Meet a Space Princess on the Run in Polaris Rising

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Polaris Rising is the debut novel of Jessie Mahilik, a rip-roaring, romantic sci-fi adventure starring a rebellious princess with attitude to spare.

Today, we’re pleased to share a brief excerpt with you, courtesy of Harper Voyager. Check it out below the back cover summary, and pick up a copy today!

A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.

In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.

Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.

When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.

But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .

We wound through shabbier and shabbier neighborhoods until the plastech buildings were more boards and mud than plastech.

We circled the same block twice before Loch stopped behind the middle house on the block. He checked his com. “This is it,” he said. The house was dark, as were the two beside it. Either luck was with us or the occupants knew better than to let light escape.

I peered into the twilight while Loch opened the door. Nothing moved, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched.

“I think we should abort,” I whispered as soon as we were inside. Loch was a dark shape against the deeper darkness of the room.

“Why?” he asked.

“Just a feeling.”

To his credit, Loch didn’t scoff. “Five minutes?” he asked.

I nodded reluctantly. If someone was watching us, I doubted five minutes would make a ton of difference. But for us it could mean the difference between finding guns or going home empty-handed.

We moved quickly through the house. I set my com flashlight to the lowest setting and turned it on. It was hard to tell if the house had already been ransacked or if the people living here were just slobs.

Once we checked the house for occupants, Loch and I split up. I searched one bedroom while he searched the other. I found two well-used blaster pistols in the top of the closet, as well as a small cache of energy cells. No holsters, though, so I shoved one gun in my pocket and left the other out for Loch.

I was shoving energy cells into my other pockets when Loch entered the room. “Trouble,” he said. “You were right.”

I handed him the gun and ammo. “How bad?”

“Rockhurst’s men, at least a squad of six. We’ll have to split their attention. You should take your hood down.”

“They’ll never leave me alone if they know who I am.” I pulled out the pistol and loaded it. I had a feeling I was going to need it before the night was over. I tucked it back in my pocket. It wasn’t the safest way to carry it, but a better option didn’t present itself, so I went with what I had.

“But they also won’t shoot you in the back,” Loch said. It was hard to argue with that logic. “We’ll make it seem like you escaped from me. If they capture you, I’ll come for you,” he said. “You still owe me. Don’t do anything stupid.”

“You should’ve taken the money and run,” I said. “I tried to warn you.”

“Why? This is the most fun I’ve had in years,” Loch said. His eyes gleamed in the dark and I almost believed him. “We both go left then split at the next corner. You go right. You’re not going to be able to lose them in the crowd. Run hard and fast.”

“Be careful,” I said. “Your bounty doesn’t specify that they need to keep you alive.”

“But they will,” Loch said arrogantly. “Rockhurst won’t be able to resist parading me in front of the Consortium before he kills me. Ready?”

I wasn’t, not even close, but giving Richard time to move more men over here was not going to improve matters, so I nodded.

“Look like you’re fighting me without actually slowing us down,” Loch said. “Remember: left then right. Run like hell.”

“I got it. I’ll meet you back at the house or nearby.” I left my hood down and followed Loch when he grabbed my wrist and pulled me through the door.

Two men were in the alley across the street. One on the roof. Probably more I couldn’t spot. Two pistol blasts slammed into the side of our building close enough to heat the air before I heard my name shouted. The blasts stopped.

The men across the street moved to intercept, but Loch was already sprinting. I tugged on my arm and did my best to appear terrified. It wasn’t too difficult.

At the corner I realized that if I split from him, Loch would lose his human shield. I tried to follow him, but he hissed “Right!” at me and then darted left before the soldiers knew we were separating.

I swiped my left hand across the cuff around my right wrist, first inside to outside, then the opposite. I held my hand over the cuff for two seconds. It buzzed once.

My lungs burned and the cold air stabbed at my throat. The cuff pulsed and a wall to my left danced with a shower of electric sparks. These men hadn’t forgotten their stun pistols. And the cuff could only repel two more shots.

