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Spring Into eBook Sales: March 2023!

“March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” or so sayeth the sages of yore regarding March weather. Not so with our eBook deals. We’ve got a whole pride of lion-tier eBook deals! For the rest of March, we’re proud to present great books at steep discounts in digital format 😎

Check it out!


Unconquerable SunImage Place holder  of - 97 by Kate Elliott — $2.99

Princess Sun has finally come of age. Growing up in the shadow of her mother, Eirene, has been no easy task. The legendary queen-marshal did what everyone thought impossible: expel the invaders and build Chaonia into a magnificent republic, one to be respected—and feared. But the cutthroat ambassador corps and conniving noble houses have never ceased to scheme—and they have plans that need Sun to be removed as heir, or better yet, dead. To survive, the princess must rely on her wits and companions: her biggest rival, her secret lover, and a dangerous prisoner of war. Take the brilliance and cunning courage of Princess Leia—add in a dazzling futuristic setting where pop culture and propaganda are one and the same—and hold on tight.

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Attack SurfacePlace holder  of - 54 by Cory Doctorow — $2.99

Most days, Masha Maximow was sure she’d chosen the winning side. In her day job as a counterterrorism wizard for an 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. Just for fun, and to piss off her masters, Masha sometimes used her mad skills to help those same troublemakers evade detection, if their cause was just. It was a dangerous game and a hell of a rush. But seriously self-destructive. And unsustainable. 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, Masha realizes she has to choose. And whatever choice she makes, someone is going to get hurt.

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Deadmen WalkingPlaceholder of  -35 by Sherrilyn Kenyon — $3.99

Deadmen tell their tales . . .To catch evil, it takes evil. Enter Devyl Bane– an ancient dark warlord returned to the human realm as one of the most notorious pirates in the New World. A man of many secrets, Bane makes a pact with Thorn– an immortal charged with securing the worst creations the ancient gods ever released into our world. Those powers have been imprisoned for eons behind enchanted gates . . . gates that are beginning to buckle. At Thorn’s behest, Bane takes command of a crew of Deadmen and, together, they are humanity’s last hope to restore the gates and return the damned to their hell realms. But things are never so simple….

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A Queen in HidingImage Placeholder of - 69 by Sarah Kozloff — $3.99

Orphaned, exiled and hunted, Cerulia, Princess of Weirandale, must master the magic that is her birthright, become a ruthless guerilla fighter, and transform into the queen she is destined to be. But to do it she must win the favor of the spirits who play in mortal affairs, assemble an unlikely group of rebels, and wrest the throne from a corrupt aristocracy whose rot has spread throughout her kingdom.

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ImagerPoster Placeholder of - 96 by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. — $3.99

Rhennthyl, son of a leading wool merchant in L’Excelsis, the capital of Solidar, has his entire life transformed when his master patron is killed in a flash fire, and Rhenn discovers he is an imager–-one of the few in the entire world of Terahnar who can visualize things and make them real.

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Vallista by Steven Brust — $2.99

Vlad Taltos is an Easterner—an underprivileged human in an Empire of tall, powerful, long-lived Dragaerans. He made a career for himself in House Jhereg, the Dragaeran clan in charge of the Empire’s organized crime. But the day came when the Jhereg wanted Vlad dead, and he’s been on the run ever since. He has plenty of friends among the Dragaeran highborn, including an undead wizard and a god or two. But as long as the Jhereg have a price on his head, Vlad’s life is…messy. Meanwhile, for years, Vlad’s path has been repeatedly crossed by Devera, a small Dragaeran girl of indeterminate powers who turns up at the oddest moments in his life. Now Devera has appeared again—to lead Vlad into a mysterious, seemingly empty manor overlooking the Great Sea.

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Empire Games by Charlie Stross — $3.99

The year is 2020. It’s seventeen years since the Revolution overthrew the last king of the New British Empire, and the newly-reconstituted North American Commonwealth is developing rapidly, on course to defeat the French and bring democracy to a troubled world. But Miriam Burgeson, commissioner in charge of the shadowy Ministry of Intertemporal Research and Intelligence—the paratime espionage agency tasked with catalyzing the Commonwealth’s great leap forward—has a problem. For years, she’s warned everyone: “The Americans are coming.” Now their drones arrive in the middle of a succession crisis. In another timeline, the U.S. has recruited Miriam’s own estranged daughter to spy across timelines in order to bring down any remaining world-walkers who might threaten national security. Two nuclear superpowers are set on a collision course. Two increasingly desperate paratime espionage agencies try to find a solution to the first contact problem that doesn’t result in a nuclear holocaust. And two women—a mother and her long-lost daughter—are about to find themselves on opposite sides of the confrontation.

