Fantasy Firsts - Tor/Forge Blog

Immortal Women of Fantasy

Immortal Women of Fantasy

What would it be like to live forever? Would you see it as a blessing…or a curse? Some of our favorite women in fantasy wrestle with this question throughout the entirety of their immortal (or very long) lives. Check out some of our favorite long-lived women here, and let us know who you’d add to the list in the comments.

The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue by V.E. Schwab

Addie LaRue from The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever—and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world. But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name. Trade Paperback on Sale Now!

Image Place holder  of - 13Circe from Circe by Madeline Miller

Not unlike Addie LaRue, the Greek goddess Circe was also cursed to an eternity in a more literal exile. Cast out of the halls of her father Helios and forced to live alone on her island, she becomes more powerful than anyone could expect by using her own unique talent: witchcraft. Relegated to a few lines in Homer’s Odyssey, Madeline Miller re-invents the sorceress into a symbol of resilience, heartbreak, and, ultimately, humanity.

Image Placeholder of - 50Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien

The “Lady” of the woods of Lothlórien, Galadriel is one of the greatest Elves in Middle-earth and the bearer of Nenya, one of the three Elven rings of power. Beautiful and aloof, Galadriel is witness to some of the greatest battles of Middle-earth’s many ages and still manages to surprise herself after long centuries of life by supporting the Fellowship on their quest and facing and rejecting the seductive evil of The One Ring.

Poster Placeholder of - 11Claudia from Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Trapped in the body of a five-year-old girl, Claudia, the adopted vampire “daughter” of vampire power couple, Louis and Lestat, has an innocent appearance that belies her bloodthirst and the blessing of immortality comes with a curse of not being able to survive on her own without an adult companion, making her perhaps the loneliest and most vulnerable of this central family.

Placeholder of  -40Yennefer from The Witcher saga by Andrzej Sapkows

Sorceress Yennefer of Vengerberg is one of the main characters and the love interest of protagonist Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher saga. One of the most powerful mages in the series, Yennefer is known for her beauty, chaotic neutral tendencies, and hot temper. By way of her magic, Yennefer is able to live for an indefinitely long period of time, but at the cost of her fertility, a fact that haunts her throughout the series.


Start a Discussion With the Book of Night Reading Group Guide!

Start a Discussion With the Book of Night Reading Group Guide!

Image Placeholder of - 26Ready to read New York Times bestseller Book of Night by Holly Black and talk about it with all your friends?

We thought we’d help you out by making this handy reading guide so you can talk through all your Book of Night thoughts with your friends, family, and book club. Check it out here!

“A delicious, dark, adrenaline rush of a book. I’m already dying to see Charlie Hall’s next con.” – New York Times bestselling author, Alix E. Harrow

#1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black makes her stunning adult debut with Book of Night, a modern dark fantasy of betrayals, secret societies, and a dissolute thief of shadows, in the vein of Neil Gaiman and Erin Morgenstern.

Charlie Hall has never found a lock she couldn’t pick, a book she couldn’t steal, or a bad decision she wouldn’t make.

She’s spent half her life working for gloamists, magicians who manipulate shadows to peer into locked rooms, strangle people in their beds, or worse. Gloamists guard their secrets greedily, creating an underground economy of grimoires. And to rob their fellow magicians, they need Charlie Hall.

Now, she’s trying to distance herself from past mistakes, but getting out isn’t easy. Bartending at a dive, she’s still entirely too close to the corrupt underbelly of the Berkshires. Not to mention that her sister Posey is desperate for magic, and that Charlie’s shadowless, and possibly soulless, boyfriend has been hiding things from her. When a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie descends into a maelstrom of murder and lies.

Determined to survive, she’s up against a cast of doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, gloamists, and the people she loves best in the world—all trying to steal a secret that will give them vast and terrible power.

Get your book club discussion started with our reading group guide below!

Book of Night_Reading Group Guide PRINT

Order a Copy of Book of Night — Available Now!

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A Look Back on the Writing the Chimera Adventures with Cate Glass

A Look Back on the Writing the Chimera Adventures with Cate Glass

Image Place holder  of - 8The Chimera series by Cate Glass has officially come to a close, but we’re continuing the adventure with a very special look back at the series with author Cate Glass! Check out her guest post as she talks about writing the series, developing the story, and more.

By Cate Glass

There was a time when I believed that the idea for a novel must spring forth fully formed like Athena from the head of Zeus. Of, course, that was before I ever wrote any novels and didn’t even imagine that I could.

After birthing a few, I believed my best stories always grew from a particular kind of trope-whacking on my part: a handsome, heroic figure who was wholly unworthy of the great destiny awaiting him; or a uniquely skilled magical warrior who was a pacifist by nature; or a mature woman who was not only not an ingénue princess-in-waiting, but a bitter exile who believed her heart dead. I would envision that person in an interesting situation, flesh out just enough of an interesting world to house that situation, and start writing to see where the idea took me.

I call myself an organic story developer. Once I confront my sketched characters with the action of the first scene, I begin to figure out who they really are and why they react as they do, and how I might make him or her or the world or the situation more interesting, deciding what follows logically. The story that may have begun as a standalone idea develops into three books. Another one morphs into two books and eventually into another parallel pair.

The Chimera stories had their origin in my desire to do something a little different. I wanted to build a framework that could house a flexible number of shorter tales. At about the same time, I had a chance encounter with an old TV series. (The series later morphed into a series of Tom Cruise action movies, which are not at all the same thing.)

