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Papergreat guest blog post

Chris Otto of has reunited me with the lost book of my childhood. All he asked in return was that I write about it. So here’s a link to the blog post.

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Podcast Interview with Appendix N

The Appendix N Book Club has posted the podcast they recorded with me in mid-June, 2022:

Caroline Stevermer joins us to discuss E.R. Eddison’s “The Worm Ouroboros”, depictions of Elizabethan masculinity, characters that don’t have parents, archaic language, excerpts from Western European literature, understanding characters through their deeds, a woman’s virtue measured by her maidenhood, the passage of time in Tolkien’s work, the taming the savages trope, the changing landscape of contemporary academia, San Francisco in 1906, and much more!

Appendix N ringleaders Ngo Vinh Hoi and Jeff Goad asked me thoughtful questions and charmed me into answering candidly and at length. I remember talking a lot and having a great time.

Here’s something about what “The Worm Ouroboros” is and how this came to pass.

My dear friend Ellen Kushner was featured guest for Appendix N’s episode 107 – “Ellen Kushner’s ‘Swordspoint’ with special guest Angela Lemus-Mogrovejo.” She had such a good experience that she introduced me to Hoi and Jeff, who were interested in a discussion of “The Worm Ouroboros.” What’s that, you ask?

I’ll let Ellen Kushner explain with an excerpt from her Substack “Bad Advice” for December 4, 2021 and then one from December 11, 2021. I’ll include links to the full entries, because you really don’t want to miss the full Ellen Experience.

From December 4, 2021:

As soon as I get this written, I’m going back to doing what I’m actually meant to be doing this weekend, which is writing the introduction to the new French translation of one of the greatest and weirdest fantasy novels of all time: The Worm Ouroboros, by E. R. Eddison, published in England in 1922. If you’ve read it, it was most likely when the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series initiated the U.S. paperback printing in 1970. That series was created in a hurry: The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien’s history-changing trilogy, was a bestseller 1960s – the Harry Potter of its day, in that people of all ages, including the vast tribe of those who “never read this sort of thing but I loved this” took it up – and were naturally asking, “What else can I read that’s like this?”

The answer, at the time, was Not much.

So Ballantine started putting out whatever adult fantasy already existed, giving it a cover like the Tolkiens, no matter what was inside it.

My essay is going to cover how I found the book impossible to read, until my college friend Caroline Stevermer showed me how. Before you mock me, here is a brief excerpt:

“Write thou,” said Corund to Gro. “To write my name is all my scholarship.” And Gro took forth his ink-born and wrote in a great fair hand this offer on a parchment. “The most fearfullest oaths thou knowest,” said Corund; and Gro wrote them, whispering, “He mocketh us only.” But Corund said, “No matter: ’tis a chance worth our chancing,” and slowly and with labour signed his name to the writing, and gave it to Lord Brandoch Daha.

The fool man who has chosen to translate this into French is a brave man. I can’t wait to see how he handles what is basically straight-up Elizabethan prose! Will he use the diction of French Renaissance poet Ronsard? Or seek the abundant formalities of the classical playwright Corneille, as being more suited to the work?

Actually, I can ask him, because he is M. Patrick Marcel, who did the superb French translation of Swordspoint – and is even now waiting for me to finish the Ouroboros intro for Editions Calidor.

And here’s an excerpt from the introduction to the French edition she wrote for Editions Calidor, which appeared in her December 11, 2021 entry:

It took my friend Caroline Stevermer to show me the way in to E.R.Eddison’s world. We had met our first day at University, quickly discovered our love of the same books (which always makes a friendship!), and gradually admitted to each other that we both wanted to be writers of fantasy.1

Caroline is much better-read than I. And happens to be one of the world’s great readers-aloud. She picked up my copy of The Worm, leafed through it a little, and then began to read to me, her voice pitched low with amusement:

Then fared Juss to the guest-chamber, where Lord Brandoch Daha lay a-sleeping, and waked him and told him all. Brandoch Daha snuggled him under the bedclothes and said, “Let me be and let me sleep yet two hours. Then will I rise and bathe and array myself and eat my morning meal, and thereafter will I take rede with thee and tell thee somewhat for thine advantage. I have not slept in a goose-feather bed and sheets of lawn these many weeks. If thou plague me now, by God, I will incontinently take horse over the Stile to Krothering, and let thee and thine affairs go to the devil.”

