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8 Evergreen Reads

Our listicle scientists worked really hard to distill this one: Evergreen reads perfect for any time, but critically–only those that have an appropriately thematic green cover. This is our list green reads. Evergreen reads. 

Check em’ out! 


in the lives of puppets by tj kluneIn the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune

Victor Lawson, a human, lives with his family of robots in a house among a strange grove of trees. Those green trees earn this queer retelling of Pinocchio its spot on this list of green books, but adventure is on the horizon, and it’s going to pull Victor out of the grove and into a quest to fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson from his captors in the City of Electric Dreams. 

kinning by nisi shawlKinning by Nisi Shawl

This title continues where Shawl’s Everfair leaves off: The island nation of Everfair has persisted in defiance of European colonizers. In this alternate history, barkcloth airships dot the sky and varied peoples come together to form a new society. As enemies within and without challenge whether Everfair will continue to serve as a symbol of hope, freedom, and equality to anticolonial movements around the world. 

Importantly within the context of this listicle, the cover of this title is a deep and calming green, but also on a deeper level, envisioning a world with kinder technologies and a brighter future is critical to creating a greener present. 

masters of death by olivie blakeMasters of Death by Olivie Blake

Like much of Blake’s work, Masters of Death combines the sacred and profane to synthesize profound implications. This is a book about the lives of immortals, and the dilemmas of mortals that plague all regardless of undying status. It’s also a story about a real estate agent who happens to be a vampire, and who happens to have a haunted house that happens to be quite difficult to sell as a result. The cover is a tranquil shade of green. 

the library of the dead by t l huchuThe Library of the Dead by T. L. Huchu

The hardcover cover for this title was actually a deep blue, but for the paperback edition, we’re all mean green here 😎

And that’s not all that’s mean… Something is stalking the streets and alleys of Edinburgh and leaving drained, huskified children in its wake. But don’t worry! Professional ghost talker Ropa is on the case! Or maybe you should worry. This entity is dangerous. 

after the forest by kell woodsAfter the Forest by Kell Woods

Twenty years after the fairy tale ends, Hans is drowning in debts from gambling and Greta’s trying to ignore the tempting whispers of the old witch’s grimoire that calls to her from where she hid it away. When dark magic enters the forest from the outside, Greta may need to call on her own, but down that path lays danger too. 

tress of the emerald sea by brandon sandersonTress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson

C’mon. This one’s got emerald in the title! It’s perfect! 

In this swashbuckling adventure, Tress must stow away on a ship in order to cross the green ocean that surrounds her island home to find the Sorceress of the Midnight Sea. Her aim is to save her friend, but just one drop of this water carries death. She may just have to settle for saving herself, or fatally failing altogether. 

thornhedge by t kingfisherThornhedge by T. Kingfisher

An impenetrable wall of brambles preserves a curse and holds a princess locked in a tower, but not all curses should be broken. The green of Thornhedge is tinged with a little red, both on the cover and in concept: Here we have the nature magic of faerie but also betrayal and bleeding secrets that have been kept far too long. 

heartsong by tj kluneHeartsong by TJ Klune

This list wouldn’t be complete without an entry from TJ Klune’s Green Creek series, right?? So enter, Heartsong, the werewolf book heart-melter with the greenest color palette. Just look at that starburst green with warm accents! This book about queer love between queer werewolves is evergreen for sure. 

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Twistory: History with a Twist

‘The past is in the past’ is a saying that, presumably at some point in the past, was said by somebody. But the past isn’t just in the past—not really. It’s also in a space outside of time, and even outside of actual space. It’s in books, and ironically, it’s not pre-written.

Novels twist the past into new stories, and we’ve got a list of great ones right here.


Kinningkinning by nisi shawl by Nisi Shawl

In her novel Everfair, Nisi Shawl imagined a new history, where technological innovations in the Congo gave a fledgling nation the resources and strength to challenge the tyrant Leopold II, a Belgian monarch and one of history’s bloodiest colonizers. In an alternate world where barkcloth airships soar through the sky, the nation of Everfair grapples with its identity in the wake of the Great War. Kinning chronicles the fight for the soul of Everfair to remain a beacon of hope and progress in the face of resistance both external and internal.


She Who Became the Sunshe who became the sun by shelley parker-chan by Shelley Parker-Chan

A reimagining of the rise of the Ming Dynasty, She Who Became the Sun follows a young girl whose brother is destined for greatness. Her brother is also dead, so in defiance of fate, she steals his identity, and his destiny. This is a story of betrayal, destiny, love, and lots and lots of betrayal. In the previous sentence, betrayal was mentioned twice. That was not a mistake. It’s the only way to properly evoke the potency of this book.


The First Bright Thingthe first bright thing by j r dawson by J. R. Dawson

Rin is a professional ringmaster who can jump through time, and her circus is a haven for the outcast and the magical. In the aftermath of World War I, times are tough, and the Circus of the Fantasticals is a welcome respite to audiences across the American midwest.But the present is not safe: There’s war in the future and Rin’s past stalks them in the form of a malevolent shadow circus.


Trouble the Saintstrouble the saints by alaya dawn johnson by Alaya Dawn Johnson

“Juju assassins, alternate history, a gritty New York crime story…in a word: awesome.” — N.K. Jemisin, New York Times bestselling author of The Fifth Season

In the dark glamor of New York city, an assassin tries to change her fate on the cusp of World War II. She was drawn from Harlem, bringing her knives to glittering Manhattan for work. She fell in love. She gave up on everything. The ghosts of the past never leave her side.

Ten years later, they show up on her doorstep.


The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval Englandthe frugal wizard's handbook for surviving medieval england by brandon sanderson by Brandon Sanderson

Hard to twist history more than dropping a cost-conscious magic-user into the medieval past.

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Our Ongoing Series of 2024

2024 is a big year with a lot of big books! Many of them take place in big worlds established in books that came before. Here’s all of our series that are getting a new entry this year, right here.


the atlas complex by olivie blakeThe Atlas Complex by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Complex marks the much-anticipated, heart-shattering conclusion in Olivie Blake’s trilogy that began with the New York Times bestselling phenomenon, The Atlas Six.

Only the extraordinary are chosen.

Only the cunning survive.

An explosive return to the library leaves the six Alexandrians vulnerable to the lethal terms of their recruitment.

Old alliances quickly fracture as the initiates take opposing strategies as to how to deal with the deadly bargain they have so far failed to uphold. Those who remain with the archives wrestle with the ethics of their astronomical abilities, while elsewhere, an unlikely pair from the Society cohort partner to influence politics on a global stage.

And still the outside world mobilizes to destroy them, while the Caretaker himself, Atlas Blakely, may yet succeed with a plan foreseen to have world-ending stakes. It’s a race to survive as the six Society recruits are faced with the question of what they’re willing to betray for limitless power—and who will be destroyed along the way.

On Sale 1/7/24


kinning by nisi shawlKinning by Nisi Shawl

Kinning, the sequel to Nisi Shawl’s acclaimed debut novel Everfair, continues the stunning alternate history where barkcloth airships soar through the sky, varied peoples build a new society together, and colonies claim their freedom from imperialist tyrants.

The Great War is over. Everfair has found peace within its borders. But our heroes’ stories are far from done.

Tink and his sister Bee-Lung are traveling the world via aircanoe, spreading the spores of a mysterious empathy-generating fungus. Through these spores, they seek to build bonds between people and help spread revolutionary sentiments of socialism and equality—the very ideals that led to Everfair’s founding.

Meanwhile, Everfair’s Princess Mwadi and Prince Ilunga return home from a sojourn in Egypt to vie for their country’s rule following the abdication of their father King Mwenda. But their mother, Queen Josina, manipulates them both from behind the scenes, while also pitting Europe’s influenza-weakened political powers against one another as these countries fight to regain control of their rebellious colonies.

