The Qwillery | category: Del Rey


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Kevin Hearne

Please welcome Kevin Hearne to The Qwillery. Ink & Sigil, a novel From the World of the Iron Druid Chronciles, was published by Del Rey on August 25, 2020.

Interview with Kevin Hearne

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery! We last chatted in 2011. Since then you have completed The Iron Druid Chronicles, started new series, and now have returned the world of The Iron Druid Chronicles. How has your writing process changed since Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles 1) was published? 

Kevin:  Hounded was completely pantsed, as they say, with no outline whatsoever. I stopped to research as needed as I figured things out. Now I write outlines and then skip around the book nonlinearly to make sure I'm productive every day and don't get stuck on an early chapter when a really fun chapter is waiting to be written. It allows me to draft much quicker than writing from beginning to end with no idea of how it will turn out. 

TQ:  Why have you returned to the World of the Iron Druid Chronicles with Ink & Sigil? 

Kevin:  I love the world, basically, where all religions, all pantheons are real, the gods and monsters just out of our sight, and we have our modern accoutrements to distract us from what's really going on. 

TQ:  How does this new series fit in with The Iron Druid Chronicles? 

Kevin:  Al MacBharrais is a sigil agent, and they write and enforce magical contracts that have to do with the rights of gods and monsters to visit our world. The Iron Druid would occasionally do this work—kick demons back to hell or what have you—but there was a lot more work to be done than what a single Druid could handle, so Brighid made sigil agents to pick up the slack. 

TQ:  Describe Ink & Sigil using only 5 words. 

Kevin:  Whisky, magic, and wizard vans! 

TQ:  Tell us something about Ink & Sigil that is not found in the book description. 

Kevin:  Its very serious subject regards human trafficking, though it is primarily viewed through the lens of Fae trafficking. 

TQ:  Does Ink & Sigil touch on any social issues? 

Kevin:  It does. It tackles the widespread issue of human trafficking, and research for that was pretty harrowing. 

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Ink & Sigil. 


"A toast! Tae inks and sigils and straight razors, tae good bosses and wizards on lizards, tae outsmarting evil when ye can and kicking its arse when ye cannae do that, and tae distillers of fine spirits everywhere. Sláinte!"

TQ:  Thank you for joining us again at The Qwillery!

Ink & Sigil
From the World of the Iron Druid Chronicles
Del Rey, August 25, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Kevin Hearne
New York Times bestselling author Kevin Hearne returns to the world of his beloved Iron Druid Chronicles in a spin-off series about an eccentric master of rare magic solving an uncanny mystery in Scotland. 

“Ink & Sigil is escape reading, and I loved every word.”—Charlaine Harris, New York Times bestselling author of A Longer Fall 

Al MacBharrais is both blessed and cursed. He is blessed with an extraordinary white moustache, an appreciation for craft cocktails—and a most unique magical talent. He can cast spells with magically enchanted ink and he uses his gifts to protect our world from rogue minions of various pantheons, especially the Fae. 

But he is also cursed. Anyone who hears his voice will begin to feel an inexplicable hatred for Al, so he can only communicate through the written word or speech apps. And his apprentices keep dying in peculiar freak accidents. As his personal life crumbles around him, he devotes his life to his work, all the while trying to crack the secret of his curse. 

But when his latest apprentice, Gordie, turns up dead in his Glasgow flat, Al discovers evidence that Gordie was living a secret life of crime. Now Al is forced to play detective—while avoiding actual detectives who are wondering why death seems to always follow Al. Investigating his apprentice’s death will take him through Scotland’s magical underworld, and he’ll need the help of a mischievous hobgoblin if he’s to survive.

About Kevin

Interview with Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne
hugs trees, pets doggies, and rocks out to heavy metal. He also thinks tacos are a pretty nifty idea. He is the author of The Seven Kennings series and the New York Times bestselling series The Iron Druid Chronicles, and co-author of The Tales of Pell with Delilah S. Dawson.

Twitter @Kevin Hearne

Photo © Kimberly Hearne

Interview with Micaiah Johnson, author of The Space Between Worlds

Please welcome Micaiah Johnson to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Space Between Worlds was published on August 4, 2020 by Del Rey.

Interview with Micaiah Johnson, author of The Space Between Worlds

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Micaiah:  Noooo, it’s so embarrassing! My grandma had an electric typewriter and I definitely wrote a story where my dogs were detectives who had to solve a chicken’s murder.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Micaiah:  I am a pantser in denial. I will forever be “about to start” outlining.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Micaiah:  You know that news article about the horse who pretends to be dead every time it has to give someone a ride? That’s me with editing. It’s an essential and unavoidable part of my job, and I *hate* it. It’s like listening to my own voice. It’s so painful.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Micaiah:  Everything. I see so much of what has surrounded me manifest in my work. It’s not just what I’ve read – though a childhood spent trapped in the car with my grandmother’s murder mystery audiobooks definitely accounts for my love of twists – it’s my desert upbringing mixed with every late-night bar conversation I’ve ever had mixed with that three-legged cat I petted one time. It’s so exciting to be on the third or fourth read-through and suddenly realize “holy crap, I’m describing my second grade teacher’s house” or something.

TQDescribe The Space Between Worlds using only 5 words.

Micaiah:  Girl dies tons, has adventure.

TQTell us something about The Space Between Worlds that is not found in the book description.

Micaiah:  The House! One of my favorite parts about this world is how the sex providers operate as a community resource, which is a spin on how essential these establishments actually were during the “wild” west period.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Space Between Worlds?

Micaiah:  Because of my failure at outlining, I often write toward images. For this book, the image I had was someone walking through the desert and coming upon their own face. I was captivated by it. The desert is such a lonely place. The plant life is low and sparse, so you can never delude yourself that there is anyone around you. You are alone, and you utterly know it. Imagine being in that setting and finally coming up on another human, and that human is you. Their face is your face. Are you still alone? Does this count? I kind of started from there and went off.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Space Between Worlds?

