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Ancient Magic in Modern Cities

Modern cities can hold ancient magic, some more literally than others. Check out our favorite cities turn magical epicenters below!


when among crows by veronica rothChicago in When Among Crows by Veronica Roth

Pain is Dymitr’s calling. His family is one in a long line of hunters who sacrifice their souls to slay monsters. Now he’s tasked with a deadly mission: find the legendary witch Baba Jaga. To reach her, Dymitr must ally with the ones he’s sworn to kill. Pain is Ala’s inheritance. A fear-eating zmora with little left to lose, Ala awaits death from the curse she carries. When Dymitr offers her a cure in exchange for her help, she has no choice but to agree. Together they must fight against time and the wrath of the Chicago underworld. But Dymitr’s secrets—and his true motives—may be the thing that actually destroys them.

DarkerShadeMagic 9781250891211 CVRrev1.inddLondon in the Shades of Magic series by V. E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

one for my enemy by olivie blakeManhattan in One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

In modern-day Manhattan where we lay our scene, two rival witch families fight to maintain control of their respective criminal empires. On one side of the conflict are the Antonova sisters — each one beautiful, cunning, and ruthless — and their mother, the elusive supplier of premium intoxicants, known only as Baba Yaga. On the other side, the influential Fedorov brothers serve their father, the crime boss known as Koschei the Deathless, whose ventures dominate the shadows of magical Manhattan. After twelve years of tenuous co-existence, one family member brutally crosses the line. Bad blood reignites old grudges; at the same time, fate intervenes with a chance encounter between enemies. In the wake of love and vengeance, everyone must choose a side. As each of the siblings struggles to stake their claim, bloodshed in inevitable. The question is: Whose?

blood jadewTokyo in Blood Jade by Julia Vee and Ken Bebelle

Emiko Soong, newly minted Sentinel of San Francisco, just can’t catch a break. Just after she becomes the guardian for a sentient city, a murder strikes close to home. Called by the city and one of the most powerful clans to investigate, she traces the killer whose scent signature bears a haunting similarity to her mother’s talent. The trail will lead her back to Tokyo where the thread she pulls threatens to unravel her whole world and bring dark family secrets to light. Meanwhile, the General rises in the East and Emiko must fight the hidden enemies of his growing army who are amped up on Blood Jade, while keeping her promises to her brother Tatsuya as he prepares for his tourney. Her duties as Sentinel and her loyalties collide when she must choose between hiding her deepest shame or stopping the General’s relentless march.

the library of the dead by t l huchuEdinburgh in the Edinburgh Nights series by T. L. Huchu

The Library of the Dead introduces readers to Ropa, a precocious and cynical teen who can talk to ghosts. She explores the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh searching for clues to uncover what’s behind the evil bewitching all the children, leaving them shells of themselves. Along the way she encounters an occult library, a magical mentor, and some unexpected allies. This atmospheric, paranormal fantasy series continues with Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments.

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HUGE eBook Sale Day!!!

Hello, are you ready to read?? Yes??? GOOD. Because we’ve got HUGE eBook deals for today and today only (Monday 8.7.22)!

Check it out!


The Atlas SixThe Atlas Six by Olivie Blake by Olivie Blake—$3.99

The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will.

Most of them.

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The House in the Cerulean SeaThe House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune by TJ Klune—$2.99

Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world. Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. And his secrets will come to light. The House in the Cerulean Sea is an enchanting love story, masterfully told, about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

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A Darker Shade of MagicA Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Scwab by V. E. Schwab—$2.99

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations.

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRueThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab by V. E. Schwab—$4.99

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.

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She Who Became the SunShe Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan by Shelley Parker-Chan—$2.99

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected. When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

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What to Read Before First Kill Hits Netflix

We are so, so, SO excited for the Netflix adaptation of V. E. Schwab’s First Kill to hit our screens, and to gear ourselves up, we’ve created this list of things to read to prepare for this incredible new series. Add these books to your must read list and don’t forget to check out First Kill on June 10!


