The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature in which I highlight books I got over the last week that sound like they may be interesting—old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration. 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, along with series information and the publisher’s book description. Cover images are affiliate links to Bookshop, and I earn from qualifying purchases.

Last week brought one book in the mail that I’m very excited about! First, here’s last week’s post in case you missed it:

  • Review of The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Liu — This is a great collection containing six short stories and one novella, as well as brief commentary on each and an introduction by the author. Though it contains different subgenres and settings, there are some common themes and elements that crop out throughout these stories, and I really enjoyed and appreciated every single one of them.

Now for the latest book!

The Thousand Eyes by A. K. Larkwood - Book Cover

The Thousand Eyes (The Serpent Gates #2) by A. K. Larkwood

The Unspoken Name won the r/Fantasy Stabby Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for a Locus Award in the same category. Its sequel will be released on February 15 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

The Tor/Forge Blog has an excerpt from The Thousand Eyes, and has an excerpt from The Unspoken Name.

I’ve been excited about The Thousand Eyes for a while, and it appeared on my 30 Anticipated 2022 Speculative Fiction Book Releases list since The Unspoken Name was one of my favorite books of 2020:

The Unspoken Name drew me in immediately with its atmospheric depiction of life in the Shrine of the Unspoken One, and the different worlds explored via Gate-travel and the sweet romance that developed between the orc and a priestess were also highlights. But my favorite parts of this novel were the interactions between characters—particularly the dynamic between the main character and another one serving the mage, who despise each other but are often forced to work together anyway—and the frequent entertaining line of dialogue or narrative.

If you want to learn more about why A. K. Larkwood decided to write a non-human protagonist in her debut novel, she discussed that in her 2020 Women in SF&F Month essay. (A German translation of the entire essay can be found on the FISCHER Tor website.)


The sequel to A. K. Larkwood’s stunning debut fantasy, The Unspoken NameThe Thousand Eyes continues The Serpent Gates series—perfect for fans of Jenn Lyons, Joe Abercrombie, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Just when they thought they were out…

Two years after defying the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and escaping into the great unknown, Csorwe and Shuthmili have made a new life for themselves, hunting for secrets among the ruins of an ancient snake empire.

Along for the ride is Tal Charossa, determined to leave the humiliation and heartbreak of his hometown far behind him, even if it means enduring the company of his old rival and her insufferable girlfriend.

All three of them would be quite happy never to see Sethennai again. But when a routine expedition goes off the rails and a terrifying imperial relic awakens, they find that a common enemy may be all it takes to bring them back into his orbit.