A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms...

Almost a century before A GAME OF THRONES, two unlikely heroes wandered Westeros… A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS compiles the first three official prequel novellas to George R.R. Martin’s ongoing masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire. Before Tyrion Lannister and Podrick Payne there was Dunk and Egg. A young, naïve but courageous hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall towers above his rivals – in stature if not experience. Tagging along with him is his diminutive squire, a boy called Egg – whose true identity must be hidden from all he and Dunk encounter: for in reality he is Aegon Targaryen, and one day he will be king. Improbable heroes though they be, great destinies lay ahead for Dunk and Egg; as do powerful foes, royal intrigue, and outrageous exploits. A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS brings together for the first time the first three official prequel novellas to George R.R. Martin’s ongoing masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire, set in an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living memory. Featuring more than 160 illustrations by Gary Gianni, one of the finest fantasy artists of our time, this beautiful volume will transport readers to the world of the Seven Kingdoms in an age of bygone...

Creating a World by Anna Smith Spark Jul04

Creating a World by Anna Smith Spark...

When I came to write The Court of Broken Knives, it was the world that came first, not the story. The story, in fact, is pretty simple, in the way that myths and folk tales often are. The first scene I wrote was a description of men in a desert, and violence, and they were travelling towards a great city, and that city was every fantasy city I have ever loved. Why they were travelling, what the purpose of this journey was and what would happen to them when they got there, was at first unimportant. But the joy of writing the desert … Of writing the city … Of writing a world …   In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree: Where Alph, the sacred river, ran Through caverns measureless to man    Down to a sunless sea. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan   The wonder of it. Marvels. Magic. Beauty. The dream of things so far beyond mundane reach. To enter a world that is not our own. Of course I enjoy the plot twists, the characters, the action. But it’s the evocation of other worlds that love most about fantasy as a genre. I want to wallow in another world, immerse myself in it, drown in it. I read fantasy like I read travel writing – to be there, to see it, to be removed from my own tedious time and place.   The unpurged images of day recede; The Emperor’s drunken soldiery are abed; Night resonance recedes, night-walkers’ song After great cathedral gong; A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains All that man is, All mere complexities, The fury and the mire of human veins. William Butler Yates, Byzantium   It was important to me in creating Irlast that...

Hero Risen: Guest blog from Andy Livingstone Jun21

Hero Risen: Guest blog from Andy Livingstone...

  The safety valve for our darker selves Cricket with my parents and brother on baking-hot days in a park on holiday in Blackpool. Tennis, with my dad pretending I was as good as him and, in later years, with my brother proving I was not. Rugby at school, hockey after leaving it. Karate, Muay Thai, Table-tennis, snooker, swimming – anything at all, I threw myself into it throughout my childhood and into adult life. Usually with a consistently average ability, but always with an excess of enthusiasm. And football, football, football. Always football. Standing at Fir Park to watch Willie Pettigrew and Joe Wark play for Motherwell and switching on the TV to see Joe Jordan and Billy Bremner play for Scotland and Johan Cruyff and George Best just, well, play as only they could. Then imagining I was them: battering a ball in the garden with my brother, sneaking onto the college playing fields with my friends in the holidays, running about the wing for the Boys’ Brigade football team while pretending I knew what I was doing. Even now, I drag myself out onto the five-a-sides pitch with the enthusiasm of a 10-year-old and the fitness of a 49-year-old. Always football, always sport, always loving it. But I had asthma. So there was reading, too, and that became the other love as I grew up. I would run about until my lack of breath told me it was a bad idea, and then lose myself in someone else’s world. It became what I did. It became me. So there is no surprise that sport has an influence in my books, too. Not in the sense that my characters indulge in a spot of table tennis or shoot some hoops from time...

An exclusive message from Robin Hobb Apr27

An exclusive message from Robin Hobb...

I dedicated Assassin’s Fate to Fitz and the Fool. They’ve been my closest friends for over twenty years. That’s not to denigrate my marriage of forty-six years, or the friendships that reach back to my high school. The characters we write live inside our minds, creating an internal friendship that is difficult to explain to non-writers. I’ve never heard my characters speak aloud, never seen the Fool juggle or watched Fitz impassively shed the blood that demanded to flow. Yet over the past twenty years, I’ve spent more hours in their company than in anyone else’s. When I first began writing Fitz and the Fool, my writing desk was in the laundry room, in an old house with plank floors. When the washer went into a spin, I’d dive for the computer and hold it steady lest the hard drive malfunction. I often wrote late at night, in darkness save for my old desk lamp and the green letters glowing on my black screen. All was quiet, the kids in bed, only frogs creaking outside. But both Fitz and the Fool were there, the Fool sitting cross-legged on the dryer, mocking and contradicting us.  Fitz leaned against the doorframe, talking in his soft, deep voice, always trying to explain his life to himself, puzzled as he looked back at his decisions, shaking his head over who he had been. Yet all of us knew that who he had been had already determined his future. Every new set of events built on what had gone before. From the start, we all knew what was to come. Just as the Fool looked forward, seeing a myriad of possible futures, and choosing a path, so I wrote forward, reaching toward events that had already happened to Fitz,...

