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Series That Ended This Year You Can Binge Read Now!

Here’s one for the marathon readers. The book-jockeys who devour quadruple digit pages in single digit days. Here’s a list of fantasy series that ended this year to satiate even the most voracious word-eater. Enjoy your book binge 😈


Wake the Dragon seriesgods and dragons by Kevin J. Anderson

Co-author of the Dune sequels, Kevin J. Anderson’s Gods and Dragons marks his triumphant return to epic fantasy and magnanimous finish to his epic fantasy Wake the Dragons series.  Two continents at war: the Three Kingdoms and Ishara have been in conflict for a thousand years. But when an outside threat arises—the reawakening of a powerful ancient race that wants to remake the world—the two warring nations must somehow set aside generations of hatred to form an alliance against a far more deadly enemy. 

The Sorceror’s Song trilogyThe Sword's Elegy by Brian D. Anderson by Brian D. Anderson

The Sword’s Elegy is the third book in a new epic fantasy trilogy from successful self-published author Brian D. Anderson, perfect for fans of The Wheel of Time and The Sword of Truth. The doom of humankind has at last been realized. Belkar’s prison is broken and his army is on the move. The nations of Lamoria, unaware of the greater danger, look to repel the aggression of Ralmarstad. In the end, it is not great power, terrible armies, or mighty warriors who will influence the course of fate. But two lovers and the unbreakable bond they share. All questions are answered. All mysteries revealed.

Image Place holder  of - 65A Chorus of Dragons series by Jenn Lyons

The Discord of Gods marks the epic conclusion to Jenn Lyons’s A Chorus of Dragons series, closing out the saga that began with The Ruin of Kings, for fans of Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss. Do you like it when demons run rampant? When political intrigue and ancient rituals intersect? How about becoming the living avatar of a star? This epic fantasy series about a long-lost royal whose fate is tied to the future of an empire will take you on a thrilling ride you won’t forget and might not survive. 

Place holder  of - 55The Serpent Gates duology by A. K. Larkwood

The gods remember. And if you live long enough, all debts come due. This epic fantasy series about an orcish death priest who starts a new career as an assassin for a wizard to avoid becoming the god of death’s new bride is an amazing, swashbuckling, screaming-in-frustration, heart-racing cascade of emotion and action. Snake goddesses, ancient ruins, sibling rivalry for the favor of a garbage wizard. What more can you ask for? 

Image Placeholder of - 46The Lotus Kingdoms trilogy by Elizabeth Bear

Hugo Award-winning author Elizabeth Bear returns with The Origin of Storms, the stunning conclusion to her acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy, The Lotus Kingdoms. The Lotus Kingdoms are at war, with four claimants to the sorcerous throne of the Alchemical Emperor, fielding three armies between them. Alliances are made, and broken, many times over—but in the end, only one can sit on the throne. And that one must have not only the power, but the rightful claim.

The Fall of the Gods seriesPoster Placeholder of - 2 by Ryan Van Loan

Ryan Van Loan concludes his pulse-pounding fantasy series with sea battles, hidden libraries, warring deities, old enemies, and one woman’s desire for liberation and revenge all wrapped up in one epic novel—The Memory in the Blood. When her quest to destroy the Gods began, Buc was a child of the streets. Now she is a woman of steel, shaped by gaining and losing power, tempered by love and betrayal, and honed to a fine edge by grief and her desire for vengeance. If Buc has to destroy all Gods, eat the rich, and break the world’s economy to save the people, she will do it. Even if it costs her everything.

Mercenary Librarians seriesDance with the Devil by Kit Rocha by Kit Rocha

The Mercenary Librarians and the Silver Devils are back in the explosive conclusion to USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Kit Rocha’s post-apocalyptic action/romance in Dance with the Devil. How to describe the Mercenary Librarians series? Post-apocalyptic corporate autocracy with a rebellious streak of sweet and sexy romance. Rogue information brokers on a mission to save a crumbling America collide with a team of disillusioned AWOL supersoliders. It’s intense. It’s dangerous. It’s hot. 

mysticThe Mystic Trilogy by Jason Denzel

In Mystic Skies, the epic conclusion to Jason Denzel’s The Mystic Trilogy, which spans decades and timeless realms and dreams, Pomella must confront her greatest and most personal challenge yet. For the Deep mysteries of the world will reveal themselves only to the most powerful and dedicated of Mystics. This series from the founder of Dragonmount is perfect for all fans of swords and sorcery. Do you love Robert Jordan? Brandon Sanderson? Dungeons & Dragons? You HAVE to check out The Mystic Trilogy. 

The Caladan Trilogysnek by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

In Dune: The Heir of Caladan, the final book in the Caladan trilogy by New York Times bestselling authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, we step into the shoes of Paul Atreides. A boy not yet a man and about to enter a world he could never have imagined. The story that began with Duke Leto Atreides’s rise to power, then continued with the consequences of Lady Jessica’s betrayal, will now conclude with Paul becoming the person that he needs to be to become the Muad’Dib.

Mistborn: Wax and Wayne serieslost-metal by Brandon Sanderson

Return to #1 New York Times bestseller Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn world of Scadrial as its second era, which began with The Alloy of Law, comes to its earth-shattering conclusion in The Lost Metal

The Mistborn series is a bold saga of epic fantasy that asks the question: What happens if the hero of prophecy fails? And also: What if ingesting various metals gave you special powers? 

You simply cannot tell us you’re not curious…

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Every Book Coming From Tor in Summer 2022

Ready to discover the hottest reads of summer? Get ready, because this year, our list is SMOKIN’. Check out everything coming from Tor Books in Summer 2022 here!


June 14

Placeholder of  -8The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison

As a Witness for the Dead, Thara Celehar can speak to the recently departed: see the last thing they saw, know the last thought they had, experience the last thing they felt. It is his duty to use that ability to ascertain the intent of the dead and to find the killers of the murdered. Celehar’s time in the city of Amalo has brought him both friends and enemies—and no little notoriety. Now, when solving the murder of a marquise raises more questions than it answers, he finds himself exploring Amalo’s dark underside.

June 21

Image Placeholder of - 15In the Shadow of Lightning by Brian McClellan

Demir Grappo is an outcast—he fled a life of wealth and power, abandoning his responsibilities as a general, a governor, and a son. Now he will live out his days as a grifter, rootless, and alone. But when his mother is brutally murdered, Demir must return from exile to claim his seat at the head of the family and uncover the truth that got her killed: the very power that keeps civilization turning, godglass, is running out. Now, Demir must find allies, old friends and rivals alike, confront the powerful guild-families who are only interested in making the most of the scraps left at the table and uncover the invisible hand that threatens the Empire.

June 28

Poster Placeholder of - 35Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald

Raine can see—and speak—to the dead, a gift that comes with a death sentence. All her life she has hidden, lied, and run to save her skin, and she’s made some spectacularly bad choices along the way. But it is a rare act of kindness—rescuing an injured woman in the snow—that becomes the most dangerous decision Raine has ever made. Because the woman is fleeing from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king, and who will stop at nothing to reclaim what she’s stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation force Raine to enter the citadel and live among the Draoihn. She soon finds that her secret ability could be the key to saving an entire nation.

Image Place holder  of - 84The Origin of Storms by Elizabeth Bear

The Lotus Kingdoms are at war, with four claimants to the sorcerous throne of the Alchemical Emperor fielding three armies between them. Alliances are made, and broken, many times over—but in the end, only one can sit on the throne. And that one must have not only the power, but the rightful claim.

Place holder  of - 86Sands of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

The world of Dune has shaped an entire generation of science fiction. From the sand blasted world of Arrakis, to the splendor of the imperial homeworld of Kaitain, readers have lived in a universe of treachery and wonder. Now, these stories expand on the Dune universe, telling of the lost years of Gurney Halleck as he works with smugglers on Arrakis in a deadly gambit for revenge; inside the ranks of the Sardaukar as the child of a betrayed nobleman becomes one of the Emperor’s most ruthless fighters; a young firebrand Fremen woman, a guerrilla fighter against the ruthless Harkonnens, who will one day become Shadout Mapes.

July 5

Flying the Coop by Lucinda Roy

In the disunited states, no person of color—especially not a girl whose body reimagines flight—is safe. A quest for Freedom has brought former Muleseed Jellybean “Ji-ji” Silapu to D.C., aka Dream City, the site of monuments and memorials—where, long ago, the most famous Dreamer of all time marched for the same cause. As Ji-ji struggles to come to terms with her shocking metamorphosis and her friends, Tiro and Afarra, battle formidable ghosts of their own, the former U.S. capital decides whose dreams it wants to invest in and whose dreams it will defer. The journeys the three friends take to liberate themselves and others will not simply defy the status quo, they will challenge the nature of reality itself.

The Albion Initiative by George Mann

Victorian England comes fully alive in true steampunk fashion, with dazzling inventions and airships flying over the city, while clockwork automatons race across the streets. But there’s a sinister side to all this new technological progress. George Mann’s Newbury & Hobbes steampunk series concludes as our special agent heroes discover a plot of empire-changing proportions in The Albion Initiative. 

July 12

The Memory in the Blood by Ryan Van Loan

When her quest to destroy the Gods began, Buc was a child of the streets. Now she is a woman of steel, shaped by gaining and losing power, tempered by love and betrayal, and honed to a fine edge by grief and her desire for vengeance. A perilous, clandestine mission to a hidden library uncovers information that is key to destroying both the Dead Gods and their enemy, the Goddess Ciris. Ciris’s creation, Sin, who lives inside Buc, gives her superhuman abilities and tempts her with hints of even greater power. With that power, she could achieve almost anything—end the religious war tearing her world apart, remake society at a stroke—but the price would be the betrayal of everything she has fought for . . . and the man she loved would still be dead.

Cover of Mythago Wood by Robert HoldstockMythago Woods by Robert Holdstock

The mystery of Ryhope Wood, Britain’s last fragment of primeval forest, consumed George Huxley’s entire long life. Now, after his death, his sons have taken up his work. But what they discover is numinous and perilous beyond all expectation. For the Wood, larger inside than out, is a labyrinth full of myths come to life, “mythagos” that can change you forever. A labyrinth where love and beauty haunt your dreams…and may drive you insane.

July 19

Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

Coming home is hard enough for Vera, and to make things worse, she and her mother aren’t alone. A parasitic artist has moved into the guest house out back and is slowly stripping Vera’s childhood for spare parts. He insists that he isn’t the one leaving notes around the house in her father’s handwriting… but who else could it possibly be? There are secrets yet undiscovered in the foundations of the notorious Crowder House. Vera must face them and find out for herself just how deep the rot goes.

