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Series That Ended This Year You Can Binge Read Now!

Here’s one for the marathon readers. The book-jockeys who devour quadruple digit pages in single digit days. Here’s a list of fantasy series that ended this year to satiate even the most voracious word-eater. Enjoy your book binge 😈


Wake the Dragon seriesgods and dragons by Kevin J. Anderson

Co-author of the Dune sequels, Kevin J. Anderson’s Gods and Dragons marks his triumphant return to epic fantasy and magnanimous finish to his epic fantasy Wake the Dragons series.  Two continents at war: the Three Kingdoms and Ishara have been in conflict for a thousand years. But when an outside threat arises—the reawakening of a powerful ancient race that wants to remake the world—the two warring nations must somehow set aside generations of hatred to form an alliance against a far more deadly enemy. 

The Sorceror’s Song trilogyThe Sword's Elegy by Brian D. Anderson by Brian D. Anderson

The Sword’s Elegy is the third book in a new epic fantasy trilogy from successful self-published author Brian D. Anderson, perfect for fans of The Wheel of Time and The Sword of Truth. The doom of humankind has at last been realized. Belkar’s prison is broken and his army is on the move. The nations of Lamoria, unaware of the greater danger, look to repel the aggression of Ralmarstad. In the end, it is not great power, terrible armies, or mighty warriors who will influence the course of fate. But two lovers and the unbreakable bond they share. All questions are answered. All mysteries revealed.

Placeholder of  -87A Chorus of Dragons series by Jenn Lyons

The Discord of Gods marks the epic conclusion to Jenn Lyons’s A Chorus of Dragons series, closing out the saga that began with The Ruin of Kings, for fans of Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss. Do you like it when demons run rampant? When political intrigue and ancient rituals intersect? How about becoming the living avatar of a star? This epic fantasy series about a long-lost royal whose fate is tied to the future of an empire will take you on a thrilling ride you won’t forget and might not survive. 

Image Place holder  of - 89The Serpent Gates duology by A. K. Larkwood

The gods remember. And if you live long enough, all debts come due. This epic fantasy series about an orcish death priest who starts a new career as an assassin for a wizard to avoid becoming the god of death’s new bride is an amazing, swashbuckling, screaming-in-frustration, heart-racing cascade of emotion and action. Snake goddesses, ancient ruins, sibling rivalry for the favor of a garbage wizard. What more can you ask for? 

Place holder  of - 21The Lotus Kingdoms trilogy by Elizabeth Bear

Hugo Award-winning author Elizabeth Bear returns with The Origin of Storms, the stunning conclusion to her acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy, The Lotus Kingdoms. The Lotus Kingdoms are at war, with four claimants to the sorcerous throne of the Alchemical Emperor, fielding three armies between them. Alliances are made, and broken, many times over—but in the end, only one can sit on the throne. And that one must have not only the power, but the rightful claim.

The Fall of the Gods seriesPoster Placeholder of - 46 by Ryan Van Loan

Ryan Van Loan concludes his pulse-pounding fantasy series with sea battles, hidden libraries, warring deities, old enemies, and one woman’s desire for liberation and revenge all wrapped up in one epic novel—The Memory in the Blood. When her quest to destroy the Gods began, Buc was a child of the streets. Now she is a woman of steel, shaped by gaining and losing power, tempered by love and betrayal, and honed to a fine edge by grief and her desire for vengeance. If Buc has to destroy all Gods, eat the rich, and break the world’s economy to save the people, she will do it. Even if it costs her everything.

Mercenary Librarians seriesDance with the Devil by Kit Rocha by Kit Rocha

The Mercenary Librarians and the Silver Devils are back in the explosive conclusion to USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Kit Rocha’s post-apocalyptic action/romance in Dance with the Devil. How to describe the Mercenary Librarians series? Post-apocalyptic corporate autocracy with a rebellious streak of sweet and sexy romance. Rogue information brokers on a mission to save a crumbling America collide with a team of disillusioned AWOL supersoliders. It’s intense. It’s dangerous. It’s hot. 

mysticThe Mystic Trilogy by Jason Denzel

In Mystic Skies, the epic conclusion to Jason Denzel’s The Mystic Trilogy, which spans decades and timeless realms and dreams, Pomella must confront her greatest and most personal challenge yet. For the Deep mysteries of the world will reveal themselves only to the most powerful and dedicated of Mystics. This series from the founder of Dragonmount is perfect for all fans of swords and sorcery. Do you love Robert Jordan? Brandon Sanderson? Dungeons & Dragons? You HAVE to check out The Mystic Trilogy. 

The Caladan Trilogysnek by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

In Dune: The Heir of Caladan, the final book in the Caladan trilogy by New York Times bestselling authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, we step into the shoes of Paul Atreides. A boy not yet a man and about to enter a world he could never have imagined. The story that began with Duke Leto Atreides’s rise to power, then continued with the consequences of Lady Jessica’s betrayal, will now conclude with Paul becoming the person that he needs to be to become the Muad’Dib.

Mistborn: Wax and Wayne serieslost-metal by Brandon Sanderson

Return to #1 New York Times bestseller Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn world of Scadrial as its second era, which began with The Alloy of Law, comes to its earth-shattering conclusion in The Lost Metal

The Mistborn series is a bold saga of epic fantasy that asks the question: What happens if the hero of prophecy fails? And also: What if ingesting various metals gave you special powers? 

You simply cannot tell us you’re not curious…

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Queer Books Coming in 2022 🏳️‍🌈

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

Check it out, y’all!


Legends & LattesLegends & Lattes by Travis Baldree by Travis Baldree

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


The Atlas ParadoxThe Atlas Paradox by Olivie Blake by Olivie Blake

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


Image Place holder  of - 70Last Exit by Max Gladstone

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


Image Placeholder of - 20The Discord of Gods by Jenn Lyons

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


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

Hugo Award-winning author Elizabeth Bear returns to conclude her acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy of the Lotus Kingdoms, which began with The Stone in the Skull and The Red-Stained Wings, bringing it all to a surprising, satisfying climax in The Origin of Storms. The Lotus Kingdoms are at war, with four claimants to the sorcerous throne of the Alchemical Emperor, fielding three armies between them. Alliances are made, and broken, many times over—but in the end, only one can sit on the throne. And that one must have not only the power, but the rightful claim.


 

Place holder  of - 23The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison

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

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

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

The love of his friends will lead him out again.


cover of A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz MeadowsA Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows

Velasin vin Aaro never planned to marry at all, let alone a girl from neighboring Tithena. When an ugly confrontation reveals his preference for men, Vel fears he’s ruined the diplomatic union before it can even begin. But while his family is ready to disown him, the Tithenai envoy has a different solution: for Vel to marry his former intended’s brother instead. Caethari Aeduria always knew he might end up in a political marriage, but his sudden betrothal to a man from Ralia, where such relationships are forbidden, comes as a shock. With an unknown faction willing to kill to end their new alliance, Vel and Cae have no choice but to trust each other. Survival is one thing, but love—as both will learn—is quite another.


cover of The Book Eaters by Sunyi DeanThe Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries. Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon—like all other book eater women—is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairytales and cautionary stories. But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger—not for books, but for human minds.


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

Tobias Richter, the fearsome VP of Security of TechCorp is dead. The puppetmaster is gone, and the organization is scrambling to maintain control by ruthlessly limiting access to resources to Atlanta, hoping to quell rebellion. Our band of mercenary librarians have decided that the time for revolution has come. Maya uses her wealth of secrets to weaken the TechCorps from within. Dani strikes from the shadows, picking off the chain of command one ambush at a time. And Nina is organizing their community—not just to survive, but to fight back. When Maya needs to make contact with a sympathetic insider, Dani and Rafe are the only ones with the skill-set and experience to infiltrate the highest levels of the TechCorps. They’ll go deep undercover in the decadent, luxury-soaked penthouses on the Hill. Bringing Dani face-to-face with the man who turned her into a killer. And forcing Rafe to decide how far he’ll go to protect both of his families—the one he was born to, and the one he made for himself. Victory will break the back of Power. Failure will destroy Atlanta.