Micaiah:  Tons, and all entirely outside of my field. I owe so much to Brian Greene, Carlo Rovelli, and Michio Kaku for being the kind of very smart scientists whose writing is also accessible enough for a lit major to learn something from it.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Space Between Worlds.

Micaiah:  The breathtaking American cover for the book is actually an oil painting by artist Cassandre Bolan, and the moment I found out she was my artist I was stoked. I remember her website saying something along the lines of, “I create strong women in fantasy to inspire strong women in reality” and I was instantly like “gimmie gimmie I need it!” I knew featuring two queer women of color on the cover would be audacious, but I couldn’t have predicted it would be so beautiful.

TQIn The Space Between Worlds who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Micaiah:  Exlee was both! I loved writing Exlee, but I also know them and deeply wanted to get them right which paralyzed me. What (very) little nonbinary representation we get is often Eurocentric: straight-bodied white people in monochrome vests. And that is absolutely valid as a nonbinary expression, but it’s not the only valid expression, and pretending it is leaves out cultures where gender expression is more bombastic. Trying to tackle this character with that in mind was a ton of joy and a lot of pressure.

TQDoes The Space Between Worlds touch on any social issues?

Micaiah:  Certainly, I think anytime you are talking about walls – like the walled city in my book – you are actually talking about borders and immigration. Likewise, anytime you are dealing with a super-advanced tech city of the future, you are also talking about Western capitalism and at what cost that advancement has been bought. I would argue that Science Fiction as a genre, by virtue of daring to imagine alternate futures, is always operating in the territory of social issues…even if by omission.

TQWhich question about The Space Between Worlds do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Micaiah:  “Was Dell based on Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice?” so I can scream “YES! YES! THANK YOU FOR NOTICING! YES!”

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Space Between Worlds.


“What they don’t tell you about getting everything you’ve ever wanted is the cold-sweat panic when you think about losing it. For someone who’s never had anything to lose, it’s like drowning, all the time”

“Killing should take longer than a heartbeat. Murder should be unignorable, always.”

TQWhat's next?

Micaiah:  I’m so torn about next steps. Part of me wants to spend more time in this world and with these characters, part of me wants to take a dramatic turn and write horror or a cookbook (which is just saying “horror” again, since I truly can’t cook). I can’t be trusted. I’m easily bored and impossible to satisfy.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Space Between Worlds
Del Rey, August 4, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Interview with Micaiah Johnson, author of The Space Between Worlds
An outsider who can travel between worlds discovers a secret that threatens the very fabric of the multiverse in this stunning debut, a powerful examination of identity, privilege, and belonging.

Gorgeous writingmind-bending world-buildingrazor-sharp social commentary, and a main character who demands your attention—and your allegiance.”—Rob Hart, author of The Warehouse

Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.

On this dystopian Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now what once made her marginalized has finally become an unexpected source of power. She has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.

But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.

“Clever characterssurprise twistsplenty of action, and a plot that highlights social and racial inequities in astute prose.”—Library Journal (starred review)

About Micaiah

Interview with Micaiah Johnson, author of The Space Between Worlds
Photo: © Rory Vetack
Micaiah Johnson was raised in California’s Mojave Desert surrounded by trees named Joshua and women who told stories. She received her bachelor of arts in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside, and her master of fine arts in fiction from Rutgers University–Camden. She now studies American literature at Vanderbilt University, where she focuses on critical race theory and automatons.

Twitter @micaiah_johnson

Interview with Simon Jimenez, author of The Vanished Birds

Please welcome Simon Jimenez to The Qwillery as part of the 2020 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Vanished Birds was published on January 14, 2020 by Del Rey.

Interview with Simon Jimenez, author of The Vanished Birds

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?

Simon:  When I was seven (eight?) I wrote a story called “The Time Machene” [sic]. It was about a cat that climbs a tornado like a ladder. What this has to do with the titular “machene” I couldn’t tell you, but it made perfect sense to my child brain.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Simon:  A hybrid. I usually start with the haziest suggestion of a plan, but that almost always gets tossed out while I’m in the thick of it. And after I’m done being a reckless idiot, I’ll come up with a new plan. And then toss that one out. I’ll do this a few times more before I reach the end of whatever I’m working on.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Simon:  Like for a lot of people, it’s filling up that blank page. The first draft neuroses. Getting over yourself and finally putting something down, so that you can do the actual work of revising.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Simon:  Books that I loved. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. And like most writers I suspect, a lot of my writing is powered by some base level fear and anxiety. Some unsettled thing. In this case, it was time and its inevitable passing.

TQDescribe The Vanished Birds using only 5 words.

Simon:  Time lost and love found.

TQTell us something about The Vanished Birds that is not found in the book description.

Simon:  There are sex scenes.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Vanished Birds? What appeals to you about writing Science Fiction?

Simon:  For a while I’d been daydreaming about the central relationship in the book between a starship captain and a quiet boy, and I knew at some point I would put that story to paper. But when I set out and started writing this book, the only prerequisite I had was that there had to be a non-stereotypical gay male character at the center of events, somewhere. That was the most important thing to me. The rest followed in the process of writing.

There are many things about science fiction that appeal to me. There is often a bigness to these types of stories, a feeling of standing at the fringe end of our understanding of reality and looking out. For this book, I wanted the texture and color of space opera. Big impossible constructions and reality bending forces that are almost synonymous with magic.

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Vanished Birds?

Simon:  Since the story is set so far into the future (about a thousand years) I had a lot of allowance to just make shit up, which is what I did, in earnest. I did light research for the chapter set in the near-future, on a too-warm earth; little things that would help sell the fiction. Learning where on earth I could put the space elevators. Everything else I invented or pulled from my working knowledge of things.

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Vanished Birds.

Simon:  The vividly colorful shape on the front cover does depict something from the novel—a kinetic and galaxy-shaping force. It is not a coincidence that it has the contour of an hourglass.

TQIn The Vanished Birds who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Simon:  The easiest by far was Sartoris Moth, a far future socialite who likes to talk grandiloquently. His love of words, and his awareness of self, makes it fun to write in his voice. The hardest was the young man around whom the narrative revolves. His background is so outside my own realm of experience and understanding that it took extra effort on my part to create someone coherent and whole.

