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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Excerpt: SKULLSWORN by Brian Staveley (Tor Books)

StaveleyB-SkullswornUSIn the first of today’s posts celebrating the release of Brian Staveley‘s stand-alone Skullsworn, we have an excerpt. First, though, here’s the synopsis:

For one apprentice assassin, the clock is ticking…

Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the description skullsworn. It doesn’t capture the beauty of her devotion to Ananshael, God of Death. And she’s not an assassin, but a priestess. Or she will be, if she can pass her final trial. The problem isn’t killing, as Pyrre has spent her life training for this. The problem is love. To pass the trial, she will have fourteen days to kill seven people detailed in an ancient song, including one true love, ‘who will not come again’. However, Pyrre has never been in love, time is short, and if she fails she’ll be given to her god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail. So a month before the trial begins, she returns to the violent city of her birth, where she once offered an abusive father to the god. Here Pyrre hopes to find love – and end it with the edge of her knife.

Skullsworn is set in the same world as Staveley’s excellent, best-selling and critically-acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy. On with the excerpt!

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Review: THE LAST MORTAL BOND by Brian Staveley (Tor)

StaveleyB-CUT3-LastMortalBondUSThe highly-anticipated conclusion to the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy

DEATH IS NEAR, ARMIES ARE GATHERED, AND THE FUTURE RESTS ON A KNIFE-EDGE 

The Annurian Empire is losing a war on two fronts — and it’s unclear who’s in command. Adare is stationed in the thick of battle, calling herself Emperor. However, she can’t hold back the nomadic Urghul forces forever. She needs her brilliant general, Ran il Tornja, but will he betray her again?

Adare’s brother Kaden is the true heir, yet he’ll accept a republic to save his divided people. And he faces something more terrible than war. He’s unmasked Ran il Tornja as a remnant of an ancient race, one that attempted to destroy mankind. The general now plans to finish what they started. Kaden has also discovered that capricious gods walk the earth in human guise — and their agendas may seal the fates of all.

In early 2014, I finally got around to reading Brian Staveley’s first two novelsThe Emperor’s Blades and The Providence of Fire. I was blown away — I read them back-to-back, which is something I haven’t done with a fantasy series since Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies, and Peter V. Brett’s The Desert Spear and The Daylight War. Staveley’s writing, his characters, and the fantastically composed and paced narrative just pulled me through. I was hooked. I still think the two novels are a fantastic example of what modern fantasy can be. (Seriously, go read them.) I had a rather different reaction to The Last Mortal BondContinue reading

Upcoming in 2017… Tor Books (US)

upcoming2017-torus

Just a couple of handfuls of upcoming novels from Tor Books (there are many that look interesting, these stood out).

Featuring: Cory Doctorow, Thoraiya Dyer, A.J. Hartley, Michael Johnston, Nancy Kress, Laura Lam, Ian McDonald, John Scalzi, Brian Staveley, Allen Steele

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Guest Post: “Pushing The Envelope In Fiction; Navigating A PC-Centric Media Universe” by Edward Lazellari

Lazellari-AuthorPicSo you’re going to be a writer? Awesome. You are never going to please everyone, so own it; the thin-skinned have no business being authors (or auteurs). Words have put the most popular and successful authors on the painful side of a controversy (Sometimes it’s intentional.) That said… keep an open mind to the opinions of critics and friends. If you are going to create fictional scenarios that skirt the edge of mass acceptance, know why you are writing those actions. When George R.R. Martin decided to have brother and sister lovers in Game of Thrones, he was setting up the premise of the entire series. The question of legitimate authority and unraveling of Westeros as a society came out of that relationship. Everything that happens in your story, no matter how taboo, should serve the narrative. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Some Thoughts on Fantasy Series & Stand Alones” by Blake Charlton

charltonb-authorpic“Is this book a standalone or the third in your trilogy?” A question that I’ve had to address since the publication of my latest book, Spellbreaker. The answer, perhaps confusingly, is yes. When justifying this answer, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the way stories are told in series, particularly in epic fantasy.

I don’t think too many will disagree that in the traditional conception of epic fantasy, the use of a series of books is a logistical necessity, not an aesthetic choice. The Lord of the Rings, of course, was written as one book (to rule them all?) and broken into three only because the printing, binding, and shipping costs would have been prohibitive. This precedent created the current expectation that every book in an epic fantasy series will be the immediate continuation of the last. Since the 1980s, the majority of successful fantasy series have done exactly that. There are many, well-known advantages to this approach; it allows for intricate exploration of subplots; it proves continuous and detailed character development; it creates an experience in which the reader traverses an epic number of pages that mirrors the characters’ journey across and among an epic number of landscapes and cultures. The grandmasters do so effortlessly and with style. Continue reading

A Quick Chat with RJURIK DAVIDSON

Welcome back to CR! For new readers, let’s start with an introduction: Who is Rjurik Davidson?

An Australian writer who spends a lot of time in Europe. A person who moves from place to place, from forest to desert, across all sorts of levels of society, from lawyers to party animals, from politicians to workers, from the ancient to the modern. Someone who knows that the most interesting things happen on the fault lines between worlds.

Your new novel, The Stars Askew, has recently been published by Tor. It looks fantastic: How would you introduce the series to a potential reader? And what can fans of the first novel expect from this new book?

First of all, The Stars Askew is an epic story about a revolution. As with all revolutions, it’s filled with dramatic events. The city of Caeli-Amur is in flux. Revolutionaries are in control, but enemies lurk in the shadows. One of the leaders is found murdered in the city’s baths with two thaumaturgists, also killed. Why were they killed? Kata, a former philosopher-assassin sets out to find the killer. That’s the start of the novel. From there stakes rise and rise. The novel features prison camps and Gorgons, lost towers in the wilderness and betrayal. Continue reading