Read an excerpt from Supersymmetry

If you like a little more science in your fiction and a little more action with your plot, and somehow you haven't tried David Walton's latest thrillers then you're really, really missing out!  The love has been rolling in for his newest release Supersymmetry.   Check out the first chapter excerpt below to see what all the fuss is about.

“Fast-paced, mind-bending, super-scientific yet fully accessible and very understandable to the layman reader.  Full of new possibilities and probabilities, Supersymmetry gives readers a peek into what the future may hold and the cost that comes with it.  This is a science fiction novel full of humanity and all its inherent beauty and ugliness. FANTASTIC - KEEPER”
-RT Book Reviews

“With a confident, deft touch...David Walton explores concepts of quantum physics while expertly weaving the narrative perspectives of two young women.... An engaging science fiction novel about an ultra-dimensional intelligence bent on destroying reality.”
-Shelf Awareness for Readers

“Propelled by high-speed action and digestible science that makes you feel smarter just by reading about it, Supersymmetry is among the best in near-future science fiction.”

“A high-octane, high-tech romp through time and space, with lots of family drama and complex characters to root for…. Fast paced, with cool futuristic science and complex characters and relationships, this is must-read series for science fiction fans.”
-Books, Bones, and Buffy

“A story with cool science and a good heart. All in all, I was completely entertained by this smart, imaginative quantum thriller.”
-Fantasy Literature



