The Tethered Mage
by Melissa Caruso
480pp (Trade Paperback)
My Rating: 8/10
Amazon Rating: 4.1/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.33/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.96/5
 

The Tethered Mage, the first book in the Swords and Fire trilogy, is Melissa Caruso’s debut novel—and what a wonderful debut it is! It’s Venetian-inspired fantasy featuring great characters (including a variety of women), magic, political intrigue and mystery, friendship, and a dash of romantic entanglement, but what truly sets it apart is the solid worldbuilding. I found it so exciting and compulsively readable that I could hardly put it down, and I ended up staying up until 2:00 AM finishing it since I had to know how it ended.

To her mother’s chagrin, eighteen-year-old Lady Amalia Cornaro is more interested in studying the creation of devices than politics, but Amalia is forced to become politically involved after she accidentally breaks the rules to save the city of Raverra…

When returning from a clandestine book-buying trip to a part of the city of which her august mother would surely disapprove, Amalia stumbles upon a young woman being threatened by three men. Though Amalia realizes it’s unwise for her to get involved as La Contessa’s only daughter and heir to her position on the Council of Nine, she also feels that morality demands that she attempt to help and therefore steps in. However, it is soon obvious that the woman does not need any help: she is a rare and dangerous fire mage, the same type that has historically been the difference between winning and losing for the Empire.

Even after the men have been consumed by her flames, the mage continues to burn, ignoring Amalia’s desperate pleas to stop before she destroys the entire city. In the midst of the chaos, she’s found by Lieutenant Marcello Verdi of the Falconers, the company that controls magic for the Empire, who informs Amalia that the mage has lost control and is unable to stop herself. Since he’s already bound to a Falcon, he cannot prevent her from using her power, but Amalia can if she can only manage to slip a jess around the other woman’s wrist.

Amalia braves the fire and is successful, and the magic of the jess binds the mage’s power. Both Marcello and Amalia are relieved that the city is no longer burning, but their relief doesn’t last long: when Marcello followed the customary procedure developed for emergency situations just like this, he didn’t realize he was recruiting the Cornaro heir, breaking the law that nobles from ruling families cannot be Falconers. Unfortunately, there is no way to undo this, and Amalia is now the only one who can bind and release the magic of the most powerful of all the Empire’s Falcons.

War looms on the horizon for the first time in fifty years, and if there is a conflict, Amalia will be expected to unleash the mage’s flames upon the city she’s come to think of as a second home—and her only hope is to follow the trail of treachery to its source and end the war before it begins…

The Tethered Mage is a fantastic first novel that particularly excels at characters, worldbuilding, and telling the type of compelling story that leads to late-night-to-early-morning binge reading. The societal system for handling magic and the resulting consequences are thoughtfully done, and the major characters all have human flaws and realistic struggles based on their backgrounds (plus I very much enjoyed reading about both Amalia and the fire mage, Zaira, as well as Amalia’s mother and her exceptionally competent right-hand woman).

Though it wouldn’t be as captivating without its cast of characters, the worldbuilding is what primarily sets The Tethered Mage apart as fresh and unique. Rather than being ruled by a monarch, the Serene Empire is primarily run by a doge, elected to this lifetime position by an Assembly dedicated to law-making, and the Council of Nine, which includes five elected officials and four members of ruling families who inherit their positions. A neighboring country is controlled by power-hungry mages who can and do inflict extraordinary horrors upon their people, but the Serene Empire’s vast power comes from their system of controlling magic. Once a child with the mage mark is discovered, they (and, if they wish, their family) must move to the Mews where they will be trained and eventually matched with a Falconer capable of binding and releasing their power as necessary (in cases in which their power does not endanger others, they remain unbound most of the time). The Falcon and Falconer are a pair, and the mage is free to leave the Mews—as long as they are accompanied by their Falconer, who can unleash their power if necessary for self defense and bind it again if it becomes a threat to innocent bystanders or even the city as a whole.

