier of unexplored planets.

“I am more determined than ever that all planets must be utterly dependent on the Constellation—on Sonjeera.  It’s simple logic:  If they have no options, there will never be another significant uprising.”

Thus began a sudden large-scale expansion as dreamers, pioneers, and ambitious risk-takers rushed out to claim 54 newly opened planets in the Deep Zone.  By far the most infamous of the new planets is Hallholme, named “Hellhole” by the miserable, hardscrabble settlers.  Only the most desperate colonists dare to make a new home on Hellhole—“the place to go when there’s nowhere else to go.”  Reeling from a recent asteroid impact, tortured with horrific storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and churning volcanic eruptions, the planet is a dumping ground for undesirables, misfits, and charlatans…but also a haven for dreamers and independent pioneers.  Hellhole is ruled by an exiled military leader, General Adolphus, who was defeated in the abortive revolution, but he still harbors the grand dreams of a visionary and liberator.

“Better to rule on Hellhole than to serve on Sonjeera.”

Not only has the hardened, embittered General made Hellhole his home, he has also turned the harsh world into a place of real opportunity for those who come there.  Under his guidance, colonists are extracting resources, building cities, and planting large areas of Earth crops; the General has financed mines, roads, shelters, schools, factories and power plants.

Though he is forbidden from leaving his place of exile, General Adolphus secretly builds alliances with the leaders of the other Deep Zone worlds, many of whom are also critics of the tyrannical, fossilized Constellation.  Hellhole is supposed to be the General’s Elba, but he is fiercely determined to turn his prison into the center of a new coalition of planets free of the Diadem’s iron grip. The determined pioneers in the Deep Zone feel like second-class citizens, tossed into the wilderness and left to fend for themselves, struggling under heavy taxes to feed the old-guard nobles.

Surrounded by corruption, consumed by the plots and feuds of those around her, Diadem Michella is confident that the General has been neutralized.  She has no idea of the revolt growing in the Deep Zone…or does she?

What no one knows is that the planet Hellhole, though damaged and volatile, hides an amazing secret: the remnants of an obliterated alien civilization and the buried memories of its unrecorded past that could tear apart human civilization once they are unearthed.

Astonishing, fascinating, and intense, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have used their superb creative talents once again to create a novel with a true sense of awe and wonder. Hellhole is Science Fiction at its best—accessible, classic…and timeless.

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