Welcome back to Shattered Wings Thursdays: your weekly picture and teaser text about The House of Shattered Wings, excerpted from the Pinterest board I’m running for the novel. We are now 55 days away from the release of the Roc edition (and just a teensy bit more away from the Gollancz edition).
Here’s today’s picture:
Aka, pretty close to my mental image of Lucifer Morningstar, pre-Fall…
One of the key differentiators in The House of Shattered Wings is the presence of Fallen angels. Fallen are immortal, ageless, and sterile: they have no memory of anything before their Fall. When they Fall, they lose their wings and manifest as human; and for a brief moment until their innate magic heals them, they are at their most vulnerable: amnesiac and wounded and struggling to understand what they are doing in the mortal world. Needless to say, in a world where Paris is a devastated city where everyone struggles to survive, this makes newly Fallen particularly sought after–and generally not to give them hugs or flowers…
The firstborn and foremost of Fallen is Lucifer Morningstar, the founder of House Silverspires on Ile de la Cité; his power, invested in wards and other protective spells, kept the House at the top of the hierarchy of power, even in a devastated city. However, Morningstar has been missing for twenty years, and Silverspires has slowly declined in importance and strength…
There are other magical beings besides the Fallen, but this is a topic for another blog post ^^
The RT review of The House of Shattered Wings is online here. I’m just going to excerpt the relevant bits: the book is a Top Pick for August, and the review contains, among many awesome things, this, “It’s a whirlwind, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s one of the best fantasy novels of 2015.”
Also, it’s subscriber-only, but I’m reliably told that Publisher’s Weekly lists The House of Shattered Wings as one of the top ten books for Fall (alongside Laura Anne Gilman’s Silver on the Road, a book that sounds fantastic, Fran Wilde’s Updraft which I have on my ereader and am looking forward to, and Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, which is a delight).
Here’s what they say: “This intense novel depicts warring factions in a magical alternate version of 20th-century Paris, where decadence mingles with fear.”
Intense. With Decadence and fear. Yeah, sounds about right
From the book log (crossposted to amazon and goodreads, because reviews are important to authors and I reckon I should start making an effort to review consistently):
–The Scar, Sergey and Marina Dyachenko: I came to this cold, more or less (it came heavily recommended by a couple of friends, and I’d enjoyed Sergey and Marina Dyachenko’s fantastic Vita Nostra”, but I had no idea what to expect).
This is the story of Ergert Soll, a braggart and bully who goes one step too far and accidentally kills Dinar, the fiancé of student Toria. Egert finds himself cursed by the Wanderer to be a coward–so swamped by fear he’s totally unable to function. Meanwhile, Toria struggles with the loss of her fiancé; and with the appearance in Egert in her life when the latter comes to the city where her father is the Dean of the University. But all is not well: in the background, fanatics known as the Order of Lash seek to bring about the end of the world; and are ready to do anything for this..
This is a tight, character-driven study of two people and how they cope with loss and fear and the rising madness brought by the Order of Lash. I loved the intimate scenes at the university and how they opened up on a larger world, while remaining intimately focused on Toria/Egert. The theme of redemption is one I’m personally always happy to read, and here I thought it was well done if not 100% surprising (but the catharsis at the climax is wonderful done and had me on the edge of my seat). I expected this to be larger-scale and to deal with the brotherhood of Lash; but I’m really it didn’t–part of why it works is the tight focus, and Egert and Toria both having to make stands. I wish we’d seen more from Toria at the climax; the narrative ends up feeling a little unbalanced. But it’s well worth a read, and it’s quite unlike anything else I’ve ever read. Recommended.
–Uprooted, Naomi Novik: Agnieszka lives on the edge of the Wood, a dark and angry power that always seeks to expand, and twists and corrupts everything it touches. Her village (and others) survive because they are protected but the Dragon, a long-lived wizard who has dedicated his life to fighting the Wood. Every ten years the Dragon chooses a girl to serve him; and the girls he picks come back fey, unwilling to settle down in their home villages again. Agnieszka has always thought that her best friend Kasia would be the chosen girl, the one picked by the Dragon to serve him; but she hasn’t counted with her innate talent for magic…
I loved this–easily and effortlessly my favorite read of 2015. I gobbled it up in a day and found myself rereading choice passages. I love the budding relationship between Agnieszka and the Dragon, but also the fact that her friendship with Kasia remains the anchor of the story–and the Wood is such a creepy creation, the stuff of nightmares! I was only 99% sold on the ending (trying not to be spoilery there–I get the idea and love it, but wasn’t quite convinced that Agnieszka could turn aside centuries of hatred). But that doesn’t deter much from the fantastic-ness of this book. Awesome
So… apparently it’s two months until the release of The House of Shattered Wings (eep!!) With that in mind, I thought we’d start doing a little related content on the blog; and what better way to whet your appetite than evocative images? I’m already running a pinterest board for the novel here: over the next two months I’ll excerpt the images I prefer and provide some commentary that will hopefully make you want to read the book
Ok, so let’s start with basics: this is Paris in the novel. Your basic nuked city setting: following the Great Houses War (aka magical factions tearing Europe apart from 1914-1918 ), Paris is now a devastated city, its monuments scorched ruins (with the occasional magical trap), its streets covered in soot; and the Seine… the Seine not only runs black with ashes, but has become the place you really don’t want to get close to: the accumulated spells have turned dark, and people who walk too close to the river banks get snatched and dragged underwater; or strangled by tendrils they can’t see… Even bending over a bridge can rapidly turn lethal.
Nice place to live in, isn’t it? :p
Also, yes. If you’re holding an island like Ile Saint-Louis,Ile de la Cité, or Ile aux Cygnes, (Paris’s three islands), you now have a virtually impregnable fortress, if you don’t mind the fact that your river banks are totally off limits lest you lose your own people. The major setting for the novel is Ile de la Cité, which is the location of House Silverspires, sixty years after the end of the war: the city is still devastated because the damage was extensive and the infighting between Houses has never really stopped, but people are doing their best to live among the ruins.
Broadly speaking, the technology and clothing are a distorted version of the Belle Epoque: there have been some changes since then, but the Belle Epoque is understandably seen as halcyon days, a Golden Age everyone more or less overtly longs for, or regrets.
(Picture: Fran Wilde, Navah Wolfe, Alyssa Wong and me)
Just a quick note that I’m still around but completely completely buried in explody real life (aka “not serious, but time consuming” events).
I had a lovely time at the Nebulas; and finally got to see Mad Max: Fury Road with Navah Wolfe, Fran Wilde, Alyssa Wong and her boyfriend Don (and it was great, OMG. First off, the last movie I saw was Interstellar, which a. wasn’t *very* good from my point of view, and b. was a long time ago! *sigh* toddlers). Now I feel like I’m all caught up with what everyone was saying on the internet! Also, it’s a fantastic 2-hour chase movie with a couple great leads (Charlize Theron is badass awesome, and Tom Hardy too, in a different way!).
And then there was this:
(Kat Tanaka Opoknik, Alyssa Wong, Ken Liu, Liu Cixin, and me)
Yes, there was tailcoat goodness (for those who haven’t been following the adventures of the tailcoat: I basically got it for my book launch, aka “cosplaying my own characters”, in this case Selene, the head of House Silverspires and a dab hand with tailcoats, men’s clothes and general bad-assness. This was my first serious spin with it, and it went very well. Except I had to google how to tie a cravat because it’s been so long since I last did it ^^)
Didn’t actually win a Nebula, but had a great time at the banquet (Sheila Williams organises awesome table seating!) and was very happy for the winners.
Now I’m back in Paris, looking with apprehension at the mass of things I’m supposed to be doing (do not overcommit do not overcommit etc.), and gearing up for the summer before book release (*gulp*). More when my head is above water (hahaha who am I kidding).
So, the giveaway winners are:
Sakura and Virginia Preston! Congratulations–I’ve emailed you.
Thanks to everyone for entering. I’m, er, blown away by the number of entries, and the imagination–finding places to shelter in devastated Paris certainly took you to interesting places! Out of sheer curiosity (and for pure fun), I’ve run stats on the answer to this question. They’re below.
Very clearly the Catacombs come out *way* ahead There were also factions holing up in The Louvre (a sensible choice. The Louvre is in the hands of House Samothrace, which doesn’t feature in the book but is a minor House and therefore a sensible place to be, away from the big political intrigues that shake Paris from time to time), the Eiffel Tower (good choice, there’s a House on the grounds of the monument, though it doesn’t feature in the book!), and in book-related places (bookstores and libraries. You will love Emmanuelle, the archivist of House Silverspires and a pretty badass woman generally speaking).
(I haven’t decided what the catacombs will hold yet. The H is agitating for zombies, I think that might be a little too on-the-nose :p)
Also a pretty sizable faction being eminently sensible and avoiding Paris altogether (sheltering in the suburbs, countryside or abroad. It would be slightly close to cheating, except that pretty much the whole of Europe and America took a very bad hit in the Great Houses War, so I’m not really sure you’d be as well protected as you think outside of Paris…). And finally clever people in the metro or underground places (I didn’t count the sewers in that category or it’d be even larger). The tunnels are probably ruined and booby-trapped, but I should think no one is fighting you for those. Or maybe the catacomb zombies (just kidding!) And a lot of other really awesome ideas (embassies, crypts, operas, museums, restaurants and pastry shops…) that made me smile
Anyway, thanks again everyone. I was very very psyched by the interest, and I hope you had fun, at least with the “devastated Paris” question–sorry, not everyone can be a winner as I’ve got only a limited number of ARCs to give out
Have been up to a number of things (including baking and preparing for the upcoming Nebula Awards, aka “eep, my first over-the-pond flight in 2 years! ). BTW, I don’t know how much I can publicy say about that, but there’ll be shiny book-related stuff at the Nebulas, so if brace yourself if you’re attending :p (also me in a Gothic tailcoat, looking snazzy. And jetlagged).
Not much book stuff, but I’ve been focusing on shorts: answering proofreader’s queries to the upcoming “The Citadel of Weeping Pearls” (in the Oct/Nov. issue of Asimov’s (the short version of this is that one should never put the simu-ghosts of 24 dead emperors in the same story unless one is prepared to do a lot *more* work to keep them straight and separate), and writing a couple new pieces!
Among them is this one, which is, er, mostly a retelling of this legend as a Xuya story (it’s always fascinated me. Mostly because I can’t imagine wasting away on an obsession, I guess).
In Da Trang’s nightmares, Pearl is always leaving–darting away from him, towards the inexorable maw of the Sun’s gravity, going into a tighter and tighter orbit until no trace of it remains–he’s always reaching out, sending a ship, a swarm of bots–calling upon the remoras to move, sleek and deadly and yet too agonisingly slow; to do anything, to save what they can.
Too late. Too late.
Yes, there are remoras. And crabs. And er. Angst. A lot of angst
Also, a brief reminder that today is the last day for getting a signed ARC of The House of Shattered Wings, my Gothic dark fantasy of a devastated Paris, fallen angels and political intrigues (and dead bodies, because this is a Bodard book :p): enter here!
 I think of it as prep for this summer, where I’ll be flying to Spokane on a *much* longer journey aka 3 connecting flights and 17 hours of zombie-inducing state…
As you might have gathered if you follow my twitter or FB, the Advance Review Copies of the Roc edition of The House of Shattered Wings have landed at headquarters (aka my office, increasingly invaded by the snakelet’s toy cars, plush toys and board books).
Want an ARC of your very own? A chance to immerse yourself in a devastated, decadent Paris with fallen angels, alchemists and Vietnamese immortals?
You’re in the right place! All you have to do is enter below (disclaimer: this is my first time using Rafflecopter. I hope this works out). This is open to anyone regardless of where you live. This is open until Monday June 1st–I’ll announce winners Tuesday, but possibly I will mail the prizes when I get home from the Nebulas. I’ll sign and personalise the ARCs.
(if you’ve already subscribed to my mailing list, just click the button, give me the address you’re subscribed with, and I’ll count that as +1 point for you)
(Also, if you’re curious about where I’d find shelter in devastated Paris: Notre-Dame, any day. Because a. it’s on an island, and b. consecrated ground, which always comes in handy! (you don’t have to be as detailed in your answer or even to justify it. It’s just a way of having a “fun” option to the giveaway. Though I do reserve the right to post some of the best ones )
More info about the book (out August 20th from Gollancz in the UK/Commonwealth, and August 18th from Roc in the US):
A superb murder mystery, on an epic scale, set against the fall out – literally – of a war in Heaven.
Paris has survived the Great Houses War – just. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens continue to live, love, fight and survive in their war-torn city, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over the once grand capital.
House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.
Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, an alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation. They may be the architects of its last, irreversible fall…
Praise for the novel:
THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS is a Gothic masterpiece of supernatural intrigues, loves and betrayals in a ruined and decadent future Paris — wildly imaginative and completely convincing, this novel will haunt you long after you’ve put it down.
Darkly entertaining. de Bodard makes Fallen Angels entirely her own in this post-apocalyptic Paris near the turn of the century. The personal politics of necessity blend and clash with the politics of the powerful as people—mortal and immortal—attempt to survive.
Because it’s been a while since I did one of these, and because this blog has kind of fallen by the wayside while I worked on other things (mostly keeping up with the snakelet): have a snippet from my latest short story!
Thanh arrived late at the First Presentation party; deliberately, because it would enable her to mingle more easily into the crowd; and because she couldn’t deal with the thought of making small and inane talk with Anh Ngoc and her new husband for what would seem like hours, while they waited for the other guests.
It had been years, and she wasn’t sure, altogether, if she would even know anyone; if she would even have the proper authorisations to see anyone. But, once she cleared the entry hall and entered the compartment proper–and the overlay of a vast courtyard replaced the narrow compartment, she saw people clustered by a buffet instead of a beautiful, empty landscape; and let out a breath she hadn’t even been aware of holding.
Set onboard a very particular space station that has a very particular way of dealing with things. I actually started this one as an entirely different beast–basically a thriller about circles of power, and the coming back of someone who had been displaced from a ruling position aboard a space station. I had the rough outline, and I got about a scene into it before I realised this just wasn’t the story I wanted to tell; that I needed something more intimate and more concerned with daily life in all its glorious strangeness and eccentricities. Space soap opera ftw