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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.

Place holder  of - 52A 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. 

Placeholder of  -75The 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 Place holder  of - 54The 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 - 84 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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Queer Books Coming in 2022 🏳️‍🌈

2022 was a big year to be queer and a big year for books! Way back, we combined these two things together into a list of every queer book coming out from Tor Books in 2022, and now we’re bringing it back around with a few new additions 😎🏳️‍🌈

Check it out, y’all!


Legends & LattesLegends & Lattes by Travis Baldree by Travis Baldree

After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time.

The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success — not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won’t be able to go it alone.

But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.


The Thousand EyesThe Thousand Eyes by A. K. Larkwood by A. K. Larkwood

Two years after defying the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and escaping into the great unknown, Csorwe and Shuthmili have made a new life for themselves, hunting for secrets among the ruins of an ancient snake empire. Along for the ride is Tal Charossa, determined to leave the humiliation and heartbreak of his hometown far behind him, even if it means enduring the company of his old rival and her insufferable girlfriend. All three of them would be quite happy never to see Sethennai again. But when a routine expedition goes off the rails and a terrifying imperial relic awakens, they find that a common enemy may be all it takes to bring them back into his orbit.


cover of The Atlas Six by Olivie BlakeThe Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation. When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation, during which time they will be permitted preliminary access to the Society’s archives and judged based on their contributions to various subjects of impossibility: time and space, luck and thought, life and death. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will. Most of them.


The Atlas ParadoxThe Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake by Olivie Blake

Six magicians. Two rivalries. One researcher. And a man who can walk through dreams. All must pick a side: do they wish to preserve the world—or destroy it? In this electric sequel to the viral sensation, The Atlas Six, the society of Alexandrians is revealed for what it is: a secret society with raw, world-changing power, headed by a man whose plans to change life as we know it are already under way. But the cost of knowledge is steep, and as the price of power demands each character choose a side, which alliances will hold and which will see their enmity deepen?


Image Place holder  of - 70Last Exit by Max Gladstone

Ten years ago, Zelda led a band of merry adventurers whose knacks let them travel to alternate realities and battle the black rot that threatened to unmake each world. Zelda was the warrior; Ish could locate people anywhere; Ramon always knew what path to take; Sarah could turn catastrophe aside. Keeping them all connected: Sal, Zelda’s lover and the group’s heart. Until their final, failed mission, when Sal was lost. When they all fell apart. Ten years on, Ish, Ramon, and Sarah are happy and successful. Zelda is alone, always traveling, destroying rot throughout the US. When it boils through the crack in the Liberty Bell, the rot gives Zelda proof that Sal is alive, trapped somewhere in the alts. Zelda’s getting the band back together.


Placeholder of  -53The Discord of Gods by Jenn Lyons

Relos Var’s final plans to enslave the universe are on the cusp of fruition. He believes there’s only one being in existence that might be able to stop him: the demon Xaltorath. As these two masterminds circle each other, neither is paying attention to the third player on the board, Kihrin. Unfortunately, keeping himself classified in the ‘pawn’ category means Kihrin must pretend to be everything the prophecies threatened he’d become: the destroyer of all, the sun eater, a mindless, remorseless plague upon the land. It also means finding an excuse to not destroy the people he loves (or any of the remaining Immortals) without arousing suspicion.


cover of The Origin of Storms by Elizabeth BearThe Origin of Storms by Elizabeth Bear

Hugo Award-winning author Elizabeth Bear returns to conclude her acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy of the Lotus Kingdoms, which began with The Stone in the Skull and The Red-Stained Wings, bringing it all to a surprising, satisfying climax in The Origin of Storms. 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.


 

Image Placeholder of - 35The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison

In The Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison returns to the world of The Goblin Emperor with a direct sequel to The Witness For The Dead

Celehar’s life as the Witness for the Dead of Amalo grows less isolated as his circle of friends grows larger. He has been given an apprentice to teach, and he has stumbled over a scandal of the city—the foundling girls. Orphans with no family to claim them and no funds to buy an apprenticeship. Foundling boys go to the Prelacies; foundling girls are sold into service, or worse.