Will Everfair continue to serve as a symbol of hope, freedom, and equality to anticolonial movements around the world, or will it fall to forces inside and out?

On Sale 1/23/24


from the forest by l.e. modesitt, jr.From the Forest by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

L. E. Modesitt, Jr. continues the Saga of Recluce, the long-running, best-selling epic fantasy series. In a new story arc, From the Forest follows the early life of a man known by many names depending on who you ask—hero, tyrant, emperor.

Alayiakal, who will one day be known by many names —not all of them flattering—has to climb the ranks of Cyador’s Mirror Lancers, fighting against unforeseen weapons and ancient technology.

Alayiakal, however, has secrets of his own to protect: his ties to the Great Forest and his magus abilities. He must silently pretend to be a conventional soldier favored by fate—until that very same fate forces him to choose.

On Sale 1/23/24


heartsong by tj kluneHeartsong by TJ Klune

The Bennett family has a secret: they’re not just a family, they’re a pack. Heartsong is Robbie Fontaine’s story.

All Robbie Fontaine ever wanted was a place to belong. After the death of his mother, he bounces around from pack to pack, forming temporary bonds to keep from turning feral. It’s enough—until he receives a summons from the wolf stronghold in Caswell, Maine. Life as the trusted second to Michelle Hughes—the Alpha of all—and the cherished friend of a gentle old witch teaches Robbie what it means to be pack, to have a home. But when a mission from Michelle sends Robbie into the field, he finds himself questioning where he belongs and everything he’s been told.

Whispers of traitorous wolves and wild magic abound—but who are the traitors and who the betrayed? More than anything, Robbie hungers for answers, because one of those alleged traitors is Kelly Bennett—the wolf who may be his mate.

The truth has a way of coming out. And when it does, everything will shatter.

On Sale 1/30/24


the bezzle by cory doctorowThe Bezzle by Cory Doctorow

New York Times bestseller Cory Doctorow’s The Bezzle is a high stakes thriller where the lives of the hundreds of thousands of inmates in California’s prisons are traded like stock shares.

The year is 2006. Martin Hench is at the top of his game as a self-employed forensic accountant, a veteran of the long guerrilla war between people who want to hide money, and people who want to find it. He spends his downtime on Catalina Island, where scenic, imported bison wander the bluffs and frozen, reheated fast food burgers cost $25. Wait, what? When Marty disrupts a seemingly innocuous scheme during a vacation on Catalina Island, he has no idea he’s kicked off a chain of events that will overtake the next decade of his life.

Martin has made his most dangerous mistake yet: trespassed into the playgrounds of the ultra-wealthy and spoiled their fun. To them, money is a tool, a game, and a way to keep score, and they’ve found their newest mark—California’s Department of Corrections. Secure in the knowledge that they’re living behind far too many firewalls of shell companies and investors ever to be identified, they are interested not in the lives they ruin, but only in how much money they can extract from the government and the hundreds of thousands of prisoners they have at their mercy.

A seething rebuke of the privatized prison system that delves deeply into the arcane and baroque financial chicanery involved in the 2008 financial crash, The Bezzle is a sizzling follow-up to Red Team Blues.

On Sale 2/20/24


lyorn by steven brustLyorn by Steven Brust

All The World’s A Happy Stage. Until the knives come out… Lyorn is the next adventure in Steven Brust’s bestselling Vlad Taltos series

Another Opening…Another Cataclysm?

Vlad Taltos is on the run. Again. This time from one of the most powerful forces in his world, the Left Hand, who are intent on ending his very lucrative career. Permanently.

He finds a hidey-hole in a theatre where the players are putting on a show that was banned centuries ago…and is trying to be shut down by the House that once literally killed to keep it from being played.

Vlad will take on a number of roles to save his own skin. And the skins of those he loves.

And along the way, he might find a part that was tailor-made for him.

One that he might not want…but was always his destiny.

On Sale 4/9/24


forge of the high mage by ian c. esslemontForge of the High Mage by Ian C. Esslemont

A riotous new novel takes readers deeper into the politics and intrigue of the New York Times bestselling Malazan Empire.

After decades of warfare, Malazan forces are poised to consolidate the Quon Tali mainland. Yet it is at this moment that Emperor Kellanved orders a new, some believe foolhardy campaign: the invasion of Falar that lies far to the north . . .

And to fight on this new front, a rag-tag army raised from orphaned units and broken squads is been brought together under Fist Dujek, and joined by a similarly motley fleet under the command of the Emperor himself.

So the Malazans head north, only to encounter an unlooked-for and most unwelcome threat. Something unspeakable and born of legend has awoken and will destroy all who stand in its way. Most appalled by this is the Empire’s untested High Mage, Tayschrenn. All too aware of the true nature of this ancient horror, he fears his own inadequacies when the time comes to confront it. Yet confront it he must.

Falar itself is far from defenseless. Its priests possess a weapon rumored to be a gift from the sea god, Mael—a weapon so terrifying it has not been unleashed for centuries. But two can play at that game, for the Emperor’s flagship is also believed to be not entirely of this world.

These are turbulent, treacherous and bloody times for all caught up in the forging of an Empire and so, amongst the Ice Wastes and in the archipelago of Falar, the Malazans must face two seemingly insurmountable tests, each one potentially the origin of their destruction . . .

On Sale 4/9/24


necrobane by daniel m. fordNecrobane by Daniel M. Ford

Aelis de Lenti, Lone Pine’s newly assigned Warden, is in deep trouble. She has just opened the crypts of Mahlgren, releasing an army of the undead into the unprotected backwoods of Ystain.

To protect her village, she must unearth a source of immense Necromantic power at the heart of Mahlgren. The journey will wind through waves of undead, untamed wilderness, and curses far older than anything Aelis has ever encountered. But as strong as Aelis is, this is one quest she cannot face alone.

Along with the brilliant mercenary she’s fallen for, her half-orc friend, and a dwarven merchant, Aelis must race the clock to unravel mysteries, slay dread creatures, and stop what she has set in motion before the flames of a bloody war are re-ignited.

On Sale 4/23/24


the daughters war by christopher buehlmanThe Daughter’s War by Christopher Buehlman

Enter the fray in this luminous new adventure from Christopher Buehlman, set during the war-torn, goblin-infested years just before The Blacktongue Thief.

The goblins have killed all of our horses and most of our men.

They have enslaved our cities, burned our fields, and still they wage war.

Now, our daughters take up arms.

Galva — Galvicha to her three brothers, two of whom the goblins will kill — has defied her family’s wishes and joined the army’s untested new unit, the Raven Knights. They march toward a once-beautiful city overrun by the goblin horde, accompanied by scores of giant war corvids. Made with the darkest magics, these fearsome black birds may hold the key to stopping the goblins in their war to make cattle of mankind.

The road to victory is bloody, and goblins are clever and merciless. The Raven Knights can take nothing for granted — not the bonds of family, nor the wisdom of their leaders, nor their own safety against the dangerous war birds at their side. But some hopes are worth any risk.

On Sale 6/25/2024


blood jade by julia vee & ken bebelleBlood Jade by Julia Vee & Ken Bebelle

The follow-up to Ebony Gate, the critically acclaimed debut of Vee and Bebelle’s Phoenix Hoard series.

IT TAKES A KILLER TO CATCH A KILLER

Emiko Soong, newly minted Sentinel of San Francisco, just can’t catch a break. Just after she becomes the guardian for a sentient city, a murder strikes close to home. Called by the city and one of the most powerful clans to investigate, she traces the killer whose scent signature bears a haunting similarity to her mother’s talent.

The trail will lead her back to Tokyo where the thread she pulls threatens to unravel her whole world and bring dark family secrets to light.

Meanwhile, the General rises in the East and Emiko must fight the hidden enemies of his growing army who are amped up on Blood Jade, while keeping her promises to her brother Tatsuya as he prepares for his tourney.

Her duties as Sentinel and her loyalties collide when she must choose between hiding her deepest shame or stopping the General’s relentless march.

On Sale 7/16/24


gravity lost by l m sagasGravity Lost by L. M. Sagas

L. M. Sagas follows her fast-paced sci-fi adventure Cascade Failure with an equally explosive sequel, Gravity Lost. Everyone’s favorite fierce, messy, chaotic space fam is back with more vibrant worlds, and the wildest crew since Guardians of the Galaxy.

After thwarting a space station disaster and planetary destruction, the Ambit crew thought turning Isaiah Drestyn over to the Union would be the end of their troubles. Turns out, it’s only the start.

Drestyn is a walking encyclopedia of dirty secrets, and everyone wants a piece of him—the Trust, the Union, even the Guild. Someone wants him bad enough to kill, and with the life of one of their own on the line, the Ambit crew must jail-break the very man they helped capture and expose some of the secrets he’s been keeping before it’s too late.

In the Spiral, everything has a price. In their fight to protect what they love, Eoan, Nash, Saint, and Jal will confront some ugly truths about their enemies, and even uglier truths about their friends. But nothing will come close to the truths they’ll learn about themselves.

You can’t always fix what’s broken … and sometimes, it’s better that way.

On Sale 7/23/24


brothersong by tj kluneBrothersong by TJ Klune

The Bennett family has a secret: They’re not just a family, they’re a pack. Brothersong is Carter Bennett’s story.

In the ruins of Caswell, Maine, Carter Bennett learned the truth of what had been right in front of him the entire time. And then it—he—was gone. Desperate for answers, Carter takes to the road, leaving family and the safety of his pack behind, all in the name of a man he only knows as a feral wolf. But therein lies the danger: wolves are pack animals, and the longer Carter is on his own, the more his mind slips toward the endless void of Omega insanity. But he pushes on, following the trail left by Gavin.

Gavin, the son of Robert Livingstone. The half-brother of Gordo Livingstone.

What Carter finds will change the course of the wolves forever. Because Gavin’s history with the Bennett pack goes back further than anyone knows, a secret kept hidden by Carter’s father, Thomas Bennett. And with this knowledge comes a price: the sins of the fathers now rest upon the shoulders of their sons.

On Sale 7/30/24


the doors of midnight by r r virdiThe Doors of Midnight by R.R. Virdi

Myths begin, and a storyteller’s tale deepens, in the essential sequel to R.R. Virdi’s breakout Silk Road-inspired epic fantasy debut, The First Binding.

Some stories are hidden for a reason. All tales have a price. And every debt must be paid.

I killed three men as a child and earned the name Bloodletter. Then I set fire to the fabled Ashram. I’ve been a bird and robbed a merchant king of a ransom of gold. And I have crossed desert sands and cutthroat alleys to repay my debt.

I’ve stood before the eyes of god, faced his judgment, and cast aside the thousand arrows that came with it. And I have passed through the Doors of Midnight and lived to tell the tale.

I have traded one hundred and one stories with a creature as old as time, and survived with only my cleverness, a candle, and a broken promise.

And most recently of all, I have killed a prince, though the stories say I have killed more than one.

My name is Ari. These are my legends.

And these are my lies.

On Sale 8/13/24


breath of oblivion by maurice broaddusBreath of Oblivion by Maurice Broaddus

Maurice Broaddus returns with Breath of Oblivion, the second book in his Astra Black trilogy, that explores the struggles of an empire. Epic in scope and intimate in voice, it follows members of the Muungano empire—a far-reaching coalition of city-states that stretches from Earth to Titan – as it faces renewed threats to their progress.

On Sale 8/27/24


somewhere beyond the sea by tj kluneSomewhere Beyond the Sea by TJ Klune

Featuring gorgeous golden yellow sprayed edges! Somewhere Beyond the Sea is the hugely anticipated sequel to TJ Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea, one of the best-loved and best-selling fantasy novels of the past decade.

A magical house. A secret past. A summons that could change everything.

Arthur Parnassus lives a good life built on the ashes of a bad one.

He’s the headmaster of a strange orphanage on a distant and peculiar island, and he hopes to soon be the adoptive father to the six dangerous and magical children who live there.

Arthur works hard and loves with his whole heart so none of the children ever feel the neglect and pain that he once felt as an orphan on that very same island so long ago. He is not alone: joining him is the love of his life, Linus Baker, a former caseworker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. And there’s the island’s sprite, Zoe Chapelwhite, and her girlfriend, Mayor Helen Webb. Together, they will do anything to protect the children.

But when Arthur is summoned to make a public statement about his dark past, he finds himself at the helm of a fight for the future that his family, and all magical people, deserve.

And when a new magical child hopes to join them on their island home—one who finds power in calling himself monster, a name that Arthur worked so hard to protect his children from—Arthur knows they’re at a breaking point: their family will either grow stronger than ever or fall apart.

Welcome back to Marsyas Island. This is Arthur’s story.

On Sale 9/10/24


rumor has it by cat ramboRumor Has It by Cat Rambo

The crew of the You Sexy Thing navigates the aftermath of facing down a pirate king and the relationships that they have created with one another in Cat Rambo’s action adventure science fiction Rumor Has It, the third book in the Disco Space Opera.

The crew of the You Sexy Thing have laid a course for Coralind Station, hoping the station’s famed gardens will provide an opportunity to regroup, recoup, and mourn their losses while while finding a way to track down their enemy, pirate king Tubal Last.

All Niko wants to do is pry their insurance money from the bank and see if an old friend might be able to help them find Last. Unfortunately, old friends and enemies aren’t the only unreliable elements awaiting her and the crew at Coralind.

Each will have to face themselves—the good and the bad—in order to come together before they lose everything

On Sale 9/24/24


monstrous nights by genoveva dimovaMonstrous Nights by Genoveva Dimova

Dive into the breakneck conclusion to the Slavic folklore-inspired Witch’s Compendium of Monsters series, which began with Foul Days.

With her magic reclaimed and her role in the community of Chernograd restored, Kosara’s life should finally be back to normal—but, of course, things can’t possibly be that simple.

She is now in possession of twelve witch’s shadows, which belonged to a series of young, magically powerful women lured into the deadly marriage with the Zmey that Kosara only narrowly escaped as a young woman. Holding them may grant her unprecedented power, but that doesn’t mean they’re always willing to do her bidding.

Across the wall in Belograd, Asen chases the only lead on his latest case, one of several unsolved witch murders, even against the orders of his direct superior and the mayor. He’s convinced the smuggling kingpin Konstantin Karaivanov is behind them, and follows his trail to an underground monster auction—which leads him right back to Chernograd.

There, sinister events follow one after another: snow falls in midsummer, a witch with two shadows is found dead, monsters that should only appear during the Foul Days have been sighted, and cracks appear in the sky that only Kosara seems able to see. The barrier between worlds thins… and Kosara can’t help but feel her actions are the cause.

On Sale 10/22/24


usurpation by sue burkeUsurpation by Sue Burke

After her rollicking standalone Dual Memory, Sue Burke returns to her Semiosis series and the world of Pax in Usurpation, which combines the thrill of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening with the eco-empowerment of VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts.

Steveland, the dominant sentient lifeform of Pax, has clandestinely sent some of its progeny to Earth. To explore, to spread, to report back.

Since their germination, Earth has been a powder keg. Human rebellion, robot uprisings, and global pandemics have created chaos, distrust, and deaths.

As more and more conflicts break out across Earth, Stevland’s children work in the background, in an attempt to control human behavior and perhaps, bring peace to the planet. Stevland took control of Pax. Earth shouldn’t be too difficult…

On Sale 10/29/24


the relentless legion by j s dewesThe Relentless Legion by J. S. Dewes

J. S. Dewes is back with her acclaimed and action packed Divide series (The Last Watch, The Exiled Fleet) where The Expanse meets the Night’s Watch.