In an interview at the back of the book, Melissa Caruso discussed how this idea for the book’s premise was the result of wondering how a world with mages would be able to prevent them from taking over. When asked about the overarching theme of freedom vs. protection, her response includes the following line: “I wanted the individual characters and the world as a whole to be struggling with the issue of how to handle mages, and I didn’t want there to be an easy answer that would solve all the potential problems.” She completely succeeded, and these complexities and the way she showed the variety of effects caused by this system were among the novel’s greatest strengths. The Tethered Mage demonstrates the disruption it can cause for families with a child who develops the mage mark, the changes resulting from going from years of peacetime to imminent war, and even why some mages prefer the protection of the Mews to the alternative.

However, even the most content of Falcons were never allowed to choose their lot in life, and one reason I loved Zaira so much is that she never lets the other characters forget this! Though secretive about her past, she is blunt and outspoken when it comes to her feelings about her present situation, and her dynamic with Amalia as they slowly learn to work together was well done. Amalia feels terrible that her attempt to help Zaira led to her being conscripted into the Falcons, apologizes to her, and tries to befriend her, but Zaira is quite clear that none of that changes the fact that she’s furious about becoming a Falcon and wants nothing to do with Amalia. Yet the two cannot escape that they’re bound together now, and they end up in situations in which they both have something to offer. It is a bit stereotypical that one of them is book-smart but not street-smart while the other is illiterate but a survivor who knows her way around the city, but they do complement each other nicely and it makes for entertaining reading.

Amalia is obviously quite different from Zaira, but she too is an intriguing character. After she becomes a Falconer, she faces a lot of situations she feels unprepared to handle, but in addition to being about whether or not she and Zaira can develop mutual trust, it’s also about Amalia becoming more politically savvy and stepping into the role she was born for as the Cornaro heir—and being her own person instead of simply La Contessa’s daughter. Throughout the course of the novel, she faces obstacles related to her dependence on an elixir that keeps her alive, her encounters with a creepy foreign prince who abuses his power to control other people’s bodies against their will, and her feelings for Marcello, of whom her mother does not approve. I also enjoyed reading about her interactions with many of the other characters, especially her intelligent and feared mother and, of course, Zaira. It was also wonderful that in addition to the budding romance, there were plenty of friendships too—both with other women and a man (it’s refreshing to see both female friendship and a platonic male/female friendship in the same book, as well as a setting with gender equality and acceptance of same-sex marriage).

Though it has numerous wonderful qualities, this is not a book to read if one is looking for subtlety or beautiful writing. The prose is not particularly notable since it’s a fairly typical straightforward first person narrative peppered with infodumps, but it is quite readable with some fun dialogue, making it effortless to breeze through.

The Tethered Mage is one of the most engaging novels I’ve encountered this year, debut or otherwise, and it is easily my favorite 2017 debut set in a secondary world. Its characters and universe make it memorable, and I’m looking forward to the next installment, The Defiant Heir, in April 2018!

My Rating: 8/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the publisher.

Read an Excerpt from The Tethered Mage

Book Description from Goodreads:

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point—he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen is the first book in the Ascendance trilogy and is followed by The Runaway King and The Shadow Throne. It’s the story of a fourteen-year-old boy, Sage, who is purchased from an orphanage by Conner, a nobleman—even after the owner tries to dissuade him due to Sage’s reputation as a thief and a liar.

Deceitfulness is actually a point in Sage’s favor, given Conner’s plans for him and the three other orphans he recently acquired: he intends for one of them to impersonate Prince Jaron, who has been presumed dead since pirates attacked his ship a few years ago. Though most of the country does not yet realize it, the entire royal family was recently murdered, leaving them without a monarch—unless the king’s missing son happened to return to claim the throne.

All the boys were chosen due to some resemblance to the prince, but Sage faces the biggest obstacles of all to being selected as the false prince: not only is he the boy who resembles Jaron the least physically, but he’s also the least desirable candidate due to the same exact intractable nature that made him a worthy contender in the first place. The young prince was known to be a confident, quick-thinking troublemaker, and though Sage is neither educated nor strong like Jaron would be, he and the prince do share similar personalities.

