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Descent by Ken MacLeod

DESCENT Ken MacLeod

Author of 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award-nominated Intrusion tells a science fiction story for the twenty-first century – what happens when conspiracy theorists meet Big Brother?
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THE LASCAR’S DAGGERGlenda Larke

The start of a brand new epic fantasy trilogy from the author of the Stormlord series – full of scheming, spying, action and adventure.
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Rachel Aaron

Author post

Ten Things I Will Never Do

THE SPIRIT WAR by Rachel AaronNow that the fourth Eli Monpress book, The Spirit War, is officially out, I feel the time has come to make some commitments. Three books is a long time, but four? That’s an investment. You, gentle reader, have stuck with me through two years, multiple covers, and an omnibus makeover, and for that you deserve something concrete. So, without further ado, here are ten things I swear to you on my still living mother’s grave that I will never do in the Eli series.

1. I will not place all power in an easily losable object

This is a classic, and better writers than I have fallen for its simple charms. But the Eli Monpress books have always been about personal problems on a global scale, and ain’t no one getting out that easily. So, despite the absolutely insane amount of epic magic flying around in the final Eli books, there is no Tesseract, One Ring, Sword of Omens, or Holy Grail. I know I’m killing my merchandising options here, but art requires sacrifice.

2. It will not end in a wedding or an awards ceremony

I couldn’t book John Williams or Hans Zimmer to do the music, so the plot had to be rewritten. Also, Eli refused to wear anything that might make him look respectable. A man has to think of his reputation.

3. Those fed to the Balrog will not come back

If you fall into a black pit beneath the world’s heart with a dark beast of legend to save the lives of your fellows, you’re staying down there. There will be no convenient reappearances later for plot’s sake. Kindly keep party members where you can see them at all times to prevent unnecessary loss.

4. No one will turn into a giant snake, monster, or other impractically large form

First, such transformations are impossible in my magical system, and second, it never does any good.

5. There will be no rescuing of princesses from towers

Anyone finding themselves trapped in a tower will have to work out their own escape plan. Eli, for example, is an expert tower escaper, and anyone who calls him a princess will have all their valuables stolen.

6. Eli, Josef, and Nico will never work out a combination attack

Eli’s been trying to get them to agree to one for years, but everyone else thinks it’s stupid. Everyone else is right. The problem is that Eli has far too much time to think up these things when they’re crossing the known world on foot for the fifth time because the author is too lazy to do the research needed to give them horses. (Author’s Note: It’s not laziness! Horses hate Nico, and I didn’t want to have to add a character who’s a talking horse. That’s almost as dumb as a talking wheel… Oh. Right.)

7. Despite current trends, I will not add zombies or steampunk elements

Not that I didn’t work out exactly how the undead and air ships would totally work in my world or how Eli could rock top hat like he was born to it. No. I am loyal to my quasi-comedic light fantasy roots! Also, Miranda would refuse to be in the book if I tried to make her wear a corset. That said, Mira Grant, Gail Carriger, call me. We can work something out…

8. Josef will not grow his hair

I know the Lord of Storms made this a thing, and I did grow up loving anime and the insane, nigh-impossible hair styles that come with it, but long hair is a serious disadvantage in battle. If Josef’s going to die, it won’t be because someone yanked him down by his pony tail. Though if he did have a pony tail, he’d probably keep a knife in it.

9. Miranda will never chill out

It’s not so much that she doesn’t want to rather than she is physically incapable of being anything less than 110% serious business at all times. Gin, on the other hand, is always chillin’. Lazy dog.

And my tenth and final promise to you is…

10. I will not end the series on a stupid cliffhanger

I solemnly swear to you that Spirit’s End, the fifth and final Eli Monpress novel, will bring a satisfying conclusion to the series. I will not leave dangling threads “just in case” and I will not leave character’s stories unresolved just because I didn’t want to close any doors. I believe stories need a beginning, middle, and end to be complete. We’re nearing Eli’s end right now, and though I’m sad about saying goodbye, I can promise you it will be glorious, and it will be complete.

If you haven’t read Eli’s books yet, why not? Go read the first two chapters of The Spirit Thief right now for free! And if you are up to date on Eli, I hope you’ll pick up The Spirit War and see how things are going for our anti-heroes this time around. (Spoiler: The answer is Empire Strikes Back levels of not so good.) You can read a big sample of the new book on my site to see for yourself.

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Rachel Aaron

Rachel Aaron

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  1. Melanie C. Duncan

    June 6, 2012
    at 7:43 pm

    Reply

    If your “Ten Things I Will Never Do” list is this funny, I will definitely have to pick up this series. Spirit Thief, here I come!

  2. deshipley

    June 6, 2012
    at 11:30 pm

    Reply

    I won’t hold it against you if you go back on the no-Eli-in-a-top-hat promise… Think about.

  3. Mel S

    June 7, 2012
    at 8:03 am

    Reply

    I’ve just downloaded The Spirit War on my kindle and can’t wait to start reading! I loved the first three books and feel like it’s been a long time coming! Sad about no print in the UK at the moment though…. :-(

  4. Katherin

    June 7, 2012
    at 10:38 am

    Reply

    If the your novels are as pithy as this post, I’ll be picking them up today. :D

  5. Eric T. Benoit

    June 7, 2012
    at 4:43 pm

    Reply

    Haha, poor Gandalf, everyone is always picking on him. It’s not his fault he’s like a bad penny. Great list though and some very valid points on things fantasy authors should avoid.

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