The Geomancer


Lou Anders reads from Spring Heeled Jack at the PKD Award Ceremony

Ian McDonald's Hugo-nominated The Dervish House optioned by Warp Films.

The Dervish HouseIan McDonald's BSFA-winning, Hugo nominated novel, The Dervish House, has been optioned by Warp Film. The Zeno Agency reported the film option yesterday. From their blog:
Zeno Agency is delighted to announce that film and television rights to Ian McDonald‘s award winning novel THE DERVISH HOUSE have been optioned by Warp Films. The deal was negotiated by Zeno’s John Richard Parker who says, ‘As with all Ian’s books THE DERVISH HOUSE is very much cinematic as well being  an imaginative tour de force. I have always believed it has the qualities that  make it eminently suitable for film and I am sure that with Warp’s enthusiasm for the project and their fantastic track record, all the ingredients are in place to put together something very special indeed.’
Warp Films have had notable successes recently with SUBMARINE and FOUR LIONS and Executive Producer Peter Carlton says ‘We’re delighted to have the chance to adapt THE DERVISH HOUSE for the screen, set in that most iconic of cities, crossroads of east and west, past and future, Istanbul. It starts with an explosion on a tram and ends in a race to stop a terrorist plot, but in the meantime Ian somehow weaves together speculative share trading, nanotechnology and Islamic microcalligraphy, to name but a few strands in this visual feast that has a narrative sweep and ambition all too rare in contemporary fiction.


Two More Hugos, a Gemmell, the PKD, and more.

The Dervish HouseObviously, we're pretty excited about the 2010 Hugo Awards shortlist. Ian McDonald's The Dervish House makes the list of finalists for Best Novel, and yours truly (Lou Anders) makes my fifth appearance in the category of Best Editor - Long Form.

The Alchemist in the ShadowsThis news follows right on the heels of Mark Hodder's Philip K. Dick Award win for The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack.

Meanwhile, just announced is the the publication of the short list for the David Gemmell Award. Congratulations to Pierre Pevel, whose novel The Alchemist in the Shadows, originally published by Gollancz and just out from Pyr, is nominated for the Legend Award - Best Fantasy Novel, and to Todd Lockwood, whose cover for the Pyr edition of Tom Lloyd's The Ragged Man is up for the Ravenheart Award for Best Fantasy Art Cover.

Finally, congratulations again to Ian McDonald for his BSFA win for The Dervish House for Best Novel.

Philip K. Dick Award: Mark Hodder's The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack

The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne in)This past Friday evening at Norwescon 34, Mark Hodder's The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack won the prestigious 2010 Philip K. Dick Award. The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States.  The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust and the award ceremony is sponsored by the NorthWest Science Fiction Society. 

Pyr Editorial Director Lou Anders was on hand to read a selection from the novel, and to accept on Mark's behalf. Here is my (Lou's)very brief/off the cuff acceptance speech, which begins 5 minutes, 51 seconds in. (Before that, a moving acceptance speech for the Special Citation winner, HARMONY by Project Itoh, written by the late author's father).

Mark Hodder , awake at 5am in Spain, was able to listen to a live feed of the ceremony. His reaction:

"OMG OMG OMG! Are you kidding me!!!!

Cannot believe it!

Seriously, I'm dumbstruck … And over the moon!!!"
Here is the full ceremony.  I (Lou Anders) read the excerpt at 27 minutes, 20 seconds in and accept at 50 minutes, 20 seconds in.


Shadow's Lure Trail

Hello Good People (and the Bad, too),

To celebrate the upcoming release of Shadow's Lure, I have this book trailer, designed by the multi-talented Susan Griffith, co-author of The Greyfriar (also from Pyr Books).


For Your Viewing Pleasure: Shadow's Lure

Shadow's Lure © Jon Sprunk
Cover Illustration © Michael Komarck
Design by Nicole Sommer-Lecht
 Coming in June

The unforgiving Northlands . . .

In Othir, he was at the top of the food chain—an assassin beyond compare, a dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne. And now his past has come calling again.

Searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents, Caim discovers a land in thrall to the Shadow. Haunted by temptations from the Other Side, he becomes mired in a war he does not want to fight.