And there it was at last! A hero I could recognize: the sharp-tongued, witty one who also just happened to be the best swordsman in the world…. In his company, I was willing to venture along with his companions. Each of whom had their own style of speech, expressing character as clearly as the elegant swordsman’s, though not necessarily as amusing. No less a critic than C.S. Lewis wrote, “The secret here is largely the style, and especially the style of the dialogue. These proud, reckless, amorous people create themselves and the whole atmosphere of their world chiefly by talking.”

Mind you, this delightful speech of Brandoch Daha’s does not come until Chapter Eight, on page 131 to be exact. But observing my interest, my friend flipped through the book, stopping at other of her favorite bits: humor, yes, and clever dialogue; but also heart-breakingly beautiful moments, and death-defying adventure. And so I was privileged to encounter the gallant Lady Mevrian, the lustful Corinius, the steadfast Lord Juss, and the tormented, clever Lord Gro.

Like Shakespeare’s Juliet reaching out to Friar Lawrence for the potion that will send her into a death-like trance, I reached out my hands to her for the book: Give me! Give me! Tell me not of fear!

1 A wish that came true! Caroline is the author of novels including A College of Magics and A Scholar of Magics, both of which have been translated into French. And guess who translated them? Patrick Marcel, the translator of Swordspoint and of The Worm Ouroboros! Talk about a worm biting its tail. I’m also very proud to spill the beans about the fact that three of my favorite of her books are coming out in March 2022 from OpenRoadMedia – including The Serpent’s Egg, in which I feature as not one but two characters.

Here are the links to Ellen’s full Substack entries: and

P.S. I am not better read than Ellen (if only I were!) and I am thrilled to learn her opinion of my ability to read aloud.

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RIVER RATS is an ebook!


Open Road Media now has on sale ebook versions of three of my early novels, so RIVER RATS is now an ebook!

Tomcat and his friends have a paddlewheel steamboat and travel up and down the Mississippi River carrying mail and performing impromptu shows at the river towns on their route. (Of course, I had to destroy civilization to arrange it for them.)  They have a strict rule against carrying passengers, which is broken a chapter and a half into the book. The rest of their adventures illustrate why that was a good rule.

Published as a YA novel (Harcourt, 1992), these days it might even be considered a middle-grade book. I grew up near Winona, Minnesota, on the upper Mississippi River. Back then, there was a decommissioned steamboat, the Julius C. Wilkie, turned museum there. I drew on my visits to that museum when imagining the River Rat.


In addition to RIVER RATS, they also have WHEN THE KING COMES HOME


(What if a young woman apprenticed to a fantasy Renaissance painter in a fantasy kingdom had adventures that involved rescuing the local equivalent of King Arthur from that most dangerous of villains, a rogue librarian? Although this fantasy novel [Tor Books, 2000] was written for adults, the content is YA. )


and earliest of all, THE SERPENT’S EGG


Skulduggery at the royal court in a fantasy kingdom. Who will defend the aging queen? Gallant ladies, honest knights, wily minstrels, and bossy sisters — but does the queen need defending? Originally published in 1988, this is a very early work.

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The Glass Magician

Big news! New book!


The Glass Magician CoverNew York 1905—The Vanderbilts. The Astors. The Morgans. They are the cream of society—and they own the nation on the cusp of a new century.

Thalia Cutler doesn’t have any of those family connections. What she does know is stage magic and she dazzles audiences with an act that takes your breath away.

That is, until one night when a trick goes horribly awry. In surviving she discovers that she can shapeshift, and has the potential to take her place among the rich and powerful.

But first, she’ll have to learn to control that power… before the real monsters descend to feast.

The Glass Magician is available April 7th, 2020 from Tor Books.

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Magic Below Stairs

Magic Below Stairs, e-book edition is now available. ASIN: B004RL0ALC.
Firebird paperback ISBN: 978-0-14-241871-0
Hardcover Dial Books, Summer 2010. ISBN 978-0-8037-3467-8


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“Uncle Bob Visits”

“Uncle Bob Visits,” in The Coyote Road, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, editors. Viking Books, hardcover, 2007. ISBN 978-0-670-06194-5. Trade paperback, Spring 2009. ISBN 978-0-14-241300-5


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The Mislaid Magician

The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After: Being the Private Correspondence Between Two Prominent Families Regarding a Scandal Touching the Highest Levels of Government and the Security of the Realm (The Cecelia and Kate Novels Book 3), (Collaboration with Patricia C. Wrede) Harcourt books, Autumn, 2006. Hardcover ISBN 0-15-205548-7. Paperback, Graphia Books, April 2009. Paperback ISBN-13:978-0-15-206209-5

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The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour: or The Purloined Coronation Regalia (The Cecelia and Kate Novels Book 2), (Collaboration with Patricia C. Wrede) Harcourt Books, September, 2004. ISBN 0-15-204616-X. Paperback, Magic Carpet Books, April 2006. ISBN 0-15-205556-8


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A Scholar of Magics

A Scholar of Magics, Tor Books, hardcover, 2004. ISBN 0-765-30308-6.
Starscape Books, 2006, trade paperback. ISBN 0-765-35346-6

French mass market paperback edition from Le Livre de Poche. ISBN 978-2-253-02337-1

Russian edition, from Eksmo Publishers, hardcover, 2007, Moscow. ISBN 9 785699 199587



Scholarly Magics (an omnibus edition of A College of Magics and A Scholar of Magics) was the Science Fiction Book Club’s featured alternate selection for Spring 2004. Hardcover. ISBN 0-7394-4317-8

Deux colleges de magie (omnibus edition of A College of Magics and A Scholar of Magics) from La Biblioteque Voltaique. Trade paperback. ISBN 2-978-915793-49-9

Scholarly Magics cover


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Sorcery and Cecelia

Sorcery and Cecelia: Or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot (The Cecelia and Kate Novels Book 1), (Collaboration with Patricia C. Wrede) Harcourt Books, 2003. ISBN 0-15-204615-1. (This hardcover edition has only slight revisions to the text of the novel originally published in paperback, 1988).

Magic Carpet Books, 2004, mass-market paperback. ISBN 0-15-205300-X

Latvian edition, Apburta Sokolades Kruze, from Zvaigzne ABC Publishers Ltd, Riga, 2010. Trade paperback. ISBN 978-9934-0-0900-6

Chinese edition from Muses Publishing House, Sindian City, Taiwan.

First Publication: Sorcery and Cecelia, (Collaboration with Patricia C. Wrede) Ace books, 1988, mass-market paperback. ISBN 0-441-77559-4

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When the King Comes Home

When the King Comes Home, Tor Books, hardcover, November, 2000. ISBN 0-312-87214-3. Mass-market paperback, 2000. ISBN 0-812-58981-5


When the King Comes Home cover
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“Watching the Bobolinks”

“Watching the bobolinks,” in The Armless Maiden: And Other Tales for Childhood’s Survivors, Terri Windling, editor. Tor Books, 1995. ISBN 0-312-85234-7


The Armless Maiden Cover
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“Rag,” in The Essential Bordertown, Terri Windling and Delia Sherman, editors. Tor Books, hardcover, 1998. ISBN 0-312-86593-7. Trade paperback ISBN 0-312-86703-4


The Essential Bordertown cover

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A College of Magics

A College of Magics, Tor Books, hardcover, Spring, 1994. ISBN 0-312-85689-X. mass-market paperback, 1995. ISBN 0-812-53005-5. Starscape Books, 2002, trade paperback. ISBN 0-765-34245-6

French trade paperback edition, L’equilibre des ancres, from Les moutons electriques, Lyon. ISBN 2-915793-21-22

French mass-market paperback edition, Le College de Magie, from Le Livre de Poche. ISBN 978-2-253-11691-2

Russian edition from Eksmo Publishers, hardcover, 2007, Moscow ISBN 5-699-16945-8.

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“The Springfield Swans”

“The Springfield Swans,” (Collaboration with Ryan Edmonds), in Snow White, Blood Red, Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow, editors. William Morrow, 1993, hardcover. ISBN 0-688-10913-6. Avon books, mass-market paperback. ISBN 0-380-71875-8. Creed mass-market paperback. ISBN 0-45-118443-2


Snow White, Blood Red cover

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“Waiting for Harry”

“Waiting for Harry,” in All Hallows’ Eve, Mary Elizabeth Allen, editor. Walker, 1992, hardcover. ISBN 0-8027-1252-5

All Hallows Eve cover
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River Rats

River Rats, Harcourt Brace, Spring, 1992, hardcover. ISBN 0-15-200895-0.
Magic Carpet Books, mass-market paperback, 1996. ISBN 0-15-201411-X.
Magic Carpet Books mass-market paperback. ISBN 0-15-205554-1

River Rats cover

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The Serpent’s Egg

The Serpent’s Egg by Caroline Stevermer, Ace Books, 1988, mass-market paperback. ISBN 0-441-75912-2

Serpent's Egg cover

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“Cenedwine Brocade”

“Cenedwine Brocade” in the shared-world anthology Liavek (Liavek #3) : Wizards’ Row, Will Shetterly and Emma Bull, editors, Ace Books, 1987, mass-market paperback. ISBN-13: 978-0441481903

Liavek cover

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