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

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


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

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


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

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Every Dragon Book Coming from Tor in 2022

We. Love. Dragons. We’re all about dragons. At any given moment, we’ve got dragons on our mind, and often, dragons in our books! In celebration of Dragon Week 4: Dragons 4ever, we’ve compiled a list of every book we’re releasing this year within whose pages you might encounter a dragon.

Check out this epic list of flying fantasy lizards!


Discord of GodsThe Discord of Gods by Jenn Lyons by Jenn Lyons

The Discord of Gods marks the epic conclusion to Jenn Lyons’s Chorus of Dragons series, closing out the saga that began with The Ruin of Kings, for fans of Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss.

 

Gods and DragonsGods and Dragons by Kevin J. Anderson by Kevin J. Anderson

Co-author of the Dune sequels, Kevin J. Anderson’s Gods and Dragons marks his triumphant return to epic fantasy, featuring a politically charged adventure of swords, sorcery, vengeance, and the awakening of sleeping giants.

The Origin of StormsThe Origin of Storms by Elizabeth Bear by Elizabeth Bear

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

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

The sequel to A. K. Larkwood’s stunning debut fantasy, The Unspoken Name. The Thousand Eyes continues The Serpent Gates series—perfect for fans of Jenn Lyons, Joe Abercrombie, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

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

Explore never-before-seen insights into the Wheel of Time, including:
A brand-new, redrawn world map by Ellisa Mitchell using change requests discovered in Robert Jordan’s unpublished notes
An alternate scene from an early draft of The Eye of the World
The long-awaited backstory of Nakomi
8 page, full color photo insert

The Kaiju Preservation SocietyThe Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi by John Scalzi

The Kaiju Preservation Society is John Scalzi’s first standalone adventure since the conclusion of his New York Times bestselling Interdependency trilogy.

 

Destiny of the DeadDestiny of the Dead by Kel Kade by Kel Kade

Destiny of the Dead is the second novel in a genre-bending series from New York Times bestselling author Kel Kade.

While the wealthy and powerful, the kings and queens, abandon the dying world, one group of misfits says no more. Through dogged determination and the ability to bind souls to their dead bodies, Aaslo and his friends fight on.

The Eye of ScalesThe Eye of Scales by Tracy Hickman and Richard Garriott by Tracy Hickman and Richard Garriott

Fantasy great Tracy Hickman teams up with the video game legend Richard Garriott in this epic novel The Eye of Scales, based on the award-winning game, Shroud of the Avatar.

Mystic SkiesMystic Skies by Jason Denzel by Jason Denzel

In this epic conclusion to Jason Denzel’s The Mystic Trilogy, which spans decades and timeless realms and dreams, Pomella must confront her greatest and most personal challenge yet. For the Deep mysteries of the world will reveal themselves only to the most powerful and dedicated of Mystics.

Full HouseFull House, edited by George R. R. Martin, edited by George R. R. Martin

In hardcover for the first time, Full House brings together the Wild Cards stories that have been previously published on Tor.com.

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On the Road: Tor Author Events in May 2022

May your May be full of cool book events! We’ve got some exciting ones coming up 😎😎

Check it out!


In-Person Events

Holly Black, Book of Night

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Wednesday, May 4
Barnes & Noble at Union Square
33 East 17th St
New York, NY 10003
7:00 PM ET

Jenn Lyons, The Discord of Gods

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Saturday, May 14
Read It Again Bookstore
3630 Peachtree Pkyw
Suite 314
Suwanee, GA 30024
12:00 PM ET

 


Digital Events

Holly Black, Book of Night

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Wednesday, May 4
Barnes & Noble at Union Square
Virtual Event
7:00 PM ET

Ryka Aoki, Light From Uncommon Stars

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Saturday, May 7
Big Gay Fundraiser! by Loyalty Bookstores
Virtual Event
8:00 PM ET

 

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Fantasy Novels That Subvert the Chosen One Narrative

By Zakiya Jamal & a cat

Image Place holder  of - 2We all know the story of the chosen one. Time and time again, we’ve watched the Fabled Hero rise from Humble Yet Noble Origins to unlock Hidden Power only to discover that their True Strength was Friendship All Along, or whatever. That’s not what we’re here to talk about today. No, today is about the books that take that familiar narrative and twist it up. Flip it on its precious, anointed head! 

And why today of all auspicious days for this task? Because we’re celebrating the release of The Discord of Gods, the thrilling conclusion to Jenn Lyons’ A Chorus of Dragons series, where chosen ones fall from grace, demons run rampant across the earth, and adventure is the most important word. 

So read on! Check out a whole list of novels that defy the heroic and shake up expectations!


The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Place holder  of - 45Lyons’ debut novel follows Kihrin, a thief and minstrel’s son, who discovers he’s a long lost prince. However, being a prince isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Kihrin’s new family treats him as a prisoner and he’s caught up in their power plays and political ambitions. To make matters worse, Khirin does seem to have a part to play in the fate of the world–in that he might just be destined to destroy it.

Lyon’s has already followed up with The Name of All Things and she continues subverting the traditional versions of heroes and chosen ones.

 

Poster Placeholder of - 71Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade

In Kel Kade’s riotous fantasy, Fate of the Fallen, the learned wizards, gallant nobility, career adventurers, and anyone who might be considered an archetypical hero have all yeeted themselves away from a world that is dying. Who’s left? The flotsam. The broken. The ne’er-do-wells. But no one fights like the desperate, and dying though it may be, this is their world to save, damn it.

 

Image Placeholder of - 27The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman

Kinch Na Shannack owes the Takers Guild a small fortune for his education as a thief, which is why he makes the mistake of attempting to rob Galva, who is a knight, a survivor of the brutal goblin wars, and handmaiden of the goddess of death. And from these lofty beginnings, a sharply funny and bitingly thrilling fantasy adventure unfolds.

 

Placeholder of  -54Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald

The first installment in a brilliant new fantasy trilogy from critically-acclaimed author Ed McDonald, Daughter of Redwinter chronicles the adventures of Raine, a young woman with a history of unfortunate decisions who can unfortunately see the dead. It’s a powerful gift, and one she’d die for if anyone knew. No adulation or support for Raine, our chosen girl who just might save the world. It’s secrets and daggers in the dark until the climactic end. 

Daughter of Redwinter is on sale 6.28.22

 

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

While one could argue that protagonist Mia Corvere does fall into the chosen one trope, Kristoff breaks out of the typical narrative style by having a narrator who reveals early on that Mia will die by the time the tale is done. So while Mia may seem like the center of the story, she’s not the one telling it and she won’t survive the story’s end.

 

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

Without giving too much away, Chakraborty does a great job of setting up the reader to believe that Nahri is the chosen one of this story, and though she certainly is at the center of the book, the novel becomes a dual narrative tale where the reader is left to wonder how Nahri’s story will converge with that of Prince Ali.

 

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

There are a lot of reasons why Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series was turned into a hit TV series and continues to bring in fans, but one of the big ones is Martin isn’t afraid to kill his heroes. From early in the series, Martin made it clear that the characters one might think are the saviors, or chosen ones, still aren’t safe.

 

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Often referred to as the adult Harry Potter, it shouldn’t be surprising that The Magicians makes the list. However, unlike Harry Potter, protagonist Quentin Coldwater doesn’t face a clear villain, at least not at first; instead Quentin’s main story is about exploring (and abusing) magic and discovering a world he’s always admired but doesn’t fully understand.

Originally published November 29, 2018.

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On the Road: Tor Author Events in April 2022

Spring is a time of renewal! And speaking of new, we’ve got a new roster of virtual and in-person events for the month 🌸🌷🌼

Check it out!