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Dragonslayer by Duncan M. Hamilton — $3.99

With the dragons believed dead, the kingdom had no more need for dragonslayers. Drunk, disgraced, and all but forgotten, Guillot has long since left his days of heroism behind him. As forgotten places are disturbed in the quest for power, and things long dormant awaken, the kingdom finds itself in need of a dragonslayer once again, and Guillot is the only one left…

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Dancer’s Lament by Ian C. Esslemont — $3.99

Ian C. Esslemont’s prequel trilogy takes readers deeper into the politics and intrigue of the New York Times bestselling Malazan Empire. The first book of the Path to Ascendancy trilogy, Dancer’s Lament, focuses on the genesis of the empire and features Dancer, the skilled assassin, who, alongside the mage Kellanved, would found the Malazan empire.

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Child of a Mad Godimage alt text by R.A. Salvatore — $3.99

When Aoleyn loses her parents, she is left to fend for herself among a tribe of vicious barbarians. Bound by rigid traditions, she dreams of escaping to the world beyond her mountain home. The only hope for achieving the kind of freedom she searches for is to learn how to wield the mysterious power used by the tribe’s coven known as the Song of Usgar. Thankfully, Aoleyn may be the strongest witch to have ever lived, but magic comes at price. Not only has her abilities caught the eye of the brutish warlord that leads the tribe, but the demon of the mountain hunts all who wield the Coven’s power, and Aoleyn’s talent has made her a beacon in the night.

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Without Honoralt image text by David Hagberg — $3.99

When Aoleyn loses her parents, she is left to fend for herself among a tribe of vicious barbarians. Bound by rigid traditions, she dreams of escaping to the world beyond her mountain home. The only hope for achieving the kind of freedom she searches for is to learn how to wield the mysterious power used by the tribe’s coven known as the Song of Usgar. Thankfully, Aoleyn may be the strongest witch to have ever lived, but magic comes at price. Not only has her abilities caught the eye of the brutish warlord that leads the tribe, but the demon of the mountain hunts all who wield the Coven’s power, and Aoleyn’s talent has made her a beacon in the night.

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From the Dragon’s POV: A Conversation with Duncan M. Hamilton

Image Place holder  of - 39So: you’ve read Dragonslayer, you’ve read Knight of the Silver Circle, and you’ve preordered Servant of the Crown (and read the excerpt several times, of course). We know you’ve got to fill the time between now and March 10th somehow, so we spoke with author Duncan M. Hamilton about his writing process, the experience of publishing on an accelerated schedule, and… pancakes vs. waffles, naturally.

 


On Writing

Books 1 to 3 are coming out so fast! How many words do you write a day?

Unless I’m on vacation, or have something else on, I write every day. In the past I’ve set myself a target of about 2000 words per day, but it’s a very loose concept that I’ve been gradually moving away from. On a day when the boilers are running at full pressure, 6000 seems easy, and on a bad day, 500 feels like crawling across a field of broken glass. Stopping at 2k on a day when I’m running at full steam seems a waste, and trying to force out 2k on a bad day just means 2000 words that’ll need heavy editing or deletion later on, so it’s a bit of a false economy. These days I’m starting to think about it more as focused time at my desk, and let the numbers fall where they may. I’m finding that’s a more effective approach, and better for maintaining a healthier work/life balance!

Your whole series is coming out in less than a year! What fantasy series have you read from start to finish lately?

I’m embarrassed to say I can’t recall. I tend to mainly read history these days.

What’s your writing routine?

I keep trying to establish a set routine, but haven’t managed it yet. I’m hoping the new ‘time at desk’ approach I mentioned in the first answer above will help develop that. It’s more of a lifestyle really. I’m trying to cut down on the 3am finishes though, which I’ve a bit of a bad habit of.

How do you fight writer’s block?

To be honest, I don’t believe in writers block. You’ll have good days and bad days writing. Making a thing out of the bad days just makes a thing out them – it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I’m having a slow day, I’ll sometimes take a break for an hour or two and spend it on one of my many distractions and hobbies. That lets me forget about the story for a little while, and when I get back to my desk it’s usually with a refreshed attitude. The bottom line here is, I love to write. I always have. At times it feels like a compulsion, and it’s usually harder for me to stop than it is to get started.

On the Series

How do things get bigger and better in book 2?

Everything starts to gain momentum – things that were getting pushed up the mountainside in Book 1 have tipped over the peak and are accelerating down the other side, often beyond the control of the characters who pushed them up. That forces the characters to deal with events that become ever more expansive, and have ever graver stakes. There’s also a lot more from the dragon point of view, which from the reader feedback I’ve been getting on Book 1, seems to be something people are really enjoying.