But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some fights from which he can’t run. In this battle, all of Caim’s strength and skill won’t be enough. For none can resist the Shadow’s Lure.


April Author Round Table

It's time for another author round table! Joining us this time are Adrian Tchaikovsky (The Scarab Path), Pierre Pevel (The Alchemist in the Shadows), and Joel Shepherd (Haven), all of whom are two or more books into a series.

Pierre Pevel
Adrian Tchaikovsky

Joel Shepherd

-How much do you pre-plan before you write a book? How much does that change, if at all, when you're writing a series? How much of an idea do you have of where the series is ultimately going to go before you start?

Adrian Tchaikovsky: I write up a complete book plan, chapter by chapter - otherwise I find I lose focus or miss important bits out - this doesn't mean I actually stick to the plan necessarily - it tends to go off the rails from about halfway, and I rewrite it as the plot develops, but the basic structure tends to prevail.  As I get further into my series, more edits and alterations tend to become necessary, too - as well as balancing the elements within the book, I need to balance the elements within the broader plot arc.

Pierre Pevel: I do an enormous amount of work before actually beginning to write a novel. I take notes, I make information sheets, and above all, I imagine the plot from A to Z. I have trouble writing if I don’t know the story I’m trying to tell. In fact, that’s all I should be doing when I’m writing: just telling the story. Otherwise, I feel uncomfortable. 

This preparatory work is even more important before writing the first volume in a series. Because that’s when I’m inventing everything, conceiving the universe for my books, and making decisions which may only become truly important in two or three years’ time, when I’m writing the third volume in the series. So I roughly know which direction the series will go, and how it will end. For the Cardinal’s Blades series, I already knew right from the beginning the closing stages of Book 3.

Joel Shepherd: I pre-plan enough to know the broad structural outline -- what happens and when, and where the main conflicts are. But the smaller detail I leave to resolve itself, because a lot of that stuff will change as you write the book. I like to have in my head some big, dramatic moments, crescendos you might call them, which occur at various points in the plot. Then it's a matter of writing out the rest of the plot to try and hit those marks. But I'm usually pretty sure of the big picture -- where it's going, how's it all going to end -- before I start writing.

-What was the initial idea that sparked your series?

AT: INSECTS! Seriously, I wanted to write an epic fantasy that was also some way off the stock Tolkienade. I could go on forever about insects as metaphors for human nature - Kafka, Capek, Pelevin etc., but basically I like insects, and a world where the people have insect aspects is entirely logical and natural to me. The other main point was the technology - when I had the idea for the Apt/Inapt split, that essentially kickstarted and supercharged (to use Apt terminology) the entire plot - from the first scene in Myna with the Wasps attacking with mechanized ramming engines and aircraft, all the way to my projected final book.

PP: At the time, I wanted to write a cloak-and-dagger novel, which would be a tribute to Alexandre Dumas and which would portray Paris in the 17th century. But I didn’t know how to approach this. I kept looking for an angle and I couldn’t find one. One day, I got fed up with pacing back and forth in my office and I did something I never do: I sat down in front of my computer and I started writing without knowing where it would take me. I thus came up with the initial draft of what would become the first paragraph of The Cardinal’s Blades: an evening scene with Cardinal Richelieu writing at his desk… and a small dragon curled in a ball close by. That’s how I came up with the image of a dragonnet! Quite naturally! And then I immediately understood that I was on to something: musketeers and dragons. It was so obvious! Why hadn’t I thought of it sooner? After that, I went back to my usual methods and did a huge amount of preparatory work. A lot of time passed between that first paragraph and the moment when I resumed writing the rest of the book.

JS: A Trial of Blood and Steel was sparked by a number of different things. Firstly I don't read enough fantasy that has gritty, realist plots that are driven more by characters and their decisions than by magic or prophecies. The big exception right now is probably George RR Martin's Game of Thrones, which Trial of Blood and Steel has been compared to by a lot of reviewers -- though I should point out I wrote Sasha well before I read Martin's work. I think fantasy's a wonderful genre for intense character conflicts because the plots have so much that pivots upon the decisions the characters make.