In-Person Events

Jenn Lyons, The Discord of Gods

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Tuesday, April 26
Eagle Eye Book Shop
2076 N Decatur Road
Decatur, GA 30033
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM ET

 


Digital Events

T. L. Huchu, Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments

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Tuesday, April 5
An Unlikely Story
Virtual Event
6:00 PM ET

Jenn Lyons, The Discord of Gods

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Wednesday, April 27
Mysterious Galaxy
Virtual Event
7:00 PM ET

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Every Book Coming From Tor in Spring 2022

Ready to build up that Spring TBR pile? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out everything coming from Tor Books in Spring 2022 here!


March 1

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

The Alexandrian Society, caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity, are the foremost secret society of magical academicians in the world. Those who earn a place among the Alexandrians will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams, and each decade, only the six most uniquely talented magicians are selected to be considered for initiation. When the new candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they will have one year to qualify for initiation. One will be eliminated. The six potential initiates will fight to survive the next year of their lives, and if they can prove themselves to be the best among their rivals, most of them will.

March 8

Place holder  of - 12Last Exit by Max Gladstone

When Zelda and her friends first met, in college, they believed they had all the answers. They had figured out a big secret about how the world worked and they thought that meant they could change things. They failed. One of their own fell, to darkness and rot. Ten years later, they’ve drifted apart, building lives for themselves, families, fortunes. All but Zelda. She’s still wandering the backroads of the nation. She’s still fighting monsters. She knows: the past isn’t over. It’s not even past. The road’s still there. The rot’s still waiting. They can’t hide from it any more. Because, at long last, their friend is coming home. And hell is coming with her.

March 15

Image Placeholder of - 85The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on. What Tom doesn’t tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at least.

Cover of Worlds of Exile and Illusion by Ursula K. Le GuinWorlds of Exile and Illusion by Ursula K. Le Guin, introduction by Amal El-Mohtar

These three spacefaring adventures mark the beginning of grand master Ursula K. Le Guin’s remarkable career. Set in the same universe as Le Guin’s groundbreaking classics The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, these first three books of the celebrated Hainish Series follow travelers of many worlds and civilizations in the depths of space. The novels collected in this Tor Essentials edition are the first three ever published by Le Guin, a frequent winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards and one of the greatest science fiction and fantasy writers of all time. With a new introduction by Amal El-Mohtar, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author.

Placeholder of  -62Three Kings edited by Melinda M. Snodgrass, in the Wildcards World of George R.R. Martin

In the aftermath of World War II, the Earth’s population was devastated by an alien virus. Those who survived were changed forever. Some, known as jokers, were cursed with bizarre mental and physical mutations; others, granted superhuman abilities, became the lucky few known as aces. Queen Margaret, who came to the English throne after the death of her sister Elizabeth, now lies on her death-bed. Summoning the joker ace Alan Turing, she urges him to seek the true heir: Elizabeth’s lost son. He was rumored to have died as a baby but, having been born a joker, was sent into hiding.

March 22

Image Place holder  of - 49The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real. Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself. But now—Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.

Poster Placeholder of - 8Destiny of the Dead by Kel Kade

The God of Death is tired of dealing with the living, so he’s decided everyone should die. And he’s found allies. The Berru, an empire of dark mages, has unleashed a terrifying army of monstrous lyksvight upon everyone with a pulse. While the wealthy and powerful, the kings and queens, abandon the dying world, one group of misfits says no more. Through dogged determination and the ability to bind souls to their dead bodies, Aaslo and his friends fight on. In the mountains of the far north, another bastion of defense is opened. Cherrí, the avatar of a vengeful fire god, has united the survivors amongst her people and begun her own war on the invaders. Now, Aaslo and Cherrí must find a way to unite their powers, one divine, the other profane, to throw back the monsters of the Berru, and challenge Death itself.

March 29

Sweep of Stars by Maurice Broaddus

The Muungano empire strived and struggled to form a utopia when they split away from old earth. Freeing themselves from the endless wars and oppression of their home planet in order to shape their own futures and create a far-reaching coalition of city-states that stretched from Earth and Mars to Titan. With the wisdom of their ancestors, the leadership of their elders, the power and vision of their scientists and warriors they charted a course to a better future. But the old powers could not allow them to thrive and have now set in motion new plots to destroy all that they’ve built. In the fire to come they will face down their greatest struggle yet.

April 5

Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments by T.L. Huchu

When Ropa Moyo discovered an occult underground library, she expected great things. She’s really into Edinburgh’s secret societies – but turns out they are less into her. So instead of getting paid to work magic, she’s had to accept a crummy unpaid internship. Then her friend Priya offers her a job on the side. Priya works at Our Lady of Mysterious Maladies, a very specialized hospital, where a new illness is resisting magical and medical remedies alike. If Ropa can solve the case, she might earn as she learns – and impress her mentor, Sir Callander. Her sleuthing will lead her to a lost fortune, an avenging spirit and a secret buried deep in Scotland’s past. But how are they connected? Lives are at stake and Ropa is running out of time.

Aspects by John M. Ford

Enter the halls of Parliament with Varic, Coron of the Corvaric Coast. Visit Strange House with the Archmage Birch. Explore the mountains of Lady Longlight alongside the Palion Silvern, Sorcerer. In the years before his unexpected death, John M. Ford wrote a novel of fantasy and magic unlike any other. Politics and abdicated kings, swords and sorcerous machine guns, divination and ancient empires—finally, Aspects is here.

April 12

Shadow Fallen by Sherrilyn Kenyon

For centuries, Ariel has fought the forces of evil. Her task was to protect the souls of innocent mortals when they die. Captured by a powerful sorceress, she is transformed into a human who has no memory of her real life or calling. And is plunked into the middle of the Norman invasion of England. Cursed the moment he was born with a “demonic deformity,” Valteri wants nothing of this earth except to depart it and will do his duty to his king until then. When a strange noblewoman is brought before him, Valteri realizes he has met her before…in his dreams. When others come for her, bringing with them preternatural predators, he is faced with a destiny he had no idea was waiting. One he wants no part of.

April 19

Flint and Mirror by John Crowley

As ancient Irish clans fought to preserve their lands and their way of life, the Queen and her generals fought to tame the wild land and make it English. Hugh O’Neill, lord of the North, dubbed Earl of Tyrone by the Queen, is a divided man: the Queen gives to Hugh her love, and her commandments, through a little mirror of obsidian which he can never discard; and the ancient peoples of Ireland arise from their underworld to make Hugh their champion, the token of their vow a chip of flint.

April 26

Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher

Marra never wanted to be a hero. As the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter, she escaped the traditional fate of princesses, to be married away for the sake of an uncaring throne. But her sister wasn’t so fortunate—and after years of silence, Marra is done watching her suffer at the hands of a powerful and abusive prince. Seeking help for her rescue mission, Marra is offered the tools she needs, but only if she can complete three seemingly impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes and witches, doing the impossible is only the beginning.

The Discord of Gods by Jenn Lyons

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

Up Against It by Laura J. Mixon

Jane Navio is the resource manager of Phoecea, an asteroid colony poised on the knife-edge of a hard vacuum of unforgiving space. A mishap has dumped megatons of water and methane out the colony’s air lock, putting the entire human population at risk. Jane discovers that the crisis may have been engineered by the Martian crime syndicate, as a means of executing a coup that will turn Phocaea into a client-state. And if that wasn’t bad enough, an AI that spawned during the emergency has gone rogue…and there’s a giant x-factor in the form of the transhumanist Viridian cult that lives in Phocaea’s bowels.

May 3

Book of Night by Holly Black

Charlie Hall has never found a lock she couldn’t pick, a book she couldn’t steal, or a bad decision she wouldn’t make. She’s spent half her life working for gloamists, magicians who manipulate shadows to peer into locked rooms, strangle people in their beds, or worse. Gloamists guard their secrets greedily, creating an underground economy of grimoires. And to rob their fellow magicians, they need Charlie Hall. Now, she’s trying to distance herself from past mistakes, but getting out isn’t easy. Bartending at a dive, she’s still entirely too close to the corrupt underbelly of the Berkshires. Not to mention that her sister Posey is desperate for magic, and that Charlie’s shadowless, and possibly soulless, boyfriend has been hiding things from her. When a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie descends into a maelstrom of murder and lies.

