Designing the Cover for The Rage of Dragons, the Next Great Epic Fantasy of 2019

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Evan Winter’s debut novel, The Rage of Dragons, is another success story of the likes of Josiah Bancroft and Jonathan French. A year and change after his self-published his debut novel, it is coming out in print from a major publisher.  Orbit will release the hardcover edition in July, while the reedited ebook is available now. This story of a reluctant young fighter growing up in a cultural built on endless war, it has been called Game of Thrones meets Gladiator, or, as acquiring editor Brit Hvide put it on Twitter, “it’s got dragons and warrior training and a matriarchal society and all the characters are black because why not?”

Needly to say, we’re pretty excited to read it—and our excited wasn’t exactly tempered by Orbit’s recent reveal of the cover (see the full version below!). Evan recently spoke with artist Karla Ortiz, the cover illustrator, about the process of creating the cover, representation in pop culture, and artistic inspiration, and we’re happy to share that conversation with you today. 

Evan Winters: I think book covers are immensely important. They’re a book’s calling card. They’re its most consistent and prevalent marketing tool and most importantly, they’re a promise to readers. I want to thank you for creating a wonderful piece and for giving my story its promise. I’m curious, what was the creative brief and how did we come to the cover that we have today?

Karla Ortiz: The creative brief is interesting because whenever I get one of these briefs it’s almost like I’m a detective and I’m getting the file cases. We got a short brief little story of who you are as the author and what the story feels like. Not any specific story points, although there were some specifics like here’s some of our characters, here’s some of the feelings, some of the things they visually want to bring into the whole story.

Orbit’s art director, Lauren [Panepinto], is the best. We’ve been wanting to work together for a really long time. She actually hit me up. She said specifically, “Karla. I have a book and I really want you to work on it. I’d think you’d be perfect for it and here’s why.” She gave me a little bit of that brief and what you as the author were trying to bring to the story. I was just like, “Yeah, I would love to be a part of it.” She challenged me actually, because most of my illustration work is very heavily character-centric. If left to my own devices, I would have painted all the characters and I would have spoiled the story for readers. We went through a series of sketches and she had pointed at a painting that I did a long time ago in which I had a relief of figures in the wall. That’s always a subject that I’m in love with. I love relief sculptures and just how dynamic and magnificent they can be.

Are there parts of the final cover that point to specific scenes or characters in the book?

Evan: I feel as if the way the cover is, it’s actually better than if it pointed to a specific scene in the book because what you did speaks to the tone of the book. It speaks to the direction that the story goes and the direction it will be going. I think that that’s probably more important than a specific scene. Even though, as a reader, it’s always fun when you get to a point in the book and you go, “Oh that’s the cover.” It totally is fun. But I think that a cover often ends up needing to do a bit more than that. Because too often, individual scenes can’t really speak to the story or the greater idea that you’re trying to tell. I really loved the cover because I think what it does is it captures the tone of the story and the kind of idea that I’m going for, which is that there’s something larger than individual moments that’s happening. Something that has weight and almost a sense of history to it. Because that is part of the goal, I want the story to have the feel of almost a history being told.

Karla: I worked on Black Panther. For the cover of The Rage of Dragons, I used a lot of the process that I used for creating stuff for Black Panther, where you look at a lot of things from an area, you research the history of it and why they used certain things. I had one version where it was a shield and bunch of swords and weaponry. There was another version where it was just the background relief and the statues. Then there was another version that had little statues but there were fire embers all over. When Lauren came back to me, she’s like, “Okay, we love all of them so let’s put them all together.”

Evan: One of the things I really like about the way it’s all come together and how you used the relief but still have the figures within the relief is… Very often people talk about Africa as if it doesn’t have its own history. What you’ve done is you’ve almost created a feeling of that. We hear all the time about Roman and Greek history, and we often see things in reliefs on the buildings that they made and what you’ve done here is you’ve said, “Look, let’s take that idea of history and look, Africa has it, too.”

Karla: Where I’m from, Puerto Rico, the stories most people grow up with are the Spaniard stories, but the ones that are really, really interesting are those of our Indian heritage, the Taino. The stories of the gods that they have. Because we get hurricanes all the time, they named a specific god that comes over and then you go and run and hide in the mountains. There are great stories and great legends and things that you’re just like, this is just as cool as any kind of Roman mythology or Viking mythology. Every place has that. It’s one of the things I’m so excited to start seeing, especially in fantasy. I’ve been seeing a trend of authors being like, “Hey, you know what? We’ve told these stories. The Vikings and Romans, typical fantasy so long, what about the gods we don’t talk about? What about the mythology we don’t talk about?” That’s what I’ve been so fascinated with lately.

