Please welcome Brian Staveley to The Qwillery. Skullsworn will be published on April 25, 2017 by Tor Books.
TQ: Welcome back to The Qwillery again. What appeals to you about writing Epic Fantasy and are there any other genres or subgenres in which you'd like to write?
Brian: I love the scope of epic fantasy, the chance to include the mythic, the historical, the religious, the philosophical at the same time as writing some bloody battles and backstabbing intrigue. That said, I’m writing a novella now. It’s the first time I’ve worked at that length, and the first time I’ve written anything outside the world of the Unhewn Throne, and I’m loving both the intimacy of the form and the chance to be more stylistically experimental.
TQ: You've written 100s of pages in The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe. What is your method for keeping your facts straight?
Brian: I have no method. I have random documents strewn about my computer that are only vaguely organized. Occasionally I need to go back and dig around in one of my books for some obscure name or fact. I am absolutely certain that there are better, easier, more efficient ways to do this, but no one ever accused me of doing things the easy way.
TQ: The 3rd novel in The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne Trilogy, The Last Mortal Bond, was published in 2016, with the Trade Paperback out last month. How did you feel wrapping up that Trilogy?
Brian: Massive relief. A trilogy is sort of like a hockey game: kicking ass for two periods doesn’t matter if you let everything go to shit in the third. And I’ve read a number of trilogies in which this happens. I’m thrilled that most readers seem to have really enjoyed the conclusion to the tale, that I didn’t inadvertently ruin everything that came before.
TQ: But, you've returned to that universe with Skullsworn which is a standalone novel. Where does Skullsworn fit temporally with The Emperor's Blades, The Providence of Fire and The Last Mortal Bond?
Brian: Skullsworn is set about twenty years before The Emperor’s Blades, and it takes place in a city—Dombang—that doesn’t appear (outside the occasional, casual mention) in the trilogy at all. It was great having the chance to flesh out the physical world, and also to take a look at the Annurian Empire from a different angle—many inhabitants of Dombang see the Empire as a sinister occupying force. They’re certainly no fans of the Malkeenians.
TQ: Please tell us something about Skullsworn that is not found in the book description.
Brian: The setting is more important to this book than any of the others. Dombang is a city built on a river delta, a city of a thousand bridges and canals, while the delta is teeming with deadly flora and fauna—poisonous plants, venomous snakes, jaguars, crocodiles. I wanted to create a location for this story that felt beautiful but also rotten, hot, and claustrophobic. That’s crucial to the political climate of the city, but also to Pyrre’s personal psychological journey.
TQ: Pyrre Lakatur is the main character in Skullsworn. Where has she appeared in the trilogy?
Brian: Pyrre is in her mid-forties in the trilogy. She’s a pretty significant secondary character—definitely a fan favorite—but I don’t want to say too much about her for people who haven’t read The Emperor’s Blades. I guess it’s obvious from Skullsworn itself that she is very, very good at killing people. It’s worth mentioning, though, that she’s quite a different character in Skullsworn than in the trilogy—younger, less certain of herself.
TQ: Can you tell us about the world in which Pyrre finds herself?
Brian: As I mentioned above, Dombang is nominally part of the Annurian Empire—it was conquered two hundred years before the time in which Skullsworn is set—and yet, unlike most other parts of the empire, Dombang still seethes with revolution. Part of this is due to the city’s isolation. Even more is due to the local religion, which the Annurians have attempted to stamp out. The locals believe that a trinity of brutal, bloody gods inhabits the delta and keeps the city safe. They’re even willing to offer human sacrifice to those gods…
TQ: Please tell us about the cover for Skullsworn.
Brian: Rich Anderson’s cover art for the US version doesn’t depict a specific scene. Our goal was to capture a) something of Pyrre’s character and b) something of the city itself. We actually considered a few versions that had Pyrre front and center in the frame, but those struck me as wrong. Not only does she fight from the shadows, but she’s not emotionally ready to stand in the middle of a book cover when this story takes place. The Pyrre of the trilogy would happily recline straight across the cover, but she’s not there yet in Skullsworn.
The UK cover, by contrast, does a really nice job capturing the feel of the delta. There are no huge cliffs like that, but I like the ambience of the cover, the way it suggests a wild and dangerous world beyond the limits of Dombang.
