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Gifts Galore! Bookish Swag for Our Autumn Pre-Orders

Ready to reward yourself for making it through the summer with an updated fall TBR pile? We’re here to help you add even MORE things to your bookish collection! Check out what books you can pre-order and get some cool, free stuff on the side, as a treat.


Limited Edition Pin The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake

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The Atlas Paradox is the long-awaited sequel to dark academic sensation The Atlas Six—guaranteed to deliver even more yearning, backstabbing, betrayal, and chaos. Pre-order and submit your receipt here by 10/25 to receive this stunning limited edition pin!

Pre-Order The Atlas Paradox Here:

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Short Story Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell

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Ocean’s Echo is a stand-alone space adventure about a bond that will change the fate of worlds, set in the same universe as Everina Maxwell’s hit debut, Winter’s Orbit. Pre-order and submit your receipt to receive the digital short story “A Short Holiday” is set after Winder’s Orbit, where Kiem and Jainan visit a quiet agricultural planet for a well-earned break and nothing goes wrong at all. Submit your receipt here by 10/31.

Pre-Order Ocean’s Echo Here:

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Acrylic CharmLegends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

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The much-beloved BookTok sensation Legends & Lattes is Travis Baldree’s novel of high fantasy and low stakes, now including a special, never-before-seen bonus story, ‘Pages to Fill,’ in the paperback! Get even more bonus items when you submit your receipt for the paperback to receive our adorable acrylic charm. Make sure to upload proof of purchase here by 11/30.

Pre-Order Legends & Lattes Here:

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Sweepstakes — The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson

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Who’s ready to get their hands on The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson? We’re giving YOU the chance to win a signed copy + swag! Enter by 11/14 for the chance to win the book, metal dice, & an exclusive stained-wood GM screen and matching dice box from Dog Might Games!

Pre-Order The Lost Metal Here:

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Our Favorites Foods in Fantasy

Do you know what’s cooking in fantasy? A whole array of treats, teas, and other delicacies are brewing in some of our favorite fantasies featuring food. Check out the list below!


Legends & Lattes by Travis BaldreeCinnamon rolls from Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

Come take a load off at Viv’s cafe, the first & only coffee shop in Thune. Grand opening! In this novel of high fantasy and low stakes, Viv, the orc barbarian, cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score and plans to open the first coffee shop the city of Thune has ever seen. And with that coffee shop comes a decadent menu of caffeinated beverages and sweet treats, including the most decadent giant cinnamon rolls we’ve ever seen.

Donuts from Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka AokiLight From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Looking for a sweet treat to help start your day? Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki is all of this and more! A defiantly joyful adventure set in California’s San Gabriel Valley, with cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and queer alien courtship over fresh-made donuts, the only thing sweeter than this story are the donuts that bring our favorite characters together.

Tea and scones from Under the Whispering Door by TJ KluneUnder the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

Welcome to Charon’s Crossing. The tea is hot, the scones are fresh, and the dead are just passing through. In this hilarious and haunting book from the New York Times bestselling author of The House in the Cerulean Sea, love and family are found over a cozy cup of tea and a hearty plate of scones.

The Book Eaters by Sunyi DeanBooks from The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

Can we snack on some delicious books? Alas, no, but that doesn’t mean we can’t devour The Book Eaters and appreciate the flavors author Sunyi Dean conveys in the book snacking. To The Family, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries. What kind of books would you want to devour?

Poster Placeholder of - 58Party snacks from The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. And what comes with parties but some of our favorite snacks, and maybe a glass of champagne or two.

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Fall Into Tor Books This Autumn!

Ready to FALL into some new books this autumn? (*wink*) Get your TBR ready for every book from Tor coming out this fall! Which one are you most excited to read?


September 6

The Atlas Six by Olivie BlakeThe Atlas Six by Olivie Blake (paperback)

Each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to earn a place in the Alexandrian Society, the foremost secret society in the world. The chosen will secure a life of power and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. But at what cost? Each of the six newest recruits has their reasons for accepting the Society’s elusive invitation. Even if it means growing closer than they could have imagined to their most dangerous enemies—or risking unforgivable betrayal from their most trusted allies—they will fight tooth and nail for the right to join the ranks of the Alexandrians. Even if it means they won’t all survive the year. Now available in paperback!

