Excerpt: WITHIN THE SANCTUARY OF WINGS by Marie Brennan (Tor)

To celebrate the recent release of Marie Brennan‘s Within the Sanctuary of Wings, Tor Books has sent me this excerpt to share. The final novel in the author’s Memoirs of Lady Trent fantasy series, first here’s the synopsis:

After nearly five decades (and, indeed, the same number of volumes), one might think they were well-acquainted with the Lady Isabella Trent — dragon naturalist, scandalous explorer, and perhaps as infamous for her company and feats of daring as she is famous for her discoveries and additions to the scientific field.

And yet — after her initial adventure in the mountains of Vystrana, and her exploits in the depths of war-torn Eriga, to the high seas aboard The Basilisk, and then to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia–the Lady Trent has captivated hearts along with fierce minds. This concluding volume will finally reveal the truths behind her most notorious adventure — scaling the tallest peak in the world, buried behind the territory of Scirland’s enemies — and what she discovered there, within the Sanctuary of Wings.

Now. On with chapter one…

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New Books (April-May)

Featuring: James Abbott, Nina Allan, Fredrik Backman, Bandi, Paul Beatty, Robert Jackson Bennett, Marie Brennan, Jesse Brown, M.R. Carey, Don Carpenter, Ben Coes, Jenny T. Colgan, Mason Cross, Cory Doctorow, Alan Drew, Amy Engle, Steve Erickson, Nigel Foster, David Guymer, John Gwynne, Tom Holt, Christopher Husberg, James Islington, Howard Jacobson, Stephen King, Andrew Lane, Dale Lucas, Grace O’Connell, Sam Peters, Eliza Robertson, Vivian Shaw, Michael Farris Smith, Brian Staveley, Allen Steele, Stephan Talty, Gav Thorpe, Alison Umminger, Jeff Vandermeer, Paul Vidich, Chris Wraight

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Upcoming in 2017… Tor.com

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Tor.com has an incredible range of novellas coming out in 2017. So, here are details for just some of those coming up in the first half of the year (I’ll have to do another of these posts in a couple months). All of these sound interesting. I also have many of them already, so I’ll be reading and reviewing them over the next few months.

Featuring: Marie Brennan, Maurice Broaddus, Ruthanna Emrys, Sarah Gailey, Gwyneth Jones, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Joe M. McDermott, Emma Newman, Nnedi Okorafor, Chris Sharp, Martha Wells, Corey J. White

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New Books (Nov-Dec 2016)

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Featuring: David Annandale, Marie Brennan, Maurice Broaddus, Paul Cornell, Michael Crichton, Thoraiya Dyer, Warren Ellis, Christopher Golden, Lee Irby, Kathleen Kent, Christina Kovac, Jonathan Lethem, Laura Lippman, Gregory McDonald, Claire North, Andrew Pyper, Joshua Reynolds, Suzanne Rindell, Kim Stanley Robinson, Steven Savile, Norman Spinrad, Ingrid Thoft, Tim Walker, Alex Wells, Jen Williams, Jason Zinoman

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Quick Review: COLD-FORGED FLAME by Marie Brennan (Tor.com)

BrennanM-ColdForgedFlameAn interesting fantasy novella with room for expansion

The sound of the horn pierces the apeiron, shattering the stillness of that realm. Its clarion call creates ripples, substance, something more. It is a summons, a command. There is will. There is need.

And so, in reply, there is a woman.

At the beginning — no — at the end — she appears, full of fury and bound by chains of prophecy.

Setting off on an unexplained quest from which she is compelled to complete, and facing unnatural challenges in a land that doesn’t seem to exist, she will discover the secrets of herself, or die trying. But along the way, the obstacles will grow to a seemingly insurmountable point, and the final choice will be the biggest sacrifice yet.

This is the story of a woman’s struggle against her very existence, an epic tale of the adventure and emotional upheaval on the way to face an ancient enigmatic foe. This could only spun from the imagination of Marie Brennan, award-winning author and beloved fantasist, beginning a new series about the consequences of war — and of fate.

I enjoyed this novella. The story opens with our protagonist waking in the middle of a ritual — one centred around her. She has no memories, is warned off trying to remember who and what she is. She is given a task, an order she cannot resist. It seems like it could be a straight-forward quest to acquire something. However, when has a Quest ever been easy…? In Cold-Forged Flame, Brennan gives readers a selection of difficulties that can befall a hero. A quick-paced, enjoyable novella. Continue reading

New Books (May-June)

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Featuring: Ramona Ausubel, Stephen Baxter, Peter S. Beagle, Matthew Blakstad, Marie Brennan, Gail Carriger, Joe Carter, Wesley Chu, Richard Cohen, Catherine Coulter, Justin Cronin, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Mark de Jager, Cindy Dees, Matthew Dunn, Brian Evenson, Bill Flippin, Frederick Forsyth, Tod Goldberg, Michael Hjorth, Jon Hollins, Emmi Itäranta, Cassandra Khaw, Jay Kristoff, Travis Langley, Alex Marshall, Hollie Overton, Terry Pratchett, Tim Pratt, Hans Rosenfeldt, Anthony Ryan, Jamie Sawyer, Adam Sisman, Martin Cruz Smith, Cass R. Sunstein, Michael Swanwick, K.B. Wagers, Ren Warom, Chris Whitaker, Walter Jon Williams

Above artwork: Witchfinder: City of the Dead #1 (crop), by Julian Totino Tedesco (Dark Horse Comics)

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Guest Post: “The Series Payoff” by Marie Brennan

BrennanM-AuthorPicIf I had to name one specific story mode I love the most, it would be the closed-arc series.

Other kinds of stories are great, too! A self-contained, single-volume story can pack a hell of a punch, and I’m as susceptible as the next reader to wanting the continuing adventures of my favorite characters, tackling a new puzzle or threat every week. But my absolute favorite is the kind of story that takes place in multiple installments, maybe with a semi-episodic structure, but with an over-arching plot that will wrap up in due course.

The advantages of this form are (in my opinion) legion. Comparing them against the standalone novel: a series has more room to work with, and as a result, can pull off effects that are very difficult to do in a confined space. You can show long-term character development, without short-changing the amount of time and effort required to make that kind of thing plausible. You can lay groundwork and then leave it alone for long enough that the reader forgets about it, until it comes back to punch them in the face. You can make use of recurring motifs, revisiting a particular bit of plot from different angles, so the reader gets a variety of perspectives on it rather than just the one. Continue reading