More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Michael J. Sullivan's Age of Myth for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Michael J. Sullivan’s trailblazing career began with the breakout success of his Riyria series: full-bodied, spellbinding fantasy adventures whose imaginative scope and sympathetic characters won a devoted readership and comparisons to fantasy masters Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, and J.R.R. Tolkien himself. Now Sullivan’s stunning hardcover debut, Age of Myth, inaugurates an original five-book series—and one of fantasy’s finest next-generation storytellers continues to break new ground.

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between humans and those they thought were gods changes forever.

Now only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer; Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom; and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over. The time of rebellion has begun.


You can also download Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology for only 5.86$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Neil Gaiman, long inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction, presents a bravura rendition of the Norse gods and their world from their origin though their upheaval in Ragnarok.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.

Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose, these gods emerge with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

Philip Pullman contest winner!

Sorry guys, I totally forgot about this giveaway! =( My bad. . . This lucky winner will receive my review copy of Philip Pullman's The Secret Commonwealth! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

- Craig Murphy from Long Beach, California, USA

Many thanks to all the participants!

Quote of the Day

Assassination is just murder with a touch more precision.

- MARK LAWRENCE, Prince of Thorns

Did some house cleaning this week and went through a lot of stuff I brought back from my various travels. Came across a dogeared copy of the ARC of Mark Lawrence's debut I brought with me on my trip to the Balkans back in the summer of 2011. The dogears signal potential quotes to post here on the Hotlist.

Not sure why this one didn't make the cut back in the day. With Prince of Thorns the author unleashed the ruthless Jord Ancrath upon the speculative fiction market. And the rest, as they say, is history. . . =)

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 20th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Institute is down four positions, ending the week at number 11. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

In paperback:

Andrzej Sapkowski's The Last Wish returns at number 4.

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale maintains its position at number 10 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download The Book of Swords, edited by Gardner Dozois, for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

New epic fantasy in the grand tradition—including a never-before-published Song of Ice and Fire story by George R. R. Martin!

Fantasy fiction has produced some of the most unforgettable heroes ever conjured onto the page: Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné, Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Classic characters like these made sword and sorcery a storytelling sensation, a cornerstone of fantasy fiction—and an inspiration for a new generation of writers, spinning their own outsize tales of magic and swashbuckling adventure.

Now, in The Book of Swords, acclaimed editor and bestselling author Gardner Dozois presents an all-new anthology of original epic tales by a stellar cast of award-winning modern masters—many of them set in their authors’ best-loved worlds. Join today’s finest tellers of fantastic tales, including George R. R. Martin, K. J. Parker, Robin Hobb, Scott Lynch, Ken Liu, C. J. Cherryh, Daniel Abraham, Lavie Tidhar, Ellen Kushner, and more on action-packed journeys into the outer realms of dark enchantment and intrepid derring-do, featuring a stunning assortment of fearless swordsmen and warrior women who face down danger and death at every turn with courage, cunning, and cold steel.

FEATURING SIXTEEN ALL-NEW STORIES:

“The Best Man Wins” by K. J. Parker
“Her Father’s Sword” by Robin Hobb
“The Hidden Girl” by Ken Liu
“The Sword of Destiny” by Matthew Hughes
“‘I Am a Handsome Man,’ Said Apollo Crow” by Kate Elliott
“The Triumph of Virtue” by Walter Jon Williams
“The Mocking Tower” by Daniel Abraham
“Hrunting” by C. J. Cherryh
“A Long, Cold Trail” by Garth Nix
“When I Was a Highwayman” by Ellen Kushner
“The Smoke of Gold Is Glory” by Scott Lynch
“The Colgrid Conundrum” by Rich Larson
“The King’s Evil” by Elizabeth Bear
“Waterfalling” by Lavie Tidhar
“The Sword Tyraste” by Cecelia Holland
“The Sons of the Dragon” by George R. R. Martin

And an introduction by Gardner Dozois.


You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts' Daughter of the Empire, first installment in the excellent Empire trilogy, for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

An epic tale of adventure and intrigue, Daughter of the Empire is fantasy of the highest order by two of the most talented writers in the field today.

