The Qwillery | category: Harry Connolly


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

SPFBO 2017 Review: The Way Into Chaos by Harry Connolly

The Way Into Chaos
Author:  Harry Connolly
Series:  The Great Way 1
Publisher:  Radar Avenue Press, December 18, 2014
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 364 Pages
List Price: US$15.99 (print); US$4.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780989828420 (print); 2940150226999 (B&N eBook)

SPFBO 2017 Review: The Way Into Chaos by Harry Connolly
A 2017 SPFBO Finalist!

BOOK ONE OF THE GREAT WAY: The city of Peradain is the heart of an empire built with steel, spears, and a monopoly on magic... until, in a single day, it falls, overthrown by a swarm of supernatural creatures of incredible power and ferocity. Neither soldier nor spell caster can stand against them.

The empire's armies are crushed, its people scattered, its king and queen killed. Freed for the first time in generations, city-states scramble to seize neighboring territories and capture imperial spell casters. But as the creatures spread across the land, these formerly conquered peoples discover they are not prepared to face the enemy that destroyed an empire.

Can the last Peradaini prince, pursued by the beasts that killed his parents, cross battle-torn lands to retrieve a spell that might--just might--turn the battle against this new enemy?

Melanie's Thoughts

All of Peradain have gathered at the Festival awaiting the opening of the portal to bring through their guests, Evening People. But it wasn't the Evening People who came through.....instead supernatural creatures flow through wreaking havoc, killing the King and Queen and nearly everyone there. Only a few escape including the young prince, his friends and his teacher, the Tyr Tejohn Treygar. The empire that was so powerful no longer exists as the beasts spread across the lands killing as they go while the prince flees trying to find a way to stop the invasion. A small group of teenagers up against killer monsters? The world is in chaos and the future looks bleak in Connolly's The Way Into Chaos.

This was the second of the SPFBO 2017 finalists that I read and it's description as an epic is very accurate. There are a lot of characters in a big empire with diverse races and religions. It's clear that Connolly has a vibrant imagination.  There is a lot of story to tell and Connolly packs a lot into 300 + pages. The story unfolds at a frenetic pace as the Prince and Tejohn escape the beasts and although the pace evens out midway through it is still pretty fast paced throughout.

Connolly introduces several characters at the very start during the invasion of the beasts and it is challenging to keep track of who is who. Characterization and pace are my two main criticisms with this novel. I had no idea what was going on for the first third of the story as soo many characters were introduced all at once and Connolly doesn't explain their relationship to each other, the society, the classes or certain character's magical powers until much later on. In my opinion this story was crying out for a hero. Epics, especially high fantasy, really need that one character where, as the reader, you are totally invested in them and their quest. While I thought that the two main characters - the teacher Tejohn or the teenager Cazia Freewell were written to play that role they weren't developed sufficiently for me to feel that I was invested in them. In fact, I found them rather dull and irritating, especially Cazia. Overall, I found this a challenging read and not due to the sophisticated plot. Had Connolly spent a little longer fleshing out Tejohn and Cazia and set up the background a little earlier it would have been a cracking read. For me The Way Into Chaos is a 5/10.

Covers Revealed - Khan of Mars and King Khan - February 3, 2013

The covers have been revealed for two additional novels set in the world of Evil Hat Productions' Spirit of the Century RPG.  The novels were funded by a very successful Kickstarter campaign. The first novel published was Dinocalypse Now (Dinocalypse Trilogy 1) by Chuck Wendig, which I loved (review here). There are two further novels in the Trilogy. More on those in the future.

In addition to the Trilogy, additional novels were funded and I'm going to share covers for two of them now. Both of these novels will be available to the public in late 2013. 

Khan of Mars by Stephen Blackmoore

Covers Revealed - Khan of Mars and King Khan - February 3, 2013

When erudite ape Professor Khan and rough-and-tumble cowboy Bulls-Eye Gutierrez are zapped away on a one way trip to Mars they are thrown into a world in chaos. 

Under the malevolent gaze of the Weather Witch, Princess Cyclone, our heroes face the intrigue and war raging across an alien world. 

Will they survive long enough for the other Centurions to build a way back home, or will they perish upon the shifting sands of the Red Planet, never to be seen again?

King Khan by Harry Connolly

Covers Revealed - Khan of Mars and King Khan - February 3, 2013

Professor Khan, learned ape, has traveled through time, fought psychic dinosaurs and shark-men, visited Atlantis, and battled across the sands of Mars.

He has seen it all-—until an arrow shooting out of the sky sends him to the strangest place yet...


I think these covers are gorgeous!  Professor Khan is a fabulous character. I can't wait to see what Stephen Blackmoore and Harry Connolly have done with him.

You can get in on the fun with Dinocalypse Now in eBook!

Dinocalypse Now
Chuck Wendig
eBook. May 2, 2012
Trade Paperback, April 23, 2013  

Covers Revealed - Khan of Mars and King Khan - February 3, 2013
When the Century Club is called in to prevent the assassination of FDR, it's just another day on the job — but what they discover puts not just the President, but the entire world in jeopardy. With psychic dinosaurs taking over Manhattan and beyond, it's up to Sally Slick, Jet Black, Mack Silver, and the other Centurions to save humanity — from extinction!

Winners x 8 - September 17, 2011

The Black London series by Caitlin Kittredge

Winners x 8 - September 17, 2011

Bastard who said...

And to answer the question, hate to admit it since I've always thought myself as an Epic Fantasy guy, but can't stop reading Urban Fantasy. So Urban Fantasy.


Choice of one of the Blood Lines series novels by Maria Lima

Winners x 8 - September 17, 2011

JoAnna who said...

This was a tough one. I'm going to go with Zsadist from the Black Dagger Brotherhood.


The Twenty Palaces series - Child of Fire, Game of Cages and Circle of Enemies - by Harry Connolly

Winners x 8 - September 17, 2011

Lee who said...

Urban Fantasy, If you like Syfy's "Sanctuary" you will probably like Connolly. I know I would love to read all three and have them in my library.


Untamed Highlander by Donna Grant

Winners x 8 - September 17, 2011

Barbara E. who said...

Hard to choose because I love them all, but I think I'd go with Scotland above all because of those awesome kilts and that Scottish accent.


Night Falls on the Wicked by Sharie Kohler

Winners x 8 - September 17, 2011

Arianne Cruz who said...

I would say Witches :D


Haunting Desire by Erin Quinn

Winners x 8 - September 17, 2011

Laura H. who said...

Thanks for the giveaway! I would love to travel to any time in England prior to the 1900s. I love the elegant dress of that time and where behavior is dictated by "The Ton". I would hope I am one of those women with a more contemporary point of view, however. And the thought of using a chamber pot is somewhat disconcerting! :-)


Shadow Bound, Shadow Fall, and Shadowman by Erin Kellison

Winners x 8 - September 17, 2011

Jolene and Family who said...

This looks like a great series! Thanks for the chance to win


Kiss of the Rose, Blood of the Rose, and Mark of the Rose by Kate Pearce

Winners x 8 - September 17, 2011

Sullivan McPig who said...

I don't know any rose names, but I like the dark red ones best.
My favourite flower is the Snowdrop though.


Winners have been notified and have until 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on Saturday, September 24, 2011 to respond or The Qwillery will very randomly choose a new winner or winners.

Thank you to everyone who participated.

Interview with Harry Connolly and Giveaway - August 31, 2011

Please welcome Harry Connolly to The Qwillery.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Harry:  I like to think of myself as quirkless. I made a serious effort some years ago to remove ritual, habit, and all the other crutches some writers have. I don't write in yellow ink on black paper. I don't play a mix tape of Beastie Boys and steam locomotive sound effects. I just try to focus and do the work.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Harry:  Yes! Actually, I plot out the beginning and middle of the book and trust that the end will reveal itself in the first draft.

TQ:  What inspired you to write the Twenty Palaces series?

Harry:  A whole crazy mix of things, but for this answer I'll focus on one: it's standard for modern urban fantasy to have a "magic police squad" in it somewhere--people who decide what's allowed and what isn't--and the protagonist is often a loner who won't be held back by the rules.

Well, I don't much like that trope, and I wanted to recast those loners as villains.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do to create the world in the Twenty Palaces series?

Harry:  It's pretty much our world, except that extradimensional monsters occasionally slip in to feed on us. Because I didn't want the magic or the monsters to be religious or folkloric (mostly), the research has been mostly to make sure the creatures I put in the book are *not* similar to the creatures of myth and legend.

TQ:  Please briefly describe the system of magic in the Twenty Palaces world.

Harry:  Actually, how the magic works is a mystery in the series, gradually revealed over the books, so I'm not going to go into a lot of detail.

