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Top 12 Books to Use as Bludgeoning Weapons in a Pinch

We’ve all been there: sometimes you’re peacefully reading your newest novel, only to see a cockroach scuttle by in front of your cozy armchair. Or you’ve got something that needs some light percussive recalibration to fix. Or your cousin has insulted your reading taste at Thanksgiving dinner, and all you have is the book you brought to the gathering to avoid talking to anyone. We’ve all had to use our books as bludgeoning weapons before, so here’s a list of SF/F doorstoppers that you can pitch in a pinch, now updated to include The First Binding by R. R. Virdi—on sale in paperback now!

By Yvonne Ye


The First Binding by R. R. Virdi#1: The First Binding by R. R. Virdi

Volume one of R. R. Virdi’s new Tales of Tremaine series, The First Binding, is a fresh face on the “books large enough to qualify as a two-hand weapon” scene. With 832 pages of epic fantasy contained within, The First Binding is professionally rated to block everything from sword-strikes to gamma lasers, and is guaranteed to OHKO any mortal-class adversary. Use this book to win your next grudge match, and then dive into this exciting and expansive new series with all the time you’ve saved by making it your go-to armament for close combat. Find the paperback in stores now!

Placeholder of  -82#2: Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson

Weighing in at a hefty 1232 pages, this latest installment in the Stormlight Archive will be sure to beat up your feelings while bludgeoning your enemies. Follow the Knights Radiant to war as tactical subterfuge, political maneuvering, and scientific innovation collide to change the very shape of Roshar’s future. For conducting guerilla warfare and internal sabotage in an occupied tower, the hardcover will be sure to deal maximum damage. For a stealth invasion of said tower, we suggest utilizing the paperback for its dexterity and flexibility. Find the paperback in stores now!

Poster Placeholder of - 28#3: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Book three of the Stormlight Archive actually outweighs book 4, coming in at an impressive 1248 pages. Add some psychic damage to your bludgeoning attack by shouting “YOU CANNOT HAVE MY PAIN” at your foes in time-honored Kholin tradition while hurling this brick.

Image Place holder  of - 1#4: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

Fervent collectors of Stormlight hardcover editions noticed that Words of Radiance, despite only having 1088 pages, is actually quite a bit chunkier than Oathbringer. This is because the paper weight dropped from a 45# stock to a 35# stock between printings (we could go on about book production and paper weight, but we’ll spare you for now). At any rate, this book lives up to its working title, The Book of Endless Pages, and comes pre-equipped with the best one-liner in the series (so far): “Honor is dead, but I’ll see what I can do.”

Image Placeholder of - 57#5: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini 

You thought we were going to go all the way with Stormlight titles, didn’t you? We thought about it, but decided to branch out to Christopher Paolini’s debut adult novel, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. This galaxy-spanning odyssey of first contact and apocalypse earns its hefty page-count with its complexity and scope, and yes, if you were wondering, it outweighs each of the Eragon books at 880 pages. Bonus: you can also get it in paperback to realize your dual-wielding potential!

exordia by seth dickinson#6: Exordia by Seth Dickinson

Clocking in at a chonkin’ 544 pages, Exordia by Seth Dickinson is a double-edged threat as a bludgeoning weapon. Not only will it physically clobber you with it’s rounds-up-to-quadruple-digits page count, but this book will also emotionally destroy you. This book will wreck you body and soul, and for that reason demands to be read.

Place holder  of - 65#7: Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan

The longest book in the Wheel of Time series, we think this book could also be a strong contender for any therapeutic smashin’ you might need (goodness knows Rand could use some therapeutic smashin’ throughout this book). But if you’re new to the Wheel of Time series, we recommend starting with the first book, The Eye of the World. We know that media tie-in covers can be somewhat divisive, but with the new edition of The Eye of the World coming in at 784 pages, it is an undisputed tome and thus highly suitable for a spot of bludgeoning when necessary.

the ruin of kings by jenn lyons#8: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Come see the book that Lev Grossman called “rich, cruel, gorgeous, brilliant, enthralling and deeply, deeply satisfying” — much like how you will both look and feel if you come to a book fight prepared with Jenn Lyons. With all five of the Chorus of Dragons series on hand, you’ll be well-stocked for either hurling or bludgeoning, or just curling up in a corner and reading all 2,784 pages (cumulative!) while the melee rages about you.

#9: Death’s End by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu

Clocking in at only 608 pages, this series-ender makes up for its lower page count with its absolutely badass title. We recommend this book for the aura of awe it will generate in your foes, along with its special Area-of-Effect abilities of inducing existential dread in your opponents and cautious hope in your allies.

#10: Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

At a respectable 512 pages, Harrow is well-suited to fighters of smaller statures, delicate wrists, and a deeply murderous streak. Seriously, look me in the eyes and tell me that you wouldn’t bring a necromancer to a fight.

#11: Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

“But wait,” you say. “This is a novella, with only a measly 128 pages!” you scoff. “How can this be a good bludgeoning weapon?” you laugh.

Just as there is a time and a place for every door-stopping saga, one must never underestimate the lethal capabilities of a well-crafted novella, and Cassandra Khaw’s latest is an exquisite weapon for the task. Lyrical, unflinching, dreadful, and vicious, Nothing But Blackened Teeth is a haunted-house novella perfectly-matched for those who are both courageous and deadly. A few well-placed bonks with this novella at high speed might just win your fight, and that book jacket alone may be enough to terrify most opponents into submission.

#12: Dawnshard by Brandon Sanderson

We’re not done with Sanderson yet! With Dawnshard’s upcoming release for the first time in hardcover, it felt right to finish this list where we began — with the Stormlight Archive. At a petite 4.25” x 6.7” (and a healthy… 304 pages), Dawnshard may be small but it packs a punch. Its size makes it the perfect handbag bludgeoning weapon, featuring finely-tapered print-over-board corners and some truly earth-shattering Cosmere reveals. And come on — wouldn’t you want the Lopen by your side in a fight?

Disclaimer: Tor does not actually encourage you to use your books as bludgeoning weapons. Please consider deploying your house slipper instead, as we cannot issue replacements should your copy become tragically stained by cockroach innards.

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Hot Fresh eBook Deals of July 2023

Hey! We’ve got eBook deals! Hot and fresh text for your favorite screen, and they’re ready now, so check them out!


The Ruin of Kingsthe ruin of kings by jenn lyons by Jenn Lyons — $3.99

Kihrin grew up in the slums of Quur, a thief and a minstrel’s son raised on tales of long-lost princes and magnificent quests. When he is claimed against his will as the missing son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds himself at the mercy of his new family’s ruthless power plays and political ambitions. Practically a prisoner, Kihrin discovers that being a long-lost prince is nothing like what the storybooks promised. The storybooks have lied about a lot of other things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, and how the hero always wins. Then again, maybe he isn’t the hero after all. For Kihrin is not destined to save the world. He’s destined to destroy it.

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The Library of the Deadthe library of the dead by tl huchu by T.L. Huchu — $3.99

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker – and they sure do love to talk. Now she speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to those they left behind. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and strength. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will rock her world. Ropa will dice with death as she calls on Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. And although underground Edinburgh hides a wealth of dark secrets, she also discovers an occult library, a magical mentor and some unexpected allies. Yet as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

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You Sexy Thingyou sexy thing by cat rambo by Cat Rambo — $3.99

TwiceFar station is at the edge of the known universe, and that’s just how Niko Larson, former Admiral in the Grand Military of the Hive Mind, likes it. Retired and finally free of the continual war of conquest, Niko and the remnants of her former unit are content to spend the rest of their days working at the restaurant they built together, The Last Chance. But, some wars can’t ever be escaped, and unlike the Hive Mind, some enemies aren’t content to let old soldiers go. Niko and her crew are forced onto a sentient ship convinced that it is being stolen and must survive the machinations of a sadistic pirate king if they even hope to keep the dream of The Last Chance alive.

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Luna: New Moonluna: new moon by ian mcdonald by Ian McDonald — $3.99

The Moon wants to kill you. Maybe it will kill you when the per diem for your allotted food, water, and air runs out, just before you hit paydirt. Maybe it will kill you when you are trapped between the reigning corporations-the Five Dragons-in a foolish gamble against a futuristic feudal society. On the Moon, you must fight for every inch you want to gain. And that is just what Adriana Corta did. As the leader of the Moon’s newest “dragon,” Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, in the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation-Corta Helio-confronted by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.

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Isolateisolate by l.e. modesitt, jr. by L. E. Modesitt, Jr. — $3.99

Industrialization. Social unrest. Underground movements. Government corruption and surveillance. Something is about to give. Steffan Dekkard is an isolate, one of the small percentage of people who are immune to the projections of empaths. As an isolate, he has been trained as a security specialist and he and his security partner Avraal Ysella, a highly trained empath are employed by Axel Obreduur, a senior Craft Minister and the de facto political strategist of his party. When a respected Landor Councilor dies of “heart failure” at a social event, because of his political friendship with Obreduur, Dekkard and Ysella find that not only is their employer a target, but so are they, in a covert and deadly struggle for control of the government and economy. Steffan is about to understand that everything he believed is an illusion.

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Psion psion by joan d. vingeby Joan D. Vinge — $3.99

When first published, readers young and old eagerly devoured the tale of a street-hardened survivor named Cat, a half-human, half-alien orphan telepath. Named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Cat’s story has been continued by Hugo-award winning and international best-selling author Joan D. Vinge with the very popular Catspaw and Dreamfall. Now, 25 years later, this special anniversary edition of Psion contains a new introduction by the author and “Psiren,” a story never before included in any trade edition of Psion. This tough, gritty tale of an outsider whose only chance for redemption is as an undercover agent for an interstellar government that by turns punishes and helps him, is as fresh and powerful today as it was in 1982.

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Spinspin by robert charles wilson by Robert Charles Wilson — $3.99

One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives. The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk–a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside–more than a hundred million years per day on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future….

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legacies by l. e. modesitt, jr. Legacies by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.  — $3.99

Millennia ago, a magical disaster caused the fall of a civilization, the end of a golden age. New civilizations emerged from the ancient destruction and chaos, knowing little of the past or the disaster. Corus today is a world of contending countries, humans, and supernatural creatures. It is a place of magical powers, and of a few people who are talented enough to use them. Alusius is drafted into the local Militia and must fight against the invading slave armies of The Matrial, an immortal ruler in a nearby land. If the evil surrounding The Matrial is not brought to an end, the world as he knows it could very well end.

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EPICLY FANTASTIC MEGA EBOOK SALE DAY: 10/16/22

Big News: We’re all eBook sale, all day, but only for today (Sunday, 10/16/22)! Get every title on this epic list for $2.99 for the next 24 hours!


Daughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonaldDaughter of Redwinter by Ed McDonald

Raine can see—and speak—to the dead, a gift that comes with a death sentence. All her life she has hidden, lied, and run to save her skin, and she’s made some spectacularly bad choices along the way.

But it is a rare act of kindness—rescuing an injured woman in the snow—that becomes the most dangerous decision Raine has ever made.

Because the woman is fleeing from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king, and who will stop at nothing to reclaim what she’s stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation force Raine to enter the citadel and live among the Draoihn. She soon finds that her secret ability could be the key to saving an entire nation.

Though she might have to die to make it happen . . .

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Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline CareyKushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

A nation born of angels, vast and intricate and surrounded by danger… a woman born to servitude, unknowingly given access to the secrets of the realm…

Born with a scarlet mote in her left eye, Phédre nó Delaunay is sold into indentured servitude as a child. When her bond is purchased by an enigmatic nobleman, she is trained in history, theology, politics, foreign languages, the arts of pleasure. And above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Exquisite courtesan, talented spy…and unlikely heroine. But when Phédre stumbles upon a plot that threatens her homeland, Terre d’Ange, she has no choice.

Betrayed into captivity in the barbarous northland of Skaldia and accompanied only by a disdainful young warrior-priest, Phédre makes a harrowing escape and an even more harrowing journey to return to her people and deliver a warning of the impending invasion. And that proves only the first step in a quest that will take her to the edge of despair and beyond.

Phédre nó Delaunay is the woman who holds the keys to her realm’s deadly secrets, and whose courage will decide the very future of her world.

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The First Binding by R. R. VirdiThe First Binding by R. R. Virdi

All legends are born of truths. And just as much lies. These are mine. Judge me for what you will. But you will hear my story first.

I buried the village of Ampur under a mountain of ice and snow. Then I killed their god. I’ve stolen old magics and been cursed for it. I started a war with those that walked before mankind and lost the princess I loved, and wanted to save. I’ve called lightning and bound fire. I am legend. And I am a monster.

My name is Ari.

And this is the story of how I let loose the first evil.

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Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen CookChronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

Darkness wars with darkness as the hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must. They bury their doubts with their dead.

Then comes the prophecy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more…

This omnibus edition comprises The Black Company, Shadows Linger, and The White Rose—the first three novels in Glen Cook’s bestselling fantasy series.

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Fate of the Fallen by Kel KadeFate of the Fallen by Kel Kade

Not all stories have happy endings.

Everyone loves Mathias. Naturally, when he discovers it’s his destiny to save the world, he dives in head first, pulling his best friend Aaslo along for the ride.

However, saving the world isn’t as easy, or exciting, as it sounds in the stories. The going gets rough and folks start to believe their best chance for survival is to surrender to the forces of evil, which isn’t how the prophecy goes. At all. As the list of allies grows thin, and the friends find themselves staring death in the face they must decide how to become the heroes they were destined to be or, failing that, how to survive.

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Gardens of the Moon by Steven EriksonGardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

The Malazan Empire simmers with discontent, bled dry by interminable warfare, bitter infighting and bloody confrontations with the formidable Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, ancient and implacable sorcerers. Even the imperial legions, long inured to the bloodshed, yearn for some respite. Yet Empress Laseen’s rule remains absolute, enforced by her dread Claw assassins.

For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his squad of Bridgeburners, and for Tattersail, surviving cadre mage of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the many dead. But Darujhistan, last of the Free Cities of Genabackis, yet holds out. It is to this ancient citadel that Laseen turns her predatory gaze.

However, it would appear that the Empire is not alone in this great game. Sinister, shadowbound forces are gathering as the gods themselves prepare to play their hand…

Conceived and written on a panoramic scale, Gardens of the Moon is epic fantasy of the highest order—an enthralling adventure by an outstanding new voice.

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The Ruin of Kings by Jenn LyonsThe Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Kihrin grew up in the slums of Quur, a thief and a minstrel’s son raised on tales of long-lost princes and magnificent quests. When he is claimed against his will as the missing son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds himself at the mercy of his new family’s ruthless power plays and political ambitions.

Practically a prisoner, Kihrin discovers that being a long-lost prince is nothing like what the storybooks promised. The storybooks have lied about a lot of other things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, and how the hero always wins.

Then again, maybe he isn’t the hero after all. For Kihrin is not destined to save the world.

He’s destined to destroy it.

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Rise of the Mages by Scott DrakefordRise of the Mages by Scott Drakeford

Emrael Ire wants nothing more than to test to be a weapons master. His final exam will be a bloody insurrection, staged by corrupt nobles and priests, that enslaves his brother.

With the aid of his War Master tutor, herself an undercover mage, Emrael discovers his own latent and powerful talents.

To rescue his brother, Emrael must embrace not only his abilities as a warrior but also his place as last of the ancient Mage Kings—for the Fallen God has returned.

And he is hungry.

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The Emperor's Blades by Brian StaveleyThe Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

Kaden, the heir to the Unhewn Throne, has spent eight years sequestered in a remote mountain monastery, learning the enigmatic discipline of monks devoted to the Blank God. Their rituals hold the key to an ancient power he must master before it’s too late.

An ocean away, Valyn endures the brutal training of the Kettral, elite soldiers who fly into battle on gigantic black hawks. But before he can set out to save Kaden, Valyn must survive one horrific final test.

At the heart of the empire, Minister Adare, elevated to her station by one of the emperor’s final acts, is determined to prove herself to her people. But Adare also believes she knows who murdered her father, and she will stop at nothing—and risk everything—to see that justice is meted out.

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The Unspoken Name by A. K. LarkwoodThe Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does—she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn—gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

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The Starless Crown by James RollinsThe Starless Crown by James Rollins

A gifted student foretells an apocalypse. Her reward is a sentence of death.