But I think the initial idea that sparked the series was the main character, Sasha. She's a female warrior in a male world, and obviously in a lot of chauvinist societies, that wouldn't be allowed to happen. So the first problem became, how to let it happen, without watering down her society with any modern political correctness... which I think I achieved, because Lenayin is one of the least PC places I can imagine. Ultimately it's a society that respects individual strengths more than conformity, which is what allows Sasha to be what she is. And that process of creating Lenayin lead to its relationships with the other lands surrounding it, and eventually spread into the entire world.

-What does your typical writing day look like?

AT: I'm probably letting the side down by saying this, but the typical writing day is going to work in an office for my regular nine to five job, coming home, family time, putting my three year old to bed, then sorting out emails, admin, whatever edits are currently on the go, and at about 10pm I get down and write something - the one major point being that I write 1-2 pages every day while I have a book in the works, no matter what else I have on. But life is very busy right now, with all that going on.

PP: I’m almost ashamed to tell you this. I get up very late, around noon. I make myself some tea and then I immediately sit down to work, until 8 pm in the evening. After that, I try to have a social life. Then I return to work, but for less important tasks than during the day: re-reading, correcting the text, etc. I go to sleep around 4 am, after reading a few pages of a good book, or watching a film or some episodes from a TV series on DVD.

JS: I'm working on a PhD at the moment, so I don't have a typical writing day. I fit in my fiction writing where ever I can, morning, night, whenever.

-Outside of research, what kind of books do you like to read?

AT: I am a dedicated fanboy. My fiction reading is almost entirely fantasy and science fiction. Favourite authors include Gene Wolfe, Peter S Beagle, China Mieville, Mary Gentle. I get through about a book a week, on average - reading on the train to and from work, and before going to bed.

PP: Above all, crime novels. I like Elmore Leonard, James Elroy, James Lee Burke, and in particular, Donald Westlake (who in addition to being an extraordinary novelist writes the best closing chapters in the business). I also read historical novels when they take place in the period that interests me, the 17th century. I don’t read much fantasy, Terry Pratchett being an exception.

JS: Given my university work at the moment, I've been falling way behind on my fiction reading.

Thank you to the authors for joining us, and special thanks to Tom Clegg, Pierre Pevel's translator.


Thirteen Years Later makes Booklist Best SFF for 2010

Thirteen Years LaterGreat news! We just got the word that Jasper Kent's Thirteen Years Later made the Booklist Editor’s Top 10 Best SFF Books for 2010 (which will appear in Booklist's May 15, 2011 issue).

Aleksandr made a silent promise to the Lord. God would deliver him--would deliver Russia--and he would make Russia into the country that the Almighty wanted it to be. He would be delivered from the destruction that wasteth at noonday, and from the pestilence that walketh in darkness--the terror by night...

1825, Europe--and Russia--have been at peace for ten years. Bonaparte is long dead and the threat of invasion is no more. For Colonel Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov, life is peaceful. Not only have the French been defeated but so have the twelve monstrous creatures he once fought alongside, and then against, ten or more years ago. His duty is still to serve and to protect his tsar, Aleksandr the First, but now the enemy is human.

However the Tsar knows that he can never be at peace. Of course, he is aware of the uprising fermenting within the Russian army--among his supposedly loyal officers. No, what troubles him is something that threatens to bring damnation down upon him, his family and his country. The Tsar has been reminded of a promise: a promise born of blood...a promise that was broken a hundred years before.

Now the one who was betrayed by the Romanovs has returned to exact revenge for what has been denied him. And for Aleksei, knowing this chills his very soul. For it seems the vile pestilence that once threatened all he believed in and all he held dear has returned, thirteen years later...


Sometimes You Really Want to Take a Sword to Someone...

I know I do!

But maybe it's better to read about it than actually do it. In which case, be relieved to know that Sword & Sorcery is alive and well at Pyr. Here are some of our current and forthcoming works of S&S, for when you know they need it.

Art by Benjamin Carre
The Horns of Ruin by Tim Akers

Eva Forge is the last paladin of the dead God, Morgan.