Evan: I completely, completely, completely agree with you. Civilizations everywhere have these stories and we have to start telling them. It’s important that we hear them, I think, and see the places where we have the commonalities and we need to value the differences.

Karla: Seeing Black Panther nominated for all those [awards] is so cool. There’s definitely changes happening in Hollywood. You’re in the forefront of that, too, with your book, as well. What kind of stories are being told? It’s now expanded to reflect our reality more, of how varied and how diverse we are. I think that’s so exciting.

Evan:It’s an extremely exciting time to be trying to create, I think. Especially because not very long ago, there weren’t very many opportunities for people like you and me, I think, to be able to create as easily, and with as much support from the places that can help you make a living doing that creation. Black Panther obviously is a big Marvel Studio movie, but it’s like a lot of this is coming out of people making their own stuff in their own way, because they’re going, “You know what, I can’t wait for somebody to let me make something. I have to make it now.”

Karla: That also creates a ripple that’s unforeseen. Like, how many young people see that and say, “Oh, I can be a hero. I’m not the lackey.” Like, for example for me, “Oh, I’m not a housekeeper,” ’cause that’s what everything in Hollywood would always tell me. You’re Hispanic, you’re just going to clean a house. Like, “Oh, I can actually be a superhero. I can have defining roles that are exciting. I can be heroic, I can be strong, I can have flaws, I can be everything.” Especially within the fantasy realm you can allow yourself to dream to that extent. That’s life-changing for people.

Evan: It’s always wonderful to hear it. You’re completely right, and it makes a difference. I took my son to go see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It was so amazing to watch. I went with my son and my wife. My wife is not particularly into comic book stuff. She was like, “Oh, we’re going for the little guy, so I’ll go.” She loved it. That’s not what she’s into, and she’s like, “That’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.”

Karla: Me and my boyfriend saw it three times. That’s how good it was. My favorite was going to a matinee or seeing little kids coming out and just being like, “I could have the mask, too.”

Evan: That’s the most important thing for me. I got to sit next to my son in that movie theater and he got to watch Miles Morales be Spider-Man. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about being able to see yourself in art, being represented, because helps us make sense of the real world, I think.

A lot of the time in the writing community you hear the idea of, “Oh, you have to really be in the mood or feeling it.” And then the other side says, “Well, it’s just butt in chair.” Personally, I outline, and try to put ‘butt in chair’ because then I know what I need to write and can’t get blocked. After that, if you put your butt in the chair and you know what you’re supposed to write, you just write. The other thing about simply doing the work without too much focus on ‘waiting for the muse’ is that, even on the days you’re not feeling it, if you just do the work, you’ll never let stuff happen on the page or the screen that’s below your level of craft. You just won’t. Just keep going and then, at the end, you can revise, revise, revise until it gets to at least the height of your craft. Maybe the height of your craft doesn’t end up being where you want it to be, but that’s what practice is for, right?

Karla: I teach a lot and I do a lot of workshops and that’s one of the things I often tell students. There’s also a lot of artists in my industry that are like, “Oh, I don’t paint unless I feel inspired.” But inspiration is so fleeting. And inspiration is just not reliable. I work in film right now. With film you can’t wait for it to inspire you. You’ve got to go. What I’ve found is that sometimes I don’t feel it at all but I tell myself I’m going to do just a couple little marks. That helps me inch myself into that mood and suddenly, before you know it, you are inspired.

Rather than waiting for that very specific moment when the new moon comes in and the stars align and you’re just like, “Oh, now I feel it.” And you better hope that you don’t get a phone call, ’cause then you’re screwed.

Evan: And then you’re done. And those moments happen where all the stars align and it’s beautiful.

Karla: Yeah, it’s gorgeous.

Evan: The funny thing is when I read my work back afterwards, I can’t tell when the stars align and I can’t tell when I was having an awful shitty day, the words are just there. You don’t even know the days you didn’t feel it because you just read the words and you’re like, “Okay, that works. That’s great.”

Karla: That’s perfect. After a while you look back at a painting and … I do remember some of my paintings where I remember not really enjoying it, but now that I look at with new eyes, it doesn’t matter. It’s fine. It’s not as big of a deal as I remember it to be.

Evan: It was an absolute pleasure to get the chance to speak to you. Thank you so much for an amazingly beautiful, beautiful cover and a cover that I’m very, very proud of. I’m extremely excited for the rest of the world to see it.