Assassin’s Fate 2017 Tour Dates! Apr12

Assassin’s Fate 2017 Tour Dates!...

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A Letter from Mark Lawrence Apr10

A Letter from Mark Lawrence...

  Red Sister contains a very different story to that in my debut, Prince of Thorns, or my next trilogy starting with Prince of Fools.   When I brought Jorg Ancrath’s story to a close I made it clear that I didn’t want to be wedded to one character for the whole of my writing career, and if moving away from him gambled that career then so be it. Jalan Kendeth was about as different from Jorg as it is possible to be in terms of character. But he was still a young prince in the Broken Empire.   Just as I wasn’t prepared to be tied indefinitely to the same character it turns out that after six books in the same world I wanted a change from that too.   Nona Grey, the lead in the Book of the Ancestor trilogy, lives in a very different world to that in which the Broken Empire sits. The people are different, the land is different, the magic is different, even the sun isn’t the same colour.   The writing style has also changed. My previous books were told to the reader by the protagonist, seen through their eyes, and offered an armchair seat in the mind of the prince in question. They were written in the first person. Nona’s tale is told in the third person form used in the majority of fiction. It offers a less claustrophobic feel to the story.   Nona’s adventure sprung from my question – what sort of cover would Prince of Thorns have been given if it were titled Princess of Thorns, and instead of a Mark I was credited as a Mary? My editor sent me a piece of artwork of a dangerous looking young woman with a...

Red Sister is coming! Out tomorrow! Apr05

Red Sister is coming! Out tomorrow!...

  “If you wish to know what someone is made of you must squeeze them until it shows.”   In the Convent of Sweet Mercy Abbess Glass and her sisters apply pressure to the girls placed in their care. They find out what their novices are made of and train each according to their nature.   The world beyond the convent is wider, but not by so very much. Abeth circles a red and dying star. Its original inhabitants left millennia ago when the ice began to cover the globe. The people who replaced them are now hemmed within a corridor that encircles the world but that in no place leaves more than fifty miles clear between the northern ice cliffs and the southern.   Humanity’s ancestors left them a gift. An artificial moon that focuses the sun’s light and every night battles the advance of the ice. But that war is being lost. The many nations of the Corridor are being squeezed. Each year sees more people and less land. And those people are showing what they’re made of.   In such a harsh world children are often sold by families that cannot feed them. The more discerning purchasers look for signs of the old bloods. Four tribes beached their ships on Abeth and when their blood shows true it brings rare talents. Such children can grow impossibly huge or fast, or find strange magics at their fingertips. Such children are valuable. Nona Grey is purchased for just these reasons from a mother eager to sell.   That nations will go to war under such circumstances in inevitable, but the pressure is not just upon empires but on each institution and each person within those institutions. As Nona grows she finds conflict on...

A Ripple in the Glass by A. F. E. Smith Mar27

A Ripple in the Glass by A. F. E. Smith...

Every book holds up a mirror to the world, and to humanity. Sometimes the reflection shows us as we are. Sometimes it shows us as we might be. Fantasy is particularly good at this, I think, because it puts a ripple in the glass. That ripple changes the reflection, makes it show a world that’s different from the one we know; yet at the same time, it can make certain aspects of what it means to be human stand out more prominently. If you want to know what courage means, or friendship, or love (or, if you tend towards a pessimistic view of human nature, hate and cruelty and destruction) then fantasy is as good a place to look as anywhere. And always – consciously or unconsciously – what’s shown in the mirror of any book reflects the biases and beliefs, the hopes and fears, of the author who created it. Windsinger is the most personal book I’ve ever written. That’s partly because when I wrote it, I was in a dark and difficult place. I’d sunk gradually into depression. Mild depression, to be sure – high-functioning depression, in that I could still go to work and be a parent and put on a mask that said I was fine – but depression nonetheless. If you have any experience with such conditions, you’ll know that they’re far easier to fall into than to claw your way back out from. You’ll also know that depression and creativity do not sit well together. I thought I was useless. I thought everything I did was useless. I would sit and stare at the screen, wondering what on earth was the point of trying to complete this book when I was so obviously a second-rate writer with nothing...

How to be a good supporting cast member – A guest post from Peter Newman about The Vagrant and the City Feb27

How to be a good supporting cast member – A guest post from Peter Newman about The Vagrant and the...