At once touching and shattering, Celehar’s witnessing for one of these girls will lead him into the depths of his own losses.

The love of his friends will lead him out again.


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.


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. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries. 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 fairytales 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.


Dance with the DevilDance with the Devil by Kit Rocha by Kit Rocha

Tobias Richter, the fearsome VP of Security of TechCorp is dead. The puppetmaster is gone, and the organization is scrambling to maintain control by ruthlessly limiting access to resources to Atlanta, 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. They’ll go deep undercover in the decadent, luxury-soaked penthouses on the Hill. Bringing Dani face-to-face with the man who turned her into a killer. And forcing Rafe to decide how far he’ll go to protect both of his families—the one he was born to, and the one he made for himself. Victory will break the back of Power. Failure will destroy Atlanta.


The Genesis of MiseryThe Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang by Neon Yang

Neon Yang (they/them) is the author of the Tensorate series of novellas from Tor.Com Publishing (The Red Threads of FortuneThe Black Tides of HeavenThe Descent of Monsters and The Ascent to Godhood). Their work has been shortlisted for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Lambda Literary and Locus awards, while the Tensorate novellas were a Tiptree honoree in 2018. They have over two dozen works of short fiction published in venues including Tor.com, Uncanny MagazineLightspeedClarkesworld, and Strange Horizons. 


Ocean’s EchoOcean's Echo by Everina Maxwell by Everina Maxwell

When Tennal—a rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster—is caught using his telepathic powers for illegal activities, the military decides to bind his mind to someone whose coercive powers are strong enough to control him. Enter Lieutenant Surit, the child of a disgraced general. Out of a desperate need to restore a pension to his other parent, Lieutenant Surit agrees to be bound to Tennal and keep him conscripted in the army, a task that seems impossible even for someone with Surit’s ability to control minds. Tennal just wants to escape, but Surit isn’t all that he seems. And their bond may just be the key to their freedom.


Which book is at the top of your TBR? Let us know in the comments! 

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SFF Books We Read for the Romance

Love is in the stars and other faraway places! No, we’re not just talking about fate and honeymoons—this is an article about romance in Science Fiction and Fantasy! Check out these sometimes sizzling sometimes sweet SFF reads that’ll have you feeling the love 😍


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.

Winter's Orbit by Everina MaxwellWinter’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. So begins a legendary love story amid the stars.

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline CareyKushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Born with a scarlet mote in her left eye, Phédre nó Delaunay is sold into indentured servitude as a child. When her bond is purchased by an enigmatic nobleman, she is trained in history, theology, politics, foreign languages, the arts of pleasure. And above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Exquisite courtesan, talented spy…and unlikely heroine. But when Phédre stumbles upon a plot that threatens her homeland, Terre d’Ange, she has no choice. Betrayed into captivity in the barbarous northland of Skaldia and accompanied only by a disdainful young warrior-priest, Phédre makes a harrowing escape and an even more harrowing journey to return to her people and deliver a warning of the impending invasion.

A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra RowlandA Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland

Kadou, the shy prince of Arasht, finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court—the body-father of the queen’s new child—in an altercation which results in his humiliation. To prove his loyalty to the queen, his sister, Kadou takes responsibility for the investigation of a break-in at one of their guilds, with the help of his newly appointed bodyguard, the coldly handsome Evemer, who seems to tolerate him at best. In Arasht, where princes can touch-taste precious metals with their fingers and myth runs side by side with history, counterfeiting is heresy, and the conspiracy they discover could cripple the kingdom’s financial standing and bring about its ruin.