Image Placeholder of - 48A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell—one of the final remaining magicians with the power to travel between alternate Londons—and Delilah—a cut-purse from a world without magic—first need to stay alive.

To experience the thrill adventure is to risk danger, and there’s danger aplenty in one London, let alone four! Let alone deadly magic. Let alone bloody regime changes and the legacy of empire.

But Kell and Delilah do not alone, and instead live dangerously. Check it out 😎

Poster Placeholder of - 30The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

Addie LaRue made a deal with a devil and gained eternal life. Now she travels the world where no one can ever remember her, an immortal ghost.

After 300 years of wandering, this will change. A young man in a hidden bookstore will remember her name.

Placeholder of  -90Burn the Dark by S. A. Hunt

Her ultimate goal is to seek revenge against the coven of witches who wronged her mother long ago. Her witch-hunting YouTube series is massively popular. Her fans don’t know that the reason her content is so good is because it’s real.

Now, when Robin returns to her old home to rural Blackfield, she encounters new friends and new enemies: a mysterious entity known as the Red Lord.

Image Place holder  of - 26Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City.

She’s a vampire on the run from a rival narco-vampire clan and he’s just trying to survive the city’s heavily policed streets. He’s also entirely smitten. As the trail of corpses stretches behind them, do Atl and Domingo stand a chance of making it out alive?

Place holder  of - 54The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it.

The members of these hidden families adhere to a diet of stories curated for the roles their gender would have them play: stories of valor for men, and cautionary tales for women.

But Devon’s son is born with a darker hunger. Not for books, but for human minds.

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$2.99 eBook Sale: November 22-29, 2021

Ready for some ebook deals?! Check out which books you can snag for only $2.99 from November 22-29!


Place holder  of - 78A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine

An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options. In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass—still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire—face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity. Their failure will guarantee millions of deaths in an endless war. Their success might prevent Teixcalaan’s destruction—and allow the empire to continue its rapacious expansion.

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Placeholder of  -28A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antarimagicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

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Image Placeholder of - 97The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks. But the Grand Season has just begun, and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis and the haphazard manifestations of her powers make her the subject of malicious gossip. When entertainer Hector Auvray arrives to town, Nina is dazzled. A telekinetic like her, he has traveled the world performing his talents for admiring audiences. With Hector’s help, Nina’s talent blossoms, as does her love for him. But great romances are for fairytales, and Hector is hiding a truth from Nina — and himself—that threatens to end their courtship before it truly begins.

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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


Place holder  of - 44Baru 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 Place holder  of - 19Daenerys 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.

Poster Placeholder of - 65Holland 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.

Image Placeholder of - 11The 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.

Placeholder of  -31The 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.

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$2.99 ebook Sale: June 22-28

$2.99 ebook Sale: June 22-28

Happy Tuesday, everyone! We have a VERY exciting ebook sale this week for some of our bestselling titles—are you ready? Check out what books you can snag for only $2.99 below:


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The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world. Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. And his secrets will come to light.

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Place holder  of - 27Deadmen Walking by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Deadmen Walking is the first historical fantasy title in New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Deadman’s Cross series. It is a tale of passion and loss, emotions that wound and heal…and ultimate redemption

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Image Placeholder of - 77The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz

Tess and Beth’s lives intertwine as war breaks out across the timeline–a war that threatens to destroy time travel and leave only a small group of elites with the power to shape the past, present, and future. Against the vast and intricate forces of history and humanity, is it possible for a single person’s actions to echo throughout the timeline?

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Poster Placeholder of - 59Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

When a gruesome murder is discovered at The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, where her estranged twin sister teaches Theoretical Magic, reluctant detective Ivy Gamble is pulled into the world of untold power and dangerous secrets. She will have to find a murderer and reclaim her sister—without losing herself.

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Image Place holder  of - 86Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army. The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce-and aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place.