Fleeing into the unknown she is drawn into a team of outcasts:

A broken soldier, who once again takes up the weapons he’s forbidden to wield and carves a trail back home.

A drunken prince, who steps out from his beloved brother’s shadow and claims a purpose of his own.

An imprisoned thief, who escapes the crushing dark and discovers a gleaming artifact – one that will ignite a power struggle across the globe.

On the run, hunted by enemies old and new, they must learn to trust each other in order to survive in a world evolved in strange, beautiful, and deadly ways, and uncover ancient secrets that hold the key to their salvation.

But with each passing moment, doom draws closer.

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The Empire of Quur and Its Eight Dominions

Poster Placeholder of - 30A bastard son and the demons who want his fractured soul. A weapon that can slay gods and the men who will kill to get it. A whole fantastic series filled with abandoned immortality, divine emperors, dragons, and sea witches—it’s A Chorus of Dragons by Jenn Lyons! Culminating in the recently released epicly climactic finale that is The Discord of Gods, there’s a whole world just waiting for you to dive in, or revisit. And on that note, why not check out this excerpt of The Discord of Gods, or this list of other fantasy novels that subvert the age-old and oft-told chosen one narrative


Author Unknown, from the library of the Academy

An Introduction to the Great Empire of Quur, featuring the Dominions of Kirpis, Kazivar, Eamithon, and Khorvesh west of the Dragonspires, and Jorat, Raenena, Marakor, and Yor east of them.

This is merely the briefest overview of the dominions that make up the Empire of Quur. Each chapter in this book will go into greater detail on the lands outlined in this introduction, from history to trade to the ruling classes.

Quuross from west of the Dragonspires typically have black hair and olive brown skin. From east of the Dragonspires, Quuros are have quite a bit more variety in their appearance, ranging from the red-skinned Marakori to snow-skinned Yorans, and of course the horse-marked Joratese, who can be any number of hues, often all at once. Quuros view the Empire as the center of the world; so much so that “going south” is a Quuros euphemism for dying. The saying is suspected to have originated with Emperor Kandor’s ill-fated attempt at southern expansion into the Manol, where he met his untimely end.

The Empire began in the city-state of Quur, which serves to this day as the empire’s capital city. The first emperor, Emperor Simillion, began the process of expansion with the peaceful addition of Eamithon, the first and oldest of the Dominions, and the most tranquil. Yor, a hard land of ice and snow, is the most recently added, and if they have their way, will likely be the first to leave as well.

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A Brief Overview of the Dominions of the Empire of Quur

Eamithon

Ruler: Lyria Monara, the Virgin Duchess of Eamithon. She has notoriously remained single in an effort to deny a husband from claiming the Eamithonian title.
Primary Trade Goods: Coconut, hemp, rubber, hardwoods (ebony, teak, and mahogany,) pottery, jewelry-smithing and lapidary work.
Climate: Eamithon is tropical and lush. Although the area grows more arid as it nears Khorvesh, the majority of the dominion benefits from the cold current from the South and the many rivers and lakes coming off the Dragonspire Mountains.
Notable Facts: Eamithon takes a dim view of slavery. Technically speaking, slavery is legal there, but slaves who are brought there have a tendency to vanish and turn up as villagers in remote areas, with other villagers willing to swear that’s where they’ve lived their whole lives. There is also enormous peer pressure on anyone coming to Eamithon to free their slaves if they wish to continue living there.

Kazivar

Ruler: Kazivar is ruled by the twin brothers Allizar Nakairi and Markaem Nakairi, who are the product of a famous (and scandalous!) marriage between the rulings families of both Kirpis and Kazivar. Although technically one twin rules Kirpis and the other rules Kazivar, even they would be hard pressed to admit which kingdom belongs to which ruler. It’s only a matter of time before the High Council forces them to divide their dominions once more.
Primary Trade Goods: Wine, hardwood, and citrus. It would also be remiss not to mention the Kazivar Mines which produce the rare metals drussian and shanathá.
Climate: Kazivar benefits from a temperate climate and wonderful weather.
Notable Facts: Kazivar is home to several knights orders whose origins are rumored to have their roots in the original Kirpis vané of the region. In addition, there is much mixed vané blood in Kazivar. Occasionally vané traits, such as Kirpis cloud curl hair in pastel hues show up in children born there, denoting their mixed heritage.

Khorvesh

Ruler: Duke Hino Sarana, who is seventy-five, and still very fond of fencing.
Primary Trade Goods: Carpets, textiles, dyes, spices, and herbs.
Climate: Hot semi-arid.
Notable Facts: Khorvesh is the southernmost of the Quuros dominions, bordering the Korthaen Blight. As such, it has often been subject to aggressive morgage attacks, and much of the area takes a military bent. It has produced famous warriors and swordsmen, such as Nikali Milligreest, who defeated Gadrith the Twisted. Even the women are expected to be skilled fighters who can defend the home in case of morgage attack. Khorveshans are also known for flouting traditional relationships and often practice polygamy.

