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Excerpt Reveal: Forge of the High Mage by Ian C. Esslemont

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forge 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 . . .

Please enjoy this free excerpt of Forge of the High Mage by Ian C. Esslemont, on sale 4/9/24


Chapter 1

Through driving snow a lone figure walked hunched. A long cloth-wrapped bundle just as tall as he was hung cumbrously across his back. He paused occasionally, to adjust this burden, and to shade his eyes against the howling winds to scan the white wastes surrounding him. During one such pause a great fit of coughing wrenched him and he bent even further to spit into the snow, leaving a red blossom of slush. Yet his gaze was drawn ever onwards to a single mountain crag that dominated the western horizon.

After many days the traveller reached the foothills of this lone peak – fields of naked broken rock amid the snow. Selecting one depression reasonably sheltered from the driving winds, he sat against a boulder and drew his long burden from his back. Unwrapped, it was revealed as some sort of musical instrument, a huge horn perhaps, carved from a single gigantic piece of ivory or bone. This he pressed to his lips to blow a few experimental notes, then set aside and tilted his head, as if listening for the winds to respond. With no such response forthcoming, he shrugged, held the instrument to his chest, and closed his eyes to sleep.

So did it go day after day, week after week, and month after month. The seasons did not change; no spring came to lessen the blasts of snow, for the mountain sat at the centre of a vast wasteland of icefields countless leagues across. Thus no beasts accosted the musician, and no fellow travellers appeared. Birds, however, did pass far overhead and these he watched from the corner of his eye, a humourless smile sometimes stretching his cracked lips across his large, upthrusting canines.

But then he would return to his music. And such eerie inhuman music it was – if it may be named such at all. Deep rumbling basso passages too low for any normal ear, or high trilling keening; all mixed together in constantly altering rhythms, beats and progressions. On and on, looping, rolling, changing in pitch and speed, then even repeating for a time.

And always the musician would pause to listen, as if expecting the winds to answer.

As, eventually, they did.

Something far too low for a human ear washed over the piper, making the small stones lying all about him vibrate and jump. The musician perked up, straightened, and repeated his last passage.

The answer repeated itself as well.

Now the musician clambered to his feet. Taking a huge breath, he blew a deep blast upon the instrument that went on and on, for far longer than any human lungs could possibly encompass. Finishing in a flourish, he raised his head to listen. He waited. And he waited, head cocked. After a time he frowned then critically studied the horn.

An immense concussion rocked him backwards on his feet, sent the snow all driving away, and he hunched, wincing and shaking his head. Then he slipped the instrument onto his back and set out to climb the mountain’s lower slopes.

He was searching for something, and, eventually, he found it. Through the gusting snow he spotted thin wisps of fog, or a plume of mist, high up one ice-encrusted face of the mountain. This he struggled towards, and, after a time, he reached.

A fresh crack of broken rock it was. A crevasse in the sheath of ice. Steam roiled from far within. At its edge the musician paused, raised a thumb to one up-thrusting canine to scratch it thoughtfully, and smiled, nodding to himself.

Then he slipped within, amid the billowing steam, to disappear.

━━ ˖°˖ ☾☆☽ ˖°˖ ━━━━━━━

Towards the end of the pacification of the northern wilds of Nom Purge, the roving Malazan Imperial Seat settled in next to the confluence of two unnamed rivers to remain stationary for an astonishing fifteen days.

A tent city quickly developed as daily more and more Malazan cohorts arrived to guard the Emperor and his – some said bodyguard, some assassin, while others whispered him to be the true cunning and driving force behind the pair’s astonishing rise to power – Dancer.

On the fifteenth day the general of the West, Fist Choss, arrived accompanied by his staff and personal guard. Throwing the reins of his mount to a groom, he stomped into the imperial command tent to find the Emperor, Kellanved, sitting at a table heaped with a mess of maps, lists and accounts. Dancer sat aside in a camp chair, arms crossed, his legs straight out before him.

The Fist went to a side-table set with cold meats, breads and fruits. He tucked his gauntlets into his belt and nodded a greeting to Kellanved. Selecting a poultry leg, he took a bite. Round the mouthful, he demanded, ‘What’s this about you ordering Korelan relief forces north, here, to you?’