The Sentinels have rallied under the leadership of Adequin Rake, and Cavalon Mercer has uncovered the horrifying genetic solution his grandfather is about to unleash on the unsuspecting outer colonies.

Both Rake and Cavalon race against time to save the universe once again. They’ll need every resource, every ally who might answer the call.

It may not be enough.

On Sale 11/12/24


witch queen of redwinter by ed mcdonaldWitch Queen of Redwinter by Ed McDonald

Witch Queen of Redwinter is the third book in Ed McDonald’s Redwinter Chronicles, full of shady politics, militant monks, ancient powers… and a young woman navigating a world in which no one is quite what they seem.

On Sale 11/12/24


overcaptain by l e modesitt, jrOvercaptain by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

L. E. Modesitt, Jr. continues the Saga of Recluce, the long-running, best-selling epic fantasy series. Overcaptain, the sequel to From the Forest, continues to follow the early life of a man known by many names depending on who you ask—hero, tyrant, emperor.

Alyiakal, overcaptain in the Mirror Lancers of Cyador, has completed his tour of duty as officer-in-charge of a small, remote post. He just wants to finish and see his best friend consorted and assume his next post assignment. If only it were that easy.

He discovers corruption in the Merchanter Clans of Cyador, but investigating Mirror Lancer officers end up dead. Before he can go on leave, he has to replace one of these officers, close a post, dodge an attempt on his life, and an investigation from Magi-i.

At Lhaarat, Alyiakal is assigned as a deputy commander to a post that never had one, and the commander doesn’t want one—and that’s just the beginning of Alyiakal’s problems.

On Sale 11/12/24


The Fate of Silent Godsthe fate of silent gods by scott drakeford by Scott Drakeford

The Fate of Silent Gods continues Scott Drakeford’s epic Age of Ire series that began with Rise of the Mages, where a young warrior and his improbable band of allies faced impossible odds as they sought to rescue his brother from the servants of the Fallen God.

On Sale 11/19/24


wind and truth by brandon sandersonWind and Truth by Brandon Sanderson

The long-awaited explosive climax to the first arc of the #1 New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive.

Dalinar Kholin has challenged the evil god Odium to a contest of champions, and the Knights Radiant and the nations of Roshar have a mere 10 days to prepare for the worst. The fate of the entire world—and the Cosmere at large—hangs in the balance.

On Sale 12/6/24

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TOR BOOKS’ EXTREME WINTER QUIZ

by a cat 

Ever hear the phrase dead of winter? 

Yeah? Well forget it. This is the winter of being ALIVE and we’re taking that to the EXTREME.

Because nothing is more EXTREME than a silly quiz. Remember that. 

Forget the dead of winter; remember that.

Check it out!



And while you’ve got books on the brain, check out The Atlas Complex by Olivie Blake, and don’t forget to enter our gift-with-purchase campaign to receive a cool enamel pin!

left: enamel pin with sword and starscape design on the atlas complex cover right: the atlas complex by olivie blake text: pin enlarged to show detail; actual size 2"x1.53"

Pre-order The Atlas Complex in Here:

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Every Tor Book Coming this Winter

If you’re like us, then your New Year’s resolution is to read more books this winter! This handy list of everything from Tor this season will help ☃️✨

Check it out!


December 5, 2023

All the Hidden Pathsall the hidden paths by foz meadows by Foz Meadows

With the plot against them foiled and the city of Qi-Katai in safe hands, newlywed and tentative lovers Velasin and Caethari have just begun to test the waters of their relationship. But the wider political ramifications of their marriage are still playing out across two nations, and all too soon, they’re summoned north to Tithena’s capital city, Qi-Xihan, to present themselves to its monarch. With Caethari newly invested as his grandmother’s heir and Velasin’s old ghosts gnawing at his heels, what little peace they’ve managed to find is swiftly put to the test. Cae’s recent losses have left him racked with grief and guilt, while Vel struggles with the disconnect between instincts that have kept him safe in secrecy and what an open life requires of him now. Pursued by unknown assailants and with Qi-Xihan’s court factions jockeying for power, Vel and Cae must use all the skills at their disposal to not only survive, but thrive.


January 9, 2024

The Atlas Complexthe atlas complex by olivie blake by Olivie Blake

Only the extraordinary are chosen. Only the cunning survive. An explosive return to the library leaves the six Alexandrians vulnerable to the lethal terms of their recruitment. Old alliances quickly fracture as the initiates take opposing strategies as to how to deal with the deadly bargain they have so far failed to uphold. Those who remain with the archives wrestle with the ethics of their astronomical abilities, while elsewhere, an unlikely pair from the Society cohort partner to influence politics on a global stage. And still the outside world mobilizes to destroy them, while the Caretaker himself, Atlas Blakely, may yet succeed with a plan foreseen to have world-ending stakes. It’s a race to survive as the six Society recruits are faced with the question of what they’re willing to betray for limitless power—and who will be destroyed along the way.


January 16, 2024

To Challenge Heavento challenge heaven by david weber & chris kennedy by David Webber & Chris Kennedy

We’ve come a long way in the forty years since the Shongairi attacked Earth, killed half its people, and then were driven away by an alliance of humans with the other sentient bipeds who inhabit our planet. We took the technology they left behind, and rapidly built ourselves into a starfaring civilization. Because we haven’t got a moment to lose. Because it’s clear that there are even more powerful, more hostile aliens out there, and Earth needs allies. But it also transpires that the Shongairi expedition that nearly destroyed our home planet … wasn’t an official one. That, indeed, its commander may have been acting as an unwitting cats-paw for the Founders, the ancient alliance of very old, very evil aliens who run the Hegemony that dominates our galaxy, and who hold the Shongairi, as they hold most non-Founder species, in not-so-benign contempt. Indeed, it may turn out to be possible to turn the Shongairi into our allies against the Hegemony.


January 23, 2024

Kinningkinning by nisi shawl by Nisi Shawl

The Great War is over. Everfair has found peace within its borders. But our heroes’ stories are far from done. Tink and his sister Bee-Lung are traveling the world via aircanoe, spreading the spores of a mysterious empathy-generating fungus. Through these spores, they seek to build bonds between people and help spread revolutionary sentiments of socialism and equality—the very ideals that led to Everfair’s founding. Meanwhile, Everfair’s Princess Mwadi and Prince Ilunga return home from a sojourn in Egypt to vie for their country’s rule following the abdication of their father King Mwenda. But their mother, Queen Josina, manipulates them both from behind the scenes, while also pitting Europe’s influenza-weakened political powers against one another as these countries fight to regain control of their rebellious colonies. Will Everfair continue to serve as a symbol of hope, freedom, and equality to anticolonial movements around the world, or will it fall to forces inside and out?

From the Forestfrom the forest by l.e. modesitt, jr. by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

Alayiakal, who will one day be known by many names —not all of them flattering—has to climb the ranks of Cyador’s Mirror Lancers, fighting against unforeseen weapons and ancient technology. Alayiakal, however, has secrets of his own to protect: his ties to the Great Forest and his magus abilities. He must silently pretend to be a conventional soldier favored by fate—until that very same fate forces him to choose.

Stations of the Tidestations of the tide by michael swanwick by Michael Swanwick

The Jubilee Tides will drown the continents of the planet Miranda beneath the weight of her own oceans. But as the once-in-two-centuries cataclysm approaches, an even greater catastrophe threatens this dark and dangerous planet of tale-spinners, conjurers, and shapechangers. A man from the Bureau of Proscribed Technologies has been sent to investigate. For Gregorian has come, a genius renegade scientist and charismatic bush wizard. With magic and forbidden technology, he plans to remake the rotting, dying world in his own evil image—and to force whom or whatever remains on its diminishing surface toward a terrifying and astonishing confrontation with death and transcendence. This novel of surreal hard SF was compared to the fiction of Gene Wolfe when it was first published, and the author has gone on in the two decades since to become recognized as one of the finest living SF and fantasy writers.