It was an interesting challenge writing this story. It had to: • Be a complete narrative on its own while fitting into the overall arc of the trilogy. • Reveal something interesting about the characters but nothing so important that readers would need it to understand the main books. • Be fun to read! At its worst, a secondary story (or DLC in a story based game) can feel empty and pointless, where you meet a bunch of watered down secondary characters and follow stories that are so removed from the main plot as to seem irrelevant. The trick seems to be to deepen the experience for the reader, allowing them to enjoy the other books in a richer way, without damaging the main stories for those who haven’t read the shorter works. I feel like the comics do this sort of thing on a near daily basis, with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series being a standout example, where a number of smaller human stories (each complete narratives) feed into the greater mythos of Dream and the Endless. Often, Dream is a pivotal but secondary character in these stories. Another example that comes to mind is the Mass Effect series. There are three games (that function like a trilogy), and each has DLC that provides extra content and adventures. One of my favourite bits of DLC was the Lair of the Shadow Broker mission. Not only did it include some dramatic locales, but there were was a reveal about one of the secondary characters that changed my relationship with the third game. I also feel like I’d be a bad human not to mention The Split Worlds short stories by *cough* Emma Newman. There are over 50 shorts that focus mostly on the minor characters...

Jimmy and the Crawler...

The Crawler: a name whispered in fear… In the crime-ridden back alleys of Krondor a rival gang has sprung up to threaten the Upright Man’s Mockers. Does the Crawler control the rival gang? Where does his power come from? And does it threaten the peace of the Kingdom? James, personal squire to Prince Arutha of Krondor, but in the underworld known as the thief and trickster Jimmy the Hand, must travel to Kesh in disguise. There, working with William, lieutenant of the prince’s household guard and son of the magician Pug, and Jazhara, niece to the Keshian lord Hazara-Khan, he must attempt to unmask the mysterious Crawler and rid Krondor of his...

Royal Assassin

Honesty is the bedrock for any relationship. But how can Fitz – royal bastard, trainee assassin, holder of secrets crucial to the security of the kingdom – bare his soul to his beloved Molly? Danger lies all around him – from the raiders savaging the coastal towns, and from within the court. The king has been struck down by a mystery illness and his eldest son, Verity, is bound up in the defence of the realm. When Verity leaves the court in search of the mythical Elderlings, Fitz finds himself friendless apart from his wolf, Nighteyes, and the king’s strange, motley-clad fool, exposed to Prince Regal’s malign ambitions. He will be asked to sacrifice everything – his heart, his hope, even his life – for the sake of the...

A Dance with Dragons (Enhanced Edition)...

Stay on top of the epic story lines with annotations, glossaries, and family trees. Follow each main character’s journey with interactive maps. Explore the symbolism of every house’s sigil. In addition to hundreds of enhancements, you’ll find an excerpt of The Winds of Winter, the hugely anticipated sixth book in Martin’s series. The future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance—beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys’ claim to Westeros forever. Meanwhile, to the north Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice. In a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of...

The Vagrant and the City...

‘It’s a story that grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and refused to let go…’ Fantasy Faction

Red Sister

“I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin” At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist. But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of...

Red Sister

“I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin” At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist. But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse. Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive… A brilliant new series from the bestselling author of PRINCE OF...

Eleanor

1985 Agnes’s daughter Eleanor is six years old. She sharesher name with the grandmother she never knew andeverything else with her identical twin, Esmerelda. Butto Agnes, only Eleanor is a constant reminder of the past. 1993 After a dark event leaves her family in tatters, Eleanor,now fourteen, is left caring for her alcoholic mother,whose grief has torn her apart. But when Eleanor’sreality begins to unravel, she starts to lose her grip ontime itself, slipping from the present into strange otherlands where she’s in danger of losing herself altogether. Eleanor is the story of choices that ripple through timefar beyond the moment they’re made. And what happenswhen, just sometimes, bonds are so powerful they reachbeyond this world and into...

Players of the Game

Windsinger

The Malice

In the south, the Breach stirs. Gamma’s sword, the Malice, wakes, calling to be taken to battle once more. But the Vagrant has found a home now, made a life and so he turns his back, ignoring its call. The sword cries out, frustrated, until another answers. Her name is...

The Wheel of Osheim

All the horrors of Hell stand between Snorri Ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued. For Jalan Kendeth getting out alive and with Loki’s Key is all that matters. The key can open any lock and possession of it may enable Jal to to return to the three Ws that have been the core of his debauched life: wine, women, and wagering. But the Wheel of Osheim is turning ever faster and it will crack the world unless it’s stopped. When the end of all things looms, and there’s nowhere to run, even the worst coward must find new...