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The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

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Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin was not the only child in the Battle School; he was just the best of the best. In this new book, card tells the story of another of those precocious generals, the one they called Bean–the one who became Ender’s right hand, part of his team, in the final battle against the Buggers.

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The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

When the inhabitants of a peaceful world are conquered by the bloodthirsty yumens, their existence is irrevocably altered. Forced into servitude, the Athsheans find themselves at the mercy of their brutal masters. Desperation causes the Athsheans, led by Selver, to retaliate against their captors, abandoning their strictures against violence. But in defending their lives, they have endangered the very foundations of their society.

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The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

A war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Kell is one of the last Antarimagicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

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The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

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The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too. Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.

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All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

An ancient society of witches and a hipster technological startup go to war in order to prevent the world from tearing itself apart. To further complicate things, each of the groups’ most promising followers (Patricia, a brilliant witch and Laurence, an engineering “wunderkind”) may just be in love with each other. Laurence and Patricia are forced to choose sides, but their choices will determine the fate of the planet and all mankind.

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Celebrating Valentines with our Favorite SFF Ships

Celebrating Valentines with our Favorite SFF Ships

The term “shipping” has a lot of different meanings: riding a boat, getting a package from Point A to Point B, to name a few. But in the world of fandoms, shipping has an entirely different contextthe wanting/support of two people in a romantic relationship, be is canonly blessed by the creator or subtext brought to full fruition through the wonders of Ao3.

With all the love we’re feeling in the air (or something like that…), we decided on a mission around the office―to discover the Tor staff’s favorite science fiction and fantasy pairings and SHARE THEM WITH THE ENTIRE WORLD! From Delilah Bard and her knives, to Drarry and beyond, things got…wild.

WARNING: Here there be spoilers. Enter at your own risk


Lila and her knives-1Lila and her knives from The Shades of Magic series

Let me start off by saying I would die for/at the hands of Lila Bard, that #StabbyKingBitch. Sure, Lila cares very deeply for Kell, they’ve been through a lot together and she owes him a lot for taking her to Red London and introducing her to magic. But her knives have been with her even longer, are always at her side, and are firmly the things she loves most in the world. Schwab’s series gives us many a scene in which Lila is sharpening/tending to the knives she has, or lustfully admiring new ones with that playfully wicked glint in her eye. There is no love that ever transcends what Lila knows to be true — that at the end of the day, she only has herself, and she has to be able to defend that. Lila has found true independence and strength with her knives, and with them in her hand, she became the person she wanted to be. Could you ask for a better love story than that? I think not.

Christina Orlando, Books Editor & Publicity Coordinator, Tor.com

networkMurderbot and ART from The Murderbot Diaries

Can the grumpy one love the other grumpy one? The answer is a resounding “yes” in Martha Wells’ crushingly relatable protagonist, who just wants to close the door to have a feeling in private. Wells finds an astonishingly deep well of humanity in her proudly non-human narrator, and the books only get better when ART (the terrifyingly intelligent transport vessel who serves as the series’ answer to HAL 9000) comes on the scene and the two begin their grudging partners-to-“wait are we dating now?” partnership. ART understands what all of us in the internet age already know: love is watching the person (or Murderbot) you love watch their favorite media so you can roll around in the refracted joy. Network Effect (May 2020), the first novel-length entry in the series, is the most satisfyingly romantic of them all.

Ruoxi Chen, Associate Editor, Tor.com Publishing

A-Memory-Called-Empire

Three Seagrass and Mahit Dzmare from <>A Memory Called Empire

Spoilers.*
Sometimes you’re an overwhelmed young ambassador in the heart of a hostile space empire that might just manifest destiny you right out of a home, but you can still find a little comfort in poetry and smooches with your political attache.

a bunch of raccoons in a trench coat, Senior Marketing Manager, Tor Books 

UNSPOKEN-1Csorwe and Shuthmili from The Unspoken Name

A flinty orc priestess jock with great arms who survived some sensationally bad wizard parenting and a Seems Delicate, Actually Ineffably Powerful femme sorceress who has zero (0) sense of self-preservation and very pretty hair? Uh, sign me up, every time. Csorwe and Shuthmili share troubled pasts and upbringings as young women raised to a greater purpose at the cost of their personal happiness. The Unspoken Name knows how to bring the hurt down on you like a hammer, but their romance—and their slow discovery of how to value themselves and each other—will leave you happily wallowing in a sea of joyful, queer comfort.