Dance with the Devil by Kit RochaDance with the Devil by Kit Rocha

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. They’ll go deep undercover in the decadent, luxury-soaked penthouses on the Hill. Bringing Dani face-to-face with the man who turned her into a killer. And forcing Rafe to decide how far he’ll go to protect both of his families—the one he was born to, and the one he made for himself.

Under the Whispering DoorUnder the Whispering Door by TJ Klune 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.

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Excerpt: Dance with the Devil by Kit Rocha

amazons bns booksamillions ibooks2 6 indiebounds

Place holder  of - 3USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Kit Rocha returns to their explosive post-apocalyptic action/romance series, The Mercenary Librarians, with the next thrilling installment, Dance with the Devil.

POWER IS NEVER GIVEN, ONLY TAKEN

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. They’ll go deep undercover in the decadent, luxury-soaked penthouses on the Hill.

Bringing Dani face-to-face with the man who turned her into a killer. And forcing Rafe to decide how far he’ll go to protect both of his families—the one he was born to, and the one he made for himself.

Victory will break the back of Power. Failure will destroy Atlanta.

Please enjoy this free excerpt of Dance with the Devil by Kit Rocha, on sale 8/16/22.


ONE

Hubris. It got ’em every time.

Dani cast a sidelong look at the man walking next to her. Though he looked about a decade younger, Christopher Bianco was forty-six years old, which meant he’d been born just before the Flares, when the world went dark. He was too young to remember the solar storms that had damaged power grids beyond repair, toppled entire governments, and left the survivors scrambling to regain some semblance of order. But growing up in the chaotic aftermath of those events—freezing, starving, struggling just to stay alive—must have shaped the man he’d become.

And Dani knew a lot about that man. Bianco had never been married, bore seventeen separate identifying tattoos and scars, and liked whiskey and redheads. His brown hair was burnished with hints of gold, and his wide, easy grin was more suited to a twentieth-century movie star than a murderer. But a murderer he was, nonetheless—commanding officer of the Golden Lions, an up-and-coming Protectorate squad that had been thriving under Captain Bianco’s leadership.

She smiled back at him.

“So where are we going?” he asked, the grin lingering in his voice.

“Wherever the night takes us, of course.”

He laughed. “I should demand details. You could be dangerous.”

“I could be,” she agreed solemnly. “Would it change your mind?”

His hand slid across her lower back to lightly grip her hip. “Not a chance.”

Dani tossed her newly auburn hair over her shoulder and barely managed not to roll her eyes. She was as fond of a good game of cat-and-mouse as the next person—more, if she was being perfectly honest—but it wasn’t as much fun when it was work.

And work was all she had lately. It turned out that mounting a guerrilla campaign against an all-powerful corporate dictatorship like the TechCorps monopolized your life hardcore, even with the workload split between an even dozen people. You had to monitor digital transmissions, gather intel from the streets, conduct a little creative spycraft, support the community in case of retaliation, and somehow manage to fund the whole damn op.

And then there was Dani’s specialty: quick, bloody strikes against strategic targets.

Tonight’s strategic target let his hand drift down until he was practically groping her ass. Dani gritted her teeth and lovingly imagined throwing an elbow at his face.

Patience.

He was steering her toward an alley just off of Forsyth. She’d checked it out during her reconnaissance earlier—it was a narrow dead end, no more than two and a half, maybe three meters wide, littered with garbage and broken glass. It was secluded, grimy, and disgusting.

It was perfect.

“Nice place,” Dani murmured dryly.

The hand on her hip tensed, and he whirled her around a split second later. Her back hit the pitted brick, and he loomed over her, a tiny smile on his lips. “Only the best for you, darling.”

Oh, he was smooth. She had to grant him that, from one practiced honeypot to another. It was part of what made Captain Bianco a strategic target, after all. He had a knack for covert work, was adaptable and quick on his feet, and his instincts were top-notch.

Still, as much as she admired his dedication to the fine art of seductive deception, it was getting late. And she had a job to do.

