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“In the myriadic year of our Lord—the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death!—Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.”

Or, that was the plan.

Eight houses have sent their necromancers to the First House, that they might undergo special training to better serve the Emperor. For the first time in ten thousand years, he is summoning the heads of the lower houses to prove that they are worthy to become his new lyctors. They are summoned, and so they arrive.

From the Second House, Judith Deuteros and her cavalier, Marta Dyas. They’re professionals, elite military leaders, with a necromantic focus in draining and redirecting energy from one living being to another.

From the Third, Coronabeth & Ianthe Tridentarius and their cavalier, Naberius Tern. The Tridentarius twins are the Crown Princess and the Princess of their house, respectively, and are the trendsetters of the system. They specialize in drawing energy from the dead.

From the Fourth, Isaac Tettares and his cavalier, Jeannemary Chatur. The Fourth House serves on the front lines of the Emperor’s wars, and Tettares focuses on an aspect of necromancy that allows him to turn the dead into high-yield explosives through fission.

From the Fifth, Abigail Pent and her cavalier and husband, Magnus Quinn. A house of tradition, frequently looked to by other houses for their stability (as demonstrated by a husband and wife serving as cavalier/heir). The Fifth speak to the dead, and hear their voices.

From the Sixth, Palamades Sextus and his cavalier, Camilla Hect. The House of Librarians, the Sixth are the record keepers and historians. In keeping with their theme, their specialty is psychometry, reading the energy left behind by the living and the dead alike.

From the Seventh, Dulcinea Septimus and her cavalier, Protesilaus Ebdoma. The The Seventh specializes in preservation of both body and soul after death.

From the Eighth, Silas Octakiseron and his cavalier and uncle, Colum Asht. The Eighth serves as the Emperor’s judge and jury, their fervor knowing no bounds. Octakiseron practices a form of necromancy which siphons his cavalier’s soul from his body, using him as a conduit to power his magics.

And from the Ninth House, Harrowhark Nonagesimus. Necromantic specialty: skeleton constructs. Harrow is a genius of her art, capable of generating full skeleton constructs from a single fragment of human bone, unmatched in her field by any necromancer in generations. She does bones. Also, Gideon Nav. Not really a cavalier, but faking it pretty well so far. Gideon is one of the greatest fighters alive, albeit far more comfortable with her two-handed longsword than with the lightweight rapier favored by the official cavaliers. However, if she’s going to maintain the facade that she is the official cavalier of the Ninth House, she has to adjust and adapt. After all, Harrow has promised Gideon full freedom and enrollment in the Cohort to serve the Emperor on the battlefields ishe helps Harrow become a Lyctor.

The First House is devoid of almost all life when the necromancers and their cavaliers arrive, save for Teacher and his two cohorts. All services are provided by a staff of skeletal constructs, and the new guests quickly find that they have no way to leave, save for solving the mysteries of the House itself. Teacher provides them each with a single rule. “We ask,” began Teacher, “that you never open a locked door unless you have permission.”

Harrow swears Gideon to silence as they begin their exploration of the First House, seeking to unlock the secrets of Lyctorhood that lie within. Not all of the House’s secrets, however, are benevolent, however, and the other necromancers and cavaliers are eagerly searching for answers as well. Some may be willing to do whatever it takes to triumph over the challenge and win the Emperor’s favor.

In short, y’all, I fucking loved this book. Easily in the top 3 novels I read in 2019. I cannot wait until Harrow the Ninth comes out this summer. I’ve already pre-ordered it. Do yourself a favor and give it a read. My only regret is that it took me so long to finish writing the review I felt it deserved.

I have made it to mid-semester.

Seven weeks down, seven to go, with a few glorious days of breathing room in between. I’m going to try to get some early work done for next week, but I’m also going to be reading some stuff for fun.

So far, so good.

It’s not really an “extra” day, I

Know, but there’s something

Unbelievably special about

One extra night falling asleep

Next to you.

Good afternoon, everyone! I promise that I am, in fact, still alive, despite the best efforts of parenthood, full-time employment, and grad school.

I’ve almost made it to my mid-semester break, and I’m honestly feeling pretty good about this whole thing. It has, however, made it more difficult for me to keep up with my usual pace of writing for fun. I’m still working on a full review of the other best book that I read in 2019, Tamsyn Muir’s beautifully dark Gideon the Ninth.

But fear not. These things and more will arrive for your reading pleasure in due time.

Meanwhile, I’m taking three online classes through Clarion University. Organization of Information, Information Sources and Services, and Intro to Information Professions. It’s a pretty solid introduction to the whole job that I hope to be doing when I’m all done, and a decent refresher course on a lot of what I currently do.

For now, though, I must go. I’ve got a presentation on Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable to complete.

 

WordPress has informed me that today is my 9th anniversary of setting up this blog.

It’s pretty close. My first post was on the 20th of January, 2011. Either way, I’ve been at this nonsense for almost a decade. Thanks to those of you who have put up with me for so long, and thanks to those who have joined along the way.

Things have changed a lot since the outset of this blog, and I’m happy to say that I’m a better person than I was back then (albeit still not a published novelist, but hey, you win some, you lose some).