January 30, 2024

Heartsongheartsong by tj klune by TJ Klune

All Robbie Fontaine ever wanted was a place to belong. After the death of his mother, he bounces around from pack to pack, forming temporary bonds to keep from turning feral. It’s enough—until he receives a summons from the wolf stronghold in Caswell, Maine. Life as the trusted second to Michelle Hughes—the Alpha of all—and the cherished friend of a gentle old witch teaches Robbie what it means to be pack, to have a home. But when a mission from Michelle sends Robbie into the field, he finds himself questioning where he belongs and everything he’s been told. Whispers of traitorous wolves and wild magic abound—but who are the traitors and who the betrayed? More than anything, Robbie hungers for answers, because one of those alleged traitors is Kelly Bennett—the wolf who may be his mate. The truth has a way of coming out. And when it does, everything will shatter.


February 13, 2024

Projectionsprojections by s.e. porter by S. E. Porter

Love may last a lifetime, but in this dark historical fantasy, the bitterness of rejection endures for centuries. As a young woman seeks vengeance on the obsessed sorcerer who murdered her because he could not have her, her murderer sends projections of himself out into the world to seek out and seduce women who will return the love she denied—or suffer mortal consequence. A lush, gothic journey across worlds full of strange characters and even stranger magic. Sarah Porter’s adult debut explores misogyny and the soul-corrupting power of unrequited love through an enchanted lens of violence and revenge.


February 20, 2024

The Bezzlethe bezzle by cory doctorow by Cory Doctorow

The year is 2006. Martin Hench is at the top of his game as a self-employed forensic accountant, a veteran of the long guerrilla war between people who want to hide money, and people who want to find it. He spends his downtime on Catalina Island, where scenic, imported bison wander the bluffs and frozen, reheated fast food burgers cost 25$. Wait, what? When Marty disrupts a seemingly innocuous scheme during a vacation on Catalina Island, he has no idea he’s kicked off a chain of events that will overtake the next decade of his life. Martin has made his most dangerous mistake yet: trespassed into the playgrounds of the ultra-wealthy and spoiled their fun. To them, money is a tool, a game, and a way to keep score, and they’ve found their newest mark—California’s Department of Corrections. Secure in the knowledge that they’re living behind far too many firewalls of shell companies and investors ever to be identified, they are interested not in the lives they ruin, but only in how much money they can extract from the government and the hundreds of thousands of prisoners they have at their mercy.


March 5, 2024

The Sunlit Manthe sunlit man by brandon sanderson by Brandon Sanderson

Running. Putting distance between himself and the relentless Night Brigade has been Nomad’s strategy for years. Staying one or two steps ahead of his pursuers by skipping through the Cosmere from one world to the next. But now, his powers too depleted to escape, Nomad finds himself trapped on Canticle, a planet that will kill anyone who doesn’t keep moving. Fleeing the fires of a sunrise that melts the very stones, he is instantly caught up in the struggle between a heartless tyrant and the brave rebels who defy him. Failure means a quick death, incinerated by the sun… or a lifetime as a mindless slave. Tormented by the consequences of his past, Nomad must fight not only for his survival—but also for his very soul.


March 19, 2024

Cascade Failurecascade failure by l m sagas by L. M. Sagas

There are only three real powers in the Spiral: the corporate power of the Trust versus the Union’s labor’s leverage. Between them the Guild tries to keep everyone’s hands above the table. It ain’t easy. Branded a Guild deserter, Jal “accidentally” lands a ride on a Guild ship. Helmed by an AI, with a ship’s engineer/medic who doesn’t see much of a difference between the two jobs, and a “don’t make me shoot you” XO, the Guild crew of the Ambit is a little . . . different. They’re also in over their heads. Responding to a distress call from an abandoned planet, they find a mass grave, and a live programmer who knows how it happened. The Trust has plans. This isn’t the first dead planet, and it’s not going to be the last. Unless the crew of the Ambit can stop it.

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Tor Books’ Startlingly Specific Holiday Gift Guide

Do you hear that??

It’s the sweet, sweet sound of gifts and the necessity of buying them for all of the humans, animals, and unidentified entities in your life. That’s a lot of pressure, but don’t sweat, because we’ve got your back, and more importantly, we’ve got a ton of increasingly niche book recommendations to get you through the holiday season! Check them out here and let us know which ones you’re grabbing in the comments. 

by Rachel Taylor and a cat


Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree is for the treasured party member who’s saved your character’s life many times on TTRPG night

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We all have That One Amazing Player who has pulled our butts out of the fictional fire on D&D night, and what better way to show your endless appreciation than with the gift of LITERATURE?! High fantasy, secondhand books, and first love–what more could you ask for?


Masters of Death by Olivie Blake is for the angsty goth who still wishes it was Halloween

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So they’re in denial that it’s not Halloween anymore, but guess what?! In the unbroken face of eternity, time has no meaning! Every day is Halloween!


In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune is for the plucky traveler who’s got the whole world to see

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There are many ways to see new and exciting worlds, and TJ Klune always provides queer and cozy adventures that you only need to pick up a book to explore. Consider picking up his latest venture for that friend who’s been bit by the travel bug!


Ebony Gate by Julia Vee & Ken Bebelle is for the action movie fanatic who owns a cardboard cutout of John Wick

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Assassins, dragon magic, and Chinese diaspora urban fantasy set in contemporary San Francisco.


Book of Night by Holly Black is for the insatiable reader who has way more books to read than hands to hold them

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And if you order and submit your receipt before 12/15, you can receive a Book of Night tote bag! Even Charlie Hall needs a safe sling to carry her contraband. Who’s Charlie Hall? A professional thief / bartender who pilfers shadow magic secrets! Read the book!


T. L. Huchu’s Edinburgh Nights series is for the Supernatural fan who’s looking to expand their fandom across the pond

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Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker, but she’s not just carrying messages anymore. You talk to one ghost and suddenly you’re spending late nights in the occult library, solving murders, and following trails of huskified children to their sinister spectral source.


The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz is for the science-enjoyer in your life who’s looking for environmentally-conscious fiction

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This sweeping, uplifting, and illuminating exploration of the future from a science fiction visionary is the perfect gift to give your non-fiction loving, environmentally aware bestie who wants to dip their toe into a more fictional space.


Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson is for fans looking for The Princess Bride vibes but just haven’t quite found them yet

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Do you have a Princess Bride superfan in your life? They don’t need another fandom-y Etsy gift this year–they need a book that gives them the same emotional rush they got the first time they laid eyes on the fairytale-inspired glory that is their favorite 1987 classic.


Everfair by Nisi Shawl is for the history buff in your life who can’t stop thinking about other paths the world might have taken

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After being purchased back from the Congo Free State’s colonizer, Everfair becomes a land of fantastic technologies—of spying cats and gulls, nuclear dirigibles buoyed by barkcloth balloons, and silent pistols that shoot poison knives. What happens when these technological advances are brought to bear against Belgian tyrant Leopold II?

That’s Everfair, and then you can read Kinning (on sale 1/23/24) for the continuation of this expansive alternate history.


Fractal Noise by Christopher Paolini is for the hardcore Trekkie who’s looking for major blockbuster movie vibes in their books

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Don’t let the bright and spiffy gif fool you—in this book they boldly go where no human has gone before, equally bold in how they look past the question: Might there have been a reason?


The Fragile Threads of Power by V. E. Schwab is for people looking to put a different kind of magic into their holidays

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Let’s put the magic into the holidays, shall we? V. E. Schwab returns to The Shades of Magic universe with a whole new series, perfect for readers who loved the original and new fans who want to explore magical alternate universes from in front of a cozy fireplace.


