Darkened Blade: A Fallen Blade Novel

BOOK: Darkened Blade: A Fallen Blade Novel
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“Aral the jack, formerly the noble Aral Kingslayer, is the best kind of hero: damaged, cynical, and despondent, yet needing only the right cause to rise from his own ashes.”

—Alex Bledsoe, author of
Wake of the Bloody Angel

Praise for the Fallen Blade novels


“Once again Aral and his Shade, Triss, find themselves in the middle of a royal mess—literally. Yet this time it is assassin versus assassin versus assassin. That alone promises readers some high-quality entertainment. But Kelly McCullough adds several twists, backbends, and handsprings that only a mind as devious (or demented) as his could possibly conceive.”

Huntress Book Reviews


“Kelly McCullough has once again written a magnificent story which deals with love, betrayal, and redemption.”

Fresh Fiction

“If you are seeking a fantasy unlike most others, you will not go wrong by choosing any title by this author. Kelly McCullough’s writing style is indefinable, his imagination is creative and unique, and his [plot] execution is simply exquisite!”

Huntress Book Reviews


“The second Fallen Blade fantasy stars an interesting hero with an irreverent, self-deprecating attitude . . . Fans will appreciate the magnificent McCullough mythos.”

Genre Go Round Reviews

“Full of action, fun characters, and an interesting plot.”

Whatchamacallit Reviews


“Creative world-building really helps the reader to immerse themselves . . . A strong beginning to a new fantasy-mystery hybrid series.”

Fantasy Book Critic

Broken Blade
explores a different side of dark fantasy than the typical European/medieval fare . . . I could definitely spend hundreds of pages wandering around in the wilds of McCullough’s newest creation.”

Flames Rising

Broken Blade
is a compelling read that was hard to put down . . . Mr. McCullough has the ability to make even his dastardly characters sympathetic.”

Fresh Fiction

“Filled with multifaceted characters, layered plots, and the type of quixotic scenarios that only the imagination of Kelly McCullough could possibly create. The author, once again, crosses genres . . . Stories by Kelly McCullough are one of a kind—just like him. I found Aral’s world to be compelling and highly addictive. Brilliant!”

Huntress Book Reviews

“McCullough’s atmospheric little tale of betrayal and skullduggery is brisk, confident, intelligently conceived, and suspenseful . . . With as promising a start as this, McCullough’s new series is looking like one sharp blade indeed.”

—SF Reviews.net

Broken Blade
is perfect for a fan of political/hierarchal conspiracy in a fantasy series . . . It’s also filled with some heart-pounding action . . . The story is positively bursting with excitement.”

Whatchamacallit Reviews

More praise for the novels of Kelly McCullough

“Entertaining and rapid-fire.”

San Francisco Book Review

“One long adrenaline rush.”


“Original and outstanding . . . McCullough handles his plot with unfailing invention, orchestrating a mixture of humor, philosophy, and programming insights.”

Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

“Imaginative, fascinating, with a lot of adventure thrown in.”

Fresh Fiction

“A rollicking combination of verbal humor, wild adventures, and just plain fun.”


“This fast-paced, action-packed yarn is a lot of fun . . . Weaving myth, magic, IT jargon . . . into a bang-up story.”


“McCullough has true world-building skills, a great sense of Greek mythology, and the eye of a thriller writer. The blend of technology and magic is absolutely amazing.”


“McCullough has the most remarkable writing talent I have ever read.”

Huntress Book Reviews

“The book is filled with action and suspense. The world-building is awesome, the plot intense, and there is plenty of pathos and humor.”

Three Crow Press

has all the qualities I look for in a book—a wonderfully subdued sense of humor, nonstop action, and romantic relief. It’s a wonderful debut novel.”

—Christopher Stasheff, author of
Saint Vidicon to the Rescue

“Inventive, irreverent, and fast-paced, strong on both action and humor.”

The Green Man Review

“A unique first novel, this has a charming, fresh combination of mythological, magical, and computer elements.”


“[A] fascinating world.”

MIT Science Fiction Society

Ace Books by Kelly McCullough

The WebMage Series






The Fallen Blade Series








Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China


A Penguin Random House Company


An Ace Book / published by arrangement with the author

Copyright © 2015 by Kelly McCullough.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-63823-1


Ace mass-market edition / May 2015

Cover illustration © John Jude Palencar; dragon © Shutterstock.

Cover design by Judith Lagerman.

Maps by Matthew A. Kuchta.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


For Laura, my bright shining star


Extra-special thanks are owed to Laura McCullough; Jack Byrne; Anne Sowards; Neil Gaiman; my mapmaker, Matt Kuchta; and cover artist John Jude Palencar and cover designer Judith Lagerman, who have produced wonders for me.

Many thanks also to the Wyrdsmiths: Lyda, Doug, Naomi, Bill, Eleanor, Sean, and Adam. My Web guru, Ben. Beta readers: Steph, Dave, Sari, Karl, Angie, Sean, Matt, Mandy, April, Becky, Mike, Jason, Jonna, and Benjamin. My family: Carol, Paul and Jane, Lockwood and Darlene, Judy, Lee, Kat, Jean, and all the rest. My extended support structure: Michael, Lynne, Bill, Nancy, Sara, James, Tom, Ann, Mike, Sandy, and so many more.

Penguin folks: Rebecca Brewer, Anne Sowards’s wonderful assistant; managing editor Michelle Kasper; assistant production editor Julia Quinlan; interior text designer Laura Corless; publicist Nita Basu; and my copy editor, Mary Pell.

Thanks also to the readers who’ve been so helpful in answering my crowdsourced questions about things that happened in earlier books: Allen Monette, Benjamin Billman, Chad Elstad, Dextre Tripp, Keith Williams, Taylor McCoy, Vicki Brown, Yann Le Scouarnec, and Zedd Epstein. With six Fallen Blade books in print now, it’s gotten much harder to hold it all in my head.


Praise for Kelly McCullough

Ace Books by Kelly McCullough

Title Page





Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23


Terms and Characters



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BOOK: Darkened Blade: A Fallen Blade Novel
9.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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