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Deadly Sibling Rivalries in Fantasy

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

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

Image Place holder  of - 8 Tessa Gratton’s fresh take on the story of King Lear revolves around the relationships of three sisters struggling for control of their father’s failing kingdom: Gaela, Regan, and Elia. The eldest, Gaela, pursues martial control; her sister Regan seeks to restore the ancient religious rites long forbidden by her father. Elia stands between them, resented by her older sisters. As tensions rise among this fractured family, the conflict between the three begins to take a deadly toll on the island of Lear itself.

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

Place holder  of - 38 There are plenty of contentious—and outright murderous—relationships between family members in the A Song of Ice and Fire series: Tyrion and Cersei, Catelyn and Lysa, Daenerys and Viserys. Perhaps one of the most consequential for the fate of Westeros, however, is the rivalry between Renly and Stannis Baratheon, both of whom become contenders for the throne in the wake of their brother’s death. Their rivalry leads them close to outright war between brothers.

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

Placeholder of  -4 There’s no conflict quite like that between half-brothers—especially when one is illegitimate and kept hidden from the other. That’s the setup between Zane and Elend Venture in The Well of Ascension, the second book in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series. While Elend was raised in comfort as the heir, Zane, one of few full Mistborns in the world, was raised as a weapon. Zane is definitely an unstable individual, so of course he wants to kill his half-brother. Standing in his way is Vin, the heroine of Sanderson’s series and a powerful Mistborn in her own right. Zane was robbed of a normal childhood, but readers win when Zane and Vin face off, with Elend in between.

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Image Placeholder of - 34 If there’s one thing we’ve learned from reading, it’s never to trust ambitious younger siblings. Regal in the Farseer Trilogy is no exception: he seeks to position himself as the heir to the aging king, establishing a rivalry with his older brother Verity—and he just might have plotted the pre-series murder of FitzChivalry’s father.
 
 
 
Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

Poster Placeholder of - 59 Like A Song of Ice and Fire, Steven Erikson’s epic series has plenty of siblings who really (really, really) don’t get along. From a pair of sisters who find themselves on opposite sides of a rebellion, to nearly-immortal brothers who can barely be on the same continent, being someone’s brother or sister is as likely to be a guarantee of violent conflict as it is to be a source of familial love.

And you thought your family didn’t get along.

The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

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

The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne by Brian Staveley

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

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From the Archives: The Path to Mistborn Three

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Written by Brandon Sanderson

On May 13, 2014, Tor Teen is proud to be reissuing the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy. The book will be a trade paperback, with a brand new cover. To celebrate this new edition, we went back into our newsletter archives to October of 2008, when Brandon wrote about what it felt like to finish writing the story of Vin, Elend, and the rest of their crew. Enjoy this blast from the past, and we hope you like our new edition of Mistborn!

One of the things I wanted to do with the Mistborn trilogy was make it internally cohesive. I wanted each book to have its own story and climactic moments, but it was even more important to me that each book be part of a whole. When I’m reading a series, few things bother me as much as getting a sense that the author doesn’t know where he/she is going with the books. I really like a strong sense of building tension, of interconnection between volumes, and a hint of a master vision.

This presented a problem. You see, I’m an outliner. I like to plan and plot quite a bit before I start writing a book. However, even an outliner like myself can’t nail down every little point in a story. Beyond that, the experience of writing is a supremely creative one. One has to be ready to toss out entire sections of an outline if something better, more evocative, more interesting comes along. This has happened in every novel I’ve written so far, and I understood that if I didn’t have the same flexibility when writing the Mistborn series, the books (particularly the later ones) would feel stiff. However, if I didn’t make and stick with an outline, I wouldn’t be able to foreshadow events in the third book appropriately and give the series the cohesive feel that I wanted.

At that point, I began to realize something very daunting: if this series was to become what I wanted it to be, I was going to have to write all three books straight through in a short period of time. I would have to work furiously and intently enough to get the third book done before the first book went to press. If I could manage that, I knew that I would have flexibility to write all three books with the creativity they demanded, but also be able to revise the first book so that it would be a proper introduction to the following two.

So I sat down to write. It was a grueling eighteen months, but I did manage to get a rough draft of the third book done before the copyedit (the last chance for me to make substantive chances) of the first one was due in. That was late 2004.

Four years later, it’s finally time to release Mistborn: The Hero of Ages, the third and final Mistborn book. I’ve now been working on this series for five years, tweaking the text of the second two volumes, creating the cohesive—yet individually separate—trilogy of books that I originally imagined. It turned out better than I had even hoped that it would. There are hints and clues about the climactic events of the third book foreshadowed in the first few paragraphs of the first book. And they’re not just dropped in; they’re a substantive part of the original volume. All three books form one larger ‘super-book.’

It’s hard to explain how excited I am that people can finally read this last volume. Those of you who know my books may be familiar with the fact that I love endings. I want them to be explosive, imaginative, and shocking—yet at the same time expected, without unforeshadowed twists. I focus a lot of my energy on making my endings satisfying to those who have invested so much time in reading my books.

Mistborn: The Hero of Ages is an entire book that is, in a way, an ending. It’s the climactic sequence to half a million words of build-up. I feel that it’s the best book that I’ve written to date.

If you think you know what is going on in these books, just wait for this final volume. Remember what Kelsier always says:

There’s always another secret.
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From the Tor/Forge May 5th newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.

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More from the May 5th Tor/Forge newsletter:

Mistborn Prize Pack Sweepstakes

Sign up for the Tor/Forge Newsletter for a chance to win the following prize pack:

Mistborn Prize Pack

About our newsletter: every issue of Tor’s monthly email newsletter features original writing by, and interviews with, Tor authors and editors about upcoming new titles from all Tor and Forge imprints. In addition, we occasionally send out “special edition” newsletters to highlight particularly exciting new projects, programs, or events.

If you’re already a newsletter subscriber, you can enter too. We do not automatically enter subscribers into sweepstakes. We promise we won’t send you duplicate copies of the newsletter if you sign up for the newsletter more than once.

Sign up for your chance to win today!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. You must be 18 or older and a legal resident of the 50 United States or D.C. to enter. Promotion begins August 1, 2011 at 12 a.m. ET. and ends September 6, 2011, 11:59 p.m. ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. For Official Rules and to enter, go to tor-forge.com/tor/promo/mistbornprizepack. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

More giveaways:

Sweepstakes: Brandon Sanderson Prize Pack

Sign up for the Tor/Forge Newsletter for a chance to win this collection of hardcovers by Brandon Sanderson:

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson Elantris by Brandon Sanderson Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Every issue of Tor’s monthly email newsletter features original writing by, and interviews with, Tor authors and editors about upcoming new titles from all Tor and Forge imprints. In addition, we occasionally send out “special edition” newsletters to highlight particularly exciting new projects, programs, or events.

If you’re already a newsletter subscriber, you can enter too. We do not automatically enter subscribers into giveaways. We promise we won’t send you duplicate copies of the newsletter if you sign up more than once.

Sign up for your chance to win today!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. You must be 18 or older and a legal resident of the 50 United States or D.C. to enter. Promotion begins October 25, 2010 at 12 a.m. ET. and ends November 22, 2010, 11:59 p.m. ET. Void in Puerto Rico and wherever prohibited by law. For Official Rules and to enter, go to www.tor-forge.com/tor/promo/brandonsanderson. Sponsor: Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

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