July 26

cover of A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz MeadowsA Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows

Velasin vin Aaro never planned to marry at all, let alone a girl from neighboring Tithena. When an ugly confrontation reveals his preference for men, Vel fears he’s ruined the diplomatic union before it can even begin. But while his family is ready to disown him, the Tithenai envoy has a different solution: for Vel to marry his former intended’s brother instead. Caethari Aeduria always knew he might end up in a political marriage, but his sudden betrothal to a man from Ralia, where such relationships are forbidden, comes as a shock. With an unknown faction willing to kill to end their new alliance, Vel and Cae have no choice but to trust each other. Survival is one thing, but love—as both will learn—is quite another.

Three Miles Down by Harry Turtledove

It’s 1974, and Jerry Stieglitz is a grad student in marine biology at UCLA with a side gig selling short stories to science fiction magazines, just weeks away from marrying his longtime fiancée. Then his life is upended by grim-faced men from three-letter agencies who want him to join a top-secret “Project Azorian” in the middle of the north Pacific Ocean—and they really don’t take “no” for an answer. Further, they’re offering enough money to solve all of his immediate problems. Joining up and swearing to secrecy, what he first learns is that Project Azorian is secretly trying to raise a sunken Russian submarine, while pretending to be harvesting undersea manganese nodules.

The Eye of Scales by Tracy Hickman and Richard Garriott

Aren Bendis, former soldier in the Obsidian army, has managed to protect a rebel city from his former friends and now finds his fate bound to a weapon once wielded by the Avatars themselves. Now, he is being secreted away to the capital of the last alliance of free nations with the hopes that the Hero of Opalis will lead their army against his former masters. What Aren doesn’t know is that his former friend Evard Dirae, a Craft Master of the Obsidian Order, is seeking Aren out. Worried that Aren is being manipulated against his will by the magic of the Avatars, Evard seeks to find the sword and break its hold over Aren once and for all.

August 2

cover of The Book Eaters by Sunyi DeanThe 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. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairy tales and cautionary stories. But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.

Full House by George R. R. Martin

In hardcover for the first time, Full House brings together the Wild Cards stories that have been previously published on Tor.com, including works from Daniel Abraham, Cherie Priest, David D. Levine, Walter Jon Williams, Paul Cornell, Carrie Vaughn, Caroline Spector, Stephen Leigh, Melinda M. Snodgrass, and more!

August 9

Councilor by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. 

Continued poor harvests and steam-powered industrialization displace and impoverish thousands. Protests grow and gather followers. Against this rising tide of social unrest, Steffan Dekkard, newly appointed to the Council of Sixty-Six, is the first Councilor who is an Isolate, a man invulnerable to the emotional manipulations and emotional surveillance of empaths. This makes him dangerous. As unknown entities seek to assassinate him, Dekkard struggles to master political intrigue and infighting, while introducing radical reforms that threaten entrenched political and corporate interests.

August 16

The First Binding by R.R. Virdi

The first book in this fast-paced, worldbuilding series, The First Binding, tells the story of Ari, an immortal wizard hiding as a storyteller. Ari’s buried villages, killed gods, stolen magic, and knows he is a monster for it. On the run and seeking obscurity in a remote tavern, he and his companion, a singer, soon find their pasts aren’t forgotten, and neither are their enemies.

Dance with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Tobias Richter, the fearsome VP of Security of the TechCorps is dead. The puppetmaster is gone and the organization is scrambling to maintain control by ruthlessly limiting Atlanta’s access to resources, hoping to quell rebellion. Our band of mercenary librarians have decided that the time for revolution has come. Maya uses her wealth of secrets to weaken the TechCorps from within. Dani strikes from the shadows, picking off the chain of command one ambush at a time. And Nina is organizing their community—not just to survive, but to fight back. When Maya needs to make contact with a sympathetic insider, Dani and Rafe are the only ones with the skill-set and experience to infiltrate the highest levels of the TechCorps.

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Political Sci-Fi of the Possible Future

With far-future science fiction on the rise in film and TV, (see Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (2021) and Foundation (2021) on Apple TV+) we’re looking back and uplifting some of the great science fiction books and series on our list from the last handful of years that delve into the depths of politics and society in a possible future. Check them out here!

by a frog


Poster Placeholder of - 44Terra Ignota series by Ada Palmer

Perhaps the Stars, the highly anticipated conclusion to the Terra Ignota series hit store shelves on 11.2.21, and now is the perfect time to pick up this quartet by Ada Palmer. World Peace is shattered and war spreads across the globe. In this future, the leaders of Hive nations—nations without fixed location—clandestinely committed nefarious deeds in order to maintain an outward semblance of utopian stability. But the facade could only last so long. And the catalyst came in the form of special little boy to ignite half a millennium of repressed chaos.

Place holder  of - 89Teixcalaan series by Arkady Martine

In the Hugo Award–winning novel, A Memory Called Empire, Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court.

Image Placeholder of - 33Luna series by Ian McDonald

The Luna series has been called Game of Thrones in space, and the politics between warring space-faring corporations on the Moon stands up to the comparison. Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, at the twilight of her life, Adriana finds if the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.

Image Place holder  of - 14The Interdependency series by John Scalzi

John Scalzi is known for his science fiction and The Interdependency is his latest completed series with Tor Books. This series is packed with political suspense, action, and all the great reasons we love a Scalzi novel. When the Flow, an extradimensional field available at certain points in space-time begins separating all human worlds from one another, three individuals—a scientist, a starship captain, and the emperox of the Interdependency—must salvage an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.

Placeholder of  -77Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

While at its heart a romance, Everina Maxwell’s Winter’s Orbit explores the necessities of political alliances by way of marriage among the stars. Prince Kiem, a famously disappointing minor royal and the Emperor’s least favorite grandchild, has been called upon to be useful for once. He’s commanded to fulfill an obligation of marriage to the representative of the Empire’s newest and most rebellious vassal planet. His future husband, Count Jainan, is a widower and murder suspect.

The Caladan Trilogy by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

If you loved the latest film adaptation of Dune, why not consider checking out what more the universe has to offer? Tor is in the midst of publishing a prequel series about House Atreides’ rise to power and just how they made their enemies along the way. Dune: The Duke of Caladan and Dune: The Lady of Caladan are available now and look for Dune: The Heir of Caladan next fall in 2022.

Which book are you reading first? Let us know in the comments! 

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$2.99 eBook Sale: October 18-24, 2021

Ready for some ebook deals?! Check out which books you can snag for only $2.99 from October 18-24!


Image Place holder  of - 42Hunters of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Hunters of Dune and the concluding volume, Sandworms of Dune, bring together the great story lines and beloved characters in Frank Herbert’s classic Dune universe, ranging from the time of the Butlerian Jihad to the original Dune series and beyond. Based directly on Frank Herbert’s final outline, which lay hidden in a safe-deposit box for a decade, these two volumes will finally answer the urgent questions Dune fans have been debating for two decades.

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Poster Placeholder of - 94Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Prince Kiem, a famously disappointing minor royal and the Emperor’s least favorite grandchild, has been called upon to be useful for once. He’s commanded to fulfill an obligation of marriage to the representative of the Empire’s newest and most rebellious vassal planet. His future husband, Count Jainan, is a widower and murder suspect. Neither wants to be wed, but with a conspiracy unfolding around them and the fate of the empire at stake they will have to navigate the thorns and barbs of court intrigue, the machinations of war, and the long shadows of Jainan’s past, and they’ll have to do it together.

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Image Placeholder of - 91Old 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. Far from Earth, a war has gone on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force, which shields the home planet from too much knowledge of the situation. What’s known to everybody is that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. If you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own. John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine-and what he will become is far stranger.

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Place holder  of - 88The 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. For every blow against the invaders is a blow to the humanity of the Athsheans. And once the killing starts, there is no turning back.

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Deadmen 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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Magic 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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Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the “Sliver of Infinity,” reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler’s most hellish prison. Kelsier “snapped” and found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark.

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Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Nina is an information broker with a mission—she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America. Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive. They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…Or they could do the impossible: team up.

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The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

In The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley, the emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods.

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Disciple by Walter Mosley

Hogarth “Trent” Tryman is a forty-two-year-old man working a dead-end data entry job. Though he lives alone and has no real friends besides his mother, he’s grown quite content in his quiet life, burning away time with television, the internet, and video games. That all changes the night he receives a bizarre instant message on his computer from a man who calls himself Bron. At first he thinks it’s a joke, but in just a matter of days Hogarth Tryman goes from a data-entry clerk to the head of a corporation. His fate is now in very powerful hands as he realizes he has become a pawn in a much larger game with unimaginable stakes—a battle that threatens the prime life force on Earth.

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Every Tor Book Coming Fall 2021

What is that in the air? Freshly fallen leaves? The smell of pumpkin spice? Oh wait, it’s the sound of brand new books dropping! Check out every book coming from Tor Books this fall here.


September 14

Poster Placeholder of - 57Mordew by Alex Pheby

God is dead, his corpse hidden in the catacombs beneath Mordew. In the slums of the sea-battered city, a young boy called Nathan Treeves lives with his parents, eking out a meagre existence by picking treasures from the Living Mud and the half-formed, short-lived creatures it spawns. Until one day his desperate mother sells him to the mysterious Master of Mordew. The Master derives his magical power from feeding on the corpse of God. But Nathan, despite his fear and lowly station, has his own strength—and it is greater than the Master has ever known.

September 21

Place holder  of - 20Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead. And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead. But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days. Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home.

Image Placeholder of - 44Dune: The Lady of Caladan by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Lady Jessica, mother of Paul, and consort to Leto Atreides. The choices she made shaped an empire, but first the Lady of Caladan must reckon with her own betrayal of the Bene Gesserit. She has already betrayed her ancient order, but now she must decide if her loyalty to the Sisterhood is more important than the love of her own family. Meanwhile, events in the greater empire are accelerating beyond the control of even the Reverend Mother, and Lady Jessica’s family is on a collision course with destiny.

September 28

Placeholder of  -37Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka’s ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She’s found her final candidate. But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn’t have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan’s kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul’s worth.

Image Place holder  of - 10Invisible Sun by Charles Stross

An inter-timeline coup d’état gone awry. A renegade British monarch on the run through the streets of Berlin. And robotic alien invaders from a distant timeline flood through a wormhole, wreaking havoc in the USA. Can disgraced worldwalker Rita and her intertemporal extraordaire agent of a mother neutralize the livewire contention before it’s too late?

October 5

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Special Edition by V. E. Schwab

A gorgeous new collector’s edition of V. E. Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, including: six new pieces of art from Addie’s story never-before-seen to North America readers; designed alternate debossed stamp under the cover; ribbon bookmark; an exclusive note from the author. In the vein of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Life After LifeThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab’s genre-defying tour de force.