Sage has no desire to be Conner’s prince, but after witnessing the murder of the one boy who accepts Conner’s invitation to leave, it’s clear that he must be chosen as the false prince—or he’ll be killed to protect Conner’s secret. But what Conner doesn’t yet realize is that Sage is not to be underestimated…

The False Prince is an entertaining, readable book that moves at a decent pace. It’s fantasy in that it’s set in a made-up world, but it does not feature magic or delve deeply enough into that world for it to seem all that different from past Earth with different place names. The main focus is the plot and the character of Sage, an unreliable narrator who keeps things interesting—for both the other characters and the reader!

The prose is simple and straightforward, though it does include some amusing dialogue and a narrative voice with some personality. Despite some twists, the story follows a predictable path and lacks the depth or subtlety to make it unforgettable to me personally, but I did find it to be both enjoyable and satisfying (admittedly, I am partial to rogue-like characters who tend to be steps ahead of everyone else like Sage, as well as this type of story in general even if the major twist was expected). Those criticisms are mainly a matter of my own preferences, though, since more of the focus seemed to be on telling an engaging story than a complex one. The author did a wonderful job of keeping the book fun, and I suspect I would have loved it if I’d read the book as a preteen or young teen, before I’d read as many books as I have now or come across similar stories.

Even if it didn’t surprise me or stand out as particularly unique, I found The False Prince to be a compelling, well-orchestrated tale centered on a deceptive character with a mischievous streak. I’m not sure if I’ll read the next book since this one felt complete and I don’t think it would be possible to reproduce what I liked about it in a sequel, but I am glad I read The False Prince even if it didn’t wow me.

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: I purchased it.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I discuss books I got over the last week–old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

Like the previous post, both of this week’s featured books are recent purchases. I ended up needing to wait around a bit after an appointment last week, and there happened to be a bookstore nearby so, of course, I had to take a look!

There were no new reviews last week, but I do have a review in progress that I’m hoping to post soon.

Monstress, Volume 2 by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda

Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood (Monstress #7–12) written by Marjorie Liu and illustrated by Sana Takeda

Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, winner of the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, is dark, violent, and excellent with absolutely gorgeous artwork. I enjoyed it very much and am looking forward to reading this volume, a collection of issues 7–12.

 

The Eisner-nominated MONSTRESS is back! Maika, Kippa, and Ren journey to Thyria in search of answers to her past… and discover a new, terrible, threat. Collects MONSTRESS #7-12

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

This science fiction novel by Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award–winning author Nnedi Okorafor sounds rather interesting, plus I’ve heard great things about it (and, I must admit, the cover drew my eye!). The publisher’s website has an excerpt from Lagoon.

 

It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction—in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.

After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between seventeen million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.

Additional Books:

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I discuss books I got over the last week–old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I was away earlier this month. I wasn’t able to write anything new during that time (although I did go used book shopping!), but there is one new review from last week:

And now, the latest books including used bookstore finds!

The Crystal Gryphon by Andre Norton

The Crystal Gryphon (Witch World: High Hallack: Gryphon Series #1) by Andre Norton

I’ve been wanting to read more Andre Norton since reading Forerunner last year (my review), and I’ve heard a lot of good things about The Crystal Gryphon and its sequels in particular. When I came across a copy at a used bookstore, I had to pick it up!

 

The adventures of Witch World continue as a cursed hero and his true love struggle for survival in a vast parallel universe of magic and high fantasy.

Kerovan of Ulmsdale has long borne the curse of his ancestors’ depredations. After pillaging a sanctum of the Old Ones, his bloodline has been forever marred by painful sickness and death. Kerovan was born strong and hardy, but he walks on hooves instead of human feet and sees through eyes of amber—just as the Old Ones had.

Bound in marriage to the beautiful Joisan of Ithkrypt, Kerovan seeks to claim his rightful place as Lord-heir of Ulmsdale. But first, the couple—separated by distance, yet linked in spirit—must unlock the powers held within a mystical necklace Joisan wears. The small crystal gryphon bears secrets that will bring them to the farthest reaches of the wilderness on a quest to save their people and their world from doom.

Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master Andre Norton’s beloved novels of sword and sorcery have sold millions of copies worldwide.

The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre

The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre

This was another used bookstore find that I couldn’t resist. It sounded intriguing, plus it’s a Nebula Award winner!