Almost there.

His smile only grew as Dani slowly wound one hand in the front of his shirt, his lips curving as genuine amusement sparkled in his eyes.

So she asked the question she was supposed to ask. “What’s so funny?”

“Oh, nothing,” he practically purred. “It’s just . . . you have no idea you’ve been made, do you?”

Finally.

“Made?” She tightened her hand in his shirt.

He didn’t answer, but he didn’t have to. The near-silent shuffle of boots tickled Dani’s ears, and she turned her head just far enough to see four shadowy figures file across the narrow mouth of the alley, effectively forming a human blockade.

“You brought your whole crew,” she murmured. “I’m flattered.”

“I don’t know if you’re brave or crazy, lady, and I don’t care.” Bianco’s silky voice hardened. “You’ve been taking out Protectorate squads, and now it’s your turn.”

“So . . . what? You haul me in like a good little boy?”

“Not exactly,” he countered. “Terminate on sight.”

So much for negotiation. She watched as Captain Bianco drew his arm back, his fingers already curling into a wicked fist.

Dani considered the situation.

A few things were immediately obvious. First: they knew what she’d been up to, that she’d been targeting Protectorate squads for elimination, but almost certainly not who she really was. If they had, Captain Bianco’s orders would have been very, very different.

A random, murderous rebel who’d gotten lucky a few times while facing off against their men? The TechCorps no doubt considered that woman dangerous—and expendable. But Danijela Volkova, former Executive Security operative turned legendary assassin? One of only two survivors of an experimental nerve-rewiring procedure that had left her with superhuman speed and reflexes, not to mention impervious to pain?

No way would they let her slip through their fingers. Not when they could haul her back to one of their labs and dissect her like a fucking frog.

Second: the Golden Lions had turned the alley into an efficient killbox by deploying across the mouth of it like a firing squad, but they couldn’t use it as one. They wouldn’t risk their CO’s life. No, they’d try to take her down via nonlethal means, then finish her off.

Finally, third: she had to be at the top of her game. All of her previous targets had been varying degrees of oblivious or overconfident. The Golden Lions would be neither.

She dodged Bianco’s fist as it flew toward her face. It crashed into the wall instead, shattering brick and bone. He grunted in pain, but he wasn’t about to let a crushed hand interfere with his mission. He reached for her with his other hand, already calling out an order to fire.

His second mistake. Dani grabbed his lapels and spun him around, putting him between her and his men. They fired their Tasers, long-range models that used wireless signals instead of cords and took forever to reload. They were designed to deploy an electrical current as soon as they burrowed into flesh—in this case, Captain Bianco’s back.

They worked like a charm. The good captain went down, and Dani turned her attention to his men.

Two of them started reloading their Tasers. A third charged at Dani, while the fourth went straight for his gun.

Smart.

An old fire escape hung off the wall overhead, with only a few rusty bolts still securing it to the building. Dani took a running leap, grabbed the lower edge, and swung out, kicking the advancing Golden Lion in the face. His neck snapped with a sharp crack just as the metal frame pulled loose, and she reached for her knives as she fell. She hit the ground rolling and came up with her blades in her hands.

This was her sweet spot, the part of the hunt that made all the makeup and simpering worth it. Direct, decisive action to address a specific, discrete issue.

See a problem, stab a problem.

The armed soldier fired high, aiming for her head with the kind of confidence that spoke of excellent marksmanship. Dani ducked the shot and went in low, slicing across the front of his thigh. The blade bit deep, tearing through reinforced cloth, skin, and muscle.

She let her momentum spin her around, away from the hot spray of blood, and buried her knife in his back, right between the fourth and fifth ribs, angled to avoid the shoulder blade and penetrate the left ventricle of the heart.

The other two attacked in tandem, having abandoned the Tasers in favor of the close-quarters benefits of their own knives. Dani ducked slashes and stabs and watched, waiting for an opening.