May 24

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

The Lotus Kingdoms are at war, with four claimants to the sorcerous throne of the Alchemical Emperor, fielding three armies between them. Alliances are made, and broken, many times over—but in the end, only one can sit on the throne. And that one must have not only the power, but the rightful claim. The Rajni Mrithuri stands as the chief claimant to the Alchemical throne now, but she and her empire remain a prize to be taken unless she gets an heir. She has her allies–her cousin Sayeh, a dragon, a foreign wizard, a fearsome automaton, and the Dead Man–but the throne has the final say. And if it rejects her, the price is death.

What book are you reading first? Let us know in the comments!

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Excerpt: The Discord of Gods by Jenn Lyons

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Placeholder of  -17The Discord of Gods marks the epic conclusion to Jenn Lyons’s Chorus of Dragons series, closing out the saga that began with The Ruin of Kings, for fans of Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss.

THEIR CONFLICT COULD END THEM ALL.

Relos Var’s final plans to enslave the universe are on the cusp of fruition. He believes there’s only one being in existence that might be able to stop him: the demon Xaltorath.

As these two masterminds circle each other, neither is paying attention to the third player on the board, Kihrin. Unfortunately, keeping himself classified in the ‘pawn’ category means Kihrin must pretend to be everything the prophecies threatened he’d become: the destroyer of all, the sun eater, a mindless, remorseless plague upon the land. It also means finding an excuse to not destroy the people he loves (or any of the remaining Immortals) without arousing suspicion.

Kihrin’s goals are complicated by the fact that not all of his ‘act’ is one. His intentions may be sincere, but he’s still being forced to grapple with the aftereffects of the corrupted magic ritual that twisted both him and the dragons. Worse, he’s now tied to a body that is the literal avatar of a star — a form that is becoming increasingly, catastrophically unstable. All of which means he’s running out of time.

After all, some stars fade — but others explode.

Please enjoy this free excerpt of The Discord of Gods by Jenn Lyons, on sale 04/26/2022.


Precis

Our story starts a little over four months previous. Also, four years previously. And four hundred years previously . . . and four thousand . . . and fourteen thousand.

Let’s work our way forward.

Fourteen thousand years ago, human settlers invaded this dimension from another, fleeing the death of their universe. They were ill-prepared to deal with a world where magic existed and where they could neither easily die nor reproduce. They survived and made a home here, but it’s most important that you know this: two of the settlers were brothers named S’arric and Rev’arric. S’arric was popular. Rev’arric was smart. Eventually, Rev’arric came to loathe that difference.

Four thousand years ago, a second invasion occurred, this time by a race of telepathic, incorporeal monsters who thrived on pain and fear. This invasion damaged the barrier between this world and its twin, a shadowy Afterlife from which all souls came and eventually returned. Now humans could be killed and could have children, but this seemed an ill reward for being slowly destroyed by demons they couldn’t fight.

Rev’arric, smart man that he was, figured out a way. He devised a ritual to empower Eight Guardians, giving them godlike powers and the ability to follow demons even into the Afterlife. But he assumed he’d be one of the people picked for this, and when his brother was chosen instead, Rev’arric was overwhelmed with jealousy and hate.

So, when he discovered that the dimensional breach the demons had created would eventually annihilate the universe, he didn’t hesitate at a solution which required his brother’s destruction. He tricked his brother into participating in a second ritual, meant to elevate Rev’arric and turn his brother into a thrall under his control. Instead, it turned Rev’arric and the eight other participants into insane dragons and turned S’arric into a horrifying monster under no one’s control. This obliterated their country, formed the Blight, killed millions, and created both the Cornerstones and the sword Urthaenriel. Their people, the Voras, eventually imprisoned S’arric (now called Vol Karoth) at the cost of their immortality, but not before he killed the rest of the original Eight Guardians. One of the Cornerstones, the Stone of Shackles, was used to bind the demons, effectively ending the war. But it was too late: the Voras had been plunged into a dark age from which they never recovered. A cycle in which Vol Karoth’s prison would weaken and could only be repaired by the sacrifice of an entire people’s immortality would repeat several times.

Over four hundred years ago, Vol Karoth’s prison weakened once more, but this time he woke. The Eight Guardians (now called the Eight Immortals) had been resurrected, but none of them were prepared to fight their former leader. Worse, upon waking Vol Karoth broke the sun, turning it from yellow to orange-red. After repairing Vol Karoth’s prison, the Quuros emperor, Kandor, invaded the Manol and was slain. Kandor’s wife, Elana, snuck into the Blight to stop the morgage. She also remembered that she’d once been S’arric’s lover, C’indrol, and so tried to separate S’arric from “Vol Karoth.” She succeeded, after a fashion, sending fragments of S’arric’s souls into the Afterlife, where he slowly healed. S’arric, Kandor, and Elana would all later volunteer to be reincarnated to stop Vol Karoth, joined by the first emperor of Quur, Simillion.

Four years ago, a street thief named Kihrin stumbled upon a demonic summoning, gaining the attention of a particular evil necromancer named Gadrith, a particularly evil demon named Xaltorath, and a particularly evil Quuros prince named Darzin. The later snatched the boy up, claiming to be Kihrin’s father. In reality, Darzin’s master, that necromancer, Gadrith, wanted an artifact that Kihrin unknowingly wore: the Stone of Shackles. Kihrin ran away, and while he technically escaped Darzin, he didn’t escape being sold into slavery and auctioned off in a far-away land. There, he was almost bought by Rev’arric, now cured of his insanity, passing himself off as human, and going by the name Relos Var. Instead, Kihrin was purchased by a cult working for the Goddess of Death, Thaena (one of the Eight Immortals). Kihrin spent the next four years on a tropical island, training. Also falling in love, having his heart broken, running afoul of a different dragon, discovering he was the reincarnation of S’arric, and trying to convince himself that his feelings for Thaena’s son, Teraeth (the reincarnation of Kandor), weren’t romantic.

Four months ago, Kihrin returned to the Capital City with Teraeth and a weather witch named Tyentso, in order to stop Gadrith’s plans and free Gadrith’s son Thurvishar (who was the reincarnation of Simillion). Instead, Gadrith captured Kihrin, gained the Stone of Shackles, sacrificed Kihrin to Xaltorath, sparked a Hellmarch, and swapped bodies with the Emperor of Quur. But Kihrin didn’t stay dead, and he found what Gadrith had been seeking first: the god-slaying Urthaenriel, which Kihrin promptly used to kill Darzin, Gadrith, and break the Stone of Shackles. This broke all the gaeshe that kept demons under control, unleashing chaos. Also, Tyentso ended up becoming the Empress of Quur.

Kihrin fled the Capital, hoping to find an ally against Relos Var in the form of a mysterious figure called the Black Knight. This turned out to be Janel, the reincarnation of Elana. She’d fought her own battles against Xaltorath and Relos Var, but now wanted Kihrin’s help killing the dragon Morios, whom she believed would soon destroy the Jorat capital, Atrine. Although this threat was real, it was also a trap set by Relos Var, meant to separate Kihrin from Urthaenriel. It worked. It also woke Vol Karoth and damaged his prison.

Four fortnights ago, the Eight Immortals dispatched Kihrin, Teraeth, Janel, and Thurvishar to the Manol in order to make sure the last immortal race did their part to repair Vol Karoth’s prison. The vané king said “no”—by drugging the four and leaving them in the Blight to die. In the aftermath, they realized the situation was more complicated than they’d realized, and that the Eight Immortals weren’t pure of intentions. When Thaena proved willing to murder her own son and destroy an entire nation to fix Vol Karoth’s prison, Kihrin was forced to ally with Relos Var to stop her. By the time the dust settled, four immortals, including Thaena, were dead. Kihrin decided on a rash course of action: to merge back with Vol Karoth in the hope of ruining Relos Var’s plans to replace the Eight Immortals with himself.