TQDoes The Vanished Birds touch on any social issues?

Simon:  A few. Global warming. The all-consuming force of corporate expansionism. The cultural effects of tourism. Things that are not necessarily the main thrust of the narrative, but rather carpet it.

TQWhich question about The Vanished Birds do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!


Q: Can you speak about the variety of emotion and narrative scope in the story? A: Like my favorite authors I am a fan of maximalism. I like it when I read a book or watch a movie and it is obvious that the author or director or even composer left nothing on the table in the conception and creation of the work. I wanted to capture that here. Put all of myself in the book, and don’t hold back for a sequel or another work, writing in the romance and the adventure and the big ideas and the quiet and reflective moments. To be generous with my offerings.

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Vanished Birds.


“Weeks passed with the boy as her shadow, he stitching himself slowly each day to the soles of her feet.”

“One day, I will ask what it is he hears, when he hears the notes of music: the infernal, or the celestial. Judging by what I hear now—the flute song through my open door—it is most likely something in between. A fiery heaven all its own.”

TQWhat's next?

Simon:  I’m working on my second book right now. Different genre, mythic fantasy this time. A five-day chase through a land ravaged by a violent despot. Should be out next year if things work out.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

The Vanished Birds
Del Rey, January 14, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Simon Jimenez, author of The Vanished Birds
A mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman, changing both of their lives forever, in this captivating debut of connection across space and time.

“The best of what science fiction can be: a thought-provoking, heartrending story about the choices that define our lives.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A solitary ship captain, drifting through time.

Nia Imani is a woman out of place. Traveling through the stars condenses decades into mere months for her, though the years continue to march steadily onward for everyone she has ever known. Her friends and lovers have aged past her. She lives only for the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky.

A mute child, burdened with unimaginable power.

The scarred boy does not speak, his only form of communication the haunting music he plays on an old wooden flute. Captured by his songs and otherworldly nature, Nia decides to take the boy in to live amongst her crew. Soon, these two outsiders discover in each other the things they lack. For him, a home, a place of love and safety. For her, an anchor to the world outside of herself. For both of them, a family. But Nia is not the only one who wants the boy.

A millennia-old woman, poised to burn down the future.

Fumiko Nakajima designed the ships that allowed humanity to flee a dying Earth. One thousand years later, she now regrets what she has done in the name of progress. When chance brings Fumiko, Nia, and the child together, she recognizes the potential of his gifts, and what will happen if the ruling powers discover him. So she sends the pair to the distant corners of space to hide them as she crafts a plan to redeem her old mistakes.

But time is running out. The past hungers for the boy, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.

About Simon

Interview with Simon Jimenez, author of The Vanished Birds
Simon Jimenez’s short fiction has appeared in Canyon Voices and 100 Word Story’s anthology of flash fiction, Nothing Short Of. He received his MFA from Emerson College. This is his first novel.


Review: The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Winter of the Witch
Author:  Katherine Arden
Series:  Winternight Trilogy 3
Publisher:  Del Rey, October 1, 2019
Format:  Trade Paperback, 400 pages
Format:  Hardcover, Audiobook, and eBook, January 8, 2019
List Price:  US$17.00 (print); US$13.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781101886014 (print); 9781101886007 (eBook)

Review: The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

“A tale both intimate and epic, featuring a heroine whose harrowing and wondrous journey culminates in an emotionally resonant finale.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Vasilisa Petrovna is an unforgettable heroine determined to forge her own path. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

Melanie's Review

The Winter of the Witch, Arden's final instalment of her Winternight Trilogy, starts immediately after the dramatic events of book 2 - The Girl in the Tower. The residents of Moscow have woken up to the devastation left by a massive fire. Parts of the city are in ruins and friends and family are dead or homeless. They are looking for answers but more importantly for someone to blame. Unfortunately, Vasya is in the cross hairs as she no longer has the protection of the Grand Prince who is angry and no longer trusts her or her brother, the monk Alexander. Without his support Vasya is left vulnerable and on her own. Even more dangerous than the mobs looking for revenge is Father Konstantin. He is determined to destroy Vasya and teams up with a demon who wants revenge and to create chaos wherever he goes. With all of Russia on the brink of war and desperate to protect those she loves Vasya embarks on a journey to find the one person who can help her, the Winter King. Time is running out for Vasya to save her family and the magical world she has grown to love.

Arden keeps the pressure on Vasya throughout this novel and the suspense is high from the very start through to the very end of the story. She doesn't do this by dragging her heroine through countless high action scenes like many authors like to do. Instead the story is a clever balance of action, character development and strategically placed reveals or uncovering of secrets. Arden has the unique ability to create the sense that you are reading folklore rather than new fantasy fiction. This adds another element to the enjoyment of this instalment and the series as a whole.

Vasya is a great character and throughout the series the reader has the opportunity to see her grow and evolve. It's hard to believe she is only in her late teens in the final book but give the time period that was probably middle age. She certainly acts like someone far older and more mature than a 17 year old. I love her relationship with the magical characters she was trying to save, especially the various domovoy who protect the home and hearth. Through Vasya, the readers learns how the spread of Christianity started to cause the magical creatures and pagan gods to weaken and disappear. This is one of the causes the rift between Vasya and her brother who is a monk as she has magical abilities that conflict with his Christian beliefs. This is also the reason why Father Konstantin hates her so.

Through her travels Vasya meets many of the magical creatures that make up Russian folklore. Arden uses real historic events and people as the basis of the main plot of this story which again, gives the impression you are reading something other than fantasy fiction.

I actually listened to the audio version The Winter of the Witch and if you have this opportunity available to you I highly recommend it. The story is narrated by Kathleen Gati and she does an excellent job of bringing Vasya to life. Unlike some narrators, Gati doesn't try to sound like a man when reading the dialogue of male characters which I much prefer. Keeping the narration in one tone of voice reinforces the impression that this is folklore, a story retold from one generation to the next.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and The Winter of the Witch is a fantastic ending to Vasya's story. There isn't anything I would change in this instalment. Great book, great series but start with book 1 - The Bear and the Nightingale.