The Eye of the World, TV Tie-In by Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs–a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts–five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light. Soon to be an original series starring Rosamund Pike as Moiraine!

October 12

Destroyer of Light by Jennifer Marie Brissett

Having destroyed Earth, the alien conquerors resettle the remains of humanity on the planet of Eleusis. In the three habitable areas of the planet–Day, Dusk, and Night–the haves and have nots, criminals and dissidents, and former alien conquerors irrevocably bind three stories, skating across years, building to a single confrontation when the fate of all—human and alien—balances upon a knife’s-edge. Warning: This book is designed for audiences 18+ due to scenes of physical and sexual violence, and themes that some may find disturbing.

October 19

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, Paperback by Christopher Paolini 

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move. As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human. While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . . New York Times bestseller To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is out in paperback on 10/19!

October 26

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

After forming a coalition of human resistance against the enemy invasion, Dalinar Kholin and his Knights Radiant have spent a year fighting a protracted, brutal war. Neither side has gained an advantage, and the threat of a betrayal by Dalinar’s crafty ally Taravangian looms over every strategic move. Now, as new technological discoveries by Navani Kholin’s scholars begin to change the face of the war, the enemy prepares a bold and dangerous operation. The arms race that follows will challenge the very core of the Radiant ideals, and potentially reveal the secrets of the ancient tower that was once the heart of their strength. #1 New York Times bestseller Rhythm of War is out in paperback on 10/26!

The Wandering Earth by Cixin Liu

These eleven stories, including five Chinese Galaxy Award-winners, are a blazingly original ode to planet Earth, its pasts, and its futures. Liu’s fiction takes the reader to the edge of the universe and the end of time, to meet stranger fates than we could have ever imagined. With a melancholic and keen understanding of human nature, Liu’s stories show humanity’s attempts to reason, navigate, and above all, survive in a desolate cosmos.

November 2

Perhaps the Stars by Ada Palmer

In the future, the leaders of Hive nations—nations without fixed location—clandestinely committed nefarious deeds in order to maintain an outward semblance of utopian stability. But the facade could only last so long. The comforts of effortless global travel and worldwide abundance may have tempered humanity’s darkest inclinations, but conflict remains deeply rooted in the human psyche. Now, war spreads throughout the globe, splintering old alliances and awakening sleeping enmities. All transportation systems are in ruins, causing the tyranny of distance to fracture a long-united Earth and threaten to obliterate everything the Hive system built.

November 9

The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Teresa Patterson

In this series companion book, over eighty full color paintings include maps of the world, portraits of the central characters, landscapes, objects of Power, and national flags. The reader will learn about the exotic beasts used by the Seanchan, witness the rise and fall of Artur Hawking, peruse the deeper story of the War of the Shadow, and discover the tale of the founding of the White Tower, and the creation of the Ajahs. In a new hardcover edition with a beautiful updated cover, The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time is a must-buy for devoted fans of the series and newcomers alike.

November 16

The God is Not Willing by Steven Erikson

Many years have passed since three warriors brought carnage and chaos to Silver Lake. Now the tribes of the north no longer venture into the southlands. The town has recovered and yet the legacy remains. Responding to reports of a growing unease among the tribes beyond the border, the Malazan army marches on the new god’s people. They aren’t quite sure what they’re going to be facing. And in those high mountains, a new warleader has risen amongst the Teblor. Scarred by the deeds of Karsa Orlong, he intends to confront his god even if he has to cut a bloody swathe through the Malazan Empire to do so.

Even Greater Mistakes by Charlie Jane Anders

The woman who can see all possible futures is dating the man who can see the one and only foreordained future. A wildly popular slapstick filmmaker is drawn, against his better judgment, into working with a fascist militia, against a background of social collapse. Two friends must embark on an Epic Quest To Capture The Weapon That Threatens The Galaxy, or else they’ll never achieve their dream of opening a restaurant. The stories in this collection, by their very outrageousness, achieve a heightened realism unlike any other. Anders once again proves she is one of the strongest voices in modern science fiction, the writer called by Andrew Sean Greer, “this generation’s Le Guin.”

You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo

TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that’s just how Niko Larson, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it. Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance. But, some wars can’t ever be escaped, and unlike the Hive Mind, some enemies aren’t content to let old soldiers go. Niko and her crew are forced onto a sentient ship convinced that it is being stolen and must survive the machinations of a sadistic pirate king if they even hope to keep the dream of The Last Chance alive.

Death Draws Five edited by George R. R. Martin

It’s really quite simple. Mr. Nobody wants to do his job. The Midnight Angel wants to serve her Lord. Billy Ray, dying from boredom, wants some action. John Nighthawk wants to uncover the awful secret behind his mysterious power. Fortunato wants to rescue his son from the clutches of a cryptic Vatican office. John Fortune just wants to catch Siegfried and Ralph’s famous Vegas review. The problem is that all roads, whether they start in Turin, Italy, Las Vegas, Hokkaido, Japan, Jokertown, Snake Hill, the Short Cut, or Yazoo City, Mississippi, lead to Leo Barnett’s Peaceable Kingdom, where the difference between the Apocalypse and Peace on Earth is as thin as a razor’s edge and where Death himself awaits the final, terrible turn of the card.

The Last Shadow by Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card’s The Last Shadow is the long-awaited conclusion to both the original Ender series and the Ender’s Shadow series, as the children of Ender and Bean solve the great problem of the Ender Universe—the deadly virus they call the descolada, which is incurable and will kill all of humanity if it is allowed to escape from Lusitania.

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Excerpt: Dune: The Lady of Caladan

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Placeholder of  -56From Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, Dune: The Lady of Caladan is a brand new novel in the internationally bestselling Dune series.

Lady Jessica, mother of Paul, and consort to Leto Atreides. The choices she made shaped an empire, but first the Lady of Caladan must reckon with her own betrayal of the Bene Gesserit. She has already betrayed her ancient order, but now she must decide if her loyalty to the Sisterhood is more important than the love of her own family.

Meanwhile, events in the greater empire are accelerating beyond the control of even the Reverend Mother, and Lady Jessica’s family is on a collision course with destiny.

Please enjoy this free excerpt of Dune: The Lady of Caladan, on sale 09/21/2021.


Chapter 1

The Kwisatz Haderach breeding program was designed to benefit humanity, but at what cost? At what human cost?

LADY JESSICA, private journals

In her mind and heart, Jessica found herself at the bottom of an abyss. Each moment took her farther from Caladan, Duke Leto, and Paul.

After receiving the Bene Gesserit ultimatum, and the threat against her family, Jessica had crossed star systems in a Spacing Guild Heighliner, brought back to Wallach IX like a recalcitrant child. She felt no warm homecoming as she rode a shuttle down from the huge orbiting ship to the Sisterhood’s dreary, cold homeworld.

Would she ever see Caladan again? Or Leto or Paul? She shifted her position on the hard seat of the shuttle. Maybe the answer to that question depended on what Mother Superior Harishka wanted from her.

Exceptionally strong side winds buffeted the vessel, which made the pilot change his descent and swoop around, rising higher until the turbulence abated. Other passengers muttered a drone of unease, but Jessica remained silent. She had her own turbulence to deal with.

As she looked out the diamond-shaped windowport, the roiling clouds mirrored her troubled mind. She resented the iron control that the Sisterhood exerted over her. She had been separate from them many years, imagining herself independent on Caladan, but they had cracked the whip. The Bene Gesserit summons had left no room for discussion. Reverend Mother Mohiam had threatened to destroy the Duke and the future of House Atreides if she didn’t obey, and the Sisterhood certainly had the means to do so.

They wanted Jessica for their own purposes, had withdrawn her—permanently?—from Caladan. Never in her life had she felt so dismal, separated from everyone and everything she loved. But she did not intend to meekly comply.

The shuttle rocked again in the unsettled air and began to descend again after circumventing the storm, and Jessica saw they were approaching the Mother School complex below. Through a veil of tangled clouds, she made out the ancient buildings and new annexes, the angles of red-tiled roofs, the low underbrush that covered the grounds. The foliage had turned a bright scarlet and orange with autumn colors. The structures were connected, like the countless women in the Sisterhood, all part of an intricate and powerful political machine.

Jessica had been here since infancy, parentless, and the Sisterhood had raised her, indoctrinated her, and enfolded her life from birth until her inevitable death. The Bene Gesserit owned her.

Using some of the very methods taught to her at the Mother School, Jessica concentrated on a breathing exercise that brought clarity and calm. She felt her muscles relax. She had to be at her best and sharpest to face whatever came next.

As she centered herself, the turbulence around the shuttle smoothed, and the remaining clouds parted over the landing zone on the perimeter of the complex. Still wearing garments from Caladan, Jessica felt out of place, but soon they would make her change into the school’s traditional dark garb, to remind her that she was still one of them, always one of them.

Wallach IX, with its weak sun and chill climate, had long been a place where young women of the order either rose to the challenges, or failed. Jessica felt an odd nostalgia for the ancient training center, torn by her loyalties to the Sisterhood and her family. She had spent so many years here, soft clay for them to shape as they chose, finally assigning her as the bound concubine of a young Duke with great potential.

And now she was back. She felt a deep sense of foreboding.

 

Mother Superior Harishka greeted her in person on the tarmac. The Mother Superior had piercing eyes and a severe, uncompromising demeanor. Despite her age, the old woman’s skin was remarkably tight and smooth, possibly from the geriatric effects of the melange she consumed regularly. She had filled the same role for decades, after a lifetime of service to the order. “Come with me. You are needed immediately.” She didn’t explain about the urgent matter that had turned Jessica’s life upside down.

Despite her advanced years, Harishka set a brisk pace, moving like a military commander leading a charge against enemy lines. They entered a large new administration building that had been built with a generous donation from old Viscount Alfred Tull, whose name was on a plaque by the entrance. “I want you to see this first, before you attempt to settle in. We may not have much time,” Harishka said. “You need to know the reason you are here, and why it is so important.”

Yes, she thought. I need to know that.

As Jessica followed them up wide stairs and down long corridors, she absorbed peripheral details, but did not ask questions, though a desperate curiosity clamored inside. In an isolated section of the third floor, Harishka led her to a viewing window that looked into a large medical chamber with a closed door. Two other Sisters remained there, outside the plaz like guardians, but Jessica stepped up to the window, determined to see.

Harishka explained, “The room is sealed and barricaded, but do not underestimate the danger. This is clear armored plaz, and she can see us now if she is alert enough, but for our protection we can always set it to one-way plaz if necessary.”

