Malazan Reread of the Fallen: Assail, Chapter Fifteen

Welcome back to the Malazan Reread of the Fallen! Every post will start off with a summary of events, followed by reaction and commentary by your hosts Bill and Amanda, and finally comments from readers. Today we’re continuing Ian Cameron Esslemont’s Assail, covering chapter fifteen.

A fair warning before we get started: We’ll be discussing both novel and whole-series themes, narrative arcs that run across the entire series, and foreshadowing, but the summary of events will be free of major spoilers and we’re going to try keeping the reader comments the same. A spoiler thread has been set up for outright Malazan spoiler discussion.

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Series: Malazan Reread of the Fallen

The Clairvoyants Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of Karen Brown’s The Clairvoyants, available February 7th from Henry Holt & Company!

The Clairvoyants is Karen Brown’s most hypnotic novel to date—gothic-inflected psychological suspense that unmasks the secret desires of a young woman with a mystical gift

On the family homestead by the sea where she grew up, Martha Mary saw ghosts. As a young woman, she hopes to distance herself from those spirits by escaping to an inland college town. There, she is absorbed by a budding romance, relieved by separation from an unstable sister, and disinterested in the flyers seeking information about a young woman who’s disappeared—until one Indian summer afternoon when the missing woman appears beneath Martha’s apartment window, wearing a down coat, her hair coated with ice.

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 12:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on January 20th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on January 24th. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor:, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

The One Book That Introduced Me to Internet Fandom and Coincidentally Led to True Love

There are a couple of things you should know about me before I tell you this story. The first is that I’ve been a fan of Stephen King for as long as I can really remember. I think my first of his books might have been Needful Things, and from there I would borrow as many as I could from the library, heaving home huge stacks of those doorstops with their black covers and lurid fonts. The second thing is that I have a terrible tendency to read things in the wrong order. It’s not a deliberate quirk—more that I have a relaxed attitude to sensible chronology. I think this was also something I picked up from being a big borrower of library books; I would take whatever book happened to be on the shelf at the time, regardless of whether it was the next one I was supposed to read or not.

Now I must take you back to 1997. My mum had gotten into the habit of buying me two things at Christmas: whatever hardback Terry Pratchett book happened to be out, and whatever hardback Stephen King book happened to be out. That year, it was Wizard & Glass, which my mum merrily bought and popped under the Christmas tree, not realizing that it was the fourth volume in King’s The Dark Tower series. And let’s be fair, it didn’t worry me too much. I was, after all, the person who started reading The Sandman with The Kindly Ones. I was a maverick. A loose cannon.

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See Ellen Klages and Celebrate Passing Strange This Spring!

Next Tuesday, you’ll finally be able to get your hands on Passing Strange, the new novella from Nebula and World Fantasy Award winning author Ellen Klages. Called “a moving and genuine love story” by The Washington Post, the book takes place in San Francisco in 1940, and revolves around the intersecting lives of six women discovering romance and danger in the boundaries where magic, science, and art intersect. You can read an excerpt over at the Book Smugglers, and if you’re in the Bay Area, Oregon, or Orlando, you’ll have a chance to see Ellen as she celebrates the release of Passing Strange with readings and events this spring!

See a full list of events from January to March below.

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Five Books About Espionage

Whenever the subject of writing about espionage comes up in conversation and I say it’s something I’m interested in, the immediate reaction I’ve come to expect is, “Oh, you mean like James Bond?” It’s actually quite predictable, just as “Oh, like Star Wars?” used to be the usual reaction to me saying I write science fiction … and it’s just as wrong.

This month Tor published Empire Games, the first book in my Empire Games trilogy. It’s a science-fictional spy thriller; so if you can imagine a James Bond movie set in the Star Wars universe? That’s almost exactly not what it’s about.

Espionage is about spies the way that science fiction is about rocket ships or astronomy is about building telescopes: yes, those items feature in the field to some extent, but there’s a lot more to it. Espionage—or more accurately, intelligence-gathering—is about the process of piecing together an accurate picture of a target’s intentions and capabilities, to enable policy-makers (be they corporate or national) to put in place an appropriate response.

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Series: Five Books About…

Here Comes the General!

We love this timely tribute to General/Princess Leia Organa: Diplomat. Leader. Freedom Fighter.

Designed by Mississippi artist Hayley Gilmore and donated for people to use at the Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches around the country and around the world on Saturday, the poster is available to download here—although you may have to try a few times, as the poster seems to be in high demand. Gilmore notes that the piece is intended to be “a tribute to the life and legacy of Carrie Fisher” and to serve as a source of inspiration and insight to those who will be participating in the march:

“On Saturday, women across the nation will be attending the Women’s March on Washington as well as marches in many sister states. The mission of the march is to send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.”

We think Fisher would be proud.

Go Behind the Scenes of Law Enforcement with Myke Cole and CBS’s Hunted

So, I’m going to be on primetime TV on Sunday. Nobody is more surprised by this development than I.

Hunted is a successful show in the UK on BBC4. They just aired the second season and are setting up for a third. CBS loved the idea and decided to make their own version here in the US.

It couldn’t be more timely—with the idea of the “surveillance-state” becoming more charged with each passing news cycle, a lot of people have a lot of strong opinions. But what a lot of people don’t have is a front row seat for the process, the inside scoop on how law enforcement and intelligence agencies do their jobs, how the mix of personality, passion, technology and training gel to produce the part-art/part-sciences we call “counterterrorism targeting” and “fugitive recovery.”

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The Weirdest Worlds: (Another) Introduction to R.A. Lafferty

If you look at the amount of words that have been written about him, it’s easy to conclude that R.A. Lafferty needs no introduction. There are, by now, probably as many introductions to and appreciations of R.A. Lafferty as there are books by the author. The introduction to Lafferty has almost become a genre in itself. Not only have major science fiction and fantasy writers like Neil Gaiman, Michael Swanwick, Gene Wolfe, Harlan Ellison, and Richard Lupoff all written about Lafferty, but Lafferty’s fans are some of the most active in the genre, publishing a biannual fanzine and organizing an annual Lafferty-themed con. The Guardian and the Washington Post have both covered him, and there are rumors of some forthcoming academic studies.

Why, then, have so few science fiction readers heard of Lafferty? Why am I writing another introduction?

[Three Reasons]

This Morning in Publishing: January 20, 2017

Tommy Arnold shared this stunning cover for Subterranean Press’ special illustrated edition of Reaper’s Gale (book seven of the Malazan Book of the Fallen). Check out the full illustration on Arnold’s Facebook!

In this morning’s publishing roundup: the winners of your favorite book ‘ships, the (figurative) offspring of Frankenstein, and 100+ new books to add to your TBR pile.

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Television’s Moonlight: Casting a Reflection on 21st-Century Vampire Culture

Join us for a series of essays about science fiction TV series that, while popular with viewers, were cancelled early on by the networks. Some of the programs to be covered include Threshold (2005), Almost Human (2013-4), and the U.S. version of Life on Mars (2008-9).

I didn’t know there were so many vampires committing capital crimes in Los Angeles in this century. Ordinary criminals can’t even get air time on a webcast there. It seems that most L.A. killings have a connection to a vampire somewhere: undead plastic surgeons taking off a little blood along with the cellulite, blood-sucking hit-and-run automobile victims, even immortal morgue attendants who siphon blood from corpses. They’re there all right, as depicted on the CBS television series Moonlight starring Alex O’Loughlin as “vamp” private eye Mick St. John.

[Another SFF series cancelled before its time…]

The Skill of Our Hands

The Incrementalists are a secret society of two hundred people—an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, a little bit at a time.

Now Phil, the Incrementalist whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has been shot dead. They’ll bring him back—but first they need to know what happened. Their investigation will lead down unexpected paths in Arizona, and bring them up against corruption, racism, and brutality in high and low places alike.

But the key may lay in one of Phil’s previous lives, in “Bleeding Kansas” in the late 1850s—and the fate of the passionate abolitionist we remember as John Brown.

Steven Brust and Skyler White’s The Skill of Our Hands, the thrilling and thought-provoking follow-up to their critically acclaimed The Incrementalists, is available January 24th from Tor Books.

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Challenging Gender Norms: The Brothers Grimm and The Twelve Huntsmen

Some English translations of Household Tales, aka The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, place “The Twelve Huntsmen” in the front. Some hide the tale in the center, and others omit the story altogether. Rather befitting a story that, although definitely collected by the Grimms, in many ways seems to be the complete antithesis of what they originally hoped to do with their fairy tale collection—both in the original edition, most definitely not edited or published with children in mind, and the later editions, which were.

[A story of cross-dressing and magical lions]

We Are All Eleanor: Affirming Life After Death in The Good Place

Everyone in the Good Place has lived an exceptional life — everyone, that is, except Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), who arrives there seemingly by mistake after dying in a freak shopping-cart accident. She is, as she charitably describes herself, “a medium person,” but once she’s in the Good Place she wants to stay, so she enlists her soulmate Chidi to teach her how to be good and hopefully earn her place there. What makes The Good Place (just picking up from its mid-season break on NBC) so brilliant is the ways it explores the moral ramifications of this dilemma without passing judgment on anyone, even Eleanor. She’s arguably the villain of the story, yet we sympathize with her because she represents all of us “medium” people.

In the pilot, Michael (Ted Danson), one of the “architects” of the Good Place, explains that each person’s destination after death is determined by the sum total goodness or badness of every action of their entire life. Most of us can get on board with this concept, which makes no mention of belief in or allegiance to a deity. Eleanor herself listens to this explanation with equanimity, even as Michael goes on to explain that only the very best humans who have ever lived make it into the Good Place—not even Florence Nightingale qualified.

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Amberlough Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of Lara Elena Donnelly’s Amberlough, available February 7th from Tor Books! Read the first two chapters here.

Trust no one with anything—especially in Amberlough City.

Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, especially from Aristide Makricosta. They suit each other: Aristide turns a blind eye to Cyril’s clandestine affairs, and Cyril keeps his lover’s moonlighting job as a smuggler under wraps.

Cyril participates on a mission that leads to disastrous results, leaving smoke from various political fires smoldering throughout the city. Shielding Aristide from the expected fallout isn’t easy, though, for he refuses to let anything—not the crooked city police or the mounting rage from radical conservatives—dictate his life.

Enter streetwise Cordelia Lehane, a top dancer at the Bumble Bee Cabaret and Aristide’s runner, who could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted. As the twinkling lights of nightclub marquees yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means—and people—necessary. Including each other.

Combining the espionage thrills of le Carré with the allure of an alternate vintage era, Amberlough will thoroughly seduce and enthrall you.

Comment in the post to enter!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States and D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec). To enter, comment on this post beginning at 1:30 PM Eastern Time (ET) on January 19th. Sweepstakes ends at 12:00 PM ET on January 23rd. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor:, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.