The wrinkled, aged Dal Hon mage exchanged a glance with his cohort, who tucked his hands up under his arms. ‘I’m redeploying them,’ he explained.

Choss coughed on his poultry, wiped the grease from his tangled beard. ‘Really?’ he answered, incredulous. ‘That force is badly needed to relieve those troops. They are hard-pressed, surrounded. All Korel has risen against them.’

Kellanved gave a curt wave. ‘Exactly. A lost cause. We miscalculated there. I’ll not pour more resources down that hole.’

Choss stared, his outrage obvious. ‘But the remaining troops, man! What of them?’

‘Word has been sent. They may withdraw.’

‘If they can,’ the general muttered, darkly. ‘And regardless, we can use those forces here. Dujek is still stamping out insurrections in the east, and I’m still trying to pacify the west coast. Surly is camped in Unta to keep it quiet and all the while Dal Hon threatens to explode. Not a good time to start yet another front.’

‘Dassem remains in Li Heng,’ Dancer put in, speaking softly.

Choss grunted at that, half-placated.

While they had been talking, youths in travel-stained leathers, or hooded in grey robes, silently came and went, whispering with Kellanved, sometimes delivering scrolls. They entered from a rear chamber set off by hangings – a room Choss knew possessed no other exit.

‘And where, may I ask,’ he said, ‘will this new strike force be headed?’

As Kellanved was conferring with a woman whose robes seemed to actually be smoking, Dancer answered: ‘Falar.’

The general’s thick brows rose in disbelief. He threw the half-eaten leg to the table. ‘Falar . . . Really? Why not fabled Jacuruku while you’re at it, hey?’

‘Falar is no fable,’ Dancer observed, calmly and quietly.

But the Fist was shaking his head, hands on belt. ‘No. This is madness. We’re still not completely consolidated . . .’

‘We will never be completely consolidated,’ Dancer answered. ‘We must push on. Expand. Expand or die. It’s the nature of the beast.’

‘Is Surly for this?’ Choss asked, pulling a hand down his beard. The two rulers exchanged another silent glance to which the general nodded. ‘Thought not. Then I demand a full council meeting to review this.’

Kellanved flapped his hands in frustration. ‘A full meeting? Do you have any idea how long it would take to assemble everyone?’

Choss gestured without. ‘Your troops are still arriving. We have time.’

The Dal Hon mage raised his chin, half turning away, huffing, ‘I’ll have you know I don’t need anyone’s permission.’

The Fist nodded his agreement. ‘True. However, as we have all seen over the years, everything goes so very much smoother with everyone’s cooperation.’

Kellanved wrinkled up his dark face in distaste. He glanced to Dancer. ‘What say you?’

Dancer echoed Choss’s nod. ‘I agree. We have to have everyone on board.’

The Emperor pressed his hands to his forehead, sighing. ‘Oh, very well! If you must!’ He waved the Fist out – who bowed and exited. Kellanved then snapped his fingers and a leather-clad messenger, a slim woman, emerged from the rear room. ‘Send word to everyone,’ he told her, ‘we assemble here for a full Imperial Council meet.’ The woman bowed and ducked from view. Kellanved continued to massage his forehead.

Dancer was studying the tops of his soft leather shoes. ‘Told you so,’ he murmured.

The Emperor looked to the tent ceiling, sighing anew. ‘Oh, please . . .’

Copyright © 2024 from Ian C. Esslemont

Pre-order Forge of the High Mage Here:

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New Releases: 3/20/18

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

Fall of Light by Steven Erikson

Place holder  of - 74 It’s a conflicted time in Kurald Galain, the realm of Darkness, where Mother Dark reigns. But this ancient land was once home to many a power…and even death is not quite eternal. The commoners’ great hero, Vatha Urusander, is being promoted by his followers to take Mother Dark’s hand in marriage, but her Consort, Lord Draconus, stands in the way of such ambitions. The impending clash sends fissures throughout the realm. As rumors of civil war burn through the masses, an ancient power emerges from the long dead seas. Caught in the middle of it all are the First Sons of Darkness, Anomander, Andarist, and Silchas Ruin of the Purake Hold….