For the foreseeable future, stay tuned for poetry, short stories, book reviews, and random insights into my current status as a grad student.

Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series has been one of my favorites for a couple of years now, and I leaped at a recent opportunity to check out Come Tumbling Down, the 5th novella. Warning: Some spoilers for earlier books in the series follow.

*************************************************************************************

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children is a school for children who have ventured to other worlds and come back again. The school has three rules. No solicitation. No visitors. No quests.

Rule #3 gets broken a lot.

Some time ago, Jack Wolcott killed her twin sister, Jill, in order to protect the other students at Eleanor’s school. With Jill in her arms, Jack returned through their door to the Moors, where Jack intended to resurrect Jill and maintain the balance of power there. At the outset of Come Tumbling Down, Christopher (a fellow student, and a bit of a musical necromancer), has moved into Jack’s old room in the basement, and is suddenly interrupted by a lightning storm that generates a door from the Moors. Through the door steps Alexis, Jack’s beloved, bearing a Wolcott twin in her arms. Which Wolcott twin is slightly more complicated, and where our quest begins.

With the aid of Cora (a mermaid doomed to life ashore unless her own door returns for her), Christopher quickly rallies Kade (the Goblin Prince in waiting) and Sumi (the future savior of the world of Confection) to travel to the Moors. There, they plan to defeat Jill and her vampire Master, save Jack, and restore the now-disrupted balance of the world. That is, of course, if they all survive the many other monsters that dwell there.

Seanan McGuire continues to weave an incredible tale across the many worlds of the Wayward Children series. Come Tumbling Down is no exception to the brilliance. This latest novella is just as tightly paced, filled with a diverse cast and McGuire’s signature snarky humor. I loved this book just as much as I’ve loved the rest of the series to date, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

“New things are the best kind of magic there is.”

Thanks to NetGalley and Tor.com for an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Neil Peart died this week, and so I grieve.

I had the tremendous privilege of seeing him perform live on two occasions (August 2nd, 2013, and July 11th, 2015). I can’t pinpoint the moment in my life when Rush became my favorite band, but I know that there was always something in the lyrics, frequently penned by Peart, that spoke to me. I remember being absolutely blown away when I found out that the band was comprised of only three people and still capable of such a sound.

He was, and always will be, a legendary drummer and lyricist. I am grateful for his music and his books. I send my most sincere condolences to his family and friends, as well as to my fellow fans.

Rest in peace, Neil. Thank you.

“A Farewell To Kings”

When they turn the pages of history
When these days have passed long ago
Will they read of us with sadness
For the seeds that we let grow?
We turned our gaze
From the castles in the distance
Eyes cast down
On the path of least resistance

Cities full of hatred, fear and lies
Withered hearts and cruel, tormented eyes
Scheming demons dressed in kingly guise
Beating down the multitude and
Scoffing at the wise

The hypocrites are slandering
The sacred Halls of Truth
Ancient nobles showering
Their bitterness on youth
Can’t we find the minds that made us strong?
Can’t we learn to feel what’s right
And what’s wrong?
What’s wrong?

Cities full of hatred, fear and lies
Withered hearts and cruel, tormented eyes
Scheming demons dressed in kingly guise
Beating down the multitude and
Scoffing at the wise
Can’t we raise our eyes and make a start?
Can’t we find the minds to lead us
Closer to the heart?

2010 was a terrifying year.

I was loving my life, the end of my senior year of college rushing at me. I had no idea where I was going to go. I had summer employment and housing lined up through my university, and I was throwing job applications at anything and everything I was remotely qualified for, but the dread of having to move back to my home town, even temporarily, was looming.

It’s been nearly 10 years since I finished my undergraduate career. I got through 7 years of underemployment, balancing part-time jobs and substitute shifts. I’ve had roommates come and go. I’ve struggled to make rent (and struggled to ask for help with rent). I’ve seen an employer file for bankruptcy. I’ve been in a car accident. I’ve attended the funerals of my father’s parents, and those of too many friends.

But there has been joy. I’ve reconnected with old friends, and made new ones. I’ve fallen in love. I’ve gotten married, had children, bought a house. I’ve found a career that is fulfilling. I’ve traveled around the world (Korea, Hawaii). I found a pirate crew. I’ve won trivia competitions. I’ve expanded my horizons beyond what 2010 me ever would’ve believed possible.

And now, in 2020, I’m going back to school. I’m a full-time library specialist, full-time dad, and full-time student. I’m reading, writing on the side (as, well, always), and running pretty much exclusively on caffeine. So really, not all that much has changed. But I have. I’m a better person than I was ten years ago, and I can only strive to continue the trend in the next ten years.

2020 is a terrifying year. But I’ll get through it, and so will you.

Look, it’s late, and I know

That you still have big plans

About everything you’re going

To accomplish tomorrow.

I want you to remember that

I believe in you, and your

Ability to take on life one new

Year and one new day at a

Time. I wish you health and

Happiness, and I wish you

Knowledge and acceptance.

I wish that you might find it

In your heart to see me again

On this night, when we welcome

The spirit of progress.

And then, as always, I’ll wish

You a Happy New Year.

You

are allowed

to write things

that are not

Profound