Kirpis

Ruler: See Kazivar
Primary Trade Goods: Lumber, pottery, wine. As with Kazivar, Kirpis insists that only wine made with grapes qualifies as true wine. Kirpis is also famous for the distinctive blue color of glaze used by its potters, although Eamithonian pottery is also renowned.
Climate: Temperate Forest.
Notable Facts: Kirpis was taken from the Kirpis vané (and divided to form the dominions of Kirpis and Kazivar) during a period of imperial expansion by Emperor Atrin Kandor, who wanted the vané’s shanathá and drussian mines to power further Quuros conquest.  The majority of vané who made their home in the area were forced to flee south. While there are officially no vané living in Kirpis, rumors of a band of Kirpis vané secretly hiding in the forest using spells and trickery have persisted. Kirpis is also the home of the Academy, where the Empire trains new wizards and sorcerers recruited from all across the empire. As such, it is a land with a diverse population that brings together many cultures and ideas.

Jorat

Ruler: Duke Forun Xun, who is nineteen years old, having taken the title at age eleven when his father was killed during the Lonezh Hellmarch.
Primary Trade Goods: Horses, grains, fruits (apples, pears).
Climate: Varied, with wide reaches of grassy plains. Jorat experiences notably violent storms and tornadoes.
Notable Facts: The Joratese were enslaved to be servants of the centaurs that ruled the area under the direction of the god-king Khorsal. When Quur invaded, the humans and their fireblood horse allies eagerly sided with the Empire to overthrow the centaurs and their god. As one might expect, horses still have a place of special reverence to the Joratese and their equine bloodlines are rightfully considered the best in the world. Fireblood horses are actually sentient, and have the honor of being the only non-human race in existence to be granted the rights of Quuros citizens. Unfortunately for lovers of horses, the Joratese take a dim view of outsiders, or the magic that resulted in their original enslavement. Visitors are seldom made to feel welcome.

Marakor

Ruler: None. The last Duke of Marakor was executed for failing to prevent the Lonezh Hellmarch and has not yet been replaced.
Primary Trade Goods: livestock, grains, fruits, vegetables.
Climate: Humid subtropical.
Notable Facts: Our current Emperor, Emperor Sandus, is from Marakor. He rose from humble origins to win the Great Tournament. In addition, the last terrible Hellmarch, where demons  and the demon-animated dead overran the dominions and killed thousands, began in Marakor, in the town of Lonezh, eventually working its way north into Jorat before Emperor Sandus (long may he reign) was finally able to stop it. The swamps and back-waters of the Kulma region of Marakor have a dark reputation for demon-worship, and many Marakori find themselves unable to resist the lure of demonology, witchcraft, and unspeakable cults.

Raenena

Ruler: Governor Vandus Nomon, who has been petitioning to be made an actual noble.
Primary Trade Goods: Gems and metals.
Climate: Mountainous.
Notable Facts: Raenena is a dominion of transients, since most of the people who come to this dominion to work in the mines are usually planning to leave again as soon as they strike it rich. The native population is small and it is widely believed that Atrin Kandor killed all the native Vadrath who called the mountains home. Of course, if that isn’t the case, it would be very difficult to know given how inaccessible most of the dominion remains.

Yor

Ruler: Duke Azhen Kaen Duke Kaen is the grandson of General Azhur Kaen, the Joratese commander who assisted Emperor Gendal in slaying the god-king Cherthog and his wife, Suless, while adding Yor to the Empire.
Primary Trade Goods: Furs, whale meat, baleen.
Climate: Rocky and cold.
Notable Facts: It is often rumored that prior to Quur’s intervention, Yoran witches used to eat children. This is entirely unsubstantiated, and likely untrue. The rumor almost certainly spreads from the fact that many Yorans still tell tales about the God-Queen Suless, who was associated with witchcraft, deception, betrayal and yes—eating children. Yor is a bleak land, inhabited by monsters like snow giants (though they are likely now extinct,) giant bears, and even rumors of dragons. The people there are not yet fully integrated into the Empire—at least, not at the time of this writing.

Devors

Devors is a unique place, as it is part of the Empire, but does not belong to one of the eight Dominions. It is an island chain south of the Capital, off the coast of Khorvesh. It is only notable in that it is the home of the Devoran priests and their prophecies, which have often brought violence and chaos to the Empire as men seek to turn said prophecies to their favor. Such mumbo-jumbo is not the place of a scholarly examination of the Empire such as this, and as such, we will discuss it no further in these pages. For further information, see A Compilation of the Devoran Prophecies, by Cedric D’Lorus.

Sign up for the Tor Newsletter to receive exclusive looks at Jen Lyons’ The Ruin of Kings before it comes out! We’ll be sharing details of the world, the magic, and the history of Quur that you won’t want to miss.

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Fantasy Novels That Subvert the Chosen One Narrative

By Zakiya Jamal & a cat

Poster Placeholder of - 54We 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 - 50Lyons’ 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.

 

Image Place holder  of - 99Fate 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 - 74The 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  -97Daughter 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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The Everyman’s Guide to Surviving a Dragon by Jenn Lyons

Place holder  of - 40How 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.

Pre-order The Discord of Gods here:

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The Best Dragons in Human Skin: A List by Jenn Lyons, author of The Ruin of Kings

Image Placeholder of - 62We’re so excited to revisit one of our favorite guest posts from author Jenn Lyons, published during Dragon Week 2020. Check out Jenn as she rounds up the best Dragons in human skin—do you agree with her choices? Let us know in the comments!


The Best Dragons in Human Skins

By Jenn Lyons

I’ve always loved dragons. This isn’t a secret (nor the first time I’ve gone on about it).

Dragons are awesome.

But I can distinctly remember the first time I discovered something even better than dragons: wizards who could change INTO dragons. That has everything. Powerful do-not-mess-with-me magic? Check. Being able to fly while still fitting through the door of one’s favorite restaurants? Check. The potential for some idiot to pick a fight with you only to discover, oh no, DRAGON?

