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.

Last week’s mail brought several books that sound quite interesting, and in case you missed it, my review of Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence also went up last week. It’s my favorite 2017 release so far with its compelling and unreliable main protagonist, plus it has other wonderful qualities and badass nuns!

Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra

Markswoman (Asiana #1) by Rati Mehrotra

This debut novel will be available on January 23, 2018 (trade paperback, ebook, audiobook).

Rati Mehrotra shared a little about the Asiana duology’s origins on her website:

Reading about Kali some years ago, an idea began to form in my head. What if there was a group of women devoted to her worship, women who wielded the power of life and death over others in a post-apocalyptic world? Thus was the Asiana cycle born.

This sounds rather intriguing, and the book description had me from the very beginning with “an order of magical-knife wielding female assassins.”


An order of magical-knife wielding female assassins brings both peace and chaos to their post-apocalyptic world in this bewitching blend of science fiction and epic fantasy—the first entry in a debut duology that displays the inventiveness of the works of Sarah Beth Durst and Marie Lu.

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, a highly trained sisterhood of elite warriors armed with telepathic blades. Guided by a strict code of conduct, Kyra and the other Orders are sworn to protect the people of Asiana. But to be a Markswoman, an acolyte must repudiate her former life completely. Kyra has pledged to do so, yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her dead family.

When Kyra’s beloved mentor dies in mysterious circumstances, and Tamsyn, the powerful, dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. Using one of the strange Transport Hubs that are remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past, she finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a young, disillusioned Marksman whom she soon befriends.

Kyra is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof. And if she fails to find it, fails in her quest to keep her beloved Order from following Tamsyn down a dark path, it could spell the beginning of the end for Kyra—and for Asiana.

But what she doesn’t realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is razor thin . . . thin as the blade of a knife.

The Two of Swords: Volume 1 by K. J. Parker The Two of Swords: Volume 2 by K. J. Parker The Two of Swords: Volume 3 by K. J. Parker

The Two of Swords (Volumes #1–3) by K. J. Parker

World Fantasy Awardwinning author K. J. Parker’s The Two of Swords, which was released digitally in serialized installments beginning in 2015, is being published in three books available in trade paperback and ebook. Volumes One and Two were released in October and November, respectively, and the concluding volume will be on sale on December 12 (Tuesday!).

The publisher’s website has an excerpt from The Two of Swords: Volume One.


“Why are we fighting this war? Because evil must be resisted, and sooner or later there comes a time when men of principle have to make a stand. Because war is good for business and it’s better to die on our feet than live on our knees. Because they started it. But at this stage in the proceedings,” he added, with a slightly lop-sided grin, “mostly from force of habit.”

A soldier with a gift for archery. A woman who kills without care. Two brothers, both unbeatable generals, now fighting for opposing armies. No one in the vast and once glorious United Empire remains untouched by the rift between East and West, and the war has been fought for as long as anyone can remember. Some still survive who know how it was started, but no one knows how it will end.

The Two of Swords is the story of a war on a grand scale, told through the eyes of its soldiers, politicians, victims and heroes.

The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer

The Will to Battle (Terra Ignota #3) by Ada Palmer

The third novel in the Terra Ignota quartet will be released on December 19 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The first novel in this science fiction series, Too Like the Lightning, won the Compton Crook Award and was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and Ada Palmer won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. has excerpts from the first two novels, and the Tor-Forge blog has an excerpt from the third:

  1. Too Like the Lightning
  2. Seven Surrenders
  3. The Will to Battle

The Will to Battlethe third book of 2017 John W. Campbell Award winner Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota seriesa political science fiction epic of extraordinary audacity

“A cornucopia of dazzling, sharp ideas set in rich, wry prose that rewards rumination with layers of delight. Provocative, erudite, inventive, resplendent.” ―Ken Liu, author of The Grace of Kings

The long years of near-utopia have come to an abrupt end.

Peace and order are now figments of the past. Corruption, deception, and insurgency hum within the once steadfast leadership of the Hives, nations without fixed location.

The heartbreaking truth is that for decades, even centuries, the leaders of the great Hives bought the world’s stability with a trickle of secret murders, mathematically planned. So that no faction could ever dominate. So that the balance held.

The Hives’ façade of solidity is the only hope they have for maintaining a semblance of order, for preventing the public from succumbing to the savagery and bloodlust of wars past. But as the great secret becomes more and more widely known, that facade is slipping away.

Just days earlier, the world was a pinnacle of human civilization. Now everyone―Hives and hiveless, Utopians and sensayers, emperors and the downtrodden, warriors and saints―scrambles to prepare for the seemingly inevitable war.

Seven Surrenders veers expertly between love, murder, mayhem, parenthood, theology, and high politics. I haven’t had this much fun with a book in a long time.” ―Max Gladstone, author of Three Parts Dead