Eva, forsaken by her parents and forgotten by her family, was the last child dedicated to the Cult of Morgan.  Morgan, God of battle and champion of the Fraterdom, was assassinated by his jealous brother, Amon.  Over time, the Cult of Morgan has been surpassed by other Gods, his blessings ignored in favor of brighter technologies and more mechanical miracles.  Now, Eva watches as her new family, her Cult, crumbles around her.

When a series of kidnappings and murders makes it clear that someone is trying to hasten the death of the Cult of Morgan, Eva must seek out unexpected allies and unwelcome answers in the city of Ash. But will she be able to save the city from a growing conspiracy, one that reaches back to her childhood, even back to the murder of her God?

As Eva wields her sword and wits in a city full of wonders, her story becomes the first perfect merger of steampunk and sword and sorcery.

Art by Chris McGrath
The Silver Skull (Swords of Albion) by Mark Chadbourn

Meet Will Swyfte—adventurer, swordsman, rake, swashbuckler, wit, scholar and the greatest of Walsingham's new band of spies. His exploits against the forces of Philip of Spain have made him a national hero, lauded from Carlisle to Kent. Yet his associates can barely disguise their incredulity—what is the point of a spy whose face and name is known across Europe?

But Swyfte's public image is a carefully-crafted facade to give the people of England something to believe in, and to allow them to sleep peacefully at night. It deflects attention from his real work—and the true reason why Walsingham's spy network was established.

A Cold War seethes, and England remains under a state of threat. The forces of Faerie have been preying on humanity for millennia. Responsible for our myths and legends, of gods and fairies, dragons, griffins, devils, imps and every other supernatural menace that has haunted our dreams, this power in the darkness has seen humans as playthings to be tormented, hunted or eradicated.

But now England is fighting back!

Magical defences have been put in place by the Queen's sorcerer Dr John Dee, who is also a senior member of Walsingham's secret service and provides many of the bizarre gadgets utilised by the spies. Finally there is a balance of power. But the Cold War is threatening to turn hot at any moment...

Will now plays a constant game of deceit and death, holding back the Enemy's repeated incursions, dealing in a shadowy world of plots and counter-plots, deceptions, secrets, murder, where no one... and no thing... is quite what it seems.

The Scar-Crow Men by Mark Chadbourn

Art by Chris McGrath
The year is 1593. The London of Elizabeth I is in the terrible grip of the Black Death. As thousands die from the plague and the queen hides behind the walls of her palace, English spies are being murdered across the city. The killer's next target: Will Swyfte.
For Swyfte—adventurer, rake, scholar, and spy—this is the darkest time he has known. His mentor, the grand old spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham, is dead. The new head of the secret service is more concerned about his own advancement than defending the nation, and a rival faction at the court has established its own network of spies. Plots are everywhere, and no one can be trusted. Meanwhile, England's greatest enemy, the haunted Unseelie Court, prepares to make its move.
A dark, bloody scheme, years in the making, is about to be realized. The endgame begins on the night of the first performance of Dr. Faustus, the new play by Swyfte's close friend and fellow spy Christopher Marlowe. A devil is conjured in the middle of the crowded theater, taking the form of Will Swyfte's long-lost love, Jenny—and it has a horrifying message for him alone.

That night Marlowe is murdered, and Swyfte embarks on a personal and brutal crusade for vengeance. Friendless, with enemies on every side and a devil at his back, the spy may find that even his vaunted skills are no match for the supernatural powers arrayed against him.

Art by Dominic Harman
Blood of Ambrose by James Enge

Nominated for Best Novel in the World Fantasy Awards!

Behind the king's life stands the menacing Protector, and beyond him lies the Protector's Shadow...

Centuries after the death of Uthar the Great, the throne of the Ontilian Empire lies vacant. The late emperor's brother-in-law and murderer, Lord Urdhven, appoints himself Protector to his nephew, young King Lathmar VII and sets out to kill anyone who stands between himself and mastery of the empire, including (if he can manage it) the king himself and his ancient but still formidable ancestress, Ambrosia Viviana.

When Ambrosia is accused of witchcraft and put to trial by combat, she is forced to play her trump card and call on her brother, Morlock Ambrosius—stateless person, master of all magical makers, deadly swordsman, and hopeless drunk.