Check.

As little girl power fantasies went, this was heady stuff.

For me, that realization came in the form of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. It’s kind of amazing how much of a formative effect that movie had on me, and not perhaps in the way Disney had imagined or intended. While I suppose most kids could be assumed to be rooting for the ‘heroes,’ here I was howling with frustration because, seriously, Maleficent, how did you manage to lose to that guy? And who carries an asbestos shield, anyway?

But even though Maleficent disappointed me, my love of a good shape changing dragon has endured. So if I may, I’d like to talk about a few of my favorites. (Warning, sometimes the big reveal that a person can shape change into a dragon or just flat-out is a dragon is a major plot point of these stories, so the rest of this is filled with spoilers.)

Tween me thought the Dragonlance series was the best thing ever, and no small part of that was the inclusion of my favorite five-headed dragon queen, Tiamat, Takhisis. As the goddess of evil, Takhisis normally went around as a beautiful woman, but made no real secret of the fact that underneath all of that, she was the mother of dragons. The fact that she was unrepentantly evil didn’t change the fact that she was also completely cool.

Dragons have an interesting relationship with mankind in the Earthsea books. They are seen as mysterious and powerful, most refusing to have anything to do with humanity with the exception of the rare few dragonlords. It’s only in the last two book of the Earthsea series that it becomes clear that, at least in a few cases, the embryonic form of dragons may not be an egg, but a human.

  •   Red Dorakeen and Leila, from Roadmarks by Roger Zelazny

Another book where dragons start out looking human is Roadmarks, where dragons are also responsible for creating a highway system that moves through all the alternate realities spun off throughout history (trust, it makes sense in the book). In a Merlin-like manner, these proto-dragons age backward, starting out old and decrepit and increasingly growing younger and more self-destructive (arson is a favorite) as they approach the time of their ‘hatching.’

In Seraphina, humans and dragons exist uneasily together, and the titular character, half-dragon, half-human, isn’t supposed to even exist, because dragon/human hybrids are believed to be impossible. Still, there’s a whole lot of dragons running around looking human and it’s widely accepted that one is far more likely to run into a dragon dressed up for a soiree than sitting on a pile of gold.

  •   Borch Three Jackdaws, from The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski

While dragons are a known menace hunted down by mankind in the Witcher books, gold dragons, who can shape change into humans, are widely considered a myth. Which is probably exactly how Borch Three Jackdaws, or Villentretenmerth to his draconic friends, likes it. He spends most of his time running around in human form, but when it really matters, isn’t at all reluctant to get his dragon on.

And…as a treat:

Yikes, like Anamander Rake (or even worse, his brother Silchas) needed be able to shape change into dragons. And yet, there they are. Both are Soletaken Eleint, meaning, yes, you guessed it, being able to shape change into a dragon because they’ve tasted the blood of the mother of dragons, T’iam. (Nice to see I’m not the only author out there with a Tiamat fixation.)

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I don’t expect this particular trope to go out of style anytime soon. So the next time you’re tempted to bully some old man at the check out line, just remember they might turn out to be Bahamut (looking at you, Fizban.)

Order Your Copy of The Discord of Gods:

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$2.99 eBook Sale: April 27-May 3

$2.99 eBook Sale: April 27-May 3

Happy Tuesday, everyone! This week, we have a VERY special sale of some of our most popular Tor Book titles—who’s excited?! Check out what Tor eBooks you can grab for $2.99 this week only below:

The Way of KingsImage Place holder  of - 90 by Brandon Sanderson

Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before Destination. And return to men the Shards they once bore. The Knights Radiant must stand again.

 

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The Three-Body ProblemPoster Placeholder of - 76 by Cixin Liu

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

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The Eye of the WorldPlaceholder of  -51 by Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs—a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts— five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

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The Calculating Stars Place holder  of - 34by Mary Robinette Kowal

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too. Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.

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 Image Placeholder of - 83Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

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A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn’t an accident—or that Mahit might be next to die, during a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court. Now, Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan’s unceasing expansion—all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret—one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life—or rescue it from annihilation.

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The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

Our universe is ruled by physics. Faster than light travel is impossible—until the discovery of The Flow, an extradimensional field available at certain points in space-time, which can take us to other planets around other stars. Riding The Flow, humanity spreads to innumerable other worlds. Earth is forgotten. A new empire arises, the Interdependency, based on the doctrine that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war—and, for the empire’s rulers, a system of control.

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Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

When a gruesome murder is discovered at The Osthorne Academy of Young Mages, where her estranged twin sister teaches Theoretical Magic, reluctant detective Ivy Gamble is pulled into the world of untold power and dangerous secrets. She will have to find a murderer and reclaim her sister—without losing herself.

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The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

January is a dying planet—divided between a permanently frozen darkness on one side, and blazing endless sunshine on the other. Humanity clings to life, spread across two archaic cities built in the sliver of habitable dusk. But life inside the cities is just as dangerous as the uninhabitable wastelands outside. Sophie, a student and reluctant revolutionary, is supposed to be dead after being exiled into the night. Saved only by forming an unusual bond with the enigmatic beasts who roam the ice, Sophie vows to stay hidden from the world, hoping she can heal. But fate has other plans—and Sophie’s ensuing odyssey and the ragtag family she finds will change the entire world.

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The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Kihrin grew up in the slums of Quur, a thief and a minstrel’s son raised on tales of long-lost princes and magnificent quests. When he is claimed against his will as the missing son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds himself at the mercy of his new family’s ruthless power plays and political ambitions. Practically a prisoner, Kihrin discovers that being a long-lost prince is nothing like what the storybooks promised. The storybooks have lied about a lot of other things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, and how the hero always wins. Then again, maybe he isn’t the hero after all. For Kihrin is not destined to save the world. He’s destined to destroy it.

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The Monsters of the A Chorus of Dragons series

Image Place holder  of - 35Place holder  of - 23Jenn Lyons’s A Chorus of Dragons is an epic fantasy series about a long-lost royal whose fate is tied to the future of an empire. And if that weren’t cool enough, the setting, the Empire of Quur is full of rogue gods, demons, and monsters. The coolest monsters.

The Name of All Things character Senera Var sheds some light on some monsters that still roam the empire.

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The Monsters of Quur

By Senera Var

We once lived in an age of monsters.

The concept is hardly imaginable to the average Quuros citizen: it’s been centuries since any of these poor fools have had to deal with any threat more dangerous than bad food picked up at a local khilin. You can blame Emperors and generations of military leaders who saw killing mad God-Kings and adding their kingdoms to the empire as career opportunities. Now the only monsters Quuros citizens fear are the witches they are told bring demons to this world.

Never mind that witch-hunters and superstitious fear have killed as many Quuros citizens as any demon.

Don’t get me wrong: God-Kings were massively corrupt and massively powerful. Most of them likely deserved those messy deaths at the hands of Urthaenriel, or sometimes just the Quuros wizard’s Academy graduating class. If you think a Quuros Royal is bad, well, at least they haven’t (as far as I know) modified or created actual races to suit their perverse appetites. Ynis created the reptilian thriss from his human followers, and worse is out there.

Not everything God-Kings did was horrible beyond measure, just most of it. The whole reason Quuros horses don’t suffer from colic is because the God-King Khorsal changed the digestive systems of his favorite animal. (Which Quur promptly appropriated and bred exclusively once they took over.) Similarly, that’s why Yorans have a superior ability to withstand hypothermia and snow-blindess – because their God-King Cherthog wanted them to survive in colder climates. Mostly though? Yuck.

But despite what the average Quuros thinks, the monsters aren’t gone at all.

Mimics

Placeholder of  -81Everyone assumes these terrifying little bundles of nightmares are the creations of God-Kings.

They’re wrong.

Besides demons, they’re probably the threat that most Quuros take the most seriously. A creature who can assume the appearance of your loved ones in order to get close to you—who can shape change into, well, anything—who wouldn’t be scared? Of course, what terrifies most of the royalty and those in power is the idea that such creatures can read minds and absorb the personalities and memories of anything they’ve eaten. Yes, eaten.

And unlike most bedtime stories of that ilk, this particular variant happens to be true.

Naturally, most mimics can be found working as assassins for hire. They’d be popular as spies, but since most mimics also seem to be completely insane, trust me when I say you wouldn’t want to count on them for long term jobs.

And no, they’re not demons who have somehow figured out how to stay here in the physical world. Mimics were created by the vane. How and why are questions the vane aren’t sharing. One wonders if some experiment to create infiltrators and spies went terribly wrong. It’s possible – truthfully the number of mimics in existence is far smaller than most people realize, and mimics don’t seem to be capable of reproduction. So bespoke horrors created for unknown reasons.

Daughters of Laaka

Poster Placeholder of - 31The Daughters of Laaka (or kraken, as they are sometimes known) are absolutely the result of God-King manipulation. In this case, God-Queen manipulation, as the God-Queen of the Ocean, Laaka, created these creatures for unknown reasons. (A grudge? For spite? Who knows. Laaka’s petty at best.) The Daughters are intelligent, vicious, and are generally believed to be almost completely immune to magic.

Daughters of Laaka are naturally a bane to ships of all sorts, but they particularly seem to enjoy going after Zheriaso and Quuros slave ships.

Which honestly endears them to me more than a little. Like mimics, they seem to be one-off’s—immortal and incapable of reproduction. And thank the Veils for that, even if I do appreciate their taste in seafood.

Drakes

Image Placeholder of - 2These dog-like pack hunters were yet another example of Ynis’s overwhelming fondness for all things reptilian. Unlike most of Ynis’s creations, who died out or were hunted to extinction after the God-King’s death, drakes (and their handlers, the thriss) have endured. Some of these creatures have even gone feral, thriving in the Manol jungle and the island nation of Zherias. They operate in groups and are highly trainable; the thriss use them as guard animals and companions. You’ll never have to worry about one of these learning magic or knowing how to read a map, but they do seem to be pretty bright for animals. Anyone who encounters a wild pack of drakes is likely in trouble.

Gryphons

image-34875Mostly thought to be the occasional ornamental detail on some noble bit of heraldry, most would be extremely surprised to discover these creatures exist. Part lion, part eagle, and all ‘this really shouldn’t work,’ gryphons have been spotted living in the high altitudes of the Dragonspires. They’re the work of the God-King Nemesan, although why he created them and how he managed to make the capable of flight (again, this really shouldn’t work) is something I’d dearly love to investigate one of these days.

They might be dismissed as myth by most Quuros, but the miners who work in the mountains of the Dragonspires take them quite seriously. Fortunately, they don’t seem to be intelligent – just quite hungry.