At the next corner, I pulled the gun from my pocket and spun. The man behind me was nearly a block away. I aimed and fired in one motion. The energy bolt went clean through his thigh. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting to hit, but he went down, so good enough.

I ducked behind the corner just before the second man could hit me with a stun pulse. I had to put distance between us then go to ground. I didn’t know how many men Richard had on-planet, but it couldn’t be enough to sweep an entire section of city or even the oblivious mercs living here would know something was up.

I kept my turns erratic so they couldn’t radio ahead for men to intercept me. These soldiers weren’t encumbered with heavy armor and they were in excellent physical shape. Outrunning them proved difficult.

Picking them off one at a time worked, but every time I stopped to aim at one, the others surged closer and I risked getting stunned. Since I’d surprised the first, I’d had a much more difficult time with the other three. I wounded one enough that he dropped back, but the final two were persistent as hell.

I hoped Loch was having better results.

Polaris Rising is available now. The sequel, Aurora Blazing, arrives in October.

The post Meet a Space Princess on the Run in Polaris Rising appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

Read an Exclusive Excerpt from Samantha Shannon’s Expansive Fantasy Epic The Priory of the Orange Tree

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Cover illustration by Ivan Belikov

In The Bone Season, the first book in her bestselling YA series of the same name, Samantha Shannon took us to a dystopian vision of England in the year 2059, but in her next novel, she’s building a new world from the ground up.

The Priory of the Orange Tree, which arrives on bookshelves February 26, 2019, is a fantasy in the classical sense: a massive epic (800 pages, plus, naturally, an appendix) set in an imagined world rife with heroes, villains, beauty, danger, palace intrigue, and—of course—dragons. It’s an entire trilogy’s worth of story packed into a single volume, and the advance buzz is deafening—in a starred review, Kirkus said it is a book “filled with legend, but also with satisfying twists that turn legend on its head.”

Today, we’re pleased to share with you an exclusive excerpt from the novel, which you’ll find below the official summary. The Priory of the Orange Tree is available for preorder now, and if you can heft it, we recommend a hardcover copy—the cover is a thing of beauty (and so shiny!).

A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction–but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

The excerpt follows.

He was masked, of course. They always were. Only a fool would trespass in the Queen Tower without ensuring his anonymity, and if he had gained access to the Privy Chamber, then this cutthroat was certainly no fool.

In the Great Bedchamber beyond, Sabran lay sound asleep. With her hair unbound and her lashes dark against her cheeks, the Queen of Inys would be a picture of repose. Tonight it was Roslain Crest who slept beside her.

Both were unaware that a shadow bent on slaughter moved closer by the moment.

When Sabran retired, the key to her most private space was left in the possession of one of her Ladies of the Bedchamber. Katryen Withy had it now, and she was in the Horn Gallery. The royal apartments were guarded by the Knights of the Body, but the door to the Great Bedchamber was not always watched. After all, there was only one key.

No risk of intrusion.

In the Privy Chamber—the last rampart between the royal bed and the outside world—the cutthroat looked over his shoulder. Sir Gules Heath had returned to his post outside, unaware of the threat that had stolen in while he was elsewhere. Unaware of Ead, concealed in the rafters, watching the cutthroat touch the door that would lead him to the queen. In silence, the intruder removed a key from his cloak and slid it into the lock.

It turned.

For a long time, he was still. Waiting for his chance.

This one was far more careful than the others. When Heath gave way to one of his coughing fits, the intruder cracked open the door to the Great Bedchamber. With the other hand, he unsheathed a blade. The same make of blade the others had used.

When he moved, so did Ead. She dropped in silence from the beam above him.

Her bare feet lit upon the marble.

As the cutthroat stepped into the Great Bedchamber, dagger aloft, she covered his mouth and drove her blade between his ribs.

The cutthroat bucked. Ead held fast, careful not to let a drop of blood spill on to her. When the body stilled, she lowered it to the floor and lifted his silk-lined visard, the same as all the others had worn.

The face beneath was all too young, not quite out of boyhood. Eyes like pondwater stared at the ceiling.

He was nobody she recognized. Ead kissed his brow and left him on the marble floor.

Almost the moment she moved back into the shadows, she heard a shout for help.

[space break]

The Sundial Garden drank in the morning light. Its paths were honeyed by the sun, and the roses that trimmed its lawns held a soft blush. It was watched over by the statues of the five Great Queens of the House of Berethnet, which stood on a lintel above the entrance to the nearby Dearn Tower. Sabran usually liked to take walks on days like this, arm in arm with one of her ladies, but today the paths were empty. The queen would be in no mood for a stroll when a corpse had been found so close to her bed.

Ead approached the Queen Tower. The woodvines that snaked up it were thick with purple blossom. She ascended the many stairs within and made her way to the royal apartments.

Twelve Knights of the Body, clad in gold-plated armor and green cloaks for the summer, flanked the doors to the Privy Chamber. Floriated patterns covered the vambraces, while the Berethnet badge took pride of place on their breastplates. They looked up sharply as Ead approached.

“Good morrow,” she said.

The moment of caution waned, and they stood aside for a Lady of the Privy Chamber.

Ead soon found Lady Katryen Withy, niece to the Duke of Fellowship. At four and twenty, she was the youngest and tallest of the three Ladies of the Bedchamber, possessed of smooth brown skin, full lips, and tightly curling hair of such a deep red it was almost black.

“Mistress Duryan,” she said. Like everyone else in the palace, she wore greens and yellows for summer. “Her Majesty is still abed.” Katryen glanced toward the doors. “There has been another intrusion. This time, the knave was far less of a blunderer. Not only did he reach the Great Bedchamber itself—he had a key to it.”

“The Great Bedchamber.” Ead hoped she looked shocked. “Then someone in the Upper Household has betrayed Her Majesty.” Katryen nodded. “We think he came up the Secret Stair. That would have allowed him to avoid most of the Knights of the Body and get straight into the Privy Chamber. And given that the Secret Stair has been sealed since—” She sighed. “The Serjeant Porter has been dismissed for his laxity. From now on, the door to the Great Bedchamber must never be out of sight.”

Ead nodded.

“Do not speak of the intrusion. Her Majesty does not wish to sow unease at court.”

“Of course.”

As she passed the guards a second time, Ead sliced her gaze over the blank slates of their faces.

She had long known that someone in the household was letting cutthroats into the palace. Now that someone had given them a key to reach the Queen of Inys while she slept.

Ead meant to find out who.

Preorder The Priory of the Orange Tree, available February 26.

The post Read an Exclusive Excerpt from Samantha Shannon’s Expansive Fantasy Epic The Priory of the Orange Tree appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

Next Summer, Terror Blooms in Paul Tremblay’s Growing Things

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

What kinds of horrors keep Stephen King up nights? If you’ve got the guts to find out, read the work of Paul Tremblay.

Tremblay’s novel A Head Full of Ghosts “scared the living hell out of me, and I’m pretty hard to scare,” King said. That goes a long way toward explaining why Tremblay has been anointed one of the new masters of horror, and why his work has picked up Bram Stoker and British Fantasy awards, among others. His stories and novels deal in subtle terrors that grow less so as the world cracks at their point of intrusion. They eat at you for weeks and months after reading, stuck into your memory like a barbed needle.

Though perhaps best-known for recent novels like Disappearance at Devil’s Rock and The Cabin at the End of the World (“Tremblay’s personal best,” per King), Tremblay has also won acclaim for his short fiction, republished in numerous “year’s best” anthologies. Next summer, fans and new converts alike can experience the sustained tension of Tremblay in short form in his next book, the collection Growing Things and Other Stories.

