Fans of BookTok—chuckle if you will, but we’re fans of anything that encourages people to read, especially genre fiction—may already know the name of fantasy author Melissa Blair. But io9's got the exclusive news that her debut novel, the previously self-published A Broken Blade, will be published by Union Square & Co. in August. We’ve also got an excerpt to share!
Union Square & Co. will also be putting out the rest of the author’s Halfling Saga, and the publisher shares the fantasy-novel-material tale of Blair’s rise on social media: “Melissa Blair first self-published her book anonymously, sending the book to 25 BookTok influencers who swiftly fell in love with the lush, romantic fantasy about a stirring rebellion in a colonial world. The mystery of the book’s authorship quickly went viral as BookTok was enthralled with the scavenger hunt that Melissa laid for readers to find her ... Melissa is Anishinaabe-kwe, an incredibly savvy BookTok influencer herself, and a captivating new voice in fantasy writing.”
Here’s a summary of A Broken Blade for some context, followed by the previously released cover by Kim Dingwall and the excerpt.
My body is made of scars, some were done to me, but most I did to myself.
Keera is a killer. As the King’s Blade, she is the most talented spy in the kingdom. And the King’s favored assassin. When a mysterious figure moves against the Crown, Keera is called upon to hunt down the so-called Shadow.
She tracks her target into the magical lands of the Fae, but Faeland is not what it seems…and neither is the Shadow. Keera is shocked by what she learns, and can’t help but wonder who her enemy truly is: the King that destroyed her people or the Shadow that threatens the peace?
As she searches for answers, Keera is haunted by a promise she made long ago, one that will test her in every way. To keep her word, Keera must not only save herself, but an entire kingdom.
I had seventeen blades concealed along my person, each one more than capable of killing the man in front of me. The slivers of steel tucked into my leathers would land a deadly strike before he even saw my arm move. The twin blades I had crossed against my back would be slower, but he was Mortal. Human. He couldn’t outrun me.
Any of my weapons would do, though I knew his life would end at the edge of the bloodred dagger holstered at my thigh. I only had to wrap my fingers around the bone hilt and levy the blow.
But I couldn’t kill him until I had what I needed.
“Please,” he whispered through swollen lips. A pleading look met my gaze, framed by the black eye I had given him the hour before. “I’ve told you everything I know!”
“You’ve been more obliging than most of the people I interrogate,” I said truthfully. Many of my targets waited until I spilled half their blood before they would spill their secrets. This man had caved after the third strike. He barely squirmed when I restrained him to the chair.
“I would do anything for the king! Anything! Just let me go. Please.” His last word came out as a pathetic whimper. I should have known this one was a crier.
“The king only requires one more thing of you before he extends his mercy,” I replied. My right hand rested on the white hilt of my dagger.
“Anything.” His voice cracked. Hot lines of tears poured down his cheeks as he rocked back and forth.
“A name.” I took a step toward him. He flinched. His wide brown eyes darted from my face to my hand and back again.
“I already told you. He called himself the Shadow. He hid behind the hood of his cloak. That’s all I know!” He leaned forward, fighting the ropes tied around his torso. Thick veins strained against his neck, pulsing almost as quickly as his breath. He knew what happened when the Blade was finished asking her questions.
“Not that name,” I whispered. I didn’t need any more information for the king. This name was just for me.
“What name? I’ll give you any name you want,” he said. Sweat pooled along the sparse hairs of his lip.
I needed to end this. I was being cruel.
“Your name,” I answered.
He still stared at me, but his eyes lost focus as he slumped against the back of the chair. He swallowed. “Why?”
I hated these moments most. When a person’s resolve melted away and they accepted their fate. Accepted that I would kill them. Surprise deaths were so much easier.
I lifted a gentle hand to his chin and pulled his gaze back to mine. My brown braid fell forward and tickled his cheek.
“How about a name for a name? You give me yours and I’ll give you mine.” It was all I could offer him. A sense of control in his final moment.
His brows raised as he blinked back at me. He gave me a single, slow nod.
“Mathias,” he whispered. “My name is Mathias.” His eyes traced my face waiting for mine.
A flicker of curiosity replaced his dread.
“Mathias . . .” I said, unsheathing my dagger in one quick motion.
“My name is Keera.” His throat was cut before the last word was said.
Excerpt from A Broken Blade by Melissa Blair reprinted with permission from Union Square & Co.
Melissa Blair’s A Broken Blade is out August 2; you can pre-order a copy here.
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