The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature in which I highlight books I got over the last week that sound 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.

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Last week brought an ebook I’m rather excited about—after all, it was featured as one of my anticipated 2024 speculative fiction book releases.

In case you missed it last week, I posted a review of The Serpent & the Wings of Night by Carissa Broadbent. This was a bit of a frustrating book for me because I loved the beginning, thought the ending was intriguing, and enjoyed the father/daughter relationship, but was underwhelmed by everything else (especially the dull trials and the central relationship in this fantasy romance, which were rather rushed).

On to the latest book, which sounds amazing!

Cover of The Mountain Crown by Karin Lowachee

The Mountain Crown (The Crowns of Ishia #1) by Karin Lowachee

The Mountain Crown, the first book in a trilogy of fantasy novellas with dragons, will be published on October 8 (trade paperback, ebook).

In an interview about her upcoming novella on Transfer Orbit, Karin Lowachee discussed colonialism, dragons, her growth as a writer, and more. I love so much of what she said here, especially about why she writes and what hasn’t changed for her as a writer, and here’s a bit about what she wanted to do with this particular novella:

Specifically with The Mountain Crown, I wanted to write a woman who is grounded in her spirituality, who is contained, who is purposeful in her movements, who outsiders might consider stoic, who is capable without being flashy, who (Western) readers might consider passive as if it’s a fault (it isn’t). I wanted to write about her culture that seeks other avenues besides war, that is connected to nature on an atomic level in a conscious way. I wanted this story to unfold in its own way, with a character who wasn’t pushing to be pigeonholed as a specific type of personality. I think my focus on these aspects of both character and story are because I’ve become interested in narratives that explore people and ways of living that aren’t the commonly considered Western narratives of “active” protagonists and constant “action” to drive a plot.

I’m particularly excited about this book because Karin Lowachee’s Warchild Mosaic is my favorite science fiction series. As I wrote in a post highlighting it during this year’s Women in SF&F Month, “Karin Lowachee has the gift of creating characters that are more complex, flawed, compelling, and real than most fictional people.”


An epic dragon-rider quest where Empress of Salt and Fortune meets Temeraire

Méka must capture a king dragon, or die trying.

War between the island states of Kattaka and Mazemoor has left no one unscathed. Méka’s nomadic people, the Ba’Suon, were driven from their homeland by the Kattakans. Those who remained were forced to live under the Kattakan yoke, to serve their greed for gold alongside the dragons with whom the Ba’Suon share an empathic connection.

A decade later and under a fragile truce, Méka returns home from her exile for an ancient, necessary rite: gathering a king dragon of the Crown Mountains to maintain balance in the wild country. But Méka’s act of compassion toward an imprisoned dragon and Lilley, a Kattakan veteran of the war, soon draws the ire of the imperialistic authorities. They order the unwelcome addition of an enigmatic Ba’Suon traitor named Raka to accompany Méka and Lilley to the mountains.

The journey is filled with dangers both within and without. As conflict threatens to reignite, the survival of the Ba’Suon people, their dragons, and the land itself will depend on the decisions – defiant or compliant – that Méka and her companions choose to make. But not even Méka, kin to the great dragons of the North, can anticipate the depth of the consequences to her world.