Dave Duncan

Dave Duncan portrait image to appear alongside the Dave Duncan biography.

David "Dave" Duncan was born 1933 in Scotland, United Kingdom. An author of fantasy and science-fiction he moved to Canada in 1955 and in 1986, after 31 years working as a geologist, he became a full time writer.

Amongst his best known works are the Pandemia books, and in particular the A Man of His Word series whose titles (Magic Casement, Faery Lands Forlorn, Perilous Seas and Emperor and Clown) are based on an excerpt from the 1819 poem Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats:

"The voice I hear this passing night was heard In ancient days, by emperor and clown: Perhaps the self-same song that found a path Through the sad heart of Ruth, when sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn; The same that oft-times hath Charmed magic casements, opening of the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn."

Duncan has also written under the pseudonyms Ken Hood and Sarah B. Franklin.

"My decision to write speculative fiction was partly personal taste (write what you want to read) and partly commercial. The Canadian market is very small. My preferred reading was and still is, non-fiction history or science, and in fiction was mainly SF or murder stories. Whodunnits must be set within specific legal jurisdictions, historical novels require a lot of work, but SF has a universal appeal, so I could aim for the U.S. market. Lately, with my The Alchemist’s Apprentice and its forthcoming sequels, I am combining fantasy, history, and murder mystery in the same book."
E-Reads interviews Dave Duncan

Dave Duncan books reviewed

Bibliography

Novels

  • A Rose-Red City (1987)
    The city of Mera is a fortress hidden from the rest of humanity, a sanctuary for the diverse group of people rescued from death by the Oracle that rules the city. The Oracle has brought together the citizens of Mera from every land and every time period, protecting them from the ravages of time, death and the evil demon forces that howl outside the city at night. All that the Oracle asks in return is a willingness to aid the rest of humanity, calling the citizens to go forth on various missions of rescue to mortals in need of aid. The Oracle sends Jerry out into the wilderness, accompanied by his ancient Greek friend, Killer, a world-famous lecher and juvenile delinquent with deadly combat skills. There they must rescue a woman named Ariadne, on the run with her children and seeking shelter. But children are not allowed in Mera, and Ariadne will not leave them, while Mera's evil demon enemies move closer and closer to Jerry's and Killer's temporary place of respite.
  • Shadow (1987)
    Sald Harl would like nothing more than to soar on the wings of his noble eagle, but his youthful rides in the sky are cut short by an appointment to guard the prince. Sald watches his dreams of flight fade with his name and independence as he takes over his bodyguard duties. During a perilous journey to the edges of the kingdom a dark secret comes to life. Now the great Prince Shadow is accused of treason, and Sald must orchestrate a desperate plan of escape or he will lose the one thing he has been ordered to defend. His only option for freedom is a dangerous flight that no one has ever survived. Once again Sald hopes to feel the freedom of soaring though the air unshackled from servitude.
  • West of January (1989)
    It takes lifetimes for a region to experience dawn, midday and dusk and because of this the planet's population does not remember the catastrophes that occur as the sun moves across the sky--entire civilizations have been scorched into oblivion. The only people who remember the dangers of the past are the planet's "angels"--a people who have tried to preserve past technologies and the ancient knowledge and who work to try and save the other people from the destruction that threatens them when the sun moves. The hero of this book, Knobil, was born among the herdsmen, a primitive civilization in which the men kill each other and exile their sons so that each man can have as many women and children as possible. Knobil, however, is the son of an angel, and his destiny leads him to move among all the other peoples of his world--the beautiful but unthinking seafolk, the cruel slavers, the manipulative traders and, worst of them all, the spinsters whose deadly secret he discovers nearly too late.
  • Strings (1990)
    Alya has an almost magical talent. Her hunches are never wrong. The scientists of planet 4-I want to use her talent and promise her a spot on the next offworld colonization team in return for her assessment of the potential of the latest worlds they've discovered. But Alya meets Cedric, the grandson of the brilliant and tyrannical director of 4-I and she begins to doubt her own intuition. Cedric has dreamed of becoming a scout and exploring new worlds and when he meets Alya he is more determined than ever to leave 4-I, with her. His grandmother needs him on 4-I, though, because she has schemes afoot to protect her planet and to cover up a murder and she does not intend to let him go. However, she has underestimated her grandson - and the young woman whose intuition is so strong and whose destiny is linked to Cedric's.
  • Hero! (1991)
    Vaun, born a peasant in the stinking mud flats of Ult, a thriving colony planet, claws his way to survival and fame by becoming the toughest young officer in the Space Patrol. A veteran of the brutal training academy, he seizes opportunities as they arise, leading the first ship out against a surprise attack by the mysterious Brotherhood. He returns to a hero's welcome as the Brotherhood ship falls to the surface of his home planet in shattered pieces. The Brotherhood is elsewhere unstoppable, though, as neighboring planets, one by one, fall silent, conquered. And then, the Patrol detects a huge spacecraft launched from one of the now-silent worlds and headed for Ult. Facing a challenge greater than he can truly hope to overcome, Vaun nonetheless sets out to save Ult for a second time.
  • The Cursed (1995)
    The world was desperate. Since the empire had fallen a hundred years ago, Gwin and her people had nearly given up hope that the Renewer would come? Gwin had lost everything. Her husband was killed in one of the wars. Her children died of Star Sickness. Even her work at the hostel was in jeopardy because the politicians had it out for her. The cursed Gwin, therefore, had nothing to lose? When she took in the girl, a survivor of the Star Sickness, it was a dreadful crime. Gwin was at the end of her rope, and possibly the end of her life if she was found out? But the Sickness had left the girl with certain magic, certain powers which could prove very useful to them both. Was it possible that this young survivor could save their lives and the empire? Was a new life for Gwin and her world finally at hand?
  • Ill Met in the Arena (2008)
    Though Quirt's name is little-known, his skills as a gladiator are quickly obvious and hard to match. In Aureity, noblemen battle in the arena circuit, using their powers of teleportation and telekinesis to prove their breeding and strength. The prizes at play are not only silver and bronze but also the chance to rise amongst the nobility and mate with the ruling class of women. Older than most players, Quirt still manages to draw attention and awe through his mastery of the games. Some of that attention comes from Humate, a brash young competitor with unbelievable power and little patience or control. To him, Quirt is a mystery he can't resist. However, that mystery soon proves much bigger than all of them. Ancient crimes, struggles for status, romance, vengeance, duty--Humate has a lot to learn from the world-wise Quirt. As the secret of Quirt's true identity and past unfolds, Humate and Quirt race to bring justice to the murderer and madman whose blood links the two gladiators together.
  • Pock's World (2010)
    A commission of five people, each with their own motives and agendas, is dispatched on an interstellar visit to Pock's World to determine and advise whether it should be destroyed.
  • Against the Light (2012)
    The Hierarchy, high priests of the religious order the Light, has installed King Ethan as the monarchical figurehead, ruling both the magical kingdom of Albi and its predominant religion. Scattered throughout the land, worshippers in the old ways of the Earth Mother are persecuted as heretics. And when young missionary student Rollo Woodbridge returns home to Albi, he is immediately arrested for heresy and treason, setting off a chain of events that plunges the land into utter chaos. The Hierarchy has more treacherous motives, however, and when Rollo is rescued from jail, his family’s home is destroyed—but Rollo and his siblings are left alive. While Rollo tries diplomacy to end the religious and political conflict, his brother and sister swear vengeance. With the hours to deliverance counting down and their lives hanging in the balance, they must decide whether to stay and fight or leave Albi forever...
  • Wildcatter (2012)
    As long as there is money to be made, there will be Wildcatters. Throughout human history wildcatters, the first great explorers and prospectors to lay claim to newly discovered lands, have marched to the beat of a different drummer—motivated by a deep yearning to be the first to walk on uncharted land and benefit from treasures yet to be discovered. In the future, wildcatters in space will travel to exoplanets, located in The Big Nothing, to search for new chemicals which, when transformed into pharmaceuticals, will bring untold wealth and fame to the individuals and corporations that stake their claim for exclusive exploitation rights. Such is the quest of the crew of the independent starship Golden Hind, whose mission is to travel a year and a half to “Cacafuego”, beat the larger corporations to the exoplanet's resources, and strike it rich for themselves. But will a yellow warning flag, planted above the planet, stop them? Or will the Golden Hind’s prospector foray to the planet’s surface, possibly to never return alive?

The Seventh Sword

  • The Reluctant Swordsman (1988)
    Wallie Smith can feel the pain. He goes to the hospital, remembers the doctors and the commotion, but when he wakes up it all seems like a dream. However, if that was a dream how do you explain waking up in another body and in another world? Little Wallie finds himself in the physique of a barbarian swordsman, accompanied by both an eccentric priest babbling about the Goddess and a voluptuous slave girl. Is this a rude awakening or a dream come true? What in the world will Wallie do now that he's found himself stranded in a strange realm? Well it just so happens that the Goddess is in need of a swordsman. It won't be easy but if he succeeds he will have everything he wants. If he doesn't, things could get ugly. Wallie is reluctant but sees his chance. If only he had the faintest clue as to the adventure he is about to unleash! If only he could imagine the forces that will be out to vanquish him!
  • The Coming of Wisdom (1988)
    Wallie Smith is staring death in the face; only a miracle can save him. And then one does! The Goddess appears to preserve his soul, but she does much more than that. She promises to bestow upon him a new and powerful body, and, more importantly, to endow him with the fabled Sapphire Sword of Chioxin. But nothing in this world or any other comes without a price. The Goddess demands that, for her services, Wallie become her champion. It will be an honor to serve such a presence, to have the chance to be victorious over all challengers. But Wallie and his sword quickly find themselves outmatched in a world of high-stakes magic. Even the Goddess's priests cannot offer any resistance to the invading sorcerers and their quest to conquer souls for the Fire God. Wallie will need to find in himself and in the world the powers that will save all mortals. He will need to find The Coming of Wisdom.
  • The Destiny of the Sword (1988)
    Wallie Smith, having died on Earth, finds himself reincarnated as a swordsman in another world and entrusted by the presiding goddess with a mission that has no appeal for him at all. Can he bring together all the swordsmen to finally defeat the Sorcerors and their terrible technology? Wally isn't quite convinced he should, but Goddesses can be very persuasive...
  • The Death of Nnanji (April 2012)
    For fifteen years the truce has held. Swordsmen of the Tryst of Casr have kept the peace and extended the rule of law over half the World, but now sorcerers have started killing swordsmen again, and swordsmen traitors are aiding them. Shonsu - who was Wallie Smith before he became a swordsman of the seventh rank and liege lord of the Tryst—must once more gird on the seventh sword of Chioxin, and this time he rides out to fight the war that he hoped would never come. As he leads his army forth, its two most junior members are Vixini, son of Shonsu, and Addis, son of Nnanji, who has an oath of vengeance to fulfill. Their failure or success will determine the fate of the World for the next thousand years.

A Man of His Word

  • Magic Casement (1990)
    Princess Inos lived an idyllic life in her father’s sleepy, backwater kingdom, and she was best friends with her childhood companion, the stableboy, Rap. But when a prophecy seemed to say Inos should be married, she was exiled to the Impire to learn to be a lady. She was far away when Rap’s magical talents began to emerge, and it was he who told her of the fate awaiting them both.
  • Faery Lands Forlorn (1991)
    When Inos was abducted through the magic casement and Rap tried to follow her, they arrived in places very strange - and very far apart...
  • Perilous Seas (1991)
    Hunted now by the fearsome warlock wardens who rule the world, Inos is convinced that Rap is dead. But Rap is not, and the tide may be about to turn... She thought he was dead. Queen Inos feels Rap's presence as if he has risen from the grave to be beside her, but she knows all that is left of him is his voice, which echoed in her mind - well, so she thinks. Her duty is to serve her people, and Queen Inos doesn't know her galley slave, Rap, is alive and, with his magic wand, trying to bring happiness to his beloved Queen. But when the evil Nordland raider, Kalkor, arrives in port, Rap's plans begin to fall apart.
  • Emperor and Clown (1992)
    With Inos married to the wrong man and Rap dying in a dungeon, obviously the cause is hopeless. Only Aunt Kade refuses to admit defeat...

A Handful of Men

  • The Cutting Edge (1992)
    The great adventure had ended happily. The good folk of Krasnegar discovered that a beautiful princess could, indeed, succeed her royal father and rule in her own right, and rule very well, too. And when Queen Inos married Rap, the former stableboy, he turned out to be a very good king. He never admitted that he was a sorcerer, and everyone knew that Rap was a Man of His Word, so that was all right. The years passed. Rap and Inos raised a family, prospering in their remote little kingdom. But trouble was brewing in the great world outside. The aged Imperor grew ever more erratic, more tyrannical. His grandson Shandie, the boy Rap had befriended, was now a great soldier, struggling to suppress ever-growing upheaval in the borderlands while he waited to inherit the throne. Strange prophecies of upheaval and disaster spread. When the rumors reached even to Krasnegar, Rap scoffed at them as superstition--until one night a god appeared and confirmed that the truth was likely to be far worse. On his travels long ago, Rap himself had made a terrible blunder. Because of that, the world of Pandemia was now poised on the brink of utter disaster. The last thing Rap wanted was another adventure, and that might be the last thing he would ever get.
  • Upland Outlaws (1993)
    The old Imperor was dead at last. His popular soldier grandson, known as Shandie, had succeeded him... Hadn't he? No, he hadn't. The man who sat the opal throne was not Shandie, but an illusion created by the mad dwarf, Xinixo. Year after year he had stealthily been ensorcelling sorcerers, turning them into loyal minions. Now, wielding their combined power, he was irresistible. He ruled the Impire, so he ruled the world. He would continue to rule it for centuries. Anyone who knew the truth or opposed him in any way, he would destroy or enslave. That especially included his old enemy, King Rap of Krasnegar. And Shandie, the rightful Imperor, of course. And all their supporters, their friends, their families. All of them! First he had to catch them. With his infinite magic, that ought to be easy. Rap and Shandie had other ideas, but even they could see that their cause looked hopeless.
  • The Stricken Field (1993)
    Paranoid but almighty, the sorcerer Xinixo had seized control of the Impire. But ruling the imps and most of the world was not enough. He would never feel safe until he was universally loved, so he would smash everything and then rebuild the whole world in his own insane image. Who could resist him? King Rap of Krasnegar and Shandie, the rightful Imperor, were still at large and determined to resist the evil, however slender their chances. Their one, faint hope was to enlist the help of the remaining free sorcerers of the world, those not already spellbound by Xinixo. Their quest soon ran into disaster. Their messengers were betrayed or ensnared. A rampaging goblin army had captured Shandie and was about to torture him to death. Rap was mired in tropical jungle, hoping his wife and children were safe, back home in Krasnegar. They were not in Krasnegar and certainly not safe. As the flames of war raged across Pandemia, news of the disasters penetrated even into Thume, the Accursed Land. Outsiders believed that the pixies had been extinct for a thousand years, but they still lived there, hoarding their magic. Their ruler, the Keeper, adamantly refused to meddle in events outside her borders, but one young pixie girl was prepared to rebel against the ancient order...
  • The Living God (1994)
    War had engulfed the whole world. The imposter Imperor ruling in Hub was the tool of the paranoid and almighty sorcerer Xinixo, who wielded the combined power of thousands of sorcerer slaves. And yet, despite his seeming omnipotence, the pathetic few who resisted him were still at liberty, even making a little progress. Xinixo's prime foe, Rap of Krasnegar, had rallied troll sorcerers to the cause and was about to try enlisting the incomprehensible elves. Fortunately for his sanity, he did not know that his daughter Kadie had been carried off by goblin invaders, or that his son Gath was heading for stark Nordland to deal with the fearsome jotnar. Or that his wife, Inos, was in Guwash, negotiating with gnomes. Shandie, the rightful Imperor, was with her, unaware that his wife, Impress Eshiala, believed him dead and had fled with Signifer Ylo, that notorious rake. And none of them knew about the sorcerers of Thume, especially the rebel pixie girl, Thale, who chafed against the secret binding of a thousand years. But the odds were still impossible and Longday was fast approaching. The sorcerers of the world foretold blood on Longday.

The Omar books

  • The Reaver Road (1992)
    Omar is the finest storyteller the world has ever known, captivating audiences everywhere, from the campfires of soldier camps to the plush residences of nobility. In times of turmoil, people can still appreciate a good tale that offers respite from their troubles. But as hordes of barbarian soldiers surround the unvanquished city of Zanadon after ravaging the surrounding countryside, few things are certain any longer. Omar has been guided to the city by prophetic dreams, yet finds himself in an increasingly dangerous situation as the people grow more desperate and the gift of a glib tongue turns into a curse.
  • The Hunters' Haunt (1995)
    Omar often gets into trouble as a result of his role as the world's greatest storyteller. The wrong tale at the wrong time told to the wrong audience can prove fatal. A slighted innkeeper threatens to kill Omar by tossing him out into the vicious storm that rages just outside the door of the inn. But this time, for a change, Omar also has the chance to redeem himself by using his gift. If Omar can top the most outrageous tales invented by the inn's guests, he may get away with his neck intact. Omar not only tells a series of tales that would astonish the most gifted bard, but corrects the errors of the otherss and weaves them all together into one absolutely compelling tale of adventure.

The Great Game

  • Past Imperative (1995)
    The Great Game of Gods is afoot. In a world on the brink of madness... In the summer of 1914, a young man of reputation beyond reproach awakens under police guard - grievously injured and accused of heinous, impossible murder. And in a strange, distant place... The youngest member of a penniless acting troupe has been taken prisoner by the loyal minions of a corrupt, vengeful goddess. For an ancient prophecy has divided the realm's ruling Deities into warring factions - a prophecy that mentions the crippled captive child and a youth recovering from inexplicable wounds in a British hospital bed. The game weaves through worlds and through dimensions as it has since time immemorial - a deadly contest of skill and manipulations that ruthlessly creates wizards, destroys human pawns and transforms ordinary men, women and children into something more.
  • Present Tense (1996)
    In the midst of the horror of the First World War, a stranger falls from nowhere into the mud and death of the Flanders battlefield - bruised, babbling, and stark naked...with a remarkable story to tell. Wrongly accused murderer Edward Exeter has reappeared on this Earth hearing scars and secrets. From somewhere he calls next door - a place old godly intrigues and an ancient prophecy that he wants no part of. But powerful forces on both sides of a mystical border have other plans for the young fugitive. And now, in the company of loyal comrades, he must flee murderous pursuers from two separate worlds. But there is no escape from his destiny. For Exeter has obligations to the past and the future that must be met... if myriad civilizations are to survive.
  • Future Indefinite (1997)
    In a place called Nextdoor - the farthest flung outpost of British imperialism - earthborn mortals possess the power of gods. Young Englishman Edward Exeter has spent five years trying to escape the magnetic and powerfully magical pull of The Great Game which has designated him as its most important player. But war and bloodthirsty intrigues rage on both sides of magical portals and across worlds and Exeter can resist his destiny no longer. He accepts the mantle of Liberator that has been thrust upon him and the decision turns old friends into foes and old enemies into acolytes as he is surrounded by murderous plots and betrayals But this is not the uninformed Edward Exeter who came naked into this hidden realm years ago. He has lived the Game and learned it well - and he intends to play it boldly to its shocking, worlds-shattering conclusion.

Tales of the King's Blades

  • The Gilded Chain (1998)
    Sir Durendal, the leader of the King's Blades, the finest swordsmen in the magical land of Chivial, embarks on a quest for a glorious treasure that lies behind the walls of an ancient, isolated city where danger and death are everywhere.
  • Lord of the Fire Lands (1999)
    Having just finished five years of training to become deadly "blades" - the finest swordsmen in the land - Wasp and Raider refuse to bind themselves to the king during the graduation ceremonies and become outlaws and head for the dreaded "Fire Lands" to redeem themselves in battle.
  • Sky of Swords (2000)
    The unloved child of the unscrupulous King Ambrose,Princess Malinda learned at an early age to fight for what was rightfully hers. Now, with the Kings abrupt death, civil war has become her grim destiny. Making her uncertain way through the blood labyrinth of schemesand betrayals, Malinda can trust none but the Blades of the Royal Guard. But the Blades themselves are in grave peril. And the young Queen faces the most crucialdecision of her life: a choice that will either redeem her kingdom from chaos...or bring ultimate destruction down upon it, her Blades, and herself.

Chronicles of the King's Blades

  • Paragon Lost (2002)
    Many legends have emerged from the shadows of Ironhall, yet surely none can surpass the greatness and glory predestined for Sir Beaumont - possessor of the purest and strongest of hearts, and a mind as quick, keen, and accurate as his sword. But the day he sets out in the service of the elderly Lord Wassail turns to a black one, and young Beau's journey ends in horror and blood... and disgrace. Banished from the King's Blades, he now faces a grim future as a homeless pariah, a creature to be shunned and despised. But redemption can come from unexpected directions and in unrecognizable guises. Approached in secret by the legendary Durendal, now Grand Master of the Order, the dishonored paragon is offered one last chance to win back his weapon and his place among his brothers in arms. But to do so, Beau must ride alone back through the icy gates of Hell... and do battle with the Devil himself.
  • Impossible Odds (2003)
    The King has decreed that new Blades must be sworn into the service of the Grand Duke Rubin, deposed by a foul usurper and currently on the run. But none of the rough youths being readied at Ironhall possess the seasoning to survive what better, more skilled Blades already have not. Still, two woefully unprepared candidates are approached with an offer of early bonding and probable death: deft but dense, rude Ranter, and eager, impetuous Ringwood... with a third, the inadequate swordsman but potentially able spy Bellman, enlisted into their threadbare ranks. Joining the Duke's entourage along with the courageous and prescient White Sister Trudy, the would-be champions must restore a rightful ruler to the throne or die in the process. But before them waits an army of the dead. And the Duke whom the Blades must protect to the last drop of their lifeblood is not the liege they imagined...
  • The Jaguar Knights (2004)
    The realm's most feared swordsman, Sir Wolf has earned his name, the "King's Killer," well. Unlike many of his brother Blades, however, Wolf detests his sworn duty to do the bloody bidding of a liege he can never respect. But when an impregnable fortress is breached and a former royal mistress is abducted by brazen assailants, Wolf must leap into the fray. Burdened with the company of his disgraced brother, Sir Lynx - the only Blade ever to lose his ward and live - and shadowed by a mysterious Inquisitor with a secret agenda, Wolf must make his way across a landscape of nightmares vivid and terrible enough to chill any fearless heart. For somewhere in this dark, unfamiliar world, the fate of all Chivial hangs in the balance - and it is the destiny of one reluctant Blade to tip the scales to salvation... or doom.

The King's Daggers

  • Sir Stalwart (1999)
    Expelled from Ironhall, the academy for training the king's blades, young Stalwart faces a lonely battle for survival against sorcery, swordplay, and sinister plots as he seeks to save his king and prove himself a worthy servant.
  • The Crooked House (2000)
    Sir Stalwart and Emerald set off for an ancient lord's house known as Smealey Hall, where they believe the source of evil - in the form of murder - lies, and along the way they are joined by Badger, a Blade-in-training.
  • Silvercloak (2001)
    The world's most deadly assassin has been hired to kill King Ambrose. Only Emerald can identify the killer's evil magic and only Stalwart knows what he looks like. They must trap the killer before he can strike at the King - or at them, if he sees them first. All Wart's superb skill with a sword will not avail against this terrible foe.

The Dodec books

  • Children of Chaos (2006)
  • Mother of Lies (2007)

Venice trilogy

  • The Alchemist's Apprentice (2007)
    Working non-stop to make astrology calculations and master arcane magic, young swordsman Alfeo Zeno, an apprentice to legendary clairvoyant Nostradamus, seeks to clear his master's name when the seer is falsely accused of murdering a high-ranking noble in order to fulfill one of his prophecies.
  • The Alchemist's Code (2008)
    When Nostradamus is hired to find a foreign spy by Venice's ruling Council of 10, the only clues they can offer him are the spy's intercepted messages, encoded in a seemingly unbreakable cipher. But Nostradamus soon detects evil influences working against him, and realizes the spy can only be caught by occult means. He turns to his able apprentice, the young swordsman Alfeo Zeno, whose unique talents may prove essential to unraveling the truth.
  • The Alchemist's Pursuit (2009)
    Hampered by arthritis, Nostradamus is in no mood for granting favors or running about looking for trouble. But when his apprentice Alfeo's mistress asks him to investigate the murder of her beloved courtesan mentor - and promises a fortune in payment - he comes around. It appears that someone is murdering the courtesans of Venice. All were well-known, admired for their skills - and somehow connected by a sinister event involving one of the great families of the city. While Nostradamus attempts to use the dark arts to solve riddles which confound explanation, Alfeo finds himself led by a possibly demonic force through a maze of deceit and death. And when the master and apprentice come to the end of their intertwined paths, there may be hell to pay.

The Brothers Magnus books

  • Speak to the Devil (2010)
    In the Kingdom of Jorgary, the days of feudal chivalry are fading as national armies are formed. But Ottokar Magnus is still baron, and his host of brothers include Anton, an ambitious young soldier, and Wulfgang, an amiable teenager. Unable to seek his fortune as a knight errant, Anton has enlisted with the royal Jorgarian hussars and taken Wulf along as his servant. There is magic in Jorgary, but it is regarded as Satanism, rituals performed by Speakers who are in contact with the Devil. The Speakers, though, believe that the Voices they hear belong to saints. Anton is not a Speaker... but Wulf is. Anxious to impress the court, Anton exhibits spectacular horsemanship at a royal hunt, with a little boost from Wulf. Two nights later he is dragged before Cardinal Zdenek, the king's chief minister. Zdenek offers him an earldom and anything else he could dream of if he will ride at once to a strategic fortress at Cardice and take command there. The count and his son have died, victims of both treason and witchcraft. The cardinal thinks that neighboring enemies are preparing to invade, using "modern" arms to capture the fort. Mortal resources alone will not suffice, but Zdenek knows that Anton's improbable jump at the hunt was aided by supernatural power. Anton wants nothing to do with this mission, but Wulf's Voices tell him that they should accept the charge. The result is a harrowing ride through limbo with astonishing results.
  • When the Saints (2011)
    When we left the Brothers Magnus, they had assembled in Cardice to help Anton Magnus defend the castle from attack by a neighboring state with a significant military advantage and several officers who, at any moment, could request help from saints - or, depending on your perspective, from the devil. But Cardice has a secret weapon in the form of young Wulfgang Magnus, who can ask a few favors of his own from these devil-saints. The only problem is that Wulf is in love with Madlenka, the countess from Cardice who was forcibly married to Anton to explain why he's suddenly leading the country. Even Wulf is unsure if family and political loyalty should override love. He's also beginning to realize that the magical battle he's stepped into has some serious rules that he doesn't know, and has no way to learn. And when several wild cards in every battle can tap into nearly limitless sources of magic, who knows how far and wide the battle might range?