We got into a little trouble a few months ago trying to define what a dragon was on social media. What’s your take? What makes a dragon a dragon?

I’m a bit of a traditionalist. For me it’s four legs and two wings. Something with two legs and two wings is a wyvern! I think the term ‘dragon’ is a bit of a catchall now, though, for all of the great serpent/lizard style creatures from world mythology and fantasy. Personally, I like to learn about the differences, and the unique names that go with them.

[Editor’s note: read more of Duncan’s thoughts on dragons right over here.]

We know playing favorites can be dangerous, but we love the array of dragons coming in book 2. Do you have a favorite?

Yes, and I think that’ll be obvious when you read it!

On Fantasy

Other than the dragon, what are your top fantastical creatures?

Probably werewolves. Their mythology has always intrigued me, and I went through a gothic horror werewolf story writing phase in my late teens. It’s something I’ve been tempted to revisit a few times…

What’s your favorite fantasy ingredient? (For instance, faves around the office include: Chosen Ones, lost royalty, talking animals, magic has a cost, etc)

Oh, so many to choose from. That’s why I love to write fantasy. The lore of lost and forgotten civilizations, with the promise of ancient and powerful objects (particularly swords) to be discovered, is an old favorite. Farm boy saves the kingdom is another. As is reluctant, older, disaffected warrior finds redemption and new purpose in life against the backdrop of fierce dragons and cunning foes. Hmmm… why does that last one sound familiar?

Alright. Fantasy rapid fire time!

Broadswords or dual-wielding?

Damn you! I want both! (not necessarily at the same time)

Wizards or warriors?

Warriors.

Pancakes or waffles?

DAMN YOU! I WANT BOTH! (preferably at the same time)

Ice Dragons or Fire Dragons?

Fire.

Animal companion or magical object?

Going to have to go with the magic sword on this one.

Lone wolves or teams of misfits?

Lone wolf unwillingly placed in team of misfits.


Order Your Copy of Servant of the Crown:

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How to Procrastinate #MagicXMayhem Style

Writers of the world RELATE because we’re talking procrastination. There’s no end to the distractions from writing, but everyone needs a break sometimes. All work no play does something that is undesirable (we’ve heard). So we sat down our Magic X Mayhem authors (Actually we sent them emails–they may have been sitting?) and asked about their favorite distractions from writing and editing the work we love so much.

What’s your favorite way to procrastinate when you should be writing?

(We promise not to tell your editor)

 

Andrew Bannister, author of Iron Gods

I am a world-class procrastinator. I’m so good that I don’t actually have to do anything active. I can procrastinate while sitting still. I can procrastinate while simply breathing. But that said, listening to records is a favourite, as anyone who seeks me out on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter will quickly discover.

Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars

Right now, as I’m writing this, I’m on book tour, so the way I’m procrastinating is by collapsing onto my hotel bed, watching old episodes of Chopped, and eating as many Chees-Its as I can fit into my face. When I’m at home, I like to procrastinate by cleaning and coming up with elaborate recipes to try out. You know I’m on a tight deadline if I’m scrubbing the baseboards or googling ‘where to buy lamb tongue’.

Max Gladstone, author of Empress of Forever

Category error! Writing is a way to procrastinate from the rest of life.

Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves

Place holder  of - 79Small scale? Spider solitaire is excellent for clearing the mind of the modern and mundane before diving into a difficult scene. Or large scale? Binge-watching four seasons of Lucifer in three nights is necessary in order to study the story and character arcs and experience the rising tension to remember what I’m striving for, even if it means staying up far too late…

 

Duncan Hamilton, author of Dragonslayer

It’s not procrastinating, it’s ideating!

Saad Z. Hossain, author of The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday

I game for hours at night, often with a crew of three or four friends. We live in different countries, so gaming together, talking shit is a priceless way of keeping touch. Right now we are playing Red Dead Redemption 2 online. It’s a cowboy game, we spend a lot of time hunting, fishing, and hogtying random people. Not sure this is procrastination though. My view is that during downtime, your brain is still trying to process the story. Whenever you actually put down something on paper, I don’t know it’s like a quantum event almost, all those other possibilities just seem to die and you can’t get them back even if you go for rewrites or edits or whatever. So sometimes procrastination is good, it’s healthy. I look like I’m not doing anything but in reality… ok fine I’m not doing anything.

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S.L. Huang, author of Null Set

Beating people up on the mat! (Or getting beaten up.) It’s okay, you can tell my editor—she does it too!