 

In seventeenth-century France, Louis XIV rules with flamboyant ambition. From the Hall of Mirrors to the vermin-infested attics of the Chateau at Versailles, courtiers compete to please the king, sacrificing fortune, principles, and even the sacred bond between brother and sister.

Marie-Josephe de la Croix looks forward to assisting her adored brother in the scientific study of the rare sea monsters the king has commissioned him to seek. For the honor of his God, his country, and his king, Father Yves de la Croix returns with his treasures, believed to be the source of immortality: one heavy shroud packed in ice…and a covered basin that imprisons a shrieking creature.

The living sea monster, with its double tail, tangled hair, and gargoyle face, provides an intriguing experiment for Yves and the king. Yet for Marie-Josephe, the creature’s gaze and exquisite singing foretell a different future…

Soon Marie-Josephe is contemplating choices that defy the institutions which power her world. Somehow, she must find the courage to follow her heart and her convictions – even at the cost of changing her life forever.

The Alleluia Files by Sharon Shinn

The Alleluia Files (Samaria #3) by Sharon Shinn

It’s been years since I read the first Samaria book, but I enjoyed it a lot and really need to read the rest of the series. I came across a used copy in excellent condition and nearly left it at the store since I don’t yet have the second book in the series, but I was (rather easily) talked into buying it when I found out it was only $0.99.

 

And a god will fall…

It has been one hundred years since the Archangel Alleluia and the mortal Caleb discovered the truth about the god of Samaria. Legend says that they left a record of that truth, though no document has ever been found. In time, an underground cult arose, seeking to find again what Alleluia found. But the reigning Archangel Bael called down the wrath of Jovah upon the cult, and hundreds died in a hail of thunderbolts. Yet some still survive…

Among them is the woman Tamar, child of cultists, raised in captivity among the angels. Tamar believes that the Alleluia Files—the actual disc on which the legendary Archangel recorded her experience—exist. She is determined to find it, and free the people of Samaria from their fear of Jovah, and the rule of the angels.

In her search, she encounters the angel Jared, one of the members of his kind who have come to question the wisdom of Bael, and his harsh treament of the cultists. Jared can go to places forbidden to Tamar, so when he offers to accompany her, she reluctantly agrees.

Together, these two uneasy allies will journey the length and breadth of Samaria, risking their lives and the lives of their comrades, seeking a truth that will alter the face of Samaria forever…

Additional Books:

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
by Patricia A. McKillip
240pp (Trade Paperback)
My Rating: 10/10
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.06/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.07/5
 

Acclaimed author Patricia A. McKillip, a recipient of the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement, has written more than 30 novels since the publication of her first more than 40 years ago. Among the earliest of these novels is her self-described first major fantasyThe Forgotten Beasts of Eld, which won the World Fantasy Award and was selected as a finalist for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award after its release in 1974. This beloved standalone fantasy was recently re-released in trade paperback and ebook with gorgeous cover art by Thomas Canty and a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger, who shares that this is her favorite book of all time and has been for more than 30 years. She also expresses her difficulty in finding words to properly describe the scope and brilliance of The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, and having just read it for the second time, I find myself in the same position. It’s a beautifully written story about a mage with a menagerie of legendary animals, and at its heart it’s about power, love and hate, choice—and Sybel herself, the extraordinary heroine who becomes entangled in human affairs after leading a secluded life like her father and grandfather before her.

Once, there was a mage, the son of another wizard, who left the city for a quiet existence on Eld Mountain, where he called to him three fantastic beasts: a black swan who had saved a princess, a boar who could solve every riddle except one, and a dragon who had accumulated great wealth. Just a small amount of the dragon’s riches was sufficient for him to build a beautiful house of polished stone and an enclosed garden for the animals, and his son inherited all these plus his father’s magical gifts. This son called to him three more fantastic beasts: a wise lyon from the deserts, a large black cat with a deep knowledge of sorcery, and a fierce falcon who once killed seven murderers. This mage also had a child—not a son, to his great surprise, but a daughter—who also had the mage-gift. He named her Sybel and died when she was only sixteen years old, leaving her alone in the mountain with the house, a well-stocked library, and six fantastic beasts.