Four days ago, Relos Var’s apprentice Senera switched sides. She kidnapped a dozen people during a dual kraken/dragon attack on the island of Devors and took them to a magical lighthouse where time ran fast. She’d hoped that Kihrin’s loved ones would help him fight off Vol Karoth, but the group realized it was the wrong approach: Kihrin and Vol Karoth were no longer separate entities. The only way to “win” was to help Kihrin—and themselves—overcome his trauma.

And in a few minutes, Kihrin—once called Vol Karoth, and before that, S’arric—will break free from his prison. Janel and Teraeth will return to the Manol to reclaim a throne. Thurvishar and Senera will try to recover Urthaenriel. Empress Tyentso will struggle to save an empire that’s always hated her. Relos Var will begin his final plans to control the dragons, enslave Vol Karoth, heal the dimensional breach, and make himself a god. And Xaltorath will attempt to steal enough energy to unravel the universe.

And here we go.

 Step One: Gather Information

Kihrin’s story

(in which Kihrin’s plan is revealed to be exactly the opposite)

Wandering in the Blight

The day of Vol Karoth’s escape, just after dawn

I’d started contemplating next steps before I’d freed myself from that ever-solovely prison in Kharas Gulgoth. Or what had been my prison. The Korthaen Blight looked much the same as it always had, or rather, as it had since everything had gone wrong.

In some ways, it was worse to remember what it had been like, before. When this had been a garden full of life and beauty, growing wild and lush under a yellow sun. When the city of Karolaen was a wonder—even if it had ultimately been a refugee camp for the voras as we ran from Nythrawl and the demon invasion.

Now, it was a corrupted, ruined landscape. The devastation was so total that it had fractured the earth itself, creating a hot spot that fed toxic thermal springs and sulfur-laced fumes, which poisoned the ground so utterly that it was a shock that anything had ever been able to grow here at all.

Korthaen meant “the Land of Death.” Perhaps not the most original of names, but certainly accurate. It still amazed me that the morgage had found a way to survive here at all, but they’d been extremely, extremely dedicated to keeping people away from Vol Karoth’s prison.

Of course, that had been before Vol Karoth had woken. Afterward, even the morgage had been forced to flee.

It wouldn’t have been safe for them to return either. Much as I wanted to think that everything would be fine now that I was “whole” again, that just wasn’t true. I couldn’t hold so much as a stone picked up off the ground without it disintegrating in my grip. I kept trying. It was a problem I’d need to solve.

Before I’d escaped (back when we were all still in that strange liminal space that was both Kharas Gulgoth and the Lighthouse at Shadrag Gor),1 I’d given the others all manner of tasks to accomplish: we’d discussed strategies, how to keep Relos Var from discovering what we were up to, and how to avoid the people who might cause problems. I’d gone out of my way to make sure everyone knew that I had a solid plan for what to do, a definite scheme, even if I was being cagey about the details. S’arric the general, leader of the Guardians, could naturally be counted on to formulate a battle plan for fighting the enemy, right?

I hadn’t been lying exactly . . .

Okay, fine. I was lying. There was no plan. Nothing even resembling a plan.

Rather, I had a plan for making a plan. A real and proper plan would be impossible while there were so many unknown variables beyond my control. I was going to need information and a lot of it before any such strategy could be formed.

Senera had used the Name of All Things on every question I could think of before she’d then used the Cornerstone to cure Drehemia’s insanity, destroying it as a result.2 But even such an artifact had limits. It couldn’t answer every question. It especially couldn’t answer questions about events that hadn’t yet occurred, that had occurred before its creation, or that might have occurred in an alternate time-line.

As far as the strategy itself, well . . .

I had no intention of behaving the way S’arric would have. Relos Var knew his brother far too well. No. I planned to take my cues from a more recent mentor: my adoptive mother, Ola. Who had been by her own admission a crook, a schemer, a rogue, and a swindler down to her core. Relos Var thought of his brother as being first and foremost a soldier: I had no intention of behaving like one.

Ola Nathera always used to say that the key to a good con lay in three factors: organization, execution, and finding an utter bastard.3

Whether said bastard was the con artist or the mark? Ah, now that was flexible and, depending on the answer, required a different approach. Once you figured out which was which, the rest was a matter of logistics.

Either one made for a successful con, but most of the time, it was safe to assume the “bastard” in question would be the con artist themselves. That’s because most of the time, the mark wasn’t a bad person.

This whole idea that you can’t con an honest man? Nonsense. Most cons don’t exploit greed or lust, despite what you always hear. Most cons exploit benevolence. They appeal to the sincere desire that most people genuinely have to help someone in need, then lure them in with the revelation that such assistance will also reward the mark for their altruism. What could possibly be more appealing than a charitable deed and profit wrapped up in a single act?4 These people want to help, and knowing that there’s literally no downside makes it an easy decision. It makes the entire situation fair to everyone involved so that ultimately everyone wins.

At least, that’s the sell. I would argue that it’s not greed but this desire for equity that takes most marks by the hand and leads them those final, fatal steps into the trap.

And then there’s the other kind of bastard.

That’s when the mark is someone who doesn’t give a shit who needs their help. Helping others isn’t a persuasive motivation, not even if they’ll be rewarded for it. They are, in fact, suspicious of such rewards, more likely to leave such a situation alone unless they can verify and double-verify. No, what they need is a situation where someone else is vulnerable. Where they, the mark, believe they’re in a position to exploit that vulnerability. These are the bastards who can be convinced to betray confidences, take advantage of the weak, leave their partners out to dry. They don’t fall prey to the con because they’re good people but because they thought they were smarter than the con artist. Smarter, wickeder, and more cunning. They assumed that because they were hunters, they would never be prey.5

If there was any lesson that I’d learned at Ola’s knee, it was that sooner or later, everyone was prey.

I always preferred the second kind of mark, because I’m not a complete bastard,6 and I always felt bad about exploiting the first kind of mark. Even in a city as notoriously corrupt as the Capital, however, that second variety was harder to find. A con man might approach a regular person out of the cold, beg them for aid. A bastard, on the other hand, needed to think they weren’t helping; that they had in fact gotten the drop on you, that you needed them far more than they needed you. They had to think that they had all the power. A bastard was too suspicious of the darker aspects of humanity to accept that anyone was free from ulterior motives. A good con made them think that they were the ones taking advantage of the con artist, rather than the reverse.

All of this was a long-winded way of explaining that Relos Var had always been a strange mixture of both. While it would be easy to say that Var was a bastard and leave it at that, I was fully aware that by Relos Var’s standards, he firmly and genuinely believed that he was saving the world (with the side effect of becoming its kindly if tyrannical god) in what might be described as the ultimate expression of “rewarded benevolence.”

Plus, a further complication: Relos Var was already involved in his own scheme. Conning certain types of people—other con artists, spies, smugglers, almost any royal—was made more difficult because they were people with agendas, people on missions. The only way to distract one of those groups was to present them with something better than what they already thought they were getting. Otherwise, there was simply no motivation to their old schemes for new ones.

Considering Relos Var was attempting to destroy the other Immortals and rule the world (after he fixed it, to be fair), I was finding myself hard-pressed to describe what “better than he was already getting” might look like. Especially when I had only the faintest idea how Relos Var planned to accomplish it.

Normally, a con artist either picked a scam and found a mark that fit, or picked a mark and tailored the scam accordingly. In this case, there was really only one option. I couldn’t sub in my own game pieces until I understood Relos Var’s better. Fortunately, there was someone I could ask.

Although perhaps ask was the wrong word.

Still, I had to find it just a little hilarious—downright ironic—that in order to mess with Relos Var, I’d first have to mess with Xaltorath.

If I were being honest with myself, I was even looking forward to it.

So with that in mind, I escaped my prison and set out in search of an old friend.