Tamsyn Muir, author of Gideon the Ninth

I play Donkey Kong Country on the SNES, because I am so unbelievably bad at Donkey Kong Country that after ten minutes I am more than ready to switch to something that I am more competent at than playing Donkey Kong Country, which is anything else.

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Brian Naslund, author of Blood of an Exile:

I have a low-key addiction to reading “Today I Learned” facts on Reddit and going down Wikipedia rabbit holes about obscure animal behavior that could potentially be applied to dragons down the road.
I also have a bird feeder right outside the window by my desk, so I am definitely guilty of getting stuck with a scene, and spending 20 minutes looking at chickadees, which rarely helps solve the problem.

JY Yang, author of The Ascent to Godhood

I’m pretty sure he [my editor] knows anyway, he sees me posting about it on Twitter. My favourite way to procrastinate is some kind of eldritch combination between Tumblr, Instagram, and making art.

 

Stay tuned for more #magicXmayhem all summer long!

 

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Would You Swipe Right for These SFF Characters?

Would You Swipe Right for These SFF Characters?

Look some of us have already dreamed of dating fictional heroes (and villains). But what if SFF characters had Tinder profiles?

Authors Sarah Gailey, Duncan Hamilton, Tamsyn Muir, Brian Naslund, S.L Huang, Saad Z. Hossain, and Cate Glass indulged us and wrote up Tinder profiles for a few Magic X Mayhem characters.

Swipe up. We dare you.*

Please do not swipe in any direction, these are fake buttons.


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TEACHER, 10,000
???? miles away

Welcome! Welcome, on this happy day, to my Tinder profile. For ten thousand years I have waited in holy silence and solemn adoration of the one who is beyond death, the Kindly Resurrector, and now the time has arrived for me to be taken to the IHOP. Will it be you, child, who is found worthy of buying me a plate of Original Full Stack Buttermilk Pancakes? Perhaps it will. Or perhaps it will not! But oh, how glorious to fail in so sacred an endeavour. Lightly your bones shall lie, honoured for all time as one who gave their life’s blood to procure me an order of Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘n Fruity(R) Pancakes at the IHOP, along with a vanilla milkshake, which is my favourite. I cannot tell you how to take me to the IHOP; I do not know where the nearest IHOP is. Indeed, I am unsure whether the IHOP is even open at this time. This is a path that only you can walk – you, and the others who have come here in hope of the ultimate prize. There is little I know, and less I understand. All my faith tells me is that by the end of today – either on your dime, or another’s – I will be tucking into a heaped platter of Mexican Tres Leches Pancakes and a deliciously chilled vanilla milkshake, and that to me is the most beautiful mystery of them all.

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Ivy Gamble, mind your own business
Oakland

Seeking: No one, whatever, anyone
About: I’m probably too busy for friends or dating but whatever, I’ll try this thing out. Let’s get together for lots of drinks and no conversation about our pasts or emotions. Needy people need not apply. Don’t message me (please message me).

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Guillot dal Villevauvais, Gill for short
Mirabay

Former renowned swordsman seeks female, 30-40, for activities including, but not limited to, dragonslaying, overthrowing tyrants, and encountering ancient evils.

And romantic walks.

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Silas Bershad, 32
Terra

6′ 5″, 230 pounds

Full disclosure, I was convicted of a horrific crime by the King of Almira. But that was more than 10 years ago and it was a total misunderstanding.

Hobbies: Stalking dragons, killing dragons, drinking after killing dragons. Down to meet up for a beer before a slaying, too, in case I die.

Pretty outdoorsy. Mostly because I’m not technically allowed to sleep indoors or the king’ll have my head cut off (’cause of the whole exile thing). If you can bring your own tent, that’s a plus.

Swipe right if you like dragon tattoos, I have a bunch of them. But I also have a lot of body scarring from dragon-related injuries. Not the hot kind, though, like Geralt of Rivia. My body is kind of a mess. Just trying to be transparent here.

Not looking for anything long term because it’s very likely I’ll be dead in a week
Can’t host due to the 14-year exile / technically being homeless

What the people of Almira are saying about Silas Bershad:

“Don’t believe those stories about his foot-long cock. I mean, it’s fine, but it’s not legendary or anything.” – The Baroness of Umbrik’s Glade

“Silas Bershad is an asshole.” – The Baron of Umbrik’s Glade

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Melek Ahmer, ageless and undying
Katmandu

Melek Ahmer. Djinn King of Tuesday. And Mars. And copper. The Red King. Really just an all round top guy. Asleep for 5000 years so well rested. I like long walks, trampling the wildlife, and causing extinction level events. There will definitely be candlelight dinners, as electrical systems tend to malfunction around me. I also enjoy pets, specially mountain goats because they are very useful and we can eat them if we are hungry and also I can makes shoes and sarongs out of them.