Every episode of the series was centered on some snarl of political or international evildoing that the Secretary wished to be stopped, but could not afford to be publically involved in. The little group who took on these missions were not spies or secret agents, but people with specific talents that made them able to adapt to a wide variety of situations. We knew little or nothing about these players’ backgrounds or their lives beyond the missions or what they thought about it as it unfolded. (I did not like that aspect!) The pleasure arose watching them create an alternate reality in order to hornswoggle the villains of the week. Tension was always high, because the alternate reality could fall apart at any moment.

So, then I thought: What if these specific talents were magical…and what if the world was the kind to breed nefarious plots…conflicts of politics and myth and burgeoning scholarship…maybe something similar to the Italian Renaissance? Thus was the Costa Drago born and its independent city of Cantagna.

It was great fun to review caper and heist adventures, from The Scarlet Pimpernel to Leverage, from The Great Train Robbery to The Three Musketeers to Burn Notice, and assemble a list of skills that make such undercover schemes work: impersonation, martial arts, escapes, technology, and intelligence about people, culture, languages, economics.

Thus, instead of deriving one central character from sheer inspiration, I went looking for four operatives:

  • An expensive, well-educated courtesan
  • A professional duelist
  • A silversmith/artist
  • And a teenaged thief, because without D’Artagnan, the Musketeers would have far less spark.

Each player possessed a particular variety of magic and life experience that encompassed the skills I wanted. But use of magic was dangerous…forbidden. The world’s mythology would explain why.

But where to start writing? Always before, I knew what would be my opening scene. The day the unworthy hero bought the slave who would tell his story. The day the bitter woman met someone who forced her to engage with life again.

Because I disliked Mission: Impossible’s shallow characters, I wanted to get to know my four before getting them together on a mission. So, I wrote the tale of how Romy, my courtesan, lost her position at the side of the most powerful man in Cantagna, the Shadow Lord, and was returned to impoverished streets. The Shadow Lord—the Godfather, one might say—could be a source for the kind of missions I had in mind. But before Romy could become the Chimera, she had to deal with a teenaged thief, her own angry, rebellious brother, and they had to meet the duelist and the smith. Once I engaged them in a nefarious scheme—their first mission—I had a novel’s worth of story. Voila! An Illusion of Thieves. A little different than I expected.

Book 2 must give each of the four a chance to explore and use their particular magical talents, because in a world where you have to hide what you are, there hasn’t been much opportunity to do so. And so was born A Conjuring of Assassins. Assassination…impersonation…thievery…tunnels under the city that hid secrets. A political cabal. And just because it was that kind of sultry night walking beside the slow-moving River Venia, Romy rescues a half-drowned stranger from the river. He has interesting talents. Who is he?

I am a fantasy writer, after all, and if I’ve invented a mythology, I have to decide whether the stories it tells are true or not. Indeed, I discovered a connection between the half-drowned stranger, the mythology, and the activities of the villainous society known as the Philosophic Confraternity who had enforced the extermination of magic users for centuries. And so, the simple mission of breaking up a marriage that could upend the political balance in Cantagna became twisted into a revelation about the truth of the myth…and there was A Summoning of Demons.

My three books became, not just three distinct episodes in a framework, but an integrated whole. Organic! I’m delighted that readers can accompany my four new best friends through their adventures

Cate Glass is the author of the Chimera series. An Illusion of Thieves, A Conjuring of Assassinsand A Summoning of Demons are all available in stores now. 

Buy An Illusion of Thieves Here:

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The Walter Whites of Fantasy

The Walter Whites of Fantasy

Some fantasy protagonists aren’t in the hero business, they’re in the EMPIRE business.

AMC’s Breaking Bad set the gold standard for protagonist turned antagonist with Walter White, the dopey science teacher turned criminal mastermind slash violent drug lord (which I’m pretty sure is what his business card said, or would say, if criminal masterminds slash violent drug lords had business cards).

But the fantasy genre has plenty of Walter Whites as well. Though they may not run a meth lab out of the back of an RV, they’ve betrayed just as many of their closest friends, and caused just as many explosions. Here’s a run-down of some of our favorites, who either turned from good/neutral to evil throughout a book series, or villains who were revealed to have gone through such a transformation before the main story started (Walter Whites of their own narratives).

As you can imagine, this post will have some mild spoilers, but we’ve done our best to keep them as light as possible. Unlike these characters’ misdeeds.

By Julia Bergen

Placeholder of  -31Baru Cormorant, from The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

Baru starts out even more innocent than Walter White did, and though the series isn’t finished yet, she’s well on her way to becoming even more brutal. The series begins with Baru as a happy child who has faced little adversity, living in a picturesque sea-side village with her mother and two fathers. When an empire shows up, kills one of her fathers, and starts a harsh rule that outlaws the most important parts of Bau’s life, she vows to rise up within the empire’s ranks and bring them down from within. What sets Baru apart from most fantasy characters with this same goal is that she is forced to do some truly awful things and changes as a person because of them. By the time this series is over, it seems likely she will have no problem busting out the ricin poison.

Image Placeholder of - 64Daenerys Targaryen, from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

To be fair, I’m basing this from the TV series since the book series hasn’t finished Daenery’s story, but even in the books you can start to see Martin setting Daenerys up to go full Walter White. Getting what you want by fire and blood doesn’t generally end in a tea party. Daenerys starts out as a teenage girl living in exile, married off for political reasons, who just wants to live a safe, happy life. Throughout the events of the books, we see her come into her own power, first becoming the leader of a Dothraki army, then queen of the city of Meereen. Along the way she executes many, often using her dragons, and though her victims generally deserve it, it’s easy to see how burning people alive when necessary could get out of hand fast. If Daenerys thought letting someone choke on their own vomit would be for the greater good, she would totally do it.