September 20

Placeholder of  -10Mistborn: Secret History by Brandon Sanderson

Kelsier, sentenced to die mining the Pits of Hathsin after attempting to rob the Lord Ruler’s palace, arose as a powerful Mistborn and inspired the revolution that shook the foundations of the Final Empire. His name and deeds passed into legend. But was that truly the end of his tale? Whispered hints to those he called friends suggested there was a lot more going on. If you think you know the story of the Mistborn trilogy, think again—but to say anything more here risks revealing too much. Even knowing of this tale’s existence could be heresy.

September 27

The Genesis of Misery by Neon YangThe Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang

It’s an old, familiar story: a young person hears the voice of an angel saying they have been chosen as a warrior to lead their people to victory in a holy war. But Misery Nomaki (she/they) knows they are a fraud. Raised on a remote moon colony, they don’t believe in any kind of god. Their angel is a delusion, brought on by hereditary space exposure. Yet their survival banks on mastering the holy mech they are supposedly destined for, and convincing the Emperor of the Faithful that they are the real deal. The deeper they get into their charade, however, the more they start to doubt their convictions. What if this, all of it, is real?

Image Placeholder of - 29Growing Up Weightless by John M. Ford; introduction by Francis Spufford

Matthias Ronay has grown up in the low gravity and great glass citadels of independent Luna—and in the considerable shadow of his father, a member of the council that governs Luna’s increasingly complex society. But Matt feels weighed down on the world where he was born, where there is no more need for exploration, for innovation, for radical ideas—and where his every movement can be tracked by his father on the infonets. Matt and five of his friends, equally brilliant and restless, have planned a secret adventure. Their passage into the expanse of perpetual night will change them in ways they never could have predicted…and bring Matt to the destiny for which he has yearned. With a new introduction by Francis Spufford, author of Red Plenty and Golden Hill.

October 4

Image Place holder  of - 86The Witch in the Well by Camilla Bruce

Centuries ago, beautiful young Ilsbeth Clark was accused of witchcraft after several children disappeared. Her acquittal did nothing to stop her fellow townsfolk from drowning her in the well where the missing children were last seen. When author and social media influencer Elena returns to the summer paradise of her youth to get her family’s manor house ready to sell, the last thing she expected was connecting with—and feeling inspired to write about—Ilsbeth’s infamous spirit. The very historical figure that her ex-childhood friend, Cathy, has been diligently researching and writing about for years. What begins as a fiercely competitive sense of ownership over Ilsbeth and her story soon turns both women’s worlds into something more haunted and dangerous than they could ever imagine.

October 11

The Spare Man by Mary Robinette KowalThe Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal

Tesla Crane, a brilliant inventor and an heiress, is on her honeymoon on an interplanetary space liner, cruising between the Moon and Mars. She’s traveling incognito and is reveling in her anonymity. Then someone is murdered and the festering chowderheads who run security have the audacity to arrest her spouse. Armed with banter, martinis and her small service dog, Tesla is determined to solve the crime so that the newlyweds can get back to canoodling—and keep the real killer from striking again.

Mystic Skies by Jason DenzelMystic Skies by Jason Denzel

Fifty-four years have passed since Crow Tallin, the catastrophic celestial event that merged Fayün and the human world. One devastating result of that cataclysm is that most human babies are born fused with fay spirits. The Mystics of Kelt Apar, once beloved, are blamed for this worldwide phenomenon. On the island of Moth, the Barons have declared the Myst illegal and imprisoned all Mystics under house arrest. Under the watchful eyes of deadly Hunters, a much-older Pomella AnDone now lives as a prisoner at Kelt Apar with her granddaughter and apprentice Mia, as well as the rapidly declining High Mystic of Moth, Yarina Sineese.

October 25

Poster Placeholder of - 93The Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake

Six magicians were presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. Five are now members of the Society. Two paths lay before them. All must pick a side. Alliances will be tested, hearts will be broken, and The Society of Alexandrians will be revealed for what it is: a secret society with raw, world-changing power, headed by a man whose plans to change life as we know it are already under way.