Karla: Me too. I’m excited for the book to hit. I’m excited for people to be just like, “Damn.” Thank you. It was just an honor. It was an honor to meet you, and thank you so much for your time and your vision.

More about The Rage of Dragons:

The Omehi people have been fighting an unwinnable fight for almost two hundred years. Their society has been built around war and only war. The lucky ones are born gifted. One in every two thousand women has the power to call down dragons. One in every hundred men is able to magically transform himself into a bigger, stronger, faster killing machine.

Everyone else is fodder, destined to fight and die in the endless war.

Young, gift-less Tau knows all this, but he has a plan of escape. He’s going to get himself injured, get out early, and settle down to marriage, children, and land. Only, he doesn’t get the chance.

Those closest to him are brutally murdered, and his grief swiftly turns to anger. Fixated on revenge, Tau dedicates himself to an unthinkable path. He’ll become the greatest swordsman to ever live, a man willing to die a hundred thousand times for the chance to kill the three who betrayed him.

The Rage of Dragons launches a stunning and powerful debut epic fantasy series that readers are already calling “the best fantasy book in years.

The Rage of Dragons is available now as an ebook. The hardcover edition will be published on July 16, 2019. Preorder now.

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Building a Cover (with a Goat): Saad Z. Hossain’s The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Hosting cover reveals is always a treat—but especially when we’re talking about books from Tor.com Publishing. As a primarily digital-first imprint, they are a nimble, fast-moving young buck among the slow and stately elk of the publishing world. That is to say, they aren’t afraid to try new things with their covers, and we are here for it.

Today, we’re thrilled to give you a peek into the cover development process for one of their most eagerly awaited 2019 releases, Saad Z. Hossain’s The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday. This novella-length work from the author of the acclaimed novel Djinn City is part futuristic sci-fi, part mythological adventure, and part buddy comedy, and it sounds entirely awesome.

The book’s editor, Jonathan Strahan, certainly makes us eager to read it: “Unlimited sex, booze, and world-altering power! You’d think life would be great, but when the great djinn Melek Ahmar wakes after an uninterrupted nap of a few thousand years he finds things are far more difficult than he’d expected. A not-too-far future story of a climate-changed world set in a city where everyone seems to get exactly what they deserve, but told as a rollicking buddy adventure with an increasingly worried djinn and a flint-eyed and possibly crazy Gurkha? I was floored by it and I think you will be too. It’s funny, engaging, and filled with action and adventure. Above all though, it’s a team up for the ages.”

Assembling a cover that would encompass all this madness would prove to be a challenge. Tor.com Publishing’s Associate Art Director (and hands-on designer) Christine Foltzer knew just who to turn to: artist Eric Nyquist, who created the iconic covers and endpapers for Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy.

When I was reading the manuscript for The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday I knew we needed to hire someone who could capture not only this incredible, unique world of this futuristic, hi-tech Kathmandu, but also the fun and playful tone of the story and its characters,” Foltzer said. 

Nyquist brought his talent for intricate line drawings to his proposed cover sketches for The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday, which offered a range of less and more complex and detailed designs—though as sketches, they only hint at what you’ll see in the final cover…

The team concluded that the second layout—the one with a goat in the bottom right corner—was the winner. With the basics of the layout locked down, Nyquist created the final version, filling in the details hinted at in the text annotations above, and handed them off to Christine Foltzer. We think you’ll agree that together, they created something truly special:

Dang. Right?

“Eric’s art, with its bright colors, intricate line drawing, and the way it interacts with the typography is perfect,” Foltzer said. “I feel like every time I look at it I find another detail I didn’t see before. He gave us so many sketches and options, we could only share a few of them here, and it was so hard to choose between them all.

The author was pleased, to say the least. “The cover is just brilliant,” Hossain said. “I pictured Kathmandu as a magical gem in the future, and that’s exactly what we got—a wonderland of towers and pagodas and gardens hanging in spheres, a portrait of endless detail. And of course, there’s the goat.”

“Ultimately we wanted a cover that is as fun to look at as the book is to read,” said Irene Gallo, publisher and art director of the imprint. “Eric and Christine nailed it. Saad’s story takes the ancient tradition of djinn stories and slams it head-on into a science fiction world, [and the cover reflects that]. Also, who doesn’t love a cover with a goat on it!? ”

Here’s a bit more about the book, in the form of the official summary:

When the djinn king Melek Ahmar wakes up after millennia of imprisoned slumber, he finds a world vastly different from what he remembers. Arrogant and bombastic, he comes down the mountain expecting an easy conquest: the wealthy, spectacular city state of Kathmandu, ruled by the all-knowing, all-seeing tyrant AI Karma. To his surprise, he finds that Kathmandu is a cut-price paradise, where citizens want for nothing and even the dregs of society are distinctly unwilling to revolt.