Image Place holder  of - 84Holland Vosijk, from the Shades of Magic series by V. E. Schwab

Oh, Holland. He’s had such a hard life. He starts out as the main antagonist of A Darker Shade of Magic, but throughout the trilogy we learn so much more about his backstory, and how his actions were not always within his control. As the series goes on, details of Holland’s life before his ill-fated meeting with the Dane siblings reveal that he used to be optimistic and kind-hearted, even on the cruel streets of White London. He does get something of a redemption, but that just makes him even more like Walter White (if you accept that the last few episodes weren’t a dream). Still, he does a lot of genuinely evil things, and happily lets other people die if it means getting what he wants.

Place holder  of - 49The Lord Ruler, from the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

When we meet The Lord Ruler he’s in his final Walter White mega-evil phase. He’s a brutal king, using harsh punishments to prop up the noble houses and keep everyone else destitute. However, throughout the series it turns out that some of the things The Lord Ruler had done had actually been part of a much larger conflict between forces older than history. And he hadn’t always been a vicious dictator. At the beginning, he had wanted to save the world, but that came at a price he couldn’t imagine. The Lord Ruler may have actually been more vicious than Walter White, though part of that was supernatural forces upping his evil quotient.

Poster Placeholder of - 33The King in Red, from The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone

The King in Red definitely paints a more evil image than Walter White – it’s hard to imagine something more menacing than a skeleton in a red cloak, especially one with the ability to create a dragon fueled by the souls of his debtors, even if Bryan Cranston did master the evil glare. The King in Red wasn’t always a heartless overlord, though. The books heavily imply that once he was just a powerful craftsman in loving relationship. It wasn’t until the gods killed his boyfriend that he became obsessed with destroying them, and then once that was basically fully accomplished, ruling in their place. The King in Red would definitely agree that he’s in the empire business.


The Frightening Fae of Fiction

The Frightening Fae of Fiction

The Frightening Fae of Fiction

Many of us are used to seeing fairies in a very specific light-beautiful, magical, and most importantly, benevolent. But not every fairy is quite so…nice. In the dark debut You Let Me In from Camilla Bruce, readers see the Fair Folk in a very different light. Check out our list of the most frightening fae in literature below!

Placeholder of  -2You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce

Cassandra Tipp is dead…or is she?

Cassandra Tipp has left behind no body—just her massive fortune, and one final manuscript. Then again, there are enough bodies in her past—her husband Tommy Tipp, whose mysterious disembowelment has never been solved, and a few years later, the shocking murder-suicide of her father and brother.

Cassandra Tipp will tell you a story—but it will come with a terrible price. What really happened, out there in the woods—and who has Cassie been protecting all along? Read on, if you dare…


Image Place holder  of - 87The Stolen: An American Faerie Tale by Bishop O’Connell

When her daughter Fiona is snatched from her bed, Caitlin’s entire world crumbles. Once certain that faeries were only a fantasy, Caitlin must now accept that these supernatural creatures do exist—and that they have traded in their ancient swords and horses for modern guns and sports cars. Hopelessly outmatched, she accepts help from a trio of unlikely heroes: Eddy, a psychiatrist and novice wizard; Brendan, an outcast Fian warrior; and Dante, a Magister of the fae’s Rogue Court. Moving from the busy streets of Boston’s suburbs to the shadowy land of Tír na nÓg, Caitlin and her allies will risk everything to save Fiona. But can this disparate quartet conquer their own inner demons and outwit the dark faeries before it’s too late?


Place holder  of - 81Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha’s joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift–by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.


Poster Placeholder of - 55The Changeling by Victor LaValle

When Apollo Kagwa’s father disappeared, he left his son a box of books and strange recurring dreams. Now Apollo is a father himself—and as he and his wife, Emma, settle into their new lives as parents, exhaustion and anxiety start to take their toll. Apollo’s old dreams return and Emma begins acting odd. At first Emma seems to be exhibiting signs of postpartum depression. But before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act and vanishes. Thus begins Apollo’s quest to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His odyssey takes him to a forgotten island, a graveyard full of secrets, a forest where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he had lost forever.


Image Placeholder of - 65Ironskin by Tina Connolly

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask. It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation”—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help. Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of a new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.


Never Contented Things by Sarah Porter

Bound by haunting tragedies, Ksenia Adderley and Joshua Korensky have shared a home as foster siblings since they were children. As teens, they’ve grown even closer. Some say unnaturally so. With Ksenia’s eighteenth birthday approaching, their guardians expect her to move out. They want to free Josh of his obsession with the foster-sister whom they regard as a strange, unhealthy influence. But they don’t understand the depths of Josh’s feelings for Ksenia and how desperate he is to ensure they stay together—forever.


Excerpt: The Midnight Front by David Mack

Excerpt: The Midnight Front by David Mack

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Placeholder of  -68 Welcome back to Fantasy Firsts. Our program continues today with an excerpt from The Midnight Front, a visionary World War II-era adventure from David Mack.

As World War Two rages, a secret army of sorcerers battle Nazis and demons.

On the eve of World War Two, Nazi sorcerers come gunning for Cade but kill his family instead. His one path of vengeance is to become an apprentice of The Midnight Front—the Allies’ top-secret magickal warfare program—and become a sorcerer himself.

Unsure who will kill him first—his allies, his enemies, or the demons he has to use to wield magick—Cade fights his way through occupied Europe and enemy lines. But he learns too late the true price of revenge will be more terrible than just the loss of his soul—and there’s no task harder than doing good with a power born of ultimate evil.

The Midnight Front will be available January 30th. Please enjoy this excerpt.

1: August

The night reeked of demons.

Their stench haunted every direction as Nando Cabral fled through wooded hills south of Lemberg, Germany, less than five miles from the French border. He lurched like a drunkard, one hand clamped over the gunshot wound in his left flank. Shafts of moonlight pierced the trees’ canopy. Blood pulsed against his palm with each step he took.