Ruoxi Chen, Associate Editor, Tor.com Publishing

sunmoon
The book Unconquerable Sun and the book Relentless Moon.

Both of these Tor books are coming out in the same month, they’re both sci-fi and they have sun and moon in the title! They have so much in common! They should kiss. Wait, hold on, I have an Instagram idea.

Renata Sweeney, Senior Marketing Manager, Tor Books 

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Linus Baker and Arthur Parnassus from The House in the Cerulean Sea

Linus and Arthur in The House in the Cerulean Sea have a quiet, soft sort of love, like a mug of perfectly warm hot cocoa topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. There’s a secret touch of cinnamon that adds a subtle spiciness. Honestly, this ship is charming, heartwarming, and delights me to no end. Sometimes a family is a by-the-book caseworker, the master of an orphanage, and six magical children. Applicable tropes: #slowburn #pining #fluff #foundfamily

Rebecca Yeager, Ad Promo Manager, Tor Books

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Crowley and Aziraphale from Good Omens

One is an ex-angel who “did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards.” The other is a Principality that gave away the sword guarding the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve because he was afraid of them getting cold. Together, they make the dumbass Ineffable Husbands of my literary dreams whose well-meaning but disastrous shenanigans will make this ship sail until the end of times.

Rachel Taylor, Marketing Manager, Tor Books

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Our Favorite Female Captains in Sci-fi and Fantasy

Being the boss of a ship, whether on the high seas or in space, is a challenging job. You have to balance the personalities of your crew, your goals (be they military, trade, etc.), and the inherent dangers of the environment. Oftentimes, being a woman and the one in charge can add yet another difficulty to the job. But the #FearlessWomen in these books can handle it, because they’re serious badasses. Here are some of our favorite female captains in science fiction and fantasy. Who’s on your list?

Captain Josette Dupre from By Fire Above by Robyn Bennis

Image Place holder  of - 12 When you’re an airship captain, you can’t be afraid of heights. Captain Josette Dupre, the first female airship captain in the Corps, isn’t worried about falling. She’s more worried about a bullet in the back. And while she proved herself to the world in Robyn Bennis’s debut The Guns Above, that doesn’t mean the prejudice against her is going to instantly disappear. To constantly combat it, Captain Dupre must always be the best of the best. But when her hometown of Durum is occupied by the enemy, and her mother taken as a prisoner of war, all bets are off.

Captain Leela from The Ballad of Beta-2 by Samuel R. Delaney

Poster Placeholder of - 2 First published in 1965, Delaney’s short novel is framed by a graduate student’s search for the anthropological and historical meaning behind a short poem left by the Star Folk, who had left Earth in generation ships to colonize the stars. But it’s the story in between the frame that really caught our imagination–the story of Captain Leela, the alien she meets in deep space who gets her pregnant, and the Judges who declared her a “Misfit” and condemned her to death. And, of course, the Wonder Child that resulted from Leela’s pregnancy. We can only go along for the ride with Joneny, the student, as he discovers a story packed with wonder and horror.

Anne Bonney from The Queen of Swords by R. S. Belcher

Place holder  of - 40 The third book in Belcher’s Golgotha series, The Queen of Swords is the first to take place in the wider world, rather than in the confines of the small mining town Golgotha. In it, we follow the twinned narratives of the world class assassin Maude Stapleton and her several times great grandmother, the pirate queen Anne Bonney. Bonney’s journey serves as a guide for her descendant, but more importantly for readers, she’s a badass pirate queen who breaks out of prison and treks across Africa in search of treasure. Anne Bonney is the pirate and adventurer we wish we could be some day.