With all the precautions taken, Jessica expected to see some kind of caged monster inside. Instead, she saw an ancient woman stretched on a bed, tossing restlessly in her sleep. She wore only a medical gown, with tubes and monitors connected to her. Her face was drawn back in a grimace, and she cried out, but the thick plaz blocked all sound. Despite the wrinkles on her age-spotted neck, arms, and hands, her face was not nearly as shriveled as her body.

Jessica didn’t understand. “She . . . is the danger? What does this have to do with me?”

The Mother Superior gave an oblique answer. “This is Lethea, a former Kwisatz Mother. Now she serves in a different capacity for as long as she remains alive . . . and for as long as she withholds what we need.”

Kwisatz Mother. Jessica remembered Shaddam Corrino’s first wife, Anirul, who had been present during Paul’s birth, who had been greatly interested in the boy child. Anirul had been a Bene Gesserit of “hidden rank,” but quietly held the same title. She had died very shortly after Paul was born.

“And what does a Kwisatz Mother do?” Jessica asked. And why did she have the power to summon me?

“Like a Guild Navigator foreseeing safe pathways throughout the stars, so a Kwisatz Mother can see each thread in the immense tapestry of our breeding plans. Lethea was relieved of duty due to mental instability. She is still useful—even if she is dangerous.”

Jessica couldn’t tear her gaze from the crone writhing on the medical bed, locked away alone. Lethea seemed barely able to move. “Dangerous?”

Harishka stared ahead, as if her gaze could bore through the barrier. “She has already murdered several of us. Hence the need for all the security.”

The Mother Superior nodded to one of the two women stationed there to watch Lethea. She was in her thirties with black hair and an olive complexion. “Sister Jiara has watched Lethea closely, but I’m afraid she has few answers.”

Jiara looked through the plaz. “Her mind is crumbling, but it is still incredibly powerful.” She paused just a beat. “Enough to kill several Sisters through her sheer force of will.”

As if sensing their presence, Lethea’s eyes opened to narrow slits, and she stared directly at Jessica from the other side of the armored room. Jessica shuddered. “Why do you need her? What is so important?”

“Lethea has a special prescience the Sisterhood needs, a predictive ability about the future of our order. It has proven to be accurate, and valuable to us, enabling us to make calculated decisions. That is why we keep her alive, despite the danger. But her mental gift comes and goes, and Lethea is losing control of it.”

“She is out of her mind,” Jiara added, sounding bitter. “But she insisted that we bring you here.”

Jessica had so many questions that she could no longer contain them. “What does this have to do with me? I’ve never met this Kwisatz Mother.”

Harishka turned toward Jessica and said, “You are here because Lethea said, ‘Take her away. Our future depends on it.’ Then she insisted that you be separated from your son. She says you could bring about the end of the Sisterhood.”

Jessica felt as if she had fallen off a ledge. “Separate me from Paul?” This made absolutely no sense at all. “Why? For what purpose?”

Harishka’s expression fell. ”We need you to discover the answer. She predicted horror, bloodshed, disaster. That’s why we called you here so urgently.”

Behind the plaz wall, Lethea’s gaze held on Jessica, then shifted to glare at Mother Superior Harishka, Jiara, and at the other Sister. Finally, the old woman closed her eyes and sagged like a rag onto the medical bed.

“She’s a crafty one,” Jiara whispered. “Look at her. She wants to kill more of us, if given the chance.”

“Is she really asleep at last?” the other Sister asked.

Harishka touched a button on the wall, and with a quiet hiss, the door to the medical room opened. She called for three Medical Sisters, who rushed down the hall. “Attend to her now, quickly, while you can.” The trio hurried in, rolling a machine and hooked it to the old woman, adding tubes and lines, but trying not to disturb her. Two of the Sisters took readings, while the third remained alert, as if ready for an attack.

“Intravenous feeder,” Harishka explained to Jessica. “Lethea refuses to eat on her own. We keep her alive, no matter how much she objects. And we expect you to pry answers from her.”

The two women worked quickly, but as they were unhooking the feeding tube, the patient stirred. Alarmed, the Medical Sisters abandoned the feeding machine and bolted for the door.

Lethea snapped fully awake and called out in a strange way, “Stop!”

Jessica recognized the irresistible power of Voice. Was this how she killed?

Two Sisters had made it through the door, but the third, the one who had been guarding them, jerked to a sudden stop. Terrified, she struggled, but could not move, as if snagged by a lasso. Her companions turned and grabbed her, dragging her out into the corridor, then slammed the door behind them.

Thrashing on her medical bed, Lethea glowered at the window.

“We have to send in teams of three,” Harishka said. “She only seems able to control the mind of one Sister at a time, and this way, the other two can stop a victim from killing herself.”

“It’s a game to her,” said Jiara, “seeing if she can catch one of us alone.”

Lethea shot a hostile, terrifying gaze through the window at Jessica, but Jessica refused to turn away, meeting the stare with her own. “Is that why Lethea demanded to see me? Because she wants to kill me?”

“It is possible,” the Mother Superior said. “Very possible.”

Chapter 2

House Atreides has always measured its worth in terms of our honor, not the extent of our holdings. In what matters to us, we are far richer than any other House in the Landsraad.

LETO ATREIDES, upon assuming the title of Duke of Caladan

All primary Guild routes eventually made their way to Kaitain, the glittering Imperial capital.

Traveling aboard a Heighliner from distant Caladan, Duke Leto Atreides rode in his family’s lavishly appointed frigate. His staff of retainers, far larger than he needed, wore green and black, each tunic or jacket sporting the prominent Atreides hawk. This show of ostentation was not at all what the Landsraad had come to expect from the Duke of Caladan.

After the recent Otorio terrorist attack, the rules of the Imperium had changed. And after the trouble involving Jessica . . . He felt a wave of emotion. After Jessica, Leto himself had changed. He was a different man with a new purpose and priorities. He had embraced long-ignored ambitions for his House and his son, and he clung to that new determination. It was all he had left.

The Atreides protocol minister, a thin and unconfident man named Eli Conyer, filled out forms during the transit, and when the Guild ship dispatched the mob of frigates, shuttles, and passenger craft into Kaitain orbit, Conyer broadcast an announcement of the Duke’s arrival. He insisted on the proper welcoming formalities, transmitting notices to the Landsraad secretary and the Imperial Palace as well as to news and informational outlets.

On the passenger deck of the Atreides frigate, Conyer could not hide his smile. “Everything as befits your station, my Lord. The capital will know that the Duke of Caladan has come!” He said it as if some messiah had arrived.

Not long ago, when he had attended the inauguration of the garish Corrino museum on Otorio, Leto had rolled his eyes at the popinjay nobles who flaunted themselves in hopes of being noticed by Shaddam Corrino IV. Now he was in danger of acting just like them.

Leto was not comfortable with so much attention, but this was, after all, what he had instructed the minister to do. This was his first foray into building more prominence for House Atreides. “Doesn’t every Landsraad noble do the same thing?”

Conyer huffed. “It is common practice, Sire, but you have not previously done so. Therefore, this visit is noteworthy.”

All his life, Leto had been content to be a good leader of his own people, choosing the course of honor and raising his son in a similar fashion. Because of that, though, much wealth and power—and therefore security for House Atreides—had slipped through his fingers. He had missed many opportunities. What if he had diminished his legacy for Paul? Leto wondered if other nobles secretly considered him inept in the realm of political games.

The terrorist attack by Jaxson Aru had left numerous vacancies in the Landsraad, and nobles vied for them like pigs at a feeding trough. Leto refused to be like that, but he realized he didn’t have to be weak either. He had come to Kaitain to claim some of what House Atreides deserved. It was long overdue.

Conyer studied a screen and smiled. “I arranged for a reception guard and an escort to meet us at the Imperial Spaceport, Sire.” He looked away, seemingly embarrassed. “It was a contract service, but well within our budget.”

“You did well,” Leto said as the ornate ship settled down in its designated zone. “Have adequate guest quarters been arranged for me and my retinue?”

Conyer looked offended. “Of course, my Lord! In the Promenade Wing of the palace, a fine suite with adjacent rooms for your retainers and security staff. You will be seen and noticed whenever you go about your daily business.”

The capital city was a showcase of governmental buildings, monuments, museums, towers, statuary, fountains, prisms, obelisks, archways, and sundials under clear climate-controlled skies. The cacophony and visual overload made Leto pause as he emerged from his own flashy frigate. He missed the sound of the outgoing tide on Caladan, the waves curling around the docks in the harbor town. He remembered walking with Jessica among the tide pools, pointing out sea anemones, scuttling crabs, and spiny starfish. He recalled a storm far out at sea, flashes of lightning in the clouds. . . .

Now, he steeled himself as he looked across the vast city and remembered his purpose here. Once he became a more powerful lord with expanded holdings, he could enjoy the ocean-side splendor of his ancestral planet again.

But it wouldn’t be with Jessica, not anymore. That relationship was broken irreparably, and the Bene Gesserit had formally recalled her to Wallach IX. He wondered if he would ever see her or speak with her again.

A squad of rigid troops marched toward the Atreides frigate looking like palace guards, but these were just the contract escorts that Conyer had arranged, so that Leto could make a big impression. A pair of bannermen held up a scarlet-and-gold flag with the Corrino lion alongside a green-and-black flag with the Atreides hawk. One guard bellowed out in a resonant voice, “Kaitain welcomes the Duke of Caladan!”

Twelve uniformed escorts bowed in unison, displaying well-practiced respect. On nearby landing zones, Leto noted additional passenger shuttles and private noble frigates, all landed from the same Heighliner. Similar contract reception committees greeted those visiting noblemen.

As his retainers followed him out of the frigate, Leto swept back his dark hair and raised his chin. With his aquiline nose and strong jaw, he cut a striking profile. He spoke a hard command to the hired escort guards, “Take me to the Imperial Palace, where Emperor Shaddam will see me.” He had no idea if that was true, and the haughty tone felt unnatural to him, but the uniformed attendants snapped to attention and whisked him off. Leto’s personal staff would transport his belongings to his new quarters.

He thought of his fourteen-year-old son, Paul—his heir, even though Paul was the child of a concubine rather than the issue of a legitimate marriage. Leto had refused to play those marriage games. His one attempt at such a political play had ended in bloodshed and tragedy at the wedding ceremony, and Leto had vowed never to put his family through that again. His family.

So much had changed.

Instead, Leto had turned his attention to reviewing possible marriage candidates for young Paul, but he had discovered to his surprise that some other nobles did not consider House Atreides important enough for a marriage alliance. A flash of anger heated Leto’s face at the memory of when Duke Fausto Verdun had sneered at the very idea that his daughter might marry Paul Atreides.

If he succeeded in his goal on Kaitain, though, that attitude would change.