The one on the left dropped his guard, and she grabbed his hair and dragged her blade across the side of his throat, opening his jugular vein. She dropped him, trusting the blood loss to quickly render him unconscious, and headed for his buddy

Instead, a rough hand wrapped around her ankle, almost dragging her off her feet. Captain Bianco had recovered from being Tased by his own men—and he was pissed.

Dani stomped on his forearm with her free foot, sacrificing her balance for the blow. His radius and ulna snapped under her boot, and she fell to the pavement with a jarring thud.

Bianco scrambled to grab her, even with a busted hand and a broken arm. Dani dropped an elbow to his temple and pushed him onto his back, pinning him there with one knee on his chest. Then she looked him dead in the eye as she finished him off with a blade to the heart.

It was probably more consideration than he’d ever offered any of his victims.

There was no time to linger over the thought. By Dani’s count, there was one more left. She pushed up onto her feet, then used her momentum to swing around, blade first.

Straight toward Rafe, who had just dropped the last Protectorate soldier.

Even she didn’t have time to pull the attack. She released the knife instead, letting it fly across the alley as she stumbled against his chest. He caught her deftly, big hands locking around her arms. He hoisted her without apparent effort, swinging her around so his body formed a wall between her and the alley.

The gesture was one of protective instinct, but his expression was furious. “What the hell are you doing?”

How dare he? “What the hell am I doing? What the hell are you doing, Morales? I almost stabbed you in the fucking face!”

He took one shuddering breath, then another, like he was fighting for control of his temper. The moonlight slanted across his features, highlighting his impossible cheekbones and silvering his dark skin. He looked like a statue of a beautiful, angry god, and he ground out each word between clenched teeth. “You came out here to take on a full Protectorate squad. Alone.”

Of course she had. If you were going to bait a trap, you didn’t do it with a pack of wolves. You did it with a single helpless lamb. Dani opened her mouth to tell him so—firmly and obscenely—but caught the telltale glimmer of a laser sight.

A sniper. She almost sighed. Why couldn’t Captain Bianco have been a little less competent?

She shoved Rafe hard, pushing him back against the wall as the shot rang out. It pinballed off the wall, scattering razor-sharp shards of brick. Dani went for Rafe’s pistol, but he already had it in his hand.

He fired, and the sniper’s body plummeted from the roof. Rafe was already turning back toward her to resume his argument by the time it hit the cracked asphalt. “Alone,” he repeated. “I thought we discussed having backup on all missions.”

“When possible and necessary.” She waved a hand at the grungy alley. “This was neither.”

“Dani—” He bit off whatever he was going to say and threw up his hands. “Do you think I would have tried to stop you? I know you can handle yourself. But it’s dangerous out here, woman. We all need someone to watch our back.”

Normally, she would have agreed. In this case, however, the situation was . . . delicate. Her plan had hinged on Bianco knowing that she was luring him into a trap, but not realizing that she was on to both his awareness and his intention to turn it around on her. With so many variables at play, the best way to keep it all straight—and minimize casualties in case of disaster—was to fly solo.

She retrieved her knife from the spot where it had landed, blessedly not in any puddles of mystery fluid. “I know you worry, and I get it. But some things, I just have to do on my own. It’s my job.”

Rafe’s soft sigh echoed through the alley behind her. “It’s my job, too. You don’t always have to go it alone.”

He said it like she didn’t know, like she hadn’t considered asking Nina to join her undercover or getting Conall to surveil her encounter with the Golden Lions. But that was Rafe—given the choice between solitude and surrounding himself with others, he’d always pick people. Anything else was just unthinkable.

The thought made Dani’s skin itch. She loved Nina and Maya with all her shriveled black heart, and she was even learning to like the Silver Devils—most of them, anyway. They were her family, for fuck’s sake. If they needed her, she’d be there—anytime, anyplace. No questions asked.