Shortly after her father’s passing, Sybel discovers a book describing the Liralen, a great white bird, and becomes determined to add it to her menagerie. One day, as she’s calling to it, she’s interrupted by the sound of shouting at her gates and sends Ter Falcon to deal with the disruption. To her chagrin, she continues to hear human noises even after her raptor should have carried out her request to drop the intruder off the top of the mountain, and so she investigates the cause of the commotion. She finds a man, Coren of Sirle, with a baby named Tamlorn: the son of Sybel’s aunt, a queen who died in childbirth, and Coren’s brother, who was killed by the enraged king. Coren fears that the king will also kill his brother’s child and asks Sybel to care for him.

Twelve years pass during which Sybel comes to love Tamlorn like her own son, and then Coren returns to Eld Mountain bearing the news that the child is, in fact, the king’s son and only heir—and Coren’s family desires not only to make Tamlorn king but also to use Sybel’s power. Sybel refuses to comply, not wanting herself or Tamlorn to be used as a pawn in political games, but she’s unable to escape being drawn into the world beyond Eld Mountain.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a spellbinding novel, and like Gail Carriger wrote in the book’s foreword, I’m finding it difficult to find the words to adequately describe it. It’s a trademark McKillip book with its lovely prose, fairy tale feel, occasional moments of quiet humor, and timeless themes—and yet it’s unlike anything else I’ve read. (Of course, that uniqueness in itself is trademark McKillip!) It twists and turns and doesn’t end up where one may expect from its beginning, and yet its path is always true to Sybel and her character. It’s fantasy complete with a kingdom, magic, intelligent and/or talking animals (including a dragon!), and emphasis on threes and sevens, and like the best stories in the genre, it’s an imaginative, immersive story about humanity that lingers in the memory long after reaching the end.

I found it particularly notable that The Forgotten Beasts of Eld and its heroine still seem fresh more than 40 years after it was written, during a time when McKillip had not encountered many women like Sybel in her own reading:

 

But when I sat down to write my first major fantasy, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, I didn’t question the point of view that came out of my pen.  It seemed very natural to me to wonder why in the world a woman couldn’t be a witch or a wizard, or why, if she did, she had to be virginal as well.  Or why, if she was powerful and not a virgin, she was probably the evil force the male hero had to overcome.  Such was my experience reading about women in fantasy, back then.

So I wrote from the point of view of a powerful female wizard, who, even after she married, was the hero of her own story, and whose decisions, for better and for worse, were her own.

Sybel herself is this novel’s heart, and she is indeed “the hero of her own story” from beginning to end. Though she obviously bucks some tropes throughout the novel, it’s done without fanfare or drawing attention to it: she is who she is, and her personal journey is realistic and true to her. There are some brief moments showing how she defies expectations—notably, her father’s shock at having a daughter and Coren’s surprise at a woman not knowing what to do with a baby—but she is acknowledged to be a powerful woman without other characters questioning how this can be and she exerts control over her own destiny. As she goes from near isolation to becoming embroiled in the outside world, as she faces obstacles both from men who would use her power and her own inner battles, her choices are always understandable under the circumstances even if they are “for worse.”

It does feature a love story, and this too seems different from the usual. After living in seclusion, Sybel’s the one who has to learn how to love and open herself to love (not just romantically, since first she learns to love Tamlorn and befriends Malega, a neighboring witch who teaches her how to care for the baby). Once she’s married, she’s making plans and working toward her own goals while keeping secrets for her husband’s own good and protection. It’s Sybel who inhabits the light side and the dark side and everything in between as she does what she thinks is best.

Despite delving into subjects related to the shadows of the soul and becoming what one most fears, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is not what I’d call a particularly grim book, though I do want to warn potential readers that there are a couple of parts involving rape. One is just a brief mention that Sybel’s mother did not come to the mountain of her own free will, and there is also one attempted rape scene in which the woman rescues herself.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a fantastic book with a lot to digest, yet it’s utterly captivating and never dull. It’s especially impressive how such a refined story without much action can seem so earth-shattering decades after its publication, especially in its portrayal of the heroine at its core. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a stunning masterpiece of fantasy, and I suspect this will not have been my last time rereading this elegantly written novel.