November 1

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

Rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster Tennalhin Halkana can read minds. Tennal, like all neuromodified “readers,” is a security threat on his own. But when controlled, readers are a rare asset. Not only can they read minds, but they can navigate chaotic space, the maelstroms surrounding the gateway to the wider universe. Conscripted into the military under dubious circumstances, Tennal is placed into the care of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a duty-bound soldier, principled leader, and the son of a notorious traitor general. Whereas Tennal can read minds, Surit can influence them. Surit accepted a suspicious promotion-track request out of desperation, but he refuses to go through with his illegal orders to sync and control an unconsenting Tennal. So they lie: They fake a sync bond and plan Tennal’s escape.

November 8

Legends & Lattes by Travis BaldreeLegends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time. The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success — not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is. If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won’t be able to go it alone. But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.

Origins of the Wheel of Time by Michael Livingston; foreword by Harriet McDougalOrigins of the Wheel of Time by Michael Livingston; foreword by Harriet McDougal

Take a deep dive into the real-world history and mythology that inspired the world of The Wheel of Time®. Origins of The Wheel of Time is written by Michael Livingston, Secretary-General of the United States Commission on Military History and professor of medieval literature at The Citadel, with a Foreword by Harriet McDougal, Robert Jordan’s editor, widow, and executor of his estate. Origins of The Wheel of Time will provide knowledge and insights to new and longtime fans looking to expand their understanding of the series or unearth the real-life influences that Jordan utilized in his world building.

Blood Moon by Heather Graham & Jon LandBlood Moon by Heather Graham and Jon Land

They may have managed to win a major battle against the powerful enemy determined to destroy civilization as we know it. But the war continues, with Alex and Sam embarking on a desperate journey to save mankind, even as their friendship blossoms into something much more. The roadmap for their journey lies in a mysterious book, the language of which has never been deciphered, until Alex finds himself able to translate the words that may hold the keys to saving the future. But an ageless foe, long the guardian of the secrets his race has left behind on Earth, arises to stop them at all costs. At his disposal is a merciless army that has been awaiting this very war, an army as unstoppable as it is relentless.

The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene WolfeThe Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe

Far from Earth, two sister planets, Saint Anne and Saint Croix, circle each other in an eternal dance. It is said a race of shapeshifters once lived here, only to perish when men came. But one man believes they can still be found, somewhere in back of the beyond. In The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Gene Wolfe skillfully interweaves three bizarre tales to create a mesmerizing pattern: the harrowing account of the son of a mad genius who discovers his hideous heritage; a young man’s mythic dreamquest for his darker half; and the bizarre chronicle of a scientist’s nightmarish imprisonment. With a new introduction by O. Henry Award winning author Brian Evenson

November 15

Place holder  of - 86The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson

For years, frontier lawman turned big-city senator Waxillium Ladrian has hunted the shadowy organization the Set since they started kidnapping people with the power of Allomancy in their bloodlines. When Detective Marasi Colms and her partner Wayne find stockpiled weapons bound for the Outer City of Bilming, this opens a new lead. After Wax discovers a new type of explosive that can unleash unprecedented destruction, an immortal kandra serving Scadrial’s god, Harmony, reveals that Bilming has fallen under the influence of another god: Trell, worshipped by the Set. And Trell isn’t the only factor at play from the larger Cosmere—Marasi is recruited by offworlders with strange abilities who claim their goal is to protect Scadrial…at any cost.

November 29

Alone With You in the Ether by Olivie Blake

Two people meet in the Art Institute by chance. Prior to their encounter, he is a doctoral student who manages his destructive thoughts with compulsive calculations about time travel; she is a bipolar counterfeit artist, undergoing court-ordered psychotherapy. By the end of the story, these things will still be true. But this is not a story about endings. For Regan, people are predictable and tedious, including and perhaps especially herself. To Aldo, the world feels disturbingly chaotic. For Regan and Aldo, life has been a matter of resigning themselves to the blueprints of inevitability—until the two meet. Could six conversations with a stranger be the variable that shakes up the entire simulation?

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Excerpt: Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

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Legends & Lattes by Travis BaldreeThe much-beloved BookTok sensation from Travis Baldree, Legends & Lattes is a novel of high fantasy and low stakes.

The new paperback edition will include a very special, never-before-seen bonus story, ‘Pages to Fill.’

Come take a load off at Viv’s cafe, the first & only coffee shop in Thune. Grand opening!

Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv, the orc barbarian, cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen.