Everyone seems happy, except for the old Gurkha soldier Bhan Gurung. Knife saint, recidivist, and mass murderer, he is an exile from Kathmandu, pursuing a forty-year-old vendetta that leads to the very heart of Karma. Pushed and prodded by Gurung, Melek Ahmer finds himself in ever deeper conflicts, until they finally face off against Karma and her forces. In the upheaval that follows, old crimes will come to light and the city itself will be forced to change.

Preorder The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday, available August 13, 2019.

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After the Conspiracy: Alexandra Rowland’s A Choir of Lies Revealed

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Last year, Alexandra Rowland’s debut novel A Conspiracy of Truths wowed us with an intricate story of political subterfuge and made us giggle with (and gasp at the sheer audacity of) its foul-mouthed, story-spinning protagonist Chant, who, from a prison cell, threatened to bring down a kingdom using only the power of his words. A fantasy for the era of fake news, the novel explores how much power we place in stories—the ones we tell each other, and the ones we’d like to believe about ourselves.

This fall, Rowland returns to this word-spun world in A Choir of Lies, picking up the tale three years later to examine the repercussions of Chant’s deeds through the eyes of his young apprentice.

Today, we’re pleased to reveal the cover for the sequel, every bit as gorgeous (and hiding just as many secrets) as that of the first volume. The center artwork is by Ryan Begley, with design by Nicholas Sciacca. Check it out below the official summary.

Three years ago, Ylfing watched his master-Chant tear a nation apart with nothing but the words on his tongue. Now he’s all alone somewhere new, broken-hearted and grieving but a Chant in his own right, employed as a translator to Sterre de Waeyer, a wealthy merchant of luxury goods, while he struggles to come to terms with what his master did, with the audiences he’s been alienated from, and with the stories he can no longer trust himself to tell.

That is, until Ylfing’s employer finds out what he is, what he does, and what he knows. At Sterre’s command, he begins telling stories once more, fanning the city into a mania for a few shipments of an exotic flower. The prices skyrocket, but when disaster looms – a disaster that only the two of them recognize – Ylfing has to face what he has done and decide who he wants to be: A man who walks away and lets the city shatter, as his master did? Or… something else?

A story can be powerful enough to bring a nation to its knees, certainly. But in the right hands, a story can rebuild a broken dam, keep the floodwaters back, and save a life – or ten thousand lives.

Art by Ryan Begley, design by Nicholas Sciacca

A Choir of Lies will be released in September 2019. A Conspiracy of Truths is available now.

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Myths Made Modern: Announcing The Mythic Dream, a New Anthology from the Creators of The Starlit Wood

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe are the genius editing minds behind two of the most acclaimed anthologies of recent years. The Starlit Wood, a collection of new and reimagined fairy tales, was winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, a finalist for numerous other honors, and the place of first publication for Amal El-Mohtar’s Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-winning story “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” as well as “Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik, later expanded into the bestselling novel of the same name.  Six of the entries in last year’s Robots vs. Fairies (which is… pretty much what it sounds like: a volume of stories in which authors were asked to pick a side between the magical and the mechanical) are on the 2018 Locus recommended reading list (as is the anthology as a whole).

Naturally, we’ve been excited to see what the partnership of Wolfe & Parisien has in store for us next… and now we know.

Today we are pleased to announce the immanent arrival of The Mythic Dream, which, like The Starlit Wood, makes old stories new again. It is billed as an anthology of reimagined myths: 18 stories that are “bold reimaginings of the stories we tell about gods and kings, heroes who shaped nations.”

Below, we’ve provided a first look at the cover, with art by Serena Malyon and design by Michael McCartney, as well the complete lineup of contributing authors. But first, here’s the official summary…

These are dreams of classic myths, bold reimaginings of the stories we tell about gods and kings, heroes who shaped nations, the why and how of the world.

Journey with us to the fields of Elysium and the Midwest, through labyrinths and the space between stars. Witness the birth of computerized deities and beasts that own the night. Experience eternal life through curses and biochemistry.

Bringing together stories from the world over, eighteen critically acclaimed and award-winning authors reimagine myths of the past for the world of today, and tomorrow.