Interview with Callie Bates

Please welcome Callie Bates to The Qwillery. Callie is the author of The Waking Land series - The Waking Land (2017) and The Memory of Fire which was published on June 5th by Del Rey.

Interview with Callie Bates

TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your new novel, The Memory of Fire (The Waking Land 2), was published on June 5th. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote The Waking Land (2017) to The Memory of Fire?

Callie:  My writing process remained much the same from The Waking Land to The Memory of Fire—I still handwrote the first draft, then transferred to the computer for revisions and edits. (Having said that, I made significant changes in how I drafted the third book in the series—I learned how to revise much more effectively!)

TQWhat do you wish that you knew about book publishing when The Waking Land came out that you know now?

Callie:  I wish I had been able to take the advice to chill out and not worry so much about everything! Perhaps inevitably, everything seems much more fraught and urgent when your first novel comes out—and like most things in life, in hindsight, it wasn’t quite as monumental as it seemed.

TQWhich method or methods do you use to keep track of your characters' traits, eye color, etc. and events in the novels?

Callie:  A lot of those traits are ingrained in my mind at this point (or so I claim), but I have also found Scrivener’s Characters/Places/Research templates quite handy, especially early in the drafting process when it feels like my brain is imploding.

TQHow soon after the events in The Waking Land do the events in The Memory of Fire take place?

Callie:  There’s a gap of about two months from the epilogue in The Waking Land to Chapter 1 in The Memory of Fire. Enough time for political tensions to have escalated!

TQPlease tell us a bit about how the magic system in The Waking Land series works.

Callie:  Magic in this world is highly individualized; there is as much variation in people’s abilities as there is in their personalities. Especially since magic hasn’t been taught or widely practiced in a long time, the characters are still discovering all that is possible with sorcery. At one point in The Memory of Fire, Jahan explains that magic is the fulfillment of the potential in anything—for example, it’s possible to light a candle with his mind because the potential for fire exists in the candle.

TQHow difficult or easy was it for you to change your 1st person point of view character for The Memory of Fire?

Callie:  It actually turned out to be much more difficult than I thought it would! I ended up rewriting the book quite thoroughly because I didn’t get Jahan’s voice right on the first go-round. But maybe this is, in part, a typical challenge for a second novel—I think we authors tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves with the next book.

TQWhich character in the The Waking Land series (so far) surprised you the most?

Callie:  I would say, as a pair, Sophy and Alistar have been the most unexpected! While I intended for years to write about Elanna and Jahan, Sophy and Alistar both individually just showed up as I was writing The Waking Land—Sophy demanding in her diffident way to be seen, and Alistar bounding onto the page. And now Sophy’s getting her own book, the third in the trilogy, which I would not have foreseen before writing TWL.

TQPlease give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Memory of Fire.

Callie:  “I look into her eyes. I need to remember them as long as I can, but I already know how the memories will slip and fade. I know what it’s like to wake up on that stone table, with nothing but the certainty of loss.”

TQWhat's next?

Callie:  I’m finishing up the third book in The Waking Land series, which as I said is about Sophy, who’s trying to figure out how to rule a kingdom, and her heart. I can’t wait to share it with the world!

TQThank you for joining us again at The Qwillery.

Callie:  Thanks for having me!

The Memory of Fire
The Waking Land 2
Del Rey, June 5, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages

Interview with Callie Bates
Callie Bates’s debut novel, The Waking Land, announced the arrival of a brilliant new talent in epic fantasy. Now, with The Memory of Fire, Bates expertly deepens her tale, spinning glittering threads of magic and intrigue into a vibrant tapestry of adventure, betrayal, and romance.

Thanks to the magic of Elanna Valtai and the Paladisan noble Jahan Korakide, he lands once controlled by the empire of Paladis have won their independence. But as Elanna exhausts her powers restoring the ravaged land, news that the emperor is readying an invasion spurs Jahan on a desperate mission to establish peace.

Going back to Paladis proves to be anything but peaceful. As magic is a crime in the empire, punishable by death, Jahan must hide his abilities. Nonetheless, the grand inquisitor’s hunters suspect him of sorcery, and mysterious, urgent messages from the witch who secretly trained Jahan only increase his danger of being exposed. Worst of all, the crown prince has turned his back on Jahan, robbing him of the royal protection he once enjoyed.

As word of Jahan’s return spreads, long-sheathed knives, sharp and deadly, are drawn again. And when Elanna, stripped of her magic, is brought to the capital in chains, Jahan must face down the traumas of his past to defeat the shadowy enemies threatening his true love’s life, and the future of the revolution itself.


The Waking Land
The Waking Land 1
Del Rey, January 2, 2018
Trade Paperback, 432 pages
Hardcover and eBook, June 27, 2017

Interview with Callie Bates
In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

About Callie

Interview with Callie Bates
Photo © Jim Schumaker
Callie Bates is a writer, harpist and certified harp therapist, sometime artist, and nature nerd. When she’s not creating, she’s hitting the trails or streets and exploring new places. She lives in the Upper Midwest. She is also the author of The Waking Land.

Website  ~  Facebook

Twitter @calliebywords

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018

Fear not gentle reader, I am back with my Week in Review :)  I thought I would give you a short break from my WIR and share two of my SPFBO 2017 reviews. I hope you enjoyed them. Keep your eye on the blog for reviews from my fellow Qwillery reviewers on what they thought of the books they read for the competition.

I had a little pooch at NetGalley this week and was surprised by two books I had read last year but hadn't yet reviewed.  Lately books have been available months before their publish date and then I get all excited about reading them. This time I had convinced myself that I had actually posted a review here but after some checking it transpired I hadn't left you a review so check out what I read.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018
First up is The Queen of All Crows by Rod Duncan which is the first instalment of The Map of Unknown Things, published by Angry Robot on January 2nd. This series is set in the same world as Duncan's The Fall of the Gas-lit Empire series with Elizabeth Barnabus back in her role of spy but this time with the dreaded Patent Office. When airships start to disappear, along with someone close to Elizabeth, she decides to take action and goes undercover, again as a man. As the science officer on a whaler far out to sea Elizabeth is desperate to find out what has happened and more importantly, who is responsible. Elizabeth finds herself in the middle of a mystery and in more danger than anything the Patent Office could do to her. It will take every ounce of her ingenuity and bravery to discover what has happened and survive long enough to report back.

I loved Duncan's The Fall of the Gas-lit Empire series and thought that Elizabeth was a complex, gutsy heroine. Normally, I am a bit nervous when an author creates a new series for one their characters as it usually means they don't want to let go and new books usually aren't as good. I prefer a shorter, excellent series than a long mediocre, drawn out one. However, Duncan doesn't disappoint and this is an excellent start to what I feel is going to be a compelling series. At the beginning of the story I had pretty much guessed what was going to happen, but midway through every thing changed and I couldn't really guess what was going to become of Elizabeth. This is a difficult book to review because I don't want to give anything away. I want you to discover what happens to Elizabeth on your own because it is such a tasty tale. I have read too many reviews that spell everything out and basically rewrite the book so I don't want to do that here. What I can say is that Duncan fleshes out Elizabeth even more and the new landscape in which this story is set is rich and bleak in equal measure. If I had to sum up this story I would describe it as a story of the power of friendship. Cruel, beautiful, warm, and chillingly lonely. It's all these things and a great mystery as well. If you haven't read the original series don't miss out and then join Elizabeth in The Queen of All Crows.

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018
The second book I would like to tell you about is The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden. This is the second in her Winternight Trilogy and follows not long after the events of book 1 - The Bear and the Nightingale. Vasya is on the run. She has been cast out of her village following the death of her father and she faces either being married off  - to become a girl in a tower - or joining a convent. Neither option appeals to her so when the opportunity presents itself she disguises herself as a boy and joins the Grand Prince of Moscow's retinue. When a mysterious and possibly magical force threatens the kingdom Vasya risks everything, including her freedom, to save the Prince, her family and her kingdom.

I can't believe that it is less than a year from the time that Arden released her debut The Bear and the Nightingale (check out my review here). Book 2 does not disappoint. In fact Arden has built upon the strengths of these characters and takes this from a mere fairy tale into some more like folklore. While this is fiction Arden has created characters who are credible, who make you believe they were actually alive, centuries ago. I have to admit I did spend a lot of the story thinking to myself  'poor Vasya' as things seem to go from bad to worse for our teenage heroine. She is forced to grow up quickly but at the same time stays innocent from how cruel the world can really be.

Again, this is another book that I could recount half the plot for you in this review but why would I ruin the journey that you need to take? Join Vasya on her journey of self discovery. Well done Arden, another great book. I can hardly wait for the final in this trilogy, The Winter of the Witch.

That is it for me this week. Apologies for not getting these reviews to you sooner. Better late than never! Until next time Happy Reading.

The Queen of All Crows
The Map of Unknown Things 1
Angry Robot Books, January 2, 2018
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018
Only one woman can stop the world from descending into endless war, in the thrilling new series in the world of the Gas-Lit Empire
The year is 2012 but it might as well be the Victorian age. The nations of the world are overseen by the International Patent Office, and its ruthless stranglehold on technology.

When airships start disappearing in the middle of the Atlantic, the Patent Office is desperate to discover what has happened. Forbidden to operate beyond the territorial waters of member nations, they send spies to investigate in secret.

One of those spies is Elizabeth Barnabus. She must overcome her dislike of the machinations of her employers, disguise herself as a man, and take to the sea in search of the floating nation of pirates who threaten the world order.

File Under: Fantasy [ A Lost Airship | On the Sargasso | Stowaway Bay | The Crow Queen ]

The Girl in the Tower
Winternight Trilogy 2
Del Rey, December 5, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - February 25, 2018
A remarkable young woman blazes her own trail, from the backwoods of Russia to the court of Moscow, in the exhilarating sequel to Katherine Arden’s bestselling debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale.

Katherine Arden’s enchanting first novel introduced readers to an irresistible heroine. Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the eaves of her family’s wooden house and there is truth in the fairy tales told around the fire. Vasilisa’s gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko—Frost, the winter demon from the stories—and together they saved her people from destruction. But Frost’s aid comes at a cost, and her people have condemned her as a witch.

Now Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, the only options left for her are marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.

But after Vasilisa prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself.

Interview with Callie Bates, author of The Waking Land

Please welcome Callie Bates to The Qwillery as part of the of the 2017 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. The Waking Land was published on June 27th by Del Rey.

Interview with Callie Bates, author of The Waking Land

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Callie:  Thanks so much for having me! I started writing when I was about 10 or 11. I was a voracious reader—and also a voracious dress-up-player—and I realized that I could write down the stories I was always inventing in dress-up. Both my parents are writers, and sitting down to concoct a book myself didn’t seem outside the realm of possibility.

TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?

Callie:  I’ve evolved into a hybrid. I used to firmly be a pantser, but I discovered I need some plan to get to the end of a book (or, in fact, the middle). So now I outline enough to know where I’m going, but not so much that I lose the thrill of discovery.

TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Callie:  I think stamina challenges me the most—to state the obvious, writing a novel takes a long time, and much of it is done in isolation. There are first drafts, rewrites, revisions, edits. Writing a novel isn’t really like running a marathon—it’s like several marathons, a couple of sprints, and some periods sitting in the grass wondering where exactly you’re trying to get to.

TQWhat has influenced / influences your writing?

Callie:  Many wonderful books have inspired me over the years, from reading Robin McKinley, Tamora Pierce, and Diana Wynne Jones as a kid, to discovering Dorothy Dunnett and Homer in my teens, to all the incredible books being published now by Naomi Novik, Leigh Bardugo, and so many more. My list could be so much longer! I’m also strongly influenced by place and history—I’m intrigued by finding a real place or historical person or event, and twisting them into fiction.