Magic and murder engulf the realm of Kelewan. Fierce warlords ignite a bitter blood feud to enslave the empire of Tsuranuanni. While in the opulent Imperial courts, assassins and spy-master plot cunning and devious intrigues against the rightful heir. Now Mara, a young, untested Ruling lady, is called upon to lead her people in a heroic struggle for survival. But first she must rally an army of rebel warriors, form a pact with the alien cho-ja, and marry the son of a hated enemy. Only then can Mara face her most dangerous foe of all—in his own impregnable stronghold.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Peter F. Hamilton's The Dreaming Void for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Reviewers exhaust superlatives when it comes to the science fiction of Peter F. Hamilton. His complex and engaging novels, which span thousands of years–and light-years–are as intellectually stimulating as they are emotionally fulfilling. Now, with The Dreaming Void, the first volume in a trilogy set in the same far-future as his acclaimed Commonwealth saga, Hamilton has created his most ambitious and gripping space epic yet.

The year is 3589, fifteen hundred years after Commonwealth forces barely staved off human extinction in a war against the alien Prime. Now an even greater danger has surfaced: a threat to the existence of the universe itself.

At the very heart of the galaxy is the Void, a self-contained microuniverse that cannot be breached, cannot be destroyed, and cannot be stopped as it steadily expands in all directions, consuming everything in its path: planets, stars, civilizations. The Void has existed for untold millions of years. Even the oldest and most technologically advanced of the galaxy’s sentient races, the Raiel, do not know its origin, its makers, or its purpose.

But then Inigo, an astrophysicist studying the Void, begins dreaming of human beings who live within it. Inigo’s dreams reveal a world in which thoughts become actions and dreams become reality. Inside the Void, Inigo sees paradise. Thanks to the gaiafield, a neural entanglement wired into most humans, Inigo’s dreams are shared by hundreds of millions–and a religion, the Living Dream, is born, with Inigo as its prophet. But then he vanishes.

Suddenly there is a new wave of dreams. Dreams broadcast by an unknown Second Dreamer serve as the inspiration for a massive Pilgrimage into the Void. But there is a chance that by attempting to enter the Void, the pilgrims will trigger a catastrophic expansion, an accelerated devourment phase that will swallow up thousands of worlds.

And thus begins a desperate race to find Inigo and the mysterious Second Dreamer. Some seek to prevent the Pilgrimage; others to speed its progress–while within the Void, a supreme entity has turned its gaze, for the first time, outward. . . .

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Peter F. Hamilton's The Temporal Void.


You can also get your hands on the digital edition of Joel Shepherd's Renegade for only 3.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

AUREALIS AWARD FINALIST; Best SF Novel of 2015.

One thousand years after Earth was destroyed in an unprovoked attack, humanity has emerged victorious from a series of terrible wars to assure its place in the galaxy. But during celebrations on humanity’s new Homeworld, the legendary Captain Pantillo of the battle carrier Phoenix is court-martialed then killed, and his deputy, Lieutenant Commander Erik Debogande, the heir to humanity’s most powerful industrial family, is framed with his murder. Assisted by Phoenix’s marine commander Trace Thakur, Erik and Phoenix are forced to go on the run, as they seek to unravel the conspiracy behind their Captain’s demise, pursued to the death by their own Fleet. What they discover, about the truth behind the wars and the nature of humanity’s ancient alien allies, will shake the sentient galaxy to its core.

You can also download the other installments in the Spiral Wars series for the same price.

Musical Interlude



Gotta love the beats Sofi Tukker come up with. The lyrics, well that's another story. . . :P

Dispel Illusion


You probably remember that I was intrigued when Mark Lawrence announced that he was releasing a science fiction series. With nine fantasy yarns under his belt and a well-deserved reputation as one of the best speculative fiction authors out there, I was wondering if he could make the jump to science fiction and wow readers in a new subgenre. Yes, ye of little faith and all that, I know. In the end, One Word Kill delivered on pretty much all fronts.

I also wondered if Lawrence could maintain that level of quality and originality for what came next, yet everything in Limited Wish worked quite well and the second volume avoided the many pitfalls of the middle book syndrome. Now, the only question remaining would have to be whether or not the author could close the show with the same style and aplomb.

And I'm pleased to report that Mark Lawrence did just that!

Here's the blurb:

Sometimes being wrong is the right answer.

Nick Hayes’s genius is in wringing out the universe’s secrets. It’s a talent that’s allowed him to carve paths through time. But the worst part is that he knows how his story will end. He’s seen it with his own eyes. And every year that passes, every breakthrough he makes, brings him a step closer. Mia’s accident is waiting for them both in 2011. If it happens then he’s out of choices.

Then a chance 1992 discovery reveals that this seeker of truth has been lying to himself. But why? It’s a question that haunts him for years. A straw he clings to as his long-awaited fate draws near.

Time travel turns out not to be the biggest problem Nick has to work on. He needs to find out how he can stay on his path but change the destination. Failure has never been an option, and neither has survival. But Nick’s hoping to roll the dice one more time. And this new truth begins with a lie.

As is usually his wont, the author's worldbuilding continues to be there to provide the tale's backdrop and doesn't intrude on the storytelling. Quantum physics, the multiverse theory, and time traveling are once more at the heart of this final installment. But as was the case with One Word Kill and Limited Wish, this third volume is not a hard scifi novel. Mark Lawrence spent years working as a scientist and throughout the trilogy he did a wonderful job dumbing down the science involved to make sure that readers are never lost. And although there is more science featured within the pages of Dispel Illusion, the Impossible Times remains Lawrence's most accessible series thus far.

The first book introduced Nick to the mind-blowing reality that is the concept of time traveling and the sequel saw him use his intellectual abilities to study and gradually understand the logistics behind time travel. Dispel Illusion takes the tale one step further and deals with the repercussions of time manipulation. With Mia's accident approaching, it gradually dawns upon Nick that a lot of things he thought he knew no longer make as much sense as he first believed.

It's been obvious for a while that each novel's title has to do with a particular spell or something similar, and that the Dungeons and Dragons game sessions Nick shares with his friends have consequences on the plot at large. It may not be as evident to draw a parallel between their role-playing meetings and the overall storyline of Dispel Illusion early on, but it makes more and more sense as you read on. This third volume is more complex than its predecessors, no doubt about it. Simply trust Mark Lawrence to do right by you and all will be explained in good time.

As was the case with One Word Kill, this last volume is pretty much Nick and Mia's tale throughout. The members of the supporting cast from the first two installments play various roles as Dispel Illusion weaves through a timeline that moves between 1992, 1985, and 2011. Needless to say, Lawrence has quite a few surprises up his sleeve. All I can say is that you should expect the unexpected. And then some.

Dispel Illusion is another short science fiction book. Once again, Lawrence keeps things moving at a good clip and the pace is never an issue. My only regret is that this is another quick read, one you wish could last longer. The author goes full circle in this one, capping it all off with a compelling endgame and a satisfying finale. If for some reason you've been reticent to give Lawrence's fantasy series a shot, perhaps the Impossible Times trilogy would work better for you.

With a fourth quality series published and another trilogy on the way, Mark Lawrence continues to be one of the best SFF writers on the market today. Looking forward to whatever he's got in the pipeline.

The final verdict: 8/10

For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download William Gibson's Count Zero for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

A stylish, street smart, frighteningly probable parable of the future from the visionary, New York Times bestselling author of Neuromancer and Agency.

A corporate mercenary wakes in a reconstructed body, a beautiful woman by his side. Then Hosaka Corporation reactivates him, for a mission more dangerous than the one he’s recovering from: to get a defecting chief of R&D—and the biochip he’s perfected—out intact. But this proves to be of supreme interest to certain other parties—some of whom aren’t remotely human...

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 13th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Institute is down four positions, ending the week at number 7. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments is down seven positions, ending the week at number 12. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea is up one spot, finishing the week at number 14.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale maintains its position at number 10 (trade paperback).

Win an Advance Reading Copy of Kevin Hearne's A BLIGHT OF BLACKWINGS


I'm giving away my advance reading copy of Kevin Hearne's A Blight of Blackwings to one lucky winner! For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

From the New York Times bestselling creator of the Iron Druid Chronicles comes the highly anticipated sequel to A Plague of Giants: A world-breaking war—an invasion of giant warriors—inspires a movement to fight back.

SOLDIER AND AVENGER
Daryck is from a city that was devastated by the war with the Bone Giants, and now he and a band of warriors seek revenge against the giants for the loved ones they’ve lost. But will vengeance be enough to salve their grief?

DREAMER AND LEADER
Hanima is part of a new generation with extraordinary magical talents: She can speak to fantastical animals. But when this gift becomes a threat to the powers-that-be, Hanima becomes the leader of a movement to use this magic to bring power to the people.

SISTER AND SEEKER
Koesha is the captain of an all-female crew on a perilous voyage to explore unknown waters. Though her crew is seeking a path around the globe, Koesha is also looking for her sister, lost at sea two years ago. But what lies beyond the edges of the map is far more dangerous than storms and sea monsters. . . .

In this sequel to A Plague of Giants, these characters and more will become the voices of a new generation bringing hope and revolution to a war-torn world.

The rules are the same as usual. You need to send an email at reviews@(no-spam)gryphonwood.net with the header "BLIGHT." Remember to remove the "no spam" thingy.

Second, your email must contain your full mailing address (that's snail mail!), otherwise your message will be deleted.

Lastly, multiple entries will disqualify whoever sends them. And please include your screen name and the message boards that you frequent using it, if you do hang out on a particular MB.

Good luck to all the participants!

Quote of the Day

An adventure is somebody else slogging through the mud and snow while suffering from trench foot, ringworm, dysentry and starvation, being chased by people with their hearts set on murder or more. I have been there. I have done that, playing both parts. I do not recommend it. Be content with a nice farm or shop. Make lots of babies and bring them up to be good people.

GLEN COOK, The Many Deaths of the Black Company.

For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Though the book is not as good as I expected, it is quite a treat to have Croaker return as the POV narrator!

Naamah's Curse


Although it showed signs of greatness akin to those that made its predecessors such wonderful reads, I felt that Naamah's Kiss turned out to be Jacqueline Carey's weakest Kushiel-related work to date. Given the originality and the quality of the previous two trilogies, Naamah's Kiss and the next two installments had extremely big shoes to fill. Quite unfair as far as expectations go, no doubt about it, what with the great tapestry of complex storylines that has been woven over the course of the six unforgettable volumes that came before. Understandably, it raised the bar sky-high and created lofty expectations that could not possibly be met by whatever came next. Another difficulty was the fact that the world and its characters have moved on, and to all intents and purposes the author was forced to start from scratch.

The first volume was a two-part story. The first portion, the one focusing on Moirin's upbringing and her sojourn to Terre d'Ange when she came of age was as compelling as anything the Carey ever wrote. The second part, the one focusing on Moirin's sea voyage to Ch'in and her quest to save the throne, felt decidedly discordant and inconsistent. Sadly, following a terrific start, the first installment in the Naamah series suddenly lost steam and suffered from a rushed ending that failed to live up to the potential shown by the book early on.

Weakest installment or not, Naamah's Kiss was still better than most fantasy offerings on the market today. I was thus looking forward to reading Naamah's Curse and discover where Carey would take us next. And I'm pleased to report that this second volume is a better balanced read.

Here's the blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Carey, praised for pushing the boundaries of epic fantasy, delivers the second installment of the Naamah series, set in the vivid alternative Renaissance world of her famed Kushiel's Legacy novels.

Alone and far from the land of her birth, young Moirin sets out across wild Tatar territory to find her beloved Bao, the proud Ch'in stick fighter who holds the missing half of her diadhanam, the divine soul-spark of her mother's people. But the lovers' reunion is short lived. Moirin is abducted, cast in chains that bind her magic, and betrayed into the hands of a fanatic Yeshuite priest. Fiercely zealous, he is determined to save Moirin's soul and convert her to his faith...or see her stoned to death for her many sins. With her soul declared a battleground of the gods, Moirin will struggle to hold on to her humanity and survive - all the while wondering if the gift of love bestowed on her by the goddess Naamah is a blessing or a curse.

Wrestling with issues of faith and divine will, Naamah's Curse explores what happens when mortal men seek to mold the gods in their own images.

As is usually her wont, Jacqueline Carey's worldbuilding is amazing. Eschewing the traditional European medieval environment, Carey's creation is a Renaissance era analog and it is set in an alternate version of Western Europe. Previous works took us on fabulous journeys that enabled readers to discover more about her universe and she never disappointed. Richly detailed and imagined in terms of cultures, religions, and politics, like all its predecessors Naamah's Kiss was another textured and sophisticated novel that took us to alternate versions of Britain, France, and China. This second installment takes Moirin across central Asia, from China, to Mongolia, Russia, India, and Nepal. Naamah's Curse is another vast and captivating travelogue which introduced us to yet more corners of Carey's universe.

Like many other readers, I miss the first person narrative of Phèdre nó Delaunay. As a deeply flawed character, her strengths and weaknesses made her genuine and her perspective, that of an older woman relating the tale of her past, misled readers on several occasions by playing with their expectations. I particularly enjoyed how Phèdre's strenghts often became her weaknesses and vice versa. Imriel was deeply flawed himself and his point of view, though it took some getting used to, ultimately worked nearly as well as that of his foster mother. Surprisingly, Moirin's perspective didn't take any time to get used to. To a certain extent, Moirin's education and her introduction at the court of Terre d'Ange mirrored that of Phèdre in Kushiel's Dart. Having spent her childhood in isolation in the wilderness, there is an innocence and vulnerability to Moirin, but also a definite strength that Phèdre did not possess as a young woman. And that resolve gets sorely tested in this second volume. During her search for Bao, she often finds herself alone and forced to rely on no one but herself. I feel that her harrowing experiences during the search for her beloved and subsequent captivity and flight finally made her come together as a main protagonist. So much so that I now stopped comparing her to Phèdre and Imriel, as if Moirin's voice and perspective have finally taken their rightful place in the driver's seat.

Carey always had a knack for creating endearing and memorable secondary characters, and once more she came up with a great cast for Naamah's Curse. In the early chapters, there are some poignant scenes featuring Bao's mother and sister, as well as Batu's family while Moirin journeys across the Tatar Territory. Then it's the people associated with her ordeal as a prisoner in Vralia, especially Patriarch Pyotr Rostov, poor Valentina, and her bastard son Aleksei. Finally, it's the Rani of Bhaktipur and her clever son. And of course Bao, who carries half on Moirin's soul in his heart.

One of the main themes explored by this novel has to do with the ways men can twist their gods and dogma in order to achieve their own ends. Whether it's the Khan of the Tatars, the Yesuite Patriarch, the Falconer, or the Spider Queen, they all preach a perverted devotion meant to serve their own needs and thirst for power.

The author continues to write with elegance. Her lyrical prose is something special and I feel it could well be the very best in the genre today. As I mentioned before, even the darkest and more shocking scenes are written with a distinctive literary grace that makes them even more powerful than they would be in the hands of a less gifted author. Once again in Naamah's Curse, her spellbinding prose creates an imagery filled with wonder and beauty. And other than Robin Hobb, no one makes her characters suffer as much over the course of a book/series. And as was the case with Phèdre and Imriel, it's obvious that Moirin's life will get a lot worse before it gets better.

There was plenty of sex featured in Naamah's Kiss. But unlike the first two trilogies, in which sexual relationships were more about dominance and/or submission, as a scion of Naamah young Moirin offered herself for the sheer joy of the act. Her sexual nature and desire to please landed Moirin into a number of contradictory and detrimental relationships that put her into weird and occasionally dangerous situations. But these, as much as the other challenges she faced, would shape her and help her grow into the woman she is meant to become. It continues in the same vein in this sequel, though there is less sex involved. Indeed, Naamah's Curse is likely the less sexual Kushiel novel thus far.

Unlike its predecessor, this book doesn't suffer from any pacing issues. The rhythm flows well throughout, even if some portions move faster than others. As I mentioned, this second installment is more balanced and it makes for a better reading experience.

Naamah's Curse is another convoluted read full of wonder and sensuality. I can't wait to find out what Jacqueline Carey has in store for us in Naamah's Blessing.

The final verdict: 8.25/10

For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (January 6th)

In hardcover:

Stephen King's The Institute maintains its position at number 3. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Margaret Atwood's The Testaments is up five positions, ending the week at number 5. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea is down one spot, finishing the week at number 15.

In paperback:

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is up two positions, ending the week at number 10 (trade paperback).

Stephen King's Doctor Sleep is up three spots, finishing the week at number 11 (trade paperback).

Stephen King's It is down three spots, finishing the week at number 13 (trade paperback).

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


For a limited time, you can download Mark Lawrence's Dispel Illusion for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Sometimes being wrong is the right answer.

Nick Hayes’s genius is in wringing out the universe’s secrets. It’s a talent that’s allowed him to carve paths through time. But the worst part is that he knows how his story will end. He’s seen it with his own eyes. And every year that passes, every breakthrough he makes, brings him a step closer. Mia’s accident is waiting for them both in 2011. If it happens then he’s out of choices.

Then a chance 1992 discovery reveals that this seeker of truth has been lying to himself. But why? It’s a question that haunts him for years. A straw he clings to as his long-awaited fate draws near.

Time travel turns out not to be the biggest problem Nick has to work on. He needs to find out how he can stay on his path but change the destination. Failure has never been an option, and neither has survival. But Nick’s hoping to roll the dice one more time. And this new truth begins with a lie.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


Not speculative fiction, but you can download James Clavell's Gai-Jin for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The heir to the magnificent English trading company, the Noble House…the direct descendant of the first Toranaga Shogun battling to usher his country into the modern age…a beautiful young French woman forever torn between ambition and desire…Their lives intertwine in an exotic land newly open to foreigners, gai-jin, torn apart by greed, idealism, and terrorism. Their passions mingle with monarchs and diplomats, assassins, courtesans and spies. Their fates collide in James Clavell’s latest masterpiece set in nineteenth-century Japan—an unforgettable epic seething with betrayal and secrets, brutality and heroism, love and forbidden passions.