I’m really interested in settling down with someone not a violent psychopath, someone who gets me, and cares about the simple things in life like eating, drinking, partying and occasional tyranny.

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Cas Russell, MYOB
Los Angeles

Independent ace mercenary seeks same. Don’t expect calls, texts, or any level of emotional support. But if people are out to kill you, I’ve got your back.

Note: I sleep with my gun.

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Zanj, 5000
Pirate Queen

old school > new school

“Anything less than the best is a felony”

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Placidio di Vasil
Cantagna

Background: Don’t ask. I mean, really don’t.

Swordfighting > Weaving

Swordfighting > Bathing

Swordfighting > Singing

Mead > Ale

Scars (mine) > Death (mine)

Considering the three elements of combat > Diving into a fight like a lunatic (you know who you are)

Ignore the hot woman I hang with (yes, I do respect her mind.) And ignore the feisty lad (not my kid, because I just don’t—reasons private) and the married guy who does weird things with paint, because I have nothing in common with him. Or any of them.

OK, never mind. I knew you were going to say that.

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Stay tuned for more #magicXmayhem all summer long!

 

bookmagic

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New Releases: 7/2

New Releases

Happy New Releases Day! Here’s what went on sale today.

Dragonslayer by Duncan M. Hamilton

Place holder  of - 16With the dragons believed dead, the kingdom had no more need for dragonslayers.

Drunk, disgraced, and all but forgotten, Guillot has long since left his days of heroism behind him.

As forgotten places are disturbed in the quest for power, and things long dormant awaken, the kingdom finds itself in need of a dragonslayer once again, and Guillot is the only one left…

Emperor of the Universe by David Lubar

Image Place holder  of - 5The launch of a madcap space adventure trilogy for young readers by David Lubar, author of the popular Weenies Tales!

When seventh grader Nicholas V. Landrew, his beloved pet gerbil Henrietta, and a package of ground beef are beamed aboard an alien space ship, they soon find themselves on the run in a madcap chase across the universe.

Now all Nicholas wants to do is get back home before his parents find out and ground him forever, but with the Universal Police hot on his trail, that won’t be easy. Before it’s all over, Henrietta will find herself safely ensconced back in her cage, Nicholas will be crowned Emperor of the Universe, and something even more surprising will happen to the package of ground beef.

Heart of Barkness by Spencer Quinn

Placeholder of  -48Chet the dog, “the most lovable narrator in all of crime fiction” (Boston Globe) and P.I. Bernie encounter heartache and much worse in the world of country music. They’re both music lovers, so when Lotty Pilgrim, a country singer from long ago, turns up at a local bar, they drive out to catch her act. Bernie’s surprised to see someone who was once so big performing in such a dive, and drops a C-note the Little Detective Agency can’t afford to part with into the tip jar. The C-note is stolen right from under their noses – even from under Chet’s, the nose that misses nothing – and before the night is over, it’s stolen again.

Soon they’re working the most puzzling case of their career, a case that takes them back in time in search of old border-town secrets, and into present-day danger where powerful people want those secrets to stay hidden. Chet and Bernie find themselves sucked into a real-life murder ballad where there is no one to trust but each other.

The Heart of Hell by Wayne Barlowe

Image Placeholder of - 85Sargatanas has Ascended and the doomed, anguished souls have found themselves emancipated. Hell has changed…hasn’t it? The demons, wardens of the souls, are free of their inmates…

And the damned, liberated from their terrible torments, twisted and bent but thankful that they are no longer forced to be in proximity to their fearsome jailors, rejoice. But something is stirring under the surface of Hell’s ceaseless carnage…and into this terrible landscape come three entities:

Lilith, the former First Consort to Beelzebub and her Sisters of Sargatanas trying to find a way to save Hannibal…again;

Boudica, a brick no more, forever in search of her lost daughters;

Adramalik, the former Grand Master of the Priory of the Fly reduced to serving a new lord, Ai Apaec, and seeking his destiny as Prince of Hell.

Each will come across new terrors, new infernal monstrosities, all beyond even their imaginations, untouched by what Sargatanas wrought.

Is there something older than Hell? Something no demon, born of Heaven or Hell, ever suspected?

What new horror, what rough beast, its hour come round at last… could possibly be hidden in Hell?

