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REVIEW : Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Following up a series as accomplished as "Shadows of the Apt" with a book like "Guns of the Dawn" is a gutsy move, especially when you consider how universally loved the former was. It must have been temping to stay with the tried and tested formula that reliably produces results but Tchaikovsky is certainly not an author who plays it safe. Remember, this is a man who based his ten-book long fantasy series on insects-like creatures and somehow pulled it off in a grand style. So while initially "Guns of the Dawn" might raise a few eyebrows but you'll quickly realise that he perfectly well knows what he's doing here - this is all good stuff .

For most of its parts "Guns of the Dawn" doesn't feel like high fantasy at all but occupies that shady shelf of pseudo-histories where everything is familiar and yet somehow strange (to mention few of the newcomers, Aidan Harte's The Wave Trilogy and Den Patrick's Erebus Sequence come to mind). The story, loosely set in technological and social level of Napoleonic times, kicks off by Denlanders murdering Lascanne's king and invading them as if that wasn't enough. The two nations have been allies for as long as anyone can remember but those days are long gone and prolonged conflict is taking its toll on its people. Now the time has come for women to go to war and Emily Marshwic is called up to join the ranks. She has no illusions about where she's going. She already lost her brother and brother-in-low so the ruthless brutality doesn't come as a surprise. The only way to stay sane is to detach herself from reality. As its often the case she realises that nothing is strictly black and white in this conflict and even her own Lascanne has a lot to answer for. This forms a turning point in Emily's mind and I can only invite you to find out what happens next.

Despite not being "Shadows of the Apt" novel "Guns of the Dawn" comes with many recognizable qualities. The ability to tackle huge, brutal and unfair conflicts is still there in all its glory and be it insects or people, Tchaikovsky still knows how to write a tale about small people facing insurmountable obstacles. As a book "Guns of the Dawn" is absolutely massive - it's over 700 pages longs and weights a ton - and yet, I felt like a wanted it to be longer. That's the beauty of it all - knowing how to leave reader gasping for more. The thing is "Guns of the Dawn" comes without the burden of long winded series on its back and its conventions to follow so it is certainly a much easier and lighthearted read despite its length. To conclude, "Guns of the Dawn" finds Tchaikovsky at his invigorated best proving once more that he's anything but a one trick pony. He's obviously got plenty more stories to tell and be it "Shadows of the Apt" or something unrecognizable and new, I know I'll be waiting impatiently to read them.

Review copy provided by Tor UK
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The story behind Guns of the Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Mantids and Musketry – from Shadows of the Apt to Guns of the Dawn

Having a long, long series come to an end is a weird and uncomfortable position for a writer to be in. I love the insect-kinden and their stories – I’m writing more of them even now, short pieces and the like, with more long-fiction planned for future times as yet uncertain. At the same time, though, you do begin to build up a head of steam to do something different – just because you’re deep in a series doesn’t stop those other ideas from coming.

And then one morning you open your eyes and the end of the last book is on the horizon, scuttling closer as you watch, and you realise, This is it; the Promised Times have come, when I step out of this chitin-adorned house and walk in the open air. And now I’m making it sound like The Count of Monte Cristo or something, and that’s doing the insect-kinden a terrible injustice. But the fact remains that I wanted to tell other stories as well as theirs. I had ideas that simply wouldn’t work as kinden plots.

And then you get to the threshold, new manuscript clutched fondly in your arms, and it’s a bit like being housebound for years and discovering on the point of exit that you’ve been an agoraphobic all that time, because that’s a big old step to take. A ten book series can be a very comfortable place, very lived-in and familiar. It’s a hard thing to leave behind, even only temporarily.

Guns of the Dawn is set in a very different world to that of Shadows of the Apt (1). It’s a less overtly fantastical world, and one more precisely located in real world history. Or as much as I ever do, because it’s still entirely fictional – you can see that I’m drawing strongly on Regency/Napoleonic ideas and tropes, but the nations are my own, as are the fireball-throwing magicians and the non-human races and… well, you can take the writer out of the high fantasy setting, but you can’t take the high fantasy out of the… well, you know.

So I didn’t actually sit down and decide “I shall make a corpus of work, so that future academics may talk about ‘Tchaikovskian’ themes,” (2) but during the edits what struck me was that there are definitely some carry-over themes that I wasn’t done exploring in Shadows of the Apt (3). The central dichotomy of the kinden – their Aptness or lack of it – is very much there in Guns, which is equally concerned with an ongoing clash between old and new. There were two sibling monarchies, you see, Denland and Lascanne, and then the Denlanders rose up and murdered their king and declared a republic. And then they turned their eyes on their royalist neighbour and brought war to them because – or so the Lascanne papers say – the presence of a happy, healthy monarchy next door was anathema to their philosophy. This is complicated by the fact that, in this world, ‘divine right of kings’ has magical backing. The King of Lascanne is able to anoint select young noblemen to remake them as warlocks, magicians of awe-inspiring power. And yet, despite that, the (magic-less) Denlanders keep on coming, and no matter what the papers say, they’re showing no signs of slowing down. The old traditions of Lascanne, its stratified class system and its magic, are being put through the ringer, until gentlewoman Emily Marshwic must take up the musket and go defend her home and family…

The setting is different, but the ideas being played out certainly echo the struggles of the insect-kinden. If you have a good enough gun, what is left for magic? The same question could be asked as easily by Totho the artificer or by Giles Scavian, the new-minted King’s wizard, the one triumphant in his engineering, the other despairing for a way of life lost.

(1)  Guns and Shadows is definitely my new band name.

(2)  In the very unlikely event that academics have anything to say about me, it’s likely to be along the lines of “Wasn’t he that crazy guy with all the spiders.” I mean, there are giant spiders in Guns of the Dawn. Maybe not very giant, by the standards of the insect-kinden, but still pretty big for spiders. And big dragonflies, and leeches, and… it’s as if the insect-kinden have been infiltrating the book all the time I was writing it.

(3)        The timeline’s a bit complex, as the original Guns MS was finished before Empire, and then extensively rewritten after, so it’s a bit chicken and egg.

Adrian Tchaikovsky
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REVIEW : Dark Intelligence by Neal Asher

"Dark Intelligence" is Neal Asher's long awaited comeback to Polity universe and is something of a blinder. To be honest, I desperately wanted it to be great so I'm pretty chuffed that it really is. Long gone are the days when authors were just a name on the cover. Today we, as readers, are often treated to insights about their private lives, their real-life views, interests and passions. In my opinion we're better for it because often you learn to appreciate the authors for what they are and not just because they're, well, such talented writers. So through social media I was aware that Neal had an extremely tough year behind him and I can't even imagine how hard it must've been writing "Dark Intelligence". And yet, contrary to his previous very bleak Owner trilogy, his new one somehow feels carefree and effortless. It brings together all the best bits of the Polity universe while at the same time providing an excellent entry point to newcomers. It's simply a damn good book.

"Dark Intelligence" is story of Thorval Spear, who after dying a century ago in a war between humans and aliens is brought back to life. Upon wakening he learns that an artificial intelligence within rescue ship that should have saved them back then has in fact turned psychotic and killed everyone. For Speak hundred years passed in a blink of an eye and since said AI, called Penny Royal, is still rampaging around, he decides to have his revenge. On the other hand, Isobel Satomi has issues on her own with Penny Royal. A while ago she entered into an unholy alliance with her to stop her crime syndicate to fall into ruin, only to later discover that AI tricked her. She's evolving into a deadly machine that's any day now threatening to completely take over. So the time is running out for both Spear and Isobel. Will he be able to find Penny Royal before Isobel turns completely against him?

It is this feeble balance that powers "Dark Intelligence". Spear and Isobel are perpetually on the knife's edge, and this constant tension works wonders for creating a page-turning atmosphere. It's a damningly gripping and infecting book so prepare yourself for a complete shut down from the world. However, do be prepared for a sudden come down because "Dark Intelligence" is only the first part of the proposed trilogy. Still, by now Neal has fine-tuned his art of writing trilogies down to perfection so for most of its parts "Dark Intelligence" feel like a standalone novel with just enough threads left loose to make you impatiently wait for the sequel. So come 29th, make your way to your local book store and grab yourself a copy - science fiction simply doesn't get better than this.

Review copy provided by Pan / Tor UK
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REVIEW : Endsinger by Jay Kristoff

Readers in the future will be in something of a pickle when it comes to reading “The Lotus War” trilogy. The thing is that all three books in a series present their author in a different stages of development so while “Stormdancer” initially felt like a great book, compared to “Endsinger” it sometimes feels like mere dabbling. In a way, it is like comparing first and last Harry Potter book. As such, Endsinger is more bold, more inventive and more emotionally charged than its predecessor and nowhere is this more evident than in its ending which will leave you gasping for air. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

As you would imagine, “Endsinger” continues the story and finds Shima Imperium in the grips of civil war. Lotus Guild is using mechanical goliath to spread terror and hopefully bring peace through fear and oppression. Standing in their way are Yukiko and Buruu who are still reeling in the aftermath of Kin's betrayal. Against all odds, they still have to fight because surrendering is simply unthinkable and as the ending marches towards us, all of the big questions are slowly revealed but not in a way you would expect. There's plenty of epic battles and glorious mayhem in these pages but luckily the chaos never completely overwhelms. Kristoff is not big on happy endings and perfectly understands the brutality of war. In “Endsinger”, as in real life war, there are no winners, just different layers of loss. Many will shed a tear upon closing a book.

“Endsinger” is a proper full stop to “The Lotus War” trilogy and apart for occasional novella or short story which I'll always happily read, I don't think anything else needs to be added. It is a book that truly shows the capabilities and potential of Kristoff as an author as well as one of those trilogies where the ending pays off with dividends and respects all the time you've spent reading the story leading up to it. Once you're done, you'll probably feel sad and heavy hearted but that's the beauty of it - Kristoff simply decided to fail to compromise and as a result made a perfect ending. Well done, sir.

Review copy provided by Pan Macmillan / Tor UK
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The story behind The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley

Reflections of a Snake Wrestler

Writing the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy is like wrestling a giant snake. Writing the second book in an epic fantasy trilogy is like wrestling a giant snake with your hands tied together while people throw money, confetti, and shit at you and you’re also trying to find your way out of the snake-filled swamp before a loudly ticking bomb blows you and the snake into tiny pieces of chum.

Perhaps I should explain.

Writing The Emperor’s Blades was hard for me – snake-wrestling hard. If I got ahold of the beginning, I’d lose track of the end. When I was trying to keep from getting bitten, I got tangled up in the coils. I wasn’t able to hold 500 pages of characters, plot, setting, and backstory in my head all at the same time, and every time I let go of something, something else shifted. That said, there wasn’t really much to concentrate on but the wrestling itself. I had no contract, so I had no deadline. I had no book, so I had no readers or critics. It was a simple fight, if exhausting.

I was warned by both my agent and my editor that book two would be different, but I thought, Nah – I’m a snake wrestler now. A very, very stupid snake wrestler, as it turned out.

For one thing, when it came to The Providence of Fire, my hands were tied by every decision I’d made in the first book, no matter how small. If I’d been writing a single-volume story, I could tinker with the start even as I was working on the end – set up a reveal differently, or change a backstory. Once that first book was in print, however, there was no more tinkering. For example, I would have really liked to move a river a hundred miles to the north to facilitate a plot point. No dice! The map was published with the first book. And there were literally hundreds of tiny issues like this. It’s tough wrestling a snake when you can’t use all your moves.

And then there’s the fact that people were actually responding to the first book. I learned early on to stop reading reviews, but it’s impossible to avoid the echo chamber entirely, impossible to not know there are a lot of people who love the story and a few who hate it and that they’re all peering over your shoulder while you wrestle that second snake, wondering if you’re going to fuck it up.

Even worse, the third book was coming up. Not just the third book, the final book. It’s not enough to write a compelling second book – you’ve got to make damned sure it’s setting you up for the conclusion, especially having learned the hard lesson that there are no take-backs once a book goes to press.

And, of course, there was a deadline. I took seven years (on and off) to write The Emperor’s Blades. I wrote The Providence of Fire in seven months, and it’s twenty-five percent longer. I pride myself on being a person who gets his chores done early, but I handed this book in a whisker before 5 PM on the day it was due.

It was tempting, when the battle was finally finished, to stand up, beat my chest, howl at the moon, but I could already see, moving toward me just below the rippling surface of the water, the great sinuous form of that third snake, the last one, the biggest, meanest, smartest one. So while you’re all enjoying The Providence of Fire, I’ll be over here in the swamp fighting it out again, trying to breathe, trying not to get bitten… and loving every second of it. After all, it’s not everyone who gets to wrestle giant snakes by moonlight for a living.

Brian Staveley
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REVIEW : The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley

There's no denying the fact that I was embarrassingly gushing about Brian Staveley's debut "The Emperor's Blades". It was one of those rare moments in my reading life when a book surprised me so much that I was even willing to forget and forgive its failings. So you might say that I was impatiently waiting for "The Providence of Fire". Surely, Staveley can't be a one trick pony? Well, of course he's not! While "The Providence of Fire" is not as Earth-shattering revelatory as "The Emperor's Blades" was, it still provides all the elements that made his debut so great in the first place. More crucially, it firmly addresses some of the issues I had with the first novel (mainly gender inequality) so thinking about it, it might be even a better book that its predecessor. But let's not dwell on that at this point and concentrate on the story itself. 

Being second part of the ongoing "Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne" series, "The Providence of Fire" is instantly immersive experience. Story continues straight on from the events depicted at the previous volume and at this point in time, Annurian Empire is a familiar place thrown in the chaos after the assassination of Emperor Sanlitun. Kaden and Valyn are still struggling to cope with their new responsibilities and the realisation that suddenly so many thing rest on their shoulders is weighting heavily on their mings. Kaden with throne and Valyn with Wings - its simply not easy and at one point Valyn simply leaves. However, this time around it is Adere who takes the centerstage. Having learned the identity of her father's assassin, she's trying forge new alliances and turn the tide that threatens to effectively destroy everything she loves. It is her perspective that makes "The Providence of Fire" outstanding. While in "The Empreror's Blades" she was depicted as uninteresting and was largely ignored, here her story comes to light. It's like the disturbing events of the past made her get her act together. Betrayal at the behest of certain someone certainly helped this. Suddenly, she's subversive, intriguing and more organised than ever before. Despite everything she is sadly still not as strong protagonist as she could be and at few times her old insecurities reel their ugly head again. For what it's worth I'm extremely happy that Brian tackled her side of the story. However, the most impressive thing is the way Steveley manipulates the relationship between siblings. While their lives take a distinctively different path together they still feel as a cohesive whole, with their hearts at its right place.

Due to his willingness to embrace those few shortcomings "The Emperor's Blades" had and to improve upon them, and thanks to his ongoing development as a writer, "The Providence of Fire" completely fulfills my very high expectations. As I've mentioned before, while it is certainly not a revolutionary novel it is more importantly a damn good continuation of the story. And not to forget, everything somehow feels more epic, if that makes any sense at all. It'll be interesting seeing where the series goes next. When I consider the ease with which I'm reading and enjoying Staveley's door-stoppers, it'll be a long wait until the sequel arrives.

Review copy provided by Pan / Tor UK
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REVIEW : The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman


"Doctor Who with librarian spies" - how good does that sound? Even before I started reading it I was ready to be disappointed with Genevieve Cogman's hyped debut novel "The Invisible Library". There was no way on Earth that it could possibly live up to its promise. As you can guess, it turns out that I was crying wolf. The thing is that I was slowly won over by it, first by her publisher's enthusiasm which more than anything showed that they genuinely believe in it not because it's a good sell but because they feel it's a really good read, and then by Genevieve's prose which hits the spot straight from the opening page. Surprisingly, "The Invisible Library" really does feel like it fell out of pages of some forgotten Doctor Who spin-off novel. It's that strange and that creative but it is also much more playful because it arrives without decades long burden of tradition. The other reference point is one my favourite series of recent times - superb Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde which also places literature in its distilled form as its center point.

"The Invisible Library" revolves around Irene, a professional spy librarian who works for Library, a strange inter-dimensional entity that sucks up works of literature from multiple realities. Irene, together with her mysterious assistant Kai is tasked with traveling to alternative London and retrieving an elusive but very important version of Grimm's Fairy Tales. World of this alternative London turns out to be even stranger than fiction. Laws of nature are turned upside down, magic and all sorts are possible and as the pesky book turns out to be stolen, Irene is facing one of hardest missions of her career. In her way is everything from vampires, werewolves and run of the mill killers.

Over the course of the last decade there has been an endless stream of books set in an alternative Londons of all kind. The appeal of this chaotic and wonderful place is obvious and even has a tendency to provide inspiration in those of us not creatively inclined. Genevieve's London is up there with the best and together with last year's Tony Ballantyne's "Dream London" is one I've enjoyed the most. However, the best thing about "The Invisible Library" is exactly the thing it shares with Doctor Who. Due to its original setup, there's endless potential for sequels and I certainly hope many will follow as "The Invisible Library" is one of the most pleasurable debuts of the year.

Review copy provided by Tor UK / Pan Macmillan.
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The story behind The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Fantasy fiction is full of libraries that hold vitally important works of non-fiction. Secret records of world-changing prophecies, hidden spellbooks which can alter the very fabric of the universe (money back if not satisfied), dire records of historical facts and secret weaknesses which can help destroy your worst enemy...

Or perhaps the libraries contain more constructive things. Full details of natural laws, equations that govern time and space, medical and anatomical information which can save the lives of millions, or just useful texts about planting and harvest times and animal breeding.

The Invisible Library contains fiction. Stories. Fables. Fantasies. It is not a compendium of human knowledge. It is a compendium of human dreams.

When I started writing the story, with the heroine going in search of a unique copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, I had worked out some details of the plot and setting, but others were still undefined. But I was quite clear on the fact that the Library collected fiction, not fact. That was a fundamental aspect of the setting. The books, and the stories in them, were part of the fundamental underpinnings which held all the worlds together.

In the Library setting, there’s chaos at one end of the universe and order at the other end – or, in more practical terms, pure fiction at one end and pure fact at the other end. Books are fictions that have been stabilised in physical form, written down and turned into a factual object. Books are a combination of fantasy and reality.

In fiction, everything is subject to the needs of the story. Rational probability doesn’t have a chance. The hero and the villain will encounter each other at the most narrative-appropriate moment. Everyone gets swept into the most appropriate role for them to play. Robin Hood will always dodge the Sheriff’s men. Sinbad will always find a new land to explore. And since tragedies and bad endings are stories too, Darth Vader will betray the Jedi Order, Faust will be damned, and James Bond will walk into a trap and end up as a brainwashed assassin for the KGB.

At the other end of the universe, brutal reality enforces itself. Luke Skywalker gets shot down by the Empire’s stormtroopers. The villain’s beautiful daughter fails to be seduced by the rakish hero. Things don’t necessarily happen because they should happen by all laws of good narrative. The strong rule, the weak obey, and there is little point believing in stories as more than an idle amusement when stories don’t come true.

Humanity exists across all these worlds, from the cruelly real to the cruelly fantastic, but they may be happiest somewhere in the middle – where stories may sometimes come true, but where effect follows cause and reality has laws that apply. If this sounds reminiscent of Terry Pratchett, it is because I have stood upon the shoulders of giants (or however that quote goes) and he is absolutely one of them. 

And the most important reason that the Library exists is in order to keep the balance and stabilise all the worlds, to stop them from tipping from chaos to order, or order to chaos. Plus, of course, the Librarians get to read a lot. Nobody could argue with that as a good reason to take the job. 

When I first conceived the heroine, I imagined her as a person who’d grown up with the basic tenets of the job being drummed into her by her parents. She never really questioned these beliefs, apart from the casual maunderings of teenage angst, or the slightly more sophisticated university student period of doubting everything that one’s elders say. Beneath it all, however much she might have claimed that she was independent and free-willed and so on, she’d never really thought about it all. She did her job, hunting down unique books, and enjoyed herself with all the fiction she could ever ask for in her free time. Like most people coming from a position of privilege (being the child of two Librarians is a major privilege) there were questions which she’d never thought to ask herself. Part of Irene’s story involves her growing up and thinking about wider consequences, and realising that as a person who has the ability to affect events, she cannot always hide under the umbrella of “just following orders”. 

After all, is the Library the best choice for her to serve?

And if it is, then how far will she go to keep it safe?

Genevieve Cogman
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REVIEW : Halo: Mortal Dictata by Karen Traviss

"Mortal Dictata" is the final novel in Karen Traviss' Kilo-Five Trilogy and as such shouldn't even be attempted before reading first two book in the series ever if you're well versed in the Halo universe. Trilogy, compromised out of 2011 “Glasslands” and 2012 “The Thursday War” follows on from the events depicted in Eric Nylund's novel “Ghosts of Onyx” and is set in the era post Halo 3 and Human-Covenant war. Despite the war being effectively over, the Office of Naval Intelligence still can't let its guard down. With peace on its doorstep, troubles with colonies and personal issues are rearing their ugly heads again. Even Kilo-Five team are not immune after they become embroiled in the situation after human Insurrectionist Staffan Sentzke, mad with grief and hate after his daughter Naomi was abducted by ONI years ago to become part of the SPARTAN-II program decides to take things into his own hands. Spartan Naomi-Zero-One-Zero and her Kilo-Five team are on a mission to retrieve CCS-class battlecruiser Pious Inquisitor when they discover that it is currently owned by Naomi's father. Suddenly they're faced with an interesting moral dilemma. To stop or to help him in his mad crusade which could result in genocide of millions? Either course of action with have far reaching consequences for the world around them. It also poses whether everything that Halo universe rests upon, that is the work of geinous scientist Dr Catherine Halsey, is in fact a war crime of highest order? A controversial and yet very intriguing and important question to ponder upon.

If you haven't read anything by Traviss by now and have researched about her a bit you'll probably notice that she build a large portion of her career around writing tie-ins, most of the set in Star Wars and Gears of War universe. So in a way you would expect Traviss to feel right at home writing about an universe she hasn't created. And for the most of the parts she does. However, as most of her critics like to point out, some of the sections do feel a bit unpersonal. Its almost like she hasn't really immersed herself completely into the Halo universe. Perhaps there's even a chance that she hasn't even played the games or read the previous books. If correct, this is understandable as Halo universe has certainly grown out of proportion lately. The most important thing is that she's a damn good at telling the story and knows how to provoke a reaction. She weaves an interesting plot that perhaps may grate on the purist but will be enjoyed by overwhelming majority of readers. I definitely appreciated that she tried something new and placed an interesting moral dilemma at the heart of the book instead of more gunfights but going against the cannon did feel a bit off putting at times. All in all, together with Greg Bear's Forerunner Saga, this has been my favourite set of Halo novels yet and I certainly hope Traviss will be back for another run around the playground because being able to write good, engrossing story is in my opinion far more important than getting every detail right.

Review copy provided by Pan Macmillan / Tor UK.
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The story behind Silverblind by Tina Connolly

(To win entire IRONSKIN series send an e-mail with your details to info @ [NA Only] )

Silverblind is a stand-alone novel, as well as the third book in the Ironskin series. The first book in the trilogy, Ironskin, loosely follows the story of Jane Eyre. My Jane goes to governess for a young girl named Dorie, who turns out to be half-fey (that’s revealed in the first chapter, so it’s not much of a spoiler!) When I was writing Ironskin, I immediately thought that some day I would love to tell Dorie’s story. 

All three books in the trilogy are linked stand-alones. Ironskin is Jane’s story. Copperhead is set six months later and is her sister Helen’s story. And with Silverblind we skip forward 18 years to tell a grown-up Dorie’s story.

So I’ve been excited about getting to write Dorie’s story for a long time. It is hinted near the end of Copperhead that Dorie is learning about some new shapeshifting powers she has. And in Silverblind we get to see her use them. All Dorie wants to do is hunt down wyverns and basilisks in the forests. But when no one will hire a girl to do dangerous field work, she shapeshifts to disguise herself as a boy and get the job.

One of the things I really enjoyed about writing Silverblind was getting to figure out how to advance my world and characters by 18 years. When we left Copperhead, some of the restrictions placed on women in society were changing. But 18 years later, things have not changed quite as fast as Jane and Helen would have hoped. In many cases, restrictive rules have technically lifted, but “the old boys’ club” mentality lingers. I got to see this through the eyes of Dorie and her friends as they try to make a place for themselves in the world. 

Another piece of Silverblind that I really enjoyed was that I got to write a lot more about friendships this time. Jane and Helen were both alone in different ways (Copperhead is partly about Helen making some real friendships for the first time) but I knew I wanted Dorie to have a couple of good solid friends that she could depend on through the course of the book. She and her best friend, Jack (short for Jacqueline), fight and get cross with each other, but also make up, and are there for each other. Another friend, Stella, is in a fair amount of the book as well, and it was really lovely to get to explore the interwoven friendships between the girls.

Besides being a stand-alone, Silverblind does tie off the larger story arc of the three books. Never say never, but for now, it was bittersweet to close off the world. And yet, it’s always exciting to look forward to the worlds that are coming next!

Tina Connolly
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