Sarah by Orson Scott Card

Image Place holder  of - 62 Sarai was a child of ten years, wise for her age but not yet a woman, when she first met Abram. He appeared before her in her father’s house, filthy from the desert, tired and thirsty. But as the dirt of travel was washed from his body, the sight of him filled her heart. And when Abram promises Sarai to return in ten years to take her for his wife, her fate was sealed.

Abram kept his promise, and Sarai kept hers. They were wed, and so joined the royal house of Ur with the high priesthood of the Hebrews. So began a lifetime of great joy together, and greater peril: and with the blessing of their God, a great nation would be built around the core of their love.

NEW FROM TOR.COM

Stone Mad by Elizabeth Bear

Image Placeholder of - 18 Readers met the irrepressible Karen Memory in Elizabeth Bear’s 2015 novel Karen Memory, and fell in love with her steampunk Victorian Pacific Northwest city, and her down-to-earth story-telling voice.

Now Karen is back with Stone Mad, a new story about spiritualists, magicians, con-men, and an angry lost tommy-knocker—a magical creature who generally lives in the deep gold mines of Alaska, but has been kidnapped and brought to Rapid City.

NEW IN MANGA

DNA Doesn’t Tell Us Vol. 1 Story and art by Mintarou

Mononoke Sharing Vol. 1 Story and art by coolkyousinnjya

Shomin Sample: I Was Abducted by an Elite All-Girls School as a Sample Commoner: Vol. 8 Story by Nanatsuki Takafumi; Art by Risumai

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Deadly Sibling Rivalries in Fantasy

Siblings are often the best part of growing up—they’re usually someone you know you can count on, someone who will have your back even as they’re making fun of you. But sometimes siblings can be dangerous, even deadly. We love a good story about sibling rivalries gone vicious! Here are some of our favorites:

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

Place holder  of - 18 Tessa Gratton’s fresh take on the story of King Lear revolves around the relationships of three sisters struggling for control of their father’s failing kingdom: Gaela, Regan, and Elia. The eldest, Gaela, pursues martial control; her sister Regan seeks to restore the ancient religious rites long forbidden by her father. Elia stands between them, resented by her older sisters. As tensions rise among this fractured family, the conflict between the three begins to take a deadly toll on the island of Lear itself.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

Poster Placeholder of - 90 There are plenty of contentious—and outright murderous—relationships between family members in the A Song of Ice and Fire series: Tyrion and Cersei, Catelyn and Lysa, Daenerys and Viserys. Perhaps one of the most consequential for the fate of Westeros, however, is the rivalry between Renly and Stannis Baratheon, both of whom become contenders for the throne in the wake of their brother’s death. Their rivalry leads them close to outright war between brothers.

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Image Place holder  of - 3 There’s no conflict quite like that between half-brothers—especially when one is illegitimate and kept hidden from the other. That’s the setup between Zane and Elend Venture in The Well of Ascension, the second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series. While Elend was raised in comfort as the heir, Zane, one of few full Mistborns in the world, was raised as a weapon. Zane is definitely an unstable individual, so of course he wants to kill his half-brother. Standing in his way is Vin, the heroine of Sanderson’s series and a powerful Mistborn in her own right. Zane was robbed of a normal childhood, but readers win when Zane and Vin face off, with Elend in between.

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Placeholder of  -92 If there’s one thing we’ve learned from reading, it’s never to trust ambitious younger siblings. Regal in the Farseer Trilogy is no exception: he seeks to position himself as the heir to the aging king, establishing a rivalry with his older brother Verity—and he just might have plotted the pre-series murder of FitzChivalry’s father.
 
 
 
Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

Image Placeholder of - 42 Like A Song of Ice and Fire, Steven Erikson’s epic series has plenty of siblings who really (really, really) don’t get along. From a pair of sisters who find themselves on opposite sides of a rebellion, to nearly-immortal brothers who can barely be on the same continent, being someone’s brother or sister is as likely to be a guarantee of violent conflict as it is to be a source of familial love.

And you thought your family didn’t get along.

