A gripping epic fantasy with plenty of intrigue, passion, and action.

THE SWORD BROTHERHOOD

From the The Shadow Sword series series , Vol. 3

In this third installment of the Shadow Sword series, a centuries-old rivalry continues to threaten a kingdom, weaving the lives of friends and enemies together in a complex tapestry.

Betrayed by the warrior Val Arques, the dread lord and seer king Roaran is being held captive by the cruel ghoul god Archanin. Tortured relentlessly, Roaran has immortal blood that will not allow him to die, healing him quickly and causing his torment to last for years. Dannon, a former Varee raider and betrayer of Archanin, is tasked with leading a brotherhood meant to free Roaran and save the kingdom from the ghoul god’s tyranny. Meanwhile, Val is stuck in the past, looking after a woman now possessed by his charge, Kaell. This woman brought forth Roaran’s daughter, Genya, destined for great things. The line between good and evil shifts back and forth as the ghoul Raggamirron grows close to the captive Roaran and the seer king must contend with the guilt over his own unsavory deeds. The fate of this fantasy world relies on the actions of many diverse characters with differing needs and motives, all fighting their own personal battles to do what they believe is best. The riveting narrative flows back and forth in time, with many of the characters living for centuries, harboring old wounds, and yearning for vengeance. As in the previous volumes, Hartland’s writing is smooth and digestible; her action sequences are particularly compelling and sure to please fans of the series. Her characters are blessed with sensitivity and very human foibles, grounding them in reality despite the story’s mythic setting. This installment is best read after the previous two, as the saga’s lore is vast and intricate.

A gripping epic fantasy with plenty of intrigue, passion, and action. (map)

Pub Date: May 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-648-43725-3

Page Count: 663

Publisher: Dark Blade Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 9, 2020

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A masterful debut from a must-read new voice in fantasy.

FOR THE WOLF

Twin princesses—one fated to become a queen, the other a martyr—find themselves caught up in an unexpected battle of dark magic and ancient gods.

Four hundred years ago, a Valleydan princess facing a loveless betrothal sought refuge in the Wilderwood with her lover, the Wolf. The legendary Five Kings—including her father and her husband-to-be—pursued them only to be trapped in the Wilderwood. Now, according to legend, the only hope of restoring the Five Kings to power lies in the ritual sacrifice of every Second Daughter born to Valleyda's queen. There hasn't been a second daughter for 100 years—until now. On her 20th birthday, Redarys accepts her fate and walks into the Wilderwood to become the Wolf's next victim only to find that the stories she grew up on were lies. The handsome man who lives in a crumbling castle deep in the forest is not the original Wolf but his son, and he wants nothing to do with Red or her sacrifice. Afraid of her wild magic abilities and the danger they pose to her sister, Neverah, Red refuses to leave the Wilderwood. Instead, she clings to the new Wolf, Eammon, who will do whatever it takes to protect her from the grisly fate of the other Second Daughters. Meanwhile, in the Valleydan capital, Neve's desperation to bring her sister home sets her on a path that may spell disaster for Red, Eammon, and the Wilderwood itself. Whitten weaves a captivating tale in this debut, in which even secondary characters come to feel like old friends. The novel seamlessly blends "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Beauty and the Beast" into an un-put-down-able fairy tale that traces the boundaries of duty, love, and loss.

A masterful debut from a must-read new voice in fantasy.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-59278-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

THE SWALLOWED MAN

A retelling of Pinocchio from Geppetto's point of view.

The novel purports to be the memoirs of Geppetto, a carpenter from the town of Collodi, written in the belly of a vast fish that has swallowed him. Fortunately for Geppetto, the fish has also engulfed a ship, and its supplies—fresh water, candles, hardtack, captain’s logbook, ink—are what keep the Swallowed Man going. (Collodi is, of course, the name of the author of the original Pinocchio.) A misfit whose loneliness is equaled only by his drive to make art, Geppetto scours his surroundings for supplies, crafting sculptures out of pieces of the ship’s wood, softened hardtack, mussel shells, and his own hair, half hoping and half fearing to create a companion once again that will come to life. He befriends a crab that lives all too briefly in his beard, then mourns when “she” dies. Alone in the dark, he broods over his past, reflecting on his strained relationship with his father and his harsh treatment of his own “son”—Pinocchio, the wooden puppet that somehow came to life. In true Carey fashion, the author illustrates the novel with his own images of his protagonist’s art: sketches of Pinocchio, of woodworking tools, of the women Geppetto loved; photos of driftwood, of tintypes, of a sculpted self-portrait with seaweed hair. For all its humor, the novel is dark and claustrophobic, and its true subject is the responsibilities of creators. Remembering the first time he heard of the sea monster that was to swallow him, Geppetto wonders if the monster is somehow connected to Pinocchio: “The unnatural child had so thrown the world off-balance that it must be righted at any cost, and perhaps the only thing with the power to right it was a gigantic sea monster, born—I began to suppose this—just after I cracked the world by making a wooden person.” Later, contemplating his self-portrait bust, Geppetto asks, “Monster of the deep. Am I, then, the monster? Do I nightmare myself?”

A deep and grimly whimsical exploration of what it means to be a son, a father, and an artist.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18887-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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