The collection will feature stories by the following all-star authors:

John Chu
Leah Cypess
Indrapramit Das
Amal El-Mohtar
Jeffrey Ford
Sarah Gailey
Carlos Hernandez
Kat Howard
Stephen Graham Jones
T. Kingfisher
Ann Leckie
Carmen Maria Machado
Arkady Martine
Seanan McGuire
Naomi Novik
Rebecca Roanhorse
JY Yang
Alyssa Wong

The Mythic Dream will be published August 27, 2019.

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Love Locke Lamora? Meet Walter Jon Williams’ Quillifer the Knight

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

In 2017, we declared Walter Jon Williams’ Quillifer “the most fun you’ll have reading epic fantasy all year,” and we stand by that claim: few entries in the genre are as equally well-imagined and cheeky as this period piece, which follows the titular upperclass lawyer-turned rogue after pirates attack his city and take everything he has.

Next year, the fun continues in the sequel, Quillifer the Knight, coming in October from Saga Press! Today, we’re showing off the cover, from artist Alejandro Colucci and art director Greg Stadnyk, and providing your first look at the plot description.

Find both below, and if you haven’t gotten around to it yet, pick up Quillifer. It’s really is a delight.

Travel the path between Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series, and Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind and you will find Walter Jon Williams’s Quillifer.

Quillifer, now a (minor) member of nobility, with some renown as a clever warrior, returns to court after two years away and finds himself further involved in politics and charged by the Queen with fighting off a dragon that has been razing the countryside of Duisland—what might be a chivalric suicide mission for any other knight.

All the while, the outcast princess Floria—Quillifer’s ex-lover—suddenly finds herself in a position of power via a rebellion stoked by a certain brilliant tactician as a long war, long war begins. But Quillifer has made his mark.

In this sequel, Williams, a New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, returns to his clever swashbuckling fantasy series Publishers Weekly called a “ sprawling, lively episodic adventure.”


Quillifer the Knight will be published in October 2019. Quillifer is available now in paperback.

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Explore the Weird Worlds of Kameron Hurley in Meet Me in the Future: Stories

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade is high on our list of most-anticipated 2019 books, and it certainly belongs on yours. It’s a time travel-meets-military science fiction novel from one of the genre’s brightest stars, and the advance word is even stronger than that which greeted her last novel, the fearless feminist space opera epic The Stars Are Legion; a fews months out from its March release, it has already received prestigious starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly.

But that’s not the only book Hurley’s legions of readers have to look forward to this year. This summer, she’s releasing her second short story collection, following on from 2017’s Apocalypse Nyx. Whereas that book featured only tales set in the continuity of her God’s War trilogy and starring the hard-as-nails title character, the badass bounty hunter Nyx, Meet Me in the Future: Stories ranges far wider and gets even weirder. Across 16 stories, you’ll meet a necromantic mercenary (“Elephants and Corpses”), a sartorial detective (“Garda,” previously published on this very blog), and, yes, time-traveling soldiers in a future war (the inspiration for the forthcoming novel of the same name, “The Light Brigade” originally appeared in Lightspeed Magazine).

Though some of them have appeared elsewhere, many of these stories were previously only available to “Hurley’s Heroes,” her affectionate nickname for her backers on Patreon. Taken together, they offer a remarkable sampling of one of the genre’s most valuable voices.

Today, we’re pleased to show off the cover of the collection, coming in August from Tachyon Publications. Check it out below the official summary, along with the complete table of contents, and preorder now.

“Kameron Hurley’s writing is the most exciting thing I’ve seen on the genre page.” —Richard K. Morgan, author of Altered Carbon

When renegade author Kameron Hurley (The Light Brigade; The Stars Are Legion) takes you to the future—be prepared for the unexpected. Yes, it will be dangerous, frequently brutal, and often devastating. But it’s also savagely funny, deliriously strange, and absolutely brimming with adventure.

In these edgy, unexpected tales, a body-hopping mercenary avenges his pet elephant, and an orphan falls in love with a sentient starship. Fighters ally to power a reality-bending engine, and a swamp-dwelling introvert tries to save the world—from her plague-casting former wife.

So come meet Kameron Hurley in the future. The version she’s created here is weirder—and far more hopeful—than you could ever imagine.


Of the cover, Hurley said, “I love it when a publisher really, truly gets what I’m doing as a writer. I had no idea how the braintrust at Tachyon was going to distill over a decade of what makes a Hurley story and put it on a cover. When they sent this one over to me I just typed: ‘YES THIS IS IT! THIS IS PERFECT!’ Those are the best cover consults, when you as the author just give a thumbs up and get back to work. I’ve been thrilled to work with Tachyon on this collection, and on Apocalypse Nyx before it. Fabulous folks who truly appreciate the work.”

