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Perfect Shadow Cover Art Revealed!

I’m pleased to be able to announce that Raymond Swanland has turned in the final art for the cover and interior illustrations for the Subterranean Press limited editions of Perfect Shadow. Mr. Swanland has a storied career as an artist with the Oddworld video game series, a fantasy artist, comic book illustrator, and has even created work for the Magic: The Gathering card game. You can see more of his work here.

If you haven’t yet bought the limited edition, go here to order your copy now. (Please note that the lettered edition is sold out, but the limited edition is still available as of this posting.)

And a hat tip to Michael at Mad Hatter’s Bookshelf & Book Review for breaking the story!


Durzo Blint Novella Coming Soon!

It is with great pleasure I announce my new novella, Perfect Shadow, featuring Durzo Blint. Here’s the blurb:

The Foul, Unnatural Murder of Gaelan Starfire & the Birth of Durzo Blint


“I got a bit of prophecy,” the old assassin said. “Not enough to be useful, you know. Just glimpses. My wife dead, things like that to keep me up late at night. I had this vision that I was going to be killed by forty men, all at once. But now that you’re here, I see they’re just you. Durzo Blint.”

Durzo Blint? Gaelan had never even heard the name.

Gaelan Starfire is a farmer now, happy to be a husband and a father; a careful, quiet, simple man. He’s also an immortal, peerless in the arts of war. Over the centuries, he’s worn many faces to hide his gift, but he is a man ill-fit for obscurity, and all too often he’s become a hero, his very names passing into legend: Acaelus Thorne, Yric the Black, Hrothan Steelbender, Tal Drakkan, Rebus Nimble.

But when Gaelan must take a job hunting down the world’s finest assassins for the beautiful courtesan-and-crimelord Gwinvere Kirena, what he finds may destroy everything he’s ever believed in.

I’ve had a lot of fans ask for more about Durzo Blint, and much as I love Durzo and as intimately as I know his story, I’ve always resisted. The story’s dark and gritty–and I’m in the middle of a completely different trilogy right now! My brain is full!

But finally I could hold out no longer. Perfect Shadow is the story of how an idealistic hero became Durzo Blint. I had intended to dash off a short story quickly and move on, but I became deeply enrapt with the story, revisiting Durzo and Momma K and the ka’kari and even more minor characters like Scarred Wrable. Not surprisingly, my quick “short story” swelled to a long short story, then a novelette, and finally it bumped right against that novella demarcation–with enough plot and subplot that I seriously considered making the whole thing a novel.

Instead, I’ve kept it a novella, because I want every word to tell. I want to reward re-reading, and I think this story does that. Perfect Shadow does, I think, all I hoped for it to do: 1) gives fans another dose of a great character, 2) allowed me to experiment and stretch myself as a storyteller, 3) gives a ton of Easter eggs for the attentive fans who’ve read and re-read the Night Angel books, and 4) advances the main stories that I didn’t wrap up at the end of the Night Angel trilogy and to which I shall return after the Lightbringer Trilogy. If you can’t tell, I’m really proud of how it turned out.

I’m also excited about how we’re releasing this book. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be able to give more details, but here’s what I can tell you now: Orbit will be releasing Perfect Shadow for all major ebook platforms in June for a mere $2.99.

And for all collectors, I’m very pleased to announce that Perfect Shadow will also be coming in a limited print run special edition from Subterranean Press, signed and numbered by me. Subterranean Press is taking pre-orders now!

*UPDATE: a note of explanation*

I see that there’s been some confusion, some excitement, and even a bit of outrage, strangely enough, about the above. Publishing in ebook only is unusual, so I wanted to explain how I decided to do that. Some people seem to think I’m holding the story hostage or something, and my intent is exactly the opposite.

I knew the story I wanted to tell in Perfect Shadow, and I wrote it exactly as long as it needed to be to tell the story as well as I could, and that is 17,000 words–which is too long to publish in the magazines that do SFF short stories (usually, they top out at 7,500), and it’s too short to be published as a novel. If I had wanted to cash in and exploit you, I would have filled the story with fluff and published it as a novel. But I believe I should always publish only the best I am capable of, so my choices were to cut half the story and publish it as a short story or to wait a number of years, write some more novellas, and publish it in a collection.

I chose a third option: to publish the story electronically. I know from looking at the numbers that a large number of my fans do have e-readers, so this was by far the best way to get out my story to the largest number of fans inexpensively, without making artistic sacrifices that I wasn’t willing to make, or ripping you off.

If I can, I will make the story available other ways in the future, too. And I will announce those when and if they happen. I love the story, and I want to share it with you. So please don’t impute bad motives where none exist–we’re all doing our best in a rapidly changing market!

* UPDATE 2: ‘limited’ vs ‘lettered’ & what are the limits of ‘limited’, anyway?

I’ve had questions about what ‘limited’ means and what ‘lettered’ means. The limited edition novella will be leather-bound, signed by me, and numbered 1 to 1,500. It may have interior illustrations as well. No artist for those or cover artist has been signed yet. The lettered edition is A-Z, and is very expensive, for the super-enthusiasts out there. This will be bound in different leather, have different and more elaborate foil stamping, have a leather traycase, may have more interior illustrations, and will of course be signed. Subterranean has always had the rights to make the lettered edition, but they overlooked that when they put up their initial post announcing the acquisition. I’m sure they would have corrected it once they put up the full post with cover art, and pictures, and more details.

The next thing is something you have every right to be ticked off about. Subterranean is well on its way to selling out of the limited edition–before they even have cover art or anything. In other similar cases they’ve encountered, they find their books on eBay on the day after publication sometimes for four times the list price. So they asked me if they could increase the print run from 1,000 to 1,500. I said yes. If you’re buying this book purely to profit, I’ve just diluted your stock price–and I understand if you’re mad at me for that. If you want a refund, you can email and get it. But against the interests of investors who want to sell the book on eBay, I was thinking of fans who just want to get the book. If they sell out ridiculously early, some fans aren’t going to be able to buy it at all. I mean, heck, the limited edition already IS expensive without someone’s eBay markup. I also understand that a person can be a fan and also an investor… so again, if you’re mad, I’m sorry, and please feel free to ask for a refund. I do my best to write great stories, but I don’t always get things exactly right, and I do my best to balance the interests of my fans and those I do business with, and if I don’t always get things exactly right here either, that doesn’t surprise me too much. An apology and a refund is the best I can do for you.