However, her dreams of a fresh start filling mugs instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune’s shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners, and a different kind of resolve.

“Take a break from epic battles and saving the world. Legends & Lattes is a wholesome, cozy novel that feels like a warm hug. This is my new comfort read.”—Genevieve Gornichec, author of The Witch’s Heart

Please enjoy this free excerpt of Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree, on sale 11/8/22.


PROLOGUE

Viv buried her greatsword in the scalvert’s skull with a meaty crunch. Blackblood thrummed in her hands, and her muscular arms strained as she tore it back and out in a spray of gore. The Scalvert Queen gave a long, vibrating moan . . . and then thundered to the stone in a heap.

With a sigh, Viv slumped to her knees. The persistent twinge in her lower back flared up, and she dug in the knuckles of one huge hand to chase it away. Wiping sweat and blood from her face, she stared down at the dead queen. Cheers and shouts echoed from behind her.

She leaned closer. Yes, there it was, right above the nasal cavity. The beast’s head was twice as wide as she was—all improbable teeth and uncountable eyes, with a huge, underslung jaw—and in the middle, the fleshy seam she’d read about.

Jamming her fingers into the fold, she pried it open. A sickly golden light spilled out. Viv slid her whole hand into the pocket of flesh, curled her fist around a faceted, organic lump, and yanked. It came free with a fibrous ripping sound.

Fennus moved to stand behind her—she could smell his perfume. “Is that it, then?” he asked, only a little interested.

“Yep.” Viv groaned as she hoisted herself to her feet, using Blackblood as a crutch. Without bothering to clean the stone, she stuffed it into a pouch on her bandolier, then propped the greatsword on her shoulder.

“And that’s truly all you want?” Fennus squinted up at her. His long, beautiful face was amused.

He gestured at the walls of the cavern, where the Scalvert Queen had entombed untold wealth within sheets of hardened saliva. Wagons, chests, and the bones of horses and men hung suspended amidst gold, silver, and gemstones—the shiny castaways of centuries.

“Yep,” she said again. “We’re square.”

The rest of the party approached. Roon, Taivus, and little Gallina brought with them the exhausted but exultant chatter of the victorious. Roon combed muck from his beard, Gallina sheathed her daggers, and Taivus glided behind them both, tall and watchful. They were a good crew.

Viv turned away and strode toward the cavern’s entrance, where dim light still filtered through.

“Where are you goin’?” hollered Roon, in his rough, affable voice.

“Out.”

“But . . . aren’t you gonna—?” began Gallina.

Someone shushed her, most likely Fennus.

Viv felt a prick of shame. She liked Gallina the most, and probably should have taken the time to explain.

But she was done. Why drag things out? She didn’t really want to talk about it, and if she said anything more, she might change her mind.

After twenty-two years of adventuring, Viv had reached her limit of blood and mud and bullshit. An orc’s life was strength and violence and a sudden, sharp end—but she’d be damned if she’d let hers finish that way.

It was time for something new.

1

Viv stood in the morning chill, looking down into the broad valley below. The city of Thune bristled up from a bed of fog that hazed the banks of the river bisecting it. Here and there, a copper-clad steeple flashed in the sun.

She had broken camp in the predawn dark, and her long legs had eaten up the final few miles. Blackblood weighed heavy on her back, the Scalvert’s Stone tucked in one of her inner jacket pockets. She could feel it like a hard, withered apple, and reflexively touched it through the cloth from time to time to reassure herself it was still there.

A leather satchel hung over one shoulder, stuffed mostly with notes and plans, a few chunks of hardtack, a purse of platinum chits and assorted precious stones, and one small, curious device.

She followed the road down and into the valley as the fog burned away, and a lonely farmer’s cart tottered by, stuffed with alfalfa.

Viv felt a rising sense of nervous elation, something she hadn’t felt in years, like a battle-cry she could barely hold in. She’d never prepared as much for any one moment. She’d read and questioned, researched and wrestled, and Thune had been the city she’d chosen. When she’d crossed every other location off her list, she’d been absolutely positive. Suddenly, that conviction seemed foolish and impulsive, yet her excitement remained undimmed.