As ministers of the king, they carry on the battle, magical and mundane, against the Protector and his shadowy patron. But all their struggles will be wasted unless the young king finds the strength to rule in his own right and his own name.

Art by Dominic Harman
This Crooked Way by James Enge


Travelling alone in the depths of winter, Morlock Ambrosius (bitterly dry drunk, master of all magical makers, wandering swordsman, and son of Merlin Ambrosius and Nimue Viviana) is attacked by an unknown enemy.

To unmask his enemy and end the attacks he must travel a long crooked way through the world: past the soul-eating Boneless One, past a subtle and treacherous master of golems, past the dragon-taming Khroi, past the predatory cities of Sarkunden and Aflraun, past the demons and dark gnomes of the northern woods.

Soon he will find that his enemy wears a familiar face, and that the duel he has stumbled into will threaten more lives than his own, leaving nations shattered in its chaotic wake.

And at the end of his long road waits the death of a legend.

Art by Dominic Harman
The Wolf Age by James Enge

Wuruyaaria: city of werewolves, whose raiders range over the dying northlands, capturing human beings for slaves or meat. Wuruyaaria: where a lone immortal maker wages a secret war against the Strange Gods of the Coranians. Wuruyaaria: a democracy where some are more equal than others, and a faction of outcast werewolves is determined to change the balance of power in a long, bloody election year.

Their plans are laid; the challenges known; the risks accepted. But all schemes will shatter in the clash between two threats few had foreseen and none had fully understood: a monster from the north on a mission to poison the world, and a stranger from the south named Morlock Ambrosius.

Art by Lucas Graciano
The Goblin Corps by Ari Marmell

Morthûl, the dreaded Charnel King, has failed.

Centuries of plotting from the heart of the Iron Keep, deep within the dark lands of Kirol Syrreth—all for naught. Foiled at the last by the bumbling efforts of a laughable band of so-called heroes, brainless and over-muscled cretins without sense enough to recognize a hopeless cause when they take it on. Machinations developed over generations, schemes intended to deliver the world into the Dark Lord’s hands, now devastated beyond salvation. But the so-called forces of Light have paid for their meddling with the life of Princess Amalia, only child of the royal family of Shauntille.

Now, as winter solidifies its icy grip on the passes of the Brimstone Mountains, disturbing news has reached the court of Morthûl. King Dororam, enraged by the murder of his only child—and accompanied by that same group of delusional upstart “heroes” —is assembling all the Allied Kingdoms, fielding an army unlike any seen before. The armies of Kirol Syrreth muster to meet the attack that is sure to come as soon as the snows have melted from the mountain paths, but their numbers are sorely depleted. Still, after uncounted centuries of survival, the Dark Lord isn’t about to go down without a fight, particularly in battle against a mortal! No, the Charnel King still has a few tricks up his putrid and tattered sleeves, and the only thing that can defeat him now may just be the inhuman soldiers on whom he’s pinned his last hopes.

Welcome to the Goblin Corps. May the best man lose.
Art by John Picacio
Silverheart by Michael Moorcock and Storm Constantine

This is a novel set at the very heart of Michael Moorcock’s multiverse, in Karadur, city of metal, steam, and ancient families, the mighty clans of the metal. In six days, Max Silverskin, thief and trickster, must discover the secrets of his heritage or die from the witch mark – the silverheart – which will devour his heart. Lady Rose Iron, daughter of the leader of the powerful Clan Iron is thrown into an edgy alliance with Max as she searches for the secrets that could save the city’s future. Captain Cornelius Coffin, head of the clans’ security forces, is in love with Lady Rose and obsessed with capturing Max. And there are others, in Shriltasi, Karadur’s underworld twin, who know the prophecy which says that only Max Silverskin can save both realms.

In Silverheart, Michael Moorcock and Storm Constantine have combined their talents to produce a novel that is both surreal and gothic.

The Cardinal's Blades by Pierre Pevel (translated by Tom Clegg)

Art by Jon Sullivan
Welcome to seventeenth-century Paris, where intrigue, duels, and spies are rife and Cardinal Richelieu's men may be prevailed upon to risk life and limb in the name of France at a moment's notice. And with war on the horizon, the defense of the nation has never been more pressing.