TQ: Will you be writing more stories set in The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, perhaps bringing back another fan favorite?
Brian: Absolutely. As soon as I wrap up this novella, I’m getting back to another in-universe stand-alone. This one involves another female character that a lot of readers have grown to love, although I don’t think she’s going to be a POV character in the novel. Stay tuned!
TQ: Thank you for joining us again at The Qwillery!
Brian: Thanks for having me!
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne World
Tor Books, April 25, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 304 pages
Brian Staveley’s new standalone returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess-assassin for the God of Death.
“Brilliant.” —V. E. Schwab, New York Times bestselling author
From the award-winning epic fantasy world of The Emperor’s Blades…
Pyrre Lakatur is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer—she is a priestess. At least, she will be once she passes her final trial.
The problem isn’t the killing. The problem, rather, is love. For to complete her trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the seven people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one who made your mind and body sing with love / who will not come again.”
Pyrre isn’t sure she’s ever been in love. And if she fails to find someone who can draw such passion from her, or fails to kill that someone, her order will give her to their god, the God of Death. Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail, and so, as her trial is set to begin, she returns to the city of her birth in the hope of finding love . . . and ending it on the edge of her sword.
"A complex and richly detailed world filled with elite soldier-assassins, mystic warrior monks, serpentine politics, and ancient secrets." —Library Journal, starred review, on The Emperor's Blades
Brian Staveley is the author of the award-winning fantasy trilogy, The Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne. After teaching literature, philosophy, history, and religion for more than a decade, he began writing fiction. His first book, The Emperor’s Blades, won the David Gemmell Morningstar Award, the Reddit Stabby for best debut, and scored semi-finalist spots in the Goodreads Choice Awards in two categories: epic fantasy and debut. The entire trilogy, which includes The Providence of Fire and the The Last Mortal Bond has been translated into over ten languages worldwide.
Brian lives on a steep dirt road in the mountains of southern Vermont, where he divides his time between fathering, writing, husbanding, splitting wood, skiing, and adventuring, not necessarily in that order.
The Emperor's Blades
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 1
Tor Books, August 26, 2014
Trade Paperback, 496 pages
Hardcover and eBook, January 14, 2014
In The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley, the emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods.
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.
The Providence of Fire
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 2
Tor Books, December 8, 2015
Trade Paperback, 624 pages
Hardcover and eBook, January 13, 2015
The Providence of Fire is the second novel in Brian Staveley's Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, a gripping new epic fantasy series
The conspiracy to destroy the ruling family of the Annurian Empire is far from over.
Having learned the identity of her father's assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, the people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy.
Unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn, a renegade member of the empire's most elite fighting force, has allied with the invading nomads. The terrible choices each of them has made may make war between them inevitable.
Between Valyn and Adare is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with the help of two strange companions. The knowledge they possess of the secret history that shapes these events could save Annur or destroy it.
The Last Mortal Bond
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 3
Tor Books, March 14, 2017
Trade Paperback, 672 pages
Hardcover and eBook, March 15, 2016
The trilogy that began with The Emperor's Blades and continued in The Providence of Fire reaches its epic conclusion, as war engulfs the Annurian Empire in Brian Staveley's The Last Mortal Bond
The ancient csestriim are back to finish their purge of humanity; armies march against the capital; leaches, solitary beings who draw power from the natural world to fuel their extraordinary abilities, maneuver on all sides to affect the outcome of the war; and capricious gods walk the earth in human guise with agendas of their own.
But the three imperial siblings at the heart of it all--Valyn, Adare, and Kaden--come to understand that even if they survive the holocaust unleashed on their world, there may be no reconciling their conflicting visions of the future.
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 1 - 3
Tor Books, Dec 6, 2016
Includes: The Emperor's Blades, The Providence of Fire, The Last Mortal Bond, and an excerpt from the forthcoming Skullsworn
“An enchanting union of old and new, Staveley's debut will keep you turning pages late into the night.” —Pierce Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Red Rising
The emperor of Annur is dead, slain by enemies unknown. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. But each of them also has a life-path on which their father set them, destinies entangled with both ancient enemies and inscrutable gods.