1 The two locations were merged thanks to Senera.—Thurvishar

I’m honestly unsure whether it would be better or worse to confess that I didn’t do it on purpose.—Senera

2 Technically speaking, the Name of All Things wasn’t destroyed, simply merged back with its paired dragon, in exactly the same way Grizzst merged Cynosure and Relos Var in order to cure Relos Var’s insanity.—S

3 Which Kihrin absolutely is, at least in terms of birth, if perhaps not personality.—T Oh, I think he might qualify in personality too.—S

4 A great many of the scams common to the Lower Circle hinge on some kind of “reward” that the con artist offers to share with the victim in exchange for a small favor or concession, which either is the whole point or which opens up the victim to blackmail later.—T

5 The citizens of Eamithon even have a phrase for this: The hawk hunts the mongoose that hunts the snake.—T

6 Except by birth, as established.—S I don’t believe that’s technically true any longer. After all, by all accounts I’ve been able to discover, S’arric and Rev’arric’s parents were married, while Kihrin’s birth form (we need a better vocabulary for this type of discussion) is no longer being used.—T That’s a good and annoying point. Stop it.—S

 Dreams of Sins Past

Tyentso’s story

The Soaring Halls, the Upper Circle of the Capital City of Quur

The day of Vol Karoth’s escape, just after dawn

The sunlight was a flare of hot red, glinting off the rolling waves with mirror brightness. Tyentso already had a headache from the reflection, and she wasn’t even manning a position on deck. The splash of waves created a steady background roar against the ship’s hull, counterpoint to the blinding glare. Counterpoint as well to the sound of groaning slaves down in the hold of the ship.

Wait.

She glanced around, blinking as she tried to make some measure of sense out of her view. This was the Misery. She hadn’t been back on board the Misery in years. The Misery didn’t even exist anymore, long since destroyed in a tug-of-war between a kraken and a dragon. But that had never stopped the nightmares. This was all too familiar.

Except in the important ways that it was not.

Except in the important ways that it was not. Kihrin sat on one of the water barrels, watching men work who either couldn’t see him or chose to ignore him. The Stone of Shackles shone a deep blue against his bronze skin. He looked older than the sixteen years he would have been in her memories, with less baby fat in his cheeks and infinitely older eyes.

Normally . . . Normally in her dreams, he’d be tied to the mainmast by this point, back washed crimson from the cat-o’-nine-tails the first mate, Delon, had used on him. That particular nightmare always started off in those moments when Captain Juval had been forced to choose between killing Kihrin and something arguably worse. When he’d demanded Tyentso summon up a demon to section off a piece of Kihrin’s soul and gaesh the boy as a compromise.

Captain Juval always picked a death sentence in her nightmares. Always ordered her to be the one to carry it out. Every time, Tyentso would know with absolute certainty that if she didn’t carry out the command, she would take Kihrin’s place. And every time, Tyentso killed the boy. No matter how much she screamed inside, she always made the same choice.

She’d always done whatever it took to survive.

“Do you always dream about this?” Kihrin turned his head to stare at her, and instantly, she knew this wasn’t a normal dream. That this wasn’t a dream at all in any typical sense of the word.

“Sometimes I dream about the Academy executing my mother for witchcraft,” Tyentso admitted. “Or my father Gadrith murdering me. Or . . . Well. My life is a fertile spring for spawning nightmares. Plenty of fuel for any number of horrific scenarios, replayed nightly for my amusement.” She paused, an ugly twisting in her gut. “I dreamed you died, you know. A few weeks back. I dreamed that mimic, Talon, had put her hand through your chest.”

A part of her whispered that she shouldn’t be talking about this. That someone might have found a way to intrude on her dreams and use it to ferret out secrets. But she quieted that voice. She knew this was Kihrin. She could feel it.

Kihrin coughed out an awkward laugh. “You know, I really should have expected that you’d sense that.”

Tyentso’s heart lurched in her chest, knocked against her ribs. “What? Scamp.” Tyentso loved the damn kid in her own way, but this was nothing to joke about—

He shrugged. “What can I say? Talon put her hand through my chest. I kind of died.”

Tyentso stared harder. “Was this before or after Thaena’s death?”

“After. It’s part of why I’m here.”

“Tell me you didn’t use Grimward. Tell me you’re not a damn vampire now, Scamp.”

Kihrin’s mouth twisted into something a little too sarcastic to be a proper smile. “No, I didn’t use Grimward.” He gestured toward the hold, toward the source of that faint, painful noise. “How many slaves do you think you helped Juval deliver to the auction block? You did this for something like twenty years, right? So it can’t be hundreds. We’re talking thousands, aren’t we?”

Tyentso felt her stomach flip, the knots tangle. “Scamp, I’ve already done my absolution for that.”

“Yeah, but said absolution was with Thaena. And for some reason, I don’t trust the judgment of a woman who was willing to wipe out the entire Manol vané population just to keep”—he paused—“Vol Karoth imprisoned for a few more decades. I wouldn’t trust her to even understand what the word redemption means.”

“So what are you saying, Kihrin? I’m not done atoning?” Tyentso wasn’t sure if she was angry or just frustrated. She wasn’t proud of what she’d done, but damn it, she’d been trying to survive . . .

“You already know the answer to that, Ty. Or you wouldn’t be still having the nightmares.” He raised an eyebrow at her. “Believe me, I know something about committing sins that you know you’ll never make right. It gets easier—it really does—but you’ll never be able to proclaim yourself innocent.” He glanced at her, for just a moment, but it was enough for her to be certain that he must have heard about what she’d done in the Capital. What she’d done to the high lords.

No. She was definitely not free from sin.

Tyentso felt herself frowning. “When did you stop being younger than me, Scamp? You used to be a lot younger. I could see it in your eyes, in the way you gazed out at the world. But now—” She stood. “You’re not really Kihrin, are you?”

He just chuckled and patted the barrel next to him, inviting her to take a seat. “Relax, Tyentso. I really am Kihrin.”

“But why—?”

“I’m also S’arric,” he said. “And, uh, much as it pains me to use the damn title, I suppose from a technical point of view I’m also Vol Karoth.1 Which is why we’re meeting in a dream instead of in person. It’s kind of difficult for me to be around people at the moment. At least, it’s difficult for me to be around anyone I care to keep safe.” He made a sweeping motion with his arm. “We’re also having this chat in a dream because Relos Var has a couple of ways to eavesdrop on people, but as far as I know, not a single one to spy on a dream.”

Tyentso didn’t sit on the barrel. Instead, she stood there and contemplated with a feeling of absolute dread itching through her veins as all the color washed out of the world.

Vol Karoth? What the fuck had happened to Kihrin while she was busy playing emperor?

Her fingers began moving, almost of their own volition, the desire to do something so intense that she couldn’t resist it. She wasn’t sure what good casting magic inside a dream would do, however.

Kihrin smiled at her. “It’s still me, Ty. Same soul. Same memories. Just more of both.” The corner of his mouth twisted. “The body’s new. Or should I say really old? The original, as it were. Can’t say I don’t miss the newer version, though, because boy, do I ever miss the newer version.”

Tyentso took a deep breath. He sounded like Kihrin. Sounded like Kihrin in a way she had a difficult time imagining Vol Karoth ever would. The ship seemed to tilt, and she realized it was just that she’d sat down on the barrel, after all.

“Fucking hell, Scamp,” she muttered. “Does Teraeth know about this?”

“He does,” Kihrin admitted, after a beat of hesitation that spoke volumes about how well that conversation must have gone. “Has anyone gotten around to telling you he’s king of the Manol these days?”

Tyentso blinked, then shook her head and looked away. “I guess I’ve missed a few things.”

“But not Thaena’s death.”

She scoffed. “No, not Thaena’s death. I felt that one.” She’d nursed an ugly, hollowed-out feeling ever since, all the purpose and clarity that had been there for her for the past few years evaporated like seawater on board the Misery’s deck. Nothing left behind but stains and salt. “I don’t even know what happened to her. It wasn’t you, I hope.”

