A grand epic that delivers exceptional characters, magic, and romance.

SUFFERBORN

From the Sufferborn series , Vol. 1

A young woman in a convent falls for an elf in a world rife with fiendish sorcerers in this debut fantasy.

Nineteen-year-old Kalea Thridmill, a novice vestal in the Hallowill convent, is devoted to the One Creator. One day, she witnesses residents of the town of Tintilly attacking an elven thief. On the Kaihals continent, elves are prohibited from most places outside of the elven country of Norr, though this mob punishment is severe. Kalea helps him escape but the elf, Dorhen Sufferborn, has no home to return to. Sixteen years ago, his father, Daghahen, seemingly murdered his mother, and fairy Arius Medallus has acted as Dorhen’s surrogate father. Kalea’s religion makes her wary of the elf’s physical attraction to her, especially because it’s mutual. While Dorhen sticks close to the convent and Kalea, Daghahen searches for a way to kill his hated twin brother, Lamrhath, kingsorcerer of the Ilbith faction. This group of sorcerers ultimately attacks the Hallowill convent and abducts the novices while Dorhen disappears. Luckily, Kalea was not at the convent during the assault. As she believes a mysterious sword will lead her to her elf, she hunts for this weapon that Daghahen stole from his brother long ago. Hartcarver undoubtedly aims her fantasy series opener at adult readers, with concepts like Lamrhath’s unquenchable lust and instances of men forcing themselves on women. But the author loads her tale with ingredients that genre fans will savor, from pixies and magic spells to romance and strange, unknown lands. The story’s swift pace comes courtesy of myriad subplots and characters, including Gaije, an elf from a clan in Norr, and Chandran, a sorcerer Lamrhath sends to recover his sword. Despite the final act introducing additional players and clearly setting up a sequel, there’s still some resolution before the cliffhanger ending. The proficient author also provides illustrations—stark, boldly lined renditions of notable scenes, such as Kalea and Dorhen’s first meeting.

A grand epic that delivers exceptional characters, magic, and romance.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9982104-5-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dorwik Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

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A deceptively quiet beginning rockets to a thrilling finish, preparing us for the next volume’s undoubtedly explosive finale.

NONA THE NINTH

The third installment of a necromantic science-fantasy series continues working at puzzles of identity and the meaning of loyalty.

Previously (Gideon the Ninth, 2019; Harrow the Ninth, 2020), sullen but brilliant necromancer Harrowhark consumed the soul of Gideon, her foulmouthed cavalier, to become a Lyctor, a semi-immortal officer in the Emperor Undying’s court. In a desperate attempt to preserve Gideon’s identity, Harrow deliberately erased the other woman from her memories, leaving herself confused to the point of delusion, unable to access her full powers, and vulnerable to enemies both within and without the Emperor’s court. This novel introduces Nona, a sweet but extraordinarily naïve young woman who appears to be in Harrowhark’s body but with Gideon’s golden eyes, lacking both necromantic abilities and any memories prior to six months ago. Nona’s been happy despite her precarious living situation in a war-torn city threatened by the necromantic Houses and their foe, the Blood of Eden. Unfortunately, what fragile peace she has cannot last, and everything depends on recovering Nona’s memories and returning to Harrowhark’s home in the Ninth House, there to finally release the deadly threat lurking in the Locked Tomb. But who is Nona, really: Harrowhark, Gideon, a blend of both young women…or someone else entirely? (The reader will figure it out long before the characters do.) Meanwhile, the Emperor and Harrowhark meet in dreams, where he recounts events of 10,000 years ago, when, as a newly fledged necromancer, his conflict with the corrupt trillionaires who planned to escape the dying Earth and leave the remaining billions to perish led to nuclear apocalypse. It’s pretty gutsy of Muir to write two books in a row about amnesiac characters, particularly when it may very well be the same character experiencing a different form of amnesia in each. This work initially reads like a strange interlude from the series, devoted to Nona’s odd but essentially quotidian routine in the midst of war, riot, and general chaos. But the story gradually gathers speed, and it’s all in service to a deeper plot. It is unfortunate that the demands of that plot mean we’ve gotten a considerably smaller dose of Gideon’s defiantly crude, riotously flouncy behavior in the two books subsequent to the one which bears her name.

A deceptively quiet beginning rockets to a thrilling finish, preparing us for the next volume’s undoubtedly explosive finale.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-25-085411-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Tordotcom

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

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THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE

After 1,000 years of peace, whispers that “the Nameless One will return” ignite the spark that sets the world order aflame.

No, the Nameless One is not a new nickname for Voldemort. Here, evil takes the shape of fire-breathing dragons—beasts that feed off chaos and imbalance—set on destroying humankind. The leader of these creatures, the Nameless One, has been trapped in the Abyss for ages after having been severely wounded by the sword Ascalon wielded by Galian Berethnet. These events brought about the current order: Virtudom, the kingdom set up by Berethnet, is a pious society that considers all dragons evil. In the East, dragons are worshiped as gods—but not the fire-breathing type. These dragons channel the power of water and are said to be born of stars. They forge a connection with humans by taking riders. In the South, an entirely different way of thinking exists. There, a society of female mages called the Priory worships the Mother. They don’t believe that the Berethnet line, continued by generations of queens, is the sacred key to keeping the Nameless One at bay. This means he could return—and soon. “Do you not see? It is a cycle.” The one thing uniting all corners of the world is fear. Representatives of each belief system—Queen Sabran the Ninth of Virtudom, hopeful dragon rider Tané of the East, and Ead Duryan, mage of the Priory from the South—are linked by the common goal of keeping the Nameless One trapped at any cost. This world of female warriors and leaders feels natural, and while there is a “chosen one” aspect to the tale, it’s far from the main point. Shannon’s depth of imagination and worldbuilding are impressive, as this 800-pager is filled not only with legend, but also with satisfying twists that turn legend on its head. Shannon isn’t new to this game of complex storytelling. Her Bone Season novels (The Song Rising, 2017, etc.) navigate a multilayered society of clairvoyants. Here, Shannon chooses a more traditional view of magic, where light fights against dark, earth against sky, and fire against water. Through these classic pairings, an entirely fresh and addicting tale is born. Shannon may favor detailed explication over keeping a steady pace, but the epic converging of plotlines at the end is enough to forgive.

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-029-8

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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