Here is the collection’s table of contents:

An Introduction: Meet Me in The Future, by Kameron Hurley
“Elephants and Corpses”
“When We Fall”
“The Red Secretary”
“The Sinners and the Sea”
“The Women of Our Occupation”
“The Fisherman and the Pig”
“Garda”
“The Plague Givers”
“Tumbledown”
“Warped Passages”
“Our Faces, Radiant Sisters, Our Faces Full of Light!”
“Enyo-Enyo”
“The Corpse Archives”
“The War of Heroes”
“The Light Brigade”
“The Improbable War”

Preorder Meet Me in the Future: Stories, available August 20, 2019.

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Return to the Gemworld in The Fire Opal Mechanism

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

In The Jewel and Her Lapidarya Hugo, Nebula, and Locus best novelette nominee, and a 2016 LA Public Library best book—Fran Wilde introduced readers to a world of hidden histories, warring kingdoms, magical gemstones, and the powerful Lapidaries who bind them.

This summer, Wilde returns to the Gemworld in The Fire Opal Mechanism. As the book opens, the last remaining gems have been bound—perhaps unwisely—into new settings, and the control of knowledge, and the binding of it, has fallen to a time-traveling librarian, a thief, and a printing press operator.

The Gemworld is a story cycle that begins with the scattering of the powerful gemstones of the Jeweled Valley across the six kingdoms of the world. From Lin and Sima’s rebellion in The Jewel and Her Lapidary, to the exploration of the dangerous powers of the “Topaz Marquise” in the same-titled short story (available as an ebook or on Tor.com), to the mysteries of “Ruby, Singing” (another short story published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, it is a world emerging in facets, and The Fire Opal Mechanism reveals yet more of them.

Today, we reveal the cover for the book, with art by Tommy Arnold (who also provided illustrations for Wilde’s Bone Universe trilogy and The Jewel and Her Lapidary). Find it below the official summary—followed by some thoughts from the author.

Jewels and their lapidaries and have all but passed into myth.

Jorit, broke and branded a thief, just wants to escape the Far Reaches for something better. Ania, a rumpled librarian, is trying to protect her books from the Pressmen, who value knowledge but none of the humanity that generates it.

When they stumble upon a mysterious clock powered by an ancient jewel, they may discover secrets in the past that will change the future forever.


“With the Gemworld, I want to tell stories about the human condition—about objectification and lost voices, about memory and hope for the future—that I think gemstones sometimes embody… at least these particular gemstones,” Wilde said. “Someday soon (very soon, I promise!) there will be a catalog of the gems, but until then, readers can collect their stories, and see their impact on their world, in these stories.”

As to her thoughts on the cover of the new book:

“I love in particular how Tommy Arnold has conveyed the connections with the cover of this novella,” she said. “The scene from the cover of The Jewel and Her Lapidary, where Lin and Sima are trapped by soldiers, seems to have evolved and escalated for these two new characters in a distant future—and that’s exactly what’s happened [to the Gemworld]. Tommy is a master of drawing the thematic threads from my stories and weaving them into the covers. ”

Preorder The Fire Opal Mechanism, available June 4, 2019.

The post Return to the Gemworld in The Fire Opal Mechanism appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

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Flogging Mollys: Revealing Tade Thompson’s The Survival of Molly Southbourne

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

In 2017, we thrilled at The Murders of Molly Southbourne, the novella-length debut from Tade Thompson (who later went on to wow us in longer form with the aliens-over-Nigeria thriller Rosewater). It’s a bloody horrific little story about a woman with a terrible affliction: every time she bleeds, she births a double of herself, identical in every way and more than eager to replace her by means of violence.

In the first book, Molly found an… unexpected way to cure herself, but it would appear the method didn’t take—or so we assume: this year, Molly returns in The Survival of Molly Southbourne, and today, we’re showing off the cover.

Find it below the official summary, and place your preorders for the book’s July 9 release.

Who was Molly Southbourne? What did she leave behind?

A burnt-out basement. A name stained in blood. Bodies that remember murder, one of them left alive. A set of rules that no longer apply.

Molly Southbourne is alive. If she wants to survive, she’ll need to run, hide, and be ready to fight. There are people who remember her, who know what she is and what she’s done. Some want her alive, some want her dead, and all hold a piece to the puzzles in her head. Can Molly escape them, or will she confront the bloody history that made her?