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The Best and Worst SFF Worlds—According to Our MagicXMayhem Authors

Some fantasy worlds leave us aching for a passport to another world. Some futures seem worth skipping the present for. Others…not so much. We asked our Magic X Mayhem authors which SFF worlds they would most and least like to try out and—not to sound like a lousy clickbait article—some of their answers might surprise you.

What are the SFF worlds you would most and least like to live in?

 

Sarah Gailey author of Magic for Liars

Most: The world of Abhorsen by Garth Nix. The magic system is just so COOL. I’d have to learn how to whistle, though.
Least: The world of Harry Potter. We’ve got enough regular fascists, I don’t need wizard fascists too.

Duncan Hamilton, author of Dragonslayer

Most: Westeros, north of the wall. I’ve never seen so much untracked powder…

Tamsyn Muir, author of Gideon the Ninth

Most: Dinétah from Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning so that I could, with sweaty palms and dry mouth, shake Maggie Hoskie’s hand.
Least: Dinétah from Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning, because I am weak and would just be gnawed to death or shot before I ever got to sweatily shake Maggie Hoskie’s hand. I guess I could nod respectfully at her as I died.

Brian Naslund, author of Blood of an Exile

Most: Tamriel, because I’ve spent enough time playing Elder Scrolls games that you can drop me anywhere and two weeks later I’ll be a moderately successful adventurer with a decent house. (Or I’ll have been killed by a mud crab within five minutes, but I’m willing to risk it.)
Least: Mad Max Universe, because I’m very prone to rashes and a desert apocalypse environment seems very rash-inducing, with very few options for treating said rashes. Also, murderous raiders don’t seem like great neighbors.

JY Yang, author of The Ascent to Godhood

Most: Honestly I would love to live a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…. Star Wars was the first thing that truly got me into SFF as a child, I just loved its textures and its sense of fun. The juxtaposition of its high-gloss centers of power and sand-crusted backwaters. I too would like to silence irritants during work meetings with the power of my mind, or tell the fuzz that these are not the droids you are looking for…
Least: The worlds I would least like to live in are all the post-apocalyptic ones. Sure, Fury Road was fun and everything, but would I actually want to LIVE there? Hell no.

Max Gladstone, author of Empress of Forever

Most: Peter F. Hamilton has a knack for making weird, cool, adventurous and above all livable futures—before he takes a sledgehammer to them. The first half of The Reality Dysfunction, and most of Judas Unchained, are essentially Escape Velocity fanfic: sprawling adventurous futures in deep SPAAAACE, rich with secrets and opportunity. Yeah, eventually ghosts and aliens show up, but by the time they do you’re really bought into the future they’re wrecking! Banks’ Culture certainly seems like the most pleasant future on offer, so long as you’re not drowning in feces on a secret mission. Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosiverse would also be a good choice. There are a lot of things to do there.

Least: Most worlds with a destined savior, chosen one, or whatever. Not because I dislike the concept of destiny! But because worlds that turn around a Destined One tend to be pretty uninteresting if you’re not the One. What’s everyone else doing with their time?

S.L. Huang, author of Null Set

Most: Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire. It may be a terrible and violent dystopia, but I’d be able to do magic with MATH!
Least: …Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire.

Saad Z. Hossain, author of The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday

Most: I’d like to live in the Culture universe. Post-scarcity human society, totally utopian, sarcastic machine minds that are almost more human than human, glands that let you experience a plethora of mind-altering states without ill effect, killer drones at your beck and call… it doesn’t get better.
Least: The most horrible is probably Joe Abercrombie’s world. I mean it’s a standard dark fantasy world but the way he gives it to his characters, it’s almost impossible to believe anyone will get out with any shred of dignity, let alone an actual happy ending.

Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves

Least: Game of Thrones world. Whew. You can’t trust anybody.

Most: Roger Zelazny’s Amber, though only if I was one of the royal family and I could actually travel through Amber’s many reflections, finding one that was just perfect for me.

Andrew Bannister, author of Iron Gods

Least: This is going to seem strange, but the sff world I would least to live in would be anything that resembled Iain M Banks’ Culture. At first sight that must seem strange because who wouldn’t want to live in a utopia like that? No work, no ill health, unlimited leisure – what’s not to like? But Iain knew exactly what he was doing. The only time anything interesting happens in the Culture is as a result of external threat; so much so that the really interesting people join a secretive body called Special Circumstances which practically has the remit of going out to look for trouble. Without that, the people of the Culture are fundamentally unchallenged and bored.

Most: That leaves the question of where I would most like to live. A place where stuff is happening, I think. A place, a civilization in flux, experiencing some challenge. And I fancy somewhere sunny. How about the near-future South Africa of Lauren Beukes’ ‘Zoo City’? My only condition being that I would like to be one of the people with money.

