Friday, November 25, 2022

Five SFF books about spies and espionage

Elijah Kinch Spector is a writer, dandy, and rootless cosmopolitan from the Bay Area who now lives in Brooklyn.

His debut novel is Kalyna the Soothsayer.

Ava Reid, internationally bestselling author of The Wolf and the Woodsman, called Kalyna “a gorgeous, layered debut, both intricate and propulsive, with a singularly brilliant heroine at its center. Kalyna is a twisty, entrancing, and totally unique entry into epic fantasy.”

At Spector tagged "five books featuring lies and espionage on a national (or intergalactic) scale." One title on the list:
Dragon by Steven Brust

This, on the other hand, was an easy choice. Over the years, Brust’s antihero Vlad Taltos has been involved in a lot of espionage and trickery, but in the eighth book we get that epic fantasy classic: a war.

The beauty of Dragon is how petty, small, muddy, and unimportant that war is. Vlad, the supremely competent assassin and sometimes mafia boss, has to pretend to be a normal foot soldier in order to get close to an enemy. He’s utterly out of his element: uncomfortable, bored, and terrified. As the story wraps up, it expertly combines the satisfaction of a plot well-executed with dark satire and just a touch of sadness at such a useless loss of life.

All this is told in Brust’s spare and almost Hammett-like first person prose, which describes epic fantasy figures and eldritch magic weapons as though they’re everyday nuisances.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue