Today I am excited to be taking part in the blog tour for debut epic fantasy We Break Immortals by indie author Thomas Howard Riley with a guest post! I would like to thank Thomas for the beautifully wrapped paperback copy of his book and to Escapist Book Tours for having me along on this tour! Please take time to check out the posts from the other bloggers/bookstagrammers/podcasters on the tour:
I was lucky enough to be sent an arc of this book back in the summer and you can read my review here!
What If Gandalf Was A Serial Killer?
The origin spark of my writing and worldbuilding
by Thomas Howard Riley
What if Gandalf was a serial killer?
A weird thought for a ten year old to have after reading Lord Of The Rings. But anyone who knows me knows that I have never claimed to be normal.
So, what if Gandalf was a serial killer?
By that I do not mean: what if Gandalf turned evil and went after the One Ring and tried his hand at world domination. We know what would happen there. Another wizard already did that. In that case Gandalf would just be Saruman.
But what if he didn’t want world domination? What if he offered rides on his cart to unsuspecting hobbits and then found a quiet glen to stare deep into their eyes while he strangled them? What if he kidnapped hobbits and left little riddles for the mayor of Hobbiton to try to solve in time to save a victim? What if he just wanted a young man or woman here and there to bind, torture, and kill in between pipeweed fixes?
What if he was Gandalf the Ripper? The Bree Strangler? The Rivendell Killer?
What if Gandalf dropped by Hobbiton every few months, and hobbits started to go missing? Would they put two and two together? What if they did? What if they caught him in the act? Torturing and slaughtering a pretty young hobbit?
What if he didn’t even try to hide it? What could they do? He has magick. (that’s not a typo; it’s how I spell magick) What can they do against that? Ride until they find Cirdan? Good luck getting him to leave those grey havens. Ask Elrond for help? He has been putting up with this middle earth bullshit for six thousand years. He is not going to ride out for some small time, non-third-age-ending crime. He is going to be staying in Rivendell, feet up, relaxing, scrolling through his feed.
I started to think of what the authorities (hobbit or men) would do—call for help, form a hobbit task force, try to track his movements, find out how to stop him from using his powerful magick, and neutralize him in some way.
These are the thoughts that accompanied my extravagant Raisin Bran breakfasts before running to catch the school bus.
I kept having those thoughts as the years went by. Every fantasy book had magick users of one sort or another, and all of them touched on this problem to one degree or another.
But there was one common denominator that only a few every fully embraced—people with magick in every imagined society, from Hogwarts to King’s Landing, from Tar Valon to Luthadel, on Krynn or Faerun, are one thing and one thing only—dangerous.
What happens if Dumbledore comes down with a fever and becomes disoriented? What happens if Fizban the Fabulous or Elminster the Mage have one too many at the local pub and lose self control? What happens when Quick Ben develops dementia? What if instead of channeling his grief into fighting for change, Kelsier fell into despair and went mad and began using allomancy to serial murder prostitutes in the midnight streets of Luthadel?
What is there to prevent them from delighting in whatever terrible abuses they wished? What prevents them from killing a king or queen and usurping their power?
What could you do if they have magick and you have nothing? A knife in the dark? What if you miss? Poison? What if they notice? Ambush? What if they hear you? What if they escape? What if they want revenge? Could you hire your own sorcerers to protect you from the other sorcerers? What if your protectors opted not to defend you? What if they turned on you?
But without some way to stop magick from being used, no one could stop a wizard from doing whatever they wanted to whoever they wanted. There is no sorcerer-with-no-name riding a pale horse to save your village from the bad wizards.
Would a society, any society, even be able to survive, let alone flourish under the constant threat of magick? They couldn’t possibly. Not without some way to keep magick in check. Society itself would unravel.
How could you ever feel safe living next to a wizard? Even if they were fine and good for ten thousand days, what if on the ten thousand and first day they had a bad day, their partner left them and took the kids and they had a meltdown? How could you ever know for sure that it couldn’t happen someday?
It is one thing for your neighbor to go mad while waving a sword. Swords have limits to the damage they can do. But what if instead of a sword they had the equivalent of a ten-ton bomb with flame throwers on it strapped to themselves at all times? Would you really be willing to let them walk around because most of the time they were nice?
Societies would realistically be pushed to the breaking point with sorcerers roaming about free.
This started me thinking.
How would societies combat this problem? How would they insulate themselves against the terror they must have felt day in and day out over what horrible things magick could do to them in the hands of the wrong person? Especially knowing that with the right circumstances, the right amount of alcohol, the right amount of provocation, the right amount of trauma, anyone could become the wrong person.
You could not rely on just one or two kindly sorcerers to protect you. What if they call in sick? What if they play hooky from responsibility like Elrond and his high-school-student-in-the-final-months-of-senior-year level of apathy in Lord of the Rings. (I will grant you that he did, at the very last minute, finish his shop class final project. But putting a sword together? Seriously? That’s it, friend? I thought you and Gandalf were pals. Anyway…)
The only way to attack the problem is to have proper systems in place, with redundancies, and the buy-in of the majority of society.
This could be achievable, but the only way a society could tolerate magick is through one of three methods, or some combination of them. (Many fantasy worlds incorporate versions of these to some degree, but MANY of them conspicuously do not)
1) society polices the sorcerers – They find a way to stop magick, to hunt those who use it. They create a system that not only protects the wealthy, but everyone (though probably not remotely equally). It would be the only way to prevent outright revolt, chaos, panicked masses, riots. This would require incredible levels of cooperation and ingenuity for weak ordinary people to be able to pool enough together to overcome someone with godlike power.
2) sorcerers police themselves – Magick users come together and organize to put a system in place whereby they ensure the peace, punish wrongdoers and incentivize good behavior among those of their kind, and in exchange, they are spared uncomfortable pogroms and lynchings. They found groups, guilds, and other organizations to ruthlessly ensure that the rest of the world does not turn against their kind entirely by ensuring they will stand as a buffer between sorcerers and society, and will swing down like a hammer on any who step out of line.
3) society purges the sorcerers – You can’t have a wizard problem if you haven’t got any wizards. In this variant, anyone and everyone who is found with that particular talent—men, women, and children—are put to death the moment they are found. In this case society is especially incentivized to catch them while they are young, weak, untrained, inexperienced. It makes it less dangerous to catch them, is less costly on local budgets and lazy staff, and prevents ten-fold trouble down the road. It is the only real way to be certain. (This one of course leads almost inevitably to a constant level of state-sanctioned baby-murder)
So there we are. These questions and answers all swirled in my mind, until they coalesced into the magick system for the world that my stories will inhabit.
The central themes of every saga I am writing, or plan to write, have become the human failings of people who use magick, how societies react to them, how that reaction is affected by the human failings of people without magick, and how those counterbalance each other, or create negative feedback loops on each other.
Then I began to understand how these societal systems could be abused, overused, corrupted. I saw how the different degrees of this policing could lead to persecution, execution, genocide, and how different types of societies would succeed or fail at achieving an equilibrium. How would good magick users be treated vs. the bad? Who would the good magick users fear more—the bad magick users or the society set against them both? How would people from different groups react to one another? How would hunters treat the sorcerers? How would they treat the good magick users? How would different varieties of magick users treat each other?
These thoughts led to incredible new possibilities for character conflicts and societal conflicts. It was well worth it to delve deeper into these concepts.
I wanted to explore them all. So I created different nations, each with different methods of dealing with the problem, some more effective than others. Different systems, different organizations, different individuals, all move and bounce off one another in this world of mine.
But back to the question at the beginning: what about magick itself?
Where would our terrified hobbits go?
They would have to find some way to know where Gandalf was, some way to counter his magic, and some way to imprison him, or kill him if need be. Could magick tools be forged to use against them? Could mundane weapons be used? Would it be left to poisons or arrows or a knife in the ribs? Does he have an achilles heel? A kryptonite?
What if the sorcerer fled from an ambush, only to return later? Did magick leave a trail of evidence? Could it be followed? Could it be stopped? Perhaps it could. Perhaps not. (reading my books you will see my approach to this concept in great detail)
But I came to understand one truth running through every magick system in every world from every book ever written. There was one through-line connecting them all to each other and to us.
No matter what specific limitations are set by the world built around them, there is, at a fundamental level, one thing that is the same in every fantasy world, regardless of creator or magick system.
I realized the sorcerer’s mind was the key. If you can’t think about magick, you can’t make magic. Everything we do depends upon concentration. Without our mental ability to focus thought to a specific task, that task will never be accomplished. A distracted mind cannot make magick.
So what distracts a wizard? The same things as you and I—worries, anxieties, joys, fears, emotions, memories, sensations—all lines of thought that can be encouraged. Loud noises, bright lights, pleasure, pain—all these are distractions.
This was the truth I opted to embrace.
Thus the core of my magick system is the way it can be stopped, and the way people who use it can be hunted. It became the way magick could be tracked and blocked, and how a sorcerer’s focus could be sharpened or dulled by distraction, so that the superhuman could be made vulnerable, so they could be brought under control. The magick in my world leaves traces behind, things that can be tracked. The magick can be calculated, documented, undone. I made a society where people who used magick were just as afraid of the society around them as the society was afraid of them.
These are the ideas that intrigue me, and drive me to write stories where magick is both creative and destructive, wonderful and devastating, beautiful and terrifying. All depending on who is using it, and which day of their lives it is.
This was the beginning of my world—the one I created for you.
Welcome to Luminaworld
About the Author
Thomas Howard Riley currently resides in a secluded grotto in the wasteland metropolis, where he reads ancient books, plays ancient games, watches ancient movies, jams on ancient guitars, and writes furiously day and night. He sometimes appears on clear nights when the moon is gibbous, and he has often been seen in the presence of cats.
He can be found digitally at THOMASHOWARDRILEY.COM
On Twitter he is @ornithopteryx, where he is sometimes funny, always clever, and never mean.
On Instagram he is ThomasHowardRiley, where you will see books, and cats, and mayhem.
Excerpt from We Break Immortals
Prologue – Seb
IT ONLY TOOK SEB one look through the crack of a half-open parlor door at midnight to know that his friend had gone insane.
This young hero, this beautiful sweet boy he had helped raise from barely half past swaddling, grown to a man full and in truth, who held so much promise, had fallen. They had been filling Paladan’s head with who knew what for who knew how long. Never make promises like that to a boy. Never promise them they will be important. They may grow up to believe it. And now here it was, the fruit of their work. Paladan Algan had surrendered to the sweet seduction of prophecy they had whispered in his ear.
It is high time someone put an end to this charade, Seb thought. He shoved his way past Syman and Laester. The lads tried to bar the door, but Seb’s arms were each as thick as any two of theirs, and he brushed them aside as if the door was a broom.
The air struck Seb like a tidal wave of stale sweat and old forgotten exhales stranded in time.
The candles and half-dead oil lamps lit the room barely at all. To think he has been living in this place.
“Let him in, let him in,” Paladan said carelessly over his shoulder, hovering over the far table.
He shuffled and reshuffled a half dozen unruly, piss-yellow scrolls stranded atop a haphazard hill of opened books. “He should be here with us.”
Seb shook each of his legs and then stood firm. His feet already burned. He had walked a day and a half to come here. He tapped his heel twice on the floor. Two times for the two halves of the twin god. Give me good luck coming and going.
“Be here for what, Paladan?” Seb asked carefully. He could feel water begin to bead on his skin. Moist as the belly of a frog, he thought. He stopped halfway across the room. He looked at the walls. Pyramids of green jars lived beside towers of ancient leather-bound tomes stacked halfway to the ceiling, and all layered with the melt of scores of candles, one upon another, until the wax was thick enough that it would have piqued the interest of an archeologist. The twin windows on the left and right walls were nearly bricked over with towers of stone tablets unearthed in the distant buried temples of Holy Sephalon.
Seb peered at the books Paladan hovered over, trying to see if he could tell what they were. He only recognized the binding of one. Of course it is that one. Those fools should never have given him that. “The ancient story of Caldannon,” he whispered. “The god who fell to earth in the wars of a thousand centuries, and somehow saved it with his meaningless, unknowable power to walk in the light.”
Paladan ignored him. “I am nearly ready.” He stood over it, peering at the words as if they were distant birds he wished to identify. He shuffled more scrolls.
Is he even looking at them? Does he even see them in front of his eyes? “Be here for what, Paladan?”
“I am going to stop him,” Paladan said. “I am going to stop the Sanadi. I am going to kill the invincible man.”
“Sanadi? That is a word out of a book so old our ancestors ten centuries ago could have looked back another ten and still not have seen when it was written.”
“It is what he is.”
“There is no such thing.”
“You should know better than that, Seb. You of all people know what he has done.”
“I never said he wasn’t dangerous. I never said I wanted him walking free.”
“You taught me to be a man of action, Seb.” He turned to face him for the first time.
Seb looked into his eyes, pupils as wide as olives. His sculpted face, which had always made him look the part of the great hero, was now sunken in, pale like sour milk, eyes ringed in violet, and those rings ringed further still in yellow. His black and umber shortcoat and trousers could not hide the fact that his flesh had caved in against his bones, like the juice sucked out of a calpas fruit without peeling the skin.
“You look terrible. Have you been eating enough?” He turned to glare at Syman and Laester.
“You need to be sure he eats, you worthless shitsacks. What do you do around here? What are you worth? Less and less.”
They both looked at the ground in brief shame, but they quickly glanced up at Paladan and regained their smiles, confident they could ignore even the most obvious of Seb’s criticisms.
“We are going to prevail, Seb. I am going to prevail. This is my destiny.” Paladan held up a stack of papers within a thin leather folio. “Do you know what this is? It is a composite, the Glasseyes call it. This includes detailed copies of the patterns he uses in his magick.”
“Where did you get that?”
“One of those Amagon-men stole them for me and brought them here.”
“And Bann Dester and Zigor are outside in the brush. They are Stoppers, Seb. They will prevent his magick from working when he comes here.”
“Two men. Two. Men. You know what he did to all those Glasseyes in Amagon a few years back. And they had more than two. They had more than twenty.”
“I have something they do not.”
“What? Tell me. Tell me so that we can end this farce and I can carry you a hundred miles away from this folly.
“I can see through it, Seb. Like the legends say. You know I can. I am a special talent among a forest of special talents. I am the man of sorrow, Seb. From the prophecy.”
“No, you are not.”
“You scoff, but it still fits. I can see what users do without needing the lens to look through. I can see it with my own eyes. Read the pages. Every line of it matches me.”
“I can look across a field at an army for hours,” Seb said. “Does that make me a general? Just because I can see it? Seeing doesn’t guarantee much of anything. Come with me. Let us get out of this place and find air fresh, unencumbered by these heavy thoughts. You are not Caldannon.
Because no one is Caldannon. There is no Caldannon. There never was. He is just a story.”
“I have the book, Seb.”
“What book? The Caldannon book? Why should I care?”
“No, Seb. Not that one.”
“What other one?” But he knew the answer before he finished asking the question. He felt the blood abandon his face. He nearly dropped to his knees. He looked down at Paladan’s far table and saw the binding. Just beneath the book about Caldannon’s journey. “No. Where? Why do you have that? How? What are you doing with it?”
“I do not need even Stoppers at all anymore, because the book taught me that I can walk in the light. If I am in the light, I can break his magick. I can do anything.”
“If, Palad. If you can walk in the light. You cannot do it. Just stop all of this. Stop it. You have read too much, heard too much. You are confused.” He reached out a hand.
Paladan allowed the hand to sway right past him, hanging in the air, untouched. “This is the Advent, Seb. The Days of Light are no longer on the horizon. They are here, now. I am going to stop him. In the light.”
“I am ending this,” Seb said. “Call everything off. All of you. I am taking you from here before you get yourself killed.”
Paladan’s face tightened. “You do not understand, Seb. I have already called for him to come here.”
Seb felt his digestive organs take a sudden drop. He thought they must have hit the floor and left a crater in it. “You. Called. Him.”
“I sent the message by runner this morning.”
“Because I am not afraid. I am true. I am the one. I have been chosen for this. Me, Seb. Me. I was born to go into the light.”
“You do not know how to get into the light. You do not even know if you can get into it. None of us has ever seen it. We have only heard the stories.”
Paladan smiled. “I am true. I am the one. I know I can do all of this. That book right over there, the Codex Lumina, has mantras to open up the real world to the world of light, where all magick comes from. It teaches many tricks of the light. I have seen it. It is real. It is outside of space, Seb.
Outside of time. The light is so very bright, but it does not blind.”
Seb pounded his fist so hard on a stack of books his bones were ringing. “I cannot believe you just told him where we can be found.” This is madness. I must get you out of here before it is too late.
But then he heard footsteps outside, on the cobbled path. They approached halfway to the front door and then ceased.
“Could it be someone else?” Syman asked.
“Bann and Zigor must have his streams by now,” Paladan said.
“And if they do not?” Seb asked.
“You think he would have let them live if he could?”
As if in answer, Seb heard a heavy boom, deep. It rattled the glass jar pyramids.
Seb froze. Everyone froze. Then something began slamming into the walls and the door. Every other second it boomed against the wall.
Paladan leapt into motion. He began reciting text from one lone page in the Codex. He read it over and over, as the walls shook. He had a smile on his face.
Then Seb heard a deeper, denser thud, like the sound of a heavy object slamming against the door.
Paladan jumped back to attention. He flipped the book open to another predetermined page and
began reading frantically.
All the while the heavy weight slammed into the door again and again and again.
“Paladan,” Seb said. “What have you done?”
“I can fix this,” Paladan said. “I can fix it. I can fix it.”
Boom. Boom. Boom.
Seb glanced at Syman and Laester. Their faces drained of color to a shade well past ghost. Their
hands jittered. Laester wet himself. Neither of them had bothered to draw their swords.
Boom. Boom. Boom.
Paladan read from the book. His voice changed. He no longer had the wide vowels of confidence.
He began to furiously glance back and forth among the pages.
“Paladan!” Seb called out.
“I know. I know.”
Boom. Boom. Boom.
The door burst inward, snapping free of its hinges.
The bloody broken body of Zigor collapsed atop its splinters, his face and limbs unrecognizable
beneath mountains of swollen tissue.
Syman gasped. Dropped his sword. Picked it up again.
Zigor’s lifeless body had been the battering ram.
“By the gods,” Laester somehow said on his exhale.
“Paladan!” Seb shouted.
“I can do it!” Paladan said. “I swear I can do it!”
The man who Paladan was so sure had to be a Sanadi stepped through the doorway. He surveyed
the room and smiled. His eyes were black. If he had any color to them, Seb could not see it. He was dressed in a black cape to match, covering robes of blue and violet, as if the poison flowers of a nightmurder weed had come to life.
Seb looked through the gaping maw of the doorway. He saw Bann’s body twisted and broken on the cobblestones outside, soiled and torn beneath the midnight lanterns. “He is not bound!” He can touch as much of his magick as he wishes. Seb drew his sword. “Hold, boys!” he cried out.
Syman and Laester raised their swords.
Laester charged first.
An invisible projectile punctured his ribs and blasted out the other side. His arms went limp, sword dropped. His legs tried to keep charging for a step or two after he died, but the ankles went wobbly, the knees buckled, and finally he pitched face forward onto the floor.
“Paladan!” Seb cried.
“Almost there!” Paladan spat through gritted teeth, his face clenched with focus and determination.
But nothing happened.
Syman at least managed to swing his sword.
But he missed.
By a wide margin.
The man with black eyes created another projectile, invisible, unstoppable, lightning-fast.
It struck Syman in the skull, punching a hole the diameter of a fat olive in his head. He spun around in a circle, his body yet unsure if it was dead or not. But then it dropped in turn.
“Paladan!” Seb screamed. His throat shredded itself on the name and he tasted blood.
Paladan flipped to the last of his pages. He desperately read the passage in a chanting half-whisper, trying to open his mind with it.
He read it. He finished it. Nothing happened.
Seb looked over to Paladan with tears in his eyes. He thought of his wife, who had told him not to bother coming over here, and to just let Paladan be, and come home to the children. The last thing he told her was that he had to. And she understood. Seb thought about that and he wept.
“Paladan,” he whispered.
The man with black eyes created another projectile. It was no different than the first. Or the second. He had not even required a variety of his magick to end them all. He did all this without really even trying.
It was hopeless.
Seb raised his sword to swing anyway.
The projectile moved so fast he could not have seen it even if it was visible. It plinked against the blade of his sword, snapping it in half, before boring a hole through his lungs and ripping out the other side, shattering a pyramid of glass bottles behind him.
He fell to the floor facing Paladan. He saw the pain on his face, bending his expression so bitterly into one of sadness.
“No,” he heard Paladan say. “It can’t be for nothing. It can’t. I won’t let it. I won’t.”
Seb tried to breathe but there was no organ left to him that could collect the air. His face felt heavy, so heavy. The room became so dark.
“This can’t be for nothing!” Paladan screamed.
Shhhh, Seb thought. Do not yell, Palad. You are a good boy. You always were. A smile suits you better than a frown.
Paladan looked into Seb’s eyes. “Seb. I’m so sorry, Seb. I thought I was, Seb. I did. I was supposed to be the one. I was supposed to end it.”
Shhhh, Seb thought. No need to worry. Smile, lad. You are a good boy. You always were.
Paladan shook. His mouth opened to scream but he made no sound. He was trapped within an invisible bubble. But something was happening to him within it. His nose began to bleed, and then his ears, and then his eyes. His skin flattened against his bones. Foam bubbled out his lips. He was being crushed by something Seb could not even see.
Paladan lay down beside Seb. His eyes were frozen open in wonder and terror. Blood leaked from the corner of his mouth, pooling on the floor.
You were a good boy. You always were.
Chapter 1 – Capture
One of them was going to die.
Aren could feel it.
This was a capture.
Down one of these dark corridors, behind a silent door at midnight, waited a madman who could kill with a thought. Any moment now the signal would be given, and in they would go, all together, to get him.
One of us is going to die.
He saw it so clearly, as if this day had already happened, and he was only living the memory of it. He was surrounded by dead men. They moved, they looked around, they drew breath. They did all the things that a man would do, but he could not deny it.
And no matter how hard he tried to stop it, there was a part of him that kept guessing which one it would be. Twig, with his wide eyes, always talking about his mother. Bear, with those strong arms that could wrestle a lion. Bones, with wrinkles around his eyes, but hands steadier with a spear than any he had ever seen. Young man or old, tall or short, strong or weak. It could be anyone.
They were all former soldiers, hardy, tough as steel. Two or three had seen real fighting in the Warhost, survived skirmishes with Kolkothan raiders. That was good. Fighting men do not scare easy. But armor and swords would be of little use here.
Glasseye, he heard them whisper when they thought he could not hear. It means I have seen
the horrors that the magick can wreck upon wood and stone, flesh and blood. They know I have seen it, and they are afraid. I remind them of the terrors that hide in dark rooms, things they would rather pretend don’t exist. His presence meant only one thing—a rogue user did something unspeakable with the magick. That was all he was to them. A Glasseye.
He had learned none of their names either, of course. Never learn the names, Sarker had told
him. Then it is too difficult to forget them. He knew them only by whatever their most visible attribute happened to be. There was Nose, and Chin, and the Twins, and Bear and Twig and Swan and Roundtop and Neck.
Even the youngest of them is older than I am. But I am all they have. I am the Glasseye. No one else can do this.
None of the men were ever the same from one capture to the next. Who would have ever agreed to a second try? Every time a different location with a new group of faces, a new set of dangers, and a new toss of the dice to see if they would all survive. Aren once heard it said that at least one man died for every seven captures. He didn’t doubt it, but he and Sarker had not lost a man for the past twelve.
That means we are overdue.
“Stay focused,” he warned them, as he had heard Sarker always say. “You all know the jobs you have to do. Do exactly as I told you and this will all be over in moments.” He spoke Sarker’s words in Sarker’s tone of voice, trying to make himself as convincing as his mentor had been. He had to be. Sarker wouldn’t be here to complete this trace with him. He was gone.
These men answer to my commands now. I am all they have to get them through this.
And I will. I will bring this trace to capture. Tonight.
He ran a hand over his forehead, wiping away beading sweat. He had soaked halfway thorough his tunic already. He scratched at the stubble on his cheeks and chin, unshaven now for days. He looked down at his feet and realized he had worn a hole in the toe of one of his boots. When did that happen? He carried nothing but his leather tracer satchel and an unused sword. No plate, no mail. Armor of any kind would be useless in this capture.
He did his best to keep his back straight. His stomach burned, but he would not eat. His mouth screamed for water, but he dared not drink. He tried to wear a mask of calm. He smiled as much as he could without his teeth rattling. He had to keep the others from panic if he could. Control your breathing. Stand firm. Speak with measured rhythm and tone, as if we are simply masons here to build a wall. That’s all it is. Just a wall.
Already the men were getting jumpy as the reality of what they were about to do was starting to set in.
“That man in there is a monster,” Bones said. “The worst of the worst.”
“Rapist, I heard,” Bear said.
“Murderer,” Roundtop said. “Madman.”
“He deserves to go to the fires for what he did,” Aren told them. “Deserves it a hundred times over. And we are the ones who are going to put him there.”
A drug addict who hunts sorcerers down by tracking their magick, the most renowned swordsman no one has ever heard of, and a thieving magick-wielding woman hellbent on revenge collide during a last ditch effort to stop an insane superhuman serial killer from making himself a god.
The Render Tracers always say magick users deserve to burn. Aren couldn’t agree more, Keluwen would beg to differ, and Corrin couldn’t care less either way.
In a world where most people use swords for protection, Aren uses tools that let him see what no one else can see, and he takes advantage of loopholes that can undo magick in order to stop the deadliest people in the world. He is a Render Tracer, relentlessly pursuing rogue sorcerers who bend the laws of physics to steal, assault, and kill. But his next hunt will lead him to question his entire life, plunging him into a world where he can’t trust anyone, not even his own eyes.
When Keluwen finally escaped her fourthparents’ home and set out on her own to become a thief, she never thought she would one day be killing her own kind. She honed her magick on the streets, haunted by her past, hunted by Render Tracers, and feared by a society that hates what she is. Now she joins a crew of outcast magicians on a path of vengeance as they race to stop an insane sorcerer who has unlocked the source of all magick and is trying to use it to make himself a god.
Corrin is a sword fighter first, a drinker second, and a…well, there must be something else he is good at. He’ll think of it if you give him enough time. He is a rogue for hire, and he has no special powers of any kind. The most magick he has ever done is piss into the wind without getting any on himself. He is terrible at staying out of trouble, and someone always seems to be chasing him. When he gets caught up in a multi-kingdom manhunt, he finds himself having to care about other people for a change, and he’s not happy about it.
They are about to collide on the trail of a man who is impossible to catch, who is on the verge of plunging the world into ruin, and who can turn loyal people into traitors in a single conversation. They must struggle against their own obsessions, their fears, ancient prophecies, and each other. They will each have to balance the people they love against their missions, and struggle to avoid becoming the very thing they are trying to stop.
We Break Immortals by Thomas Howard Riley
Series: The Advent Lumina Cycle #1
Genre: Dark Epic Fantasy (Rated-R fantasy)
Intended Age Group: 18+
Published: December 7th, 2021
Content/Trigger Warnings Shown on Page:
Fantasy drug use
One instance of non-skin-contact magick sexual assault
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