As he entered the spectacular Imperial Palace, Leto was only one of hundreds of equally important visitors. The escort guards ushered him into the cavernous main foyer, but there they left him, their commission discharged. He suddenly felt like one petal of one flower in a broad mountain meadow. He drew little attention in the bustle of the Emperor’s court.

A surprisingly close voice startled him. “Ahhh, hmmm, my dear Duke Leto, I hoped I would intercept you here!” He turned to see a lean, dark-haired man with narrow features, large eyes, and a weak chin. The man’s black-and-purple garments had all the accessories expected of an important man at court. “Allow me to welcome you. I will assist you, as I can.”

Recognizing him, Leto gave a brief bow. “Count Fenring, I appreciate the gesture.” He paused, realized this was an unexpected opportunity. “You may be able to help with my business here on Kaitain.”

Hasimir Fenring was one of Emperor Shaddam’s closest friends and advisers. His formal title was Spice Minister on Arrakis, but he also spent much time scheming at court. He could certainly be a powerful ally for Leto, but he was not a man to be controlled, except by Shaddam. Why had he made a point of Leto?

The Count made a quick bow again. “Neither the Padishah Emperor nor I will ever forget how you saved us from that madman on Otorio. We escaped only because of your warning, and I am certain Shaddam will grant any favor you request.”

“Thank you. I came to Kaitain to try a different approach to earn a little more respect for House Atreides.” Leto drew a breath, pushed back his annoyance.

“More respect?” Fenring raised his eyebrows in question.

Even amid the colorful noise of the huge reception foyer, Leto spotted a dark-robed Bene Gesserit and froze—Reverend Mother Mohiam, the Emperor’s Truthsayer, gliding in close enough to eavesdrop. The wound of what the Sisters had done to Jessica, and to him, remained deep and raw. Leto pointedly shifted his position so that she looked only at his back.

“I apologize for my abrupt tone, Count Fenring. My family recently received a personal insult from another noble house, and I am quite upset.” He squared his shoulders, straightened his green-and-black cape.

Fenring didn’t seem to notice the old Reverend Mother. “An insult to your family? Ahhh, so it is kanly, then?”

The idea startled Leto. Duke Verdun may have disparaged him and his son, but Leto did not intend to escalate the bloody feud. “No, that is not my purpose here. Apparently, House Verdun considers my son unworthy as a suitor, and Duke Fausto does not deem House Atreides important enough in the Landsraad. I am here to see about expanding my wealth and influence so I can rectify that impression.”

“Ahhh, hmm . . .” Fenring’s lips curved in a smile. “Noblemen usually work around the edges and behind the scenes to gain influence, but you are so direct! I like that. Perhaps I can help you, Duke Leto. I have certain influence of my own and, of course, I have the Emperor’s ear.” He chuckled, revealing a secret. “But I would not worry about Duke Verdun!”

Out of the corner of his eye, Leto noticed the Truthsayer gliding closer. He asked, “Why is that?”

Fenring raised his eyebrows. “Ahhh, because House Verdun has been annihilated. Duke Fausto was a rebel and a traitor, working with the Noble Commonwealth rebellion. Emperor Shaddam punished him, and his entire family is dead.”

Leto caught his breath. He had not expected this.

 

Later that afternoon, inside Shaddam’s private contemplation quarters—where the Emperor did very little contemplating—Fenring revealed what Leto Atreides had told him about his purpose in coming to Kaitain.

With her raven hair, large eyes, and full lips, Empress Aricatha had Shaddam wrapped around her little finger. She remained by the doorway, intending to listen, but Fenring gave her an impatient look. He still hadn’t decided whether she was an ally or an enemy.

Shaddam lounged in a casual uniform that had far too much brocade to be comfortable. He made a dismissive gesture. “Let us have our discussions, my love. I will tell you anything you need to know afterward.”

Because he was watching so closely, Fenring saw the quick flash in Aricatha’s eyes before she gave a quick nod and slipped out the door.

When she was gone, Shaddam said, “So, my cousin Leto is finally interested in the power he could have had long ago. Shall we throw him a reward now for what he did on Otorio?” He ran a finger along his lower lip. “It would look good to the rest of the Landsraad.”

“Seeking power seems out of character for him,” Fenring said. “Is he setting himself up for some other purpose? Could he quietly be involved with the Noble Commonwealth himself? Leto Atreides is exactly the sort of noble the rebels would want to recruit.”

Shaddam scoffed. “Leto Atreides? A rebel and a traitor?”

Reverend Mother Mohiam also sat primly in a chair, waiting. Now she spoke up. “I was observing, and I can attest to his genuine shock upon hearing the fate of Duke Verdun. I studied his expressions, the tension in his muscles, his tone of voice. His antipathy was not feigned. If Fausto Verdun was a member of the rebellion, Leto Atreides did not see him as an ally.”

“I did not have a high opinion of Verdun either,” Shaddam said. “He was a hard man to like.” Then he laughed. “But the good and noble Duke Leto? I’ve often wished the man would display a bit more ambition and show a darker side to his personality. Then I would truly understand him.”

“That would make him more human,” Mohiam agreed. “Now that his concubine is gone, he will have time to consider other priorities.”

Fenring scratched the bridge of his nose. “Perhaps he is good at concealing his true nature, hmmm?”

Mohiam considered for a moment, then shook her head. “No, he is direct and authentic.”

Chapter 3

The danger posed by an enemy is directly proportional to the fear he instills.

Sardaukar battle training manual

Imperial gunships marked with Corrino scarlet and gold swarmed down on the planet Elegy. This was not a diplomatic entourage, but a terrible show of force. The Emperor’s Sardaukar troops would ensure the planetary governor’s cooperation and flush out the violent rebel leader Jaxson Aru.

Colonel Bashar Jopati Kolona was not even convinced that the terrorist was on Elegy, but Shaddam pursued every rumor swiftly and without mercy. Ten troop carriers holding hundreds of warriors under Kolona’s command landed like an avalanche on the Elegy spaceport. They filed no flight plans and requested no permission from the planetary control towers. The Sardaukar simply forced commercial traffic to get out of the way. Kolona did not so much issue orders as watch his wishes unfold with a deadly inevitability.

On the way down from the battle frigates in orbit, the colonel bashar had calmly transmitted his demand for Viscount Giandro Tull to meet the ships at his spaceport. Tull would find a way to be there, and to cooperate fully, or else face the consequences.

As soon as the ten gunships landed and opened their hatches, troops rushed across the landing zone, moving in a natural lockstep drawn from years of precision training. The gunships kept their weapon ports ready, and gunners monitored the targeting controls, ready to obliterate the entire spaceport should their commander give the order.

As he emerged from his flagship carrier, Kolona’s eyes adjusted to hazy sunlight. He drew in a deep breath of the oddly perfumed air from the ubiquitous lichen forests for which the planet was famous, then stepped forward, getting down to business.

As expected, Viscount Tull came to greet him. The nobleman had even managed to erect a staging area and a ribbon-bedecked reception platform at the edge of the landing field. He acted as if the Sardaukar crackdown was some kind of parade.

As a Sardaukar who had endured ruthless survival training on Salusa Secundus, Kolona was hyperaware of his surroundings, alert for any threat. His focus was like a lasgun targeting cross, centered on the Viscount.

Giandro Tull stood on the raised platform dressed in shimmering fabrics derived from the distinctive Elegy lichens that grew in prominent rock formations. The nobleman’s auburn hair was shoulder length, his features lean and handsome. His smile was artful, but artificial. He stood stock-still while Kolona approached in a dress uniform that was the epitome of military finery, the creases so crisp and sharp they could have been used as weapons.

Kolona and his honor guard of thirty soldiers wore personal shields and carried an array of long blades and short daggers, curved execution hooks, and throwing knives. Giandro Tull had brought only uneasy advisers dressed in lichen-scale finery; they stood uneasy, clearly hoping not to escalate the situation. Good, exactly as Jopati Kolona preferred.

The Viscount’s calm smile did not falter, and Kolona was impressed with his controlled demeanor. “To what do we owe this unexpected honor, Colonel Bashar?”

He answered with equal formality. “The Padishah Emperor sent us to investigate troubling reports that the criminal Jaxson Aru has been seen on Elegy. I am here to discover whether or not the rebel movement has contaminated your planet.”

Tull did not look shaken at all. “Wherever did you hear such nonsense?”

“I’m not at liberty to reveal the sources of our intelligence, my Lord.” Kolona did not actually know where the report had come from, but Shaddam had begun to see conspirators everywhere. Suspicion was reason enough to scrutinize, and the officer followed orders.

“I’d be happy to discuss this further.” Tull gave a brisk bow. “Let me invite you back to my manor house. I will provide a fine dinner, and you can share any evidence you may have against me. I am a loyal subject of the Imperium.”

The invitation took Kolona aback. “I am not here on a social visit, sir. That much should be apparent.”

The handsome Viscount’s voice hardened. “I am neither blind nor foolish, Colonel Bashar. I know that your Sardaukar already obliterated House Verdun on Dross, and the same thing could happen to my holdings.” His false smile widened. “Unless you feel there is a need to make this unpleasant, I prefer to have a cooperative conversation. You and your Sardaukar will have any reassurances you may need to dispense with this nonsense, so you can be on your way as soon as possible.”

Kolona gestured to his honor guard. “My troops will disperse throughout the city and travel to smaller villages where Jaxson Aru or his rebels may be hiding. The Sardaukar will commence observations and conduct any necessary interrogations.”

Viscount Tull swallowed visibly. “Please reassure me that your soldiers will follow strict protocol and cause no unnecessary damage.”

Kolona gave the only possible answer. “They are Sardaukar.”

His soldiers swept out like flechettes from a scattershot weapon and descended upon the Elegy capital, chasing down whispers and gossip. Viscount Tull was very careful in his actions, and Kolona appreciated that. The colonel bashar hated to inflict needless violence, death, and destruction as had happened to House Verdun.

He also remembered how, years ago, a similar swift and unexpected operation led by Duke Paulus Atreides had obliterated the Kolona family and their holdings. . . .

 

Inside the manor house, the lavish banquet did not impress Jopati Kolona. A life spent subsisting on nutrient-dense rations had erased his appreciation for gourmet tastes, but the officer played his role as if he were enduring a military function. Knowing it would not be in Tull’s interest to poison him, Kolona took an adequate number of bites so as not to be considered rude, and he was not interested in light conversation.

The two men sat alone in a private banquet room decorated with ornamental mist-fountains and sawtooth bouquets of lichen. Without speaking, servants delivered plate after plate of food, setting the courses down and then departing.

“I could take you to my stables to show you my fine horses, the rarest of breeds from bloodlines traced all the way back to Old Earth.” Tull smiled. “A military man such as yourself should appreciate the fine quality of these mounts.”