Captain General Zezili Hasario from The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

Image Placeholder of - 98 If you love grimdark fantasy, but hate that it’s so often dominated by male characters, then Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire is for you. The women in Hurley’s world are the soldiers and rulers, taking charge even as they work to slaughter each other. One of our favorite characters is Zezili Hasario, the Captain General of the Empress of Dorinah. Zezili is definitely a complex woman: she’s abusive to her husband (as is the custom for many Dorinah), and often uses her mixed heritage to unnerve others. Her world, already complicated, becomes even more so when she must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Honor Harrington from On Basilisk Station by David Weber

Placeholder of  -37 When one thinks of female captains in science fiction, Honor Harrington is often the first name on the list. Debuting in David Weber’s 1993 novel On Basilisk Station, the newly graduated Honor takes command of her first ship, only to fail in her first outing. That failure leads to punishment duty: picket duty at the remote Basilisk Station. There, with hard work and a clever use of resources, Honor and her crew not only succeed in defending the station, but uncover and defuse a massive plot to invade the Star Kingdom of Manticore. From her very first posting and through the subsequent 13 novels (with a 14th coming this year), Honor Harrington embodies everything we want in our female captains: she’s resourceful, resilient, intelligent, and overall, a badass.

Zamira Drakasha from Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

While the focus of the second book in Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards series is, of course, on our heroes Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen, our favorite character was without a doubt Zamira Drakasha, the middle-aged, black mother of two who ran her murderous pirate crew with an iron fist. She could leap between ships, wield her sabers with deadly accuracy, and cuddle her kids at the end of a hard day of looting. We would absolutely join the scrub watch and do whatever labor was demanded of us if only we got to join the crew of the Poison Orchid!

Lila Bard from the Shades of Magic Series by V. E. Schwab

Lila Bard was born to be a pirate. She knows it, deep down in her bones. Even after she starts going on magical adventures with Kell, she never sets aside this dream. Her first thought after meeting privateer Alucard Emery is, naturally, to steal his ship. Instead, she chooses to join his crew by becoming their thief—after killing the original crew thief, of course—and Alucard teaches her about the world of Red London. No matter how difficult the path, or how many obstacles kept getting in her way, Lila Bard knew she was meant to be a pirate. And she won’t let anything stand in the way of fulfilling her dreams.

Bonus Novella:

Captain Ann-Marie from The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

This one’s a bonus title because it doesn’t come out until August, but we think you’ll love it. In an alternate America caught up in a Civil War that ended with a divided country, an independent New Orleans sits uneasily between North and South. Haitian airship Captain Ann-Marie and orphaned street urchin Creeper must work together to save the world from a mysterious weapon called The Black God’s Drums. Between sky pirates, powerful and cagey African Gods, and a pair of very interesting nuns, Clark’s debut novella will draw you in, and you won’t want to come back to the real world.


Feature image © Greg Manchess

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V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic Sweepstakes

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Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons: Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

Sign up for the Tor Newsletter and to get updates about V. E. Schwab’s upcoming titles for a chance to win the Shades of Magic trilogy in matching trade paperback editions!

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OFFICIAL RULES

V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic Sweepstakes

NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. OPEN ONLY TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE 50 UNITED STATES AND D.C. WHO ARE 18 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER AND OF THE LEGAL AGE OF MAJORITY AT THE TIME OF ENTRY. U.S. LAW GOVERNS THIS SWEEPSTAKES. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