Around here, we’re big fans of the bad feelings the author has given us over the years (he’s appeared more than once on our annual lists of the best horror novels of the year), so we’re pleased to share with you today more details on the book, as well as an exclusive excerpt, taken from the story “The Thirteenth Tower.” Find it below the cover image and official summary, and prepare for a chilling summer: the book releases in July 2019 in hardcover from William Morrow.

The critically acclaimed author of The Cabin at the End of the World—which Stephen King heralded as “Tremblay’s personal best”—returns with Growing Things, a collection of short fiction showcasing his signature blend of psychological suspense, literary fiction, and horror.

In “The Teacher,” a Bram Stoker Award nominee for best short story, a student is forced to watch a disturbing video of a terrible event within a day care, only for the video to torment the lives of her and her classmates. Four men rob a pawn shop at gunpoint in “The Getaway,” but start to vanish, one-by-one, as they speed away from the crime scene. In “Swim Wants to Know If It’s as Bad as Swim Thinks,” a meth addict kidnaps her own daughter from her estranged mother as a giant monster may or may not be terrorizing the town.

Growing Things also features stories with ties to Tremblay’s previous novels. In the metafictional novella “Notes from the Dog Walkers,” the blogger Karen Brissette (last seen in A Head Full of Ghosts) deconstructs the horror genre while also telling a story that serves as a prequel to Disappearance at Devil’s Rock. “The Thirteenth Tower” follows Merry from A Head Full of Ghosts, who has published a tell-all memoir years after the events of the novel. And the title story, “Growing Things,” loosely related by one character to another in A Head Full of Ghosts, is told here in full for the first time.

Growing Things is an exciting glimpse into Paul Tremblay’s fantastically fertile imagination–a nerve-rending collection with much to offer Tremblay fans new and old.

An excerpt from “The Thirteenth Tower” follows.

To state the obvious, you look different. It’s no surprise twenty years later you’re no longer the precocious eight-year-old we all watched and rewatched in your six episodes of The Possession, the refurbished, extended twentieth-anniversary edition now streaming. Still, it’s shocking to see what you look like now as an adult. When the tell-all was announced only three weeks before the book could be purchased, we pored over the publicity shots of the adult you: Your super dark hair! No curls! And, gasp, you are not wearing glasses! Some of us have had a difficult time with the no-glasses thing. We read your horror blogs and columns and we discussed and dissected your pseudonym Karen Brissette and what it means and how you’ve changed and who you’ve become.

The new images won’t erase the old, Merry. They never will. You have to know that.

This morning I waited in line for ten hours to be one of the first into Hall C for your Q&A. The stage was huge and too far away from our seats so none of it seemed real. Could you even see any of us? Being on a stage is still a filter between you and your audience, between you and reality. That not-real vibe wasn’t helped by you and the Entertainment Weekly reporter (he of the big white teeth and handsome hair) being projected onto the jumbotron. I tried not to watch but it was distracting and insulting, frankly, like we could only understand or consume your message if you were on another fucking screen. I was so disappointed in the setup and it’s part of the reason why I’m in your hotel room now.

Many people have ascribed scurrilous motives for publishing a book that is ostensibly about the exploitation of your sister (including, obviously, the attempted exorcism) and the particulars of your unwitting role in the gruesome death of your family, and then making these glad-handing promotional appearances, but I’m not one of them. I trust your judgment and I truly care about you, Merry, and simply want to know more about you.

I thought it a savvy move on your part to begin the interview by announcing you’d donated your Comic Con appearance fee to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. We were yours pre-announcement and then we were really yours, not solely because of the generous gesture, but because you were so visibly uncomfortable and ill at ease. I don’t know if you’re aware, but when you mumbled through saying that the donation would be in your sister’s name, you literally squirmed in your chair, shifting your sitting position, folding and unfolding your legs. In that moment you were our Merry again.

Is that weird of me to say? Well, I know it’s weird of me to say, but how does hearing it make you feel?

You don’t answer me. We’re not in Hall C now and we’re standing across the hotel room from each other.

Preorder Growing Things and Other Stories, available July 2, 2019.

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