Cover photograph © Wojciech Zwolinski/Arcangel; cover design by Christine Foltzer

Preorder The Survival of Molly Southbourne, available July 9, 2019.

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A Grave Robber Is in Grave Danger in The Resurrectionist of Caligo

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

The Resurrectionist of Caligo is one of those books that sells itself on a single sentence: a grave robber finds himself on the run after being accused of murdering one of the corpses he’s dug up. Genius—especially once you add in a hint of macabre magic in the form of a princess schooled in blood magic.

It’s a combination that landed Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga’s co-written novel on our list of 25 debuts we can’t wait to read in 2019—and now that we’ve seen the gorgeous cover (from artist John Coulthart) and read an excerpt the first chapter, we’re even more confident this is going to be as fun as it sounds.

What’s that? You’d like to see the cover and read an excerpt too? Well, then keep scrolling! Below the official summary you’ll find both! The Resurrectionist of Caligo arrives September 10, and you can preorder the book now.

With a murderer on the loose, it’s up to an enlightened bodysnatcher and a rebellious princess to save the city, in this wonderfully inventive Victorian-tinged fantasy noir.

“Man of Science” Roger Weathersby scrapes out a risky living digging up corpses for medical schools. When he’s framed for the murder of one of his cadavers, he’s forced to trust in the superstitions he’s always rejected: his former friend, princess Sibylla, offers to commute Roger’s execution in a blood magic ritual which will bind him to her forever. With little choice, he finds himself indentured to Sibylla and propelled into an investigation. There’s a murderer loose in the city of Caligo, and the duo must navigate science and sorcery, palace intrigue and dank boneyards to catch the butcher before the killings tear their whole country apart.

Chapter One

Dolorous Avenue, where Caligo’s most venerable families were interred, descended trench-like into the ground, a sliver of sky visible through the encroaching flora. The ivy-sheathed family crypts stood in rows like townhouses. Flagstone paths lead to wrought-iron porticoes that shielded crypt doors from the weather. Tiny glowing ghostcandle mushrooms sprouted from chinks between the stones, and the statue of some long-dead queen clawed the air with marble fingers. Decades of rain had streaked sooty tears down her face.

Roger drew the garlic from his pocket. He tore off a clove, peeled it, and popped it in his mouth. Chewing slowly, he knelt before the metal door of the Smith crypt, then tossed another garlic clove at the statue for good measure. A decorative iron curlicue blocked the keyhole, meant to deter amateurs. Roger gave the obstruction a practiced twist and slid it aside.

“May the foul Caligo mists blacken my lungs long afore the were-beasts get me.” The sound of his voice banished fear – a little.

He glanced over his shoulder at the marble queen. Had she moved? Roger stood and approached her, watching her stone fingers as if they might conjure sparks, or fountains of ink, or whatever illusory faerie-rubbish the royals waved about as proof of their superiority.

“Poor jammy tartlet.” Roger passed a hand over her marble cheek. “Having to witness my transgressions. You won’t sell me out, will you, your highness?”

He gave a mock bow and retreated to the crypt door. Lifting a surgeon’s charm from beneath his shirt, he kissed the shard of skull embedded in pewter for luck. He selected a tension wrench and, working by feel, torqued the lock’s internal cylinder, then manipulated the tumbler pins with a diamond pick.

“May Reason drive out the hags and warlocks who sell their unicorn paste on Mouthstreet to the unschooled masses,” he whispered. The internal mechanism clicked. Close. So close. And then…

Pang. Pang. Pang.

Roger froze. Metal struck metal – three times, then silence.

“I refuse,” he whispered as cold sweat dribbled down his forehead, “as a man of science to acknowledge witchcraft, spirits, vampyres, polterghosts, goblins, fae, volcanic subdragons, saint-sprites, mermaids, miracles–”

Pang. Pang. Pang.

The sound came from Roger’s right. Shadows enveloped the portico. Behind him, he could make out the gray, rain-washed cobbles of Dolorous Avenue and the silhouette of the stone queen.

A faint blue light floated in the dark before his eyes. His stomach twisted.

Wary of watchmen, Roger hadn’t bothered with a light. Now, arrest by a flesh-and-blood man seemed almost… welcoming. Roger fumbled in his pocket for a candle. He struck frantically with his flint and iron, struggling to light the damp tinder, then the wick. At last the flame flared up.