He glanced at his pursuers. Blurs of motion, twenty yards away and getting closer.

It was too dark to see their faces, but the young Spaniard knew who they were. He didn’t know how they’d found him, but it didn’t matter now. Only a handful of spirits were yoked to his bidding, just enough to afflict him with a constant headache. He didn’t have the minor legion he’d need to fight one fellow karcist, never mind two. All he could do now was run.

A spectral whip cracked, spitting green fire as it ripped bark from the trees to his left. The enemy was upon him. All hope of reaching France abandoned, Nando turned and steeled himself for battle. His foes moved like wraiths, over a dozen meters apart.

To split my focus, Nando reasoned. With a thought he dispatched two demons normally tasked with divination to be his sentries. Then he used another spirit’s gifts to make himself invisible—a delaying tactic at best, but every second mattered in magickal warfare.

His enemies were nowhere to be found—whispers lurking in the dark.

He silenced his steps with the talent of Aris, one of the Descending Hierarchy’s patrons of thievery. Though the ground was littered with dry twigs and debris, he skulked across it without leaving a trace or making a sound.

They must have seen me trailing their courier. Other than one moment on the streets of Stuttgart, he had been careful to stay out of sight and under the concealment of warding glyphs. Breaking cover to track the Thule Society’s messenger to his final destination had been a calculated risk—one that had earned Nando a bullet in his gut and the attention of the two enemies his master Adair had warned him to avoid at all costs.

He searched the night as he flanked his foes. They had caught him less than prepared for battle, but he wasn’t defenseless. The strongest spirit he held in yoke was Beleth, a king of Hell renowned for its love of destruction. Nando felt the fallen angel’s wings as if they were his own. He beat them twice, unleashing strokes of thunder that rent tree trunks into splinters. Shock waves coursed through the broken forest, churning up dust—

Twin bolts of violet lightning arced through the haze and struck Nando’s chest. They hit like a charging bull, launched him backward. He tumbled over roots and sharp rocks.

A sharp freezing pain in his chest stripped away his invisibility as he lost his mental hold on Glasya, which returned to the Abyss, the letter of its duty discharged. Nando pawed at the maggot-covered wound in his torso and realized he had been felled by the spear of Savnok, a marquis of Hell that delighted in spreading pestilence.

Movement, on his right. He lashed out with a demonic blade against which no armor could stand, only to see it deflected.

A darting form on his left. Nando made the trees his soldiers. Their limbs lashed out to seize a red-haired young woman. Within seconds she was snared, an oaken branch coiled around her throat and clamped over her mouth. Nando commanded the trees, Tear her—

A fireball swallowed him whole.

It was a strike from a demon’s firebrand. Nando filled the air with screams, but he couldn’t hear them over the roaring of hellfire.

When the last lick of flame died, he lay supine before his enemies. The woman, now free of the trees, stood tall. She radiated contempt, her copper mane so tousled as to look almost feral. If not for the malice in her blue eyes, Nando would have found her beautiful beyond compare.

Equally striking was her companion, a fair-haired man with chiseled features. Even after waging a duel in the forest, he looked immaculate. His shoes betrayed not a scuff, his tailored suit admitted not one wrinkle. If the warnings Nando had heard from his master Adair were true, the man before him had to be the Nazis’ top sorcerer, Kein Engel.

Kein regarded Nando with weary regret. “So much potential. What a waste.”

The woman made a fist of her right hand. “Let me finish him.”

“No, Briet. It needs to be me.” From beneath his black trench coat, which bore a swastika on its lapel, Kein drew an athamé, a black-handled knife used in ceremonial magick. He kneeled over Nando, whose ravaged body was racked with tremors. Leaning close, Kein dropped his voice to a confidential volume and spoke in perfect Spanish. “Training you and the other nikraim as karcists was clever. Your master Adair never used to exhibit such foresight.”

Nando wanted to spit in the dark magician’s face, but his mouth was as dry as cinders, and it took all his strength to speak. “You won’t beat us all.”

“I have already killed Adair’s other five like you. And when I find the last of your kind, the one that was hidden, this war will be over”—he stabbed the blade into Nando’s heart with a savage twist—“and a better future can begin.”

Copyright © 2018 by David Mack

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Fantasy Firsts Sweepstakes

Fantasy Firsts Sweepstakes

It’s November, which means we are entering the last month of our Fantasy Firsts program. We wanted to say thank you with a special sweepstakes, featuring ALL the titles we highlighted this past year. That’s 40 fantastic reads from 40 different series to add to your TBR stack! Plus, we’re including an added bonus: two sandblasted book dragon mugs, so you can enjoy your coffee or tea in style while you read.