TQDescribe The Waking Land in 140 characters or less.

Callie:  When she’s framed for poisoning the king, a young woman’s repressed nature magic drags her into her despised, estranged father’s political machinations.

TQ:   Tell us something about The Waking Land that is not found in the book description.

Callie:  Elanna, the main character, is taken hostage as a child for her father’s failed revolution, and raised like a daughter by the king. I was interested in exploring the tension of someone who grows up within a sheltered world, yet apart from it by dint of her birth—and who also struggles with Stockholm Syndrome.

TQWhat inspired you to write The Waking Land? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?

Callie:  I wanted to explore the symbiotic relationship between humans and the natural world through Elanna’s magic—something that can’t really be done outside the fantasy genre! I also wanted to take her on a journey of identity, where she truly transforms her understanding of herself and her world. Though of course I also wanted to write about poisonous fungi, daring escapes and romance!

TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Waking Land?

Callie:  I did some research into the history of Scotland and Ireland, particularly the Jacobite rebellion of 1745—which is probably obvious to anyone who knows much about Bonnie Prince Charlie! The stone circles are inspired by a trip I took to Ireland in 2012, though my love affair with Neolithic monuments dates back much earlier. Specific details of 18th century life also had to be researched, to give the book the right flavor. And, since the main character is a botanist, I had to study up on my plants!

TQPlease tell us about the cover for The Waking Land?

Callie:  The U.S. cover was designed by Kathleen Lynch and illustrated by Ben Perini, and I absolutely love it. I am in awe of their attention to detail—each small feature on the cover ties directly into the book, from the accurate amanita virosa mushrooms to the stone circle, the pistol to the raven, the stately home to the horse riders… It’s pretty much an author’s dream!

TQIn The Waking Land who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Callie:  Hmm… Alistar has to be the easiest! He literally bounded onto the page, completely unexpected, and wrote himself into the story. The Butcher was, hands down, the hardest; I was still tinkering with his arc in late edits. Though I can’t explain why without spoilers!

TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues in The Waking Land?

Callie:  To me, though I think The Waking Land addresses various social issues, climate change sits at the core of the book. This isn’t a novel about climate change, but in the era of global warming, I think reflecting on the power of the earth—and our connection to it—is essential. If Elanna’s story inspires people to do that, I’ll be very happy!

TQWhich question about The Waking Land do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Callie:  Why did you make Elanna a botanist?

There’s an obvious parallel between El’s interest in botany and her magic. But I also wanted to depict a woman with a scientific bent. And I wanted to show that, like many 19-year-olds, she has hopes and dreams that are already in place, and that matter to her very much. She doesn’t take kindly to having her future plans shattered—which I imagine most of us wouldn’t, either!

TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Waking Land.

Callie:  From the prologue: “I was made to walk across the streets to the palace, a barefoot girl in a soiled nightdress, the cold cobblestones burning my feet.”

And this poem: “Wildegarde came, bearing a flame in her heart and her hair crowned with the pale light of stars. Where she placed her foot, the earth trembled; when she raised her hand, mountains moved.”

TQWhat's next?

Callie:  The sequel! The Memory of Fire picks up where The Waking Land leaves off—but this time, the story is Jahan’s. All his secrets will be revealed!

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Callie:  Thanks for having me!

The Waking Land
Del Rey, June 27, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

Interview with Callie Bates, author of The Waking Land
In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

About Callie

Interview with Callie Bates, author of The Waking Land
Photo © Jim Schumaker
Callie Bates is a writer, harpist and certified harp therapist, sometime artist, and nature nerd. When she’s not creating, she’s hitting the trails or streets and exploring new places. She lives in the Upper Midwest. The Waking Land is her debut fantasy novel.

Website  ~  Facebook

Twitter @calliebywords

Melanie's Week in Review - April 2, 2017

Melanie's Week in Review - April 2, 2017

Happy spring! I can't believe it is April already. It felt like it was just minutes from when I was telling you about my favourite books of 2016. Before I look forward to April showers I thought I would tell you about what I read this week. I actually read 2 books but midway writing this I checked the publication date and realised one of the books I read won't be released until October 2017! You are going to have to wait a while to hear what I thought. However, I do have a book that more than makes up for it. So wait no longer..... Note: There are slight spoilers for the 1st book in this series so read at your own risk.

Melanie's Week in Review - April 2, 2017
I had been waiting months to read Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel and I was finally able to. It was rather like waiting counting down for Christmas but in this case I was counting down to the publication date of the 4th April. I had the book for a few months but didn't want to read it too much in advance of its publication and my opportunity to find out what happened next to my favourite characters from Sleeping Giants (book 1 of The Themis Files), one of my all time favourite books.

Waking Gods is set approximately 10 years after the events of book 1 and humanity is enjoying relative peace thanks to the giant alien robot Themis, built by the Earth Defense Corps. When another robot appears in Regents Park (in London, UK) and ends up decimating most of London, killing millions, everyone soon realises that the peace they have enjoyed is now over. It's up to the EDC to figure out how to save humanity from complete annihilation from the alien race. Are they up to the job? I will let you find out for yourself.

All my favourite characters are also back including Rose Thornton who died midway through book 1 but who reappears, unharmed in Ireland but missing 4 years of her life. We get to find out what happened to Rose and how and why she returned. Also back is the mystery man who conducts the interviews which tell the story through book 1 and most of 2. Neuvel is a real tease by solving some of the mysteries from book 1 including who the mysterious interviewer is and how he came involved, but then leaves us with one big whopping cliff hanger at the end. We also find out more about Themis and why she was left buried, in pieces around the world. There are some real shockers in Waking Gods and don't get too attached to some of the characters....that is all I am going to say about the plot. Another fantastic novel in the Themis series. Well done Neuvel. From clever debut to exciting second novel.

That is it for me this week. Short and sweet. Apologies for not having more books to tell you about and I promise to take more care about publication dates and when I should be reading certain books. Until next week, Happy reading.