It would be the disaster of their generation, like the fall of the Twin Towers or Kennedy’s assassination. Sandra Kelley was one of the early responders, one of the first to see the stadium lying crushed, torn apart as if by an angry giant. She was less than two years out of police academy, a junior officer still doing patrol on the night shift. She had seen victims of traffic accidents, so she wasn’t entirely green, but nothing could have prepared her for this.
It seemed as if every police car, ambulance, and fire truck in the city had been routed to Broad and Pattison, but it wasn’t nearly enough. There had been a Wasted Euth concert at Lincoln Financial Field that night, so there were crowds of gawkers to control, and the number of injured in the parking lot alone was more than they could handle. Debris lay scattered everywhere.
Most of the light poles in the parking lot were still intact, but the stadium wreckage itself was dark, an unexpected hole where once 2000-watt lights had blazed out into the night. The sky was overcast, a brooding bank of clouds that hid the stars and seemed to press down on the city.
Sandra dialed her dad’s phone for what must have been the tenth time. The call went straight to voice mail, just like every other attempt. Her voice was shaking badly. “Dad, please call. Please get this. Tell me you weren’t at the game.”
She called her mom’s phone next. No answer. She had left three mes­sages already, but she left another one anyway. “Mom, it’s Sandra. Please call. Dad was there, wasn’t he? He had tickets. I don’t remember when, but I think it was tonight. He invited me, but I was on duty . . .” She choked on the words and clicked off.
She weaved her way around battered blue plastic seats, strewn across the parking lot alongside unrecognizable pieces of mangled metal and concrete. There were bodies, dozens of them. Some of them were whole. Others were not. She stopped, doubled over, and vomited on her shoes.
Her sergeant took one look at her face and pointed her toward crowd control. Facing away from the stadium as much as possible, she and a dozen other cops shouted people back and strung police tape to cordon off the whole area. The first moment she could, she pulled her phone out of her pocket and called her parents again. Nothing.
“Here.” Another cop pushed a water bottle into her hands. It was Nathan, from her class at the academy. She took the bottle gratefully, swished some water in her mouth, and spat it onto the pavement. It cleared some of the taste of vomit from her mouth, but not the acid taste of fear. She felt jittery and light-headed, like she was on some kind of uppers or a massive dose of caffeine.
“Thanks,” she said, handing back the bottle.
“Keep it,” Nathan said. He was blond and tall, with athletic good looks. The uniform fit him well. She had had a bit of a crush on him back in the day, but he had fallen for a cadet named Danielle instead, and they’d married a week after graduation.
Sandra tried her phone again, but with no result. Nathan studied her face. “You know somebody who was here?”
She nodded, swallowing hard. “My dad. He used to take us all the time, when we were . . .” Her voice cracked, and she pressed her lips together, holding back tears.
“They’ll find him,” Nathan said. “Don’t give up hope.”
She smiled as best she could and nodded her thanks. Heavy earth-moving and construction equipment rolled in, bulldozers and front-end loaders and cranes. Her sergeant pulled her back to help with search and rescue. There were people trapped under eighty-ton blocks of concrete, but no one seemed to agree about the best way to move them safely. She found herself in crews of strangers, moving what rubble could be moved by hand. She was tired, bone tired, but she knew she couldn’t stop. Peo-ple’s lives depended on the work she was doing. And one of them just might be her father.
The FBI rolled in and added to the confusion, waving their badges and trying to preserve the crime scene at the same time rescue workers were tearing it apart. No one seemed to know quite who was in charge. Without direct orders, Sandra did whatever she could, directing EMTs with stretchers, soothing panicked family members, and checking press badges for the reporters that swarmed the site like flies.
While she did all this, she recorded everything she saw. Like most police officers, Sandra wore eyejack lenses, the raw footage feeding into a huge database that could be merged into a single, time-tagged, three-dimensional image of the site. The detectives and bomb experts would study the data for clues as to what had happened. Was it a terrorist attack? Or just a catastrophic engineering failure? Feedback to her lenses told her which views and angles were under-represented, encouraging her to aim her vision in directions that would help fill in the holes.
The news she was getting through her phone told her the media was already pointing fingers at the Turks. With American forces in Poland and Germany blocking the Turkish advance, and the Turkish navy con­trolling access to the Mediterranean, this was hardly a surprise. The talking heads called it a Turkish attack on American soil, comparing it to Pearl Harbor and calling for war. The Turkish president officially denied it, and it was hard for Sandra to see what they would gain from such a move. Though she supposed terrorists operated under a different set of assumptions than most people.
She hadn’t seen her sergeant in hours, so she just wandered the site, joining gangs of workers where she saw a need. She queried the central database to see what views had not yet been covered and headed in those directions, trying to provide as much data as possible to the profes­sionals whose job it was to make sense of it all. All around her, there was the horror of death, so much death that she could hardly take it in. She felt emotionally detached, floating in a protective bubble her mind had formed around the experience. Her awareness collapsed to simple tasks.
Step over the twisted metal. Help lift the concrete slab. Check GPS and shift viewing angle to forty degrees.
Her father still didn’t return her calls.
“Hey! Officer! Could you give me a hand?”
Sandra turned to see a young man in a black Robson Forensic cap waving to her. He was struggling to haul two black hard cases on wheels over the debris-strewn ground.
“Finally,” he said. “What’s a guy got to do to get a girl to pay him some attention?”
She narrowed her eyes, not in the mood for humor. “What do you want?” “Could you take one of these? This
is really a two-person job.”
One of the cases was the size of a large suitcase; the other was big enough to hold a bass fiddle. Sandra took the smaller one. “What is all this stuff?”
“ID equipment,” the forensic tech said, puffing as he hauled on the larger case.
Sandra imagined a lab on wheels, blood testing and DNA, taking samples from the thousands of bodies and determining their identities. “You can do that in the field?”
The tech didn’t answer. They had reached a flat area with a minimum of debris. “This will do,” he said. “Open that one up, will you?”
Inside she found telescoping poles, wires, and what looked like a large security camera. “What kind of ID kit is this?” she asked.
“The best kind, I hope,” the tech said. He opened the larger case. Sandra didn’t understand at first what she was looking at. The case seemed to be stacked with dozens of small electric fans.
The tech circled around to the smaller case and pulled out lengths of pipe, assembling them with ease. In short order, he constructed a ten-foot tripod stand with the camera device on top. From the bottom of the case, he extracted a box with levers and a long antenna, like a remote control. “Stand back,” he said.
He flipped a switch, and the larger case started rumbling. It vibrated visibly, chattering against the concrete.
“What—” Sandra started to say, but she was interrupted by a sound like the buzzing of a hundred angry bees. Out of the case rose a formation of two dozen quad-rotored helicopters, each the size of a dinner plate. They dipped in unison, shearing off to the right just as a second forma­tion rose up to take their place. Each formation was a perfect rectangle, six copters by four, flying inches apart and moving as if locked together. At a cue from the tech, they left their places and flowed into a new forma­tion, twenty-four wide by two deep.
He pressed another button, and the quadcopters shot off toward the ruined stadium, doing twenty or thirty miles an hour, eight feet above the ground. Several people shouted or leapt away, but the copters veered effortlessly to miss all obstacles, breaking out of formation or angling their flight as necessary. Sandra looked after them in awe. In the darkness, their LED lights swirled like a swarm of fireflies. Above her head, the device that looked like a camera came alive, smoothly slewing back and forth as if aiming at each of the receding quadcopters in rapid succession.
Some of the people nearby threw dirty looks their way. A few picked themselves off the ground after diving to avoid the copter brigade.
Sandra forgot her astonishment and wondered if she’d just been tricked. She had no idea what this guy was doing, but it wasn’t forensics. Was he a reporter? Or was he a terrorist, out to destroy evidence or make a secondary attack?