  1. ELIGIBILITY: The V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic 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 or the District of Columbia and who are 18 years of age or older and of the legal age of majority in the jurisdiction in which he or she resides. 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 where prohibited by law.
  2. HOW TO ENTER: The entry period for the Sweepstakes begins at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on Monday, March 19, 2018 and continues through 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, March 23, 2018 (the “Entry Period“). No purchase is necessary. 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 or Instagram newsfeed or alternatively by visiting Sponsor’s website located at https://www.torforgeblog.com/2018/03/19/v-e-schwabs-shades-of-magic-sweepstakes (the “Website”) and following the on screen entry instructions. The Facebook or Instagram entry forms may be pre-filled with information provided by the Facebook or Instagram 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.
  3. WINNER SELECTION AND NOTIFICATION: Following the conclusion of the Entry Period, ten 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, 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 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 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 IRS Form W-9 within seven days of attempted delivery of same, 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).
  4. PRIZE: Ten Grand Prize(s) will be offered. The Grand Prize consists of one trade paperback copy of A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab, one trade paperback copy of A GATHERING OF SHADOWS by V.E. Schwab and one trade paperback copy of A CONJURING OF LIGHT by V.E. Schwab. The approximate retail value (“ARV“) of the Grand Prize is $48.97 USD. The aggregate ARV of all prizes is $489.70 USD. The exact value will depend on where the winner resides and market conditions at the time of prize fulfillment. 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. If a prize component consists of digital content, entrant may need a compatible reading application to read the content. 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. An IRS form 1099 will be issued if required by law.
  5. 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, Instagram, 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.
  6. 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 Instagram 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 and Instagram 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, 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.
  7. 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.
  8. USE OF INFORMATION: Personal information supplied is subject to applicable data protection laws and Sponsor’s Privacy Notice at https://us.macmillan.com/privacy-notice. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants acknowledge that they have read Sponsor’s Privacy Notice and hereby agree to Sponsor’s collection and use of their personal information in accordance with such laws and Privacy Notice.

  9. 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 V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic 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.
  10. 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 or Instagram.

    ©2018 Macmillan Publishers. All rights reserved.







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No Mother Tongue: Language in the World of Magic

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. SchwabWritten by V. E. Schwab

I am not a linguist—I barely speak French, and that’s after studying it for four years—but I knew from the outset that the Shades of Magic series would feature not only multiple Londons, but multiple languages.

As a writer who has to construct a world before she can fathom the people who live within it, it was only natural that, to understand the insiders of my myriad realities, I’d have to understand how they spoke. Were they the kind of people who had a dozen words for love? Or no word for God? How did they say hello? Farewell?

Words are, of course, the building blocks of stories. But they’re also a key facet of setting, of character, and, when it comes to fantasy, of world. Stories are populated with insiders and outsiders, and the existence of a language to which readers aren’t instantly privy emphasizes that they do not belong. It slows our introduction to the world, but does not prevent it. Instead, readers are forced to learn as they go, just as travelers would, when passing through a foreign land.

Languages don’t only serve as gatekeepers to readers; they play the same function within the narrative. They can make characters feel excluded. Lila Bard finds herself in a London where her own language is a mark of royalty and where she cannot grasp the common tongue. Kell is constantly frustrated by the fact people refer to him as aven—blessed—or vares—prince. And then, of course, there’s the language that only Kell speaks: a tongue that marks his gift as Antari, and isolates him further.

There are differences between the fictional languages within the book, each invariably invoking some real-world echo in our minds. The people of Red London speak a tongue that is sibilant and smooth, whereas in the harsh climate of White London, they speak a guttural one, and Grey London, our stand-in for the real world, becomes both familiar in its Englishness, and foreign as, over the course of the series, we spend more time with other tongues.

One of the most exciting things for me, as a writer, has been the eagerness with which readers have sought to learn certain phrases, to memorize the meaning of Kell’s spell words or the common greeting between princes, or even some of Calla’s more obscure expressions. While the majority of oft-quoted phrases are in Lila’s common English, it’s an extraordinary thing to see a fan sign off a letter with As Travars. Used poorly, fictional languages can feel like a wall, preventing all but the well-versed from feeling included in a world. But used well, they can invite the readers to become part of a world they love, transforming from a barricade into an open door.

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