“Sardaukar do not often ride beasts,” Kolona said. “And this is not a social visit.” His Sardaukar would find out any truth to the rumors.

Still waiting for explanations, Tull finally said, “So, will you reveal why I’ve come under the Emperor’s suspicions?”

“Many reasons. Primarily because you were conveniently absent from the Otorio gala during Jaxson Aru’s terrorist attack. Many Landsraad nobles attended to show their support for the Emperor, yet you were noticeably absent—and therefore survived. Did you perhaps know ahead of time about the imminent attack?”

Now Tull lost his composure. “My father had just died, sir! All of Elegy was in shock, and I had to secure political control. You think I somehow concocted his death as an excuse?” His voice broke with anger.

Kolona did not let his expression change. “It is a possible scenario. Knowing about the attack, you could have seized the opportunity to overthrow your father and take control of House Tull.”

Tull looked convincingly sick. “I find that suggestion offensive from a Sardaukar officer, and simply from a human being.”

Kolona picked at his food before continuing. “Also, the Emperor’s Truthsayer voiced certain suspicions regarding your new tenure at House Tull. She claims to see hints in your mannerisms, things that only she could detect. The Emperor listens to her.”

Now the Viscount scoffed. “Reverend Mother Mohiam’s comments are tainted. She is a Bene Gesserit, and the Sisterhood has an open dispute with me. The motives of the Bene Gesserit are childishly transparent, and I would place little stock in them.”

He sniffed, then continued, “The witches had my father in their thrall all of his life, and he gave them large sums, which they used for construction at their Mother School. A waste of our family fortune, if you ask me! When my father died, I cut off their funding and expelled his concubine. The witch tried to seduce me before my father’s bed was even cold.” Tull appeared nauseated, and his voice seemed harsher. “If you do not already know these things about me, Colonel Bashar, I am not impressed with your abilities as an investigator.”

Kolona gave a nod of respect. Of course he had known those details.

Viscount Tull waited, then pressed with an edge in his voice, “Anything else?”

“The Emperor is concerned about your close business ties with House Verdun. According to CHOAM public records, your commercial activities are intertwined.”

“Naturally they are. Despite the beauty of our capital world and the profits we make from cultivating our rare lichens, we focus on extraplanetary industries. We extract base metals in our asteroid belt and send the ores to Dross for processing.” Tull’s expression darkened. “Your strike on House Verdun was a severe commercial blow to my people, and I have filed a formal complaint with the Landsraad Council.”

“How do we know your supposed commercial activities are not a way to fund the Noble Commonwealth movement?” Kolona asked.

Tull retorted, “How do we know that Fausto Verdun was a traitor at all? I have yet to see any proof shared with the Landsraad after the summary execution of the Duke and his entire family.” His anger was barely contained.

Kolona maintained a neutral expression. He, too, was highly skeptical of Tull’s guilt, but a Sardaukar could not express any reservations about what the Emperor commanded him to do. “The evidence was sufficient in my view.”

Tull looked openly angry. “All those people slaughtered, no trial, no evidence presented, no chance for appeal, and I am just supposed to take your word for it?”

“Take Emperor Shaddam’s word for it,” Kolona said, and that effectively ended the conversation.

They ate and drank in silence. In a subdued, bitter voice Tull said, “Investigate here all you wish, Colonel Bashar, but you’ll find no evidence of rebellion.” He pushed aside his plate, signaling that the meal was over. “Unless you fabricate it.”

Kolona again gave the implacable answer. “We are Sardaukar.” It was not an outright denial, but he meant it as such.

The officer took his leave of the extravagant manor house and returned to the personnel carrier at the spaceport, where he set up a field command post.

His troops remained for four more days, thorough in their inquiries, but they found no damning evidence. Jopati Kolona was secretly relieved.

Copyright © Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson 2021

Pre-order The Exiled Fleet Here:

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$2.99 eBook Sale: December 2020

The holiday season is finally here and we’re giving you TONS of monthly ebook deals to brighten up your season. Check out which of our favorite SFF books you can snag for only $2.99 throughout the entire month of December here!


Image Placeholder of - 99Gamechanger by L. X. Beckett

Rubi Whiting is a member of the Bounceback Generation. The first to be raised free of the troubles of the late twenty-first century. Now she works as a public defender to help troubled individuals with anti-social behavior. That’s how she met Luciano Pox. Luce is a firebrand and has made a name for himself as a naysayer. But there’s more to him than being a lightning rod for controversy. Rubi has to find out why the governments of the world want to bring Luce into custody, and why Luce is hell bent on stopping the recovery of the planet.

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Poster Placeholder of - 42Spine of the Dragon by Kevin J. Anderson

Two continents at war, the Three Kingdoms and Ishara, are divided by past bloodshed. When an outside threat arises—the reawakening of a powerful ancient race that wants to remake the world—the two warring nations must somehow set aside generational hatreds and form an alliance to fight their true enemy.

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Image Place holder  of - 14Wild Cards IX: Jokertown Shuffle edited by George R. R. Martin

Bloat, the boy-governor of the Rox, wanted to make Ellis Island a safe haven for Jokers, and made a choice to recruit the Jumpers, superpowered teen outcasts who could steal a man’s body in the blink of an eye. But under the leadership of Dr. Tachyon’s psychotic grandson, the Jumpers grow more vicious and uncontrollable every day, becoming the greatest threat the Wild Cards have ever faced….

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Place holder  of - 5Glorious by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven

Audacious astronauts encounter bizarre, sometimes deadly life forms, and strange, exotic, cosmic phenomena, including miniature black holes, dense fields of interstellar plasma, powerful gravity-emitters, and spectacularly massive space-based, alien-built labyrinths. Tasked with exploring this brave, new, highly dangerous world, they must also deal with their own personal triumphs and conflicts.

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Placeholder of  -71Interlibrary Loan by Gene Wolfe

Hundreds of years in the future our civilization is shrunk down but we go on. There is advanced technology, there are robots. And there are clones. E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person, his personality an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human. As such, Smithe can be loaned to other branches. Along with two fellow reclones, they are shipped to Polly’s Cove, where Smithe meets a little girl who wants to save her mother, a father who is dead but perhaps not. And another E.A. Smithe… who definitely is.

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The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

Csorwe does—she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice. But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power. But Csorwe will soon learn—gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

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The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer

New York 1905—The Vanderbilts. The Astors. The Morgans. They are the cream of society—and they own the nation on the cusp of a new century. Thalia Cutler doesn’t have any of those family connections. What she does know is stage magic and she dazzles audiences with an act that takes your breath away. That is, until one night when a trick goes horribly awry. In surviving she discovers that she can shapeshift, and has the potential to take her place among the rich and powerful. But first, she’ll have to learn to control that power…before the real monsters descend to feast.

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The Bard’s Blade by Brian D. Anderson

Mariyah enjoys a simple life in Vylari, a land magically sealed off from the outside world, where fear and hatred are all but unknown. There she’s a renowned wine maker and her betrothed, Lem, is a musician of rare talent. Their destiny has never been in question. Whatever life brings, they will face it together. Then a stranger crosses the wards into Vylari for the first time in centuries, bringing a dark prophecy that forces Lem and Mariyah down separate paths. How far will they have to go to stop a rising darkness and save their home? And how much of themselves will they have to give up along the way?

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Dune: Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Humans have managed to battle the remorseless Machines to a standstill . . . but victory may be short-lived. Yet amid shortsighted squabbling between nobles, new leaders have begun to emerge. Among them are Xavier Harkonnen, military leader of the Planet of Salusa Secundus; Xavier’s fiancée, Serena Butler, an activist who will become the unwilling leader of millions; and Tio Holtzman, the scientist struggling to devise a weapon that will help the human cause. Against the brute efficiency of their adversaries, these leaders and the human race have only imagination, compassion, and the capacity for love. It will have to be enough.

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Dreamer of Dune by Brian Herbert

Everyone knows Frank Herbert’s Dune. This amazing and complex epic, combining politics, religion, human evolution, and ecology, has captured the imagination of generations of readers. One of the most popular science fiction novels ever written, it has become a worldwide phenomenon, winning awards, selling millions of copies around the world. Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert’s eldest son, tells the provocative story of his father’s extraordinary life in this honest and loving chronicle.

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SFF Books to Gift Every Member of Your Weird and Cranky Family

‘Tis the season for yearly awkward family holiday interactions! And what’s more stressful than trying to find that perfect gift for blood relatives? Is your mom forbidding you from giving your terrible aunt a bottle of $15 Chardonnay for the fourth year in a row? We’ve got you covered—check out our extremely helpful and entirely appropriate holiday gift guide to help *inspire* you!

By Rachel Taylor and a bunch of raccoons in a trench coat


For your wine aunt

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Oh, the wine aunts. We love them so much because a) they know how to have a good time and b) they are super easy to shop for because, wine! But your mom is complaining that no, you cannot get your aunt a bottle of Chardonnay for the sixth year in a row. So why not get them a great book they can enjoy while sipping a glass of the good stuff? Gift them The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab! It’s fun, sexy, and a little bit fantastical and makes for a great wordy wine pairing.

For you gay cousin

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On the off chance you aren’t the gay cousin yourself, boy, have we got recommendations for you! Because as everyone except NASA knows, space is gay.

You should get them this year’s Hugo Award winner A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine or Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott. Come for the epic space empire politics, stay for the powerful queer ladies.

For grandma’s ghost

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So, grandma’s a ghost. This is fine. You can still get ghost grandma a gift. She’ll appreciate anything you give her! We suggest You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce. Horror/thrillers might not have been grandma’s jam when she was chilling in the world of the living, but now that she’s shuffled off this mortal coil, she needs IDEAS on how to conduct her hauntings! This book will give her some great spooky ideas, and maybe she’ll be inspired to rejoin this sphere as one of the fae. And look, now you’re her favorite grandchild for showing her how to come back, and you’ll probably be spared from some malicious fairy tricks! We’re calling that a win. 

For your goth nephew

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We get it Cameron, Aunt Dierdre sucks for not letting you get a lip ring. We’ve got just the thing to distract you from all these squares. Necromancers in a haunted space castle! The first two books of The Locked Tomb Trilogy, Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, are just what your goth nephew needs. 

For your evil twin

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If you’re unlucky lucky enough to have a twin, you are either besties or worsties. Get them The Murders of Molly Southborne by Tade Thompson, featuring a girl who grows murderous identical clones every time she bleeds and has to fight them all to the death. It works as both a thoughtful gift and a threat depending on your existing twin relationship.

For your mom, to distract her from the fact that no one is having a good time

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Mom spent so many hours on the latkes but everyone is yelling and now she is sad. But you are her favorite child and you anticipated smoothing this situation with a sweet and fantastical gift: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. 