She undid the snap that held her pistol in its holster. “Put the remote down,” she said.
He looked bewildered. “But—”
He dropped the remote and held up his hands. “You don’t understand—” “What kind of stunt are you trying to pull? You said this was ID equipment.” She reached for her radio to call him in.
“It is!” he said. “The copters have RFID readers on board. I told you the truth.”
She paused. She would make a fool of herself if she called in a real CSI. “Let me see your ID,” she snapped.
“Honest,” he said.
“ID.” She held out her hand.
Sheepish, he dug around in a pocket and handed up a laminated card. It was a University of Pennsylvania student ID.
“You’re a student?”
He looked offended. “I’m an engineering doctoral candidate in robotics and sensory perception.”
“Put your hands down.”
He put them down. “I’m allowed to be here.”
“What about the cap?”
He took it off and looked at the logo. “Oh,” he said. “Some of the forensic outfits hire us sometimes.”
“And who gave you permission to loose a fleet of helicopters in a crowded search and rescue scene?” she said.
“It’s a swarm, not a fleet,” he said. “Look, most of the people who died out there have cards in their wallets with RFIDs in them. Credit cards, gas cards, SEPTA cards. They work with magnetic resonance; illuminate them with a burst of radio energy, and they fire back a signal with a number on it. With the right databases, those numbers can be turned into people’s names. The quadcopters tag the number and the GPS coordinates, and boom: we have a map of the positions and IDs of every person on the site. Well, nearly. A lot of them anyway.”
Sandra was cooling down now that he seemed to be legit. She hol­stered her weapon. “What’s the camera for?”
“This?” he said, pointing up at the device on the tripod. “That’s the radio transmitter. I have to use a pretty narrow beam to get a strong enough return signal through the rubble. The copters can’t carry one, so I mount it here and coordinate them. Most RFID readers are two-way, but I had to split it up: the transmitter here to pulse the energy at each spot on the ground, and the copters at the right spot at just the right time to detect any returns.”
“And you had permission to do this?”
He winced. “Sort of.”
“What does ‘sort of’ mean?”
“The chief told me I could do whatever harebrained experiment I wanted as long as I got out of her way.” He gave an awkward smile. “I guess I charmed her with my rugged good looks.”
Sandra smiled in spite of herself. The tech wasn’t rugged or good-looking, not by anybody’s definition. He was short and soft, with a thick face, glasses, and a hint of a mustache. His skin was a light, mottled brown, and his hair could have used a trim months ago.
“Oh, fine,” he said. “I see how it is. You like them tall and blond.
Blue eyes, probably. Flawless skin, Swedish accent—I know the type.” “I’m just doing my job. You’d better not be lying about the chief, because
I’m going to check.” She glanced back at his ID card. “Your name is Angel?” “An-HEL. The g is pronounced with an h sound.” He rolled his eyes. Her smile vanished. “What?”
“I know what you’re thinking. Who would name a boy ‘Angel’? Typical American. I’ll have you know Angel was the fifth most popular name for boys born in Mexico last year.”
“Is that where you’re from?” she asked. “Mexico?”
“Born and bred.” He lifted his chin high. “Spent my whole life in San Antonio, until last year.”
Sandra paused. “Isn’t San Antonio in the United States?”
“There you go again, with your prejudicial comments,” Angel said. “Only Americans think it’s in the United States.”
This time she caught the sparkle in his eyes. “Are you serious?”
He grinned, breaking the tension. “I’d say about twenty percent of the time.”
She wanted to punch him. She couldn’t tell when he meant what he was saying and when he was just messing with her. In her current state of high tension, she didn’t find that funny. On the other hand, she was having a conversation, and having a conversation meant not looking at the scene around her, expecting to stumble over her father’s body at any moment.
The angry buzzing sound grew louder, and she turned just in time to see the swarm of quadcopters bearing down on her. She gasped and ducked, but the copters reined up short, breaking off into groups of four. Each group of four wheeled up to Angel, hovering around him for a few moments before banking away again. He snapped open a laptop and typed rapidly.
“It’s working!” he said, the astonishment evident in his voice. “You’re surprised? Haven’t you tried this before?”
“In the lab, sure, but not in real life.”
“You covered the whole site already?”
“No, not even close.” As the last foursome left him, the copters slid into formation and shot away toward the wreckage again. “It’ll take hours to cover everything. But that’s a lot better than days, maybe weeks, of dozens of techs with handheld readers doing the same thing. The information won’t be con­clusive; people will still have to confirm each identification, actually look at each body. But as a preliminary map, it should save a lot of effort and let family members know about their loved ones more quickly.”
He rotated the laptop to show her the screen. It was an aerial map of the site, flanked by Pattison Avenue and Hartranft Street. One corner was peppered with yellow dots. Angel zoomed in on that corner, and the dots bloomed out into numbers.
“Each of those points is a person. Probably,” he said. “There are RFIDs in other things, too.”
“And from that you know who they are?”
“Well, I don’t,” he said. “I don’t have access to those databases. But the police do, you can be certain, and if there are any they don’t have, the feds can get them.”
Sandra studied the design the dots made on the screen, swooping in zigzagging curves. It didn’t look random. “Why does it make a pattern?” Angel shrugged. “I don’t know.”
She thought about what her dad would say, seeing a pattern like that. “It might be important,” she said. “If things were thrown around in a recognizable pattern, we might be able to determine what caused this, maybe even track down the source.”
Another shrug. “I work in a robotics lab, but I’ll tell you one thing; this was no bomb.”
She cocked her head at him. “What do you mean?”
“There was no fire,” he said. “Nothing’s burned. And look at how the stadium collapsed—it looks more like it fell in on itself than like it was blown out. Most of the rubble is piled up inside, on the playing field. More like an earthquake. Or a sinkhole.”
He was right. It was obvious, now that she thought about it. There was plenty of debris in the parking lot, but it looked more like it had been pushed by the force of the falling stadium walls, not like the walls themselves had been blown out. But there had been no earthquake; at least not that anyone was reporting in the news. “Maybe there were a lot of smaller charges placed at key spots,” she said. “Arranged so that the walls would fall in and kill as many people as possible.”
Angel nodded, thoughtful. “Hey,” he said, “if we know where the people are now, and where they were originally sitting, maybe we could draw lines from their starting point to where they ended up. We could track the vectors of force.”
He was getting excited, but all she could think about was the image of her father’s body being blown out of his seat. She felt sick and put her hand over her mouth.
A female cop ran up to her, dark hair blown back in the wind. It was Danielle, Nathan’s wife. “Sandra,” she said, “you’ve got to come now.” “What is it?”
“I think it’s your father.”
Sandra’s mind rebelled at the words. She wanted to punch Danielle in her pretty mouth for daring to say such a thing. “Dead?”
Danielle didn’t answer, but her eyes told Sandra everything.
Sandra followed her at a run to where Nathan stood over a body on the ground. His shoulders were hunched, his eyes dead. He was holding a black leather wallet, worn and familiar. Sandra looked at the wallet, refusing to look down, terror gripping her throat.
She took the wallet and flipped it open. Her father’s face stared up at her from his Pennsylvania driver’s license, but she checked the name anyway. Jacob Kelley. She shook her head, trying to process what she was seeing, the information somehow failing to sink in, even though she’d been expecting it now for hours. She shook her head, trying to push the evidence away, wishing for a return to uncertainty, when it was still possible that he hadn’t been here.
Finally, she looked down. Her father lay on the pavement as naturally as if he’d fallen asleep there.
“I’m sorry,” Nathan began. She waved her hand to fend off his words, and he trailed off. He stood there, awkward, not knowing what to say. Danielle put a hand on her arm. Sandra turned and buried her face into the coarse, blue fabric of Danielle’s shoulder. She felt like she ought to cry, but the tears didn’t come. Danielle stroked her hair, while Sandra took in big gulps of air, like she was drowning.
Her phone rang.
The noise startled her. She reached for it automatically, and then nearly threw it away. She’d been waiting for it to ring all night, and now, when it finally did, it was too late. The automatic movement brought the screen up to her eyes, however, and she saw the number. It was her father’s number.
She answered.
      “Sandra?” Her father’s voice was warm and strong and sweet and utterly recognizable.