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  1. ELIGIBILITY: The Fantasy Firsts Sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes“) is open only to persons who as of the date of entry (and, if a winner, as of the date of prize fulfillment) are a legal resident of the 50 United States, District of Columbia or Canada (excluding Quebec) and who are 13 years of age or older. We are sorry for the geographic restrictions, unfortunately it is required for various legal reasons. Persons who as of the date of entry (and, if a winner, as of the date of prize fulfillment) are an employee of Tom Doherty Associates (“Sponsor“) or any of Sponsor’s Affiliates (as defined in Section 5), and members of the immediate family or household (whether or not related) of any such employee, are not eligible. Eligibility determinations will be made by Sponsor in its discretion and will be final and binding. U.S. law governs this Sweepstakes. Void in Quebec and where prohibited by law.
  1. HOW TO ENTER: The entry period for the Sweepstakes begins at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 and continues through 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 19, 2017 (the “Entry Period“). No purchase is necessary. Any entrant who is under 18 years of age or otherwise under the legal age of majority in the jurisdiction in which the entrant resides (a “Minor“) must obtain permission to enter from his or her parent or legal guardian, and the agreement of the parent or legal guardian to these Official Rules, prior to entry. To enter the Sweepstakes, during the Entry Period, entrants must access, complete and submit the Sweepstakes entry form (which will require entrant to submit his or her e-mail address and such other information as Sponsor may require), found in entrant’s Facebook newsfeed or alternatively by visiting Sponsor’s website located at (the “Website”) and following the on screen entry instructions. The Facebook entry form may be pre-filled with information provided by the Facebook platform. There is a limit of one entry per person and per email address. All entries must be completed and received by Sponsor prior to the conclusion of the Entry Period. Entry times will be determined using Sponsor’s computer, which will be the official clock for the Sweepstakes. Normal time rates, if any, charged by the entrant’s Internet or mobile service provider will apply. All entries are subject to verification at any time. Proof of submission does not constitute proof of entry. Sponsor will have the right, in its discretion, to require proof of identity and/or eligibility in a form acceptable to Sponsor (including, without limitation, government-issued photo identification). Failure to provide such proof to the satisfaction of Sponsor in a timely manner may result in disqualification.
  1. WINNER SELECTION AND NOTIFICATION: Following the conclusion of the Entry Period, one (1) potential Grand Prize winner(s) will be selected in a random drawing conducted by Sponsor or its agent from among all eligible entries received during the Entry Period. The odds of winning will depend on the number of eligible entries received. The potential winner will be notified by e-mail (sent to the e-mail address provided by the entrant when entering), or using other contact information provided by the potential winner, in Sponsor’s discretion. If the initial notification requires a response, the potential winner must respond to Sponsor’s initial notification attempt within 72 hours. The potential winner is subject to verification of eligibility and may, in Sponsor’s discretion, be required to complete, sign and return to Sponsor an Affidavit of Eligibility/Release of Liability or an Affirmation of Eligibility/Release of Liability, as determined by Sponsor, and, if legally permissible, a Publicity Release, collectively, a “Declaration and Release” for residents of Canada) and any other documentation provided by Sponsor in connection with verification of the potential winner’s eligibility and confirmation of the releases and grant of rights set forth herein (as applicable, “Winner Verification Documents“), within seven days of attempted delivery of same. The potential winner if a U.S. resident may also in Sponsor’s discretion be required to complete and return to Sponsor an IRS Form W-9 within seven days of attempted delivery of same. If the potential winner is a Minor, Sponsor will have the right to request that the potential winner’s parent or legal guardian sign the Winner Verification Documents on behalf of the winner, or to award the prize directly in the name of the winner’s parent or legal guardian, who in such event will be required to sign the Winner Verification Documents and/or, if a U.S. resident, an IRS Form W-9. If the potential winner is a Canadian resident, he or she will be required to correctly answer a mathematical skill testing question without mechanical or other aid to be administered via telephone, email or another manner determined by Sponsor in its discretion at a pre-arranged mutually convenient time. If the potential winner cannot be reached or does not respond within 72 hours of the initial notification attempt or fails to complete, sign, and return any required Winner Verification Documents or, if a U.S. resident, IRS Form W-9 within seven days of attempted delivery of same, or in the case of a Canadian selected entrant, fails to correctly answer the mathematical skill testing question without mechanical or other aid, or if the potential winner does not otherwise comply with these Official Rules and/or cannot accept the prize as awarded for any reason, “then the potential winner may be disqualified and an alternate winner may, at Sponsor’s discretion, be selected from among the remaining eligible entries as specified in these Official Rules (in which case the foregoing provisions will apply to such newly-selected entrant).
  1. PRIZE: One (1) Grand Prize(s) will be offered. The Grand Prize consists of one (1) hardcover copy of THE GUNS ABOVE by Robyn Bennis, one (1) trade paperback copy of RED RIGHT HAND by Levi Black, one (1) hardcover copy of ROAR by Cora Carmack, one (1) hardcover copy of THE ALCHEMY OF MASQUES AND MIRRORS by Curtis Craddock, one (1) hardcover copy of CHILD OF A HIDDEN SEA by A.M. Dellamonica, one (1) trade paperback copy of TRUTHWITCH by Susan Dennard, one (1) hardcover copy of CROSSROADS OF CANOPY by Thoraiya Dyer, one (1) hardcover copy of DEATH’S MISTRESS by Terry Goodkind, one (1) hardcover copy of STEEPLEJACK by A.J. Hartley, one (1) hardcover copy of DEADMEN WALKING by Sherrilyn Kenyon, one (1) hardcover copy of EVERY HEART A DOORWAY by Seanan McGuire, one (1) trade paperback copy of THE HUM AND THE SHIVER by Alex Bledsoe, one (1) trade paperback copy of RANGE OF GHOSTS by Elizabeth Bear, one (1) trade paperback copy of A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS by Marie Brennan, one (1) trade paperback copy of SERIOUSLY WICKED by Tina Connolly, one (1) trade paperback copy of THE LIBRARIANS AND THE LOST LAMP by Greg Cox, one (1) trade paperback copy of DANCER’S LAMENT by Ian C. Esslemont, one (1) trade paperback copy of FORGE OF DARKNESS by Steven Erikson, one (1) trade paperback copy of FINN FANCY NECROMANCY by Randy Henderson, one (1) trade paperback copy of ROYAL STREET by Suzanne Johnson, one (1) trade paperback copy of THE EYE OF THE WORLD by Robert Jordon, one (1) trade paperback copy of THE SHARDS OF HEAVEN by Michael Livingston, one (1) trade paperback copy of THE MAGIC OF RECLUCE by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., one (1) trade paperback copy of RIDERS by Veronica Rossi, one (1) trade paperback copy of THE WAY OF KINGS by Brandon Sanderson, one (1) trade paperback copy of A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab, one (1) trade paperback copy of THE EMPEROR’S BLADES by Brian Staveley, one (1) trade paperback copy of UPDRAFT by Fran Wilde, one (1) ARC of THE MIDNIGHT FRONT by David Mack, one (1) mass market paperback copy of THE SIX-GUN TAROT by R.S. Belcher, one (1) mass market paperback copy of THE DINOSAUR LORDS by Victor Milan, one (1) mass market paperback copy of THE SLEEPING KING by Cindy Dees and Bill Flippin, one (1) mass market paperback copy of TOUCHSTONE by Melanie Rawn, one (1) mass market paperback copy by THE INCREMENTALISTS by Steven Brust and Skyler White, one (1) mass market paperback copy of CROWN OF VENGEANCE by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory, one (1) mass market paperback copy of IMAGER by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., one (1) mass market paperback copy of LAMENTATION by Ken Scholes, one (1) mass market paperback copy of THE ETERNA FILES by Leanna Renee Heiber, one (1) mass market paperback copy of KUSHIEL’S DART by Jacqueline Carey, and one (1) mass market paperback copy of AMERICAN CRAFTSMEN by Tom Doyle, and one (1) set of two Book dragon mugs. The approximate retail value (“ARV“) of the Grand Prize is $551.56 USD. All prize details that are not expressly specified in these Official Rules will be determined by Sponsor in its discretion. The prize will be awarded if properly claimed. No substitution, cash redemption or transfer of the right to receive the prize is permitted, except in the discretion of Sponsor, which has the right to substitute the prize or any component of the prize with a prize or prize component of equal or greater value selected by Sponsor in its discretion. The prize consists only of the item(s) expressly specified in these Official Rules. All expenses or costs associated with the acceptance or use of the prize or any component of the prize are the responsibility of the winner. The prize is awarded “as is” and without any warranty, except as required by law. In no event will more than the number of prizes stated in these Official Rules be awarded. All federal, state and local taxes on the value of the prize are the responsibility of the winner. For U.S. residents, an IRS form 1099 will be issued if required by law.