Shelley Parker-Chan’s Radiant Emperor Duology is for the unhinged danmei consumer who’s looking for their next great read

 

Do you have someone in your life that consumes danmei like candy? Are they tired of waiting for their new favorite series to be translated so they can add it to their shelves? Do we have the series for you. She Who Became the Sun and He Who Drowned the World explore a stunning reinvention of the Ming Dynasty’s founding emperor. It’s queer, it’s fantastical, and it’s complete! Snag both books in the duology for them now.


Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher is for the friend with an ill-advised yet much-beloved Shrek 2 tattoo

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“Better out than in” on the inside of the wrist, Thornhedge open in hand.


Starling House by Alix E. Harrow is for anyone who has never been disappointed by the combo of Mike Flanagan and a Scary House

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Home is where the heart is, and really puts you in a vulnerable position when your house HATES you.


Starter Villain by John Scalzi is for Megamind

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If you’re not Megamind, keep scrolling. Just kidding—this book is also for cat lovers and fans of Despicable Me and The Venture Brothers.


The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan is for people who loved Season 2 of The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime

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If you have someone in your life that got sucked into the masterpiece that was The Wheel of Time Season 2, don’t worry, you can help them relive the fun with The Great Hunt, the inspiration for the show and the second book in The Wheel of Time series!

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Excerpt Reveal: Kinning by Nisi Shawl

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kinning by nisi shawl

Kinning, the sequel to Nisi Shawl’s acclaimed debut novel Everfair, continues the stunning alternate history where barkcloth airships soar through the sky, varied peoples build a new society together, and colonies claim their freedom from imperialist tyrants.

The Great War is over. Everfair has found peace within its borders. But our heroes’ stories are far from done.

Tink and his sister Bee-Lung are traveling the world via aircanoe, spreading the spores of a mysterious empathy-generating fungus. Through these spores, they seek to build bonds between people and help spread revolutionary sentiments of socialism and equality—the very ideals that led to Everfair’s founding.

Meanwhile, Everfair’s Princess Mwadi and Prince Ilunga return home from a sojourn in Egypt to vie for their country’s rule following the abdication of their father King Mwenda. But their mother, Queen Josina, manipulates them both from behind the scenes, while also pitting Europe’s influenza-weakened political powers against one another as these countries fight to regain control of their rebellious colonies.

Will Everfair continue to serve as a symbol of hope, freedom, and equality to anticolonial movements around the world, or will it fall to forces inside and out?

Please enjoy this free excerpt of Kinning by Nisi Shawl, on sale 1/23/24


Chapter Zero

June 1916

Kisangani, Everfair

Princess Mwadi knelt in the jasmine’s warm shade. Both Sifa and Lembe slept. That had never before happened, but the eyelids of both her mother’s women stayed shut when Mwadi whispered their names. And Lembe snored, though lightly. And Sifa smacked her lips, which she would never have done in Mwadi’s presence while awake.

Daring discovery, the princess stood, still lapped in the vines’ deep green shadows. Her brother Ilunga lay within the palace walls, recuperating from the new illness under the care of Yoka, one of their father’s most trusted and discreet counselors, and visited frequently by King Mwenda himself; her mother, Queen Josina, had established rooftop gardens to house the hives of her holy bees upon her return from her diplomatic mission to Angola, and there she was to be found most days. Though ostensibly the queen dwelt here in the palace courtyard with the other royal wives and daughters, Mwadi had quickly learnt how to amuse herself without expectation of her mother’s praise or censure. And also how to seek out and enjoy her mother’s company without being shooed away from the secrets Queen Josina liked to gather.

How, as Miss Rima Bailey would have put it, to sneak around.

The trick was to become something else. No longer content as a velvet-faced, sturdy-armed thirteen-year-old girl, Princess Mwadi concentrated on her resemblance to the sighing rain, then slipped free of the pavilion’s overhanging roof to join the rain’s fall.

Languorous in the midday’s moist heat, ranks thinned by the ravaging new illness, the palace guard proved no impediment to Mwadi’s departure. And Kisangani’s thoroughfares led her where she wanted to go so easily—the dwindling waters between built-up roads coming no higher than her knees, so that she might wade unmolested the whole way.

The city had grown since her father first established his court here, back before she or Prince Ilunga had been born. And it had grown even more in the two years since she acted the role of Bo-La alongside Miss Rima in Sir Matty’s play. The atolo tree planted near the shelter of the king’s ancestors stood surrounded now by many similar shelters sharing the tree’s protection. So broad its branches, by itself the tree darkened almost all the sacred precinct’s ground. So high its crown, the misting rain wreathed around its leaves like dagga smoke. So snaking its roots, she had to stoop to the soil and feel her way among them with her hands. So fat and slick the trunk, she didn’t even try to climb it, merely clasped it to her, breathing in its clean, wild scent.

She had reached her goal! She threw back her head in joy and saw it—the king’s original ceremonial shongo, yes! The green of its copper was duller and bluer, the curves of its blades were fuller and longer, than the intervening foliage.

So high above her head . . . impossible to touch it. It had stayed lodged in the gleaming brown bark higher than the ceiling of the palace pavilion for more than forty seasons—ever since her father hurled it there and decreed that whoever drew it free would rule after him. Warning stories told of the injuries borne by pretenders to Everfair’s throne in their pursuit of this prize: multiple bones broken in sudden, inexplicable falls; crippling wounds gouged in their flesh by the beaks of invisible crows. But from the overheard conversations of her mother’s rivals, the princess knew for certain that once she released the shongo from its resting place she could call herself her father’s heir, as these women’s sons had attempted to do. As her stupid brother Ilunga had tried to do as well. She had to retrieve it for herself, successfully—but how?

Arching her back, she continued gazing upward. A limb emerged from the tree’s main body to the shongo’s right, and just a little lower. Thinning gradually, gracefully, the long limb drooped near its end—Mwadi whirled to check—low enough! Or nearly so; she picked her way to where it waved almost, almost within her grasp. A glance around: no one was present. As she had planned. Offerings would be made later, at the time of the evening meal. Nobody had been here when she arrived, and nobody had arrived since.

With practiced swiftness she unwound her headwrap—a wider strap than babies wore, as Mwadi was soon to be a woman. A couple of tosses and it went over the limb. First she dragged the limb down. When the wood no longer bowed to her weight she paused to make sure again she was alone, then jumped! Still hanging by the loop of her headwrap she swung her legs high and locked ankles around the lowered limb. Of course it held her. Creeping along its underside like a caterpillar—bunch, stretch, bunch, stretch—she moved toward the tree’s center. Once there it was a struggle, but she got herself upright and facing in. No dizziness or loss of grip or balance. No plunge from this hard-won height. No flock of ghosts.

Now. Bracing herself by tightening her thighs she leaned left, took the wooden haft of the king’s shongo in both hands, and tugged. It came free slowly, like a well-watered cassava plant.

Triumph! Everfair was hers! Entranced by her happy prospects she sighed and stroked the glowing, newly naked blade, largest of the shongo’s three. Burial in the atolo tree’s flesh had kept it shining bright. As bright as the future reign of Queen Mwadi.

Now to tell King Mwenda, so he could make the succession official. And to share the news of her good fortune with her mother, his favorite. And to gloat openly, in his face, upon her victory over Ilunga.

No, she would be kinder to him than that. Appoint him minister of something. He was her brother, after all, by both father and mother.

Surely that mattered.

According to Queen Josina, every relationship entered into mattered. Each was of the utmost importance. Slowly, thoughtfully, Mwadi came down off of the atolo limb and untied her headwrap. She wound it around and around the shongo’s shaft, pulling it tight, then laid it loosely over the sharp-forged cutting edges.

Her mother shared wisdom like it was chocolate, always possessed of a personal supply from which she doled out small bits, seemingly on a whim. Mwadi had learned as a child to savor her mother’s pronouncements, to chew them over and extract their constantly changing, ever-refreshing truths.