Supersymmetry is out now!


Goodbye sunshine.

Even though we haven't quite reached the Fall Equinox yet, we're all painfully aware that summer is over.  The weather can't decide what it wants to do, so we leave the house wearing boots and come home from work wearing flip flops. Or maybe that's just in Western New York.

Any who, we're excited for Fall because we have some seriously awesome books coming out.  From a quantum creature bent on destroying the world, to a war against humans and vampires, to a parallel world full of magic and gunpowder, we've got everything you could hope for this season.


Steampunk, steampunk, everywhere!

Alternate history? Check. Steampunk?  Double check. Time traveling? Wait, wait, dimension travelling? Yep, we've got that covered too.

Mark Hodder brings you all the above and more in his sprawling six-book Burton & Swinburne series.  They're actually two separate trilogies, and the last three books can be read separately from the first three, but Hodder's details seamlessly connect all his books in a way we can't even begin to describe. And this month, the saga concludes with The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats.

If you've picked up any of the first books, either The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack or The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man, or even if you started with The Secret of Abdu El Yezdi, you'll need to see how this one ends.

They say don't judge a book by it's cover, but seriously how can you not?


Inside the mind of Imago Bone

Ever wanted to get into the mind of a character? Well, even deeper than literally reading his or her thoughts and actions throughout a book?

Take a glimpse inside the failing mind of Imago Bone in Chris Willrich's newest book The Chart of Tomorrows. This handy list was written by Bone to help him remember the people he's met, the places he's seen, and the creatures that tried to kill him.  Sounds like a helpful list, if you ask me.