No outer wall surrounded Thune. It had sprawled far beyond its original, fortified boundaries, but she sensed herself approaching the edge of something. It had been ages since she’d stayed in one place more than a handful of nights, the duration of a job. Now, she was going to put down roots in a city she’d visited maybe three times in her entire life.

She stopped and looked around warily, as though the road wasn’t entirely vacant, the farmer long gone into the mist. Withdrawing a scrap of parchment from her satchel, she read the words she’d copied.

Well-nigh to thaumic line,

the Scalvert’s Stone a-fire

draws the ring of fortune,

aspect of heart’s desire.

Viv tucked it carefully away again, exchanging it for the device she’d purchased a week before from a thaumist scholar in Arvenne—a witching rod.

The small, wooden spindle was wrapped in copper thread, which covered the runes inscribed along its length. A wishbone of ash was fitted over the top and into a groove so it spun freely. She held it in her fist, feeling the copper thread absorb the warmth of her palm. The spindle gave a barely perceptible tug.

At least, she was fairly certain it was a tug. During the thaumist’s demonstration, there had been a stronger pull. Viv pushed down the sudden thought that it had all been a parlor trick. As a rule, folks with a fixed address avoided swindling an orc twice their height who could snap a wrist if they shook hands too firmly.

She took a deep breath and strode into Thune with the witching rod before her.


Thune’s wakeful noises rose as she moved farther into the city. At the outskirts, the buildings had been mostly wooden, with some river stone foundations interspersed. The deeper she ventured, the more stone prevailed, as though the city had calcified as it aged. Muddy dirt gave way to a smattering of stone lanes, then cobbles near the city’s core. Temples and taverns huddled around squares featuring statues of people who probably used to be important.

Any doubts about the witching rod had evaporated. It definitely pulled now, like a living thing—brief twitches growing into insistent tugs. Her research hadn’t been in vain. Ley lines were clearly threaded beneath the city, powerful avenues of thaumic energy. Scholars debated whether they grew where people settled or gathered folk near like warmth in winter. What mattered to Viv was that they were here.

Finding a potent ley line was only the start, of course.

The little wishbone of ash-wood twitched left and right, tugging one way for a time before reversing and pulling like a fish on a hook in another direction. After a while, she didn’t have to look at it. The feel of it was enough, and Viv paid more attention to the buildings she passed.

The device ushered her down the major thoroughfares, through the squiggling alleys that stitched them together, past blacksmiths and hostels and markets and inns. There were few people her height on the streets, and she never found herself crowded. Blackblood tended to have that effect.

She passed through all the layers of smell that made up a city—baking bread and waking horses and wet stone and hot metal and floral perfume and old shit. The same smells you found in any city, but underneath them, the morning scent of the river. Sometimes, between the buildings, she could see the blades of the waterwheel at the flour mill.

Viv let the rod lead her where it wanted. A few times the tug was so strong she stopped and inspected the buildings nearby— but disappointed, she’d continue onward. The rod would resist for a while, until it seemed to give up, finding a new direction in which to surge.

At last, when it yanked hard, she came to a semi-dazed stop and found what she needed.

Not on the High Street—that would’ve been too much to hope for—but it was only one removed. Kerosene streetlamps dotted the length, extinguished now, and like as not, you wouldn’t be knifed there after dark. The buildings on Redstone showed their age, but the roofs seemed in good repair. All except one in particular, and here, the witching rod drew her closer.

It was small for what it was. A battered sign hung from the single remaining iron eyehook—PARKIN’S LIVERY—the paint of the embossed letters long since flaked away. There were two large, iron-bound wooden doors, but they were ajar, and the crossbeam was leaning against the wall nearby. Another smaller, orc-sized door was amusingly padlocked to the left of it.

Viv ducked her head in for a look. Light filtered from a hole in the roof above, and a handful of clay shingles lay shattered across the broad alleyway leading between six horse stalls. A ladder of dubious sturdiness led to a loft, and to the left, a small office with a back room. The sour smell of moldering hay came from the trough at the back. Dust swirled in beams of light, as though it never settled.

It was as perfect as she could hope for.

She tucked the witching rod away.

When she reemerged into the growing traffic of the street, she spied a knobbly old woman sweeping the stoop across the way. Viv was pretty sure she’d been sweeping since her arrival, the threshold no doubt sparkling at this point, but she continued to attack it with determination, shooting Viv a surreptitious look every other second.

Viv strode across the street. The old woman had the good grace to appear surprised, mustering something approaching a smile as she did.

“Do you know who owns this place?” asked Viv, pointing back at the livery.

The woman was less than half her height and had to crane to make eye contact. Her eyes disappeared as she compressed her face into a considering tangle of wrinkles.

“The livery?”

“Yep.”

“Wellll.” She dragged the word out thoughtfully, but Viv could tell there was nothing wrong with her memory. “That’s old Ansom, if I recollect properly. Never had much of a head for business, that man, not for trade nor husband’s work, neither, to hear his old lady tell it.”

Viv didn’t miss the woman’s suggestive pump of the eyebrows. “Not Parkin?”

“Nope. ’Twas too cheap to change the sign when he bought it.”

Viv’s smile was amused, her lower fangs prominent. “Any idea where I can find him?”

“Couldn’t say for certain. But I imagine attendin’ to the only work he never failed at.” She tipped her free hand, bringing an imaginary tankard to her lips. “If you really want to find him, I’d try the places on Rawbone Alley. Head about six over.” She gestured to the south.

“At this time of morning?”

“Oh, this business he’s serious about.”

“Thanks, miss,” said Viv.

“Oh, miss, is it!” cackled the woman. “You c’n call me Laney. You plannin’ to be my new neighbor . . . ?” She made a give-itover motion.

“Viv.”

“Viv,” said Laney, nodding.

“I guess we’ll see. Depends on whether he’s as bad a businessman as you say.”

The old woman was still laughing as Viv left for Rawbone Alley.


No matter what Laney said, Viv didn’t really expect to find the much-maligned Ansom at this time of day. She figured she’d ask after him in any swill-joint with an open door and, once she knew his haunts, track him down after the day wore on.

Turned out, she only needed three stops before she found him in residence. The tavernkeep looked her up and down after she asked, raising his eyebrows pointedly at Blackblood’s hilt over her shoulder.

“No trouble from me, just business,” she said evenly. She tried to look less imposing.

Apparently satisfied that she wasn’t spoiling for a fight, he cocked a thumb at the corner and went back to swabbing the grime of the bar-top into new and more interesting locations.

As Viv approached the table, she got the overwhelming impression that she was entering the den of some elderly woodland beast. A badger perhaps. Not a dangerous sense, but the feeling of a place where he spent so much time that it had absorbed his smell and become essentially his.

He even looked like a badger, a big, greasy black beard striped with white tangled across his chest. As wide as he was tall, he occupied so much space between the wall and table that when he inhaled deeply, the thing rocked up on its legs.

“You Ansom?” asked Viv.

Ansom allowed that he was.

“Mind if I sit?” she asked and then sat anyway, leaning Blackblood against the back of the chair. Truth be told, she wasn’t really accustomed to asking permission.

Ansom stared at her over puffy lower lids. Not hostile, but wary. A tankard sat before him, nearly empty. Viv caught the tavernkeep’s attention and gestured at it, and Ansom brightened considerably.

“Much obliged,” he muttered.

“I hear you own the old livery on Redstone. That true?” asked Viv.

Ansom allowed that he did.

“I’m looking to buy,” she said. “And have a feeling you might be looking to sell.”

Ansom seemed surprised, but only briefly. His gaze sharpened, and while he might not have had a head for business, Viv was pretty sure he had one for haggling.

“Maybe,” he rumbled. “But that’s some prime real estate. Prime! I’ve had offers before, but most of ’em don’t see past the place to really appreciate the value of the location. That is to say, they underbid.”

At this point, the tavernkeep swapped his tankard for a fresh one, and Ansom visibly warmed to his subject.

“Oh, yes, so many embarrassing offers. I have to warn you, I know what that lot is worth, and I can’t see myself selling to anyone but a serious businessman. Er . . . businesswoman,” he amended.

Viv flashed her toothy and amused grin, thinking of Laney. “Well, Ansom, there’s all kinds of business.” Very conscious of Blackblood leaning behind her, she thought of how easy her business—her old business—would’ve made this negotiation. “But I can say for sure that when I do business of any kind, I’m always serious.”