Danger is rising from the south—an insidious plot that could end with a huge dragon-shaped shadow falling over France, a shadow cast by dragons quite unlike the pet dragonets that roam the cities like stray cats, or the tame wyverns men ride like horses, high over the Parisian rooftops. These dragons and their descendants are ancient, terrible, and powerful ... and their plans contain little room for the lives or freedom of men.

Cardinal Richelieu has nowhere else to turn; Captain La Fargue and his elite group of men, the Cardinal's Blades, must turn the tide. They must hold the deadly Black Claw cult at bay, root out traitors to the crown, rescue prisoners, and fulfill their mission for the Cardinal, for their country, but above all for themselves.

It's death or victory. And the victory has never been less certain.

Art by Jon Sullivan
The Alchemist in the Shadows by Pierre Pevel (translated by Tom Clegg)

Welcome to Paris, in 1633, where dragons menace the realm. Cardinal Richelieu, the most powerful and most feared man in France, is on his guard. He knows France is under threat, and that a secret society known as the Black Claw is conspiring against him from the heart of the greatest courts in Europe. They will strike from the shadows, and when they do the blow will be both terrible and deadly. To counter the threat, Richelieu has put his most trusted men into play: the Cardinal's Blades, led by Captain la Fargue. Six men and a woman, all of exceptional abilities and all ready to risk their lives on his command. They have saved France before, and the Cardinal is relying on them to do it again.

So when la Fargue hears from a beautiful, infamous, deadly Italian spy claiming to have valuable information, he has to listen ...and when La Donna demands Cardinal Richelieu's protection before she will talk, la Fargue is even prepared to consider it. Because La Donna can name their enemy. It's a man as elusive as he is manipulative, as subtle as Richelieu himself, an exceptionally dangerous adversary: the Alchemist in the shadows ...

Shadow's Son by Jon Sprunk

Art by Michael Komarck
In the holy city of Othir, treachery and corruption lurk at the end of every street, just the place for a freelance assassin with no loyalties and few scruples.

Caim makes his living on the edge of a blade, but when a routine job goes south, he is thrust into the middle of an insidious plot. Pitted against crooked lawmen, rival killers, and sorcery from the Other Side, his only allies are Josephine, the socialite daughter of his last victim, and Kit, a guardian spirit no one else can see. But in this fight for his life, Caim only trusts his knives and his instincts, but they won't be enough when his quest for justice leads him from Othir's hazardous back alleys to its shining corridors of power. To unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the empire, he must claim his birthright as the Shadow's Son....

Art by Michael Komarck
Shadow's Lure by Jon Sprunk

In Othir, he was at the top of the food chain—an assassin beyond compare, a dark shadow in the night. But Caim left that life behind when he helped an empress claim her throne. And now his past has come calling again.

Searching for the truth behind the murder and disappearance of his parents, Caim discovers a land in thrall to the Shadow. Haunted by temptations from the Other Side, he becomes mired in a war he does not want to fight.

But there are some things a son of the Shadow cannot ignore, and some fights from which he can’t run. In this battle, all of Caim’s strength and skill won’t be enough. For none can resist the Shadow’s Lure.

Midwinter by Matthew Sturges

Art by Chris McGrath
Winter comes to the land only once in a hundred years. But the snow covers ancient secrets: secrets that could topple a kingdom.

Mauritaine was a war hero, a captain in the Seelie Army. Then he was accused of treason and sentenced to life without parole at Crere Sulace, a dark and ancient prison in the mountains, far from the City Emerald. But now the Seelie Queen – Regina Titania herself – has offered him one last chance to redeem himself, an opportunity to regain his freedom and his honor.

Unfortunately, it’s a suicide mission, which is why only Mauritaine and the few prisoners he trusts enough to accompany him, would even dare attempt it: Raieve, beautiful and harsh, an emissary from a foreign land caught in the wrong place at the wrong time; Perrin Alt, Lord Silverdun, a nobleman imprisoned as a result of political intrigues so Byzantine that not even he understands them; and Brian Satterly, a human physicist, apprehended searching for the human victims of the faery changeling trade.