“The short version is that Thaena insisted on the vané conducting the Ritual of Night, only it turned out that the vané were never a separate race. They were just humans with a much better educational system. So it didn’t work. Apparently, Doc had known and kept it from her, and she was so angry that she murdered him—”

“Fuck,” Tyentso muttered.

“—then she used an enchantment to force Teraeth to carry out a ritual that would have killed every citizen of the Manol to gain the power she needed. She intended to use that power to recharge the faulty control crystal keeping Vol Karoth’s prison intact. Of course, a bunch of folks went to stop her, and it was big and it was nasty.” He sighed. “Taja died. Argas and Galava too. And at one point, Thaena picked up Urthaenriel. A huge mistake: it broke the enchantment she had on Teraeth. So when she tossed the sword to the side in order to better concentrate on killing me, he picked it up and killed her with it.”

The whole world seemed to just go dark, the breath freezing inside her lungs. She ground her teeth and covered her mouth with a hand. She couldn’t imagine it—and yet she also absolutely could. There was never any anger worse, any betrayal worse, than the ones committed by the people who were supposed to love you.

“Oh,” she said.

“So a few things. First is that it’s apparently possible to be a demon without being evil, although currently there are only two examples of the not-evil kind, and they’re both children of Qoran Milligreest, so I’m not sure what that says about the Milligreest bloodline.”2

Tyentso blinked at him. “What.”

“Janel and Jarith are both demons. In Janel’s case, you probably wouldn’t even notice because she’s possessing her original body, but Jarith’s a different story. And I’m explaining this to you because it’s rather important that you not kill him.”

She couldn’t quite believe what she was hearing. The idea that Janel had been infected was bad enough—she’d liked that girl—but Jarith? How was she supposed to believe—her brain latched on to a more immediate issue. “That implies I’ll have the opportunity.”

“Contacting me is tricky at the moment. Jarith can manage it. And it’s difficult to stop him from going wherever he feels like, which makes Jarith my official go-between. If you need a message to reach me, all you have to do is tell him.”

“You’ve got to be fucking joking.”

A flicker of irritation crossed his face. “Trust me, he’s not terribly happy to be a demon either, Ty. But it is what it is. And there’s an excellent chance you will need to be able to send messages to me. In the meantime, I’ve asked him to watch your back.”

“I don’t—” She closed her eyes. Tyentso didn’t even really know Jarith Milligreest. He’d been born after she’d been exiled from Quur.

Poor Qoran, though. He’d be devastated once he figured out what had happened to his son.

Kihrin took her silence as an opportunity to move on to the next topic. “The second thing is that soon you’ll be receiving the news that Vol Karoth has escaped his prison—broken free entirely. I’m sure Relos Var felt it as it happened, and if Xaltorath doesn’t already know, they will soon. So I figure both will start their endgame scenarios. In the case of Xaltorath—” He shrugged. “I suspect Xaltorath’s just looking for power at this point. Tenyé and as much of it as they can manage. Which obviously we have to deny them.”

“Obviously,” Tyentso agreed, numb.

Kihrin grinned at her. “But the bigger problem is Relos Var. I know what he wants, but I’m less sure about exactly how he intends to get there.”

“Okay, I’ll play. What does Relos Var want?”

“He wants to puppet-walk my ass into the Nythrawl Wound and use me to seal it from the other side. For the moment, he thinks he needs Urthaenriel to do it, because when last he checked, Urthaenriel could be used to control Vol Karoth.”

Tyentso narrowed her eyes. “And that’s no longer true?”

Kihrin grinned, wide and bright and achingly mischievous. “That’s no longer true. But don’t tell him. I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.”

Tyentso snorted. “And I assume this is why you’re coming to me. You know you made me promise I wouldn’t return that stupid sword to you just because you asked, right?”

“And that hasn’t changed,” Kihrin said, “but it does mean that Relos Var is going to be coming for you.”

She scoffed. “Why? He shouldn’t have any idea that I have it. I haven’t told anyone.”

“I don’t think that matters,” Kihrin said. “Look, I realize that we’ve all been raised on stories of Godslayer, or Urthaenriel, or whatever you want to call the damn sword, and so we all know that you can’t use magic to find it, but”—he gave her a sharp look—“that’s not entirely true. I could sense that sword even when I was mortal. And I don’t think it’s just me. I’m willing to bet metal that nine dragons out there, including my dear brother, all share that same connection. The first time Relos Var dropped by the Upper Circle to have a drink at the Culling Fields, he knew exactly where Urthaenriel was hidden.”

“No,” Tyentso protested. “No, that doesn’t make any sense, because if that were true, Kaen wouldn’t have been hunting the four corners of the globe for the thing. He just would have asked his court wizard, Relos Var.”3

“Why would Relos Var volunteer that information to Kaen before he was ready? More, why would Relos Var remove the sword from a location where it was both secure and where he could retrieve it anytime he felt like it? That sword was hidden in the perfect place. But now? Now we’ve put Urthaenriel where he can’t reach it anymore. That’s going to be a problem for him. A problem he needs to fix. He will make a move against you. He has to.”

That made a certain ugly sense. And it would certainly put Relos Var in a spot, wouldn’t it? Kill Tyentso and the Crown and Scepter reverted back to their “base” positions in the Arena until the next Contest. That meant weeks, at minimum, before a new emperor was crowned, and until that happened, the Vaults were closed off to everyone but the Immortals themselves—who hated Relos Var.

Depending on what Xaltorath was up to, Relos Var might not have weeks.4

“Wait. Who has the Stone of Shackles?” Tyentso asked. That was how her father, Gadrith, had gotten around the situation before, after all. He’d just switched bodies with the current emperor, neatly giving himself a throne in the process.

Kihrin said, “Not Relos Var.”

“Thank fuck.”

“Oh, my sentiments exactly,” Kihrin said. “I figure that means he either has to bribe you, enchant you, or extort you. That last one probably by threatening someone you care about. You know how he loves moving at people through their families.”

Tyentso let out a bark of laughter. “People I consider family is a fucking short list, Scamp. And something tells me Var can’t threaten you any harder than he already is.”

Kihrin didn’t respond for a moment. He was staring out at nothing—or maybe he was looking at the spot on the mast where they’d whipped him. It was hard to tell. “You mean to tell me you wouldn’t care what happens to Qoran Milligreest?”

Tyentso’s gut clenched. She wanted to tell herself that she wouldn’t care. It had been over between the two of them for a very long time, and the relationship hadn’t exactly ended on good terms. Even so. “Shit.”

“Told you.” At least he didn’t sound smug about it. Mostly resigned.

It still made her defensive. “We didn’t become lovers again, you know. I’d have sooner chewed out my own tongue. He broke my fucking heart, Scamp. I have no desire to let him stomp on it a second time.”

“That doesn’t change my question. You would care, right?” He glanced over at her.

“I’d be really sad at Qoran’s funeral, Scamp,” Tyentso snapped. “But I wouldn’t give Relos Var a fucking thing.”

Kihrin smiled, although if he was impressed or just hearing what he’d expected was more difficult to gauge. “Fortunately, it won’t come to that.”

“How do you figure? If you’re right, it’s either this or try to sway me with an enchantment, and knowing that bastard, it’ll probably be both.”

“Because it’s part of the plan. He’s going to come at you for Urthaenriel. And I want you to let him succeed.”

1 Few people have even heard the name Vol Karoth, and fewer still understand that it’s a title, not a name, meaning simply “King of Demons.”—T Somewhat ironic, since he’s not a demon.—S

2 Nothing. Jarith was targeted because of his relationship with Janel. It had nothing to do with any lineal inheritance.—T

3 Just a reminder that Relos Var served as court wizard for Duke Azhen Kaen for a number of years, and Duke Kaen did indeed want to locate Urthaenriel, for a number of reasons.—T See: The Ruin of Kings and The Name of All Things for more information.—S

4 As it turns out, he didn’t even have days.—S

Copyright © Jenn Lyons 2022

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The Everyman’s Guide to Surviving a Dragon by Jenn Lyons

Image Placeholder of - 24How does one go about surviving a dragon encounter? Jenn Lyons, author of the Chorus of Dragons series, has a simple answer: Just don’t. BUT if your dragon-y meet and greet is unavoidable, she has the following advice to give. Check out today’s Dragon Week: Tokyo Drift piece below!


By Jenn Lyons

First, I think it’s important to point out that most sure and certain way to come away from a meeting with a dragon alive, with health and sanity intact, is to never meet one. Don’t go searching for your death in the Manol, as they say in Quur.

However, that choice isn’t always ours to make, given that dragons can and do fly about on their own. So, in those cases, what can be done? Of the eight known dragons (and the ninth that no one talks about), each one is unique in every regard except perhaps basic shape, so it would be ill-conceived of me to hand out blanket advice and expect that to be universally applicable. So let’s discuss each dragon in turn.

Aeyan’arric

Aeyan’arric, the Lady of Storms, is one of the smaller of the dragons, but that makes her no less dangerous than the others. In appearance she’s a white color with blue, violet, and silver accents. She’s capable of creating storms over a wide area, preferring snowstorms and blizzards to rain. She’s not particularly verbal or prone to communication, but she is excessively territorial, meaning it’s unlikely that attempts to bargain or haggle with Aeyan’arric could succeed. The good news is that she’s one of the least inclined of all the dragons to pay attention to humans as long as they stay away from her. Her preferred prey animals are much larger than humans, so she simply isn’t interested.

Recommendation: Take shelter immediately. The threat from Aeyan’arric isn’t a direct one – she rarely attacks people. The real threat is the storms that roll up in her wake, which are devastating.

Baelosh

Probably one of the most famous dragons because of his famous feud with Emperor Simillion, Baelosh is also one of the most loquacious of the dragons. This may trick people into thinking he’s reasonable, but don’t be fooled. He’s as evil as any of them. He just likes to chat more (a trait he shares with his brother Sharanakal). He is strongly connected to plants and flora of all kinds, and areas around him tend to quickly become overrun with toxic, lush, and amazingly hostile plant life. He breathes out a combination of spores and acid that not only kill but promptly turn the victim into garden fertilizer.

Recommendation: Baelosh is one of the only dragons that can be bribed, having a marked fondness for faceted gems like diamonds and emeralds. He especially likes tsali stones of all kinds. Emperor Simillion showed that it is possible (albeit it incredibly dangerous) to engage Baelosh in a riddle battle, and Baelosh may well share his brother Sharanakal’s fondness for music.

Drehemia

The problem with Drehemia, dragon of secrets and shadows, is that it’s exceedingly difficult to find her, meaning that any encounter with the dragon is likely to happen on her terms. She can create huge swaths of darkness, turn invisible, and has the ability to make people regress to mindless savagery, attacking anything nearby, including each other.

Recommendation: Drehemia seems to have a collection of ‘game pieces’ similar to Sharanakal’s stone garden, and it seems probably that these weren’t willing volunteers. So don’t try to bargain with her. Just leave as quickly as possible. If you must face her, then know that she doesn’t seem to enjoy light, but whether that’s an offensive advantage or just a bullseye is anyone’s guess.

Gorokai

Gorokai may well exceed Baelosh for gregarious tendencies, but it’s difficult to know for sure. For centuries the fishermen living around the edges of Rainbow Lake used to tell a story about a magic talking carp who would either grant wishes or twist the meaning of said wishes in the most destructive and awful ways imaginable. It wasn’t until Gorokai revealed himself that we realized these carp myths had a basis in fact. Gorokai is a shape-shifter, one capable of incredible shifts in size, shape, and ability. He seems to be perfectly capable of copying the other dragons. In his own ever-changing shape, he has a breath weapon that wreaks absolute havoc on all surrounding matter, including people, ranging from turning them into potted flowers to turning them inside out.

Recommendation: The main problem with Gorokai is that he’s an unpredictable, chaotic mess. He apparently has helped people, but whether or not he will be helpful or not in any random encounter seems to hinge on a coin toss.

Morios

Morios is a metallic dragon so covered in sharp long spikes that it looks like he’s made up of swords. He can breathe a storm of metal blades as well, which is a bit of a problem for most wizards since there’s enough variation in form that it’s extremely difficult to block what he’s tossing at them. He is the largest of the dragons, the one who tends to sleep for the longest stretches, and also the one who causes the most devastation when he wakes. He seems to have an enormous enjoyment of fighting, which is a problem when the only forces capable of taking him on are gods and armies. Also, and this cannot be stated strongly enough – he seems to gain power from acts of intentional violence against him.

Recommendation: The only time anyone has successfully defeated him was by not attacking him directly, but rather letting him be collateral damage to an attack aimed at someone else. So in theory, it might be possible to defeat Morios through explosive spells targeted against others, or by passive abilities that are not, in of themselves, meant as direct attacks. Generally, I recommend avoiding Morios if at all possible.

Rol’amar

Rol’amar is a dead dragon somehow still made animate through the curse that empowers him. Unfortunately for Rol’amar (and everyone else), it’s left him in unspeakable agony, to be the point where communication with him seems no more possible than communicating with a wild, mad dog. This means his rampages truly are that. Also, he seems to animate any dead around him for quite some distance, so typically people facing Rol’amar will be fighting both him and an entire animated army of dead.

Recommendation: Leave, preferably through a gate or teleport or some other similar method, since unlike some of the other dragons on this list, Rol’amar does like to chase. Rol’amar doesn’t seem to like healing magics, but it’s unlikely this would be enough to permanently defeat him.

Sheranakal

If a volcano could be reborn as a dragon, his name would be Sharanakal, or as some of the locals around the Zherias region liked to call him, ‘the Old Man.’ Like all the other dragons, he naps for long periods at a time, but when he wakes is extremely active.

Recommendation: Sharanakal is extremely fond of music. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal solution, because he’s also fond of kidnapping musicians and keeping them as his own private entertainment. He does this by magically trapping them inside stone pillars which he refers to as his ‘garden’ – I assume that this is some kind of dig at his brother Baelosh – and freeing them only for long enough to sing a few songs before imprisoning them once more. Avoid him if at all possible.

Xaloma

It’s extremely unlikely that anyone will run into Xaloma, since she almost exclusively makes her home in the Afterlife. The ghost dragon is fond of water and can usually be found resting in the Afterlife’s lakes and oceans. Because it is so rare to run into her, very little about her abilities are known. She is Sharanakal’s sister (but not Baelosh’s – Baelosh and Sharanakal share the same father, while Sharanakal and Xaloma share the same mother) and doesn’t seem to be particularly talkative.

Recommendation: Xaloma seems to be fine as long as one doesn’t infringe on her territory – and then she is not fine. So basically, do not disturb.

And last but certainly not least:

Relos Var

Relos Var is certainly an interesting case, since he rarely appears as a dragon, preferring to instead maintain a human form whenever possible. He most closely resembles his niece, Aeyan’arric, being primarily white in coloration as a dragon, although with an opal, rainbow sheen where Aeyan’arric is silver and blue accented. He breathes an extremely hot blue fire that is capable of metal metal in seconds and which poisons whatever it touches for years afterward.

And yet, he’s more dangerous as a human wizard.

Recommendation: Avoiding him can be taken as given, but that’s usually not so easily done if he has his eyes on you. Mainly, one should always be aware that Relos Var rarely comes out on the losing end of any deals he makes, so if you think you’ve gotten the better of him, assume that just means there’s an angle that you don’t yet understand.

Jenn Lyons lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, three cats and a nearly infinite number of opinions on anything from Sumerian mythology to the correct way to make a martini. Lyons traces her geek roots back to playing first edition Dungeons & Dragons in grade school and reading her way from A to Z in the school’s library. Formerly an art director and video game producer, she now spends her days writing fantasy. In 2020, she was nominated for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Her five-book Chorus of Dragons fantasy series begins with The Ruin of Kings. The final book in the series, The Discord of Gods, hits shelves everywhere 04/26/2022.

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