  1. RELEASE AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY: By entering the Sweepstakes, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, each entrant on behalf of himself or herself and anyone who succeeds to entrant’s rights and responsibilities including without limitation entrant’s heirs, executors, administrators, personal representatives, successors, assigns, agents, and attorneys, and with respect to minors entrant’s parents and legal guardians (collectively the “Entrant Parties“) releases Sponsor, each of Sponsor’s Affiliates, the licensees and licensors other than Entrant Parties including authors of each of the foregoing, all other companies involved in the development or operation of the Sweepstakes, Facebook, the successors and assigns of each of the foregoing and the directors, officers, employees and agents of each of the foregoing (collectively, the “Released Parties“) from and against any and all claims and causes of action of any kind that entrant and/or the Entrant Parties ever had, now have or might in the future have arising out of or relating to the Sweepstakes, participation in the Sweepstakes, the use of the Website, the provision, acceptance or use of any prize or any component thereof or any use of the entrant’s name as permitted pursuant to these Official Rules, including without limitation any and all claims and causes of action: (a) relating to any personal injury, death or property damage or loss sustained by any entrant or any other person, (b) based upon any allegation of violation of the right of privacy or publicity, misappropriation, defamation, or violation of any other personal or proprietary right, (c) based upon any allegation of infringement of copyright, trademark, trade dress, patent, trade secrets, moral rights or any intellectual property right, or (d) or based upon any allegation of a violation of the laws, rules or regulations relating to personal information and data security. Each entrant on behalf of himself or herself and the Entrant Parties agrees not to assert any such claim or cause of action against any of the Released Parties. Each entrant on behalf of himself or herself and the Entrant Parties assumes the risk of, and all liability for, any injury, loss or damage caused, or claimed to be caused, by participation in this Sweepstakes, the use of the Website, or the provision, acceptance or use of any prize or any component of any prize. The Released Parties are not responsible for, and will not have any liability in connection with, any typographical or other error in the printing of the offer, administration of the Sweepstakes or in the announcement of the prize. The Released Parties are not responsible for, and will not have any liability in connection with, late, lost, delayed, illegible, damaged, corrupted or incomplete entries, incorrect or inaccurate capture of, damage to, or loss of entries or entry information, or any other human, mechanical or technical error of any kind relating to the operation of the Website, communications or attempted communications with any entrant or Entrant Parties, the submission, collection, storage and/or processing of entries or the administration of the Sweepstakes. The term “Affiliate” of Sponsor means any entity that directly or indirectly, through one or more intermediaries, controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with Sponsor. The term “control” means the possession, directly or indirectly, of the power to direct or cause the direction of management and policies of an entity, or the ownership, directly or indirectly, of more than fifty percent (50%) of the equity interests of the entity.
  1. GENERAL RULES: Sponsor has the right, in its sole discretion, to modify these Official Rules (including without limitation by adjusting any of the dates and/or timeframes stipulated in these Official Rules) and to cancel, modify or suspend this Sweepstakes at any time in its discretion, including without limitation if a virus, bug, technical problem, entrant fraud or misconduct, or other cause beyond the control of the Sponsor corrupts the administration, integrity, security or proper operation of the Sweepstakes or if for any other reason Sponsor is not able to conduct the Sweepstakes as planned (including without limitation in the event the Sweepstakes is interfered with by any fire, flood, epidemic, earthquake, explosion, labor dispute or strike, act of God or of public enemy, communications failure, riot or civil disturbance, war (declared or undeclared), terrorist threat or activity, federal, state or local law, order or regulation or court order) or in the event of any change to the terms governing the use of Facebook or the application or interpretation of such terms. In the event of termination of the Sweepstakes, a notice will be posted on the Website or Sponsor’s Facebook page and a random drawing will be conducted to award the prize from among all eligible entries received prior to the time of termination. Sponsor has the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify or prohibit from participating in the Sweepstakes any individual who, in Sponsor’s discretion, Sponsor determines or believes (i) has tampered with the entry process or has undermined the legitimate operation of the Website or the Sweepstakes by cheating, hacking, deception or other unfair practices, (ii) has engaged in conduct that annoys, abuses, threatens or harasses any other entrant or any representative of Sponsor or (iii) has attempted or intends to attempt any of the foregoing. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE OR SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SWEEPSTAKES OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAW. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR HAS THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES (INCLUDING ATTORNEYS’ FEES) FROM ANY PERSON INVOLVED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. The use of agents or automated devices, programs or methods to submit entries is prohibited and Sponsor has the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any entry that it believes may have been submitted using such an agent or automated device, program or method. In the event of a dispute regarding who submitted an entry, the entry will be deemed to have been submitted by the authorized account holder of the email address submitted at the time of entry. “Authorized account holder” means the person who is assigned an email address by an internet provider, online service provider or other organization (e.g., business, educational institute, etc.) that is responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted email address. An entrant may be required to provide proof (in a form acceptable to Sponsor, including, without limitation, government-issued photo identification) that he or she is the authorized account holder of the email address associated with the entry in question. All federal, state, provincial, territorial and local laws and regulations apply. All entries become the property of Sponsor and will not be verified or returned. By participating in this Sweepstakes, entrants on behalf of themselves, and to the extent permitted by law on behalf of the Entrant Parties agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Sponsor, which are final and binding in all respects. These Official Rules may not be reprinted or republished in any way without the prior written consent of Sponsor.
  1. DISPUTES: By entering the Sweepstakes, each entrant on behalf of himself or herself and the Entrant Parties agrees that, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, (a) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with the Sweepstakes, or the provision, acceptance and/or use of any prize or prize component, will be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action (Note: Some jurisdictions do not allow restricting access to class actions. This provision will not apply to entrant if entrant lives in such a jurisdiction); (b) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering the Sweepstakes, but in no event attorneys’ fees; and (c) under no circumstances will any entrant or Entrant Party be permitted to obtain any award for, and each entrant and Entrant Party hereby waives all rights to claim, punitive, special, incidental or consequential damages and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules or the rights and obligations of the entrants, Entrant Parties and Sponsor in connection with the Sweepstakes shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of New York in the United States of America without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules or provisions that would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of New York. Any legal proceedings arising out of this Sweepstakes or relating to these Official Rules shall be instituted only in the federal or state courts located in New York County in the State of New York, waiving any right to trial by jury, and each entrant and Entrant Party consents to jurisdiction therein with respect to any legal proceedings or disputes of whatever nature arising under or relating to these rules or the Sweepstakes. In the event of any conflict between these Official Rules and any Sweepstakes information provided elsewhere (including but not limited in advertising or marketing materials), these Official Rules shall prevail.
  1. USE OF INFORMATION: Please review the Sponsor’s Privacy Notice at By entering the sweepstakes, entrant hereby agrees to Sponsor’s collection and use of their personal information in accordance with such Notice, including the use of entrant’s personal information to send email updates about Tor Books and other information from Sponsor and its related companies.
  1. WINNER NAME AND RULES REQUESTS:For the name(s) of the winner(s), which will be available two weeks after the conclusion of the Entry Period, or a copy of these Official Rules, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Fantasy First Sweepstakes, Tom Doherty Associates, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010. Winner name requests must be received by Sponsor within six months after the conclusion of the Entry Period.
  1. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010. The Sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