With a shaking hand, Roger raised the candle toward the shadows. He nearly fainted at the sight. A child swayed in the far corner, a pale girl-like thing in a puff of white nightdress. Her hands clasped a bouquet of glowing mushrooms – the hovering light. Her white sliver of neck ended in a blob of darkness. No head, no face.

The candle rolled from Roger’s fingers. “By the Lady’s nethers!” He couldn’t rise from his knees, nor unclasp his hands.

Whaaaaaatddddiiiiidyouuuuuubringmeeeeeeee???

Roger pressed his palms to his face. Garlic oil coated his fingertips. He pulled the second bulb from his pocket, lobbed it at where the girl-thing’s head should have been, then grabbed the candle. It hadn’t gone out.

The being crouched and caught the garlic bulb when it bounced off the wall. A face like a half moon appeared above her neck, as if she’d swung back a mop of dark hair. Her mouth made a thin line. No eyes, just black holes.

Hottttttttcroossssssssbuuuuuunssssss

She tore at the garlic, defying all that superstitious nonsense of its protective qualities. A clove hit his shoulder. His chin. His eye. He heard a shriek. Her? Or himself?

Roger lurched to his feet. His head smacked a curl of wrought-iron lattice. The holes in the being’s face filled his vision. All went dark.

 

Garlic – strong and fresh – tickled his nose. He felt ill.

“You ain’t dead.” A voice. A girl’s voice, lit with annoyance but otherwise normal. “If your legs work now, then run. Afore I fetch someone bigger.”

Roger lay on his back. He struggled to sit up. A girl crouched over him holding the candle. He wiped crushed garlic from his upper lip, blinking. She was a normal-looking girl with a soaked, otherwise normal-looking face.

“See?” she said. “I washed off the flour an’ the coal. You ain’t being hauled off to hell just yet.”

“That were… you?”

“I like scaring scoundrels, not killing ’em. But breaking locks, grave robbing and such, you near deserve it. Besides, I saw the prison brand on your neck. Get nabbed again, and you’ll hang.”

Roger Weathersby, man of science, faced with this more-or-less logical explanation for his paranormal experience, laughed. It hurt. His head throbbed. Self-consciously he retied his neckcloth to cover the black, crenellated wall tattoo that marked him as an ex-convict. Warm blood plastered his hair to his forehead. “So what,” he said at last. “You the caretaker’s lass or some such?”

The girl thrust the candle flame at Roger’s nose. “A minute ago you was begging for mercy. I won’t let you forget it. Who am I? My mother is a night-walking pixie and Queen of Crumpets. I work in a laundry during the day while she sleeps, and at night she turns into a faerie. She brings me hot cross buns.”

She paused. “What’s that look for? You think I’m mad?”

“You mean your mother is a street-walking doxy and Queen of Strumpets, right? She lets the dead watch you while her room is busy, eh? Got a cozy nest in a hollowed-out crypt somewhere? Smart lady, your mother.” Roger had apprenticed for an undertaker and seen what could befall a nine year-old girl fending for herself on the streets.

Preorder The Resurrectionist of Caligo, available September 10, 2019.

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History Twists in The Last Tsar’s Dragon by Jane Yolen

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

As the author of well more than 300 books—many of them in the genres we all love best—Jane Yolen is a veritable institution in sci-fi and fantasy, and yet any new book from her warrants excitement for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that you never know quite what to expect when you crack one of them open (her most recent is a novella-length prose poem about a contemporary Baba Yaga).

Today, we’re happy to bring you news—and the cover—for one of her next releases. Co-written with her regular collaborator (and son) Adam Stemple (Singer of Souls), The Last Tsar’s Dragon is a fantastical alternate history that brings dragons into the true story of the waning days of the Russian monarchy.

Check out the official summery below, followed by the cover, with art by Elizabeth Story and design by Anabelle Gerardy Design.

It is the waning days of the Russian monarchy. A reckless man rules the land and his dragons rule the sky. Although the Tsar continues to send his reign of fire to scorch his enemies—Jews and Bolsheviks—instead he lays waste to his entire country.

Even dragons are cannot quell the conspiracies arising around the Tsar, from the ranks of the oppressed, political operatives, and one nameless functionary watching power slip away. Even the Tsar’s foreign-born wife believes that his tactics are tantamount to evil. But revolution is in the air—and the Red Army is hatching its own weapons.

Discover the crux of Russian history as it is radically and entertainingly re-imagined by dynamic writing team Jane Yolen (The Emerald Circus) and Adam Stemple.

Preorder The Last Tsar’s Dragon, available June 19, 2019.

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