A-Girl-Is-A-Joy: Also, Joy Snøsdatter, Joy. Daughter of Snow Pine. Chosen to be the Runethane, champion of the Bladed Isles. It might have gone easier for her if she hadn’t.
A Tumult of Trees on Peculiar Peaks: Also known as the Scroll of Years. A landscape painting that either contains or accesses a pocket dimension of accelerated time. You see, Gaunt? I can use magical jargon too.
Aile: A headwoman of the Vuos people. I heard of her much later, yet somehow I feel she belongs here.
Alder: A former wizardly apprentice, my comrade at the Gull-Jarl’s steading.
Alfhild: A human raised as one of the fey uldra-folk. A princess of the uldra, no less. It seems to have affected her mind.
All-Now, the: Mirabad term for the compassionate creator of the universe.
Anansi: An exploratory ship from Kpalamaa.
Arngrimur Townflayer: One of the Nine Wolves. You may notice a theme in their names.
Arnulf Pyre-Maker: One of the Nine Wolves.
Ash-lad, or Askelad: A peasant hero from folktales.
Aughatai: Jewelwolf’s horse. There was something very wrong with that horse.
Beinahruga: Cairn.
Bone: A fool. No, that’s not all. An old fool.
Brambletop: A young woman of Larderland. It hurts to think of her now.
Breakwing Island: A troll-inhabited island beside Spydbanen.
Cairn: A Chooser of the Slain.
changeling: A troll or uldra child, left in place of a kidnapped human child.
Chart of Tomorrows, The: The Winterjarl’s protean book, full of cryptic passages and alarming maps.
Chooser of the Slain: An agent of the old gods of the Bladed Isles.
Claymore: A troll.
Clifflion: Grand Khan of the Karvaks.
Corinna: Princess, later queen, of Soderland. I was never sure where we stood with her, but I was always sure she was in charge.
Crypttongue: A magic sword Gaunt wielded for a time. I hate magic swords.
Deadfall: A sapient magic carpet. Before I met it, those words would not have seemed frightening.
Dolma: An exiled warrior of Xembala. For a time she helped my son. I am grateful.
Draug: A spirit creature found upon the sea and within the Straits of Tid. Draugar can take the forms of dead folk you’ve known.
Draugmaw: An unnatural, gigantic maelstrom. It has Draugar in it.
Einar Bringer of Wailing: One of the Nine Wolves.
Eldshore, the: A slowly crumbling but still mighty continental empire.
Erik Glint: A foamreaver and Larderman.
Eshe: Priestess, wanderer, warrior, spy. Possibly our employer.
eventyr: Fairy tales.
Everart: Rabble-rouser of Soderland. Quite good at it.
Fiskegard: Independent-minded islands founded by fishermen, nominally part of Oxiland, periodically filled with itinerant workers. I came from a family of fishermen, and the scent was like home.
Five Fjords: A shaky alliance of the towns of Lillefosna, Vestvjell, Vesthall, Grimgard, and Regnheim.
Floki: A slaver.
Foamreaver: Can be a seafarer, trader, raider, or all of them together.
Freidar: An old tavernkeeper and Runewalker. Husband of Nan. Kind to Innocence, he was a good companion when we sailed aboard Leaping Bison.
Gamellaw: A region governed by old laws under which steadings are the unit of civilization, not nations. Takes in Svardmark from the Morkskag to the Chained Straits, and all of Spydbanen.
Garmsmaw Pass: A mountain pass connecting Garmstad territory to northern Svardmark.
Garmstad: A town and territory allied to Soderland.
Gaunt: What I call Persimmon when we’re about our errands. The other half of my mind.
Gissur Mimurson: An Oxiland chieftain.
Gold-Jarl, or Gull-Jarl: Ruler of the small country of Gullvik.
Grawik: The steading of Ottmar Bloodslake.
Great Chain of Unbeing: A huge artifact absorbing the power of the dragons whose immense bodies gave form to the Bladed Isles.
Grunndokk: A town paying tribute to the Gull-Jarl.
Gullvik: Name of a town and a small domain in Svardmark.
Gunlaug: An overseer at the Gull-Jarl’s steading.
Haboob: An efrit, a spirit of the desert.
Hakon: The retired king of Soderland.
Harald the Far-Traveled: Chieftain of the Laksfjord region.
Havtor: A slave in the Gull-Jarl’s steading. May his name be honored.
Haytham ibn Zakwan ibn Rihab: Inventor and gentleman of Mirabad, daring to combine natural philosophy and magic. He gave the world ballooning. I might regret that, had I never flown.
Heavenwalls: Vast fortifications of Qiangguo—and beyond!—which somehow channel the land’s vital breath.
Hekla: Huginn Sharpspear’s companion. I think she was more formidable than he.
Huginn Sharpspear: A chieftain, lawyer, and tale-teller of Oxiland.
Imago: What Persimmon calls me, amid the least or greatest dangers.
Inga: She was half of the duo responsible for Peersdatter and Jorgensdatter’s Eventyr. A mighty fighter, and brave.
Innocence Gaunt: Our son.
Ironhorn: A Karvak general.
Ivar Garm: Lord Mayor of Garmstad Town.
Jaska: A girl who turned Innocence’s head in Oxiland.
Jegerhall: The steading of Arnulf Pyre-Maker.
Jewelwolf: Wife of the Grand Khan and a powerful leader in her own right. As if that wasn’t enough to make me nervous, also knowledgeable in magic. Sister of Steelfox.
Jokull Loftsson: Strongest of the Oxiland chieftains.
Jotuncrown: A settlement of humans in thrall to the troll-jarl in the Trollberg.
Joy: What we all called A-Girl-Is-A-Joy.
Katta, called the Mad: One of many names for the wandering monk of the Undetermined whom we knew. A big-hearted person, though I think he regarded me as a miscreant. Truly I have no idea why.
Kantenings: The humans of the Bladed Isles, excepting the Vuos, who stand apart.
Kantenjord: It means something like “Edge-lands.” Outsiders know it better as the Bladed Isles.
Karvak Realm: The empire of the Grand Khan.
Karvaks: The mightiest nomads of the steppes.
Klarvik: A town in Soderland.
Kolli the Cackling: One of the Nine Wolves.
Kollr: A young follower of the old gods in Oxiland, whom Innocence befriended.
Kpalamaa: A mighty realm of the South. If Qiangguo is not the world’s most advanced nation, it is this.
Laksfjord: A surprisingly pleasant community near the Morkskag.
Langfjord: The steading of Kolli the Cackling.
Lardermen: Elite group of foamreavers, who made their name bringing supplies past a blockade.
Leaftooth: Head monk of the Peculiar Peaks.
Liron Flint: Explorer, treasure hunter, friend.
Loftsson’s Hall: Steading of Oxiland’s most powerful chieftain, with many allied folk nearby.
Lysefoss: A settlement beside a spectacular waterfall. I’d have appreciated it more if we hadn’t been running for our lives.
Malin: She was half of the duo responsible for Peersdatter and Jorgensdatter’s Eventyr. A brave soul. An unusual mind.
Meteor-Plum: The guardian of the Scroll of Years sometimes goes by this name.
Mirabad: Name for both a great city and the caliphate it commands. Once its power made the world tremble; its wealth and learning still make the world envious.
Morkskag, the: The haunted forest that divides “civilized” Svardmark from the Gamellaw.
Mossbeard: A troll.
Muggur Barrow-Friend: One of the Nine Wolves.
Muninn Crowbeard: Once a foamreaver styled “Surehand.” He changed, more than once.
Nan: An old tavernkeeper and Runewalker. Wife of Freidar. Those two were kind to Innocence and did as much as anyone could to protect their homeland. I, a selfish man, am in awe.
Nine Smilodons: The Karvak soldier we traveled with for a time.
Nonyemeko: Captain of Anansi.
Northwing: A taiga shaman in service to Steelfox. Powerful as friend or enemy. I would know.
Numi: A Swan-church novitiate whom Innocence befriended.
Ostoland: A heavily wooded island, of somewhat insular folk.
Ottmar Bloodslake: One of the Nine Wolves.
Oxiland: A volcanic realm, and some associated islands, in Kantenjord’s northwest. A bleak country, settled by stubborn people with notions of democracy. Clearly they are mad. It’s tempting to join them.
Painter of Clouds: Swanlings use this term for what Mirabad’s people call the All-Now; they got the name from the People of the Brush.
Peersdatter and Jorgensdatter’s Eventyr: A surprisingly useful book of folk-tales.
Peik: A boy from Klarvik, by his own account absolutely the most truthful person that this or any other world has known.
Persimmon: See Gaunt. She is the one who should be writing this down; she has the gift for words. But she forgets little and doesn’t see the need. She remembers the time I did this, and the time I did that, and the other thing. And yet she is still with me.
Qiangguo: A vast realm of the East. If Kpalamaa is not the world’s most advanced nation, it is this.
Qurca: Steelfox’s peregrine falcon, bonded to her spirit.
Rafnar Dragon-Axe: One of the Nine Wolves.
Ragnar: Half-brother of Corinna of Soderland.
Red Mirror: A Karvak soldier.
Roisin: A Swanling priestess. A fine person, surely, but a little too cozy with
Rolf: A young Swanling of Oxiland, whom Innocence befriended.
Rubblewrack: A troll, or so she appeared.
Runethane, or Runemarked Queen or King: The one who commands the energies of the Great Chain of Unbeing.
Runewalkers: Traditional mages of Kantenjord. Their power derives from tracings of  mystic runes. Some of their tracings are enormous.
Ruvsa: Pirate queen of Larderland.
Schismglass: A magic sword, akin to Crypttongue but antagonistic.
Skalagrim the Bloody: One of the Nine Wolves. I’ll say no more about him.
Skrymir Hollowheart: Lord of trolls in Spydbanen and, effectively, everywhere else.
Skyggeskag, the: An elder forest in Soderland, cousin to the Morkskag.
Snow Pine: Once known as Next-One-a-Boy or simply Next One. A bandit of Qiangguo and a companion to Persimmon and me. Our best friend.
Smokecoast: The largest settlement of Oxiland.
Soderland: Strongest and richest of the local kingdoms, principalities, chiefdoms, and what-have-yous. Therefore, the biggest target.
Splintrevej: Maze-like scattering of islands in the heart of Kantenjord.
Spydbanen: The northeastern of Kantenjord’s main islands, and home to its most violent jarls, including the troll-jarl. The Vuos people live in its extreme north.
Steelfox: A princess of the Karvak Realm, determined to conquor the Earthe in the memory of her father, the first Grand Khan.  Even with all that in mind, I liked her.
Storfosna: A town in Soderland.
Stormhamn: A town in Soderland.
Sturla’s Steading: The home of Huginn and Hekla.
Styr Surturson: An Oxiland chieftain.
Surtfell: The great volcano of Oxiland.
Svanstad: The capital of Soderland and largest city in the Bladed Isles.
Svardmark: Kantenjord’s largest island, home to what passes for its civilized lands.
Swan Goddess: The deity said to have sacrificed herself to save the world. Accounted the daughter of the Painter of Clouds.
Swanisle: An island nation, closer to the continent than are the Bladed Isles. Gaunt’s homeland. Legend has it it’s the petrified body of the Swan Goddess. I am not weighing in on this.
Swanling: The Kantenings call the Swan Goddess’s followers this.
Tlepolemus: A fellow far-traveled adventurer who became a Larderman.
Torfa: Jokull Loftsson’s wife. By report, an exemplar of Kantening ferocity.
Trollberg, the: The troll mountain-fortress beside Jotuncrown.
uldra: A varied nonhuman folk who sometimes dwell underground and sometimes in other worlds entirely.
Undetermined, the: An enlightened being venerated in the East.
Varmvik: A town in Soderland.
Vatnar: An important churchman of Oxiland.
Vinderhus: A whaling community in Oxiland.
Vuos: A human community distinct from the Kantenings. They herd reindeer and have shamanistic beliefs.
Vuk: A man of the Wagonlords on the continent, my comrade at the Gull-Jarl’s steading.
Walking Stick: An itinerant official of Qiangguo. Also a wulin warrior, capable of esoteric combat moves. A good ally, and a bad enemy, to have. He’s been both.
Wiglaf: A legendary warrior, whose fate was tied up with the swords Crypttongue and Schismglass. I don’t envy him.
Winterjarl, the: Harbinger of Fimbulwinter and Ragnarok, or so we thought.
Wormeye: A troll.
Xembala: A paradisiacal eastern land, a source of ironsilk. There are times I’d like to be there.
Yngvarr Thrall-Taker: One of the Nine Wolves. He surprised us at the end.


For all things Gaunt & Bone, check out The Scroll of Years and The Silk Map!


Missing your favorite Earth Girl?

Feel like it's been forever since you've spent time with Jarra?  Think you physically cannot survive without some interplanetary travel before the final book, Earth Flight, comes out in September?

Well, luckily for you author Janet Edwards was nice enough to release some short stories featuring your favorite characters! Available now on Kindle (other devices coming soon) is the prequel collection Earth 2788 that you can grab for only $0.99.  Less than a buck?  Can't argue with that bargain.  Well, you technically can't argue with anything other than a human, unless you don't care about it being one-sided, but we don't judge.

And if you haven't had the chance to hop into Edwards' futuristic world, then Earth 2788 is a nice taste of what you've been missing.  


Summa Summa Summa Summa...

Oh summa (er, summer), we're glad you finally showed up.  And since you've suddenly got all this free time on your hands, how about you catch up on your TBR pile by the pool?

Because you know what comes after summer, and this fall you'll want to be caught up for these next installments...


Father's Day is Coming.

It's been less than a week since the season finale of Game of Thrones, and this Sunday we're supposed to be showering dads everywhere with something they'll love. We see an action-packed, fantasy-driven void that needs to be filled! Skip the cutesy coffee mugs and uninventive gift cards and give him something that will get his adrenaline pumping.

Read more in this months' Pyr-a-zine enewlstter!


Oathkeeper has arrived

Looking to jump into a new series? Miss the old days where elves and dwarves could still swing a sword? Well, news this month is the second book in J. F. Lewis's Grudgebearer Trilogy, OATHKEEPER, and we've got an excerpt for you!

If you like what you read, don't forget to grab the first book GRUDGEBEARER, so you...ya know...know what's going on.


Night birds called in the outer dark, joining a chorus comprised of tent fabric shifting in the gentle breeze and the chirps, cries, and grunts of nocturnal creatures. Rivvek loved those sounds; even the sea lapping against the pier at Oot contributed to the unscripted opus.
Combined with the scent of stale air inside the tent and the snores of another person nearby, the sensorial collage conjured memories of brighter days camping with his father the king . . . even hunting trips with his younger brother before Dolvek had become so insufferable. Rivvek had hoped his brother’s encounter with Kholster would be transformative.
If it had been, Rivvek couldn’t see it.
Elsewhere in the ramshackle encampment, Oathkeepers and Oath-breakers alike slept soundly, dreams little disturbed by the Grand Conjunc-tion’s approaching end.
Their world is about to change in ways they cannot even imagine, he thought, blind to the turning of the gears in the great destiny machine.
The great destiny machine.
Rivvek smirked at the thought of it. Once he’d believed the gnomes worshipped a literal device that wove the skein of mortal fates. When he’d realized numbers were the gnomish religion and their great destiny machine merely a codified method of determining likely outcomes, he’d been sorely disappointed . . . and then, years later as he lay healing under the care of the Vael, he’d learned to do the math.
The gnomes played a game with triangular tiles: trignom. Queen Kari of the Vael had given him a set during his convalescence. He had never learned to play well. Irka, Kholster’s son—a perfect double called an Incarna—always beat him, but Rivvek remembered building patterns with the double-sided num­bered tiles atop the stiff and pungent plaster in which the Vael healers kept most of him wrapped, and knocking them over to watch the trignoms fall.
The whole world was like those tumbling tiles if you knew how to look at it, and, eyes having been so painfully and thoroughly opened, Rivvek knew no other way.
My graduation approaches.
Rivvek considered his true education to have begun at the Grand Con­junction a hundred and thirteen years ago. It marked his thoughts then as

clearly as the scars he’d received afterward warped his flesh. Was it fair to hold the lack of such learning against his brother? An Eldrennai who still had his magic, whose body was whole and hale?
Prince Rivvek lay in the dark, incapable of slumber, stacking up the trignoms in his thoughts, looking at them from every angle and doing the math. The first tile would be flicked over soon. It was a tile he would have given almost anything to protect, to place his hand over the tile and hold it in place safe and secure. There were three ways to stop it he could accomplish alone, but then the pattern changed, and the new designs woven into the great destiny machine spelled doom for the Eldrennai.
He wasn’t sure why the Zaur hadn’t started burning Root Trees yet. The math said they should. Perhaps his formulae were off in that regard, but his calculations, his own personal version of the great destiny machine, was far more accurate when it came to the Eldren Plains and the politics and machi­nations of the Eldrennai.
Those sums spelled destruction now. He had not yet been born when Uled had created the Aern, a race of warriors to defend against the reptilian Zaur and their magic resistance. For each new problem, it now seemed, Uled had created a new race and with each race, the path to doom had become more and more difficult to avoid.
Uled had wanted to restrict the Aern’s ability to breed, creating them all male, thinking he could use low-born Eldrennai women with little magic and no connections as brood mares for his warriors, but bearing Aern, with their bone-steel and unique nutritional properties, rendered an Eldrennai female barren, often after the first birth.
Nine in ten. Rivvek saw the statistics in his head, marveling at how much cruelty could be concealed when suffering and evil were disguised as numbers.
To solve the breeding issue, Uled had created the plantlike Vael, their bodies designed to be both appealing to the Aern and easily capable of pro­ducing many Aern offspring, quite rapidly if the raw materials were available in sufficient quantities.
Two gallons of blood per infant to be awakened. . . . Words from Uled’s notes haunted Rivvek, but he’d needed to know, to understand, so that he could get the numbers right. His predictive model required deadly accuracy.
On the page, everything looked like it would work, but chaos, the natural tendency for change, had not been accounted for in any of Uled’s plans or designs. First came the appearance of female Aern, then male Vael.
Worse were the changes and complications brought in by individuals in

power. Enslaved by Uled’s magic, unable to refuse a command, or break an oath, the Aern might have remained under complete Eldrennai control forever. Given the pride and arrogance so common to Rivvek’s ancestors, in fact, the entire bloodline of Villok, Rivvek was still astonished it had taken as long as it had for an Eldrennai king to break his word to Kholster, First Born of Uled’s Aern, thus releasing the Aern from the spells that bound them.
From there, even Rivvek’s predictions would have been wrong had he been alive to make them. In prolonged battle against a magic immune warrior race in possession of nigh unbeatable warsuits, even in limited numbers, Rivvek would have projected a complete genocide for the Eldrennai. His cal­culations would have failed to account for the Vael’s inborn desire for peace and mediation as well as the Aern’s affection and respect for them.
The six hundred years of peace they had enjoyed had been a statistical anomaly. Rivvek wondered whether other Eldrennai comprehended how lucky they had been that the uneasy truce had lasted a year, much less six hundred. Even if Dolvek, Rivvek’s brother, had not so stupidly broken the truce by moving the warsuits the Aern had left behind as part of the truce, it would have ended eventually. At that time, the oath made by Kholster to slay every Eldrennai would have come into effect, and the path upon which they now walked would still be theirs. Only the date had been variable.
But, as his own scarred body told the world, there are varying levels of ruination. One can be scourged near to death, be broken, and laid waste to and still heal to emerge from the flames, if not whole, then . . . still useful.
“Kings die,” he whispered, his voice breaking, the words strangled. “Fathers die.” He pushed on, forcing himself through a verbalization of the hateful truth. “Everyone dies eventually. It’s making sure that death has as much meaning as . . . as . . .”
Optimize your life and you will be rewarded in the next. That was what the gnomes believed. Rivvek was certain Torgrimm, as god of birth and death, had made it happen. Would Kholster, in his new role as Harvester, do the same? For the gnomes? Rivvek did not doubt he would. For King Grivek?
Eyes closed more against that idea than the dark, Rivvek’s ears perked up. His melted ear tugged against the tender flesh at his temple as he eaves­dropped on the Kingsguard. Their appointed rounds kept them stationed far enough from the cluster of deiform statuary to avoid disturbing the Conjunc­tion itself, but close enough that the brave Eldrennai could charge to their deaths in King Grivek’s defense. Rivvek assumed their voices were overheard just as easily by the Vael and the Aern at Oot as they were by him.

“Now that Kholster’s dead,” a husky-voiced Eldrennai muttered to someone, “our King will make things right between the Grudgebearers and us. You wait and see, Dace.”
Was that Thalan speaking? Rivvek decided it must be.
“You think so, Thal?” Dace breathed.
“She’s not even half a hundred yet,” Thalan chortled. “You think this kholster Rae’en can out-negotiate an Eldrennai king with over half a millen­nium on the throne?”
This then, Rivvek thought, sitting up, is the peril of my people: arrogance unrivaled by any other race and self-deception enough to make Kilke himself blush.
“My prince?” Sargus stirred. Rivvek opened his eyes, making out the aura of Sargus’s life force more easily than he could his features in the night—another “gift” from his time beyond the Port Gates. When one stood too close to a Port Gate or wore armor made of Ghaiattri hide, one could see, as if through a thin veil, the creatures of the Ghaiattri’s realm. Rivvek’s sight afforded him a dual view of reality, particularly at night, the never-dark of that other place seeped into his perceptions. With it came a light that illu­minated the spirits of sentient beings around him. Sargus shone as a whorl of colors, dark, rich purples wending through golds and blues shot through with the occasional bloody red or coal black.
When bending his mind to a problem, the black, red, and purple spread through Sargus, filling him up, the borders assuming jagged lines. Now he was mostly blues and golds. Colors Dolvek thought of as safer. He hadn’t been able to completely codify the internal palettes of others, but the inner black was not good.
Sargus had fallen asleep reading. Blinking to focus on the real world as much as he could, Rivvek barely made out the glint of the other elf’s goggles in the scant light that crept in from outside. A full moon.
“I’m sorry to wake you,” Rivvek whispered.
“I shouldn’t have fallen asleep,” Sargus answered. “Shall I—?”
“No,” Rivvek interrupted. “Let me do it. I need the practice.”
Rivvek heard an intake of breath as if Sargus had been about to object, but the Artificer held his tongue.
A prince still has pride, Rivvek chided himself, even a magic-crippled one. Rivvek rubbed his eyes, clearing away scratchy motes of “sleep” from the corners. He took a long deep breath, held it, let it out again.
Mustering a supreme effort of will, Rivvek forced his inner power to its utmost. Veins stood out on his forehead. His scars grew hot then aching— pain a constant chaser to the savor of his magic now—and fire raged forth: a

gleaming white flame no bigger than the wisp atop the wick of a lit candle hovered above the tip of his index finger.
Warm illumination filled the tent, revealing the smiling face of Sargus where he sat in the strange folding-chair contraption of brass and leather that let him adjust the back to recline or sit up straight if needed. Rivvek didn’t know how it could be as comfortable as Sargus claimed.
Thoughts focused on the bit of mystic flame, Rivvek crossed the tent and lit a lantern sitting upon a small camp table. Wiping a bead of sweat from his cheek, Rivvek scratched absently at his nightshirt, as the pain in his scars faded with the magic. The heat would take longer to dissipate, a side effect for which none had been able to provide adequate explanation.
“Find anything we missed?” Rivvek nodded at the leather tome open on Sargus’s lap.
“No.” Sargus closed the volume, shifting it from his lap to a nearby camp table. “We do still need to make sure we take care of the Stone Lord, just in case—”
“One son and two daughters,” Rivvek interrupted. He waved to his left in the vague direction of the other Aiannai tents, the temporary homes of those who had followed him to Oot hoping their prince and their new status as Oathkeepers would save them from the Aern. “Each to inherit in an order we’ve already hammered out. They relayed their request via Caz’s warsuit Silencer. I handled it on my last trip.”
“Who took them in?”
“Is it horrible that I don’t remember?” Rivvek yawned. “But with Lady Flame, the Sea Lord, Lady Air, and the Stone Lord . . .”
“That’s all of the elemental council dealt with except for Hasimak.” Sargus yawned despite himself. “He is more powerful than you realize. Were he to oppose us, he could still—”
“No.” Rivvek pulled his nightshirt over his head revealing Kholster’s scars upon his back: a diamond shape at the base of his spine with two par­allel lines marking each facet, the right-angled wedges at each shoulder, and a thumb-width line along his spine. Far from the only things that marked his back, the scars of the First of One Hundred merely filled in the space not marked by the various elemental foci that dotted his back in winglike arcs in failed attempts to restore the full might of his magic.
Once . . . he cut the thought off ruefully and reached for his traveling clothes. Once these clothes were clean and fresh. They were rank from the multiple visits to and from Port Ammond, but he could get a change of clothes when he got there. A bath, too. He’d almost given in to the temptation to bring

a cleaning wardrobe, but doing so had felt too extravagant. “We’ll go with your strategy.”
“It’s risky. Even with the elemental lords and ladies siding with you, the people could still riot. Even if Hasimak is with us, he will never turn on his own people. If the citizens revolt . . . he has always been loyal to the crown. Longer than the crown has existed, actually, and there are far more non-magic-using Eldrennai than there have ever been. Aern have proved how much trouble opponents without magic can be. The plan is—”
“Not as risky as you think it is.” Rivvek heard footsteps outside his tent flap. Two steps took him close enough to throw them open. He smiled when doing so revealed Brigadier Bhaeshal, his personal Aeromancer.
“Just happened to be in the area, Bash?” Rivvek teased.
“Finally used to your new schedule.” She smiled. Dressed as Rivvek was in a traveling tunic, trousers, and boots, Bhaeshal would have made Hasi-mak’s nose wrinkle in dismay at her lack of formal robes, but they weren’t really all that sensible for long flights. “Lord Artificer.” She nodded to Sargus, the light from the candle reflected in the masklike band of steel that was her elemental foci. She looked back at him with those pale white crystalline eyes, and he returned her gaze warmly.
“Lady Aeromancer,” Sargus nodded back.
“Will you both be coming?”
“Perhaps I ought to stay and . . .” Sargus trailed off.
“Look after my father?” Rivvek smiled. “I wish there were something you could do to change his fate, but there isn’t. I need you with me . . . to stop Hasimak from taking the throne.”
“Please don’t even jest about that.” Sargus got up.
Rivvek tried not to let it worry him. Yes, Hasimak was the oldest living Eldrennai, but it was hard to imagine how he could be a threat to . . . well, to the Aern if it came down to it. No, Rivvek was forced to ask kholster Rae’en for assistance. It would be sad to see Hasimak go, but if that was the required sac­rifice to save as many of Rivvek’s people, as many of the Eldrennai, as he could. Rivvek intended to make that sacrifice and any others the gods demanded.
“Don’t forget the book.” He gestured, and Sargus picked the heavy tome up off of the camp table.
“My prince . . .” Sargus put a hand on Rivvek’s shoulder and seemed momentarily surprised by the scars beneath his tunic, still hot to the touch even through the fabric. “Maybe she won’t kill him.”
“Kings die. A good king dies for his people when it is required.” Riv-vek’s voice cracked as he whispered the words. Believing them didn’t take

dismiss their sting in the slightest. “You just promise me we’ll make his sacrifice mean something.”
They flew before dawn, sunrise catching up with them halfway to Port Ammond. The rising light lent the flowing myr grass a fiery aspect. Rivvek, carried by Bhaeshal’s Aeromancy, caught himself staring down at it and remembering another departure one hundred and thirteen years before.
He’d been scarless then, a haughty elemental lord with command of all four elements as was his birthright. A Flamewing, like his mother, when he worked magic wings of fire sprouted from his back. A glory to behold. It had been like armor, that pride, and Kholster had cracked it.
The Aern himself, First of One Hundred, stood in the last light of the third day of the Grand Conjunction, bone-steel mail—uledinium, his people had called it, but Rivvek would never dare to refer to it as that again—denim trousers belted at the waist with knotted bone-steel chain. Even those clunky boots had seemed grand to the prince. A Vael princess named Kari (not-yet-queen), her head petals cascading over Kholster’s shoulder as she leaned against him, watched Rivvek with sad, wide eyes.
“You are right,” Rivvek said hoarsely. “What you say is true. My father told me I should believe your version of any history you chose to share with me and, hard as it is, I do. But, Kholster, what would you have me do? How can I fix this? My people. My ancestors. There is no excuse for what they did to you. No excuse for my father’s order at As You Please. No excuse for the mistreatment of the Vael. Not for any of it. I came here ready to hate you. Maybe I did hate you at first, but now . . .”
“There is nothing you can do, Oathbreaker prince,” Kholster said, his voice gentle. “But I, or my representative, will return again in one hundred years for the next Conjunction if for no other reason than that you have heard and believed. You have my oath on it.”
Rivvek opened his mouth to object.
“Unasked for,” Kholster laughed. “I know.”
“I will find a way,” Rivvek answered. “I will find a way, not to make things right, but as right as they can be.”
Kholster laughed again. “Good hunting then, but I fear your quarry is long dead, if it ever existed.”
“Princess Kari,” Rivvek shook his head. “Is there anything I can offer the Vael other than my apology?”

“The Vael have no Litany to recite against you, Prince Rivvek.” Kari
smiled pityingly at him. “You are guilty of nothing in my—or our—eyes.
Keep it that way and we ask nothing more. If Kholster agrees, you are even
welcome in The Parliament of Ages.”
Kholster nodded his assent.
“Such,” Rivvek answered, “is my intent.”
“No promise?” Kholster asked.
“I swear that it is my intent, but I cannot read what the future may hold

. . . and accidents happen.”