© 2017 Macmillan. All rights reserved.


$2.99 eBook Sale: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

$2.99 eBook Sale: Lamentation by Ken Scholes

Image Placeholder of - 24Our Fantasy Firsts program continues today with a sale on the ebook edition of Lamentation by Ken Scholes.  This offer will only last for a limited time, so order your copy today!

About Lamentation: This remarkable first novel from award-winning short fiction writer Ken Scholes will take readers away to a new world—an Earth so far in the distant future that our time is not even a memory; a world where magick is commonplace and great areas of the planet are impassable wastes. But human nature hasn’t changed through the ages: War and faith and love still move princes and nations.

In Lamentation, the first entry in the Psalm of Isaak series, an ancient weapon has completely destroyed the city of Windwir. From many miles away, Rudolfo, Lord of the Nine Forest Houses, sees the horrifying column of smoke rising. He knows that war is coming to the Named Lands.

Nearer to the Devastation, a young apprentice is the only survivor of the city—he sat waiting for his father outside the walls, and was transformed as he watched everyone he knew die in an instant.

Soon all the Kingdoms of the Named Lands will be at each others’ throats, as alliances are challenged and hidden plots are uncovered.

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This sale ends December 1st.


Building the Great Library of Alexandria

Building the Great Library of Alexandria

Image Place holder  of - 19Welcome back to Fantasy Firsts. Today Michael Livingston, author of a historical fantasy series set in the ancient world, discusses how to reverse engineer the most famous library of all time. The series begun in The Shards of Heaven concludes in The Realms of God, available November 7th.

Written by Michael Livingston

My new novel, The Shards of Heaven, is a historical fantasy. Part Indiana Jones, part Game of Thrones, this adventure takes place within our historical past, incorporating fantasy elements like the Trident of Poseidon as seamlessly as possible into the known facts of history. Indeed, if I have done my work well, one might argue that the Trident really was there at the rise of the Roman Empire—we just haven’t heard about it before.