As the princess left the grove surrounding the atolo for the ramp leading down to the partially flooded thoroughfare, she frowned at the ground on which she walked. She was going to reign over this land—over this earth, over the very soil clinging to her bared feet. Was that a relationship? Even now, at this point, before she actually ascended to Everfair’s throne? Or perhaps not even then. Perhaps only relationships with living entities should be counted? The trees, then? A low branch brushed the top of her head as she stepped onto the ramp’s gravel, as if in a tender farewell.

The peak of the day had passed, and Mwadi met a few others on her way home to the palace. Other subjects: young people running errands for their elders, whites ignoring the inconvenience of doing business during the heat’s height. Were the Europeans whom King Mwenda had demanded fealty from also in important relationships with her? Or only those she knew personally, such as Sir Matty?

No one stirring about recognized her without her attendants, and Mwadi reached the palace steps quickly and easily. Sifa still slumbered in the courtyard; Lembe woke, but fell in immediately with the princess’s pretense of being on her way to the bottom of the staircase that climbed from courtyard to rooftop.

For Lembe to do otherwise would have been to alert Queen Josina to her inadequacy. It would have been to admit that she’d neglected to do her job. Instead, when the queen came out onto the roof through the door of the interior stairway, her serving woman was diligently oiling the carved wooden stand of one of her holy hives.

Mwadi watched the queen walk slowly between the tubs containing her budding flowers and fragrant blooms. Reaching the sheltered platform where the princess reclined, Queen Josina paused to observe her woman at work.

“How is my brother?” Mwadi asked dutifully. She sat up and reached beneath her couch to retrieve the cloth-swaddled shongo and began to unwrap it.

Her mother stepped onto the platform and sank to the cushions beside her. “Well enough. The disease is coming to accept his superiority.” She swung her head one way, then the other, checking for any who overheard them. None of the other wives were visible; though supposedly it belonged to all, this garden was known as Queen Josina’s private retreat.

“All signs indicate Mwenda will take my advice on the succession. So eventually, Ilunga will rule over all the rest of our land just as he’ll rule very soon over the organism causing this illness.”

No he would not.

“Naturally, a position of such distinction brings with it a high measure of risk. We must guard him carefully…”

Josina’s long, proud eyes rested lightly on the bundle occupying Mwadi’s lap. “What are you about to show me?” Not waiting for Mwadi’s answer, the queen twitched aside the last of the veiling headwrap. “Ah. Is this—this is the knife your father threw!”

“Yes. I pulled it from the atolo tree. That means I—not Ilunga— am my father’s heir.”

Her mother smiled with closed lips. “You are his heir when he says so.”

“He will! He has to! Mother, you can help me to persuade him of my rights!” Mwadi took the shongo by its handle and tried to lift it from her lap.

Josina’s hands barred hers from rising. “Are you sure you should do this?”

She drew back, staring. “Of course I am!”

“Are you sure this is how to get what you want?”

All certainty drained from Mwadi’s head. Why would her mother object to her becoming queen? Why would she favor buffalo-headed Ilunga?

“Do you even know what that is? What it is that you want?”

“Everything! I want everything!”

A wider smile now. “Yes. You are truly my child.” And now her mother’s long, strong fingers curled over Mwadi’s own, reinforcing her grip on the shongo. “We will have it. Everything you want. Trust me.”

Mwadi had always trusted her mother. The question had always been whether her mother trusted her in return. Some secrets, the queen kept saying, it was impossible to share.

“Can you tell me how we will win?”

“You know that I am an initiate in the mysteries of the Yoruba, a priest of the orisha Oshun, yes? She who is the owner of wealth and learning?”

“I do.”

“She who invented the form of divination I practice. She who holds high her golden light to show me which path of the many I can see that I should take. Which leads most surely to my desires.” Queen Josina’s exploration of foreign cultures was well-known— but had adoption of foreigners’ beliefs undermined her faith in her daughter’s abilities? Or did it somehow, by some devious means, support it?

Your desires?”

“We are in harmony. I have learned the best melodies to play, the best places in which to move our feet.” The queen stroked the back of Mwadi’s clenched hand. “You must relax. As I said, trust me.” She beckoned, and Lembe abandoned her task to approach the platform.

“Accompany Princess Mwadi to Prince Ilunga’s chambers,” the queen instructed her serving woman. She leaned forward, speaking softly into her daughter’s ear, again stroking her hand. “You’ll give this to him for safekeeping.”

“To Ilunga? No! Never!” She lowered her voice, too, but fierceness filled it, hardened it the way blows and heat harden iron. “I! I will be this country’s rightful ruler!” She jerked her hand, trying to free herself—and the shongo—from Josina’s grip. She couldn’t. “What if I agree with you on that point?” The queen was whispering, was close, her cheek touching Mwadi’s. The sweet scent of her hair oil threatened to wipe out all other smells, all sights and sounds and—

Mwadi stood. She swayed only a little, only a moment. She kept her hold on the shongo. So did her mother, which Mwadi found steadying. “Then you do? You agree and acknowledge—”

“Listen to me! Can’t you tell? Stop your insolence and obey me!” The queen stood too. “I know what I’m doing! I know this reality! I am ready to enter it—though if Oshun had not prepared me for your stubbornness I would have you poisoned!”

Quickly Josina wrested the shongo away from Mwadi’s surprised grasp. But only to hold it before her, between them. “You will present this to your brother. You will explain to him that you found it at the atolo’s foot, in a bowl filled with black sand such as we use for metal casting. You’ll make sure others hear your story, and that they repeat it.

“Do these things and anything else I instruct you to do. The throne and the land will be yours.”

June 1916 to June 1920 Kisangani, Everfair, to Cairo, Egypt

Should he lie? Prince Ilunga shifted his weight from one aching elbow to the other and gazed away from his sister’s gift. Then back. Resplendent on a fur-covered cushion it lay, his father’s first ceremonial shongo, a three-lobed promise of sovereignty. He who pulled it from the trunk of the atolo tree was to be named King Mwenda’s successor.

Should Ilunga claim the feat of retrieving it as his own? With the shongo in his possession, his claim would have real weight. It would ease the pricking soreness lingering from that earlier attempt, that ugly failure seen by all.

But what of those who’d seen Mwadi bring the shongo to him here? The guards outside his door? Or the flat-chested woman seated by his bed, the one his mother had assigned to attend to Ilunga as his illness receded? Not to mention anyone his sister might have met on her way to his rooms. Not to mention his sister herself, gone now. Gone to report to someone? To his mother?

There was no hope of untangling the threads of Queen Josina’s intricate plots. He must just believe she always put his interests first, as she swore she did.

“Why does my sister want it, anyway?” he grumbled.

The flat-chested woman spoke, startled. “She doesn’t! She gave it to you!”

He ignored her words. But her presence was not unwelcome; though you couldn’t call her attractive, at least she was a woman. He was young and needed practice. “Here. Use some of that salve on me. My limbs—” Clacking beads interrupted him as his mother swept through his bedchamber’s door.

“Queen!” The woman—he ought to learn her name—dropped to the floor. “Your son’s health improves by the hour. I was going to you with my news as soon as those bringing the evening meal arrived.”

“No need for that.” Josina touched the woman’s shoulder and she got up. “I see his progress.” An arched brow and the delicate flare of the queen’s nostrils indicated her approval. “He’ll be able to join his father tomorrow when he holds court.”

“Is that when we’ll receive the Portuguese envoys? Are they on—” A sharp glance from his mother stopped the prince’s questions mid-spate.

“The secret envoys spent last night in Mbuji-Mayi, and they rest there again today to observe a feast of their religion.” She paused and he had time to absorb the full strength of her emphasis on “secret.” “Rosine, go fetch the prince’s evening meal yourself.”

The poorly endowed woman left. No great loss. The coaching in diplomacy Queen Josina gave him once she was gone more than compensated for missing a chance to flex his love muscles. During the formal reception held for the Portuguese the next day, and in all his dealings with subjects and foreigners afterward, he did his best to remember her teachings.