Waking Gods
The Themis Files 2
Del Rey, April 4, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 336 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 2, 2017
In the gripping sequel to Sleeping Giants, which was hailed by Pierce Brown as “a luminous conspiracy yarn . . . reminiscent of The Martian and World War Z,” Sylvain Neuvel’s innovative series about human-alien contact takes another giant step forward.

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer now than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.


Sleeping Giants
The Themis Files 1
Del Rey, January 24, 2017
Trade Paperback, 336 pages
Hardcover and eBook, April 26, 2016

Melanie's Week in Review - April 2, 2017
A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, and The Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

See Melanie's Review here.

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Novels by DAC Authors

Here are some of the recent and upcoming novels, etc. by formerly featured DAC Authors! The year in parentheses is the year the author was featured in the DAC.

Laura Lam (2016)

Shattered Minds
A Pacifica Novel
Tor Books, June 20, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Novels by DAC Authors
Johnny Mnemonic meets a female Dexter in Laura Lam's new speculative thriller, set in the near-future SF world of False Hearts

Carina used to be one of the best biohackers in Pacifica. But when she worked for Sudice and saw what the company's experiments on brain recording were doing to their subjects, it disturbed her—especially because she found herself enjoying giving pain and contemplating murder. She quit and soon grew addicted to the drug Zeal, spending most of her waking moments in a horror-filled dream world where she could act out her depraved fantasies without actually hurting anyone.

One of her trips is interrupted by strange flashing images and the brutal murder of a young girl. Even in her drug-addicted state, Carina knows it isn’t anything she created in the Zealscape. On her next trip, she discovers that an old coworker from Sudice, Max, sent her these images before he was killed by the company. Encrypted within the images are the clues to his murder, plus information strong enough to take down the international corporation.

Carina's next choice will transform herself, San Francisco, and possibly the world itself.

Yoon Ha Lee (2016)

Extracurricular Activities
A Original
Tor Books, February 15, 2017
eBook, 32 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Novels by DAC Authors
A space opera adventure set in a distant future where an undercover agent has to go behind enemy lines to recover a lost ship and a possible traitor.

Raven Stratagem
Machineries of Empire 2
Solaris, June 13, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Novels by DAC Authors
Captain Kel Cheris is possessed by a long-dead traitor general. Together they must face the rivalries of the hexarchate and a potentially devastating invasion.

When the hexarchate's gifted young captain Kel Cheris summoned the ghost of the long-dead General Shuos Jedao to help her put down a rebellion, she didn't reckon on his breaking free of centuries of imprisonment – and possessing her.

Even worse, the enemy Hafn are invading, and Jedao takes over General Kel Khiruev's fleet, which was tasked with stopping them. Only one of Khiruev's subordinates, Lieutenant Colonel Kel Brezan, seems to be able to resist the influence of the brilliant but psychotic Jedao.

Michael Poore (2012)

Reincarnation Blues
Del Rey, August 22, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Covers Revealed - Upcoming Novels by DAC Authors
In the tradition of Cloud Atlas comes a wildly imaginative novel about a man who is reincarnated over ten thousand lifetimes to be with his one true love: Death herself.

First we live. Then we die. And then . . . we get another try? 

Ten thousand tries, to be exact. Ten thousand lives to “get it right.” Answer all the Big Questions. Achieve Wisdom. And Become One with Everything.

Milo has had 9,995 chances so far and has just five more lives to earn a place in the cosmic soul. If he doesn’t make the cut, oblivion awaits. But all Milo really wants is to fall forever into the arms of Death. Or Suzie, as he calls her.

More than just Milo’s lover throughout his countless layovers in the Afterlife, Suzie is literally his reason for living—as he dives into one new existence after another, praying for the day he’ll never have to leave her side again.

But Reincarnation Blues is more than a great love story: Every journey from cradle to grave offers Milo more pieces of the great cosmic puzzle—if only he can piece them together in time to finally understand what it means to be part of something bigger than infinity. As darkly enchanting as the works of Neil Gaiman and as wisely hilarious as Kurt Vonnegut’s, Michael Poore’s Reincarnation Blues is the story of everything that makes life profound, beautiful, absurd, and heartbreaking.

Because it’s more than Milo and Suzie’s story. It’s your story, too.

Review - Aftermath: Empire's End (Star Wars: The Aftermath Trilogy 3) by Chuck Wendig

Aftermath: Empire's End
Author:  Chuck Wendig
Series:  Star Wars: The Aftermath Trilogy 3
Publisher:  Del Rey, February 21, 2017
Format:  Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages
List Price: US$28.99 (print); US$14.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9781101966969 (print); 9781101966976 (eBook)
Review Copy:  Reviewer's Own

Review - Aftermath: Empire's End (Star Wars: The Aftermath Trilogy 3) by Chuck Wendig
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Following Star Wars: Aftermath and Star Wars: Life Debt, Chuck Wendig delivers the exhilarating conclusion to the New York Times bestselling trilogy set in the years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.


As the final showdown between the New Republic and the Empire draws near, all eyes turn to a once-isolated planet: Jakku.

The Battle of Endor shattered the Empire, scattering its remaining forces across the galaxy. But the months following the Rebellion’s victory have not been easy. The fledgling New Republic has suffered a devastating attack from the Imperial remnant, forcing the new democracy to escalate their hunt for the hidden enemy.

For her role in the deadly ambush, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane is the most wanted Imperial war criminal—and one-time rebel pilot Norra Wexley, back in service at Leia’s urgent request, is leading the hunt. But more than just loyalty to the New Republic drives Norra forward: Her husband was turned into a murderous pawn in Sloane’s assassination plot, and now she wants vengeance as much as justice.

But Sloane, too, is on a furious quest: pursuing the treacherous Gallius Rax to the barren planet Jakku. As the true mastermind behind the Empire’s devastating attack, Rax has led the Empire to its defining moment. The cunning strategist has gathered the powerful remnants of the Empire’s war machine, preparing to execute the late Emperor Palpatine’s final plan. As the Imperial fleet orbits Jakku, an armada of Republic fighters closes in to finish what began at Endor. Norra and her crew soar into the heart of an apocalyptic clash that will leave land and sky alike scorched. And the future of the galaxy will finally be decided.

