Next Author: M.L. Brennan
Previous Author: Joseph Payne Brennan

Marie Brennan

fantasy author Marie BrennanMarie Brennan is a former academic with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and folklore, which she now puts to rather cockeyed use in writing fantasy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she spends her time practicing piano, studying karate, and playing a variety of role-playing games. She’s been writing fantasy since she was nine or ten years old, and blames this fact on Diana Wynne Jones. Learn more about Marie Brennan and read excerpts of her writing at her website.



Doppelganger — (2006) These were originally published as Doppelganger and Warrior and Witch, but they have ben re-released by Orbit as Warrior and Witch. Publisher: When a witch is born, a doppelganger is created. For the witch to master her powers, the twin must be killed. But what happens when the doppelganger survives? Mirage, a fierce bounty hunter, lives by her wits and lethal fighting skills. She always gets her mark. But her new mission will take her into the shadowy world of witches, where her strength may be no match against magic. Miryo is a witch who has just failed her initiation test. She now knows that there is someone in the world who looks like her, who is her: Mirage. To control her powers and become a full witch, Miryo has only one choice. To hunt the hunter and destroy her.

Marie Brennan book review Doppelganger 1. Warrior 2. WitchMarie Brennan book review Doppelganger 1. Warrior 2. Witch

Doppelganger (Warrior): Marie Brennan’s debut shows promise

Readers’ average rating:

Doppelganger (Warrior) by Marie Brennan

I picked up Doppelganger (Warrior) because Marie Brennan is a graduate student at Indiana University where I also went to grad school, so I felt a connection there. (How she's managing to write novels while in grad school, I'll never know!) Overall, Doppelganger is a good debut.

At first the story follows the separate lives of Mirage, a kick-butt warrior who has recently graduated from warrior school and makes her living by being commissioned for various dangerous tasks, and Miryo, a witch who has been in school and has just failed her "final exam" because of the existence of Mirage, the doppelganger. Every witch has a doppelganger who is supposed to be killed while they are babies so that the magic power can be controlled by the witch. Because Mirage was not killed, Miryo must hu... Read More

The Onyx Court

The Onyx Court — (2008-2010) Publisher: England flourishes under the hand of its Virgin Queen: Elizabeth, Gloriana, last and most powerful of the Tudor monarchs. But a great light casts a great shadow. In hidden catacombs beneath London, a second Queen holds court: Invidiana, ruler of faerie England, and a dark mirror to the glory above. In the thirty years since Elizabeth ascended her throne, fae and mortal politics have become inextricably entwined, in secret alliances and ruthless betrayals whose existence is suspected only by a few. Two courtiers, both struggling for royal favor, are about to uncover the secrets that lie behind these two thrones. When the faerie lady Lune is sent to monitor and manipulate Elizabeth’s spymaster, Walsingham, her path crosses that of Michael Deven, a mortal gentleman and agent of Walsingham’s. His discovery of the “hidden player” in English politics will test Lune’s loyalty and Deven’s courage alike. Will she betray her Queen for the sake of a world that is not hers? And can he survive in the alien and Machiavellian world of the fae? For only together will they be able to find the source of Invidiana’s power — find it, and break it… A breathtaking novel of intrigue and betrayal set in Elizabethan England; Midnight Never Come seamlessly weaves together history and the fantastic to dazzling effect.

Marie Brennan The Onyx Court: 1. Midnight Never Come 2. In Ashes LieMarie Brennan The Onyx Court: 1. Midnight Never Come 2. In Ashes Lie 3. A Star Shall FallMarie Brennan The Onyx Court: 1. Midnight Never Come 2. In Ashes Lie 3. A Star Shall FallMarie Brennan The Onyx Court: 1. Midnight Never Come 2. In Ashes Lie 3. A Star Shall Fall 4. With Fate Conspirefantasy and science fiction book reviews

Midnight Never Come: Glittering courts

Readers’ average rating:

Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan

Midnight Never Comeis the story of two courts, and of two courtiers who must uncover a deadly secret that threatens both mortal and faerie England. Lune is a disgraced lady of the faerie court, trying to win her way back into the good graces of the cruel Queen Invidiana. Michael Deven is a young gentleman of Elizabeth I's retinue, working with Elizabeth's spymaster Walsingham to sniff out a "hidden player" in English politics. Neither is quite prepared for what they discover.