The Emperor’s Blades — Three siblings: Kaden, the heir to the Unhewn Throne, has spent eight years sequestered in a remote mountain monastery. An ocean away, Valyn endures the brutal training of the Kettral. At the heart of the empire, Adare hunts those who murdered her father.
The Providence of Fire — Kaden infiltrates the Annurian capital, while Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion compels the rival forces to unite. Unknown to Adare, Valyn has allied with the invading nomads.
The Last Mortal Bond — The ancient csestriim are back to finish their purge of humanity; armies march against the capital; capricious gods walk the earth in human guise, but the imperial siblings at the heart of it all soon understand that there may be no reconciling their conflicting visions of the future.
Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne The Emperor's Blades The Providence of Fire The Last Mortal Bond
Other books in the world of the Unhewn Throne Skullsworn (forthcoming)
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
The Shadow Crucible (The Blind God 1 ) by T. M. Lakomy;
The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan, Yuri Machkasov (Translator).
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.
From formerly featured DAC Authors:
Night of the Animals by Bill Broun is out in Trade Paperback;
The Mirror Cracked (The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, Season 2, Episode 10) by Cassandra Rose Clarke;
Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) by Brian Staveley.
Clicking on a novel's cover will take you to its Amazon page.
Debut novels are highlighted in blue. Novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors are highlighted in green.
April 25, 2017
A Fire in the Blood
The Broken Hours: A Novel of H.P. Lovecraft (h2tp)
Within the Sanctuary of Wings
F - The Lady Trent Memoirs 5
Night of the Animals (h2tp)
Tobias S. Buckell
SF - HALO
Shadow's Blade (h2mm)
David B. Coe
CF/P - Case Files of Justis Fearsson 3
PNR - Immortals After Dark 17
The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase
CF - The Librarians 2
Second Variety and Other Classic Stories
Phillip K. Dick
SF - Collection
Jericho's Razor (D)
H/Sus/PsyTh - Jericho Sands 1
SF - Star Carrier 7
The Queen of Blood (h2mm)
Sarah Beth Durst
F - Queens of Renthia 1
UF - Elemental Assassin 16
Dark Screams: Volume Six (e)
Brian James Freeman (Ed)
Richard Chizmar (Ed)
H - Anthology
SF - The Horus Heresy 34
The Ship (D)
Planet of the Apes Omnibus 2
William T. Quick
PNR - Night Blood 3
Four Past Midnight: Stories
Sus - Collection
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
The Shadow Crucible (D)
T. M. Lakomy
DF - The Blind God 1
Dogs of War: A Joe Ledger Novel
Th/H - Joe Ledger 9
The Utopia Chronicles
TT/MetaVis/TechnoTh - Atopia 3
UF/PNR - Chicagoland Vampires 13
SF - Task Force Ombra 3
The Gray House (D-US)
Yuri Machkasov (Tr)
Terry Pratchett's Discworld Coloring Book
F - Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne
Eric James Stone
Fur Fox's Sake
PNR - Shifters Undercover 2
The Edge of Worlds
F/CF - Raksura 4
Charles E Gannon
SF - Starfire 7
April 26, 2017
The Mirror Cracked (e)
Cassandra Rose Clarke
HistF/Espionage - The Witch Who Came In From The Cold Season 2 #10
The Awakening of Insects: A Tor.com Original (e)
The Dustpan Cometh (e)
UF - The Cleaners 3
April 28, 2017
The Ion Raider (e)
SH/SF - The Dark Angels 2
April 30, 2017
D - Debut
e - eBook
Ed - Editor
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade to Mass Market Paperback
Tr - Translator
AC - Alien Contact
AH - Alternate History
AP - Apocalyptic
CF - Contemporary Fantasy
CoA - Coming of Age
CulH - Cultural Heritage
CW - Contemporary Women
DF - Dark Fantasy
Dys - Dystopian
F - Fantasy
FairyT - Fairy Tales
FolkT - Folk Tales
FR - Fantasy Romance
GB - Genre Bender
GenEng - Genetic Engineering
GH - Ghost(s)
H - Horror
HistF - Historical Fantasy
HistM - Historical Mystery
HU - Humor
LF - Literary Fiction
LM - Legends and Mythology
M - Mystery
MR - Magical Realism
Occ - Occult
P - Paranormal
PA - Post Apocalyptic
PCM - Paranormal Cozy Mystery
PNR - Paranormal Romance
PolTh - Political Thriller
Psy - Psychological
PsyTh - Psychological Thriller
R - Romance
RP - Role Playing
RSus - Romantic Suspense
SF - Science Fiction
SH - Superheroes
SO - Space Opera
SP - Steampunk
Sup - Supernatural
SupTh - Supernatural Thriller
Sus - Suspense
TechTh - Technological Thriller
Th - Thriller
TT - Time Travel
TTR - Time Travel Romance
UF - Urban Fantasy
VisMeta - Visionary and Metaphysical
WM - War and Military
Note: Not all genres and formats are found in the books, etc. listed above.