Trinitytwo's / Tracey's Review

Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire's End, the stunning conclusion to Chuck Wendig's Star Wars: Aftermath series, tidily wraps up the adventures of an unlikely group of New Republic heroes. In the wake of the devastation caused by the bloodbath on Chandrila, Norra Wexley, leader of a team of "Imperial Hunters", uncovers information that Grand Admiral Rae Sloane has fled to the desert planet of Jakku. For Norra, bringing Sloane to justice, is personal. Her husband was one of the released Imperial captives that was programmed, via implant, to assassinate high ranking New Republic personnel during the Liberation Day celebrations. Norra is determined to make Sloane pay for the pain and anguish that was inflicted on the innocent.

But Norra and the New Republic are wrong: Sloane was not responsible for the terrorist attack. She's tracked the organizer of the slaughter, Gallius Rax, to Jakku. Sloane's agenda is simple: for his perversion of her beloved Empire, she will find him and kill him. Norra and her squad are hot on Sloane's trail, but as they drop out of hyperspace they are alarmed to discover that what's left of the Imperial fleet is orbiting this remote planet. But to what purpose? Will this discovery set off a chain of events that will lead to the Empire's ultimate end?

Empire's End is a beautifully written finale to the Aftermath series. Wendig meticulously ties up the multitude of story arcs into a neat package. Fans of the film will definitely appreciate how the final battle sets the stage for Episode VII. But by laying the necessary groundwork for the film, I felt the main characters' stories suffered slightly. I got the feeling that Empire's End was much more of a staging area for the film than Aftermath or Aftermath: Life Debt. This doesn't necessarily make the story bad, in fact, it's pretty darn good. I really enjoy Wendig's characters and feel that they were a bit short-changed.

For instance, I simply did not get enough of ex-Imperial loyalty officer Sinjir Rath Velus. I always enjoy Sinjir's exploits; whether he is extracting information from an unwilling bounty hunter, or on a covert mission to expose corrupt senators. I especially like his interactions with bounty hunter Jas Emari, Chancellor Mon Mothma, and his relationship with tech slicer Conder Kyl.

The modified B1 battle droid, Mister Bones, is always a favorite. Although Bones is a supporting character, he is totally unforgettable. I am seriously excited because Wendig tantalizes readers with a few of the maniacal droid's memories; proving that there is much more to Mister Bones that meets the eye.

Who doesn't love reuniting with old friends? Wendig's story is peppered with interludes, some of which feature the suave scoundrel Lando Calrissian retaking Bespin, a certain infamous Gungan on Naboo, and the ongoing struggles on Kashyyyk featuring Chewbacca.

Aftermath: Empire's End is an exciting and entertaining book. It seems to have been given the momentous task of taking a galaxy of loose threads and tying them together. Wendig does this brilliantly. Lovers of the Star Wars Universe shouldn't pass up the book, or the series; it provides tons of insight into future events and succeeds by being both appealing and exhilarating.


Star Wars: The Aftermath Trilogy 1
Del Rey, March 29, 2016
Mass Market Paperback, 432 pages
Hardcover and eBook, September 4, 2015

Review - Aftermath: Empire's End (Star Wars: The Aftermath Trilogy 3) by Chuck Wendig
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: Aftermath [reveals] what happened after the events of 1983’s Return of the Jedi. It turns out, there’s more than just the Empire for the good guys to worry about.”—The Hollywood Reporter

As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance—now a fledgling New Republic—presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot Wedge Antilles watches Imperial Star Destroyers gather like birds of prey circling for a kill, but he’s taken captive before he can report back to the New Republic leaders.

Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, former rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her native world—war weary, ready to reunite with her estranged son, and eager to build a new life in some distant place. But when Norra intercepts Wedge Antilles’s urgent distress call, she realizes her time as a freedom fighter is not yet over. What she doesn’t know is just how close the enemy is—or how decisive and dangerous her new mission will be.

Determined to preserve the Empire’s power, the surviving Imperial elite are converging on Akiva for a top-secret emergency summit—to consolidate their forces and rally for a counterstrike. But they haven’t reckoned on Norra and her newfound allies—her technical-genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and a reprobate Imperial defector—who are prepared to do whatever they must to end the Empire’s oppressive reign once and for all.

Read Tracey's Review here.

Aftermath: Life Debt
Star Wars: The Aftermath Trilogy 2
Del Rey, March 28, 2017
Mass Market Paperback, 512 pages
Hardcover and eBook, July 19, 2016

Review - Aftermath: Empire's End (Star Wars: The Aftermath Trilogy 3) by Chuck Wendig
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Set between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the never-before-told story that began with Star Wars: Aftermath continues in this thrilling novel, the second book of Chuck Wendig’s bestselling trilogy.

It is a dark time for the Empire. . . .

The Emperor is dead, and the remnants of his former Empire are in retreat. As the New Republic fights to restore a lasting peace to the galaxy, some dare to imagine new beginnings and new destinies. For Han Solo, that means settling his last outstanding debt, by helping Chewbacca liberate the Wookiee’s homeworld of Kashyyyk.

Meanwhile, Norra Wexley and her band of Imperial hunters pursue Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and the Empire’s remaining leadership across the galaxy. Even as more and more officers are brought to justice, Sloane continues to elude the New Republic, and Norra fears Sloane may be searching for a means to save the crumbling Empire from oblivion. But the hunt for Sloane is cut short when Norra receives an urgent request from Princess Leia Organa. The attempt to liberate Kashyyyk has carried Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a band of smugglers into an ambush—resulting in Chewie’s capture and Han’s disappearance.

Breaking away from their official mission and racing toward the Millennium Falcon’s last known location, Norra and her crew prepare for any challenge that stands between them and their missing comrades. But they can’t anticipate the true depth of the danger that awaits them—or the ruthlessness of the enemy drawing them into his crosshairs.

Read Tracey's Review here.

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