Marie Brennan has a lovely, elegant prose style that lends itself well to describing the glittering courts. There's a certain "iciness" to it, a certain emotional distance between reader and characters, at least at first. Later in the book, emotion does bleed through, unmistakable even when it's described with great restraint. And speaking of restraint, Midnight Never... Read More

In Ashes Lie: This is a story about power

Readers’ average rating:

In Ashes Lie by Marie Brennan

In Ashes Lie continues the story of the Onyx Court, a faerie city situated just below London, and the Court's dealings with London's mortals. Lune, who became queen of the Onyx Court in Midnight Never Come, reigns still. Her mortal consort, Michael Deven, is long dead. Lune has chosen another man to act as her official consort and liaison with the mortal world, but the role is political only.

In Ashes Lie follows Lune and her allies through the end of Charles I's troubled reign, Oliver Cromwell's rise to power, and the eventual restoration of the monarchy. Running alongside this mortal politicking, dangerous plots are afoot in the faerie court. As you might guess by the novel's title, the climactic events take place during the Great Fire of 1666, which thr... Read More

A Star Shall Fall: For fans of historical fantasy

Readers’ average rating:

A Star Shall Fall by Marie Brennan

From the celestial heights the arbitrary acts of life seem patterned like a fairy-tale landscape, populated by charming and eccentric figures. The glittering observers require vital doses of joy and pain, sudden reversals of fortune, dire portents and untimely deaths. Life itself proceeds in its unpredictable infinite patterns — so unlike the measured dance of stars — until, for the satisfaction of their entertainment, the watchers choose a point at which to stop.

That’s a quote from Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint, but I kept thinking of it while reading A Star Shall Fall. It’s part of the nature of the ONYX COURT series that the books are tightly focused on specif... Read More

With Fate Conspire: Heartrending

Readers’ average rating:

With Fate Conspire by Marie Brennan

The Onyx Court is crumbling. The gradual demolition of the London Wall dealt the first blow to the faerie palace beneath the city. Now the Underground is hammering in the coffin nails, its iron rails ripping through the fabric of the palace. Queen Lune has not been seen in years. The elegant court is no more, and ruthless mob bosses rule in the sinister Goblin Market. Now, the Underground’s Inner Circle is nearing completion and may destroy what’s left of the Onyx Court forever.

The fate of the faerie city lies in the hands of three unlikely heroes, all of them from society’s lower classes. Eliza is a street vendor, later a maid, who faces anti-Irish prejudice in mortal London while searching for her lost sweetheart, Owen, who was taken by the faeries seven years ago. Dead Rick is a skriker (dog shapeshifter, death omen) who was once a loyal Quee... Read More

Memoirs of Lady Trent

Memoirs of Lady Trent — (2013- ) Publisher: Marie Brennan begins a thrilling new fantasy series in A Natural History of Dragons, combining adventure with the inquisitive spirit of the Victorian Age. You, dear reader, continue at your own risk. It is not for the faint of heart — no more so than the study of dragons itself. But such study offers rewards beyond compare: to stand in a dragon’s presence, even for the briefest of moments — even at the risk of one’s life — is a delight that, once experienced, can never be forgotten… All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day. Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsThe Tropic of Serpents: A Memoir by Lady Trent (A Natural History of Dragons)fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsWithin the Sanctuary of Wings: A Memoir by Lady Trent (The Lady Trent Memoirs) Kindle Edition by Marie Brennan  (Author)

A Natural History of Dragons: A great start to a great series

Readers’ average rating:

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent  by Marie Brennan

I’m not going to start at the beginning with A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan; I’m going to start before the beginning — at the cover. Why? Because it’s gorgeous: a beautifully drawn, silver and blue and grey hued dragon walking on all fours, its left front and right hind leg in the process of moving forward; its powerful legs, erect head, out-thrust chest, and soaring wings proclaiming its power; while the back half has been illustratively flayed to reveal its carefully numbered and delineated muscles, bones, and layers of underskin that create that power. It looks ripped right out of Gray’s Anatomy (the text, not the show). The interior illustrations, also by Todd Lockwood, are equally beautiful, losing little in their shift to simple black and white lines. I wish more fantasy ... Read More

The Tropic of Serpents: A wonderfully beguiling voice

Readers’ average rating:

The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan

In my review of Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons, I wrote that Brenan had me immediately with Lady Trent’s “wry, rebellious, sardonic voice,” but that the novel lost its edge about 100 pages in and never quite fully recovered, leaving me somewhat dissatisfied. I’m happy to say that the sequel, The Tropic of Serpents, kept that wonderfully beguiling voice, but managed to smooth out the problems with pacing, managing a follow-up that improves upon its predecessor.

As in book one, Lady Trent must overcome Victorian (literally, the novels are set in a Victorian world, with Scirling standing in for England) mores in order to embark on a journey of discovery into a foreign and most likely dangerous land. Society’s fea... Read More

Voyage of the Basilisk: Science and curiosity

Readers’ average rating:

Reposting to include Jana's new review.

Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

Warning: Some inevitable spoilers for the previous novels, A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, will follow.

Voyage of the Basilisk: A Memoir by Lady Trent (2015) is the third in Marie Brennan’s series A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS, and I found it falling somewhere between books one and two in terms of the reading experiences (better than the first, but not quite as good as the second). As always in this series, the narrative voice is the strongest aspect and managed to (mostly) outweigh the book’s weaknesses.

Readers will most likely note the resemblanc... Read More

In the Labyrinth of Drakes: Come for the dragons, stay for the voice

Readers’ average rating:

In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan

In the Labyrinth of Drakes is the fourth book in the MEMOIRS BY LADY TRENT series by Marie Brennan, and in terms of quality I’d place it just behind the second one, The Tropic of Serpents, which so far is my favorite. And if it has a few of the same issues that have detracted from prior books, as always, these are outweighed by the wonderful voice of the narrator, which is really the number one reason for picking up this series.

As has been the pattern, In the Labyrinth of Drakes sees Lady Trent looking back on a trip to yet another foreign setting in order to study the native dragon species. And again, as usual, other issues arise that complicate her endeavor. In this case, the setti... Read More

Within the Sanctuary of Wings: A fitting, if too-soon, conclusion

Readers’ average rating:

Within the Sanctuary of Wings by Marie Brennan

Bill Capossere: Plotting and pace have always been the sticking points for me in the MEMOIRS OF LADY TRENT series by Marie Brennan, the reasons why the individual books have never climbed above a four-star rating for me and have at times dipped to three and a half. But what has never flagged for me has been my appreciation of that wonderful narrative voice, that of Lady Trent herself. Voice is the reason I kept reading these novels, and voice is what has finally led me here to the fifth and supposedly final one, Within the Sanctuary of Wings (2017). And once again, I find that while issues of plot and pace raise their heads once more, I’m willing to (mostly) overlook them just to bask for perhaps the last time in that ar... Read More

Magazine Monday: A Summer’s Worth of Apex Magazine

Readers’ average rating:

Apex Magazine is an online magazine I’ve reviewed once before, stating some reservations about the change in editorial command. I’m happy to report that the summer’s issues indicate that the magazine is as strong as ever. The June, July and August issues contain something to satisfy nearly every fantasy reader.

The August issue opens with the stunning “Waiting for Beauty” by Marie Brennan. This twist on the classic fairy tale “The Beauty and the Beast” will stop your breath. The devotion of the Beast to his Beauty is transcendent and sad.