And they were always there for her. It wasn’t their fault her brain didn’t work that way. Dani’s history—personal and professional—had instilled in her an almost pathological self-reliance. She knew it, and she’d tried to overcome the knee-jerk panic that gripped her when she thought about asking for help . . .

But things weren’t pathological if you could just stop doing them, were they?

She covered her discomfort with an irritated grumble. “Can we have this conversation elsewhere? Like, someplace with fewer dead bodies?”

“Just a second.” Rafe knelt beside Captain Bianco and methodically checked the corpse’s clothes. When he rose, he held a small but sturdy tablet in his hand. “Conall would kick my ass if I didn’t bring this back.”

He pulled a small roll of shielding wrap from one of the many pockets on his tactical pants and began rolling it around the purloined tablet. Back at Protectorate headquarters, the analysts monitoring the Golden Lions’ mission status would be watching the signal blink out of existence, taking with it any hope of tracking the device.

At least, that was how it was supposed to work. In Dani’s estimation, it was worth the risk, but barely. “You think Con’ll be able to get anything useful from it?”

“Probably not directly.” With the device secured, Rafe stowed it in another pocket. “But he’ll pull anything he can get for Maya, and maybe something will spark for her.”

Maya would probably want the man’s grocery receipts, if they could manage to dig them up. “Intel is intel, I suppose.”

Rafe fell into step beside Dani as she squared her shoulders and walked as casually as possible out of the alley and turned toward home. After half a block in silence, he sighed softly. “I’m sorry I snapped at you. I know you can handle your shit.”

“You’re not sorry. You’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

“Probably. Doesn’t mean I’m not sorry.” He shot her a sidelong look. “It just means you’re really good at riling me up.”

Oh, there were layers of meaning in that statement—layers Dani chose to ignore. “Whatever. It’s who you are. Don’t apologize for it. I don’t plan to.”

“Fair enough.” He fell silent again.

Dani stifled a sigh of her own. She looked around for a distraction, but the streets were strangely quiet. There were no revelers headed home from a night at the bar, no spirited conversations happening on front stoops—even though there should have been.

Winter had crept over the South, but the night was warm, almost balmy. Normally, folks would be taking advantage of the break in the cold to get out and enjoy some fresh air. But the people of Southside— and Five Points, particularly—had damn good instincts for danger. They didn’t know a handful of their own were waging war against the TechCorps, but they knew something was up. They felt the tension, like a taut rubber band about to snap.

So they stayed inside, and she and Rafe might as well have been alone in the world.

As they crossed under a flickering streetlight, Rafe reached out, his fingers barely grazing her hip. “Can I at least check to make sure you’re not bleeding?”

She almost shuddered. She was too wound up for this right now, and he was too impulsive. If he started running his hands over her skin, searching for wounds she couldn’t feel, they’d wind up stumbling into another dark alley. Their first time would unfold against the filthy brick, her wrists pinned above her head, his coffee-rich voice low and demanding in her ear.

Dani was no stranger to bad decisions, but this one? Could destroy everything.

Part of her wanted to do it anyway

Instead, she brushed him away. “Captain Bianco and his Golden Lions meant business, Morales. If they’d managed to hit me hard enough to count, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

A muscle in his cheek jumped. He was clenching his jaw, hard—no doubt biting back another argument. Finally, he blew out a breath. “Fine, but you’re letting me check when we get home, or I’m waking up Nina to do it.”

“I can take care of my—” A low noise pricked at Dani’s ears, a strange mix of whir and whine. Instantly recognizable.

She ended up dragging Rafe into an alley anyway, pressing one finger to his lips before he could speak. His gaze clashed with hers for a tense moment before he looked up, tracking the approaching drone.

It wasn’t strange to see TechCorps surveillance drones canvassing Southside. They’d send a few out every now and then, and they’d get them back in pieces. The people in this part of Atlanta liked their privacy, and they’d gladly bring down any drones that crossed their paths.

