cover image Quillifer


Walter Jon Williams. Saga, $27.99 (544p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8997-3

In this sprawling, lively episodic adventure, Williams (Angel Station) returns to his swashbuckling historical fantasy roots while exploring new territory. Eighteen-year-old Quillifer, a butcher’s son and legal apprentice, lives a life of ease and pleasure in the city of Ethlebight, in the fictional realm of Duisland. When Ethlebight is sacked by a foreign fleet and his family is killed, Quillifer embarks on a journey that encompasses bandits, illicit affairs, royal intrigue, and civil war. The primary magical element is a (sometimes frustratingly) capricious nymph who frees Quillifer from captivity. Quillifer’s wit and cleverness get him into almost as much trouble as they get him out of, but well-placed friends and plenty of good luck serve him well. The setting often feels more like a thinly disguised version of medieval Europe than a truly original world, but Williams excels at setting up conflicts and other entanglements, skillfully maneuvering Quillifer across the landscape and into increasingly engrossing situations. (Oct.)