She reached for her satchel, removed the purse of platinum chits, and hefted it. Withdrawing just one, she held it between thumb and forefinger, inspecting it and letting it catch the light. Platinum was a currency hardly ever seen in a place like this, and she’d need to exchange it for lower denominations soon, but she’d wanted some on hand for just this sort of moment.

Ansom’s eyes widened. “Oh, uh. Serious. Yes! Serious, indeed!” He took a long pull of his beer to cover his surprise.

Sly dog, thought Viv, trying not to smirk.

“As one serious businessperson to another, I don’t want to waste your time.” Viv leaned on an elbow and slid eight platinum chits across the table. “That’s probably eighty gold sovereigns. I think that covers the value of the lot. I’m sure we can agree that the building is a loss, and I think the odds of another . . . businesswoman tracking you down to pay cash on the barrelhead is vanishing.”

She held his gaze.

He still had the tankard to his mouth, but wasn’t swallowing.

Viv began to withdraw the chits, and he hurriedly reached out, pulling up short before touching her much larger hand. She raised her eyebrows.

“I can see you’ve got a keen eye for value.” Ansom blinked rapidly

“I do. If you want to take a moment this morning to bring the deed and sign it over, I’ll wait here. But I won’t wait longer than noon.”

Turned out the old badger was a lot nimbler than he looked.


As Viv made her mark on the deed and pocketed the keys, Ansom scooped the platinum into his purse, looking relieved the deal was complete. “So . . . I didn’t figure you to be interested in livery-work,” he ventured.

It was common knowledge that horses didn’t like orcs much.

“I’m not. I’m opening a coffee shop.”

Ansom looked nonplussed. “But why would you buy a horse stable for that?”

Viv didn’t answer for a moment, but then she stared hard at him. “Things don’t have to stay as what they started out as.” She folded the deed and tucked it into her satchel.

As she left, Ansom hollered after her. “Oh, and hey! What in the eight hells is coffee?”

Copyright © 2022 from Travis Baldree

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Our Five Favorite Comfort Fantasies Reads

By Kaleb Russell

We love a good sprawling fantasy epic as much as the next person–those stories are loads of fun, and bring intensity, drama, and Big Feelings to our hearts. BUT, some days it’s nice to crack open a book that makes you feel as though you’ve been wrapped in the warmest blanket, one to turn to for pure, wholesome escapism when the weight of the world weighs heavy on your shoulders. Here are 5 fantasy books to seek out for a warm reprieve.


Image Place holder  of - 84Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree

A famed war hero does the unthinkable after decades of raising hell on the battlefield: opens the first and only cafe in the great city of Thune. Legends And Lattes is a special kind of epic fantasy novel. This is a fantasy novel about what happens after all that cataclysmic business is done and over with. A heartening read about pursuing your dreams and finding a new way to be…maybe a new way to love, too.

Poster Placeholder of - 80A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

Two men from opposite worlds must set aside their differences to uncover a magical conspiracy in an alternate version of Edwardian England. A fascinating blend of Red White & Royal Blue and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, fans of “enemies-to-lovers” will surely enjoy this quiet, tender romance.

Placeholder of  -43Weave A Circle Round by Kari Maaren

A fantastical romp for the ages! Come check out the book publishers weekly regards as “offensible Odyssey through the past and future”. Read about the mind-bending journey of a tired high school girl and her pair of wacky neighbours as they travel through space and time.

Image Placeholder of - 44A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

Follow Lady Trent as she recounts her journey to becoming a peerless accredited dragon naturalist in this book written in the style of a memoir. Part travelogue, part romance, part cozy mystery. This book has it all, along with some gorgeous illustrations of dragons.

Place holder  of - 7The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Linus Baker is a Case Worker for the Department In Charge Of Magical Youth, responsible for inspecting government sanctioned orphanages for magical children to ensure the children’s “safety” and that they don’t enter the eyes of the general public. One day, he’s given an assignment by Extremely Upper Management to observe six children who may or may not bring about the end of the world–one of which just so happens to be the Antichrist– as well as their charismatic caretaker, Arthur Parnassus, who will do whatever it takes to keep his children safe. The House In The Cerulean Sea is well regarded by many as a relentless delight sure to brighten any reader’s day. Featuring a tender romance between two caring men from two different worlds, this is a heartwarming story about finding love and family in the midst of hard times and insidious Injustice.

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