The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

Roger Zelazny’s classic series follows “shadow-walkers” who can move through parallel worlds. The ability belongs only to those of royal blood, descendants of the mad sorcerer Dworkin Barimen. Of those with the ability, there’s a lot of in-fighting—much of it deadly as the various family members try to take the throne from Oberon, the liege lord of Amber. Before the story even begins, Oberon’s sons Osric and Finndo supposedly conspired against their father, were caught, and sent to the front lines of a war from which they never return. The scheming and conspiracies only get worse from there.

The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne by Brian Staveley

Few fantasy sibs get their ​wires crossed as badly as the Malkeenians of Brian Staveley’s Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne. Separated by vast distances in the middle of a massive conspiracy to topple their murdered father’s empire, Kaden, Adare, and Valyn each do their best to survive the crisis and fight back against the conspiracy, only to end up in deadly conflict against one another. We mean, Let’s hug this out, and just ignore these knives I’m holding kinds of conflict.

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Celebrate Valentine’s Day with our Favorite Relationships in SF/F

The term shipping doesn’t just refer to boats or how fast you can get your package. These days, it also has meaning in relationships—fictional ones, that is. Ships are the couples from fiction, whether books, tv, or movies, that you desperately want to get together in a romantic way—whether the creator intended them to or not. Over time, fans have created some pretty famous ships (cough*Harry-and-Draco*cough) and some super bizarre ships (Elsa and Jack Frost, really?). Many have gained a life of their own, with fan art, fan fic, and more.

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, we started thinking about our favorite relationships as well as our favorite ships in science fiction and fantasy. We’re celebrating the holiday by sharing our list with you! What couples are your list?

Phèdre nó Delaunay and Joscelin Verreuil

Place holder  of - 76 One of the things we love about Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series is the number of relationships to wish for, root for, and cry buckets over. Alcuin and Delaney, Ysandra and Drustan, Phèdre and Hyacinthe, Phèdre and Melisande, Phèdre and Joscelin…okay, really Phèdre and anyone who can make her happy. But we polled the Tor staff, and found that most of us were rooting for the opposites attract relationship of Phèdre, courtesan to kings, and Joscelin, warrior-priest and sworn virgin (at least, at the beginning). Those crazy kids belong together, and they prove it by supporting each other through increasingly dire and dangerous situations, all the way to the ends of the world.

Mat Cauthon and Tuon (Fortuona Athaem Devi Paendrag, Daughter of the Nine Moons)

Placeholder of  -54 The Wheel of Time is full of relationships, both good and bad. How could it not be, with 14 books spanning years? And while Rand and his relationship with Elayne, Aviendha, and Min was fun to read, our favorite relationship in WoT is the one between Mat and Tuon. The scene where Mat accidentally marries Tuon (be careful what you repeat three times in fantasy novels, guys!) made some of us laugh, and when she finally completes the ceremony, there may have been tears. Their elaborate courtship dance in between, and the sense that Tuon is always one step ahead of Mat, just makes their romance even better.

Baru Cormorant and Tain Hu

Image Placeholder of - 13 Sometimes you just want a relationship that makes you cry. Amid all the politics, intrigue and plot twists that made The Traitor Baru Cormorant such a fantastic read, the budding—and forbidden—romance between Baru Cormorant and Tain Hu was definitely a highlight. Two ruthless, competent women who begin on opposite sides, but come together to start a revolution against an ever-growing colonial force—what more could you want? Of course, love in wartime is never easy, and there are plenty of hidden agendas at play that make it even harder. Fair warning: not every favorite romance has a happy ending.

Eddi McCandry and the Phouka

Image Place holder  of - 29 This classic urban fantasy is both a slice of rock life in the 80s (you know Prince was totally one of the fey), and a delightful story of learning who you are accompanied by a wonderful romance. We’ve all been Eddi McCandry at some point—juggling the one-two punch of a bad ex and trying to figure out your life—and the Phouka is a babe.
 