I will say that there is summoning magic, which calls and (hopefully) binds extradimensional creatures to our world. Other kinds of magic affect the world (and the people in it) in various direct and subtle ways. Both are cast by making specific marks on solid surfaces, along with other components.

TQ:  Describe Circle of Enemies (Twenty Palaces 3) in 140 characters or less.

Harry:  People have begun to notice Ray's string of successes for the Twenty Palace Society, and that's a bad thing.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Circle of Enemies?

Harry:  The final 40 or so pages.

TQ:  In Circle of Enemies, who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?

Harry:  The easiest was Wally King, because I understood his relationship to Ray and the other characters. I knew how he felt and what he wanted.

There was no "most difficult" though, because the book is about a circle of people who were once family but have drifted apart, who have strong bonds and deep resentments, who see things as they really are or maybe don't. The whole "circle" was difficult to write, because their relationships to Ray and each other were so complicated.

TQ:  Do you and Ray Lilly have anything in common?

Harry:  We both like mystery novels. We both hate to have dried sweat on our faces. Aside from that, we're not really alike at all.

TQ:  How many books are planned for the Twenty Palaces series?

Harry:  Plan? Is this "plan" a custom among you Earth People?

I'm going to keep writing them as long as I feel I can wring a worthwhile story out of them, and as long as readers want to read them.

TQ:  What's next?

Harry:  The next Twenty Palaces novel is written and the one after that has been started. I also have a book trailer for my newest novel:

I also took a break from the grimmity grimness of the Twenty Palaces series to write a light urban fantasy with a 65 year old socialite and pacifist in the lead. My agent has that on her to-read pile right now. Beyond that, I have a few ideas I want to explore, and I have been wanting to branch out into other genres for a while. We'll see.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery

About the Twenty Palaces Series

Circle of Enemies
Twenty Palaces 3
(Del Rey, August 30, 2011)
Former car thief Ray Lilly is now the expendable grunt of a sorcerer responsible for destroying extradimensional predators summoned to our world by power-hungry magicians. Luckily, Ray has some magic of his own, and so far it’s kept him alive. But when a friend from his former gang calls him back to his old stomping grounds in Los Angeles, Ray may have to face a threat even he can’t handle. A mysterious spell is killing Ray’s former associates, and they blame him. Worse yet, the spell was cast by Wally King, the sorcerer who first dragged Ray into the brutal world of the Twenty Palace Society. Now Ray will have to choose between the ties of the past and the responsibilities of the present, as he and the Society face not only Wally King but a bizarre new predator.

Game of Cages
Twenty Palaces 2
(Del Rey, August 31, 2010)

As a wealthy few gather to bid on a predator capable of destroying all life on earth, the sorcerers of the Twenty Palace Society mobilize to stop them. Caught up in the scramble is Ray Lilly, the lowest of the low in the society—an ex–car thief and the expendable assistant of a powerful sorcerer. Ray possesses exactly one spell to his name, along with a strong left hook. But when he arrives in the small town in the North Cascades where the bidding is to take place, the predator has escaped and the society’s most powerful enemies are desperate to recapture it. All Ray has to do is survive until help arrives. But it may already be too late.

Child of Fire
Twenty Palaces 1
(Del Rey, September 29, 2011)
Ray Lilly is living on borrowed time. He’s the driver for Annalise Powliss, a high-ranking member of the Twenty Palace Society, a group of sorcerers devoted to hunting down and executing rogue magicians. But because Ray betrayed her once, Annalise is looking for an excuse to kill him–or let someone else do the job.

Unfortunately for both of them, Annalise’s next mission goes wrong, leaving her critically injured. With the little magic he controls, Ray must complete her assignment alone. Not only does he have to stop a sorcerer who’s sacrificing dozens of innocent lives in exchange for supernatural power, he must find–and destroy–the source of that inhuman magic.
For more information about the Twenty Palaces books including excerpts and more. please visit Harry's Twenty Palaces site:

About Harry Connolly

Harry Connolly lives in Seattle with his beloved wife, his beloved son, and his beloved library system. You can find him online at

The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win Mass Market Paperback copies of the 3 Twenty Palaces novels (Child of Fire, Game of Cages, and Circle of Enemies) from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Mysteries, Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Mysteries? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Wednesday, September 7, 2011. Void where prohibited by law.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*
SPFBO 2017 Review: The Way Into Chaos by Harry ConnollyCovers Revealed - Khan of Mars and King Khan - February 3, 2013Winners x 8 - September 17, 2011Interview with Harry Connolly and Giveaway - August 31, 2011

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