Meanwhile, dark forces are at work at home and abroad. In the Seelie kingdom, the reluctant soldier Purane-Es burns with hatred for Mauritaine, and plots to steal the one thing that remains to him: his wife. Across the border, the black artist Hy Pezho courts the whim of Mab, offering a deadly weapon that could allow the Unseelie in their flying cities to crush Titania and her army once and for all.

With time running out, Mauritaine and his companions must cross the deadly Contested Lands filled with dire magical fallout from wars past. They will confront mounted patrols, brigands, and a traitor in their midst. And before they reach their destination, as the Unseelie Armies led by Queen Mab approach the border, Mauritaine must decide between his own freedom and the fate of the very land that has forsaken him.

The Office of Shadow by Matthew Sturges

Art by Chris McGrath
Midwinter has gone, but that cold season has been replaced by a cold war in the world of Faerie, and this new kind of war requires a new kind of warrior.

Seelie forces drove back Empress Mab at the Battle of Sylvan, but hostilities could resume at any moment. Mab has developed a devastating new weapon capable of destroying an entire city, and the Seelie have no defense against it. If war comes, they will almost certainly be defeated.

In response, the Seelie reconstitutes a secret division of the Foreign Ministry, unofficially dubbed the "Office of Shadow," imbuing it with powers and discretion once considered unthinkable. They are a group of covert operatives given the tasks that can't be done in the light of day: secretly stealing the plans for Mab's new weapon, creating unrest in the Unseelie Empire, and doing whatever is necessary to prevent an unwinnable war.

The new leader of the "Shadows" is Silverdun. He's the nobleman who fought alongside Mauritane at Sylvan and who helped complete a critical mission for the Seelie Queen Titania. His operatives include a beautiful but naïve sorceress who possesses awesome powers that she must restrain in order to survive and a soldier turned scholar whose research into new ways of magic could save the world, or end it.

They'll do whatever is required to prevent a total war: make a dangerous foray into a hostile land to retrieve the plans for Mab's weapon; blackmail a king into revolting against the Unseelie Empire; journey into the space between space to uncover a closely guarded secret with the power to destroy worlds.

Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes

Art by Paul Young
Adventurer. The term has long been synonymous with cutthroat, murderer, savage, zealot, and heathen. And Lenk, an errant young man with only a sword and a decidedly unpleasant voice in his head, counts all five among his best and only associates. Loathed by society and spurned by all merciful gods, he and his band are recruited for only the vilest of jobs.
Denaos, the lecherous thug; Asper, the cursed priestess; Dreadaeleon, the pubescent wizard; Gariath, the psychotic dragonman; and Kataria, the savage shict who farts in her sleep, have all followed Lenk out of necessity. But as their companionship increases, so too does their enmity for each other. Thrown together by necessity and motivated by their distrust for each other, it falls to Lenk to keep them from murdering each other long enough to allow something more horrible, the pleasure of killing them.
When an esteemed clergyman hires them to track down a missing book stolen by a zealous foulness risen from the depths of the ocean, intent on using the tome to raise its abyssal matron from her hell-bound prison, Lenk finds his skills put to the test. Faced with titanic, fishlike beasts, psychotic purple warrior women, and the ferocity of an ocean that loathes him as much as his own people do, the greatest threat yet may be the company he keeps.
Full of razor-sharp wit and characters who leap off the page (and into trouble) and plunge the reader into a vivid world of adventure, this is a fantasy that kicks off a series that could dominate the second decade of the century.

Art by Paul Young
Black Halo by Sam Sykes


...and the gates of hell remain closed. Lenk and his five companions set sail to bring the accursed relic away from the demonic reach of Ulbecetonth, the Kraken Queen. But after weeks at sea, tensions amidst the adventurers are rising. Their troubles are only beginning when their ship crashes upon an island made of the bones left behind from a war long dead.

And it appears that bloodthirsty alien warrior women, fanatical beasts from the deep, and heretic-hunting wizards are the least of their concerns. Haunted by their pasts, plagued by their gods, tormented by their own people, and gripped by madness personal and peculiar, their greatest foes may yet be themselves.

The reach of Ulbecetonth is longer than hell can hold.