Is your sister still breaking her heart? Is your stepfather still hiding in the basement because he never learned to process negative emotions? Sure. But now she’s distracted by a book that is basically the literary equivalent of a warm hug! In The House in the Cerulean Sea, she will find children that are not disappointments to her, and of course a heartwarming tale of magic and found family.

For your younger sibling that’s venturing out for the first time

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It’s your baby sibling’s first time going out into the big, wide world on their own :’) As the sibling you secretly love most, of course you want to provide them with something that will keep them entertained AND safe. May we suggest To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini? It has aliens, spaceships, AND it’s over 900 PAGES LONG. You know what that’s great for? Smacking someone foolish enough to try and jump your favorite sibling. BOOM, SELF-DEFENSE. Plus it’s full of first contact, space battles, and sentient space suits, so it’s sure to keep them entertained while they skip freshman orientation or make that first subway commute.

For your brother-in-law who simply MUST HAVE all the latest tech

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He wanted a smart microwave that he can control with his phone so he can have nachos the moment he walks in the door. You just want him to understand that anything ‘smart’ can be hacked and tech is well and good until your iFridge starts surveilling you. Get him Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow instead, a whip-smart cyber thriller that explores just how hard it is to stay hidden and private in a digital world, particularly when you cannot trust your government. By this time next year, he will be a security advocate and you can get him a Faraday bag.

For your grumpy grandpa

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Back in the day, kids used to have more RESPECT. This is what’s wrong with this country, all these hooligans doing whatever they want. Let’s give grandpa a break this year, shall we?

Hahahaha just kidding, give your grandpa Old Man’s War by John Scalzi and watch the fireworks. And when he flings it at your head, you will now own a great book! We’re all doing so well this holiday season. 

For your bored teen stepsister

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Wow, this family gathering really sucks and your little sis has NO CHILL letting everyone know how insanely bored she is. Which, can you blame her? Give her a mental escape from this excruciating party with mermaids, magic, and mystery. A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow will definitely give her the mental out she needs before your parents yell at her for playing with her phone all night. 

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Excerpt: Dune: The Duke of Caladan by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

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Placeholder of  -15A legend begins in Dune: The Duke of Caladan, first in The Caladan Trilogy by New York Times bestselling authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.

Leto Atreides, Duke of Caladan and father of the Muad’Dib. While all know of his fall and the rise of his son, little is known about the quiet ruler of Caladan and his partner Jessica. Or how a Duke of an inconsequential planet earned an emperor’s favor, the ire of House Harkonnen, and set himself on a collision course with his own death. This is the story.

Through patience and loyalty, Leto serves the Golden Lion Throne. Where others scheme, the Duke of Caladan acts. But Leto’s powerful enemies are starting to feel that he is rising beyond his station, and House Atreides rises too high. With unseen enemies circling, Leto must decide if the twin burdens of duty and honor are worth the price of his life, family, and love.

Please enjoy this free excerpt of Dune: The Duke of Caladan, on sale 10/13/2020.


The person with the fewest accomplishments often boasts the loudest.

CHOAM Analysis of Public Imperial Histories

He was far from home and did not want to be here, but when the Padishah Emperor invited all members of the Landsraad, Leto Atreides had to attend. He was the head of a House Major, the Duke of beautiful Caladan, and Shaddam’s distant cousin. His absence would have been noticed.

Fortunately, this trip did not require him to go to the gaudy, noisy capital world of Kaitain. The heart of the Imperium simply did not have room for the extravagant new memorial that the Emperor envisioned, so Shaddam had chosen a planet no one had ever heard of. He needed a place where his accomplishments could truly stand out, and Otorio served that purpose.

As the Guild Heighliner arrived over the new museum planet, Leto sat restlessly in the Atreides space yacht, which was carried aboard the gigantic Guild ship. A pilot and a few retainers accompanied him on the trip, but the Duke kept to himself inside his private stateroom. He had long, dark hair, piercing gray eyes, and an aquiline nose. His demeanor showed a confidence that would not be overshadowed by the spectacle of the new museum complex.

While the Heighliner orbited, smaller ships lined up to descend from the cavernous hold in an orderly fashion. Otorio was a formerly insignificant world that had fallen through the cracks, forgotten for centuries by travelers, businessmen, colonists, and Imperial auditors. Rustic, unsullied, and serene, it had been an isolated tide pool in the ocean of Imperial politics.

Now, though, the planet was home to a gigantic new complex celebrating ten millennia of House Corrino rule. The fact that Otorio held so little else of note meant that Shaddam’s congratulatory museum would stand out more prominently than anything on the entire world. Leto knew how the Emperor thought. Many nobles would strive to catch the Emperor’s attention, to build on their wealth, to increase their influence or bring down rivals. Leto had no such agenda. He had his own significant holdings, a stable rule, and had already drawn the attention of Shaddam IV, good and bad, in prior encounters. Duke Leto had nothing to prove, but he would do his duty by attending.

So many nobles had made the Otorio pilgrimage to curry favor with the Emperor, it would take hours for all ships to disembark one at a time, and the Atreides yacht was by no means near the head of the line.

Since leaving Caladan, the Duke had tried to distract himself by working in his stateroom, studying records of the moonfish harvest, accounts of private boats lost in a recent typhoon, a glowing summary of his son Paul’s physical and mental training. The Heighliner had traveled from system to system, rounding up passengers from various planets, because there was no direct Spacing Guild route to an insignificant world like Otorio. Shaddam intended to change that.

While waiting, Leto activated the wallscreen to view the planet below. Veils of clouds daubed the atmosphere above oceans and green-and-brown landmasses. Shaddam’s massive new complex would have caused fundamental changes to the quiet world. Construction crews had swarmed Otorio, completely reworking the only large population center. Countless square kilometers were paved over. Monuments and statues sprang up like an algae bloom during a red tide: government complexes, civic centers, interactive displays, coliseums, and auditoriums. Expansive new performance stages could seat a hundred thousand people at a time on a world that, according to the census report Leto had read, previously had fewer than a million inhabitants.

His personal pilot buzzed across the yacht’s comm. “Our ship is now fourth in the queue, my Duke. We will be departing soon.” The man’s voice held a rural Caladan accent. Leto had chosen him along with a few local workers, who considered the assignment an adventure, and that warmed Leto’s heart. With few opportunities to travel off their homeworld, this was the trip of a lifetime for them.

“Thank you, Arko,” Leto said, making a point to use the man’s name. He switched off the comm and settled back against the supple leather of the seat.

Looking out the windowport, he mused that he should have brought Paul with him. Although Lady Jessica had no fondness for space travel, nor for court politics, their fourteen-year-old son was curious and intelligent, the pride of Leto’s heart. But the Duke decided not to involve his family in what would surely be a tedious, self-aggrandizing event for the Emperor.

He wouldn’t be able to keep Paul out of Imperial politics much longer, though. Leto was popular in the Landsraad, and House Atreides had substantial influence, even if the Duke ruled only one planet. Many Landsraad families might welcome a marriage alliance with House Atreides, and at fourteen, Paul was reaching the right age. . . .

Leto watched two vessels ahead of him disengage and drop down through the great open doors of the Heighliner hold. Some ships were nondescript, perhaps even leased for the occasion by poorer families or Minor Houses, while other vessels proudly displayed the colors and crests of House Mutelli, House Ecaz, House Bonner, House Ouard, and others.

After one more ship descended into the fine clouds, the Atreides yacht disengaged from its docking clamp. The suspensor engines thrummed. Leto gripped his seat as the yacht dropped, passing through orbital lanes down toward the upper atmosphere.

Arko transmitted, “It might get bumpy, my Lord. Several obstacles in high orbit across our path, leftover dump boxes and delivery haulers from the construction. Otorio control is diverting us.”

Leto peered out the windowport to see clunky drifting wrecks circling Otorio in blind, endless orbits. “I’m surprised Shaddam didn’t clear them away.”

“Construction was behind schedule, sir. Those are heavy equipment and supply haulers—empty, I’d suppose. Probably wasn’t financially feasible for the Emperor to move them all away in time for the celebration.”

Leto remarked to himself, “And Shaddam would never postpone the event for a more sensible date.” He added into the comm, “I trust your piloting.”

“Thank you, my Lord.” The ducal yacht diverted around the slowly tumbling objects that cluttered the orbital lanes.

More ships descended from the Heighliner bay, each one carrying representatives who would applaud the Emperor’s new complex. Leto would pay his respects and acknowledge the lengthy history of Corrino accomplishments. He would let himself be seen and fulfill his duty as a loyal subject.

“Just give us a soft landing, Arko,” Leto said into the comm, “and keep the yacht ready to depart. I’d like to go home as soon as I can reasonably make my excuses.” His heart, and his priorities, were with his people on Caladan.

The pilot sounded disappointed. “Will I have time to buy a gift for my sweetheart, my Lord? And souvenirs for my nephews?”

Leto smiled, indulging the man. He was sure the other retainers felt the same. “Of course. I doubt any part of this event will be speedy.”

As the craft glided smoothly toward the surface, he could see the geometric complex of Shaddam’s new Imperial museum, comprising many square kilometers of towering buildings, wide boulevards, plazas, and monuments—as if a swath of Kaitain’s metropolis had been uprooted and transplanted across the galaxy.

Arko brought the yacht down on the priority landing field adjacent to the new Imperial Monolith. The extraordinary spire was shaped like a narrow wedge, wider at the top and delicately balanced on a fulcrum in the central plaza below. From a distance, some claimed the structure looked like a huge spike driven through the heart of Otorio.

Leto’s pilot and crew were awestruck by the grandeur and would no doubt talk about this experience in Cala City taverns for the rest of their lives. With a quiet smile, Leto gave them a discretionary bonus of funds so they could buy commemorative trinkets, and turned them loose to explore. They went off with delighted gratitude, while he turned to his own official duties.

As Leto emerged from the yacht, he faced a cacophony of sensory impressions. Visiting nobles bedecked with gloriously colored robes and flashing jewels put on quite a show with excessive entourages, trying to look important. Pursuing their goal of being noticed, these ambitious nobles preened and strutted, and few gave him a second glance in his formal but unremarkable clothes. Content with the reputation of House Atreides, Leto ignored the snub. He didn’t need to prove his importance or wealth.

Even though he was the Duke of Caladan, he let himself vanish into the crowd. He often did the same at home, enjoying a few hours as a nondescript person so he could walk unnoticed among his own people. Now he strolled by himself into the vast network of fountains, statues, obelisks, and museum exhibits.

Imperial security forces patrolled the streets dressed in Corrino scarlet and gold, accompanied by fearsome Imperial Sardaukar, the Emperor’s private terror troops. Leto found their presence here interesting. Sardaukar were used for only the most elite missions; the fact that Shaddam assigned them here emphasized the importance of the gala. While Kaitain had innumerable centuries of established security routines, this planet was a clean slate. The show of force was not surprising.