My Rating: 10/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the publisher.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I discuss books I got over the last week–old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

Quite a few books came in the mail last week, including some that have already been featured here—and one that has been featured here that I’m currently giving away…

Last week, Julie E. Czerneda discussed The Hair from her Clan Chronicles series as part of her Against the Dark blog tour, and you can also enter to win her soon-to-be released conclusion to the Reunification series, To Guard Against the Dark, plus This Gulf of Time and Stars (US and Canada—giveaway ends October 10). You can also learn how to enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win all nine books in the Clan Chronicles!

And now, the latest books!

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

The Stone in the Skull (Lotus Kingdoms #1) by Elizabeth Bear

Hugo, Locus, and Sturgeon Award–winning author Elizabeth Bear’s latest novel, the first book in a new trilogy set in the same world as Eternal Sky (Range of Ghosts, Shattered Pillars, Steles of the Sky), will be released on October 10 (hardcover, ebook).

The Stone in the Skull appeared on my most anticipated books of 2017 list, so obviously, this is a book I’ve been looking forward to reading! Elizabeth Bear is one of my favorite authors because her books tend to be beautifully written and thoughtful, and I am especially fond of this world—in addition to being the setting of the Eternal Sky trilogy, it’s also the setting of the wonderful novellas Book of Iron and Bone and Jewel Creatures featuring the artificer Bijou.

The Tor-Forge blog has the first chapter from The Stone in the Skull, and Tor.com has the second chapter.

 

Hugo Award–winning author Elizabeth Bear returns to her critically acclaimed epic fantasy world of the Eternal Sky with a brand new trilogy.

The Stone in the Skull, the first volume in her new trilogy, takes readers over the dangerous mountain passes of the Steles of the Sky and south into the Lotus Kingdoms.

The Gage is a brass automaton created by a wizard of Messaline around the core of a human being. His wizard is long dead, and he works as a mercenary. He is carrying a message from a the most powerful sorcerer of Messaline to the Rajni of the Lotus Kingdom. With him is The Dead Man, a bitter survivor of the body guard of the deposed Uthman Caliphate, protecting the message and the Gage. They are friends, of a peculiar sort.

They are walking into a dynastic war between the rulers of the shattered bits of a once great Empire.

The Lotus Kingdoms
#1 The Stone in the Skull

The Eternal Sky Trilogy
#1 Range of Ghosts
#2 Shattered Pillars
#3 Steles of the Sky

Neverwhere Illustrated Edition

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Chris Riddell

This lovely new illustrated hardcover edition of New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere was just released last week.

It contains the following:

  • Illustrations by award-winning artist and Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2015–2017 Chris Riddell
  • An introduction by the author
  • An edited version of the novel
  • An older prologue that was removed from the final version
  • An interview with the author
  • The short story “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back”
 

National Bestseller

Selected as one of NPR’S Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of All Time

The #1 New York Times bestselling author’s dark classic of modern fantasy, beautifully illustrated for the first time by award-winning artist Chris Riddell, and featuring the author’s preferred text and his Neverwhere tale, “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back.”

Published in 1997, Neil Gaiman’s first novel, Neverwhere, heralded the arrival of a major talent. Over the years, various versions have been produced around the world. In 2016, this gorgeously illustrated edition of the novel was released in the UK. It is now available here, and features strikingly atmospheric, painstakingly detailed black-and-white line art by Chris Riddell, one of Gaiman’s favorite artistic interpreters of his work.

Richard Mayhew is a young London businessman with a good heart whose life is changed forever when he stops to help a bleeding girl—an act of kindness that plunges him into a world he never dreamed existed. Slipping through the cracks of reality, Richard lands in Neverwhere—a London of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth. Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Here in Neverwhere, Door is a powerful noblewoman who has vowed to find the evil agent of her family’s slaughter and thwart the destruction of this strange underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life and home, he must join Lady Door’s quest to save her world—and may well die trying.

Additional Books: