Women in SF&F Month Banner

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the fourth annual Women in SF&F Month at Fantasy Cafe! For the last few years, I’ve set aside reviews and other book coverage during the month of April and instead held a month-long series of guest posts highlighting some of the women doing amazing work in speculative fiction. Throughout the month, guests will discuss a variety of topics—many of which will be related to women in science fiction and fantasy but not necessarily all since the goal is simply to gather a group of women invested in the genre in one place for a month and showcase the wonderful work they are doing. Past contributions have ranged from women discussing their own work and process to what they find best about the works of other women to issues of representation and equity in fandom.

Before the first Women in SF&F Month, I had been making an effort to read and review a lot of speculative fiction books by women on this blog—but it wasn’t always that way. After I started reading fantasy and seeking more book recommendations online, I found that very few of the books I heard about the most were written by women. I didn’t actually notice this for quite awhile since I just read the books that were supposed to be good without giving much thought to who wrote them beyond whether or not I considered them an author worth reading.

It wasn’t until I saw an online discussion about women writing science fiction and fantasy that I realized I found it a lot easier to name men writing books in these genres than women. After that, I started paying more attention to women’s names when they were mentioned (which was usually here and there instead of everywhere like a lot of well-known fantasy and science fiction authors). I discovered there were all kinds of women writing speculative fiction that I’d missed out on since I read a lot of the (mostly male) authors praised all over the Internet. While many of these recommended authors do write books I enjoy, there are also many women who deserve to be read and lauded just as often.

Once I realized women’s books did not seem to be discussed as much, I turned to reading and reviewing more books by women to try to make my small corner of the Internet a place where some of these books were featured. Then, in 2012, there were a couple of discussions on the Internet about both review coverage of books by women and the lack of blogs by women suggested for Hugo Awards in the fan categories. After these discussions and some of the responses to them (one of which was that women weren’t being reviewed or mentioned because they weren’t writing and reviewing science fiction and fantasy), I wanted to show that there were lots of women writing, reviewing, and discussing speculative fiction whose work should be recognized. I decided to see if I could pull together enough guest posts to spend about a month highlighting women in science fiction and fantasy. At the time this decision was made, it seemed most reasonable to aim for an April event—and that’s how April became Women in SF&F Month on Fantasy Cafe!

And now, this brings me to announcing the first guests of the month! Here’s the schedule for the first (partial) week of April:


April 1: Renay from Lady Business
April 2: Rachel Hartman (Seraphina, Shadow Scale)
April 3: Genevieve Valentine (Persona, Mechanique, Catwoman)
April 4: Book Giveaway

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration (often 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.

This week there are three books to discuss. It’s been rather quiet here lately for various reasons, but that will be changing soon since one of those reasons is I’ve been spending a lot of my blogging time preparing for the fourth annual Women in SF&F Month, which will be starting later this week!

On to this week’s books.

Blood Sisters edited by Paula Guran

Blood Sisters: Vampire Stories by Women edited by Paula Guran

Genre: Horror/Fantasy (Anthology)
Release Date: May 5 (Paperback, Ebook)

View Table of Contents

Neither short stories nor vampires are my favorites yet I am really interested in this anthology after looking through it! It has stories by many wonderful authors—Freda Warrington, Elizabeth Bear, Tanith Lee, Tanya Huff, Nalo Hopkinson, Storm Constantine, Catherynne M. Valente—and many others I’ve heard are also wonderful such as Holly Black, Kelley Armstrong, Charlaine Harris, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Carrie Vaughn, Caitlin R. Kiernan, and Laurell K. Hamilton. There’s also a little about the history of vampire literature in the introduction with particular focus on women’s contributions, including stories written before the publication of Dracula.


A tantalizing selection of stories from some of the best female authors who’ve helped define the modern vampire.

Bram Stoker was hardly the first author—male or female—to fictionalize the folkloric vampire, but he defined the modern iconic vampire when Dracula appeared in 1897. Since then, many have reinterpreted the ever-versatile vampire over and over again—and female writers have played vital roles in proving that the vampire, as well as our perpetual fascination with it, is truly immortal. These authors have devised some of the most fascinating, popular, and entertaining of our many vampiric variations: suavely sensual . . . fascinating but fatal . . . sexy and smart . . . undead but prone to detection . . . tormented or terrifying . . . amusing or amoral . . . doomed or deadly . . . badass and beautiful . . . cutting-edge or classic . . .

Blood Sisters collects a wide range of fantastical stories from New York Times bestsellers Holly Black, Nancy Holder, Catherynne M. Valente, and Carrie Vaughn, and critically acclaimed writers Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Tanith Lee, all of whom have left their indelible and unique stamps on the vampire genre. Whether they are undeniably heroes and heroines or bloodthirsty monsters (or something in between), the undead are a lively lot. This anthology offers some of the best short fiction ever written by the “blood sisters” who know them best: stories you can really sink your teeth into.

Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction

Hannu Rajaniemi: Collected Fiction by Hannu Rajaniemi

Genre: Science Fiction (Short Stories)
Release Date: May 12 (Limited Hardcover)

View Table of Contents

Hannu Rajaniemi, author of the Jean le Flambeur series beginning with The Quantum Thief, has received the Tahtivaeltaja Award and the third place John W. Campbell Memorial Award.


Inside the firewall the city is alive. Buildings breathe, cars attack, angels patrol, and hyper-intelligent pets rebel.

With unbridled invention and breakneck adventure, Hannu Rajaniemi is on the cutting-edge of science fiction. His post-apocalyptic, post-cyberpunk, and post-human tales are full of exhilarating energy and unpredictable optimism.

How will human nature react when the only limit to desire is creativity? When the distinction between humans and gods is as small as nanomachines—or as large as the universe? Whether the next big step in technology is 3D printing, genetic alteration, or unlimited space travel, Rajaniemi writes about what happens after.

The Unremembered by Peter Orullian

The Unremembered: Author’s Definitive Edition (Vault of Heaven #1) by Peter Orullian

Genre: Fantasy (Epic)
Release Date: April 7 (Paperback)

Read an Excerpt (may not be the same edition)

The Unremembered is being re-released shortly before the publication of Trial of Intentions (Vault of Heaven #2) on May 26.


Peter Orullian’s epic fantasy debut The Unremembered has been critically acclaimed, earning starred reviews and glowing praise. But now it gets even better. In anticipation of the second volume in Orullian’s epic series, and for one of the few times in our publishing history, we at Tor are choosing to relaunch a title with an author’s definitive edition.

In addition to stunning updates to the original text, we’re also including an exclusive short story set in the world of Vault of Heaven as well as a sneak preview of the sequel, Trial of Intentions, and a glossary to the universe.

The gods who created this world have abandoned it. In their mercy however, they sealed the rogue god—and the monstrous creatures he created to plague mortal kind—in the vast and inhospitable wasteland of the Bourne. The magical Veil that protected humankind for millennia has become weak and creatures of nightmare have now come through. Those who stand against evil know that only drastic measures will prevent a devastating invasion.

Tahn Junell is a hunter who’s unaware of the dark forces that imperil his world, in much the same way his youth is lost to memory. But an imperious man who wears the sigil of the feared Order of Sheason and a beautiful woman of the legendary Far have shared with Tahn the danger. They’ve asked him, his sister, and his friends to embark with them on a journey that will change their lives . . . and the world . . . forever. And in the process, he’ll remember . . .

Today I am delighted to welcome fantasy, science fiction, and alternate history author Beth Bernobich to the site! She is the author of the River of Souls trilogy, The Time Roads, A Handful of Pearls & Other Stories, and more. (I especially liked her short story “River of Souls”—you can read it by clicking the artwork for this story at the end of this post.) The entire River of Souls trilogy has been released, but there is currently a Kickstarter in progress for the production of a novelette set thirty-five years after the end of Allegiance, “Nocturnall.” Rewards include books (of course!), writing critiques, and the LOL Cat Reward.

Nocturnall by Beth Bernobich

Quiet Moments in Epic Fantasy

EPIC, adj.: Vast in scope. Grand and heroic.

I love epic fantasy. I love the drum roll of its vast armies, the crescendo when kingdom battles kingdom for the fate of the world. I love its thousand­-voice chorus of political intrigue, secret agendas, of heroes and heroines. I love its quests and sweeping drama of events writ large. It’s the 1812 Overture with extra cannons.

But you know what else? I love the quiet moments in epic fantasy too.

In between the explosions, I want to catch my breath, to absorb what all that action means for the characters. Most important, I need to connect with individual people, and not nations.

The epic story needs this contrast or all those cannons are just noise.

Tolkien knew all about quiet moments. The Lord of the Rings is stuffed with heroes and battles and a quest to save the world. But Tolkien chose to make his hobbits the central characters, and hobbits are all about the quiet and the ordinary. One of my favorite scenes in The Two Towers comes in the chapter “The Road to Isengard.” Gandalf, Aragorn, and company are riding into Isengard, having just fought the Battle of Helms Deep…

…and suddenly they were aware of two small figures lying at their ease, grey-­clad, hardly to be seen among the stones. There were bottles and bowls and platters laid beside them, as if they had just eaten well, and now rested from their labour. One seemed asleep; the other, with crossed legs and arms behind his head, leaned back against a broken rock and sent from his mouth long wisps and little rings of thin blue smoke.

It’s unexpected. It’s humorous. And it’s deeply emotional because here in this quiet moment, the long-­separated friends are reunited. This is the epic made personal.

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien Alamut by Judith Tarr

Those quiet moments are not the relic of an older era. Judith Tarr’s Alamut is set in the times of the Crusades, with all the swords and assassins and grand events you expect from epic fantasy. There are also luminous moments of the personal, both for the men and women in this story.

Here’s one interlude that hooked me:

Odd how one could feel a presence, even without sun to cast a shadow, even without step on stone. She stiffened, but she would not turn. In the three days since he came, she had not seen him…

…It fixed her eyes on the fish. Even when a hand filled itself from her bowl, and cast as she had cast, rousing them to a new dance. For him they leaped high, even into the air, as if they would fill his hands with their living gold. Even they knew what he was.

A quiet moment, an ordinary one, with two people feeding fish in the fountain, but one with layers upon layers of emotion that a battle scene cannot provide. (And OMG, everyone should go out and buy every one of this woman’s books. Really.)

Then there’s Harry Connolly’s epic fantasy trilogy, The Great Way, which had the working title of Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts. He’s not kidding. The first book starts with monsters invading through a magic portal. The world ends, then things get worse.

But “no dull parts” doesn’t mean the books are all cannons and monsters. After six chapters of death and mayhem, the main characters gain a temporary respite and look back over the city they escaped:

“Lost,” Doctor Warpoole suddenly said. Her voice was full of sorrow, but her expression was blank and deadly. “Peradain, the Morning City, and everything we were trying to build there….All lost.”

One of the protagonists, Tejohn, realizes that Warpoole meant more than things lost. They had, all of them, lost children, friends, spouses…people. And he goes on to remember the people, grand and ordinary alike, whom he had encountered that morning, and who were now dead. That is where my heart breaks, that is where I engage with the story of people, as well as their epic struggle to survive.

The Way Into Chaos by Harry Connolly The Hidden City by Michelle West

Sometimes the quiet interlude is much (much) longer than a scene. Michelle Sagara West’s series The Sun Sword is a grand and sweeping epic fantasy, with armies marching to battle and the fate of kingdoms at stake. The she wrote a second series, The House Wars, with events that overlap the first. The first book, The Hidden City, starts with the small and the personal, with an orphan girl and the man who gives her shelter. The child Jewel’s goals are also small and personal. Pay her debts. Feed and shelter other orphans. Rescue the ones she sees in her nightmares. West doesn’t hurry her characters, so we readers have a chance to walk alongside Jewel as she takes these first steps on her journey into the epic.

Epic fantasy is grand. The best epic fantasy knows when to set aside the drums and cymbals and play a quiet measure.

River of Souls by Beth Bernobich

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Beth Bernobich is the author of the epic fantasy trilogy, River of Souls, from Tor Books. Her latest book is The Time Roads, an alternate history about mathematics, murder, and time. You can read more about her on her website: http://www.beth-bernobich.com.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration (often 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.

I’m doing some catching up this week since I ended up unexpectedly busy most of last weekend. This post includes last week’s books as well as this week’s.

One book showed up in the last week that I’ve already talked about. Here it is in case you missed it:

On to the rest of the books!

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: July 7 (Hardcover, Ebook, Audiobook)

Kim Stanley Robinson is both a New York Times bestselling and award-winning author whose works have won Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. The Mars Trilogy, which contains books that have each won at least one of these awards, is being adapted for television.


A major new novel from one of science fiction’s most powerful voices, AURORA tells the incredible story of our first voyage beyond the solar system.

Brilliantly imagined and beautifully told, it is the work of a writer at the height of his powers.

Our voyage from Earth began generations ago.

Now, we approach our destination.

A new home.


Artemis Invaded by Jane Lindskold

Artemis Invaded (Artemis Awakening #2) by Jane Lindskold

Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: June 30 (Hardcover, Ebook)

Previous Book in the Series:

  1. Artemis Awakening (Read an Excerpt)

Jane Lindskold is a New York Times bestselling author. Her work includes The Firekeeper Saga beginning with Through Wolf’s Eyes, Thirteen Orphans, Child of a Rainless Year, and more.


In Artemis Invaded, Jane Lindskold returns to the world of Artemis, a pleasure planet that was lost for millennia, a place that holds secrets that could give mankind back unimaginable powers.

Stranded archaeologist Griffin is determined to make his way back to his home world with news of the Artemis discovery. He and his gene-modified native companion, the huntress Adara, and her psyche-linked puma Sand Shadow, set out to find another repository of the ancient technology in the hope that somehow Griffin will be able to contact his orbiting ship.

In the midst of this, Adara wrestles with her complex feelings for Griffin–and with the consequences of her and Sand Shadow’s new bond with the planet Artemis. Focused on his own goals, Griffin is unaware that his arrival on Artemis has created unexpected consequences for those he is coming to hold dear.  Unwittingly, he has left a trail–and Artemis is about to be invaded.

The Crow of Connemara by Stephen Leigh

The Crow of Connemara by Stephen Leigh

Genre: Fantasy (Contemporary)
Release Date: March 3 (Hardcover, Ebook)

Read an Excerpt

Stephen Leigh, who also writes as S. L. Farrell, is the author of Immortal Muse, the Hoorka trilogy beginning with Slow Fall to Dawn, and more. He has also contributed to some of the Wild Cards books edited by George R. R. Martin.


The Crow of Connemara is a contemporary Celtic fantasy set primarily in Ireland.  Picking up threads from ancient Irish mythology and folktales, this story is fantasy, drama, and tragic romance all at once, a tale caught in the dark places where the world of ancient myth intersects our own, where old ways and old beliefs struggle not to be overwhelmed by the modern world.

Colin Doyle is young Irish-American musician from Chicago, whose interest is traditional Irish music.  Maeve Gallagher is an Oileánach, an “Islander” from Ireland’s west coast. Islanders are outcasts treated with suspicion by the locals, who think them responsible for wild and strange happenings in the area. Colin soon discovers that he’s connected to Maeve in ways he never could have imagined.

Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler

Jinn and Juice (The Jinni #1) by Nicole Peeler

Genre: Fantasy (Urban)
Release Date: April 7 (Paperback); Ebook and Audiobook Available Now

Read an Excerpt

Nicole Peeler is also the author of the Jane True series beginning with Tempest Rising.


Cursed to be a jinni for a thousand years, Leila nears the end of her servitude—only to be bound once again against her will. Will she risk all to be human?

Born in ancient Persia, Leila turned to her house Jinni, Kouros, for help escaping an arranged marriage. Kouros did make it impossible for her to marry—by cursing Leila to live a thousand years as a Jinni herself.

If she can remain unBound, Leila’s curse will soon be over. But Ozan Sawyer, a Magi with the ability to See, Call, and Bind jinn has other plans. Oz needs Leila to help him penetrate Pittsburgh’s steel-soaked magic, a juice potent but poisonous to supernatural creatures, in order to find a missing girl with her own mysterious connection to Kouros. Unfortunately for Leila, becoming Bound to Oz may risk more than just her chance to be human once more—it could risk her very soul…

Jinn and Juice is the first in a new series by fantasy writer, Nicole Peeler, set in a world of immortal curses, powerful jinni and belly dancing.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration (often 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.

Before I get to this week’s book, a couple of reminders:

There’s still time to enter to win a copy of Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega #1) by Patricia Briggs (US only). The fourth book in the series, Dead Heat, releases next week.

Courtney Schafer shared four concluding volumes that she thought were the best book in the entire series last week. I now want to read all the books she mentioned that I haven’t read yet!

On to this week’s book.

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

Vision in Silver (The Others #3) by Anne Bishop

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: March 3 (Hardcover, Ebook, Audiobook)

Read an Excerpt
View Upcoming Book Events (including five with Patricia Briggs for the release of Dead Heat!)

Previous Books in the Others Series (with at least two more to come):

  1. Written in Red (Read an Excerpt)
  2. Murder of Crows

New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop has also written the Black Jewels series. I’ve heard good things about both series, and Written in Red was actually on my wish list after reading Angie’s review at Dear Author so now I might have to order it…


The Others freed the  cassandra sangue  to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep…

Today I’m delighted to welcome Courtney Schafer back to the blog! Her debut novel, The Whitefire Crossing, was quite enjoyable, and her second book, The Tainted City, was even better with its deeper exploration of the world and characters—and the way it kept me turning the pages! I loved this book, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating the conclusion to Dev and Kiran’s story, The Labyrinth of Flame. That’s why I’m so glad there is currently a Kickstarter in progress for the third book after the publisher of the first two faced some financial difficulties. Enough money has been raised that the recently-written book will be edited and completed, but it still hasn’t met the first stretch goal and there are some great rewards such as the book (of course!), the entire trilogy, manuscript critiques, climbing lessons, ice skating lessons, and much more!

The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer

Endings are hard. It’s difficult enough to bring a single book to a satisfying close, but when you’re finishing a series? Pulling together multiple books’ worth of plot threads and character arcs into a finale that fulfills or even exceeds readers’ expectations is one heck of an authorial achievement.

This has been much on my mind recently as I worked on revising the final chapters of The Labyrinth of Flame, the conclusion to my Shattered Sigil trilogy. It can be paralyzing to worry about reader expectations; when I’m working on a manuscript I prefer to pretend nobody will read the book but me, so I can focus on writing a novel that I personally love and find satisfying. To that end, I spent a lot of time pondering all my favorite series endings and why they worked so well for me, compared to others that didn’t.

So when a few days ago I heard a friend bemoaning the lack of SF and fantasy series with good endings, I was ready to jump in with suggestions. But in the course of that discussion, my friend brought up an even more interesting question: how many series had I read in which the ending was not only satisfying, but the final book was my favorite of the set?

I had to admit that narrowed my list quite a bit. Even the most well-crafted of resolutions is a closing off of possibilities; you lose the fun of speculating over mysteries and character arcs in progress. Plus, the more I love a set of characters, the more I hate to say farewell.

Yet there are some authors who pull off a final book so awesome that it easily overcomes these handicaps.   Today I want to share a few such books with you, because now I’ve finished my own trilogy I understand just how much a great ending deserves to be celebrated. (I don’t yet know what readers will think of my own ending, but I take comfort that I love The Labyrinth of Flame with a deep and abiding passion!) If you have more excellent endings to recommend, I hope you’ll share them in the comments.

A Tapestry of Lions by Jennifer Roberson

Jennifer Roberson’s A Tapestry of Lions (final book of the Chronicles of the Cheysuli)

This is book eight of the series. BOOK EIGHT. Which makes it all the more impressive that Roberson ends on such a strong note.   I think the final book works so well for me because Roberson isn’t afraid to change things up. Each Cheysuli novel features a different protagonist (often the son or daughter of the previous book’s POV character), but most of the heros and heroines of previous novels shared a sense of duty toward the Cheysuli nation and a pride in their magical heritage. In this last book, Roberson gives us a protagonist who does his level best to reject his birthright, and not in the lip-service way seen in so many fantasy heroes: “Oh, how I wish I did not have the burden of being the Chosen one! But because I am a good person, I will shoulder that burden anyway despite my angst.” Kellin destroys his relationships with friends and family, makes choices that result in terrible consequences, and Roberson doesn’t shy away from any of the pain of that, or sugar-coat his bitterness and selfishness. Instead she makes him change and grow in a way that’s both believable and tied directly into the plot; it’s Kellin’s stubborn rejection of his family’s beliefs that gives him the strength to overcome prejudice and forge a peace with his people’s greatest enemies. I liked the previous books in the series, but it’s this one that I love.

The Tower Broken by Mazarkis Williams

Mazarkis Williams’s The Tower Broken (final book of the Tower and Knife trilogy)

Adding significant POV characters late in a series is always a risk. Readers may resent what they perceive as time taken away from the characters they already care about, or the author may struggle with story bloat brought on by the need to give the new character an equally compelling arc. The Tower Broken is a wonderful example of how to do a new POV right. I loved the addition of Farid, a fruit seller who in the wake of a tragedy discovers he possesses a magical talent that both sides of a conflict wish to exploit. Not only is Farid an interesting character in his own right, but Williams uses him to give us insight into the two fascinating types of magic present in the series (pattern magic and elemental magic) while still keeping the overall plot tight and well-paced. Farid and the beautifully written scenes of magic aren’t the only reason I love this third book best; I also loved where Williams took certain other characters, and how their relationships evolved. The second book in the series was very bleak, but in this one, hope returns, and for me that clinched its place as my favorite of the series.

The Summer Queen by Joan D. Vinge

Joan Vinge’s The Summer Queen (final book of the Snow Queen cycle)

Vinge won a Hugo for the first book in the series, The Snow Queen, but I’ve always felt The Summer Queen deserved it even more. Vinge builds upon The Snow Queen and sequel World’s End in all the best ways: The Summer Queen’s plot is more intricate, the characters deeper, the world and themes more expansive. Plus, Vinge adds a terrific antagonist character who’s sympathetic to the point I found myself desperately hoping his arc wouldn’t end in tragedy. (I won’t spoil anything, but suffice it to say I thought his plotline was one of the best in the book.) C.J. Cherryh’s Cyteen still wins out for my favorite science fiction novel of all time, but The Summer Queen is my favorite science fiction ending.

Restoration by Carol Berg

Carol Berg’s Restoration (final book of the Rai-Kirah trilogy)

I’m aware I’m in the minority on this one. Many fans love the first book Transformation best, citing the developing respect and friendship between slave protagonist Seyonne and his owner Prince Aleksander. I suspect my opinion is different because I read the series out of order. Back in the days I got my new reads exclusively from my local library, I learned to start series mid-course if the first book was checked out (patience isn’t one of my strong suits). I picked up the second Rai-Kirah book, Revelation, off the new release shelf because of its snowy mountain cover and I plunged right in. So it was Seyonne and his attempt to unravel the mystery of demons that caught my interest first, not his relationship with Aleksander (who plays a smaller role in the latter two novels). I love the way Berg first expands and then resolves the demon plot in the third book, and I love Seyonne’s struggle to hold onto his humanity.   I suppose it goes to show how much our expectations of character and story are formed by the first novel we read of a series, and how much influence that holds over our experience of the tale as a whole.

About The Labyrinth of Flame:

Dev’s never been a man afraid of a challenge. Not only has he kept his vow to his dead mentor, rescuing a child in the face of impossible odds, but he’s freed his mage friend Kiran from both the sadistic master who seeks to enslave him and the foreign Council that wants to kill him.

But Kiran’s master Ruslan is planning a brutal revenge, one that will raze an entire country to blood and ashes. Kiran is the key to stopping Ruslan; yet Kiran is dying by inches, victim of the Alathian Council’s attempt to chain him. Worse yet, Dev and Kiran have drawn the attention of demons from the darkest of ancient legends. Demons whose power Dev knows is all too real, and that he has every reason to fear.

A fear that grows, as he and Kiran struggle to outmaneuver Ruslan and uncover the secrets locked in Kiran’s forgotten childhood. For the demons are playing their own deadly game – and the price of survival may be too terrible to bear.

Read an Excerpt: Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three

New to the series? Read the first six chapters of The Whitefire Crossing!

Courtney Schafer

About Courtney Schafer:
Courtney Schafer is the author of the Shattered Sigil series: The Whitefire Crossing, The Tainted City, and The Labyrinth of Flame.  When not writing, she climbs mountains, figure skates, works as an engineer in the space industry, and chases after her insanely active young son. Visit her at courtney-schafer.blogspot.com or www.courtneyschafer.com.