Regularly she received visits from foreigners—often from those who had initiated her in her religious mysteries. When these visitors departed she would spend long night hours treading intricate dance patterns to music audible only to her ears. Some whispered that his mother was mad. If so, it was a cunning madness.

“Do not reveal the extent of your intelligence to those who assume you lack it,” she counseled him, again and again. “Play the fool in public and in private act the sage, and you’ll both surprise your enemies and please your friends.”

He watched as she accepted without protest the Portuguese ambassadors’ reluctant refusal to speak to the other European governments on Everfair’s behalf. Later, in the markets following his country’s surrender to the English, Ilunga learned how invisible activity—spying, magic spells, nested schemes—bore visible fruit. Despite the attacks on their sovereignty instigated by Thornhill and other British agents, his mother cultivated Everfair’s ties to certain of England’s factions. Because, she said, “Our enemies are made of more than one kind of cloth.”

As the seasons passed, Queen Josina encouraged Ilunga to dig his own information channels and direct their flow. She expected him to use these to help her keep up with schisms developing between those who planned a return to Europe’s fast-vanishing superiority.

The so-called War to End War resulted in a litter of smaller conflicts, most fought with words and smiles, in hidden rooms, on metaphoric battlefields. Judged a harmless playboy, Prince Ilunga was easily able to observe the Europeans and their surrogates as they jockeyed for knowledge and position. He journeyed from city to city, avowedly in pursuit of pleasure: west to Lagos, south to Maputo, east to Mogadishu, north to Cairo.

Where, at the age of thirty-five seasons—eighteen-and-one-half years—he found his first real friend.

Deveril Scranforth grinned when Ilunga introduced himself as the future ruler of Everfair, and leaned back to balance his wooden chair on two spindly legs. “Ha! One day you’ll outrank me, then. But for now—” Without looking he stretched wide both arms and hooked each around the waist of a deep-chested beauty. “—for now, I’ll be teaching you a thing or two, what? And you’ll be grateful for that—and show it!”

Smoke from their host’s hookah drifted between them on its way to the night-curtained windows. Attending this soiree was part of the standard plan Ilunga’s mother had devised for gathering intelligence: woo the offspring of embassy personnel and allow himself to be drawn into their social groups.

Attendance was part of the standard plan, making this a completely unremarkable evening, but ever afterward Ilunga remembered it as the beginning of a new phase in his dedication to savoring the world’s glories. Heightened awareness of his surroundings, helped on by the judicious consumption of cocktails, filled him with the sense of his surroundings’ divinity: the satin sheen of the throw pillows scattered about him on his divan, the jewels winking in a passing guest’s cuff links, the sweet residue of honeyed melon coating his lips, the tinkling chime of the golden chains adorning the wrists and ankles of the laughing woman who leapt up from Scranforth’s lap and snuggled cozily onto his own— despite his weak protests.

“Not a virgin, are you?”

As if Ilunga were still a boy! “No!”

“Good. Nothin wrong with it if you were, but I’d want to start you out a bit slower.” The white crooked his finger and two more beauties congealed out of the crowd to stand beside him. “Which of em d’you want? All three of em? Like to keep one for m’self.”

To go from the glittering heat of the party to the dark fragrance of the house’s fountain-fed garden took only a few steps. Only a moment. And then the prince was enveloped in flesh. Above, below, on either side, perfumed skin slid and slipped against his clothing. Then against his nakedness.

Touch receded, returned, receded, returned, new waves rippling over old ones like the music of the fountain waters rising and falling somewhere nearby like the fickle breezes laden with the party’s distant murmurings, or the thickening breaths of the women wrapping him in pleasure.

Then Scranforth’s voice came crashing through their panting sighs: “What d’ye say? Good play? Best hoors in Maadi—in all Cairo! Agreed?”

The soft lips kissing Ilunga’s eyelids went away. He opened his eyes and his mouth, about to bellow furiously at the European’s interruption—but the soft lips came back, to graze his jaw and cling moistly to the ridges and valleys of his throat—and his delight at this found its reflection in the pale, half-shaven face hanging over him.

The prince realized he wasn’t actually angry.

Delight mirrored was delight doubled. Bliss upon bliss proved this new truth. To receive a caress and cry out at its shivery progress—from spine to buttocks to tight and tingling testicles— was to share and deepen its effects.

Was this increase in his arousal a sign that Ilunga wanted sexual congress with the white man? He tried asking his mother. Sometimes he believed she knew him better than he knew himself. But the coded messages he sent her went unanswered. All the queen responded with were instructions: stay in Cairo, enroll in Victoria College, rent a home there that his sister Mwadi could run for him.

His father wouldn’t blame him for a trait only Europeans and missionaries abhorred. Would he? Probably not. Although Ilunga’s usefulness as King Mwenda’s heir would perhaps be compromised… No. That sort of thinking belonged in the head of

Queen Josina. Who, if she said nothing of her son’s predilection, must not consider it to be a problem.

And for him it wasn’t. Adventures with Devil—so Ilunga came to call his new friend, adopting the pet name employed by his fellow students—filled most of the prince’s nights, and quite a few of his days as well. The white man knew the town’s best brothels. Even more conveniently, he introduced “Loongee” to several women willing to entertain them for no money—though not exactly for free, as Ilunga quickly learned.

His first such encounter was with a buxom, cheerful matron whose nephew controlled the stock certificates of the Great Sun River Collector Company. She was easily satisfied. In addition to plowing the slick delta between her thighs—Devil stationed titillatingly nearby, ostensibly to watch out for the woman’s husband—he only had to purchase fifty shares of the company, at a surprisingly moderate price.

But soon the prince learned how to fend off these requests. This meant that sometimes, to his regret, he also had to fend off the proposals of erotic exercise they accompanied. Enough of those remained to keep him happily occupied, though. And despite a couple of petty disagreements, and one serious quarrel involving a firearm, he made sure to include Devil in any activities of that sort. Ilunga dedicated an entire suite of his Maadi villa to sexual pursuits. He arranged a door communicating with the room where Devil often stayed. Once or twice he invited others to visit, hoping to experience the same intensified gratification in their presence.

As far as Prince Ilunga could tell, his experiments failed. He felt no comparable increase in sensation when he shouted his satisfaction in the hearing of his sister’s European protégés, the Schreibers; no wider or even equivalent overflowing of deliciousness when he hosted other college friends for similar nights of sexual indulgence.

Nonetheless, his efforts made a difference.

How? Chiefly through his memory. Ilunga knew he was reaching for connection to others. He was aware that he cherished the touch of the women who attracted him, and that he yearned to share it. He realized how he longed to drench the strangers of the world in these women’s musk, to be soused in their sweat, to drown in it while drowning his white companions with him.

Memories of these desires dug their grooves deep into his mind. Incompletion kept them fresh and sharply edged.

Memories, like all stories, want to tell themselves. Asleep, Prince Ilunga dreamed that his fantasies came true. Awake, he forgot the specifics of how that occurred. But the happiness his dreams left behind haunted him.

Awake, the prince pretended stupidity, as Queen Josina had advised him to do. He acted as though ignorant of Devil’s plan to use him to access Everfair’s mineral wealth—and of some points in that plan he really was ignorant, because ignorance was easier than action. Ilunga always preferred to avoid unnecessary effort.

In fact, it was Devil’s drives rather than the prince’s own unsteady ambitions that moved most things forward—especially things concerning the succession. Much of what the European wanted to do depended on Ilunga inheriting the throne. So in between their college’s lectures on the histories of dead empires and their evening assignations with willing women, Devil did his royal friend’s tedious yet necessary political work.

Who, then, do you suppose gathered and treasured together Prince Ilunga’s unrequited attempts at blurring the boundaries dividing him from the rest of creation?

Who do you think?

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