 

Stay tuned for more #magicXmayhem all summer long!

 

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Why Dragons?

Place holder  of - 37Who doesn’t love a good dragon? Fantasy’s favorite fictional reptile is ruling the summer here at Tor, and Dragonslayer author Duncan Hamilton has some thoughts on why.

Read on below and grab your copy of Dragonslayer on July 2.


Dragons have always fascinated me. There’s something intriguing about their ancient and mysterious nature, not to mention the fact that they are not creations of modern fiction. They feature in many of the myths and legends of different cultures around the world, in such similar ways, yet with many distinct qualities, that they are incredibly compelling as subject matter.

Growing up in Europe, I was regularly exposed to dragons in myth and legend, from the story of Saint George and the Dragon to the péists associated with Irish bogs and rivers. Cast the net a little wider, and the dragon can quickly be seen to be an ancient global phenomenon.

I think any creature that has such a firm place in the human psyche—whether it was born of our ancestors trying to make sense of dinosaur fossils or is something hardwired into our brains from a time when snakes and large reptiles presented a threat to our survival—will always resonate far more than a creature of modern invention. Even those who aren’t fantasy fans are likely to be aware of dragons, though they might be unfamiliar with orcs or other creatures of modern fantasy fiction.

Ever since I started writing fantasy novels, I have wanted to write about dragons. For an author, they present a range of possibilities that is both inspiring and exciting. One thing that I think makes them so compelling is the wide range of characters they present, from the malevolent Smaug in The Hobbit, to the wise and magnanimous Draco (aka Sean Connery), from Dragonheart. This gives the writer tremendous freedom since readers will have no expectations. Dragons can be heroes. They can be villains. Perhaps they can even be both.

A dragon packs a double punch as an antagonist. The first is it’s physical presence, with size, and its intimidating form—scales, teeth, claws, and horns—setting the tone. With nothing else added to the mix, it will clearly be a formidable opponent for any would-be hero.

The second is the question of intelligence. The writer can choose to make a dragon a base creature capable of nothing more than instinctive actions or to give it great wisdom and intelligence. The wise dragon is fascinating—it might possess ancient knowledge, the answers to ancient mysteries and weighty questions. The malevolence of intelligence can be a far more powerful force for an antagonist than anything physical.

When you have the opportunity to combine both of these characteristics, the result becomes far more than the sum of the parts. But that is only for an antagonist. Dragons offer far more. Just as humans can be good, bad, and everything in between, so too can dragons.

As ally or antagonist, the dragon offers as blank a canvas as any human. Even if the creature only plays a supporting role, it occupies an important space. In my previous trilogy, The Wolf of the North, an ancient figure who may or may not be a dragon (no spoilers here!) occupies only a few pages of the trilogy, yet I get as many messages about him as I do any of the other characters.

The dragon is a powerful tool for an author, one that taps into a huge pre-existing body of literature, legend, and mythology, and is a fantasy element that the reader can instantly identify with. Possessed of so wide a range of characteristics, they provide an unmatched opportunity for any fantasy author to enrich their stories, and a worthy challenge to put their own unique stamp on.

Order Your Copy of Dragonslayer:

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The Ultimate Magic X Mayhem Playlist

We asked the authors of Magic X Mayhem to pick theme songs for their main characters. And the resulting playlist is definitely full of mayhem. We advise listening to it on shuffle to maximize the chaos.

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Pick a Theme Song for Your Main Character

 

JY Yang, author of The Ascent to Godhood

YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW LONG I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO ASK ME THIS because in the process of writing the first two Tensorate novellas I definitely came up with theme songs for the Sanao twins. They’re classic Mandopop songs from my childhood and now I have a chance to inflict them upon the world:
Akeha’s theme song is “潇洒走一回” (loosely meaning like “to live without care/restraint”): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ8Hxm2W5Ts It’s hard to explain the meaning of the song, just enjoy the music.)
Mokoya’s theme song is “橄榄树” (The Olive Tree): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u3MRVXGU9M (“Don’t ask me where I’m from/Home is far away/Why do I wander?/Wander these lost places”)

Brian Naslund, author of Blood of an Exile:

“When the Levee Breaks”, Led Zeppelin

Tamsyn Muir, author of Gideon the Ninth

This already got picked for me, so Gideon’s theme song is Cobra Starship’s “Good Girls Go Bad”, sorry.

S.L. Huang, author of Null Set

Eye of the Tiger”.