Confident, Leto strode along the broad boulevards, where multi-terraced fountains gushed water and jets of steam; glass prisms split sunlight into rainbows. Towering statues of past Corrino Emperors made every ruler look handsome and brave. A polished biographical tablet on each plinth summarized that Emperor’s accomplishments.

Since the end of the Butlerian Jihad ten thousand years ago, the Corrinos— who took their name after the Battle of Corrin—had ruled as the dominant dynasty. There had been interregnums, coup d’états, and interim administrations by other noble houses, but some vestige of House Corrino always returned to power, marrying into the ruling families, taking control through bloody civil war or administrative fiat. With this celebratory city, Shaddam IV would make certain everyone remembered him and his ancestors.

Leto looked up at a three-meter-high metal colossus of Shaddam’s father, the “wise and benevolent” Elrood IX. He frowned at the glowing description on the plaque, knowing that old Elrood had been a petulant and vindictive man, and Shaddam himself had despised him. Leto’s father, Duke Paulus Atreides, had fought in the Ecazi Revolt to support Elrood, but the leader’s dishonorable dealings had greatly troubled the Old Duke.

Leto walked through the endless complex, his eyes oversaturated, his ears deafened by the clamor of celebration. The crowd was composed entirely of nobles or high-ranking functionaries who had received coveted invitations to this grand gala. He could imagine how Paul would have reveled in all these new experiences.

After an hour, already weary of the spectacle, he began to look for a quiet respite before he would go to see the Emperor himself. He circled around the largest statue near the base of the Imperial Monolith—the beautiful Madonna-like figure of Serena Butler cradling her baby, the martyred infant that had triggered the terrible war against the thinking machines. Her statue towered over a robust but gnarled olive tree that sprang up from the flagstones. A plaque noted that the tree was the last remnant of an extensive olive grove that had covered the lands here until recently. Now it had all been paved over.

Behind the Serena statue, Leto noted a back entrance to one of the large museum buildings. The enormous monument hid what appeared to be a warren of back alleys and service entrances. Confident that no one would pay any attention to him, he slipped under the sheltered overhangs, where bright sunshine dwindled into shadows. The plaza’s artificial mists and perfumes faded to more conventional smells, warm generator exhaust, a hint of garbage, the sweat of workers.

Leto ducked into a sheltered doorway under an overhang, and found the delivery entrance locked. He was alone. Shadows and silence breathed around him like a relieved sigh. Leaning against the alcove wall, he reached into his pocket and removed a tight shigawire spool and a pocket-sized crystal player. He smiled as he activated the recording.

The image shimmered before snapping into focus. Leto was glad to see the beautiful Lady Jessica, his bound concubine, his lover, the mother of his son. She wore a blue gown, a necklace of reefpearls from the Caladan coast. Her long, bronze hair was bound up in pins and carved seashell combs that highlighted her green eyes.

Her voice flowed like music, especially after the noise of the museum complex. “Leto, you said you would not view this until you reached Otorio. Have you been true to your promise?” Her voice held a teasing lilt.

“Yes, I have, my love,” he said aloud, in private.

Her generous lips curved upward, and she touched one of her ornate combs.

She knew him well.

One reason she had not accompanied him to the celebration was that she remained his mere concubine, not his wife, and that was how it must stay, for political reasons. Although he remained technically available for a marriage alliance, he accepted that it would never happen. Not after . . .

He winced as he thought about the bloody disaster of his near wedding to Ilesa Ecaz. So much blood so much hatred. As a Landsraad noble, he had to keep his options open, technically, but he had made up his mind not to accept any more offers of a marriage alliance. He needed to keep Jessica safe. Not that she couldn’t protect herself, with all of her Bene Gesserit training. . . .

On the holoprojection, Jessica continued talking, but her voice was itself the message, and that was all he needed to hear. His deep love for her was a weakness he could not allow anyone to see. “Come home to me safely,” she said. “Caladan will be here for you, as will I, my Duke.”

“My Lady.” He smiled as the message ended and the shimmering image faded away. He drew energy from her that he would need for the political obligations and maneuverings he must face now.

Before Leto stepped out of the sheltered doorway, another man darted into the narrow service passageways. He wore a charcoal-gray worker’s jumpsuit with tools at his belt, a loose pack over his shoulder. Knowing he was out of place, Leto prepared to make excuses if anyone asked why he was here, although a worker would not likely challenge a noble.

But the stranger did not notice him as he pressed into a sheltered corner and unslung his pack, glancing from side to side. With instinctive wariness, Leto remained in the shadows. Something didn’t feel right. This man’s manner was not that of a weary worker going about a tedious daily assignment; his movements seemed furtive.

Leto thumbed off the power to the crystal player so Jessica’s message would not replay.

The worker dug into his pack and removed a thin crystal filmscreen, to which he attached a transmitting device. Leto couldn’t see exactly what the man was doing, only that he called up images on the screen, orbital charts, curves, and bright pinpoints that burned red and green. The worker hunched over and spoke into the transmitter pickup. Leto could discern only “activate . . . systems . . . wait.”

The furtive man touched a corner of the ethereal screen, and from a distance, Leto saw images of the discarded dump boxes and cargo containers in orbit. Lights suddenly winked on in the great dark hulks.

The stranger snapped the screen shut and stuffed it back into his pack. Concerned, Leto drew himself up and emerged from his alcove. “You there! Hold!”

The worker bolted, and Leto sprang after him. The man turned a sharp corner into a side passage, slipped between stacked shipment cases, ducked low under an overhang. One corner, then another, a maze of access alleys. Leto ran after him, dodging debris and calling out, trying not to lose him in the clutter, until he burst out into the full, noisy city again.

A fanfare of brassy music played from loudspeakers, and Otorio’s sunlight dazzled him. Crowds and diversions drowned out Leto’s shout. He thought he saw the suspicious worker turn left, darting away.

Leto sprinted after the man, shouting, knowing there were countless security forces around the complex, not to mention Sardaukar, if only he could get their attention. He raised a hand, looking for the ubiquitous patrols, but saw only colorfully clad celebrants.

The city guard force found him as he called out again. Dressed in red and gold, the Imperial troops escorted a pompous-looking official who strode up to him. “Duke Leto Atreides of Caladan,” he said in a booming voice that somehow cut through the cacophony of the great plaza.

Leto spun. “Yes. I need to report—”

The official cut him off with a well-practiced smile, holding up a bejeweled message cylinder. “We have been searching for you since your yacht landed.” With great reverence, he extended the cylinder. “You may keep this personal invitation as a memento, perhaps display it on Caladan for future generations.”

The man cleared his throat and recited, “His Excellency, the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV awaits you at a special reception in the Imperial Monolith. Come with me.” The official seemed surprised that Leto wasn’t swooning with delight. “Now.”

Copyright © Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson 2020

Pre-order Dune: The Duke of Caladan Here:

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Every Tor Book Coming This Fall

We’re dreaming of fall weather at Tor…the changing of colors, the crackle of a bonfire, the tastes of our favorite fall foods. And we can hardly contain ourselves as we wait for our fall books to finally make their way into our hands. Check out which books are coming to shelves near you this fall below:

September 8

Image Place holder  of - 75Architects of Memory by Karen Osborne

Terminally ill salvage pilot Ash Jackson lost everything in the war with the alien Vai, but she’ll be damned if she loses her future. Her plan: to buy, beg, or lie her way out of corporate indenture and find a cure. When her crew salvages a genocidal weapon from a ravaged starship above a dead colony, Ash uncovers a conspiracy of corporate intrigue and betrayal that threatens to turn her into a living weapon.

September 15

Place holder  of - 33To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move. As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human. While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .

Image Placeholder of - 70The Hellion by S. A. Hunt

Robin Martine has destroyed witches all across the country, but since her confrontation with the demon Andras, Robin has had to deal with her toughest adversary yet: herself. While coming to grips with new abilities, she and her boyfriend Kenway make their way to the deserts of rural Texas, where new opportunities await.

September 19

Poster Placeholder of - 79The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford

In a snowbound inn high in the Alps, four people meet who will alter fate. Together they will wage an intrigue-filled campaign against the might of Byzantium to secure the English throne for Richard, Duke of Gloucester—and make him Richard III. Available for the first time in nearly two decades, with a new introduction by New York Times-bestselling author Scott Lynch, The Dragon Waiting is a masterpiece of blood and magic.

October 6

Placeholder of  -84The 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.

October 13

Attack Surface by Cory Doctorow

Most days, Masha Maximow was sure she’d chosen the winning side. In her day job as a counterterrorism wizard for a transnational cybersecurity firm, she made the hacks that allowed repressive regimes to spy on dissidents, and manipulate their every move. The perks were fantastic, and the pay was obscene. When her targets were strangers in faraway police states, it was easy to compartmentalize, to ignore the collateral damage of murder, rape, and torture. But when it hits close to home, and the hacks and exploits she’s devised are directed at her friends and family–including boy wonder Marcus Yallow, her old crush and archrival, and his entourage of naïve idealists–Masha realizes she has to choose.

Dune: The Duke of Celadan by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Leto Atreides, Duke of Caladan and father of the Muad’Dib. While all know of his fall and the rise of his son, little is known about the quiet ruler of Caladan and his partner Jessica. Or how a Duke of an inconsequential planet earned an emperor’s favor, the ire of House Harkonnen, and set himself on a collision course with his own death. This is the story.

October 20

To Hold Up the Sky by Cixin Liu

In To Hold Up the Sky, Cixin Liu takes us across time and space, from a rural mountain community where elementary students must use physicas to prevent an alien invasion; to coal mines in northern China where new technology will either save lives of unleash a fire that will burn for centuries; to a time very much like our own, when superstring computers predict our every move; to 10,000 years in the future, when humanity is finally able to begin anew; to the very collapse of the universe itself.

November 17

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

After forming a coalition of human resistance against the enemy invasion, Dalinar Kholin and his Knights Radiant have spent a year fighting a protracted, brutal war. Neither side has gained an advantage. Now, as new technological discoveries begin to change the face of the war, the enemy prepares a bold and dangerous operation. The arms race that follows will challenge the very core of the Radiant ideals, and potentially reveal the secrets of the ancient tower that was once the heart of their strength.

December 1

Hollow Empire by Sam Hawke

Poison was only the beginning…. The deadly siege of Silasta woke the ancient spirits, and now the city-state must find its place in this new world of magic. But people and politics are always treacherous, and it will take all of Jovan and Kalina’s skills as proofer and spy to save their country when witches and assassins turn their sights to domination.

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