cover image The Last Sword Maker

The Last Sword Maker

Brian Nelson. Blackstone, $29.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-5385-0766-7

Nelson (The Silence and the Scorpion: The Coup Against Chávez and the Making of Modern Venezuela) makes his fiction debut with a gripping, frighteningly plausible techno-thriller, the first in his Course of Empire series. In 2025, when thousands of Tibetans are slaughtered via a genetically-targeted nano-virus developed under brutal Chinese general Meng Longwei, Rear Adm. James Curtiss, who has his own history of ruthlessness, is tasked with assembling a best-of-the-best team at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., to win the race to create programmable, living nano-weapons. Months later, after Meng learns of an American breakthrough, he attacks the group and kidnaps three scientists, including Eric Hill, a brilliant graduate student, to reproduce the method at China’s Tangshan Military Laboratory. Curtiss must balance the potential rescue of his people against the opportunity to wholly destroy the enemy. Nelson’s intriguing scientific predictions and distinctive near-future setting make this sure to please speculative fiction readers as well as thriller fans. Agent: Andrea Cavallaro, Sandra Djikstra Literary. (Oct.)