Saad Z. Hossain, author of The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday

“I’m too Sexy” by Right Said Fred

Duncan Hamilton, author of Dragonslayer

I picked my villain for this – Amaury, the Prince Bishop – “Wannabe”, by the Spice Girls.

Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves

For Romy? “Black Magic Woman” from Santana. “I’ve got a black magic woman; got me so blind I can’t see…”

Max Gladstone, author of Empress of Forever

For Vivian Liao, tech billionaire turned far-future survivor: “Power,” by Kanye West (from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy).
“Living in the 21st Century / doing something mean to it”

For Zanj, imprisoned pirate queen: “What’s Up Danger”, by Blackway & Black Caviar (from the Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse Soundtrack).

Sarah Gailey author of Magic for Liars

“Don’t Ask Me” by OK GO

Andrew Bannister, author of Iron Gods

Goodness, that’s difficult. But I think “Isobel” by Bjork comes close. It captures her sense of separation, of the unbreakable self-contained core of her.

 

Stay tuned for more #magicXmayhem all summer long!

 

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Magic or Mayhem?

Our year of Magic X Mayhem is about to kick into high gear, and our authors are more than ready.

We asked them: Magic or Mayhem? and the results are pretty wild. But then again, we expected no less.

Magic or Mayhem?

Andrew Bannister, author of Iron Gods

Definitely mayhem, because people are the cause and the cure (if it needs during) of mayhem, and people are my favorite thing. Magic, on the other hand, seems to me to be somehow detached from people. Also, let’s face it, mayhem is fun!

Sarah Gailey, author of Magic for Liars

Magic, because I’ve already had enough Mayhem to last me a little while.

Max Gladstone, author of Empress of Forever

Mayhem! Especially for Empress of Forever. Magic is many things to many people—it’s a tool for revolution or a technology for control. Mayhem is always and truly mayhem.

Cate Glass, author of An Illusion of Thieves

Image Placeholder of - 15Magic most definitely! Designing and writing magic is at least as cool as doing magic. It’s fun teaching it to your characters, especially in a world like the Chimera world, where there are no schools of magic, no books of lore, and asking questions about it can get you dead. I enjoy deciding what it feels like and watching them mess up and discover the cost. I do occasionally deprive my beloved characters of body parts—or at least the temporary use of them—and I’ve been known to stuff an extra soul into a person’s body, which I think would qualify as mayhem. That is the price of them having me write their stories. It is all for their own good.

Duncan Hamilton, author of Dragonslayer

Mayhem! Because, well, MAYHEM!!

Saad Z. Hossain, author of The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday

I gotta go with magic. Magic just gives us endless possibilities and fun. I think we spend our whole lives trying to actually find some magic, and this search for magic is what keeps us alive. Do you remember that childhood yearning for actual magic to exist, any little bit of it, that desperate wish for hidden worlds to exist, even if we can’t see them or be a part of them? The sense of wonder? The conviction that impossible things might happen any minute? We become beggars when we lose that, plodding along trying to get ahead of some useless drudgery.

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S.L. Huang, author of Null Set

Mayhem. Because let’s be real, if I had magic, I’d just use it to create more mayhem.

Andrew Bannister, author of Creation Machine

Magic or mayhem? Definitely mayhem, because people are the cause and the cure (if it needs curing) of mayhem, and people are my favourite thing. Magic, on the other hand, seems to me to be somehow detached from people. Also, let’s face it, mayhem is fun!

Tamsyn Muir, author of Gideon the Ninth

Magic, because I am aspirational and can already cause mayhem on my own.

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Brian Naslund, author of Blood of an Exile:

Mayhem! Spells and incantations are cool, but anarchy is far more interesting. Life’s always a little more colorful when the world is completely falling apart.

JY Yang, author of The Ascent to Godhood

insert “Why not both?” gif, and also “Both. Both is good.”*

(Note from Tor: Reader, we inserted the .gifs)

But if I really had to pick one, it would be magic. Why? Because mayhem is fun, but magic actually gets shit done.

 

Stay tuned for more #magicXmayhem all summer long!

 

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Roll Up a #MagicXMayhem Character!

We’re a thief in a haunted space castle with a Hand of Glory who’s definitely fomenting rebellion.

Who are you?

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Learn more about the books of #magicXmayhem:

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

Dragonslayer by Duncan M. Hamilton

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

The Ascent to Godhood by JY Yang

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z. Hossain

Blood of an Exile by Brian Naslund

An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

And look for more magic and mayhem later this summer featuring:

Elizabeth Bear’s The Red-Stained Wings
Cherie Priest’s The Toll
Andrew Bannister’s Iron Gods
S. L. Huang’s Null Set
Max Gladstone’s Empress of Forever

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