 
Richard St. Vier and Alec

Poster Placeholder of - 33 Not only is this a wonderful, tangled world of duels fought with swords and over tea in parlors, but the heart of the story is the tangled, snarled, tricky, unlikely and utterly swoon-worthy pairing of a sword for hire and his difficult inamorata. Fireworks, banter, tension (all kinds), and so much more in a beloved m/m pair. As Jo Walton says in her Tor.com review, is Richard and Alec’s relationship love, or is it a duel? Finding out is part of the fun.

Nienna and Ulmo

Two literary characters who we think deserve one another are Nienna and Ulmo from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. Nienna is one of the Valar, whose purview is grief, mourning, and mercy, ever turning sorrow to wisdom. While Ulmo, the Lord of the Waters, is the Vala who was fondest of the Children of Ilúvatar (Elves and Men). But like Nienna, Ulmo is a loner. All the other godlike Valar were married—why not these two?

Quick Ben and Kalam

If ever there was a “they argue like an old married couple” in Epic Fantasy, it is Quick Ben and Kalam. One is a trickster mage who might be the most powerful magician around, the other is an Assassin that really distrusts magic. They’ve been together since they were rebels fighting the empire, so long that they’re reached the pinnacle of couple-dom in fiction: they can finish each other’s sentences.

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The Authors’ Suggested Reading Order for Malazan

Spanning two authors and twenty-one books and counting, the Malazan series defines EPIC. With an awesome magic system, fantastic characters and world-building, and more than a couple of very angry gods, it’s a fantasy editor’s dream series. But when there is so much Malazan out there, new readers can’t help but ask “where do I start?”

And that is an excellent question, dear reader. So, I thought it would be best to take this question right to the source. I set out and asked the creators of the world of Malazan, Ian C. Esslemont and Steven Erikson, what they thought was the best order to experience the series. Keep in mind that what they provided is by no means definitive. So with the authors’ and editor’s stamp of approval, here is the best way to get the full Malazan experience:

  1. Placeholder of  -24 Forge of Darkness: Where to start? With the first book in the Kharkanas series, which takes place millennia before the events of the Malazan Book of the Fallen and introduces readers to Kurald Galain, the warren of Darkness. It is the epic story of a realm whose fate plays a crucial role in shaping the world of the Malazan Empire.

2. Fall of Light: Next up is book two in the Kharkanas series, which continues to tell the tragic story of the downfall of an ancient realm.

3. Dancer’s Lament: What comes after the downfall? The founding of a new empire. Esslemont’s Path to Ascendancy series focuses on Dancer and Kellanved, the founders of the Malazan Empire.

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4. Deadhouse Landing: Go deeper into the founding of the Malazan Empire with the second book in the Path to Ascendancy series.

5. Night of Knives: Drawing on events touched on in the prologue of Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon, Night of Knives is a momentous chapter in the unfolding story of the extraordinarily imagined world of Malaz.

6. The Tales of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, Volume One: Get to know the famed necromancers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach before they turn up in Malazan Book of the Fallen!

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7. Gardens of the Moon: The first book in the famed epic fantasy series Malazan Book of the Fallen. The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand.

8. Deadhouse Gates: The Whirlwind is coming. Unprecedented in size and savagery, this maelstrom of fanaticism and bloodlust will embroil the Malazan Empire in one of the bloodiest conflicts it has ever known.

9. Memories of Ice: Marking the return of many characters from Gardens of the Moon and introducing a host of remarkable new players, Memories of Ice is a momentous new chapter in Steven Erikson’s magnificent epic fantasy.

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10. Midnight Tides: Ancient forces are awakening as two sides gather for a pivotal treaty that no one wants in another tense and exciting tale in Malazan Book of the Fallen.

11. House of Chains: House of Chains marks the beginning of a new chapter in Malazan Book of the Fallen, as raiding parties, raw recruits, warlords, and more collide in the aftermath of the Chain of Dogs.

12. The Bonehunters: The rebellion has been crushed. But elsewhere agents of a far greater conflict have made their opening moves…

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13. Return of the Crimson Guard: The return of the mercenary company the Crimson Guard could not have come at a worse time for a Malazan Empire exhausted by war. But it comes at the perfect time for Malazan readers.

14. Reaper’s Gale: The Lethrii Empire has sprawled beyond its Mad King’s control and a god of the ancient Holds roams the streets unchecked. Fate decrees that there is to be a reckoning, for such bloodshed cannot go unanswered—and it will be a reckoning on an unimaginable scale.

15. Stonewielder: There is a new Emperor on the throne of Malaz, and he is dwelling on the ignominy that is the Empire’s failed invasion of the Korel subcontinent. In the vaults beneath Unta, the Imperial capital, lie the answers to that disaster. And out of this buried history surfaces the name Stonewielder.

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16. Toll the Hounds: Anomander Rake, Son of Darkness, rules the city of Black Coral, the spoils of his war alongside Dujek’s host. But all is not well in the city, and the wages of ancient crimes are finally going to be paid.

17. Orb Sceptre Throne: Darujhistan, city of dreams, city of blue flames, is peaceful at last; its citizens free to return to politicking, bickering, trading and, above all, enjoying the good things in life. Yet there are those who will not allow the past to remain buried.

18. Blood and Bone: On the continent of Jacuruku, the Thaumaturgs have mounted yet another expedition to tame the neighboring wild jungle. Yet this is no normal wilderness. It is called Himatan, and it is said to be half of the spirit realm and half of the earth. And it is said to be ruled by a powerful entity whom some name the Queen of Witches, and some a goddess: the ancient Ardata.

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19. Assail: Casting light on mysteries spanning the Malazan Empire, and offering a glimpse of the storied and epic history that shaped it, Assail is the final chapter in the epic story of the Empire of Malaz.

20. Dust of Dreams: The Bonehunters are an army without a nation and their Adjunct clearly has a plan, it’s just a matter of surviving long enough to see it all come to an end.

21. The Crippled God: The climatic end of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. As all the forces race to try to take control of The Crippled God and stop what could possibly be the end of the world.

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Books to Fill the Long Wait Until the Final Season of Game of Thrones

Season 7 of Game of Thrones went out with a bang. The final season may air in 2018, but we may also have to wait until 2019 to see how everything is going to wrap up. So what are we going to do in the meantime? Read, of course! We asked our fellow Tor employees what books they would recommend for Game of Thrones fans, and they came through in a big way. In no particular order, here’s a reading list with enough books to keep you busy until 2019 (unless you’re a speed reader).

Image Place holder  of - 30 Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson
The Malazan series is big, sprawling, nihilistic epic fantasy perfect for a Game of Thrones fan. The series is complete, so there’s no waiting for the next book. Start with book one, Gardens of the Moon, or pick up the entire 7,392 page series as an ebook bundle: The Complete Malazan Book of the Fallen.
Recommended by Christopher Morgan, Associate Editor

Place holder  of - 98 The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley
Is your favorite part of Game of Thrones watching the Stark children try to survive in the wake of their father’s death? Try The Emperor’s Blades, the first novel in the epic fantasy Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy. The story focuses on the three children of a slain emperor as they battle conspiracies, meddlesome gods, and each other, in the struggle to hold their empire together.
Recommended by Marco Palmieri, Senior Editor

Placeholder of  -16 The Black Company by Glen Cook
If you’re a fan of the fact that no one is safe on GoT, try this one. Released in 1984, The Black Company is arguably the reason GrimDark became a thing. Think of it as Game of Thrones from the view of the infantry. The story follows a band of mercenaries as they struggle to survive lose-lose situations.
Recommended by Robert Davis, Manager of Administration, and Christopher Morgan, Associate Editor

Image Placeholder of - 11 Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
If Arya had ended up meeting a warrior nun instead of the Faceless Man, she and the heroine of Red Sister would be best friends. Raised in a convent of warrior, assassin nuns, Nona may be their most powerful. Dark and gritty and moving, with heroines you adore.
Recommended by Diana Gill, Executive Editor

Poster Placeholder of - 29 The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
Do you love conflicted characters like Jaime Lannister? Try The Traitor Baru Cormorant, a geopolitical tragedy of empire and colonization. Filled with intrigue, treachery, rebellion, weaponized economics, and a protagonist who is simultaneously the hero and villain of her own story.
Recommended by Marco Palmieri, Senior Editor, and Joseph Bendel, Channel Marketing Manager