But she could tell by the sound that this wasn’t one of the older drones the TechCorps usually deployed, the ones they didn’t care if they lost because they were a mere step shy of being decommissioned anyway. This was top of the line, new, with five different types of cameras, heat-seeking capabilities, and even small armaments.

This one was looking for them.

Dani held out her hand, one eyebrow raised expectantly. Rafe hesitated, then drew his pistol and handed it over without bothering to disengage the biometric lock. Out of habit, she swiped her thumb over the small scanner plate, and she felt a small jolt in her midsection as the trigger mechanism unlocked.

It was strangely intimate, like having the key to someone’s apartment or the passcode for their computer system. Of course, he could have given the entire team access to his firearms. But somehow, Dani didn’t think so.

She leaned past him, curling one hand around his upper arm as the drone came into view. The weakest spots were the three articulation points where the propellers attached to the main body, and Dani took aim. She shot out the first two, and the drone pitched and rolled before crashing to the street in a shower of sparks.

Rafe was on it in a heartbeat, disabling its broadcast capabilities with a flick of the knife he’d pulled from his pocket. Dani stood there, useless, as he dug out the memory and programming module next. She could shoot one of these things down, but she didn’t know how to harvest any valuable intelligence from it.

Dani was a walking weapon, only capable of destroying things.

Rafe wrapped the modules with more of the signal dampening tape, then finished off the drone by yanking out the main control board. Wires and screws both snapped like gossamer threads in his grip. He probably could have torn the thing in half without strain.

But he didn’t. He tossed the whole mess aside for the scavengers and rose effortlessly.

“Here.” She shoved his pistol at him. It was all she meant to do, but with the painful reminder of her own shortcomings ringing in her brain, she found herself trying to justify her decisions. “I don’t do it to fuck with you, you know. Come out by myself. It’s just . . .”

His brow furrowed. “Dani, you don’t have to explain.”

“You’re a unit,” she told him haltingly. “You and the rest of the Silver Devils. You were trained that way. You lived that way. But that’s not how it was in Executive Security. We were . . .”

She didn’t even know how to describe the sense of isolation that had been drilled into her during her training as a TechCorps bodyguard. It was rigorous and thorough, with the latest technology and the highest quality—and most brutal—instructors, but Ex-Sec recruits were never meant to function as teams. They would guard their assigned executives. And they all understood that, eventually, they would die doing it. But they didn’t work together.

“We worked alone,” she said finally. “We always worked alone, and that’s a hard habit to break. That’s all.”

Rafe holstered his gun, his eyes not meeting hers, his voice gentle. “Well, you’re not alone anymore. You can be annoyed by us if you want. I’m annoyed by Conall daily.”

He was changing the subject to a nonthreatening topic, awkward in his eagerness to coddle her the way he would a feral stray. And Dani let him, because she wasn’t sure what else she could do or say.

“Conall is all right,” she declared. “Except when he starts making fun of my paper files like I’m some thousand-year-old fossil. It’s rude.”

“Maybe, but is he wrong?”

“Look—”

She fell into the flirtatious banter. It wasn’t comfortable—nothing about dealing with Rafael Morales was—but it was familiar, a dance whose customs and steps she knew intricately, because she practiced them all the damn time, for work and for play. The dance was easy, mindless. She could lose herself in it.

In another world, Dani didn’t have to think about this. Their lives weren’t so intertwined, and she and Rafe could simply enjoy one another. They weren’t worried about implosions and awkwardness and the potential fallout if things went bad and they suffered a nasty breakup. They knew they could part ways easily, and never look back.

In another world, they had already become lovers.

Too bad Dani lived in this one.

Copyright © 2022 from Kit Rocha

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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

Image Placeholder of - 15The 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

Placeholder of  -6In 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

Image Place holder  of - 27Daughter 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.

Poster Placeholder of - 95The 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 - 90Sands 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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