Dragons

image-34876Ah, dragons. Why to say about these unholy terrors? Most Quuros firmly place these in the category of myth, but there’s a reason the Academy continues to place dragons on their known threat lists. Their origins are uh…unclear. I’ve heard people suggest that demons are ultimately responsible for the creation of dragons, and I suppose that’s true—from a certain point of view. Quur hasn’t seen a dragon attack since the very beginnings of the empire, when Emperor Cimillion had his famous run-ins with Baelosh. There have been persistent reports of a dragon dwelling off the coast of Zherias, but most of such stories are well over a century old. Dragons seem to sleep or go dormant for long periods of time, which gives humanity more than enough time to forget how dangerous they are before they come roaring awake again.

The important thing to know about dragons is that they are evil, enormous, and perfectly capable of destroying even the largest cities with ease. Dragons have taken on God-Kings and won. If you’re unlucky enough to be in the area of these monsters, the best thing to do (and maybe the only thing to do) is run.

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The Best Horse BFFs in Fantasy

The Best Horse BFFs in Fantasy

By Julia Bergen

There are plenty of good human best friends in fantasy, but some of our favorite friends in fantasy aren’t human beings; they’re horses.

They’re the most utilitarian of fantastical animal friends because they can carry you places, stomp on your enemies, AND provide love and companionship.

Here are a few of the best Horse BFFs in fantasy books, starting with a horse you’ll be meeting this fall in Jenn Lyon’s next A Chorus of Dragons novel:

Arasgon from The Name of All Things by Jenn Lyons

Image Place holder  of - 34Arasgon is a fireblood, which means he’s no normal horse. In the world of A Chorus of Dragons, most lands were ruled by god kings (before they were all dethroned for being the worst). The city of Jorat’s god king was obsessed with horses—perhaps to the detriment of humans (thus the dethroning)—and he bred firebloods. Firebloods look like normal horses, except they’re larger and stronger and as intelligent as a human (sometimes more!). They communicate with their own language, which sounds like normal horse whinnies to anyone who doesn’t speak it.

So Arasgon is super strong and super smart, and also incredibly loyal to his buddy, Janel Theranon. As a full citizen of Jorat (human. level. intelligence), he can pretty much do what he wants, but he stays by her side. He’s with her through thick and thin, from getting thrown out of her castle, to hunting bandits for bounty, to going up against dragons and super powerful wizards. Plus, he’s a saucy bastard and amazing in a joust.

He’s basically just the best.

Shadowfax from The Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien

Placeholder of  -3No fantasy horse list is complete without Shadowfax; the OG fantasy horse from whom all other fantasy horses derive. This horse is described as just the greatest damn horse there ever was. Smart, fast, understands humans (and wizards)⁠—basically in a class all of his own. Sometimes he saves the day just by being fast, and sometimes just because he’s getting the OP angel-wizard to where he can be most effective.

But Shadowfax isn’t just a great horse, he’s a great friend too. He won’t let anyone but Gandalf ride him, though he makes exceptions when Gandalf’s other friends need to ride tandem, because Shadowfax is just that kind of friend.

Binky from the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

Image Placeholder of - 67No good horse friendship can last forever. OR CAN IT?! When the horse is BFFs with death, time is not an issue. Sure, Binky is a normal, mortal horse (if way smarter than a normal horse) but as long as he works for death he doesn’t age. BECAUSE FRIENDSHIP LASTS FOREVER. Binky may seem an odd name for such an important horse, but you just don’t question Death on such things. Before finding Binky, Death tried more frightening, more magical horses, but none were a good fit. Because being a fantasy horse BFF isn’t about having magical equine powers, it’s about loyalty. Although, it certainly doesn’t hurt when they do have magical powers. Plus, since Binky is able to use his connection to Death to TIME-TRAVEL, it’s safe to say not having magical powers of his own doesn’t slow him down.

Bela from The Wheel of Times series by Robert Jordan

Poster Placeholder of - 8Like Binky, Bela is just a normal horse, although unlike Binky she doesn’t get supernatural abilities from her rider. Unlike most of the other horses on this list, she’s not particularly known for her speed, and she isn’t super picky about who rides her. Egwene usually rides her, but other people ride her too, and she’s fine with it. Because Bela isn’t just a great horse friend to one person; she is a great horse friend to everyone.

If you were a character in The Wheel of Time, you could ride Bela, and she would love you so much. Even though she may not be all that smart or fast, she is a super sweet horse, and when she’s compared to other horses, it’s that they aren’t as gentle as she is. So, if you were to pick a horse friend from this list, we couldn’t blame you for picking a badass horse like Arasgon or Shadowfax, but take a minute to think about Bela, because when you’re speeding away from the forces of darkness sometimes you want a friendly horse who just wants to be your pal.

 

Maybe you’re reading through this list thinking, “these horses sound great and all, but they’re too goody-goody for me.” We got you. You’re looking for a horse friend of the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia variety. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THERE’S NO FANTASY HORSE BFF FOR YOU! This Fall, Tor has the dirtbag horse BFF of your dreams!

Dolt from Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade

Place holder  of - 72As the name might suggest, you could never refer to Dolt as a noble steed. But what he lacks in magical abilities, intelligence, speed, or general companionship, he makes up for in attitude. He doesn’t take flak from anyone, not chosen ones, not sorcerers, and definitely not other horses. Bring him to a beautiful fantasy city, he’ll make a mess in the fountain. He keeps things interesting though and has a knack for being in the right place at the wrong time.

Maybe it sounds like I’m not exactly selling him right now, but not everyone wants a horse BFF that plays by the rules and never lets its supernaturally shiny coat get dirty. No, he’s not the ideal horse BFF for everyone. You might have thought I had a follow up to that, but I don’t. He’s just not for everyone.

Who’s your favorite fantasy horse BFF?

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