As you can imagine, this approach placed limits on what I could or could not do with the power of the Shards, and I confess this has always been a part of my fascination with the story. I wanted to do the mythological and historical interweaving of luminaries like Tolkien and Jordan (and now Martin), but I also wanted to take the extra step of making it a part of our “real” historical world.

Which meant research.

Lots and lots of research.

In a recent post on my website, I discussed how I had to construct a map of ancient Alexandria for my story, and here I’d like to share a little about researching a specific building in that city: the Great Library of Alexandria.

Though the ancient city of Alexandria is perhaps best known for the magnificent Pharos Lighthouse, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, it was the Great Library that was surely the more important cultural artifact. Constructed under the orders of Ptolemy I Soter (Alexander the Great’s general, who succeded him in ruling Egypt) and organized under the direction of Demetrius Phalereus (who had been a student of Aristotle), the Great Library was the single greatest repository of knowledge for some three centuries.

We have little idea now about where it stood or what it looked like.

This factual vacuum left me with a great deal of freedom in designing the building for my novel, though I was certainly constrained by the architectural and technological capabilities of the fourth century BCE. Within those limitations, I wanted the building to be impressive as a construction, beautiful in its aesthetics, and true to the spirit of the building’s purpose as a repository for knowledge. I also wanted it to have a formal centrality within the complex of the Museum, the sprawling Alexandrian complex dedicated to the Muses. In The Shards of Heaven I describe it thus:

“Built of white marble and stone, the Library sat in the middle of the Museum like the physical embodiment of the flowering within the complex: a six-sided, multi-tiered building crowned with a magnificent cupola that was itself mounted by a glimmering gold statue of a man holding aloft a scroll, opened to the heavens.”

Tolzmann, Don Heinrich, Alfred Hessel and Reuben Peiss. The Memory of Mankind. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2001
Because the Library was originally organized by a student of Aristotle, I imagined that its vast array of holdings would be initially organized according to Aristotle’s ten divisions of knowledge.

This, then, was part of the reason I chose a six-sided building: drawing walls between the outer hexagon and another at its center would give me six “halls” within the construction, all radiating out from a central hall that I pictured as being open all the way to the top of the dome, a reflecting pool at its center and staircases spiraling around its interior walls between the three floors of the building. One of these radiating halls would be a great entrance hall, lined with ten pillars and otherwise filled with scriptoria and administrative offices. The remaining five halls would each have two of Aristotle’s ten divisions, neatly and logically giving order to the hundreds of thousands of books and scrolls that would have been housed there.

There was another reason I chose a hexagon shape: in symbology the hexagon is emblematic of the natural honeycomb, representing both the sweetness of knowledge and the busy, cooperative “bees” of the librarians toiling within. More than that, a hexagon fit into the symbolism of the Shards of Heaven themselves, which is grounded in a symbolic revision and representation of the classical elements.

Plus, well, I thought a hexagon would just look pretty amazing.

Whether it was reimagining the Great Library or reconstructing the Pharos Lighthouse, one of the immeasurable joys of writing The Shards of Heaven (and its coming sequels!) has been my need to breathe new life into our past by rebuilding it—sometimes brick by brick—for a modern audience.

I can only hope that readers will love seeing the results of this work as much as I enjoyed building it behind the scenes.

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Follow Michael Livingston on Twitter at @medievalguy and on his website.

(This is a rerun of a post that originally ran on December 7th, 2015.)


The Way of Kings: An Introduction

The Way of Kings: An Introduction

Image Placeholder of - 84Welcome back to Fantasy Firsts. Our program continues with a guest post by Brandon Sanderson introducing readers to The Way of Kings, first in his epic Stormlight Archive seriesThe next book, Oathbringerwill be available November 14th – you can start reading the first chapters here!

Written by Brandon Sanderson

I’ve been asked to introduce The Way Of Kings to you. And I have no idea how to start.

This is an odd position for me. Before, I’ve found it easy to explain my novels. Each one was built around one or two central premises. The gang of thieves who want to rob an immortal emperor. A man cast down by a terrible, magical disease and forced to rebuild a society among those similarly afflicted. A boy who finds that librarians secretly rule the world.

Kings has stymied me each time I’ve tried to describe it. I often end up talking about its creation. (How I started work on it over fifteen years ago. How I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words worth of worldbuilding for it. How much the project has come to mean to me over the decades.) But such things describe the book but don’t actually tell you anything. And so this time, I’m going to try to talk about what The Way Of Kings is.

It’s a book about characters I love. I’ve begun to build a reputation as the “magic system” guy. The author who creates interesting types of magic for every book he writes. On one hand, this delights me, as I do put a lot of effort into the magic in my books. But a great book for me isn’t about a magic, it’s about the people that the magic affects.

The book started its life many years ago being about a young man who made a good decision. I wrote the entire book that way before realizing I’d done it wrong. So I started over from scratch and had him take the other fork, the more difficult fork. The fork that cast him into some of the worst imaginable circumstances, ground him against the stones of a world where there is no soil or sand on the ground.

My goal: to prove to myself, and to him, that the ‘good’ decision was not actually the best one. The Way Of Kings is his story, though he shares the space with several others. They’ll get their own books later in the series.

I want to tell you more, but I don’t have the space here. I want to talk about the art in the book (it’s ambitious, unlike anything I’ve seen tried in an epic fantasy novel before.). I want to talk about the scope of the series, the distinctive world which is so much larger and more real than anything I’ve worked on before. I want to explain the book.

But, for now, I think it’s best to just show you instead.


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Follow Brandon Sanderson on Twitter at @BrandSanderson or visit his website, and follow the Stormlight Archive Facebook page.

(This is a rerun of a post that originally ran on September 1st, 2010.)

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