The Red Wolf Conspiracy by Robert V.S. Redick
Pazel, a war orphan, is working as a tar boy on a ship–and has to deal with magical fits that allow him to speak any language. Like Game of Thrones, there’s a lot of focus on politics, with the backdrop of magic. No dragons, sadly, but there’s a magical ferret and a rat that doesn’t know when to stop talking.
Recommended by Lauren Levite, Publicity Assistant

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Is the sheer scope of Game of Thrones your favorite part about it? Then Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series is for you. Truly epic fantasy on the grand scale, it will keep you reading (hopefully) until GRRM finishes The Winds of Winter.
Recommended by Diana Gill, Executive Editor

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is all about revenge and a battle for the throne…though there are actual gods involved. Jemisin has won back-to-back Hugo Awards and devoted fans, and you can see why in her debut effort. You won’t be disappointed.
Recommended by Diana Gill, Executive Editor

Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
Do you love Game of Thrones, but think it would be even better if it took place IN SPACE? Luna: New Moon is definitely for you. On the moon, corporate families attempt to outmaneuver each other. McDonald substitutes cocktails for GoT’s eel pie though.
Recommended by Christopher Morgan, Associate Editor, and Desirae Friesen, Publicist

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
If you love Dorne, the Red Viper, and the Sand Snakes, Kushiel’s Dart is for you. Imagine if Littlefinger used his courtesan spies for good! Phaedre’s journey slides the razor edge of pain and pleasure, and you will love every minute.
Recommended by Diana Gill, Executive Editor, and Theresa Delucci, Associate Director of Advertising and Promotions

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton
Sure, it’s not out yet, but it will be out before the next season of Game of Thrones. Loosely based on Shakespeare’s King Lear, Gratton’s epic fantasy novel features three daughters fighting for a throne as surrounding kingdoms look to prey on the island’s vulnerability. The perfect read if you’re loving the battle of the queens in GoT.
Recommended by a bunch of raccoons in a trench coat, Associate Digital Marketing Manager, and Miriam Weinberg, Senior Editor

The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin
If you just want to stay in Westeros a little while longer, let us recommend the beautifully illustrated The Ice Dragon. These ice dragons aren’t the same as what became of poor Viserion, but they’re still terrifying beasts. Read the story of the brave winter child Adara and her friend, the ice dragon.
Recommended by Cassie Ammerman, Assistant Director of Digital Marketing

Feature image courtesy of HBO

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Ian C. Esslemont on Collaboration

Image Placeholder of - 36In a recent interview I commented that Steven Erikson and I have often been approached by people expressing surprise, even disbelief, at our long-standing collaboration in a co-created world (The Malazan Empire). These comments always come as a surprise to us because in retrospect the process seemed an entirely natural one. It simply unfolded organically—we worked the world out together, bouncing ideas off each other and laughing an awful lot in the process.

In many ways writing is actually a profoundly lonely and isolating undertaking. For me it was a privilege and a pleasure to have someone to share the material with. And I benefited enormously. I hope Steve did so, too. And I’m sure the product, the stories themselves, benefited as well. The give and take, the topping of ideas and undermining of each other’s characters’ goals, all added an extra layer of complexity and—dare I say realism—to so many threads. So many times one of us picked up what the other had added only to turn it completely inside out, or reverse it entirely, all to the surprise and enjoyment of both. I remember one particular immortal exchange between us (one that has yet to see print) wherein I explained that the paranoid Kellanved, then owner of a bar named Smiley’s, was spying and listening in on his employees by drilling holes in the floor of his office over the bar. Later, Steve had Dancer come upstairs, see Kellanved with his ear pressed to a hole and his bum in the air, and promptly kick him across the room. We threw that scene at each other across a table in Victoria, B.C.

After those early years the material lay fallow for quite a while. Yet the dream of writing never went entirely away for either of us. In the end it was Steve’s stubborn determination (and extraordinary talent!) that dragged it through to its eventual realization. Then, even though time had intervened, it was the natural thing to simply pick up the material once again knowing full well what had to be done. And since then, for me, it has all been a matter of attempting to do justice to what we begun. All I hope to do is give fullest depth and emotional truth to what we created.

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