Kat Howard’s “Murdered Sleep” is equally extraordinary, though in a completely different way.  Kora has long heard rumors of an impossibly wonderful party, full of masks and decadence. One day she receives an invitation:  ... Read More

SFM: Link, Hand, Marr, Kingfisher, Brennan

Short Fiction Monday: Here are a few of the short stories we read this week, all of which are free to read online.

“The Summer People” by Kelly Link (February 2015, free online at Wall Street Journal, also included in her anthology Get in Trouble)

“The Summer People” is the first story in Kelly Link’s new story collection Get in Trouble. Fran is a teenager living in a rural part of the American southeast. Her mother is gone, and she is neglected by her moonshiner father. While Fran is running a fever of 102 with the flu, her father informs her that he has to go “get right with God.” On his way ... Read More

SFM: Vaughn, Brennan, Campbell, Anders

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. 

“Doctor Kitty Solves All Your Love Problems” by Carrie Vaughn (2001, originally published in Weird Tales 324 (Summer 2001), free on the author’s website)

Kitty Norville is a radio DJ with a late night call-in show, focusing on questions dealing with the supernatural: werewolves, vampires, witches, psychics, etc., in a world where these types of beings have come out to the public. Most of her callers want help... Read More

SFM: Brennan, Edelstein, Kress, Sterling, Sobin, Grant

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about.

“From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review” by Marie Brennan (2016, free at, 99c Kindle version)

Have a little pity for the editors of the Falchester Weekly Review — when they published Mr. Benjamin Talbot’s news that he had recently come into po... Read More

SFM: Castro and Zinos-Amaro, Brennan, Banker, Robson

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we've read that we wanted you to know about. 

“The Mouth of the Oyster” by Adam-Troy Castro & Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Nov. 2017, free at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 99c Kindle magazine issue)

In the aftermath of a deadly plague that struck their area in ancient China, the narrator and his wife, Li-Fan, are among the survivors. But the plague has left its mark on them: the narrator has lost his sight but is otherwise still a healthy man; Li-Fan is frailer and weak... Read More

Best of SFM 2017

Best of Short Fiction Monday: For our New Year's Day SFM column, we’re listing (in alphabetical order) our favorite short fiction works, both old and new, that we reviewed in our 2017 SFM columns and rated 4.5 or 5 stars. The title links are to the original, full SFM review.

Alexandria” by Monica Byrne (2017, Fantasy & Science Fiction Jan/Feb 2017 issue): Byrne’s details paint a full, three-dimensional picture of a marriage; a husband who is not physically demonstrative in public, in-laws who never set aside their suspicions of him, and the love Keiji and Beth feel for each other. I was expecting an interesting story with a lighthouse at its center; I got a powerful meditation on the nature of love.

... Read More

Fifth Annual FOGCon + Giveaway!

Last month Marion and I attended FOGCon 5 in Walnut Creek, California (in the San Francisco Bay area) where I served on a panel called “When the Setting is a Character.” FOGCon, which stands for Friends of the Genre Convention, has a literary bent. Marion and I are going to discuss our experience here, and we've got a book to give away to a commenter.

Marion, what did you think of your first FOGCon?

Terry, I expected FOGCon to be fun because you recommended it, but this conference exceeded my expectations! From the Walnut Creek Marriott Hotel staff – consistently helpful, friendly and cheerful – to the thoughtful and varied panels, this was a great weekend. And I love that they had a “Ghost of Honor,” Joanna Russ, devoting an... Read More

Marie Brennan and Mary Robinette Kowal on the Brave New Worlds Tour

I had the chance to see Marie Brennan and Mary Robinette Kowal at Copperfield's Books in Petaluma California on May 7. I have a signed copy of Kowal's Of Noble Family and a signed copy of Brennan's Voyage of the Basilisk to give away to one lucky random commenter with a U.S. address.

Mary Robinette Kowal (left, with egret feather) and Marie Brennan take questions from the audience.

“We dress like this all the time,” Mary Robinette Kowal said in response to a casual question, as she and Marie Brennan sat down at the table in Copperfield’s Books. “Mine’s really comfortable. It’s like a nightgown.”

Marie Brennan looked at her. “Mine Read More