I am going to start this post with a confession. I'm not really a size zero....just kidding! My confession is that I made some poor reading choices this week. Not that the books I read weren't good...rather that I read them too early. I received a few books from NetGalley and in my excitement to read them I didn't check the publication dates and I can't tell them you about them quite yet. I do have a couple of books to tell you about though so don't despair.
I received Patricia Brigg's 10th instalment of the Mercy Thompson series Silence Fallen via NetGalley a few months ago. This was another book I read too early, couldn't review immediately after I read it and then forgot I had. Sorry! I did a quick re-read in order to review it for you as soon as I remembered I had it!
This instalment starts quite dramatically with Mercy being abducted not far from her and Adam's home. She wakes up in Europe in the home of a ruthless and evil vampire. Mercy's link to Adam is cut off and she is on her own and it is going to take all her skill and luck of the coyote to survive this. While Mercy looks to escape Adam is forming an unlikely alliance with the vampire queen Marsilia and Stefan in order to rescue Mercy. Told from both Mercy and Adam's POV we travel across Europe as both the hunted and the hunter in search of answers and in search of mercy.
I thought it was interesting that Briggs decided to tell this story from multiple POVs and you can't beat Prague for an atmospheric setting. I really think that Brigg's needs to wrap up this series as the story lines are starting to feel forced. There are only so many times that Mercy can just miss dying. It feels like her 9 lives should have been used up already. It is difficult to see where else Briggs can go with these characters. Good book if you need a time filler but I wouldn't say it was essential reading in the series.
A number of people have recommended Benedict Jacka's Alex Versus series to me and it has taken me a while to decide to buy one of the books. That time arrived and I got my chance to see what everyone has been talking about by starting with Fated. Qwill reviewed this book back in 2012 so you can read what she thought about it here.
As not to repeat the synopsis of the book again I am just going to tell you what I thought. I liked Alex Versus and thought he was an engaging and conflicted character. I usually always enjoy books set in London and this was no exception. My friends who have recommended this series said it was really funny and while I didn't necessarily think it was a laugh a minute I did find Alex mildly amusing. I have also heard comparisons to Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden but again, I couldn't really see the connection - both wizard/mages? That is about it other than they were both loners. I enjoyed Fated but I can't say I would stop reading other books to move onto book 2. Having said that the next time I am looking for a nice enjoyable read then I will check out the next instalment of this series.
That is it for me this week. Wishing you a productive week ahead in reading and remember - check the publication date! Until next week Happy Reading.
A Mercy Thompson Novel 10
Ace, March 7, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages
In the #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels, the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy’s bond with the pack—and her mate—is broken, she’ll learn what it truly means to be alone…
Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes—only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…
Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…
An Alex Verus Novel 1
Ace, February 28, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex’s own powers aren’t as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future–allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.
But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever’s inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none…
The 37th annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes have been awarded at the University of Southern California’s Bovard Auditorium. The ceremony recognized outstanding literary achievement in 11 categories, including the new Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose.
Novelist Thomas McGuane was honored with the 2016 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement.
Ruebén Martinez received the Innovator’s Award for his work honoring Latino writers and expanding the community of readers throughout Southern California.
2016 WINNERS and FINALISTS
Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction
Nathan Hill, The Nix, Alfred A. Knopf
Sara Baume, Spill Simmer Falter Wither, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Mark Beauregard, The Whale: A Love Story, Viking
Idra Novey, Ways to Disappear, Little, Brown and Company